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MM. Dureau de la Malle and Beulé (and, indeed, in a different way Dr. Davis also) suppose a much more important influence exercised by the Punic element in the population of Roman Carthage, than in our belief was the case.
No doubt, when Augustus carried out the designs of his predecessor Julius, and established a colony there, a large number of Africans were enrolled among the inhabitants. But nothing can be less likely than that the native population ever acquired any weight or influence except by first themselves absorbing the Roman cultivation. To hold the least office in the pettiest provincial town of Africa, the native, as a preliminary, always sunk his nationality, discarded his native tongue and native garb, and Romanised his name. Tertullian relates that the whole population of Utica at the beginning of the third Punic War, in order to exhibit their thoroughly Roman sympathies, received the consuls as they landed, attired in the Roman toga. The case of the step-son of Apuleius, so far from evincing the existence at his time of a Punic literature and Punic culture in Carthage, really shows, by the course of his step-father's argument, how exclusively the Punic-speaking population belonged to the lowest class. The young man had a corrupt taste for vulgar society, and lived exclusively among gladiators and the like. It is in proof of the extent to which his low habits had prevailed over him, that Apuleius asserts he knows nothing but Punic, except it were a little Greek picked up in childhood from his mother, whose mother-tongue it was.
Carthage even in her best days was, we believe, entirely without any literature worthy of the name. The libraries found at the sacking of the city, which the Roman senate distributed among the petty chiefs that had espoused their cause, were probably the mere ostentatious luxury of wealth affecting virtù. At any rate, the only Punic author they are known to have contained was a writer on agriculture. Hanno's curious report of his voyage, interesting as it is to us, evinces neither literary nor scientific cultivation. The great Hannibal wrote the history of a campaign; but so little did he esteem his own language, that he composed it in Greek, although Cicero tells us he was by no means a master of the latter. Neither is there any evidence of a Punic school of art. The mosaics which Dr. Davis has succeeded in removing are, we believe, undoubtedly of the Roman
as Mr. Franks has shown. That the cement to which they are attached, differs in some respects from that which is found under similar pavements in Italy, seems to prove little or nothing as to the only point at issue,—the state of the arts in the city which Scipio destroyed. But in Punic Carthage
VOL. CXIV. NO. CCXXXI.
everything was unfavourable to the growth of native art. The 'continual intercourse with the Greeks of Sicily enabled the African millionnaire easily to ornament his country house in the Dakhul Bashir with the works of foreign artists to any extent he pleased ; and when the city was taken, the public buildings were full of statues, and the temples of offerings which had all been carried away from the island, or from the south of Italy. Of course many similar objects of virtù would come into the hands of the powerful chiefs, who conducted the campaigns in which they were acquired. But the native mind would be little stimulated by the view of such productions, to imbibe the spirit which had created them. An exclusively commercial community, absorbed in the successful pursuit of material wealth, is incapable of really respecting genius, or of appreciating the value of any qualities but those which contribute to material production. These indeed will be highly developed ; and we find accordingly that not only navigation, mining, and works of irrigation were carried to a high pitch, but that the arrangements of commerce which the extended intercourse of modern nations has rendered necessary, were to a considerable extent anticipated by the Carthaginians. They alone, among all the nations of antiquity, possessed a conventional currency.
Their leather money, the precursor of modern bills of exchange, their “tesseræ hospitales,' the letters of credit of an early age, are evidence no less convincing than their widely extended factories, that they possessed the two most important elements of the commercial character, — enterprise and good faith, and that Fides Punica were words conveying very different notions to the Cornish miner and the Roman legionary. The former of these qualities set the coasts of the Mediterranean so thick with Carthaginian settlements, that long after the destruction of the metropolis, the best land along the northern coast was still in the hands of cultivators of Punic blood; and perhaps even at this day a rich harvest of Punic words would be reaped by a competent scholar who should be at the pains to search the local dialects of Malta, Corsica, Sardinia, and the Balearic Islands, and even the vulgarisms of Cadiz and Lisbon. But while attaining a material prosperity so enormous that the very spoils of it demoralised its destroyers, Carthage left no single legacy to posterity by which the human family has been enriched, except the moral to be derived from her fate, — that a nation which has no higher aim than that of growing rich, is doomed not only to certain destruction, but to as certain an oblivion.
Art. IV.- Obras completas de FERNAN CABALLERO. 13 vols.
Madrid : 1856–1859.
Our northern imaginations are apt to picture the national
genius of Spain as a wrinkled female Don Quixote, roaming in a confused and sunstricken state of mind over her boundless plains and rugged mountains, still haunting the wretched ventas of La Mancha or Estremadura, or maundering around vast monasteries and magnificent palaces crumbling to decay. This too unfavourable impression is due for the most part to the long silence which literature has observed in the Peninsula. It is long, indeed, since anything new from Spain has called for notice from foreign critics. The enthusiastic chivalry and catholicism which inspired the Autos of Calderon, the raptures of Santa Theresa, the Virgins of Murillo, the Saints of Zurbaran, and the gallants of Velasquez, has long since subsided into insignificance in the face of the literary and artistic triumphs of heretic and modern generations. Since the days of Quevedo, Spain has produced nothing worthy of the attention of a more than ordinary student of European literature. Moratin the younger composed some fine comedies in the last century in imitation of Molière ; Yriarte wrote some tolerable fables; Balmès, in the present generation, appeared for a time in the lists of religious controversy as a respectable antagonist; the name of the unfortunate Larra passed beyond Spain as a political writer who is compared by his admirers to Paul Louis Courier; but these, with one or two respectable historians like Condé or Toreno, are all the writers that occur to us as noticeable for two centuries, with the exception of a few poets of moderate pretensions.
Since the war of Independence, a band of minor poets has arisen, among whom may be noticed the names of Martinez de la Rosa, the Duke de Rivas, Breton de los Herreros, Hartzenbusch, Ventura de la Vega, Espronceda, Zorrilla, and Trueba. Of these, Espronceda and Zorrilla perhaps claim the most prominent mention; Espronceda died in 1842 at the age of thirty-one, after an agitated and wandering existence, the victim of his own passionate energy of character, as well as of the fury of the political discords of the Peninsula. He was a sort of duodecimo Byron, thoroughly Spanish in his Byronism, and even more unhappy and vehement in his passions. Zorrilla has been a prolific writer; his tales and plays and lyrics unite some of the qualities of Calderon, Lopez de Vega, and the old Roman
ceros, with the spirit of Lamartine and Victor Hugo, and passages of harmony, power and grace are not unfrequent in his pages.
In all this, however, there was little sign of genuine national inspiration; the appearance therefore of an author like Fernan Caballero, a really original writer of fictions offering vivid delineations of the manners and characters of the living populations of the most poetic province of the Peninsula, is an event in the literary history of Spain, and we may even add, in that of Europe.
Fernan Caballero is indeed but a pseudonym: the author of the novels passing under that name is understood to be a lady-partly of German descent. Her father was Don Juan Nicolas Böhl de Faber, to whose erudition Spain is indebted for a collection of ancient poetry entitled · Floresta de Rimas antiquas castellanas.' Cæcilia, the daughter of Böhl de Faber, was born
rges in Switzerland in the year 1797, and subsequently married to a Spanish gentleman-indeed, since the death of her first husband, she has successively contracted two other marriages and is now a widow. It is about twelve years since the
Gaviota,' the first published, but not the first written, of these novels, appeared in the sheets of the España,' a daily paper of Madrid. The first work of Fernan Caballero, in manuscript, was the Familia de Alvareda. The authoress first heard the story among the olive-trees on the ground where the events happened. So unpromising did the attempt seem to describe Spanish scenes in Spanish language, that Fernan Caballero, although much impressed with the tale, at first wrote it in German. She then re-wrote it in Spanish, and showed the manuscript to Washington Irving, who encouraged the writer to proceed; after some time the Gaviota' was produced, written in French as well as in Spanish, and it has slowly won its way to notice. Indeed there seems to have existed in Spain a common prejudice that neither Spanish manners nor Spanish life were fitted for that novel-literature which was prosecuted in every other part of Europe with signal success. With the exception of a few indifferent historical romances, the country of Cervantes has in modern times produced no novelist who was not a wearisome imitator of foreign models, and the few novel readers of Spain found sufficient entertainment in the translations of Sue and Dumas in the feuilletons of the newspapers.
These novels of Fernan Caballero are a great step in advance, and their merit has been more than sufficiently recognised by the literary authorities of Madrid and Seville, and received a due share of recognition at Paris and Berlin. We trust they may inaugurate a new birth of Spanish literature ; but the resuscitation of literary excellence in a country which has long been so dead to art and literature as Spain, will require a long period of time. Where there is no taste for literature, of course literature is unremunerative. That a country should be enabled to enjoy a few books in a year, it must be content some how or other to pay for a great many bad ones, and to be able to offer a fair reward to meritorious writers. This is
far from being the case in Spain, where for the most part nobody reads and therefore nobody buys. The bookseller's shop in Spain is usually crammed with old folios which the proprietor as a rule does not care to part with ; his shop is a kind of unpaid sinecure, and his books are, like the teacups in the Deserted Village,' kept principally for show. The deluded writers of new poems and new novels find their manuscripts thrown back on their hands, or growing musty on the shelves of the publishers. Did we seek for any confirmation of these views, we find it in the volumes before us, of which, notwithstanding their intrinsic merits, and the prologues of recommendation with which every volume is furnished by some literary authority, the complete edition is published at the expense of the Queen!
It needs a very slight acquaintance with the history of the literature of Europe, to know that such was not formerly the
That the spirit of romance was, in the early ages of chivalry, as active in Spain as in any part of Europe, and that the prose romances of Spain exceeded in influence those of any other country, in forming the characters of the chevaliers of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Hence it might have been foretold, that of the various kinds of novels the romantic and descriptive was the least repugnant to the old Spanish spirit; and that in order for a writer successfully to undertake such a novel, it would be necessary for him to have a passionate attachment to the national manners and characteristics, and a corresponding dislike to the foreign and the new —such are the qualities we find united in Fernan Caballero. Our surprise at the appearance of such a novelist in Spain, is lessened by the fact that the author is partly of German extraction, and that the writer shows abundant evidence of being deeply tinctured with the study of heretical romance; for quotations from Schiller and Goëthe, from Walter Scott and Bulwer, as well as Balzac, Lamartine, Dumas, Octave Feuillet and Leon Gozlan are of great frequency in her pages. The
whole collection of these tales may be divided into three classes : those which represent Andalusian life as it exists among the labradores and campesinos of the country, which are thoroughly rustic and natural in their character; those which give