1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Balaguer, Victor

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BALAGUER, VICTOR (1824–1901), Spanish politician and author, was born at Barcelona on the 11th of December 1824, and was educated at the university of his native town. His precocity was remarkable; his first dramatic essay, Pepin el jorobado, was placed on the Barcelona stage when he was fourteen years of age, and at nineteen he was publicly “crowned” after the production of his second play, Don Enrique el Dadivoso. From 1843 to 1868 he was the chief of the Liberal party in Barcelona, and as proprietor and editor of El Conseller did much to promote the growth of local patriotism in Catalonia. But it was not till 1857 that he wrote his first poem in Catalan—a copy of verses to the Virgin of Montserrat. Henceforward he frequently adopted the pseudonym of “lo Trovador de Montserrat”; in 1859 he helped to restore the “Juegos Florales,” and in 1861 was proclaimed mestre de gay saber. He was removed to Madrid, took a prominent part in political life, and in 1867 emigrated to Provence. On the expulsion of Queen Isabella, he returned to Spain, represented Manresa in the Cortes, and in 1871–1872 was successively minister of the colonies and of finance. He resigned office at the restoration, but finally followed his party in rallying to the dynasty; he was appointed vice-president of congress, and was subsequently a senator. He died at Madrid on the 14th of January 1901. Long before his death he had become alienated from the advanced school of Catalan nationalists, and endeavoured to explain away the severe criticism of Castile in which his Historia de Cataluña y de la Corona de Aragon (1860–1863) abounds. This work, like his Historia politica y literaria de los trovadores (1878–1879), is inaccurate, partial and unscientific; but both books are attractively written and have done great service to the cause which Balaguer once upheld. As a poet he is imitative: reminiscences of Quintana are noticeable in his patriotic songs, of Zorrilla in his historical ballads, of Byron in his lyrical poems. He wrote too hastily to satisfy artistic canons; but if he has the faults he has also the merits of a pioneer, and in Catalonia his name will endure.