Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/174

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160
[LITERATURE
PORTUGAL


the preceding age. In 1536 the Inquisition began its work, while between 1552 and 1555 the control of higher education passed into the hands of the Jesuits. Following the Inquisition and the Jesuits came two other obstacles to the cultivation of letters, the censorship of books and the Indexes, and, as if these plagues were not enough, the Spanish domination followed. Next the taint of Gongorism appeared, and the extent to which it affected the literature of Portugal may be seen in the five volumes of the Fenix renascida, where the very titles of the poems suffice to show the utilities which occupied the attention of some of the best talents. The prevailing European fashion of literary academies was not long in reaching Portugal, and 1647 saw the foundation of the Academia dos Gencrosos which included in its ranks the men most illustrious by learning and social position, and in 1663 the Academia dos Siugulares came into being; but with all their pedantry, extravagances and bad taste, it must be confessed that these and similar corporations tended to promote the pursuit of good literature. In bucolics there arose a worthy disciple of Ribeiro in Francisco Rodrigues Lobo (q.v.), author of the lengthy pastoral romances Corte ua aldéa and Primavera, the songs in which, with his eclogues, earned him the name of the Portuguese Theocritus. The foremost literary figure of the time was the encyclopedic Francisco Manoel de Mello (q.v.), who, though himself a Spanish classic, strove hard and successfully to free himself from subservience to Spanish forms and style. Most of the remaining lyricists of the period were steeped in Gongorism or, writing in Spanish, have no place here. It suffices to mention Soror Violente do Céo, an exalted mystic called “the tenth muse, ” Bernarda Ferreira de Lacerda, author of the Soledadcs de Bussaco, the Laura do A nfrizo of Manoel Tagarro, the Sylvia de Lizardo of Frei Bernardo de Brito, and the poems of Frei Agostinho das Chagas, who, however, is better represented by his Cartas espirituaes. Satirical verse had two notable cultivators in D. Thomas de Noronha and Antonio Serrao de Castro, the first a natural and facile writer, the second the author of Os Ratos da Iuquisigao, a facetious poem composed during his incarceration in the dungeons of the Inquisition, while Diogo de Sousa Camacho showed abundant wit at the expense of the slaves of Gongorism and Marinism.

The gallery of epic poets is a large one, but most of their productions are little more than rhymed chronicles and have almost passed into oblivion. The Ulyssea of Gabriel Pereira de Castro describes the foundation of Lisbon by Ulysses, but, notwithstanding its plagiarism of The Lusiads and faults of taste, these ten cantos contain some masterly descriptive passages, and the ottava rima shows a harmony and Hexibility to which even Camoens rarely attained; but this praise cannot be extended to the tiresome Ulyssipo of Sousa de Macedo. The Malaca couquistada of Francisco de sa de Menezes, having Alphonso d'Albuquerque for its hero, is prosaic in form, if correct in design. Rodriguez Lobo's twenty cantos in honour of the Holy Constable do him no credit, but the Viriato tragieo by that travelled soldier Garcia de Mascarenhas has some vigorous descriptions, and critics reckon it the best epic of the second class.

In point of style the historians of the period are laboured and rhetorical; they were mostly credulous friars who wrote in their cells, and no longer, as in the 16th century, travellers and men of action who described what they had seen.

Frei Bernardo de Brito began his ponderous Monarchia Lusitana with the creation of man and ended it where he should have begun, with the coming of Count Henry to the Peninsula. His contribution is a mass of legends destitute of foundation or critical sense, but both here and in the Chrouica de Cister he writes a good prose. Of the four continue rs of Brito's work, three are no better than their master, but Frei Antonio Brandao, who dealt with the period from King Alphonso Henriques to King John II., proved himself a man of high intelligence and a learned, conscientious historian.

Frei Luiz de Sousa, a typical monastic chronicler, although he had begun life as a soldier, worked up the materials collected by others, and after much labor limae produced the panegyrical Vida de D. Frei Bartholemeu dos martyres, the Historia de S. Domiugos, and the Aunaes d'el rei D. Joao III. His style is lucid and vivid, but he lacks the critical sense, and the speeches he puts into the mouths of his characters are imaginary. Manoel de Faria y Sousa (q.v.), a voluminous writer on Portuguese history and the arch-commentator of Camoens, wrote, by an irony of fate, in Spanish, and Mell6's classic account of the Catalonian War is also in that language, while, by a still greater irony, lacinto Freire de Andrade thought to picture and exalt the Cato-like Viceroy of India by his grandiloquent Vida de D. Joao de Castro.

Other historical books of the period are the valuable Discursos of Severim de Faria, the Portugal restaurado of D. Luis de Menezes, conde de Ericeira, the ecclesiastical histories of Archbishop Rodrigo da Cunha, the A giologio lusitauo of Torge Cardoso and the Clirouica da Companhia de Jesus by Padre Balthazar Telles. The last also wrote an Historia da Ethiopia, and, though the travel literature of this century compares badly with that of the preceding, mention may be made of the Itinerario da India por terra até a ilha de Chipre of Frei Gaspar de S. Bernardino, and the Relagao do novo camiuho atraoés da Arabia e Syria of Padre Manoel Godinho.

In the 17th century the religious orders and especially the Jesuits absorbed even more of the activities and counted for more in the public affairs of Portugal than in the preceding age. The pulpit discharged some of the functions of the modern press, and men who combined the gifts of oratory and writing filled it and distinguished themselves, their order and their country. The Jesuit Antonio Vieira (q.v.), missionary, diplomat and voluminous writer, repeated the triumphs he had gained in Bahia and Lisbon in Rome, which proclaimed him the prince of Catholic orators. His 200 sermons are a mine of learning and experience, and they stand out from all others by their imaginative power, originality of view, variety of treatment and audacity of expression. His letters are in a simple conversational style, but they lack the popular locutions, humour and individuality of those of Mello. Vieira was a man of action, while the oratorian Manoel Bernardes lived as a recluse, hence his sermons and devotional works, especially Luz e Calor and the Nova Floresta, breathe a calm and sweetness alien to the other, while they are even richer treasures of pure Portuguese. Perhaps the truest and most feeling human documents of the century are the five epistles written by Marianna Alcoforado (q.v.) known to history as the Letters of a Portuguese Nun. Padre Ferreira de Alrneida's translation of the Bible has considerable linguistic importance, and philological studies had an able exponent in Amaro de Roboredo.

The popular theatre lived on in the Comedias de Cordel, mostly anonymous and never printed its existence would hardly be known were it not for the pieces which were placed on the Index. The popular autos that have survived are mainly religious, and show the abuse of metaphor and the conceits which derive from Gongora. All through this century Portuguese dramatists, who aspired to be heard, wrote, like Iacintho Cordeiro and Mattos Fragoso, in Castilian, though a brilliant exception appeared in the person of Francisco Manoel de Mello (q.v.), whose witty Auto do fidalgo apreudiz in redondilhas is eminently national in language, subject and treatment. Until the Restoration of 1640 the stagf remained spellbound by the Spaniards, and when a court once more came to Lisbon it preferred Italian opera, French plays, and zarzuelas to dramatic performances in the vernacular, with the result that both Portuguese authors and actors of repute disappeared.

The 18th Century.—The first part of the 18th century differs little from the preceding age except that both affectation and bad taste tended to increase, but gradually signs appeared of a literary revolution, which preceded the political and developed into the Romantic movement. Men of liberal ideas went abroad, chiefly to France, to escape the stupid tyranny that ruled in Church and state, and to their exhortation and example