Page:Notes and Queries - Series 7 - Volume 9.djvu/10

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NOTES AND QUERIES. [7"> S. IX. JAN. 4, '90.

the captain's case before the reader, to enable him to decide how far Mr. Palfrey, the historian of New England, is correct, when stating that "a comparison of Smith's narrative with the authentic history of the south-east of Europe leads to conclusions on the whole favourable to its credit."[1]

With regard to Ferneza, I have been at special pains to discover the smallest scrap of evidence which would convince us that he ever existed in flesh and blood; but my labour has been in vain. No copy of his MS. is known to exist, and it does not appear to have ever been printed, or if so his book has hitherto escaped the notice of bibliographers. On the other hand, if he is a fictitious personage the choice of his nationality must be considered a lucky guess on Capt. Smith's part.

As we know, Prince Sigismund was a staunch Roman Catholic, who was carefully brought up by the Jesuits in their own school of thought. Hence during the whole of his reign the disciples of Loyola exerted a most powerful influence upon the doings of the court of Alba Julia. His confessor and principal adviser, not only in spiritual but also in political matters, was an Italian priest, Father Cariglia, and after the death of this intriguer another Jesuit, Father Marietti. The black coats were, as usual, followed by crowds of laymen from the Peninsula beyond the Alps, and Sigismund's court soon became wholly Italian. Matters became so serious that Parliament had, in 1591, to interfere and direct the Prince's attention to the enormous sums expended on his foreign favourites, and to call upon him to enforce the stringent measures decided upon by a former Parliament against the Jesuits.

A contemporary writer has preserved us a list of "the names of those Italians who at one time or other have stayed at Sigismund Buthori's Court in Transylvania."[2] But although the list is long, it may not be complete. It includes pages, painters, singers, musicians, a certain "Hannibal Romanus, secretarius Sigismundi, dono datus [sic] illi a nuncio apostolico Alphonso Visconte"; also a horse- trainer, several ball players, manufacturers of tennis balls, fencing masters, a cook, a chirurgeon, and the court fool, Sicilia ("who was well paid"), besides the names of many others. Francesco Ferneza is not mentioned in this list, but, of course, the omission may be accidental, or he may have joined the prince after the latter had left Transylvania for good.

On the other hand, it is not impossible, nay it seems very probable, that Ferneza has never been in the employ of the prince, and that his book was compiled in London, perhaps by Capt. Smith himself, in English, and that the editor of the 'Pilgrims' was hoodwinked. Purchas, as we know, published Smith's 'Adventures' in 1625, and the Hungarian and Transylvanian events were by then pretty well known in England, as Knolles-'a 'General Historic of the Turkes ' had, in 1621, already reached its third edition. When reading of Smith's wonderful doings, of battles and sieges, some of them not recorded elsewhere, one cannot help repeating Schiller's well-known lines:—

Wäre das Wahre auch neu
Wäre das Neue auch wahr.

All that is historically correct in Capt. Smith's narrative may have been borrowed by him from Knolles, and all that is new in his book and not to be found in other authors may not be true, but have been invented by the captain to embellish his tale. Indeed, everything seems to point to one conclusion, viz., that the 'True Travels and Adventures' is a pseudo-historical romance, with Capt. Smith for its author and principal hero; and one feels inclined to suspect that he has not been at all to the south-east of Europe.

If he ever had been there and taken the meanest part in the events which he professes to describe as an eye-witness, surely his ample stock of motherwit ought to have enabled him to steer clear of the many blunders with which his book literally swarms; and there was no need for his going so far astray from history.

(To be continued.)


(See 7th S. vi. 443, 517; vii. 53, 178.)

I have now for some time past been too busy tobe able to read the delightful 'N. & Q.' so attentively as I should like: but having had of late a little more leisure than usual, I have been revelling these last few days in vols. vi. and vii. of your Seventh Series, which have suggested several notes, and more especially one on dear old Robert Burton.

All lovers of Democritus Junior—and who that knows him does not love him? owe a deep debt of gratitude to Mr. Peacock for his most interesting note. There is only one inadvertence in it. After saying, rightly, that "the editions published during Burton's life do not any of them contain a complete text," he proceeds to class the fifth and sixth editions as "perfect." He must surely mean sixth and seventh, as the fifth was published in Burton's lifetime, namely, in 1638. Curiously enough, Mr. Dixon follows Mr. Peacock in this inadvertence.

Mr. Warren's letter, also, was very interesting to me—in fact, quite electrified me—for I have the same 1660 edition that he describes, with the same slip over the original publisher's name. I, too, have not dared to remove my slip; but I, too, can read the original imprint, as given by Mr. Peacock, by holding the leaf up to a strong light.

  1. History of New England,' vol. i. p. 90.
  2. Szamnsközi in the 'Monumenta Hungarian Historica.' Scriptores, vol. xxx. p. 76.