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We will first give a specimen written by Moses, a Jewish physician, ont he birth of a prince. We give it ; not because he was a poet, but because he was a Rabbi, and as connected with this portion of our theme:
Now let the lion, that was long conceal'd,
His strength be felt, his mighty energy
"Let the wild eagle wander from his nest,
The poets of this time begin to boast of their acquaintance with Greek, Latin, and Italian classics.
Salga el leon. que estava encogido
+ "El aguila estraña. trasmude su nido
Many a poet have I scann'd;
As, my own Infante! you.*
In this collection of Baena is a curious discussion between Pero Ferrus and the Jewish Rabbis. The latter are told that the poet travelling from Alcalá was well received in the synagogues, but was greatly horrified when one morning, just as the day dawned, "a Rabbi, with a mighty long beard, and a great one-eyed Jew, whom the devil had killed in the midst of his guilt, and the Rabbi Judah, roused him with their dreadful cries-cries, he says, which would have upset a house." The Rabbis endeavour to get rid of this home-thrust by protesting that they were only at their usual matin devotions, "asking pardon for past sins and favors for the future." Thus (say they) we unite in great troops at sun-rise, chanting to the holy God of Israel. Whether the poet was satisfied with their explanation does not appear. Baena's own composition (which is often inflated and absurd) consists principally of challenges to different poets of his time to come and dispute with him on divers "subtle matters." Some he dares to answer his posing propositions, others he invites to a gracious reply, by bringing to them the most amusing and hyperbolical flattery; and he summons kings and princes to come and decide between him and his competitors; an honorary office which many of the Kings of Spain were not backward to exercise. Of the way in which these literary gauntlets were thrown down, an example will not be out of place here, though we shall have occasion again to introduce them.
"To all who have a sharp and ready wit
* En muchos. poetas ley
To all besides, to those who garnish o'er
And tell me, Sirs; yes! let your wisdom tell
Who well shall answer, ev'n by accident,
"A todos aquellos que son muy agudos en la poetria. que saben trobar
a todos los otros. que saben trobar
Quien bien rrespondiere. quiça por ventura
In concluding our inquiries into the Hebrew poetical literature of Spain, in the fifteenth century, we must not omit to notice Vidal Ben Solomon who wrote an exposition of the Jewish faith, under the title "Golden Poetry of David," which was translated into Latin by Wolfius. Moses Ben Chahib composed, about the same time, his " Medicine of the Tongue," which Buxtorff often refers to in his history of Hebrew poetry. Chasdai Kreskas, of Zaragoza, made some poetical translations from the Arabic. Joseph Ezobi, and others, belong to this era, and Isaac Abarbanel, (the Hebrew lion,) though no poet, ought not to be passed over without the introduction, at least, of his name.
And here we must abandon the Spanish Jews. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, their history is one of varied sufferings. The fifth Ferdinand consummated and condensed the injustice and the barbarism of the worst of his predecessors. The banishment of the whole Jewish nation was speedily determined by the first Inquisitor General, and the same was carried into effect with a brutality, whose consequences to its victims are too horrible for contemplation.
There is in the poetry of Spain a singular compound of simplicity and affectation-of labored absurdity, and of free and flowing genius; and as the whimsical peculiarities, which have been often considered as the unerring marks of poetical superiority, seem to attach to no particular class nor era, we shall amuse our readers with a few examples. The seclusion of monastic habits has been the prime cause of all this ingenious and unworthy trifling. Time is of little value to him whose wants are provided for-who takes no thought for the morrow-who has no worldly ambition-whose path is pleasantness on earth -and whose way is clear for heaven. Friendly as have been, on some occasions, the cells of the monastery to deep and elaborate research, and certain as it is that we owe to their solitary retirements very much of the information which lived through the long and dreary centuries of ignorance and misery; they have served, on the other hand, to direct the noblest energies of the mind to the gathering together of cobwebs, and to the pursuit of objects, the most ridiculous and the most unimportant. Shut out from all exercise of the affectionate sympathies-deprived of the means of estimating the value of any one branch of knowledge by the quantity of utility it produces; -necessarily indifferent, perhaps opposed, to the only safe maxim of Christian benevolent exertion, to provide for the greatest happiness of the greatest number, their views and their efforts have always been contracted to a narrow sphere, directed to only a few, and these frequently absurd, pursuits, which they have followed with perfect intensity of application, and a complete concentration of the powers of their minds. In such a
state, whatever be the immediate subject of thought and feeling, soon becomes all important-self-love exaggerates-habit ministers to its tyranny over the character. In the convents of the Peninsula, curious instances of this misapplication of time have fallen under our notice. We knew a worthy Geronimite friar, all whose life was devoted to rearing young canary birds, and whose prime delight it was to measure the width of their gaping mouths; another,―a Franciscan inquisitor, (the pride of his convent and the glory of his native place,) whose thoughts by day, and dreams by night, were all directed to the construction of a wooden orrery; and a pretty uncouth piece of machinery it was, as much like the system of the universe as our monk was like Newton. Every convent has had its company of triflers; and among these we will select, as an instance, Pedro Compostelano, who, in the twelfth century, amused himself and edified posterity with poetry such as this:
"Cum vitio nuper proprio caro victa pareret;
We select these for the curious entanglement of rhyme.
"O juvenis, captusque catenis carnis obesæ
Te læsæ. Cor habes? Tabes. Scis quod morieris ?
Et superis cariturus eris, si verba puellæ
Bellæ corde tuo fatuo sectaveris? illa
Stilla manu quamvis pravis blanditur ocellis
Spain has given us some of the most elaborate specimens of this absurd and wretched patchwork. We have now before us a little MS. volume of verses, written on occasion of the death of the queen of Charles II., which are wholly composed of acrostics, hieroglyphics, and labored pieces of childishness. The words" Maria Luisa de Borbon" are introduced in every way that ingenuity can conceive. In some of the sonnets, every line both begins and ends with the same letter. In others, an echo of Ay! Ay! (Alas! Alas!) is introduced with singular and affected repetition. One or two are worth preserving, as specimens of the way in which the learned of those days wasted away their hours and days. They serve, too, as a