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Of Sheridan's procrastination and utter The destruction of Drury Lane thearecklessness of all economy, many stories | tre by fire was a most momentous disare related. Professor Smyth states that aster for Sheridan, and doubtless precihe was one morning waiting for him in pitated his affairs into that state of his ante-room, when casting his eye absolute ruin towards which they had upon a table covered with letters, manu- long been tending. When he heard of scripts, pamphlets and other miscella- | the catastrophe he was in the House of neous papers, he observed that the Commons, and stoically remained there letters were mostly unopened, and that for some time engaged in the public even some of them in this state bad business. Afterwards he repaired to coronets on the seal. He remarked to Drury Lane; saw the entire destruction Mr. Westley, the treasurer of Drury of his property, but manifested great Lane, who was also waiting in the fortitude and composure. is said, room, that Sheridan apparently treated that as he sat for awhile at the Piazza all alike,-wafer or coronet, pauper or Coffee House, taking some refreshment peer, the letters seemed equally un- during the fire, a friend of his having
Just so,” said the treasurer, remarked on the philosophic calmness "indeed, last winter I was occupying with which he bore his misfortune, myself much as you are doing now, and Sheridan answered, “A man may surely what should I discover but a letter from be allowed to take a glass of wine by myself, unopened like the rest—a letter his own fireside.” Moore discredits which I knew contained a £10 note. this story, but it may be readily adThe history was this: I had received mitted that it is not unlike the man, a note from Mr. Sheridan, dated Bath, On the dissolution of Parliament and headed with the words, “Money after the session of 1812, Sheridan bound,' and entreating me to send him found himself without money to secure the first £10 I could lay my hands on. his re-election. The rest of his life This accordingly I did. In the mean- was an accumulation of miseries and time I suppose some one had given him anxieties. His severe losses, his deep a cast in his carriage up to town, and involvements, embittered his declining his application to me had never more days, and hastened his melancholy end. been thought of; and therefore there Over the neglected wretchedness of his lay my letter, and would have continued last hours we will not linger. The to lie till the house-maid would have kindly, careless soul-its generous geswept it with the rest into the fire, if I nialities now all shrunken and defaced had not accidentally seen it.” Mr. -is at length left friendless in the days Smyth subsequently told this story to of his adversity. Arrested on his deathSheridan's valet, Edwards, and sug- bed for debt, he finally shuffles off this gested to him the desirability of looking mortal coil, and leaves his embarrassafter the letters. Edwards replied- ments behind him. In the bright July “What can I do for such a master ? weather of 1816, he died in quite abject The other morning I went to settle his condition; and they gave him a splendid room after he had gone out, and on funeral for compensation-royal and throwing open the windows, found them noble hands, that ministered not to his stuffed up with papers of different kinds, distress, bearing up the pall! He rests and among them bank notes; there had now in Westminster Abbey, our English been a high wind in the night, the Pantheon of great men. There have windows I suppose had rattled; he had been many greater, many worthier; but come in quite intoxicated, and, in the among the considerablemen of the dark, for want of something better, eighteenth century, his country may stuffed the bank notes into the case- justly reckon him. Be his faults, then, ment; and as he never knows what he charitably scanned, and such virtues has in his pocket or what he has not, and rare endowments as he had cheerthey were never afterwards missed.” fully acknowledged and remembered.
MIGUEL DE CERVANTES SAAVEDRA. The peculiarities of national character the romancists, verily their name is are ever visibly impressed upon the na- Legion.” They offer to the attention tional literature. It is very interesting of the student a mine of unexplored to study the varied characteristics thus wealth; much that is worthless, proshadowed forth. In the literature of bably, but still, amid all, many fair England, we observe the practical com- jewels in their strange, wild incidents, mon sense, the high moral tone, the true and abounding wit and humour, and just sentiment which distinguish In the galaxy of Spanish authors, the English people ; in that of France there is one“ bright and particular we are presented with a sparkling mir- star,” that in brilliancy outshines all ror of a clever and volatile nation, and the rest. Lope de Vega and Calderon the literature of Germany bears the are familiar names, but Cervantes is impress of the deep thought, poetical a “household word.” The works of feeling and delicious dreamy mysticism the former adorn our libraries, we study for which the German people stand pre- and admire them; but the Knight of eminent; for to them was given the La Mancha, and Sancho Panza, are "empire of the air.” Nor are the pro- enshrined evermore in our memories. ductions of Spanish writers less charac- “Don Quixote” has not only attained teristic. Standing as it were apart, in- an unrivalled popularity in Spain; it sulated amid the brotherhood of nations, has, moreover, achieved a world-wide but little visited by tourists, its inha- reputation, and found a welcome and a bitants not addicted to travel, Spain has home amongst all people in all classes, been, until quite lately, the country whatever their age or country. There least known to foreigners of all in can be no better proof of its intrinsic Europe. It might, therefore, be well worth than this. Some one has well imagined, that her literature should be said, that Genius is cosmopolitan ; that still more striking in individuality, and its utterances are expressed in one rich in distinctive character.
broadly comprehensive and universal The people of Spain are generous and language: that its dictates are inscribed impulsive, proud beyond measure, truly, upon one fair and far-flashing scroll, passionate, impetuous, but hospitable to raised high in, the sight of all the nastrangers, firm in friendship, and con- tions, like the unfurled banner of the stant in love. They have much of ori- regal night with the profusion of its ental indolence. Their conversation is starry splendours. We do, indeed, find tinged with eastern hyperbole. Their that the revelations of genius meet with devotion oversteps the bounds of intel- recognition and sympathy, not only in ligent belief; but, as a whole, they are the land where they first arose, but amid in truth a gallant and chivalric nation. all people, wherever there is a heart to These constituent elements of character love and appreciate, and a soul to comare admirably developed in the national prehend. literature, which is especially rich in The early history of MIGUEL DE CERballad poetry, in the drama and ro- VANTES SAAVEDRA is involved in some mance. As might be anticipated, the obscurity. His family, although poor, Spanish have but few writers on theo- appears to have been originally noble; logy and philosophy, although they pos- for according to the learned Marquis de sess an abundance of devotional works, Mondejar, it was equal in distinction to in the form of Guides and Manuals. any in Europe. Of little consequence Among the earliest valuable specimens this truly; we ever hold to our faith of Spanish literature, may be mentioned that genius is the best patent of nothe true spirit-stirring ballads illustra- bility, and shall not, therefore, trouble tive of the history of the Cid, already ourselves to trace our author's geneafamiliar to the English reader through logical tree, through interminable ramithe admirable translation of Mr. Lock- fications. The subject of our memoir hart.
Spain has produced no really was the younger son of Rodrigo de Cergreat poet, if we except the dramatists; vantes, and his wife, Dona Leonor de although many of the effusions of Bos- Cortinas. He was born in Alcala de can, Garcilaso, Mendoza, and Ponce de Henares, in October, 1547. Madrid, Leon, are exquisite in their way. As to Seville, and other cities, have disputed
as to which of them might claim the it is most natural to conclude that his honour of having been his birth-place. instructions were anterior to this period; It seems, however, that he was baptized and that either as a private master, or on the 9th of October, in the parish out of Madrid, he had taught his celechurch of Alcala, dedicated to Santa brated scholar, so far as to call him Maria la Mayor. This fact has been with propriety his disciple, after he had established in the most authentic and been only eight months presiding in convincing manner_" del modo mas the above-mentioned chair-aconjecture autentico y convincente.” It is sup- that admits of entire confirmation, it posed that the early education of Cer- being certain that Cervantes, as he has vantes was conducted beneath the pa- himself informed us, studied two years rental roof; but this is not certainly in Salamanca, and matriculated in that known. He displayed a deep love of University, and resided in the Calle de poetry and the drama from childhood; los Moros." Hence his intimate acand so great a passion for reading, that quaintance with the peculiar features he treasured carefully the torn frag- of that city and its student-life, so ments of written paper which he found graphically delineated in the second in the streets. Notwithstanding these part of the “Don Quixote,” in the indications of the student, we ever fancy story of the “ Licentiate of Glass” and the young Cervantes, as a boy among other portions of his writings. His boys, simple, frank, good-natured, a first poetical efforts meeting with approhearty lover of fun, and ready at all bation, Cervantes was induced to give times for frolic and adventure.
to the world further specimens in the He studied grammar and the belles- form of sonnets, romances, and a paslettres, under Juan Lopez de Hoyas, toral called “ Filena,” which has been a learned ecclesiastic of Madrid; and lost. made considerable progress while under These first flowerings of genius the tuition of this master, advancing doubtless attracted some notice in the also in the development of his poetical literary circles of Madrid. In the faculties. It appears that Juan Lopez, autumn of 1568, at the period of the “ being charged with the arrangement queen's funeral, Cervantes visited the of the histories, allegories, emblems and capital. About the same time the papal inscriptions, which were directed to be legate, Aquaviva, arrived, with compliplaced in the church of the Descalzas ments of condolence from Pope Pius Reales in celebration of the magnificent V. to Philip II., on the death of the obsequies of the Queen Isabel de Valois, Prince Don Carlos, who had perished in in that town, on the 24th of October, prison the previous July. The court of 1568, employed his scholars in these Rome had also given instructions to compositions. Some were in Latin, and the legate, for the purpose of obtaining others in Castilian. Among these redress in some case in which the scholars, Cervantes was one of the most king's ministers had trespassed upon distinguished.” The history published the ecclesiastical jurisdiction. Neither by Lopez, detailing the circumstances of mission was agreeable to Philip. He the last illness, death, and funeral of had expressly commanded that no one this princess, contains many tributes to should presume to condole with him her memory from the pen of the young on the decease of his son, whose myspoet; and among these an elegy of con- terious death, so shortly followed by siderable merit, dedicated to the Car- that of the queen, gave much reason for dinal Espinosa, inquisitor general. In conjecture and suspicion. Certain it is the course of the work, Hoyas frequently that Monseignor Aquaviva received his refers to his pupil, affectionately desig- passport on the 2nd of December, with nating him su caro y amado dis- an order that he should depart for Italy cipulo.”
within sixty days. He did go accord. • The common opinion has been that ingly, taking with him in his suite, as it was at Madrid that Cervantes prose-chamberlain, our Cervantes, who had cuted his studies with Juan Lopez; but probably gained his attention through considering that Lopez did not ob- his copy of verses dedicated to the Cartain the chair of grammar and belles- dinal Espinosa, for the legate was a lettres in that city until the 29th of decided lover of literature and delighted January, 1568, when Cervantes was to encourage genius. already more than twenty years of age, Spanish nobility considered it no de
The young gradation to serve thus in the house- discouraged by this untoward result, the holds of the high ecclesiastical digni- following year the pope entered into a taries. It was a means of attaining to league with the king of Spain and the church preferments. By so doing, Diego republic of Venice, and more troops Hurtado de Mendoza, and Francisco were sent out against the Turks in the Pacheco, were enabled to prosecute their summer of 1571, under the conduct of studies in Rome; and it is most proba- Don John of Austria. ble that our author accompanied Aqua
In October of the same year, the viva chiefly in order to see the world, famous decisive battle of Lepanto was and gain that practical knowledge of fought, in which the Christians obtained society in all its varieties which he a signal victory. Cervantes being ill afterwards turned to so valuable an with ague, just before the contest, his account. Every town and city of note captain and comrades wished to dissuade through which he passed, formed the him from taking part in the engagement. subject of his minute observation; and He replied with generous pride, that he he deemed nothing with reference to would rather die fighting for God scenery and character beneath his no- and his king, than conserve his health tice to remark and to remember. And at the price of an action so cowardly in so should all artists regard life. In seeming." He fought most heroically every situation, however apparently in the hottest of the conflict, and carmean, in the by-paths and hedges as ried with him to the grave the memorials well as by the broad high-ways, the of that famous day; for, besides several “ watching mind” may garner up in the other wounds, it was in this engagevast treasure-house of memory, stores of ment that Cervantes lost his left hand. thought, association and incident, for These honourable wounds were highly future use and future triumphs. valued by our hero as testimonials of
Cervantes did not remain long under his bravery, and he ever remembered the roof of Aquaviva. His ardent, with pride and pleasure the victory of restless spirit, soon sought some more Lepanto, esteeming it better for the congenial occupation. In the following soldier “ to die nobly on the battle-field, year we learn, he entered into the than to secure his life through abandonSpanish military service in Italy; thus ment of duty." embracing a profession according to his On the night following the battle, the idea more noble and suited to his birth. fleet retired to the adjacent port of To use his own expressions, “the ex. Petela to repair the damages sustained ercise of arms, although honourable in by the vessels, and to attend to the neall
, is yet more peculiarly adapted to cessities of the sick and wounded. The those of illustrious birth and of gentle weak state of health, from which Cerblood.”
vantes then suffered, of course greatly He was soon called into active ser- aggravated the irritation occasioned by vice, for the Grand Turk having broken his wounds. The next day Don John his treaty with the Venetian republic, visited the invalid soldiers, and rewarded by an attack upon the island of Cyprus, all who had distinguished themselves, the Venetians implored assistance from ordering three crowns above his ordiall Christian princes; and more especially nary pay to be given to Miguel de from his holiness the pope, who forth- Cervantes Saavedra with despatched an expedition to the The Christians took advantage of rescue, under the command of Marco their victory by endeavouring to blockAntonio Colonna, Duke of Paliano. ade the Turks in the Dardanelles. They The united forces, those of Venice, took possession of the castles of Lepanto Spain and the Papal States, set sail and Santa Maura ; after which, in consefrom Italy, in the summer of 1570.quence of the advancing season, and the Miguel de Cervantes served as private number of their invalids, they returned soldier in the company of the Captain to Messina on the 31st of October, and Diego de Urbino. Dissensions among were received with all solemnities and the commanding generals seem to have demonstrations of gladness, due to so been the cause of the unsuccessful issue glorious a triumph. Cervantes entered of this expedition. The Turks took the hospital of Messina, and continued Nicosia by assault, and tempestuous there until the spring of 1572, when he weather obliged the allies to put back joined the regiment of Don Lope de to their respective ports. Far from being Figueroa, at Corfu,
In the September of this year, the In the course of these campaigns, our confederates directed their forces against author visited all the principal cities of Algiers; their league with the Venetians Italy, and acquired an intimate acbeing dissolved on account of the dis- quaintance with the Italian lauguage honourable conduct of the latter. Don and literature; a knowledge he turned John, with twenty thousand soldiers, to excellent account in his writings, among whom was Cervantes, set sail for thus increasing the resources of his own Tunis, on the 24th. The object of the native Castilian. He also studied well Prince was to dethrone Aluch-Ali
, and the best models of antiquity, and his to restore Muley Mahomet, “ thus de- mind was stored with varied experiences priving the Corsairs of their favourite and richest thought, more to be prized stronghold.” Philip II., however, had than all the subtleties and abstractions far different ends in view, in sanctioning of the schools. Notwithstanding these this expedition. He coveted for him- undoubted acquirements, there self the sovereignty of Algiers. The many envious contemporaries of Cerforces landed at Goleta in October, and vantes (accomplished sciolists, truly !) finding the garrison abandoned they who dignified him with the title of took possession of the fortress. Tunis "ignoramus," because he was not learned was also taken. Here again our hero in the sense in which they, forsooth! ungreatly distinguished himself
, and was derstood the term. Their idea of a appointed to a station in the island of savant being limited to one who had Cerdena. Don John having obtained obtained a doctor's degree, and other permission to return to Spain, was on high university honours. his way thither, when he received notice Such is a slight sketch of the military that his presence was required in Italy. career of Cervantes, during the time he This was in the early part of 1574. fought, to use his own words,“ beneath During his absence the Turks arrived the conquering banners of the son of with fresh forces, to reconquer Goleta that thunderbolt of war, Charles V., of and Tunis. They succeeded in both happy memory.' Finding that his attempts. Goleta was taken by assault, services were far from being adequately after a long and cruel siege, and most remunerated, he resolved to solicit in vigorous defence, Tuniswas re-captured Spain the recompense he so richly dein twenty days. The news of these re- served. He accordingly set sail from verses occasioned much annoyance to Naples, in company with his brother Don John. He sent reinforcements, but Rodrigo, the late Governor of Goleta, violent storms compelled the fleet to and other distinguished officers. Don take refuge in the Sicilian ports. It John gave him letters of recommendaappears that Cervantes remained in gar- tion to Philip II., praying his majesty rison with his regiment at Cerdena, to confer upon him the command of a from the end of 1573, to the May of company, in some regiment, as a reward the succeeding year ; that " thence he due to his signal bravery. Don Carlos sailed to Genoa, in the ships of Marcello de Aragon, Duke of Sesa, presented him Doria, to await in Lombardy the orders also with testimonials to the king. of Don John of Austria, who at the be- The bright home-visions of the reginning of August, when he sailed from turning Spaniards were soon dashed to Spain, took with him that regiment to earth. They were attacked by pirates, Naples and Majorca, and reinforced and after a gallant defence were obliged with his best soldiers, the ships, with to surrender to superior numbers. All which he had intended to succour were taken prisoners and conveyed to Goleta; that after that occurrence Algiers. Cervantes fell to the share of Cervantes waited with the same regiment the Captain, Dali Mami, a Greek renein Sicily, the orders of the Duke of Sesa, gade, who finding his captive's recomwhen he incorporated his regiment with mendatory dispatches from the Prince, the forces of that country in the absence Don John and the Duke of Sesa, of of his master of the camp; and that the course judged thence that he was a perPrince Don John on his return to son of distinction, and that he might Naples, in June, 1575, gave leave a little consequently hope for a large ransom. time afterwards to Cervantes to return He was loaded with chains, rigorously to his native country, after so long an guarded, and treated with severity, in absence, and so long-continued merito- order that he might, with the greater rious services."
instance, importune his friends to make