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AMADIS DE GAUL


VASCO LOBEIRA



TRANSLATED FROM THE SPANISH VERSION OF GARCIORDONEZ DE MONTALVO.
BY ROBERT SOUTHEY 1872.



Preface
1


madis of Gaul was written by Vasco Lobeira, a Portugueze, who was born at Porto, fought at Aljubarrota, where he was knighted upon the field of battle by King Joam of Good Memory, and died at Elvas, 1403; where he formed a Morgado, an entailed and unalienable estate, which afterwards descended to the Abreus of Alcarapinha.
   The Spanish version, which is the oldest extant, is by Garciordoñez de Montalvo, Regidor of Medina del Campo. He says he has corrected it from the old originals, which were corrupted by different and bad writers, and badly composed in an ancient fashion; that he has abridged it of many superfluous words, and inserted others of a more polished and elegant style.
   The Comte de Tressan has claimed the work as a French production. It is doing too much honour to Vasco Lobeira, he says, to consider him as the author. The French translation by Nicolas d'Herberay was indeed made from the Castilian, but there is reason to believe that he only restored it to the literature of his own country, from which it had first been taken by the Spaniards. D'Herberay remembered certain manuscripts of Amadis in the Picard language, and these he thought might be the originals which Montalvo modernized. These manuscripts, says the Comte, might very easily fall into the hands of the Spaniards. Philip the Good,  [1]   or Charles the Bold might have found them when they carried their arms into Picardy; thus they might get into the library of Marie of Burgundy, and her son the Archduke Philip might carry them into Spain. The Comte does not found his opinion entirely upon this con catenation of contingencies; he thinks he has seen a manuscript of Amadis, in the Romance, or what D'Herberay calls the Picard language, among Queen Christina's collection in the Vatican ; from the manifest superiority of the three first books to all the continuation, he argues that they cannot have been written in the same country; and from their good taste and high tone of sentiment he proves that they must be originally French. This is indeed French reasoning!
   Had the Comte de Tressan been versed in Portugueze literature, he might have found one single evidence in favour of his assumption. In the Agiologio Lusitano, T. 1, p. 480, Joze Cardoso says, that Pedro de Lobeira translated the History of Amadis de Gaul from the French language, by the order of Infante Dom Pedro, son of King Joam I. He calls him Pedro, says Barboza, that he may be wrong in everything. The first volume of the Agiologio was printed in 1652. With this single exception, the Portugueze have always ascribed the work to Vasco Lobeira; and the authority of this tradition would alone outweigh all the possibilities of the French writer. It is substantiated by the work itself, and by old and unquestionable testimony.
   At the end of the 41st chapter, vol. 1. p. 220, it is said, that Briolania would have given herself and her kingdom to Amadis, but he told her right loyally how he was another's. In the Spanish version, ff. 72, this passage follows : " But though the Infante Don Alfonso of Portugal, having pity upon this fair damsel, ordered it to be set down after another manner, that was what was his good pleasure, and not what actually was written of their loves; and they relate that history of these loves thus, though with more reason faith is to be given to what we have before said. Briolania being restored to her kingdom and enjoying the company of Amadis and Agrayes, persisted in her love: and seeing no way whereby she could accomplish her mortal desires, she spake secretly with the damsel to whom Amadis, and Galaor and Agrayes had each promised a boon if she would guide Don Galaor where he could find the Knight of the Forest. This damsel was now returned, and to her she disclosed her mind, and besought her with many tears to advise some remedy for that strong passion. The damsel then in pity to her lady demanded as the performance of his promise from Amadis, that he should not go out of a certain tower, 'till he had a son or daughter by Briolania; and they say, that, upon this, Amadis went into the tower because he would not break his word, and there because he would not consent to Briolania's desires he remained, losing both his appetite and his sleep 'till his life was in great danger. This being known in the court of King Lisuarte, his Lady Oriana, that she might not lose him, sent and commanded him to grant the damsel's desire, and he having this command, and considering that by no other means could he recover his liberty or keep his word, took that fair queen for his leman, and had by her a son and a daughter at one birth. But it was not so, unless Briolania seeing how Amadis was drawing nigh to death in the Tower, told the damsel to release him of his promise, if he would only remain 'till Don Galaor was arrived; doing thus, that she might so long enjoy the sight of that fair and famous knight, whom when she did not behold she thought her self in great darkness. This carries with it more reason why it should be believed, because this fair queen was afterwards married to Don Galaor, as the fourth book relates."
   Here then it appears that an Infante of Portugal commanded some alteration to be made in the story: because he was displeased that Briolania should love in vain. There exists a sonnet ascribed to an Infante of Portugal, and addressed to Vasco Lobeira, praising him as the author of Amadis, and objecting to this very part of the story. It is thus printed in a work entitled Obras inditas dos nossos insignes Poetas dadas a luz por Antnio Lourenço Caminha. Lisboa 1791.

SONETO.



   Feito polo Senhor Infante Dom Pedro, filho do Senhor Rey Dom Joam primeiro. Outros dizem que he do Senhor Rey Dom Affonso quarto, mais provase que foi do antecedente, porque o Lubera murreo no anno de 1403.

Bom Vasco de Lubera, e de graõ sem
De pram que vos avades bem contado
O feito de Amadis o namorado,
Sem que dar ende por contar irem,
E tanto vos apprôve, e a tambem,
Que vos seredes sempre ende loado.
E antre os homes hos por homtado,
Que vos era adiante, e que era bem.
Mais porque vos fizeste a formoza
Briqranja amar endoado hu nom,
Esto cbade, e contra sa'amarom vontade :
Ca eu hey gro do da a ver queixosa
Por s gro formozura, e s bondade,
E hor porque alfim amor no lho pagaro.

Tom. 1. 213.



   In the reign of Joam I. says Manuel de Faria y Sousa, the Infante Don Pedro wrote .the sonnets Bom Vasco, &c., Vinha Amor, &c., in praise of Vasco Lobeyra, the inventor of the Books of Chivalry by that of Amadis. I know not where the second of these sonnets is to be found, neither of them are among the Infante Dom Pedro's Poems, published by Joseph Soares da Sylva at the end of his Memorias para a Historia del Rey Dom Joam I. as copied from the Cancioneiro of Resendé; nor do I recollect them in that very rare and valuable collection, to which I cannot now refer. But it is impossible that this sonnet should have been written by either of the princes to whom it has been ascribed. The Infante Dom Pedro was but in his eleventh year when Vasco Lobeira died, and Lobeira himself must have been a boy at the time of Affonso the IVth's death. Montalvo and Manuel de Faria and the Portugueze Editor are in this point all in the wrong. If it be the composition of a royal or of a princely author, it must be King Pedro. This, however, must remain uncertain. But we may believe what Montalvo tells us that the story had been altered in compliance with the taste of some noble Portugueze. The language of this sonnet is certainly as old as the time of Joam I. It agrees with the opinion of the person whom Montalvp calls the Infante Alfonso, and it addresses Vasco Lobeira by name as the author of Amadis of Gaul.
   This evidence is sufficiently decisive. It is incontrovertibly confirmed by Gomes Eannes de Zurara, in his Chronica do Conde Dom Pedro de Menezes; a work written in 1463, and first pub lished in the Collecçaõ de Livros Ineditos de Historia Portugueza, 1792. He expressly says that Vasco Lobeira wrote the book of Amadis, and that the whole was his own invention. Could he have foreseen that it would have ever become a subject of controversy, his testimony could not have been more decisive. " Jaa seja, que muitos Autores cobiçosos d'allargar suas obras, forneciam seus Livros recontando tempos que os Principes passavam em convites, e assy de festas, e jogos, e tempos allegres, de bue se nom seguia outra cousa, se nom a deleitaçaõ delles mesmos, assy como som os primeiros feitos de Ingraterra, que se chamava Gram Bretanha, e assy o Livro d' Amadis como quer que soomente este fosse feito a prazer de hum homen, que se chamava Vasco Lobeira, em tempo d'El Rey Dom Fernando, sendo toda-las cousas do dito Livro fingidas do Autor." T. 2. p. 422.
   Therefore it can be no longer doubted, that Vasco Lobeira is the author of Amadis of Gaul. The romance was written towards the close of the fourteenth century ; if in Fernando's reign, before 1383, but certainly after Edward III. had laid claim to the crown of France, and when the Court of Windsor was the most splendid in Europe. This is evident from the work itself. Had it been written later, even by one generation, Montalvo could not have complained of its rude and ancient style.
   Barboza says the original work was preserved in the family of the Aveiros. If this copy has escaped the earthquake, it may probably be traced from the wreck of that family; and it is greatly to be wished that the Royal Academy of Lisbon would publish it for the honour of Portugueze Literature, to which that Academy has already rendered such essential services, and which by other nations is little valued, only because it is little known.

2


Tressan claims for his countrymen only the three first books; in the fourth, he says, the Spanish taste begins to predominate; but the ridiculous anachronisms which he particularizes, are all interpolated by D'Herberay. King Lisuarte's train of artillery, his powder, his bullets, his bombs and his culverines, are not to be found in the Spanish version. Cannon are once mentioned, as they are in Hamlet; but as in Hamlet it is a casual absurdity, the effect of carelessness, not of an ignorance which would have infected the whole work. The beginning of the fourth book is indeed very inferiour in interest to what precedes it: the business and bustle of adventure are succeeded by long speeches, and a needless detail of the different embassies. How much of this prolixity is to be attributed to what Montalvo calls his more polished and elegant style, it is now impossible to ascertain. Yet this prolixity has its effect; if it provokes impatience, it also heightens expectation ; it is like the long elm avenues of our forefathers, we wish ourselves at the end, but we know that at the end there is something great.
   The Comte was of opinion that the original romance concluded with the rescue of Oriana. This would have been an unsatisfactory conclusion, nor would it have compleated the author's design. Amadis is not safe, and cannot be happy while King Lisuarte is his enemy ; the preeminence of Oriana above all her sex is not proved, till she has achieved the adventure of the Forbidden Chamber. The reconciliation of her husband and her father, and this triumph which proves that, as the best and fairest of women, she alone is worthy to be the wife of the best and bravest of men, must be the work of the original author, unless he left the story incompleat. But there is no reason to suspect that the work of Vasco Lobeira was not compleated. That, as well as the rudeness of the language, would have been mentioned by Montalvo ; he would have claimed the merit of finishing the story, as well as of polishing the style.
   With the celebration of the marriage, the story obviously concludes. I have ended here, and left the reader to infer that Amadis and Oriana, like the heroes of every nursery tale, lived very happy after. The chapters which follow in the Spanish are evidently added to introduce the fifth book, or what Montalvo, in something like a Quack's Greek, calls 'the Sergas of Esplandian. It is one romance growing out of another as clumsily as a young oyster upon the back of its parent. The episode of the Queen of Dacia has been introduced for the same purpose. This has been here retained, that if any person should hereafter con tinue these volumes upon the plan of the Bibliotheque des Romans, everything necessary to render the after stories intelligible may be found in this, though this is in itself coinpleat. The patchwork of Montalvo's imagination is in many places distinguishable : the letters upon Esplandian's breast, the most foolish fiction in the book, are his invention, for the interpretation is in the Sergas. Probably he has lengthened the period between the quarrel of Amadis and the king, and their reconciliation. Oriana has no spell to preserve her charms, when she wins the prize of beauty, and yet her son is at the age of manhood; it was convenient for the continuation of the history, that Esplandian should be of age to follow arms when his father retired. If the faults inserted by the Spaniard, with reference to his own supplement, were weeded out, the skilful structure of the original story would not be less admirable, than the variety and beauty of its incidents.
   The Orlando Innamorato is the only story that has ever been successfully continued. Boyardo had written but a fragment, and a fragment it was by Berni. Montalvo had no such plea for adding his supplement to Amadis ; the design. was compleat, and whatever he added to the finished structure could only mar its proportions. It is dangerous to attempt subjects which have been ennobled by a great master. Even the Greek Tragedians were not equal to the task of dramatizing the characters of Homer: they could not bend the bow of Mæonides. They teach us to despise Ajax, and to dislike Ulysses; for they attribute nothing but cunning to the one, and only brutal courage to the other. They caught the outline, but the finer shades, and discriminating lines escaped them. In our own literature we have an illustrious instance; who can tolerate the tale of Paradise Lost in the rhymes of Dryden's play ? It is fortunate for the fame of even Milton, that he did not execute his design of writing a second Macbeth.

3


   When the Curate purged Don Quixote's library with fire, he spared three romances; Tirante the White, for its quaintness ; Palmeirin of England, partly for its merit, and partly because by some unaccountable blunder, he fancied that it was written by a King of Portugal; Amadis of Gaul, because it was the first of the kind, and the best.
   The censure of Cervantes was more efficient than his praise. Lobeira, like Ariosto, would have received no injury from his ridicule, if like Ariosto he had stood alone. But the old judgement was reversed, the proscription acted like the laws of treason in the East, and the father suffered for the faults of his worthless children. Montalvo and his imitators sheltered themselves under a great name; the Sergas of Esplandian is called the fifth book of Amadis of Gaul, the histories of Esplandian's son, and his son's son, were the sixth, seventh, and eighth; and thus they went on from generation to generation. Fortes creantur Fortibus might be their standing motto. Instead of concluding, Chronicle-like, with " he died, and his son reigned in his stead," they keep Amadis alive like a Patriarch, or an Adept; the father of a flock sees not so many generations sprung from him; to such longevity do they prolong his life, that instead of fixing his birth not many years after the Crucifixion, it should have been dated some time before the Flood.
   This perpetual succession of heroes was ill imagined. The son was always to exceed the father, and in his turn yield to the grandson; as our hosiers, besides the best stockings, sell the extra best, and the best superfine. Esplandian must fight with Amadis, and Lisuarte of Greece with Esplandian, and Amadis of Greece with Lisuarte. Hence also the ridiculous hyperboles; when all the varieties of fighting had been ex hausted by Amadis, it only remained to make taller giants for Esplandian, and give a stronger scythe-sweep to his sword to mow them down. The fictions of Lobeira are more modest. Famongomadan and his family are but giants of the O'Bryan breed, with names, to the great merit of their god-fathers, of a most giantly proportion. if the author of Amadis be compared in his battles with Ariosto, his descriptions will be found as lively and as varied, he brings every thing before the eye with the same poet's power, but he rarely or never so wantonly abuses his prerogative.
   In one respect the after romances copy the original with undeviating servility; they all have their Amadis and their Galaor, the constant and the general lover. There is at least some morality in the preference, but all the first-born are illegitimate. The hero must be every way irresistible. The loves of King Perion and of his son are justified or palliated by a pledged promise, which the Catholic Church considers binding. Lobeira expressly says they were not without fault, because the promise had been so secret. Montalvo's morals are more casuistical and convenient. It is glory enough for me, says Urganda, when she gives the bastard sons of Galaor and King Cildadan as comrades to Esplandian, it is glory enough for me, since I can have no children myself, that these, by my means, have been born of others; for they shall do such things for the service of God, that not only will they be forgiven who begot them against the command of the holy church. and I who was the cause, but it will be imputed to them as so great a merit, that they shall thereby obtain rest for their bodies in this world, and for their souls in the next. B. 4. ff. 270.
   Montalvo and his followers have totally changed the machinery. The Urganda who appears to Galvanes and the Child of the Sea, is a true fairy, like Morgaine le Fay and the Lady of the Lake. Arcalaus is but a poor enchanter; he has only a room in his castle protected by a spell; his courage is more formidable than his black art, it is the fleetness of his horse that preserves him, not his magic. But the Urganda who sails about in the great serpent is an enchantress of a different species, and her rivals Zirfea and Melia are as tremendous as the Medea of classical romance.
   The difference of religious temper is remarkable. Vasco Lobeira, who had never borne arms against any but the Castilians, made his hero fight with Christian enemies, and only now and then kill a stray Pagan. In Montalvo's days the reign of persecution had begun; the expulsion or extirpation of the Moors was a favourite hope of the Spaniards after they had subdued them, and the heroes of Spanish romance naturally became the champions of the faith. It is no wonder that the original work differs so materially from the swarm of imitations! Tressan need not have supposed that they must have been written in a different country to account for its superiority. Lobeira could paint heroes from the life. The fame of the Black Prince and the odour of his virtues were still fresh in Spain. It was the age of chivalry, the noon-day of heroism and honour. A Portugueze, one of the good and loyal Portugueze as their own excellent chronicler calls them, who fought at Aljubarrota, for King Joam of good memory, might conceive the character of Amadis. Nuno Alvares Pereira might be his living pattern. But a Spaniard who described humane and generous valour in the days of Ferdinand and the Austrian family, could paint only from a dim recollection of the past. A century the most eventful of any in human history had changed every thing, the mode of warfare, the politics, the religious feelings of Europe were all altered. The Inquisition and the house of Austria, two curses more fatal than all the plagues of Egypt, were established in Spain, and her civil and religious liberties were destroyed.
   Inferior as these after-books of Amadis certainly are, they form so singular an epoch in the history of literature that an abridgement of the whole series into our language is to be desired. Should this be attempted, it must be from the Spanish, not from the Bibliotheque des Romans, nor from the versions of D'Herberay. D'Herberay has omitted much that is curious in manners, and inserted much that is abominable in morals; he is inaccurate and obscene. There is occasionally, though but rarely, a rude and savage nakedness in the original which I have veiled. The Frenchman has always delighted to expose it; he has dilated single phrases into whole paragraphs, with that love of lewdness which is so peculiarly and characteristically the disgrace of French literature.
   "What is become of these books which were once so numerous ? in their own country they are as rare as they are in this. Almost one might suppose that the curate and the barber had extended their inquisitorial scrutiny to the book sellers' shops, and committed editions instead of volumes to the flames.

4


   It is the hypothesis of Warton, that romance was introduced by the Moors into Spain, and from thence diffused over Europe. Writers of equal eminence have controverted this opinion, and advanced others equally hypothetical. Romance, or fictitious narrative, is, in fact, like poetry, common to all countries, and its character is in like manner every where modified by the circumstances of society.
   The machinery of the early romance writers is probably rather of classical than of oriental origin. Classical superstitions lingered long after the triumph of Christianity. The Spanish chronicles continually speak of augury. Certain practices of heathen faith were prohibited in Portugal, by a law enacted during the life of Vasco Lobeira. The Fathers of the Church expressly assert that the gods of the gentiles are the fallen angels; and with this key, a Catholic may believe the whole of Ovid's Metamorphoses. St. Anthony the Great saw and conversed with a centaur, and St. Jerome vouches for his veracity.
   Enchanted weapons may be traced to the work shop of Vulcan as easily as to the dwarfs of Scandinavia. The tales of dragons may be originally oriental; but the adventures of Jason and Hercules were popular tales in Europe, long before the supposed migration of Odin, or the birth of Mohammed. If magical rings were invented in Asia, it was Herodotus who introduced the fashion into Europe. The fairies and ladies of the lake bear a closer resemblance to the nymphs and naiads of Rome and Greece, than to the peris of the East.

5


   The reputation of the books of chivalry was declining, when Cervantes destroyed it. George of Montemayor had newly introduced the pastoral romance; his Diana is so dull and worthless a story, that it is wonderful it should ever have been successful enough to provoke imitation. Tales of intrigue were becoming fashionable. Of these Juan de Timoneda, a Valencian, is said to have been the first writer in Spain. His first work El Patranuelo bears date 1576. These novelas were symptomatic of worse morals than the books of chivalry. The comic romance, of which the heroes are uniformly rogues, was still more mischievous. Lazarillo de Tonnes was the first of this class : of the swarm which followed, Guzman de Alfarache, and La Picara Justina are the best known. The common ballads of the country were infected, and ruffians and sharpers are still the heroes of the popular songs of Spain. The French romances do not appear to have been naturalised either in Spain or Portugal. Of late indeed we are told by Fischer that two editions of Cassandra have sold in the space of a year and a half at Madrid. It is singular that Calprenade should have found no readers in Spain, till he was no longer read in any other part of Europe.
   The books of chivalry have become scarce, in consequence of their popularity. They have probably been fairly worn out by repeated perusal; but as their fashion was gone by, it was useless to reprint them for general sale. Some few are still published for children, and it is no little proof of their merit that they are their favourite books. In England we have Valentine and Orson, and the Seven Champions of Christendom. Parismus and Parismenos, which is among the boys' books mentioned by Uncle Toby and in the very interesting Memoirs of Mr. Gifford, has lost its ground. In Portugal, Turpin's History of Charlemain and the Twelve Peers is the popular work; the parent of the whole stock, is the last survivor.

6


   It remains that I should state in what manner the present version has been executed.
   To have translated a closely printed folio would have been absurd. I have reduced it to about half its length, by abridging the words, not the story; by curtailing the dialogue, avoiding all recapitulations of the past action, consolidating many of those single blows which have no reference to armorial anatomy, and passing over the occasional moralizings of the author. There is no vanity in saying, that this has improved the book, for what long work may not be improved by compression? meagre wine may be distilled into alcohol. The minutest traits of manners have been preserved, and not an incident of the narrative omitted. I have merely reduced the picture, every part is preserved, and in the same proportions. Amadis of Gaul is valuable, not only for its in trinsic merit, as a fiction, but as a faithful repre sentation of manners and morality; and as such, these volumes may be referred to, as confidently as the original. The edition which I have made use of is that of Seville,   [2]  1547. The copy, for the book itself is exceedingly rare, was from the library of Mr. Heber, a gentleman whose liberality in the disposal of a very valuable collection, leaves his friends less reason to regret that the public libraries of England should be more difficult of access, and consequently less useful, than those of any other country in Europe.
   The Comte de Tressan in his free translation, has compleatly modernized and naturalized the character of the romance: his book is what he designed to make it, an elegant work; but the manners and feelings of the days of chivalry are not to be found there; they are all hidden under a varnish of French sentiment. He has scoured the old shield; the glitter which it has gained does not compensate for the loss of its sharpness, nor for the lines that are effaced.
   I should have abridged from the English translation had it been accurate, that the character of the language might have assimilated better with the work. But the English version, which bears date as late as 1618, a century after the publication of the book in Spain, has been made from the French; every trait of manners which were foreign to D'Herberay, or obsolete in his time, is accordingly omitted, and all the foolish anachronisms and abominable obscenities of the Frenchman are retained. I kept my eye upon it as I proceeded, for the purpose of preserving its language where it was possible. A modern style would have altered the character of the book; as far as was in my power I have avoided that fault, not by intermixing obsolete words, but by rendering the original structure of sentence as literally as was convenient, and by rejecting modern phraseology and forms of period. It cannot be supposed that I have uniformly succeeded in this attempt: the old wine must taste of the new cask.
   The names which have a meaning in the original have not been translated. I have used Beltenebros instead of the Beautiful Darkling, or the Fair Forlorn; Florestan instead of Forester; El Patin instead of the Emperor Gosling; as we speak of Barbarossa, not Red-Beard; Bocanegra, not Black Muzzle; St. Peter, not Stone the Apostle.
   The praise of accuracy is all to which I lay claim for the present work; and that I claim confidently. Perhaps others may not see the beauties which I perceive; the necessity of dwelling upon every sentence has produced in me a love for the whole. The reader will pass rapidly where I have lingered and loitered; he who drives post through a country sees not the same beauties as the foottraveller. But the merit of the work itself is not now to be ascertained, the verdict of ages has decided that. Amadis of Gaul is among prose, what Orlando Furioso is among metrical romances, not the oldest of its kind, but the best.

Endnotes


[1]   It is indeed probable that Amadis was in the Duke of Burgundy's Library, for Philip the Good married Isabel, daughter of Joam of Portugal. The children of Joam were distinguished for their love of, literature. If she carried with her this romance, it is not unlikely that a French translation may have been made, anterior to Montalvo's

[2]   M. le C. Gordon de Parcel in his Bibliotheque des Ro mans, says the oldest edition of Amadis is that of Seville, 1526. His work is exceedingly inaccurate. He has not mentioned that of 1547. I should conjecture, that there must have heen an edition printed at Medina del Campo.
   The story of Amadis was certainly popular before the date he has assigned for its first publication. When the Spaniards first saw Mexico, they said to each other it was like the places of enchantment which were spoken of in the book of Amadis. This was in 1549. There is another passage in the excellent history of Bernal Diaz which seems to imply that they knew the original Amadis, not the work of Montalvo; he says they compared a boastful man who did nothing in battle to Agrayes. Llamavamosle que era otro Agrajes sin obras. It should seem that the character of Agrayes had been modified by Montalvo. Yet, could a manuscript story have been so commonly known as to be the talk of the soldiery ?





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