« PreviousContinue »
BORN ABOUT 1590.--Died 1835.
All we know of Leonard Digges is, that he was the younger son of Thomas Digges, the mathematician, and brother of the more celebrated Sir Dudley Digges. Of the family, which has been long settled in Kent, and formerly possessed very large property in that county, some account may be found by turning over the pages of Hasted's history.
It does not appear that Leonard Digges ever published any original composition,--the only work that bears his name which we have been able to procure, is a Translation from the Spanish, with the following title :-
“Gerardo the unfortunate Spaniard, or a Pattern for Lascivious Lovers. Containing several strange miseries of loose affection. Written by an ingenious Spanish Gentleman, Don Goncalo de Cespides, and Meneces, in the time of his five years imprisonment. Originally in Spanish, and made English by L. D. London : Printed for Ed. Blount. 1622.”
The Dedication to the Noble Brothers, William Earl of Pembroke, and, Philip Earl of Montgomery, nephews to Sir Philip Sidney, follows:
Right Noble: My Lords
“Translations, as says a witty Spaniard, are, in respect of their originals, like the knotty wrong-sides of arras-hangings: but by his wit's leave, as the fair outside could ill be seen, without help of the knots within; no more can the fame of a well-deserving author be far spread, withont the labour of a translation. This made me, for the present Spanish author's sake, venture to make him speak English, and to do a public good by publishing the moral examples contained in the present tragical discourses. Now, that I presume to offer
my weak endeavours to the view and protection of your Lordships, I shall no way despair of a pardon ; since the world, that takes notice of your noble goodness, the first and best of your honoured titles, gives me assurance, that, though a stranger rather than an intruder, I shall be esteemed
To your Honors both,
A devoted Servant,
" To the Reader.
« Gentle Reader
“I present to thy view six exemplary discourses of Gerardo, the unfortunate Spaniard, written originally by Don Goncalo de Cespides, a Spanish Gentleman, who in the time of five years of his imprisonment, under the borrowed name of Gerardo, personates himself in his own misfortunes : and so partly with truth, partly with fiction, makes up a first and second part. Something there may be in the weaving and contexture of the work that may give thee delight: sure I am, thou shalt find profit in it, especially, if thou be such as hath in any way been subject to wanton lust and loose affection. The best is, if the work fall short of expectation, let the author's credit look to it; for a Translator hath no commission to better, suffice he come near, his original. Some of the verses in the Spanish copy, I have purposely left out, as being, in my judgment, unworthy to be ranked with the prose; others I have altered to make them more suitable to an English reader. One bye-discourse I have left out, as superstitiously smelling of papistical miracles, in which I have no belief. To forestall thee no longer, begin and read ; and though I undergo thy hard censure, I will not be so uncharitable as not to bid thee Farewell."
“ The Tragick Poeme to the Reader. Thou that art taken with a female smile; Thou whom a look, a sigh, or tears beguile Of wind-like woman: Thou, that at first-sight Part'st from thy thoughts, and giv'st thy maiden-right To irreligious man, whose smooth-tongued art Made up of oaths, steals on thy foolish heart: Both you, and all inthralled lovers, read, Whether my tears may just acceptance plead.”
The adventures of Gerardo, who may well enough pass for the original of Don Juan, occupy a small quarto volume of nearly 500 pages, and consist of a series of love intrigues, ending for the most part tragically. Many episodes are inserted in the “weaving and contexture” of the work, in accordance with the fashion of that age and country, so well known to all readers of Ceryantes. The whole fabric is not devoid
of interest; some of the adventures are well conceived and, as far as may be judged from a translation, not ill described. We cannot however afford room for an intire story, and must content ourselves with offering as a specimen of the prose, a short extract from the commencement of the narrative.
• My name, worthy friend, is Gerardo : the great and famous village of Madrid, most worthy mansion of our Catholic monarchs, my loved country, the common general mother of different people and remote nations. Near her high-rear'd walls, by whose ruins her ancient strength is yet seen, is the house of my ancestors, ennobled as well by their births as its own antiquity; there was I born, there first bred. It were needless to enlarge my discourse, by recounting the tender exercises of my infancy, therefore I will begin from my years of fifteen; which accomplished, I was forced to obey my father, by accompanying him to one of the best places of government in Castile, which his majesty had then newly bestowed upon him. My elder brother, Leoncio, went also with us, a valiant youth of towardly hopes. All of us were most jo. cund, with our father's new fortunes; our journey was short, for in four days we arrived, where, according to custom, we were solemoly welcomed. My father took possession of the government, and to the general satisfaction went on in his Triennium.
“ This was the famous city of Talbora, one of the best and most populous in the kingdom of Toledo ; whose situation is fructified with the silver streams of the gold-bearing Tagus, and makes it one of the most pleasant and delightful upon all its banks: the inhabi