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and veneration for the knight himself, but a certain respect for all those connected with him the Curate, and Master Nicolas the barber-Sancho and Dapple-and even for Rosinante's leanness and his errors !-Perhaps there is no work which combines so much originality with such an air of truth. Its popularity is almost unexampled ; and yet its real merits have not been sufficiently understood. The story is the least part of them, though the blunders of Sancho, and the unlucky adventures of his master, are what naturally catch the attention of ordinary readers. The pathos and dignity of the sentiments are often disguised under the ludicrousness of the subject, and provoke laughter when they might well draw tears. The character of Don Quixote itself is one of the most perfect disinterestedness. He is an enthusiast of the most amiable kind,- of a nature equally open, gentle, and generous ;-a lover of truth and justice, and one who had brooded over the fine dreams of chivalry and romance, till the dazzling visions cheated his brain into a belief of their reality. There cannot, in qur opinion, be a greater mistake than to consider Don Quixote as a merely satirical work, or an attempt to explode, by coarse raillery, 'the long-forgotten order of chivalry. There could be no need to explode what no longer existed. Besides, Cervantes himself was a man of the most sanguine and enthusiastic temperament ; and even through the crazed and battered figure of the knight, the spirit of chivalry shines out with undiminished lustre; and one might almost imagine that the author had half-designed to revive the example of past ages, and once more (witch the world with noble horsemanship;' and had veiled the design, in scorn of the degenerate age to which it was addressed, under this fantastic and imperfect disguise of romantic and ludi. crous exaggeration. However that may be, the spirit which the book breathes to those who relish and under.
stand it bést, is unquestionably the spirit of chivalry ; nor perhaps is it too much to say, that, if ever the flame of Spanish liberty is destined to break forth, wrapping the tyrant and the tyranny in one consuming blaze, it is owing to Cervantes and his knight of La Mancha, that the spark of generous sentiment and ro, mantic enterprise from which it must be kindled, has not been quite extinguished. ..“ The character of Sancho is not more admirable in the execution than in the conception, as a relief to that of the knight. The contrast is as picturesque and strike ing as that between the figures of Rosinante and Dapple. Never was there so complete a partie quarrée ;-they answer to one another at all points. Nothing can surpass the truth of physiognomy in the description of the master and man, both as to body and mind;--the one lean and tall, the other round and short ;--the one heroical and courteous, the other selfish and servile ;-the one full of high-flown fancies, the other a bag of proverbs ;--the one always starting some romantic scheme, the other always keeping to the safe side of tradition and custom. The gradual ascendency, too, obtained by Don Quixote over Sancho, is as finely managed as it is characteristic. Credulity, and a love of the marvellous, are as natural to ignorance as selfishness and cunning. Sancho by degrees becomes a kind of lay-brother of the order ; acquires a taste for adventures in his own way; and is made all but an entire convert by the discovery of the hundred crowns in one of his most comfortless journeys. Towards the end, his regret at being forced to give up the pursuit of knight-errantry almost equals his master's; and he seizes the proposal of Don Quixote to turn shepherds with the greatest avidity,--still applying it, however, in his own fashion ; for while the Don is ingeniously torturing the names of his humble acquaintance into classical terminations, and contriving
scenes of gallantry and song, Sancho exclaims, 'Oh, what delicate wooden spoons shall I carve! what crumbs and cream shall I devour !--forgeiting, in his milk and fruits, the pullets and geese at Camacho's wedding.
“ This intuitive perception of the hidden analogies of things, or, as it may be called, this instinct of imagination, is what stamps the character of genius on the productions of art more than any other circumstance ; for it works unconsciously, like nature, and receives its impressions from a kind of inspiration. There is more of this unconscious power in Cervantes than in any other author, except Shakspeare. Something of the same kind extends itself to all the subordinate parts and cha. racters of the work. Thus we find the curate confidentially informing Don Quixote, that if he could get the ear of the government, he has something of considerable importance to propose for the good of the state ; and the knight afterwards meets with a young gentleman, who is a candidate for poetical honours, with a mad lover, a forsaken damsel, &c.—all delineated with the same inimitable force, freedom, and fancy. The whole work breathes that air of romance,—that aspiration after imaginary good,—that longing after something more than we possess, that, in all places, and in all conditions of life,
still prompts the eternal sigh, For which we wish to live, or dare to die !'
: “ The characters in Don Quixote are strictly individuals; that is, they do not belong to, but form a class of themselves. In other words, the actions and man. ners of the chief dramatis personce do not arise out of the actions and manners of those around them, or the condition of life in which they are placed, but out of the peculiar dispositions of the persons themselves, operated upon by certain impulses of imagination and
accident; yet these impulses are so true to nature, and their operation so truly described, that we not only re. cognise the fidelity of the representation, but recognise it with all the advantages of novelty superadded. They are unlike any thing we have actually seen,-may be said to be purely ideal,--and yet familiarise themselves more readily with our imagination, and are retained more strongly in memory than perhaps any others ; they are never lost in the crowd. One test of the truth of this ideal painting, is the number of allusions which Don Quixote has furnished to the whole of civilized Europe; that is to say, of appropriate cases and striking illustrations of the universal principles of our nature. The common incidents and descriptions of human life are, however, quite familiar and natural; and we have nearly the same insight given us here, into the characters of innkeepers, bar-maids, ostlers, and puppet-show men, as in Fielding himself. There is a much greater mixture, however, of sentiment with naïveté, of the pathetic with the quaint and humorous, than there ever is in Fielding. We might instance the story of the country man, whom Don Quixote and Sancho met in their search after Dulcinea, driving his mules to plough at break of day, and singing the ancient ballad of Ron, cesvalles !' The episodes which are introduced are excellent, but have upon the whole been overrated. Compared with the serious tales in Boccacio they are trifling. That of Marcella, the fair shepherdess, is the best. We will only add, that Don Quixote is an entirely original work in its kind, and that the author has the highest honour which can belong to one, that of being the founder of a new style of writing.
“ There is another Spanish novel, Gusman d’Al. farache, nearly of the same age as Don Quixote, and of
great genius, though it can hardly be ranked as a novel · or a work of imagination. It is a series of strange adventures, rather drily told, but accompanied by the most severe and sarcastic commentary. The satire, the wit, the eloquence, and reasoning, are of the most powerful kind; but they are didactic rather than dramatic. They would suit a sermon or a pasquinade better than a romance. Still there are in this extraordinary book occasional sketches of character, and humorous descriptions, to which it would be difficult to produce any thing superior. This work, which is hardly known in this country except by name, has the credit, without any reason, of being the original of Gil Blas. There is only one incident the same, that of the supper at the inn. In all other respects, these two works are the very reverse of each other, both in their excellencies and defects. “ “Gil Blas is, next to Don Quixote, more generally read and admired than any other novel,--and, in one sense, deservedly so: for it is at the head of its class, though that class is very different from and inferior to the other. There is very little individual character in Gil Blas. The author is a describer of manners, and not of character. He does not take the elements of human nature, and work them up into new combinations (which is the excellence of Don Quixote); nor trace the peculiar and striking combinations of folly and knavery as they are to be found in real life (like Fielding); but he takes off, as it were, the general habitual impression which cir. cumstances make on certain conditions of life, and moulds all his characters accordingly. All the persons whom he introduces, carry about with them the badge of their profession; and you see little more of them than their costume. He describes men as belonging to certain classes in society,—the highest, generally, and the lowest, and such as are found in great cities.---not as they are in themselves, or with the individual differences which are always to be found in nature. His hero, in particular, has no character but that of the accidental