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LEAVES FROM THE PORTUGUESE OLIVE.---NO. IV,
SA DE MIRANDA.
The career of the Portuguese poet who is the subject of our paper presents nothing of the romantic, such as characterises the lives of his predecessors," Bernardin Ribeyro,f Falcao, and Macias. His existence was simply that of an amiable and accomplished man of letters, who loved tranquillity and retirement - an existence monotonous, indeed, yet peaceful, contented, independent for the most part of its course, and clouded only at its close. Is not this as much as can possibly be said for human happiness ?
The family name of our poet was simply “De Sá;" the surname of “ Miranda," was an addition assumed by himself in his youth. His father, Gonzalo Mendes de Sá, had married a kinswoman, Philippa de Sá, daughter of Rodrigo Aires de Sá, and granddaughter of John Rodriguez de Sá, a man much celebrated in Portuguese history for the political and military services he rendered to King John I., when the latter disputed the crown of Portugal with John I., King of Cas tile, who had espoused Beatrix, only child of the deceased sovereign of Por tugal, Ferdinand, and who claimed possession of that kingdom, in direct contradiction to its constitution, which had been jealously framed to guard the nation against the loss of its independence, by annexation to a foreign realm. At an early stage of the contest, John Rodriguez de Sá performed a most material achievement for the Portuguese antagonist of the Castilian King, by conquering for him the strong and important town of Guimaraens, I in the province of Entre Douro e Minho, a conquest which was soon followed by the acquisition of the rest of that province, and which laid the foun. dation for the subsequent and rapid successes of John of Portugal.
The family of Sá, or De Sá, is noble; many of its members bore honourable
offices at court and in the state, during the reigns of John II. of Portugal, and of his successor, Emmanuel. The Counts of Penaguido were the elder branch of the house; and in the Portuguese peerage we read of De Sá e Menezes, Marquis of Abrantes ; De Sá e Mello Menezes, Viscount of Anadia; and De Sá Benavides, Viscount of Asseca. But though the name be honourable and honoured in its native chronicles, in English history it has borne a blemish in the person of Don Pantaleon de Sá, brother to the Portuguese ambassador in London during the protectorate of Cromwell. Don Pantaleon having taken some umbrage at an English gentleman, resolved on the revenge of a ruffian; and arming himself and a number of his servants, he went to the Exchange to look for his intended victim, but blinded by passion, he mistook another gentleman for the object of his wrath, and falling upon this unfortunate person, and mangling him with many wounds, put him to death in a most barbarous manner, his armed myrmidons preventing the interference of the horror-stricken spectators. After this foul deed, the assassin and his attendants took refuge from the enraged (and soon assembled) populace in the house of the Portuguese ambassador, who, relying on his privileges, endeavoured to protect his brother against the guard sent by Cromwell to arrest him, but in vain. The Protector firmly vindicated the offended laws of his country, and the criminal was executed as a common murderer on Tower Hill.
But to return to the subject of our memoir, Francisco de Sá (afterwards de Miranda), the son of Gonzalo and Philippa de Sá, was born in the celebrated collegiate city of Coimbra, on the 27th of October, 1495, the day on which Emmanuel, surnamed - the Great” and “the Fortunate,” was
* See DUBLIN UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE for March, 1851.-No. CCXIX. + DUBLIN UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE for April, 1852.-No. CCXXXII.
| 165 miles N.E. of Lisbon.
proclaimed King. In the family of Sá it was esteemed an auspicious omen for the young Francisco that he was born on that day; for the proclamation of Emmanuel was an occasion of great joy to the Portuguese, who had been apprehensive of a civil war for the succession; as the King, then just deceased, John II., baving lost his only son, Alfonso, by a fall from his horse, had long seemed bent on nominating his illegitimate son, a young boy, as his heir and successor in the kingdom, to the prejudice of Emmanuel, the legal heir, cousin of the King, and brother of the Queen. But the proclamation of Emmanuel, setting all doubts at rest, was received with a burst of national rejoicing, in the midst of which Francisco de Sá entered the world.
His native place, Coimbra, a city of high importance, was distinguished by the partiality of the Portuguese monarchs, who often made it their resi. dence, in consequence of its possessing many advantages over Lisbon, in point of climate, scenery, and situation ; and in the sixteenth century, at the period of young De Sa's boyhood, the Uni. versity of Portugal * was at Lisbon. It had fallen so low from want of funds, that the schools of Coimbra were in much better repute than those of the capital; and Gonzalo de Sá kept his son at home, to be educated under his own eye. To be a Professor of Juris. prudence was an object of ambition : in fact to be a Doctor of Laws was then a necessary step to the attainment of a respectable position in the State, and even in the Church ; and De Sá, therefore, required his son to study the law. Francisco's natural inclination was strongly averse from the profession ; and, in this respect, he resembled other celebrated poets. Ariosto complains in some of his verses that his father drove him to the study of the law, 6 not with spurs" (or ordinary stimu. lants), but is with spits and lances," or by coarse and painful means :
A Mio padre mi cacciò con spiedi e lancie,
Non che con sproni, a volger testi e chiose : E m'occupo cinque anni in queste ciancie."
The inclinations of Tasso and Pe trarch were similarly constrained ; and
But Astræa and the Muses are not necessarily enemies; there are shining examples to the contrary. Francisco de Sá was of a mild, docile, and affectionate disposition, and submitted wholly to his father's will, however repugnant to his own wishes ; not merely yielding a dogged, forced obedience, and going mechanically through his studies ; but with the sweetness of temper for which he was remark. able through life, he applied himself so assiduously to gratify his parent, that he not only obtained his degree of Doctor, but afterwards filled the chair of Professor of Jurisprudence, in which he gained applause by the excellence of his lectures. He solaced bimself amid his grave occupations, by the more congenial study of poetry in the Latin, Greek, Spanish, and Italian languages ; in the latter he particularly delighted. It was during the labori. ous period of his youth that he added to his patronymic the appellation of “ De Miranda," by which he was ever after distinguished : it was derived from the little town of Miranda (called do Corvo, i.e., Miranda of the Raven), pleasantly situated on a hill, within the district belonging to Coimbra; and probably endeared to the voung man's romantic feelings by some agreeable or tender associations.
We are not informed what age Sá de Miranda had attained when he lost his father ; but, by comparing dates, it appears that he could not have been less than twenty-nine, or thirty: The death of his parent having released him from the necessity of remaining in a profession he disliked, he immediately abandoned the law, determined to gratify his long-thwarted desire for foreign travel. John III, was then on the throne, having succeeded Emmanuel in 1521. John, in his youth, bad been strongly disinclined to any degree of study, but had been won to a better frame of mind by his stepmother, Eleanor of Austria (Emmanuel's third wife); and he became a patron of letters, and particularly solicitous for the well. being of the University of Coimbra, which he re-transferred to that city from Lisbon, founded several new colleges, and procured, at his own expense, the most able professors, both foreign and native, to aid in its resto ration. He was naturally anxious to retain at Coimbra, or at least in Portugal, a person who had already attained such celebrity as Sá de Miran. da, to whom he made liberal offers, promising him a station more agree able to him than Professor of Jurisprudence. But the poet's resolution was immovable; he declined the overtures of the monarch firmly, but respectfully, and set forth upon his travels.
* King Diniz established the University at Lisbon, 1290, and transferred it to Coimbra in 1308. His son, Alfonso IV., brought it back to Lisbon, and then again restored it to Coimbra, in 1354. It returned to Lisbon in the reign of Ferdinand, but was settled in Coimbra under John III.
It appears probable that Sá de Mi. randa's determination to go abroad was greatly strenghtened by the cir. cumstance that his father, consulting his son's wishes quite as little in the choice of a wife as in that of a profes. sion, had arranged for him a matrimo. nial contract with Donna Briolanjà (or Violante) de Azevedo, the wellportioned daughter of Francisco Ma. chado de Azevedo, Lord of Louzaa, and of a district between the rivers Homem and Cavado, in the province of Tra os Montes. He had never seen his intended bride, but had learned from common report that she was not only extremely plain in person, but was also by no means young; a report not cal culated to make him anxious for the fulfilment of the contract, so long as he could delay it; and especially as there is reason to believe that his affections had been placed upon another. He is described as of a most romantic and lover-like temperament; his air was deeply tinged with melancholy; often in company he would fall into profound abstraction, and tears would stream down his cheeks, of which he seemed unconscious, forgetful even that he was surrounded by observers. Among his poems are several outpourings of love which could not have been at any time addressed to Donna Briolanjà.
Sá de Miranda travelled first into Spain, and afterwards into Italy and Sicily, visiting Rome, Florence, Milan, Venice, and Naples. During his so. journ abroad, he made himself tho. roughly acquainted with Italian rhythm
and metres, and exercised himself in various kinds of poetical composition, but chiefly pastoral and lyric.
On his return to Portugal, he made up his mind to fulfil his long-neglected engagement with Donna Briolanjà de Azevedo, of whose many virtues he had heard from their mutual friends. Though fame depreciated her personal attractions, it gave her credit, and justly, for qualities of the heart and of the intellect of the bigbest order. Sá de Miranda presented himself for the first time before his betrothed, staff in hand ; and is said to have accosted her in these strange words—"Chastise me, madam, with this staff, for having so long delayed my coming”-a speech of singular inelegance and bad taste for a man of refinement to make. It was adding affront to his previous neglect, to remind the lady of his tardiness. He seems to have been bewildered between the plain features and the amiable and intellectual expression of Donna Briolanja's countenance. His apologies, however, were taken in good part. The long-affianced couple were married ; and notwithstanding the un. promising appearance of their engagement before its completion, their union was one of the most perfect conjugal happiness that has ever fallen to the lot of mortals. Donna Briolanjà proved herself an intelligent and well-informed companion, an amiable woman, and an excellent and affectionate wife; and her husband became most devotedly and enduringly attached to her. They bad two sons — Gonzalo Mendes de Sà (who, when grown up, entered the Portuguese army), and Jeronymo de Sá de Azevedo.
Sa de Miranda was well known to fame, not only as a poet, but as a man of most amiable character; and John III., anxious for his society, gave him an appointment at Court; and, with his royal brother, the Cardinal Don Henry (who was ultimately King), showed him distinguished favour. His poems were greatly admired by the courtiers (following the royal example); and the author was himself held in general esteem, from the sweetness of his disposition, the mildness of his manners, the refinement of his mind, and the variety of his talents; while the pensive cast that characterised his aspect, added interest to the sentiments he inspired. He was a passionate lover of music, and an admirable perfertile estate of Tapada, near Ponte da Lima, a town in the province of Entre Minho e Douro, 190 miles* north of Lisbon, and about 90 miles north of Coimbra, far from the busy worlds of Court and College. In plunging thus deeply into retirement, he showed an instinct for peace and safety. John III. had established the Inquisition, f. in imitation of Spain, notwithstanding the decided hostility his subjects manifested to this measure. Already in its infancy, it had begun to cast a restraint over the expression of thought, whether in conversation or in literary composition. The Portuguese, who hitherto (and especially under the reign of the cheerful Emmanuel) had been gay, frank, and open, had now become sombre and cautious. Sá de Miranda had already felt the change in the times, and alluded to it in one of his poems thus
« Our sports, our festive evenings, free and gay,
Where are they now!--for ever pass'd away."
former on the violin ; and was also an accomplished horseman. In person, he was of the middle height, and of a full figure. His face was fair and pale, and his nose aquiline; his hair and beard were black and thick, and his eyes large and blue. His air was always grave, but his conversation gentle and engaging.
But loved and esteemed as Sá de Miranda was, the royal favour excited the enmity of envy against him, at least in one bosom. He had been made a Knight of the Order of Christ, and had received from the King a dotation, or endowment, called the Commendam of the two Churches of the Order of Christ in the Archbishopric of Braga ; and shortly afterwards, a Portuguese nobleman of high rank (with whose name we are not acquainted) affected to consider himself personally insulted by a passage in one of Sá de Miranda's eclogues, satirising the luxury that was then beginning to corrupt the national character, introduced by the riches that flowed into Portugal from its Indian possessions. The nobleman insisted that the passage in question was aimed at him; and the poet either could not, or would not, give an explanation that the offended person chose to consider satis factory. But it is hinted by the bio graphers of Sá de Miranda, that the real offence was the King's munificence. Although protected by the friendship of the sovereign and the royal Cardi. nal, Sá de Miranda resolved to retire from Court; and thus cease to irritate, by his presence, a powerful enemy, who might in the end prejudice the Sovereign, and cause the withdrawal of his friendship. The poet had no confidence in the stability of court favour. He loved rural life, and prized its freedom; and now, amid this imbroglio in his courtiership, he must have often repeated the aspiration of the courtier, Horace_“O Rus, quando ego te aspiciam !" His circumstances were sufficiently independent to admit of his resigning his appointment at Court without injury; and, taking a final leave of the capital, he withdrew with his family to a pleasant Quinta, or country-house, he possessed on his
The poet was well-adapted for the rural life in which he secluded himself: he dearly loved the country, and delighted in rustic occupations and recreations. Notwithstanding the gentleness of his mind and manners, he took great pleasure in robust exercises and field sports; and especially in the excitement of hunting the wolf, the most generous and useful kind of chase, as it tended to rid himself and his neigh. bours of fierce and destructive animals. But his greatest enjoyment was in his literary pursuits. Next to poetry he esteemed practical philosophy; it was said of him, that "he poetised with the philosophers, and pbilosophised with ibe Muses." He had many faithful friends, and often gathered around him congenial literary associates, and, happy in his domestic affections, he enjoyed all those calm and rational pleasures which were most congenial to his tastes.
The genius of Sá de Miranda was nei. ther sublime nor profound, nor marked by much originality. His characteris. tics were a greater degree of graceful. ness and refinement than had hitherto appeared in Lusitanian poetry. The bent of his mind was pastoral and di
* We mean English miles.
† Historians are not agreed as to the exact date of the introduction of the Inquisition into Portugal; but it was between 1526 and 1534,
dactic, illustrated by mcral reflections and pleasing rural descriptions ; but he is often prolix. He set an unna. tional example, by often composing in Spanish, instead of confining himself to the improvement of his native tongue. He wrote eight eclogues, of which two only are in Portuguese, and these are much inferior to the six that are in Spa nish, and which, though in the Castilian language, are still, to a certain degree, national ; for the scenes, the ideas, and the characters, are all Portuguese. From his two vernacular eclogues he has been called the Theocritus of Portugal; he entered wholly into the rusticity of dialect and style prevalent among the peasants of his country-a circumstance that renders his Portu guese bucolics, in many passages, obscure to foreigners. These pastorals are full of sensible, but not very bril. liant, reflections; and we confess, that for our own reading, we prefer the pas. torals of Ribeyro and Falcão, which, though more meagre in their simplicity, are replete with more earnest, hearty feeling.
of Šá de Miranda's sonnets, the best are also in Spanish. He introduced Italian metres and stanzas, and endea. voured to improve the religious poetry of his countrymen, by composing two hymns to the Virgin, in the style of the Italian Canzone. Sismondi says:
praises of the country and rural life (in which he seems to catch the very spirit of Horace), the value of literature; and satires upon the luxury introduced by the commerce of India with Portugal. Besides his many poems in various styles of composition (including cantigas, or popular songs in the ancient Portuguese manner), he wrote two comedies which have no nationality; the scenes are in Italy, and the plays are the vehicles of satire upon the Italian clergy; the dialogue is pleasing, but the characters are drawn without ingenuity. One of the comedies is called The Foreigners, and the other The Vilhalpandos (the name of two Spanish soldiers). These pieces were patronised by the Cardinal Don Henry, who caused them to be performed at his Court, and ordered them to be printed.
But it is time for us to offer some translated specimens from Sá de Miranda's Portuguese Poems. We shall commence with a sonnet, in which he describes a sultry sunset, and the subsequent twilight, and compares it to life :
SUNSET. Broad sets the sun ; the heat hath silenced all The birds, whose songs in couler hours
arose; Leaping from high, the murmuring water
fall Invites, not sleep, but mem'ry of my woes. False world ! replete with vain and change
ful shows, Where is the heart that can in thee con
“ Miranda was the first who introduced poetical epistles to the notice of the Portu. quese. In these he united a sort of pastoral language, more peculiarly his own, to an imitation of his favourite author, Horace ; together forming an union of romantic and didactic verse, whose attractions consist in the truth and feeling it displays, but which is, on the other hand, somewhat verbose and superficial."
One fleeting day glides by; another goes;
Uncertain all as breeze on ocean's tide. Here late I saw fair flowers and shady
grores, And rill, and fount, and grass, and foliage
green; Here heard the birds sing sweetly all their
loves ;Now indistinct, parched, silent is the
scene. Thus once for me life shone with other hues : All else revives ; life's light no time re
These poetic epistles their author én. titled "cartas" (letters), not epistolas, lest the latter epithet should cause bim to be considered a mere imitator of Horace ; but in ascribing to Sá de Miranda the introduction of poetic epistles in Portuguese, Sismondi has forgotten (or was not acquainted with) the carta addressed by the old poet Falcam (or Falcão), when in prison, to his wife. True, it is not didactic; but it is no less pastoral, romantic, and pathetic, than any of Sá de Miranda's poetic effusions. The cartas of the latter are principally on such subjects as depreciation of city amusements,
The second pastoral is the longest of the two Portuguese eclogues, and generally considered the most important. It is entitled, “ Bieito," and is a kind of discussion carried on between two shepherds, named Bieito and Gil, full of moralising reflections ; some of them not quite in character with the speakers—we mean in point of thought