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[252] close-written pages, dated and signed by himself, of which the following is a part:—

Beacon Street, May 19, 1848.
My dear George,—I return you the manuscript which I have read, or rather heard attentively, text and notes, and I only regret that I could not have gone over them with my eyes, instead of my ears, as I could have done them more justice. I need not say that I have received a constant gratification from the perusal, for the subject is one of great interest to me. But I have no hesitation in saying that the work is done in a manner, both as respects its scientific results and its execution as a work of art, that must secure it an important and permanent place in European literature. Not only the foreign, but the Spanish student must turn to its pages for the best, the only complete record of the national mind, as developed in the various walks of elegant letters. The foreign reader will have ample evidence of the unfounded nature of the satire ‘that the Spaniards have but one good book, the object of which is to laugh at all the rest.’ Even those superficially acquainted, as I am, with the Castilian literature, must be astonished to see how prolific the Spaniards have been in all kinds of composition known in civilized Europe, and in some kinds exclusively their own. The few more learned critics, in the Peninsula and out of it, will find you have boldly entered the darkest corners of their literature, and dragged into light much that has hitherto been unknown, or but very imperfectly apprehended; while there is not a vexed question in the whole circle of the national literature which you have shrunk from discussing, and, as far as possible, deciding.

The plan of the book seems to me very judicious. By distributing the subject into the great periods determined by its prevalent characteristics at the time, you make a distinct impression on the mind of the reader, and connect the intellectual movement of the nation with the political and moral changes that have exercised an influence over it. You have clearly developed the dominant national spirit, which is the peculiar and fascinating feature of the Castilian; and you have shown how completely this literature vindicates a place for itself apart from all other literatures of Christendom. For it was the product of influences to which they have never been subjected.

The most interesting parts of the work to the general reader will, I suppose, be those which relate to topics of widest celebrity,—as the Ballads, for example, the great dramatic writers, Lope, Calderon,


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Calderon (1)
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May 19th, 1848 AD (1)
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