Martin Beagles, “Hidden Spanish Treasure in a Seventeenth-Century Text: The Strange Case of Dr García and Mr Howell”

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  HIDDEN SPANISH TREASURE IN A SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY TEXT: THE STRANGE CASE OF DR GARCÍA AND MR HOWELL  Martin Beagles Universidad Complutense / Universidad Pontificia Comillas The paper deals with a previously undetected case of literary borrowing by the Anglo-Welsh letter-writer and pamphleteer James Howell (1594?-1666), best known for his  Familiar Letters  of 1645-55. I have discovered that Howell lifted quite large chunks of material for his second book (  Instructions for Forreine Travell  , 1642) from a text by the obscure and mysterious Spanish writer, Dr Carlos Garc ía, who published his  Antipatía de los franceses y españoles  in Paris in 1617. (This was an influential book in its day, running to several editions in various languages). In my paper, I will also consider the biographies of the two men and discuss the interesting possibility that Howell and Garc ía might have met and known each other in Paris, during Howell ’ s first travels on the Continent. The Spaniard is pleased to compare himself to a tesoro escondido , to a hidden treasure. Richard Ford,  A Hand-book for Travellers in Spain and Readers at Home  (London, 1845) And who, in time, knows whither we may vent The treasure of our tongue? To what strange shores, This gain of our best glory shall be sent, T ’ enrich unknowing nations with our stores?  Samuel Daniel,  Musophilus (1599)    M. Beagles 108  INSTRUCTIONS FOR FORREINE TRAVELL   In her well-known study of seventeenth-century English travellers in Spain, published in 1981, Patricia Shaw Fairman quoted extensively from Sections V and VI of James Howell ’ s  Instructions for Forreine Travell   of 1642, claiming that these sections provided useful insights into British notions about their contemporary European neighbours, and in particular Spain (Shaw 1981: 46). 1  In this paper, I would like to suggest that this claim is in need of refinement.  Instructions for Forreine Travell   is a short book, running to about 20,000 words in its first edition, and divided into nineteen brief sections. (A second edition in 1650 incorporated a six-page appendix on “ Turkey and the Levant parts, ”  places which it is unlikely that Howell ever visited). Although the main purpose of the  Instructions  was to advise and prepare gentlemen on the practicalities of travel and the learning of languages abroad, Howell ’ s literary aspirations are clear throughout the text, and they are reflected in the frequency and quality of his digressions from the main subject. Some idea of this diversity of material can be gained from reading the preliminary two-page “ Subs tance of this Discours, ”  a list of contents which begins as follows:   Of the advantage, and preheminence of the Eye. Of Forraine Travell  , and the progresse of Learning . What previous abilities are required in a Traveller .  A caveat touching his Religion .  Precepts for learning the French  Language. What Authors  to be made choyce of, for the Government  and History  of France . Of Books  , in generall. Of Historians  , and a method to reade them. Of Private Meditation . Of Poets .  An estimat of the expences  of a Nobleman  , or of a private Gentleman  a broad.  Advertisements for writing of Letters. (Howell 1869: 9)   1 In this full-length study, Patricia Shaw repeated and extended assessments of Howell ’ s work which had previously been formulated in her article on Howell (1976). For more on Howell, see Jacobs (1890 and 1892). Jacobs ’  introduction to the Familiar Letters remains the best general account of Howell ’ s life and work. See also the introduction to Bennett (1890); and Sydney Lee ’ s entry for James Howell in the  Dictionary of National Biography , which, however, contains some mistakes. For more recent work, see: Nutkiewicz (1990); Woolf (1993). Potter (1989) contains references to Howell. Useful remarks can also be found in S ánchez Escribano (1996).    Hidden Spanish Treasure in a Seventeenth-Century Text... 109 As can be seen, Howell covers a lot of ground in the  Instructions , and this extract from the list of contents refers only to the first four of the nineteen sections in his book. Of all the digressions in the  Instructions , one of the most memorable and effective is that which spans Sections V and VI, in which Howell deals in a strikingly humorous way with supposed differences in character and customs between contemporary Frenchmen and Spaniards. In a strangely pithy or “ Senecan ”  style which contrasts sharply with the more leisurely prose in the rest of his book, Howell presents the men of the two nations as “ antipathetic ”  in almost every respect: whereas one wears his hair long, the other wears it short; one always buttons his doublet downwards, the other upwards, and so on. These were the passages quoted by Patricia Shaw in her survey of seventeenth-century travellers in Spain, 2  although she was certainly not the first commentator to feel their attraction. Sections V and VI had already been specifically recommended to readers by Edward Arber, editor of the 1869 reprint of the  Instructions . Rather optimistically describing the  Instructions  as “ our first Handbook for the  Continent, ”  Arber pointed readers in the direction of Sections V and VI:   In itself the book is very discursive. A survey of foreign politics, much shrewd speculation in language, descriptions of foreign customs; and in particular, a notable discrimination of the differing characters of the Frenchman and the Spaniard of his day... (1869: 5) Over a century later, Patricia Shaw followed Arber in highlighting these passages on the Frenchman and Spaniard of Howell ’ s day, and went so far as to describe parts of Section V as “  párrafos magistrales ”  which she held it “ worth copying almost entirely, because in a way they certainly summarise the ideas held in England at that time about the character and mentality of the Spaniards ”   [my translations] (Shaw 1981: 146). The paragraphs in question are reproduced below: Having passed the Pyreneys hee [the foreign traveller] shall palpably discerne (as I have observed in another larger Discours) the suddenest and strangest difference ‘ twixt the Genius and Garb of two People, though distant but by a very small separation, as betwixt any other upon the surface of the Earth; I knowe Nature delights and triumphs in dissimilitudes; but here, she seemes to have industriously, and of set purpose studied it; for they differ not onely Accidentally and Outwardly in their Cloathing and Cariage, in their Diet, in their Speaches and Customes; but even Essentially in the very faculties of the Soule, and operations thereof, and in every thing else, Religion and the forme of a Rationall creature only excepted; which made Doctor Garcia thinke to 2 For an introduction to seventeenth-century guidebooks, see Maczak (1995: 152-157). This book was first published in Polish in 1798, and contains some interesting references to Howell. A truly abominable Spanish translation also exists: Maczak (1996).  M. Beagles 110 aske a Midwife once, whither the Frenchman and Spaniard came forth into the World in the same posture from the womb or no. Go first to the Operations of the Soule, the one [the Frenchman] is Active and Mercuriall, the other [the Spaniard] is Speculative and Saturnine: the one Quick and Ayry, the other Slow and Heavy; the one Discoursive and Sociable, the other Reserved and Thoughtfull; the one addicts himselfe for the most part to the study of the Law and Canons, the other to Positive and Schoole Divinity; the one is Creatura sine Praeterito et Futuro , the other hath too much of both: the one is a Prometheus, the other an Epinetheus; the one apprehends and forgets quickly, the other doth both slowly, with a  judgement more abstruce and better fixed, et in se reconditum ; the one will dispatch the weightiest affaires as hee walke along in the streets, or at meales, the other upon the least occasion of businesse will retire solemnly to a room, and if a Fly chance to hum about him, it will discompose his thoughts, and puzzle him: It is a kind of sicknesse for a Frenchman to keep a Secret long, and all the drugs of Egypt cannot get it out of a Spaniard. The French capacity, though it apprehend and assent unto the Tenets of Faith, yet he resteth not there, but examines them by his owne reason, debates the businesse  pro et contra , and so is often gravelled upon the quick sands of his own brain, the Spaniard cleane contrary by an implicite Faith and generall Obedience beleeves the Canons and Determination of the Church, and presently subjects his Understanding thereunto, he sets bounds to all his Wisdome and Knowledge, and labours to avoyd all Speculation thereon, fearing through the frailty of his Intellectuals, to fall into some Error. (  Instructions for Forreine Travell  , Section V) 3   These paragraphs hold some curious observations on national characteristics which retain a genuine if stereotyped interest even today, and the analysis continues in the same vein for several more pages in the  Instructions , often very amusingly. This is taut and powerful writing, which combines insight and a sense of detached fun in an undeniably seductive way, and it is not surprising that these pages have attracted the attention and praise of commentators down the years. Unfortunately, however, the true role of these passages in the development of James Howell ’ s writing career has probably been misunderstood until now. Little of this material can easily be attributed to the srcinal genius of Howell, for the simple reason that most of it made its first appearance elsewhere, in a bilingual French-Spanish treatise published some twenty-five years before the first edition of  Instructions for Forreine Travell  . 3 Howell (1869: 30-31); Shaw Fairman (1981: 146-147).  Hidden Spanish Treasure in a Seventeenth-Century Text... 111  LA ANTIPATIA DE FRANCESES Y ESPAÑOLES    Almost everything in Sections V and VI of the  Instructions is translated from a bilingual French-Spanish treatise first published in Paris on 8 April 1617, approximately at the time of James Howell ’ s first visit to the city. The full title of Howell ’ s source text is  La Oposición y Conjunción de los dos  grandes luminares de la tierra o La Antipatía de franceses y españoles . The author of the  Antipatía  was one Doctor Carlos Garc ía, an enigmatic and little -known Spanish exile living in Paris. 4  The treatise itself can only be fully understood in the precise contexts of the time and place of its publication: it was, above all, a late contribution to a very public debate about the so-called  Mariages Espagnols  of 1615. These double Royal marriage agreements, by which Philip III ’ s eldest daughter Anne of Austria was married to Louis XIII whilst his ten-year-old son Philip, the future Philip IV, married Louis ’  sister Isabella of Bourbon, confirmed the existence of a new Franco-Spanish understanding after years of political and military antagonism. In France, “ les mariages ”  were greeted by a barrage of pamphlets, many of them written in praise of the new accord. Nevertheless, it is clear from contemporary reports that anti-Spanish feeling in Paris, which dated back well into the previous century, was not extinguished overnight as a result of the marriages. A group of newly-marginalised courtiers ( “ les   malcontents ” ) who were opposed to the pro-Spanish turn of events had little trouble mobilising Hispanophobic sentiment in popular demonstrations against the Crown, and despite official efforts, these feelings also found their way into print. A debate ensued on the convenience of the mariages  pact with Spain, and Garc ía ’ s  Antipatía  must be seen as a direct contribution to that debate. 5  As one might expect from a Spaniard living in France, Garc ía in the  Antipatía  comes down strongly in favour of friendship between the two nations and he greets the new opportunities provided by the marriage agreement. His 4 All quotations from the  Antipatía de franceses y españoles  are taken from C. Garc ía (1979). Bareau ’ s e dition contains a very useful introduction, in which he provides detailed coverage of what is known of Garc ía ’ s life and work. The  Antipatía  itself was an immediately successful book, going through seven French-Spanish editions by 1638. It was translated into Italian in 1636, and rapidly went through thirteen editions in that language by 1702. German and English translations also appeared in the course of the century (see note 7). 5 See C. Garc ía (1979: 17 -39). Bareau is particularly good on the political context and frenzied pamphleteering activity at the time of the publication of the Antipat ía; he names more than forty pamphlets in the course of his introduction, and provides close analysis of several of them.
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