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Polynesian Researches. By William Ellis. Vol. Second. New York. J. & J. Harper. 12mo. pp. 321.
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Providence Manifested through Israel. By Harriet Martineau. Boston. L. C. Bowles. 18mo. pp. 207.
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The Saint's Rest. By Richard Baxter, with an Introductory Essay, by T. Erskine. Boston: Perkins & Marvin. 12mo. pp. 388.
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NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW.
Art. 1.— Navarrete's Life of Cervantes.
con varias noticias y documentos ineditos pertenecientes
Life of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, with Illustrations
from unpublished Manuscripts relating to the History and Literature of his time.
CERVANTES in his lifetime was neglected by his countrymen, and the grave had long closed over him, before they became so far sensible of the lustre which they derived from his genius, as to collect with care the scanty materials for his biography.
The English accounts of him are meagre. The best which we have seen is the one by Lockhart, prefixed to the edition of Motteux's translation of Don Quixote, printed at Edinburgh in 1822.
In the year 1819, Navarrete, a Spanish scholar, well known for the light which he has thrown on the life and labors of Columbus, and the early history of Spanish maritime discovery, published at Madrid a new life of his illustrious countryman, accompanied with many documents, never before printed, which serve to illustrate various passages in his history. As VOL. XXXVIII.—NO. 83.
this account has not been translated, we have thought that a notice of it might not be uninteresting to our readers.
Cervantes was born in Alcala de Henares, of a noble but poor family, and was the youngest of four children. Navarrete does not fix precisely the date of his birth. His parents were married in 1540 and his baptism took place in October 1547, so that he was probably born in that year. From early youth he manifested a strong inclination towards poetry and works of invention, great application, and so much curiosity that he was in the habit of reading the scraps of paper which he found in the streets. He had also a great fondness for the theatre. He studied grammar and polite letters under a respectable ecclesiastic named Juan Lopez de Hoyos, who, being employed to assist in the composition of the allegories, hieroglyphics, and inscriptions, to be placed in the church where the obsequies of the queen Isabella de Valois were to be celebrated in October, 1568, called in the aid of his pupils, among whose compositions those of Cervantes were distinguished. As Juan Lopez did not come to Madrid till January, 1568, when Cervantes was above twenty years old, the latter must have previously studied under some other master, or in some other place, and in fact it is known that he did study two years at Salamanca. At the time of the death of Queen Isabella, when Cervantes was in Madrid, an envoy from the court of Rome, named Julio Aquaviva y Aragon, son of the Duke of Atri, arrived in the same city, bearing a message of condolence to Philip II., on the occasion of the death of his son Don Carlos. This envoy is described as fond of men of letters; and since Cervantes mentions having been in his service in Rome as valet de chambre, it is probable that he became acquainted with him on the occasion of his mission to Madrid, and being admitted into his family at that time, accompanied him to Italy.
Cervantes did not remain long in this situation, for, in the following year, we find him a private soldier in the Spanish troops in Italy. He soon had an opportunity to distinguish himself, for the Grand Turk Selim II., in violation of his treaties with Venice, having invaded the island of Cyprus, which belonged to that power, during a period of profound peace, the Venetians implored the aid of the Christian princes, especially of the Pope, Pius V., who immediately prepared his galleys for service, under the command of Marco Antonio Colonna, Duke of Paliano. The papal fleet, having
formed a junction with the fleets of Spain and Venice, entered the waters of the Levant in the summer of 1570, with the view of restraining the progress of the Turks; but, owing to the disputes and indecision of the commanders of the confederated forces, the Turks were allowed to take Nicosia by assault, the season passed without Cyprus being relieved, and the armaments, having suffered much from tempests, were obliged to retire into their respective ports. Cervantes served during the expedition as a private soldier, under the command of Colonna, probably on board of one of the galleys of Naples, in which city he passed the winter after the return of the expedition.
The court of Rome now united the various princes of Europe against the Turks, and on the 20th of May, 1571, the celebrated League was concluded between the Pope, the king of Spain and the State of Venice. Don John of Austria, natural son of Charles V., was appointed commander in chief of the fleets and armies of the confederacy. The forces, both military and naval, were immediately assembled at Messina. On the 15th of September the allied fleets set sail. After relieving Corfu, they fell in with the Turkish armada on the morning of October the 7th, in the neighborhood of Lepanto.
At this time, Cervantes being ill of a fever, his captain and comrades urged him not to take part in the action, but he answered that he would rather die fighting for God and his king, than remain under cover to preserve his life at the expense of his honor. He then requested the captain to place him in the post of most danger. His wish was granted, and the example of his courage so animated the other soldiers in the galley that they alone killed five hundred Turks, among whom was the commander of the flag ship of Alexandria, and took the royal standard of Egypt. Cervantes received in this action three gunshot wounds, two in the back and one in the left hand, (in consequence of the last, his left arm was disabled for life,) and contributed his full share to the complete victory of the Christians. He was accustomed ever after to speak of this battle as exceeding in glory all others, past, present or to. come, and to declare that he considered his participation in it cheaply purchased at the price of his wounds.
These wounds detained him at Messina until the end of April, 1572, when he joined the forces under the command of Colonna, and served in the Levant during the operations of that year. In the winter the Spanish forces remained in Messina,