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Popularity Of Lope De Vega

Other writers, of the same age with Lope de Vega, obtained a wider

celebrity. Don Quixote, during the life of its ill-requited author, was

naturalized in countries where the name of Lope de Vega was not known,

and Du Bartas was translated into the language of every reading people.

But no writer ever has enjoyed such a share of popularity.

"Cardinal Barberini," says Lord Holland, "followed Lope with veneration
/> in the streets; the king would stop to gaze at such a prodigy; the people

crowded round him wherever he appeared; the learned and studious thronged

to Madrid from every part of Spain to see this phoenix of their country,

this monster of literature; and even Italians, no extravagant admirers,

in general, of poetry that is not their own, made pilgrimages from their

country for the sole purpose of conversing with Lope. So associated

was the idea of excellence with his name, that it grew, in common

conversation, to signify anything perfect in its kind; and a Lope

diamond, a Lope day, or a Lope woman, became fashionable and familiar

modes of expressing their good qualities."

Lope's death produced an universal commotion in the court and in the

whole kingdom. Many ministers, knights, and prelates were present when

he expired; among others, the Duke of Sesa, who had been the most

munificent of his patrons, whom he appointed his executor, and who was

at the expense of his funeral, a mode by which the great men in that

country were fond of displaying their regard for men of letters. It was

a public funeral, and it was not performed till the third day after his

death, that there might be time for rendering it more splendid, and

securing a more honourable attendance. The grandees and nobles who were

about the court were all invited as mourners; a novenary or service of

nine days was performed for him, at which the musicians of the royal

chapel assisted; after which there were exequies on three successive

days, at which three bishops officiated in full pontificals; and on each

day a funeral sermon was preached by one of the most famous preachers of

the age. Such honours were paid to the memory of Lope de Vega, one of

the most prolific, and, during his life, the most popular, of all poets,

ancient or modern.

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