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ANCIENT PORTUGUESE BALLADS. 243
the exploits of the heroes of the great struggles for the expulsion of the Moors, form in themselves a rich body of national poetry, but they are supplemented by an immense number of episodical ballads relating to events in national history, and lyrical poems and songs expressing the strong feeling and intellectual energy of the people. Many scholars and poets of eminence in European countries have devoted themselves to the reproduction of these Spanish national poems in their own languages, and in England during the early part of the present century there was a strong bent of scholarship in that direction, induced to a considerable extent, probably, by the national interest in the Peninsular war. Southey, Scott, and John Hookham Frere gave admirable translations of Spanish national poems, and the spirited versions of ancient Spanish ballads by Lockhart have been justly considered a permanent addition to English poetry.
But no such degree of attention has been paid to Portuguese literature, although it possesses the same national characteristics as the Spanish, and is not inferior, except in volume, as regards the product of popular poetry and folk-song. This was natural enough. Except the great poem of Cam-oens, Portuguese literature possesses no masterpiece to compel the attention of the civilized world,