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Spanish poet and folklorist, b. at Montellana, Biscay, in 1821; d. at Bilbao, 10 March, 1889. In 1836 he went to Madrid, hoping to make a livelihood by literary pursuits. To earn his daily bread he discharged the duties of a clerk in a small commercial house, but all the while he beguiled his leisure and his moments of regret by writing little poems and tales redolent of the yearnings and sympathies of a Basque transplanted to the busy cosmopolitan centre. Won over to him by the charm of his writings, Queen Isabella II made him historiographer of the Biscayan district, and he held this post until her flight in 1868. His popularity was fixed by the appearance of his first collection of lyrics, the "Libro de los cantares" (Madrid, 1852). Various collections of his tales, especially charming when they deal with his native region and its people, appeared in 1859, 1860, and 1866. In his more ambitious attempts at writing a novel, as in his work dealing with the Cid of history and legend, he failed signally; he was too conscientiously a recorder of the past and left his imagination no free play. He remains an amiable writer of second rank, but no one can read without sympathy and appreciation his pretty little songs fragrant with love for the landscape of his northern Spanish home. He deserves serious notice among the earlier writers who helped to develop the novel of manners in the Spain of the nineteenth century.


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