I FIRMLY believe that the following tales have never seen the light of publicity. They are the folklore of Spain and Portugal.
Since the day when Hernando del Castillo, in 1511, published some of the romances of Spanish chivalry collected from the people, various works have appeared at different times, adding to the already rich store from that inexhaustible mine of song and story.
But, unfortunately for those who appreciate originality in a people, it was discovered that Boccaccio had been most unceremoniously plagiarized, and, what was still worse, that his defects had not been avoided.
The “Decameron” has, in fact, been the foundation of the majority of the romances attributed to the natives of the Peninsula when, as has too often been the case, they have in their songs of chivalry overstepped the limits imposed by decorum.
But this does not argue that the Spaniards and Portuguese have no poetry and no folklore of their own, but rather that the latter have been ignored by the compilers of such literature, in order to satisfy the cravings of the unfortunately too many admirers, even in this day, of that which would have been of advantage to the world at large had it never been imagined.
In England the tale of “Jack the Giant Killer” is read with avidity by all young people, for it is a purely national tale; but in Spain and Portugal such simple tales very seldom find a publisher, and children, and even their elders have to content themselves with hearing them recited by those who enliven the long wintry nights with such lore as I have attempted to reproduce from my memory, told me in my youth in the bosom of those two sister lands which produced the Cid Campeador and the Gran Vasco da Gama.
And, before closing this preface, I would remark that the North of Portugal, where I was born and bred, is richer in folklore than the rest of the kingdom, especially in tales about enchanted Moors and warlocks, of whom I, in common with the Portuguese, say, “Abernuncio.”