Moratin, Nicolas Fernandez De
MORATIN, NICOLAS FERNANDEZ DE (1737-1780), Spanish poet, was descended from an old Biscayan family, and was born at Madrid in 1737. He was educated at the Jesuit college in Calatayud, and afterwards studied law at the university of Valladolid. He then received an appointment in the service of Queen Elizabeth, the widow of Philip V., which enabled him to see much of the society of leading statesmen, poets, and men of letters ; and ultimately he became the leading spirit of the club of literary men which frequented the Fonda de San Sebastian and included Ayala, Cadahalso, Iriarte, Conti, and others. In 1772 he left the court, and was called to the bar ; four years afterwards he succeeded Ayala in the chair of poetry in the Imperial College. He died on 1 1 th May 1780.
Moratin became at an early period of his life a convert to the .opinions of those who (such as Montiano and others) were attempting to drive the native romantic drama from the Spanish stage, and his first literary efforts were devoted to the cause of theatrical reform. In 1762 he published three small pamphlets entitled Desengailo al Teatro Espanol (The Truth told about the Spanish Stage), in which he severely criticized the old drama generally, and particularly the still flourishing "auto sacramental." They were so far successful that the exhibition of "autos sacramentales " was prohibited by royal edict three years afterwards (June 1765). In 1762 he also published a play entitled La Petimetra (the PetiteMaitresse, or Female Fribble), the earliest original Spanish comedy formed avowedly on French models. It was preceded by a dissertation in which Lope de Vega and Calderon are very unfavourably criticized. Neither the Petimetra, however, nor the Luereeia, an original tragedy still more strictly in accordance with the conventions of the French stage, ever obtained the honour of a public representation. Two subsequent tragedies, Hormesinda (1770) and =man el Baena (1777), were exhibited with partial success. In 1764 Moratin published a collection of short pieces, chiefly cinder the title of El Poeta, and in 1765 a short didactic poem on the chase (Diana o Arte de la Ca;:a). Ills "epic canto" on the destruction of his ships by Cortes (Las Naves de Cortes Deal-aides), written, but without success, for a prize offered by the Academy in 1777, was not published until after his death (1785). It is justly characterized by Ticknor as "the noblest poem of its class produced in Spain during the 18th century ;" it must be remembered, however, that the historical epic iu Spain is chiefly remarkable for its mass. A volume of ayes Postumas, with a life, was published at Barcelona in 1821, and reprinted at London in 1825. See also Biblioteca de Aatores Espaholes, vol. ii. (1846).