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ArribaAbajo Galdós' early Journalism in Madrid and the Las Novedades (Dis-)Connection

Roger L. Utt

The Territory

Thanks to the energy, patience, bibliographical resourcefulness, and sheer luck of a small group of scholars, the outlines of Galdós' pre-novelistic career in Madrid -during the years of constant political and social turmoil from the mid -1860s to the early 1870s- have been sketched in such a way as to enable a determined researcher to follow Don Benito's general itinerary from one newspaper office to another and, more importantly, to begin to evaluate both the political education and the developing literary skills of the young writer during this formative period in his life94. It should be remembered, however, that we can speak only of biobibliographical outlines, that is, the bare essentials of Galdós' journalistic career, the features of which even now are scarcely more than mere contour lines on a colorless topographic map. For this reason, Emily Letemendía's claim that «Galdós' journalistic activities, especially in connection with periodicals such as La Nación, Las Cortes, la Revista del Movimiento Intelectual de Europa, La Ilustración de Madrid, la Revista de España and La Guirnalda, during the years immediately following his arrival in Madrid in 1862, are well known...» is either premature or slightly misleading95. What this critic means is that recent investigation, including her own, has turned up a great number of long-buried journalistic texts, which is not the same thing as revealing hitherto unknown «activities», such as important or unexpectedly significant associations, influential friendships, political involvements, etc. In any case, the maps now available to us for studying this territory are at best difficult to read and incomplete.

Several factors complicate this situation. For a start, if we know a good deal less about the complex phenomenon of this novelist than we should wish to know, a portion of the blame may be laid to the writer himself: Pérez Galdós, whose historical and psychological spotlight broadly illuminated his nation's people and their history with particular refractions of a characteristic intensity and selectivity, turned that light upon himself so infrequently and so fleetingly that in its subtle and deceptive strobe-like flashes we are never quite sure what we have seen. As Berkowitz noted, the novelist himself mentioned his journalistic career in general terms for the first time in 1894, stating that before the publication of La Fontana de Oro [1870] «sólo había fatigado las piernas colaborando [anó]nimamente en este o el otro periódico», and that in 1870 he was on the staff of El Debate. But this information, vague and not quite accurate, relates to the end of Galdós' career as journalist; its beginning he did not reveal until 1912.96






And if Galdós' hermetism has been a constant frustration to his biographers -from Clarín, in 1880, to Madariaga de la Campa, a hundred years later- his critics, on the other hand, have found Galdós' specific silences about himself something of a mixed blessing, since they leave ample room for the most disparate, even flatly contradictory interpretations of many facets of both the man and his art.97

In taking care to keep to himself not only his intimate personal life but much of his professional experience as well, Galdós was really no more secretive than most Spaniards, who, as Unamuno, Ortega, and many others have observed, are loath to expose themselves in print. This aversion to intimate self-advertisement is practically a commonplace of Spanish culture and literature. It is therefore understandable that when, in 1912, Luis Antón del Olmet and Arturo García Carraffa conceived the idea of publishing a series of books consisting of extensive personal interviews with famous contemporaries, beginning with Galdós, they considered the undertaking quite original and even «audacious»98. Nor is it surprising that their resulting book tells us much less about its illustrious subject than we might otherwise expect. Finally, Galdós' own Memorias de un desmemoriado (1916) -whose defensively ironic title cannot, of course, be taken seriously- are scarcely more satisfying in this regard.

A second complication arises from the manner in which biobibliographical rescue efforts have proceeded. Prior to Shoemaker's extraordinary first discovery and publication in 1948 of Galdosian «incunabula», little attention was paid -and none in any systematic way- to the novelist's carliest «activities», not even by one of the foremost students of Galdós' life and works:

Indeed, Casalduero did not take into account any of Galdós' journalistic work or any of his miscellaneous literary compositions, revealing as these are of his ideas. He doubtless considered such revelations extrinsic and therefore irrelevant to the author's development as an imaginative writer...99

It is to Shoemaker's credit that he has persuaded many galdosistas that «an author's known ideas, wherever expressed, cannot but have a bearing on and a place in his total ideology, if only in some cases perhaps to show a lack of integrality in his thinking» (Shoemaker, Estudios, pp. 50-51). By putting this preachment into practice, Shoemaker, Pattison, Hoar, and others have retrieved from obscurity scores of early non-fiction writings and other important «lost» texts, the existence of which has (still) not been acknowledged in the standard modern collection of Galdós' Obras completas (8 vols., Madrid: Aguilar, 1970-71).

In many instances it has been difficult -though not impossible, as Berkowitz rashly predicted it would be100- to identify Galdós' contributions to a particular journal or newspaper because, in keeping with common journalistic practice, they often either appeared anonymously or wore a baffling disguise of cryptic or misleading initials. But the equally common practice of repeated publication of the same article in one or more different newspapers has enabled researchers to identify Galdosian texts by comparing an anonymous or deceptively initialed article or story as it appeared in one periodical with the identical piece published elsewhere, over Galdós' signature.   —75→   The most extreme example of multiple publication of a Galdós text is the editorial itinerary of his allegorical story, La conjuración de las palabras, which was published (and possibly paid for) at least eight times before its appearance in the 1889 La Guirnalda edition of Torquemada en la hoguera101. It is evident that these reprints were not all submitted by Galdós himself, nor did they necessarily appear with his prior consent. The second re-publication of La pluma en el viento in El Imparcial illustrates this point, as we see in a letter to Galdós from José Ortega Munilla, editor of that newspaper's prestigious literary supplement. The letter, dated 16 October 1879 (three days after the first part of Galdós' story appeared in the supplement), not only attests to the high esteem with which the powerfully influential publisher regarded Galdós as a writer; it also shows that multiple publication could be a rather haphazard affair, and it further reveals a certain relativism in the journalistic ethics of the day:

[...] Como es para mí cuestión de honra literaria que Los Lunes de El Imparcial sean buenos y para esto es preciso que usted me ayude, con sus artículos, y como me constaba su falta de tiempo, pedí a Cámara [Galdós' agent] algún cuento de usted y he empezado a publicar como habrá usted visto La pluma en el viento que la gente cree original. Es una deliciosa alegoría que ha de producir gran emoción a cuantos la lean. ¡Perdón por haberla insertado sin su permiso! Usted es mi maestro -¡mal que le pese!- y está obligado a prestarme su apoyo, a fin de que el pabellón de la novela no se deshonre...102

The footnotes in much recent criticism and biobibliographical work on Galdós tell similar stories; and they contain a great deal of new raw material which will have to be carefully sifted by the scholar -or, more probably, the coordinated team of scholars- who must eventually undertake the truly awesome and necessary task of writing a new biography and editing a genuinely complete Obras completas of this eminent European novelist. But first things first: One purpose of the present article is to show that some of this material can be made far more comprehensible and accessible, and thus more useful to future investigators.

The Map

What was once considered the biographically impenetrable decade of Galdós' existence, that is, the first ten years of his residence in the capital (1863-1873), is, as I have indicated, certainly less of a mystery to us now than it was to Berkowitz in the 1940s. The puzzle, however, is far from complete; and anyone who wishes simply to view the state of the puzzle is soon dismayed to find that the pieces themselves -the contours on the topographic map- have never been arranged in such a way as to be perceived clearly in relation to one another, partly because they are widely scattered in the critical literature and partly because the precision with which dates and names must necessarily be recorded, especially when dealing with journalistic material, makes the forest disappear behind bewildering taxonomies of its particular trees. For example, the reader of the following note, in Leo Hoar's meticulously documented study on Galdós' articles in the Revista del Movimiento   —76→   Intelectual de Europa, is likely to find its important information difficult to grasp if he is reading carefully with a view to arranging mentally all of Hoar's data in a chronological sequence:

Los artículos de Galdós aparecieron en La Nación de manera intermitente desde el 3 de febrero de 1865 hasta el 23 de septiembre de 1870; excepción hecha, naturalmente, del período de suspensión (21 de junio de 1866 a 31 de diciembre del año siguiente). Sus artículos para la REVISTA [del Movimiento Intelectual de Europa] corren desde el 26 de noviembre de 1865 al 30 de diciembre de 1867; con la salvedad, asimismo, de la interrupción que sufrió el semanario (29 de mayo de 1865 a 2 de noviembre de 1867).103

The problem with this type of notation is that it is very nearly unreadable. This is so because the spatially and temporally sequential nature of scholarly exposition is poorly equipped to give a graspable rendering of irregular and asynchronous cycles of multiple simultaneities and discontinuities. And in the case of Galdós' extraordinarily active early journalistic career, the problem is acute, that is, it is simply too complicated to be meaningfully expressed and understood by linguistic formulations alone. The easiest way to solve the problem and untangle the biobibliographical knots it inevitably creates is to arrange this information graphically. An attempt of this sort, presented in this way for the first time in Galdosian studies, accompanies this article. It provides a diachronic and synchronic view of Galdós' journalistic activities in Madrid during the decade of his «apprenticeship» as an artist and includes those which have been proven beyond question by Shoemaker, Hoar, et al., as well as one which remains entirely speculative (no articles by Galdós in El Contemporáneo have yet been identified), one which deserves mention only because of the high literary reputation of the journal, La América, in which a Galdós story was reprinted at a very early stage in his literary career, and one -the Las Novedades connection- for which there is now positive proof linking Galdós to that important newspaper. The graph does not, and of course cannot, attempt to include more than a minuscule fraction of titles. Those mentioned are intended for orientation only; and the space which the many items not cited would otherwise occupy is thus available for notations pertinent to the individual user's own interests.104

Las Novedades: Connections and Disconnections

The publication, in 1968, of Leo Hoar's remarkable discovery of forty previously unknown articles written by Galdós for the Revista del Movimiento Intelectual de Europa (hereafter, RMIE), with its still indispensable introductory study, clarified a great many obscure aspects of Galdós' early journalistic career, such as the priority of the RMIE in the writer's literary apprenticeship, the evolution of certain stylistic traits and thematic preferences, the disposition of journalistic manuscripts, mistaken attributions and associations, and some new reasons for Galdós' voluntary silences regarding his journalistic affairs (La Nación, for example, was paying for «original» articles that had, in fact, already appeared anonymously, usually in a slightly altered form, in the RMIE, and vice-versa [Hoar, pp. 50-53]). Having demonstrated   —77→   the closely dependent relationship, both material and editorial, between the RMIE and its illustrious parent publication, Las Novedades (whose printing facilities the RMIE shared), Hoar arrived at the following conclusion:

Si los cronistas y bibliógrafos de la prensa hispana son culpables de una falsa valoración de Galdós como periodista, en vista de cuanto llevamos dicho sacaremos la conclusión de que todos los que identificaron a Galdós como redactor de Las Novedades, no profundizaron en la materia. Semejante omisión es inconcebible, a menos que todos ellos ignorasen que Galdós trabajó únicamente para la [RMIE] y no para [Las Novedades].

(Hoar, pp. 40-41)                

This critic well knows that the labyrinths of the Spanish press often yield the unexpected: «Such finds as [the «lost» Galdós story] Rompecabezas are some of the dividends awaiting researchers in the Spanish press who may be investigating other materials about Galdós or other figures of the period»105. But his conclusion on the Las Novedades question is so convincingly presented in his study of the RMIE and so strongly restated in subsequent articles that only a serendipitous research encounter of the sort described by Hoar himself could be expected to turn up evidence to disprove his claim.

The founder and original editor of Las Novedades was Ángel Fernández de los Ríos (1821-1880), politician, occasional revolutionary conspirator, and journalist of high reputation in Liberal Monarchist circles before he reached the age of thirty. Of his culminating journalistic achievement, Press historian Martínez Olmedilla says:

Durante dieciocho años -de 1850 a 1868- Las Novedades se publicaron triunfalmente, difundiéndose por toda España y proclamando los méritos de su fundador, que con increíble dinamismo atendía a todos los aspectos del periódico...

(pp. 150-51; cf. Ossorio, p. 134, and Gómez Aparicio, I, 363-64)                

This assertion of the extraordinary success of Las Novedades is statistically corroborated by Cabrera et al.: According to franking tariff notices regularly published in the Gaceta de Madrid, Las Novedades was by far the most widely circulated newspaper in Spain from 1854 through 1860; from 1861 through 1864, it shared this hegemony with the conservative Correspondencia de España, to which it gradually lost ground in subsequent years. At the end of 1868 Las Novedades ranked eight in circulation, tenth in 1869, fourteenth in 1870 and 1871; in 1872, the year of the paper's definitive cessation, Las Novedades's circulation fell below that of fifteen other dailies (Cabrera et al., pp. 99-108). The main reason for the rapid decline in the paper's popularity after the Revolution -the dramatic shift in its ideological orientation- provides for us the clue that unlocks the mystery of Galdós' association with this paper. A brief exposition of key historical events and circumstances is necessary to show how this is so and, ultimately, to give proper perspective to Galdós' place in this scenario.

Immediately after the Revolution of 1868, the Liberal Union candidate for the vacant Spanish throne -Antonio María Felipe Luis de Borbón-Orleáns, Duque de Montpensier (1824-1890), the ambitious husband of the dethroned Queen Isabel's sister, María Luisa Fernanda, and tireless conspirator against his sister-in-law- began a systematic, deftly orchestrated, and   —78→   well-financed campaign (from his residence-in-exile in Lisbon) to sabotage the only other candidacy which he regarded as a threat to his own prospects for becoming King of Spain: that of the Portuguese ex-King Fernando de Coburgo. Aided in Portugal by the Spanish Ambassador, Cipriano del Mazo, and in Spain by his Liberal Unionist supporters,

Montpensier surveyed the situation and decided that his chances were good. He turned to the press as a means of attracting support and of countering Progresista objections. During the period of his candidature, the Duke either founded or subsidized fourteen dailies and six weeklies in Madrid, all of which vociferously defended his claim to the throne.106

The number of Portuguese publications bought or controlled by Montpensier is not known, but it must have been considerable, for his influence in Lisbon was tentacular107. Evidence that Montpensier spared no expense and left no stone unturned in pursuing his obsession is found in a bizarre coded letter to his close associate and conspiratorial aide in Madrid, the journalist Enrique Cisneros, who was then Undersecretary of the Overseas Ministry. On 20 February 1869 Montpensier wrote:

Querido Marcos [Cisneros' code name]: gracias por su siempre interesante carta del 18 que se esperaba con ansia. Siento no haya admitido su oferta el director del Diario Español, pues nadie sabe como él decir ciertas cosas. Aún sentiré más ver confirmada la noticia de dejar su puesto Ernesto [Adelardo López de Ayala, Overseas Minister in Serrano's Provisional Government], este amigo fiel y resuelto con quien contábamos siempre y más que nunca en días de peligro como los que corren y correrán. Han publicado ya, y con creces, todo lo que se podía decir sobre el Músico [Fernando de Coburgo] y su amiga [Elisa Hensler, a German singer who was at the moment the widower Fernando's mistress; a few weeks after her elevation to noble rank by King William of Prussia, she became Fernando's wife, on 10 June 1869]. Ella hace todo lo que puede para retraerle de toda tentación y él manifiesta [in Montpensier's newspapers] a todos su odio a España y a ser mezclado ahí en nada. Si eso llega a las regionales del Congreso y Gobierno y es sincero, dejarlos quietos: si no es sincera la negativa absoluta que me dicen ha dado, corran su suerte. En mi concepto esa idea ha asaltado siempre a Cirilo [Prim] y N. III [Napoleón], la Reacción completa con el hijo de la Sra. [Isabel II] que se fue en Sbre. para no volver. No he tenido detalles más que por los periódicos sobre la sesión de la mayoría y siempre espero las noticias parlamentarias y políticas del caballero Marcos que cada día aprecio más. También deseo saber la verdad de lo que pasa en Cuba, pues estuve muy tentado de ofrecerme ir allí, en lugar de vegetar en las orillas del Tajo y del Guadalquivir [Montpensier's San Telmo palace in Sevilla overlooked the river, as it does today] hasta la constitución definitiva del país, si ésta ha de alargar lo que se dice, Lea los periódicos portugueses y verá Ud. con qué desprecio hablan de España. [...] Veo los ataques de La Iberia [Calvo Asencio's liberal daily, the fourth most widely circulated newspaper in Spain in 1869]. Supongo los contestarán.108

At the same time that Montpensier was thus engaged in discrediting Fernando both morally and politically -and thereby indirectly poisoning Luso-Hispanic relations far more profoundly than he could have foreseen- Prim, as interim head of state, was doggedly pursuing two main objectives in his own dynastic negotiations:

el de no tener que volverse atrás del solemne jamás que había pronunciado, y el de lograr la aceptación de un príncipe que no repugnase al emperador Napoleón con quien, reconciliado después de su golpe de estado mejicano, [...] deseaba el general conservar amistosas relaciones.109

The man Prim picked to undertake the counter-conspiracy (singlehandedly, except for his Lisbon contact, the Marqués de Niza) was his unconditional   —79→   supporter, Ángel Fernández de los Ríos, one of whose qualifications for this delicate mission was that he had never set foot in Lisbon (Rivas, pp. 134-35). For six months, from mid-January to mid-July 1869, Fernández de los Ríos acted in the strictest secrecy as Prim's personal agent in Lisbon, conducting daily negotiations either with Fernando himself of with his intermediary, Niza -with the approval of Cabinet members Sagasta, Figuerola, and Ruiz Zorrilla, but entirely unbeknownst not only to Ambassador Mazo but also to Montpensier and, of course, to members of the Spanish press (Rivas, pp. 135-54). This first phase of the negotiations ended in stalemate. The second phase began when Fernández de los Ríos was formally appointed Ambassador to Portugal in July 1869, after Prim arranged to have his political nemesis, the montpensierista Cipriano del Mazo, quietly transferred to the Spanish Legation in Berlin (Rivas, p. 172). In July 1870, after the Cortes has agreed to a number of conditions imposed by Fernando, the negotiations finally collapsed as a result of a dispute over the wording of a clause in the formal agreement outlining the conditions of succession and of Portuguese autonomy, which was himself a staff writer on this paper from 1869 to 1871 (Ossorio, pp. 129 cently ratified by the Cortes (Rivas, pp. 185-96; cf. Fernández Almagro, pp. 68-69).

With this historical background in mind, let us return now to Las Novedades and to the circumstances of Galdós' association with this newspaper. It would appear that on this question Leo Hoar has drawn his conclusions too hastily, and much too strenuously, in dismissing the testimony of three generally reliable witnesses who attest to that association: Hartzenbusch (p. 129), Ossorio y Bernard (p. 342), and Martínez Olmedilla (p. 150). Furthermore, Ossorio y Bernard, who lists Galdós as a redactor of Las Novedades, was himself a staff writer on this paper from 1869 to 1871 (Ossorio, pp. 129 and 319) and was thus in the best possible position to know who was employed there during this period. (It is true, however, that Ossorio's notation for Galdós is misleading, since it reads, «fue redactor de Las Novedades y de La Nación (1867)...», and we know that both papers were suspended until the end of that year). Finally, we find two of Galdós' most intimate Canarian friends and fellow journalists -names which figure prominently in Galdós' adventures and misadventures from the very moment of his arrival in Madrid- on the staff of Las Novedades: both Hartzenbusch (p. 129) and Ossorio (p. 130) list Valeriano Fernández Ferraz as an employee of the paper (though neither specifies the dates of his employment), and Ossorio indicates (p. 44) that the notorious Luis Benítez de Lugo, Marqués de la Florida, was a redactor of Las Novedades in 1870. It is not extravagant to surmise that either or both of these close and well-connected friends persuaded their editor José Plácido Sansón (also Canarian!) to admit Don Benito to the paper's staff, after the demise of the RMIE (which had been printed on the presses of Las Novedades and edited by one of that newspaper's staff writers) and concurrently with his work for the newly resurrected La Nación110. By Hoar's own reckoning, Galdós was already quite highly esteemed in journalistic circles by 1867 (BPG y la RMIE, pp. 46-47), and it follows that the management at   —80→   Las Novedades would have been happy to welcome to its ranks the up-and-coming young journalist, especially since by 1868 not only had the circulation of Las Novedades fallen well behind that of La Correspondencia de España (Liberal Union organ, the control of which by Montpensier soon became notorious)111, La Iberia (Progressive), and El Pensamiento Español (Carlist), but it was also being outsold two-to-one by the democratic-monarchist El Imparcial which in March of that year was only twelve months old (Cabrera et al., p. 107). The decline in popularity of Las Novedades was due mainly to the political orientation of its second owner, Nemesio Fernández Cuesta y Picatoste112. The duration of Fernández de los Ríos' direct influence on the policies of Las Novedades is not known, but presumably it was he, the paper's original owner, who sold it to Fernández Cuesta in 1857. What is clear, however, is that Fernández Cuesta was a good deal more hospitable than his predecessor to politically conservative pressures, as we may readily infer from a brief and suggestive passage in Ossorio's account of his career:

Los sucesos políticos de 1866 le hicieron emigrar a Portugal, donde entró en relaciones con el duque de Montpensier; y triunfante la revolución de 1868, [...] consagró Las Novedades a la defensa de la candidatura del duque de Montpensier.

(p. 129)                

On a Thursday, 14 January 1869 -the same day that Fernández de los Ríos received official orders, signed by Prim, Sagasta, Figuerola, and Ruiz Zorrilla, authorizing his top secret mission to Portugal113- Las Novedades portentously announced its new political affiliation in a front-page editorial entitled «La monarquía democrática y la candidatura al trono». In view of Portugal's defensive alarm over the question of Spain's dynastic -and perhaps military- intentions, says the editorial,

el advenimiento al trono español de un príncipe de la dinastía portuguesa, en primer lugar no respondería al fin principal de su llamamiento, y en segundo haría sumamente impopular a orillas del Tajo al elegido por nosotros.

Por eso el rey viudo D. Fernando de Coburgo ha rechazado continua y constantemente cuantas indicaciones se le han hecho en la materia, lo mismo y más si cabe después de septiembre que cuando nuestra revolución estaba en vías de prepararse. Portugal se sublevaría hoy en masa contra cualquier indicio de anexión, o de fusión, o de federación con España; y Portugal, muy probablemente, impediría a toda costa que uno de sus príncipes aceptara el cetro castellano, aunque el interesado lo deseara con toda su alma.

Imposible, pues, la candidatura portuguesa...

Also dismissing Amadeo de Saboya as a suitable candidate, the editorial concludes:

Consideren los electores de una parte quiénes son los enemigos de la candidatura que, a nuestro juicio, es la mejor; consideren también la urgencia y la necesidad de oponer a los esfuerzos combinados de los enemigos de la revolución un poder sólidamente constituido por la Soberanía Nacional en Cortes Constituyentes, y si como nosotros piensan, voten candidatos que contribuyan al pronto establecimiento de la monarquía democrática, y que llamen al trono a D. Antonio de Orleáns, duque de Montpensier.

Las Novedades remained ominously quiet for a week. The reason for this sudden suspension of political activity was delicately revealed on 23 January in its editorial, «Las novedades. Nuestro artículo del jueves»:


Sentimos profundamente que se hayan separado de nuestro lado algunos de los hombres que, desde un tiempo más o menos distante, vienen defendiendo en Las Novedades las ideas progresistas, a que rendimos desde el principio de nuestra vida política constante adoración; y lo sentimos tanto más, cuanto que sólo podemos atribuir su alejamiento de Las Novedades a su distinto modo de pensar sobre la persona a quien la nación debe confiar la corona...

The following day El Imparcial, in its regular «Cuestiones del día» column, addressed more forthrightly the crisis precipitated at Las Novedades by the «cambio completo de su redacción» and pointed out the glaring contradictions between that paper's very recent pro-Iberist declarations and its sudden endorsement of Montpensier. As a matter of record, the El Imparcial editorial not only mentioned the names of the new staff members and their new director, Juan Ruiz del Cerro; it also revealed that one of those who suddenly found themselves voluntarily unemployed was a twenty-five-year-old staff writer from Las Palmas:

Hasta el 12 del corriente sus redactores fueron los Sres. D. Agustín de la Paz Bueso, D. Valeriano Fernández Ferraz, D. Benito Pérez Galdós, D. Víctor Feijóo, y D. Carlos Moreno López; pero no estando conformes sin duda con la resolución adoptada por nuestro colega en la cuestión dinástica, se separaron definitivamente de la redacción...

(For its part, El Imparcial maintained -as it had done since it first appeared twenty-two months earlier- a kind of favorably-disposed neutrality both toward Fernando and toward the issue of iberismo in general, and even now assured readers that its strong criticism of Las Novedades should not be construed as an implicit endorsement of the Portuguese candidate, «por más que le conceptuemos como uno de los príncipes más a propósito para consolidar en nuestro país los principios de nuestra revolución... Pero, o las Novedades ha olvidado la historia del iberismo en España, o a sabiendas abandona los poderosos medios con que la ocasión le brinda para preparar, en cuanto de nosotros depende, la unión irremisible de dos pueblos a quien la naturaleza no ha querido separar». On 11 February, however, Eduardo Gasset's newspaper finally dropped this transparently cautious pose, and El Imparcial for once joined its venerable competitor, La Época, in openly declaring for Fernando. Both of these highly influential newspapers actively supported Fernando's candidacy as long as possible, and both aggressively challenged that of Montpensier as long as necessary: On 12 March 1870 the Duque de Montpensier effectively frustrated his own ambitions -and, incidentally, those of Las Novedades- by killing in a duel Isabel II's cousin, the Infante Don Enrique de Borbón-Parma, Duque de Sevilla, who was himself an outspokenly liberal pretender to the throne and a bitter enemy of Montpensier, whom he had always held partly responsible for thwarting his suit for his cousin Isabel's hand in 1846. Galdós devoted nearly half of his historical novel, España trágica [1909] to this bizarre and little-remembered episode; and in his Montpensier necrology, written in 1890 for La Prensa in Buenos Aires, Galdós «remembered» only that during the Duke's candidacy, «empeñadas luchas hubo entonces en la Prensa y en los círculos todos sobre este asunto, y hay que reconocer que la candidatura de don Antonio de Orleáns no tuvo nunca calor en la opinión»).114


Galdós' resignation from Las Novedades does not necessarily testify to any profound commitment on his part to Fernando's candidacy or, for that matter, to the movimiento iberista in general, although he could hardly have been unaware of the newspaper's position on this central issue. More likely, it was the sudden and complete reversal of the paper's long-standing liberal tradition which outraged him and his staff colleagues and precipitated their resignation en masse. In any case, Galdós' association with Las Novedades -as Pattison, Shoemaker, and others have long suspected- now seems established beyond question; and since the RMIE had ceased publication a full year before Galdós' abrupt departure from Las Novedades was announced, Leo Hoar's repeated claim that scholars have all along confused the two closely related publications is thus invalidated.

To date, only one Las Novedades article has been attributed to Galdós. This is a review of Ventura Ruiz Aguilera's verse collection, El Libro de la Patria, which first appeared anonymously in Las Cortes on 21 April 1869. Hoar re-examined Galdós' alleged authorship of this article -and more importantly, Galdós' role as a political reporter for this paper- when he discovered the identical review text, signed by Galdós, in the 20 March 1870 edition of an obscure Havana paper, the Juan Palomo, to which several of Galdós' friends in Madrid were regular contributors115. Some two weeks after the review's original appearance, Las Novedades published, on 9 May 1869, a partially similar review of Aguilera's El Libro de la Patria, signed only with the initial «B». Without mentioning Hoar's analysis, Shoemaker insists that this is Galdós' work, on the grounds that «un trozo de poco más de tres párrafos» in the Las Novedades review -and in its reprint in the 1880 edition of Aguilera's Poesías- corresponds exactly to a passage in the Las Cortes text116. Another student of Galdós' journalism, Alfonso Cervantes, considers that the questionable article «parece haber sido aceptado para las hojas de Las Novedades después de percibirse su mérito en [Las Cortes]», but he had not seen the latter text117. Hoar, however, points out that «the Las Novedades review is brief and quite different in style and tone from the usual Galdós article or review, and is routine in its handling of the work, using a few short pieces from the work to illustrate the review, whereas Galdós' review employs several large segments of the poet's craft»118. Above all this bibliographical anarchy, one small but decisive fact now stands clear: Galdós had resigned in protest from Las Novedades fully four months before the questionable review appeared in that paper. And if Hoar rejects Galdós' authorship of the piece on the grounds of style, tone, and content, the historical evidence adduced here also leans heavily in favor of his conclusion since Galdós would surely not have sent any material voluntarily to a newspaper with whose ideology he now differed so sharply and to whose management and new staff he certainly owed no favors. In short, the Las Novedades article is not a «lost» text but a partially smuggled one. Like the Galdós story that Ortega Munilla discreetly printed in El Imparcial's literary supplement without the author's permission, the review's three-paragraph reprinted passage was discreetly borrowed from the original nineteen-paragraph Las Cortes text by a reviewer at Las Novedades who had run out of ideas, but not out of resources. It was, as Ortega put it, a «cuestión de honra literaria». In this case, however, the   —83→   nature of the trespass is ironically suggested in the article's truncated signature: only the «B» of «Benito Pérez Galdós» can claim the text. It is, after all, an «honorable» attribution -and a fitting remembrance of that young journalist's sudden disconnection from a once-great newspaper. The wider irony is this: After mid-January 1869 Las Novedades, itself disjointed from political realities in Spain, published only its own obituary.

Although there are no signed articles by Galdós elsewhere in Las Novedades119, it is not improbable that a careful researcher will uncover some anonymous contributions. A glance at the chart accompanying these notes shows where to look first: from 7 January to early June of 1868, and from early October of that year to 12 January 1869. The October date is supplied by Galdós himself, who recalls in his Memorias, with admirable precision, that after spending the summer in France, «a las pocas horas de llegar a la Villa y Corte tuve la inmensa dicha de presenciar, en la Puerta del Sol, la entrada de Serrano». It was Saturday, 3 October 1868.

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