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of la Rose, is the most tedious of doctors. So in England, Robert of Brunne transposes into verse the Manuel des Péchés of Bishop Grostête ; Adam Davie, certain Scripture histories; Hampole? composes the Pricke of Conscience. The titles alone make one yawn; what of the text?
Mankynde mad ys to do Goddus wylle,
As ye schal here after sone.'3 There is a poem! You did not think so; call it a sermon, if you will give it its proper name. It goes on, well divided, well prolonged, flowing and hollow; the literature which contains and resembles it bears witness of its origin by its loquacity and its clearness.
It bears witness to it by other and more agreeable features. Here and there we find divergences more or less awkward into the domain of genius; for instance, a ballad full of quips against Richard, King of the Romans, who was taken at the battle of Lewes. Moreover, charm is not lacking, nor sweetness either. No one has ever spoken so lively and so well to the ladies as the French of the Continent, and they have not quite forgotten this talent while settling in England. You perceive it readily in the manner in which they celebrate the Virgin. Nothing could be more different from the Saxon sentiment, which is altogether biblical, than the chivalric adoration of the sovereign Lady, the fascinating Virgin and Saint, who was the real deity of the middle ages. It breathes in this pleasing hymn:
*Blessed beo thu, lavedi,
So me led and steore.' There is but a short and easy step between this tender worship of the Virgin and the sentiments of the court of love. The English rhymesters take it; and when they wish to praise their earthly mistresses, they borrow, here as elsewhere, our ideas and very form of verse. One compares his lady to all kinds of precious stones and flowers; others sing truly amorous songs, at times sensual:
Bytuene Mershe and Aueril,
And lyht on Alysoun.'?
"Suete lemmon, y preye the, of loue one speche,
A suete cos of thy mouth mihte be my leche.'3 Is not this the lively and warm imagination of the south? They speak of springtime and of love, the fine and lovely weather,' like trouvères, even like troubadours. The dirty, smoke-grimed cottage, the black feudal castle, where all but the master lie higgledy-piggledy on the straw in the great stone hall, the cold rain, the muddy earth, make the return of the sun and the warm air delicious.
"Sumer is i-cumen in,
1 Time of Henry 111., Reliquiæ Antique, edited by Messrs. Wright and Halli. well, i. 102. : About 1278. Warton, i. 28.
8 Ibid. i. 31.
Groweth sed, and bloweth med,
Sing cuccu, cuccu.
Sing, cuccu nu,
Sing, cuccu. Here are glowing pictures, such as Guillaume de Lorris was writing at the same time, even richer and more lively, perhaps because the poet found here for inspiration that love of country life which in England is deep and national. Others, more imitative, attempt pleasantries like those of Rutebeuf and the fabliaux, frank quips, and even satirical, loose waggeries. Their true aim and end is to hit out at the monks. In every French country, or country which imitates France, the most manifest use of convents is to furnish material for sprightly and scandalous stories. One writes, for instance, of the kind of life they live at the abbey of Cocagne: . .
“There is a wel fair abbei,
1 Warton, i. 30. * Poem of the Owl and Nightingale, who dispute as to which has the finest
This is the triumph of gluttony and feeding. Moreover many things could be mentioned in the middle ages, which are now unmention
But it was the poems of chivalry, which represented to him in fair language his own mode of life, that the baron preferred to have translated. He desired that his trouvère should set before his eyes the magnificence which he has spread around him, and the luxury and enjoyments which he has introduced from France. Life at that time, without and even during war, was a great pageant, a brilliant and tumultuous kind of fête. When Henry II. travelled, he took with him a great number of knights, foot-soldiers, baggage-waggons, tents, warhorses, comedians, courtesans, and their overseers, cooks, confectioners, posture-makers, dancers, barbers, go-betweens, hangers-on. In the morning when they start, the assemblage begins to shout, sing, hustle each other, make racket and rout, 'as if hell were let loose.' William Longchamps, even in time of peace, would not travel without a thousand horses by way of escort. When Archbishop à Becket came to France, he entered the town with two hundred knights, a number of barons and nobles, and an army of servants, all richly armed and equipped, he himself being provided with four-and-twenty suits; two hundred and fifty children walked in front, singing national songs; then dogs, then carriages, then a dozen war-horses, each ridden by an ape and a man; then equerries, with shields and horses; then more equerries, falconers, a suite of domestics, knights, priests; lastly, the archbishop himself, with his particular friends. Imagine these processions, and also these entertainments; for the Normans, after the Conquest, borrowed from the Saxons the habit of excess in eating and drinking.' At the marriage of Richard Plantagenet, Earl of Cornwall, they provided thirty thousand dishes.3 Add to this, that they still continued to be gallant, and punctiliously performed the great precept of the love courts; be assured that in the middle age the sense of love was no more idle than the others. Mark also that tourneys were plentiful; a sort of opera prepared for their own entertainment. So ran their life, full of adventure and adornment, in the open air and in the sunlight, with show of cavalcades and arms; they act a pageant, and act it with enjoyment. Thus the King of Scots, having come to London with a hundred knights, at the coronation of Edward 1., they all dismounted, and made over their horses and superb caparisons to the people; as did also five English lords, emulating their example. In
? William of Malmesbury. 3 At the installation-feast of George Nevill, Archbishop of York, the brother of Guy of Warwick, there were consumed, 104 oxen and 6 wild bulls, 1000 sheep, 304 calves, as many hogs, 2000 swine, 500 stags, bucks, and does, 204 kids, 22,802 wild or tame fowl, 300 quarters of corn, 300 tuns of ale, 100 of wine, a pipe of hypocras, 12 porpoises and seals.
1 Letter of Peter of Blois.
the midst of war they took their pleasure. Edward m., in one of his expeditions against the King of France, took with him thirty falconers, and made his campaign alternately hunting and fighting. Another time, says Froissart, the knights who joined the army carried a plaster over one eye, having vowed not to remove it until they had performed an exploit worthy of their mistresses. Out of the very exube rancy of genius they practised the art of poetry ; out of the buoyancy of their imagination they made a sport of life. Edward 11. built at Windsor a round hall and a round table; and in one of his tourneys in London, sixty ladies, seated on palfreys, led, as in a fairy tale, each her knight by a golden chain. Was not this the triumph of the gallant and frivolous French fashions? His wife Philippa sat as a model to the artists for their Madonnas. She appeared on the field of battle ; listened to Froissart, who provided her with moral-plays, love-stories, and 'things fair to listen to.' At once goddess, heroine, and scholar, and all this so agreeably, was she not a true queen of polite chivalry? Now, as in France under Louis of Orleans and the Dukes of Burgundy, the most elegant flower of this romanesque civilisation appeared, void of common sense, given up to passion, bent on pleasure, immoral and brilliant, but, like its neighbours of Italy and Provence, for lack of serious intention, it could not last.
Of all these marvels the narrators make display in their accounts. Follow this picture of the vessel which takes the mother of King Richard into England:
*Swlk on ne seygh they never non;
On such subjects they never run dry. When the King of Hungary wishes to console his afflicted daughter, he proposes to take her to the chase in the following style:
• To-morrow ye shall in hunting fare;
1 These prodigalities and refinements grew to excess under his grandson Richard 11.
3 Warton, i. 156.