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untiring auditors. This reception would, on the other side, animate Wales and Brittany to improve still further in this fertile branch of poetry. William the Conqueror profited by this thirst for exploits in order to subdue England; the Church for the expeditions against Toledo and the Saracens, and for the Crusades in the East; and it did not cease so long as chivalry existed, and bodily strength retained its full value. The dignity of knighthood was not hereditary, but purely individual; it was the reward of merit, and its value depended on the person who bore it. Bodily strength and the sword procured glory; which was the greater, if the hero withstood the attack alone and without succour. The heroes of the Mabinogion are knights-errant, who all seek adventures separately, and it was this, which above all, engaged the attention of the listening knight, who, placing himself in the situation of the hero, ruminated over the wonders of the tale as if he himself had witnessed them."
Our author's disquisition on the influence of Welsh tradition on the literature of France, with regard to construction, and also his views relative to the same influence on the literature of Germany and of Scandinavia, must be sought for in the Essay itself. These are his conclusions in briefest form, viz.: First, "That the French repeated the Breton traditions with a chivalrous enthusiasm; that the Breton traditions rendered the French Raconteurs poets:" Secondly, "The Germans inspired the Breton traditions with a German soul; the German Raconteurs created poetry from the Breton traditions:" and Thirdly, The Scandinavians received the Breton traditions as poetry, and disseminated them as such." These, according to the learned and philosophic Professor, were the differences in the manner in which the traditions of Wales influenced the poets, and the poets influenced tradition in the three nations mentioned. Let an extract now close our paper. The subject is the Fall of Chivalry.
"While in the ancient poetry of the East, we trace its slow developement, and see its astonishing preservation during entire ages, and observe in ancient classic poetry a progressive movement, until, having arrived at its highest point, it sinks gradually into barbarism;-in modern poetry, on the contrary, each successive fall only appears to be the foundation for a new and hitherto unknown flight. The tales of Arthur, short, confined within narrow limits, and in the commencement of slight importance to the world, passed into Brittany. After five centuries, we find them, separated from their historical foundation, forgetting their patriotic signification, and on the point of degenerating into fanciful and arbitrary fablesrevivified in France by a combination with chivalry, and gaining with it universal importance, Again, when the first charm of the fantastic richness of the subject was over, when the want of reality in the characters and of a higher and more intellectual principle was felt, and the inspiriting elements of chivalry were nearly exhausted, poetry rose again on the wings of faith by an union with the tradition of the Graal. It was poetry
that preserved the remembrance of Arthur's heroes, viz., Lancelot, Tristan, &c., and while it flowed on and constantly improved, it extended itself on every side and became an universal literature, until there did not remain a country or a poet in Europe to which it was unknown. From the Tagus to the Archipelago, from Sicily to Iceland, the romances of Arthur were listened to with delight. But the ancient, religious, and valiant chivalry had perished during the course of three centuries, and an affectation of former habits of life produced but a spiritless and artificial imitation. The ancient language became unknown, and its poetical form inconvenient. It resolved itself into an easy and free prose, and the chivalrous elements of the ancient models were lost in a love of imaginary adventures. The ecclesiastical doctrines had nourished and exercised the absurd faculty of sporting with the most abstract ideas, and the moral element, which, it is true, was but faintly discoverable in the ancient romances, transformed itself into a dull allegory, or was lost in a monstrous mysticism. "Thus the romances of Amadis represent the modern chivalry of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, without dissimulating their origin viz., the Breton traditions of Arthur; and the supernatural beings of the Welsh are transformed into allegorical personifications of virtues represented by fairies, as the courageous fairy, the energetic fairy, the sincere fairy, &c. and the great allegorical King of the Rats, in the Romance of the Rose, obtained the prize because he could satisfy every wish, however frivolous ; thus the more modern history of the Graal extolled the study of that work as a true arcanum against the devil, and a sure means of acquiring beatitude, while, on the other hand, the priests declaimed against the improprieties of the chivalrous romances, which became daily more shameless. Nevertheless, all these prose romances had a different influence in France and Spain to that which they had in Germany, and had none whatever in Scandinavia. There was, at a later period, in these countries, a certain splendour of chivalry which was certainly borrowed from the knight of poetry. Fantastic fêtes and processions, ridiculous ornaments both in dress and arms, figures and curious devices, both on the shields and weapons, the most whimsical vows, pilgrimages and tournaments, the most extravagant devotion in love, and the most punctilious observance of etiquette and ceremony, all that the ancient poets pointed out, over-ran life in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries; while in Germany, though something of the same kind was seen under Maximilian, it was never carried to this ridiculous height. While in Languedoc, the martyrs of love realised, in an unheard of manner, all the absurdities of heroes of romance; in Germany the airs of the Troubadours spread among the people, inspiring the tame and conventional song with a new truth, and replacing the pedantic courtesy of chivalry by a natural passion. While in France and in England, the knights made vows of the Peacock and Pheasant, favourable to warlike adventures, the Germans remained in ambuscade in the forest during the winter, and waylaid a rich cargo of merchandize. While in those countries allegorical spectacles, fêtes, and banquets embellished the commerce of life; among the Germans there were only a few games during Lent, and mysteries represented with lively simplicity by thriving artizans. The terrible wars of fanaticism, and the Hussite peasantry, were calculated
to cure the German knights of gallant combats and the enthusiasm of love; while again, the religious Spaniards in the war against the Saracens, when the liberty of their country and religion was at stake, rivalled their enemies in love adventures and courtesy. While in that country, these romances still continue to be a source of intellectual history, and serve to explain both manners and poetry, in Germany they did not represent the usages of society, and no longer interested any but the higher classes. The Titurel alone, from the theological and theosophic form in which Albrecht had enveloped the tradition of the Graal, still maintained a greater influence. The discovery of the art of printing poured in a new deluge of romances of Arthur and the Graal, and this branch of poetry seemed thus to endeavour, from a presentiment of its proximate fall, to guarantee its eternal preservation. In the Appendix No. 3 we add a list of ancient editions until the year 1600, which, however, we do not consider to be complete. The extinction of these chivalrous romances had, in fact, been long since approaching. In the South it took place in a literary sense-in the North politically. While Dante condemned the daughter of Guido di Polenta to the infernal regions, for having been led astray by reading Lancelot du Lac, Ariosto in his Orlando ridiculed that fantastic and decrepid chivalry with the most cutting irony by conducting it into the region of fable; and Cervantes destroyed the passion for chivalrous romances by his biting satire. The middle classes of the North freed themselves from the feudalism which had hitherto reigned there exclusively; the minds of the people were invigorated by the study of the classics, until the reformation in Germany and in England, destroyed the old world of chivalry, and a new era in poetry arrived, represented by Shakspeare, which, Janus-like, at once. looked back on the ancient splendour of the past, and forward to the modern Protestant world."
ART. V.-History of the Life of Richard Coeur-de-Lion, King of England. By G. P. R. JAMES, Esq. Saunders and Otley. 2 vols.
THE author of the "History of Charlemagne," of "Edward the Black Prince," and now of Richard the Lion-heart, not to mention many other works of real and also fictitious history which Mr. James has given to the world, and in which warriors and great political champions have figured, must be imbued with the spirit of heroworship. Much of this gentleman's favourite study must have run into the feudal and chivalric ages; and indeed the entire annals of France as well as of England, and of other nations of Europe, appear to have been investigated by him with a true antiquarian zeal and also a romantic fancy. Even in his historical novels Mr. James brings forward a vast quantity of facts and accurate delineation. His characters are often drawn with the utmost attention to existing records; the events, although necessarily highly coloured, are industriously studied so as to bear the stamp of historic truth; and the very landscapes are often painted with that fidelity which an artist can
only bestow who has greedily scanned not only the outlines with his own eye, but caught the characteristics with a graphic skill, so as that the minuter as well as larger and more prominent features are vividly represented.
There is one very considerable fault, however, which we find in Mr. James's historical productions, whether real or fanciful, and which seems to be gaining upon him, at least it is too apparent in the volumes before us to escape any one. He not merely crams into his narrative many subjects of such minor importance in the lives of his heroes as ought to have made him reject them altogether, or to keep them far in the background, and to subordinate them greatly, so as that a slight glimpse might be received of them; but he brings in by the shoulders much that has no immediate connexion at all with the theme in hand. By giving in to this practice he lays himself open to the charge of being a book-manufacturer, and so determined to make the most of his reading that the very sweepings of his study must be served up; and this too when frequently what he has to communicate is badly arranged and incomplete, and when also in other well-known and properly appreciated works the matter or subject is fully and authoritatively handled.
In consequence of the tendency, habit, and practice of which we complain, the present two octavo volumes, each containing about four hundred pages, tell us very little of Coeur-de-Lion, except what belongs to his early life, and romantic adventures or career in the south of France against certain discontented nobles. The rest of the massive work, as hitherto published, is taken up with large topics, some of them by no means yet finished by Mr. James; such as a long and elaborate introductory historical view of England from the Conqueror to the death of Stephen. Besides this formal portion as much space is allowed to the reign of Henry the Second, as should have exhausted his Life, although it had been the main and direct theme of the book; nor has Mr. James yet done with that monarch. Pope Alexander and Frederic Barbarossa, too, are forcibly placed upon the canvass, as if the whole of Europe must needs be delineated in the history of an individual. Nay, an account of Palestine itself from the period of the apostate Julian is sketched prefatorily, of course to an oft-repeated history of the crusades and Richard's exploits in the Holy Land. While, however, we have to complain of unnecessary and disproportionate parts, and also of an arrangement that is neither elegant nor very natural, we must admit that the execution of particular chapters or sections is frequently happy and able; for even when there is little novelty of matter, the manner is spirited, although drawn from a number of minute sources; showing the author's power of digestion, and the art of giving a congenial and characteristic nature to what may have come to him in a piece-meal and heterogeneous fashion. Look
ing forward to the completion of the History with some impatience, we shall now merely present a few samples of what is before us, and without any attempt at analysis, or even striving to convey the principal lineaments of any one branch or topic. We begin with a specimen of sedate and luminous history, belonging to the year 1175, when Henry becomes reconciled with his rebellious sons; a specimen, too, where the historians reconciling skill, in respect of conflicting accounts, may be tested.
"The tranquillity of the king of England," says our author, "seemed now to be established on a foundation not to be shaken; and he suffered his son once more to visit his father-in-law the king of France, although that monarch was assuredly the most dangerous counseller which the English prince could meet. No evil, however, resulted at the time; and the younger Henry rejoining his father very speedily, they appeared together during the festivities of Easter, at the town of Cherbourg, displaying towards each other every sign of renewed affection and confidence. They thence proceeded to Caen, in order to meet the Count of Flanders, who desired an interview with the two English princes. The motive of his coming is somewhat differently stated by contemporary writers: and it is very probable that more than one inducement led him to the conference at Caen. He had assumed the cross some short time before in the great church of St. Peter, at Ghent; and the English authors of that day uniformly declare that the cause of this act, which bound him to go in arms to the Holy Land, was remorse for the part he had taken in the war against Henry. The Flemish historians, however, attribute his crusade merely to zeal for religion; and it is very probable that such a cause might operate in some degree. Nor is it unlikely that one of his objects, in coming to meet the king of England at Caen, was to make some atonement for the offence he had committed; although it is certain that another was to regain the pension which he had formerly received from Henry, and to renew his alliance with a powerful monarch whom he had so justly offended. However that may be, in the conference which now took place, he gave up into the hands of the two kings the charter of donation with which the younger Henry had weakly purchased his co-operation, and formally freed that prince from all engagements to himself. In return, the treaty was renewed which had been entered into several years before the commencement of the war between Henry II. and the Flemish sovereign; and the count retired with the assurance that his territories would be safe during his absence on the crusade. His remorse for the blood which he had shed, and his purpose of visiting the tomb of his Redeemer did not prevent him from committing a fearful act of cruelty before he went, if the account of Diceto is to be believed. He is stated, immediately after his return from the conference at Caen, to have taken one Walter des Fontaines in adultery with the countess his wife; and notwithstanding the example set before him by his ally the king of France, we are assured he put the adulterer to death in the most inhuman and barbarous manner."