Obrazy na stronie

were laid waste, had put to flight the Muses of Provence; and by the wars and disorders produced or fanned by sacerdotal ambition or monkish intolerance, Germany was again thrown back into barbarism.

• It was not at the Imperial court only, however, that the taste for poetry was, in its day of prosperity, cultivated. “ Germany, about the time of Frederic II., began," as M. Schlegel observes, to abound more than ever in petty princes ; in sovereigns whose dominions were too insignificant to occupy the whole of their attention, and who, therefore, were at full leisure to think of procuring for their courts the ornaments of music, poetry, and the arts. These were the real patrons of German literature. It was thus that vast assemblages of minstrels and poets were collected around the courts of the Landgrave of Thuringia, and still more of the Austrian Babenbergs. Suabia and German Switzerland seem to have been the principal sources whence the poetry of the Minnesingers Rowed; but the same taste was more or less diffused all around, and there is every reason to believe that various other dialects were used by the Minnesingers, although nearly all that has come to us is Suabian....... Accidental circumstances alone probably have deprived us of a great variety of early poetry, of the same character, in all the various Teutonic dinlects." Even the Dutch was, according to Kinderling, very early cultivated as a poetic language; much earlier, indeed, thân Mr. Bowring seems to have been aware. The court of Herman Landgrave of Thuringia was a principal focus of attraction for the literature of his age; and it is therefore improbable that the Suabian dialect should have been exclusively adopted. Similar patronage was bestowed at the Austrian, Bohemian, and other courts; and the names of the Emperor Henry and some others of the Imperial Family, of Count Frederic of Leiningen, Count Otho of Bottenloube, Otho IV. Margrave of Brandenburg, Wenzel, King of Bohemia, Henry IV. Duke of Breslau, John, Duke of Brabant, &c. make the German catalogue of royal and noble poets, as distinguished as that of the Troubadours. The number of humbler minstrels is immense.'

pp. 104-8. In like manner, the counts of Barcelona and monarchs of Aragon distinguished themselves as patrons of the Provençal bards; and modern times have afforded an illustrious instance of a similar spirit in the petty sovereign of Weimar. On comparing the lyric poetry of the Minnesingers with that of the Troubadours, the Editor thinks that the distinctive features of the Suabian minstrels appear in a more subdued and delicate tone of feeling : if less classical, they are more natural, less metaphysical, and more chaste, tender, and animated. Neither the canzos nor the sirventes of the Troubadours nor the fabliaur of the Trouvéres, M. Sismondi remarks, can be read without a blush. The poetry of Germany is much less exceptionable in


this respect,-less Southern, or, may we say ? less Oriental in its character. This fact is remarkable, and favours the opinion which we threw out in a recent article as to the superiority of the German tales in point of morality over the novelists of Southern Europe. Whatever national characteristics may distinguish the different schools of minstrelsy, they must all, however, be considered as having had a common and nearly simultaneous origin, resulting from that general impulse which appears to have been given to the progress of civilization and the development of mind among the newly settled European states towards the middle of the eleventh century. The earliest lyric poet of this era, William IX. Count of Poictou, was born in 1070, and died in 1126. The polished style and metrical symmetry of his compositions prove that the Provençal dialect was no longer a new or unformed language. Indeed, it appears to have acquired a distinct character so early as the eighth century. But the first rude efforts of the Provençal bards cannot be assigned to an earlier period than the middle of the tenth. The precise date, it is scarcely possible to fix; and it is important only as affording some clew to the circumstances under which they had their birth. Neither the capture of Toledo by Alfonso VI., nor the accession of Raymond Berenger to the earldom of Provence, will in itself account for the origin of the Provençal poetry. The opinion espoused by both Sismondi and Ginguené deduces its pedigree from the Arabians of Spain. But these writers, in common with most of those who contend for the Eastern origin of the minstrelsy and romance of the times of chivalry, confound the genealogy of fiction with the history of literature. When we have traced up a tradition or legend to its Arabian, Greek, or Scandinavian source, what have we done towards illustrating the causes which govern the development of genius? Little

or nothing, -any more than the appearance of Dante is accounted for by the monkish legends of which he availed himself in his great poem, or than Paradise Lost is to be resolved into the dramatic mysteries of a preceding age. The theory which deduces the Provençal poetry from the Moors, is combated with considerable ingenuity by the present Editor. Father Andrez, who, in his work Dell' Origine e de Progressi d'ogni Letteratura,” first started the hypothesis, ventures to fix the very era when the gallant knights of Southern France became acquainted with the songs of the Moors, at the taking of Toledo in 1085.

• Unfortunately,' it is remarked,' M. Raynouard has published a Provençal poem anterior to 1000. Unfortunately, too, the Spaniards themselves, with whom these French knights fought, and whose lite


rature, though at a much later period, has the most resemblance to that of the Moors, have nothing in the least approaching to the character of the Troubadour poetry till they imitated it in later ages ; and moreover, the earliest school of Spanish poetry is that which bears least affinity to the Oriental.

• It is almost vain to ask, upon what grounds this supposed derivation of the Provençal love-songs from the Arabs could rest. One would naturally be at a loss to think it probable, that a poetry founded on a devoted idolatry of woman and her absolute supremacy in the social system, should have sprung from a people whose principles lead to conclusions totally the reverse; or that those of the Christians who fled to mountain fastnesses, and only met their Moslem foes for deadly combat, should make them their masters in the fine arts. When, indeed, the Christians afterwards gained the ascendancy, the population might be expected to have imbibed much of the manners and perhaps the literature of their late masters. So, in fact, it turned out; but the character of this early Castilian literature is altogether different from that of the Troubadours. Both Moors and Spaniards must have considerably assimilated during so long a period of intermixture. For instance, the Arabs learned to raise their women to a rank in society approaching that which they enjoyed among the Christians,—though not to any great extent, for the allusions to the state of females in Conde's compilations from the Arabian documents are strictly Oriental ; and, on the other hand, their schools of mathematics, physics, and philosophy, were resorted to by the studious of all religious denominations. But it is perfectly absurd to attribute to them such an influence as is asserted over the poetic genius and social relations of distant European countries, at a time when the same principles were at work every where in giving the spring to civilization and the culture of the mental faculties. M. Ginguené will not even allow the smiling descriptions of the beauties of nature, the joyous revellings in the genial influences of spring, the delights of fields, of flowers, of brooks and groves, to be natural ornaments of poetic imagination : -" tout cela est oriental.

• What is the internal evidence on which the supposed derivation of Troubadour poetry from the Arabs rests? Father Andrez admits it to be true, that, in the compositions of the Provençals, there is no discernible vestige of Arabian erudition, nor any sign of their having formed themselves on the poetry of the Arabs. But he adds: “ Neither does it appear that they were better acquainted with the works of the Greeks and Latins, nor have they made any use of the Grecian fables and of the ancient mythology." His admission would probably be considered sufficient to destroy his theory; but, unluckily, this passage shews that Father Andrez, like many other writers on Provençal poetry, in reality knew very little of it, or he would be aware that it contains almost as many references to classical heroes and stories as to those of the romances of chivalry. References to the mythological tales of Ovid are frequent. On the other hand, there are scarcely any allusions to Arabian or Moorish language, customs, or feelings, throughout the whole body of published Troubadour poetry, though there is scarcely another country of which the same can be said.

Between the Spanish-Arabian poetry and the later Castilian alone is there any great affinity ; and nothing is more widely removed from the French Troubadour, than the Castilian school, till about the fifteenth century, when it began to be imitative......... The earliest efforts of the Castilian poets are of an epic cast, abounding chiefly in military adventure, and consisting for the most part of detached scenes of the exploits of the Cid and other warriors. This seems the genuine early national school of Castilian poetry. It has no feature in common with the Provençal or Catalan Troubadours, and scarcely any affinity to the Oriental schools. Next come the ballads of chi. valry founded on the French romances, which are probably none of them older than the latter part of the fourteenth century. Soon after commenced the era of the later Spanish romances, pastoral ballads, &c. so justly admired, and of the Trobador or Amatory school of Spain, which is to a great extent merely imitative of the later efforts of the Provençaux and Italians. Last in date are the ballads of the proper Moorish school, which belong to the age when the Spanish power was finally overwhelming the Moorish dynasty and entering on the seats of their luxury and ease of these it has been said with truth,


“ live like echoes about the ruins of Moorish greatness." ' pp. 37–45.

Yet, while we discard the notion of the Spanish-Arabian origin of the Provençal poetry and romance, we seem to have. abundant evidence that they had their birth in that part of Spain, or rather Catalonia, and the adjacent provinces of France, bordering on the Mediterranean. The present Writer remarks, that, from the earliest days of Provençal glory, its court had enjoyed the most intimate union with that of Barce. lona; and on the accession of Count Alfonso II. to the throne of Aragon, the empire of love and poetry' became extended over a considerable proportion of the western part of the peninsula. The Catalan is a genuine Romance tongue, more ancient than the Castilian, and bearing the closest affinity to the Limousin. Notwithstanding that the Provençal was used at the court, and many of the Spanish poets wrote in it, the Catalan Troubadours are represented to have been numerous, though few of their compositions have come down to us. But Pro vence appears to have been the nursery of the infant literature.

• The gay, smiling climate of the South of France,' remarks the present Writer, seemed to combine with the superiority and freedom of its political institutions to call forth the earliest fruits of chivalry and its attendant song. “In the middle age," says Papon, in his General History of Provence,“ there were more free

persons in Provence than in any other province; and the revolutions in the monarchy having made themselves much less sensibly felt there, our towns were able to maintain their municipal administration. If the calamities of the times occasioned any interruption, they recovered themselves without any intervention on the part of the sovereign. As early as the beginning of the twelfth century, they were in possession of a form of government bearing a resemblance to that which had been given them by the Romans.” During the greater part of the tenth century, while Northern France was a prey to intestine commotions, Provence and part of Burgundy and its dependencies had enjoyed repose under the mild rule of Conrad the Pacific. Per. haps we may even look higher up, and trace the superior cultivation of some of the Southern states to the influence of the laws of the Burgundians, which certainly formed the most equitable and mild of the codes established on the basis of Roman jurisprudence. The courts of the Berengers, the sovereigns of Catalonia and part of Southern France, became the principal nurseries of the opening talent, and the centre of union with other European nations. The period of their power embraces the whole bloom of Provençal literature, and their patronage of it every where stimulated the foreign courts with which they were connected to the cultivation of similar pursuits.' pp. 15, 16.

We thus seem to have established a close connexion between the first dawn of European literature and the existence of civil freedom and equal laws; and we must not forget, in this reference, that the birth-place of the Provençal Muses was the country of the Albigenses. • The poets,' we are told,

were no friends to the Church of Rome,'-opposed to it alike through the love of letters and the love of liberty.

Many of the last efforts of Troubadour song were exerted in vindicating the rights of humanity against the cruelty and corruption of Rome and its retainers ; and it is singular also, that some of the earliest remains of the poetry of this dialect, collected by M. Raynouard, are those of the heretic Vaudois or Waldenses.'

But how came these countries to be the first to receive the light of the morning which succeeded to the palpable night of Gothic barbarism ? It has been usual to rank the Arabian settlements in Europe and the Crusades among the chief causes of the revival of learning. With regard to the latter, we endeavoured to shew, in our review of Mr. Mills's History of the Crusades*, that the hypothesis which ascribes a beneficial influence to those fanatical and savage expeditions, though sanctioned by some respectable writers, is altogether unfounded and erroneous; and that Gibbon has more justly appreciated their true character and consequences when he remarks, that

* Eclectic Review, Vol. XIII, p. 519, &c.

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