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here it was that he studied his rural descriptions.
"This pastoral romance," says Gifford, "which once formed the delight of our grandmothers, is now never heard of, and would in fact exhaust the patience and weary the curiosity of the most modest and indefatigable devourcr of morals at a watering place, or a boarding school."—B. J. vol. v. p. 394, &c.
"Astrea," Gifford says, "bears a remote or allegorical allusion to the gallantries of the court of Henry IV."—Ibid.
Whoever was the inventor of the French heroic romance, Calprenadeis the writer who carried it to its greatest perfection.
(Lea Trois Siocles, torn. i. p. 230. Le scul nom,—le mfime genre.)1
It is the fault of the romances of chivalry that they contain so many adventures of the same character, one succeeding the other, which have no necessary connection with the main story, and which might be left out without affecting it; in fact they are in the main made up of these useless episodes. The fault of Calprenade is of an opposite character: he ran into the other extreme, and his three romances for variety of adventures and character, and for extent and intricacy of plot, are perhaps the most extraordinary works that have ever appeared. There is not one of them which would not furnish the plots for fifty tragedies, perhaps for twice the number, and yet all these are made into one whole. For this kind of invention, certainly he never has been equalled.
The old romances gave true manners, though they applied them to wrong times; but the anachronism was of little import. Every thing in them was fiction. A double sin was committed by the French romancers in chusing historical groundwork, and in
1 This evidently is the beginning and the end of an intended extract.—J. W. W.
Frenchifying the manners of all ages, especially in the abominable fashion of fine letter writing. Story is involved within story, like a nest of boxes; or they come one after another, so that you have always to go back to learn what has happened, and the main business seldom goes on; this was inevitable from the prodigious number of characters which were introduced.
Pharamond was the romance which he composed with most care; but he did not live to finish it. Seven ports of the twelve he printed; the remainder were added by M.de Vaumoriere. The story is by no means so ably conducted as in the former part. I perceived the great inferiority before Iknew the cause of it.
Oyron le Courtoyt.
The utter want of method in this book makes it appear as if it consisted of several metrical romances transposed.
It begins with an adventure of Branor le Brun, an old knight above 120 years of age, who, though he had not borne arms for forty years, comes to Kamelot to try whether the knights of the present time were as good as those of his days. He stands quintain against Palamedes, Gavaine, and many others; but honours Tristan, Sir Lancelot, and King Arthur enough to take a spear against them, and overthrows them all like so many children.
Then follows an adventure of Tristan and Palamedes, which is in Mort Arthur.
Gyron now appears. He goes (wherefrom does not appear) to Maloane, the castle of his friend Danayn le Roux. The lady of Maloane twice tempts him, but in vain. They go to a tournament. Sir Lac, the friend of K. Meliadus, falls in love with the lady, and waylays her after the tournament, and wins her from her guard of twenty-five knights. Gyron (who is all this while unknown, and indeed supposed to be dead,) wins her then from him; but Sir Lac's love for her has now inflamed him, his heart gives way to the temptation, and he leads her to a fountain in the forest. As he is disarming himself to commit the sin, his sword drops into the water, and in taking it out he is struck by the motto, " Loyaulte passe tout y faulsete si honnit tout et decoit tous hommes dedans quels elle se herberge." Upon this, his remorse for having sinned even in thought is such, that he stabs himself; the lady prevents him from repeating the blow. After sundry adventures, Danayn finds them in this situation, learns the whole truth, and loving Gyron better than ever for this his courtesy, as it is termed, takes him home to Maloane, where he is soon healed. A great deal by way of episode is related of Hector le Brun to K. Meliadus.
There are no other divisions than of chapters, but what may be called the second part is upon this story. Gyron sends Danayn to bring him his damsel; he carries her off for himself; is pursued; overtaken at last, and defeated after a desperate battle. Gyron, though he had resolved to kill him, spares him for courtesy, and then rescues him from a giant immediately after. The incidental parts are a story of Galahalt le Brun, with whom in his youth Gyron had been companion, and a curious adventure which befals Breus sans pitie, in which he finds the bodies of Febus and the damsel of Northumberland in a house cut in the rock, and learns their history from the son of Febus, a very old man, who dwells there, leading a life of penance with his son, the father of Gyron, but Gyron knows not his birth.
Then comes agood adventure of the knight sans paour, in the valley of Serfage, where Naban le Noir makes serfs of every body who enters. This is an excellent adventure. For the sequel we are referred to the romance of Meliadus.
Danayn delivers Gyron and his damsel, who had been betrayed, and was tied to a tree, to suffer from the severity of the weather in the cold country of Sorolois. They are reconciled, separate each on adventure, and are both made prisoners. Here too, we are referred to Meliadus for their release;
the " Latin book from which this is translated saying no farther." And the romance ends with a chapter in which Galinans le Blanc, son of Gyron and the damsel, who is born the chapter before, defeats the best knights of the Round Table one after another; but he is a wicked knight, having been brought up by the false traitor who imprisoned his father.
Everywhere the knights are represented as children to those of Uterpendragon's days. The prowess of these worthies exceeds in hyperbole any thing in Esplandian. They make nothing of singly attacking large armies, and killing giants with a blow of the fist.
I think I can perceive that oftentimes he who began one of these adventures planned it as he went on; and often ended with a different feeling of character from thatwhich he began with.
I never read a romance so completely free from all impurity of thought or word. Yet what morals does it indicate! Gyron acts from no other principle than that of courtesy; and his damsel, whom he married, Danayn carries off as his concubine.
Monnon de la Selve, or, Hennor de la Selve, as the name is sometimes printed, the son of a forester, seems to be the original of Braggadochio.
Meliadus de Leonnoys.
This book professed to have been written by the author of the Brut, at the request of King Henry of England, and recompiled from the Latin, in which it had been rudely and confusedly written by Maistre Rusticien de Pise, at the desire of King Edward of England. What is curious, is, that it was to have been about Polamedes, and in the name of Palamedes the author says he begins it. He brings Esclabor, the father of the knight, from Babylon to Rome, and from Rome to Northumberland; and having thus got to King Arthur, nothing more is said about him. A few desultory adventures of K. Pharamond by the Morhoult dTrland, brings on the stage K. Meliadus, and the Bon Chevalier sans paour, the two heroes of the book. Many tales of their heroism and of their rivalry are related, just in the manner of the episodes in Gyron, so much so indeed, as to identify the author, and the business of the first half of the book ends in a tournament, where they take different sides, and in which, on the whole, the Chevalier is most fortunate. The manner in which each speaks of his riviJ is always very fine, in the noblest spirit of chivalry.
Meliadus falls in love with the Queen of Scotland, and forcibly carries her oft", out of King Arthur's dominions; for which, he is attacked in his own kingdom, conquered by the prowess of the Bon Chevalier sans paour, and taken. Arthur imprisons him. His confinement is more rigorous than the king either intended or knew. Meantime Arthur falls sick: his vassals go to war with each other, and Ariohan, a terrible Saxon, at the suggestion of some of them invades Logres. The kingrecovers, and sends to all his liege men. The Chevalier sans paour refuses to come, saying, Arthur has disgraced and injured all chivalry by his imprisonment of the best knight living. In consequence of this Meliadus is delivered. He accepts the defiance of Andhar, and concludes the war by defeating him. 'When the author had got thus far, he filled up the rest of his book with any stories which came into his head about the round table. Galchad le Brun, Segurades, Gyron, Tristan, &c. are introduced without the slightest connection of time, place, or any thing else, and the whole ends with the death of Meliadus, in the words wherein it is related in Tristan.
This Romance has disappointed me, it is very inferior to Meliadus. The characters are in many instances so discordant, and the leading circumstances of the story so little consonant not merely with our ordinary
morals, but our ordinary feelings, that the general effect of the book is far from being pleasant. There is something vile in producing that love on which the whole history turns—by a philtre,—in making both the heroes live in adultery,—and in the unworthy usage of the second Yseult. That everlasting fault of the romancers in sacrificing the character of one hero to enhance the fame of another, is carried to a great degree here. With the creatures of his own creation an author may do what he will, but it is a literary crime to take up the hero whom others have represented as a knight of prowess and of worth, and to engraft vices upon him and stain him with dishonour. Palamedes is better conceived than any other personage in the book.
Joseph of Arimathea ung gentilhomnie chevalier. He was shut in prison and forgotten there for forty-two years without food. But Vespasian, the son of Titus, being cured of leprosy by the S. Veronice, went against Jerusalem to revenge the death of our Lord, and he opened the prison, which was a great pillar, and there found Joseph alive and well, for our Lord had visited him, and he thought he had slept from Good Friday till the Sunday following.
P. 14. Joseph prays "nudz coutes et nudz genoubc."
14. The prophet David taken prisoner by Nebuchadnezzar.
18. Christ consecrates Joseph the son n bishop, and the mystery of transubstantiation is shown in a miracle as hideous as the doctrine; for he is made, very much
1 " Yet true it is, that lone before that day, Uiiher came Joseph of Arimathy, Who brought with him the Holy Grayle, (they say),
And preach't the truth; but since it greatly did decay."
SrKNsKR. Faerie Queene, II. x. 53.
J. W. W.
against his will, to dismember a beautiful infant who appears in the Ciborium.1 The body breaks like a cake, and it lies on the patine like a piece of bread, but becomes a child again when he puts it to his mouth. "Et quant il le vit si le cuyda traire hors de sa bouche, mais il ne peust. Et quant il eut use cel enfant si luy fut advis que toutes doulceurs que langue d'homme pourroit nommer, ne penser, estoyent en son corps."
22. "Et si nestoyt mye le chastel de hault fielle ne desclos (?) ains estoit tout environne de moult riches murs quarres de marbre vermeil et vert et bis et blanc."
56. "Car celluy seroit plain de trop folle hardiesse qui oseroit monstre mensonge en si haulte chose comme est ceste sainete hystoire que le vray Crucifix fist et escripvit de sa propre main, et pour ce doit il estre tenu en plus grant honneur." He then says that our Saviour only wrote twice in his mortal life, according to the Scriptures, when he composed the Lord's prayer, and when the woman was taken in adultery. "Ja ne trouvons si hardy clerc qui dye que Dieu fist oncques escripture puis la resurrection, ne mais la sainete escripture du Sainct Greaal seulleinent, et qui vouldroit dire que puis il eust fait autre escripture de auctorite il seroit tenu a menteur, et si dy bien quil seroit de trop folle hardyesse qui mensonge vouldroit mettre en si haulte chose comme est ceste hystoire que le filz de Dieu escripvit luy mesmes de sa propre main, puis que il eust mis la mortelle vie hors et revestu la mageste celestielle I"
Fictions of this kind have obtained authority in the Sanscrit, and things as impudent in the Romish Church.
59. The same story of the tree of life as in Lancelot du Lac.
84. Sire Robert de Berron "qui ceste histoire translata de latin en françoys."
* Ciborium, appellant Scriptores Ecclesiastici, quod Ordo Roman us legimen et umbraculum Altaris."—Du Cakge, in v.—J. W. W.
95. Joseph's wife, soon after her arrival in England, lay in in a richly built castle. He was called Galaad, and when he grew up, Galaad le fort, and therefore the castle in which he was born was called Galleford; which is probably the etymology of Guildford in this romance.
101. " Messire Robert de Bosrou que ceste histoire translata de latin en françoys par le commandement de Sainete Eglise."
This book makes no reference to the legend concerning Glastonbury, though it is in the days of King Luce.
Its dreams and types very much in the manner of the Gesta Ronianoruni.
145. In the apartment with the S. Greaal appears a chess board with pieces of ivory and gold. Gawain plays the ivory, and the gold play themselves and check mate him.
150. Perceval's uncle, the hermit, has a mule which belonged to Joseph of Arimathea when he was in Pilate's service!
169. Perceval. "En toute le monde neust len sceu trouves ung plus beau chevalier que luy, plus gros, ne uiieulx quarre de bras corps et jambes."
37. K. Euelach—Pygmalion! Oh the difference between a Grecian and a monkish imagination!
47-2. A wild phoenix.
89. Joseph, with 148 companions, sailed from Babylon to Great Britain upon Joseph's shirt, which he took off for that purpose and spread upon the water. The night was fair and serene, and the sea fair and peaceable and without tempest, and the moon shone bright, and it was in the month of April, on Easter eve, when they embarked, or emshirted, to speak more properly, and at break of day they arrived in England, this being in every respect the most remarkable passage that ever was made from the Persian gulf.
The conclusion of the first part refers to Merlin, Lancelot, Tristan, and other books of the Round Table, of which I take this to be one of the latest.
186. A guillotine invented for love of Gawain, Lancelot, and Perceval, by Lorgueilleuse Pucelle. It was literally for love of them,—for, as she could have no joy of them in life, she was determined to have joy of them in death, and so in her chapel she prepared four magnificent coffins for them and for herself. Gawain was her guest, and by good fortune this pious Pucelle was so proud that she never asked any guest his name; so she took him into the chape! and showed him the coffins, and told him why they were made, and then showing him some relics, she made him observe her device, which was that when she had these knights here she would lead them to adore these relics, and as soon as they had put their heads through the window by which they were to be seen, she would then take out a peg, and a knife, sharp as a razor, would fall upon their necks.
Through great part of this book the name is written Parlevaulx—but at the close Perceval. Is this proof of two authors? Sic opinor.
Ships and sepulchres the favourite objects of the author's fancy.
Few or no moralizations in the second part, which seems to be by a different hand, or perhaps by many. The first is clearly one man's work, and very Gestaish.
"How Parlevaulx had a tub made ready, and made all the knights of the Sire des Mares be beheaded before him, so that their blood should run into the tub; nnd how he had the Sire des Mares drowned in this tub in the blood of his knights."
Loheant, the only son of Arthur and Guenever, had a custom that whenever he killed a man he lay down to sleep upon his body. He was taking his nap one day upon a giant whom he had just demolished, when Sir Keux, the seneschal came by, and for the sake of getting credit, killed him in his sleep, then cut off the giant's head and carried it to court, to claim the merit of having slain him and revenged Loheac. But a damsel had seen all. 165.
L'Opere Magnanime dei due Tristani, Cava
U IK 1 DELLE TAVOLA RlTONDA, Col Pri
vilegio del lommo Ponttfice et deW illus
trist. Senato Veneto per anni xx.
In Venetia per Michele Tramezino \ 555.
Tue first part is made from the French romance, with an interpolation about the birth of the second Tristan, parts of which the author did not bear in mind when he returned to the thread of the original story.
P. 173. So good a journey that she was not more than four months going from Cornwall to Uritanny.
Don Chehai, my old acquaintance, is called.
229. Here is the old knight from Giron. The second part is original, and very worthless.
22. "Ella cavalco su un bonissimo cavallo Armellino come neve, co crini & coda faUi, ch'era maraviglia a vederlo?"
64. A lady who has been long ill grows fat with joy after her recovery, so that in the course of a day it is perceptible, and she is complimented upon it.
114. " La Infanta et l'altre signore le trassero l'elmo di testa, et li nettarono il viso con le maniche delle loro camicie." Had they no handkerchiefs, that shift sleeves were used for this purpose? Again, 171, "cosi cavatoli l'elmo gli ascuigaron il volto con le lor sottili maniche delle camicie."
176. FromCornwall toCamelotajourney of 1000 leagues!
193. King Tristan asks why King Arthur took a castle from a certain Phebus, in which quarrel he is about to fight a combat in the King's cause. "Sire rispose Don Galasso, per due cause principali, la prima perche Phebro era infidele inimico della nostra santa fede catholica. Non me ne dite piu, rispose il Re, che questa basta."
207. Coarse and witless satire upon the Portugueze. The Spanish geography in this book is correct.
236. Elisandro, performing his vigil before knighthood, past the night agreeably,