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poem. Meister Trougemunt in the German ballads1 answers the English and Scottish questions—
"0 what is longer than the way 1
Gar lay the bent to the bonny broom,
Poetical riddles were produced in England more largely than anywhere else in the Dark Ages, both in Latin and the native tongue. Following the example of the riddles which pass under the name of Symphosius,3 a number of English scholars—Aldhelm, Tatwine, Boniface, Alcuin—diverted themselves with the composition of short Latin poems of this kind. Pretty early in the history of English poetry the vernacular language was applied to the same purpose; with a surprising difference in literary effect, and no change at all in the general principles regarding the matter of the poems. The difference is that the old English poetical fashions are much more favourable to this kind of entertainment than anything in Latin. It is the proper business, one might say, of the old English poetry to call things out of their right names. Fanciful disguises of simple ideas may be practised anywhere, by all the children of the world; but nowhere had this game so much opportunity of developing into showy literature as in England at that time. It was partly, no doubt, the English taste for rhetorical efflorescence that led Aldhelm and Alcuin to their Latin riddles. When English was used for a like purpose, the native verse proved itself infinitely more lively than Latin. Artifice took on a more natural and spontaneous air in the Anglo-Saxon poems of this order: the task was well fitted for the genius of the poetry. In some of the riddles the miracle takes place which is not unknown in literary history elsewhere: what seems at first the most conventional of devices is found to be a fresh channel of poetry. Many of these quaint poems, taking their start from a simple idea, a single term, expatiate, without naming it, over all the life of their theme, and the riddle, instead of an occasion for intricate paraphrase, becomes a subject of imaginative thought. The poets of the riddles are not content with mere brocading work, though they like that well enough: but, besides, they meditate on their subject, they keep their eye on it.1 The riddle becomes a shifting vision of all the different aspects in which the creature may be found—a quick, clear-sighted, interested poem. Though it is only a game, it carries the poetic mind out over the world: as not unfrequently with the Metaphysical poets, the search for new conceits will land the artist on a coast beyond his clever artifices, where instead of the vanities of False Wit there are the truths of imagination:—
1 Uhland, Deutsche Volkslieder, i. 1; Miillenhoff and Scherer, DenJcmdler, No. xlviii.
2 Child, Ballads, No. 1, where references are given to similar things in different languages.
3 Ed. Riese, Anthologia Latina; Baehrens, Poetce Laiini Minores, v. 364 sqq.
1 For the imaginative quality of the poetical riddles, especially of English as compared with Latin, see MacCallum, Anglo-Saxon Jocoseria, in the volume of Stvdies in German Literature, cited
"Like golden lamps in a green night."
Among the diversions of mediaeval learning few
are more popular than the moral history of birds
and beasts and precious stones. The chief
The Bestiary. . ...
work of this description is known generally as Physiologies; otherwise the Bestiary. It spread as far as the stories of Alexander and the jests of Marcolf; its methods, far from outworn in the Middle Ages, reappeared in the book which expresses, best of all, the commonplaces of the Eenaissance—JEuphues, the Anatomy of Wit. The moral interpretation of the lion, the eagle, the ant, the spider, &c., which agreed so well with mediaeval tastes, was continued by Euphues, and proved to be almost too attractive a novelty, though it was as old as the language itself and had been repeated for centuries unsparingly. The original Physiologus was most probably compiled in Egypt:1 the animals of the first collection are Egyptian. Later versions show, through words strangely corrupted, how the creatures themselves have been transformed: thus the whale by its name Fastitocalon, in the Anglo-Saxon poem, proves its identity with the original sea-turtle, the aspidochelone, whose broad back is mistaken for an island and turned to a convenient and successful allegory, though the whale, later, usurped the turtle's claim. Other treatises in like manner expounded the virtues of precious stones, and in like manner were translated and circulated everywhere.1 The old Italian poem L'Intelligenm, attributed to Dino Compagni, includes an allegorical Lapidary along with the adventures of Julius Caesar and other themes of romance. These tastes and habits of the Dark Ages were as fresh as ever in the time of Dante.
1 See Physiologus in the Encyclopedia Britarmica, by Dr Land of Leyden.
THE SIXTH CENTURY—BOETHIUS—CASSIODORDS—FORTUNATUS—GREGORY OF TOURS—GREGORY THE GREAT—THE DARK AGE—ISIDORE—BEDE —ADAMNAN—THE REVIVAL OF LEARNING UNDER CHARLES THE GREAT—ALCUIN—THE PHILOSOPHY OF ERIGENA — THE CAROLINE POETS—THEODULFUS—ERMOLDUS NIGELLUS—WALAFRID STRABO— HISTORIANS—EINHARD—PAULUS DIACONUS—THE MONK OF ST GALL —THE AGE OF THE SAXON EMPERORS—HROTSWITHA—LIUTPRAND— WIDUKIND—RICHER—EKKEHARD—GERBERT.
THE HISTORY OF POPULAR LATIN VERSE—BEDE's PROSODY OF RHYTHMICAL POETRY—THE AMBROSIAN HYMNS—ST AUGUSTINE— THE SEQUENCES—VARIOUS EXPERIMENTS—NORTHERN THEMES IN LATIN—WALTHARIUS—RUODLIEB—MODUS FLORUM, ETC.
It is impossible in this space to give even a bare catalogue of the Latin works written in the Dark Ages. What is attempted here is a review of the more interesting writers, with reference to their value either as representatives of their time, or as models for those who came after, or simply as writers of things worth reading for their own sake. Of these latter there are more than is commonly supposed; but generally it must be allowed there is need for