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vulgarity, of these moralisings, of these felicitations, may not concern us here. But in expression, as distinguished from thought, the value of the discipline to which these youthful languages were subjected is not likely now to be denied by any scholar who has paid attention to the subject. It would have been perhaps a pity if thought had not gone through other phases; it would certainly have been a pity if the tongues had all been subjected to the fullest influence of Latin constraint. But that the more lawless of them benefited by that constraint there can be no doubt whatever. The influence of form which the best Latin hymns of the Middle Ages exercised in poetry, the influence in vocabulary and in logical arrangement which Scholasticism exercised in prose, are beyond dispute: and even those who will not pardon literature, whatever its historical and educating importance be, for being something less than masterly in itself, will find it difficult to maintain the exclusion of the Cur Deus Homo, and impossible to refuse admission to the Dies Irae.
EUROPEAN LITERATURE IN 1100—LATE Discovery of THE “CHANsoNs” —THEIR AGE AND HISTORY-THEIR DISTINGUISHING CHARACTER— MISTAKES ABOUT THEM — THEIR ISOLATION AND ORIGIN — THEIR METRICAL FORM-THEIR SCHEME OF MATTER—THE CHARACTER OF CHARLEMAGNE – OTHER CHARACTERS AND CHARACTERISTICS — REALIST QUALITY – VoIUME AND AGE OF THE “CHANSONs" — Twelfth CENTURY —THIRTEENTH CENTURY — FourTEENTH, AND LATER—“CHANSONs.” IN PRINT—LANGUAGE : “oc" AND “oil.”— ITALIAN —DIFFUSION OF THE “CHANSONS ’’—THEIR AUTHORSHIP AND PUBLICATION.—THEIR PERFORMANCE—HEARING, NoT READING, THE OBJECT-EFFECT ON PROSODY—THE “JongleURs.”—“JoNGLEREssEs,” ETC. — SINGULARITY OF THE “CHANSoNs’” — THEIR CHARM – PECULLARITY OF THE “GESTE" systEM —INSTANCEs — suMMARY OF THE “GESTE" or WILLIAM or of ANGE—AND FIRST of THE “couroNNEMENT LOYs”—comMENTs on THE “couroNNEMENT"-WILLIAM OF ORANGE–THE EARLIER PoEMS OF THE CYCLE —THE “CHARRo1 DE NiMEs”—THE “PRISE D'or ANGE”—THE story of VIVIEN–“ALISCANS”—THE END OF THE STORY-RENouART-soME OTHER “CHANSONs"—FINAL REMARKS ON THEM.
WHEN we turn from Latin and consider the condition of the vernacular tongues in the year 1100, there is 1 I prefer, as more logical, the plural form chansons de gestes, and
have so written it in my Short IIistory of French Literature (Oxford, 4th ed., 1892), to which I may not improperly refer the reader on
hardly more than one country in Europe where we find them producing anything that can be called European lit. literature. In England Anglo-Saxon, if ** not exactly dead, is dying, and has for more than a century ceased to produce anything of distinctly literary attraction; and English, even the earliest “middle" English, is scarcely yet born, is certainly far from being in a condition for literary use. The last echoes of the older and more original Icelandic poetry are dying away, and the great product of Icelandic prose, the Saga, still volitat per ora virum, without taking a concrete literary form. It is in the highest degree uncertain whether anything properly to be called Spanish or Italian exists at all —anything but dialects of the lingua rustica showing traces of what Spanish and Italian are to be; though the originals of the great Poema del Cid cannot be far off. German is in something the same trance between
the general subject. But of late years the fashion of dropping the s has prevailed, and, therefore, in a book meant for general reading, I follow it here. Those who prefer native authorities will find a recent and excellent one on the whole subject of French literature in M. Lanson, Histoire de la Littérature Française, Paris, 1895. For the mediaeval period generally M. Gaston Paris, La Littérature Française au Moyen Age (Paris, 1888), speaks with unapproached competence; and, still narrowing the range, the subject of the present chapter has been dealt with by M. Léon Gautier, Les Epopees Françaises (Paris, 4 vols., 1878-92), in a manner equally learned and loving. M. Gautier has also been intrusted with the section on the Chansons in the new and splendidly illustrated collection of monographs (Paris: Colin) which M. Petit de Julleville is editing under the title Histoire de la Langue et de la Littérature Française. Mr Paget Toynbee's Specimens of Old French (Oxford, 1892) will illustrate this and the following chapters.
its “Old” and its “Middle” state as is English. Only
cuss the reason of this at length would lead us out of our present subject; but it is a fact, and a very curious fact. The romances of Charlemagne, or, to employ their more technical designation, the chansons de geste, form late discovery a large, a remarkably homogeneous, and a "/" "sons well-separated body of compositions. These, as far as can be decided, date in time from the eleventh to the thirteenth century, with a few belated representatives in the fourteenth; but scarcely, as far as probability shows, with any older members in the tenth. Very little attention of any kind was paid to them, till some seventy years ago, an English scholar, Their age Conybeare, known for his services to our *** own early literature, following the example of another scholar, Tyrwhitt, still earlier and more distinguished, had drawn attention to the merit and interest of, as it happens, the oldest and most remarkable of all. This was the Chanson de Roland, which, in this oldest form, exists only in one of the MSS. of the Bodleian Library at Oxford. But they very soon received the care of M. Paulin Paris, the most indefatigable student that in a century of examination of the older European literature any European country has produced, and after more than half a century of enthusiastic resuscitation by M. Paris, by his son M. Gaston, and by others, the whole body of them has been thoroughly overhauled and put at the disposal of those who do not care to read the original, in the four volumes of the remodelled edition of M. Léon Gautier's Epopees Françaises, while perhaps a