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more recent be thrown in, the average of the whole hundred would probably be doubled. This immense body of verse, which for many reasons it is very desirable to study as a whole, is still, after the best part of a century, to a great extent unprinted, and (as was unavoidable) such of its constituents as have been sent to press have been dealt with on no very uniform principles. It was less inevitable, and is more to be regretted, that the dissensions of scholars on minute philological points have caused the repeated printing of certain texts, while others have remained inaccessible; and it cannot but be regarded as a kind of petty treason to literature thus to put the satisfaction of private crotchets before the “unlocking of the word-hoard ” to the utmost possible extent. The earliest chansons printed" were, I believe, M. Paulin Paris's Berte aus grans Piés, M. Francisque Michel's Roland; and thereafter these two scholars and others edited for M. Techener a very handsome set of “Romances des Douze Pairs,” as they were called, including Les Saismes, Ogier, Raoul de Cambrai, Garin, and the two great crusading chansons, Antioche and Jérusalem. Other scattered efforts were made, such as the publication of a beautiful edition of Baudouin de Seboure at Valenciennes as early as 1841; while a Belgian scholar, M. de Reiffenberg, published Le Chevalier au Cygne, and a Dutch one, Dr Jonckbloët, gave a large part of the later numbers of the Garin de Montglane cycle in his Guillaume d'Orange (2 vols., The Hague, 1854). But the great OPPortunity came soon after the accession of Napoleon III, when a Minister favourable to literature, M. de Fourtou, gave, in a moment of enthusiasm, permission to publish the entire body of the chansons. Perfect wisdom would probably have decreed the acceptance of the godsend by issuing the Whole, with a minimum of editorial apparatus, in * such form as that of our Chalmers's Poets, the bulk of which need probably not have been exceeded * order to give the oldest forms of every real chanson from Roland to the Bastart de Bouillon. But perfect Wisdom is not invariably present in the councils of *en, and the actual result took the form of ten agreeable little volumes, in the type, shape, and paper of the “Bibliothèque Elzévirienne" with abundant editorial matter, paraphrases in modern French, and the like. Les Anciens Poètes de la France, as this series Was called, appeared between 1858, which saw the first volume, and 1870, which fatal year saw the last, for the Republic had no money to spare for such monarchical glories as the chansons. They are no contemptible possession; for the ten volumes give fourteen chansons of very different ages, and rather interestingly representative of different kinds. But they are a very small portion of the whole, and in at least one instance, Aliscans, they double on a former edition. Since then the Société des Anciens Textes Français has edited Son* cham80ns, and independent German and French scholars have given some more; but no systemattempt has been made to fill the gaps, and the

* Immanuel Bekker had printed the Provençal Fierabras as early as 1829,

atic s system of re-editing, on pretext of wrong selection of MSS. or the like, has continued. Nevertheless, the number of chansons actually available is so large that no general characteristic is likely to have escaped notice; while from the accounts of the remaining MSS., it would not appear that any of those unprinted can rank with the very best of those already known. Among these very best I should rank in alphabetical order—Aliscans, Amis et Amiles, Antioche, Baudouin de Seboure (though in a mixed kind), Berte aus grans Piés, Fierabras, Garim le Loherain, Gérard de Roussillon, Huon de Bordeaua, Ogier de Damemarche, Raoul de Cambrai, Roland, and the Voyage de Charlemagne & Constantinoble. The almost solitary eminence assigned by some critics to Roland is not, I think, justified, and comes chiefly from their not being acquainted with many others; though the poem has undoubtedly the merit of being the oldest, and perhaps that of presenting the chanson spirit in its best and most unadulterated, as well as the chanson form at its simplest, sharpest, and first state. Nor is there anywhere a finer passage than the death of Roland, though there are many not less fine. It may, however, seem proper, if not even positively indispensable, to give some more general particulars about these chansons before analysing specimens or giving arguments of one or more; for they are full of curiosities. In the first place, it will be noticed by careful readers tanguage, oe of the list above given, that these composiand oil. tions are not limited to French proper or to the langue d'oïl, though infinitely the greater part of them are in that tongue. Indeed, for some time after attention had been drawn to them, and before their actual natures and contents had been thoroughly examined, there was a theory that they were Provençal in origin. This, though it was chiefly due to the fact that Raynouard, Fauriel, and other early students of old French had a strong southern leaning, had some other excuses. It is a fact that Provençal was earlier in its development than French ; and whether by irregular tradition of this fact, or owing to ignorance, or from anti-French prejudice (which, however, would not apply in France itself), the part of the langue d'oe in the early literature of Europe was for centuries largely overvalued. Then came the usual reaction, and some fifty years ago or so one of the most capable of literary students declared roundly that the Provençal epic had “le défaut d'être perdu.” That is not quite true. There is, as noted above, a Provençal Fierabras, though it is beyond doubt an adaptation of the French ; Betonnet d’Hanstone or Beton et Daurel only exists in Provençal, though there is again no doubt of its being borrowed; and, lastly, the oldest existing, and probably the original, form of Gérard de Roussillon, Giratz de Rossilho, is, as its title implies, Provençal, though it is in a dialect more approaching to the langue d'oïl than any form of oc, and even presents the curious peculiarity of existing in two forms, one leaning to Provençal, the other to French. But these very facts, though they show the statement that “the Provençal epic is lost" to be excessive, yet go almost farther than a total deficiency in proving that the chanson de geste was not originally Provençal. Had it been otherwise, there can be no possible reason why a bare three per cent of the existing examples should be in the southern tongue, while two of these are evidently translations, and the third was as evidently written on the very northern borders of the “Limousin " district. The next fact—one almost more interesting, inasmuch as it bears on that community of Romance tongues of which we have evidence in Dante,' and perhaps also makes for the antiquity of the Charlemagne story in its primitive form—is the existence of chansons in Italian, and, it may be added, in a most curious bastard speech which is neither French, nor Provençal, nor Italian, but French Italicised in part.” The substance, moreover, of the Charlemagne stories was very early naturalised in Italy in the form of a sort of abstract or compilation called the Reali di Francia,” which in various forms maintained popularity through mediaeval and early modern times, and undoubtedly exercised much influence on the great Italian poets of the Renaissance. They were also diffused throughout Europe, the Carlamagnus Saga in Iceland marking their farthest actual as well as possible limit, though they never in Germany attained anything like the popularity of the Arthurian legend, and though the Spaniards, patriotically resenting the frequent forays into Spain to which



* V. the famous and all-important ninth chapter of the first book of the De Vulgari Eloquio.

* See especially Macaire, ed. Guessard, Paris, 1860.

* So also the aeste of Montglane became the Nerbonesi.

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