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the noticeable points in this division of our subject. It will be observed that Spain is at this time content, like Goethe's scholar, sieh iben. Her one great literary achievement—admirable in some respects, incomparable in itself—is not a novelty in kind: she has no lessons in form to give, which, like some of Italy's, have not been improved upon to this day; she cannot, like Germany, boast a great quantity of work of equal accomplishment and inspiration; least of all has she the astonishing fertility and the unceasing maestria of France. But she has practice and promise, she is doing something more than “going to begin,” and her one great achievement has (it cannot well be too often repeated) the inestimable and unmistakable quality of being itself and not something else, in spirit if not in scheme, in character if not quite in form. It would be no consolation for the loss of the Cid that we have Beowulf and Roland and the Nibelungen—they would not fill its place, they do not speak with its voice. The much-abused and nearly meaningless adjective “Homeric" is here, in so far as it has any meaning, once more appropriate. Of the form of Homer there is little: of the vigour, the freshness, the poetry, there is much.
IT is now time to sum up, as may best be done, the results of this attempt to survey the Literature of Europe during one, if not of its most accomplished, most enlightened, or most generally admired periods, yet assuredly one of the most momentous, the most interesting, the fullest of problem and of promise. Audacious as the attempt itself may seem to some, inadequate as the performance may be pronounced by others, it is needless to spend much more argument in urging its claim to be at least tried on the merits. All varieties of literary history have drawbacks almost inseparable from their schemes. The elaborate monograph, which is somewhat in favour just now, is exposed to the criticism, not quite carping, that it is practically useless without independent study of its subject, and practically superfluous with it. The history of separate literatures, whether in portion or in whole, is always liable to be charged with omissions or with disproportionate treatment within its subject, with want of perspective, with “blinking,” as regards matters without. And so such a survey as this is liable to the charge of being superficial, or of attempting more than it can possibly cover, or of not keeping the due balance between its various provinces and compartments. It must be for others to say how such a charge, in the present case, is helped by laches or incompetence on the part of the surveyor. But enough has, I hope, been said to clear the scheme itself from the objection of uselessness or of impracticability. In one sense, no doubt, far more room than this volume, or a much larger, could provide, may seem to be required for the discussion and arrangement of so great and interesting a matter as the Literature of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries. But to say this, is only saying that no such account in such a space could be exhaustive: and it so happens that an exhaustive account is for the purpose not required—would indeed go pretty far towards the defeat of that purpose. What is wanted is to secure that the reader, whether he pursues his studies in more detail with regard to any of these literatures or not, shall at any rate have in his head a fair general notion of what they were simultaneously or in succession, of the relation in which they stood to each other, of the division of literary labour between them. If, on the other hand, it be said, “You propose to give, according to your scheme, a volume apiece to the fourteenth and even the fifteenth centuries, the work of which was far less original and interesting than the work of these two Why do you couple
these ?” the answer is not difficult. In the first place,
of kind to its fellows than even one modern novel, even one nineteenth-century minor poem, to another. As the men write in schools, so they can be handled in them. Yet I should hope that it must have been already made apparent how very far the present writer is from undervaluing the period with which he has essayed to deal. He might perhaps be regarded as overvaluing it with more apparent reason — not, I think, with any reason that is more than apparent. For this was the time, if not of the Birth—the exact times and seasons of literary births no man knoweth—at any rate of the first appearance, fullblown or full-fledged, of Romance. Many praiseworthy folk have made many efforts to show that Romance was after all no such new thing—that there is Romance in the Odyssey, Romance in the choruses of AFschylus, Romance East and West, North and South, before the Middle Ages. They are only less unwise than the other good folk who endeavour to tie Romance down to a Teutonic origin, or a Celtic, or in the other sense a Romance one, to Chivalry (which was in truth rather its offspring than its parent), to this, and that, and the other. “All the best things in literature,” it has been said, “are returns”; and this is perfectly true, just as it is perfectly true in another sense that all the best things in literature are novelties. In this particular growth, being as it was a product of the unchanging human mind, there were notes, doubtless, of Homer and of AEschylus, of Solomon the son of David and