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the Dictionnaire des Sciences say “ Dans la contexture du vers, comme dans celle de la prose, les Italiens ont plus de peine a fuir la rime, qu 'a la chercher." If any one, though unacquainted with Portuguese, will open the Lusiad of Camoens, he will find the prevailing rhymes to be the vowel sounds, o, a, e. Let him bear also in mind, that the orthographical consonant terminations in n and m-such as—"trabalhavan, acabassem, perguntavam,” having the sounds of such terminations in French, partake far more of the vowel 'than of the consonant, and are, perhaps, like the suppressed Spanish d, in “verdad, merced," the relics of French influence, even before 1200. It has been said of the Spanish, French, and Italian, with equal felicity and truth, as Ovidi says of the Nereids,
-Facies non omnibus una, “Nec diversa tamen, qualem decet esse sororum.' And though we might, perhaps, suppose unthinkingly, that this was only true of those languages in our day; yet, their perfect identity, even in the thirteenth century, appears from the fact, that Rambaldo Vacheiras conceived the idea of a poem, composed entirely of Spanish, Italian, Provençal, Gascon, and French couplets, alternated successively.
Sir William Jones says, in his French Dissertation on Oriental poetry,—"Dans les vers Asiatiques, elle (la rime) n'enchaine point le sens, comme dans les vers Européens ; les idiomes de ces peuples étant très abondans en mots d'une même terminai
But it was said by Dante, “che mai rima nol trasse à dire altro, che quello, che avia en su proponimento,”-doubtless for the reason assigned by Sir William Jones—and we feel assured, that Ercilla and Camoens might have said the same, with equal propriety and truth. It appears to us then, quite unnecessary, to resort to a foreign cause, very questionable as to it's opportunities, mode, and time of operation, when we behold inherent in these languages, the natural elements of rhymed versification, requiring no example of the Arabians to kindle the dawn of a native literature, much less to develope and apply in the form of rhyme, that prolific similarity of final sounds, so remarkable in the vowel languages of Southern Europe.
After so ample a review of the claims of Arabian literature, to be regarded as the fountain of modern rhyme, through the medium of the Spanish language; we might, perhaps, dispense with any remarks on Provençal and Italian Literature. But, as the reflections suggested by them, confirm the opinions we have already expressed, it may not be amiss to survey them also. We shall first dispose of Italian literature, which Andrès
, Vol. iv. Supp. p. 650 $ 2 Met. v. 13. t 2 Andres, p, 137.
concedes to be younger than the Provençal.This, according to the same author," had a great effect on that, as well as on Spanish, French, German, and English literature: and Dryden, (Pref. to his Fables) says, that Chaucer drank deeply at the fountains of Troubadour poetry. Denina, in his Revolutions of Literature, denies that the Italian was polished and enriched from the Provençal; although it is certain, that many of the early writers of Italy, (such as Brunetto Latini, the Master of Dante") wrote in Provençal : and Bembo, Tiraboschi, Gravina, and Crescimbeni admit that the Italians borrowed largely from the Troubadours. Charles I. of Anjou, (son-in-law of Raymond IV. Count of Provence, renowned for princely virtues and poetical taste) conquered Naples, A. D. 1283, and introduced a taste for Provençal literature at Florence; where he and his successors reigned: while the Emperor Frederick II. King of Sicily, (who spoke fourteen languages) A. D. 1250, kindled the dawn of Italian literature, and his son Manfredi followed his example.
The Arabians conquered Naples in 836, and held it to 896; but their possession of sixty years could not have produced any greater effect, than the possession of Sicily for the same period by the Goths: and Swinburne estimates their influence at nothing. Thus far then, we must consider Italian as originating from Provençal literature: and Tiraboschi, in his History of Italian Literature, speaks of the rhyme, and of the different species of composition, which the former borrowed from the latter.
But a claim upon Italian literature has been advanced by the Sicilians, who insist that they are its authors: and Castelvetro, Petrarch and Muratori say, that the modern species of verse (dependent, not on syllables long and short, but on the disposition and effect of the acute accent) owes its origin to the Sicilians; that they communicated it to the Provençals, and not these to those. We cannot, however, but remark, that the mode, in which Provence produced an effect upon Sicily, is perfectly natural and obvious, as we shall presently shew; whereas no such correspondent influence is discoverable in favour of Sicily. It is said, that the Sicilians cultivated the fine arts as early as the ninth or tenth century; but the earliest specimens extant are the verses of a few obscure Sicilian poets, about the beginning of the thirteenth century; whilst the earliest relics of Troubadour poetry extant, are
a hundred years older. It is also said, that they imbibed from the Saracens, during their possession of the island for 211 years, (from 827 to 1038) a taste for that species of versification, which the Moors are supposed by Andrès to have u 2 Andr. p. 161. » 2 Ib. 179.
communicated to the Spaniards. But the two hundred years of Saracen dominion in Sicily, left, unquestionably, as few traces in the island, in point of literature and language, as in Spain. And, assuredly, if two centuries of sole, undisputed sovereignty, amidst a Greek and Latin population, (scarcely, if at all, affected by the Goths,) left the language as decidedly Latin, as any other dialect of Italian, the influence of the Saracens must have been always inconsiderable, and must have perished utterly under the Norman sway, from 1072 to 1298. Nor must we forget, that the Normans spoke a French, and not a Scandinavian dialect; and, of course, assimilated their own the more readily to the language of the Sicilians. If, however, their tongue had been such, as the Goths carried into Spain, the experience of that country, and of all the Latin countries subdued by the northern barbarians, testifies, that the victors were vanquished in turn, by the language and manners of the conquered. 'The Christians, says Swinburne, “may be presumed to have retained the language of their forefathers,” notwithstanding the Saracen dominion; yet “they certainly abandoned it very speedily after the arrival of the Normans.”
Is it not more natural to look for the origin of Sicilian literature in the influence of the Troubadour King (Frederick 1st, as King of Sicily, and 2d, as Emperor of Germany) and of his son Manfredi, both of them men of genius and learning, poets and encouragers of learning? The Sicilians still preserve the verses of Frederick, of his son Euzo, King of Sardinia, and of his Secretary of State, Pier delle Vigne. If Frederick had not been one of the German Troubadours, but had studied the art of poetry in Sicily, we might have supposed that he had borrowed from the Arabians through the Sicilians; but as the matter stands, it is obvious that Sicily borrowed from Provence, through him. It is worthy of notice also, that this island was the rendezvous of the French and English armies, and of the French and English courts, both of them Norman in language, from September 1190 to April 1191, under Richard I. himself a poet, surrounded by Troubadours and Jongleurs.* Let us
Vol. iii. p. 397. * Warton tells us, (vol. i. p. 111) that “The ancient chronicles of France mention Legions de Poetes as embarking in this wonderful enterprise.” (The Crusades.) “ The Iroubadours of Provence, (p. 110) an idle and unsettled race of men, up arms, and followed their barons, in prodigious multitudes, to the conquest of Jerusalem. They made a considerable part of the household of the nobility of France. Lewis VII. King of France, not only entertained them at his Court very liberally, but commanded a considerable number of them into his retinue, when he took ship for Palestine.” Here is an error, for which Velley is cited, Hist. France, sub. An. 1178. But Lewis went to the Holy Land only once, viz. in 1147, (Daniel's History of France, vol. ii. pp. 51-52) and then he went by land. He intended to go again in 1178; but did not. (Gifford's History of France, vol. i. pp. 373--374.)
bear in mind, that the Normans had given a new direction to the imagination of the European nations; that they had come fresh from the north, 130 years before, and had breathed in its original purity, the atmosphere of poetry and chivalry ; that they had retained this spirit, even after becoming Christians, and learning French; that they infused a portion of their spirit, wherever they went; that they wrought a visible change throughout Europe ; that they were living models of adventure and enthusiasm, and led the way in the crusades. Assuredly, when we consider the preparations thus made, we may pronounce with confidence, that the seven months residence of Richard, and the reigns of Frederick I. and of Manfredi, from 1250 to 1266, would certainly introduce a taste for the rhymed versification of Provençal poetry, among a people, who spoke a language resembling the Provençal as much, as both differed from the Arabic. We know that the literati of Italy, crowded the Court of Frederick, became themselves poets, and carried back to their native land, the novel species of versification, which they had learnt. Hence, Dante, who was born in 1265, considers “Siciliana Favella,” as synonymous with modern poetic language; and tells us, "quicquid poetantur Itali, Sicilianum vocatur.” Andrès says that Petrarch ascribed the origin of the vulgar poetry to the Sicilians; and the Abbé adds, in the spirit of his Arabic prejudices, “è i Siciliani appunto erano stati dominati dagli Arabi.” The claims of Provençal and of Sicilian literature, to be regarded as the mother of the Italian, appear to be so equally balanced, that we look upon it, as a strong confirmation of the identity of Sicilian and Provençal literature, as above explained. This, of course, accounts for the fact, that there is no such striking difference between the literature and language of Sicily and those of Provence, as to mark by its characteristic effects, the predominant influence of either on the Italian. But, if we were to grant, that Sicily owed nothing to Provence, can we not account for the origin of rhymed versification there, from the natural facilities of the language, as already explained in relation to the Spanish, without resorting to the very doubtful influence of the Arabians ?
Let us now survey the Provençal literature, to discover, if we can, the supposed derivation of rhyme through this channel, from the Arabians. It is conceded, that nothing is left of the Troubadours of an earlier date, than about the year 11006. Even the metrical history of Gregory de Bechada, recording the events of the first crusade (A. D. 1095) has perished. The earliest Troubadour, of whom ought remains, William Count of Poitou, a 1 Schlegel, 307.
6 2 Andrès, p. 152.
died (A.D. 1126). But many Provençal poets must have existed long before; since the remark of Mitford is certainly correct, that “the forms of versification have every where had their origin, long hefore the perfection of literature.”d Accordingly, Dessessart informs us, that the poets of Languedoc brought rhyme into repute in the tenth century, though it then was, as he expresses it, “ bien barbare et bien imparfaite.” We have no remains of these poets, yet we know that the language being substantially the same, there must have been a general identity of character between the Provençal poets of the tenth and eleventh centuries. Now, it has been said, that the "envoy” of Provençal poetry, is a strong proof of it’s Arabic origin, independently of the resemblances assigned by Andrès. The "envoy" is that part of the composition, in which the poet breaks off suddenly his train of narrative or reflection, to apostrophise “himself or his song; or the jongleur whose business it is to sing it; or the lady, for whom it is composed; or the messenger, who is to bear it to her." But, here again, a little attention to the peculiar character and early history of the Troubadours, will convince us, that the envoy, as well as the other supposed resemblances, arose, not from an imitation of the Arabians, but from inherent causes, which would have produced the same results, though the Arabians had never existed : just as similar causes have produced, in all rude states of society, “those abrupt transitions, which are very commonly (though rather absurdly) considered as Pindaric, and which are universally characteristic of savage poetry."
Poetry, according to Monsieur Guingéné, constituted the very essence of Arabian character: and from this leading feature of resemblance, it is concluded that Provence must have derived the same feature, from the Saracens. But a brief sketch will leave no reasonable doubt, that the poetry of the Troubadour arose from the peculiar spirit of the age: and was not copied from the Arabians.
The Visigoths settled in the South of France and the North of Spain, the very countries occupied by the French and Spanish Troubadours. No material impression, either on language or manners, could have been made by the Saracens, before the Spanish portion was conquered by Charlemagne. (A. D. 778.) The kingdom of Arles was founded by Bozon, (A.D. 877.) the æra of the Provençal language ;" and the Spanish provinces became independent of France, about 906. Barcelona in Provençal Spain, and Marseilles in Provençal France, kept up a
C4 Hall. p. 397 d Mitf. Inq. p. 132 e Dict. de Literat. vol. iii. p. 391. f No. 11, Qnart. Rev. p. 7 & 1 Ellis' Specim. p. 13. h 1 Sism. p. 57.