Imagens das páginas

eludes in his survey all sorts and conditions of women, from the empress to the serving-maid, and is prolific of advice to wife and widow, nun and marriageable girl.

The composition of Del Reggimento reminds us of Tupper. The lines are of varying length, they are without rhymes, and intermixed with prose; indeed, these versi sciolti are never far from prose. The prose proper consists of moral tales, simple and rather tame, which are used to exemplify the instructions given in the versified portions.

Francesco's other work, the Documenti d' Amore, is interesting mainly as one of the links between Italian and Provencal literature, and appears to have been sketched and, for the most part, written during the author's residence in Provence (1309-1313). About twenty years before Matfre Ermengau had composed his Breviari d' Amor, a work in many respects similar, but Francesco seems to have based his poem, not on this, but on other Troubadour writings now lost. The title is at first rather misleading. "Documenti" means lessons, but the lessons Love teaches are not those usually associated with the whispers of Cupid. Love is here regarded, in agreement with the familiar Provencal theory, as the source of both wisdom and virtue, and this view finds expression in the opening lines of the poem—

"Somma virtu del nostro sire Amore
Lo mio intelletto novamente accese."

The original MS., which is preserved in the Biblioteca Barberini at Kome, includes not only drawings, but a Latin translation of the poem and a full commentary, which is of the utmost service for the light which it throws on Provencal and early Italian literature.1

From Italy we turn to Spain, where we meet with

the same didactic tendency, and, though less evidently,

the same tendency to symbolism. For

Spain. , . * . , ,

chronological and other reasons it behoves us to deal, in the first instance, with a very remarkable personage—Juan Ruiz, Archpriest of Hita. Before Juan Ruiz the last important poet was Gonsalvo de Berceo, who wrote at a time when Spain was still suffering from the effects of her struggle with the Moons. This was now past, and the country everywhere showed signs of prosperity. The farming and mercantile classes were thriving, and the art of reading became generally diffused. Even the Archpriest's man-servant could read; if he read badly, perhaps it was his own fault. The result was that the Juglar lost nine-tenths of his consequence, even among the lower orders, though in the fourteenth century he still practised his cazurrias and sang his dulees cantares. Folksong, however, did not share in the Juglar's fall, and, indeed, gradually acquired greater regularity. For this commodity a market was still to be found in Jewesses and Moorish women, blind persons, and

serenading scholars; and a whole host of

Juan Ruiz.

lyrics, danzas and troteras, was composed by Juan Ruiz. Out of these only four scholar-ditties have been—rather by accident than intention—preserved. Probably all his poems that he thought worthy of preservation were included in his Libro de Buen Amor} one of the most amazing productions of that or any other age. It may be compared, in certain respects, to the Vita Nuova, since it is partly in verse and partly in prose, and the thread that runs through all is the writer's personality and love. The work begins with hymns to God and Mary; with hymns it continues, and with hymns it ends. Between these sacred effusions lies a mixed medley, which is of the world worldly, and what edification it contains proceeds rather from the pervading irony than from direct admonition. Ruiz is essentially too frivolous to offer himself as an "awful example," but he makes a present of his own experiences and observations to any more seriously disposed who may chance to read his book. Some of the tales are allegories without disguise; but, from the preface, it is clear that the writer intended the whole work to be in some sense an allegory. "Beware," says he, "of holding this for a frivolous and lying book; believe not that it speaks only of trifles: just as goodly coins are hid in vile leather, so a jesting work may conceal goodly knowledge. The grain nxenus, outwardly blacker than porridge-pot, is inwardly whiter than ermine; a vile cane conceals white sugar; on a twig of thorn blows the noble flower of the rose."

'See A. Thomas, Francesco da Barbtrino et la LitUrature provcncalt en Italic, &c. Paris, 1883.

A striking feature of the work is a brilliant resetting of a medireval Latin comedy Pamphilus de Amore, in which the central figure is a bawd Trotaconventos, and other actors are Juan Ruiz himself (under a pseudonym), a Moorish woman, and a nun. Interspersed are charming apologues and burlesque pastorals (cdnticas de Serrano).

1 So he calls it in the Epilogue.

The irony of Ruiz might be illustrated by his verses

on the power of money, or by the nun's tale. The

tale was originally advanced as an argu

TheXunSTale. . . ,,. . _

ment against yielding to temptation. It is to this effect. In the "Tierra sin Justicia" were many robbers, and the king sent his officers to suppress them. One robber, who had been punished with the loss of his ears, said to himself: "I am already betrothed to the rope; next time I shall be married altogether." Before, however, he had completed his repentance, a devil came, that he might not lose him; and robber and devil signed an agreement, the former pledging his soul on condition that the devil would never forsake him. Soon after the robber was captured, and called on his protector to redeem his promise. The devil was as good as his word, and, bidding him take courage, tells him: "When you are brought up for trial, draw the alealde aside, and, putting your hand in your bosom, give him what you shall find there." This proved to be a gold cup "niuy noble de preciar," and the criminal was discharged. The same ruse was tried on many subsequent occasions, and was never found to fail. At last, however, the devil grew weary, and the robber, on putting his hand into his bosom, drew forth a long rope as a present. The judge at once ordered him to the gallows. The robber was seriously alarmed; but the devil was not going to desert him yet, and, though he was apparently hanged, supported him on his shoulders. When the executioners had left, the devil bade the criminal open his eyes, and tell him what he saw. What he saw was the devil's feet torn and bleeding, in his hand a number of hooks, and hanging from the hooks a company of cats. The devil is not long in explaining that these cats are the souls of those whom he has ensnared, and that his feet are blood-stained through hunting for them. Already he had informed the wretched man—

"Non puedo mas sofrirte, ten lo que meregiste ;"

and, his discourse ended, he drew himself away, gave a leap, and left his friend high and dry in the noose. The moral is—

"El que con le diablo fuse Pu crianza,
Por mucho que .se turdc el galardon alcanza."

Captivity is a circumstance connecting lluiz with Lopez de Ayala, already mentioned in his quality of spanM chronicler. Ayala was taken prisoner by Bunya*.. the English at the battle of Nareja, 1367, and in England he passed a dolorous confinement. There, perhaps, he wrote a didactic work entitled Rimado de Palapio, comprising his experiences of life, and offering good advice to all and sundry. Ayala does not speak very flatteringly of his predecessor, calling him indeed "a priest of Satan," but it is clear that

« AnteriorContinuar »