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ended. Barbour was a scholar and a statesman; he possessed both aptitude and opportunity for research, and it is probable that he had sources of information fuller and more authentic than mere popular ballads. Anyhow, no topic could have been chosen more acceptable to Scotsmen, and the comparative nearness of the transactions has no bearing on their essentially romantic character.
It is unnecessary to trace in detail the career of the chivalrous Bruce. Barbour launches his poem with the murder on consecrated soil of the traitor Comyn. This violation of Divine prerogative the writer, a man of religion and learning, well knew could not go unpunished, and accordingly it is his melancholy task to follow the champion of Scotland over moor and mountain, hunted by John of Lome with his sleuthhound, and in hourly peril of ignominious arrest. But the king, though often sore bestead, always contrives to "win through," and, indeed, inspires the enemy with a wholesome respect for his prowess. Sir Aymer de Valence, on learning how five men had been slain in the bootless chase—
"Sanyt hym for the ferly,
Bruce, however, is much more than a formidable antagonist. His form has the soft hues of genuine knightly grace; and in his demeanour towards females, even the humblest, he is the pink of courtesy.
Only passing allusion can be made to the Legends of the Saints,1 ascribed to Barbour, and received by Professor Horstmann in his edition of 1881 as genuine, though doubted by others. The legends are an extensive compilation, amounting to thirty-three thousand lines, compared with the thirteen thousand lines of The Bruce.2
The English side in the quarrel is represented in the political lyric of a Northumbrian minstrel, Laurence
Laurence Minot, a bitter enemy of the Scots, and a
Mmot. scarcely less bitter enemy of the French. Minot always believes in the justice of King Edward's (the Third Edward's) cause, and a strain of piety, mingling with his enthusiastic loyalty and patriotism, leads him to invoke the divine blessing on that monarch's arms. The songs are in various metres, and some of them share a peculiarity found also in the Pearl2,—namely, the linking of consecutive stanzas by the repetition of a word—
( Fader, and Son, and Haly Gaste
( And thare he dightes him forto dwell.
1 Altenglische Legendensainmlung, nebst den Fragmenteu seines Trojanerkrieges (Heilbronn, 1881.) Also S.T.S. ed.
2 The Bruce has been edited for both the Societies above-named by the Rev. W. W. Skeat. Other editions are those of Pinkerton (Edinburgh, 1790) and Jamieson (London, 1824).
3 Ed. Gollancz, London, 1891.
This artifice occurs in Provencal, as, indeed, in most poetry pretty advanced on the formal side, and was employed either as an aid to memory or as an ornament pure and simple. It is in technical points that this writer displays his skill, and he half succeeds in elevating popular verse into a fine art. Minot is something of a court-minstrel, something of a balladsinger, but he was not strong enough to do what Chaucer might have done in his place—transfigure this combination in the role of a great national poet.1
1 The Poems of Laurence Minot. Edited, with Introduction and Notes, by Joseph Hall, M.A. Oxford, The Clarendon Press. See also, Thomas Wright, Political Poems and Songs relating to English History. London, 1859.
TOWN-VERSE AND FOLK-SONG.
DECLINE OF THE TROUBADOUR ART—THE 'LEYS D'AMORS '—LEGEND OF CLEMENCE 1SAURE—OLD PORTUGUESE POETRY — CATALONIAN VERSE
—GERMAN LOVE OF SONG THE MEISTERSINGERS—VOLKSLIEDER
MINNESINGERS IN LEGEND—REIMSPRECHER—THE LOW COUNTRIES—
It has been said that the decline of court-poetry and the growth of middle-class culture are to be regarded, not as independent phenomena, but as, on
What "bour- r .
geois Litira- the whole, the same thing contemplated tme mmns. from difFerent points of view. Much of the literature already reviewed is unmistakably bourgeois. What makes it bourgeois is not so much that its professors were men of humble station or plebeian origin —that is a detail, in itself of no great importance— but the triumph of matter over manner. The Germans have a convenient phrase for expressing this trait— I do not know that we have any quite so apt—stoffinteresse. Regarding the tone of the new verse (and the remark applies to both lyrical and narrative compositions) there is revealed a growing strictness, the working of a Puritanical spirit. The citizen was appreciably more serious than the knight, being not so much a social animal delighting in feast and song as a man of commerce to whom honesty was a thing of weight, and the father of a family responsible for its decent bringing-.up. Possibly also a substantial householder—it was to such that the "masters" did most commonly resort—accustomed to impose his ideas on a circle of admirers and hangers-on. Morality, love of home, power of the purse—out of these three factors was evolved the awful notion of respectability, always and everywhere the middle-class fetich.
Let us turn in the first place to the smooth and polished art associated primarily with Provence. At rate of the the very outset we are confronted by a ungue d oc. startling discovery. "Great Pan is dead!" Diez' Poesie der Troubadours, still perhaps the best introduction to the subject, closes with the year 1300, while the last of the Troubadours in general repute was Giraut Pdquier, who flourished 1234-1292. The wonder is that the literature had lasted so long. Nearly a century before, the house of Anjou and the Pope had entered into an unholy alliance for the extirpation of the langue d'oc, tainted by the heresy of the Albigeois. The result was an exodus of the poets to foreign lands. The barons fared just as ill. Like the English nobility in the Wars of the Roses, they were engulfed in the national disasters—in other words, slain or disseized. The old order became a thing of the past.