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Mr. Ritson has been available, (at least in all cases where his reasoning has produced conviction on the editor's mind,) his corrections will be found submitted in their appropriate places. But as the more important of these were directed against opinions rather than facts, and consequently, whether correct or inadmissible, could not always be inserted or combated in the body of the work, without deranging Warton's text or causing too frequent repetitions, they have been reserved for consideration here, and may be classed under the general heads of:--objections to the Dissertation on the Origin of Romantic Fiction, the credibility of Geoffrey of Monmouth's history, the character of Warton's specimens, and his glossarial illustrations of them.
If the object of this examination were a mere defence of Warton's opinions, by exposing the false positions assumed by his adversary, it would be an easy task to show that Mr. Ritson's sweeping assertions with regard to the general relations between the Moors in Spain and their conquered subjects, or even their Christian foes, are not borne out by the facts. The inferences he has drawn would consequently fall of themselves; and it might be added, that the discoveries of our own times have sufficiently proved the possibility of this decried system being upheld, if the general principle it assumes, and which has been applied by Mr. Ritson to the
progress of Romance in England, Italy and Germany, were otherwise allowable. The romance of Antar might be offered as a sufficient type for all subsequent tales of chivalry; and the story of the Sid Batallah adduced as a proof, that the Spaniards could endow a national hero with a title borrowed from the favourite champion of their foes 2. But this would be creating a phantom for the purpose of foiling an over-zealous
12 Of course this is only stated hypo. Moor would have used the same address, thetically. The reason assigned in the Sid, Master, to his Spanish licge lord. Chronicle for the appellation, is indis. The Arabian romance is noticed by putably a fable; since every tributary Warton, Diss. i. p. xiv. ; and Mr. von
adversary. The ends of truth will be better advanced by examining the causes which led to Warton's adoption of this dazzling theory, and an estimate of its application to the subject it was intended to develop.
The light sketch given by Warburton of the origin of romance in Spain, traced the whole stream of chivalrous fiction to two sources,—the chronicle of the Pseudo-Turpin relative to Charlemagne and his peers, and the British history of Geoffrey of Monmouth. In this system there were many points totally irreconcileable with the state of the subject, both before and after the periods at which these productions obtained a circulation; and it was therefore necessary to account for what might be termed, the anticipations of their narratives, and even their omissions, by the discovery of a more prolific fountain-head. A large portion of the marvellous imagery contained in the early poetry of Europe, was found to have its counterpart in the creations of Oriental genius. To account for this, by a direct communication between the East and West, was the problem that Warton proposed to solve; and as the æra of the first crusade was too recent to meet the difficulties already alluded to, and Warburton had been supposed to prove that the first romances were of Spanish origin, the subject seemed to connect itself in a very natural order with the Moorish conquest of that country. A more extensive acquaintance with the general literature of the dark and middle ages has fully proved the fallacy of this assumption, which could only have been entertained in the infancy of the study. But that such an hypothesis should have been conceived in this stage of the subject, will be no impeachment of Warton's general judgement, when it is recollected, that his contemporary Hammer has recently borne evidence to German romances on the story of the
great popularity among the Saracens. Saint Graal (to be noticed hereafter) are The Moorish Sid died in the campaign derived from an Arabic source, through against Constantinople, anno 738. See the medium of the Provençal. Jahrbücher der Litteratur, No. 14, The
Dr. Percy had adopted a system equally exclusive; and that Dr. Leyden, at a later period, advocated a third upon the same contracted principles. The analogous conduct of such men, though not wholly exculpatory, is at least a proof that the causes for this procedure rested on no slight foundation. There is however one leading error in Warton's Dissertation, an error it only shares in common with the theories opposed to it, arising from too confined a view of the natural limits of his subject, and too general an application of the system in detail. The consequence has been an unavoidable confusion between the essence and the costume of romantic fiction, and the exclusive appropriation of the common property of mankind to a particular age and people. Indeed, the learned projectors of these several systems no sooner begin to disclose the details of their schemes, than we instantly recognise the elements of national fable in every country of whose literature we possess a knowledge; and notwithstanding the professed intention of conducting an examination into the origin of romantic fiction, their disquisitions silently merge into the origin of fiction in general. To such an inquiry it is evident there can be no chronological limits. The fictions of one period, with some modification, are found to have had an existence in that immediately preceding; and the further we pursue the investigation, the more we become convinced of a regular transmission through the succession of time, or that many seeming resemblances and imitations are sprung from common organic causes, till at length the question escapes us as a matter of historical research, and resolves itself into one purely psychological. It is even difficult to conceive any period of human existence, where the disposition to indulge in these illusions of fancy has not been a leading characteristic of the mind. The infancy of society, as the first in the order of time, also affords some circumstances highly favourable to the development of this faculty. In such a state, the secret and invisible bands
which connect the human race with the animal and vegetable creation, are either felt more forcibly than in an age of conventional refinement, or are more frequently presented to the imagination. Man regards himself then but as the first link in the chain of animate and inanimate nature, as the associate and fellow of all that exists around him, rather than as a separate being of a distinct and superior order. His attention is arrested by the lifeless or breathing objects of his daily intercourse, not merely as they contribute to his numerous wants and pleasures, but as they exhibit any affinity or more remote analogy with the mysterious properties of his being. Subject to the same laws of life and death, of procreation and decay, or partially endowed with the same passions, sympathies and propensities, the speechless companion of his toil and amusement, the forest in which he resides, or the plant which flourishes beneath his care, are to him but varied types of his own intricate organization. In the exterior form of these, the faithful record of his senses forbids any material change; but the internal structure, which is wholly removed from the view, may be fashioned and constituted at pleasure. The qualities which this is to assume, need only be defined by the measure of the will, and hence we see that, not content with granting to each separate class a mere generic vitality suitable to its kind, he bestows on all the same mingled frame of matter and mind, which gives the chief value to his own existence. Nor is this playful exercise of the inventive faculties confined to the sentient objects of the creation; it is extended over the whole material and immaterial world, and applied to every thing of which the mind has either a perfect or only a faint conception. The physical phænomena of nature, the tenets of a public creed, the speculations of ancient wisdom 13, or the exposition of a moral duty,
See the celebrated passage in the in the ancient world. Mr. F. Schlegel has Iliad viii. 17, relative to the golden given a parallel passage from the Bhagachain of Jupiter, ith Heyne's account vatgita, where Vishnu illustrates the exof the interpretations bestowed upon it tent of his power by a similar image:
are alike subjected to the same fantastic impress, and made to assume those forms which, by an approximation to the animal contour, assist the understanding in seizing their peculiar qualities, and the memory in retaining them. It is this personification of the blind efforts of nature, which has given rise to those wild and distorted elements that abound in all profane cosmogonies; where, by a singular combination of the awful and sublime with the monstrous and revolting, an attempt is made to render intelligible those infinite energies of matter which surpass the limits of human comprehension. The same law is evident in the obscure embodiment of a moral axiom, or an abstract quality, as shadowed forth in the enigma; in all that condensed imagery which has found its way into the proverbial expressions of nations; and some of the most surprising incidents in romantic narrative, have no better foundation than the conversion of a name into an event 5. But of this universal tendency to confer a spiritual existence upon
the lifeless productions of nature, and to give a corporeal form and expression to the properties and conceptions of matter and mind, it would be superfluous to offer any laboured proof. The whole religious system of the ancient world, with one ex
“I am the cause of existence as well as de- with a lion. A still more remarkable struction to all; than me nothing higher illustration of the same practice is to be is found, and nothing without me. O found in the German romance, Heinrich friend! this ALL hangs united on me der Löwe, or Henry the Lion. See like the pearls that are strung on a fillet." Görres Volks-hucher, p. 91. There can Ueber die Sprache und Weisheit der be as little doubt, that we are indebtIndier, p. 303. See also Il. i. 422, with ed to the name of Cypselus (a chest) the ancient expositors.
for the marvellous story related by He* Considerable collections on this sub. rodotus, 5. 92. See also the fable rela. ject are to be found in the preface to Re- tive to Priam (from sogicolas, Apollosenius's edition of the Edda. The whole dorus Biblioth. ii. 6. 4.) and Ajax (from argument is very elaborately discussed als Tas, Schol. in Pind. Íst. s. 76.) To in Mr. Creuzer's learned work, Symbolik the same cause, perhaps, we may also und Mythologie der Alten Völker be- attribute the tale of Pelops and his ivory sonders der Griechen, vol. i. Leipzig shoulder. The concurrent practice of 1810.
the minstrel poets will show these recitals is The name of Cæur de Lion has not to have been mere fancies of the furnished king Richard's romance with grammarians. the well-known incident of his combat