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THAT peculiar and arbitrary species of Fiction which we
commonly call Romantic, was entirely unknown to the writers
of Greece and Rome". It appears to have been imported into
Europe by a people, whose modes of thinking, and habits of
invention, are not natural to that country. It is generally sup-
posed to have been borrowed from the Arabians#. But this
origin has not been hitherto perhaps examined or ascertained with a sufficient degree of accuracy. It is my present design, by a more distinct and extended inquiry than has yet been applied to the subject, to trace the manner and the period of its introduction into the popular belief, the oral poetry, and the literature, of the Europeans. It is an established maxim of modern criticism, that the fictions of Arabian imagination were communicated to the western world by means of the Crusades. Undoubtedly those expeditions greatly contributed to propagate this mode of fabling in Europe. But it is evident, (although a circumstance which certainly makes no material difference as to the principles here established,) that these fancies were introduced at a much earlier period. The Saracens, or Arabians, having been for some time seated on the northern coasts of Africa, entered Spain about the beginning of the eighth century”. Of this country they soon effected a complete conquest: and imposing their religion, language, and customs, upon the inhabitants, erected a royal seat in the capital city of Cordova". That by means of this establishment they first revived the sciences of Greece in Europe, will be proved at large in another place": and it is obvious to conclude, that at the same time they disseminated those extravagant inventions which were so peculiar to their romantic and creative genius. A manuscript cited by Du Cange acquaints us, that the Spaniards, soon after the irruption of the Saracens, entirely neglected the study of the Latin language; and, captivated with the novelty of the oriental books imported by these strangers, suddenly adopted an unusual pomp of style, and an affected elevation of diction *. The ideal tales of these Eastern invaders, recommended by a brilliancy of description, a variety of imagery, and an exuberance of invention, hitherto unknown and unfamiliar to the cold and barren conceptions of a western climate, were eagerly caught up, and universally diffused. From Spain, by the communications of a constant commercial intercourse through the ports of Toulon and Marseilles, they soon passed into France and Italy". In France, no province, or district, seems to have given these fictions of the Arabians a more welcome or a more early reception, than the inhabitants of Armorica# or Basse-Bretagne, now Britanyf; for no part of France can boast so great a number of antient romances". Many poems of high antiquity, composed by the Armorican bards, still remain", and are frequently cited by Father Lobineau in his learned history

* [“It cannot be true,” says Ritson,
“that romance was entirely unknown to
the writers of Greece and Rome; since,
without considering the Iliad, Odyssey,
AEneid, &c. in that point of view, we
have many ancient compositions, which
clearly fall within that denomination:
as the pastoral of Daphnis and Chloe by
Longus; the AEthiopicks of Heliodorus;
Xenophon's Ephesian History,” &c. &c.
(M.S. note in Dr. Raine's copy of War-
ton’s History, purchased from Ritson's
library.) To these recollections, Mr.
Douce has added the romance of Apu-
leius; the loves of Clitophon and Leu-
cippe, by Achilles Tatius; and the very
curious Adventures of Rhodanes and
Sinonis, or the Babylonic Romance, of
which an epitome is preserved by Photius
in his Bibliotheca, Cod. xciv. “This,”
says Mr. D., “is perhaps the oldest
work of the kind, being composed by
one Iamblicus, who lived under Marcus
“The progress of romance and the state

vol. i.

of learning in the middle ages (says Gib-
bon, Decline and Fall,) are illustrated by
Mr. Thomas Warton with the taste of a
poet, and the minute diligence of an an-
tiquarian. I have derived much instruc-
tion from the two learned dissertations
prefixed to the first volume of his History
of English Poetry.”—Pass.]

[This is a mere cavil of Mr. Ritson's,
who could not believe a scholar of War-
ton's attainments to have been unac-
quainted with these erotic novels. Se-
veral of them are mentioned in vol. ii.
p. 183. In the dissertation on Romance
and Minstrelsy, Warton is even reproach-
ed for describing another—the loves of
Clitophon and Leucippe—as a “poeti-
cal novel of Greece.” In fact, it is ma-
nifest from this expression, that Warton
chose to exclude this and similar pro-
ductions from the title of romantic fic-

+ [See Huet Traité de l'Origine des
Romans, who has discussed this opinion
at large.--Doucr.)


* See ALMAKIN, edit. Erpenius, p. 72.

* [The conquest of Spain by the Arabians becomes one of the most curious and important events recorded in history, when it is considered as having in a great degree contributed to the progress of civilization in Europe, and to the diffusion of science and art. (See this illustrated in the Arabian Antiquities of Spain, by

J. C. Murphy.) “But there is evidence,
though not the most satisfactory,” says
Mr. Douce, “that the fabulous stories of
Arthur and his Knights existed either
among the French or English Britons,
before the conquest of Spain by the Ara-
bians.”—PARx.] -
* See the second Dissertation.

* “Arabico eloquio sublimati,” &c. Du Cang. Gloss. Med. Inf. Latinitat. tom. i. Praef. p. xxvii. S. 31.

* [Ritson avers, that there is not one single French romance now extant, and but one mentioned by any ancient writer, which existed before the first Crusade, under Godfrey earl of Bologne, afterward king of Jerusalem, in 1097.*** + [From Ary-már ucha', i.e. on the upper sea. See Jones's Relicks of the Welsh Bards.-PARx.]

# [“The lays of this country,” says Rit

son, “were anciently very celebrated, although not one, nor even the smallest vestige of one, in its vernacular language (a dialect of the Britanno-Celtic) is known to exist. The Bretons have but one single poem, of any consequence, in their native idiom, ancient or modern : the predictions of a pretended prophet, named Gwinglaff, the MS. whereof is dated 1450.” Notes to Metric. Rom. iii. 329. Ritson afterwards expresses his belief, that by Bretagne and Bretons were meant the island and inhabitants of Great Britain. At the same time, it does not (he thinks) appear; that any such lays are preserved in Wales any more than in Basse-Bretagne, if, in fact, , they ever existed in either country. Ibid.

p. 332. In his Dissertation on Romance and Minstrelsy (p. xxiv.) Ritson adds two other Armoric poems to the predictions of Gwinglaff, viz. the life of Gwenolé, abbot of Landevenec, one of their fabulous saints; and a little dramatic piece on the taking of Jerusalem. Thus, our doughty critic, from being too positive and too peremptory, had cause to correct his own hallucinations as well as those of others.-Pank.] * Thereason on which this conclusion is founded, will appear hereafter. [“It is difficult,” says Mr. Douce, “to conceive, that the people of Britany could have been influenced by the Arabians at any period.”—PARx. * In the British Museum is a set of old French tales of chivalry in verse, written, as it seems, by the bards of Bretagne. MSS. Harl. 978. 107. These tales were not written by the bards of Bretagne, but by a poetess of the name of Marie de France, of whom nothing is known. In one of these lais she names herself, and says that most of her tales are borrowed from the old British lais, The scenes of several of these storiesarelaid in Bretagne, which appears sometimes to mean Brittany in France, andsometimes Great Britain'.--Douce.] [Marie is not mentioned in Le Grand's

* See Note B. at the end of this Dissertation.

of Basse-Bretagne".

This territory was, as it were, newly

peopled in the fourth century by a colony or army of the Welsh, who migrated thither under the conduct of Maximus, a Roman

.catalogue, though he has modernised and published her Fables in French, from king Alfred's Anglo-Saxon version of AEsop. That she had written lays seems not to have been known to him. M. de la Rue has given a list of her lays in Archaeol. xiii. 42. They are twelve in number, and one of them contains 1184 verses. She also wrote a history or tale in French verse, of St. Patrick's Pur. gatory, two copies of which are in the British Museum. This was early translated into English under the title of Owayne Miles (Sir Owen). Mr. Ellis, in his Specimens of early English metrical Romances, has introduced an abstract or analysis of the lays of Marie, which he informs us that Ritson either neglected to read, or was unable to understand; since he denied their Armorican origin. See his observations, vol. i. p. 137. Mr Way published an elegant version of the first of these lays (Guigemar) in his Fabliaux; and Mr. Ellis printed an early translation of the third (Lai le Fresne) from the Auchinleck MS. in his Romance Specimens.—PAax.] ... “This ritAM a WALEs” is mentioned, f. 171. b.

Tristram ki bien saveit HARPEIR.

In the adventure of the knight EliDuc, f. 172. b. En Bretaine ot un chevalier Pruz, & curteis, hardi, & fier.

Again, under the same champion, f. 173.

Il tient sun chemin tut avant. A la mer vient, si est passez, En Toteneis est arrivez; Plusurs réis ot en latere, Entr'eus eurent estrife guere, Vers Excestre en cel pais—

Toren Eis is Totness in Devonshire.— Under the knight MILUN, f. 166.

Milun fu de Suthwales nez.

He is celebrated for his exploits in Ireland, Norway, Gothland, Lotharingia, Albany, &c.

Under LAUNvAL, f. 154. b.
En Bretun l'apelent Lanval.
Under GUIGEMAR, f. 141.

La caumbre ert painte tut entur;
Venus le dieuesse d'amur,
Fu tres bien mis en la peinture,
Les traiz mustrez é la nature,
Cument hum deit amur tenir,
E lealment é bien servir.
Le livre Ovide à il ensegne, &c.

This description of a chamber painted with Venus and the three mysteries of nature, and the allusion to Ovid, prove the tales before us to be of no very high antiquity. But they are undoubtedly taken from others much older, of the same country.

[Mr. Douce observes that Warton has totally misunderstood these lines, in which there is nothing about the mysteries of nature; and they mean no more than that the chamber exhibited the description and manner how a man should fall in love, &c. Mustrez is put for mon“o.]

At the end of ELIDuc's tale we have these lines. f. 181.

Del aventure deces treis,
Li auncien BRETUN curteis
Firent le lai pour remembrer
Que hum nel' deust pas oublier.
[EquitAN ?]

And under the tale of FREsNE, f. 148,
Li BRETUN en firent un lai.

At the conclusion of most of the tales it is said that these LA1s were made by the poets of Bretaigne. Another of the tales is thus closed, f. 146. De cest conte k'oi avez Fu Gugemer le LA1 trovez Qui hum dist en harpe é en rote Bone en esta oir la note.

* Histoire DE BRETAGNE, ii. tom. fol. [Mr. Ritson says he repeatedly, but unsuccessfully, examined Lobineaufor these citations, and that Mr. Doucehadequally failed in discovering them.–EDIT.]

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