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[Transcriber's Notes: To improve readability, dashes between entries
in the Table of Contents and in chapter subheadings have been
converted to periods. The Anglo-Saxon yogh symbol is here represented
by [y].]




Periods of European Literature


EDITED BY

PROFESSOR SAINTSBURY


II.

THE TWELFTH AND THIRTEENTH CENTURIES




PERIODS OF EUROPEAN LITERATURE.

EDITED BY PROFESSOR SAINTSBURY.


"_The criticism which alone can much help us for the future
is a criticism which regards Europe as being, for
intellectual and spiritual purposes, one great
confederation, bound to a joint action and working to a
common result._"

- MATTHEW ARNOLD.


In 12 Crown 8vo Volumes. Price 5s. net each.

The DARK AGES Professor W.P. KER.
The FLOURISHING OF ROMANCE
AND THE RISE OF ALLEGORY THE EDITOR.
The FOURTEENTH CENTURY F.J. SNELL.
The TRANSITION PERIOD
The EARLIER RENAISSANCE
The LATER RENAISSANCE DAVID HANNAY.
The FIRST HALF OF 17TH CENTURY
The AUGUSTAN AGES OLIVER ELTON.
The MID-EIGHTEENTH CENTURY
The ROMANTIC REVOLT EDMUND GOSSE.
The ROMANTIC TRIUMPH WALTER H. POLLOCK.
The LATER NINETEENTH CENTURY THE EDITOR.

WILLIAM BLACKWOOD & SONS, EDINBURGH AND LONDON.




THE

FLOURISHING OF ROMANCE

AND THE

RISE OF ALLEGORY


BY

GEORGE SAINTSBURY, M.A.

PROFESSOR OF RHETORIC AND ENGLISH LITERATURE IN THE UNIVERSITY OF
EDINBURGH


WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS
EDINBURGH AND LONDON
MDCCCXCVII




PREFACE.


As this volume, although not the first in chronological order, is
likely to be the first to appear in the Series of which it forms part,
and of which the author has the honour to be editor, it may be well to
say a few words here as to the scheme of this Series generally. When
that scheme was first sketched, it was necessarily objected that it
would be difficult, if not impossible, to obtain contributors who
could boast intimate and equal knowledge of all the branches of
European literature at any given time. To meet this by a simple denial
was, of course, not to be thought of. Even universal linguists, though
not unknown, are not very common; and universal linguists have not
usually been good critics of any, much less of all, literature. But it
could be answered that if the main principle of the scheme was
sound - that is to say, if it was really desirable not to supplant but
to supplement the histories of separate literatures, such as now exist
in great numbers, by something like a new "Hallam," which should take
account of all the simultaneous and contemporary developments and
their interaction - some sacrifice in point of specialist knowledge of
individual literatures not only must be made, but might be made with
little damage. And it could be further urged that this sacrifice might
be reduced to a minimum by selecting in each case writers thoroughly
acquainted with the literature which happened to be of greatest
prominence in the special period, provided always that their general
literary knowledge and critical habits were such as to render them
capable of giving a fit account of the rest.

In the carrying out of such a scheme occasional deficiencies of
specialist dealing, or even of specialist knowledge, must be held to
be compensated by range of handling and width of view. And though it
is in all such cases hopeless to appease what has been called "the
rage of the specialist" himself - though a Mezzofanti doubled with a
Sainte-Beuve could never, in any general history of European
literature, hope to satisfy the special devotees of Roumansch or of
Platt-Deutsch, not to mention those of the greater languages - yet
there may, I hope, be a sufficient public who, recognising the
advantage of the end, will make a fair allowance for necessary
shortcomings in the means.

As, however, it is quite certain that there will be some critics, if
not some readers, who will not make this allowance, it seemed only
just that the Editor should bear the brunt in this new Passage
Perilous. I shall state very frankly the qualifications which I think
I may advance in regard to this volume. I believe I have read most of
the French and English literature proper of the period that is in
print, and much, if not most, of the German. I know somewhat less of
Icelandic and Provençal; less still of Spanish and Italian as regards
this period, but something also of them: Welsh and Irish I know only
in translations. Now it so happens that - for the period - French is,
more than at any other time, the capital literature of Europe. Very
much of the rest is directly translated from it; still more is
imitated in form. All the great subjects, the great _matières_, are
French in their early treatment, with the exception of the national
work of Spain, Iceland, and in part Germany. All the forms, except
those of the prose saga and its kinsman the German verse folk-epic,
are found first in French. Whosoever knows the French literature of
the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, knows not merely the best
literature in form, and all but the best in matter, of the time, but
that which all the time was imitating, or shortly about to imitate,
both in form and matter.

Again, England presents during this time, though no great English work
written "in the English tongue for English men," yet the spectacle,
unique in history, of a language and a literature undergoing a
sea-change from which it was to emerge with incomparably greater
beauty and strength than it had before, and in condition to vie
with - some would say to outstrip - all actual or possible rivals.
German, if not quite supreme in any way, gives an interesting and
fairly representative example of a chapter of national literary
history, less brilliant and original in performance than the French,
less momentous and unique in promise than the English, but more normal
than either, and furnishing in the epics, of which the _Nibelungenlied_
and _Kudrun_ are the chief examples, and in the best work of the
Minnesingers, things not only of historical but of intrinsic value in
all but the highest degree.

Provençal and Icelandic literature at this time are both of them of
far greater intrinsic interest than English, if not than German, and
they are infinitely more original. But it so happens that the
prominent qualities of form in the first, of matter and spirit in the
second, though intense and delightful, are not very complicated,
various, or wide-ranging. If monotony were not by association a
question-begging word, it might be applied with much justice to both:
and it is consequently not necessary to have read every Icelandic saga
in the original, every Provençal lyric with a strictly philological
competence, in order to appreciate the literary value of the
contributions which these two charming isolations made to European
history.

Yet again, the production of Spain during this time is of the
smallest, containing, perhaps, nothing save the _Poem of the Cid_,
which is at once certain in point of time and distinguished in point
of merit; while that of Italy is not merely dependent to a great
extent on Provençal, but can be better handled in connection with
Dante, who falls to the province of the writer of the next volume. The
Celtic tongues were either past or not come to their chief
performance; and it so happens that, by the confession of the most
ardent Celticists who speak as scholars, no Welsh or Irish _texts_
affecting the capital question of the Arthurian legends can be
certainly attributed to the twelfth or early thirteenth centuries. It
seemed to me, therefore, that I might, without presumption, undertake
the volume. Of the execution as apart from the undertaking others must
judge. I will only mention (to show that the book is not a mere
compilation) that the chapter on the Arthurian Romances summarises,
for the first time in print, the result of twenty years' independent
study of the subject, and that the views on prosody given in chapter
v. are not borrowed from any one.

I have dwelt on this less as a matter of personal explanation, which
is generally superfluous to friends and never disarms foes, than in
order to explain and illustrate the principle of the Series. All its
volumes have been or will be allotted on the same principle - that of
occasionally postponing or antedating detailed attention to the
literary production of countries which were not at the moment of the
first consequence, while giving greater prominence to those that were:
but at the same time never losing sight of the _general_ literary
drift of the whole of Europe during the whole period in each case. It
is to guard against such loss of sight that the plan of committing
each period to a single writer, instead of strapping together bundles
of independent essays by specialists, has been adopted. For a survey
of each time is what is aimed at, and a survey is not to be
satisfactorily made but by one pair of eyes. As the individual study
of different literatures deepens and widens, these surveys may be more
and more difficult: they may have to be made more and more "by
allowance." But they are also more and more useful, not to say more
and more necessary, lest a deeper and wider ignorance should accompany
the deeper and wider knowledge.

The dangers of this ignorance will hardly be denied, and it would be
invidious to produce examples of them from writings of the present
day. But there can be nothing ungenerous in referring - _honoris_, not
_invidiæ causa_ - to one of the very best literary histories of this or
any century, Mr Ticknor's _Spanish Literature_. There was perhaps no
man of his time who was more widely read, or who used his reading with
a steadier industry and a better judgment, than Mr Ticknor. Yet the
remarks on assonance, and on long mono-rhymed or single-assonanced
tirades, in his note on Berceo (_History of Spanish Literature_, vol.
i. p. 27), show almost entire ignorance of the whole prosody of the
_chansons de geste_, which give such an indispensable light in
reference to the subject, and which, even at the time of his first
edition (1849), if not quite so well known as they are to-day,
existed in print in fair numbers, and had been repeatedly handled by
scholars. It is against such mishaps as this that we are here doing
our best to supply a guard.[1]

[Footnote 1: One of the most difficult points to decide concerned the
allowance of notes, bibliographical or other. It seemed, on the whole,
better not to overload such a Series as this with them; but an attempt
has been made to supply the reader, who desires to carry his studies
further, with references to the best editions of the principal texts
and the best monographs on the subjects of the different chapters. I
have scarcely in these notes mentioned a single book that I have not
myself used; but I have not mentioned a tithe of those that I have
used.]




CONTENTS.


CHAPTER I.

THE FUNCTION OF LATIN.

Reasons for not noticing the bulk of mediæval Latin literature.
Excepted divisions. Comic Latin literature. Examples of its verbal
influence. The value of burlesque. Hymns. The _Dies Iræ_. The rhythm
of Bernard. Literary perfection of the Hymns. Scholastic Philosophy.
Its influence on phrase and method. The great Scholastics 1


CHAPTER II.

CHANSONS DE GESTE.

European literature in 1100. Late discovery of the _chansons_. Their
age and history. Their distinguishing character. Mistakes about them.
Their isolation and origin. Their metrical form. Their scheme of
matter. The character of Charlemagne. Other characters and
characteristics. Realist quality. Volume and age of the _chansons_.
Twelfth century. Thirteenth century. Fourteenth, and later. _Chansons_
in print. Language: _oc_ and _oïl_. Italian. Diffusion of the
_chansons_. Their authorship and publication. Their performance.
Hearing, not reading, the object. Effect on prosody. The _jongleurs_.
_Jongleresses_, &c. Singularity of the _chansons_. Their charm.
Peculiarity of the _geste_ system. Instances. Summary of the _geste_
of William of Orange. And first of the _Couronnement Loys_. Comments
on the _Couronnement_. William of Orange. The earlier poems of the
cycle. The _Charroi de Nîmes_. The _Prise d'Orange_. The story of
Vivien. _Aliscans._ The end of the story. Renouart. Some other
_chansons_. Final remarks on them 22


CHAPTER III.

THE MATTER OF BRITAIN.

Attractions of the Arthurian Legend. Discussions on their sources. The
personality of Arthur. The four witnesses. Their testimony. The
version of Geoffrey. Its _lacunæ_. How the Legend grew. Wace. Layamon.
The Romances proper. Walter Map. Robert de Borron. Chrestien de
Troyes. Prose or verse first? A Latin Graal-book. The Mabinogion. The
Legend itself. The story of Joseph of Arimathea. Merlin. Lancelot. The
Legend becomes dramatic. Stories of Gawain and other knights. Sir
Tristram. His story almost certainly Celtic. Sir Lancelot. The minor
knights. Arthur. Guinevere. The Graal. How it perfects the story.
Nature of this perfection. No sequel possible. Latin episodes. The
Legend as a whole. The theories of its origin. Celtic. French.
English. Literary. The Celtic theory. The French claims. The theory of
general literary growth. The English or Anglo-Norman pretensions.
Attempted hypothesis 86


CHAPTER IV.

ANTIQUITY IN ROMANCE.

Oddity of the Classical Romance. Its importance. The Troy story. The
Alexandreid. Callisthenes. Latin versions. Their story. Its
developments. Alberic of Besançon. The decasyllabic poem. The great
_Roman d'Alixandre_. Form, &c. Continuations. _King Alexander._
Characteristics. The Tale of Troy. Dictys and Dares. The Dares story.
Its absurdity. Its capabilities. Troilus and Briseida. The _Roman de
Troie_. The phases of Cressid. The _Historia Trojana_. Meaning of the
classical romance 148


CHAPTER V.

THE MAKING OF ENGLISH AND THE SETTLEMENT OF EUROPEAN PROSODY.

Special interest of Early Middle English. Decay of Anglo-Saxon. Early
Middle English Literature. Scantiness of its constituents. Layamon.
The form of the _Brut_. Its substance. The _Ormulum_: Its metre, its
spelling. The _Ancren Riwle_. The _Owl and the Nightingale_. Proverbs.
Robert of Gloucester. Romances. _Havelok the Dane._ _King Horn._ The
prosody of the modern languages. Historical retrospect. Anglo-Saxon
prosody. Romance prosody. English prosody. The later alliteration. The
new verse. Rhyme and syllabic equivalence. Accent and quantity. The
gain of form. The "accent" theory. Initial fallacies, and final
perversities thereof 187


CHAPTER VI.

MIDDLE HIGH GERMAN POETRY.

Position of Germany. Merit of its poetry. Folk-epics: The
_Nibelungenlied_. The _Volsunga saga_. The German version. Metres.
Rhyme and language. _Kudrun._ Shorter national epics. Literary poetry.
Its four chief masters. Excellence, both natural and acquired, of
German verse. Originality of its adaptation. The Pioneers: Heinrich
von Veldeke. Gottfried of Strasburg. Hartmann von Aue. _Erec der
Wanderære_ and _Iwein_. Lyrics. The "booklets." _Der Arme Heinrich._
Wolfram von Eschenbach. _Titurel._ _Willehalm._ _Parzival._ Walther
von der Vogelweide. Personality of the poets. The Minnesingers
generally 225


CHAPTER VII.

THE 'FOX,' THE 'ROSE,' AND THE MINOR CONTRIBUTIONS OF FRANCE.

The predominance of France. The rise of Allegory. Lyric. The _Romance_
and the _Pastourelle_. The _Fabliaux_. Their origin. Their licence.
Their wit. Definition and subjects. Effect of the _fabliaux_ on
language. And on narrative. Conditions of _fabliau_-writing. The
appearance of irony. Fables proper. _Reynard the Fox._ Order of texts.
Place of origin. The French form. Its complications. Unity of spirit.
The Rise of Allegory. The satire of _Renart_. The Fox himself. His
circle. The burial of Renart. The _Romance of the Rose_. William of
Lorris and Jean de Meung. The first part. Its capital value. The
rose-garden. "Danger." "Reason." "Shame" and "Scandal." The later
poem. "False-Seeming." Contrast of the parts. Value of both, and charm
of the first. Marie de France and Ruteboeuf. Drama. Adam de la
Halle. _Robin et Marion._ The _Jeu de la Feuillie_. Comparison of
them. Early French prose. Laws and sermons. Villehardouin. William of
Tyre. Joinville. Fiction. _Aucassin et Nicolette_ 265


CHAPTER VIII.

ICELANDIC AND PROVENÇAL.

Resemblances. Contrasts. Icelandic literature of this time mainly
prose. Difficulties with it. The Saga. Its insularity of manner. Of
scenery and character. Fact and fiction in the sagas. Classes and
authorship of them. The five greater sagas. _Njala._ _Laxdæla._
_Eyrbyggja._ _Egla._ _Grettla._ Its critics. Merits of it. The parting
of Asdis and her sons. Great passages of the sagas. Style. Provençal
mainly lyric. Origin of this lyric. Forms. Many men, one mind. Example
of rhyme-schemes. Provençal poetry not great. But extraordinarily
pedagogic. Though not directly on English. Some troubadours. Criticism
of Provençal 333


CHAPTER IX.

THE LITERATURE OF THE PENINSULAS.

Limitations of this chapter. Late Greek romance. Its difficulties as a
subject. Anna Comnena, &c. _Hysminias and Hysmine._ Its style. Its
story. Its handling. Its "decadence." Lateness of Italian. The
"Saracen" theory. The "folk-song" theory. Ciullo d'Alcamo. Heavy debt
to France. Yet form and spirit both original. Love-lyric in different
European countries. Position of Spanish. Catalan-Provençal.
Galician-Portuguese. Castilian. Ballads? The _Poema del Cid_. A
Spanish _chanson de geste_. In scheme and spirit. Difficulties of its
prosody. Ballad-metre theory. Irregularity of line. Other poems.
Apollonius and Mary of Egypt. Berceo. Alfonso el Sabio 375


CHAPTER X.

CONCLUSION 412


INDEX 427




THE FLOURISHING OF ROMANCE

AND THE

RISE OF ALLEGORY.




CHAPTER I.

THE FUNCTION OF LATIN.

REASONS FOR NOT NOTICING THE BULK OF MEDIÆVAL LATIN
LITERATURE. EXCEPTED DIVISIONS. COMIC LATIN LITERATURE.
EXAMPLES OF ITS VERBAL INFLUENCE. THE VALUE OF BURLESQUE.
HYMNS. THE "DIES IRÆ." THE RHYTHM OF BERNARD. LITERARY
PERFECTION OF THE HYMNS. SCHOLASTIC PHILOSOPHY. ITS
INFLUENCE ON PHRASE AND METHOD. THE GREAT SCHOLASTICS.


[Sidenote: _Reasons for not noticing the bulk of mediæval Latin
literature._]

This series is intended to survey and illustrate the development of
the vernacular literatures of mediæval and Europe; and for that
purpose it is unnecessary to busy ourselves with more than a part of
the Latin writing which, in a steadily decreasing but - until the end
of the last century - an always considerable proportion, served as the
vehicle of literary expression. But with a part of it we are as
necessarily concerned as we are necessarily compelled to decline the
whole. For not only was Latin for centuries the universal means of
communication between educated men of different languages, the medium
through which such men received their education, the court-language,
so to speak, of religion, and the vehicle of all the literature of
knowledge which did not directly stoop to the comprehension of the
unlearned; but it was indirectly as well as directly, unconsciously as
well as consciously, a schoolmaster to bring the vernacular languages
to literary accomplishment. They could not have helped imitating it,
if they would; and they did not think of avoiding imitation of it, if
they could. It modified, to a very large extent, their grammar; it
influenced, to an extent almost impossible to overestimate, the
prosody of their finished literature; it supplied their vocabulary; it
furnished models for all their first conscious literary efforts of the
more deliberate kind, and it conditioned those which were more or less
spontaneous.

But, even if we had room, it would profit us little to busy ourselves
with diplomatic Latin or with the Latin of chronicles, with the Latin
of such scientific treatises as were written or with the Latin of
theology. All these except, for obvious reasons, the first, tended
away from Latin into the vernaculars as time went on, and were but of
lesser literary moment, even while they continued to be written in
Latin. Nor in _belles lettres_ proper were such serious performances
as continued to be written well into our period of capital
importance. Such a book, for instance, as the well-known _Trojan War_
of Joseph of Exeter,[2] though it really deserves much of the praise
which it used to receive,[3] can never be anything much better than a
large prize poem, such as those which still receive and sometimes
deserve the medals and the gift-books of schools and universities.
Every now and then a man of irrepressible literary talent, having no
vernacular or no public in the vernacular ready to his hand, will
write in Latin a book like the _De Nugis Curialium_,[4] which is good
literature though bad Latin. But on the whole it is a fatal law of
such things that the better the Latin the worse must the literature
be.

[Footnote 2: Included with Dictys and Dares in a volume of Valpy's
Delphin Classics.]

[Footnote 3: Cf. Warton, _History of English Poetry_. Ed. Hazlitt, i.
226-292.]

[Footnote 4: Gualteri Mapes, _De Nugis Curialium Distinctiones
Quinque_. Ed. T. Wright: Camden Society, 1850.]

[Sidenote: _Excepted divisions._]

We may, however, with advantage select three divisions of the Latin
literature of our section of the Middle Ages, which have in all cases
no small literary importance and interest, and in some not a little
literary achievement. And these are the comic and burlesque Latin
writings, especially in verse; the Hymns; and the great body of
philosophical writing which goes by the general title of Scholastic
Philosophy, and which was at its palmiest time in the later portion of
our own special period.

[Sidenote: _Comic Latin literature._]

It may not be absolutely obvious, but it does not require much thought
to discover, why the comic and burlesque Latin writing, especially in
verse, of the earlier Middle Ages holds such a position. But if we
compare such things as the _Carmina Burana_, or as the Goliardic poems
attributed to or connected with Walter Map,[5] with the early
_fabliaux_, we shall perceive that while the latter, excellently
written as they sometimes are, depend for their comedy chiefly on
matter and incident, not indulging much in play on words or subtle
adjustment of phrase and cadence, the reverse is the case with the
former. A language must have reached some considerable pitch of
development, must have been used for a great length of time seriously,
and on a large variety of serious subjects, before it is possible for
anything short of supreme genius to use it well for comic purposes.
Much indeed of this comic use turns on the existence and degradation
of recognised serious writing. There was little or no opportunity for
any such use or misuse in the infant vernaculars; there was abundant
opportunity in literary Latin. Accordingly we find, and should expect
to find, very early parodies of the offices and documents of the
Church, - things not unnaturally shocking to piety, but not perhaps to
be justly set down to any profane, much less to any specifically
blasphemous, intention. When the quarrel arose between Reformers and
"Papists," intentional ribaldry no doubt began. But such a thing as,
for example, the "Missa de Potatoribus"[6] is much more significant of
an unquestioning familiarity than of deliberate insult. It is an
instance of the same bent of the human mind which has made very
learned and conscientious lawyers burlesque law, and which induces
schoolboys and undergraduates to parody the classics, not at all
because they hate them, but because they are their most familiar
literature.

[Footnote 5: _Carmina Burana_, Stuttgart, 1847; _Political Songs of
England_ (1839), and _Latin Poems attributed to Walter Mapes_ (1841),
both edited for the Camden Society by T. Wright.]



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