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by which the states of Gillibert were divided between them*. The disastrous consequences which might have been expected to follow such a partition, were not felt for nearly a century; and it was during this century that the poetry of the Troubadours grew and flourished in the most beautiful luxuriance. Dissensions might arise between the rival princes; the Counts of Barcelona were obliged to defend their possessions against the claims of their kinsmen, the Counts des Baux; but such petty internal wars kept alive the ardour of the military spirit, without materially affecting the prosperity of the country; and the fatal weakness which resulted from the want of union and solidity, was scarcely perceived, till the states of southern France became the prey of more powerful external enemies.
The great Counts of Provence
nd Toulouse were far from the only potentates of this rich and flourishing country. The Counts of Poitiers, who bore also the title of Dukes of Aquitaine, rivalled them in power and an almost innumerable multitude of petty sovereigns, under various names, exercised their jurisdiction within the limits of a province, a city, or even a single castle; and waged wars, and formed alliances, and held their courts, in all the plenitude of supreme power. Among these princely nobles existed a perpetual spirit of emulation, which took the form not of national but of personal rivalry, and made them strive to outshine each other, not only in deeds of arms and in every chivalrous accomplishment, but in the hospitality and splendour of their courts, in the number and equipment of their retainers, and especially in the protection which they afforded to the professors of the gaye science.
We have a singular testimony to the superior luxury and refinement of the nobles and knights of the countries of the Langue d'Oc, at a comparatively early period. Robert, the son of Hugh Capet, married Constance d'Aquitaine (about the year 1000,) and the retinue, whom the queen attracted to the court of France, are. described by an ancient Chronicler as the vainest and lightest of men. He inveighs bitterly against the shameful and disorderly luxury of their dress, and even of their arms and the equipment of their horses. He denounces their want of manliness in shaving
* Sismondi, Hist. des Français, T. v. p. 170. There is some confusion with respect to the claims of the various competitors for the sovereignty of Provence. Sismondi mentions expressly that Gillibert left but two daughters; Douce married Raymond-Berenger; and, in the History of France, he relates the marriage of her sister Stéphanie with the Comte des Baux (T. v. p. 116,) while, in the History of the Literature of the South of Europe, he says that her sister, whom he calls Faydide, married Alphonse, Count of Toulouse, (T. i. p. 84.) It is evident, at least, that the three houses were connected by marriage with the old house of Provence.
and dressing their hair; and he represents this attention to external appearance as accompanied by a corresponding frivolity and effeminacy of manners. He complains grievously that the contagion of this example infected the French and Burgundian nobles; and he laments over the ill success of holy men, who remonstrated in vain against this scandal of the court, and could scarcely restrain persons of lower rank from falling into the same disorders by assuring them that these new fashions were the livery of the devil *.
This magnificence and luxury of the baronial courts could not be supported without the resources of commerce; and from an early time no inconsiderable intercourse had been maintained by the maritime towns of Provence, not only with Italy and the Moorish kingdoms of Spain, but even with Africa and the Levant. From these sources were procured the finely-tempered steel which formed the arms of the Provençal knights, and the gorgeous silks which gratified the vanity of the Provençal ladies. A spirit of activity and enterprise was thus diffused among the lower orders. They felt that they became more and more necessary to their superiors, in consequence of the new wants which were continually created by the progress of civilization and refinement. Their im>portance was augmented by the acquisition of wealth; and they were enabled to vindicate some portion of liberty from the oppression of feudal sovereignty. The inhabitants of the towns, the members of rich and flourishing communities, felt the weight which they derived from their union, and were raised far above the abject condition to which the slaves of the soil had been condemned in the days of barbarism. The spirit of freedom which was thus generated, grew so rapidly and so vigorously, that before the middle of the thirteenth century almost every town had gradually extorted from its feudal lord privileges which amounted nearly to a recognition of independencef: and these municipalities would apparently have risen into states, which might have rivalled the commercial republics of Italy, if they had not been involved in the common ruin which stopped at once the developement of social and individual energy in their devoted country. At all events, we perceive here another active element in the public mind, which contributed to the national effervescence of sentiment and imagination in the poetry of the Troubadours.
The growth of the towns had tended still more directly to the advancement of the Provençal poetry, by enriching and polishing the Langue Romaine: and the internal circulation, of which they
* See Sismondi, Hist. des Français, T. iv. p. 137, and Raynouard, Choix des Poésies des Troubadours, T. ii. p. 84.
† See Sismondi, Hist. des Français, T. iv. pp. 256, 484. T. v. p. 130. T. vi. p. 159.
were the organs, had made it one national language, instead of suffering it to remain broken up into a multitude of village dialects. To the external intercourse which was established immediately or mediately with the Saracens, is to be attributed not only much of the refinement and elegance which distinguished the people of the South of France, but much of the spirit and the form of their poetry.
To us, who derive our notions of the countries of Islam from their present state, and who from our greater familiarity with the Turks, the least intellectual of all the nations that have professed the religion of Mahomet, are apt to consider them as a fair specimen of the whole, it may seem strange to refer to the Arabs any share in the origin of the civilization and literature of modern Europe. Yet at the period of which we are speaking, in wealth and luxury, and in every species of elegance and refinement, in learning and science, and in imagination and imaginative sensibility, the Europeans were very far inferior to the Saracens. The empire of the Khalifs had extended over the richest and most voluptuous regions of the earth. The Arabs, in all the vigour of a youthful nation, when they were wearied with conquest, had satiated themselves with the luxuries addressed merely to the senses; and still in quest of fresh excitement, turned to the pursuit of intellectual pleasures, with all the enthusiasm which had hitherto found its aliment and its exercise in religion, in ambition, and in the enjoy ment of sensual magnificence. Poetry especially became a passion of the nation; and from the exquisite sensibility of these natives of a milder climate and a purer air, it was generally the expression of strong individual feeling, and was inseparably blended with the sentiment of harmony. The same tastes were gradually communicated to those nations of Europe who were placed most nearly in contact, or possessed the greatest facility of intercourse with the people of the East; and the refinements of civilization, and the luxuries of the intellect, were estimated and enjoyed in Spain, and Sicily, and Provence, before they were known in countries more remote. The energies of the human mind were now beginning to develope themselves in every direction. The spirit of poetry was generated, and made rapid progress in circumstances so favourable to its growth. But it retained a character which marked its origin. The halls of the castles of Provence resounded with the music which had mingled with the murmurs of fountains in the Moorish palaces; and the same passionate expressions of personal feeling, and the same exquisite perception of harmony, were embodied in the canzos of the Troubadours, and the cassides of the Arabian poets*.
* See Sismondi, Littérature du Midi de l'Europe, T.i., p. 94.
From this sketch of the internal political state of the Provençals, and their intercourse with the people of the East, we shall pass to a review of their manners and social institutions, and of the great public events which influenced their literature; and then proceed to an examination of their poetry, and of the causes of its rapid decline.
(End of Part I.)
THE INCOGNITO; OR, COUNT FITZ-HUM.
[The following Tale is translated from the German of Schulze, a living author of great popularity, not known at all under that name, but under the nom-de-guerre of Frederic Laun. A judicious selection (well translated) from the immense body of his novels, would have a triple claim on public attention: first, as reflecting in a lively way the general aspect of German manners in the domestic life of the middle ranks: secondly, as pretty faithful evidences of the state of German taste amongst the most numerous class of readers; no writer, except Kotzebue perhaps, having dedicated his exertions with more success to the single purpose of meeting the popular taste, and adapting himself to the imme diate demands of the market; thirdly, as possessing considerable intrinsic merit in the lighter department of comic tales. On this point, for our sakes as well as to guard the reader against disappointment from seeking for more than was designed, we shall say all that needs to be said in one sentence; they have just that merit, and they pretend to that merit, neither more nor less, which we look for in a clever dramatic after-piece; the very slightest basis of fable; a few lively or laughable situations; a playful style; and an airy, sketchy mode of catching those common-places in manners or in character which are best suited to a ludicrous display. The novels of Laun are mines of what is called Fun, which in its way is no bad thing. To apply any more elaborate criticism to them, would be " to break a fly upon the wheel."]
THE Town-Council were sitting, and in gloomy silence; alternately they looked at each other, and at the official order (that morning received), which reduced their perquisites and salaries by one half. At length the chief burgomaster rose, turned the mace-bearer out of the room, and bolted the door. That worthy man, however, was not so to be baffled: old experience in acoustics had taught him where to apply his ear with most advantage in cases of the present emergency; and as the debate soon rose from a humming of gentle dissent to the stormy pitch of downright
quarrelling, he found no difficulty in assuaging the pangs of his curiosity. The council, he soon learned, were divided as to the course to be pursued on their common calamity; whether formally to remonstrate or not, at the risk of losing their places; indeed they were divided on every point, except one; and that was, contempt for the political talents of the new prince, who could begin his administration upon a principle so monstrous as that of retrench
At length, in one of the momentary pauses of the hurricane, the council distinguished the sound of two vigorous fists playing with the utmost energy upon the pannels of the door outside. What presumption is this? exclaimed the chairman, immediately leaping up. However, on opening the door, it appeared that the fury of the summons was dictated by no failure in respect, but by absolute necessity: necessity has no law and any more reverential knocking could have had no chance of being audible. The person outside was Mr. Commissioner Pig; and his business was to communicate a despatch of pressing importance which he had that moment received by express.
"First of all, gentlemen," said the pursy Commissioner," allow me to take breath:" and, seating himself, he began to wipe his forehead. Agitated with the fear of some unhappy codicil to the unhappy testament already received, the members gazed anxiously at the open letter which he held in his hand; and the chairman, unable to control his impatience, made a grasp at it: "Permit me, Mr. Pig."-" No!" said Mr. Pig: "it is the posteript only which concerns the council: wait one moment, and I will have the honour of reading it myself." Thereupon he drew out his spectacles; and, adjusting them with provoking coolness, slowly and methodically proceeded to read as follows:-" We open our letter to acquaint you with a piece of news which has just come to our knowledge, and which it will be important for your town to learn as soon as possible. His Serene Highness has resolved on visiting the remoter provinces of his new dominions immediately: he means to preserve the strictest incognito; and we understand will travel under the name of Count Fitz-Hum, and will be attended only by one gentleman of the bed-chamber; viz., Mr. Von Hoax. The carriage he will use on this occasion is a plain landau, the body painted dark blue: and for his Highness in particular, you will easily distinguish him by his superb whiskers. Of course we need scarcely suggest to you, that, if the principal hotel of your town should not be in comme-il-faut order, it will be proper to meet the illustrious traveller on his entrance with an offer of better accommodations in one of the best private mansions, amongst which your own is reputed to stand foremost. Your town is to have the honour of his first visit; and