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amply rewarding those clerks who sang well. Her generosity becoming universally known, crowds of scholars, equally famed for verse and singing, came over y and happy did he account himself who could sooth the ears of the queen by the novelty of hissong.,, In the present day the picture of a queen amusing herself by listening to the songs of wandering minstrels, and seeking eagerly after the simple gratification of a new lay, may appear homely indeed; but to those who know how far more impressive is oral delivery than any form of printing or writing, —how the living, breathing words come home to the feelings with an emphasis and potency unknown to the pen or to letter-press—they will feel that Queen Maude, as surrounded by her attendant maidens she sate within her splendid palace listening with untired delight to the long tale or wire-drawn allegory, experienced more intense gratification than does the modern patroness of letters, as she listlessly turns over the page "coleur de rose" graced with the most delicate specimens of fashionable penmanship. '4It is the first and natural privilege of oral delivery" (I gladly press into service the excellent remarks of a late admirable female writer,* when mentioning the powerful effects produced by a wandering improvisatore,) " to lay a stronger hold on the memory than manuscript or printed poems. How greatly have the retentive faculties of nations, as well as individuals, declined, since the invention of printing; and how much is it to be feared that the increasing mass of printed works will even
* The Author of" Rome in the 19th Century:
tually sacrifice the end to the means, and crush under its weight the very learning it was intended to assist and preserve."
These remarks naturally lead our attention to that very interesting subject, minstrelsy. Among all the nations of Scandinavian origin, the wandering poet who sang the lays he had himself composed in the courts of the great, and in the public assemblies of the people, was received with an admiring homage yielded to no other class of men. He was an everwelcome guest in the courts of princes; and, in the words of that wandering bard whose curious song has been handed down to us through twelve centuries, could sing:
"Weary and long has been my way;
And the largess which he received well shewed the estimation in which he was held; for mantles, armour, palfreys, even that ornament exclusively belonging to men of noble birth, "bracelets of the good red gold," were the rewards of successful minstrelsy.
Among the Saxon monarchs, this order of men received liberal patronage; and among the remains of our Saxon literature, many poems are to be found which were sung by the wandering minstrel. Among the dukes of Normandy, too, that love of song, an
* Vide " Song of the Traveller," in the late Mr. Conybeare's interesting " Illustrations of Saxon Poetry."
inheritance no less than that martial and enterprizing spirit bequeathed to them by their fathers, the indomitable Vikingr always found an abode. Duke Richard the First greatly patronized jongleurs and minstrels, and is said to have composed poems himself; while in succeeding years, among many now forgotten names, we meet with Thibaut de Vernon, who translated some of the lives of the saints into Norman-French verse; Guillaume de Bapaume, who composed a metrical life of St. William of Orange, (which life having become very popular, and the wandering minstrels having altered many facts, Ordericus Vitalis informs us that he restored the original reading "after a manuscript of Antony of Winchester"); and the anonymous author of a rude but curious work, still extant, which describes the voyage of Charlemagne to Jerusalem, and which may claim to be the first rough model of the romance of chivalry. When Duke William arrived in England, his minstrel came with him—that Taillefer who, on a good steed and bearing the lance and the sword of the vassal of noble birth,
"Before the duke rode, singing loud
Both Gaimar and Wace represent him as having fallen in the battle; and we have no notice of any other minstrel belonging to the court of our first William, except one "Berdic," who is described in
"Le Roman du Ron," par M. Wace.
Domesday book as enjoying an estate in Gloucestershire rent free. From the term used "joculator regis," which seems rather to refer to the Saxon term for minstrel, "gleeman," as well as from his name, it is not improbable that Berdic might have been a Saxon.
That Norman minstrels flocked to the court of Beauclerc, even at this early period, cannot be doubted; although it was to the patronage of his second queen that these trouveres, whose curious poems still remain, exclusively refer. At this period, indeed, the distinction, soon afterwards made between the jongleur and the trouv^re, seems to have existed. Taillefer performed feats of manual dexterity, according to Gaimar, even on the field of Hastings; and it seems probable that of a similar class, uniting the professions of juggler and minstrel, was the celebrated Rahere, who giving up his worldly calling, took the monastic habit during this reign, and founded those two noble establishments, the priory of St. Bartholomew the Great, beside Smithfield, and its adjoining hospital. But Beauclerc himself is believed to have composed a poem in French verse. This is a collection of rules for regulating the conduct, a kind of Chesterfield in rhyme, and which bears the title of " Urbanus in some manuscripts, and of " Le dictie d'Urbain" in others. Except as a literary curiosity, it possesses no merit, and as, unlike most other poems of that early day, the author has not attached his name, but it is first mentioned as Beauclerc's by an anonymous Latin poet of the 12th or 13th century, it may probably have been written by some trouvere at his court.*
But minstrels of other lands doubtless also found a home and a liberal reward in the court of the Saxon queen. The troubadour of Provence, just beginning to bask in the smiles of princes, might sing in more polished numbers that profuse generosity which, in the opinion of Malmsbury, formed the only blemish of Maude's otherwise spotless character. And thither, too, the Breton minstrel might wend, telling those tales of faerie, which in after times made the very name of " Breton lay v famous throughout the land, unconscious that at that very time the bards of Wales were singing the self-same lays in an almost unaltered tongue.
Nor can we believe that,while on foreign minstrels patronage was profusely lavished, no "gleeman," with his store of tales and legends, (tales to which she had doubtless listened in her father's court, and in the quiet abbey of Romsey,) crossed the threshold of the magnificent palace of Westminster, to proffer his song and his homage to the Saxon queen. Scorned and rejected as was the vernacular tongue by the haughty baron and his followers, and by the learned clerk, it still was the language of the nation; nor did Beauclerc himself scorn to use it. The charter of confirmation addressed by him to Anselm's successor is both in the Saxon tongue, and the Saxon character; t and he is represented, by testimony
* Vide Abbe de la Rue's Work on the Tromeres. f Warton, vol. i.