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dead. Henceforward he exists to society by some shining trait of beauty or utility which he had; and, borrowing his proportions from the one fine feature, we finish the portrait symmetrically. That feature is the small real star that gleams out of the dark vortex of the ages through the madness of rioting fancy and the whirlwind-chaos of images, expanding, according to the glass it shines through, into wondrous thousand-fold form and color.

Such is the foundation of fiction in general; originating as a whole from no single point as to country or to time, but in part springing from common organic causes, and in part travelling from region to region, on airy wing scattering the seeds of its wild flowers imperceptibly over the world, from the gorgeous East to the virgin West and the frozen North. Its radical types, much as the root-words of speech, are amplified and compounded to meet the demands of new occasions, transferred from one subject to another, and embellished according to the taste, iemper, and resources of the artist. Thus, the Macedonian conqueror and his contemporaries are accoutred in the garb of feudalism, and his wars transformed into chivalrous adventures. The Naiads of Greece differ only in name from the Nixen of Germany, and the Norwegian Thor is brother to Olympian Jove. The Persian Goblet of the Sun reappears as the horn of the Celtic Bran, producing whatever liquor is called for; or as the Saint Graal, of the Round Table,-- for which is reserved the 'Seat Perilous,'— the miraculous cup, the giver of sumptuous banquets, the healer of maladies, to the pure the interpreter of the will of Heaven. The magic ship of Odin, which could be folded like a handkerchief, becomes, under the play of Homeric fancy, selfdirecting and prophetic:

*So shalt thou instant reach the realm assign'd,
In wondrous ships, self-moved, instinct with mind:
Yo helm secures their course, no pilot guides;
Like men intelligent, they plough the tides,
Conscious of every coast and every bay

That lies beneath the sun's alluring ray.' The story of Jack and Jill is a venerable one in Icelandic mythology, and Jack and the Beanstalk has found eager listeners in Africa, as in every quarter of Europe. All the machinery of the Iliad is reproduced in the legend of Charlemagne, and if in his case myth were not controlled and rectified by history, he would

be for us, under his adventitious ornaments, as unreal as Agamemnon. Thus the popular literature of the Middle Ages, indigenous and imported, fostered by a like credulity, vision, and mystery, was invested with the same tissue of marvels,- personified and supernatural agents, heroes, elves, fairies, dwarfs, giants, enchanters, spells, charms, and amulets. Written in the Romance dialects, principally in French and Italian- tales of dimly remembered kings, of marvellous agency and gallant daring, are hence designated as Romances; and differ from the similar productions of antiquity chiefly in a change of names and places, with an admixture of the refinement and pageantry of feudal religion and manners.

Its themes. During a long period, saintly legends, in which self-torture was the chief measure of excellence, formed the guiding ideals of Christendom; and the first romances were little more than legends of devotion, containing the pilgrimage of an old warrior. As chivalry grew in splendor and fascination, martial exploits were added to his youth, his religious shaded into the heroic character, and the penitent was lost in the knight-errant. Penance, which was the governing image of the one, gradually became the remote sequel of the other, till it was almost an estah. lished rule of romance for the knight to end his days in a hermitage. By the reactionary influence of worship, valor was consecrated, and a Christian soul gave tone and coloring to the whole body of romantic fiction. Thus the Holy Graal, in the midst of the bright animal life of the Arthur legends, became a type of the mystery of Godliness. Whatever impure man sat in the Seat Perilous the earth swallowed. When men became sinful, it, visible only to pure eyes, disappeared; and in the quest for it, only the spotless Sir Galahad succeeded.

A general homage to the fair, independent of personal attachment, forms a distinguishing and most important element of mediæval romance. This also, in its best development, was the offspring of the Christian dispensation. True, as we have seen, its rudiments already existed in the deference paid to the female sex by the Teutons, who believed some divine quality to be inherent in their women. Thus Tacitus relates that Velleda, a German

ophetess, held frequent conferences with the Roman generals; and on some occasions, on account of the sacredness of her


was placed at a great distance on a high tower, whence, as an oracle, she conveyed her answers by a chosen messenger. But that rapturous adoration of woman which produced the spirit of gallantry was the inevitable result of the new ideal introduced by Christianity, which, over the qualities of strength, courage, selfreliance, and patriotism, enthroned the gentler virtues of meekness, patience, humility, faith, and love. This was no other than change from a type essentially masculine to one which was essentially feminine. The Virgin Mary was exalted by the Church to a central figure of devotion, and in her elevation, woman, from being associated with ideas of degradation and of sensuality, rose into a new sphere, and became the object of a reverential regard unknown to the proudest civilizations of the past. Love was idealized. The moral charm of female excellence was felt. Into a harsh and benighted age were infused a conception of gentleness and of purity, a sense of delicacy and elegance, around which clustered all that was best in Europe. Chivalry took systematic shape as the adventurous service of God and womankind. The Crusades were its first outgrowth in action, and love-poetry its first symmetrical expression in art. Valor was exerted to protect the innocent from violence, to succor the distressed, to release captive beauty from embattled walls. The knight, fond dreamer whom the dream forever fled, turned him to far lands and conflicts, to merit and win the favor of his fair adored, whose point of honor it was to be chaste and inaccessible.'

But loving chivalry for its nobleness, let us not be blind to its folly and excess. To a bitter winter's day it gave the tint of amethyst. Over the darkness it threw a cheering light. Its incentives, exalted and sublime as they were, too often in this unripe civilization made its possessors implacable and infuriate. The feudal hero did less than he imagined. His profession of courtesy and courage was not infrequently the brilliant disguise that concealed tyranny and rapine. A reduction and softeningdown of a rough and lawless period, it often rose to fanaticism or

I This respectful enthusiasm for woman forms one of the most remarkable facts in the intellectual development of Europe. Warton derives it from Teutonic manners; Hallam, from the secular institutions of Rome and the guy idleness of the nobility. A profounder philosophy must have shown them that more intinential than any of these canses, or all combined, were the prominence given by Christianity to the female virtues, woman's conspicuous posi in the conversion of the Empire hy reason of th better adaptation of her genius to piety, the elevation of the Virgin, and ihe consequent change from an ideal type especially masculine to one especially feminine.

sunk into gross impurity. From the middle of the twelfth until the end of the fourteenth century, it had its Courts of Love, which, sanctioning much that the courts of law forbade, instituted obligations antagonistic to the duties of domestic life. Here loveverses were sung, love-causes were heard, and judgments rendered with formal citations of precedents. They had a code, said to have been established by the king of love, and found by a Breton cavalier and lover in Arthur's court, tied to the foot of a falcon. Its first rule was that marriage does not excuse from love, and the ladies' courts enacted that love and marriage are things wholly asunder. Thus, A seeks from a lady permission to love, and is told that she already has a lover, B, but willingly will take A when B is lost. She marries B, and immediately, in fulfilment of promise, A claims his right to be her lover. She wishes to withdraw, but is sued, and the court decides for the plaintiff, saying:

"We do not venture to contradict the decision of the Countess of Champagne, who, by a solemn judgment, has pronounced that true love cannot exist between those who

are married to each other.' i

The central figures of romance were Arthur' and the Knights of the Round Table, Charlemagne and his Peers, the heroes of the Crusades, and the Anglo-Danish Cycle, the most famous of which were, Havelock, King Horn, and Guy of Warwick.

A series of fictions destined to operate powerfully on the general body of our old poetry, was a Latin compilation entitled Gesta Romanorum, or Deeds of the Romans, whose stories, saintly, chivalrous, or allegorical, of home-growth or transplanted from the East, were often used by the clergy to rouse the indifference and relieve the languor of their rude and simple hearers. It is a characterist expression of the manners and sentiments of the time. Thus,

Chap. LXIII. -The garden of Vespasian's daughter. All her lovers are obliged to enter this garden before they can obtain her love, but none returns alive. The garden is haunted by a lion, and has only one entrance which divides into so many windings

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· The Love Courts, so far from being a jest or idle amusement, as Morley understanda them, were one of the moral and social phenomena of the time, nprmging from the prolonged barbarity of the feudal marriage-tie. The lady love, almost always of high rank, frequently an heiress in her own right, was sure to be disposed of for prudential or political reasons before she had any choice in the matter; and the sufferings to which women were exposed as wives, explain to a certain extent the adoration which they cracted and obtained as the ladies of the chevaliers.

2 Sep Tennyson's Idyls of the King, in which these characters are splendidly por. traved

Richard (reur de Lion, for example, one of the most celebrated.
* See Sir Walter Scott.

that it never can be found again. At length, she furnishes a knight with a ball or clue of thread, and teaches him how to foil the lion. Having achieved this adventure, he marries the lady.'

*Chap. LXVI.-A knight offers to recover a lady's inheritance, which had been seized by a tyrant, on condition, that if he is slain, she shall always keep his bloody armour hanging in her chamber. He regains her property, although he dies in the attempt; and as often as she was afterwards sued for in marriage, before she gave an answer, she returned to her chamber, and contemplating with tears her deliverer's bloody armour, resolutely rejected every solicitation.'

"Chap. CIX.-[Best illustrated by a like story of the Boy, in Boccaccio's Decameron.) A king had an only son. As soon as he was born, the physicians declared that if he was allowed to see the sun or any fire before he arrived at the age of twelve years, he would be blind. The king commanded an apartment to be hewed within a rock, into which no light could enter; and here he shut up the boy, totally in the dark, yet with proper atiendants, for twelve years. At the end of which time, he brought him abroad from his gloomy chamber, and placed in his view men, women, gold, precious stones, rich garments, chariots of exquisite workmanship drawn by horses with golden bridles, heaps of purple tapestry, armed knights on horseback, oxen and sheep. These were all distinctly pointed out to the youth: but being most pleased with the women, he desired to know by what name they were called. An esquire of the king jocosely told him that they were devils who catch men. Being brought to the king, he was asked which he liked best of all the fine things he had seen. He replied, “The devils who catch men.''

Chap. CXX.-King Darius's legacy to his three sons. To the eldest he bequeaths all his paternal inheritance: to the second, all that he had acquired by conquest: and to the third, a ring and necklace, both of gold, and a rich cloth. All the three last gifts were endued with magical virtues. Whoever wore the ring on his finger, gained the love or favor of all whom he desired to please. Whoever hung the necklace over his breast, obtained all his heart conld desire. Whoever sate down on the cloth, could be instantly transported to any part of the world which he chose.' Not unlike the lighter stories of the Gesta were the fabliaux, short familiar pictures of society, keyed to minor occasions, usually satirical, and levelling their wit most frequently at the ladies.

Its form.—The versification of Latin, it is well known, was based upon syllabic quantity, which acknowledged among versesounds but two possible time-values — the long and the short, of which the former was strictly to the latter as two to one. The ratio, moreover, was fired, so that a long syllable was always long, and a short one always short. The bar or foot was signalized by the rhythmic accent; as —

Árma virúmque canó, Trojáe quí prímus ab óris :' but this was scarcely the accentuation of prose or familiar utterance,

- a difference which every one may see illustrated in Shakespeare, if first the passage be supposed to conform to the typie scheme. Thus

• This my mean task
Would be as heavy to me as odious; but
The mistress which I serve quickens what's dead.'

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