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his zeal when he remembers the tedious, weary method of the Scriptorium, hardly equal to the production of a hundred Bibles in seven thousand days; almost professing, in his first printed work, to have performed a miracle:
I have practiced and learned, at my great charge, to put in order this said book in print after the manner and form as ye may here see; and is not written with pen and ink as other books be, to the end that every man may have Them AT ONCE: for all the books of this story, thus imprinted as ye see, were begun in one day, and also finished in one day.' Not unwilling to keep up the wonder and mystery of the new implement which men did not yet comprehend.'
In 1453, the Crescent advanced upon the city of Constantine, the Greek Empire fell, Greek scholars were driven westward, Greek literature and art were forced into Italy; and Plato lived again, to join the ranks of the reformers. His mild and divine wisdom was at war with the sensuality that had become the scandal of the Church of Rome. “Beware of the Greek,' ran the clerical proverb, “lest you be made a heretic.' Italy that already, in the preceding age, had appropriated whatever Latin letters contained of strength or splendor to arouse the thought and fancy, became the school of Christendom. Thither repaired the men of taste or genius who desired to share the newly-discovered privileges of antiquity; and, quickened by the magnetic touch, returned with a generous ambition to vie with the noble ancients. Thence the stream of civilization was to flow as from its fount. With a fluctuating movement, the life current extended throughout Western Europe, England being among the latest to feel it. When gleams of the revival had long struggled with the scholastic cloud, the Greek language began to be taught at Oxford, and about 1490 they began to read the classics. Thence was to come every science and every elegance.
Language. The emancipation of the national tongue was now confirmed by another monarch. Henry V, in a missive to the craft of brewers, declared:
* The English tongne hath in modern days begun to be honorably enlarged and adorned; and for the better understanding of the people, the common idiom should be exercised in writing.'
I Who first taught to carve the letters on wooden blocks – who imagined to cast the metal with fusil types distinct one from the other,--that is, for Europe, a German romance with the opening pages forever wanting: jealous votaries. The origin of some of the most interesting inventions is lost in obscure traditions. Perhaps the Chinese, who had practiced the art of block-printing for nearly two thousand ye stuffered it to steal away over their great wall.' But the same extraordinary invention may occur at distinct periods. Friar Bacon indicated the ingredients of gunpowder a hundred years before the monk Schwartz, about 1330, actually struck out the fiery explosion.
Faust, Schöffer, Gutenberg, Costar, have their
We further learn that now the Lords and the Commons began to have their proceedings noted down in the mother-tongue.' Both this prince and his father left their wills in the native speech.
Religious diction, always in a more advanced stage of culture than was the secular, made, in the hands of Pecock, considerable progress in vocabulary, and more especially in logical structure, In Fortescue and the Nut-brown Maid, there is not only a diminution of obsolete English, but a modern cast of phrase and arrangement which denotes the commencement of a new era. There was little occasion for decided improvement until new conditions of society should create a necessity for it.
Poetry. - In the mutability of taste, the ancient romances were turned from verse into prose. They had pleased as pictures of manners still existing, but the correspondence was fading, while there was yet no antiquarian interest to preserve their hold on the public mind that had outgrown them. Indeed, after this literature -- prose or metrical — had entranced for three centuries the few who read and the many who listened, its enchantment was on the wane: another taste — where taste existed on the ascendant.
Nevertheless, it was the impoverished romance, imitated the hundredth time, compiled, abridged, even modernized, that chiefly occupied the dull rhymesters of the fifteenth century. After the heavy platitudes of Gower came the didactic puerilities of Occleve, a lawyer, who says truly that Chaucer, whom he strove to copy, would willingly have taught him, but I was dull, and learned little or nothing. When a man's only merit is a fond idolatry of his master, let him be forgotten. Then Lydgate, a monk, a long-winded and third-rate poet, who manufactures verses to order, for the king and his subjects; paraphrases or translates, as others have done with more grace and power, The Fall of Princes, The Destruction of Troy, and The Siege of Thebes. Here and there is a sublime truth, strongly expressed, as in the remarkable lines:
God hath a thousande handes to chastyse,
Or a descriptive gem, with much of the brilliancy of the Italian:
•Tyli at the last amonge the bowes glade
As any golde agayne the sonne shone.' Or a golden couplet, suggestive of the coloring and melody of later times:
"Serpentes and adders, scaled syluer-bright,
Were ouer Rome sene flyeng all the nyght.' There is an accent of originality in The Dance of Death, whose mocking and grotesque figures dance on their tomb to the sound of a fiddle played by a grinning skeleton; or a free vein of humor in The Lack-penny, which opens the street scenery of London:
To London once my stepps I bent,
(began to offer me
POETRY – BALLAD-SINGERS — NUT BROWN MAID.
On bad me by a hood to cover my head,
(rrent And wantying money, I cold not spede.' As for the rest – tedious, languid, halting, desolate. There are others. You
find them by the dozen in Warton or Ritson, a crowd of worthless and forgotten versifiers. We look patiently for something to exalt, to instruct, or to please; find at last in the royal James, of Scotland,
*Be not ouir proude in thy prosperitie,
For as it cummis, sa will it pass away.' and in Dunbar,
What is this life but ane straucht way to deid,
Whilk has a time to pass and nane to dwell?' then we yawn, and go away, oppressed with the surfeit of dreams and abstractions, used up and barren.
As the romances declined, the lyric which sung of the outlaw and the forest, the joys and woes of love, and later of the wild border life, gradually took form. The ballad-singers outlived the troubadours, but their songs, long stored in the memories of the people, reach us only in a late edition of the fifteenth century. After the gloom of the castle and the conventionalism of the court, it is refreshing to find ourselves in the open air, under a blue sky, surrounded by persons who have human hearts in their bosoms. Listen. They are engaged in a battle of the sexes, in which attacks on the fair are parried by their eulogies. One of the heaviest charges is the imputed fickleness of woman,-
• How that it is A labour spent in vayne,
To love them wele.' As between libel and panegyric, you are requested to render a verdict in accordance with the evidence:
Nou I begyn
I pray you, gyre an ere.' In order to try the maid's affection, the lover tells her that he is condemned to a shameful death, and must withdraw as an outlaw:
•Wherefore, adue, my owne hart true!
Alone, a banyshed man.'
It is no maydens lawe,
Nothynge to dout, but to renne out Is derked before the none.
To wode with an outlawe: I here yon say, Farewell: Nay, nay, For ye must there in your hand bere We depart nat so sone.
A bowe, redy to drawe: Why say ye so? wheder wyll ye go! And, as a there, thus must you lyve Alas! what have ye done?
Ever in drede and awe;
Yet had I lever than,
Alone, a banyshed man.
I thinke nat nay, but as ye say, And somewhat you dystrayne;
It is no maydens lore: But aftyrwarde, your paynes harde But love may make me for your sake, Within a day or twayne
As I have sayed before Shall soon aslake; and ye shall take To come on fote, to hunt, and shote Comfort to you agayne.
To gete us mete in store; Why sholde ye ought? for, to make thought, For so that I your company Your labour were in vayne.
May have, I ask no more; And thus I do; and pray you to
From which to part, it maketh my hart As hartely, as I can;
As colde as any stone: For I must to the grene wode go,
For, in my mynde, of all mankynde
I love but you alone.
That ye coude nat sustayne I shall be playne to you agayne,
The thornie wayes, the depe valleies, Lyke as ye shall me fynde.
The snowe, the frost, the rayne, Syth it so, that ye wyll go,
The cold, the hete: for dry or wete, I wolle not leve behynde:
We must lodge on the playne; Shall never be sayed, the Not-browne Mayd And, us above, none other rofe Was to her love unkynde:
But a brake bush, or twayne: Make you redy, for so am I,
Which soon sholde greve you, I beleve; Allthough it were anone;
And ye wolde gladly than
Alone, a banyshed man.'
He urges that she will have no wine or ale, no shelter but the trees, no society but their enemies, finally that another already