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When Raymond Berenger and his successors, who governed Provence, introduced into the south of France a taste for letters, and the arts and sciences, a spirit of chivalry and a love of liberty burst forth unknown to former ages. This passion for letters and science had flourished for centuries in Arabia, and was at this time rapidly spreading through Spain as well as the south of France. A taste for poetry was a natural concomitant. In Provence it was cultivated by many, and patronized by all. At this period of history, when the crusades had given a new impulse to the human mind, women arose from being only the help-meets of man, such as she was made for, to be a divinity to worship. They directed the destinies of men, and demanded homage from them. This age of gallantry had its uses. It softened the barbarous features of the dark ages, by diffusing knowledge among the wealthy, which if followed by freedom of man. ners, certainly was accompanied by refinement. This excitement produced the Troubadours, a body of poets and musicians, who for several centuries held a higher
rank, and had a more extraordinary influence, than any class of the literati in any age of letters. They were admitted to the highest grades of society as equals, and to them genius, wealth, and beauty, paid the homage of admiration. The princes and dukes of the land numbered them among their friends. The potentate who had in his household the greatest number of these bards, was the most to be envied. From these Troubadours have sprung modern poetry, and modern music, as is agreed on all hands. At the time of their glory, distant nations sought for these bards, as means of exalting a nation and giving a whole people a taste for letters " the humanizers of mankind.” About the middle of the twelfth century, Geoffrey de Resdel of Blieux, in Provence, was invited to England by a brother of Richard the First. Here he was held in the highest honor, and made wealthy from the royal coffers ;—but on hearing from the knights who had returned from the Holy LAND, of a lady of exquisite beauty, of great piety and of unbounded liberality, one who had extended to the knights the most generous hospitality, he fell violently in love with this fair dame, the Countess of Tripoli, whom he had never seen; but her virtues and her charms occupied his whole thoughts. He wrote poetry on her--addressed to a far distant love," --and wrought himself up to so great a phrenzy, that he could no longer endure the palace of a king, but must needs have a sight of this darling of his soul. Having prevailed on one of his friends, Bertrand d'Allamaron, a Troubadour, like himself, to accompany
him to the Levant; he quitted the court of Richard, 1162, to visit the Holy Land, to catch new inspirations, and to see his adored countess in his way. His enthusiasm was wound up to such a degree, that he was attacked by a severe illness, and had lost the powers of articulation when he arrived at Tripoli. While lying in this state, the beloved countess heard that a celebrated poet was dying of love of her on board a vessel, then in the harbor. She lost no time, but visited him on ship-board.
She was led to the cot of the expiring bard, and took him kindly by the hand, and whispered to him accents of comfort. The influence of her divine voice resuscitated the poet sufficiently to give him strength and tongue, to thank his adored for her kindness, and to declare the sincerity of his passion—but further explanations were silenced by the convulsions of death. The countess had the body removed to her palace, and distinguished honors paid to his funeral solemnities. She also erected over his grave a splendid monument of porphyry, with an inscription in Arabic, from which many of the above facts have been obtained.
The bards and minstrels of a later date find but few such as the countess of Tripoli. In these days were instituted “ COURTS OF LOVE," held only by women, with their attendant guests, the Troubadours. In them were recited warm and tender poems on the beauty of women, their influence, and their divine right to rule. These poets dealt in romantic descriptions, comparing the lustre of woman's eye to the brightness of the evening
star, and her voice to a seraph's harp. Sometimes when excited by these enchanting strains, the fair members of the court would display their eloquence on some subject stated for discussion. These discussions or games were called Tensons, and genius often corruscated from every part of the debating hall. On a time when the the question was—" Whether it be a greater grief to lose a lover by death, or by infidelity," Orilla, a lady whose husband was then in Palestine, was the first speaker. She was a beauty with an Arabian soul, full of nobleness and eloquence. She contended that it was greater to lose a lover by infidelity than by death, that the disappointment felt by desertion and neglect brought a sickness to the soul, that death in the cause of honor never could; that it seemed to level the sufferer with the cause of the anguish; that it destroyed all confidence, and changed trusting fondness to cold and jealous suspicions, giving a new direction to character, and with the hatred to the false one lessening our veneration to love itself. If we seek revenge, said she, and attempt to strike a blow for injured honor, it often recoils on ourselves. If we are tame in the suffering, we are despised; if we seek redress by the laws of honor and arms, we are feared; but when a gallant lover expires, we are sustained in our grief by the contemplation of his glorious deeds, which Fame with her trumpet sounds through all the corners of the earth. When his shade visits our bed-side, it comes from a soldier's grave.
We build monuments to cherish his memory, and feel
ourselves for ever in the shadow of the hero's fame. If he has left children, we devote our days to their instruction, and half live again in the growth and development of their virtues, and enjoy the perfume of their fame by anticipation. Would Artemisa have been known, if she had not solaced her grief by erecting a monument to Mausoleus, her departed husband? Or would Judith have delivered Israel if she had not given her mind to patriotism and piety in the house of mourning, where she had once lived in the purest affection with her departed lord. She mourned with true dignity, while a neglected damsel mourns as one ashamed to avow her grief;--she is a flower, not cropped to adorn the bosom of her lover, which is beating with patriotism and chivalry, but one plucked to be trampled with disdain, under the feet of the despiser of her charms, or left to wither on the virgin thorn. Then raising her eyes to heaven, Orilla called on all of mortal and immortal birth, to suffer her lover to die on the field of glory, and rest in a soldier's grave, if he could not return from the Holy Land, but never suffer him, ye gods ! to be caught by the snares of a Damascus dame, or be charmed into infidelity by the syren song of a paynim maid.
Amanda, shrinking as the mimosa, delicate and tender as the passion flower, with trembling accents, but with high-souled resolve, took the opposite side of the question ; and contended that the spirit of resentment which arose in a woman's breast at the infidelity of a lover, cicatrized at once the wounds of the heart and