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The only other topic which we shall take up is one suggested by the title of the 8th chapter of the VIIth Book of the Happiness of States," namely, “ should government interfere with corn at all ?" We have no intention to go at any length into the evide field which this questiou throws open, and will therefore answer briefly by saying, as little and as seldom as possible. The expenses of cultivation being higher in this country than in the neighbouring kingdoms, a countervailing duty ought no doubt to be imposed with a view of protecting to a certain extent the British farmer; upon the same principle that protection is granted to the manufacturer of silk and of cotton. This being done no government ought to proceed farther, for the corn trade
other will soon find its natural level. In fact, on na subject is the interference of the legislature so frivolous and vexatious as on that of regulating the trade in the raw produce of the soil, for the rise and fall of the markets depend on circuma stances to which the power of Government cannot be extended. A very good or a very bad season renders nugatory all the provisions of an Act of Parliament; and this will ever be the case until the sun and the wind can be brought to the bar of the House. Only a very short time has elapsed since the country was thrown into commotion about a corn-bill, and there can be no doubt that one class of men looked forward to its operations with hopes of advantage, while the great majority regarded it with feelings of alarm and indignation. What then has been the result? Prices have fallen, and the act is a dead letter, and a dead letter it will remain until a bad harvest shall raise the price of corn, and then importation will
, as usual, be regulated by Orders in Council. Those who hoped as well as those who feared, in relation to the corn-bill, seem to have forgot this important fact, that the quantity of corn imported, even in the years of the greatest importation, does not exceed the proportion of' a bushel to the acre of land used for raising grain, whereas the difference between an average crop and a good one is not less than three or four bushels an acre. Thus, we find, a good season affords, over and above what is reckoned an average produce, and which, of course, is the ground upon which all cal. culations relative to national subsistevce are made, a quantity of corn equal to four times the quantity for which we are indebted to foreign countries, and which alone can be regulated by the law of the land. On this subject Mr. Gray has made some just observations, intermixed, however, with a good deal of extra, vagant theory.
We sum up our character of this book in a few words. The author is evidently a man who can see and hear, but who can pot reason : he is benevolent and philanthropical, but mistakes U
the VOL. IV. SEPTEMBER, 1815.
the means of producing happiness. He is constantly falling into an error in argument similar to that which the logicians call causa pro non causa. He assumes the effect for the cause, and then reasons backward. For example, he has possessed himself of the fact, that in all rich countries prices are high; from which he derives a practical maxim, that the surest way to render a poor country opulent, is to charge as high as possible for every thing. He has observed too, that the fertile parts of every country are the best stocked with inhabitants; and assuming, as a principles that the superior population caused the superior fertility, he prescribes as the most ready and effectual means of improving the face of a desert, to cover it with people. It is on this account that lre is so friendly to the fecundating system of political economy, and so violently displeased with Mr. Malthus's restrictions thereánent. There is only one point of view, in short, in which we can venture to praise the “ Essay on the Happiness of States;”--the good intention with which it seems to have been written.
ART. V. A Literary History of the Middle Ages, compre
hending an Account of the State of Learning from the Close of the Reign of Augustus, &c. &sc.
(Continued from P. 145.) IN our last number we suspended our observations upon this valuable production of the English press at the end of the eleventh and twelfth century, which closed the fourth book. We shall now resume them from the learning of the thirteenth century," which forms the subject of the fifth.
We are sorry to own that this book does not by any means answer our expectations; it is dull and heavy, while it might have abounded both in interest and amusement. We know not for what reason Mr. Berington has scarcely given us a hint upon the formation of the modern languages, which is rather a pleae sing subject, while he has entered into a deep and tiresome discussion respecting the time in which the Saxon, the Norman, and the English languages, began severally to be in use. He has merely mentioned the name of the Troubadours, and has scarcely touched upon the avocation of those famous Provençal poets; and by a misfortune which is not easily accounted for, the little which he says about these masters of me rn Eu. Tope, is precisely that which would perhaps have been better omitted.
“ As the progress of mind in all countries is alike, the first es says in the languages, which I have mentioned, were of the poed tical kind; or what more properly might be termed metrical composition: the authors of which, from the word invention, to the honour of which they aspired, acquired the appellation, in the north of France, of Trouveurs; and in the south, of Troubadours. There was a close resemblance in the subjects on which they exerted their powers. They were the supposed feats of heroes, in military songs, with tales of love and merriment, all of which were connected with chivalry, and designed to promote its views. It is, however, maintained by modern authors of the late French school, not only that the productions of the Trouvéurs were the most numerous; but likewise that theỹ shew more felicity of invention, and display greater elegance of diction; whilst they represent those of the Troubadours, as deficient in imagery, in interest, and in taste, and producing disgust by a tedious and perpetual monotony. This may be true ; but I suspect that the choicest efforts of the more northern muse, if laid before us in their native ata tire *, would be found not greatly to surpass them in variety of attraction.
“ It is not, I believe, pretended that any of these authors drew from the original stock of their own minds; though if it can be proved, that the first subjects were borrowed from the Arabians, or from the east, during the intercourse established by the crusades, -the subsequent progress of imitation may be easily explained. But whether borrowed or original, disfigured by a thousand dea fects of method and style, or polluted by the grossest obscenities, the compositions of the Trouveurs and Troubadours, whether in prose or metre, evince the true character of the dialects, which they employed; the talents of the writers; and the taste of those who recited them or who listened to the recital ! They shew more: for works of fancy, as it has been well observed, written in remote ages, are the best, if not the only, documents, illustrative of the manners and customs, that is, the opinions, prejudices, superstitions, tones of conversation, and modes of life, of the times in which they were composed. When they furnish us with so much valuable information, we may readily overlook their defects; and indeed, these very defects are themselves instructive, as far as they mark the progress which had been made. The historian chronicles the great events of life, the revolutions of go. vernments, the characters and deaths of princes, the issue of battles, the altercations of polemics, the ravages of war and fa
* “ The French editor of the Fabliuux ou Contes, Mr. Le Grand, bas taken the liberty to omit, to suppress, to add, and to arrange, as might seem to please a modern reader best ; and his English imitator, Mr. Way, in his highly elegant poetical translations, has taken still greater liberties. We have not from either the real effusions of the Trouveurs, as is pretended, of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries,"
mine; while the Trouveur or Troubadour, be he poet, fabler, or romancer, explores the diversified scenes of common life, and describes men as they are. If the personages whom he introduces åre 'not real, and the events which he describes never happened ; still the manners which he paints are true." P. 388.
" While, in the south, the Troubadours amused their country. men, and diffused some taste of letters by reciting or singing their compositions, the Italians caught the flame, adapted their subjects to their own more melodious tongue, and improving both it and them, left their masters far behind. For a time, however, attracted, probably by the charms of these novel productions, they themselves cultivated the Provençal dialect ; and we read of many who composed in it, and who, in the courts of their princes, practised the seductive arts of the Troubadours. The Italian tongue, as the historian of its literature candidly owns, not completely formed, even in the thirteenth century, possesed not those elegancies which can allure the poet, to its use: whereas the Provençal, from long practice in rhyme and verse, presented an easy phraseology, and was preferred by the Italians themselves. But this did not lase long; competition produced excellence; and the new language of the Italian cities, was soon without a rival in every species of composition.
« In the north, the Trouveurs, whose language had been carried into distant countries, conveyed also their compositions with their language; and thus we were enriched. If, however, it be true, as evidently appears from their popular tales, that they had bortowed much from the old bards of Britain and Armorica, or fatterly from the history of Geoffrey of Monmouth, we took back only, as far these stories went, the fictions of our ancestors, clothed in a new attire. By the side of the glorious achievements of Charlemagne and his heroes, are placed the exploits of Arthur and the Knights of the Round-table, and the incantations of the magician Merlin, are an unrivalled source of wonder.” P. 341.
Indeed the whole theory which confines the names of Trou. veurs to the langue Romane or Romance, spoken to the north of the Loire, and of Troubadours to the langue Romance or Prótençal, which was spoken by those south of the same river, is entirely unknown to ns; nor did' we ever bear that these nor'thern Trouveurs were the most numerous, and much less, that they displayed more felicity of invention and a greater elegance of diction * than the Troubadoury.
We have always considered upon authority which appears to
* This distinction between the Trouveurs and Troubadours, has indeed-been asserted by a modern writer of note; but as he consider, the Trouveurs to have been prose writers, and the Troubaa dours poets, his authority can be of no use to Mr. Berington; his, work will form the subject of a future Number, and for this reason, we shall not for the present analyze this curious theory.
Tks unquestionable, that_these Troubadours or Trombadours, Trouveors, Trouveurs, Trourerses, or Trouvebours, as they have been severally called, were the very same set of people; that they fiourished for more than 250 years, that is from the year 1120, to the year 1982; that during this period they had acquired so much celebrity, and enjoyed so many privileges, that nobles, princes and monarchs, did not think it beneath their dignity to follow the profession. And although some writers have observed, that they failed for want of a Mæcenas by the death of Jane I. queen of Naples and Sicily, and countess of Provence, yet we are inclined to think that their fate was the consequence of their excesses. The inonarchs and nobles having withdrawn from their society, which had become too vicious and relaxed, by degrees they fell into disrepute and disappeared; and when others wished to follow the footsteps of the first Troubadours, not possessing their abilities and their inMuence they were despised. It was then that those who still followed the profession divided, and it is perhaps of this disi. sion Mr. Berington wishes to speak; but he ought to have remembered, that at this period they were no longer Troubadours, for even the nanie was laid aside. Some took the appellation of minstrels, and went on playing on their harps and singing the verses which they had learned from, and sung for the Troubadours their masters; and occasionally adding some composition of their own. Others under the name of Jongleurs, quasi joculatores, from which the Italians have made giocolieri, though occasionally they sang verses, yet for the most part they con, fined themselves to the mere playing the buffoon, just as they had done in the suite of the old Troubadours, and still wore as they had formerly done, a particular kind of mimic dress. From the former we may derive the origin of the harpers and bards, whom we find at the courts of all the northern chieftains and sovereigns, most probably the Trouveurs of Mr. Berington; and from the latter, who must be his Troubadours--we may date the fashion of our present buffoons, under the different names of Punch, Pulcinella, Harlequin, Gracioso, Conjurors, Ri. ders, Clowns, and all other despicable characters of the same description. These very soon became as great favorites in the south as the bards were in the north; and so well did they suit the frivolous taste of the age, that for a long time there wasnot any priuce or any grandee who had not some of them at his court; and it is on this account that they soou obtained and do still retain a place amongst the dramatis personæ of the theatrical compositions of all the nations of modern Europe.
In regard to the formation of the modern languages, it is not our intention, nor indeed within our power, confined as we