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as seems generally agreed, that her eldest daughter, the Italianhaving acquired a copious and extensive phraseology-committed her thoughts to writing, and assumed a new character. Still I am inclined to think, though no vestiges of such compositions may remain, that, in the earliest infancy of every language, love has found words, and reduced those words to some measure, more expressive of affection, and more likely to attract the attention of the object it admired.” P. 336.
But yet, notwithstanding this confession, it is evident from the very
division and different heads of the book, that he considers the thirteenth century as the favorite epoch. Now we have always imagined, that if we should be obliged to name a period from which to date the origin of modern languages, the end of the eleventh, or to the utmost the beginning of the twelfth century; tvould by far be the most reasonable. At that tiine the earliest records fix the first effusion of the Sicilian muse, who disdaining any longer to employ the Provençal language,
like the Troubadours, wished in her own tongue to express the sentiments with which the Sicilian poets were animated by the sight, or by the cruelty “ of the object they admired."
However, the best part of all is, that Mr. Berington himself unawares confirms our opinion.
56 Frederic II. who was educated in Sicily, and in 1218 raised to the imperial throne, was the patron of literature; and was himself extensively learned. His skill in languages, amongst which are reckoned the Italian, German, and French, is much celebrated by contemporary writers; and they tell us of the schools or academies which he founded; of the works which he procured to be translated from the Greek; and of the intellectual ardour which he every-where endeavoured to excite. His chancellor, the learned Peter de Vineis, was his fellow-labourer in the meritorious work. The court of Frederic, observes the historian, whom I willingly follow, appeared as a luminous theatre, on which the learned men met, whom his munificence attracted; whilst under the shade of royal protection, they pursued their various studies, and gave energy to the love of science. Among these were many Troubadours. Frederic afforded encouragement to their amusing arts; and was himself a poet, as he had cultivated the Italian, or rather the Sicilian, dialect, which was the language of his early youth." P. 346,
If then Frederic II. was raised to the throne in the year 1218, and among other languages was skilful in Italian, it is clear that the Italian must already have been a formed language. And if the thirteenth century according to Mr. Berington, is to be considered as the epoch of the formation of modern languages, then we must suppose this languageto have been formed
in about five and twenty years. Mr. Berington quotes Tiraboschi, and there was no need for it; for even without Tiraboschi we might have found out both the age in which Frederis lived and his skill in languages. For the question is not about those who cultivated the Italian language, but about the time in which this language was formed. And had Mr. Berington taken the trouble to quote the whole that Tiraboschi says on this subject, he would have found that the writer of the Storia della Letteratura Italiana, by no means agrees with the theory laid down in the History of the Middle Ages; on the contrary, he offers new arguments in favour of our opinions, in the long preface at the head of the third volume; in which he ex professo treats of the origin of the Italian language, and confutes Maffei Bembo and l'Aretino.
The best part of this whole book is that in which Mr. Berington having shewn, that “ the station of the Roman bjshops was singularly propitious for the accomplishment of dispelling the dreary chasm of ignorance and barbarism ;” whether we consider the abundance of wealth which was voluntarily bestowed, the influence which they actually enjoyed, or the superiority of talents which they possessed;" asks, why they performed' so little, and thus he very properly resolves the question.
“The history of their pontificates will best solve the difficulty, And here I would not refer the reader to any distant period though in the progress of any period, sufficient light might be collected_but confine his view to that which is more immediate before him, I mean to the thirteenth century. At the commencement of this century, Innocent III. occupied the papal chair, and Boniface VIII. at its termination. In perusing the history of the lives of these prelates, he will discover that though they were men of high endowments, and not indifferent to the cause of letters mother interests were nearer to their hearts, or at least, were of such overwhelming magnitude, and such urgent importance as necessarily to absorb the main powers of attention. To acquire ter, ritory, and through it the more effectual means of aggrandisement; to extend the prerogative, and by its application, as occasion served, to exercise an unlimited controul over churchmen and to make even
crowns bend to the sovereignty of the tiara; were concerns, compared with which those of literature would appear. but as trifles light as air. That such were the views of Innocent was manifested by the series of his actions, though I have suffi, ciently remarked, that his time was often otherwise engaged.
“ When, after a hundred years, seldom distinguished by any change of measures, Boniface was called to the helm, a papal his, torian thus sums up the events of his pontificate: Casting his eye, says he, over the face of Christendom, and embracing its concerns,
he undertook to pacify Italy; to recall the Sicilian kingdom to its
“ Such were the designs of Bonifáce, in few of which he succeed
The circumstances which attended their deaths were peculiarly
To this picturç we have nothing to add, and if Mr. Berington
At the end of this book Mr. Berington discusses the subject of the origin of rhyme, and thus he introduces the argument to the reader.
« Judging from the abilities of the writers whom we have men. tioned, we may be permitted to conclude, that some progress had been made in Latin poetry; but the subject presents, at the same time, another aspect, which is rude and uninviting. I allude to the art of rhyming, which was now become, by a strange perversion of taste, the standard of poetical excellence.
" Whether rhymes were introduced into Latin verse by one Leo, or Leoninus, who lived in the twelfth century, or by some earlier or later writer, cannot be ascertained. But it is certain, that this change took place when the language had ceased to be generally read; and the ear, vitiated by the rugged sounds of the modern dialects, had lost all relish for the harmonious simplicity of its prosody. Metre of some sort, which has been called rhythm, or measured motion, was found necessary, without which no verse could be distinguished; and as this might not always be deemed sufficient to mark the measure of the line, recourse was
had to rhyme, or the termination of verses by a similar sound. The
ear was thus fiattered by a certain musical desinence; nor could it, a moment, doubt, where every verse closed. I don't pretend to determine whether the rhythm, in the change which the language has undergone, could have been equally well marked by the ancient syllabic quantity. But rhyme appears to have owed its origin to some feeling of its expediency; and it can Hardly be doubted, that it was first introduced in the metrical compositions of some modern tongue. It is not probable, that it would have been first attempted in Latin, in which there was no example, and of which the prosody had been so long estabPished." P. 406. · Now with all respect to Mr. Berington, it is not only "probable," but certain, “ that rhyme was first attempted in Latin." If Mr. Berington could not ascertain " whether rhymes were introduced into Latin verse by Leo or Leoninus, wbo lived in the twelfth century, or by some earlier or later writer, we are sorry for it. He refers us to a curious note in Warton's Dissert. II. and we refer him to Muratori Antiq. Ital. Dissert. XL. Mr. Berington asserts, " that this change took place when the language had ceased to be generally read, and when the ear vitiated by the rugged sound of the modern dialects had lost all relish for the harmonious simplicity of its prosody;" and Muratori has proved, that rhyme had been in use amongst the Romans even during the
of Augustus. This is denied by Mr. Berington, and the reader shall bear, what he says
“ Should it be said that, by the ancient Latin poets, the first in classical rank, rhymes were sometimes introduced –my answer is : that they occurred from accident, or were employed for the sake of alliteration ; whereas with these poetasters they were the result of elaborate design." P. 408.
Well then let us take Mr. Berington on his own ground, and Let those examples of rhymes which we find " in the ancient Latin poetry of the first classical rank," be considered as a matter of “i accident.” What will be say then to the specimens published by Muratori, of single and double rhymes by writers of the sixth, and even fifth century? Will be consider" them to be matter of accident also ? They occur in each line of a long composition; therefore the supposition cannot be admitted, and if so, how can we agree with him and believe, " that Leoninus” was the inventor of this rhythm, or at least, " that this change took place when the language bad ceased to be generally read?”
But here the reader may ask, which was the man, or at least the nation that first made use of rhyme in the modern languages? Mr. Berington thus eludes the question altogether.
* But when rhyme had obtained admission into modern tonguess and it had acquired peculiar celebrity and general approbation in the compositions of the Trouveurs and Troubadours, we readily conceive, how eager a monkish versifier might be, to confer an ornament on the Latin language, which he had learned to admire in his own.
His delicacy of perception was not such as to enable him to discriminate whether this embellishment was congenial with the dignity of the Roman idiom. And whatever might be his sensibility on this subject, he knew what was of more immediate inportance to him, that the use of rhyme in his compositions would not fail to recommend them to more general notice. And when the rhyming process had begun, what was likely to circumscribe its use or set any boundary to its application? We have rhymes which conclude the verse in the various measures of composition: in others, besides this common termination, the middle of each verse is made to rhyme with its end: and in a third sort, no fewer than three rhymes enter each verse, two within the verse itself, and one referring to the succeeding line.
- Qui regis omnia, pelle tot crimina, surge, perinus,
P. 407. Indeed we feel very much obliged to Mr. Berington for the information, the long and the short of which is, rhyme is a strange perversion of taste introduced by Leoninus, or somebody else, adopted by feening of expediency, adınitted by the Troubadours, copied by the monks, and followed by all the nations of Europe.
We know not whether our readers will be satisfied with such a pedigree, for our part we own we are vot; and consequently upon the authority of Muratori we shall say, that there were two kinds of verses known to the Romans, the metrical and the rhythmical. The first were made according to the strictest rules of prosody, and were used only by scholars and classical writers; while the second being generally the production of common men, merely preserved such a siınilarity of sound and quantities "as might satisfy the ear, but could not stand the test of severe criticism, for in it they paid no attention to the rules of prosody. To this second species of verse Muratori refers the origin of rhyme, which by the Latins was called similiter cadens; he even pretends that they were not unknown to the Greeks, and quotes the Anthologia as a proof of his assertion.
Having so far established the origin of rhyme, it remains to discover which was the nation that tirst introduced it into moa dern Europe. This question would not be so easily settled were we to listen