« PreviousContinue »
those not only from his own dominions, but (as the historian informs us) from Greece."
From these accounts it is evident, that some knowledge of the fine arts, even during this middle age, existed both in Italy and Greece.
Should it be demanded, to which nation, in this respect, we give the preference; it is a question to be decided by recurring to facts.
Italy at the beginning of her history was barbarous; nor did she emerge from her barbarity, till Greece, which she bad conquered, gave her poets, orators, philosophers, &c. Græcia captu ferum Victorem cepit.
Hor. After a succession of centuries, the Roman empire fell. By this fatal event the finer arts fell also, and lay for years in a kind of torpid state, till they revived through the genial warmth of Greece.
A few Greek painters, in the thirteenth century, came from Greece into Italy, and taught their art to Cimabue, a Florentine." Cimabue was the father of Italian painters; and from him came a succession, which at length gave the Raphaels, the Michael Angelos, &c.
The statues and ruined edifices with which Italy abounded, and which were all of them by Greek artists, or after Grecian models, taught the Italians the fine arts of sculpture and architecture.
The Greek fugitives from Constantinople, after its unhappy catastrophe, brought that superior literature into Italy, which enabled the Italians to read in the original the capital authors of Attic eloquence.?
When literature, sculpture, architecture, and painting had thus attained a perfection in Italy, we learn from history, they were transplanted into the north, where they lived, though it was rather like exotics than natives.
As therefore Northern Europe derived them from Italy, and this last from Greece, the conclusion is evident, that not Italy, but Greece was their common parent. And thus is the question concerning preference to be decided.
warm verses of Hildebert quoted before,
u Abulfed. p. 125.
ý How early these fine remains began to excite their admiration, we learn from those
? Sup. p. 477.
CONCERNING THE POETRY OF THE LATTER LATINS, OR WESTERN
EUROPEANS-ACCENTUAL QU NTITY-RHYME-SAMPLES OF RHYME IN LATIN-IN CLASSICAL POETS, ACCIDENTAL ; IN THOSE OF A LATER AGE, DESIGNED_RHYME AMONG THE ARABIANS-ODILO, HUCBALDUS, HILDIGRIM, HALABALDUS, POETS OR HEROES OF WESTERN EUROPERHYMES IN MODERN LANGUAGES-OF DANTE, PETRARCH, BOCCACCIO, CHAUCER, ETC. —SANNAZARIUS, A PURE WRITER IN CLASSIC LATIN WITHOUT RHYME-ANAGRAMS, CHRONOGRAMS, ETC., FINELY AND ACCURATELY DESCRIBED BY THE INGENIOUS AUTHOR
OF THE SCRIBLERIAD.
And here, as we are about to speak upon the poetry of these times, we wish our readers previously to review what we have already said upon the two species of verbal quantity, the syllabic and the accentual.
It will there appear, that till Greek and Latin degenerated, accentual quantity was hardly known. But though degeneracy spread it through these two languages, yet, with regard to modern languages, it was the best that could be attained. Their harsh and rugged dialects were in few instances suited to the harmonious simplicity of the syllabic measure.
And yet, though this more perfect and elegant prosody was rarely attainable, so strong was the love of mankind for rhythm, so connate (if I may so say) with their very being, that metre of some sort was everywhere cultivated, and even these northern tribes had their bards, their minstrels, their troubadours, and the like.
Now, though in the latter Latinity syllabic quantity was little regarded, and the accentual more frequently supplied its place, they did not esteem even this last always sufficient to mark the measure. An expedient was therefore found, (flattering to the ear, because it had something of harmony,) and this was, to mark the last syllables of different verses with sounds that were similar, so that the ear might not doubt a moment where every verse ended.
And hence in modern verse these last syllables, which poets of a purer age in a manner neglected, came to claim a peculiar and superior regard, as helping to mark the rhythm through the medium of the rhyme.
Si sol spendescat Maria purificante,
Major erit glacies post festum, quam fuit ante. See from p. 408 to p. 413.
whether classical or not classical, whether Rhyme is the similitude of sound at blank verse, or rhyme. In short, without the ends of two verses. Rhythm is measured rhythm no verse can exist of any species ; motion, and exists in verses of every sort, without rhyme they may, and often do.
Nor was this practised in heroics only, but in trochaics also.
Suscitavit igitur || deus Hebræorum
Subvenire filiis || mortificatorum.
Hic erat Edmundus, anima cum corpore mundus,
Quem non immundus potuit pervertere mundus.d
Hic sunt confossa Bernoldi præsulis ossa ;
Laudet cum glossa, dedit hic quia munera grossa. To these may be added the inscription upon the three wise men of the East, buried (as they tell us) at Cologn in the West.
Corpora sanctorum recubant hic terna magorum,
Ex his sublatum nihil est, alibive locatum. Verses of this sort, of which there are innumerable still extant, have been called Leonine verses, from Leo, a writer of the twelfth century, who is supposed to have been their inventor. But this should seem a mistake, if the inscription upon the image of a king Dagobert, who lived in the seventh century, be of the same period with that monarch.
Fingitur hac specie, bonitatis odore refertus,
Istius ecclesiæ fundator, rex Dagobertus.
Trajicit: i, verbis virtutem illude superbis.
Fratrem mærentis, rapto de fratre dolentis. Thus even Homer himself:
'Εκ γαρ κρηΤΑΩΝ γένος εύχομαι ευρειΑΩΝ. The difference seems to have been, the rhymes, falling from these superior geniuses, fell (it was probable) accidentally: with the latter race of poets they were the work of labour and design. They may well, indeed, be called works of labour and design, when we reflect on the immense pains which their makers must have taken, where their plan of rhyming was so complicated, as they sometimes made it.
d Waverly, p, 202.
Take a singular example of no fewer than three rhymes to each verse.
Crimina crescere flete ; tepescere jus, decus, æquum;
Nos, Deus, aspice, ne sine simplice lamine simus. Fabricius, who gives these verses, remarks, that they were written in the dactylic Leonine; that is, they had every foot a dactyl, excepting the last, and contained three rhymes in each verse, two within the verse itself, and one referring to the verse that followed. He adds, that their author, Bernardus Morlanensis, a monk of the eleventh century, composed no less than three books of this wonderful versification. What leisure must he have had, and how was it employed ?e
Before we quit the subject of rhyme we may add, that rhyme was used not only by the Latin, but by the Arabian poets, as we may see by a tract upon the Arabic prosody, subjoined by Dr. Pococke to his Carmen Tograï.
Rhyme, however, was not so strictly followed, but that sometimes they quitted it. In the following heroics, the monk Odilo, addressing himself to his friend Hucbaldus, appears so warm in his wishes, as not only to forget rhyme, but even classical quantity.
Hucbaldo Sopho Sõphīă sît semper amica ;
Exposco hoc Odilo, peccator cernuus ēgo. This genius (over whose verses I have occasionally marked the accentual quantity in contradistinction to the syllabic) is supposed to have written in the tenth century.
Others, rejecting rhyme, wrote elegiacs; as that monk who celebrated Hildīgrim and Halabuldus; the one for building a church, the other for consecrating it.
Hildīgrim struxit; Hălăbaldus episcopus archi
Sanctificavit: honor certus utrumque manet. In the first of these two verses the word archi-episcopus is, by a pleasant transposition, made into a dactyl and spondee, so as to complete the hexameter.'
It was upon these principles of versification, that the early poets of this era wrote much bad verse in much bad Latin. At length they tried their skill in their vernacular tongues, introducing here also their rhyme and their accentual quantity, as they had done before in Latin.
Through the southern parts of France, the troubadours (already mentioned%) composed sonnets in the Provençal tongue. Soon after them, Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio wrote poems in Italian ; and soon after these, Chaucer flourished in England. From Chaucer, through Rowley, we pass to lords Surry and Dorset; from them to Spencer, Shakspeare, and Johnson; after whom came Milton, Waller, Dryden, Pope, and a succession of geniuses down to the present time.
e See Fabric. Biblioth. med. et infim. de l'Eclaircissements a l'Histoire de France ætatis, under the word, Bernardus Mor- par l'Abbé de Beuf, p. 115.-p. 106. lanensis.
8 See before, p. 502. f See Recueil de divers Ecrits pour servir
The three Italian poets we have mentioned, were capital in their kind, being not only strong and powerful in sentiment, but, what is more surprising, elegant in their diction, at a time when the languages of England and France were barbarous and unpolished. This, in English, is evident from our countryman, Chaucer, who, even to an English reader, appears so uncouth, and who yet wrote later than the latest of these three.
It must, however, be acknowledged, that, if we except his language, for learning and wit he appears equal to the best of his contemporaries, and, I may add, even of his successors.
I cannot omit the following sample of his literature in the Frankelein’s Tale. In that poem, the fair Dorigen is made to lament the absence of her much-loved Arveragus; and, as she sits upon a cliff, beholding the sea and the formidable rocks, she breaks forth with terror into the following exclamation.
Eternal God! that thro' thy purveyaúnce
Why have ye wrought this work unreasonable ?
I wote well clerkis woll sayn, as 'hem leste,
Ay keep my Lord, &c.
To lead the world by certain governaunce, is not only a philosophical idea, but philosophically expressed. The next verse,
In idle, as men sayn, ye nothing make, is a sentiment translated literally from Aristotle, and which that philosopher so much approved as often to repeat it.
Take one example:
“Ο δε Θεός και η φύσις ουδέν μάτην ποιούσιν: “God and nature make nothing in vain.” :
* Arist. de Cælo, l. i. c. 4.