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E Xitcrar^ Ibistor^ of 
TLbc lEnolisb IPcople 

from tbe ^rlofns 
Zo tbe Henalesance 


3. 3. 3»&6cran^ 

Author or " BoBllBh Wayfarlnx Life In tbe Middle Agci,' 

"The Boflleh Novel IQ the Time of ShakeipearE," " A 

French Ambauador at the Court of Charlea 

II," " Plera Plowman, 1363-1399" 


(i. 1'. i'T'lNAMS SONS 


If waar TwnnT-T«iaD »t. 14 saiiFOBD it., eiTbahd 



Many histories have preceded this one ; many 
others will come after. Such is the charm of the 
subject, that volunteers will never be lacking to 
undertake this journey so Hard, so delightful toa 

As years go On, the journey lengthens : wider 
grows the field, further advance the seekers, and 
from the top of unexplored headlands, through 
morning mists, they descry the outlines of countries 
till then unknown. They must be followed to 
realms beyond the grave, to the silent domains of 
the dead, across barren moors and frozen fens, 
among chill rushes and briars that never blossom, 
till those Edens of poetry are reached, the echoes 
of which, by a gift of fairies or of muses, still vibrate 
to the melody of voices long since hushed. 

More has been done during the last fifty years > 
to shed light on the origins, than in all the rest of 
modern timesi Deciphering, annotating, printing, 
have gone On at an extraordinary pace and without 



interruption ; the empire of letters has thus been 
enlarged, according to the chances of the explora- 
tors* discoveries, by gardens and deserts, cloudy 
Immensities, and boundless forests ; its limits have 
receded into space : at least so it seems to us. We 
laugh at the simplicity of honest Robertson, who 
in the last century wondered at the superabundance 
of historical documents accessible in his time : the 
day is not far distant when we shall be laughed at^ 
in the same way for our own simplicity. fl 

The field of literary history widens in another 

' manner yet, and that affects us more nearly. The 
years glide on so rapidly that the traveller who 
started to explore the lands of former times, ab- 
sorbed by his task, oblivious of days and months, 
is surprised on his return at beholding how the 
domain of the past has widened. To the past 
belongs Tennyson, the laureate ; to the past 
belongs Browning, and that ruddy smiling face, 
manly and kind, which the traveller to realms 
beyond intended to describe from nature on his 
coming back among living men, has faded away, 
and the grey slab of Westminster covers iL A 
I thing of the past, too, the master who first in France 
taught the way, daring in his researches, straight- 
forward in his judgments, unmindful of conse- 
quences, mindful of Truth alone ; whose life was a 
model no less than his work. The work subsists, 

, but who shall tell what the life has been and what 
there was beneficent in that patriarchal voice with 




its clear, soft, and dignified tones? The life of 
Taine is a work which his other works have not 
sufficiently made known. 

The task is an immense one : its charm can 
scarcely be expressed. No one can understand, 
who has not been there himself, the delif;ht found 
in those far-ofT retreats, sanctuaries beyond the 
reach of worldly troubles. In the case of English 
literature the delight is the greater from the fact 
that those distant realms are not the realms of 
death absolute ; daylight is perceived in the dis- 
tance : the continuity of life is felt. The dead of 
Westminster have left behind them a posterity, 
youthful in its turn and life-giving. The de- 
scendants move around us ; under our eyes the 
inheritors of what has been prepare what shall be. 
In this lies one of the great attractions of this 
literature and of the French one too. Like the 
French it has remote origins ; it is ample, beauti* 
ful. measureless; no one will go the round of it; 
it is impossible to write its complete history. An 
attempt has been made in this line for French 
literature ; the work undertaken two centuries ago 
by Benedictines, continued by members of the 
Institute, is still in progress; it consists at this day 
in thirty volumes in quarto, and only the year 1317 
has been reached. And witli all that immense 
past and those far-distant origin.s, those two litera- 
tures have a splendid present betokening a splendid 
future. Both are alive to-day and vigorous. Ready 



to ba/lfle the predictions of miscreants, they show 
no sign of decay. They are ever ready for trans- 
formations, not for death. Side by side or face to 
face, in peace or war, both literatures as both 
peoples have been in touch for centuries, and in 
spite of hates and jealousies tliey have more than 
once vivified each other. These actions and re- 
actions began long ago, in Norman times and even 
before ; when Taillefer sang Roland, and when 
Alcuin taught Charlemagne. 

The duty of the traveller visiting already visited 
countries is to not limit himself to general descrip- 
tions but to make with particular care the kind of 
observations for which circumstances have fitted 
him best. If he has the eye of the painter, he will 
trace and colour with unfailing accuracy hues and 
outlines ; if he has the mind of the scientist, he will 
study the formation of the ground and classify the 
flora and fauna. ]f he has no other advantage but 
the fact that circumstances have caused him to live 
in the countrj', at various times, for a number of 
years, in contact with the people, in calm days and 
stormy days, he will perhaps make himself useful, 
if while diminishing somewhat in his book the part 
usually allowed to technicalities and icsthetic prob- 
lems, he increases the part allotted to the people 
and to the nation : a most difficult task assuredly; 
but whatever be his too legitimate apprehensions, 
he must attempt it, having no other chance, when 
so much has been done already, to be of any use. 


The work in such a case will not be, properly J 
speaking, a " History of English Literature," but ? 
xathera " Literary History of the English People."/ 

Not only will the part allotted to the nation itself 
lie greater in such a book than habitually happens, 
but several manifestations of its genius, generally 
passed over in silence, will have to be studied. The 
ages during which the national thought expressed ^ 
itself in languages which were not the national one, / 
will not be allowed to remain blank, as if, for com- / 
plete periods, the inhabitants of the island had 
ceased to think at all. The growing into shape of 
the people's genius will have to be studied with 
particular attention. The Chapter House of West- 
minster will be entered, and there shall be seen how 
the nation, such as it was then represented, became 
conscious, even under the Plantagenets, of its exist- 
ence, rights, and power. Philosophers and reformers 
must be questioned concerning the theories which 
they spread : and not without some purely literary 
advantage. Bacon, Hobbes, and Locke are the 
ancestors of many poets who have never read their 
works, but who have breathed an air impregnated 
with their thought. Dreamers will be followed, 
singers, tale-tellers, and preachers, wherever it 
pleases them to lead us : to the Walhalla of the 
north, to the green dales of Erin, to the Saxon 
church of Brad ford-on- Avon, to Blackheath, to the 
"Tabard" and the " Mermaid," to the " Globe," to 
*' Will's " coffee house, among ruined fortresses, to 


cloud-reaching- steeples, or along the furrow sown 
to good intent by Piers the honest Plowman. 

The work, the first part c\ which is being pulj- 
lished, is meant to be divided into three volumes ; 
but as " surface as small as possible must be offered 
to the shafts of Fortune," each volume will make 
complete whole in itself, the first telling the literary! 
stor)* of the English up to the Renaissance, the 
second up to the accession of King Pope, the lasc^ 
up to our day. " 

No attempt has been made to say everything and 

^be complete. Many notes will however allow the 

curious to go themselves to the sources, to verify, lo 

see with their own eyes. and. if they find cause 

{absil omen /), to disagree. I n those notes most of 

Hhe space has been filled by references to originals ; 

' little has been left for works containing' criticisms 

and appreciations : the want of room is the only 

reason, not the want of reverence and sympathy for 


To be easily understood one must be clear, and 
to be clear, qualifications and attctmations must be 
reduced to a minimum. The reader will surely 
/understand that many more "pcrhapscs" and 
( "abouts" were in the mind of the author than will 
be found in print ; he will make, in hisbenevolence, 
due allowance for the roughness of that instrument, 
speech, applied to events, ideas, theories, things of 
beauty, as difficult to measure with rule as *" the 
myst on Malverne hulles." He will know that 




vhen Saxons are described as having a sad, solemn 
genius, and not numbering among their pre-eminent 
qualities the gift of repartee, it does not mean that 
lor six centuries they all of them sat and wept 
without intermission, and that when asked a question 
tbey never knew what to answer. All men are men, 
and have human qualilies more or less developed 
is their mind» ; nothing more is implied in those 
passages but that this quality was more developed 
in one particular race of men, and that in another. 
When a book is just finislied there is always for 
the author a most doleful hour, when retracing his 
steps he thinks of what he has attempted, the diffi- 
culties of the task, the unlikeliness that he has over- 
come them. Misprints taking wrong numbers by 
die hand, black and thorny creatures, dance their 
wild dance round him. He is awe*stricken, and 
shudders ; he wonders at the boldness of his under- 
laking; "Qu'allait-il falre danscettegaltire?" The 
immensity of the task, the insufficience of the means 
stand in striking contrast. He had started singing 
on his journey ; now he looks for excuses to justify 
ills having ever begun it. Usually, it must be 
confessed, he finds some, prints them or not, and 
recovers his spirits. 1 have published other works; 
I think I did not print the excuses I found to 
explain the whys and the wherefores ; they were 
the same in all cases: roadway stragglers, Piers 
Plowman. Count Comlnges, Tudor novelists, were 
large measure leftnaff subjects. No books had 


been dedicated to them ; the attempt, therefore, 
could not be considered as an undue intrusion. But 
in this present case, what can be said, what excuse 
can be found, when so many have written, and so 
well, too ? 

The author of this book had once a drive in 
London ; when it was finished, he offered the cab- 
man his fare. Cabman glanced at it ; it did not 
look much in his large, hollow hand ; he said : " I 
want sixpence more." Author said : "Why? It is 
the proper fare ; I know the distance very well ; give 
me a reason." Cabman mused for a second, and 
said : " I should like it so !" 

I might perhaps allege a variety of reasons, but 
the true one is the same as the cabman's. I did 
this because I could not help it ; I loved it so. 


All Souls' Day, 1894. 


ftUKX _ .„ I 





L Fusion of Races is France and in England.— First mh«M- 
lants — Celtic realms — The Ctlts in Britain — Similitude with the 
Celts of Gaul — Their religion —Their quick minds — Their gift 
ofspeech 3 

II, Celtic Literatcre. — Irish stories- Wealth of that literature — 
Its characteristics — The dramatic g"'' — Inventiveness — Heroic 
deeds — Familiar dialogues — Love and woman — Welsh tales ... 9 

III. Roman Conquest.— Duration and results— First coming of the 

Germanic invader 18 



The mother coaniry of the Germanic invader — Tacitus — Germans and 
Scandinavians — The great invasions — Character of the Teutonic 
nations — Germanic kingdoms established in formerly Roman 

Jutes, Frisians, Angles, and Saxons — British resistance and 
ddeat — Pioblem of the Celtic survival — Results of the Germaitic 
invasions in England and France 21 





I. Thk Poktrv or TUB Noktk.— The Gcrnmnli: peritxl O'f Engluh 
literature — Its clmractcrisiics — Anglo-Saxon pociT7 Kiondu apart 
snd doet not mbmil to Cdltc inllucncc — Coinp«Liiu>n with 
Sondluvian literature— The Eddas and Sngas; (he " Corpui 
Pdciicum BorRtIc " — Th« heroes ; ihtir tragical adv^nturet^ 
Their leroper and jotrows 

II. Akolo-Saxos — WoiMinp— Epic tales — WaUUicre. 
Beowulf — Analyib of " Beowulf "—The Ideal of happiness In 
"Beowulf" — Lnnilidpei — Sid ircditslictit — The id«a of dcalh 
—Northern *nowt 





L CoUVRMlOJe.— AnifBl of Aapistine — Tlie new teaching— The 
inifwriAl idei and the Girisiian idnt— Beginning! of the new 
bilfa — Heathen luirivab — Convcou aod Kh()uli— Kdi^on kiop 
and priiico— Prtncl^tism, Si. Boniface » ' ... te 

II. Latik CuLTtiRK. — Manuscripifr— Alcuin, St. Bonibcc, AUhdm, 
.Cddi, Bede — Life and writing of Bedc— Hi< " Kceloatclic*! 
liulOfy" — HU sympathy for the national lilcmturc 65 

III. Ckustiak Pukms. — The gcniiu of the race mnaim nearly m- 

changed— Hetaienl adTcniutes o( the sainu— Paisfhraie of the 
SJble — CHdmoB— Cynetpntf— Hb sorrow snd dcitpaii— " Dreaip 
of Ihc kood" — "Andreaa" — Lugubriou* lighti — The idea of 
death — Dialggne* — Vmiodi |:>ocm» — The " Physiologns* — 
'■Phernix" 68 

IV. Pkosk — Alfked thi Crkat.— Lawi and chi tiers— Alfred aod 

iha DiiniKh inntuit»— Th« fight for drilicntinn— TraiuktieD of 
wotktby Si- Greg^ny, Orotiiu (travdi or Obiherc}, Itoctbiui ((t«ry 
of Orpheut) — Impultion given to proac — Wolcttb — Anglo-Saxon 
ChmiUclea— dntactei of Alfred ... ... ... 

V. St. Dohftan— Skbmdxs.— Si. Dimitan (i«it}i eentuiy) nmaufa 
■be worlc of Alfttd— TranUatioo of pioiu work*— Collections of 
KmoQs — ^Ifric, WuUatani "Blickluic" homilies — Aitconpt to 
lotcb literary dignity. 

End of the Anglo-Saxon period 







I. Th« Imvaotrs op THB Year 1066.— England between two 
civilisations — The North and South — The Scandiiurians at 
Stamford-bridge - 

The Noraums of France — The anny of William ii t. French 
■rmjr — Character of Wilii&m — The battle — Occupatian of the 
coontiy 97 

IL England bodnd to Southern Civiusations.— Policy of 
William — Survey of his new doniains — Unification — The suc- 
cessors of William— Their practical mind uid their taate for 
adventures — Taste for art — French families settled in England — 
Continental possessions of English kings— French ideal — Unifica- 
tion of origins — Help from chroniclers and poets — The Trojan 
ancestor h .•. 104 



L DiFPOSlON or THE French Lanouacb— The French language 
■uperimposed on the English one— Its prc^ess ; even among 
"lowe men" — Authors of English blood write their works in 
French 116 

n. The French Literature op the Noruans and Anobtins. 
-~It is animated by their own practical and adventurous mind — 
Piactical woilcs : dironicles, scientific and pious treatises ... lao 

IIL Epic Romances. —The Sung of Roland and the Charlemagne 
cycle — Comparison with "Beowulf" — The matter of Rome — 
How anti()uity is Iramlated—VionAtn — The matter of Britain — 
Love — Geofirey of Monmouth — Tristan and Iseult — Lancelot 
and Guinevere — Woman— Love as a passion and love as a 
ceremonial 125 

IV. Lays and Chansons.— Shorter stories— Lays of Marie de France 

—Chansons of France— Songs in French composed in England ... 141 



V, Satiucu. and iKfltticAL WoBKS.— Snch worlu inirodDced in 
Englnnd— Thp (lilErimige of CtMik-iniiene—The *' Roman de 
Kcnnri," > univenai ei>mn!y — Fabliaun— Theit mignitluiiii - 
Tkcirutn— TbeninflueDM in Eitgl4nd _ ... ... 



[. The TlKs WITH Rowa. —William I,, Henry II.. John -Chutth 
l».nds— Thr "e»*nipi " obb*y?— Ce-rwing 6f tlic frwff— Th* dn 
in Fitiluiiticni-^I'aft pbycd by pieUtc^ la llie Stale — Wunoc 
prcUlc«. ailmiiiiMnilnTS, scavanln, nninls ... ... ... •■• IJf' 

II. hrKSADiNC OF KvowLEDCP^— Laiiii cduMilan — Sdioolt and 
lil)r»iric*~Bouk ci>llec(or» : Kicliuil I'f Bmjf— P«ri», ehitf town 
fix Laiin sTudics— The Parii Unlvcrtiiy ; its origin*, leaching, 
and orj^nintion — Fngluih iiudenls at Puu — Oxfonl and C^in- 
btiilire—Sliidie!!, laiUes, fen*ls— Collegei, cheiU. libraries ... 166 

til- I.AiiN Poets.— JoMiih of Exelct iiid the Trojiui war— Epignun- 
matLtis. salirislB. hbiili^t*. &c.— Nigel Wir(k«r and thr ais whou 
I»i1 VIA.' Ii>i> -limit — Thcoiirt : Cvu'Tn'y i3t Viaaajxi und his New 
Am of Poctty iT*! 

IV. Latin Pko^aiois— Talss ako Exrupia.— CsofTrcr of Mon- 
aviiilh- Morilited Ules — "Gcib Rotnanorum" — John of Brem- 
yiud~" KisifU^ '' laics, iabla in piote, minclei «f ihe Vligi&p 
r<imanlic lalcs— A t*iiii ilcctch of tlit " Hcrchani of Venice"— 
John of Saliftbury ; Walter Map— Their picliim of cnnteniponij 

mAnnrtii iSti 

V. Til lOLOGiANs, Ji/miTS, Scientists, Historians. — Tlix 
"I'oclore"; Scot. Bocoai Ockham, Bradwaidinc. &&— 
Caildctden the phyiictan— Baitholatnew the cDcyetopeediii-~ 
K.tman Iaw and Kn(;tiib law — Vacariiu, GUnvilIt, Bncton, &&[ 
History — Cooipotilion of cliruiiiclet in nioniLiIcrie> — IiDpattUlitf 
•i\ thiwaiclen—Their idea of hlMurical art— Henry of tluntliiedonr 
WilUam of Malnicitbiiry. Matrhew Pari»— Ohwrvaiion of mamicrt, 
preatn'auon of chaticietiaiic aneoiolex, allempi to paint with 
Ciut«an->fligden, WaliinKlun and othen 

uteraturk in the ENGUSH LAKGUAGE. 

I. p]"US LlTKJtaiUBK.— A period of ailcficG—Firel worlt*(pion«onetf 
oipied, tnuubted or eompotcd in English aiier the Cuiu|iil->i — 
' ermona — Lives of Kiinta — Ticaliaes of various sort — '' .\ncren 
Kiwle"— Translation of French IrcatiMS — Lili: and works of 
1 Utile of Knmpolc 


II. Worldly Literature.— Adaptntion and imitation of French 
writings — The " Brut " of Layamon — Translation of romuiceB of 
chivalry^ Romances dedicated to heroes of English origin — 
Satirical &bliaux— Renard in English— Lays and tales— Songs 
— Comparison with French chansutis 219 




I. Fdsion of Races and Languages.- Abolition of the present- 

ment of Englisheiy, i340~Survival of the French language in 
the fourteenth century — The decline — Part played by " lowc 
men " in ihe formation of the English language — The new 
vocabulary — The new prosody — The new grammar — The 
definitive language of England an outcome of a transaction 
between the Anglo-Saxon and the French language 235 

II. Political Formation- — The nation coalesces— The lies with 

France and Rome are loosening or breaking — A new source of 
power, Westminster — Formation, importance, privileges of 
Parliament under the Plantagenels — Spirit of the Commons — 
Their Norman bargains — Comparison with France 248 

III. Maritime Power; Wealth and Arts. — Importance of the 

English trade in the fourteenth century — The great traders — 
Tlieii inBuence on State affairs — The English, "rob de lamer" 
— Taste for travels and adventures. 

Arts — Gold, silver and ivory — Miniatures and enameb — 
Architecture — Paintings and tapestries — Comparative comfort of 
houses — The hall and table^ Dresses—The nude — The cult for 
beauty 255 



The Poet of the new nation 267 

I. Youth of Chaucer.— His London life— London in the four- 
teenth century — Chaucer as a page — llis French campaigns — 
Valettus camerae Regis — Esquire — Married life^Poetry & la 
mode — Machault, Deguileville, Froissart, Des Champs, &c. — 
Chaucer's love ditlies— The "Roman de la Rose"— "Book 
of the Duchesse " 268 



II. PixiOD OP THE Mt»tavs TO Fkakcs ahd Italy.— Tlic 

fanclion* of an aailxusador and RitsKngcr^VaricHi* miuion* — 
Chuiuocriii Il»)y, rj7»-3. 1378-9— In flu bum of Iloliwi «n and 
litcniUfC on Qituicrr— Lomilon aezin ; the Cuatom Haute; 
Aldgale— Wntk» of Ihls pcciud— Lciltti aiid lluliiui ideal— The 
godfi of Olympus, the wixAe, th« cli Mi cti—' Imitation of Dantr, 
Pctiarcli, Boccxdo — " Hou« of Fame " ... 



III. TkOILuh and Crisktdb.— Plat derived fiora Boccaccio bat tnna- 
lermed — A nuvi:! jml a draioa — Life nnd vanctf — lieroiMt) and 
ralgarity — Troilu^, l^daiui, Cresuda — Scenes of comedy — 
ACIcnipt at piydiolciKical analysis — A'mwkm In CttMida't reel- 
ings — Hm ineonmancy— Mclancliolyand grarc ending— Differ- 
ence wilh Boccaccio and Pierre de Beouveau 


IV. Endlikk PaaiOD.— Cliauccr n member of Pniliamcnt'— Clerk of 
ihe king's woikii — "Canterbury Tales" — The tnecling al the 
•' TiUrd "— out of obscrwiion— Keiil life, dctiilk— Dillerenc* 
with Froi^ian— Humour, tyinpalhj- — Part alloIUd to "low< 

The collcciions of talcs — The " Decameroa "— Tbe aim »f 
Chnoccr and of Boccacciu— Qiaucei'i vancij' ; spcakcn and 
UUenNs — Dislogucs— Principal txle^— Faceiioutand coancooc* 
— Plain ono — FaJiy Islet— Cummon life — Heroic deedi — 
Grave examplM—Sermon. 

Tbe cue for tiulh— Good tcoic of Chaucer — Ui> iBugua^jc 
and Tciailication — Chtvuccr lui'd the Anglo-Saaoiu — Chaucer and 
the Flench 

V. LAvr VUKS.— Chaucei, King of l^ttvis— Hu rcircai to SL 
Mniy't, Wetiminuei — His duutb — Hit foine ... 




Otppiet and forea trees 

I. HzrucAt. RoMAxr.KS.— Juggler* and minUreIc— Their tifi;. deed*, 
and piivllcget— Decay of Ihe profession towards the tune of tbe 
Rfimi Manet — Rom.-uicwof Ihe " Sir Tbfisw " type — Monotony i 
ioaiic wondcii— Belter uxoMplcs: '' Monc Aiihuie," '* Willi.tfli 
of I'aleine,'' " Gawaytic and tbe Green Kniifhi " — Merits of 
"Gawayne" — Ftum (probably) the tatiie aailior, ■'Pearl," on 
ihi^ death 01 a young maid — Vitian of ibc Cclcwial City 

CONTENTS. . xix 


II. Ahokoejs Ballads and Popular Poetry-— Pctetry at Court 

— The Blafk Prince and the great — Professional poets come to 
the hetp of the great — The Put of Loodon ; its compel itions, 
music and tongs— Satirical sotjgs on women, fiiars, fops, &c. ... 353 

III. Patriotic Poetry.— RoKn Hood— "When Adara delved"— 

Claims of peasants — Answers to the peasants' claims — National 
glories— Adam Davy — Cr&y, Poictiers, Neville's Cross — Lau- 
rence Mi not — Recurring sadness — French answers — Scottish 
answers — Barbour's " Bruce "—Style of Barbour- Barbour and 
Scott 359 

IV. John Gower. — His origin, bmily, turn of mind— He belongs to 

Angevin England- He b trilingual — Life and principal works — 
French ballads — Latin poem on the rising of the peasants, 1381, 
ud on the vices of society — Poem in English, " Confessio 
Amantis" — Styleof Gower— His tales and txempla—Ha fame 364 


L^ngland lirst poet of the period after Chaucer 373 

I. LiPK AMD Works.— A general view — Birth, education, natural 
disposition— Life at Malvern— His unsettled state of mind — 
Curiosities and failures — Life in London — Chantries — Disease 
of the will — Religious doubts — The faich of the simple — His 
book a place of refine for him 374 

11. Analysis of the Visions.— The pilgrims of Langtand and the 
pilgrims of Chaucer — The road to Canterbury and ihe way to 
Truth— Lady Meed \ her betrothal, her trial— Speech of Reason 
—The hero of the work. Piers the Plowman — A declaration of 
duties — Sermons — The siege of hell — The end of life 382 

III. Political Society and Religious Society. — Comparison 
with Chaucer^Lan gland's crowds— Langland an insular and a 
parliamentarian- The " Visions " and the " Rolls of Parliament " 
agree on nearly all points — Langland at one wi(h Ihe Commons 
— Organisation of the Slate — Reforms — Relaiions with France, 
with the Pope — Religious buyers and sellers — The ideal uf 
Langland 388 

■>*■ — 

tV. AiiT A«R Aim.— Diiplicmion of liis )>crsc>iiftlity — '• Nuit <le 
Deccmbie "— Sinccrily — iTieoherences — -Scene-shifting— Joys 
lorblddcn ftnd allowed— A inuttofM Largland— Hit langii^tgc, 
vticalniliii'}'. ili.ileci, veniflnilion — Popiilnilty oftht.- work — Yaax- 
leenlh u)d lUt««nth ccnluriet-^Tlnie of the Rcfoimalion ... 394 


The "fAtheiof EnglinhprnM" 403 

I. TmAHSLATOKii AND At>Ai>TATaRS.— Slowgro^ih of the ut of pro«« 
— Campoiison with Fnmcc 1 histoiuiis ariJ iiuvelbu — SurvirJ of 
LAiin prose— WahinghBm nnd oihcrchroniclets— Thcif rtylean-il 
eloquence — TtamUtoti — Ttcviw — The trAnitation of the TravtU 
of " Mundeville "—The '• Mikiiileville " [noblcm -Jenn <te Hour- 
KOgne and hid jounicj' l)iioi,i|*li lioorks — ImmiHiw tucrcM of ll>« 
Trftvcls— Style of the Eni^lish tianilAtioii —Cbiucct'ft ptose ... 404 

II. Okatoxicai. Akt. — Ciril eloquence ^litnuigucs and 5p<eche> — 
John Bali'-PArliniarntiir^ cluciucntc— A parliimicntary i<ssiuii 
under ihe fliniajjener kin)^ — rrocjamat ion— Opening »pe«h— 
Flowery specchu* and business tpeechet — I>elwiet ^Answers of 
the Ccmmons— Their Speaker— Gov«mmi;nt oiatots, Knyv«i, 
Wykeliknit &c- — Uppoiiiti<7n oralora, Pctcc dc lu Mate — Bargains 
«nd icinonMrnnccs— Attitiiiie and power of the Commons — U»c 
of the French Iai)guaj;e— Speeches in English ... 41a 

111. Wtclif. [Ii« Life — Hit parenUgr— Studies ol Oxford— Hii 
ehamctnr — Ftinciioni and di^ieicc^Kirsl difficnhie* with the 
tdigiciui authority— Scene in St. I'aul'i- I'ftpal bulU— Scene 
at Latntbcth— The " wnipl'? priest) "—Attacki agMnit doemu — 
Life &t Luitcrwonh— Death ,.. ... ... 4» 

rv. Latix Wokks of Wvcup.— Hb La:b — Hia thtory of ibe 
iTmnrniMM'— llii stalling -puin I : Ihc thtory ol Fiwtalph — 
Extreme, !houi;h l^icnl. conB«quence of the rlocirinc ; com- 
rouniBQi — Qiistilimtions ami «llenualioiui — Tendency towaids 
Royal KH pre mocy *»T 

V. Enolisii Worksop WrcLiF.— lit want* lobe underalood by ill- 
He liaiuktcs the Rihie — ^Popularity of ihe tmiitdalioo—Scrinona 
and iteoiise*— Hii ttyle— Huniout, rloqnence, plain dealings 
Pnradoxes and atopics— Lollards— His de*cendsm« in Bohemia 
wul cl*tw)iCic IJl^ 





II. Oitir.iNS. Civil Sources. — Mimes uid histrioiu— Amasements 
and sights pTorided by hislrioEM — How they raise a Uogli— 
Facetious tales tald with appropriBte gestures — Dialogues and 
lepaitees — Parodies and caricatures — Eaily interludes — Licence 
of unnseis — Bacchanals in churches and cemeteries — Holy things 
derided — Feasts of various sorts— Processions and pageanto^ 
"Tableaux Vivants" — Compliments and dialogues — Feasts at 
Court— "Masks" 439 

IL Religious Sources.— Man— Dialogues introduced in the Christ- 
mas terrice — The Christmas cycle (Old Testament) — The Eastei 
cycle (New Testament). 

The religious drama in England — Life of St. Catherine {twelfth 
century) — Popularity of Mysteries in ihe fourteenth century — 
Treatises concerning those representations — Testimony of Chaucer 
William of Wadinglon — Collection of Mysteries in English. 

Performances — Playos, scaffolds or pageants, dresses, boxes, 
■cenery, machinery — Miniature by Jean Fouquet— Incoherences 
and anachronisms 456 

('<rs' feelings and tastes — Sin and redemption — Caricature of 
kings — Their "boast" — Their use of the French tongue— They 
have to maintain silence — Popular scenes — Noah and his wife — 
The poor workman and the taxes— A comic pastoral — The 
Christmas shepherds — Mak and the stolen sheep 476 

IV. Decav op the Mudi^val Stage.— Moralities— Personified ab- 
siraciions — The end of Mysteries — They continue being per^ 
fbnned in the time of Shakespeare 489 



I. Decline. — Chaucer's successors — The decay of an is obvious even 
10 them — The society for which they write is undeiguing a trans- 
formation — Lydgate and Hoccleve 495 

II. Scotsmen. — They imitate Chaucer but wiih mote freedom — James 
I. — Blind Harry — Henryson^Thc town mouse and the country 
moose — Dunbar — Gavin Douglas — Popular ballads — Poetry in 
the flamboyant style 503 



III. Material wblpake ; Prose. — Devdopment of the lower and 

middle class— Results of the wais — Trade, luvy, wviiigs. 

Books of courtesy— Familiar letters ; Paiton Letters— Guide* 
for the tiaveller and trader— Fortescue and his praise of English 
insliluiioDS — Pecockand his defence oflhe clergy — His style and 
humour — Compilers, chroniclers, proiators of vanoas sort — 
Malory, Caxton, Juliana Bemen, Capgrave, &C. 513 

IV. The Dawn of the Renaissance.— The literary movement in ■ 

Iialy— Greek studies— Relations with Eastern men of letters — 
Turkish wars and Greek exiles — Taking of Constantinople h$ 
Mahomet II. — Consequences felt in Italy, France, and England. 533 

Index 527 





The people that now occupies England was formed, like the 
French people, by the fusion of several superimposed races. 
In both countries the same races met and mingled at about 
the same period, but in different proportions and under 
dissimilar social conditions. Hence the striking resem- 
blances and sharply de6ned contrasts that exist in the 
genius of the two nations. Hence also the contradictory 
sentiments which mutually animated them from century 
to century, those combinations and recurrences of esteem 
that rose to admiration, and jealousy that swelled to hate. 
Hence, again, the unparalleled degree of interest they offer, 
one for the other. The two people are so dissimilar that in 
borrowing from each other they run no risk of losing their 
national characteristics and becoming another's image; and 
yet, so much alike are they, it is impossible that what they 
borrowed should remain barren and unproductive. These 
loans act like leaven : the products of English thought 
during the Augustan age of British literature were mixed 
with French leaven, and the products of French thought 
during the Victor Hugo period were penetrated with 
English yeast. 

Ancient writers have left us little information concerning 
the remotest period and the oldest inhabitants of the 



British archipelago ; works which would be invaluable to 
U3 exist only in meagre fragments. Important gap^ have 
fortunately been filled, owing to modem Science and to 
her manifold researches. She has inherited the wand of 
the departed wizards, and has touched with her talisman 
the gale of sepulchres; the tomb< have opened and the 
dead have spoken. What countries did thy war-ship 
visit ? she inquired of the Scandinavian viking. And in 
answer the dead man, asleep for cenluiies among the rocks 
of the Isle of Skye, showed golden coins of the caliphs in 
his skeleton hand. These coins are not a figure of speech ; 
ihey arc real, and may be seen at the Edinburgh Museum, 
The wand has loiithed old undccii>hered manuscripts, and 
broken the charm that kept them dumb. From them rose 
songs, music, lovc-dittics, and war-cries : phrases so full of 
life that the living hearts of to-day have been stirred by 
them ; words with so much colour in them that the land- 
scape familiar to the eyes of the Celts and Germans has 
reappeared before us. 

Much remains undiscovered, and the dead hold secrets 
they may yet reveal. In the unexplored tombs of the 
Nile valley will be found ont; day, among the papyri 
stripped from Ptolemaic rnummie.>i, tlie account of a journey 
made to the British Isles about 330 B.C, by a Greek of^ 
Marseilles named Pytheas, a contein|»)rary of .■^ristolle 
and Alexander the Great, of which a few sentences only 
have been preserved.' put even now the darkness which , 
enveloped the origin has been partly cleared away. 

To the primitive population, the least known of all, that' 
reared the stones of Carnac Jn France, and in England the 
gigantic circles of Stonehcngc and Avcbury, succeeded in 

* On Pytheu, »« Elton, "OriEin* of KnElinh HUiory." Londnn, 1890, 8vo 
[3nd eJ.Ji PP- 13 '"(I following. He viuied ih« ci>uit of !>|Min, Gaul, Briuin, 
and fcliiriiMl by ihr .ShdUndE. The pa«Mi|^ii of his jouical pie»cr%e<l for i 
hy the >DcientA »rc given on pp. 400 and 401. 


both countries, many centuries before Christ, the Celtic 

The Celts (jceXrai) were thus called by the Greeks from 
the name of one of their principal tribes, in the same way 
as the French, English, Scottish, and German nations 
derive theirs from that of one of their principal tribes. 
They occupied, in the third century before our era, the 
greater part of Central Europe, of the France of to-day, 
of Spain, and of the British Isles. They were neighbours 
of the Greeks and Latins ; the centre of their possessions 
was in Bavaria. From there, and not from Gaul, set out 
the expeditions by which Rome was taken, Delphi plun- 
dered, and a Phrygian province rebaptized Galatia, 
Celtic cemeteries abound throughout that region; the most 
remarkable of them was discovered, not in France, but at 
Hallstadt, near Salzburg, in Austria.' 

The language of the Celts was much nearer the Latin 
tongue than the Germanic idioms ; it comprised several 
dialects, and amongst them the Gaulish, long spoken in 
Gaul, the Gaelic, the Welsh, and the Irish, still used in 
Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. The most important of 
the Celtic tribes, settled in the main island beyond the 
Channel, gave itself the name of Britons. Hence the 
name of Britain borne by the country, and indirectly 
that also of Great Britain, now the official appellation 
of England. The Britons appear to have emigrated 
from Gaul and established themselves among the other 
Celtic tribes already settled in the island, about the third 
century before Christ. 

During several hundred years, from the time of Pytheas 
to that of the Roman conquerors, the Mediterranean world 
remained ignorant of what took place among insular 

' See, on this sabjecl, A. Beilrand, " La G.iule avant les Gaulois," Paris, 
1891, 8vo (2nd ed), pp. 7 and 13; D'Arbois de Jubainville, " Revue His- 
toriquc," January- February, rS86. 


Britons, and we are scarcely better informed than the/i 
were. The centre of human civilisation had been moved 
from country to country round the yreat inland sea, 
having now reached Rome, without anything being Unown 
save that north of Gaul existed a vast country, surrounded 
by water, rich in tin mines, covered by forests, prairies, and 
morasses, from which dense mists arose. 

Three centuries elapse ; the Romans are settled in Gaul. 
Csesar, at the head of his legpons, has avenged the city for 
the insults of the Celtic invaders, but the strife still con 
tinucs; Vercingetorix has not yet appeared. Actuated by 
that sense of kinship so deeply rooted in the Celts, the effects 
of which ate still to be seen from one shore of the Atlantic 
to the other, the Britons had joined forces with their com- 
patriots of the Continent against the Roman. Car»ar 
resolved to lead his troops to the other side of the Channel, 
but he knew nothing of the country, and wished first to 
obtain information. He questioned the traders ; they told 
him little, being, as they said, acquainted only with the 
coa^its, and that slightly. Csesar embarked in the night of 
August 24th-25th, the year 55 before our era ; it took him 
somewhat more time to cross the strait than is now needed 
to go from Paris to London. His expedition was a real 
voyage of discovery ; and he was careful, during his two 
sojourns in the island, to examine as many people as posi- 
siblc, and note all he could observe concerning the customs! 
of the natives. The picture he draws of the former inhabi- 
tants of England strikes us to-day as very strange. "The 
greater part of the people of the interior," he writes, "do 
not sow ; they live on milk and flesh, and clothe them- 
selves in skins. All Britons stain themselves dark blue 
with woad, which gives them a terrible aspect in battle. 
They wear their hair long, and shave all their body except' 
their hair and moustaches." 

Did we forget the original is in Latin, we might thin 




the passage was extracted from the traveU of Captain 
Cook ; and this is so true that, in ihe account of his first 
joufDcy around the world, the great navigator, an arriving 
at the island ofSavu, notices the similitude himself. 

With the exception of a few details, tlie Celtic tribes of 
future Kngland were similar to those of future Krancc.' 
Brave like them, with an undisciplined impetuosity that 
often brought them to grief (the impetuosity of Poictiers 
and Nicopolis), curious, quick-tempered, prompt to quarrel, 
they fought after the same fashion as the Gauls, with the 
same arms; and in the Witham and Thames have been 
ftiund bronze shields similar in shape and carving to those 
Rraven on the triumphal arch at Orange, the image of 
which has DOW recalled for eighteen centuries Roman 
triumph and Celtic defeat Horace's saying concerning 
the Gaulish ancestors applies equally well to Britons: 
never "feared they funerals."" The grave was for thera 
without terrors ; their faith in the immortality of the ^oul 
absolute ; death for them was not the goal, but the link 
between two existences ; the new life was as complete and 
desirable as the old, and bore nn likeness to that subter* 
ranean existence, believed in by the ancients, partly 
localiscfl in the sepulchre, with nothing sweeter in tt than 
those sad things, rest and oblivion. According to Celtic 
belief, the dead lived again under the light of heaven ; they 
did not descend, as they did with the Latins, to the land 
of shades. No Briton, Gaul, or Irish could have under- 

* *' nn>iimi Callb. c( uniile* «unt . . • Srimu tuud multum Jiveniu ; in 
depmoendlB pcriciiti* mlcm ludacia . . . plui lamen Tfrocuv Britanni prx- 
lomai, atquMBondnm long* pax emAllictii . . . mnnrnt quaWGKnifuenint." 
Tubiui, "^riooU," xi. *■ .lidUicia f«rc Gnllicu coauiniliB," Czmc "De 
Bella Gollico," v. Tie aouth wm occupied \y] (jauU whu lud come &om 
the Caotiaent ai a recent poJod. Tbc Iceni wcie a Gallic uibc ; the Trino- 
tuitea wne Gallo-Brlgv. 

* " Te Doa pavcnds fnncn GaJliK 
Dimque tclluR audit Hthcii;^.'' 

("Ad Augus[ura,"Odei, iv. 14.) 


stooid the melancholy words of Achilles: "Seek not. glorious 
Ulysses, to comfort me for de;itli ; rather would I till the 
ground for wages on some poor man's small estate than reign 
over all the dead." * The race was an optimistic one. It 
made the best of life, and even of death. 

These beliefs were carefully fostered by the druids, 
priests and philoHOphcrs, whose part has been the same in 
Gaul, Ireland, and Britain. Their teaching was a cause of 
SLiprise and admiration to the Latins. "And you, druids," 
exclaims I.ucan. "dwelling afar under the broad trees of 
till- iacrcd 'proves, according to you. the departed visit not 
the silent Krebua, nor the dark realm of pallid Philo ; the 
same spirit animates a body in a different world. Death, 
if what you say is true, is but the middle of a long life 
Happy the error of those thai live under Arcturus ; the 
worst of fears is to them unknown— the fear of death 1 " • 

The inhabitants of Britain posfiessed. again in common 
with those of Gaul, a singular aptitude to understand 
and learn quickly. A short time after the Roman Con- 
quest it becomes hard to distinguish Celtic from Roman 
workmanship among the objects discovered in tombs. 
Caesar is astonished to see how his adversaries improve 
under his ej-es. They were simple enough st first ; 
now they understand and foresee, and baffle his militar}' 
stratagems. To this intelligence and curiosity is due, with 
all its advantages and drawbacks, the faculty of assimila- 

• "Od)we)f,")ci. 1.488 ir. 

* *' Et TO* . . . DruidA , . . 
. . , nenioia olta rciriuii> 

Incoliti» lucit, i-obU aiicioiJlHiCi «mbne 

Non ueitBs Y,n\» xwlct, Ditiiqne profundi 

Pallida Mgna pelunt i Ktiil idcni tptiiliu Alia* 

Orbc alio 1 longm (anitin >i cuK"tia) vluc 

Mm media nl. Ccrlt (wprili quo* dnpicil Aretot. 

Kdion enure luo, ijuux lllu umnmin 

Mnximus, hautt uiget l<eti nitlut." 





tion possessed b/ this race, and manifested to the same 
extent by no other in Europe. 

The Latin authors also admired another characteristic 
gift in the men of this race : a readiness ot speech, an 
eloquence, a promptness of repartee that distinguished 
them from their Germanic neighbouni. The people of 
Gaul, said Cato, have two passions: to fight well and talk 
cleverly {arguu logutj.* This is memorable evidence, since 
it reveals to us a quality of a literary order : we can ea^^ily 
verify its truth, for wc know now in what kind of composi- 
tions, and with what talent the men of Celtic blood exer- 
cised their gift of speech. 


That the Celtic tribes on both sides of the Channel closely 
resembled each other in manners, tastes, language, and 
turn of mind cannot be doubted. " Their languaf^c diners 
little," says Tacitus ; "their buildings are almost similar,"* 
says Cxsar The nimilitude of their literary genius is 
equally certain, for Cato's <;aving relates to continental Celts 
and can be checked by means of Irish poems and tales. 
WcUh 8torie:t of a later date afford us evidence fully as 
conclusive. If wc change the epoch, the result will be the 
same ; the main elements of the Celtic genius have under- 

' '* Plenque Cktlia duM ta iniliuirimininic perte(|uitur. rem miliioKm et 
at^-uU' lo(]ui>" '' Ori^m," qucied by the (•roniinarijui CharUlux. In Caio's 
time (thitd-ttcond erntunes H.c.) the word Ga.Ilia h«d not the rctmeiod horm 
i( htd aAe> Ctnar, Uil dcii^cd the whole of ihc Celtic counirics oF th« 
Cnnlbient. The inccnuity of the Cells manifntcd h.iclf alw in ihcir tnw«: 
" fxoa M Iniellectiul point of new, ttii^ bwi ul ihc WcUli ice lltcii icieateai 
tilk to gkry. The tmi'nrni C«rrn*n jurist, F. Walncr. pomi* out thai, in 
thb fopecl, the WcUh are Isr ta advance of the other nalian^t of rhe 
MidiJlc Acn. Tbcf ifive pnraf of a Mn|[ulai prcciuQn aod wUlei; of cnind, 
and ■ gttM aptitude kit philmuphk: ■prculiiioii," ''Les Mabtnogitni," bjr 
IxM. V»tw. 1S89. 3 vols, fko, vol. j. p. 7. 
* See im^, p. 7, note. 



gone no modification; Armoricans, Rritons, Welsh, Irish, 
and Stxjtch, arc all inexhaustible tale-tellers, skilful in 
dialogue, prompt at reiwrtee, and never to be taken un- 
awares. Gerald de Barry, the Welshman, gives us a 
description of his countrymen in the twelfth century, which 
seems a paraphrase of what Cato had said of the Gaulish 
Celts fourteen hundred years before.' 

Ireland has preserved for us the most ancient monu- 
ments of Celtic thought. Nothing has reached lis of those 
"quantities of verses" that, according to Casar, the druids 
taught their pupils in Gaul, with the command that they 
should nc\-er be written.* Only too well was the injunc- 
tion obeyed. Nothing, again, has been transmitted to us 
of the improvisations of the Gallic or British bards {^apiai\ 
whose fame was known to, and mentioned by, the ancients. 
In Ireland, however. Celtic literature had a longer period 
of development. The country was not affected by the 
Roman Conquest ; the barbarian invasions did not bring 
about the total ruin they caused in England and on the 
Continent. The clerics of Ireland in the seventh and 
eighth centuries committed to writing the ancient epic 
taks of their land. Notwithstanding the advent of Chris- 
tianity, the pagan origins constantly reappear in these 
narratives, and we are thus taken back to the epoch when 

* " Oe curia vera ec famitia viri, ui ec cirnimiianiibuB riwim movoaiil libique 
loquentJn kudem comparent. ^eliaiu in sermone plutiinani obscrianl ; dust 
vel »nl», v<l ladona, nunc Levi nunc mordafi, lub j^quivootionii vel amphi- 
bolK ncbuli, Klaltuiic OivciM, inLuspasitiuiic vciburuni el tnijcctioDs, nibtUct 
et dtcaocs tmLuuni.' And lie cLie» rtufftpln o( thric wiliicUnu. " Dc- 
tcripiio Kambritr," chap. xiv,. Dr Trrboruin facciia ei urbuniuu. ■ Opvn," 
Br«wrr. 1S61-91, 8 vok, vol. vi., RoUk. 

' He skyt, in refeirncc lu die pupilt of ihc Druidi, " Dc EEfllo Galileo," 
book vt. ; '' Magnum ibi nuinctvm vcnuuni «di«ccic dicuntur, iu^uc noaoulU 
unoi vkcnoi in di»rip1ina prmianeni ; ncquc fn* c»c atiacinuuil ea liitcris 
mondarc." One o( [he leuoiui uf ihb inicnliclion b to guatd agatitii Ibe 
fchotnn eeaxing lo cultiviiv ihcir inemary, a family c«nsld«i«d by the CelU as 
pT (he hiKbul impurtancc. 



they were primarily compOBcd, and even to the time when 
the events related art: supposed to have occurred. That 
time is precisely the epoch of Caisar and of the Christian 
era. Important works have, in our day, thrown a light on 
this literature * ; but all is not yet accomplished, and it has 
been computed that the entire publication of the ancient Irish 
manuscripts would fill about a thousand octavo volumes. 
It cannot be !»aid that the [>coplc who produced these 
works were men of scanty speech \ and here again we 
recognise the immoderate love of talcs and the insatiable 
curiosity that Cxs^ir had noticed in the Celts of the Con- 

Most of those Iriih stories are part of the epic cycle of 
Conchobar and Cuchulainn, and concern the wars of Ulster 
and Connaught. They are in prose, interspersed with 
verse. Long before being written, they existed in the 
shape of well-established texts, repealed word for word 
by men w*hose avocation it was to know and remember, 
and who spent their lives in exercising their memory. 
The corporation of the File, or seers, was divid<;d into ten 
classes, from the Oblar, who knew only seven stories, to 
the Ollatn. who knew three hundred and fifty.^ Unlike the 
bards, the File never invented, they remembered ; they 
were obliged to know, not any stories whatsoever, but 
certain particular talcs ; lists of thetn have been found, 
and not a few of the stories entered in these catalogues 
h*ve come down to us. 

' TlnM. floonc «tben, «f MM. Whitley Siokcs, Rbys. d'Aibolt dcjulnut- 
rille, I^, WioilUch, Zimmcf, NelUu. uid Kiinn-Mcyct. 

' '*Eu auicni buc Gallia: coiisucliwlinis : ui ci vUtore* ttiain invUnt 
COtukl«rv cognni ; ct {[uod qnivjuc tronim At quoquc r« audieiit aul cf^naverit 
c)ti<>tftfll, et vttxtaXosta. in oppidU vulguh rirciiniiiilat : <juibus ck tcsiuuibu) 
vcniuil, 9uax)ue [c» ibi cognovcrint pionunciaic coguit." Book iv. 

' To wil, iwv hundred Roil fifty liiii£ otiil n hDndtcdihon one*. D'Arbaiode 
)ut«inviUe, " lanoduaioo k I'^iude de la Uit^ratun Cetliiiue." Paris, iHlij, 



If we look through the collections that have been made 
of them, we can see that the Celtic authors of that period 
arc already remarkable for qualities have since shone 
wilh extreme brilliancy amouy various nations belonging 
to the sa,me race : the sense of rorm and beauty, the 
dramatic gift, fertility of invention,' This is all the more 
noticeable as the epoch wa^ a barbarous one. and a mul- 
titude of passages recall the wild savagcncss of the people. 
Wc find in these legends as many scenes of slaughter and 
ferocious deeds as in the oldest Germanic poems : Pro- 
vmcia ferox, said Tacitus of Hritain. The time is still 
distant when vvomnii shall become a deity ; die murder of 
a man is compensated by twenty-one head of cattle, and 
the murder of a woman by three head only.* The warlike 
valour of the heroes is carried as far as human nature 
and imagination allow ; not even Roland or Uagnar Lod- 
brok die more heroically than Cuchulafnn, who, mortally 
wounded, dies standing : 

" He fixed his eye on this hostile group. Then he leaned 
himself against the high stone in the plain, and, by means 

• See. with refwrncc O [hi«, the "Navigniinn of MaH-Duin,"«diriMiani(«l 
namlivr, pmhalily compoud in the tenth century, -undtt the farm in which 
wc now poMcu ill but " tlie Ihenc of which is (unOarocnially (MgaD." Here 
are ihc lillea uf sotiie uf ilit chaplcra: "The lalc of l-iiuiiiiuiu a.uu>"Tlie 
iilanJ uf laige biidk — Tho itionttrout horte.— The <lf ainn'« race. — The house 
of ihe ultnon.— ^Tlir innrvcllaui hvM%. — Woiiileiful fenit of the IxntI of tlu 
Ulani). — The hoisc-figbti.— The fiie luiailtand the golden appiei.--Tbc euitle 
guarded by ibe tat. — Tlic fri|-hl(iil tiiill. — The thlaiid of LJack wee|>«!fs." 
TrRnvlaiiori by Lot In " L't!|mpec Celiiquc," tA D'Aibob dc Juhaiunllc, 
VaxM, Htga. 8vo, pp. 449 ff. bee al*o Jnjrcc, "Old Celtic Kcinuuices." 
1879 -, nn the excellence of Ihc memory ol Ifiih utrrtilan, even at Ihe jiKsent 
day, ste Joyce'* Imrodiirtion. 

* D'Artwin dc Jubninvillc, " L'Epop^ Ccltiquc," pp. jLiviii and (alLowiac. 
"Celtic uiairiai^ » a »le. . . . rh]-«i<nl iMtcmity hns not ihc vinic lin- 
poriance m. with lu" ; people arc nut avcrK tu liavini; children frnm their 
poaung |[u<«l. "The qnmitrDuto whether one v, physically ibeir tai her oflen 
I cetlAin senliincnial iiiiemt ; but fat a prariic«l niAii ihit ijuMtion pi«Mii(< 
onl]' a scoonibry iniemii or ercn nunc at all.'' Ibid., pp. xxvU-xnix. 




of his belt, he fa.stcncd his body to the high stone. Neither 
sitting nor lying wouM he die ; but he would die standing. 
Then his enemies gathered round him. They remained 
about hini, not daring to approach ; he seemed to be ^tilt 
alive." » 

At the same time, things of beauty have their place in 
these talcs. There are hirrii and flowers ; women are 
described with Inving admiration ; their cheeks are purple 
•' as the fox-jjlove," their locks wave in the light. 

Above all. such a dramatic gift is displayed as to stand 
unparalleled in any European literalure at its dawn.» 
Celtic poets excel in the art of giving a hYelike repre- 
Acnlation of deeds and events, of graduating their effects, 
and making their characters talk ; they are matchless for 
speeches and quick repartees. Compositions have come 
down to us that arc all cut out into dialogues, so that 
the narrative becomes a drama. In such talcs as the 
" Murder of the Sons of Usncch." or "Cuchularnn's Sick- 
ness," in which love finds a place, these remarkable traits 
arc to be iccn at their best. The story of " Mac Datlio's 
Pig " i* a« powerfully dramatic and savage as the most 
cruel Germanic or Scandinavian songs ; but it is at the 
same time infinitely more varied in tone and artistic in 
shape. Pictures of everyday life, familiar fireside discus- 
sions abound, t<^ethcr with the scenes of blood loved by 
all nations in the season of their early manhood. 

" There was," we read, "a famous king of Leinster, called 
Mac Datha This king owned a dog, Ailbe by name, 
who defended the whole province and filled Erin with his 
lame."i Ailill, king of Coimaught, and Conchobar, king 

• The Mnider of Ciichulaino, " L"ftpo]i#e rekiqne eti Ifbnde," p. 346. 
■ The «m« quality is (oucil in the liierniure ut Utilinny ; the mitjar pan 

of ili monurnait* |cl a 1111110 irtrnl rjiocbl cuniuvl* o\ icligiout dnuuat ir 
nyMcrici- Tlicsi: dramu, mostly ucipublitliciJ, aie cxcccdjiagly numcrmu. 

* '* L'Epup^ Cehiquci" pp. 66 and rollowing. 



of Ulster, claim the dog ; and Mac Datho, much per- 
plexed, consults his wife, who suggests that he should pro- 
mtse Ailbc to both. On the appointcti day, the warriors 
of tiie two countries come to fetch the dog of renown, and 
a grand banquet is served them by Mac Datho, the prin- 
cipal dish of which is a rare kind of pig — " three hundred 
cows had fed him for seven years." Scarcely are the guests 
seated, when the dialogues begin : 

" That pig looks good," says Conchobar. 

" Truly, yes," replies AiliU ; " but, Conchobar, how shall 
he be car\'ed ? " 

" What more simple in this hall, where sit the glorious 
heroes of Erin?" cried, from his couch, Bricriu, son of 
Carbad. "To each his share, according to his fights 
and deeds. But ere the shares are distributed, more 
than one rap on the nose will have been given and 

'•Sobeit,"said Ailill. 

"'Tis fair," said Conchobar. "We have with us the 
warriors who defended our frontiers." 

Then each one rises in turn and claims the honour 
of carving: I did this. — I did still more. — t slew thy 
father. — I slew thy eldest son. — I gave thee that wound 
that still aches. 

The warrior Cct had just told his awful exploits when 
Conall of Ulster rises against him and says: 

"Since the day 1 first bore a spear, not often have I 
lacked the head of a man of Connaught to pillow mine 
upon. Not a singJc day or night has pass<Hl in which I 
slew not an enemy." 

" 1 confess it," said Cet, *" thou art a greater warrior 
than 1 ; but were Aniuan in this castle, he at least could 
compete with thee ; 'tis a pity he is not present." 

" He is here ! " cried Conall, and drawing from his belt 
Anluan's head, he llung it on the table. 


In the " Murder of the Sons of Usnech,"* woman plays 
the principal part The mainspring of the story is love, 
and hy it the heroes are ted to death, a thing not to be 
found elsewhere in the European literature of the period. 
Still, those same heroes are not slight, fragile dreamers ; if 
we set aside their love, and only consider their ferocity, 
they are worthy of the Walhalla of Woden. By the fol- 
lowing example we may see how the insular Celts could 
love and die. 

The child of Fedelmid's wife utters a cry in its mother's 
womb. They question Cathba the chief druid, who 
answers : " That which has clamoured within thee is a 
fair-haired daughter, with fair locks, a majestic glance, blue 
eyes, and cheeks purple as the fox-glove"; and he fore- 
tells the woes she will cause among men. This girl is 
Derdriu ; she is brought up secretly and apart, in order to 
evade the prediction. One day, " she beheld a raven drink 
blood on the snow." She said to Leborcham : 

"The only man I could love would be one who united 
those three colours : hair as black as the raven, cheeks red 
as blood, body as white as snow." 

" Thou art lucky," answered Leborcham, "the man thou 
desirest is not far to seek, he is near thee, in this very 
castle ; it is Nols6, son of Usnech." 

" I shall not be happy," returned Derdriu, "until I have 
seen him." 

NoTs^ justifies the young girl's expectations ; he and his 
two brothers are incomparably valiant in war, and so swift 
are they that they outrun wild animals in the chase. Their 
songs are delightfully sweet. NoYs^ is aware of the druid's 
prophecy, and at first spurns Derdriu, but she conquers 
him by force. They love each other. Pursued by their 
enemies the three brothers and Derdriu emigrate to Scot- 
land, and take refuge with the king of Albion. One day 
' " L'£popee Celtique en Irlande," pp. 217 and following. 



the king's steward " sees Nois^ and his wife sleeping side 
by side. Me went at once and awoke the king. 

•"Till now,* he said, 'never had wc found a woman 
worthy of thee ; but the one who lies in (lie arms of NoTs^ 
is the one for thee, kinp of the West I Cause Nol$£ to be 
put to death, and in;irry his wife' 

" ■ No,' answered the king ; ' but bid her come to me 
daily in secret' 

" The steward obeyed the king's commands, but in vain ; 
what he told Derdriu by day she repealed to her Imsband 
the following night." 

The sons of Usnech perish in an ambush. Conchobar 
seizes on Derdriu, but she continues to love the dead. 
" Derdriu passed a year with Conchobiir ; during that lime 
never was a smile seen on her lips ; she ate not, slept not, 
raised not her head from off her knees. When the musi- 
cianK and jufjylers tried to cHlxt her grief by their play, 
she told ..." she told her sorrow, and all that had made 
the dctiglil of her life " in a time that was no more." 

•■ I sleep not. I dye no more mj' nails with purple ; life- 
less is my soul, for the sons of Usnech will return no more. 
1 sleep not half the night on my couch. My spirit travels 
around the multitudes. But 1 eat not, neither do ] 

Conchobar out of revenge delivers her over for a year 
to the man she most hates, the murdeier of Nois^, who 
bears her off on a chariot ; and Conchobar, watching this 
revolting sight, mocks her misery. She remains silenL 
"There in front of her rose a huge rock, she threw herself 
against it. her head struck and was .-ihattcred, and so she 

An inexhaustible fertility of invention was displayed by 
the Celtic makers. They created the cycle of Conchobar, 
and aftcnvards that of 0.s5ian, to which Macpherson's 
"adaptations" gave such world-wide renown that in our own 





century they directed Lamarline's early .'rtep't towards the 
realms of poetry. Later still they created the cycle of 
Arthur, most brilliant and varied of all, a perennial source 
of poetry, from whence the great French poet of the twelfth 
century sought his in<ipiration, and whence only yesterday 
the poet laureate of England found his. They collect in 
Wales the mar\'c]]ous tales of the " Mabinogion " ' ; in 
them wc find enchanters and fairies, wotncn with golden 
hair, silken raiment, and tender hearts. They hunt, and a 
wliite boar starts out of the bushes ; following him they 
arnve at a castle there, " where never had they seen trace 
of a building before." Pryderi ventures to penetrate into 
the precincts : " lie entered and perceived neither man, nor 
beast ; no boar, t>o dogs, no house, no place of habitiLtion. 
On the ffTound towards the middle there was a fountain 
surrounded by marble, and on the rim of the fountain, rest- 
ing on a marble slab, was a gnhlcn cup, fantened by golden 
chains tending upwards, the ends of which he could not 
see. He was enraptured by the ylitter of the gold, and the 
workmanship of the cup. He drew near and grasped it- 
Al the same instant hi^ hands clove to the cup, and his 
feet to the marble slab on which it rested, He lost his 
voice, and was unable to utter a word." The castle fades 
away; the land becomes a dc-icrt once more ; the heroes 
arc changed into mice: the whole look*i like a fragment 
drawn out of Ariosto, by Perrault, and told by him in his 
ou-n way to children. 

iNo wonder if the descendants of these indefatigable 
inventors arc men with rich literatures, not meagre litera- 
tures of which it is possible to write a history without 

' Ftom " Mabin<^ " apprenlic^-tiari). Thry «« prose natrativpi. of rfivpri 
origin, wiittcit in WcUli. They " appear lo hav« been whiten a.t [he end of 
the twcUlh ceniui;''; the MS. of them irc poMcw i» v'ltie fuuncetilb : tcTcnil 
of the leKctidt in it contain puuuu i^lcnii-iil*. snd taicy us bacli '' lu tIi<; mutt 
dbun) pun or the liiiiory of ih« Cell*." "L« Matinogion," tniMlaied by 
. Lot, wiik conmeitiuj, Pitn», i8^. 7 vol*. Svo, 




omitting anything, but deep and inexhaustible one*. The 
ends of Ihcir golden chains are not lo be seen. And if a 
copious mixture of Celtic blood flows, though in different 
proportions, in the veins of the French and of the English, 
it will be no wonder if they happen some day to produce 
the greater number of the plays that arc acted, and of the 
novels that arc read, all over the civilised world. 


After a second journey, during which he passed the 
Thames. C:tsar departed with hostages, this time never to 
return. The real conquest look place under the emperors, 
beginning from the reign of Claudius, and for three cen- 
turies and a half Uritatn was occupied and ruled by the 
Romans. They built a ntrlwork of roads, of which the 
remains still subsist ; they marked the distances by milfr 
stones, sixty of which have been found, and one, at Chcs- 
terholm. is still standing \ they raised, from one sea to the 
other, against the people of Scotland, two great walls ; one 
of them in stone, Hanked by towers, and protected by 
moats and earth- works.' Fortified after the Roman 
fashion, defended by garrisons, the groups of British huts 
became cities; and villas, similar to those the remains of 
which are met with under the ashes of Pompeii and in the 
sands of Africa, rose in York, Bath, London, Lmcoln.Ciren- 
cester, Alciborough, Wondchcstrr. Bignor, and in a multi- 
tude of other places where they have since been found. 
Beneath the shade of the druidical oaks, the Roman glazier 
blew his light variegated flasks ; the mosaic maker seated 

■ In Kvcral placn have bcm found the <]u«iflc» Ihinn which ifac Moae of 
Hadrian's w.ill wan inkcn. and injcnpiion* branni; the nftim; ol' ihc Ic^ooor 
of (he nfficcf chargpil with txtrafling il ; " Peira KlsvL[i| Caramini," in iho 
quft^ of Kjillowlield. "The ItAnvin VV»1I, a description of the Mural Barrier 
of the N'ottli u( Eucl'oili'* W ■'"-' Kcv.J.C. ])tuct'. LviiUuii, 1867. 4U>(3id 
ci].), (i|i. 141, 144. iSj. Cf. AthcHttuiH, i5ih utd 19th of Jul}', 1S93. 



his panther, with his fingers on the Thi 

fOrphcus on tiis panther, with nis lingers on the ihracian 
lyre. Altars were butit to the Roman deities ; later to 
tlie God of Bethlehem, and one at least of the churches 
of that period still sub^iists, St Martin of Canterbury.' 
Statues were raised for the emperors ; coins were cast ; 
weights were cut ; ore was extracted from the mines ; the 
potter moulded his clay vases, and, pending the time when 
thcj' should be exhibited behind the glasw panes of the 
British Museum, the legionaries used them to hold the 
ashes of tbcir dead. 

However far he went, the Roman carried Rome with 
him ; he required his statues, his coloured pavements, his 
frescoes, his baths, all the comforts and delif^hts of the 
"Latin cities. Theatres, lemples, towers, palaces rose in 
^^K many of the towns of Great Britain, and some years ago 
^^V a bathing room was discovered at Bath ^ a hundred and 
f eleven feet long. Sc\-eral centuries later Gerald de Barry 
I passing through Cacrlcon noticed with admiration " many 
I remains of former gnindt;ur, iriKnen-tc palaces ... a 
I gigantic tower, magni6ccnt baths, and ruined temples." a 
^^LThe cmpcrorit could well come to Britain ; tlicy found 
^^v themselves at home. Claudius, Vespasian, Titus, Hadrian, 
Antoninus Plus came there, either to win the title of " the 
Britannic" or to enjoy the charms of peace, Severus died 
at York in 211, and Caracalla there began his reign. 
Constanttus Chlorus came to live in this town, and died 

■ C F. Rooiredge. " WvtWrf ot St, Martin's Church, Canlerhut)'." The 
ratot of I liny Chrifiiitn ImtiKea, of the lime of th« Komiini. were dJ«covctc<l 
•t Silchntor, in Mky, 1S91. 

* Qnaniitita tA suiucUci. paltcry, glut cup» anJ va«cs, atms utcnslh of all 
kiiub, mndals. itjlrt for writinc. ftncmentt nf onlm-Hl flatim, moulcs, &c., 
fctfc liccn ftiuiul in En|>liincl, aiul arr incwrvcJ in thi? Itrilish Musitrum and in 
th« Cuilillull cA Lotiilun, in the mutfumi nf Oxford and c-f Yoik, in the 
doiitcn M Lincoln, illic. The gr«al [ooiii al Balh wu Hiii:iivcrc<l in 18S0 ; 
the pscina i* in a peircci slUc of prcscrraiioni the cxavations on Mill 
pniV aa (IB94). 

* " limrarivin Cambriic," h. i, chai>. v. 



there; and the prince destined to sanction the Romans' 
change of religion, Constatitine the Great, was protluimcd 
emperor in the same city. Celtic Britain, the Kngland 
that was to be, had become Roman and Christian, a 
country- of land litlers who more or less spoke Latin.' 

But the time of transformation was drawing nigh, and 
an enemy was already visible, against whom neither 
Hadrian's wall nor Antoninu.i' ramparts could pre\'ail ; 
for he came not from the Scottish mouniains but, as 
he himself said in his war-songs, "by the way of the 
whales," A new race of men had appeared on the shores 
of the island. After relating the campaigns of his father, 
in-law, Agricnla, whose fleet had sailed around Britain and 
touched at the Orkneys, the attention of Tacitus had been 
drawn to Germany, a wild mysterious land. He liad 
described it to his countrymen ; he had enumerated its 
principal tribes, and among many others he had mentioned 
one which he calls A»gU. He gives the namr. and say* 
no more, little suspecting the part these men were to play 
in histor>'. The first act that was to make them famous 
througliout the world wa.H to overthrow the political order/ 
and to sweep away the civilisation, which the conquests of 
Agricota had established amongst the Hritons. 

' " Ut qui modo tingiuun abnuelauit, eloquentkm concupiKOBQt : ind* 
eiliun habilui nrntri lionor, et rtet|ucna \o^ ; ptuUaiiiiique disceuum et dilini- 
Bicnt*. vitiatiiiii, porlicui el WlQca, et couvivioium elcg^nluuo-" Tkatv^ 
"AgiicolK Viu,"»xi. 



"To say nothing of the perils of a stormy and unknown 
sea, who would leave Asia, Africa, or Italy for the dismal 
land of the Germans, their bitter sky, their soil the cul- 
ture and aspect of which sadden the eye unless it be one's 
mother country?" Such is the picture Tacitus draws of 
Germany, and he concludes from the fact of her being 
so di-smal, and yet inhabited, that she must always have 
been inhabited by the same people. What others would 
have immigrated there of their own free will ? For the 
inhabitants, however, this land of clouds and morasses is 
their home ; they love it, and they remain there. 

The great historian's book shows how little of im- 
penetrable Germany was known to the Romans. All 
sorts of legends were current respecting this wild land, 
supposed to be bounded on the north-east by a slumber- 
ing sea, " the girdle and limit of the world," a place 
so near to the spot where Phcebus rises "that the sound 
he makes in emerging from the waters can be heard, and 
the forms of his steeds are visible." This is the popular 
belief, adds Tacitus ; " the truth is that nature ends there." " 

In this mysterious land, between the forests that sheltered 
them from the Romans and the grey sea washing with long 
waves the fiat shores, tribes had settled and multiplied 

' " Ce Moribuc Gemumorum," b. ii. chap. xlv. 



which, contrary to the surmise of Tacitus, had perhaps left 
the miM diniate of Asia for this barren countr>' ; and, 
though Ihey had at last made it their home, many of them 
who&e names alone figure in the Roman's book had not 
adopted it for ever ; their migrations were about to begin 

This group of Teutonic peoples, with ramifications ex- 
tending far towards the pule, was divided into two principal 
branches: the Germanic branch, properly so called, which 
comprised the Goths, Angles, Saxons, the upper and tower 
Germans, the Dutch, the Frisians, the Lombards, the 
Franks, the Vandals, &c. ; and the Scandinavian branch, 
settled farther north and comjKJsed nf the Danes, Nor- 
wegians, and Swedes, The same region which Tacitus 
describes as bordering' on the place " where nature ends," 
held thus in his day tribes that would later have for their 
capitals, towns founded long before by Celts: London, 
Vienna, Paris, and Milan. 

Many hundred years before settling there, these men 
had already found themselves in contact with the Celts, 
and, at the time the latter were powerful in Kurope, 
terrible wars liad arisL-n between the two races. But all 
the north-cast, from the Elbe to the Vistula, continued 
impenetrable ; the Germanic tribes remained there intact, 
they united with no others, and alone might have told if 
tilc sun's chariot was really to be seen rising from the 
ocean, and sptashingr the sky with salt sea foam. From 
this region were about to start the wild host destined to 
conquer the isle of Britain, to change its name and 
rebaptize it in blood. 

Twice, during the first ten centuries of our era, the 
Teutonic race hurled upon the civilised worid its savage 
hordes of warriors, streams of molten lava. The first 
invasion was vehement, especially in the fifth century, 
and was principally composed of Germanic tribes, Angles, 


Franks, Saxons, Burgundians, Vandals ; the second 
exercised its greatest ravages in the ninth century, at 
the lime of Charlemagne's successors, and proceeded 
mostly from the Scai>din«vian tribes, called Danish or 
Norman by contemporary chroniclers. 

From the third century after Christ, fermentation begins 
among the former of these two groups. No longer are the 
Germanic tribes content with fi{;hting for their land, retreat- 
ing step by step before the Latin invader; alarming 
symptoms of retaliation manifest themselves, like the 
rumblings that herald the great cataclysms of nature. 

The Roman, in the meanwhile, wrapped in his glory, 
continued to rule the world and mould it to his image; 
he skilfully enervated the conquered nations, instructed 
them in the arts, inoculated them with his vice<t, and 
weakened in them the spring of their formerly strong will. 
They called civilisation, ftttmanilas, Tacitus said of the 
Britons, what was actually "scr\itudc." • The frontiers of 
the empire were now so far distant that the roar of the 
advancing tide scarcely reached Rome, What was over- 
heard of it acted as a ?«tiniulus to pleasure, added point to 
the rhetorician's speeches, excitement to the circus games, 
and a halo to the beauty of red-haired courtesans. The 
Romans had reached that point in tottering empires, at 
which the threat of calamities no longer arouses dor- 
mant energy, but on\y whets and renews the appetite for 

Meanwhile, far away towards the north, the Germanic 
tribes, continually at strife with their neighbours, and 
warring against each other, without riches or culture, 
ignorant and savage, preserved their strength and kept 
their ferocity. They hatud pe^ce, despised the arts, and 
had no literature but drinking and war-songs. They take 
an interest only in hunting and war, said Cxsar ; from their 



earliest infancy they endeavour to harden themselves 
physically.' They were not inventive ; they learned with 
more difficulty than the Celts ; they were violent and irre- 
pressible The little that is known of their customs and 
character points to 6ery souls that may rise to great 
rapturous Joys but have an underlayer of gloom, a gloom 
sombre as the impenetrable forest, sad as the grey sea. 
For them the woods are haunted, the shades of night are 
peopled with evil spirits, in their morasses haLf>divine 
monsters lie coiled. " They worship demons." wrote the 
Christian chroniclers of them with a sort of terror.' These 
men will enjoy lyric songs, but not charming talcs ; they 
are capable of mirth but not of gaiety; powerful but in- 
complete natures that will need to develop fully without 
having to wait for the slow procedure of centuries, an 
admixture of new blood and new ideas. They were to 
find in Hritain this double graft, and an admirable literary 
development was to be the consequence- They .set out 
then to accomplish their work and follow their destiny, 
having doubtless much to learn, but having also something 
to teach the enervated nations, the meaning of a word 
unknown till their coming, the word "•' was" {guerrt,guerra). 
After the time of the invasions " bellicose," " bclliqueux," 
and such words lost their strength and dignity, and were 
left for songsters to play with if they liked ; a tiny pheno- 
menon, the sign of terrible transformations. 

The invadcr.4 bore various names. The boundaries of 
their tribes, as regards population and icrritorj'-, were 
vE^ue, and in nowise resembled tho$e of the kingdoms 
traced on our maps. Their groups united and dissolved 
continually. The most powerful among them absorb thi^r 

* " Viu omnis In vennlionibus atqu* in siadlis t« mllitiuis romthit; ab 
puviilu latxiri oc duritid (tiKicnt." " Ue llcllo Gallico," book vi. 

* " S«3iotics licut omnct fcrc (jcimnniBin incolcnlct PBtionct, Ct Utim 
lerocsa, el cullui ilunomiuin ilnlitii" EginhAtd, " Vtta Karolii" vii. 





neighbours and them tn be fnrgnttcn for a time, their 
names frequently recur in histories ; then other tribes grow 
up ; otiicr names appear, others die ouL Several of them. 
however, have survived ; Angles. Franks. Saxons. Burgun- 
dians, Lombards, Sucvi. anJ Alemaniii, which became the 
names of great provinces or mighty nations. The more 
important of these groups were rather an agglomeration 
of tribes than nations properly so called ; thus under the 
name of Franks were comprised, in the third century, 
the Sicambers, the Chatti, the Chamavi ; while the Sucvi 
united, in the time of Tacitus, the Lombards, ScmnoneK, 
Angles, and others. But all were bound by the tie of a 
common origin ; their passions, customs, and tastes, their 
arms and costumes were similar.' 

Tin's human multitude once put in motion, nothing was 
able to stop it, neitht-r the mililarj' tactics of ilie legions 
nor the defeats which it suffered ; neither rivers nor moun- 
tains, nor the dangers of unknown seas. The Franks, 
before settling in Gaul, traversed it once from end to end, 
crossed the Pyrenees, ravaged Spain, and disappeared in 
Mauritania. Transported once in great numbers to the 
shores of the Euxine Sea, and imprudently entrusted by 
the Romans with the defence of their frontiers, they cm- 
bark, pillage the town^ of Asia and Norihcrn Africa, and 
return to the mouth of the Rhine, Their expeditions 
intercross each other , wc find them cverj'whcrc at once ; 
Franks are seen at London, and Saxons at Angers. In 
406. Gaul is overrun with barbarians. Vandals, Saxons, 
Burgundtans, Alemanni ; every puint uf the territory i.s in 

' The anot or ll|c Franks ind (hoBv ot Ihc Anglo-Suxuiii, (he fi>rm«T pre- 
tnvcd tn live- Muhcuin of .Si. C^misin, And ihc bltcr in thtr Britkh Muicuro, 
•re HBubi. aad tliffcl widelj- from ihote oC llic Ccili. The ihiflds. a part of 
the rt|uiprnro<. wbicli stnotit all ciuliuna 311.- J'uuiid hiclily Mnamcntol. were 
■qiuily plain wiih the Franks and Angtct : die nni^or boM Id the trenite was, 
m (hoM of iMlh iMiions, of iTim. and shaped like a tiide dUti-covn. which hu 
often caoaed them to be catologned ai hctmcla or mililaiy head-pieces. 



flames; the noise of a falling empire reaches St. Jerome, in 
his cell at Bethlehem, and in an eloquent letter he deplores 
the ilisaslcr of Christendnm : "Who could ever have 
believed the day would come when Rome should see war 
at her very gates, and fight, not for glory but for safety ? 
Fight, say I? Nay, redeem her life with treasure."' 

Treasure did not .suffice; the town was taken and re- 
taken. Ataric !iackcd the capital in 410, and Gcnsen'c in 
455. During several centuries all who emerge from this 
human tide, and are able to rule the tempest, are eitlier 
barbarians or crowned peasanls. In the fifth and sixth 
centuries a Frank rciyns at Paris, Clovis to wit , an Ostro- 
goth at Ravenna, Thcodoric ; a peasant at Byzantium, 
Ju.^tinian ; Attila's conqueror, Aetius, is a barbarian , Stiltcho 
is a Vandal in the service of the Empire. A Frank king- 
dom has grown up in the heart of Gaul ; a Visigoth 
kingdom has Toulouse for its capital ; Gcnscric and his 
Vandals arc settled in Carthage; the Lombards, in the 
sixth century, cross the mouivUuns, establish themselves in 
ancient Cisalpine Gaul, and drive away the inhabitants 
towards the lagoons where Venice is to rise. The isle of 
Britain has likewise ceased to be Roman, and Germanic 
kingdoms have been founded there. 

Mounted on their ships, sixty to eighty feet long, by ten 
or fifteen broad, of which a specimen can be seen at the 
museum of Kiel,=» the dwellers on the shores of the Baltic 

■ " [nnumnabilu et (ieroriuimx natianet nniverux Galliu occiiparufit. . • 
Quii hoc ttcdcreC f . . . K<>mam in gremio luo non pro gtotin, wd pro ulule 
pagauc? Imo or [>ti|>narc cjuiden), *ed aurO c( ciincU uipcll«clile vitaiB 
r«diiii«e." EpUtoU cxuii. od Agcnichum, in the " PkliuluKift " of Mikdc, 
«rf, jt»ii.. col. I0S7-*- 

• This «tiii> WAS diKoi-eied in lS6j in a \>tai bog of Scblera ig ; that u in the 
«rf couftlry of Ihc Angln % judging l>y die coins foand ■( ihe i»m« tine, it 
muat belong tolhciKirdecniuty. It<ncuu><9»iiic(m67 ccnUmetref ialenglb, 
3 niccrc*. a ccrlim, in btoidili, and ■ metre I9ccnlin]. in height. Sptdmcm 
of SciuidinavUn kliipi have aUo been dlicoTacil. When % cbicf died his iliip 
ma buried wLih him, u hie diui«t or bona wu in oUier ooanina- A dc- 



and North Sea had at first organised phinderinj^ expedi- 
tions against ihe great island. They came periodically and 
laid waste the coasts ; and on account of them the inhabl- 
tants gave to this part of the land the name ofLil/us Saxeni- 
cum. £ach time the pirates met with less resistance, and 
found the country more disorganised. In the course of the 
6fth ccnmry they saw they had no need to return annually 
to their morasses, and that they could without trouble 
remain within reach of plunder. They settled first in the 
islands, then on the coasts, and by degrees in the interior. 
Among them were Goths or Jutes of Denmark (Jutland), 
Frisians, Franks, Angles from Schlcswig, and Saxons from 
the vast lands between the Klbc and Kliine. 

These last two, especially^ came in great numbers, 
occupied wide territories, f^nd founded lasting kingdoms. 
The Angles, whose name was to remain affixed to the 
whole nation, occupied Northumberland, a part of the 
centre, and the north-east coast, from Scotland to the 
present county of Essex ; the Sa.vons settled further south, 
in the regions which were called from them Fssex, Sussex, 
Middlesex, and Wessex : Saxons of the east, south, 
centre, and west It was in these two groups of tribes, 

tcripdea eJ ■ ScandinaiiBti (an«rni (ili« chief plft««d on hit but, wiih hia irim, 
Md ba>M, IvKCtber wilh a H-ouiKn and miiii: »iiiitiiU Icillcl Jui llic uccuniuul 
hu been IiAiHl<d down to tia In the nairalivc of the Arab Ahmcil [lin FojUn, 
test \ij tbr caliph Al Mniludci, in the tenth ccntuty, ki aiiiti«»iukir lu ■ 
Scandintvinn luog csutiliUiml oa Ihe Uiitkt of tli« \o\^[Jou' Asialifut, 
iSaj, ToL vl. p|>. t6 fi.]. In some cues there wu tui iniomicnt bat no 
JBffaicraliwu vkI tbut U ij ilttt No»« fhlpf hkvc been found- Two of thoe 
predoMf relics trc prucfved in the tniatcum of Chritiiania. One of them, 
diioo*«ral in 1880, oonxinicieil uul of uolten (iliinkji hclil tot[cihcr by iron 
Mik, »tUl nuioed sevenl of iis oart ; ihey were shorn Ecvpn pr(l« long, and 
•nut have bc«n thirty-two, tiilepa on each tide. This mrs«ui(nicnl Mrciiih lo 
hkre been notiiMtl, foi ihc " Ai*glo-^xoD Chronicle " taf\ tlmt AUcnl had ahip* 
built twice the liic of ontinxcjrAhipn, and £avc thi^tu " sixty uus 01 mote" {fu6 
atmo 897 )• A ship coniitrucied on the exncl nvodc) of the ScandinaviiiR jjiiki 
vent fron Bergen to New York at the time of the Chicago Eihibilion, 189]. 
It ««* kmad to be perfectly seaworthy, eveit in rough weuber. 



or kingdoms, that literature reached the greatest develop- 
ment, and it was principally between them also that the 
strug^'k- for supremacy set in, after the conquest. Hence 
the name of Anglo-Saxons generally given to the inhabi- 
tants of the soil, in respect of the period during which 
purely Germanic dialects were spoken in England. This 
composite word, recently the cause of many quarrels, 
has the advantage of being clear ; long habit is in its 
favour ; and its very form suits an epoch when the country 
was not unified, but belonged to two principal agglomera- 
tions of tribes, that of the Angles and that of the Saxons.' 
In the same way as in Gaul, the invaders found them-. 
selves in the presence of n ptjopic infinitely more civilised 
than thcmselve-s, -skilled in the arts, excellent agricullurist.s, 
rich traders, on soil arose large towns that 
tlic Rutnans had fortiBcd, and connected by ruadN. Never 

* It may be mIiI-mI in faivur of thia lame word Ihat i[ U difficult to leplu* 
il by anothci ia cleAr nixl codvcnicnl. S"niB linvc propcocd " Ulii Eitgliih,' 
ui c:iptc9iioa conudcfcd ax having ili« advanui^c af better icpmcaimg tbe 
coiiiiiiuity uf th« nntional liiiioiy. .iml matkinc leu cimikpicuiiukl}' [lie lireak 
occDMuni-il by ihc Noniiuti Coiiquesi. " Annlu-Saiton " bcfoK the CuQijueil, 
" Kngliih" afw?. imp]i(ii a radical chanBo, a wiri of renovation in the |>«opl« 
of Kii);land. Il Ji niitlcd, too, that thi> pcujilc already bare in the day* of 
Kinc Alfred the cinmc of KnglUh. Dul besides tKc above - men liuned rouoni, 
il tuny be pointed uul thai this bicak tuid tlus icuuvaiian aie hisioiical factx 
In Innguitge, fat example, the changes hitv been such thnt. a» it hni been 
juitly olxcTvcd. rlnmicil KnglUh rcfiemble* AngIo*Saxnn leu ihnn ihc lult&it 
of to-diy tucniMcs Lniin. Siill it would not be ooniidticd wi»c on the p«ri 
of the Itnliant In give the niitnc nf " Old rialionx " to ihcif Ruman anccslMt, 
ihoLtch they i|N>ke a liniihit btiKu^e, wore uf ilu uiiic liiood, lived in (he 
■ame land, dnd railed it by the ume name. Ai i'or Alfred, ho call* hiin»elf 
■ometimci king of ihe Sixoii* "lex Saxonunl," toinutiinca king o-f the Angles, 
BOmctimc) king of lh« Anglo-Saioiw : "/I^go Aelfcediu, gratia Uci, Ai^ol 
SaMUDimi rex." .'KiheLsian ni^niii calh himwlf '' rex Ani^l*^xanuin '* 
(Krmtile, "C'odex " ii. p, 1x4: lutein, " AiicHa," i. pi I i d« Gray Birdi, 
" Cartulariiim Sni(<>"iciini," iSSj, ii. p. 333)- They never wll ihetitwlret, a> 
may be believed, "Old ICngliiili." The word, bciidca, i> not of 111 edLiy \x\t. 
In a tcntil work one ol ihc C'caieal hixlotiana gf our day, Mr. Ficcmui, 
■fxikc ol ix-njilc wliu were " lucn of uld Knglith birlli " ; cvtclcuily ii wauM 
have been utnpin and trlnrer to cull them Anglo-Saxon*. 




had they beheld anything like it, nor had they namci for 
such things. They had in consequence to make additions 
to their vocabulary. Not knowing how to designate these 
unfamiliar objects, they left them the names they bore 
in the language of the inhabitants: castmm, strata, Cflloaia; 
which became in their language chesur, street, or strat, as 
in Stratford, and ct^n as in Lincoln. 

The Britons who had taken to the toga — "freqiiens 
toga." says Tacitus — and who were no longer protected 
by the legions, made a vain resistance ; the advancing tide 
of barbarians swept over them, they ceased to exist as 
9 nation. Contributions were levied on the cities, the 
country was laid waste, villas were razed to the ground, 
and on all the points where the natives endeavoured to 
lace the enemy, fearful hecatumbs were slaughtered by 
the worshippers of Woden. 

They could not. however, destroy all ; and here comes 
in the important question of Celtic sur\'ival. Some 
admirers of the conquerors credit them with superhuman 
massacres. According to them no Celt sur\'ived ; and the 
race, wc are told, was cither driven back into Wales or 
destroyed, so that the whole land had to be rcpopulatcd, 
and that a new and wholly Germanic nation, as pure in 
blood as the tribes on the banks of the Elbe, grew up on 
British soil. But if facts are examined it will be found 
that this title to glory cannot be claimed for the in- 
vaders. The deed was an impossible one ; let that be 
their excuse. To destroy a whole nation by the sword 
exceeds human power, and there is no example of it. 
We know, besides, that in this case the ta.«k would have 
been an especially hard one. for the population of Britain, 
even at the time of Carsar, was dccise : haminum infinita 
tnuitUudo, he says in his Commentaries. The invaders, 
on the other hand, found thcm.sclvcs in presence of an 
intelligent, laborious, assiroilahlc race, trained by the 



Romans to usefulness. The first of these facts precludes 
the hypothesis of a general mas-sacrr ; and the second the 
hypothc^i-s of a total expulsion, or of such extinction as 
threatens the inassimilubk native of Australia. 

In reality, all the documents which have come down to 
us, and all the verifications made on the {Ground, contradict 
the theory of an annihilation of the Celtic race. To begin 
with, we can irnayine no systematic destruction after the 
introduction of Christianity among the Anglo-Saxons, 
which tiH>k place at the end of the sixth century. Then, 
the chroniclers sfX!ak of a general cnassacre of the inhabi- 
tants, in connection with two places only : Chester and 
Anderida.' We can asceruin even to-day that in one of 
these cases the destruction certainly was complete, since 
this last town was never rebuilt, and only its site is known. 
That the chroniclers should make a special mention of the 
two massacix:s proves these cases were exccptionaL To 
argue from the destruction of Anderida to the slaughter 
of the entire race would be as Ultlc reasonable as to 
imagine that the whole of the Gallo-Komans were annihi- 
lated because the ruins of a Gallo-Roman city, with a 
theatre seating seven thousand people have been dis- 
covered in a spot uninhabited to-day, near Sanxay in 
Poictou. Excavations recently made in England have 
shown, in a great number of cemeteries, even in the 
region termed LiliHs Saxenicum, where the Germanic 
population was densest, Britons and Saxons sleeping side 
by side, and nothing could better point to their having 
lived also side by side. Mad a wholesale massacre taken 
place, the victims would have had no sepulchres, or at all 
events they would not have had them amongst those of 
the slayers. 

In addition to this, it is only by the preservation of the 

' " Anglo-SutOD Chronicle," KolU, nth anna 491, 




pre-established race that the change in manners and 
customs, and the rapid development of the Anglo-Saxons 
can be expiained. 'ITiese rowing pirates lose their taste for 
mar ittine aUvenniro ; they build no more ships ; their 
intestine quarrels are food sufficient for what is left of their 
warlike appetites. V^Ttence comes it that the instincts of 
this impetuous race are to some degree moderated ? 
Doubllcss from the quantity and fertility of the land they 
had conquered, and from the facility they found on the 
spot for turning that land to account These facilities 
consisted in the labour of others. The taste for agriculture 
did not belong to the race. Tacitus represents the Germans 
as cultivating only what was strictly necessary." The 
Anglo-Saxons found in Britain wide tracts of country tilled 
by romanigcd husbandmen ; after the lime of the first 
ravages thoy recalled them to their toil, but assigned its 
fruits to themselves, Weil, therefore, might the same word 
be used by the conquerors to designate the native Celt and 
the slave. They established themselves in the fields, and 
superintended their cultivation after their fashion ; their 
encampments became boroughs: Nottingham, Buckingham, 
Glastonbury, which have to the present day retained the 
names of Germanic families or tribes. The towns of more 
ancient importance, on the contrary, have retained Celtic 
or Latin names : London, Yorlc, Lincoln, Winchester, Dover, 
Cirencester, Manchester. Sec." The Anglo-Saxons did not 
destroy them, since they arc still extant, and only mingled 

' " D« H(tfn>a« CcTOBnoraai." x*.. »vi. 

* Nani«* of *ilb((«* lecaltinE German cinns or fimilin srv very numcrmi* UQ 
the oBtcni anil wxitbcin cnuia. " They <liuiini4t lapMly &s h-c tiiovc inluitl. 
ami ihrj die away sitogeihci «« «c »pproach ihc purely Celltr wrtt." Fwjr- 
mn iMoiind tuch namK bnve been cuunieiJ. ai wtikli 48 occur m Narlhumlwi* 
tand, li; ia V»rkihire, 76 in Linculnshito. 153 in Noifolk itnd SuHblk. 48 in 
Vmn I. te is Kcnl, 96 in Suhck *n-l Surrey, only 3 nrc hiatA in Cornwall, 6 in 
Curabdtaiuli 24 in Devon, 13 in Warcnicr, a in \VcMnkorcUn<l, and nooe in 
HowbooUl" Grant Allen, " A[i|{lu>SaKun Unuin " (S.I'.C.K.), p. 43. 



in a feeble proportion with their population, having, like all 
Germans, a horror of sojourning in cities. " They Avoided 
them, regarding tlicm as tombs." they thought that to 
live in towns was like burying onescir alive,' The preser- 
vation in England of several branches of Roman industry 
is one proof more of the continuance of city life in the 
island ; had the Uritish artisans not survived the invasion, 
there would never have been found in the tombs of the 
conquerors those glass cups of elaborate ornamentation, 
hardly distinguishable from the products of the Roman 
glass-works, and which the clumsy hands of the Saxon 
were certainly incapable of fusing and adorning.* 

The Britons, then, subsist in large numbers, cvQXi in the 
eastern and southern counties, where the Germanic settle- 
ment was most dense, but they subsist as a conquered rac« ; 
they till the ground in the country, and in the cities occupy 
themselves with manual labour. Wales and Cornwall 
alone, in the isle of Britain, were still places of refuge for 
indc[K!ndcnt Celts. The idiom and tradition.^ of the ancient 
inhabitants were there preserved. In these distant retreats, 
at the foot of the valley of St. David's, beneath 
the trees of Cacrlcon, popular .singers accompany on their 
harps the old national poetns ; perhaps they even begin to 
chaunt those talcs telling of the exploits o( a hero destined 
to the highest renoun In literature. King Arthur. 

* AmtninnuB Marccllinuv : " tpaa oppiiln, iii Hrcumdnta retiii btitU decli- 
nan " ; in tefertrnce to ih« Krnnkx and Alemuini. " Rcram Gnurum," lib. 
xvi.i cap^ ii' Tnciiu* Miys ihe lame thiiti; For ihv whole of [he Gcraians s 
" Nullsfi Gcinianocum puptilis urhci hnltitaii, Miis nuiuiu ol. , . . Caluni 
diicicii ac ctivmi. at frnit, ui ciinpu«. ui ncmiii plnciiji. ViciM locani, noo in 
nDCtrum mureiii. fuiiiieiU ei cohmvni ibuK xditidU; tunm quiique domum 
»paiio ciKuiniliit." " Do Morilius CcrmMionim," xn. 

' It Kcinn impouiljlc i« aOiiiit. ay Iim Ijccn iuesmcd, ihnt ibcne fntJI nli)ccu 
shoald hove been Mrcd fmm ilir iiliindcr and burning oJ the viila> uid pre- 
•crted ti>- Ihe .^nelci-Suont ai curimitits. Glanci wilh kno)», "i larmu," 
abannil in ihi! Ani;lci-Sai(nii ioidIa. and {imllai onea hn,v« li«en Tmind in ih« 
RoiTiiin irjtnti* of au nurlicr ejicich, noialily at Lupins, in the department of tbc 



But in the heart of the country the national tongue had 
been for a long lime constantly losing ground ; the Britons 
had Icamt Latin, many of them ; they now forget it by 
■degrees, as the>' had pro'iously forgotten Celtic, and Icam 
instead the language of their new masters. It was one of 
their national gifts, a precious and fatal one ; they were 
swift to learn. 

In France the result of the Germanic conquest was 
totally drffercnt ; the Celtic language reappeared there 
no more than in England. It has only sur\*ived in the 
extreme west.' But in France the Germanic idiom did not 
overpower the Latin ; the latter persisted, so much .«o that 
the French tongue has remained a Romance language. 
This is owing to two great causes. Firstly, the Germans 
came to France in much smaller numbers than to £ngland, 
and those that remained had been long in contact with the 
Romans ; secondly, the romanising of Gaul had been 
more complete. Of all the provinces of the Empire, Gaul, 
the birthplace of Cornelius Gallus, Trogus I'ompcius, 
Domitius Afer, Petronius. Ausonius, Sidonius Apoltinaris, 
prided itself on speaking the purest Latin, and on producing 
the best poets. Whether wc take material monuments or 
literar>- ones, the difference is the same in the two countries. 
In England theatres, towers, temples, all marks of Latin 
civilisation, had been erected, but not so numerous, massive, 
or strong that the invaders were unable to destroy them. 
At the present time only shapeless remnants exist above 
ground. In France, the barbarians came, plundered, 
burnt, ra/cd to the ground all they possibly could ; but the 
work of destruction was too great, the multitude of temples 
and palaces was more than their strength was equal to, and 
the torch fell from their tired hands. Whereas in England 

' Wh«« iht Celtic element wm reinfoiccd, st ihe commencement of the 
uxth ccniuty, by • conwden-Ue innntcialion of Uritoii) ilriicii fran EaicUnd. 
Hence the unie of Bicta)[ac, given ihcf) for ihc lilt time tn Arniunca. 


excavations are made in order to discover the remains of 
ancient Latin civilisation, in France wc need only raise our 
■eyes to behold them. Could the grave give up a Roman 
of the time of the Cicsars, he would still at this day be able 
to worship his divine emperors in the temples of Nimcsand 
Vicnnc; pass, when entering Reims, Orange, or Saintcs 
under triumphal arches erected by his ancestors ; he might 
recognise their tombs at the " Aliscamps " of Aries ; could 
see A'llicc"! played at Orange, and seated on the gradincs 
of the amphitheatre, facing the blue horizon of ProvencCt^ 
still behold blood flowing in the arena. v| 

Gaul was not, like Britain, disorganised and depriv«t 
of its leyions when the Germanic hordes appeared ; 
the victor had to reckon with the vanquished ; the latter 
became not a slave but an ally, and this advantage, added 
to that of superior numbers and civilisation, allowed 
the Gallo-Roman to reconquer the invader. Latin tradi- 
tion was so powerful that it was accepted by Clovis 
himself. That long-haired chieftain donned the toga and 
chlamys; he became a patrict ; although he knew by 
experience that he derived his power from his sword, 
it pleased him to ascribe it to the emperor. lie had 
an instinct of what Rome was. The prestige of the 
emperor was worth an army to him, and assisted him to 
rule his latinised subjects. Conquered, pillaged, sacked, 
and ruined, the Eternal City still remained fruitful within 
her crumbling walls. Under the ruins subsisted living 
seeds, one. amongst others, most important of all. containing 
the great Roman idea, the notion of the State. The Celts 
hardly grasped it, the Germans only at a late period. 
Clovis, barbarian though he was, became imbued with it. 
He endeavoured to mould his subjects, Franks, Gallo- 
Komans, and Visigoths, so as to form a State, and in spite 
of the disasters that followed, his efTorts were not without 
some durable results. 


In France the vanquished taught the victors their 
language ; the grandsons of Clovis wrote Latin verses ; 
and it is owing to poems written in a Romance idiom 
that Karl the Frank became the " Charlemagne " of legend 
and history ; so that at last the new empire founded in 
Gaul had nothing Germanic save the name. The name, 
however, has survived, and is the name of France. 

Thus, and not by an impossible massacre, can be 
explained the different results of the invasions in France 
and F,ngland. In both countries, but less abundantly in 
the latter, the Celtic race has been perpetuated, and the 
veil which covers it to-day, a Latin or Germanic tissue, is 
neither so close nor so thick that we cannot distinguish 
through its folds the forms of British or Gaulish genius ; a 
very special and easily recognisable genius, very different 
from that of the ancients, and differing still more from that 
of the Teutonic invaders. 




Towards the close of the fifth century, the greater part 
of England was conquered ; the rulers of the land were 
no longer Celts or Romans^ but men of Germanic origin, 
who worshipped Thor and Woden instead of Christ, and 
whose language, customs, and religion differed entirely 
from thase of the people they had settled amongst arxl 

The force of circumstances produced a fusion of the 
two races, but during many centuries no literary fusiorv 
look place. The mind of llie invader was not actuated 
by curiosity ; he intrenched himself in his tastes, content 
with hb own literature. " Each one," wrote Tacitus of 
the Germans, *' leaves an open space amund his dwelling." 
The Anglo-Saxons remained in literature a people of 
isolated dwellings. They did not allow the traditions of 
the vanquished Celts to blend with theirs, and, in spttd'j 
of their conversion to Christianity, thej' preserved, almost 
without change, the main characteristics of the race from 
which they were descended. 
X Their vocabulary, save for the introduction of a few 
wofds, taken from the Church Latin, their grammar, their 
prosody, all remain Germanic In their verse the cadence 


is marked, not by an equal number of syllables, but by 
about the same number of accents ; they have not the 
recurring sounds of rhyme, but they have, like the 
Germans and Scandinavians, alliteration, that is, the 
repetition of the same letters at the beginning of certain 
syllables. "Each long verse has four accented syllables, 
while the number of unaccented syllables is indifferent, 
and is divided by the cxsura into two short verses, bound 
together by alliteration : two accented syllables in the first 
short line and one in the second, beginning with any vowel 
or the same consonant " » (or consonants giving about the 
same sound) : 

^lod under ^Idan * nil that ^eot heonon. 

" The water sinks undei^round ; it is not far from here." 
{Beowuif.) The rules of this prosody, not very difficult 
in themselves, are made still easier by a number of 
licenses and exceptions. The taste for alliteration was 
destined to survive ; it has never completely disappeared 
in England. We find this ornamentation even in the 
Latin of poets posterior to the Norman Conquest, like 
Joseph of Exeter in the twelfth century : 

^Kdit «t (ikdet 
Dux^U : ^^tuque^vet quum^ta recuset.* 

The famous Visions of Langland, in the fourteenth 
century, are in alliterative verse ; under Elizabeth allitera- 
tion became one of the peculiarities of the florid prose 

■ H. Sweet, " Sketch of the Histoiy of Anglo-Saxon poetry," in Hazlilt's 
Warton, ii, p. 3, 

' " De Btllo Ttojano," iii., line 108, Rhyme, however, commenced to 
appear in a few Chrittian poems ol the end of the Anglo-Saxon period. 
On the use, rather rare, of alliteration in old French, which nevertheless ha^ 
been preserved in several current expressions, such as " gros et gras," " bel et 
bon,"&c-, see Paul Meyer, "Romania," vol. xi. p. 572: " De ralUl^ialion en 
Roman de France." 



called Euphuism. Nearer to our own time, Byron make 

& frequent use of alliteration : 

Out bay 
Rt^dre* that prow which proudljr xpurnt ihc spray i 
How glorion&l)' hri gtllani coutk hKc uots : 
Her white winfru Rying— never Irom her foe*. tCt^tair.j 

iThe purely Germanic period of the literary history of 
England lasted six hundird years, that i^ for about the 
same length of time as divirles us from ihe reign of Henry _ 
III. Rarely has a literature hceii more consistent with f 
itself than the literature of the Anglo-Saxons They were 
not as the Celts, quick to learn ; they had not the curiosity, 
loquacity, taste for art which were found in the subjugated 
ntce; They developed slowly. Those steady qualities 
which were to save the Anglo-Saxon genius from the 
absolute destruction which threatened it at the time of 
the Norman Conquest resulted in the production of 
literary works evincing, one and all, such a similitude 
in tastes, tendencies, and feelings that it is extremely 
difficult to date and localise them. At the furthest end 
of the period, the Anglo-Saxons continued to enjoy. 
Christian as they were, and in more and more intimate 
contact with latinised races, Icgetids and traditions going 
back to the pagan days, nay, to the days of their conli. 
nental life by Ihe shores of the Baltic I.ate manuscripts 
have preserved for us their oldest conceptions, by which 
is shown the continuity of taste for thetn. The early 
pagan character of some of the poetry in " Beowulf," in 
" Widsith," in the " Lament of Deor," is undoubted ; still 
those poems continued to be copied up to the last ccnturj' 
of the Anglo-Saxon rule; it is, in fact, only in manuscripts 
of that date that wc have them. An immense amount of 
labour, ingenuity, and knowledge has been spent on ques- 
tions of date and place, but the difficulty is such, and that 
literature forms such a compact whole, that the best and 


highest authorities have come on all points to contrary^ 
conclusions. The very yreatness of their labour and 
amplitude of their .science happens thus to be the best 
[■proof of the singular cohesion between tlie various produce 
of the Anglo-Saxon mind. Of all the poets of the period, 
the one who had the strongest individuality, as well as the 
greatest genius, one whom wc know by name, Cyncwulf, 
the only one whose works arc authentic, being signed, 
, who thus offered the best chance to critics, has caused as 
many dt.sagrecmcnts among them as any stray leaf of 
parchment in the whole collection of Anglo-SaNun poetry. 
According to Ten Hn'nk he was bom between 720 and 
730 ; according to Earic he more probably lived in the 
elc\'cnth century, at the other end of the period.' One 
authority sees in his works the characteristic* of the 
poetry of Northumbria, another inclines loivard-i Mercia. 
All possible dates have been a.ssigned to the beautiful 
[poem of " Judith," from the seventh to the tenth century. 
'" Beowulf" was written in Northumbria according to 
Stopford Brooke, in Mercia according to Eaile. in We^ex 
according to Ten Brink. The attribution of " Andreas " to 
Cynewulfhas just been renewed by Gotlancr. and denied 
by Fritzsche. "Dream of the Roo<I" follows .^milar 
fluctuations. The truth is that while there were doubtless 
movement and development in Anglo-Saxon poetry, as 
in all human things, they were very slow and difficult to 
measure. When material facts and landmarks arc dis* 
covered, still it will remain true that till tlicn authorities, 
judging poems on their own merits, could not agree as 
to their classification, so little apparent was the movement 
they represent Anglo-Saxon potlr>- is like the river 
Saone; one doubts which way it flows. 

■ " Mil dale ius tccQ vuiouUy cntimaicd from the eighth lo the tlo'cnib 
ccniiity. The Unci iii the more pioUible." Eorle. " Anglo-Suai) Lilera- 
turc," it;<4.|>- 31&. 



Let us therefore take this literature as a whole, and 
^nfess that the division here adopted, of national and 
worldly and of religious literature, is arbitrary', and is 
merely used for the sake of convenience. Reiigious and 
worldly, northern and southern literature overlap ; but they 
most decidedly belong to the same Anglo-Saxon whole. 

This whole has strung characteristics of its own, a force, 
a passion, a grandeur, unexampled at that day. Contrary 
to what is found in Celtic literature, there is no place in 
the monuments of Anglo-Saxon thought for either light 
gaiety, or those shades of feeling which the Celts could 
already express at that remote period. The new settlers 
arc .'Strong, but not agile. Of the two master passions 
attributed by Cato to the inhabitants of Gaul, one alone, 
the love of war, rem mt/itarem, is shared bj' the dwellers 
on the shores of the northern ocean ; the other, argute 
hqui, is unknown to then. 

Members of the same family of nations established by 
the shores of the North Sea, as the classic nations were on 
the Mediterranean coasts in the time of the emperors, the 
Anglo-Saxon, the German, and the Scandinavian tribes 
spoke dialects of the same tongue, preserved common 
traditions and the memory of an identical origin. Grein 
has collected in his " Anglo-Saxon Library " all that 
remains of the ancient literature of England ; Powell and 
Vigfusson have comprised in their '" Corpus Pocttcum 
Borcalc" all we possess in the way of poems in the 
Scandinavian tongue, formerly composed in Denmark, 
Norway, the Orkneys, Iceland, and even Greenland, within 
the Arctic circle.* The resemblances between the two 

' Grcin. " BibUotlick dec AiigelMctuiaclien Pocsic." ed. Wiilkct ; CliwI, 
iSSj ff., 8*0; '• Corpus Pociicnm Domic, The pocltjf oJ ihc old rorlhetn 
toni^fie, (torn the enrlieii tn Ihe .Xllllh Century," citilcd aii<) ttau^nted 
by G. Vigfuswn ind F. \'otk Po»«ll, OxfoTd, 1S83, 3 voU. «vii ; vol. i., 
IMdic poetry; vol. ii.. Courl pncliy. Other impoilnnt rnonumcntt o( 
ScanJiiuiviiia litcrAtucc aic ii^und in the following cotlcciiuuti " Edil» Siiorri," 





collections are striking, the diflferences are few. In both 
series it seems as if the same people were revealing its 
origins And leading its hcroci to WalhallaJ The Anglo< 
Saxon tale of Beowulf and the Scandinavian saga of 
Gretti, the Anglo-Saxon sior>' uf VValdhere and the 
Scandinavian and Germanic tate of the Niblungs and 
Volsung5,' liirn on the same incidents or arc dedicated 
to the same heroes, represent a similar ideal of life, 
simitar manners, the same race. They arc all of them 
part of the literary patrimony common to the men of 
the North. 

As happened with the Celts, the greater number of (he 
monuments of ancient Germanic and Scandinavian litera- 
ture has been preserved in the remotest of the countries 
where the race established itself ; distance having better 
sheltered it Irom wars, the songs and manuscripts were 

Ion StKurduM, Copenhagen. 1848, 3 vab. ; " Norrocn FornkvKdi,''ed. S. Buggc, 
Cbruliani*, 1867, Kro (coni«in( the collcccioa usually rjilinl Eddn SiciQundi] ; 
"Inlandie &&([»,'* ed. Vigfusion. Ivimtun, 18S7, 3 vol*. Svo (colleciiun of 
\ht " M>M«r of the Rollc"; cnnUiM, vnt. i., " OrkitMnga Sa)^ " ami 
"Mof^ut Sag*."; Y0I. ii., "Ilakowi' Saga"); "SturlunipL Sdca," Iiiduiline 
llle " Iilendiga Koea of l^wmui Tlionl-unn, anil othcf works," cd. Vlg* 
boMun, Oxbrd, 1878. a vob. Svu : ■* llcimtkiiaiflft Sn^, ot ihe Soqw of 
the Nart« King«, from ihe Icrlandic of Snort« SturUtson." tA. S. LtuDg, 
(ceiind edition, reviicd by R. B. Anderuin. l^ondnn, 1889, 4 vrjis. Sto. 
Tike nro Eddu and the prinapfti Sskm will l>c compiikcd in (he " Saea 
titbrarjr,'' founded in 18911 \tf W. Mntrb and Kicikr Mnctrtiuon (Quaiitch, 
Londoo). SMa meaiti i;ieai-BTiiiiiluioihM ; the piuw Hddu it a cullcciion 
of nanativM of ihe twflfih ceniuiy. rclouch^d hy (tnom in the thincenlh; 
the Eilda in vc(*e U k collcclton of pocmt of vniiotit dnlct ihat yn tiack in part 
io the ctglitb and ninih o«nlurie>' ^i^a mean* a namlivc ; the Sftgaa are 
iMtiaiivfi in p(ute af an epic cbonuter ; tbej Aonrikhcd apecially in tha 
l««tftta and thinMnlh ccniurie«. 

■ lltr An^O'.Saion lad the Scandinavian collreiionii both contain Ihe tame 
land of poem, abd etpecially <pic poetn*, el<clc» and lamcnU, inui;iil pucma, 
wKr aonpt aphoritm*, tidtUc*. tome uf wliich coMinue to putitc ihc nitesi of 
one day. 

* Thr RMDst snciFDt rntfinimit of ihi« epic aie fonnd in tha EdJt in vene 
A coiripkie vcnion eniui tn Icelandic pmie ("X'oliunga Saga'') cf the 
Iwclfih centniy ; Ihe GMman vnruan (" Nil>tlunEcnli«<l ") is of the end of the 
aame ccritor;. 



more easily saved from destruction. Most of the Celtic 
talcs extant at this day have been preserved in Ireland ; 
and most of the pieces collected in the " Corpus Poclicura 
Borcale" have been taken from Icelandic documents. 

Manners and beliefs of the northern people arc abun- 
dantly illustrated by the poems included in this collection. 
We find ourselves amid giants and dwarfs, monsters, 
dragons, unconquerable heroes, bloody battles, gloomy 
omens, ma^ic spells, and enchanted treasure*. The poet 
leads US ihrough halls with ornamented seats, on which 
warriors spend long hours in drinking ; to pits full of ser- 
pents into which the vanquished are thrown ; in the midst 
of dismal landscapes where gibbeted corpses swing in the 
wind ; lo mysterious islands where whirlwjnd.s of flame 
tthool from the tombs, and where the heroine arrives on her 
ships, her " ocean steeds," to evoke the paternal shade, 
behold once more the beloved being in the midst of 
infernal fires, and receive from his hands the enchanted 
and avenging sword. Armed Valkyrias cross the sky; 
/ ra.vens comment on the actions of men ; the tone is sad 
and doleful, sometimes so curt and abrupt that, in order to 
follow the poet's fantastic imaginations, a marginal com> 
mentar>' would be necessary, as for the " Ancient Mariner " 
of Coleridge, in whom lives again something of the spirit 
of this literature. 

Scenes of slaughter and torture abound of course, as 
they do with all primitive nations ; the victims laugh in 
the midst of their .sufferings ; they sing their death-snng. 
Sigfried roasts the heart of his adversary, Fafni, the man- 
serpent, and eats it Eorinunrek's feet and hands are cut 
oft" and thrown into the fire before his eyes. Skirni, in 
order to win Gerda's love for his master, heaps curses upon 
her, threatens to cut off her head, and by these means 
succeeds in his embassy.' Gunnar. wanting to keep for 

■ " Lay of Skirni." — "' Coipui I'cctictiin," i. p. 1 14. 


himself the secret of the Niblungen treasure, asks for the 
heart of his own brother, Hogni : 

" Hopnis bteeding heart must be laid in my hand, 
carved with the kccn-cutting knife out of the breast of the 
good kni};ht. 

"They carved the heart of Hialli (the thrall) from out 
his breast, and laid it bleeding an a. charger, am) bore it to 

" Then spake Gunnar, king of men : ' Here I have the 
heart of Hialli the coward, unlike the heart of Mogni the 
brave. It quakes greatly as it lies on the charger, but it 
quaked twice as much when it lay in his breast.' 

" Hogni laughed when they cut out the quick heart of 
that crested hero; he had little thought of whimpering. 
They laid it bleeding on the charger and bore it before 

"Then spake Gunnar, the Hniflungs' hero : 'Here I have 
the heart of Hogni the brave, unlike the heart of Hialli the 
coward ; it quakes very little a^ it lies on the charger, but 
it quaked much less when it lay in his breast." " 

Justice being thus done to his brother, and feeling no 
regret, Gunnar's joy breaks forth ; he alone now possessi^ 
the secret of the Niblungcn (Hniflungs '} treasure, and "the 
great rings shall gleam in the rolling u'aters rather than 
they shall shine on the hands of the sons of the Huns." ' 

From this example, and from others which it would be 
ei^ to add, it can be inferred that ntiatices and refined 
sentiment^; escape the comprchen.iion of such heroes ; they 
waste no time in de^ribiiig things of beauty ; they care 
not if earth brings forth (lowers, or if women have checks 
"purple a»i the fox-glove." Neither have these men any 
aptitude for light repartee ; they do not play, they kill ; 
their jests fell the adventary to the gruund. "Thou hast 

■ "Alu-Kvida."— "Coqiiuroeticuin," i. p. 48. Thu U one of the tnait 
UKWOt pocmt in the collection. 



eaten the frcsh-bl ceding hearts of thy sons, mixed with 
honey, thou giver of swords," says Queen Gudrun to Attila, 
th<: historic king of the Huns, who, in this literature, has 
become the typical foreign hero ; " now thou shalt digest 
the gory flesh of man, thou stern king, having eaten of it 
as a dainty morsel, and sent it as a mess to thy friends." 
Such is the kind of jokes they enjoy ; the poet describes 
the speech of the Queen as " a word of mockerj'," ' The 
exchange of mocking words between LokJ and the gods is 
of the same order as Gudrun's speech. Cowards! cries 
Loki to the gods ; Prostitutes ! cries he to the god- 
desses ; Drunkard t is the reply of both. There is no 
question here of argute ioqui. 

^^sAyjoIcnt in their speech, cruel in their actions* they love 
all tnat is fantastic, prodigious, colossal ; and this tendency 
appears even in the writings where they wish to amuse ; it 
is still more marked there than in the ancient Celtic talcs. 
Thor and the giant go a-hshing, the giant puts two hooks 
on his Hue and catches two whales at once. Thor baits his 
hook with an ox's head and draws out the great serpent 
which encircles the carth-^ 

Their violence and energy spend their force, and then 
the man, quite another man it would seem, veers round; 
the once dauntless hero is now daunted by shadows, by 
thoughts, by nothing. Those strong beings, who laugh 
when their hearts are cut out alive, are the prey of vague 
thoughts. Already in that far-off time their world, 
which appears to us so young, seemed old to them. 

■ "AltaKvida-"— " Cotpiw Pociieum," i. p. 51- 

* A single ciAinplc will be ii> gcioJ m inaay : " One «f Uic Viking loiltn 
got the rickjiamc of Itom (Child) t>ct*Rii"c he had been w tFodi^i-lirailcil u to 
tiy Bui siu|> Ihr ijmrl tif hi« tul1ow«t«. whu ueie ttiuing yuung ctillUien in Ihe 
ait and (hatching ih«tn upon ihrir tipcars. No doubt his men laughed not 
unkindly iii this laiicy of hi^ luiil gave biin (he nicknuni,' iilmvc mcnIiiMtid.'* 
C, F, Kciry. "The Vikings in Western Chrisiendom." 7^9-888, London* 
1891, Sra, p, 145, 

» "Hymis-Kvidt."— "Cofpot IVwticum," i. ]). 132. 


Tbey were acquainted with causeless regrets, vain sorrows, 
and disgust of life. No literature has produced a greater 
number of disconsolate poems. Mournful songs abound 
in the " Corpus i'oeticum " ol the North. 


With beliefs, traditions, and ideas of the same sort, the 
Anglo-Saxons had landed in Britain and settled there.' 

* The noM T*lualil( nioDumcnU of AnEla-Saxiia luctsturc ami art arc con- 
uinni to ibc foUowmi! MSS. : 

I. PMtty. — MS. of " Bcciwuir," preserved in the BrilUh Museum, Coiton. 
VittO. A. XV. , WilRen Wwudi Ihc end of the ti-nih or beginning of Ihe eleventh 
centsry. It contain* alsolbe iinK pucni "f " Juiliih," jic. 

A fngBicni of n poem on Wilillicrc, prtacrvctl in the Copcnhsijcn Lilirmy. 

The Eirtcf MS-. "Coiici E»nTiicn«»," «riiten in ihc icnih or deienlh 
emiary «nil j^tcii, in I04l>, \if Leofric, fiist biiliup ul Et«in, to the raihivlral 
library of thli town, where it \\ stUl preMrved. It conuins a v-arieiy of |»clic 
pi««> (Cbtitt. St. buthbc. Piivnui. Wandctcr, Sniatci. Widuth, fAnlher, 
Wlulc. Dvot, Ruia, Ritldlen. &c), 

The ■' Codex Vefcellcnm," preserved «t Vcrcelli in Lumbanly, coniaining ; 
Andrcu. Tite Deptiried 'Ais<x\'\ Adilieu ta the Body, Dieam of the Holy Rood, 
Elene, Se-, wrlHen in (he clevenlh century. 

Titc BudlciM MS., Juiiiiu xi., tuntAining & po«ticaI vcnion of pvt of the 
Mble, somrcifirhiah iKStirihulcil to CTdm<in. wtiiicn in ihr lenth centofy. 

The Pari* Aniiln-Suuii I'nitet 1 liiMiuih^ue NKtiunale, Lat. 8S14), wrilttn 
in Ihe eleveeih century, (O pnlms in prose. 100 in vene. 

II. Pr*tt. — The Epinal MS. eontninini; an Aug In- Sax on glonary (ci);htJi 
century iccocdiiig to Mr. Swcel, nitith nccnidinK to Mr. Maundc ThuiTipviii). 

Tlic Tlodleian MS., Hattoii 20, containing King Alfcccl'i trantliilioti of St. 
Crqpxy't '• Keguli fasiunll* " (the copy «f Wcrfct ih, Liiliup uf WunrcstcrJ. 

The MS. of the " Angln-Sgixan Chronicle." the WincheMer Mxt, in ihc 
lilwary >if Coirput^ Christ! College, C«.int>ri(1gc. MS- Uaiii. 

The MSS. of ihc hntiilies of .Klfric and WulfMan, JuniiiK ixii. luid Jnaiiu 
xcix.. in the BwUeiin, uiiJ the MS. ul ilic Kticklinu humilici (Rlickling Hall, 

III. JUimtUvrts. — See opceiaJly, the LtntJi^rame Gmpels, MS. Coltan. 
KoOiD. iv., inlKc Brilith Muwum, eighth-ninth centiiiy, in Lallnwiili Ang!i>- 
Siumn gknocii. RcpiDdu^ltcmh uF these inininluics iind uihi:i caamplct of the 
BBean aie tb be found tn J. O. Womood, ■• Faoiniilct of ilie Miniatures and 
OraatMnit of AnginSaxon and Iri<^h MSS." Lnndon, r)<uiriti:b, 186H. fol., 
mvi " Paheognphin Stxio 1'ii^tofia." Londnn, 1844, fol. !^c nW the tine ptn- 
nwJ-ink drawing* ia the aUnc-meulioned MS. Junius a., ui ihv Bodleian 



Established in their " isolated dwellings," if they leave 
them il is for action ; if they re-enter them it is for solitary 
reverie, or sometimes for orgies. The main part of their 
original literature, like that of their brothers and cousins 
on the Continent, consists of triiimplia! songs and heart- 
rending laments. It is contemplative and warlike.* 

They have to fight against their neighbours, or against 
their kin from over the sea, who in their turn wish to seize 
upon ihc island. The war-song remains persistently in 
favour with them, and preserves, aln^ost intact, its 
characteristics of haughty pride and ferocity. Its cruel 
accents recur even in the pious poems written after the 
conversion, and in the middle of the monotonous tale told 
by the national annahst The Anglo-Saxon monk who 
draws up in his cell the chronicle of the event.* of the year, 
feels his heart beat at the thought of a great victory, and 
in the midst of the placid prose which serves to register' 
eclipses [)f the moon and murders of kings, he suddenly 
inserts the bounding verse of an enthusiastic war-song: 

*' This year. King yEthelstan. lord of earls, ring-giver of 
warriors, and his brother eke Edmund --Ethcling. life-long 
glory in battle won at Brunanburh. . . . The foes lay low, 
the Scots people and the shipman death-doomed fell. 
The field streamed with warriors' blood what time the suti 
up, at morning-tide the glorious star, glided o'er grounds, 
God's candle bright the eternal Lord's, until the noble 
creature sank to its setting." 

The poet describes theenem/s defeat and flight, the 
slaughter (hat ensues, and with cries of joy calls upon 

* Cf. T&clius who uys of itic Gcmuini: "Cdckrani c&imiiKbui antliiull 
(qwdiinuni «piiil iUcit incmariai: ct annnlUim gvnnii nt). . . ." "D? Moribus."!. 
Eginhard in the mnlh c«nlury noticet the nra« i^ort of *ong« fttrinng (he 
rtanlu c^ub^Bbet) in Caul ; " Iletn Uirbaxa ct aiittt]uiuimji carmina. qutbiM 
(ciMuiii irgjm ftcins ci bflln c«ncljantu(. . , ." " Vila Kuuli," cap, xxU. , 
(cd. Meier. " Lebeti uiid WandH Karl (In tinmen" Homliutg uid Gotlia.j 
■ S39, a vi^ls. Kva, ral. 1. p. Sg). 


the flocks of wild birds, the " swart raven with horned 
neb," and " him of goodly coat, the eai^lc," and the 
"greedy war hawk," to come and share the carcaac:^. 
Never was 50 splendid a slaughter seen, " from what 
books tell us, old chroniclers, ;$ince hither from the east 
.'\ngles and Saxons C Engte and Seaxe '), came to land, 
o'er the broad seas, Britain {' Brytcne') sought, proud war- 
imiths, the Welsh (* Weains ') oercame, men for glory 
^eagcr, the country gain'd."' 

The writers heart swells with delight at the thought of 
so many corpses, of so great a carnage and so much gore ; 
he is happy and triumphant, he dwells complacently on 
the si^ht, as poets of another day and country would dwell 
on the thought of paths " where the wind swept roses " 
(oil le vent balaya <li:s mscs). 

These strong men lend themselves willingly, as do their 
kin over the sea, to the ebb and flow of powerful contrary 
feelings, and rush body and soul from the extreme of joy 
to the acme of sorrow. The mild sMmt^. enjoyed by men 
with classical tendencies was to them unknown, and the 
ford was one which no Norman Conquest, no Angevin rule, 
l!o" Augustan " imitation, could force into the language; 
it was unwanted, for the thing was unknown. But they 
listen with unabated pleasure, late in the period, to the 
story of heroic deeds performed on the Continent by men 

" Anglo- Saxon Ommii^le" (Rolls), t. p. aoo; u. p. 86; y«u ^yi. Tba 
;os ihc twllc of KrunAnliuth, won 1iy the Aiicto'Siuonn ova llic Scotch 
I thum, l»i bci-n tnuiAUicd by TeniijMjn. Olhrt wat songs, a kw out of 
ft grmt iii»riy, hare cnae dow-n to u», some invrt^ in th« Arjglo-Sairon 
Chtonitle (like the aoi^ on ihc rii^ih of Ryrhtnotti, dcfrnird mil Icillcid by 
Uic Pu«« Kfter a hwd iighl, at the battle of Maldon, 99 1 1, some in sc[Mmc 
.fiagmcnU Araong the mure rcuMtkable is tlic vcjy olil rni4,incni on ihc 
"buleof riinubiirg."<liKovcied, like the Wnldhcrc fragment, in the binding of 
ibook- This bitli* i« alluded (o in "Brawulf." The fragment has been prinl«(4 
by Gr«in in bU " Bibliothek," vol. i., and by Harrison aad Shup with their 
" BcmuU." SoMon, third cd., tSSS. 


of their own race, whose mind was shaped like theirs, and 
who fell the sainc feelings. The same blood and soul 
sympathy which animates them towards their own King 
^thclstan. lord of carls. ring«gjver of warriors — not a myth 
that one, not a fable his deeds — warms the songs they 
devote to King Waldhere of Aquitainc, to the Scandinavian 
warrior Beowulf, and to others, probably, who belonged to 
the same Germanic stock, Not a word of Kngland or the 
Angles is said in those poems ; still they were popular in 
England. The Waldhere song, of which some sixty Hoes 
have been preserved, on two vellum leaves discovered in 
the binding of an old book, told the story of the hero's 
flight from Attila's Court with his bride Hildgund and a 
treasure (treasures play a gniat part in those epics), and of 
his successive fights with Gunther and Hagcn while cross* 
ing the Vosges. These warriors, after this one appearance, 
vanish altogether from English literature, but their litcraiy 
life was continued on the Continent ; their fate was told in 
Latin in the tenth century by a monk of St. Gall, and 
again they had a part to play in the German " Nibelungcn- 
licd." Beowulf, on the contrary, Scandinavian as he was, 
is known only through the Anglo-Saxon poet In 
" Beowulf," as in " Waldhere," feelings, speeches, mannen, 
ideal of life arc the same as with the heroes of the " Corpus 
Poclicum Borcalc." The whole obviously belongs to the 
same group of nations." 
Thi strange poem of " Beowulf,"' the most important 

■ G. Stephens, "Two leaves of King Wuldcrc't by," CoprnhBgcn and 
London, tS&},8vo; R. Pd|>cr, "Ekkchanli piimi Walihuiiis,"B«fUn, 1873. 

' "Auli>ly)jc» of the uiii<jiic Couvri MB. Vitclliiu. A. w. in the Briliih 
Museum," wilh tnuistitciAtkin nnil anlc-s by J. Zupilu, luirly Kngliih Text 
Socii'ly. 1882, 8vD. "Bctiwttit" (Hiyuc'i lent), iil. Hairivin iind Shaqi, 
Biwton, chitd cd iSttK, Svu. "Beuwulf, n hcink rneni of the VIIIlli Ceniufy, 
wilh A Ei>n«liitiun," liy T. <\riiold. London, 1876, Svo. "The deed* «t 
Beowulf . . . done into modcra proK," cd. £utc, Oxbrd Chucndga Prea, 


monument or Anglo-Saxon literAtiire, was discovered at 
the end of the last century, in a manuscript written about 
the year locx),* and is now preserved in the British 
Museum. Few works have been more discussed ; it has 
been the cause oF literarj' wars, in which the learned men 
of England. Denmark. Sweden. Germany, France, and 
America have taken part ; and peace is not yet signed. 

This poem, Uke the old Celtic tales, is a medley of pagan 
legends, which did not originally concan Beowulf in par- 
ticular," and of historical facts; the various parts.after a sepa- 
rate literary life, having been put together, perhaps in the 
«ighth ccntur>', perhaps later, by an Anglo-Saxon Chris- 
tian, who added new discrepancies in trying to adapt the 
old tale to the faith of his day. No need to expatiate on 
the incoherence of a poetn formed of such elements. Its 
heroes are at once pagan and Christian; they believe in 
Christ and in Weland ; they fight against the monsters of 
Scandinavian mjthology, and sec in them the descendants 
of Cain : historical facts, such as a battle of the sixth 
century, mentioned by Gregory of Tours, where the victory 
remained to the Frankish ancestor.^ are mixed up with 
talcs of fantastic duels below the waves. 

Mthed.. iS^i, Sro. On EnglUhpliiccnaiii»iei3ilIingper«)TuigKm "Bcawuir," 
i«e D. H. Hfligh, " Angli>Ka)(OD Sdgu," London. 1861, 8vo (nun;- doublful 
oondsuon*). The |><wiii oit^i^U (it },i83 long Iiri<^ »f alltlcratii'c vcne, 
diriilrd into 41 Mctioiu; i[ is DM quite cqiuJ in Icngil] 10 a thlid of [he 

' S«i(h it ibe opinion of Mr. W'aii, *'Ca[alogue of Komanna." voL U., 
London, 1S93, p. 1. 

' Thin expUins how we find tbcm u*cd in Scnndiiuvifta liicnture u pt,n ol 
the life uf lulolly diAcicut heroo i ili« Icelandic M£a of nceUi tclh haw Clun, 
anotlicT Grendcl, iidotrojred bf Grttil, another BtMwijir. On ihoc rexat- 
blanoet, Mc Excunu* iii. in the "Corpus Pctriiciim liorenle,'' vol. it. jx 301 : 
and ft C*ring. " Der BMwuU und die Ulaendiscbe Urctliugtt." in "Ar^lia," 
vol. iLi. p. 74. 

' In UtegDcy of Tcnui. boolt iii. clup. 3 ("HiscoriA Ecclcaiusiica Fnui- 
coruro," Soditi dc lliistoirc it France, rol. i- p- Jjo) ; in •■ BeowuU" 11. 

GehiTMrf ihi in Fraacna tnthm f«orh cynnin^ ;— 




Accordfng to a legend partly reproduced in the poem, the 
Danes had no chief. They bchcM one daya small ship on 
the sea, and in it a child, and with him one of those cvcr- 
rccurring treasures. They saw in this mysterious gift a 
sign from above, and took the child for their ruicr ; " and 
he was a good king." When that king. Scyld. died, they 
placed him once more on a bark with treasures, and the 
waters bore him away, no one ever knew whither. 

One of his successors, Hrothgar,* who held his court, 
like the Danish kings of to-day, in the isle of Seeland, 
built in his old age a splendid hall, Heorot, wherein to 
feast his w;irriors and disirihute rings among them. They 
drank merrily there, while the singer sang "from far-off 
ages the origin of men." Hut there n'as a monster named 
Grcndcl, who lived in the darkness of lonely morasses. 
He "bore impatiently for a season to hear each day 
joyous revelry loud-sounding in the hall, where was the 
music of the harp, and the clesr piercing song" of the 
*'3c6p." When night came, the fiend "went to visit the 
grand house, to see how the Ring-Danes after the beer- 
drinking had settled themselves in it. Then found he 
therein a crowd of nobles (a^thelinga) asleep after the 
feast; they knew no care."* Grendel removed thirty of 
them to his lair, and they were killed by *' that dark pest 

"The life«f ihr king [HigcUeJ bt«Miie ihe ^tey of th(r Frank*," GruniJirig 
was the iJrtt iq idcniify Iliuclu: wiih ilic CliliKhilAiciii ol GitK^ry or Tour*. 
Ttir batik look place abuut 515 1 ihe Stanilinavtiuu led hy " CUocliiUiais " 
w«i(; pluiiileiiitK taud^ bclnngiDg 10 Thicrii. kjng of Aunraina (5ii->j4l> 
«ld«i son of ClAvit, when lie ^rtii u^oiiui i)u-m hU «on Thcadebcri, famous 
tinoc, who WM Ii> die on his way id Cuntlantinople in tw expedition 
•gunit ihc £cii).eroi JusiitiUn. Tlir<i<ltl;crl tnliicly louicd llic enemy, 
and lonlt W'k ihcir [ilundcr, ItiUiikc xYkix I'Siicf, il)c Chlochilaicu* orCicgoiy, 
Uie Huigkiuciu "qui jmpeiavii Geiis, ei « Francis occlsiu csi " o\ an utd 
" Liber moniironim," the Higelac nf our |km;iii. See H. L. D, Wud, 
" CkUtogue of Rumaneo in the UriiisI) -Mu«um," vol. Jl. 1893, pp. 6 fli. 

' Arcmdine lo the pucDi, llic line uf iiuKcteiou wa>: Sc}'Uli Beowulf (not 
our lieiul. Hcalfdcnr, llcorngni, lltolhgni. 
"BtowiiK," 1876, T. Atnoltl'i iranxkiion. 


of men, that mischief- working being, grim antl greedy, 
savage and fierce." Grende! c.ime again and "wrought 
a yet worse deed of muider." The thanes ceased to 
care much for (he music and glee of Hcarot. " He that 
escaped from that enemy kept himself ever afterwards 
far off in greater watchfulness." 

Higelac, king of the Gcataa (who the Geatas were is 
doubtful ; perhaps Gotha of Gothland in Sweden, perhaps 
Jutes of Jutland*), liad » nephew, Beowulf, son of 
£cgtheow, of the royal Swedish blood, who heard of the 
scourge. Beowulf went with his companions on board a 
ship; "the foamy-nccl^cd cruiser, hurried on by the wind, 
flew over the sea, most like to a bird," and followed " the 
path of the swans." For the North Sea is the path of the 
swans as well as of the whales, and the wild swan abounds 
to this day on the coasts of Norway.' Beowulf landed on 
the Danish shore, and propoi^ed to Hrothgar to rid him of 
the monster. 

Hrothgar does not conceal from his gucst<i the terrible 
danger they arc running: "Often have boasted the sons 
of battle, drunken with beer, over their cups of ale, that 
they would await in the beer-hall, with their deadly sharp- 
edged swords, the onset of Grcndcl. Then in the morn- 
ing, when the daylight came, this mead-hall, this lordly 
chamber, was stained with gore, all the bench- floor 
drenched in blood, the hall in carn^e. . . ." The Geutas 
persist in their undertaking, and they arc feasted by their 
host: "Then was a bench cleared for the sons of the 
Geatas, to sit clo*,e together in the bcer-hall ; there the 
iitout -hearted ones went and sat, exulting clamorously. 
A thane attended to their wants, who carried in his 

' Hus lul opinion hu been put onmtd with grcuit foicc by Fahlbcck, and 
a<vci>(«l fay Vicfuuon. See Ward. " Qualogue of Konunces," ii. p. r;, and 

• Thry »re ninneiou* Mpecialljr in the provinec o( Firnnarkcn ; lh«y ar* ta 
Ik found liutbcr »outh in otintci. 



hands a chased ale-flagon, and poured the pure bnght 

Night falls ; the Geat and his companions remain in the 
hail and " bow themselves to repose." Grendel the " night 
walker came prowling in the gloom of night . . . from his 
eyes there issued a hideous light, most like lo fire. In the 
hall he saw many warriors, a kindred band, sleeping all 
together, a group of clansmen. Then he laughed in hi.«i 
heart." He did not tarry, but seized one of the sleepers, 
"tore him irresistibly, bit his flesh, drank the blood from 
his veins, .swallowed him by large morsels ; soon had he 
devoured all the corpse but the feet and hands." He ihen 
finds himself confronted by Beowulf. The fight b^ns 
under the sounding roof, the gilded scats arc overthrown, 
and it was a wonder the hail itself did not fall in ; but it 
was " made fast with iron bands." At last Grcndel's arm 
is wrenched off. and he flees towards his morasses to die. 

While Beowulf, loaded with treasure, returns to his own 
country, another scourge appears. The mother of Grendel 
wishes to avenge him, and, during the night, tieizes and 
eats Hrothgar's favourite warrior. Beowulf comes back 
and reathc!! the cave of the fiends unUer the waters ; the 
light is an awful one, and the hero was about to succumb, 
when he caught sight of an enormous sword forged by 
the ijiants. With il he slays the foe; and also cuts off 
the head of Grendel, whose body lay there lifeless. At 
the contact of this poisonous blood the blade melts 
entirely, "just like ice. when the Father ioosencth the 
bonds of frost, unwindcth the ropes that bind the waves." 

Later, after having taken part in the historic battle 
fought against the Franks, in which his uncle lligclac was 
killed, Beowulf becomes king, and reigns fifty years. In 
his old age, he has to fight for the last time, a monster, "a 
fierce Fire-drake," that held a treasure. He is victorious ; 
but sits down wounded on a stone, feeling that he is about 



to die. " Now go thou quickly, dear Wiglaf," he says to 
the only one of his companions who had come lo his 
rescue, " to spy out the hoard under the hoar rock ; . . . 
make haste now that I mviy examine the ancient wealth, 
the golden store, may closely survey the brilliant cunningly. 
wrought gems, that so I may the more tranquilly, after 
seeing the treasured wealth, quit itty life, and my country^ 
which I have governed long." Howls and dUhes, a sword 
"shot with brass," a standard "atl gilded, . locked 
by strong spcils," from which issued "a ray of light," 
are brought to him. He enjoys the sight ; and here, 
out of love for his hero, the Christian compiler of the 
story, after having allowed him to satisfy sa much of 
his heathen tastes, prepares him for heaven, and makes 
him utter words oi gratitude to " the Lord of all, the King 
of glory, the eternal Lord " ; which done, Beowulf, a 
heathen again, is permitted to order for himself such a 
funeral as the Gcatas of old were accustomed to : " Rear 
a mound, conspicuous after the burning, at the headland 
which juts into the sea. Thai shall, to keep my people 
in mind, tower up on Hioncs-ncss, that seafaring men 
may afterwards call it Beowulf's Mound, they who drive 
from far their roaring vessels over the mists of the floods." 
Wiglaf vainly tries to revive him with wattr ; and 
addressing his unworthy companions, who then only dare 
to come out of the wood, expresses gloomy forebodings 
u to the future of his country: " Now may the people 
expect a time of strife, as soon as the king's fall shall 
become widely known lo the Franks and Frisians, 
To us never after [ihe quarrel in which Higelac died] was 
granted the favour of the Merovingians (Mere- Wioinga). 
Nor do I expect at all any peace or faith from the Swedish 
people. . ." The serpent is thrown "over ihe wall-cliff; 
ihcy let the waves take, the flood close upon, the keeper 
of the treasures." A mound is built on the hill, "widely 



visible to seafaring men. , . , They placed on the barrow 
rings and jewels. . . . they let the earth hold the treasure 
of carls, the gold in the sand where it now yet rc- 
maincth, as useless to men ais it [formerly] was." ' They 
ride about the mound, recounting in their chants the 
deeds of the dead : " So mourned the people of the 
Gcatas. his hearth-companions, for their lord's fall j said 
that he was among world -kings the mildest and the 
kindest of men, most gracious to his people and most 
desirous of prai&e." 

The ideal of a happy life has somewhat changed since 
the days of Beowulf. Then, as we see, happiness con- 
sisted in the satisfaction of very simple and primitive 
tastes, in fighting well, and after the fight eating and 
drinking heartily, and listening to songs and music, and 
after the music enjoying a sound sleep. The possession 
of many rings, handsome weapons and treasure, was also 
indispensable to make up complete happiness ; so much 
so that, out of respect towards the chief, some of his rings 
and jewels were buried with him, "useless to men." as 
the author of "Beowulf" says, not without a touch of 
regret. Such was the existence led by those companions 
of Hrothgar, who are described as enjoying the happiest 
of lives before the appearance of Grendel, and who " knew 
no care. "I All that is tender, and would most arouse the 
scnsibiliijf of the sensitive men of to-day, is considered 
childish, and awakes no echo : " Better it is for every one 
thdt he should avenge his friend than that he should 
mourn exceedingly." says Beowulf; very different from 
Roland, the hero of France, he too of Germanic origin, 
but hving in a different milieu, where his soul has been 
•oftencd. "When Earl Roland saw that his peers lay 

'According (o the aocmini of a ScuiiliiMviAn bumi left by AtiRi(d Ibn 
I (itnth ocntury, kc aliovr. p. 27), ihc cuitiim was lo bury uiiti [he <lnd 
enu and guld emlMuiUeriei to the value of a third pan of wbal he l«n. 


dead, and Oliver too, whom he so dearly loved, his heart 
melted ; he b^an to weep ; colour left his face." / 

li cntis RodbnE, qiuitit il veit moti tia pecs 
Ed Olivier qu'il \ils\x paleil inici, 
Toidror en run, comramcei 1 plorer. 
En ton vUage Jilt nolt <l««i:«larei.* 

Beowulf crushes all he touches ; in his fights he upsets 
monsters, in hi» tulks he tumbles his interlocutors head* 
long. His retorts have nothing winged about them ; he 
does not use the feathered arrow, but the iron hammer. 
Hunfcrth taunt!* him with not having had the beat in a 
swimming match. Beowulf replies by a strong speech, 
which can be summed up in few words: liar, drunkard, 
coward, murderer! It seems an echo from the banqueting 
hall of the Scandinavian gods ; in the same manner Lokt 
and the goddesses played with words. For the assembled 
warriors of Hrothgar's court Beowulf goes in nowise 
beyond bounds ; they are not indignant, they would 
rather laugh. So did the god& 

Landscape painting in the Anglo-Saxon poems is 
adapted to men of this stamp. Their souls delight in 
the bleak boreal climes, the north wind, frost, hail, ice, 
howling tempest and raging seas, recur as often in this 
literature as blue waves and sunlit blossoms in the writiiiijs 
of men to whom these exquisite mar\'ets arc familiar. 
Their descriptions arc all short, save when they refer to 
ice or snow, or the surge of the sea. The Anglo-Saxon 
poets dwell on such sights complacently ; their tongue 
then is loosened. In "Beowulf," the longest and truest 
description is that of the abode of the monsters: "They 
inhabit the dark land, wolf-haunted .slopes, windy head- 

- Chanson de Rolam)," linr 31(04. 



lands, the rough fcn-way, where the mountain stream, 
under the dark shade of the headlands, runneth down, 
water under land. It is not far from hence, a mile by 
measure, that the mere lies ; over it hang groves of 
[rimy] trees, a wood fast-rooted, [and] bend shcltcringly 
over the water ; there every night may [one] see a dire 
portent, fire on the flood. No one of the sons of men is 
so experienced as to know those lake-depths. Though 
the heath-ranging hart, with strong horns, pre.'*sed hard by 
the hounds, seek that wooded holt, hunted from far, he 
will sooner give up his life, hi* last breath on the bank, 
before he will [hide] his head therein. It is not a holy 
place. Thence the turbid wave nscth up dark-hued to the 
clouds, when the wind stirrcth up foul weather, until the 
air grows gloomy, the heavens weep." 

The j^amc unchanging genius manifests itself in the 
national epic, in tlie shorter songs, and even in the prose 
chronicles of the Anglo-Saxons. To their excessive 
enthusiii^ms succeed periods of complete depression ; 
their orgies are followed by despair ; they sacrifice their 
life in battle without a frown, and yet, when the hour for 
thought has come, they are harassed by the idea of death. 
Their national religion foresaw the end of the world and of 
all things, and of the gods even. Listen, once more, to the 
well-known words of one of them : 

" Human life reminds me of the gatherings thou boldest 
with thy companions in winter, around the fire lighted in 
the middle of the hall. It is warm in the hall, and outside 
howls the tempest with its whirlwinds of rain and snow. 
Let a sparrow enter by one door, and. crossing the hall, 
escape b>' another. While he passes through, he is 
sheltered from the wintry storm ; but this moment of 
peace is brief. Emerging from the cold, in an instant he 
disappears from sight, and returns to the cold again. Such 
is the life of man ; we behold it for a short time, but 


what has preceded and what is to follow, we know 
not . . ,"» 

Would not Hamlet have spoken thus, or Claudio? 

Ay. lo <lic atiH go viK know not where ; 
To lie in cold ulatiucliuii. . . . 

Thus spoke, nine centuries before them, an Anglo-Saxon 
chief who had arisen in the council of King Eduini and 
advised him, according to Bede, to adopt the religion of 
the monks from RomL*, because il solved the fearful 
problem. In spite of years and change, this anxiety did 
not die out ; it was felt by the Puritans, and Bunyan, and 
Dr. Johnson, and the poet Cowper. 

Another view of the problem was held by races imbued 
with classical ideas, the French and others ; classical cqua* 
nimity influenced them. Let us not poison our lives by the 
idea of death, they used to think, at Ica-^t before this centur>' ; 
there is a lime for all things, and it will be enough to remem- 
ber death when its hour strikes. " Mademoiselle," said La 
Mousse to the future Madame de Grignan, too careful of 
her beautiful hands, " all that wilt decay." " Yes, but it is 
not decayed yet," answered Mademoiselle de Stfvigni, 
summing up In a single word the philosophy of many 
French lives. We will sorrow to-morrow, if need be, and 
even then, if possible, without darkening our neighbours' 

' " TalU miht vidciut, viu liDiiiinum pitctcna In icrils nd cumpriralionein 
ejus, quod doM* incnluni en, icmiKirii, qujilc •ram ic rc«i[lcmr ad ccrnnm 
cma (luctbitt ae miniilin iiiii letiiixire liiunuli. accedi-u quidetn fncn in mc^b 
«l caUdo cB«cto ctmDCulo, (ureniitiuc atiiem forlo per omnia luiynibui hierna- 
liiHD pluvianiRi vcl nivjuin, aitii^iu'rinitic tinut pauerunri, citiuiiiic |><;rvu](iv>nit; 
qui cam per imum osiium ingicdiciw, max per nliud riieril. Ijim quidcm 
IcmptMeqno inlui r^l. hicmit tempduti nan Iniiuiiur. sci) taiiicn (laiviuiiinQ 
apBtIo MTcBiiaili ltd niumentum excurso, ridk dc hieme in hiiit)eni regrediirnt, 
law ooilit (labjiur. Ita h^re vita hnminum ad modiciim ajiparei ; rjiiiji auiMn 
fcqnarai, qaidvc pncccwetil, piorvu iKnoramui. Uiide >i Iikc nova docirtna 
ceniiM aliqnd altulil mcrilo cue >cquciida viJctiu." " Histviia Eaclesiasiioa 
Ccnilt Angloniio," booii ii. cap. i j, jeir 617. 



day with any grief of ours. Let us retire from life, as 
from a drawing-room, discreetly, "as from ft banquet," 
said La Fontaine.' And this good grace, which is not 
indifierence, but which little resembles the anguish and 
enthusiasms of the North, is also in its way Che mark of 
strong minds. For they were not made of insignificant 
beings, those generations who went to battle and left the 
world without a sneer or a tear; with ribbons on the 
shoulder and a smile on the lips.' 

Examples of Anglo-Saxon poems, either dreamy or 
warlike, could ca»ily be multiplied. We have the lamen- 
tations of the man wilhoiit a country, of the friendless 
wanderer, of the forlorn wife, of the patronless singer, of 
the wave-tossed mariner ; and these laments ate always 
associated with the grand Northern landscapes of which 
h'ttle had been made in ancient literatures: 

" That the man knows not, to whom on land all falls out 
most joyfully, how I, miserable and sad on the ice cold sea, 
a winter pass'd, with exile traces ... of dear kindred 
bereft, hung o'er with icicles, the hail in showers fiew ; 
where I heard nought save the sea roaring, the ice-cold 
wave. At times the swan's song I made to me for pastime 
, . . night's shadow darken'd, from the north it snow'd, 
frost bound the land, hail fell on the earth, coldest of graia 

■ Jc voudinis qu'fc cd i%t. 
On *oriii de la vie Atnu que d'un banquet. 
Retaetuaiit wn hOte. |vlii. i.) 

■ Rttgnat Lodlirolti thiown uitong tcrpeni* in a pil, defies his enemies, jind 
bidt ihem bewue of ihc rcvriiEe of Woitcn (" Cotpiw Porticum BoTcale." 
vol. iL pp. 3^1 fF.). In the p[]*oii&, at ihe lime of the T«rreut, the piiUetinc 
wu ft tubjeci for eM^m-imi. Th« msil Ktr.imci /it Fraitu caught fif«, part o 
the cugo bdng ^^unpowdci ; ibc thip is abQut lo be bl«wa npi « forciea 
witiicu writes thut : "Tout juqu'aux pelits maxniitaHs riiralisucni d'^an, 
dr brovoure et de ceUe gaieif tcauloiic ilaiit le p^il qui forme un det bcaiui 
imlt du euvictiie Dalional.*' [taron d« HUbner, " Inoendie du paquebot la 
France," Puit, 1887. This Account wse written, aceoTding (o what Ifca 
authoi told mc, on the day after ibc tire wat uoexpectedif nusccred. 


. . ." Or, in another song : " Then wakes again the friend- 
less mortal, sees before him fallow ways, ocean fowls 
bathing, spreading their wings, rime and snow descending 
with hail mingled ; then are the heavier his wounds of 
hearL" > 

There are descriptions of dawn in new and unexpected 
terms : " The guest slept within until the black raven, 
blithe-hearted, gave warning of the coming of the heaven's 
joy, the bright sun, and of robbers fleeing away."' Never 
did the terraces of Rome, the peristyles of Athens, the 
balconies of Verona, see mornings dawn like unto these, 
to the raven's merry shriek. The sea of the Anglo-Saxons 
is not the Mediterranean, washing with its blue waves the 
marble walls of villas ; it is the North Sea, with its grey 
billows, bordered by barren shores and chalky cliffs. 

■"Codei Eioniensis," "Se«ratcr," p. 306, "Wanderer," p. 291. See 
also "Deor the Scald'* Complaint," one of the oldest poemi in "Codex 
EKonienni," the "Wife's CompUint," the " Ruis," abo in "Codex Exoni- 
ensis" ; the subject of this last poem has been Aown bj Earle to be probably 
the town of Bath. 

• T. Arnold's " Beowulf." p. I18, 1. i8co. 




Augustine, prior of St Martin of Rome, sent by Gregory 

the Great, arrived in 597. To the Germanic pirate* 

eiiablished in the isle of Britain, he brought a strange 

teaching. The ideas he tried to spread have become so 

familiar to us, ive can hardly realise the :tmazetnent they 

must have caused. To these fearless warriors who won 

kingdoms at the point of their spears, and by means of 

their spears li>o wun thdr way into Walhalla, who counted 

on dying one day, not in their beds, but in battle, so that 

ihe Valkyrias, "choosers of the slain." might cany them to 

heaven on tlicir while steeds, to these men came a foreign 

monk, and said: Be kind ; worship the God of the weak. 

who, unlike Woden, will reward thee not for thy valour, 

but for thy mercy. 

Such was the seed that Rome, ever life-giving, now 

endeavoured to sow among triumphant sea-rovers. The 

notion of the State and t)ic notion of the Church both rose 

out of the ruins of the Eternal City ; ideas equally powerful, 

but almost contradictory, which were only to be reconciled 

after centuries of confusion, and alternate periods of violence 

and depression. The princes able to foresee the necessary 

fusion of these two ideas, and who made attempts, however 



rude, to bring it about were rare, and have remained for 
ever famous : Charlemagne in France and Alfred the 
Great in England. 

The miracle of conversion was accomplished in the isle, 
as it had been on the Continent Augustine baptized King 
^thelberht, and celebrated mass in the old Roman church 
of St Martin of Cantcrbur)'. The religion founded by the 
Child of Bethlehem conquered the savage Saxons, as it had 
conquered the debauched Romans ; the difficulty and the 
success were equal in both cases. In the Germanic as tn 
the Latin country, the new religion had to stem the stream ; 
the Romans of the decadence and the men of the North 
differed in their passions, but resembled each other in the 
impetuosity with which they followed the lead of their 
instincts. To both, the apostle came and whispered : Curb 
thy passions, be hard upon thyself and merciful to others ; 
blessed are the simple, blessed are the poor ; as thou for- 
gtvest so shall thou be forgiven ; thou shall not despise the 
weak, thou shalt lave him ! And this unexpected murmur 
was heard each day. like a counsel and a threat, in the 
words of the morning prayer, in the sound of the bells, in 
the music of pious chants. 

The conver.Mon was at first superficial and limited to 
outward practices ; the warrior bent the knee, but his heart 
remained the same. The spirit of the new reli{;ion could not 
as yet penetrate his soul ; he remained doubtful between old 
manners and new beliefs, and after fits of repentance and 
relapses into savagery, the converted chieftain finally left 
this world better prepared for VValhalla thn.n for Paradi.'ie. 
Those who witnessed his death realised it themselves. 
When Theodoric the Great died in his palace at Ravenna^ 
piously and surrounded by priests, VV'oden was seen, 
actually seen, bearing away the prince's soul to Walhalla. 

The new converts of Great Britain understood the 
religion of Christ much as they had understood that of 



Thor, Only a short distance divided man from godhood 
in heathen times ; the god had his passions and his adven- 
turer, he was intrepid, and fought even better than his 
people. For a long lime, as will happen with neophytes, the 
new Christians continued to seek around them the human 
gcxl who had disappeared in immensity ; they addressed 
themselves to him as they had formerly done to the deified 
heroes, who, having shared their troubles, must needs 
sympathise with their sorrows. For a long time, con- 
tradictory faiths were held side by side. Christ was be- 
lieved in, but Woden wa^ still feared, and secretly appeased 
by sacrifices. Kings are obliged to publish edicts, forbid- 
ding their subjects to believe in the ancient divinities, whom 
they now term "demons " ; but that docs not prevent the 
monks who compile the "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle" from 
tracing back the descent of their princes to Woden: if 
it is not deifying, it is at least ennobling them.* 

Be your obedience qualified by reason. St Paul had 
said That of the Anglo-Saxons was not so qualified. 
On the contrary, they believed out of obedience, militarily. 
Following the prince's lead, all his subjects arc converted ; 
the prince goes back to heathendom ; all his people become 
heathens again. From year to year, however, the new re- 

" Mengcsl ajid Mont . . . wcte the ton* of Wiht|^ls ; Wihipls wu Uw 
■onofWitu, Wittaof Wecto. Wecia of Wixleii. Fiom Woden ipning kU our 
nyal kin, and (he SotilliumbruinislKi " )y«u 449, " Anglo-Siuon Chronide," 
Pelctboroac'i l="i)- " I'enda wm ibc mo of Pjrbbk, PybUi of Cryda , . . 
Wa;iniuiid o( "VMhilirg, WihllatB of Wudcn " yUiJ. : year 616). Ordedc 
Xi<uA, horn in Englntirl, miA wtittivB in Nurmanily, in Ihc Iwelflh cenliuy, con- 
tinual to trar« b&ck (ht dtwnt of the kia^ of Engl&nd to Wodfn ; " ■ quo 
Angli (criaoi [iv]" Wcukiiw di«« nuntupaiil " (■• HiM, E«l.," «!. Le Pre* 
vnnl, vul. iii. p. i£i). " Wodenw die* " has twfamc Wcdnnd*)'. In ihc same 
fidiioii, Hnd even morr chonclcriilicaliy, the feast of Ihc nurtbcm eo<)dc>a 
EoUra has bt«ome " EaMet " : " EoMur-moniih, qui nunc imctiilU ineruiK 
interpfctaiur, quondun nrtMMirutn (|tin? F.Mire voethuor . .. nomrn habuil." 
Bcde. "De Tempotum Kitioite" w Mjgne'* " Pkliologu," xc, ool. 357. 
SimiUr grncalogics occur in Maittii-w huit, thkteeaih ccntnryi " Chronica 
Majara." vol. i. pp 188-9, 4^2 (Kollk). 



ligion progresses, while the old is waning; this phenomenon 
is brought about, in the south, by the influence of Augus- 
tine and the monks from Rome ; and in the north, owing 
mainly to Celtic monks from the monastery of lona, 
founded in the sixth century by St. Columba, on the model 
of theconvents of [relaml. Aboutthemiddlcof thcscvtnth 
century the work is nearly accomplished ; the old churches 
abandoned by the Romans have been restored ; many 
others arc built ; one of them stilt exists at BraUfonJ-on- 
Avon in a perfect "itate of preservation ' ; monasteries are 
founded, centres of culture and learning. Some of the rude 
princes who reign in the country set great examples of 
devotion to Christ and submission to the Roman poiitifT. 
They date their charters from the '* reign of our Lord Jesus 
Christ, reigning for ever."' The Princess Hilda founds, in 
the seventh century, the monaster>- of Strcone*haIch, and 
becomes its abbess ; Ceadwalla dies at Rome in 689, and is 
buried in St. Fcler's, under the Portiats Pondficum, oppo- 
site the tomb of St. Gregory the Great.3 .^thelwulf, king 
of the West Saxons, goes also on a pilgrimage to Rome 
" in great state, and remains twelve monthii, after which he 
returns home ; and then Charles, king of the Franks, gave 
htm his daughter in marriage." ♦ He sends his son Alfred 
to the Ktemal City ; and the Pojk: takes a liking to the 
young prince, who was to be Alfred the Great. 

The notion of moderation and measure is unknown to 
these enthusiasts, who easily fall into despair. In the foU 

' This unique moniiincni Kcm* to be of ihe cighlh ccnliir>-. Cf. " Pre- 
Ccnqueil Churches of Notiliiinibri«," an arliclc by C. Ho<ti;ct in ihi; " Reli- 
quary." Julj", 1893. 

• For examplt. chaticr nf Of6i, diied 793, *' Maiihiri Psntknus . , . 
Chronica M«jor»," ed. Luaid (Kolia), vol, vu, ■' AdJiiamcot*," pp. 1, 85, 
ftc> : " Rtciuuilc Duminu iiuatiu Jcbu Cliriato in. [lerpciuum." 

' " King (.endwAlIft't lomb in ihc indcni tMcilica oT St. Pet»." by M. 
Tcwtotii, Rome, 1891, Snt. 

• *' Angtu-}^amn Chrnnifle," ytni 855. The prince*i «a» Judith, daughicr 
DJ^Chiulct the i)>i(l- Hincmar, iifchLiisl>i>]>or Kciois, blcMcd tte morrJBge. 



lowing peritx], after the Norman Conquest, when manners 
and customs were beginning to change, the chronicler, 
William of Mainicsbur>', trying to draw a correct picture 
of the ancient owners of the land, is struck by the 
exaggerations of the Saxons' temperament. Great num- 
bers of them are drunkards, they lead dissolute lives, 
and reign as ferocious tyrants ; great numbers of them, 
too, arc pious, devout, faithful e\"en unto martyrdom : 
" What shall I say of so many bishops, hermits, and 
abbots? The island is rendered famous by the relics of 
native saints, so numerous that it is impossible to visit a 
borough of any importance without hearing the name of a 
new saint. Yel the memory of many has vanished, for 
lack of writers to preserve it !" » 

The taste for proselytism, of which the race has since 
given so many proofs, is early manifested. Once converted. 
the Anglo-Saxons produce missionaries, who in their turn 
carry the glad tidings to their pagan brothers on the 
Continent, and become saints of the Roman Church. St 
Wilfrith leaves Northumberland about 6So, and goes to 
preach the Gospel to the Frisians; St. Willibrord starts 
from England about 690, and settles among the Frisians 
and Danes ■ ; Winfrith, otherwise called St. Boniface (an 
approximate translation of his name), sojourns In Thuringia 
and Bavaria, " sowing," as he says, " the evangelical seed 
among the rude and ignorant tribes of Germany."-^ He 
reoiganises the Church of the Franks, and dies martyrised 

* "Qutij ilienm de tot cpitc(i|»i; . . . "Ac. " Willelml MalmcEtliirienus. . . . 
CetU r^uin Anglarum," «d. Haidy, London, t&fO, 9 v«U 8<ro, vol ij. 

p. 417. 

■ Sm hii will mil vtrioui docunicnu cooecrninK bin tn Mipie's " Pairo- 
lofia," »j1. IxxxU-. col. S35 4t wy. 

> '■ FTnictniisiii t-vilrv picutem tntimi* obMcnimuB pr«ethu« tii nut inter 
fenu t\ i|;niit(u s«ntes GennonMc labomUM, *eittw MciOMitctii cnlionibv* 
adjuTcmur." SoriiUcc to Culhbcihi and wthcre, )xu 735, in Mi|:ae'ti " Potfu- 
lo|{la," vol. luxix., coL. 73S> 


by the Frisians in 755. Scarcely is the hive formed when 
it begins to swartn. The same thing happened with all 
the sects created later in the English land. 


With religion had come Latin tetters. Those same 
Anglo-Saxons, whose literature at tlie time of their invasion 
consisted in the songs mentioned by Tacitus, " carmina 
antiqua," which they trusted to memory alone, who com- 
piled no books and who for written monuments had Runic 
inscriptions graven on utensils or on commemorative 
stones, now have, in their turn, monks who compose 
chronicles, and kings who know Latin. Libraries arc 
formed in the monasteries ; schools arc attached to them : 
manuscripts are there copied and illuminated in beautiful 
caligraphy and splendid colours. The volutes and knots 
with which the worshippers of Woden ornamented their 
fibula, their arms, the prows of their ships, are reproduced 
in purple and azure, in the initials of the Gospels. The use 
made of them is different, the taste remains the same. 

The Anglo-Saxon missionaries and learned men corre- 
spond with each other in tlie language of Rome, Boniface, 
in the wilds of Germany, remains in constant communica- 
tion with the prelates and monks of England ; he begs for 
books, asks for and gives advice ; his letters have come 
down to us, and arc in Latin. Ealhwinc or Alcuin. of 
York, called by Charlemagne to his court, freely bestows, 
in Latin letters, goud advice on his countrymen. He 
organises around the great Emperor a literary academy, 
where each bears an assumed name; Charlemagne has 
taken that of David, his chamberlain has chosen that of 
Tyrcis, and Alcuin that of Horatius Flaccus. In this 
*' hAtcI rie Rambnuillet " of the Karlings, the affected style 
was as much relished as at the fair Arth^nice's, and Alcuin, 




in his barbarous Latin, has a studied elegance might 
vie with the conceits of Voiture.' 

Aldhehn (or Ealdheim. d. 709) writes a treatise on Latin 
prosody, and, adding example to precept, composes riddles 
and a Eulogy of Virgins in Latin verse." ;tddi (Eddius 
Stcphanus} writes a life, aUo in Latin, of his friend St. 

The histor>- of the nation had never been v^rittcn. On 
the Continent, and for a time in the island, rough war-songs 
were the only annals of the Anglo-Saxons. Now they 
have Latin chronieles, a Latin which Tacitus might have 
smiled at, but which he would have understood. Above all, 
they have the work of the Venerable Bede(B^da,, the most 
important Latin monument of all the Anglo-Saxon period. 

Pede was bom in Northumbn'a, about 673, the time when 
the final conversion of England was being accomplished. 
He early enlered the Rcnedictinc monastery of Jarrow, 
and remained there till his death. It was a recently 
founded convent, established by Benedict Biscop. who had 
enriched it with books brought back from his journeys to 
Rome. In this retreat, on the threshold of which worldly 
sounds expired, screened from sorrows, surrounded by 
disciples who called him " dear master, beloved father," 

' " Ideo hcc Vatne Eimlleniiae dico . . . ut *liqitcK ei puerii ncniitt, qui tcdpiiknt n<nh>ii n«e«staria ()uxqii«, el revehunt in Frandam 
t1ci(» HiiiAiiniK: ut aon sit tajitumuioJo iu Ebuiica liuriu^ cunclu&itt^ scd in 
Tutotiicj cmiHionrt Paraditl cum pomniiiTii friirlihu'k ut vcnicnt An>tcr pcr- 
Haic boftut Liyeri* flumbi* ct Utimii aromnu illiiin . . .'' Migne'i " P»iro- 
logia,' vol. C-, cot. loS. Mori}- among Alcuin> tetlenarv diKCled to Anglt>- 
fiixon Icing* whnin lie il<it« nul Tiibtar lo raMigntc, lIiTca.tcniag Ihcm, if occd 
be, with the displcnsurc of ilic raighly cmpctor ; '' SA OfTatn legcm McT- 
dotum;" " Ad Ccrniilvum rccetn Jlcrcionim," ycnr 796, ool. it j, ija. 

• Works in Migric't '" J'iiirKlogij." ml. lxKxi>. cot. 87 tttii). They lucltiile, 
hcbiilct his poetry ("Dclaudi,' Virginiim, "&!.'. I, » prowlicaliM: " De Laudihus 
Vir2iiiiUlii,"and athcrvroilo in iirtitc. He utcuallilerationinhii Latin pocma. 

' " Viu Soncii Wilfridi cpiiCDpi Eboraccnsi^ auciore Eddio Slcphonat" in 
Gale'* " IliMuciic Briiannica:, Saxonica:. Aiv|£lo-U«nicsc Sciiptorts x."* 
Oxford, 1691. 3 volt, (ul-i vol. j. pp. JO II. 


ficdc allowed the years of his life to glide on, bis sole 
ambition being to leam and teach. 

The peaceful calm of this sheltered existence, which 
■came to an end before the time of the Danish invasions, 
is reflected in the writings of Bcde. He left a great 
number of works : interpretation's of the Gospels, homilies, 
letters, lives of saints, works on astronomy, a " De Natura 
Rerum " where he treats of the elements, of comets, of 
winds, of the Nile, of the Red Sea, of Etna; a " De 
Temporibus," devoted to bissextiles, to montlis, to the 
week, to the solstice ; a " De Tcmporum Ratione " on the 
months of the Greeks, Romans, and Angles, the mfx>n and 
its power, the epact, ICaster, &c. He wrote hymns in 
Latin verse, and a life of St Cuthbcrht ; lastly, and above 
all, he compiled in Latin prose, a " Historia ecclcsiastica 
gentis Anglorum,"' which has remained the basis of all the 
histories composed after his. In it Bede shows himself as 
he was : honest, sincere, sedate, and conscientious. He 
quotes his authorities which are, for the description of 
the island and for the most ancient period of his histor)', 
Pliny. Solinus, F.utropius, Orosius, Gildas. From the 
advent of Augustine his work becomes his own ; he 
collects documcTits. memoranda, testimonies, frequently 
legends, and publishes the whole without any criticism, 
but without falsifications. He lacks arc, but not straight- 

Lattnist though he was, he did not despise the national 
literature in spite of iis niggcdncss, He realised it was 
truly a literature ; he made translations in Anglo-Saxon, 
but they arc lost ; he was versed in the national poctr>', 
"doctus in nostris canninibus," writes his pupil Cuthbcrht,' 

' Ed. i^. H. Motwtly. Oifotd, Cliiiendan Ptris. iSSt, %no (oi St«vvaw?ii, 
London, l8}8-N|t, a voJ*. Svo). CumjilcU «ork« in Mign«'k " PaUolugia," 
vol. xc. fl. 

• Lciwc of Cwhberhi, l«t« ■bboi orjairow. lohls friend Cuihwrtne, on the 



who pictures him on his deathbed, muttering Anglo-Saxon 
verses. He felt the charm of the poetic genius of his 
nation, and for that reason has preserved and natvely 
related the episodes of C;e(Imon in his stable," and of the 
Saxon chief comparing human life to the sparrow flying 
across the banquet hall. 

Bcde died on the 27th of May, 735, leaving behind him 
such a renown for sanctity that his bones were the occasion 
for one of those pious thefts common in the Middle Ages, 
In the eleventh century a priest of Durham removed them 
in order to place them in the cathedral of that town, where 
they still remain, St. Boniface, on receiving the news of 
this death, ftir away in Germany, begged his friends in 
?Ingland to send him the works of his compatriot ; the 
homilies of Bedc would assist him, he said, in composing 
his own, and his commentaries on the Scriptures would be 
"a consolation in his sorrows." = 


Anglo-Saxon monks now speak Latin ; some, since the 
coming of Theodore of Tarsus,^ even know a little Greek ; 

dcaihof Bcde, piknicil with the" Hision'&e^ccluluiic*.*' BcilcLiieprejenccd, 
on hu drath-M, "in niMta lingiu, 111 erat docius In iKMrit (Sirtuinibu. 
diccnt de terribili extlu juiuiiatuin c cucpote : 

Fore ihe nei-facnw 
Nacnig uuiuilhil 
Thonc Mioiumu . . ." 

BcOc had iiantUied ihc Cotpcl oS S[. John, bnt this wixk is lost. 

■ -Sec bctow, p. 70. 

• Ijiiler of ihe year 7JS. " Cuihbeito <I alii* " ; tetlw of 736 to Efcberbt. 
uchbiihup of York. He t«fi«e^ (he Imoki, ftoil enpicwct his lUli^t at 
them ; he rxuAi in oichanje pieces of cloth to Ecgbcrhi ; Icitcr of ihe yrai 
742; ■' ruttologia," vol. IxMJi. 

' Aichhishop of Conicihury, Mvrnth century. 


an Anglo-Saxon king sleeps at Rome, under the portico of 
St Peter's ; Woden has left heaven ; on the soil convulsed 
by so many wars, the leading of peaceful, sheltered lives, 
entirely dedicated to study, has become possible : and such 
was the case with Bcdc. Has the nation rcatiy changed 
and do we find ourselves already in the presence of men 
with a partly latinised genius, such men as the English 
were hereafter to be? Not yet. The heart and mind 
remain the same ; the surface alone ts modified, and that 
slightly. The full infusion of the Latin clement, which is 
to transform the Anglo-Saxons into English, will take 
place several centuries hence, and will be the result of a 
last invasion. The genius of the Teutonic invaders con- 
tinues nearly intact, and nothing proves this more clearly 
than the Christian poetry composed in the native tongue, 
and produced in Britain after the conversion. The same 
impetuosity, passion, and lyricism, the same magnificent 
apostrophes which gave its character to the old pagan 
poetry- are found i^aiii in Christian songs, as well as the 
same recurring alternatives of deep melancholy and noisy 

The Anglo-Saxon poet« describe the saints of the 
Gospel, and it seems as though the companions of Beowulf 
stood again before us : " So, we have learned, in days 
of yore, of twelve beneath the stars, heroes gloriously 
blessed." These " heroes," these " warriors," are the twelve 
apostles. One of them, St, Andrew, arrives in an unin- 
habited country; not a desert in Asia, nor a soiiiude in 
Greece ; it might be the abode of Grendel : " Then was 
the saint in the shadow of darkness, warrior hard of 
courage, the whole night long with various thoughts beset ; 
snow bound the earth with winter-casts ; cold grew the 
storms, with hard hail-showcrs ; and rime and frost, the 
hoary warriors, locked up the dwellings of men, the settle- 
ments of the people; frozen were the lands with cold 


icicles, shrunk the water's might ; over the river streams, 
the ice made a bridge, a pale water road," ' 

They have accepted the religion of Rome ; they believe 
in the God of Mercy ; they have faith in the apostles 
preaching the doctrine of love to tJie world: peace on 
earth to men of good will ! But that warlike race would 
think it a want of respect to see in the apostles mere 
Pacificiy and in the Anglo-Saxon poems they are constantly 
termed " warriors." 

At several different times these ne\v Christians translated 
parts of the Bible into verse, and the Bible became Anplo- 
Saxon, not only in language, hut in tone and feeling as 
well. The first attempt of this kind was made by that 
herdsman of the seventh century, named C«dmon, whose 
histor)' has been told by Bede. He was so little gifted by 
nature that when he sat, on feast day.s, at one of those 
meals " where the custom is that each should sing in turn, 
he would leave the table when he saw the harp approaching 
and return to his dwelling," unable to find verses cosing 
like the others. One night, when the harp had thus put 
him to flight, he had, in the stable where he was keeping 
the cattle, a vision. "Sing me something," was the com- 
mand of a mysterious being. " I cannot," he answered, 
*'and the reason why I left the hall and retired here is that 
I cannot sing." "But sing thou must" "What shall i 
sing, then?" "Sing the origin of things," Then came at 
once into his mind "excellent vci-ses" ; Bede translates a 
few of them, which arc verj' flat, but he generously lays the 
fault on his own translation, saying: "Verses, even the 
very best, cannot be turned word for word from one 
language into another without losing much of their beauty 

• J. M. Kembic, " Code« Vweellciwls," Londftn, .itlfrie Sociely, 1847-56J 
PjitI 1., 11. 1 9., 3507 ff., "Andtdu," allribultrd 10 Cyncwulf. Onlhik^ut*- 
liooi, tec Golkaci, " CyncwuITs Chriii," Loadon, 1891, p. 17J. 


and dignity," > a remark which has stood true these 
many centuries. Taken to the abbess Hilda, of Strconcs- 
halch, Cardmon rouscJ the admiration of all. became a 
monk, and died like a >iaint, " and no one since, in the 
English race, has ever been able to compose pious poems 
equal to his, for he was inspired by God, and had learnt 
nothing of men." Some tried, however. 

An incomplete translation of the Bible in Anglo-Sason 
verses has come down to us, the work apparently of 
several authors of different epochs.^ Cxdmon may be one 
of them : the question has been the cause of immense 
discussion, and remains doubtful. 

The tone is haughty and peremptory in the impa.isioncd 
parts ; abrupt appositions keep the attention fixed upon 
the main quality of the characters, the one by which they 
are meant to live in memory: triumphant accents accom- 
pany the tales of war ; the dismal landscapes are described 
with care, or rather with loving delight. Ethereal personages 

' " Neque Miim fH^ttunt mrminii, quamvis opiJm« compoiita t% alia in 
alUn liiieu&in ad vnbuni iiiiic ilctrimento *ui ilc«i»b M lUgitruiu iraiuftrrii" 
" ITUcorin Fcclcwivicn," honk iv. ch»p- x«iv. 

' " CaNlmon'ft inctriaU lutniihrnxc of parii of Ihe Holy Scripture in .\ni;lo> 
Saxon, will) bd En{>Iish tnailaiion." by U. I'hurpt, London. Society ol Antl> 
qaarin, iSjI, Svo, An r<lilicin l>y Junius {Franci* tlujon by hU Ini* n«)n«, 
botn At llcitlclbcig, d. M ^\'indK(T, i678> hod been published at ADtttcr^m 
in 1655. uid toAj hare bern l(n»ivn In Mittun [r/. " CtMlmon und MUcon," by 
R. WiUcker, iii " Aiiglia," vul. Iv. j>. 401 ). Junius wu the lirtit to titiiibute 
diu wionymocM potsn. or falhtT cnlicplinn nf pormt (" Gctic-Wt." " Exndut." 
*' DAnicI," " Chr ut nnd Satan ") in Credmon. " Gcneri* " l« mode up of Iwo 
diffncat veiMuns of iJifEn«nt dalo, clumul)' |>ul luticlher. Curiiian critics, siiil 
oiwdaHf Prof. Ed. Sicvcr« (" Dc> lldiand." Hnlk. 1875), lia^x conclu- 
ftvelj shown Ihat liiiM I M ij[, and S53 to ihc end, bclQi))- to iIif <uinic and 
oMtr Tcrsion {potdbly hj Cxdmun) : linn 235 tu 851, inierled wiihout much 
cue. w Ihcf retell pan of [he iitory tu be (mind hImj in ihr oMct icr*ii>n, ue of 
ft more tcccnt dalci and ihnw a »tr(in|£ resemblance m the old Ijcnnaiiic |tacni 
" HelisDd " iHnlcr. Stiviour) In alliterative verse, of the ninth centur>'. 

Another biblical Wiry wu paraphrueil in Angln-.Suon venc, and wnu the 
subject of the beftuiiftil poem of " Jndiih," pceurved in the came MS. a* 
"Bc9<n^." Grcin'i-BiUivlhek," vol. i. 


become in thi»i popular Bible tangible realities. The fiend 
approaches Paradise with the rude wiles of a peasant 
Before starting he takes a helmet, and fastens it tightly on 
his head. He presents himself to Adam as coming from 
God: "The all-powerful above will not have trouble him* 
self, that on his journey he should come, the Lord of 
men, but he his vassal scndeth." ' 

Hell, the deluge, the corruption of the grave, the last 
judgment, the cataclysms of nature, are favourite subjects 
with these poets. Inward sorrows, gnawing thoughts that 
" besicf^c " men, doubts, remorse, gloomy landscapes, all 
atford them abundant inspiratiort Satan in his hell has 
fits of anguish and hatred, and the description of his 
tortures seems a rude draft of Milton's awful picture. 

Cynewulf," one of the few poets of the Anglo-Saxon 
period known by name, and the greatest of all, feels the 
pangs of despair ; and then rises to ecstasies, moved by 
religious love ; he speaks of his return to Christ with a 
passionate fervour, foreshadowing the great conversions of ' 
the Puritan epoch. He ponders over his thoughts " in the 
narrowness of night ... I was stained with my deeds, 

• " Metrical PunipHmsc." pp. 29 flf. 

• yam poem» liave tome down 10 us signed by mc»ni of an attotUc on the 
Runic leilersor hit luime : " Elenr" {on lh« 5nriing of the crnsi), '* Fal«f of 
Ihe AixxsIIm'' (Uilh in "Codex VctccllctisU "), "Julkiu." Md "ChrUt" 0" 
" Codex Exonidub"! ; n tcpotatc edition oi " Chrbt " hu beeo Kivcn by M. 
GoTlancx, tjondon. 1892, Svo. Many oiliei pocnit. and even the whole at 
" Code« Verfellenii}," bave htea sttribuied lo him. The eighiy-nLn« riddlet 
of" CodeK Enoniensif, " lomc of which eoniintie lo pattXe ih* rndcn of out d«jf, 
uc also couudcied If tome m hi»: one ol the riddlet it wud to couUun « 
charade on hi» tuitnc, but theie ue doubia i am(ile discutaoiu have taken place, 
■nd xuihoiiiic* di»ii[tcc : " The eichty-sixlb liddlc. which concerns a wolf and 
■ »he*p, wai lelaied." taiil Diriri<;h, "10 CynpwuK;" but Profinsor Morley 
ooniiijcn that ihli mjhc tiddlc " tncanc Ihe overcoming of the Devil hy the hand 
of God." Slopford Brooke, " Emrlj- English Lilctaluie," chap, xxii. Mmi; 
of Ihnie riddles were adapted frum ihc LatJii ofAlillielEn and others- ThlssoR 
of pucUy enjoyed gicat fnvciur, >^ the Scnndinavian " Corpuf PoclJCUm " alio 
lesiitiM. Whai is " Men's dtnutgef . wonix' hindetet. and }-et words' aiousR}" 
— ■• Ale." " Corpus Poeticum," v. p. 87. 


bound by my sins, buffeted with sorrows, bitterly bound, 
with misery encompassed. . . ." Then the cross appears 
to him in the depths of heaven, surrounded by angels, 
sparkling iviih jewels, flowing with blood. A sound breaks 
through the sitence of the firmament ; life has been given 
to "the best of trees," and it<s : "It was long ago, 
yet I remember tt, that I was cut down, ai the end of a 
wood, stirred from my sleep." The cross is carried on the 
top of a mountain ; " Then the young licro made ready, 
that was Almighty God. ... I trembled when the champion 
embraced me." ' 

The poem in which St Andrew figures as a "warrior 
bold in war," attributed also to the same Cyncwulf, is filled 
by the sound of the sea ; all the sonorities of the ocean are 
beard, with the cadence and the variety of the ancient 
Scandinavian sagas ; a multitude of picturesque and living 
exprcisions designate a ship : *' Foamy -necked it farcth, 
likcst unto a bird it glideth over ocean;" it follows the 
path of the swans, and of the whales, borne by the ocean 
stream " to the rolling of the waters . . . the clashing of tlie 
sea-streams . . . the clash of the waves." The sea of 
these poets, contrar>' to what Tacitus thought, was not a 
slumbering sea ; it quivers, it foams, it sings. 

St Andrew decides to punish by a miracle the wild 

' ■• ideoe." in " Code* VerceUemi*." pan ii. p. 73. «nd " Holy Rood " (iSiU 
bn of doulitful tuthorihip), iHJ. pp. S4 fT. IJirn rr^emhling lome of the 
vctM* in '* Holy Rood " have l>e«n found engnved in Runic ieltcra on ihecrOM 
ftl Rulhwcll, Scotland ; tlis inKription aod cron axe reproduced in " VetuRs 
UonumcDta," vol. iv. p. 54 ; see alia G. Stcpheiu, " Th.e old Northetn Runic 
■nonnmenu or Scandinavia snd Ciuglaiid." London, 1866-8, 1 volt. Tol., 
•ol i- pp- 405 ff. Rcwmblanccs have »\io bcon poinicd out, showing ihc trt- 
qnencc of such po«ti<&l ftguic*. with (he Ant:la-;>«xon in»aiption of a icliquaty 
proerved at Bruttds : '' Rood is niy namd I once bote the lidi king, I was 
w« wllh dripploK Wood." The idiquaty conittlni % piece of the ttuc aon, 
whicbisiuppwcd to spnh Ihev words. The date i« believed lo be about IioOl 
H, Logenan, " L'tnteription .Angla.Soxonne du lelifuniTe de U vratc croix 
«ti Uhot de I'^iw det SS. Michel cl Uudule," (Juid, I'arit and London, 
1B91, frro Iwilh kcuroiic), pp. 7 and II. 



inhabitants of the land of Mcrmcdonia. Wc behold, as in 
the iNorthcm sagas, an impressive scene, and a fantastic 
landscape : " He saw by the wall, wondrouN fast upon the 
plain, mig;hty pillars, columns standing driven by the 
storm, the antique works of giants. . . . 

"Hear thou, marble stone! by the command of God, 
before whose face all creatures shall tremble, . . . tiow let 
from thy foundation streams bubble out ... a rushing 
stream of water, for the destruction ol men. a gushing 
ocean t . . . 

" The stone split open, the stream bubbled forth ; it 
flowed over the ground, the foaming billows at break of 
day covered the earth, . . ." 

The sleeping warriors are awakened by this "bitter 
service of beer." They attempt to "fly from the yellow 
stream, they would save their lives in mountain caverns " ; 
but an angel " spread abroad over the town pale fire, hot 
warlike flnods." and barred them the way ; " the waves 
waxed, the torrents roared, fire-sparks flew aloft, the flood 
boiled with its waves ;" on all sides were heard groans and 
the " death-song." * Let us stop ; but the poet continues ; 
he is enraptured at the sight ; no other description is so 
minutely drawn. Ariosto did not (tnd a keener delight in 
describing with leisurely pen the bower of Alcina. 

The religious poets of the Anglo-Saxons open the 
graves ; the idea of death haunts them as much as it 
did their pagan ancestors ; they look intently at the 
"black creatures, grasping and greedy," and follow the 
process of decay to the end. They address (he impious 
dead : " It would have beeti better for thee very much . . . 
that thou hadst been created a bird, or a fish in the sea, or 

' " CoHot Vcr«-1kfin»." pnrt i. pp, 39,86 ff. " Andrt**" U iniitatttl from 
• Greek itcvy of Si. Aodrcw, of wUicli lomc Latin vctsion wai probaUy l:nown 
to ihe AnglO'Saxun jucl. 1l ws callril '' IIpiiEtic 'AfJiMuu cni Mart'uioi' : " a 
copy of tt b picKived in the N»ioim) Librmry, fuit, Greek MS. $Si. fol. 


like an ox upon the caiih hadst found thy nurture going 
in the Beld.a brute without understanding ; or in the desert 
of wild beasts the worst, yea, though thou hadnt been of 
serpents the fiercest, then as God willed it, than thou ever 
on earth shouldst become a man, or ever baptism should 
receive." * 

. . . This Miul should fly ftom mc. 
And 1 be changed tnio xiinc Imiiith beaiL 
All IwnBtB arc happy, for when thej' die 
Tbcir wuli arc toon diMolvcd in ckiucnta. . ■ . 
O »oiiI ' be chan};c(l into fniall wWcr-diciii* 
Anil hll iuio the (xx«n ; ne'ci be (uunil. 

So will, unknown to him, the very same thoughts be 
expressed by an English poet of a later day.* 

Dialt^es are not rare in these poems ; bul Ihey generally 
differ very much from the familiar dialogue of the Celts. 
Thej* are mostly epic in character, lyric in tone ; with 
abrupt apostrophes causing the listener to start, like the 
sudden sound of a trumpet. When the idea i.s more fully 
developed the dialogue becomes a succession of discourses, 
full of eloquence and power sometimes, but still discourses. 
We are equally far in both cases from the conversational 
style so frequent in the Irish stories.^ 

• "Deponed SodI'k Addrew lo the Body." "Codex Vcreellenwa," part ii. 

■ Maflowe's •• Dr. Fanrtni.'' See also. " Kc Doidcs Diege," a poetnoa the 
tcrron oTjudenicnt (cd. Lumby, Euly EngliUi Tut Sociciiy, 1876)- 

* Sec ciamtilct of such dklogiica nnd >]«cchc> in " Andrcu " ; " The Holy 
Rood" (in "Cod. Vaccll."): in Cynewulf* " thml " ("C«). tUani. 
«iuai"), &e. In thi* 1»« poem oonn one of ihc few exampki v« have ol 
faoiiliat dialoifue iii An|jlo-Si«in (* dinl'igiic lictwcrn Mary aiKl Ju«c]>hi (be 
looc of which recalls ihc MysicriM of dialer date) ; hut it Kcm.f 10 be" derived 
from an undiscovered hymn ar^u^^ Tnr rcciul liy half chuin." Gotlniica. 
"Christ," Introd., p. ui. AiiMher example con^lsis In Ihe Kene of the 
Icmpuilon in Ctntiii \Cf. ".S. Aviii , . . Mennrntii Opera," Paris, 1643 
p- IjO). See alto the pro*c " Dialo^tnc of Salomon and Satutnu* " ( Kcmble, 
^Ifiic Society, i848< Svo), an adapuiloii of a work of e«Mern origin. 
popnkt oa the Contiocal, and the hmc of which laMcd all t}iioLi|;h ihe Middle 



The devotional poetry of the Anglo-Saxons includes 
translations of the Tsalms," Hves of saints, maxima, moral 
poems, and symbolic ones, whete the supposed habits of 
animals are used to illusirale the duties of Christians. One 
of this latter sort has for its subject the whale " full of 
guile," another the panther'; a third (incomplete) the 
partridge; a fourth, by a different hand, and evincing a 
very different sort of poetical taste, the phenix. This poem 
is the only one in the whole range of Anglo-Saxon litera- 
ture in which the warmth and hues of the south are pre- 
served and sympathetically described. It is a great change 
to find a piece of some length with scarcely any frost in it, 
no stormy waves and north wind. The poet is himself 
struck by the difference, and notices that It is not at all 
there "as here with, us," for there ** nor hail nor rime on the 
land descend, noi windy cloud," In the land of the phenix 
there is neither rain, nor cold, nor too great heat, nor steep 
mountains, nor wild dales ; there are no cares, and no 

AgH ftnd lh« RaiuUinrcKr ; it was wril krnwn lo Rabtlftii; : " Qui ne a'Adven- 
tuic tt'a dleval ni mule, ec diet Snlomon. — Qui irop R'^dvcntuic pcrd cbc^nl et 
mole lopoikdit Ma]con.'' " Vic de Outcsniua.*' Salurnua plajrn tlic part of 
ihe Miilcon o* Matcul of ihe French vctblon ; ih« AnuluSnxon icxi is a dfrJaciic 
timtiK, cut in(oqumioi\«niidati«wri(: "' Tdl mp Ihe suhfUnd; of which Adnm 
t)i« fifU vun wojt nsAdc. — 1 tell ihee of «ight poundi by w«ighl.-~Tcll rat what 
they kic called.— I IcU thee the Atst wajt n pvvind uf i.-aith.'' &c- fp- iSl). 

' MS> LaI. 8S24 ill ihc Forli N&tiunal Lfliiary, Initio and Anglo-Saxon, 
kume peii'Ond-lnk drawings: " Cr'livre cM m due dc Berry— Jchan." It has 
lieen puhliihcd by Thorpe; " Libri rtalititieum, cum inirjLjjhmi Anglo- 
^xonioi," l^ndon, I>i35, 8vo. See nl>o " Etdwinc't CaritetlHiry piallOT " 
(Ulin and Aiii;b Saion}. ed. F. Hartley, E.E.T.S- , 1889 ft, S»w. 

' Iq "Codci EnoiiJcnils." Sciirsof wriungtof ihi« kind cnjoycdBian early 
dale a wide populnriiy ; th^ were called " Phyiiioloei " ; there are iodic in 
nearljr all the Ungtuagex of Eumjie. uIko in Syruc, Arabic. Ethiupim. &c. The 
original wem* to have be*n composefi in Grwk, m .\l<\andria, in the tecond 
centuryoroutcia(F-Lau<hKt."<>c3<:}i]chta<le*Pb]rskilog:ua,"Slraabourg, 1889, 
8rol. To Ihe " Fhysiologi " succeeded in ihc Middle Ages '" BesiiariM," 
wurlt* of Ihe same son. which were dlsu very niinicrou« and vetj- ixtpular. A 
number of comnvenfilaee uyingi e>t beliefs, which have survived up to onr day 
(Ihclailhrulncvi of the dove, the falherty love of the pelican), are derii*!! from 


sorrows. But there the plains arc evergreen, the trees 
always bear fruit, the plants arc covered with flowers It 
is the home of the peerless bird. lUs eyes turn to the sun 
when it rises in the cast, and at night he " looks earnestly 
when shall come up gliding from the east over the spacious 
aca, heaven's beam." He sings, and men nc%'cr heard 
anytiung so eNquisitc. His note is more bcautifjl than 
the sound of the human voice, than that of trumpets and 
homs. than that of the harp, than " any of those sounds that 
the Lord has created for delight to men in this sad world." 
When he grows old, he flies to a desert place in Syria. 
Then, " when the wind is still, the weather is fair, clear 
heaven's gem holy shines, the clouds are dispelled, the 
bodies of waters stand still, when every storm is luU'd 
under heaven, from the south shines nature's candle 
warm," the bird begins to build itself a nest in the 
branches, with forest leaves and sweet-smelling herbs. 
As the heat of the sun increases " at summer's tide," the 
perfumed vapour of the plants rises, and the nest and 
bird are consumed. There remains something resembling 
a fruit, out of which comes a worm, that develops into 
a bird with goi^cous wings. Thu:i man, in harvest-time, 
heaps grains in his dwelling, before " frost and snow, with 
their predominance earth deck, with winter weeds." From 
these seeds in springtime, as out of the ashesof the phenix, 
will come forth living things, stalks bearing fruits, "earth's 
treasures." Thus man, at the hour of death, renews his 
life, and receives at God's hands youth .ind endless joy.i 

' "Codex ExonicniU," pp. 197 ff. This p<wm iiapara|>hr*»« of a "C»nn«n 
de Pbacnicc " autibuicd to LActoniiu*, SlkJ with conceits in Um wont luW : 
Mon illi vcnu* eii ; lola mi in mort* voluptu i 

Ul powit nmci hstc app«tit Ante niori. 
IpM libi proles, «ius e»t pain ci tuu^ h.-ercs. 

Nuiiis Ipu ii\, semper alumni sibi ; 
IpM quidcm, m<1 non cadeni, qu» csl ipm Dec ip«& e*t. ■ . ■ 

"InocTti •uciurii Phcciiiit, Lacianclo inbutut," In Mignc't " PatroTogift," 
W.I. vii. col, 377. 




There are, doubtless, rays of light in Anglo-Saxon 
literature, which appear all the more brilliant for being 
surrounded by shadow ; but this example of a poem 
sunny throughout is unique. To find others, we must 
wait till Anglo-Saxon has become English literature. 


Besides their Latin writings and their devotional poems, 
the converted Anglo-Saxons produced many prose works 
in their national tongue. GennanJc England greatly 
differed in this from Germanic France. In the latter 
country the language of the Franks does not becotne 
acclimatised ; they see it themselves, and feel the im- 
possibility of resisting ; Latin as in general use, they have 
their national law written in Latin, Lix Saliea. The 
popular speech, which will later become the French 
language, is nothing but 3 Latin palots, and is not 
admitted to the honour of being written. Notwithstand- 
ing all the care with which archives have been searched, 
no specimens of French prose have been discovered for 
the whole time corresponding to the Anglo-Saxon period 
save one or two short* fragments.' With the Anglo- 
Saxons, laws.' chronicles, and sermons for the common 
people were written in the national tongue ; and, as Latin 

' The mcDl iniporUint of which blhe famousSttasliourgpltdEc, Fcbtuttry 19, 
843, [ircSL-rved by the contempomy hislorUil NilhatJ. S« "Lci pliuandcni 
moniimcnU dc 1ft lan^ tna<p\u," by C«ston Furia, Socittj dcs ancient 
TextM, i87Si 'ol- 

* Thoipe, " Ancient L«vj mA Insiitulci of Enclond," London, 1840, 
t vol. fol. i Uwi of Inn, king of Wcaacx, 688-;jli, of Alfred, ^thclsUn, 
tee. We have alto con^idcnhle qiianiilies of d«^s and chatien. some tn 
Ijitin and mme ia ADgtu-SaKun. Sec J. M. Krmhle, " Coden Diplonuticus 
/■Evi Snxonici," Engliih lliwonc*! Sociely, 1S39-40, 6 voli. Svo; De Gray 
BiruL, " Catluluium Saxonicuiii, 01 liCullccliuu of Chsrlcra lelating lo Anglo- 
Sajion [iMlory," London, iSSj S. 4101 Eide. "A HandbcgV to the l^d 
Cbailen, and oihei Saxonic Uocumenu," Oxford, 1BS8, 8vo. 



was only understood by few, to these monuments was 
added a series of translations.* The English country can 
thus pride itself upon a literature which for antiquity is 
unparaJIclcd in Europe 

The chief promoter of the art of prose was that Alfred 
(or Aclfrcd) whom Pope Leo IV. had adopted as a spiritual 
son, and who reigned over the West Saxons from 87 1 to 901. 
'^'^etwecn the death of Bcdc and the accession of Alfred, 
a great change had occurred in the island ; towards the 
end of the eighth centur>' a new foe had appeared, the 
Scandinavian invader. Stormy days have returned, the 
flood-gates have reopened ; human torrents sweep the 
land, and each year spread further and destroy more. In 
vain the Anglo-Saxon kings, and in France the successors 
of Charlemagne, annually purchase their departure, thus 
following the example of falling Rome. The northern 
hordes come again in greater numbers, allured by the 
ransoms, and they cAtty home such quantities of English 
coins that " at this day lari^er hoards of .^thelred the 
Second's coins have been found in the Scandinavian 
countries than in our own, . , . and the national museum 
at Stockholm is richer in this series than our own national 
collection."" These men, termed Danes, Northmen, or 
Normans, by the Anglo-Sa>con and French chroniclerii, reap- 

■ TniMkdaai of *cienlific ItcklitM tudi U th4 " D« Naluni Rerum " of 
IJcdc, nude in thc(cntticrniury(Wnghi's"I^piilMT(cuuca on Science," 1S41, 
8vo) ; various CrcaliMr^ jiublbhrcl l,y Cockayne, " Lccchdam*, W'oilcunninGI 
sncl Suwcfofi . . . b«iDg a Cvlleiiiuii o( Documenu . . . illuHtmimg Ihe 
Hiftofy at Science . . . before the Norman Conqunt," 1864, 3 vols. Svo 
{Rolb]i. — Tnnalalion eX the Kk-callcd " ICpiilols Alcxniiilii ml Ari*lvlclrai " 
(Codwyae, "Natnliuncnlw," 1861, Svo. And " Atii^lisi," vol, iv. p. 139); ol 
iheUMoiy of "A|KiUonii»of Tytc " iThorpc, Lonilon, [8j4. iimol.^Tiam- 
huions t>j King Alfred kod liJs biihnpt, »n btlow p|>. 81 ff. The moiiu- 
menisof AnglnSaton pro«c have hcea eaWearA by Grrin, " Biblioihek cUr 
An){eb«chHKhcn IVvut," «d. Wulk«r, Caticl, 1S71 H. 

* Gructfci Mid Kouy, "A Cuialoguc ul English Coins in the British 
Mnwum," Anglo-Saxoo tciir*. vol. ii. 1893, Svci, p. Ixxii. 



pcarcd each year ; then, h'ke the Germanic pirates of the fifth 
century, spared themselves the trouble of useless journeys, 
and remained in the proximity of plunder. They settled 
first on the coasts, then in the interior. We find them 
established in France about the middle of the ninth 
century; in England they winter in Thanet for the first 
time in 851, and after that do not leave the country. 
The small Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, alive only to local 
interests, and unable to unite in a common resist-ince, 
are for them an easy pre}'. The Scandinavians move 
about at iheir ease, sacking London and the other towns. 
They renew their ravages at regular intervals, as men 
would go fishing at the proper season.' They are 
designated throughout the land by a terribly significant 
word: "the Army." Wlien the Anglo-Saxon chronicles 
make mention of "the .Army" the northern vikings 
arc always meant, not the <Iefenders of the country. 
Monasteries arc burnt by the invaders with no more 
rcmurse than if they were peasants* huts ; the vikings 
do not believe in Christ. Once more, and for the ieist 
time, Woden has worshippers in Britain. 

Harassed by the Danes, having had to flee and dis- 
appear and hide himself, Alfred, after a long period of 
reverses, resumed the contest with a better chance, and 
succeeded in setting limits to the Scandinavian incursions. 
England was divided in two parts, the north belonging to 
the Danes, and the south to Alfred, with Winchester for his 

In the tumult caused by these new wars, what the 

■ Aeeerdtng to ovidence derived from plaee-nntnct, (be Danish Invadera 
have left ihcii tlronE"t nuuV in Vortshiie ■oJ Lincolmhitc, and iiftei thai in 
" Lclccsicnhirc, Ruibntl, Nuliiii£!iiin, lUid Eui Aaglia." Kearjr, " Vildngs 
in Wmicrn Chiiatcmlom," 1891. p. 353- 

■ P«ace o( Wnjmnre, ntani by Alfred and Guthrum the Dsne, S78. Titt 
icit of ili« agreement hat be«n pmerved and figutts among Uie lawt qI 


Saxons had received of Roman culture had nearly all been 
swept away. Books had been burnt, clerks had forgotten 
their Latin ; the people were relapsing by degrees into 
barbarism. Formerly, said Alfred, recalling to mind the 
time of Bede and Alcuin, " foreigners came to this land in 
search of wisdom and instruction, and we should now have 
to get them from abroad if we wanted to have them." He 
does not believe there existed south of the Thames, at the 
time of his accession, a single Englishman " able to trans- 
late a letter from Latin into English. When I considered alt 
this, I remembered also how I saw, before it had been all 
ravaged and burnt, how the churches throughout the whole 
of England stood filled with treasures and books, and there 
was abo a great multitude of God's servants, but they had 
very little knowledge of the books, for thc>' could not 
understand anything of tlicm, because they were not writ- 
ten in their own language." It is a great wonder that men 
of the preceding generation, "good and wise men who were 
formerly aJl o\*er England," wrote no translation. There 
can be but one explanation: "They did not think that 
men would ever be so careless, and that learning would 
so decay." Still the case is not absolutely hopeless, for 
there are many left who "can read English writing." Re- 
membering which, " I began, among other various and 
manifold troubles of this kingdom, to translate into 
English the book which is called in Latin Pastoralis. and 
in English Shepherd's Book (' Hirdeboc '), sometimes word 
for word, and sometimes according to the sense, as I had 
learnt it from PIcgmund my archbishop, and Asscr my 
bishop, and Grimbold my mass-priest, and John my mass- 
priest,'" » These learned meoj and especially the Welsh- 

' H. Sw«C(, "Kifl^ A!frtii'» WcU-Saion vct»iun fA GrcEory'» Pwtonl 
Cue, willt u l£ii);lbli IranilutiDn,"' London, hlsil)- l£ngliiJi Text Srcicty, 
1871-73, 8vo, pp. 3 IT. Plci;niuiiil was an An t;lu- Saxon, .AaHer ■ WcUhmsn, 
Grimbold n Frank, John a Saxon ffi^m coniinenul Sajiony. 




man Asser, who was to Alfred what Akuin was to 
Charlemagne, helped hira to spread learning by means of 
tranttlationii and by founding schools. They explained to 
him the hard passages, to the best of their understanding, 
which it is true was not always perfect. 

Belonging to the Germanic race by his bloud, and to the 
Latin realm by his culture, keeping as much as he could 
the Roman ideal before his eyes, Alfred evinced during all 
his life that composite genius, at once practical and 
passionfttc, which was to be. after the Norman Conquest, the 
genius of the English people. He was thus an exceptional 
man, and showed himself a real Englishman before the 
time. Forsaken by all, his destruction being, as it seemed, 
a question of days, he docs not yield ; he bidca his time, 
and begins the Bght again when the day ha^ come. His 
soul is at once noble and positive ; he does not busy him- 
self with learning out of vanity or curiosity or for want of 
a pastime ; he wishes to gather from books <iubstantial 
benefits for his nation and himself. In his wars he 
remembers the ancients, works upon their plans, and finds 
thai they answer well. He chooses, in order to translate 
them, books likely to fill up the greatest gaps in the minds 
of his countr>'mcn. " snmc books which arc most needful 
for all men to know," ' the book of Orosius, which will be 
for them as a handbook of universal history ; the Ecclesi- 
astical History of Bcdc. that will instruct them concerning 
their own past. He teaches laymen their duties with the 
" Consolation " oi Boctluus, and ecclesiastics with the 
Pastoral Rule of St Gregory." 

' PmCkw of GwBorj'i " P»sioral Cdtc." 

' Kinc AlltwJ'i " Oroiim," ed. H. Sweet. Eatly Hngliih Text Sodetj, 
|8S]. Svu. Oni'iiut wiu>a SjKinutfi). who wtolF at the beginning of Ibc fifth 
ccntmy. — "The OM l£ngli»h V'citbn of IkJcA EcclcuuLical Hblurjr of ihe 
Ein:1!jh Prnplc." cd. T. MiJIn. E.E.T.S., 1890, The «u(hci)riciiy of thia 
ttatiKlaiiun h.dtiubtlul ; s«« Miller's inlioduciion.— *' King Alfred's Anglo* 
Saxon Vt^moD of Botthjus,~ ed. S< Fo«i London, iKb4, Svo. — " King 


His sole aim being to instruct, he does not hesitate to 
curtail his authors when their discourses are useless or 
too long, to comment upon them when obscure, to add 
passages when his own icnowledge allows htm. In his 
translation of Bcdc, he sometimes contents himself with 
the titles of the chapters, supprL*ssing the rest ; in his 
Orosius he supplements the description of the world by 
details he has collected himself concerning those r^ions of 
the North which had a national interest for his compatriots. 
He notes down, as accurately as he can, the words of a 
Scandina\*ian whom he had seen, and who had undertaken 
a voyage of discovery, the first journey towards the pole of 
which an account has come down to us : 

"Obthere told his lord, king Alfred, that he dwelt north- 
most of all Northmen. Hesaid that he dwell in the land to 
the northward, along the west sea.' He said, however, that 
that land is very long north from thence, but it is all waste, 
except in a few places where the Fin* here and there 
dwell, for hunting in the winter, and in the summer for 
fishing in that sea. He »aid that he was desirous to try, 
once on a time, how far that country extended due north ; 
or whether any one lived to the north of the waste. He 
then went due north, along the country', leaving all the 
way, the waste land on the right, and the wide sea on the 
left, for three days : he was as far north as the whale- 
hunters go at the farthest Then he proceeded in his 
course due north as far as he could sail within another 
three day*. Then the land there inclined due cast, or the 
sea into the land, he kneiv not which ; but he knew that 
he there waited for a west wind, or a little north, and 
sailed thence eastward along that land, as far as he could 

AUrtd'* Weti-Scxon vnnon *A Crcgoty-'n Paciriral Care," cd. H. Sweat, 
E-E.T-S.. 1871-2- Tliu lul u the lacKt failUul of Alficd't trttiuUtioru ; he 
Bitacfocd gmt iwiKXtancc (o the work, and mdi b cnpy of it. lo all lii» bishops, 
Thecopy "rWct)ertti,lH»h«potWofeMicr. i»|)rocri'cilinlhe IkHlleiaii Libmry. 
' The left 10 tlie wm uf Norway, ihui it ihe GeiniBn Ocnn. 



sail tn four days." He arrives at a place where the land 
turns to the south, evidently surrounding the White Seaj, 
and he finds a broad river, doubtless the Dwina. that he 
dares not cross on account of the hostility of the inhabitAnts. 
This was ihc first tribe he had come across since his de* 
parturc ; he had only seen here and there some Fins» 
hunters and fishers. " He went thither chiefly, in addition 
to seeing the country, on account of the walruses, because 
they have vcr)' noble bones in their teeth ; soma of those 
teeth they brought to the king ; and their hides are very- 
good for ship ropes." Ohthere, adds Alfred, was very rich ; 
he had six hundred tame reindeer ; he said the province 
he dwell in was called Helgoland, and that no one lived 
north of him.* The traveller gave also some account of 
lands more to the ?;ouih, and even more interesting for his 
royal listener, namely Jutland, Seeland, and Sleswig, that 
is, as Alfred is careful to notice, the old mother country : 
" In these lands the Angles dwelt, before they came hither 
to tliis land." 

When he has to deal with a Latin author. Alfred uses as 
much liberty. He takes the book thai the adviser of 
Thcodoric the Great, Hoethius, had composed nhilc in 
prison, and in which we sec a personified abstraction. 
Wisdom, bringing consolation to the unfortunate man 
threatened with death. No work was more famous in the 
Middle Ages ; it helped to spread the taste for abstract 
personages, owing to which so many shadows, men-virtues 
and men*vices, were to tread the boards of the medieval 
stage, and the strange plays called Moralities were to enjoy 
a lasting popularity. The first in date of the numerous 
translations made of Boethius is that of Alfred, 

' To-diy IIcI|>cIbii(I, in [tie noitlicm ixut of Nntway. Allr«d's "Orc&iiu." 
T^iorpe'strandaiioii, ininted uiih the " Life of Alfred the GreU." by Faali, 
In Bohn's Anri<)iMriui Litfriij-, pp- 249 if. ; Anglo-Suion text in Swm. 
'Kinc AiricH't OrcMdu*," 18S3. p. 17. Alired ultU the accoum of yet 
wiDiher jottdiejf. underialteo by Wulfiiui. 


Under his pen, the vague Christianity of Bocthius' becomes 
anarveandsuperabundantfaith; each episode is moralised; 
the afTcctcd elegance of the model disappears, aitd gives 
place to an almost childlike and yet captivating sincerity. 
The storj- of the misfortunes of Orpheus, written by Hoethius 
in a very pretentious style, has in Alfred's translation a 
charm of its own, the charm of the wild flower. 

Among the innumerable versions of this tale, the king's 
is certainly the one in which art has the least share, and 
in which emotion is most communicative: "U happened 
formerly that there was a harper in the country called 
Thrace, which was in Greece. The harper was inconceivably 
good. His name wa«; Orpheus. He had a very excellent 
wife who was called Kurydicc. Then began men lo say 
concerning the harper that he could harp so that the wood 
moved, and the stones :^lirred themselves at the sound, and 
the wild beasts would run thereto, and stand as if they were 
tame; so still that though men or hound-* pursued tlicm, 
they shunned them nut. Then said they thai the harper's 
wife should die, and her soul should be led to hell. Then 
should the harper become so sorrowful that he could not 
remain among other men, but frequented the wood, and sat 
on the mountain both day and night, weeping and harping, 
so that the woods shook, and the rivers stood still, and 
no hart shunned any lion, nor hare any hound ; nor did 
cattle know any hatred, or any fear of others, for the 
pleasure of the sound. Then it seemed to the harper that 
nothing in this worid pleased him. Then thought he that 
he would seek the gods of hell and endeavour to allure them 
with his harp, and pray that they would give him back his 

* TTie reteuchei of Uwner have pla«<l beyond a douhf ihai Boe^ltiiui was a 
Oirisd&n : bul ChiUii.inicy ii tcarcely mibk in ili< " Con«olstio," which It 
cniircl^ "infpu^c tl'Aiulote cl de fUlon." UttKon Pmt, /fttraat lia 
Sawui/i, 1S&4, p. 576. 



He goes down to the nether region ; at the sweetness of 
his hajping, Cerberus "began to wag his tail." Cerberus 
was "the dog of hell ; he should have three heads," " A 
very horrible gatekeeper," Charon by name, " had also three 
heads," according to the calculation of Alfred, whose 
mythology is not very safe. Charon welcomes the harper, 
" because he was desirous of the unaccustomed sound " ; all 
sufferings cease at the melody of the harp ; the wheel of 
Ixion ceases to turn ; the hunger of Tanialus is appeased ; 
the vulture ceases to torment King Tityus ; and the 
prayer of Orpheus is granted. 

" But men can with difficulty, if at all. restrain love I " 
Orpheus retraces his steps, and, contrary to his promise, 
looks behind and stretches his hand towards the beloved 
shadow, and the shadow fades away. Moral — for with 
Alfred everything has a moral — when going to Christ, 
never look behind, for fear of being beguiled by the 
tempter : a practical conclusion not to be found in 

Following the king's example, the bishops and monks 
set to work again. Wcrferth, bishop of Worcester, trans- 
lates the famous dialogues of St. Gregory, filled with miracles 
and marvellous tales.' In the monasteries the old national 
Chronicles, written in the Anglo-Saxon tongue, are copied, 
corrected, and continued. These Chronicles existed before 
Alfred, but they were instilled with a new life owing to his 
influence. Seven of them have come down to us,3 It ts 

' S. Fox. ■' King Airr«J** Bo«bins." 1864, 8vo. dwp. mxv. 

* Thf Anglo'Siuon itaniiUliun made by Wctkith (with ft preface b]r Alfred) 
ii siill unpublithet]. Eailc hon kivcd x dtUuled accoiuat o[ it in hi* " Anglo- 
Saxnn Uleraturc," 1&84, pp. I9jff* 

' ThM« Kven ChionirlM. more or Inscomptctr, arid itifl'irring more or l«u 
from nnennnlhcr, atrjlhcchniniciesofWinchesiet. St. AmtuMineofOinlcrhBry. 
Abirkgdort. Wotcctlcr, l'el«rburough, th« bilingual chionirUorCnnterkqry, and 
ihc Canlcfbuty edition ot llic Winchester chrgnick- Tlicy besiu at variiwi 
dale, the birth of ChirsU the cmiaing of Cicu.t to Qriiain, &c., mrd usuftllf 
come dgwn to the eleventh century. Th« Petetborough tcit alone i^jntinuet 


not yet history ; events are registered in succession, usually 
■without comment ; kings ascend the throne and they are 
killed ; bishops are driven from their scats, a storm destroys 
the crops ; the monk notes all these thing's, and does not 
add a word showing what he thinks of them.' He writes 
as a recorder, chary of words. The reader's feeling* will be 
moved by the deeds registered, not by the words used. Of 
kings the chronicler will often say, "he was killed," without 
any observation: "And king Osric was killed. . . . And 
king Selred was killed. , . ." Why say more? it was an 
everyday occurrence and had nothing curious about it 
But a comet is not seen every day ; a comet is worth 
describing: "678. — In this year, the star [called] comet 
appeared in Augueit, and shone for three months every 
morning like sunbeam. And bishop Wilfrilh was driven 
from his bishopric by king Fxgferlh." We are far 
from the art of Gibbon or CarSyle. Few monuments, 
however, arc more precious than those old annals ; for no 
people in Europe can pride itself on having chronicles so 
ancient written in its national language. 

"Every craft and c%-cr>- power," said Alfred once, 
speaking there his own mind, "soon becomes old and is 
passed over in silence, if it be without wisdom. . . . This is 
now especially to be said, that I wished to live honourably 
whilst 1 lived, and, after my life, to leave to the men who 

«* kic UK the y«u 1154. The Peteittotough and Vi'ictchntcr vrrsinnt an the 
[noi.1 important i Wlb liavf hrtn l)lllIli^^lt"i bj PLuiiuiici ■ml tCaile, "Two of 
the Suoii Clitoniclci," QxhiA. 189a, Svo. The *cvtn lexis h«vc l)ecn printed 
by Thotpe, wiih h trnn^Ution. "The An£lu-Sa\uii Chrunklc." 1861, 3 vol* 
tto (Rollii). The WinchcWer chtoiiicli^ cuiiuiini the p*irmE on the hitllo oJ 
BiunkDbnih (tw/^u. p. 46). ihc «cces.s)on ti EHgiT, &c. ; the MS. ix pre. 
■ecvcJ in the litiiarr of Cuipui Chcitli, Cambridge; the I'ctcr borough MS.'ii 
in ihc Itodkinn I.ihrar7 (Laitd, 636). 

' Except in tame very rare ta»«». Koi cxuiiiplc. y«r 897 : " Thanks be 10 
God. Ibe Army had noi uitniy hfolien up the Angle race." Ommcnii mre 
moTf fnK|iiant in ilic laitrr poriions of the Chronicles, eipecially it the tim« of 
uwl kftcT the Norman iDVuion. 



were after me my memoi'y in good works." ' It happened 
as he had wished. Long after his death, his influence was 
stiU fett ; he was the ideal his successors strove to attain 
to; e\'cn after the Norman Conquest he continued to be: 
"Engiene herde, Englene derling."" 


Alfred disappears ; disturbances begJn again ; then, in 
the course of the tenth century, comes a fresh period of 
comparative calm. Edgar is on the throne, and the arch- 
bishop St. Dunstan rules under his name.-^ 

Helped by Bishop .-Ethclwold, Dunstan resumed the 
never-ending and ever-threatened task of teaching the 
people and clei^y ; he endowed monasteries, and like 
Alfred created new schools and encouraged the translation 
of pious works. Under his influence collections of sermons 
in the vulgar tongue were formed,4 Several of these 
collections have come down to us : one of them, the 
Blickling }Iomilies (from Blickling Hall, Norfolk, where 
the manuscript was found}, was compiled before 9715; 
others are due to the celebrated monk JEMnc, who became 
abbot of Eynsham in 1005, and wrote raost of his works 

■ S. Fox. " King Alfred's Boechiut," London, 1864, 8vo, cfaap. xvii. p. 61, 
This chaptct cotTci|)cinds onlj' 10 Ihc (ml lines of chap. viL book ii. at lh« 
Ofiginal. Vlosl of it i* add-ccl by Alfred, who gtvn in it hit opiniAn of tha 
"craft "of a Vine, and of the "tooU" ni.-ec«s«(y foi ilic Mine. 

* In lilt •■ pRWreib* of .Ufred," an «i)ocryphal compilation made after the 
Kann%n Conquai ; pLibliiJtM by Ketnble with the '* Duloguc of Salomon 
and SaiuTTtun,^ i^^i 8v<^ 

* Kiii^ffum 959 lu 975: Sl Dviunan. archUiiihop of Caotcrbuty, died in 
9S& Sw Stubbi^. -' Memoiialfi of S(. Duniun " (Rnlls Snics). 

* The snonymou* tramlaLJon of ibe GoiiptU oompilrd in ihc time of Alfred 
vat copied and vutgamed in ihii period ; v6. Sleeat, " The Go*pel« m Angla- 
S«xun." Cambiidg*, tS7l-S7. 4 vnls 4I0. 

9 See Sermon XL ; "The Blickling Homilies," ed. R. Monii, 1S74 fL 
E.E.T.5.. Hvo. 


about this time * ; another collection includes the sermons 
of Wulfstan, bishop of York from I002 to 102}." 

Thcst* sermons, most of vvhich arc translated from the 
I^Atin, "sometimes word for word and ttometimes sense for 
sense," according to the example set by Alfred, were 
destined for "the edification of the ignorant, who knew no 
language" except the national one,3 

The congregation being made up mostly of rude, 
uneducated people, must be interested in order that it may 
listen to the sermons ; the homilies are therefore 61Ied with 
legendary information concerning the Holy Land, with 
minute pictures of the devil and apostles, with edifying 
tales full of miracles. In the homilies of Blickling, the 
church of the Holy Sepulchre is described in detail, with 
its sculptured portals, its stained-glass and its lamps, that 
threefold holy temple, existing far away at the other ex- 
tremity of the world, in the distant £2i5t.4 This church 

' "TlicSpniion«C«tholid. ot Honiiliw oi >Hlfric."etI. Thorpe. IjonAtm, 
XUAe Soctriy. 1S44-& a vok Svo ; " .-Eirric'i Uvm of Soinis. htltig ■ Ml 
of Sennoin," Jtc, e<J. W. W. Skeat, K.E.T.S., 1881 ff. .«lfnc Iranikted 
ful ot ihc BiUc: " llcpiueuchui, Ubcr Job,"&c, c<l. ThwjiiM, Oxford, 
1698. fivu. He wiou alwi impun&nt wnika on asiiannmy and pommu, ■ 
** Colloquium " IB Lalin uid Anglo-SaxoD : " ^tfrlc'i Gnunmatik und 
CleaMf," td. J. T.apiUiL, iXSo, 8vi>, Htc- 

' The homilici of WaUxtan '/'tie published by Arihui Napief : " Wul(«taa, 
Sunntnag da ihro lucnchricbenen Huniilicn iicbsC L'lilersuchnnEcn ilber 
ibrc Echlbcil," Berlin, 1SS3, 8^-0 (uxiy-iwo pieces, tome of which ue very 
■hart I. 

I ■• Trammlimua hunc codlcem ei llbrU laiinutuin . . . ob ordifienttimnB 
Mmpliciom , . . idei>c)ve nee nbKuraptMuiniui vnba, >cd timplicnn Anslkom, 
(iu« hctliu» powil ad c«t permiire legentium vcl tudientiuni, ad uiiliuicm 
anoiurxim nurarti quia alia lin^o cietdiini Rudlri ciium in i|Uii n«u »uni. 
Ncc uUquc iraiutuliinus vcilnini ci icrbo, !cd icnium ex Knlu. . . . Ha« 
tumquc aunnrr^ in hko nplannllunc siimiii uvjuuli, vJdelicH AiiJ^ttinum 
HippoReuen, llittonimutn, Bedam, Gregotium, Smang^dum et aliquandu 
Haymonnn." .F.Hric'i p»cfi>M fat hi» "S<riiKn>c»Calholi(a." In the preface 
of hb wnaon^ on ihc Vivn of Sflino, jElfiric nam thai he intend* not to 
tnnilate any tnare, "nc fune clcigxctui habcantur nurgoriic Chmii." 

• "The Blkklitig Horrilict," Scnnon XI. 



has no roof, so that the sky into which Christ's body 
ascended can be always seen : but, by God's grace, rain 
water never falls there. The preacher is positive about 
his facts; he has them from travellers who have seen 
with their own eyes this cathedral of Christendom. 

/Elfric also keeps alive the interest of the listeners by 
propounding difficult questions to them which he answers 
himself at once. "Now many a man will think and 
inquire whence the devil came ? . . . Now some man will 
inquire whence came his \avm\ soul, whether from the father 
or the mother? We say from neither of them ; but the 
same God who created Adam with his hands . . . that 
same givcth a soul and liCe to children." > Why are there 
no more miracles? "These wonders were needful at the 
beginning of Christianity, for by these signs was the 
heathen folk inclined to faith. The man who plants trees 
or herbs waters them so long until they have taken root ; 
when they art' growing he ceases from watering. Also, 
the Almighty God so long showed his miracles to the 
heathen folk until they were believing : when faith had 
sprung up over all the world, then miracles cea.'sed."' 

The lives of the saints told by jElfric recall at times 
tales in the Arabian Nights. There are transformations, 
disparitions, enchantments, emperors who become her- 
mits, statues that burst, and out of which comes the 
devil. "Go," cries the apostle to the fiend, "go to the 
waste where no bird flies, nor husbandman ploughs, nor 
^•oice of man sounds." The "' accursed spirit " obej'S, and 
he appears all black, " with sharp vit^igc and ample beard. 
His locks hung to his ankles, his eyes were scattering fiery 
sparks, sulphureous flame stood in his mouth, he was fright* 

' " Strmonct CathoUci,'* pp. U-13. 

* Ibi4. pp. 304-5. Sec nUo, in the •ennon on 5l. John tbc BifMitt. a 
cnrioiHi uiice on wicked islhalive wumeD, (pp. 476-7. 


fully feather-clad."' This is already the devil of the 
Mysteries, the one described by Rabelais, almost in the 
same wards. We can imagine the eflTect of so miniite a 
picture on the Saxon herdsmen a-<>scmbled on Sunday in 
their tittle mysterious churches, almost windowlcss. like 
that of Bradford-on-Avon. 

One peculiarity makes these sermons remarkable ; in 
them can be discenicd a certain effort to attain to literary 
dignity. The preacher tries his best to speak well. He 
takes all the more pain.<) because he is slightly ashamed, 
being himself teamed, to write in view of such an illiterate 
public He does not know any longer Alfred's doubts, 
who, being uncertain as to which words t)cst express the 
meaning of his model, puts down all those his memory or 
glossar>' supply : the reader can choose. The authors of 
these homilies purposely write prose which comes near 
the tone and forms ol poetry. Such are almost always 
the beginnings of literary prose. They go as far as to 
introduce a rude cadence in their writings, and adapt 
thereto the special ornament of Germanic verse, allitera- 
tion. Wutfstan and /Elfric frequently afford tbeir audience 
the pleasure of those repeated sonorities, so much so that 
it has been possible to publish a whole collection of 
sermons by the latter in the form of poems.* Moreover, 
the subject itself is often poetic, and the priest adorns his 
discourse with images and metaphors. Many passages of 
the " Blickling Homilies," read in a translation, might easily 
be taken for poetical extracts. Such are the descriptions 
of contemporaneous evils, and of the signs that will herald 
the end of the world, that world that " fleeth from us 

' Sernon iat the JSth of .Vuguai, on the martyrdom of St Buthoplomew, 
pp. 4S4 fl. Ttw portrait of the aattil b u miauKl)' ilnwn : " he has fail and 
cnilinK lodu, is white o. body, and ha* dccfi cyet and nioderaie nose," &c. 

• SkvU, '■ *l(rlc'» av» ol Stinu," l88l. 



with great bitterness, and we follow it as it flies from us, 
and love it although it Is passing away."' 

Such arc also the descriptions of landscapes, where even 
now, in this final period of the Anglo-Saxon epoch, 
northern nature, snow and ice are visibly described, as in 
"Beowulf," with delight, by connoisseurs: "As St. Paul 
was looking towards the northern region of the earth, 
from whence all waters pass down, he saw above the water 
a hoary stone, and north of the stone had ^rou'n woods, 
very rimy. And there were dark mists ; and under the 
stone -was the dwelling-place of tnonaters aiid execrable 
creatures," » 

Thus Anglo-Saxon literature, in spite of the efforts of 
Cyncwulf, Alfred, Dunstan, and vElfric goes on repealing 
itself. Poems, histories, and sermons are conspicuous, 
now for their grandeur, now for the emotion that is in 
them ; but their main qualities and main defects arc very 
much alike ; they give an impression of monotony. The 
same notes, not very numerous, are incessantly repeated. 
The Angles, Saxons, and other conquerors who came 
from Germany have remained, from a literary point of 
view, nearly intact in the midst of the subjugated race. 
Their literature is almost stationary ; it does not percep- 
tibly move and develop. A graft is wanted ; Rome tried 
to insert one, but a few branches only were vivified, not 
the whole tree ; and the fruit is the same each year, wild 
and so[netime» poor. 

The political state of the country leaves on the mind a 
similar impression. The men of Germanic blood estab- 
lished in England remain, or nearly so, grouped together 
in tribes ; their hamlet is the mother country for them. 
They are unable to unite againj»t the foreign foe. Their 

> «■ The Bllrttltng Hontili«s," S«nnoM X. and XI. 


subdivisions undei^o constant change, much as they did, 
centuries before, on the Continent. A swarm of petty 
kings, ignored by history, are known to have lived and 
reigned, owing to their name having been found appended 
to charters ; there were kings of the Angles of the South, 
kings of half Kent, kings with fewer people to rule than 
a village mayor of to-day. They are killed, and, as we 
have seen, the thing is of no importance. 

The Danes come again ; at one time they own the 
whole of England, which Is thus subject to the same 
king as Scandinavia. Periods of unification are merely 
temporary, and due to the power or the genius of a prince : 
Alfred, ^tthelstan, Cnut the Dane ; but the people of 
Great Britain keep their tendency to break up into small 
kingdoms, into earldoms, as they were called in the 
eleventh century, about the end of the period ; into tribes, 
in reality, as when they inhabited the Germanic land. 
Out of this chaos how can a nation arise ? a nation that 
may give birth to Shakespeare, crush the Armada, people 
the American continent? No less than a miracle is 
needed. The miracle took place : it was the battle of 




Germanic England gave itself a king for the last time 
at the death of Edward the Confessor. Harold, son of 
Godwin, was elected to succeed him. A momentous crisis, 
the greatest in English history, was drawing near. \z,c. 

An awful problem had to be solved. Divided, helpless, 
uncertain, England could no longer remain what she had 
been for six hundred years. She stood vacillating, drawn 
by contrary attractions to opposite centres, half-way be- 
tween the North, that had last populated the land, and the 
South, that had taught and christianised the nation. "On 
both sides fresh invaders threaten her ; which will be the 
winner? Should the North triumph, England will be 
bound for centuries to the Germanic nations, whose growth 
will be tardy, and whose literary development will be 
slow, so slow indeed that men still alive to-day may have 
seen with their own eyes the great poet of the race, 
Goethe, who died in 1832. Should the South carry the 
day, the growth will be speedy and the preparation rapid. 
Like France, Italy, and Spain, England will have at the 
Renaissance a complete literature of her own, and be able 
to produce a Shakespeare, as Italy produced an Ariosto, 
Spain a Cervantes, and France a Montaigne, a Ronsard 
and a Rabelais, 

8 97 



The problem was solved in the autumn of 1066. On 
the morrow of HaroIiJ's election, the armies of the North 
and South assembled, and the last of tlie invasions began. 

The Scandinavians took the sea again. They were led 
by Harold Hardrada, son of Sigurd, a true romance 
hero, who had fought in many wars, and once defended 
by his 5word the throne of the eastern emperors." 
To the South another fleet collected, commanded by 
William of Normandy ; he, too, an extraordinary man, 
bastard of that Robert, known in legend as Robert the 
Devil who had long since started on a pilgrimage to 
Jerusalem from which he never returned. The Normans 
of Scandinavia and the Normans of France were about 
to play a match of which England was the stake. 

The Scandinavians were the first to land. Hardrada 
entered York, and for a moment it seemed as if victory 
would belong To the people of the North. But Harold 
of Kngland rushed to meet them, and crushed them at 
Stamford -bridge ; his brother, the rebel Toati, fell on the 
field of battle, and Hardrada died of an arrow-wound in 
the throat. AU was over with Scandinavia ; there re- 
mained the Normans of France. 

Who were the:iC Normans? Very different from those 
of the other army, they no longer had anything Scan- 
dinavian or Germanic about them ; and thus they stood 
a chance of furnishing the Anglo-Saxons with the graft 
they needed. Had it not been for this, their invasion 
would have carried no more important result than that of 
the Danes in the ninth century ; but the consequences were 

' The rotiuniic evcnU in tlic life of Harold Iludrada SigurdKm are (he 
siih)ccc of on IceUndic %nga in {itckc, b}' Snone SturlaMiri [horn M Hvam in 
IccUnd, 1178) : " Th< Heimsktingls Sagi, or the SngA* of the Norte Idogt, 
from ihc Ic«lnii<lic cf Snorie Siiiilii»un," eJ. Lkinjf aoc] R. B, Andcn^n, 
LoniluD, 1SS9. 4 vols. £vo, vols. iii. buJ iv. A deiailciJ kccounc of ibe 
Inillc nt "Sinnfordii-Brjrgeiur " {Stamrnd-briiiic), will he fiiuriil in chapt. 
lipff. ; the tNiUle ol " Hebliigjft port" [Huiin^J. ii told in chaji. 100. 



to be very different The fusion betv*-cen Rollo's pirates, and 
the already dense population of the rich province called after 
them Normandy, had been long accomplished. It was less a 
fusion than an absorption, for the natives were much more 
numerous than the settlers. From the time of the second 
duke, French had .-ig»in become the language of the 
mass of the inhabitants. They are Chrisiiaiu ; they have 
French manners, chivalrous tastes, castles, convents, and 
schools : and the blood that flows in their veins is mostly 
French. Thus it is that they can set forth in the eleventh 
century for the conquest of England as representatives of 
the South, of Latin civilisation, of Romance letters, and 
of the religion of Rome. William comes blessed by the 
Pope, with a banner borne before him, the gift ol Alex* 
andcr tl., wearing a hair of St. Peter's in a ring, having 
secured by a vow the favour of one of France's patrons, 
that same St. Martin of Tours, whose church Clovis had 
enriched, and whose cape Hugues C;ii>et had worn: whence 
bis surname. 

No Beowulf, no northern hero is sung of in William's 
army ; but there resound the verses of the most ancient 
masterpiece of French literature, at that time the most 
recent. According to the poet Wace, well informed, since 
his father took part in the expedition, the minstrel TatUefcr 
rode before the soldiers, singing ''of Charlcrmagne, and 
of Roland, and Oliver, and the vassals who fell at Ronce- 
vaux." ' 

* Taitkrcr bi mult luan chajiiont, 
Soi II n chevtd Vi lost aloui 
DrranI Ir due alout chiinlant 
Dc KnckDiaignccl Je Kolnnt 
E d'Olivec ct tlci vavolK 
Qui noiuKat en Kencevals. 

•' Matttr« Wam'i Rnman dc Ron." ed- Andrcitcn. H«ilbronn, 1K77. i val«. 
Svu, )>. J49, a itftlcmcot reproduced or cortoboialed liy Mwral cKioniclcnt f 



Th« army, moreover, was not exclusively composed of 
men from Normandy.' It was divided into three parts ; 
to the left the Bretons and PoictevJns ; the Normans in the 
centre ; and to the right the French, properly so called. 
No doubt vnAA possible ; William's army was a French 
army : all contemporarj' writers describe it as such, and 
both parties give it that name. In the " Domesday Book," 
written by order of William, his people are termed 
"Franc!"; on the Baycux taiKstry, embroidered soon after 
the Conquest, at the place where the battle is represented, 
the inscription runs; "Hie Franci pugnatit " (Here fight 
the French). CrowneH king of England. William continue* 
to call his followers "Frenchmen."* The Anglo-Saxon 
Chronicltts. on the other side, describe the invaders sometimes 
as Normans, and sometimes as Frenchmen, " Frcncijcan,'' 
■' And the French had possession of the place of carnagg," 
says the Worcester annalist, after g'^'^ff ^" account of 
the battle of Hastings ; and he bestows the appellation of 
Normans upon the men of Harold Hardrada. A simiUr 
view is taken farther north. Formerly, we re«d in a saga» 
the same tongue was spoken in England and Norway, but 

" Tunc canuknn RotlnmJi inochnUu . . ." Williani «f Ma)tii«sbury, " Qt%\M. 
Vk&vh An^loium." ed. Ilotdy, I^andon, 1840, Engliab HbtoricaJ Socieiy» 
hook iii., p. 41;. 

' Williani ftf Poiclin*, a Nnnnnn by birth (h« derived hi« fiwn« tiom having 
(Iucti«il al PniclMn) and » diaplain of Uie Conqueror, Mys ihai hit uin; con- 
lifted of "Mnnccls, French. Grctuns, Aquitaini, and Normant"; hU ttatrment 
in reproduc«l byOtdnic Viial : '■ In^icruni tiiCeinjiiian(iii:i, Kraiici. BciUnni. 
Aquluni ct miMtabiliui |i«rcun[r( radchani Angli.'' " HiMoria EccleuastJcft,'* 
ia Migne, vol. clxxiviit. col. 39S. Vital wak biun nine years only aDct 
ihc Coiu^uctt, and he spent fuast: of bit lif« among Nonnuu Jo the moDa»I«y 
of Sl Evfuuh. 

■ Chorici of William to the cily of l/jndon : " WiU'tti kyng gtel . . - olle 
iha liurhwHiu hinnnn Lonrlpnc. FtciicJhc nnil KnylUcf. frcondlicc " (gravis all 
Uu burghtis uilhin London, tierch and Engliih), At a later dale, again, 
Kichafd Oxut-de-Liucii In a chiuict fur Linwln, senda bis Kre«tiiii;it iv hia 
aubjecti "lam Fiancia quani Anglia," a.I>. 1194. Stabbs, " Select Chanert,'* 
Oxfbfd, 1876, yp. 81 and 3^ 




not after the coming of William of Normandy, " because 
he vi'as French." • 

As to Duke William, he led his anny of Frenchmen in 
French fashion, that is to say gaily. His state of mind 
is characterised not by any overflow of warlike joy or furj-, 
but bj'good humour. Like the heroes of the Celtic poems, 
like the inhabilanty of Gaul in all ages, he is prompt at 
repartee {argitU hqui). He stumbles in stepping off the 
ship, which t» considered by all as a bad omen : " It is 
a most fatal omen," we read in an ancient Scandi- 
navian poem/'if rhou stumble on thy feet when march- 
ing to battle, for evil fairies stand on either side of thee, 
wishing to see tliec wounded."" It means nothing, »aid 
the duke to his followers, save that 1 take possession of 
the land. At the momcni of battle he puts his hauberk 
on the wrong way : another bad omen. Not at all, he 
declares, it is a sign 1 shall turn out different \ " King 
I shall be, who duke was": 

Le ooni qui en At duchfe 
V«rr«>f. dr due en rci itatk ) 
R«u ttrai qui du« ci ett^> 

He challenges Harold to single combat, as the Gauts 
did their advcr^Hirics, according to Diodoni.s Sicutus ; and 
as Francis I. will do later when at feud with Charles V. He 
was to die in an expedition undertaken out of revenge 
for an epigram of the king of France, and to make good 
his retort. 

• "GvtifllangB Sag*," in " Three nottliern Love Stories and oiher Tales," 
edited hy Riik> Magnuuun, *iid VV'illiuii Monih. Ij>nil(>n, 1873, llmg. 

* "The »lil |>l«y of Ihc WoUiing:*." in " Corpiu Poeticum BoreUe," i. 
p. 34- 

3 " Maiftie Wace's Romnn de Kou." ed. Andrcsen, line 7749. Tbe same 
Koiy b leproduetd by Willinm of Mnlmcshiity (twelfth rctiiury] : "Anna 
popOKitt moxquc miniil loium lumultu loiiom invenam induiM. caMim riw 
conoul, >'crl(tui. icniuictis, foiiiluJu cumiutuB met in rccnum.'' " Gctta 
Kcgiuu An({l«fuiD," 1840, Eri)jli&1i Historical Society, luuk iii. |i. 4l5> 



The evening of the 14th of October, 1066, saw the fate 
of England decided. The issue of the b&ttle was doubtful. 
William, by a scries of ingenious ideas, secured the victory. 
Hia foes were the victims of his cleverness ; they were 
"ingcnio circumvcnti, ingcnio victi."* He ordered his 
soldiers to simulate a flight ; he made his archers shoot 
upwards, so that the arrows falling down among the 
Saxons wrought great havoc. One of ihcm put out 
Harold's eye; the English chief fell by his standard, and 
soon after the battle was over, the mosl memorable ever 
won by an army of Frenchmen. 

The duke had vowed to erect on the field of the fight 
an abbey to St. Martin of Tours. He kept his word, but 
the building never bore among men the name of the saint ; 
it received and has retained to this day the appellation of 
" Battle." ^ Its ruins, preserved with pious care, overlook 

-'the dates where the host of the Conqueror gathered for 
the attack. Far off through the hills, then covered by 
the yclhjwing leaves of the forest of Anderida, glistens, 
between earth and sky. the grey sea that brought over 
the Norman fleet ejghtf en centuries ago. Heaps of stones, 

1 overgrown with ivy, mark the place where Harold fell, 
the last king of English blood who ever sat upon the 
throne of Great Britain. It is a secluded spot; large 
cedars, alders, and a tree with white foliage form a curtain, 
and shut off from the outer world the scene of the terrible 
tragedy. A solemn silence reigns ; nothing is visible 
through the branches, save the square tower of the church 
of Battle, and the only sound that floats upwards is that 
of the old clock striking the hours. Ivy and climbing 
roses cling to the grey stones and fall in light clusters 

\ along the low walls of the crypt; the roses shed their 
\leaves, and the soft autumn breeze scatters the white 

' WilliaiDi oT Malmcibuiy, Am- 




petals on the grass, amidst fragments to which is attached 
of the greatest mcmnrics in the history of humanity, y 

The consequences of " the Battle " were indeed immense, 
far more important than those of Agincourt or Austerlitz: 
a whole nation was transformed and became a new one. 
The \*anquishcd Anglo-Saxons no more knew how to 
defend themselves and unite against the French than 
they had formerly known how to unite against the Dane& 
To the momentary enthuftiasm that had gathered around 
Harold many energetie supporters succeeded a gloomy 
dejeciion. Real life exhibited the same contrasts as 
literature. Stirred by sudden impulses, the natives ^-ainly 
Struggled to free themselves, incapable even in this press- 
ing danger of combined and vigorous action ; then they 
mournfully submitted to fate. The only contemporar>' 
interpreter of their feelings known to us. the Anglo-Saxon 
chronicler, bewails the Conquest, but is more struck by 
the ravages it occasions than by the change of domina- 
tion it brings about. "And Bishop Odo and Earl William 
[Fitz-Osbem]," he says, " remained here and wrought 
castles widely throughout the nation, and oppressed the 
poor people, and ever after that it greatly grew in evil. May 
the end be good when God will." So much for the 
material disaster, now for the coming of the foreigner : 
"And then came to meet him Archbi-shnp K.ildrcd [of 
York], and Eadgar child and Earl Eadwine. and Ear) 
Morkere, and all the be« men of London, and then, from 
ncccssit}', submitted when the greatest harm had been 
done, and it was very imprudent that it was not done 
earlier, as God would not Ijelter it for our sins." ' 

People with a mind so full of elegiac sentiments fall an 

■Aoglo-liaiion Clitonick"(KolU). year 1066. WorecMet WW (Tib, B. IV.). 
SuD* ttatcmeni in William of Miliimhitry. who tnyt of his compnltiots ihat 
" nno prxlin et ipiaptrlodli t« patiiimque pcMondederint." "Getia Rrgum 
An^loruiD,'' £n£lu)i Historical S<>ciety, ^ 41 S- 



easy prey to men who know how to wUt. Before dying 
William had taken everything, even a part of Wales ; he 
was king of England, and had so completely changed the 
fortunes of his new country that its inhabitants, so used to 
invasions, were never again to see rise, from that &\y to 
this, the smoke of an enemy's camp. 


From the outset William seems to have desired ani 
foreseen it Practical, clear-minded, of firm will, imbued 
with the notion of State, he possessed in the highest degree 
the qualities his new subjects most lacked. He knew 
neither doubts nor vain hesitations ; he was an optimist, 
always sure of success : not with the certitude of the 
blind who walk confidently to the river, but with the 
assurance of clear-sighted people, who leave the goddess 
Fortune so little to do, it were a miracle if she did less 
for them. His lucid and pcrsiKtent will is never at fault. 
In the most critical moment of the battle a fatal report 
is circulated that the duke has been killed; he instantly 
tears off his helmet and shows himself with uncovered 
face, crying: " I am alive! here I stand, and by God I 
shaU conquer !" ' 

^^.AII his life, he conforms his actions to his theories ; 
having come as the heir of the Anglo-Saxon princes, he 
behaves as such. He visits his estate, rectifies its boun> 
darics. protects its approaches, and, in spite of the 
immensity of the work, takes a minute inventory of it.' 

' So HT» Witliam nf Poiciiers, anil Ordcric Viial after him : " . . . Nudalo 
iniupcr capite, deliaciuquc ^-.ilca cxciainnni : me in(|tiit coMpJcirc ; vivo ct 
Ttncatn, epiiulnntc De>>." " Ordcrld Vlinlit Anglig^na- . . . Hisiorue 
E«cl'C«ij»>Iicie, Libri Xltl.," in Migne'n " Piltologi*," vol. clixsviii. col. 157. 

* The inventory b ca-rricd down lo dciaiU; uitwciii sic requlied to a 
numbrr nf ijnvnlionn: "... Dnndc quotnoiln vocniitr tnaruio, quis ictigii 
eam lempoie Rrgii Enclwardi ; qiiis iiiodo tenet ; quoi hid« ; quai mrruine in 
itooninii : quoc hominum : ijunt viHani : t^uot courii ; ^u-ot &ervi ; quoi liben 



This inventory is the Domesday, a unique monument, 
such that no nation in Europe [Xissesses the like. On the 
coins, he so exactly imitates the type adopted by his 
predecessors that it is hard to distinguish the pennies of 
William from those of Edward Before the end of his 
reign, he was the master or conqueror of all. and had made 
his authority felt and accepted by all. even by his brother 
Bishop Odo, whom he arrested with his own hands, and 
caused to be imprisoned " as Earl of Kent," he said, with 
his usual readiness of word, to avoid a quarrel with the 

And so it was that, in spite of their terrible sufferings, 
the vanquished were unable to repress a certain sentiment 
which predisposed them to a fusion with the victor, namely 
admiration. Never had they seen energy, power, or 
knowledge tike unto lliat. The judgment of the Anglo- 
Saxon chronicler on William may he considered as being 
the judgment of the nation itself concerning its new 
masters: "That King William about wham wc speak was 
a very wise man, and very powerful, more dignified and 
strong than any of his predecessors were. He was mild 
to the good men who loved God, and over all measure 
severe to the men who gainsaycd his will. ... So also 
was he a very rigid and cruel man, so that no one durst 
do anything against his will. ... He spared not his own 
brother named Odo, . . . Among other things is not to 
be forgotten the good peace that he made in this land, 
so that a man who had any confidence in himself might 
go over his realm with his bosom full of gold unhurt" 
The land of the Britons, " Brytland" or Wales, was in his 

iMBiincs; qual ■oeheiiMni ; quantum lilvte ; (quantum ptati; qaot ptucuoruni ; 
quot lUDlcDdiiia j quot piicuiJE," &e., &c. " Dotnctdny far Ely"i Stubb», 
"Select Ourtcra," Onfoid, i8?6, p. 86. The Donicsdoy lioj been published 
In bcBimik by the Keconj Coimni^ioT) 1 " Domnday Book, or the great 
mrrvy of RngUod, of William Ihc Cuni|ueior, 10S6," eiliied ItySir Henry 
)amu, Loikdou and Soul bain plon, 1861-3, ' ''^'*- 4'^- 



power, Scotland likewise ; he would have had Ireland 
besides had he reigned two years longer. It is true he 
greatly oppressed the people, built canities, and made 
terrible game-laws : " As greatly did he love the tall 
deer as if he were their father. He also ordained con- 
cerning the hares that they should go free."' Even in 
the manner of presenting grievances we detect that 
special kind of popularity which attaches itself to the 
tyranny of great men. The England of the Anglo- 
Saxons had been defeated, but brilliant destinies were 
in store for the country ; the master was haled but 
not despised. 

These great destinies were realised. The qualities of 
which William gave the example were rare in England, 
but common in France ; they were those of his race and 
countr>', those of his lieutenants ; they naturally reappear 
in many of his successors^ These are, as a rule, energetic 
and headstrong men, who never hesitate, who believe in 
themselves, arc alw.iys ready to run all hazards, and to 
attempt the impossible, with the firm conviction that they 
will succeed ; they arc never weary of fighting and taking; 
the moment never comes when they can enjoy their con- 
quests in peace ; in good as in evil ihcy never stop hall- 
way ; those who incline to tyranny become, like Stephen, 
the most atrocious tyrants"; those who incline to the 
manners and customs of chivalry carry them, like Richard 
Cocur de Lion, as far as possible, and forget that they 
have a kingdom to rule. The most intelhgcnt become, 
like Henry 11., incomparable statesmen; those who have 
a taste for art give themselves up to it with such passion 

■ FctctlmrmiEh \k*X ef ihe " Anclo-Suon Chrnnicle," ycni loSfi. 

* To the extent thai Enijtund rr^cmbled then |rruwlen) bc«icg«d by Ttius i 
•■Quid mulia? In diebui «» miiliipUoaia mm mala in (eita, ut b qui* m 
ninnnslini TCcerurnl, bUlnruun JoHc^ihi {lOisint G«cedi;re." John of S>li»l>ur\, 
"Policrnticua," bouk vi. clutp. xviii. 



that they jeopardise. Hkc Henry III., even their crown, 
and care for nothing but their masons and painters. They 
are equally ready for sword and word fights, and they ofier 
both to ait comers. Thej' constantly risk their lives ; out 
of twelve Norman or Angevin princes six die a violent 

All ihcir enterprises are conceived on a gigantic 
scale. They carry war into Scotland, into Ireland, 
into Wales, into France, inlo Gascony, later on into the 
Holy Land and inlo Spain, The Conqueror was on 
his way to Paris when he received, by accident, being at 
Mantc*i, fifteen leagues from the capital, a wound of 
which he died. These qualities are in the blood. A 
Frenchman, Henry of Burgundy, seizes on the county of 
"Porto" in 1095, out of which his successors make the 
kingdom of " Portugal " ; a Norman, Robert Guiscard, 
conquers Sicily, takes Naples, forces his alliance upon the 
Pope, overawes Venice, and the same year beats the two 
emperors ; his son Bohcmnnd cstabli.shes himself as reign- 
ing prince in Antioch in 1099, and fighting with great 
composure and equanimity against Turk and Christian, 
csiabiishes out ol hand n little kmgdnm which lasted two 
centuries. They find in Kngland miserable churches ; they 
erect new ones, "of a style unknown till then," writes 
William of M-ilmeiibury,' which count among the griindest 
ever built. The splendid naves of St. Albans, Westminster, 
Canterbury. Winchester, York. Salisbury, rise heaven- 
wards ; the towers of Ely reach to the skies ; the west 
front of Lincoln, adorned with marvellous carvings, rears 
itself on the htll above the town ; Peterborough opens its 

' "Videas ubiqur in villis occtniu, Ui vicit tt ufhtbut maniuiFria. novo 
■dtlieancli gcncrc cnnmrgere.*' TheliuiMitigGuf Ihr Angln-lM]u>iu,aci;an)ing 
ta ihe lutimony of the Mine, who may have teen many u he lived in the 
twcUth century, n-nc vciy pooi ; ihcy were picucd *it!i " piaTis et abjecdn 
domibut." "Gc*U Rcgum Anglorum." cd. Ilanly. 1840, booV ili. p. 4(8. 



wide bays, deep as the i>ortaU of French churches ; 
Durham, a heavy and massive pile built bj- knight-bishops, 
overlooks the valley of the Wear, and seems a divine 
fortress, a castle erected for God. The donjons of the 
conquerors, Rochester, London, Norwich, Lincoln, are 
enormous, square and thick, so high and so solid that the 
idea of taking these giant structures could never occur to 
the native dreamers, who wait " till the end shall be good 
when God pleases " ! 

The masters of the land are ever ready for everything, 
and lind lime for everything: if their religious edifices are 
considered, it seems as though they had cared for nothing 
else ; if we read the accounts of their wars, it appears as if 
they were ever on their way to military expeditions, and 
never left tlie field of battle. Open the innumerable manu- 
scripts which contain the monuments of their literature : 
these works can be meant, it seems, but for men of leisure, 
who have interminable days to spend in lengthy pastimes ; 
they make their Beiioits de Sainte-Morc give them an 
account of their origins in chronicles of 43,000 lines. This 
literature is ample, superabundant, with numberlew 
branches and endless ramifications ; they have not even 
one literature only ; ihey have three : a French, a Latin, 
and later an English one. 

Their matchless strength and ihcir indomitable will 
further one particular cause : the infusion of French and 
Latin ideas in the Anglo-Saxon people, and the connection 
of England with the civilisations of the South. The task 
was arduous : Augustine. Alfred. Dunstan, kings and saints, 
had attempted it and failed ; the Normans tried and 
succeeded. They were ever successful. 

Powerful means were at their disposal, and they knew 
how to make the best of them. Firstly, the chiefs of the 
nation arc French ; their wives arc mostly French too: 
Stephen, Henr>' II., John, Henry III., Edward 1., Edward 



H,, Richard II., all marry Frenchwomen. The Bohuns 
(from whom came the Herefords. Essexcs, Northampton »), 
the Bcauchamps (Warwick), the Mowbrays (Nottingham 
Norfolk), the Bigods (Norfolk), the Nevilles {Wcstmorc- 
lantl, Warwick), the Montgomerys (Shrewsbury. Pembroke, 
Arundel), the Beaumonts and the Montforts (i.ciccstcr), 
arc Frenchmen. People of less importance married to 
Etiglish women — " matrimonia quoque cuni subditis 
jungunt"' — rear families which for many years remain 

During a long period, the centre of the thoughts and 
interests of the kinys of England, French by origin, educa- 
tion, manners, and l.ingu.ige, isin France. William the Con- 
queror bequeaths Nonnandy to his eldest son, and F.ngland 
to his younger. Not one of them is buried at West- 
minster before 1 272 ; they sleep their last sleep most of them 
at Caen or Fontevrault » ; out of the thirty-five years of his 
reign. Henry [I. spends more than twenty-one in France, 
and less than fourteen In £ngland.3 Before his accession 
Richard Coeur-dc-Lion only came to England twice in 
twenty years. They auccessively make war on France, not 
from hatred or scorn, not because they wish to destroy licr, 
but because they wish to be kings of France themselves. 
They admire and wish to possess her ; their ideal, whether 
moral, literar)-, administrative, or religious, is above all a 
French ideal. They are knights, and introduce into Eng- 
land the fashion of tournaments, " conHictus gallici," says 
Matthew Paris. They wish to have a University, and they 

' William of Malmctbtir)-, utsupra, p. \sa. 

' TTie Cciiiquaor was bunted ai Caen : Hciit II. anil Kichaid Ctcui-de-Lion 
Bt Fonlcvnutt in Anjou. Henry I [I. was hucicd tx XVeeiniinsi«T, but hii heart 
Wat wnl to Fontcvtnutl. and the chapter ol Wat mi ntlcr still patsesM« |)iciI>mi] 
drawn ai the moment when it wu placed in the haniU »t tlie Aofevin nbbcaa, 
30 Iul> 1. (exhihiied in the chapter house). 

5 ••Henry II.." b> Mi*. J. R. titeen, 1888, p. 32 ("Twelve Engli*h 
StaiFtmtn "). 



copy for Oxford the regulations of Pans. Henry IIL 

quarrels with his barons, and whom does he select for an 
arbiter but his former enemy, Louis IX., king of France, 
the victor of Taillcbourg? They organise in England a 
religious hierarchy, so similar to that of France that the 
prelates of one country receive constantly and without 
difficulty promotion in the other. John of Poictiers, bom 
in Kent, treasurer of York, becomes bishop of Foictiers 
and archbishop of Lyons, while still retaining the living 
of Eynesford in Kent ; John of Salisbury, sccrclaiy of the 
arcauishop of Canterbury, becomes bishop of Chartres ; 
Ralph dc Sarr, bnrn in Thanct, becomes dean of Reims* ; 
others are appointed bishops of Palermo, Messina, and 

Impetuous as arc these princes, ready at every instant 
to run all risks and play fast and loose, even when, like 
William I., old and ill, one precious quality of their temper 
diminishes the danger of their rashness. They undertake. 
as though for a wager, superhuman tasks, but once under- 
taken thfjy proceed to the fulfilling of them with a lucid 
and practical mind. It is this practical bent of their mind, 
combined with their venturesome disposition, that has 
made of them so remarkable a race, and enabled them to 
transform the one over which they had now extended 
their rule. 

Be the question a question of ideas or a question of facts, 
they behave in the same manner. They perceive the 
importance both of ideas and of those who wield them, and 
act accordingly ; they negotiate with the Pope, with St. 
Martin of Tours, even with God ; they pmmisc nothing for 
nothing ; however exalted the power nitli which they 
treat, what they agree to must be bargains, Norman 

The buil " Laudabilitcr." by which the English Pope 

' Slubba, "Sevcnlecti L.ecluii;«," iS86, [>. \%\. 



Nicholas Breakspeare (Adrian IV.) gives Ireland to Henry 
IL, is a formal bai^aJn ; the king buys, the Pope sells ; tbe 
price is minutely discussed beforehand, and set down in 
the agreement' But the most remarkable view suggested 
to them by this practical turn of their mind consisted in 
the value they chose to set, even at that distant time, on 
■' public opinion," if we may use the expression, and on 
literature as a means of actioiL 

This was a stroke of genius ; William endeavoured, and 
his successors imitated him, to do for the past what he was 
doing for the present : to unify. For this, the new dynasty 
wanted the as^sistance of poets, and it called upon them. 
William had persistently given himself out to be not only 
the successor, but the rightful heir of Edward the Confessor, 
and of the native Icings. During several centuries the poets 
who wrote in the French tongue, the Latin chroniclers, the 
Enjjiish rh>incrs, as though obedient to a word of command, 
blended all the origins together in their books ; French, 
Danes, Saxons, Britons, Trojans even, according to them, 
formed one sole race ; all the^c men had found in I^ngland 
a common country, and their united glories were the general 
heritage of posterity. With a persistency which lasted from 
century to century, they displaced the national point of 

■ Aficr hiring oaiiEntukln] i he king upon Ms tnttnUon lo leach manncrK 
Mid viTtuci CQ a wild racv. " ifirktcliE ri niriibitt pnpullit," the Pope recalls the 
£iaou3 ihcory, *niircilng l» which *1) iilindi b«:l<inf;«d i^F n|;lit to the lluly 
S«: "Sane llibcrnlam el omncs imulni, nuibus sot juititiic Climiu* illiixlt 
... ad jiix B. Pciii cl MCruMiiittiL' Romaiuc Gcdi-viac (r|uuil ina ci nnbilitAs 
reeogno«idl) nun est iluliliiin pciiincrc . . ." The ilcmt nf the bjtgiiii are 
tbcD enumeralKl : *' Signiiicaksti iiK|ui(lem nnhb, fiili in OiriEtn rhariuimf, te 
Utbetnix tntuUni, sd tutnirniluiii iliuiii pupiilum l^hu.i, ci vjiiuruin plnnlaria 
mile cutirponrla velle inlruc, et ilc aini^liii iloiiitLus aiiiiuam utiiu^ dvnnrii B> 
f«ir* velle Mircic pcntioncm . . . Not itujuc |iiiiin ci Inudiibile doidetium 
luum cum (ih'»t« congnio Tirri»ri|ttcnie» . . . pamm ct atrrcplum h-tbemtu HI 
, . . illius l«T3 pnpulus h(j!iijri(it.-c te lecipiai et sicut Lhimiiium vcncfelur."' 
>*A(fViADi p>ipn; qiitlwheet ptnili-j^n. —Ad llenricuni II. Anjjliw njcnii" in 
MIrm's " raliulncia," vol. cUuviii. col. 1441. 



view, and ended by establishing, with e\'ery one's assent, 
the theory that the constitution and unity of a nation are a 
question not of blood but of pUce ; consanguinity matters 
little ; the important point is to be compatriots. All the 
inhabitants of the same country are one people: the Saxons 
of England and the French of England are nothing but 

All the heroes who shone in the British Isle are now 
indiscriminately sung by the poets, who celebrate Bnitus, 
Arthur, Hengist, Horsa, Cnut, Edward, and William in 
imp.artial strains. They venerate in the same manner all 
saints of whatever blood who have won heaven by the 
practice of virtue on English groiind. Here again the 
kin^, continuing the wise polic}' of his ancestors, sets 
the example. On Easter Day, 115S, Henry II. and his 
wife Ali(:norof Aquitaine enter the cathedral of Worcester, 
wearing their crowns, and present themselves before the 
tomb of the holy protector of the town. They remove 
their crowns, place them on his tomb, and swear never to 
wear them again. The saint was not a French one, but 
Wulfsian. the last Anglo-Saxon bishop, one who held the 
sec at the time of the Conquest' 

The word of command has been given ; the clerks know 
it. Here is a poem of the thirteenth century, on Edward 
the Confessor ; it is composed in the French tongue by a 
Norman monk of Westminster Abbey, and dedicated to 
Alitnor of Provence, wife of Henry III. In it we read: 
" In this world there is, we dare to say, neither country, 
nor kingdom, nor empire where so many good kings and 
saints have lived as in the isle of the English , . . holy 
martyrs and confessors, many of whom died for God ; 

• A* litUe I-'rcnch aj eould be, fo* he did 001 *v«i know the Langu^e of Ih* 
(onqucrnn, and waa on thai account near bciog removed frcim his kc : 
" quau buinu idiuia, qui lingiiam gallicam nan novcml iicc TFgiii coiuiliii 
iDteieKc poicnr." Matthmr Pui>, "Chronic* Majora," yetu 1095. 




others were very strong and brave as Arthur, Edmond, and 
Cnuf ' 

This is 3 characteristic example of these new tendencies. 
The ijocm is dedicated to a Frenchwoman by a Norman 
of England, and begins with the praise of a Briton, a 
Saxon, and a Dane. 

In the compiling of chronicles, clerks proceed in the 
same manner, and this is still more significant, for it cltrarly 
proves that the pressing of literature into the service of 
political ideas is the result of a decided will, and of a pre- 
conceived plan, and not of chance. The chroniclers do, 
indeed, write by command, and by express desire of the 
kings their masters. One of them begins his history of 
England with the siege of Troy, and relates the adventures 
of the Trojans and Britons, as willingly as those of the 
Saxons or Normans ; another writes two separate books, 
the first in honour of the Britons, and the second in honour 
of the Xormans ; a third, who goe« back to the time when 
"the world was established," does not get down to the 
dukes of Normandy without having narrated first the story 
of Antenor the Trojan, an ancestor of the Normans, as he 
believes.' The origin of the inhabitants of the land must 

' En tniind ne c*[, (licri viu I'os dtre} 
Fftu, lenutne, ne cmpirt 
U Unt unt «Mi bons loit 
£ tclnc, cum en. isle d'Eiigluis, 
Ki aprH rtgnc icrcMtc 
Or [iK"Ot reiii «n celuire. 
Seini, martin, t cunfMtun, 
Ki par n«u mururrnt pluMun; 
U •ulcc, Ion i: bBit^ii muiz, 
Cum fu Atihun, Actlrnuni e Kntadz. 

■■ Livei oT Trflwiiril Ibe Confcvtor," ««]. H. R. LitanJ (Rails), 185S ; l>Ogill- 
nioKofthc "Euoirfldc Sciiit Acdward Ic Ret." 

* Tbei« Iliree poeli. all of iIil-iii nubjccti of tlic English kin|ti, UvmI tn [be 
twelfth century ; ihc oldni of the ihrcr wok GaiTnar, who wtoIc, between 1147 
uuj 1151 (P. Mcyet, " RomuiUL," vol. xviii. p. 314), hU " Etiorie dct 




no longer be sought for under Scandinavian skies, but on 
Trojan fields. From the "Smoking ruins of Pcrgamus came 
Francos, father of the French, and ,4ineas, father of Brutus 
and of the Britons of FngJand. Thus the nations on both 
!<ides of the Channel have a common and classic ancestry. 
There is Trojan blood in their veins, the blood of Priam 
and of the princes who defended Ilion.' 

From theory, these ideas passed into practice, and thus 
received a lasting consecration ; another bond of frrtternity 
was established between the various races living on the 
soil of Britain: that which results from the memory of 
wars fought together. William and his successors do not 

Kngle»** (cd. Ilnrily anil Mutm, Rail), i88S, a vo1»., 8*o>, %vA^ atxnit 
1 145, « inRiloticin ill French retsc of ihe " Hiniurin Riiiontini " of GcolTrry 
of Moamouth (lee below, p. ijat,— Wace. born at ,Ier>*7 (lioo?-!!?;. 
C, Pam), iranitbird alto Grofficy iwo Fr«i)«h vptm (" Roman <i* Bnit," ed. 
Leioux dc Liiicy, Koucn, 1S36, I vols. 8vo), ami wioic bciwrcD tl6o and 
1174 hi* "Gcitc do NoemoiHU" 01 ■'Roninn dc Rou " (fl- Andiescn, 
Heilbrunn, 1S77. I vol^. fivu). lie wriitc olnii meicical IIto of lainu, &c.— 
B«rfiollde>iaimC'iVIo[e, bcMilcs hii iiitrlritnl roinaiit-ei Im^cIk-IuWi p. 119). wrote, 
by commiii'l of Hrnfy II., a gr«il '* Chi<>nii]ue tip* Juc» dc Notmandie" (ed. 
Fnodtquc Michel, " Document mjdiiis" V^v,, 183&, 3 vuls. 410). 

* Fvm wider ihe Rnman cin|)irie, luiinni had Ixcn knnvn 10 aiiribuie to 
tbemdclvn a Trojan uit)jLn. Lucanua aui(.t that ihe men of AutYrKne irue 
concwiiFd enough In r^'ntider thnnxlvv* nlli«d to the Trojan race- Ammianiu 
Marcel limit, fourth ctniuiy, iln1o< that iJiriilar Intdition* w«r<; cuiirnt in Caul 
in hit lime: " Aiuni <)uidain paucoi poit eacidiuiu Trojj: fut;icnics Gmcoa 
ubutuc di«|x;ni», 1i>ca tucc oL-cupaisc lunt vacua." " Kenim Gciiarum,"" lib, 
XV. cap. i(. During the Middle Acn a Roman anceticy w^i aiiiihuied 10 Uie 
French, the Britons, ihc Lotnhardii. the NnnnaiK. The hJMnry of Bnllus, 
lalhct of Ihe Jtrilons, ii 111 Nt^nniuiv Itnlh ccnluty (?| ; he nay* he drew hi* 
infbniialiuii (lum *' annalilnii KumiLiiuitiin" {" Hiniuria Rriiimum," cd> 
StcvciiMiL, llitioiical Society, Lfindon, 183S, )>. 7), The Eii^liih liiMoiiana 
aflcf him. np In modern lime*, arceplcd ihe ume legend ; il is te|iri>ilitce(l by 
Maiihcw l^irii in the ihiiieenih century, by Kalph H'ljden in ihe fminwntb, 
by Holinslied in Shakeipctean limes : "Tlii» Urulus . . . wai ihc »onne of 
Silritu, ilicMiiinc of Aw.'aniQth the miuic of .^ucaa llic Ttuian, lieEutien of 
hia wife Crcuia. and Imrne in Troie, bcfure the diie waa dvstlrvieil." 
Chronicles 1S07, 6 voU, (bl. book ii. ehap. I. In Fran« ai the 
Reniiiiuuice, Konuud ehote for hii hero Fmncna the Trojan, " brcauw," 
u b« sayvi "he ha^l an extreme desire to lionovr ihe houic of Fiance." 


BATTLE. 115 

distinguish between their subjects. All are English, and 
they are all led together to battle against their foes of 
the Continent So that this collection of scattered tribes, 
on an island which a resolute invader had formerly found 
it so easy to conquer, now gains victories in its turn, and 
takes an unexpected rank among nations. David Bruce is 
made prisoner at Neville's Cross ; Charles de Blois at Roche 
Derien ; King John at Poictiers ; Du GuescUn at Navarette. 
Hastings has made the defeat of the Armada possible; 4 
William of Normandy stamped on the ground, and a} 
nation came forth. 




What pre^-ious invaders of the island had been unable lo 
accomplish, the French of William of Normandy were 
finally to realise. By the rapidity and thoroughness of 
their conquest, by securing to themselves the assistance of 
those who knew how to use a pen, by their continental 
wars, they were to bring about the fusion of all the races! 
in one, and teach them, whether tliey intended it or not, I 
what a mother country was. 

They taught them something else besides, and tile results 
of the Conquest were not less remarkable from a literary 
than from a political point of view. A new language and new 
ideas were introduced by them into England, and a stninye 
phenomenon occurred, one almost unique in history. For 
about two or three hundred years, the French language 
remained superimposed upon the English ; the upper lajer 
slowly infiltrated the lower, was absorbed, and disappeared 
in transforming it. But this was the work of centuries. 
" And then comes, lo! " writes an English chronicler 
more than two hundred years after Hastings. " England 
into Normandy's hand; and the Normans could speak 
no language but their own, a.nd they spoke French here as 
they did at borne, and taught it tc their children : so that 



the high men or this land, who are come of their race, 
keep all to that speech which they have taken from ihem." 
People of a lower sort, " low men," stick to their English ; 
alt those who do not know French are men of no account 
" I ween that in all the world there is no country that holds 
not to her own speech, save England alone." ' 

• The diffusion ofthc French tongue was such that it seemed 
at one time as if a disappearance of English were possible. 
AU over the great island people were found speaking I'rcnch, 
and they were always the most powerful, the stronyest, 
richest, or most knowing in the land, whose favour it was 
well to gain, and whose example it was well to imitate 
Men who spoke only English remained all their lives, as 
Robert ol Gloucester tells lu, men of "little," of nothing. 
In order to become something the first condition was to 
learn French. This condition remained so long a neces- 
sary one, it was even impossible to foresee that it should 
ever cease to exist ; and the wisest, during that period, were 
of opinion that only works written in French were assured 
of longevity. Gerald de Barry, who had written in Latin, 
regretted at the end of bis life that he had not employed 
the French language, " gallicum," which would have secured 
to his works, he thought, a greater and more lasting fame' 

* Tbo* com ]o Engclond ' in (o Noita&ndles hond i 

And ibc Nonnant nc routhc spckc Iho - Ikii hor owe ipcchc. 

And tpeke Frenuh u liii liudc alnni ' snd hnt children <lude also tectac, 

So that h^icmcD o( thii l.oed * that of hor blod come 

Holdeth olle ihulkc sjin-hc ' that bii of bom nom? ; 

Vac bole B mui connc Ficdh ' mc telth uf bim tuic, 

Ac luwc mra huldcth to cn^liu ' and in hoc owe tpcchc yule. 

[di Mrene th«T ne beih in nl ihc world ' cuntreyet none 

Thmt ne holdcth to hor owe ipeche ' bote Bng«lan4e oat. 

VI. A. Wriehl. ■• Metrical Chronicle of Kobcrt ol GlouceMer " (Rolla). 1887, 
VoL U. p. 54j. Concerning Kobptt, ire lietow, p. 133. 

* Letter of lite yew II09, by wliich llemld HD-it to Kint{ John the second 
editioa of hia "ENpii|;ikii'i>> Hibcrilbc": in "Ginldi Caiiihrecuu Opera" 
(Roll*), tqI. v. p, 4(0, Piinhct an he ^pCAk-i of I'tmch aa of " cpididujU 



Besides the force lent to it by th« Conquest, the diffusion 
of the Frencln tongue was also facilitated by the marvellous 
renown ll then enjoyed throughout Europe. Never had it 
a greater ; men of various races wrote it, and the Italian 
Bruneito Latini, who used it, gave among other reasons 
for so doing, "that this speech is more delightful and more 
common to all people" ' Such being the case, it spread 
quickly in England, where it was, for a long time, the lan- 
guage used in laws and deeds, in the courts of justice, in 
Parliamentary debates,' the language used by the most 
refined poets of the period. 

And thus it happened that next to authors, French by 
race and language, subjects of the kings of England, were 
found others employing the same idiom, though of English 
blood. They strove, to the best of their possibility, to 
imitate the style in lavour with the rulcr:i of the land, they 
wrote chronicles in French, a.s did, in the twelfth and four- 
teenth centuries, Jordan Fantosmcs and Peter de Lang- 
toft ; religious poems, as Robert of Greteham, Robert 
Grossetcstc, William of Wadington did in the thirteenth ; 
romances in verse, like those of Hue of Rotelande (twelfth 
century) ; moralised tales in prose, like those of Nicole 
Bozon ; lyric poems,* or /ahliauxfi like those composed 

* " La jKulcun est pliM (lirliUMo d plm communt & toulc« Kent." " li 
livnt dou Tfboi," ihiricenili century (a sort «r philosophical, hbiorinli 
scientific, ice., cyclopardinl. cd. Clinbaille, l*ji.n>. " Documcnii inMiiK," 1863. 
4to. Dmic clierwhed "the <leat anil swwi ratlivrl)' inwje" of hi* master, 
Drunello, who recant mtnifNt to llic [incl bi< " Tr^Bct," for, he said, "in this 
book I still live." " infctoo," canio xv, 

* For ihc laws, kc ihe " Statutn of ihc ttciitm," iSi^-iB, Rcoocd Com- 
miuicin. 1 1 vail. Col. : for tlie uxuiinit of the Mitinut of Piirliament, " Kutuli 
Parliuiiiienioruin," tendon, 17&7-77, 6 voIl fol. : for the nccuunit of law- 
■uiu, the •■ V««r Booitt," eA, Horw«>d, Rolls, 1863 ft 

' Atithoi of k " Chrvniquc dc la guerre cntrc Ic* Anglois el let EscosMis," 
"73"7*' in Fitneh verse, cd. H. Howlcit; " Chroiiides of the reijpis of 
Stephen, ticncy II. > and Klchurd 1." (Kolb), 1884 a., vut. iii. pL ia%. 

* Sc« below, pp. 133, 123, 130, 914. 

> ICxamplc : " Romaiu de uti chlvaler e de ta dune e de un clerk." writlca 


by various anonymous writers ; ballads such as those 
we owe, quile at the end of the period, in the second 
half of the fourteenth century, to Chaucer's friend, John 

At this distance from the Conquest, French still played 
an important, though greatly diminished, part ; it remained, 
as will be seen, liic language of the Court ; the accounts of 
the sittings of Parliament continued to be written in 
French ; a London citizen registered in French on his 
note-book all that he knew concerning the history of his 
town.' As Robert of Gloucester had said, the case was an 
unparalleled one. This French literature, the work of 
Englishmen, consisted, of course, mainly in imitations of 
French models, and need not detain us long ; sttll, its 
existence must be remembered, for no ether fact sliows 
so well how thorough and powerful the French invasion 
had been. 

What, then, were the models copied by these imitators, 
and what the literature and ideas that, thanks to the 
Conquest, Kreneh-spcaking poets acclimatised in lately- 
Germanic England ? What sort of works pleased the 
rulers of the country ; what writings were composed for 
them; what manuscripts did they order to be copied fur 
their libraries? For it must not be forgotten, when study- 
ing the important problem of the diffusion of French ideas 
among men of English race, that it matters little whether 
tbc works most liked in England were composed by French 
subjects of the king of France, or by French subjects of 
the king of England ; it matters little whether these ideas 
went across the Channel^ carried over by poets, or by 

in French by an EnKlUUnian in ilie ihittL-nith ceniitty, eel. Paul Merer, 
"Roimnii," vol. I. p- 70. Ii it BnndapUlinTt or th« wtll-linowD/i»J^j'rw odlie 
" Houri^iw il'Orl^iu'' (in M nniniiflnn iknil R&ynaud. " Rccueil gi^^nl dm 
Fsblaiu," 1872, w»l. i. p. 117). Sec below, p. aaj. 

' ''Cnmiques de Lvnilun . . . jUMju'lk I'aii I7I^<I'III.," cti. Auntiec, 
Cimden Society. 1644. 4>(>- 



manuscripts. What is important is to see and ascertain 
that works of a new style, wtlh new aims in them, and 
bclong^ing to a new school of art, enjoyed in England a 
wide popularity after the Conquest, with the result that 
deep and lasting transformations alTectcd the aesthetic ideal 
and even the way of thinking of the inhabitants. What, 
then, were these ideas, and what was this literature ? 


This literature Itttle resembled that liked by the late 
masters of the country. It was as varied, superabundant, 
and many-coloured as the other was grand, monotonous, 
and melancholy. Tlie writings produced or simply admired 
by the conquerors were, like themselves, at once practical 
and romantic. They had, tc^cther with a multitude of 
useful works, a number of charming Songs and tales, the 
authors of which had no aim but to please. 

The useful works are those so-called scientific treatises 
in which everything is taught that can be learned, including 
virtue : "Image du Monde," "Petite Philosophie," "Lumiere 
des latqucs," "Secret des Secrets," Sic.'; or thos^ chronicles 
which so efficaciously served the political views of the 

* " Imof^ ilu MonJe," thirteenlh ctntuiy, a poem, tviy popular both in 
Fmicc and in Englnntl. of which "aboui siityMSS, ue known," •■Rnin*nia,'* 
voL IV. p, 314 : iotne of ihc MSS. were wrium in Ecglanil,— '" Pwile PhiJo* 
»ophir," «lio in vcf«c, being an "nlir^g* dc ctumographw «t de gj«gniphi«," 
"Romnnia," nv. p. 955. — "Lumicie de» lal(]uc«," a poem, wnKcn in the 
tliiiiecnih ci^niuc)', bj the An^lo'Npttnaii Fienc de rcckham ot d'Alwmuni 
iiii, p. 3S7, — "Sccrtt dc» Secrets." an B(lapiii.iian, in Ftciich ptu»c. of the 
"Senetum S^creinniiii,*' wrongly aiirihnicd 10 Aminilc, thU i<Inpiaiionb«lng 
■he work of an Iriihtntn, GeulTrq- de Waieiford. who irnmlaicd aim Dflrca 
and Eulrope. Ihiilc«nth ccniury l»c« " Histoire Lillefaire dc la trance," vol. 
xai, p, j|£), — Tuihcac majr be added inuulaliona in Fimch of vaciuui \a/an 
work>, l>aokt on ihc piripcriict of things, law bonks, mch at the "InsiiiLitci" 
ot Juttinian, luiiinl inlu French vcnr by the Norman Richard it'Annehani, 
and the "Coititune de Normandle," turntd alto into vctic. bj Guillaitine 
Chapu, a)«o a Normao, both liviii|; in the tliirtconth ccDturjr- 


rulers of the land ; or else pious works that showcxi men 
the wa)' to heaven. 

The principal historical works arc, as has been seen, 
those rhymed in the twelfth century by Gaimar, Wace, and 
Benoit cle Saintc-Morc, lengthy stories, each being more 
flowery than its predecessor, and mure thickly studded 
with digressions of all sorts, and descriptions in all colours, 
written in short and clear verse, witli beLI-like tinklings. 
The style is limpid, simple, transparent : it flows like those 
wide rivers without dykes, which cover immense spaces 
with still and shallow water' 

In the followin|f century the most remarkable work is 
the biography in verse of William le Mar^chal.earl of Pem- 
broke, one of those knights of proud mien who stitl appear 
to breathe as they lie on their tombs in Temple Church. 
This Life is the best of its kind and period ; thcanonymous 
author who wrote it to order has the gift, unknown to his 
predecessors, of condensing his subject, of grouping his 
characters, of making: them move and talk. As in the 
Temple Church, on the monument he erects to them, they 
seem to be living.* 

' Se* alxi^e, p. 1 13. The wt«1th of thi> historical Ihaature in ihe Fcencli 
longuc ii gicjicr it fim iLbd that uf the liieraiuie produced Ijy line >iibjccl» of 
Ihc French kings. IIciMm the great chionktK, many othtr woikt tiiiylic be 
qnoled, luch a* livn or E&tnM, which ore tnmclimrn hjucariesl hingntptiiM (St. 
Edward, St- Thomas Ikckcl, 4c.); the " lluluire dc la Cucrtc Sdolt," iin 
•ocoant ol the tliiitl cruudc. by AmWoAC, a companion o( Kinc Richaid 
Omr-dc-Lion (in prepAralion, b]r Gision Paris, "DocummM lucdiu*') ; ihc 
" EituMC le loi Detmui," nn the iiDublct in Irdand. wriiicn in ihr iMiirrnih 
century I " Song iif Uermoi anil the Kitl," «il. Orpen, Oiford, 189a, Svo; 

*f. P. Mpyc(, '• R'>m:iiua," vol, xxi. p, 444), &G. 

* Thit tih wo* written in the thirteenth ccotjry, t>x order or Eail Williiin, 
Km of ilie lieto of ihc itcity. Iti hintorical accuracy i» rcmarkahle. The MS. 
wu ditco«r*d hy M. Paul Meyer, and puNiihed by liim : " HiElaiie de (iuil- 
laume le Mar^chnl," Parii, 1893 fT., Soci^l6 At Thistoire de France. On the 
vftlue of ihii Life, >ee an orliclF hy the lanic, " Rumania," val. 11. The »lab 
in the Temple Cbutcb it in an cKcellcnt italc of preiecintttgiQ ; the imi^'c of 
(he otil wciiit to be a portrait ; the face it thai of nn old man with ni.xnir wrinkle* ; 
the imnrd is cnll nf the tcalihaid, and held in the right hand: iii jioiiil tt 
driven ihiough the head of in aniinal at Ihe feci of the earl. 



Another century passes, the fashion of writing history in 
Frcncli verse still subsists, but will soon die ouL Peter de 
Laiigloft, a true Englishman as his language sufficiently 
proves, yet versifies in French, in the fourteenth century. 
a history of England from the creation of the world to the 
death of Edward I. But ihc times are changing, and 
Peter, last representative of an art that is over.' is a con- 
temporary of that other Englishman. Robert of Gloucester, 
first representative of an art that begins, a distant ancestor 
of Gibbon and Macaulay. In sedate and manly, but some- 
what monotonous strains, Robert tells in his turn the history 
of his country ; dilTcring in this respect from the others, he 
uses the English tongue ; he is by no means cosmopolitan, 
but only and solely English. In the very first lines he 
makes this characteristic declaration : *' England is a very 
good land ; 1 ween the best of any. . . . The sea goes all 
about it ; it stands as in an isle ; it has the less to fear 
from foes. . . . Plenty of all goods may be found in 
England." 3 

The way to heaven is taught, after the Conquest, in 
innumerable French works, in verse and prose, paraphrases 
of the psalms and gospels, lives of the saints, manuals of 

' Jean dc Wnnrin, who wroic io Ficnch prose in the tificrnih ectiiuiy hi» 
" Chrutiiques ci ancliicnnci isioir» dc la <iran<-[irctaicne" (ccl. H>t<!y, Kolls, 
1664 ff, ) waa a Kteitchman o( KnLiice, who had foughi at Agincoiiil on i)i« 
French «ile. The chtonido tA Pelei d«- Langtnft, earaao of Bridlin);ian, 
Voiknhitc, who lived tinder EdwMtl 1. and Edwud 11-, wu piinted bj 
Tbamu Wrighl, 1866 (Roll.t), a voU. 8ra. 

' Eogelood his a wet jfud turni - ich wene t^ch londe Iwtt . . . 
The see gMh him nl aboute * he ttond aj Id aa yte. 
Of fon hii done I he Umif douta ' bo'lo hit be ihoigh [;ylc > - - 
Plcntc mc may in l^ngclond ' of nJlc godc i»c. 

W. A. WrJBhi, ■• Metric*! Chrooiclc of Robert of GloucMtcr," iM; (RolUJ, 
vol. i. pp. I, 2. Koberl* lumnmc, " e& C>luuceiter." 1* not Certain ; s«e Mr. 
Wrighi'i preface, and hi* ]elt«t 10 tli« AlheH,t»'H. May t^, t8S8. H« it v«y 
buJ (t'>u hurd it (MTOi) 9n Robcit. of whox work he says : " A» literature it 
ii a* wutihlcst ok twelve itiou'onil lino of rerse wrilhout one tjiark of pnctt; 
can be." 



penitence, miracles of Our Lady, moralised tales, bestiaries, 
and sermons.' The number of the French-spealiing popula- 
tion had so increased in the kingdom that it was not 

* Amonu writingi of thii tax\, wfiHen in French diher by Frcnchmm or 
b]r Engliihmen, »d(] popular in Hn|<land, mny be quoirtt : PrniientUI PmIrii, 
a French rcnion vciy poiiuUc in Enelsndt ii> * MS. ptMcrvcd at (he 
Univcrtily Library. CATnliridijc, ihirlecnlh ccniiicy I" Rumania," vul. xv. 
P- JOS).— E'pIonatiDii of the Gmpeli: the " Mitoir." by Kobeit dc Gici*- 
bun, in 30,000 French ver»«& {,Mii.\.—\i.s**, of SajdU: life of Bm-kct in 
*'M«teiial* for ihc hiMory of Thoma* Reelect," cd. Rolicnion, 187; IF., 
7 vol»., and " FniKincnt* d'unc vie de St. Thomas'' (with very curiou> 
en^atini^). edited l)>' I'^nl Meyer, 18S5, 410, Siici^i^ des Andetui Tcxld ; 
life of S(. Catliciine, liy SUier Clcint-nec ilc ttaiking. twelfth ccninty (G. 
P»ri*, " Ronianit." xiit. p, AfXi) : life of Si. Joiuiphu ntnl life of ihc .Seven 
Skcpen, ty Chwdri-, Ihirlcctilh ccnluty ("Chatdry'i Josaphni," Ac, «d. 
Koch, lleilbronn, [879. 8vo) ; life of St> Gr^oiy the Utcat, by Aucicr, of 
fil, Fridai»idc'», Oiford. iHrleeitili ccnmry (lou and cominciitiuy in 
"Komania." kit. pp. 14; IT.) ; livet of Si. Edward (ed. Liiaid, Rnlli, i858> ; 
mtnbeD of manjiAlhrr tivcx in French [olhen in Ktiglinh) will be found in 
!Iai(ty'* "DtMriplive CaUlopic," RoUt, 1861 IT.— .Manual!, and irealisc*: bj' 
Boberi GrotacleMe, William de Wadingtun and uihcn (see betuw, p. 314). — 
Works concerning Our L&dy : " Adgarv Mattel) L'cedden,"' ed. Carl Kcuhaus, 
Hrilhftmn, 1SS6, Svo (EinrieK in French verxe nf mirades a\ the Virgin. Iiy 
Adgsr, an .^glo- Norman of the iwelflh century ; lome lake plan in EnglauU) t 
'*J<»e» dc Notre D.iuie," "Plaintes de Noire Dame," French |ioctii* wrilten 
in England, lliiflecDih century |kc " Romtnia," v«]. kv. pp. 307 fT.). — 
Mntalifred Ules uid Oniiaric^ 1 " Bestiarrc " of Pliilippc de lliann, a Notman 
pricti of the twelfth century, in French ccfie (indadct a " Lapidoite " and 
a " Vojuemtre," on the virtue* of ilonei and birdi), levt in T. Wright. 
"Poiiulat Treat i*c« on Science," London 1^1, Hialori'CaL Soeiely, 8vo; see 
alio P. Meyer, " Rccucil d'ancicnt tcxict," l^iti*, 1S77, 8vo, p. 3S6), the 
Mine wrote alio an ecelciifutioil *' Compui " In rcne led. Mall, Straibouxe- 
1873, Svo) : *' Ueitiaire difln," by Guillaunie Le Cletc. v,\va a Norman. 
Ihineenth century (ed. Ifippenu, CKen, 1851. Svo), Cn be conijared 10 the 
•rotldly " Bestiaire d'.\moui," oJ Kidiard dc Faurnival, Ihiricenlh Cenlury 
(ed. Hippeaii, Pari*, 1840, Sro^; translation in French prmc, ptoliably by 
a Norman, of the Latin fables (thirteenth ccniuiy) iif OJu de CheriiDti, 
" KoRinnia," vol. liv. p. JSS, and llerviciix. '■ FubiiliMet Ijilins," vol. ii. ; 
" Conte* nionLliifa de Nicole Boion," ed. P. Meyer and Ijicj- Toulmin .Smith, 
Paiis, 1889, 8*0, Soci^l^ del Ancient Textes, in French prose, fourteenth 
century. — Sctoiont: " Rcinnp(edi|;t," ed. Suchiei, Halle, 1S79, Svi>, in French 
»er»e. bywi AnRlti-Notman ; on nctmnn* in French and in L*cin, see Lccoy 
de la MBrc;he. " L> Chaite tian^alie an muyvn age," I'ariK, 1SS6, Svo, ind 
tA. \ ai p. J8i. sermon on the ?au>ion by Geoffrey de Watetfofd in French 
rei»Oi Anglo- Km man dialect. 



absurd to preach in French, and some of the clergy in- 
clined all the more willingly to so doing that many of 
the higher prelates in the land were Frenehmen. "To 
the simple folk." says, in French, an Anglo-N'orman 
preacher, " have I simply made a simple sermon. I did 
not make it for the learned, as they have enough writings 
and discourses. For these young people who arc not 
scholars I made it in the Romance tongue, for better will 
they understand the language they have been accustomed 
to since childhood." 

A la tiinplegcni 
Ai (lit fiimpleir-cnl 
Un ntnplc Mrmun. 
Nel £> as lcti«x 

CU il Ulll SMOt 

E&ciii e rnkiui. 

Pw iceU cnfiuii 

Le li) en tointuu 

Qui ne tuui letr^ 

Car ini«l enlMidriint 

\m. languc dunl >unt ' 

Religious works, as well as the chronicles, arc mainly 
written in a clear, thin, transparent style ; neither sight nor 
thought is absorbed by them ; the world can be seen 
through the light religious veil ; the reader's attention 
wanders. In truth, the real religious poems we owe to 
the Normans are those poems in stone, erected by their 
architects at Ely, Canterbury, York, and Durham. 

Much more conspicuous was the literature of the 
imagination composed for them, a radiant literature made 
of numberless romaunts, songs, and love-tales. They had 

* " Reimprectigt," ed. Suchier, Ilnlle, 1879, p. 64. There wcte alto termoiu 
In Engluh (*ec next chapter} ; Jocelin <le l)mk«lond« uys in his chtonkle that 
■eruuiu u'ctc delivered iii cburchet, "^allicc vel potius anglicc, ut maium 
fi»ci cdillcjilio, noD lilcmnnc ostcoaio," year 1300 (Camden Society, 1840, 
P- 9S)- 


no taste for the doleful tunes of the Anglo-Saxon poet ; 
his sadness was repellent to Ihem, his despairs they 
abhorred ; they turned the page and shut the book with 
great alacrity. They were happy men ; everything went 
well with them ; they wanted a literature meant for happy 


First of all the>' have epic tales ; but how different from 1 
"Beowulf"! The Song of Kolurnl. sung at Hastings,) 
which was then the national song of the Normans aa | 
well as of all Frenchtnen, is the most warlike poem ia( 
the literature of mediaeval France, the one that best ' 
recalls the Germanic origins of the race ; yet a wide 
interval already separates these origins from the new 
nation ; the change is striking.* Massacres, it is true, still 
occupy the principal place, and a scent of blood pervades 
the entire poem ; hauberks torn open, bodies hewn in 
two, brains scattered on the grass, the steam rising from 
the battle, fill the poet's heart with rapture, and his soul 
_w roused to enthusiasm. Hut a place is also kept for 
tender sentiments, and another for winged speeches. 
Woman is not yet the object of tliis tenderness ; Charle- 
magne's peers do not remember Audc while they fight ; 
they expire without giving her a sigh. But their eyes are 
dim with tears at the recollection of fair France ; tlicy 
weep to sec their companions lie prostrate on the grass ; 

' " La ChuiMm de Roland, teiie criiiijuc. uaduction el commcnitiic," by 
Lfoo GauLier, 7'oiiis, iS-Sl, 8vi>: *' L.a ChmiKon Am Roland, tintluciion 
arehaique ct ryibmee," by L. CLWjiI, Parii, iSSj, 8vo. On ihe loninnws of 
the cycle of CtuHciDE^^ne componcl in England, icc O. t'arU, " lii&tuirc 
poAiquc de ChSkrlctiiiti;nr," 1865, 8vu, pp. ijj ff. Ttic unique MS. nf the 
"Qianton," wrilicn aboiii ii;o, is ml Oxford, where it wm found in uar 
oeniuiy. Ii w»g printed for ilw first time in 1S3?. Other versions of Ui< 
(Loiy bAVC cotne down la ui ; on wbich sec Cuitoii Psrls's Intreductioo to tui 
" Eitraiii ie la Ch&nMin dc Roland," 1)193, 4>h cd. 



the real mistress of Roland, the one to whom his last 
thought reverts, is not Audc but Durandal, his sword. 
This is his love, the friend of his life, whose fate, after he 
shall be no more, preoccupies him. Just as this sword 
ha*i a name, it hafi a life of its own ; Roland wishes it to 
die with him ; he would lilce to kill it, as a lover kills his 
mistress to prevent her falling into the hands of miscreants. 
" The steel grates, but neither breaks nor notches. And 
the earl cries : Holy Mary, help me 1 . . . Ah 1 Durandal, 
so dearly beloved, how white and clear thou art! how thou 
shinest and flashes: in the sunlight. ... Ah ! Durandal, 
fair and holy art thou!"' In truth, this is his love. 
Little, however, docs it matter to ascertain with what or 
whom Roland is in love; the thing to be remembered 
is that he has a heart which can be touched and moved, 
and can indeed feel, suffer, and lovt^ 

At Roncevaux, as well as at Hastings, French readiness 
of wit appears even in Uie middle of the battle. Arch- 
bishop Turpin, so imposing when he bestows the last 
benediction on the row of corpses, keeps all through the 
fight a good-hiimour similar to that of the Conqueror. 
"This Saracen seems to me something of a heretic," :• he 
says, espying an enemy; and he fells him to earth. Oliver, 
too. in a passage which shows thai if woman has no active 
part assigned to her in the poem she had begun to play an 
important one in real hTe. slays the caliph and says: Thou 
at shall not go boasling of our defeat. " either to thy 
wife or to any lady in thy land." 3 

* Crnj»l \\ iricn, tie fniini ne f'«sgruignel ; 
Ki dill li mcni : " Siiniv Muii!. uiude \ . . , 
E I Uurendal, com \ki «t cl^c eT btAoche I 
Cjuiic »o1cil ii fcluUcl tcflambat . . . 
E I Durcnddt, com i^ b«lc cl saintimne I " 

* Cil SuTuin) mc scmbltt mult licriles. 

1 Ne ft niuJllicr n'a ilaiuc qu'ai veiit 
N*en vaniens d' Tcgnc duni lu fnt. 


It will finally be noticed that the subject of this epic, the 
oldest in France, is a defeat, thus showing, even in that far- 
distant a^c, what the heroic ideal of the nation was to be, 
that is. not so much to triumph as (o die well. She will 
never lay down her arms merely because she is beatcTv; 
she will only lay them down when enough of her sons 
have perished. Even when victory becomes impossible, 
the nation, howcwr resigned to the inevitable, still fights 
for honour. Such as we sec her in the Song of Roland, 
such she appears in Froissart, and such she has ever shown 
herself: " For never was the realm of France so broken, 
but that some one to fight against could be found thcrc^" * 
The conquerors of England are complete men ; they 
are not only valiant, they arc learned ; they not only take 
interest in Uie immediate past of their own race ; they are 
also interested in tlie distant past of other civilised nations; 
they make their poets tell them of the heroes of Greece 
and Rome, and immense metrical works are devoted to 
these personages, which will beguile the time and drive 
ennui away from castlc-halls. These poems form a whole 
cycle ; Alexander is the centre of it, as Charlemagne is 
of the cycle of France, and Arthur of the cycle of Britain. 
The porta who write about these famous warriors 
endeavour to satisfy at once the contradictory tastes of 
their patrons for marvels and for truth. Their works are 
a collection of attested prodigies. They are unanimous 
in putting aside Homer's story, which does not contain 
enough miracles to please them, and, being in consequence 
little disposed to leniency, they reject the whole of it as 
apocryphal. I confess, says one of them, that Homer 
was a "marvellous clerk," but his tales must not be 
believed : "' For well we know, past any doubt, that he 

' *'Cw !• Ro>-»iinic de France nc Cm oncqun il de«confi» qae on n"y 
Uauvwi bien lou&Juuii i qui coinlxiure." Prologue of ilit Chroniclet, [.iic«'* 
editiant v«L I. p. 3ta. 



was born more than a hundred years after the great host 
was giilhcrcd together." ■ 

But the worst forger of Alexandria obtains the confi- 
dence of our poets ; they read with admiration in old 
manuscripts a journal of the sJcgc of Troy, and the old 
manuscripts declare the author of this valuable document 
to be Dares the Phrynian. The work has its counterpart 
executed in the Grecian camp by Dictys of Crete. No 
doubt crosses their mind ; here is authenticity and truth, 
here are documents to be trusted ; and how interesting 
they are, how curious ! the very journal of an cye-wilncss ; 
truth and wonder made into one 

For Alexander they have a Tip less precious text : the 
Pseud o-Ca II isthcTies, composed in Greek at Alexandria, 
of which a Latin version of the fourth ccntur>' still exists. 
They are all the better disposed towards it that it is a 
long tissue of marvels and fabulous adventures." For 
the history of'Thebes they are obliged to content them- 
selvea with Stalius, and for that of Rome with Vii^il, 
that same Virgil who became by degrees, in media:val 
legends, an enchanter, the Merlin of the cycle of Rome. 
He had, they believed, some weird connection with the 
powers of darknes-s ; for he Iiad visited them and described 
in his " .(Encid " their place of abode : no one was sur- 
prised at seeing Dante take him for a guide. 

What these poets wished for was a ccrtilicate of authen- 
ticity at starting. Once they had it, they took no further 

' Cu bicn KavuDft uuit Dul cipoic 
Q"!! nc fu plus tic c ans ni^ 
Q'li ennt mt fu aucinbl^r. 

MS- ft. 60 in th« National IJAinty, Pajii, (61. 42 : omiains: "Li Roumans 
d« TIetvK (jni fu mdne At Troie U pvnt — Item louie I'hUtoire de Ttele la 

' "Alcxsndrc le GnuxJ, <lani la ti(ttnitttr« ftan^ftiie du ntvycn Ige," br 
F. Mcyei, Paiix, 18S6, 3 «xib. Sto (vol. i. texu, voL ii. hiatory «f the 
legmd) : vol. ii. p. 182. 



trouble ; it was their passport ; and with a well-worded 
passport one can go a long waj'. After having blamed 
Homer and appealed to Dares, they fell tlieiiiselves above 
suspicion, laid hands on alt they could, and invented in 
their turn. Here is. for example, an episode in the 
romance of Alexander, a story of maidens in a forest, 
who sink underground in winter and rcapj>car in spring 
in the shape of flowers: it will be vainly sought for in 
Callisthencs ; it is of Eastern origin, and is found in 
EdrUi. For want of better, and to avoid the trouble of 
naming names, the authors will somttimcs refer their 
public to " I^tin books," and such was the renown of 
Rome that the reader asked nothing more. 

No need lo add that manners and dresses were scarcely 
better observed than probability. Kverj'thing in these 
poems was really translalid : not only the language of the 
ancients, but their miment, their civilisation, their ideas. 
Venus becomes a princess ; the heroes arc knights, and 
their costumes arc so much in the fashion of the day that 
they serve us to date the poems. The miniatures conform 
lo the tale ; tonsured monks bear Achilles to the grave ; 
they carry tapers in their hands. Queen Penthesilea, 
•' doughty and bold, and beautiful and virtuous," rides 
astride, her heels armed with huyc red spurs.' CE)dipus 
is dubbed a knight ; vEncas lakes counsel of his " barons." 
This manner of representing antiquity lasted till the 
Renaissance ; and till much later, on the stage Under 
Louis XIV., Augustus wore a pcrruquc "in-folio"; and 
in the last century Mrs. Hartley played Cleopatra in 
faniers on the Knglinh stage. 

In accordance with thcs' ydcas were written in French, 
for the benefit of the conqu -ra of England, such talcs as 
the immense " Roman dc I'roie," by Benoit dc Sainte- 

* &IS. U, 7S3 «l th« Nittional Library, Psri*. containing poemi b^- Bcsoit dc 
Sainic-Mun. (oL 151. 155. 15S. 




More, in which is related, for the first time in any modern 
langui^c, tlic story of TroitiLs and Cressida ; the " Roman 
dc Thebes," written about 1 1 50 ; that of " Eneas," composed 
during the same period ; the History of Alexander, or 
the " Roman dc toute Ohcvalcric," a vast compilation, one 
of the longest and dullest that be, written in the beginning 
of the thirteenth century by Eustace or Thomas of Kent ; 
the Romance of " Ipomcdon," and the Romance of " Pro- 
tlicsilaus," by Hue of Rotclande, composed before 1191 ; 
and many others besides • : all romances destined to 
people of leisure, delighting in long descriptions, in pro- 
digious adventures, in enchantmenLi, in transformations, 
in marvels. Alexander converses with trees who foretell 
the future to him ; he drinks from the fountain of youth ; 
he gets into a glass barret lighted by lamps, and is let 
down to the bottom of the sea. where he watches the 
gambols of marine monsters ; his army is attaclced by 
wild beasts unftfTrighted by flames, that squat in the midst 
of the fires intended to scare them away. He places the 
corpse of the admiral who commanded at Babylon in an 
iron coffin, thai four loadstones hold to the vault. The 
authors give their imagination full scope ; their romances 
are operas ; at cvcr>' page wc behold a marvel and a 

■ Bennit tie Saintc-Mocc, « poet of the court af Htnvf 11., wrote his 
"Ruiiulii lie Troie" aboui 1160 (G. Puit) ; ii wu edited by Joly, I^ci*, 
iSjO. 3vol8.4ia— "LcRnmaniicTh*licK."pcl.L. CnnBlnns, pRrit. 1JI90. 3 voll. 
Svi), wrongiy atlribulcct Id tlcnoii <lc Sunle-MiMC, indirectly imimied fram the 
"Thcboid" of Statiu«.~" Eanut," a criticJ text, cd. J. Stil<rcdia de Grave, 
Ilallc, BiLlJiilhccu Nuriiiannic&. 1S91, Svu, aliiu auiibutecl, tiitl M'[oill[1y it 
seems, to Bcnoit : ihc work ofa Nnimui, Iwclfih ccniiiry; iniitatril (rem ttie 
" /S.neiA.''—'the immente poem of Euita«he ur Thonuu de Kent is ctill un- 
pulilixhed I the aulhoi iinitat«s the romuiec in "al«Kandrmei" of Lambea" Ic 
Ton nJid Ale^anilre dc IWiii, twelfth century, lA. Michcbnt, Sluii^rt, 
[!!.]£. — The rcmunces of Hue dc Roii'lande {Khuddlaa in Flinuliitc .') aicalM 
111 tiench vefM?, .iiid were coniposetl lietwern II76-7 uid 1 190-1 ; see WmiI, 
'*C4italogiie of Romances," iSSj, voL i. pp. 73SfT. ;hu "Ipuiiiedon" hu been 
t<)ile<l by K^lbiuK and Koscliwiijt, UrcslDu, 1889, 8to j hit " [*T»the*ilanf " 11 
ttill unpuhliiheil. 


change of scene ; here wc have the clouds of heaven, there 
the depths of the sea. I vi-rile of these more than I bcHcvc. 
"cquidcm plura transcrJbo quam credo," Quintus Curtiu:* 
had already said.^ 

Just as they had curiously inspected their new domains, 
appropriating to themselves as much land as possible, so 
the conquerors inspected the literatures of their new com- 
patriots, ir, as will be seen, they drew little from the 
Saxon, it is not because ihey were absolutely ignomnt of 
it, but because they never could well understand its genius. 
Amongst the different races with which they now found 
themselves in contact, they were at once attracted by 
iniellectiiai sympathy to the Celtic, whose mind resembled 
their own. .'\Iexandcr had been an amusement, Arthur 
became a passion. To the A-nglo-Xnrman singers arc 
due the moat ancient and beautiful poems of the Briton 
cycle that have come down to us. 

In the " matter " of France, the heroic valour of the 

defenders of the country fonns the principal interest of 

the stories ; tn the matter of Rome, the " inirabilia " ; and. 

' in the matter of Britain, love We are farther and farther 

removed from Beowulf. 

At the time of the Conquest a quantity of legends and 
tales were current concerning the Celtic heroes of Britain, 
some of whom were quite independent of Arthur ; never- 
theleR« all ended by being grouped itbout him, (nr he was 
the natural centre of all this literature : " The Welsh have 
never ceased to rave about him up to our day," wrote the 
grave William of Matmesbury in the centurj' after the 
Conquest ; he was a true hero, and deserved something 
better than the "vain fancies of dreamers." William 
obviously was not under the spell of Arthurian legends.' 

■ lib. IX. «[>. ii. 

* " Hie Ml Arlliur A« rfta Britaniim itugK hadicquc dctiraml, digntia plane 
t^uMl Dim UlncM Mxiiniucni Cibulic. Ktl veracts prKdicaicnt huiorigt." '' t>c 


Wales, Brittany, and Cornwall were the centres where 
these ]e;4erids had developed ; the Briton harpists had, by 
the beauty of their tales, and the sweetness of iheir music, 
early acquired a great reputation. It was a recommenda- 
tion for a minstrel to be able to state that he was a Briton, 
and some usurped this title, as does Renard the fox, in the 
" Roman dc Rcnart" • 

One thing, however, was lacking for a time to the' com- 
plete success of the Arthurian epic : the stamp of authen- 
ticity, the Ijtin starting-point. An Anglo-Norman clerk 
furnished it, and bestowed upon thia literature the Dares it 
needed. Professional historians were silent, or nearly so, 
respecting Arthur ; Gildas, in the sixth century, never 
mentions htm : Ncnniuv, in the .tenth, only devotes a 
few lines to him.» Geoffrey of Monmouth makes up for 
this deficiency.^ 

His predecessors knew nothing, he knnu's everything ; 

Gcsiit," ed. Stubbi, KolU, vnl. i. p. 1 1. Hmiy of Huniingdon. on the otheir 
htnil. unable to idenitfy the (tlnces ol Aithui'* Imiii1<s, <l«u:3fiu upon ihe nnity 
of hnic vid glory, "populani nurp;, laudis adul-xo'iix, Iaiiuc tiBnutoiiic. . , .'* 
"Hutoria AD^ioium." RolU, p. 49. 
■ Sayi Uie WoK ; 

Dunt e«rcs voc ? de quel patt ? 

Vos n'esiei mjc no« de France , . . 

— Nai, mi (cignur, initio de Brctaing . . • 

— £1 Hva V09 cicisuD mcaticl? 

— Ya, (^ lot molt bull juiiler . . . 

Ge fo[ Kivoic bon )ai lli«tan. 

*' Roman de RenaK," cd. Martin, val. i, pp. 66. 67. 

" CJM.1t. *' Dc E^cldio UriiLnni^tr," cd. J. Sici-cnson, English HitluiicaT 
Socieiy, 1S3S, Svo ; Ncnniu.-i, " Hiiiotia Sriionum," same editor. pUce. and 

> His " Hisloria" was oilired by Gile<^, London, 1844. 81-0, aiid by Saa 
Marlr, " Gotlfricd viwi MiininiMlh Hittoria return Briunniic," Hiill«, lt'54, 
8to, GculTccy of Monmouth, or rather CcofTrey Aiihui, a name ithicb 
h^d ticcn borne by lib £»ih« bcfotc him fOnlffrai or Gmff>ii in Welsh), ftrel 
Initialed frmn Welili iniu J^iin ilif jiinplLi^iei of Mcilit). inclutled itflcrwafds 
in hit " Hisloria"-, biitiop of Si. Asajih, lija; died at Llwidnff, 1154. Sm 
Ward. " CoUlogue of Kumancoi,'' vol. i. |jp, SOJ IT- 


his British genealogies are precise, his narratives arc 
detailed, his enumerations complete. The mist had lifted, 
and the scries of these kings about whom so niiiny charming 
legends were afloat nuw appeared as clear as the succession 
of the Roman emperors. In their turn they present them- 
selves with the authority conferred at that time in the 
world by great Latin books. They ceased to be the 
unacknowledged children of anybody's fancy ; they had to 
own them, not «ome stray minstrel, but a personage of 
importance, known to the king of the land, who was to 
become bishop of St Asaph, and be a witness at the 
peace of 1153, between Stephen of BInis and the future 
Henry II. In 11^9, the "Historia Rcgum Britannis" 
had appeared, and copies began to circulate. Henry of 
Huntingdon, passing at the Abbey of Tiec, in Normandy, 
in the month of January of that year, finds one, and is 
filled with astonishment. " Never," writes he to one of 
his friends, "had I been able to obtain any information, 
oral or written, on the kings from Rnitus to Ciesar . . . 
But to my amazement I have just discovered — stupens 
invcni — a narrative of these times."' it was Geoffrey's book. 
The better to establish his authority, Geoffrey himself 
had been careful to appeal to a mysterious source, a c;:rtain 
book of which no trace has ever been found, and which 
he pretends was given him by his friend Walter. .Arch- 
deacon of Oxford. Armed with this proof of authenticity, 
which no one could contest, he ends his hislorj' by a half- 
serious, half-joking challenge to the professional chroniclers 
of his time. " I forbid William of Malmesburj' and Henry 
of Huntingdon to speak of the British kings, seeing that 
they have never had in their hands the book Waller, 
Archdeacon of Oxford, brought me from Brittany." 
Cervantes nc\Tr spoke with mure gravity of Ctd Hatnet- 

• Wgrd, *' Oilftlogue of Roniuicet." vol, i, p. aia 



Such a book could not fail of success : it had a pro- 
digious fame. Some hi-itorijins lodged protests ; they 
niigiit as well have protested against Dares. Gerald de 
Barrj' crietl out it was an imposture ; and William of 
Newbury inveighed against the impudence of "a writer 
called Geoffrey," who had made "Arthur's little finger 
bigger than Alijxandcr's back."' In vain ; copies of the 
"Historia Rcgum " multiplied to such an extent ihat the 
British Museum alone now possesses thirty-four of them. 
The appointed chronicler of the Angevin kings, Wac^ 
translated it into French about 1155, with the addition of 
several legends omitted by GcofTrey, that of the Round 
Table among others.' It was turned into Latin verse, 
into French alexandrine*, into Welsh prose ; no honour 
was denied it. From this time dates the literary fortune 
of Arthur. Merlin, Morgan Ihc fairy, I'crcival, Tristan 
and Iscult, Lancelot and Guinevere, whose deeds and loves 
have been sung from century- to centiir>-, down to the day 
of Shakespeare, of Swinburne, and Tennyson. 

The finest poems the Middle Ages devoted to them 
were written on Knglish ground, and especially the most 
charming of all, dedicated to that Tristan,; whom Dante 

' " Quidam noilrii itniporibui. pro cxpinnrlit hi* Britonura miieuliE. KHptor 
emcnit,nJii.'ulii Ji- (iidi-ni h(;meii'» ttinlcxTHi, . . . Caufri'luuhicdi-ctus est . . ■ 
Profcclo mimmiim digiliim Mii Arturi )>rciik>ti>ietii facil dniKO Alcxindri mitjini." 
" (luilk'lmi Neubriscnt-ii Hisiuila." e<I, llcurne, Oxfonl, 1719. 3 vol*. Si-o, 
" Piaemiiim " : end of the iwelfih rentury. 

* "\a: Roman <)i- Iiiut,"(Mi. Le Rous de Lincy. Rouen, t $36-38, 3 voU. 
8to> Cf. P. Mcj-cr, •' De i]iic1(|uc> chtoniques ariKlo-notiniindcs qui onl 
poitflenonxie Biul/'Puil^, X^^%. " Itiillclbdc liiSodtt^do Andcnn Tcxim 

' The oldMt po«m u< hav< in whirh ihe <«rly «ong* on Tri»tan wetc 
g)itlicrt»l intu unc wliok ytaa wiiucn in Ftcnch. ui Eui^lisli suil, by Berou 
about 11501 Another vcnion, ilso in French vcnc, was written aboui 1 170 
by anotlicT Angln-Nurinati, riitlnl Tbrnnaik A lliird wu the wuik of the 
funous Chroiien ileTroye*. siime ceotufy. We S«i-« only fragmenu of the 
yua linl : th« Imi » cnlirrly luM. It hiu l>Mn, h<vwiit«r, powiiVile lo reoon- 
ititutc ihc poem of Thomll^ " by meant o\ ihrcc ^-crtionK : ■ Cicmun one (by 


places by Helen of Troy in the group of lovers : " I beheld 
Helen, who caused such years of woe, and I saw great 
Achilles. . , . Paris and Tristan."' 

Tristan's youth was spent in a castle of Lfonois, by the 
sea. One day a Norwegian vessel, laden with stuffs and 
with hunting-birds, brings to before the walls. Tristan 
comes to buy falcons ; he lingers to play chess with the 
merchants ; the anchor is weighed, and Tri.stan is borne 
off in the ship. A storm drives the vessel on the coast 
of Cornwall, and the youlh is conducted before King 
Marc. Harpers were playing ; Tristan remembers Briton 
lays ; he lakes the harp, and so sweet is his music that 
"many a courtier rctnains there, forgetting his very name."' 
Marc (who turns out to be his uncJc) takes a fancy to him, 
and dubs him knight. " Should any one," says the author 
of one of the versions of Tristan, " inquire of me concern- 
ing the dress of the knights, 1 will tell him in a few words ; 
it was composed of four stuffs : courage, richness, skill, 
and courteiy." 

Morolt, the giant, comes to claim a tribute of sixty 
youths and maidens, in the name of the king of Ireland. 

Golfrid of SirubouTK, nn6nUhM). * Norwegiiin one (in prate, a.b. 1335, 
fnjlhful hut cimprcsictl}, «n<l ah KnglUh one (\IVth century, a gmlljr 
ittpurnl text)." (j. pArii, "La LitcctiUuic riiuijaise au moycn igc," and 
cd., 1690. p. 94. Sec al»i " Triiun n Ixut," by ihc vmci /'mxe «b Parii, 
A|]cit I J, 18^ 

T«li : "The poetical Romances of Trillin in French, in Anglo- Kormon, 
And in Gieck," t-d. Fmin-twiiir Mithpl, I^,mlun, 1835-9, 3 viJs. 8vo. — "Die 
Noidbche und die Ivnglivhe Vcninn drr Tmian-Sa;;e," cd. Kolbiiig, 
HePhninn, 1878-4$, 2 toIv Sko ; vol. i.. ■■ TiUlctnix Saga ok Itoudni" (Noi. 
we^iui pfwejl "*>!■ ii-. "Sir Trisirnni " (blngli«h verm;).— " Goufried ron 
SimMbaig Triaun," «). Reinhold Bnchstein, Leipcig, 1869, S vols. Svo 
(Gtntuui vcriic}. 

' •' Infcftio." canto v, 

* Itic f(ill(iwin(! aiulyuk la mainly made aflct " Tnitnn ei tieiili, poHne de 
Gotbit lie Strailxiutg. cooipaitf a d'sulres potniei »iir le meme *ujel," by 
A* B<nsetl. Parih, 1865, Svo. Galfrit wrole bcfuie I90J (C- Faria, " lliitoire 
Liltcmiedc U Krancc," voL sm. p. 31}. 


They were proceeding to select these victims, when Tristan 
challenges the giant and kills him ; but he is wounded by 
a poisnncd weapon, and, day by day, death nearer. 
N^o one can cure this poison except the queen of Ireland, 
sister of the dead man. Tristan, disguised as a poor 
harper, has himself put on a bark and arrives in Dublin, 
where the queen heals him. The queen had a daughter, 
Iseult, with fair hair ; she begs the harper to instruct the 
young girl. Iseult becomes perfect : " She can both read 
and write, she composes epistlet and songs ; above all, she 
knows many [Briton] lays. She is sntight after for her 
musical talent, no less tlian for her beauty, a silent and still 
sweeter music that through the eyes insinuated itself into 
the heart' All her life she remembered the teaching of 
Tristan, and in her sorrows had recourse to the consoling 
power of music. When sitting alone and sad, she would 
sing "a touching song of love," on the misfortunes of 
Guiron, killed for the sake of his lady. This lay " she 
sings sweetly, the voice accords w ith the harp, the hands arc 
beautiful, the lay is fine, sweet the voice and low the tone."' 
Tristan's task being accomplished, he returns to Corn- 
wall. One day a swallow drops at the feet of King Marc 
a golden hair, so soft and brilliant, so lovable, that the king 
swears to marry no other woman but her of the golden 
hair.» Tristan starts in quest of the woman. The 

* En w chimbre m hI an jor, 
£ fail un lai piiu* ()'ai»|o]r : 
Comenl dan Guirun fii siirpris, 
Put I aiiiur At s> dune ocii. , . . 
I^ rrinc chitntc diilc«incnt, 
Ln \oii acoide el cilruirenC ; 
L» tnaint sunt bcb, li lou bjultu 
Uulcc U voir (ct] bu U toiu. 

Fnncbqtis Mielicl, *ti tnpra, vol. iii, p. 3,9, 

* On thi* inciJcni, the mrlicsc vcnioD of which is •£ oM u ihc TounMnth 
cxniuty B.C.. haviniE bceu fuund In in Ec)rp[iaa papynu oT Ihmc cUte, aee 
the uitit!le by Gaston Pari«'», rait I. 



woman is Iseult : he brings her to Cornwall. While at 
.sea the two young people swallow by mistake an en- 
chanted draught, a "boivrc" dcstincxi for Marc and his 
betrothed, which had the virtue of producing a passion 
that only death could end. The poison slowly takes 
effect ; their sentiments alter. '* All that I know troubles 
mc, and all I see pains me," says Ucult. "The sky, 
the sea, my own self oppresses me. She bent forward, 
and leant her arm on TriMan's shoulder : it was her 
first caress. Her eyes filled with repressed tears ; her 
bosom heaved, her lips quivered, and her head remained 

The marriage takes place. Marc adores the queen, but 
she thinks only of Tristan. Marc is warned, and exiles 
Tristan, who, in the course of his adventures, receives a 
present of a wonderful dog. This dog wore a bell on his 
neck, the sound of which, so sweet it was. caused all sorrow 
to be forgotten. Mc sends the dog to Iscult.who. listening 
to the bell, finds that her grief fades from her niemury ; 
and she removes the collar, unwilling to hear and to 

Iseult is at last repudiated, and Tristan bears her off by 
lonely paths, through forest depths, until they reach a 
grotto of green marble carved by giants in ages past An 
aperture at the top let in the light, lindens shaded the 
entrance, a rill trickled over the grass, flowers scented 
the air, birds sang in the branches. Here nothing more 
existed for them save love. " Nor till the might of 
August" — thought the old poet, and said a more recent 

Not till ihe might of Augtut ovcrhesd 
W«i^d on ihc wotM, was yet one fi»ele*f shed 
Of ftU ibcir yyj'i vttam i:»ronAl, not tiught 
Ttitichcil (hem in (wsring ever wiih a ihougbt 
That ever thi< niicht end on an)- dny. 
Or any nighl noi love ihem wlieie Uiej' lay ; 


Bui tike a babbling UkLc of barccn breath 
Sccmcil all report ncid ntinaiK hcl<l ordtslh. 
Anil 3 Mk bruit thi: Ici^iid tear ttniicarlHt 
Thai wieh a diing as chnn^c wda iii ihe world.* 

King Marc's hunt passes by the grotto ; through an 
ojjeiiiiig at the top he chances to perceive her who had 
been "the springtide of his life, fairer than ever at this 
moment . . . her mouth, her brow, everj- feature was so 
full of charm that Marc wa^ fascinated, and, seized with 
longing, would fain on that face have pressed a kiss. ... A 
wreath of clover was woven in her unbound locks. . . . 
When he saw that the sun overhead let fall through the 
crevice a ray of light on Iseult's face, he feared lest her 
hue should suffer. He took grass and flowers and foliage 
with which he closed the aperture, then blessing the lady, 
he commended her to God, and departed weeping." ' 

Once more the lovers arc separated, this time for ever. 
Years pass ; Tristan has made himself famous by his 
exploits. He is without news of his love, doubtless for- 
gotten. He marries another Iseult, and lives with her tiear 
Penniarch in Brittany. Wounded to death in a fight, he 
might be cured by the queen of Cornwall, and in spite of 
his marriage, and the time that has elapsed, he sends her 
word to leave all and join him. If Iseult comc.«. the .ship 
is to have a white sail ; if she refuses, a bUck one. Iseult 
still loves At the first word .she puts to sea ; but storms 
arise, then follows a dead calm ; Tristan feels life ebb from 
him with hope. At last the vesael appears, and Tristan's 
wife sees it from the shore with its white sail She had 
o%-erheard Tristan's message ; she returns, licii, and 
announces the arrival of a black sail. Tristan tears the 
bandage from his wound and dies. When the true Iseult 
lands, the knell is tolling from the steeples of Brittany ; 

* Swinbame, " Triiiimm of Lyoncnc uid olhei poemL*' 
■ Bown, pp. 62, 68, 73. 82. 


she rushes in, finds her Im-er's corpse already cold, and 
expires beside him. They were buried in the same church 
at Carhaix, one at each end; out of one of the tombs 
grew a vine, and out of the other grew a rose, and the 
branches, creeping along the pillars, interlaced under the 
vaulted root The magic draught thus proved stronger 
than death. 

In the ancient epic poems, love was nothing, here it is 
everything ; and woman, who had no part, now play.s the 
first ; warlike feats arc henceforth only a means to win her 
heart Grass has grown over the bloody vale of Roncevaux, 
which is now enamelled with flowers ; Roland's love, 
Durandal. has ascended to heaven, and will return no 
more. The new poets are the exact antithesis of the 
former ones. Religion, virtue, country, now count for 
nothing ; lovx defies, nay more, replaces them. Marc's 
friends, who warn him, are traitors and felons, vowed to 
scorn and hate, as were formerly Gannelons, who betrayed 
fair France. To be in lave is to be worthy of heaven, 
is to be a saint, and to practise virtue. This theory, putj 
forward in the twelfth century by the singers of the British' 
cycle, has sur%'ivcd, and will be found again in the "Astrfe," 
in liyron, and in Mu.iset. 

These tales muhiply, and their worldly, courteous/ 
amorous character becomes more and more predominant 
Woman already plays the part that she plays in the novels 
of yesterday. A glance opens Paradise to Arthur's 
knights ; they find in a smile all the magic which it 
pleases us. the living of to-day. to discover there. A trite 
word of farewell from the woman they cherish is trans- 
formed by their imagination, and they keep it in their 
heart} as a talisman. Who has not cherialied similar 
talismans? Lancelot recalls the past to queen Guinevere: 
" And you said, God be with you, fair, gentle friend I 
Nc%'er since have these words left my heart. It is these 



words that shall tnaltc mc a preux^ if ever I am one ; for 
never since was I in such great peril but that I remembered 
these words. They have comforted me in all my sorrows ; 
these words have kept and guarded mc from all danger ; 
these words h^ive fed me when hungry and made mc 
wealthy when poor." 

" By my troth," said the queen, " those words were 
happily spoken, and blessed be God wlio cau:sC(l me to 
apeak them. But I did not put into them as much 
as you saw, and to many a knight have I spoken the 
same without thinking of more than what they plainly 
bear." > 

After being a saint, the beloved object becomes a 
goddess ; her wishes are decrees, her mysterious caprices 
are laws which must not even be questioned ; harder rules 
of love are from year to year imposed on the heroes ; they 
are expected to turn pale at the sight of their mistress Y 
Lancelot espying a hair of Guinevere well-nigh faints; they 
observe the thirty-one r^ulations laid down by Andr^ le 
Chapclain, to guide the perfect loveM After having been 

■ "Et voiu Unites, «lei * Oitnt, hMU denix wnti. Ne oncqum puu du 
jffeut ne mc pot isut \ <x Fvl li ihok itui preudomnie mc fci* si j« )«nuix le 
•dJi; cm onc<tu» puii nc fus i ti licaui mdchier t]tti de ce mut nc me 
sourcnisi ; dit nioc me coiiToric en toua nirt anuyt; cili mcM m'n tounjuara 
ganiRii rt pinl^ dc lout i^frili ; cili rnoi: m'a uioiil^ en lAUles (net fiimt ; cUx 
mill mc fnii riche en toutes inn pouret^i. I'ar foi kit bt royne dli iiioa ful 
de bonne licijie dil, et bvnoiBsoil dieux tiiii dire le mc finl. Mais je ce le pria 
f«)i » tux'ilCH coniiricr tous fcislci. A olBinc chevalier ['ay Jc illt \k uu oiiojueA 
jc D'y pcnkay fori du dire leiilcmcni." A1S. li. iiS in Ihc Ntitiomil Lihraiy, 
fam, fo]. 319; burlcenih ceniury. The hJMury of Lanccbt wtu toM in 
wne and proie in slmnsi alt ihc 1nn|tuaK«i of Europe, from the twelfth 
ccntuty. One of the oldc»t vemon» (iwclfih eenfury^ w»* tlio work of aa 
AjiKlii-Nuiiimn. Tiic moti Ibbiou* of the L«ncclo( pocnu i* the " Conie de 
I«Ch»ii«le." by Chtcwien dc Tioye», written beiwecn 1164 wid 1 171 (G. 
Puu. " Romania." vol. lii. p. 463]. 

■ *'Oiun» conniievit atnant in ro«in»ntu upccto pallescett," Jie. RuIm 
tujipoiicd to have been diKovcr^d by a knight at Ihc coiiit of Atlhuf. And 
tranicHbed in ihc " Flm Aniori%," or " Dc Arte honolc aniandi," uf Auditf 
le Chapelain, tbiricenih ceniiiry ; " Komania," vol. xii. i». 53a- 


first an acoe^uory, then an irresistible passion, love, that the 
poets think to magnify, will soon be nothing but a cere- 
monial. From the time of Lancelot we border on folly ; 
military honour no longer counts for the hero; Guinevere 
out of caprice orders Lancelot to behave "his worst "j 
without hesitating or comprehending he obeys, and- covers 
himself with shame. Each successive romance writer goes 
a step farther, and makes new additions ; we come to 
immense compositions, to strings of advcnture.s without 
any visible link ; to heroes so uniformly wonderful that 
they cease to inspire any interest whatc\'er. Tristan's 
rosc-biish twined itself around the pillars, the pillars are 
lacking now, and the clusters of flowers trail on the 
ground. Tristan was a harbinger of Mu5sct ; Guinevere 
gives us a desire for a Cervantes. 

Meanwhile, the minstrels of the twelfth and thirteenth 
centuries enjoy their success and their fame; their number 
increases ; they arc welcomed in the castles, hearkened 
to in the towns ; their tales are copied in manuscripts, 
more and more magnificently painted. They celebrate, 
in England as in France, Gauvain, *' Ic chevalier aux 
demoiselles," Ivain, " le chevalier au lion " ; Merlin, 
Joseph of Arimathea, I'ercival and the quest of the 
mysterious Graal, and all the rest of the Round Table 


They have also shorter narratives in pro^e and verse, 
the subject of which is generally love, drawn from French, 

' On tlicsc roikancM, «ce, in " IliMmte Lill^aite dc la Prance." voL xxx.* 
■ fMtice by IJuXaa Paris. On ihe MSS. of ihem prM«\'«l in the Uriliith 
HnKum. we W»kI. "Cstaiogue of MS. RomancM," 1SS5 (on McrLn, pp. 
ayS fif. 1 on oihrr fiiophccic*. *"■! r*p«vi«lly ib(M« by Thomaiof Erccldounc, 
p. 31^; ihetr'bhi hnvc been tdiicd by Alois Bmntll, " Thamu of Krcct- 
doane," Bvjlin, iHSo. 8*0, " Sx^itimlunc FinuliMticr Dc-Rkinaln,"and by the 
Euly English T«t Society, 11175). 



Latin, Greek, &nd even Hindu legends,* stories like those 
of Amis and Amilc, of Kloire and Blancheflcur, lays like 
those of Marie dc France." Marie was Norman, and lived 
in the time of llenry II., to whom she dedicated her 
poems. They arc mostly graceful love-talcs, sweetly 
told, without affectation or effort, and derived from Celtic 
originals, some being of Armorican and some of Welsh 
descent Several arc devoled to Tristan and other 
Arthurian knif-hts. In the lay of the Ash, Marie tells 
a storj' of femalL- virtue, the main incidents of which will 
be found again later in the talc of Grtselda. Her lay of 
the Two Lovers would have delighted Musset : 

" Truth is that in Neustria, which we call Normandy," 
lived once a nobleman who had a beautiful daughter ; 
every one asked her in marriajrc, but he always refused. 
so as not to part from her. At last he declared he would 
give hi.s daughter to the man who could carr>- her to the 
top of the mountain. All tried, but all failed. 

A young count falls in luvc with her, and is toved again. 
She sends him to an old aunt of hers, who lives at Salerno, 


' On Irtjcndt uf Hindu origin and for a 1oo|; time wroagly •tuibiil«d lo ths 
Arntu, Kc Gallon I'ftrii, " le L4! dc I'Oiaclci," Puis, 1884. Svu. Sec also ihc 
impottunt wcirk uf M. B<filicr, "In Fxhiiaiix." Pant, 1S9J, 8vo, in which the 
evidence coiii:rrniii|' ihe JCdHern oriprj vi IoIm ii^ carelully lified and reiirictcd 
, within Ihc Ti3rrnv,-r«t limitt : v,.>ry (fW camo fcoin ihe East, not the tnilL of 
Ihcm, M wu g;cncrally n<liniiled. 

' ^'ar Amis. \Kif popular in Enuland, see Knthiii|[, " Ami* *nd Amilmin," 
IkiD'ronn, iSiSi (r/i liclow, p. 3391, and " Nojv«ll» fiiii^x)ii«« en |>r4Me du 
uriiicmc Med«," edited hf Mnland snd d'fl^intult. Ptiris. 1856, i6mi; 
iheie " Nouvclle*" include : " rtni[>creur Conttnnt," "1« Amili^ de Ami et 
Amilc." "k [ui Flute cl b belle Jehnnne," "U Comici^c dc Ponihica," 
■• Auca««in cl Nicnicite " — The Frcnuli ic»l uf " Kluite et tilancHlot " u 10 
ticfnundin Kilctiund du Mrfit, " ['iieniK du Irpuifrnie iiWe," Parts. 1856, 
l6roo. Kot M»tic de France. tc« II.Kucbier, " Hie I.LiiKdc-t MniiEile Frnnof." 
Hnllc, Biblii]llic<:a, Ncimianni':a, 1SS5, 8vq i hei fable* aic in to), ii. of 
** Ponies <Ie Marie dc Fiiinci-."' ed. Roquefml, Purw. 1819. t td)*. Svo. 
See also nc(lier> article in the Rtvtu lUt Dtux Momln. Oct. 15. l^l. 
atio Ihc cbB()tu un Mnrie in llcrvioux, *' Faliulitleti tjitine," 1E83-4, vA 
pait, chap> L. 


and will give him certain potions to increase his strength. 
He docs al! she bids him. On ihc day appointed, provided 
with a draught Co swallow during the trial, he lakes the 
fair maiden in his arms. She had fasted for many days so 
as to weigh less, and had put on an exceedingly light gar- 
ment : " Fixccpl her shift, no other stu flf she wore " ; 

N'ni dtip vMtu (era k ehemiffc 

He climbs half-way, then begins to flag; but he wishes 
to owe everything to his ecicrt:>'. and, wilhout drinking, 
slowly continues to ascend, lie reaches the top and falls 
dead. The young girl Bings away the now useless flask, 
which break:* ; and since then the mountain herbs 
moistened by the potion have wondprful healing powers. 
She looks at her lover and dies, like the Simonnc of 
Koccaccio and of Miisset. They were buried on the 
mountain, where has since been built "the priory of the 
Two I.»vers." 

The rulers of England delight in still shorter poems, but 
again on the same subject : love. Like the rest of the 
French, ihcy have an innate fondness for a kind of 
literature unknown to their new compatriots : namely, 
chansons. They composed a great number of them, and 
listened to many more of all sorts. The subjects of the 
kings of England became familiar with every variety of 
the kind ; for the Angevin princes now possessed such wide 
domains that the sources of French poetry, poctr)' of the 
North. poctr>' of the South, lyrical poetry of Poictou and of 
Maine, gushed forth in the ver>* heart of their empire," 

Their F,ng! .subject.i got acquainted with these poems 
in two ways: firstly, because many of those songs were 
sung in the island ; secondly, because many F.nglish- 

• Ob ihU wbjeei. «c GiLstim rurix's crilkism of ihe "Ortfrtnes d« la poisie 
lyriqnc tn Vmat " of Jcanr.:.y, in ih< "Journal Asa Savuiti," iKga. 



men, soldiers, clerks, minstrels, messengers, followed the 
king and stayed with him in the parts where the main 
wells and fountains of the French eltanson happened to be,' 
They became thus familiarised with the "reverdies," May 
songs, which celebrate springtime, flowers, and free loves ; 
"carols," or dancing songs ; " pastourellcs," the wise or 
foolish heroines of which are shepherdessctt ; "disputoi'ionf*' 
or debate*, to which kind belongs the well-known song of 
"transformations" introduced by Mistral in his"Mircio." 
and set to music by Gounod; " aubc " songs, telling the 
complaint of lovers, parted hy dawn, and in which, long 
before Shakespeare, the Juliets of the time of Henry II, 
said to their Komcos : 

It Is HOC 7ct near day ; 

It wu tbc nii;hiin£ale and not the Inrk. 

II n'MC mic jon, uvcioiuc nn coit gcni. 
Si m'ait amoK, ra,loclc hor mcnt.' 

" It is not yet near day, my sweet one ; love be my help, 
the lark lies." In these songs, the women are slight and 

* One fuel among inntiy lihowi how cortMani wat ihc Inicfcourse on ilie 
Coniinmt l>«mrm Ftrnctimcn of Fnncc and Englishmen living or IRVctliog 
thciv, namely, Ihe knowledge of Iht' linglith liTL£iia{;E shown In the Iwelllh 
and ihiilccnlh centvric* by the autli»r« ii\ Mvctal timiicliCB of ihc " Honmn de 
Rcnari," anil the uiicaluiea tlicy drew ol Ei^lith |>ci^|ilc, which wuutj have 
nmuuKt nobody if the nriginals of the pictom had not been familial to all. 
(Sec Bianchet Panil XIV. in Muitui't edition.) 

■ Jcanroy, " Oiigines d« la pn^ie lytiijuc en France, au moyen ^e," E^uu, 
1889, 8vu, p. 68- An Klluuon in a c>u»dc song of the twelfth ccntuiy shows 
that this MtVt/wv iLl(»cly [Kipulai th«n. Tl U found al«o in miich older poetry 
anil mnic icmolc o(iuntri». for Jeaiiray qvotet a Chinese piieDn. written be'cMe 
Ihe icvt-iiih ceiilury of (jii( em, wheT«, it \\ Inie, a niere cucIl nnd mere Aim 
pUy ilic |iatl uflhe Vcioiia lark And nightingale: " It w-ik not ihc cock, it wit 
Ihc hum vf flics," 01 in llic Latin trut^lalion o\ Fnthei Lnchannc: " Fallar, 
tion canravii sallui, sed muicatum fuii Mrcpiiui." i^iV., p. 70. 

On rAuiiKini wiitien in Ftench liy Anglu-Nomiaru, tee " MelangeidepoMi 
.inglonormnnde," by P. Meyer, in " Komania." vol, iv. p. J70, and "L«« 
Uanuierii« Frin^Aii de Cambridge," by the aatne, Hid., vol. av. 


lithe ; they arc more gentle than doves ; their faces are all 
pink and white : " If the flowers of the hawthorn were 
united to the rose, not more delicate would be their colour 
than that on my lady's clear face." 

.Si l«s dun d(d] alliecpjtic 
Fuinenl \ roses aaii, 
N'cfi rvrttni colat pttis bnc 
Kg nW ou danw au cin vU.* 

With these songs, Love ventures out of castles ; we find 
him "in cellars, nr in lofts under the ha)'."" He stenU 
even into churches, and a sermon that h,is come down to 
UB, preached in England in the thirteenth century, has for 
text, instead of a verse of Scripture, a verse of a French 
song : ■' Fair Alice rose at mom, clothed and adorned her 
body ; an orchard she went in, five flowers there she found. 
a wreath she made with them of blonining roses ; for God's 
sake, get you gone, you who do not love ! " and with meek 
gravity the preacher gtjcs on : Belle Alice is or might be 
the Virgin Mary ; " what arc those flowers," if not " faith, 
hope, charity, virginity, humility ? " 3 The idea of turning 
worldly songs and music to religious ends is not, as wc sec, 
one of yesterday. 

' AnfiloNoiRifin song, wiitlcn in ICngliund, In Iht ibJrtecnth centuiy, 
" Romania,'' vut. xv. |i. 254- 

* " La Plninif d'amout." Iiom * MS. in the Unlvenily Library, CiiiiUrid|;c, 
GO I. 1, " Komaiua/' i^id. 

' B«le Alii tnttin Iet-4, 

Suo con vuti c i>iira. 
Em im ^ccgcf iVnira, 
CJnk fiiiietic* y Iruva. 
Un clinpel«t fct en % 

Dc ru*c fliiiic i 
Vuf Dcu, tinhci vu( en lit 

Vti!k ki no HTMZ mie. 

The Icil of the icntiun. as wc huvc il U in Latin : il ha« lone but wrongly 
Iwen aiulbuied to Siepben l^ni'to-n : pnnteJ liy T. Wright id hU " 6ii>tra)ihw 
Briunnm, Anj^lo-N'otmnn perind, " 1846, p. 446. 





Tristan has led us very far rrotn Beowulf, and fair Alice 
leads us still farther from tho mariner and exile of Anglo- 
Saxon literature To sum up in a word which will show 
the diflcrence between the first and second period : on the 
lips of the conquerors of Hastings, odes have become 


~^ V. 

Nothing comes so near ridicule as extreme sentiments, 
and no men had the sense of the ridiculous to a higher 
degree than the nciv rulers of the English country. At 
the same time with their chivalrous literature, ihcy had a 
mocking one. They did not wait for Cervantes to begin 
laughing; these variable and many-sided beings sneered 
at high-flown sentiments and experienced them toa 
They sang the Song of Roland, and read with delight 
a romance in which the great emperor is represented 
strutting about before his barons, his crown on his head 
and his sword in his hand, asking the queen if he is not Ihe 
most admirable prince in the world.' To his surprise, the 
queen says no, there is a better, there is King liugon, 
emperor of Greece and of Constantinople. Charlemagne 
wishes to verify on the spot, and pledges his word that he 
will cut the queen's head off if she has not spoken truth. 
He mounts a donkey ; the twelve peers follow his example, 
and in this fashion the flower of French chivalry takes its 
wa)f to the East. 

At Constantinople, the city of marvels, which had not 
yet become the city of mosques, but was still enriched by 
the spoils of Athens and Komc. where St. Sophia shone 
with all the glory of its mosaics intact, where the palace of 
the emperors dazzled the sight with its gold and its statues, 

' "he McrinoEc dc Charlemagne, '■ dfTcnlb cenlury. Only one MS. haj 
been prcirtreil, wriitcii in tiiulaiid. in the ibiiliri'Dili ccniucy ; ii han been 
•ditc'l by KcKchu-itx, " KatU <lev Urmi«n Kcim nach JeruuUem dnd Kon- 
Manlinopel," l^dlbrona, tSHo, 8vo. Cf. (>. Parit, " £jt po&ie (ranfuicad 
IDoycii OEc.'' iStIS, V- 1 19, onfl '* Komonia," v&|. ix. 


the French princes could scarcely believe their eyes. At 
every step ihcy were startled by some fresh wonder ; here 
bronze children blowing horns ; there a revolving hall set 
in motion by the sca-brcczc; elsewhere a carbuncle which 
illuminated apartments at night. The queen might 
possibly have spoken truth. Kvenitig draws on, they 
drink deep, and, excited by thctr potations, indulge \r\snbt, 
or boasts, that are overheard by a spy, and carefully noted. 
O^ier the Dane will uproot the pillar which supports the 
whole palace; Aimer will make himself invisible and 
knock the emperor's head on the table; Roland will 
sound his horn so loudly that the gates of the town will be 
forced open. Threatened and insulted by his guests, 
Hugon declares they shall either accomplish their gahs or 
pay for their lies with their heads. 

This is too much, and the author changes his tone. Will 
God permit the confusion of the emperor of the Franks, 
however well deserved it be ? "Vivat qui Francos diligit 
Christus 1 " was already written in the Salic law : Christ 
continues to love the Franks. He takes their cause into His 
own hands, not because of their deserts but because they 
arc Franks, By a miracle, one after another, the gahs arc 
realised ; Hugon acknowledges the superiurity of Charles, 
who returns to France, enriches St. Denis with incompar- 
able relics, and forgives the queen. This poem is exactly 
contemporaneous vviih the Song of Roland. 

But there is better still, and the comedy is much more 
general in the famous "Roman de Ren art." ' This 

■ " Le Roman de Renarl," ed. E. Mftrlin, Slcasbourg, i8Ki~7, 4 vnlt. Si-p ; 
contains : vol. i., ihc gid >ctiei oi branches i vol, Ji., the ndiliiitinal Wnche*; 
voL iii.. vartanu; vnt. iv., iioi« in>l tables. Moit al the branchei were 
CvinpMcd in Noraumdy, Ik-de-Frin^r, fiRardr ; ihr iweirih i» tfa« work o( 
Richard d« Liton, 1 Nonnan, end u( (he Iwelflh CEntury ; ic\'ml, for eomple 
the fiwrtMnlb, evioce on 1 he part or th«ir author n kaowle(l|;e oj the Lngltib 
lodguaadiaaiuitn. Concerning the iouri.'c»orLhc''Ituniaii," see Sudie," I.n 
Source* dn Romm dc Renin," Patii, 1892, Sto. 



romance, of which the branches are of various cpoclis and 
by various authors, was composed partly in the conti- 
nental estates of the kings of Kngland, partly in the 
France of French kings. It was built up, part aficr part, 
during several centuries, beginning with the twelfth: 
built like a cathedral, each author adding a wing, a lower, 
a belfry, a steeple; without caring, most of the time, to 
make known his name ; so that the poem has come 
down to us, like the poc:ii« in stone of the architects, 
almost anonymously, the work of every one, an expression 
and outcome of the popular mind. 

For many Frenchmen of ancient France, a chanson was 
a sufficient revenge, or at least served as a temporary one. 
So much pleasure was taken in it, that by such means the 
tyranny of the ruler was foi^ottcn. On more than one 
occasion where in other countries a riot would have been 
unavoidable, in France a song has sufficed ; discontent, thus 
attenuated, no longer rose to fury. More than one 
jacquerie has been delayed, if not averted, by the '* Roman 
de Kenart." 

In this ample comedy everybody has a part to perform ; 
everybody and everything is in turn laughed at: the king, 
the nobles, the citizens, the Pope, the pilgrims, the monks, 
every belief and every custom,' religion, and justice, the 
powerful, the rich, the hypocrites, the simple-minded ; and, 
sc that nothing shall be wanting, the author scofTs at 
himself and his caste ; he knows its failings, points 
them out and laughs at them. The tone is heroi-comical : 
for the jest to take effect, the contrast muitt be clearly 
visible, and we should keep in view the importance of 
principles add the majesty of kings; 

■ Coficuuic of a fuRciAl ceremony : — 

Giun It on, picna vatUc cttok • ■ * 

Sire Tarilis l> limn^oni) 

Lul jwf lu) wl les Uoii lefons , 

El Ro«n«t chant* l«s v«n. (Vol. t. p. tl.) 


"Lordiiii^s, you have heard many a tale, related by many 
a talc-tclicr. how Pan's ravished Helen, the trouble it 
brought him, and the sorrow ! . . , also geats and fabliaux ; 
but never did you hear of the war — such a hard one it 
was, and of such great import — between Rcnard and 
Ysengrin.' * 

The personages are animals ; their sentiments are 
human; king lion swears like a man » ; but the way in 
which they sit, or stand, or move, is that of their species. 
Every motion of theirs is observed with that correctness 
of eye which is always found in early times among animal 
painters, long before painters of the human figure rise to 
the same excellence. There are perfect descriptions of 
Ysengrin, who feels very foolish after a rebuke of the 
king's, and "sits with his tail between his legs"; of the 
cock, monarch of the barn-yard ; of Tybcrt the cat ; of 
Tardif the slug; of Espinar the hedgehog; of Bruin the 
bear ; of Roonel the masliflf; of Couard the hare ; of Noble 
the lion. The arrival of a procession of hens at Court u 
an excellent scene of comedy. 

" Sir Chanteclair, the cock, and Pinte, who lays the big 
eggs, and Noire, and Blanche, and la Koussette, were 
dragging a cart with drawn curtains. A hen lay in it 
prostrate . . . Renard had so maltreated her, and so 

' SdgneuTS, ol avei mainc cont« 
Qar maint conicrte vnux nicnnte, 
Conment Vatii tavi Eteine, 
\je mil i|u'il en ot «t ta |>Bine . ■ . 
Et fsliliauh, ctutEUuii!! (!(.' gcsic 
Mtut cin(|iiK n'oKlK la giivirv, 
Qni Uni fu dure ci ilt: granl 6d 
Enba Ronait el V»cngiin. 

(I'fologue of Htuicb II.) 



pulled her about with his teeth, that her thigh was broken, 
and a wing torn olT her side."* 

Pmtc, moved to tears and ready to faint, like Esther 
before Ahasucrus, tells the king her woes. She had five 
brothers, Renard has devoured evcrj' one ; she had five 
sisters, but "only one has Renard spared; all the rest 
have passed through his jaws. And you, who lie there 
on your bier, my sweet sister, my dear friend, how plump 
and tender you were ! What will become of your poor 
unfortunate sister?"" She is very near adding in 
Racine's words : " Mes filles,soutcnezvotre rcine ^perdue I " 
Anyhow, she faints. 

"The unfortunate Pintc thereupon fainted and fell on 
the pavement ; and so did the others, all at once. To 
assist the four ladies all jumped from their stools, dog and 
wolf and other beasts, and threw water on their brows,"3 

* . . . Sire Chuilider ti tax. 

El Pitiie <iui poni io uei gtoi 
Et Koitc ct Btunche el U Ro«ut« 
Amenaieiil une ctiaielc 
Qui rnvouxc crC il'ucie cortilMi 
Dedeni gisuil une gi^line 

Fmc anUMi rnn une b^re. 

B«naci I'kvmi \\ mBunicnfe 

Mi xa Aiwt v, desonlenec 

(Jue U cuiisc \\ ivoii ffcte 

El uni vlv liort del con irat«. (Vol. i p. 9^) 

* . . . Rennrt ne I'en kisn 
D( lot» ann c|iie uiir aoul« ( 
Tom pwiireni pu *a goule* 
Et Tos qui 1& gisec m b^, 
M« dooce suer m'lunle chire, 
Con VM «t(ie«i tendre ct ciun t 
Que fcra vQ^irc met lalaMc? (VoL i. p. I(x) 

) Pintc in loMc a en vudcs 
Chal. (um^ et revcm«n( 
Et lei nuttcc lot en*cnienl. 
Pot relc*-er Ics quntre damei, 
Se levtienl dc Icucs CMBraes 


The king is quite upset by so moving a sight : " His 
head out of anger he shakes ; never was so bold a beast, a 
bear be it or a boar, who docs not fear when their lord 
sighs and howls. So much afraid was Coiiard the hare 
that for two days he had the fever; all the Court shakes 
tf^cthcr, the boldest for dread tremble, lie, in his wrath, 
raises his tail, and is moved with such pangs that the 
roar fills the house ; and then this was his speech : ' Lady 
Pintc." the emperor said, ' upon my father's soul' " ' . . . 

Hereupon follows a solemn promise, couched in, the 
most impressive words, that the traitor shall be punished ; 
which will make all the more noticeable the utter defeat 
which verbose royalty soon afterward suffers. Rcnard 
worsts the king's messengers ; Bruin the bear has his nose 
torn off; Tybert the cat loses half his tail; Renard jeers 
at them, at the king, and at the Court. And all through 
the story he triumphs over Ysengrin, as Panurge over 
Dindenault, Scapin over G eront e. and Figaro over Bridoi- 
sorL Rcnard is the first of the family; he is such a 
natural and spontaneous creation of the French mind that 
we 5CC him reappear from century to ccntur>', the same 
character under different names. 

El chen et lau et «iilm b«9tc», 
Eve loi gctent tor ks ic&i«. 

■ Par m-".utaUnI iIikc la il-«I& 
One n't ni ri hardls be>te, 
Oi M HUiglor, que poor n'et 
Qnuic lor are xnfntc ci ItcL 
Tel poor at Cous 11 Itvm 
Que il en oi deiis jan Im ftviM. 
Toic la con ftemid cfiwmWe, 
Li plii» hnriliB de pcor ircmUe. 
Far maulolcnt sa couv dicce, 
Si K (leljiil leir tcl Omkcw 
Que tot en v}n« La inMon, 
Et puU fu Icic is. ttiiart- 
Damc I'inte, fct reitip<ipir, 
Foi que ilvl It I'uiic nion pete. , . . 



One last point to be noted Ls the impression of open air 
given by nearly all the branches of thU romance, in spite 
of the brevity of the descriptions. We are in the fields, 
by the hedges, following the roads and the footpaths ; the 
moors are covered with heather ; the rocVs are crowned by 
oaken copse, the roads are lined with hawthorn, cabbages 
display in the gardens the hca\y mass of tlieir clustering 
leaves. We see with regret the moment when " the sweet 
time of summer declines." Winter draws near, a north 
wind blows over the paths leading to the SL-a. Kenard 
"dcdcnz sa tour" of Mauperluis lights a great wood fire, 
and, while his little ones jump for joy, grills slices of eels 
on the embers. 

Rcnard was popular throughout Europe. In England 
parts o\ the romance were translated or imitated ; superb 
manuscripts were illustrated for the libraries of the 
nobles, the incidents of this epic were represented in 
tapestry, sculptured on church stalls, painted on the 
margins of English missals. At the Renaissance Caxton, 
with his Westminster presses, printed a Rcnard in 

Above, below, around these greater warks, swarms the 
innumerable legion ot satirical fabliaux and laughable tales. 
They, too, cross the sea, slight, imperceptible, wandering. 

■ Exampl«s of Kutpturcs in ihe %\»M» of (lie cadicdnU al ClouccBiet. St> 
DftvidV, iVr. ; a\ niinkturcs, MS. lo E ir. in thr Dritbh Miisciiin (Fngllih 
drawing! of ihc bcgiiiniiiE ol ilic ftmrieaiili tviiluiy. "ne of Ihcni reprcxliiccd 
in " English Wayfaring Life," p. 309) ; of manuBcnpis : MS. fr, 13, 58^ in the 
NationAl [jbcary, I'om, " C»l livte cut ik Elumfrcy <luc de r.liiiiccMci, fiber 
lupi el vulpt«" ; of a (rannUtion in EDgluliof fori ol the romance : " 01 the 
Vox atiJ ihc Wolf" (time i>i Edwanl 1.. in W'liahi'i *' Seleciion nf l^iin 
Sioriet," Pctcj- -Snciciy: nee below, pp. 138 if.). Canton i».ue<l in 1481 
" Thplorye of Reyimtd ihc Fo»e," (cprinled liy Tlinnis, pMcy Si>cl*ly, 1844. 
Svft. The MS. in the Nalional Lihraiy, mainly folluwtJ by Mjtrlin in hU 
cditiou. utTen "a »uil vf Riixluie uf Itiu Nurtnun aiiii Pickrtl dulccis. The 
voncU gcnimlly pmcni Normal) if not Angto-NonDaa cbaraclerbUu.'* 
" Romaii (Ic Keniut," vol. i. (1. 3. 


thus continuing thane migrations so difficult to trace, the 
laws of which learned men ol all nations have vainly 
sought to discover. They follow all roads; nothing stops 
them. Pass the mountiins and you will find them ; crow 
the sea and they have preceded you ; they spring from 
the earth ; they fall from heaven ; the breeze bears thcin 
along like pollen, and they go to bloom on other stems in 
unknown lands, producing thorny or poisonous or pcifumcd 
Sowers, and flowers of every hue; All those varieties of 
flowers are sometimes found clustered in unexpected 
places, on wild mountain sides, along lonely paths, on 
the moors of Brittan)' or Scotland, in royal parks and in 
convent gardens. At the beginning of the seventh century 
the great Pope St. Gregor)' introduces into his works a 
number of" Excmpla," saying: " Some are more incited to 
the love of the celestial country by stories— exempla— than 
by sermons;" ' and in the gardens of monasteries, after his 
day, more and more miscellaneous grow the blossoms. 
They are gathered and preserved as though in herbals, 
collections arc made of them, from which preachers borrow ; 
talcs of miracles are mixed with others of a leaa edifying 

Stop before the house of this anchoress, secluded from 
the world, and absorbed in pious meditations, a holy and 
quiet place. An old woman sits under the window ; the 
anchoress appears and a conversation begins. Let us 
listen ; it is a long time since both women have been 
listened to. What is the subject of their talk? The old 
woman brings ncw.s of the outer world, relates stories, 
ctirious incidents of married and unmarried life, talcs of 
wicked wives and wronged husbands. The recluse laughs : 
OS in risus cachinnosque dissolvitur " ; in a word, the old 

W 'It, ^I'lgM't 

' PMTologU," vol. Iixvy. col. 153. " DMlc^anam libet t." ; 



woman amuses the anchoress with fabliaux In an embr>-onic 
state. This is a most remarkable though little known 
example, for we can here observe fabliaux in a rudimentary 
stage, and going about in one more, and that a rather 
unexpected way. Is the case of this anchoress a unique 
one? Nut at ail ; there was scarcely any recluse at that 
day, "vise aliquam inclusarum hujus temporis," without a 
friendly old woman to sit before her window and tell her 
such tales: of which testifies, in the twelfth century, 
Aelrcd, abbot of Ricvaulx.' 

From the thirteenth century, another medium of dif7u> 
sion, a conspicuous and well-known one, \s added to the 
others : not only minstrels, but wandering friars now carry 
talcs to all countries ; it is one of the ways they count on 
for securing a welcome. Their sermon:: raise a laut;;h, the 
success of their fubles encourages their rivals to imitate 
them ; the Councils vainly interfere, and reiterate, until 
after the Renaissance, the prohibition " to provoke shouts 
of laughter, aflcr the fashion of shameless buffoons, by 
ridiculous stories and old wives' tales."" Dante had also 
protested, and Wyclif likewise, without more success tlian 
the Councils. " Thus," said Dante, " the ignorant sheep 
come home from pasture, wind-fed . . . Jests and buf- 
fooneries arc preached. ... St. Anthony's swine fattens 
by these means, and others, worse than swine, fatten too." 3 
But collections succeeded to collections, and room was 
found in them for many a scandalous talc, for thai of the 
Wcepins: Bitch, fur example, one of the most travelled of 

• " De viu eremiu'cii,'' in Mignr'! " PaUoloeia," sol- Xixii. col. 1451, text 
bdow. p. 313. 

* CnuQcil o Seiu, I Ji8, in "The ExtmpU. or illuitratire Sto«i«t Erom the 
Sennonca Viil|[arcs at Jnccjucs d« Viiry,'' cd. T. F. Oftnc, Luoiloii, 189O1 
8*0, |i. Ixi». The collccliun of sermons with txtmpta, coinpUni tf Jaci^uci 
de Viii> (>>oin nix 1180, d. nk 11391, 'v ■><■" of tlie mMt popiilai, and b 
one of ilie roott curioiu uf ici kind. 

I Si die le pecotelle, chi? o«n i»nno, 

Tornan dal potco paictuic Ji vcnto , . > 


all, as it came from India, and is found everywhere, in 
Italy, France, and Knjjiand, among fabliaux, in sermons, 
and even on the stage,' 

The French who were now living in England in large 
numbers, introduced there the taste for merry tales of 
trickery and funny adventures, stories of curious mishaps 
of all kinds; of jealous husbands, duped, beaten, and withal 
perfectly content, and of fit wives for such husbands. It 
already pleased their leasing, mocking minds, fond of 
generalisations, to make themselves out a vicious race, 
without faith, truth, or honour : it ever was a gab of theirs. 
The more one protests, the more they insist ; they adduce 
proofs and instances ; they arc convinced and finally con- 
vince others. In our age of systems, tliis magnifying of 
the abject side of things has been termed '* realism " ; for 
so-called " realism " is nothing more. True it is that if the 
home of tales is " not where they are born, but where they 
are comfortable," ' France was a home for them. They 
reached there the height of their prosperity; the turn of 
mind of which they are the outcome has by no means 
disappeared ; even to-day it is everywhere found, in the 
public squares, in the streets, in the newspapers, theatres, 
and novels. And it serves, as it did formerly, to make 

On A TB con moitl. « con iKcde 
A piodli^re. . . . 

DI qu«*to inifruu tl poroo Soni' Anionio, 
Ed ftlcri isvti, che ton peggio che pora. 
PagKndo di moneta teiua conio. 

1" Pandiio," ouito kxis.) 

' To be foorKl, t^., in jACquct de Viiry, ibid. p. 105 : " Audivi Jc quidtm 
vetnU que non itnterat iniluccrc quandam niatmnani m juvcni contcniiret." 
ftc. See below, pp. iij, mJ 447> 

■ BMJM. "Ijti Fftbliftux," Paris. 1893. 8vo, p. Z41 ; BMier's definition of 
lli« MHic Utu rolla<«a : " l.c« fablimux lont del conlet a riie, en v«r*," p. 6, 
Tbe ptindpoi Ficnch ooUeclioiu aie : fkibaaiu ntid Mcon, " Fnliliaux >t 
conm des poctci fraii;au," Pwls, 1806, 4 vuls, 8»o ; Moniaialon and 
Rayniud, ■•Rccucil g<nttal e( complct At* Fabliam," Paris, 1873-90, 
6 Tola. Itro. 



wholesale condemnatiuns easy, very easy to judges who 
may be dazzled by this jugglery of the French mind, who 
look only at the goods exhibited before their eyes, and 
who scrapie the less to pass a sentence as they have to 
deal with a culprit who confesses. But judge and culprit 
both forget that, next lo the realism of the fabliaux, there 
is the realism of the Song of Roland, not less real, perhaps 
more so ; for France has lived by her Song of Rntand 
much more than by her merry tales, thai song which 
was sung in many ways and for many centuries, i Du 
Guesclin and Corneille both &ang it, each one after his 

On the same table may be found " \ja Terre," and 
"Grandeur ct Servitude." In the same hall, the same 
minstrel, representing in his own person the whole library 
of the castle, used formerly to relate the shameful tale of 
Gombcrt and the two clerks, juggle with knives, and sing 
of Roland. "I know tales," says one, " I know fabliau.\, 
I can tell Bnc new dits. ... 1 know the fabliau of the 
'Denier' . . . and that of Gombcrt and dame Erme. . . . 
I know how to play with knives, and with the cord and 
with the sling, and every fine yame in the world. I can 
sing at will of King Pepin of St. Deni.s ... of Charlemagne 
and of Roland, and of Oliver, who fought so well ; I know 
of Ogier and of Aymon." * 

All this hterature went over the Channel with the 
conquerors. Roland came to England, so did Renard, 
so did Gombert. They contributed to transform the 
mind of the vanquished race, and the vanquished race 
contributed to transform the descendants of the victors. 

* Gc mi cvDlci, %^ ui fablirai, 
Cc Mti canui bnx dU nvvtax, &c. 

"Dei deux bordr«rBnb«iii,''in Momaiglon and Rayn&ud, "Recueil gfR^ial," 
vol. i. p. It. 

The tie* with France were close ones; those with Rome 
were no Isiss so. William had come to England, potilically 
as the heir of the Anglo-Saxon kings, and with r^ard to 
ecclesiastical affairs as the Pope's chosen, blessed by the 
head of Christianity. In both rcftpccts, notwithstanding 
storms and struggles, the tradition thus started was con- 
tinued under his successors. 

At no period of the history of England was the union 
with Rome closer.and at no lime, not even in the Augustan 
Age of English literature was there a latter infusion of 
latin ideas. The final consequence of Henry II.'s quarrel 
with Thomas Bcckci was a still more complete submission 
of this prince to the Roman Sec. John Lackland'^ fruitless 
attempts to reach absolute power resulted in the gift of his 
domains to St Peter and the oath of fealty sworn by him 
as vassal of the I'opc : " Wc, John, by the grace of God, 
king of England, lord of Ireland, duke of Normandy, 
earl of Anjou, . . . Wishing to humiliate ourselves for 
Him who humiliated Himself for us even unto death . . . 
freely offer and concede to God and to our lord Pt^e 
Innocent and his Catholic successors, all the kingdom of 




England and all the kingdom of Ireland for the remis- 
sion of our sins,"' May 15, 121 j. 

From the day after Hastings the Church is seen estab- 
lishing herself on firm basis in the country ; she receives 
as many, and even more domains than the companions of 
the Conqueror. In the county of Dorset, for instance, it 
appears from Domesday that " the Church with her vassals 
and dependents enjoyed more than a third of the whole 
county, and that her patrimony was greater than that of 
all the Barons and greater feudalists combined."* 

The religious foundations are innumerable, especially at 
the beginning; they decrease as the time of the Renais- 
sance draws nea rer. Four hundred and eighteen are 
counted from William Rufus to John, a period of one 
hundred years; one hundred and thirty-nine during the 
three following reigns : a hundred and eight years ; twenty- 
three in the fourteenth century, and only three in the 

This number of monasteries necessitated considerable 
intercourse with Rome; many of the monks, often the 
abbots, were Italian or French ; they had suits in the 
court of Rome, they laid before the Pope at Rome, and 
later at Avignon, their spiritual and temporal difficulties; 
the most important abbeys were " exempt," that is to say, 
under the direct jurisdiction ol the Pope without passing 

'^ " Vuleolo nut \ymi, humiliiuc pro Illc Qui Sc pio aabia kuuiiliifit u»que 
ad mortem . . . olTcrimus c[ libric cnnccdimus Dvo cl . . . domino nosiro 
papx IniiiHmUu ejUMiui; olhuticii nucctiuotibiii, Catum trt;nun) Anglue et 
tatum icgnum llibcrnix, cum omni )ure et periin«nilis tulii, pro reniisaione 
peccatonim nostrorum." Hctfiipoii f»lli>wh Ihi- |]|c><ge lo p«y foi ev<f lo ihe 
Itoly Sec "milk rnnicas Mcrlingoiuni," uid then the (w.ih of fcoliy lo ihc 
Pope lu nucnun of EngLind. SiuIiIb, " Ijelecl Ch«rlcr>," Oxfiitil, 1S76, JtH 
ed.. pp. ti\ II. 

■ R. W. Eyion, ** A key lo DoRicsday, ihowitig ilw Method nnd Exuiitude 
tif ill Meni^ufntion . . . extmpliSed by . . . the l)ot*et Surrey," London, 
1S78, 4to, p. 156. 

* "llHiofiol iMpt of EneUnd during the lirst ihictecn <entnriet," tqr 
C- H. PtBivon, London, 1S70, fbl. p. fri. 



through the local episcopal authority. This was the 
case with St. Augustine of Canterbury, St Albans, St. 
Edmund's. Waltham. Evesham, Westminster. &c. The 
clergy of England had its eyes constantly turned Rome- 

This clei^ was very numerous ; in the thirteenth 
century its ranks were swelled by the arrival of the mendi- 
cant friars : Franciscans and Dominicans, the latter repre- 
senting more especially doclrine, and the former practice. 
The Domhiicans expound dogmas, fight heresy, and 
furnish the papacy with its Grand Inquisitors ■ ; tha 
Franciscans do charitable works, nurse lepers and wretches 
in the suburbs of the towns. All science that does not 
tend to the practice of charity is forbidden them : "Charles 
the Emperor," said St. Francis, " Roland and Oliver, all 
the paladins and men mighty in battle, have pursued the 
infidels to death, and won their memorable victories at the 
cost of much toil and labour. Tlic holy martyrs died 
fighting for the faith of Christ But there are in our time, 
people who by the mere telling of their deeds, seek honour 
and glory among men. There are also some among you 
who like better to preach on the virtues of the saints than 
to imitate their labours. . . . When thou shall have a 
psalter so shall thou wish for a breviary, and when thou 
Shalt liave a breviary, thou shalt sit in a chair hke n great 
prelate, and say to thy brother : ' Brother, fetch me my 
breviary." "a 

' Concerning Ihdr power uid Ihe p*rt Ihey played, IM Tm ev&mpU The eon- 
fitBiatiun liy ftiifip VI. of Fnncc, in November, 1319. oi iltc [ceula[iun& lub- 
niticxl 10 him by iIiai " reliKiout and honcti pcnnn, friar Henri dc Churtuiy, 
of die onlcc of Preochat, inqubJtor 011 itie crime of hcmy, t«i)i in that 
npacily lo out Vingdom and teiirtlng in Carcauonrie." S«nience« aiuln Dot 
V«Iy men, I'Ut cren hmiws ; ihe king Oidcit : *' Pnmtirtm4nl, i\wA domu*, 
plutcc et lom in qufbu* hRicte* buUc fiieTiini, ilirunntui el nu[ii)V4in pMtn 
tecdificcniur, \tA petpeiuu MibJACCAiii in MfiquilirKjc viliisti," &C. lumbrtl't 
" Kecucil i)ei ancimnw Ij>ii," vol. iv. p. J64. 

' " SpecuUitn vit:v K. t-'mnriori et tociorum ejus," open FntilB C. Spoel- 
betch, Aaiwerp, 1630, Svo, poit i. chap. iv. 



Thirty-two years after their first com ing there were in Eng- 
land twelve hundriKi and forly-two Franciscans, with forty- 
nine convents, divided into seven cusioJies: London, York, 
Cambridge, Bristol, Oxford, Newcastle, Worcester.' "Your 
Holiness must know," writes Robert Gro^seteste, bishop of 
Lincoln, to Pope Gregory I X., " that the friars illuminate the 
whole country by the light of their preaching and teaching. 
Intercourse with these holy men propagates scorn of the 
world and voluntary poverty. . . . Oh ! could your Holi- 
ness aee how piously and humbly the people hasten to 
hear from them the word of life, to confess their sins, and 
Icam the rules of good conduct !..."» Such was the 
beginning ; what followed was far from resembling it. 
The point to be remembered is another tic with Rome, 
represented by these new Orders: even the troubles that 
their disorders gave rise to later, their quarrels with the 
secular clergy, the monks and the University, the constant 
appeals to the Pope that were a result of these disputes, 
the obstinacy with wlijch they endeavoured to form a 
Church within the Church, all tended to increase and 
multiply the relations between Rome and England. 

The English clergy was not only numerous and largely 
endowed; it was also very influential, and played a con- 
siderable part in the policy of the State. When the 
Parliament was constituted the clergy occupied many 
seats, the king's ministers were usually churchmen ; the 
high Chancellor was a prelate. 

The action of the Latin Church made itself also felt on 
the nation by means of ecclesiastical tribunals, the powers 
of which were considerable; all that concerned clerks, or 
related to faith and beliefs, to tithes, to deeds and contracts 
having a moral character, wills for instance, came within 

■ Ukuct nnd Howlcit, *' MunuQicota Frsnciscaiift," Rc4U, 1858-82, 8vo, 
vuL i. p> ro. 

* Ldtorof the you 11 jS ax ihcrcibavt ; " Rnbcni Croiwmi); ICiuUiIib,' 
cd. Liutnl, Roll*, iS&i, p. 179. 



the jurisdiction of the religious magistrate. This justice 
Jnterfereti in the private life of the citizens ; it had an in- 
quisitorial character ; it wanted to know if good order 
reigned in households, if the husband was faithful and the 
wife virtuous ; it cited adulterers to its bar and chastised 
them. Summoncrs (Chaucer's somnours.i played tlie part 
ot spies and public accusers ; they kept themselves well 
informed on thc«e dilTcrcnt matters, were constantly on the 
watch, pried into houses, collected and were supposed to 
verify evil reports, and summoned before the ecclesias- 
tical court those whom Jane's or Gilote's beauty had 
turned from the path of conjugal fidelity. It may be 
readily imagined that «uch an institution afforded full 
scope for abuses ; it could hardly have b^n otherwise 
unless all the Hummoners had been saints, which they 
were not ; some among them were known to compound 
with the guilty for money, to call the innocent before the 
judge in order to gratify personal spite.* Their misdeeds 
were well known but not easy to prove ; so that Chaucer's 
satires did more to ruin the institution than all the petitions 
to Parliament. These summoncrs were also in their own 
way, mean as that was. representatives of the Latin country. 
of the spiritual power of Rome; they knew it, and made 
the best of the stray Latin words that had lodged in their 
memory ; they used them as their shibboleth. 

' A b«ttTC felaw »ho1ile mca noifht findci 
He wulde suffic, for a quart of wjrn, 
A good (ctawr to hifc hit concubjn 
A Iwclf-cnonih >nd cxciue him ilte fuUe. 

PraloKuC of IIm " Ctnierbuty Talcs." The lume of fUiDmonet wu held in 
little csieem, *iid no wonder: 

" Artow Ihanne ■ bailly ? "— " Ve," quod he j 
H» dAme nil (or <rcmy filthc and shunt 
Sc>-e ibnt be wu ■ wmouut for lh< imiiic." 

("Frei«Talc.'"I. SK-l 



Bishops kept seigncurial retinues, built fortresses' and 
lived in them, had their archers and their dogs, hurtcd, 
laid siege to towns, made war, and only had recourse to 
excommunication when all other means of prevailing over 
their foes had failed. Others among them became saints : 
both in heaven and on earth they held the first rank. Like 
the sovereign, they knew, even then, the worth of pubhc 
opinion ; they bought the goodwill of wandering poets, a$ 
that of the press was bought in the day of Defoe. The 
itinerant minstrels were the newspapers of the period ; 
they retailed the news and distributed praise or blame ; 
they acquired over the commun people the same influence 
that "printed matter" has had in more recent times. Hugh 
de Nunant, bishop of Coventry, accuses William de Long- 
champ, bishop ot Ely, and Chancellor of Kngiand, in a 
letter still extant, of having inspired the verses — one might 
almost sAy the articles — that minstrels come from France, 
and paid by him, told in public places, " in platcis." not 
without efTecl, " for already, according to public opinion, 
no one in the universe was comparable to him." * 

Nothing gives so vivid an impression of the time that 
has clupsed, and the transformation in maimers that has 

• They tniilt a gooil tiianjr. Alcianilcr, hKhop of Lincoln, after having 
bcrn 3 palish prinl at Caen, tiril irjccl Iuk linnd as a buildei. In erMIing 
cunles ; he built wine ai Nc<v&ik. SlmJofd, and Banburj*. He th<n busii'd 
hinuctf with hotit-r wink and c-niliiwcl Lincoln Cnthcdril with iu none vaulL 
This splendid chutLh had been begun on a tpot isisy ta defend by onolhcf 
Ficnch bUhnp. Remi, fnrmc^rly monk ni F^mp : " Mcimiu igitur pnrdiU, 
in ipui vniic? urtiu juxia caitelliim lunibus fortiuimi* eminent, in loco (orti 
foncm, piilrhrn jnilchriini. viigini virginnini cmuiTUxit KclMJam ; qiueel gMtt 
ctwl X)tt> icivicniihus ct, ul pro Ictnpoic opcilebal, invincilMlU boslibuK.'* 
Henry of tlunt>nt:<lon. " Hi^tluiU Ansluruni," Ku!h, p. aiz. 

' " Ktiiiiulu Hugonis . . . cic dcjcctiaoc Wilklmt Elicn»i« cpiKopi Rtgtt 
tnncdtaiil," in Hovedcn, "Chronica," ed. SiuMit, Rolls, \o\. iii. p. 141, 
yeai 1 191 : " Hie ad Rujjnientlun el fanuun sui nnminit. emc^dicnu carmina et 
ibythiuos aduUtoriot compirabai, «l de npio Francoruro canloicn ci jucdbtares 
^1unctil)u^ nllcxi;nU ut de iU« cancicni in pUtds : e( jam diccbaiur abique, 
<juoJ nun emi talis in orbc" Sec below, pp. 133. 345. 

lA TIN, 


occurred, as the sight of Oiat religious and warlike tourna- 
ment of which England was the field under Richard Ctcur- 
de-Lion, and of which the heroes were all prelates, to wit : 
these same William dc Lungchamp, bishop of Ely, and 
Hugh de Nunant, bishop of Coventry ; then Hugh dc 
Puiset. bi-shop of Durham, GeofTrey Flaiuajjcnet, archbishop 
of York, &c 

Hugh de Puiset. a scion of the dc Puisets. viscounts 
of Chartrcs. grandson of the Conqueror, cousin to King 
Richard, bishop palatine of Durham, wears the coat of 
mail, fortifies his castles, storms those of his enemies, 
builds ships, adds a beautiful " Lady chapel " to his 
cathedral, and >pcnd:} the rc^t of his titnc in hunting. 

William de Longchamp, his great rival, grandson of a 
Norman peasant, bi«hop of Ely, Chancellor of England, 
seizes on Lincoln by force, lives like a prince, has an escort 
of a thousand horsemen, adds to the fortifications of the 
Tower of London and stands a siege in it He is obliged 
to give himself up to Hugh de Nunant, another bishop ; he 
escapes disguised as a woman ; he is recognised, imprisoned 
in a cellar, and exilet! ; he then excommunicates his 
enemies. Fortune smiles on him once more and he is 
reinstated in his functions. 

Geoffrey Piantagcnct, a natural son of Hcnr>- II., the 
only child who remained always faithful to the old king. 
had once thought he would reach the cmwn. but was 
obliged to content himself with becoming archbishop of 
York. As such, he scorned to ally himself cither with 
Longchamp or with Puisct, and made war on both 
impartially. Longchamp forbids him to leave France ; 
nevertheless Geoffrey lands at Dover, the castle of which 
was held by Kichenda, sister of the Chancellor. He 
mounts on horseback and gallops towards the priory of 
St. Martin ; Richcnda sends after him. and one of the 
lady's men was putting his hand on the horse's bridle. 



when our lord the archbishop, »hod with iron, gave a 
violent kick to the enemy's steed, and tore his belly open ; 
the beast reared, and the prelate, freeing himficlf, reached 
the priory. There lie is under watch for four da>'s, after 
which he is dragfjed from the very* altar, and taken to the 
castle of Dover. At last he is liberated, and installed in 
York ; he immediately commences to fight with his own 
clergy ; he enters the cathedral when vespers are half 
over ; he interrupts the service, and begins it over again ; 
the indignant treasurer has the tapers put out, and the 
archbishop continues, his psalm-singing in the dark. He 
excommunicates his neighbour Hugh de Puinct, who is 
little concerned by it ; he causes the chalices used by the 
bishop of Durham to be destroyed as profiined. 

Hugh dc Puiset, who was still riding about, thoHgh 
attacked by the disease that was finally to carry him off, 
dies full of years in 1 195, after a rtign of forty-three years. 
He had had several children by different women : one of 
them, Henri dc Puiset, joined the Cnisade ; another, 
Hugh, remained French, and became Chancellor to King 
Louis VII.' 

These warlike habiti arc only attenuated by degrees. 
In (323 Kdward II. write:;! to Loui:i de Beaumont bishop 
of Durham, reproaching a noble like him for not defending 
his bishopric any better against the Scotch than if he were 
a mutterer of praysrs like his predecessor. Command is 
laid upon bishop Louis to take aims and go and camp on 
the frontier. In the second half of the same century, 
Henry le Despencer, bishop of Norwich, hacks the 
peasants to pieces, during the great rising, and makes 
war in Flanders for the benefit of one of the two popes. 

Side by side with these warriors shine administrators, 
men of learning, saints, all important and influential 

* See .Siubl», IiiUoJuciioM to (he " Oir i>nica Maglaiii RuKCti de Hove- 
dene," Kollt, 1868, 4 voU. Svo, npcdally yglt. Ui. and iv. 



personages in their way. Such are, for example, Lanfranc, 
of Pavia, late abbot of St. Stephen at Caen, who, as 
archbishop of Canterbury, reorganised the Church of 
England ; Anselm of Aosta, late abbot of Bcc. also an 
archbishop, canonised at the Renaissance, the discoverer 
of the famous " ontological " proof of the existence of God, 
a paradoxical proof the inanity of which it was reserved 
for SL Thomas Aquinas to demonstrate ; Gilbert Foliot, 
a Frenchman, bishop of London, celebrated for his science, 
a strong supporter of Henry II,; Thomas Becket, of 
Norman descent, archbishop and saint, whose quarrel with 
Henry II. divided England, and almost divided Christen- 
dom too; Hugh, bishop of Lincoln under the same king, 
of French origin, and who was also canonised ; Stephen 
Langton. archbishop of Canterbury, who contributed as 
much as any of the barons to the granting of the Great 
Charter, and presided over the Council of London, In 
1218, where it was solemnly confirmed'; Robert Gros- 
seteste,' famous for his learning and holiness, his theological 
treatises, his sermons, his commentaries on Bocthius and 
Aristotle, his taste for the divine art of music, which 
according to him " drives away devils." Warriors or saints, 
all these leaders of men keep, in their difficulties, their 
eyes turned towards Rome, and towards the head of the 
Latin Church. 

' Lanfran':, looj ?-io6g, archUchop in lojw j " Op*i« quie roprr*unt,'' ml. 
CUmi 0*,ii>td, 1S43. I vvti. Svo,— Si- Amdm, 103J-1109. uchbiihop of 
CiDtnbiicr in 109.I i woiks (" Monoloi;idii." "Pioalogtuii." "Cui Dcus 
hamo,'* &c.) in .Mi^ne'* " Putolnfiia." vol. clviii. anil dix. — Stephen, 
boTD ab. ii$o, o( A Votkthicv liLiiiily. uichbiiJiup in iioS, d. iziS, 

' A dKl'red Ruppori« of Ihv Fr.mriLrnn^, nnd rh rn^rgelic ccnior of ihe 
pApal ootttt, tnihop of Lincoln I13S-S3. ha* left a vui number of wiiuiit^s, and 
enjoyed considcnble rcpuuiion for hin leorring Mid unciity. i\\\ Iciicra hnve 
been edited by Luatd. " Robenj Giosseicste . . . Epi^iulif." Lotidun. iSoi, 
RoUk. See below, p. 313. Kingcr Ibcan pmjMd hrgbly his lenniFd works. 
Adding, however ; " ipijo Otxcctini «t ([clirfum non icivil suffidcnier ul p«r 
se tnnifenct, »ccl habnit mulloi adjulort*. ■" " Koijeri Dacati Opcl> . . . 
Incdiia,'' cJ. Btcwci, 1859. Rulb, p^ 472. 




At the same time as the monasteries, and under the 
shadow of their walls, schools and libraries multiplied. 
The Latin education of the na.tion is resumed with an 
energy and perseverance hitherto unknown, and this time 
there uHll be no relapse into ignorance ; protected by the 
French conquest, the Latin conquest is now definitive. 

Not only are religious books in Latin, psalters, missals 
and decretals copied and collected in monasteries, but also 
the ancient classics. They arc liked, they arc known by 
heart, quoted in writings, and even in conversation. An 
Enj^lish chronicler of the twelfth century declares he would 
blush to compile annals after the fashion of the Anglo- 
Saxons \ this barbarous manner is to be avoided ; he will 
use Roman salt as a condiment: "ct cxarata barbaricc 
romano sale condire." ' Another, of the same period, has 
the classic ideal so much before his eyes that he makes 
William deliver, on the day of Hastings, a speech bctjin- 
ning: " O mortalium validissimi ! "* 

A prelate who had been the tutor of the heir to the 
throne, and died bishop palatine of Durham, Richard de 
Bury ,3 collects books with a passion equal to that which 

' "CettA Rqiiim Anglontm." )])' William af Matitmbitiy, ed. l-lardjr. 1840, 
" ProItiRui." Hekneww>;llthe"Anglo-SaKonOitonii;le'"imdiiw<l ll: "Sum 
taiiiT ijiivclani vutnMalit iiiiiiciit climnioo more cl paliio M-rniDDL-, )>i>r aiinut 
Duiiiini ordinala," p. z. 

' " llcnnd archidincotii Hnnlcndunnuis Hitloria Anglorum,'* Rolls, 1879, 

|i. 30). 

) He derived hk nomo from Bury Si. Edmund'i, near nhich he wsi bom on 
Jftouary 34, lalf^, 1 Ic wiii> the non of Sir Kictiojd Amigrrvillc, KnighliWhisw 
iLDCctiPtt had come to England with ihc Corujucior. lie became the kln^j'a 
reo d rer in Uaicuiiy. fulfiUtd miuiuria HI Avixnnn in 13JO when he tdm 
Ptiriuca ("vii aden[is iii{>enli," tajni Pvlrarca o( liitii), aiiO iu 1,}JJ' He 
b«camo in ihit year tiJshnp of DiiihaiM, ng&insi ihc will of ihe chupicr, who 
YaA elected Robert dc Oiay>.teim, the hiilwian. lie wu lord Ticuurcr, 
then high Chancellor in 1 JJ4-5, diichocced new minions OD the ConCincntt 
fuUuwed liilwaid III. on liiicxptdiliuti of l^jS. and died in 1345. 



will be later displayed at the court of the Medici. He has 
emissaries who travel all over EngiamJ, Hnince, and Italy 
to secure manuscripts for him ; with a book one can obtain 
anything from him ; the abbot of St. Albans, as a pro- 
pitiatory offering sends him a Terence, a Virgil, and a 
Quinctilian. His bedchamber is so encumbered with books 
that oiw can hardly move in it' Towards the end of his 
life, never having had but one passion, he undertook (o 
describe it, and, retired into his manor of Auckland, he 
wrote in Latin prose his " Philobiblon."' In this short 
treatise he defends books, Greek and Roman antiquity, 
pQCtr>-, too. with touching emotion; he is seized with 
indignation when he thinks of the crimes of high treason 
against manuscripts, daily committed by pupils who in 
spring dry flowers in their books ; and of the ingratitude 
of wicked clerks, who admit into the librarj' dogs, or 
falcons, or worse still, a two-legged animal. " be^tia 
bipedalis," more dangerous "than the basilisk, or aspic.'* 
who, discovering the volumes " insufficiently concealed by 
the protecting web of a dead spider," condemns them to 
be sold, and converted for her own use into silken hoods 
and furred gowTis.3 Kvc's descendants continue, thinks 
the bishop, to wrongfully meddle with the tree of know- 

' Sea " Rcgiutum FAlntiDum Dunelmenie," ed. I^anty. RoUl. vol. iU. 
Inlrodiiction, p. cxivi. 

' The bctl vtlitiori ix ihut ||p«<cn l;y K- C. Thointu, "The I'hitobiblon of 
Richani ilc Bur^," London. 1S8I!, 8ro, Latin text witli an En^likh Inuisla- 
lliHU The Intfgduclion cnnlaim « bioiirai>h)f in whicli ioiiit ciirrcoi crior* 
htva been corrected, and nuiti on Ihe \3riuus MSS Accnnling to sevm 
MSS. Hie " I'hilobibloR " would he ihe vrmk of Rnbcrl Holkoi. uid not or 
Rkluud dc Buiy, tul (hit nppeora ro be a mutnlcen «itrihuiion. 

» " Occii)«nt etcnim,' ibc bouks arc itjjicsciilcd to say, " loca nosltft, aucic 
cmec,Duncate:i,nuac be^tia bi|icdalit, aijui ct>ha hit alio cum rlcricix vctabalur 
Kiiliquitw, K qun sempor, wipet lupideni rt baxilicum aluinnas iiustrm docuintiu 
tate fugiendiim. . . Uu noc coiupcclM in uifculo, jam dffunci.'c anoMe de 
toW tcU ^rolcclot . . ■ niox in c>|>ita£ia pretitiga . . . vcctM fl vmiu (ufni* 
IviU ■ • • tnn consulil cotnmutundus " (chap. iv. p. 33), 



What painful commiseration did he not experience on 
penetrating into an ill-kept convent library! "Then we 
ordered the book- presses, chests, and bags of the noble 
Rionasteries to be opened ; and, astonished at beholding 
again tlic Jight of day, the volumes came out of their 
sepulchres and their prolonged sleep. . . Some of them, 
which had ranked among the datntieat, lay for ever spoilt, 
in all the horror of dccay^covered by filth left by the 
rats ; they who had once been robed in purple and fine 
linen now lay on ashes]^covered with a cilice," ' The 
worthy bishop looks upon letters with a religious venera- 
tion, worthy of the ancients themselves ; his enthusiasm 
recalls that of Cicero ; no one at the Renaissance, not 
even the illustrious Bessarion, has praised old manuscripts 
with a more touching fervour, or more nearly attained to 
the eloquence of the great Latin orator when he speaks 
1 of books in his " Pro Archia" : " Thanks to books," says 
the prelate, "the dead appear to me as though they still 
lived. . . Kverything decays and falls into dust, by the 
force of Time ; Saturn is never weary of devouring his 
children, and the glory of the world would be buried in 
oblinon, had not God as a remedy conferred on mortal 
man the benefit of books. . , . Books are the masters that 
instnict us without rod-t or ferula-i, without reprimands or 
anger, without the solemnity of the gown or the expense 
of lessons. Go to them, you will not find them asleep ; 
question them, they will not refuse to answer ; if you err, 
no scoldings on their part ; if you are ignorant, no mocking 
laughter." » 

These teachings and these examples bore fruit; in 
renovated England, Latin -speaking clerks swarmed. It 
is often difficult while reading their works to discover 
whether they are of native or of foreign extraction ; hates 
with them arc less strong than with the rest of their 
' Chitp. viii. p. 66. * Chip. I. pp, it, 13. 


LA rm. 


compatriots ; most of them ha%*c studied not onty in 
England but in Paris ; science has made of them cosmo* 
pohtans ; they bclony, above all, to the Latin country, and 
the Latin country has not suffered. 

The Latin country had two capitals, a rciigious capital 
which was Rome, and a litcrarj- capital which was Paris. 
"In the same manner aa the city of Athens shone in 
former days as the mother of liberal arts and the nurae of 
philosophers, ... so in our times Paris has raised the 
standard of learning and civihsation, not only in France 
but in all the rest of Europe, and, as the mother of 
wisdom, she welcomes guests from all parts of the world, 
supplies all their w.ints, and submit:^ them all to her pacific 
rule." ■ So said Bartholomew the Englishman in the 
thirteenth century. " What a flood of joy swept over my 
heart," wrote in the following century another Englishman, 
that same Richard de Bury, " every time I was able to 
visit that paradise of the world, Paris ! My stay there 
always seemed brief to me, so great was my passion. 
There were libraries of perfume more delicious than 
caskets of spices, orchards of science ever green . . ."■ 
The University of Parts held without contest the first 
rank during the Middle Ages ; it counted among its 
students, kings, saints, popes, statesmen, poets, learned 
men of all sorts come from all countries, Italians like 
Dante, Knglishmcn like Stephen Langton. 

Its lustre dates from the twelfth centur>'. At that time 

' " Sicut (tucndani Athenanim civiinii malcr libcmlium iniuui ct UmkruiQ, 
plul<Mvphunim nulrix ci foni omnium scicniitiruni Gmciam dccoi.'kvii, tic 
ParituF nwtiia itmpoiibut. noii iolum J-'iaiidam imo totiu* Eumg^x (ancm 
tniduaiD in KCimiia e( in mcirlbiis siibliniarviii. Nam velut upleatiK niaier, 
it cmnibut mundi pailtbui ndvcnitnle* lecoUigunl, onmiliu* in ncceM»nis 
tubvcntunt, pocificc omoes tq^unt . . " " IteidioJomici An^lici De . . . 
Rcniio . . . rfopriciaiibvjB I.ibri Kviii.," i-d. Poiilaniu, Fnncfurt, 1609, 
8*0. Book »v. ch»p. 57, " Dc Franci*." |». 653. 

' " FhiloJiiMon," ed. Thomas, ehajj. vlii, p. 69. (y. NmIcJisri, "Dt 
Vuarii Rmim," clup. clxnv. (KolU, 1863, p. jit). 



a fusion took place between the theological school of 
Notrc-Danie, where shone, towards the beginning of the 
century, Guillaume de Champcaux. and the schools of 
logic that Abi^lard's tcacliin^; gave birth to on St Gene- 
vieve's Mount This state of things was not created, but 
consecrated by Pope Innocent HI., a former student at 
Paris, who by his bulls of 1208 and 1209 formed the 
masters and students inlo oni; association, unhvrsiUts.^ 

According to a medi.i;va! custom, which has been 
perpetuated in the East, and is still found for instance at 
the great University of El Azhar at Cairo, the students 
were divided into nations : France, Normandy. Picardy, 
England. It was a division by races, and not by 
countries ; the idea of mother countries politically divided 
being excluded, in theory at least, from the Latin realm. 
Thus the Iiitlians were included in the French nation, and 
the Germans in the English one. Of all these foreigners 
the English were the most numerous ; th^ had in Paris 
six colleges for theuiogy alone. 

The faculties were four in number : theology, law, 
medicine, arts. The latter, though least in rank, was the 
most important from the number of its pupils, and was a 
preparation for the others. The student of arts was about 
fifteen years of age ; he passed a first degree called 
'■ diterminance " or bachelorship; then a second one, the 
■ licence, after which, in a solemn ceremony termed htctptio, 
the corporation of masters invested him with the cap, the 
badye of mastership. He had then, according to his 
pledge, to dispute for forty successive days with every 
comer ; then, still very youthful, and frequently beardless, 
he himself began to teach. A maiiter who taught was 
called a Regent, Magisttr regetts. 

■ On the eld UnivenllroT PaKi, »m Ch. Thutol'i exoelleat euay: "Oe 
I'dicsniution ilc rcDKcigiicBKnt daju ItJaivctiiil^ dc FuU su taoym ige,' 
PdfLS, Sro. The four nntigns, p. 16; ihc En^Uh nniion, p. 32; ii> 
cnlle]^, p. 3H: ihe (lci,Te«i in ihe faculty of an*, pp. 43 S. 



The principal schools were situated in the " rue du 
FouaiTc " (straw, Utter), " vico degli Strami," says Dante, a 
street that still exists under the same name, but the ancient 
houses of which are gradually disappearing- In this 
formerly dark and narrow street, ^^urrounded by lanes with 
names carrying us far back into the past (" rue dc la 
Parchemineric," S:c.), the most illustrious masters taught, 
and the most singular disorders arose. The students come 
from the four corners of Europe without a farthing, having, 
in consequence, nothing to lose, and to whom ample 
privileges had been granted, did not shine by their 
discipline. Neither was the population of the quarter an 
otemplary one.' We gather from the royal ordinnnces 
that the rue du Fouarre, " vicus ultra parvum pontem, 
vocatu."! gallicc la rue du Fcurre," had to be closed at night 
by barriers and chains, because of individuals who had the 
wicked habit of establishing iheinsclves at night, with their 
«"A»wo!fj, " mulicrc-s immunda:I"in the lecture- rooms, and 
leaving, on their departure, by way of a joke, the professor's 
chair covered with " horrible " filth. Far from feeling any 
awe, these evil-doers found, on the contrary, a special 
amusement in the idea of perpetrating their jokes in the 
sanctum of philosophers, who, says the ordinance of the 
wise king Charles V., "should be clean and honest, and 
inhabit clean, decent, and hoitest places." ' 

Teaching, the principal object of which was logic, con- 
sisted in the reading and interpreting of such books as 
were considered authorities. " The method in expounding 
U alway.'* the .same. The commentator discusses in a 

' Their serrnnu were of caunc mucti won« in rvcry wiy ; Ihey lived upoo 
tlicfl^, and had even foTiiicd on thii nicco'Unt ah a»o«uiioa with t, cAptuLtt at 
their head: "Curn nacm Purisius auclivi ijuixl i.sitciancs KTricnics xchoUriani, 
qui omnn fere Uimnculi Mtent cue. halicbitm qucndam mat^Mrum qui 
princqx erat liujus modi Inirocinil." Th. Wright, " LaiJn MoriH (ran MSS. 
of tht Xlllth sod XlVih Cenlurid," London, 11142, ule Na. ciiv. 

* May, iJS&i in Iwinbcrt't " Recueil dcs ancicnne) Loit," vol. r. p. sfi. 



prologue some general questions relating to the work he 
is about to lecture upon, and he usually treats of its 
material, formal, final, and efhcicnt causes. He points out 
the principal divisions, takes the first member of the 
division, sutxiividca it, divides the first member of this 
subdivision, and thus by a series of divisions, each being 
successively cleft into two, he reaches a division which 
only comprises the first chapter. He applies to each part 
of the work the same process as to its whole. He con- 
tinues these divisions until he comes to having before him 
oniy one phr.ise including one single complete idea," 

Another not less important part of the instruction given 
consisted in oratorical jousts ; the masters disputed among 
themselves, and the pupils did likewise. In a lime when 
pa|>erwas scarce and parchment precious, disputes replaced 
our written exercises. The weapons employed in these 
jousts were blunt ones ; but as in real tournaments where 
"armcs courloiscs" were used, disputants were sometimes 
carried away by passion, and the result was a true battle: 
"They scream themselves hoarse, they lavish unmannerly 
expressions, abuse, threats, upon each other. They even 
take to culling, kicking, and biting." ' 

Under this training, mdimenlar)'' though it was, superior 
minds became sharpened, ihey got accustomed to think, lo 
weigh the pros and cons, to investigate freely; a taste for 
intellectual things was kept up in them. The greatest 
geniuses who had come to study Aristotle on St, Gene\-ieve's 
Mount weie alway.'i proud to call themselves pupils of 
Paris. But narrow minds giew there more narrow ; they 
remained, as Rabelais will say later, foolish and silly, 
dreaming, stultified things, "tout niais, tout revcux et 
rassot^s." John of Salisbury, a brilliant scholar of Paris in 
the twelfth century, had the curiasity to come, after a long 
absence, and sec his old companions "that dialectics still 

' Tliurol. «/ tufra, pp. 73, K9. 



detained on St. Cencvifeve's Mount" " I found them," 
he tells us, " juKt as 1 had left them, and at the .same point ; 
they had not advanced one step in the art of solving our 
ancient questions, nor added to their science the smallest 
proposition. ... I then clearly saw, what it is easy to 
discover, that the study of dialectics, fruilful if employed 
as a means to reach tlic sciences, remain inert and barren 
if taken as being itself the object of study." ' 

Durinfj this time were developing, on the borders of tlie 
Isis and the Cam. the Universities, so famous since, of 
Oxford and Cambridge ; but their celebrity was chiefly 
local, and they never reached the international reputation 
of the one .it Paris. Both towns had flourishing schools in 
the twelfth century; in the thirteenth, these schools were 
constituted into a University, on the inode! of Paris ; they 
were granted privileges, and the I'tspc, who would not let 
slip this opportunity of intervening, confirmed them.'' 

The rules of discipline, the teaching, and the degrees arc 
ihc same as at Paris. The turbulence is just aa great ; 
there are incessant battles ; battles between the students of 
the North and those of the South. " borealea et au.-itralcs," 
between the English and Irish, between the clerks and the 
laity. In 1214 some clerks arc hung by the citizens of the 
town ; the Pope's legate instantly makes the power of Rome 
felt, andavcnge-i the insult sustained by privileged persons 
belonging to the I-atin country. During ten years the 
inhabitints of Oxford shall remit the studenf* half their 
rent ; they shall pay down fifty-two shillings each year on 

■ In hit « MctaluEJcus," " Opct* Onnriii\," cd. Gilo., OxfbrJ, 1848, 5 I'M. 
8vo, vol. r. p. 81. 

* Innocent IV. c-ontirnia (ab. 1154) all Ihe " imtnutiLiaicx ct Ifttidahiln, 
aDiiiiUiU, nliunalnlet coiuurludrnci" uf OifurJ : " Nuili ago huiiiiuum lioeit 
haoc p^^jnnin aoncte protectionis infriiig«re v«l nki^ ternerario coniriiiK." 
"Muaiaunta Acadcoiini ot documents illuglmlivc <j\ acitdviiiical lifv and 
studies •! Oxfofd," e<i. Ansity, |36S, UulU, 3 vol*. Svu, vol. i. f.~tb. Cf. 
W. K. Clwlsionc, " An Amiiemk Skeidi." Uxfucd, 1892. 



St Nicholas' day, in favour of indigent students ; and they 
shall give a banquet to a hundred poor students. Even 
the bill of fare is settled by the Roman authority : bread, 
ale, soup, a dish of fish or of meat ; and this for ever. The 
perpetrators of (he hanging shall come barefooted, without 
girdle, cloak or hat, to remove their victims from their 
temporary resting-place, and, followed by all the citizens, 
bury them with their own hands in the place assigned to 
them in consecrated ground. 

In 1252 the Irish and "Northerners" begin to fight in 
Sl Mary's Church. They are obliged by authority to 
appoint twelve delegates, who negotiate a treaty of peace. 
In [313 a prohibition is proclaimed against bearing names 
of nations, these distinctions being a constant source of 
quarrels. In 1334 such numbers of "Surrois" and 
" Norrois " cierks are imprisoned in Oxford Castle after 
a battle, that the sherifT declares escapes are sure to occur.' 
Jn 1354 a student, sealed in a tavern, "in taberna %'ini," 
pours a jug of wine over the tavern-keeper's head, and 
breaks the Jug upon it. Unfortunately the head is broken 
as well ; the " laity " take the part of the victim, pursue 
the clerks, kill twenty of them, and fling their bodies " in 
latrinas " ; they even betake tJiemsclves to the books of 
the students, and "slice them with knives and hatchets." 
During that terra "oh! woe! no degrees in Logic were 
taken at the University of Oxford."" In 1364 war breaks 
out again between the citizens and students, '* commissum 
fuit bcllum," and lasts four days. 

Regulations, frequently renewed, show the nature of the 
principal abuses. These laws pronounce : excommuni- 
cation against the belligerents ; exclusion from the Uni- 
versity against those students who harboured " little 

• " Kolte of Pwlkmenl," 8 Ed. III. »o1. ». [x, 76. 

■ Robcn of ATdtninr (a contcnponfT, he di«d ab. 1357). " [liitoru 
Edvudi Intii." cd. tlcoiiic, OxfucJ, nto, Svn, p. 197, 



women " {nmHeratlas) in their lodgings, major excom- 
munication and impri.'K>nmcnt against those who amuse 
themselves by celebrating bacchanals in churches, masked, 
disguised, and crowned " with leaves or flowers " ; all this 
about 125a The statutes of University Hall, 1292, pro- 
hibit the fellows from fighting, from holding immodest 
conversations together, from telling each other love talcs, 
"fijbulas de amasiis," and from singing improper songs.' 

The lectures bore on Aristotle, Boethius, Priscran, and 
Donatus ; Latin and French were studied ; the fellows 
were bound lo converse together in Latin ; a regulation 
also prescribed that the scholars should be taught Latin 
prosody, and accustomed to write epistles " in decent' 
language, without emphasis or hyperbole. . . . and as' 
much as possible full of sense." ■ Objectionable passages 
are to be avoided ; Ovid's "Art of Love" and Ihc book 
of love by Pamphilus arc prohibited. 

From the thirteenth century foundations increase in 
number, both at Oxford and Cambridge. Now "chests" 
are created, a kind of pawnbroking institution for the 
benefit of scholars ; now a college is created like University 
College, the most ancient of all, foinided by William of 
Durham, who died in 1249, or New College, established by 
the illustrious Chancellor of Kdward III. William of VVykc- 
ham. Sometimes books are bequeathed, as by Richard 
de Bury and Thomas de Cobham in the fourteenth century. 

■ "Vivant omnM honetle, u( eletici, prout deeot unirto*. noo pupianlet, 
oon scombB vd lurpui loqucntci, non <antilcn>j nivc falulu de amAiiis rsl 
tuxuiiotU, kut ail libidlncm Miuniiljui DamntBt, ctnianies aui llbcDler 
audienici." " Mimimenu Acnclcmicji." i. p. 60. 

• RcguUtiun of uncefisin dale bcldiiniii}: 10 the thJtiPftnh (nf morv probably 
l4 th« fouttetnth) Mntury, concern iii}; piipili in gt&Rimar ichooJc; Ih<y will he 
lsu|;ht prowxly, ftnd will wiile vei*c» uici G|>>ititc) i " Liivragcudip^titas vcttiii 
decmiibui. unn ampiilkisis nut seM|iiipcilaUbij» cl fiuantuni pwMDi scnteiiiia 
icfeilb." Tlicy *i\\\ Irain I..aiin, Eiit;li>b, and French "in ^llko n< lingua 
ilh penitui tit ooiitsa." " MunimentA AatdemlcK," 1. p. 437. 


or by Humphrey of Gloucester, in the fifteenth,* The 
journey to Paris continues a title to respect, but it is no 
longer indispensable 


With these resources at hand, and encouraged by the 
example of rulers such as Henry "Beauclerc " and Henry 
II., the subjects of the kings of England latinUed thcm- 
seK-es in great numbers, and produced some of the Latin 
writings which enjoyed the widest reputation throughout 
civilised Europe. They handle the language with such 
facility in the twelfth century, one might believe it to be 
their mother-tongue; the chief monuments of English 
thoufjht at this time are Latin writings. Latin tales, 
chronicles, satires, sermons, scicnti6c and medical works, 
treatises on style, prose romances, and epics in verse, all 
kinds of composition arc produced by Englishmen in 
considerable numbers. 

One of them writes a poem in hexameters on the Trojan 
war, which doublles.s bears traces of barbarism, but more 
resembles antique models thcin any other imitation made 
in Eurtjpc at the time. It was attribulcd to Cornelius 
Ncpos, so late even as the Renaissance, though the author, 
Joseph of Exeter,' who composed it between 1178 and 

* Anolhci Higii of itic lime* consiiU in ibc numtiet of epiicopal Idlers 
jwjthoming ecdcsUsiics lo leave ihei» diuccK and go to ihc U iiivuniiy. Thus, 
for exiiiii|i)i!, Kichari) d? Krlliiwr, bi«hr>p of nurliam, ljio-16, writes 10 
Rel>Mi i* Kyruitn : "Quum per viroit IHcmloK T>ci cniunicvil F<?rl«Eift venustari, 
cnpiclllilius in ftffo itudii laboraK cl ncquircrc Kcictiti^E mar^rilMn . . . 
favofcm libcnier el ifratbrn tinperliinuK . . . ul in loco utii scncmle vigci 
Kiudium. n data pr.cMrntium usqiic in hlenniutn rcvoluium iiiunn raleat," 
" KeguiiraRi I'aliiliiiiiin I ) 11 net men e?," ed. Hntdy, Kolli, 187J, 4 vols. Sva, 
vd). i. p. 388 (initny «ihcr similar letter*). 

* Jojwphiu Exanieiiais, or Iscaniu. followed Archblahop Baldwin to the 
crwdc in favour of which ihlx prelate had delivered the Knnoni, and undcr- 
(akpn ihc joiimey in Wales dcscrilwd by 'tiemld de Bany. Jnnrph «»ng the 
expedition in i> LaUO pwni, " AntiocheiB," o( which a lew lines only Ilavo 

LA T/N. 


1183, had dedicated his work to Baldwin, archbishop of 
Canterbury, and mentioned in it Arthur, "flos rcgum 
Arthurus," whose return was still expected by the Britons, 
" Britonum ndcnda fides." Joseph is acquainted with the 
cliissics ; he has read VirgiJ, and follows to the best of his 
ability the precepts of Horace,' Differing in this from 
Bcmiit de Sainte-More and his contemporarie-i, he depicts 
heroes that are not knights, and who at their death are 
not buried in Gothic churches by monks chanting psalms. 
This may be accounted a small merit ; at that time, how- 
ever, it was anything but a common one, and, in truth, 
Joseph of Exeter alone possessed it 

In Latin poems of a more modern inspiration, much 
ingenuity, observation, sometimes wit. but occasionally 
only commonplace wisdom, were expended by Godfrey of 
Winchester, who composed epigrams about the commence- 
ment of the twelfth century ; by Henry of Huntingdon, 
the historian who wrote some also ; by Alexander Neck- 
ham, author of a prose treatise on the " Natures of 
Things"; Alain de I'lsle and John de l^autevillc, who 
both, lony before Jean de#Meuii, made Nature discourse, 
"de omni re scibili""; Walter the Enj^lishman, and Odo 

been pracrved. In hU Tiojaii jiucui liL' fulluivs. na a rnuUcr vi cuunc, Dntct ; 
the work wxi tevicial times prinlcd in Ihe RcnnMtancp am) tine?: " Joiqihi 
Imni . . . I)e [(dlo TroJRno libri . . . aucroti rcitiiuii ... a S*muele 
DrkhiIo." Fniicforii 16301 i>v<>. The MS. lu. 15015 in ihi.- Nuiioiiiil 
Uhtuy, Pnm, Cdnioins * cojiMiJcraMc serin of cxptannlury nolu uriticn in 
ihe Uiine«iitti ceniury, cuncerning ihisj-oem (I printed ihc Jint Iwult ufihcjii). 
' Fnr cinmple. in hu opening; linei. irh«ie be Adhece^ lu ihe Mtiiplicity 
■ecomnim<l«i] in " \n Pociic«" : 

llindum Isetymat cancAMOi^ut P«rgniinn lata, 
Pr-vliu liinu iliicuni. biE adaclam clnililiuk urb«m. 
In cincrw quB-rimiis. 

* ** Anglo- Uititi iaiirical |H)cit and cpigr&mniatitU uf ihc Xlllh Cenlury," cd. 
Tk. Wiighi, London, tS?!' ttulU. 2 \ah. 8vo: coniaint, among aihci Mucki : 
" Ooilfrcdi [irioiii Epii^tiiiiiiunu" (une in ftniiie uf ttii: CmiiiucMir, vol, U. 
!>. 149); " Henrid archidiaconi Hiitoriw libn unJHimus'' (ihal is, Hcniy of 
H>minB(luit. line c|<i£><ii>i "ii> >ci|i)tuin," vol. Ji. p. 163); " /UcXBUdri 



of Chcriton. authors in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries 
of Latin fables.' and last, and above all, by Nigel Wirclcer, 
who wrote in picturesque style and flowing verse the stor>' 
of Bumcllus, the ass whose tail was too short.' 

Burnellus, type of the ambitious monk, escapes from his 
stable, and wishes to rise in the world. He consults 
Galen, who laughs at him, and sends him to Salcmo.3 At 
Salerno he is apain made a fool of, and provided with 
elixirs, warranted to make his tail grow to a beautiful 
length. But in pasiiing through Lyons un his return, he 
quarrels with the dogs of a wicked monk called Fromond ; 
while kicking right and left he kicks oir his vials, which 
breakt while Grimbald, the dog, cub; off half his tail. A 
sad occurrence I He revenges himself on Fromond, how- 
ever, by druwning him in the Rhont-. and. lifting up his 
voice, he makes then the valley^ ri ng with a" canticle" 
celebrating his triumph.* ' ~"" 

What can he do next ? It is useless for him to think of 
attaining perfection of form ; he will shine by his science ; 
he will go to the University of Paris, that centre of all 

Ncckham De Vila Maiiii.c)i«tuiD " (tb« Ame wrote a numixr of t[«aliKS «n 
ibcolugical. sdcnillic, uid£(mmiafeUi3LieubJccia;M:ci:&p(;dii11>-)ii» "DcN»tv[i> 
Reium." cd. Wrinht, Rolls. 1863); "Alani Liber de Planclu N«air»" {tf. 
" Open," Aniwerp. 1654. M.. the nnliannliiy of Alnin dc I'Ulc it doulitfnl) ; 
"Joannis de Allwilla ArchilTcmus"{lhftt ii iht arch K-ecp«i ; luncntfttioiu 
«ra young iiiftnoi>hi> p«At,[iH fnulu, ihc faulu Qfollicni NHture comfort* him 
and he in«iiiu Moderaiinn i ibe author woa a Namuui, and wroic ati. liS4f. 

' For the Latin taii\<» afW'ilitx the En£)i!ihniim, Odo ile Chcriton, Neckham, 
Ac, we Her*ieu». '"It* Fabullsiei Iniios," Ptrlv, 188 j-4, 2 <roU. (te«, 
eommcniary, iie.y. 

■ "Speculum Siullonim," in Wright, "Argl^-l.fllinMUfJcuIptKis"; ut infra. 
Nigel ^twdfth century! had for hU pnimn Willinm dc I^ngchiinip, bidiop 
of Kly (tee >lx>vci p. ttij), and fullitkd eccIcNiiuitcil function* in Ointetlniry. 

i \a titulo caud;c Fnncotiitn tcx Ludoviciis 

Son lilii ]:fit:cellit puntificetv« mi, (Vol. L p. 17.J 

* CantcmuK, uicii X fr^tum celelirrniut luelli I 
Vocibiu ct volis ci^ana nostra tanenl. 
F'uhful atini, livti tnothilenlai Melli, 

LauiIc luticjii cclcljti tymTfum. aUira, chnri ! (p. 48.} 



light ; he will bscome " Ma^istcr" and be appointed 
bishop. The people will bow doM-n to him as he passes ; 
it u a dream of bliss, La Fontaine's story of the " Pot au 

He reaches Paris, and naturally matriculates among the 
English nation. He falls to studying ; at the end nf a 
year he has been taught many things, but is only able to 
say " ya " (semper ya repetit). He continues to work, 
scourges himself, follows the lectures for many years, but 
still knows nothing but "ya." and remains an ass.' What 
then ? He will found an abbey, the rule of which shall 
combine the delights of all the others : it will be possible 
to gossip there as at Grandmont. to leave fasting alone as 
at Cluny, to dress warmly as among the Premonatrant, and 
to have a female friend like the secular canons i it will 
be a Th^lime even before Rabelais. 

But suddenly an unexpected personage appears on the 
scene, the donkey's master, Bernard the peasant, who had 
long been on the look-out for him, and by means of a stick 
the magister, bishop, mitred abbot, is led back to his stall. 

Not ."satisfied with the writing of Latin poems, the sub- 
jects of the English kings would construct theories and 
establish the rules of the art. It was carrying boldness 
very far ; they did not realise that theories can only be laid 
down with safety in period* of maturity, and that in formu- 
lating them too early there is risk of proj^agating nothing 
but the rules of bad taste This was the case with 
Geoffrey de Vinesauf, at the beginning of the thirteenth 
century. Geoffrey is sure of himself ; he learnedly joins 

' Jam pertramierai Bnrnetlui icnipon mnlta 
£t pTojM compti-iui septlmut Okiintu trrat. 

Cum nihil tx tato <jii»(tcutiquc docrntc mitgirtro 
Am *o<io poluil diiccTc pnctcr y^. 

Quwl naiura dnlil, quod sccuni Ociulii iUuc, 
Hoc haliL'i, bt>c illii nemo luliise poicat . , • 

Scinp«T y* repetit. (]<- 64.) 



example to precept, he juggles with words ; he soars on 
high. Tar above men of good sense. It was with great 
reason his work was called the New art of poetrj', " Nova 
Poetria," ' for it has nothing in common with the old one, 
with Horace's. It is <ledicated to the Pope, and begins by 
puns on the name of Innocent = ; it closes with a com- 
parison between the Pope and God : " Thou art neither 
God nor man. but an intermediary being whom God has 
taken into partnership. . - . Not wishing to keep all for 
himself, he has taken heaven and given thee earth ; what 
could he do better? "3 

Precepts and examples arc in the same style. Geoffrey 
leaches how to praise, blame, and ridicule ; he gives 
models of good prosopopoeias ; prosopopceias for times 
of happiness : an apo^tniphc to England governed by 
Richard Coeur-de-Lion (we know how well he governed) ; 
prosopopu-'ia for times of sorrow : an apostrophe to 
England, whose sovereign (this same Richard) has been 
killed on a certain Friday: 

" England, of his death thou thyself dicst ! . . . O 
lamentable day of Venus ! O cruel planet ! this day has 
been thy night, this Venus thy venom ; by her wcrt thou 

' " GairriiJi do VinoiMilvo Are I'ociica," ed. Lc)'(cr, HelinrtMdt, 1714, 8vo^ 
Ilr wroir nthcr wotki ; xn. " tlincrdrium rq{ii Angliimm Kicharilt !•" (lot in 
Ihe " Rcruin Aitglicaruiii Sciipiura " of (iaic. 1684 If., fol.. vol. ii.| hu been 
aiiribui«l to him, buc th<-rc .arc grave doubts : see HaurAiu, " Noticr^ et Ek- 
IniU <lrs Manujicrils, '' vul. kux. pp. 311 t). According 10 .'ilulibs |" Ilincm- 
riuai pcrcgrinoium ct Gc>U Kcgi* Ricoidi," 1664, Kolb), the r«I aatbcr is 
Richnnl, uinon of ihe Holy Tcinitf , Landun. 

* I'apa iilii|)or muntll, u ilixero Pafia Netrtiti : 
Aevyhvitxta nomen Ulbuom iLbi ; si c&pui adilunF 
Jlusliscm mciri, Sc. 

' Ncc Devi c* nee Iiodiq, quui ncut«i et inter tiiiumquci 
Qiirm Dciuclc)p( xiKium. Sodnlitrt cgit 
Tecum, parlibiu muiidum. S«<l ni>luil unui 
Omnia. Seel v«]uit tibi t«Tta.ii et ufci icvlum. 
Quid pvluil meliua? (pid maju^? cui mtrlion? (p. 95.] 



vulnerable! . . . O woe and more than woe! O death I 
O truculent death ! O death. I wish thou «cri dead ! It 
pleased thee to remove the sun and to obscure the soil 
with obscurity ! " ' 

Then follow counsels a^ to the manner of treating 
ridiculous people ' : they come in good time, and we 
breathe again, but we could have wished them even more 
stringent and sweeping. Such exaggerations make us 
understand the wisdom of the Oxfurd regulations pre- 
scribing .simplicity and prohibiting ctnphaiiis; the more so 
if wc consider thai GcofTrey did not innovate, but merely 
turned into rules the tastes of many. Before hitn men of 
comparatively sound judgment, like Joseph of Kxeter, 
forgot themselves so far as to apostrophise in these terms 
the night in which Troy wa* taken : " O night,- cruel night I 
night truly noxious ! troublous, sorrowful, traitorous, san- 
guinary night I"? &C. 


The series of Latin prose authors of that epoch, grave or 
facetious, philosophers, moralists, satirists, historians, men 
of science, romance and tale writers, is Ktil) more remark- 
able in England than that of the poets. Had ihcy only 

' Toift pern n mortc Kim. Mon non full ejus, 
S«(l inn. Non unit. kmI publka, mortiit <»rign, 
O Vcneiii InoimuM diet I o ly'ilui ■mn/um I 
Ilia dica lua \\<i\ Tuit ct Venus ilU vciioiium i 
Ilk dcdic vulnuf . . . 

O dolor I n ptuE quam Hnl-ot ! n mcirt t « truculrnia 
Mon ! Ktict utinoin mora morlui I (juid meminUti 
Auia nirfas Uintuin ? Placuil libi tollcrc »Dl<m 
El ienel)ii» icnctii&iL- Mflunt, (|>. |8.) 

* Contra tUliciiln* li vii Insurgent plene 
Surge tub hae fcnmi. Ijiudn, acil ridiculow. 
Afguc, led Icpidc, &c. (p. 31. f 

) Nox, ftra nDX, vcic oox tatM., luiliiila. irisiis. 
InadioH, ((nw, &c. (" I>e Bcilo Trojsno," book vi. I. 760.I 



suspected the importance of the native language and left 
Latin, several of them would have held a vcr>' high rank 
in the national literature. 

Romance is represented by Geoffrey of Monmouth, 
who in thf twelfth century* wrote his famous " Historia 
Rcgum Britannis," the influence of which in England 
and on the Continent has already been seen. Prose tales 
were written in astonishing quantities, in the tv^-elfth and 
thirteenth centuTies, by those pious aiilhors who, under 
pretext of edifying and amusing their readers at the 
same time, began by amusing, and frequently forgot 
to edify. They put into their collections all they knew 
in the way of legends, jokes, and facetious stories. 
England produced several such collections; their authors 
usually add a moral to their talcs, but sometimes 
omit it, or else they simply say ; " Moralise as tliou 
wilt ! " 

In these innumerable well-told tales, full of sprightly 
dialogue, can be already detected something of the art 
of the conlenr which will apjwar in Chaucer, and some- 
thing almost of the art of the novelist, destined five 
hundred years later to reach such a high development in 
England. The curiosity of the Celt, reawakened by the 
Norman, \% perpetuated in Great Britain ; stories are 
doted on there. " It is tlie custom,"' says an English 
author of the thirteenth century, " in rich families, to 
spend the winter evenings around the fire, telling tales 
of former times. . . ." ■ 

Subjects for talcs were not lacking. The last researches 
have about made it certain that the immense "Gcsta 
Romanorum," so popular in the Middle Ages, were compiled 

' " Cutn in hyemis iTiiemjwrie posi cenam noctu bunUiB divide ad (ocura. ut 
poteniibiia moriiut, r«««nwndl!«niiquu EMtiaop«nmdftr«. . . ." "C«>U 
Romanoivm," version com)»lcd in England, cd. flcnnonn Ocitcilcy, Bcilin, 
187^, 8vD, clu,p. civ. 



in England about the end of the thirteenth century.* The 
collection of the English Dominican John of Bromyard, 
composed in the following century, is still more voluminous. 
Some idea can be formed of it from the fact that the printed 
copy preserved at the National Library of Paris weighs 
fifteen pounds," 

Everything is found in these collections, from mere jokes 
and happy retorts to real novels. There arc coarse fabliaux 
in their embryonic staye. objectionable wies where the frail 
wife derides the injured husband, graceful stories, miracles 
of the Virgin. We recognise in passing some fable that 
La Fontaine has since made famous, episodes out of the 
" Roman dc Rrnart," anecdotes drawn from Roman history, 
adventures tliat, transformed and remodelled, have at length 
found their definitive rendering in Shakespeare's plays. 

.■\ll is grist that comes to the mill of the:>e authors ; their 
stories are of French, Latin, English, Hindu origin. It is 
plain, however, that they write for Englishmen, from the fact 
that many nf their storias are localised in England, and 
that quotations in English are here and there inserted into 
the tale:3 

* Such is the concluuon come to by Omivlqr. The oripniJ wrMOn, 
accoiUini: 10 him, wu wilitca in ILiigUiul ; cm the Coniincni, where li wu 
receivei] with Krnt favour, il uiulcrwrnt coiuidenblc alicminnt, and maay 
UoriM were uddcd. The " Cetin " have Lceii «f ongly ulitibuieU lo fierrr 
BctchfUf. TfttiiHlitioM into EiiKii^h ptoK were mid e inlhe fiflecnlh century i 
"TI1C ciul>' EnKliah Ycnion ufUic Cnta Komaaorum," cd. S. J. H. Hciitagc, 
Eaily Eagtbh Text Society, 1S79, Svo. 

* Seven kilix. 300 )>r. " DoriiMimi viri fnliit Jobannic de Bromyard . . . 
Suinin[ft] pncdJcMitium," Nurenlieig, 1485, foi. The tubjecii are arrtaged la 
■Ipiiabetical oriJer : llbrielai, Lui»ria, Maria, &c- 

> Sttdi i» the OIK in tcvcial of ihc tioiiei cullccicd liy Th. ^Vrielil : " A 
Selection of Laiin Srorics ftoiu MSS. oi the Xlllih ind XlVih Ccniuriet, a 
oonttibuiinii to the Htilory <if Fiction," Ijonilon, t'ercySodery. 1843, Svcx In 
No. .XXII., "I3« Muliere el Softllega," the itieantaiion* are in EnglUh vene; 
in No. .KXXIV. ijcoitin praise of KnjfUiul, " tctisi pociael juUiti^e" j in No. 
XCVII. the hcruiii Hibo ^oi drunk itpcntt and Myn '*aiiglice"i 

Whil ihoi I ym xoliic sinne ne dcdc I nowfat, 

Bui la (liunkeKhlpc 1 <Jede yc wer>ie Ihat tnihlcn tie itiowtft 

1 84 


In turning the pages of these voluminous works, glimpses 
will be caught of the Wolf, the Fox, and Tybcrt the cat ; 
the Miller, his son and the Ass ; the Women and the Secret 
(instead of eggs, it is here a question of "exceedingly black 
crows '■) ; the Rats who wish to hang a bell about the Cat's 
neck. Many tales, fabliaux, and short stories will be re- 
cognised that have become popular under their French, 
English, or Italian shape, such as the lay of the "Oisclet,"' 
the "Chieniie qui pleure," or the Weeping Bitch, the lay 
of Aristotle, the Geese of I'riar I'hilip, the I'ear Tree, the 
Hermit who got drunk. Some of them arc very indecent, 
but they were not left out of the collections on that account, 
any more than miniaturists were forbidden to paint on the 
margins of holy, or almost holy books, scenes that were far 
from being so. A manuscript of the decretals, for example, 
painted in England at the beginning of the fourteenth 
century, exhibits a series of drawings illustrating some of 
these stories, and meant to fit an obviously unexpurgated 

The Virgin plays her usual part of an indulgent protec- 
tress ; the St urj'- tellers strangely deviate from the sacred 
type set before them in the Scriptures. They represent 
her as the Merciful One whose patience no crime can 
exhaust, and whose goodwill is enlisted by the slightest 
act of homage. She is transformed and becomes in their 

' TliBl one in vcisc, wiitininiiiiureiif Engliiih worrit. Ha.! ^x the peuanl: 

Ha ihu mi twele bird, ego le comcdam. 

" Eaily Mywcric* nnrf olhn Ijiiiti poems of the Xlllli a»d \lllih Ccntvric*," 
cd. Th. Wright, London, 183S, 8yo, p. 97. CJ. G. rari», " Laj de rOUelel," 
Pub. 1SS4. 

■ TliMc Mrl«i or dnwings In Ihe tiuii^ina ar< like talc* wiihoui wctds; 
Kvcml smvng the moai cckWaictl of ibc (abliaux aic ilius rcptornicd; oinong 
cthcti: the Sncrislnn am] ihc wife nf the Knigh[ : Ihc llcnuil wtiu |;ot liiunk ; 
a Hlury [vcallins Ihi; aclvcnium of Lixarilla dc T<innc« (imnoiircd liy the his- 
torians of SpAniih lieiion). &c. Some drawlngi of lhi« %oi\ fiuni MS- 10 E iv. 
in ihc Ittilibh Museum arf reproduced lA *' EngUih Wiyfniing Life," pp. 
31,38. 405, &c 



hands an intermediate being between a saint, a goddess, 
and a fairy. The sacristan-nun of a convent, beautiful as 
may be believed, falls in love with a clerk, doubttc^ a 
charming one. and, unable to live without him. "'throws 
her keys on the altar, and raves with her friend for five 
years outside the monastery." Passing by the place at the 
end of that time, she is impelled by curiosity to go to the 
convent and inquire concerning herself, the sacristan-nan 
of former years. To her great surprise she hears that the 
sister continues there, and edifies the whole community by 
her piety. At night, while she sleeps, the Virgin af^cara 
to her in a vision, saying : " Return, unfortunate one, to thy 
convent I It is I who. assuming thy shape, have fulfilled 
thy duties until now." ' A conversion of course follows. A 
pfofes^iional thief, who robbed and did nothing besides, 
"always invoked the Virgin with great devotion, even when 
he set out to steal."' He is caught and hanged ; but the 
Virgin herself holds him up, and keeps him alive; he is 
taken down, and turns monk. 

Another tale, of a romantic tum, is at once charming, 
absurd, immoral, edifying, and loiiching : "Celestinus 
reigned in the City of Rome. Me was exceedingly 
prudent, and had a pretty daughter."' A knight fell in 
love with her, but, being also very prudent after a fashion, 
he ai^ued thus ; " Never will the emperor consent to give 
me his daughter to wife, I am not worthy ; but if 1 could 
in some manner obtain the love of the maiden, 1 should 
ask for no more." He went often lo sec the princess, and 

' " Krtii, miicn, ad monaitftiutii, quia ego, sub tua specie tiu|u« mndo 
offcium luuBi ju)iin[>tcvi." Wtig)il'« " Laliti Sloric*," p. '^5. Same sUtty 
in Bathuan and M^n. " Ncni^'ciu Kccucil," vol. ii. p. 1541 "Uc la Set^rc- 
Uioetjui ilcvim (ole au nionilc." 

* *' Latin Stories," p. 97 ; Frent^h leiil in ItatbAiiiTL and Mfon, vol. ii. p. 
443: ''Du larron qui IV rommantloit i Nnsrre t)*mc toutr* In fois c]U*i) alffll 

' " Idtin Sloria," p. 1 14, from ihc vetxiao of ihe "Gieila Ramanonim," 
oompiM in England : " Dc inilitc convcntionem fudtnte cum mercMOK." 



tried to find favour in her eyes, but she said to him : "Thy 
trouble is thruivri away ; thinkest thou I know not what 
all these fine speeches mean?" 

He then offers money: "It will be a hundred marks," 
says the emperor's daughter. But when evening comes 
the knight ffills into such a deep steep that he only awakes 
on the following morning. The kni^'lit ruins hiinself in 
order to obtain the same favour a second time, and suc- 
ceeds no better than at first. He has spent all he had, 
and, more in love than ever, he journeys afar to seek a 
lender. Mc arrives " in a town where were many merchants, 
and A variety of philosophers, among them master Virgil." 
A merchant, a man of singular humour, agrees to lend 
the money; he refuses to take the lands of the young 
man as a security ; " but thou shall sij;n with thy blood 
the bond, and if thou dost not return the entire sum on 
the appointed day, 1 shall have the right to remove with a 
well- sharpened knife all the flesh off thy body." 

The knight signs in haste, for he is possessed by his 
passion, ard he goes to consult Virgil. " My good 
master," he says, using the same expression as Dante, 
"I need your advice;" and Virgil then reveals to hira 
the existence of a talisman, sole cause of his irresistible 
desire to sleep. The knrght returns with speed to the 
strange palace inhabited by the still stranger daughter of 
this %o " prudent " emperor ; he removes the talisman, and 
is no longer overpowered by sleep. 

To many tears succeeds a mutual affection, so true, so 
strong, accompanied by so much happiness, that both 
forget the fatiil date. However, start he must, "Go," says 
the maiden, and offer him double, or treble the sum ; offer 
him all the gold he wishes ; I will procure it for thee." 
He arrives, he offer.', but the merchant refuses: "Thou 
speaUest in vain ! Wert thou to offer mc all the wealtll oi 
Che city, nothing would I accept but what has been signed, 



scaled, and settled between us." They go before the judge ; 
the scnlcncc is not a doubtful one 

The maiden, however, kept herself well informed of all 
that went on, and, seeing the turn affairs were taking, " she 
cut her hair, donned a rich suit of men's clothes, mounted 
a palfrey, and set out for the palace where her lover was 
about to hear his sentence," She asks to b<; allowed to 
defend the knight. " But nothing can be done," says the 
judge. She offers money to the merchant, which he 
refuses; she then exclaims: "Let it be done as he 
desires ; let him have the flesh, and nothing but the flesh ; 
the bond says nothing of the blood." Hearing this, the 
merchant replies: "Give me my money and I hold you 
clear of the rest" " Not so," said the maiden. The 
merchant is confounded, the knight released ; the maiden 
returns home hurriedly, puts on her female attire, and 
hastens out to meet her lover, eager to hear all that has 

*' O my dear mistress, that I love above all things. I 
nearly lost my life this day ; but as I was about lo be 
condemned, suddenly appeared a knight of an admirable 
presence, so handsome that I never saw his like." How 
could she. at these words, prevent her sparkling eyes from 
betraying her ? '" He saved me by his wisdom, and nought 
had I e\'en to pay. 

" The Maidtn. — Thou might'st have been more generous, 
and brought home to supper the knight who had saved 
thy life. 

* The A'w^fift/.^Heappeared and disappeared so suddenly 
I could not. 

" The Maidttt. — Would'st thou recognise him again if he 
returned ? 

'■ The Kmght.—l should, assuredly." « 

* "Ail miln, ' o ciriisirun domitu. mihi piic oninilKii pnaUlectaluiAiefiMS 
viUn ainii; ted cuin ad Rcxicm jiKlinri dobuinem, intmlt nUta qoMaiB 



She then puts on again her male attire, and it is easy to 
imagine with what transports the knight beheld his siiviour 
in his friend. The end of this first outline of a "Merchant 
of Venice" is not less naive, picturesque, and desultory 
than the rest: "Thereupon he immediately married the 
maiden," and they led saintly lives. We arc not told 
what the prudent emperor Celestinus thought of this 
" immediately."' 

Next to these compilers whose works became celebrated, 
but whose names for the moRt part remained concealed, 
were professional authors who were and wanted to be 
known, and who enjoyed a great personal fame. Fore- 
most amun^ them were John of Salisbury and Walter 

John of Salisbury,* a former pupil of AWlard, a friend 
of Sl Bernard, Thomas Hcckct. and the English Pope 
Adrian IV., the envoy of Henry II. to the court of Rome, 
which he visited ten times in twelve years, writes in Latin 
his ' rolicratic,"* or *' Dc nugis Curialium," his " Mela- 
l<^c," his "Enthetic" (in verse), and his eulogy on 

Diflo formiKus T«lde. bene mllilMn lam Ibrnaotiim nunquaai tuiliw viili, et me 
|i«r'pni(!«iiliaineuam non lanium * motto hIvxtii, scd ctbm me Abomni mIu- 
liunc pccuniit libcinv.ii.* Ail puclla : ' Ergo ingtscuf iulKCi <iv(h1 uiilitcm ftd 
jiTancIiani, quia viiam luam tAliio Kilvavit, not) inntaxli.* Ail ^ilcf i ' SubJto 
intravit el lutrito ciivii.' Ait pucIU : ' Si corn jaui videreK, habcm nolitiam 
ejut ? * At ille ' £ii*ni opiimc' '' Ibii. 

■ Oomab. tiao. To him it wks that Pope KAnkb I\'. (NJdiutJis Break- 
!;pc«rc) delivered (he Taiiic'ut IniU " l.audabililcr," which gnvc Itelanil to 
Henry II. .\iirian hnil Eicat fricndiliiip Tdi Jcihii : " Knlchatut ciinni." John 
wrnie somewhat eunteiiedly. " publke n lecieio quod me pne ommboi 
morUklibua dillgchai. . . . Kl (]uuin Rnmanui poniifex e«e{, rne in proprik 
mcDM gaudclitLl hu1«re convivum, ct cuiidcfn )icy|>!ir4ai ct ditcuTi) iiiln et mihi 
volctmt. Ct bcicbai, mc rcmtcntc, cs»e communcm " {" MeUtlosicui," in ib« 
" Opera Omnin." cd. (iila, vol. «'. p. 105). lulin of Salisbui; died in iiSO^ , 
being then btitio^ of Chanim, a dignity to which he had been nited. he mU, * 
"divinu digtuitioTie ci tncriiiK ^anirti Thomie" (DcrniRniiid, "Jein de Salia- 
l?uiy," 1873, p. 2751. The very line copy of John *! "PolierHicui." wblch 
belonged to Ri<hMd de Buiy, u aow in Uie Biilish Muicbdi : MS. 13 D i«- 

■ Fram iroXic aad jQDcmiv. 



Beckct.' John is only too well versed in the classics, and 
he quotes them to an extent that docs more credit to his 
erudition than to his taste ; but he has the gift of observa- 
tion, and his remarks on the follies of his time have a great 
hi-itorica] value. In his " Policratic " is found a satire on a 
sort of personage who was then beginning to play his part 
again, after an interruption of several centuries, namely, the 
curialis, or courtier ; a criticism on histrions who, with 
their indecent farces, made a rough prelude to modern 
dramatic art ; a caricature of those fashionable singers who 
disgraced the religious ceremonies in the newly erected 
cathedrals by their songs resembling those "of women . . . 
of sirens ... of nightingales and parrots."* He ridicules 
hunting-mnnks, and also those chjmtnanccrs for whom 
Bcckct himself had a weakness. "Above all." says John, 
by way of conclusion and ajjology, "let not the men of 
the Court upbraid mc with the follies I trust them with ; 
let them know I did not mean them in the least, I satirised 
only myielf and those like me, and it would be hard indeed 
if I were forbidden to castigate both myself and my peers." * 
In his " Metalfigic," he scoffs at the vain dialectics of silly 
logicians, Coniificians, as he calls them, an appellation that 
stuck tothem all through the Middle Ages, and at theirlong 

' "JoMinb Saic*hcri(nuu . , . Opem omnia," ed. GJIta, OxTord, 1848, 
5 «oU. 8to, " I\itr«a £cc1»Ibp Anjliauwt." 

* " Ipsiim qjoquc cullum religionls ine«at«% quod uit« can«|>ectuin Domini, 
in Lp«ii, prnclRtlibu* cancluarii, ]iucivicnH» vud* luxu, (|u«.iliini iMtcnUtione 
tui. Riulicbiibui modis notularum articuloTunii^uG oEkuiis iiupcnicft utimulu 
cmultiie nilunlar. Quuin pnrnncntium ct luccmcniruni, cnnentium ct dcci- 
nentium. prwrnollec m(xtLihtiuD« auiliecin. Sireiuruui cunccriiut credan eae, 
non hominum. et do vocum bciliiair inirahcri! quiliti« jihJIomeiM v«l ptiucciu, 
■ul li (|uid conorius est. modcu moi ncqucunt ctxn(uaic." " Opera," vol- iu- 
p. ]8 (m« on thb uime .MiLjcci, ticUw, p. 446). 

) "Qudcautcu) (le cuiinlibus nti^i^ litcia sunt, in nullo eorum, Md lone in mc 
>ul mc) nmililmt ilrprchcndi : cl plani- nimis arcU Ivse t.'onsiringar. U ini^Jinun 
CI amico castiijfttc el eraendue nan licci." ■' 0|>cni," vol. jr. p. 379 {Man- 
pOMant ukJ Id put (otth in «onvenati««i exactly the Mine pk« m an apolou)* 



phrases interlarded with so many negative particle* that, in 
order to find out whether yes or no wa^ meant, it became 
rwccssary to examine if the number of noes was an odd or 
even one. 

■ Bold ideas abound with /ohn of Salisburj-; he praises 
Brutus; he is of opinion that the murder of tyrants 
is not only justifiable, but an honest and commendable 
deed: " Non modo licitum est, sed aquum et justum." 
Whatever may be theapfiarcnt prosperity of the great, the 
State will go to ruin if the common people sufTer: "When 
the people suffer, it is as though the sovereign had the 
gout " ' ; he must not imagine he is in health ; let him try 
to walk, and down he falls. 

Characteristics of the same sort arc found, with much more 
sparkling wit, in the Latin works of Walter Map.» This 
Welshman has the vivacity of the Celts his compatriots; 
he was celebrated at the court of Hcno' H., and through- 
out England for his repartee? and witticisms, so celebrated 
indeed that he himself came to agree to others' opinion, 
and thought them worth collecting. He thus formed a 
very biT-arre book, without beginning or end, in which he 
noted, day by day,^ alt the curious things he had heard — 
"ego verbum audivi " — and with greater abundance those 
he had said, including a great many puns. Thus it 
happens that certain chapters of his" De NugisCurialium," 
a title that the work owes to the success of John of Satis* 

■ "Afflictiw nanique popnlui, ()u«u |Hindpn ]X>diiEnirn aiguil el convicit. 
Tunc auicni totius rci|iitblic3E ulm incolumu pttcctaiaquc crit, «i lupcrioni 
nembn n ntipeniluii infaiurllnu el inleriora tupchonlnit paii jure mpon- 
dfMil-" " Policrtticus "; " Opera," vol. tv. p, 51. 

» Horn prohaWjr in Ilcrefordshite, tlu<lic<I at l'*rii, lulliltcd varjout .iiplo- 
maiic miiMunt, wm jusiitc in cytc 1 173, canon of Si. Paul'* 1 176, sichdcacoii 
c( Oxfoid, 1 197. He ipcm hi» bai ycora in his Ift-ing of Wniburyoo lb« 
Svram. and died a1>oui llio- 

■ *■ HuDC In curia legU Hmrici libellum npiim nnnolavt Khcduliii.'' 
"Gnnlleri M«pM dc Nugii Curialium Diiiindirinrt qiiinque," ed.Th. Wrii;hti 
London, Camden tiocicty, 1S50, 4tu, Dist. iv.| Kptiogua, p. 14a. 



bury's, arc real novels, and have the smartness of sucli ; 
others are real fabliaux, with all their coarseness ; others 
are scenes of comedy, with dialogues, and indications of 
characters as in a play ' ; others again arc anecdotes of the 
East, "quoddam mirabile," told on their return by pilgrims 
or crusaders. 

I.ikcjohn of Salisbury, Map had studied in Paris, ful- 
filled missiorus to Rome, and known Beckct , but he shared 
neither his sympathy for France, nor his affection for St 
Bernard. In the quarrel which sprung up between the 
saint and Abv4ard, he took the part of the latter. Thoug;h 
he belonged to the Church, he is never weary of sneering 
at the monks, and especially at the Cistercians ; he imputes 
to St Bernard abortive miracles. " Placed," says Map, " in 
the presence of a corpse, Bernard exclaimed: 'Walter, 
come forth! '--But Walter, as he did not hear the voice of 
Jesus, so did he not listen with the ears of Lazarus, and 
came not." » Women also are for Map the subject of 
constant satires; he was the author of That famous" Dis- 
suasio Valerii ad Rufinum de ducenda uxore," ' well known 
to the Wife of Bath and which the Middle Ages persistently 
attributed to St Jerome. Map had asserted his authorship 
and stated tliat he had written the dissertation "changing 
only our names," assuming for himself the name of Valerius 
" me qui Walterug sum," and calling his uxorious friend 
Rufinus because he was rcd-haircd. But it was of no avail, 
and St. Jerome continued to be the author, in the same 
way as Cornelius Ncpos was credited with having written 
Joseph of I^xeter's "Trojan War," dedicated though it was 
to the archbishop of Canterbury. Map is very strong in 
his advice to his red-haired friend, who "was bent upon 

' F«< example, ibiJ. iii. 3, '' Ue Socicialc Sailii et Calonis," Oialofrue 
bclwetn tlicci: nrumcii, Rcginu, Ltu, Eio, pp. Ill (T. 

' " Galitre, vcni Tonts t — Oalictui >ulctn, (iiiia nnn auilJn't voctm Jh»u(, 
nun fanbuit anreB Laxaii el nou vcnit." " L)e Nufjin,'* p. 43. 

I ''Dc Nb)^," Dui. iv. 



being married, not loved, and aspired to the fate of Vulcan, 
not of Mar«." 

As a compensation many pncms in Latin and French 
were attributed to Map, of doiibtful authenticity. That he 
wrote verses and was famous as a poet there is no question, 
but what pnems were his \vc do not know for certain. To 
him was ascribed most of the "Goliartlic" poetry current 
in the Middle Ages, so called on atcount of the principal 
personage who figures in it. Golias, the type of the glut- 
tonous and debaucl^cd prelate. Some of those poems were 
merry songs full of humour and entrain, perfectly consistent 
with what wc know of Map's fantasy : " M>' supreme wish 
is to die in the tavern ! May my dying lips be wet with 
wine! So that on their coming the choirs of angels will 
exclaim: 'God be merciful to this drinker!'"* Doubts 
exist also as to what his French poems were ; most of his 
jokes and repartees were delivered in French, as we know 
from the testimony of Gerald de Barry," but what he wrote 
in that language is uncertain. The" Lancelot" is assigned 
to him in many manuscripts and is perhaps his worlc.^ 

' Th. Wrighl, " The LAiin pwnti canirnonly ttitribulMl lo Wttlicr Mapei," 
London, Camdm Soci«tf , 1841, ^iti {ff. '* Romania," vol vji. p. 94) : 

M*um e»i prajm^fium in teberna mott : 
V!iiiiiii >il :i[ip>«itui:n mo'ticnlif 'iri. 
Ut iIlcAni cum vcnciini ingclorum chori : 
Dcu>iLi propiiiiM hiiic polaiori. 

(" Cotift«U) Golias.") 

On " Goliardoit'' clerl». Me BMier, "let Fabliaux," ?ad«, 189], Svo, pp. 

3*8 ff- 

* In hit pr«Faloiy lcU«r lo king John, Gvralil rayt thai "vlr lIIc aloquio 

c]«nU| W. Mtpiu, Oxonicn&is arctiidwcDnus." uaed lo tell hint thai he had 
derived lomc fainc ami tiencfiln frmn hi^ wiiiicbmi and xayinip, "dicu." 
which w«n in Ilie cummun uliuni. llMt 1% io fiench, "cuminuUL qui|ipe 
idimnaM jmUta." "Ojjcfa." R0II&, vol v. p. ^IO. 

* Map, howeveii pevu dainied ihc uullionliip uf this wvik- The prob- 
Bbllilr of hit bdng ihc uilhoi rnis niiUiily on the alliuion discovtii:^ by Wan! 
in the »oik* of Hue dc RtHelnndc, a ci>a)(nitioi and conifinporat)' of M'P- 
who ft<iiK loptuni him oul 01 having wiiiteo the " Loncelut." "Caubjgue 
of aoinance*," 1S83, vol. i. pp. 734 ff- 

LA rm. 



The subjects of the Angevin kings also took part in the 
scientific movement In the ranks of their literary men 
using the Latin language arc jurists, physicians, savants, 
historians, theologians, and. among the latter, some of ihe 
most famous doctors of tlie Middle Ages; Alexander of 
Hales, the " irrefragable doctor " ' ; Duns Scot, the " subtle 
doctor" ; Adam de Marisco, friend and adviser of Simon 
de Montfort, the " illustrious doctor" ; Ockham, the " invin- 
cible doctor"; Roger Bacon, the "admirable doctor"; 
Bradwardine, the "profound doctor," and yet others. 

Scot discusses the greatest problems of soul and matter, 
and amid many contradictions, and much obscurity, arrives 
at this conclusion, that matter is one: " Socrates and the 
brazen sphere are identical in nature." He almost reaches 
this further conclasion, that "being is one."" Hts rcputa* 
tion is immense during the Middle Ages ; it diminishes at 
the Renaissance, and Rabelais, drawing up a list of some 
remarkable books in St Victor's librar}', inscribes on it, 
bclwecn the " Maschcfaim des Advocats" and the " Ratc- 
penadedcs Cardinaux," the works of the subtle doctor under 
the irreverent title of " Barbouillamcnta Scoti." ^ 

Ockham. in the pay of Fhilippc-le-Bel— for England, that 
formerly had to send for Laiifranc and Ansclm. can now 

' Almndfr.of HntcG, GloucKtcnhirc. Ipclorrri ki Pflris. d. 1245: wrnte& 
•' Sumina " nt ihe t«iuciiof Innocent It ; '■ .Mexandii AlciuU Angli, IJocl&rU 
trtefragabitii . . . umvetue thcoIoKiic Samma," Cologne, 1611. 4 vol*- fol. 
He Jcaliin mnny of liii " Qumtlunej " with »ul>jceu, utuil ilicn in iheoloKiail 
bonks, but which si;ein in ibe modrni mdei ucty Krangr mdccil. A large 
rumber cf wmnns and pious imitii«i( vine atui written in Lalin during thb 
p«Tiod, by A«tted of kt«vaat\ for exomple, and bj olheni : " It«Kti Ailredi 
KknllitabtiatuSenDoncs" |aii<l olhu works) in MIkoc's " Fatrologi*," vola. 
luii. and cxcv. 

* Studird at Oxford, lh«n ai Parit, trhcrr he tauchi with i^cal tuccen, d. at 
Calognein 1308. "Opera Omnui,"ed. Luc Wadding, i6j9, 13 val*. fol. See, 
OD him, " Hisloi[« Lilleriiir« de la Fiancr," yoL xsiv. p. 404. 

" "Pani»eri»rl."n.,cliap. 7. 




furnish the Continent with doctors — makes war on Boniface 
VIII., and. drawing his arguments from both St. Paul and 
Aristotle, attacks the temporal power of the popes.' Roger 
Bacon endeavours to clear up the chaos of the sciences ; he 
forestalls his illustrious namesake, and classifies the causes 
o\ human errors.^ Archbishop Bradwardinc,3 who died in 
the great plaj^uc of 1 349, restricts himself to iljeology, and 
in a book famous during the Middle Ages, defends the 
"Cause of God" against all sceptics, heretics, infidels, and 
miscreants, confuting them all, and even Aristotle himself* 
No longer is Salerno alone to produce illustrious 
physicians, or Rolognc illustrious jurists. A " Rosa 
Anglica," the work of John of Gaddesden, court physi- 
cian under Edward II., has the greatest success In 
learned Europe, and teaches how the stone can be cured 
by rubbing the invalid with a paste composed of crickets 
and beetles pounded together, "but taking care to first 
remove the heads and wings." S A multitude of pre- 
scriptions, of the same stamp most of them, are set 

■ The world or OckhftDi (fnunccnlh ccniiury) have not been roUectol* See 
iiis"Suminatoiiuslo(pcir,"etl. WalLw, 167s, Sro, hit "CoinpendiumcrToniEa 
Jolutnob [iBpce," Lyuiu, 1495, fol., &c 

* Qorn in Soincreciiihiic. &tu<Jicd a1 Oitfoit] vid P«r)». il. about 1394 ; wratt 
"Opus majus," "Oiib* miniw." "Opo» lertiiim." Set ''Opus iii»Ju6 kd 
Clemenicm papnm." eJ. Jelib. Lomlcm, 1733, fol.; '-Ojieni inBiliia." ed. 
Brewer, Rolls, 1859. Many curious invpnilont ore ■lluJcd to in thit lut 

volume : di^^llg hclU, p. 5^3 ; gun|xtW(.lcr, ji. 536 ; oarlrw and very swift bo*!* } 

mrioftci wiihuut harxcs [iinnint; bI ah CAtrato(din&ry tpcctl : '' Item cuiTua 
pcuautn fieri ul moc aniiniili tnovcantui impclu inKtiimBbiU," p. $33. On (he 
cauutorerrOTi. (hit is aullioril)-. Iiiibit. &c.. »e« "Opus tnajiis." I. 

> Btirn ni ChichcsitT nb. 1390, tfliighi at Oxfonl, bi-cAmc chapUin 10 Edmird 
III. luiil Arthliuhop of Caul III >ury. *' Dc Cauiui Dei cntLtra ['ciaciaiD el de 
virlulc cauKUum od su<m .Meitonciuo, LJbr) 111.." Lotidud, 161S. fal. 

* Ciiiicluiwn of cliiiij. i. Book I. : " Coniro Ariiioielem, a&tnieniem tntindum 
Doi) habulMc principium tenipurale d nun fui»e crealum, noc pRMcntem 
grnrmiinncm hominum teimiiuindftin, nc^ue miindum nee surum iiiuddi 
bUo lempore Aniendum." 

> "Jdiiniii* Ani;lici pnuis mcdica Rma Anglics dlcu," AugvlKiurf!, 1595. 
1 Tuk. 4.tu. Vul. i. p. 496. 

LATIN. 19s 

down in this book, which was still printed and con- 
sidered ax an authority at the Hciiaissance. 

Bartholomew the Englishman,' another savant, yet more 
universal and more celebrated, writes one of the oldest 
encyclopedias. His Latin book, translated into several 
languages, and of which there are many very beautiftil 
manuscriptV comprises everything, from God and the 
angels down to beasts. Bartholomew leaches theology, 
philosophy, geography, and history, the natural sciences, 
medicine, worldly civility, and the art of waiting on table. 
Nothing is too high, or too low, or too obscure for him ; 
he is acquainted with the nature of angels, as well as with 
that of fleas: " Flea* bite more sharply when it is going to 
rain." He knows about diamonds, "stones of love and 
reconciliiition " ; and about man's dreams " that vary 
According to the variation of the fumes that enter into 
the little chamber of his phantasy " ; and about headaches 
that arise from " hot choleric vapours, full of veiitosity " ; 
and about the moon, that, " by the force of her dampness. 

' Conceininfr tlaitholoRiEcaf AngliciM. saiiiriim«( but WTongly called dc 
Glant-Ule. we the notice by M. Uelisle ('• Hivioite Liliernirc dc U France." 
v«4. xxK. pp. 334 IT), who "ias deniotiiltatnl that he livcil in Ihe thirlec-nlh 
•nd noi in ibc fourteenth century. It b diilicuft to niJtikti m ith M- IH-liUe that 
Bulbolutncw w» not Rngliih. Ai we knnw thai he sludictl nnil lived nn the 
Coaiineiii iht mcul protabte explanation uf hb luiiuuue l» ihai he was born in 
England. Sec ntso his praisf of Engbind, xv-14. His " Di' l'Mpriot»iil>u» " 
(Fnncfort, 1609, Svii, ninny other edition') wai lriin«latc<i into Knglivh l>y 
TieviM, in I j^, in French by Jean Coibichon, nl the request cf ihc wise king 
CItttlct v.. in SiMjiisli anil in Dutch. To the «nic catei[ui]r uf writer* brJongi 
Gerta«c of TiUmiy in Etsex. who wraie, alio on the ConTlncni, between ix& 
tad 1314, hie ''Otia imperinJ la." where he give* an aecoiml of chaiM, the 
cteftlioit. the woncleis <A the world, ie. ; unpublUhcd but for a few dtract* 
given hf Sicveiuoa la bin " Radulphi de CuiicGshaU Chronicon," 1873, Svu. 
Rolls, pp- 419 fT. 

• Then; are eiKhtrrn in the NiliiMifll>-, Fnris. One of the iinesl U 
Ihe MS. 15 E ii. nnd iii. in ihe UrilUh Muteuni (French iranilation) with 
tmulifid miniaturci in the richest »lyle 1 m fine ; " EKript par moy Jo Duiict 
ct finy A Btueci Iv XXV* juur dc May, wiki ■48a.'' 

sets her impression in the air and engenders dew " ; and 
about everything in fact. 

The jurists arc numerous ; through them again the action 
of Rome upon England ts fortified. Even those among 
them who arc most bent upon maintaining the local laws 
and traditions, have constantly to refer to tlic ancient law- 
makers and commentators; Roman law ia for them a sort 
of primordial and common treasure, open to all, and 
wherewith to fill the gaps of the native legislation. 
The first lessons had been given after the Conquest by 
foreigners: the Italian Vacarius, brought by Theobald, 
Archbishop of Canterbury, had professed law at Oxford 
in ii49l* Then Anglo-Normans and English begin to 
codify and interpret their laws ; they write general 
treatises ; they collect precedents ; and so well do they 
understand the utility of precedents that thcHC continue 
to have in legal matters, up to this day, an importance which 
no other nation ha^ credited them with. Ralph Glanville, 
Chief Justice under Henry 1 1., writes or inspires a " Treatise 
of the law3 and custom^t of England "^ ; Richard, bishop 
of London, compiles a "Dialogue of the Exchequer," 3 full 
of wisdom, life, and even a sort of humour; llcnr>' of 
Bracton,'* the most renowned of a!l, logician, observer, and 

' On Virariu*, Me " Matci^lcc Vxcanua piimus ^uiis Kouiini in Aii^lui 
pnrfcaoT cK uiinallum mbniimcniis el opere accurate descripii> itliuireius," by 
C P- C. Wcnclt, I^piig, iSlo, Svo. 

' " TrMiniut de Lcpbui el ConiueludiniUw Alalia!," £ni^bed «bou( 1187 
(cd. Wilrnal kni) Knyncr, Luiidun, I7&>, SrnJ ; wm perhip* the work at lib 
nephew. Hubert Waller, but wriiicn unclci his inspirMon. 

J "Di«l6gut de Seaceario," wrillen a^ Henry II., MM in Slubl>«, "Select 
ChMiMi," Oxfoid. 1876. p. 168. 

* *' Hcorici tic Br»ctonil« I^ibutGtC«iuuctu(linibu»Anglix, Litirt V.,"ed. 
Travers Twi", Rolk, 1S7S ff., 6 voU. 8v«. bacion adopii Mime of the bett 
known aitiorg the deltnilioTKi ami maiimt of Roman law: " Fitius htnes 
l(^lti(n\i> ett ijunndo nupiur (Icmon.'ilnint." vol. ii. p. tS) s Ireiuiirc It 
''qumlam vtlus dcpoutiu pccutiiii: vel ullcriuf mclalli cujiM lion ciui modo 
meinoria," woU ii. p. ijo. On " Bmcion and hi* rclaliuii 10 Ruman Uw," 
(•e C. GUterbuck, iranilaled with noies by Btinmn Com. ThiUdelphia, 
1866, 8vo. 



thinker, composes in the ihirtccnth century an ample 
treatise, of which several abridgments ■ were afterwards 
made for the convenience of the judf;e», aiid which is 
still consulted. 

In the monasteries, the great literary occupation consists 
in the compiling of chronicles. Historians of Latin tongue 
abounded in mediseval England, nearly every abbey had 
its own. A register was prepared, with a loose leaf at 
the end, "scedula," on which the daily events were in- 
scribed in pencil, " cum plumbo." At the end of the year 
the appointed chronicler, " non quicumquc volucrit, sed cui 
injunctum fucrit," shaped these notes into a continued 
narrative, adding his remarks and comments, and insertiug 
the entire text of the official documents sent by authority 
for the monastery to keep, according to the custom of the 
time.' In other cases, of rarer occurrence, a chronicle was 
compiled by some monk who, finding the life in cloister 
very dull, the offices very long, and the prayers somewhat 
monotonous, used writing as a means of resisting tempta- 
tions and ridding himself of vain thoughts and the 
remembrance of a former worldly life.3 Thus there exists 

' By Gi]l>en d( Thimtnn.ab. 1393; by thoauthor of" FItUt," ah. the um« 

* The tntnc leaf wAt ihcn rcrnnvnl. nnd > new one placci] inncad, in view 
o( the year In come : " In Hue vpro anni aun quicuiiii|ue vnlucrit Mil ciii 
inJuDCtiim fu«Tli, quod v«rlus et melius cMifuerit nd ixMtentatU notllifim innf- 
mill end um , in cAipnrc libri kuccincla )>rc v it titc desert !>a) ; ct tunc vcter acsilulk 
•Bbtritcia^nfliH imponAtur. " " Atinolcs Moautici, cd. Luanl. RolU. 1864-91 
J wJj. 8vo, vol, iv. p. JJ5. AiiiiaIi of the prioiy of Worccjlct ; prefiirc Con- 
ceraind 'he " Saipioib " in nionaii«iw anil ia luuiicukr llie " Smi|)iuiium" 
of St. Albani, »M liaidy. » IJcH-tiptive Cnialogver" 1871, Rolls, vol. lii. 

* "Sedeni iptui in clauvlTO plunet faliEiiiu*, »cn»ii habetato, virivtilnu 
ftuwrtius, pTMiiiiii cogiia[ionil;'U» tecpr sauciatas Eiim propter leciionuni longi- 
hidinnn ac oiaiionum lanitudincni„proi>trr\-ana« jkctamlas k ojirnipcwiniBin 
«eciil« praluiliiia ..." He hai lecuutie. at a ciir«, 10 huiottcal iludiei 
"ad ro{tlii>nnn «uperi&niin raeotum." " lilulogium tudorianim ati orbe 
coodito uftquc ad A't>. 13^1" by a tnonk of Malmcttiuiyt cd- Haydo«i> Roll*. 
1858, 3 vola, 8va, vid. i. p. t. 

an almost uninterrupted series of English chronicles, 
written in Latin, from the Conquest to the Renaissance. 
The mo-it remarkable of these series is that of the great 
abbey of St Albans, founded by Offa, a contcmporar)- of 
Charlemagne, and rebuilt by Paul, a monk of Caen, who 
was abbot in 1077. 

Most of these chronicles are singularly impartia] ; the 
authors freely judge the English and the French, the 
king and the people, the Tope, Harold and William. 
They belong to that Latin country and that religious 
world which had no frontiers. The cleverest among 
them are rcr:iarkable for their knowledge of the ancients, 
for the high idea they conceive, from the twcKth century 
on, of the historical art, and for the pains they take 
to describe manners and cu.stoms, to draw portraits and to 
prcscT\x the memory of curious incidents. Thus shone, 
in the twelfth century, Orderic Vital, author of an 
" Ecclesiastical History*" of England'; Eadmer, St. An- 
selm's biographer 3 : Gerald de Barry, otherwise Gcraldus 
Cambrensis, a fiery, bragging Welshman, who exhibited both 
in his life and works the temperament of a Gascon 3 ; 

* "Ordrrici Vlmlis Angligcnic Hbtorix ccdciiaMicic, LJbri \III.," cA. ht 
PrevnM, Path, t8]S-f5, J riilik Svo. Vila! wiu iHim in Englani], but llv«d 
anil wioie in the mnnMier)' uf Si, Eviuuli In Nurmamly, wlieie he had lieen 
»enl ** asin mile," nnd where, "as did St. Joseph in Kgypi. tie heard spoken 
4 Unguosc to him unit now-n. " 

■ "FUdmcii HiMatia novorupa in Anc)ia." cil. Martin Rule, RoUt, i8S4> 
8vo ; in (he uuie volume : " De vita and corivcrMtiuiie AoMdmi." Eadiuer 
Jiedab. 1144. 

^ "Giraldi Cnmbtcnaik 0[>cr«," td. Brewer (and o them), l86l-9t, S volti. 
8va, Rolls. Ccntld wm boin in the ouilc «f Miuiorl>cer, aeai rembtokc, of 
which niinx xulniil. He nai tlic son of 'William i!c Bany, of ihe Ktcal and 
Hurlike family thai was to play u,n iuiiiuttani paii in [nrlaiid. Mis mother wa* 
Ar\gar«ih. grand-daughter ol Khyt sp Theo<<or, a Welih prince. He studied 
Bl Pill*, licciiinceliAp'liMn la Itrnry 11., hOjOMrrtrd in Ireland, helped Art:hbish»|) 
Baldlfin 19 i^rcich the ccuudc in Wnlci, uid made CQnMdcrabIc but fruillcw 
cfforti lo be appaintc(3 liishoii at Si. Daviihi, Al lcn|[ih he leiiled in |K^aoe 
and died ilieie, ab, t2ib; his comb, greatly injuicil, ii ilill to be tern in 
Ihe chUTCh. Princip.ll works, all in Lati« {hk alwve, p. 117) j " D« Sebos a 




William of Malmcsbury, » Henry of Huntingdon, • 

These two Jast have a sort of passion for their art, 
and a deep veneration for the antique models. William 
of Malmcsbury is especially worthy of remembrance and 
respect. Before beginning to write, he had collected a 
iDultitude of books and testimonies ; after writing he looks 
over and revises his text ; he never considers, with famous 
Abb<i Vertot, that " son siege est fait." that it is tcx> Utc 
to mend. Me is alive to the interest offered for the 
historian by the customs of the people, and by these 
characteristic traits, scarcely perceptible sometimes, which 
are nevertheless landmarks in the journey of mankind 
towards ci\ilisation. HJs judgments are appreciative and 
thoughtful ; he docs something to keep awake the reader's 
attention, and notes down, with this view, many anecdotes, 
some of which are excellent prose tales. Seven hundred 
years before M^rimife, he tells in his own way the story of 
the " Vfnus d'lllc." 3 He d<KXs not reach the supreme 
heights of art, but he walks in the right way ; he does not 
lenow how to blend his hues, as others have done since, so 
as to delight the eye with many-coloured sights ; but he 

•e gesili;" " Gemma Ecdcs^Mtica ; " " Dr Invcclionibtu, Ubci IV. ; " 
"Spmruluin F-cclrtix;" " Topograiihia Kilwntim: " " Kiput;ruitiD IlilicmJcat" 
"ItineRuium Kaintiri»(" "DeteripitiD Kambrbet" " Ue FriacipU Iiuiruc- 

■ "WtllHmi Malmeabiricnai* Munachi, Gc&Im Re);uni Anglonint atqnc 
HiUaria Novella," cil. r, D. Ilfmly, Londttn. Knglith llitioiiratt^ociciy, 1840, 
a vols. 9vo: or thr ccUtiim of SluMw. Kdk. 1XS7 ff. ; " Dc GcUh Puniifiaim 
Aaglonini," ed. lUmiUiw, Rolb, iti70t XVitliiun i«i;nu to luv« writwn 
bctTTCcn 1 1 14 and ■ 133 aad to have died t-h. 1 141, or shuitly oftvc. 

* "llcnnci ,\rchidaaconi lfanicndunci»i> lli^iotiu AnKlotum , . . from 
A.c. 55 to A. I). ii54."ei!. T. Aniold. KulU, 1X79. 8 va Hciii)' wril«s piUiCh 
noorc as a dil<itani« thin Witlinra of Malmetbuty; he M«m& t» <luii mainljr M 
pleaK bimKiri clcvcml vcc^i: writing ^Kcntiove, p. 177), W inlioducc* tnhii 
Cbronicle Latin pociiii of his own campoNlion. Ili» (hionntogy i* vague 
and (anliy. 

* '* De Annalo Maiiin c»tninefid»lo." " Uwia," vol. i. p. 354. 



already paints in colours. To please his reader, he sud- 
denly and naively says: "Now, I will tell you a story. 
Once upon a lime. . . ." But if he lias not been able to 
skilfully practice latter-day methods, it is something to have 
tried, and so soon recognised tlie excellence of them. 

In the thirteenth centur>' rose above all others Matthew 
Paris,' an English monk of the Abbey of Sl Albans, who 
in his sincerity and conscientiousness, and in his love for 
the historical art, resembles William of Malmesbuiy. He, 
too, wants to interest; a skilful draughtsman, "pictor 
peroptimus,"* he illustrates his own manuscripts; he depicts 
scenes of religious life, a Gothic shrine carried by monks, 
which paralytics endeavour to touch, an architect receiving 
the king's orders, an antique gem of the treasury of St 
Albans which, curiously enough, the convent lent pregnant 
women in order to assi-st ihcm in child-birth ; a strange 
animal, little known in England: "a certain elephant,'*' 
drawn from nature, with a replica of his trunk in another 
position, " the iirst, he says, that had been seen in the 

• "Mtllhsri Rwiderudt ... Chronica MBJom,"" ed. H. R. Lusrd, Rolli, 
l87afr->7voU.;" DUlork Angloium, <iv«utviiIgadi<nluilliiIi>TutMinof,''cd. 
Mailden, RoUsi i8d6ff.,3 vol^ Mactlicw vnu EduIuIi; hitsuniBineof " I*«iu" 
or " ihc Parisian " cnnDC, pcthnpt, ihai he had atudinl at ParK or pcchapi lh*t 
he helrnged to oniC of Ihr frmilio of Path which eiintfd ihen id Eogiand 
(Jeuopp, "StiiiJiM by a Kecluic," London, (893, p. 46). H« iras received 
into St ■ Alluni nioiiasti:f)rvn 1217, Lnd wu MntoDamiaaiouluKiiii; Ilaconin 
Nonrny in i2A^t- ir<:nn' I^'-i ■■ ""e*^ ItiiK '"'^ "n artist born. >«lutd him 
gr«*tty- Httliedin I2S9- Tlic nWein pnn of MaithowV chtonide ii founded 
Wpon the work of Roger de Wecdovet, anoilie* monk of St. Albans, who died 

■ So »fi WalnnKham i kc Maddcn't prcfact tu the " Hiatoria Angtoium," 
«oL iiL p. ilvtii. 

» MS- Nero D i. in Ihe Briii»h Muienm, fol. ai, 33, 146, 169, The aitri- 
tartnn rf theM drawingi to Matthew hat been c«ntette<l : (heir auihenltdtr 
■MH, hcnrweri probaWe- Se-f, timtra, Haidy, xoi. iii. of his " DesciipliTc 
t^mk^ue." See also the MS. Kcryal 14 C \\t., with majis and itinerarint ; a 
MMi Vlqpn oci a ihtDiie. with a monk at ha feel : " Fret' Malhiu Paricieniif," 
m 4 1 (m 4rtf«Tia> wttb many foldi, recalling Uioae in the album of Vlllatd 



country." * The animal came from Eg)'pt, and was a gift 
from Louis IX, of France to Henry III. Matthew notes 
characterUtic details showing what mannci-s were; he 
gives great attention to roreign aflairs, and aUo collects 
anecdotes, for instance, of the wandering Jew, who still 
lived in his time, a fact attested in his presence by an 
Archbishop of Armenia, who came to St Albans tn 
1228. The porter of the prx'torium struck Jesus saying: 
" Go on faster, go on ; why tarricHt thou ? " Jesus, 
turning, looked at him with a stern countenance and 
replied : " I go on, but thou shalt tarry till I come." 
Since then Carlaphilus tarries, and his life begins again 
with each successive century. Matthew profits by the same 
occasion to ^nd out about Noah's ark, and informs us that 
it was still to be seen, according to the testimony of this 
prelate, in Armenia." 

In the fourteenth century the most illustrious chroniclers 
were Ralph Higden, whose Universal History became a 
sort of standard work, was translated into English, printed 
at the Renaissance, and constantly copied and quoted ^ ; 
Walter of Hcmingburgh, Robert of Avesbury, Thomas 
Walsingham,^ not to mention many anonymous authors. 
Several among the historians of that date, and Walsing- 
ham in particular, would, on account of the dramatic 
vigour of their pictures, have held a conspicuous place 

* Vou 1255: "Miuniot in Anglisna <tQiditra clcphuqucm tcic Fiunconiai 
po magno muncie dcilii Te|[> .Ancllse. . . . Ncc crcdimut olivin unqiuun 
vimm )ui«e in Anglia." " Abtwewiaiio Cliiotiicurum," fallowing Hie " His- 
tohi Angl«riini'' In Mnddeci's rdition, vol. iii, p. J44. 

■ "Cbfcnie* Majoni," vol. iii. pp. 161 IT. The doty of CMbtphilu* wu 
■iKwJy ID KoE«r de WenJvvet, who wu al*o pcc*cnl is (be oionutcr; 
«ben ihc Armcaian Uilio]) came. The dciaiU on the aik oxr added liy 

1 " Poljf lii«nicon Rantilphi Hi);d«n, Dicm^chi OslKntii . . . wilh ihe 
EDgtbh itanaUiiuii of John Tieviaa," cd. Babingtoa nnd Lumby, Rall*i 
1865 ff.. 8 Tols. Higdcn died aboul 1363. Sec below, p. 406. 

* See below, p. 40J, 



in the literature of mctli.'eval England had they not written 
in Latin, like their predecessors.' 

From these facts, and from this ample, many-coloured 
literary growth, may be gathered how complete the trans, 
rormation was, and how strong the intellectual ties with 
Rome and Paris had become ; also how greatly the 
inhabitants of England now diffu-red from those Anglo. 
Saxons, that the victors of Hastings had found " agrcstcs 
trt pcnc illitcratos," according to the testimony of Orderic 
Vital. Times are changed : " The admirable Minerva 
visits human nations in turn. . . . she has abandoned 
Athens, she has quitted Rome, she withdraws from Paris; 
»hc has now come to this island of Britain, the most 
remarkable Jn the world ; nay more, itself an epitome 
of the world."" Thus could speak concerning bis country, 
about the middle of the fourteenth century, when the 

' A gfwil iMiiy othei £ng1ith chronielera wroie in Latin, nnd amoDg 
their oumkcr: Florence of Worcester, Simewn of Durhatn, FiUrtcphen. th« 
pteiido Ikuctlici ol Pcterborout;h, William uf Kcwburi;li, Roger dc Ilovnlen 
(d.a.b. imi) in thctHclfihcmioiy; Gcrvueof Cunleitrary, Radiitph dc Diccio, 
Kogei de Weodover, Kailuljih de Cojcgettisill, John of Qxcticde, Barihutannvi 
de Cotton, io ihe Ihiriwnih ( WEIIibtn Riihanscr, John dc Trokelow*, NicaIM . 
Tiircl, Kichartl <it CireiivcBtci. io [he luuiiccotb. A large oiiinbcc o 
clironicks »e Bnon7moii5. Most of those works have been puhlishrd by 
the Engliih Hiitorioil Society, the Society of Anliqunrin, and c>|>ccislly 
by the Xlnsief of ihe KoIU In the nwM ciil]«ction : " The Chrunicin and 
MeiDoiiaJs of Great Britain and IieUnil • . . ]»b1ishrd unilci the rfiretliMt 
of the Muter »f the Kolli," Luiidon, 1IJ57 fT., io piogtcu. Sec »Iw th«., 
*' DcKripUTc Catalogue of niKlc-iiaK relnliti£ la the Hblnry of Great Bril^g 
anil Irrhnit. tu the end of the Kigu ot Hemy VIJ." by Sit T. D. Hudy," 
Rolli, i*S; f J vols, 8vo. 

* The .v.L^>aat heiwecn the lime when Rtehtrd wrile« uid lh« days of lui 
youth, when he Kudicd ai r«riR, it caty to cxpbin. I'hc Hundrct] Voon^ 
Wu had beBun, and well cnuti) the huhop Kpeikk at the decay uf iiudio in the 
npital, "uhi t«puit, imrau fete Iriciiit zelui uhol« tani nobilis. cujub ollm 
ladii loctm dabant untveruk angulit orhii teme . . . Minerva mirabilii 
notiones livminum ciicuiic vidclui. . . . Jam Alhenu dctcruil, jmn a Konui 
ictxuii. jam Parlsius pcwterivit, jnin acl Dritanniam. insuluum iiui^i>utn*in, 
qnln potiut miciocoimmn accnxii fcliciter." " fhilobihlon," chap. ix. p. 89. 
[nth< Mmc word* nearly, but uiih n miitrary inicm, Count Coniinges, amba*- 1 

LA TIN. 203 

results of the attempted experiment were certain and 
manifest, that great lover of books, a late student at Paris, 
who had been a fervent admirer of the French capital, 
Richard de Bury, Bishop of Durham. 

sadot to England, assured King Louis XIV. that " the arts and idences some- 
tiiBss leave a country to go and honour another with iheir presence. Now 
they have gone to France, and scarcely any vestiges of them have l*een lefi 
here," April 2, 1663. " A French Ambassador at (he Court of Charles IL," 
1892, p. 305. 




English in the nneanwhile had survived, but it had been 
also transformed, owing to the Conquest. To the disaster 
of Hastings succeeded, for the native race, a perioil of 
stupor and silence, and this was not without some happy 
results. The first duty of a master is to impure silence 
on his pupils; and this the conquerors did not fail to da 
There was silence for a hundred years. 

The clerks were the only exception ; men of English 
speech remained mute; They barely recopied the manu- 
scripts of their ancient authors, the list of whose name* 
was left closed ; tlicy listened without comprehending to 
the songs the foreigner had acclimatised in their island. 
The manner of speech and the subjects of the discourses 
were equally unfamiliar ; and they stood silent amidst the 
merriment that burst out like a note of defiance in the 
litcratuTv of the victors. 

Necessity caused them to take up the pen once more. 
After as before the Conquest the rational object of life 
continued to be the gaining of heaven, and it would have 
been a waste of time to use Lattn in demonstrating this 
truth to the common people of England. French ser\'cd 
for the new masters, and for their group of adherents : Latin 
for the clerks ; but for the mass of " lowe men." who are 
always the most numerous, it was indispensable to talk 


English. " All people cannot," had said Bishop Grosscteste 
in his French " ChSteau d'Atnour," " know Hebrew. Greek, 
and Latin" — "nor French," adds his Enghsh translator 
some fifty years later; for which cause ; 

On Engli^ I-chul mi luun Khowcn 
Ffor him ihAI c<>n not i-knnwcii 

Nouiher Kleciicli ne Lalyn,' 

The first works written in English, after the Conquest, 
were sermons and pious treatises, some imitated from 
Bcdc, Ai\W\c, and the ancient Saxon models, otliers trans- 
lated from the French. No originality or invention; the 
time is one of depression and humiliation ; the victor 
sings, the vanquished pr^s. 

The twelfth century, so fertile in Latin and French 
works, only counts, as far as English works are concerned, 
devotional books in prose and verse. The verses arc 
uncouth and ill-shaped ; the ancient rules, half-forgotleni 
are blended with new ones only half understood, Many 
authors employ at the same time alliteration and rhyme, 
and sin against both. Tht- sermons are usually familiar 
in their style and kind in their tone ; they are meant for 
tlie poor and miserable to whom tenderness and sympathy 
must be shown. The listeners want to be consoled and 
soothed ; they arc also interested, as formerly, by stories 
of miracles, and scared into virtue by descriptions of hell ; 
confidence a^ain is given them by instances of Divine 

• " C»ii*l of lAve," " nafld* in the laiwr half of the Xllllh eenlnty," in 
Horvtmonn and Kurrinil, "Minor IWrnn of the Vecinjn MS.," luE.T.S-, 
1X93, Fui I. p. 356, »cc bcbw, p. X13. tiKMMiCBtc had said : 

. . . TmFtii ae poent mie 

Sawr le luiigngc en fin 

D'Ehrcu il* grill n« d* Uiin. {JUJ, p. 355.) 

* Among the collcciinnt of Kn^tiihtcniKini fiom the twelfth 10 Die fourtcemh 
cenlur;, KC "An OI1I t^iit-litli Miscellany," i^t. Mcinit, h^rly English T«t 
Socleiy, 1873, 8vo J pp- 36 ff. , » txuulitwa In Eoglish prow: of the thirteenth 



Like the ancient churches the collections of sermons 
bring before the eye the last Judgment and the region of 
hell, with its monstrous tormems, its wells of flames, its 
ocean with sc\'en bitter waves : ice, fire, blood ... a rudi- 
mentary rendering of legends interpreted in their turn by 
Dante in his poem, and Giotto in his fresca' The thpught 
of Giotto especially, when reading those sermons, recurs to 
the memory, of Giotto with hts awkward and audacious 
attempts, Giotto so remote and yet so modem, childish 
and noble at the same time, who represents devils roasting 
the damned on spils. and on the same wall tries to paint 

ceniuty nf luime of (he terniont ol Mouiice <lc ?ixA\f : p. 187, " a luiel mil 
kcrman '' xa verM, Willi gooH >dviM !o lovi-rt oveHond of " Malfkyn " AT 
" Jainkyn-"— " Old Eiijjliirli huiriilick uni] liixnilclic iicmtsiri ... of [lie 
Xllth uiil Xlllth ccnlurin," cd. Monis, E.E.T.S., 1S67-7J. a roll. Svo ; 
ptcae and verse (xprclmrni of mink in the iccanJ «ciici) : icvcra.1 of (hate 
pi«c«> wc mete ironscripii of An|[lo-Saxun wurkJi nntcriai lu [h« CoDquesi t 
p. IJ9, the famoiin ** Moral Odv," IwctDh «entufy, on ll)« TMniilon(i«w oflhu 
life; "Idi cm nil aldct thciic kh wcs," &c., in rhyiiieJ vcik jf/. "Old 
linj[lt),ti Miicdlnny," [>. 58, anJ " Arslin."!. p. 6).— "The Orniiiliini, with llie 
noiM and Klmutyof Dr. K. M. White." ed. K. Knit, nxftiid, 1878.3 roU. Sro, 
an immcnKc c<)m|iilaiiun in \-<tt>,t. <A whirh a |iart unly hax lieen prnerved, the 
work of Oimin, aji Aii^ cnnoii, iliirtrcnlh ccnluiy ; contain* ■ pars- 
phrue of the |jo6|iel of ihc Aa,y fallowrd bj'an cxplanaiory hcimoii ; </. Kapler, 
"NoieionOnottlnm" in "lliMot>of ihctldy Rood Tree." KE.T.S., 1891.— 
"Hall MriclenimO ... an ilItieruLite Iluiiiily of the XHIth ceniury," ed. 
Cocbsyre. E.E.T.S.. 1866, in pow— ■• Engli*h mMhcal HomUie*,'" ed. J. 
StDoll, Edinl>iir{;)i, i86l, 8vu, liotnilicii tncrr*[>eirtcil vrilh txemfiit, cum^ted 
ab. ijjo.— '' Rcli^oM pieces in prose and vcne." ed. U. G. Tttrj, E-E.T.S.i 
1867 ; iUlcnwnt in a »crm<in lijr John GajtfiRC. fouctcenth ccatury, tbat 
"onrr fiadife Ihe liywhope " liki pre««>tli«il to each member of hk clergy 
"opynly. one yriglysch? apnnir sornnndiyM, pr«chc Hud tedic ttuym (hnl thay 
hawciwcoff" (p. 3). 

' Senntm IV. on Sunday (iiniiaicd from Ihe Fraich) in Mnnis't " OW 
Knglitli Hojiiiliet," 1S67. Si. Taul. led by Si. Michael, at ihe nght of mmany 
lufienngs, wcf|H. and Clod contejiu ihnt on Sundays ihe condemned »oul* 
khsll ccu« to fculTcr. Thii legend wai one of the inoti jK^pular m ihc Middle 
Ak'-''': >t *'» '"Id in vcrae 01 piosc in Gicek, I^iin. Ficnch. English, Jtc. 
See Wan). " Caialotui- uf MS. Komantes," "rol. ii. iSfJJ, pp. jg? ff. : '■ Two 
venion* of thit vision existed in Gieek in Ibe fourth century." An Engliah 
metricnl viinoan ha« been ed. )>y lloralmann and rumivalt, "Mirtcrr ^>ein» 
ofihc Vernon MS.," E.E.T.S.. 1S93, p. jji. 


the Unseen and disclose to view the Unknown, Giotto 
with his search after the impossible, an almost painful 
search, the uppu^titc of untiiiue wisdom, and the sublime 
folly of the then nascent modem age. Not far from 
Padua, beside Venice, in tJic great Ilyzantinc mosaic of 
Torccllo, can be seen a last reflection of antique equani- 
mity. Here the main character of the judgment -scene is 
its grand solemnity; and from this comes the impression 
of awe left on the beholder ; tlic idea of rule and law pre- 
dominates, a fatal law against which nothing can prevail ; 
fate seems to preside, as it did in the antique tragedies. 
In tlic English sermons of the period it is not the art 
Torcello that continues, but the art of Giotto that 
begins. From time to time among the ungainly phrases 
of an author whose language is yet unformed, amidst mild 
and kind counsels, bursts fo^|^ a resounding' apostrophe 
which causes the whole suul to vibrate, and has something 
sublime in its force and brevity: " 1 !c who bestows alms 
with ill-gotten goods shall not obtain the grace of Christ. 
any more than he who having slain thy child brings thee 
its head as a glfl I " ' 

The Psalter, * portions of the Bible, 3 lives of 

' " Old Enicli^h bomilid aiiil tiunulelic ueaiUes ... of the Xllih aod 
XTlIih Ceniuiics." cd, with iriiujktion. liy R, Mortis. London, E.E.T.S., 

1867. 8V0, Tol. i. p. ]I). 

' Tbf Pwlfti w!i» tmn\Ule<l in(o Enj-liili, in wnt, in the second hfclf «f 
the thiitccnih century: " AjJgli)- Saxon ftad E^rly Enelisb Puiltci," S«nc«a 
Society, 184^-7. Svn : ihen in proK with » full coin memory by Kichard Rolle. 
of tlajnpule [on whoiti »ce beluw. p. 2t£) : *'The I'mliirt or th« PutlitHOf 
David," ed. Btaralcy. Oxford, 1I4S4. Siro ; ngain in protc. lowaid* 1317, by an 
Viotifva, wlio ha* Ijccn wronyly beiicrcil (u Ue William dc Shorehom, a monk 
of Leeds prioi7 ; "Thi: railicM English pnac Poller, laceihu wiili eleven 
Caniiclct," cd. Itulbring, E.1^.T..S., 1891. Thc^pvra peniteiJiiol [nttluiHwrw 
translated in veiie in ibe seconO half of the fourteenth ecntiiry by Richard of 
Maidnonf ; one ii in Hontmann and Funiiva]] : "Minor Poeius of tbe 
Vcmon MS.," p. n. 

» " The Sloty of Gencids and Exodus an catly Eiinluh SnnE," ah. rajo. 
«L R. Mcnri*. E.K.T.S., 1865 : shgnly befoie that date a itttWilniion in 
French proie of the whule ufthe Bible had been earn plelcd. 


SAfntV were put into verse Metrical lives of saints fill 
manuscripts of prodigious size. A complete cycle of them, 
the work of several authors, in which are mixed together 
old and novel, English and foreign, materials, was written in 
English verse in the thirteenth century : " The collection 
in its complete state is a 'Liber Fcstivalis,' containing 
sermons or materials for sermons, for the festivals of the 
year in the order of the calendar, and comprehends not 
only saints' lives for saints' days but also a ' Temporale ' 
for the festivals of Christ," &c.» The earliest complete 
manuscript was written about 1300, an older but in- 
complete one belongs to the years 1280-go, or there- 
abouL^ In these collections a large place, as might be 
expected, is allowed to English saints : 

Wolle y<e Bouthe i-hMre Ihit englitehe ule ' ihai it here i-wrile ? 

It is the story of St. Thomas Decket : "Of Londonc is 
fader was." St Edward was " in Engcland cure kyng " ; 
St Kcnclm, 

Kyng he wu id Bngelond ' of the march of Walla ; 

' Sm, t.g.y "The oAj SfiulhEtiglidi Leg«n<)ary or live* o( SiinU; I., 
MS. Ijuid, lOS, in (he BcHllcinn Libiary," cd. C IlnTttRiAnn, K»ily English 
Te»l Society, 1887, 8vo,— Furcii«ll, "Early EtiKlish Pnems ttod Live* of 
S^nii." BcrUa. PliiloEiigical Society. 1862. 8*q,— ■■Mnicrtab for ihe hbIoi7 
of Tlioniu BKket," «d. Rnlicrtson, KolU. 1875 (T.. 7 i-ols. 8to. — Several 
s^pantic iJTWof Sainw have Iwm puhlii,h«H by ihc E.E.T.S. 

* Kantuianci. " The mly Soutti-Ent;lisl] LccciiJaiy," p. viL The nine 
ittten<ls to publish o'hcr iexxs. and lo clotr the mitiii prohlcmt connected with 
t)icin : " Init it will,'* he uyn, " tequirc mace bcaiiu. Ihe hiaint of several 
gcncrAiioHE lo come, be/ore every ^u«ition relative to Ihii collectiait can be 
eloited." Ibid. 

> The latiet b the MS. Land loS in the BodlelAii, edited by HoiMnMnn ; 
the othn is ihc ftarlcian MS- 1177 '" <hc Dtiiiih Museum ; apecimciu of Its 
eontcnit have been gjivn \if Ktimlvall in hU " tarly English poems" (h/ 

St Edmund the Confessor " that lith at Ponteneye," 

Iboie be vru in Engclcmd * in ihe wud of Abyndon^ 

3t. Swithin " was her of Engclondc ; " St. Wulfatan, bishop 
of Worcester. 

W«5 here of EfiKclonJc . . • 
The while he wis &yanc chtlii' dciic lifhe liwlJr i-riouKti; 
Whenn*- oihw cfiildrm orncn lo plcyc ■ lowiirt churche fw drough. 
Scint Edwaid wn^ ^yifi tho ' that nuullic in ticovcne is. 

St. Cuthbcrt was bom in England ; St Dunstan was an 
Hnglishman. Of the latter a number of humorous legends 
were current among the people, and were preserved by 
religious poets; he and the devil played 011 each other 
numberless tricks in which, as behoves, the devil had the 
worst ; these adventures iii;tde the subject of amusing 
pictures in many manuscripts. A woman, of beautiful 
face and 6gurc, calls upon the saint, who is clear-sighted 
enough to recognise under this alluring shape the arch- 
foe ; he dissembles. Being, like St. Eloi, a blacksmith, as 
well as a saint and a State minister, he heats his tongs 
red-hot. and turning suddenly round, while the other was 
watching confidently the elTcct of his good looks, catches 
him by the nose. There was a .smell of burnt flesh, and 
awful yells were heard many miles round, for the "tonge 
was al afurc " ; it will teach him to stay at home and blow 
his own nose: 

Al god Ihe ichrvwe \^AM ibeo • tiom j-«ryt hi« n«M.' 

With this we have graceful legends, like that of St. 
Brandan, adapted from a French original, being the 

• f%aa\ M^. Kul. »77. in Furnivalt'a " Eftiiy Englbb poems," iS6>, 




story of that Irish monk who, in a leather bark, sailed 
in search of Paradise,* and visited marvellous islands where 
ewes govern themselves, and where the birds are angels 
transformed. The optimistic ideal of the Celts reappears 
in this poem, the subject of which is borrowed from them. 
"All there is beautiful, pure, and innocent; never was so 
kind a glance bestowed on the world, not a cruel idea, not 
a trace of weakness or regret."' 

The mirth of St. Dunstan's story, the serenity of the 
legend of St. Brandan, are examples rarely met with in 
this literature. Under the light ornamentation copied from 
the Celts and Normans, is usually seen at that date the 
sombre and dreamy background of the Anglo-Saxon 
mind Hell and it.s torments, remorse for irreparable 
crimes, dread of the hereafter, terror of the Judgments of 
God and the brevity of life, arc, as they were before the 
Conquest, favourite subjects with the national poeis. They 
recur to them again and a;;ain ; French poems describing 
the same arc tho.'ic they imitate the more willingly ; the 
tellings of the funeral bell are heard each day in their 
compositions. Why cling to this perishable world ? it will 
pass as " the schadcwc that glyt away ; " man will fade as 
a leaf, "so lef on bouk" Where are Paris, and Helen, 

■ In the fiu'r«lc lond huy wctcn " thai cvete tnighte boo. 
So dct nad >o Iie'i' >1 >vs* ' ^^^ iOf thuc wiu i'tiogh ; 
TniHi thore wticn fullc aflcuyt ' wd iliickc ci-ci-iKh bou£h . . ■ 
Hit wiicvcrc-roorc day: hcom ilioughlcanJ ncva-more nj'ght. 

life «f St. Brendan who " wu here of oure londe," in Konimuin'* " South- 
Englilh L«K™'''^0'i" P' ^^^ ^^^ b^*** " S'- ttramlsn, a ncdi^rial L^end of 
Ihe -Sm." etl. T. Wiiulii, Pciey Sodciy, 1844 ; Fr«ncisquc Miclid, "Left 
Voyages Metvcilltui deSl. BnntlaniilAtc(;lii;T(-ht:dii r>ii;tiliti»Tirure, l^endtt 
en vers do XIl*. Si^lc," Pnrifi, 1S7II : (/. " Niit i^p-iiuii lic U bnr(|ue dc Mad 
Duin," in d'ArboU d« Jubatnvitte's "L'Epop^ Ccliique «D Idnnde," 1893, 
pp. 449 tS. (niiorc p. I3|. 

* Kumn, " Euab dc morale ct dc criiiqiic," Tttria, i8l37, yA edition, ]x 


and Tristan, and Iseult, and C^sar ? Thcj* have fled out 
of this world as the shaft from the bowstring : 

Hea hooth igljrtlen nl of thv reyne, 
So the tdidt H »1 ibc clco.' 

Treatises of various kinds, and pious poems, abound 
from the thirteenth century; all adapted to linj^lish life 
and taste, but imitated from the French. The " Ancren 
Riwle,"' or rule for Recluse women, written in prose in the 
thirteenth century is perhaps an exception t it would be in 
that case the first in date of the original treatises written 
in English after the Conquest. This Rule is a manual of 
piety for the use of women who wish to dedicate them- 
selves to God, a sort of " Introduction i la Vic d*^vote," as 
mild in tone as that of St. Francis de Sales, but far more 
vigorous in its precepts. The author addresses himself 
specially to three young women of yt>od family, who had 
resolved to live apart from the world without taking any 
vows. He teaches them to deprive themselves of all that 
makes life attractive ; to take no pleasure cither through 
the eye, or through the car, or in any other way. He 

• By ThoBSM Ak HkIm, " Ineipit i^uWmm euitiu quern compomtil frater 
TiKiniM df Hfclcs." Thiiiiin* •!« n fticfHi of Adam dc MaTi»:v mil li«t!d id 
the thiriccntli cenluty. "Old ICnglixh MiftctlUtiiy," ed. Monis, E.E.T.S., 
1873, p. 94- 

■ The "Anctrti Riwlc," edited and iranslnicd by J, Monnn. Lnndoo, 
Cundm Society, iSjJ, 4I0, thidccnlh ccniuiy. Five MSS. have li««s 
ptcscrvBili four in Enslish and pnc in Laiiii, aUbrcriaied Itom Uic English ^. 
DnimlcUc'* oilL-lc in " Arjilla." ml. xv. p. 478). A MS. in Fraicti: " La 
Rnle d« rcromm rfligiciito cl rprlimc*," dmppnircit in Ihe fiir of the 
Cottoniftn l.ihrary. The Isitipt for wliom this liuok wra writien lived >t 
Tumni KaiiiM. in Dorset, where * convent for monks had liccn founded by 
lUlph dc Koines. BUD vfvnc ttf tlie cvnipttuon* of iJie Conijucror. ll is not 
impouihlc ihM ilic orieintil Imt was the French one ; French fngineais 
nbtlci in the F.nglish i-ci«ion. The jnonymom auihor hurf Ukcn much tmublt 
about thit wort;. " God knowi," he nyti, " it would be mare ttgreaible to 
me to dut on a journey lo ftotne than bf^n to do it again," A j-oumey to 
Rome was not then a pleasure trip. 



ftvCT rulers for getting up, for going to bed, for eating and 
for dressing. His doctrine may be summed up in a word : he 
teaches self-renunciation. But he doc£ it in so kindly and 
rtffcciionate a tone that the life he wishes his penitents to 
submit to does not seem too bitter ; his voice is so sweet 
that the existence he describes seems almost sweet. Yet all 
that could brighten it must be avoided ; the least thing 
may have Bcrious consequences : " of little waxeth mickle." 
Not a glance must be bestowed on Ihe world ; the 
youny recluses must even deny themselves the pleasure of 
looking out of the parlour windows. They must bear in 
mind the example of Kvc : " When thou iookest upon 
a man thou an in Eve's case ; tliou Iookest upon the 
apple. If any one had said to Eve when she cast her eye 
upon it : 'Ah! Eve, turn thcc away; thou easiest thine 
eyes upon thy death,' what would she have answered ? — 
' My dear master, thou art in the wrong, why dost thou 
find fault with mc ? The apple which i look upon is for- 
bidden me to eat, not to Itxjk at.' — Thus would Eve quickly 
enough have answered. O my dear sisters, truly Eve 
hath many daughters who imitate their mother, who 
answer in this manner. But ' ihinkcst thou,' saith one, 
' that I shall leap upon him though I took at him ? ' — <jOd 
knows, dear sisters, that a greater wonder has happened. 
Eve, thy mother leaped after her eyes to the apple ; from 
the apple in Paradise down to the earth ; from the earth to 
heil, where she lay in prison four thousand years and 
more, she and her lord both, and taught all her o^spring to 
leap after her to death without end. The beginning and 
root of this woful calamity was a light look. Thus often, 
as is said, ' of little waxeth mickle.' " ■ 

' P. S3- Moion'i mmtlatiun. The hcxinning of the qnoutbn runi thiu In 
iht origtnni ; " Hwomi htitde i«id la live iheo heo weqi hire cten theronci 
A', wend te aw-^i \ ihii worprsi ci^n a thi deaih ! Hw^i hct'cd heo i* 
on»weic<l ? M« Imve «irc, iherhnvcil *ouh. MwuorimlcnecBtu mc? Tbe 
eiiiKl iliii ■('h bke on U foibcxle me tu clcsct and iraut fono biholdco." 


The temptation to look and talk out of the window was 
one of tlic greatest with the poor anchoresses ; not a few 
found it impossible to resist it. Cut off from the changeable 
world, thty could not help feeling an interest in it. ^so capti- 
vating precisely because, unlike the cellular life, it was 
ever changing. Tlie authors of rules for recluses insisted 
therefore very much upon this danger, and denounced 
such abuses as Aeired, abbot of Rievaulx, re\'eals, as we 
have seen, so early as the twelfth century : old women, 
talkative ones and ncwsbn'ngers, sitting before the window 
of the recluse, "and telling her talcs, and feeding her with 
vain ne^^-s and scandal, and telling her how this monk or 
that clerk or any other man looks and behaves." = 

Most of the religious treatises in English that have come 
down to us are of a more recent epoch, and belong to the 
first half of the fourteenth century. In the thirteenth, as has 
been noticed, many Hnglishmen considered French to be, 
together with Latin, the literary language of the country ; 
they endeavoured to handle it, but not always with great 
success. Robert Grosseteste, who, however, recommended 
his clergy to preach in English, had composed in French 
a "Chateau d'Amour," an allegorical poem, with keeps, 
castles, and turrets, " Ics quatrc turelcs en haut," which arc 
the four cardinal virtues, a sort of pious Romaunt of tlie 
Rose William of Wadington had likewise written in 
French his " Manuel dcs Pcchiez," not without an inkling 

* "Vix alit^uBin incluunim liuju* temporis sokm Invcntea. ante cajiu 
f^nntrun non antii g»irut(t vcl niiciKcnib miilwr itcdni qiur tain ^ihului 
occiiprt.ruRioTiliiitauldctraclioiubui jilvuI. illiuiivrl illiuii mnnachi vel clerici, 
vcl uJtcriut «ijui.libcl oidiiiiK viri lormsni, vultum, morcvjue devrdliiil, IlLe- 
ccbioia quoquc inteiscrat, pudlariini Inncivium, vidiutrun), >{uiljut lilicl quid- 
quid litici, Ubi-riaictn, cxinjugum in vliis fallcniiu en pic nil initio volaptoiibus 
itslutiAin dtpinsal. Os intern in rim« cachinnosqac (Eimolviiur, cl vcncnuiti 
eutn iiU9*iut« bibilum per viBctni mcmbnujuc dillunditiir." " De vita ere- 
metiM Liber,'' <3p iii., UKlusinin cum cxiemii mu lien bun con Tabu U lion « \ 
ill Mi^nc't " Put[uluf;ia," vol. xiuii. col. I45t> Sec above, )>. i;j. Acttcd 
wrote (hb neat Ik ft! ibcicquai of m sister of hit, a *iiiei "carne ct ipiritn." 



that his grammar and prosody might give cause for 
laughter. He excused himself in advance: " For my 
French and my rhymes no one must blame me, for in 
England wag I bom, and there bred and brought up 
and educated." ' 

These attempts become rare as we approach the 
fourteenth century, and English translations and imita- 
tions, on the contrary, multiply. We find, for example, 
translations in English verse of the " Chfttcau "» and the 
" Manuel " 3 ; a prose translation of that famous " Somme 
des Vicc3 et dcs Vcrtus." composed by Hrother I^rcns in 
1279, for Philip HI. of Francc.a copy of which, chained to a 
pillar of the church of the Innocenta, remained open for the 
convenience o( the faithful*; a bestiary (in verse, thirteenth 

■ De le &snceii, ne del Timet 
Ne me dait nuU hom bloinet) 
Kar en Eiiglcierte fu nc 
E norri oidin* «t »lcv^. 

Fumivall, "Rob«dofSiunnc'>Handl]rnES]rnne,"&c., Roxbon^^^^o^i 'S63, 

4ta, p. 4I3- 

• French te«t of Ihe " Chilleiu " in Cooke, " Carmina Anglo-Normnnnica." 
I8j3, Caxtan Society; English vorrions in Honlmiuui nnd FumivatI, "Tha 
miimr Poem* of ihc Vernon MS.," natJy Kngliih Tcxl Sociely, iS^a, pp. 355, 
407 : Wcyinouih : " Cnsicll off Lov« . . . iLn cady KnEllnh tmn.tUlion of an 
old Fccnch puem b); Robert Gra»cle9it," PbilologioU Sodety, 1S64, 
4101 HuUlwdl, "Outle gf Love," Brixton Hill. i)i49> 4(0. See above, 
p. »05. 

■ The " Manuel <lc» Fcchici," by Willinm dc Wndinglon.asweU tathc Eng- 
lish [nclrir^l liaiulatian (a rerj' ficc one) wiiltcn in IjO] by Robert Mnnnyn)>, 
of BfunnE, Lincolii!.hiie {i;z&o?-ii40?), hane been eiliird by Fumivall : 
*' Hunttlyag Synnc," London, Rokbiirghe CUili, 1S63. 411}, conuin^ ■ naniber 
of Atoj/Jd nnd curious itorint. The ume Miinnj'ng wrote, ttirt Peter de 
l«nsta(l. an EnglishRum who had written in French (tee above, p. tax), and 
after Wnce, a mcitioil chrnnicle, fruni the lime of Noah down to Edward I. : 
" The Story of Fugland . . . A.D. ijjS," ed. Furnivall, KolU, 1887. j voU, 
8vo. He ii poMibly Ihe author of a tneiricnl meditaiion on ihe Last Supper 
imilsted frvm tiia contcraporii]' St. Bonavcntuie : " Mcililacyuns on Oie Sopn 
of our Lords," c<L Cowpcr. E.E.T.S.. i8?S. 8vo. 

* "The Aycnbilc of Inwyi or Remorse of Cooiclcnce, in the Kenliih 
Dialect, 1340 *. D., edited from ihc autoprapli MS.." by R. Morri*. E. E-T,S. The 


century), devotional writings on the Virgin, legends of the 
Cross, visions of heaven and hell ' ; a Courier of the world, 
" Cursor Mundi, " in verse,= containing the history of the Old 
and New Testament'!. A multitude of legends are found 
in the " Cursor," that of the Cross for instance, made out of 
three trees, a cypress, a cedar, and a pine, symbols of the 
Trinity. These trees had sprung from three pi|js given to 
Seth by the guardian angel of Paradise, and placed under 
Adam's tongue at his death ; their rairaculous existence 15 
continued on the mountains, and thcj' play a part in all 
the great epochs of Jewish history, in the time of Moaes, 
Solomon, &c. 

" Ay«nliite " U ihe work of Dan MichFt, o( Northgnle. K«nT. wti« )«tr>ngnl 
to "the IxKhoiiic uf Sjij-ct Aii*lirn'» of CViitef ben." Thi; anirk ilr.iU svilh llw 
Ten ComnMnJinc'iKt, ihc seven ^lea^y tins, infcirms lu ihni " ihc Kiihc 
nohlnsc rociith of the gcniy] hole . . . xtc to ttic bod}c; ntlr wc bycih 
children ai one mutlct, ihc^i i« of erihr " (p. S7). .Some of tlic chajiten of 
Loreni'i " Somme " were adapted by Chaucer in hii I'nnon's tale. 

' See In particular : " LegeiiiU «( the Holy Rood, s>inb*>la wf the Pi.unoa 
ftnd Cnus PucRi», in old Eii|;li»liuf iIil- Xlih, \IVih, saA W\X\ ccniuiics," cd. 
Morns, E.E.T.S.. 1871.— •' An (ibl Enetith Misccllnny cnnlnitiins n Ikstwry, 
Kentith letmum, ProvertK of Alfml and teLigioui jiopmii of ihe Xllfrh 
centnty," ed, MorrL*, E E.T.S., 1871.— "The religioui |M«fm» of William de 
Shcirtum," ed. T. Wrigiii, Pcrt-y Society, 1849, 011 Siirrsin<iit», coitimand' 
mcnts. ilcAilly sins, &e., first liulf of the founrrnth century. — '■ The Minor 
Poemt of ihe Vernon MS.," ci). Mnntinann and Fumivnll. tLl^.T.S., iSgi; 
coniaiiu a. ^uriety of )Mi«inii in ihe honour of the Virgin, piou* tajei, '*■ dix- 
pitiMn hiitwcene a good man and the dev^l," p. 339. meilitationj, laments, 
viiioD of St. Piiul, &c., of v«riuus nuthott and dates, mostly of tlic iliinccnili 
and foutlecnib ceniuric^. — On visimii of hcsvcn and hcU (visinn ai Si. Paul 
<A Tunda.1. of Si, lUiiick, of ThurkillJ, ajid on the Latin, Krencli, and linsliili 
lexis of several of ilicm, see Wuid, *' Catalogue ol Koiiiiinces," 1S9J, vol. ii. 
pp. J97 a. 

• "Cur»or Mundi, the cumi* of the world," ed. R. Moctw, E.E.T.&. 
1S74-9J, 7 V^^i coinpiltd ab. 1300 from the " Hbtnrui Eculniostica " oT 
Peter Comesior, the ■* fete de k Concepilio " O'f Wace, Uie *" Chlceuu 
d' Amour " of Cro»pl(sir, .^c. (Hacnisch " ln<iuiry into Ihe wurcct of Iha 
Cursor Mundi," ibiJ. part vii. ). The work ha* been wtongly attiibulcd to 
John of Lindbergh. See Morris's prclocc, p. xviii. C/. Napier, " lliatory of 
die Holy Uood Tiec." E.E.T..S., i8m (Eiifliah, Ijiiin, and French pioie 
texts of the CcoKi ie^ttiit). 



Similar legends adom most of these books : what good 
could they accomplish if no one read ihcm ? And to be 
read it was ncccssarj* to pkasc. This is why verse was 
used to charm the car, and romantic stories were in- 
serted to delight the mind, for, says Robert Maiinyng 
in his translation of the " Manuel des Pechiez," " many 
people are so made that it pleases ihem to hear stories 
and vcrsc!!, in their games, in their feasts, and over their 
ale" » 

Som«what above this group of translators and adapta- 
lors rises a more original writer, Richard Rolle of ICam- 
pote. noticeable for his English and Latin compositions, in 
prose and verse, and still more so by his character' He 
is the first on the list of those lay preachers, of whom 
England has produced a number, whom an inward crisis 
brought back to Gtxl, and who niamcd about the country 
as volunteer apostles, converting the simple, edifying the 
wise, and, alas ! alTording cause for laughter to the wicked. 
They are taken by good folks for saints, and for madmen 
by sceptics : such was the fate of Richard Rolle, of George 
Fox, of Bunyan, and of Wesley ; the same man lives on 

• For l*wde men y undyrtoke, 
On Enslj^wli wxvgt to ranLv ihys boke : 
For many ben of »wychc mnncir 
That tftlyK and rymyv wyl bid hly here 
Yn gunyi and («*tyi uid u Ihe tie. 

" RnliCTtl of Brunnp'» HtmllytiB Syiinc. wiiiicn a.d. 1303 wilh . . . Le Mitnurt 
dn PcchiM by ^YjllU1^ of WmliiieLon." cd. Fuinivill. London, RoxtHirghF 
Ovt>, 1S61, 4to, Prologue, p. 2. 

* T>i«>c exist Lalin and Englixh I«kI« of his work*, the latter Mng 
gmcralty cuiiidcTcil u tnLiiitUiiocis lUiiilc by blmxlf. Hii> |)rindpal cumixit]- 
lion b Ma j>itm; "The Trickc of ConKicrce," cil. Morris. Philttlngtoil 
Socicrly, l86j, Svn. He Wfnic aim a priMH- lron«lalitin of " The Pallet," wtlh 
■ commentary, «d. Ilramley, Oxlord. \VAi„ 8vft, and bI«o " Engliih VvMt 
Trtotiiej," ed. G- C. Pwrj-, E-E.T.S-, 1866, Svo- Mi»H of his workt iii L>|in 
have been collceicd andn ihc ritic : " D, Richanl) r«iniii>liunl Aiiglo-Saxoni» 
crcmilv ■ ■ . Pnllctiuni DBvidicum alciuc nlu . . . Munumcnia," Cnloene, 
1536, fol. 


through the ages, and the same hace^^ ^"^ «• k* « 
once blessings and ridicule. 

Richard was of the world, and »e=w «iA w^m Hr 
had studied at Oxrord. One dtvfae kAUaMa'vliac 
in order to give himself up to a 
that time he mortifies Iviinsdf. ht 
tempted ; the tlcvil appears W Imb 
beautiful young womaci^ wha he tefli ■ viih 1^ tediv 
than we are accustomcii to from tun. * fcmj ■> ag a Ijujg 
with good love." ' But thoujfh tlic wkhed oar Sumt Um- 
self in this case even more wklced thaa v^h St Dmsm, 
and Rolle has no red-hot toiig* to toffimn Wai imwf, Kill 
the devil is again worsted, aod iW ^veotm ckU m il 

Rollc has ecstasies, he 9iijhs and p»»rM; pw,ptc fta» 
to visit him in his solitude, he ii knoA writin? ^^ 
•' scribcntem roultum velocitcr." He b ttquefled to ^ 
writing, and speak to his viulon; he uiitj ru jj,^ ^ 

continues writing, " and what he wrote riiffofti 

from what he said." This doplicalion d the r,-.- 
lasted two hours. r^^i* 

He leaves his retreat and gnti aji ^^^ j^ 
preaching abnegation and a return tt'i'hnt* - "^ 
settled at Hampolc, where he wrote hit b*^ ^"^ 
and died in 1349. HaWrg nf» tl-ivU *s^' *'*' 
day be canonised, the nutm f»f j ^f\-^ 
caused the office of his fcast^jy j,^^^ ^^ 
ofhcGv which was never sutig y lUfc^ ^^ 
hoped-for dignity, is the main *" 

concerning him.* 

' " Wlitn I f*"'! UltefEiny lyumij^ 
and 1 beganne urarc w iwn («,[ i^ 
my teste, in ibe IfCgjnnynEt nf mtt 
iaire yonge WDmanc, ihe whillj* | ^ ■ 
noght ly in] in gonk lufe " " fi^ 

• " Oflicium At &hnt\t, VHt^ __ 




His style and ideas correspond well to such a life. His 
thotights are sombre, Germanic anxieties and duubts re- 
appear in his writings, the idea of death and the image of 
the grave cause him anguish that all his piety cannot allay. 
His style, like his life, is uneven and full of change; to 
calm passages, to beautiful and edifying tales succeed bursts 
of passion ; his phrases then become short and breathless ; 
interjections and apostrophes abound. " Ihesu es thy 
name. A I A ! that wondyrfull name ! A ! that dclitta- 
byllname! This es the name that es abowve all names. 
... 1 ycdc (went) abowte be Covaytysc of riches and I 
fandc noghte Ihcsu. I rane be Wantonnes of flescbe and 
I fand noghte Ihcsu. I salt in companyes of Worldly 
myrthe and I fand noghte Ihesu. . . . Tharefore I tumede 
by anothire waye, and I rane a-boute be Poverte, and I 
fandc Ihcsu pure, borne in the worlde, laid in a crj-be and 
lappid in clathis."' Rolle of Hampole is, if we except 
the doubtful case of the *' Ancren Riwle," the first English 
prose writer after the Concjuest who can pretend to the 
. title of original author To find him we have had to 
come far into tJic fourteenth century. When he died, 
in 1 349, Chaucer was about ten years of age and Wyclif 

honour of the taint : " Rejaioe, molher counliy tA Uic English ! . . ." 

Leieiui felix Aogloruin pauta . . . 
Faiig« tingiiit gnicioai Kicitdi preconium, 

Fii, puii. p>ccio«, fugienlU viciam. 

" Englbli Prose Tiwtisc*," pp. »v end »vi. 

■ " English Prt)»c Iraiiiies." pp. [, 4, 5. Cf. Rolle'i Latin text. ** Nomini* 
letti encnmloD": "O bonum iioinen, o diik< romen." ftc. In " Rtehudl 
PftDipolittni, . . . M unit me nia," Cologne, 1536, foJ. adiii. At the Mine p*C(^ 
tlu iiMy ti the young worean. 



We are getting further and further away from the Con- 
quest, the wounds inflicted by it begin to heal, and an 
audience is slowly forming among the English race, ready 
for something else besides sermons. 

The greater part of the nobles had early accepted the 
new order of things, and had either retained or recovered 
their e^ tatcjs. Having ratlicd to the cau^ of the conquerors, 
the>' now endeavoured to imitate them, and had also their 
castles, their minstrels, and their romances. They had, it 
is true, learnt French, but English remained their natural 
language. A literature was composed that resembled them, 
English in language, as French as possible in dress and 
manners, About the end of the twelfth century or begin- 
ning of the thirteenth, the translation of the French 
romances began. First came war stories, then love tales. 

Thus was written by Layamon, about 1205, the fift 
metrical romance, after "Beowulf," that the English liteia- 
ture possesses.' The vocabulary of the " Brut'* is Anglo- 
Saxon ; there are not, it .secm-s, above fifty words of French 
origin in the whole of this lengthy poem, and yet on each 
page it is easy to recognise the ideas and the chivalrous 
tastes introduced by the French. The strong will with 

' **Lay«DDon*» Brul or Chronicle of Briisin. a pocLical S«mi-Saicon par*- 
phraM of the Bnil of Wiicc," cd, hy Sir Freri. MadfJcn. London, Socieiy ot 
Antiquorie*, 1847, 3 voIk. 8vr>.~fy. ^^'ard. " Caiak^c of Romance." voL i. 
1J83 ; •* Many ioipoitant addiliont are nind« 10 Wnce, but ihcy >«ecn to be 
moitljr d«rii'ct3 (lum Wcla!itnLilicio)M,"p. 369. Wmc's '*GeMci!eiBic[oni,"oc 
" RooiftH dc Itrul," writirn io [155, wns cd. by Lctonk de Lincy. Rouen, 18 j6, 
3 vols. Sva Cf. P. Mcjcr. "Dp (]iiHe]U« CJiioniiiiim Angb-NdnrRndel 
«(oi oni port* le nom de Brui," Bulletin Ae k Stideic iIm Aiidctu Tctim 
fnn^is, 1S7S. Laysi'ioii, »oii of L«jvciiailh, lin;<l »t Eintcy, now Lower 
Aikyi on Ihc Sncrn ; lie u»cs sunictime) Altitcraiton and Mmclimc^ rhyme in 
bis vcnc. The MS. Cott. Oiho C idii contniiwa " jomcwhai modemiiiil " 
veraon of Layunan't "Bnit.~ lute Ihiiieciith of euily rourtcenih crnlury 
(Ward, iM.). On Lsjraffion uid his work, bm •< Anglia," L p. 197, and ii. 



His style and ideas correspond well to such 
thoughts arc sornbrc, Germanic anxieties and 
appear in his writings, the idea of death and lU 
the f^rave cause him anguish that all his piety i 
His style. like his life, is uneven and full of 
calm passages, to beautiful and edifying talcs sue 
of passion ; his phrases then become short and 
interjections and apostrophes abound. " Ih< 
name. A I A I that wondyrfull name I !\ ' 
byll name ! This es the name that cs ab^ 
... I yede (went) abowte be Covaytyse ol 
fande noghte Ihcsu. I rane be Wantonnes ■ 
I fand noghte Ihcsu. 1 satt in companv 
myrthe and I fand noghte [hesu. . . . Th«i 
by anothirc waye, and 1 ranc a-bowte be 
fande [hesu pure, borne in the worlde, laid 
lappid in clathis."! Rolle of HampolL* 
the doubtful case of the *' Ancrcn Riwii? ' 
prose writer after the Conquest who c, 
, title of original author. To find bir' 
come far into the fourteenth ccntiiri 
in 1349, Chaucer was about ten year- 

honour of ihe «int ; " Rej^Jce, mother country < 
Letetui fclix Angtanun p«tr; 

rii, puri. predoii, (aslctitk 

" Englisli rroiie Treatises," p|>. xv and xvi. 
' '■ Engtiah Prose Treaiiiw,'" pp. 1, 4, J. 
lesu encomion": "O bonuin nomcn, o < 
Patnpoliuni. . . . Monumcnu," Colog&f, 
the Hoiy «r the yonag w4>in«n> 


- ; ; an example of a speech added 
mciiides his account of the battle 

. mnrs fu Colgrin 
^ en aJa fuiant.* 

rjgni^ed the ferocity of the primitive 

tt^-ks as well as those of the northern 

c Patroclus to Cebrion when he fell 

unot, " with the resolute air of a diver 

i.iJiji' the sea." 

1 1 rinslations and adaptations soon 

'jtui, metrical chronicles, like the one 

the end of the thirteenth century by 

((•r,3 are compiled on the pattern of the 

'ij use and delight of the English people ; 

p« are also written in English. The love 

Iventures, and of the books that tell of 

pt liitle by little into the hearts of these 

icconciled to their masters, and led by them 

rtd. The minstrels or wandering poets of 

nie are many in number ; no feast is complete 

r music and their songs ; they are welcomed 

lialls ; they can now, with as bold a voice as 

!».• nifra, v-o]. ii. p. 476, The original text (printed in short 
11 ^iwi here in long onm) ruas thus ; 

flu lnh Ailhur - the allhi^k king, 
>iir| thiis ycddicn agon * m\A gotnmenfulle worden: 
lea nu there Colgriri ■ thu were iclumben haghe . . . 
riiu f ItmiNc i. ihi^eti htilie ' Monder ane hxghe, 
- *uli: (Km wolilest 10 hRvene ■ nu thn scall to hxWt ; 
riicr ihu mihl kcrnne ' inuchi.' of thine cunne, 
And grel Ihu lh«i Hengcsl ■ the cnihien wes fayerest, 
Elji&sa in& Os^ ' Ocla ai^d cj~ thine cunne ma, 
AhA bide heoiTi thei wunit? ' wintres and sumercs, 
And wt; i^culkn on londi: - libben in blisse. 
ioniaii de Brut," vol. ii. p. 57. 

Rotwrt, ^e above, pp. 117, 133. On the sources of his chronicle, 
ifflttfT, " AngU*," yoL !u pp. ! fi, and agi ff. 



their French brethren, bespeak a cup of ale. sure not to be 
refused : 

Al the bcginniiiK of ure ulci 
Fil mc a cuppe of ful Eod "-'e. 
And jr nilr ilrinkcn her )' tpelle 
Ttut Crisi u« shtliJc ill fro htlle I ■ 

They Stop also on the public places, where the common 
people Hock to hear of Cliarleinagne and Roland"; they 
even get into the cloister. In the thirteenth and four- 
teenth centuries, ncarlj- all the stories of the heroes of 
Troy, Rome, France, and Britain are put into verse; 

fVi hero lh»t knowe no Frciwchc ■ dc never iindcrtlon.' 

"Men like," writes shortly after 1300, the author of the 
" Cursor Mundi " : 

Meo l^kyn j««tiB for to here 

And ramam tcJe in divcrx iDoneFC 

Of AkAandrc (lie conqucTourc. 

Of Julius Ceur The «irifieiou[«. 

Of Cfeet! ancl Troy ihf srrflng Wfyf 

There mony b man lost hik lyf, 

Of Rtutc that liarun bold uf hond. 

The fust (nn<|uciuurc of Eii|[lciotl, 

Of Kyng Anour. . . . 

How Kyng Chulin aitd Rowlnnd fd«^ht 

Wtih l^atiyns nold tliFy \x cawjjhi. 

Of Tfjalicm «titi ImjuiIc llic iwctc. 

How they with love tini Kan inctc . • ■ 

S'oiic* of iliv«rre Lhynpiji*, 

Of pryncU, prektit und of kyttg^ 

Many tur^git uf divvra ryinc, 

Af English I'Vcnth and Laiyne.' 

> '■U,rofHav«lok,"ed. Sknl, E.E.T.S.. 18OS. end of ihuOrenOi century, 
J). I. 

■ On wuderldK miii«U«b uid jongleurs, tc* " En|;IUh Wftyfiuing Lifc,* 
B,, chop, i., and below, p. J4S, abo^-c, p. 163. 

* ■* Koinsnce of William iif Pak-rnc. tmiulaled from the Fnnch at Uu 
oornmond of Sir Humphrc)- de Bohun, ab. 1350," ed. Ske*t, E.E.T.S., 1867, 

««i. 1. 5533- 

* "Cunor Mundi," cd. Motrin, pan v. p. 1651- A luge number of 
EnglUh medisn-al ruuianccs will be found amor^ the pubUcaiiou of the 


Some very few Germanic or Saxon traditions, such as 
the itory of Havelok, a Dane who ended by reigning in 
England, or that of Horn and Rymcnhild,' hi* betrothed. 
had been adopted by the French poets. They were taken 
from them aj^ain by the English minstrels, who, however, 
left these old heroes their P'rench dress : had they not 
followed the fashion, no one would have cared for their 
work. Goldborough or Argcntillc, the heroine of the 
romance of Havelok, was originally a Valkyria ; now, 
under her French disguise, she is scarcely recognisable, 
but she is liked as she is.* 

Some English heroes of a more recent period lind also 

Euty Engluh T«xi Sueioiy {including among oihcn : Ferumhras, OlucI, 
lluon of Uurdcux, Chmilcs the Uick, l-'our ijt>ni of Aycnoa, Sii Bcvii of 
Hamton, Kinc Horn, IlKTclok ihc Dane. Guy at Warwich, l^lllinm of 
P«lcinc, Gcncriilo, Moric Aithuec. Lonelicti'& Hisiuiy of ihe Iluly (trail, 
Jowph of Arimalhii;, Sir Gnwunc nnil ihr Gr««n Knight, &c.), itie Cnmd«n 
*ntt lh« PcKy Sodeti«t, the Koilnirghe and the llinTuitjrni! <?lutHi. Some iili« 
hnvcljccn p\i1)liili«<l by Kolbingin his " Allennliichc UiliJiolbclt," Ilcilbiono ) 
ly H. W. WcbiT: ■' Medical K«marii;cs of llw Xlllih, XlVlh nml XVth 
ccmurict." Etlintturgh, cSto, 3 voU. 8vo, &c. Sec lUo H. L. D. ^Vsnl, 
"Oitaliigue of MS. Ruttinncrci in llie HriliKh Muxcum," 1S83 tT. 

• " King Horn, wih F»a(jmentt of KJori* and Bldunchcflur, and of th« 
A»«»iiiplwno(OurUcly.''c.l. Kawion Lumljy, E.E.T.S., i884. 8vo. "lloin" 
1> pfiflited rram a Cambridge MS. of the thiitccnili century. A French mcltical 
Wrioo of thh KOiy. wrillcn by " Thoma* " itbout 1170, was «diteil by K. 
Birde and E. Slcnjjd : " Dm AngtnniitnianiiiKirhL- l.icil voni wack«rn Uliler 
Horn," Mir toii»(t, iSBj, Svo ; "Hie mi de U&rr bonomilite." Conceniinij 
"Horn." :sci: WmJ, "Cutalugucof Konuumv/'i. p. 4471 '* An^lia," ii-. p, 342; 
" Romania,'' iv. p. S7S (on Mlick liy VV, Siidcrhjclm, shuwinc ihat the 
Thoinasof "Tiiiii(ui"«nd ihe Thonuw of "Hom"are nol th« Mmc man). 

■ Anuthrr tign of k Soindituvian origin coiviiitH in tbe HaDic that coniu out 
of ilic moiilh cf tiAvcIok tl oig)i[,iint] bctrnj's hit r^yiil irrigin. TticcvunU 
Mkc place at r.inrnln, Grimilty, luiH in Dcnmuk g ilic seal of Griiiiiby en- 
gn^-ed in the ihincciuli cculury rcptMcnu, Itcnides" Habloc" and "Golde- 
burgh," "Gryein," iht iounrtM of the town, and Mipposed father of lh« 
beni. Gainwi, the rhiuniclLT, wiote in ticoch vcne ihv Atity il Havetolc, 
and we ttavc it: " L« L-oi d'Havcjix: le Donois." in llofdy and Martin 
"LcRorie dci F.n^lcs," Holla, 18KS, vol L p. 290. The Ktiglbh m[, 
"Ha»elok the Dune." ed. SUeai. E.E.T.S.. 1868. wa* ptobubly wrillen 
beiw«en 1196 and tjoD(vc Ihe letter M J. W. Hnlct to tho Atkmauit, Keb. 
aj, lW9)i9^. Watd**"Ui«l<.euc,"L p. 413. 




a place in this poetic pantheon, thunks again to French 
minstrels, who make them fashionable by versifying 
about them, [n this manner were written, in French, then 
in English, the adventures of Waltheof, of Sir Guy of 
Warwick, who marries the beautiful Felice, goes to Pales- 
tine, kills the giant Coibrant on his return, and dies piously 
in a hermitage." Thus are likewise told the deeds of 
famous outlaws, as Fulke Fitz-Warin, a pnitotype of 
Robin Hood, who lived in the woods with the fair 
Mahaud," as Robin Hood will do Utcr with Maid Marian.* 
Several of these hemes, Guy of Warwick in particular, 
enjoyed such lasting popularity that it has scarcely died 
out to thi^ day. Their histories were reprinted at the 
Renaissance; they were read under Elizabeth, and plays 
were taken from thetn ; and when, with Dcfoc, Richard- 
son, and Fielding, novels of another kind took their place 
In the drawing-room, their life continued still in the lower 

» "Cuyof WRnirick."cd. Zupiiw, E-E-T-S.. 1875-91 |f/. Wird'i "Oiu. 
logiie of Kom^ncn," i. p. 471). " All the Middle Engiwh venioiH ar the oi C«y of W«rwict tir lniii»l»lioiiB from the French. , . . Tl* 
I-'tcnch rom&ncc wnsdonc into [English kcvccb] iJuirh. Wc posse&s the whole 
otcomiilrnihlc fincnimi.'iof, ulcui. Tour diAcrcnc Middle English vcnioo* " 
(Zupilta't PitrTace]. 

* Pari nf ihc advenlurei nf Fulk« lirlon^ to hUtary j }iifi rebellion aetutlly 
look place in laoi, Uik iloiy wo* lold in ■ Kicnch poem, written before 1314 
unci tamed inlu prutc licfuic 1 jw Ithc ie:il, thout^h in ^'^tnch, Lt tcmaikabic 
for its BiTong EnElish bias); in English poem uit ilie Hnie subject u losL 
(WartI, "Cnialnguc nf Rnmanrn,," i. ]i[i. 501 (T.) Thn veninn in Fnii>cli 
pioitc ha» been edited by J. !ite|>hen*on, with hit Kalph dc Coggdhall, Rolls, 
'^5t 1>- 377> "»^ l>y Moldud and d'UcricAuli in ihcit " N'ouvdici en pnnt) do 
(liiacurmiiit; Siidc." t^iii, 1S58. See alio iht life uf ibc outlaw Heicwaid, 
in Latii), iwplfih cenmry : "'lie G*Mis lletcwnidi SnicinH," in the 
*' Chroniqim Anglo -Normaiidw," of K. MichH. Rotici*, t!i3&-40, vol. iL 

' It is pOBublc l)uLl KoW Uuod cxi&icd. in whitli cute it tccint prubaUc l» 
li»«d under Edward II. " The Mnrics chni are told nimuc him, however, had 
nlmogii all l«cn previoitily loUI. cuincclcd with the nam» uF uthet otiClam 
such as Hereward and Fulke Fiiz-Worin.' Ward, " Catalogue of Komanccs," 
i. pp. 517 ff. He -urai the her" crif inftiiy stmgH, fioin ilip fouElecntb century { 
oiwt of ihcnc we Is^e bcloijg, however, 10 the tixtecnili. 


sphere to which they had been consigned. The)' supplied 
the matter for those popular (Map becks ' that have been 
reprinted even in our time, the authors of which wrote, as 
did the rhymers of the Middle Ages " for the love of the 
English people, of the people of merry England." Englis 
ilde of meri In^eland.' 

" Merry England " tjecame acquainted with every form 
of French mirth ; she imitated French chansons, and gave a 
place in her literature to French fabliaux. Nothing could 
be less congenial to the Anglo-Saxon race than the spirit 
of the fabliaux. This spirit, however, was acclimatised in 
England : and, like several other products of the French 
mind, was grafted on the original stock. The tree thus 
bore fruit which would never have ripened as it did, 
without the Conquest. Such are the works of Chaucer, 
of Swift perhaps, and of Sterne. The most comic 
and risqu/ stories, those same stories meant to raise 
a laugh which we have seen old women tell at parlour 
windows, in order to cheer recluse anchoresses, were put 
into English verse, from the thirteenth to the fifteenth 
century. Thus we find under an English form such 
stories as the tate of " La Chienne qui pleure,'*3 "Le Ui du 

' On tlic ininifornuuicjCK of Guy of Warwidi anil icpmcntationi of him in 
diap bookt, tee " ICogtinti Niivd in Ihc Timt; of Shakcipecire," pp. 64, jja 

■ " Cunor Mundi," i. p. 31. tyi Banhutomew ihe En^ liii"Dc 
PfOpricbitibus Rerum," boak xv. , chap, xiv., thu« lianilaled by Trrvna : 
" EngloDiic it fullc of myrltic uid of gfttne umI men oft tjrmct kble l« myrth 
and e>inc, fiee ni«n nf hitxc an-d with loneur, bin ihc hondc U more bcllCT 
and more ftrc ihan the Wiiguc"— " CaL acieut miJiiiitce bien en ce chapilte 
t\<a'i\ fut Angtois," obu^rvci with some tpite Coibichon, the French ttuulator 
of Barlhokiinew, writing, il lk true, iluring the llundrcfl Vcnrt' War. 

1 English i«i: "Dame Sirii" in Th. Wiighl. " Anccdoln Lilentris," 
London, 1844, Svc, p. 1 ; and in Goyheck and Maiinct, " AltenEliKht 
Sprachprobcn," Berlin. 1867. p- ICJ- French text in ifie " Cmtuiebenl d'un 
pin k ton lilit." Barbuan and M^n, " Fablinuii," vol. ii. The Engliih cm 
b«l»ng» to the end o( the ihirleenth ccntuiy, and Ihc Dlorjr i* locaU»ed in 
England; menlian u made of " BoiollVion,'* othciwiK, Su Boiolph cgt 
Boston. Sec abtnc. p. 154 ; on a JrainatiMlioti u( tlw sioiy, tec below. 
P- «7. 

16 . 



Cor,"* " La Bourse pleine de sens," ' the praise of the land 
of " Coqiiaignc.''3 &c. ; 

Thugli jKuradis be miri And bfight 

Coka/Kn u of fairiT sight . 

What is ther in paredi* 

But grutc anil flure itnd gtcne m (bianthts) ? 

Thogh ihcr be joi bih! eitic dote (plra*ure) 

Thci iiii ini'Ie bole Iruie . . . 

Elot wxiir fDiuik thv)r«tr lo <)ti<f>i?h(; | 

ttnth ihi^i no man Init lwi>, 

1 Icly And Kncik oIm 

And it cannot be very pleasiint to live without more 
company ; one must feci ** elinglich." But in " Cokaygne " 
there is no cause to be " elinglich " ; all is meat and drink 
there ; all is day, there is no night : 

Al U dai, nil iher nn nighic, 
Thex ah liartt (ijuartelj noihei utii . . . 
The^ nil man no wommiui wroth, 
Ther Bb Kipcnt, wuU nu fox ; 

< Slory of a drinking hum (tatn wtiicti hmlxtndk wiih railhleiu wiv«a cannot 
'Jrink wiihoui spilling ihv cuniriils. Arthur invites his knights lo try the 
experiment, and is not a liiil« surpriiccd to lind that tt turns agnintt himttU. 
Ficnch text -. " I^ lai du Cor, tcitittitidH critique," by F. Wulff, Lund, 
tSSS, 8vo, written by Hubert Bi(|u.ct in ihi; twclflli ccntuiy ; only one MS> 
(caiiied la England) has been prctcrvcd. English lexi : " Tbe Cukwiilda 
Datinre." rrom a MS. of ibc liltn-nth ecniuty, in Hulitl't " Rrmaint of 
the early popular puclry at Unjjlnnd," I^ndan. 1S64, 4 vf>l£. Xvo, rol. i. 
P' 35- ^/- ^ "Mantel Muutaill^." in Montai(;lan aotl Raynaud, " Rccuei] 
General," vol. !ii., and ''I^ Coupe Efidifuitjc." by Ia Fontaine; 

* Frrnch text : " De pleine Itout>e de Sens," by Jean Ic Galois, lo Moq- 
Iftiglon and Rnynitud, " Kecueil fi^n^l," vol. iii. p. 8!I. Knglioh text: 
"lltiw & Mctchande dyd his wyf* betray," in Hoilitl'* " Kcnatn*" (W 
mfra], vol. i. p. 196- Of tlic muie sort aic " Sir CU-gei " (Wcbci. " Melrtca] 
Romuicei." iSio. vol. i.), ihc " Tste of the Bn^yn " (in Hftrlshomc. " Aoacnt 
MetritRl Tain." I.rmdon. 1829, p. 202). » labliau, probably derired from a 
French nrigiual, etc. 

' EiiglUh lenl : '■ The Ijind of Cakaygne " (end of the rourtcenlh Matuiy. 
iccnis lu bnTc been originally eompvacd in (he thirteenth), in Goldbeck and 
Manner. " Altemtiiiiir Sprachpiol>en." Bcrlm, 1867, lari i.. p, 147; alw 
in Fuinlvall, " Early English Poetnn," Berlin, 1S61, p. tj6. French ton 
in IU[l>a/an and M jaa, " Fnbliaux," vol. iii. p. 175 : " C«st li Fabliau* dc 


no storm, no rain, no wind, no flea, no fly; there is no 
Enoch nor any Eltas to he surt; ; but there are women with 
nothing pedantic about them, who arc as loving as they 
are lovable. 

Nothing leiH Saxon than such poems, with their xcmi- 
impiety, which would be absolute impiety if ilie author 
seriously meant what he said. It is the impiety of 
Auca.'isin, who refuses (before it is ofTcrcd him) to enter 
Paradise: "In Paradise what have f to win? Therein 
I seek not to enter, but only to have Nicolctc, my 
snxct lady that I love so well. . . . But into Hell 
would I fain go; for into Hell fsire the goodly clerks, 
and goodly knights that fall in harness and great 
wars, and stout mcn-at-armis, and all men nobtc . . . 
With those would [ gladly go, let me but have with 
mc Nicolcte, my swccte.'it lady." ' We must not take J 
Aucassin at his word; there was ever froth on French! 

Other English poems scoff at chivalrous manners, which 
are ridiculed in verse, in paintings, and sculptures'; or at 
the elegancies of the bad parson who puts in his bag a 

■ "Aonuin and Nlcolci«." An<ii«w Imi^* tnnilation, Lonrlon. 1887, 
p. la. Thv Fien«h original in vtK-e nnrl ^ose, a (aiue/ah!e, belongt lo tht 
Iwclfth cenluiy. Text in MuUnd and d'llfncauli, "Nouvclks fmnfiaiict 
en proK, Hii irtitii-inc \\fx\t " (the cdiinni wiQn|;1)' (efcKcd " Av-ounin" li> 
lint century), Vat'\%. 1K56. i6mo. 

' Knighu me reprewnied in many M5S. (rl Engtiih make, lighting a|;itinct 
buitciDio 01 tnoilt, and undciEoing the cnugl ttdiculviu ci^-rknccs ; for 
eumplc. in MS. 10 E li. and 2 B vii. lu ilic BiJi'ith Miucuni, caily fourtccoih 
ctniuf^' : ihc caiicaiurisU derive iheir idea* [mm (-icnch tatcx written in deiitLim 
of kniglllhoad. Poeim; with itirumr abject were cotnpuied iii En|[lLih : oneol 
■ l»lcr dale ha» been piacrred : " The Tumament of Totenhsm " {H.iilitl's 
" Kemaina," iii. p. 83} ; the cluiD(iian» o( the luuincy an Engliih aiiiMiu : 

Ther hoppyd Hawkyn, 
Ttiei dtwnud tlawkyo, 
Ther inimpyd Tj-mkyn, 

And all weie tnie dijnkcn. 


comb and " a shcwcr " (mirror).* Other poems are adapta- 
tions of the "Roman dc Rcnart."' The new spirit has 
penetrated so well into English minds that the adaptation 
ii sometimes worthy of the original. 

A vox gon mil nf ihe wod* ga, 
Afiogrel (huogeied) «o ihftt him wet w»j 
1[« I1C3 (ae wriu) nevcre in. nunc wi»e 
Afingcet cr-oui (licforcl hiiirM><i«iihGi 
M« Tw hocEd nnuthct <rcy nr ultcle. 
Far liiin wei luMi men to iuel« ; 
Him writ IcTvtc meten oner hen, 
Ttwn hftlfon oumlicd wiinawn. 

But not a hen does he come across ; they arc suspicious, 
and roost out of reach. At last, half dead, he dcoircs to 
drink, and sees a well with two pails on the chain ; he 
descends in one of the pails, and finds ii impossible to 
scramble out: he weeps for rage. The wo!f, as a matter of 
course, comes that way, and they begin to talk. Though 
wanting very much lo go, hungrier than ever, and deter- 
mined to make the wolf take his place, Kenard would not 
have been Renard had he played off this trick on his 
gossip plainly and without a word. He adds many words, 
all sparkling with the wit of France, the wit that is to be 

■ lie pnneih in hys paw-lcner 
A kachjrr uid n cumb, 
A ibewcT and a cnyf 
To bynd wi!h his lokn, 
And ralyl on Ihc lowbyUc 
And in non oiher Uika 

Nc mo ; 
Mawgrry have the bpshop 
Thai Ul byt so goo. 

" A Poem on the limeB of Ldtvard 11.," cd. Hudwick, Perey Societ)-. 1849, 
p. 8. 

' " TTic Vo« oxiA Wolf," lime of Edwaid I., in Maimer, " Alienifliidhe 
Sptaefcproben." B«rlin, 1867, par i. p. 130; sl*o in Th. Wri^lil, " Lilin 
Stotin," 1843, p. xvi. Thia itory of the advcnlure in the well fmuM Brand) 
IV. «f the Fiencli lent, Munin' " Rumaa de Rcnan," Sirasboure, i88t. 
vol- 1. p. 146. 


inherited by Scapin and by Figaro. The wolf, for his 
part, replies word for word by a verse of Orgon's. Renard 
will only allow him to descend into the Paradise whither 
be pretends to have retired, after he has confessed, for- 
given all his enemici — Renard being one — and is ready to 
lead a holy life, Yscngrin agrees, confesses, and forgives ; 
he feels his mind quite at rest, and exclaims in his own 


Et je vemis raourir Xxixt. enhnti. m^re ec femme. 
Que je ra'«n Mvdnsit aMtont que de edit. * 

fThc wolf goes down. Renard goes up ; as the pails 
meet, the rogue wickedly observes : 

Nou ich am in dene live, 

Nc Tccchc ich o( cbilile ne of wive. 

Ac ich a.m ilieiorgl&d and blithe 
That rhou nit tirnnen in elene live, 
TU soBl-CBDt fkneil) ich wile du ringe. 
And nuMe for Ihitic sodIc sinEe. 

But he considers it enough for his purpose to warn the 
monks that the devil is at the bottom of their well. With 
great difficulty the monks draw up the devil, which done 
they beat him, and set the dogs on him. 

Some graceful love tales, popular in France, were trans- 
lated and enjoyed no less popularity in England, where 
there was now a public for literature of this sort. Such 
was the case for Amis and Amiie, Floire and Blancheflcur, 
and many others.^ As for chansons, there were imitations 

• T«lufe,i.6. 

' "AmU and Amiloun," cd. Kolbine. Kcilbrann, 18S4. 8ro, French and 
En^tUb leitK, in vetie. French Icil in pioK, in MoUiid und d'Hciiciult, 
•'No««ltes . . . duXtll*. Sitcie," 1856. i6nio.—Fr«iicli Int of" Floire" In 
EdeUtuid d« Meril, " Poeme* du Xlll'.Si^clc," Paris, 1856. EnglUh text : 
"Florb and BbuncbcDur, mittelcngliichci Gedichi au« detn 1 J Jahrhundert," 
ed. Kitiukncchi, Berlin, 1885, 8vo \ we also [.uniliy, " Hotn . . . with fras' 
mcnia of Florli." E.E-T.S.. 1886. The popularity of this mlc i* shown bjr 
the ^aci itet foui or ^c ditftient veisiane o( it tn tlnglith hate cumc dpwn to 
iul—Lajti \fj Marie de France wttt ilto tnuulaled into Ecgtith: " Le Lay Ic 



of May songs, "dJsputoisons," ' and carols ; love, roses, and 
birds were sung in sweet words to soft music " ; so was 
spriny, the season of lilies, when the flowers give more 
perfume, and the moon more light, and women are more 
beautiful : 

Wyntincn waxcih wonder proude^ 

Their beauties and merits arc celebrated one by one, as in 
a litany ; for, said one of thoM: poct», an Englishman who 
wrote in French : 

Beaut^ tic fcmme pa»e rose.* 

Frcioc," In vciic, of llic bcginntng ol the founemih cenlury. Eii£)i>h Int in 
"Anglia." vol. Hi. p.^iSl "Sir Launinl," hy Thomu Ch«tre, nftMDih 
century, in ** Riifton's Metrical Kuniance*,'' t803. 

' tvampUsc-l "«strif&." deUtMor **<ii«puioi»ons"i " The Thniili uid the 
NiehliriEaic," on ihc merit* of wumen, time of Edward I. (with a liile in 
Flench: "Si comcnce Ic cunicnl pni cnlre Ic nuiuvit ct In ruulnole"); 
"The Ilclnte nt ihe Cupentet'x Tooli" (Irolhin Harlill'i; "Remains." xtt\. I. 
p. 50, and i. p. 79); "The Debate of ihe Hodj- and the Soul " {Mniinee't 
" Allcng'ischc Sj-irachjimlioii," jiarl i. p. 90I, wine luhjcct in French vcr»«, 
thiitccnth ccntui)', " Monumcnta Frariciscaiia," vol. i. p. 587; "TIii; Onl 
and the Nichiirtgak " (e<J. Sicvcnwn, Roxburghc Club. 1838, 4to)> Thu laki, 
unc o( the ■smM cJiuratierisiic uf all, belongi lu the thirteenth century, and 
conHi4t« in a debate Ixiweim Ihe two hiriJscnnctrning iheir T«;pi-ciiv« rnerita; 
tlicy arc very l>cariicd, and quote Alfrcd'a proverbs but they ar? not very well 
brtd, and come almoit to inaulli Mid blowi. 

' Liutii» uf luvc : 

IiOvc it nclc, love i* wn, love i* geddcde. 
Love is III, low is Jcth, &c. 

Th. Wright, "AMCdota Lii«taria,' London, 1S44, Sva, p. 96, limr of 
Fdwaid I., imitated from ihc " Cbaaloicmonl d« Dimes," in ElorbuAO and 
Mecui vol. ii. 

* Th. Wright. " Spccimccm of l.yric Poetry, competed in England in the 
reign of Eitu-aid I,." Vttcf Society, 1S43, Svo, p. 43. 

' They wrote in French, Ijiin, and EnglJah, naing u>me6m«i the three 
languages in the umc non)*, lomclimc* only two of thctn 1 

SciilM luce caimina in ial>uli» : 
Mcin u^iel eit en mi la «ilc de Parii : 
May y suggc naniot«, u> wel me b i 
Vef hi deyc for love of hire, d u«l hit yc 

Wtiehi, " -Specimen* of Lyric Ptxtry," p. 64. 


. In honour of them were compo«icd stanzas spangled 
with admiring epithets, glitterintj like a golden shower; 
innumerable songs were dedicated to their ideal model, the 
Queen 'of Angels ; others to each one of their physical 
charms, their " vair eyes" • and their evert " gray y-noh": 
those being the colours preferred ; their skin white as 
milk, "soft ase sylk " ; those scarlet lips that served them 
to read romances, for romances were aloud, and not 
only with the eyes ' ; their voice more melodious than a 
bird's song. In short, from the time of Edward II. that 
mixture of mysticism and sensuality appears which H'as 
to become one of the characteristics of the fourteenth 

The poets who made* these songs, charming as they were, 
rarely succeeded however in perfectly imitating the light 
pace of the careless French muse. In reading a great 
number of the songs of both countries, one is struck by 
the difference. The English spring is mixed with winter, 
and the French with summer; England sings the verses* 
of May, remembering April, France sings them looking^ 
forward to June. 

Blow noTtluTne njnd, 

Seal thi>u me mj' suctyrg, 

Bluw, norxlicrnc w^nJ, bkin, bluu, f>loa I* 

says the English poet. Contact with tne new-comers had ) 
modified the gravity of the Anglo-Saxons, but without \ 
sweeping it away wholly and for ever: the poisibility of ' 

* Fcmtnn porleni Sea oyli vcyn 
E rvgttiiJcQt cwiuc E«UMiUD> 

T. Wrighl, '• SpedmecB," p. 4. 

* iico hath a muiy mouih to mck, 
Wilh lefly rwlc lippca Itlc 

Rnnuaoi fonc ic<lc 
Hid., p. J4. 
) Ibid., p.}]. 


recurring sadness is felt even in the midst of the joy of 
" Merry England." 

But the hour draws near when for the first time, and in 
spite of all doleful notes, the joy of " Merry England *' 
will bloom forth freely. Edward III, is on the throne, 
Chaucer is just bom, and soon the future Black Prince 
will win his spurs at Cr^y. 




In the course of the fourtecnih century, under Edward III. 
and Richard II., a double fusion, which had been slowly 
preparing during the preceding reigns, is completed and 
sealed forev-er; the races established on English ground 
are fused into one, and the languages they spoke become 
one also. The French are no longer superposed on tlie 
natives ; henceforth there arc only English in the English 

Until the fourteenth year of Edward III.'s reign, when- 
ever a murder was committed and the authors of it remained 
unknown, the victim was /*-r'wrf /<»■(> assumed to be French, 
" Francigcna," and the whole county was fined. But the 
county was allowed to prove, if it could, that the dead man 
was only an Englishman, and in that case there was 
nothing to pay, Bractmi, in the thirteenth century, is very 
positive; an inquest was necessary, "ut sciri possit utrum 
interfectus Anglictis fuerit, vel Francigena." ' The Anglkns 
atid the Francigtna therefore still subsisted, and were not 
equal before the law. The rule had not fallen into disuse, 
since a formal statute was needed to repeal it ; the statute uf 

' " De Lcgibu el Contuetudiniliui Anglicc," book iii. troaUe ii. diap. xv. 
(Rolb, vol. ii. p. 3S5.) No line if ihe defunct 15 Eniclikh ; " Pro AngliooiCTO 
el de quo conttari puuil quod Aiigl'cui «(, non dhbitui murdrum." 



1340, which abolishes the "' prcscntemcnt d'Isngleschene," ' 
thus sweeping away one of the most conspicuous marks 
left behind by the Conquest, 

About the same time the fusion of idioms took place, 
and the English language was definitively constituted. At 
the beginning of the fourteenth century, towards i3( i, the 
text of the king's oath was to be found in Latin among 
the State documents, and a note was added declaring that 
" if the king was illiterate." he was to swear in French » ; it 
was in the latter tongue that Kdward II. took his oath in 
1307 ; the idea that it could be sworn in English did not 
occur. But when the century was closing, in 1399, an 
exactly opposite phenomenon happened. Henry of 
Lancaster usurped the throne and, in the Parliament 
assembled at Westminster, pronounced in English the 
solemn words by which he claimed the crown: "In the 
name of Fadir, Son and Holy Gost, I. Henry of Lan- 
castre, chalenge yis Rcwnic of Yngland."3 

During this interval, the union of the two languages had 
taken place. The work of aggregation can be followed in 
its various phases, and almost from year to year, In the 
first half of the century, the " lowe men," the "rustics," 
rurales /wmiNfs,zrQ still keen to Icam French, satagunt- 
pwrii Mtsu ; they wish to frenchify, /ranajrenare,* them- 
selves, in order to imitate the nobles, and be more thought 
of. Their eflforts had a remarkable result, precisely for the ■ 

■ " Suiuin uf ilic Realm," 14 \-A. III. chap. 4. 

■ " SI roc facril littcniut, [nl» CKt. . . . Fnnna jursmcntl s\ R» non fijCltt 
litlcnilus : Sire, vaLlci vdui. icntuiiict ci (^nlci . . . Ics leyt el lei cihiuium . . 
tec" "Suiuic^t ofihe Uealm," ittb nnne ijii, vol. i. \i. 168. 

* *' Rululi PadiamenlDiimi ," v<>I. lij. ^ 433 ; scr bclvw, \>. 431. 

* RB^i'ti llic^cn, " Pulychidnkon" (^olMi v^1' >■• P- ijS. " Hkc i)ui<lciB 
BUrw lingux corrujilic) ptiivcrnil hcHlic mulliim ex dunhiu qund viilclicct tnini 
in nollx cuniia inucvtii c.ri«aTuiii iiaiionum. a pilmo NorniaDiioium M)'«ntii 
iJcNiiciO pinprio vulgan, conMrucn; gnlllcc compclliifitur ; ilcn quod fiUi 
nolMUum al> ipii> cunabulntum crepundii.i lul gollicum idii'mn inlormaniur. 
Quibu* ptiifuctu luiatci tmmiiies a&iiiiiilari votentes ui pet hoc spcctatMliotci 
vidcantiii, fiAncigcnaic bitagunt omiii nnu." 



reason that they nei'Cr succeeded in speaking pure French, 
and that in their ill-cleaTed bruiri't the two languages were 
never kept distinctly apart. The nobles, cleverer men, 
could speak both idioms without confounding them, but so 
could not these rwm/«. who lisped the master's tongue* 
withdifliculiy. mixing together the two vocabularies and the 
two grammars, mistaking the genders, assigning, for want 
of better knowledge, the neuter to aki the words that did 
not designate beings with a sex. in other words, strange as 
it may seem, creating the new language. It was on the lips 
of *']owe men'' that the fusion first began ; they arc the real 
founders of modern Knglish ; tlie "French of Stratford-al- 
Bow '■ had not less to do with it than the " French of Paris," 
Even the nobles had not been able to completely escape 
the consequences of a perpetual contact with the ruraUs, 
Had the^e latter been utterly ignorant of French, the 
language of the ma.ster would have been kept purer, but 
they spoke the !*rerch idiom after a fashion, and their 
manner of speaking it had a contagious influence on that 
of the great. In the hest families, the children being in 
constant communication with native servants and young 
peasants, .sjKikc the idiom of France less and less correctly. 
From the end of the thirteenth century and the beginning 
of the fourteenth, they confuse French words that bear a 
resemblance to each other, and then also commences for 
them that annoyance towhich so many English children have 
been subjected, from generation to generation down to our 
time : the difficulty of knowing when to say mon and ma — 
" kaunt dcwunt dire nnoun ct ma " — that is how to distin- 
guish the genders. They have to be taught by manuals, 
and the pnpularity of one written by Walter de Bibles- 
worth,^ in the fourteenth ceiiluvy, shows how greatly such 

* "A volume or Vocabuluics, from ihc Xlh in ihc XVih Ccmury," «1. 
Thoncs Wrichl. I^aiidon, 1857. 410. pp Ui ff- f'cc aUo P. Mc>cr. 
** RooMDlB," *al. iiiii. p. 50a. 



treatises were needed, " Dear sister," writes Walter to the 
Lady Dionyse de Montchensy, *' I have composed this work 
so that your children can knowthe propertias of the things 
they see, and also when to say mon and ma^ ion and sa, U and 
la, mot andy>." And he goes on showing at the .same lime 
the maze and the way out of it : " You have la Sevre and U 
iiivre ; and la livre and le Hvre. T\\clh)re closes the teeth 
in ; U liivre the woods inhabits ; la livre ii used in trade ; 
le livre is used at church." * 

Inextricable difficulties ! And all the harder to unravel 
that Anglo-Saxon too had gcnders.cqually arbitrary, which 
did not agree with the French ones. It is easy to conceive 
that among the various compromises effected between the 
two idioms, from which Engljah was finally to cract^e, the 
principal should be the suppression of this cumbersome 
distinction of genders. 

What happened in the manor happened also in the 
courts of justice. There French was likewise spoken, it 
being the rule, and the trials were apparently not lacking 
in liveliness, witness this judge whom we see para- 
phrasing the usual formula : "Allez a Dieu," or " Adieu," 
and wishing the defendant, none other than Xht bishop 
of Chester, to "go to the great devil" — " Allez au grant 
doable."" — ("'What,' said Fonocratcs, "brother John, do 
'you swear?* 'It is only.' said the monk, ' to adorn my 
speech. These are colours of Ciceronian rhetoric'") 

• Vus avet la Icvcrc el le le^-cre 
E la lirere el k liv«c, 
L« leveH ti encliMit let deiu ; 
Le Icvrc en boy> k (cat dcdenii 
La lircie sert en tnnrcliaunilye, 
Le liveie mn en <ieyni ogllic. 

* ApoMtophe nf judiri; John dc Muuliray, lUitet temdan. 44Ed.III., 
" Ve»r bivikB «l Edwinl 1.," ed. Horwood (RdiaJ. 1863 (T., ^-ol. i. p. «ii. 
Judge Hcngtum inter rupti n Mtmsel, laying; : " Uo nat inierpret the tUtvie in 
jroui own *»)■ ; we Lnifw it bellcr than yuii, Ux wc mmdc it " — "' Ne ifloscc 
p^i Ic VMM ; Dous le tavomt mciic dc vaus, (jar nou* le reimo." liiJ. 




But from most of the speeches registered in French in the 
" Year-books," it is easily gathered that advocates, ser- 
jtaHts as they were called, did not express themselves 
without difficult}-, and that they deliverc<l in French what 
rhe>' had thoiight in English. 

Their trouble goes on increasing, In 1300 a regulation 
in force at Oxford allowed people who had to speak in 
a suit to express themselves in " any language generally 
understood." * In the second half of the century, the diffi- 
culties have reached such a pitch that a reform becomes 
indispensable; counsel and clients no longer understand 
each other. In 1362, a statute ordains that henceforward 
all pleas shall be conducted in English, and they :ihall be 
enrolled in Latin ; and that in the English law courts 
"the French language, which is too unknown in the said 
realm," " shall be discontinued. 

This ignorance is now notorious. Froissart remarks on 
it; the English, he says, do not observe treatie-s faith- 
fully, " and 10 this they are inclined by their not under- 
standing very well all the terms of the language of France ; 
and one docs not know how to force a thing into their 

■ "Ckmh modoet idjoinnle quocunque Dommuniter tntirUigibili faclum pro- 
ponent." " Mttnimrnta Arjkdfmlca" (KolU), p. 77. 

* " Put cc qc monstrc ot Muvunlcfuiu &u Rvi pu pi^Uu, du*:>i, counta. 
bainni el tootc la rnmniune. Ic» gr«n(( uirschicf* ^ic soni Brivcniii ii pliiwiuis 
du tnlnie tie cc qc Lex leyci, cusiumci ct atntuii du dii Tealmt^ ii.c lonc fw* 
coDUt communtment «n iiiMni« 1« t«dnic, )^ar cauiir q'iU Hont pleiifr, monMrct 
ct juygcr. en 1iLng« Franeci* q'ctt Irop dcwonuc en ilil italmc. is*int <)« lc» 
grnti qi plcJcni »a soni cniplcdcx co let couiii: Ic Koi ci Ics cvunt d'autrc* 
n'imt ciitciidrmrni nc coniuancc He oe q'ni dii pot culi ne cunitt culx par 
lout u!qi«aiili el autre ^ledouri . . ." thil li«iiccrrottt) all plftuls " Miieiil 
pl«d«u. monUreti, dffenduE, mpondu*, <{« battue cl juggM en la langccngl«iw 1 
(t 4'>t» «»ienl cnlreci ct cntcnillcr en latin." 36 Ed. III., tAaX. i. chaj>. I J, 
"StBlute* of ihc Rrnlm." In »iiilc of ihae atranectnenls, ihe ncoaunts nf itic 
pleu conlinned to he iTonKfilicd in Kitnch inio ihc " Year- book*,"* of which 
i«v«r«l have bfeii published in the colleciion of the Miit«t of lh« Kcjlli. 
Wriiing aboiil the yxar Ijoo, the author (if the Mirrcit of JuMiiw had tiill 
uaile choice <A French aa being the ''lansuage bcit understood l)]r yov and 
the common people." 



head unless it be all to their advantage;," ' Trevisa, about 
the same time, translating into English the chionicle o( 
Ralph Higden, reaches the passage where it is said that all 
the country people endeavour to leam French, and inserts 
a note to rectify the statement. This manner, he writes, is 
since the great pestilence (1^49) "sumdel i-chaungcd," and 
to-day, in the year 1385, "in allc the gramere scoles of 
Kngclond. children Icveth Frenschc and conatructh and 
lerneth an Englische." This allows them to make rapid 
progress ; but now they "conneth na more Frensclie than 
can hir (Ihcirj lift hecie. and that is harme for hem, and 
(if) they schulle passe the see and travaillc in straungc 
landcs and in many other places, Also geiUil men haveth 
now moche i-lcft for to teche here children Frenschc."' 

The English themselves laugh at their French ; they arc 
conscious of speaking, like Chaucer's Prioress, the French 
of Stratford-at-Bow, or, like Avarice in the " Visions " of 
Langland, that " of the ferthest end of Norfolke." 3 

There will shortly be found in the kingdom personages 
of importance, exceptions it is true, with whom it will be 
impossible to negotiate in French. This is thu case with 
the ambassadors sent by Henry IV., that same Henry of 
Lancaster who had claimed the crown by an English 
speech, to Flanders and France in 1404. They beseech 
the "I'aternitatcs ac Magnificeiitias" of the Grand Council 
of France to answer them in Latin, French being " like 
Hebrew" to them; but the Magnificents of the Grand 

■ " Chroiiiqucs," cd. Luce, vol. i, p. 306. 

■ "roljrchmnicon " (Roll*), vol. ii. p. IJ9 (conbtins ihe Latin tesl of Higden 
and the EnglUh irantlailan o(Trcvtu). 

1 Anil I can no Fieiiche in fcith ' but of the fcrthm cnde of Kaifullic, 

" Visions," cd. Skcat. icxi B, pa»stu v. line 239, The MS. DD 13.23 ol 
Ihe UnJvcrsiiy Library. Cambiidee. cuiitaim "a ireniixe on French con- 
jugntiont." It iloeii tint runii»h any uKrfiil Lnfortuailun u re];at(U Ihe hm€»y 
iif French cnnjUEiilian* ; " il ti-n only icrvc la t^how h»w (^rcut u-ai the c<m- 
niption of cuxcnl French in. England in the (oiulecnih ccntuty." P. McfCt, 
■'Rcmanta," vol. xv. p. 162. 




Council, conforming to a tradition which has remained 
unbroken down to our da)', refuse to employ for the 
negotiation any language but their own.' Was it not still, 
as in the time of Brunetto Latini, the modern tongue most 
prized in Europe ? In England even, men were found who 
agreed to thi*. while rendering to Latin the tribute due to 
it ; and the author of one of the numerous treatises com- 
posed in this country for the benefit of those who wished 
to keep up their knowledge of French said : " Sweet French 
is the finest and most graceful tongue, the noblest speech in 
the world after school Latin, and the one most esteemed 
and beloved by all people. . . . And it can be well com- 
pared to the speech of the angels of heaven for its great 
sweetnew; and beauty." » 

In spite of these praises, the end of French, as the lan- 
guage " most esteemed and beloved," wa* near at hand in 

■ The unbMtadon urc : "Thonui Sw^n^d. mitct, ciuloi Mstri villx 
Calisii e[ Nicholaui de Itjnhcioon, niriusqiie )urU proroaor." They ulDiit 
(Ittt French ii the lanuuacc of treaii>«!i ; Im! L*itn wiu used by St, Jerome, 
They write to Ihc duchew of Burgundy : " Et c|tiamvii ircugie genrnln inter 
Anf-liftni ct yranuUm per Damina* «t Principes (cmporalet, videlicet duces 
I-iincutTUc e( EI>onKt nccnon Buturix wt Burnundix, booK tnetnonK, qui 
pcrfccic lion inicllciefuiu UUnum licut Gnllicam, dc conictuu coninulctn 
expitwo, in Gillico (ucnini eaptx ct ftrmalx, liltcrx utnen muttw tJtro 
citfoque tram-miux . . . cunlinuc cilia in I.alinii, tanijusni iiliomnle cummmii 
«l vulgari extitcruni formatK 1 quae <>iniiu habtrmua pi.rala Mlendcrc, excmpla 
Bcati Iciuniiui . . •" In im wise louchcil by (bti cumiplc, the French reply 
in ihcir own Ungutge, and Ihc amtntsjidors, vexed, urhnowlcdgc ibc irceipl 
of [he Icltei in antncwhiii undiplonvniic tcnnii : " Vettiu littcnu icripta* in 
CallJCO. nobis iniluciis lunijuam in idiuTiiaie Hebraico . . . redpinaus Calisii.'* 
*' Royal and IliMorical I^ttMt," ed. Hinge*(on, 1860 (RolU), <n>l. i. pfi. 35? 
■nd 397< A diiciuuoii ti the Mme kind lalto place, with the Mine («>ult, 
under LouUXIV. See "A French Ambatawkir at tlie Coiutof OuuletlL," 
p. 140. 

■ " Difiilt ftnn^ifi qu'ni la plus bcl ct la plut gracinue langunge el plui 
noble pAfter, apt^ latin d'e«cale, qui Mit ou monde, el de lotu gens mteuU 
pciaje el amec (]ue ou] autre. ... II (>eul bieii coiiip«rcr au pallet <lcft aiii^cU 
du ciel, pour la grant doulcctir el biauli^e d'icel." " \a maniiie de Lan- 
gage," cocnpoced in 1396, ut Bury St. Edmund'*, ed. Paul Meyer, "Revue 
Critique," voL x. p. jSa. 




England Poets like Gowcr still use it in the fourteenth 
century for tlieir ballads, and prose writers like the author 
of the "Croniqiies de London "' ; but these are exceptions. 
It remains the idiom of the Court and the great; the Black 
Princtr writes in French the verses that will be graven on ^ 
his tomb: these are nothing but curious caftcs. Better 
instructed tlian the lawyers and suitors in the courts of^ 
justice, the members of Parliament continue to use it ; but 
English makes its appearance even among them, and in 
1363 the Chancellor has opened the session by a speech 
in English, the first c\-er heard In Westminster. 

The survival of French was at last' nothing but an 
elegance; it was still learnt, but only as Madame de 
Sivigmi studied Italian, " pour entrctenir noblesse" 
Among the upper class the knowIed{;e of French was a 
traditional acconnplishment. and it has continued to be 
one to our day. At the beginning of the sixteenth 
century the laws were still, according to habit, written 
in French ; but complaints on thi» score were made to 
Henry VIII., and his subjects pointed out to him chat, 
this token of the ancient subjection of Kngland to the 
Normans of France should be removed. This mark has 
disappeared, not however without leaving some trace- 
behind, as laws continue to be assented to by the sovereign 
in French : " La Reinc le veut" They are vetoed in the 
same manner; "La Keine s'avisera"; though this Iast| 
manner is less frequently resorted to than in the time of] 
the Plantagcnets. 

French disappears^ It does not disappear so muchi 
because it b forgotten as because it is gradually absorbed. 
It disappears, and so docs the Anglo-Saxon ; a new 
language is forming, an offspring of the two others, but 
distinct from them, with a new grammar, versification, and 

* Mid>)l« of the fourteenth century, cd. Aungier, Cunden Society, 1884^ , 



vocabulary. It !es8 resembles the Anglo-Saxon of Alfred's 
time than the Italian of Dante resembles Latin. 

The vocabulary is deeply modified. It numbered 
before the Conquest a few words of Latin origin, but not 
many ; Ihcj' were words recalling the great works of the 
Romans, such as street and Chester, from strata and ceslrum, 
or else words borrowed from the language of the clerks, 
and concerning mainly religion, such as tHynster, tempei, 
iisceop, derived from mQnastrriitm, templnm, episcopus, &c 
The Conquest was productive of a great change, but not 
all at once ; the lan^ages, as has been seen, remained at 
first distinctly separate ; then in the thirteenth, and especi- 
ally in the fourteenth century, they permeated each other, 
and were blended in one. In 1205, only fifty words of 
Latin origin were found in the sixteen thousand long lines 
of Layamon's " Brut"; a hundred cari be counted in the first 
five hundred lines of Robert of Gloucester about 1298, and 
a hundred and seventy in the first five hundred lines o^ 
Robert Mannyng of Brunnc, in 1303.' 

Aa we advance further into the fourteenth century, the 
change is still more rapid. Numerous families of words 
arc naturalised in Kngland, and little by little is constituted 
that language the vocabulary of which contains to-day 
twice as many words drawn from French or t^tin as from 
Germanic sources. At the end of Skcat's " Ht>'mo]ogical 
Dictionary," ' there is a table of the words of the language 
classified according to their derivation ; the words bor- 
rowed from Germanic or Scantiinavian idioms fill seven 
columns and a half ; those taken from the French, and the 
Romance or classic tongues sixteen columns. 

It is true the proportion of words used in a page of 

* A» ui example of a cnnip<»illi>rL iJiowing itie paiUU'tuim of thr <wa 
v-ocabuUnicf in their crude sl>tc, one may lake ihc licatiK on OiMinii Kime 
of FilwMtl II.), |riiljUt)icil by Wri|[lil und KillrwcU, which bqcinn with the 
cIiaTtctrriuic wordi : "Her comcnscj a bnk of Swcvenyng." " Rditjuix 
Antique." * London, iSSl. 



ordinary English docs not correspond to these figures. 
With some authors in truth it is simply reversed ; with 
Shakespeare, for instance, or with Tennyson, who exhibit 
a marked predilection for Anglo-Saxon words. It is 
nevertheless to be observe<l: first, that the constitution of 
the vocabulary with its majority of Franco-Latin words is 
an actual fact ; then that in a page of ordinary ICnglish 
the proportion uf words having a Germanic origin is 
increased by the number of Anglo-Saxon articles, conjunc- 
tions, and pronouns, words that arc merely the servants of 
the others, and are, as they should be, more numerous than 
their masters. A nearer approach to the numbers supplied 
by the lists of Skcat will be made if real words only are 
counted, those which are free and independent citizens of the 
language, and not the shadow nor the reflection of any other. 

The contributivc part of French in the new vocabulary 
corresponds to the branches of activity reser\ed to the 
new-comers. From their maternal idiom have been 
borrowed the words that composed the language of war, 
of commerce, of jurisprudence, of science, of art, of 
metaphysics, of pure thought, and also the language of 
games, of pastimes, of tourneys, and of chivalry. In 
some cases no compromise took place, neither the French 
nor the Anglo-Sa.\on word would gt%'e way and die, and 
they have both come down to us, alive and irreducible ; act 
and deed ; captive and tkraU ; (huf and heady &c,' It is 
a trace of the Conquest, like the formula: " La Reine le 

Chaucer, in whose time these double survivals were 
naturally far more numerous than they are to-day, often 


* See a lu>t of such words in Eoile, " niilology of the Englub Tonpiff." 
5tl) edition, Oxford, 1893, 8vo, p. 84. On the diuppt'arancfi of Anglo-Siuioa 
proper nuDN, and the suhsl itiition of Noimati-Ficiich nunta, "WilURin, 
Mcnr). Roger, Walter, Ralph, Kicbmrd. Gilhcrt, Rotwn," ticx Gram Allcn> 
" An^lo-^axun liriiain," ch. xix., .\nKlu-Sjuun NumeccltLtutc. 





uses both words at ^pc, sure of being thus intelligible to 

fctUeii love K vroodacs ma folye.* 

Versificatiof^K transformed in the same proportion ; 
here again ihe two prosodies arrive at a compromise. 
Native verse had two ornaments: the number of accents 
and alliteration ; French verse in the fourteenth century 
had also two ornaments, the number of syllables and 
rhyme. The French gave up their strict number of 
syllables, and consented to note the number of accents ; 
the natives discarded alliteration and accepted rhyme in its 
stead. Thus was English verse created, its cadence being 
Germanic and its rhyme French, and such was the prosody 
of Chaucer, who wrote his " Canterbury Tales " in rhymed 
English vcr^c, with five accents, but with syllables varying 
in number from nine to eleven. 

The fusion of the two versifications was as gradual as 
that of the two vocabularies had been. Layamon in the 
thirteenth century mingled both prosodies in his " Brut," 
sometimes using alliteration, sometimes rhyme, and occa- 
sionally both at once. The fourteenth century is the last 
in which alliterative verse really flourished, though it sur- 
vived even beyond the Renaissance. In the sixteenth 
century a new form was tried ; rhyme was suppressed 
mainly in imitation of the Italians and the ancients, and 
blank verse was created, which Shakespeare and Milton 
used in their masterpieces; but alliteration never found 
place again in the normal prosody of England. 

Grammar was affected in the same way. In the Anglo- 
Saxon grammar, nouns and adjectives had declensions as 
ni German ; and not very simple ones. " Not only had 
our old adjectives a declension in three genders, but more 
than this, it had a double set of trigeneric inflexions, 

' *■ Troilus," iii. uuua 191. 



Definite and Indefinite, Strong and Weak, just like that 
which makes the beginner's despair in German."' Verbs 
were conjugated without auxiliaries ; and as there was no 
particular inflection to indicate the future, the present was 
used instead, a very indifierent substitute, which did not 
contribute much to the clearness of the phrase. Degrees 
of comparison in the adjectives were marked, not by 
adverbs, as in French, but by differences in the termina- 
tions. In short, the iclatioiis of words to each other, as 
well as the particular part they had to play in the phrase, 
were not indicated by other special words, prepositions, 
adverbs or auxiliaries, those useful menials, but by varia- 
lions in the endings of the terms themselves, that is, by 
inflections. The necessity for a compromise with the 
French, which had lost its primitive declensions and in- 
flections, hastened an already begun transformation and 
resulted in the new langfua^e's possessing in the fourteenth 
century a grammar remarkably simple, brief and clear. 
Auxiliaries were introduced, and they allowed every shade 
of action, action that has been, or is, or will be, or would 
be, to be clearly defined. The gender of nouns used to 
present all the singularities which are one of the troubles 
in German or French ; mona, moon, was masculine as in 
German ; sunne, sun, was feminine; 'vi/, wife, was not 
feminine but neuter ; as was also matien, maiden. " A 
German gentleman." as " Philologus," has so well observed, 
"writes a masculine letter of feminine love to a neuter 
young lady with a feminine pen and feminine ink on 
masculine sheets of neuter paper, and encloses it in a 
masculine envelope with a feminine address to his darling, 
though neuter, Grctchen. He has a masculine head, a 
feminine liand, and a neuter heart."' Anglo-Saxon 
gentlemen were in about the same predicament, before 

■ Eotle'* "Philology of the Knf^bh Tongue," Jth tA., QKfmd, iS^x, 
f. 379- • /iW. p. 377. 




William the Conqueror came in his own way to their help 
and rescued them from this maze. In the transaction 
which took place, the Anglo-Saxon and the French both 
gave up the arbitrariness of their genders ; nouns denoting 
male beings became masculine, those denoting female 
beings became feminine ; all the others became neuter ; 
'Ufiff and maiden resumed their sex, while ttalio/t, sun and 
moott were neuter Nouns and adjectives lost their declen- 
sions ; adjectives ceased to vary in their endings according 
to the nouns they were attached to, and yet the clearness 
of the phrase was not in the least obscured. 

In the same way as with the prosody and vocabulary, 
these changes were effected by degrees. Great confiisiion 
prevailed In the thirteenth century; the authors of the 
"Brut" and the " Ancren Riwic" have visibly no fixed 
ideas on the use of inflections, or on the distinctions of 
the genders. Only under Edward HI. and Richard II. 
were the main principles ustablishctl upon which Knglish 
grammar rests. As happened also for the vocabulary, in 
certain exceptional cases the French and the Saxon uses 
have ticen both preserved. The possessive case, for in- 
stance, can be expressed cither by means of a proposition, 
in French fashion : " The works of Shakespeare," or by 
means of the ancient genitive : " Shakespeare's works."' 

Thus was formed the new language out of a combina- 
tion of the two others. In our time, moved by a patriotic 
but rather preposterous feeling, some have tried to react 
against the consequences of the Conquest, and imdo the 
work of eight centuries. 'Ihey have endeavoured to 
exclude from their writings words of Franco-Latin origin, 
in order to use only those derived from the Anglo-Saxon 
spring. A vain undertaking : the progress of a ship 
cannot be stopped by putting one's shoulder to the bulk- 
heads ; a singular misapprehension of history besides. 
The English people is the offspring of two nations ; it has 



a father and a mother, whose union has been fruitful if 
stormy ; and the parent disowned by some to-day, under 
cover of filial tenderness, is perhaps not the one who 
devoted the least care in forming and instructing the 
common posterity of both. 


The race and Che lan£:uage are transformed ; the nation 
also, considered as a political body, undergoes change. 
Until the fourteenth century-, the centre of thought, of desire, 
and of ambition was. according to the vocation of each, 
Rome, Paris, or that movable, ever-shifting centre, the 
Court of the king. Light, strength, and advancement in 
the world all proceeded from these various centres. In 
the fourteenth century, what took place for the race and 
language takes place also for the nation. It coalesces 
and condenses; it becomes conscious of its own limits ; it 
discerns and maintains them. The action of Rome is 
circumscribed ; appeals to the pontifical Court arc pro- 
hibited.' and, though they still continue to be made, the 
oft-expressed wish q^ the nation is that the king should be 
judge, not the pope ; it is the beginning of the religious 
supremacy of the English sovereigns. Oxford has grown ; 

' See the series of the Ralules of Prtmisert »xti. Pramtmire, uul Ibe 
n&fwiJl ai Ihe Mtme (x^inst prf»eii(aiir>ii» Iv 1i«nericc« \>y th« Pope and 
■ppttlt to the Court of Kamc), 33 E4. III. sL 6 1 27 Bd. HI. au 2; 
3 Rich, II. chap. 3: 11 Rich. It. chnp. 15; 13 Rich. II. xC. 3, chap, a; 
16 Rich, II. chap. 5. All ^ave foi iheir oLvject In ceitiicl the action <3i iba 
Holy Sec in England, tnnrntiniibly to (he deiire of Ihe Commoni, who pro- 
tc«t apund thete Bpp«ali lo the Itomon Couit, the consequence* of which arc 
"to iukIo and adnul the taw^ of the tcalm" (2$ £d. III. 1350-1). and who 
Kbo prmcsi againsi " the Couit of Rome which ought lo be the founlain-houl, 
rnni. and xmtce «f holtneu," and whirh fiom covrieoiunew has auuaied ihe 
light of piwming 10 numb»le^ bencricni in England, la much s» tbu the 
taxes collected for the Pope on ihi; Account "amount to five time* as inucb 
U what the king gets frt^m all hit kingdom each yv*t." Gcod I'arlMiaent of 
■37&. " Rotuli Facliaiittnloruni." vol. IL p. 337 ; tee below, p. 4191. 

THE NEW nation: 


it is no longer indispensable to go to Paris in order to 
learn. Limits are established : the wars with France are 
royal and not national ones. Edward III., having assumed 
the title of king of France, his subjects compel him to 
declare that their allegiance is only owned to him as king 
of England, and not as king of France.' No longer is | 
the nation Anglo-French, Norman, Angevin, or Gascon ; | 
it is English ; the nebula condenses into a star. 

The first consequences of the Conquest had been to bind 
Kngland to the civilisations of the south. The experi- 
ment had proved a successful one, the results obtained 
were definitive; there was no need to go further, the tics 
could now without harm slacken or break. Owing to 
that evolutionary movement perpetually evinced in human 
affairs, this first experiment having been perfected after 
a lapse of three hundred years, a counter-experiment now 
begins. A new centre, unknown till then, gradually draws 
to itself every one's attention ; it will soon attract the eyes 
of the English in preference to Rome, Paris, or even the 
king's Court. This new centre is Westminster, There, 
an institution derived from French and Saxnnic sources, 
but destined to be abortive in France, is de\*eloped to an 
extent unparalleled in any other country'. Parliament, 
which was, at the end of the thirteenth century, in an 
embryonic state, is found at the end of the fourteenth 
completely constituted, endowed with all '\Xa actual ele- 
ments, with power, prerogatives, and an influence in the 
State that it lias rarely surpassed at any time. 

Not in vain have the Normans, Angcvins, and Gascons 
given to the men of the land the example of their 
clever and shrewd practice. Not in vain have they 
blended the two races into one: their peculiar character- 
istics have been infused into their new compatriots; so 
much so that from the first day Parliament begins to feel 
* Veu 1340, 14 Ed, III., " RaiuU PnrliiDientoruni," in>l. ii. p. 104. 



conscious of its strength, it displays bias most astonishing 
to behold : it thinks and acts and behaves as an assembly 
of Normans. The *>ncc violent and vacillating Anglo- 
Saxons, easily roused to enthusiasm and brouyht down to 
despair, now calculate, consider, deliberate, do nothing in 
haste, act with diplomatic subtlety, bargain. All com- 
promises between the Court and Parliament, in the 
fourteenth century, are a scries of bargains ; Parliament 
pays on condition that the king reforms; iiutliing for 
nothing : and the fulBlltng of the bargain is minutely 
watched. It comes to this at last, that Parliament proves 
more Norman than the Court ; it liianceuvres with more 
skill, and remains master of the situation ; *' i Normand, 
Normand et demL" The Plantagenets behold with aston- 
ishment the rise of a power they are now unable to 
control ; their offspring is hardy, and strong, and, beats its 

After the attempts of Simon de Montforl, Edward I. had 
convened, in 1295, the first real Parliament. Me had 
reasserted the fundamental principle of all liberties, by 
appropriating to himself the old maxim from Justinian's 
code, according to which "what touches the interests of all 
must be approved by all."' He forms the habit of appeal- 
ing to the people ; he wants them to know the truth, and 
decide according to trutli which is In the right, whether the 
king or his turbulent barons ' i he behaves on occasion as 
if he felt that over him was the nation. And this strange 
sight is seen : the descendant of the Norman autocrats 

■ " Sicui lex juUuuiTui, providi (^ircuraipcclione locroram prindpam sMln- 
liu, haria.1 ut el siftiuit ul qiiod omnH tuogit kb omnibui «ppfobeiut. . . ." 
Rymei. "Failcia," 17051 "ol- »'■ p- 68g. This Koruii niuiiii was known 
and Appealed lo, but not acted upon in France. Sec Coniniinn, " Mi^maiio,'* 
book V. chap. sU. 

■ " For tnroe folks," layt he. " mlgbl uy and nralte ihe people believe ibingi 
Ihkt wen not Inie." By Mm-R rnllte, " ncunt grrit(,")ic means Boliun and 
Bifiod. PtocluiMiiou of IJ97. in Kyroer, " Fwdcra," 1705, vol. ii. p. 78}. 

THn jVeiv nation. 


modestly explains his plans for war in Flanders and in 
France, excuses himself for the aid he is obliged to ask of his 
subjects, and even condescends to solicit ihcspiritual benefit 
of their prayers; "He the king, on this and on the state 
of himself and of his realm, and how the business of his 
realm has come to nothing:, makes it linown and wants that 
all knon' the truth, which is as follows ... He can 
neither defend himself nor his realm without the help of 
bis good people. And it grieves him sorely to have them, 
on thia account, so heavily charged. . . . .-^nd he prays 
them to take as an excuse for what he has done, that that 
he did not do in order to buy lands and tenements, or 
castles and towns, but Co defend himself, and them, and the 
whole kingdom. . . . And as he has great faith that the 
good prayers of his good people will help him very 
much in bringing this business to a good end, he begs 
that they will intently pray for htm and those that with 
him go." ' 

.^t first, Parliament is astonished : such excess of honour 
alarms it : then it understands the chance that offers, and 
guesses that in the proffered bargain it may very well be 
the winner. This once understood, progress is rapid, and 
from year to year can be observed the growth of its defini- 
tive privileges. The Commons have their Speaker, "M. 
Thomas de Hungerford, knight, who had the words for the 
Commons of England " ' ; they want deputies to be elected 
by " due election," and they protest against all interference 
of the Government ; against official candidatures, and 
against the election of royal functionaries. On difficult 
questions, the members request to be allowed to return to 
their counties and consult with their constituents before 

' Ryincr. " Fcrtlcia," 1705, »ol. H- p. 7S31 ycat ia9Ti urij^iiial in Ftencb. 

* " Monsteui Thooiu de llungerfnrd. chivalcr, qui avoil Ik parulu |iour let 
Comniunot d'Kngleterfe en col Parlemenl." PBrliamenl of 1376-7, 51 £d. 
Ul. " Koiuli." vol. ii. p. 374- 



voting.' In spite of all the aristocratic Ideas with which 
they are still imbued, many of thoye audacious members 
who clamour for reforms and oppose the king are very 
inconsiderable people, and such men are seen taking their 
seats at Westminster as ■* Walterus I'espiccr," " Paganus le 
tailour," " Radulphiis le teynturer," " Ricardus orfcvrc." • 

Great is the power of this mixed gathering. No new 
taxes can be levied without its consent ; every individual, 
every personage, every authority having a petition to pre- 
sent, or a complaint to make, sends it to the assembly of 
Westminster. The king consults it on peace or war : " So," 
says the Chamberlain to the Commons in 1354, "you arc 
willing to absent to a permanent treaty of peace, if one can 
be obtained ? And the said Commons answered entirely 
and unanimously : Yes, yes ! (Otl I Orl I) " 3 

Nothing is too great or loo small for Parliament to 
attend to ; the sovereign appeals to it, and the clergy too, 
and beggars also. In 1330, the poor, the " poverall " of 
Greenwich, complain that alms are no longer bestowed on 
them as formerly, to the great detriment, say they, of the 
souls of the benefactors of the place " who are in Purga- 
tory."* Convcnte claim privileges that time has effaced ; 

■ Examjiln : that the ilcpiiticti cf the couniics " soienl csliu par commune 
election An lei meilloun geni* d« dity«onti'e» et aemye«eniiiMparle vUconi 
((herLff) BOiil, tnuDK <,Lii« ^kction." Cock! iParliamenc of tj;^. — Peliiinn ttwl 
tbc aheriiTi ahall not be ablctotiuid foi the couaiks while tbcy conunuc in 
oRicc, Ij73i 46 Ed, til,, " Roluli I^rlUinenliiiunt," vol. ii. p. jio: that no 
represenlalive " rie soil viiconi ou (luire minisire," 13 Ed, III., )-e«r 1339. — 
Petition of the tnpcnbcn of PaTlianifot 10 be illowed i« (ctum and connuli tlieiT 
GOtUtitucnt»: " lU n'oMionl luKntir tnnt qn'iU cuiient (onJKilkx ct avy«c( 
Ics communes dc lour paix." 1 J]9i "Kui. Pul.," vul. ii, ji, 1041 mc below, 
p. 4i«- 

■ " Return of the namcc of ewety member returned to «efve in each Parlia- 
ment," London., 187S, fol. (a Blue Book).— There it no duuM in sever*! enae* 
that bymch dociipliotivwnB meant the aifwii^ prufoMun <if the incmtwr. 'Ex. i 
*• JcjhaniiM Kent, nicicci," p. 117. ' " Rot. Pail.," vol. ii. p. ada. 

* KciltJon of ilic '* povcrail " oJ Greenwich and Ixwisham on whom alms 
arc no lungef iieitowed (one mailti a weelc to every beggii ih*l caine) lo the 
"grant dAinage (I«9 poorci cmoiir, cl dwalmesln [ondourB que toni en Piiirga- 
lortc." 4 Ed. 111. " Rotuli Parliamenlorunii" v«L u- p. 49. 



servants ask for thetr wages; the barber of Edward II. 
solicite the maintenance of favours granted by a prince he 
had bled and shaved for twenty-six years.' 

And before the same gathering of men, far different 
quarrels are brought forth. The king's ministers, Latj-mcr 
and Neville, are impeached ; his mistress Alice Pcrrcrs 
hears sentence ^ ; his household, personal attendants and 
expenses are reformed ; and from then can be foreseen a time 
when, owing to the tread of centuries, the king will reign 
but no longer govern. Such 13 almost the case even in the 
fourteenth century. Parliament deposes Richard II., who 
fancied himself king by right divine, and claimed, long 
before the Stuarts, to hold his crown, " del doun de Bieu," 
as a "gift of God." 3 In the list of grievances drawn up by 
the assembly to justify the deposition, figures the asserlion 
attributed to the king " that the laws proceeded from his lips 
or from his heart, and that he alone could make or alter the 
laws of his kingdom." ■* In 1 399 such language was already 
held to be criminal in England. In 1527 Claude Gaillard, 
prime President of llie Parliament of Paris, says in his 
remonstrance to Francis I., king of France: " Wc do not 
wish. Sire, to doubt or question your power ; it would be a 
kind of sacrilege, and we well know you arc above all law. 

' 4 Ed. IIL, "Roluli ParlUnenloram," vol.iLp. 33. 

* Good PorlUincfit of 1376. 

' The Commons bad htxa. bold enuufh to cvniplain uf the eipenaoB of the 
kin|[ and udhi; too great number of prclAtct LTii] l&dici he supported : "dela 
muliiiuded'Evpuiucs qui ont WBrwuriet et wmt ttvancnc par le R[>yet leur 
mrignre g «i auui de pluuun dames «t leur in«ign^« qui dcmuiont en I'otiel 
dit \<af ct wat It iici cukLiKrt." Richard rcplio in &n in|;>y uwnncr thfti he 
"voct avdr m r ^calic d Ia liberie loialc de ml coione," ai heir lo ihc ihione 
of En|{luKl " del daun de Dicu." 1397. " Koitili Fadiamcnionim,'' rol. iii. p. 
3^9. The Cummuiu aay Doiliing mtire, tmi they maik the wuids, 10 remeinbcr 
them in du* lime. 

* " Dixit exprcsMt. vclut auiteio et pialervo, cjuckI Ic^ce* aue eimnl in ok wao 
cl«lu|uotiens in pccturc suo. El quod ipse wlus poi!>ct mutate ct caodcfc 
legu regni iui." " Kotuli Pvlumentoium," vol. iii. {>. 419. 



and that statutes and ordinances cannot touch you. ...**■ 
The ideas on political "sacrilege " differed widely in the 
two countries. 

From the end of the fourteenth century, an Englishman 
could already say as he docs to-day: My business is not 
the business of the State, but the business of the State is 
my business. The whole of the English consiituiion, from 
the vote on the taxes to the habtas coffus, is comprised in 
this formula. In France the nation, practical, lucid, and 
logical in so many thingt>, but easily amused, and too fond 
of chansons, neglected the opportunities that offered ; the 
elect failed to attend the sittings ; the bargains struck were 
not kept to. The Westminster Parliament voted sub- 
sidies on condition that reforms would be instituted ; 
the people paid and the king reformed. In France, on 
the contrary, during the Middle Ages, the people tried not 
to pay, and the king tried not to reform. Thus the levying 
of the subsidy voted by the States- General of 1356-7, was 
the cause of bloody riots in France ; the people, un- 
enlightened as to their own interests, did their best to 
destroy their defenders : the agents of the States-General 
were massacred at Rouen and Arras; King John "the 
Good " published a decree forbidding the orders of the 
States to be fulfilled, and acquired instant popularity by 
this the most tyrannic measure of all his reign. 

These differences between the two political bodies had 
important consetjucnces with regard to the development 

■ Chfritd, " Oiciifriinairc det Insiitutiom de lit FTunce." ol the word 
TatUm4nl. At c«rly U the ihirteenih century, Dractop, in England, dcclofcd 
tka " UwK tiound Ihi- Itcinlaiot." anil ihat llic king durIiI lo ol>cx ihcn) ; his 
itaeorv. hune^Tt, i^ k-tobulil ilian ihv oncAccacdlng to which The ComtnoniKt 
in the founwnih century; " DJciiur cnim »w," Braeion ol»ervc(, "a henc 
rcgendo et non « tegnando, qui* rex ex( dumbener«gt[, lyiunnuidum papulum 
libi credilum rio1«titcr opptimit dominaliunv- Tompctct i|;ilur puleiiliftin muud 
per lq[eiii ijuk frcnum cat poicntidc, quod Kcundum leges vivftC, quod hoc 
uiniti l«x humana quod Ickcs luum lifcnl Ifttoieoi." " De Lcpbua," 3rd pan 
clujt. in. 



or thought in the two countries; they also excited the 
wonder and sometimes the admiration of the French. 
" The king ol England must obey his subjects," says 
Froissart, "and do all they want him ttx" ' "To my mind,^' 
writes Commincs, "of all the communities I know in the 
world, the one where public business is best attended to, 
where the people are least exposed to violence, where 
there are no buildings ruined and pulled down on account 
of wars, that one is England."" "The English are the 
masters of their king." writes Ambassador Courtiii in 1665, 
in almost the same words as Frois<iart, "their king can 
do nothing, unless what he wants is what they will." 3 


Now are the vanquished and the victors of Hastings 
blended into one nation, and they are endowed with a 
Parliament as a safeguard for their liberties. "This is," 
Montesquieu said later, " the nation in the world that has 
best known how to avail itself at the same time of those 
three great things: religion, trade, and liberty."* Four 
hundred years before Montesquieu it already availed itself 
of these three great things ; under Edward and Richard 
Plantagenets, England was what it has ever been since, 
a "merchant island.''^ 

Its mines are worked, even those of "sea-coal," as it 
was then called, " carboun de meer." * It has a numerous 

' "Chfoniinics," cd. S- Luce, i. p- 337. 

* " M^oim," cd. Duponi, Soct^i^ de Itiuioire de France, 1840 ?. , voL iL 
p. 143, MAdniM, 147;. 

> Unputiliihed letlet to M. de lionne, Croin Londao, July 6, l66(. Archive* 
of the Afllaicii Eirangiiet, vol. IxKKvi. 

' " Efpiit dcs Lots," voL xx. chap. viL, " Espnt de I'Aogletcfte iw la 

» A. Sore], " I'Europe « la R^olution FrantaiK," »ol. i p. 337- 

• pRriiament rrvrrm at different limes m thwc minf* in ihc fonrtrenlh 
ocnlury : " Come en divciKt pnrlic«dcini 1c Koialincd'tngletcircK>nt divcnc* 
minen da caibonj, doni les Communes du dii portie onl lour auttowott en 
gnuide patlic . . ." 51 Ed. III.. " Koiuli l^rtiamcntunim." 



mercantile navy which carries to the Baltic, to Iceland, 
to Flanders, to Guyenne, and to Spain, wool, skins, cloth, 
wheat, butter and cheese, " buyre et furmagc." F.ach year 
the galleys of Venice come laden with cotton, silks from 
Damascus, sugar, spices, perfumes, ivory, and gla-ss. Tlic 
great commercial Houses, and the merchant corporations 
are powers in the State; Edward III. grants to the London 
gilds the right of electing members to Parliament, and 
they preserved this Hght until the Reform Bill of 1832. 
The wealthy merchants lent money to the king ; they were 
called to his councils ; they behaved as great citizens. 
Anthony Blache lends Edward III. 11,720 pounds; the 
Blankets of Bristol gather enormous wealth; John Blanket 
dies in 1405, bequeathing a third of his fortune to his wife, 
a third to his children, and a third to the poor ; John 
Phil]30t, a grocer of London, embarks on his ships and 
fights for the kingdom ; Richard Whittington, he of the 
legendary cat, is famed in history for his wealth and 
liberality, and was mayor of London in 1398. 1406, and 
1419. These merchants are ennobled, and from their stock 
spring earls and dukes ; the De la Poles, wool-merchants 
of Hull, mortgage their property- for the king. William 
de la Pole rescues Edward III., detained in Flanders by 
want of money, and is made a knight -banneret ; his son 
Michael is created earl of SufTclk ; one of his grandsons 
is killed at Agincourt ; another besieges Orleans, which 
is delivered by Joan of Arc ; he becomes duke of Suffolk, 
ts impeached in 145 a for high treason and beheaded; no 
honour is lacking to the house. 

From the time of the Edw-ards, the Commons are very 
toucliy upon the subject of the maritime power and glory 
of their country ; thej' already consider the ocean as their 
appointed realm. Do they observe, or fancy they obser\'e, 
any diminution in the strength of England ? They com. 
plain to the king in remonstrances more than once heard 



again, word for word, within the halls of Westminster; 
"Twenty years ago, and always before, ihe shipping of the 
Realm was in all the ports and gcnid towns upon the sea 
or rivers, so nobtc and plenteous that all the countries held 
and called our said soveicign. the King of the Sea."' 
At this time, 1372, the country is, withont possibility of 
doubt, the England of the English. 

From that period the English arc found cither singly 
or in small bands on all the seas and on all the highways.* 
Their nature has been modified ; the Island no longer 
suffices them as it sufficed the Anglo-Saxons. <MI ne 
sait rien, qui ne va hors" — he Itnou-s nothing who stirs not 
out — think they with Des Champs ; they are keen to see 
what goes on el<«wherc, and like practical folks to profit 
by it When the opportunity is good they seize it, what- 
soever its nature ; encountering Saracens ihej' slay them : 
so much towards Paradise ; moving about in Italy they 
are not long in discovering the advantages oflTered by a 
condotticrc's existence. They adopt and e\Tn perfect it, 
and after their death arc m»gni6ccntly buried In the 
cathedral of Florence, and Paolo Uccello paints their por- 
trait on the wall.3 On every occasion they behave like 
Normans ; in the halls of Westminster, in their City count- 

■ 46 E<1. III., " Roiuli PxTliAtiiditonim," vol. ii. p-jii- The leiog nnirn) 
a vagu« aiiawo:. See bcluw, pp. jij, J17. 

• " They tr)i»uile in every londc." uyi Gowet of them, in his •'ConfeMio 
Amafltis," ed. Pauli, vol. iii. p. [09. 

1 "Joannct Acutii*, -quu Driunninit (John Hawkwood) . . . ni militartt 
pentiMimut . . . I'auli Vcc*lli opot," insccijilion on ihc *' j^isiillc," painted 
by Uocello, in the (ificcnth mcmor}- of Hnwltwivod, who Jieil in the 
pty of Florence, in 1394. lie «a% the son of a iBiiner,Biid was t>orn in Rhcx; 
Ibe OMporaiion of Tailors d99in«il thai he hiul i^iarled in life among them; 
popular tale* were written about him : " The honour of the Taylara, or the 
bsiou)! and lenuwricd httlory of Sir J<>hii Hawltwofid, kni|^t, conUioiiiK hi* 
. . . adrcniucM . . . rclaline to love and aims," IxmAaa, 1687, 410- The 
luuntins by UcccHohu been retiioreil from the chuii, inuiifcned on canru 
sod placed a^lnit Ibe wall at iht entrance of ihc cathedral at FIiitciicc. 




ing houses, on the highroads of Italy and on the ocean 
they everywhere resemble the rulers whose spirit has 
passed into them, and prove themselves to be at once 
adventurous an<l practical. " They are good walkers and 
good horsemen," said Ralph Hidden of them in the 
fourteenth century, adding: "They are curious, and like 
to tell the wonders they have seen and observed." How 
many books of travel we owe to this propensity ! " They 
roam over all lands." he continues, *" and succeed still 
better in otlicr countries than in their own. . . . They 
spread over the earth ; every land they inhabit becomes 
as their own country." * They are themselves, and no 
longer seek to be any one else ; they cease by degrees to 
framigtnare. This combination of boldness and obstinacy 
that is theirs, is the blend of qualities by which di.'^tant 
settlements can be cstab1i:>hcd and kept ; to these qualities 
must be traced the founding of the English colonial empire, 
and the power which allowed the J'lantagcnet kings to 
aspire, as early as the fourleenih century, to be the " Rois 
de la Mier." 

Trade brings luxury, comfort, and the love of art in its 
train. The saine happened In London as in Venice, 
Florence, and Itrugcs ; these merchants and nobles were 
fond of beautiful things. It is an era of prosperity for 
imagers, miniaiurists, painters, arid sculptors.* The wealthy 


' " rolychronicon," ed. nabinglon, Rolls, vol. ii. pp^ i66. i68. 

■TTi« nio« brit1innCRpcdfnensofth>r pAinlingiof th« lime were, in Enj^b-od, 
tli»M (o be tccn in St. Stephen'* clupcl to ihc pukcc of Wntmiatlcc. It wu 
AnUhnj abovi i)4S, uiJ pftintcd kficrwardi. The chief atchiicci wu Thcwiuu 
of Cviieibuiy, luuicr iiia^in ; the piin('i]ul pdinien {juUcing \if the higtiot 
mlaiies) w«tc Hugh of St. Alhanw and Jubn Colion (" Fodcia,' 1705. vol. «, 
p. 670 ; vi. 417). Tlii» chapel *f»» burnt in (.m cenluiy urith the rest of the 
Iluuica of rarUjiincnt ; Dolhing lemKiiw but ihc crypt ; freemcnia of ibc 
pcuDlingf hare been Mvcd, anil ue prcwf^eiJ in the Briiixh Museum. They 
repcemenl the ilury uf Job. The uuilinc upect of the pcnunoge* ihould be 
noted, eepecially thsl of the wotnen ; than ia & look ol happinesa abomt 



order to be chiselled for themselves ivory Virgins whoafe^ 
tender, half-mundane -imile, is not less charming for the 
doubt it leaves whether it is of earth or of heaven ; dcvo- . 
tional tablets in painted ivory, in gold, or translucid enamels; | 
golden goblets with figures, silver cups "enamelled with 
children's games." salt-cclIars in the shape of lions or doRs, 1 
• "golden imanes of St. John the Baptist, in the wilderness." • j 
all those precious articles with which our museums arc fillecL/ 
Edward II. s^nth to the Pope in 1317, among other gif^s, 
a golden ewer and bai^^in, studded with translucid enamels, 
supplied by Roger de I'rowyk.a London goldsmith, for the 
price of one hundred and forty-seven pounds. Humphrey 
de Bohun, who died in 1361, said his prayers to beads of 
gold; Edward III. played chess on aboard of jasper 
and crystal, silver mounted. The miniaturists represent 
Paradise on the margin of missals, or set forth in colours 
some graceful legend or lantastic tale, with knights, flowers, 
and butterflies." In spite of foreign wars, local insurrections, 
the plague that return^i periodically, 1349, 1362, 1369, 1375, 
the great uprising of the peasantr)'. 1381, the troubles and 
massacres which followed, art prospers in the fourteenth 
century, and what chiefly characterises it is that it is all 
That such things were coeval is not so astonishing as 

' Se« the jewel* Bod oihcr wiluiUc* eniimerftle-d in the linj;lUh willi of ihc 
fourlccnib cvniuir: "A oollcctiun of • ■ . wills," LuuJ'Jii, Nichuli, 1780, 
«lo. pp. 37, 50, iij. 1 13. and in "The »neicnl Kilendan nm! [nvcnitwlcs 
of the TrrMuty." ed. I'alunive, Ijindcm, Jjfjfi, 3 foU. Sm, Chwi-lalile of 
Edwofd in., vol. ili. p. 173. Cf. for Fnnw, " Invcnuire du mobiller 
]d« CImtIc* v.," *d. Labarle I" DoeuiiicnU inWils"), (879, 4I0, 

* Edoud III. buyj of babclU oT Ijuiouut, « nun of Aumbmliury, % 
muitncript romance tlial he kccpi ulwoyn in hn tooni, fai ihv price nC tf6t. 
13J. and 4^. for (at that timt \\w price of an ox wu About tnrlvp ihUlings). 
For Ih* JFDItng Richard were htiught two volumes, one cnnlninmg the RonMunt 
<rf live Roie. Ihe olhei ihe Kormuife* of I'ercevnl and Ctwain ; the priee paid 
for ibem, and for a Bible beside* beia^; zt/. (" laiuo of Ihe Exdictiuer," ed. 
Devon, 1837, pp. I.M- 'IJ)- On English mimaluriKs, kc "Ifintoiic Lliti* 
■aire de la. Fiance," xxu. p. iJfi. 




it may seem. Life was still at that time so frag:ilc and 
so often threatened, that the notion of its being suddenly 
cut off" was a familiar one even from childhood. Wars, 
pUgucs, and massacres never took one unawares ; they 
were in the due course of things, and were expected ; the 
possibih'ty of such misfortunes saddened less in prospective 
than it does now thnt they have become less frequent; 
People were then always ready to fight, to kill, and to be 
killed. Gamcii resembled battles, and battles games : the 
Esvourite exercises were tournaments ; life was risked for 
nothing, as an arawscmetit. Innumerable decrees » forbade 
those pastimes on account of the deaths they caused. 
and the troubles they occasioned ; but the amusement was 
the best available, and the decrees were left unobserved. 
Edward starts on his war to France, and his knights, fol- 
lowing his example, take their falconers and their hounds 
along with them, as tlioutjh they were going to a hunt.* 
Never was felt to a greater degree what Rabelais terms 
" the scorn of fortuitous things." Times have changed, and 
until we go back to a similar state of affairs, which is not 
impossible, wc come into the world with ideas of peace and 
Order, and of a life likely to be a long one. We are indig- 
nant if it is threatened, very sad when the end draws near ; 
with more lasting happinesses we smile less often. Frois- 
sart paints in radiant colours, and the subject of his pictures 
is the France of the Hundred Years' War. The " meny 
England " of the " Cursor Mundi " and after is the F.ngland 
of the great plagues, and of the rising of the peasants, 
which had two kings assassinated out of four. It is also 
the England whose Madonnas smile. 

■ Mon than forty for the letgn of EilwutI II. we (a be feuRd in ihs 

* " Et n y awit pluiKuri d<s Kigneura el d«s ricbct hommc* qui «vote*t 
iMinchiciu el Iciin o«dn» vsd t»cnociniine U rmsknnnn.'' Cunraign of 
1360, ed. Luce, buok i. ctwp. 83. 



In architecture the English favour the development of 
that kind of special Gothic of which they arc the inventors, 
the Perpendicular, a rich and well-ordered style, terrestrial, 
practical, pleasant to look upon. No one did more to 
secure it a latsing fame than the Chancellor of Edward 
III. and of Richard II., William of Wylceham, bishop of 
Winchester, the restorer of Windsor, founder of New 
College at Oxford, the greatest builder of the century.' 
The walls and vaulted roofs -of chapels are thick inlaid 
with ornamenis ; broad windows let in diflerent coloured 
lights through their stained-glass panes ; golden-haired 
angcU start friJtn the cornices; architecture smiles too, 
and its smile, like that of the Madonnas, i.s half religious 
and half mundane. 

Less care is taken to raise strong houses than formerly ; 
among the numerous castles with which the land bristles 
may be seen, in the distant valley where the ancient 
town of St, David's lies screened, a bishop's palace 
that would have suited neither William de Longchamp 
nor Hugh dc Huisct, a magnificent dwelling, without 
towers of defence, or moats, or drawbridges, an exceptional 
dwelling, built as though the inhabitants were already 
secure of the morrow." 

The outside is less rude, and the inside is adorned and 
enriched ; life becomes more private than it used to be; 

* Bora %X VVykcHiim, [iampihiic, 13x4, of ui obscui« family (whence hi) 
bnous inolio, " Mfttinrts mikyih man," thnc U 10 •ay, inaial '^ualltict 
alooe nske a man of worili], i^k-ik ol ihe king's worki in 1.156, present ai ihc 
pMU cf Br^ti^y, bishop of Wiiwhrsici 1366, Chancellor iu ijb;, nnil ngun 
under Kichoid II. Hedicd Bt dghly-four ycusofsgc, under llcriry IV. The 
lut of bis benefice* (Oct., 1366) ^lU moic tb&n four pa|:» in L^wth ("Life 
of W. of Wykcham." Oiford. t?77. PP- 28 T-). Froi»»rl noita the imiucnu 
influence which " Wican" hnd in ihc Suie. 

■ Built flimott entirely by Bijihop (•uwcr. 1321! 47. ili« " Wylteham of Saint 
D«iid'»." " Hiitory and .'Vntiquitie* of St. iJavid'i,'' by Jon«s and FtMnail, 
Londura, 1856, 4U), pp. 189 (T. Tiwn auw remain ualy rviiu, Init tbcy vc 
among the moai beauitfiil that can Ik vxn. 



! existence less patriarchal and more refined ; those who 
still clin^ to old customs complain that the rich man dines 
in a chamber with a chimney, and leaves the large haJI 
which was made for men to take their meals in together.' 
The walls of these chambers with chimneys are painted 
or covered with hangings ; tapestries represent (as do 
those of Edward II.) the king surrounded by his nobles; 
or (like those of the Black Prince) the " Pas de Saladin." 
or " sea-sirens," with a border of " swans with ladies' 
heads," in other words, chimeras, " and ostrich feathers"; 
or, again, like those of Sir John Falslofc, in the following 
century, the adoration of the shepherds, a hawking scene, 
the siege of Falaise 'taken in 1417}, a woman playing the 
harp near a castle, "a giant piercing a boar with a spear": 
all of which arc the more noticeable as they arc nothing 
but literatuic put into coLourA or embroidery.^ 

' Now haih uche rich* a tcuI« ' lu eten by bym-tdve 
In K pvyvc pArloure - for pore raenncc <t>k«, 
Oc ina cKanilirc witli a i-liymnvyc ' aod Icvc th« chief hatte. 
That wai made for luclc* ' men ic eicn innc. 
'* Viidans CAnccming Picn Plowmnn " (ril, Sltml), lent B, pawut x. line 96. 

* for ihb liipcitry ihc king paid ih-irty poundi to Thvmu At Helienbitb. 
mercer of lAiiidun. (" Wafdrubc iiccuuiila of Edwaiil 11."—" Aichwologia,"* 
voL xxvi. p. 344.) 

> Will t>( the Black PriuM, in NichoU, "A CoUoction of Wills." Loncloa. 
1780, 410 ; invciilorj' of Uie books of Fnlsflofe (who died unUt-c Henry VI.J, 
" Aich;e«)o|;ia," vul. xxi. p. 3ji ; in one single casilc bdooKinf; to him, thai oT 
CaiMct ntai Yaimouih, were found afici lu* Jt.ith 13,400 ounces of tilver. 
Already in Ihe ihirteenih eeniiiry, Ilcnrj- lit., who tud a pBMioJi f« art, had 
euiKed 10 be fvinted lii hii chamlier in the Tower the history of Antioch (jrd 
cruKL(t«ti and id his palace of Clarendon that " Pas de SaUdin " which was the 
lubjcci of oDcof the Block Prince's lapcstiiesi hcbail a painting of Jctae on iHe 
manielpiccc of hisehimno- ai Westminster, {Hardy, " A dcicription of ihe 
cliBc rullii in the Tower." LuiJiiuri. 18 J3, 5vo, ji, 179, and, Devon, " Inuc« 
of the KKchc()uer." 1837. p. 64.) He wat to fond of ihc puinlin^ exceuied for 
him at CUiendon, thai he ordered it to Iw covried with a linen elolh in hit 
absence, so that it wuulil not gel injured. In the fouitceDih cealury the walk 
were hunc initcad of Ixin^ |>ain[cdi ab in ihc thirteenth ; lieh pcnplc had 
" »lle« — ihxi IS to wy. ruiis oI hangings Tot a room. Comtnon ones war* 
mnde at Nurwich ; the linnt cnme from Flnndets. 



The conveniences and elegancies of the table arc now 
attended to ; cooks write out their recipes in English ; 
stewards draw up in the same language protocols con- 
cerning precedence, and the rules which a well-trained 
servant should observe. Such a one does not scratch his 
head, and avoids sneezing in the dish : he abstainB from 
wiping the plates with his tongue, and in carving takes 
the meat in his left hand and the knife in his right, forks 
being then unknown ; he gives each one his proper place, 
and remembers "that the Pope hath no pccre." When 
the master dresses, he must be seated on a chair by the 
fire, a " kcrchcff" is spread over his shoulders, and he is 
"curtcisly" combed with an ivory comb; he is rinsed 
■ with rosc-watur warmc " ; when he takes a bath the air 
is scented with herbs hanging from the ceiling. When 
he goes to bed the cats and dogs which happen to be in 
his room should be driven away, or else a little cloth 
provided for them. 

(The food is rich and combines extraordinary mixtures. 
Hens and rabbits are eaten chopped up with pounded 
almonds, raisins, sugar, ginger, herbs dipped in grease, 
onions and salt; if the mixture is not thick enough, rice 
flour is added, and the whole coloured with safTroa 
Cranes, herons, and peacocks are cooked with ginger. 
Great attention is paid to outward appearance and to 
colour ; the dishes must be yellow or green, or adorned 
with leaves of gold and silver, a fashion still preiervcd in 
the East Elaborate cakes, "subtleties " as they were then 
termed, arc also served ; they represent : 

Maydon Muy thai bol> virgyne 

Anil UabridJe grctynge hut with an Avo.* 

■ Thw KtlpH and caufiwU are found in : " The formfl of Ciiry. n roll of 
ancient Engtiah cookery coinpiJed about A-d. 1390, by the muLci-cook 
ot Kinc Kichord 11.," cd. Teisci London, 17S0, 8vc (fmund loo In the 
" AnUijiiitaJca CuliiiariK," of Wanii;!, 1791. 4(0). The prol<jgue Infenns lu 



People adorn their bodies as well as their houses ; luxury 
in dress is carried to such an excess that Parliament finds 
it neces-sary to interfere, and forbids women of the lower 
classes to wear Axyy furs except cat and rabbit.^ Edn-ard 
III. buysof master Paul de Monteflor gowns for the queen, 
in " stufTs from over the sea," to the enormous amount 
of 1,330 pounds. He himself wears a velvet waistcoat, 
on which he has caused golden pelicans to be embroidered 
by William Courtcnay, a London embroiderer. He gives 
his mistress Alice Ferrers 21.868 lar^ pearls, and thirty 
ounces of smaller ones. His daughter Margaret recrives 
from him two thousand pearls as a wedding present ; he 
buys his sister Alitor a gilded carriage, tapestried and 
embroidered, with cushions and curtains of silk, for which 
he pays one thousand pounds* At that time one might 
for the same sum have bought a herd of sixteen hundred 

The sense of beauty, together with a reverence for anj 
/ .a worship of it, was spreading among the nation whc 
1 thoughts shordy before used to run in quite different line 
\ Attention is paid to physical beauty, such as it had nev 
>^cccived before. Men and women wear tight garment^ 
showing the shape of the 6gure. In the x-erscs he com- 
posed for his tomb at Canterbury, the Black Prince 

Ifait (hit mutrr-cook of Rlchuil's bid brni (piidcil by principle, anil ibac ibe 
book " WHS compiird h; aisenl and avyM-nroi of in.iisim [o(J phUik and of 
philOA^tiic ikAt dwcltid in his court." — "The boke tA Nurture folowy^ 
Englondu Kue by mc John RuhcU," ed. Ftiniii^lli Ejirlf Ecii;ti>b Text 
Society. 186S. Sn>. Ruudl wat muiW of (h« hall 10 Hunipliiey, dulic of 
GloucotM ; he wrote whrn he wx« old, in the fint p«n of (he ftriccnth century ; 
U ha diitni 10 teach the iradtliuru mid good minneis of fortner limet, ii mutt 
be Mtppoced the cuilftnu h« de«cril>#i diie from the ceign of Richard II. See 
below, p. 515. 

' Yeai li&j- The "dgnel" and the "eapil" arc, hoKcvcr. toll 
"Rotuli PirlLimnitanim,'' vol- iu p. 2St. 

• " liRi» of ihe EKchM)uef," ed- Devon, l8j7. pp. 14a, 147, 1S9, 
6 Ed. 111. Riohjirl II. {Myt 4aopoiiniU for* carriage for tlie queen, and i 
a umplc can z poitndi only. Ihid., pp. 336 and 063. 



mourns over "hi? beauty which has all gone." Richard 
IL, while Ktill alive, has graven on his tomb that he was 
" corpore procerus."' The taste of the lingli'^h for finery 
becomBS so well known, that to ihein is ascribed, even 
in France, the invention of new fashions. Recalling lo 
his daughters, in order to teach them modesty, that "the 
deluge in the time of Noah happened for the pride and 
dii^uiscs of men, and mostly of women, who remodelled 
their shapes by means of gowns and attire." the Knight 
de la Tour Landry gives the English ladies the credit, or 
rather the discredit, of having invented the immeasurable 
head-dresses worn at that day. It ts an evil sign ; in 
that country people amuse themselves too much: "In 
England many there arc that have been blamed, the 
report goes, I know not whether it is wrongly or 
rightly." » 

C Owing to the attention paid to physical beauty in 
England, sculptors now begin — a rare thing at that time 
— to have living models, and to-copy the nude. In the 
abbey of Meaux, " MeUa," near Beverley, on the banks 
of the Kumber, was seen in the fourteenth century a ^ight 
that would have been rather sought for by the banks of 
the Arno, under the indulgent sky of Italy, The abbot 
Hugh of Lcven having ordered a new crucifix for the 

• Til* vcrtci of ihe BUcV Prince (below, page JJJ) arc found In his 
yni\, together with minulr Avtaih eoncrming tho carvinp with v[hj<;h hi* 
toflifa ttuH be ■domed, and the manner he wiihei to be rtpieuntcd on 
(ti "tuul urmec de fier de Euene." Sinnky, '' Historicd Memorials iif 
Canterbury," 1885, p. 132, The lomb df Richard II. ai Wc3iinii>ier wu 
bcilt in hii lifetime and under hi* cycx. The orit^tiai indeniur<r« Ii;ivf been 
praerved, by which " Nichola» Broker e( Uudfrey Pre»l, citeinc ei cftp«T< 
•mytbn d« I^un'IrM " agr«« \n have the autuet af .KtchuTd and Anne 
nutd«, such m ihey arc seen today with "cKii|itU[«a en luur la diie 
toumbe," April 14, 139$. Another contr.ici concernt the maiblc Buuoniy: 
botti are in the RecoHJ Office, " Exche<)uer Treuury of lt)« rvdpt," " Mii> 
ctllanei," 3/40. 

■ " Le livrc du f.hevaliei de ta Tout Landry p>»iT I'en^cignrment de ks fillet," 
«d Monfauglon, I'acia, 1S54, ixino, ppL 46 and 9$, wiillca in 1371. 


convent chapel, the artist "had always a naked man under 
hift eyes, and he strove to give to his crucifix the beauty 
of form of his model." ' 

One last tratt may be added to the others ; not only the 
beauty of live beings, but that also of inanimate things 
is felt and cared for, the beauty of land^cape:>, and of 
trees. In 1350-1 theCommonscomplainofthecuttingdown 
of the large trees overshadowing the houses, those large 
trees, dear already to English hearts, and point out in 
Parliament the loss of this beauty, the great " dam^e, 
loss, and blemish" that results from it for the dwellings.* 

In nearly every respect, thus, the Englishman of to-day 
is formed, and receives his chief features, under the 
Angevin princes Edward III. and Richard II.: practical, 
adventurous, a lover of freedom, a great traveller, a wealthy 
merchant, an excellent sailor. We have had a glimpse of 
what he is ; let us now listen to what he says. 



' " Et homini-tn nuilum coram te itnnlFin prospnit, MCnn^um ai}W 
rormoaain iBia^ini^in cruciiiiutn tpnim apiiiu Aieantel," " Chronio 
monutnii de Mi^lra,'' rd. Bon<1, RnlU, 186S, vol. UL p. 35- Hugh of Lcven, 
who o[d««d this cruci^x, wm »h1>ot from 1339 ta 1349- Thomas of BnitODf 
aaitior of the chronicle, comiiilcd it nt the end of ihc fourircnih ccnitiiy- \ 

' TbeCommont fioiut out tliat, u ih« ruy»l puiveyora "abiiral et ount 
mbatuz lei •.rbreti crMsauntt entaur Its rnvisicMia dM gcnti At ladlie commune, 
en grant daoiflgc, gast et Mciiiiuemeiiit dc lour maniioiu, qe picsc & Nmik 
Snt:n«ni Ic Koi iiuc dcsorcma tielx arbro nc kiobi copes nc piis en cootTC 
U voloQif dea Kigacura dm ditz mAutioiu." 

Aniwa : " II Kmbk hu conscil qe cnle pttilion tst raaiiabte.'' " Kottilll 
Puliamcnturum," 35 VA. III., vol. ii. p. 3JO. 




The new nation had its poet, Geoffrey Chaucer. By his 
origin, his education, his tastes, his manner of life, as well 
as by his writings, Chaucer represents the new age ; he 
paints it from nature, and is a part of it. His bingraphy 
is scarcely less characteristic than his works, for he describes 
nothing through hearsay or imagination. He is himself 
an actor in the scenes he depicts ; he docs not dream, he 
sees them. 

His history is a sort of reduction of that of the F.ngh'sh 
people at that day, They arc enriched by trade, and 
Chaucer, the son of merchants, grows up umon^ them. 
The Knglish people no longer repair to I'aris in order lo 
study, and Chaucer does not go either : their king wages 
war in France, and Chaucer follows Kdward along the 
military roads of that country ; they put more and more 
trust in Parliament, and Chaucer sits in Parliament as 
member for Kent. They take an interest in things of 
ibeauty, they are fond of the arts, and want them to be all 
agtowwith ornamentation and bright with smiles; Chaucer 
is clerk of the king's works, and superintends the repairs 
and embellishments of the royal palaces. Saxon monotony, 
the sadnts-N that followed after Hastings, arc forgotten past 
memory ; this new England knows how to laugh and also 
to smile ; she is a merry Kngland. with bursts of joy, 



and also an England of legends, of sweet songs, and of 
merciful Madonnas. The Engliind of laughter and the 
England of smiles are both in Chaucer's works. 


Chaucer's life exactly fills the period we have now 
come to, during which the English people acquired their 
definitive characteristics: he was born under Edward III. 
and he died shortly after the accession of Henry of 
Lancaster. At that time Petrarch and Boccaccio were 
long since dead, France had no poet of renown, and 
Chaucer was without comparison the greatest poet of 

His family belonged to the merchant class of the City. 
His father, John Chaucer, his uncle, Thoma-s Hcyroun, and 
other relations besides, were members of the Corporation 
of Wine Merchants, or Vintners. John Chaucer waa 
purveyor to the Court, and he accompanied Edward III. 
on his first expedition to the Continent; hence a connec- 
tion with the royal family, by which the future poet was to 
profit. The Chauccrs' establishment was situated in that 
Thames Street which still exists, but now counts only 
modern houses ; Geoffrey was probably bom there in 
1340, or a little earlier' 
y*^ Chaucer spent the years of his childhood and youth in 
(London: a London which the great fire of 1666 almost 
^ totally destroyed, that old London, then quite young, of 

■ ' The dnte 1318 ha* [ong bui wn.ngly hren helipved lo be ihe tn» 
The |>iiumEinl docuniMili cum^L-rninji Cliaiic^ci ire lo be fotmd in the AppMiAx 
lo his bi<^iophy by Sir H. Nicol»i, in " I'oeiTcnl Woiks," ed. R- Monii. 
Aldinc Pucti, vol. i. p. 93 If., in ibe "Trial FotewonU," of I>(. Kurnivall, 
1871, »nd in the "Life RccoriU of Chaucer," 1875 ff., Chnucw Society. 
One of the Eiiaiildpil ordtrntncci meant to check the fiBiids i>f the tintnen is 
ligtAed by Mveral mrmbers of the eorpoMtioii, and among oihera tiy John 
ChMictr, 1343. Sec Riley, " McinoriaJk, 'A LunJun," p. an. 



which illuminated manuscripts have preserved to us the 
picturesque aspect The paternal house was near the 
river, and by the side of the streamlet called Walbrook, 
since covered over, but which then flowed in the open air. 
On the noble river, the waters of which were perhaps not 
as blue as illuininators painted them, but which were not 
yet the liquid mud wc ail know, ships from the Mediter- 
ranean and the Baltic glided slowly, borne by the tide. 
Houses with several stories and pointed roofs lined the 
water, and formed, on the ground floor, colonnades that 
served for warehouses, and under which merchandise was 
landed.' The famous London Bridge, built under King 
John, almost new still, for it was only entering upon its 
second centuiy and was to live six hundred years, with its 
many piers, its sharp buttresses, the houses it bore, its 
chapel of St. Thomas, stood against the line of the horizon, 
and connected the City with the suburb of Southwark. 
On that side were more honscs, a 6ne Gothic church, 
which still cxi<its, hostelries in abundance, for it was the 
place of arrival for those coming by land ; and with the 
hostelries, places of amusement of every kind, a tradition 
So well established that most of the theatres in the time of 
Elizabeth were built there, and notably the celebrated 
Globe, where Shakespeare's plays were performed. Save 
for this suburb, the right shore of the Thames, instead of 
the warehouses of to-day, offered to view the open 
country, trees, and green meadows Some way down, on 
the left side, rose the waits of the Tower ; and further up, 
towards the interior of the Cily, the massive pile of St. 
Paul's stood out above the houses. It waH then a Gothici 
cathedral ; Wren, after the great fire, replaced it by the 
Renaissance edifice wc sec to-day. The town was sur- 

' Seethe view of London, pkinied in Oie fifiecnth century, obrinu»ly ftn«n 
natutc, reproduced ■! the beginning of ihurul-i'rorn VtS. Kojrtl ifi F ii. In ihe 
British Mu*ei9m.iihoi»ineihe Tower, the lind)^, the wharfit, Old St. t\iurR. etc 




rounded by walls, portions of which still remain, with 
Roman foundations in some placet^.* At inten-als gates 
opened on the country.dofcndcd by bastions, their memory 
being preserved at this day by names of streets: Aldgate, 
Bishopsgatc, &c. 

The town itself was populous and busy. The streets, 
in which Chaucer's childhood was spent, were narrow, 
bordered by houses with projecting stories, with signs 
overhanging the way, with "pentys" barring the footpath, 
and all sorts of obstructions, against which innumerable 
mimicipa! ordinances protested in %'ain- Riders' heads 
caught in the signs, and it was cnjoinet' to make the 
poles shorter ; manners being violent, the wearing of arms 
was prohibited, but honest folk alone conforined to the 
law, thus facilitating matters for the others ; cleanliness 
was but indifiTcrcnt ; pigs ran hither and thither. A decree 
of the time of Edward I. had vainly prescribed that they 
should ail be killed, except those of St, Anthony's Hospital, 
which would be recognised by the bell hanging at their 
neck : " And whoso will keep a pig, let him keep it in his 
own house." Even this privilege was withdrawn a little 
later, so elegant were maiiufrs becoming.* 

In this laborious city, among sailors and merchants, 
acquiring a taste for adventure and for talcs of distant 
lands, hearing his father describe the beautiful things to be 
seen at Court, Geoffrey grew up, from a child bcaimc a 
youth, and, thanks to his family's acquaintances, was 
jjQ' appointed, at seventeen, page to Elizabeth, wife of Lionel, 
^ son of Edward III.3 In his turn, and not as a merchant. 


* Such w ihe cam with a torwer in the churchyard of SI. Cite*'*, Qipplcjpie. 

' " £i cji pork viicdra noiit, le noriic dcins !« iticaMmn." Four jurrmea 
wcic to act %% pubhc excciiior!^ : "Qualuor liomin'r^ ciccti cl Jiirmli ad intcf> 
ficicnitni parciM inventot vagcinlrii irfm cnuto* dvllalii." Kiley "Munimenta 
Gildhaillx," KalU. 1859. 4 volt. 8vo i " Llb«r Albui." pp. 270 and 590. 

> April, 1357, ■» infotinnlion gnlhnc^ frnm n fragiticnt of Ch> account* of 
Ihc h«uscb»ld of Eliubctb found in the binding of a book. 



he bad access to the Court and belonged to it. He 
dressed in the fashion, and spent seven shillings for a 
short cloak or paitock, slices, and a pair of red and black 
^ In 1359 he took part in the expedition to France, led by 
the king. It seemed as if it must be a death-blow to the 
French: the disaster of Poicticrswas not yet repaired ; the 
Jacquerie had just tal^en place, as well as the Parisian riot* 
and the betrayal and death of Marcel ; the king of France 
was a prisoner in London, and the kingdom had for its leader 
a youth of twenty-two, frail, learned, pious, iinskilled in 
war. It looked as though one had but to take ; but once 
more the saying of Froissart was verified ; in the fragile 
breast of the dauphin beat the heart of a great citizen,and 
the event proved that the kingdom was not "so discomfited 
but that one always found therein some one against whom 
to fight" The campaign was a hajjpy one neither for 
Edward nor for Chaucer. The king of England met with 
nothing but failures: he failed before Reims, failed before 
I'aris, and was only too pleased to sign the treaty of 
Brtftigny. Chaucer was taken by the French,' and his fate 
would not have been an enviable one if the kiny had not 
paid his ransom. Edward gave sixteen pounds to recover 
his daughter-in-law's page. Evcrytliing has its value: the 
same Edward had spent fifty pounds over a horse called 
Bayard, and seventy for another called Labryt, which was 

After his return Chaucer was attached to the person of 

■ In the contrnvcriiy between Sir Richanl Scropr and Sir Robert Gro^vcnori 
concerning a quniiun of arniutial btariiigi. Chiucer, being called ai witncu, 
declares (1386) itiM he hat seen Sir Kich.tril ii»e the dispute emblem; "en 
Fraixci dcvADl U vklle dc Retlcni ... el ioinl il |lc| vi*t armct piu tout Ic 
clit nage lanquc Ic dil UcRrey nloii pris. " " Tbc Scro]^ and Giwvenor G«n- 
UoifCTty, 1385-90," Lomtoii, 3 vols, fol., vol. U p. 178. " Kdicn " ii Ketticl 
In QuunpafDc |na[ Reiien in Rriitany, where ihc ctpeditioo did not i;d}. 
Chtitcar took (un in anolhercomjiaign " in |iailibUG Francla;,'' in 1369. 


" Edward in the capacity of valet of the chamber, " valcttus 
camera: regis' ; this is exactlj' the title that Moliere was 
later to honour in his turn. Hts functions consisted lo 
making the royal bed. holding torches, and carrying 
messages. A little later he wa.s squire, armiger, scutifer. 
and as such served the prince at table, and rode after him 
in liis jounicys.' Mis duties do not seem to have absorbed 
all his thoughts, for he found time to read many books, lo 
write many poems, to be madly enamoured of a lovely 
unknown person who did not respond to his passion * to 
marry " Doinicella " or " Damoiselle " Philippa, attached to 
the service of the queen, then to the service of Constance, 
second wife of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster— without 
ceasing however, because he could not, as he assures us, do 
otherwise, still to love his unknown beauty.' 

■ On this see Furnivall, " Quiuccr m valet and csfjuiic," Chuieer $«cictj', 

'A pusage IB OuuMi's "Book oDhc Ducheue" (1369I. lines 30 (T., Inves 
Utile doubt ui to ihe realily nf the unlucky jMttion he deuribeft. The poet 
int«r>upti the trab of his tpcech 10 kodwer ■ tuppoitd quesuoo put to him ■■ 
to (lie caiuca of hU ilupicni^n »n<l " mcluiailyt " \ 

I holdc hit be a iilcncMc 
Thai I have iufftei) ihit cif^ yor«. 
And jwl TKf bote ii never the nccc ; 
Poct ther ii phisicicn liu( ouo. 
Thai may uic htle. 

Pi[i«in«f Ihe "Book." See, In conneciion with thi*. Ihe "Compleynie DDtO 
Pile " Who wtu Ihe loved one we do nni know ; cnutd it Iw ibst Um poM 
WM pUjing upon her name In (uch lines ft* lfae«e : 

I-'ut kiniily liy your heriloee rifht 

Ye been uiinextd cvet umo BouhIct: ? fl. 71). 

TliBe wm mnetout rajnihe^ of Uonamy, BonenfiLui, Boncixur. A Wlllimn 
<le Boncner ii luined in the " Excerpix e Romlix Finiom," of Roberts, voL 

ii. PI'- 309. 43>- 432- 

) The ilaie of Chaucn's niatriace hu not been aM».-riaintd. We Icnow that 
hi* wife wa« called PhJlipipt, thai one Philippa Chaucer belonged 10 the 
queen's hnu»ehold in 1366. urnl Ihai the Philippa Cliauccf. wife of the poet, 
wuai ■ later dale in Ihe lerrice of the Ducheci of Lancuirr, after ha¥ii^ 
been in ihc Krrioe of Ihe <|upcn. It teciut oaoat like]]' ihai the two women 




He reads, he loves, he writes, he is a poe:. We do not 
know whom he loved, but we know what he rewl and what 
he wrote at that time. He read the works which were in 
fa'«hion in the elegant society he Hved among : romances 
of chivalry, love-songs, allegorical poems, from " Roland " 
and " Tristan" to the "Roman dc la Rose." Poets, even 
die greatest, rarely show their originality at twenty, and 
Chaucer was no exception to the rule ; he imitated the 
writings best liked by those around him. which, at the 
Court of the king, were mostly French books. Howe\'er 
it might be with the nation, the princes had remained 
French ; the French language was their native tongue ; the 
beautiful book», richly illustrated, that they kept to divert 
themselves with on dull days, in their "withdrawing -room," 
or " chambrc dc rctrait." were French books, of which the 
subject for the most part was love. In this respect there 
was, even at that time, no difference between the north and 
the south. Froissart stays at Orthe7, in 1 388, with 
Monseigneur Gaston f h^bus de Koix ; and at Eltham, at the 

were itic Kune pcmm : same name, wme funcliun. ume p«n&ion oflen mailu, 
/ereirrd 10 in ihc uimc wortb in public dixuments, lot example: t° 4a Ed- 
Ill., 1368. '* ritilippK Chxucrr cui dominui Rci ctecmi inArcu annuaiim ul 
•Ekccarium ptrdpienilM pru bono icrvilia per ipum I'hilippam Philippe Kegine 
Anglic impcntn per littrah ku»» jMlpnlrit nuppr c«nccwit. ..." 3° 4 Kic. 
IL, ijSii " PhUippec Chtucn nuper uni domiccllaniin rhllippn nupcr 
Rq;inr .Atietic"— ihc hue) died in 1369 — "cui doniinutKcx Flilwacdux avus 
RegiK hii)u« -\ moicu* aiiniuaiiin ad Maocariuni auum iiercipit^aiUt pro bo«io 
•CTvitLC per iptira mm fiilem ilominci Kcgi •|Uaiii tlicie Regino impeiiio per 
lilcrot' pat-entct nupcr coitc-cuil ... in dcruuii* lilii lilKiatU per 
inaniis ptcdkii GAlfridi mariti sui. . • ." " roelicnl Wutk»." cd. MortUi 
i. p. loS. Who rhitippn wiu liy bitih in doubifut, bui it wcmi likely 
thai Uie wiii! Hhilippa Kuei, daughiei of Sir Payne Kut^i, whu hniled, like 
Ihc (]ur<n hcnclf, from llainiiill — hcnec her connexion wiih the queen 
— BoJ uiicr of Catherine Koct who became ihc oiitticM and then ibc 
ihhtd wife nf Jahn nf Gnun[ -hence ihc favnur in which ihc poet au^ his 
family kliHxl with ihc Lancasttiint. It vx\\\t attain very ptohnble, Ihtni^h not 
abfoLutety ceimin. thai Tliomss Chaucei, who iised ai difli-ient times both the 
Chaueci and the RcMt amift, Spcalcer.of ihe Houte of Cnmnionh undei Heoiy 
V. , a nua of gTcat ioflueiicc. wu oac of the cbtldien of the pocl. 




Court of Richard If. m 1394- In each case he uses exactly 
the same endeavours to please: both personages arc men 
uf the .laine kind, having the iainc ideal in life, imbued' 
with the same notions, and representing the same civilisa- 
tion. He finds them both speaking French very well ; 
Gaston "talked to mc, not in his ov.-n Gascon, but in fair 
and good French " ; Richard, too, ** full well spoke and read 
French." The historian was duly recommended to each of 
them, but he relied especially, to make himself welcome^ 
on a present he h;id brought, the same in both cases, si] 
French manuscript containing amorous poems, which 
manuscript "the Comte dc Foix saw full wiUingly ; and 
every night, after his supper, I read to him from it. Bui 
In reading none durst speak nor say a word ; for he want 
mc to be well heard." 

He takes the same precautions when he goes to F.ngland,] 
where he had not been seen for a quarter of a century, artd 
where he scarcely knew any one now : " And I had before- 
hand caused to be written, engrossed and illuminated and 
collected, all the amorous and moral treatises that, in the 
lapse of thirty-four years, I had, by the grace of God and 
of Love, made and compiled." He waits a favourable 
opportunity, and one day when the councils on the aflairai 
of State are ended, "desired the king to see the book that I 
had brought him. Then he saw it in his chamber, for all pre- 
pared I had it ; I put it for him upon his bed. He openedi 
it and looked inside. and it plca^tcd him greatly : and please 
him well it might, for it was illuminated, written and orna- 
mented and covered in scarlet velvet, with ten silver nails 
gilded with gold, and golden roses in the middle, and with 
two great clasps gilded and richly worked in the middle 
with golden roses. 

" Then the king asked me of what it treated, and I 
him : oC Love. 

" With this answer he was much rejoiced, and look* 



inside in several places, and read therein, for he spoke and 
read French full well ; and then had it taken by one of his 
knights, whom he cilled Sir Richard Creilnn, and carried 
into his wiihdra wing-room, and treated nie better and 
better." » 

Long before this last journey of the illustrious chronicler, 
Chauocrwas familiar with his poems and he wasacquainlcd, 
as most men around him were, with those of his French 
conieinporaries : Dcyuilcvillc. Machault. Dcs Champs, and 
later Graiison." He slnys like them of love, of spring, of 
the field-daisy^; he had read wiLh passionate admiration 

• Book It. chnp. 40. 

* FroiMUl decluc* conoeminK hix own paenH that he *' let cnmmenrhs h 
faiK «« r>n lie pice Naslr« Sdgneur. r362." He wtoiu ihem " ii I'tyile Ae 
Diru «t tl'Amoon, ut i le canlc^mpliiliun et plaitance An pluifutn hnii* ct 
noblcesienuur!! ci dc plui^oun nobles vi raillui*<lam«s." MS, Fc. 831 in the 
National I.thmry. Putt.— On GuilUiimc dc Hcevilrvfllc. who vroir ftbool 
i^jo-5, »« Ward, " Ciitalogue of Ktmuiicc*." 189J, vol. ii, p. jS^ : Hill. 
"An Ancient Poern of G. dr UuJI«villF." London. iSjS. ito. illu«iimc<^,and my 
" Pirn PI<>viT)iin,"<hnp. vii. Chaucer imirateilftninhiin hit " A.R.C.i"'>nc of 
hi>fir»i work*.— On Mochault.wliodiCTi in ij77,iceTa*W, "tEuvrci Choisic*," 
Reinw and Parii, 1849, 8vo, a.n<t Thoimu, " Rainniiia." \. pp. J25 11. (pa.iMt 
Imlb conoeiniing biin, daied ijjo, ijp, 1333. tJ3Sl— On D«i CtuiB|H, ax 
'* rEuvTf« ComplriGs pul>1i^ d'apt^ Ic ManiiJtcril Ac k Rihlialfai'ciue 
Nslionnit," liy ihc Marquit Ae IJucuk dc St. Hilaire, Sociil^ dcs AnciciM 
Tales, 1878 ff. (which MS- caiiiains. e.g., 1 175 liallatU, 171 imindeU, and 80 
virclaii}, kD<l A. Sdiiadin, " Etuiii- >«» Eu^tachc <lc<i Chanipi," VcnaUIn, 
1878. 8ir*i. —On GTonwn, a knight and » poet tlain in a Jiididal duel, in 1397, 
tee Piagel. ** Cjranuin el »ei pii£viei." " Kuniuniu." vol. nix. : Chaucer imiintnl 
in hit lolet yean his " Ccnnplcynl of Vcnua," (tota a poem of *' Cnunion, 
flout cf hen ihai make in Fiaunve." 

) Chauco'ilavaiirilc Aowcc hr ^nnxianily pnittc!i it ; ii U Tor him a woiniw 
Rower («« c*peciall)' Ihc prulii|[iie of ihc "' LcijenJ of tiouil Women"). Thii 
flowet );n;4y«l ihc !udi« favoui with the Krvnoh m<Mlplii of Chaucer. One of 

Ibc ballade of Fioivictct hau U^t iU tiuiden : " tiuft tiHiIes flnon j'ainic I* 

iMighniie" (-Le Paiadi* d' Amour," in " Pc^ka," ed. Schdci, RruMclt, 
1870, J 1-olk. Svo). vol. i. p. 4(>. Dn Champs {ihukiI the uirne flowei ; Marhaiill 
<tfOt«a "Dilde la MuKuetite"!" lXuvr« Ch«ii«." ed. Taitie, p. iJi): 

I'aJm unc dcur i[ui I'uvvre d qui a'cnclinc 

Vers Ic Milcil, ilcjinir quiind U chciiiiuc : 

El quand il v%l cnuchici wuki ta couninc 
Vai tiuii ol&cntc, 

Elle >« ctoMl aiiuiciit (|ue le jour fine. 


the poem, composed in the preceding century, which was 
mosi liked of all the literature of the time, tlie " Roman de 
la Rase" 

This famous poem was then at the height of a reputation 
which was to last Luti! after the Renaissance. The faults 
which deter us from it contributed to its popularity as 
much as did its merits ; digressions, disquisitions, and ser- 
mons did not inspire the terror they do now ; twenty-three 
thousand lines of moral isaliori, psychological analysis, 
abstract dissertations, delivered by personified ab^^tractions, 
did not weary the young imagination of the ancestors. 
The form is allegorical : the rose is the maiden whom the 
lover desires to conquer: this form, which fell later into 
disfavour, delighted the readers of the fourteenth century 
for whom it was an additional pleasure to unriddle these 
easy enigmas. 

The Church had helped to bring allegories into vogue ; 
commentators had early explained the New Tcslamcnt by 
the Old. one being an allegory of the other : the adventure 
of Jonah and the whale was an allegory of the resurrec- 
tion ; the Bestiaries were senejn of allegories ; the litanies 
of the Virgin lists of symbols. The methods of pious 
authors were adopted by worldly ones ; Love had his 
religion, his allegoric;, his litanies, not to speak of his 
paradise, his hell, and his ten commandments. He had a 
whole celestial court of personified abstractions, composed 
of those tenuous and transparent beings who welcome or 
repel the lover in the garden of the Rose. It was a new 
religion, this worship of woman, unknown to the ancients ; 
Ovid no longer sufficed, imitators could not help iiltering 
his aim and ideal ; the new cult required a gospel ; that 
gospel was the " Roman de la Rose." ■ 

* Cuillaumc de Loni* wrote the finl part of lite " Romut " ab. 1337 ; J< 
it Mcun vnoic ihe Mcond lownnlx 1377. On ilir Koutccs of the pucm aec (be 
impoinnt wuik of Liin{]oi«: " Oti|[inn el Suurccs du Koman dc la Rue," 





The discrepancies in the book did not shock the 
generality of readers ; art at that time was full of con- 
trasts, and life of contradictions, and llic thing was so 
usual that it went unnoticed. Saints prayed on the 
threshold of churches, and gargoyles laughed at the 
tsaints. Guillaumc de Lorris built the porch of his 
] cathedral of Love, and placed in the niches lull, long 
I figures of pure and noble mien. Jean dc Mcun, forty 
years later, continued the edifice, and was not sparing 
of gargoyles, mocking, grotesque, and indecent. Thence 
followed interminable discussions, some holding for Guil- 
laumc, others for Jean, some rejecting the whole romance, 
I others, the most numerous, accepting it all. These dissen- 
sions added still more to the fame of the work, and it was 
so popular that there exist more than two hundred manu- 
scripts of it.' The wise biographer of the wise king 
Charles V., Christina of Frsan, protested in the name of 
insulted women : "To you who have beautiful daughters, 
and desire well to introduce them to honest life, give to 
them, give the Romaunt of the Rose, to learn how to 
discern good from evil ; what do I say, but evil from good I 
And of what utility, iior what does it profit listeners 
to hear such horrible things?" The author "never had 
acquaintance nor association with an honourable or virtuous 

Paris, 1891. 8va M. Langbis has tnicci] ihc uriKiiiBb for nui of the 
17,500 Irnek of Jmd dv Meun ; h« U piqxuiii); (1S94] a, niucb-nvcded ciUkal 
edition oT ihei»t. 

* One of Ihcni haka *ort of liiognphirail intcretl u having belonged 14 Sir 
Rlctuitd Siuiy, Chuucct's c-ulltuguc in one of hi» miMJoD* (cce bcloit, p. i3i^)i 
it wiu aflem-atdk puccliilKd for Ttiiimiu, duke o( Cilauccttet, lan iif &lwiird 
ni.. nml it now in Ihe Btitiih Mu^um. MS. Ku)'a] 19 B xiii. "Cnte 
U«r« «tt i Thomot lif &u Roy, due dc Gloiic', achnlps '\ct. etcctiU'Uis M<>nt* 
Kic' St<i>Yi" II ha>> viirioiih inininlutc* eiciiiplifying ihc WAy in which popple 
^ctuccd 10 thcnuclvcs at ihat time Olympian godi and roiiinnGc bvcxwi. Tlic 
*' I>icu d'oRKiat " fiKVi» ai a tall pcnun wilb a twix, a cl'Wk, and a <;ruwn. a 
bow in hl» luud and Lirgv i^d wings un hii back. Sec IbU 16, " ctnnenc ll 
dicjt d'omoon oavra rjiinnnt de ws laioTcs." 



woman "; he has knnwn none save those of " dissolute 
and evil life." and has taken all the others to be according 
to that pattern.' The illustrious Gersoii. in the liftcenth 
century, did the romance the honour of refuting it by a 
treatise according lo rule ; but the poem was iionc the less 
translated into Latin, Flemish, and Hnglisli, printed a 
number of times at the Renaissance and rejuvenated and 
edited by MaroL 

There were several Knglish translations, and one of them 
was the work of our young "Valcttus camera; regis." 
This translation by Chaucer is lost,* but we are aware not 
only that it existed, but even that it wa^ celebrated ; its 
merit was known in France, and Des Champs, in sending 
his works to Chaucer,3 congratulates him, above all things. 
on having " planted the rose-tree " in " the isle of giants," 

' "A vouiqui bcll<» filk» twn et Wni la d^ret i Inltoduire k vie hon- 
nMt«. bailliM tear, iKiUliei te Kortimiitic t\e la Rose. pnuT>ivr('nilri;±di«cctTicf la 
bavn ilu itinl, <\^r. ilir.jc, niaU Ic inal ilu kiRh. Kl i (juel ulilitf n« ikfjuo)' proa- 
file au\ (yjoxii Dlr lan; dc laMur« } " Jean dc Mcun " oiici{Uc» n'olocoinUmoe 
ne hanlbc ilc fL-mnie hunuiotilc ii< fcriu<.-iibir, [iiais piii pliuicUTt feminra dia- 
•olvet e( dr mule vie lianiM, cnmmc fnm <:<>mmiin^ciii In luuiricux ciikU ou 
taingny Mvoir qut toulct tcllex fcuMcni cnr d'autirs ii'svoii conic no itnuice.'* 
*' Ti&MX. Hii le Kommani <l« la Rom," in MS. Fr. 604 in th« Nuiooftl 
LibntiTi PAti*, Tol, 114 and 115. 

• An in 11)111 plcier iiaii^aiJon of tlit " Itomiui " In Eiislish vtise hM cone 
duvii taiiti in b «ing1c MS. prrM:rvrd in ih^- Ilimrriiin collcciion, CiMgow. 
It it anonpnoiiA i a tiiidy of thit tml, liy Lindner and liy Kftlna. haiihown Ihtt 
il it made up of three fr>minenl» of <jitlri«nt orintii, pr'isddy, anti lanpMigC^ 
TTie fint fracniciil vnUn will; line 17051 lciivin|- a acnlciitx uiitiniihed ; bvlween 
the icconil and iliiri) tragnicnt* ihctc \\ a gap of wmk ihan 5,000 Unn. Tbe 
fim fragmeni alone mithi, im Rccnuni \A it* itylr and renificalian, be tbe 
vra-rk of Chnucet, but thU ie onl)' a •urmiiie. and we have no dii*el proof «f U. 
Th.e " Rumaunt" it lu be fmitid in Skenl't cdltiun of the " Complete Worka" 
of Chaucer, i894> vul- '• Foi FfagiucDt I. the French Icat Is given almig with 
(he Eiiglith Uanilatiun. 

> Mnh pran en ^i lex euvnm d'e«nilier 
Que par Clifford de moy avoir pourtaa. 

For D«» Champa, Oiaucu b a Sucntln. a Seneca, sn Ovid, an "aigle uis 
haull," " <Euvrc»Coropletes,*' Pari*. 187S fl"., vol. ii. p. 138. 



the "angelic land," " Angleicrre," and on being there the 
god of worldly lo%'es : 

Tu tt d'smouts mrinilnini dieux on Albio 
Et lie la Rose en la icrrc An|>^li<|u<.' . . . 
En tKiii ungli^ 1c livrc liarMtatat. 

This authority in matters of love which Des Champs 
ascribes to his English brother-author, is real. Chaucer 
composed then a (juuruity of Rinorous poems, in the 
French style, for himself, for others, to while away the 
time, to allay his sorrows. Of them said Guwcr : 

The lande ful^lled liover alt. 

Most of them arc lost ; bnt wc knnw, from conlcmporaii«ous 
allusions, that they swarmed, and from himself that he 
wrote "many an ympne " lo the Gud of love, " baladcs, 
roundels, vJrclaycs," 

bokn. Mi^s. (lytccs 
Id tyme, or ello In cadence, 

each and all " in reverence of Love." ' A few poems, how- 
ever, of that early period, have reacheti us. They arc, 
amongst others, his " Comp!L*ynte unto Pite " — 

Pitc, [tiat I have wutkbc so yote >f|0 

With hcrte Mire, and liil of bny pcync ■ ■ • 

— a rough sketch of a subject that Sidney was to take up 
later and bring to perfection, and his " Book of ihi; 

' " Hous of Fame," Itne 621 ; '" L*g*iiil of Good Women." line 433, 
"Coitiplcle WorL»," 1894. vol, 1. pp. 19 and 96. Such was the fcpuliirtrti of 
Chaucer iWt a {;'cal many wrilin);* wctc alliibulnl to him -a way lo increaae 
ihvif iC|iuiaiion, noi bw. The mocc ituportani ul tticm me : " Th« Court of 
LoTe"; Ihc " IVmk o( Cu|miJ," iilhefwite "Cuckoo and Nlghlingale" ; 
" Fluwet nn<I Leaf," ihe " Koniauiii of the Roue,'' siieh an vrc have ii : the 
" Complaini of n Lover's Life " ; ihc " Tcsiann;ni o( Love " (in pr«*e, lee 
btluw, page S33) : Ihc "Isle of Lndic*," 01 "Chuucer't Df«*m " ; vatioui 
bslkda. MoHt of ih(»c wgrka (noi the " Tesumeiil "| iv* to be found Iji 
the ■* Poetical Work* " of Chaucer, Aliline Pucu. ctl. Munia. 



Duchcssc," composed on the occasion of the deat 
Blanche of Lancaster, wife of John of Gaunt 

The occasion is sad, but the setting is exquisite, for 
Chaucer wishes to raise to the Duchess who has dis- 
appeared a lasting monument, that shall prolong her 
memory, an elegant one, graceful as herself, where her 
portrait, traced by a friendly hand, shall recall the charms 
of a beauty that each morning renewed. So lovable was 
she, and so fulL of accomplishment. 

That the wu ly k lo lorche tirighl, 
That every iniin may lake of light 
Yni^b, and hit halh ncvci the I«hc.* 

Already the descriptions have a freshness that no con- 
temporaries equal, and show a care for truth and a gift of 
observation not often found in the innumerable poems in 
dream-form left to us by the writers of the fourtc 



Tormented by his thoughts and deprived of sleep, tfie 
poet has a book brought to him to while away the hours 
of night, one of those books that he loved all his life, where 
' clerkes haddc in olde tyme " rhymed stories of long aga 
The talc, "a wonder thing" tltough it was, puts him to 
sleep, and it seems to him that it is morning. The sun 
rises in a pure sky ; the birds sing on the tiled roof, the 
light floods the room, which is all painted according to 
the taste of the Plantagcncts. On the walls is represented 
" a) the Romaunce of the Rose " ; the window-glass offers 
to view the history of Troy ; coloured rays iall on the 
bed ; outside, 

the wclken was so fnu, 
Blew, blight, clcic wiuihc ait . . 
Nc in >l thr wdkcl) WU a clauie. 

' And every day hir bcmulc ncwcd. 

(U. ^. 963.) 



A hunt goes hy, 'tis the hunt of the Emperor Octavian ; 
the j"oimg man mounts and rides after it under those 
great irecs. "so huge of strcngthc, so ful of Icvcs," be- 
loved of the English, amid meadows thick studded with 

Ai iliogh ihc Mihe cnv^ woldc 
To be pyef ihMi the hn-cn. 

A h'ttle dog draws near ; his movements are observed and 
noted with an accuracy that the Landsccrs of to-day could 
scarcely excel The do;; would tike to be well received, 
and afraid of being beaten, he creeps up and darts suddenly 
away : 

Hit com and creep tu nii.- as lowe, 
Righi 0.1 hii haiidir mc x-knuwe. 
Hill) ilauri 1ii» heed u\d juyncd his cm^ 
And \ty<[if n1 \morhi; dnuri hit herei. 
I wolde hui caughi Itti, iind nnooo 
Hit Hedde and wbi fro mc grKin. 

In a glade apart was a knight clothed in black, Jt^n 
of Lancaster. Chaucer docs not endeavour to cnnsoie 
him ; he knows the only assuagement for such sorrows, 
and Icad.s him on to speak of the dead. John recalls her 
grace and gentleness, and praises qualities which carry us 
back to a time very far from our own. She was not one 
of those women who, to \ry their lovers, send them to 
Wallachia, Prussia, Tartary, Egypt, or Turkey ; 

She ne used na auchc knakkes saiolb' 

From these " knakkes smalc " we may judge what the 
others must have been. They discourse tlius a long 

' " Book *[ the DochcMC." lU 339, 406. 391. 1033. John of Gaunt fountl 
W'Uic {unwpUiion in marrying iwn nihcr wive*. Blanche, the fiisl wife, wu 
buricft with hitii in uld St. Paut't. ^ce a view ai ihclr tomb froin Dugdalc'i 
•* Sl Paul's," in my " Pien Plownwr," p. gj, 



while ; the clock strikes noon, and the poet awakes, his 
head on the book which had put him to sleep. 


In the summer of 1370 Chaucer left London and 
repaired to tlie Continent for the service of the king ; this 
was the first of hU diplomatic minsions, which succeeded 
each other rapidly during the ensuing ten years. The 
period of the Middle Ages was not a period of nuances', 
that nuance which di^tinjiuishcs an am,ba»sador from a 
messeni^er was held as insignificant, and escaped obser- 
vation : the two functions formed but one. " Vou," said 
Eustache Dcs Champs, "you, ambassador and messenger, 
who go about the world to do your duty at the Courts of 
great princes, your journeys are not short ones! . . . Don't 
be in such a hurry ; your pica must be submitted to 
council before an answer can be returned : just u-ait a 
little more, my good friend ; ... we must talk of the 
matter with the chancellor and some others. . . . Time 
passes and all turns out wrong." ' Precedents are a great 
thing in diplomacy ; here we find a time-honoured one. 

Recourse was often had to men of letters, for these 
mixed functions, and they were filled by the most illus- 
trious writers of the century, Boccaccio in Italy, Chaucer 

' Vous Ambiifiwur el mc-mgier. 
Qui aid pu 1c monde cs court 
Dea gniu prioccK pour brsnngiiicf, 
VoaiTc voyage n'nt pax ixmn . . . 
N« %oitt mic *i hutis I 
II Isull ()uc voslrc f*li «oit mis 
Ad coiucil pom rcxpondic a plain t 
Atlendci ciicote mn amu . • • 
D Taut pallet au chancHIer 
D« <ro*tTc Tiit ec JL pIvKoun . . . 
Tempi pauc ct tout viot uicbovn. 

" CKnvTM CompUfes," Soeiit6 des Anciois Textei, vol, vJL pL 117 




in England, D« Champs in France. The latter, whose 
career much resembles Chaucer's, hus traced the most 
lamentable pictures of the life led by an " ambassador and 
messenger " on the highways of Europe : Bohemia, Poland, 
Hungary ; in these regions the king's service caused him 
to journey. His horse is half dead, and "sits on his 
knees"*; the inhabitants have the incivility to speak 
only their own language, so thai one cannot even order 
one's dinner ; you must needs take what isscr\'ed: " 'Tis 
i!l eating to another's appetite."* 

The lodging is worse : " No one may lie by himself, but 
two by two in a dark room, or oftcncr three by three, in 
one bed, haphanard." One may well regret sweet France. 
" where each one has for his money what lie chooses to 
ask for, and at reasonable price: room to himself, fire, 
sleep, repose, bed, white pillow, and scented sheets." 3 

Happily for Chaucer, it was in Flanders, France, and 
Italy that he negotiated for Edward and Richard. In 
December, 1372, he traverses all France, and goes to 
Genoa to treat with the dc^e of commercial matters ; then 

* Dc laissier mix cluiinps aie manue, 
Trnp souvcnT dw genouU t'udel. 
Plur ma by. met chevMilz «a lao*. 

{IKJ., p. ja.) 

* Mai &il man^M k I'appjlit d'auim/. 

(/a^., p. 81.) 

» O lioulf pais, terre XtH honorable. 
Oil chiucuiu B ce lu'il vcult demand« 
four Mti argent, ct i pri« raisonnnbtc. 
Cbai. pain el viit. pgiswn <ryi.ui: c< dr mer. 
Chambrp ^ jnr soy, feu, cluriiiit. le^xiKf. 
Lit, orilti«r« blank, drap* flnJtxKs Is gnina, 
Ct pgur chcvauli, foing, lilicre c1 tvaiae, 
£Hre serrii, el par bonnr ordnniunM. 
Et en Kurttf dc cc qu'on porrc ei maine ; 
Td paiB n*Mt qtt'm roraume At ¥naet. 

{JiiJ., p. 79.) 




he repairs to florcnce, and having thus passed a u'hok 
winter far from the l-ondon fogs (which already existed in 
the Middle Ages), he returns to England in the summer of 
1373. In 1376 a new mission is entrusted to him, this 
time a secret one, the secret has been well kept to this 
day; more missions in 1377 and 1378. "On Trinity 
Sunday." 1376, says Froissart, "passed away from this 
world the flower of England's chivalry, my lord Edward 
of England, Prince of Wales and Aquilaine, in the palace 
of Westminster by Londooj and was cmbatiiicd and put 
into a leaden chest." After the obsequies, "the kinf of^^ 
England made his children recognise . . . the young^^| 
damoisel Richard to be kiny after hi? death." He sends ^i 
delegates to Bmgcs to treat of the marriage of his heir, 
aged ten, with " Madame Marie, daughter of the king of 
France"; in February other ambassadors arc apjiointcd 
on both sides : "Towards Lent, a secret ticaty was made 
between the two kings for their party to be at Montrcuil- 
on-sea. Thus were sent to Calais, by the English. Messirc 
Guiehard d'Anglc, Richard Stury, and Geoffrey Chaucer." « 
The negotiation failed, but the poet's services seem never- 
theless to have lieen appreciated, for in the following year 
he is again on the highways. He negotiates in France, 
in company with the same Sir Guiehard, now become earl 
of Huntingdon ; and again in Italy, where he has to treat 
with his compatriot Hawkwood," who led, in the mi 

' Book i. chop. 693. 

' The otdtrc for Uie pijTnent of Ihe nperwet of "n«li« ch4r « IM 
chiivalcT Eilw&rcl At l&ttVM" unci "nottre fU aquier CdTr*)- Ckaucct,'^ is 
directed ig Willuin Wijwuiili, then not so famous as he wu> 10 be, and to the 
no te» noiarioLix {ohn I'hilpot, iiicrcci kad n&val Index. Both enrojn kie 
oittcTcd "d'akr en nonitc mrnugr «l bien nu due de Melan Bsnubo conie k 
nn«tr« cher «| foiat Johan Ilaukwode e* ftiiiiet de Luiobardic, pur ismnc* 
ItURftignei toiicliaiito I'cxplvit "Je nwitir uui-m:," May I J, 1378- |l*fkel<j' leccivcs 
itoo mwu ind Chaucer 100 1 ihc nudis die to be paid out of ihc «'iti subsidy 
veiled by Parlinmcnt The ycai tcfiMc- The French text of the wunal has 
bten pubJisbetl by M. Spuiit in the Aiktmmm of Sept. 9, 1993. During ihit 



agreeable manner possiblCf the life of a condottierc for the 
benefit of the I'ope, and of any republic that paid him 

These journeys to Italy had a considerable influence on 
Chaucer's mind. Already in that privileged land the 
Renai<isance was beginning. Italy had, in that century, 
three of her greatest poets: the one whom Vii^it had 
conducted to the abode of " the doomed race" was dead ; 
but the other two, I'ciiarch and Boccaccio, still lived, 
secluded, in the abode which wa^ tu be their last on earth, 
one at Arqua. near Padua, the other in the little fortified 
village of Certaldo, near Florence. 

In art, it is the century of Giotto, Orcagna, and Andrew 
of Pisa. Chaucer saw, all fresh .stil] in their flowing 
colours, frescoes that time has long faded. ThoHc old 
things were then young, and what seems to us the first 
steps of an art, uncertain yet in its tread, seemed to 
contemporarie'j the supreme effort of the audacious, who 
represented the new times. 

Chaucer's own testimony is proof to us that he saw, 
heard^ and learnt as much as possible ; that he went as 
far as be could, letting himself be guided by " adventure, 
thai is the moder of tydinges." He arrived without any 
preconceived ideas, curious to know what occupied men's 
minds, as attentive as on the threshold of his *' Hous of 
Fame " : 

For cerleynly, he lh*t me made 

Tc comcn hidci, scydc me, 

I ahul<Jc iKJlhc here el »ee. 

In thiR pliKc wondei Ihingn . . . 

For yil perai'cnture. I may I<to 

Some good ther-on, or luniwhu here, 

llftl lec[ mc wcie, 01 tluU 1 wcnie.' 

abfcncc Chiuccr appointed 10 be hit wpicwntoljve* or atiomryt two o\ hiR 
ftiencli, one nF whom wn* the poci (inwcf. See liocutnoii ilatud M&y u, 
1378. la *' PoetiesI WodcK," cd. Motrii, I. p. 99. 
■ U. 1983. 1990. 1997. 



He was thus able to see with his own eyes the adinirabfc 
activity, owing to which rose throughout Italy monuments 
wherein all kinds of contradictory aspirations mingled, and 
which are nevertheless so harmonious in their tnsemble, 
monuments tif which Giotto's campanile is the type, 
wherein we stilJ recognise the Middle Ages, even while 
we foresee the Renaissance — with Gothic windows and a 
general aspect which is classic, where the sentiment of 
realism and everyday life is combined with veneration for 
antique art, where Apclles is represented painting a triptych 
of Gothic shape Pisa had already, at that day, its leaning 
tower, its cathedral, its baptistery, the exterior ornamen- 
tation of which had just been changed, its Campo Santo, 
the piuiitinjjs of which were noi finished, and were not yet 
attributed to Orcagna. Along the walls of the cemetery 
he could examine that first collection of antiques which 
inspired the Tuscan artists, the sarcophaj^us, with the 
story of Phicdra and Hippolytus, which Nicholas of Pisa 
took for his model. He could sec at Pistoja the pulpit 
carved by William of Pisa, with the magnificent nude 
torso of a woman, imitated from the antique. At Florence 
the I'alazzo Vecchio, which was not yet called thus, was 
finished ; so were the Bargello, Santa-Croce, Santa-Maria- 
Novella. Or-San-Michclc was being built; the Loggia of 
the Lansquenets was scarcely begun ; the baptistery had 
as yet only one of its famous doors of bronze ; the 
cathedral dis-ippearcd under scaffoldings ; the workmen 
were busy with the nave and the apse. Giotto's cam- 
panile had becM) linishcd by his pulpil Gaddi, the Ponte 
Vecchio, which did not dcsc-rve that name any better than 
the palace, had been rebuilt by the same Gaddi, and along 
the causeway which continued it. through clustera of 
cypress and olive trees, the road led up to San Miniato, 
all resplendent with its marbles, its mosaics, and its 
paintings. On other ranges of hills, amid more cypress 



and more olive trees, by the side of Roman ruins, arose 
the church of Fiesolc, and half-way to Florence waved in 
the sunlight the thick foliage overshadowing the villa 
which, during the great plague had sheltered the young 
men and the ladies of the " Decameron." 

The movement was a general one. Each town strove 
to emulate its neighbour, not only on the battlefields, 
which were a very frequent trysting- place, but in artistic 
progress ; paintings, mosaics, carvings, shone in all thrf 
palaces and churches of every city ; the activity was 
extreme. Giotto, who had his studio, his "botega," in 
Florence, worked also at Assisi, Rome, and Padua. 
Sienna was covering the watts of her public palace with 
frescoes, some figures of which resemble the paintings at 
Fompcii.' An antitjuc statue found within her territory 
was provoking universal admiration, and was erected on 
the GaTa fountain by the municipality ; but the Middle 
Ages did not lose their rights, and. the republic having 
suffered reverses, the statue fell into disgrace. The god 
became nothing more than an idol ; the marble was 
shattered and carried off, to be treacherously interred 
in the territory of Florence.' 

The taste for collections was spreading; the commerce 
of antiquities flourished in Northern Italy. Petrarch 
bought medals, and numbered among his artistic trea-. 
sures a Madonna of Giotto, " whose beauty," he says 
in his will, "escaped the ignorant and enraptured the 
masters of the art." ' This brightening of the land 
was the result of concurring wills, nor did it pass un- 
observed even then; towns enjoyed their masterpieces, 
and, like young women, "se miraicnt en leur bcautiS." 

• Figure of " Peace," by .Amhrocio Ijitenjctii, 1339. See a drinviiiK of it 
in Uiinu, " Les l>t<^nriedn de la Keiuniianci;," Porui. ittSa, 410, p, 39. 

* Mdnu, iM; p, 30. 
J " P. Pelraioe Epixdlue," cd. FttouKlti, Florence, 1S59, rot. iii. p. 541. 


Contemporaries did not leave to posterity the care of 
crowning the great poets of the time, Italy, the tnocher 
of art, wished the laurel to encircle the brow of the 
living, not to be dimply the ornament of a tomb. Rome 
hat) crowned, in 1341, him who, "cleansing the fount of 
Ilelicon from slime and marshy rushes, had restored to 
the water its pristine limpidity, who had opened Castalia's 
grotto, obslructetl by a network of wild boughs, and 
'destroyed the briers in the laurel grove": the illustrious 
Francis Petrarch.* Though somewhat tardy, the honour 
was no less great for Dante: public lectures on the 
" Divine Comedy " were instituted in Florence, and the 
lecturer was Boccaccio.* 

It was impnssible that a mind, from infancy friendly to 
art and books, should not be struck by this general expan- 
iiion ; the charm of this literary springtime was too pene- 
trating for Chancer not to feel it ; he followed a movement 
so conformable to his tastes, and we have a proof of it. 
Heforc his journeys he was ignorant of Italian literature; 
now he knows Italian, and has read the great classic 
authors of the Tuscan land: Boccaccio, Petrarch, and 
Dante. The remembrance of their works haunts him; 
the "Roman dc la" ceases to be his main literary 
ideal. He was acquainted with the old classics before 
his missions; but the tone in which he speaks; of them 
now has changed; to<day it is a tone of veneration ; one 
should kiss their "steppes." He expresses himself about 
them as Petrarch did ; it seems, so great is the resem- 

* Letter eS Tkiccaiado "celelierriini nominia nulili Jacapo Piinngltc." 
Camwini. "1^ l-eiieie edhe ed im^liic di Giovanni Boccaedo," Floieiiec^ 
1877. 8*0. p. 195- 

' CliiLucci could nol be pretent at Uic lecturet «f Bogcaccio, who bccu* 
them on Sunday, Oclotier 2}, 1373: he had relumed Ea London in ihc 
sumni0. DiieaK <pia1mU]r dJobctes) soon obliged Boccicdo to tniemtpt hi* 
leflurei; he died in hu: hmiM it Cmnldd nn necrmbet ai, 137^ See 
Cocltin, in Rtcux du Deux Mondet, July 15, 18SK. 



blance, as if we found in his verses an echo of the 
conversations they very hkely had together by Padua 

»n '373-' 

In the intervals between his missions Chaucer would 

return to I-X>ndon, where administrative functions had 
been entrusted to him. For twelve years, dating from 
1374, he was comptroller of the customs, and during the 
ten first years he was obliged, according to hi.s oath, to 
write the accounts and to draw up the rolls of the receipts 
with his own hand : " Ye shall swcre that ... ye shall 
write the rollcs by your oivnc handc demeaned." • To 
have an idea of the work this implies, one should see, 
at the Record Office, the immense sheets of parchment 
fastened together, one after the other, which constitute these 
rolls^ After having himself been present at the weighing 

■ Thi« meeting, cnncetning which nuirmoiis rtiwussinn* have takpn place, 
BMUs to ban; roa«t probabt}- hAppcnnt, *' I wol," t4y« the deik of Oxford 
ia th* " Cuicrbuiy Talcs," 

I wol yftw lelle « tile which ihtt I 
L«mr<l ftl Pniilowc ijra worthy cleric . . . 
[]c if now di;cd «nd nnylcd in hii chtslc • . • 
Frxunccyn Tctnuk, ihc InLrcai pocL 

Such ■ circamttanlial rcEneace i* of % most uniuunl aort ; in mott cue*, 
fellowitiK the cuiniplc of hU cvntcni|>«»ario, Cluuccc himply nys that he 
iiiiiutes ■' n Ixxik," nr wimclimcs ht rclcri 10 hit moilcis by a wrong or fancy 
name, Mich fjciii); tlii? cmw with Boccucciu, whom lie calU " Lotliui." a njiinr 
whkh, however, does duty also with him. at anoth^f place, for Petrarch. Hut 
M ihit occaainri il »cciii« on If ihr ]><>el nirant U) ^ircMrive ilic in['tn(.>ry o( 
peraonal ititercouinc. Wc know bciido chat at that <klc Chaucer wu noi 
withaut nuloiiet)- u a puei on the Contincnl (Do Chatn|M' pmuc ii a proof 
of il), and thai at the (itne when he came to [tnty Petrxrch waa at Arnua. nwr 
Padua, whete h« wai pnciMly bucy with hU Laiin tmulaiion of Boccaeda'a 
■Lory of Gmelilo. 

* " The Olhc of the CompLralcr of the Cnslomei," in Thynne'n "Aninwd- 
rcnJcns," Chaucer Society, 1875, )). tji, 

J None in the handwriting of Chaurer hawp hccn dtwovcrei! ax yet 1 bill 
Mme ue to bt ie«n drawn, lu he wait allowed to hnvc them l.iicr, tjy Annther'i 
hanil, under hi* own rapotMibility : "pet ricum et teitimonitiin C«lh[iiii 




and verifying of the merchandise, Chaucer entered U)e 
name of the owner, the quiility and quantity of the 
produce taxed, and the amount to be collected : endless 
"rckeningcs! " Dcfraudcrs were fined; one, John Kent, 
of London, having tried to smuggle some wools to 
Dordrecht, the poet, poet though he was, discovered 
the offence ; the wools were confiscated and sold, and 
Chaucer received seventy-one pounds four shillings and 
sixpence on the amount of the fine John Kent liad to 

Chaucer lived now in one of the towers under which 
opened the gates of London. The municipality had granted 
him lod^i";:* '" the Aldgate tower' ; his friend the philo- 
sopher and logician, Ralph Strode, lived in the same way 
in rooms ubove " Aldrichgate" " ; both were to quit the 
place at cuiy moment if the defence of the town rendered 
it necessarj'. Chaucer lived there twelve years, from 1374 
to 13S6. There, his labour ended, he would come home 
and begin his oifier li/e^ his poet's life, reading, thinking, 
remembering. Then all he had known in Italy would 
return to his memory, campaniles, azure frescoes, olive 
groves, sonnebi of Petrarch, poems of Dante, tales of 
Boccaccio ; he had brought back wherewithal to move 
and to enliven '" merry Ktigland " herself Once more 
in his tower, whither he returned without speaking to 
any one, "domb," he says, "aa any stoon," the everyday 


' Tlie Icuc ii dated Mny to, 1374 1 t'umiTBll. ■' Tiial Porewcids," p. 1. 
Such ^rantH of l(Kti:iii):» iii ihc ^utcs were /Wrtaddcn in 1386 in coiiK<]uenM of 
a panic (deicnbKl, t-x-. In ihe •■ Oironicon Anjiliie." Rolln, p. 370) cKUMd by 
a tumnui of the coming af Ihc -^ch. See Kil*y, " Mcmorijil* of London," 
pp, 388, 489. A itudy an lh« Um i,.^ ■ -•*«! R&t|ib Stiodi: u being prepared 
(1894) by M. Colbuira. 

' " Uiiiiiuiio t^tir dc AldipUi; Toclk Gnlfrido Chuccr. — Concnaio (1« 
Aldiichg'.ilc Ractiilpho Strode. — Surium-reddilio donorum «upn Aldhchesgaie 
pet Railulphum Strode." Among the " FundklioEie* et pnucaiaiionc* 
cantnriiuiiin . , . ihopwum . . . civiuij pcttinoitiuin." " Lihci Albu>," 
RoU*. pp. 553. 55«. 557. 





world was done with ; his neighbours were to him as 
though Ihcy had lived at the ends of earth * ; his real 
neighbours were Dante and Virgil. 

He wrote during this period, and chiefly in his tower 
of Aldgate. the " Lyf of Seinle Ccdie." 1373; the " Com- 
ple>'nt of Mars," 13S0 ; a translation of Boethius in prose ; 
the " Parlcmcnt of Foulcs ; " " Troilus and Criscydc," 
1382; the *' Hous of Fame." 1383-4; the "Legend of 
Good Women," 1385." In all these works the ideal is 
principally nn Itali»ii and Liitin one ; but, at the same 
time, we see some beginning of the Chaucer of the last 
period, who, having moved round the world of letters, will 
cease to look abroad, and, after the manner of his own 

* CIwuce>rcpKsent<tJiipil«T'f eagK aildrvminehim thus: 

And noelii only &o Tcr conCrcc 
Thai ihcr no lyding comih ro ihee 
Bui of ihy vetniy ntryEheliurci. 
Tliat dwellen ainiosi at ih>' dom, 
Th,uu licccst Iic<t1i«( thai nc Ihit ; 
For wtiui thy labour dooci al ii, 
Thou Era*' boom lo Ihy hou» anooQ, 
Thou liltrat at another buke. 
Til fully (iaswcd is ihy lot*. 
And livett thut u an h«rmyte. 

jBniM oT Fame." book iL I. 647 : " Compleie Wurki." iii. p. 90. 
'AH theM <UlM we mMrl)- upptaniinftliirt. Cone«muig the chronolcfry of 
Cliiuen's works, »cc Tcii Blink, "Chaucer StuJiciit" Minister, 1870, Svw; 
FumiviLlI, '■ Trial Fotcwoid*," 1871, Chancer Soriciy; Koch, *' Chronology." 
Ouucei Society, [K90; bollard, "Chaucer," " Liletatitre Primeti." 189^; 
Slc»l. " Cuinplete Worlti of ChauL-er," vol. i., " Life " and the inuodiirtlon* 
to each |, "Bo<ce" is ip vol. ii. of th* "Complete Works" {t/. Morrii'i 
«d., iWS, EE.T.S.). The "Lyf of Sdote Cceilc " was Irunifcited by 
Cbaucei to Im "Canlerbiiiy T»lci," where it became ihe Iilenf ihc second 
nail. The yuod "onicn of the " Legend" are «3I of them lovc"« marlyn: 
Diilii, Atiidne. Thi«1)e. Ue. ; it wai Chauccr'i ItrBt aiiempt lo write a 
cnllcClion of slories with n Prologue. In the Prologue V»(iu» Cu^d 
reproach him with having comptMcd )>o«iiu where women and lo>'c do noi 
ap])ciu ill a favourable lighi, mch ai "Truilui " and ihe irantUtiun of ibe 
" -k- U Kwse," whidi "i» an heretye ageyni my iwe," He wrote 
bit " L^end " to make amend*. 



nation, dropping in a large measure foreign dements, will 
show himself above all and mainly an Englishman. 

At ihis time, however, he is as yet under the charm oi 
Southern art and of ancient models ; he does not weary of 
invoking and depicting the gods of Olympus. Nudity, 
which the image-makers of cathedrals had inflicted as 
a chastisement on the damned, scandah'ecs him no more 
than it did the painters of Italy. He sees Venus, " un- 
tressed," reclining on her couch, " a bed of golde," clothed 
in transparent draperies, 

R>i;ht will) ■ KiiUil kcrchcf of ViklencVt 
1'hcr wu DO Uukkei cloih of no dclence ; 

or with less draperies still: 

1 nw Bemtcc withoniflii uiy aiyr ■ ; 

or again : 

N*k«cl HelinB in a tee | 

her brows circled with a " rose-garlond white and feed.**' 
He calls her to his aid : 

So be my ravour m ihU tymc I 
Anil ft. mc lo cnJj'ic imd rynie 
HcljH'lh, Ihnl on PRmaw dwelte 
B]' EHt^on the cicre wclle.< 

His " Complej'nt of Anelida " is dedicated to 

Thou fcne go-l of annet. Mar* the rede, 

' " Puleinent of Foulw," U. aya, aas, " Coinpleic Wotk»," »oL 1. 
■ '■ Houi of Fiiiiie," I. 1 13. ihid., vol. iii. 
3 '■ Hon* of Kbiuc." I. si8. 

CHA UCER. 293 

and to I'olymnia : 

Be ravoumblF eek, ihou Polymnia, 

On Tarnaso that, with thy sustres glade, 

By Elicon, not fei from Cirrea, 

Sin{;est with vats memorial in.ihe shade, 

Under the laurer which that may not &de.' 

Old books of antiquity possess for him, as they did lor 
the learned men of the Renaissance, or for Petrarch, who 
cherished a manuscript of Homer without being able to 
decipher it, a character almost divine : 

For out of olde feldes. as men setth, 
Cometh al this newe corn fro yeex to yere ; 
And out of olde bokes, in good i^eith, 
Cometh al this newe science that men lere.' 

Poggio or Poliziano could not have spoken in more 
feeling words. 

Glory and honour, Vi^l Mantuaa, 
Be to thy name 1 ' 

exclaims he elsewhere. " Go, my book," he says to his 
"Troilus and Criseyde," 

And kis the steppes, wher-as thou seest pace 
Virgile, Ovyde, Omer, Lucan, Stace.* 

Withal strange discrepancies occur: none can escape 
entirely the influence of his own time. With Chaucer the 
goddess of love is also a saint, " Seint Venus " ; her temple 

' " Complete Works," vol. i- p. 365. This beginning is imitated from 
Boccaccio's " Teseide." 
. = " Parlcmcnt of Foules," in " Complete Works," vol, i, p. 336. Chaucer 
alludes here to a book which " was write with lettres olde," and which con- 
tained " Tullius of the dreme of Scipioun." 

3 " Legend of Dido," in " Complete Works," vol. iji. p. 117- 

* Book V. St. 256. 




is likewise a church: " This noble temple . . . this chirchc." 
Bcfurc penetrating into its precincts, the poet appeals to 

" O Crisl." iIkiukIiI I, " thai att in Wisw. 

Fro bnloip knd ithm'niin 

Me Mvel " and wiili 'dcviK.-jium 

Ujm yeei lo lb« hevsti I cutf.' 

This med)ey was inevitable ; to do better would have been 
to excel the Italians, and Dante himself, who places the 
Erinnyes within the circles of his Christian hcll, or Giotto, 
who made Apcllcs paint a triptych. 

As for the Italians, Chaucer borrows from them, some- 
times a line, an idea, a comparison, sometimes long passages 
very closely translated, or again the plot or the general 
inspiration of his talcs. In the " Lyf of Scinte Cccile" a 
passage (lines j6-5i)is Iwrrowcd from Dante's " Paradiso." 
The same poet is quoted in the " Parlement of Foules," 
where we find a paraphrase of the famous " Per mesiva "» ; 
another passage is imitated from the "Teseide" of 
Boccaccio ; " Anelida and Arcite " contains several stanzas 
taken from the same original ; " Troilus and Criseyde" is 
an adapiation of Boccaccio's " Filoslrato" ; Chaucer intro- 
duces into it a sonnet of Petrarch 3 ; the idea of the " Legend 
of Good Women " is borrowed from the " De Claris Muli- 
eribus " of Boccaccio. Dante's journeys to the spirit-world 
served as models for the " Hous of Fame," where the 

■ " Haiu oT Fame," fl, 469, 473, 49z- 

* Thorgh me men goon in<lo thai bliifal place . . < 
Thoreh me men goon unto the wellc of Gri«, it. 

TbcM linwwere "over the gite wiih kurcs large y-wroghw,'* 11. 124, 117. 

» S'amor non t, clic duncjue t quel ch'iMDto? 

which become* in Cliaucei the " Cantut Troili " ; 

If 50 love u, Cod. what Me I to t 

{Booki. ttunu s8>] 



English poet is borne off by an cagic of golden hue. In il 
Dante is mentioned together with the classic authors of 
antiquit>'. Read : 

On Virgil, or on CEtudkn, 
Or DmuDte.' 

The eagle is not an invention of Chaucci^s ; it had already 
appeared in the " Pui^atorio."' 

Notwithstanding the quantity of reminiscences of ancient 
or Italian authors that recur at every page ; notwithstanding 
the story of ^nea« related wholly from Vii^l, the first 
lines being translated word for word ^ ; notwithstanding 
incessant allusions and quotations, tlie " Hous of Fame " * 
is one of the first poems in which Chaucer shows forth 
clearly his own personality. Already we see manifested 
that gift for familiar dialogue which is carried so far in 
" Troiliia and Criseyde," and already apjxiars that sound 

* It) wgno mi pain vcder Bospeaa 

Un' aquik nel del con prone d'oro 
Con Taliajwrle, cd aminrc intcTO. ... 

r»i mi pvea, chc pin toxsAA un pocOf 
TtrtiUI <«nic folgor diic«ndc9st, 
E QIC npiuc SUM iufiiio al (oco 

(" PurRLtoiio," cantaiicl 

Me iboDKhK T «vr tn ccte sort . . . 
E I it waf of guliie and shoon sn bri|;ht 
Thai nrivr mw nirn such a ti|[hle. ... 
Mc, Hi^inge, ut a KWiippe he h«Dle, 
And wiih liis »juit> afiuyii up wcotCi 
Mc cftryiugc in his cUwcs tiarkc. 

(II. 449. S03. 54»-) 

' I wol non singe, if ihai 1 cnn 
The umei, and mI'M the man, ftc 0- l4^-) 

Haeupon Mlom a coniplete but abbreviated account oi ih« evmti ta the 
jEnetd, Dido'a iloiy bring ih< only pan treated at tame length. 

• " Complete Worlu," vol. iii. The poem wb» left uDliaished; it U writtca 
in octMyllabic couplets, with four kcecn(» ar bcat.i. 

in Chaucct 1 


and Uindty judgment with which the poet will view the 
ihiiigs of life in his "Canterbury Tales." Evil does not 
prevent his seeing gotid ; the sadness he has known does 
not m^ke him rebel against fate ; he has suiTered and for- 
given ; joy* dwell in his memory rather than sorrows ; 
despite hit; moments of melancholy, his turn of mind makes 
htm an optimist at heart, an optimist like La Fontaine 
and Addison, whose names often recur to the memory In 
reading Chaucer. His philosophy resembles the " bon- 
homme " La Fontaine's ; and scvcval passages in the 
" Hous of Fame" arc like some of Addison's essays.* 

He is modern, too, in the part he allots to his own self, 
a self which, far from being odiou.t (" le moi est halssablc," 
Pascal said), is, on the contrary, charming : he relates the 
long vigils in his tower, where he spends his nights in 
writing, or at other times seated before a book, which he 
reads until his eyes are dim in his " hermyte's " solitude. 

The eagle, come from heaven to be his guide, bears him 
olT where his fancy had already flown, above the clouds, 
beyond Ihe spheres, to the temple of Fame, built upon an 
ice mountain- Illustrious names graven in the sparkling 
rock mclL in the sun, and are already almost illegible. The 

' Comptuc. for example, the bcginninE uf "Hout of F«aC("iuid Ko. 487 
of ySc ^^Ci-M/jr (Sept. 18. I7I»1: 

God lurnc ui every diccm to K<>dc t 
For hit i« ivontlcr, \yj ihr rode. 
To tny wii wluu cnii^clh *wi-»'cnc» 
EiUicr on tnorwM or on Fv«iim ; 
And why ihe cficci f«lwfth of tominer 
And sA sotnmc hit vhwl never come j 
Why lliin ii am aii^uun. 
And this a levclociciun . . . 
Why ihis a fanlum. ihete oracles. 

A^diionwrim '■ '' Tliu' chr:(' mc niany authurt Mhoksvc wriirer onDieaiMt 
Ihey have uenerally consirfcrfd them only a> iciclaiiom of what hni alraidjr 
happened in ditnam \at\% of the ««ild, or u preugei of whu U lo lu{>peii to 
future pciiodi of bine." &C. 


temple itself is built in the Gothic style of the period, alt 
bristling with " niches, pinnacles, and statues." and 

... All eek of nin-dowei 

Ai flalut Ull< in gcelc toown.' 

There are those rustling crowds in which Chaucer loved 
to mix at times, whose murmurs soothed his thoughts, 
musician-s, harpists, jugglers, minstrels, tellers of tales fuU 
"of wcpingand of game," magicians, sorcerers and prophets, 
curious specimens of humanity. Within the temple, the 
statues of his literary gods, who sang of the Trojan war: 
Homer, Dares, and also the Englishman Geoffrey of 
Monmouth, "English Gaufride," and with them, Virgil, 
Ovid, Lucan, Claudian, and Statius. At the command 
of Fame, the names of the heroes are borne by the wind 
to the four comers of the world ; a burst of music cele. 
brates the d^ds of the warriors : 

For in fight uid Uood-ibediiife 
Ik imed gittdly dftrionitige.* 

Various companies flock to obtain glory; the poet does 
not forget the group, already formed in his day, of the 
braggarts who boast of their vices : 

Wc b«i »tiiewe». every wight. 
And hall (iciyi in wikkcdnn, 
As node futk han in yooclon ; 
Ani) }o;c 10 be hnowrn shrewet . . • 
Wbeifor we preyen yam, a-rowe. 
That our ivnt twich be'koowc 
la alle thing rigltt u it li.* 

As pressing as any, they urgently claim a bad reputation, 
a favour which the goddess graciously grants them. 

Elsewhere we arc transported into the house of news, 

' I. "91- ' 1. 1»4«- ' I. I83£X 



noisy and surging as the public square of an Italian dty 
on a day when " something " has happened. People 
throng, and crush, and trample each other to sec. although 
there is nothing to 3ce : Chaucer describes from nature. 
There arc assembled numbers of messengers, travellers, 
pilgrims, sailors, each bearing his bag, full of news, full of 

" Nosi not thou 
Th»l is Iwtid, lo, lait ur now ? " 
^" No," quod the oibei, " itl nie wh«i." 
And lluui he toldc hitn ihu und ihnl, 
And iwoor thcr-to th«l hil wan soolh — 
" Thus lialli he i«yd"— and " ihu* he dooih"— 
"thusslinl hil be"— "Thushcrdel wye "— 
" Thai »hal be found "— " That ii»r I lcy«." » 

Truth and falsehood, closely united, form an inseparable 
body, and fly away together. The least little nothing, 
whispered in secret in a friend's ear, grows and grows, as 
in La l-'ontainc's fable : 

As Tyr it wont (« quikkc and go, 
Ftoni n ipnrkc .i|]rnii£c uniii, 
Til il > cliee bitnt up is.' 

-^ III. 

Heretofore Chaucer has composed poems of brightest 
hue, chiefly devoted to love. " balades, roundels, virelayes," 
imitations of the " Roman de la Rose," poems inspired by 
antiquity, as it appeared through the prism of the Middle 
Ages. His writings are superior to those of his English or 
French contemporaries, but they arc of like kind ; he has 
fine pavsagcs chHrming ideas, but no well-ordered work; 
his colours arc fresh but crude, like the colours of illumina- 
tions,blazons, or oriflammes ; his nights arc of sable, and his 
meadows seem of sinopic, his flowers arc " whyte, bicwe, 

' L X147. ■ L io7tL CJ. La Footalse'i " La Pemme* et le Secret.* 



yelowe, and redc."> In "Troilus and Criscydc " we find 
another Chaucer, Tar more complete and pawerfiil ; he, 
surpasses now even the ilaltaiis whom he had taken for 
his models, and writes the first great poem of renewed 
English literature. 

The fortunes of Troilus had grown Utile by little in the 
course of centuries. Homer merely mentions his name; 
Virgil devotes three lines to him ; Dares, who has seen 
everything, diaws his portrait ; Benoit de Saintc-More is 
the earliest to ascribe to htm a love first happy, then tragic ; 
Gui de Colonna intermingles sententious rcm^irlcn with the 
narrative ; Boccaccio develops the story, adds characters, 
and makes of it a romance, an elegant tale in wliich young 
Italian noblemen, equally handsome, youthful^ amorous, 
and unscnipu lulls, win hniies' hearts, lose them, and dis- 
course subtly about their desires and their mishaps' 

Chaucer appropriates the plot,3 transforms the personages, 
alters the lone of the narrative, breaks the monotony of it, 
introduces differences of age and disposition, and moulds 
in his own way the material that he borrows, like a man 
now sure of himself, who dares to judge and to criticise; 
who thinks it possible to improve upon a romance even of 
Boccaccio's. The literary progress marked by this work is 
astonishing, not more so, however, than the progress accom- 

• "P»tlcmcntofroolc«,"U 186. 

' Bocoucia'a Mofy U lold in sinniai of eight Una, &nd hu for lis title " II 
Fflciunio " (love's riclim : such w» aX Xvosx the mum Itnccaccio aittfbtitvd \o 
Ihc woid). Trxt tn " Le Operc volgui di Giov. Bottaocio," Florence, 1851, 
StOi voL kiii. 

» Ten in " Complete Wotki," vol, lii. It is ilitidcd into five boolcs and 
written in iiancu of «cveri linci-, ihyming a b ah b 1 1, Sec the itiHcTcnt t»U 
of ihi* ]»oem [iiililiihod liy ihc Chauirr .Suoiciy ; hIhi Kilrcdyc. " Choucer'e 
LaiiKUiikt in Ilia TroLlui," Chaucer Sijcicly, 1891. For a comparison between 
the EiiL'liah ftnd ihc Iidiftn tcxi* wex HoMciti " Tioylu^ and OcuidiL, com- 
parer) with Boccacciu't Filmimto,'' Chaucer Society, 187J. Mxiut ane'ihinl 
of Chaiicei'i gxHnn ii deiiiwl fwra Boccaccio. It it ilediL-ated to Ciowei &nil 
to " philvsophieKl SUode " [Me Above, p. 390), both frioids of Ibe poei. 



plishcd in the same time by the nation. With the Parlia- 
ment of Westminster as with Chaucer's poetry, the real 
definitive England i-* beginning. 

In Chaucer, indeed, as in the new race, the mingling of 
the origins has become intimate and indissoluble. In 
" Troilus and Criseyde " the Celt's ready wit, gift of 
repartee, and scniw of the dramatic ; the care for the form 
and ordering of a narrative, dear to the Latin races ; the 
Norman's faculty of observation, arc allied to the emotion 
and tenderness of the Saxon. This fusion had been 
brought about slowly, when however the time came, its 
rcali-iation was complete all at once, almost sudden. 
Yesterday authors of English tongue could only lisp ; 
to-day, no longer content to talk, they sing. 

In il9 semi -epic form, the poem of "Troilus and Criseyde" 
is connected with the art of the novel and the art of the 
drama, to the development of which England was to con- 
tribute so highly. It is already the KngLish nnvcl and 
drama where the tragic and the comic are blended ; where 
the heroic and the trivial go side by side, as in real life ; 
where Juliet's nurse interrupts the lovers leaning over the 
balcony of the Capulets, where princesses have no confi- 
dants, diminished reproductions of their own selves, in* 
vented to give them their cue ; where sentiments arc 
examinctl closely, with an attentive mind, friendly to 
experimental psychology ; and where, nevertheless, lar 
from holding always to subtile dissertations, all that is 
material fact is clearly exposed to view, in a good 
light, and not merely talked about The vital parts of 
the drama are all exhibited before our eyes and not 
concealed behind the scenes ; heroes are not all spirit, 
neither are they mere images ; we arc as far from the 
crude illuminations of degenerate minstrels as from La 
Calprenide's heroic romances; the characters have muscles, 
bones and sinews, and at the same time, hearts and souls ; 



they are real men. The date of "Troilus and Criscydc" 

is a great date ni English literature. 

The book, like Froissart'a collection of poems, treats " of 
love." It relates how Criscydc, or Cressida, the daughter 
of Calchas, left in Troy while her father returned to the 
Greek camp, loves the handsome knight Troilus, son of 
Triam. Given back to the Greeks, she forgets Troiius, 
who is slain. 

How came this young woman, as virtuous as she was 
beautiful, to love this youth, whom at the opening of the 
story she did not even know? What external circum- 
stances brought ihem together, and what workings of the 
heart made them pass from indifference to doubts and 
anxieties, and then to love ? These two orders of 
thought are untwinc<l simultaneously, on parallel lines 
by Chaucer, that dreamer who had lived so much in 
real life, that man of action who had dreamed so many 

Troilus despised love, and mocked at lovers : 

ir kntght or «|(iyct of his compuiye 

Gui for lo tyk«. at lirCc his eyen baylen 

On sny wumun (luil he cumlr :upyci 

Kc wolt)c Hmylc, and holitcn it falye. 

And teye him tliu«, " Uod irot ihc ilepeth (oRe 

For love of ihee, whuD ihon (orneM ful olte." ■ 

One day, in the temple, he sees Cressida, and his fate is 
seated ; he cannot remove his gaze from her ; the wind 
of love has swept by ; all his strength has vanished ; 
his pride has fallen as the petals fall from a rose ; he 
drinks deep draughts of an invincible poison. Far from 
her, his imagination completes what reality had begun : 
seated on the foot of his bed, absorbed in thought, he once 
more sees Cressida, and sees her ■io beautiful, depicted in 
outlines so vivid, and colours so glowing, that this divine 

■ Bouk i. *c. i8. 



image fashioned in his own brain is henceforlh the only 
one he will behold ; forever will he have before his eyes 
that celestial form of superhuman beauty, ntrvcr more X\\k 
real earthly Cressitla, the frail daughter of Calchas. Troilus 
is ilt for life of the love illness. 

He has a friend, oider than himself, sceptical, trivial, 
experienced, " that called was Pandare." Cresstda's uncle. 
He confides to him his woes, and asks for help. I'andarus. 
in Boccaccio, is a young nobleman, sceptical too, but 
frivolous, disdainful, elegant, like a personage of Musaet. 
Chaucer transforms the whole drama and makes room for 
the grosser realities of life, by altering the character of 
Pandarus. He makes of him a man of maure years, 
devoid of scruples, talkative, shameless, wily, whose 
wisdom consists in proverbs chosen among the easiest 
to follow, much more closely connected with Molifere'* 
or Shakespeare's comic heroes than with Mussel's lovers. 
Pandarus is as fond of comparisons as Gros-Ren<;, as fond 
of old saws as Polonius ; he is coarse and indecent, unin- 
tentionally and by nature, like Juliet's nurse.' He is totally 
unconscious, and thinks himself the best friend in the 
world, and the must reserved ; he concludes interminable 
speeches by : 

I \vft nought, n* ercr have t jo^ 

Every one of his thoughts, of his words, of his attitudes is 
the very opposite of Cressida's and her lover's, and makes 
them stand out in relief by a contrast of shade He is all 

■ And, U the nun<, get* out of brcatlii K that he cannot »pe^ ) 

, . . O vcny Cod, so have I innne I 

Lo, n>ee myn, w« ye nought how I lurete? 

Book it. sL 310 .S*yi the Nunc : 

Jeiu, what hulc I oil you Dot lUy *while ? 
Do yoH not lec i!iM I am cut orhmili ? 



for tangible and present realities, and docs not believe in 
ever foregoing an immediate and certain plea:>ure in con- 
sideration of merely possible consequence!;. 

With this disposition, and in this frame of mind, he 
approaches his niece to speak to her of love. The scene, 
which is entirely of Chaucer's invention, is a true comedy 
scene ; the gestures and attitudes are minntely noted. 
Cressida looks down; Pandarus couf^h^. The dialogue is 
so rapid and sharp that one mi^ht chink this part written 
for a play, not for a taie in verse. The uncle arrives ; 
the niece, seated with a book on her knees, was reading 
a romance. 

Ah •. you were reading I What book was it? "What 
seith it ? Tel it us. Is it of Love ? " It was of Thebes ; 
" this romauncc is of Thebes ; " she had secured as it seems 
a very early copy. She excuses herself for indulging in 
so frivolous a pastime ; she would perhaps do belter to 
read "on holy seyntea lyves." Chaucer, mindful above all 
of the analysis of paasions, does not trouble himself about 
anachronisms ; he cares nothing to know if the besieged 
Trojans could really have drawn examples of virtue from 
the Lives of the Saints; history matters little to him ; let 
fifaose who take an intere-tt in it look " in Omer or in 
Dares."' The motions of the human heart, (hat is his 
real subject, not the inarch of armies : from the moment \ 
of its birth, the English novel Ls psychological. 

With a thousand precautions, and although still keeping 
to the vulgarity of his rfllc. I'andarus manages so as to bring 
to a sufficiently serious mood the laughter- loving Cressida; 

* Tum'Cd lalcr inio EocHih rcrsc by Lydgkie, to be read as * lupplcmcDUrjr 
tie o1 Cftnlerliiiry : *' (trrc Iw^ynneeh Ihc tcgc of Thcbw, fill Inmenlably lokl 
I Johftn Lidgaic manlce of Bury, anncxynge il lo yc lallyt of Canierbury," 
MS- Ruyjil l8 O ii. in (he Brilish Muncuin, The cxquiiitc minklurc* of 
this MS. repreacni Thebes bcai^ed vriih crnt gun^, fol. 158; CiBon's 
Jion by IWD liiihupa wearing mjtrct nnil gold copes. Ibl. 160, we below. 



he contrives that she shall Troiiu<t herself, jncideo- 
tally, before he has even named him. With his frivolities 
he mingles serious things, wise and practical adWce like 
a good uncle, the better to inspire confidence ; then he 
rises to depart without having yet said what bmught him. 
Crc-ssida's interest is excited at once, the more so that 
reticence is not habitual to Pandaru» ; her curiosity, 
irritated from line to line, becomes anxiety, almost 
anguish, for though Crcssida be of the fourtccntl) century, 
and the 5r3t of a long line of heroines of romance, with her 
appears already llic nervous woman. She starts at the thing, she is the most impressionable of beings, " the 
fcrfuilcst wight that might be"; e\'en the stale of the 
atmosphere affects her. What is then the matter ? Oh 1 
only this : 

. . , the kin(^ Attti itonv, 
Ttegoode, w})e. wonh]-, rietUie. and Tree, 
Wludl ftlwcy (or la Aa wcL is hi* woii«, 
TIm ootile Tfoilus, to lorelh ih«c, 
ThmU bot ye heipe, it wol his banc be, 
Lo. here » aJ, nhu jliolcle I more leyef 
Do what yow Ibt.', 

The conversation continues, more and more crafty on the 
part of Pandarus ; his friend asks fur so little : look less 
unkindly upon him, and it will be enough. 

But here appears Chaucer's art In all its subtilty. TTie 
wiles of Pandarus, carried as far as his character will allow, 
might have sufficed to make a Crcssida of romance yield ; 
but it would have been too easy play for the master already 
sure of his powers. He makes Pandarus say a word too 
much ; Crcssida unmasks him on the spot, obliges him to 
acknowledge that in asking less he desired more for his 
friend, and now she is blushing and indignant Chaucer 
does not want her to yield to disquisitions and descriptions; 

DookIL St. 46. 



allthecIeverneasofPandarus is there only to make us better 
appreciate the slow inward working that is going on in 
Cressida's Keart ; her uitclc will have sufBced to stir her ; 
that is all, and, truth to say. that is something. She feels 
for Troilus no clearly defined sentiment, but her curiosity 
is aroused. And just then, while the conversation is still 
going on, loud shouts are heard, the crowd rushes, balconies 
arc fttlcd, strains of music burst forth ; 'tis the return, after 
a \ictorious sally, of one of the heroes who defend Troy. 
This hero is Troilus, and in tlie midst of this triumphal 
scene, the pretty, frail, laughing, tender-hearted Cressida 
beholds for the first time her royal lover. 

[n her turn she dreams, she meditates, she argues. She 
is not yet, like Troilus, love's prisoner ; Chaucer docs not 
proceed so fast She keeps her vision lucid ; her imagina- 
tion and her senses have not yet done their work and 
reared before her that glittering phantom, ever present, 
which conceals reality from lovers. She is still mistress 
of herself enough to discern motives and objections ; she 
discusses and reviews elevated reasons, low reasons, and 
even some of those practical reasons which will be instantly 
dismissed, but not without having produced their clTect. 
Let us not make an enemy of this king's son. Besides, 
can I prevent his loving me? His love has nothing un- 
fl-nttering ; is he not the first knight of Troy after Hector? 
What is there astonishing in his passion for mc? If he 
loves me, shall 1 be the only one to be loved in Troy? 
Scarcely, for 

M«r iovcD woiamcn bI ihii l»un sboutc. 

Be ihey ibc wcis? Why. nay, wiihoutcn doute. 

SAm I not pretty ? " I am oon of the fayrest " in all " the 
toun of Troye," though I should not like people to know 
that 1 know it : 

Al woldc I tlui Dooa wiau of ihb ihoughi. 



After all I am free; "I am tnyn owene woman"; no 
husband to say to mc " chckmat I " And "far dieux ! I am 
iiuuyht religious ! " 1 am not a nun. 

But riglit u wtian the vinnc ihyncih hcichtc 

In Mkci'li titai cliaun^eili ofitf tynje hit laoe 

And thai a cloud ii put with wind to flichta 

Which ftv«i-tprat the lonnc u r«r > »puci , 

A cbvitly ihuu|;ht (^an thniush hie loulc pocc) 

Tlwovci-iipraddc hJr briyhte cliouKhtei allc.' 

Kow she unfolds contradictory ai^umcnts supported by 
consideratton.<t equally decisive ; ahc is sunering from that 
dihoulia (alternate will) familiar to lovers who are not yet 
thoroughly in love. There are two Crcssidas in her; the 
dialogue begun with Pandarus is continued in her heart ; 
the scene of comedy is renewed there in a graver key. 

Her decision is not taken; when will it be? At what 
precise moment docs love begin ? One scarcely knows ; 
when it has come one flxcs the date in the pa^i by hypo- 
thesis. Wc say ; it was that day, but when that day was 
the present day, we said nothing, and knew nothing ; a 
sort of *' perhaps " filled the soul, delightful, but still only a 
perhaps. Cressida is in that obscure period, and the work- 
ings within her are shown by the impression which the 
incidents of daily life produce upon her mind. It seems to 
her that everything speaks of love, and that fate is in 
league against her with PandaraK and Troilus : it is but an 
appearance, the effect of her own im^ination, and pro- 
duced by her state of mind ; in reality it happens simply 
that now the little incidents of life impress her mort when 
they relate to love ; the others pass so unperceived that 
love alone has a place. She mi^ht have felt anxious about 
herself if she had discerned this diflTerence between then 
and now ; but the bhndness has commenced, .she docs not 
observe that the things appertaining to love 6nd easy 
* Book ii. n. too A. 



access to her heart, and that, where one enters so easily, it 
is usually that the door is open. She paces in her melan- 
choly mood the gardens of the paUce ; while she w.inders 
through the shady walks, a young girl sings a song of 
passion, the words of which stir Cresaida to her very soul. 
Kight falls, 

And whyte thtnges wexcn dimme and donae j 

the stars begin to light the heavens; Crcs'^Ida returns 
pensive ; the murmurs of the city die out, Leaning at her 
window, facing the blue horizon of Troas, with the trees of 
the garden at her feet, and bathed in the pale glimmers of 
the night, Cresaida dreams, and as she dreams a melody 
disturbs the silence : hidden in the foliage of a cedar, a 
nightingale is heard ; they too, the birds, celebrate love. 
And when sleep comes, of what will she think in her 
dreams if not of love? 

She is moved, but not vanquished ; it will take yet 
many incidents ; they will all be small, trivial, insignificant, 
and will appear to Her solemn, superhuman, ordered by 
the gods. She may recover, at times, before Pandarus, her 
presence of mind, her childlike laugh, and baffle his wiles : 
for the double-story continues. Crcssida is still able to 
unravel the best-laid schemes of Pandarus, but she is less 
and less able to unravel the tangled web of her own senti- 
ments. The meshes draw closer ; now she promises a 
sisterly friendship : even that had been already invented 
in the fourteenth century. She can no longer sec Troilus 
without blushing ; he passes and bows : how handsome he 

. • . Slie halh now cAughl «, ihorn i 
Shcihal not pulk it out thb cicxi wykc. 
God wnds mo iwich ihomn on u» pylce 1 ■ 

The passion and merits of Troitus, the inventions of 

■ Book li. It. tSx 



Pandarus, the secret good-will of Crcssida, a thunderstorm 
which breaks out opportunely (we know how impression- 
able Cre!s«ida is), lead to the result which might be 
expected : the two lovers are face to face. Troilus, like a 
sensitive hero, swoons : for he is extremely sensitive ; 
when the town acclaims him, he blushes and looks down ; 
when he thinks his beloved indiflcrcni he takes to his bed 
from grief, and remains there all day ; in the presence of 
Crcssida, he loses consciousness. Pandarus revives him, 
and is not slow to perceive that he is no longer wanted : 

For ought t can espyea 
TUt Usht nor [ ne aerven here of nought. 

And he goes, adding, however, one more recommendation : 

If ye \xn ivy%e. 
Swawnelh not now, Ie*i mure folk aryte.* 

What says Cressida ? — What may " the sely larke seye " 
when "the sparhauk " has caught it? Crcssida, however, 
says something, and, of all the innumerable fomis of 
avowal, chuuses not the least sweet : 

Ne hoAAc 1 er now, my iw«e herte dere 
Ben yvldc, y-wb| 1 weio now not line I* 

Were th^ happy ? 

Bvtjuggetb. jre thu han ben ai che feste 
Of iwich gindneste.' 

The gray mom appears in the heavens ; the shriek of" the 
cok, comune astrologer," is heard ; llie lovers sing their 
song of dawn.* All the vinues of Troilus are increased and 

• Book iii. 9L (63 and 170. 

■ Book iii. n. 173. BoccitCTia's Griselda liu nothing to be compared to 
thoM (i^reen in feeling tnA lendcmeu. Sh« UogluAt iken«ivly wedded ones, 
and ignores bliulic« u well m doubts (" Filostnto," iiL tt. 39 S.)i 
a Book iii. X. 18S. 

* What me it wo 
That day of us mot nuke dcstevtmiSBce 1 

{Book iii. ri. 303, M4.^ 



intensified by happiness ; it is the eternal thesis of poets 
who are in love with love. 

The days and weeks go by: each one of our characters 
pursues his part. Pandarus is very proud of his ; what could 
one reproach him with ? He does unto others as he would 
be done by ; he is disinterested ; he has moreover certain 
principles of honour, that limit themselves, it is true, to 
recommending secrecy, which he does not fait to da Can 
a reasonable woman expect more ? 

Calchas and the Greeks claim Crcssida, and the Trojans 
decide to give her up. The unhappy young woman faints, 
but must needs submit In an excellent scene of comedy, 
Chaucer shows her receiving the congratulations of the 
good souls of the town : 30 she is going to see once more 
her worthy father, how happy she must be I The good 
souls insist very much, and pay interminable visits.^ 

She goes, swearing to return, come what may, within ten 
days. The handsome Diomedes escorts her ; and the 
event proves, what experience alone could teach, and what 
she was herself far from suspecting, that she loved Troilus, 
no doubt, above all men, but likewise, and apart from him, 
love. She is u.scd to the poison, and can no longer do 
without it ; she prefers Troilus. but to return to him is 
not so easy as she had thought, and to love or not to love 
is now for her a question of being or being not. Troilus. 
who from the start had most awful presentiments, feeling 
that, happen what may, his happiness is over, though yet 
not doubting Crcssida, writes the most pressing letters, and 
s^s them in French," le vostre T." Cressida replies by 
little short letters (that she signs " la vostre C"), in which 
she excuses herself for her brevity. The length of a letter 
means nothing ; besides she never liked to write, and where 
she is now it is not convenient to do it ; let Troilus rest 
ea^, he can count upon her fricridship, she will surely 
• Book iv. It. 98 ff. 



return ; true, it will not be in ten days ; It witi be when she 

Troilus is told of his misfortune, but he will never 
believe it : 

"Thou teyst nM ■ooth|''qacKt bC| "iTion »icercae!* 

A brooch torn from Diomedes which he had given her on 
the day of parting, 

Id Kmcmbraiuicc of him and of his aonfCi 

allows him to doubt no more, and he gets killed by Achilles 
after a furious struggle. 

As we have drawn nearer to the catastrophe, the tone of 
the poem has become more melancholy and more tender. 
The narrator cannot help loving his two heroes, even the 
faithless Crcssida ; he remains at least merciful for her, 
and out of mercy, instead of letting us behold her near as 
formerly, in the alleys or on her balcony, dreaming in the 
starlight, he shows her only from afar, lost among the 
crowd in which .she has chosen to mix, the crowd in every 
sense, the crowd of mankind and the crowd of sentiments, 
all commonplace. Let us, he thinks, remember only the 
former Cressida. 

He ends with reflections which are resigned, almost sad, 
and he contemplates with a tranquil look the juvenile 
passions he has just depicted. Troilus, resigned too, 
beholds, from heaven, the field under the walls of Troy, 

' Vel p'eye I yow on y»d ye ne uke. 
That 11 is ihorl which ihai I in yuw wrjie ; 
I dar nat. iher I am, ncl iHirci moka, 
Ne never yet ne cuuile I wpI endyte. 
Vx\t %ttt:\ effect mrr wiyte in place lyte. 
Thcnunic is ol, and noughl the kltict space 
And bieth now wcl, God have you In Uk gtacs. 

La vMira C- 

Book T. ft. 333. Trailus had vrrilten at gml knfth. of couree, " the papyr a) 

y-pleyntcU." Sl zvf. 



where he was slain, and smiles at the remembrance of his 
miseries ; and Chaucer, transforming Boccaccio's conclusion 
like all the rest, addrcssca a touching appeal, and wise, 
even religious advice, to you, 

O yonge fteulie fcilkm, )ie or she. 

In which ihot lore up grownh with youf ig&' 

This return to seriousness is quite as notewortliy as 
the mixture of everyday life, added by the poet to the 
idea borrowed from his model. By these two traits, which 
will be seen again from century to century, in English 
literature, Chaucer manifests his true English character ; 
and if we wish to see preci>ie!y in what consists the differ- 
ence between this temperament and that of the men of the 
South, whom Chaucer was nevertheless so akin to, let us 
compare this conclusion with that of the " Filostrato "* as 
translated at the same time into French by Pierre dc Beau- 
veau : "You will not bulicve lightly those who give you 
car ; young women are wilful and lovely, and admire their 
own beauty, and hold tlicm-iclves haughty and proud 
amidst their lovers, for vain-glory of their youth ; who, 
although they be gentle and pretty more than tongue can 
say, have neither sense nor firmness, but are variable as a 
leaf in the wind." Unlike Chaucer, Pierre dc Bcauvcau 
contents himself with such graceful moralisation," which 

■ Book V. sL 2^3. 

* Fknc dc Itmii'niii'f iranslalion of the pjuwagc (m Moluid &nd d'Hitiaull, 
" Nouvrllei fian^iie* t-n prose, du XIV« Siftcle," 1858, p. 303) do«« not ditter 
nucb fron) the ohginAl. Her« ii th« lulun text 1 

Gtovuic donniL ^ mobile, e vi^liou 
E ncKli KDWiili oiulli, « >ua bcllciia 
Ekilma piu ch'allo &pecchit>. e pompCM 
Hn rtiusloria di tiut cioviiiMu : 
La qu«l 4^4ianto piai^rcvolp i- ve»oM 
£ piu, coUnto <pC\\ kKO I'lipprcMi.; 
Vinii non tcnlc ni conoacimenlo, 
Votubtl mnpre come faglia a1 vcnlo- 

("Op«rc VolgAiJ," FEnrcdCc, 1831, vol. liiL p. >$]■> 



will leave no very deep impression on the mind, and which 
indeed could not, for it 1^ itself as light as " a leaf in the 


"^ After 1379 Chaucer ceased to journey on the Continent, 
and until his death he lived in Kn^^land an English 
life. He saw then several aspects of that life which he 
had not yet known from personal experience. After 
having been page, soldier, prisoner of (he French, squire 
to the king, negotiator in Flanders, France, and Italy, he 
entered Westminster the ist of October. 138G, as member 
of Parliament ; the county of Kent had chosen for its 
representatives: "Williclmus Bctenham " and "Galfridus 
Chaucercs."' It was one of the jjrcat sessions of the 
reign^ and one of the most stormy ; the ministers of 
Richard II. were impeached, and among others the son 
of the Hull wool merchant, Michel de la Pole, Chancellor 
of the kingdom. For having remained faithful to bia 
protectors, the king and John of Gaunt, Chaucer, looked 
upon with ill favour by the men then in power, of whom 
Gloucester was the head, lost his places and fell into want 
Then the wheel of Fortune revolved, and new employ- 
ments offered a new field to his activity. At the end of 
three years, Richard, having dismissed the Council which 
Parliament had imposed upon him, took the authority 
into his own hands, and the poet, soldier, member of 
Parliament, and diplomate, was appointed clerk of ^e 
royal works OjSp)' For two years he had to attend to 
the constriicticna and repairs at Westminster, at tlie Tower, 
at Bcrkhamstcd, Eltham, Sheen, at St. George's Chapel, 
Windsor, and in many others of those castles whicli he 

' "Rciiim of ihe nunei of every mnnljer [of PuUwnenil,*' 1878, ToL 
% Blue Book, p. 239. 




had described, with " pinaclcs, imageries, and tabernacles," 

At flailed fallfi in ktcIc uiuwa.' 

His great literary occupation, during that time, was the 
composition of his famous " Cantcrbur>' Tales." » Ex- 
perience had ripened hitn ; lie had read all there was to 
read, and seen all there was to see ; he had visited the 
principal countries where civilisation had developed : he had 
observed his compatriots at work en their estates and in 
their parliaments, in their palaces and in their shops. 
Merchants, sailors, knights, pages, learned men of OxTord 
and suburban quacks, men of the people and men of the 
Court, labourers, citizens, monks, priests, sages and fools, 
heroes and knaves, had passed in crowds beneath his 
scrutinising pazc ; he had associated with them, divined 
them, and understood them ; he was prepared to describe 
them all. 

On an April day. in the reign nf Richard II., in the 
rtoisy suburb of Southwark. the place for departures and 
arrivals, with streets bordered with inns, encumbered with 
horses and carts, resounding with cries, calls, and barks, 
one of those mixed troops, such as the hostelrics of that 
time often gathered toj^'cther, scats itself at the common 
board, in the hall of the "Tabard, fastc by the Belle" 3; 
the inns were all close to each other. It was spring- 
time, the season of fresh flowers, the season of love, the 
season, too, of pilgrimages. Knights returned from the 
wars go to render thanks to the saints for having let them 

• " Houj of Fame," 1. iigg, 

' " Complcie Woiks," cd. i>kc«l, Oxroid. 1894, 6 voli. 8v», vol. iv. 

■ The ''Talxiid," 1 >lc«vdc« nivrcn><, ihcn iit gcixral use, wu, lilcc the 
" BeU." a liequeni sign for innx- The Tabard Inn. 5imoi» in Chaucer'x day, 
vru niuainl in the Sauihwark High Street ; often repaired and cotored, 
(cbapiMcd tb« • ■ Talbot," it luted (ill our otnlury. 


behold again their native land ; invalids render thanks for 
thdr restoration to health; others go to ask Heaven's 
grace. Does not every one need it ? Every one is there ; 
all England. 

There is a knig;ht who has warred, all Europe over, 
against heathens and Saracens. It was easy to meet 
them ; they might be found in Prussia and in Spain, and 
our "verray parfii gentil knight" had mas>;acred enonnous 
numbers of them " at mortal bataillcs liftcne " for *" our 
faith." Next to him, a .squire who had, like Chaucer, 
fought in France, with May in his heart, a song upon his 
lips, amorous, elegant, charming, embroidered as a meadow 
— "as it were a mcdc " — with white and red flowers; a 
stout merchant, who looked so rich, was so well furred, 
and "fctisly" dressed that 

Thtar wistt no wi|[hl ilut he was in iiAV^\ 

a modest clerk, who had come from the young University 
of Oxford, poor, patched, threadbare, with hollow cheeks, 
mounted on a lean horse, and whose little all consisted in 

TwroiV iMkea, cbid in bkk and reed ; 

an honest country franklin, with "sangw>*n" visage and 
b«ard white " as is the daycsye," a sort of fourteenth- 
century Squire Western, kindly, hospitable, good- 
humoured, holding open table, with fish and roasts and 
savu piquanlt and beer ail day long, so popular in the 
county that, 

Fill oftc lymc )ie wu Vnlcht of the :ihb« ; 

a shlpman who knew every creek, from Scotland to Spain, 
and had encountered many a storm, with his good ship 
" the Maudelaync," 

With many a lempesi hnddc his bed been ihakc ; 




a physician who had driven a thriving trade during the 
plague, learned, and acquainted with the why and the 
wherefore of every disease, 

Were it of hoot or cold, or moisic or diye ; 

who knew by beart Hippocrates and Galen, but was on 
bad terms with the Church, for 

llii stutUc wu bai litel on iba Bible. 

With them, a group of working men from London, a 
haberdasher, a carpenter, dyer, wtaver, and cook ; people 
from the country, a ploughman, a miller, 

Hi$ inoutb u j{re«t wm as « gr<«t fomert, 


a group of meu-at-law devoured with cares, close shaven, 
bitter of speech — 

Pul lonjc vrere hi* Ic^cs, and fill Icn^ 
V-l)'k a staf, ihcr wrai no call y-teiie^ 

bringing out their Latin on every occasion, terrible as 
adversaries, but easy to win over for money, and after all, 
as Chaucer himself says, "les meilleur:t AIs du monde": 

AbcttK (elawe «hold* men noght finde. 

Then a group of Church-folk, men and women, of every 
garb and every character, from the poor parish priest, who 
lives like a saint, obscure and hidden, visiting, in rain and 
cold, the scattered cottages of his peasants, forgetting to 
receive his tithes, a model of abnegation, to the hunting 
monk, dressed like a layman, big, fat, with a head as shiny 
as a ball, who will make one day the finest abbot in the 
world, to the degenerate friar, who lives at the expense 
of others, a physician become poisoner, who destroys 
souls instead of healing them,and to the pardoner, a rascal 



of low degree, who bestows heaven at random by his own 
" heigh power " on whoever will pay, and who manufactures 
precious relics out of the pieces of his " old breech." 
Finally there are nuns, reserved, quiet, neat as ermines, 
who are going to hear on the way enough to scandalise 
Ihem all the rest of their lives, Among them, Madame 
Eglantine, the prioress, with her French of Stratford, 

For Frensh of Paris was to hir unknoir«, 

who imitated the style of the Court, and, consequently, 

Ne wcite hir Antics in hiriauce depCi 

She was " so pitous '* that she wept to see a mouse caught, 
or if one of her little dogs died. Can one be more 
" pilous " ? 

All those personages there were, and many more besides. 
There was the Wife of Bath, that incomparable gos«p, 
screaming all the louder as she was "som-del deef." There 
was the jovial host, Harry Bailey, used to govern and 
command, and to drown with his brazen voice the tumult 
of the common table. There is al&o a person wIk) looks 
thoughtful and kindly, who talks little but observes 
everything, and who is going to immortalise the most 
insignificant words pronounced, screamed, grumbled, or 
murmured by his companions of a day, namely, Chaucer 
himself. With its adventurers, its rich merchants, its 
Oxford clerks, its members of Parliament, its workmen, 
Its labourers, its saints, its great {luet, it is indeed the 
new England, joyous, noisy, radiant, all youthful and full 
of life, that sits down, this April evening, at the board of 
" the Tabard fastc by the Belle." Where are now the 
Anglo-Saxons ? But where are the last year's snows ? 
April has come. 

The characters of romance the statues on cathedrals, the 



fibres in missals, had been heretofore slender or stini, 
or awkward or stiff; CHpccially those produced by the 
English. Owing to one or the other of thasc defects, those 
representations were not true to nature. Now we have, in 
an Englinh poem, a number of human beings, drawn from 
the original, whose movements arc supple, whose types arc 
as varied as in real life, depicted exactly as they were in 
their sentiments and in their dress, so that it seems we 
sec them, and when wc part the connection is not broken. 
The acquaintances made at "the Tabard faste by the Belle " 
are not of those that can be forgotten ; they are life-long' 

Nothing is omitted which can serve to fix. to anchor in 
our memory, the vision of these personages. A lialf-line, 
that unveils the salient trait of their characters, becomes 
impo^ible to forget ; their attitudes, their gestures, their 
clothes, their warts, the tones of their voices, their defects 
erf pronunciation — 

Sotnwhai he lii>ted for his wtntonoifiiii 

their peculiarities, the host's red face and the reeve's 
yellow one, their elegances, their arrows with peacock 
feathers, their bagjiipes, nothing is left out ; their horses 
and the way they ride them are described : Chaucer even 
peeps inside their bags and tells us what he finds there. 

So the new England has its Eroissart, who is going to 
tell feats of arms and love stories glowing with colour, and 
take us hitlicr and thither, through highways and byways, 
giving car to every talc, observing, noting, rctaling? This 
young country has Frois^art and better than Eroissart. 
The pictures arc as vivid and as clear, but two great 
dilfcrcnccs distinguish the ones from the others: humour 
and sympathy. Already we find humour well developed 
in Chaucer ; his sly jests penetrate deeper than Erench 
jests ; he does not go so far as to wound, but be does more 



than merely prick skin-deep ; and in so doing, he laughs 
silently to himself. There was once a merchant, 

Thai riche wu. (or which miin heldc him try«.' 

The " Scigcant of Lawe" was a busy man indeed : 

No wher to buy ■ man » he ther nu. 
And yet be Ktati bider ihui he wac 

Moreover, Chaucer sympathises ; he has a quivering 
heart that tears move, and that all sufferings touch, those 
of the poor and those of princes. The role of the people, 
so marked in English literature, affirms itself here, from 
the first moment. " There are some p«rs<jn^," says, for 
his justification, a French author. *' who think it beneath 
them to bestow a glance on what opinion has pronounced 
ignoble ; but those %vho arc a h'ttlc more philosophic, who 
arc a little less the dupes of the distinctions that pride 
has introduced into the aifairs of this world, will not be 
sorry to sec the sort of man there is inside a coach- 
man, and the sort of woman inside a petty shopkeeper." 
Thus, by a great effort of audacity, as it seems to him, 
Marivaux expresses himself in 1731.=* Chaucer, even in 
the fourteenth century, is curious to sec the sort of man a 
cook of London may be, and the sort of woman a Wife of 
Bath is. How many wretches perish in Froissart! What 
blood ; what hecatombs ; and how few tears I Scarcely 
here and theie, and tar apart, words absently spoken about 
so much suffering: "And died the common people oT 
hunger, which was great pity," 3 Why lament long, or 
marvel at it F II is the business and proper function of 
the common people to be cut to pieces ; they are Che raw 

■ Brginninj of lhe"Shipmftnii(»Tale.'' 
• "Vivde MKtiinne," Piri«, t7}l-4l> 
> Book i. chop. Hi , Luce's oJiUoa. 



material of feats of arms, and as such only figure in the 

They figure in Chaucer's narrative, because Chaucer 
levts them ; he loves his plowman, "a true .su'inkcr and 
a good," who has strength enough and to spare in his two 
arms, and helps his neighbours for nothing ; he suffers at 
the thought of the muddy lanes along which his poor 
parson must go in winter, through the rain, to visit a 
distant cottage. The poet's sympathy is broad ; be loves, 
as he hates, with all hts heart 

One after another, all these persons of such diverse con- 
ditions have gathered together, twenty-nine in all. For 
one day they have the same object in view, and are going 
to live a common life. Fifty-six miles from London is the 
shrine, famous through all Furopc, which contains the re- 
mains of Henry the Second's foi mcr adversary, the Chan- 
cellor Thomas Becket, assassinated on the steps of the 
altar, and canonised' Mounted each on his steed, cither 
good or bad, the knight on a beast sturdy, though of 
indifferent appearance : the hunting monk on a superb 
palfrey, "as broiin as is a bcryc"; the Wife of Bath 
sitting astride her horse, armed with great spurs and 
showing her red stockings, they set out, taking with them 
mine host of the " Tabard," and there they go, at an easy 
pace, along the sunny road lined with hedges, among the 
gentle undulations of the soil They will cross the 
Medway; they will pass beneath the walls of Rochester's 
gloomy keep, then one of the principal fortresses of the 
kingdom, but sacked recently by revolted peasantry ; they 
will see the cathedral built a little lower down, and, as it 
were, in its shade. There arc women and bad riders in the 
group ; the miller has drunk too much, and can hardly sit 

' The CMoniMiion took place xhonty after the dcmth of the xrchbishop, 
II70-7J. There j» nolhinii Idt lu-Uay but an old raaible muMic, pvatlf re- 
■tofcd, CO iDdicace Ibe pluK in the choli where the ^rine uied io be. 



in the saddle; the way will be long,* To make it seem 
short, each one will relate two talcs, and the troop, on its 
return, will honour by a supper the best telltr. 

Under the shadow of great romances, shorter stories 
had -ipnin(j up. The forest of romance was now losing 
its leaves, and the stories were expanding in the sunlight 
The mosl celebrated coUcctBon was Boccaccio's, written in 
delightful llalian prose, a many-sided work, edifying and 
licentious at \\ve same time, a work audacious in every way, 
even from a litcrar},' point of view. Boccaccio knows it, 
and justifies his doings. To those who reproach him with 
having busied himself with "trifles," neglecting "the 
Musc-s of Parnassus," he replies: Who knows whether I 
have neglected them so very much? " Perhaps, while I 
wrote those talcs of such humble mien, they may have 
come sometimes and seated themselves at my side."* 
They bestowed the same favour on Chaucer. 

The idea of " Troilus and Criseydc," borrowed from 
Boccaccio, had been transformed ; the general plan and 
the setting of the "Tales " are modified more profoundly 
yet. In Boccaccio, it is always young noblemen and ladies 
who talk : seven young ladies, "all of good family, beauti- 
ful, elegant, and virtuous," and three young men, " all three 
afTable and elegant," whom the misfortunes of the time 
'"did not affect so much as to make them forget their 
amours." The great plague has brrtken out in Florence ; 
they seek a retreat "wherein to give themselves up to 
mirth and pleasure " ; they lix upon a villa half-way to 
Ficsolc, now villa Palmicri. 

"A fine large court, disposed in the centre, was sur- 

■ A mafi of the *oad from London lo Canteilniry, dnwn in the KveniMnth 
ccDluty, tnii ihowitiK line line v( Ibe old bit^hwiiy, haii iMwn rcptoduced by 
Dr. FuiiiivaU in liii> " Supplcnieivtury C«atc(buix Talc»— I. The Tote of 
Bt7yn."Ch»otcr Society. i8;6, 8»x>. 

■ " E lone a tguisle cose Krivere. (junnlunqur sieno utniltaijiiie. sJ uino die 
vcntite puecchi voile k lUm ntMO." I'rologoe of "Cionau Quaitk." 



rounded by galleries, halls and chambers all ornamented 
with the gayest paintings. The dwelling-house rose in the 
midst of meadows and magnificent pardens, watered by 
cool streams; the ccjUars were full of excellent wines." 
Eveiy one is forbidden, " whencesoever he may come, or 
whatever be may hear or see, to bring hither any news 
from without that be not agreeable." They scat themselves 
" in a part of the garden which the foliage of the trees 
rendered impenetrable to the sun's rays," at the time when. 
the heat being in ail its strength, one heard nothing 
save the cicada: singing among the oUvc-trccs." Thanks 
to the stories they relate to each other, they pleasantly 
foi|;et the scourge which threatens them, and the public 
woe ; yonder it is death ; here they play. 

Chaucer has chosen for himself a plan more humane, 
and truer to nature. It is not enough for him to saunter 
each day from a palace to a garden ; he is not content 
with an alley, he must have a road. He puts his whole 
troop of narrators in motion ; he stops them at the inns, 
takes them to drink at the public-houses, obliges them to 
hurry their pace when evening comes, causes ihem to make 
a,cquaintance with the passers-by. His people move, bestir 
themselves, listen, talk, scream, sing, exchange compliments, 
sometimes blows ; for if his knights are real knights, bis 
millers are real millers, who swear and strike as in a mill. 

The interest of each talc is doubled by the way in which 
it is told, and even by the way it is listened ta The knight 
delights his audience, which the monk puts to sleep and the 
lillcr causes to laugh ; one is heard tn silence, the other 

interrupted at every word. Each story is followed by a 
"scene of comedy, lively, quick, unexpected, and amusing ; 
they discuss, they approve, they lose their tempers; no 
strict rules, but all the independence of the high-road, and 
the unforeseen of real life ; wc arc not sauntering in alleys! 
Mine host himself, with his deep voice and his peremptory 

22 ■ 



decisions, docs not always succeed in making himself 
obeyed. After the knight's tale, he would like another in 
the smne style to iiutcli it ; but be will have to listen 
to the miller's, which, mi the contrary, will senc as a con- 
trast. He in^istb ; the miller shouts, he shouts "in Pilates 
vols," he threatens to leave them all and "go his wey " if 
they prevent him from talking. " Wei," says the host, 

" Tcl on. a ilevcl wejr I 
Thou ut a (ool, thy «rit it oveKome," 

What would Donna Pampinea and Donna Filomena 
have said, hearing such words ? 

At other times the kni^jht is obliged to interfere, and 
then the tone is verj' different. He does not have to 
scream ; a word from him is enough, and the storms are 
calmed. Moreover, the host himself becomes more gentle 
at times ; this innkeeper knows whom he has to deal with ; 
with all his rouyliness, he has a rude notion of dif^rences 
and distances. His language is the language of an inn- 
keeper; Chaucer never commits the fault of making him 
step out of his r6Ic ; but the poet i-s toti keen an observer 
not to discern nuancts even in the temper of a jovial host. 
One should see with what politeness and what salutations 
and what embarrassed compliments he informs the abbess 
that her turn has come to relate a slory : 

" My lady Pijorcaae, by youi Icve, 

So ihni f wist 1 tholiic yew nal gievci 

I wuldi? dctnen Uiai yv teltr iJiolile 

A talp next, il w weie Ibal ye wolite. 

Now wol j>r voiiche-»«uf, my Imly deie?" 

— " Gladly," quod ilic. onJ M}dc u y« ahttl herb 

The answer is not !es^ suitable than the request 

Thus, in these little scenes, we see, put into action, the 
descriptions of the prologue ; the portraits step out of 
their frames and come down into the -street ; their limbs 
have become immediately supple and active; the blood 



courses through their veins; life fills them to the end of 
their fingers. No sooner arc they on their feet than they 
turn somersaults or make courtesies ; and by their words 
they charm, enliven, edify, or scandalise. Their personality 
is so accentuated that it makes them unmanageable at 
times ; their temper rules them ; they arc not masters of 
their speech. The friar wants to tell a story, but he is so 
blinded by anger that he docs not know where he is going; 
he stammers, he chokes, and his narrative remains shape- 
less; the pardoner is so closely bound to his profession that 
he cannot for a moment move out of it ; shirt and skin 
make one, to use a ratniliar phrase of Montaigne's; his 
tale resembles a sermon, and he concludes as though he 
were in church : 

Now, gooile men, God Forgeve yaw yuur trci|ia3 . . . 

I hare rdikei And pardnn in my mxlc 

At loiic H axvf man ia Etigclond • ■ . 

It is an honour to cvciich iImi is hcer, 

Thai ye tnowe have a luffinnl pardonea 

TasMillle yow. In concrw as ye lyde, 

Fni tvMtinm vihich rhnt mny bityda. 

rcmvcntuic ihci may falle oon oi two 

Donu uf his hon, anrl brcke hU nckkc nlw-n. 

Look wtiat * MTuretec ii it lo yow idU 

"Ww. I am in your felaweship y-falle, 

TfiAl niai' iMiriillc yow. tiothc more and Ixtse, 

Whan ihai the mule i^lml fro tbc body i^uk. 

I rcfic that out honlc hccr ahal bi|^»ne, 

For be it moit envolupcO it) siflne. 

Cnni forth lir hc>tte, and offre firet nnnn. 

And thou ihnlt kj»c the ielik> «verii;li<in. 

Ye, for ■ sTote ! unbokcl anon ihy pun ! ' 

A most happy Idea! Mine host makes a reply which 
cannot be repeated. 

In other cases the personage is so wordy and impetuous 
that it is impossible to stop him. or set him right, or inlcr- 
rupt him ; he cannot make up his mind to launch into his 

' ** PaidonerS Tule," U. 904, 91O, 931. 



narrative ; he must needs remain himself on the stage and 
talk about his oivn person and belongings ; he alone is a 
whole comedy. One perforce keep silence when the 
Wife of Bath begins to talk, irresistible gossip, chubby- 
faced, over-fed, ever-buzr-ing. inexhaustible in speech, never- 
failing in arguments, full of glee. She talks about what she 
knows, about her specialty ; her specialty is matrimony ; 
she has !iad five husbands, "three of hem were godc and 
two were baddc ; " the last is still living, but she is already 
thinking of the sixth, because she docs not hkc to wait, 
and because husbands are perishable things; they do not 
last long with her ; in her eyes the weak sex is the mate 
sesc She is not going to break her heart about a husband 
who gives up the ghost ; her conscience is easy ; the spouse 
departs quite ready for a better world : 

By Gml. in orth» I was hit p«rgnc«rie. 
For which I hope hik soute be ta glovie. 

Some praise celibacy, or reason about husbands' rights J 
the merry gossip will answer them. She discusses the 
matter thoroughly ; sets forth the pros and cons ; allows 
her husband to speak, then speaks herself ; she has the 
best arguments in the world ; her hu.';band, too, has ex- 
cellent ones, but it is she who has the very best. She is a 
whole Eicle des Maris in herself. 
The tales are of every sort,' and taken from everywhere. 

' The sciilnE of Ihc lalo into their proper order Is dije to Bradtliaw and 
Fiutiivall ; see iMimiv all's " Trrapotaiy Pielacc " for the " Su-mi cdJiion of 
Chaucei'i Omletbuiy TaJiw," Cluiuecr S<KJot)', 1S6S. The wilcr, mbjecl* 
ftnd oriifinals cl the talci arc follows ; — 

ijT Pa). t..ondon to Dnnfnrd, 15 miln. — Talc lyf the Knight, huunycrf 
I^knioii and Atcyte, deiived fruiri Boceitccio's "TeiciUe," — Title of tha 
Milter : itory of Abvilon, Nicliolni nnd Alivjtm the carjxntet'i wile, loutce 
unknown. — Reeve's lolc, imilalcJ from ihc Kmich f»Ui«u uf Coniliert and 
lliG two clerk* (nbgve, p- \%i\\ mihg tale in UoccMCcto, ix. 6, iiuiii whmn 
La Fontaine louk it: " le Beiccau." — Cooli'i talc, unfiniihed ; the tale ol 
Gamelyn attributed by some MSS. 10 the Coolc weim to be umply on olil 



Chaucer never troubled himself to invent any; he re- 
ceived them from all hands, but he modelled them after 
his own fashion, and adapted them to his characters. They 

vuny whicli Chuiccr inicniltd lo rvmodd ; ii would suit the Vcoman better 
ih&a tlie CimIc {to " Complete Wurki," u ui appendix to vol. iv. |. 

2Hd Pay. Stopping at KoL-hester. 50 miies.— Tile of ihe Mnn of L«wt 
hiiTary of the piou* Ci^n^l&nc*;. frqin the Fieuch nf Triv«t, *n En{i1i<htnu] who 
wtotcalto tAtin chroniclM, &c-,M[ne story in Oowct, who wrote ilab. 1393. — 
Shipmon's tale : iinry of « tncirhnnt of St. Denyx, ha wife, and a wicked 
mattk., from lome t'letich Eibluu, ot ftom " Dcctnictun," yiii. i. — Talc of ih« 
Priema: m child killed hy Jewf. from the French of Gaulier de Coinci, — Tales 
by Chancer : Sir Thopis, a raiicatutp of the tom.inMS of chivalry i sLoiy of 
Helibeut, from a Ftench vctuon of the " Lihcr tontoUtionb ci coiiAilli " of 
Albectano of Btoicia, thidccnih ccniury. — Monk'* tale: " inf-edirs " of 
Lucifet, AJam, Sani|»on, Herctile!, Nebiichadneuui, Belihattat. Zenobia, 
Pedro Che Ctuel, I'lerre d< LiiSiignan king of Cj-prut, Barnabo ViKonti 
(d. 1385), Ilug<ilirii>, K'ctu, Hulufcriiet, Aniiocliu*, Akxi^ndcf, dniir, CruratM \ 
fiomBucoiccio, Machnult, Duntc. the ancicntv.&c— Talc of the Nun's Prieai: 
Story of CtuuRicclcer, nme story in " Roman de Elenart " and in Marie dc 

y'd Day. Re«aiO«prin{«e, 46 miles. — Tale «f the Phyweui a : Appiaiand 
Virginia, fiom Titos Linui and the ''Roman de lo Roacj" nunc ttory in 
Cower.— Pardafljr'* talc : three young mrn find a trcmure, quarrel over it 
and kill each nther, an old legend, of whicli. howcvci. we hare no eatliei 
venion th:in the one in the *' Cento Novdle aniiche." nov. 83. — Tale of the 
Wife of Bath : ttory of the young knight Mved by an old hOrceretA, wlium ha 
nuLicies and who recovers her youth and boialy ; the first original of ihit old 
legend is not known ; umc xliiry in Onwcr (Sinry of Flo>tcni),end in Volioirc : 
"Ce tjui plait lux Dailies. "—t'tki^ lule : a siiiumuner taken away by th* 
devil, Irom one of the uld coUertion^ of i.xtmfia. — Tile of the S umni oner 
(lotnnout, sotiipnoui) 1 a friiu- i|l-ieccivvd by a moribund ; a cootte, pcpuUt 
Kcty, • vcnion of which it la "TU Ulcrpiq;el."— Clctk of Oxford't tale: 
alary of GrUclda from Pcinuch'tt I.atin veition of the lott tnle in the 
" IJecatneron." — Meichiuit's tale ; old January beguiled by hi* wife May and 
by Dantian : iheic ate tevenil vetMons of ihte stoty, one in the *' Decameron." 
vii. 9, which wa& iiiadc uk of by La Fontaine, il. "). 

9fh Day. Rcnrh Carktcrbury, %i\ miles.— Squire's itJe : onfiniihed story of 
Cambinacan, kiiit^of Txrtnry; origin unknown, in part from the French totnance 
of " Cleamades." — Kianklln's tale: Aurelius ir^n. 10 obioin Doticen't love fay 
Bftagic i Wine story in Borcaccio'i. " Filtieopo," anil in the " Decamerom," x. 
5.— Talc of the (eoond nun ; story of St. Cecilia, from the Oolden Legem].— 
Tale of the Canon's Yeoman : frauds of sn alchemist (frum Chauccr'ti pcrwml 
experience?).— Manciple's tale ; a ctihk tells Phccbus of the f&ithlessaciB of 
the woman h* loves ; from Ovid, lo be found »l»o in Gower.— Parson's talc, 
hoa the F'cnch '* Sumnic des Vices et des Veitus " of Fmr Lorens, 1379. 



are borrowed from France, Italy, ancient Rome; th« knight's 
tale is taken from Boccaccio, that of the nun's priest is 
imitated from the " Roman de Ken art " ; that of "my lord 
the monk" from Latin authors and from Dante, "the grete 
poete of Itaille." The miller, the reeve, the somnour, the 
shipman, relate coarse stories, and their Sicb^nliousness some- 
what embarrasses the good Chaucer, who excuses himself 
for it It Is not he who talks, it is his road -companions ; 
and it is the Southwark beer which inspires them, not he ; 
you must blame the Southwark beer. The manners of the 
people of the lower classes, their loves, their animosities 
and their jealousies, arc described to the life in these 
narratives. VVc see how the jolly Absolon ([oes to work 
to charm the carpenter's wife, who prefers Nicholas ; he 
makes music under her windows, and brings her little 
presents; he is careful of his attire, wears "hoses re 
spreads out hair that shines like gold, 

He kemple hb« lakkn brode. uirl noi&t hjm gay. 

If on a feast-day they play a Mystery on the public place 
before the church, he gets the part of Herod allotted to 
hiffl : who could resist a person so much in view? Alison 
resists, however, not out of virtue, but because she prefers 
Nicholas. She docs not require fine phni:>t:s to repel 
Absolon 's advances; village-folk are not so ceremonious: 

Go fbrth til)- wey, or t vol casl« » t\aa. 

Blows abound in stories of that kind, and the personages 
go off with *' their back as limp as their belly," as we read 
in one of the narratives from which Chaucer drew his in- 

Next to these great scenes of noise there are tittle 
familiar scenes, marvellously obser%'ed, and described to 



perfection ; scenes of home-life Ihat might tempt the pencil 
of a Dutch painter ; views of the mysterious labor.atory 
where the alchemist, at once duped and duping, surrounded 
with retorts, " cucurbites and alembykes," his clothes burnt 
to holes, seeks to discover the philosopher's atone. They 
heat, the>' pay great attention, they stir Che mixture ; 

t~ Th« pot to-bielceth, and fuwwd ! aI is go I 
Then they discuss ; it is the fault of the pot, of the fire, 
r ""■ 

Soto My^«. it «nu lonj; on ihe fyr^roaLiiiK, 

Sun) MirJc. iMLy t il wu un the blowing. . , , 

'■ Slrnw." qHfld ihc llinVirir. " jre Iwrti Icwcde and nyce. 

It was DAI leiii^eil ajc ii i^bte be." 

A fourth discovers a fourth cause : " Our fyr was nat 
maad of beech." What wonder, with so many causes for 
a failure, that it failed ? We will begin over again.* 

Or else, wc have reprcscDtations of those interested 
visits that mendicant friars paid to the d>*ing. The friar, 
low, trivial, hypocritical, approachci; : 

** Deu* hie," quod he, " O TIumdm, fteend, eood dny." 

He lays down his sEaff, wallet, and hat ; he takes a »eat, 
the cat was on the bench, he makes it jump down ; he 
settles himself; the wife bustles about, he allows her to, 
and even encourages her. What could he eat ? Oh ( 
next to nothing, a fowl's liver, a pig's head roa-stcd, the 
lightest repast ; his " stumak is destroyed ; " 

My s[dril haih his rottring in llic Bible. 

■ '' Couiplcic Woiks" vol. iv. p. 53S. The canon and hia nun Join the 
paleiim^ durjne thr (outth day'n Joumcy. Cotiitiiry to CKiiuch'* \tx. mcli a 
k«eji aniuioiiiy appturk iu this utile ol aJchmi-tU Uiat it teeint a* if the poeti 
then rather hard up, hid had himictf a gnKlgc agatoiT inch qiudci. 



He thereupon delivers to the sick man a long and interested 
sermon, mingled with Latin words, in which the verb *" to 
give" comes in at every line ; whatever you do, don't give 
to others, give to me; give to my convent, don't give to 
the convent next door ; 

A ! yi( tliBl covcnt halt ■(tnoitct oiet ! 
A 1 yif ib«t cuvcol (6u( miJ tweniy etotct ! 
A ! yif ihat frere % pcny tm-d kl him go. . , . 
Thomait, o\ me than nhalt lutt ben y'Aatcred ; 
Thou woMuc liMi om hbour ai Tor ci'OghL' 

Pay then, pivc then, give me this, or only that ; Thomas 

gives less still. 

Familiar scenes, equally true but of a more pleasing 
kind, are found in other narratives, for instance in the 
story of Chauntecleer ihe cock, so well localised with a few 
words, in a green, secluded country nook : 

A poucc widwe, Mindel Mope in ige 
Wu whylom dwelling ia a naiwe coiaed 
Itijydc 1. grove, tiandingin a dole. 

Her stable, her barn-yard are described ; we hear the 
lowing of the cows and the crowing of the cock ; the 
tone rises little by little, and we get to the mock-heroic 
style. Chauntecleer the cock. 

In al the land of craning na« hi* pccr- 
Hu voU wu mcricf than ttic mcry oreoB 
On mmc-ilays (hat in the chitchc %mi ; 
Wcl likcrtr was 1i» crowing in hit logge 
Than » ■ elokke, or an ahboy orlnggr. . . . 
Hi* comb wu redder Ihan l}ie fyn cotbI, 
Aod tHUtlcd, u il were & ^uttcl-wal I 

* I. i()6j, Compare the nwnilicani friar in Dideral. who drew him from 
luture, centuries luicr: ii U ibc uine m»1 of naiaTc. Friar John "venail 
i,%sA noire village domanHt-r dcs ceuft, de la Lalnc. du cbtuivre, des fraiu Jk 
cluque talEon." Kmr John "ne|)«SMit pai dAne let rue» que les t^r«», la 
mirci et tcs cnfanis n'allittseot i lui ct ne lui crinstcnt : Bonjour, friie JcaOt 
ciiminect tuus portci I'aus. here Jeaii ^ tl est iQr que quxnd il cninJt dam 
line [iiaisim. la bf^neitiction du cid y cniDiil av«c lui.'' "Jacquet le Faulitte 
(I ton Malifc," cd. Aueline, {i. 4b. 


He had a black beak, white " nayles," and azure legs ; he 
reigned unrivalled over the hens in the bam-yard. One 
of the hens was his favourite, the others Blled subalternate 
parts. One day — 

This storie b al-so trewe, I undertake 
As is the book of Launcelot tie Lake, 
That womroen holde in ful grel reverence, 

— he was looking for " a boterflye," and what should he 

see but a fox t " Cok, cok ! " he cries, with a jump, and 

means to flee. 

" Gentil sire, alias I wher wol ye gon ? 
Be ye affiayed of me that am your fi:eend?" 

says the good fox ; I came only to hear you sing ; you have 
the family talent : 

My lord your &der (God his soule blesse '.), 

sang SO well ; but you sing better still. To sing better 
still, the cock shuts his eye, and the fox bears him otf. 
Most painful adventure ! It was a Friday : such things 
always befall on Fridays. 

O Gaufred, dere maysler soverayn, 
That whoQ the worthy King Richard was slayn 
With shot, compleynedest his deih so sore. 
Why ne had I now thy sentence and thy lore, 
The Friday for to chide, as diden ye? ' 

Great commotion in the bam-yard; and here we find a 
picture charming for its liveliness : " Out! harrow! and 
weyl-away ! Ha, ha, the fox I " every one shrieks, yells, 
runs ; the dogs bark, 

Ran cow and calf, and eek the verray hogges t 

> " Complete Works," vol, iv. p. 285; on Geoffrey de Vinesanfand Richard 
see above, p. 180. 


the ducks scream, '■* 

Tlic gees fof fere flowcn o»cr the tree). 

and the bees come out of their hives. *Thc prisoner is 
set free ; he will be more prudent another time; order 
reigns once mnrc in the domains of Chaunlecieer. 

Side by side with such (ales-of animals, we h'a\'e elegant 
^stories of the Round Table, borrowed from the lays of 
" thisc oldc gcntil Britons." and which carry us back to a 
time when, 

In ihoMe <\xfvs of the King Archout 
Of which ilui Britoni Rpckcn gcci-i honour, 
Al was 1)113 Wicl fulfflil of fitytTjre; 
Th« clf*i|ucc[i. will) Iiir jul)t campinye, 
Daunccd fill oAc in nuoy a £feac mcde i 

oriental legends, which the young squire will relate, with 
enchantments, magic mirrors, a brass horse that transports 
its rider through the gir, here or there according as one 
touches a peg iii its ears, an ancestor doubtless of " Clavi- 
legno," the steed of Don' Quixote in the Duchesse's park ; 
bioyraphics of Appius and Virginia, of; Casar. of Nero, 
of Holophernc-s, of Hugolino in the, tower of hunger, taken 
from Roman history, the BiWe and pante ; adventures of 
chivalry, in which figures Thcscus,nukc of Athens, where 
blood (lows profusely, with all the digressions and all the 
embellishments which »ttll continuc<l to please great men 
and great ladies, and that is why the story is told by the 
knight, and Chaucer retains purposely all the faults of that 
particular sort of story. In opposition to his usual custom, 
he contents himself here with lending a little life to illu- 
minations of manuscripts." 

' See for cxumplt hi* <teKripti«n of ■ youn^ l&dr piihcrini; Bowcn «1 
dnwii in « gonicn, at ihc foot of m "doi^Ecoun," Kni^ht't TbIc. 1. 190, '' Con- 
plelr Work»." i*. p. 31- 



Grave personages relate grave stories, like canticles or 
sermons, coloured as with the light of stained glass, 
perfumed with incense, accompanied by organ music: 
story of the pious Constance, of St. Cecilia, of a child 
killed by the Jews ; dissertations of dame Prudence {a 
talc of wondrous dulncss.' which Chaucer modestly 
ascribes to himself); story of the patient Griseld*; dis- 
course of the poor parson. A while ago we were at the 
inn ; now we arc in church ; in the Middle Ages striking 
colours and decided contrast?; were best liked ; the faded 
tints that have since been in fashion, mauve, cream, old- 
green, did not touch any one ; and wc know that Chaucer, 
when he was a page, had a suptrb Cf*stume, of which one 
leg was red and the other black. Laughter was inexlin- 
gui«ihable ; it rose and fell and rose again, rebounding 
indefinitely ; despair was immeasurable ; the iense of 
measure was precisely what was wanting; its vutgarisa- 
tion was one of the results of the Renaissance. Panegyrics 
and satires were readily carried to the extreme. The y^^ 
logical spirit, propagated among the learned by a scho- 
lastic education, was producing its effect: writers drew 
apart one single quality or characteristic and descanted 
upon it, neglecting all the rest. Thus it is that Grisclda 
becomes Patience, and Janicola Poverty, and that by an 
easy and imperceptible transition the abstract personages 
of novels and the drama arc created : Cowardice, Valiance, 
Vice. Those typical beings, whose names alone make us 
shudder, were considered perfectly natural ; and, indeed, 

' Bitt very pnpular, licfived ftum the "LilerCoiiiobtitMii*" of Albrrtnnoof 
Brcftcin, writicn ak 1346. cd. Tli«r SuiiJlij. Chaucer Soulely. 1873. Il waj 
tnini.lal«ii into French |^«vcral iiine«|, Italian, Geininn, Dutch. Frnich lent 
in MS. Key- 19. C t\\. in iW BtJiibh Mittvuin : " Vnt jouvcaccatiU *ppc)£ 
Mclitxk-. piiiiMni et riclic* ol une fcmmc nnmnic I'rudence, el ic ccllc fcmnic 
at unr fille. .\(lvini un jour. . . ." "A yamvg iimn." «y» Clisuoet, whosr 
tale is alu> in \\rott, " called Molilietii. mighty anti richc, bigai up.on Hi uyf 
Ihai called ^itt PrU'lrncrr, a doghict which thai called wu St>phi». Upon * 
<Uy bcfcl. . . ." {It. 1 19). 



they bore a striking resemblance to Griselda, Janicola, and 
many other heroes of the most popular stories, 

The success of Griselda is the proof of it That poor girl» 
married to the marquis of Saluccs, who repudiates her in 
order to try lier patience, and then gives her back her 
position of wife, enjoyed an immense popularity. Uoccaccio 
had related her misfortunes in the " Dccinncron"; Petrarch 
thought the story so beautiful th»t it appeared to hire 
worthy of that supreme honour, a Latin translation : 
Chaucer translated it in his turn from Latin into English, 
and made of it his Clerk of Oxford's tale ; ■ it was turned 
sevci-al times into French' Pinturicchio represented the 
adventures of Griselda in a scries of pictures, now preserved 
in the National Gallery; the story furnished the subject 
of plays in Italy, in France, and in England.^ These 

' Unlike noat o( [he lain, thii one is written in icitnuu, Quucci'i rai-onnie 
KVcnOinc Miuutit, rhj'mlDg a b a h A e c, 

■ It U to be found In the •' Mirngier ile Farls," ah. 1593, the nuihor of 
which declares thai he will ■' trairr un cxemplc rjni (ill J« pie9i traiuUt^ |iat 
lluuttK FmnfoiK Pctratc qui k Knnime Tut couronDc poitc " (" M<iii>};Kt,*' 
1S46, vol. i. p. 99). The iniiic <tof>- finiJi place in " Mclilicut," MS, Reg. 
19 C vii. iu ihi^ Biiiisli Muaeum, CoL 14a Aiiuihet French traiuUiion wai 
primed at>. 1470: "La Faiience Crtsclidii Jttarqiii&e ile !ialuc»." Under 
Ijoait, XtV., Perniult wrote a metrical vcrxinn of the mnie »Iory ; ■■ I^ Mu- 
quite de Salucct ou la palicnce dc Griielidis," iVicit, 1691, tliuo. A nuinba 
nf balladi in nil couirliini were dcdica.TC(l tu Griselda ; ihc populahiy of sn 
ICn|[liih one is shown by the (act of other tMlt&dt bring "to ihc tune of Patient 
GrinMl." Oneof Mis» Rdgcworih's novcU h3<^ fur its title and lubjeci : "The 
Mad<-jn GrJKlda." 

^ One in Ktench was pecrvtmcd at Pari* in 1395 |" Ecioirc it Urbclidb 
. . . yax pcr»inrugcs," MS. Fr. 2203 in the Niilional Ltliruy, I'ari*), and wu 
printed ai ihe Kcnaiunnce, by Bonrant, al>. i$so: "L< Mystirede Grbelidis*'; 
one in German wat written tiy Hnnii Sncht in 1550. In Iltljr It wu Ibe 
>u)ijccl of on upero, hy .Apuslolo Zcno, tfttO. In England, Hciiidawc, on Um 
iSlhnf December, (599, Icntla llircc iKiundn to Dekkct, Chcltic nnd llniighion 
fur their " Plciuoni GomoJIc of Patient (iriuil," prtnted in 1603. rcjirinied by 
the Sliukcspenre Society, iS4i. The Enelixh nuihort drew icverKl hints from 
the French |>la}', but ihctn is the beit written on the mbject (partK of Julia, 
tben-itty titter of (he MHiqiiit, of Laiircu, the |>oor ttudenl, bnnhero/GriKliUi 
u piuud ai iihc i» bumble, Sk,). 



exaggerated descriptions were just what went to the 
very heart ; people wept over them in the fourteenth 
ceniur)' as over ClarU^a in the eighteenth. Petrarch, 
writing to Boccaccio about Griselda, uses almost the «ame 
terms as Lady Bradshaigh, writing to Richardson about 
' Clarissa : 

*' Had you seen me, I surely should have moved your , 
pity. When alone, in agonies would 1 lay down the IxxjIcj 
take it up agni'n, walk about the room, let fall a flood of 
tears, wipe my eyes, read again — perhaps not three lines — 
throw away the book, crying out; 'Excuse mc, good Mr. 
Richardson, 1 cannot go on ; it is your fault, you have done 
more than I can bear' " » 

I made "one of our mutual friends from Padua," writes 
Petrarch, " a man of elevated mind and vast learning, read 
this story. He had hardly got half through, when sud- 
denly he stopped, choking with tears ; a moment after, 
having composed hiinself, he took up the narrative once 
more to continue reading, and, behold, a second time sobs 
stopped his utterance. He declared it was impossible for him 
to continue, and he made a person of much instruction, who 
accompanied him, finish the reading." About that time, in 
all probability, Petrarch, who, as we see in the same letter, 
liked to renew the experience, gave the English poet and 
negotiator, who had come to visit htm in his retreat, 
this tale to read, and Chaucer, for that very reason 
less free than with most of his other stories, scarcely 
altered anything in Petrarch's text. With him as with 
his model, Griselda is Patience, nothing more ; every- 
thing is sacrificed to that virtue ; Griselda is neither woman 
nor mother ; she is only the patient spouse. Patience 
made wife. They take her daughter from her, to be 

* Lady Bcatiahaiith lu Kichanjuon. Januaiy ll. 1749- " Cofresponilence 
of Simncl RichMdaon," cd' Bulnuld, Londao, iSoi, t voU. lamo, vol. It. 
p. 140. 



killed, as they tell her, by order of the marquis. So b« 
it, replies Griselda : 

"Crtlh now,"<|iirtd »he, "and dootli my lQidemh<«ta| 

Bill Q ihing wil I pr<yc yow <>ryuu( |[ia«c, 

Thnl, liul my Inrd fortxui yow. «tc Ime, 

Burifth ihii litcl biHly in koih pboc. 

Thai hwtri n< no liri(I4«< ii to-rnee." 

But he no tvi-ird vvol lo ituil puipus seye, 

Bill Uwk the chiUl and nrenic upon liu wc)«.' 

Whereupon every one goes into ecstasies, and Is ^eatly 
Htfectecl. The idea of entreating her husband, of throwing 
herself at his feet, uf trying to move him, never enters her 
mind ; she would no longer be playing her part, which is 
not to be a mother, but to be: Falience. 

Chaucer left his collection of tales uncompleted ; wc 
have less than the half of it ; but he wrote enough to show 
to the best his manifold ijualitics. There appear in perfect 
light his masterly gifts of observation, of comprehension, 
and of syinpatliy ; we well see with what art he can make 
his characters stand forth, and how skilfully they are 
chosen to represent all contemporaneous Kngland. The 
poet shows himself full of heart, and at the same time full 
of sense ; he is not without suspicion that his pious 
stories, indii^pcnsablc to render his picture complete, may 
"oflTcnd by their monotony and exaggerated good senti- 
ments. In giving them place in his collection, he belongs 
to his time and helps to make it known ; but a few mock- 
ing notes, scattered here and there, show that he i« superior 
to his epoch, and that, in spite of his long dissertations and 
his digressions, he has. what was rare at that period, a 
certain notion, at least theoretical, of the importance ol 
proportion. He allows his heroes to speak, but he is not 
their dupe ; in fact he is so little their dupe that some- 
times he can stand their talk no longer, and interrupts 

' " Complde Wotks,"" vol. hi. p. 568. 



them or laughs at them to their very Tace. He laughs In 
the face of the tiresome Constance, on the night of her 
wedding; he shov;a us his companions riding drowsily on 
their horses tn the sound of the monk's solemn stories, and 
hardly preserved from actual slumber by the noise of the 
horse's bells. He allow:^ the host abruptly to interrupt 
him when, to satirise the romances of chivalry, he relates, 
in "rym doj^ercl," the feats of arms and marvellous adven- 
tures of the matchless Sir Thopas." Before we could even 
murmur the word " improbable," he warns us that the time 
of Griseldas ha>! passed, and that thore exist nn more such 
women in our day. As the pilgrims draw near Canterbury, 
and it becomes seemly to finish on a graver note, he 
causes his poor par-on to speak, and the priest announces 
beforehand that his discourse will be a sermon, a real 
sermon, with a text from Scripture : " Incipit sermo," says 
one of the manuscripts. He will speak in prose, as in 
church : 

Whjr »hoMo I sowen dnif out of iiiy fnt, 
\Vlun I Dwy sowcn wheic If that me Inc? 

All agree, and It is with the as&cnt of his companions, who 
become more serious as they approach the holy city, that 
he commences, for the good of their souls, his ample 
"meditation." The coarse slory told by the miller had 
been justified by cxcu'ics no less appropriate to the person 
and to the circumstances ; the person was a chmii, and 
chanced to be dmnk ; now the person is a saint, and. as it 
happens, they are just Hearing the place of pilgrimage. 

The good sense which caused the poet to write his 
" Canterbury Talcs " according to a plan so conformable to 

' Li*teth, lordcf, in good cnleol, 
AnO I wnl ictlc verraj'incnt 
ur lULtihc and of solav, tLZ. 

Th« euiealure of the populnr hvioic uotui of ihe day ii exUemv)/ doM (te« 
Wow, p, 347}. 


reason and to nature, is one of the most eminent of 
Chaucer's qualities. It reveals itself in ttie details as in 
the whole scheme, and inspires him, in the midst of Tiis 
most fanciful Inventions, with reassuring remarks which 
show that earth and real life are not far away, and that we 
arc not in danger of falling from the clouds. He reminds 
us at an opportune moment tliat there is a certain nobility, 
the highest of all, which cannot be bequeathed in a will ; 
that the corrupt specimens of a social class should not 
cause the whole class to be condemned : 

Of every oidre Kun threwe b, porde ;■ 

that, in the education of children, parents should be care- 
ful not to treat them too soon as men ; if one takes them 
to merry-makings before time, they become "to sonc r)'pe 
and bold, . . . which is ful perilous." He expresses him- 
self very freely about great captains, each of whom would 
have been called "an outlawe or a theef" had they done 
less harm.' This last idea is put forth in a few lines of a 
humour so truly English that it is impossible not to think 
of Swift and Ficldiny ; and, indeed. Fielding can the more 
appropriately be named here as he has devoted all his 
novel of " Jonathan Wild tlie Great " to the expounding of 
exactly the same thesis. 

Finally, we owe to this same common sense of Chaucer's 
a thing more remarkable yet : namely, that with his know- 

' Tale of the Cunon'i Vcoman, I. 995. 

• . , . For the tyrmi l» of greller Tnighl, 
By f^roe u( mcynec (oi tc slecn doun lighi, 
Aod lircnricn houH und liutiiii . uml make al pt&in, 
Lo I Utcrfor ia tic clr[)cd a capiMin ; 
And. for the uuikwc hnth bui Kmnl meyncc. 
And mftjr not doon 10 grtwi &n honn m he, 
Nc briai;c ■ oonitcc lu »> pcct mcscKevI, 
Men clcpen tiJDi an oulliwc or a thccf. 

(Maund [lie's ulc, in •' Compile Wofk»." Iv. p. 561I.) 



ledge of Latin and of French, and living in a circle where 
those two languages were in great favour, he wrote solely 
in English. His prose, like his verse, his " Treatise on the 
Astrolabe " like his tales, are in English. I le belongs to the 
English nation, and that is why he writes in that langu^e ; 
a reason of thai sort is sufficient for him : *' to thee 
thisc trcwc conclusiouns in English, as wel as suffyseth to 
Chisc noble clerkcs Grekes thlse same conclusiouns in 
Greek, and to Arabians in Arabik. and to Jcwes in Ebrew. 
and to the Latin folk in Lalin." Chaucer, then, will make 
use of plain English. " naked wordcs in English " ; he will 
cniploj' the national language, the king's English — " the 
king ihat is lord of this langage." ' And he will use it, as 
in truth he did, to express exactly bis thoughts and not 
to embellish them; he hates travesty, he worships truth; 
he wants words and things to be in the closest possible 
relation ; 

The wt^nlct male be ca*in to tlic dede.* 

The same wisdom is again ihc cause why Chaucer does 
not s|«:nd himself in vain cfTorts to attempt imjjossibic 
reforms, and to go against the current It has been made 
a subject of reproach to him in our day ; and sonic, from 
love of the Saxon past, have been indignant at the number 
of French words Chaucer uses ; why did he not go 
back to the origins of the language ? But Chaucer was not 
one of those who, as Milton says, think " to pound up the 
crows by shutting their park gates;" he employed the 
national tongue, as it existed in his day ; the proportion 
of French words is not greater with him than with the 
mass of his contemporaries, The words he made use of 
were living and fruitful, since they arc still alive, they 
and their families ; the pn)portion of those that have 
di^ppeared is wonderfully small, seeing the time Ihat has 

* "ATiMtiMon Ihc Attrolnbe" in "Camplelc Works," vol. Ill, p. 17^ 

• '• Cenml Prologue," 1. 742. 




elapsed. As to the Anglo-Saxons, he retained, as did 
llic nation, but without being aware of it, something of 
their gra-.e and powerful genius; it is not his fault if be 
ignored the^e anwstors ; every one in his day ignored them, 
even such thinkers as Langland, in whom lived again 
with most force the spirit of the ancient Germanic race 
The tradition was brriken ; in the literary past one went 
back to the Conquest, and thence without transition to 
" thise olde gentil Britons." In his enumeration of cele> 
brated bards, Chaucer gives a place to Orpheus, to Orion, 
and to the '" Rrct Gla^curion " ; but no author of any 
" Heowulf " is named by him. Shakespeare, in the same 
manner, will derive inspiration from the national past ; he 
will go back to the time of the Ro.scs, to the rime of the 
Plantagencts. to the time of Magna Charta. and, passing 
over the Anglo-Saxon period, he will take from the Britons 
the stories of Lear and of Cymbelinc. 

The brilliancy with which Chaucer used this new tongue, 
the instant fame of his wurks, the clear proof afforded by his 
writings that Knglish could fit the highest and the lowest 
themes, assured to that idiom its definitive place among the 
great literary languages. English still had, in Chaucer's 
day, a tendency to resolve itself into dialects; as, in the 
lime of the Conquest, the kingdom had still a tendency to 
resolve itself into sub-kingdoms. Chaucer kpcw this, and 
wajt concerned about it ; he was anxious about those 
differences of tongue, of orthography, and of vocabulary ; 
he did all in his power to regularise these discordances ; he 
had set ideas on the subject ; and, what was rare in those 
days, the whims of copyists made him shudder. Nothing 
shows better the faith he had in the English tongue, as 
a literary- language, than his reiterated injunctions to the 
readers and scribes who shall read his poems aloud or copy 
them. He experiences already, concerning his work, the- 
anxieties of the poets of the Renaissance : 


And for ihcr it so crocl (li*«)iiCG 
In En^li^h, uid in writing 0(0111 longit. 
So preyc I Gn<1, l)iai tioan inUwrfle thee, 
\e tliec ttij-tincite lur defiuie of ion|{«, 

And red whcr'su (bnu lit, Oi dUm lOngc, 

Tb&t t1ii>u ttc uiiilctsluiide I Gixl bocchc ! ' 

Chancer himself looked over the transcriptions done 
from Iiis oriiiinal manuscripts by his amanuensis Adam ; 
he corrected with minute care every fault ; he calls down 
all manner of woe upon the "scrivcyn's" head, if, copy- 
ing once more " Boece " or " Troilus," he leaves as many 
errors again.' We seem to hear Ronsard himself addressing 
his supplications to tlie reader: "1 implore of you one 
thing only, reader, to pronounce well my verses and suit 
3four voice to their passion . . . and I implore you again, 
where yii\x will see this siyn : (!) to raise your voice a little, 
to give grace to what you read." 3 

Chaucer's cITorts were notcxerciscd in vain ; they assisted 
the work of c<in central ion. Aficr him, the dialects lost 
their importance ; the one he used, the East Midland 
dialect, has since become the language of the nation. 

His verse, too, is the verse of the new literature, formed 
by a compromise between the old and the new prosody. 
Alliteration, which is not yet dead, and which is still used 
in his time, he does not like ; its jingle seems to him 
ridiculous : 

I cMi lul gale— (uii, rami rvf— by IctUc* 

' "Troiliw," Book v. et. J57. 

» " Chaucci'i worJet unio Aclom, hUowne Scriveyn," in " Complete Wocli*," 
*ol, i. p. 379. 

* "Je Ic sujjplifay sculemcnl d'tuie dioac, lecicur, ile «ouloir liicn pro- 
finn^rr mn vr«i ci ncrimiiKlct la vaix & leui (ttuian . ■ . cl Je tp suji|i1ie 
eiunr« d« lechuf, uii lu vvrnu rcite aiiin|ut! : < !) vuuloir un peu e(lev<r la ^ttix 
pour donnci |p^i.-« k cc ipio lu lirns. " I'lt-Ein* o( th« " Francindc* 

* So aajn the Parson, who lulitx '. 

Ke, God wui, rym holcle I but litcl bcitre. 

Panun'i ProlUKiic, 1. 43. Il will be obxerrcd titai irhik naming limply 
ib^nie, be tttriiaturti ftlliieraiion. 



Ridiculous, too, in his eyes is the " rym dogerel " of the 
popular romances of which " Sir Thopas " is the type. 
His verse is the rhymed verse, with a fixed number of 
accents or beats, and a variable number of syllables. Nearly 
all the " Talcs " are written in heroic verse, rhyming two 
by Iwo in coiiplet;; and containing five accentuated syllables. 

The same cheerful, tranquil contmon sense which made 
him adopt the language of his country and the usual versi- 
fication, which prevented him from reacting with excess 
against received ideas, also prevented his harbouring out of 
patriolisin, piety, or pride, any illusions about his country, 
his religion, or his time. He belonged to thet.i, however, 
as much as any one, and loved and honoured them more 
than anybody. Still the impartiality of judgment of this 
former prisoner of the French is wonderful, superior even 
to Froissart's, who, the native of a border-country, was by 
birth impartial, but who, as age crept on, showed to the 
revision of his " Chronicles " decided preferences. Towards 
■the close of the century Froissart, like the Limousin and 
the Saintongc, ranked among the conquests recovered by 
France. Chaucer, from the beginning to the end of his 
career, continues the same, and the fact is ail the more 
remarkable because his turn of mind, his inspiration and 
his literary ideal, become more and more English as he 
grows older. He remains impartial, or, rather, outside the 
great dispute, in which, however, he had actually taken 
part ; his works do not contain a single line directed 
against France, nor even any praise of his country in 
which it is extolled as the successful rival of its neighbour. 

For this cause Des Champs, a great enemy of the Eng- 
lish, who had not only ravaged the kingdom in general 
but burnt down his own private country house, made an 
exception in his hatred, and did homage to the wisdom 
and genius of the " noble Geoffrey Chaucer," the ornament 
of the " kingdom of Eneas," Fngland. 



The composition of the "Canterbury Tales" occupied 
the last years of Chaucer's Hie. During the same period he 
also wrote his " Treatise on the Astrolabe " in prose, for 
the instruction of his son Lewis,' and a few detached 
poems, melancholy pieces in which he talks of shunning 
the world and the crowd, asks the prince to help him in 
his poverty, retreats into his inner self, and becomes graver 
and more and more resigned : 

Fie Ivi the ptccs. anJ dwclle with tothfailneaM, 
Suff/ce iimo ilij i;oi>ii, ihouf{h hii be unwJ. ... 
Foiih, pilpim, fnnh I Turth, bmcoiit of ihy tliU t . . . 
Hold the hyc wiy. wnyul thy gext thcc Iwio; 
And ifoiiib &h&l i1«liv<re, hil ii a(t drc'le.' 

In spite of this melancholy, he was at that time the un* 
contested king of English letters ; a life-long friendship 
bound him to Gower^; the young i>oets, Hoccievc, 
Scc^an, Lydgatc, came to him and proclaimed him iha'r 
master. His face, the features of which are known to U9, 
thanks to the portrait we owe to Hocclcve, had gained an 
expression of fjentle gravity ; he liked better to listen than 
to talk, and, in the " Canterbury Tales," the host rallies him 
on bis pensive air and downcast eyes ; 

" WTiol man urtnw?" qtioci he ; 
" Thciu loIcMi u ihi.w wuldt^u findc ftii l)ur«. 
For vv«r up-in Ibr grounrl I ere ihrc tlBTe." 

■ I}9I, in "Cumplete Woikt," vol. ill. On that oth«r. fiesrlitt wn of 
Chaucer, 'niomu, mc iii4., vol. i. p. jilvjii. . wii] iilM>vr, p. i;j. 

• "Trutli," or " Baladc dc bon Conscjl," in " Complete Worku," vol. t. p. 
390. Bdonf^ng to the Btmc penod 1 " Lak vf Sii^llasincMc" (advice to tlw 
kine hirnidf) ; " L'Envujr «le Oiaucn i Scogan " ; ■' L'Envoy tic Cliaucer k 
Bukttm." on man-iage, with wi ullusion to the Wife of Baih; "The Com- 
ple^i cf Vpnus" ; "The Conipleini of Cl]iiucer to hift empty purw,"ftc, 
all in voli. of " Complete Works." 

* II hu liccn aid, but withaut tufficjeni ouik, thai thi* bicmUhip cwnc l« 
an cndxinic time befote Ihc death of Chaucct. 



Age had bestowed on him a corpulency which made him 
a match for Hariy Bailey hiniseir.' 

When Henry IV. mounted the throne, within the four 
day*i that followed his accession, he doubled the pen!»ion of 
the poet (Oct. 3, 1399). who then hired, for two pounds 
thirteen shilling^ and four pence ayear.a house in the garden 
of St. Mary's, Westminster. The lease is still preserved in 
the archives of the Abbey.' He passed away in the follow- 
ing year, in that tranquil retreat, and was interred at West- 
minster, not far from the sepulchres where slept his patrons, 
Edward III. and Richard II., in that wing of the transept 
which has since been called the I'ncts' Comer, where lately 
wc saw Browning's coDin lowered, and where, but yesterday, 
Tennyson's wa.s laid. 

No English poet enjoyed a fame more constantly equal 
to itself. In the fifteenth centurj- writers did 8ca.rcely 
anything but lament and copy him : " Maister deere," said 

tnaistffr deer* and fndii reverrnl. 

Mi niaislcr (rhftucet, tliMir of elix^icnce, 
Mtrout of fnictUOTis entcndemcnt, 

O uitivcnal bdir of science, 

Allat (lifet thou thyn eKcelltni pruilenoe 

111 (hi bed inortol mighiist nogln byquethel> ' 

At the time of the Rcnais-iancc Caxton printed his 
works twice,* and Henry VIII. made an exception in their 
favour in his prohibition of " printed bikes, printed balades. 

* He in the wust la shape u wel u I. 

(frologue to Sir ThopUL} 

* To he Keen (1894) under glou in the Chiipier House. 
' " Uoccleve's Works," cd. >'umirall. E.E.T.S. . i8g2. vol. i. p. xit. 

* On»ab. 147S, rbe oihrT a\>. 14^ : thU last i<i illuHiraied. ;ie« in " EnglUh 
Novel in Ihc Kin« of Shatter pen ic.'' p. 45, « f«Mimile nf ilic wooilcul repre* 
Knting the pilgrimi >cated at the taUc of the 'I'aUud inn. 



, . and other fantasies." ' Under Elizabeth. Thynnc an- 
notated them,' Spenser declared that lie" of Tityrus," that 
is nf Chaucer, "his songs did lere," 3 and Sidney* exalted 
him to the slcies.4 In the seventeenth century Drj-den 
rejuvenates his tales: in the ciyhteeiith century the 
admiratiuti is univer-sal. and extends to I'opc and Walpole.' 
In our time the learned men of all countries have applied 
themselves to the task of commentating his works and of 
disentangling his biography; a Society has been founded 
to publish the best texts of his writings,^ and but lately 
his "Legend of Good Women" inspired with an exquisite 
poem the Laureate who sleeps to-day close lo the great 
ancestor, beneath the stones of the famous Abbey. 

' *' AnimodveraKint uppoo the Aonuiacioiu lunlcorTectiomof wme impcrfcc- 
tJcnuaf itnpreuionoaf Ch>iic«n workn ..." by ^'rancU Tbynnc, cd. FuminD 
and Kiii^^ir)'. C-haoL-ct Suticty. 187&, [>. xiv. 

• UtJ. 

• "Shrphcutt'itCilGniler." DMcmber. , 

• •' Of whom, tnilj' I knflw no!, whether t* mcTTailc mocc, «iher that he b 
lh>t mbiie lime i-vuU sec so gIl-uiI)', oi tliat wee in thin clcu« a£c wvlkc to 
■tumbUngly I'icr him." " Apologie fi>i Poelrie," cd. Arbct. p. 61. 

I The cubjort of Chaucw't foine U ttcnled at great length in l.onivfbuty't 
" SlU4lie< in Chaucer, hix \iie and wHtinp," London, 1893, % volt. Svo, VoL iii. 
ch. rii.i "ChiucCT in Lilcraty VVnlmy." 

*Thc ChiiuL-ci Society, Ibuni.lcd by Dt. Fuiiiivall, which hnt pubUiihcd amonc 
other ihint;»: lJi«"SU-icxt edititjo of ihc Cnniprbiity Tales"; wine '* Ijfo 
Rp(nH(^«( t!hau«f " : warloiB " Eiiuy*" on i[u»tiuiit L-onceinlng tlae poet'i 
woiks ; acoUsclioo of" Originals and AnnlogH:"* " illiiBlniriweof the "Caatcc- 
liucy Talca," &c. Among nivtcrn iriUito paid tu Chaucei may b« «<]d«l 
Wurdtworlh't mode mi.vit inn ai pirt of " Tcuiliu " (Juhn Morlcy'i cJ.,p. 165), 
anti Lomtl'i admiiable csMy in bts " Smdy WindiDWi." 



The nation was young, virile, and productive. Around 
Chaucer was a whole swarm of poets ; he towers above 
them as an oak towers above a coppice ; but the oak is not 
isolated like the great trees ttiai arc ^mctimcs seen beneath 
the sun, alone in the midst of an open country. Chaucer is 
without peer but not without companions; and, among 
those companions, one at least deser\-es to be ranked very 
near him. 

He has companions of all kinds, nearly as diverse as 
thwe with whom he had associated on the road to Canter- 
bury. Some arc continualors of the old style, and others 
are reformers ; some there arc. filled with the dreamy spirit 
of the Anglo-Saxons; there arc others who care little for 
dreams and thcoric^i, who arc of the world, and will not 
leave the earth ; some who sing, otliers who hum, others 
who talk. Certain poems arc like clarions, and celebrate 
the battle of Crccy, of which Chaucer had not spoken ; 
others resemble lovers' serenades ; others a dii^e for the 

The old styles are continued ; the itinerant poets, jug- 
glers, and. minstrels have not dtsap|>carcd ; on the con- 
trary, they arc more numerous than ever. " Merry 




England " favours them ; they continue to play, as under 
the first Atigevins,' a very considerable and multiple part, 
which it is difficult to estimate. Those people, with their 
vast memory, arc like perambulating libraries ; they instruct, 
they amuse, they edify. Passing from county to county, 
hawking news, composing satirical songs, they fill also 
the place of a daily gascttc ; they represent public opinion, 
sometimes create it, and often distort it; they are living 
newspapers ; they furnish their auditors with information 
about the misdeeds of the Government, which, from time to 
time, seizes the most talkative, and imprisons them to keep 
them fiilent. The king has minstrels in his service; they 
are great personages in their way, pensioned by the prince 
and despising the others. The nobles also keep some in 
their pay, which does not prevent their welcoming those 
who pass ; they feast them when they have sung well, and 
give them furred robes and money." 

They continue to prosper in tlie following century. We 
see at that time the king of England's minstrels, people 
clever and of good instruction, protesting against the 
increasing audacity of sham minstrels, whose ignorance 
casts discicdit on the profession. " Uncultured peasants," 
says the king in a vengeful statute, "and workmen of 
diflcrent kinds in our kingdom of England . , . have given 
themselves out to be our own minstrels." 3 Without any 

■ Sec above, p. i6j, 

* Acainii ihote pnictict^ l^nglnad sircirigly proieita In hb " Vbioos," [cjtt 
C X. J33 ; Kvi. 100. Set fiillawicig Cluptcf. 

> Rymet, " Fcedera," April 34, 1469. The cluHC iMUnment of the 
1011111/11 HBt Uic ricUc or viol, a nurt of vinlin, tvhich nnly Itue arult knew 
ho* m u«e well (one ii re|>toduccd in " Eoi[li»h Wa>Taiiiig Life." p. k«). 
Therefore ntuiy mintitreU vdily rrplKMtl ihin diflicull ineiruuient by ibe 
eoramon Ubor, which tulBced to rnark the eiKlenc« of Ihclr chosiK. Many 
ether nuMcal inMnimeiiU were knpwn in the Middle Ages i > litc of them 
Ilia been drawn upbj H. Lavoii : " I^ Miitiquesu tempi dc Si. Loui»," in 
G. Raynaud's " Recueildes nnHeUfnuifiis dctXII* el XIII* Sitelet," vol. ii. 
p. 311. 




experience or understanding of the art, they go from place 
to place on festival days, and gather all the money that 
should have enriched the true artists, those who really 
devote themselves to their profession and ply no manual 
craft Vain efforts ; decline was imminent ; minstrels were 
not to recover their former standing. The Renaissance and 
the Reformation came ; and, owing to the printing-press, 
gay scavoir found other means of spreading through the 
country. In the sixteenth century, it is true, minstrels still 
abound, but they arc held in contempt - right-minded 
people, like Philip Stubbes. have no terms strong enough 
to qualify " suche drunlten sockets and bawdye parasits as 
range the cuntrcycs, ryming and singing of unclcanc, 
corrupt, and 5lthic songcs in tavcrncs, ale-houses, innes, 
and other publique assemblies. . . . Every towne, citie, 
and countrcy is full of these minstrellcs to pypc up a dance 
to the devill ; but of dyvines, so few there be as they maye 
irdly be seene." ' 

Before this awful time comes for them, however, the 
minstrels thrive under the last Piantagcnets. Their bill is 
a varied one, and includes the be^t and the wor^t ; they 
sometimes recite the " Troilus " of Chaucer," and sometimes 
the ancient romances of chivalry, altered, spoiled, shorn of 
all their poetry. Chaucer had ridiculed these versions of 
the old heroic stories, written in tripping verses, but in vain. 
Throughout his life, after as well as before " Sir Thopas," 
he could wonder snd laugh at the success of stories, com- 
posed in the very .style of his own burlesque poem, about 
heroes who, being all peerless, are necessarily all alike : one 

■ " Aiutotnr of Abu*ct," ed. FuniivaU, London, i8;7-79, S*i>, pp. I?!, 

* Chaiicef binuctf rxpcclcd his poem to be aald oi t»tfg; be tt)v lo hb 

And led wh«t-M (hou be, or ellet tonge t 
That thou \k uDdcnionde. I OoiJ bcscche I 

(Book V. It. 257.) 



is " atalworthe and wyghtc." another " hardy and wyght," 
a third also " hardy and wj-ght " ; and the fourth, fifth, 
and hundredth arc equally brave and invincible They 
are called fsumbras, Eglamour, Degrevant " ; but they 
differ in their names and in nothing more The booksellers 
of the Renaissance who printed their hbtories could make 
the same woodcut on the cover serve for all their portraits. 
By merely altering the name beneath, they changed all 
there was to change ; one and the same block did duty in 
turn for Romulus or Robert the DeviP Specimens of this 
facile art swarm indcfinilely ; they are scattered over the 
country, penetrate into hamlets, find their way into cot- 
tages, and make the people acquainted with the doughty 
deeds of Eglamour and Roland. We now find ourselves 
really in the copse. 

In the middle of the copse are trees of finer growth. 
Some among the poets, while conforming to the old style, 
improve upon their models as they proceed ; they add an 
original note of their own, and on that account deserve to 


I "ThcThomifln Romance*," cd. IlalllvreU (Camden Society, 1844. pp. SS. 

I 121. 177), from a MS. ptacrrcil in the cathedral or Lincoln, that cnntaiiu 

locnanMs, iecip«t. prayeif, &c-, cofne] in the tint half of the Grieenth ceniury, 
on more >nc>Rnl («xt». S«« note* mi many ximitiir romincM ioWwil'* "C*U- 
logue of Mlii. Komuico." iSSj, rol. i. pp. 760 iT. 

* Sec in " F.nEtiah Nuvcl in the Time of Shakcipcarc," pp. 57 and 65, 
ftolmilcs or woodcut! vhich served abtrut 1510 and 1360 la rcpn;i«ni. Die 
fint, RomuliM, Kobtrt the Devil, &c., the second, Guy of Wanvid, Gnund 
JUbobt«, »nd lh« "Squyi of Lowe Degrc." 

I •rille fym IcHe of ■ knyghte 

TllAI bollic w>a italwoittie mid wy^hle. 

V Kcbtlle (elle yow of ■ ItDrcht 
That mu Ixiihc hardy and *ighl. 

And y schalle Iwippe off ■ kny^hi 
Thai ttat both h4idy and tryglii. 



be listened to. Far above those empty, tripping metrical 
stories, and sLperior even to " Morte Arthure " and to 
"William of Palcrnc,"» written in English verse at the 
time of ChaLcer, ranks " Sir Gawaync and the Green 
Knight," » being incomparably the best specimen of the 
style. Instead of puppets witli jerky movements, and 
wooden joints that we hear crack, the English poet shows 
in this work real men and women, with supple limbs and 
red lips ; elegant, graceful, and charming to behold. 
These knights and ladies in their well-fitting armour or 
their tight dresses, whom we see stretched in churches on 
their fourteenth -century tocnbs, have come back to life 
once more ; and now they move, they gaze on each other, 
they love again. 

On Christmas day, in presence of Arthur and his 
whole Court, Sir Gawayne cuts off the head of the Green 
Knight. This giant knight is doubtless an enchanter, for 
he stoops, picks up hts head, and, remounting his horse, 
bids Sir Gawaync meet him a year hence at the Green 
Chapel, where he will give him blow for blow. 

The year passes. Gawajtic leaves the Court with his 
horse "Gringolct." and without quitting England, rides 

' Both published by the Eiily EjiKli-ih Teit Society : " Muitc AilliuK," ed. 
Biock, iS^t ; " William of }'alcrnc." cd Skcsl, 1867. Both uc in illiicrr«tivc 
verv:: the unx cnrnpoiicE] aboiil the end. and lbs Mccmd about the tniddlc, 
of the Tanrteenlh ecniury. 

* The unique MS. of thin poem » in the Britiah Museum! Cotlon, Nero 
A la It !s of itnall Bite, and In w good handwriting of ihc fouiiccoib ccntuqr, 
but the Ink b faded. It coniains Kimc curJout. Iboiteh doi fine, miniaiuici, 
lepreecnltng ihc Cireen Knight leaving ihe Cuiiti. hU hud in hU hsnd; 
Gawayne and hii hotteis ; Ute tcent at the GreeD Chapel : the tetutn to King 
Anhur. The Icti \ma bccu published, t-g-t ^f R- Morria: "Sit Ciw^ytic 
uid the Cicca Knight, on allitcra<ivc ronmncc poem,** London, Eiily Englnb 
T«i ijocicty, 1K64. Sva. The lUic naij^nl to the poem tiy Morris (J320-30) 
mem* to be tou tsriy : the work heloont mure ptobably to the wcond half of 
the ccDtur)'. The immediate original of the laic it not kntvwo ; ii wu, how- 
e^'cr. oatainly a French |>ociii. S<« on this subject Wartl, " Cstnluguc of 
Roinanccst" iSSs. p. 387. and C. huis, " Histaitc liu^miie dc la Kiaace," 

vol t(K. 



through unknown lands, having no one to speak to save 
God. He reaches the jjate of a splendid castle, and « 
welcomed by a knight of ordinary stature, under whose 
present appearance he docs not recognise his adversaiy 
the giant. Three days arc left before the date of the trynt ; 
Ihcy are spent in amusements. The knight goes daily to 
hunt ; be agrees to give all his game to his guest, who 
remains at home with the lady of the castle, the most 
beautiful woman ever seen, on condition that Gawaync. in 
his turn, will give him what he has taken during his 
absence. Every night they gaily sup in the hall ; a bright 
light bums on the walls, the servants set up wax torches, 
and serve at table. The meal is cheered by music and 
"caroles newe," » jests, and the laughter of ladies." At 
three o'clock each morning the lord of the castle rises, 
hears mass, and goes a-hunting. Gawayne is awakened 
from sleep by his hostess ; she enters his room, with easy 
and graceful niovenients,dresscd in a " mery mantj'le" and 
furred gown, trailing on the floor, but very low in the 

Hif bresic bue bifotc, and bihinde «k«. 

She goes to the window, opens it, and says, "with hir richc 
wordes " : 

A I tnoa, hou nuy ihou dnpi 
Thii aioming ii so cleret J 

She seats herself, and refuses to go. Gawayne is assailed 

> Miidi glun Bnd gle glmt ii|) th«T-tcn«, 
AbouCc the fyrc upon fl*( (n<jui) and un feic (mnnj') wysCi 
At the KJfKT and alia, niony nihcl iMngct, 
A> coundutci of Kiyxt-moue aiicl carolci ncwc. . . . 

* With merthc and aiyQ^trtlsyc, wyili luclcz si hor wyllc, 
Thay mndcn as mcrjr us utj men moghtcn 
Wilh laghyiig of bdies, with lot«i of bordcs (phy upon wordt). 

(L 1951.) 

* I 1746- 



by terrible temptations. The thought of the Green Chapel, 
fortunately, helps hitti to overcome them, and the first, 
second, and third night his fair friend finds him equally 
coy. She kisses him once, twice, thrice, and jeen; at him 
for forgetting each day what she had taught him on the 
previous one, namely, to kiss. When the hunter returns 
in the evening, Gawayne gives him the kisses he has 
received in exchange for the spoils of the chase: a buck, 
a boar, antl a fox. He had, however, accepted besides a 
marvellous belt, which protected the wearer from all 
danger, but he says nothing about this, and puts it on : 
" Aux grands cceurs donnez quelqiies faiblesscs," our 
author obviously thinks, with Boileau. 

On the fourth day Gawayne starts with a guide, and 
reaches the Green Chapel ; the Green Giant is there, 
ready to give him back ihe blow received a year before. 
Gawayne stoops his head under the dreadful axe, and just 
as it falls cannot help bending his shoulders a Uttla Vou 
are not that Gawayne, says the giant, held in such high 
esteem. At this, Arthur's knight straightens himself; 
the eitint lifts his axe again and strikes, but only infiicts a 
slight wound, All is now explained : for the kisses 
Gawayne should have received mortal blows, but he gave 
them back ; he kept the belt, however, and this is why he 
will bear through life a scar on his neck. Vexed, he throws 
away the belt, but the giant returns it to him, and consoles 
him by admitting that the trial was a superhuman one, 
that he himself is Bernlak dc Haut-D^sert, and that his 
guest has been the sport of " Morgan the fairy," the com- 
panion of his hostess : 

Thtirgh in>'ght of Murgite la Faje thnt In mj hoia Itngcs {dwcDi^ 

Gawayne declares that should he ever be tempted 
pride, he need onl^' look at the belt, and the temptation 




will vanish. He rejoins Arthur and his peers, and tells 
his adventures, which afford food both for laughter and for 

The poem is anonymous. The same manuscript con- 
tains anothLT, on a totally different subject, which seems to 
be by the same author. This poem has been called " The 
Pearl;"" it is a song of mourning. It must have been 
written .wme time after the sad event which it records, 
when the bitterness of sorrow had softened. The land> 
scape is bathed in sunlight, the hues are wonderfully 
bright The poet has lost his daughter, his pearl, who is 
dead ; his pearl has fallen in the gra^:^, and he has been 
unable to find it ; he cannot tear himself away from the 
spot where she had been. He entered in that arbour 
green ; it was August, that sunny season, when the corn 
has just fallen under the sickle ; there the pearl bad 
" trcndeled doun " amonp the glittering, richly-coloured 
plants, gilly-flovvers, gromwell seed, and peonies, splendid 
in their hues, sweeter in their smelL* He sees a forest, 

' " Pearl, an Knglish r'ocm of the Fourteenth Centmjr, cijited widi mixicTn 
rmdcring by Isratl Gulltmoc," London, 1891, Sro. T^c poem is wniiea in 
■buiui [fi h 9 6 a ti a b h c b t)\ ihc AulhorcmptoyiboihrtiyiiKandallileniiion. 
"Pearl" belongs ap()3fcmiy. like "Sir (iawayne." and wme other poemion 
leligiouE subje^Ii, caatained in the »m« MS., to the liccand hntr of tha 
fvurteeoth tcutiuy ; theic aic, huwT*err <]vubl* and (Ukiubiimu oonccroiilg 
the due. Some coiiacly pointed miniaiuics. by nu iiicanii conaponding lo 
the paccfulntwt ni ihe poem, lepreicni the chief tnddcnlR of '■ Pe«E ; " Ihey 
ue by the uine baud oi llitui- uf " Kii Uawayiie." See llie cepfoducMon of 
eoe of ihem in " Pien I'lownun. a <«niribution (0 (li« Hisiovy of Znt^lidt 
Mytiicisin," London, iSy^, S«i, p. la. 

■ I enired in ihai crbor grono. 

In Au|;cstc in a hygh Hcysoun, 

Qucn come it corveit with crokcz kcne t 

On huylc thcr i>cile it ticndcled Joan : 

Scludowcd lhi« worm {pL3ini&) full Kbyte and ichene, 

Gilolte. |[yii|iu(e and grumylyoun. 

And pyony^ powdrted ay belwcne. 

Yif hit waci Kuily ou 10 acne, 

A layne Unyr yd fro hit floi. (Si. 4.) 



rock<t that glisten in the sun, banks of crysital ; birds sing 
in the branches, and neither cistern nor guitar ever made 
sweeter musla The sound of waters, too, is heard ; a 
brook glides over pebbles shining like the stars in a 
winter's night, at the hour when the wcar>' sleep.' 

So great is the beauty of the place that the father's grief 
is soothed, and he has a mar\'ellous vision. On the oppo- 
site side of the stream he sees a maiden clothed in white ; 
and as he gazes he suddenly recognises her : O pearl art 
thou in sooth my pearl, so mourned and wept for through 
80 many nights? Touching and consoling is the answer: 
Thou hast lost no pearl, and never hadst one ; that thou 
lost was but a rose, that flowered and faded ; now only 
has the rose become a pearl for ever." The father follows 
his child to where a glimpse can be caught of the Celestial 
City, with its flowers and jewels, the mystic lamb, and the 
procession of the elect ; it seems as if the poet were 
describing beforehand, figure by figure, Van Eyck's paint- 
ing at St Bavon of Ghent 


An immense copse surrounds the oak. About Chaucer 
swarm innumerable minstrels, anonymous poets, rhyming 
clerks, knightly ballad makcrad The fr^tle works of 

* As ttrcmande steiuM qu«D Urothe men ilcpr, 
Stftten in wrlkyn in wynici njrghi. (SL la) 


* FuE \\aX ibou IcstcB waa bol » io«c. 
Tliai flowrcd and faylcd su kynde hit gcfe. (Si. 3J.) 

> The prindpal mCleclioiu CQntminini; lyrioU watl» and popular halhils of 
Uul period ore : " Ancient Sonj;i aiiJ Hatlaiti frum iKc ivi^ of Henty II. to 
U)c Rcvoluliaa," collcctcil b^ Juhu Ritnun, tcvi»cd by W. C. IlMtilt, Laodoa, 
1877, i2nio ; " SpeciE[icn» of Lyric Tocliy, compRwd in England in M\e fden 
of Kdvnud I.," ed. Th. Wriuhl, fexcy Society. 1&41, Svo : " ReliquLv 
ABtiqvK, u^npi from ancient MH'i illuscraling chiefly Harly Englith Liiera- 
lun," «d. T. Wfigbl add J. O- HuUiwcll, Lundoii^ 184I-43, ' "^i*- S*'0> 



these rhyming multitudes are for the most part lost, yet 
great quantities of them still exi^it. They are composed 
by everybody, and written in the three languages used by 
the English ; some being in French, some in English, some 
in Latin, 

The Piantagcnets were an art-loving race. Edward III. 
never thought of cost when it came to paintiii« and gilding 
the walls of St. Stephen's Chapel ; Richard II. disliked a 
want of conformity in architectural styles, and, having the 
conscience of an artist, gave an example of a rare sort in 
the Middle Ages, for he continued Westminster Abbey in 
the style of Henry 1 1 1. Members of the royal family were 
known to write verses. The hero of Poictiers inserted in 
his will a piece of poetrj* in French, requesting that the 
lines should be graven on his tomb, where they can stiil be 
read in Canterbury Cathedral : " Such as thou wast, so was 
I ; of death I never thought so long as I lived. On earth 
1 enjoyed ample wealth, and 1 used it with great splendour, 
land, houses, and treasure, clolh, horses, silver and gold ; but 
now I am poor and bereft, I lie under earth, my great beauty 
is all gone. . . . And were you to sec me now, ! do not think 
you would believe that ever I was a man." ■ 

"Pi>litieaJ Song* or England, from Che tdgn oFJohn to that of Edward II." ed. 
Th. Wrigbl, Cundcn Society, 1839, 411 1 " Soni:> iwcl Carol* tam Artl prlnled 
from* MS. of the XVth Century," cd. Th. Wiinlil. Percy Soci^iy. i&t7,3voi 
'■ PolitimI t'oenw unJ Songs, from Edward III. l« KLchard ni.."e(l.Th. 
Wright, Koll^. 1859-61, » voIb. Svo: "Pnliiiail, Religtoim and Lo«« Poeiiw," 
«d. FuinivAll, London, Early bngltih T«it Sofi«iy, 1866, livoi "Buhop 
Percy's Fnlio MS. " t-d. J. W. HjUcs ohJ F. J. Fumivull. BalUJ Society. 1867 
8vo; "The En^li^]! ind Scoiiiah Populu Balliuls,'* cd. F. J. Child, tiuniun, 
l88a ff. Useful inriiwiiitnt will he found in H. 1,. D. Waid'* *' Catalogue of 
MS. Romnncci in the Briliuli Miueum.' vol. i., 18S3. 

' Tiel come lu «)* auiie fti( 
Tu xiat til (uiiic }c -9*. 

Dc U RiDii DB pcuHtyjc mit • 

Tutit Mine j'«voy In vie. 
En icfre nvoy grand tichuce 
DoDi je r fii gntnd oulileue, 



The nobles followed suit ; they put their passions into 
verse ; but all had not sufficient skill for such delicate 
pastimes. Mary contented themselves with copying some 
of those ready-made ballads, of which professional poets 
supplied ready-made collections ; just as sermons were 
written for the benefit of obtuse parish priests, under the 
signilicant title of"DorrnL Secure"* (.Sleep in peace, to- 
morrow's sermon is ready). We find also in English 
manuscripts rubrics like the following : " Loo here be^yn- 
nethe a B.iladc whiche that l.ydegatc wrote at the request 
of a squyer y' served in Love's court."* In their most 
elegant language, with all the studied refinement of the 
flowery style, the poets, writing to order, amplified, embel- 
lished, and spoilt : " ce mot, le mot des dieux et des 
hommcs : jc t'aimc ! " Wc arc not even in the copse now, 
and we must stoop close to earth in order to sec these 
blossoms of a day. 

Tene, rncsoiu et fmiid Irunr, 

Dnpi, cUvalx, argeni et or, 

M«a CK m-ja porrra «t cbeiiiGi, 

PfTfon-d en Ik (crrc gyti, 

}iln s.^TiA bcanti cat (out ol^ . . , 

£l si nre wc vcltaci, 

Je ikcquldc patqc vamiet'iKt 

Qc j'ciiuc ua[|K horn ett^. 

(Stanley, " HittorioJ Memorial* of Canterbarf.") 

' Compiled in Fran>;e in ij^j- Lccoyt^c la Mocche, "U Cbaire littDfiiie 
■0 moycn ige," anci cd., I'lim, i88b, Svo, p. J34. 

• MS. B- iii. 2a, in ilic Liliiaty of Trinity College, Camb[id|;e, H. J3. lo 
the tune MS. : " A toundcll made ... by my loidc ihcrllc oCSuflbJk " : 

Quel tlo|iliiy«ici, quel cooioui quel dcttrciac, 

Qu<l grirfs, queU nuuK timneni louveni d'urnourt. &c. (fbl 36). 

Theaothor M the ttmuui E&rl, afictwards Duke of SulfoUt. who was bnten 
Ijy Joan 0/ Arc, who mkirirrl Alice, daughter o( Tlioin&x Choucw, and ww 
bchei'iv^ id 1450. Far bdllndt tii the urne kinii, by Gower, k« below, p. 567. 
The siinc taste icigncd in h'macc : w-ithouc mcDCiotiins Charles d'Uil^wu, 
Pierre dc Brtiuveau wtilo : "' Le joyculx tcmpa p«i>e soul oil estre dccuIoh 
c|u« jc fitiuiiede plaiuni dii ei ktxcjciiwk dian^cinnctoi el btUadn." " Nou- 
vellM Fran^ouea da XIV Slide," ed. Mulud and d'Htricault, igjS, p. Jfii- 



Among men of the people, and plain citizens, as well as 
at Court, the taste for ballads and songs impnrtcd from 
France became general in the fourteenth century. In the 
streets of London, mere craftsmen could be heard singing 
French burdens: for in spite of the progress of the national 
tongue, French was not yel entirely superseded in Great 
Britain. Langtand in his Visions has London workmen 
who sing; " Dicu vous sauvc dame Emma."» Chaucer's 
good parson bears witness to the popularity of another 
song, and declares in the course of his sermon : " Wcl may 
th»t man that no good wcrke ne dooth, singe thiike newe 
Frenshc song: "Jay tout perdu mon temps et mon 
lajjjjur." * 

In imitation of what was done in the northern provinces 
1 of France, a Pui had been founded in London, that is an 
I associaticn established for the purpose of encouraging the 
\ art of tlie chanson, which awarded prizes to the authors of 
ilje best verses and the best musicsj In the fourteenth 
century the Pui of London was at the height of its pros- 
perity ; it included both foreign and Englisli merchants. 
It had been instituted so that "jolity, peace, courtesy, 
gentleness, debonairity, and love without end might be 
maintained, all good promoted, and evil prevented." These 
merchants of divers countries evidently agreed in thinking 
that music softens the mannen, and tried to extiiiguiAh 
their quarrels by songs. At the head of the Pui was a 

■ " ViHoiiB concerning Pien Plowmin," A. ProL Liej, written &b«ui 
13&3-3. Sec fulluwing Chapter. 

• ■' Panon\ Talc."— " Campleie Worki." vol. Iv, p. 5S1. 

1 " MuniineDia<iild)ia]lwLoni]lnieniis." — " LibeialbiiK. Lihcrmstiinumii 
Liber Horn," RnlU, i^^% *i- Riley. The rrgulaiions (in French) relating la 
the I'alue dravn rromihe" Liber Cuiiumuuni," compiled in 1510(141^. [I.), 
pp. ai6 S. " The poetical compditioni called puis" alablithctl in the uotlh 
of KraiicF. '*sccin to liavc given tiiic to German uiil Dutch tmiuiiun», nuchu 
ihc Maif/r Singtrt snd the Chumbtn «/ Kktloriiy C. P»ti(, •' l-iti^rslun 
Enuifoiw au nii<)«n «ge,'' poragiAph 197. To th«ce we con *AA the Englinh 
imitalJon whii:h now occupie> U>' 



"prince" surrounded by twelve " compaignouns." elected 
by the brotberhood, whose mfssion included the duly of 
pacifying the .squabblers. Each year a new prince was 
chosen and solemnly enthroned. On the appointed day 
" the old prince and his companions must go from one end 
of the hall to the other, singing ; the old prince will bear 
on his head the crown of the Pui, and have in his hand a 
gilt cup full of wine. And when they shall have gone all 
round, the old prince must give the one they have elected 
to drink, and also give him the crown, and tliat one shall 
be prince." 

To pass judgment on ^Mttsons is no trifle, and tiie deed 
is surrounded by every precaution befitting so important a 
sentence. The decision rcst^ with the old prince and the 
new, assisted by about fifteen "of the mo*t knowing among 
the companions," who are all obliged to take a solemn 
oath : " They must find which is the best song, to the best 
of their capacity, under oath that they will not fail for 
love, for hate, for favour, for promise, for neighbourhood, 
for lineage, for any tie old or new, or for any reason whatso- 
ever." Moreover, two or three judges shall be appointed 
" who are .skilled in .singing and music," to examine the 
tune of the song : " For unless it be accompanied by music, 
a written le.\t cannot be called a cfiansaii, neither can a 
ciuiustm royaU be crowned unless it be accompanied with 
the sweetness of melodious singing." The witmer is tt> 
receive the cmwn, and his composition, copied and fairly 
written out. will be posted up in the hall, under the 
prince's coat of arms : " The prince shall cause to be 
fastened under his coat of arms the song crowned on the 
day he was chosen to be the new prince, clearly written, 
and correctly, without fault" 

At one time the Pui society was nearly ruined, owing to 
the expense incurred for decking the hall. In future it 
will be more moderate: "It is agreed henceforth that the 



part or the hall where the feast of the Pui is held, be not 
hung with silk or cloth of gold, neither shall the hall itself 
be draped, but onl/ fairly garnished with green boughs, 
the Boor strewn with rushes, benches prepared, as befits 
such a feast royal j only the seat for the singers who are 
to si[ig the chansons royaUi shall be covered with cloth of 

After the competition, all dine together. Here is the 
bill of fare for the feast : " And the bill of fare is thus 
ordained; be all the companions liberally scr^x-d, the 
poorest as well as the richest, after this fashion, to wit. 
that to them be served good bread, good ale and good 
wine, and then potage and a course of strong meat, and 
after that a double roast in a dish, and cheese, and nothing 
else." Women were not admitted to these gatherings, and 
so that slanderers might not say it was for fear of quarrels, 
or worse, we are told by the society itself that it was to 
teach the members to "honour, cherish, and praise them as 
much in their absence as in their presence." 

No feast was complete in the Middle Ages without a 
proces'iion or progress through the streets; the ainu^ienient 
was ihu--; shared by the people. The members of the I'ui 
did not fail in this : " As soon as they shall have given the 
crown to the best singer, they shall mount their horses 
and ride through the town, and then accompany their new 
prince to his hostel, and there all get down, and dance 
before departing ; and drink once, and return each to his 
hostel." With its songs and music, its kind purpose, its 
crowns and green branches, this association seems like a 
peaceful and verdant corner of Arcadia in the midst of 
London City, peaceful and merry in spite of mercantile 
jealousies and international hatreds. 

This oasis is all the more charming to the sight because 
it is only an oasis. Such sentiments were too courteous 
to be \^y common. While our friends of the Pui en- 



deavour to cherish and praise women even in their absence, 
other makers of songs follow another ine(li<eval tradition 
and satirise them mcrcilcs.s]y. Triads were dedicated to 
tliem, which were nothing but slanderous litanies : 

Hrrfnr, and thfrfor, and ihorfer I ram* 
And fot to pinibc Lliu yiMf woman. 
Tker« we( tluce wjrlly, three wjrly ther «er, 
A fox, a ttyyt aiid a wcnnan. 
Thcr WM three angiy. Ihtcc anpy ihrr <i«i : 
A wtwp a weij'll and a woman.' 

So the litany continues, very different from the litany of 
the beauties of woman sung in the same period, perhaps 
by the same men. Friars, monks, and fops who adopt 
absurd fa^liions, and wear hose so tig^ht that they cannot 
stoop Tor fear of bursting them," arc, with women, the 
subjects of these satirical songs : 

Pmtc, ne monke, ne yit r1iano>an, 
Nc no nun of tcli|;ioun, 
Uylen betii vt to devocioun 

A* done thct holf ffn*, 
For summe gytrn hmm chyvaliy, 
Somiuc to lioic and nbaudcTf; 
Bot fflcn g}'vcn hatn to grcle midjr 

And logiete praycn.! 


An account follows of doinfrs, studie^i, and prayere, 
by no means edifying, and which recalls Chaucer rather 
than Si. Francis. 

' " Sonp "nd Carob now lirct printed," cd. Th. Wt%ht, Feicjr Socieiy. 

* Fix honyng of here haijti 

Kcm indinaio Inlxiruit. 

In the lame ^eoe, Urg« collun, wide ilecvca, liig ipun axe nliriMd. Th- 

Wiitrhtt "roliticnl Pocnuand Song* from ZA. III. la Ric- III.," RoUw 1JS9> 

S voU. 8to, rol. i. p. 375. 

1 '• Political Poems," iM., vol. i. p. 363. 

\ ' 




The tone becomes more elevated ; and then we have 
fopeqt songs in honour of the outlaw Robin Hood.' The 
satire ceases to be simply mocking ; the singer's laughter 
no longer cnnsoles him for abuses ; he wants refurins ; he 
chides and threatens. In his speech to the rebel peasants 
in 1381, the priest John Ball takes from a popular song 
the burden that comprises his whole theory : 

Whiui Adund-ilftiid Evc«pftii, 

Whg wiu thaime the gcnliltnui?* 

The anonymous poet makes the dumb peasant speak, 
describe his woes, and draw up a list of hia complaints. 
By way of reply, anonymous clerks compose songs, half 
English and hatf Latin, a favourite mixture- at that time, 
in which they express their horror of the rebels.' Others 
sound the praises of the English heroes of the Hundred 
Years' War. 

Contrary to what might be supposed, the number of 
these last songs is not great, and their inspiration not 
exalted. The war. as ha.'* been seen, was a royal and not 
a national one ; and it happened, moreover, that none of 

' The gmier pan or lh<He thai hiveocnnvdown to uioreof the fifteenth and 
rixMenih ecnioria; but Robin wiu vevf popubr, and hit prniw: were sung 
M «uly OS the fouftceath ceDtoi)'. The luy pftiton in LstnglBtid'* Vitivns 
confesses ibat tie ii incaiNible of chntiting the scti icet : 

Bai I ckn rjiae% of Robin tlood ' and Kandulf erle oFChMlre. 

Ed. Slee«i, letl B. v, 41M. See nhovc, p. 2»4. 

* Walnnf;luiii| " Uislotia Anglicona,'' Kollv, vol. ii. p, 31. See in Ei>);lt»b 
rnliiialure lepceseniini; AiIaih iuid Et-e, *o occupied, leproduccd in " EsKli&b 
W»yfartng Life." p. jSj. 

J Nede tliey fie be mo*t. 
Val nolleni p«(i^cari, Ac. 

"Polhical Poems," vol I. p. tty Salircof the heretical Lollardi i "LoilvilS 
>uni liunia," Ac. iiid,, p. 333 ; of fiiora become pc()()lcn> p. 364. 


the famous poets of the time saw fit to celebrate Cricy 
and Poicticrs, We have, therefore, nothing but rough 
sketches, akin to popular prints, barbarous in design. 
arwJ coarse in colouring, but of strong intent. Clerks, in 
their Latin, pursue France and Philip dc Valois, with 
opprobrious epithets : 

Lynxea. vipccca. vulpint. lupiiu. medot, 
CBllidA, lyrcna, crudclis, acnba. su)vibK. 

Such is France according to them, and as to her king, 
bis fate is predicted in the following pun : 

O Philtppiu Vftleyi. Xeix», Dariut, Bitultiu, 
Te Taciet maieyt EdwBTdii*. aper polimitiu* 

To which the French replied : 

Pull jMHcrant Onuluyi 1e hnu mtrin, 
Lc [mvre Anglet Jestruirom \i pir Buerre, 
Qu'»donc diront liiit picnni cc cheitilai 
Ou Iciiipi jailU oiiiit ci Aiiglctcrrc.* 

But both countries have survived, for other quarrels, other 
troubles, and other glories. 

The battles of Edward HI. were also celebrated in a 
scries of English poems, that have been preserved for us 
in a single manuscript, toj^ctlier with the name of their 
author, Laurence Minot,3 concerning whom nothing is 

> ■■ follcical Poems," ihiJ.. vol. i. pp. 26 ff. 

■ Ballad by Eiutachc dci; Ch«mp«, ■ ' (£uvte« ComplttM," ii. p. 34. 

» "The ro«m» of Lauicncc Mmot," ed, J. H«U, Oxford. 1887. 8»o, 
eleven shun itoviiu on ihe bat lie* of Edward III. Adun Davy may alto tie 
clsncd among ihc pairiolic ptictt : " Uavy'i live dreams abuut tulwaid It.." 
«d. Fnmivull. Early English Tent Society. i8j8, Swo. Th«y ire dreami 
jnlenpened with ptopheciei ; the *ty1e U poor and aimi at being apociily],i(ic. 
Bdwaid II. thiUl be cmpeiut «{ Chnilcndom. &!:. Varioui pioui wotla, a life 
of Sl AlenSui, ». ixKRi an tlic aign^ bciokening D<iaiiiaday, &c.. luvc been 
siiribulcd lo Davy without suffidcni reason. See on thii nibjeci, FiimiTall. 
mi., who givet the (exi of theae puenu. 



known. In his rude verse, where alliteration is sometimes 
combined with rhyme, both being verj' roughly handled, 
Minot follows Edward step by step, and extols his prowess 
with the best will, but in tlie worst poetry. Grand subjects 
do not need magnifying ; and when magnihed by unskil- 
ful artists they run the risk of recalling the Sir Thopas 
example : this risk Edward incurs at the hands of Lau- 
rence Minot. On the other hand absurd and useless 
expletives, "suth to saine," " i-wis," and especially "both 
day and night" continually help Minot to eke out his 
rhymes ; and the reader is sorely tempted uncourtcously 
to agree with him when he exclaims : 

Holp tut God, Kij> wil « thin I ■ 

Be-tides these war-songs, and at the same time, laments 
are heard, as in former days, sad and desponding accents. 
Defeats have succeeded to victories, and they contribute to 
raise doubts as to the validity of Edward's claims.* What 
if, after all, this ruinous war, the issue of which is uncertiiii% 
should turn out to be an unjust war as well ? Verses 
are even composed on the subject of wrongs done to 
inoffensive people in France : " Sanguis communitatis 
Frarcia: qua; nihil ci noccbat quarritur apud Dcum."3 

In war literature the Scots did not fare better than the 
French at the hands of their neighbours. At this time, and 1 
for long after, thej' were still the foe, just as the Irish or' 
French were Following the example given by the latter, 
the Scots replied ; several of their replies, being in English, 
belong to the literature of England. The most energetic 
is the semi -historical romance called "The Bruce" ; it is 
the best of the patriotic poems deriving their inspiration I 
from the wars of the fourteenth century. 

' /yW.,p. ai. 

■ Vkcianil bwlu oi Edward: " Politii:^ Puemt." ml. L pp. I$9. 173, ftc, 

s "Politicat PocfiH," vol. i. p. 173. 




" The Bruce," composed about 1375 by John Barbour,*/ 
is divided into twenty books; it is written in the dialect 
spoken in the south of Scotland from Aberdeen to the 
frontier, the dialect employed later by James [. and 
Sir David Lyndcsay, who, like Barbour himself, called 
it " inglis." Barbour's verse is octo-syllabic, forming 
rhymed couplets ; it is the same as Chaucer's in his 
••Hous of Fame." 

Barbour's intention is to write a true history; be thus 
expects, he says, to give twofold pleasure: firstly be- 
cause it is a history, secondly because it is a true one 
But where passion has a hold it is rare that Truth reigns 
paramount, and Barbour's feeling for his country is noticing 
short of passionate love ; so much so that, when a legend 
is to the credit of Scotland, his critical sense entirely dis- 
appears, and miracles become for him historj-. Thus with 
monotonous uniformity, throughout his poem a handful of 
Scotchmen rout the English multitudes ; the highlandcrs 
perform prodigies, and the king still surpasses them in 
valour; everything succeeds with him as in a fairy tale. 
This love of the soil, of its rocks and its lochs, of its clans 
and their chieftains, brings to mind the most illustrious 
of the literary descendants of Barbour, Walter Scott, who 
more than once borrowed from " The Bruce " the subjects 
of his stories." 

* " The Bran, or the book or the moM excellent utd noble Prince Robcn 
de Brayn, King of ScoU," a.d. 137s, ed. SltMt, E.E.T.S., 1879-89, 
Barbour, luirtng t«ceiv«d tait conclucU from ICdwArd III., weni toOxfonl. tai 
•tudicd there in 1357 and in 1364, uid went oIm to France, 136$, 13O8. 
Beddc) Vk "Biuct;" h« wrote a " Brut," and a genealogy of ihc Sluuls 
"The Slcwfarlis Otygiiinle."bcEinninE wilh Siniis founder of Nineirfi ; Ihna 
two lut poemi are lost. Barbour waf ardidacon of Aberdeen; he died in 
I39S *" Scotland, where a roynl pcuMon hnJ been bestowed upon hinu 

* " The indtjcntt od which the ensuing iioicl inaiiily turns art derived from 
the andcnl mctticitl chronicle of ihc Dtucc hy Anhdracon Ii«rbour. and ttata," 
ftc " QuUe Dangeraui," InlioducUou. — "The authorities lucd are chiefljr 
tboae ... of Archdneaa Barbour. ..." ■' Lord of the blei," Adveitiw- 
nenl to the lir»t edition. 



Besides the love of their land, the two compatriots have 
in common a ta:;Le for picturesque anecdotes, and select 
them with a view of making their heroes popular ; the 
sense of humour is not developed to an equal dcgroc, but 
it is of the same quality in twth ; and the same kind of 
happy answers are enjoyed by the two. Barbour delights, 
and with good reason, in preserving the account of the fight 
in which the king, traitorously attacked by three men 
while alone in the mountains, " by a wode sydc," smites 
them "rigorously," and kills them all, and, when congratu- 
lated on his return : 

" Ferfiij." «ud he. 
" I ilcw bot uie fofouceii ma, 
GmI md Bj hound hms lUnc the twa." ■ 

Barboxir likes to show the king, simple, palriarchal and 
valorous, stern to his foes, and gentle to the weak. He 
makes him halt his army in Ireland, because the screams 
of a woman have been heard ; it is a poor laundress in 
the pangs of child-birth ; the march is interrupted ; a tent 
is spread, under which the poor creature is delivered in 

To England's threats Barbour replies by challenges, and 
by his famous apostrophe to liberty : 

A t ftedomc U » noble thing ! . . . i 

Some people, continues the good archdeacon, who cannot 
long keep lo the lyric style, have compared marriage to 
bondage, but they are unexperienced men who know 
nothing about it ; of course marriage is the worst state 
in which it is possible to live, the thing is beyond discus- 
sion ; but in bondage one cannot live, one dies. 

■ Book vii. Hn« 483. * Book wn. lint 370^ 

> Book L line 215. 




A little above the copse another head rises ; that of 
Chaucer's great friend, John Gowcr. Unlike Chaucer in 
this, Gower hated and despised common people ; when he 
allows them room in His works, the place assigned to them 
is an unenviable one. He is aristocratic and conservative 
by nature, so that he belongs to old England as much as 
to the new nation, and is the last in date of the recog- 
nisable representatives of Angevin Hritain. Like the latter, 
Gower hesitates between several idioms ; he is not sure that 
English is the right one ; he is tri-lingoal, just as England 
had been ; he writes long poems in Latin and Eiigli*h, and 
when he addresses himself to " the universality of all men " 
he uses French. He writes French "of Stratford." it is 
true ; he knows it and confesses it ; but nothing shows 
better how truly he belongs to the England of times gone, 
the half-French England of former days ; he excuses 
himself and persists. "And if I stumble in my French* 
forgive me my mistakes ; English 1 am ; and beg on this 
plea to be excused." ' 

Unlike Chaucer, Gowerwas rich andof good family. His 

life was a long one ; bom about 1335, he died in 1408. He 

was related to Sir Robert Gower ; he owned manors in the 

county of Kent and elsewhere ; he was known to the 

king, and to the royal family, but undertook no public 

functions. To him as wc have seen, and to Str< 

Chaucer dedicated his "Troilus": 

O moral Gowftf, thii book I ilirecle 
To tbee and to (he philoiuphkal !>lroil«, 
To vutichfi. skur, thci iicdc IN tu corccto 
Of yttut bcnignitcc* nnd (clcs fiode. * 

■ El u jM n'ai d« Fnuifoja la bcondc. 
Pudoncti moi qe jco de cc fom'oic ; 

'* BdiidM and other Poem* hy John Gower," Londart, Roitburghe Oub. 1818, 
4t«, JMjSiu. ■ Book V. it 366. 


Gower, in his turn, represents Venus addressing him as 
follows : 

. . , Gtctc well Ctu)K«r whan j« mete 
hi \tsy (Ibcipleaad ni; pocte. 
For in the ftaut^n of hL« youth, 
In ninriiy wj«e uhe well cauih. 
Of diilecs and ol' tongei glade, 
The which hi; («r niy sake irvuie, 
Tbc loDd (uirillcd ic ovcc «U. ■ 

Gower was exceedingly pious, When old age came he 
retired with his wife to the priory of St. Mary Overy's (now 
St. Saviour', in that same suburb of Southwark where 
Chaucer preferred to frequent the "Tabard," and spent 
his last years there in devout observances. He became 
blind in 1400, and died eight years after. He bequeathed 
to his wife three cups, two salt-cellars, twelve silver spoons, 
all his beds and chests, and the income of two manor.<i ; he 
left a number of piou^t legacies in order to have tamps kept 
burning, and masses said for his soul. He gave tlte con- 
vent two chasubles of silk, a large missal, a chalice, a 
raartyrology he had caused to be copied for this purpose, 
and begged that in exchange he might be buried in the 
chapel of St. John the Baptist at St. Mary Overy's ; which 
was done. His tomb, restored and repainted, still exists. 
He is represented lying with his hands raised as if for 
prayer, his thick locks are bound by a fillet adorned with 
roses. The head of the plump, round-cheeked poet rests 
on his three principal works ; he wears about his neck 
a collar of interwoven SS, together with the swan, emblem 
of Henry IV. of England.' 

' "Coorcnid AmuitU," ed. I^li, LomloD. r8s7, 3 toIi, Sto. toL iiL 

* UoDiy, ikcn c«rl of Dcf l>)', had given him a collar in 1 J9J ; the iwan iru 
ihe CDililem of Tlioinu, duke «l (ilouccMcr, Ileniy'a mclc, assutuiitled in 
1397 : Henry stlo|)tcJ It flora ttiat d«ic A Tkir of Gawa'i lamb u in mv 
" Pie« Flowman." 1S94, p. 46. 



The worthy man wrote immoderately, and in espedal 
three great poems : the " Speculum Medttantis," in 
French; the " Vox Clamantis," in Latin; the "Confessio 
Araantis," in English. The first is lost; only an analysis 
of it remains, and it shows that Gowcr treated there of the 
vices and virtues of his day.' The loss is not very great : 
Gowcr has told prclty clearly elsewhere what he tliought 
of the" vices of his time, and, even had he not, it would 
have been caay to guess, for he was too right-minded a 
man not to have thought of them all the evil possible. 

Some French works of Gower have, however, come 
down to us ; they arc ballads and madrigals, for imaginary 
Iris," Court poems, imitations of Petrarch^ the light verses 
of a well-taught man. He promises eternal service to his 
" douce dame " ; his " douce dame " being no one in par- 
ticular. He writes for others, and they are welcome to 

* " PiimiM liber, gitllico •oniione cJilus in <Ikcri diviiliiur partn c( ' 
de vidU el vitiitiibuii ntcnon dc vnriis bujus acculi gtadibu^ viam, qua 
lot tniMgrcMUt, ad mi Crcaioria 3E>>idntirni rolirc debet, recto irnniic docerc 
IHMMtnr, Tiiiiluu|tt« liltelli uitui Speculum McdiiontiE nunmpini* ect." 
Tfaii uib]j-h» ts to be (bund in iev«nl MSS. \ tAvt in ihe e>lili<>n of the 
" ConfcMio," ptiatcd by Cftatun : PkdU i;i\'ci il too : " CooftMiOi" i. p. xziiL 
The " Spec a I urn Mcdiianiis" wh suic to icwmblc much ihote worki of 
maraliution (hence Ctuuco't "mural Gowet"). natnetnus in Fiench mcdi- 
wvtd, titeraiuK, which utrete oiled "biblei." See for exunplfl "Lft Bible GuiM 
de Piovitu " I 

Don liiele punm ef orrible 

llfcMllM COEQlucLlciU ULIC bible 

''On ibb alirkine anil liatiid world, I want to bcgio a bible;" and Giuot 
reviews all cloua o( »ocie<]', all trades and prnfrvsiooi, and t>lnma cverytblng 
and m'eiybndy : OotKr did tlie nme ; cveijthin^ for them » " ptisDi." 
Rome u t)oi ipared : " Rome tiM sum et no* engloi," sayx Cuiot. S«« text 
ol Guiot's " Dible " in Baibaian and M^on, ■< Fabliaux," tSoS, vol. ii. p. 307. 

• " Baladcs and other Pocdik," RuiiburKhe Club, iStS, 410. 

3 Jeo tit en pLour ei en unt^ Un£iiit, 
An en gel^ «1 en chnlour (r^iu. 

Ballad ix. No puMge in Petrarch ha» been oftcncr imitated. \niIoo wrolci 

Je meari deaudf luprndc la foiiiiiiie . . . 
Jc (il en pleura el aliens <4Rt eipoir, &c. 



draw from his works : " The love-songs thus far arc com- 
posed specially for those who expect iove favours through 
marriage. . . . The ballads from here to the end of the 
book arc common to all, according to the properties and 
conditions of lovers who are diversely wrought upon by 
iickle love"' Here and there some fine similes are found in 
which figure the chameleon, for instance, who was supposed 
to live on air alone, or the hawk : " Chameleon a proud 
creature is, that lives upon air without more ; thus may ] 
say in similar fashion only through the love hopes which I 
entertain is my soul's life preserved." ^ 

He excused himself, as we have seen, for the mistakes 
in his French works, but neglected to do the same for his 
Latin poems : in which he was wrong. The principal ot»^ 
the " Vox Clamanti9."3 was suggested to him by the great 
ri^ng of I3£>[, which had imperilled the Crown and the 
whole social order. Gowcr, being a landowner in Kent, 
was in the best situation fully to appreciate the danger. 

In order to treat this terrible subject, Gowcr, who is not 
inventive, adopts the form of a dream, just as if it w%r« a 

* " Lei baladu d'amour juqM end loiit fiul expccialeinenl pour moB 
q'ftttendont louts amoan pu droite marl&gt. Le^ t>alnde«(l'ici Jetijesau fin da 
liveie Mnl univeruletl lout le nondbMlonc Ic* prapeit^ et lea condicion* 
do Kmantt qui mkrI divencment travailn en U fottoae d'uDooi." 

■ Coroilion c'enl une tx^tle fiire 
Qnivlt l&nsoulement de i'lir juuu ploi ; 
Ensi pour dice en mnnii* la manirce, 
Dc fioulc apoii qc j'u d'amout con^uc 
SonC met pcnicti en vie auccoui. 

Biltid xvl : what m ctumrleon is, wm thii> explainfd in s Vonbuloty «f the 
(iftcent)i (ciiluf)- : " llic ^inelion, aniiiial vuil colcni* cl tola acre vivit— 4 
bMlyrfit " (Tb. WriKhl, " Votaljularies." 1857, 410, p. 320). 

J '■ roema quod dicitut Vox Claniaiitb,'* ed. Coxe, Roxburglie Club, 
iSjO, 410- He ilsa wiole in Latin vkh " Chronica Tri^uilitA" (whorein he 
icUiM, ukd judges wirh j[reai severity, the reign of RicttAKl II., frotn 1387 to 
the acccuion of ll«niy [V.|, «nd Mveral other poemt on tbe vice* of the 
time, the whale piiiited by Tb< Wii^tit, in hit " Poltiicol Poems,** vol. i. 
KolU. The " Oxonica " aic also ptinied with the " Vox Cluiuniia." 



new " Romaunt of the Rose." It is spring-time, and he 
Tails asleep. Let us not mind iC overmuch, we shall soon 
do likewise; but our slumber will be a broken one; in 
the midst of the droning of his sermon, Gowcr suddenly 
screams, roars, fliea into a passion — "Vox Clamantisl" 
His hearers open an eye, wonder where they arc, recognise 
Gowcr, and go off to sleep again. 

Gower heaps up enormous and vague invectives ; he 
fancies his style rcsemble!t that of the apustic in Hatmos. 
Animals and monsters tight and .scream ; the common 
people have been turned into beasts, o.Ken, hogs, dog«, 
foxes, flies, frogs ; all are hideous or dangerous. Cursing 
as he goes along, Gower drives before him, with hissing 
di:(tichs, the strange bei-d of his monsters, who " dart 
sulphureous flames from the cavern of their mouth."' 

These disasters are caused by the vices of the time, 
and Gowcr lengthily, patiently, complacently, draws up an 
interminable catalogue of them./ A University education 
has taught him the importance of correct divisions ; he 
divide.<i and subdivides according to the approved scho- 
lastic methods. ( Firstly, there arc the vices of churchmen ; 
these vices are of different kinds, as are ecclesiastics them- 
selves ; he re-divides and re-subdivides. Some parsons 
"give Venus the tithe.'s that belong to God"; others are 
the terror of hares: "lepus visa pericla fiigit," and hearken 
to no chime but ihc "vociferations" of the hounds"; others 

' P. 31. He jecn M the xvlpntf of their name* : 

Iluddc feriC, quoR Juddc tcrit, dum Cobbc minanir . . . 
tIos£e xuum pompsm vibm, Uum xc yntAi uintit 

Msjotcm Kej[e nobiliuic fore. 
B.'klle piepheu docet, quem spiiiliit wile raaliKnus 

Eilocuit ... ip. so.) 

The bmous John Ball U hne ttfctnd la, the i4]o«le of Uie reiott, wta»_ 
died qiwrtvrrU. Src Iwlim, p. 413. 

■ E>t liln CruMB oiuu*. inMlque »cicnli« mncra • . . 
Ad latin ci cornu "ufBiiriii gani, iin<l«: leiluiidiint 
Mom, nnnuf, nnde Icjnu tisa ;>cticl> tugic . . . 



trade. Knights are too fond of women "with golden 
locks"; peasants arc slothful: merchants rapacious and 
dishonest; they make "false gems out of glass."' The 
king himself docs not escape a lecture ; let him be upright, 
pious, merciful, and choose his ministers with care; let him 
beware of women ; "Thou art king, let one sole queen 
suffice thee." 3 

In one particular, however, this sermon is a remarkable 
one. What predominates in these long tirades of poor 
verses is an intense feeling of horror and dismay; the 
quiet Gower, am the whole community to which he be- 
longed, have suddenly btcn brought face to face with 
something unusual and terrifying even for that period. 
The earth shook, and a gulf opened ; hundreds of victims, 
an archbishop of Canterbury among them, disappeared, 
and the abyss still yawns ; the consternation is general, 
and no one knows what remedy to expect. Happily the 
two edges of the chasm have at last united ; it has closed 
again, hiding in its depths a heaving sea of tava, the 
rumblings of which are still heard, and give warning that 
it may burst forth at some future day. Gower, in the 
meantiiiie, scans his disticlis, 

Chaucer wrote in English, naturally, his sole reason 
being that it was the language of the country. Gower, 
when he uses this idiom,) offers explanations : 

CUmot in ore canum, '.Uim \\>circcuitur ID unnm, 

Eai ubl caintMna (julliiur undc D«o. 
SuU lib't misM. bmis dontio lonipuiiie c^mpU, 

Quo tiU CMDtoref d«i)uut eu« cftDcs. ([i. 176.) 

* Conlicjl ex vitri* gemma oculo jwctiota*. {p. 37$.) 
' Rex cs, regms Hti» eti, tilii .tutlicil una. [p. 316.) 

) *' Confcxia .^mantis." Thcte «xuts o{ it no iat»hc(oiy cdilion, mil it U 
lo \k hoped ihe Early EQ4;lbb TcxL Sucicty, that has altodyrcndrrcfl k> maDy 
setvii.-es, will soon render ihis grrftity needed one. P»uli'ii ediliun, London, 
■8S7, 3 vols. Svo, ii very (aully ; H. Morliq-'* edition (Cambcoolte Library, 



In oure Kngliihc, I ihcnk« maJtc, 
A bok« Cue EDiilonda Mkei' 

He has no idea to what extent this apology, so common 
a hundred years bufore, is now out of place after the 
"Troilus" of Chaucer. His English book is a lengthy 
compilation, written at the request of the young King 
Richard * wherein Gower seeks both to amuse and to in- 
struct, giving as he does, 

Somwhar o( lust, somirhiti of loit. 

In his tum, and after Boccaccio, he invents a plot that 
will allow him to insert a whole series of talcs and stones 
into one single work ; compositions of this sort being the 
fashion. Gower's collection contains a hundied and twelve 
short stories, two or three of which are very well toid ; 
one, the adventure of Flnrent, being, perhaps, related even 
better than in Chauccr.J The rest resembles the Gower of 

Lendon, 1SS9, Svo) it expurgsK^d. Gower wrote in English aome minor 
po«na, in tipMial "The Praiw of Poice " lin (Iw " I'oliile*! PodM," of 
Wriclil, ItelU). The "Confcuia*' i* wriiicn in octu-Q'tlnbic oouplclSt 
with four acccnU. TtuK poem sliuuld be <:uni|>ai«d witli Ficiicli roaj])llaii<ns 
of ihe %Atat wrt, und evpeciallj' wiih the " Casioicmrai d'un pcic i ton filt," 
lliirlcc-nih Kniury, a seiiet o( lalci in vcrtc, Inid by ihe father 10 castigate 
and edify the *on, text in liarlxuaii and M^on, " Fablituuc," hill, 1808, 
4 vola. Sto, vol. ii. 

• " CotifesMo." hiulf'i ed.. p. i. 

' GowCT wrote two Miccc^rr vrrsinns nf tii« poem : Ihc first iboiit 1384, 
the BKond about 1353. In this la« one, hnving op«iil7 mlten the *ide of the 
fuluie Henry IV. Iwlikli via» Ti;cy Ixild uf l)iii)|, he tuppioMcd >U atlusion* to 
Ricbard. In Ihc Aim vcttion, in»icail of, 

he had Mrilten : 

A IxjUc (or Eni^liindet sake, 
A bokc Tor KJhk Richaidrt blIcc. 
> Vol. I. pp. 89 C In Chaucer, ibc nory ii told bj the Wife ol Bath. 



What will be the subject of this philosopher's talk ? He 
will tell us of a thing : 

. . . whrtupnn the wnfM nwlo iCdnde, 

And hslh di>nc lilhcn il twignn. 

And shftll whilr ihcie is any cnut, ' 

And Uui U iovC 

In order to treat of this subject, and of many others, 
Boccaccio had conceived the idea of his gathering in the 
villa near Florence, and Chaucer that of his pilgrimage. 
Moral Gower rcinaint^ true to hi.s character, and imagines 
a confession. The lover seeks a priest of Venus, a worthy 
and very Icanicd old man, called Genius, who had already 
figured as confessor in the "Roman de la Rose"': 
" Benedicilc," says tlie priest ; '" Dominus," answers the 
lover; and a miniature shows the lover in a pink gown, 
kneeling in a meadow at the feet of Genius, a tonsured 
monk in frock and cowl,' 

We find ourselves again among vices and virtues, classi- 
Bcations, divisions, and subdivisions. Genius condemns the 
vices (those of his goddess included, for he is a free speaking 
priest). He hates, above all things, Lollardry, "this new 
tapinagc," and be commends the virtues ; the stories come 
in by way of example : mind what your eyes do, witness 
Actason ; and your ears, witness the Sirens. He passes on 
to the seven deadly sins which were apparently studied in 

' Rrvinning of Book i, 

* Aliouly had been K«n in the " Roman " : 

Conimeni N.ititr« la dic«e 

A >on ]»ctic «c ct'oStMa ■ ■ ■ 

" GMiu, dit'cllc, bcae pitire, 

D'une folic qae j'ni Eute. 

A vciu» in "en vuel fairs conCcue 1 " 

a.n'l undet pictencc of coofcKuiii; bcnvlf, the explainttlie rariout ifUenu ot 
the univcnc ai grcai Icdgih, 

> In Mrt. Kgmon, 1991, fol. 7, io tiie Briliah Muteum, reproduoed in my 
" Men Plowman," p. II. 



the seminary where this pri«t of Venus learnt thcol^^y. 
After ilie deadly sins the mists and marvels of the 
"Secretum Sccrtrtorutn " fill the scene. At last the lover 
begs for mercy; he writes Venus a letter: "with the teres 
of min eye in stede of inka" VeniLi, who is a goddess, 
deciphca-s it, hastens to the spot, and scornfully laughs at 
this shivering lover, whom age and wrinkles have left a 
lover. Gower then decides to withdraw, and make, as he 
says, "beau retraite." In a last vision, the poor "olde 
grisel " gazes U|jon the series of famous loving couples, 
who give themselves up to the delight of dancing, in a 
paradise, where one could scarcely have expected to find 
them together : Tristan and Iseult, Paris and Hclun.Troilus 
and Crcssida. Samson and Dalila, David and Hathshcba, 
and Solomon the wise who has for himself alone a hundred 
or so of " Jcwcs eke and Saraxincs." 

!n spite of the immense difference in their merit, the 
names of Chaucer and Gower were constantly coupled ; 
jAmes of Scotland, SkcLton, Dunbar, always mention them 
together ; the *' Confcssio "* was printed by Caxton ; 
under Elizabeth we find Gower on the stage ; he figures 
in " Pericles," and recites the prologue of this play, the plot 
of which is borrowed from his poem. 



GowER's books were made out of books. Chaucer's friend 
carries us in Imagination to the paradise of Eros, or to a 
Patmos of his own invention, from whence he foretells the 
end of the world ; but whatever he does or saj's we are 
always perfectly aware of where we are : we are in his 

It is quite different with another poet of this period, a 
mysterious and intangible personage, whose veiy name is 
doubtful, whose writings had great Influence, and that no 
one appears to have seen, concerning whom we possess no 
contemporaneous information. Like Gower, strong tics 
bind him to the past ; but Gowcr is linked to Angevin 
England, and William Langland, if such be really his 
name, to the remote England of the Saxons and Scandi- 
navians. His books arc not made out of books ; they arc 
made of real life, of things seen, of dreams dreamt, of 
feelings actually experienced. He is the exact opposite of 
Gowcr, he completes Chaucer himself. When the " Can- 
terbury Tales " are read, it seems as though all England 
were described in them ; when the Visions of Langland 
are opened, it is seen that Chaucer had not said everything. 



\Langland is without comparison llie greatest poet after 
•■-phaucer in the medisvat literature of Enjfland.' 


His Visions have been preserved for us in a consider- 
able number of manuscripts. They difTer greatly among 
each other; Langiand appears to have absorbed himself 
in his work, continually remodelling and adding to it No 
poem has been more truly lived than this one ; it was the 
author's shelter, his real house, his real church ; he always 
came back there to pray, to tell his sorrows — to live in it. 
Hence strange incoherencies, and at the same time many 
unexpected lights. The spirit by which Langland is 
\ animated is the spirit of the Middle Ages, powerful, dcsuU 
tory, limitless. A classic author makes a plan, establishes 
'"] noble proportions, conceives a definite work, and completes 
it ; the poet of the Middle Ages, if he makes a plan, rarely 
\ keeps to it ; he alters it as he goes along, adding a porch, 
I'a wing, a chapel to his ediBce : a cathedral in medieval 
i' times was never finished. Some authors, tt is true, were 
' already touched by classic influence, and had an idea of 
measure ; such was the case with Chaucer, but not with 
Langland; anything and everything finds place in his 
'-.vrork. By collecting the more characteristic notes scattered 
in his poem, sketch-books full of striking examples might 
be formed, illustrative of English life in the fourteenth 
century, to compare with Chaucer's, of the political and 
religious history of the nation, and also of the biography of 
tlie author. 

Allusions to events of the day which abound in the 

* Further dettila on Lan|rl!ind and hit Vinonj, and in panicalar the 
eludiUiion (u for u I have \k^\\ nlik 10 (urniiib It) of xevenil iJaubiful point*, 
ntiy he lAund in " Pien PlowtnAn, a coniribulioo 10 ih« Hiiioty of Kngliib 
Myfticikm," Lunduu, 1^4. Some puaago of ih« pmcnt Cbaptct ue laken 
bom lhi» wiirk- 


poem enable us to dittc it. Three principal versions 
exigt,' without counting several intermediate rcmodellings ; 
the firriC contains twelve camos or fassus, llie second 
twenty, the third twenty-three ; their probable dates are 
1362-3. 13/6-7. and r398-9.» 

The numerous allusions to himself made by the author, 
principally tn the last text of his poem, when, according to 
the wont of old men. he chose to tell the talc of his past 
life, allow us to form an idea of what his material as well 
as moral biography must have been. He was probably 
born in 1331 or 1332, at Clcobury Mortimer, as it seems, 
in the county of Shrewsbury, not far from the border of 
Wales. He was (1 think) of low extraction, and appears 
to have escaped bondage owing to the help of patrons 
who were pleased by his ready intelligence. Krom child- 
hood he was used to peasants and poor folk ; he describes 
their habit* as one familiarised with them, and their 
cottages as one who knows them well. His life oscillated 
chiefly between two localitie-f, Malvern and London. 
Even when he resides in the latter place, his thoughts turn 
to Malvern, to its hills and verdure ; he imagines himself 
there ; for tender ties, those ties that bind men to mother 
earth, and which are only formed in childhood, endear 
the place to him. A convent and a school formerly 

' Mr. ShMl bos given two exccllrai editions of ihox; three texts (ullol \t%%, 
A. B. and C.) : i" "The Viaan of William coiiccini;i;£ Tiers PlowmKt), 
logeihei with Vlu d« Uowd, Uobei ei Dobmi. secundum Wit ei Rcsoun," 
LonAm, Early En|tli»h Ttxl Society, iS^'&t. 4 •oU. 8«) ; a^ ■• The Vi»ivn 
ufWilliam cixicctninc Pieri IMuwmiui, U three parallel texts, logeibcr with 
Kichoril the Kcddcw." Oiford (Clarendon rrc»). ifAb, z voIj. 8vo. 

' The [KLMm !□ fivuur a( these diiM are Kiven Id " Pieis Plowman, R con- 
tiibuiion to Ihe hi«I<iry of Biiglikli Mj»timoi," chap, ii.. Mid in » paper I 
published in tlic Revt^ Oiiiijtu, Oct. ijth, and Nor. I, tS;^. Mt. SW*t 
assigns the date or 1393 to the ihini leal, aililingi huwcveri "I diciild not 
object <o ihc opiniou (hat the tiii« dale K later Mill." I have adduced pcooh 
(" Picn Plowman," ppw JJ If.} o( ihts final teviKiiiii having taken place in 139(1 
or shortly after. 


existed at Malvern, and there in all likelihood Langland 
first studied. 

Tlic church where he came to pray 3till exists, built of 
red sandstone, a structure of diflferent epochs, where the 
Norman style and perpendicular Gothic unite Behind 
the village rise steep hills, covered with gorse, ferns, heather, 
and moss. Their highest point quite at the end of thej 
chain, towards Wales, is crowned by Roman earthworks. 
From thence can be descried the iM-st plain where flows 
the Seven], crossed by streams bordered by rows of trees] 
taking blue tints in the distance, spotted with lights and 
shadows, as the clouds pass in the ever-varying sky. 
Meadows alternate with fields of waving grain ; the square 
lower of Worcester rises to the left, and away to the cast 
those mountains arc seen that witnessed the feats of] 
Arthur. This wide expanse was later to give the poet his 
idea of the world's plain. " a fair feld ful of folke," where he 
will assemble all humanity, as in a Valley of Jchoshaphat 
He enjoys wandering in this "wilde wilderncssc," attracted 
by " The layes the levely foules made.'' 

From childhood imagination predominates in him ; his-l 
intellectuat curiosity and facility are very great. He is a 
vagabond by nature, both menially and physically ; he 
roams over the domains of science as he did over his 
beloved hills, at random, plunging into theology', logic, law,^ 
astronomy, " an harde thynge " ; or losing himself in 
reveries, reading romances of chivalry, following Ymagj- 
natyf, who never rests : " Idel was 1 nevcrc." He .studies 
the properties of animals, stones, and plants, a little from 
nature and a little from books ; now he talks as Euphues 
will do later, and his natural mythology will cause a smtlc; 
and now he speaks as one country-bred, who has seen with 
his own eyes, like Burns, a bird build her nest, and has 
patiently watched her do it. Sometimes the animal is a 
living one, that leaps from bough to bough in the sunlight ; 


at olhers, it is a strange beast, fit only to dwell among tlie 
stone foliage of a cathedral cornice. 

He knows French and Latin; he has some tincture of 
the classics ; he would like to know everything: 

i\\\t the teiencM under <ii>nne ■ and kite ihe lolyle cnil\e«, 
I woid« t kn cw« and con th ' k)-adelf in atfD* herte I ' 

But, in that as in other things, his will is not on a par 
with his aspirations : this inadequacy was the cause of 
numberless clisappoinlments. Thou art. Clcrgye says most 
appropriately, one of those who want to know but hate to 
study : 

The wer lef 10 lerre ■ ln« loth fox to sloilic.* 

Even in early youth his mind seems to lack balance; 
being as yet a boy, he is already a soul in trouble. 

His dreams at tlits time were not all dark ones ; radiant 
apparitions came to him. Thou art young and lusty, said 
one, and hast years many before thee to live and to love ; 
look in this mirror, and sec the wonders and joys of love 
1 shall follow thee, said another, till thou bccomcst a lord, 
and bast dumatns.^ But one by one the ii^^hts faded around 
hifo ; his patrons died, and this was the end of his 
ambitions ; for he was not one of those men able by sheer 
streiiyth of will to make up for outside help when that 
fails them. His will was diseased ; an endless grief began 
for him. Being dependent on his " CIcrgye " for a liveli- 

* B. IV. 48. • A. xii. 6. 

» CoitfufiK^neia earnii • coWtA me nlxnite the nekk«. 

And Mfde, " Thou art yungr and jrrp; ' and hati y«res yn 

Forio iyve longc ' and Ia<l)rci 10 lovyc 

And in ihi» myrauic ihow mjuhlc *e ■ mynhw fwl mxtijt 

Tlinl ledm ibe wil to l)'k>-n|[e ' al thi lyf-Iyme." 

The wcnuntit vide the tame * " I shal suw« tbil will« 1 

TU tliow b« a l(H<t« ani] have londc" (B. ki. l6.) 



hood, he went to London, and tried to earn his daily bread 
by means of it, of "that labour" which he had " lern 
best." " 

Rcli^'ious life in the Midttle Ages had not those weU' 
defined and visible Landmarks to which we are accustom' 
Nowadays une either is or is not of the Church ; formerly, 
no such obvious divisions existed. Religious life spread 
through society, like an immense river without dykes, 
.•swollen by innumerable affluents, whose subterranean 
penetrations impregnated even the soil through which 
they did not actually flmv. From this arose numerous 
situations difficult to define, bordering at once on the world 
and on the Church, a state of things with which there is n 
analogy now, except in Rome itself, where the rclig'ious lift 
of the Middle Ages still partly continues. 

Numerous semi-religious and slightly renumerative 
functions were accessible to clerks, who were noi 
however, obliged to renounce the world on that account,' 
The great thing in the hour of death being to ensure the 
salvation of the soul, men of fortune continued, and some- 
times began, their good works ai that hour. They en- 
deavoured to win Paradise by proxy; they left directions 
in their will that, by mean-t of lawful hire, soldiers should 
be sent to battle with the Jnlidel ; and they also founded 
what were called " duttttries." A sum of money was left 
by them in order that masses, or the service for the dead 
or both, should be chanted for the repwe of their souls. 

The number of these chantries was countless ; eve; 
arch in the aisles of the cathedrals contained some, whc 
the service for the dead was sung ; sometimes separate 
edifices were built with this view. A priest celebrated 
masses when the founder had asked for them ; an 
clerks performed the office of choristers, having, for thi 
most part, simply received the tonsure, and not bcin|^ 

■ C vi. 42. 




neccisarily in holy orders. It was, for them all, a career, 
almost a trade ; giving rise to discussions concerning 
salaries, and even to actual strikes. These services derived 
the name under which tliey catnmonly went from one of 
the words of the liturgy sung ; they were called Plaubos 
and Dirigts. The word "dirge" has pas*cd into the 
English language, and Is derived from the latter. 

To psalmody for money, to chant the same words from 
day to day and from year to year, transfonning into a 
mere mechanical toil the divine gift and duty of prayer, 
could not answer the ideal of life conceived by a proud 
an<) generous soul filled with vast thoughts. Langland, 
however, was obliged to curb his mind to this work ; 
Ptactbo and Dirige became his tools'. 

Th« lomc* Uut ich laboure with ' utd ijflodc JcMrre.* 

Like many others whose will is diseased, he condemned 
the abuse and profited by it. The fairies at his birth had 
promiacd riches, and he was [)oor ; they had whispered of 
love, and an unsatisfactory marriage had closed the door 
on love, and debarred him from preferment to the highest 
ecclesiastical ranks. Langland lives miserably with his 
wife Catherine and his daughter Nicolette, in a house in 
Comhill, not far from St. Paul's, the cathedral of many 
chantries." and not far from that tower of Aldgate, to which 
about this time that other poet, Chaucer, directed his steps, 
he, too, solitary and lost in drL-ams. 

Langland has depicted himself at this period of his 
existence a great, gaunt figure, dressed in sombre garments 
with large folds, sad in a grief without end, bewailing the 

• C vi. 45. 

• On wliich see W. S. Simpwn, " Si. Paul'* Caihixlial and oM City life," 
London, i89*. Svo, p. 95 ; •' The ch»ntr>* ptiMis of St. I'buI'*." A lUt of 
thoM dutntrin m a hutdwrliius at the fouiieerilb cemury has b««o prcMrved ; 
Itiere ore seven Ef-threo of ihcm. iht4., p. 99. 



proteclors of his childhood and his lost illusions, seeing 
nothing but clouds on tlic horizon of his life. He begins 
no new friondships ; he forms tics with no one ; he follows 
the crowded streets of the city, elbowing lords, lawyers, 
and ladies of fashion ; he greets no one. Men wearing" 
furs and silver pendants, rich garments and collars of gold, 
bni»h past him, and he knows them not. Gold collars 
ought to be saluted, but he docs not do it ; he does not say 
to them: "God loke yow Lordc«i !" Bui then his air is so 
ab'icnt, -io strange, that instead of quarrelling with him 
people shrug their shoulders, and say : He is "a fole" ; he 
is mad.' Mad ! the word recurs again and again under his 
pen. the idea presents itself incessantly to his mind, under 
every shape, as though he were possessed by it : " fole," 
" frantyk," "ydiole!" He sees around him nothing but 
dismal spectres : Age. Penury. Disease. 

To these material woes are addc-d mental ones. In the 
darkness of this world shines at least a distant ray, far off 
beyond the grave. But. at limes, even this light wavers ; 
clouds obscure and apparently extinguish it 'Doubts 
assail the soul of the dreamer ; theology ought to eluci- 
date, but, on the contrary, only darkens them : 

The more I irtuw lher«-isne ' the mittier it iccmflll. 
And the dcppei I dc^irnc iA\t ilerkei mc il ihinltclb.* 

How is it possible to reconcile tlic teachings of theology 
with our idea of justice ? And certain thoughts constantly 
recur to the poet, and shake the edifice of his faith ; he 
drives them away, they reappear ; he is bewitched by them 
and cannot exorcise these demons. Who had a more 
elevated mind than Aristotle, and who was wiser than 
Solomon? Still they are held by Holy-Church " bothe 

' C- l>c);innin{j of passus vi.,[ B. beginnii^ of potius xv. : "My wilK^m 
aad WiLiiyL-iJ tii 1 a fole wck." * B. x. i8i. 


ydampnedl" and on Good Friday, what do we sec? A 
felon is saved who had lived all his life in lies and thefts ; 
he was saved at oticc "with-outen penauncc of purgatoric." 
Adam, Isa^iah, and all the prophets remained " many longe 
yeres" with Lucifer, and — 

A robbeie wu jmuitMoiined ' ralher (hftn Ihri olle I ■ 

He wishes he had thought less, learnt less, "conned" 
fewer books, and preserved for himself the quiet, "sad 
bileve" of "plowmen and pastoures'*; happy men who 

IVrcen with tfatrrnMtr ■ iliepaleysof hevoic !* 

In the midst of these trials and sorrows, I^ngland had 
one refuge; his book. His poem made up for those 
things which life had denied him. Why make verses, why 
write, said Ymagynatyf to him ; are there not " bokcs 
ynowc ? " 3 But without his book, Langland could not 
have lived, like those fathers whose existence is bound up 
in that of their child, ant! who die if he dies. When he 
had finished it, and though his intention was* never to 
touch it again, for in it he announced his own death, he 
still began it over again, once, twice ; he worked at it all 
his life. 

What was the end of that life? No one knows. Some 
indications tend to show tliat in his later years he left 
* B. X. 4sa 

* . -. . None KiniiL'r Mved ' nc ^ndtlcr of bilcvc, 
Thnn plcwmvn and |>jistniiri.-& ' and pore comunr labomce. 
Souterei And shcphcrdiM ■ tuche leweJ joctex 
I'crccD wilh a fatf-H^itfr • the palcys of hcvcne, 
.And )Kik«cn purnaiurie prnnviicreln ' at her lieiinn-pirirngc. 
Iii'to the WiMC of pamdjni ■ for her pure byleve. • 

• Th»i inpailitly here ■ kncwc mul ette lyved, (B. t. ^5S.I 

> And thow niedlesi with irakyngcs ' and m^ghiesl f;o K)' thi Mulcr, 
And bidd« fni hem l)iat giveth the brcil ' iar then mr bokM jsowe 
To telle mien what Dowel i*. . . . (B. xii. i6.) 


London, where he had led his troubled liTc to return to thi 
Western coiirtry.* There wc should like to think of him, 
soothed, healed, resigned, and watching that sun decline tn 
the west which he had seen rise, many years before, "in a 
somcrc scyson." 


In this summer season, in the freshness of the morning, 
to the musical sound of waters, "it sowned so murriei" the 
poet, lingering on the summit of Malvern hills, falls asleep, 
aiid the first of his visions begins. He contemplates 

Al the weltfae ai ihU worUe ' and the woo bothe ; 

and, in an immense plain, a " feld ful of folke," he not 
the bustle and movements of mankind, 

OfnUc mana of dicd ' the iDcacaad the riche. 

Mankind is represented by typical specimens of all 
sorts : knights, monks, parsons, workmen sinking French ; 
songs, cooks crying : Hot pies I " Hote pycs, hote 1 " par-j 
doners, pilgrims, preachers, bcjigars, janglers who will not' 
work, japers and " mynstralles " that sell "ule*-" They 
arc, or nearly so, the same beings Chaucer assembled at 
the " Tabard " inn, on the eve of his pilgrimage to Canter- 
bury. Tliis crowd has likewise a pilgrimage 10 make, not, 
however, on the sunny high-road that leads from South- 
wark to the shrine of St. Thomas. No, they Journey 
through abstract countries, and have to accomplish, some 
three hundred years before Bunyan's Christian, theiri 
pilgrim's progress tn search of Truth and of Supreme 

' He Kcnu 10 Have written at thii [itnc iht fragmcni callcti by Mr. Skeit s 
" Richard iliF kc(]clcH>" AH*) BCiriliuicd hy ihc unic wilh Eieai probahilUy 
to out aLiihoi. 


A lady appears, who explains the landscape and the 
vision ; she is Holy-Church. Yonder tower is the tower 
of Truth. This castle is the " Ca-stel of Care " that con- 
tains " Wronge." Holy-Church points out how mankind 
ought to live, and teaches kings and knights their duties 
with regard to Truth. 

Here comes Lady Meed, a lady of importance, whose 
friendship tricans jwrdition. yet without whom nothing can 
be done, and who plays an immense part in the world. 
The monosyllabic which designates her has a vague and 
extended signification ; it means both reward and bribery. 
Disinterestedness, the virtue of noble minds, being rare in 
this world, scarcely anything is undertaken without hope 
of recompense, and what man, toihng solely with a view 
to recompense, is quite safe from bribery ? So Lady 
Meed is there, beautiful, alluring, perplexing ; to get on 
without her is impossible, and yet it is hard to know what 
to do with her, She is about to marry " Kals " ; the friends 
and witnesses have arrived, the marriage deed is di-awn 
up; the pair are to have the " Erldome of Envye," and 
other territories that recall the worst regions of the cele- 
brated rnap of the Tendre. Opposition is made to the 
marriage, and the whole wedding party starts for West- 
minster, where the cause is to be determined ; friends, 
relations, bystanders ; on foot, on horseback, and in 
carriHgcs ; a singular procession! 

The king, notified of the coming of this eorlege, publicly 
declares he will deal justice to the knaves, and the proccs* 
sion melts away ; most of the friends disappear at a racing 
pace through the lanes of London. The poet hastens to 
lodge the greatest scoundrels with the people he hates, 
and has them received with open arms. *" Gyle " is 
welcomed by the merchanti, who dreis him as an appren- 
tice, and make him wait on their customers. " Lycr " has 
at iirst hard work to find shelter ; he hides in the obscure 




holes of the alleys, "lorkyngc thorw lanes"; no dooF 
opens, his felonies are too notorious. At last, the par- 
doners " haddcn pite and pullede hym to house"; they 
washed him and clothed him and sent him to church on 
Sundays witli butU and seals appended, to sell "pardons 
for pans " (pence). Then leeches send him letters to say 
llial if he would assist them "waters to lokc," he should 
be well received ; spicers have an interview with him ; 
minstrels ard messengers keep him "half a yere and ctcvc 
dayes " ; friars dres^ httn as a friar, and, with them, he 
forms the friendliest tics of all,' 

Lady Meed appears before the king's tribunal ; she is 
beautiful, she looks gentle, she produces a great effect ; 
she is Phryne before her judges with the addilion of a 
garment The judges melt, they cheer her, and so do the 
clerks, the friars, and all those that approach her. She is 
so pretty! and so kind! Anything you will, she wills it 
too; no one feels bashful in her pre-iencc ; she is indeed 
so kind ! A friar offers her the boon of an absolution, 
which he will grant her " himself" ; but she must do good 
to the brotherhood ; We have a window begun that will 
cost us dear ; if you would pay for the stained glass of 
the gable, your n^me should be engraved thereon, and 
to heaven would go your soul. Meed is willing. The 
'king appears and examines her ; he decides to marry her, 
not to Pais, but to the knight Conscience. Meed is will- 
ing : she is always willing. 

The knight comes, refuses, and lays bare the ill-practices 
of Meed, who corrupts all the orders of the kingdom, and 
has caused the death of " yowrc fadre " (your father, King 
Edward H.}. She would not be an amiable spouse; she 
is as "comune as the cart-wcy." She connives with the 
Pope in the presentation to benefices ; she obtains 
bishoprics for fools, " theighc they be Icwcd." 

• C. ill. lit IT. 


Meed weeps, which U already a good answer ; then, 
having recovered the use of speech, she defends herself 
cleverly. The world would fall into a torpor without 
Meed ; knights would no longer care for kings ; priests 
would no longer say masses; minstrels would sing no more 
songs ; merchants would not trade ; and even beggars 
would no longer beg. 

The knight tartly replies : There are two kinds of Meed ; 
we knew it ; there is reward, and there is bribery, but they 
are always confounded. Ah ! if Reason reigned in this 
world instead of Meed, the golden age would return ; no 
more wars ; no more of these varieties of tribunals, where 
Justice herself gets confused. At this Meed becomes 
"wroth as the wyndc."* 

Enough, says the king ; I can stand you no longer ; you 
must both serve me : 

" Ki«e hir," quod the kynge ' " CoiiKiencc. I hot« (bid)." 
— " N4T bi Cmt« 1 " ' 

the knight answers, and the quarrel continues. They send 
for Reason to decide it Reason has his horses saddled ; 
they have interminable names, such as " Suffre-til-I-see- 
my-time." Long before the day of the Puritans, our 
visionary employs names equivalent to sentences; we 
meet, in hi^ poem, with a little girl, called Behave-wcll-or- 
thy-mother-will'givc-lhec-a.whipping.3 scarcely a practical 
name for everyday life ; another personage, Evan the 
Welshman, rejoices in a name six lines long. 

Reason arrives at Court ; the dispute between Meed and 
Conscience is dropped and foi^ottcn. for another one has 
arisen. " Thanne come Pecs into Parlement ; " Peace 

' D. iii. jjS. • a iv. 3. 

■ Daughter of Pien PlowiMn i 

Htu douht«( hihle Do-r7ght-»»- * othcr-thydxinnie-thBl-ihe-bete. 

(C. ix. 81. 


presents a petition against Wrong, and enumerate^ his evil 
actions. lie has led astray Rose and Margaret ; he keeps 
a troup of retainers who assist him in his misdeeds ; he 
attacks farms, and carries off the crops ; he is so powerful 
that nonr dare stir or complain. These are not vain 
fancies ; the Rolls of Parliament, the actual Parliament 
that was sitting at Westminster, contain numbers of similar 
petitions, where the real name of Wrong is given, and 
where the king endeavours to reply, as he docs in the 
poem, according to the counsels of Reason. 

Reason makes a speech to the entire nation, assembled 
in that plain which is discovered from the heights of 
Malvern, and where we found ourselves at the beginning 
of the Visions. 

'ITien a change of scene. These scene-shiftings are 
frequent, unexpected, and rapid as in an opera. 
" Then, . . ." says the poet, without further explanation : 
then the scene shifts ; the plain has disappeared ; a new 
personage. Repentance, now listens to the Confession of 
the Deadly Sins. This is one of the most striking 
passages of the poem ; in spite of their abstract names, 
these sins arc tangible realities ; the autlior describes their 
shape and their costumes ; some arc bony, others arc tun- 
bcllicd ; singular abstractions with warts on their noses! 
We were just now in Parliament, with the victitns of the 
powerful and the wicked ; we now hear the general con- 
fession of England in the time of the Planta£cncts.' 

That the conversion may be a lasting one, Truth must 
be sought after. Piers Plowman appears, a mystic person- 
age, a variable emblem, that here simply represents the 
man of "good will," and eLsewherc stands for Christ him- 
self. He teaches the way ; gates must be entered, cajstles 
encountered, and the Ten Commandments will be passed 

' Sei- in [latlii^utiii Ctoion'i eoiUeuiO'n, with a vrand«t(ul)y rcdJiitie duetip- 
tjoD cl u) ^nglub la^cTii, C vu. 350. 




through. Above all, he teaches every one hi3 present 
duties, his active and definite obligations ; he protests 
against useless and unoccupied lives, against those who 
have since been termed " dilettante." for wliom life is a 
sight, and who limit their function to being sight-seers, to 
amusing themselves and judging others. All those who 
live upon earth have actual practical duties, even you, 
lovely ladies : 

And ye tavcly liidjra ' with yuure longe fynciek 

All must defend, or till, or sow the field of life The 
ploughing commences, but it is soon apparent that some 
pretend to labour and labour not ; they are lazy or talka- 
tive, and sing songs. Piers succeeds in mastering them 
by the help of Hunger. Thanks to Hunger and Truth, 
distant possibilities arc seen of a reform, of a future 
Golden Age. an island of England that shall be similar to 
the island of Utopia, imagined later by another English- 

The vision rises and fades away ; another vision and 
another pilgrimage commence, and occupy all the re- 
mainder of the poem, that is, from the eleventh to the 
twenty-third passus (C- text). The poet endeavours to 
join in their dwellings Dowel, Dobcl, and Dobest ; in other 
terms : GoocUlife, Better-life, and Rest-life. All this part 
of the book is filled with sermons, most of them energetic, 
eloquent, spirited, full of masterly touches. l<;aving an 
ineffaceable impression on the memory and the heart : 
sermon of Study on the Bible and on Arts and Letters; 
sermons of Clcrgj'c and of Ymagynatyf ; dialogue 
between Hawkyn (active life) and I'aticnce ; sermons of 
Faith. Hope, and Charity. Several visions arc inter- 
mingled with these sermons : visions of the arrival of 
Christ in Jerusalem, and of the I'assion ; visions of hcU 




attacked by Jesus, »nd defended by Satan and Lucifer 

with guns, " brasenc gonnes," a then recent invention, 
which appeared particularly diabolical. Milton's Satai 
in spite of having had three hundred years in which 
improve his tactics, will find nothing better ; his battcriS 
are ranged in good order ; a seraph stands behind eac^ 
cannon with lighted match ; at the first discharge, an] 
and archangels fall to the ground : 

By thoDnnd«, Ang«l on Archtngel rolled. 

They are not killed, but painfully sufTer from a knowl* 
that they look ridiculous ; " an indecent overthrow," they 
call it The fiends, exhilarated by this sight, roar noisily, 
and it is hard indeed for us to take a tragical view of t he 
massacre.' ^H 

In the Visions, Christ, conqueror of hell, liberates tl^fl 
souls that await his coming, and die poet awakes to the 
sounds of bells on Easter morning. 

The poem ends amid doleful apparitions; now comt 
Antichrist, then Old Age, and Death. Years have fled, 
death draws near ; only a short time remains to live ; how 
employ it to the best advantage ? (Debet). Advise 
Nature! cries the poet. " Luve ! " replies Nature: 

" Lcrae ro lote," quod Kyodc ■ " wid love of alk olhte," 


Chaucer, with his genius and his manifold qualities, 
gaiety and his gracefulness, his faculty of obser\'ation and 
that apprchcnsivcness of mind which enables him to sym- 
pathise with the most diverge specimens of humanity, has 
drawn an immortal picture of medi.-eval England. In cer- 

' " Fuadiic LmIi" MDto vi 601 ; iiivci)ti«n of gun*. aV^ 



I tatn respects, however, the description is incomplete, and 

I one must borrow from Langland some finishing touches. 

I We owe to Chaucer's horror of vain abstractions the 

f individuality of each one of his personages ; all classes of 

society are represented in his works ; but the types which 
impersonate them are so clearly characterised, their single- 
ness is so marked, that on seeing ihem we think of them 
alone and of no one else. We arc so absorbed in the 
contemplation of this or that man that we think no more 
of the class, the ensembU; the nation. 

The active and actual passions of the multitude, the sub- 
terranean lavas which simmer beneath & brittle crust of 
good order and ret^ular administration, all the latent possi- 
bilities of volcanoes which this inward fire betokens, arc, 
on the contrary, always present to the mind of the visionary ; 
rumblings are heard, and they herald the earthquake. The 
vehement and passionate England that produced the great 
rising of I j8l, and the heresy of Wyclif, that later on will 
give birth to the Cavaliers and Puritans, is contained in 
essence in Langland's work ; we divine, we foresee her. 
Chaucer's book is, undoubtedly, not in contradiction to 
that England, but it screens and allows her to be forgotten. 
In their anger Chaucer's people exchange blows on the 
highway ; Langland's crowds in their anger sack the palace 
of the Savoy, and take the Tower of London, 

Langland thus shows us what we find in none of hb 
contemporaries : crowds, groups, classes, living and indi- 
vidualised ; the merchant class, the religious world, the 
Commons of England. He ts, above all, the only author 
who gives a sufficient and contemporaneous idea of that 
grand phenomenon, the power of Parliament Chaucer, 
who was himself a member of that assembly, sends hi3 
franklin there ; he mentions the fact, and nothing more ; 
the part played by the franklin in that group, amid that 
concourse of human beings, is not described. On the other 



hand, an admirable picture represents him keeping o\ 
house, and ordering capons, partridges, and " poynant 
sauce " in abundance. At home, his pcrMsnatity stands 
out in relief; but yonder, at Westminster, tlic franklin was 
doubtless lost in the crowd ; and crowds had little interest 
for Chaucer. 

In two documents only does that power appear great 
and impressive as it really wa^, and those documents are: 
the Rolls wherein are recorded the acts of Parliament, and 
the poem of William Langland. No one before him. none 
of his contemporaries, had seen so clearly how the matter 
stood The whole organisation of the English State is 
summed up in a tine of admirable conciseness and encrp^, 
in ivhich the poet shows the king surrounded by his 

people : 

Kayittilhod hym lailde, 
Mighl fi the coniuies ' DMde h^ to KgBc' 

The power of the Commons is always present to the 
mind of Langland ; he observes the impossibility of doing 
without ihem. When the king is inclined to stretch his 
prert^ative beyond measure, when he gives in his spei-ches 
a foretaste of the theory of divine right, when he speaks as 
did Richard II. a few years after, and the StuHrls three 
centuries later, when he boasts of being the ruler of all, 
of being "hcd of lawc." while the CIcrg>' and Commons 
are but mcrnbert of the same, Langland stops him, and 
through the mouth of Conscience, adds a menacing clause : 

" Id ooodicifrofi," quod Contcicnce, * " tJMl thow koiui« defcDde 
And n\c ibi rewmc in taoan ' rixhl wd, And in ircuth."* 

The deposition of Richard, accused of having stated, 
nearly in the same terms, "that he dictated from his lips 
the laws of his kingdom," 3 and Che fall of the Stuarts, are 
contained, so to say, in these almost prophetic words. 

' B. Ptol. 113. ' B. cii.474. 

1 *■ Kotull t^liumeniorum.' vol. UL p. 419. S«e atiove, p. X^j. 


On nearly all the questions which agitate men's minds in 
the fourteenth century, Langland agrees with the Commons, 
and, as we follow from year to year the Rolls of Parliament, J 
petitions or decisions arc found inspired by the same views i 
as those Langland entertained ; his work at times reads ) 
like a poeticai commentary of the Rolls. Langland, as the ^ 
Commons, is in favour of the old division of classes, of the 
continuance of bondage, and of the regulation of wages 
by the State ; he feels nothing but hatred for Lombard 
and Jew bankers, for royal purveyors, and forestallers. In 
the same way as the Commons, he is in favour of peace 
with France ; his attention is concentrated on matters 
purely English ; distant wars till him with anxiety. He 
would willingly have kept to the peace of BriStigny, he 
hopes the Crusades may not recommence. He is above att 1 
insular. Like the Commons he recognises the religious 
authority of the Pope, but protests against the Pope's 
encroachments, and against the interference of the sove- 
reign-ponti rr in temporal matters. The extension of the 
papal power in England appears to him excessive ; he 
protests against appeals to the Court of Rome ; he is of 
opinion that the wealth of the Church is hurtful to her ; he 
shares the sentiments of the Commons of the Good Parlia- 
ment towards what they dn not hesitate to term the sinful 
town of Avignon : " la [jecclierouse cit6 d'Avcnon."' He is 
indignant with the bishops, masters, and doctors that allow 
themselves to become domesticated, and ; 

■ > . Mirvcn kj> MTvanli ' loniet uiil ladycs, 
And in it«de of ttuwardcs ' >yCtcn 4ad dcincn.* 

Going down in this manner, step by step, Langland 
reaches the strange, grimacing, unpardonable herd of liars, 
knaves, and cheats who traffic in holy things, absolve for 
money, sell heaven, deceive the simple, and appear as if 

* Giiod pMtlumcnt of I37fi. ' B. Ptol. 9S- 



they " hadden leve to lye al here !yf after." ■ In this 
nethermost circle of hia hell, where he scourges thcni with 
incessant raillerj-, the poet confines pell-mell alt these 
glutted unbelievers. Like hardy parasitical plants. the>- 
have disjoined the tiles and stones of the sacred edifice, so the wind steals in, and the rain penetrates : shameless 
pardoners they arc, friars, pilgrims, hermits, with nothing 
of the saint about them save the garb, whose example, 
unless a stop ts put to it, will teach the world to despise 
clerical dress, those who wear it, and the religion, even, that 
tolerates and supports them. 

At this depth, and in the dim recesses where he casts 
the rays of his lantcra, Langland spares none ; his ferocious 
laugh is reverberated by the walls, and the scared night- 
birds take to flight. His mirth is not the mirth of Chaucer, 
itself 1ms light than the mirth of France ; not the joyous 
peal of laughter which rang out on the Canterbury road, 
welcoming the discourses of the exhibitor of relics, and the 
far from disinterested sermons of the friar to sick Thomas. 
It is a woful and terrible laugh, harbinger of the final 
catastrophe and doom. What they have heard in the plain 
of Malvern, the accursed ones will hear again in the Valley 
of Jehoshaphat 

They have now no choice, but must come out of their 
holes ; and they come forward into the light of day, 
hideous and grotesque, saturated with the moii^ture of their 
dismal vaults ; the sun blinds them, the fresh air makes 
them giddy ; they present a sorry figure Unlike the 
pilgrims of Canterbury, they derive nn benefit from the 
feelings of indulgence that softens our hearts on a gay 
April mom ; they will learn to know the difference be- 
tween the laugh that pardons and the laugh that kills. 
Langland takes them up, lets them fall, and takes them up 
again ; he never wearies of this cruel sport ; he presents 

■ B. Prol. 49. 


them to us now separately, and now collectively: packs of 
pilgrims, "ereraytes on an hep," pilgrims that run to Si. 
James's in Spain, to Rome, to Rocamadniir in Guyenne, 
who have paid visits to every saint. But have they ever 
soug'ht for St Truth ? No, never ! Will they ever know 
the real place where they might find St. James ? Will they 
suspect that St James should 

be MMiht ' thei pouK lyVc IXGS«n (lie) 
In priwns and in poore oote* i ' 

Thc>' seek St. James in Spain, and St Jarne* is at their 
gates ; they elbow him each day, and they recognise him 

What sight can comfort us for these sad things? That 
of the poor and disintereMcxl man, of the honest and 
courageous labourer. I^ngland here shows himself truly 
original : the guide he has chosen dilTers as much from the 
Virgil of Dante as from the I-ovcrthat Guillaume de Lorris 
follows through the paths of the Garden of the Rose. TIic 
English visionary is led by Piers Plowman; Piers is the 
mainspring of the State ; he realises that ideal of dis- 
interestedness, conscience, reason, which fills the soul of 
our poet ; he is the real hero of the work. Bent over the 
soil, patient as the oxen that he goads, he performs each 
day his sacred task ; the years pass over his whitening 
head, and, from the dawn of life to its twilight, he follows 
ceaselessly the same endless furrow, pursuing behind the 
plough his eternal pilgrimage. 

Around him the idle sleep, the careless sing ; they pre- 
tend to cheer others by their humming ; they trill : " Hoy ! 
troly lol ly ! " Piers shall feed every one, except these useless 
ones; he shall not feed " Jakke the jogeloure and Jonct . . 
and Danycl the dys-playere and Denote the haude, and 
frere the faytoure, . . ." for, all whose name is entered "in 
■ B. Ptol. 46 : xii. 37 t v. 57 1 C v. 123. 



the Icgende of lif" must take life seriously.* There 
place ill ihis world for people who arc not in earnest ; true 
class that is content to perform its duties imperfectly a 
without sincerity, that fulfils them without eagerness, with- 
out passion, without pleasure, without striving to attain the 
best possible result and do better than the preceding 
generation, will perish. So much the more surely ihall 
perish the class that ceases to justify its privileges by its 
services : this i« the great law propounded in our own day 
bj' Taine, Langland lets loose upon the indolent, the care- 
less, the busybodica who talk much and work little, a foe 
more terrible and more real then than now : Hunger. Piers 
undertakes the care of all sincere people, and Hunger loo; 
after the x&x. All this part of the p<iem is nothing but an 
eloquent declaration of man's duties, and is one of the 
finest pages of this " Divine Comedy" of the poor. 


l^ngland speaks as he thinks, impetuously; a sort of 
dual personality exists in him ; he is the victim and not the 
master of his thought And his thought is 30 completely 
a separate cntit>', with wishes opposed to his de»ires, that 
it appears to him in the solitudes of Malvern ; and the 
melody of lines heard not long ago txrcurs to the memory : 

Je Duuchoii uD jour k p4s tents 

Duns U1I \rn'i, tur one Inuyire ; 

Ati pied it'iin Bfbrc vint s'aaceair 

Uti jeunc homme v(tu dc amr 

Qui rae re*Mml>laU conim^ un frtrc. . • 

Filled with a similar feeling, the wandering dreamer had 
met, five hundred years before, in a " wildc wildernessc 

' B- vl. 7] I C. in. taa. ■ Munei, ■' Nun <I« Dtomtm." 




and bi a wodc-'sycle." a " moche man" who looked like 
himself; who knew him and called him by name : 

And thus I wcnl wide, where " 'iiftiiU>Ti(t mync one (oJonc). 
By B wilde wilJciiicsBc ■ and U a wwlcr-»)tlc . . , 
And under i Ijrndr iipjwn a Inanilc ' Iciml I % siinindc . • • 
A mochc man. oa mr thoughie ' iiul tyl>i; ii> niy-«c1*e 
C'lmc and called me ■ by my kynde name, 

" Whal allow," qu<irl I tht (ihcn) ' '' tlial Ihow my nume knowett?" 
■'Thai thow wiiai »(1." <iiiod he " ''auJ no wyifhie bdicrc." 
■■ Woie I wh«l thovf ml f" ■ " Thoughl," wydc he llunnc, 
"1 have Miwcd (followed) the Ihjb icvcre y«re *■«/ thow me no 

"Thought" reigns supreme, and does with Langland 
what he chooses. Langland is unconscious of what he is 
led to; his visions arc for him real ones ; he tells them as 
Ihcy rise before him ; he is scarcely aware that he invents ; 
he stares at the sijiht, and wonders as much as we do ; 
he can change nothing ; his personages are beyond his 
reach. There is therefore nothing prepared, artistically ar- 
ranged, or skilfully contrived, in his poem ; the deliberate 
hand of a man of the craft is nowhere to be seen. He 
obtains artistic effects, but without seeking for thetn ; he 
nwer selects or co-ordinates ; he is suddenly led, and 
leads us, from one ^iubject to another, without any better 
transition than an ' and thanne" or a "with thaL" And 
*' thanne " we are carried a hundred miles away, among 
entirely di/terent beings, and frequently we hear no more 
of the first ones. Or sometimes, even, the first reappear. 
but they arc no longer the same ; Piers Plowman personifies 
now the honest man of the people, nnw the Pope, now 
Christ. Dowel, Dobet, and Dobcsl have two or three 
different meanings. The art of transitions is as much dis- 
pensed with in his poem as at the opera : a whistle of the 
scene-shifter — an *' and thanne " of the poet - the palace of 
heaven fades away, and we find ourselves in a smoky 

tavern in Cornhill. 

■ B. vjii. 63. 



Clouds pass over the sky, and sometimes stt-cep by the 
earth ; their thickness varies, they take every shape : now 
they are soft, indolent mists, lingering in mountain hollou's, 
that will rise towards noon, laden ivith the scent of flower. 
ing linden.'i ; now they arc storm-clouds, threatening de- 
struction and rolling with thunder. Night comes on, and 
suddenly the blackness is rent by so glaring a light that 
the plain assumes for an instant the hues of mtd-day ; 
then the darkness falls again, deeper than before. 

The poet moves among realities and abstractions, and 
sometimes the first dissolve in fogs, while the second 
condense into human beings, tangible and solid. On the 
Malvern hills, the mists arc so fine, it is impossible to say : 
here they begin and here they end ; it is the same in the 

In the world of ethics, as among the realities of actual 
life, Langland excels in summing up in one sudden 
memorable flash the whole doctrine contained in the 
nebulous .sermons of his abstract preachers ; he then 
attains to the highest degree of excellence, without 
striving after it. In another writer, the thing would have 
been premeditated, and the result of his skill and cunning ; 
here the effect is as unexpected for the author as for the 
reader, lie so little pretends to such felicities of speech 
that he never allows the grand impressions thus produced to 
last any time ; he utilises them, he is careful to make the 
best of the occasion. It seems as if he had conjured the 
lightning from the clouds unawares, and he thinks it his 
duty to turn it to use. The flash had unveiled the upper- 
most summits of the realm of thought, and there will 
remain in our hands a flickering rushlight that can at most 
help us upstairs. 

The passionate sincerity which is the predominant trait 
of Langland's character greatly contributed to the lasting 
influence of his poem. Each line sets forth his un- 



conquerable aversion for all that is mere appearance and 
show, self-interested imposture ; for a)I that is anta^^onistic 
to conscience, abnegation, sincerity. Such is the great 
and fundamental indignation that is in Uim ; all the others 
are derived from this. For, while his mind was impressed 
with the idea of the seriousness of life, he happened to 
live when the mediarval period was drawing to its close ; 
and, as usually happens towards the end of epochs, people 
no longer took in earnest any of the faiths and feelings 
which had supplied foregoing generations witli their 
strength and motive power. He saw with his own eyes 
knights preparing for war as if it were a hunt ; learned 
men consider the mysteries of religion as fit subjects to 
exercise one's minds in after-dinner discussions ; the chief 
^ardians of the flock busy themselves with their "owolles*' 
only to shear, not to feed them. Meed was everywhere 
triumphant ; her misdeeds had been vainly denounced ; 
her reign had come ; under the features of Alice Periers 
she was now the paramour of the king ! 

At all such men and at all such things, Langland 
thunders anathema. Lack of sincerity, all the shapes and 
sorts of " faux .scmbiants," or " mcrvcillcux scmblants," as 
Rutebcuf said, fill him with inextinguishable hatred. In 
shams and " faux scmblants " he sees the true source of 
good and evil, tlie touchstone of right and wrung, the main 
difference between the worthy and the unworthy. He con- 
stantly recurs to the subject by means of his preachings, 
epigrams, portraits, caricatures ; he broadens, he magnifies 
and multiplies his figures and his precepts, so as to deepen 
our impression of the danger and number of the adherents 
of "Fafs-Semblant," By «uch mean.'*, he hopes, we shall 
at last hate those whom he hates. Endlessly, therefore, in 
season and out of season, among the mists, across the 
streets, under the porches of the church, to the drowsy 
chant of his orations, to the whistle of his satires, ever and 




ever again, he conjures up before our eyes the hidi 
grinning face of " Fals-Semblant," tlie insincere. Fals^' 
Semblant is never named by name ; be assumed all 
names and shapes ; he is die king who reign* contrarj- to 
conscience, the knight perverted by 1-ady Mcea, the 
heartless man of law. the merchant without honesty, the 
friar, the pardoner, the hermit, who under the garment of 
:«aints conceal heart:! that will rank them with the accursed 
ones. Fals-Scmbtant is the pope who sells bcmsficcs. 
the histrion, tlie tumbler, the juggler, tlie adept of the 
vagrant race, who goes about telling talcs and helping his 
listeners to forget the seriousness of life. From the un- 
worthy pope down tn the lying juggler, all these men are 
the same man. Deceit stands before us ; God's vengeance 
be upon him ! Whenever and wherever Langland detects 
Fals-Semblant, he loses control over hirasieir; anger blinds 
him ; it seems as if he were confronted by Antichrist. 

No need to say whether he is then master of his words, 
and able to measure them. With him, in such cases, no 
nuancts or extenuations arc admissible ; you arc with or 
against Fals-Semblant ; there is no middle way; a com- 
promise is a treason ; and is there anything worse than a 
traitor ? And thus he is led to sum up his judgment In 
such lines as this : 


He U wofK than Judu * iluit givelb a jkiter altntr.' 

If we all<^c that there may be some shade of exa^era- 
tion in such a sentence, he will shrug his shoulders. The 
doubt is not possible, he think.s, and his plain proposition 
is self-evident. 

No compromise ! Travel through life without bending ; 
go forward in a straight line between the high walls of 
duty. Perform your own obligations -, do not perform the 

■ B. ». on 


obligations of othen To do your duty ovcr-zealously, to 
take upon you the duty of others, would trouble the State ; 
you approach, in so doing, the borderland of Imposture. 
The knight will fight for his country, a.nd must not lose 
his time in fasting and in scourging himself. A fasting 
knight is a bad knight 

Many joys arc allowed. They arc included, as a bed of 
flowers, between the high walls of duty ; love-flowers 
even grow there, to be plucked, under the blue sky. But 
take care not to be tempted by that wonderful fcnialc 
I'rotcus, Lady Meed, the great corruptress. She disap- 
pears and reappears, and Hhc, too, assumes all shapes ; :ihc 
is everywhere at the same time ; it seems as if the serpent 
of Eden had become the immense reptile that encircles the 

This hatred is immense, but stands alone in the heart 
of the poet. Beside it there is place for treasures of pity 
and mercy ; the idea of so many Saracens and Jews 
doomed wholesale to everlasting pain repels him ; he can 
scarcely accept it ; he hopes they will be all converted, 
and " tume in-to the trcwe feithe " ; for " Crystc clcped us 
alle. . . . Sarascncs and scismalikcs . . . and Jewes." * 
There is something pathetic, and tragic also, in his having 
to acknowledge that there is no cure for many evils, and 
that, for the present, resignation only can sootlic the 
suffering. With a throbbing heart he shows the unhappy 
and the lowly, who must die before having seen the better 
days that were promised, the only talisman that may help 
them : a scroti with the words. " Thy will be done ! " » 

The truth is there was a tender heart under the 
rough and rugged exterior of the impassioned, indignant, 

* B. xi. 114 

* Bm I luknl what lyflodc tt wu - [hat fVicncc u ■pmfted. 

And ilmnnc wax il n |)eceof ihe J'itttr mosUr • " Fiat t»lumint tua." 




suffering poet ; and thus he was able to sum up hi<i Iffc's 
ideal in Ihis beautiful motto : D'lsu, Dou. Oiligf : in tliesc 
words will b« found the true interpretation of Dowct^ 
Dobet, and Dobest : '* Learn, Teach, I.ovc." ' 

The poet's language is, if one may use the expression, 
like himself, above all, sincere. Chaucer wished that words 
were " cosyn to the dede ; " Langland holds the same 
opinion. While, in the mystic part^ of his Visions, he uses 
a superabundance of fluid and abstract terms, tJjat look] 
like morning mists and llaat along with his thoughts, his 
style becomes suddenly sharp, nervous, and sinewy when he 
comes back to earth and moves in the world of realities. 
Let some sudden emotion fill his soul, and he wit) rise 
again, not In the mist this time, but in the rays of the sun ; 
he will soar aloft, and we shall wonder at the grandeur of 
his eloquence:. Whatever be his subject, he will coin a 
word, or distort a meaning, or cram into an idiom nnore 
meaning than grammar, custom, or dictionary allow, 
rather than leave a gap between word and thought ; both 
must be fused together, and made one. If the merchants 
were honest, they would not " timber" so high— raise such 
magnificent houses.' [n other parts he uses realistic terms, 
noisy, ill-favoured expressions, which it is impossible to 

His vocabulary of words is the normal vocabulary of 
the period, the same nearly as Chaucer's. The poet of 
the "Canterbury Tales " has been often reproached with 
liaving used his all-powerful influence to obtain right.*; of 
citizenship in Kngland for French words; but the accusa- 
tion does not stand good, for Langland did not write for 
courtly men, and the admixture of French words is no 
less considerable in his work. 

' B. \iii. 137. 

* Th«i liiolirede nol to hjFe. 

(A ui. 76.) 


The Visionar/s poem offers a combination of several 
dialects ; one, however, prevails ; it is the Midland dialect | 
Chaucer used the East-Midland, which is nearly the same, | 
and was destined to survive and become the English 1 

Langland did not accept any of the metres used by 
Chaucer ; he preferred to remain in closer contact with 
the Germanic past of his kin. Rhyme, the main ornament 
of French verse, had been adopted by Chaucer, but was 
rejected by Langland, who gave to his lines the ornament 
best liked by Anglo-Saxons. Germans, and Scandinavians, 
namely, alliteration.* 

While their author continued to live obscure and un- 
known, the Visions, as soon as written, were circulated, 
and acquired considerable popularity throughout England. 
In. spite of the time that has elapsed, and numberless 
destructions, there still remain forty-6vc manuscripts of 
the poem, more or less complete. " Piers Plowman " 
soon became a sign and a symbol, a sort of password, a 
personification of tlte labouring classes, of the hone'^t and 
courageous workman. John Ball invoked his authority in 
his letter to the rebel peasants of the county of E^sex in 
13S1.* The name of Piers figured as an attraction on the 
title of numerous treatises : there existed, as early as the 
fourteenth century, " Credcs " of Piers Plowman, "Com- 
playntes " of the Plowman, &c. Piers' credit was made 

* LAnglAnd'i lines uaiuiUy coauin foui aoocniuated sylliibtes, two in each 
tutlf tine ; the Iwo uccniuatci) trllablct of chc tint half Unc, ind itic lint 
ACC« ijrIlAble at the teociad bitLr line ate alliteraied, and commence liy 
the same ''ibyme.lniu:" 

I xMpc mc in tktoiAa ' m I a iU^ wire. 

i,h. Ptol. a.) It ■■ Dol neccHwr for Ulitetation to citit ihni the letlen ba 
tuuitly the nmc ; if tbey «.ie cuuwiuinu, noihing mnte it w>nic<l ilun a 
ovtain similitude in iheir tcninds ; if they uc vowcU even lot luSces: U 
is enuugh ihni all be voweli;. 

■ WftUinghAtn. ■* HittoiM Ant-Ucana." vol. il. p. 33. RoUi. 




use of at the lime of the Reformation, and in hii 
were demandeJ the suppression of abuses and the 
formation of the old order of things ; he even appeared 
on the stage; Langland would have been somctimc-s 
{^eatly surprised to sec what tasks were assigned to his 
hero. , I 

Chaucer and Langland. the two great poets of the 
period, represent excellently the English genius, and tlie 
two racci that have formed the nation. One more nearly 
resembles the clear-minded, energetic, firm, practical race 
of the latinised Celts, with their fondness for .itruight 
lines ; the other resembles the race which had the deepest 
and e«peciaUy the earliesit knowledge of tender, pa%sjonat< 
and my-iiic aspirations, and which lent itself most willingly^ 
to the lulls and pangs of hope and despair, the race of the 
Anglo-Saxons. And while Chancer sleeps, as he should, 
under the vault of Westminster, some unknown tuft of 
Malvern moss perhaps covers, as it also should, the ashes 
of the dreamer who took Piers Plowman for his hero. 



For a long time, and up to our day, the title and dignity 
ol " Father of English prose" has been borne Iry Sir John 
Mandeville, of St. Albans, knight, who, "in the name of 
God glorious," left his country in the year of grace 1322, 
on Michaelmas Day, and returned to Europe after an 
absence of thirty-four years, twice as long as Robinson 
Crusoe remained in his desert island. 

This title belongs to him no longer. The good knight 
of St. Albans, who had seen and told so much, has 
dwindled before our eyes, has lost his substance and his 
outline, and has vanished like smoke in the air. His coat 
of mail, his deeds, his journeys, his name : all arc smoke. 
He iirst lost his character as a truthful writer ; then 
out of the three versions of his book, French, 
and Latin, two were withdrawn from him. leaving him only 
the 5rst. Existence now has been taken from him, and he 
is left with nothing at all. Sir John Mandeville, knight, of 
St. Albans, who crossed the .sea in 1322, is a myth, and 
never existed ; he has joined, in the kingdom of the shades 
and the land of nowhere, his contemporary the famous 
" Friend of God of the Obedand," who some time ago also 
ceased to have existed 

One thing however remains, and cannot be blotted out : 
namely, the book of travels bearing the name of Mandeville 



the translation of which is one of the best and oldest speci- 
mens of simple and flowing English prose. 

The same phcnonrienon already pointed out in connec- 
tion with the Anglo-Saxons occurs again with regard to 
the new English people. For a long time (and not to 
speak of practical, useful works), poetry alone seems 
worthy of being remembered ; most of tlie early monu- 
ments of the new language for the sake of which the 
expense of parchment is incurred arc poems ; verse 
is used, even in works for which prose would appear 
much better 6tted, such as history. Robert of Gloucester 
writes his chronicles in English verse, just as Wace and 
Benoil de Saintc-More had written theirs in French vcrsc. 
Aftcr some while only it is noticed that there is an art ot 
prose, very delicate, very difficult, very worthy of care, and 
that it is a mistake to look upon it in the light of a vulgar 
instrument, on which every one can play without having 
learnt how, and to confine oneself to doing like Moli^'s 
Monsieur Jourdain " de la prose sans le savoir." 

At the epoch at which we have arrived, and owing to the 
renovation and new beginnings occasioned by the Con- 
quest, English prose found itself far behind French. In 
the fourteenth century, if French poets are poor, prosc- 
writcrs arc excellent ; as early as the twelfth and thirteenth 
there were, besides Joinvillc, many charming tale writers 
who had told in prose delightful things, the loves of 
Aucassin and Nicolette, for example ; now, without speak- 
ing of the novelists of the day, there is Froissart, and to 
name him is to say enough ; for every one has read at least 
a few pages of him, and a single page of Froissart, taken 
haphazard in his works, will cause him to be loved. The 
language glides on, clear, limpid, murmuring like spring 



water ; and yet, in spite of its natural flow, art already 
appears. Froissart selects and chooses ; the title of 
" historian," which he gives himself, is no mean one in his 
eyes, and he strives to be worthy of it The spring bubbles 
up in the depths of the wood, and without muddying the 
water the artist knows how to vary its course at times, to 
turn it ofT into ready prepared channels, and make it gush 
forth in fountains. 

In England nothing so far resembles this scarcely per- 
ceptible and yet skilful art, a mixture of instinct and 
method, and many years will pass before prose becomes, 
like verse, an art In the fourteenth century Knglish prose 
is used in most cases for want of something better, from 
necessity, ir> order to be more surely understood, and owing 
to this its monuments arc chiefly translations, scientific or 
religious treatises, and sermons. An English Froissart 
would at that time have written in Latin ; several of the ' 
chronicles composed in monasteries, at St Albans and 
elsewhere, are written in a brisk and lively style, animated 
now by enthusiasm and now by indignation ; men and 
events are freely judged ; characteristic details find their 
place ; the personages live, and move, and utter words the 
sound of which seems to reach us. Walsingham's account 
of the revolt of the peasants in 1381, for example, well 
deserves to be read, with the description of the taking of 
London that followed, the sack of the Tower and the Savoy 
Palace, the assassination of the archbishop.' the heroic act 
of the peasant Grindecobbe who, being set free on condition 
that he should induce the rebels to submit, meets them and 
says: "Act to-day as you would have done had I been 
beheaded yesterday at Hertford," => and goes back to his 

* "llUcoiia AngllouM." vq]. 1. pp. 4113 ft By ihe ume: "Cmu abba- 
tum monailrrii iMUicEi Albani," 3 vols., " Vpodigma NeiMtriK,' i toI, sd. 
RJey. KoIU, 1863, 1S76. 

' IHJ., vol. ii. p. a;r. Sm above, p. 3or. 



prison to suffer death. Every detail i^ Found there, even 
the simple picturesque detail ; the rebels arm themselves 
as they can, with .itavcs, rusty swords, old bows blacl^ened 
by smoke, arrows "on which only a single feather 
lemained." The account of the death of Edward III. in 
the same annal-s is gloomy and tragic and full of grandeur. 
In the *' Chronicon Anglias," ' the anonymous author's 
burning hatred for John of Gaunt inspires him with some 
fieiy pages: all of wliich would count among the best of 
old English literature, had these historians used the 
national idiom. The prejudice against prose continued ; 
to be admitted to the honours of parchment it had first to 
be ennobled ; and Latin served for that. 

Translations begin to appear, however, which is already 
an improvement. Pious trcittiscs had been early turned 
into English. John of Ticvisa, born in Cornwall, vicar of 
Berkeley, translates a,t a running pace, with numerous 
errors, but in simple style, the famous Universal History, 
" I'olychrnnicon," of Ralph Higden,' and the scientific 
encyclopedia, " De Proprietatibus Rerum,"* of Bartholo- 
mew the Englishman, The first of these works was finished 
in 1387, and had at the Renaissance the honour of being- 
printed by Caxton ; the second was finished in 1398. 

The English translation of the Travels of Mandeville 
enjoyed still greater popularity. This translation is an 
anonymous onci It has been found out to-day that the 



■ "Chronicon Aniclu;," i3iS-S8, RolU, ed. Maun dr Thorn pwm. l?74. 8va. 
Mr. Thnmptror hu provHl chat. coDtraiy 10 the prevalent opinion, Walrinjjbam 
hot Ixcn oopicil hy (hii chmniclcr instead of roppng him Hiukdri bul lh« 
boolc is an impQilanl one on nccounl of (ll« parages tcfcirlng lo Joha o 
Cnunt. whith arc riul found el>«whe're. 

■ " I'rili-ch tonic on Kanulplii llijiilen . . . with th« EnslUh tnndation oX 
John Tmiui," eil. Bitl]iti|[!un niiO Lutnl)]', RolU, 1865, 8 vols. 8*0. 

" S« above, p. 195, 

* "The bukc ufjobn M&uiitl«tiill, beinc the travclK-of .Sit Jghn Miir>devfllt« 
Knighl, 1311- 56, 1 hilhciio unpublisheil EngliJi vn^U'ii lium Uic uniijut copy 
(Eg. MS. I9ij>| in tiie British MiMcura. edited togflthet wiih Ihv French t«n.'* 



original text of the " Travels" was compiled in French by 
Jean dc Bourgognc, physician, usually called Jolin-with-the- 
Beard, "Joannc3-ad-Barbain." who wiotc various ircalises, 
one ill particular on the plague, in 1365, who died at Licgc 
in 1372, and was buried in the church of the Guillcmina, 
where his tomb was still to be seen at the time of the 
French Revolution,' John seems to have invented the 
character of MandeviLIc as Swift invented Gulliver, and 
Defoe Robinson Crusoe. Now that his imposture is dis- 
covered, the least we can do is to acknowledge his skill : 
for five centuries Europe has believed in Mandeville, and 
the merit is all the greater, seeing that John-with-the- Beard 
did not content himself with merely making his hero travel 
to a desert island ; that would have been far too simple. 
No, he unites beforehand a Crusoe and a Gulliver in one ; 
it is Crusoe at Brobdingnag ; the knight comes to a land 
of giants ; he does not see the giants, it is true, but he 
sees their sheep (the primitive sheep of Central Asia); else- 
where the inhabitants feed on serpents and hiss as serpents 
do ; some men have dogs' faces ; others raise abnvc their 
head an enormous foot, which serves them for a parasol. 
Gulliver was not to behold anything more strange. Still the 
whole was accepted : with enthusiasm by the readers of the 
Middle Ages 1 with kindness and goodwill by the critics 

by G. F. Warner; Westminticr. RoxbuT^ilie Oub. 1^9. fol. In the intrn. 
duciion will be found the leries or proors mublishing Th« fsci: ihsi Mumlevjlte 
never exiMcd ; the chain «rrm« nnw mmjilelP, oning to a tufircuion of di*' 
covctits, ihOK especially of Mr. E. U. Nicholson, of the Budleiati, Oxford 
{Of. an Mlicic of K. C»rdicr in ihc Jtevut Critifiu of Oct. 36, 1891)- A 
nitlcal edition of the Ficnch icict i* hcin£ prcpated by (he SocKlrf dc» .^ncicIW 
Textrt. The I\ne1wli tnTi«Ution wu nude after 1^77, au<l lutke tcviied in 
the iKginninf- of ibe lifi««nih eentiiry. On the poaiagca boriowed fram 
" MKii'lvvillr " by Chmtinc de Piain, in her " Chcmin de long Eitude,'* »«■ 
in " Romunia." vol. xxi- p. 231), ao article by Mr. Toyabee. 

■ The chutch and ib depeadendes were utd «iil demulUhed in 1798 : 
" Adju]!^t le 13 niv(>»c an v\.. ft la mtfenne ipoMc, } ■ } ■ Fabry, jiouf 4&.000 
fmm." Wamer, tiiti., p. xiiiii. 



of our lime The most obvious lies were excused and even 
justified, and the success of the book was such that there 
remain about three hundred manuscript copies of it, 
whereas of the authentic travels of Marco Polo tlicr« 
exist only seventy-five. "MandcviUc" had more than 
twenly-five editions in the fifteenth century and Marco 
Polo only five.* 

Nothing, indeed, is more cleverly persuasive than the 
manner in which Jean de Bourgogne introduces his hero. 
He is an honest man, somewhat nal\'e and credulous 
perhaps, but one who does not lack good reasons to justify 
if need be his credulity ; he has read much, and does not 
hide the use he makes of others' journals ; he reports 
what he has seen and what others have seen. For his aim 
is a. practical one ; he wants to write a guide book, and 
receives information from all comers, The information 
somctimt-s is very peculiar; but Pliny is the authority: 
who shall be believed in if Pliny is not trusted ? After a 
description of wonders, the knight takes breathing time 
and says : Of course you won't believe me ; nor should I 
have believed myself if such things had been told me, and 
If I had not seen them. He felt so sure of his own 
honesty that he challenged criticism ; this disposition 
was even one of the causes why he had written in French : 
"And know you that T should have turned this booklet 
into Latin in order to be more brief: but for the reason 
that many understand better romance," that is French, 
"than Latin. I wrote in romance, so that ever>-body will be 
able to understand it, and that the lords, knights, and 
other noblemen, who know little Latin or none, and have 
been over the sea, perceive and understand whether I 
speak truth or not And if I make mistakes in my narra- 
tive for want of memory or for any cause, they will be 
able to check and correct me : for things seen long ago 




may be forgotten, and man's memor/ cannot embrace and 
keep everything." * 

And so the sail is spread, and being thus amply supplied 
with oratorical precautions, our imaginary knight sets out 
on his grand voyage of discovery through the books of his 
closet Having left St. Albans to visit Jerusalem, China, 
the country of the five thousand islands, he journeys and 
sails through Pliny, Marco Polo, Odoric de Pordenone,» 
Albert d'Aix, William 'of Boldensele, Pierre Comestor, 
Jacques de Vitry, bestiaries, talcs of travels, collections of 
fables, books of dreams, patching together countless 
marvels, but yet. as he assures us, omitting many so as not 
to weary our faith : It would be too long to say all ; "y 
scroit trop longc chose b. tot deviser." With fanciful 
wonders arc mingled many real ones, which .served to make 
the rest believed in, and were gathered front well-informed 
authors ; thus Mandcvtilc's immense popularit>* served at 
least to vutgari.'ie the knowledge of some curious and true 
facts. He describes, for example, the artificial hatching of 
eggs in Cairo ; a tree that produces " wool " of which 
clothing is made, that is to say the cotton-plant ; a country' 
of Asia where it is a mark of nobility for the women to 
have tiny feet, on which account they are bandaged in 
their infancy, that they may only grow to half their natural 
size : the magnetic needle which points out the north to 
mariners ; the country of the five thousand islands 

' "Bt nchioaqiae JCCUMC ceittivrel mUcfilUin pour pluibrichnrnt deviser, 
nutb pour ce que pluaeun cniciKknt miex (ounuuit 4U< Ulin, j'c fny mis en 
routnant p)u quojr que cha^nin I'cnttrKlc. ci que In Migncun el Ic* chev&lcn 
el \ti autTM nol>ln hommes qui nc nceveni puini dc iMin iiu puu, qui onl e>t^ 
aaltrc met atchent el enientlenc •« je dii vaii ou (lor ei t« j^ «rre en devlum 
p«ui non Kiuwi;nftncr ou auireniciii que il le puiuent »At«eiti «t unender, ai 
chooCS dc lone lemp* paiein pur la vcuc lautnent en •M\>\i rt m^nKiir* d'onme 
or puci loul mie rctcnii nc cumptcndTc." MS> U- 5637 in die Nuional LUmrr, 
Puu. fo]. 4, fou-ncmth century. 

• On Odoric ftfld ManilevUle. «se H- CordJer, " Odorie de PondtoiMw," 
Pan*. 1891, Ittttoducuon. 



(Oceania) ; the roundness of the earth, which is such tFit 
tlie inhabitants of the Antipodes have their feet directly 
opposite to ours, and yet do not fall off into space any 
more than the earth itself falls there, though of much 
greater wciyht. People who start from their own country, 
and sail always in the same direction, finally reach a land 
where their native tongue is spoken : they have come back 
to their starting-point. 

In the Middle Ages the English were alrcady- 
sionately fond of travels; Higden and others had. as 
been seen, noted this trait of the national character. This 
account of adventures attributed to one of their com- 
patriots could not fail therefore greatly to please them ; 
they delighted in Mandevi lie's book ; it was speedily 
translated,' soon became one of tlic classics of the Knglish 
languzigc, and served, at the time of its appearance, to 
vulgarise in England the use of that simple and easy- 
going prose of which it was a mode! in its day, the best 
that had been seen till thcn.> 

Various scientific and religious treatises were also written 

* A put of it was even put Into vcrK: "TIic Cwnmijoync of ^vt John 
Manilcvi.Itc and llit: gict ^oiidcn ; " in " Kcmains of the csily papuUr I'oetiy 
of Enijland." cd. Hailitl, London, 1864. 4 \db.. Svo, »oL i. p. 15$. 

* H«>e is n s|tcCTmen of thli siyk- : ii ia (hi- melAnelioly end of th« work, m 
which the woif)* Inivicllcr rcsiyiiH Imnsclf, like RobiiiMiii CmsOc, l<> rp^i at 
luti "And I John MaundGvilki kn/ghtc abovcscyii (allc chouKhc I bca 
unworthi) thaldcpKriccI from aucc cnniieci and poMcd ilic sec the ycM of ETOCt 
I3>3, ihat have \iaisKA many luniln am) nmny ulniind cuniiees. and ccrcbed 
manye fullo siraungc plnces, And have ben iu many a fullc gode booournbte 
conipdnye and at ninny > fairc-dcde of lunid (n-llc IkIi ihel I didc none ta,y lelf, 
fur myn unable inmlTi.iancc) now I am t^incii hum (nia'n^rc ray Mrlf) tu rcstc t 
fur (•owta anctykcs, that lue diitrt-yiicn, tliu iliffyncn the entic of my Inl>our, 
•ecnsl my will* (Gnd knowelhe). And Ihiit takyngc «ilacp in my wtecrrd 
re&te, recordyngc the (yra-c ptisxeil, I have fu11ilie<l ihel^ ihini;u act] puiie 
hem wiylcn in IhU bokc, as il unjldc come in to my myndc, Ihc yo»i of gnice 
I J56 In the 34 ycci ilukt I dcgiaiiede from oure coniicoi. Wcrforc 1 pfvyc to 
alk Ihc rcdcfcf nnd hcieicii of this hokc, yif it picsc hctn that chei vrolde prcycn 
lo God fat me, and I tcholle prcyc fot hem." Ed. Halliwell, Lonilon. II 
BvB, p, 315. 








41 S 

in prose ; those of Richard RuUc, hermit of Hampole, 
couiiL iirnongst the oldest and most remarkable.' Wc owe 
several to Chaucer ; they pass unnoticed in the splendour 
ol his other works, and it is only fair they should. Chaucer 
wrote in prose his talc of the p.irson, and hi-t tale of Mcli- 
bcuB, both taken from the French, his translation of 
Boethitis, and his treatise on (he Astrolabe. His prose is 
laboured and heavy, sometimes obscure ; he, whose 
poetical .simile*; are so brilliant and graceful, comes to 
write, when he handles prose, such phrases as this : " And, 
right by ensaumple as the sonne is hid whan the stcrrcs ben 
clustrcd (that is to scyn, whan .stcrres ben covered with 
cloudes) by a swiftc windc thathightc Chorus, and that the 
firmament stant derkcd by wetc ploungy cluudes, and that 
the stcrrcs nat appcrcn up-on hcvcnc, so that the night 
semeth sprad up-on erthe: yif thannc the wind that hightc 
Borias, y-sent out of the caves of the contree of Trace, 
bcteth this night (that is to scyn, chascth it a-wey, and 
discovcreth the closed day) : than shyneth Phcbus y-shakcn 
with sodein light, and »myteih with his hemes in mervelinge 
cycn."* Chaucer, the poet, in the same period of his life, 
perhaps in the same year, had expressed, as we have seen, 
the same idea thus : 

But right •• wh«n lh« lonnc sh)^rth bri|-hia 
In inarch that chaiuigctbi ofic KyatK hU fiicc, 
And Ihal a cltmd is |)Ul with utind to fliehie 
Which otn-ipr*.! th# tAnnc at im a (pace, 
A dnudj- lhau);hl g>n thontgh hir snulc pau. 
Thftt ovct-*praddc hic biightc IhoughUt alleJ 

Accustomed to poetry. Chaucer sticks fast in prose, thc^ 
lea.'it obstacle stops him ; he needs the blue paths of the ■ 
air. High-flying birds are bad walkers. / 

' Sec abovTi p. *■&■ 

• " Boeiliius." in " CompWc Works," toL iL p. & 

» "TtoiluN"' II. loa See above, p. 306. C/. BOeoe's " De Come- 
Utio^Dc," Mclriim III. 




Under a dilTcreiit form, however, prose profjresscd in 
England during the course of the fourteenth century. 
This form is the oratorical. 

The England of Chaucer and Langland, that poetical 
England whose prose took so long to come to shape, was 
already, as we have seen, the parliamentary En|>Iand that 
has continued up to this day. She defended her interests, 
bargained with the king, listened to- the speeches, some- 
times very modest ones, that the prince made her, and 
answered by remonstrances, sometimes very audacious. 
The affairs of the State being even then the affairs of all, 
every free man discussed them ; public life had developed 
to an extent with which nothing in Europe could be 
compared ; even bondmen on the day of revolt were 
capable of assigning themselves a well-determined goal, 
and working upon a plan. They destroy the Savoy 
35 a means of marking their disapprobation of John 
of Gaunt and his policy; but do not plunder it, so 
as to prove they are 6ghting for an idea : " So that the 
whole nation should know they did nothing for the love of 
lucre, death was decreed against any one who should dare 
to appropriate anything found in the palace The in- 
numerable gold and silver objects there would be chopped 
up in small pieces with a hatchet, and the pieces thrown 
into the Thames or the sewers ; the cloths of silk and gold 
would be torn. And it was done so."' 

Many eloquent speeches were delivered at this time, 

' "El ul pitrM'erct toiiu* icgni cominunitaii cik non tcipcclu >varitiK 
quicqunm faccrc, prockmnri frrciunt \\Ai (keiu dccolUiionU, ne ((uu pissu- 
iricrct aliquid vd aliqua jLidcni rtperts ad proprios usui servanda CMitingcrc, 
ted lit <nua nurea et argcnrra, quie ibi cojiiCKn hnbelxiniut, cum lecaribua 
minutattm canfrin^crcnt ci in Tanvbitini vel in clMcas pro)iccir«nt. panoos 
kUKOS ct boIoMrinyi diWenrcnt. ... El fiuluin CA ila." W^n^^hain, 
" Hutoria AnKlica"**." ^wl. i. p- 45* (Rolls). 

PROSE. 41^ 

vanished woTds, the memory of which is lost; the most 
impassioned, made on heaths or in forest glades, are only 
known to us by their results ; these burning words called 
armed men out of the earth. These speeches were in 
English ; no text of them has been handed down to us; 
of one, however, the most celebrated of all, we have a 
Latin summary; it is the famous English harangue made 
at Blackhcath, by the rebel priest, John Ball, at the time 
of the taking of London.* 

Under a quieter form, which might already be called the 
" parliamentary " form, but often with astonishing boldness 
and eloquence, public interests are discussed during this 
century, but nearly always in French at the palace of 
Westminster. There, documents abound ; the Rolls of 
Parliament, an incomparable treasure, have come down to 
us, and nothing is easier than to attend, if so inclined, a 
session in the time of the Plantagcncts. Specimens of 
questions and answers, of Government speeches and 
speeches of the Opposition, have been preserved. More- 
over, some of the buildings where these scenes took place 
still exist to-day." 

■ " Ad 1e Blakchctli, ubi duccnta mitlia communium fuete timul congRg^te 
hujuMemodi tccmonrm cM motsuH : 

Wlwnn Adam dolfc and Eve >pna 
Who vu ilianne a kcqUI initu ? 

CootfauMlnqiW Mnnonem inccpium. nitebatur. pet vertn proverbii quod pro 
^^l^m■t^ pimpKnt, iniioiliirrTc e( piobaie, ab iiJiia oaine^ puiM cieatiK a 
tUUDta, mvitotem pet jnjuitam oppieuionem ncjuam hniiiinum iiittodiiciam, 
conlts volonlaiem Dei ; q»is a Deo placiuiiel lerroa ctcomc utitjucin prin-cipio 
mundi contitiuUtet quia soviu, quisvc dtjminus fuiunii fuiu*;!." I^ei tlicm 
thcrcluic desiiny nobles and lawyers ai the good hu-vlnnduun teats up lh« 
w#<di in hia field : thui shall Iilictt)' and niuolity ivign ; " Sic dcmutn . . . 
*9M1 in(«T tm sfqua libenu. par digriiiw. timiliique poiettaa." '• Chuinieon 
Angliie," cd. Maunde Thvtniiwn (K4Ut)i 1S74, 8va, p. 3ai ) WdMni;iuun, 
vol. it. p, 32. 

* " Roiuli PailiiimeiilMuiii. ut et pclilionet «t pUrita in Piiliarnento." 
London, 7 volt. To), (one volume conUuni the index). 


ms ENGLlSff. 

First of all, and before the opening of the se^ 
"general proclamation" was read in the great 
Westminster, that hall built by William Rufus, the wood- 
work of which was replaced by Richsrd II., and that has 
been lately cleared of its cumbrous additions.' ThM^ 
proclamation forbids each and all tg come to the plaeV^ 
where Parliament sits, "armed with hoquctons, armor, 
swords, and long kntvc:^ or other sorts of wcapon.-i ; " for 
such serious troubles liavc been the rcsjlt of this wearing 
of arms that business has been impeded, and the members 
of Parliament have been "cflTrcictE," frightened, by these 
long knives. Then, descending to lesser things, the pro- 
clamation goes on to forbid the strcct-boj'S of London to 
play at hidc-.ind-seck in the palace, or to perform tricks on 
the passers-by, such as '' to twitch off (heir hoods *' for 
instance, which the proclamation in parliamentary style 
terms improper games, "jucs nicnt covenables." But as 
private liberty should be respected as much as pcjssiblc. 
this prohibition is meant only for the duration of the 
session," ^H 

On the day of the opening the king repairs to the plac^^^ 
of the sittings, where he not unfrcquently finds an empty 
room, many of the members or of the " great " having been 
delayed on the way by bad weather, bad roads, or other 
impediments.' Another day is tlien fixed upon for 
solemn opening of the business. 

All being at last assembled, the king, the lords spiritua 
and i-emporal and the Commons, meet together in 
"Painted Chamber." The Chancellor explains the caus 
of the summons, and the questions to be discussed. Thii 

' Kichaid reuorcd Ji rniirrlr> end cmplnK^t] English muter nuxkni,^ 
*■ Rirhifd Washbonrn " «nd "Johnn Hwalwe." TUe iiulenture it of MatdiJ 
i8, 1395 i iKe lexl of it istn Rymer, 1705, »ol, vii. p. 79+. 

' " RiMuli ParliftioentoniTO," vol. Li. p. 103. 

> Ex. t} Ed. lit.. 17 Ell. IIL, " Koiuli ParliaTncnWrum." vul. ii. ppk li 


41 S 

is an opportunity for a speech, and we have the text of 
a good many of them. Sometimes it is a simple, dear, 
practical discourse, enumerating, without any studtcd 
phrases or pompous terms, the points that are to be 
treated ; sometimes it is a flowery and pretentious oration, 
adorned with witticisms and quotations, and coimplimcnts 
addressed to the king, as is for instance the speech (in 
French) of the bishop of St. David's, Adam Houghton, 
Chancellor of England in 1377: 

■' Lords and Gentlemen, I have orders from my lord the 
Prince here present, whom God save," the youthful Richard, 
heir to the throne, "to expound the reason why this Parlia- 
ment was summoned. And true it \s that the wise suffer 
and desire to hear fools s»pcalc, as is affirmed by St Paul in 
his Epistles, for he saith : Libenttr su^ertis insipienlts aim 
sitis ifsi sapienlfs. And in as much as you arc wise and 
I am a fool. I understand that you wish to hear me speak. 
And another cause there is, which will rejoice you if you 
are willing to hear me. For the Scripture saith that c\'ery 
messenger bringing glad tidings, must be always welcome ; 
and I am a messenger that bringeth you good tidings, 
wherefore I must needs be welcome." 

All these pretty things are to convey to them that the 
king, Edward III., then on the brink of the grave, is not 
quite so ill, which should be a cause of satisfaction for his 
subjects. Another cause of joy, for everything seems to be 
considered as such by the worthy bishop, is this illness 
itself; " for the Scripture saith: Ques diligo eastigo,vi\v\<M 
proves that God him loves, and that he is blessed of God." 
The king is to be a " vessel of grace," vas eUtlionis.^ The 
Chancellor continues thus at length, heedless of the fact 
that the return of Alice Ferrers to the old king belies his 
Biblical applications. 

Simon Sudbury, Archbishop of Canterbury, who was to 
' " Rofuli Parliamoninnim," vol. ti. p. 361 . 



die such a dreadful death, from the eighth blow of the 3X«v1 
after having tost the hand which he carried to the fiistl 
wound, spoke in much the same st>'le- He opened illi 
these tcnns the first parliament of Richard II. : 

" Rex tuus vtmt tibi. — Lords and Gentlemen, the 
which I have spoken signify in French : Your king comes 
to thee. — And thereupon, the said archbishop gave several 
good reasons agreeing with his subject, and divided his 
said subject in three parts^ as though it had been 

In truth it is a sermon ; the Gospel is continually quoted, 
and serves for unexpected comparisons. The youthful 
Richard has come to I'arliament, justas the Blessed Virgin 
went to see St. Elizabeth ; the joy is the same : " Et «*■- 
nitavit infafis in uiero ejus" ' 

Fortunately, all did not lose themselves in such flowery 
mazes. William Thorpe, William of Sharcshull, William 
of Wykeham, John Knyvet, &c., make business-like 
speeches, simple, short, and to the point: " My Lords, and 
you of the Commons," says Chancellor Knyvet, "you well 
know how after the peace agreed upon between our lord 
the King and his adversaries of France, and openly 
infringed by the latter, the king sent soldiers and nobles 
across the sea to defend «j, which they do. but arc hard 
premised by the cneAiy. If they protect us, we must help 

The reasoning is equally clear In Wykeham's speeches, 
and with the same skill he makes it appear as if the 
Commons had a share in all the king's actions: "GentlemeD, 

* "Sciencura cC Sirei, en puolcs qc j'ay dUl som Unt i dire en Fnnceyx, 
vcMitc Roi vient i lo)-." l6iJ., vol. iii. p. 3. A ip«cch of the anic kind 
adorncil with puni wu rtiad^ b/ Thomns Arundel. Aiclibiihop of Canterbury, 
(o open ih« fint Pailiaraent of Hcnrjr IV. ; '■ Cc«l honoraMe roulma d'An^- 
(ene <|'e»t \t pluU liabund«nt Angte d« richow pKiny lout le monde, urait 
aiie par Iddkc icmp* mnrtc, rculct et E^'vemei pu enliiRti ct coiueU de 
vtfvn. . , ,° lyn, {M., p. 415. 




you well know how, in the last Parliament, the king, with 
your aiHSent. again took the title of King of France. . . ." ' 

These speeches being heard, and the "receivers" and 
"triers" of petitions having been appointed," the two 
houses divided, and deliberated apart from each other ; the 
Lords retired " to the White Chamber"; the Commons 
remained "in the Painted Chamber." At other times" the 
said Commons were told to withdraw by themselves to 
their old place in the Chapter House of Westminster 
Abbcy."^ that beautiful Chapter House sttll in existence, 
which had been built under Henry Ul. 

Then the real debates began, interrupted by the most 
impa-tsioned speeches. They were not reported, and only 
a faint echo has reached us. Traces of the sentiments 
which animated the Commons are found, however, in 
the petitions they drew up, which were like so many 
articles of the bargains contracted by ihem. For they did 
not allow themselves to be carried awa.y by the eloquent 
and tender speeches of the Government orators ; they were 
practical and cold-blooded ; they agreed to make conces- 
sions provided concessions were made to them, and they 
added an annulling clause in case the king refused: "In 
case the conditions arc not complied with, they shall not 
be obliged to grant the aid." 4 The discussions are long 

' *' Rotuli Pnttkmentnntm.'* Sp««ch of Kn)-vet, ral. u. p. Jiti ; of Wyk*- 
h»m, vd. il p. 303. ThU Mmc Knyvei ofwm ihe Uood I'arllament of 1376 
by A speech e<|<uillf foicibte- He Ix-'luu^ril Iv Ilie uii*|'iirlnicy, mii! <*ii«|;ii:»lly- 
rcspccicd i he died in 13S1 . 

* Ex : " Item, mcismr le jour ((ktl Is to wy the da^ on which the genenti 
l>focl&maiion Ma,t readf fui (kit <xne eric qe chescun (ji vodra meiETC petition fc 
noitte icigDcuf U Km ct k ion coni-cil, lo meii« eiiire cy el 1« lundy pioclietn 
k vcnvr. . ■ . Et sccront Mai|[iic( lic iccdvic la p^titionit . • . lev wiuncritL" 
JbiJ.. vol. ii. p. 13S' 

) Jh'd., vol. ii. pp. ij6, i6j. "Fuc dit i l«i dils Communet de par le 
Roy, q'ilt M TUitaiaMcnt par wm t, lourionficnr pkre on la tnaison rtu chapiire 
de I'abbeyc d< Wcttni', ct y tietasKnt ct caiucilluKnt entie en* meitnica." 

* Vol. ii. p. 107, second PuLkmcni »r 1339. 




and minute in both houses ; members do not meet for] 
form's sake ; decisions are not hghtly taken : " Of which 
things," we read in the Rolls, " they treated at length."' 
In another case, the Commons, from whom a ready-made 
answer was expected, announce that "they wish to talk 
together," and they continue to talk from the 24th of 
January to the 19th of February." Only too glad was the 
Government when the members did not declare "that they 
dare not assent without discussing the matter with the 
Commons of their shire," 3 that is to say, without consulting 
their constituents. And this they do, though WiUiam de 
la Pole and others, sent " by our lord the king from thence 
(that is from France} as envoys," had modestly explained 
the urgency of the case, and " the cause of the long stay the 
king had made in these aforesaid parts, without riding 
against his enemies,"* this cause being lack of money. 

When the Commons have at last come to a decision, 
they make it known in the presence of the Lords through 
the medium of their Speaker, or, as he was called in the 
French of the period, the one who had the words for 
them ; "Qui avoit les paroles pur les Communes d'Engle- 
terre en cest Parlcmcnt."5 In these replies especially, and 
in the petitions presented at the same time, are found traces 
of the vehemence displayed in the Chapter House: The 

' "lb treiircni longtment," Hid., a. p. 104. 

■ " Sur qucle demDnKifunce tl tcspuuticlieitl <i'jl voleient p*rler «nt«inbl« M 
Ireler nir o»t bosoignc. . . . Siirijiid botoigne ecax d* b Commune d*mor^ 
leni de louf respom doner t»iii qc i Sftn>«di, Ic XIX. jffui de Fcvercr.** aj>. 
>339> " Roiuli PMliaiucniuium," vot. li. p. 107. 

' " n* n'moroni ssscntjt lutt qu'ilt eutscni coni«i1lci et atrym letCoBa> 
munen ile loui paiK." They prmnite la da Then heii 10 peTiiuade theif coosti- 
tuenu. A.D. 1339 ; " KoluU Pfttliamcnlonim," vol. ii. p. 104. 

• " Et Ie9 nuncia aujii U oauK lic lit lou^c dcmme ijuele il nvoic bite a 
ditcs parties Hunt ehivauctier sui net cncniy« ; ci coment 11 Ic corrnilta (aire 
piir dcfautc d"»i'oir." '• Kotuli Parliaraenloiutn," vol. ji. p. 10^ first I'axlia. 
ment af 1539. 

> 51 Ed III., '*Rotuli PHliasicntonim," ii. f. 374. 



boldness of the answers and of the remonstrances is extra- 
ordinary, and from their tone can be conceived with what 
power and freedom civil eloquence, of which England has 
since produced so many admirable specimens, displayed 
itself, ei'en at that distant epoch. 

The most remarkable case is that of the Good Parlia* 
ment of 1376, in which, after having deliberated apart, the 
Commons join the other house, and by the mouth of their 
Speaker, Peter de la Mare, bring in their bill of complaints 
against royalty : " And after that the aforesaid Commons 
came to Parliament, openly protesting that they were as 
willing and determined to help their noble liege lord , . , 
as any others had ever been, in any time past . . . But 
they said it seemed to them an undoubted fact, that if their 
liegc lord had always had around him loyal counsellors 
and good officers . . . our lord the king would have been 
very rich in treasure, and therefore would not have had 
such great need of burdening his Commons, either with 
subsidy, talliagc, or otherwise. ..." A special list of 
grievances is drawn up against the principal prc^-aricators ; 
their names are there, and their crimes ; the king's mis- 
tress, Alice Ferrers, is not forgotten. Then follow the 
petitions of the Commons, the number of which is 
cnurmous, a hundred and forty in all, in which abuses are 
pointed out one by one.> 

' " Rotuli Parlitmentorum," vol. ii. p. 333. Thii cpeeeh created ■ gtefti 
KUi another a.tMly%is of it exisU in .ihc '' Chtonicon Anf;lioG" (wniten \rf a 
monk of Si. Allmns, ihr alitmi of which, Thoma* dc !■ Mate, iM in Parlii- 
inent): "Qux oniniu fciit^i miuariiiniter [pl«bs conniuDnU) ii duminus rex 
Tinstw sivc rcgnum i&lnd rxindp aliqiiid comnir>di vcl eBiolumenli ;un|MiM« 
vidcieCut ; «tisin picki lolcrAltilc, li in cxpcdirndis tcbiu Iwllicis, quainvU 
(^lis tniiiMs pnwpne, tsoia p«cuDia. [uiuei cxpcnn. Scd p»kiti ot, oec 
rcsemconinioilum. nee tcKi"i" " hacfructumaliqucm perctpitoc. . . . Non 
eniin est crcdihilc rcgcm carcrc mitniu ihmuri (|uanuinle ti Hdcle» (uerint qal 
ministrafit ri" (p. 73). The drift of the tpc«ch is, uiniiy be teen, rsaeily the 
tanic M in the K0IU of I'ailinjncnl. Anothei ipecimen ol pithy eloquence will 
be found in the Aposltophc aiUrewcd tv the Eul of Staffurd bjr John ['hilpai, 
a mciocr of London, afici hi* naval feat of 1378. itiJ., p. 3oa 



Formerly, say the Commons, " bishoprics, as well ss 
other benefices of Holy Church, used to be. after true 
elections, in accordance with saintly considerations and 
pure charity, assigned to people found to be worthy of 
clerical promotion, men of clean life and holy behaviour, 
whose intention it was to 5tay on their benefices, there to 
preach, visit, and shrive their parishioners. . . . And so 
long as these good customs were observed, the realm was 
full of all sorts of prosperity, of good people and loyal, 
good clerks and clcn^', two things that always go together. 
. . ." The encroachments of the See of Rome in England 
arc, for all right-minded people, "great subject of sorrow 
and of tears." Cursed be the " sinful city of Aviynon," 
where simony reigns, so that "a sorry fellow who knows 
nothing of what he ought and is worthless " will receive a 
benefice of the value of a thousand marc*, " when a doctor 
of decree and a master of divinity will be only too glad to 
secure some little benefice of the value of twenty marci.'* 
The foreigners who arc given benefices in England "will 
never sec their parishioners . . . and more harm is done 
to Holy Church by such bad Christians than by all the 
Jews and Saracens in the world. ... Be it again remcnn-^ 
bcrcd that God has committed hts Rock to the care of our 
Holy Father the Tope, that they might be fed and not 
shorn."' The Commons fear nothing; neither king norl 
Pope could make them keep silence. In their mind the 
idea begins to dawn that the kingdom is theirs, and the 
king too ; they demand tliat Richard, heir to the throne,] 
shall be brought to them ; they wish to see him ; and he vs\ 
shown to them.' 

In spite of the progress made by the English language, 
French continued to be used at Westminster. It remained 
as a token of power and an emblem of authority, just as 
modern castles arc still built with towers, though not meant 

' " Rotuli Paflinmtnltwum," ii. pp. 3J7 ff. * June ^%, I JJ*. 



to be defended by cannon. It was a sign, and this sign 
has subsisted, since the formula by wliich the law's are 
ratified is still in French at the present time, English, 
nevertheless, began to make an appearance even at West- 
minster. From 1363,' the opening speeches are sometimes 
in English ; in 1399, the English tonyue was used in the 
chief acts and discourses relating to the deposition of 
Richard. On Monday, the 29th of September, the king 
signed his act of resignation ; on the following day a 
solemn meeting of Parliament took place, in presence of 
all the people, in Westminster Hall ; the ancient throne 
containing Jacob'sstonc, brought from Scotland by Edward 
I^ and which can still be Hccn in the abbey, had been 
placed in the hall, and covered with cloth of gold, "cum 
pannis auri." Richard's act of resignation w.i<; re^d " first 
in Latin, then in English," and the people showed their 
approbation of the same by applause. Henry then came 
forward, claimed the kingdom, in English, and seated him- 
self en the throne, in the rnidst of the acclamations of 
those present. The Archbishop of Canterbury delivered 
an oration, and the new king, speaking again, offered his 
thanks in English to " Ciod, and yowc Spiriluel and Tem- 
porel, and alle the Astalcsof thelond."' There is no more 
memorable sign cf the changes that had taken place than 

' The Npccch of tliis year wu mudc "en Engld*>" bjr Simon, luahop of 
Ely: but Ihc Rolk give only a French vcnion of it: "Le p(0|)heL David <liL 
que . . ." Ac, vol. il. p. 1*3. 

' "Sum, I thank God, luid yowc Spiritnel And Tcinporel vtiA aUe the 
A*t»tC( of the lundi ; and du yuwc to wytc, il o nu^hl my will that du uiiul 
ihynk y' be wayc of conqunit I wold diilicrit aiiy man of hi& heritage, friinchcs, 
OT othrt tyEhld that hym B;;ht to have, no piil hym out of itial lh»t he hnii and 
has had by the gade lawes uid ciuiumct of the Hcwme : IC»cept tho» peraotu 
thai htm I'tn agaii ihc gude purpOK and the ci'inmunc profyl al the Kewtnr." 
" Rotuli Parli&incmoruiR,'* voL iii. p. 43}. In ihc rificciiih century the Pu- 
liRtrieniBiy lionimcnii «e vrtiitcn loinciimct in French, wmcuinc* in Enj{li>h; 
French preilumioatn in the fifat ha]f of the cenlury, and Enyliih in ih ' 



the use made of the Enclish lan^agc on an occasion 
this, by a prince who had no title to the crown but 


All thMc translators were necessarily wanting" 
nality (less, however, than they need have been), and I 
these orators spoke for the matt part in French. In thi 
hands, Eng^Iish prose could not be perfected to a very h^ 
degree. It progressed, howe\*er, owing to them, but owil 
much more to an important personage, who made commi 
English his fighting weapon, John Wyclif, to whom tl 
title of "Father of English prose" rightfully belong 
now that MaudeviMe has dissolved In smoke. Wycl 

iLangland, and Chaucer are the three great figures i 
Knglish literature in the Middle Ages. 

Wyclif belonged to the rich and respected family of tl 
Wyclifs, lords of the manor of Wyclif, in Yorkshire.' ik 
was born about 1320, and devoted himself early to 
scientific and religious calling. He studied at Oxfon 
where he soon attracted notice, being one of those men < 
character who occupy from the beginning of their live 
without seeking for it, but being, as it seems, born to it, 
place apart, amid the limp multitude of men. The tur 
of his mind, the origina!it>* of his views, the firmness < 
his will, his learning, raised him above others ; he wa 
one of those concerning whom it is at once said the, 
are " some one ; " and several times in the course of hj 
existence he saw the University, the king, the countr 
even, turn to him when *' some one" was needed. 

He was hardly thirty-five when, the college of Balliol a 

• On Wyclif, family, see " The Biilh and PBrent^e of Wyclif," by L. Sfl 
gcuii, AfhttMum. MfiTch iiund i<>, 1S91. Thit iijiclling of hb name is ib 
one which apjmi* ofirncii in mnicniporary documenlB. (Note bjr F. Q 
Malihew, Atai/tmy, Jane T , iS»4.) 



Oxford having lost its master, he was elected to the post 
In 1366 Parliament ruled that the Pope's claim to the 
tribute promised by King John should no longer be recog- 
nised, and Wyclif was asked to draw up a pamphlet 
justifying the decision.' In 1 374 a diplomatic mission was 
entrusted to him, and he went to Bruges, with several other 
"ambassatorcs," to negotiate with the Pope's representa- 
tives." He then had the title of doctor of divinity. 

Various provincial livings were successively bestowed 
upon him : that of Fillingham in 1361 ; that of Ludgars- 
hall in 136S; that of Lutterworth, in Leicestershire, in 
1374, which he kept till his death. He divided his time 
between his duties as rector, his studies, his lectures at 
Oxford, and his life in London, where he made several 
different stays, and preached some of his sermons. 

These quiet occupations were interrupted from time to 
time owing to the storms raised by his writings. But so 
great was his fame, and so eminent his personaiity. that he 
escaped the terrible consequences that heresy then involved. 
He had at first alarmed reh'gious authority by his political 
theories on the relations of Church and State, next on the 
reformation of the Church itself; finally he created ex- 
cessive scandal by attacking dogmas and by discussing 
the sacraments. Summoned the first time to answer in 
respect of his doctrines, he appeared in St. Paul's, in 1377, 
attended by the strange patrons that a common animosity 
against the high dignitaries of the Church had gained for 
him ; John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and Lord Henry 
Percy accompanied him. The duke, little troubled by 

' " Dctcrniinatio qucdain magutri Johannix WyclyfF de Dominio contis 
nnum moniithiim." The object q( Uut UealUe U lo sliow " quod Km jjotat 
jutre dominan Tugao Anglic Degand« tributum Romnno panli5ci." The lexl 
will be Jvond iu John Lvw'ib : " A Iiitton' "' 'be life uid «uReiing> of . . . 
John WJclif," I7ic\ reprinted Oxford, iSio, Svo, p. 349. 

■ " Ambas&AUires, QimciM et [Jiocu»iore* noMiM spcciaJes." Lewii, iiiJ.. 



scruples, loudly declared. In the middle of the church, 
he would drag the bishop out of the cathedral by the hair 
of his head. These words were followed by an indescri- 
bable tumult. Indignant at this insult, the people of the 
City drove the duke from the church, pursued him through 
the town, and laid siege to the house of John of Yprcs, a 
rich merchant with whom he had gone to sup. Luckily 
for the prince, the house opened on the Thames. He rose 
in haste, knocking his legs against the table, and, without 
stopping to drink the cordial offered him, slipped into_ 
B boat and fled, as fast as oars could carry him, to 
sister-in-law's, the Princess of Walc!!, at Kennington.' 
summoning of Wyclif thus had no result 

But the Pope, in the same year, launched against 
English theologian bulls pointing out ciyhleen erroneous" 
propositions contained in his writings, and enjoining that 
the culprit should be put in prison if he refused to retract 
The University of Oxford, being already a power at that 
time, proud of its privileges, jealous in maintaining soli^^ 
darity between its members, imbued with those ideas o^H 
opposition to the Pope which were increasing in England^ 
considered the decree a*! an excessive exercise of authority. 
It examined the propositions, and declared them to be 
orthodox, though capable of wrong interpretations, 
which account Wyclif should go to London and cxplai^ 

He is found, therefore, in London in the beginning of 

• All ih(*t deUiU are found in th» " Chrenieon Angluc," 1338-SS. tA. 
Maunde Thompson, KolU, 1874, 8vo, p- 113, one of the rue chronicle tbe_ 
MS. of whii-_ri was not expuifpicil. in whM relates lu John of Gaunt, u 
acceiaion of I he L.iTiculen. (Hn alKirc, p. 40C1 ) 

* ThiB exirenif leniency rstuml 111 indignation of nhirh .in echu is 
ift Wakingham : "Onooieme sludium fcnerale,'' he excloimx. "qoarn ^v^ 
UpfMKMpicDtLcel KientiK culiuiiK ii«cidisti ! .. . Pud«l leruidattonul 
impudent Ik, et idco aupcrxdco in husjusmodi raatcriA iiumoraii, dc niaic 
videif ubna dccerpcrc dcntibui. i)u:: ibrr lac, potiim uricniDC, contuev« 
**Hul«ria Anglicanti KoUi, vol. i. p- J4J, yvn \yf%. 



I3?S ; the bishops are assembled in the still existing 
chapel of Lambeth Palace. But by one of those singu- 
larities thai allow us to realise how the limits of the various 
powers were far from being clearly defined, it happened 
that the bishops had received positive orders not to con- 
demn Wyclif. The prohibition proceeded from a woman, 
the Princess of Wales, widow of the Black Prnce. The 
prelates, however, were spared the trouble of choosing 
between the Pope and the lady ; for the second time 
Wyclif was saved by a Hot ; a crowd favourable to his 
ideas invaded the palace, and no sentence could be given 
Any other would have appeared the more guilty ; he only 
lived the more respected. He was then at the height of 
his popularity ; a new pubEic statement that he had just 
issued in favour of the king against the Pope had confirmed 
his reputation as advocate and defender of the kingdom ol 

He resumed, therefore, in peace his work of destruction, 
and beyan to attack dogmas. Besides his writings and his 
speeches, he used, in order lo popularise his doctrines, his 
" simple priests," or " poor priests." who, without being 
formed into a religious order, imitated the wandering hTc 
of the friars, but not their mendicity, and strove to attain 
the ideal which the friars had fallen short of. They went 
about preaching from village to village, and the civil 
authority was alarmed by the political and rcljgiou:^ 
theories expounded to the people by these wanderers, 
who journeyed "■ from county to county, and from town to 

• Sec in the " FmKieuli Zunninnim tnnpMri Johannit Wyclif cnrn Iritifo," 
«!. Shirley, RoiU. ti$i, 8vo. pL 358 : ■' K«p(iii«D nii^^Elii |oh»niu» Wycclifl 
ad dubiuin infra Ktiptuni, i(umiiuiu ab co. (ki duiniiiuin letcni Ant^liic KicM- 
dum Mxrundum ct inA£nuiD Mitim con^iiiuiii iiniii] rr^iii iui piiniu." Itic puint 
to be eluciO.Tlcd m» the fDllaurins : " DithJum ea miuni r^^iLin Aii|:Iix pofiil 
legitime, iinminentc ncoocititte uur il«f«iuianU. ihcmurum re^i di'iinere, ne 
(lefeniturKd ctleru*, ■tt*m domtnu pupi tub ptcna c«iMurarum «l vittule ob«di- 
cnti« hoc pcicnie." 


town, in certain habits under dissimulation of great holi- 
ness, without license of our Holy Father the Pope, or of 
the ordinary of the diocese." » Wyclif justified these 
unlicensed preachings by the example of St. Paul, who,] 
after his conversion, " precchide fast, and axide noo Icve of j 
I'ctir hcrto, for he haddc leve of Jcsds Crist." * 

From this time forth Wyclif began to circulate on the 
sacraments, and c^spccially on the Kucharist. opinions that 
Oxford even was unable to tolerate; the University con- 
demned them. Conformably to his own theory, which 
tended, as did that of the Commons, towards a royal 
supremacy, Wyclif appealed not to the Pope but to the 
king, and in the meantime refused to submit This was 
carr^'ing boldness very far. John of Gaunt separates from 
his proUgi', Courtenay, bishop of London, calls together a 
Council which condemns Wyclif and his adherents ( 1 382) ; 
the followers are pursued, and retract or exile themselves ; 
but Wyclif continues to live in perfect quiet. Settled at 
Lutterworth, from whence he now rarely stirred, he wrote 
more than ever, with a more and more caustic and daring 
pen. The papal schism, which had begun in 137S, had 
cast discredit on the Holy See; Wyclif's work was made 
the easier by it. At last Urban Vt., the Pope whom 
England recognised, summoned him to appear in his 
presence, but an attack of paralysis came on, and Wyclif 
died in his parish on the last day of the year 13S4. 
"Organum diabolicura, hostis Ecclcsiae, confusio vulgi, 

■ "StaluCciof the Kuilm," J Rich. IL, tt. 2, daap. ;. Wxltiaehsin thus 
deicril>n them: '" Cunsrcgsvli , , , comiics . . . calarihus induios vcsiibtu 
de riuselo In iienum p«rfeclinni< ninpUoiU, itic^enio nudi« pcdiliiu. qoi caos 
errorti in pnpuin vcniilarent, et polaro oc jnilifli^c Ui luit wnnuiubiit piwdi- 
WCDt." " nUtoria Anglicnnn," lut •mne t^JJ, Kolli, vol. i. p. yi^ A 
wmilor de»ciiplbn » Tcrund Ithcy pc»f nt ilicintclvci, " bub magnx Moctiutis 
velumine," and prMch errors *' Um in ccclmit qunm in plnidi ci oliis lods 
ptxrbnii") in Ihr Icitd of Ihc Brchl>iihup of Ctnirrbury, of May iS, tj/ta, 
•• FtfiieaU," jt. S7S. 

• " Sdcct Enctuh Wo[lw,"ed. T. Arnold. Oxfucd, lS(9, vol L p. ij 



hxrcttconim idolum, hypocritarum speculum, schrsinatis 
incentor, odii scminator, mendacii fabricator " ' : such is 
the Tuneral oration inscribed in his annals, at this dale, by 
Thomas Wabingham, monk of St. Albans. By order of 
the Council of Constance, his ashes were afterwards thrown 
to the winds, and the family of the Wyclifs of Wyclif, 
firmly attached to the old faith, erased him from their 
genealogical tree. When the Reformation came, the 
family remained Catholic, and this adherence to the 
Roman religion seems to have been the cause of its decay ; 
" The last of the Wyclifs was a poor gardener, who dined 
every Sunday at Thorpe Hall, as the guest of Sir Marma. 
duke Tunstall, on the suength of his reputed descent"" 


Wyciif had begun early to write, using at first only 
Latin.^ Innumerable treatises of his exist, many of which 

' " KKturiB Anslicanii," RuUii, vol. il. p. 119. Elac where. In ancither Ktiu 
of uo Ha tiering t'|>lthels("old hypocriic," "aneclof Saian."&c-)i the chioruckr 
hod allowed himseif the pleaiurc of making « liille pun ii|ian Wyclifs nimi : 
" Nun nomi njindu* Jonnnci Wiclille, vel potiui WjUMrleve." Veftf 1581 
voL >. p. 4SO. 

• L. ^ergnnl. *' The Biith •nd I'ueniage of Wycli/^" in the Alhinaum of 
Mftrch II, 1893. 

' The Wyclif Society, founded in I^ontlon \r/ Dt. Fnniivnll, hu publiihtct a 
i^cil part of Ihe Latin worlcs of Wyclif -. " I'olcnuKal Works in Latin," cd. 
Ituddcnsicg, 1883, 8vo 1 "luiuiiiii Wytlif, Oc cumpuiitiviic Houiinia," ed. R. 
lietr. ]S&4 : " Tcncuiiu de civili Dominia . . . from ihc vnicguc MS. at 
Vienna," «d, K. Lant Poole, 1SS5 ff. : "Ttoclatu* de Eccletin." ed. Loierth, 
■ S86i " Diftlogui, lire tpeeulum Eecktie miliianiii," ed. A. W. Pollard, 
|8S6| "TTactaluidebcnedicU Iimniiilione,"«d. Hiniii, i$86 ; " Sermone*," 
ed. Loacnh and Matthew, 1887: "Tiacuius de oilido Kcxis," ed rollaid 
and SaylCi 1887 : " De Daoiinio divino liljii iiei. In which arc added the lirat 
four Uxiki of the Ireatlw * De pauperJe Salvsioiit,' by Richard Fitxrilpb. 
arehblilio]> of Armagh," rd. R. L. Poole. iSqq; " De Entn {nKrlLcameniah," 
ed- R. Beer, 1891 " Dc EuchorUlia iractalui maicii ; Kccedit ItacUtui dc 
Euuhaciiiia ct r<BnilCD(ia," ed. Lovcrth and Matthew, 1893. ifLaay oihen 
■re in prepBiotion. 

Among the Lttin woiks published ouimlo of the Society, see '* TncUttu de 




arc still unpublished, written in a Latin so incorrect and 
so English in its turn* that "often the readiest U'ay of 
unde^^(tanding an obscure passage is to translate it into 
English." ■ He obviously attracted the notice of his con- 
temporaries, not by the elegance of his style, but by the 
power of liis thought. 

His thought deserved the attention it received. His 
mind was. above all. a critical one, opposed to formula^!, 
to opinions without proofs, to traditions not justified by 
reason. Precedents did not overawe him, the mysterious 
authority of distant powers had no effect on his feelings. 
He liked to look things and people in the face, with a 
steady gar.c, and the more important the thing was and the 
greater the authority claimed, the less he felt disposed to 
cast down his eyes. 

Soon he wished to teach others to open theirs, and to 
see for themselves. By " others " he meant every one, and 
not only clerks or the great He therefore adopted the 
language of everj' one, showing himself in that a true , 
Englishman, a partisan of the system of free investigattoiit^H 
so dear since to the race. He applied this doctrine to all^^ 
that was then an object of faith, and step by step, passing 
rom the abstract to the concrete, he ended by calling for 
changes, very similar to those England adopted at the 
Refonnation, and later on in the time of the I'uritans. 

His .starting-point was as humble and abstract as his con> 
elusions were, some of them, bold and practical. A supers 

oflicio pMtorali," cil. Lcchlci. Leipiiu, i86j, 8vo ; "Trialogn* aim lupplc- 
mcnto Trialoui." ed. LmHIfi. Oxfonl. i86q. 8vo : " De Cbricio ei suo Ailwr. 
uH» Antichrislo," cd. R. Ruddcnuitg, Gotha, i8So, 410. Muiy dociiincnt* 
hy <iT ci'iKerninj VVydil B(e lo b« (uund in the " Kaiciculi Zicanioruni mt^ittri 
JoAnnis Wjxlif cum ctilico," ed. Shiiley, Kulh, iSjS, Svo (cnmpilcd liy Thomak 
N<ii«. fiftccnlti cciiiuryl. Sec »Iao Shirley. "A Cniiltiipie u( the Original 
\lat\.\ of John Wyclif," Oxfurd, 1865, Svo, ninl Maxndr ThaDipson, " Wj 
cliflTt Kihihiltnn in Ihe Kiog"» Liliiary," London, 11184. ***■'■>■ 

■ K. Lane I'wk, "WyclilTc ukd MoxciueiiU for Keroim,*' London, 18S9, 
Sim, p. 8j. 



human ideal had been proposed by St Francis to his dis- 
ciples ; they were to possess nothing, but birg their daily 
bread and help the poor. Such a rule was good for apostles 
and angels ; it was practised by men. They were not long 
able to withstand the temptation of owning property, and 
enriching themselves ; in the fourteenth ccntuiy Ihcir influ- 
ence was considerable, and iheir possessions immense. Thin 
subterfuges were resorted to in order to justify this change : 
they had only the usufruct of their wealth, the real i>roprietor 
being the Pope. Fron» that time two grave questions arose 
and were vehemently discussed in Christendom: What 
should be thought of the poverty and mendicit>' of Christ 
and his apostles ? What is property.and what is the origin 
of the power whence it proceedB ? 

In the first rank of the combatants figured, in the 
fourteenth century, an Englishman, Richard Fitzralph, 
archbishop of Armagh, " Armachanus," who studied the 
question of property, and contested the theory of the friars 
in various sermons and treatises, especially in his work : 
"De pauperic Salvatoris," composed probably between 1350 
and 1356." 

Wyclif took his starting-])oint from the perfectly orthodox 
writings of FitEralph, and borrowed from him nearly the 
whole of his great theory of " Dominium," or lordship, 
power exercised cither over men, or over things, domina- 
tion, property, possession. But he carried his conclusions 
much farther, following the light of logic, as was the custom 
of schools, without allowing himself to be hindered by the 
radicalism of the consequences and the material difficulties 
of the execution. 

The theorj' of" Dominium." adopted and popularised by 

' On this lieatiac, and an lh< use made tif ii Iry Wyclif, icc: ''Johaonit 
V/yclIITc Dc Donnnii) divino libri irci. T" which aic aildcil ihc Tint four 
book* nf ihc liealinc " Tlr iKHiix-iic SMvalorli.' I>y Richard Fiixnlpb." Ml. 
K. Lane Puolc, itj^. Tbe " lit Uuniiniu iliviriu." of Wydif, vivetns, to hats 
been wdtien aboW 1 j66 j. U& " Dc Dominio CinU," about 1^73. 




Wyclif. is an entirely feudal one. According to him, all 
lordship comes from God ; the Alinij^hty bestows it on 
man as a fief, in consideration of a scn'icc or condition : ^| 
the keeping of His commandments. Deadly sin breaks 
the contract, and deprives the tenant of his right to tlK 
fief; therefore no man in a state of deadly sin possesses 
any of the lordships called property, priesthood, royalty, 
magistracy. All which is summed up by Wyclif in his i 
proposition : any " dominium " has grace for its foundation. ^| 
By such a theory, the whole social order is shaken \ neither 
Pope nor king is secure on his throne, nor priest in his 
living, nor lord in his CKtate. 

The confusion is all the greater from the fact that s 
multitude of other subversive conclusions are appended to 
this fundamental theory : While sinners lose all lordship, 
the good possess all lordship ; to man. in a state of "gratia 
gratiticantc," belongs the whole of what comes from God ; 
*' in re habct omnia bona Dei." * But how can that be ? 
The easiest thing; in the world, replies Wyclif, whom 
nothing disturbs: all goods should be held in common, 
" Ergo omnia debcnt esse communia" " ; wives should be 
a-lone excepted. — The Bible is a kind of Koran in which fl 
everything is found ; no other law should be obeyed save i 
that one alone ; civil and canonical laws arc useless if they 
' agree with the Bible, and criminal if they are opposed 
to it.3 — Royalty is not the best form of government : an 
aristocratic system is better, similar to that of the Judges 
in Israel. •< — Neither heirship nor popular election is sufficient 

' " Qotltbel cxiueiu in eratU gratificaitle, (infllitet ncdum hibet ^us, sed in 
re habct omnU bona Il«." " Ue Dominb Civil*. " chap. >- |>. i. 

■ " De DcuniiiM Civili," ch«p. «lv. p. 96, chap. xrii. pp. llS I9a 

1 " Vel cHci lex iiupciitiltliiA in lege cviuif;cticB implicant, nl iinp«nmcn», 
»el tcpuermnt.*' " Dc Dotninin Civili," chap. xrii. 

■ The WOT1.I U the eccleiiiutiail rurm : " Peuimiini omnEnin mi quod peelati 
ceelMJe iecondiim tradlcionci umb imnisMant k ntgocoE el Milicitndtntbut 
cirilU do-miiiu." Cliap. xxviJ. p. [95. 


for the transmission of the crown ; grace is needed besides.' 
— The bequeathing to the Church of estates which will 
become mortmain lands is inadmissible ; " No one can 
transmit more rights than he possesses, and no one ts 
personally possessed of rights of civil lordship extending 
beyond the term of life."' — If the convent or the priest 
make a bad use of their wealth, the temporal power will 
be doing "a very meritorious thing" In depriving them 
of It^ 

The whole order of things is unhinged, and we are 
ncaring chaos. It is going so far that Wyclif cannot 
refrain from Inserting some of those slight restrictions 
which the logicians of the Middle Ages were fond of 
slipping into their writings. In time of danger this wa3 
the secret door by which they made their escape, turning 
away from the stake. Wyclif is an advocate of communism; 
but he gives to understand that it is not for now ; it is a 
distant ideal. After us the deluge! Not so, answer the 
peasants of 1381 ; the deluge at once: "Omnia debent 
esse communia 1 " 

If all lordship vanishes through sin, who shall be judge 
of the sin of others? All real lordship vanishes from the 
sinner, answered Wyclif, but there remains to him, by the 
permission of God, a power de /acta, that it is not given us 
to remove; evil triumphs, but with God's consent: the 
Christian must obey the wicked king and bishop: " Dcus 
debet obcdirediabolo."^ But the dissatisfied only adopted 
the 6r5t part ol the theory, and instead of submitting to 
Simon Sudbury, their archbishop, of whom they disap- 
proved, they cut off his head. 

These were certainly extreme and exceptional conse- 
quences, to which Wyclif only contributed in a slight 

■ Chip. XKX. p. ai3. * Chap. xxiv. p. 950. * Chap. kskvU. p. 20& 
* A coDckiion poinlv^ »ut «S lircctic&l by the kfchblthop of C»nl«rbii(y 
in his Icttci of (3S3. " Fudcdi," p^ Z78. 



measure. The lasting and permanent result of the 
doctrine was to strengthen the Commons of England in 
the aim they already had in view, namdy, to diminish 
the authority exercised over them by the Pope, and to 
loosen the lies that bound the kingdom to Roma Wyclif 
pointed out that, contrary to the theory of Boniface VIII. 
(bull " Unam Sanctam "), there docs not exist in this woHd 
one single supreme and unequalled sovereignty ; the Pope 
is not the sole depositary of divine power. Since all 
lordship proceeds from God, that of the king comes from] 
Him, as well as that of the Tope; kings themselves are 
"vikeris of God"; beside the Pope, and not below htm, 
there is the king.* 


The English will thus be sole rulers in their isU 
They must also be sole keepers of their consciences, 
for that Wyclif is to teach them free investigation. AU 
then, niu&t understand him: and he begins to write In 
English. His English works are numerous; sermons,, 
treatises, translations; they fill volumes." 

.Before ».\\ the Bonk of truth was to be placed in th« 
hands of everybody, so that none need accept without' 
cheek the interpretations of others. With the help of a 
few disciples, Wyclif began to translate the Bible int 

■bof J 

' *' Kingi* »><1 lonlii iirhukicn witc ihat thd hen mytiysirit and Tikcrte of 
Goil, lo vcn|;e lynnc and ]>on)'4cbe inyMluciia." " l^elecC Cngliih Works,' 
ed. Arnold, vol. iii. )v 214. 

' The principal Qn<» will be r^niiid in; T. AtnoI'd. "Select EnKl>*b W< 
nfjohn Wyclif."Oxfi>(tl, r869-7i,3 wis. Svo; F. D. Matilie*. "The CnglUti 
Work* of Wyclif. hiihrrio un[uinicd." Iv>ndon, Early Engli«h Text ^sociriy, 
iKSo, 8va. (Many uF Uie iiiecci iti tliis loul CDtlectinii arc not by Wyclif, bai 
itic Uie work of his followers. In the fim, loo, the auihcnlicity of aoaie of 
the piecn i» iloutilful.) Sec tlMi: " WyclylTv't Wyckcl, which h« idm1« in 
Kyng Richard's da.yi ihc ScronH (a famous KTiiiun un the £uchariu), 
NurcmlKig. 1546, 410 ; Oxrotd. eiL T, P. I'lniin, iSaS. 



English. To translate the Scriptures was not forbidden. 
The Church only required that the versions should be 
submitted to her for approval. There already existed 
3C\'eral. complete or partial, in various languages ; a com- 
plete one in French, written in the thirteenth century,* 
and several partial ones in English. Wyclifs version 
includes the whole of the canonical books, and even the 
apocryphal ones ; the Gospels appear to have been trans- 
lated by himself, the Old Testament chiefly by his disciple, 
Nicholas of Hereford. The task was an immense one, the 
need pressing ; the work suffered from the rapidity with 
which it was performed. A revision of the work of 
Nicholas was begun under Wyclif's direction, but only 
finished after his death." 

No attempt at elegance is found in this translation ; the 
language is rugged, and on that account the better adapted 
to the uncouthncss of the holy Word. Harsh though it be 
wc feel, however, that it is tending towards improvement ; 
the meaning of the words becomes more precise, owing to 
the necessity of giving to the sacred phrases their exact 
signification ; the effort is not always successful, but it is a 
continued one, and it is an effort in the right direction. It 
was soon perceived to what need the undertaking answered. 
Copies of the work multiplied in astonishing fashion. In 
spite of the wholesale destniction which waf ordered, there 
remain a hundred and seventy manuscripts, more or lefts 

■ S. BcrgCT, " La Bible«iK au moycn igc," Tiirtt, 18S4. p. iia Thi> 
venion wm circularcd in Kn|;litiid, and wu letuplcd by Enjjliih ccrilm; a 
cupy tincompletc) by an tjifliah hMid ii pr«serviMl in ih« Univ«nttj Libraiy tt 
Cambridge; P, Meya, " M5S. IdUifsit d* Cambiidgc," in " Ro.nuuj,*' 
1S86, p. 36s- 

• ■' Th* Holy Bible . . . made from the Laiin of ih» Viilgai*. by John 
Wyclifle and hii foUowew," ed. by J. Fonhall and Sir Fr»d. M.iddcn, QxiarA, 
1H30, 3 vol». 4ta. On Ibc shatt; «( Wjrcljf, llercfard, Sec., in ihc worli, ie4 
(ip. »i, avi. Km, xs, «iv. Cf. Maundc Th(imp»oi», " Wyelilfc Eihibiiion," 
Lvndim. 1884, p. xviiL The tint vcniun wns pio1»bly Gniahcd In 1382, the 
wooml in T588 (by tbe CBr« of Juhe Purvey, a dltciptc and Iriend of Wyclif). 




complete, of Wyclifs Bible. For some time, it is true, th( 
copying of it had not been opposed by the ecclesiastical 
authority, and the version was only condemned twenty-lour 
years after the death of the author, by the Council of 
Oxford.' In the England of the Plantagcncts could be 
fofEseen the England of the Tudors, under whom three 
hundred and twcnty-^ix editions of the Bible were printed 
in less than a century, from 1525 to 1600. 

But Wyclifs greatest inRuencc on the development 
prose was cxercidcd by means of his sermons and treatises. 
In these, the reformer gives himself full scope; he alters 
his tone at need, employs all means, from the most im- 
passioned eloquence down to the most trivial pleasantry 
meant to delight men of the lower class. Put to sue 
varied uses, prose could not but become a more work- 
able instrument. True it is that Wyclif never seeks 
after artistic effect in his English, any more than in hi 
Latin. His sermons regularly begin by: "This gospel 
tellith. . . . This gospel techith alle men that . . ." and he 
continues his arguments in a clear and measured style, 
until he comes to one of those burning questions about 
which he is battling; then his irony bursts forth, he uses 
scathing similes; he thunders against those " empcroure 
bishopis," taken up with worldly cares ; his speech is short 
and haughty ; he knows how to condense his whole theory in 
one brief, clear-cut phrase, easy to remember, that every 
one will know by heart, and which it wilt not be easy t 
answer. Why arc the people preached to in a foreiga 
tongue ? Christ, when he was with his apostles, " taughte 
hem oute this prayer, bot be thou syker. nother in La' 
nother in Frensche, bot in the langage that they usedc to 
speke." » How should popes be above kings? "Thus 


* Lsbbe. " SacfOTuni Cancillorum . . . CoitccUo," vol. xxvL coL 1038L 

• ••Select KnEliih Wnrki," vol. iii. p. lOO. 




shuldcn popis be sugct to kynges, for thus weren bothc 
Crist and Pctrc." • How believe in indulgences sold 
publicly by pardoners on the market-places, and in that 
inexhaustible ** treasury " of merits laid up in heaven that 
the depositaries of papal favour arc able tu distribute at 
their pleasure among men for money ? Each merit is re- 
warded by God, and consequently the benefit of it cannot 
be applicable to any one who pays : " As Peter held his 
pec$ in grauntinge of siche thingis, so shuldcn thci holden 
ther pees, sith thei ben lasse worth than Petir."'* 

Next to these brief at^ments arc familiar jests, gravely 
uttered, with scarcely any perceptible change in the ex- 
pression of the lips, je^ts that Englishmen have been fond 
of in all times. If he is asked of what use are the " tetters 
nf fraternity.'* sold by the friars to their customers, to give 
(hem a share in the superabundant merits of the whole 
order, Wyclif replies with a serious air: " Bi siche resouns 
thinkcn many men that this lettris maj do good for to 
covcrc mustard pottis." ' 

It is difficult to follow him in all the places where he 
would fain lead us. He terrified the century by the bold- 
ness of his touch ; when he was seen to shake the frail holy 
thing with a ruthless hand, all eyes turned away, and 
his former protectors withdrew from him* He did not, 
however, carry his doubt to the extreme end ; accor<ling to 
his doctf ine the substance of the host, the particle of matter, 
is not the matter itself, the living flesh of the body that 
Jesus Christ had on earth ; this substance is bread ; only 
by a miracle which is the effect of consecration, the body 
of Christ is present sacramentally ; that is to say, all the 

'"SclenEnBUshWorWvol ii. p. 196. '/*»J..i-p- 189. »/«/..!. p. j8i. 

• Hi* adTcrHWin, j»crhaps cxaggvraliiic his wjings, «llribiHe t« him d«el««- 
tkms Like ihc roUowing : ''Quod BaGnmcnlum illuJ vwiljUe ««i infiaiwin 
abjcciius in natun, quum *il psnU oquinun, vel panis caioDU i immio, quod 
ver«nindum ai Jinre vel oudite. quod U«rciu niODii." " FaadcuU Zkaoi- 
aniiii>,"p. ia& 



benefits, advantages, and virtues which emanate from it 
are attached to the host as closely as the soul of men iS' 
united to Uieir body.' . 

The other sacraments," ecclesiastical hierarchy, the tithes 
collected b>' the clergy, arc not more respectfully treated 
by him. These critici^s and teachings had all the more 
weight owing to the fact that they were delivered from a 
pulpit and fell from the lips of an authorised master, whose 
learning was acknowledged even by his adversaries: "A very 
eminent doctor, a peerless and incomparable one," ^ fMys 
Knighton. Still better than Langland's verses, his forcible 
speech, by reason of his station, prepared the way for the 
great reforms of the sixteenth ccntur)-. He already de- 
mands the confiscation of the estates of the monasteries, 
accomplished later by Henry Vlll. ; he appeals at every 
page of his treatises to the ocular arm, hoping by its means 
to bring back humility by force into the heart of prelates. 

• " Tile pntiij c»I bene miriiculos*, vcrc el rcJilitcr. spirilUNlilci, virtukliler «t 
tacnmemaljtcr cutput Cliruti. Sed grasti non coni(rniantuT<]« itiismodu, «ed 
cxiKunt c(uod psnis i]l«, vd uliem per if^um, sil lulsisnluilitet H c(>q>oraIi(«r 
corpuitChruti: (ic cnim volimt. telo tilasplieniorum, Chtiitum cotnedcic. xcd iiun 
poMunc . , . Poaiinu* vcncnbile tacnuncnluni altaiis ciac auiuraliier p«fieia 
cl vinum. icd McramenUliicr cotpss ChrUii ei ungummi. " " Fasciculi," pp. 
lai. 135 i Wydifi lUiemeui uf hit belief* after his condrmnaiion by the 
Uoiv^riiiy in 1381. A^iin, in his %araon\ : " The* b«n \<t rude heictikc* ttM( 
teicn Ihci ctcii Ciiit badili, nnd leien ihci pirtcii cell uicinWe of hnn, neklMa 
bac, bccd and f'lut, . . . Thit ooit i> breed in hi* kynde u ben other ootttcs 
uniactid, and Mcrarneniitlkhc Goddts IkxII." " Selcci Englivh Woikt," voL ii. 
p. 169. Thi»i« very n»ily the theoty adopted biw by Laiimej, who declares 
" that there is nnne allmpr«Kenee oF Christ required ihiti 1 spiritual pronicet 
utd Ihil presence is luflicient for « Chruiian taxn ; " tbecc iciiia.iiis in tbe hint 
Ok (ubsUncc of b[«d. '• Wuilu," Parkci Sodeiy, Cambiidgc, i$44, vol. Ji. 
p. aStx 

■ ADricularoiniocfion, that "rowninge in pr«Miti eere," ii not Ihe true ooe, 
nrcording to Wyclif; the Irue Me it that inade to God. "Select KncJish 
Woilut," vol. i. p. tg6. 

> " Dociar in ibcrilogin ctninrTitiMiaiuf in dkbui illia. in philmophia nuitt 
Kpiii.ilaiui tccundui, in ti.-o)uiidi diiciplinii incompaiabilit. " " Chionir* dc 
evcntibut Anglix,'' stiA aitfM 1383, in Twysdeo, " Dcccn Scnptoftt," aOL 




But he is so far removed from its realisation that his 
dream dazzles him, and ur^jcs him on to defend chimerical 
schemes. He wishes the wealth of the clerg:y to be taken 
from them and bestowed U]>on poor, honest, brave, trust- 
worthy gentlemen, who will defend the country ; and he 
does not perceive that these riches would have fallen princi- 
pally into the hands of turbulent and grasping courtiers, 
as happened in the sixteenth century.' He is carried 
away by his own reasonings, so that the Utopian or para- 
doxical character of his statements escape hira. Wanting 
to minimise the power of the popes, he protests against 
the rules followed for their election, and goes on to say 
concerning the vote by ballot: " Sith ther ben fewe 
wise men, and foolis ben without noumbre, assent of more 
part of men makith evydence that it were foil."" 

His disciples, Lollards as they were usually called, a 
name the origin of which has been much discussed, sur- 
vived him, and his simple priests continued, for a time, to 
propagate his doctrines. The master's principal proposi- 
tions were even found one day in 1395, posted up on the 
door of St. Paul's Cathedral, in the heart of London. 
.-\mong them figure declarations that, at a distance of three 
centuries, seem a foreshadowing of the theories of the 
Puritans; one for instance, affirming " that the multitude 
of useless arts alluued in the kingdom are the cause of 
sins without number." Among the forbidden arts are in- 
cluded that of the goldsmiths, and another art of which, 
however, the Puritans were to make a somewhat notorious 
use, that of the armorers.* 

At the University, the followers of Wyclif were 
numerous ; in the country they continued to increase 
until the end of the fourteenth century. Energetic 

• "Seleci Enjtlbh WtKVs,"»oI. iii. pp. ai6, 117. • liU., ii. p. 414. 

> Conduuon No. iz. " Heniici <1« BIindrror<[t. . . . Anulet," ed, RUcf, 
RoUi, 1866, p. r74. 



measures were adopted in the beginning of the fifteenth ; 
the statute " De h«rctico comburendo" was promulgated 
in 1401 (but rarely applied at this period) ; the master's 
books were condemned and prohibited ; from that time 
Wyclifism declined, and traces of its survival can hardly 
be found at the period when the Reformation was in-j 
troduced into England. 

By a strange fate Wyclifs posterity continued to flourish 
out of the kingdom. Bohemia had just given a queen 
England, and used to send students every year from it 
University of Prague to study at Paris and Oxford. Ii 
that country the Wyclifite tenets found a multitude 
adepts ; the Latin works of the thinker were transcribed 
by Czech students, and carried back to their own land; 
several writings of Wyclif exist only in Cixxh copies.' 
His most illustrious disciple, John Hus, rector of the^j 
University of Prague, was burnt at the stake, by order of^| 
the Council of Constance, on the 6th of July, I415. But the^^ 
doctrine sur\'ivcd ; it was adopted with modifications by the | 
Taborites and the Moravian Brethren, and borrowed from 
them by the Waldcnses ■ ; the same Moravian Brethren , 
who, owing to equally singular vicissitudes, were to become 
an important factor in the English religious movement of 
the eighteenth century : the Wesleyan movement In 
spite of differences in their doctrines, the Moravian 
Brethren and the Hussites stand as a connecting link] 
between Wesley and Wyclif* 

' " The old belief thdl the Waldense* (01 V«ii*l«b) reprcMBi ft cerrcDC of ■ 
(nii^Ition cODlinuous ftom th« akiumi^ <miingclical xinijilicit; of the ptimllhre 
church h«s loil credit. . . . The iinieiiicd primitive Chriiliaait; of ib^H 
Alpine conKTc)>aiioiu can i>nly be deduced from works which t>nve been dinwn 
to b« iraiiilatiuii* ur adapiationi of ihe Huuite nianiialt or ireaiHes.** 
" WyelifT*." by Rpgin^ld Lane Poole. 1889. p. 1^4. C/. J. Lo»enh. '■ Hu* 
und Wiclif,"' Lenprig, iSfl*. 

' Tb« K'cat cTiiiib Wciley'i reli^ou* life, what be term* hi*" caavenioa,** 
look place on the 24th of Febiuaiy. 1738. tinder (he influence of (be MoriiVian 
PetcT Btihlcr, who h*d canvinccd hits, he >ayi in htsjouinal, "of the wuit of 
ihAt fftilh whereby wc ire tivcd." 





Dramatic art. in which the English people was tx> find 
one of the most brilliant of its literary glories, was evolved 
slowly from distant and obscure origins. 

In England, as in the rest of Europe, the sources of 
modem drama were of two sorts : then- were civil and 
religious sources. / 

The desire for amusement and the craving for laugh- 
able things never disappeared entirely, c^'en in the darkest 
days ; the sources of the lay drama began to spring and 
flow, owing to no other cause. The means formerly 
employed to amuse and raise a laugh cannot be expected 
to have shown much refinement- No refinement was to be 
found in them, and all means were considered good which 
ensured success ; kicks were among the simplest and 
oftenest resorted to, but not at all among the grossest ', 
others were worse, and were much more popular, Let us 
not wonder overmuch : some of them have recovered again, 
quite recently, a part of their pristine popularity, i They 
were used by jugglers or players," joculatorcs." nomadic 
sometimes, and sometimes belonging to the household of 
the great.) The existence of such men is testified to from 
century to century, during the whole of the Middle 
Ages, mainly by the blame and condemnation they con- 
stantly incurred : and so it is that the best information 
concerning these men is not to he sought for in the 





mnnutnents of the g-.iy literature, but rather in pious 
treatises and in the acts of Councils. 

Treatises and Councils, however, might to our ad- 
vantage have been even more circumstantial ; the pity is 
that they, naturally enough, consider it below their dignity 
to descend to very intnutc particulars ; it iii enough for 
them to give an enumeration, and to condemn in one 
phrase all the mimes, tumblers, histrions, wrestlers, and 
the rest of the juggling troup. Sometimes, however, a few 
particulars are added ; the peculiar tricks and the scanda- 
lous practices of the ill-f^med race arc mentioned ; and an 
idea can thus be formed of our ance.'itors' amusements^ 
John of Salisbury in the twelfth century alludes to a 
variety of pastimes, and while protesting against the 
means used to produce laughter, places them on record : 
a heavy laughter indeed, noisy and tumultuous, Rabelais' 
laughter before Rabelais. Of course, " such a modest 
hilarity as an honest man would allow hrmself" is not ^j 
to be reproved, and John did not forbear to use this ^| 
moderate way of enjoyment ; but the case is different ^^ 
with the jugglers and tumblers: " much better it would be 
for them to do nothing than to act so wickedly." ' 

* " No«tri a?iii>- prolnpsA »A f«buU; cl qunrvi« inanlo, non modo aures «t cor 
piosuluil vaniuii, i«d oculoiuni ci aurium volujilatc niam mokct dcuduun. 
. . , Nonne pigcr cJcMdiiim intiniit ec somnon piuvocal inaimuictiiorun) 
Miavtuic, aui vcKjum modulii, hilwiiaie caneQimiu aui labutaniium gntw, 
livetiuml (urpius At Fbrietaie vcl cmpuli^ .... Admim Biini «rga speeia* 
mla c< inliniu lyTocinia viuiitalii, quiljiut qui omaino otiui non pMMlat 
pcmi'douus occupcniur. Saiia* L-nim fncnt otittii quum tsiptlcr occupkfi. 
Hitic mitni, nlii vel satkcci, bolBlronts inniliani, slftdiaiores, p*tir«ritK, 
gii^nadii, pimiiciaioret, lualefici qvoqur mullJ ei lou Joculaiarutu «cena 
procoilit. Quorum tdca error inv»lui<, ui a ptvclam damibiu non arcmntur, 
eliam illi qui obocenU paitibus coiporU ocuUi cmninm cam ingeranl tnrpita- 
dinem, quam rmtiescat videre vd cyniou. Quodque mogin miiere, nee line 
ejiciuiilur, quaiiila tiuiiultua»(n ioferiiu crcbto loiiitu actcfu fccilaat, et 
luip-iter inctiLiuni turpiui prmluni . . . Jucuntivm quident Ml ct sb hcinewo 
nen rrecdit virum prnliiim (^uandnqve itiudatn hilnritate mulcere." " Pulien- 
bcus," Hook i. chap, viii., in "Opera Omnts," td. Oilca. Oxr<i>vl, 1848, 
tol. iii. p. 4J. 




No doubt was possible. The jesters did not care in the 
least to keep within the bounds of " a modest hilarity" ; nor 
did their audience, for in the fourteenth century we find 
these men described in the poem of Langland. and they 
have not altered in any way ' ; their tricks arc the same, 
the »ame shameful exhibitions take place with the same 
success ; for two hundred years Ihcy have been laughed at 
without inteimission. Many things have come and gone ; 
the nation has got tired of John's tyranny, of Henry the 
Third's weakness, of the Fopc's supremacy, but the histrions 
continue to tumble and jump ; "their points being broken, 
down fall their hose," (to use Shakespeare's words), and 
the grreat at Court arc convulsed with laughter on their 

Besides their horseplay, jugglers and histrions had, to 
please their audience, retorts, funny answers, witticisms, 
merry tales, which they acted rather than told, for gestures 
accompanied the delivery. This part of the amusement, 
which came nearest the drama, sharp repartees, impromptu 
dialogues, is the one we know least about. Voices have 
long been silent, and the great halls which heard them arc 
now but ivy-clad ruins, yielding no echo Some idea, 
however, can be formed of what took place. 

First wc know from innumerable testimonies that those 
histrions spoke and told endless nonsense ; they have 
been often enough reproached with it for no doubt to 
remain as to their talking. Then there is superabundant 
proof of the relish with which men enjoyed, in the Middle 
Ages, silly, teazing or puzzling an.swers ; the questioner 
remaining at the end rolled up in the repartees, gasping 
as a fly caught in a spider's web. The Court fool or 
buffoon had for his principal merit his clever knack of 
returning witty or confusing answers ; the best of them 
were preserved ; itinerant minstrels remembered and 

' C. zvi. 305. 

repeated them ; clerks turned them into La.u'n, and gave 
them place in their collections of exanpla. They a^orded 
amusement for a king, an amusement of a mixed sort, 
sometimes : 

— Why, says the king, are there no longer any Rolands? 
— Because, the fool answers, there aie no longer any 

Walter Map, as we saw, was so fond of happy answers 
that he formed a book of a t those he heard, kr>eu-, or 
made in his day. The fabliau of the " Jongleur d'Ely," 
written in England in the thirteenth century, is a good 
specimen of the word-fencing at which itinerant amuscrs 
were expert. The king is unable to draw from the jongleur 
any answer to any purpose : What is his name ?^ — -The 
name of his father. — Whom does he belong to ? — To his 
lord. — How U this river called ?— No need to call it ; it 
comes of its own accord. — Docs the jongleur's horse eat 
well? — "Certainly yes. my sweet good lord, he can eat 
more oats in a day than you would do in a whole week."" 

This is a mere sample of an art that lent itself to many 
uses, and to which belonged debates, " estrifs," " dis- 


■ " De Mimo ct R<£C Franconim," in Wnehl, " LuiB Stone*, '' 1843. N< 

■ ljfjo\ demauni) [ni imuui : 
Ou (|y »IM vus, kirv Jogloui ? 
E il cctp«unl launU pour : 
Site, jc Ml an man tcigDour. 
Quy cKt [uuii scicnuuf i fci Ic Roy. 
L,^' baiciun ma dsruf , par ma foj. . . , 
Quel (St le cv« apele, par amottrs ? 
L'cm DC I'apcJc pas, cj'rw vint loiw joun. 

CoDcmiing Ike h<ine : 

Mange il bien, cc sarei dire. 
Oil ttna, 1x1 doiudte ; 
Y) mongcicLt plus un jonr d'cveyne 
Que vi» ric fr«z pM toie la ^cfticyne. 

Monuiglon sad Raynnud, " RccurilgftieraJ de* Futilmox," vol. U. p. 



puloisons," "jeux-partis," equally popular in England and 
in France. Some specimens of it arc as old as the time 
of the Anglo-Saxons, such as the " Dialogue of Salomon 
and Satumus." ' There are found in the English language 
debates or dialogues between the Owl and Nightingale, 
thirteenth century ; the Thrush and Nightingale ; the Fox 
and Wolf, time of Edward 1. ; the Carpenter's Tools, and 
others." Collections nf silly answers were also made in 
England ; one of them was composed to the confusion of 
the inhabitants of Norfolk; another in their honour and 
for their defence.^ The influence of those estrifs, or 
debates, on the development of the drama cannot be 
doubted; the oldest dramatic fragment in the English 
language is nothing but an estrif between Christ and 
Satan. The author acknowledges it faimsell': 

A lUU will 1 letlen on, 

says he in his prologue.* 

Debates enjoyed great favour in castle halls ; im< 
promptu ones which, as Cathos and Madclon sai(i, 
centuries later, " exert^ient les esprits dc rasscmbl£c," 
were greatly liked ; they constituted a sort of society 
game, one of the oldest on record. A person among 

■ "Dialogue of Siloinao and SftturnuK," in proM. ed. Kemtde. MVtic 
Socieiy, 1X4S, Std. Sm ilia the "»lri(" between Jiucph und Marjr in 
"CyiicwulPsditist," eA. Guiknci, 189 J, p. 17; almvo, p. 7J, 

■ "The Owl wloA the Nighiiogalc," e<). f. Sicvcnson. Ro»b«rghc Cluh. 
1838. 410. "TheTlicuihandLheMghlingale": "Of ihc VoKBtid the Wolf " 
fy*t above, p. iiSlj "The Debate of th« Carpenier's Tool*," in Huliit, 
" Remains of llie eailf Populot Foeliy of EngUnti," 1864, 4 vol*. 8vo, voL 1. 
pp. 50. 58. 79. 

' "Anoryiiii Pctiobucgrniis Descriptio Noifalccnilcuro "(endoflhe iwdflh 
crniuty) : '* NoJfolchiic Dewriptionis Impiignatio." in \Mxa vent, with tome 
phruea in EngtidD, in Th. Wright, '* Early M>'«(erie( ftnd other Luin I'oemi 
oft]ieXIIthsiidlX[tIibcenturii:»,"Lon(luii. i8j3, Svo. 

' ■' Harrowing vf Hell." Tliii wurk eonsijts in a drmnutlic dialogue or 
Kene, but it ws8 not in«aiil to be rcprcKitlrd. Tiniie of Keaiy III. ; len in 
PoUsrd, '• English Mimcle PU>-(.'* Onlotd. 1890, p. 166. 



those present was chosen to answer questions, and Ifie" 
ainuseraent consisted in ■putting or returning questions 
and answers of the most unexpected or puzzling character. 
This was called the game of the " King who does not lie." 
or the game of the " King and Queen." ' By a pheno- 
menon which has been observed in less remote periods, 
after-dinner conversations often took a licentious turn ; in 
those game^i love was the subject roost willingly discussed, ^^ 
and it was not as a rule treated from a very ethereal point ^| 
of view ; young men and young ladies exchanged on those 
occasions observations the liberty of which gave umbrage 
to the Church, who tried to interfere ; bishops in their ^ 
Constitutions mentioned those amusements, and forbade ^M 
to their flock such unbecoming games as " ludos dc Rege ^^ 
et Regina;" V\'.i!tf!r de Chanteloup, bishop of Worcester, 
did so in 1240." Some of that freedom of speech survived, 
however, through the Middle Ages up to the time of 
Sliakespeare ; while listening to the dialogues of Beatrix 
and Benedick one wonders sometimes whether they are 
not playing the game "dc Regc et Regina" 

Parody also helped in its way to the formation of the 
drama There was a taste for masking, for tlie imitation 
of other people ; for the caricaturing of some grave person 


' TlLingAmG is desciibcd in tlitr (very coauBe) rabliui of ih« " Senticr hxxu ' 
by Jeui dc Condi, (ouilccnth century : 

Db plvtimn dcHuis »'entr«RriBtreiit 

Et lant c'un« roynr fi&tffnt 
Poui jouer au Koy qui nc iitcnl. 
Ele s'«D %ttvcit ficicment 
Enlremeiirt d« coniiuander 
Et d-c dcmnnHrt dcmundcr. 

Montaiclon and Raynaud, " ](.KUcil g^nfrol des I-'abliaux," vol. iii. p. 148L 
' " FiohilKmiiK z\\Ata cIcricU oe inleninc ludU uihoncitu, vcl dioicis, 

ludhDi ad nlcu, veL LuiUos ; occ kiistinnni ludiM I'lcii dt R«ce et Kc|[inii," ftc. 

■■Canttituiicincs Walreh dr C>niilu|>a, Wi|[Dnuenus rpiKopi . . . promulgatte 

, . . A.[>- 1 140," art. xxxviii., in Labbe, ''Socronimconeilionim . . . Collcctio," 
\. xjdii. coL 53S. 



or of some imposing ceremony, mass for example ; for the 
reproduction of the song of birds or the noise of a storm, 
gestures being added to the noise, the song, or the words. 
Some jugglers excelled in this ; they were live gargoyles 
and were paid " the one to play the drunkard, another the 
fool, a third to imitate the cat" The great minstrels, 
" grans menestrcus," had a horror of those gargoyles, the 
shame of their profession;* noblemen, however, did not 
share these refined, if not disintcrtsted, feelings, and asked 
to their castles and freely rewarded the members of the 
wandering tribe who knew how to imitate the drunkard, 
the fool, or the cat. 

On histrionic liberties introduced even into church 
services, Aelred, abbot of RievauU in the twelfth ccntuiy, 

' Th« two (mU uc well d^M'ii'bed tiy Baudouin de CaaAi ia his "Cnni#« 
iln Hinui," ihinccnili ccniuiy. Tbe ftultioi mccIa a scivuuc uid uh^ bim 
ijiietlioiitabotit bu maLSter ; 

Du-iDot, par t'Ame de ton pire, 
Voit'll volenttrri uen.Mtr«us.' 
— OH voir, bku frtic, ft Mirc rtu 
£a Kin hosicl k grant saUs. . , , 
. . . Kr i^uiiiit ftvicnt 
C*3iicuiu iiraiu tneiiutrmi li vient, 
UaisiTM ee m mpn^itniulJe, 
Qui bicn virU nu \'\ bicn di« 
Tie bouce, mciiict I'luraule 
Volenti ffs. . . . 

Msk yra touvcni 1 vicni At lens, 
Mai« itt rdani el d«* bonteoi, 

who ip<alc )mI nooKiue and know n«ihin£, tnd wbo, howeT«r, rccdre bretdi 
aiMtt kiid wmc, 

, . . I'uD por (title t'lVTC, 
L'aiiiic Ic cai, Ir licrs le sol t 
Li quitn, ki ontiuen rim nc tot 
JJ'arma I'cn poiolc el iiu^nilc 
De ce prm due, de ce preu conic. 

" Dill et Cbnin de Baudouin de Condt," cd. Schctei, BnuKh, iS66, ] wlc 
8vo, vol. t. p. IJ4. 



gives some unexpected particulars. He describes tbe 
movements and attitudes of certain chanters by u-hicli 
they '* resembled actors " : so that we thus get infor- 
mation on both at the same time. Chanters are round 
in various churches, he says, who with inflated cheeks 
imitate the noise of thunder, and then murmur, whisper, 
allow their voice to expire, keeping their mouth open, and 
think that they give thus an idea of the death or ec-'rta^y 
of martyrs. Now you would think you hear the neighing 
of horses, now the voice of a woman. With this " all their 
body is agitated by histrionic movements " ; their lips, 
their shoulders, their fingers are twisted, shrugged, or 
spread out as they think best to suit their delivery. The 
audience, filled with wonder and admiration at those in- 
ordinate gesticulation:!, at length bursLs into laughter : " It 
seems to them they are at the play and not at church, and 
that they have only to look and not to pray." ' 

The transition from these various performances to little 
dramas or interludes, which were at first nothing but talcs 
turned into dialogues, was so natural that it could scarcely 
attract any notice. Few specimens have survived ; one 
English one, however, is extant, dating from the lime of 
Edward I., and shows that this transition had then taken 
place. It consists in the dramatising of one of the most 
absurd and most popular talcs told by wandering minstrels, 

■ " Ad quid JIIa xvtat. contractio et infractio ? Hie succinJl, iUc dtseiittl. 
, . . Aliqunnclu, (juod pud«i dicete. in ei^uiniM tkinniliu cogilnr; aliqoaado 
viiili vigirc d«pMlli> in frminctf vaci« gntciliCaies Kcuitur. ... VUm 
aJiquantlu tiuiuiiicni apcdo ore quasi inlcicl<iiK> hubitia cj^pimct dob canlare, 
ac riiliL-ulosa qu»(iini vodi inictccptioiic cfuui niinitnri (ilcmium ; nunc Hgoaics 
ntorientiuni, vcl cxiaiim paticnciuiii iiuiitrl. iRiaini hiiirionicit qnibudun 
£«siibut totum curpDi aeiiaiur, inriiirntur hbin, rottuti, luiluiu humeri t «t 
*A nngul** <)uaM)iie nolu digitonint 0«xu» Kspondcl. £i hcc ridiculaas 
dinolutia vontur rcUgio! . . . Vulgu* . . . miraiur ... ted Utdru can. 
iBQiiuin gesiiciiUiioncs. rocmiidu vocum Blicrtiaiionn d infnctioneK. nun 
line dchinni} mu^uir intuciur, u( cm non ad oranxiiini 6?d ad ihealium. &cc 
ikd nmndum scd od tpectandum avtieriM tonvenioe." "Speculum Cli«HMi», 
Book ii. chap. »3, in Mignes " I'atrologia," voJ. excv. ooL S7»- 




the story, namely, of the Weeping Bitch. A woman or maid 
rejects the love of a clerk ; an old woman (Dame SiriB 
in the English prose text) calls upon the proud one, having 
in her hands a little bitch whom she has fed with mustard, 
and whose eyes accordingly weep. The bitch, she says, 
is her own daughter, so transformed by a clerk who had 
failed to touch her heart ; the young woman at once 
yields to her lover, fearing a similar fat& There exist 
French, Latin, and English versions of this tale, one of the 
few which are of undoubted Hindu origin, The Engli&h 
version seems to belong to ihe Thirteenth century.' 

The turning of it into a drama took place a few years 
latter. Nothing was easier ; this fabliau, like many others, 
was nearly all in dialogues ; to make a play of it, the 
jongleur had but to suppress some few lines of narrative ; 
we thus have a drama, in rudimentary shape, where a deep 
study of human feelings must not be sought for.* Here 
is the conversation between the young man and the young 
maid when they meet : 

Clfittu. Donnbhcl, tnW weL 

Sir, wclcum, by S»rnl Mi<:l)el 1 

Wm «ity (is thy) tire, titi erty dune? 

By Godc. «s noncr h«T at hAme. 

W«1 wnr suilc (rach) a m*ii lo life 

Thai Hiilc ■ nuty (maid) mihlc have to wyfel 

Do way, by Criitt sn<l I-cnnard. , . , 
Go forth thi way. Rod lire. 
Pur her husui lusyc al thi wile. 




' L«Hb text in "The Eaempla. . . nf Jbc(|ii« de Vitiy," thitleenll) mntnty, 
cd. T. F. Ccanc, London, 1890, 8vo, p. 105 (No. ccl.), and in Tb. Wright, 
•A Sdection of Latin Slotics," 1841. Ptrcy Suciely, p, 16: " Dc Ilnlo et 
A(tL- Vt^iulafum." French t«>i in and Mfon, " Fabliaux," voL ii., 
included into the " CMioicmi.-nt il'un pire i um fill." ihinrrnth ceniufy. 
£ngli%h 1e«t in Th. Wright, " Ane^dotn LJIerarin.,'' London. 1844, Svo, (>. | | 
the title ia in Freni;b : " Ci co-tnnicncc le fablo ct le cuiiitisc de dame Sirii." 

■ Tew in Wright and llnlliMcll, •' Keliiiuiii- Antique." London, iB^i. 
3 voli. Svo, voL i. p. 143. " Hie incipii inmhidiiini de CInico and Puella." ^ 



After some more supplications, the clerk, who is i 
student at the University, goes to old Hclwis (Sirir in the 
prose talc) and then the author, more accustomed, it 
seems, to such persons than to the company of youn^ 
maidens, describes with some art the hypocrisy of the 
matron. Hclwis will not ; she leads a holy life, and what 
is asked of her will disturb her from her pious observances. 
Her dignified scruples arc removed at length by the plato 
offer of a reward. 

\ In this way, some time before Chaucer's birth, the lay 
Idrama came into existence in Shakespeare's country. 

Otht'r stories of the same sort were also turned into 
plays ; we have none of them, but we know that thej* 
existed. An Englishman of the fourteenth century calls 
the performance of them "pleyinge of Japis," ' by opposi- 
tion to the pLTformance of religious dramas. 

Other amusements again, of a strange kind, helped In 
the same early period to the formation of the drama. A 
particularly keen pleasure was afforded during the Middle 
Ages by songs, dances, and carols, when performed in 
consecrated places, such as cemeteries, cloisters, churches. 
A prcfcrcnoc for such places may seem scarcely credible; 
still it cannot be doubted, and is besides easily explainable 
To the unbridled instincts of men as yet half tamed, the 
'Church had opposed rigorous prescriptions which wereS 
enforced wholesale. To resist excessive independence, 
exces-sivc severity was needful ; buttresses had to be raised 
equal in strength to the weight of the wall. But fromfl 
time to time a cleft was formed, and the loosened passions 
burst forth with violence. Escaped from the bondage of 
discipline, men found inexpressible delight in violating all 

■ " H«te bigrnnis a ttvEite of Miradit Pleyinge," end oT fourtamth centiur, 
in Wti|;>it and Ilalliwell, " kclii^iiJK Antiqugt," vol. ii. p. 46. EUcwhcre 
in the Mme treaibc. " to plcf is fclMudxa" j* vppoMd U>"pla)ria mfricUa," 




proliibitions at once ; the day for the beast had come, and 
it challenged the angel in its turn. 

The propelling power of passions so repressed was even 
increased by certain weird tastes very common at that 
period, and by the merry reactions they caused. Now 
opprefised by, and now in revolt ag:iin5t, the idea of death, 
the faithful would at times answer threats with sneers ; 
they found a particular pleasure in evolving bacchanalian 
processions amonjj the tumbs of churchyards, not only 
because it was forbidden, but also on account of the awful 
character of the place. The watching of the dead was 
also an occasion for orgies and laughter. At the University, 
even, these same amusemfnts were greatly lilced ; students 
delighted in singing licentious songs, wearing wreaths, 
carolling and deep drinking In the midst of churchyards. 
Councils, popes, and bishops never tired of protesting, 
nor the faithful of dancing. Re it forbidden, says In* 
noccnt III. at the beginning of the thirteenth century, 
to perform " theatrical games " in churches. He this 
prohibition enforced, say.'^ Grcgoo' IX. a little later.' Be 
it forbidden, says Walter de Chanteloup, bishop of 
Worcester, to perform "dishonest games" in cemeteries and 
churches, especially on feast days and on the vigils of 
saints.* Be it forbidden, says the provincial council of 
Scotland in 1225, "to carol and sing songs at the funeral 
of the dead ; the tears of others ought not to be an 
occasion for laughter." 3 Be it forbidden, the University 

■ " Luili tli«itral», eiiain [u.t^iexiucontuHuilinUiaecdniiKvd pn clcrico* 
lirii non rtci>«n.'' Decr«'Cal of Innocent [II,. year 1107. incltirled by Gregory 
IX. in hU "CompiUlio." RIchier and yriedberg, "Corpus JurL* Cttniwid," 
LeitMiE. 1879, Tol. ii, p. 4,53, 

* " Comiilutioim WulTcri Ac Cantiliipo. a.O. 1140," in IjiIiIm'i " Sacrorun 
CoocitioruBi . . . Collmlo," vol. ixiii. coL 516. 

' Wllkint, " Coneili* MajrOT Btiiannw," |j>ndon, 1737, 4 vols. fol-. vol. i. 
(1. 617. No*. Uxiv., Itxi-. Tlic wine [wohiliiiion is mndc l>y Wnller de 
Clinnlcloup, til lufa, arl. Iv. The cusloin waa a voy old one, and cxiilcd 
alnaily lii Ai^la-Saxuii tinia; Kc " .-tllrit-'k Livo of &U11U," 18S1, K.K.T.S., 




of Oxford decrees in the same century, to dance and sing 
in churches, an<t wear there disguises and wreaths ol 
flowers and leaves.* 

The year was divided by feasts ; and those feasts, the 
importance of which in everybody's eyes has dwindled 
much, were then great events ; people thought of ihcm 
long before, saw them in the distance, towering above the ' 
common level of days, as cathedrals abo\*e hous^cs. Every- 
day life was arrested, and it was a time for rejoicings, of a i 
religious, and sometimes of an impious, character : boCl^| 
kinds hclp«:d the formation of drama, and they were at^^ 
times closely united. On such great occasions, more than 
ever, the caricature and derision of holy things increased 
the amusement. Christ mas-time had inherited the licence 
as well us it occupied the date of the ancient Roman 
saturnalia; and whatever be the period considered, be ii 
early or late in the Middle Ages, it will be found that the 
annivcrsar)' was commemorated, piously and merrily, by 
sneering and adoring multitudes. For the one did not 
prevent the other ; people caricatured the Church, her 
hierarchy and ceremonials, but did not doubt her infalli- 
bility; they laughed at the devil and feared him. " Priests^ 
deacons, and sub-deacons," says the Pope, are bold 
enough, on those mad days, "to take part in unbecoming 
bacchanals, in the presence of the people, whom they 
ought rather to cdify by preaching the Word of God,"* In 
those bacchanals parodies of the Churcli prayers were in- 

' " . . . Nc quls chotetu cum Xtx-At am iircpim illquo tn ecdcaJs vcl 
plxiris ducul, ^-el wnHiut. vel coionaiiu coionn ex fnliu ubpruni, vd Baram 
vrl nliundc ea[n[iui.ilii., alicuhi iiici;iJaI ... [iruhibcmui;," tbtriecniti ecnouy, 
" MtinimcnU Academica," ed. Antlt^y, Kollt, 1868, p. iS. 

* Decielal uf laaucuut III., rclMucd by CrKgory IX. : " In &l)quibu» va& 
fcMivitBtibua. <i<i!c ounisnuc naialcm Cliiisli Ki^uuniur. dUconi. pmbyieti rc 
vDbdkcani viciuim intanix lux ludibcia exercere prxsumuni, |>«r gHilcub. 
tionum «duui» ilelnccliaiiunes ob^c«nfti iu con»p«clu populi decus faduM 
clerical* vilncere, qitcm potiuB illo uin[>orc vnin Dei debc(«n[ pncdkul««w 
■itilcctc" Riclitoi and Fricdbctg, "CoTpu» Juiia Caaooiu," vgl, ii. p, 45^ 



45 > 

troduced ; a Latin hymn on (he Nativity was transposed 
line for line, and became a song in honour of the good ale. 
Here, as a sample, arc two staniias, both of the original and 
of the parody, this last having, 03 it seems, been composed 
in England: 

Eiullci fidclis chonu, 

ATlduia ! 

R«g«m Reptin 
InUctc pcifundit ihnntai 

Kanunuda I 

Angelii* coniilii 
NUM est lie Vii;giti«, 

Sol de StelU, 
Sol CMXWum ttctcieoA, 
StetlP iciiipcL ruiiloiuh 

Sriopct clara. 

Oi i pana : 
\». Cciveiic DM chuiiL'n 

AiUlma I 

Qui 4)ii« en bei(. 
S« Itit scil com r*t[« dcit, 

Am mir^mJa / 

Bevec quami I'avet en poin^: 
Bisn et\ AttA\, car mout e«l toing 

Set lie Steiia ; 
Bcvet bien el bevel belt 
Et Mu vendn del tanel 

Simfsr darA. 

"You will see; the ale will make us sing, Alleluia I all 
of us, if the ale is as it should be, a wonderful thing I (Res 
mirandaj. Drink of it when you hold the jug ; 'tis a most 
proper thing, for it is a good long way from .sun to star 
fSol de Stella); drink well I drink deept it will flow for 
you from the tim, ever clear 1 (Semper cl«ra)," ■ 

So rose from earth at Christmastide, borne on the same 

■ Tliirtecnth cciiidt)-. Sm Gaxton Puu, "RomonU," vol. xxi. p. 363 
Sang> uf a much wone chaiaclci wcic also suni; ai ChriMnui. To deier hiii 
leaclert /roni tiurtiiiig to an; fuch GnKoigne writet (lint half uf ihe Ijfteenth 
ctfitiiiyl : " Caivie el fiigitc in hoc Mctn fnto vicinsa ei turpia, et pra«ipae 
canlus inlioTieslM el turpet qui libidinem ciciunl et pr«v<Kiini ... el 
ymafiincs imprimuat in meolc quiu expcLlere diQic>tlimuin cit. Kovi ^o, 
scilicet Csbcuigne. doctor Mcr/; pttginj; qui Kecc uipkt. utium macntim et 
noialnlecn viriim latem cantnm lurpem in i&ta Nntalit audirisse." He could 
never forget Ihe KlmneFu) Ihin|[« he had heiud. acd fell on ilui aceount int» 
meUncholjr, by which he wst driven lo death. ** Loci e tiljto vcritatum . ■ . 
IEiwa(;c4!icl«-icJlimii Gucaii^Dc'sTlicolDgical DictEoniiy,''ei). Thoruld Rqjersi 
Otfotil. 18S1, 410. On the Chrislma* fetliviliet ai the Uaix-ersii^ and on ihe 
" Kl>i Nataliciiu" (aixleenth ceniarr and belore). lee C. R. L. Flclchw, 
*'C*>lle<ianc»," Oiford, 1885, Svo, p. ^9. 


winds. angcN and demons, and Uic ancient feast of Saturn 
was commemorated at the same time as Christ's. In 4e 
same way, again, the scandalous feasts of the Fools, of the 
Innocents, and of the Ass, were made the merrier widi 
grotesque parodies of pious ceremonies; they were ce^^ 
bratcd in the church it.self. thus Iransformcd, says the 
bishop of Lincoln, Robert Grossetestc. into a plac« for 
pleasure, amusement, and fotly : God's house wa-» dcfilei 
by the devil's inventions. He forbade, in consequence, the 
celebration of the feast of Fools, " festum Stultorum." oo 
the day of Circumcision in his cathedral, and then in the 
whole diocese.* 

The feast of the Innocents was even more popular to 
England. The performers had at their head a " boy 
biithop," and this diminutive prolate presided, with mitre I 
on his head, over the frolics of his madcap companions. 
The Icing would take an interest in the ceremony ; be J 
would order the little dignitary to be brought before htm, 
and give him a prc-cnt Edward II. gave six shiilings 
and eight pence to the young John, son of Allan Scroby, 
who hati pUycd the part of the " boy bishop " in the roj-al 
chapel; another time he gave ten shillings; Richard U,, 
more liberal, gave a pound.* Nuns even were knouii to 

> "Cam daiADt Del, mtAiite prophfta FlHn^c D«i, (lomiK sic omJonba 
ncbndum co-t Mm in iluinum jocnlii>n>tL, ttuiiililati* «t niigacitatts coavencre, 
l(K:uni9u« Deo dictiam dinholidn lulinvcniionibut rxcosre i ciinM{Qe drana- 
n!j(i Domini notlri Jesu Qirisii priaia fnerit ncr nitxlicuni ocvrba ajuMlcn 
poiaio, tiKnum quoque tit drcumcldonls spirliualis qua cordinni pmrpuda 
(olluniur . . , cKccnbite est cireurnriMoniii Domini voncnniUm K-tFmniutem 
kibidinuMiuin VDlapuiiim Krrdilnik prQ|ihari«c : <iU9|>iui)ter votiit iTiundaniiu 
in vifiute obcdimiic fitmiicr injnncenies, quiUenus Fc«Tinn Stuliuniin cum nl 
viniulc picimm et volupUIibui iipurculii, Uco odibik- d iLrmoajhus antuHIc 
ne de cciFro in ooclc«in I Jncvlnieniii, die vencranibe lolemniiatii circun>ciunnia 
Dixiimi jicrEiiilliiliik fieri." '■ Kj>i»loI«," tA. Liinr>I, Uull*, iljbl, p. iig, voir 
Ijj6l7h S«oie defence Tot ihc wtiolc iHocck, p. t6i. 

' "WnidtnlK Aoxntnu." in " AtdiaoluRio," to), mi. p. 34X - ••Imut 
Rdl of Tliauiu <le BrantingliAin." «d. Devon. 1835. p. xlvi; " Isbu«ii gf y^ 
Exdifqucr," rtl. Ilcvon, p. Jli, 6 Rick- II. 





forget on certain occasions their own character, and to 
carol with laymrn on the day of the Innocents, or on the 
day of Mary Magdalen, to commemorate the life of their 
patroness, in its first part as it ^eems.' 

The passion for sightseeing, which was then very keen, 
and which was to be fed, later, mainly on theatrical enter- 
tainments, was indulged in during the Middle Ages in 
various other ways. Processions were one of them ; occa- 
sions were numerous, and causes for them vcrc not difficult 
to find. Had the Put of London awarded the crown to the 
writer of the best c/utMsoa, a procession was formed in the 
streets in honour of the event. A marriage, a pilgrimage 
to Palestine, a patronal feast, were sufficient motives ; 
gilds and associations donned their liveries, drew their 
insignia from their chest, and paraded the streets, in- 
cluding in the " pageant," when the circumsiatice allowed 
of it, a medley of giants and dwarfs, munslcrs.gilt fishes, and 
animals of all sorts. On grand days Ihc town itself was 
transformed ; with its flower-decked houses, its tapestries 
and hangings, it gave, with some more realism about it, the 
impression we receive from tlic painted scenery of an opera. 

The town at such times was swept with extraordinary 
care; even "insignificant filth" was removed, Matthew 
Paris notes with wondering pen in 1236.' The proces- 
sion moved forward, men on horseback and on foot, with 
unfurled banners, along the decorated streets, to the sound 
of bells ringing in the steeples. At road -crossings the 
procession stopped ; after Itaving been a sight, the members 
of it became in their turn sightseers. Wonders had been 
prepared to please them : here a forest with wild beasts 

■ " InhiliemuK itc cl« ccicto in fnlii Innoc«ntium «t Bnie Mark Magdalene 
ludibrik exMcratit euniuftn, indii«ndo uot Kll!e«t vcMii Mculshiim aut inicr 
vm, »eu cum irix-ti1aiitiiL», cliuiow diic«nda, ncc czlta rtfcctoriuRi cniticdittit," 
&c. £udaiRif^n(l,iirchb]'il)<'p(^rRi>iien, toifaenuiKor Villatcuux, ihineenih 
century. " Kc(pii(uin Vuiiaikmum," cd. Bannin, iS^i, 4I0, p>44 

* " HUlofui MnjUf." Kolb, »ol. ill. p, jjft. 



and St. John the Baptist ; elseiA-here scenes from the 
Bible, or from knightlj' romances, the " pas dc SaJadin," 
fbr example, where the champion of England, Richard 
Cceur-de-Lion, fought the champion of ls!am. At 
times it was a dumb-show, a sort of tahteau vivamt, at 
others actors moved but did not speak; at othera again 
they did both, and complimented the king. A day came 
when the compliments were cut into dialogues; such 
practice was frequent in the fifteenth century, and it 
approached very near to the real drama. 

In 1236. Henry III. of England having married Alienor 
of Provence made his solemn entry into his capital. On 
this occasion were gathered together *' so many nobles, so 
many ecclesiastics, such a concourse of people, such a 
quantity of histriotis, that the town of London could 
scarcely hold them in her ample bosom— jm« suo cafieu^. 
— AH the town was adorned with silk banners, wrcatKs, 
hangings, candles and lamps, mechanisms and invcntiotis 
of extraordinary kinds." ' 

The same town, fond abo^-e all others of such eKhtbi- 
tions, and one of the last to preserve vestiges of them in 
her l-ord Mayor's Show, outdid all that had been seen 
before when, on the 29th of August, 1393, Richard II. 
made his entry in state, after having consented to receive 
the citizens again into his favour.' The streets were lined 
with cloth of gold and purple ; "sweet smelling flowers " 
perfumed the air: tapestries with figures hung from the 
\ windows ; the king was coming forth, splendid to look 
I at, very proud of his good looks, "much like Troilus;" 
queen Anne took part also in the procession. A variety 
of scenes stop the progress and delight the onlookers ; oncfj 

' Muthnw PmIk, ibid, 

° D«KTib«d by Kkh*tdi)rMu'd«iDne((l. t}96) in 1 lAtin poem : " Riduudi 
MayiJiBtun it C««coiJia into Rq;cm Kicardum 11. et civiUlcfn Londoo," in 
(he " PolitinJ Pi>cii]a«nd Songft" of Wri|[hi, Rollx, voL L p. aSa. 



had an unforeseen character. The queen was nearing the 
gate of the bridge, the old bridge with defensive towers and 
gates, and two cars full of ladies were following her, when 
one of the cars, "of Phaetonic make" says the classical-* 
minded narrator, suddenly broke. Grave as saints, beau- 
tiful as angels, the ladies, losing their balance, fell head 
downwards ; and the crowd, while full of admiration for 
what they saw, " could not suppress their laughter." The t 
author of the description calls it, as Kragonard would have 
done, " a lucky chance," son bona ; but there was nothing , 
of Fragonard in him except this word ; he was a Carmelite j. 
and Doctor of Divinity. 

Things having been set right again, the procession 
entered Cheapside, and there was seen an "admirable 
tower " ; a young man and a young maiden came out of 
it, addressed Richard and Anne, and offered them crowns ; 
at the Gate of St Paul's a concert of music was heard ; at 
Temple Bar, " barram Tempii," a forest had been arranged 
on the gate, with animals of all sorts, serpents, liuns,a bear, 
a unicorn, an elephant, a beaver, a monkey, a tiger, a bear, 
"all of which were there, running about, biting each other, 
fighting, jumping." Forests and beasts were supposed to 
represent the desert where St. John the Baptist had lived. 
An angel was let down from the roof, and offered the king 
and queen a little diptych in gold, with stones and enamel 
Tcprcscnting the Crucifixion ; he made aEso a speech. At 
length the queen, who had an active part to play in 
this opera, came forward, and, owing to her intercession, 
the king, with due ceremony, consented to bestow his 
pardon on the citizens. 

Many other examples might be adduced ; feasts were 

numerous, and for a time caused pains to be foi^ottcn : 

"oubliance ^tait au voir," as Froissart says so well on an 

occasion of this sort* There were also for the people the 

' Enliy of Is&betu of Bavaria inrn I'ariE. in 13&1. 




May celebrations with their dances and songs, the impef^ 
sonatinn of Robin iio;xi, later the performance of short 
plays of which he was the hero ' ; and ajjain those chimes. 
'falling from the steeples, fillint; the air u-ilh their joyous 
peals. At Court there were the " masks" or " ballets" in 
which the great toolc part, wrapped in starry draperies, 
disguised Nvith gold beards, dressed in skins or feathers, 
as were at Paris King Charles VI. and bis friends on 
the 29th of January, 1393, jn the famous Ballet of 
Wild Men. since called, from the catastrophe which 
happened, •■ Ballet dc5 Ardents" (of men in fire). The 
taste for ballets and Masks was one of long duration ; 
the Tudors and Stuarts were as fond of them as the 
Plantagenets, so much so thai a branch apart in dramatic 
literature was created on this account, and it includes in 
England such graceful and touching masterpieces as 
"Sad Shepherd" of Ben Jonson and the "Comus 


While histrions and amuscrs give a foretaste of (aroe 
and comedy in castle halls, while romantic drama is fore> 
shadowed in the "pas de Saladtn " and the "Taking of 
Troy" and the pastoral drama begins with May games, 
othuT sources of the modem dramatic art were springing 
up in the shadow of the cloister and under the nave^o^^ 

The imitation of any action is a step towards drams. 
Conventional, liturgical, ritualistic as the imitation was^^ 
still there was an imitation in the ceremony of mass ; ant^^ 

' On the pupulaniy of Rubin Hood in the fmiiic^cnth oenniiy, see above, p. 
224. In ibe hfi«entli century he wiu the hero of jiliyt perfonred during (he 
MayfnIiviliM: ''Itccc*' for ihr; gallicring«l'lhc Maj-play calM Robia Hood, 
cn the fair day. 19*." Acc«unix of ibc cfaurcli of Ht. Lawrence At Rcodic 
jm 1499. in the AcaJttny. OcIuIki 6, 1SS3, p, iji. 



mass led to the religious diama, which was therefore, at 
starting, as conventional. liturgical, and ritualistic as could 
be. Its early beginning is to be sought for in the anti- 
phoned parts of the service, and then it makes one with the 
t\scr\-icc itself. In a similar manner, outride the Church 
llay drama had begun with the alternate cfiansons, debates, 
/ roctical altercations of the singcrsof facetious or love-songs. 
U great step was made when, at the principal feasts of the 
year, Easter and Christmas, the chanters, instead of giving 
their responseji from their stalln, moved in the Church to 
recall the action commemorated on that day; additions 
were introduced into the received text of the service ; reli- 
gious drama begins then to have an existence of its own. 

" ' Tell us, shepherds, whom do you seek in this stable? 
— They will answer : ' Christ the Saviour, our Lord.' " ' 
I Such is the starting-point ; it dates from the tenth 
' century ; from this is derived the play of Shepherds. o( 
which many versions have come down to us. One of them, 
followed in the cathedral of Rouen, gives a minute account 
of the performance as it was then acted in the midst of the 
religious service: " Be the crib cslabli.shcd behind the 
altar, and be the image of the Blessed Mary placed there. 
First a child, from before the choir and on a raised plat- 
form, representing an angel, will announce the birth of the 
Saviour to five canons or their vicars of the second rank ; 
the shepherds must come in by the great gate of the choir. 
. , . As they near the crib thej' sing the prose Pax /« ttrris. 
Two priests of the first rank, wearing a dalmatic, will 
represent the midwives and stand by the crib." ■ 

These adventitious ornaments were greatly appi-eciated, 
and from year to year they were increased and perfected. 

' " Quem quirrilM ia [>n<sc))c, paslwrra? Rt-»iKjinlciJt : Salvalorem Chris- 
tum Domiaum." Petit dc Jullcvillc. " Ilistairc du Th^irc en Francc-^Lci 
Mpttrca." 1H80, vol. i. p. 25. 

• Pciit de Jullwille, iHd.. vol. i. p. 16. 



Verse replaced prose ; the vulgar idiom replaced L^ttn ;' 
open air and the public square replaced the church na%'e 
and its subdued light ft was no longer necessary* to have 
recourse to priests wearing a dalmatic in order to represent 
midwives ; the feminitie parts were performed by young 
boys dressed as women ; tins was corning much nearer 
nature, as near in fact as Shakespeare did, for he never 
saw any but boys play the part of his Juliet. There were 
even cases in which actual women were seen on Che 
mcdia:val stage. Those am cli orations, so ump]e and 
obvious, summed up in a phrase, were ihc work of 
ocniurici, but the tide when once on the flow was the 
strnnjicr for waiting. The drama left the church, because 
its increased importance had made it cumbersome there, 
because it was badly seen, and because having power it 
wanted freedom. 

Easter was the occasion for ornaments and additions 
similar to thnse introduced into the Christmas service.' 
The ceremonies of Holy Week, which reproduced each 
incident in the drama of the Passion, lent themselves 
admirably to it. Additions foUowing additions, the whole 
i of the Old Testament ended by being grouped round and 
tied to the Christmas feast, and the whole of the New 
Testament round Easter. Both were closely connected, 
the scenes in the one being interpreted a.s symbols of the 
scenes in the other ; complete cycles were thus formed, re>- 
prcscnting in two divisions the religious history of mankind 
from the Creation to Doomsday. Once severed from the 
church, these groups of plays often got also separated 
from the feast to which they owed their birth, and were 

' Same tM!^pDRing utd Mme gradtu.1 <l«vdoproein : "Quern <]ucnlii in 
Kpukhro o Chiiiticute ?— Jcanoi Niuarenuin ciudfisum o cclicole. — Non est 
hie, suimil »ti:ui prrJixciAt ; lie itunciate quk iiureiii. .Midair" In u>c 
at Umoe«. eleventh cencur)-. " Uic laidnbchcn Ottcrfcicrn, ontcnuchungea 
Uber den Unpiung unil die ECotwicklung tier liluqji<ch><IminaUKhcu AnfenU* 
hungifeier," by Cul LoDgc, Munich, 1887. £ra, pi. 33. 




represented at Whitsunlide. on Corpus Christi day, or on 
the occasion of some solemnity or other. 

As the taste for 9uch dramas was spreading, a variety 
of tragical subjects, not from the Bible, were turned 
into dialogues: first lives of saints, later, in 1'" ranee, some 
few subjects borrowed from history or romance : the story 
of r.riselda, the raising of the siege at Orleans by Joan 
of Arc, &c' The English adhered more exclusively to 
the Bible. Dramas drawn from the lives of saints were 
usually called Miracles ; those derived from the Bible, 
Mysteries ; but these appellations had nothing verj* definite 
about them, and were often used one for the other. 

The religious drama was on the way to lose its purely [ 
liturgical character when the conquest of England had 
taken place. Under the reign of the Norman and ' 
Angevin kings, the tai^te for dramatic performances in- 
creased considerably ; within the first century af^cr Hastings i 
we find them numerous and largely attended. I 

The oldest representation the memory of which has 
come down to us took place at the beginning of the 
twelfth century, and had for its subject the siorj' of 
that St Catherine of Alexandria whom the Emperor 
Maximinus caused to be beheaded after she had cnnveried 
the fifty orators entrusted with the care of bringing 
her back to paganism by dint of their eloquence. The 
fifty orators received baptism, and were burnt alive." 
The representation was managed by a Mancel of good 
family called Geoffrey, whom Richard, abbot of St. Albans, 

' "Ci com*iice l'e«toit« At Griselidis;" MS. (r. aio,^, in the Nwinnftl 
library, forii, dated 1395, euUinc drBwin|2i> (pii'Stcly prin;ed, Pwu, 1832,— "Lc Mintiic (III iic$c d'Ori^uu," ed. Gueuord and Cciialn, Pom, 
1863, 4:0 (Docuinenu incdits). 

' This Etory wm very pojiulir during the Mid<11« A^m, in Fnuice and in 
EhbUtkI. It «-u, <.g., the iubJ4ct of « po«ni in Kni;ti>Ji cerw, thirteenth 
oraturr; "The Life of St. Katbennc," ed. Etaeukcl, Evly EngUiih Text 
Society, 1824, Svo. 




had a5l<ed to come from France to be the master 
Abbey school. But as he was late in starting, he fou 
on his coming that the school had been given to anot 
in his leisure he caused to be represented at Dunstable a 
play, or miracle, of St Catherine, "quendam ludum 
Sancta Ka.Ierina quern miracula vulgaritcr appellarau 
He borrowed from the sacristan at St Albans the Abbey 
copes to drL'ss his actora in ; but the night following upon 
the performance, the fire consumed his house ; all his 
books were burnt, and the copes too: "Wherefore. 
knowing how to indemnify God and St Albans, he ofle 
his own person a.s a holocau^it and took the habit in 
monastery. This explains the zeal with which, havi 
become abbot, he strove to enrich the convent with precious 
copes." For he Ijccame abbot, and died in 1 146. after a 
reign of twenty -six years,* and Matthew Paris, to whom wc 
owe those details, and whose taste for works of art is well 
known, gives a full enumeration of the splendid purple and 
gold vestments, adorned with precious stones, with which 
the Mancel GcnfTrcy enriched the treasury of the Abbey.' 
A little later in the same century, Fitzstcpheii, wh 
wrote under Henry II,, mentions as a common occurren 
the "representations of miracles" held in London.' In ih 
following century, under Henry III., some were written \. 
the English languagc.4 During the fourteenth century. 

* " VilK . . . Tiginli irium aht&ium Sincti Albanj," in " Msutuei Patte 
monuhi AllMnmME [Opera]," Ij>nc{i>a, 1659-40, 2 volt. ToL, vol iu p. 56 
" GwifriduE dcdmus Ktlox |«bb(u]." 

* Hid., p. 64. 
J He wriics, twdfth crniufjr: '' Londonk pro fpcciacnlis (heatrftlibvi. 

pro lu<li& ticeniciis. Indot habri lanctinm, rc|>rcw!tviaiinnr% miraculoruid 
**D«scripiio noljillsuma: civiiniu Londotiix," prinicil vrith Slow'i 
«f Lontlun." 1599, 410. 

* This cao be infcnctl from ih« existence of thai " ewril" lb« " Harrairing 
uf Hell," wrincn in the itylc of myitcrics, which Hm come down \o ut. ajid 
bclangi to that period. S«e above, p>443. Keli);iaus dnunu wen wriuen tn 
I.«iin b/ tubjccli of the kiD([s of England, and, amimi; othcn, bf Hlluy, a 




Ithe time of Chaucer, mysteries were at the height of their 
popularity ; their hemes were familiar to all, and the 
sayings of the same became proverbs. Kings themselves 
journeyed in order to be present at the representations ; 
Chaucer had seen them often, and the characters in his 
tales make frequent allusions to them ; his drunken miller 
cries " in Pilates vois" ; " Jolif Absolon " played the part 
of "king Herodes," and is it to be expected that an Aliwun 
couid resist king Herodes ? The Wife of Bath, dressed in 
her be*t garments, goes " to pleyes of miracles," and there 
tries to make acquaintance>i that may be turned into 
husbands when she wants them. " Hetidy Nicholas" 
qLDtes to the credulous carpenter the example of Noah, 
whose wife would not go on board, and who regretted 
that he had not built a separate ship for " hir-self 

A treatise, written in English at this period, against such 
representations, shows the extreme favour in which they 
stood with all clashes of society.' The enthusiasm was so 
general and boundless that it seems to the author indis- 
pensable to take the field and retort (for the question was 
keenly disputed) the arguments put forward to justify the 
performance of mysteries. The works and miracles of 
Christ, he observe^, were not done for play ; He did them 
' ernystfully," and we use them " in bourde and plej'e ! " 
It is treating with great familiarity the Almighty, who may 
well say : " Pley not with me, but plcy with thi pcre." 
Let us beware of His revenge ; it well may happen that 
"God takith more venjaunce on us than a lord that 
sodaynly slecth his scrvaunt for he pleyidc to homely 

diHipl« of Abflard, iwrtfih crniuiy, who teems lo have been an Anglo- 
Notmitn ; '* Hilerii vercuc ci Liicli," ed. Cluunpcllion-Figcac, Pbtik, iSjlt. A 
lew Unci in Fiench aic mticO wiili his Lalin, 

* " Here liicynnU a ticlisc of niiraclu plc]ringc," In Wil^hl uid Ilalliwcll, 
" K«tii|nu* Aniiqux," Ijondon, 1843, vol. ii. p. 41 ; end of (wmccnlh 




with hym : " and yet the lord's vengeance cannot be con* 
sidercd a trifling one. 

What do the abettors of mysteries answer to this ? They 
answer that " thci plcycn these myraclis in the worschip of 
God"; they lead men to think and meditate; dcviis are 
seen there carrying the wicked away to hell ; the sufferings 
of Christ arc represented, and the hardest are touched, 
they arc seen weepinsj for pity ; for people wept and laughed 
at the representations, openly and noisily. " wepynge bitcre 
teris." Beiidc-s there are men of different sorts, and some 
are so made that they cannot be converted but by mirthful 
means, " by gamcn and pley " ; and such performances do 
them much good. Must not, on the other hand, all men 
have " summe recreatioun " ? Better it is, " or lessc yvele, 
that thet han thyre rccreacoun by plcyingc of niyracli&^| 
than bi pleyinge of other j.ipis." And one more very ^^ 
sensible reason is given: "Sithen It is leveful to han the 
myraclis of God peyritid, why is not as wel Icvcful to han 
the myraclis of God plcycd . . . and bctcre thei ben holdcn 
in mennua mynde and oftere rehcrsid by the pleyinge of | 
hem than by the pcyntyngc, for this is a deed bok, the 
tothcr a quick." 

To those reasons, which he does not try to conceal, but 
on the contrary presents very forcibly, the fair-minded 
author answers his best. These representations are too 
amusing ; after such enjoyments, cvcr>'day life seems 
plain and dull; women of "yvil continaunse," Wives of 
Bath maybe, or worse, flock there and do not remain idle. 
The fact that they come does not prevent the priests 
from going too; yet it is "uttirly" forbidden them "not 
oncly to been myraele pleyere but also to heren or to seen 
myraclis picj'inge," But they set the dccTce at nought 
and "ple}'n in entirlodies," and go and see them: "The 
prestis that seyn hemsilf holy, and besien hem aboutc siche 
pleyis, ben verry ypocritis and lyerJs." All bounds have 




been overstepped ; it is no longer a taste, but a passion ; 
men are carried away by it ; citizens become avaricious 
and grasping to get money in view of the rv.- presentations 
and the amusements which follow : " To peycn thcr rente 
und ther dette thei wolcii grucchc, and to spende two so 
myche upon thcr piey thei wolen nothinge grucche." 
Merchants and tradesmen " bygjlen ther neghbors. in 
byinge and sellyng," that is "hideous coveytise," that '\9 
" maumetrie" ; and they do it "(o han to spenden on 
these miraclis." 

Many documents corroborate these statements and 
show the accuracy of the description. The fondness of 
priests for plays and similar pastimes is descanted upon 
by the Council of London in 1391.' A hundred years 
earlier an Englishman, in a poem which he urole in 
French, had pointed out exactly the same abuses: from 
which can be perceived how deeply rooted they were. 
Another folly, William dc Wadington' had said, has been 
invented by mad clerks ; it consists in what is called 
Miracles ; in spite of decrees they disguise themselves 
with masks, "It forseii41"3 Purely litui^ical drama, of 

' " ticm quod UbcTiiM, spi-cucuU aut alia locn liibon^la. wu ludot 
ao>fuB SI UlicitiM non &i.i]iienicni, t«ri more sscerdnulj w habcanr «t in 
gcitu, ne tpvirum nunitteimm, <]uod «hui, viTupcrio, luandalo vel dc«|>rctui 
lut>cBliu." Labbc, >«1. XXVI. col. 7^7. The Inliibi [ion ii meant foi pilou 
of oil wni : *' pfr<>by[cn iiipcnilahi uut alii saccriluict, pio].<rili lunipiibut tea 
aJias nuienuti." Innocent III. nnil Gir^ory IX. had vainly ilenaunced tbe 
tame nt>uu«, ntu! tried lo iloj} Ihcm ; " Cturici oi^eix vel eommereia loecnljiTia 
oon ei«i»atit, maxime inhoniMla. Mimit, joculatonbu* «1 hiitrioniLmt nan 
iniendaaL El ubcriuu piunus cviicnt, a\A foric caiuw neccuitatii ia iiincre 
coiittiiuti. " Richicr anr] Fncdbeigj ''Coipus Juris Caiiunid," il. p. 454. 

■ " Roberd of Brutine'» llxniUj-ng Synnc(writien *. 1>. 130J). wilh ihc French 
ticaiiie on which it is foumled, • Le Monuel ilta Fecliiw,' by William d« 
Wellington," ed. Furnivatl, it««bu[ghc Club, 1864, 4tO| pgi. 146 S. 

* Ua autre fulic a|>c[t 
Unt \f% fob cktcs conliovj, 
Qe •' mirnclct " sunt apclc ; 
Lut faces unt la d^ui 
Pai viiwra, li hntai- 




course, is permissible (an additional proof of its 
in England) ; certain representations can be held. " pro- 
vided they be chastely set up and included in the Church ^| 
icrvice," as is done when the burial of Christ or the " 
Resurrection is represented "to increase devotion." ' But 
to have *■ those mad gatherings in the streets of, town*, ot\ 
in the cenneteries, after dinner," to prepare for the idle such 
meeting-places, is a quite diRcrent thing ; if they tell you 
that they do it with gciod intent and to the honour of God, 
do not Ijelieve them , it is all " for the devil." If p'.ayen 
ask you to lend them horses, equipments, dresses, and 
oniaincnts of all sorts, don't fail to refuse. For the st;^ 
continued to live upon loans, and the example of the copes 

I of St Albans destroyed by fire had not deterred conwnts 
from continuing to lend sacred vestments to actors." In 
the case of sscrcd vestments, says William, "the sin isj 
much greater." In all this, as well as in all sorts of dances' 
and frolics, a heavy responsibility rests with the minstrels,-, 
they ply a dangerous trade, a "trop pcrilus mcster" ; theyj 
cause God to be forgotten, and the vanity of the world to 
be cherished. 

Mot a few among these English dramas, to popular 

' fnc putnt rei>rP*cnIiMiir(it, 
Mcxje ceo Hcit chnileincnt 
ICn office (Ic acini c^iii' 
QuKRi hom fet U IJeu wivim. 
Cum Je«u Criit Iv fit Ike 

Rn irpulcic eiLcil ]>o*£. 

Ill la tnuirccliun 

Put plui aver deruciua. 

* Ki en lur )ua »c d jlitem, 
Chivah ou lurticit In iprL'olm, 
Veiiure ou aultc oiKnement. 

Si vMlemcna icicnl dcdiec, 
Pill* grant d'iLuc-r Ml Ic pccHct ; 
Si prcstre uii clerc Iw tut ptcilj 
Bi«n dud etire chaasii6. 


down to I 



former days, have come down to us. Besides separate 
pieces, histories of saints (very scarce in Hngiand], or frag- 
ments of old scries, several collections have survived, the 
property whilom of gilds or munici|>alities. A number 
of towns kept up those shows, which attracted visitors, and 
were at the same time edifying, profitable, and amusing. 
From the fourteenth century the performances were in 
most cases intrusted to the gilds, each craft having as 
much as possible to represent a play in accordance with 
its particular trade. Shipwrights represented the building 
of the ark ; fishermen, the Flood ; goldsmiths, the coming 
of the three kings with their golden crowns ; wine mer- 
chants, the marriage at Cana, where a miracle took place 
very much in their line In other cases the plays were 
performed by gilds founded csi>ccially for that purpose; 
gild of Corpus Christi, of the Fatcr Nostcr, &C- Thia last 
had been created because "once on a time, a play setting 
forth the goodness of the Lord's Prayer was played in the 
city of V'ork, in which play al! manner of vices and sins 
were held up to scorn and the virtues were held up to 
praise. This play met with such favour that many said : 
' Would that this play could be kept in this city, for the 
health of souls and for the co'ofort of citizens and neigh- 
bours!' Hence the keeping up of that play in times lo 
come"(j'ear ijSgJ.* 

In a more or less complete state, the collections of the 
Mysteries performed al Chester, Coventry, Woodkirk, and 
York have been presen-ed, without speaking of fragments 
of other series. Most of those texts belong to the 
fourteenth century, but have been retouched al a later 
date." Old Mysteries did not escape the hand of the 

• Toulmin Sniilh. " Englith CilJ»," Undoii, iS?o, E.E.T.S., p. 139. 

* The principal nionuiucut* of ibc LnglUh tcljpoiu stage uc ihc followinj; 1 
" Giatcr IIh)-!," «1. Hi. Wrichi, Shaknpnic Sociely. 1843-7, x ndi., Sn> 





improvers, any more than old churches, where any 
who pleased added paintings, porches, and tracery, accord- 
ing to the fashion of the day. 

These dramatic entertainments, which thrilled a u-hole 
town, to which flocked, with equal Keal, peasants and 
craftsmen, citizenis, noblemen, kings and queens, which the 
Reformation succeeded in killing only after half a century's 
Aght, enlivened with incomparable glow the monotonous 
course of days and weeks. The occasion was a solemn 
one ; preparation was begun long beforehand ; it was an 

(Kvm to lure been tu^Hpted from the French, perhnpe from an Anglo- NonoBik 
oiiginal, nol ttcoveied yei|. 

"Th» P^eaniof Ihe Company of ShMcmtnuHlTiylara in Cex-eotty , , 
l«gclhee wilh othci I'ogeantt," ed. Th. Shj^cp, Cwciilry, 1817, 4to- By the 
RUM I " A Diwcitation on tlic Pogcanu 01 DiunMic MyKcrirs utdf^cUjr 
)jerforiii(il V. Coventry ... to wliich ore uliled the Pafieant of tbc Shcannen 
tmil Tayl<ji)> Company," Coventry. iSij, 410 (lllustratedl. 

" Liirliis Covcnitiz," cd- HsUiwell, Shnlce-pcue Society, r84t, gvo (tlK 
lefcning of ihit collection to the iowti of Covcntrj' '» pioboUy wrong). 

'■ My.iiciics" (■ cullcciion of play* perfinnned at Woodkirk, 
(bmialy WIdkiik. near Wakctlcld ; lec Skeai's iioic in Atktmstan, 
3, 1893), ed. Raiiier, Suiten Socirty, Newcaille, 1836, Sirti. 

" Vork Plays, the play* performed liy Ihe cnftt ot inyct<«HS of Vovk 
the day of Corput CHtiMi, in the l^lh, 15th, Mid l6t]i oeotnries," ecL 
ToululiD Smith, OkTord, 1885, Svo. 

"The DJEljy Mpicrics." cd. t'utnivalS, Nrw Shnkspcre Society, iIWj. 

" Play uf .\bnliniit and luuic " (fourleeniti century), in the *■ BoJce 
Biome, B eommonpkfe book of the ivth ceniury," ed. l^ey Toulmin Smii 
|8S£, Svo. — " rUy oflhe&iccBnicrit" (Mvty of o miracle, a pUy of »lype 
in ErgUnil), ni. Whirley Slokca, rhitotogirJil Society Trmnsaoioni. Berl 
ili6o-6i, Svo. p. JO].— "A My*Iery of the Burial of Christ"; "A MyMoy 
of the KeMurtction": " Tliis h a play 10 be played on pwt on gudtriduy 
■fiernooe, and tbo oth^r pan opon Esictday ahernont," in Wrlglii axA 
Halliwdl, "Rcliquiic Aniiqiiic," 1841-3, vol. ii. pp. 1x4, ff., fmn « ^%, 
c( the Ikcginning d ihe Mxieentli ccniury.— See bIjo "The nndenc Coraidk 
Dninia," Ihrtc iny^Tcries in Corniah, lificenih ceiilury. ed. Narri«, Oxfcnl, 
1859, 2 vols. Svo {with a tranviation}. — For mraeis, ice A. W. Potlard, 
" Eiiutith Miracle Ployt, Morntitici and Interlude*," Oafurd, 1890, Svo. 

Od ttic (juotion of ihc Ibnniiiiion of the vuioitt cycio of English m^ttciia, 
and ihe way in wtudi ihcy arc connccicil, »cc A. Hohllield, ** [>lc aliea|[lUchra 
koUekiivmbiericn," in " AnGlia," u. p. 319, and Ch. Oavidton. " 
in the Engiish Mywc/y Ployt, n Ihcirit." \aIc University, 1893, Svo. 




important affair, an adair or State. Gilds taxed their 
members to secure a fair representation of the play 
assigned to them ; they were fined by the municipal 
authority in case the}' proved careless and ineRident, 
■or were behind their time to begin. 

Read as they are, without going back in our minds to 
times past and taking into account the circumstances 
of their composition, Mysteries may well be judged a gross, 
childish, and barbarous production. Still, they are worthy 
of great attention, as showing a side of the soul of our 
ancestors, who in all this did iJuir ivry test : for those 
performances were not got up anyhow: they were the lesult 
of prolonged care and attention. Not any man who wished 
was accepted as an actor ; some experience of the art was 
expected ; and in some towns even examinations took 
place. At York a decree of the Town Council ordains 
that long before the appointed day,"tn the tyme of lentyn" 
(while the performance it>ielf took place in summer, at the 
Corpus Christi celebration) "there shall be called afore the 
maire for the tymc bcyng four of the moste coniiyng dis- 
crete and able players within this Citie, to scrchc, here and 
examen all the plaiers and plaies and pagentes thrughoutc 
all the artificers belonging to Corpus Christi piaic And 
all suche as thay shall fyndc suRiciant in pcrsonne and 
connyng, to the honour of the Citie and worbhip of the 
saide craftes, for- to admitte and able ; and alt other 
insufticiant personnes. either in connyng, voice, or pcrsonne 
to discharge, ammove and avoidc." All crafts were bound 
to bring " furthe ther pageanlcK in order and course by 
good players, well arayed and openly spekyng, upon payn 
of lesying 100 s. to be p|tide to the chambre without any 
pardon."' These texts belong to the fifteenth century, but 
there are older ones ; and they show that from the be- 
ginning the dtfTerence between good and bad actors was 

1 " Vorl( PUys." pp. ii««», xmu. 



appreciated and great importance was attached to the 
gestures and deliver)-. The Mystery of "Adam" (in French, 
the work, it seems, of a Norman), which belongs to the 
twelfth century, commences with recommendations to 
players : " Be Adam well trained so as to answer at the 
appropriate time without any slackness or has-te. The 
same with the other actors ; let them speak in sedate 
fashion, wtih gestures fitting the words ; be they mindful 
not to add or suppress a syllabic in the verses ; and be 
their pronunciation constantly clear."' The amusement 
afforded by Mich exhibitions, the personal fame acquired 
by good actors, suddenly drawn from the shadow in which 
their working live^ had been spent till then, acted so 
powerfully on craftsmen that some would not go back 
to the shop, and, leaving their tools behind them, became 
professional actors ; thus shoeing that there was some 
widdom in the reproof set forth in the " Tretise of Miradis 

Once emerged from the Church, the drama had the 
whole town in which to display itself; and it filled the 
whole, town. On these days the city belonged to dramatic 
art ; each company had its cars or scaffolds, pagtants 
(placed on wheels in seme towns), each car being meant to 
represent one of the places where the e\'ents in the play 
happened. The complete series of scenes was exhibited at 
the main crossings, or on the prtncipaJ squares or open 
spaces in the town. The inhabitants of nciyhbuuring 
houses sat thus as in a front row, and enjoyed a most 
enviable privilege, so enviable that it was indeed envied, 
and at York, for example, they had to pay for it. After 

■ TUi pTeliroin&rr note it id Latin : '' Sit ipse Adam bene liutnicOH 
({uandn retpondcTc debcnl, n« ad letpandendum nimi* Ht vclox *ut oitoit 
lardui, nee ^lurn ipM, m4 omnc( p«non« suit. lii<>tiviantar iit c«mpMiU 
(KlurniiK 1 t\ ^aluiu bciitni conv<(ucn(Giii rd dc ()u« loc(iuu)lur, el, in 
iiihiui> nee uilntMin adduK ncc dcnuini, *cd on)D«s lirmitci profluncieat.** 
*-Adani, MfUife du XII*. Sink,*' ed. Paliuite, Puii, 1S77, 8ro. 




1417 the choosing of the places for the representations was 
regulated by auction, and the plays were performed under 
the windows of the highest bidders. In other cases the 
scaffolds were fixed ; so that the representation was per* 
formed only at one place. 

The form of the scaffolds varied from town to 
town. At Chester "these pagiantes or cariage wa* a 
highe place made like a house with two rowines bcinge 
open on y* tope: the lower rowme they apparrelled and 
dressed them selves ; and in the higher rowme they 
played : and they sioode upon six wheeles. And when 
they had done with one cariage in one place, they wheeled 
the same from one strccte to an other." ' In some cases 
the scaffolds were not so high, and boards made a com- 
munication between the raised platform and the ground ; 
a horseman could thus ride up tJie scaffold :■" Here Erode 
ragis in the pagond and in the stretc also." * 

Sometimes the upper room did not remain open, but 
a curtain was drawn, according to the necessity of the. 
action. The heroes of the play moved about the place, 
and went from one scaffold to another ; dialotjut then 
took place between players on the ground and pla>'crs 
on the boards : " Here thci take Jhesu and lede hym 
in gret hast to Herowde ; and the Herowdys scaffald 
xal unclose, shcwj'ng Ilerowdes tn astat, allc the Jewys 
knelyng except Annas and Cayaphas." ^ Chaucer speaks 
of the " scaffold bye" on which jolif Absolon plaj-ed 
Herod; king Herod in fact was always enthroned high 
above the common rabble. 

The arrangements adopted In England differed little, at 
we see. from the French ones ; and it could scarcely be 
otherwise, as the taste for these dramas had been imported 

■ '* Digby Mj^terie*," p. «ix. 

" "Tht ftiK«nbi . . . of Conmtry," t/l. Shdrp. ■ 

3 |So nllcdl -- CovGiiirjr .M>'4tw:Jas," Trial u( Christ. 



by the Normans and Angevins. Neither in England mF 
in France were there ever any of those six-fitoricd theatres 
described by the brothers Parfait, each story being suf*- 
posetl to represent a different place or country. To Imp 
to truth, wc should, on the contrary, picture to ourselra 
those famous buildings stretched all along on the ground, 
with their different compartments scattered round the 
public square 

But wc have better than words and descriptions to gfrt 
us an idea of the sight ; wc have actual pictures, offering 
to view all the details of the performances. An exquisite 
miniature of Jean Fouquct, preserved at Chantilly, which 
has never been studied as it ought to be with rcfcrtrncc to 
this question, has for its subject the life of St. Apoliinii 
Instead of painting a fancy picture. Fouquct has chosen to 
represent the martyrdom of the saint as it was acted in a 
miracle play.' The main action takes place on the ground; 
Apotlinia is thcre^ tn the middle of the cxecutioi 

■ The French drtmi written on ihls mibjecl U iMt (it i«. huw e if T " 
mcniionnd in Ihc analogue of n Iranksrller of ihfl lifte«nlh cnMuty ; m« " L« 
H]ral6r<3," by Petit de Jollerille, vol. ii. chap. iixiiL, "Mystire* perdiu")! 
but Ihn prccUioa uf ilclnib in the miniatucc i» such that I bad na difficulty ia 
idcntirying ihe partlculu version of the icvty fallowed by ihc dnunaiiu. It b 
xn KjiQcryphBl life nf ApolliniB, in which it cxplBinrd how the ii the nini to 
be applied to whvn lutF'e'iJiic [uriiliache. Thu epitode ii ihe one FoiiqiMi h*t 
rtpmenied. AiiUcO to tenaunot Chriti, she antwen • " ■ Quundiu vixcro in 
Imc bugjili vitn, liii^ui nica cl o) iiieum Don ccMabuni piutiuiitiatc Uudetn ct 
boncircm otntiipoicniii Ori.' Quo audiio jusHI [inipciaiar] duriuimin utipitci 
paiaii ct in igne duio* fieri ei -^x-xwmvm ul kIc dentei ejus et per lales uipitcs 
iKderent, njlicct dentlum cum fotdpe euereniur ndleitiu. In ilU hom onvft 
S. Apollinis dicent: ' Dnmine Jrui Chiiite, pi«cor le ut quicuimiiac dhm 
pauionis mac devote perc);crint . . . dgloiem dcntium kul cafRtia tuinqtMn 
acnlluil paaiiiincs.' " The atiKcU iheicupon (lentcd on wnoilcn stain, in 
Fouquct'^ miniature) cume duMn and tell her tint hei ptayer luu ticvn 
gt^nicd. " ActH ut vidcntur aporryphi S, Apollonia;," in Bollandvft, *' Aclk 
Saticlorum," Antwerp, vol. il. p. iSo, under the 9th Febfuniy, 

Sec al>o the minialurei ofa later dale (nxlccnlb centur)) in the MS. uf the 
Valendcnoci Pauiun, MS. fr. ■S,>j6 in the Naiiui»l Library, aad 
modal made after ooe of ihcm, vxhibited in the Opjra Muaenm, Pwii. 



Round the place are scaflblds with a lower room and an 
upper room, as at Chester, and there are curtains to close 
them. One of those boxes represents Paradise ; angels 
with folded arms, quietly seated on the wooden steps of 
their stairs, await the moment when they must speak ; 
another is filled with musicians playing the organ and 
other instruments ; a third contains the throne of the 
king. The throne is empty ; for the kinEf, Julian th« 
apostate, his sceptre, adorned ■w%thj!furs-dg-/j's, in his hand, 
has come down his ladder to take part in the main action. 
Hell has its usual shape of a monstrous head, with opening 
and closing jaws ; it stands on the ground, for the better 
accommodation of devils, who had constantly to interfere 
in the drama, and to keep the interest of the crowd alive, 
by running suddenly through it, with their feathers and 
animaLi' skins, howling and grinning ; "to the great terror 
of little children," says Rabelais, who, like Chaucer, had 
often been present at such dramas. Several devils are to 
be seen in the miniature ; they have cloven feet, and stand 
outside the hell-mouth ; a buffoon also is to be seen, who 
raises a laugh among the audience and shows his scum for 
the martyr by the means described three centuries earlier 
in John of Salisbury's book, exhibiting his person in a way 
" quam erubescat videre vel cynicus." 

Besides the scafTolds, boxes or " estableis " meant for 
actors, others arc reserved for spectators of importance, or 
those who paid best. This comminglingof actors and spec- 
tators would seem to us somewhat confusing ; but people 
were not then very exacting : with them illusion was easily 
caused, and never broken. This magnificent part of the 
audience, besides, with its rich garments, was itself a 
sight ; and so little objection was made to the presence of 
beholders of that sort that wc shall find them seated on 
theShakespercan stage as well as on the stage of Corneille 
and of Moiiire. " I was on the stage, meaning to listen to 



the play . . ." sa)*^ the lirastc of "Les Facheux." Infc 
time of Shakc<;pcare the custom follotvcd ivas even axRl 
gainst theatrical illusion, as there were gentlemra oti 
only on the sides of the scene, but also behind the actcn; 
they filled a vast box fronting the pit. 

The dresses were rich : thi^ is the best that can be said 

of them. SaintH enwrc-athed their chins \vith curling betnb 

of gold ; God the Father was dressed as a pope or a bishop 

For good reasons the audience did not ask much in the waj- 

of historical accuracy ; all it wanted was s^its. Copes and 

tiaras were in its eyes religious signs by excellence, and in 

the wearer of such they recognised God without hesitatkm. 

The turban of the Saracens, Mahomet the prophet of the 

infidels, were known to the mob, which saw in them tht 

signs and symbols of Jrreligiousness and impiety. Hercd, 

for this cause, wore a turban, and swore premature oaths 

by " Mahoimd,*' People were familiar with symbols, and 

the use of them was continued ; the painters at the 

\ Renaissance represented St. Stephen with a stone in his 

I hand and St. Paul with a sword, which stone and swon) 

•' stood for s)'mbols, and the sight of them evoked aj] the 

', doleful tale of their sufferings and death. 

The authors of Mysteries did not pay. as we may well 
believe, great attention to the rule of the three Unities, 
The events included in the French Mystery of the " Viol 
Testament " did not take place in one day, but in four 
thousand years. The most distant localities were repre- 
sented next to ench other: Rome, Jerusalem, Marseilles. 
The scaffolds huddled close together scarcely gave an id« 
of geographical realities ; the imagination of the beholden 
was expected to supply what was wanting : and so it dkL 
A few square yards of ground (sometimes, it must be ac- 
knowledged, of water) were supposed to be the Mediter- 
ranean ; Manieilles was at one end. and JalTa at the other. 
A few minutes did duty for months, j^ears, or centuri< 



Herod sends a messenger to Tiberius : the tctrarch has 
scarcely finished his speech when his man is already at 
Rt .lie, and delivers his message to the emperor. Noah 
gets into his ark and shuts his window ; here a stlcnce 
lasting a minute or so ; the window opens, and Moah 
declares that the forty days arc past ("Chester Plays"). 

To render, however, his task easier to the public, some 
precautions were taken to let them perceive where they 
were Sometimes the name of the place was written on a 
piece of wood or canvas, a clear and honest means.' It 
worked so successfully that it was still resorted to in 
Kliiabcthan times ; we tiee " Thebes written in great 
letters upon an otde doore," says Sir Philip Sidney, and 
without asking for more we bound " to beleeve that it 
is Thebes." In other ca-se-; the actor followed the sneering 
advice Boileau was to express later, and in very simple 
fashion declared who he was : I am Herod ! I am Tiberius ! 
Or again, when they moved from one place to another, ihey 
nacned both: now wc arc arrived, 1 recognise Marseilles; 
"her is the lond of Mcrcylic."^ Most of those invcntiong 
were long found to answer, and very often Shakespeare 
had no belter ones to use. The same necessities caused 
him to make up for the deficiency of the scenery by his 
wonderful descriptions of landscapes, castles, and wild 
moors. All that poetry would have been lost had he had 
painted scenery at his disposal. 

Some attempts at painted scenery were made, it is true, 
but so plain and primitive that the thing again acted as a 
symbol rather than as the representation of a place. A 

* Whw the pluc is — 

■ . . VouB le povn congnoian 
Fat I'ctcrild ijuv dcHiiu vo]ki esbe. 

ftokigac of a play ai the Nativiiy, pcffonned at Roiuu, 1474 1 Pedl de 
Jultcirilk. " Lc» Mjfiliro." vol, i. p. yfj. 
' " Digbj Myileri«," ed KurnlvaJl, p. r»7. 




throne meant the palace of the king. God dKHdes 
from darkness: "Now must be exhibited a sheet 
know you, one half all white and the other half all 
The creation of animals comes nearer the real 
" Now must be let loose little birds that will Ay in the i 
and must be placed on the ground, ducks, swans, 
. . . with as many strange beasts as it will hai'e bea 
possible to secure." But truth absolute was observed wfaa 
the state of innocence had to be represented : '" Now imat 
Adam rise all naked and look round with an air af 
admiration and wonder."' Beholders doubtless retumoi 
his wonder and admiratioa Jn the Chester Mysteries i 
practical recommendation is made to the actors w^^o 
personate the first coupler "Adam and Eve shall stande 
nakede, and shall not be ashamed."" The proper time 
tu be ashamed will come a little later. The serpent 
steals "out of a hole"; man falls: "Now must Adam 
cover himself and feign to be ashamed. The woman must 
also be seized with shame, and cover herself with her 
hands." 3 

If painted scenery was greatly neglected, machinery 
received more attention. That characteristic of modem 
times, yCHSt through which the old world ha.'* been trans- 
formed, the hankering after the unattainable, which caused 
so many great deeds, had also smaller results ; it aflfected 
\ these humble details. Painted canvas was neglected, but 
people laboured at the inventing of machinery. While 
sh<^et half white and half black was hung to represent ligl 
and chaos, in the drama of "Adam," so early as 

' "Myit*re du viell Tcilament." Paris, 1543. with cUflOQt Cirt«, "poiji 
pitu faritr ini«llig(«ce-" Many other editions; one tn<vl«rn one bf B*roa 
de Rotluchild, Si>cicl^ det Ancient Texlcs Fruifab, 1878 ff. 

• "OiMtct rii.