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The other monkish historian, who supplied the romancers with materials, was our Geoffry of Monmouth. For it is not to be sup. posed, that these children of fancy (as Shakspeare in the place quoted above, finely calls them, insinuating that fancy hath its infancy as well as manhood) should stop* in the midst of so extraordinary a career, or confine themselves within the lists of the terra firma. From him, therefore, the Spanish romances took the story of the British Arthur, and the knights of his round table, his wife Gueniver, and his conjurer Merlin. But still it was the same subject, (essential to books of chivalry) the wars of Christians against Infidels. And, whether it was by blunder or design, they changed the Saxons into Saracens. I suspect by design; for chivalry without a Saracen was so very lame and imperfect a thing, that even the wooden image, which turned round on an axis, and served the knights to try their swords, and break their lances upon, was called by the Italians and Spaniards, Sa. ricino and Sarazino; so closely were these two ideas connected.
In these old romances there was much religious superstition mixed with their other extravagancies; as appears even from their very names and titles. The first romance of Launcelot of the Lake and King Arthur and his Knights, is called The History of Saint Greaal. This saint Greaal was the famous relick of the holy blood pretended to be collected into a vessel by Joseph of 'Arimathea. So another is called Kyrie Eleison of Montauban. For in those days Deuteronomy and Paralipomenon were supposed to be the names of holy men. And as they made saints of the knights-errant, so they made knights-errant of their tutelary saints; and each nation advanced its own into the order of chi. valry. Thus every thing in those times being either a saint or a devil, they never wanted for the marvellous. In the old ro. mance of Launcelot of the Lake, we have the doctrine and discipline of the church as formally delivered as in Bellarmine him, self: “Là confession (says the preacher) ne vaut rien si le cæur n'est repentant; et si tu es moult & eloigné de l'amour de nostre Seigneur, tu ne peus estre recordé si non par trois choses: premierement par la confession de bouche; secondement par une contrition de cœur ; tiercement par peine de cæur, & par oeuvre d'aumône & charité. Telle este la droite voye d'aimer Dieu. Or va & si te confesse en cette maniere & recois la discipline des mains de tes confesseurs, car c'est le signe de merite.--Or mande le roy ses evesques, dont grande partie avoit en l'ost, & vinrent tous en sa chapelle. Le roy vint devant eux tout nud en pleurant, & tenant son plein point de vint menuës verges, si les jetta devant
* " For it is not to be supposed, that these Children of Fancy, as Shak. speare calls them, insinuating thereby that fancy hath its infancy as well as manhood, should stop" dc.] I cannot conceive how Shakspeare, by call. ing Armado the Child of Fancy, insinuates that fancy hath its infancy as well as manhood. The showing that a woman had a child, would be a strange way of proving her in her infancy.-By calling Armado the Child of Fancy, Shakspeare means only to describe him as fantastical, M. Mason.
eux, & leur dit en soupirant, qu'ils prissent de luy vengeance, car je suis le plus vil pecheur, &c.-Apres prinst discipline & d'eux & moult doucement la receut.” Hence we find the divinity lectures of Don Quixote, and the penance of his 'squire, aré both of them in the ritual of chivalry. Lastly, we find the knight-errant, after much turmoil to himself, and disturbance to 2m2/2Ỉ2ņēmēņ2Ầ2–2?Â2Ò2Â2Ò2ÂòÂ2Ò2ÂòÂ2 Ò2ÂÒēmēģti2–22Â§2222 in a monastery; or turned Hermit, and became a saint in good earnest. And this again will let us into the spirit of those dialogues between Sancho and his master, where it is gravely debated whether he should not turn saint or archbishop.
There were several causes of this strange jumble of nonsense and religion. As first, the nature of the subject, which was a religious war or crusade; secondly, the quality of the first writers, who were religious men; and thirdly, the end of writing many of them, which was to carry on a religious purpose. We learn, that Clement V, interdicted justs and tournaments, because he understood they had much hindered the crusade decreed in the council of Vienna. “ Torneamenta ipsa & hastiludia sive juxtas in regnis Franciæ, Angliæ, & Almanniæ, & aliis nonnullis provinciis, in quibus ea consuevere frequentiús exerceri, specialiter interdixit.” Extrav. de Torneamentis C. unic. temp. Ed. 1. Religious men, I conceive, therefore, might think to forward the design of the crusades by turning the fondness for tilts and tour. . naments into that channel. Hence we see the books of knighterrantry so full of solemn justs and torneaments held at Trebi. zonde, Bizance, Tripoly, &c. Which wise project, I apprehend, it was Cervantes's intention to'ridicule, where he makes his knight purpose it as the best means of subduing the Turk, to assemble all the knights-errant together by proclamation.*
Warburton. It is generally agreed, I believe, that this long note of Dr. Warburton's is, at least, very much misplaced. There is not a single passage in the character of Armado, that has the least relation to any story in any romance of chivalry. With what propriety, therefore, a dissertation on the origin and nature of those romances is here introduced, I cannot see; and I should humbly advise the next editor of Shakspeare to omit it. That he may have the less scruple upon that head, I shall take this opportunity of throwing out a few remarks, which, I think, will be sufficient to show, that the learned writer's hypothesis was formed upon a very hasty and imperfect view of the subject.
At setting out, in order to give a greater value to the information which is to follow, he tells us, that no other writer has given any tolerable account of this matter; and particularly, that “ Monsieur Huet, the Bishop of Avranches, who wrote a formal treatise of the Origin of Romances, has said little or nothing of these [books of chivalry] in that superficial work.”—The fact is
* See Part II, 1, 5, c. 1.
true, that Monsieur Huet has said very little of Romances of Chivalry; but the imputation, with which Dr. W. proceeds to load him, of_" putting the change upon his reader,” and “ dropping his proper subject for another, “that had no relation to it more than in the name,” is unfounded.
It appears plainly from Huet's introductory address to De Segrais, that his object was to give some account of those romances which were then popular in France, such as the Astrée of D'Urfé, the Grand Cyrus of De Scuderi, &c. He defines the Romances of which he means to treat, to be fictions des avantures amoureuses, and he excludes epic poems from the number, because_“Enfin les poëmes ont pour sujet une action militaire ou politique, et ne traitent d'amour que par occasion; les Romans au contraire ont l'amour pour sujet principal, et ne traitent la politique et la guerre que par incident. Je parle des Romans réguliers; car la plûpart des vieux Romans François, Italiens, et Espagnols sont bien moins amoureux que militaires.” After this declaration, surely no one has a right to complain of the author for not treating more at large of the old romances of chivalry, or to stigmatise his work as superficial, upon account of that omis. sion. I shall have occasion to remark below, that Dr. W. who, in turning over this superficial work, (as he is pleased to call it) seems to have shut his eyes against every ray of good sense and just observation, has condescended to borrow from it a very gross mistake. .
Dr. W.'s own positions, to the support of which his subsequent facts and arguments might be expected to apply, are two: 1. That Romances of Chivalry being of Spanish original, the heroes and the scene were generally of that country; 2. That. the subject of these Romances were the crusades of the European Christians against the Saracens of Asia and Africa. The first position, being compli. cated, should be divided into the two following: 1. That Ro. mances of Chivalry were of Spanish original; 2. That the heroes and the scene of them were generally of that country.
Here are therefore three positions, to which I shall say a few words in their order; but I think it proper to premise a sort of definition of a Romance of Chivalry: if Dr. W. had done the same, he must have seen the hazard of systematizing in a subject of such extent, upon a cursory perusal of a few modern books, which indeed ought not to have been quoted in the discussion of a question of antiquity.
A Romance of Chivalry, therefore, according to my notion, is any fabulous narration, in verse or prose, in which the principal characters are knights, conducting themselves in their several situations and adventures, agreeably to the institutions and customs of Chivalry. Whatever names the characters may bear, whether historical or fictitious, and in whatever country or age, the scene of the action may be laid, if the actors are represented as knights, I should call such a fable a Romance of Chivalry.
I am not aware that this definition is more comprehensive than it ought to be: but, let it be narrowed ever so much; let any
other be substituted in its room; Dr. W.'s first position, that Ro. mances of Chivalry were of Spanish original, cannot be maintained. Monsieur Huet would have taught him better. He says very truly, that “les plus vieux," of the Spanish romances, " sont posterieurs à nos Tristans et à nos Lancelots, de quelques centaines d'années.” Indeed the fact is indisputable. Cervantes, in a passage quoted by Dr. W. speaks of Amadis de Gaula (the first four books) as the first book of chivalry printed in Spain. Though he says only printed, it is plain that he means written. And indeed there is no good reason to believe that Amadis was written long before it was printed. It is unnecessary to enlarge upon a system, which places the original of Romances of Chivalry in a nation, which has none to produce older than the art of printing.
Dr. W.'s second position, that the heroes and the scene of these romances were generally of the country of Spain, is as unfortunate as the former. Whoever will take the second volume of Du Fresnoy's Bibliotheque des Romans, and look over his lists of Romans de Chevalerie, will see that not one of the celebrated heroes of the old romances was a Spaniard. With respect to the general scene of such irregular and capricious fictions, the writers of which were used, literally, to " give to airy nothing, a local habitation and a name," I am sensible of the impropriety of asserting any thing positively, without an accurate examination of many more of them than have fallen in my way. I think, however, I might venture to assert, in direct contradiction to Dr. W. that the scene of them was not generally in Spain. My own notion is, that it was very rarely there; except in those few romances which treat expressly of the affair at Roncesvalles.
His last position, that the subject of these romances were the cru. sades of the European Christians, against the Saracens of Asia and Africa, might be admitted with a small amendment. If it stood thus: the subject of some, or a few, of these romances were the crusades, &c. the position would have been incontrovertible ; but then it would not have been either new, or fit to support a system.
After this state of Dr. W.'s hypothesis, one must be curious to see what he himself has offered in proof of it. Upon the two first positions he says not one word: I suppose he intended that they should be received as axioms. He begins his illustration of his third position, by repeating it, with a little change of terms, for a reason which will appear. “ Indeed the wars of the Christians against the Pagans were the general subject of the Romances of Chivalry. They all seem to have had their ground-work in two fabulous monkish historians, the one, who, under the name of Turpin, Archbishop of Rheims, wrote The History and Achievements of Charlemagne and his Twelve Peers :--the other, our Geoffry of Monmouth.” Here we see the reason for changing the terms of crusades and Saracens into wars and Pagans; for, though the expedition of Charles into Spain, as related by the Pseudo-Turpin, might be called a crusade against the Saracens, yet unluckily, our Geoffry has nothing like a crusade, nor a single Saracen in his whole history; which indeed ends before Mahomet was born. I must observe too, that the speaking of Turpin's history under the title of “ The History of the Achievements of Charlemagne and his Twelve Peers,” is inaccurate and unscholarlike, as the tiction of a limited number of twelve peers is of a much later date than that history.
However, the ground-work of the Romances of Chivalry being thus marked out and determined, one might naturally expect some account of the first builders and their edifices; but instead of that we have a digression upon Oliver and Roland, in which an attempt is made to say something of those two famous characters, not from the old romances, but from Shakspeare, and Don Quixote, and some modern Spanish romances. My learned friend, the Dean of Carlisle, has taken notice of the strange mistake of Dr. W. in supposing that the feats of Oliver were recorded under the name of Palmerin de Oliva; a mistake, into which no one could have fallen, who had read the first page of the book. And I very much suspect that there is a mistake, though of less magnitude, in the assertion, that “in the Spanish romance of Bernardo del Carpio, and in that of Roncesvalles, the feats of Roland are recorded under the name of Roldan el Encan. tador.” Dr. W.'s authority for this assertion was, I apprehend, tke following passage of Cervantes, in the first chapter of Don Quixote : “ Mejor estava con Bernardo del Carpio porque en Roncesvalles avia muerto à Roldan el Encantado, valiendose de la industria de Hercules, quando ahogò à Anteon el hijo de la Tierra entre los braços.” Where it is observable, that Cervantes does not appear to speak of more than one romance; he calls Roldan el encantado, and not el encantador; and moreover the word encantado is not to be understood as an addition to Roldan's name, but merely as á participle, expressing that he was enchanted, or made invulnerable by enchantment.
But this is a small matter. And perhaps encantador may be an error of the press for encantado. From this digression Dr. W. returns to the subject of the old romances in the following man. ner. “This driving the Saracens out of France and Spain, was, as we say, the subject of the elder romances. And the first that was printed in Spain was the famous Amadis de Gaula.” According to all common rules of construction, I think the latter sentence must be understood to imply, that Amadis de Gaula was one of the elder romances, and that the subject of it was the driving of the Saracens out of France and Spain; whereas, for the reasons already given, Amadis, in comparison with many other romances, must be considered as a very modern one; and the subject of it has not the least connexion with any driving of the Saracens whatsoever.-But what follows is still more extraordinary. " When this subject was well exhausted, the affairs of Europe afforded them another of the same nature. For after that the western parts had pretty well cleared themselves of these inhospitable guests; by the excitements of the popes, they carried their arms against them into Greece and Asia, to support the Byzantine empire, and recover the holy sepulchre. This gave