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was Cynddelw, a man of varied
"Ni chymeraf gymmun
"I will not receive the communion
"Minstrels persevere in their evil practices;
They pass their lives away in vanity.
On the other hand, the bards speak of "false, luxurious, and gluttonous monks, who had a false form of holy life." Lewis Glyn Cothy says "One friar sells little glass images; another carves a relic from a piece of alder wood. One has a grey Curig beneath his cloak; and another carries Seiriol, with nine cheeses under his arm.
Curig and Seiriol were British, or old Cymric, saints, whose images were thus hawked about; and the tone of the satire may be compared with Chaucer's description of the Pardoner, in the prologue to his "Canterbury Tales."
As monks and bards increased in number, they became more and more exasperated against each other; they were rival mendicants, and, therefore, in one another's way. In their mutual encounters, the monks were generally overmatched, for the wit of the bards was aided by the popular contempt into which the friars had fallen. Many of the poems of Cynddelw addressed to princes, as to Owain Gwynedd and Owain Cyveiliog, display mastery over words and skill in versification; but his diction is often
We have said that the reign of Llewelyn the Great (1194-1240) was the culminating point of this literature ; it comprises part of the career of Cynddelw, whose death is placed in the year 1200, and includes the names of bards who are hardly his inferiors, or who in some respects excel him.
Llewelyn ab Iorwerth, King of North Wales, has been surnamed the Great, partly from his great ability in for even the refractory princes of maintaining order throughout Wales, Powys acknowledged his supremacy; and partly from his determined resistance against English aggression,which, however, was conducted by the illstarred King John, and the unfortunate Henry III. He was intimately connected by affinity with the English royal family, having married John's daughter, Joanna, who herself does not appear free from the paternal perversity of character; for we read in the Chronicle of the Princes, under the date 1230, 66 that year William Bruse was hanged by Llewelyn, son of chamber of the Prince, with the PrinIorwerth, having been caught in the cess Jannet, daughter of King John, and wife of the Prince."
Among the bards who flourished markable is Davydd Benvras, twelve during this reign, one of the most reof whose poems have been preserved, most of them addressed to Llewelyn the Great. This bard is more coherent than most of his contemporaries what he has to say he puts into thoughts fall short of sublimity, they a few nervous words; and if his found in many of the bardic remains. are less trivial than those which are In one of his odes to Llewelyn, the passages in which he alludes to the ancient bards are very spirited
"O may my verse like Merddin's flow,
Could I poetic heights attain, Yet still unequal were my strain Thy wondrous deeds to grace. E'en Taliesin, bardic king, Unequal were thy praise to sing, Thy glories to retrace.' Llewelyn ab Gruffydd, the last of the Welsh princes, reigned for nearly thirty years (1254–1282), sole King of North Wales. During a considerable portion of his reign he maintained a gallant resistance, first against Henry III., and then against Edward I. The number of poets who lived during his reign was not great, nor are their works particularly meritorious; indeed, in the early part of it, they scarcely reach mediocrity. But towards the close, when the curtain fell upon the independent existence of the Cymry as a nation, we meet with several very fine compositions. The best, perhaps, is the elegy upon Llewelyn, by Gruffydd ab Yr Ynad Coch, who laments, in strains of deepest woe, the loss of the national chief :"Frequent is heard the voice of woe, Frequent the tears of sorrow flow: Such sounds as erst in Camlan heard, Roused to wrath old Arthur's bard; Cambria's warrior we deplore, Our Llewelyn is no more.
Thou great Creator of the world,
down to us; perhaps, as being popular songs, they were hardly thought worth recording. There is one quoted by Mr. Stephens from the Iolo MSS., which is remarkable for peculiarity of versification: the first word of each couplet caps the last word of the preceding. The following translation of two stanzas will convey, as far as the differences of language will allow, some idea of the original.
SONG TO THE SUMMER.
"Summer I sing, and its sway o'er the poet, Sing to its beauty where best we may view it;
View the sweet blossoms where love's feet would wander,
Down in the woodlands of green growth so tender.
Tender 's the sight, where the grassy
In sport with the branch that over it bendeth ;
Bendeth for loved ones to meet in their bowers,
And hide with wild elves from sungleams and showers.
"Bowers that the elves the more love the more laden,
And love with their gambols at moonlight to gladden;
Glad is the bard, when 'tis hardest to reckon
Beauties that aye for his frenzied glance beckon ;
Beckon from hillock and green mead so seemly,
All hailing the season that reigneth supremely:
Supremely in richness, in love, and in ardour,
To every disciple of song the rewarder."
It is a singular fact that the Cymric tales, stories, and romances, as we Where shall we flee? to whom complain, have them, are written not in poetry
Our king, beloved Llewelyn slain !"
If there was a lack of poetry during the reign of the last Llewelyn, after his death matters became still worse; for as Wales had been conquered, and the national existence had ceased, the fountain of poetic inspiration no longer flowed.
It is possible, however, that the poems which we possess form but an imperfect reflex of the intellectual activity of this period. Everywhere we find mention of songs and ballads, no remnants of which have come
but in prose. The bards, properly so called, were an exclusive order, and had created an artificial taste, erecting a standard from which no one was allowed to depart. Hence, bardic poetry was principally religious or political-devoted to God and the Prince; so that many of the bards thought it beneath their dignity to treat of lighter subjects. Still, tales and stories, in a prose form, were current in the country, and were contemptuously termed by the bards, Mabinogion (pronounced "Mabbynoggion," g always hard), that is,
"Tales for Children,” or "Juvenile Tales." Some of them have the character of Chivalric Romances, while others would appear to claim a higher antiquity; and we may divide them generally into two classes-(1) those which celebrate Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, (2) those which are devoted to other heroes.
This fact is certain, that Arthur plays an unimportant part in the poems of the bards, while he is a hero of the greatest dignity in the prose romances; and it is curious to observe how steadily fiction progressed. Arthur, an insignificant chieftain in the sixth century, grew into a valorous warrior in the eighth, and by the twelfth had become emperor of the whole civilized world. "The Emperor Arthur was at Caerlleon-uponUsk," is a phrase commonly occurring in the Mabinogion, with occasional variations of Camelot instead of Caerlleon.
The Mabinogion, therefore, are Cymric prose romances-brilliant, imaginative, redundant in imagery even to a fault, and animated by a truly chivalrous spirit. We find a restless aspiration after ideal greatness-a desire to rise above the cold reality of fact, and to attain that state where man, raised far above his ordinary condition, is clothed with every attribute of power and greatness. Here life is decked out in the grandest colours, extraordinary acts are performed, dignified sentiments are expressed, and exquisite sensibilities are displayed. The Arthurs, Tristrams, and Percivals revel in most gorgeous scenes; they live in an atmosphere of their own; all are animated by a desire for happiness-a yearning for ideal perfection. Quite in keeping with this tendency of the more worldly romances is the pursuit of sinless perfection and complete sanctity exhibited in the romances of the St. Greal, or holy vessel which was said to have contained our Saviour's blood. It sometimes happens that the legends of the Round Table, and those of the St. Greal, are combined in one romance.
We are indebted for a splendid edition of the Mabinogion to Lady Charlotte Guest. This very learned lady (femina doctissima, as Zeuss styles her), the only daughter of Albemarle, ninth Earl of Lindsey,
became the wife of Sir Josiah John Guest, of Dowlais, in the county of Glamorgan. She published, in 1838, a series of prose romances, or Mabinogion, from ancient Welsh manuscripts, and especially from the Red Book of Hergest-a volume which is preserved in the library of Jesus College, Oxford. This edition is thoroughly well executed. First, the Welsh text is given, then a good English translation, and lastly, notes and references to old French and old English romances. To the first tale, "The Lady of the Fountain," is appended an entire copy of the corresponding French romance, "Le Chevalier au Lion," by Chrestien de Troyes, copied from a vellum folio in the Royal (now Imperial) Library at Paris.
Of course, the question might be raised, which were the original sources? whether, in fact, the Welsh romances are not mere translations from the French. We propose to consider this question hereafter; but at the first glance, there is an argument which tells in favour of the Welsh, namely, that they are characterized by great simplicity, whereas the French versions bear the mark of elaborate polish and amplification. The English are generally allowed to be translations from the French, or, at least, imitations of French originals.
Another argument in favour of the Welsh is, that in the romances of King Arthur, the leading names of men and places have a Cymric origin -as Owen, Gawain, Caerlleon, Camelot; while there could have been no motive for so numerous a collection of Cymric names, if the stories had not originated either in Brittany, or in the Island of Britain.
In literary studies, no inquiry is more full of suggestive thought than a comparison of Greek literature with the development of European literature during the Middle Ages. One coincidence deserves notice. In the transition from poetry to prose, the the earliest attempts were made by drawing up prose versions of the old legends. Most people are acquainted with the Morte d' Arthur, translated from the French, and published by Sir Thomas Malory. This work was compiled at a time when the romances had ceased to be poetical, and had assumed a prose form. Similarly, in
the decline of epic poetry among the Greeks, we find Acusilaus, and other "logographers"-the predecessors of Herodotus-drawing up the ancient legends in prose.
As far as this argument leads us, we should not be disposed to assign a very early date to the Cymric Mabinogion, in their present form. Mr. Stephens thinks that though, as they stand, they may not be older than the twelfth century, yet they were, evidently, in circulation years, if not centuries, before. This much, however, is certain, that the Arturian romances form an important section of European literature, and that their origin must be sought in the traditions of Brittany and Wales. Those who wish to pursue this interesting subject further, will find ample material in the "Litera
ture of the Kymry," by Thomas Stephens, and in the "Literary Remains" of the Rev. Thomas Price, both printed by William Rees, of Llando
There are cycles in literary taste. The influence of the Classical school prevailed for three hundred years—-— from the Revival of Learning till about the commencement of the present century. Then came a reaction in favour of Germanic and Anglo-Saxon antiquity, which has produced most important results during the last fifty years. Celtic studies await their turn, and, in all probability, they will not have waited in vain. But our native scholars must do their duty, and not allow themselves to be outstripped in the race by their brethren on the Continent.
WILKS THE ACTOR: HIS LATER CAREER.
WILKS returned to London in 1698. His success in Dublin had been rapid and brilliant. He had greatly improved, and carried back with him a more established reputation. The subsequent career of this distinguished actor is full of interest. Galt, with his usual carelessness, asserts that Wilks made his first re-appearance, in London, as Roebuck in his friend Farquhar's comedy of "Love and a Bottle." The character was quite in his vein-a lively, versatile roué; but "Love and a Bottle" was not produced until 1699, and bills preserved in the British Museum, show that the original Roebuck was Joseph Williams, an actor of note, but, like Powell, more given to the worship of Bacchus than Thalia. Wilks had no part in the play, although his interest recommended it for acceptance. Galt, in all probability, was ignorant of the existence of these bills, nor would he have taken the trouble to consult them had he been told where they were. Curll says ("History of the Stage, 1741"), that the King, in the "Island Princess,' was the first part played by Wilks when he went back to Drurylane. He might have seen in Cibber's "Apology," published the year before, that the character was Palamede, in
superseding Powell in many parts, and aggravating that rival's pretended contempt into frantic jealousy, working up to a challenge. Wilks accepted the cartel of defiance with alacrity, greatly to the disappointment of the pugnacious Powell, who, finding he had mistaken his man, instantly backed out with an apology, and vented his spleen by deserting to the rival house in Lincoln's Inn Fields. With superior natural advantages to Wilks, he suffered himself to be distanced in the race by reckless habits and devotion to the bottle. He drank himself to death in 1717, and for several years before had sunk into an inferior grade. Wilks never threw a chance away. He loved his art with enthusiasm. From the hour when he first trod the boards to the day of his death, it was his ruling passion. He bestowed equal pains on every scene of every part he undertook, reinforcing his powers by unremitting study and sobriety. He also possessed a most tenacious memory. He could learn a part by heart in little more time than it took many to read it, and what he had mastered he never forgot. Once, in a new comedy, he complained to the author that he found a crabbed soliloquy so troublesome that he wished it either softened or abbreviated. The author, to make the matter easy, struck the speech out altogether. Wilks, when he went home from the rehearsal, felt so piqued at such an implied indignity to his memory, that he made himself perfect in that identical speech, though he knew it was a work of voluntary and painful supererogation. "I have been astonished," says Cibber, "to see him swallow glibly a volume of froth and inspidity in a new piece, which we were all sure could not live above three days.' On another occasion he laid a wager, and won it, that he could repeat the part of Truewit in Ben Jonson's "Silent Woman," which consists of thirty theatrical lengths, or 1,260 lines, without omitting or misplacing a single word.
During his residence in Ireland, Wilks formed a close friendship with the unfortunate George Farquhar, which lasted until the death of the latter, and was continued to his orphan daughters. Farquhar had been entrapped into a marriage with a lady, who fell desperately in love with him,
and gave herself out as an heiress, but as it proved, she had no more estate than his own, which he jocosely said fell within the circumference of his hat. But he used her well, and never reproached her with the deceit. There is nothing recorded of Wilks more honourable to his memory than his conduct towards this ill starred son of genius. In very early youth, Farquhar tried the stage, in Dublin, without success, and left it in disgust, because, through the unlucky mistake of using a real sword instead of a foil, he dangerously wounded a brother actor, and was so affected by the accident, that he resolved never again to expose himself to a similar chance. Wilks, seeing that his talents pointed in another direction, advised him to write plays instead of acting them, and to try his fortune in London, presenting him at the same time with ten guineas to defray the expenses of the journey. This appears to have occurred in 1697. But it was not until Wilks had established himself in the English metropolis, in 1699, that his influence_obtained the representation_of_Farquhar's first play, Love and a Bottle.' The success of this secured the acceptance of "The Constant Couple, or a Trip to the Jubilee," which came out near the close of the same year. Farquhar wrote Sir Harry Wildair for Wilks, who so admirably embodied the author's conception, that he dedicated the play to him, and said in the preface, "When you die, Sir Harry may go to the Jubilee." This, however, proved a false prophecy, for Garrick resuscitated Sir Harry with great attraction, was thought by many to equal the original representative, and Mrs. Woffington was generally pronounced superior to both. The "Constant Couple" had a run of fifty-three nights on its first production. The irregularities of the play were severely criticised, but the brilliant acting of Wilks bore down all objections, and even the scurrilous Gildon admitted that no dramatic production ever did such wonders. Farquhar had three benefits on account of the unprecedented success. In 1701 he produced a sequel to the "Constant Couple," called "Sir Harry Wildair." This was the weakest of all his plays, yet it met with more encouragement than the "Inconstant" (1702), which far