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Las mans e kara d'Anglés
E lou donzel de Thulcana. (69) The Troubadours seem to have poflefled a great affec, tion for agreeable pictures of nature, the relation of pleasing dreams, and other fanciful and amourous allegories. Chaucers Cuckow and Nightingale, Flower and Leaf (so beautifully modernised by mr. Dryden), and some other of his poems, are quite in the Provençal mode, and, not improbably, from Provençal compositions. But it was not to the men alone that the cultivation of this enchanting art was confined ; ladies of the first rank became professors of the Gay Science, and piqued themselves on making verses, and giving an elegant or pointed turn to a song. They, likewise, held Courts of Love, where they determined those nice questions, which the Provençal gallantry had brought into vogue. Their judgements were termed Arrêts d'amour, fentences of love. Of these the countess of Champagne had pronounced several, and, amongst them, one in a celebrated parliament composed of fixty ladies (70). An appeal againit a decision of this fair judge was brought before the Queen of France : “ God forbid,” said the Queen, as soon as she had heard the complaint, “ God «I forbid, that I should meddle with a decree of the
countess of Champagne!”
On the death of Raimond Berenger, the last count of Provence, of his family, in 1245, the court was removed to Naples, and the Gay Science began to decline. Its professors had likewise the misfortune to incur the displeasure of Philip the August, who banished them his court and estates.
In 1320, however, a college or academy of poetry was founded at Toulouse. The poets recited their compositions every Sunday evening, in a garden of the city;
(69) That is: I am beit pleased with the French gentleman, the Catalan girl, the (perhaps ovrar, work) of the Genoese, the court of Cartile, the Provençal song, the dance of Treves, the Arragonian fhape, the Juliers speech, the hands and face of the English, and the boy of Tuscany. See Duverdier, Bibliotheque. Lyons, 1585. p. 423. Rymer, Short Vicw of Tragedy, p. 75. :(70) M. de Querlon,
and flowers of gold or silver were given by the ladies to those who excelled (71). This establishment flourished a considerable time. And some Troubadours and some Jongleurs are said to have remained so low as the fifteenth century.
The Gay Science, under the counts of Provence, afforded an easy mode for a man to enrich hisself, and even to acquire honours and employments. It, likewise, gave great privileges; and, in courts, with the ladies, frequently leveled the disparity of rank. At one time there was scarce a great lord or lady who had not some Troubadour in their suite (72).
A gentleman, who had only the fourth part of a castle, if, with the requisite talents, he became a Troubadour, was soon in a capacity of acquiring the rest. Indeed this sort of life was frequently the whole fortune of a younger brother. It was an agreeable pilgrimage, or continual promenade. He went from house to house, from castle to castle, always welcomed, and entertained according to his merit (73).
Many of the Troubadours followed their lords to the wars. Where we have instances of their being knighted, and arriving to extraordinary honours and prefer, ments (74).
They received considerable presents of stuffs, robes, horses, &c. Kings and queens would sometimes pull off their finest vestments to give to a Troubadour of extra, ordinary genius ; who made his appearance in them at the next court he came to. The ladies were now and then content to crown their favourites with peacocks feathers; and, frequently, the price of the best song was a kiss, which the poet generally claimed from the greatest beauty present (75).
The Troubadour, amourous by profession, usually concealed the name of his mistress with care, and sung her praises under an appellation agreed on between them, or which he took care she understood. The gallantries in(71) M. de Querlon.
tended for the wife were, likewise, not unfrequently, ad. dressed to the husband (76). Thele gentlemen did not, however, always worship terrestrial deities; Folquet de Lunel profeffed hisfelf an admirer of the Virgin Mary, and celebrated her as his mitress in his songs and poems.
Arnaud Daniel, a distinguished Troubadour, who is imitated by Petrarch, and praised by Dante, was enamoured of a beautiful Gascon lady. To gain her good graces, he tells us, he heard a thousand masses a day; but his moft extravagant with centered in a kiss of her sweet mouth (77).
It must be confessed that the lives of these poets abound with the marvellous ; and differ very little from Romance. But then it is to be remembered that this was the age of Chivalry, Many of them died of love. Geoffrey Rudel, upon the relation of two Pilgrims, became desperately enamoured of a countess of Tripoli; he flew to see her, and, with an excess of fondnefs, expired in her arms. One of the songs he composed in his passage is still extant (78). The princess was fo affected with the circumstance that, after having ordered him to be sumptuously interred, and his sonnets to be finely copied and illuminated, the buried herself in a nunnery.
Guillaume de Cabestan, the descendant of an ancient family, of which gentility was the sole inheritance, was page to Raimond, lord of the castle of Rouf. fillon, who afterwards made him gentleman ulher to his wife Marguerita. This lady became enamoured of Cabestan ; but her vanity, greater than her love, induced her to shew his poetical addresses to her husband, Raimond, mad with jealousy, drew Cabestan to a diftance from the castle, stabbed him, tore out his heart, and cut off his head : he got the heart dressed, and having persuaded his lady to eat it, produced the head, to acquaint her with what she had done. As soon as the revived from the swoon into which the discovery threw her, she up
(76) M. de Querlan.
(78) Rymer, p. 71.
braided Raimond for his barbarity, and declared that what she had eaten was so delicious that the was determined never to lose the taste of it by any other food : the immediately flew to a balcony, and, precipitating herself to the ground, was killed on the spot, The cruelty of Raimond appeared so horrible in the eyes of that age, that Alphonso king of Arragon was induced to throw him into prison and raze his castle. He likewise caused the two lovers to be interred together near the church of Perpignan, and the story of their loves, which has been pronounced worthy of the pencil of Ovid (79), to be engraven on the tomb. The history of Cabestan is related, with some variation, in the Decameron. (Gior. 4. No. 9.)
One of these Troubadours, Pierre de Châteauneuf, was seized by robbers, who, after they had stripped him, were about to take his life : he besought them, for Gods fake, to hear firit one of his songs; and the villains were so charmed with it, that they restored him all they had. taken (80).
Many remains of the poetry of the Provençal bards are still preserved in manuscript; of these the late Mr. Crofts, whose memory wiil be ever dear to those who en. joyed the honour and happiness of his acquaintance, and in whom literature loit one of its best friends, and hu. manity one of its greatest ornaments, had a confiderable volume.
It has been advanced “ that the Troubadours, by ♡ singing and writing a new tongue, occafioned a revo« lution not only in literature but in the human mind; “ and (that) as almost every species of Italian poetry is “ derived from the Provençals, fo AIR, the most cap“ tivating part of secular vocal melody, seems to have “ had the same origin. At least [that] the most an“ cient strains that have been spared by time, are such “ as were set to the songs of the Troubadours (81);”
The history of these people is fo exceedingly curious, agreeable and interesting that it has totally eclipsed that (79) M. de Querlon. (80) Idem. (81) Bursey, II. 233•
of the French Minstrels, who, doubtless, as a body, existed some time before, and continued long after the Troubadours ; but are by no means to be considered as such an extraordinary or respectable set of men. They possessed, however, in a certain degree, the same talents of pleasing ; they sung, either their own compositions, or the compositions of others, to the harp, the vielle, viol, cymbal, and other instruments, danced to the tabour, played tricks of legerdemain and buffoonry, and, in fhort, accommodated theirfelves to every mode of infpiring festivity and mirth : so that they were every where welcome, and every where rewarded. The courts of France abounded with them : and, during the reign of our Norman princes, they seem to have been no lels numerous in England. Many of our old monkish hiftorians complain of the shoals of Minstrels which a coronation or royal festival allured to the English court.
But though it is certain that the French had songs before the Provençal poetry was known, it is equally certain that their beit writers were afterwards content to imitate the Troubadours; who may, therefor, be still considered as the founders of the French Song.
Of those who compofed songs in the French tongue, and, as we need not repeat, in the Provençal mode, the most celebrated, and probably the first, at least of any rank or consequence, is the famous Count of Cham. pagne, Thibaut, afterwards king of Navarre (82), generally stiled the father of the French song. His compofitions, which are numerous, and postess abundant merit, have been printed with accuracy and elegance (83). Specimens, with spirited translations, are given by the ingenious dr. Burney in the second volume of his very curious and entertaining history.
The names and performances of several illustrious French song writers of the age of Thibaut are still preferved. We shall, however, only mention one of them ; Raoul, chatelain de Coucy, contemporary and intimate
(82) Born in 1201; dyed in 1253 or 1254. 183) In iwo volumes, 12mo. Paris, 1742.