« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
as inserted in the Reliques of ancient
ancient English Poetry (93).”
The earliest of these compositions is thought to be las Coplas de Calainos. This romance relates the adventure of a certain Arab, so called, an officer of the great Almanzor, who, to gain that prince's daughter, sets out, at her command, to fetch the heads of Rowland, Oliver, and Reynold, the three most famous and valiant of the twelve peers of France: he is met, near Paris, by a champion, who cuts off his head and presents it to Charlemagne (9+). But even this can scarcely be older than the latter part of the fifteenth century; when the conquest of Granada furnished the Spanish poets with a favorable opportunity to exult over the vanquished Moors; and when Pulci and Boiardo had familiarised the story of the Paladins. Moit of these romances are preferved in the collections already mentioned, and all of them are prodigious favourites with the common people, who have numbers by heart, which they are perpetually chanting (95).
Sarmiento, a fagacious and intelligent writer, is of opinion, that some few years after the time of the twelve peers, of Bernardo del Carpio, the Cid, and others, various romances were composed in their praise; and were those which the Copleros, I'robadores, and Juglares, and, in short, all the lower class of people, sung at their feasts. The greatest part of these, he thinks, not having been committed to writing, were in time loft; and such as were preserved by memory and oral tradition were afterwards fo much altered, when people begun to write them (93) 1. 337. beginning
Rio verde, rio verde, Elegantly rendered
Genile river, gentle river. Though the ingenious translator did not, it seems, then know that Rioverde is, in this instance, a proper name.
(94) Sarmiento, p. 232.
(95) Will not the reader immediately recollect the peasant who palies Don Quixote and his trusty squire, in the streets of Tobolo, cantàndo aquel Romance que dize : mala la buvistes Franceses, en ella de Roncesvalles; and the curious conversation which ensues thereon. (P. 2. c.9.)
in modern Caftilian, that they could not possibly resemble their originals in language, though they would undoubtedly continue the same in fubitance. This, he says, becomes evident, when it is considered that the Chronica general de Espan’a, written about the middle of the thirteenth century, and other books of the same antiquity, frequently cite the fongs and fayings of the Juglars or vulgar poets of that, or a preceding age. He, therefor, concludes, that, though the Romances noiv extant were not written before the end of the fifteenth century, most of them were then only altered or modernised from the compositions of the twelfth (96). An idea which one would more readily have adopted if the good father had produced or referred to a single line upon the story of Charlemagne or the Paladins prior to the firit of those
This objection, however, it must be confessed, does not extend to the songs or ballads upon other subjects, many of which may undoubtedly be much older(97).
Some of these romances or popular ballads are frequently cited or alluded to in Don Quixote ; but the translators have uniformly confounded them with books of chivalry, which the word never signifies in Spanish. A more literal and correct version of this admirable history, of which a very elegant and curious edition was lately published at Madrid, has long been, and is likely enough to remain, among the desiderata of English literature.
The rustics of Spain, like the improvisatori of Italy, retain, to this day, the talent of extemporal poetry; and fing, as it were, by inspiration (98). In Galicia
(96) §. 548, 550.
(97) In the ancient romance of TIRANT LO BLANCH, wrišten, in the Valencian dialect, before the year 1460, Hippolito, the empresses gallant, prays her, one day, as they are fitting together, to fing him a song. To please him, therefor, she sings, in a low voice,
romang ... de tristany co se planyia de la lançada del rey marcb;", a Jay or song of Tristan, in which he complains of the blow of a lance he had received from king Mark. This was, doubtless, some well known Spanish ballad of the authors time; and is represented to have been so tender that Hippolito could not refrain from tears; “ ab la dulçor del
cant, deftillaren dels seus ulls viues lagremes." (Capitol. cclxiiij.)
(98) See a most curious and entertaining account of one of those geniuses (a muleteer) in Barrettis Journey through Spain, VOL. II. d
the women are not only poets but musicians, and compose as well the songs, which are generally dialogues between a woman and a man (the female being always the principal personage) as the melodies or tunes to which they would have them sung; and this by pure nature, without the least idea of the musical art (99). The poetry and poets of this province appear to have enjoyed a distinguished pre-cminence from the most remote antiquity.
Portugal, which is here noticed only as a province of Spain, claims a very early and intimate acquaintance with the Lyric muse. To prove it there are two Cancioneros or collections extant, which contain many songs of great antiquity and merit. Some of these are by K. Dionysius, who dyed in 1325. This prince was grandson to Alonso the Wise, king of Caftile, who was likewise an eminent poet. A few others are by Peter I. who dyed in 1367. The whole number of poets whose compofitions are preserved in these volumes is said to be immense. Both are excessively rare. The lively genius and spirit which appear to have characterised the ancient Portuguese, are not, however, at present visible among their descendants. But, without further notification of the provinces or æras in which poetry and song appear to have been most cultivated, popular and successful in this romantic country, cient to adopt the words of the excellent writer so often quoted : “ en qualquiera edad,” says he,“ en qualquiera len
gua, y en qualquiera dominio(100), fiempre los Espan’oleshan fido muy aficionados á la Poesia, Mufica, Bayles, y regocijos “ inocentes (101).”
$ 6. In an enquiry regarding the genius and language of the Italians, the French, and the Spaniards, one is naturally led to place them next to the Romans, on account of their more intimate and peculiar connection with that nation, without paying much attention to the origin of the people theirselves : a particular to which we shall in the remainder of this slight essay, attempt to adhere. :, (99) Sarmiento, p. 238.
(100) The reader will recollect that the Caftilian (which we call Spanish) is not the only language used in Spain, and that this king. dom has not always been under the sway of a fingle monarch. (101) Sarmiento, $. 539.
may be suffi
That the Celts, a most ancient and extensive European nation, of whose origin and early history we are entirely ignorant, and from whom the Wellh, the Irish, and the Scotish-highlanders claim to be defcended, had songs among them, is a circumstance of which, had there been no direct evidence to the fact, we could scarcely have doubted. “ The Celtæ," says Posidonius the Apamean, in the twenty-third book of his histories, “even in making war carry só with them table-companions whom they call parasites. “ These men celebrate the praises of their masters both “ in public, where a croud is collected together, and pri“ vately, to separate individuals who will hear them. And “these songsters of theirs are the men called Bards (102).” We have the testimony of very early writers to prove that the bards or poets of Gauland Britain recorded the valiant acts of their illustrious men, which they sung to the harp; that they likewise composed songs of praile and satire; and that their authority was such, that armies, on the point of engaging, would separate on their approach, as if charmed by the power of their songs (103). The character of the British bards is supposed to have continued the same long after the conversion of that people to Christianity, and the subsequent conquest of the country by their Saxon allies. The Welsh ftill celebrate the names of Taliesin, Lywarch Hên, and others, bards who flourished in the sixth century, and of whose works they have, at this day, confiderable remains. We find that the bards had not lost their primitive influence over the people even in the time of our Edward I. who was fo irritated at the continual insurrections and disturbances fomented by their songs, that he caused most of them to be hanged by martial law (104): an event which has been immortalized by the sublime genius of the English Pindar. Many songs of great antiquity are said to be still extant in Wales; specimens of which have been published by the reverend mr. Evans, and others. Dr. Burney mentions a collection, with the original melodies,
(102) Athenæus, p. 246.
noted for the harp, the contents of which are thought to be nearly as old as the year 1100 (105).
That the bards were not exterminated by the favage po icy of Edward, and such of his successors as adopted the same effectual method of putting them to silence, but that, on the contrary, they had, in the reign of queen Elizabeth, grown into an intolerable multitude," and committed “ shameless disorders” in North Wales, appears from a curious record communicated to dr. Brown by mr. Evans, and printed by both (106). This is a commission from that princess to certain knights and esquires of the principality, authorising them by open proclamation to fummon all persons intending to live “ by name or colour of minstrels, rythmers or “bards,” and to licence such as should be found worthy to exercise the profession. These assemblies had, it seems, been formerly in use; and the family of Moftyn of Mostyn had enjoyed the privilege of “ bestowing of the “ sylver harp appertaining to the Chief of that Faculty.” It may be added that the profession of a bard is to be yer traced in some parts of the country: and that in BalleBretagne, which is believed to have been colonised from hence, after the Saxon conquest, an itinerant musician is to this day called a Bard (107).
The natives of the highlands and ifles of Scotland had, likewise, bards by profession till very lately; and preserve traditionally many romantic and sentimental songs, some of which are said to possess great merit, though few are thought to be of much antiquity. The songs pretended to have been translated from the Erse, and published under the name of Ossian, are undoubtedly very ingenious, artful, and, it may be, elegant, compofitions, but they are certainly not genuine.
But the bards are no where known to have been treated with more respect, or held in higher estimation, than among the ancient Irish. They had portions of land allotted for their inaintenance; their profefsion was hereditary; and, by a law, still extant, none were allowed
(105) 11. 11c.