« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
statesmen, the most polished and best In fact, at that tin e Italy clearly led in educated men in the world, who knew every thing, and civilization was to be how to speak, and drew their ideas not drawn thence, as from its spring. from books, but from things, living What is this civilization which is thus ideas, and which entered of themselves imposed on the whole of Europe, into living souls. Across the train of whence every science and every ele hooded school men and sordid cavil-gance comes, whose laws are obeyed lers the two adult and thinking ages in every court, in which Surrey, Sid were united, and the moderns, silencing ney, Spenser, Shakspeare sought the infantine or snuffling voices of the their models and materials? It was middle age, condescended only to con- pagan in its elements and its birth; in verse with the noble ancients. They its language, which is but Latin, hardly accepted their gods, at least they un- changed; in its Latin traditions and derstand them, and keep them by their recollections, which no gap has interside. In poems, festivals, on hangings, rupted; in its constitution, whose old almost in all ceremonies, they appear, municipal life first led and absorbed not restored by pedantry merely, but the feudal life; in the genius of its kept alive by sympathy, and endowed race, in which energy and joy always by the arts with a life as flourishing abounded. More than a century be and almost as profound as that of their fore other nations,-from the time of earliest birth. After the terrible night Petrarch, Rienzi, Boccaccio,—the Italof the middle age, and the dolorous ians began to recover the lost antiquity legends of spirits and the damned, it to set free the manuscripts buried in was a delight to see again Olympus the dungeons of France and Germany, shining upon us from Greece; its heroic to restore, interpret, comment upon, and beautiful deities once more ravish- study the ancients, to make themselves ing the heart of men; they raised and Latin in heart and mind, to compose instructed this young world by speak-in prose and verse with the polish of ing to it the language of passion and genius; and this age of strong deeds, free sensuality, bold invention, had only to follow its own bent, in order to discover in th m its masters and the eternal promirs of liberty and beauty. Nearer st was another paganism, that of Italy, the more seductive because me modern, and because it circulate fresh sap in an ancient stock; the more attractive, because more sensuous and present, with its wo зb'p of force and genius, of pleasure and voluptuousness. The rigorists knew this well, and were shocked at it Ascnam writes:
"These bee the inchantementes of Circes, rought out of Italie to marre mens maners in England; much, by example of ill life, but nore by preceptes of fonde bookes, of late ranslated out of Italian into English, sold in every shop in London.. There bee mce of these ungratious bockes set out in Printe wythin these fewe monethes, than have bene sene in England many score yeares before.... Than they have in more reverence the triumphes cf Petrarche: than the Genesis of Moses: They make more account of Tullies offices, than 3. Paules epistles: of a tale in Bocace than a storie of the Bible.""
Ascham, The Scholemaster (1570), ed. Arber, 1870, first book, 78 et passim.
Cicero and Virgil, to hold sprightly
Ma il vero e principal ornemento dell' animo in ciascuno penso io che siano le lettere, benchè i Franchesi solamente conoscano la nobilità dell'arme . . . et tutti i litterati tengon per vilissimi hucn.ini. Castiglione, il Corts giano, ed. 1585, p. 112.
+ See Burchard (the Pope's Steward), ac count of the festival at which Lucretia Borgia was present. Letters of Aretinus, Life of Cai lini, etc.
When he had been inquiring what the | Son; ghastly martyrs, dried up with soul was, and how it entered the body, fasts, with entranced eyes; knotty-finhe compared it to jam covered up in gered saints with sunken chests,-all white bread quite hot. What would the touching or lamentable visions of become of it in the other world? the middle age have vanished: the "Some people think they will there train of godheads which are now develdiscover becafico's, plucked ortolans, oped show nothing but ourishing excellent wine, good beds, and there- frames, noble, regular features, and fore they follow the monks, walking fine easy gestures; the names, the behind them. As for us, dear friend, names only, are Christian. The new we shall go into the black valley, Jesus is a "crucified Jupiter," as Pulci where we shall hear no more Alle- called him; the Virgins which Raphael luias." If you wish for a more serious sketched naked, before covering them thinker, listen to the great patriot, the with garments,* are beautiful girls Thucydides of the age, Machiavelli, quite earthly, related to the Fornarina. who, contras ing Christianity and pa- The saints which Michel Angelo ar ganism, says that the first places "su- ranges and contorts in heaven in his preme happiness in humility, abjection, picture of the Last Judgment are ar contempt for human things, while the assembly of athletes, capable of fight other makes the sovereign good con- ing well and daring much. A martyr. sist in greatness of soul, force of body, dom, like that of Saint Laurence, is a and all the qualities which make men fine ceremony in which a beautiful to be feared." Whereon he boldly young man, without clothing, lies concludes that Christianity teaches amidst fifty men dressed and grouped man "to support evils, and not to do as in an ancient gymnasium. Is ther great deeds;" he discovers in that one of them who had macerated him. inner weakness the cause of all oppres- self? Is there one who had thought sions; declares that "the wicked saw with anguish and tears of the judgment that they could tyrannize without fear of God, who had worn down and sub over men, who, in order to get to para- dued his flesh, who had filled his heart dise, were more disposed to suffer than with the sadness and sweetness of the to avenge injuries.' Through such gospel? They are too vigorous for that, sayings, in spite of his constrained they are in too robust health; their genuflexions, we can see which reli- clothes fit them too well; they are too gion he prefers. The ideal to which all ready for prompt and energetic action efforts were turning, on which all We might make of them strong solthoughts depended, and which com-diers or superb courtesans, admirable pletely raised this civilization, was the strong and happy man, possessing all the powers to accomplish his wishes, and disposed to use them in pursuit of his happiness.
in a pageant or at a ball. So, all that the spectator accords to their halo of glory, is a bow or a sign of the cross; after which his eyes find pleasure in them; they are there simply for the If you would see this idea in its enjoyment of the eyes. What the grandest operation, you must seek it spectator feels at the sight of a Florin the arts, such as Italy made thementine Madonna, is the splendid creaand carried throughout Europe, raising or transforming the national schools with such originality and vigor, that all art likely to survive is derived from hence, and the population of living figures with which they have covered our walls, denotes, like Gothic architecture or French tragedy a unique epoch of human intelligence.The attenuated mediæval Christ-a miserable, distorted, and bleeding earth-worm; the pale and ugly Virgin--a poor old peasant woman, fainting beside the cross of her
ture, whose powerful body and fine growth bespeak her race and her vigor; the artist did not paint moral expression as nowadays, the depth of a soul tortured and refined by three centuries of culture. They confine themselves to the body, to the extent even of speaking enthusiastically of the spinal column itself, "which is
* See his sketches at Oxford, and those of Fra Bartolomeo at Florence. See also the Martyrdom of St. Laurence, by Baccio Beadi nelli.
of the shoulder-blades, which in the movements of the arm "produce an admirable effect." "You will next draw the bone which is situated between the hips. It is very fine, and is called the sacrum."* The im portant point with them is to represent the nude well. Beauty with them is that of the complete skeleton, sinews which are linked together and tightened, the thighs which support the trank, the strong chest breathing freely, the pliant neck. What a pleasure to be naked! How good it is in the full light to rejoice in a strong body, wellformed muscles, a spirited and bold scul! The splendid goddesses reappear in their primitive nudity, not dreaming that they are nude; you see from the tranquillity of their look, the simplicity of their expression, that they have always been thus, and that shame has not yet reached them. The soul's life is not here contrasted, as amongst us, with the body's life; the one is not so lowered and degraded, that we dare not show its actions and functions; they do not hide them; man does not dream of being all spirit. They rise, as of old, from the luminous sea, with their rearing steeds tossing up their manes, champing the bit, inhaling the briny savor, whilst their companions wind the sounding-shell; and the spectators, accustomed to handle the sword, to combat naked with the dagger or double-handled blade, to ride on perilous roads, sympathize with the proud shape of the bended back, the effort of the arm about to strike, the long quiver of the muscles, which, from neck to heel, swell out, to brace a man, or to throw him.
Benvenuto Cellini, Principles of the Art of Design.
Life of Cellini. Compare also these exersises which Castiglione prescribes for a welleducated man, in his Cortegiano, ed. 1585, p. 35:- Peró voglio che il nostro cortegiano sia perfetto cavaliere d'ogni sella. Et perchè degli Italiani è peculiar laude il cavalcare benè alla brida, il maneggiar con raggione massimamente cavalli aspri, il corre lance, il giostare, sia in questo de meglior Italiani. . . . Nel torneare, tener un passo, combattere una sbarra, sia buono tra il miglior francesi. Nel gio care a canne, correr torri, lanciar haste e dardi, sia tra Spagnuoli eccellente. . . . Conveniente è ancor sapere saltare, e correre; . . . . ancor nobile exercitio il gioco di palla. Non di minor laude estimo il voltegiar a cavallo.'
§ 2. POETRY.
and climates, this paganism receives Transplanted into different races from each, distinct features and a dis tinct character. In England it be. sance is the Renaissance of the Saxon comes English; the English Renais genius. Invention recommences; and to invent is to express one's genius A Latin race can only invent by e expressing Saxon ideas; and we shal pressing Latin ideas; a Saxon race by find in the new civilization and poetry descendants of Cadmon and Adhelm, of Piers Plowman, and Robin Hood
Old Puttenham says:
"In the latter end of the same king (Henry the eighth) reigne, sprong up a new company of elder and Henry Earle of Surrey were the two court'y makers, of whom Sir Thomas Wyat th chieftaines, who having travailed into Italie, and there tasted the sweete and stately measures and stile of the Italian Poesie, as novices newly crept out of the schooles of Dante, Arioste, and Petrarch, they greatly pollished our rude and homely maner of vulgar Poesie, from that it had bene before, and for that cause may justly be sayd the first reformers of our English
meetre and stile." *
Not that their style was very original, or openly exhibits the new spirit: the middle age is nearly ended, but not quite. By their side Andrew Borde, John Bale, John Heywood, Skelton himself, repeat the platitudes of the old poetry and the coarseness of the old style. Their manners, hardly refined, were still half feudal; on the field, before Landrecies, the English commander wrote a friendly letter to the French governor of Térouanne, to ask him "if he had not some gentlemen disposed to break a lance in honor of the ladies," and promised to send six champions to meet them. Parades, combats, wounds, challenges, love, appeals to the judgment of God, pen. ances,-all these are found in the life of Surrey as in a chivalric romance. A great lord, an earl, a relative of the king, who had figured in processions and ceremonies, had made war, com manded fortresses, ravaged countries,
* Puttenham, The Arte of English Poesi ed. Arber, -$69, book i. ch. 31, p. 74.
mounted to the assault, fallen in the breach, had been saved by his servant, magnificent, sumptuous, irritable, ambitious, four times imprisoned, finally beheaded. At the coronation of Anne Boleyn he wore the fourth sword; at the marriage of Anne of Cleves he was one of the challengers at the jousts. Denounced and placed in durance, he offered to fight in his shirt against an "med adversary. Another time he was at in prison for having eaten flesh in Lent. No wonder if this prolongation of chivalric manners brought with it a prolongation of chivalric poetry; if in an age which had known Petrarch, poets displayed the sentiments of Petrarch. Lord Berners, Sackville, Sir Thomas Wyatt, and Surrey, in the first rank, were like Petrarch plaintive and platonic lovers. It was pure love to which Surrey gave expression; for his lady, the beautiful Geraldine, like Beatrice and Laura, was an ideal personage, and a child of thirteen years.
And yet, amid this languor of mystical tradition, a personal feeling had sway. In this spirit which imitated, and that badly at times, which still groped for an outlet, and now and then admitted into its polished stanzas the old, simple expressions and stale metaphors of heralds of arms and trouvères, there was already visible the Northern melancholy, the inner and gloomy emotion. This feature, which presently, at the finest moment of its richest blossom, in the splendid expansiveness of natural life, spreads a sombre tint over the poetry of Sidney, Spenser, Shakspeare, already in the first poet separates this pagan yet Teutonic world from the other, wholly voluptuous, which in Italy, with lively and refined irony, had no taste, except for art and pleasure. Surrey translated the Ecclesiastes into verse. Is it not singular, at this early hour, in this rising dawn, to £nd such a book in his hand?A disenchantment, a sad or bitter dreaminess, an innate consciousness of the vanity of human things, are never acking in this country and in this race; the inhabitants support life with difficulty, and know how to speak of death. Surrey's finest verses bear witness thus soon to his serious bent, this instinctive and grave philosophy. He
records his griefs, regretting his beloved Wyatt, his friend Clère, his companion the young Duke of Richmond, all dea in their prime. Alone, a prisoner a Windsor, he recalls the happy days they have passed together:
"So cruel prison how could betide, alas,
As proud Windsor, where I in lust and joy! With a Kinges son, my childish years did pass,
In greater feast than Priam's son of Ticy, Where each sweet place returns a taste full
The large green courts, where we were wont to hove,
With eyes cast up into the Maiden's tower, And easy sighs, such as folk draw in love. The stately seats, the ladies bright of hue, The dances short, long tales of great delight,
With words and looks, that tigers could but
Where each of us did plead the other's right. The palme-play, where, despoiled for the
With dazed eyes oft we by gleams of love Have miss'd the ball, and got sight of our dame,
To bait her eyes, which kept the leads above. . . .
The secret thoughts, imparted with such trust;
The wanton talk, the divers change of play;
The friendship sworn, each promise kept so just,
Wherewith we past the winter night away. And with his thought the blood forsakes th› face;
The tears berain my cheeks of deadly hue :
The which, as soon as sobbing sighs, alas! Up-supped have, thus I my plaint renew O place of bliss! renewer of my woes!
Give me account, where is my noble fere? Whom in thy walls thou dost each night en close;
To other lief; but unto me most dear. Echo, alas! that doth my sorrow rue,
Returns thereto a hollow sound of plaint."*
So in love, it is the sinking of a weary soul, to which he gives vent :
"For all things having life, sometime hath quiet rest; and every
The bearing ass, the drawing ox, other beast;
The peasant, and the post, that serves at si
To wail the day, and wake the night, continually in pain,
From pensiveness to plaint, from plaint to bitter tears,
From tears to painful plaint again; and thus my life it wears."
That which brings joy to others brings alm grief:
The soote season, that bud and bloom forth brings,
With green hath clad the hill, and eke the vale.
The nightingale with feathers new she sings;
The hart has hung his old head on the pale;
For all that, he will love on to his last sigh.
"Yea, rather die a thousand times, than once tr false my faith;
And if my feeble corpse, through weight of wotul smart
Do fail, or faint, my will it is that still she keep my heart.
And wher. this carcass here to earth shall be refar'd,
I do bequeath my wearied ghost to serve her afterward." t
An infinite love, and pure as Petrarch's; and she is worthy of it. In the midst of all these studied or imitated verses, an admirable portrait stands out, the simplest and truest we can imagir e, a work of the heart now, and not of the memory, which behind the Madonna of chivalry shows the English wife, and beyond feudal gallantry domestic bliss. Surrey alone, restless, hears within him the firm ones of a good friend, a sincere coun ellor Hope, who speaks to him thus:
For I assure thee, even by oath,
*Surrey's Poems. "The faithful lover declareth his pains and his uncertain joys, and with only hope recomforteth his woful heart," p. 53. ↑ Ibid. "Description of Spring, wherein every thing renews save only the lover," p. 3. ↑ Ibid. p. 56.
And if that love and truth were gone,
And is thine own, and so she says;
How thou hast done her woe and bale;
Certainly it is of his wife † that he is thinking here, not of an imaginary Laura. The poetic dream of Petrarch has become the exact picture of deep and perfect conjugal affection, such as yet survives in England; such as a!! the poets, from the authoress of the Nut-brown Mid to Dickens, have never failed to represent.
An English Petrarch: no juster title could be given to Surrey, for it exprese es his talent as well as his disposition In fact, like Petrarch, the oldest of the humanists, and the earliest exact write: of the modern tongue, Surrey intro duces a new style, the manly style, which marks a great change of the * Ibid. "A description of the restless stats of the lover when absent from the mistress of his heart," p. 78.
tIn another piece, Complaint on the Absence of her Lover being upon the Sea, he speaks in direct terms of his wife, almost as affection ately.
Greene, Beaumont and Fletcher, Webster. Shakspeare, Ford, Otway, Richardson, De Fo Fielding, Dickens, Thackeray, etc.