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ages it had ruled ; controlling, together with habits, manners, and opinions, with the inferior classes which it had moulded by the institutions of the midbeen purposely framed to curb, the dle ages. He has shown us those warwhole hierarchy of nobles,-nay, the riors, sometimes in their fortified castles, clergy themselves, at that epoch the built like eagles' nests on high peaks, the lawgivers of the world.
tyrants of their vassals, the dread of the No man that lived during the four- peaceful trader ; sometimes rushing to teenth century, ever had such oppor- perilless battles encased in impenetratunities, as the accident of his birth, his ble armour. Loved and protected by varied pursuits and motley fortunes, Guy de Chatillon, Count of Blois, threw in the way of Froissart, not to attached to the person of Winceslaus, study that system,-(abstract medita- Duke of Brabant, as his secretary,-a tions were neither his habit, nor con- welcome and honored guest at the Court genial to the cast of his mind)—but to of Gaston, Count of Foix and Bearn,view and depict his contemporaries in Froissart, in the characteristic traits he all the various relations of political, has recorded of the absolute authority civil, and private life. Born of humble exercised by these princes over their parents-(as we infer since he began nearest relatives, * as well as their dethe study of heraldry, intending it as a pendants, has given us the only conprofession)—he was no stranger, how- temporary memorial we possess of the ever, to the interests, opinions, and singular domestic life of those proud manners of those whom we would now vassals, ever ready to defy the monarch term the middle classes. He has to whom they yielded an unwilling obesketched, with inimitable art, the char- dience, and ever prepared to betray acteristic traits of the Flemish burghers, him to whosoever offered the highest a race whose posterity in the Hanseatic bribe. cities, and in the Netherlands, present The following passage, which, as by to this day family features proving the wizard art, rebuilds the ruined palace early talent of Flemish artists for per- of Gaston de Foix, the Trouvère fect imitation of their models. A Prince; and, after four hundred and priest afterwards, more through love of fifty years, reassembles within its goease and elegant idleness, than from any thic halls the motley crowd of visitors real vocation for the arduous and stern drawn there by the fame, the kingly duties of that holy station, his long in- hospitalities of the noble Chatelain, we timacy with high dignitaries of the transcribe as a fair example of Froischurch, gave him, as subjects to paint sart's last and best manner and style. from life, in unfading colors, those It is taken from a manuscript lately disvoluptuous abbots, wealthy bishops, covered, and is therefore not contained and lordly prelates, always censured by in the common editions of the Chrothe church, who vying with the stur. nicles; it is a precious mediæval diest knights in brute strength and mar. relic, a talisman by which we are tial prowess, with the most unprincipled brought into familiar communion with statesmen in crafty policy, with the most those illustrious dead, who furnished to dissolute of the laity in licentiousness, Froissart, either themes for other chrounited the rudeness of the soldier with nicles, or information to render more the sloth of the monk; while lacking perfect and authentic his earlier annals: both the generous frankness of the one, and the ready devotion of faith of the “ Avant que je vinsse en sa cour je other.
avois été en moult cours de Rois, de Ducs, Having held honorable stations at the de Princes, de Comtes, et de Hautes Court of England under Edward and qui mieux me plût, ni qui fut plus sur le
Dames; mais je n'en fut oncques en nulle Richard, at that of France under John, fait d'armes plus réjouie comme celle du and Charles the Wise, he had associat- Comte de Foix. On veoit en la Salle et ed there, in familiar intercourse, with es chambres et en la Cour, chevalier et those renowned feudal chieftains, the Ecuyer d'honneur aller et marcher, et heroes of his Chronicles—an order of d'armes et d'amour les oyoit-on parler. men having no parallel in antiquity- Tout honneur étoit lá dedans trouvée.
We refer the reader to the third volume of the Chronicles, in which the death of Gaston's only legitimate son, who died of a wound inflicted by his father, is told with out any indignant remarks on so foul an act.
Nouvelles de quelque Royaume ni de quels with studied brevity, the chronicler que pays que ce fut, là dedans on y appre- dismisses the subject with these few noist; car de tout pays, pour la vaillance words : “ Those peasants were swarthy, du Seigneur, elles y appleuvoient et ve- badly clad, and ill armed.” Such men, noient ; Là, vis venir Chevaliers et Eu- in the opinion of the secretary of Queen cuyers de toutes nations, si m'en informois, ou par eux, ou par le Comte qui volontier Philippa, the bard whose lays amused
the leisure hours of the Black Prince, m'en parloit.”
were only fit to be trampled down by To this rare combination of advan- iron-clad knights of high lineage. tages for the execution of his mission, Even in the chapters which describe, of mirroring his own age in imperisha- with a simplicity of style that often reble reflection for the information and minds us of Herodotus, the varied delight of succeeding ones, we owe the scenes acted, both in the French and equally astonishing variety and life-like Flemish camps, during the night that fidelity of his delineations. The Chroni- preceded the battle of Rosbecques (so cles form indeed a complete gallery of fatal to the popular cause throughout the portraits of all his contemporaries; Europe) and the incidents of that dread of all-except those of the serf, the conflict, between the French chivalry working-man, the martyred peasant, of and the ill-disciplined infantry of Flanthe fourteenth century. This exclusion ders led on by Artavelde, Froissart of the laboring man, the personification disdains to throw on the vanquished of society itself, from the great pageant those funeral garlands, he so delights of an eventful epoch, like the absence to weave for noble knights fallen in adof the images of the two last Romans verse fields. Compassion for the peofrom the funeral procession of the sis- ple—the low-born-seek not the exter of one of them, fills the mind pression of that feeling in the Chroniwith a livelier vision of the banished cles! Froissart felt not those ennobling figures!
sympathies ; he knew them not; in The motives of this studied silence fact, at that period, they existed in the we can easily explain. The moment breast of no man capable of expressing an individual of the oppressed classes them in writings that would have lived. had learned to read and write, he be- Had the sacred love of the people came either a priest, a lawyer or a dwelt in his heart, united with the vaclerk : and lost, in the selfish enjoyment ried talents he brought to the execution of newly acquired privileges, all sym- of his great work, instead of being the pathies for, and communion with, the prince of chroniclers, Froissart would caste from which he had_sprung. have stood by the side of Tacitus, and Hence it is, that, even in Froissart, second to him alone among historians. we find but few passages, in which the Yet, even in the absence of that vivifyproletary, the laborer, is even alluded ing spirit, which would have thrown a to; though his subject led him neces- nobler lustre over their pages, the sarily to relate the insurrections of the Chronicles have a charm, a spell, in peasants, or, rather, the servile wars their artless simplicity, which, as soon which, towards the end of the thirteenth as we have read the two preliminary century, broke out, almost simulta- chapters, holds the mind captive to the neously, all over France, Germany, end of the volume. Is it that we feel and England, threatening, even at that that they were not written in the secluearly stage of the second civilisation sion of a monastery, nor compiled from of Europe, the total subversion of documents drawn from the dust of arkingly and oligarchic institutions, chives? They have the glow and
*" I had been entertained at many courts, of Kings, Dukes, Princes, Counts, and high-born Ladies ; but never before had I been in one which so much delighted me, as that of the Count de Foix. In hall, in bower, in court, were always to be seen knight and squire of honor, sauntering and roving, discoursing the while of arms and love. Nothing that wins honor, nothing that spreads fame, but you might have found there. Of every kingdom, of every country, news was there to be heard; for such was the renown of the valiant Lord that they were showered upon him from every quarter. At his palace I saw knights and squires of all nations, from whom I could collect ample information, as well as from the Count, who was ever willing to discourse with me thereof,”
freshness of fields and groves. We of genius, he marks out the bold outseem to hear, while we proceed, some lines of sublime thoughts; sometimes times, the voice and the harp of the the unpretending and playful lightness Trouvère ; sometimes the din of arms, of La Fontaine ; and sometimes, too, the tumult of the battle-field, -now, the that simplicity which spreads like garwar cry of French knights, “a Gues- lands of sweet wild flowers, over the clin, a Guesclin, for France !" and now grace-inspired letters of Sévigné. It the dread shout of “a Chandos, a requires, indeed, but slight and rare Chandos, for St. George !" We live glances over a short glossary (always with the generation of which Froissart found in the best editions) to render has written, with the men he heard the perusal of the Chronicles a recreaspeak, saw combatting, conquering, dy- tion, instead of a dry study of obsolete ing; we know the Black Prince, the idiomatic phrases, so little have words two Artaveldes, Chandos, Edward, during four centuries lost their origiDuguesclin, the Clissons, as if we had nal meaning. As soon as we have besat with them in council, as if we had come familiar with the manner of Froisfought under their banners, at Crecy, sart, and lost the uneasy sensation Poictiers, and Rosbecques.
which unwonted turns of thought and It is not in the Chronicles, however, an unusual mode of embodying them that we should look for what is now seldom fail to produce, we find an intermed “the Philosophy of History. .” describable charm even in the strangeThe muse who dictated those annals ness of his periods, constructed, howsat not in a cell feebly lighted by the ever, with more attention to euphonious midnight lamp; a noble Chatelaine, she sounds than we should expect in an age rode, graceful and fearless, a milk- when the study of the master works white palfrey. On her gloved arm of antiquity had not yet disciplined writperched the hooded gerfalcon; by her ers to the practice of polished diction. side bounded the hounds impatient to In order to free ourselves from all be unleashed for the chase. In her suspicion of blind admiration for a fatrain followed the iron-clad knight,- vorite author, we intend to use the the stout archer, bearing gallantly the original instead of the translation, in deadly long bow,—the priest neither the very short quotations we may make; stern nor rebuking, mirthfully himself nor will our readers censure, we trust, enjoying the guiltless mirth of the this homage paid to the Prince of young and happy,—and the Trouba- Chroniclers. They must not forget dour, too, repining that the humble that the language of Froissart, harsh chronicler should share with him the and uncouth as it may at first sound to task of recording high deeds of arms modern ears, was once spoken in court and tales of faithful, unrequited love. and bower. It was the language in
Though commenced in 1357, when which Edward III. avowed to the fair our author had scarcely attained his Salisbury the sudden love kindled by 20th year, and brought to a conclusion her matchless beauty, and vainly urged, before the end of the century, the with kingly pride, the fruition of his language of the Chronicles is not near guilty hopes. Even in that early dawn so unartificial, notwithstanding its seem- of its destined dominion over science, ing ease and carelessness, as one not fashion and valor, the idiom of France, familiar with the style of the better writ- when Froissart wrote the Chronicles, ers of that epoch would imagine ; nor was the only modern tongue used by does it differ so widely, as that of the statesmen in councils; by chroniclers Poets of the following century, from (save in Italy, where Dante, in the prethe idioms and forms of expression still ceding century, had at once created used by such of the French authors as and perfected the Tuscan) to record have preserved the native strength and noble adventures and high deeds of raciness of Comines, Rabelais, Chate- arms; and by Trouvères in minstrelsy. lain, Amelot and Montaigne, the noble Few men, in an age when travelling fathers of French prose. It is not an peacefully with a view to study society uninteresting study, to trace in the pa- in its varied aspects was nearly as ges of Froissart, as shadows cast before perilous as traversing a country as one the coming day, sometimes the manly of an invading host, had seen so many vigor of Pascal, his proud disdain of parts of feudal Europe as Froissart, rules and shackles,when, with the chisel in the many journeys he performed
purposely to obtain materials for the successful, victorious; monarchs sought Chronicles, as he expressly states : his alliance ; nay, beauteous dames said
was a sweet name, and musi« Et vous dis, certes, que pour faire ces cal to hear.” Chroniques, je fus en mon temps moult He had sojourned long in Germany ; par le monde, comme pour enquérir avan- in that age, as now, presenting to the tures et les armes, lorsqu'elles sont es- meditative observer, in the features of criptes en ce livre. ai pu voir, ap- its inhabitants, in the mystic wildness prendre et retenir de moult d'états. Et ayant, Dieu merci ! sens mémoire et those neighboring nations which had
of its tradition, striking contrasts with bonne souvenance de toutes les choses passeés; Engin clair et aigu, pour conce
more thoroughly received the impress voir tous les faits dont je pourrois être
of Roman conquest.
While residing informé, touchant à ma principale matière in England, where he had followed, as -age, corps, et membre pour souffrir he, tells us “Haute et puissante Dame peine. Pour savoir la vérité des loin- Philippa de Heynault, dont fus clerc en taines besognes, sans ce que j'y envoyasse ma jeunesse,” he lived in the intimacy personne en aucun lieu de moi; je prie of those valiant knights whom the vicvoie et achoison raisonnable d'aller dever tories of Poictiers and Crecy have Hauts Princes, et redoutés Seigneurs.” made so renowned. One of those fre
quent and short cessations of hostilities Besides France, where he resided between the English and the Scotch many years, he journeyed all over afforded him an opportunity of visiting Holland and Flanders. In the first, he Scotland. There he obtained from witnessed the early prosperity of a peo- warriors, statesmen, and minstrels, ple whose sturdy toils had subdued the recent traditions of the wars waged by ocean (ever threatening, however, to Robert Bruce, and by that dread Douginvade a soil it had but partially reced- las of the Bloody Heart, against the ed from) centuries before they began Percies of Northumberland, the noble their heroic strife against Spain ; in rivals of those heroes. It is from the the last, he beheld the young splendor Chronicles, then a virgin unwrought of those great cities where commerce mine of feudal lore, that Scott took, in and municipal institutions, compara- handfuls, the rich ore which, thrown tively free and liberal, had hastened into his crucible, freed by his weird art the second birth of all social arts. He from the dross that dimmed its lustre, saw Antwerp, then the most opulent and chiselled by his hand, will shine city in Europe, receiving in its spa- now for ever in the beauteous forms his cious harbor the produce of the known genius bade it assume. world, and sending to the most distant The wild sublimity of the Caledonian regions, in her own ships, the varied mountains, so strikingly contrasting tributes of her unrivalled industry. with the tame and monotonous aspect of He prayed, perhaps himself celebrated Netherland scenery—the graceful garb mass (for he was an ordained priest) of their bold inhabitants--their manin those majestic cathedrals, of Brus- ners, so different from those of the consels, Antwerp, Bruges and Malines, tinental nations of Europe-their proud in which an architecture unknown to untaught valor, disdaining even what Egypt and to Greece seemed to have little existed of military art and discibrought out of the forest petrified trees, pline in that age, seem to have made a with all their far-spread boughs and deep impression on the mind of Froisluxuriant foliage, to form the arched sart. He often recurs to that journey, vaults of lofty temples. He saw at and whenever alluding to it his style Ghent, Artavelde, the precursor of the glows with the inspiration of that land Medici ; he sat at the social board by of poetry and valour. the side of his son, Philip Van Arta Conscious of high abilities-(and who velde, a merchant prince, with the wis- possesses genius, without a warning dom, eloquence and valor of Pericles; that it dwells within him ?)—Froissart, marching the equal of the haughty determined, even in early youth, though Edward ; commanding armies of fifty another muse invited, enticed, inspired thousand men, all raised and equipped him, to worship only at the shrine of within one single city,- Artavelde, the most austere of the virgin sisters. who afterwards at Rosbecques—fatal He resolved to write “the Chronicles," field but at that time he was young, we use his own words, as most expres
sive of the feelings that urged him to if produced by foul and dark vapors the task.-" I know well that after my exhaled from the grave of Boëtius, death, in coming days, these beautiful settled suddenly on the human mind, annals will be held in high repute, af- all over Europe ; for there existed no fording to the noble and the valiant, glimmering of science, no vestige of both delight and incitement to virtue.”
." real learning, either in France, EngSurveying the immense stage on which land or Germany, when the Epistles of the great drama of a century was to be Héloise burst on her contemporaries acted, he saw the spirit of reviving sweet and melodious as a choir of ancivilisation hovering over the age, like gels. They were hailed as a token the mystic dove that brooded chaos into that another alliance had again been life, hurrying the birth of mighty events. formed between earth and heaven, beA vague instinct of the future, always tween mind and matter. This explains vouchsafed to minds of the highest or- what would otherwise strike us as sinder, revealing that he should immedi- gular,-we mean the total ignorance of ately portray the existing society, be- Froissart (a priest, a poet, one to whom fore it had assumed other aspects and the Latin language of the epoch was forms, he commenced the annals of the familiar) of all classic lore. Even epoch before he had attained his 20th geography, now a universal science, year. Thus does the statuary hasten was unknown to him, and the strange the modelling of a matron, still beau- mistakes he falls into whenever he teous, but already arrived to that age speaks of African, Asiatic, or even when every month-nay, every day Grecian cities, have often baffled the steals from her lips a smile, from her persevering researches of Buchon, the cheek a hue, from her limbs a grace, a industrious and learned editor of his charm.
works. And yet in spite of those imIt has been objected to Froissart, perfections there breathes from the that he seldom gives the reader his own Chronicles a native grace, light and opinion on the causes of the events he sweet as the odors of wild-flowers. records, or his own judgment on the No remembrances of the past, in their motives of the actors he brings on the magic pages. The eyes of the author, scene. To us, this unwillingness of never directed toward distant objects, the historian to give his conjectures, either in the past or in the future, under the guise of the determining view, perhaps for that very reason, with motives of action of some of the he- keener and more searching glances, roes of his narratives, is one of his all those that surround him. He is chief merits. The frank declaration not like the eagle, who, beyond the which so often recurs in the Chronicles, reach of earthly vision, with the same “ what was said in the councils on that organs that have reflected unmoved the occasion, I have been unable to learn,” full blaze of the sun, distinctly sees, in or, “what were his motives for thus the dust below, the minutest insect; acting, I know not,” are so many pledges he resembles the bee, never rising high, that we can rely on the authenticity never winging her flight to distant of those deliberations or motives which places, but, in that middle region where he does minutely report as held in his she ranges, no tree, no shrub, no grass, presence, or disclosed to some contem- unvisited, unsearched ; none from which porary whose testimony may safely be the guiltless plunderer has not exacted trusted. Another advantage grew na her sweet and perfumed tribute. turally out of this rule, which Frois The second moral childhood of Eusart appears to have marked out to ropean societies has secured to us of himself, and inflexibly observed-his modern days the advantage of having narrative is never interrupted by ill- obtained the unalloyed productions of timed declamation. He brings before two original literatures. The Greeks us, without ornaments, both the figure had no curtain drawn over their past. and the scene he portrays, so that the There were among them, previous to first lives, and the other rises to view in their two great poems of heroic and all the diversities and accidents of na- social life, no traditions of a higher ture's lights, shades, and coloring. In civilisation, swept away by barbarians; France, science and learning did not none of a greater perfection of those awake simultaneously with poetry and arts they loved, and worshipped as di- the arts, from the long sleep, which, as vine, even in their first imperfect ef