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them to all the excesses of military fanaticifm, which are painted so strongly, but scarcely exaggerated, in the old Ro


For instance, one of the strangest circumstances in those books, and which looks most like a mere extravagance

of the imagination, is that of the women-warriors, with which they all abound. Butler, in his Hudibras, who saw it in this light, ridicules it, as a most unnatural idea, with great spirit. Yet in this representation they did but copy from the manners of the times. Anna Comnena tells us, in the life of her father, that the wife of Robert the Norman, fought side by side with her husband, in his battles; that she would rally the Ayin soldiers, and lead them back to the charge: and Nicetus observes, that in the time of Manuel Comnena, there were in one Crusade many women, armed like men, and on horseback.

The courtesy, affability, and gallantry,' for which the Knights errant were fo fainous, are but the natural effects, we are told, and consequences of their situation. For the castles of the Barons were the courts of these little sovereigns, as well as their fortreffes ; and the resort of their vallals thither, in honour of their chiefs, and for their own proper se. curity, would make the civility and politeness, which are seen in courts, and insensibly prevail there, a predominant part in the character of thefe assemblies.

Besides, the free commerce of the ladies, in those knots and circles of the great, would operate fo far on the sturdiet Knights, as to give birth to the attentions of gallantry. But this gallantry would take a refined turn, not only from the necellity there was of maintaining the strict forms of decorum, amidst a promiscuous convertation under the


of the prince, and in his own family, but also from the infamed sense they muft needs have of the frequent outrages committed by their neighbouring clans of adversaries, on the honour of the sex, when by chance of war they had fallen into their hands. Violations of chastity being the most atrocious crimes they had to charge on their enemies, they would pride themlelves in the glory of being its protectors : and as this virtue was, of all others, the fairest and strongest claim of the fe* itself to such protection, it is no wonder that the notions of it were, in time, carried to fo platonic an elevation.

Our ingenious Author now proceeds to account for that claratter of religion which was so deeply imprinted on the



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minds of all Knights, and was essential to their institution. The Love of God and of the Ladies, we are told, went hand in hand, in the duties and ritual of Chivalry:

For this fingularity two reasons may be assigned. Firft, the superstition of the times in which Chivalry arose; which was so great, that no institution of a public nature could have found credit in the world, that was not consecrated by the Churchmen, and closely interwoven with religion. Secondly, the condition of the Christian world; which had been harrassed by long wars, and had but just recovered a breath-. ing-time from the brutal ravages of the Saracen armies.. The remembrance of what they had lately suffered from these grand enemies of the faith, made it natural, and even neceflary, to engage a new military order on the side of religion,

« And how warmly this principle, a zeal for the faith, says our Author, was acted upon by the professors of Chivalry, and how deeply it entered into their ideas of the military character, we see from the term to constantly used by the old Romancers, of RECREANT Knight; by which they meant to express, with the utmost force, their disdain of a daftard or vanquished Knight. For many of this order falling into the hands of the Saracens, such of them as had not imbibed the full spirit of their profession, were induced to renounce their faith, in order to regain their liberty. These men, as sinning against the great fundamental laws of Chivalry, they branded with this name ; a name of complicated reproach, which implied a want of the two most essential qualities of a Knight, COURAGE and FAITH.

And here, by the way, the reason appears why the Spaniards, of all the Europeans, were farthest gone in every characteristic madness of true Chivalry. To all the other confiderations here mentioned, their fanaticism in every way was especially instigated and kept alive by the memory and neighbourhood of their old infidel invaders.

" And thus we seem to have a fair account of that Prowess, Generosity, Gallantry, and Religion, which were the peculiar and vaunted characteristics of the purer ages of Chivalry

“ Such was the state of things in the western world, when the Crusades to the Holy Land were set on foot. Whence we fee how well prepared the minds of men were for engaging in that enterprize. Every object that had entered into

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the views of the Institutors of Chivalry, and had been followed by its profeffors, was now at hand to inflame the military and religious ardour of the Knights to the utmoft. And here, in fact, we find the strongest and boldest features of their genuine character: daring to madness, in enterprizes of hazard : burning with zeal for the delivery of the oppressed; and, which was deemed the height of religious merit, for the rescue of the holy city out of the hands of the infidels; and, laftly, exalting their honour of chastity so high, as to profess celibacy; as they constantly did, in the several orders of Knighthood created on that extravagant occafion.”

Having thus endeavoured to account for the rise and genius of Knight-errantry, our Author refers us to a learned and very elaborate mcmoir of a French Writer, in the twentieth volume of the Memoirs of the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles Lettres, for an idea of what Chivalry was in itself. He goes on to observe, that there is a remarkable correspondency between the manners of the old heroic times, as painted by their great Romancer, Homer, and those which are represented to us in the books of modern Knight-errantry. A fact of which no good account, he thinks, can be given but by the affistance of another, not less certain,--that the political state of Greece, in the earlier periods of its story, was fimilar, in many respects, to that of Europe, when broken by the feudal system, into a great number of petty independent governments.

He acknowleges himself indebted for this hint to the Author of the memoir above-mentioned, who hath undertaken at his leisure to enlarge upon it." It is not my defign, says our Letter-writer, to encroach on the province of the learned person to whom I owe this hint; but some few circumstances of agreement between the heroic and gothic manners, such as are most obvious, and occur to my memory while I am writing, may be worth putting down, by way of specimen only of what may be expected from a professed enquiry into this çurious subject.”

He observes, that the military enthusiasm of the Barons is but of a piece with the fanaticism of the Heroes,—that the Grecian Bacchus, Hercules, and Theseus, are nothing but Knights-errant, the exact counter-parts of Şir Lancelot and Amadis de Gaule – that robbery and pyracy were honourable in both--that bastardy was in credit with both-that the martial games, which ancient Greece delighted to celebrate on reat and folemn occasions, had the same origin, and the fame urposes, as the tournaments of the Gothic Warriors, &c.


“ I am aware, continues he, that in the affair of religion and galiantry, the resemblance between the Hero and Knight is not so striking. But the religious character of the Knight was an accident of the times, and no proper effect of his civil condition. And that his devotion for the sex should so far surpass that of the Hero, is a fresh confirmation of my fyla tem. For, tho' much, no doubt, might be owing to the different humour and genius of the East and Weft, antecedent to any custom and forms of government, and independent of them, yet the confideration had of the females in the feudal constitution will, of itself, account for this difference. It made them capable of succeeding to fiefs as well as the

And does not one sce, on the instant, what respect and dependence this privilege would draw upon them?

“ It was of mighty consequence who should obtain the grace of a rich heiress. And tho' in the strie feudal times, she was supposed to be in the power and disposal of her fuperior Lord, yet this rigid state of things did not last long; and, while it did last, could not aba e much of the homage that would be paid to the fair feudatory. Thus, when intereft had begun the habit, the language of love and flattery would soon do the rest. And to what that language tended you may see by the constant strain of the Romances themfelves. Some distressed damsel was the spring and mover of every Knight's adventure. She was to be rescued by his arms, or won by the fame and admiration of his prowels.

“ The plain meaning of all which was this: that, as in those turbulent feudal times a protector was necessary to the weakness of the sex, so the courteous and valorous Knight was to approve himself fully qualified for that office. And we find, he had other motives to let him on work than the mere charms and graces, tho' ever so bewitching, of the perfon addrefled.

“ Hence then, as I suppose, the custom was introduced : and, when introduced, you will hardly wonder it should operate much longer and farther than the reason may seem to require, 'on which it was founded. In conclufion of this topic I must juft observe to you, that the two poems of Homer express in the liveliest manner, and were intended to pose, the capital mischiefs and inconveniencies arising from the political fate of old Greece: the lliad, the dissentions that

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naturally spring up amongst a number of independent Chiefs ; and the Odyssey, the insolence of their greater subjects, more especially when unrestrained by the presence of their Sovereign.

“ These were the subjects of his pen. And can any thing more exactly resenible the condition of the feudal times, when, on occafion of any great enterprize, as that of the Crusades, the designs of the confederate Christian States were perpetually frustrated, or interrupted at least, by the diflentions of their Leaders; and their affairs at home as perpetually distressed and disordered by the rebellious usurpa. tions of their greater vassals ? --So that Jerusalem was to the European, what Tray had been to the Grecian, princes. And you will now, I believe, not be surprized to find that Taflo's immortal poem was planned after the model of the Iliad."

Our ingenious Author now leads his Readers from this forgotten Chivalry to a more amusing subject, viz, the Poetry we still read, and which was founded upon it. He observes, that so far as the Heroic and Gothic manners are the same, the pictures of each, if well taken, must be equally entertaining. But he goes farther, and maintains, that the circumstances in which they differ, are clearly to the advantage of the Gothic Deligners. Had Homer seen the inanners of the feudal ages, he makes no doubt but he would have preferred them to those of Greece ; and the grounds of this preference, he suppoíes, would have been--the improved gallantry of the feudal times ; and the superior solemnity of their superftitions. It is but looking into any of the old Romancers, we are told, to be convinced that the gallantry which inspirited the feudal times, was of a nature to furnish the Poet with finer scenes and lubjects of description in every view, than the fimple and uncontrouled barbarity of the Grecian,

Nothing, he observes, shews the difference of the two lyftems under consideration more plainly, than the effect they really had on the two greatest of our Poets; at least the two which an Engiiln reader is most fond to compare with Homer, viz. Spenser and Milton. It is not to be doubted, he says, but that each of these Bards had kindled his poetic fire from classic fables.' So that, of course, their prejudices would lie that way. Yet they both appear, when most' in Aamed, to have been more pariicularly rapt with the Gothic fables of Chivalry.


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