Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

“their beautiful inventions ;” and in more than one place he taxes Petrarch with downright plagiarism.

Geoffrey Rudel is the first of the troubadours, of whom Nostradamus gives any account. He tells a story of his adventures almost too romantic for belief, if we did not consider the habitual extravagance of the age. It is not to be concealed from our readers, that the credulity of Nostradamus sometimes renders his authority a little doubtful; as, for example, where he speaks of one of the troubadours revealing to a prince the future events of his reign, and of another finding the philosopher's stone. He seems, however, to have been a very honest sort of man; and it is to be observed, that those who complain most of his inaccuracy, are those who have made the largest use of the materials furnished by his work. In the following relation, he is gravely followed by Sismondi, and other authors.

“Jaufred Rudel, gentleman, was lord of Blieux in Provence, a good Provensal poet, and ready in the composition of verse. In his youth, he went to the Court of Agoult, lord of Sault, who received and entertained him for a great length of time. The Count Geoffrey, brother of Richard, King of England, coming to Provence, on a visit to Agoult, was greatly taken with the virtues of this poet, for the many beautiful and pleasant ballads which he sung in his presence, to the praise of his master. Agoult, seeing the affection which the Count bore towards him, prayed bim to retain the poet in his service, whom he received and treated with great generosity, and kept him with him a long time, composing verses to the praises of his two lords and masters. The poet having heard, by the way of certain pilgrims who came from the Holy Land, of the virtues of the Countess of Tryppoly, and of her learning, became in love with her, and made several beautiful songs in her praise. And being pricked to the heart with the desire of seeing her, he took leave of Count Geoffrey, who used every means in his power to persuade him not to undertake this peregrination, went to sea in the habit of a pilgrim, and, during his voyage, was attacked with a grievous malady, so that those who went in the ship, thinking him dead, were at one time about to throw him into the sea. And in this condition he was earried to the port of Tryppoly, and being arrived there, his companions let the Countess know of the coming of a sick pilgrim; and the Countess, being come on board the ship, took the poet by the hand, and he, being told that it was the Countess, immediately upon this sweet and gracious reception, came

to himself, and thanked her that she had restored him to life, and said, Most illustrious and virtuous princess, I do not now regret that I must die. And not being able to proceed, his sickness returning and waxing more violent, he gave up the ghost in the arms of the Countess, who caused him to receive rich and honourable burial in a sepulchre of porphyry, and caused to be engraved thereon some verses in the Arabesque language. This was in the year 1162, about which time he flourished. The Countess, being greatly troubled at so sudden a death, was never cheerful afterwards. His companion, named Bertrand d’Allamanon, who was canon of Sylvecane, gave her an account of the virtues of this poet, and the cause of his coming; and made her a present of all the poems and romances that he had composed in her praise,-the which she caused to be written out in fair gilt letters.” pp. 23–25.

The troubadours seem to have been as ingenious in raising subtle questions on any given case, as are the gentlemen of another profession at the present day. It is not, therefore, to be supposed, that so extraordinary an adventure as that of Geoffrey Rudel would fail of giving occasion to a poetical controversy and a decision by the ladies-justices of the Cour d'Amour. The following is a good sample of these disputes :

6. The Monk of the Golden Isles, in the catalogue he hath compiled of the Provensal writers, maketh mention of a dialogue between Gerard and Peyronnet, conversing together, in which is agitated a very subtle question, to wit: Whether one loveth his lady most when absent or when present? and which induceth most strongly to love, the eyes or the heart? And many good reasons and examples were adduced in the dispute, and among others, the pitcous history of Jaufred Rudel; and it was said, in one of the stanzas, that the heart hath lordship over the eyes, and that the eyes are of no use in love, unless the heart is moved; whereas, without the eyes, the heart may clearly be in love with one whom it hath never seen, as was the case with Jaufred Rudel of Savoy. There was also mentioned the case of Andrew of France, who died of love. Finally, seeing that this question was of a most high and difficult nature, they sent to the illustrious ladies holding Cour d' Amour at Pierrefeu, and at Signe, (which was a public and open court, full of immortal praises, adorned with noble ladies and knights of the country,) in order to have a determination of this question.” p. 26.

Here is certainly a tolerable array of arguments and cases

in point on one side of the question ; and we doubt not that it was as ingeniously argued on the other, with an equal show of reasonings and authorities. The biographer proceeds to give a list of the illustrious and titled dames who composed the Court ;

but he has omitted to inform us of the opinion which they finally pronounced, and thus the solution of this important question is for ever lost to the world.

Another troubadour, William of Agoult, seems to have been a lover of the good old school, “excellent in all knowledge and honesty, an example of a true censor, through all his life gentle and moderate, renowned, fortunate, his good fortune being always conjoined with virtue ; a man of noble stature, pleasing countenance, and venerable appearance, bearing him. self always with a port of uncommon dignity." He maintained, in his songs, “ that no person ought to be deemed and taken for a true and loyal lover, who had not honor in singular recommendation before his eyes; that he who is truly in love, is always cheerful and of good courage, complaisant to his lady in all things, free from all guile and evil intentions, and respecting always the frailty of the sex.” p. 36. Of a similar character, seems to have been Arnauld Daniel, with the additional advantage of being able to fall in love with whom he pleased.

“ He abandoned the use of the Latin language, and addicted himself altogether to the vulgar Provensal dialect, on account of a gentlewoman of Provence of whom he become enamoured, composing in her praise many good ballads in every sort of rhyme, which he invented, as well as sextines, songs, sirventes, and many other beautiful and ingenious kinds of writing; without so much as ever naming her, either openly or in secret terms. And not being able to succeed in his passion, he became enamoured of another lady, the wife of William of Bouille, whom he named Cyberne, by a secret name; but no one ever had a bad opinion of them, as may be seen by the tenor of all his songs, particularly one where he says,that he hears a hundred masses a day, praying, not for the empire of Rome, but that his mistress may restore him to life by a single kiss--that he is Arnaud, who embraces the wind, and chases the hare with a lame ox for a grey-hound."-pp. 41, 42.

One of the strangest stories contained in this book, is that of the loves of William Adhemar and the Countess of Die, which is altogether inexplicable upon any theory of the tender passion in vogue at the present day. They were both troubadours, desperately enamoured of each other, and had written

verses in each other's praise. Those of the Countess of Die were full of boasts of the beauty and bravery of the gallant knight to whom she had given her heart, of his noble extraction, unspotted honor, and dexterity in the use of arms. These verses Adhemar constantly carried about his person, and often sung stanzas of them in the company of knights and ladies. With all this encouragement, however, and these assurances that his affection was reciprocated, he contrived to tall sick from the violence of his passion. The Countess visited bim on his death bed, he kissed her hand, of course, and expired. The mother of the Countess erected a splendid mausoleum to his memory, on which was engraved the story of his feats of arms; and the Countess herself became a nun in the convent of St. Honorius of Tharascon, and died of grief.

This is a ridiculous story enough; that of Fouquet of Marseilles is more probable. Fouquet, the son of a rich Genoese merchant, being somewhat distinguished by his courage and his talent for Provensal poetry, was retained at the court of Beral des Baulx, lord of Marseilles, and loaded with favours. The return he made for this kindness was an attempt to corrupt the wife of his friend and patron, in which however he did not succeed. On the death of Beral and his lady, he retired to a monastery of the Cistirtian order, was chosen Abbé of Thorondet in Provence, then Bishop of Marseilles, and finally Archbishop of Toulouse. In this last station, he became exceedingly furious against heretics, headed in person the war of extermination against the Albigenses, about the year 1198, and committed murders and robberies innumerable.

Anselme Faydit was of a more cheerful disposition, and provided he was well satisfied with the quantity and quality of his viands, troubled himself very little about controverted points in theology “He

sung in the very best manner, was a good Provensal poet, and composed exceedingly well both the words and the tunes of his ballads. He was one who always made good cheer, living without care for the future, by reason whereof he lost all his substance at dice. He then became a noted comic poet, selling his comedies and tragedies for three or four thousand livres each, and sometimes more, according to the invention, whereby he gained large sums of money. He was so liberal, lavish, and gluttonous in his eating and drinking, that he squandered all that he gained by his poetry, and became fat beyond measure. He was at one time in great misery and poverty,

one

not receiving gifts from any person, until Richard King of England took him into his service, with whom he remained till his death in 1189, receiving many fair and rich presents. He married Guilhamone of Soliers, a lady of a noble Provensal family, whom he had enticed by fair speeches from a convent of nuns in Provence, and carried about with him to the courts of princes. She was beautiful, learned, and well instructed in all excellent accomplishments, and sung exceeding well the

songs

that her Anselme made. But on account of the dissolute life they led together, she became as fat as he, and being overtaken with sickness, died.”—p. 62, 63.

Anselme, however, does not seem to have been inconsolable for the death of his wife. He wandered from the court of prince to that of another, every where received with caresses, and loaded with presents, eating and drinking to his heart's content, jesting, laughing, and singing, and selling his tragedies and comedies, which, by the way, were only a kind of ballads, and died at length in a ripe and corpulent old age. While Anselme was thus squandering the gifts of his patrons, Arnaud de Marveil was heaping them together. He was a gentleman of a decayed family in Provence, who on receiving his education, went to the court of Roger II. Viscount of Beziers, where he became enamoured of the Countess, composed verses in her praise, and sung them in her presence, but from a feeling of modesty, attributed their composition to others. His passion for the Countess seems to have been platonic enough as respected her person, but less refined and spiritual as respected her goods and chattels. He soon saw that he was not likely to make his fortune as a singer of other men's ballads, and, “ being constrained by his passion,” as Nostradamus expresses it, he avowed himself an original poet, and came out with a flaming sonnet, addressed to the Countess, in which he implores her to listen to his virtuous addresses, and compassionately grant his just demands:

“ This sonnet had so much virtue and efficacy with the Countess, that no longer rejecting the chaste prayers of Arnaud, she condescended and listened to them graciously; wherefore she furnished him with clothes, and arms, and horses, and held his poems at a high price and value."-p. 66.

Rambaud de Vaqueiras was not so successful with his mistress. She gave him a little encouragement at first, but afterwards withdrew it entirely.

“Wherefore Rambaud, moved with poetic fury, made a poem in divers languages, to correspond with his unhappy case-say

« ZurückWeiter »