Abbildungen der Seite

p. 79, 80.

ing therein, that in like manner as he had changed her opinion of him, so he had changed languages. The first stanza was written in Provensal, the second in the Tuscan dialect, the third in French, the fourth in Gascon, the fifth in Spanish, and the final stanza in the said five languages mingled together."

Rambaud survived this paroxysm of poetic fury, and afterwards accompanied Boniface Ill. Marquis of Montferrat, in the fourth crusade against the infidels. The poet signalized himself on this occasion, by acts of the most heroic valour, was made a knight, and received an important post in the government of Thessalonica.

Pierre Vidal, or Peyre Vidal according to the Provensal orthography, has been called the maddest lover and the wisest poet among all the troubadours.

“ He was a good and sovereign musician, a delectable poet in the Provensal language, and the most ready to invent and compose that had been known for a long time. He was a great boaster; every thing that he saw which pleased him, he thought and called his own; he sung enormous and incredible follies of love and of arms, and spoke evil of every body. He went to the court of René, prince of Marseilles, a patron of the Provensal poets, who took him with him to the Holy Land in 1227, where he became enamoured of a beautiful Greek lady, and married her. And they made him believe that she was niece of the emperor of Constantinople, and that by reason thereof all the empire of the east belonged to him. And he, giving credit to all this, applied all the gold and silver that he gained by his poetry, to the building of ships to go the conquest of his vain empire, and changed the imperial arms, gules, to a trident of gold, giving himself the title of Emperor, and his wife that of Empress. He was in love with all the ladies he saw, and made love to them all, and offered his services to them all. He had such an opinion of himself, that he was not ashamed to lay his commands on them, as their lord and master, and believed that they were all dying to have him for their lover, and that he was the most renowned knight in the world, and the most beloved of the ladies. In one of his songs, he boasts that neither snow, nor rain, nor dark tempests, shall hinder him from executing his high and glorious enterprises; and he compares himself to Gawain, in that all which he takes or touches he breaks and grinds to powder, and adds, that he has only to go the conquest of his empire to make the whole world tremble."--pp. 97, 99. VOL. I.


The poems of Pierre Vidal have been praised for the beauty of the sentiment, and the numerousness of the verse.

The following is his personification of that passion, which divided the hearts of the Troubadours with the thirst of military glory. The Love of Pierre Vidal is not Love the baby—such as he was represented in the pastoral age, and by those who prattle of his power and his emblems at the present day, wearing the wings of a bird at his shoulders, and carrying a bow, the weapon of the earliest times, in his hands. It is Love grown up—the gallant and graceful knight--such as he was wont to bow in the courts of princes, and combat in the presence of bright eyes at the tournament. “ The earth was sown with early flowers, the heavens were clear and

bright, I met a youthful cavalier, as lovely as the light: I knew him not-but in my heart his graceful image lies, And well I marked his open brow, his sweet and tender eyes, His ruddy lips that ever smiled, his glittering teeth betwixt, And flowing robe, embroidered o'er with leaves and blossoms mixt. He wore a chaplet of the rose; his palfrey, white and sleek, Was marked with many an ebon spot, and many a purple streak. Of jasper was his saddle bow, his housings sapphire stone, And brightly in his stirrup glanced the purple calcedon. Fast rode the gallant cavalier, as youthful horsemen ride: “Peyre Vidal! know that I am Love,' the blooming stranger cried, And this is Mercy by my side, a danie of high degree; This maid is Chastity,' he said, 'this squire is Loyalty.”” The sketch given by Nostradamus of the life of William Durant, is not a little edifying,—inasmuch, in the first place, as it shows that the one may be a tolerable poet, and yet an excellent lawyer; and, in the second place, as it preserves a very sound maxim of a very wise man.

“ He was the greatest jurisconsult of his time, and more famous than any one who has written after him, as well in the theory as in the practice of the law, on account of his knowledge, in which, some have called him the speculator, and others the father of practice. In his youth, he applied himself to the reading of the best books that could be found, and lived in a continual sobriety of life, which was a means of singular efficacy towards the strengthening of his memory. And every one was in admiration of the goodness of his memory, for when he had read any delectable book in the Provensal, whether it were prose or rhyme, he was able to recite it immediately, word for word. He held, that gluttony and drunkenness stupified the understanding, and altogether offuscated and darkened the re

collection. He made many beautiful poems in praise of a lady of the house of Balbs, in the Provensal language, in which he was well versed, and an excellent poet. Saint Cesary saith, that he often used this sentence, in the advice he gave to pleaders in the courts, when he knew that their cause was weak,

Mais val calar,

Que fol parlar. Which, being interpreted, signifies—that it is better to be silent, than to talk idly.”—-pp. 125—127.

William Durant was not the only Troubadour who was a lawyer. Lanfranc Sygalle was also of the long robe, “ a wise and prudent man, a good orator and counsellor, a sergeant at law, making an occupation and profession of the laws and of arms." Boniface of Castellane followed different maxims from those of the grave and severe William Durant. Durant derived his inspiration from continual sobriety, Boniface from the bottle.

" It was a wonder to see him when he had well drunken; he was agitated with an incredible poetic fury, writing or declaiming poetry with all the madness of a prophet, sparing no person of what degree soever he might be. And in the final couplet of the most part of his songs, it was his wont to put these words -bouka qu'as tu dich? mouth, what hast thou said ? As if he almost repented that he had said so much, knowing well that his tongue, although he said the truth, might one day work him hurt."--p. 136.

It does not appear, after all, that Boniface, in the bitterness and severity of his satires, exceeds Sordel of Mantua, a troubadour, of whom Nostradamus says, “that he surpassed in Provensal verse, all the other Genoese and T'uscan poets, who for the sweetness of our Provensal language, delighted therein more than in their mother tongue.” Sordel was taken into the service of Raymond Berenger V. count of Provence, when only fifteen years old. Even at that early age, his talent for Provensal poetry, gave promise of the high excellence which he afterwards attained. There he addicted himself to all the studies of the age, and excelled in them all. He disdained to waste, like the common herd of troubadours, his talent upon the trite and trivial topic of love, but chose subjects of morals and philosophy, and in his verses, boldly reprehended the vices of the great. On the death of a distinguished Provensal gentleman, of the name of Blachas, or Blacas, he took occasion to

compose a satire on the princes of Europe, in the form of a lamentation over the dead.

"I mourn for my lord Blachas, I weep that he is dead
That the noblest, bravest spirit of this coward age is fled.
We cannot call it back-but we'll keep his generous heart,
And the craven lords of Europe shall each receive a part.
Let the Emperor partake, if he would triumph o'er
The Pope and the Milanese, whose armies press him sore.
And give the king of France—that youthful king—a share,
And he may get Castile again-the gem he used to wear :
But since, in his councils, another rules than he,
Let him take especial care his mother does not see.
Give largely to the English king, and he may think, perchance,
Of winning back the goodly lands he lately lost in France.
The monarch of Castile--let him take enough for two,
Or to rule his dwindled realm will be more than he can do:
But silently and secretly let him receive his share,
Lest Portugal should come in wrath, and pull his royal hair.
Let him of Arragon partake, as largely as he will,
That he may clear, from foul disgrace, his courage and his skill,
Who, leading all his hosts, came on with furious heat,
To take Milan and storm Marseilles, and shamefully was beat.
Give freely to Navarre-that lily-livered thing-
He was a tolerable count, but makes a sorry king :
And to the count of Toulouse—that he may see, at length,
How warlike hands have lopped his realm, and hewn away his

Let the count of Provence take, and think at what a cost
Of glory and of life, his Sicily was lost ;-
How, at the sacred hour, when rung the vesper-bell,
By thousands, in those bloody streets, the sons of Provence fell.”-

pp. 154, 155. Bertrand d’Allamanon wrote a sirvente against the archbishop of Arles, in which he denounced him, as “a perverse and corrupt man, who believed neither in God, nor the holy scriptures, who had grown rich by means of false witnesses, a perjured villain, and a disturber of society, who deserved to be burnt or buried alive." Luco of Grimaud was still more hardy, for he scrupled not to attack the head of the church himself.

“ He wrote many comic pieces, full of curses against pope Boniface VIII. for which he was severely rebuked by the magistrates, so that he was constrained to put them into the fire in their presence, and burn them. But being moved with a just and laudable fury, which often happeneth to poets, and having retained them all in his memory, he wrote them out again, amplifying and enriching them, with new taunts against

his holiness, and made a present thereof to De Gambateza, lieutenant of the king in Provence.”-pp. 180, 181.

The history of Richard Cour-de-Lion, is thus briefly despatched by Nostradamus;

“ He was the son of Henry king of England, and was elected emperor of the Romans. In his youth,

frequenting the court of Raymond Berenger, count of Provence, last of the name, he was surprised with love of Leonora, or Eleanor, one of the four daughters of the count, whom afterwards he married. While there, be often heard the Provensal poets, who were in the train of the count of Provence, recite many beautiful ballads, which they sung in their mother Provensal tongue, wherein Richard took great pleasure. And, on account of the sweetness of that language, he amused himself in composing verses in it, and delighted in the reading of the beautiful poems written therein. Some years afterwards, he went beyond sea to the conquest of the holy land, with St. Louis king of France, and other princes : on his return he was made prisoner; and during his captivity he composed many songs, which he addressed to Beatrice, countess and heir of Provence, sister of the said Eleanor, complaining that his barons and gentlemen left him so long in captivity, without paying his ransom,-saying, in the second stanza of one of them,

Yet, be my liege-men and my barons told,

That there is no companion of my train,
So low, so poor, that for the love of gold,

I'd let him lie unransomed in his chain :
I tax them not with wrong,—but twice the year

Has come, and found me still a prisoner here."*---pp. 139, 140. Another troubadour of illustrious rank, was the count of Poitiers, a powerful nobleman, who flourished in the beginning of the fourteenth century, and not only wrote very tolerable poetry himself, but filled all the offices of his court with poets.

* Or sachan ben mos homs, e mos barons,

Anglez, Normans, Peytavins, et Gascons,
Qu'yeu non ay ja si paure compagnon,
Que per aves lou laissess' en preson :
Faire reproch, certas yeu voli non,

Mas souy dos hivers prez. See Sismondi's History of the Literature of the South of Europe, vol. i. p. 153. of the Paris edition, where the whole of this fine poem is given in old French, and the two first couplets in the original Provensal, but with a considerable variation of the orthography from the quotation in Nostradamus

« ZurückWeiter »