« AnteriorContinuar »
men; and these ballads it was the fashion for gends, which present so striking a contrast to the guests at banquets to sing in turn while the all that surrounds them, are broken and depiper played. “Would," exclaims Cicero,“ that faced fragments of that ear:y poetry which, we still had the old ballads of which Cato even in the age of Cato the Censor, had bespeaks !"*
come antiquated, and of which Tully had Valerius Maximus gives us exactly similar never heard a line. information, without mentioning his authority, That this poetry should have been suffered and observes that the ancient Roman ballads to perish will not appear strange when we were probably of more benefit to the young consider how complete was the triumph of the than all the lectures of the Athenian schools, Greek genius over the public mind of Italy. and that to the influence of the national poetry It is probable that, at an early period, Homer, were to be ascribed the virtues of such men Archilochus, and Herodotus, furnished some as Camillus and Fabricius.t
hints to the Latin minstrels :* but it was not Varro, whose authority on all questions con- till after the war with Pyrrhus that the poetry nected with the antiquities of his country is of Rome began to put off its old Ausonian entitled to the greatest respect, tells us that at character. The transformation was soon conbanquets it was once the fashion for boys to summated. The conquered, says Horace, led sing, sometimes with and sometimes without captive the conquerors. It was precisely at instrumental music, ancient ballads in praise the time at which the Roman people rose to of men of former times. These young per- unrivalled political ascendency, that they formers, he observes, were of unblemished stooped to pass under the intellectual yoke. character, a circumstance which he probably It yas precisely at the time at which the mentioned because, among the Greeks, and sceptre departed from Greece that the empire indeed in his time among the Romans also, of her language and of her arts became unithe morals of singing boys were in no high versal and despotic. The revolution indeed repute.
was not effected without a struggle. Nævius The testimony of Horace, though given in- seems to have been the last of the ancient line cidentally, confirms the statements of Cato, of poets. Ennius was the founder of a new Valerius Maximus, and Varro. The poet pre- dynasty. Nævius celebrated the First Punic dicts that, under
the peaceful administration War in Saturnian verse, the old national verse of Augustus, the Romans will, over their full of Italy.f Ennius sang the Second Punic War goblets, sing to the pipe, after the fashion of their fathers, the deeds of brave captains, and * See the Preface to the Lay of the Battle of Regilius. the ancient legends touching the origin of the + Cicero speaks highly in more than one place of this city.
poem of Nævius ; Ennius sneered at it, and stole from it The proposition, then, that Rome had ballad.
As to the Saturnian measure, see Herman's Elementa
Doctrinæ Metricæ, iii. 9. poetry is not merely in itself highly probable, The Saturnian line consisted of two parts. The first but it is fully proved by direct evidence of the was a catalectic dimeter iambic; the second was comgreatest weight.
posed of three trochees. But the license taken by the
early Latin poets seems to have been almost boundless. This proposition being established, it be- The most perfect
Saturnian line which has been precomes easy to understand why the early his served by the grammarians was the work, not of a protory of the city is uulike almost every thing
fessional artisi, but of an amateur ; else in Latin literature-native where almost
“Dabunt malum Metelli Nævio poetæ." everything else is borrowed, imaginative
There has been much difference of opinion among where almost every thing else is prosaic. We That it is the saine with a Greek measure used by Ar.
learned men respecting the history of this measure. can scarcely hesitate to pronounce that the chilochus is indisputable. (Bentley, Phalaris, si.) But magnificent, pathetic, and truly national le- in spite of the authority of Terentianus Maurus, and of
the still higher authority of Bentley, we may venture to
doubt whether the coincidence was not fortuitous. We Cicero refers twice to this important passage in constantly find the same rude and simple numbers in Cato's Antiquities :-"Gravissimus auctor in ‘Origini. different countries, under circumstances which make it bus' dixit Cato, morem apud majores hunc epularum impossible to suspect that there has been imitation on fuisse, ut deinceps, qui accubarent, canerent ad tibiam either side. Bishop lleber heard the children of a vil. clarorum virorum laudes atqne virtutes. Ex quo per- lage in Bengal singing " Radha, Radha," to the tune of Apicuum est, et cantus tum fuisse rescriptos vocum so- “My boy Billy.” Neither the Castilian nor the German nis, et carmina."--Tusc. Quæst. iv. 2. Again: "Utinam minstrels of the middle ages owed any thing to Paros or exstarent illa carmina quæ multis sæculis ante suam to ancient Rome. Yet both the poem of the Cid and the ætatem in epulis esse cantitata a singulis convivis de poem of the Nibelungs contain many Saturnian verses ; clarorum virorum laudibus in 'Originibus' scriptum reliquit Cato."-Brutus, cap. xix.
“Estas nuevas a mio Cid eran venidas." + " Majores natu in conviviis ad tiblas egregia supe- A mi lo dicen ; a ti dan las orejadas.' Forum opera carmine comprehensa pangebant, quo ad en imitanda juventutem alacriorum redderent,
“Man möhte michel wunder von Sifride sagen." Quay Athenas, quam scholam, quæ alienigena studia
“Wa ich den Künic vinde daz sol man mir sagen.” huic domesticæ disciplinæ prætulerim? Inde oriebantur Indeed, there cannot be a more perfect Saturnian line Camilli, Scipiones, Fabricii, Marcelli, Fabii." - Val. than one which is sung in every English nurseryMar. ii. 1. I“In conviviis pueri modesti ut cantarent carmina
“The queen was in her parlour eating bread and honey." ontiqua, in quibus laudes erant majorum, et assa voce, yet the author of this line, we may be assured, borrowed et cum tibicine.” Nonius, Assa voce pro sola.
nothing from either Nævius or Archilochus. "Nosque et profestis lucibus et sacris,
On the other hand, it is by no means improbable that, Inter jocosi munera Liberi,
two or three hundred years before the time of Ennius, Cum prole matronisque nostris,
some Latin minstrels inay have visited Sybaris or CroRite Deos prius apprecati,
tona, may have heard some verses of Archilochus sung, Virtute functos, MORE PATRUM, duces, may have been pleased with the metre, and may have Lydis remixto carmine tibiis,
introduced it at Rome. Thus much is certain, that the Trnjamque, et Anchisen, et almæ
Saturnian measure, if not a native of Italy, was at Progeniem Venerie canemus."
least so early and so completely naturalized inere tba Cari. iv. 51. its foreign origin was forgotten.
in numbers borrowed from the Iliad. The as the traveller on classic ground sometimes elder poet, in the epitaph which he wrote for finds, built into the heavy wall of a fort or conhimself, and which is a fine specimen of the vent, a pillar rich with acanthus leaves, or a early Roman diction and versification, plain- frieze where the Amazons and Bacchanals tively boasted that the Latin language had seem to live. The theatres and temples of the died with him. Thus, what to Horace ap- Greek and the Roman were degraded into the peared to be the first faint dawn of Roman quarries of the Turk and the Goth. Even so literature, appeared to Nævius to be its hope- did the old Saturnian poetry become the quarry less setting. In truth, one literature was set in which a crowd of orators and annalists ting, and another dawning.
found the materials for their prose. The victory of the foreign taste was deci- It is not difficult to trace the process by sive: and indeed we can hardly blame the which the old songs were transmuted into thu Romans for turning away with contempt from form which they now wear.
Funeral panethe rude lays which had delighted their fathers, gyric and chronicle appear to have been the and giving their whole admiration to the great intermediate links which connected the lost productions of Greece. The national romances, ballads with the histories now extant. From neglected by the great and the refined whose a very early period it was the usage that an education had been finished at Rhodes or oration should be pronounced over the remains Athens, continued, it may be supposed, during of a noble Roman. The orator, as we learn some generations, to delight the vulgar. While from Polybius, was expected, on such an occaVirgil, in hexameters of exquisite modulation, sion, to recapitulate all the services which the described the sports of rustics, those rustics ancestors of the deceased had, from the earliest were still singing their wild Saturnian ballads.t time, rendered to the commonwealth. There It is not improbable that, at the time when can be little doubt that the speaker on whom Cicero lamented the irreparable loss of the this duty was imposed would make use of all poems mentioned by Cato, a search among the the stories suited to his purpose which were to nooks of the Apennines, as active as the search be found in the popular lays. There can be as which Sir Walter Scott made among the de- little doubt that ihe family of an eminent man scendants of the mosstroopers of Liddesdale, would preserve a copy of the speech which might have brought to light many fine remains had been pronounced over his corpse. The of ancient minstrelsy. No such search was compilers of the early chronicles would have made. The Latin ballads perished forever. recourse to these speeches; and the great his. Yet discerning critics have thought that they torians of a later period would have recourse could still perceive in the early history of to the chronicles. Rome numerous fragments of this lost poetry, It may be worth while to select a particular
story, and to trace its probable progress through Bentley says, indeed, that the Saturnian measure was these stages. The description of the migration first brought from Greece into Italy by Nævius. But this of the Fabian house to Cremera is one of the is merely obiter dictum, to use a phrase common in our courts of law, and would not have been deliberately finest of the many fine passages which lie maintained by that incomparable critic, whose memory thick in the earlier books of Livy. The Conis held in reverence by all lovers of learning. The sul, clad in his military garb, stands in the arguments which mighi be brought against Bentley's assertion-for it is mere assertion, supported by no evi- vestibule of his house, marshalling his clan, dence--are innumerable. A few will suffice.
three hundred and six fighting men, all of the 1. Bentley's assertion is opposed to the lestimony of Ennius. Ennius sneered at Nævius for writing on the
same proud patrician blood, all worthy to be First Punic War in verses such as the old Italian bards attended by the fasces and to command the used hefore Greek literature had been studied. Now, legions. A sad and anxious retinue of friends the poem of Nævius was in Saturnian verse. Is it possible that Ennius could have used such expressions, if
accompanies the adventurers through the the Saturnian verse had been just imported from streets; but the voice of lamentation is drown2. Bentley's assertion is opposed to the testimony of the procession passes the Capitol, prayers and
ed by the shouts of admiring thousands. As Horace. "When Greece," says Horace, “introduced her arts into our uncivilized country, those rugged Sa- vows are poured forth, but in vain. The de. turnian numbers passed away." Would Horace have voted band, leaving Janus on the right, marches said this, if the saturnian numbers had been imported to its doom through the Gate of Evil Luck. from Greece just before the hexameter ?
3. Bentley's assertion is opposed to the testimony of After achieving great deeds of valour against Festus and of Aurelius Victor, both of whom positively overwhelming numbers, all perish save one say that the most ancient prophecies attributed to the child, the stock from which the great Fabian Fauns were in Saturnian verse.
4. Bentley's assertion is opposed io the testimony of race was destined again to spring, for the Terentianus Maurus, to whom he has himself appealed. safety and glory of the commonwealth That Terentianus Maurus does indeed say that the Saturnian measure, though believed by the Romans from a very this fine romance, the details of which are so carly period (* credidit vetustas") to be of Italian in- full of poetical truth, and so utterly destitute vention, was really borrowed from the Greeks. Terentianus Maurus does not say that it was first bort of all show of historical truth, came originally rowed by Nrvius. Nay, the expressions used by Te- from some lay which had often been sung with rentianus Maurus clearly imply the contrary; for how great applause at banquets, is in the highest could the Romans have believed, from a very early degree probable. Nor is it difficult to imagine period, that this mcasure was the indigenous production of Larium, if it was really brought over from Greece in a mode in which the transmission might have an age of intelligence and liberal curiosity, --in the age taken place. The celebrated Quintus Fabius which gave birth to Ennius, Plautus, Cato the Censor, Maximus, who died about twenty years before and other distinguished writers? If Bentley's assertion were correct, there could have been no more doubt at the First Punic War, and more than forty Rome about the Greek origin of the Saturnian measure years before Ennius was born, is said to have than about the Greek origin of hexameters or Sapphics. been interred with extraordinary pomp: In the * Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticæ, i. 24. + See Seivius, in Georg. ij. 38
eulogy pronounced over his body all the great VOL. IV-68
Greece for the first time ?
exploits of his ancestors were doubtless re- | after the ballads had been altogether forgotten, counted and exaggerated. If there were then consulted the chronicle. He was struck by the exiant songs which gave a vivid and touching lively colouring of these ancient fictions; he description of an event, the saddest and the transferred them to his pages; and thus we most glorious in the long history of the Fabian find inserted, as unquestionable facts, in a narhouse, nothing could be more natural than that rative which is likely to last as long as the the panegyrist should borrow from such songs English tongue, the inventions of some min. their finest touches, in order to adorn his strel whose works were probably never comspeech. A few generations later the songs mitted to writing, whose name is buried in would perhaps be forgotten, or remembered oblivion, and whose dialect has become obsoonly by shepherds and vine-dressers. But the lete. It must then be admitted to be possible, speech would certainly be preserved in the or rather highly probable, that the stories of archives of the Fabian nobles. Fabius Pictor Romulus and Remus, and of the Horatii and would be well acquainted with a document so Curiatii, may have had a similar origin. interesting to his personal feelings, and would Castilian literature will furnish us with aninsert large extracts from it in his rude chro- other parallel case. Mariana, the classical nicle. That chronicle, as we know, was the historian of Spain, tells the story of the ill-staroldest to which Livy had access. Livy would red marriage which the King Don Alonso at a glance distinguish the bold strokes of the brought about between the heirs of Carrion forgotten poet from the dull and feeble narra- and the two daughters of the Cid. The Cid tive by which they were surrounded, would bestowed a princely dower on his sons-in-law. retouch them with a delicate and powerful But the young men were base and proud, corpencil, and would make them immortal. ardly and cruel. They were tried in danger,
That this might happen at Rome can scarcely and found wanting. They fled before the be doubted; for something very like this has Moors, and once, when a lion broke out of his happened in several countries, and, among den, they ran and couched in an unseemly others, in our own. Perhaps the theory of hiding-place. They knew that they were dePerizonius cannot be better illustrated than by spised, and took counsel how they might be showing that what he supposes to have taken avenged. They parted from their father-in-law place in ancient times has, beyond all doubt, with many signs of love, and set forth on a taken place in modern times.
journey with Doña Elvira and Doña Sol. In History,” says Hume, with the utmost gra- a solitary place the bridegroomis seized their vity,“ has preserved some instances of Edgar's brides, stripped them, scourged them, and deamours, from which, as from a specimen, we parted, leaving them for dead. But one of the may form a conjecture of the rest.” He then house of Bivar, suspecting foul play, had fol. tells very agreeably the stories of Elfleda and lowed them in disguise. The ladies were Elfrida; two stories which have a most sus brought back safe to the house of their father. picious air of romance, and which, indeed, Complaint was made to the king. It was ad. greatly resemble, in their general character, judged by the Cortes that the dower given by some of the legends of early Rome. He cites, the Cid should be returned, and that the heirs as his authority for these two tales, the chro- of Carrion together with one of their kindred nicle of William of Malmesbury, who lived in should do battle against three knights of the the time of King Stephen. The great majority party of the Cid. The guilty youths would of readers suppose that the device by which have declined the combat; but all their shifts Elfeda was substituted for her young mistress, were vain. They were vanquished in the lists, the artifice by which Athelwold obtained the and forever disgraced, while their injured hand of Elfrida, the detection of that artifice, wives were sought in marriage by great the hunting party, and the vengeance of the princes.* amorous king, are things about which there is Some Spanish writers have laboured to no more doubt than about the execution of show, by an examination of dates and circum. Anne Boleyn, or the slitting of Sir John Co- stances, that this story is untrue. Such conventry's nose. But, when we turn to William futation was surely not needed; for the narraOF Malmesbury, we find that Hume, in his tive is on the face of it a romance. How it mgerness to relate these pleasant fables, has found its way into Mariana's history is quite overlooked one very important circumstance. clear. He acknowledges his obligations to the William does indeed tell both the stories; but old chronicles, and had doubtless before him he gives us distinct notice that he does not the “Cronica del famoso Cavallero Cid Ruy warrant their truth, and that they rest on no Diez Campeador," which had been printed as better authority than that of ballads."
early as the year 1552. He little suspected Such is the way in which these two well- that all the most striking passages in this known tales have been handed down. They chronicle were copied from a poem of the originally appeared in a poetical form. They twelfth century, a poem of which ihe language found their way from ballads into an old chroni- and versification had long been obsolete, but cle. The ballads perished; the chronicle re- which glowed with no common portion of the mained. A great historian, some centuries fire of the Iliad. Yet such was the faci.
More than a century and a half after the death “Infamias quas post dicam magis resperserunt can- of Mariana, this grand old ballad, of which one llene.". Edgar appears to have been most mercilessly imperfect copy on parchment, four hundred troated in the Anglo-Saxon ballads. Ile was the favourite of the monks; and the monks and minstrels were at deadly feud.
• Mariana, lib. I. cap. 4
years cld, had been preserved at Bivar, was over the vanquished, which the reader will for the first time printed. Then it was found sometimes observe. To portray a Roman of that every interesting circumstance of the story the age of Camillus or Curius as superior to of the heirs of Carrion was derived by the elo national antipathies, as mourning over the dequent Jesuit from a song of which he had vastation and slaughter by which empire and never heard, and which was composed by a triumphs were to be won, as looking on human minstrel whose very name had long been for suffering with the sympathy of Howard, or as gotten.
treating conquered enemies with the delicacy Such, or nearly such, appears to have been of the Black Prince, would be to violate all the process by which the lost ballad-poetry of dramatic propriety. The old Romans had Rome was transformed into history. To re- some great virtues,-fortitude, temperance, verse that process, to transform some portions veracity, spirit to resist oppression, respect for of early Roman history back into the poetry legitimate authority, fidelity in the observing out of which they were made, is the object of of contracts, disinterestedness, ardent public this work.
spirit; but Christian charity and chivalrous In the following poems the author speaks, generosity were alike unknown to them. not in his own person, but in the persons of It would have been obviously improper to ancient minstrels who know only what a Ro- mimic the manner of any particular age or man citizen, born three or four hundred years country. Something has been borrowed, how. before the Christian era, may be supposed to ever, from our own old ballads, and more from have known, and who are in nowise above Sir Walter Scott, the great restorer of our bal. the passions and prejudices of their age and lad-poetry. To the Iliad still greater obligacountry. To these imaginary poets must be tions are due; and those obligations have been ascribed some blunders which are so obvious contracted with the less hesitation because that it is unnecessary to point them out. The there is reason to believe that some of the old real blunder would have been to represent Latin minstrels really had recourse to that inthese old poets as deeply versed in general | exhaustible store of poetical images. history, and studious of chronological accuracy. It would have been easy to swell this little To them must also be attributed the illiberal volume to a very considerable bulk, by append. sneers at the Greeks, the furious party spirit, ing notes filled with quotations; but to a learn. the contempt for the arts of peace, the love of ed reader such notes are not necessary; for an war for its own sake, the ungenerous exultation unlearned reader they would have little inte.
rest; and the judgment passed both by the • See the account which Sanchez gives of the Bivar learned and by the unlearned on a work of the manuscript in the first yolume of the Coleccion de Poesias imagination will always depend much more Castellanas anteriores al siglo XV. Part of the story of The lords of Carrion, in the poem of the Cid, has been on the general character and spirit of such a translated by Mr. Frere in a manner above all praise. work than on minute details.
THERE can be little doubt that among those two old Roman lays about the defence of the parts of early Roman history which had a po- bridge; and that, while the story which Livy etical origin was the legend of Horatius Cocles. has transmitted to us was preferred by the We have several versions of the story, and multitude, the other, which ascribed the whole these versions differ from each other in points glory to Horatius alone, may have been the of no small importance. Polybius, there is favourite with the Horatian house. reason to believe, heard the tale recited over The following ballad is supposed to have the remains of some Consul or Prætor descend- been made about a hundred and twenty years ed from the old Horatian patricians; for he after the war which it celebrates, and just beevidently introduces it as a specimen of the fore the taking of Rome by the Gauls. The narratives with which the Romans were in the author seems to have been an honest citizen, habit of embellishing their funeral oratory. It proud of the military glory of his country, sick is remarkable that, according to his descrip- of the disputes of factions, and much given to tion, Horatius defended the bridge alone, and pining after good old times which had never perished in the waters. According to the really existed. The allusion, however, to the chronicles which Livy and Dionysius fol- partial manner in which the public lands were lowed, Horatius had two companions, swam allotted could proceed only from a plebeian; safe to shore, and was loaded with honours and the allusion to the fraudulent sale of spoils and rewards.
marks the date of the poem, and shows that These discrepancies are easily explained. the poet shared in the general discontent with Our own literature, indeed, will furnish an which the proceedings of Camillus, after the exact parallel to what may have taken place taking of Veii, were regarded. at Rome. It is highly probable that the me- The penultimate syllable of the name Porsemory of the war of Porsena was preserved by na has been shortened in spite of the authority compositions much resembling the two ballads of Niebuhr, who pronounces, without assign. which stand first in the Reliqucs of Ancient Eng- ing any ground for his opinion, that Martial lish Poetry. In both those ballads the English, was guilty of a decided blunder in the line, commanded by the Percy fight with the Scots,
“Hanc spectare manum Porsena non potuit." commanded by the Douglas. In one of the ballads, the Douglas is killed by a nameless
It is not easy to understand how any modern English archer, and the Percy by a Scottish scholar, whatever his attainments may be, spearman : in the other, the Percy slays the and those of Niebuhr were undoubtedly im. Douglas in single combat, and is himself made mense,-can venture to pronounce that Mar. prisoner. In the former, Sir Hugh Montgomery tial did not know the quantity of a word which is shot through the heart by a Northumbrian he must have uttered and heard uttered a bowman: in the latter, he is taken, and ex
hundred times before he left school. Niebuhr changed for the Percy. Yet both the ballads seems also to have forgotten that Martial has relate to the same event, and that an event fellow culprits to keep him in countenance. which probably took place within the memory
Horace has committed the same decided blunof persons who were alive when both the bal- der; for he gives us, as a pure iambic line, lads were made. One of the minstrels says: “Minacis aut Etrusca Porsenæ manus."
Silius Italicus has repeatedly offended in the “Old men that knowen the grownde well yenoughe Call it the battell of Otterburn:
same way, as when he says, At Otterburn began this spurne
“Cernitur effugiens ardentem Porsena dextram;" Upon a monnyn day. Ther was the dougghte Doglas slean:
and again, The Perse never went away."
“Clusinum vulgus, cum, Porsena magne, jubebas." The other poet sums up the event in the fol. A modern writer may be content to err in such 'owing lines:
company. “Thys fraye bygan at Ollerborne
Niebuhr's supposition that each of the three Bytwene the nyghte and the day;
defenders of the bridge was the representative Ther the Dowglas lost hys lyfe, And the Percy was lede away."
of one of the three patrician tribes is both in.
genious and probable, and has been adopted It is by no means unlikely ha: there were in the following poem.