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has been scarcely estimated as highly as it deserves. To how great an extent must it have acted as a conductor of the thoughts and images of the old world to the new, making the stores of that old world to be again the heritage of the popular mind-stores which would else have been locked up till the more formal revival of learning, then perhaps to become not the possession of the many, but only of the few. How important was the part which it played, filling up spaces that were in a great measure unoccupied by any other works of imagination at all; lending to men an organ and instrument by which to utter their thoughts, when as yet the modern languages of Europe were in the first process of their formation, and quite unfit to be the adequate clothing for these.

Thus the earliest form in which the Reineke Fuchs, the great fable-epic of the middle ages, appeared,—the significance of which in European literature, no one capable of forming a judgment on the matter will lightly esteem,—is now acknowledged to have been Latin. A poem in four books, in elegiac metre, whose author is unknown, supplied mediately or immediately the ground-plan to all the subsequent dispositions of the matter. Of course it is not meant hereby to deny the essentially popular character of the poem, or to affirm that the Latin poet invented that, which, no doubt, already lived upon the lips of the people; but only that in this Latin the fable-lore of the German world first took shape, and found a distinct utterance for itself.* And thus, too, out of that dreariest tenth century, that wastest place, as it is rightly esteemed, of European literature and of the human mind, James Grimm has published a brief Latin epic of very high merit;* while Fulbert, bishop of Chartres, who died early in the eleventh (1027), could celebrate the song of the nightingale in strains such as these :

* The existence of such an original was long unsuspected, even after an earnest interest had been awakened in the Reineke

Cum telluris, vere novo, producuntur germina,
Nemorosa circumcirca frondescunt et brachia;
Fragrat odor cum suävis florida per gramina,
Hilarescit Philomela, dulcis sonûs † conscia,
Et extendens modulando gutturis spiramina,
Reddit veris et æstivi temporis præconia.
Instat nocti et diei voce sub dulcisonâ,
Soporatis dans quietem cantûs per

Necnon pulcra viatori laboris solatia.
Vocis ejus pulcritudo clarior quàm cithara ;
Vincitur omnis cantando volucrum catervula ;
Implet sylvas atque cuncta modulis arbustula,
Gloriosa valde facta veris


Volitando scandit alta arborum cacumina,
Ac festiva satis gliscit sibilare carmina.
Cedit auceps ad frondosa resonans umbracula,
Cedit olor et suävis ipsius melodia ;
Cedit tibi tympanistra et sonora tibia ;
Quamvis enim videaris corpore permodica,
Tamen cuncti capiuntur hâc tuâ melodiâ :

Fuchs itself. It was first published by Mone, Reinhardus Vulpes, Stuttgart, 1832.

* Waltharius. It had been published indeed before ; and has since been so by Du Méril, Poésies popul. Lat. 1843, p. 313377.

Sonus re-appears here as of the fourth declension (see Freund's Lat. Wörterbuch, s. v.).

Nemo dedit voci tuæ hæc dulcia carmina,

Nisi solus Rex cælestis qui gubernat omnia.* Surely with all its rudeness and deficiencies this poem has the true passion of nature, and contains in it the prophecy and pledge of much more than it actually accomplishes. In that

Gloriosa valde facta veris præ lætitiâ, we have no weak prelude of that rapturous enthusiasm and inspiration, which at a later day have given us such immortal hymns as the Ode to the Skylark, by Shelley.

Or consider these lines of Marbod, bishop of Rheims in the twelfth century; which, stiffy and awkwardly versified as they may be, have yet a deep interest, as touching on those healing influences of nature, the sense of which is almost, if not entirely, confined to modern, that is to Christian, art. They belong to a poem on the coming of the spring; and, as the reader will observe, are in leonine hexameters :

Moribus esse feris prohibet me gratia veris,
Et formam mentis mihi mutuor ex elementis.

* D. Fulberti Opera Varia, Paris, 1608, p. 181. I believe we
owe to Dr. Neale the following very graceful translation :
“When the earth, with spring returning, vests herself in fresher sheen,
And the glades and leafy thickets are arrayed in living green;
When a sweeter fragrance breatheth flowery fields and vales along,
Then, triumphant in her gladness, Philomel begins her song:
And with thick delicious warble far and wide her notes she flings,
Telling of the happy spring tide and the joys that summer brings.
In the pauses of men's slumber deep and full she pours her voice,
In the labour of his travel bids the wayfarer rejoice.
Night and day, from bush and greenwood, sweeter than an earthly lyre,
She, unwearied songstress, carols, distancing the feathered choir,
Fills the hillside, fills the valley, bids the groves and thickets ring,
Made indeed exceeding glorious through the joyousness of spring.
None could teach such heavenly music, none implant such tuneful skill,
Save the King of realms celestial, who doth all things as He will."

Ipsi naturæ congratulor, ut puto, jure:
Distinguunt flores diversi mille colores, .
Gramineum vellus superinduxit sibi tellus,
Fronde virere nemus et fructificare videmus :
Egrediente rosâ viridaria sunt speciosa.
Qui tot pulcra videt, nisi flectitur et nisi ridet,
Intractabilis est, et in ejus pectore lis est ;
Qui speciem terræ non vult cum laude referre,
Invidet Auctori, cujus subservit honori

Bruma rigens, æstas, auctumnus, veris honestas.* May we not say that the old monkish poet is anticipating here--and however faintly, yet distinctly—such strains as the great poets of nature in our own day have made to be heard the conversion of the witch Maimuna in Thalaba, Peter Bell, or those loveliest lines in Coleridge's Remorse?

With other ministrations thou, O Nature,
Healest thy wandering and distempered child ;
Thou pourest on him thy soft influences,
Thy sunny hues, fair forms, and breathing sweets,
Thy melodies of woods, and winds, and waters !
Till he relent, and can no more endure
To be a jarring and a dissonant thing
Amid this general dance and minstrelsy;
But bursting into tears wins back his way,
His angry spirit healed and harmonized

By the benignant touch of love and beauty. Hard measure is for the most part dealt to this poetry.f * Hildeberti et Marbodi Opera, ed. Beaugendre, Paris, 1708,

p. 1617.

† Few are so just to it as Bähr (Die Christl. Dichter Rom's, p. 10): Wenn wir daher auch nicht unbedingt die Ansicht derjenigen theilen können, welche die Einführung dieser Christlichen Dichter statt der heidnischen in Schulen zum Zwecke des Sprachunterrichts wie zur Bildung eines ächt christlichen Gemüths vorschlagen, aus Gründen, die zu offen da liegen, um weiterer Men come to it with a taste formed on quite other models, trying it by laws which were not its laws, by the approximation which it makes to a standard which is so far from being its standard, that the nearer it reaches that, the further removed from any true value it is. They come trying the Gothic cathedral by the laws of the Greek temple, and because they do not find in it that which, in its very faithfulness to its own idea, it cannot have, they treat it as worthy only of scorn and contempt. Nor less have they forgotten, in estimating the worth of this poetry, that much which appears trite and commonplace to us was yet very far from being so at its first utterance. * When the Gothic nations which divided the Roman empire began to crave intellectual and spiritual food, in the healthy hunger of their youth there lay the capacity of deriving truest nourishment from that which to us, partly from our far wider range Ausführung zu bedürfen, die auch nie, selbst in Mittelalter, verkannt worden sind, so glauben wir doch dass es zweckmässig und von wesentlichem Nutzen seyn dürfte den Erzeugnissen christlicher Poesie auch auf unseren höheren Bildungsanstalten eine grössere Aufmerksamheit zuzuwenden, als diess bisher der Fall war, die Jugend demnach in den obern Classen der Gymnasien und Lyceen mit den vorzüglicheren Erscheinungen dieser Poesie, die ihnen jetzt so ganz fremd ist und bleibt, bekannt zu machen, ja selbst einzelne Stücke solcher Dichtungen in die Chrestomathien Lateinischer Dichter, in denen sie wahrlich, auch von anderen Standpunkten aus betrachtet, eine Stelle neben manchen Productionen der heidnischen Zeit verdienen, aufzunehmen, um so zugleich den lebendigen Gegensatz der heidnischen und christlichen Welt und Poesie erkennen zu lassen, und jugendlichen Gemüthern frühe einzuprägen.

* Ampère (vol. iii. p. 213) says with truth, and on this very matter: Ce qui est peu important pour l'histoire de l'art peut l'être beaucoup pour l'histoire de l'esprit humain.


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