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tinct portion of the metrical literature of the age, they in a great measure led to the appearance of the cycle of heroic poems, which, in their turn, constituted one great branch of medieval Latin poetry. It was, as we have seen, of late origin. Military exploits indeed had in all ages been commemorated in song, but it was not till the twelfth century that the fashion prevailed of making the achievements of a modern prince the subject of an epos.
That description of poetry which, though not strictly devotional, may yet be designated religious, contributed in a large measure to the current and increasing literature. The poems of Prudentius, of Prosper, of Arator, had never been lost sight of, and their number was now swelled by a host of similar or inferior productions. Each century, as it passed away, left behind it a vast metrical deposit connected more or less with theological matters. The fruit of monastic or episcopal leisure, it was for the most part either paraphrastic or controversial, and as an adjunct, or rather a correlative branch, possessed the great division of ritualistic or devotional poems which constitute the hymn. But the hymn was a class apart: it had its own forms and laws of composition, and was written expressly for public worship. And not only was it the earliest metrical effusion of Christian piety, and indeed of apostolic origin, but it is the one branch of medieval poetry which has descended to our own days, and which is still employed in the services of the Catholic Church. The religious poems, therefore, and the hymns compose two distinct though cognate divisions of the Latin poetry of this age; the latter, indeed, was now brought to the highest perfection that it has ever attained. It will be observed, however, that Everard in his enumeration has made no mention of the hymns, and, in point of fact, has omitted several of the distinct branches of the art.
Amongst those, on the other hand, which he has recorded, or rather to a portion of which he has alluded, are the more especially popular poems of the age. The names of Æsop, of Avianus, and of Phisiologus point in reality to that wide and curious division of medieval literature comprehended under the name of Bestiaries,—short tales or apologues in which animals are introduced. These now had a great circulation, and a little later were applied to a very different purpose. Vincent, of Beauvais, writing about the middle of the thirteenth century, tells us that the monks and preachers were in the habit of moralizing the popular fables and stories, and that it was the fashion to quote Esop from the pulpit. Sometimes they drew a moral from the jest or anecdote of the day; sometimes they chose the fabliaux and poems of the minstrels, and sometimes they abridged the plots of the romances. The more popular the fable or tale the more suited it was to their
purpose, for the more readily could they arouse the attention of the congregation. Half the freedom of language, and the quaint and almost irreverent turn of thought and expression that is so often observable in medieval sermons, is due to this habit of familiar illustration. But these fables, or beast tales, are only a component part of the general mass of popular poetry. They are but one of its many divisions. Its nature, as we have seen, was almost universal. Satire, love-song, drinking-song, war-song, or dirge, it expressed the emotions and celebrated the customs of many men and many lands.
The metrical legends or lives of saints, and what we have ventured to call the miscellaneous poems, complete the sum of the Latin poetry which existed in Europe in the earlier portion of the thirteenth century. The former carries with it its own explanation. Any abbot who was eminent for his piety, and especially if he happened to be the founder of a monastery, was certain to find some versifier to record his life and his miracles. The latter embraces a vast variety of poems on subjects independent of each other, which scarcely rank with the popular division. Metrical treatises, for example, on philology or medicine, on herbs or on precious stones, partly compose it. A large portion, again, consists of metrical chronicles. Short poems on religious subjects, epigrams, epitaphs, copies of verses written for some particular occasion, constitute in fact its greatest bulk.
Casting our eyes back for a moment to the period of our commencement, we can now see the progress that has been made. In the time of Prudentius, and for more than five hundred years after his death, Latin verse was almost exclusively theological. It was written only by ecclesiastics, and consisted but of a few great and simple divisions. Its tone was hard and harsh, and marked by a painful uniformity. There was no warmth, no colouring, no vividness or energy of expression: its form was angular and stiff; it was utterly destitute of animation and grace. Turn to it now, as it exists in the thirteenth century, and how vast and astonishing is the change! What richness and diversity! what ease and power of expression! Its whole character and spirit have altered. It has lost that air of severity, that sombre and prolix devotion to theology: it is many-sided, versatile, plastic; it embraces all subjects; it presents itself under many aspects; it is, in a word, the mirror in which the age is reflected. There is still, doubtless, a strong theological element in it; but the theological is not, as in the fifth century, the only element prevailing. For generations it has been growing more and more secular, till at last it has thrown off the old ecclesiastical trammels, and while preserving a portion of its original character, has enlarged its sphere and diversified its matter. Whereas formerly it contained
only paraphrases of Scripture, legends of saints, hymns, and a few poems of controversial theology, it now concerns itself with the whole round of human life. There was in this age a great forward movement in the minds of men, and even Latin verse was carried up with the tide.
It was the age when Christian architecture was carried to a perfection that has never been excelled, that Gothic cathedrals rose in all parts of Transalpine Europe. It was the period when art was beginning to throw off the yoke of Byzantinism, and prepare for independence, when the era of Cimabue and Giotto was close at hand. Corrupt as were the older monastic societies, it was the time when the exigencies of the Church called aloud for defenders, and the great Mendicant Orders answered to the appeal. It was the time when, south of the Loire, in the loveliest of all lands, an infant civilization had arisen, distinguished by its rare. refinement, but destined to a swift and mournful end. It was the time when chivalry had attained its full perfection in the stern school of the Crusades, and its features were caught and reflected in rich and marvellous romance. It was the age, likewise, in which the ancient models were diligently studied, and a truer sense of antiquity prevailed.
In an age, then, so brilliant and promising as this, it is surely not strange that this particular description of poetry should, like all other branches of art, show signs of improvement. The influence of the age on it indeed can be distinctly traced. The rhyming Latin poems, the songs and the satires, are the direct expression of feudal taste. Their full-sounding and accumulating rhymes, rolling up into a volume of sonorous music, are to the Virgilian hexameter what the Gothic cathedral is to the Roman temple. In the hexameter and in the temple, dignity is attained by means of simplicity: in the rhyme and in the cathedral it is attained by elaboration of ornament subodinated to unity of effect. The epics, on the other hand, if they may be termed so, are the direct result of the newly-awakened admiration for antiquity. Feeble and imperfect as they may be, they have but little in common with their own age: they are in no sense the expression of medieval taste, except so far as it was retrospective. The hymns, again, are the full and direct expression of monastic piety. Their form is essentially Gothic. To read them even in the silence of the closet, is as if a man stood in some vast cathedral while the storm of music was raging through the aisles, and the sunset fell in crimson and gold through the blazoned windows.
This fortunate age was not fated to be of long continuance. From the latter part of the twelfth to the middle of the thirteenth century may, perhaps, be called the golden age of mediæval Latinity. After that time there was a sensible decline in all the
Transalpine countries. Philology was neglected, rhetoric was despised, verse relapsed in utter barbarism, scholastic philosophy was all in all. It was not till long after, when the days of the rénaissance had arrived, that Latin verse was not only restored to what it had been in medieval times, but attained a purity and a splendour of which medieval times had no conception.
And here we must arrest our course. It has been our object rather to give a broad and general sketch of the chief features of ecclesiastical and monastic verse than a long catalogue of names and works. But so vast is the magnitude of the subject, and the number of matters with which it is connected, that it is scarcely possible to do it justice in an essay. Until, however, some work of authority appears on the subject, those who would learn aught of its nature, but must be content either to give many hours to the perusal of many volumes, or trust to attempts as imperfect as
ART II.-The collected Writings of Edward Irving. In five volumes. Edited by his nephew, the Rev. G. CARLYLE, M.A. London: 1864-5.
MORE than four years have elapsed since we reviewed Mrs. Oliphant's Life of Edward Irving.' The interest which that book, by its graphic and truthful portraiture, revived in the great Presbyterian preachers, called up in the minds of many, yet living, vivid recollections of his eloquence, and aroused a desire in many more to possess his works. Though a large portion of his writings had been published in his life-time, and some of these had passed through several editions, there did not exist either an uniform edition of what Irving had published, or a complete collection of what he had written. It appeared, there fore, proper to the possessors of his literary remains, to put forth such an edition as should answer both requirements of uniformity and completeness. We are consequently indebted to the Rev. G. Carlyle, Irving's nephew, for this series of five handsome and portly octavos. How far these volumes answer expectation as to completeness or judiciousness of selection, we shall see as we go on. At any rate, no higher tribute could be paid to the power of Irving's intellect than the publication of these volumes. For Irving was no safe and sound divine whose theology any man, who cared to be thought orthodox, would openly admire. He wrote no work upon any subject of lasting interest extraneous to theology. His style of sermon composition was in every sense inimitable. No one could hope to come up to it in its excellencies, or would attempt to follow it in its peculiarities. Therefore, in publishing his discourses, the expectation that they would find a sale amongst the starveling preachers of our time, who hunger and thirst after new volumes. of sermons, could have had no place as a motive. And yet, in the absence of all these which form the usual reasons for reproducing the writings of a deceased author, who was neither a novelist nor a poet, the well-known publisher, Mr. Alexander Strahan, has deemed it wise to put forth a large and elegant edition of his works. And we doubt not the public have duly appreciated the venture. That it should be made, and that it should succeed, now that Irving has been dead above thirty years, is, we repeat, a noble testimony to the force of his genius.
As the object of the present article is to trace the progress of