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The longest and most important of these, written while he was yet at Bec, in spite of its somewhat ascetic title-' De Contemptu Mundi'-is distinguished by its unaffected piety, though its poetic merits can scarcely be insisted on. Addressed more particularly to his own monks, it is designed to shew them the happiness of their choice, by contrasting the peace and repose of the cloister with the brief pleasures and vanities of the world; and is in reality, a defence of the life to which he was himself devoted. After reminding them that the outward garment does not make the monk, he reminds them of the vows they have undertaken, solicits them to act always as under the eye of God, and passes on to consider the dangers incident to the various conditions of mankind. Kings, in their glory, are too apt to avert their eyes and forget their mortality, but their fortune is far from sure. The oak falls while the myrtle is left standing, the strong tower is shattered whilst the cottage is safe; their hearts are full of hesitation and dread, for, he adds almost in the words of Laberius, power that is feared by many, is itself in dread of not a few. Thence passing on, he takes occasion to dilate on the ill effects of too great an attachment to life, on the worthlessness of splendid descent, and the idleness of bodily strength, and speaks at some length of the habit which, it seems, women had contracted of resorting openly to the monasteries for the purpose of receiving instruction. This practice he emphatically condemns: some of his lines, indeed, are remarkably ungallant; but he is induced, from speaking of women, to proceed to a consideration of the marriage state, and his view of this is fully marked by the asceticism of the time. He does not, it is true, condemn it, but observes that it is not for such as would aspire to perfection, and that those who have entered it cannot look to reap hereafter their sixty or a hundred-fold; but it must be remembered, that this not only was, but had been from remote times, the opinion of the Church. Monachism was the first virtue, to which all the others might be added, and without which they were not wholly inefficacious, but deprived of that which gave them their greatest value. The conclusion of the poem is simple and easy. After dwelling on the various vices and passions to which men are liable, he insists with great strength on the fragility and shortness of all human affairs, and ends by contrasting the peaceful humility of the cloister with the cares and temptations of the world. It is written in very indifferent elegiacs, and consists of some eight hundred lines.2

1 'Non paucos metuit multis metuenda potestas.'-S. Anselm.
'Necesse est ut multos timeat quem multi timent.'-Laberius.

2 Migne, tom. 158. The poem 'De Contemptu Mundi,' it should be observed, has been repeatedly published as the work of Anselm, though on unsatisfactory

Anselm wrote during the latter half of this century, and though a Lombard by extraction, resided either in Normandy or England; but though he may perhaps be taken as a representative of the age, it would be erroneous to speak of him as the best or purest of its poets. There was, in point of fact, very little difference between them, and that little consisted, for the most part, in their various degrees of barbarism. The best poem of the age, to speak of it from a classical point of view, was not the production of any of its recorded versifiers, but of an anonymous monk, probably of the monastery of Jumiéges, who wrote a short metrical account of the foundation, destruction, and restoration of that establishment; and this little work shows a taste far more correct and cultivated than is to be found in more pretentious compositions.1 Turn for a moment to the poems of Hermannus Contractus, or Hermann the cripple, a monk of the famous abbey of Richenau, a man who, in spite of his infirmities, was distinguished as a poet, a historian, a philosopher, a musician, a theologian, and a mathematician, and who lived during the first half of the century. They are very varied and numerous: they consist of lives of various saints embodied in songs (cantus historiales) for general circulation of a book of lyrics on the eight principal vices, 'jocundulum is the term applied to it by one of his friends; of a rhythm, celebrating the victory of Henry III. over the Hungarians, and of an infinity of hymns and sequences. These, with the exception of some fragments, are now lost, and the most considerable poem of Hermann is the Carmen de Conflictu Ovis et Lini,' first published by M. Du Méril in 1843:2 but this belongs to a class so large and distinctive, that a few words on it are absolutely imperative. A few volumes, it may be added, would be insufficient to exhaust the subject, for its extent is enormous, and it increased with each successive generation.

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From the most ancient times of Christianity, and indeed a far higher antiquity might be claimed, a large body of compositions had existed, treating both of religious and secular subjects, which were more generally diffused than those poems written in imitation of the classical models. While the great bulk of monastic poetry, more especially in the earlier centuries, had

authority. It has likewise been claimed for Bernard of Clugny, but, according to M. Wright, was written by Neckam, at the end of the twelfth or beginning of the thirteenth century. Biogr. Brit. Lit. Anglo-Norman Period, p. 452. Leyser, on the other hand, ascribes it directly to Anselm, p. 373.

1 Migne, tom. 138. Carmen de Monasterio Gemmeticensi.

2 Poësies populaires avant le xii. siècle par Edelstand du Meril, 8vo. Paris, 1843, and see also Muratori, Antiq. Ital. Med. Ævi, tom. iii. dis. 44. Elogium Hermanni Contracti, ab ejus familiari conscriptum, anno 1054.

been written mainly for circulation in the cloisters, there had always existed, though its beginnings are faint and small, a certain portion of it especially intended for circulation among the laity, and this portion is known as the popular poetry of the middle ages. It is impossible almost to describe its nature, for its nature was not only many-sided but universal. It concerned itself with everything. It was devotional, it was satirical,' it was commemorative-no subject and no event came amiss to its comprehensive activity. Religious in its earlier form, rehearsing perhaps a scriptural event, or perhaps taking the form of the hymn, it became rapidly developed, and at the beginning of the eighth century, was recognised as a separate branch of the poetic art, and possessed a particular form of versification.2 Thus the two famous hymns, the 'Apparebit repentina,' and the 'Ad perennis vitæ fontem,' attributed, though erroneously, to S. Augustine, who wrote nothing in metre save his hymn against the Donatists, may be taken as examples of its first phase, which gradually changed and grew, till in the ninth century it was indiscriminately applied to any matter of interest or curiosity. With political or military events, with the death or coronation of a sovereign, with a popular legend or a national hero, it quickly and closely became connected. One ballad laments the death of Charlemagne ; another celebrates the battle of Fontenay* (A.D. 841); a third is sung by the soldiers who are marching to liberate their prince. It is grotesque, likewise, as witness that strange fragment attributed to S. Cyprian, and mentioned by Raban Maur, in which hundreds of scriptural characters are described as invited by God to a rich banquet, and engaged in the most absurd occupations-a fragment of almost Rabelesian oddity. It concerns itself with wild and fantastic imaginations, such as the Vision of Wettinus,' or those of Ansellus or Fulbert it treats of saints, of heroes, of the fall of cities, and of the breaking out of wars. And, still later, it produces those admirable love-songs and drinking-songs, by which at the present day it is chiefly remembered. It forms, indeed, a striking proof of the truth of a remark that has been ventured onnamely, that the whole history of Medieval Latin poetry is the

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1 Such, for instance, were the four hundred hexameters of Aldabaron, addressed to Robert of France. Hist. Lit. de la France, vii. 293, and a rhythmus satiricus on the times of the same monarch. Migne, 151.

2 Du Meril, Poësies populaires Latines antérieures au xiième siècle. Introduction, p. 192.

3 Ibid. p. 245.

4 Ibid. p. 249.

5 Muratori, Antiq. Ital. tom. iii. dis. 40. De rhythmica veterum poes. Louis II., made prisoner at Beneventum, A.D. 871-2,

6 Du Meril, ubi sup. p. 193.


history of its emancipation from theology. Every successive century saw it enlarging its bounds, till, from being the mere amusement of the ecclesiastic and the recluse, it had grown to be almost the mirror of the age, and only succumbed to the rising languages of Europe.

To suppose, however, that the popular element was at this time of paramount importance, would be to fall into a grave mistake. The great bulk of the Latin poetry of this century was theological: the lives of saints still constitute its greatest portion. Of the fifty-four writers enumerated by Leyser, a large majority occupied themselves solely with this branch of their art, and if to these we add the writers of hymns, such as Peter Damian, or Fulbert of Chartres, or Alphanas of Salerno, it will be seen that its character was still religious and devotional. Nevertheless, and it is on this point we would particularly insist, the popular element had largely increased, and was already giving promise of the richness it was subsequently to attain.


The poem of Hermann, as may be judged from its title, possesses but little interest, being merely a wearisome dialogue between the plant and the animal, in which they assert their respective utility. Of greater importance, and indicating a branch of the art hitherto neglected, is the singular poem that bears the title of Walther, with regard to the date of which, however, great uncertainty exists. At the first glance it appears to be an episode of one of the great cycle of poems which compose the Nibelungen Lied, but in reality it is an open and unblushing plagiarism. It borrows, in a word, its characters from the German poem, and supplies them with a different series of adventures. The Etzel of the Nibelungen Lied, as every one knows, stands for Attila: the author of Walther accordingly lays the scene at the court of that monarch. Hagen and Gunther are two of the doomed Nibelungen, and Hagen was formerly a hostage in the hands of Etzel:

Daher ist mir von Hagen auch Alles wohlbekannt.

Zwei edle Kinder wurden ergozen hier im Land.

Er und von Spanien Walther, die wuchsen hier zum Mann,

Heim sandt' ich wieder Hagen; Walther mit Hildegund entrann.3

1 Du Meril, ubi sup. p. 193.

2 'I have no hesitation in asserting that it contains internal evidence that it could not have been written before the end of the ninth century, and is probably attributable to the tenth or beginning of the eleventh.'-Herbert. Attila. p. 481. On the other hand, both Leyser and M. du Meril agree that Ekkehard, a monk of S. Gall, was the author, but differ as to the period at which he lived. Leyser places him about 1040, and M. du Meril somewhat earlier. Herbert is clearly in error when he says: 'It is supposed to have been written by a monk named Walther.' p. 540.

3 Nibelungen Lied, xxviii. 1799.

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In the Latin poem Hagans is a Burgundian hostage, who makes his escape; and Walther is likewise a hostage, who runs off with Hiltgunde. The adventures, however, are different, as will be seen from the following analysis, taken from the notes to Herbert's poem of Attila:-Gibicho, who has an infant son, Gunther, is represented as King of the Francs near the Rhine. Hiltgunde, daughter of Herric King of Burgundy, is betrothed to Walter Prince of Aquitaine. Attila with his Huns having advanced from Hungary against France, Gibicho submits to pay tribute, and gives Hagans as a hostage. Hiltgunde and Walter subse'quently become hostages likewise, and Attila returns to his own 'country. But on the death of Gibicho, his son Gunther refuses 'to pay tribute, and Hagans makes his escape to him. Walter 'is successful in leading the Huns against them, performs other military services, and after refusing the offer of a wife among the 'Huns, proposes to Hiltgunde to make their escape. Attila and 'his court are invited to a banquet, and become intoxicated, and the pair, taking possession of much treasure and the King's 'favourite horse, set out together. Arrived at the Rhine, he pays the ferryman with a fish he had previously caught, which being presented presently to King Gunther's cook is recognised by him to be a foreign one; and inquiry being made, Walter is 'discovered. Gunther, together with Hagen and other warriors, pursue him to deprive him of Attila's treasures, and attack him in a cavern in the Vosges, where he is reposing. They are all 'slain save Gunther and Hagen, who at last fall upon Walter as 'he is endeavouring to retreat, and after a terrible encounter they 'all find themselves more or less mutilated. Walter loses a hand, Gunther a foot, and Hagen an eye; and the former goes 'on his way with his treasures.' The whole poem, then, is clearly written in glorification of a prince of Aquitaine, and the author, well aware of the popularity of the Nibelungen Lied, or rather of the cycle of poems it consists of, together with the Scandinavian myths on the same subjects, appropriates three or four of their distinguishing features. The hero, Walther, is represented as possessing himself of Attila's hostage Hiltgunde, elsewhere described as his wife, of his famous sword Gram, and his no less famous steed Geara, who here appears under the name of Leo; in short, he is invested with most of the attributes of the mythical Etzel. And besides all this, and the want of skill with which the story is managed, the form of the poem is barbarous to the last degree; it is crammed with Germanisms, and in some passages seems to have been a mere translation. Yet these are faults that might readily have been forgiven, had it contained any fragments of the true epic gold. Nevertheless, as an example of the increase of secular poetry, it is well worthy of

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