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tiquity. The good old Villehardouin has something of the engaging naïveté, something of the romantic curiosity, of Herodotus. And in spite of the sobriety and dryness of his writing, he can, at moments, bring a sense of colour and movement into his words. His description of the great fleet of the crusaders, starting from Corfu, has this fine sentence: “Et le jour fut clair et beau: et le vent doux et bon. Et ils laissèrent aller les voiles au vent. His account of the spectacle of Constantinople, when it appeared for the first time to the astonished eyes of the Christian nobles, is well known: “Ils ne pouvaient croire que si riche ville pût être au monde, quand ils virent ces hauts murs et ces riches tours dont elle était close tout autour à la ronde, et ces riches palais et ces hautes églises. . . Et sachez qu'il n'y eut si hardi à qui la chair ne frémit; et ce ne fut une merveille; car jamais si grande affaire ne fut entreprise de nulles gens, depuis que le monde fut créé.” Who does not feel at such words as these, across the ages, the thrill of the old adventure!
A higher level of interest and significance is reached by JOINVILLE in his Vie de Saint Louis, written towards the close of the century. The fascination of the book lies in its
human qualities. Joinville narrates, in the easy flowing tone of familiar conversation, his reminiscences of the good king in whose service he had spent the active years of his life, and whose memory he held in adoration. The deeds, the words, the noble sentiments, the saintly devotion of Louis—these things he relates with a charming and ingenuous sympathy, yet with a perfect freedom and an absolute veracity. Nor is it only the character of his master that Joinville has brought into his pages; his book is as much a selfrevelation as a biography. Unlike Villehardouin, whose chronicle shows hardly a trace of personal feeling, Joinville speaks of himself unceasingly, and has impressed his work indelibly with the mark of his own individuality. Much of its charm depends upon the contrast which he thus almost unconsciously reveals between himself and his master-the vivacious, common-sense, eminently human nobleman, and the grave, elevated, idealising king. In their conversations, recounted with such detail and such relish by Joinville, the whole force of this contrast becomes delightfully apparent. One seems to see in them, compressed and symbolised in the characters of these two friends, the conflicting qualities of sense and spirit, of worldliness and self-immolation, of the most shrewd and literal perspicacity and the most visionary exaltation, which make up the singular antithesis of the Middle Ages.
A contrast no less complete, though of a different nature, is to be found in the most important poetical work of the thirteenth century-Le Roman de la Rose. The first part of this curious poem was composed by GUILLAUME DE LORRIS, a young scholar who wrote for that aristocratic public which, in the previous generation, had been fascinated by the courtly romances of Chrétien de Troyes. Inspired partly by that writer, and partly by Ovid, it was the aim of Lorris to produce an Art of Love, brought up to date, and adapted to the tastes of his aristocratic audience, with all the elaborate paraphernalia of learned disquisition and formal gallantry which was then the mode. The poem, cast in the form of an intricate allegory, is of significance chiefly on account of its immense popularity, and for its being the fountain-head of a school of allegorical poetry which flourished for many centuries in France. Lorris died before he had finished his work, which, however, was destined to be completed in a singular manner. Forty years later, another young scholar, JEAN DE MEUNG, added to the 4000 lines which Lorris had left no fewer than 18,000 of his own. This vast addition was not only quite out of proportion but also quite out of tone with the original work. Jean de Meung abandoned entirely the refined and aristocratic atmosphere of his predecessor, and wrote with all the realism and coarseness Jof the middle class of that day. Lorris's vapid allegory faded into insignificance, becoming a mere peg for a huge mass of extraordinarily varied discourse. The whole of the scholastic learning of the Middle Ages is poured in a confused stream through this remarkable and deeply interesting work. Nor is it merely as a repository of medieval erudition that Jean de Meung's poem deserves attention; for it is easy to perceive in it an intellectual tendency far in advance of its agea spirit which, however trammelled by antiquated conventions, yet claims kinship with that of Rabelais, or even that of Voltaire. Jean de Meung was not a great artist; he wrote without distinction, and without sense of form; it is his bold and voluminous thought that gives him a high place in French literature. In virtue alike of his popularisation of an encyclopædic store of knowledge and of his underlying doctrine—the worship of Na
ture-he ranks as a true forerunner of the great movement of the Renaissance.
The intellectual stirring, which seemed to be foreshadowed by the second part of the Roman de la Rose, came to nothing. The disasters and confusion of the Hundred Years' War left France with very little energy either for art or speculation; the horrors of a civil war followed; and thus the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries are perhaps the emptiest in the annals of her literature. In the fourteenth century one great writer embodied the character of the time. FROISSART has filled his splendid pages with “the pomp and circumstance of glorious war. Though he spent many years and a large part of his fortune in the collection of materials for his history of the wars between France and England, it is not as an historian that he is now remembered; it is as a writer of magnificent prose. His Chroniques, devoid of any profundity of insight, any true grasp of the movements of the age, have rarely been paralleled in the brilliance and animation of their descriptions, the vigour of their character-drawing, the flowing picturesqueness of their style. They unroll
themselves like some long tapestry, gorgeously inwoven with scenes of adventure and chivalry, with flags and