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particular advantages that may be derived from an attentive perufal of the writings of the most celebrated anatomifts, and referring to the different editions of their works.
In fo extenfive an undertaking it is abfolutely impoffible to avoid errors; and omiffions are unavoidable: the wonder is, that there are so few in the work before us, which, befide its obvious uses to anatomical and phyfiological ftudents, may ferve as a striking example to readers of every clafs, and students of every science, of the wonderful effects that may be produced by perfevering induftry and application.
AR T. XIV.
Lettre a l'Auteur Anonyme, &c.-Letter to the anonymous Author of two pretended Extracts inferted in the Journal Des Sçavans, in the Months of November and December 1773, against the general Plan and Argument of the Monde Primitif, &c. of M. Court de Gebelin. 4to. Pamphlet, 66 pages. Paris. 1774.
HIS tract was occafioned by the cenfure paffed by the French Reviewers on M. Gebelin's Primitive World analyfed. He complains that, in their criticism, they have been too precipitate; too inattentive to candour. He lays down certain rules for the conduct of literary journalists, for which he is intitled to our thanks; more particularly as there is implied in thofe rules the strongest compliment to ourselves; for they are, one and all of them, exemplified in our treatment of his works*. As to the difpute between M. Gebelin and our brother journalifts, fhould we take upon us to decide it, we might appear to affect the jurifdiction of a higher court. We are more ambitious of equity than of fuperiority.
* See the third article of this Appendix, and also our two preceding Appendixes.
AR T. XV.
Hiftoire Litteraire des Troubadours, &c.-The Literary Hiftory of the Troubadours, containing their Lives, Extracts from their Works, and several Particulars concerning the Manners, Customs, and History of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries. 12mo. 3 Vols. Paris. 1774.
TH HE names of M. de Sainte Palaie and Abbé Millot, are well known in the republic of letters; the former of these ingenious and able writers, at great expence, and with immense Jabour, collected materials for the curious work now before us, but did not live to methodize and prepare them for the prefs: that task was referved for Abbé Millot, and there are few, very few writers of the prefent age, who, in our opinion, are better qualified for fuch an undertaking. His tafte, his judgment, his love of virtue and of mankind, the elegance of his ftyle, and his
enlarged and liberal views are well known to the Public. In an advertisement prefixed to the work, he gives an account, to which we refer our Readers, of M, de Sainte Palaie's amazing industry in collecting materials for this Literary History of the Troubadours, and mentions, with great modefty, and in a manner that conveys a very favourable idea of his heart as well as of his genius, his own fhare in this hiftory, and his motives for undertaking it. He has likewife given a preliminary difcourfe, part of which we cannot deny ourfelves the pleafure of laying before our Readers.
Very little, fays he, is known concerning the Troubadours, excepting their name; even the generality of men of letters form a very imperfect idea of them. They are fatisfied with knowing that thefe ancient Provençal poets flourished in the -twelfth century, when Europe was funk in ignorance and barbarifm; that they vifited the courts of princes and great men, the only theatres where their talents could be difplayed; that they were favourably received in these courts, especially by the Jadies, to whom they confecrated their homage and their fong; in a word, that they were in France the fathers of modern poetry. But they are generally looked upon as mere adventurers as writers utterly void of knowledge or tafte, whose infipid gallantry deferves to be buried in eternal oblivion, and whose works have nothing interefting, unless it be for those Jovers of antiquity, who pass their lives uselessly in fcraping off the ruft from the wretched Gothic monuments of ancient times.
The riches of our literature, abundantly fufficient to give univerfal fatisfaction, and to render ús indifferent to lefs, agreeable objects, contributed to the fupport of this prejudice. The lives of the Troubadours by Noftradamus, is a work equally dry and fuperficial. The greateft part of thefe poets are not fo much as mentioned in it. Befides, it is full of fables and grofs errors; contains only a few ill-digefted facts, and is utterly unfatisfactory in point of history and criticism.
The ground-work, however, was valuable. Sovereigns, grandees, knights, illuftrious ladies, monks, men of every condition, libertines and devotees, enthufiafts in love or superstition, panegyrifts and fatirifts, moralifts and debauchees, &c.. formed the catalogue of the Troubadours. Many of them had memorable adventures, and many of them had a fhare in the principal events of the age they lived in, and celebrated them in their fongs, in a very interesting manner. Some of them exprefs all the raptures of love; others, all the tranfports of martial rage and fury; fome are the trumpeters of fanaticism, others paint the manners, and inveigh against the vices and diforders of the times; nay, there are those who even treat of phi004 lofophy.
lofophy. Had Noftradamus only been conversant with part of M. de Sainte Palaie's manufcripts, mean as his talents were, he would at least have left us an inftructive and curious work,
I propose, in this discourse, not to raise the importance of the fubject, but to prefent it in fuch a general point of view, as shall make it more fully and clearly understood. What was poetry before nations emerged from their original state of fimplicity? What progrefs had it made in the times of the Troubadours? What idea ought we to form of the manners of that age, and especially of that famous gallantry which was, in a manner, the life of fociety, and which inceffantly inspired the Troubadours? What were the great events that roused their genius, and furnished materials for their compofitions? What are the principal characters of their feveral works? What influence had they, what influence had their language, upon modern literature? And lastly, what are the fources from which their history is drawn?-All these questions appear to me to
merit fome examination.
These are curious questions, and would the bounds of our Appendix admit of it, we fhould have no occafion to apologize to our Readers for the length of the article, were we to infert what the ingenious Author fays on each of them; but we must content ourselves with giving a part instead of the whole.
After fhewing briefly how poetry takes its rife, among barbarians, nay even among favages, from the fruitful energy of nature, he goes on as follows:
The tranfition from a ftate of ftupidity and barbarism to the cultivation of manners, of reafon, and of talents, is one of the fineft views that the hiftory of the human fpecies prefents to the eye of a curious obferver. Every thing ferments in the chaos for a kind of new creation, and the objects which come out of it, though very far from perfection, have an original beauty, almost as worthy of attention as perfection itself.
After a long feries of evils, into which error on the one hand, and anarchy on the other, had plunged the inhabitants of Europe, the ignorance of the tenth century, accompanied with the ravages of a deluge of robbers, crowned their calamities, and reduced them to a ftate of downright ftupidity. In the following century, however, literature began to revive, and the minds of men were roufed from a fatal torpor. The pontificate of Gregory the Seventh, the commotions he excited, the violent contest between the priesthood and the empire, which was continued by his fucceffors, produced powerful interefts, and gave additional vigour and activity, while chivalry opened a career of heroifm, in which fome focial virtues were displayed in the midst of military atchievements.
To thefe different caufes may be added the crufades, which took their rife at the clofe of the fame century. A strange en
thufiafm threw down the barriers by which nations were feparated from each other; united them for the purpose of religious conquests, that is, conquefts confecrated by a religious pretext; transported them into the country which gave birth to a Phidias and a Homer; and made them breathe the air of voluptuous Afia. What a number of new fenfations, new ideas, and new taftes fprung from this fource? Wonderful to relate! The bloody and ftupid devotion of the crufades gave birth to the fine arts, made the mufes triumph, and produced thofe elegant pleafures which naturally arife from their ingenious productions.
On this occafion, those poets who are known by the name of Troubadours became very numerous. The example of William the ninth, Count of Poitou and Duke of Aquitain, (the first Troubadour we know of) must alone have roufed their genius and excited their emulation. Several other princes or great barons became their models and their protectors. Courts, which in those times were almoft as numerous as caftles, ftrove which should have the greatest number of them; and there they found fortune, pleasure, and, what is ftill more flattering, refpect and confideration. The ladies, whofe charms and whofe merit they celebrated, thofe terrestrial divinities of chivalry, received them with a gracious generofity, nay fometimes with the tenderness of love. What encouragement for perfons infpired by the charms of novelty, and prompted by a natural propenfity, thall I fay, for pleasure or for study!
Accordingly, we see a spirit of emulation among these poets. Some expreffed themfelves with more elegance and delicacy; others with more ftrength and precifion. Some perfected the mechanical parts of verfe; others created new fpecies of poetry. At one time, the graces gave the tone to fentiment; at another, fiction and dialogue feafoned morality. Tafte was no longer the flave, if I may fo exprefs myself, of a low and creeping routine; it followed the progrefs of ideas, and embracing a variety of objects till then unknown, diverfified the fpecies of compofition, which a barren uniformity had rendered infipid.
But tafte ftill continued at a great diftance from real perfection, which it never attains but by flow degrees, in proportion as fociety becomes more knowing and more civilized, It even found an obftacle in the rage and madness which multiplied poets, and pretenders to poetical rewards. A multitude of men with scarce any talents, condemned to obscurity both by nature and fortune, threw themselves into a career, where they had fuch alluring profpects. The Tongleurs, whose bufinefs it was to fing the verses of the Troubadours, afpired to the advantages of both profeffions; the greateft part of the Troubadours themselves had scarce any tincture of letters; and fome of them, too much diftinguished by their rank, became dangerous models, when intereft or flattery fet a value upon works of genius.
nius. Several of them, in order to diftinguish themselves in the crowd, affected painful and laborious faults whieh excited admiration ;-a combination of verses and rhimes fufficient to extinguish the fire of genius, and an obfcurity of ftyle, wherein every thing appeared enigmatical, and where it was not worth while to fearch for a meaning. Thus the progrefs of tafte, though perceptible in many refpects, was obftructed not only by the ignorance and rufticity which prevailed in thofe times, but by a kind of corruption which was produced by the culti vation of an art, the principles of which were unknown.
The works of the Troubadours are however very valuable, as they paint the manners of the times in a very natural manner, and much better than any other monument of thofe ages. Our ancient chronicle-mongers, brought up in darkness and with the prejudices of the cloifter, were only capable, in general, of giving a long and tedious narrative of public facts mixed with popular reports, and frequently with ridiculous legends, they debafed hiftory; they did not know indeed what hiftory was. But the poets were the painters of fociety. What they faw, what they heard, the cuftoms, manners, prevailing opinions, paffions variously modified, became, without their intending to inftruct pofterity, the ground work and ornament of their pieces. Among the ancients, Homer, in this refpect, supplies the want of hiftorical monuments, and even his fictions lead us to the knowledge of truths, which, were it not for him, would be buried in eternal oblivion. The Troubadours have a kind of advantage over him; for their poems, more confined to common life and cotemporary objects, form more natural pictures, and lead to more certain confequences.
We there fee that ardent and impetuous bravery, which still characterized the nation; which pursued combats with as much eagerness as pleafures, and which made the right of the fword the first right of nature. We there fee that prodigality of the grandees, which was rendered an effential virtue of their rank and ftation, which was far from being delicate or fcrupulous about the means of acquiring or the manner of fquandering, and which did not blush to accumulate plunder in order to deck itfelf with a pernicious and ruinous oftentation. We there fee that spirit of independence which occafioned and continued the diforders of anarchy, fometimes ftooping from motives of inte. reft, to the humble conduct of a courtier, but always ready to exert itself, in the most audacious manner, whenever a favourable opportunity prefented itself. We there fee that masculine, that ruftic opennefs, which expreffes its fentiments both of per fons and things, without any kind of reftraint; which cenfures princes and private perfons with equal freedom, without any idea of decency, and ftill lefs of modern politenefs. We there fee blind fuperftition, feeding upon folly and abfurdity; facris