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his works, that he encountered the usual fate of genius, - poverty and disappointment; and his tomb, in our Lady's church in the village of Eschenburg, leads to the conjecture, that, before his death, he had retired to the ancient patrimony of his family.
The“ Geste” of King Rother connects itself both with the “ Heldenbuch" and the Cycle of Charlemaine : as he is represented as the father of Pepio. This poem, and a fragment of the history of the expeditions of the French monarch against the Saracens, are the earliest specimens now extant of the German metrical romance. But King Arthur and his knights soon divided the empire of fiction with “Roland and Oliver,” and the national heroes of the Garden of Roses; and the fame which Eschenbach enjoyed is principally due to the romantic epics-for they deserve the name—which he composed on the subject of the Saint Greal. Those who are versed in Northern literature would do well to enquire whether the British fictions may not have had some influence on those of Scandinavia; particularly as the Normans retained their language, and kept up their connections with the North, long after they had settled in Neustria. In the Wilkina Saga
. we find a king" Artus of Bertingaland” (Britany, or perhaps Britain, which is also frequently named in the Kæmpe-viser), whose daughter Hilda was so intent upon her prayers, that the adventurous Hubert was unable to get a sight of her countenance, until she looked off her book to wonder at two mice running up the church-wall, which her lover had decorated with gold and silver. After the death of Artus, his kingdom was usurped by King Ilsung; but his two sons escaped to the dominions of Attila, who bestowed
Brandinaberg" upon “Jarl Iron” the eldest, and the husband of the wary Isold; and “ Tyra near the Rhine" upon Apollonius, who married the daughter of King Solomon of Frankarika, which generally signifies France ; though M. von der Hagen supposes that it is used in this instance for Franconia. We cannot pretend to clear up this whimsical confusion of well known names; and shall content ourselves with remarking, that a King Solomon appears in the annals of Britany nearly in the age of Attila; and that the name of Apollonius of Tyre may have been long naturalised in the North, since the Greek romance was translated into the Anglo-Saxon at a very early period.
The Germans appear to have become acquainted with the metrical romance of the Round Table, nearly as soon as they assumed their present form. "But it is singular that Eschenbach accuses Chrestien de Troyes, the author of Percival, of having " falsified the tale," which had been “truly told by Master Kyot of Provence.” The German commentators assume that the poem thus alluded to was written in the Provençal dialect; but Le Grand has shown, that the existence of such romances amongst that people is exceedingly problematical ; and we ralher suspect that Eschenbach is praising a work, now probably lost, of Guiot de Provins, whose salirical “ bible” shows that he was a writer of no ordinary talent. There are few subjects beller calculated for romantic poetry than the mystic Greal, when, as in the Mort Arthur, it enters, preceded by peals of thunder, borne by invisible hands, “filling the hall with sweet odours," and illumined by beams “seven limes brighter than the light of day.” Eschenbach has made the Saint Greal the central point, if the expression may be allowed, of an innumerable variety of adventures, which he has combined, like Ariosto, in artful perplexity, in the poems of Percival and Titurel. The Greal is intrusted to Titurel, the son of Titurison and Elizabeth of Arragon ;-angels led him to
Mont-Salvatz, in the midst of a dreary forest near Salvatierra in Gallicia ; and the model of the magnificent temple which is to contain the holy vessel is framed by celestial hands. The Greal is at length conveyed to India, where it rests in the dominions of Prester John, far out of the reach of the profane, and under the guardianship of a chosen band of RoundTable chivalry. The heathen Flegetanis is quoted as the author of the tale, which Kyot,“ well learned in the heathen longues," found written al Toledo. At first this appears like the veracious references to the sage Cid Hamet Benengeli; but the poems of Eschenbach certainly abound in orientalisms, which the original authors probably obtained from the Spanish Moors; and some of which, for we could easily add to the number, have been ably pointed out by Görres.
The German versions of Iwain and Gawain, and of Sir Tristrem, are interesting, from their relation to the antiquities of this country. Iwain and Gawain was brought to Germany by a knight (Sir Hartmann of Awe) who had long resided in England, where he read the story in the French books."
“ Der (Hartmann) bracht dise mere,
Zu Tulsch als ich han vernommen
The Tristan of Gotfried of Strasburg, who lived in the early part of the 13th century, throws fresh obscurity on an enquiry which is already sufficiently perplexing. It will be recollected, that, according to Mr. Scotl's hypothesis, Thomas of Ercildoun must have composed his poem about the year 1250, and that he is identified with the “Tomas” whose authority is appealed to in the ancient French fragment. But Gölfried, who, according to the accounts which are given of him, must have written some years before the date assigned by Mr. Scott to the Rhymer's poem, gives a similar preference to the tale of “ Thomas of Briltanie,” who read the lives of the kings (Iantherren) in the British books.
•“ Si ne sprachen in der rihti night
Alse Thomas von Britanie giht,
The poem was concluded, Gotfried having left it unfinished, by Henry of Vriberg, who calls the original, a poem written by Thomas in the " Lombard tongue," Lampartischerzunge, an expression to which it is not easy to asfix a definite meaning. A second continuation was written by Ulric of Thürheim, and a third by an unknown writer, according to whom, “the adventure was first composed by Eylhart of Hobergin.” This name is variously corrupted, and neither the age nor the country of the person whom it designates has been ascertained. All that is known is, that he was a contemporary of “Thomas;" for in an ancient note at the head of the MS. of Gölfried's Tristrem, in the royal library at Munich (which is repeated in substance in the printed prosaic romance), it is stated that “the history was first written by Tohmnas of Brittania, and that he lent the book to one
• The whole passage, which afforos much room for speculation, is too long for insertion. Since writing the above, the “ Wiener Allgemeine Liiteratur Zeilung," for June last, has reached us. li contains a review of Mr. Scott's edition of Sir Tristrem ; and the subject is there fulls discussed.
Dilhart of Oberet, who afterwards put it into rhyme." From these discordant authorities, we can only collect the fact of the wide diffusion of the fame of " Thomas,” whoever he was. It may not be irrelevant to add, that Sir Thomas Malory follows his namesake of Ercildoun much closer than the printed French romance, as the Mort Arthur has the permutation of Sir Tristrem's name, to which there is no allusion whatever in the latter.
The Swabian era produced upwards of two hundred poets, many of whom are deserving our attention. But, for the present, we shall imitate the prudent conduct of the Persian author of the Shah Nameh, who consoles his readers, in every page, by telling them that he has omitted many particulars, “lest they should get the headach :” and we shall abridge their labour as well as our own, by merely observing, that in the dawning of literature, the Germans fully kept pace with the rest of Europe. Under Rudolph of Hapsburg (1273) and his successors, they began to lose ground; and the brilliancy which had distinguished the preceding era gradually died away. The Western and Southern states of Europe, from England round to Sicily, in which polite literature was rapidly advancing, were in a state of uninterrupted intercourse with each other, occasioned sometimes by the friendship of their rulers, and just as often by their dissensions. But the members of the empire became estranged from this portion of the European commonwealth, and attached themselves, in preference, to their neighbours of Sclavonian and Tartar race, to Hungary and Bohemia and Poland and their dependencies, which had now acquired stability and opulence. Alliances were multiplied with these countries; some of them became incorporated in the Empire, and others passed under the dominion of German princes. But this intercourse with the semi-barbarous descendants of Lech, Czech, and Maysor, could neither improve the taste of the Germans, nor excite their emulation.
In the Swabian age, gnomic poetry had not been disregarded ; and those who are already blessed with patience may no doubt acquire other graces from the perusal of Master Treigedank, who has left us an awful string of moral aphorisms. The admonitions given by King Tyrol of Scotland to his son King Fridebant are also preserved in a poem of some merit. Schiller, the learned editor, with great simplicity, expresses his surprise on finding that this worthy monarch is omitted by Boëthius and Buchanan. The writer, who has given weight to his doctrine by placing it in the mouth of King Tyrol, has been imitated by another poet, who ascribes his lessons of justice and modesty to Winsbeke and Winsbekin, an exemplary couple, who lived in the time of Barbarossa. When the Germans were cut off from the influence of foreign literature, this characteristic feature of their poelry, which had hitherto appeared in a subordinate light, now became more decidedly predominant. Romantic poetry, in general, assumed a didactic cast; and the place of fancy and invention was supplied by sober commonplace and moralily.
It is difficult to establish a definite boundary for the different periods of literary history; they melt into each other like the colours of the rainbow. In Conrad of Würtzburg, who flourished towards the conclusion of the thirteenth century, we find the glow of better days, united to some of the peculiarities of the Master-singers” of Augsburg and Nurenberg. "The tale of Troy divine” forms the subject of Conrad's principal work. It is borrowed, though with such alteration as to entitle it to be considered an
" Thenne he answered, I am of the countree of Lyones, and my name is Sir Tramtryst, that thus was wounded in a batayll as I fought for a ladye's ryght."-M. Arthur, b.7.c. 6.
original composition, from some of the romanesque translations of the legendlike narrations of Dares Phrygius and Dictys Cretensis. He compares the story to an “endless flood”—and with reason, according to his method of amplifying it; as the portion which has been printed, and which contains upwards of twenty-five thousand verses, just brings it down to the sacrifice of Iphigenia. The “Trojanisches Krieg" has the customary anachronismis of the middle ages; the half-naked heroes of Greece are clad in plate amour; and the deities of Olympus descend like the gaudy pageants of a Flemish Kermess : but passages of great beauty may be selected from it. The infant Paris, for instance, is described as being delighted with his image reflected in the broad shining glaive of the knight whom Priam has charged with his destruction, and as smiling so sweetly" on the murderers, as to unman them for the completion of their errand. Conrad is ever complaining of the downfall of knightly virtue, and the apathy of the great, who had ceased to cultivate poetry themselves, and left it unpatronised in others; yet he indignantly exclaims, “he cares not for their gifts—his tongue shall not be silent, since the art itself will reward him;-he will continue his song, like the nightingale—she who sings for her own sake; hidden in the woods, her notes assuage her cares, nor does she heed whether any stranger listens to the strain.” In the same spirit, his allegorical poem, entitled “The Complaint of Art," introduces the genius of poetry, pallid, poverty-struck, and scarcely covered by a tattered robe of grass-green “samito," preferring her complaints before the throne of justice. The versification of this little poem equals the best productions of modern Germany. Conrad's poem in praise of the Virgin, and which bears the apparently incongruous title of “Die Goldene Schmiede,” has lately been published by M. Grimm; it is a fluent rhapsody, in which earth and heaven are ransacked to furnish praises for his patroness.
When Conrad of Würtzburg vented his complaints, a few princes and high-born lords, amongst whom Otto the Marquis of Brandenburg, and the Count of Leiningen, may be named as the most distinguished, still continued to imitate the style of the Swabian poets : but they had no successors, The art expired amongst the nobility; and the scene was suddenly changed. We must now quit the grey battlements and lofty towers of the mountain fortress, and direct our way to the opulent and industrious city, whose fillagree steeples and painted roofs rise on each other in picturesque confusion. In her new dwelling, the Muse was compelled to abandon the themes in which she had hitherto delighted. The witchery of romantic adventure awakened no kindred sensation in the breast of the formal prevost or the drowsy burgher. The prowess of Dieterich, in evading the blows of the knotty club of the tremendous Siegenot, was lost, when detailed to those whose notions of a giant were modelled upon the wooden Rowland which stared with immovable ferocity in front of the stadthouse, or the clumsy pasteboard “Reus” which had paraded through the streets on last Corpus-Christi day: and Sir Tristrem's skill in the noble science of the chase would have been but lightly esteemed, we suspect, unless the “hart of Ten," duly “broken and undone,” was actually served up at table in the savoury form of a venison pasty. Even the most tender portions of romance became equally exceptionable. In the country, the word of fear" is heard from every tree only in the merry spring-tide; but in the warm almosphere of the town, the nole of the malicious songster resounds from January to December. There the courtly complaisance of an Yseult or a Geneura might have excited many an awkward whisper; and many a furred cap would have sat uneasy on the civic brow, had the name of Horny Siegfried dropped from the lips of the heedless minstrel. Thus restricted, the chief recommendation of verse consisted in its being a fit medium for “proffittable ensamples" and discreet advice; and although lighter subjects were not wholly excluded, yet they were sure to be treated with becoming soberness and gravity.
Henry of Meissen, who, like our moral Gower, went
" the myddell way,
was afterwards considered by the “Master-singers ” as the founder of their schools. This writer, a doctor of theology, and a canon of the cathedral of Mentz, obtained the surname of “Frauenlob Praise-the-ladies,” from the tenour of his poems. His admiration, however, of the fair was perfectly Platonic-his contemplative poetry is only warmed by mystical devotion ; and, in addressing the Virgin Mary, he considers the whole sex as ennobled by the rays which dart from its deified representative. His praises, however, such as they were, seem to have been singularly agreeable to the women of Menlz. We know not what rewards their gratitude bestowed upon him in his lifetime; but they gave an extraordinary demonstration of it at his funeral. “On the eve of St. Andrew, in the year 1318," we read in the old chronicle of Albert of Strasburgh, “Henry, surnamed * Frauenlob,' was buried at Mentz, in the parvis of the great church near unto the stairs, with marvellous solemnity. His corpse was carried by women from his dwelling-house unto the place of burial; and loudly did they moan and bewail his death, on account of the infinite praises which he had bestowed on womankind in his poetry.' And the chronicle then adds, that “so much good wine was poured into the grave, that il overflowed with the libations ;"-a strange and almost heathen ceremony adopted by these disconsolate mourners! Frauenlob had an active competitor in the person of Master Bartholomew Regenbogen, by whom he was bilterly attacked. Regenbogen himself informs us, that he was once“a smith," and “earned his bread right pitifully on the hard anvil.” He did not improve his worldly circumstances by taking to his new calling; yet he remained true to it, notwithstanding he inveighs loudly against the avarice of his patrons, and occasionally threatens that he will return again to his hammer.
New metrical romances were no longer composed, although some of the more ancient favourites, particularly those which now form the “ Heldenbuch,” were re-wrilten about this time, and the diction altered so as to make them more generally intelligible. The love of fiction look another turn, and produced what may be termed the mixed romance, in which the biography of distinguished persons of no remote age was strangely disguised by arbitrary inventions, in the manner of the metrical life of Richard Cour de Lion. A fanciful poem of this description, “The Life of Duke Ernest of Bavaria,” has been attributed, but without adequale proof, lo Henry of Veldeck. It has been noticed, that it has been imilaled in the second part of the romance of Huon de Bourdeaux. Duke Ernesl is of an ancient date; but the fashion did not spread until the times of which we are now speaking, in which many works of this nature originated. Conrad of Würtzburg wrote a poetical history of the Duke of Austria's expedition against the