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Roncesvalles, the feats of Roland are recorded under the name of Roldan el encatador ; and in that of Palmerin de Oliva, or simply Oliva, those of Oliver : for Oliva is the same in Spanish as Olivier is in French. The account of their exploits is in the highest degree monstrous and extravagant, as appears from the judgment passed upon them by the Priest in Don Quixote, when he delivers the Knight's library to the secular arm of the house-keeper, ** Ecceptando à un Bernardo del “ Carpio que anda por ay, Ÿ à otro llamado Roncesval“ les ; que estos en Ilegando a mis manos, an de estar las de la ama, y
dellas en las del fuego sin remission alguna (1).” And of Oliver he says ; “ Oliva le haga luego raxas, y se queme, que aun no
queden della las cenizas (2).” The reasonableness of this sentence may be partly seen from one story in the Bernardo del Carpio, which tells us, that the cleft called. Roldan, to be seen on the summit of an high mountain in the kingdom of Valencia, near the town of Alicant, was made with a single back-stroke of that hero's broad sword. Hence came the proverbial expres. sion of our plain and sensible Ancestors, who were much cooler readers of these extravagances than the Spaniards, of giving one a Rowland for bis Oliver, that is, of matching one imposible lye with another : as, in French, faire le Roland means, to swagger. This driving the Saracens out of France and Spain, was, as we say, the subject of the elder Romances. And the firft that was printed in Spain was the famous Amadis de Gaula, of which the Inquisitor Priest fays : “ segun he oydo dezir, “ este libro fue el primero de Cavallerias que se impri“ miò en Espana, y todos los demás an tomado prin
cipio y origen defte (3) ;” and for which he bumourously condemns it to the fire, como à Dogmatizador de una sečta tan mala. 'When this subject was well exhausted, the affairs of Europe afforded them another of the same nature. For after that the western parts had pretty well cleared themselves of these in hospitable Guests : by the excitements of the Popes, they carried their arms against them into freece and Afa, to support the Byzantine empire, and recover the holy Sepulchre. (1) B. 1. c. 6. (2) Ibid.
This gave birth to a new tribe of Romances, which we may call of the second race or class. And as Amadis de Gaula was at the head of the firft, fo, correspondently to the subject Amadis de Grecian was at the head of the latter. Hence it is, we find, that Trebizonde is, as celebrated in these Romances as Roncesvalles is in the other. It may be worth observing, that the two famous Italian epic poets, Ariosto. and Taso, have borrowed, from each of these classes of old Romances, the scenes and subjects of their several stories : Ariosto choofing the first, the. Saracens in France and Spain ; and Talso, the latder, the Crusade againft them in Apa : Arioflo's hero being Orlando or the French Roland: for as the Spaniards, by one way of transposing the letters, had made it Roldan, so the Italians by another make it. Orland.
The main fubject of these fooleries, as we have said, had its original in Turpin's famous history of Charlemagne and his twelve peers. Nor were the monstrous embelHidhments of enchantments, &c. the invention of the Romancers, but formed upon eastern tales, brought thence by travellers from their crusades and pilgrimages ; which indeed have a caft peculiar to the wild imaginations of the eastern people. We have a proof of this in the travels of Sir J. Maunde ville, whose excessive superstition and credulity, together with an impudent monkish addition to his genuine work, have made his . veracity thought much worse of than it deserved. This voyager, speaking of the isle of Cos, in the Archipelago, tells the following ftory of an enchanted dragon. “ And also a zonge Man, that wiste not of the Ďragoun, went out
of a Schipp; and wente thorghe thé :
And fche turned hire toward him, and asked
izut eil er Hero s bai table tried port hre.
“ hire Limman or Paramour. And fche asked him if " that he were a Knyghte. And he fayde, nay. And " then sche fayde, that he myghte not ben hire Limman, " But sche bad bim gon azen unto his Felowes, and "make him Knyghte, and com azen upon the Morwe, " and sche schold come out of her Cave before him " and thanne come and kyffe hire on the Mowth and “ have no drede. For I schalle do the no maner harm, " alle be it that thou see ine in likeness of a Dragoun. “ For thoughe though fee.me hideouse, and horrible to “Joken onne, I do the to wytene that it is made by “ Enchauntement. For withouten doubte, I am none “ other than thou seeft now, a Woman:; and therefore “ drede the noughte. _And zif thou kysse me, thou “ schalt have all this Tresoure, and be my Lord, and “ Lord also of all that Ife. And he departed, &c.". p. 29, 30. Ed. 1725. Here we see the very spirit of a. Romance-adventure. This honest traveller believed if all, and so, it seems, did the people of the Ifle. And fome Men seyn (says he) that in the-Ile of Lango is zit the Dougbier of Ypocras in forme and lykenelle of a great Dran goun, that is an bundred. Fadme. in. lengibe, as Men fein: For I have not seen. hire. And thei of, the Isles callen birea, Lady of the Land. We are not to think then, these kind of itories, believed by pilgrims and travellers, would have less credit either with the writers or readers of Romances: which humour of the times theres. fore may well account for their birch and favourable reception in the world:
The other monkish historian, who supplied the Ronuancers: with materials, was our Geoffry of Monmoutb. For it is not to be supposed, that these Children of Funcv (as Shakespeare in the place quoted above finely calls them, infinuating that Fancy hath its infancy as well as manbood) should stop in the midst of so extraordinary a. career, or confine themselves within the lists of the terra firmn. From Him therefore the Spanish Roman, cers took the story of the British Aribur, and the Knighıs of his round table, bis wife Gueriver, and his conjurer Merlin. But still it was the same subject, (efsential to books of Chivalry) the Wars of Christians
. against Infidels.. And whether it was by, blunder, or de-s
sign, they changed the Saxons into Saracens. I suspect by design : for Chivalry without a-Saracen was so very lame, and imperfect a thing, that even that wooden: Image, which turned round on an axis, and served the Knights to try their swords, and break their lances upon, was called by the Italians and Spaniards, Saracino, and Sarazino ;, so closely were. these two ideaș connected.
In these old Romances there. was much religious superftition mixed with their other extravagancies ; as appears even from their very, names and titles. The first Romance of Lancelot of the Lake and King Arthum and his Knights, is called the. Hisory of Saint Greaal. This St. Greaal was the famous relick of the holy blond, pretended to be collected into a vessel by Joseph of Arimaihea. So another is called the Kyrie E eison of Montauban, For in those days Deuteronomy and Paralipomenon were fupposed to be the names of holy men. And as they made Saints of their Knights-errant, so they made Knights errant of their tutelary Saints, and each nation advanced its own into the order of Chivalry. Thus every thing in those times being either a Saint or a Deos vil, they never wanted for the marvellous. In the old. Romance of Lancelot of. ibe Lake, we have the doctrine, and discipline:of the Church as formally delivered as in, Bellarmine hiinfelf. “ La confession (lays the preacher)
ne vaut rien, fi le cæur n'est repentant ; & fi tu es “ moult et eloigné de l'amour de noftre Seigneur, tu
ne peus estre raccordé fi non par trois choies : premierement
la confession de bouche; secondeinent par une contrition de cœur, tiercement, par peine de
ceur, & par oeuvre d'aumône & charité Telle este "la droite voye d'aimer Dieu. Or va & fi te confeffe en cette maniere & recois la discipline des mains de
tes confesseurs,,car c'est le signe de merite. -Or " mande le roy ses evesques, dont grande partie avoit en l'oft, & vinrent tous en la chapelle. Le roy
vint ". devant eux tout nud en pleurant, & tenant son plein “ de menuis verges, fi. les jetta devant eux, & leur dit
en soupirant, qu'ils priffent de luy vengeance, car je “ fuis le plus vil pecheur, &c.-Apres prinst discipline 6. & d'eux & moult doucement la receut.” Hence we :
find the divinity lectures of Don Quixote and the penance of his Squire, are both of them in the ritual of Chivalry. Lastly, we find the Knight-errant, after much turmoil to himself and disturbance to the world, frequently ended his course, like Charles Vi of Spain, in a Mona tery; or turn'd Hermit, and became a Saint in good earnest. And this again will let us into the spirit of those Dialogues between Sanchi and his master, where it is gravely debated whether he should not turn Saint or Archbishop.
There were several caufes of this strange jumble of nonsense and religion. As first, the nature of the subject, which was a religious War or Crusade : 2diy, The quality of the first Writers, who were religious Men And 3dly, The end in writing many of them, which was to carry on a religious purpose. We learn, that Clement V. interdicted fufts and Tournaments, because he understood they had much hindered the Crusade decreed in the Council of Vienna. "" Torneamenta ipfa & “ Haftiladia five Juxtas in regnis Francia, Angliæ, & “ Almanniæ, & aliis nonnullis provinciis, in quibus ea “ consuevere frequentiùs exerceri, specialiter interdixit." Extrav. de Torneamentis C. unic. tem. Ed. I. Religious men, I conceive, therefore, might think to forward the design of the Crusades by turning the fondness for Tilts and Tournaments into that channel. Hence we fee the books of Knight-errantry so full of solemn Justs and Tournaments held at Trebizonde, Bizance, Tripoly, &c. Which wife project, I apprehend, it was Cervantes's intention to ridicule, where he makes his Knight propose it as the beft means of subduing the Turk, to assemble all the Knights-errant together by Proclamation *
* See Part II. lib. v. c. 1.