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After this state of Dr. W.'s hypothesis, one must be curious to see what he himself has offered in proof of it. Upon the two first positions he says not one word : I suppose
he intended that they should be received as axioms. He begins his illustration of his third position, by repeating it (with a little change of terms, for a reason which will appear), “ Indeed the wars of the Christians against the Pagans were the general subject of the romances of chivalry. They all seem to have had their ground-work in two fabulous monkish historians; the one, who, under the name of Turpin, archbishop of Rhcims, wrote The History and Achievements of Charlemagne and his Twelve Peers ;--the other, our Geoffry of Monmouth.” Here we see the reason for changing the terms of crusades and Saracens into wars and Pagans ; for, though the expedition of Charles into Spain, as related by the Pseudo-Turpin, might be called a crusade against the Saracens, yet, unluckily, our Geoffry has nothing like a crusade, nor a single Saracen in his whole history; which indeed ends before Mahomet was born. I must observe too, that the speaking of Turpin's history under the title of “ The History of the Achievments of Charlemagne and his Twelve Peers,” is inaccurate and unscholarlike, as the fiction of a limited number of twelve peers is of a much later date than that history.
However, the ground-work of the romances of chivalry being thus marked out and determined, one might naturally expect soine account of the first builders and their edifices; but instead of that, we
have a digression upon Oliver and Roland, in which an attempt is made to say something of these two famous characters, not from the old romances, but from Shakspere and Don Quixote, and some modern Spanish romances. My learned friend, the dean of Carlisle, has taken notice of the strange mistake of Dr. W. in supposing that the feats of Oliver were recorded under the name of Palmerin de Oliva ; a mistake, into which no one could have fallen, who had read the first page of the book. And I very much suspect that there is a mistake, though of less magnitude, in the assertion, that “ in the Spanish romance of Bernardo del Carpio ; and in that of Roncesvalles, the feats of Roland are recorded under the name of Role dan el Encantador.“ Dr. W.'s authority for this assertion was; I apprehend, the following passage of Cervantes, in the first chapter of Don Quixote: “ Mejor estava con Bernardo del Carpio porque en Roncesvalles avia muerto à Roldan el Encantado, valiendose de la industria de Hercules, quando ahogo à Anteon el hijo de la Tierra entre los braços: 2 Where it is observable, that Cervantes does not appear to speak of more than one romance; he calls Roldan el encantado, and not el encantador : and moreover the word encantado is not to be understood as an addition to Roldan's name, but merely as a participle expressing that he was enchanted, or made invulnerable by enchantment.
But this is a small matter, And perhaps encantador may be an error of the press for encantado. From this digression Dr. W. returns to the subject of the
ofd romances in the following manner :
- This driving the Saracens out of France and Spain, was, aś we saj, the subje&t of the elder romances. And the first that was printed in Spain was the famous Amadis de Gaula." According to all common rules of construction, I think the latter sentence must be understood to imply, that Amadis de Gaula was one of the elder romances, and that the subject of it was the driving of the Saracens out of France or Spain; whereas, for the reasons already given, Amadis, in comparison with many other romanceś; must be considered as a very modern one ; and the subject of it has not the least connection with any driving of the Saracens whatsoever.-But what fol. lows is still more extraordinary. " 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 inhospia table guests : by the excitements of the popés, they carried their 'arms against them into Greece and Asia, to support the Byzantine empire, and recover the holy sepulchre. 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 first, so, correspondently to the subject; Amadis de Græcia was at the head of the latter."-It is impossible, I apprehend, to refer this subject to any antecedent but that in the paragraph läst quoted, viz. the driving of the Saracens out of France and Spain. So that, according to one part of the hypothesis here laid down, the subject of the driving of the Saracenis out of France and Spain, was
well exhausted by the old romances (with Amadis de Gaula at the head of them) before the Crusades; the first of which is generally placed in the year 1095: and, according to the latter part, the Crusades happened in the interval between Amadis de Gaula, and Amadis de Græcia; a space of twenty, thirty, or at most fifty years, to be reckoned backwards from the year 1532, in which year an edition of Amadis de Græcia is mentioned by Du Fresnoy. What induced Dr. W. to place Amadis de Gracia at the head of his second race or class of romances, I cannot guess. The fact is, that Amadis de Græcia is no more concerned in supporting the Byzantine empire, and recovering the holy sepulchre, than Amadis de Gaula in driving the Saracens out of France and Spain. And a still more pleasant circumstance is, that Amadis de Græcia, through more than nine tenths of his history, is himself a declared Pagan.
And here ends Dr. W.'saccount of the old romances of chivalry, which he supposes to have had their ground-work in Turpin's history. Before he proceeds to the others, which had their ground-work in our Geoffry, he interposes a curious solution of a puzzling question concerning the origin of lying in romances. “ Nor were the monstrous embellishments 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 cast peculiar to the wild imaginations of the eastern people. We have a proof of this in the Travels of Sir J. Maundeville."
He then gives us a story of an enchanted dragon in the isle of Cos, from Sir F. Maundeville, who wrote his Travels in 1356: by way of proof, that the tales of enchantments, &c. which had been current here in romances of chivalry for above two hundred years before, were brought by travellers from the East ! The proof is certainly not conclusive. On the other hand, I believe it would be easy to shew, that, at the time when romances of chivalry began, our Europe had a very sufficient stock of lies of her own growth, to furnish materials for every variety of monstrous embellishment. At most times, I conceive, and in most countries, imported lies are rather for luxury than necessity.
Dr. W. comes now to that other ground-work of the old romances, our Geoffry of Monmouth. And him he dispatches very shortly, because, as has been observed before, it is impossible to find any thing in him to the purpose of crusades or Saracens. Indeed, in treating of Spanish romances, it must be quite unnecessary to say much of Geoffry, as, whatever they have of “ the British Arthur and his conjurer Merlin," is of so late a fabrick, that, in all probability, they took it from the more modern Italian romances, and not from Geoffry's own book. As to the doubt, « whether it was by blunder or design that they changed the Saxons into Saracens," I should wish to postpone the consideration of it, till we have some Spanish romance before us, in which king Arthur is intro.. duced carrying on a war against Saracens, Lij