Imatges de pàgina

in the French it is simply


Il sembloit estre filz de roy,

ver. 1225.

Edward III. is certainly meant by the “ lorde of Wyndesore.” This was his distinctive appellation ; he having been born at that seat, and it being the use of the times for persons, particularly those of rank, to take a surname from the place of their birth. Hence I infer that the translation was made after Chaucer had become an object of court favour, and was in the habit of beholding the sons of his master. Petrarca speaks with contempt of the Ro- Petrarca's

opinion man de la Rosea. This is as it should be. Petrarca, a true Italian, regarded with pedantic fastidiousness and loathing every thing that was ultramontane, and therefore it was natural that no literary production should excite in him greater impatience than the

of this poem

^ De Sade, Tom. III, p. 45.


CHAP. poem which Chaucer has translated. It does

not follow that he was in any degree insincere in its condemnation. Men usually find in every book what they are strongly predisposed to find. Every work of human invention and effort has faults enough in it to satisfy the passions of the malevolent, and to justify to their own minds the scorn they express. Petrarca understood the Roman de la Rose no better than Voltaire understood Shakespear. But, if this

poem has been condemned by pularity. Petrarca, and derided by the fastidiousness of

modern criticism, it was proportionately honoured in the applauses of successive ages. Petrarca, even while he condemns it, confesses that all France, with Paris at its head, was agreed in an opinion opposite to his. The last editor of this poem affirms that though, previously to his impression, it had been many times printed, yet the number of

Its extensive


Roman de la Rose, 3 Tom. 12mo. Amsterdam, 1735, Preface.


manuscript, was much greater than that of CHAP. printed, copies ; a most striking illustration of the esteem and request in which it was formerly held. Clement Marot, the author whom modern France, judging by the delicacies of style only, regards as the father of its poetry, printed an edition of this work into which he introduced so many variations, as almost to amount to what the Italians call a rifaccimento. Ronsard, a celebrated French poet thirty years younger than Marot, is said never to have been without this


about his person. Lastly, Regnier, a satirist, of the sixteenth century, who in France divides the palm of that species of composition with Boileau, has taken a part of this poem as the basis of imitation in the best and most

applauded of his performances.

The Roman de la Rose is the joint produc- Its authors. tion of William de Lorris and John de Meun. There has been some difference of opinion,

• Binet, Vie de Ronsard, apud Roman de la Rose, Preface.


CHAP as to how much of the poem is to be ascrib

ed to each of these writers. It has commonly been stated that the part written by William de Lorris ends at verse 4149 of the original, which, relatively to a work consisting of more than twenty-two thousand verses can scarcely be considered as any thing more than the introduction. This statement rests upon the authority of the rhyming summaries occasionally interposed throughout the work, and which are supposed to have been the production of the fifteenth century. The last editor however gives it as his opinion that William de Lorris wrote 11135 verses, or about half of the


This opinion he founds upon

the authority of a passage OCcurring in that part of the poem ; where the God of Love is introduced as prophesying that here William de Lorris shall rest from his labour, and John de Meun shall take


the pen.

[ocr errors]

a Note sur le vers 11135.


Undoubtedly the authority of the body of CHAP. the poem is greater than that of the summaries which were written at a later period; but on a narrow inspection perhaps these authorities will not be found to clash. At verse 11135 the author repeats with the variation of only one or two words, four lines which had already occurred at verse 4149, and then adds.

Cy se reposera Guillaume.

The words Cy se reposera may


perhaps as well be construed as referring to the place at which those four lines (in either construction the last written by William de Lorris) first appear, as to the place where they are a second time repeated. On this hypothesis the assertion of John de Meun at verse 11135, and the assertion of the author of the summaries in the fifteenth century, perfectly coincide.

The editor adduces, as a further argument Time when to show that William de Lorris wrote morę ten. of the poem than has usually been ascribed

« AnteriorContinua »