When he was nine years old, his mother passed away and after some time spent in boarding schools, Martin set out for South America. In Europe he owned a printing press, and in San Francisco he ran a greeting card company, before a severe earthquake lead him to move back to NYC. Martin used his skills in the publishing industry towards writing letters for children, selling the letters by subscriptions.
Later, he began to write lyrical poetry and illustrate the letters. The books also had moral themes within several poems or songs about God. However, Martin did not specify a denomination. This collection includes issues of John Martin's Book published between and , and includes some duplicates. The finding aid descibes the contents of each volume for which a contents list is available. Any display, publication, or public use must credit the D. Copyright is retained by the creators of certain items in the collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Please refer to the Special Collections' website for more information. January [AP J66]: Introductory letter ; What is a smile? February [AP March [AP April [AP May [AP J66]: Tulips ; Maytime Song ; Mr. June [AP July [AP August [AP October [AP November [AP December [AP Scoodle-Do and the Squirrels ; How Mr. Funny fold-up. September [AP Bob Upp ; The Pipe's Pipes. Monk's Good Luck. Feburary [AP Bob Upp ; The Piper's Pipes.
John Smith Roach's Luck ; Smoke Pictures. Goat's Appetite. House, chap. I ; Wise Mrs. A Train ; Different People. J66]: Cover Design ; Interrupt? Folding Page ; Mr. These were chiefly composed by the Normans, who, after the Crusades, gave a new direction to literature. Marked changes were introduced by them, not only into France, but throughout Europe. They were filled with the spirit of adventure and enthusiasm, and in their onward march conquered England and Sicily, and took the lead in the next Crusade. Essentially a poetic people, the wonderful was the object of all their admiration and desire.
Hence they sang old war songs, especially of the battle of Roncesvalles in which Roland dies when the Franks are conquered by the Spaniards and Turks. In the tale of a fabulous Crusade, invented in the ninth century, and which was embodied in poetry by the Normans, the true history of the Empire became so bewilderingly mixed up with magicians, genii, sultans, Oriental fables, and comical characters, who met with astonishing adventures, that it was difficult to distinguish the true from the false.
There was nothing of the romantic and wonderful in the history of the East, which did not find its way into the poetry that treated of Charlemagne and Roland, until it lost all traces of the real wars and achievements of Charlemagne. The third subject of chivalric verse was Arthur of the Round Table; but this, at the time, was also invested with Oriental wonders and attachments. Other chivalric poetry of this epoch had to do with Godfrey of Bouillon, the Crusades, and old French tales and fabliaux which were brought into Europe by the oral narratives of the Crusaders.
The Northern mythology always abounded with mountain spirits, mermaids, giants, dwarfs, dragons, elves and mandrakes. These reappear in the songs of the Crusades, and are elements of the old Northern and Persian superstitions.
All that the East contributed to the song of the chivalric period was a Southern magic, and a brilliance of Oriental fancy with which some of the poems were clothed. It has had a marked influence on the Arabian "Thousand and One Nights. It seemed to touch the poetical thought of the age of chivalry; for we find it reproduced in their songs, mingled with Scriptural and love scenes.
Next to Chivalric poetry, the age of the Crusaders was essentially a period of love songs. They attained their greatest perfection in Provence, whence they spread over the whole of France, and from there into Germany in the twelfth century. Love poetry in Italy failed to attain any degree of perfection until the time of Petrarch in the fourteenth century; and its real era in Spain was not until a century later.
Love poetry developed in different ways in Europe, and, as we have seen, at different times. Except among the Italians it was not so much borrowed from one nation to another as had been the case with other branches of literature. It is different with Chivalric poetry, which was considered the common property of all.
The form of poetical composition also varied in each country, and the only thing common to all the nations was rhyme. Almost all the love poems seem to have been written to be sung, and this was carried to such lengths that in the reign of Lewis the Pious of Germany, an edict had to be sent to the nuns of the German Cloisters by their Bishops, forbidding them to sing their love songs, or Mynelieder. The history of the drama may be divided into two classes, the Christian, which began with the Mystery and Morality plays; and the Greek, which was eminently classic.
These two types were the foundation of all that came after them. The first dawn of the drama was in Greece; for although the Hindus also had dramatic poetry, it did not arise until there had been a lengthened intercourse between Greece and India, so that the latter undoubtedly borrowed from the former. The learned writers of ancient times agree that both tragedy and comedy were originally choral song. It has been said that poetry and song are divided into three periods of a nation's history, that the Epic has to do with the first awakening of a people, telling of their legends, or of some great deeds in remote antiquity.
This is followed by the second stage, which embraces elegiac and lyric poetry and arose in stirring and martial times, during the development of new forms of government, when each individual wanted to express his own thoughts and wishes; and the third is the drama, which can only be born in a period of civilization, and which, it has been said, implies a nation.
Hence Greek drama arose at the height of Grecian civilization and splendor. It originated in the natural love of imitation, of dancing and singing, especially at the Bacchic feasts. The custom at these feasts of taking the guise of nymphs and satyrs, and of wearing masks while they danced and sang in chorus, seems to have been the beginnings of the Greek drama.
Ancient tragedy was ideal, and had nothing to do with ordinary life; it arose from the winter feasts of Bacchus, while comedy was the outcome of the harvest feasts, and the accompanying Bacchanalian processions, which were more in the nature of a frolic than of real acting. The influence of the Middle and New Greek comedy, especially, that of Menander, on the Roman comedy of Terence is well defined.
Under Ennius and Plautus the Roman comedy was fairly original; but Terence wrote for the fashionable set, like Caecilius and Scipio Africanus, and consequently imitated Greek models very carefully. The drama in Rome never attained any noteworthy height although the French tragic poets took Seneca for their model.
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In the time of Lorenzo the Magnificent there was a great revival in Italy of the ancient classic drama, of which Poliziano was the most successful exponent. Both he and the later writers, however, made no attempt to found any National Italian drama--their works are entirely an imitation of the tragedies of Sophocles and Euripides, and the comedies of Plautus and Terence. The Melodrama, which arose in the seventeenth century, is distinctly Italian and national, and has been extensively produced all over the civilized world. Alfieri, in the eighteenth century, is the greatest and most patriotic of the Italian tragedians, and he did as much to revive the national character in modern times as Dante did in the fourteenth century.
In France we have the dramatic representation of the Mysteries in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, introduced by the pilgrims who had returned from the Crusades. At first these performances were given in the street, but later a company was formed, called the "Confraternity of the Passion," the suffering of Christ being its chief representation.
This Mystery is the most ancient dramatic work of modern Europe, and gives the whole Gospel narrative from the birth of our Saviour until His death. Being too long for a play of one act, it was continued from day to day. What would seem irreverent on a modern stage was regarded as perfectly simple and natural in the Middle Ages, and it was a potent factor in teaching the masses the truths of their faith. Following these Mysteries of the Passion came a host of other plays taken from the Old Testament, or from the lives of the Saints.
The earliest "Miracle" on record is the Play of St. Catherine, which was represented at Dunstable about , written in French; it was in all probability a rude picture of the miracles and martyrdom of the saint. The stage was divided into three different floors, with Heaven on top, hell on the ground floor, and the earth between. Frequently the play would proceed in all three divisions at once, with angels and devils ascending and descending by means of ladders, as their help was needed in the different worlds.
The Devil generally played the part of clown or jester. The modern puppet play of Punch is a tradition handed down from these ancient miracles, in which the Evil One was alternately the conqueror or victim of the human Buffoon; who was also called by the names of Jester or Vice. These early miracle plays were generally written in mixed prose and verse.
The oldest manuscript of a miracle play in English is The Harrowing of Hell, believed to have been written in The Morality plays were the outcome of the Mysteries; they were either allegorical or else taken from the Parables, or from the historical events in the Bible. It is a dramatic allegory of human life representing the many conflicting influences that surround man on his way through the world.
Lusty Juventus depicts in a vivid and humorous way the extravagances and follies of a young heir surrounded by the virtues and vices, and the misery which follows a departure from the path of religion and virtue. Gradually these Moralities were corrupted and became mixed with a species of comedy called Interludes, a merry and farcical dialogue. It turns upon a dispute between a Peddler, a Palmer, a Pardoner and a Poticary, in which each tries to tell the greatest lie; plays of this kind are seen in France at the present day.
In the fifteenth century the drama in France became more secularized and included political events and satire, but the French were undoubtedly the fathers of drama in the Middle Ages. Their plays were known a whole century before Spain or Italy had any theater, while the romantic drama in other countries of Europe was founded on the early French drama. Modern drama in France during the time of Corneille, Racine and Voltaire was almost entirely classic. The French regarded the Greek standard as the highest art; and sought to imitate it faithfully, so much so that the French Academy, criticizing a tragedy of Corneille, said "that the poet, from the fear of sinning against the rules of art, had chosen rather to sin against the rules of nature.
The Romantic drama, which arose in the second quarter of the nineteenth century, holds at present the first place in France. Between them and the followers of the Classic School there was for some time a lively war. The latter wanted to exclude the Romanticists from the Theatre Francais, but without success. In spite of the beauty of its French, and the polish of its style, this latest form of the drama in France frequently offends strongly against morality.
In Spain the drama was at all times thoroughly national. Even when they introduced mythological, Greek or Roman characters, it was always in a Castilian dress. In this respect Spain stands alone among the nations of Europe, as it borrowed nothing from France, Italy or England. Its earliest plays were the Mysteries, which it is supposed to have obtained from Constantinople, where the ancient theatre of Greece and Rome was kept up, in a grosser form, far into the Middle Ages.
In later times this Eastern drama became so corrupt that the Christian Church tried to offset it by introducing the Mysteries, and it became a common custom every year at Christmas, for the Manger at Bethlehem, the Worship of the Shepherds, and the Adoration of the Magi, to be exhibited before the Altar, just as the Mysteries of the Passion were introduced during Lent.
The second dramatic period in Spain was pastoral and satirical. Nothing worthy of note adorns this period in the fifteenth century. In the sixteenth century de Rueda and Lope de Vega founded the true national drama of Spain. It was unlike anything of an earlier period, and yet, resting faithfully on tradition, it gave a vivid picture of the National Spanish life in all classes of society.
From the gallantries of the "dramas of the Cloak and Sword," to the historical plays in which Dings and Princes figure; down to the manners and incidents of common life, all is essentially Spanish. A fourth class still represented Scriptural and sacred scenes. Calderon wrote at the height of the Spanish drama during the reign of Philip II; and after his time the drama in Spain declined until, in the eighteen century, it was at its lowest ebb.
At this time plays were still held in open courtyards, and in the daytime, as in the earlier ages. Efforts were made to subject it to French and Italian rule, but this had only a limited success; stiff, cold translation from the French could not please a people who always found in the Spanish drama an essentially popular entertainment. In Germany traces of the drama first appeared in the thirteenth century, when rude attempts to imitate the Mystery plays were conducted in churches by the priests. But when the populace tried to introduce the Burlesque, the performances were banished to the open fields.
Students in the universities took part in them, and they continued until after the Reformation. Brought into Europe from Constantinople by the Crusaders and pilgrims, the Mystery plays became the chief amusement of an illiterate age. Christianity was first thoroughly impressed on the mind of Northern Europe by means of them; and the first missionaries familiarized the rude Goths and Huns with Biblical incidents at a time when reading was unknown outside of the Cloister. No change in German drama occurred until the seventeenth century, when operas after the Italian superseded the Mysteries and Moralities.
The production of this age, however, were characterized by bad taste and pedantry; and it was not until Goethe brought his genius to bear on the subject, that the Germans acquired any drama worthy of the name. Whether in his national play Gotz von Berlichingen or in his classical drama of Iphigenia, this great German master stands at the summit of his art. Lessing attacked French drama as enacted in Germany prior to Goethe, and brought forward the Shakespearian plays as a model. Schiller's Wallenstein obtained a worldwide reputation, and among the Romantic dramatists Werner's Attila and Grillparzer's Ancestress are the best examples of the extravagant and fertile mind of the German romanticist.
Modern German drama has found the highest art it has ever attained in the compositions of Richard Wagner, whose operas are entirely German and National, and mostly founded on the old German legends. Tannhauser is taken from the epic poem of "Parzifal," written by Wolfram von Eschenbach in the Middle Ages. Lohengrin, which is touched on in the "Parzifal," Wagner also found in the poem of an obscure Bavarian poet; and a more complete account of the celebrated "Swan Knight" appears in a collection of stories edited by the brothers Grimm.
Lohengrin is a Knight of the Holy Grail, so part of the legend is borrowed from ancient Britain. All dramatic effort in England before the sixteenth century was so rude as to be of little account. The Miracle and Mystery plays were introduced into England in the reign of Henry VI, and many of them had a personage called "Iniquity," a coarse buffoon, whose object was to amuse the audience. After the Reformation the Protestant Bishop Bale wrote plays on the same plan as the Mysteries, intended to instruct the people in the supposed errors of Popery.
In the beginning of the sixteenth century real comedy and tragedy began to exist in a rude form. The oldest known English comedy, Ralph Royster Doyster, was written by Nicholas Udall, and describes a character whose comic misadventures are somewhat akin to Don Quixote. It is founded on the legends of fabulous British history. The tragedies of Marlowe and the legendary plays of Greene come next in order, followed by the golden age of English drama, from the dawn of the Shakespeare plays in until the closing of the theatre in on the breaking out of the Civil war in England.
For a period of sixty years the splendid genius of the world's greatest dramatist gave to mankind a series of plays that have no equal in the literature of any country or age. Contemporaneous with Shakespeare, or coming after him, were Beaumont and Fletcher, Ben Jonson, Massinger, Ford, and Shirley; these Elizabethan dramatists took their subjects from the stories and legends of all countries and ages--or else they depicted the national life.
For this reason English drama has been called Irregular, in contrast to the Greek, which is called the Regular, and that of modern France, founded upon the Greek. In the Greek, the time of action was allowed to extend to twenty-four hours, and the scene to change from place to place in the same city; but Shakespeare and his contemporaries acknowledged no fixed limit either of time, place or action. The operation of their plays covered many different countries, and the time extended over many years; but the rule that laid down in the Greek drama the principle that there should be unity of action everything being subordinate to a series of events, which form the thread of the plot , was adopted by Shakespeare and his contemporaries.
It has been called "unity of impression," as opposed to unity of time and place. The rise and development of Arabian literature occurs at an epoch when the rest of Europe was struggling through a period of transition. From the middle of the sixth to the beginning of the eleventh century, at a time when the Roman dominions were overrun by Northern hordes, and the Greek Nation was groaning under the Byzantine power, when both Greek and Latin literature was exposed to the danger of extinction, the splendor of Arabian literature reached its zenith and through the mingling of the Troubadours with the Moors of the Peninsula, and of the Crusaders with the Arabs, it began to influence the literature of Europe.
Arabia, peopled by wandering tribes, had no history other than the songs of the national bards, until after the rise of Mohammed in the sixth century. The desire of the prophet was to bring his people back from idolatry and star worship to the primitive and true worship of God. He studied the Old and New Testament, the legends of the Talmud and the traditions of Arabian and Persian mythology, then he wrote the Koran, which became the sacred book of the Arabians, and in which is traced in outline the true plan of man's salvation--Death, Resurrection, the Judgment, Paradise and the place of torment.
Good and evil spirits, the four archangels, Gabriel, Michael, Azrael and Izrafeel, are all found in the Koran; but clothed with a true Oriental fancy. Besides the angels there are creatures, partly human and partly spiritual, called Genii, Peris or fairies and Deev or giants.
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The Genii have the power of making themselves seen or invisible at pleasure. Some of them delight in mischief, and raise whirlwinds, or lead travellers astray. The Arabians used to say that shooting stars were arrows shot by the angels against the Genii when they approached too near the forbidden regions of bliss.
This fairy mythology of the Arabians was introduced into Europe by the Troubadours in the eleventh century, and became an important factor in the literature of Europe. From it, and the Scandinavian mythology spring all the fairy tales of modern nations. And these romances of the Koran form the groundwork of the fabliaux of the Trouveres, and of the romantic epics of Boccaccio, Tasso, Ariosto, Spenser and Shakespeare.
Mohammed's teaching unified the different tribes of Arabia, and fostered a feeling of national pride, and a desire for learning. So rapidly did this develop that in less than a century the Arabian power and religion, as well as its language, had gained the ascendency over nearly half of Africa, a third of Asia, and a part of Spain; and from the ninth century to the sixteenth, the Arabian literature surpassed that of any nations of the same period.
This people, who, in a barbarous state had tried to abolish all cultivation in science and literature, now became the masters of learning, and they drew from the treasure houses of the countries that they had acquired by conquest, all the riches of knowledge at their command.
The learning of the Chaldeans and of the Magi, the poetry and fine arts of Asia Minor, the eloquence and intellect of Africa, all became theirs. Greece counts nearly eight centuries from the Trojan war to the summit of her literary development. From the foundation of Rome till the age of Augustus the same number of centuries passed over the Roman world; while in French literature the age of Louis XIV was twelve centuries removed from the advent of Clovis; but in Arabian literature, from the time of the family of the Abassides, who mounted the throne in and who introduced a passionate love for poetry, science and art--until the time of Al Mamoun, the Augustus of Arabia, there elapsed only one hundred and fifty years, a rate of progress in the development of literature among a nation that has no parallel in history.
Tournaments first originated among the Arabs, and thence found their way into France and Italy. Gunpowder was known to them a century before it appeared in Europe, and they were in possession of the compass in the eleventh century, and this notwithstanding the fact that a German chemist is supposed to have discovered gunpowder a century after the Arabs made use of it, while the compass is more frequently supposed to be a French or Italian invention of the thirteenth century. Botany and chemistry were more familiar to them than they were to the Greeks or Romans. Bagdad and Cordova had famous schools of astronomy and medicine, and here in the tenth and eleventh centuries the Arabians were the teachers of the world.
Students came to them from France and other parts of Europe; and their progress, especially in arithmetic, geometry and astronomy, was marvellous. The poetry of the Arabs is rhymed like ours, and is always the poetry of passion and love; but it is in their prose works, the Arabian tales of the Thousand and One Nights, that they have become most famous.
Their richness of fancy in these prose tales is different from that of the other chivalric nations. The supernatural world is identical in both; but the moral world is different. The Arabian tales, like the old chivalric romances, take us to the realms of fairyland, but the human beings they introduce are very unlike. Their people are less noble and heroic, more moved by love and passion, and they depict women by turn as slaves and divinities.
The original author of the Arabian Nights is unknown; but the book has become a household possession in every civilized country in the world. For six centuries before the advent of the Arabs in Spain the country was under the Roman yoke, and had adopted the language and arts of the Romans; but in the eighth century the overthrow of the Romans, the coming of the Arabs, and contact with Arabian civilization--as well as the struggle against their Moorish invaders--began to develop in the Spaniards a spirit that was the foundation of their national literature.
No other people have ever possessed in so strong a degree the true national feeling- -no other has produced such a uniformly pure, deeply religious, and elevated tone, in poetry and literature. Their poetry remained at all times free from any foreign influence, and is entirely romantic, while the Christian chivalric poetry of the Middle Ages remained with them longer than with any other nation, and received from their hands a more finished and elegant polish. After the Moorish conquest the Spaniards withdrew to the mountains of Asturias; they took with them a corrupted form of the Latin language, as they had received it from the Romans; reaching these mountains, they found themselves thrown with the Iberians the earliest of the Spanish races.
These people had remained half barbaric, had resisted both Romans and Goths, and retained their original or Basque language. Coming now in contact with them, the Christian Spaniards learned their language. Later they met with another tribe of their own race who had remained with the Arabians, known as the Mocarabes, a people of superior refinement and civilization. Hence a new dialect from these contending elements was gradually formed, and became known, like the other languages of southern Europe, as the Romanic.
The distinguishing feature of Spanish literature, from its birth, to the time of Ferdinand and Isabella, is religious faith and knightly loyalty. Qualities which sustained the whole nation in its struggle against the infidel Moors. The first great Spanish work is the poem of the Cid. It is the only epic Spain has ever produced, and is the most ancient of any in the Romance language. It is also valuable as a faithful picture of the manners and characters of the eleventh century.
Indeed, the chief characteristic of Spanish song and poetry is its delineation of the national life. It is said that the Cid is the foremost poem produced in Europe from the thousand years that marked the decline of Greek and Roman civilization, to the appearance of the Divine Comedy. The Count Lucanor, a work of the fourteenth century, was one of the earliest prose writings in the Spanish tongue, as the Decameron, which was written about the same time, was the first in Italian. Both are narrative tales; but their moral tone is very dissimilar--the Decameron was written to amuse, while the Count Lucanor is addressed to a grave and serious nation.
These stories have frequently been dramatized, and one of them gave Shakespeare the outline of his Taming of the Shrew. Alfonso the Wise, in the thirteenth century, was the author of a legislative code known as Las Sieta Partides, or the Seven Parts. It forms the Spanish common law, and has been the foundation of Spanish Jurisprudence ever since; and being used also in the colonies of Spain, it has, since the Louisiana Purchase, become in some cases the law in our own country.
Juan Ruiz, who lived in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, wrote a poem, partly fiction and partly allegorical, called the Battle of Don Carnival, which strongly resembles Chaucer; both poets found their material in northern French verse. Santob, a Jew in the fourteenth century, wrote a poem called the Dance of Death, which became a favourite subject with both painters and poets for several succeeding ages. The literature of Spain may be divided into four classes--the old Ballads, the Chronicles, the Romances of Chivalry, and the Drama. The most interesting of the old ballads are historical; but there are also ballads that have to do with private life wherein appear the effusions of love, the shafts of satire, the descriptions of pastoral life, and the oddities of burlesque.
One and all, however, faithfully represent Spanish life.
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No such popular poetry is found in any other language. The English and Scotch ballads belong to a more barbarous state of society, and their verse is less dignified and lofty than that of the Spaniards, who were uplifted by a deep religious sense, and an unswerving loyalty to their sovereign.
A state of feeling that elevated them far above the men and events of border feuds, and the wars of rival Barons. The great Spanish heroes, the Cid, Bernardo del Carpo, and Pelayo, are to this day a vital part of the belief and poetry of the lower classes in Spain, and are revered as they were hundreds of years ago. The wandering Mulateers still sing of Guarinos and of the defeat at Roncesvalles as they did when Don Quixote heard them on his way to Toboso; and the street showmen in Seville rehearse to this day the same wonderful adventures that the Don saw in the Inn at Montesinos.
The Chronicles developed among the more refined and educated classes. The most celebrated is the Chronicle of Spain, written by Alfonso the Wise. It starts with the creation of the world, and ends with the death of Alfonso's father, St. It contains all the time-honored traditions of the country, as well as exact historical truth. The story of the Cid is supposed to be taken from this work.
From the time of Alfonso the Wise to the accession of Charles V or from the thirteenth century to the sixteenth , Spain was flooded by romantic chronicles. The most celebrated is that of Don Roderick, or an account of the reign of King Roderick in the eighth century, the conquest of the country by the Moors, and the efforts to wrest it from them. Whether resting on truth or fable, these old records struck their roots deep down in the hearts of the people; and their romance, their chivalry, their antique traditions, and their varied legends, form a rich deposit from which all the nations of Europe have drawn material for their own literature.
It was not until the fourteenth century that the romances of chivalry--known in France two centuries earlier in the stories of Arthur and the Round Table, and the deeds of Charlemagne--found their way across the Pyrenees. Spain, so essentially the land of knighthood, welcomed them eagerly, and speedily produced a number of like romances which were translated into French and became famous. The most celebrated is Amadis, written by de Lobeira, a Portuguese.
Its sole purpose is to set forth the type of a perfect knight, sans peur et sans reproche. Amadis is an imaginative character; but he is the first of a long line of doers of knightly deeds, culminating in Don Quixote, whose adventures have charmed and delighted the Spaniards, as well as the men of other nations. Provencal literature began to have an influence on the Spanish in , after the crown of Provence had been transferred from Arles to Barcelona by the marriage of the then Provencal heiress to Beranger, Count of Barcelona.
This introduction of the Provencal literature into northeastern Spain had a beneficial result on the two literatures, fusing them into a more vigorous spirit. Spain had always maintained the closest relations with the See of Rome, and numerous Spanish students were educated at the Italian Universities, hence the Italian literature had some influence on the Spanish, more lasting as a whole than the effects of Provencal literature. This Italian influence extended into the sixteenth century. Diego de Mendoza, during the reign of Charles V wrote a clever satirical prose work called Lazarillo de Tormes, which became the foundation of a class of fiction of which Gil Blas, by Le Sage, is the best known and most celebrated example.
Except for the Cid, Spain had no historical narrative poems of any account, and her prose historical works, especially on the discovery and conquest of America, are of a purely local character, and had no influence outside of Spain. The beginning of the eighteenth century saw the accession to the throne of Philip V, a grandson of Louis XIV; and this brought a strong French influence into the country, which for a time dominated the national literature.
A new poetical system founded on Boileau was introduced by Luzan in his Art of Poetry; but it did not seem to bring about any real advance in literature; and it was not until Spain threw off this foreign yoke, that any revival in her literature took place. It is due to a monk, Benito Feyjoo, in the middle of the eighteen century that a renaissance in Spanish literature took place.
Feyjoo, a devout Catholic, labored to bring to light scientific truths, and to show how they harmonized with the true Catholic spirit. In the same century Isla, a Jesuit, undertook with entire success, to purify the Spanish pulpit, which had become lowered both in style and tone. His history of Friar Gerund, which slightly resembles Don Quixote, aimed a blow at bombastic oratory, causing it soon to die out. Proverbs which Cervantes had styled "short sentences drawn from long experience," have always been a distinctive Spanish product, and can be traced back to the earliest ages of the country.
No fewer than 24, have been collected, and many more circulate among the lower classes which have not been recorded in writing. The earliest imitators in Europe of the bucolic poetry of Virgil, were the Portuguese; and as a people they thought that the pastoral life was the ideal model for poetry. This idea is strongly brought out by Ribeyro in the sixteenth century. The great number of Mocarbians that settled in Portugal infused into them as a nation, a stronger Orientalism than is found elsewhere in Europe, and their poetry was of an enthusiastic order, more marked than that of the Spaniards.
Henry of Burgundy, who married a daughter of Alfonso XI of Spain, in the eleventh century, introduced Provencal poetry. The Cancioneros, or courtly ballads, in imitation of the Provencal, were sung by wandering minstrels, and Portuguese poetry retained its Provencal character until the end of the fourteenth century. In the fifteenth century, the Portuguese invaded Africa, and Vasco de Gama pointed out to Europe the new and unknown route to India.
Fifteen years later, toward the close of the century, a Portuguese kingdom was founded in Hindostan, causing a strong counter-current of Orientalism to invade Portugal. The people awoke to a desire for greatness; and poetry and the arts flourished. This period, extending into the sixteenth century, is called the golden age of Portuguese literature. The Os Lusiades, an epic poem, that has been called "one of the noblest monuments ever raised to the national glory of any people," was written by Luis de Camoens, a Portuguese of the sixteenth century.
It is intensely patriotic, although it is touched by both Greek mythology, and the Italian style, which during this epoch had been slightly blended with the Portuguese. Portugal had little or no influence on the literature of any nation but her own, receiving her strongest impressions from outsiders.
In the eighteenth century she was dominated both in taste and manners by the French, and the beginning of the nineteenth century found her a great admirer and imitator of English literature. National songs are known to have been sung in Portugal during the earliest times; but none of them have come down to us. They were doubtless similar to the other bardic songs of Europe. It is in the first ages of national existence that the foundations of national character and poetry are laid; and the farther back that history is studied, the more closely do we find the different peoples of the world united in their literature.
Its first history in France is undoubtedly that of the Troubadours. Provence, where it originated, early became an independent kingdom, while in the north the literature of the Trouveres became the foundation of the national literature of France. Latin was the language of the country after its conquest by Julius Caesar; then came the Northern hordes, when language became corrupted, until, in the time of Charlemagne, German was the Court language, Latin the written language, and the Romance dialect, still in its barbaric state, was the speech of the people.
The Gauls in the North, who used the Romance, were also called the Roman-Wallons; they were distinguished from Charlemagne's German subjects, while in the South the natives were called the Romans-Provencaux. In the tenth century the Normans invaded France, and infused another element in the language, which gradually became Norman- French; and from the twelfth century the two dialects were known as Provencal and French.
The Provencal dialect, although much changed, is still spoken in Provence, Languedoc, Catalonia, Valencia, Majorca, and Minorca, while the French was brought, by gradual polish, to its present perfection. The Troubadours who flourished for three centuries, from to , used the Romance language in their poems. The brilliance of this period of literature, its sudden rise, and as sudden disappearance, is not unlike the rise and fall of the Arabian literature.
Among the thousands of poets who flourished during this time, none ever wrote anything of any special note. The love, romance and imagination of these poems breathes that chivalry toward women, amounting almost to veneration, which was a feature of this class of poetry. It is therefore to be regretted that as actual tales, shorn of the poetical and chivalric setting, there was something left to be desired.
The immorality of the incidents, and the coarseness of the language, makes this "Gay Science," as the Troubadours called it, unfit to be classed with the best literature. In the crown of Provence passing to the Count of Barcelona brought a more refined taste into the Provencal poetry; the arts and the sciences of the Arabians obtained a foothold in the country; rhyme--the method used in Arabian poetry, was adopted by the Troubadours, and from them has been handed down to the nations of modern Europe. This period has been described as "one that shone out at once over Provence and all the south of Europe, like an electric flash in the midst of profound darkness, illuminating all things with the splendor of its flame.
In the history of the world there is no event that fired the poetry and imagination of the people like these holy wars, and religious enthusiasm began to influence the poetry of the time. When the Plantagenet kings of England assumed by right the sovereignty over Languedoc as Provence was called , a new impetus was given to the Provencal poetry, as well as a wider scope, when it was introduced into England. Chaucer, the father of English literature, found in the Provencal literature all his first models. With the decline of the Troubadours occurred the rise of the Trouveres in northern France.
In the tenth century Normany was invaded by Rollo the Dane, who incorporated himself and his followers with the Normans. They adopted the Norman-French; but gave it a power and scope it had hitherto lacked. While the Romance-Provencal in the South was a language of sweetness and beauty, the Northern language after the advent of Rollo, was strong and warlike. Its poetry, which differed from the love chansons of the South, was the song of brave warriors, recounting the heroic deeds of their ancestors.
The Langue d'oui, as this Northern speech was called, became, in the twelfth century, the universal medium of literature. The poets and story writers called themselves Trouveres, and they invented the fabliaux, the dramatic mysteries and romances of ancient chivalry. The first great literary work of this class is a marvellous history of the early kings of England, commencing with Brutus, a grandson of Aeneas, who, sailing among many enchanted Isles, at length settles in England, where he meets Arthur of the Round Table, and the old wizard, Merlin, one of the most popular creations of the Middle Ages.
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Born of this legend were some of the best known of modern romances. The word romance, which in the early history of France was used to distinguish the common dialect from the Latin, was later applied to all imaginative and inventive tales. A poetess known as Marie of France, wrote twelve lays to celebrate the glories of the Round Table. She addresses herself to a king supposed to be Henry VI, and has made extensive use of early British legends.
Chaucer and other English poets, have drawn many inspirations from her poems. The Trouveres not only originated the romances of chivalry; but they also invented allegorical poems. The most celebrated is the "Romance of the Rose," written in the thirteenth century. It consisted of 20, verses, and although tedious, because of its length, it was universally admired, and became the foundation of all subsequent allegory among the different nations.
The poetry of the Trouveres was unlike anything in antiquity, and unlike, too, to what came after it. It dealt with high-minded love and honor, the devotion of the strong to the weak, and the supernatural in fiction. All this, which formed part of its composition, has been attributed to both the Arabians and the Germans; but it was in truth a peculiar production of the Normans, the most active and enterprising people in Europe, a nation who pushed into Russia, Constantinople, England, France, Sicily and Syria.
A treasury of a later date, from which the Trouveres drew their fabliaux in the thirteenth century, was a collection of Indian tales that had been translated into Latin in the tenth century. These fabliaux show that inventiveness, gaiety, and simple, yet delightful esprit, which is found nowhere but among the French. The Arabian tales, which had found their way into France, were also turned into verse, while the anecdotes that were picked up in the castles and towns of France, furnished other material for the fabliaux.
These tales were the common property of the country at large, and are the source from which Boccaccio, La Fontaine, and others drew their inspiration. Some of them became famous and have been passed down from one age to another. The Renard of Goethe, and the Zaire of Voltaire were taken from the old fabliaux. In the fourteenth century the coming of the Popes and the Roman Court to Avignon introduced an Italian element, and the language of Tuscany took the place of the Provencal among the upper classes.
La Fontaine, called the "Prince of Fablists," appeared in the seventeenth century. Many of his fables were borrowed from ancient sources; but clothed in a new dress. He has been closely imitated by his Confreres and by the fablists of other nations; but has easily remained the most renowned of them all. The philosophy of Descartes in the sixteenth century prepared the way for Locke, Newton and Leibnitz; and his system, although now little used, was really the foundation of what followed.
He is said to have given new and fresher impulse to mathematical and philosophical study than any other student, either ancient or modern. Pascal, a contemporary of Descartes, is renowned for his Provencal Letters, a book that has become a classic in France. It is full of wit, and of exquisite beauty of language; but its teaching is pure sophistry. Pascal first set the example of writing about religion in a tone of mock levity, especially when by so doing, he could abuse the Jesuits.
In the end this weapon of keen and delicate satire was turned against Christianity itself, when Voltaire in the eighteenth century recognized its possibilities, and made use of it. The older French literature in the sixteenth century had become so neglected, and was so lacking in cultivation; so little adapted to poetry, that the nation seemed in danger of losing all its earlier traditions.
For a hundred years France was given over to profane and light literature. Montaigne, Charyon, Ronsard and de Balzac are some of the names of this period. The death of a cat or dog was made the subject of a poem that was no real poetry. It is due to the women of France--to Madame de Rambouillet and her confreres, and to the literary coteries that arose in the middle of the seventeenth century--that French literature acquired a deeper and more serious tone.
This period was followed by the founding of the French Academy, of which Cardinal Richelieu was the chief patron. The tragic dramatists, Corneille and Racine, now appeared on the literary horizon. Racine's language and versification was said to be far superior to either Milton in English or Virgil in Latin. In tragedy the French stand pre-eminent; but it is matter for regret that their subjects are never taken from their own nation--they rarely represent French heroes; and it is a weakness of their literature that they make no direct appeal to the national feeling.
There is a close connection between the classical dramas of Racine and Corneille, and such works as Pope's Iliad, Addison's Cato and Dryden's Alexander's Feast, showing the general interest in Greek and Roman subjects during their time. The older poetry of the chivalric period was entirely discarded, though it would have been possible to unite the old chivalric spirit, the freedom and romance of mediaeval times, with the later renaissance, as was done by other nations.
The French literature is more closely formed on the model of the earlier refined nations of antiquity, as the Roman was on the Greek.
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The later French poetry of the seventeenth century came into opposition with the teaching of Rousseau, this gave birth to a taste for English poetry and the classic poetry of France was a copy of the descriptive poetry of England. In the eighteenth century prose writings superseded verse. At this time the English had taken the lead in literature, and modern French philosophy was built on that of Bacon and Locke.
It was no part of the plan of the English philosophers, however, to inculcate such ideas as the French philosophers drew from their writings. Bacon, who was profoundly Christian, believed that man alone was the type of God, and nature the work of God's hands; but the French leaders in philosophy went beyond this, they deified nature, and threw aside as mysticism whatever could not be proved by sense.
Voltaire made use of all the wonderful greatness of science, as revealed by Bacon and Newton, not to exalt the Creator; but to lower man to the level of the brute. Like the old Greek sophists, who defended first one side of a question, and then the one diametrically opposed to it, Voltaire would write one book in favor of God, and another to deny Him; but it is not difficult to see which is his real belief. This perverted philosophy of Voltaire in turn reacted on the English mind, and particularly on history.
We see its workings in both Gibbon and Hume. The "little philosophy" which "inclineth a man's mind to atheism," led the eighteenth century philosophers to fancy that Newton's discoveries meant that everything could be attained without religion, and that the only true and wide vision could be reached by the senses alone.
They taught a pure materialism, to their own undoing; for it is not possible to thus lightly throw aside our great links with the past, in which both Christian and heathen, knowingly and unknowingly, in mediaeval poetry, in heroic ballad, and in Egyptian prose, testified to the existence of God. The nineteenth century in France has been rich in dramatists, novelists, historians and poets, as well as in science and learning of all kinds; but it has had no especial power, or aim, and its opinions are constantly changing.
The early novelists were strongly directed by the writings of Sir Walter Scott, while later ones have sought to imitate Victor Hugo and George Sand. The literature of this period has had no effect outside of France. Poetry has not risen any higher than Alfred de Musset; and any further greatness in French poetry must come from a revival of their own ancient poems and legends. Poetry that deals only with the present becomes local, and in the end is influenced by the constant caprice and change of fashion instead of by the deep, heart-stirring beliefs of a strong and united people.
The first general language of Italy was the Latin, and so strongly was the Italian mind dominated by the influence of ancient Rome that her earliest writers sought to keep alive the Roman tradition. This spirit of freedom led to the establishment of the Italian Republics, and after the Lombard cities threw off the yoke of Frederick Barbarossa they turned their chief attention to education and literature. The spirit of chivalry and chivalric poetry never took such root in Italy as it did in other European countries. Nevertheless, Italy was not uninfluenced by the Crusades, and the Arabs, establishing a celebrated school of medicine at Salerno, gave a new impetus to the study of the classics.
In Bologna was opened a school of jurisprudence, where Roman law was studied, and these schools, or universities soon appeared in other parts of Italy. The Italians devoted more time to the study of law and history, and to making translations from the Greek philosophers, than to the cultivation of chivalric poetry, although many of the Italian poets wrote in Provencal and French; and Italian Troubadours made journeys to the European Courts. It has been said that the only poetry that has any real power over a people is that which is written or composed in their own language.
This is especially true of Italy. Following this early Latin period came Dante, the most glorious, and inventive of the Italian poets, and indeed one of the greatest masters of verse in the world. He perfected the Tuscan, or Florentine dialect, which was gradually becoming the literary language of Italy. Petrarch, who succeeded Dante, is greatest in his Italian poems, and it is by these that he is best known, while his Latin works, which he hoped would bring him fame, have been almost forgotten.
In the fifteenth century the use of the national language in literature entirely died out, through the rise of the Humanists, and the craze for Greek and Latin classics; but toward the end of the fifteenth century, under Lorenzo de'Medici and Leo X, interest in their own literature among the Italians began to revive again. Ariosto and Tasso wrote their magnificent epics; and once more Italian poetry was read and appreciated, and reached the height of its renown.
Again in the seventeenth century it declined under the influence of the Marini school; whose bad taste and labored and bombastic style, was unfortunately imitated in both France and Spain. In the eighteenth century, under the patronage of Benedict XIV, the Arcadian poets of the Marini school were banished from literature, and other and more brilliant writers arose, possessed of the true national feeling. With the rise of Napoleon, Italy was flooded with French writings, and French translations, not always of the best, and even the French language was used instead of the Italian.
The Italian literature again suffered a decline, and it was not until after the treaty of Vienna in that the foreign influence was again shaken off. It will thus be seen that it was when Italian poets wrote in their own language that their greatest and most lasting success was attained. During the periods when a craze for imitating foreign works existed, the national languages deteriorated. In Germany, under the Emperor Maximilian, a crown was publicly bestowed on any poet who achieved success in Latin verse, while no reward or emolument was given to those who wrote in German.
The religion of Humanism in Italy went to such lengths that many seemed to lose not only their belief but also their good sense, as they considered it vulgar to talk of the Deity in the language of the Bible. God was spoken of in the plural--gods. The Father was Jupiter, the Son, Apollo; and the Devil, Pluto; but these various errors had no lasting or far-reaching influence. The Divine Comedy, the most powerful and lifelike exponent of the thoughts and feelings of the age in which Dante lived--an allegory, written in the form of a vision, at a time when men believed that the things that are unseen are eternal--is the most perfect and magnificent monument of earthly love, refined and spiritualized, that has ever been written.
It stands alone; for no man of any country, coming after Dante, has been able to write from the same motive, and in the same spirit, that he did. Petrarch, the next greatest after Dante, is chiefly celebrated for his lyrical poems, which were used as models by all the most celebrated poets of the South of Europe. They are written in two forms, the canzone taken from the Provencals, and the sonnet, taken from the Sicilians.
Petrarch kept up a wide correspondence with the literary men of Europe; and through his influence a sort of literary republic arose which joined together the literati of many different countries. Boccaccio, next in rank to Petrarch, evolved a poetry consisting of Norman wit and Provencal love, joined to an elaborate setting of his own. He took Livy and Cicero for his models, and tried to combine ancient mythology with Christian history, the result being that his writings were not so fine as they would have been had they displayed a greater freedom a of style.
His most celebrated work is the Decameron, the idea of which is taken from an old Hindu romance which was translated into Latin in the twelfth century. Most of these tales have also been found in the ancient French fabliaux, and while Boccaccio cannot be said to have really invented them, he did clothe them anew, and his tales in their turn have been translated into all the European languages.
It is due to Cosmo and Lorenzo de' Medici, and to Pope Leo X, that there was such a glorious development of the fine arts in the fifteenth century, an era whose benefits have been felt among the cultivated nations for over three hundred years. At the same time Poliziano created the pastoral tragedy, which served to revive the study of Virgil.