« PreviousContinue »
" Ainsi le bon temps regretons fresh and living book. To disEntre nous, pauvres vieilles sottes, miss it as “mediæval” is to Assises bas, à croppetons
misunderstand its soope and Tout en ung tas comme pelottes, A petit feu de chevenottes,
purpose. It is far nearer to Tost allumées, tost estainctes ; our own time and to universal Et jadis fusmes si mignottes ! acceptance, for instance, than Ainsi en prend à maintz et maintes.” the Chronicles of Stow and
Speed, which it preceded by a And it should be remembered century. There is nothing of that Clement Marot, the first the spirit of the “big gooseof the poets to win a place in berry” about it. Comines is the French Renaissance, was singularly free from the vice of the editor and panegyrist of aneodotage. He is no gossip Villon. The works of Villon, bent upon whiling away an idle said he, are “ of such an art, so hour. He is a statesman as full of good dootrine, and so well as a historian, and it was finely painted in a thousand his intention not only to oelebeautifal colours, that time, brate the genius of his master, which effaces all, has not of. Louis XI., but to set forth a faced them, and still loss shall sound method of stateoraft. it efface them presently and His love of character and his hereafter, when the good writ- passion for politios separate ings of France shall be better him sharply from the chroni. known and collected.” This is olers. He sketches, with a keen & noble tribute composed by a perception, the kings of his poet who has been placed by times, and also the countries. the historians on the other side He finds that the English are of the hedge, and yet urged the cholerio, after the fashion of young poets of his time to oull those who inhabit cold coun. Villon's sentenoes like beautiful tries, that they hunt fiercely flowers.
after offices and estates, that Truly, the poets who followed with them everything is in Villon may have been nearer extreme, that they laok disoreto the Renaissance; traly, also, tion and are not so subtle in they are farther from poetry treaties as the French. He So much is said, not in any notes in the Italians a love of opposition to Mr Tilley, but to change, jealousy, and avarice. suggest that too great a burden He says that it is in their nature should not be laid upon a to favour the stronger side, and convenient word. Nor oan it that the best that may be exbe said that the Chronicle peoted from them is neutralof Comines was conceived and ity. Towards men as towards written in the outer darkness peoples he strives to be just. of barbarism. It does not re- He spent the greater part of call to mind the shores of the his active life in opposition to Dead Sea. In spite of the fact the Duke of Burgundy, once that it belongs to the time his master; and he sketches which was before Charles VIII.'s his character without a hint visit to Italy, it seems still a of malevolence. Even though he deplores the Duke's lack of He recognised the heavy bur. wisdom, he praises unstintingly den which was laid upon him. his noble qualities. “Undoubt. “I knew this mighty king," edly," says he, "he was en- he wrote, “and served him in dued with many goodly vir. the flower of his age, and in tues, for never was Prince more his great prosperity; yet never desirous to entertain noble saw I him free from toil of body men and to keep them in good and trouble of mind." He order than he. His liberality praises his policy and his seemed not great, because he oonduot, noting that he was made all men partakers there always ready to humble bimof. Never Prince gave audi- self at the call of wisdom, for enoe more willingly to his “when pride rideth before, servants and subjeots than he. shame and damage follow While I served him he was not after," A king, modest in cruel, but grew marvellous oruel prosperity, brave in adversity, towards his end, which was a he knew whom he ought to sign of short life. ... Covetous fear, and was free from panio. he was of glory, which was the So he gave his life to the profit ohief oause which made him of Franoe, and dreamed of move so many wars, for be emulating Charlemagne, whom desired to imitato those ancient he thought he resembled, as Princes whose fame continu. many lesser men since have eth till this present. Lastly, thought they resembled Naphardy was he and a valiant, oleon. And Comines sketches as any man that lived in his his superstitions and his craft time, but all his great enter- and his cruelties, leaving the prises and attempts ended with balanoe of good always upon himself and turned to his the right side, until he comes own loss and dishonour, for to his death at his castle of honour goeth ever with the Plessis. “After all these feare, victory.” Honour goeth ever sorrows, and suspicions," he with the victory – that is a writes, “God (according to His true saying, true to-day as when accustomed goodness) wrought it was written, and it is a say. a miracle upon him, healing ing wbioh we should do well to him both in soul and body, for ponder now, when & German He took him out of this miserviotory would establish upon able world, being perfect of a firm foundation “honour sense, understanding, and rooted in dishonour.”
memory, having received all Comines is just not only to bis sacraments, without all the Duke of Burgundy. Še is grief to man's judgment, and just also to Edward IV. of talking continually even withEngland, whom he finds the in a Pater Noster while of his handsomest and most munifi. death." cent prince that ever he saw, Such is the writer who Mr though too much inolined to Tilley, following Brunetière, take his ease. But the hero of says, “had nothing in him of his life and book is Louis XI. the Renaissance." If this be
footed ines in jurgundsi IV. ne
true, it is true also that are in His hand.” Even Comines has what is far Louis XI. is but a favoured greater-& aniversality of in- puppet of the Deity. But terest. He is part of the this simple reverence is not world's inheritance. He is exclusively mediæval. It has read to-day not only by those belonged and will always bewhose business it is to study long to statesmen and soldiers the rooords of history, but by of a certain type. Comines those who care for the liter- and his master were, like ary expression of character. Cromwell, “practioal mystios," Whether he was an artist in and with the best will in the words or not, it is certain world we cannot put Cromthat his style fits his matter well back into the Middle perfootly. He wrote always Ages. And even to-day we as a man of affairs, and pro- find leaders, on either side, duoed the effoot of a pious, invoking God to fight their practioal statesmanship, at battles for them, and the inwhich he aimed. What Mon. vocation is hypocritical only taigne wrote in his own copy in those who make their Deity is true enough. Here it is in responsible for their own flaFlorio's English : "In him you grant misdeeds. shall find a pleasing-sweet and It is one of the puzzles gently-gliding speech, fraught of history that Comines and with a purely-sinoere simplio. Machiavelli were writing at ity, his narration pure and the same time, in ignorance of anaffected, and wherein the each other's purpose, treatises Author's unspotted good mean- which dealt with the duties ing doth evidently appear, void and ambitions of Princes. of all manner of vanity or That Machiavelli 88w more ostentation speaking of him- deeply into the sequence and self, and free from all affeotion purposes of events, that he had or envy speaking of others." a wider outlook into the past, That is high praise from a is obviously true. But his wise judge, and it admits superiority oame not from a Comines into the company of difference in sympathy or the eleot. But, says Mr period from Comines, but from Tilley, Comines' religion is his own genius and tempera. " the simple, inoonsistent, unment. After his own fashion, spiritual religion of the ordin. Cominos attempted to conary mediæval man.” Now, it struot that whioh oame easily is true that for Comines God to Machiavelli - a philosophy is the only ruler of Princes of stateoraft. He would, if He believes that whatever is he could, have regulated the done in this world is done friendships of sovereigns; he with God's sanotion and ap- defined the duties of amproval. At the very moment bassadors and spies, and he that he sets forth the value glorified wisdom and suspioion. of arohors to an army, he in- “Think you,” he asks, “that sists that “God shows battles God hath established the offise
of a King or a Prince to be Thus, again, we find an illus. executed by such beasts as tration of Blake's saying that glory in saying: I am no genius is above its age, and sobolar; I trust my Counoil are content. . well enough, and refer all of the intervening period of matters to them, and 80 the Dawn of the Renaissance without further answer de- Mr Tilley has given us an ad. part to their sports and mirable account, whioh is all pastimes?” That was not the the more welcome because it kingly part, as Comines wished is a period seldom relieved by to see it played; and though great names. With a scholarly he lacked the profound know- hand he has sketohed the rise ledge and the supreme intelli- of humanism in France, and gence of Machiavelli, he was has given us deft portraits of busy with the same work as Gaguin, the student of Latin, engrossed the author of The of Jacques Lefèvre d'Étaples, Prinoe.' Nor did he go with- the Aristotelian and restorer out recognition. His book be- of philosophy, of whom a paneoame the breviary of kings gyrist says: “He came forth before it ever saw the dignity like the rising sun to dissipate of print. Charles V. carried the darkness and arouse the it with him always; and youth of Franoe from its deep Franois I. disapproved of its lethargy. He was the first appearance in type, beoause to shed the light of purer he thought it should remain learning on liberal studies, and the exclusive property of to raise them from their fallen kings.
state to a place of honour." Thus it seems a small mat. And so he passes to Guillaume ter whether we should place Budé, the accomplished GreComines in a pen labelled oian, the stalwart champion of “Renaissance" or not. The scholarship in France, the truth is that Villon and author of De Asse,' and the Comines on the one hand, correspondent of Rabelais. Ronsard and Rabelais on the Then he describes the work other, belong all to the same which Erasmus, the greatest age-the age of genius. And teacher and inspirer of Europe, it is noteworthy that all that did for humanism in Franoe. oame between them in the “The New Learning was for literature of France has little Erasmus an instrument of life," other merit than the merit of says Mr Tilley, in an excellent ouriosity. And this is the passage. “This clear concep. result not of the old spirit tion of the uses of Pagan nor of the new, not of schools literature for & Christian or periods, but the result of society was of the greatest the aooidents which decreed service to France. For a large that Villon and Comines, proportion of the early Frenoh Ronsard and Rabelais, should humaniste, under the influence be born in Franoe at the of their theological training, times in which they were. had an uneasy misgiving as to the fitness of pagan litera- he tells his tale, “or rather he ture for the education of a found me, for I paid him a Christian. Some, indeed, found large fee, who could do little relief in the theory that anoi. more than converse in literary ent literature was an allegory. language. But he pronounced Bat Erasmus taught them & and read excellently, and as I truer view, that it is the moral heard he was the only Greek seriousness of the best pagan in France, I thought him exliterature that makes it a fit- tremely learned. Moreover, he ting instrument of Christian suoceeded in exciting my ardour education.” That is wisely for study by introducing me to said, and our debt to Erasmus Homer and to the names of is not yet paid. We still owe some other writers.” And much of our scholarship to his then came the interoourse prudent teaching and good with Italy, and the ready example, and if, obedient to access to Greek manuscripts ; clamear, we now throw away and Budé spared neither money what he taught us, we shall in buying books nor time in show ourselves ungrateful to reading them. He took no the greatest man of letters of holidays, and packed into one his time.
day the work of a day and a It is not Mr Tilley's fault half. His debt to Italy, then, that, when he leaves scholar- can be easily measured. The ship for the field of literature, arts of arohitecture and soulphe is forced to admit its bar- ture made & tardier, vaguer renness. The dawn of the entrance into France. The literary Renaissance in France French builders, the masters was grey indeed. Such poets of their own oraft, were natuas there were called themselves rally disinclined to accept the very properly rhétoriquers. new fashions of Italy. But Their works were formal to gradually Italian artificers insipidity, and of all the writmade their way across the ers of the time only Lemaire Alps, and at Amboise and elsede Bruges, to whom Mr Tilley where gave instruction to the rightly traces a debt in Rabe- oraftsmen of France. The lais, is worth remembrance. wonderful châteaux, which Thus it is in French scholar. were built from end to end of ship that the effeots of human- France, were no longer forism were earliest and most tresse8; they served not for clearly seen. In no other do- defence but for the grace of a main of human energy was so well-ordered life, and the olasfearless a champion of the new sioal influenoe, slight though learning and the new taste as it be, was already upon them. Guillaume Badé. In the face This contact of the old style of manifold difficulties he be with the new,” says Mr Tilley, came most learned in Greek. " of French master-masons and The only teacher he had was workmen, supported by tradithe inoompetent Hermonymus, tion and publio sentiment, with “I found an old Greek,” thus Italian architects and decora