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ported, unless typified and inculcated by the ceremony and the banner-by“ pomp, pride, and circumstance;” but in these comparatively quiet times it is kept alive in the musings of the contemplatist, and is unconsciously imbibed by the noble and high-born in silence,
“Unnois’d by the rude breath of fame." The loquacity of the world consists of unmeaning and narrow politics, petty scandal, and common-place criticism ; to wander beyond matter-of-fact, or the news of the day, would be against all the rules of good-breeding; and that portion of romantic feeling, which is at present in the world, is reserved for the pillow and the closet, and comes forth in the unassuming page of the poem and the novel.
In a civilized age this spirit can exist without the aid of marvel and enchantment, and may be embodied in the scenes of real life :-in a rude age it could not be so. All the early attempts at simple fiction are compelled to make up in licentiousness what they want in the marvellous : such is the case with the fabliaur, which succeeded the early romances, and much tended to corrupt the purer strain of sentiment breathed by the latter.
As zeal subsided both in imaginative writers and their auditors, (the early romances having been intended to be spoken or sung), the demand was for prose, and translations were greedily devoured by those who would not undertake the fatigue of reading the works in their metrical state. “ It is a whimsical fact," says Ellis, “ that the same fables, which were discredited when in verse, were again on their transfusion into prose received without suspicion. It should seem that falsehood is generally safe from detection when concealed under a sufficient cloak of dullness." This is rather splenetic on the part of the criticfalsehood and dullness are coarse and unjust synonymes for fable
But proportionably as real character is altered by the progress of society, the ideal is also. The French courtier and intriguante ceased to be interested with the heroes and heroines of old romance; they sought a more tranquil and less stately fiction, and novelty was welcomed with unusual popularity. Amyot's translation of the Greek romance of Theagenes and Chariclea, which appeared in 1547, went through ten editions before the end of the sixteenth century.
When the war and agitation occasioned by the ambition of the Guises had ceased, the establishment of the gallant Henry on his throne gave the appearance of a golden age to a nation just breathing from dissension and slaughter. This prepared the national taste for the bergeries—the pictures of rural and tranquil life, which soon became fashionable. They were
“ and re
seemingly imported from Spain during the close connexion of the league with that country, where the Diana of Montemayor, and the Galatea of Cervantes, were at the height of popularity. In imitation of these, D'Urfé, a French nobleman, composed his “ Astrea," where, under the guise of shepherds and shepherdesses, all the court scandals and amours are related; it is a curious mixture of intrigue and innocence, of pastoral and heroic. Nevertheless it was a step to improvement,—" it gave a new form to romance,” according to Fontenelle, called the decorum and sentiment which appeared to have been banished altogether.” It was published in, and subsequent to 1610: a whole host of imitators followed it; and Segrais says, that till his time all the Piéces de Théatre were taken from the Astrea.
But we are going over a ground often traced by more able pens, and know not how we got into the track, having indulged at first in a few generalities, by way of introduction to a review of the novels of Madame La Fayette. But as the heroic romance is the link between the bergeries and the compositions of that lady, it may be as well to touch upon them now, and defer our remarks upon Madame La Fayette to a future time. From the various character of the bergeries, critics have been much puzzled to assign the sources whence they arose, being compounded of classic, Moorish, and romantic fiction ; but their moral causes are acutely detailed by Fontenelle.
“The French had just emerged from the troubles of the Fronde -a war, to say the least of it, ridiculous, commenced and persevered in without object or plan, and terminated by transactions equally disgraceful to both parties. All Paris had been engaged in it, and all ranks of people, from the highest to the lowest, found themselves, to their astonishment, with sword in hand. Skirmishes passed daily-every one was busied recounting and exaggerating his exploits—there was nothing else spoken ofmen, women, and even infants, were seized with the universal enthusiasm. These circumstances had not a little contributed to elevate people's thoughts above their level; a tinge of warlike heroism was spread over society, which was not likely to be dissipated in the midst of the brilliant triumphs of a young and victorious court; and gallantry, ever attached to the steps of glory, was not left behind by its companion. This general disposition of taste gave rise to the heroic romances, and ensured their success, while D'Urfé for some time fell into total neglect.”
of the long-winded story and style here spoken of, the English reader has seen sufficient in its offspring--the dramatic
* Cours de Belles Lettres, tom. iv. p. 207. NO. VIII.
productions of Charles the Second and William's reign-of Dryden and Lee, unless he has had the hardihood to wade through the Parthenissa of Lord Orrery, the only English Roman de la longue haleine. These compositions, as well as their predecessor in popularity-the Astrea, owed most of that popularity to the covert delineations of distinguished living characters, and supplied, for a while, the place of the Memoirs and Anas, in which the French nation abounded. The rules of valour and courtesy, chastity and hauteur, so simply inculcated in the old romances, were, in the heroic, refined and wire-drawn to the most subtle distinctions: the love-dialogue of the latter answered the tournament of the former, and skill in argument with the knowledge of all the niceties of feeling, seem more necessary to the heroic hero than even a stout arm and irresistible spear. This spirit was kept up by the
tone that pervaded the fashionable society of the Hotel de Rambouillet ; but those male and female bas bleus soon passed away, and yielded the ascendancy of social life (then, and in that nation, of the greatest importance) to a more rational assembly, - Huet, Segrais, Callieres, La Fontaine, Madame de Sevigné, Le Duc de Rochefoucault, and Madame La Fayette : all of whom had been previously more or less intimate with the coterie of Madame de Rambouillet. From this society may be said to spring the modern novel, as though the Princesse de Cleves, &c. are attributed to one name, there is no doubt that the very work of composition was a divided task; and the sentiment prevalent throughout them seems to be but their conversation embodied. The very mention of Rochefoucault, as one of the members, is sufficient to account for their discarding the sentiment and style ampoulé, and letting themselves down to a parallel with common sense.
Among the fopperies, the Nugæ difficiles, which in the dark ages supplied the place of learning and taste, there were none more remarkable, none on which inore labour was wasted to less useful purpose, than the Palindromes, or Canorine, or recurrent verses, as they were called, from their reading the same, letter by letter, backwards and forwards.
The difficulty, however, of this species of composition was an effectual barrier to the generality of its study, and the number of its examples. Indeed, whoever attempts to compose a Palindrome line, will be surprised that there should be so many on record.
We have thought it might amuse our readers, to see the specimens of this fanciful species of verse which we have been able to collect. We have, therefore, classed them under their different languages, and
will give the precedence, as in duty bound, to the ancient Greek. One only in this language is generally known, and this, owing to the length of one of its words, would possess as much merit as the surmounting of difficulty can bestow, were it not spoiled by a violation of grammar which is equally inexcusable and incurable. It was inscribed on a marble Benitier in the church of Notre Dame at Paris, and runs as follows :
NIYON ANOMAMATA, MH MONAN OYIN.
Wash your sins, not your countenance alone. The classical reader will see that the rules of grammar are broken, by the substitution of the adjective Monan for the adverb MONON.
Latin, being the language in which the composition of these lines is the most easy (from its containing both so many words which spell the same backwards and forwards, and so many which bear one sense when read forwards and another backwards) is that in which they are generally recognized to abound most copiously. It is also the language in which they first appeared, having been invented by Sotădes, a Roman poet, who lived about 250 years before Christ. He having degraded his muse by devoting her to obscenity, Sotadea Carmina became the general name for verse of that disgusting character. The few of his lines which are cited by Quintilian are well known :
Roma, tibi subito motibus ibit amor,
Sole medere pede, ede, perede inelos.
Odo tenet mulum, madidam mulum tenet Odo,
Anna tenet mappam, madidam mappam tenet Anna. The following recurrent lines were composed by Paschasias, as an epitaph on Henry IV.:
Arca serenum me gere regem, munere sacra,
Solem, arcas, animos, omina sacra, melos. But these two last specimens have too little sense to deserve much notice.
For the most beautiful example we must turn to the annals of our own country, and to a woman. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth, when the education of women rendered them frequently superior to the other sex, a lady being banished the court from a suspicion of her being too familiar with a great lord in favour, gave this device. The moon covered by a cloud, and the following Palindrome for a motto:
Ablata at Alba.
(Secluded but pure.) The merit of this kind of composition was never in any example of which we know so heightened by appropriateness and delicacy of sentiment.
In English but one Palindrome line is known; at least, James Harris, who had deeply studied our language, could discover no more; and that one is only procured by a quaintness of spelling in one word, and the substitution of a figure for another :
Lewd did I live, & evil I did dwel. Our own observation confirms the difficulty of composing them in our own language, which this rarity implies. We have frequently laboured at arrangements of words which would form an English Palindrome line, but always unsuccessfully, which surprised us, as we have in English so many Palindrome words.
There is another species of Palindrome, verbal but not literal, of which, as it must be supposed to be less difficult, we are surprised to find no more than two examples. The first of these is the following eulogy of Hippocrates :
Ιπποκρατης φαος ην μεροπων, και εθνεα λαων
Σωστο, και μεροπων ην φαος Ιπποκράτης. But a much more ingenious verbal Palindrome is copied, in Misson's Voyage to Italy, from the old cloister of Santa Marca Novella at Florence :
Sacrum pingue dabo, non miacrum sacrificabo. This hexameter line is applied to the sacrifice of Abel; but, on being read backward, it becomes a pentameter applicable to that of Cain
Sacrificabo macrum, non dabo pingue sacrum. Both are Leonine verses, as Latin rhymes were called, from Leo, a writer of the twelfth century; though some suppose their invention to be of an earlier period. We cannot, however, in praising the double applicability of this line, forget that the sacrifice of Cain was not a living victim.
But we have reserved for our climax the last and the most extraordinary effort in the composition of Palindromes that has appeared in print. It is a poem of which we possess a copy, called nibomma Kapxıvıxdu, * written in ancient Greek, by a modern Greek named Ambrosius, printed in Vienna in 1802, and dedicated to the Emperor Alexander. It contains 455 lines, every one of which is a literal Palindrome. The arrangement of the words is, of course, frequently forced, the allusions far-fetched, and the sense difficult to discover; but they are by no means what are called nonsense verses ; for, by close attention, and the assistance of the notes, every one of them may be construed. We subjoin a few of the lines, which we have selected as the most easy to be construed :
"Ωναξ ες , έθετο τι Θεος εξ άνω.
This poem is slightly alluded to by Choisenl Gouffier, in his “ resque de la Grèce.'