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be pointed out. We should observe, however, that we have not seen the French edition of this work. The translation is indifferent, and, in many passages, obscure and even ungrammatical.

ART. II. Lays of the Minnesingers or German Troubadours of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries: illustrated by Specimens of the cotemporary Lyric Poetry of Provence and other Parts of Europe with Historical and Critical Notices, and Engravings from the MS. of the Minnesingers in the King's Library at Paris, and from other Sources. 8vo. pp. 321. 14s. Boards. Longman and Co. 1825.


THE HERE are some doubts concerning the authenticity of most of the poems, which are here ascribed to German Troubadours. They form part of a collection for which, it is said, we are indebted to the taste and zeal of Rudiger Von Manesse, a senator of Zurich, who lived in the early part of the fourteenth century. His house was the resort of the learned, and his patronage of the muses is celebrated by Hadloub, one of the last of the Minnesingers *, who describes, in a ballad, the manner in which this collection was made. Rudiger, it is said, kept an album, in which he and his sons transcribed every German poem which they could obtain, either from tradition, or the lips of the bards themselves. It appears that one of those bards, Henry of Veldig, was a Low German, and that others were from districts in which the Suabian dialect was not used. Yet it is in that dialect that all these poems are composed. The Manesse family, it is suggested by the editor,


were of course likely to use the dialect of their own province.' Indeed! The Lays,' then, it is admitted, underwent some modifications in their hands. If they proceeded so far as to alter the original dialects, is it not probable that they retrenched, amplified, and perhaps fabricated? It would seem, also, that they made, or admitted into their collection, translations from the Troubadours of Provence. The subjects, sentiments, and allusions, are exactly similar to those which form the burden of Provençal poetry; and although they are imputed in the MS. to German minstrels, yet of several of those persons nothing whatever is known, and their names may be as fictitious as the verses which they are said to have produced. There is no internal or extrinsic evidence to the contrary. Again, it is a remarkable circumstance that, although nearly two centuries

Anglice, Love-singers.


elapsed between the earliest and the latest Minnesingers, there is no difference discoverable in the MS. as to their language and measure. This is by no means the case with the French Troubadours. The editor seems not unconscious of the difficulties which he has to get over; and he can scarcely suppose that he solves them when he says,

It seems very probable, however, that the same pieces circulated in various dialects, and that they owe their permanent character to the whim of the collector, as many of the authors (particularly the one who stands in the highest rank-Wolfram of Eschenbach) were unable even to write. To this cause it is perhaps to be attributed, too, that all the pieces in the Manesse MS. bear the same apparent age and perfection of language, although the work of poets at least a century and a half distant in point of time, and natives of provinces where various dialects were spoken.'

The MS. was written and illuminated in the style of the middle ages. Bodmer published a selection from it at Zurich, in 1748. The poems which are inserted in the volume before us, want variety; and it is to be regretted, that a greater number of specimens are not given, capable of bestowing light on the history of the times to which they are said to belong.

Subject to these observations, this work is nevertheless possessed of considerable claims on our attention. To the specimens is prefixed a dissertation, which is long and heavy, though it evinces some acquaintance with the romantic minstrelsy of Provençe, Catalonia, Castille, and Italy. We shall come at once to the fourth section, which treats of the principal object of the volume, the poetry of the Teutonic minstrels.

It required the wisdom of so powerful a monarch as Charlemagne to draw from obscurity the treasures which formed the literature of his German subjects. He gave stability to the language, by endeavoring to fix its grammar, and by bringing it into general use. But to give it all the consequence which it afterwards assumed, was a work of time and difficulty, arising from the passion which all the authors of that period had, for publishing their thoughts in Latin. Louis le Debonnaire piously banished from his court, the unholy subjects in which his people delighted; and by way of a substitute for the profane indulgence of which his morality had deprived them, he commanded a poetic version of the New Testament to be made, which was followed by a collection of scriptural tales, written in the language of the country. Under the Suabian emperors the Minnesingers rose to eminence. Frederic, surnamed the Red Beard, was himself a passionate admirer of the songs of the Provençaux, by whose taste he hoped to improve the


rougher style of his countrymen. He was popular and successful; and tradition has assigned him an employment (if such it may be called) worthy of his taste and habits, that of residing in a cavern of the Hartz, slumbering tranquilly upon his marble throne, and only awakening to reward some wandering brother of the lyre, whom chance, or curiosity, may conduct to his abode. The following epigram, said, by some, to be the composition of this Prince, by some to have been written for him, and by others ascribed to Frederic II., is given, as a curious commentary upon the times. We have made some alterations in the translation, for the sake of rendering it intelligible:

"Plas my cavallier Francés,
E la donna Catallana,
E l'onrar del Gynoés,

E la cour de Kastellana,
Lo cantar Provensallés,

E la dansa Trevizana,
E lo corps Aragonés,

E la perla Julliana,
Los mans e cara d'Anglés,

E lo donzel de Thuscana."

'I like a "cavalier Francés,"
And a Catalonian lady,
The courtesy of the Genoese,
And true Castilian dignity;
The Provence songs my ears do please;
I like the dance called Trevisan,
The graceful form of the Arragoneze,
And the pearl of the Julian,
An English hand and face, to see,
And a page of Tuscany."

Succeeding princes followed the track of Charlemagne and Frederic; and even the ruin of the house of Suabia did not entirely extinguish the spirit of minstrelsy. It existed till the fourteenth century, when the pedantic establishment of the "Song Schools" destroyed the play of fancy. These schools were nothing more or less than corporations, in which poetry was reduced to a trade, and, as such, was followed by the lowest orders of the people. Its ruin was inevitable; and its history is therefore a blank from the time of the Minnesingers down to the eighteenth century. The editor quotes the " Song of the Nibelungen," and a beautiful romance of Henry of Ofterdingen, called "Laurin, the Dwarf King; or, the little Garden of Roses," the account of which we give in his own words:

• Similt,

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Similt, the heroine of the poem, sallies forth with Dietlieb her brother to revel in the festive jollity of spring under the linden-tree in the forest. In the midst of their gaiety she is carried off by the little king, who avails himself of the aid of his tarn-cap, which has the power of rendering its wearer invisible, and bears off his prize to his retreat :

He bore her to his cave,
Where he ruled in royalty,
O'er hill and valley wide,
With his little chivalry.

Dietlieb and his knights pursue; and in their inquiries after the pigmy king, are informed of his exploits and power: they learn especially that his great pride is in a magnificent garden of roses, round which is drawn the protection of a silken line, and that any luckless wight who trespasses on his parterre rues the consequences of his aggression. The tale is repeated to Dietrich (Theoderic) of Bern (Verona) and Wittich his friend, and they immediately determine to brave the little monarch, by rifling his roses. On their arrival at the spot, however, Dietrich is ravished with the beauty of the scene: not so Wittich, who commences the work of destruction; the pride of the garden soon lies prostrate, and the heroes repose on the earth musing on their doughty exploit, when on a sudden the monarch appears :

Behold there came a little king

In warlike manner dight,
A king he was o'er many a land,
And Laurin was he hight.'-
His courser bounded like a fawn,
With golden trappings gay,
And costly gems, too, sparkled round,
Bright glittering as the day.'—

Around his waist a girdle fair

He wore of magic might,
The power of twelve the stoutest men
It gave him for the fight.'-

And on his crown, and on the helm,
Birds sing their merry lay,
The nightingale and lark did chaunt
Their melodies so gay.'

'A savage combat ensues; and when the King is obliged to yield to the superior force of Dietrich, he has recourse to the friendly tarn-cap, which removes him from fight, and enables him to strike with greater effect. Of this resource, however, accident deprives him, and at length a reconciliation is effected between the contending parties. The champions are then hospitably welcomed by the monarch, at his palace in the forest, which is described in some very pretty poetry.'


The editor remarks that the female sex is treated by the German and Provençal Troubadours in

a very different

manner :

The former appearing usually to restrain their mode of expressing their attachments within much more natural and reasonable bounds, and to content themselves with assigning to woman a superior rank in the scale of society, without bowing so lowly down to her temporal and spiritual authority, or erecting such an extravagant scale of dominion as it pleased the minstrels of Provence to assign to her.'

And in consequence of this moderation, the German poetry is more chaste, tender, and delicate, the Troubadours much oftener requiring the pruning hand of the selector for modern eyes, whenever they emerge from their cold and fanciful conceits.'

On the other hand, he allows the more classic taste of the Provençaux, and the sedate and plaintive style in which their lyric pieces are written, in opposition to the wild and energetic manner of the Germans.

We now come to the selections from the works of the Minnesingers. The first of these, which is distinguished for its joyous spirit, and begins,

May, sweet May, again is come,' our readers may remember to have seen in the Number of this Review for December last,

Then follow selections from "Henry of Rispach, or, The virtuous Clerk," from the celebrated Wolfram of Eschenbach, (though nothing worthy of his name is given,) from the Emperor Henry, and others. The most delightful poet of the band is, perhaps, Dietmar of Ast.* He lived in the thirteenth century, and the following stanzas are of his composition:


By the heath stood a lady
All lonely and fair,
As she watch'd for her lover
A falcon flew near.
"Happy falcon !" she cried,
"Who can fly where he list,
And can choose in the forest
The tree he loves best!
"Thus, too, had I chosen

One knight for mine own,
Him my eye had selected,
Him priz'd I alone.

See also in the Number for December the lines commencing

There sat upon the linden-tree,'

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said to have been written by this bard.

REV. AUG. 1825.



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