ePub 版

were to be held were preparing, they exhibited along the cloisters of the neighbouring monasteries, the armorial bucklers of those who were to enter the lists, and they remained there many days exposed to the curiosity and examination of the lords, ladies, and damsels. A herald, or pursuivant at arms, named to the ladies the owners of the bucklers; and if, amongst the candidates, any one were found who had given a lady just cause of complaint, she touched his helmet or buckler, to point him out to the judges of the tournament, that is, to demand justice on him. The latter, after having made the necessary inquiries, were to pronounce judgement; and when the crime was judicially proved, punishment followed immediately. And if, in spite of the ordinance which in such cases excluded him, the knight presented himself at the tournament, a shower of blows from all the knights present, and perhaps from the ladies themselves, punished hiin for his temerity, and taught him to respect the honour of women and the laws of chivalry. The mercy of the dames, which he was to claim with a loud voice, was alone capable of placing him beyond the resentment of the knights."

"I will not give a description of the lists for the tournament, or of the tents and superb pavilions with which the whole country round was covered, or of the scaffolding erected round that course in which so many brave and noble personages were to distinguish themselves. I will not specify the various kinds of combats,—the Joust, the Castile, the Passage of Arms, and the Melee,—it will be sufficient to observe, that these scaffoldings, generally constructed in the form of towers, were divided into a kind of stair-cases and lodges, decorated with all possible magnificence of rich carpetings, pavilions, banners, streamers, and cushions. In these were plaqed the kings, queens, princes, and princesses, with their courts, ladies, and damsels, and, lastly, those ancient knights, whom long experience in the management of arms had rendered competent judges. These respectable old men, whose great age no longer permitted them to distinguish themselves, were touched with tenderness by the sight of the gallant youths before them, and saw the regeneration of their antiquated valour in their brave deeds."

"The richness of the dresses and jewels contributed likewise to increase the brilliancy of the spectacle. Judges named for the occasion, field marshals, and counsellors, had places assigned them in various parts of the course, who might maintain, by their authority, the laws of tournaments and chivalry in the field of battle, as well as afford their advice or assistance to such as stood in need of either. A number of kings' heralds, and pursuivants at arms, who were scattered about amongst the crowd, had their eyes fixed upon the combatants, in order to give a faithful report of the blows given and received."

"A crowd of minstrels, likewise, with all kinds of instruments of warlike music, were always in readiness to celebrate those who distinguished themselves; and active varlets were ordered to keep moving about on all sides, to furnish the warriors with arms, and to maintain silence and respect in the populace."

"The sound of trumpets announced the arrival of the knights, superbly armed and equipped, and followed by their squires on horseback: they advanced with a slow step, and a grave, majestic countenance. Ladies and damoisels sometimes led these proud slaves into the ranks, bound together with chains, and did not set them free till, having entered the place enclosed for combat, they were ready to rush upon their antagonist. The title of slave or servitor of a lady, whom each knight named aloud on entering the tourney, was a title of honour not to be acquired but by noble exploits, and was regarded by him who bore it as a certain gage of victory. In a ballad, composed for the tourney held at St. Denys, under Charles VI., in the beginning of May, 1389, the poet thus addresses the knights:

"Servants of love! O, softly view

In yonder towers those angels bright;
Then joust like gallant knights and true,—

And loved and cherished be this night."

"To this title, the ladies commonly condescended to add what they termed a favour, or ensign: this was a scarf, hood, veil, sleeve, mantle, bracelet, or buckle—something, in short, taken from their dress or ornaments. The favoured knight ornamented the summit of his helmet, or point of his lance, or his buckler, or coat of arms, with this ensign. By the fortune of arms, these precious favours often passed into the power of an enemy; and in such case, the lady sent others to her knight, to console him for his loss, to excite him to vengeance, and to carry off in turn the favours with which his enemies were adorned. These it was his duty to lay at her feet. When a knight had inadvertently violated the laws of battle, and drawn the arms of many adversaries upon him, the ladies' champion, armed with a long pike or lance, surmounted by a hood, advanced, and had no sooner lowered it over his head, in token of the clemency and safeguard of the dames, than no one was permitted to touch the delinquent. It was also considered but right, that the dames, who were the very soul of these combats, should be celebrated in a particular manner, and therefore the tournament was concluded with a joust, which was called the ladies' lance. In this joust, the knights piqued themselves upon displaying their utmost courage and skill."

The tournament being ended, the prize was adjudged; and the lady, chosen by the officers at arms to bear it to the victor, was compelled to allow him a kiss. This was the height of his triumph. From the field of glory he was then conducted to a palace, clothed in magnificent robes, seated in the most honourable place at table, and waited on by the ladies themselves. "In the midst of all this glory," says Sainte-Palaye, "he often stood in need of being reminded that he was but man."

A word or two of their manner of conducting themselves in real warfare, and we come to the closing scene.

"When the knights were mounted upon their war horses, and had come to blows, the squires ranged themselves behind their masters, to whom they had delivered their swords, and remained almost idle spectators of the battle. And this usage might easily be preserved, from the manner in which the cavalry was ranged, in one long line, resembling a hedge, according to the expression of the times, backed by another line of squires. Though not engaged in offensive war, the squires were, however, employed in the preservation of their masters. In the terrible shock of the two adverse lines of knights, rushing upon each other with their couched lances, numbers were overthrown and wounded; and these, raising themselves up, snatched their swords, battle-axes, or clubs, to defend or avenge themselves; while others endeavoured to seize every possible advantage over their fallen enemies. On these occasions, the squires were attentive to the movements of their masters—furnishing them with new arms, warding off the blows which might be aimed at them, or bringing fresh horses for renewed combat. To the squires, likewise, the knights confided whatever prisoners they made in the field."

From the field of battle the natural transition is to the tomb: and here we cannot forbear remarking, that SaintePalaye seems somewhat out of humour with his subject, as he draws near this cold closing scene of chivalric glory. He does not indulge us with a sufficiently minute detail of the pomp attendant on the knight's passage to his "narrow bed," but ungenerously becoming brief at once, refers the reader for further particulars to the monk of St. Denys.

"We have taken the knight nearly at his coming out of the cradle; we have followed him through all the adventures of his life— it remains for us to consider him in the arms of death, which alone could put a period to so many glorious labours. We refer the reader to the description which the monk of St. Denys has left us of the burial of the constable du Guesclin, the real flower of knighthood, and to that chapter of La Colombiere, which treats of the funeral pomp with which a knight was honoured—of the ornaments of their tombs—of the different positions which were given to their effigies, to their swords, bucklers, and helmets, according to the more or less glorious circumstances which accompanied their death, whether it took place in war, in battle, in the crusades, or in the bosom of peace; whether conquerors, or vanquished and captive. According to Andre Favin, in his Theatre of Honour and Chivalry, those who died after having undertaken a crusade, though it might not be accomplished, in honour of their motives were borne to the earth in their armour, with their legs crossed one upon the other. They were represented in the same attitude upon their tombs; as may be seen, says he, in the cloisters of the ancient monasteries of France and Flanders. Thus, that glory which the knights had always cherished and sought so eagerly, followed them to their tombs."*

Such was the career of knighthood—such were the virtues, vices, and manners of our ancestors—and such was the general state of society from the eleventh century to the reign of Louis the Eleventh, and the extinction of the house of Burgundy.

Art. IX. — Alazono-Mastix: or, the Character of a Cockney: in a Satyricall Poem. Dedicated (as a New-Year's-gift) to the Apprentices of London. By Junius Anonymus, a London Apprentice.

Capiat qui capere potest.

The cockneys eat their breakfasts in their beds,
And spend the day in dressing of their heads.
Tho' God in mercy may do much to save them,
Yet what a case are they in that shall have them?

London, printed by R. T. 1651. 4to.pp. 16.

This pamphlet, like the letters of Junius, professes to be written by one of the community to whom it is addressed. The youths, for whose welfare the rhymer expresses such anxiety, were, at that time, an important body, not absolutely incorporated, but so closely united in interests and opinions, as to constitute a formidable party in the city. They had distinguished themselves in the war, and been noticed by the parliament, flattered by the diurnals, and fondled by partial historians,t till they began to imitate the fashions of the west,

* " The funerals of those ages were conducted with great pomp and expense, and the great lords frequently bequeathed by will enormous sums for this purpose. There was a singular custom observed at the burial of barons and other knights—a living man, armed cap-apie, representing the defunct, was procured to recline in the state bed, which was always borne at these interments. In an account of the expences of the house of Polignac, we find, that in 1375, five sous were paid to Blaize for having acted the dead knight, at the funeral of John, son of Randonnet Armand, Vicompte de Polignac."

De Vaisettes Hist, of Languedoc. t Vicars, Ricraft, &c.

with those "extasies and raptures" which their poet so earnestly blames.

"To whom (he says) may I better presume to offer this small pamphlet, than to yourselves? for whose sake it obtained its original being, and if it be any ways serviceable to you, in defending you as a bulwark against all the enticing allurements of that generation of vipers (for as the viper is the death of its parents, so do these vipers undo more in this city by their exorbitancies, than all other casualties whatsoever) I shall have attained the utmost limits of my ambition. . . . . Peradventure, it may seem strange, that one of our profession should dare to adventure upon the public stage in this scribbling age; yet what I have written, I have written; and if any shall expect apologies, they are like to be frustrate of their expectation; I am confident I shall offend none, but such as are conscious of their own guilt: and it is below my genius to crave pardon of them. I dare not enlarge, lest I should make the porch so great, that the house run out at the doors: I shall only add, that if you please to extend the benevolent aspect of your favour to this poor pamphlet, it shall engage me to requite you with something that shall be more worthy of your acceptation."

This threat of another publication appears to have been a mere bravado, for, as we shall see, the writer had deprived his work of an extensive sale, by offending a numerous body, whose voices, as the pseudo-moralist, Chesterfield, has observed, are more often counted than weighed. The citizen of the world is the only person who can write satire with impunity :—will the Oxford Spy ensure academical distinction to its author, or The Mohocks conciliate a scornful public? The castigator of the Cocknies was probably aware, that to attack his masters or companions was more dangerous than profitable; but the females, under whose control he was not placed, could not exercise the same method of revenge. With real misogyny and pretended philanthropy, he describes, in fluent decasyllabics, the faults of the city dames,* although others were equally open to his censure. But there appears, through his assumed morality, a morbid recollection of something he must have wished to conceal, and, as he abuses both the married and the single, his advances might have been slighted in more than one quarter. To enhance his professions of sincerity, he assures us, thajt tbis was his first attempt, and we are inclined to believe him.

* In the Tales and Jests of Hugh Peters, observations of the same nature occur.

« 上一頁繼續 »