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A Survey of Western art in relation to its audience would suggest to an empirical æsesthetician that a degree of structural raggedness usually accompanies, if it does not actually constitute, artistic superiority. The trouble comes not, as often presumed, from difficulty in defining form, but from difficulty in experiencing it. Just as one art-lover may have a finer sense of line than another, with perhaps a weaker sense of color, so we may safely conclude from ubiquitous evidence that the perception of artistic form is a similarly variable factor. Disputes continually arise between those who derive a strong aesthetic experience from organic form in art and those who simply do not know what the others are talking about, and mistake genre, or type, or mechanical division for form. Either group may nourish the fallacy that an artist preoccupied with form is indifferent to almost everything else.
Lamennais a rendu actuel le Pascal romantique lancé par Chateau briand, et La Chênaie fut en sorte le Port-Royal du Romantisme. Pascal et Lamennais, comme le rapprochement était facile, émouvant et séduisant! Aussi, l'époque romantique a chaleureusement lié deux noms que les circonstances dramatiques de l'évolution spirituelle de Lamennais ont finalement déliés. Le désir de cette identité était tellement général que, malgré l'évidence, on a longtemps persévéré à les considérer comme solidaires l'un de l'autre.
Among the Blackwood Papers left by the late George William Black-wood to the National Library of Scotland are some eighty pages entitled “Original manuscript of the Chaldee MS. by James Hogg, The Ettrick Shepherd, with his Letters relating to it; also Mr. Blackwood's notes thereon, and other Letters....” The National Library of Scotland has most generously sent me microfilms of this material.
1 A book of engravings published by Blackwood. Patrick Fraser Tytler discusses the work in Blackwood's Magazine (Nov., 1817), ii, 205.
If Contemporary critics are inclined to see William Cowper as “first and foremost … an Evangelical preacher”,1 the tradition (though not in every respect the judgment) is well founded. Significantly enough, the first serious biographical interpretation of the poet was not a biography at all but an Evangelical sermon preached by the Reverend Samuel Greatheed at Olney on May 18, 1800, shortly after Cowper's death. Greatheed was one of the pupils of the Reverend William Bull— Cowper's beloved “smoke-inhaling Bull”—at his academy in Newport Pagnell for the training of members in the Independent Church; he was a friend and correspondent of Cowper in the last years of the poet's life; and he became one of the first editors of the Eclectic Review when it was founded in 1805.4 The sermon was preached while Greatheed was supply pastor for the Reverend Thomas Hillyard's Independent Congregation in Olney, and it was shortly afterward published at Newport Pagnell and in London.3 In the year of its publication, it appeared in digested form in the Evangelical Magazine4 and quotations from it formed the bulk of “An Account of the Life and Death of William Cowper” in the Gospel Magazine and Theological Review.6 For the next three years it became the basic source of Evangelical comment on Cowper in periodicals and in at least two “memoirs” in book form. However, in spite of its interest as an early biographical source, its importance is greater as an opening gun in the long (and even yet inconclusive) warfare engaged in by critics and biographers over the part that Evangelicalism or Methodism played in Cowper's madness.
Fanny Burney's diaries and the reading lists to be found in her unpublished notebooks and memorandum books yield many references to the courtesy writers and to the courtesy books and allied works widely read in her age. The date of Lord Chesterfield's Letters to his Son, often taken as the culminating point in studies of the courtesy literature for men, marks the beginning of an accelerated production of courtesy books for women. In 1759 Thomas Marriott, the author of Female Conduct, was rejoicing that “such an agreeable Theme” should have been so long reserved for him. As far as he could remember, “very few [had] touched this Subject in Prose, and None in Verse” to any appreciable length before him, so that he was able to appropriate, as he thought, an uncultivated “Spot of Ground in Parnassus.”1 In the following decades, however, the problem of the conduct of the young lady was investigated so thoroughly that the lifetime of Fanny Burney, or more accurately the years 1760–1820, which saw also the rise of the novel of manners, might be called the age of courtesy books for women.
The bibliographers of Gothic fiction have almost entirely overlooked the literature of the periodicals from 1770–1820, although they were one of the important channels of publication and afford many examples of the species. Montague Summers' so-called Gothic Bibliography, in most respects recklessly inclusive, lists only two romances from the Lady's Monthly Museum out of more than a dozen published there, and one from the Monthly Mirror, but otherwise ignores the numerous Gothic novels, novelettes, and short stories which figure in the magazines between The Romance of the Forest (1791) and Waverley (1814) -1 Jakob Brauchli lists 491 examples of English schauerromane published between 1764 and 1851—many of them known only by title— but takes no account whatsoever of periodical fiction.2 Yet the magazine literature of Gothicism is considerable, and in some respects distinctive; and much of it, although at present unknown, is more readily available in American libraries than the volumes issued by the Minerva Press. With research a hundred titles of Gothic novels and short stories could probably be added to Brauchli's 491, from the magazines alone. The great majority of these are unlisted anywhere.
A casual reading of the Pensées is apt to leave one with the conviction that Pascal held Montaigne in low esteem. When Montaigne's name appears, it is usually coupled with a word of disapproval. And yet, as everyone knows who has studied the sources of the Pensées, Pascal owes more to Montaigne than to any other writer. Nearly every one of the most famous fragments contains at least a passing allusion to the Essais, and many owe their whole idea, even their expression, to Montaigne. The editors have duly noted these debts, until, as Léon Brun-schvicg says, an edition of the Pensées becomes almost inevitably a partial reëdition of the Essais.1 Even in the matter of style, Montaigne seems to have exerted a considerable influence. It is evident, then, that Pascal read Montaigne carefully and extensively, that he was profoundly impressed by him, and that he saw much in him to admire. On the other hand it is equally evident, from the explicit criticisms, that he found Montaigne distasteful, even reprehensible. How can we explain this double attitude? The present paper is an attempt to do so.
It seems strikingly modern on the one hand to seek elements of individualism and irrationalism in Lessing, and thus to view him as a precursor of the Storm and Stress movement, while at the same time pointing up how great a revolt from the rationalist Lessing this new generation constitutes.1 Actually, as Annemarie Sauerlander has pointed out to me, James Russell Lowell in 1867, writing a review of Stahr's work on Lessing, stated that Lessing “may be said to have begun the revolt from pseudo-classicism in poetry, and to have been thus unconsciously the founder of romanticism”, but he immediately added: “It may be doubted whether the immediate effect on literature of his own critical essays was so great as Herr Stahr supposes. Surely Gölz and The Robbers are nothing like what he would have called Shakespearean, and the whole Sturm und Drang tendency would have roused in him nothing but antipathy.”2 The standard biographies of Lessing, such as Danzel-Guhrauer, Erich Schmidt, and Oehlke, have tended to enlarge on the chasm separating Lessing from Storm and Stress, while some monographs and more general works3 have emphasized evolution, rather than revolution, as the dynamic force operative on German literature, at least throughout the eighteenth century.4
The autograph MS. of El principe despenado was signed in Madrid November 27, 1602.1 Noteworthy features of the MS. are the great amount of marginal annotation to be found thereon, and the numerous passages which have been boxed off or otherwise marked for omission. Such indications almost certainly do not proceed from the pen of Lope, but are rather the rehearsal notations of some autor who wished to abbreviate the play, omit certain characters from the cast, or otherwise adapt it for presentation on the stage. In no case does the cancellation of a passage give evidence of being prompted by aesthetic motives. In all, some thirty-one passages have been bracketed, comprising 332 verses. It is not usual to find such extensive tampering in Lope's autograph comedias; there is an equal abundance, however, in the autograph of El cuerdo loco, which Lope wrote in the same year as the Principe despenado and which, as we shall see, very probably figured with it in the repertory of the Pedro de Valdés-Antonio de Granados troupe.2
Critical comment on Romeo and Juliet in the past hundred and seventy-five years has made two of Shakespeare's alleged errors in that play loom above all others. These I shall call the trespasses of Friars Laurence and John: Friar Laurence, it is said, talks too much and thus detains the final curtain; Friar John enters a house suspected of contagion and, much too conveniently, is detained. My general purpose here is to examine the two problems within a single frame, for I believe they must be so reviewed if the validity of long-standing charges is to be fully tested. Furthermore, although the incident of Friar John is the graver “fault”, my review of that problem is undertaken in part as a means of approach to the lesser “fault”, the speech of Friar Laurence. Refined, then, my primary purpose is to focus some more light on the latter problem. Although the ground is widely familiar, I shall first summarize and briefly document critical opinion on each problem in order to define the issues sharply and to make assurance doubly sure that no reader will suppose that I have invented them.
The comparative scarcity of evidence as to dramatic performances of saints' miracles in mediæval England has frequently been the subject of comment. The only surviving independent texts of separate plays are those of Mary Magdalen, St. Paul, and the Cornish Meriasek; and the list of recorded performances is far from impressive. Particularly noticeable is the almost complete lack of evidence of such independent Miracles of Our Lady as would correspond to the amazing French series of Miracles de Notre Dame.1 The Lincoln play of the Assumption (sometimes Ascension) and Coronation of Our Lady, undertaken by the cathedral clergy over a long period, and, perhaps, as time went on, linked with the municipal St. Anne's play, is unusual.2 But, if self-contained plays of the Virgin Mary are notable mainly by their absence, there is ample evidence of a well-established group of Death and Assumption of Mary plays within the framework of the regular Corpus Christi cycles. Texts of such groups have survived in the York Register3 and in the Ludus Coventriœ.* Records of such plays occur at Newcastle, where the Burial of the Virgin was played by the masons;6 at Beverley where the priests, and at Aberdeen where the tailors were responsible for the Coronation of Our Lady;6 and, as we shall see, at York. At York, too, as elsewhere, certain features, at least, of the Assumption Play seem to have been incorporated in royal entry civic celebrations.
One of the most important recent publications in the field of late mediaeval literature is Eugène Vinaver's edition of The Works of Sir Thomas Malory,1 which has made available a more accurate text for the study of Malory's writings than any scholar has previously had at his disposal. As Vinaver points out in the Preface to this work (i, vi), his edition, which is based on the recently discovered Winchester MS.,2 is much closer to what Malory actually wrote than is Caxton's emended version, and consequently invalidates many conjectures made by those who have known Malory only as he is presented by Caxton. A careful examination of this MS. and a painstaking comparison of it with the sources on which Malory drew have caused Vinaver to reverse several opinions that he previously supported by cogent argument3 and have led him to two general conclusions: (1) that Malory's writings should not be regarded as a unified account of the rise and fall of King Arthur and the Round Table, but rather as eight separate romances whose subjects were drawn independently from the Arthurian cycle (I, XXIX-XXXV) and (2) that the order of composition of the tales was not in the sequence presented by both Caxton and the Winchester MS., since evidence shows (I, XXV-XL) that the story of the war with Rome, which Vinaver calls the Tale of the Noble King Arthur and the Emperor Lucius (Caxton Book v), was written before the Tale of King Arthur (Caxton Books I, II, III, and IV).4
With no immediate source of Chaucer's Prioress' Tale yet brought to light, postulations about the nature of this source, such as may be tentatively formulated from a study of the thirty-two available analogues of the miracle, have been made in order to estimate the extent and artistry of Chaucer's contribution to this tale of the little clergeon. Carleton Brown in his admirable studies published in 1910 and 1941 traced the development of the legend from what he considered the most primitive stage through Chaucer's story and the analogues which resemble it most closely. For this purpose Brown divided the thirty-three versions into three groups, A, B, and C, each of which represents a distinct form of the miracle and a distinct pattern of events.
Despite the fact that the interpretive literature on Chaucer's Knight's Tale is extensive, the poem has remained one of the most baffling of the Canterbury Tales. It has resisted satisfactory interpretation where poems of much more complicated structure—as the Merchant's Tale—and much more varied style—as the Nun's Priest's Tale—-have yielded brilliant results to criticism. The critics of the past fifty years have lacked neither learning nor ingenuity, but somehow their interpretations remain marked by a characteristic indecisiveness—made particularly evident where equally acute analyses produce conflicting and contradictory results—and by a simplicity that does not do justice to the poem and its five hundred years of popularity. It is possible that this critical unsuccess is owing to an error of perspective, that the poem has been generally examined and evaluated in the light of assumptions which are not central to its method. It is the purpose of the present essay to establish this as more than a possibility, and to suggest a viewpoint from which the poem may be seen to have a coherence and fullness of meaning which the traditional critics have hardly touched upon.
The purpose of this paper is to give an example of the manner in which aesthetic criticism may also serve the needs of historical and philological criticism. As an example of procedure, a specific Old French prose romance is to be studied from an aesthetic as well as from an historical point of view. One main question will be raised with regard to each episode of the romance: “What is the purpose of this episode in the context of the narrative?” While the episodes have meaning in themselves, many episodes will acquire additional meaning from their position among the others. Consideration will be given the structure of the romance as a source for the understanding of the entire plot. This method of approach, the derivation of meaning from structure, may be said to follow a principle of aesthetic criticism. If the results obtained by such an approach seem acceptable, the method can be justified on aesthetic grounds. More difficult to settle, however, and the main concern of this inquiry, is the problem of whether or not such a method can lead to the finding of data valuable not only to the aesthetic critic but also to the historian and the philologist.
Structurally parallel derivatives from a given primitive (such as Lat. TENEBR-ICUS beside TENEBR-OSUS, Fr. verd-eur beside verdure, OSp. trist-eza beside trist-ura) in the historical perspective mostly turn out to have been successive rather than simultaneous offshoots.1 As long as such formations are studied merely in word lists illustrating the ranges of the individual suffixes that go into their making, the historical sequence of events is bound to pass unnoticed or, at least, not to remain fully discernible. To shed light on the relative chronology, it is advisable to select, as an appropriate unit of inquiry, the growth of separate word families showing sufficient proliferation of derivatives. The implicit severe limitation of scope allows the explorer to focus attention on the constantly changing interrelations between the nuclear formation of each family (the primitive) and its satellites in a number of carefully selected, clearly defined cases, in which adequate documentation can be furnished and the number of unknowns in historical reconstruction is reducible to the barest minimum. These shifts are in accord with the observable semantic expansions and contractions of the radical element and the ceaselessly changing availability of formatives, which, in turn, gradually experience extensions and reductions of their original scopes, proportionate to the number of currently used derivatives in which they are represented (to the extent to which they can be individuated and detached by untutored speakers). The linguistic historian can thus work out an intricate pattern of attractions and repulsions between radical and formatives. If his interest broadens out into culture history, he is further able, in the concrete case of the Hispano-Latin lexicon, to follow the (frequently tortuous) course of an important word-family, including all its ramifications, over a period of two thousand years, with the aim of distinguishing between the services that each member of the word-family, through incessant readjustment, has lent to consecutive generations of speakers, each in search of new expressions for newly-felt needs.