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In the words of Dante, “Carlo Magno perdè la santa gesta”; he lost it thru the base treachery of his brother-in-law, Ganelon. Ganelon became a traitor, we have been told, first, because of bribes, and, second, because of his hatred of Roland. As Gaston Paris formulated it, “In the beginning, Ganelon was a traitor only because he was bought by the gold of the pagans; later on, they rendered the situation more interesting and at the same time increased the importance of Roland by adding the motive of the hatred of Ganelon against Roland.” Thus far, nearly all have been agreed; but when we go a step further and ask, What was the cause of this hatred, the answers vary: simply because the two men were step-father and step-son, says one; because Roland nominated Ganelon to a fearfully dangerous mission, says another. The second of these two reasons has the support of Ganelon's own statement at his trial, at least of his second statement, for he makes two, as will be recalled. His first statement, being a riddle, has been generally left out of consideration: it is the purpose of this paper to advance the idea, based upon a new reading of line 3758, that the step-father motive, and the dangerous mission motive, were both secondary in the poet's mind, not primary; that for the poet the primary motive, the real spring of the action, was that Ganelon, being a covetous man and envious of Roland's greater wealth, had hated him on that account before ever Charles had reached the seventh year of the Spanish war.
The dreams of Charlemagne in Rol. 717–36 and 2525–60 have several times been the subject of critical investigations. Professor Rajna sees in them a direct influence of the Old Teutonic epic; Wilhelm Tavernier, on the other hand, is inclined to consider at least one of them as the literary imitation of a dream occurring in the Waltharius. The fact that some of those dreams are animal dreams appeared also to him as a proof of Teutonic influences due perhaps to the Norman descent of the author. It will, therefore, be the purpose of this paper to examine those dreams and to test the arguments put forward to prove their Teutonic character.
Although Poe is now all but universally acknowledged to be one of the three or four literary geniuses that America has produced, there was a period immediately following his death when few writers in America were willing to concede to him any extraordinary merit beyond that of an exceptionally gifted artist. It has sometimes been held that Poe was similarly neglected even before his death. Thus, so distinguished a scholar as Professor Sir Walter Raleigh, of Oxford, in a letter addressed to the celebrators of the Poe centenary at the University of Virginia (1909), makes the statement that Poe was “barely recognized while he lived.” Baudelaire, who did more than any other to light the flame of Poe's reputation abroad, believed that Poe was cruelly neglected by his fellow-countrymen, and most other Frenchmen have, I believe, adopted much the same view. In America, too, there has long existed a tradition that Poe was but little appreciated during his lifetime,—a tradition that has flourished especially at the South, though it has not been confined to the South. On the other hand, some of the ablest of those who have made a special study of Poe have held that this tradition is without any substantial basis in fact. The lamented Professor Charles F. Richardson, for instance, in one of the most sympathetic and discriminating essays that we have on the Southern poet, asserts that it is “a serious mistake” to assume that Poe was unpopular in his own day. And Professor W. P. Trent, a no less eminent authority on our literary history, has recorded the belief that “Poe is no exception to the rule that the writers who really count began by counting with their contemporaries.”
The Old English ms. volume, Cotton Vitellius A XV, in “which the unique copy of Beowulf is preserved, consists of two separate codices which have been bound together since the time of Sir Robert Cotton to make the present volume. The first, in two main hands of the twelfth century, contains four articles: Flowers from St. Augustine's Soliloquies, translated by King Alfred, fol. 4a; Gospel of Nicodemus, fol. 60a; Dialogue between Solomon and Saturn, fol. 84b; and a fragment of eleven lines concerning martyrs, fol. 93b. The second codex, likewise in two hands, but of considerably earlier date, consists of five articles: A fragment of the Life of St. Christopher, imperfect at the beginning, fol. 94a; Wonders of the East, fol. 98b; Letter of Alexander the Great to Aristotle, fol. 107a; Beowidf, fol. 132a; and Judith, a fragment, fols. 202a-209b.
There seem many strong reasons for deeming the unhappy love-story in Chaucer's Anelida and Arcite the invention of the poet's own day and hour. Unlike its seventy-line prelude of Theseus and Ipolita and desolate Thebes, which as everybody knows, is a blending of Statius and Boccaccio—anticipating the riper treatment of the same theme in the beginning of The Knight's Tale—the story owes nothing to any known source. Indeed Chaucer implicitly disclaims any originals of his narrative, even when explicitly professing them, for, “when speaking of his finding an old story in Latin, he is actually translating from an Italian poem which treats of a story not found in Latin,” and his solemn appeal to the misty authority of that nominis umbra, “Corinne,” of whom more anon, seems devised to blur the credulous reader's vision. Moreover, he runs directly counter to a dominant motive of the Teseide, the unswerving loyalty of that paragon among lovers, the Theban Arcite, by making him, in this little poem, the weakest of philanderers. For that violent reversal of character there must have been indeed some strong provocation from without, but certainly not from any books that we know. The precedent, too, of The Complaint of Mars suggests strongly some contemporary court-scandal, cloaked in the protecting garb of the antique. Our poem rises far above the conventional “complaint” in its leitmotif—a distinctive situation, concrete and personal, unfolded with an abiding sense of reality and in the glow of a righteous indignation.
Athelston is one of the most vigorous and independent of Middle English romances, yet it is one about which least is known. Various writers have commented on this “strange neglect,” but in the years since 1829 when Hartshorne first published the text in his Ancient Metrical Tales, it has only twice been made the subject of serious study. Zupitza's edition in Englische Studien XIII-XIV (1889–1890) was primarily textual in character and devoted less than two pages to questions of origin. In Englische Studien XXXVI (1906), Prof. Gerould discussed “Social and Historical Reminiscences in Athelston.” Frankly accepting Zupitza's brief conjectures as to the original personages and events of the story, he concerned himself with the study of sworn brotherhood, a custom prominently referred to in the romance, and with the interesting possibility that the characterization of king and bishop in the romance had been influenced by the vivid personalities of Henry II and Thomas Becket. Certainly their memory was as living for the fourteenth century as it had been for the twelfth since it was continually renewed by the pilgrim hosts at Becket's shrine. A story which had to tell of the quarrel between a king and a churchman might well borrow something from the traditional violence of King Henry and the fearless courage of Becket, but such influence in Athelston, if it existed at all, must have affected simply the characterization of the two dominant personalities; in other respects, in motive, detail and incident, there is no real correspondence between history and the romance. In a story so closely knit as Athelston it is unprofitable to believe that it had absorbed unrelated incidents or that it had varied very much from whatever was its basic type. From the false accusation brought by the king's friend against his sworn brother, through the king's quarrel with the archbishop who hurries to the defense of the king's sister and her husband, to the great climax when the accused pass through the ordeal by fire, the story pursues an almost inevitable course which allows for hardly one of the haphazard accretions usual in mediaeval romance.
Theatrical records tend to prove that The Careless Husband, doubtless the best of Cibber's comedies, enjoyed a warm reception when it was first presented before London audiences. Produced for the first time at Drury-Lane on Thursday, December 7, 1704, it held the boards of that theatre for nightly performances during the remainder of that week, and, with the customary exception of Sunday, during the whole of the following week, which ended Saturday, December 16. The initial cast was: Sir Charles Easy — Wilks; Lord Foppington — Cibber; Lord. Morelove—Powell; Lady Betty Modish—Mrs. Oldfield; Lady Easy—Mrs. Knight; Lady Graveairs—Mrs. Moore; Edging—Mrs. Lucas. Along with the announcement for Friday, December 15, there appears the following: “With a piece of Instrumental Musick to be performed by Mr. Paisible, Mr. Banister, and others. And several Entertainments of Dancing by Monsieur Cherrier, and others.” For the next evening the managers promise a change in the bill: “Several Italian Sonata's on the Violin by Signior Gasparini. And several Entertainments of Dancing by Mrs. du Ruel.” Such extradramatic features attend the production of the play rather frequently throughout its stage career.
The remarkable autograph manuscript discovered in 1874 by A. J. Horwood among the papers of Sir Frederick Graham of Netherby is one of the basic documents for the study of Milton. It furnishes a list of some ninety authors, many of them by no means obvious, whom Milton knew; it indicates a large number of specific passages which he found interesting; and, finally, it contains, either explicitly or by implication, a host of opinions and ideas, consideration of which affords a new insight into the working of his mind. The Commonplace Book is, indeed, an important key to Milton's intellectual activity, and as such it merits a more careful critical consideration and a wider application than it has yet received. The facsimile published by the Royal Society of Literature in 1876 rendered the document accessible in its original form, and Horwood's edition for the Camden Society attempted a solution of some of the fundamental problems which must be dealt with before the note book can be put to fruitful use. But Horwood unfortunately did his work with little care and left it incomplete in many particulars. His text in the revised edition is reasonably accurate, but the editorial work is in the highest degree unsatisfactory. The editor did not undertake the necessary labor of identifying all the works and authors cited, nor did he always distinguish between those quoted by Milton at first and at second hand. His list of parallels from Milton's published writings is scanty, and he has failed to supply other obvious apparatus.