Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

suade you to give over, for you don't understand such things, and you may get into a scrape; for the Theologians will not allow you Jurists to handle matters of faith. Then he was angry and said, I not only know very well what I am about, but I know you are a great fool.' This put me in a great passion, and I got up and went away, and there has been a great quarrel between us ever since."*

We will not bear so hard upon our “ Gravissimus” friend Ortuinus and his correspondents, as to draw much attention to their poetry. It will suffice to dismiss them to their slumbers, in the words of their illustrious brother, Joannes Grapp.

Ergo vos valete, necnon bonam noctem habete."

Art.IV.-Les Arrets d'Amours, avec l'Amant rendu Cordelier à

l'Observance d'Amours. Par Martial d'Auvergne, dit de Paris, Procureur au Parlement. Accompagnez des Commentaires Juridiques et Joyeux, de Benoit de Court, Jurisconsulte. Dernière Edition, revue, corregié, & augmentée de plusiers Arrets, de Notes, & d'un Glossaire des anciens termes. "Amsterdam, 1731.

We certainly live in a very degenerate age. The irregular feelings of the days of chivalry are nearly worn down to

*« Et est hic unus Jurista, qui vocatur Martinus Groningen, Doctor Senensis, ut ipse dicit, satis prætensus & superbus. Ipse debet latinisare Speculum Oculare & est valde præsumptuosus, quia cupit videri. Aliqui laudant eum, & quæsivi nuper ex eis, quid plus scit, quam alius? Tunc dixerunt, quod habet bonam notitiam in Græco. Et sic videtis, quod non est curandum de eo, quod Græcum non est de essentia Sacræ Scripturæ. Et credo, quod non scit unum punctum in libris Sententiarum, nec ipse possit mihi formare unum Syllogismum in Baroco aut Celarent, quia non est logicus. Ipse nuper vocavit me asinum. Et dixi ei, si es ita audax, tunc disputa mecnm. & tibisavi eum, & dixi : Ego arguo, quod tu sis asinus. Primo sic : Quicquid portat onera, est asinus : Tu portas onera : ergo es asinus. Minorem probo, quia ut portas istum librum. Et fuit verum : quia ipse portavit unum librum, quem dedit Jacob Questenberg ad studendum intus, contra M. nostrum Jacobum de Hochstrate. Tunc non fuit ita prudens, quod negaret mihi Majorem : quia non potuissem probare. Sed scio, quod nihil scit in logica. Dixi ergo ad eum: Domine Doctor, vos vultis vos intromittere in negotia Theologorum, quod non est in facultate vestra. Ego suaderem vubis, quod dimitteretis, quia vos non intelligitis materiam istam, alias potestis venire ad damnum. Quia Theologi non volunt, quod Juristæ debent tractare causas fidei. Et statim ille iratus dixit: Ego non solum intelligo istam materiam, sed etiam video, quod tu es una maledicta bestia. Tunc fui etiam commotus, & surrexi, & fuit inter nos magna rixa in die illa.”

the level of common sense. How different from the times when the spirit was left to its own guidance, and grew and flourished in all the luxuriance of its native wildness. Where shall we now look for the high and honourable sentiments of chivalrous faith and valour which animated the breasts of our forefathers; and, more especially, for that ennobling devotion to lady-love, which conferred equal lustre and dignity on him who paid it, and on her to whom it was paid. Alas! in the nineteenth century, a Lover's cares and fears have “ dwindled to the smallest span.” How different is the conduct of a modern lover from that of an inamorato in the days of chivalry, when it was the most supreme delight, to be allowed

To kneel whole ages at a beauty's feet; and even, in spite of all her disdain, “ to think such sufferings sweet?” But in those ages the fair sex stood on a loftier eminence, and happy was he who was allowed to approach them, even though in the most respectful manner. Even in the coldest nights of winter, the true lover walked till sun-rise before his mistress's door-his sole reward, to be allowed to kiss the latch or the knocker of the door. Sometimes, indeed, through some cranny, or, perchance, through the key-hole, he had the rapture of beholding her form, and as she passed he would sing some tender love-song. Nay, at times he was admitted to the honour of kissing the hem of her garment;-at other times, gallantry required greater exertions from him, and, at the hazard of his neck, he would fearlessly scale the loftiest walls, and even descend the longest chimnies, for one glance of his beloved.* Occasionally he stained his face with certain herbs, that he might appear more pitiable in her eyes; and even death became desirable to him for her sake. The gallant Troubadour, Pierre Vidal, furnishes a fine example of chivalrous enthusiasm. Being passionately enamoured of a lady called Louve de Penautier, he called himself Loup, or Wolf, in her honour, and submitted, as such, to be hunted in a wolf's skin. He was pursued by the shepherds and their dogs into the mountains, where, being overtaken, he was, like Actæon, cruelly mangled by the hounds, and carried home to his mistress, as dead. He recovered, however, to felicitate himself on the perils he had endured for his lady's sake.

It was in sentiments and feelings like these, that the institution of the Courts or Parliaments of Love originated. It is

* See the advertisement to the “ Arrets d'Amours." It does not appear that Mr. Edgeworth's machine for riding over stone walls was known at this time.

surprising that such a jurisdiction should never before have been exercised, and that it should have passed away with the age of chivalry. Even in our own country, and in the nineteenth century, the necessity for such a tribunal is tacitly confessed, by submitting many of the causes which would properly fall within the jurisdiction of the Court of Love, to the cognizance of the Ecclesiastical and Common Law Courts. Where could an action for a breach of promise of marriage be so properly decided as before lady judges, and according to the law amatory; in which case, it seems to be only common justice to allow a jury to be impannelled de medietate lingue, half ladies and half gentlemen. Were this the case, we might reasonably expect not to have all our most refined and delicate feelings shocked with the degrading exhibition of the judge, the jury, the counsel, and the audience, indulging in the most boisterous and unfeeling mirth, when a correspondence of the most tender and confidential kind is given in evidence. The advantages of these institutions would not stop here; they would take cognizance of a thousand cases, which our heavy laws can never reach, and gradually recal amongst us that exquisite refinement of feeling which now seems lost for ever.

It will, perhaps, be advisable to enter a little more in detail into the nature and spirit of the ancient Courts of Love, that our readers may more readily perceive the truth and justice of the few observations we have just made. The existence of these Courts may be traced almost as far back as the earliest periods of the Troubadour history, and they, probably, had their origin in the contentions of rival poets, who submitted their productions to the judgement of certain fair ladies, who undertook to decide upon their merits. In all probability, the origin of the Courts of Love may be dated about the twelfth century, at the time when the Gay science was approaching its meridian.*

These tribunals soon became frequent in many parts of France; but the minute particulars of their composition, their power, and their mode of proceeding, are lost in the lapse of time. It appears, however, that even in the courts which received their appellation from the individual name of some noble patroness, and from which we might suppose that she alone exercised the judicial power, there was yet a bench of lady

* The slight sketch here given of the ancient Courts of Love, is on the authority of an old author called André, who was chaplain to the Royal Court of France. The title of the work is, Livre de l'Art d'Aimer, et de la reprobation de l'Amour.” We have availed ourselves of the extracts from this book, (which we believe is very scarce), contained in that elegant and interesting work, Choix des Poesies Originales des Troubadours, par M. Raynouard. Paris, 3 vols. 1817, &c. justices, which varied in number, sometimes, as in the Court of the Countess of Champagne, amounting to sixteen. Whether these ladies possessed an authority co-equal with the Countess, or whether they were only called in to assist her with their advice, does not seem very clear.* It is still more difficult to discover by what sanctions these illustrious tribunals enforced obedience to their decrees. M. Raynouard conjectures that no judicial process issued on the judgement; but that public opinion was so strongly in favour of these institutions, that even the most obstinate knight would not have the hardihood to disobey their injunctions. Indeed, when we consider that the judgement of the Court frequently included a command either to love, or to abstain from loving, it is not surprising that they did not attempt to enforce their decrees upon the heart, where, in the language of our English lawyers, the process of the Courts does not run.+ With regard to the extent of their jurisdiction, it should seem that they took cognizance of all affairs of love and gallantry without any exception, and that, occasionally, they even condescended to decide hypothetical questions. With the decline of the spirit of chivalry, the Courts of Love also began to disappear; it is probable that few remained longer than the middle of the fourteenth century.

* In the first case, the Court might be assimilated to the meeting of our Justices of the Peace, at les General Quarter Sessions, ou sont appelés tous les juges de paix du comté, et où ils se reunissent quelquefois au nombre de douze ou quinze, et quelquefois au nombre de trente ou quarante.”—(See Cottu de l'Administration de la Justice en Angleterre, p. 25.) In the latter case, it would closely resemble our Court of Chancery, when the Chancellor calls to his assistance a certain number of the Common Law Judges as Assessors. It is not, however, in the Courts of Love alone, that ladies have presided. In France, where women succeeded to the peerage, there are instances on record of their personally presiding in their own Courts, even over judicial combats. Mahaut, the Countess of Artois, assisted at the trial of Robert of Flanders, and at the ceremony of the coronation of Philip the Long, and, with other peers, supported the Crown. Even in our own country, women have filled judicial situations, and sat upon juries. The celebrated Ann, Countess of Pembroke, Dorset, and Montgomery, had the office of hereditary Sheriff of Westmoreland. At the assizes at Appleby, she sat with the judges on the bench. Vide Butl. notes to Co. Litl.- A woman may be of the homage in a customary Court; and even in a Court Baron, to present, &c. But she shall not sit as a judge to try issues, &c.—2 Inst. 119. Gilbert's Ten, by Walk. 475.

+ This last position, however, seems doubtful.-Quære, however, whether an attachment might not issue?

Of the proceedings of these Courts we have but few memorials transmitted to us, if we except the work of André, the chaplain. Some scattered passages in the verses of the Troubadours, which sometimes contain allusions to them, serve but to cast a very uncertain light on the subject. In André, the chaplain, however, we have many of the judgements given at length, some of which we shall shortly have occasion to extract. The curious little volumes at the head of the present article, do not, unfortunately, contain authentic reports of the decisions, though we must say, that were we to judge from the internal evidence, we should have some difficulty in distinguishing them from the real reports.

The author of Les Arrets d'Amours was Martial de Paris, or d'Auvergne, a French lawyer, poet, and wit, who flourished about the middle of the fifteenth century. Very little is known of his history. In addition to Les Arrets d'Amours, he was the author of a poem of some length, entitled, Les Vigiles de la mort du Roy Charles VII. à neuf pseaumes & neuf Leçons : contenant la Chronique & les faits advenus durant la vie du dit Roy; first published in the year 1493. Two other poems are also ascribed to him, namely, Les devotes louanges à la Vierge Marie. Paris, 1492; and L'Amant rendu Cordelier à l'Observance d'Amour. Lyons, 1545. The latter of these poems is printed in our edition of the Arrets. In most of the later editions of this work, the text is accompanied with the commentaries of Benoit de Court, or Benedictus Curtius, a celebrated jurisconsult of the sixteenth century. These notes, which are written in the same spirit as the text, contain a vast fund of curious and amusing illustration, chiefly drawn from the classical authors of Rome, and from the books of the civil and canon law. In the few extracts we shall make, we shall endeavour to render these reports more interesting to the English reader, by adding such annotations and remarks, drawn from our own law, as may serve to shew its similitude or discrepancy with the ancient laws and usages of the Courts of Love.

The reports commence with a prologue in verse, which, although rather long, is exceedingly curious, and which, but for its length, we should have been induced to give.* It de

* It may at first sight seem derogatory to the seriousness of a Reporter of law-cases, to prefix a copy of verses to his work. We certainly do not recollect any instance of this in our own law. It must not, however, on that account be supposed, that the Sages of our Courts have been insensible to the charms of the Muses. In proof of this, it may, perhaps, be sufficient to mention, that the substance of Lord Coke's Reports has been turned into verse by a learned hand. That revered Nestor of our law has, indeed, himself expressly recom

« ПредишнаНапред »