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THE GOLDEN LEGEND. The old Legenda Aurea, or Golden Legend, was originally written in Latin, in the thirteenth century, by Jacobus de Voragine, a Dominican friar, who afterwards became Archbishop of Genoa, and died in 1292.

He called his book simply" Legends of the Saints.” The epithet of Golden was given it by his admirers; for, as Wynkin de Worde says, “ Like as passeth gold in value all other metals, so this Legend exceedeth all other books.” But Edward Leigh, in much distress of mind, calls it“ a book written by a man of a leaden heart for the basenesse of the errours, that are without wit or reason, and of a brazen forehead for his impudent boldnesse in reporting things so fabulous and incredible.”

This work, the great text book of the legendary lore of the Middle Ages, was translated into French in the fourteenth century by Jean de Vignay, and in the fifteenth into English by William Caxton. It has lately 'been made more accessible by a new French translation: La Légende Dorée, traduite du Latin, par M. G. B. Paris, 1850. There is a copy of the original, with the Gesta Longobardorum appended, in the Harvard College Library, Cambridge, printed at Strasburg, 1496. The title-page is wanting; and the volume begins with the Tabula Legendirum.

I have called this poem the Golden Legend, because the story upon which it is founded seems to me to surpass all other legends in beauty and significance. It exhibits, amid the corruptions of the Middle Ages, the virtue of disinterestedness and self-sacrifice, and the power of Faith, Hope, and Charity, sufficient for all the exigencies of life and death. The story is told, and perhaps invented, by Hartmann von der Aue, a Minnesinger of the twelfth

century. The original may be found in Mailáth's Alt deutsche Gedichte, with a modern German version. There is another in Marbach's Volksbücher, No. 32. Page 82. For these bells have been anointed,

And baptized with holy water! The Consecration and Baptism of Bells is one of the most curious ceremonies of the church in the Middle Ages. The Council of Cologne ordained as follows:

Let the bells be blessed, as the trumpets of the Church militant, by which the people are assembled to hear the word of God; the clergy to announce his mercy by day, and his truth in their nocturnal vigils: that by their sound the faithful may be invited to prayers, and that the spirit of devotion in them may be increased. The fathers have also maintained that demons, affrighted by the sound of bells calling Christians to prayers, would dee away; and when they fed, the persons of the faithful would be secure: that the destruction of lightnings and whirlwinds would be averted, and the spirits of the storm defeated.”—Edinburgh Encyclopædia, Art. Bells. See also Scheible's Kloster, VI. 776. Page 115.

It is the malediction of Eve! “Nec esses plus quam femina, qnæ nunc etiam viros transcendis, et quæ maledictionem Evæ in benedictionem vertisti Mariæ."- Epistola Abælardi Fleloissæ. Page 139.

To come back to my text! In giving this sermon of Friar Cuthbert as a specimen of the Risus Paschales, or street-preaching of the monks at Easter, I have exaggerated nothing. This very anecdote, offensive as it is, comes from a discourse of Father Barletta, a Dominican friar of the fifteenth century, whose fame as a popular preacher was so great, that it gave riso to the proverb,

Nescit predicare

Qui nescit Barlettare. .“ Among the abuses introduced in this century," says Tiraboschi," was that of exciting from the pulpit the laughter of the hearers: as if that were the same thing as converting them. We have examples of this, not only in Italy, but also in France, where the sermons of Menot and Maillard, and of others, who would make a better appearance on the stage than in the pulpit, are still celebrated for such follies."

If the reader is curious to see how far the freedom of speech was carried in these popular sermons, he is referred to Scheible's Kloster, Vol. I., where he will find

extracts from Abraham a Sancta Clara, Sebastian Frank, and others; and in particular an anonymous discourse called Der Gräuel der Verwüstung, The Abomination of Desolation, preached at Ottakring, a village west of Vienna, November 25, 1782, in which the license of language is carried to its utmost limit.

See also Prédicatoriana, ou Révélations singulières et amusantes sur les Prédicateurs ; par G. P. Philomneste. (Menin.) This work contains extracts from the popular sermons of St. Vincent Ferrier, Barletta, Menot, Maillard, Marini, Raulin, Valladier, De Besse, Camus, Pére André, Bening, and the most eloquent of all, Jacques Brydaine.

My authority for the spiritual interpretation of bellcinging, which follows, is Durandus, Ration. Divin. Offic., Lib. I. cap. 4.

Page 143. THE NATIVITY: a Miracle-Play:

A singular chapter in the history of the Middle Ages is that which gives account of the early Christian Drama, the Mysteries, Moralities, and Miracle-Plays, which were at first performed in churches, and afterwards in the streets, on fixed or movable stages. For the most part, the Mysteries were founded on the historic portions of the Old and New Testaments, and the Miracle-Plays on the lives of Saints; a distinction not always observed, however, for in Mr. Wright's “Early Mysteries and other Latin Poems of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries,the Resurrection of Lazarus is called a Miracle, and not a Mystery. The Moralities were plays, in which the Virtues and Vices were personified.

The earliest religious play, which has been preserved, is the Christos Paschon of Gregory Nazianzen, written in Greek, in the fourth century. Next to this come the remarkable Latin plays of Roswitha, the Nun of Gandersheim, in the tenth century, which, though crude and wanting in artistic construction, are marked by a good deal of dramatic power and interest. A handsome edition of these plays, with a French translation, has been lately published, entitled Théâtre de Roisvitha, Religieuse allemande du Xe siècle. Par Charles Magnin. Paris, 1845.

The most important collections of English Mysteries and Miracle-Plays are those known as the Townley, the Chester, and the Coventry Plays. The first of these collections has been published by the Surtees Society, and the other two by the Shakespeare Society. In his Introduction to the Coventry Mysteries, the editor, Mr. Halliwell quotes the following passage from Dugdale's Antiquities of Warwickshire :

“Before the suppression of the monasteries, this city was very famous for the pageants, that were played therein, upon Corpus-Christi day; which, occasioning very great confluence of people thither, from far and near, was of no small benefit thereto; which pageants being acted with mighty state and reverence by the friars of this house, had theaters for the severall scenes, very large and high, piaced upon wheels, and drawn to all the eminent parts of the city, for the better advantage of spectators: and contain'd the story of the New Testament, composed into old English Rithme, as appeareth by an ancient MS. intituled Lulus Corporis Christi, or Ludus Conventric. I have been told by some old people, who in their younger years were eyewitnesses of these pageants so acted, that the yearly confluence of people to see that shew was extraordinary great, and yielded no small advantage to this city."

The representation of religious plays has not yet been wholly discontinued by the Roman Church. At OberAmmergau, in the Tyrol, a grand spectacle of this kind is exhibited once in ten years. A very graphic descrip-. tion of that which took place in the year 1850, is given by Miss Anna Mary Howitt, in her “Art-Student in Munich," Vol. I. Chap. IV. She says:

“We had come expecting to feel our souls rovolt at so material a representation of Christ, as any representation of him we naturally imagined must be in a peasant's Miracle-Play. Yet so far, strange to confess, neither horror, disgust, nor contempt was excited in our minds. Such an earnest solemnity and simplicity breathed throughout the whole of the performance, that to me, at least, any thing like anger, or a perception of the ludicrous, would have seemed more irreverent on my part than was this simple, childlike rendering of the sublime Christian tragedy. We felt at times as though the figures of Cimabue's, Giotto's, and Perugino's pictures had become animated, and were moving before us; there was the same simple arrangement and brilliant color of drapery,—the same earnest, quiet dignity about the heads, whilst the entire absence of all theatrical effect wonderfully increased the illusion. There were scenes and groups so extraordinarily like the early Italian pictures, that you could have declared they were the works of Giotto and Perugino, and not living men and women, had not the figures moved and spoken, and the breeze stirred their richly colored drapery, and the sun cast long, moving shadows behind them on the stage. These effects of sunshine and shadow, and of drapery fluttered by the wind, were very striking and beautiful; one could imagine how the Greeks must have availed themselves of such striking effects in their theatres open to the sky.”.

Mr. Bayard Taylor, in his “ Eldorado,” gives a description of a Mystery he saw performed at San Lionel, in Mexico. See Vol. II. Chap. XI.

“ Against the wing-wall of the Hacienda del Mayo, which occupied one end of the plaza, was raised a platform, on which stood a table covered with scarlet cloth. A rude bower of cane-leaves, on one end of the platform, represented the manger of Bethlehem; while a cord, stretched from its top across the plaza. to a hole in the front of the church, bore a large tinsel star, suspended by a hole in its centre. There was quite a crowd in the plaza, and very soon a procession appeared, coming up from the lower part of the village. The three kings took the lead; the Virgin, mounted on an ass that gloried in a gilded saddle and rose-besprinkled mane and tail, followed them, led by the angel; and several women, with curious masks of paper, brought up the rear. Two characters of the harlequin sort-one with a dog's head or his shoulders, and the other a bald-headed friar, with a huge hat hanging on his back-played all sorts of antics for the diversion of the crowd. After making the circuit of the plaza, the Virgin was taken to the platform, and entered the manger. King Herod took his seat at the scarlet table, with an attendant in blue coat and red sash, whom I took to be his Prime Minister. The three kings remained on their horses in front of the church; but between them and the platform, under the string on which the star was to slide, walked two men in long white robes and blue hoods, with parchment folios in their hands. These were the Wise Men of the East, as one might readily know from their solemn air, and the mysterious glances which they cast towards all quarters of the heavens.

“In a little while, a company of women on the platform, concealed behind a curtain, sang an angelic chorus to the tune of' O pescator dell'onda.' At the proper moment, the Magi turned towards the platform, followed by the star, to which a string was conveniently attached, that it might be slid along the line. The three kings followed the star till it reached the manger, when they dismounted, and inquired for the sovereign whom it had led thein to visit. They were invited upon the platform, and iatroduced to Herod, as the only king: this did not seem

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