Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 2.djvu/40

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times, when "l'amour du bon vieux terns, l'amour antique," flourished, were the most profligate of all possible centuries. Those who have any doubts on this subject may consult Sainte-Palaye, passim, and more particularly vol. ii. p. 69.[1] The vows of chivalry were no better kept than any other vows whatsoever; and the songs of the Troubadours were not more decent, and certainly were much less refined, than those of Ovid. The "Cours d'Amour, parlemens d'amour, ou de courtoisie et de gentilesse" had much more of love than of courtesy or gentleness. See Rolland[2] on the same subject with Sainte-Palaye.

Whatever other objection may be urged to that most unamiable personage Childe Harold, he was so far perfectly knightly in his attributes—"No waiter, but a knight templar."[3]

    and spotless, but its laxity on some points was redeemed by the noble spirit of gallantry which courted personal danger in the defence of the sovereign ... of women because they are often lovely, and always helpless; and of the priesthood... Now, Childe Harold, if not absolutely craven and recreant, is at least a mortal enemy to all martial exertion, a scoffer at the fair sex, and, apparently, disposed to consider all religions as different modes of superstition." The tone of the review is severer than the Preface indicates. Nor does Byron attempt to reply to the main issue of the indictment, an unknightly aversion from war, but rides off on a minor point, the licentiousness of the Troubadours.]

  1. [See Mémoires sur l'Ancienne Chevalerie, par M. De la Curne de Sainte-Palaye, Paris, 1781: "Qu'on lise dans l'auteur du roman de Gérard de Roussillon, en Provençal, les détails très-circonstanciés dans lesquels il entre sur la réception faite par le Comte Gérard à l'ambassadeur du roi Charles; on y verra des particularités singulières qui donnent une étrange idée des mœurs et de la politesse de ces siècles aussi corrompus qu'ignorans." (ii. 69). See, too, ibid., ante, p. 65: "Si l'on juge des mœurs d'un siècle par les écrits qui nous en sont restés, nous serons en droit de juger que nos ancêtres observèrent mal les loix que leur prescrivirent la décence et l'honnêteté."]
  2. [See Recherches sur les Prérogatives des Dames chez les Gaulois sur les Cours d'Amours, par M. le Président Rolland [d'Erceville], de l'Académie d'Amiens. Paris, 1787, pp. 18-30, 117, etc.]
  3. [The phrase occurs in The Rovers, or the Double