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stone at the churchyard gate. At or less confined to a class of singers Combourg also, at Lohéac, and at that frequented the castles and towns; many other places, the same rights and but the habit of singing was universal, customs existed; the bride must sing, and, with the splendid memories oť or sing and dance, upon a specified those who can neither read nor write, spot near the church, and in some to hear a song once, however innucases she had to declare that she owed merable its verses, was all that was a kiss to the seigneurie. A more cu- necessary. True, it might be repeated rious and complicated custom obtained
with some variations and some lack in very early times at the Benedictine of sense, but that mattered little; even priory of Saint-Sauveur-des-Landes, as to-day, when the repetition of centuries it is described by one of the same con- has left many ballads absolutely demunity, writing in the sixteenth cen- void of either rhyme or meaning, the tury. Here the bride had to go peasant is amply content with them straight from the church, when the and sees nothing lacking. Strangers marriage mass had been said, and to journeying from place to place, fightpresent to the prior a kiss and a nose- ing-men riding in companies across the gay tied with green or blue ribbons; country, were naturally the great she had then to sing nine songs, and spreaders of songs in the more central while singing to dance up and down districts bordering the great roads; as, the hall with the prior, or with one of since then, French soldiers have carthe community representing him, if he ried French music so far abroad that himself was too old, fat, or infirm; an ancient Poitevin Noël has been after which she and her company were found among an Indian tribe in the served with good wine, honestly, as depths of Canada, and a ballad of the old phrase ran, meaning without Provence is sung by the Annamites far stint. In default of this, the manu- inland from Saigon. But from farm to script goes on to say, upon the follow- · farm in the byeways of High Brittany ing Sunday, after high mass at the where there was little of passing church of Saint Sauveur, the prior shall traffic, songs were mostly carried, as strip shoe and hose from the bride's was everything else, indeed, by the left foot (which may sometimes have packman, the travelling hawker of all been a not unpleasant duty), "and she sorts of wares, the Little Merchant or shall thus go home without covering gentil Mercelot as he is called in many a upon her skin, and further shall pay ballad in which he plays a part. He, sixty sols in fine."
who went everywhere and saw every The individual character of the an. one, who was as welcome to castle as cient songs is as interesting as the to cottage, and most welcome where place that they held in the life of the fewest came and least was known of fourteenth century. They were the the outer world, was the minstrel of peasant's books; they stood to him in the country-side, the singer of songs, the place of newspapers; by means of the teller of tales, the newsmonger and them the old traditions were banded the messenger from parish to parish on from father to son, the old stories from the inland hills to the flats and of by-gone days that were passing into pastures of the coast. And so the legend. And by means of them also songs he sang were something more local history and current news were than a pastime; they spread no doubt carried from place to place: that a world of misinformation and crestrange force which is public opinion dulity, but without them the peasant and which underlay even the peasant's would have been perhaps more ignoservitude, was nourished; and a link rant, and certainly more isolated than was made that joined the most isolated he was, and the history which later he farms and the remotest districts to helped to make might never have come gether. The practice of what one may to be history. call professional minstrelsy was more What the songs were that were suug by the Little Merchant one can judge It's oh, beside my sweetheart, by such as remain, and they are many.
How gladly would I be! It is true that the ballads which once treated of current news are now a little The quail and the turtledove, out of date, and by dint of long corrup
The blackbird bold and free,
And the kind nightingale tion are as misty and as mythical as the remotest legends; but
Sit singing on the tree. one can
And it's oh, etc. imagine what they may have been by considering the Complaint which is to
They sing unto the maidens day as popular as it can ever have
That still are fancy free; been. It is a doleful ballad which re
But I have a true lover counts in the plainest language and in
And they do not sing to me. very great, and generally quite incor
And it's oh, etc. rect detail, some crime committed in the neighborhood. It generally fol
My heart has gone a-wandering, lows a stereotyped course, the culprit My heart has gone from me; being described in conventional terms It's with my love in Holland, that never change, and always being Under lock and key. discovered and caught in the last verse And it's oh, etc. but one. Nevertheless, it not only reaches peasants who, even in these And if I sought him, lady, days, never read or even see a news
And if I set him free? paper, but it is vividly appreciated Oh, I'd give you Rennes and Paris,
Paris and St. Denys. even by such as live within reach of
And it's oh, etc. towns, and lingers word for word in their minds through all its many
I'd give you a broad river verses, long after the whole affair has
That runs into the sea, been forgotten by every one else, and,
And turns the while 'tis running often occurs, after succeeding
Mill wheels three. events have proved the Complaint to
And it's oh, beside my sweetheart, be wholly wrong. Wherefore even to
Oh, beside my dear, day local news is best remembered
It's oh, beside my sweetheart, when it is put into the old traditional
How gladly would I be! form of rhymed verse. The ballads, which are still sung among the people,
It is a noticeable fact that the more resemble their English kin, but with deeply one penetrates into the couna difference; they have characteristics try, the more distinctly do the ballads of their own. They are shorter in gen
divide into two classes, the melaneral than are most of our old ballads; choly, which are nearly always conthey incline to the chanson; they are
cerned with death, and the gay or frequently set to a single rhyme all comic, which are much too freespoken through, and the refrain, which with to bear translation. Such songs as are us is often absent and always subor
to be heard round Dinard, for instance, dinate, is sometimes nearly as long as are infinitely more decent than those the actual verse. Such an one as fol- that are popular in the farms that borlows, which is still very popular, may
der on the Hunaudaye forest, where be taken as fairly typical.
there are ditties so Rabelaisian that
one is grateful for the mixture of patois THE PRISONER OF HOLLAND.
and old French that, though sometimes Within my father's garden
insufficiently, obscures their meaning. There grows a tall green tree,
An occasion that here, as elsewhere, And all the birds from all the world gives rise to many such songs, is a Sing there so merrily.
marriage; and a curious custom is that And it's oh, beside my sweetheart, of the marriage-walk. On the day Oh, beside my dear,
after the wedding, which for this rea
son is generally on a Saturday, the rhymes are full of words that have bebride and groom and all their company come meaningless and obsolete, now set out two and two, to walk either that the old practices have died out into the nearest large village or town, and the very methods of treating the or if they already live in one, to wool are almost forgotten. traverse all its principal streets; in An example of a song may be given this latter case, the walk takes place in that is sung generally to children, with the evening. Two and two the couples whom, in the remote byeways of the follow each other, arm in arm, or hand country, it is as well-beloved as our in hand, dancing a' curious running own “Red-Riding-Hood." Indeed, a step with a long swing of the leg to mother sometimes quotes from it much alternate sides, and singing traditional
as English mothers may quote, “The songs that are known as marriage- better to eat you with, my dear;" and verses (couplets de noce); some of the end, if more cheerful, is at least which are so old that they are little delightfully vague. “Maitre d’Aziliou” more than nonsense after centuries of
is very old, and people of the countrymis-repetition. Every inn passed upon side are apt to declare that the king the walk must be entered and the
in it is the first king of Brittany, and bride's health drunk; and at every inn the wood, the neighboring forest of La the bride must sing a song,—not such Hunaudaye, on the borders of which a simple matter as it sounds, as no the ballad still lingers. marriage-walk worthy of the name will choose a route that passes less
MASTER D'AZILIOU. than six or eight drinking-houses. But
It was Master D'Aziliou however many songs the bride may be
Who went the King's young daughter to called upon to sing, the traditional
w00. couplets remain the same that they have always been through more years
A hundred leagues he took her away, than one can hope to count.
And there was none to say him nay. Another kind of song must be mentioned, as it is very characteristic; the
When they came to the forest rim, Long Song (chanson-longue), which is
“Give me to eat!” she begged of him. something on the principle of the English rhyme, “The House that Jack “If thou art hungry, eat thy head; Built," save that as a rule when it has For never more shalt thou eat bread.” reached its greatest length of verse it gradually decreases again, and ends And when they came to the forest side, only when it has once more reached the “Give me to drink!” again she cried. beginning, This kind of song is essen
"If thou would'st drink, then drink thy tially a pastime in the most literal sense of the word, and is generally pain;
For never shalt thou drink again. song to help over a time of labor or enforced idleness. There are Long
"Here is a river wide and deep, Songs for the harvest, when the crim
And three ladies within it sleep; son buckwheat stubble is cut and tied and set up in interminable lines of
"And thou, my love, hast followed me, small red stooks; there are others for
To add a fourth to the other three.” the conscripts when they march in to the nearest centre to draw their num
“Oh, turn at least thy face,” she said, bers; others again for the drinker with
“And look not on an uncloth'd maid.". a verse for every inn he stops at, or for every mug of cider that he empties. The lady, she caught him unaware, Tiu recently, too, there were Long And into the river tossed him fair. Songs for the maidens to sing as they span; but it is only the old women who
"Now help me, help, my dear," he cried, spin nowadays, and the ancient “And thou to-morrow shalt be my bride."
LIVING AGE. VOL. XII. 580
“Dive down, my master, dive down deep, trade-song or another of his choice; And wed the ladies that yonder sleep." and the same was exacted from every
member of the fraternity when he mar"How canst thou find thy father's town, ried. All this is gone; yet still the If thou dost leave me here to drown?"
journeyman pays, when his apprentice
ship is finished, a small fee which is “Thy little grey horse I'll surely ride,
called the song-penny; and still, when And he shall be my homeward guide."
a workman marries, he treats some of
his fellows to cider or absinthe, and "And what will the King, thy father, say, calls it paying the song. The words Who saw thee ride with a lover away?"
linger, though the use is dead; and to-morrow,
or next day, the grass “He'll laugh with joy, that I have done
will be green upon the graves and the to thee That which thou would'st have done to
very meaning will be forgotten. me."
And these, with all the rest of the
ancient songs, would have been forgotFormerly every trade had its dis- ten long ago, but for the one thing that tinctive song, but few of these are eveu has saved them till now; the mothers dimly remembered. Only the Guild who sing to their children have been of Saint Joseph, the carpenters, cabi- the great guardians of traditional litnet-makers, and ship-builders, walk in erature. It is they who have handed company to mass every year as their down the old ballads and rhymes, who patron's day comes round, bearing have sung them as lullabies to the their ancient green banner and the babies, and told them as stories to the great nosegays of flowers that, after a elder ones, who in their turn will hand benediction at the altar, will be hung them on and on again; it is from up at their doors; and singing as they mother to child that the legends have have sung it, all these three hundred come to us across the ages, so strangely years that the guild bas existed, their unchanged in all the changing years. quaint canticle with its stamping re- The songs that die out are the songs frain that mimics the sound of ham- the mother more seldom sings; and mering. But once for every trade, as those that live are the ones that she has been said, these songs existed; and loves best, and that the children about now they are so nearly forgotten that her love best. So “Master d'Aziliou” only a stray one may be met with has come to us, while many a graver rarely, and as it were by accident; as ballad is gone; and there are a hundred in a little drinking-house of Saint foolish rhymes with jingling refrains. Enogat was recently heard the Song where not one of the season-plays, tilat of the Sawyers. It is a fine rollicking were so popular about the country-side, ditty, with an odd refrain made up of is to be found complete. Traditional picturesque oaths, accompanied by literature has come down to
us drawing the moistened thumb-tip through the children; it is worth while sharply down the door-panel, and to be grateful for it, but one wishes. thereby producing a loud vibrating that they had not exercised so stern a noise that sufficiently recalls the whir right of selection. ring noise of the hand-saws.
And very soon even they will turn pity, indeed, that these trade-songs are their backs definitely on the old songs. so few, for, to judge by the rare er. that are out of date, and foolishly, amples that remain, they were curious hopelessly, shockingly ancient and and individual beyond most others; uninteresting to those that have outand with them have died a host of an- grown them; and they will give up the cient customs. In nearly every trade simple-minded litanies and canticles, the apprentice on becoming a journey- as their mothers are giving up their man had to sing his song, though one local caps and distinctive dresses; and does not know whether this was the there will be no music in High Brittany,
It is a
that does not come from the music of descriptive travel find seasonable exbaus of Paris or London. The old pression and oblivion. They are resongs, that have lived so many hun- vived from time to time because of the dred years, will be utterly dead and English poet who came here. Or the done with; and granted that they are Asolan landscape is put before the rude, uncouth, and unlovely, one public by the painter who loves it. If remembers only that there is a charm in casual hands the “article," Asolo, lack that lingers about them always. They the personal note, and its intimate and are the Songs of Yesterday, and to-mor
profound and varied charm remain row they will be forgotten.
uncelebrated, its name, at least, is made to stir a remoter, if a fainter curiosity, even while it is left, like the usual Italian subject, alien to us. If, seeing
much and loving nothing, one come to From The New Review.
Asolo, the lover's part there lies unIN THE ASOLAN COUNTRY.
touched, and is rightly left for the poet Whether one approaches the Asolan and the painter. Country from the mountains or from
Sixty-one years ago, George Sand, the sea, the roads to it are all delightful. first among the famous of our day to They take one to a romantic landscape come to Asolo, walked here in man's of green hills and blue mountains, a blouse, and alone. She started from landscape with the charm of northern Bassano, and seems to have lost her freshness, of southern radiance, of way, purposely wandering into one of varied aspect. On one side the rock- the gorges of the Grappa, where, not enwalls of the near Alps rise in barren tirely released from the febrile excite. majesty above the chestnut woods of ment of her recent rupture with Musser, Crespano and of Possagno; on the other at Venice, she seemed for the time bestretches the Venetian plain, its far ing, she tells us, in a solitude of the New horizon broken by the sharp Euganean World; and she half expected to see a peaks, blue, and faint in the distance. boa uncoil his monstrous length, she half The plain itself is sea-like in color and imagined the cry of a panther in the spaciousness under the fusing effects of wild wind that rose and fell among the day and night; often it looks like tapes- horrific rocks. One suspects her of try, dim and harmonious, and even Byronizing with her woe and with textured-still oftener brightly green in nature of walking into rocky gorges sunlight; it is populous, highly culti- to find something in accord with her vated; it sparkles with towns, and state of mind. Apparently she climbed towers, and villas, and hamlets. Three to the first snows, and descended near hundred feet above it, sheltered from Possagno, and then continued her less northern winds, is Asolo, looking out eccentric and proper way to Asolo in the over it east, south, and west; west to ag early spring of 1834. She says nothing noble range of mountains and wooded concerning Asolo itself, and but a few hills that fall in rhythmic lines to the words of admiration for the country level land. Bassano and Vicenza lie about it. She calls it an "earthly there, and there Castelfranco. They Paradise,” the richest in Italy for its sbine like jewels under the morning and healthy climate and delicious fruits. evening sun. The domes of Padua are The limpidity of its waters, the fertility just discernible, and in a faint line of its soil, the force of its vegetation, against the sky, one sees a sign of the beauty of its race, and the magnifiVenice: it is St. Mark's tower! Any- cence of its views seem made, she says, thing for range of vision wider or more expressly to nourish the highest faculalluring and surprising would be hard ties of the soul and excite the noblest to find even in Italy. Now and then the ambition. Her book of travel gives a beauty and interest of this hill-town new note of interest to the land, which are written of, and the commonplaces was for the moment but a background,