Page images
PDF
EPUB

These seemed likely to be Froebel's most peaceful days. | at once the starting point and the eternal aim of all educaHe married again, and having now devoted himself to the tion." Again he says: "The starting point of all that training of women as educators, he spent his time in in- appears, of all that exists, and therefore of all intellectual structing his class of young female teachers. But trouble conception, is act, action. From the act, from action, must came upon him from a quarter whence he least expected it. therefore start true human education, the developing educaIn the great year of revolutions 1848 Froebel had hoped tion of the man; in action, in acting, it must be rooted and to turn to account the general eagerness for improvement, must spring up. Living, acting, conceiving,—these and Middendorff had presented an address on Kindergar- must form a triple chord within every child of man, though tens to the German Parliament. Besides this a nephew of the sound now of this string, now of that, may preponderFroebel's published books which were supposed to teach ate, and then again of two together." socialism. True, the uncle and nephew differed so widely that the "new Froebelians" were the enemies of "the old." The distinction was overlooked, and Friedrich and Karl Froebel were regarded as the united advocates of some new thing. In the reaction which soon set in Froebel found himself suspected of socialism and irreligion, and in 1851 the "cultus-minister" Raumer issued an edict forbidding the establishment of schools "after Friedrich and Karl Froebel's principles" in Prussia. This was a heavy blow to the old man, who looked to the Government of the “Cultus-staat” Prussia for support, and was met with denunciation. Of the justice of the charge the minister brought against Froebel the reader may judge from the account of his principles given below.

Whether from the worry of this new controversy, or from whatever cause, Froebel did not long survive the decree. His seventieth birthday was celebrated with great rejoicings in May 1852, but he died in the following month, and lies buried at Schweina, a village near his last abode, Marienthal.

""

"All education not founded on religion is unproductive." This conviction of Froebel's followed naturally from his conception of the unity of all things, a unity due to the original Unity from whom all proceed and in whom all "live, move, and have their being. "In Allem wirkt und schafft Ein Leben, Weil das Leben all' ein ein'ger Gott gegeben." "All has come forth from the divine, from God, and is through God alone conditioned. To this it is that all things owe their existence, to the divine working in them. The divine element that works in each thing is the true idea (das Wesen) of the thing." "The destiny and calling of all things is to develop their true idea, and in so doing to reveal God in outward and through passing forms."

As man and nature have one origin they must be subject to the same laws. Hence Froebel did what Comenius had done two centuries before him, he looked to the course of nature for the principles of human education. This he declares to be his fundamental belief: "In the creation, in nature and the order of the material world, and in the progress of mankind, God has given us the true type (Urbild) of education."

As the cultivator creates nothing in the trees and plants, so the educator creates nothing in the children,-he merely superintends the development of inborn faculties. So far Froebel agrees with Pestalozzi; but in one respect he went beyond him, and has thus become, according to Michelet, the greatest of educational reformers. Pestalozzi said that the faculties were developed by exercise. Froebel added that the function of education was to develop the faculties by arousing voluntary activity. Action proceeding from inner impulse (Selbstthätigkeit) was the one thing needful. And here Froebel as usual refers to God. "God's every thought is a work, a deed." As God is the Creator so must man be a creator also. "He who will early learn to recognize the Creator must early exercise his own power of action with the consciousness that he is bringing about what is good, for the doing good is the link between the creature and the Creator, and the conscious doing of it is the conscious connexion, the true living union of the man with God, of the individual man as of the human race, and is therefore

The prominence which Froebel gave to action, his doctrine that man is primarily a doer and even a creator, and that he learns only through "self-activity," may produce great changes in educational methods generally, and not simply in the treatment of children too young for schooling. But it was to the first stage of life that Froebel paid the greatest attention, and it is over this stage that his influence is gradually extending. Froebel held with Rousseau that each age has a completeness of its own, and that the perfec tion of the later stage can be attained only through the perfection of the earlier. If the infant is what he should be as an infant, and the child as a child, he will become what he should be as a boy, just as naturally as new shoots spring from the healthy plant. Every stage, then, must be cared for and tended in such a way that it may attain its own perfection. Impressed with the immense importance of the first stage, Froebel like Pestalozzi devoted himself to the instruction of mothers. But he would not, like Pestalozzi, leave the children entirely in the mother's hands. Pestalozzi held that the child belonged to the family; Fichte, on the other hand, claimed it for society and the state. Froebel, whose mind like that of Frederick Maurice delighted in harmonizing apparent contradictions, and who taught that "all progress lay through opposites to their reconciliation," maintained that the child belonged both to the family and to society, and he would therefore have children spend some hours of the day in a common life and in well-organized common employments. These assemblies of children he would not call schools, for the children in them ought not to be old enough for schooling. So he invented the name Kindergarten, garden of children, and called the superintendents "children's gardeners." He laid great stress on every child cultivating its own plot of ground, but this was not his reason for the choice of the name. It was rather that he thought of these institutions as enclosures in which young human plants are nurtured. In the Kindergarten the children's employment should be play. But any occupation in which children delight is play to them; and Froebel invented a series of employments, which, while they are in this sense play to the children, have nevertheless, as seen from the adult point of view, a distinct educational object. This object, as Froebel himself describes it, is "to give the children employment in agreement with their whole nature, to strengthen their bodies, to exercise their senses, to engage their awakening mind, and through their senses to bring them acquainted with nature and their fellow creatures; it is especially to guide aright the heart and the affections, and to lead them to the original ground of all life, to unity with themselves."

At the end of the first quarter of a century since Froebel's death, the spread of his ideas, or at least of his methods, seems rapidly extending. Prophets are slowly recognized in their own country, and although he is so thoroughly German in bis mode of thought and exposition that, as Deinhardt says, no other nation could have produced such a man, the Germans as yet are not so ready to learn from Froebel as from the Swiss Pestalozzi. In Austria the Kindergarten has made more way than in Prussia, and it seems to prosper in America. But Froebel's influence is not limited to the Kindergarten. His conception of educa

in a state of complete torpidity. In hot climates they are
said to go into a similar condition, known as "æstivation,"
during periods of exceptional heat and drought, in order to
retard the dissipation of the moisture in their bodies. On
reappearing from their long winter sleep the work of repro-
duction is at once entered upon, the males making their
presence known to the females by the vigorous exercise of
their vocal organs. The croaking of the common frog can
only be regarded as pleasant from its association with the
welcome advent of spring; still more unpleasant, however,
is the much louder croak of the edible frog of the Continent,
the species to which Horace probably refers in the lines
ranæque palustres
Avertunt somnos.

"C

""

tion cannot but affect the thoughts and ultimately the practice of all teachers who will be at the pains to understand it.

the ova.

Froebel's own works are-1. Menschenerziehung (there is a French translation by the Baronne de Crombrugghe); 2. Pädagogik d. Kindergartens; 3. Kleinere Schriften, herausgegeben von Wichard Lange; and 4. Mutter- und Kosclieder. We have a lengthy but unsatisfactory life in A. B. Hanschmann's Friedrich Fröbel. An unpretentious but useful little book is F. Froebel, a Biographical Sketch, by Matilda H. Kriege, New York (Steiger). A very good account of Froebel's life and thoughts is given in Karl Schmidt's Geschichte d. Pädagogik, vol. iv.; also in Adalbert Weber's Geschichte d. Volksschulpäd. u. d. Kleinkindererziehung (Weber carefully gives authorities). For a less favourable account see K. Strack's Geschichte d. deutsch. Volksschulwesens. The article "Fröbel" in K. A. Schmid's Encyklopädie is by Deinhardt. Frau von Marenholtz-Bülow has published her Erinnerungen an F. Fröbel (a book which has been translated by Mrs Horace Mann). This The eggs of the frog, consisting of little black specks surlady, who has been the chief interpreter of Froebel, has expounded rounded by an albuminous envelope, are fertilized during his principles in Das Kind u. sein Wesen, and Die Arbeit u. die their extrusion from the body of the female, and are genneue Erziehung. In England Miss E. Shirreff has published Prin- erally deposited at the bottom of the water, ascending, howciples of Froebel's System, and a short sketch of Froebel's life. The late Joseph Payne advocated Froebelism in a pamphlet, Froebel and ever, soon after to the surface, owing to the swelling and the Kindergarten System; also in the book published since his partial decomposition of the glairy substance surrounding death, A Visit to German Schools. In the United States, Miss E. There are several species known in which the E. Peabody, who has taken an active part in the spread of Froebeleggs are deposited in an exceptional manner. Those of a ism, has written Moral Culture of Infancy (New York). W. N. Hailman treats of Froebel in his Lectures and his Kindergarten small frog (Alytes obstetricans) found in France and Culture (Cincinnati). A. Köhler's Praxis is the best known German Germany form a long chain, which the male twines round work on the Kindergarten (it is translated as Kindergarten Educa- his thighs, retiring with them into seclusion until the young tion, New York); and T. F. Jacobs's Manuel is the best in are ready to leave, when he enters the water, and the tadFrench. (R. H. Q.) poles immediately make their escape. The female of an FROG, the common name of an extensive group of American tree-frog (Nototrema marsupiatum) has a pouch Batrachians forming, along with the toads, the amphibian along the whole extent of its back for the reception of its order Anoura. They are divided into 9 families, containing eggs; and Professor Peters of Berlin has recently drawn 92 genera and 440 species, and are found in all quarters of attention to a tree-frog of the genus Polypedates found in the globe, being most abundant in the tropical and sub-tropical West Africa, in which the female, after depositing tropical regions, but also occurring within the Arctic circle. her eggs in the usual mass of albuminous jelly, attaches them Most of the families have a very limited distribution, and to the leaves of trees overhanging a dry water-hole or pool. only two of them, the true frogs (Ranida), of which there The albumen speedily dries and forms a horny coating on are 150 species, and the Polypedatida, a family of tree-frogs the leaf, under which lie the unimpregnated eggs. On the containing 124 species, can be regarded as almost cosmopo- advent of the rainy season the albumen becomes softened, litan. The neotropical or South American region is richest and the eggs are washed into the pool below, now filled with in peculiar forms, while it possesses some only found beyond water, where they are fecundated by the male. it in the widely remote Australian region; thus the Pelodryadce, a family of tree-frogs, is peculiar to the two; the genus Litoria is confined to Australia, with the exception of a single species occurring in Paraguay; while the only frog known in New Zealand has its nearest allies in South America. Those regions bear also a negative resemblance in the total absence from both of the genus Rana, the 60 species of which are distributed throughout the other quarters of the globe. These facts, among others, have been adduced in support of the theory that at one time the continents of South America and Australia had a land connexion. Frogs are almost totally absent from oceanic islands, a single species (Liopelma Hochstetteri) occurring in New Zealand, and one or two others in the Pacific islands, as far east as the Fijis, beyond which they are unknown. On the assumption that those islands obtained their present fauna from the nearest continental land, the absence of frogs can be readily explained by the fact that salt water is alike fatal to the adult frog and to its spawn, and thus formed an insuperable barrier to their migration.

Frogs, as is shown by their wide distribution, are capable of enduring a considerable degree of both heat and cold; they are, however, altogether intolerant of long-continued drought, a desert forming as certain a barrier to their migration as an ocean. Both during their larval stage and afterwards, for the purpose of cutaneous respiration, abundant moisture is a necessity of their existence; consequently, whether they live on the ground or on trees, they are never found far from rivers, marshes, or lakes. In winter the frogs of northern climates hibernate, burying themselves in the mud at the bottom of pools, and lying clustered together

The development of the egg after impregnation proceeds more or less rapidly according to the temperature, the young of the common frog being hatched, according to Rusconi, in 4 days, in a temperature varying from 70° to 80° Fahr., while in the climate of England this does not take place in less than a month. The creature which emerges. from the egg is altogether unlike a frog, consisting mainly of a bulky head and tail, and wholly destitute of limbs. This is the tadpole or larval stage in the development of the frog, when it is essentially a fish, capable only of existing in water, breathing by gills, and having like a fish a twochambered heart. At first the gills or branchia are external, but they are soon withdrawn within the branchial cavity, and concealed by an opercular membrane. As the process of development proceeds, the limbs begin to bud forth, the posterior pair appearing first; and with their growth the tail begins to dwindle, not falling off, but being gradually absorbed. At the same time vast changes are taking place in the blood-vascular system, the gills gradually disappearing, two lungs being developed, and the heart becoming three-chambered as in reptiles. The young frog must now come to the surface to breathe, and soon leaves the water altogether. On emerging from the egg, the tadpole at first feeds upon the gelatinous mass which before had formed a protective covering. It is unprovided with teeth, but has two minute horny jaws, which enable it to feed on decaying animal and vegetable matter. According to Bell (British Reptiles), tadpoles sometimes kill and feed upon each other. "I observed," he says, "that almost as soon as one had acquired its limbs it was found dead at the bottom of the water, and the remaining tadpoles feeding

upon it. This took place with all of them successively, excepting the last, which lived on to complete its change." After leaving the water they feed almost entirely on insects and slugs.

The form of the frog is too well known to require description, but there are many almost unique features in its organization that may be noticed. Respiration in the adult frog is partly pulmonary; but as it is destitute of ribs, this operation in the frog cannot be performed by the alternate expansion and contraction of the chest, as in other airbreathing animals. The air has to be swallowed in order to be conveyed to the lungs, and the mechanism by which this operation is performed necessitates the closing of its mouth and the admission of air by the nostrils, so that a frog can be most readily suffocated by having its mouth gagged open. Respiration is also partly cutaneous, experiment having shown that the skin gives off carbonic acid gas in sufficient quantity to enable the creature to live for a very considerable time after pulmonary respiration has been stopped. Moisture is as necessary to the skin in the performance of this function as it is to the gills of a fish, and in order to preserve to the utmost its humidity, frogs avoid as much as possible the hot sunlight, sheltering themselves beneath stones or under loose turf, and reappearing on the advent of rain, sometimes in such numbers in a single locality as to have given rise to stories of frog showers. The skin of the frog, however, readily absorbs water; and this it stores up in an internal reservoir, from which it can in seasons of drought moisten the surface of its skin. When a frog is suddenly caught it frequently ejects a quantity of water, and thus suddenly diminishes its volume. The water avoided is not urine, nor is the receptacle containing it the urinary bladder, as was at one time supposed. The skin of frogs is perfectly smooth, having neither plates nor scales, except in the American genus Ceratophrys (fig. 1), in certain species of which a few bony plates

FIG. 1-Ceratophrys granosa.

are enclosed in the skin of the back. The tongue in frogs is probably employed more for the capture of its insect prey than as the organ of taste. It is fixed in front of the mouth, and free behind, and in seizing its prey, the free end, which possesses a viscid secretion, is darted suddenly forward, the captured insect being as suddenly transported to the back part of the mouth. Nothing can exceed the rapidity with which this motion is performed. Minute teeth are present in the upper jaw, and on the palate, in the true frogs. The vocal organs by which the characteristic croaking is produced differ somewhat in different species, a similar variety appearing in the quantity and quality of their song. The male of the edible frog is provided with bladder-like cheek pouches-the so-called vocal sacs-which it distends with air when in the act of croaking, an operation which it porforms to such purpose as to have received the

"9

name of "Dutch nightingale on the Continent, and "Cambridgeshire nightingale" in England. The bull-frog (Rana mugiens) has a laryngeal mechanism which Cuvier compared to a kettledrum, by which it produces a sound not unlike the bellowing of a bull. The sound produced by the tree frogs is both loud and shrill, but in certain circumstances it seems to be somewhat pleasing. Thus Darwin says, "Near Rio de Janeiro I used often to sit in the evening to listen to a number of little Hyla, which, perched on blades of grass close to the water, sent forth sweet chirping notes in harmony." The voice of another tree-frog (Hyla crepitans) has been compared to the sound produced "by the cracking of a large piece of wood;" while another, belonging to Surinam, has an extremely disagreeable voice, and unfortunately so much of it that, when a number of them combine, they at times drown the orchestra of the Paramaribo theatre. No frog, so far as yet known, possesses any poison organs. A species found in France (Pelo bates fuscus), when disturbed, emits a strong odour, somewhat resembling garlic, and of sufficient pungency to make the eyes water; another (Hyla micans) exudes from the surface of its body a slimy substance having luminous properties, which probably acts as a defence by frightening its enemies. Many of the tree-frogs are of a green colour, while others are brown, "and these," says Mr Wallace (Tropical Nature, 1878), "usually feed at night, sitting quietly during the day so as to be almost invisible, owing to their colour and their moist shining skins so closely resembling vegetable substances." The majority of tree-frogs have their colour thus adapted to their surroundings, and are thus enabled the more readily to elude their enemies; for, so far as yet known, all the species protectively coloured are edible, forming the chief food of many mammals, birds, and reptiles. A few, however, are brilliantly and conspicu ously coloured, as if courting observation; and such species, there is reason to believe (the reader will find evidence of this in Belt's Naturalist in Nicaragua), are rejected by frog-eating animals on account of their nauseous secretions, or some other unknown property which renders them unpalatable. The bright colours thus become directly useful to the species by making them readily recognizable as uneatable.

[graphic]

The Common Frog (Rana temporaria) is the most widely distributed species of the group, occurring throughout the temperate regions of both hemispheres, including North Africa, and Asia as far east as Japan. It does not occur in Iceland. Both in England and in Scotland it is abundant, nor is it uncommon in Ireland, although popularly supposed to be absent from that island. It varies very considerably in colour, being either a reddish, yellowish, or greenishbrown above, with irregular spots and fasciæ, and of a lighter colour beneath, but having almost invariably an oblong patch of brown behind the eyes, by which it may be readily distinguished from other European species. Although not an article of human food, the common frog in its various stages of growth forms the staple diet of many other animals. The tadpoles are eaten by newts and the smaller fishes, and frogs of all ages by weasels, waterfowl, pike, and snakes. By those agencies their numbers, which otherwise would be enormous, are greatly reduced. This species is said to take five years in attaining its full growth, and to live for about fifteen years. Like the toad it can be rendered tame and domesticated, having been known to take up its abode in a moist corner of a kitchen, and to come forth regularly at meal time to be fed. The Edible Frog (Rana esculenta) is very widely distributed throughout the temperate regions of the earth, but is not found in America, where, however, a closely allied species occurs (fig. 2). It is found in England, where it was first observed in a Cambridgeshire fen is 1843, to which probably it had

[merged small][ocr errors]

FIG. 2.-Rana palustris.

its full development before the advent of autumnal cold. It may be readily distinguished from the common species by the yellowish mesial line which runs down the whole length of its back, by the absence of the characteristic brown spot behind the eyes, and by the presence in the males of "Vocal sacs." It is also more aquatic than the common frog, seldom leaving the banks of its native pond or stream, into which it is always ready to dip on the slightest appearance of danger. It is very abundant throughout central and southern Europe, and forms, especially in France, a valued article of food, the hind legs when cooked being regarded as a luxury. Regarding a dish of these, Mr F. Buckland says, "Most excellent eating they were, tasting more like the delicate flesh of the rabbit than any thing else I can think of." The edible frog has been lately introduced into Ireland. The Bull-frog (Rana mugiens) is one of the largest species, measuring sometimes 8 inches in length, exclusive of the hind legs, and having a gape sufficiently wide to swallow ducklings whole. It inhabits North America, where it is said to haunt the pools formed at the origin of springs, the waters of which it was supposed to keep pure-a belief which long afforded it considerable protection; lately, however, the Americans have taken to frog-eating, and the bull-frog, in the absence of R. esculenta, has been selected among others for this purpose.

1

The Tree-frogs (fig. 3) are readily distinguished from all others by having the ends of their toes dilated into knobs or

FIG. 3.-Tree-frog (Hyla bicolor).

discs, generally provided with a sticky secretion, by means of which they can cling to the leaves and branches of trees. They are small, elegant, and exceedingly active creatures, the males possessing loud voices, of which they make copious use during the breeding season and on the approach of

rain. Frogs have from remote times been regarded as weather prophets, and at the present day, in some parts of Germany, the European Tree-frog (Hyla arborea) is used as a barometer. A few of them are placed in a tall bottle provided with miniature ladders, the steps of which they ascend during fine weather, seeking the bottom again on the approach of rain. All frogs, whether arboreal or not, have their hind feet webbed, and in at least one treefrog (Rhacophorus) the webs on all the feet are so largely developed as to render it probable that by their means the frog is able to execute flying leaps. This "flying frog" was brought to Mr Wallace, while travelling in Borneo, by a Chinaman, who assured him "that he had seen it come down in a slanting direction as if it flew." Its body was about 4 inches in length, and the expanded webs of each hind foot covered a space of 4 square inches, while its forelegs were bordered by a membrane-features highly suggestive of aerial locomotion.

Fossil remains of the frog do not occur in strata older than the Tertiary, being found in greatest abundance in the Miocene deposits. See AMPHIBIA. (J. GI.)

FRÖHLICH, ABRAHAM EMANUEL (1796-1865), a German-Swiss poet, was born February 1, 1796, at Brugg, in the canton of Aargau, where his father was a teacher. At the age of fifteen he was sent to study theology in the academy of Zürich. In 1817 he was ordained, and returned as teacher to his native town, where he lived for ten years. He was then appointed professor of German language and literature in the canton-school at Aarau, which post he lost, however, in the political quarrels of 1830. He afterwards the post of teacher and rector of the Bezirksschule, and was also appointed Hülfsprediger. He died December 1,1865. His works are- -170 Fabeln (1825); Schweizerlieder (1827); Das Evangelium St Johannis, in Liedern (1830); Elegien an Wieg und Sarg (1835); Die Epopöen; Ulrich Zwingli (1840); Ulrich von Hutten (1845); Auserlesene Psalmen und Geistliche Lieder für die Evangelisch-reformirte Kirche des Cantons Aargau (1844); Ueber den Kirchengesang der Protestanten (1846); Trostlieder (1852); Der Junge Deutsch-Michel (1846); Reimsprüche aus Staat, Schule, und Kirche (1820). An edition of his collected Fröhlich is best works, in 5 vols., was published in 1853. known for his two heroic poems, Ulrich Zwingli and Ulrich von Hutten, and especially for his fables, which have been ranked with those of Hagedorn, Lessing, and Gellert.

of Froissart, the circumstances of his birth and education, FROISSART, JEAN (1337-1410?). The personal history the incidents of his life, must all be sought in his own verses and chronicles. He possessed in his own lifetime no such fame as that which attended the steps of Petrarch; when he died it did not occur. to his successors that a chapter might well be added to his Chronicle setting forth what manner of man he was who wrote it. The village of Lestines, where he was curé, has long forgotten that a great writer ever lived there. They cannot point to any house in Valenciennes as the lodging in which he put together his notes and made history out of personal reminiscences. It is not certain when or where he died, or where he was buried. One church, it is true, doubtfully claims the honour of holding his bones. It is that of St Monegunda of Chimay. Gallorum sublimis honos et fama tuorumn, Hic Froissarde, jaces, si modo forte jaces.

[graphic]

It is fortunate, therefore, that the scattered statements in his writings may be so pieced together as to afford a tolerably connected history of his life year after year. The personality of the man, independently of his adventures, may be arrived at by the same process. It will be found that Froissart, without meaning it, has pourtrayed himself in clear and well-defined outline. His forefathers were jurés of the little town of Beaumont, lying near the river

Sambre, to the west of the forest of Ardennes. Early in the 14th century the castle and seigneurie of Beaumont fell into the hands of Jean, younger son of the count of Hainault. With this Jean, sire de Beaumont, lived a certain canon of Liége called Jean le Bel, who, fortunately, was not content simply to enjoy life. Instigated by his seigneur he set himself to write contemporary history, to tell "la pure veriteit de tout li fait entièrement al manire de chroniques." With this view, he compiled two books of chronicles. And the chronicles of Jean le Bel were not the only literary monuments belonging to the castle of Beaumont. A hundred years before him Baldwin D'Avernes, the then seigneur, had caused to be written a book of chronicles or rather genealogies. It must therefore be remembered that when Froissart undertook his own chronicles, he was not conceiving a new idea, but only following along familiar lines.

Some 20 miles from Beaumont stood the prosperous city of Valenciennes, possessed in the 14th century of important privileges and a flourishing trade, second only to places like Bruges or Ghent in influence, population, and wealth. Beaumont, once her rival, now regarded Valenciennes as a place where the ambitious might seek for wealth or advancement, and among those who migrated thither was the father of Froissart. He appears from a single passage in his son's verses to have been a painter of armorial bearings. There was, it may be noted, already what may be called a school of painters at Valenciennes. Among them were Jean and Colin de Valenciennes and Andrè Beau-Neveu, of whom Froissart says that he had not his equal in any country.

The date generally adopted for his birth is 1337. In after years Froissart pleased himself by recalling in verse the scenes and pursuits of his childhood. These are presented in vague generalities. There is nothing to show that he was unlike any other boys, and, unfortunately, it did not occur to him that a photograph of a schoolboy's life amid bourgeois surroundings would be to posterity quite as interesting as that faithful portraiture of courts and knights which he has drawn up in his Chronicle. As it is, we learn that he loved games of dexterity and skill rather than the sedentary amusements of chess and draughts, that he was beaten when he did not know his lessons, that with his companions he played at tournaments, and that he was always conscious—a statement which must be accepted with suspicion that he was born

"Loer Dieu et servir le monde."

In any case be was born in a place, as well as at a time, singularly adapted to fill the brain of an imaginative boy. Valenciennes, at the present day a dull town, was then a city extremely rich in romantic associations. Not far from its walls was the western fringe of the great forest of Ardennes, sacred to the memory of Pepin, Charlemagne, Roland, and Ogier. Along the banks of the Scheldt stood, one after the other, not then in ruins, but bright with banners, the gleam of armour, and the liveries of the men at arms, castles whose seigneurs, now forgotten, were famous in their day for many a gallant feat of arms. The castle of Valenciennes itself was illustrious in the romance of Perceforest: there was born that most glorious and most luckless hero, Baldwin, first emperor of Constantinople. All the splendour of medieval life was to be seen in Froissart's native city: on the walls of the Salle le Comte glittered-perhaps painted by his father the arms and scutcheons beneath the banners and helmets of Luxembourg, Hainault, and Avesnes; the streets were crowded with knights and soldiers, priests, artisans, and merchants; the churches were rich with stained glass, delicate tracery, and precious carving; there were libraries full of richly illuminated manuscripts on which the boy could gaze with delight; every year there was the fête of the puy d'Amour de Valenciennes,

at which he would hear the verses of the competing poets; there were festivals, masques, mummeries, and moralities. And, whatever there might be elsewhere, in this happy city there was only the pomp, and not the misery, of war; the fields without were tilled, and the harvests reaped, in security; the workman within plied his craft unmolested for good wage. But the eyes of the boy were turned upon the castle and not upon the town; it was the splendour of the knights which dazzled him, insomuch that he regarded and continued ever afterwards to regard a prince gallant in the field, glittering of apparel, lavish of largesse, as almost a god. The moon, he says, rules the first four years of life; Mercury the next ten; Venus follows. He was fourteen when the last goddess appeared to him in person, as he tells us, after the manner of his time, and informed him that he was to love a lady, "belle, jone, et gente." Await ing this happy event, he began to consider how best to earn his livelihood. They first placed him in some commercial position-impossible now to say of what kind—which he simply calls "la marchandise. This undoubtedly means some kind of buying and selling, not a handicraft at all. He very soon abandoned merchandise- car vaut mieux science qu'argens "—and resolved on becoming a learned clerk. He then naturally began to make verses, like every other learned clerk. Quite as naturally, and still in the character of a learned clerk, he fulfilled the prophecy of Venus, and fell in love. He found one day a demoiselle reading a book of romances. He did not know who she was, but stealing gently towards her, he asked her what book she was reading. It was the romance of Cleomades. He remarks the singular beauty of her blue eyes and fair hair, while she reads a page or two, and then-one would almost suspect a reminiscence of Dante

""

"

[ocr errors]

"Adont laissames nous le lire."

He was thus provided with that essential for soldier, knight, or poet, a mistress,—one for whom he could write verses. She was rich and he was poor; she was nobly born and he obscure; it was long before she would accept the devotion, even of the conventional kind which Froissart offered her, and which would in no way interfere with the practical business of her life. And in this hopeless way, the passion of the young poet remaining the same, and the coldness of the lady being unaltered, the course of this passion ran on for some time. Nor was it until the day of Froissart's departure from his native town that she gave him an interview and spoke kindly to him, even promising, with tears in her eyes, that "Doulce Pensée" would assure him that she would have no joyous day until she should see him again.

He was eighteen years of age; he had learned all that he wanted to learn; he possessed the mechanical art of verse; he had read the slender stock of classical literature accessible; he longed to see the world. He must already have acquired some distinction, because, on setting out for the court of England, he was able to take with him letters of recommendation from the king of Bohemia and the count of Hainault to Queen Philippa, niece of the latter. He was well received by the queen, always ready to welcome her own countrymen; he wrote ballades and virelays for her and her ladies. But after a year he began to pine for another sight of "la très douce, simple, et quoie," whom he loved loyally. Good Queen Philippa, perceiving his altered looks and guessing the cause, made him confess that he was in love and longed to see his mistress. She gave him his congé on the condition that he was to return. It is clear that the young clerk had already learned to ingratiate himself with princes.

The conclusion of his single love adventure is simply and unaffectedly told in his Trettie de l'Espinette Amoureuse. It was a passion conducted on the well-known lines of conven

« EelmineJätka »