JAMES'S LIFE OF C4EUR-DE-LION.
THE two volumes of this unfinished publication contain about eight hundred and twenty pages ; of which only the odd score or thereabouts are devoted to RICHARD the Lion-heart, and narrate his boyish campaign in the South of France against some insurgent nobles. The rest of this ill-planned and ill-executed work consists of various matters, several having about the same kind of rela- tion to RICHARD as all mundane events have to Adam. There is a long introduction, giving a sort of history of England from the Conquest to the death of King STEPHEN; half the work is occu- pied with the reign of HENRY the Second, which is still unfinished ; there is an account of the disputes between FREDERIC BARBA. BOSSA and Pope ALEXANDER; and a sketch of the history of Palestine from the time of JULIAN the Apostate ; to be followed, apparently, by an elaborate history of the Crusades, as one-fourth of the work is occupied with the mere beginnings of those expe- ditions—from the preaching of PETER the Hermit to the taking of Antioch, 1095-1098.
This process of swelling out subjects beyond their natural ex-
tent by forcibly tacking other subjects on to them can only be attributed to the trading views of a book-manufacturer, unwilling to lose any thing which he may have picked up in the course of his reading. Even in this sordid and narrow view, the artifice defeats itself. The absence of unity of subject distracts the reader's at- tention; whilst those who looked for a fulfilment of the promise of the titlepage are disappointed, and the disappointment affects their power of application. These drawbacks operate under any circum- stances : in the work before us, an execution superficial yet tedious, and ever below the theme, is added to a deficient plan. The Introduc- tion contains nothing which is not already found in other historians, though it omits a great deal which they tell ; or if there is a literal exception to this assertion, it is to be met in a particular fact or anecdote they may have passed over. The story of the reign of HENRY the Second is extended to a length sufficient to have served for a professed history of his times ; yet any one who has read any historical work beyond a school-book will learn little more than he knows already, (unless be gain a more distinct idea of HENRY'S activity, and of his gross and unprincipled incontinence,) because Mr. JAMES, instead of deducing broad results from a number of small occurrences, narrates these small occurrences at length. The narrative of young RicHAnn's campaign in France and the Py- rennees, though not very striking in itself or very strikingly told, is characteristic of the Lion-heart, and has a unity of subject. The story of the Crusaders, so far as it goes, is the best part of the book ; Mr. JAMES having gone over the original authorities, and filled in the details from their minute narratives, whilst the subject is so large, and the particulars often are so curious in themselves, that this amplification rather creates additional interest. At the same time, nothing novel either in facts or view is displayed in this part, any more than elsewhere. The reader who has perused the fifty- eighth chapter of GIBBON will have acquired all the leading facts relating to the whole of the First Crusade, with the advantage of a commentary which Mr. JAMES has no pretensions to supply.
To this criticism it may be answered, that the author did not pre-
tend to novelty : in the words of his preface, he would "not take it for granted that the reader is already acquainted with any thing ma- terially affecting that which he has to narrate " ; though he admits it may be necessary "to repeat or abridge what others have before said upon the subject." A person has an undoubted right, or at least an undoubted power, to make a book from HUME, GIBBON, Lord LYTTELTON, and other writers equally difficult of access ; but he must not expect to reap the praise or profit of an original author, aiming at supplying a literary vacuum by the treatment of some im- portant but hithero neglected subject,—especially when he brings neither elegance nor spirit to set off matter which is common property.
Of course, so extensive a work, dealing with periods very curious in themselves and important for their influence upon future times, is not altogether barren of valuable passages. Sometimes a preg- nant fact, sometimes a characteristic anecdote, is dug up by the plodding industry of Mr. JAMES; and here and there a commentary of some value may be found. The book is indeed a desert, but not altogether without oases. Of these verdant spots the following are perhaps about the best examples. TRAINING OF A SQUIRE.
Such was in some degree the training of a youth till he arrived at fourteen
years of age ; but then came a period at which more laborious exercises suc- ceeded. a S * Bearing heavy weights, running immense distances, en- during every sort of fatigue, springing on a horse armed at all pieces without putting a foot in the stirrup, and even leaping on the shoulders of a man on horseback with no other aid than a grasp of one arm, were among the per- formances of the aspirants to chivalry. Besides these feats, we read of others in the historians of those days, requiring equal strength and exertion,—such. as mounting by means of the arms alone the lower side of a long ladder, casting complete summersets in heavy armour, and climbing up between two walls at a small distance apart, by the pressure of the hands and feet only.. Casting lances to great distances, and striking heavy balls of wood with large rackets or malls, were among the amusements of the youths of Europe at that period, besides that regular practice in the use of all weapons which daily took place. Almost all of their sports and pastimes indeed were of a military character. That which VMS called the Chicane, and which was practised in several parts of France within the last century, together with dancing, chess, and some few games of chance, were the only exceptions, I believe ; and indeed the chicane, which consisted in following a heavy wooden ball, and beating it with malls beyond certain limits defended by another party, might well be considered a military sport, as well as hunting and hawking, from the dangers mid accidents which continually occurred in such amusements.
- Though the tournament, the joust, and the passage of arms, did not admit of
any but experienced and mature cavaliers, yet there were many other military pastimes of the day in which the more youthful nobility could take part, and practise against each other a mimic warfare. Among these was the game of the Quintaine; which consisted in running with a lance or sword, either OR horseback or on foot, at a wooden figure representing the upper part of a man's body. This WAS impaled upon a strong post, on which it turned with the slightest touch ; and both arms of the figure being extended, a lance or long sword was found in the one hand, and sometimes a shield or another pole in the other. As in all tournaments and other chivalrous sports it was held unfair to strike an adversary anywhere but on the chest or helmet, the great object in the game of the quiutaine was so to direct the lance or sword with which the player attacked his wooden adversary, as to touch the figure directly in the middle; but if the luckless cavalier chanced to miss his mark and strike too much to the right or left, the automaton instantly took vengeance of Ida awkwardness by whirling round in consequence of the very blow he gave it, and striking him violently with the weapons it carried in either hand.
The Behour was simply another military sport ; and consisted in the attack of a small fortress, or redoubt, by one party, and its defence by others ; and as in all these amusements many accidents occurred and some peril was en- countered, strength and hardihood were acquired, and a knowledge of danger and acquaintance with pain were gained, not unaccompanied by contempt of risk and habit of endurance.
SPLENDOURS OF cnivararr.
The arms and clothing of the knights were of the most sumptuous and costly description. Their shields were covered with gold, and painted or enamelled with various colours; their tents also were ornamented in every different way that their fancy could devise; the crests of their helmets blazed with the precious metals, and sometimes with jewels ; and the robes and the surcoats which they wore were formed of the richest silks and cendals, of scarlet and every other bright and dazzling hue. Fine linen which was then a rarity, was eagerly sought among them ; and we find from Lim of Salisbury, that it was becoming the custom in that day to make the garments of the male part of society, when not absolutely in the field, fit so tightly to the body as to resemble a skin. At the great meetings of princes, every sort of pa- geantry and luxury was displayed : and in the year 1174 one of those con- ferences occurred, in which splendour and profusion were carried to an excess that more resembled some of the wild follies of the Roman tyrants or the ex- travagant pomp of Eastern barbarians, than any thing that modern Europe has produced. In the course of that year, the Count of Toulouse as much, in all probability, with the design of being absent from a scene of warfare, where he might have been obliged to take part with one of two princes to each of whom he had done homage, as for the purpose of arranging some difficult affairs on his eastern frontier, retired from his capital towards the Gulf of Lyons,and held what was then called a cour pleniere at his castle of Beaucafre. It is affirmed, that Henry King of England himself had appointed to meet the King of Arragon at that place, in order to mediate a reconciliation be- tween him and the Count of Toulouse. The English King, however, WRS prevented from attending by the war in which he was engaged ; and the time passed in festivities and sports. Nearly ten thousand knights are said to have been present on the occasion ; one baron alone, named William de Martel, having three hundred knights in his train. Every one endeavoured to sur- pass the other in extravagance : the Count of Toulouse gave a hundred thousand solidi, or two thousand marks of fine silver, to a knight named Ray- mond d'Agout ; who immediately distributed them among the other persons present. William de Martel required all his repasts to be cooked by the heat of wax-candles. Bertrand Raimbaud ordered the fields in the neighbourhood of the castle to be ploughed, and sown with small coin; in which insane act he scattered thirty thousand solidi : and Raymond de Venous, to add brutality to folly, caused thirty of his finest horses to be burnt before the whole assembly.