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marriage of Falsehood and Lady Mede (Bribery), on the ground of her pre-contract to Truth.* Meed is arrested by beadles and bailiffs and brought before the King's Court at Westminster. The King summons Reason as an assessor. He advises the King to do justice, and Meed has to become mainpernor for future good behaviour.t In Chaucer the Court of Love and the Cuckoo and the Nightingale have something of a legal aspect, but in the Assembly of Fowles the actual procedure of the King's Court seems to be the principle on which the poem is framed. The plot, probably derived from a French fabliau, is as follows :-The poet dreams that he comes on St. Valentine's Day into a garden where sits the Goddess of Nature, and to her presence came all fowls “ to take her doom.” A formel eagle is set for a prize as mate to the most worthy fowl. Three tercel eagles state their pretensions. Certain birds give what may be called a verdict. Nature calls on the formel eagle for judgment. She says Curia advisari vult, and asks for a year to prepare judgment, which is conceded. Dunbar's Golden Targe deals with the Courts of Venus and of Cupid, but there seems to be a confusion-intentional or not-between the two meanings of the word Court, just as in curia regis.
* At that time pre-contract was an impediment to marriage. The disability of pre-contract was abolished by 32 Hen. VIII., c. 38, then revived and reenacted, finally abolished by Lord Hardwicke's Act, 26 Geo. II., c. 33, s. 13, re-enacted by 4 Geo. IV., C. 76, s. 27. Not only was it an impediment to marriage, but either party to the pre-contract might, until Lord Hardwicke's Act, sue in the Court Christian for specific performance of the contract. See Baxter v. Buckley, 1 Lee 42.
+ This is perhaps not very correct law. The mainpernor seems to have been a person other than the accused. “The writ de manucaptione (af mainprise) was appropriated to cases in which a person had been taken on suspicion of felony and had tendered manucaptors or mainpernors who had been refused" (Stephen, Hist. of the Crim. Law, i., 240). Further, Meed does not seem to have been in contempt, and the fact of an alleged pre-contract was scarcely ground for arrest. But Langland was not writing: a work on procedure.
Gavin Douglas' Palace of Honour is more distinctly legal. The poet is put on his trial before the Court of Venus for writing a libellous ballad against the goddess. He pleads to the jurisdiction, not the very good plea that the goddess was judge in her own cause, but (1) that ladies may not be judges; (2) that the writer, as a spiritual man, is not amenable to a lay court, but ought "to be remit to my judge ordinair.” He is granted a conditional pardon, the condition being the writing of a ballad in praise of love. The rest of the poem is a fulfilment of the condition. In the Elizabethan period several instances occur. Among others may be mentioned His Heart arraigned of Theft and acquitted,* and Sidney's Astrophel and Stella, Sonnet 52.
The type of poem continues as a living thing through the centuries. It passes down through Cowper's Report of an adjudged Caset to the present year, in which the following verses by the writer appeared in a periodical. They are not claimed to be particularly good as verse, but they are an illustration of the type.
WINTER AND SPRING.
With ice and snow his họary haired assessors
Sits winter on his throne that is a tomb,
Meet for severest doom.
Swift streams ye hasten onward to the sea,
In high contempt of me.
Birds, flowers, and streams, and each be made my thrall,
And I be lord of all."
* Davison's Poetical Rhapsody, (ed. by Bullen, 1891), i., 37. The poem is by A. W. + The well-known
“Between nose and eyes a strange contest arose."
The flowers appeal, and ready for revision
Sits Spring in Council, June is there and May,
Then gravely Spring doth say:
Affirms the judgment, varying it thus,
To be demised to us."
A few cases of poems dealing with procedure not in the tenso form are worth a short notice. In them all the poet is more or less under the influence of legal ideas, and in the first case, that of the will, there is almost as long and complete a continuity as in the tenso.
Wills.-At what time or in what language the poetic will began cannot be said, but examples occur certainly as early as the fifteenth century in the famous Grand and Petit Testaments of Villon. In the Cancionero of Hernando de Castillo already mentioned there are two, El Testamento de Amores* and a similar one supposed to have been made by a Portuguese. Among later romances in imitation of the older Romancero poems the testament of Don Quixote became a commonplace, and appears in several forms. Sanchez de Badajoz went rather farther, and wrote his own will in poetry, beginning in proper form and proceeding at great length in nine leciones or lessons. I Numerous French verse wills occur in the Bibliothèque Elzevirienne, already mentioned. In England there is Gascoigne's Last Will and Testament, and there have been many real wills which the eccentricity of testators has led them to clothe in rhyme. Many of them will be found in books dealing with the curiosities of law,
* Edition of 1882, No. 154.
+ Id., No. 207.
Quiero ordenar mi postrema
Trial by Battle.-In addition to the case in Reynard the Fox (above) in which was enacted the dramatic scene which we did not finally lose sight of in England till 1819,* both Icelandic and French literature supply further instances. Thor's wager of battle with Rungai was versified by Thiodwolf, though it is only fair to say that the wager is not prominent, as it is in Snorri's prose version.t In Huon de Meri's Tournoyement de l'Antechrist, the virtues under Christ engage and defeat the vices under Antichrist. This is only one out of many examples of the idea of the judicium Dei in medieval romances, both prose and verse.
The idea may be derived partly from the tournament, partly from the judicial combat. I Citation.—The familiar lines of Shakespeare's sonnet,
“ When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past," suggest the consideration of poems in the form of citation or summons. The troubadour poetry, full of legal phrases as it was,ş had more than one attempt of this kind. A citation
1 B. & A. 405; 59 Geo. III., C. 46. + Corpus Poeticum Boreale, ii., 16. The ordeal also occurs in Icelandic verse in the vigorous description of the ordeal of Gudona, id., i., 322.
| For the importance of the idea in the De Monarchia of Dante see the February number of this Magazine. § As in Peire Rogier :
Mon Tort n'avetz prec, s'a leis platz,
Bartsch, 82. In modern French law it is thought necessary to give the president of the Court in a criminal trial power qu'il peut interdire à un accusé de présenter sa défense en vers, Hélie, Pratique Criminelle, i., 421. Such a rule of law is hardly necessary in England. The writer, however, well remembers a prisoner at assizes handing to the Court a written defence concluding with the pathetic lines:
I didn't go for to do it,
of the Consistory of the Gay Science at Toulouse is contained in Las Joyas del Gay Saber.* It is by an'anonymous writer, and runs thus in bald prose: “To all experts in the art of rhetoric, commonly called Gay Saber, who are wont to collect the first day of May at the present city to practice nobility and give lovely flowers, we, Chancellor, have set commandments; we make known that next Sunday we shall give as is meet a branch of silver for the pear of pain.t And it is also our will to remind you to make compositions new and well divided, complete in three stanzas only of nine lines each, so that your good sense may be notable in the verses, for by knowledge ye will come to great honour. And above all forget not that this refrain fail not at the end ; To the heart doth strike me the pear of pain."
IV.-SOME THIRTEENTH CENTURY
N a recent numberţ of the Law Magazine I referred to
the history of the Provisions of Merton, a subject which I propose to consider further in the present article. But before speaking of the Provisions, I shall add a few remarks to those, which I there made, on the Assisa Panis.
The instrument printed in the Statutes of the Realm does not differ in substance from those found in Bracton's Note Bookỹ and the Annals | of Burton; and it is probable that
+ Hun branc d'argent am la pera d'enguoys. At the time of writing my last article I was not aware that Dr. Gross had published the Statutum de Judæis exiundis in his Exchequer of the Fews. His text, however, is not taken from the Memoranda Rolls.
§ Vol. iii., p. 302.