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· As aftirmore, then loke ye love me nought,
And levir nad y ben to lyf ywrought,
Wherfore, wherfore, &c.—f. 93. It may perhaps be useful to observe, that the only copy of the “ Poésies” of Charles d'Orleans ever published, is a small octavo, printed at Paris in 1809, from a MS. in the library at Grenoble. The Abbé Sallier, in his notice of the duke', mentions another MS. of his poems, which came into the Bibliothéque du Roi with many other MSS. of the Comte de Seignelay, grandson of the great Colbert, and which formerly belonged to Katherine de Medicis. He states, that it consists of fifty-two balades, seven complaintes, one hundred and thirty-one chansons, and about four hundred rondels. The printed volume contains only two hundred and nine poems; so that, according to the Abbé's account, it is very imperfect. The splendid MS. of Orleans's works in the British Museum contains only one hundred and fifty-two poems, of which fourteen do not occur in the printed copy; namely, ten in French, three in English, and one in Latin, entitled “ Canticum seu Prosa;” whilst the contemporary English translation, in the Harleian Collection', consists of two hundred and nine pieces, of which the French originals of only one hundred and twenty appear in the volume printed at Paris. It is most probable, however, that the originals of all the English poems in that manuscript exist in the manuscript in the Bibliothèque du Roi, spoken of by the Abbé Sallier; and it is not a little extraordinary, that a perfect edition of the works of a member of the royal family of France should not long since have appeared, not merely because of his rank, but from the plaintive beauty and poetical merit which characterize so many of his productions. It is important to add, that the contemporary English translations are of considerable value; for, by comparing them with the originals, many obscure words in Chaucer, Lydgate, Gower, and our other early English writers, may be elucidated : hence, we the more lament the feeling which induces an individual, or an association of individuals, rich enough to print a relic of this nature, to confine it to ten or twenty persons. Avarice is at all times contemptible; but literary avarice—the wish to confine knowledge of any kind to a very limited circle ; the disposition which makes men hoard up information from the world at large-will, at all times, meet, at our hands, with the exposure and ridicule which such sentiments deserve. Thus it is, that even our great respect for many of the members of the “Roxburghe Club” does not prevent us from censuring the prin
· Mémoires de l'Académie des Inscriptions, tome xiii. p. 580.
ciple upon which it was founded and acts. Few objects would be more worthy of praise than a body of literary men joining their purses and talents for the dissemination of valuable neglected literature, by printing impressions accessible to those who are interested in the subject; but the very reverse has hitherto been the conduct of this society of bibliomaniacs. Opportunities are, however, given them of redeeming their character as literary men, by acting in a manner consistent with common sense and the age in which we live; and we therefore hope that, if they ever again print a volume worthy of attention, it will be with more enlarged views : with a more generous object, both towards the author and the public.
There are other MSS. in the British Museum which contain imperfect copies of some of Charles d'Orleans's poems; namely, the Lansdown MS. 380, and the Harleian MS. 6916; but the productions of other writers are introduced among them.
SOCIETY OF ANTIQUARIES.
It must be obvions that a Society incorporated “ for the study of Antiquity and the History of former times," must have peculiar and irresistible claims upon the attention of this work; and whatever may be our reluctance to enter upon a subject which almost every other periodical publication has treated with silent contempt, the objects which it professes to have in view, impel us to take it under our especial surveillance. We shall, therefore, from time to time, carefully report its proceedings; review its labours ; analyze the pretensions of its officers to their situations; and especially state those pre-eminent historical and antiquarian attainments to which such members as may be selected for its council will be indebted for the honour conferred upon them. In a word, we purpose becoming the “ Historians of the Society of Antiquaries ;" and at the same time that we shall remember that, to give a plain statement of such transactions as may occur will be one part of the duties we have undertaken, we shall bear in mind that it will be no less our province to scrutinize into the motives, and canvass the merits, of every change which may be proposed in its statutes, as well as of every act of its council. In the execution of this task, we shall be guided by no invidious or petty feelings. We, of course, are indifferent alike to the smiles or the frowns of the little senate or its doge; and whilst the humble tribute of our applause will never be wanting when it is deserved, we shall not be deterred from exposing every abuse which exists : nor shall we hesitate to point out whatever may appear to us likely to conduce to, or detract from, its reputation.
The Society of Antiquaries contains almost every distinguished writer on history and antiquities; and so far it is entitled to, and receives, our respect. But that respect, and, we may with great truth say, the respect of the public, is lessened by the disgraceful system of exclusion which has long marked the conduct of its chief officers, in selecting their own personal friends for the council, and passing over men whose talents are fully appreciated by the world ; by the frivolous nature of many of its publications; and by the manner in which it is conducted. We are, however, unwilling to trust ourselves further with the expression of our opinion of the present state of that body; for, as it is our most earnest wish to raise it in the public esteem, we naturally shrink from alluding more fully to the disrepute in which, we lament to say, it is deservedly held. As the zealous friends of the Society; as the admirers of the works, the learning, and the characters, of many of its Fellows; and, still more, as the co-adjutors of those Fellows in the researches by which they have attained a well merited eminence, we would, if it were in our power, adduce the benefits which, as a body, it has rendered to historical and antiquarian literature; and thus not only silence contumelious remarks, but demand universal homage to its services.
Unfortunately, however, we have no such panoply against the scoffs and jeers which are continually bestowed upon the Society of Antiquaries ; and, to confess the truth, we are afraid its proceedings have tended to render the name of an antiquary almost synonymous with Baotian dulness; a dulness, indeed, which has been hitherto equally impenetrable to the remonstrances of wisdom and the sarcasms of wit*. The best passports to public esteem which a literary institution can possess, are the indisputable merits of the individuals placed at its head; the talent and learning manifested in its publications; and the zeal with which it encourages every effort to promote the objects for which it was incorporated. But for what literary merits are the majority of the present officers and council of the Society distinguished ? Where are the works which ought to secure respect to it? Where are the proofs that it has illustrated the national annals, or made us acquainted with the manners, the customs, and the characters of our ancestors ?
* We allude to a very witty imitation of the proceedings at the meetings of the Society, which appeared in a satirical publication entitled " The Scourge;" and to some very just remarks on the manner in which it was conducted, which have at different times appeared in the Gentleman's Magazine, many of which were written by the late Mr. Gough.
We will not hazard sinking it still lower in estimation, and entailing immortal ridicule upon ourselves, by speaking of the “ Archæologia;" for if we were compelled to state the space which, in our opinion, would be required to contain all that is really important in the twenty-one volumes bearing that title, what should we be able to say?. · We wish to be understood as professing ourselves the warmest advocates of the Society of Antiquaries; but we are not the advocates of petty intrigue, of shameful neglect, or of a total abandonment of those principles which should regulate it. Our respect is for the Society, as it ought to be, and as we yet hope to see it governed; but we cannot descend to the hypocrisy of affecting to feel any esteem for it as it now exists.
Upon commencing our labours as the historians of that “ learned body," we shall lay before our readers a succinct account of its origin, its statutes, and its present state; contrasting its nominal with its real pecuniary resources, with remarks upon their application. But we are fortunately prevented, on the present occasion, from the disagreeable necessity of inquiring into the merits of its officers, or of the literary eminence of the twenty-one Fellows who have been selected from a body of eight hundred, to fill the office of counsellors ; because we have no space for a work of supererogation, that task having been too recently performed to be forgotten *. Thus we are not only spared the painful duty of commenting upon individuals who, in every other situation of life, are harmless and respectable, if not useful; but from repeating an exposition which tends so much to the degradation of the literary character of the Society. It is, indeed, to be hoped, that the result of the next election of its officers and council will afford room for no other observations than an admission of the wisdom manifested by its Fellows in their choice; and of congratulation, that they have recovered from their lethargy, and shaken off the yoke of an almost oriental bondage. To that recovery the statements which we shall in the mean time lay before them will, we have no doubt, powerfully tend.
Our readers do not require to be told, that the Society of Antiquaries was not incorporated until the 25th year of George the Second, 1751; nor is it necessary to explain at length the provisions of its charter. The body consists of a President, four Deputies or Vice-Presidents, and an indefinite number of Fellows. Of those Fellows, twenty-one form the council, who, as well as all the officers, are annually elected; that is to say, nine of the preceding council are retained, and twelve others are chosen in the room of those who retire. Power is also given by the charter to appoint so many and such persons as they
* See the “ Westminster Review” for April, 1827.
shall think proper to be treasurers, secretaries, clerks, and officers; and also to hire and employ one Serjeant at Mace, and such other servants as may be necessary. The visitors, “with power to compose and redress any differences or abuses, whereby the constitution, progress, improvement, and business thereof may suffer or be hindered,” are the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Chancellor, or Lord Keeper, the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal, and the two Principal Secretaries of State. Its present officers are the President, four Vice-Presidents, Treasurer, Director, two Secretaries, and Librarian; and the body at large consists of about eight hundred persons. In proceeding to examine the statutes of the Society, we shall only particularly notice those clauses which are remarkable. The first chapter treats “Of the making and repealing of Statutes ;” the second, “ Of the obligation to be signed by every Fellow;" the third, " Of the payments by the Fellows;" the fourth, “ Of the ordinary meetings;”. the fifth, “ Of the method of voting ;" the sixth, " Of the election and admission of Fellows ;" the seventh,“ Of the election of the President, Council, and officers ;” the eighth, “ Of the President and Deputy or Vice-Presidents;" the ninth, “ Of the Common Seal and Deeds;" the tenth, “ Of the Form and Causes of Expulsion;" the eleventh, “ Of Benefactors ;” the twelfth, “ Of Honorary Members ;" the thirteenth, “ Of the Management of the Estate and Revenues of the Society, and Payments of Money out of the same;" and the fourteenth, “ Of the publication of such papers or drawings as have been laid before it.” These fourteen “ chapters” fill about twelve quarto pages; and the principal parts that require comment are the way in which a man is let into the Society and that in which he may get out. Be he peer or commoner, he must pay eight guineas as his admission fee, and four guineas annually; or he may compound by paying down forty guineas besides his admission fee. He must also be propounded and recommended by three or more Fellows, either upon their personal knowledge or on his being known to the Society by his works; and a paper is to be delivered by them to the secretaries, “ signed by themselves with their own names," a rather unnecessary caution against forgery, “ specifying the name, addition, profession, and chief qualifications of the candidate, and the usual place of his abode, which paper is to be fixed up and remain in the meeting-room at four several ordinary successive meetings before the said candidate shall be put to the ballot, which four meetings shall be exclusive of the day when he is propounded and the day when he is balloted for.” So much for commoners: whence it appears, that whether the candidate be a second Camden or a Dugdale, or a man who knows as much of history and antiquities us of the Chaldean language, he must
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