Page:Tarsot - Fabliaux et Contes du Moyen Âge 1913.djvu/12

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and the village oven, would amuse the people with stories of Reynard the Fox and Isengrim the Wolf, with mock sermons, and with those countless satirical skits and more or less moral tales called fabliaux.

Intended largely for the people, and dealing mainly with the people — though the nobility and clergy are not spared — these fabliaux are interesting chiefly because they depict the real life of their time ; as we read we behold the sturdy beggar on the road, the well-to-do student riding home from the university, the judge settling a lawsuit, the peasant driving his horse to the fair, or killing his pig — then as now an event of importance — the king’s tailors getting a treat of honey, in days when sugar was unknown, the aged and helpless father at the mercy of an undutiful son, the husband taming a shrewish wife, youthful lovers stealing an interview at the postern gate. We learn how our forefathers lived, and how little human nature has changed notwithstanding the marvels of modern civilisation ; lastly we stand at the fountain-head of that esprit gaulois, of that satirical spirit of free-spoken jocularity which has ever been one of the distinctive traits of the French genius.

J. E. M.

Edinburgh, December 1913.