Volltext: A history of caricature and grotesque in literature and art

0f Caricature and 
fcandalous Itories of perfons living, and well known to thofe who heard 
them. A capitulary of the Frankifh king Childeric III., publifhed in 
the year 744, is directed againft thofe who compofe and ling fongs in 
defamation of others (in l1la_[]0hemiam allerius, to ufe the rather energetic 
language of the original); and it is evident that this offence was a very 
common one, for it is not unfrequently repeated in later records of this 
character in the fame words or in Words to the fame purpofe. Thus one 
refult of the overthrow of the Roman empire was to leave comic literature 
almolt in the fame condition in which it was found by Theipis in Greece 
and by Livius Andronicus in Rome. There was nothing in it which 
would be contrary to the feelings of the new races who had now planted 
themfelves in the Roman provinces. 
The Teutonic and Scandinavian nations had no doubt their popular 
feitivals, in which mirth and frolic bore fway, though we know little 
about them; but there were circumftances in their domeftic manners 
which implied a necefiity for amufement. After the comparatively early 
meal, the hall of the primitive Teuton was the icene_efpecialIy in the 
darker months of winter-of long fittings over the feftive board, in which 
there was much drinking and much talking, and, as we all know, fuch 
talking could not preferve long a very ferious tone. From Bede's account 
of the poet Caedmcn, we learn that it was the practice of the Anglo-Saxons 
in the feventh century, at their entertainments, "for all thofe prefent 
to ting in their turns, each accompanying himfelf with a mutical 
inftrument. From the fequel of the Itory we are led to fuppofe that 
thefe fongs were extemporary effufions, probably mythic legends, itories 
of perfonal adventure, praife of themfelves, or vituperation of their 
enemies. In the chieftainis houfehold there appears to have been 
ufually fome individual who acted the part of the fatirift, or, as we Ihould 
perhaps now fay, the comedian. Hunferth appears as holding fome fuch 
pofition in Beowulf; in the later romances, Sir Kay held a fimilar petition 
at the court of king Arthur. At a {till later period, the place of thefe 
heroes was occupied by the court fool. The Roman mimus mutt have been 
a welcome addition to the entertainments of the Teutonic hall, and there 
is every reafon to think that he was cordially received. The performances 


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