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

of C arzkature 
Although thefe performances were profcribed by the eccleiiaftical 
laws, they were not difcountenanced by the ecclefiafiics themfelves, Who, 
on the contrary, indulged as much in after-dinner amufements as any- 
body. The laws againft the profane fongs are often direeted efpecially 
at the clergy; and it is evident that among the Anglo-Saxons, as well 
as on the Continent, not only the priefts and monks, but the nuns alfo, 
in their love of fuch amufements, far tranfgreH'ed the bounds of decencyit 
Thefe entertainments were the cradle of comic literature, but, as this 
literature in the early ages of its hiflory was rarely committed to Writing, 
it has almofl entirely perifhed. But, at the tables of the eccleiiailics, 
W6 Y6 
fo eafily carried in the memory as the vernacular tongue, in this lan- 
guage they were fometimes committed to writing, and thus a few 
examples of early comic literature have fortunately been preferved. Thefe 
confiit chiefly of popular Ptories, which were among the favourite amufe- 
ments of mediaeval fociety--ftories many of which are derived from the 
earlieit period of the hiftory of our race, and are Pcill cheriihed among 
our peafantry. Such are the ftories of the Child of Snow, and of 
the Mendacious Hunter, preferved in a 
century.1" The firfc of thefe was a very 
manufcript of the eleventh 
popular {lory in the middle 
ages. According to this early verfion, a merchant of Conftance, in 
Switzerland, was detained abroad for feveral years, during which time 
his wife made other acquaintance, and bore a child. On his return, {he 
excufed her fault by telling him that on a cold wintry day {he had 
fwallowed (how, by which {he had conceived; and, in revenge, the 
hufband carried away the child, and fold it into Ilavery, and returning, 
at On the character of the nuns among the Anglo-Saxons, and indeed of the 
inmates of the monastic houses generally, I would refer my readers to the excellent 
and intereeting volume by Mr. John Thrupp, " The Anglo-Saxon Home: a 
History of the Domestic Institutions and Customs of England from the fifth to the 
eleventh century." London,-1862. 
1' These will be found in M. Edelestand du Meril's Poesies Populaires Latinas 
anterieures au douzieme siecle, pp. 275, 276,


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