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

in Literature and Art. 7'7 
carvings, than individual men under the forms of the animals who difplayed 
iimilar characters or Iimilar propentities. Cunning, treachery, and 
intrigue were the prevailing vices of the middle ages, and they were thofe 
alfo of the fox, who hence became a favourite character in fatire. The 
victory of craft over force always provoked mirth. The fabulilts, or, we 
Ihould perhaps rather fay, the fatirifts, foon began to extend their canvas 
and enlarge their picture, and, inltead of tingle examples of fraud or 
injutiice, they introduced a variety of characters, not only foxes, but 
wolves, and fheep, and bears, with birds alto, as the eagle, the cock, and 
the crow, and mixed them up together in long narratives, which thus 
formed general fatires on the vices of contemporary fociety. In this 
manner originated the celebrated romance of " Reynard the Fox," which 
in various forms, from the twelfth century to the eighteenth, has enjoyed 
a popularity which was granted probably to no other book. The plot of 
this remarkable fatire turns chieidy on the long {iruggle between the 
brute force of Ifengrin the Wolf, poH'eH'ed only with a fmall amount of 
intelligence, which is eafily deceived_11nder which character is prefented 
the powerful feudal baron-and the craftinefs of Reynard the Fox, who 
reprefents the intelligent portion of fociety, which had to hold its ground 
by its wits, and thefe were continually abufed to evil purpofes. Reynard 
is fwayed by a conftant irnpulfe to deceive and victimife everybody, 
whether friends or enemies, but efpecially his uncle Ifengrin. It was 
fornewhat the relationlhip between the ecclefialtical and baronial 
ariftocracy. Reynard was educated in the fchools, and intended for 
the clerical order; and at dilferent times he is reprefented as acting 
under the difguife of a priett, of a monk, of a pilgrim, or even of a 
prelate of the church. Though frequently reduced to the greatelt 
{traits by the power of Ifengrin, Reynard has generally the better of it 
in the end: he robs and defrauds Ifengrin continually, outrages his 
wife, who is half in alliance with him, and draws him into all forts of 
dangers and fufferings, for which the latter never fucceeds in obtaining 
juitice. The old fculptors and artifls appear to have preferred exhibiting 
Reynard in his ecclefialtical difguifes, and in thefe he appears often in the 
ornamentation of mediaeval architectural fculpture, in wood-carvings, in 


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