Alkmar, Henry

, a supposed writer, whose name leads to a dissertation, rather than a life, passes for the author of a poem in old German, and very popular in Germany, under the title of “Reineke de Voss,” or “Reynard the Fox.” It is a kind of satire on the manners of the times during the ‘feudal system. All that is known of Alkmar is, that he lived about the year 1470, and was governor, or preceptor, of one of the dukes of Lorraia. The first edition of Reynard was printed at Lubeck in 1498, and it was frequently reprinted at Rostock, Francfort, ancl Hamburgh; and as the name of H. d’ Alkmar occurs in the preface of the Lubeck edition, which was long considered to be the first, he has as uniformly passed for the author of the poem. There is, however, in the library of the city of Lubeck, a copy of a work with the same title and nearly the same contents, but more full, and in prose, which was printed at Delft in 1485; and one has been discovered still older, printed at Goudesor Tergow, by Gerard Leew, in 1479. These two Reynards are exactly the same, written in the Dutch or Flemish dialect, which differs little from thatof Friesland, Westphalia, or Lower Saxony. It would appear then, that Alkmar had done no more than to versify 'and enlarge the fictions of the old Reynard. He says himself, in the preface, that he translated the present work from the Welch, | and the French. Whatever may be the case with the Welch, ,*


Our French authority says, “On ne sait trop ce qu’il entend par la langue Welché.

as he mentions the French, his evidence accords with known facts, and with the opinion of Le Grand d’Aussay, in his “Notices et Extraits des manuscrits de la bibliotheque de Paris” (vol. V. p. 249), namely, that the poem of Reynard is of French origin, and that Pierre de St. Cloud was the author, whose Reynard was written in prose in the thirteenth century; and that the poem of the same name, the production of Jaquemars Gélée or Giellée, at Lisle, is only an imitation of the former. There are, however, many resemblances to Reynard in the German poets of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, from which it may perhaps be inferred that Reynard is of German origin, and older than the work of Pierre de St. Cloud. It has always been a very popular work in Germany, and the grammarian Gottsched published a fine edition, with an introduction, interpretation, and plates, while the celebrated Goethe has taken great pains to restore the text, and paraphrase it in hexameters. It has also been translated into Latin, Italian, Danish, Swedish, and English. Caxton’s edition, 1481, is described by Ames and Herbert, and more fully by Mr. Dibdin in his new edition of Ames’s Typographical Antiquities, vol. I. The Latin edition of Schopperus is very elegant, and has often been reprinted. Dreyer, syndic of Lubeck, published a curious work in 1768, 4to, on the use that may be made of Reynard the Fox in studying German antiquities and law. It yet remains to be noticed that Tiaden, a German writer, ascribes Reynard to one Nicholas Baumann, who died in 1503; but the opinions already given, and the dates of the ancient editions, seem to render this very improbable. 1

Biog. Universelle.