Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

PROM EARLIEST

torical kind relating to England, and communicated THE NORDIAN POETS OF ENGLAND.

them to Geoffrey, by whom they were put into the The first literary productions which call for at form of a regular historical work, and introduced tention after the Conquest, are a class which may for the first time to the learned world, as far as a be considered as in a great measure foreign to the learned world then existed. As little else than a country and

its language. Before the invasion of bundle of incredible stories, some of which may be England by William, poetical literature had begun slightly founded on fact, this production is of small to be cultivated in France with considerable marks worth ; but it supplied a ground for Wace's poem, of spirit and taste. The language, which from its and proved an unfailing resource for the writers of origin was named Romane (lingua Romana),* was romantic narrative for the ensuing two centuries ; separated into two great divisions, that of the south, nor even in a later age was its influence exhausted; which is represented popularly by the Provençal, for from it Shakspeare drew the story of Lear, and and that of the north, which was subdivided into Sackville that of Ferrex and Porrex, while Drayton French and Anglo-Norman, the latter dialect being reproduces much of it in his Polyolbion, and it has that chiefly confined to our island. The poets of given occasion to many allusions in the poems of the south were called in their dialect trobadores, or Milton and others.* troubadours, and those of the north were distinguished Maistre Wace also composed a History of the Nor. by the same title, written in their language trouveres. mans, under the title of the Roman de Rou, that is, In Provence, there arose a series of elegant versifiers, the Romance of Rollo, first Duke of Normandy, who employed their talents in composing romantic and some other works. Henry II., from admiration and complimentary poems, full of warlike and ama- of his writings, bestowed upon him a canonry in the tory sentiment, which many of them made a busi- cathedral of Bayeux. Benoit, a contemporary of ness of reciting before assemblages of the great. Wace, and author of a History of the Dukes of Nor. Norman poets, writing with more plainness and sim- mandy; and Guernes, an ecclesiastic of Pont St plicity, were celebrated even before those of Pro- Maxence, in Picardy, who wrote a metrical life of vence; and one, named Taillefer, was the first man Thomas à Becket, are the other two Norman poets of to break the English ranks at the battle of Hastings. most eminence whose genius or whose writings can From the preference of the Norman kings of Eng- be connected with the history of English literature. land for the poets of their own country, and the These writers composed most frequently in rhymed general depression of Anglo-Saxon, it results that couplets, each line containing eight syllables.f the distinguished literary names of the first two centuries after the Conquest are those of NORMAN COMMENCEMENT OF THE PRESENT FORM OF ENGLISH. Poets, men who were as frequently natives of Of the century following the Conquest, the only France as of England. Philippe de Thaun, author other compositions that have come down to us as of treatises on popular science in verse; Thorold, the production of individuals living in, or connected who wrote the fine romance of Roland ; Samson

* Ellis's Metrical Romances. de Nanteuil, who translated the proverbs of Solomon into French verse; Geoffroi Gaimar, author description of the ceremonies and sports presumed to have taken

+ Ellis's Specimens, i., 35–59. A short passage from Wace's of a chronicle of the Anglo-Saxon kings; and David, place at King Arthur's coronation, will give an idea of the a trouveere of considerable eminence, whose works writings of the Norman poets. It is extracted from Mr Ellis's are lost, were the most noted predecessors of one of work, with his notes :much greater celebrity, named Maistre WACE, a

*Quant li rois leva del mangier, native of Jersey. About 1160, Wace wrote, in his

Alé sunt tuit esbanoier, native French, a narrative poem entitled Le Brut

De la cité es champs issirent; D' Angleterre (Brutus of England). The chief hero

A plusors gieux se despartirent. was an imaginary son of Æneas of Troy, who was

Li uns alerent bohorder, represented as having founded the state of Britain

Et les ineaux chevalx monstrer: many centuries before the Christian era.

This was

Li autre alerent escremir, no creation of the fancy of the Norman poet. He

Ou pierres getier, ou saillir. only translated a serious history, written a few years

Tielx i avoit qui dars lancoent,

Et tielx i avoit qui lutoent; before in Latin by a monk named GEOFFREY OF Mon

Chascun del gieu s'entremetoit, MOUTH, in which the affairs of Britain were traced

Qui entremetre se savoit. with all possible gravity through a series of ima

Cil qui son compaignon vainquoit, ginary kings, beginning with Brutus of Troy, and

Et qui d'aucun gieu pris avoit, ending with Cadwallader, who was said to have

Estoit sempres au roi mené, lived in the year 689 of the Christian era.

Et à tous les autres monstré ; This istory is a very remarkable work, on account

Et li rois del sien li donoit, of its origin, and its effects on subsequent literature.

Tant donc cil liez s'en aloit. The Britons, settled in Wales, Cornwall, and Bre

Les dames sor les murs aloent, tagne, were distinguished at this time on account of

Por esgarder ceulx qui joient. the numberless fanciful and fabulous legends which

Qui ami avoit en la place,

Tost li tornost l'oil ou la face. they possessed -a traditionary kind of literature resembling that which has since been found amongst

Trois Jorz dura la feiste ainsi ;

Quand vint au quart, au mercredi, the kindred people of the Scottish Highlands. For

Li rois les bacheliers fieufas centuries past, Europe had been supplied with tale

Enors deliverez devisa, 6 and fable from the teeming fountain of Bretagne, as

Lor servise a celx rendi, it now is with music from Italy, and metaphysics

Qui por terre l'orent servi: from Germany. Walter Calenius, archdean of Ox

Bois dona, et ehasteleriez, ford, collected some of these of a professedly his

[ocr errors]

Et evesquiez, et abbaiez.
A ceulx qui d'autres terres estoient,

Qui par amor au roi venoent,
* Any book written in this tongue was cited as the livre
Romans (liber Romanus), and most frequently as simply the

Dona coupes, dona destriers, Romans: as a great portion of these were works of fiction, the

Dona de ses avers plus chers. &c.' term has since given rise to the word now in general use. * To amuse themselves. 2 To just. 3 Fleet (isnel). To leap

5 Ficpu, gave fiefs. 6 He gave them llyries of lands.

rimanee.

[ocr errors]

with, England, are works written in Latin by learned
ecclesiastics, the principal of whom were John of [Extract from the Sacon Chronicle, 1154.]
Salisbury, Peter of Blois, Joseph of Exeter, and
GEOFFREY of MONMOUTH, the last being the author

On this yær wærd the King Stephen ded, and of the History of England just alluded to, which is bebyried there his wif and his sune wæron bebyried æt

Tauresfeld. That ministre hi makiden. 'I'ha the supposed to have been written about the year 1138. About 1154, according to Dr Johnson, the Saxon king was ded, tha was the eorl beionde sæ. And ne began to take a form in which the beginning of the of him. Tha he to Engleland come, tha was he under

durste nan man don other bute god for the micel eie present English may plainly be discovered.' It does not, as already hinted, contain many Norman fangen mid micel wortscipe ; and to king bletcæd in words, but its grammatical structure is considerably Lundine, on the Sunnen dæi beforen mid-winter-dæi.

Literally translated thus :- A. D. 1154. In this year altered. There is a metrical Saxon or English translation, by one" LAYAMON, a priest of Ernely, on the wife and his son were buried, at Touresfield. That

was the King Stephen dead, and buried where his Severn, from the Brut d'Angleterre of Wace. Its date

minister they made. When the king was dead, then is not ascertained; but if it be, as surmised by some writers, a composition of the latter part of the twelfth other but good for the great awe of him. When he

was the earl beyond sea. And not durst no man do century, we must consider it as throwing a valuable to England came, then was he received with great light on the history of our language at perhaps the worship; and to king consecrated in London, on the most important period of its existence. A specimen, Sunday before mid-winter-day (Christmas day).' in which the passage already given from Wace is translated, is presented in the sequel. With reference to a larger extract given by Mr Ellis, of which [Extract from the account of the Proceedings at Arthur's the other is a portion, that gentleman remarks- As

Coronation, given by Layamon, in his translation of it does not contain any word which we are under the

Wace, executed about 1180.] * necessity of referring to a French origin, we cannot

Tha the kingt igetenl hafde but consider it as simple and unmixed, though very

And al his mon-weorede,2 barbarous, Saxon. At the same time,' he continues,

Tha bugan3 out of burhge “the orthography of this manuscript, in which we see,

Theines swithen balde. for the first time, the admission of the soft g, toge

Alle tha kinges, ther with the Saxong, as well as some other peculiari.

And heore here-thringes.4 ties, seems to prove that the pronunciation of our lan

Alle tha biscopes, guage had already undergone a considerable change.

And alle tha clarckes, Indeed, the whole style of this composition, which

Alle the eorles, is broken into a series of short unconnected sentences,

And alle tha beornes. and in which the construction is as plain and artless

Alle tha theines, as possible, and perfectly free from inversions, ap

Alle the sweines, pears to indicate that little more than the substitu

Feire iscrudde, 5 tion of a few French for the present Saxon words

Helde geond felde. was now necessary to produce a resemblance to that

Summe heo gunnen7 cruen, 8 Anglo-Norman, or English, of which we possess a

Summe heo gunnen urnen, 9 few specimens, supposed to have been written in the

Summe heo gunnen lepen, early part of the thirteenth century. Layamon's

Summe heo gunnen sceoten, 10 versification is also no less remarkable than his lan

Summe heo wrestleden guage. Sometimes he seems anxious to imitate the

And wither-gome makeden, 11 rhymes, and to adopt the regular number of syllables,

Summe heo on velde which he had observed in his original ; at othe

Pleouweden under scelde, 12 times he disregards both, either because he did not

Summe heo driven balles consider the laws of metre, or the consonance of

Wide geond the feldes. final sounds, as essential to the gratification of his

Moni ane kunnes gomen readers; or because he was unable to adapt them

Ther heo gunnen drinen.13 throughout so long a work, from the want of models

And wha swa mihte iwenne in his native language on which to form his style.

Wurthscipe of his gomene,14 The latter is perhaps the most probable supposition ;

Hine meló ladde mide songe but, at all events, it is apparent that the recurrence

At foren than leod kinge ; of his rhymes is much too frequent to be the result

And the king, for his gomene, of chance ; so that, upon the whole, it seems reason

Gaf him geven16 gode. able to infer, that Layamon's work was composed at, or very near, the period when the Saxons and Nor

* The notes are by Mr Ellis, with corrections. mans in this country began to unite into one nation,

+ The original of this passage, by Wace, is given in an earlier and to adopt a common language.'

page.
1 Eaten.

2 Multitude of attendants. Sax.
SPECIMENS OF ANGLO-SAXON AND ENGLISH

3 Fled.—Then ned out of the town the people very quickly. PREVIOUS To 1300.

4 Their throngs of servants. 5 Fairly dressed. We have already seen short specimens of the 6 Held (their way) through the fields. Anglo-Saxon prose and verse of the period prior to

7 Began.

8 To discharge arrows.

10 To shoot or throw darts. the Conquest. Perhaps the best means of making clear the transition of the language into its present

11 Made, or played at, wither.games, Sax. (games of emula

tion), that is, justed. form, is to present a continuation of these specimens,

19 Some they on field played under shield ; that is, fought extending between the time of the Conquest and the

with swords. reign of Edward I. It is not to be expected that

13 • Many a kind of game there they gan urge.' Dringen these specimens will be of much use to the reader, on

(Dutch), is to urge, press, or drive. account of the ideas which they convey; but, con- 14 And whoso might win worship by his gaming. sidered merely as objects, or as pictures, they will 15 • Him they led with song before the people's king.' Me, not be without their effect in illustrating the history & word synonymous with the French on. of our literature.

16 Gave him givings, gifts.

9 To run.

Alle tha quenel

which he occasionally diversifies the thread of his The icumen weoren there,

story, are, in general, appropriate and dramatic, And alle tha lafdies,

and not only prove his good sense, but exhibit no Leoneden geond walles,

unfavourable specimens of his eloquence. In his To bihalden tha duge then,

description of the first crusade, he seems to change And that folc plæie.

his usual character, and becomes not only enterThis ilirste threo dæges, 2

taining, but even animated.'* Swule gomes and swulc plæghs,

Of the language of Robert's Chronicle, the follow-
Tha, at than reorthe dæie

ing is a specimen, in its original spelling:
The king gon to «pekene3
And agaf his gode cnihten

Engelond ys a wel god lond, ich wene of eche lond
All heore rihten ; 4

best,

Y-set in the ende of the world, as al in the west.
He gef seolver, he gæf gold,
He gef hors, he gef lond,

The see goth hym al about, he stont as an yle.

Ilere fon heo durre the lasse doute, but hit be thorw Castles, and clæthes eke;

gyle His monnen he iquende.

Of folc of the selve lond, as me hath y-seye wyle. (Extract from a Charter of Henry III., a. D. 1258, in From south to north he ys long eighté hondred myle. the common language of the time.]

This is, of course, nearly unintelligible to all except Henry, thurg Godes fultome, King on Engleneloande, antiquarian readers, and it is therefore judged proLhoaverd on Yrloand, Duk on Nornian, on Acquitain, per, in other specimens, to adopt, as far as possible, Earl on Anjou, send I greting, to alle hiše holde, a modern orthography. ilærde and ilewede on Huntindonnschiere. Thæt witen ge wel alle, thạt we willen and unnen, thæt ure

[The Muster for the l'irst Crusade.] radesmen alle other the moare del of heom, thạt beoth A good pope was thilk time at Rome, that hechti ichosen thurg us and thurg thæt loandes-folk on ure Urban, kineriche, habbith idon, and schullen don in the That preached of the creyserie, and creysed mony man. worthnes of God, and ure treowthe, for the freme of Therefore he send preachers thorough all Christendom, the loande, thurg the besigte of than toforen iseide And himself a-this-side the mounts? and to France rædesmen, &c.

come ; Literal translation : Henry, through God's sup- And preached so fast, and with so great wisdom, port, King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Nor- That about in each lond the cross fast me nome.3 mandy, of Acquitain, Earl of Anjou, sends greeting In the year of grace a thousand and sixteen, to all his subjects, learned and unlearned, of Hunting. This great creyserie began, that long was i-seen. donshire. This know ye well all, that we will and Of so much folk nymet the cross, ne to the holy land go, grant, what our counsellors all, or the more part of Me ne see no time before, ne suth nathemo.5 thein, that be chosen through us and through the For self women ne beleved, that they ne wend thither land-folk of our kingdom, have done, and shall do, to fast, the honour of God, and our allegiance, for the good of Ne young folk [that] fecble were, the while the voythe land, through the deteriuination of the before- age y-last. said counsellors,' &c.

So that Robert Curthose thitherward his heart cast,

And, among other good knights, ne thought not be THE RHYMING CHRONICLERS.

the last. Layamon may be regarded as the first of a series He wends here to Englond for the creyserie, of writers who, about the end of the thirteenth cen- And laid William his brother to wedi Normandy, tury, began to be conspicuous in our literary history, And borrowed of him thereon an hundred thousand which usually recognises them under the general

mark, appellation of the RHYMING CHRONICLERS. The To wend with to the holy lond, and that was somefirst, at a considerable interval after Layamon, was

deal stark. a monk of Gloucester Abbey, usually called from The Earl Robert of Flanders mid8 him wend also, that circumstance Robert Of Gloucester, and And Eustace Earl of Boulogne, and mony good knight who lived during the reigns of Henry III. and Ed.

thereto. ward I. He wrote, in long rhymed lines (Alexan- There wend the Duke Geoffrey, and the Earl Baldwin drines), a history of England from the imaginary

there, Brutus to his own time, using chiefly as his autho- And the other Baldwin also, that noble men were, rity the Latin history by Geoffrey of Monmouth, of And kings syth all three of the holy lond. which Wace and Lavamon had already given Nor- | The Earl Stepheu de Blois wend eke, that great power man French and Saxon versions. * The work is

had on hond, described by Mr Warton as destitute of art and And Robert's sister Curthose espoused had to wive. imagination, and giving to the fabulous history, in There wend yet other knights, the best that were alive;

As the Earl of St Giles, the good Raymond, many parts, a less poetical air than it bears in

And Niel the king's brother of France, and the Earl Geoffrey's prose. The language is full of Saxon pe

Beaumond, culiarities, which might partly be the result of his living in so remote a province as Gloucestershire. And Tancred his nephew, and the bishop also Another critic acknowledges that, though cold and of Podys, and Sir Hugh the great earl thereto ; prosaic, Robert is not deficient in the valuable talent And folk also without tale,9 of all this west ená of arresting the attention.

Of Englond and of France, thitherward gan wend, • The orations with

Of Normandy, of Denmark, of Norway, of Britain, I • All the queens who were come to the festival, and all the Of Wales and of Ireland, of Gascony and of Spain, ladies, leaned over the walls to behold the nobles there, and Of Provence and of Saxony, and of Alemain, that folk play.'

Of Scotlond and of Greece, of Rome and Aquitain. * * 2 This lasted three days, such games and such plays. 3 Then, on the fourth day, the king went to council ? 4 And gave his good knights all their rights or rewards.

I Was called. 2 Passed the mountains--Damely, the Alps 5 He satisfied.

3 Was quickly taken up. Take. 3 Since never more. * Roberi's Chronicle, from a particular allusion, is supposed & Even women did not remain. 7 To wca pledge, in pawn. to have been written, at least in part, after 1297.

9 Beyond reckoning,

* Ellis.

A With.

nome.

Ac the Christians cried all on God, and good earnest [The Siege of Antioch.]

nome, Tho wend forth this company, with mony a noble And, thorough the grace of Jesus Christ, the Paynims man,

they overcome, And won Tars with strength, and syth Toxan. And slew to ground here and there, and the other flew And to yrene brig from thannen' they wend,

anon, And our lord at last to Antioch thein send,

So that at a narrow brig there adrent? mony one. That in the beginning of the lond of Syrie is.

twelve princes there were dead, Anon, upın St Lucus' day, hither they come, i wiss, That me cleped amirals, a fair case it was one And besieged the city, and assailed fast,

The Christians had of them of armour great won, And they within again' them stalwartly cast. Of gold and of silver eke, and thereafter they nome So that after Christmas the Saracens rede nome,2 The headen of the hext masters, and to Antioch come, And the folk of Jerusalem and of Damas come, And laid them in engines, and into the city them cast : Of Aleph, and of other londs, mid great power enow, Tho they within i-see this, sore were they aghast ; And to succoury Antioch fast hitherward drew. That their masters were aslaw, they ’gun dread sore, So that the Earl of Flanders and Beaumond at last And held it little worth the town to wardy more. Mid twenty thousand of men again them wend fast, A master that was within, send to the Earl Beaumond, And smité an battle with them, and the shrewen3 To yielden up his ward, and ben whole and sound. overcome ;

Ere his fellows were aware, he yeld him up there And the Christian wend again, mid the prey that they The towers of the city that in his ward were.

Tho Beaumond therein was, his banner anon he let In the month of Feverer the Saracens eftsoon

rear ; Yarked them a great host (as they were y-wont to Tho the Saracens it i-see, they were some deal in fear, done),

And held them all overcome. The Christians anon And went toward Antioch, to help their kind blood, come, The company of Christian men this well understood. And this town up this luther men as for nought nome, To besiege this castle their footmen they lete,

And slew all that they found, but which so might flee, And the knights wend forth, the Saracens to meet ; And astored them of their treasure, as me might i-see. l-armed and a-horse well, and in sixty party, Thus was the thrid day of June Antioch i-nome, Ere they went too far, they dealt their company. And, as all in thilk side, the Saracens overcome. Of the first Robert Curthose they chose to chiefentain, And of the other the noble Duke Humphrey of Al

[Description of Robert Curthose.] inain ;

He was William's son bastard, as I have i-said ere Of the thrid the good Raymond; the ferth the good man i-lome, 3 *The Earl of Flanders they betook; and the fifth than And well i-wox4 ere his father to Englond come. They betook the bishop of Pody; and the sixth, tho Thick man he was enow, but he nas well long, The good Tancred and Beaumond, tho ner there namo.5 Quarry; he was and well i-made for to be strong. These twae had the maist host, that as standard was Therefore his father in a time i-see his sturdy deed, there,

The while he was young, and byhuld, and these words For to help their fellows, whan they were were..

said, This Christian and this Saracens to-gather them soon. By the uprising of God, Robelin, me shall i-see, met,

Curthose my young son stalward knight shall be.' And as stalwart men to-gather fast set,

For he was some deal short, he cleped him Curthose, And slew to ground here and there, ac the heathen side And he ne might never eft afterward thilk name lose. Wax ever wershi and wersh of folk that come wide. Other lack had he nought, but he was not well long ; So that this Christianmen were all ground ney. He was quaint of counsel and of speech, and of body Tho Beaumond with his host this great sorrow, y-sey, strong. He and Tancred and their men, that all wersh were, Never yet man ne might, in Christendom, ne in Pay. Smite forth as noble men into the battle there,

nim, And stirred them so nobly, that joy it was to see ; In battle him bring adown of his horse none time. So that their fellows that were in point to flee, Nome to them good heart, and fought fast enow. In the list of Rhyming Chroniclers, Robert of Robert first Curthose his good swerd adrew,

Gloucester is succeeded by ROBERT MANNING, a GilAnd smote ane up the helm, and such a stroke him gave, bertine canon in the monastery of Brunne or Bourne, That the skull, and tecth, and the neck, and the in Lincolnshire (therefore usually called Robert de shouldren he to-clave.

Brunne), who flourished in the latter part of the The Duke Godfrey all so good on the shouldren smote reign of Edward I., and throughout that of Edward one,

II. He translated, under the name of a Handling of And forclare him all that body to the saddle anon. Sins, a French book, entitled Manuel des Pêches, the The one half fell adown anon, the other beleved still composition of William de Wadington, in which In the saddle, theigh it wonder were, as it was God's will; the seven deadly sins are illustrated by legendary This horse bear forth this half man among his fellows stories. He afterwards translated a French chro

nicle of England, which had been written by Peter And they, for the wonder case, in dread fell anon. de Langtoft, a contemporary of his own, and an What for dread thereof, and for strength of their fon, Augustine canon of Bridlington in Yorkshire. ManMore joy than there was, nas nerer i-see none. ning has been characterised as an industrious, and, In beginning of Lent this battle was y-do,

for the time, an elegant writer, possessing, in parAnd yet soon thereafter another there come also.

ticular, a great command of rhymes. The verse For the Saracens in Paynim yarked folk enow, adopted in his chronicle is shorter than that of the And that folk, tho it gare was,9 to Antioch drew.

Gloucester monk, making an approach to the octoTho the Christians it underget, again they wend fast, syllabic stanza of modern times. The following is So that they met them, and smit an battle at last.

one of the most spirited passages, in reduced spell

each one,

ing:1 Thence.

9 Took counsel. 3 Shrews, cursed men.
6 Then were there no more.

1 Were drowned. 9 Wicked. 8 Frequently before. So soon as they were prepared.

4 Grown.
6 Square.
6 Seeing his sturdy doings

* Six parties.
1 Fresh.

6 Weary.

& Poes.

[ocr errors]

He loved peace at his might; [The interview of Vortigern with Rowen, the beautiful Peaceable men he held to right. Daughter of Hengist.]

His lond Britain he yodel throughout, Hengist that day did his might,

And ilk country beheld about, That all were glad, king and knight.

Beheld the woods, water, and fen, And as they were best in glading,

No passage was maked for men, And well cup-shotten, knight and king,

No high street through countrie Of chamber Rowenen so gent,

Ne to borough ne city. Before the king in hall she went.

Through muris, hills, and vallies, A cup with wine she had in hand,

He made brigs and causeways, And her attire was well farand.2

High street for common passage, Before the king on knee set,

Brigs o'er waters did he stage. And in her language she him gret3

The first he made he called it Fosse ; Laverd4 king, wassail !' said she.

Throughout the land it goes to Scoss. The king asked, What should be.

It begins at Tottenness, On that language the king ne couth 5

And ends unto Catheness. A knight her language lerid in youth,

Another street ordained he, Bregh hight that knight, born Breton,

And goes to Wales to Saint Davy. That lerid the language of Saxon.

Two causeways o'er the lond o-bread, 2 This Bregh was the latimer,6

That men o'er-thort in passage yede. What she said told Vortiger.

When they were made as he chese, “Sir,' Bregh said, Rowen you greets,

He commanded till all have peace ; And king calls and lord you leets.7

All should have peace and freedame, This is their custom and their gest,

That in his streets yede or came. When they are at the ale or feast,

And if were any of his Ilk man that loves where him think,

That fordid3 his franchise, Shall say, Wassail / and to him drink.

Forfeited should be all his thing,
He that bids shall say, Wassail !

His body taken to the king.
The tother shall say again, Drinkhail !
That says Wassail drinks of the cup,

[Praise of Good Women.] Kissing his fellow he gives it up.

(From the Handling of Sins) Drinkhail he says, and drinks thereof, Kissing him in bourd and skof.'

Nothing is to man so dear The king said, as the knight gan ken,

As woman's love in good manner. Drinkhail, smiling on Rowenen.

A good woman is man's bliss, Rowen drank as her list,9

Where her love right and stedfast is.

There is no solace under heaven,
And gave the king, syne him kissed.
There was the first wassail in dede,

Of all that a man may neven,
And that first of fame gaed.10

That should a man so much glew,5 Of that wassail men told great tale,

As a good woman that loveth true : And wassail when they were at ale,

Ne dearer is none in God's hurd,6
And drinkhail to them that drank,

Than a chaste woman with lovely wurd.
Thus was wassail ta'en to thank.
Fell sithegl) that maiden ying

ENGLISH METRICAL ROMANCES.
Wassailed and kissed the king.

HE rise of Romantic FicOf body she was right avenant,

tion in Europe has been Of fair colour with sweet semblant.

traced to the most opposite Her attire full well it seemed,

quarters ; namely, to the Mervelik the king she queemed.12

Arabians and to the ScanOf our measure was he glad,

dinavians. It has also For of that maiden he wax all mad.

been disputed, whether a Drunkenness the fiend wrought,

politer kind of poetical Of that paen 13 was all his thought.

literature was first cultiA mischance that time him led,

vated in Normandy or in He asked that paen for to wed.

Provence. Without enterHengist would not draw o lite,

ing into these perplex. Bot granted him all so tite.

ing questions, it may be And Hors his brother consented soon.

enough to state, that romantic fiction appears to Her friends said, it were to done.

have been cultivated from the eleventh century They asked the king to give her Kent, In dowery to take of rent.

downwards, both by the troubadours of Provence

and by the Norman poets, of whom some account Upon that maiden his heart was cast; That they asked the king made fast.

has already been given. As also already hinted, I ween the king took her that day,

a class of persons had arisen, named Joculators, And wedded her on paen’s lay.14

Jongleurs, or Minstrels, whose business it was to

wander about from one mansion to another, recit[Fabulous Account of the first Highways in England.] ing either their own compositions, or those of other

persons, with the accompaniment of the harp. The Belin well held his honour,

histories and chronicles, already spoken of, parAnd wisely was good governor.

took largely of the character of these romantic

tales, and were hawked about in the same manner. 1 Well advanced in convivialities.

Brutus, the supposed son of Æneas of Troy, and • of good appearance. This phrase is still used in Scotland. who is described in those histories as the founder 8 Greeted. 4 Lord. 5 Had no knowledge.

of the English state, was as much a hero of romance 6 Interpreter. 7 Esteems. 8 Taught him. • As pleased her. 10 Went. 11 Many times.

1 Went. 2 Breadthways. 8 Broke, destroyed. 12 Pleased. 14 According to Pagan law. 4 Know. 6 Delight.

6 Family.

[graphic]
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

13 Pagan.

1

« ZurückWeiter »