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Ac the Christians cried all on God, and good earnest [The Siege of Antioch.]
nome, Tho Fend 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 them send,
So that at a narrow brig there adrenti mony one. That in the beginning of the lond of Syrie is.
twelve princes there were dead, Anon, upon 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' then 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 Dainas 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 thein wend fast, A master that was within, send to the Earl Beaumond, And smite 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 yere. nome.
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, coine, The company of Christian men this well understood. And this town up this luther2 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 thein of their treasure, as me might i-see. I-armed and a-horse well, and in sixty party,4 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,
[Description of Robert Curthose.] And of the other the noble Duke Humphrey of Almain ;
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 Quarrys 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,6 there,
The while he was young, and byhuld, and these words For to help their fellows, whan they were were.6 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 wersh7 and wersh of folk that come wide. Other lack had he nought, but he was not well long; So that this Christianinen were all grou 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 PaySmite forth as poble 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 teeth, 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 forclave 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 chroeach one,
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 never 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
ing :1 Thence.
2 Took counsel. 3 Shrews, cursed men. * Six parties. 5 Then were there no more
1 Were drowned. Wicked. Frequently before. 1 Presh. 9 So soon as they were prepared.
Square. 6 Seeing his sturdy doings.
He loved peace at his might; [The interview of Vortigern with Rowen, the beautiful
Peaceable men he held to right.
His lond Britain he yodel throughout,
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 kiag,
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.
The first he made he called it Fosse ;
Throughout the land it goes to Scoss.
It begins at Tottenness, On that language the king ne couth 5
And ends unto Catheness.
Another street ordained he,
And goes to Wales to Saint Davy.
Two causeways o'er the lond o-bread, 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 leots.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,
His body taken to the king.
[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
As woman's love in good manner.
A good woman is man's bliss,
Where her love right and stedfast is. And gave the king, syne him kissed.
There is no solace under heaven,
Of all that a man may neven,
That should a man so much glew,5
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.
ENGLISH METRICAL ROMANCES.
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 qucemed.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 perplexBot 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 2 Of good appearance. This phrase is still used in Scotland. who is described in those histories as the founder 3 Greeted. 4 Lord. 5 Had no knowledge.
of the English state, was as much a hero of romance Interpreter
7 Esteems. 8 Taught him. 9 As pleased her. 10 Went. 11 Many times.
1 Went. 2 Breadthways. 3 Broke, destroyed. 13 Pleased. 14 According to Pagan law. 4 Know.
as of history. Even where a really historical
person was adopted as a subject, such as Rollo of Normandy,
[Extract from the King of Tars.] or Charlemagne, his life was so amplified with ro
[The Soudan of Damascus, having asked the daughter of the mantic adventure, that it became properly a work king of Tarsus in marriage, receives a refusal. The extract of fiction. This, it must be remembered, was an age intelligence, and some of the subsequent transactions.
describes his conduct on the return of the messengers with this remarkable for a fantastic military spirit: it was the language of this romance greatly resembles that of Robert of age of chivalry and of the crusades, when men saw such deeds of heroism and self-devotion daily per: ginning of the fourteenth century.]
Gloucester, and it may therefore be safely referred to the beformed before their eyes, that nothing which could be imagined of the past was too extravagant to ap
The Soudan sat at his dess,
Y-served of the first mess ; pear destitute of the feasibility demanded in fiction. As might be expected from the ignorance of the age,
They comen into the hall
To-fore the prince proud in press, no attempt was made to surround the heroes with the circumstances proper to their time or country.
Their tale they tolden withouten lees,
And on their knees 'gan fall ; Alexander the Great, Arthur, and Roland, were all ali ke depicted as knights of the time of the poet And said, 'Sire, the king of Tars himself. The basis of many of these metrical tales
Of wicked words is not scarce, is supposed to have been certain collections of stories
Heathen hound he doth thee call; and histories compiled by the monks of the middle And ere his daughter he give thee till ages Materials for the superstructure were readily
Thine heart-blood he will spill, found in an age when anecdotes and apologues were
And thy barons all !! thought very necessary even to discourses from the
When the Soudan this y-heard, pulpit, and when all the fables that could be gleaned As a wood? man he fared, 3 from ancient writings, or from the relations of tra
His robe he rent adown ; vellers, were collected into story books, and preserved He tare the hair of head and beard, by the learned for that purpose.'*
And said he would her win with swerd, It was not till the English language had risen into
By his lord St Mahoun. some consideration, that it became a vehicle for ro
The table adown right he smote, mantie metrical tales. One composition of the kind,
Into the floor foot hot,4 entitled Sir Tristrem, published by Sir Walter Scott
He looked as a wild lion, in 1804, was believed by him, upon what he thought
All that he hit he smote downright, tolerable evidence, to be the composition of Thomas of Ercildoun, identical with a person noted in Scot
Both sergeant and knight,
Earl and eke baron. tish tradition under the appellation of Thomas the Rhymer, who lived at Earlston in Berwickshire, and So he fared forsooth aplight, died shortly before 1299. If this had been the case, All a day and all a night, Sir Tristrem must have been considered a produc
That no man might him chast :8 tion of the middle or latter part of the thirteenth A-morron, when it was daylight, century. But the soundness of Sir
Walter's theory He sent his messengers fuil right, is now generally denied. Another English romance,
After his barons in haste, the Life of Alexander the Great, was attributed by That they comen to his parliament, Mr Warton to Adam Davie, marshall of Stratford
For to hearen his judgment, le-Bow, who lived about 1312; but this, also, has
Both least and maist.6 been controverted. One only, King Horn, can be When the parliament was playner, assigned with certainty to the latter part of the Thus bespake the Soudan fier,7 thirteenth century. Mr Warton has placed some
And said to 'cm in haste : others under that period, but by conjecture alone; and in fact dates and the names of authors are alıke
'Lordings,' he said, 'what to rede ?8 wanting at the beginning of the history of this class
Me is done a great misdeed,
Of Tars the Christian king ; of compositions. As far as probability goes, the
I bade him both lond and lede, reign of Edward II. (1307-27) may be set down as
To have his doughter in worthy weed, the era of the earlier English metrical romances, or
And spouse her with my ring. rather of the earlier English versions of such works from the French, for they were, almost without ex- And he said, withouten fail, ception, of that nature.
Ersti he would me slay in batail, Sir Guy, the Squire of Low Degree, Sir Degore,
And mony a great lording. King Robert of Sicily, the King of Tars, Impomedon,
Ac certesl0 he shall be forswore, and La Mort Artur, are the names of some from
Or to wroth-hail that he was bore, 11 which Mr Warton gives copious extracts. Others,
But he it thereto bring. probably of later date, or which at least were long Therefore, lordings, I have after you sent, after popular, are entitled Sir Thopas, Sir Isenbras, For to come to my parliament, Garan and Gologras, and Sir Bevis. In an Essay
To wit of you counsail.' on the Ancient Metrical Romances, in the second And all answered with good intent, volume of Dr Percy's Reliques of Ancient English They would be at his commandement Poetry, the names of many more, with an account
Withouten any fail. of some of them, and a prose abstract of one en
And when they were all at his hest, 12 titled Sir Libius, are given. Mr Ellis has also, in
The Soudan made a well-great feast, his Metrical Romances, given prose abstracts of
For love of his batail. many, with some of the more agreeable passages. The metrical romances flourished till the close of the
I High seat at table.
3 Became. fifteenth century, and their spirit affected English
* Did hit. He struck the floor with his foot. literature till a still later period. Many of the bal- 5 Chasten or check. 6 Both little and great. laris handed down amongst the common people are 7 Proud. 8 What do you advise.
9 First supposed to have been derived from them.
10 But assuredly. 11 It shall be ill-fortune to him that he was born. 19 Order.
And on the morrow for their sake,
A month and days three.
For the folk that he had i-lore. His doughter came in rich pall, On knees she 'gan before him fall,
And said, with sighing sore : Father,' she said, let me be his wife, That there be no more strife,' &c.
The Soudan gathered a host unride,
The king of Tars to assail.
All that he might of send ;
Of that maiden hend.2
Ne longer nold they lend.
Upon that king to wend.
With the king of Tars to fight;
Of helms leamed light.3
With mony a Christian knight.
That grisly was of sight, Three heathen again two Christian men, And felled them down in the fen, With weapons sti
nd good. The stern Saracens in that fight, Slew our Christian men downright,
They fought as they were wood. When the king of Tars saw that sight, Wood he was for wrath aplight,
In hand he hentt a spear, And to the Soudan he rode full right, With a dunt5 of much might,
Adown he 'gan him bear. The Soudan nigh he had y-slaw, But thirty thousand of heathen law,
Comen for to weir And brought him again upon his steed, And holp him well in that need,
That no man might him der.? When he was brought upon his steed, He sprung as sparkle doth of gleed,
For wrath and for envy. And all that he hit he made 'em bleed, He fared as he wold a weed,
• Mahoun help !' he'gan cry. Mony a helm there was unweaved, And mony a bassinet to-cleaved,
And saddles mony empty ;
Of the Christian company. When the king of Tars saw him so ride, No longer there he wold abide,
But fleeth to his own city.
Our Christian men so free.
[Extract from the Squire of Low Degree.] [The daughter of the king of Hungary having fallen into melancholy, in consequence of the loss of her lover, the squire of low degree, her father thus endeavours to console her. The passage is valuable, “because,' says Warton, it delineates, in lively colours, the fashionable diversions and usages of ancient times.')
To-morrow ye shall in hunting fare ;
That ruth it was to see ; 1 Unreckoned.
. That gentle maid 8 Gleamed with light.
4 Took. 5 Blow. 6 Defend.
8 Red coal.
With cloth of arras pight to the ground,
nunnery of Hampole, four miles from Doncaster. With sapphires set of diamond.
Ile wrote metrical paraphrases of certain parts of A hundred knights, truly told,
Scripture, and an original poem of a moral and Shall play with bowls in alleys cold,
religious nature, entitled The Pricke of Conscience; Your disease to drive away ;
but of the latter work it is not certainly known that To see the fishes in pools play,
he composed it in English, there being some reason To a drawbridge then shall ye,
for believing that, in its present form, it is a transTh' one half of stone, th' other of tree ;
lation from a Latin original written by him. One A barge shall meet you full right,
agreeable passage (in the original spelling) of this With twenty-four oars full bright,
generally dull work is subjoined :With trumpets and with clarion, The fresh water to row up and down.
[What is in Hearen.] Forty torches burning bright,
Ther is lyf withoute ony deth, At your bridges to bring you light. luto your chamber they shall you bring,
And ther is youthe without ony elde ; 1
And ther is alle manner welthe to welde :
And ther is rest without ony travaille ;
And ther is pees without ony strife, Your head sheet shall be of pery pight,
And ther is alle manner lykinge of lyf : With diamonds set and rubies bright.
And ther is bright somer ever to se, When you are laid in bed so soft,
And ther is nevere wynter in that countrie : A cage of gold shall hang aloft,
And ther is more worshipe and honour,
Then evere hade kynge other emperour.
And ther is grete melodie of aungeles songe,
And ther is preysing hem amonge.
And ther is alle manner frendshipe that may be, That when ye sle«p the taste may come ;
And ther is evere perfect love and charite ; And if ye no rest can take.
And ther is wisdom without folye, All night minstrels for you shall wake.
And ther is honeste without vileneye.
Al these a man may joyes of hevene call : DMEDIATE PREDECESSORS OF CHAUCER.
Ac yutte the most sovereyn joye of alle
Is the sighte of Goddes bright face, Hitherto, we have seen English poetry only in the
In wham resteth alle mannere grace. forms of the chronicle and the romance: of its many other fornis, so familiar now, in which it is employed to point a moral lesson, to describe natural scenery, to convey satiric reflections, and give expression to
The Vision of Pierce Ploughman, a satirical poem refined sentiment, not a trace has as yet engaged our
of the same period, ascribed to ROBERT LONGLANDE, attention. The dawn of miscellaneous poetry, as
a secular priest, also shows very expressively the these forms may be comprehensively called, is to be progress which was made, about the middle of the faintly discovered about the middle of the thirteenth fourteenth century, towards a literary style. This century, when Henry III. sat on the English throne, poem, in many points of view, is one of the most and Alexander II. on that of Scotland. A consider- important works that appeared in England previous able variety of examples will be found in the volumes to the invention of printing. It is the popular reof which the titles are given below.* The earliest presentative of the doctrines which were silently that can be said to possess literary merit is an elegy bringing about the Reformation, and it is a peculiarly on the death of Edward I. (1307), written in musical national poem, not only as being a much purer and energetic stanzas, of which one is subjoined :- specimen of the English language than Chaucer,
but as exhibiting the revival of the same system of Jerusalem, thou hast i-lore 2
alliteration which characterised the Anglo-Saxon The four of all chiralerie,
poetry. It is, in fact, both in this peculiarity and Nou Kyng Edward liveth na more,
in its political character, characteristic of a great Alas! that he yet shulde deye !
literary and political revolution, in which the lanHe wolde ha rered up ful heyge 3
guage as well as the independence of the AngloOur baners that bueth broht to grounde; Saxons had at last gained the ascendency over those Wel longe we mowe clepet and crie,
of the Normans.* Pierce is represented as falling Er we such a kyng han y-founde!
asleep on the Malvern hills, and as seeing, in his
sleep, a series of visions; in describing these, he The first name that occurs in this department of exposes the corruptions of society, but particularly oar literature is that of LAWRENCE Minot, who, the dissolute lives of the religious orders, with much abat 1350, composed a series of short poems on the bitterness. rictones of Edward III., beginning with the battle of Halidon Hill, and ending with the siege of Guines
[Extracts from Pierce Plowman.] Castle. His works were in a great measure unknown until the beginning of the present century,
(Mercy and Truth are thus allegorised.] when they were published by Ritson, who praised Out of the west coast, a wench, as me thought, them for the ease, variety, and harmony of the ver
Came walking in the way, to hell-ward she looked ; sification. About the same time flourished RICHARD Mercy hight that maid, a meek thing withal, ROLLE, a hermit of the order of St Augustine, and A full benign burd,2 and buxom of speech ; doctor of divinity, who lived a solitary life near the Her sister, as it seemed, came soothly walking,
Even out of the east, and westward she looked, Inlaid with pearls. : Edward had intended to go on a crusade to the Holy Land.
2 Burd, L. c. a maiden. a High
* A popular edition of this poem has been recently published * Mr Thomas Wright's Political Songs and Specimens of Lyric by Mr Wright. The lines are there divided, as we believe in Pretry Cemrposed in England in the reign of Edward 1. Reliquiæ strictness they ought to be, in the middle, where a pause is Antiqua, 2 vols.