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with, England, are works written in Latin by learned ecclesiastics, the principal of whom were John of [Ectract from the Sucon Chronicle, 1134.) Salisbury, Peter of Blois, Joseph of Exeter, and
On this yær wærd the King Stephen ded, and GEOFFREY of MONMOUTH, the last being the author
bebyried there his wif and his sune wäron bebyried at of the History of England just alluded to, which is
Tauresfeld. That ministre hi makiden. Tha the supposed to have been written about the year 1138.
king was ded, tha was the eorl beionde sæ. And ne About 1154, according to Dr Johnson, “the Saxon
durste nan man don other bute god for the micel eie began to take a form in which the beginning of the present English may plainly be discovered.” It
of him. Tha he to Engleland come, tha was he under
fangen mid micel wortscipe ; and to king bletcæd in does not, as already hinted, contain many Norman
Lundine, on the Sunnen dæi beforen mid-winter-dæi. words, but its grammatical structure is considerably
Literally translated thus:-“A.D. 1154. In this year altered. There is a metrical Saxon or English trans
was the King Stephen dead, and buried where his lation, by one LAYAMON, a priest of Ernely, on the
wife and his son were buried, at Touresfield. That 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
was the earl beyond sea. And not durst no man do writers, a composition of the latter part of the twelfth
other but good for the great awe of him. When he 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 seqnel. With reference to a larger extract given by Mr Ellis, of which (Ertract from the account of the Proceedings oot Aithur's the other is a portion, that gentleman remarks—" As
Coronation, given by Layamm, in his translation of it does not contain any word which we are under the
M'ace, crecuted about 1180.] * necessity of referring to a French origin, we cannot
Tha the kingt igeten? hafde but consider it as simple and unmixed, though very
And al his mon-uceoredle, barbarous, Saxon. At the same time,” he continues,
Tha bugand 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 tics, seerns 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 corles, is broken into a scries 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
Peirc 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 gunnenā aruen, 8 Anglo-Norman, or English, of which we possess a
Summe heo gunnen urnen,' 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 restleden guage. Sometimes he seems anxious to imitate the
And writher-gome makeden,!! rhymes, and to adopt the regular number of syllables,
Summe heo on velde which he had observed in his original ; at other
Pleourreden 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, lt The latter is perhaps the most probable supposition :
Hine mels 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 scems reason
(iaf him geren16 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."
I Eaten. ? Multitude of attendants. Sar. SPECIMENS OF ANGLO-SAXON AND ENGLISII
3 Fled. Then fled out of the town the people very quickly. PREVIOC8 to 1300.
4 Their throngs of servants.
5 Fairly dressed. We have already seen short specimens of the Held (their way) through the fields. Anglo-Saxon prose and verse of the period prior to
7 Began. 8 To discharge arrows. 9 To run. the Conquest. Perhaps the best means of making
10 To shoot or throw darts. clear the transition of the language into its present
11 Made, or played at, rither-games, Sax. (games of emula
tion), that is, justed. form, is to present a continuation of these specimens,
12 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 arge." 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“ Ilim they led with song before the people's king." Me, not be without their effect in illustrating the history a word synonymous with the French on. of our literature.
16 Gave him givings, gifts.
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 ilæste threo dæges, 2
taining, but even animated."* Svulc gomes and swule plæghs,
Of the language of Robert's Chronicle, the follow-
ing is a specimen, in its original spelling :-
Engelond ys a wel god lond, ich wene of eche lond
Y-set in the ende of the world, as al in the west.
The see goth hym al about, he stont as an yle.
| Here fon heo durre the lasse doute, but hit be thorw
gyle His monnen he iquende.5
Of folc of the selve lond, as me hath y-seye wyle. [Esctract from a Charter of Henry III., A. D. 1258, in From south to north he ys long eighte 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 Norman, on Acquitain, per, in other specimens, to adopt, as far as possible, Earl on Anjou, send I greting, to alle hise holde, a modern orthography ilærde and ilewedeon Huntindonnschiere. That
[The Muster for the First Crusade.] witen ge wel alle, thæt we willen and unnen, thæet ure rædesmen alle other the moare del of heom, thæet beoth A good pope was thilk time at Rome, that hechti ichosen thurg us and thurg that 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 mounts2 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 them, 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] feeble were, the while the voythe land, through the determination of the before-l 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 wed7 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 mide 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
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 Layamon had already given Nor
r] The Earl Stephen de Blois wend eke, that great power man French and Saxon versions. The work is l 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; many parts. a less poetical air than it bears in | As the Earl of St Giles, the good Raymond. Geoffrey's prose. The language is full of Saxon pe
And Niel the king's brother of France, and the Earl culiarities, which might partly be the result of his
Beaumond, 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 end of arresting the attention. “The orations with
Of Englond and of France, thitherward gan wend,
Of Normandy, of Denmark, of Norway, of Britain, 1 “ 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." 2 This lasted three days, such games and such plays.
Of Scotlond and of Greece, of Rome and Aquitain. * * 3 Then, on the fourth day, the king went to council?
* Ellis. 4 And gave his good knights all their rights or rewards.
I Was called. 2 Passed the mountains-namely, the Alps. 5 He satisfied.
3 Was quickly taken up. 4 Take. 6 Since never more. * Robert's Chronicle, from its alluding to the canonisation, 6 Even women did not remain. 7 To wed, in pledge, in pawn. is supposed to have been written, at least in part, after 1297. 8 With.
9 Beyond reckoning.
| 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
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' them stalwartly cast.
Of gold and of silver eke, and thereafter they nome So that after Christmas the Saracens rede nome, | 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 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 were. 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, 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. I-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 chietentain, And of the other the noble Duke Humphrey of Al
[Description of Robert Curthose.] main;
He was William's son bastard, as I have i-said ere Of the thrid the good Raymond, the forth the good man. i-lome, 3 The Earl of Flanders they betook, and the fifth than | And well i-wox* 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 Quarry5 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 wersh7 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 poble inen 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 siit an battle at last.
one of the most spirited passages, in reduced spell
ing:I Thence. 9 Took counsel. 3 Shrews, cursed men. * Six parties. Then were there no more. Weary. Were drowned. 2 Wicked. 8 Frequently before. 7 Fresh
8 Foes. 9 So soon as they were prepared. * Grown Square. Seeing his sturdy doings.
TIMES TO 1400.
He loved peace at his might;
His lond Britain he yodel throughout,
And ilk country beheld about,
Beheld the woods, water, and fen,
No passage was maked for men,
No high street through countrie
Ne to borough ne city.
Through muris, hills, and vallies,
He made brigs and causeways,
High street for common passage,
Brigs o'er waters did he stage.
The first he made he called it Fosse ; • Laverdu king, wassail !' said she.
Throughout the land it goes to Scoss.
It begins at Tottenness,
And ends unto Catheness.
Another street ordained he,
And goes to Wales to Saint Davy. * *
Two causeways o'er the lond o-bread,
That men o'er-thort in passage yede.
When they were made as he chese, “Sir,' Bregh said, “ Rowen you greets,
He commanded till all have peace ;
All should have peace and freedame,
That in his streets yede or came.
And if were any of his
That fordid3 his franchise,
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.)
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.
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 : .
Ne dearer is none in God's hurd, 6
Than a chaste woman with lovely vurd.
ENGLISH METRICAL ROMANCES.
TIIE rise of Romantic Of body she was right avenant,
Fiction 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 enHengist would not draw o lite.
tering into these perplexBot granted him all so tite.
ing questions, it may be And Hors his brother consented soon.
enough to state, that roHer friends said, it were to done.
mantic fiction appears to have been cultivated from They asked the king to give her Kent,
the eleventh century downwards, both by the troubaIn dowery to take of rent.
dours of Provence and by the Norman poets, of whom Upon that maidin his heart was cast ;
some account has already been given. As also That they asked the king made fast.
already hinted, a class of persons had arisen, named I ween the king took her that day,
Joculators, Jongleurs, or Minstrels, whose business it And wedded her on paen's lay.14
was to wander about from one mansion to another, (Fabulous Account of the first Highways in England.]
reciting either their own compositions, or those
of other persons, with the accompaniment of the Belin well held his honour,
harp. The histories and chronicles, already spoken And wisely was good governor.
of, partook largely of the character of these romantic
tales, and were hawked about in the same man1 Well advanced in convivialities.
ner. Brutus, the supposed son of Æneas of Troy, 2 or good appearance. This phrase is still used in Scotland.
and. and who is described in those histories as the founder 3 Greeted. Lord. 5 Had no knowledge.
of the English state, was as much a hero of romance 6 Interpreter. 7 Esteems. 8 Taught him. 9 As pleased her. 10 Went. 11 Many times.
I Went. 2 Breadthways. 8 Broke, destroyed. 12 Pleased. 13 Pagan 14 According to Pagan law. 4 know. 5 Delight. 6 Pamily.
as of history. Even where a really historical person was adopted as a subject, such as Rollo of Normandy, or Charlemagne, his life was so amplified with romantic adventure, that it became properly a work of fiction. This, it must be remembered, was an age remarkable for a fantastic military spirit: it was the age of chivalry and of the crusades, when men saw such deeds of heroism and self-devotion daily performed before their eyes, that nothing which could be imagined of the past was too extravagant to appear destitute of the feasibility demanded in fiction. As might be expected from the ignorance of the age, no attempt was made to surround the heroes with the circumstances proper to their time or country. Alexander the Great, Arthur, and Roland, were all alike depicted as knights of the time of the poet himself. The basis of many of these metrical tales is supposed to have been certain collections of stories and histories compiled by the monks of the middle ages.“ Materials for the superstructure were readily found in an age when anecdotes and apologues were thought very necessary even to discourses from the pulpit, and when all the fables that could be gleaned from ancient writings, or from the relations of travellers, were collected into story books, and preserved by the learned for that purpose."*
It was not till the English language had risen into some consideration, that it became a vehicle for romantic metrical tales. One composition of the kind, entitled Sir Tristrem, published by Sir Walter Scott in 1804, was believed by him, upon what he thought tolerable evidence, to be the composition of Thomas of Ercildoun, identical with a person noted in Scottish tradition under the appellation of Thomas the Rhymer, who lived at Earlston in Berwickshire, and died shortly before 1299. If this had been the case, Sir Tristrem must have been considered a production of the middle or latter part of the thirteenth century. But the soundness of Sir Walter's theory is now generally denied. Another English romance, the Life of Alexander the Great, was attributed by Mr Warton to Adam Davie, marshall of Stratfordle-Bow, who lived about 1312; but this, also, has been controverted. One only, King Horn, can be assigned with certainty to the latter part of the thirteenth century. Mr Warton has placed some others under that period, but by conjecture alone ; and in fact dates and the names of authors are alike wanting at the beginning of the history of this class of compositions. As far as probability goes, the reign of Edward II. (1307-27) may be set down as the era of the earlier English metrical romances, or rather of the earlier English versions of such works from the French, for they were, almost without exception, of that nature.
'Sir Guy, the Squire of Low Degree, Sir Degore, King Robert of Sicily, the King of Tars, Imponedon, and La Mort Artur, are the names of some from which Mr Warton gives copious extracts. Others, probably of later date, or which at least were long after popular, are entitled Sir Thopas, Sir Isenbras, Gavan and Gologras, and Sir Bevis. In an Essay on the Ancient Metrical Romances, in the second volume of Dr Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, the names of many more, with an account of some of them, and a prose abstract of one entitled Sir Libius, are given. Mr Ellis has also, in his Metrical Romances, given prose abstracts of many, with some of tlie more agreeable passages. The metrical romances flourished till the close of the fifteenth century, and their spirit affected English literature till a still later period. Many of the ballads handed down amongst the common people are supposed to have been derived from them.
[Exctract from the King of Tars.] [The Soudan of Damascus, having asked the daughter of the king of Tarsus in marriage, receives a refusal. The extract describes his conduct on the return of the messengers with this intelligence, and some of the subsequent transactions. Tho language of this romance greatly resembles that of Robert of Gloucester, and it may therefore be safely referred to the beginning of the fourteenth century.]
The Soudan sat at his dess, 1
They comen into the hall
. And on their knees 'gan fall;
Heathen hound he doth thee call;
And thy barons all !!
llis robe he rent adown ;
By his lord St Mahoun.
He looked as a wild lion.
Earl and eke baron,
That no man might him chast : 5
After his barons in haste,
Both least and maist.6
And said to 'em in haste :
Of Tars the Christian king;
And spouse her with my ring.
And mony a great lording.
. But he it thereto bring.
To wit of you counsail.'
Withouten any fail.
For love of his batail.
1 Fligh seat at table. ? Mad. Became.
Both little and great.