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1107. -the parson's saw,] Sáw seems anciently to have meant, not as at present, a proverb, a sentence, but the whole tenor of any instructive dis.
So, in the fourth chapter of the first book, of the Tragedies of John Bochas, translated by Lidgate:
“ These old poetes in their sawes swete
Steevens. When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,] So, in Midsummer-Night's Dream:
" And sometimes lurk I in a gossip's bowl,
“ In very likeness of a roasted crab." Again, in Like will to Like, quoth the Devil to the Collier, 1587 : “ Now a crab in the fire were worth a good
Sitting in a corner turning crabs,
ACTI. Page 11. Line 171.
This child of fancy, that Armado hight, &c.] This, as I have shewn in the note in its place, relates to the stories in the books of chivalry. A few words, therefore, concerning their origin and nature, may not be unacceptable to the reader. As I do not know of any writer who has given any tolerable account of this matter; and especially as Monsieur Huet, the bishop of Avranches, who wrote a formal treatise of the Origin of Romances, has said little or nothing of these in that superficial work. For having brought down the account of Romances to the later Greeks, and entered upon those composed by the barbarous western writers, which have now the name of Romances almost appropriated to them, he puts the change upon his reader, and instead of giving us an account of these books of chivalry, one of the most curious and interesting parts of the subject he promised to treat of, he contents himself with a long account of the poems of the provincial writers, called likewise romances; and so, under the equivoque of a common term, drops his proper subject, and entertains us with another, that had no relation to it more than in the name.
The Spaniards were, of all others, the fondest of these fables, as suiting best their extravagant turn to gallantry and bravery ; which in time grew so exces
sive, as to need all the efficacy of Cervantes's incom. parable satire to bring them back to their senses. The French suffered an easier cure from their doctor Rabelais, who enough discredited the books of chi. valry, by only using the extravagant stories of its giants, &c. as a cover for another kind of satire against the refined politicks of his countrymen; of which they were as much possessed, as the Spaniards of their romantick bravery. A bravery our Shakspere makes their characteristick, in this description of a Spanish gentleman :
" A man of compliments, whom right and wrong
“ From tawny Spain, lost in the world's debate.” The sense of which is to this effect: This gentleman, says the speaker, shall relate to us the celebrated stories recorded in the old romances, and in their very style. Why he says, from tawny Spain, is because these romances, being of the Spanish original, the heroes and the scene were generally of that country. He says, lost in the world's debate, because the subject of those romances were the crusades of the European Christi. ans against the Saracens of Asia and Africa.
Indeed, the wars of the Christians against the Pagans were the general subject of the romances of chivalry. They all seem to have had their ground,
work in two fabulous monkish historians : the one, who, under the name of Turpin, archbishop of Rheims, wrote The History and Achievements of Charlemagne and his Twelve Peers ; to whom, in, stead of his father, they assigned the task of driving the Saracens out of France and the south parts of Spain: the other, our Geoffry of Monmouth.
Two of those peers, whom the old romances have rendered most famous, were Oliver and Rowland. Hence Shakspere makes Alençon, in the first part of Henry VI. say: “ Froyssard, a countryman of ours, records, England all Olivers and Rowlands bred, during the time Edward the third did reign.” In the Spanish romance of Bernardo del Carpio, and in that of Roncesvalles, the feats of Roland are recorded under the name of Roldan el encantador; and in that of Palmerin del Oliva *, or simply Oliva, those of Oliver : for Oliva is the same in Spanish as Olivier is
* Dr. Warburton is quite mistaken in deriving Oliver from (Palmerin de) Oliva, which is utterly incompatible with the genius of the Spanish language. The old ro. mance, of which Oliver was the hero, is entitled in Spanish, “ Historias de los nobles Cavalleros Oliveros de Castilla, y Artus de Algarbe, in fol. en Valladolid, 1501, in fol. en Sevilla, 1607;" and in French thus, “ Histoire d'Olivier de Castille, & Artus d’Algarbe son loyal compagnon, & de Heleine, Fille au Roy d'Angleterre, &c. translatée du Latin par Phil. Camus, in fol. Gothique."! It has also appeared in English. See Ames's Typograph. P. 94.
in French. The account of their exploits is in the highest degree monstrous and extravagant, as appears from the judgment passed upon thein by the priest in Don Quixote, when he delivers the knight's library to the secular arm of the house-keeper, “Eccetuando à un Bernardo del Carpio que anda por ay, y à otro llmado Roncesvalles; que estos en legando a mis manos, an de estar en las de la ama, y dellas en las del fuego sin remission alguna *." And of Oliver he says, essa Oliva se haga luego raxas, y se queme, que aun no queden della las cenizas +.” The rea. sonableness of this sentence may be partly seen from one story in the Bernardo del Carpio, which tells us, that the cleft called Roldan, to be seen in the summit of an high mountain in the kingdom of Valencia, near the town of Alicant, was made with a single backstroke of that hero's broad sword. Hence came the proverbial expression of our plain and sensible ancestors, who were much cooler readers of these extravagancies than the Spaniards, of giving one a Rowland for his Oliver, that is, of matching one impossible lye with another: as, in French, faire le Roland, means to swagger. This driving the Saracens out of France and Spain, was, as we say, the subject of the elder romances. And the first that was printed in Spain was the famous Amadis de Gaula, of which the inquisitor priest says:
segun he oydo dezir, este libro fué el primero de Cavallerias qui se imprimiò en
* Book I, C, 6. + Ibid.