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For thar was a ful fayre cuntre,
? There are three old poems on the exploits of Gawain, one of the heroes of this romance. There is a fourth in the Scotch dialect, by Clerke of Tranent, an old Scotch poet. See LAMENT FOR DEATH OF THE MAKKARIS, ft. xvii.'
Clerke of Tranent eke has [death] tane
That made the Aventers of GAWANE. Anc. Scott. P. 1576.
The two heroes of this romance, YWAIN and Gawain, are mentioned jointly in a very old French version of the Britis or Armorican LAY OF LAUNVAL, of which there is a beautiful vellum manuscript. MSS. Cott. Vespas. B. xiv. 1. [supr. modo citat.]
Ensemble od eus GAWAYNS,
E fis cosins li beus YWAYNS. This LAY, or Song, like the romance in the text, is opened with a feast celebrated at Whitfontide by king Arthur at Kardoyl, a French corruption from Carliol, by which is meant Cairleon in Wales, fome. times in romances confounded with Cardiff. (See Geoffr. Monm. ix 12.) “ Jci commence le Lay de LAUNVAL." Laventure de un Lay, Cum de avint uns cunteray, Fait fu dun gentil vassal, En Bretaigne lapelent LAUNVAL : A Kardoyl suiornoit li reys Arthur, li prouz, e li curteys, Pur les Escot, e pur
E al cuntes ', e al baruns,
A uns de la Table Runde, &c. That is, “ HERE BEGINS THE LAY OF “ LAUNVAL.-The Adventure of a cer“ tain LAY, which has been related of “ old, made of a gentle vallal, whom in “ Bretaigne they called LAUNVAL. The “ brave and courteous king Arthur so“ journed at Kardoyl, for making war a. “gainst the Scots and Piets, who destroyed " the country. He found them in the “ land of Logres, where they committed
frequent outrages. The king was there “ at the feast of Pentecost, where he gave “ rich gifts to the counts and barons, and “the knights of the round table, &c.”
The writing of this manuscript of LAUN. VAL seems about 1300. The compofition is undoubtedly niuch earlier. There is another, MSS. HARL. 978. s. 112. This I have cited in the First DISSERTATION. From this French LAUNVAL is translated, but with great additions, the English LAUNFALL, of which I have given several extracts in the DISSERTATION prefixed to this Volume, p. lxxv, &c. [Se also supr. Vol. ii. EMEND. ADD. ad Pag. 103.]
I presume this romance of Yways and GAWAYNE is translated from a French one of the same title, and in the reign of Henry the fixth ; but not by Thomas Chestre, who translated, or rather paraphrased, LAUNVAL, or Sir LAUNFALL, and who seems to have been master of a more copious and poetic style. It is not however unlikely, that Cheftre translated from a more modern French copy of LAUNVAL, heightened and improved from the old fimple Armorican tale, of which I have here produced a short extract. (See fupr. Vol. ii. p. 102.] The same perhaps may
a Logres, or Loegria, from Locrine, was the middle part of Britain.
b Counts. So in ROBERT OF GLOUCESTER, we have Contass for countess. On which word his
editor Hearne observes, that king James the first used to call a Countess a cuntys. And he quotes one of James's letters, " Come and bring the three Cuntys [for coun. “Defes] with you,” Gloss, p. 635.
be said of the English metrical romance EMAre, who marries the king of Galys, or Wales, originally an Armorican tale, before quoted. MSS. Cott. Calig. A. 2. fol. 69. (See fupr. Diss. p. lxxviii.) The last stanza confirms what has been advanced in the First DISSERTATION, concerning the connection between Cornwall and Bre. tagne, or Armorica, fol. ult.
A grette feste thar was holde
As testymonieth thys story :
Men callys playn the GARYE, I believe the last line means, « Made for “ an entertainment,”-" Which men call
playing the GARYE.” The reader may
perhaps recollect, that the old Cornish Mi. racle interlude was calied the Guar, Mirakil, that is, the Miracle Piay. (See fupr. Vol. i. p. 237.) In Cornish, Plán ax guare is the level place, the plain of sport and pastime, the theatre of games, &c. Guare is a Cornish verb, to sport, to play. In affinity with which, is probably Garish, gay, splendid. Milton, Il Pens. v. 141. Day's garish eye. Shakespeare, Rom. Jul. iii. 4. The garish fun. King RICHARD THE THIRD, A garish flag. Compare Lye, Sax. Diet. V. gean!un. To dress fine.
Who was the translator of EMARE, it is not known. I presume it was translated in the reign of Henry the fixth, and very probably by Thomas Cheftre, the trans Nator of LAUNVAL.
FEAR I shall be pronounced a heretic to modern criticism,
in retracting what I have said in a preceding page, and in placing the NoTBROWNE Mayde under some part of this reign. Prior, who, about the year 1718, paraphrased this poem,
without improving its native beauties, supposes it to have been three hundred
appears from two letters preserved in the British Museum, written by Prior to Wanley, lord Oxford's librarian, that Prior consulted Wanley about this antient ballad ". It is, however, certain, that Wanley, an antiquarian of unquestionable skill and judgement in these niceties, whatever directions and information he might have imparted to Prior on this subject, could never have communicated such a decision. He certainly in these letters gives no such opinion. This is therefore the hafty conjecture of Prior ; who thought that the curiosity which he was presenting to the world, would derive proportionable value from its antiquity, who was better employed than in the petty labour of ascertaining dates, and who knew much more of modern than antient poetry.
The NoT-BROWNE MAYDЕ first appeared in Arnolde's Chronicle, or CUSTOMS OF LONDON, which was first printed about the year 1521. This is perhaps the most heterogeneous and multifarious miscellany that ever existed. The collector sets out with a catalogue of the mayors and sheriffs, the customs and charters, of the city of London. Soon afterwards we have
receipts to pickle sturgeon, to make vinegar, ink, and gunpowder ; how to raise parsley in an hour; the arts of brewery and soap-making; an estimate of the livings in London ; an account of the last visitation of saint Magnus's church; the weight of Effex cheese, and a letter to cardinal Wolfey. The NOT-BROWNE MAYDE is introduced, between an estimate of some subsidies paid into the exchequer, and directions for buying goods in Flanders, In a word, it seems to have been this compiler's plan, by way of making up a volume, to print together all the notices and papers, whether antient or modern, which he could amass, of every fort and subject. It is supposed, that he intended an antiquarian repertory : but as many recent materials were admitted, that idea was not at least uniformly observed ; nor can any argument be drawn from that supposition, that this
poem existed long before, and was inserted as a piece of antiquity.
The editor of the PROLUSIONs infers, from an identity of rhythmus and orthography, and an affinity of words and phrases, that this poem appeared after fir Thomas More's JEST OF THE SERJEANT AND FREER, which, as I have observed, was written about the year 1500. This reasoning, were not other arguments obvious, would be inconclusive, and might be turned to the opposite side of the question. But it is evident from the language of the NoTBROWNE MAYDЕ, that it was not written earlier than the beginning, at least, of the sixteenth century. There is hardly an obsolete word, or that requires a glossary, in the whole piece : and many parts of Surry and Wyat are much more difficult to be understood. Reduce any two stanzas to modern orthography, and they shall hardly wear
appearance of antient poetry. The reader shall try the experiment on the two following, which occur accidentally
Among the wylde dere, such an archère,
As men say that ye be,
Where is so grete plentè:
Shall be full swete to me;
Endure, as ye shall fee:
I can provyde anone.
alone, The simplicity of which paffage Prior has thus decorated and dilated.