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THAT peculiar and arbitrary species of Fiction which we
* [“It cannot be true,” says Ritson,
of learning in the middle ages (says Gib-
[This is a mere cavil of Mr. Ritson's,
+ [See Huet Traité de l'Origine des
* See ALMAKIN, edit. Erpenius, p. 72.
* [The conquest of Spain by the Arabians becomes one of the most curious and important events recorded in history, when it is considered as having in a great degree contributed to the progress of civilization in Europe, and to the diffusion of science and art. (See this illustrated in the Arabian Antiquities of Spain, by
J. C. Murphy.) “But there is evidence,
* “Arabico eloquio sublimati,” &c. Du Cang. Gloss. Med. Inf. Latinitat. tom. i. Praef. p. xxvii. S. 31.
* [Ritson avers, that there is not one single French romance now extant, and but one mentioned by any ancient writer, which existed before the first Crusade, under Godfrey earl of Bologne, afterward king of Jerusalem, in 1097.*** + [From Ary-már ucha', i.e. on the upper sea. See Jones's Relicks of the Welsh Bards.-PARx.]
# [“The lays of this country,” says Rit
son, “were anciently very celebrated, although not one, nor even the smallest vestige of one, in its vernacular language (a dialect of the Britanno-Celtic) is known to exist. The Bretons have but one single poem, of any consequence, in their native idiom, ancient or modern : the predictions of a pretended prophet, named Gwinglaff, the MS. whereof is dated 1450.” Notes to Metric. Rom. iii. 329. Ritson afterwards expresses his belief, that by Bretagne and Bretons were meant the island and inhabitants of Great Britain. At the same time, it does not (he thinks) appear; that any such lays are preserved in Wales any more than in Basse-Bretagne, if, in fact, , they ever existed in either country. Ibid.
p. 332. In his Dissertation on Romance and Minstrelsy (p. xxiv.) Ritson adds two other Armoric poems to the predictions of Gwinglaff, viz. the life of Gwenolé, abbot of Landevenec, one of their fabulous saints; and a little dramatic piece on the taking of Jerusalem. Thus, our doughty critic, from being too positive and too peremptory, had cause to correct his own hallucinations as well as those of others.-Pank.] * Thereason on which this conclusion is founded, will appear hereafter. [“It is difficult,” says Mr. Douce, “to conceive, that the people of Britany could have been influenced by the Arabians at any period.”—PARx. * In the British Museum is a set of old French tales of chivalry in verse, written, as it seems, by the bards of Bretagne. MSS. Harl. 978. 107. These tales were not written by the bards of Bretagne, but by a poetess of the name of Marie de France, of whom nothing is known. In one of these lais she names herself, and says that most of her tales are borrowed from the old British lais, The scenes of several of these storiesarelaid in Bretagne, which appears sometimes to mean Brittany in France, andsometimes Great Britain'.--Douce.] [Marie is not mentioned in Le Grand's
* See Note B. at the end of this Dissertation.
This territory was, as it were, newly
peopled in the fourth century by a colony or army of the Welsh, who migrated thither under the conduct of Maximus, a Roman
.catalogue, though he has modernised and published her Fables in French, from king Alfred's Anglo-Saxon version of AEsop. That she had written lays seems not to have been known to him. M. de la Rue has given a list of her lays in Archaeol. xiii. 42. They are twelve in number, and one of them contains 1184 verses. She also wrote a history or tale in French verse, of St. Patrick's Pur. gatory, two copies of which are in the British Museum. This was early translated into English under the title of Owayne Miles (Sir Owen). Mr. Ellis, in his Specimens of early English metrical Romances, has introduced an abstract or analysis of the lays of Marie, which he informs us that Ritson either neglected to read, or was unable to understand; since he denied their Armorican origin. See his observations, vol. i. p. 137. Mr Way published an elegant version of the first of these lays (Guigemar) in his Fabliaux; and Mr. Ellis printed an early translation of the third (Lai le Fresne) from the Auchinleck MS. in his Romance Specimens.—PAax.] ... “This ritAM a WALEs” is mentioned, f. 171. b.
Tristram ki bien saveit HARPEIR.
In the adventure of the knight EliDuc, f. 172. b. En Bretaine ot un chevalier Pruz, & curteis, hardi, & fier.
Again, under the same champion, f. 173.
Il tient sun chemin tut avant. A la mer vient, si est passez, En Toteneis est arrivez; Plusurs réis ot en latere, Entr'eus eurent estrife guere, Vers Excestre en cel pais—
Toren Eis is Totness in Devonshire.— Under the knight MILUN, f. 166.
Milun fu de Suthwales nez.
He is celebrated for his exploits in Ireland, Norway, Gothland, Lotharingia, Albany, &c.
Under LAUNvAL, f. 154. b.
La caumbre ert painte tut entur;
This description of a chamber painted with Venus and the three mysteries of nature, and the allusion to Ovid, prove the tales before us to be of no very high antiquity. But they are undoubtedly taken from others much older, of the same country.
[Mr. Douce observes that Warton has totally misunderstood these lines, in which there is nothing about the mysteries of nature; and they mean no more than that the chamber exhibited the description and manner how a man should fall in love, &c. Mustrez is put for mon“o.]
At the end of ELIDuc's tale we have these lines. f. 181.
Del aventure deces treis,
And under the tale of FREsNE, f. 148,
At the conclusion of most of the tales it is said that these LA1s were made by the poets of Bretaigne. Another of the tales is thus closed, f. 146. De cest conte k'oi avez Fu Gugemer le LA1 trovez Qui hum dist en harpe é en rote Bone en esta oir la note.
* Histoire DE BRETAGNE, ii. tom. fol. [Mr. Ritson says he repeatedly, but unsuccessfully, examined Lobineaufor these citations, and that Mr. Doucehadequally failed in discovering them.–EDIT.]