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origin, as Marie deviates from her usual phraseology in announcing her authority.
De lur amur è de lur bien
The hero was born in South Wales :
Milun fu de Suht-wales nez:
a country also called Gales :
Jeo quid k'il est de Gales nez,
E si est Milun apelez. Mention is likewise made of Northumberland; but Milun's journey from England to Brittany is so circumstantially narrated, that every doubt as to the geographical position of the latter must be removed :
A Suht-hamptune vait passer,
Dreit en Brutaine est alez.
En Normendie est passez,
Puis est desque Bretaine alez. We also gather from the same lay the names by which the inhabitants of this and several adjoining countries were designated.
Al munt Seint-Michel s'asemblèrent,
Mès ni ot guère de Engleis. In these specimens there is not the slightest evidence to prove, as asserted by Mr. Ritson, that by “ Bretaine and
Breton were intended the country and people of Great Brittain.” On the contrary, whenever Marie enters into detail, we constantly find that by “ Bretaine” she understood Brittany, and by “Breton" either the inhabitants or language of that province. No specific mention is made of England as a country; but the people and their dialect are alike called Engleis ; and the unequivocal appellation given to Wales precludes all possibility of supposing it was implied under the name of “ Bretaine.”
We now come to those Lays which Mr. Ritson has selected as containing the strongest confirmation of his opinion: “She must however [by Bretaine] mean Great Britain in the Lay of Lanval, where she mentions Kardoel, and that of Ywenec where she speaks of Carwent (i. e. Venta Silurum, now Chepstow), which she places upon the Duglas instead of the Wye.” Unhappily for the accuracy of this conclusion, the name of Bretaine never occurs throughout the Lai de Lanval. Marie certainly cites the Bretons as her authority for the narrative:
Od li s'en vait en Avalon,
Ce nus racuntent li Bretonand calls Lanval a Breton name:
L'aventure d'un autre Lai
En Bretun l'apelent Lanval. But we have already seen that these terms can have no reference to Great Britain. The Lai d’Ywenec certainly favours Mr. Ritson's opinion. It speaks of Caerwent (which, though the Roman Venta Silurum, is not Chepstow,) and places it in Bretaigne:
En Bretaigne aveit jadis
A similar combination occurs in the Lai de l'Epine:
Les estores en traï avant;
Et en Bretaigne sont séuesIt would seem as if M. Roquefort had suspected that Marie in this passage was not alluding to Caerleon in Wales; for he observes in a note: “Il existoit en France une île Saint-Aaron. Elle a été renfermée dans la ville de Saint-Malo, au moyen d'une chaussée.” That there either was a Caerleon in Armorica, or, what is far more probable, that Marie by her own powerful dictum transferred this town from the opposite side of the Channel, is evident from a passage in the Lai de Chaitivel. The events of this poem are stated to have transpired "en Bretaine a Nantes :" but in the course of the narrative, without the slightest indication of a change of scene, we find the following date produced as the period when some of the transactions occurred :
A la feste Saint-Aaron,
In this we have the clearest acknowledgement, that in the estimation of the writer, Nantz and Caerleon were towns of the same province; and the previous testimony, with one exception, has declared that province to have been Bretaine in France. If, however, we accept Marie's representation of herself, and consider her as the translator of these
poems, even this
exception loses its force. For what could be more natural to suppose on her part, than that the scene of those adventures which formed the theme of Armorican song should be laid in Armorica ? or that even where her original made mention of Brit-, tain (Wales) as the theatre of the events it registered, she should through ignorance or design interpret the expression as referring to Brittany? How much more probable is it, that either of these causes may have operated in producing the seem
» ing contradiction between the Lai d’Ywenec and every other
poem in the collection, than that Marie should have stultified herself by confounding two countries under one common name, for both of which on other occasions she had a distinctive appellation !
Of the interpretation given to her language or that of her contemporaries in this country, we have the most satisfactory evidence in Chaucer:
Thise old gentil Bretons in hir dayes,
In Armorike, that called is Bretaigne, &c. This may be contrasted with the conclusion of the Lai d'Eliduc.
Del Aventure de ces treis,
Even Mr. Ritson has admitted, that the author of Sir Orpheo may
perhaps allude to the Armorican Britons,” when he says:
In Brytayn this layes arne ywrytt,
This is but a similar declaration to the language of Marie already cited from the Lai d'Equitan. Of the popularity of
Orpheo’s” story in Armorica, we have a sufficient testimony in the Lai d'Epine:
Le Lais escoutent d'Aielis,
Apriès celi d'autre commenche,
Le Lai lor sone d'OrphéyThere is one peculiarity in the language of. Marie relative to this subject which remains to be noticed. In the Lai de Graelent she speaks of “Bretaigne le menur,” an expression which occurs once again in the Lai d'Eliduc. But this refinement is not preserved throughout either of the poems: for in the first we have “ En Bretaigne est venue al port;" and in the second, “ En Britaine ot un Chevalier,”—both with reference to the same country. Of a “ Bretaine le grand” there is no trace in the whole collection: and if it be allowable to speculate upon a question so perfectly beyond the grasp of certainty, the utmost we can venture to infer will be, that though Marie may have found this distinctive nomenclature in her original text, she evidently neglected to observe it. We know from other sources, that in her time one of these countries was better known by its subdivision into the realms of Engleterre and Gales.
The second volume of M. Roquefort's edition of Marie's Poems contains her Fables. It is not intended to exhaust the reader's patience by entering into a discussion of the source from whence these fables were derived; but as MM. de la Rue and Roquefort have attempted to claim her English original as the production of Henry the First, the subject cannot be wholly passed over in silence. These gentlemen do not seem to have known that a copy of the fables preserved at Oxford unites with the Harleian MS. 78. in attributing the English version to king Alfred.
I e reiz Alurez que mut l'ama
Le translata puis en Engleis *. This, supported as it is by the several disguises of the Pasquier and King's MSS. which read Auvert and Affrus, and
• MSS. James. viii. p. 23. Bibl, Bodl. cited below, vol. ii. p. 253.