תמונות בעמוד

I schal tel hit as tit
as I in toun herde,
as hit is stad and stoken
in stori stif and stronge
wit lel letteres loken

in londe so has ben longe.* On analysing the language of this production, it will be found to form a striking contrast to the simple narrative of De Brunne, or the abrupt and costive style of Sir Tristram. It abounds in those “ selcouth names” which in the fourteenth century were rapidly growing into disuse, and which were only retained by the writers in alliterative metre. Every relic of this species of versification displays the same exuberance of obsolete terms, the same attention to set phraseology and antique idioms manifested in the specimen given above; and the practice cannot be better illustrated, than by referring to the “quaint Hellenisms” which distinguish the Alexandrine school of heroic poetry. By De Brunne, who only felt such learned foppery to be a drawback upon the writer's popularity, it is merely condemned as an error in policy; by Chaucer, who saw the necessary sacrifice it involved of matter to manner, of sense to sound, it is ridiculed for its childish absurdity:

But trusteth wel I am a sotherne man,
I cannot geste, rem, ram, ruf by my letter,

And God wote, rime hold I but litel better. Of the Rymer's claim to an " original property” in this story, as inferred from the language of the French fragments, Mr. Campbell has already remarked: “ The whole force of this argument evidently depends upon the supposition of Mr. Douce's fragments being the work of one and the same author, -whereas they are not to all appearance by the same author. A single perusal will enable us to observe how remarkably

• This stanza has been arranged ac- it is the Editor's intention to give in a cording to the practice of Anglo-Saxon future publication, which will also conpoetry. The reasons for this departure tain the whole romance from whence the from the usual disposition of the lines specimen given above has been taken.

they differ in style. They have no appearance of being parts of the same story, one of them placing the court of king Mark at Tintagail, the other at London. Only one of the fragments refers to the authority of a Thomas, and the style of that one bears very strong marks of being French of the twelfth century, a date which places it beyond the possibility of its referring to Thomas of Erceldoune.” In addition it may be observed, that the language of this fragment, so far from vesting Thomas with the character of an original writer, affirms directly the reverse:


Seignurs cest cunte est mult divers-
Oï en ai de plusur gent;
Aser sai que chescun en dit,
Et co qu'il unt mis en ecrit.
Mé selun ce que j'ai oi,
Nél dient pas sulun Breri,
Ki solt les gestes et les cuntes
De tus les reis, de tus les cuntes,
Ki orent ésté en Bretagne,
E sur que tut de cest ouraigne:
Plusurs de nos granter ne volent
Ce que del naim dire se solent,
Ki femme Kaherdin dut aimer &c.
Pur cest plaie e pur cest mal,
Enveiad Tristran Guvernal
En Engleterre pur Ysolt.
Thomas ico granter ne volt;
Et si volt par raisun mustrer,
Qu'ico ne put pas esteer.

5“ Lordings, this tale is very diffe- of us (minstrels) will not allow what rently told; I have heard it from many: others tell of (Tristram) the dwarf, who I know well enough how each tells it, is said to have been in love with the wife and what they have put in writing. But of Kaherdin, &c. On account of the according to what I have heard, they do wound and this disease, Tristram sent not tell it as Breri does, who knew the Gouvernail into England for Ysolt. gestes and the tales of all the kings, and Thomas however will not admit this; all the earls, who had been in Brittany, and undertakes to prove, by argument, and about the whole of this story. Many that this could not be. He(Gonvernail)

Cist fust par tut la part coneus,
E par tut le regne sius &c.
Que hume issi coneus,
N'i fut mult tost aperceus,

Ne sai coment il se gardast &c. It is clear from this document, that in the writer's opinion the earliest and most authentic narrative of Tristram's story was to be found in the work of Breri. From his relation later minstrels had chosen to deviate; but Thomas, who had also composed a romance upon the subject, not only accorded with Breri in the order of his events, but entered into a justification of himself and his predecessor, by proving the inconsistency and absurdity of these new-fangled variations. If therefore the romance of Thomas be in existence, it must contain this vindication; the poem in the Auchinleck MS. is entirely silent on the subject. It is not a little remarkable, that another fragment of French poetry should also mention a Thomas, the author of a translated romance on the subject of king Horn.

Seignurs oï avez le vers del parchemin,
Cum le Bers Aalúf est venuz a la fin;
Mestre Thomas ne volt qu'il seit mis a declin,

K'il ne die de Horn le vaillant orphelin? And, as if the writer had not sufficiently declared himself in this passage, we find the following repetition of his name at the conclusion:

Tomas n'en dirrat plus: tu autem chanterat,

Tu autem, domine, miserere nostri. was known all over those parts, and Pliny (lib. i. p. 5) records a paralthroughout the kingdom, &c. That a man lel piece of affectation observed by the so known there, should not have been im- Grecian artists, who used the imperfect mediately perceived, I do not know how tense in their inscriptions instead of the he could have prevented."-Scort. first aorist.

& From this prudish mode of an- ?“ Lordings, you have heard the nouncing an author's name, it is impos- poem as it stands in the parchment, how sible not to suspect, that the Tomas of Baron Aaluf came to his end. (But) Mr. Douce's fragment is in fact the au- Master Thomas is unwilling the story thor of that poem. Alexandre de Bernay should be closed, till he has spoken of declares himself in a similar manner. the bold orphan Horn." Alexandre nous dit qui de Bernay fu nez.




That this Thomas was only a translator or copyist of some earlier authority, is clear from his language in the first of these extracts; and is confirmed by two passages of similar import in a subsequent part of the poem.

E Horn si a torné cum dit le parchemin.
De Sutdene sui nez, si ma geste ne ment.


Sir Walter Scott is disposed to interpret this mention of a Thomas," though the opinion be only stated hypothetically,”—as another reference to the authority of Thomas of Erceldoune; and anticipates any objection that might arise from the apparent antiquity of the language, by instancing the disparity between that of Douglas and Chaucer; the former of which he asserts “we should certainly esteem” (the elder),

] when in fact it is nearly two centuries later. We may safely leave the discussion of this point, till it be proved that the case at issue is any way analogous to the example brought to refute it; till it be shown that the French romance of king Horn was written in some remote province of France, where the vernacular dialect had either been entirely neglected, or contained elements essentially differing from the language of the capital. In fact, the whole argument with regard to antiquity of language may be said to be perfectly beyond the grasp of contending parties on this side of the channel; such a subject can only be decided with any chance of accuracy by native authority. But the ingenious advocate of the Rhymer's fame has wholly forgotten to observe, that Mr. Ritson prudently abstained from touching on this point, and only spoke to the antiquity of the document in which the romance was found. This he affirmed “is to all appearance of the twelfth century;" and here the opinion of an English antiquary may be admitted as efficient testimony. On a review of these facts we may therefore assert, that if any conclusion is to be drawn from this collateral mention of a Thomas, it must be, that both fragments in all probability refer to the same personage. This man indisputably wrote in French; and so far from having an original property

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in the fictions which he versified, we find him in both instances the follower of earlier authorities. The testimony of Godfrey of Strasburg will be found in close accordance with this opinion. Like the writer of the fragment in Mr. Douce's possession, Godfrey records the difficulty he had found in procuring an authentic narrative of Tristram's story, on account of the various modes in which it was related. At length having discovered, from his perusal of several foreign and Latin works, that Thomas of Brittany, who was well read in British books, had “ told the tale aright,” he resolved upon adhering to so competent a guide.

Als der von Tristande seit
Di rihte und di warheit,
Begonde ich sere suchen
In beider hande buchen,
Welschin und Latinen,
Und begonde mich des pinen,
Das ich in siner rihte,
Rihte dies tihte.
Sus treib ich manige suche,
Unz ich an einem buche,
Alle sine iehe gelas,
Wie dirre aventure was.

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Of the language in which this “foreign book” was written, and which Godfrey believed to be the original text of Thomas, Mr. Weber has supplied us with the following conclusive evidence: “At v. 220 (of Godfrey's version) we are told that

8 Before this name was interpreted -Brittany and England. * Thomas of Brittain,” (i. e. Great 9 « What he (Thomas of Brittany) has Britain) it ought to have been shown related of Tristram being the right and that the German romancers ever under the truth, I diligently began to seek stood this country by the term “ Brit- both in French [foreign] and Latin tanie.” Godfrey's contemporary, Hart- books; and began to take great pains to man von Awe, who collected materials for order this poem according to his [its] his romance of Iwain in England, calls true relation. In this manner I sought it “ Engellandt.” The writer of Mr. for a long time, until I read in a book Douce's fragment also makes a distinc- all his relation, how these adventures tion between Bretagne and Engleterre happened."-WEBER.

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