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in a barbarous Latin translation, by one Syrus; or in a narrative framed from thence by Gregory of Tours'.
Henry Bradshaw has rather larger pretensions to poetical fame than William of Nassington, although scarcely deserving the name of an original writer in any respect. He was a native of Chester, educated at Gloucester college in Oxford, and at length a Benedictine monk of saint Werburgh's abbey in his native place". Before the year 1500, he wrote the LIFE OF SAINT WERBURGH, a daughter of a king of the Mercians, in English verse w. This poem, beside the devout deeds and passion of the poet's patroness saint, comprehends a variety of other subjects; as a description of the kingdom of the Mercians, the lives of saint Etheldred and saint Sexburgh y, the foundation of the city of Chester ?, and a chronicle of our kingsa. Apud Surium, ad 27 Jul.
And sithen regnyd his sone Richerd, · Historia septem Dormientium. Paris. A man that was never aferd : 1511. 410. Ibid. 1640. And apud Rui- He werred ofte tyme and wyse nart. p. 1270. See Præf. Ruinart. § 79. Worthily upon goddis enemyse. And Gregory himself De gloria marty- And sithen he was shoten, alas ! rum, cap. 95. pag. 826. This piece is Atte castle Gailard there he was. noticed and much commended by the Atte Fonte Everarde he lithe there : old chronicler Albericus, ad ann. 319. He regnyd almost ten yere.
" Athen. Oxon. i. p. 9. Pits. 690. In Johne is tyme, as y u:derstonde,
" He declares, that he does not mean Was entredyted alle Engelonde : to rival Chaucer, Lydgate senlentious, He was fulle wrothe and grym, pregnaunt Barklay, and inventive Skel- For prestus would nought synge before ton. The two last were his cotempora
hym, &c. ries. L. ii. c. 21.
* Lib. i. c. ii. y Lib. i. cap. xviii. xix.
Lydgate has left the best chronicle of z Lib. i. cap. iii.
the kind, and most approaching to poetry. · Lib. ii. cap. XV.
'The fashion of The regnynge of kyngys after the conquest writing metrical Chronicles of the kings Bodl. 16. (And MSS. Ashmol. 59. ii.
by the monk of Bury. MSS. Fairf. Bibl. of England grew very fashionable in this
MSS. Har). 2251. 3. And a beautiful century. See supr. vol. i. p. 96. Many of these are evidently composed for the copy, with pictures of the kings, MSS. harp: but they are mostly mere genea- (Unless printed by Wynkyn de Worde,
Cotton. Julius. E. 5.) Never printed. logical deductions. Hearne has printed, 1530. 4to. This myghty Wyllyam duke from the Heralds office, a PETEGREE of of Normandy.”] This is one of the stanour kings, from William the conqueror zas. (See Mss. Bodl. B. 3. 1999. 6.] to Henry the Sixth, written in 1448. [APPENDIX to Rob. Gloucestr. vol. ii.
RICARDUS PRIMUS. p. 585. see p. 588.) This is a specimen. Rychard the next by successyon, Then regnyd Harry nought full wyse, Ffirst of that name, strong, hardy, and The son of Mold (Maud) the emperyse. notable, In hys tyme then seynt 'Thomas Was crouned kynge, called Cur de lyon, At Caunterbury marteryd was.
With Saryzonys hedys served atte table: He held Rosomund the sheen,
Sleyn at Galard by death full lamentable: Gret sorwe hit was for the queen: The space regned fully ix yere ; At Wodestoke for hure he made a toure, His hiert buryed in Roon, atte highe That is called ROSEMOUNDES BOURE.
It is collected from Bede, Alfred of Beverly, Malmesbury, Girardus Cambrensis, Higden's Polychronicon, and the passionaries of the female saints, Werburgh, Etheldred, and Sexburgh, which were kept for public edification in the choir of the church of our poet's monasteryb. Bradshaw is not so fond of relating visions and miracles as his argument seems to promise. Although concerned with three saints, he deals more in plain facts than in the fictions of religious romance; and, on the whole, his performance is rather historical than legendary. This is remarkable, in an age, when it was the fashion to turn history into legend. His fabulous origin of Chester is not Compare MSS. Harl. 372. 5. There method of forming, and reducing into was partly a political view in these de- parchment-rolls, HISTORICAL Tkees of ductions: to ascertain the right of our the old testament. Albcric. in Chron, kings to the crowns of France, Castile, p. 441. See MSS. Denb. 1627. 1. Rot. Leon, and the dutchy of Normandy. membr. See MSS. Harl. 326. 2.-116. 11. fol. As to Bradshaw's history of the foun142. I know not whether it be worth dation of Chester, it may be classed with observing, that about this time a practice the FOUNDATION OF THE ABBEY OF Gloc. prevailed of constructing long parch- CESTER, a poem of twenty-two stanzas, ment-rolls in Latin, of the Pedigree of written in the year 1534, by the last our kings. Of this kind is the Pedigree abbot William Malverne, printed by of British kings from Adam to Henry the Hearne, ubi supr. p. 378. This piece Širth, written about the year 1450, by is mentioned by Harpsfield, Hist. Roger Alban, a Carmelite friar of Lon- EccLEs. Angl. p. 264. Princip. “ In don. It begins, “ Considerans chronico- sundrie fayer volumes of antiquitie." rum prolixitatem." The original copy, MSS. Harl. 539. 14. fol. 111. presented to Henry the Sixth by the
• For as declareth the true Passion compiler, is now in Queen's college
NARY, library at Oxford. MSS. (22.] B. 5. 3. A boke where her holie lyfe wrytten is, There are two copies in Winchester col
Which boke remayneth in Chester molege library, and another in the Bodleian,
nastery. Among bishop More's manuscripts, there is a parchment-roll of the Pedigree Lib. i. c. vii. Signat. C. ü. And again,
ibid. of our kings from Ethelred to Henry the Fourth, in French, with pictures of I folow the legend and true hystory the several monarchs. MSS. 495. And After an humble stile and from it lytell in the same collection, a Pedigree from vary. Harold to Henry the Fourth, with ele- And in the Prologue, lib. i. Signat. gant illuminations. MSS. 479. In the
A iii. same rage of genealogising, Alban above mentioned framed the Descent of Jesus Untoo this rude worke myne auctors Christ, from Adam through the Leviti these, cal and regal tribes, the Jewish patri Fyrst the true Legends, and the renearchs, judges, kings, prophets, and
rable Bede, priests. The original roll, as it seems, Mayster Alfrydus, and Wyllyam Malon vellum, beautifully illuminated, is in musbury, MSS. More, ut supr. 495. But this Gyrard, Polychronicon, and other mo was partly copied from Peter of Poictou,
indeed. a disciple of Lombard about the year ° Even scripture-history was turned 1170, who, for the benefit of the poorer into romance. The story of Esther and clergy, was the first that found out the Ahasuerus, or of Amon or Hamon, and
so much to be imputed to his own want of veracity, as to the authority of his voucher Ranulph Higden, a celebrated chro nicler, his countryman, and a monk of his own abbeyd. He MARDOCHEUS or Mordecai, was formed ing reproached his wife for her usual into a fabulous poem. MS. Vernon, ut frowardness of temper, at last conjures supr. fol. 213.
her to come on board the ark, for fear Of Amon and MARDOCHEUS.
of drowning. His wife insists on his
sailing without her; and swears by Christ Mony wynter witerly Or Crist weore boren of vre ladi,
and saint John, that she will not embark
till some of her old female companions A rich kynge, hizte AHASWERE, That stif was on stede and stere;
are ready to go with her. She adds, that
if he is in such a hurry, he may sail alone, Mighti kynge he was, i wis,
and fetch himself a new wife. At length He livede muchel in weolye ant blis,
Shem, with the help of his brothers, His blisse may i mat telle zou,
forees her into the vessel; and while How lange hit weore to schewe hit nou; Noah very cordially welcomes her on But thing that tovcheth to vre matere
board, she gives him a box on the ear. I wol zou telle, gif ze wol here.
There is an apocryphal book, of the The kyng lovede a knight so wele, That he commaunded men should knele of Seth's pilgrimage to Paradise, &c. &c.
expulsion of Adam from Paradise, and Bifore him, in vche a streete,
MSS. Eccles. Cathedr. Winton. 4. Over all ther men mihte him meete;
• There is the greatest probability, Axon was the knihtes nome,
that Ralph HIGDEN, hitherto known as On him fell muchel worldus schome, Ffor in this ilke kynges lande
a grave historian and theologist, was the Was moche folke of Jewes wonande,
compiler of the Chester-plays, mentioned
above, vol. ii. p. 76. In one of the Of heore kynd the kyng hym tok
Harleian copies [2013. 1.] under the A qwene to wyve, as tellet the bok, &c.
Proclamation for performing these plays In the British Museum, there is a in the year 1522, this note occurs, in the long commentitious narrative of the hand of the third Randal Holme, one Creation of Adam and Eve, their Suffer- of the Chester antiquaries. “ Sir John ings and Repentance, Death and Burial. Arnway was mayor, A.D. 1327 and MSS. Harl. 1704. 5. fol. 18. This is 1928. At which tyme these playes were from a Latin piece on the same subject, written by RANDALL HIGGENET, a monke, ibid. 495. 12. fol. 43. imperf. In the of Chester abbey," &c. In a prologue English, Peter Comestor, the maister of to these plays, when they were presented stories, author of the historia scholastica, in the year 1600, are these lines, ibid. 2. wbo flourished about the year 1170, is That some tymes ther was mayor of this quoted. fol. 26. But he is not men
citie tioned in the Latin, at fol. 49.
Sir John Arnway knight: who most In Chaucer's MILLER'S TALE, we
worthilie have this passage, v. 3538.
Contented hymselfe to sett out in playe, Hast thou not herd, quod Nicholas also, The Devise of one Done Rondall, The sorwe of Noe with his felawship,
Moonke of Chester abbaye. Or that he might get his wif to ship? Done Rondall is Dan (dominus) Randal. I know not whether this anecdote about In another of the Harleian copies of Noah is in any similar supposititious book these plays, written in the year 1607, of Genesis. It occurs, however, in the this note appears, seemingly written in Chester Whitsun Playes, where the au- the year 1628. [MSS. Harl. 2124.] thors, according to the established indul « The Whitsun playes first made by one gence allowed to dramatic poets, perhaps Don Rondle Heggenet, a monke of Chesthought themselves at liberty to enlarge ter abbey: who was thrise at Rome beon the sacred story. MSS. Harl. 2013. fore he could obtaine leave of the pope to 'This altercation between Noah and his have them in the English tongue." Our wife, takes up almost the whole third chronicler's name in the text,
sometimes pageaunt of these interludes. Noah, have written Hikeden, and Higgeden, was easily
supposes that Chester, called by the antient Britons Cair Lleon, or the city of Legions, was founded by Leon Gaur, a giant, corrupted from Leon Vaur, or the great legion.
The founder of this citie, as sayth Polychronicon,
No goodlie buildyng, ne proper, ne pleasant.
But kinge Leir a Britan fine and valiaunt,
And was named Guar Leir by the kyng. But a greater degree of credulity would perhaps have afforded him a better claim to the character of a poet: and, at least, we should have conceived a more advantageous opinion of his imagination, had he been less frugal of those traditionary fables, in which ignorance and superstition had cloathed every part of his argument. This piece was first printed by Pinson in the year 1521. “Here begynneth the holy lyfe of SAYNT WERBURGE, very frutefull for all cristen people to redef.” He traces the genealogy of saint Werburg with much historical accuracy 8. corrupted into Higgenet, or Heggenet: 1328, and there was so much difficulty and Randal is Ranulph or Randolph, in obtaining the pope's permission that Ralph. He died, having been a monk they might be presented in English, a of Chester abbey sixty-four years, in the presumptive proof arises, that all our year 1963. In Piers Plowman, a frier MYSTERIES before that period were in says, that he is well acquainted with the Latin. These plays will therefore have “rimes of RandALL OF CHESTER.” fol. the merit of being the first English in26. edit. 1550. I take this passage to terludes.
e Lib. i. c. iii. allude to this very person, and to his In octavo. With a wooden cut of the compositions of this kind, for which he Saint. Princip. “ When Phebus had was probably soon famous. (The MSS. ronne his cours in Sagittari.” At the read Randall erle of Chester, which in- beginning is an English copy of verses, dependently of other reasons equally con- by J. T. And at the end two others. clusive renders this conjecture perfectly A descrypcyon of the genealogy of nugatory.--Edır.) In an anonymous SAYNT WERBURGE, &-c. Chronicon, he is styled Ranulphus This noble prynces, the doughter of Cestrensis, which is nothing more than
Syon, Randall or Chester. MS. Ric. James The floure of vertu, and vyrgyn gloryxi. 8. Bibl. Bodl. And again we have,
ous, Ranulphi CESTRENSIS “ars componendi Blessed saynt Werburge, full of devosermones.” MSS. Bodl. sup. N. 2. Art.
cyon, 10. And in many other places.
Descended by auncetry, and tytle famous, By the way, if it be true that these Of foure myghty kynges, noble and vycMYSTERIES were composed in the year
The most splendid passage of this poem, is the following description of the feast made by king Ulpher in the hall of the abbey of Ely, when his daughter Werburgh was admitted to the veil in that monastery. Among other curious anecdotes of antient manners, the subjects of the tapestry, with which the hall was hung, and of the songs sung by the minstrels, on this solemn occasion, are given at large h.
Kynge Wulfer her father at this ghostly spousage
Reynynge in his lande, by true succes. Which Penda subdued, fyue kynges of
syon, As her lyfe historyall', maketh declara- Reygnynge thyrty yere, in worshyp and cyon.
reuerens The year of our lorde, from the na- Was grauntfather to Werburge, by lytyuyte
nyall successyon Fyue hundreth xiii. and iiii. score, By his quene Kyneswith, had a noble Whan Austyn was sende, from saynt generacyon Gregorye,
Fyue valeant prynces, Penda and kynge To conuert this regyon, unto our sa Wulfer, uyoure
Kynge Ethelred, saynt Marceyl, saynt The noble kyng Cryda than reygned with Marwalde in fere.
honoure Upon the Mercyens, whiche kynge was
h “Of the great solempnyte kynge father Wulfer made at the ghostly maryage
of Unto kynge Wybba, and Quadriburge Saynt Werburge his doughter, to all his bis syster.
lovers, cosyns, and frendes," Ca. xvi. This Wybba gate Penda, kynge of L. i.
That is, her Legend.
2 Edit. Pins. 1521.