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interpolations. It was probably finished after the year 1138 u [1128*]
It is difficult to ascertain exactly the period at which our translator's original romance may probably be supposed to have been compiled. Yet this is a curious speculation, and will illustrate our argument. I am inclined to think that the work consists of fables thrown out by different rhapsodists at different times, which afterwards were collected and digested into an entire history, and perhaps with new decorations of fancy added by the compiler, who most probably was one of the professed bards, or rather a poetical historian, of Armorica or BasseBretagne. In this state, and under this form, I suppose it to have fallen into the hands of Geoffrey of Monmouth. If the hypothesis hereafter advanced concerning the particular species of fiction on which this narrative is founded, should be granted, and has been many years preparing ma- that he took some of the materials of his terials for giving an accurate and faithful supplement from the HISTORIA Britotranslation of it into English. The ma NUM, lately translated out of British into nuscript in Jesus college library at Ox- Latin. This was manifestly Geoffrey's ford, which Wynne pretends to be the book. Alfred of Beverly, who evidently same which Geoffrey himself made use wrote his AnnALES, published by of, is evidently not older than the six- Hearne, between the years 1148 and teenth century. Mr. Price, the Bodleian 1150 [in the year 1129.-TURNER.), librarian, to whose friendship this work borrowed his account of the British is much indebted, has two copies lately kings from Geoffrey's HISTORIA, whose given him by Mr. Banks, much more words he sometimes literally transcribes. antient and perfect. But there is reason For instance, Alfred, in speaking of to suspect, that most of the British ma Arthur's keeping Whitsuntide at Caernuscripts of this history are translations leon, says, that the Historia BRITONUN from Geoffrey's Latin: for Britannia enumerated all the kings who came they have BRYTTAEN, which in the ori- thither on Arthur's invitation : and then ginal would have been Prydain. Geof- adds, “ Præter hos non remansit prinfrey's translation, and for obvious rea ceps alicujus pretii citra Hispaniam qui sons, is a very common manuscript. ad istud edictum non venerit.” Alured. Compare Lhuyd's Arch, p. 265. Bev. Annal. p. 63. edit. Hearne. These Thompson says, 1128. ubi supr. are Geoffrey's own words; and so much
Geoffrey's age is ascertained his own, that they are one of his addibeyond a doubl, even if other proofs were tions to the British original. But the wanting, from the cotemporaries whom curious reader, who desires a complete he mentions. Such as Robert earl of and critical discussion of this point, may Glocester, natural son of Henry the consult an original letter of bishop Lloyd, First, and Alexander bishop of Lincoln, preserved among Tanner's manuscripts his patrons : he mentions also William at Oxford, num. 94. of Malmesbury, and Henry of Hunting [This letter was printed in Gutch's don. Wharton places Geoffrey's death “ Collectanea Curiosa," and in Owen's in the year 1154. Episc. Assav. p. 306. British Remains, and affords little inforRobert de Monte, who continued Sige- mation worthy of notice. -Douce.) bert's chronicle down to the year 1183, (Sec Mr. Turner's History of Enin the preface to that work expressly says, gland, i. p. 457.-Enır.)
it cannot, from what I have already proved, be more antient than the eighth century: and we may reasonably conclude, that it was composed much later, as some considerable length of time must have been necessary for the propagation and establishment of that species of fiction. The simple subject of this chronicle, divested of its romantic embellishments, is a deduction of the Welsh princes from the Trojan Brutus to Cadwallader, who reigned in the seventh century. It must be acknowledged, that many European nations were antiently fond of tracing their descent from Troy. Hunnibaldus Francus, in his Latin history of France, written in the sixth century, beginning with the Trojan war, and ending with Clovis the First, ascribes the origin of the French nation to Francio a son of Priam". So universal was this humour, and carried to such an absurd excess of extravagance, that under the reign of Justinian, even the Greeks were ambitious of being thought to be descended from the Trojans, their antient and notorious enemies, Unless we adopt the idea of those antiquaries, who contend that Europe was peopled from Phrygia, it will be hard to discover at what period, or from what source, so strange and improbable a notion could take its rise, especially among nations unacquainted with history, and overwhelmed in ignorance. The most rational mode of accounting for it, is to suppose, that the revival of Virgils Eneid about the sixth or seventh century, which represented the Trojans as the founders of Rome, the capital of the supreme pontiff, and a city on various other accounts in the early ages of christianity highly reverenced and distinguished, occasioned an emulation in many other European nations of claiming an alliance to the same respectable original,
This notion of their extraction from arrival in Britain. The archbishop very the Trojans had so infatuated the Welsh, seriously advises them to boast no more that even so late as the year 1284, arch- of their relation to the conquered and bishop Peckham, in his injunctions to fugitive Trojans, but to glory in the victhe diocese of St. Asuph, orders the peo- torious cross of Christ. Concil. Wilkins, ple to abstain from giving credit to idle tom. ii. p. 106. edit. 1737. fol. dreams and visions, a superstition which " It is among the SCRIPTORES RER. they had contracted from their belief in GERMAN. Sim. Schard. tom. i. p. 301. the dream of their founder Brutus, in edit. Basil. 1574. fol. It consists of the temple of Diana, concerning his eighteen books.
The monks and other ecclesiastics, the only readers and writers of the age, were likely to broach, and were interested in propagating, such an opinion. As the more barbarous countries of Europe began to be tinctured with literature, there was hardly one of them but fell into the fashion of deducing its original from some of the nations most celebrated in the antient books. Those who did not aspire so high as king Priam, or who found that claim preoccupied, boasted to be descended from some of the generals of Alexander the Great, from Prusias king of Bithynia, from the Greeks or the Egyptians. It is not in the mean time quite improbable, that as most of the European nations were provincial to the Romans, those who fancied themselves to be of Trojan extraction might have imbibed this notion, at least have acquired a general knowledge of the Trojan story, from their conquerors: more especially the Britons, who continued so long under the yoke of Romex. But as to the story of Brutus in particular, Geoffrey's hero, it may be presumed that his legend was not contrived, nor the history of his successors invented, till after the ninth century: for Nennius, who lived about the middle of that century, not only speaks of Brutus with great obscurity and inconsistency, but seems totally uninformed as to every circumstance of the British affairs which preceded Cesar's invasion. There are other proofs that this piece could not have existed before the ninth century. Alfred's Saxon translation of the Mercian law is mentionedy. Charlemagne's Twelve Peers, and by an anachronism not uncommon in romance, are said to be present at king Arthur's magnificent coronation in the city of Caerleon 2. It were easy to produce instances, that this chronicle was undoubtedly framed after the legend of saint Ursula, the acts of saint Lucius, and the historical writings of the venerable Bede, had undergone some degree of circulation in the world. At the same time it contains many passages which incline us to determine, that some parts of it at least were written after or about the eleventh century. I will not insist on that passage, in * See inft. Sect. iii. p. 131, 132.
Y L. iii, c. 13.
2 L. ix. c. 12.
which the title of legate of the apostolic see is attributed to Dubricius in the character of primate of Britain; as it appears for obvious reasons to have been an artful interpolation of the translator, who was an ecclesiastic. But I will select other arguments. Canute's forest, or Cannock-wood in Staffordshire occurs; and Canute died in the year 10362. At the ideal coronation of king Arthur, just mentioned, a tournament is described as exhibited in its highest splendor. Many knights," says our Armoric fabler, “famous for feats of chivalry, were present, with apparel and arms of the same colour and fashion. They formed a species of diversion, in imitation of a fight on horseback, and the ladies being placed on the walls of the castles, darted amorous glances on the combatants. None of these ladies esteemed any knight worthy of her love, but such as had given proof of his gallantry in three several encounters. Thus the valour of the men encouraged chastity in the wonien, and the attention of the women proved an incentive to the soldier's bravery a.” Here is the practice of chivalry under the combined ideas of love and military prowess, as they seem to have subsisted after the feudal constitution had acquired greater degrees not only of stability but of splendor and refinement b. And although a species of tournament was exhibited in France at the reconciliation of the sons of Lewis the Feeble, in the close of the ninth century, and at the beginning of the tenth, the coronation of the emperor Henry was solemnized with martial entertainments, in which many parties were introduced fighting on horseback; yet it was long afterwards that these games were accompanied with the peculiar formalities, and ceremonious usages,
here described. In the mean time, we cannot
? L. vii. c. 4.
Lib. i. See Pitts, p. 122. Bale, X. 21. a L. ix. c. 12.
Usser. Primord. p. 17. This subject Pitts mentions an anonymous writer could not have been treated by so early under the name of EREMITA BRITANNUS, a writer. [“Why so,” says Mr. Ashby, who studied history and astronomy, and “if Arthur reigned in 506 ?”-Park.] flourished about the year 720. He wrote, See infr. Sect. iii. p. 111. xii. besides, a book in an unknown language, p. 182, 183. I will here produce, from entitled, Sanctum Graal, De Rege Ar- that learned orientalist M. D'Herbelot, thuro et rebus gestis ejus. Lib. i. De some curious traits of Arabian knightMensa rotunda et STRENUIS EQUITIBUS. errantry, which the reader may apply to
answer for the innovations of a translator in such a description. The burial of Hengist, the Saxon chief, who is said to have been interred not after the pagan fashion, as Geoffrey renders the words of the original, but after the manner of the SOLDANS, is partly an argument that our romance was composed about the time of the crusades. It was not till those memorable campaigns of mistaken devotion had infatuated the western world, that the soldans or sultans of Babylon, of Egypt, of Iconium, and other eastern kingdoms, became familiar in Europe. Not that the notion of this piece being written so late as the crusades in the least invalidates the doctrine delivered in this dis
Not even if we suppose that Geoffrey of Monmouth was its original composer. That notion rather tends to confirm and establish my system. On the whole we may venture to affirm, that this chronicle, supposed to contain the ideas of the Welsh bards, entirely consists of Arabian inventions. And in this view, no difference is made whether it was compiled about the tenth century, at which time, if not before, the Arabians from their settlement in Spain must have communicated their romantic fables to other parts of Europe, especially to the French; or whether it first appeared in the eleventh century, after the crusades had multiplied these fables to an excessive degree, and made them universally popular. And although the general cast of the inventions contained in this romance is alone sufficient to point out the source from whence they were derived, yet I chuse to prove to a demonstration what is here advanced, by producing and examining some particular passages.
The books of the Arabians and Persians abound with extravagant traditions about the giants Gog and Magog. These the principles of this Dissertation as he lous feats of arms are reported: that his pleases.
life was written in a large volume, “mais “ BATTHALL. -Une homme hardi et qu'elle est toute remplie d'exaggerations vaillant, qui cherche des avantures tels et de menteries.” Bibi. Oriental. p. 193. qu'etoient les chevaliers errans de nos a. b. In the royal library at Paris, there anciens Romans.” He adds, that Batt. is an Arabian book entitled, “ Scirat al hall, an Arabian, who lived about the Mogiah-edir,” i. e. “The Lives of the year of Christ 740, was a warrior of this most valiant Champions." Num. 1079. class, concerning whom ma marvel