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He loved peace at his might; [The interview of Vortigern with Rowen, the beautiful

Peaceable men he held to right.
Daughter of Hengist.]

His lond Britain he yodel throughout,
Hengist that day did his might,

And ilk country beheld about, That all were glad, king and knight.

Beheld the woods, water, and fen, And as they were best in glading,

No passage was maked for men, And well cup-shotten, knight and kids,

No high street through countrie Of chamber Rowenen so gent,

Ne to borough ne city. Before the king in hall she went.

Through muris, hills, and vallies, A cup with wine she had in hand,

He made brigs and causeways, And her attire was well farand.

High street for common passage, Before the king on knee set,

Brigs o'er waters did he stage. And in her language she him gret3

The first he made he called it Fosse ; • Laverdi king, wassail !' said she.

Throughout the land it goes to Scoss. The king asked, What should be.

It begins at Tottenness, On that language the king ne couth 5

And ends unto Catheness. A knight her language lerid in youth,

Another street ordained he, Bregh hight that knight, born Breton,

And goes to Wales to Saint Davy. That lerid the language of Saxon.

Two causeways o'er the lond o-bread, This Bregh was the latimer,

That men o'er-thort in passage yede. What she said told Vortiger.

When they were made as he chese, Sir,' Bregh said, ' Rowen you greets,

He commanded till all have peace ; And king calls and lord you leets.7

All should have peace and freedame, This is their custom and their gest,

That in his streets yede or came. When they are at the ale or feast,

And if were any of his Ilk man that loves where him think,

That fordid3 his franchise, Shall say, Wassail ! and to him drink.

Forfeited should be all his thing,
He that bids shall say, Wassail !

His body taken to the king.
The tother shall say again, Drinkhail !
That says Wassail drinks of the cup,

[Praise of Good Women.] Kissing his fellow he gives it up.

(From the Handling of Sins.) Drinkhail he says, and drinks thereof, Kissing him in bourd and skof.'

Nothing is to man so dear The king said, as the knight gan ken,

As woman's love in good manner. • Drinkhail, smiling on Rowenen.

A good woman is man's bliss, Rowen drank as her list,9

Where her love right and stedfast is.

There is no solace under heaven,
And gave the king, syne him kissed.

Of all that a man may neven, 4
There was the first wassail in dede,
And that first of fame gaed.10

That should a man so much glew,5
Of that wassail men told great tale,

As a good woman that loveth true : And wassail when they were at ale,

Ne dearer is none in God's hurd, 6
And drinkhail to them that drank,

Than a chaste woman with lovely wurd.
Thus was wassail ta’en to thank.
Fell sithegll that maiden ying

ENGLISH METRICAL ROMANCES.
Wassailed and kissed the king.

HE rise of Romantic FicOf body she was right avenant,

tion in Europe has been Of fair colour with sweet semblant.

traced to the most opposite Her attire full well it seemed,

quarters; namely, to the Mervelik the king she queemed.12

Arabians and to the ScanOf our measure was he glad,

dinavians. It has also For of that maiden he wax all mad.

been disputed, whether a Drunkenness the fiend wrought,

politer kind of poetical Of that paen 13 was all his thought.

literature was first cultiA mischance that time him led,

vated in Normandy or in He asked that paen for to wed.

Provence. Without enterHengist would not draw o lite,

ing into these perplexBot granted him all so tite. And Hors his brother consented soon.

ing questions, it may be

enough to state, that romantic fiction appears to Her friends said, it were to done. They asked the king to give her Kent,

have been cultivated from the eleventh century In dowery to take of rent.

downwards, both by the troubadours of Provence Upon that maiden his heart was cast ;

and by the Norman poets, of whom some account That they asked the king made fast.

has already been given. As also already hinted, I ween the king took her that day,

a class of persons had arisen, named Joculators, And wedded her on paen's lay.14

Jongleurs, or Minstrels, whose business it was to

wander about from one mansion to another, recit[Pabulous Account of the first Highways in England.] ing either their own compositions, or those of other

persons, with the accompaniment of the harp. The Belin well held his honour,

histories and chronicles, already spoken of, parAnd wisely was good governor.

took largely of the character of these romantic

tales, and were hawked about in the same manner. 1 Well advanced in convivialities.

Brutus, the supposed son of Æneas of Troy, and • Of good appearance. This phrase is still used in Scotland. who is described in those histories as the founder 8 Greeted. 4 Lord. 5 Had no knowledge.

of the English state, was as much a hero of romance Interpreter.

8 Taught him. • As pleased her.

10 Went.
11 Many times.

i Went. 2 Breadthways. 8 Broke, destroyed.
Pleased.
14 According to Pagan law.
4 Know. 6 Delight.

Family.

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7 Esteems.

13 Pagan.

*

Dome.

rear ;

Ac the Christians cried all on God, and good earnest [T'he Siege of Antioch.]

nome, Tho wend forth this company, with mony a noble And, thorough the grace of Jesus Christ, the Paynims man,

they overcome, And won Tars with strength, and syth Toxan. And slew to ground here and there, and the other flew And to yrene brig froin thannend they wend,

anon, And our lord at last to Antioch them send,

So that at a narrow brig there adrent) mony one. That in the beginning of the lond of Syrie is.

twelve princes there were dead, Anon, upon St Lucus' day, hither they come, i wiss, That me cleped amirals, a fair case it was one And besieged the city, and assailed fast,

The Christians had of them of armour great won, And they within again' them stalwartly cast. Of gold and of silver eke, and thereafter they nome So that after Christmas the Saracens rede nome,2 The headen of the hext masters, and to Antioch come, And the folk of Jerusalem and of Damas come, And laid them in engines, and into the city them cast : Of Aleph, and of other londs, mid great power enow, Tho they within i-see this, sore were they aghast ; And to succoury Antioch fast hitherward drew. That their masters were aslaw, they 'gun dread sore, So that the Earl of Flanders and Beaumond at last And held it little worth the town to wardy more. Mid twenty thousand of men again them wend fast, A master that was within, send to the Earl Beaumond, And smite an battle with them, and the shrewen3 To yielden up his ward, and ben whole and sound. overcome ;

Ere his fellows were aware, he yeld him up there And the Christian wend again, mid the prey that they The towers of the city that in his ward were.

Tho Beaumond therein was, his banner anon he let In the month of Feverer the Saracens eftsoon Yarked them a great host (as they were y-wont to Tho the Saracens it i-see, they were some deal in fear, done),

And held them all overcome. The Christians anon And went toward Antioch, to help their kind blood, come, The company of Christian men this well understood. And this town up this luther? men as for nought nome, To besiege this castle their footmen they lete, And slew all that they found, but which so might flee, And the knights wend forth, the Saracens to meet; And astored them of their treasure, as me might i-see. l-armed and a-horse well, and in sixty party,4 Thus was the thrid day of June Antioch i-nome, Ere they went too far, they dealt their company. And, as all in thilk side, the Saracens overcome.

Of the first Robert Curthose they chose to chiefentain, '; And of the other the noble Duke Humphrey of Al

[Description of Robert Curthose.] main ;

He was William's son bastard, as I have i-said ere Of the thrid the good Raymond; the ferth the good man i-lome,3 The Earl of Flanders they betook; and the fifth than And well i-wox* ere his father to Englond come. They betook the bishop of Pody; and the sixth, tho Thick man he was enow, but he nas well long, The good Tancred and Beaumond, tho ner there namo.5 Quarrys he was and well i-made for to be strong. These twae had the maist host, that as standard was Therefore his father in a time i see his sturdy dced,6 there,

The while he was young, and byhuld, and these words For to help their fellows, whan they were were..

said, This Christian and this Saracens to-gather them soon. By the uprising of God, Robelin, me shall i-see, met,

Curthøse my young son stalward knight shall be And as stalwart men to-gather fast set,

For he was some deal short, he cleped him Curthose, And slew to ground here and there, ac the heathen side And he ne might never eft afterward thilk name lose. Wax ever wersh7 and wersh of folk that come wide. Other lack had he nought, but he was not well long; So that this Christianmen were all ground ney. He was quaint of counsel and of speech, and of body Tho Beaumond with his host this great sorrow y-sey, strong. He and Tancred and their men, that all wersh were, Never yet man ne might, in Christendom, ne in Pay. Smite forth as poble men into the battle there,

nim, And stirred them so nobly, that joy it was to see ; In battle him bring adown of his horse none tiine. So that their fellows that were in point to flee, Nome to them good heart, and fought fast enow. In the list of Rhyming Chroniclers, Robert of Robert first Curthose his good swerd adrew,

Gloucester is succeeded by ROBERT MANNING, a GilAnd smote ane up the helm, and such a stroke him gave, bertine canon in the monastery of Brunne or Bourne, That the skull, and teeth, and the neck, and the in Lincolnshire (therefore usually called Robert de shouldren he to-clave.

Brunne), who flourished in the latter part of the The Duke Godfrey all so good on the shouldren smote reign of Edward I., and throughout that of Edward one,

II. He translated, under the name of a Handling of And forclave him all that body to the saddle anon. Sins, a French book, entitled Manuel des Pêches, the The one half fell adown anon, the other beleved still

composition of William de Wadington, in which In the saddle, theigh it wonder were, as it was God's will ; the seven deadly sins are illustrated by legendary This horse bear forth this half man among his fellows stories. He afterwards translated a French chro

nicle of England, which had been written by Peter And they, for the wonder case, in dread fell anon. de Langtoft, a contemporary of his own, and an What for dread thereof, and for strength of their fon, Augustine canon of Bridlington in Yorkshire. ManMore joy than there was, nas never i-see none. ning has been characterised as an industrious, and, In beginning of Lent this battle was y-do,

for the time, an elegant writer, possessing, in parAnd yet soon thereafter another there come also.

ticular, a great command of rhymes. The verse For the Saracens in Paynim yarked folk enow, adopted in his chronicle is shorter than that of the And that folk, tho it gare was,9 to Antioch drew.

Gloucester monk, making an approach to the octoTho the Christians it underget, again they wend fast, syllabic stanza of modern times. The following is So that they met them, and smit an battle at last.

one of the most spirited passages, in reduced spell

ing: 1 Thence. 9 Took counsel. 8 Shrews, cursed men. * Six parties. 5 Then were there no more.

1 Were drowned. 2 Wicked. 8 Frequently before 7 Fresh.

S Poes.
9 So soon as they were prepared.

4 Grown.
6 Square.
6 Seeing his sturdy doing.

each one,

6 Weary.

He loved peace at his might; [The interview of Vortigern with Rowen, the beautiful

Peaceable men he held to right.
Daughter of Hengist.]

His lond Britain he yodel throughout,
Hengist that day did his might,

And ilk country beheld about,
That all were glad, king and knight.

Beheld the woods, water, and fen,
And as they were best in glading,

No passage was maked for men,
And well cup-shotten, knight and kiis,

No high street through countrie
Of chamber Rowenen so gent,

Ne to borough ne city.
Before the king in hall she went.

Through muris, hills, and vallies,
A cup with wine she had in hand,

He made brigs and causeways,
And her attire was well farand.?

High street for common passage,
Before the king on knee set,

Brigs o'er waters did he stage.
And in her language she him gret3

The first he made he called it Fosse ;
• Laverdu king, wassail !' said she.

Throughout the land it goes to Scogs.
The king asked, What should be.

It begins at Tottenness,
On that language the king ne couth 5

And ends unto Catheness.
A knight her language lerid in youth,

Another street ordained he,
Bregh hight that knight, born Breton,

And goes to Wales to Saint Davy.
That lerid the language of Saxon.

Two causeways o'er the lond o-bread,
This Bregh was the latimer,

That men o'er-thort in passage yede.
What she said told Vortiger.

When they were made as he chese,
Sir,' Bregh said, “ Rowen you greets,

He commanded till all have peace ;
And king calls and lord you leets.7

All should have peace and freedame,
This is their custom and their gest,

That in his streets yede or came.
When they are at the ale or feast,

And if were any of his
Ilk man that loves where him think,

That fordid3 his franchise,
Shall say, Wassaill and to him drink.

Forfeited should be all his thing,
He that bids shall say, Wassail !

His body taken to the king.
The tother shall say again, Drinkhail !
That says Wassail drinks of the cup,

[Praise of Good Women.]
Kissing his fellow he gives it up.

(From the Handling of Sins)
Drinkhail he says, and drinks thereof,
Kissing him in bourd and skof.'

Nothing is to man so dear
The king said, as the knight gan ken,

As woman's love in good manner.
Drinkhail,' smiling on Rowenen.

A good woman is man's bliss,
Rowen drank as her list, 9

Where her love right and stedfast is.

There is no solace under heaven,
And gave the king, syne him kissed.
There was the first wassail in dede,

Of all that a man may neven,
And that first of fame gaed.10

That should a man so much glew,5
Of that wassail men told great tale,

As a good woman that loveth true :
And wassail when they were at ale,

Ne dearer is none in God's hurd,6
And drinkhail to them that drank,

Than a chaste woman with lovely wurd.
Thus was wassail ta'en to thank.

ENGLISH METRICAL ROMANCES.
Fell sithegl) that maiden ying
Wassailed and kissed the king.

HE rise of Romantic Fic-
Of body she was right avenant,

tion in Europe has been Of fair colour with sweet semblant.

traced to the most opposite Her attire full well it seemed, Mervelik the king she queemed. 12

quarters ; namely, to the

Arabians and to the ScanOf our measure was he glad,

dinavians. It has also For of that maiden he wax all mad.

been disputed, whether a Drunkenness the fiend wrought,

politer kind of poetical Of that paen was all his thought.

literature was first cultiA mischance that time him led,

vated in Normandy or in He asked that paen for to wed.

Provence. Without enterHengist would not draw o lite,

ing into these perplexBot granted him all so tite.

ing questions, it may be And Hors his brother consented soon.

enough to state, that romantic fiction appears to Her friends said, it were to done.

have been cultivated from the eleventh century They asked the king to give her Kent, In dowery to take of rent.

downwards, both by the troubadours of Provence Upon that maiden his heart was cast ;

and by the Norman poets, of whom some account That they asked the king made fast.

has already been given. As also already hinted, I ween the king took her that day,

a class of persons had arisen, named Joculators, And wedded her on paen's lay.14

Jongleurs, or Minstrels, whose business it was to

wander about from one mansion to another, recit[Pabulous Account of the first Highways in England.] ing either their own compositions, or those of other

persons, with the accompaniment of the harp. The Belin well held his honour,

histories and chronicles, already spoken of, parAnd wisely was good governor.

took largely of the character of these romantic

tales, and were hawked about in the same manner. 1 Well advanced in convivialities.

Brutus, the supposed son of Æneas of Troy, and S of good appearance. This phrase is sti used in Scotland. who is described in those histories as the founder 8 Greeted. 4 Lord. 5 Had no knowledge.

of the English state, was as much a hero of romance . Interpreter.

8 Taught him. • As pleased her.

10 Went.
11 Many times.

1 Went. 2 Breadthways. 8 Broke, destroyed. . Pleased. 14 According to Pagan law. 4 Know. 6 Delight.

6 Family.

[graphic]

13

7 Esteems.

18 Pagan.

Tho

as of history. Even where a really historical person

[Extract from the King of Tars.] was adopted as a subject, such as Rollo of Normandy, or Charlemagne, his life was so amplified with ro

[The Soudan of Damascus, having asked the daughter of the mantic adventure, that it became properly a work king of Tarsus in marriage, receives a refusal. The extract of fiction. This, it must be remembered, was an age intelligence, and some of the subsequent transactions,

describes his conduct on the return of the messengers with this remarkable for a fantastic military spirit: it was the language of this romance greatly resembles that of Robert of age of chivalry and of the crusades, when men saw

Gloucester, and it may therefore be safely referred to the be such deeds of heroism and self-devotion daily per- ginning of the fourteenth century.] formed before their eyes, that nothing which could be imagined of the past was too extravagant to ap

The Soudan sat at his dess,

Y-served of the first mess ; pear destitute of the feasibility demanded in fiction. As might be expected from the ignorance of the age,

They comen into the hall

To-fore the prince proud in press, no attempt was made to surround the heroes with the circumstances proper to their time or country.

Their tale they tolden withouten lees,

And on their knees 'gan fall; Alexander the Great, Arthur, and Roland, were all

alike depicted as knights of the time of the poet And said, 'Sire, the king of Tars l' himself. The basis of many of these metrical tales

Of wicked words is not scarce, is supposed to have been certain collections of stories

Heathen hound he doth thee call; and histories compiled by the monks of the middle And ere his daughter he give thee till ages. “Materials for the superstructure were readily

Thine heart-blood he will spill, found in an age when anecdotes and apologues were

And thy barons all !! thought very necessary even to discourses from the

When the Soudan this y-heard, pulpit, and when all the fables that could be gleaned As a wood2 man he fared, 3 from ancient writings, or from the relations of tra

His robe he rent adown ; vellers, were collected into story books, and preserved He tare the hair of head and beard, by the learned for that purpose.'*

And said he would her win with swerd, It was not till the English language had risen into

By his lord St Mahoun. some consideration, that it became a vehicle for ro

The table adown right he smote, mantic metrical tales. One composition of the kind,

Into the floor foot hot,4 entitled Sir Tristrem, published by Sir Walter Scott

He looked as a wild lion. in 1804, was believed by him, upon what he thought

All that he hit he smote downright, tolerable evidence, to be the composition of Thomas

Both sergeant and knight, of Ercildoun, identical with a person noted in Scot

Earl and eke baron. tish tradition under the appellation of Thomas the Rhymer, who lived at Earlston in Berwickshire, and

So he fared forsooth aplight, died shortly before 1299. If this had been the case, All a day and all a night, Sir Tristrem must have been considered a produc

That no man might him chast :3 tion of the middle or latter part of the thirteenth A-morron, when it was daylight, century. But the soundness of Sir Walter's theory He sent his messengers is now generally denied. Another English romance,

After his barons in haste, the Life of Alexander the Great, was attributed by That they comen to his parliament, Mr Warton to Adam Davie, marshall of Stratford For to hearen his judgment, le-Bow, who lived about 1312; but this, also, has

Both least and maist.6 been controverted. One only, King Horn, can be When the parliament was playner, assigned with certainty to the latter part of the Thus bespake the Soudan fier,7 thirteenth century. ' Mr Warton has placed some

And said to 'em in haste : others under that period, but by conjecture alone ; and in fact dates and the names of authors are alike

• Lordings,' he said, ' what to rede ?8

Me is done a great misdeed, wanting at the beginning of the history of this class

Of Tars the Christian king; of compositions. As far as probability goes, the

I bade him both lond and lede, reign of Edward II. (1307-27) may be set down as

To have his doughter in worthy weed, the era of the earlier English metrical romances, or

And spouse her with my ring. rather of the earlier English versions of such works from the French, for they were, almost without ex And he said, withouten fail, ception, of that nature.

Erst he would me slay in batail, Sir Guy, the Squire of Low Degree, Sir Degore,

And mony a great lording. King Robert of Sicily, the King of Tars, Impomedon,

Ac certes10 he shall be forswore, and La Mort Artur, are the names of some from

Or to wroth-hail that he was bore,11 which Mr Warton gives copious extracts. Others,

But he it thereto bring. probably of later date, or which at least were long Therefore, lordings, I have after you sent, after popular, are entitled Sir Thopas, Sir Isenbras, For to come to my parliament, Gaxan and Gologras, and Sir Bevis. In an Essay

To wit of you counsail.' on the Ancient Metrical Romances, in the second And all answered with good intent, volume of Dr Percy's Reliques of Ancient English They would be at his commandement Poetry, the names of many more, with an account

Withouten any fail. of some of them, and a prose abstract of one en: titled Sir Libius, are given. Mr Ellis has also, in

And when they were all at his hest,12

The Soudan made a well-great feast, his Metrical Romances, given prose abstracts of

For love of his batail. many, with some of the more agreeable passages. The metrical romances flourished till the close of the

1 High seat at table.

& Mad.

8 Becamo. fifteenth century, and their spirit affected English

• Did hit. He struck the floor with his foot. literature till a still later period. Many of the bal 6 Chasten or check. & Both little and great. lads handed down amongst the common people are 7 Proud.

8 What do you advise.

9 Pinsta supposed to have been derived from them.

10 But assuredly. 11 It shall be ill-fortune to him that he * Ellis.

was born.
11 Order.

full right,

A full comely creature, truth she hight,
For the virtue that her followed afеard was she never.
When these maidens mette, Mercy and Truth,
Either axed other of this great wonder,
Of the din and of the darkness, &c.

(Covetousness is thus personified.]
And then came Covetise, can I him not descrive,
So hungrily and hollow Sir Hervey him looked ;
He was beetle-browed, and babberlipped also,
With two bleared een as a blind hag,
And as a leathern purse lolled his cheeks,
Well syder than his chin, they shriveled for eld:
And as a bondman of his bacon his beard was be-

drivelled, 2
With an hood on his head and a lousy hat above.
And in a tawny tabard of twelve winter age,
Al so-torn and baudy, and full of lice creeping ;
But if that a louse could have loupen the better,
She should not have walked on the welt, it was so

threadbare.

tractions which followed, and the paucity of any striking poetical genius for at least a century and a half after his death, too truly exemplify the fine simile of Warton, that Chaucer was like a genial day in an English spring, when a brilliant sun enlivens the face of nature with unusual warmth and lustre, but is succeeded by the redoubled horrors of winter, and those tender buds and early blossoms which were called forth by the transient gleam of a temporary sunshine, are nipped by frosts and torn by tempests.'

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[The existing condition of the religious orders is delineated in the following allegorical fashion. It might be supposed that the final lines, in which the Reformation is predicted, was an interpolation after that event; but this has been ascertained not to have been the case.] Ac now is Religion a rider, a roamer about, A leader of lovedays,3 and a lond-buyer, A pricker on a palfrey from manor to manor. An heap of hounds [behind him) as he a lord were: And but if his knavet kneel that shall his cope bring, He loured on him, and asketh him who taught him

courtesy ? Little had lords to done to give lond from her heirs To religious, that have no ruth though it rain on her

altars. In many places there they be parsons by hemself at

ease ;
Of the poor have they no pity: and that is her charity!

Chaucer.
And they letten hem as lords, her lands lie so broad.
Ac there shall come a King and confess you, Religious,

Chaucer was a man of the world as well as a And beat you, as the Bible telleth, for breaking of student; a soldier and courtier, employed in public your rule,

affairs of delicacy and importance, and equally acAnd amend monials,5 monks, and canons,

quainted with the splendour of the warlike and And put hem to her penance

magnificent reign of Edward III., and with the

bitter reverses of fortune which accompanied the And then shall the Abbot of Abingdon, and all his subsequent troubles and convulsions. He had parissue for ever

taken freely in all ; and was peculiarly qualified to Have a knock of a King, and incurable the wound.

excel in that department of literature which alone can be universally popular, the portraiture of real life and genuine emotion. His genius was not, in

deed, fully developed till he was advanced in years. With these imperfect models as his only native His early pieces have much of the frigid conceit and guides, arose our first great author, GEOFFREY pedantry of his age, when the passion of love was CHAUCER, distinctively known as the Father of erected into a sort of court, governed by statutes, English poetry. Though our language had risen into and a system of chivalrous mythology (such as the importance with the rise of the Commons in the time poetical worship of the rose and the daisy) supplanted of Edward I., the French long kept possession of the the stateliness of the old romance. In time he threw court and higher circles, and it required a genius off these conceitslike that of Chaucer-familiar with different modes of life both at home and abroad, and openly patron. When about sixty, in the calm evening of a busy

He stoop'a to truth, and moralised his song. ised by his sovereign-to give literary permanence and consistency to the language and poetry of Eng- life, he composed his Canterbury Tales, simple and land. Henceforward his native style, which Spenser varied as nature itself

, imbued with the results terms the pure well of English undefiled, formed of extensive experience and close observation, and a standard of composition, though the national dis- coloured with the genial lights of a happy tempera

ment, that had looked on the world without austerity,

and passed through its changing scenes without los1 Hanging wider than his chin. 2 As the mouth of a bondman or rural labourer is with the ing the freshness and vivacity of youthful

feeling bacon he eats, so was his beard beslabbered—an image still and imagination. The poet tells us himself (in his familiar in England.

Testament of Love) that he was born in London, and 3 Loveday is a day appointed for the amicable settlement of the year 1328 is assigned, by the only authority we differences.

possess on the subject, namely, the inscription on A male servant

his tomb, as the date of his birth. One of his poems

GEOFFREY CHAUCER.

6 Nuns.

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