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The passage in the Stately Poem has evidently been the text from which Lydgate has amplified the portion above, every word almost of the four lines having been copied, enlarged upon, and cleverly set, or couched, in this piece of poetical mosaic. As we have examined and compared scores of such passages, we have most earnestly wished that we had Lydgate's Troy Book and other similar works in a more accessible form than the MSS. of our public libraries, or blackletter reprints of the 16th century—a wish that we hope we may live to see yet realized.
There was a method or line of proof which the writer of this thought of and attempted to follow out, in order to show that the author of the Destruction of Troy was a Scotsman, but from which he was deterred by the time that it would have involved, and the space that it would have occupied for its complete and satisfactory prosecution. This was the making out of a pretty full list of those peculiar, idiomatic, Scottish words and phrases, which are still in common use throughout Scotland, and which occur in almost every line and sentence of our poem, and marking how often they occur, and then turning to the Glossaries respectively of Piers Ploughman and Chaucer, and to Stratmann's Dictionary of Old English, to ascertain how often they occurred in known English authors, if they occurred at all, with what meanings they were used, and in what connection. So far as this line of proof was pursued the result was curious. While not a few were found to occur occasionally in one or other of them, some of these words and phrases were conspicuous by their absence from them all. And the farther we went the stronger did the conviction grow, that what was written and especially spoken in Scotland was a language, and no mere dialect or form of that of England, formed or evolved from it, or exclusively derived from the Anglo-Saxon, but an original, independent tongue of itself, already formed and spoken along with, or by the side of, these, if not even before them. This was the idea of George Ellis, Dr Jamieson, and the late Dr Clarke of Aberdeen, and it has been the opinion of many more who have studied the subject; but this is not the place or the occasion to enter upon the question.'
1 We may refer especially on this point to the Introductory remarks of
In the table of contents to the poem, the last entry, which refers to the xxxvj boke, tells us "Of the dethe of Vlixes by his son. Whiche endis in the story wt the nome of the Knight that causit it to be made, & the nome of hym that translatid it out of latyn into englysshe." Had this promise been fulfilled, these names would have rendered unnecessary our lengthened inquiry into the nationality and authorship of the work, and very materially lightened, if not altogether removed, the difficulties that have attended our labours. Such a signature, or colophon, like that which attests the work of Guido, would have been invaluable, not merely as marking the author, or authors, of the Stately Poem, and handing them down to posterity, but as settling one or two other questions which are yet undecided. It might have settled the point whether Sir Hugh of Eglinton and Huchowne of the Awle Ryale were one and the same, or different persons. If they were different persons, it might have told us whether Sir Hugh was a Mecenas at the court of the Stuarts, with whom he was connected by marriage, or an author in his own person as well. We might have learned whether Huchowne of the Awle Ryale was the real name or the nom de plume of the author, or only a half jocular, half endearing sobriquet applied to him by his friends. We might have learned something about the execution of the work. Whether it had been first translated into English prose, like Guido's Bellum Trojanum, and then rendered poetically, or had been at once rendered into alliterative verse. We might have learned something of the literary partnerships of the age, or might have known for certain, what we can only infer or suspect from the inequality of its execution, that more than one were engaged in the work; and especially we might have learned who was the author of those fine, truly poetical portions, which owe little to Guido's Latin, but have very
Mr Ellis in his Specimens of the Early English Poets, vol. i., chap. ix. &c. "Would it be very absurd to suppose that our common language was separately formed in the two countries, and that it has owed its identity to its being constructed of similar materials, by similar gradations, and by nations in the same state of society? If this opinion should be thought very improbable, must we not, at least, admit that the migration of our language from England into Scotland has not yet been fully established, and that much remains for the investigation of future antiquaries?"
much in common with similar passages in the Morte Arthure and other works to which we have so often adverted. All these questions and interesting points, we hope, may some time or other be answered and resolved. The MS. from which the present text has been taken is as yet unique; but in the searches now being made in the libraries and muniment chests of our old families and nobility throughout the country, some other and more complete copy may yet turn up, and other complete copies also of Barbour's version of the Destruction of Troy, of which we possess only the fragments in the MSS. at Oxford and Cambridge.
To Principal Barclay, for his kindness in granting permission to copy the MS., to Professor J. Young, the curator, and to Mr. J. Young, the keeper of the Hunterian Museum, for their obliging courtesy in giving access at all times to the Stately Poem and other MSS. for transcription and collation, the editors offer their best. thanks and grateful acknowledgments. They have also to thank the Rev. Walter W. Skeat, which they most cordially do, for his valuable suggestions and help when the Glossary was passing through the press.
These prefatory remarks were mainly written nearly three years ago. As to the conclusions that the poem was originally Northern or Scottish, and that large portions at least, if not the whole of it, were the work of Huchowne, or the same author that produced the poems ascribed to him, the Committee of the Society are not responsible for them, or in any way committed to them. We were expressly informed that they disagreed with us on both points. Working, however, apart, independently, and upon different grounds, we arrived at the same result; but as we have no theory to serve, and are simply searching after the truth like others, on due cause shown, we shall most readily confess ourselves mistaken.
It but remains to say that it has been the great object of the editors to present the members of the Early English Text Society with as faithful a transcript of the Stately Poem as possible; and no labour, no effort, and no expense have been spared on their part to accomplish this. The completed volume might have appeared much sooner, and the writer personally regrets exceedingly that it
has been so long delayed. He has done what he could do to expedite its appearance, and had the matter depended solely upon him, the long delay would have been obviated, but over the arrangements for its production he had no control. Not to dilate, however, upon this, he rejoices that so important a work has been rescued from the oblivion of the dusty shelves of the old Hunterian Museum, and trusts that other works of no less value may yet see the light through means of the Society.
Dec. 6th, 1872.
G. A. P.
THE MS., DIALECT, AND AUTHORSHIP.
THE MS. of this work is a folio volume written on paper, and consists of 216 leaves with 36 lines on each page. It opens with an apparently full and carefully drawn Index to the Books and Subjects; and they follow as there indicated, and the work ends with the usual Amen. A little examination, however, shows that the work is incomplete; for, fol. 189 b1 contains only 22 lines and a few words of the next then, fol. 190 is blank, and 191 begins with quite a different subject. From this point the story moves on smoothly enough till we reach fol. 201 b, which has only 8 lines, where it stops abruptly in the account of Telegonus' return to his mother after the death of Ulysses: then, fol. 202 is blank, and 203 opens with the words with which 189 closed, and continues the account there interrupted. The story then moves on in clear order till we reach fol. 214, where there are only 13 lines and a few words, that really are the catch-words for fol. 191 a; and the remaining portion of the MS. is certainly the conclusion of the work, but incomplete at the beginning.
Evidently, then, fols. 203-214 ought to be placed after fol. 189; and fols. 191-201 should then follow: 2 in other words, the two sets of fols. should be transposed. When so arranged the story is regular and complete on to the return of Telegonus after his father's
As fol. 180 has been lost, 189 of MS. becomes 190 in the Text.
2 For the reason stated in last note, fols. 203-214 are 191-202 in the Text, and 191-201 are 203-213.
death, where there is a slight gap including the winding up of the story of the Odyssey and the opening of the list of chiefs killed at the siege. But as the MS. stands, not only are different stories mixed up, but the account of the death of Ulysses comes before the story of his wanderings after the siege; and particulars are referred to as already told, which we find recorded some pages farther on. Yet the Books are all properly arranged according to the Index. Now what do these particulars tell us regarding the MS. 1. That it is not the original MS., but a copy of an older one, that had somehow got disarranged into the order in which it now stands; and 2. that the copyist, observing the confusion, but not the cause of it, thought some portions of the story were lost, and, after copying in the catch-words at the bottom of the page, left a blank folio at each place, that the missing portions might be inserted when recovered.
Besides these faults, there are two gaps in the MS.-between fols. 6, 7, and 179, 180: the first, containing the account of the first landing of the Greeks at Troy, and consisting of three or perhaps four leaves, was no doubt a gap in the MS. from which the existing one was copied; and the second consists of one leaf, which has been lost or torn from the set.
The MS. affords further evidences of being a copy from an older one, and gives some information as to how the copyist worked at his task. The writing is in a hand of somewhere about the middle of the 15th century, and in two distinct styles: one (in which the larger portion of the work is written) is the common cursive style of the period, cramp, and often careless, shewing no regularity in spelling and contractions, confusion of the letters t and c, a and o, with a decided preference for the o sound: the other (in which only a few folios and scattered portions are written) is a fine, clear, Saxon, copying style, shewing greater regularity in contractions and spelling, and a more frequent use of the older forms of letters.1 Yet they are
The portions that are written in the copying style are 11. 4203-30, 6101 -32, 6260-328, 6592-664, 6873-941, 6975-7015, Rubric and first 10 lines of Bk XVI., 7415—51, XIX. Boke-7858, 8511-26, 9728-33, 9763-88, 11244-98, 12015 to the middle of 12156, 12167-200, 12234-54, 12617— 27, 12650-98, Rubric and first 22 lines of Bk XXXIV., 13574-634, 13672— 738, 13946-81.