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day, making merry with some friends in the tower of Erceldoune, a person came and told them that a hart and hind, from the neighbouring forest, were slowly parading the street of the village.
Thomas at once left the house and followed the animals back to the forest, whence he was never seen to return. It was also believed that, after he dreed his weird (fulfilled his destiny), he would again revisit the earth.
In none of the prophecies attributed to him is it assumed that he is himself the narrator, and from the manner of his introduction, as "the busteous beirne on the bent" (the huge man on the wild), it might be supposed that his appearance was supernatural, and long after his disappearance as a natural inhabitant of the earth. There are at least three MSS. of about the 15th century giving an account of his abstraction by the Queen of Fairyland; but their language being somewhat obscure, the more modern ballad (Part I.), given in the Minstrelsy of the Border, is more suitable as a popular account of it. Part II., which follows, is a ballad of his principal prophecies.
THOMAS THE RHYMER.
True Thomas lay on Huntlie bank;
Her shirt was o' the grass-green silk,
All underneath the Eildon tree.
'Now, ye maun go wi' me," she said; "True Thomas, ye maun go wi' me; And ye maun serve me seven years,
Thro' weal or woe as may chance to be."
She mounted on her milk-white steed;
She's ta'en true Thomas up behind; And aye, whene'er her bridle rung,
The steed flew swifter than the wind.
O they rade on, and farther on;
The steed gaed swifter than the wind; Until they reach'd a desert wide,
And living land was left behind.
"Light down, light down, now, true Thomas,
And lean your head upon my knee; Abide and rest a little space,
And I will shew you ferlies three.
"O see ye not yon narrow road,
That weird, &c. -That destiny shall never frighten me.
interest in our early romances, which has led to their reinvestigation and study with greater critical exactness and thoroughness than had previously been applied to them. To do more than briefly indicate the chief points of the controversy to which the authorship and the nationality of Sir Tristrem has given rise, would here be out of place.
English monk, a native of Malton, in Yorkshire, who translated into English rhyme the French Chronicle of England, by Peter de Langtoft, a canon of Bridlington, while resident in the Priory of Brunne, and hence called Robert de Brunne, there was nothing to connect Thomas of Erceldoune with the authorship of Sir Tristrem before the discovery of the Auchinleck MS. De Brunne began his Chronicle in 1303, about seven years after the death of Thomas, and may therefore be considered a contemporary, and, from the ecclesiastical intimacy between the
south of Scotland, may be supposed to be well acquainted with Scottish affairs. His reference is as follows :
This now famous romance was discovered in the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh, by Ritson, the well-known antiquarian, and forms part of a vellum manuscript volume presented to the Library in 1744 by a judge of the Court of Session, Alexander Boswell of Auch-churches of the north of England and the inleck, father of James Boswell, Johnson's biographer, and thence called the Auchinleck MS. It contains upwards of forty poems, and fragments of poems, an account of which is given by Scott as an appendix to the introduction to Sir Tristrem. The volume has been much mutilated from the cutting out of the illuminated initials; and the concluding stanzas of Sir Tristrem are lost, but have been supplied, in the published copy, by Scott, after a French romance of the same name, with which it corresponds.
The subject, it is admitted, was a favourite one with the romance writers, and appears to have occupied the pens of the early poets of France, Germany, Denmark, and Iceland, before the time of Thomas; and in 1821 a German professor, in a work on the literature of the Middle Ages, has produced a Greek poem on the Knights of the Round Table, of which Sir Tristrem is a conspicuous member. But for the unsupported evidence of Robert Mannyng, an
"I see in song, in sedgeyng tale
If men it sayd as made Thomas;
There is considerable obscurity about some parts of this, and, consequently, some diversity of opinion as to its exact meaning; but it may be taken as establishing the fact, that the author was acquainted with a romance of Sir Tristrem that was held in higher esteem
than any other known to him; that its author's name was Thomas; and that the minstrels, the reciters of it, were in the habit of repeating it imperfectly, and with omissions, on account of its quaint English. That he heard no man say it as Thomas made it, implies that he must have seen it as made, in writing, or have heard Thomas himself recite it by no means an impossibility, as he became a monk in 1288, eight years before the death of Thomas.
But the principal difficulty lies in the manner in which the names, Erceldoune and Kendale, are coupled. Warton, in referring to the matter, remarks, that they are written as if they were names of romances, and adds, "that of the latter he finds no traces in our ancient literature." The former, he supposes, may refer to Thomas of Erceldoune, or Ashelington, who wrote prophecies like Merlin, and refers to the MS. romance in the library of Lincoln Cathedral, entitled Thomas of Erceldown, the introduction of which is as follows:
"Lystnys, lordyngs, bothe grete and small, And takis gude tente what I will say:
I sall yow telle als trewe a tale,
Als euer was herde by nyghte or daye.
It es an harde thynge for to saye,
Of doghety dedis that hase been done; Of felle feghtyngs and battels sere ;
And of batells that done sall bee;
In what place, and how and whare;
And whethir partye sall hafe the werre.
Ritson also failed to find any trace of Kendale; but Sir Frederick Madden, who ranges himself on the side of those who consider the claims of Thomas of Erceldoune to Sir Tristrem as apocryphal, says, in his notes to Sir Gawayne, &c., Bannatyne Club, 1839, that a passage in the unedited portion of De Brunne shows Kendale's Christian name was also Thomas, and that he wrote a tale about Flayn, the brother of the giant Skardyng, the lord of Scarborough Castle; "a piece of information," he adds, "which I believe to be new to all writers on the subject." It would have been more satisfactory had he given the passage; but since he has withheld it, we may conclude that it does not help his side of the controversy. Instead of stating his belief that Sir Tristrem is not the work of a native of Scotland, it would have been more ingenuous to have given the grounds on which he came to this conclusion. Besides, his great authority is here much weakened by the way in which, in his notes and glossary, he exhibits his animus against Dr Jamieson. Mr Price, the editor of Warton's History of Eng
And how that knyghtis hasse wonne thair lish Poetry, has shown that Scott was
But Ihesu Christ, that sittis in trone,
Of batells done sythen many a yere ;
in error in claiming, unwittingly, for his Thomas a fame on the continent which belongs to Thomas of Brittany; but that does not affect the authorship of the