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certain to follow when the scribe wrote to dictation, and we find many verbs with both forms, as passid (11820), past (11640); oberjede (135), obeit (505); sailed (1070), sailet (2842). Strong verbs commonly take en, on, yn, in the plural, but many of them appear both with and without termination, and some have all the varieties of it, and assume different forms, as tokyn (11431), toke (11461); soughton (1376), soght (1623); fleddon (5995), fled (5951); foghten (10028), foghton (6741), foghtyn (7785), foght (6859), faght (5410); cacched (4520), cuchit (4674), cachyn (1077), caght (5900), caghton (11449) ; lachet (5729), lacchen (6192), lawghten (6162); fled (5951), fleddon (5995), flagh (6850), flowen (10077); swere (11447), sweire (11381), sware (11834), sweryn (11837). As a specimen of the peculiar preterites that occur in this work take the following: tide (81), tyd (2864), tid (1202); geve (6822), gaf (6800); come (11328), cam (7292); segh (7436), se (1317); soght (1623), saght (7670); walt (5888), welt (4418); raght = seized (3883), raght = wrought (1533); taght = taught (6117), light =
; alighted (11802), bere = bore (11803), gird (7471), send (7539), dang (7740), roofe = rived (1234), lep (8646), share (1233), wan = got (6523), wan = won (315), rut (6977), raft = reft (7788), smult (911), brast (865), spake (7479), bult (7476), frunt (6984), nolpit (7475), bond (7527), het = heated (2054), hit = hied (13492).
The present participles end in and, aund, ond, ound, ing, yng, and very rarely in end, as, spekand, prayaund, lemond, blasound, lokend, weping, wailyng; and sometimes the same verb takes both the nd and the ng termination, as, lemond (459), lemyng (599). The past participles of weak verbs end in d, ed, id, or t, et, it, yt, but the t forms are the most frequent, as kild (9752), kept (164), enarmed (87), callid (157), namet (104), arayit (231), anoisyt (220); and many."
-verbs have both the d and the t termination, as cald (152), calt (5204); kild (9752), kilt (1343); and there is a strong tendency to contraction (which, by the way, is not confined to the participial terminations, but is common to all), as callid (157), cald (152); keppit (161), kept (164). Of strong verbs the termination is n or en, varying into ne, on, yn, as gon (11714), tane (1010), taken (464),
takon (11828), takyn (7427); and many verbs of this class have no termination in the past part., as set (279), put (305), light = lighted (11792), fest (11795).
But the most important forms are those of the Imperative, which in the sing. and plu. generally end in 8, or es varying into is and ys, as bes (649), suffers (2641), loues (4605), notes (2630), voidis (527), helys (2623); but often there is no termination at all, as leve = believe (239), deme (528); and sometimes the same verb takes both forms, as bes (6265), be (6270); wete (1893), wetis (2786); let (2239), lettis (2237): indeed, in almost every speech we find the Imperative both with and without termination, and in 11. 2630—66 all the varieties of form are found. In this section of the verb too there is the samie tendency to contraction and to drop the terminations, which we have before noted in the other sections, and which is apparent in all the inflected parts of speech, and especially in words that are frequently used.
Of the anomalous verbs may be noted the forms bes (occurring in speech and dialogue, elsewhere the usual forms of to be are generally employed), gar, ger, with prets. gart, gert; ha, han, has, hase ; ma, mas, mase ; ta, tas, tase, tan, tane; mun, mon, mut; bus, bud; ges = gives; gaid = went; aght = owed ; aght possessed, owned ; thar, thurt = need be.
Regarding the prepositions the following peculiarities may be noted: the almost constant use of for with the Infinitive, as for to telle, for to here; and with the verbal sb., as for lernyng of vs, for likyng to here, where it has the force of for the purpose of, to be fit for: for is also used in the sense of in spite of, as for all po Tapes (890), for wepyn or other (6439), and in this sense it is still used : till = to (131, 11249, 11786), of = through, by (6410), þurgh =
) through, þurght = throughout, again and again through, at = to, at, by (6096), out by (9300) : and often the preposition is omitted after the object of a verb, as in l. 6838, refe hym his fos.
From the foregoing analysis we find that the elements of this work are Northern and West Midland; but their combination is not so regular and constant as to permit the idea that we have here an example of a mixed dialect, but rather a mixture of dialects. In
those portions of the work that are in the copying style, and in the portions that are written more carefully, there are fewer West Midland peculiarities, and more decided marks of Northern origin; and in those passages that seem to have been written to dictation, it is in Northern words and forms that we find the most evident mistakes, and the most peculiar spelling.
It is in such passages only that he has spoiled the alliteration by the use of wh, as has been already stated; and in every case it is set right by using qw or qul. Besides, many words and phrases occur throughout the work, that are peculiarly Northern ; and there are references to various subjects that only a native of the North would make, and one who was intimately acquainted with the Northern metropolis; and very many of our author's favourite forms and phrases are still common in the Lowlands of Scotland. Hence, we conclude that the work was originally in the Northumbrian dialect, and that its present West Midland peculiarities were got in transcription.
Another line of proof leads us to the same result: the work is undoubtedly by the same hand as the Morte Arthur, which certainly is of Northern origin. When making the transcript of the MS. for our society, I recognized many of the peculiar words and phrases that I had noted in the Morte Arthur only a few months before; and, when preparing the work for the press, the points of resemblance were so many and so striking, that I resolved to make a careful comparison of the two works. In this I was much encouraged by the opinion of the Rev. W. W. Skeat, who detected the resemblance in some of the first sheets that were sent to him, and pointed out some interesting particulars connected with the alliteration that greatly assisted me in working out the proofs of the identity of authorship.1 As these are given very fully in the notes at the end of the work, they need not be stated here : suffice it to say that the result of the comparison of the two works not only established the point that they were written by the same author, but that the present work must have been the earlier of the two. The diction, the alliteration, modes of thought and expression, pictures of battle and of the seasons, all contributed proofs to that effect; and not the least interesting particular of the comparison is the marked superiority and finish of the pictures of the Morte Arthur over the similar ones in the Destruction of Troy.
| Mr Skeat was the first who observed a whole line common to both poems.
Who then was the author? Neither of the works gives us the slightest hint; but we should have known at least his name if the MS. of the present work had fulfilled the promise of its Index, or rather, if the MS. from which the existing one was taken had not been defective near the end : and strange that it was defective just at the place where the story ends “ with the nome of the knight that causet it to be made, and the nome of hym that translatid it out of latyn in to englysshe." Every reader of our old literature has mourned over the meagreness or nothingness of particulars regarding the old poets : in many instances, as here, not even the name has come down to us. Yet in how many cases besides this one, may that not have turned upon the loss of a leaf,—even a portion of a leaf of a MS.? And yet the one who wrote the Morte Arthur must have been a poet well known among his fellows; and the one who translated the story of the Fall of Troy from Latin into English must have been famous as a scholar and a poet; but the one who did both, and could picture life in court and camp, in peace and war,
, in the streets of the capital, and on board ship in a storm at sea, as he has done, must have been at once a poet, a scholar, and a nobleman famous all over the island : yet even his name has been almost lost. We say almost : for, fortunately, he wrote some other works which have been preserved to us, and regarding which we have a passing record by a brother poet who must have been contemporary with him. In 'The Orygynale Cronykil of Scotland,' Bk v. ch. xii, Wyntown mentions a poet-Huchowne of the Awle Ryale, who wrote 'The Awntyr of Gawane,' and 'The Pystyll of Swete Susane,' and who was "curyws in hys style" and "cunnand in literature." Now, in Golagros & Gawane,' and Susanna & the Elders,' we no doubt have the poems referred to, and these, with The Awntyrs of Arthure' (which ought to be rather “The Awntyrs of Gawane ') are a set of poems of the same age, by the same hand, and from internal
evidence originally in the same dialect, although the ‘Pystyll,' like our Destruction of Troy,' has been rendered by a West Midland scribe. Wyntown tells us also that the same author “made the gret Gest off Arthure," and gives some particulars regarding the work which enable us to identify it in the 'Morte Arthure,' as has been conclusively done by Sir Frederic Madden in his volume Sir Gawane.' And not only is the 'Morte Arthure' by the same author, as internal evidence clearly shews; but the particular upon which Wyntown dwells in asserting the "suthfastnes" of the author, forms a strong proof that this 'Destruction of Troy' came from the same hand. In his plea for his brother poet, Wyntown justifies him for calling a great military leader an emperour; for,
“ Ane empyroure in propyrté
A comawndoure suld callyd be,” and emperour is the title by which our author calls Agamemnon as leader of the Greeks; and when Palamedes was chosen to succeed him in command, the Greeks “ordant hym Emperour by oppyn assent.” And this is but one of the many proofs which might be adduced to the same effect, and which the reader will find in our Notes at the end of the work. In both poems we find the same peculiar words and phrases, the same peculiarities of thought, the same favourite subjects, and the same methods of viewing and representing them : even the differences of thought and expression are such as could be presented only by the same mind in different moods. But beyond the name we know almost nothing of our author. His works shew him to have been all that Wyntown claimed for him as a scholar and a poet: his pictures of the seasons and of scenery testify that he had travelled much and observed keenly: and his representations of life and manners, especially in the court and the camp, together with his intimate knowledge of localities and familiar use of peculiar local names, suggest that he was probably a nobleman connected with the Scottish court in the latter half of the 14th century.
The work is now brought to a close with deep feelings of gratitude and regret :-regret for the many imperfections that mar it, for the many hindrances and delays that have befallen it, and chiefly