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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 qwh. 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,
1 Mr Skeat was the first who observed a whole line common to both
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.
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 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
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
that my fellow labourer, the Rev. G. A. Panton, did not live to see it completed and gratitude for the friendships it has been the means of forming, and for the kindnesses those friends have shewn. I thank them heartily, one and all; particularly Mr Furnivall, and especially the Rev. W. W. Skeat, who, in the kindest manner, rendered me much valuable assistance and advice.
July 16th, 1873.
As many of the following corrections consist of the addition of final -e, it may be well to state that, where the contracted form of that letter appears distinctly in the MS., the letter is given in the Text or Errata; and wherever it is doubtful, which it frequently is, the letter has been omitted. ally the liberty has been taken to alter a small letter to a capital at the beginning of a line, and in a proper name.
p. 1, 1. 4, for end read ende p. 1, 1. 11, for mind read mynde p. 2, 1. 28, for stryfe read stryffe p. 2, 1. 34, for fablis read ffablis p. 2, 1. 42, for traiet read turnet p. 2, 1. 48, for Ouyd read Ouyde p. 2, 1. 49, for Virgill read Virgille p. 2, 1. 55, for weghes read weghes p. 3, 1. 57, for assemely read assembly p. 3, 1. 62, for loged read logede p. 3, 1. 63, for tothyr read tother p. 3, 1. 66, for cité read Sité
p. 3, 1. 69, for ouerraght read ouerraght
p. 3, 1. 76, for grace read grace
p. 3, 1. 84, for Dukes read Dukes
p. 5, l. 100, for aperte read aperte
p. 3, 1. 89, for shalkes read shalkes p. 4, 1. 92, for dyntes read dyntes p. 4, 1. 93, for aftur read after p. 4, 1. 94, for shall read shalt p. 4, 1. 96, for þer with read þerwith p. 4, 1. 98, for mater read mater p. 5, title, for exit... Golde read Exit... golde
p. 5, 1. 104, for is read [is]
p. 5, l. 114, for broper read broper
p. 5, 1. 122, for drowpyaite read drowp
p. 5, 1. 123, for Ovid... Eydos read Ovide... Eroydos
p. 6, l. 126, for said read saide
p. 6, 1. 132, for Well read Wele
p. 6, 1. 148, for ware read war
god read enchauntementes... gode
p. 8, 1. 195, for printed read printede