صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

when he is fain to take to his hole, and is unearthed by his pursuers. See vol. ii. p. 451. A drawing on this subject executed soon after the year 1300, is copied by Strutt in his Sports and Pastimes, from MS. Reg. 2 B. vii. In the Mayster of the Game it is said, "The huntynge for the foxe is faire for the good crie of the houndis that folowene hym so nye, and with so good a wille; alway thei senten of hym, for he fleth by thik spoies, and also for he stinketh euermore, and with gret payne he wil leeue a couert whan he is therinne," etc., f. 4.2b. Yet notwithstanding this commendation, fox-hunting seems to have been but in little repute in the fifteenth century, and is almost wholly passed over in the Book of St. Alban's. The description of the fox-chase given in stanzas xxiii, xxiv, and xxxi, forms one of the most spirited parts of the poem, and are certainly the earliest extant on the subject among Scotish writers.

P. 64, l. 1738. No hwez goud on hir hede, bot the hazer stones
Trased aboute hir tressour, etc.

The fret in which the hair was confined forms a remarkable feature of the female coiffure in the reigns of Richard the Second and Henry the Fourth, and was composed of gold wire studded with precious stones. See Chaucer's Floure and the Leafe, 1. 152; Kempe's Introd. to Stothard's Monumental Effigies, p. 15; and Planché's Hist. of Costume, p. 166. Compare also the tracing of the rude illumination in the original MS. of the poem, representing the lady's visit to Sir Gawayne.

P. 75, 1. 2015. Fyrst he clad hym in his clothez, etc.

The process of arming is not so minutely described here as in p. 23, but consists merely in putting on the ordinary apparel, and then the armour, namely, a hauberk (paunce), a pair of plates for the back and breast, and a byrny or haburgeon of steel rings, which would almost seem superfluous. Over all these was cast the surcoat of velvet, embroidered with the knight's conisance in precious stones, and furred.

P. 77, 1. 2081. Vch hille had a hatte, a myst-hakel huge.

In Chalmers's Caledonia, vol. iii. p. 211, a local proverb is quoted, which bears the same phraseology,

When cloudy Cairnmuir hath a hat,

Pilnour and Skairs laugh at that.

Fuller in his Worthies, preserves a similar saying in Cumberland, vol. i. p. 234, 4to, 1811.

P. 89, 1. 2419. Watz blended wt Barsabe.

By Barsabe the writer means Bath-sheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite. See 2 Sam. cap. xi.

P. 90, 1. 2446. Thurz my3t of Morgne la Faye, that in my hous lenges,
In koyntyse of clergye bi craftes wel lerned;

The maystres of Merlyn, etc.

The fame of this lady is known to all readers of romance, and more particularly of the Romance of Merlin, in which a minute description of her personal appearance and accomplishments is given. See Southey's Notes on Morte d'Arthure, ii. 468. It is acknowledged on all sides that she received her instruction in the art of magic from the "conable klerk" Merlin, and from her proficiency was called "Morgain la fée," which our author has rendered "Morgne the goddess." Yet he seems by calling her "the maystres of Merlyn," and speaking of her amours with that sage personage, to have unwittingly confounded her with her rival in the science of necromancy, Vivienne, the Lady of the Lake. Merlin's love for the latter, and her deception of him by means of the art he had taught her, are related in various places; but there is no authority, as far as my reading extends, for the assertion in the poem, beyond that of the writer himself. The cause of Morgain's hate to queen Guenever, alluded to in the text, 1. 2460, was occasioned by an intrigue between the former and a knight named Guyomars, which was discovered and revealed by the queen. Roman de Merlin, i. f. clxxx'; Roman de Lancelot, i. f. cxcvi; Le Grand's Fabliaux, i. 152, ed. 1829. In the romance of "Ywaine and Gawin,' printed in Ritson, a lady says she has a precious ointment, given to her by "Morgan the Wise." This undoubtedly refers to the enchantress, and Ritson in his Notes, vol. iii. p. 239, interprets it erroneously. The Prophecies of Merlin attribute to the Lady of the Lake a deeper knowledge of magic than Morgain, and a curious story is related of a trial of skill between Morgain, the Lady of Avalon, Sibille, the enchantress, and the queen of North Wales. If, says the compiler, the Lady of the Lake had been there, "toute la subtilité du monde y seroit." Morgain conjures up a legion of devils to carry away the Lady of Avalon, but they are repulsed, and Morgain herself comes in person, reading her magical book as she adHer opponent, however, is prepared for her, and having on a ring, the power of which is such as to obtain instantly whatever the possessor demands, she comes forward to Morgain, and asks for all her clothes, which of course immediately leave the wearer, and Merlin's pupil, to her extreme surprise, finds herself "al so naked as she was borne" in the midst of her attendants! The Lady of Avalon laughs


at her confusion, but in pity takes off her surcoat, and gives it to the vanquished and angry enchantress.-"Ha!' dame, 'fait Morgain, vous m' avez honnye, car l'on cuidoit que je fusse de jeune aage, et ilz ont veu ma chair nue et ridée, et mes mamelles pendans, et aussi la peau de mon ventre, dont la nouvelle sera comptée en maint lieu.' 'Morgain,' fait la Dame d'Avallon, je sçay certainement que par maintes fois avez esté en vostre lict toute nue avec maint beau chevalier.' 'En nom Dieu,' fait Morgain, se je y ay esté, aussi me suys-je baignée, et oings tous mes membres, dont les chevaliers les troverent toutes fresches et dures,"" fol. cxxxi. The author of the poem had therefore good authority for his description of the "auncian" lady. See 1.961.

The Awntyrs of Arthure at the Terne


Manuscripts of this romance exist. Of these one is at present in the Bodleian Library, which previously belonged to Baynes, Ritson and Douce, and from a transcript of this MS. the poem was first printed ("surreptitiously," says Ritson,) by Pinkerton, in his "Scotish Poems," vol. iii. p. 197, 12mo, 1792, under the title of "SIR GAWAN AND SIR GALARON OF GALLOWAY." He divided it into two parts, and prefixed an argument to each, but his text is extremely incorrect, and, as he was confessedly ignorant of the language, his Glossary exhibits many From this edition, bad as it is, the first twenty-six stanzas were transferred to Sibbald's "Chronicle of Scotish Poetry," 8vo, 1802, vol. i. p. xvii. Another transcript of this MS., made about the middle of the last century, was in the library of Heber (Sale Cat. No. 1121, where it is stated to have been copied "from a MS. penes Nickols,") and was purchased subsequently by Sir Thomas Phillipps, Bart. The second


copy of the poem is preserved in the library of Lincoln Cathedral, marked A. 1. 17, but is, unfortunately, not quite perfect. From this MS. the romance was again printed by Laing, in his "Select Remains of the Ancient Popular Poetry of Scotland," 4to, 1822, and the deficiencies supplied from Mr. Douce's manuscript. The age of the latter MS. is assigned by Pinkerton and Laing to the reign of Henry the Sixth, but I do not think it can claim a higher antiquity than the period of his successor, or about the years 1460-1480. The Lincoln copy is undoubtedly earlier, being written, with many other pieces in the same volume, between the years 14301440.1 It has therefore been judged advisable, in printing this curious poem for the third time, to take the Lincoln MS. for the ground-work of the text, and where defective, inserting the lines from the later copy, the variations of which throughout are very carefully noted. There are many clerical errors in both manuscripts, which were no doubt written in England, and therefore do not present a genuine Scotish text, yet enough remains to prove the romance to be of Northern original. The readings of the Douce MS. are sometimes preferable, but as it is a dangerous practice to attempt to unite copies written at different periods and in different parts of the kingdom, the variations of the later copy have been kept quite distinct. Both the MSS. having been placed by the liberality of the owners, the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln and the late Francis Douce, Esq., for a considerable period in the hands of the editor, an opportunity was thereby afforded of transcribing and collating them more minutely than had previously been possible, and it is believed that the present edition may on that account lay claim to greater accuracy than its predecessors.

The authorship of this poem has been generally ascribed to Clerk of Tranent, who is believed, with every appearance of probability, to have lived in the early part of the fifteenth century. The authority on which this supposition rests is a passage in the poem of Dunbar, intitled "Lament for the deth of the Makkaris," written about the year 1507, in which he says,

Clerk of Tranent eik he hes tane,

That maid the awnteris of Gawane."

The Maitland MS. reads The clerk, which has occasioned Macpherson3, and, after him, Sibbald and Heber, to conjecture, that Hucheon or Hugh may have been his christian name, and consequently that the Huchowne of Wyntoun and the Clerk of Dunbar were the same individual. But this conjecture has no probability in it, and is satisfactorily refuted by the internal evidence of the poem itself. From the simi

See the description of this MS. annexed to the Introduction of the present volume. 2 Edit. Laing, vol. i. p. 214. 3 Notes on Wyntoun, ii. 364.

larity of style, the peculiar construction of the stanza, and the subject, it is almost certain, that the writer of the Awntyrs of Arthure must also have been the author1 of Golagros and Gawane, and it will hence appear how inconsiderately the compo sition of these poems has been assigned by Sir Walter Scott, Ellis3, Sibbald, and Tytler' to the thirteenth century! The language alone, had it been studied, would prove the error of such an hypothesis, which is more completely demonstrated by the costume of these pieces, and by the structure of the wheel attached to each stanza. Another feature of these poems consists in the repetition of a leading thought or expression, which served to knit the lines together and assist the memory, but this is not confined to poems of the fifteenth century, nor indeed to Scotish poetry; for the usage occurs in Minot's poems, composed in the middle of the fourteenth century, and was borrowed from the middle-age Latin writers, among whom such verses were called serpentine.

The sources from which the Scotish writers derived their romance poems has been too hastily referred by Sir Walter Scott to the floating British traditions of Arthur's cycle; an opinion repeated by Leyden?, Laing, and Tytler. This assertion I hold to be true to a very limited extent. Allowing even Sir Tristrem to be the work of a native of Scotland, (which I do not,) nothing is more certain than its derivation from an Anglo-Norman text; and the same fact is indisputable in the instances of the romances of Sir Gawayne and the Grene Knyzt, and Golagros and Gawane. In regard to the poem which these remarks more particularly apply to, the author refers to "the buke," but whether this is, as often, a mere form of words, I have met with no evidence to prove. It is, however, not to be doubted, that the groundwork of the first portion of the poem is taken from a very popular religious legend among the Latin writers of the middle-age, which is found in various forms, but with the same general outline, the appearance of a female in torments, who has been punished for her want of chastity, pride, and vanity, and whose salvation is procured by a certain number of masses said for her soul. In my edition of the old English versions of the Gesta Romanorum, printed for the Roxburghe Club, 4to, 1838, will be found several notices on the subject, Notes, p. 528. There is an inedited English poem of the fifteenth century, called "The Trental of St. Gregory," MS. Cott.

1 Ellis commits a grievous error in ascribing the English romance of Ywain and Gawin to Clerk. See Metr. Rom. i. 345.

2 Preface to Sir Tristrem, p. 57, ed. 1833.

3 Ellis, Metr. Rom., i. 129.

4 Chron. of Sc. Poetr., i. p. xvi.; but he also assigns the years 1341-1371 as its æra.

5 Hist. of Scotland, ii. 359, 8vo, 1829.

Pref. Sir Tristr. p. 57.

Pop. Poetr. Scotl., pref. to The Awntyrs.

7 Compl. Scotl. p. 208.

9 Hist. Scotl. ü. 359,

« السابقةمتابعة »