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Jeaste of Syr Gawayne," and among Bagford's Collections, MS. Harl. 5927, art. 32, is preserved the last leaf of another edition in black letter, "Imprynted at London in Paule churche yarde, at the sygne of the maydens heed, by Thomas Petyt," containing fifty-three lines, which have been collated with the text in the MS., and the variations, which are trifling, noted in the margin. It is no doubt this romance which is alluded to, under the title of " Sir Gawyn," by Laneham, in his letter describing the entertainment of the Queen at Kenilworth in 1575. Of what antiquity the story may have been in an English dress, it is difficult to form an opinion, but I should be inclined to refer it to the fifteenth century. The original author, however, in this instance, as in so many others, is French, and in the Roman de Perceval, f. lxxiv3, we meet with the entire story. As the commencement of the adventure is wanting in the MS., a short analysis of the French narrative may not be out of place.
Gawayne leaves king Arthur at the siege of the city of Branlant, at which he had himself been severely wounded. He crosses a deep river, and rides along a beautiful plain to a wood, on emerging from which he finds himself in a spacious launde, on which he perceives, by the side of a fountain, a magnificent pavilion raised. The valances were of fine silk of different colours, richly embroidered in gold and silver with flowers, foliage and birds, whilst above the ball on the summit was a golden eagle. He dismounts and enters the pavilion, where he sees a sumptuous bed, on which lay a lovely girl, “qui si formellement belle estoit, que pour ce temps n'eust été trouvé la pareille." Gawayne is exceedingly surprised at her beauty, and accosts her courteously. In reply she says, "Dieu qui fist soir et matin doint honneur au chevalier Gauvain; puis à vous qui estes icy!" He inquires why she expresses herself thus, and in explanation learns, that from the fame of Gawayne's great prowess, courtesy, and other qualities, she has long been accustomed to use such terms. The knight then discloses himself, and unlaces his helmet, to shew his features, on which the lady retires to an adjoining room, and calls to her a Saracen damsel, who had been fille de chambre to queen Chambres, and who had pourtrayed in embroidery the portrait of Gawayne so exactly, as to be recognised by all who saw it. Whilst she is contemplating his features, Sir Gawayne disarms himself, and puts on a splendid mantle. On the lady's return she at once acknowledges the original of her picture, and runs to embrace him, kissing his eyes "par grant amour," and saying, “Sire, la pucelle, comme voyez, du tout se mect à vostre bandon, et de son corps vous faict present, tout par amours et en honneur, si vous plaist à la recepvoir." Of course the knight is not insensible of the value of such a gift,—" et puis se mirent à deviser du jeu d'amours, sans villennie, et apres s'entrejouerent, en ensuivant le doulx parler, que le nom de pucelle perdist." Gawayne at length takes leave of her, and immediately after his departure arrives her father, the king of Lys, and on learning what had occurred, pursues the knight, and accuses him of the death of his brother, and the violation of his daughter. Gawayne overthrows him with a mortal blow, and pursues his way. Shortly after, Brandelys
the lady's brother, makes his appearance at the pavilion, and or hearing the same story, rides after and overtakes the author of the injury. They encounter each other fiercely, and are both thrown to the ground, but continue the combat with their swords until they an botİ weary. Gawayne at length proposes a cessation of arms, and to renew the combat whesever they should again meet. This is agreed to, and the combatants separate BranderTS carries the corpse of his father to an abbey, to be honourably interred; and Gawayze returns to Arthur's host at the siege of Branlant, but is so enfeebied by his wounds as to requiE the attendance of physicians for six months before he was perfectly recovered.
At a subsequent part of the romance (f. ev.), the continuation of GawayDE'S adventure is thus related
Arthur and his court arrive at a stately castle, which proves to be the residence of Brandslys. They find a sumptuous banquet prepared for some guest, and no less than a hundred wüdboars' heads provided! Whilst at the feast Gawayne discovers the shicid of Brandelys hanging up, and recollecting the terms of their agreement, hastens to replace his helmet on his head, which he had laid aside. On being questioned as to the cause, he relates his adventure at the pavilion, which differs so considerably from the preceding narrative, as justly to exert the surprise of Southey, Pref. to Morte d'Arthur, p. xxvi. In this version of the story Gawarde states, that on arriving at the pavilion he found the lady asleep, and struck by her beauty, he took off his helmet, and kissed her several times so softly, as not to awaken her, except a faint remonstrance of "Beau sire, laissez moy dormir." At last she awoke, and inquired who he was. He says, her amy, but she bids him fly, for fear of the vengeance of her father and brothers. He tells his name, and is then courteously welcomed. Gawayne afterwards disarmed himself, and proceeds with his tale thus,-" Puis m'allay coucher aupres d'elle, comme pour faire mon delict; les yeulx luy baise et le visaige, qu'elle plus blans que lys avoit, et depuis feis si grand oultraige, qu'à force la despucellay, quelque deffence qu'elle sceust faire." The lady was in the utmost grief, and fainted in Gawayne's arms, when Melians de Lys, one of her brothers, arrived, and bursting into the pavilion, loaded Gawayne with reproaches. The knight made every submission, and offered to marry the lady, but Melians reviled them both, and insisted on having recourse to arms. They fought, and the brother was struck dead on the first encounter. The father then came up, and shared the same fate, much to the grief of Gawayne. Lastly arrived Brandelys, and having refused the conciliatory offers of the offender, a combat took place, as previously narrated.
It is evident that the author of the English romance has adopted the latter narrative, merely changing the names of the parties, and introducing a few additions of his own. The sequel of the adventure, omitted by the English writer, is thus told in the original text.
Brandelys, on hearing that his foe was within his castle, hastens to takes revenge. As it was now late in the evening, candles are sent for, and a furious combat ensues by their light
between Gawayne and his opponent. At this juncture the lady (whose name we subsequently learn to be Guinalorete,) makes her appearance with her child Giglain, whom she interposes between its father and uncle. Brandelys, so far from being softened by the sight, brutally kicks the child away, which excites the indignation of Arthur. The fight is resumed, and Brandelys is at length struck down. The lady again interposes, and her entreaties being seconded by the interference of the king and his nobles, Brandelys is persuaded to yield, and the adventure terminates by his being made a knight of the Round Table, and granting forgiveness to the penitent Gawayne, who begs it on his knees.
The compiler of the Morte d'Arthur does not insert this episode in his work, but has a distinct allusion to the circumstance, when he says, "Thenne came in Syr Gawayne, with his thre sones, Syr Gyngleyn, Syr Florence, and Sir Louel; these two were begoten upon Sir Brandyles syster; and al they fayled."-Vol. ii. p. 383. Sir Brandelys was subsequently, together with Florence and Louel, slain by Lancelot du Lac and his party, at the rescue of queen Guenever. Ibid. ii. 401, 403.
P. 217, 1. 347. Theron of pleasaunce a kercheyf dyd honge.
See Meyrick's Glossary to his Critical Inquiry, in v. Kercheff of Plesaunce. It was sometimes worn on the arm. But a lady's favour was occasionally in another shape, as we learn from the Roman de Perceval, f. lxxxiii. "Et pour secretement faire cete chose assçavoir à Alardin par signe, luy donna la manche de sa cotte, que nous appellons mancherons, de quoy il feist ung gonfanon ou banerolle à sa lance.” Cf. Malory, ii. 332.
P. 219, L. 422. Syr Gawayne saide, "Syr, I the praye, etc.
So also in the original text, "Il me semble, franc chevallier, respond Gauvain, que vous deussiez plus honestement ou plus prudentement parler, car se je vous ay faict nul dommaige, je suis tout prest de l'amender, au loz de tous noz bons amys, mais que n'y perde mon honneur; mais quant à la trahison que vous me mettez sus, je m'en veulx contre vous deffendre.”—f. lxxv".
The Grene Knight.
YOPIED in 1831 by permission of the late Mrs. Samuel Isted of Ecton Hall, Northamptonshire, (eldest daughter of the Bishop of Dromore,) from the Percy Manuscript. It is noticed in the list of Romances prefixed to the third volume of the "Reliques of Ancient Poetry," p. xxxvii. ed. 1794, and was considered of sufficient interest by the Bishop to be transcribed, for the purpose of insertion in a subsequent edition. The singular volume which contains it may be assigned to the latter half of the seventeenth century, and abounds with inaccuracies of the scribe or compiler. It is here, however, printed literatim from the MS., except in cases where correction is absolutely necessary, and the corrupt readings are then thrown to the bottom of the page. Had Bishop Percy adopted the same plan, when printing his Ballads, even the hypercriticism of Ritson might have been satisfied. It will readily be admitted, I presume, that the Scotish romance at the beginning of the present volume is the original from which the later tale has been borrowed; but that it may have existed in some intermediate shape, is rendered highly probable by an entry in the inventory of English books belonging to John Paston of Norfolk, made in the reign of Edward the Fourth, in which occurs " The Greene Knight." Orig. Letters, vol. ii. p. 300, 4to, 1787.
The changes made in the story, in its recent form, are very remarkable, and serve to shew the extent and character of the license assumed by minstrels and poetasters, in reciting the compositions of their predecessors, or in borrowing from foreign sources. The fairy Morgana of the ancient romance is here changed into Aggteb, a witch, who is endowed with the power of transposing human forms; and instead of the Grene Knight's visit to Arthur's court being made for the purpose of annoying Guenever, it is here designed by the old witch as a means of alluring Gawayne to her daughter's arms. The general outline is, however, precisely the same, but the narrative much abridged in the rifacimento. It is somewhat remarkable, that the latter places the scene "in the West Countrye," instead of the North, as one would have expected to find it.
P. 224, l. 13. He made the Round Table for their behoue,
Yt none of them shold sitt aboue.
The earliest authority for this tradition is Wace, who inserts it in his translation of Geoffrey, and adds, that the Round Table was instituted by Arthur for the purpose of avoiding disputes of precedence among his knights. See the passage in Le Roux de Lincy's edition, tome ii. p. 74, 8vo, 1836. Robert of Brunne translates this literally in the inedited portion of his Chronicle, f. 62b, MS. Inner Temple Library, No. 511. 7. Lazamon goes further, and not only gives the history of the table at much greater length, but adds from some source at present unknown, a narrative of a quarrel which was the more immediate cause of the institution. In an inedited romance on the subject of Arthur, preserved in the Red Book of Bath, of the fifteenth century, I find the following lines on the subject:
At Cayrlyoun, w' oute fable
He let make the Rounde Table,
This was the resoun y-wyss,
That no man schulde sytt aboue other,
Ne haue indignacioun of hys brother.
And alle had oo seruyse,
For no pryde scholde aryse,
For any degree of syttynge,
Other for any seruynge.
P. 225, 1. 40. Sir Bredbeddle.
On what authority the Green Knight is thus named I am ignorant, but in this case it is no mistake of the scribe, for we meet with the same personage again in the ballad of Arthur and the King of Cornwall. He can scarcely be meant for the individual who is surnamed also the Grene Knyght in the Morte d'Arthur, and whose real name was Pertilope, the brother of Sir Persaunt and Sir Perymore, all of whom were defeated by Sir Gareth, younger brother of Sir Gawayne. See vol. i. pp. 196, 223; ii. p. 385.
P. 227, l. 92. Att a castle of Flatting was his dwelling,
The forest of Delamere is an immense tract of wood and waste in Cheshire, and was formerly well stocked with deer. Of the Castle of Flatting I have found no