« السابقةمتابعة »
JAMES IVORY, ESQ., SOLICITOR-GENERAL.
SIR HENRY JARDINE, KT.
50 HON. FRANCIS JEFFREY, LORD JEFFREY.
JOHN GARDINER KINNEAR, ESQ.
THE EARL OF KINNOULL.
DAVID LAING, ESQ., SECRETARY.
THE EARL OF LAUDERDALE.
REV. JOHN LEE, D.D.
ALEXANDER WELLESLEY LEITH, ESQ.
JAMES LOCH, ESQ.
60 THE MARQUIS OF LOTHIAN.
ALEXANDER MACDONALD, ESQ.
WILLIAM M'DOWALL, ESQ.
HON. J. H. MACKENZIE, LORD MACKENZIE.
JAMES MACKENZIE, ESQ.
JOHN WHITEFOORD MACKENZIE, ESQ.
WILLIAM FORBES MACKENZIE, ESQ.
JAMES MAIDMENT, ESQ.
THOMAS MAITLAND, ESQ.
70 WILLIAM HENRY MILLER, ESQ.
THE EARL OF MINTO.
HON. SIR J. W. MONCRIEFF, LORD MONCRIEFF.
HON. SIR JOHN A. MURRAY, LORD MURRAY.
WILLIAM MURRAY, ESQ.
MACVEY NAPIER, ESQ.
SIR FRANCIS PALGRAVE.
HENRY PETRIE, ESQ,
SIR THOMAS PHILLIPPS, BART.
80 EDWARD PIPER, ESQ.
ROBERT PITCAIRN, ESQ.
ALEXANDER PRINGLE, ESQ.
JOHN RICHARDSON, ESQ.
THE EARL OF ROSEBERY.
RIGHT HON. A. RUTHERFURD, LORD ADVOCATE.
THE EARL OF SELKIRK.
JAMES SKENE, ESQ.
WILLIAM SMYTHE, ESQ.
THE EARL SPENCER.
90 JOHN SPOTTISWOODE, ESQ.
EDWARD STANLEY, ESQ.
MAJOR-GENERAL SIR JOSEPH STRATON.
THE HON. CHARLES FRANCIS STUART.
THE DUKE OF SUTHERLAND.
ALEXANDER THOMSON, ESQ.
WALTER C. TREVELYAN, ESQ.
DAWSON TURNER, ESQ.
ADAM URQUHART, ESQ.
RIGHT HON. SIR GEORGE WARRENDER, BART.
100 THE VEN. ARCHDEACON WRANGHAM.
IN collecting for the first time the various Scotish and English poems relating to one of the most celebrated Knights of the Round Table, it might seem desirable to examine critically the sources whence the history of his exploits has been derived. But the subject is of such vast extent, is involved in so much obscurity, and, moreover, has been discussed with such conflicting theories and assertions, that the limits I here propose to myself will only allow me to state in succinct terms the conclusions which, after a long course of reading, I have arrived at.
The inquiry divides itself into two branches, closely connected together; the first of which embraces the question of the antiquity of Welsh or Armorican traditions, and the share of Geoffrey of Monmouth in the compilation of the far-famed Brut; the second includes the history of the ponderous French prose Romances of the Round Table, their authors, and the period of their composition. With regard to the former, it is impossible, I think, for any one, who is not prejudiced, to read the arguments of Ellis, Price, De la Rue, and the Author of " Britannia after the Romans," with the testimonies produced, and not to admit, that previous to the time of Geoffrey a mass of popular traditions relating to Arthur and his chivalry must have existed, and was circulated first by the native bards, and afterwards by the Anglo-Norman minstrels.
On these traditions the earliest Prose Romances appear to have been subsequently based, the materials for which were arranged, embellished, and enlarged by the imagination and invention of the various compilers. It is true that these writers are unanimous in referring to a Latin original, from which they profess to translate; and although the existence of such a work is called in question by Ritson, Scott, and Southey, yet I am not prepared altogether to deny it*. But setting this aside, it appears to me, after a somewhat laborious perusal of the printed editions of these works, compared with existing manuscripts, that they must have been compiled in the following order.-1. The Roman du Saint Graal, sometimes intitled the Roman de Joseph d'Arimathie, composed by Robert de Borron. In the printed editions this is called the first part of the Saint Graal. 2. The Roman de Merlin, by the same. 3. The Roman de Lancelot du Lac, composed by Walter Mapt. 4. The Roman du Quéte du Saint Graal, by the same. editions this forms the second part. 5. The Roman de la Mort Artus, by the same, and originally distinct, but in the printed editions united to the Lancelot. 6. The first portion of the Roman de Tristan, by Luces, Seigneur de Gast. 7. The conclusion of Tristan, by Helie de Borron; and 8. The Roman de Gyron le Courtois, by the same. Of these the first six were written in the
* Southey writes, "I do not believe that any of these Romances ever existed in Latin.By whom or for whom could they have been written in that language?" Pref. to Morte d'Arthur, p. xvi. I merely stop to reply, that it is not more unreasonable to suppose a Latin work should have existed on the exploits of Arthur than on those of Charlemagne. I may also add, for the information of those whom it may concern, that I have myself read no less than five Latin romances still existing in manuscript, some of which are of considerable length. Three of these relate to Arthur, Meriadoc, Gawayne, and other British heroes; the fourth is the original of Chaucer's Tale of Constance; and the fifth is the Knight of the Swan.
+ This is the mode in which his name is spelt in the ancient MSS. of the Romances, and it thus appears in an original charter preserved in the Cotton collection, by which he grants to Aunfelisa and her son John twelve acres of land in Wilesdune, part of his prebend of Mapesbury, co. Middlesex. Among the witnesses to this charter is "Filippo Map, nepote meo.”
latter half of the twelfth century, and the remainder in the first half of the thirteenth. To these must be added the metrical romances composed by Chrestien de Troyes, between the years 1170 and 1195, as also the later prose compilations of Rusticien de Pise and his followers, in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Having thus, I trust, successfully pointed out a clue to the labyrinth in which all our writers on early poetry have lost themselves, I shall proceed to consider the history, character, and exploits assigned to our Hero Syr Gawayne in this phalanx of romance authorities; the utility of which in illustrating the Arthurian cycle of fiction will be admitted, perhaps, as a sufficient excuse for the space it may occupy.
Our attention is naturally directed in the first place to the remains of the Welsh bards, but from those at present extant we learn but little. In the Triads we find Gwalchmai, the son of Gwyar, (who is identified with the Walwainus or Galwanus of Geoffrey and the Gauvain of the Anglo-Norman romancers,) recorded as one of the three golden-tongued or eloquent chiefs, whose persuasion none could resist; and in another passage, he is named as one of the three chiefs most courteous to strangers and guests*. There is extant also a dialogue between Gwalchmai and Trystant, and some of his adventures are preserved in the Red Book of Hergest, in Jesus College, Oxford, but I should apprehend that all of these have been borrowed from the Anglo-Norman romance-writers. Certain it is, that the stories in the Ma
Thus also in the Roman de Meliadus, when Arthur and his knights are out riding, a stranger comes up, and inquires for the king.—" Et messire Gauvain, qui estoit nouvel chevalier à celluy temps, qui estoit si debonaire et si courtois à toutes choses, que de sa courtoisie alloient parlant les estranges et les privez, respondit, 'Ouy, sire, veez le la;' et luy monstra le roy Artus." f. xvb, fol. ed. 1528.
↑ Printed at length in Lady C. Guest's edition of the Mabinogion, pt. i. p. 118, 8vo, 1839. Leland says in his Assertio Arthuri, "Melchinus, vates Britannicus, Gallovini celebrat nomen." Collectan., v. 24; and Bale adds, that this Melchin wrote De Arthuri mensa rotunda.