« السابقةمتابعة »
to conjecture. It is intitled De Ortu Waluuanii, nepotis Arturi, and is a strange tissue of romantic fiction, embellished with many rhetorical flourishes. In it Gawayne is represented as the result of a secret intrigue between king Loth and Anna, the daughter of Uter Pendragon, and to conceal his birth his mother delivers him to some foreign merchants, who carry him to the coast of France, not far from Narbonne. They leave the ship and the infant in the care of a boy, who falls asleep; and in their absence a fisherman carries the child off, together with a casket, containing testimonials of his birth, and a vast quantity of treasure. He afterwards proceeds to Rome, where giving himself out to be a descendant of a noble Roman family, he is received most honorably by the emperor, and assigned as a residence the marble palace of Scipio Africanus. The boy grows up, and is beloved by all for his courteous demeanour and surprising boldness. At the At the age of twelve years his reputed father dies, but on his death-bed reveals the secret of Gawayne's birth to the emperor and the pope Sulpicius, but charges them not to reveal it until he should be restored to his parents. The youth is brought up under the emperor's protection, receives knighthood from his hands, and distinguishes himself by his prowess so greatly, that he is sent for by the christians living at Jerusalem to fight in single combat, as a champion in their behalf, against the champion of the king of Persia, who had made war on them. In his way to the east he lands on an island ruled by king Milocrates, an enemy of the Romans, whom he kills, and afterwards encounters the hostile fleet of the king's brother, whose ships are sunk or captured. He at length reaches Jerusalem, and fights on foot with the pagan giant Gormundus, the Persian champion, for the space of three days, but at last cleaves him asunder with his sword from the head downwards, -"non optabile stomacho antidotum,"-as the writer oddly remarks. He afterwards returns triumphantly to Rome, and thence, hearing
of the fame of Arthur, to Britain, where he establishes his claim as nephew of the British monarch. Such is the brief outline of this singular story, in which we can clearly trace some few particulars referable to Geoffrey of Monmouth, but worked up in a manner that would bear comparison with the extravagant fictions of a much later era.
The popularity of Gawayne, in spite of the calumny contained in the Tristan and Gyron, must have been great, but was necessarily joined with that of other heroes of the Round Table. His adventures are referred to by several Provençal poets previous to the close of the twelfth century, and often subsequently*. In the poems of the Anglo-Norman trouveurs his name very frequently occurs, and always in terms of respect. It would occupy too much space to specify the passages, but I have indicated the principal in a note below t. The author of a manuscript Latin trans
* See the Journal des Savans, p. 521, Sept., 1833; and Raynouard's Choix des Poesies des Troubadours, vol. ii. pp. 288, 295, 296, 298. By the author of the romance of Jaufré and Elias Cairel, his feats of arms are placed on the same scale with the wisdom of Merlin or the love-passion of Tristan.
↑ A poem is quoted by the Abbé de la Rue, and assigned to king Henry the First, intitled Le dictie d'Urbain, in which it is said,—
Plus estre corteis et sein
Que ne fut Sire Gauvein,
but I should doubt both the authorship and antiquity claimed for it. See Essais sur les Bardes, vol. ii. p. 38, 8vo, 1834. In the same volume, p. 63, the Abbé states that Turold, the author of a romance on the battle of Roncevaux, places Gawayne among the paladins by the name of Gautier. This is a silly blunder, arising out of a passage in a more recent copy of the poem, analysed by M. Monin, in which the words li nies Artus do not refer to Gautiers, but to Malarsus, and the name of Artus itself is a mischievous variation from the original text, which reads Droun. Compare M. Michel's valuable edition of the Chanson de Rolland, 8vo, 1837, p. 79, and Monin's Dissertation, pp. 26, 32. Consult also the Lai de Lanval, by Marie de France, vol. i. p. 220, 8vo, 1820; Le Couronnement de Renart, vol. iv. pp. 3, 5, 8vo, 1826; Lai de l'Ombre, p. 43, of Lais Inedits, par Fr. Michel, 8vo, 1836; Lai de Melion, p. 57, 8vo, 1832; the metrical Livre de Oger de Dannemarche, MS. Reg. 15 E. vi. f. 81', col. 2; the Roman de la Rose, vol. iii. p. 211, 8vo, 1814; and the Roman du
lation of the celebrated Calilah u Dimnuh, made in the year 1313, complains in his preface of the avidity with which the romances of Gawayne and others were read*. But we are not hence to infer that there was originally any large distinct romance which passed by his name, but that allusion is made to one of those in which his exploits are prominently recorded. In this manner the romance of Gawayne might mean either the Merlin or the Perceval or the Lancelot, as in similar cases we read of the romances of Gallehault, Agravain, and La Charrette, all of which are only portions or branches of the Lancelot. Thus too in the Inventory of
Guillaume d'Orange, quoted by M. Michel in the Glossary to the Chanson du Rolland, p. 209. In the last of these passages Gawayne is placed in fairy-land with many other heroes of the cycles of Arthur and Charlemagne. The British sovereign thus addresses Renouart,-—
Je sui Artus, dont l'en a tant parlé,
Et puis Yvain, un sien compaing privé;
Icele est Morgue, ou tant a de biauté.
Hence may be explained the lines of Chaucer,—
That Syr Gawayne with his old curtesie,
He could him nought amendin in no worde.
Lydgate also, in his Fall of Princes, B. viii. ch. 25, speaks of Arthur's court in Fairie. * "Vos igitur regalem curiam frequentes, qui tempus vestrum consumitis in narrationibus anbagicis,—verbi gracia, Lanceloti, Galvani, consimilibusque,-libros in quibus nulla consistit sciencia vel modica viget utilitas, crebrius intendentes, abjecta vanitatis palea, librum istum regium virtutum perlegatis," etc. The writer was a physician, named Raymond de Biterris, and he translated the work from the Spanish at the request of Joan, queen of Navarre. It is altogether different from the version of John of Capua, printed under the title of the Directorium Humanæ Vitæ. A beautiful copy of the work is preserved in the Bibl. du Roi at Paris, No. 8504.
the Library in the Louvre, in 1373, we find notices of volumes described, as, "No. 287. De Merlin, et des fais de Lancelot du Lac et de Gauvin, em prose," and again, "No. 302. Du Saint Graal, de Lancelot, de Gauvain, en grant volume plat, em prose. In the same manner must the passage of Caxton be understood, where he speaks of "the grete and many volumes of Seint Graal, Ghalehot, and Launcelotte de Lake, Gawayne, Perceval, Lyonel, and Tristram," which renders Southey's conjecture as to their separate form of no force.
If we now turn to our English writers, we shall find the fame of Gawayne in full vigor from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century. The stream of romance which brought down the name of Arthur, invariably joined to it that of his courteous and valiant nephew; and his reputation in the popular estimation continued to retain its hold, in spite of the misrepresentations of the authors of the Tristan and the Gyron. John Hautville, author of the Archithrenius, written previous to the year 1207, places the following noble sentiments in our Hero's mouth,
Et Walganus ego, qui nil reminiscor avara
In some prefatory lines to the collection of Metrical Legends of the Saints, written shortly before the year 1300‡, we read,—
* Proheme to Godefrey of Boloyne, fol. 1481. Compare his Preface to the Book of the Ordre of Chyvalry, fol. no date, but about 1484.
+ MS. Cott. Vesp. B. xxiii. f. 30, and MS. Harl. 4066, 2, f. 30. The knight previously says of himself,
Et genus et gentem tribuit Lodonesia nutrix,
Prebuit irriguam morum Cornubia mammam.
‡ Warton, in Hist. Engl. Poetr. says 1200, vol. i. pp. 14, 126, and is incautiously followed by Ritson, Metr. Rom. p. civ. I am surprised to find the same error repeated in Mr. Guest's valuable work on English Rhythms, vol. ii. p. 220. The same writer persists, p.
Men wilnethe more yhere of batayle of kyngis
Of Roulond and of Olyuere, and Gy of Warwyk,
Of Wawayne and Tristram, that ne founde here ylike.
MS. Bodl. 779, ap. Warton, vol. i. p. 126.
Again, in the romance of Richard Cœur de Lion, composed probably within ten years of the same period,
Many romances men make newe,
And of euery doseper;
Of Alisandre and Charlemain,
Off kyng Arthour and off Gawayn;
How they were knyghtes good and curteys,
Off Turpyn, and of Ogier Daneys*.
In a curious poem in the Digby MS. No. 86, intitled "Le Cuntent parentre le Mauvis et la Russinole, written in the reign of Edward the First, is the following stanza:
Nizttingale, thou hauest wrong,
Wolt thou me senden of this lond,
For ich holde with the ri3tte;
I take witnesse of Sire Wawain,
That Ihesu Crist 3af mi3t and main,
And strengthe for to fitte.-fol. 137+.
412, in assigning the year 1278 to Robert of Gloucester's Chronicle, although in my Preface to Havelok I have pointed out a passage in it which proves it not to have been completed till after 1297.
* Weber's Metr. Rom. ii. 4; see also ii. 261. He is greatly mistaken in supposing the romance of Ywaine and Gawin to be here alluded to.
↑ A fragment of the same poem, written thirty years later, is preserved in the Auchinleck MS., and is thence quoted by Leyden, in Complaynte of Scotland, p. 159.