صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني
[blocks in formation]

And all the Ilys in the Se

Subject ware to his Powste :" &c.
There can be very little question that, when composing these lines,
Wyntown had before him the following passage of the Morte Arthure,
1. 26–47.

Qwene that the kynge Arthure by conqueste hade wonnyne
Castelles and kyngdoms and contreez many,
And he had coverede the coroune of the kyth ryche
Of alle that Uter in erthe aughte in his tyme,
Orgayle and Orkenay, and alle this owte iles,
Irelande uttirly, as occyane rynnys;
Scathylle Scottlande by skylle heskyftys as hym lykys,
And Wales of were he wane at bys wille,
Bathe flaundrez and ffraunce fre til hym selvyne ;
Holaund and Henawde they helde of hyme bothe,
Burgoyne and Brabane, and Bretayne the lesse,
Gyane and Gothelande, and Grece the ryche.

He was prynce holdyne,
..of Naverne and Norwaye, and Normaundye eke,
Of Almayne, of Estriche, and other ynowe;
Denmarke he dryssede alle by drede of hymn selvyne,

Fra Swynne unto Swether-wyke, with his swerde kene." It will be observed that, with one exception, and that more apparent than real, all the countries, provinces, &c., mentioned by Wyntown, occur in the Morte Arthure, and in such order or curious conjunction, that it is impossible this could have happened by chance or mere coincidence. The one passage must have been compiled from the other. Then follows mention by Wyntown of “The hawtane message til Arthure send, that wrythyn in the Brwte is kend.”

The passage in the Morte Arthure, l. 78, &c., in which the embassy of the Senator of Rome is described, was as certainly before Wyntown when he thus alluded to it in his chronicle. It is in this passage that we meet with the line,

“Sir Lucius Iberius, the Emperour of Rome"which Wyntown made the text of the defence of his own “cunnandness,” or accurate learning, and of the defence, not excuse, of Huchowne's “ suthfastness or historical fidelity.

“ Had he cald Lucyus procurature,
Quhare that he cald hym Emperwre,

[ocr errors]

That had mare grevyd the cadens,
Than had relevyd the sentens.
Ane Emperoure in propyrtè
A comawndoure suld callyd be:
Lucyus swylk mycht heve bene kend

Be the message that he send." The old chronicler defends the propriety of this designation of Lucius as Emperor manifestly upon the ground that Imperator originally meant supreme leader, commander, or general of the Roman army, and even when the name was borne by the Cæsars and their successors, as Supreme Rulers of the Roman Empire, it continued to include this its original meaning, as referring to the most important of their powers and functions. In other words, Huchowne, according to Wyntown, applied the term Emperor to Lucius, as the best English equivalent of Imperator, and intended that it should have, not so much its later compound meaning of supreme magistrate and leader, as its simple original one of General. Or, if both functions of magistrate and general were to be included, then, in his case, most of the latter was indicated. Accordingly Wyntown says, “ Ane Emperoure in propyrtè a Commawndoure suld callyd be.” &c.

In connection with this designation of Lucius as emperor by Huchowne, and Wyntown's defence of its propriety, it is most important to remark, that in the Destruction of Troy, when the Greeks “walit hom”—chose Agamemnon as their leader, 1. 3670,

" Thai ordant hym Emperoure by opyn assent." Almost invariably thereafter in the poem he is designated “Emperor." When he resigns, 8927-8950, and Palamedes is chosen in his stead, in like manner,

“Palomydon for prise the pert kynges toke,

And ordant hym Emperour by oppyn assent,

The ost for to honour, and agh hym as lord.” At the death of Palamedes, slain by Paris with a poisoned arrow, the Greek lords again

“Grauntid Agamynon the gre for to have,

Ches hym for chieftain & chargit hyin therwith.” And when again spoken of by title, he is designated, as before,

[blocks in formation]

“Emperoure," 9795. This almost invariable use of the term on the part of our author is not, and cannot be, a mere coincidence only. Is not this an undesigned proof that he and Huchowne are one and the same person? May not Wyntown, when defending Huchowne for his use of the term in the case of Lucius, have been well acquainted with our larger poem and its author, and so, with a most significant meaning and authority, have written,

" Ane Emperour in propyrtè

A Coinmawndoure suld callyd be”? The remaining portion of the passage in Wyntown that we have been discussing is mainly a general view or summary of contents of Huchowne's Gret Gest, concluding with Mordred's treason, Arthur's mortal wound, and the appointment and succession of Schyr Constantine, “hys awyne cusyne,” as “king of Brettane hale.” This summary, in the order of events, their conclusion, &c., remarkably coincides with the matters treated of in the Morte Arthure. Indeed, the whole passage I regard as just one continuous and convincing proof that the Morte Arthure of Thornton is the Gret Gest of Arthur. Wyntown, in this passage, begins at the same point and in the same way, and goes over the same ground as the Morte Arthure; he describes and criticizes the work, characterizes the author and his style in such a manner, and gives so accurate an idea of the whole, that I question if it would be easy or possible to produce a review, of the same compass or bulk, from our modern periodical press, that would be equally comprehensive, or that with equal effect would describe a work and equal correctness designate its author.

To conclude, the abundant internal evidence furnished by the language of the Morte Arthure, joined to that which we may gather from the passage of Wyntown, makes up a body of proof as to the nationality and authorship of the work, we think, conclusive and satisfactory. If this be so, then it must follow that in the Morte Arthure, the Pystil of Sweet Susane, and Sir Gawane and the Green Knight, as Sir F. Madden remarks, we have the three works mentioned by Wyntown as the productions of Huchowne. But more, in the Stately Poem we have another work of his, and it may be to that-work-the Destruction of Troy—that Wyntown refers in the line,

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

“or writ he much.” Perhaps also it is to that work that referenco is made, when he speaks of “soothfastnesse ”—a special characteristic of the Destruction of Troy being its soothfastness, as shown by the author's constant reference to Dites whom he follows, and in his earnest care to say nothing but “as the Boke tellis ;” and in this he copies the prominent characteristic of Benoit, as shown by Mons. Joly, and of his translator Guido, who also was especially careful, like Benoit, to back his statements with the testimony of Dites and Dares.

That Wyntown was well acquainted with our poem appears from his Prologue, the commencement of which has been evidently composed with that of our author in view.

"Quhar-for off swylk antyqwyteys,
Thai that set hale thare delyte
Gest or story for to wryte,
Owthir in metyre, or in prose,
Fluryside fayrly thaire purpose
Wytht queynt and curyous circumstance,
To rays hartis in plesance,
And the heraris tyll excyte
Be wyt, or wyll, tyll thaire delyte.

As Gwido de Columpna qwhille,
The poete Omere, and Vyrgylle,
Fayrly fowrmıyde thaire tretis,
And curyowsly dytyde thare storis.
Sum oyside bote in plane manere
The dedis dwne, and thare matere
To wryte, as Dares of Frygy
Wrate of the Trojanys the story,
Bot in to plane and opyne style,

But curyous wordis or suttyle.”
To rays hartis in plesance, And the heraris tyll excyte," is
uncommonly like our author's“ boldyng of hertes ;" and Wyntown's
remarks on Omere, Vyrgylle, and Dares, are not unlike what is
* brevit’ much more fully in our 'boke.' Like other early writers,
Wyntown was in the practice of cutting short his narrative and of
referring his readers to other authors and their works, when the
matter had already been described. Keeping this practice in view,
it is most instructive to note what he gives and what he withholds
in his chapter on the Amazons. Commencing with a portion of

[blocks in formation]

history which does not appear in our poem, he abruptly breaks off and refers to Orosius for further particulars. A short passage follows, which seems a resumé of what is told at page 353; then comes another piece of information, which is finally wound up with

“ Thare Orytlıya wes dede,
Penthassale ras in hyr stede,
Hyr douchtyr and lıyr ayre

offale
That tyll hyr suld off profyt fale.
This lady prowyd gret douchtynes;
Quhen the Grekys assegeand wes
The town off Troy, wythit thare powere,
Thare wyth hyr ost scho come off were,

As in the story weill is kend." And true enough Penthesilea and her 'gret douchtynes' are very fully set forth in the Stately Poem. The following chapter on " The Assegis of Troye" is not less suggestive of Wyntown's acquaintance with that poem.

The Troy Book, it may easily be seen by simply putting it down side by side with the E. E. T. Society's Morte Arthure, has not been in all cases to such an extent disguised or overlaid by the Midland or other forms, from which it has been concluded, somewhat hastily, we consider, that the work was Midland. The Scottish past tense and perfect participle are found in the Troy Book ending in it, yt, or et, very generally, indeed quite as generally as they are so met with in Barbour and in the Lowland Scotch of the present day, while the present participles in -and have been more frequently tampered with, and appear sometimes in -ond and sometimes in -aund. If y, as a prefix to the past or perfect participle, is a mark of a Southern dialect, then it never occurs once from the beginning to the end of the poem ; and just so, en marking the infinitive is never met with either. The final en of the past participle, sometimes as yn, and sometimes as on, occurs on every page; for example, that art founden, be holdyn, thou be takon ;l and so thai, thaire, thaim, &c., and indeed almost all the peculiarities specified in Morris's Specimens of Early English, as indicating a work to be Northern rather than Southern, 'are exemplified more or less frequently throughout

the whole poem.

[ocr errors][merged small]
« السابقةمتابعة »