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writer remarks, could not be obtained in that country, for gold ne silver,' nay, even though they were hanged. In this emergency, an old knight prepares a dish, well seasoned with spices and saffron, which the king considers excellent pork, makes a hearty supper upon, goes comfortably to sleep, and rises the next morning quite prepared to make up for lost time. On the battle-field he deals such goodly blows, that the Soudan
sayde the devyl was them among; at length, exhausted, he returns, and while his knights unlace his armour, another brings him a sop in wyne. This he refuses, and orders the cook to bring him the head of the pig on which he had supped so heartily. The cook, alarmed, makes ineffectual excuses; but on Richard declaring that he shall either produce that head or lose his own, a grim Saracen's head is brought in, for it was on the flesh of a Sarrazin young and fat' that the king had supped the night before.
• The swarte vys when the kynge seethe
How hys lippes grinned wide'he burst into a loud fit of laughter, and remarked that, what in modern times would be called a commissariat staff could never be needed here, since they had only to slay and eat. An embassy from the Soudan next arrives, and Richard having killed a goodly number of Saracens, orders their heads to be cooked, and one placed before each couple of his guests. Such an entertainment naturally excites the horror of the visitants, who whisper one to the other, that Richard is certainly of infernal parentage; while he laughs aloud and declares
King Richard shall warrant,
As the hed of a Sarrazin'and concludes by threatening
• To Englonde wyl we not be gon,
Tyl they be eten everichon.' It is strange to us how any antiquary could think that the writer was narrating a grave fact here; for the very threat at the conclusion shows that it is a mere piece of badinage, and not improbably, we think, intended to ridicule some of the romancers of the day who indulged in ‘King Cambyses' vein.'
This Saracen's head, however, is very probably the prototype of that ancient and favourite sign, which has always been remarkable for the lippes grinning wide, the swart face, and black beard; indeed, the very moral' of the head described here.
Richard next has a present of a very handsome black horse, which an angel informs him is of demon origin; he therefore addresses it
By the apostles twelve,
No wonder that the demon steed shook his head and stode full still,' and suffered Richard to mount him. At length, after plenty more fighting, Richard concludes a truce with Saladin, returns to England, and the romance ends abruptly with the remark that he was at Castel Galliard slain, alas!' and with a prayer for his soul.
These two large and important works, although called romances, were more properly 'gestes; there were, however, many tales founded on the deeds of King Arthur and his knights, written about this time. Among these, the tale of
Ywaine and Gawin' is deserving of notice, both for the admirable arrangement of the story, and for the flowing and spirited style in which it is written. The materials are derived from Celtic tradition. An enchanted forest, a gallant knight pricking forth in search of adventures, a fountain overshadowed by a hawthorn, and a gold bason hanging thereby. The reader may
well expect a tale of enchantment, and so it is; for on the knight filling the bason with the water, and pouring it on a stone hard by, a terrible storm arises; then a flight of birds settle on the tree; and lastly, “a noyse of horsemen, and a knight in ‘rich armure' appears, and challenges the intruder. This first adventure leads to many more.
Sir Ywaine kills the knight, falls in love with his widow, whom he subsequently marries; her 'barons in parlement assuring her that she must marry to secure her lands, and that she can scarcely do better than take him, who had already proved himself valiant enough to kill the former possessor. There is little enough of chivalrous feeling here, and on this account, as well as from the descriptions of weapons and armour, we should assign it to a very early date, perhaps the earlier half of the thirteenth century.
Sir Ywaine, after his marriage, sets again forth on adventures, promising his lady to return within a year and a day. This promise he breaks, and then begin his troubles. He flies to the forest, al wilde and wode,' and, when he recovers his senses, wanders far away. Here he rescues a lion from the grasp of a dragon, and the grateful beast follows him in his wanderings with dog-like fidelity. His adventures in overcoming giants and uncourteous knights, and rescuing distressed ladies, are so various, and the interest is so well kept up, that the story in modern English would be found extremely entertaining to the modern reader. To the same period, as well as to the same class of stories,—those founded on Welsh or Breton traditions,-may we assign the romance of 'Percival, lately published, with two others of a later date, by the Camden society. The style of this is, however, very rude, and it was probably adapted, by some common versifier, from a NormanFrench original. The cultivation of Anglo-Norman poetry was indeed pursued with as much eagerness during this century as during the preceding, and the beauty of many of the productions of this period make us wonder that the ruder efforts of the English minstrel obtained a hearing. It was during the earlier half of this century that Marie of France,-a writer who, even if she were of French origin, as her name seems to imply, resided and wrote in England, and, we think with Abbé de la Rue, was acquainted with the language of the people,-composed her graceful lays and fables; and toward the end, Chardry, Denis Pyramus, and Waddington, also wrote their poems. Nor was this injurious to the rising poetical literature of the people. Many of these poems were translated; and attempts were made to rival the easy flow of the more polished language of the higher orders, while the English poet soon found that, in passages where a forcible diction was required, the nobler, though ruder tongue, was far better adapted for that purpose. Many passages in ‘King Alisaundre' read as flowingly as the verse of the Anglo-Norman trouvéres, but there are others, both in this and in “Cuer de Lion,' that display a vigour and condensation which belong to the SaxonEnglish alone.
Among the poems which may be assigned to this period, we must not, however, overlook one remarkable for its graceful and flowing verse, nor less so, for its singularly wild adaptation of the well-known story of Orpheus and Eurydice. "Sir Orfeo ' was a rich king, the descendant of King Pluto and Queen Juno, a gallant and courteous man, who loved harpying' beyond everything. Indeed, he
• Lernéd so ther none was,
A better harper in ne place,
And who myght of hys harpyng her
Such joye and melody in hys harpyng is.' His queen, ‘Dame Erodys,' was the fairest and best among women; but alas !-
Hit befel in tyme of May
awey ben the wynteris schowres
felde is ful of flowres,
Fayr under an ympe treand here Erodys fell asleep. On her awaking, she appeared distracted; and on being urged to tell the cause, declared that, while she slept, two knights had appeared to her and summoned her to their king; but she refusing to go, the king himself, with a large company of knights and ladies, had carried her away into a strange place, and, on coming back, had commanded her to be ready to go with him on the morrow. "Sir Orfeo,' determined not to lose his wife so easily, takes counsel, and keeps watch with two hundred well-armed knights, but in vain; she is spirited away, none can tell how, but away with the fayryé sche was ynome. Orfeo returns home disconsolate, gives up his kingdom, and taking his harp with him, sets forth to the woods, where he dwells for ten years, charming the wild beasts with his melody, and sometimes catching a passing glimpse of the fairy king and his train, but unable to trace whither they go. At length, one day, he sees a troop of fair ladies, attended by pipes, and all manner of minstrelsy, come riding, each with hawk on her hand; and on going nearer, he perceives his owen lady, Dame Erodys,' sitting wo-begone among them. He now determines to watch them closely, and follow wherever they may go. Ere long they ride away, and at length enter a rock. He follows, and comes to a feyr countré,' with a fair castle that shines like crystal. The whole of this description is very spirited, and true to the middle-age notions of the londe of
faëryé.' He now goes boldly to the castle gate, and asks the porter to admit him, for I am a minstrel.' The porter complies, and he then proceeds to the hall and kneels before the king:
• Then sayde the kynge, 'What art thou,
That art hyder ycom nowe?
Never sente after thee.' Sir Orfeo replies, it is the manner of minstrels to visit every house, and though not summoned, yet to proffer our game and glee.' He now begins to play, and with his usual success; the faërye king bids him name his own guerdon; he asks and receives Dame Erodys;' returns to his kingdom, where they lived happily ever after.
Our catalogue of early metrical romances might be further extended; but those that remain are mostly tolerably close translations from the Norman-French, and thus, although interesting as exhibiting the progress of our language, cannot compete with those to which a genuine English origin may be assigned. Of these latter, "Emare,' which is a very close version of La Manekine, of which we lately gave an epitome;
Ipomedon,' versified from the work of Hugh de Roteland; and William and the Werwolf, translated from the French at the express request of the Earl of Hereford, early in the following century, may be classed among the best. The last-mentioned work is curious, inasmuch as the translator has used the selfsame verse which, ere long, was chosen by Langland for his singularly fine allegory, 'Piers Ploughman.'
It would be unjust, in tracing the early progress of the English language, to overlook the venerable Robert of Gloucester, although among the early English poets we can scarcely place him. The eager interest that was expressed by our forefathers to learn somewhat of the history of our land, is strongly marked by the circumstance of three histories, in the language of the commons, appearing-certainly within the space of a hundred years -probably within a shorter period. These are, the Chronicle of Lazamon, the modernized version, which has been published with it, and the Chronicle of Robert of Gloucester. A large work is this last, filling two closely-printed octavo volumes for at this period, although writing materials were scarce and expensive, and scribes even more so, our forefathers do not seem to have considered a great book as a great evil. And prosing, although the greater part may appear to the modern reader, there are passages of simple pathos that prove the