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about that time either addressed directly to the principal persons at the English court, or at least written 011 such iuhjects.as we may suppose to haveieen most likely to engage their, attention. Whatever therefore of English poetry was produced in this infancy of the art being probably the work of illiterate authors, and circulating only among the vulgar (jl), we need not be much surprised that no more of it has been transmitted down to posterity.
§ 4. The learned Hickes however has pointed out to us two very curious pieces which may with probability be referred to this period. The first1 of them is a paraphrase of the- gospel histories, entitled Ormulum (52), by one Orm or Ormin. It seems to have norant of the English language) was by no means behindhand with his matter in his encouragement of French poets; for of this blthop the passage in Ilovcden is to be understood wh'ch Mr. Walpolc has applied to the king himself; it is part of a letter of Hugh Bishop of Coventry, who, speaking of the Biihcp of Ely, says that he, " ad augineutum et farna:n sui nominis, *' emendicata carmina et rythmos adulatoitos comparahat, ** et de regno Frnncorum cantores et jnculatores muneribus •* altcxerat, ut de illo canerent in ptateis; ctjam dicebatnr '* unique, quod non erat talis in orbe." Hoi,edcni p. 103.
(> 1) To these causes we may probably impute the toss of those songs upon Hereward (the last perhaps of the Sirxon heroes; which according to Ingulphus weresung about the streets in his time. Hji.Croyl. p. GS. Robert of Ut urine also mentiora a rhyme concerning Gryme the sillier, the founder of Gryroesby, Hanelok the Dane, aud his wife Goldeburgh, daughter to a King Athelwold, who all now, together with their baYd,
See Translation o/Peter of Langtoft, p. 25, and Camden's Brit.
been considered as mere prose by Hickes anil Ms Wanley^who' have "both given large extracts tVorn it; but I apprehend every reader who has an ear for metre" will easy perceive That it is written very exactly iiiverfts of fifteen syllables,without rhyrne, in imitation of-the most common species of the Latin
first writings after the conquest, [Gram, Ang. Sax. c. xxii- p. 165,] but 1 confess 1 cannot conceive it to have been earlier than the reign of Henry II. There is a peculiarity in the author's orthography which consists in doubling the consonants; c. g. brother he' writes, brptherr; after, nffierr, E5V. He has done tlris by design, and charges those who lhall copy his book to be very caYcuil to write those letters twice which he has written so, as otherwise j he assures them, "they will not writa ** the wort! right." Hickes has taken notice of this peculiarity, but ii.ts not.attempted to explain the author's reasons for it; and indeed without a mere perfect, knowledge than we now probably can have of the Saxon pronunciation they seem to* tally inexplicable. In the few lines which I think it necessary to .quote here as a specimen of the metre, I lhall venture (first begging Ormin's paidun for disregarding his injunction,) to leave out the superfluous letters, and I lhall also, for my own ease as.well as that of. the reader, transcribe them iu modern characters. The first lines of Wanjey's extract Irom ml. Bod, Jumu 1.1. (Cat, Codd. mjs. Atftt-ttf, p. 59,} will answer my purpole as well as any other
Nil, brother Walter,brwJier min after the flesho kinde,
And brut ber win i CriJltadum tliurb itiUuht and thurh trow the, ,
AnA brother min i Gudts hua yet u the thride wife,
Ttrtirh that wit hafen taken ha an rcRbcl boc to folrjhen
Under kanunket-had and lif swa sum Sant Awllin fette,
1c hate don swa sum thu kid, unA fobbed U) te.thiu willc,
1c ha fe wend imil EngliPi Godsuellcs hali^hc Urc,
^vstcr that little wit that me min Drihtcn bafclhlcncd—
The reader will observe, that in calling these verses of fifteen syllables I consider the words-- ■kindc1irorvtke,tvi/eysettc^i'Hte%
,'.:;v---as dissyllable* The laws of metre require that they
(«) r. /#rs*«r,Jnjf.
tetrameter iambic. The other piece (53), which is a moral poem upon old ;ige, We. is in rhyme, and in a metre much resembling the former, except thafi the verse of fifteen syllables is broken into two, of which the first tfiould regularly contain eight and tile second seven syllables; but the metre is not so exactly observed (atleast-in the copy which Hickes has followed) as it is in the Ormulum.
§ 5. In the next interval, from the latter end of
ftould be so considered as much asfolgben and lened; and for the fame reason tbride, in ver. 3, and base, in ver. 6 and 7,
arc to be pronounced as-consisting of two syllables. It is
the more extraordinary thatnelther HickesnorWaniey should have perceived that Ormin wrote in metre, as he himself mentions his having added words for the fake oiJUUng his rbyrnt or •verse, for he calls it by both those names in the following passages;
Ic hafe sett her o this hock among Godspelles wordei
All thurh me selfcn miiiig word, tlie rhyme swa to Jitters ■■■
And ic ne mihte noht min fen ay with Godspellet word«(», ,
Vfe,\\Jilten all, and all forthi sholdc ic well tifte nede
Among Godspelles wordes don min word, vainfert to-jWfw—
It is scarce necessary to remark that rhyme is here to be understood in its original fense, as denoting the whole verse, and not merely the consonancy of the final syllables. In the second quotationyirj or njersc, is substituted for it as a synonymous term. Indeed I doubt whether in the time of Ormin the word rhyme was, in any language, used singly to convey the idea of consonant terminations.
[Si) A large extract from this poem has been printed by Hickes, [Gram. Aug. Sax. c. xxiv. p. 22:,] but evidently from yery incorrect mss. It begins thus j
ic am nu elder tbanne ic wei
A wintre and ec a lore;
Ic ealdi more tbanne ic dede,
Mi wit ughte to bi more.
the reign of Henry III. to the middle of the four-* tcenth century, when we may suppose Chaucer was beginning to write, the number of English rhymersseems to have increased very much. Besides several whole names we know (54), it is probable that a great part of the anonymous authors, or rather translators (ij), of the popular poems which (from their
(54) Robert of Gloucester and Robert of Erunnc have been
mentioned already. To these may be added Richard Rolle,
the hermit of Hampole, who died in 1 349, after having com-* posed a large quantity of English rhymes. See Tanner, Bib. Brit, art, Hampole.- -Laurence Minot, who has left a collection of poems upon the principal events of the former parts of the reign of Edward III. mf. Cotton, Galba. E. ix.— Within the fame period flourished the two poets who are mentioned with great commendations by Robert of Brnnne tApp, to Pref. a> Peter Langs, p. xcix,] under the names of Erceldoun and of Kendale. We have no memorial, that I know, remaining of the latter besides thin passage ; but the former I take to have been the famousThonias Leirrnouth ofErceldoun, (orErfiJton, as it is now called, in the shire of Merch) who lived in the time ot Edward I. and is generally distinguished by the honourable addition of The Rhymour. As the learned editt r of Ancient Scottish poems, Edinburgh 1770, has for irrefragable reasons deprived this Thomas of a prophesy in verse which had usually been ascribed to him, [SceMacL'nzic, art. Thomas Rhymour^ I am inclined to make h'ro some amends, by attributing to him a romance of SirTriltrem, of which. Robert of Brunne, aft excellent judge! (in the place above cited) fays,
Over genet It h?s th'esteem , Overall that »t <*r was.
If men it sayd u* iii..^^ Themis.
(55) See Dr. Percy's curious Catalogue of English metrical romances, prefixed to the third volume of Relicjues of Ancient Poesy. I am inclined to believe that we have no Englilh romance prior to the aye of Chaucer which is not a translation havingbeen originally written in the Rotr.an or French; language} were called -Romanes* flourished about this
or imitation of some earlier Trench romance. Tlie principal of those which being built upon Eugiiih stories bid the fairest for having been originally composed in Englilh are also extant in French. A considerable fragment of Horncluld ^or Dan Horn, a& he is there called) is to, he kmnd in Frencli alexandrine* in inf. Hark 527. The first part of Guy of Warwick is in French» iE the octosyllable metre,, in vaX.Mavl. 37 75, and the last part in the same language and metre in ms. Bib. Reg. b F. ix. How much may be wanting I have not, had opportunity to examine. I have never seen Bcvi^ia French; but Du Fresnoy.in, hisBiblfotb. aej RoiiLins+t* H p. 2 4.J, mentions a mf. of Le Ro-. man dz BciL'ves dt Hantannc, and. another of Le Roman de Bett', \>a e.t Rostaitey m rime; and the Italians, who were certainly, mure likely to borrow from the French-than from the Englilh, Unguage^had got an:.ong them., a romance di Bno*vo d*AntOn r.a% before the year 1348- fhudrh, Storia diUa Poefta».t. vi, p. 542.?—Uwwverf I think it,extremely probable that these three romances, though* originally written in French, were composed in England, and perhapsb£ EngUtfunen, for we find that the general currency*)!! tjrejfrench language heref engaged several of our own countrymen1 to use in it in their compositions. Peter of Langtoft maybe reckoned a dubieus instance, as he is said by some to have been a Frenchman; but Robert A^rolscteste, the famous Bishop of Lincoln in the timtf of Henry if 1. was a native of -Suffolk'; and yet he wrote h« Bbajleaii d* Amours and his Mnnaei dts 1'ecben in French* [Tamer'i Bib. Brit, and Hearm*s Prtf. n» .Rob.'ofGloucester\ p. 5SO—'—There is a- translation oP-Cato in French verse by Helisde Ouinceftre, r. r."Winchester, "ms. Mrr/;-4j89, and a romance also in French verse, which I suppose to berlie original of the Englilh Ipomedon [Percy** Cat. n. 22,] by Hue de R6telande, is to be found in ms. Cotton, fefp. A. vis.TMA French dialogue in verse, ms. Bod. 3904, entitled Lafleinttfar entre mis Sire Henry de LacyCounte de Michole et Sire U'auter de By folcfivartb far la croi/erie en la ttvrc Ssintct was most probably