صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

poet not dissimilar to him, named Robert of Gloucester. His surname is unknown, and so are the particulars of his history. We know only that he was a monk of Gloucester Abbey, that he lived in the reigns of Henry III. and Edward I., and that he translated the Legends of Geoffrey of Monmouth, and continued the History of England down to the time of Edward I. This work is wonderfully minute, and, generally speaking, accurate in its topography as well as narrative, and was of service to Selden when he wrote his Notes to Drayton's 'Polyolbion.' It is more valuable in this respect than as a piece of imagination.

He narrates the grandest events—such as the first crusaders bursting into Asia, with a sword of fire hung in the firmament before them, and beckoning them on their way—as coolly as he might the emigration of a colony of ants. Yet, although there is little animation or poetry in his general manner, he usually succeeds in riveting the reader's attention; and the speeches he puts into the mouths of his heroes glow with at least rhetorical fire. And as a critic truly remarks—'In justice to the ancient versifier, we should remember that he had still only a rude language to employ, the speech of boors and burghers, which, though it might possess a few songs and satires, could afford him no models of heroic narration. In such an age the first occupant passes uninspired over subjects which might kindle the highest enthusiasm in the poet of a riper period, as the savage treads unconsciously in his deserts over mines of incalculable value, without sagacity to discover or inplements to explore them.' We give the following extracts from Robert of Gloucester's poem

:THE SPORTS AND SOLEMNITIES WHICH FOLLOWED KING ARTHUR'S CORONATION.

The king was to his palace, tho the service was ydo,
Yled with his meinie, and the queen to her also.
For they held the old usages, that men with men were
By themselve, and women by themselve also there.
When they were each one yset, as it to their state become,
Kay, king of Anjou, a thousand knightës nome 3

Of noble men, yclothed in ermine each one 1 Tho the service was ydo:' when the service was done.—2 «Meinie:' attendants.—3 «Nome:' brought.

Of one suit, and served at this noble feast anon.
Bedwer the botyler, king of Normandy,
Nome also in his half a fair company
Of one suit for to serve of the botelery.
Before the queen it was also of all such courtesy,
For to tell all the nobley that there was ydo,
Though my tongue were of steel, me should nought dure thereto.
Women ne kept of no knight in druery,
But he were in arms well yproved, and attë least thrye.?
That made, lo, the women the chaster life lead,
And the knights the stalwarder, and the better in their deed.
Soon after this noble meat, as right was of such tide,
The knights atyled them about in eachë side,
In fields and in meadows to prove their bachlery,
Some with lance, some with sword, without villany,
With playing at tables, other attë chekere,4
With casting, other with setting,5 other in some other mannere.
And which so of any game had the mastery,
The king them of his giftës did large courtesy.
Up the alurs 6 of the castle the ladies then stood,
And beheld this noble gamë, and which knights were good.
All the three extë dayës 7 ylastë this nobley,
In hallës and in fieldës, of meat and eke of play.
These men come the fourth day before the kingë there,
And he gave them large gifts, ever as they worthy were.
Bishoprics and churches' clerks he gave some,
And castles and townës knights that were ycome.

AN OLD TRADITION. It was a tradition invented by the old fablers that giants brought the stones of Stonehenge from the most sequestered deserts of Africa, and placed them in Ireland; that every stone was washed with juices of herbs, and contained a medical power; and that Merlin, the magician, at the request of King Arthur, transported them from Ireland, and erected them in circles on the plain of Amesbury, as a sepulchral monument for the Britons treacherously slain by Hengist. This fable is thus delivered, without decoration, by Robert of Glocester :

Sir king,' quoth Merlin then, such thingës ywis
Ne be for to shew nought, but when great need is,
For if I said in bismare, other but it need were,

Soon from me he would wend, the ghost that doth me lere.'8 1 ‘Druery:' modesty, decorum.—2 Thrye:' thrice.-3. Bachlery:' chivalry, courage, or youth.—4 «Chekere:' chess.—5 « With casting, other with setting:' different ways of playing at chess. — 6 • Alurs:' walks made within the battlements of the castle.—7 Extë dayës :' high, or chief days.—8 If I should say any thing out of wantonness or vanity, the spirit which teaches me would immediately leave me.

The king, then none other n'as, bid him some quaintise
Bethink about thilk cors that so noble were and wise. 1
'Sir king,' quoth Merlin then, “if thou wilt here cast
In the honour of men, a work that ever shall ylast,
To the hill of Kylar2 send in to Ireland,
After the noble stonës that there habbet3 long ystand;
That was the treche of giants,4 for a quaintë work there is
Of stonës all with art ymade, in the world such none is.
Ne there n'is nothing that me should mydó strength adownë cast.
Stood they here, as they doth there, ever a wouldë last.'
The king somdeal to-lygh, when he heardë this tale:
“How might,' he said, “such stonës, so great and so fale,?
Be ybrought of so far land? And yet mist of were,
Me would ween that in this landë no stone to wonke n'ere.'
Sir king,' quoth Merlin,' ne make nought an idle such laughing;
For it n'is an idle nought that I tell this tiding.
For in the farrest stude of Afric giants whilë fet 8
These stonës for medicine and in Ireland them set,
While they wonenden in Ireland to make their bathës there,
There under for to bathë when they sick were.
For they would the stonës wash and therein bathe ywis;
For is no stone there among that of great virtue n'is.'
The king and his counsel rode the stonës for to fet,
And with great power of battle if any more them let.
Uther, the kingë's brother, that Ambrose hetto also,
In another namë ychosë was thereto,
And fifteen thousand men, this deedë for to do,
And Merlin for his quaintise thither went also.

ARTHUR'S INTRIGUE WITH YGERNE.
At the feast of Easter the king sent his sond,10
That they comen all to London the high men of this lond,
And the ladies all so good, to his noble feast wide,
For he shouldë crown here, for the high tide.
All the noble men of this land to the noble feast come,
And their wives and their daughtren with them many nome,

11
This feast was noble enow, and nobliche ydo ;
For many was the fair lady that ycome was thereto.
Ygerne, Gorloys' wife, was fairest of each one,

That was Countess of Cornëwall, for so fair n'as there none. i Bade him use his cunning, for the sake of the bodies of those noble and wise Britons.—2 . Kylar:' Kildare.—3 ‘Habbet;' have.—4 «The treche of giants:' "The dance of giants. The name of this collection of immense stones.—5 Myd:' with.6.Somdeal to-lygh:' somewhat d.—7'Fale:' many.—8 Giants once brought them from the furthest part of Africa.—9 · Hett:' was called.—10 « Sond:' message.-11 .Nome:' took.

[ocr errors]

The king beheld her fast enow, and his heart on her cast,
And thoughtë, though he were wise, to do folly at last.
He made her semblant fair enow, to none other so great.
The earl n'as not therewith ypayed, when he it under get.
After meat he nome his wife myda sturdy med enow,
And, without leave of the king, to his country drow.
The king sentë to him then, to byleve 3 all night,
For he must of great counsel havë some insight.
That was for nought. Would he not, the king sent yet his sond,
That he byleved at his parlement, for need of the lond.
The king was, when he n'oldë not, anguyssous and wroth.
For despite he would a-wreak be he sworë his oath,
But he come to amendëment. His power attë last
He garked, and went forth to Cornëwall fast.
Gorloys his castles a store all about.
In a strong castle he did his wife, for of her was all his doubt.
In another himself he was, for he n'oldë nought,
If cas 4 come, that they were both to death ybrought.
The castle, that the earl in was, the king besieged fast,
For he might not his gins for shame to the other cast.
Then he was there seen not, and he speddë nought,
Ygerne, the countessë, so much was in his thought,
That he nustë none other wit, ne he ne might for shame
Tell it but a privy knight, Ulfyn was his name,
That he trustë most to. And when the knight heard this,
'Sir,' he said, “I ne can wit, what rede hereof is,
For the castle is so strong, that the lady is in,
For I ween all the land ne should it myd strengthë win.
For the sea goeth all about, but entry one there n'is,
And that is up on hardë rocks, and so narrow way it is,
That there may go but one and one, that three men within
Might slay all the land, ere they come therein.
And nought for then, if Merlin at the counsel were,
If any might, he couthë the best rede thee lere.'5
Merlin was soon of sent, pled it was him soon,
That he should the best rede say, what were to don.
Merlin was sorry enow for the kingë's folly,
And natheless, “Sir king,' he said, “there may to mast'ry,
The earl hath two men him near, Brithoel and Jordan.
I will make thyself, if thou wilt, through art that I can,
Have all the formë of the earl, as thou were right he,
And Olfyn as Jordan, and as Brithoel me.'
This art was all clean ydo, that all changed they were,

1 Ypayed:' satisfied.—2 «Myd:' with.-3 Byleve:' stay.—4 Cas:' chance. 5. Lere:' teach.

They three in the others' form, the selve as it were.
Against even he went forth, nustë 1 no man that cas;
To the castle they come right as it even was.
The porter ysaw his lord come, and his most privy twei,
With good heart he let his lord in, and his men bey.
The countess was glad enow, when her lord to her come
And either other in their arms myd great joy nome.
When they to beddë come, that so long a-two were,
With them was so great delight, that between them there
Begot was the best body, that ever was in this land,
King Arthur the noble man, that ever worthy understand.
When the king's men nuste amorrow, where he was become,
They fared as wodëmen, and wendo he were ynome.3
They assaileden the castle, as it should adown anon,
They that within were, garked them each one,
And smote out in a full will, and fought myd there fone:
So that the earl was yslaw, and of his men many one,
And the castle was ynome, and the folk to-sprad there,
Yet, though they haddi all ydo, they ne found not the king there.
The tiding to the countess soon was ycome,
That her lord was yslaw, and the castle ynome.
And when the messenger him saw the earl, as him thought,
That he had so foul plow, full sore him of thought,
The countess made somedeal deol,4 for no sothness they nuste.
The king, for to glad her, beclipt her and cust.
Dame,' he said, “no sixt thou well, that les it is all this:
Ne wo'st thou well I am alive. I will thee say how it is.
Out of the castle stillëlich I went all in privity,
That none of minë men it nuste, for to speak with thee.
And when they mist me to-day, and nustë where I was,
They fareden right as giddy men, myd whom no rede n’as,
And foughtë with the folk without, and have in this mannere
Ylore the castle and themselve, and well thou wo’st I am here.
And for my castle, that is ylore, sorry I am enow,
And for my men, that the king and his power

slew.
And my power is to lute, therefore I dreadë sore,
Lestë the king us nyme here, and sorrow that we were more.
Therefore I will, how so it be, wend against the king,
And make my peace with him, ere he us to shamë bring.'
Forth he went, and het6 his men if the king come,
That they shouldë him the castle yield, ere he with strength it nome.
So he come toward his men, his own form he nome,
And leaved the earl's form, and the king Uther become.

1 'Nustë:' knew.—2 «Wend:' thought.—3 «Ynome:' taken.—4 •Deol:' grief. -5 Nyme:' take.—O. Het:' bade.

« السابقةمتابعة »