صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

time, and brought with them compositions which found favour and excited emulation, or at least imitation, in our vernacular genius. Hence came a great swarm of romances, all more or less derived from the French, even when Saxon in subject and style; such as “Sir Tristrem,' (which Sir Walter Scott tried in vain to prove to be written by the famous Thomas the Rhymer, of Ercildoun, or Earlston, in Berwickshire, who died before 1299 ;)

The Life of Alexander the Great,' said to be written by Adam Davie, Marshall of Stratford-le-Bow, who lived about 1312; 'King Horn,' which certainly belongs to the latter part of the thirteenth century; "The Squire of Low Degree; ' Sir Guy;' 'Sir Degore; ' "The King of Tars; ' 'King Robert of Sicily;' 'La Mort d'Arthur;' 'Impodemon;' and, more lately, “Sir Libius; ''Sir Thopas; ''Sir Isenbras;'"Gawan and Gologras;' and Sir Bevis.' Richard I. also formed the subject of a very popular romance. We give extracts from it:

[ocr errors]

THE SOLDAN SALADIN SENDS KING RICHARD A HORSE.

“Thou sayst thy God is full of might:
Wilt thou grant with spear and shield,
To detryve the right in the field,
With helm, hauberk, and brandës bright,
On strongë steedës good and light,
Whether be of more power,
Thy God almight, or Jupiter ?
And he sent me to sayë this
If thou wilt have an horse of his,
In all the lands that thou hast gone
Such ne thou sawest never none:
Favel of Cyprus, ne Lyard of Prys,
Be not at need as he is ;
And if thou wilt, this samë day,
He shall be brought thee to assay.'
Richard answered, 'Thou sayest well
Such a horse, by Saint Michael,
I would have to ride upon.-
Bid him send that horse to

me,
And I shall assay what he be,
If he be trusty, withoutë fail,

I keep none other to me in battail.' \ 'Favel of Cyprus, ne Lyard of Prys:' Favel of Cyprus, and Lyard of Paris, horses of Richard's.

The messengers then homë went,
And told the Soldan in present,
That Richard in the field would come him unto :
The rich Soldan bade to come him unto
A noble clerk that couldë well conjure,
That was a master necromansour :
He commanded, as I you tell,
Thorough the fiendë's might of her?,
Two strong fiendës of the air,
In likeness of two steedës fair,
Both like in hue and hair,
As men said that there were:
No man saw never none sich;
That one was a mare iliche,
That other a colt, a noble steed,
Where that he were in any mead,
(Were the knight never so bold,)
When the mare neigh wold,
(That him should hold against his will,)
But soon he wouldë go her till,
And kneel down and suck his dame,
Therewith the Soldan with shame
Shouldë king Richard quell,
All this an angel 'gan him tell,
That to him came about midnight.

Awake,' he said, 'Goddis knight :
My Lord doth thee to understand
That thee shalt come an horse to land,
Fair it is, of body ypight,
To betray thee if the Soldan might;
On him to ride have thou no drede

For he thee helpë shall at need.'
The angel gives king Richard several directions about managing this

rnal horse, and a general engagement ensuing, between the Chri an and Saracen armies,

He leapt on horse when it was light;
Ere he in his saddle did leap
Of many thingës he took keep.-
His men brought them that he bade,
A square tree of forty feet,
Before his saddle anon he it set,
Fast that they should it brase, &c.
Himself was richëly begone,
From the crest right to the tone,

i Tone;' toes.

3

He was covered wondrously wele
All with splentës of good steel,
And there above an hauberk.
A shaft he had of trusty werk,
Upon his shoulders a shield of steel,
With the libards' painted wele;
And helm he had of rich entaile,
Trusty and true was his ventaile:
Upon his crest a dovë white,
Significant of the Holy Sprite,
Upon a cross the dovë stood
Of gold ywrought rich and good,
Goda himself, Mary and John,
As he was done the rood upon,
In significance for whom he fought,
The spear-head forgat he nought,
Upon his shaft he would it have
Goddis name thereon was grave;
Now hearken what oath he sware,
Ere they to the battaile went there:
'If it were so, that Richard might
Slay the Soldan in field with fight,
At our willë evereachone
He and his should gone
Into the city of Babylon;
And the king of Macedon
He should have under his hand ;
And if the Soldan of that land
Might slay Richard in the field
With sword or spearë under shield,
That Christian men shouldë go
Out of that land for evermo,
And the Saracens their will in wold.'
Quoth king Richard, “Thereto I hold,
Thereto my glove, as I am knight.'
They be armed and ready dight:
King Richard to his saddle did leap,
Certes, who that would takë keep
To see that sight it werë sair ;
Their steedës rannë with great ayre,4
All so hard as they might dyre,
After their feetë sprang out fire :
Tabors and trumpettës 'gan blow :

1 • Libards:' leopards.—2 «God:' our Saviour.—3 As he was done the rood upon:' as he died upon the cross.—4 • Ayre:' ire.—5 Dyre:' dare.

3

There men might see in a throw
How king Richard, that noble man,
Encountered with the Soldan,
The chief was toldë of Damas,
His trust upon his marë was,
And therefor, as the book? us tells,
His crupper hungë full of bells,
And his peytrel 2 and his arsowne
Three mile men might hear the soun.
His mare neighed, his bells did ring,
For greatë pride, without lesing,
A falcon brode 4 in hand he bare,
For he thought he wouldë there
Have slain Richard with treasoun
When his colt should kneelë down,
As a colt shouldë suck his dame,
And he was ’warë of that shame,
His ears with wax were stopped fast,
Therefore Richard was not aghast,
He struck the steed that under him went,
And gave the Soldan his death with a dent :
In his shieldë verament
Was painted a serpent,
With the spear that Richard held
He bare him thorough under his sheld,
None of his armour might him last,
Bridle and peytrel all to-brast,
His girthës and his stirrups also,
His mare to groundë wentë tho;
Maugre her head, he made her seech
The ground, withoutë morë speech,
His feet toward the firmament,
Behindë him the

spear

outwent
There he fell dead on the green,
Richard smote the fiend with spurrës keen,
And in the name of the Holy Ghost
He driveth into the heathen host,
And as soon as he was come,
Asunder he brake the sheltron,
And all that ever afore him stode,
Horse and man to the groundë yode,
Twenty foot on either side.

1 "The book:' the French romance. - -2 • Peytrel:' the breast-plate or breast-band of a horse.—3 « Arsowne:' saddle-bow.—4 «Falcon brode;' F. bird.5 «Sheltron;' schiltron:' soldiers drawn up in a circle.

When the king of France and his men wist
That the mast'ry had the Christian,
They waxed bold, and good heart took,

Steedës bestrode, and shaftës shook. From Sir Degore' we quote the description of a dragon, wbich Warton thinks drawn by a master :

DEGORE AND THE DRAGON.
Degorë went forth his way,
Through a forest half a day:
He heard no man, nor sawë none,
Till it past the high none,
Then heard he great strokës fall,
That it made greatë noise withal,
Full soonë he thought that to see,
To weetë what the strokes might be:
There was an earl, both stout and gay,
He was come there that samë day,
For to hunt for a deer or a doe,
But his houndës were gone him fro.
Then was there a dragon great and grim,
Full of fire and also venim,
With a wide throat and tuskës great,
Upon that knight fast ’gan he beat.
And as a lion then was his feet,
His tail was long, and full unmeet:
Between his head and his tail
Was twenty-two foot withouten fail;
His body was like a wine tun,
He shone full bright against the sun :
His eyes were bright as any glass,
His scales were hard as any brass ;
And thereto he was necked like a horse,
He bare his head up with great force :
The breath of his mouth that did out blow
As it had been a fire on lowe.1
He was to look on, as I you tell,
As it had been a fiend of hell.
Many a man he had shent,
And many a horsë he had rent.

From Davie's supposed “Life of Alexander' we extract a description of a battle, which shews some energy of genius :

1.On lowe:' in flame.

с

VOL. I.

xxxiii

« السابقةمتابعة »