صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

A BATTLE Alisander before is ryde, And many gentle a knight him myde;1 As for to gather his meinie free, He abideth under a tree : Forty thousand of chivalry He taketh in his company, He dasheth him then fast forthward, And the other cometh afterward. He seeth his knightës in mischief, He taketh it greatly a grief, He takes Bultyphala by the side, So as a swallow he 'ginneth forth glide. A duke of Persia soon he met, And with his lancë he him grett. He pierceth his breny, cleaveth his shieldë, The heartë tokeneth the yrnë; The duke fell downë to the ground, And starf? quickly in that stound: Alisander aloud then said, Other toll never I ne paid, Yet ye

shallen of mine pay, Ere I go more assay. Another lance in hand he hent, Against the prince of Tyre he went He .... him thorough the breast and thare And out of saddle and crouthe him bare, And I


for soothë thing He brake his neck in the falling.

with muchel wonder,
Antiochus hadde him under,
And with sword would his heved 4.
From his body have yreaved :
He saw Alisander the goodë gome,
Towards him swithë come,
He lete5 his prey, and flew on horse,
For to save his owen corse :
Antiochus on steed leap,
Of none woundës ne took he keep,
And eke he had fourë forde
AU ymade with spearës' ord.
Tholomeus and all his felawen?
Of this succour so weren welfawen,

1 Myde:' with.—2 ‘Bultyphal:' Bucephalus.—3 Starf:' died.—4 • Heved :' head.—5 · Lete:' left.— «Ord :' point.—7'Felawen :' fellows


[ocr errors]

Alysander made a cry hardy,
Ore tost aby aby.'
Then the knightës of Achay
Jousted with them of Araby,
They of Rome with them of Mede,
Many land,
Egypt jousted with them of Tyre,
Simple knights with richë sire :
There n'as foregift ne forbearing
Betweenë vavasour ne king;
Before men mighten and behind
Cunteck? seek and cunteck find.
With Persians foughten the Gregeys,
There was cry and great honteys. 4
They kidden" that they weren mice,
They broken spearës all to slice.
There might knight find his pere,
There lost many his distrere:6
There was quick in little thraw,?
Many gentle knight yslaw:
Many armë, many heved 8
Some from the body reaved :
Many gentle lavedy
There lost quick her amy.
There was many maim yled, 11
Many fair pensel bebled : 12
There was swordës liklaking, 13
There was spearës bathing,
Both kingës there sans doute

Be in dash'd with all their route, &c. Davie was also the author of an original poem, entitled, · Visions in Verse,' and of the ‘Battle of Jerusalem,' in which he versifies a French romance. In this production Pilate is represented as challenging our Lord to single combat !

In 1349, died Richard Rollo, a hermit, and a verse-writer. He lived a secluded life near the nunnery of Hampole in Yorkshire, and wrote a number of devotional pieces, most of them


dull. In 1350, Lawrence Minot produced some short nar1• Vavasour:' subject. 2. Cunteck:' strife.—3 Gregeys:' Greeks.—4 Honteys:' shame.—5 «Kidden:' thought.—6 • Distrere:' horse.- -7 "Little thraw:' short time.

18 • Heved:' head.—9 · Lavedy:' lady.—10 • Amy:' paramour.–11 · Yled:' led along, maimed.—12 • Many fair pensel bebled :' many a banner sprinkled with blood.–13 · Liklaking:' clashing.

very dull

rative ballads on the victories of Edward III., beginning with Halidon Hill, and ending with the siege of Guisnes Castle. His works lay till the end of the last century obscure in a MS. of the Cotton Collection, which was supposed to be a transcript of the Works of Chaucer. On a spare leaf of the MS. there had been accidentally written a name, probably that of its original possessor, Richard Chawsir.' This the getter-up of the Cotton catalogue imagined to be the name of Geoffrey Chaucer. Mr Tyrwhitt, while foraging for materials to his edition of The Canterbury Tales,' accidentally found out who the real writer was; and Ritson afterwards published Minot's ballads, which are ten in number, written in the northern dialect, and in an alliterative style, and with considerable spirit and liveliness. He has been called the Tyrtæus of his age.

We come now to the immediate predecessor of ChaucerRobert Langlande. He was a secular priest, born at Mortimer's Cleobury, in Shropshire, and educated at Oriel College, Oxford. He wrote, towards the end of the fourteenth century, a very remarkable work, entitled, “Visions of William concerning Piers Plowman.' The general object of this poem is to denounce the abuses of society, and to inculcate, upon both clergy and laity, their respective duties. One William is represented as falling asleep among the Malvern Hills, and sees in his dream a succession of visions, in which great ingenuity, great boldness, and here and there a powerful vein of poetry, are displayed. Truth is described as a magnificent tower, and Falsehood as a deep dungeon. In one canto Religion descends, and gives a long harangue about what should be the conduct of society and of individuals. Bribery and Falsehood, in another part of the poem, seek a marriage with each other, and inake their way to the courts of justice, where they find many friends. Some very whimsical passages are introduced. The Power of Grace confers upon Piers Plowman, who stands for the Christian Life, four stout oxen, to cultivate the field of Truth. These are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the last of whom is described as the gentlest of the team. She afterwards assigns him the like number of stots or bullocks, to harrow what the evangelists had ploughed, and this new horned team consists of Saint or Stot Ambrose, Stot Austin, Stot Gregory, and Stot Jerome.

Apart from its fantastic structure, 'Piers Plowman' was not only a sign of the times, but did great service in its day. His voice rings like that of Israel's minor prophets-like Nahum or Hosea—in a dark and corrupt age. He proclaims liberal and independent sentiments, he attacks slavery and superstition, and he predicts the doom of the Papacy as with a thunder-knell. Chaucer must have felt roused to his share of the reformatory work by the success of 'Piers Plowman;' Spenser is suspected to have read and borrowed from him; and even Milton, in his description of a lazar-house in ‘Paradise Lost,' had him probably in his eye. (See our last extract fromPiers.')

On account of the great merit and peculiarity of this work we proceed to make rather copious extracts.

Then 'gan I to meten? a marvellous sweven,
That I was in wilderness, I wist never where :
As I beheld into the east, on high to the sun,
I saw a tower on a loft, richly ymaked,
A deep dale beneath, a dungeon therein,
With deep ditches and dark, and dreadful of sight:
A fair field full of folk found I there between,
Of all manner men, the mean and the rich,
Working and wand'ring, as the world asketh ;
Some put them to the plough, playeden full seld,
In setting and sowing swonken 3 full hard :
And some put them to pride, &c.


Thus robed in russet, I roamed about
All a summer season, for to seek Dowell
And freyned 4 full oft, of folk that I met
If any wight wist where Dowell was at inn,
And what man he might be, of many man I asked ;
Was never wight as I went, that me wysh 5 could
Where this lad lenged, lessë or more,
Till it befell on a Friday, two friars I met

Masters of the Minors, men of greatë wit. 1: Meten:' dream. _2 •Sweven:' dream.—3 «Swonken:' toiled.—4 ‘Freyned:' inquired.—5 • Wysh :'inform.—6 • Lenged:' lived.—7. Minors:' the friars minors


I halsed them hendely, as I had learned,
And prayed them for charity, ere they passed further,
If they knew any court or country as they went
Where that Dowell dwelleth, do me to wit,
For they be men on this mould, that most widë walk
And know countries and courts, and many kinnes 3 places,
Both princes' palaces, and poor mennë's cotes,
And Dowell, and Doevil, where they dwell both.
‘Amongst us,' quoth the Minors, 'that man is dwelling
And ever hath as I hope, and ever shall hereafter.'
Contra, quod I, as a clerk, and cumsed to disputen,
And said them soothly, Septies in die cadit justus,
Seven sythes,4 sayeth the book, sinneth the rightful,
And whoso sinneth, I say, doth evil as methinketh,
And Dowell and Doevil may not dwell together,
Ergo he is not alway among you friars ;
He is other while elsewhere, to wyshen the people.
'I shall say thee, my son,' said the friar then,
“How seven sithes the saddë 6 man on a day sinneth,
By a forvisne'? quod the friar, 'I shall thee fair shew;
Let bring a man in a boat, amid the broad water,
The wind and the water, and the boatë wagging,
Make a man many time, to fall and to stand,
For stand he never so stiff, he stumbleth if he move,
And yet is he safe and sound, and so him behoveth,
For if he ne arise the rather, and raght 8 to the steer,
The wind would with the water the boat overthrow,
And then were his life lost through latches 9 of himself.
And thus it falleth,' quod the friar, ‘by folk here on earth,
The water is lik’ned to the world, that waneth and waxeth,
The goods of this world are likened to the great waves
That as winds and weathers, walken about,
The boat is liken’d to our body, that brittle is of kind,
That through the flesh, and the frailë world
Sinneth the saddë man, a day seven times,
And deadly sin doeth he not, for Dowell him keepeth,
And that is Charity the champion, chief help against sin,
For he strengtheth man to stand, and stirreth man's soul,
And though thy body bow, as boatë doth in water,
Aye is thy soulë safe, but if thou wilt thyself
Do a deadly sin, and drenchë 10 so thy soul,

1 'Halsed them hendely: saluted them kindly.—2 'Do me to wit:' make me to know.–3 Kinnes:' sorts of.—4 'Sythes:' times. -5 Wyshen:' inform, teach.6«Saddë:' sober, good.-7. Forvisne:' similitude.—8 • Raght:' reach.–9Latches:' laziness._10 • Drenchë:' drown.

« السابقةمتابعة »