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These lines, which he calls a "specimen of English poetry, apparently of the same age" (the latter part of the 12th century), Ritson says are preserved by Benedictus Abbas, by Hoveden, and by the Chronicle of Lanercost; and he professes to give them, and the account by which they are introduced, from " the former," by which he means the first of the three. But in truth the verses do not occur as he has printed them in any of the places to which he refers. Benedictus Abbas (p. 622) has two versions of them, the second of which he introduces by the word "rectius" (more correctly); there is a third in the printed Hoveden; what Ritson has mistaken for the Lanercost Chronicle is an imperfect manuscript of Hoveden (Cotton MS. Claud. D. vii. fol. 101) in which they occur very nearly as printed in his Hoveden by Savile—the only difference of any importance being, that the MS. has in the fourth line "bi leue," whereas Savile (both in the London edition 1596, fol. 386 r°, and in the Francfort edition 1601, p. 678) has "bi seue." Ritson's transcript is evidently taken either from the manuscript or the printed Hoveden; it is quite unlike either of the versions given by Benedictus. But it is a very inaccurate transcript: to pass over minor variations, all the four originals, for instance, have " sal" or "sale" before "into Yrland" in the third line; and the last line stands nowhere as Ritson has given it:—in the first copy in Benedictus it is, "The thirde in hayre haughen hert alle ydreghe;" in the second it is, "The thride in hire athen hert alle wreke y-dreghe;" in the MS. Hoveden it is "The thridde into airhahen herd alle Wrck y drehegen" (or perhaps "drehegea"); in the printed Hoveden it is, "The thridde into Airhahen iierd all wreke y drechegen." The line, in any of the four forms in which we have it, appears to be entirely unintelligible; and indeed the verses are manifestly corrupt throughout, although a sort of sense may be made out of most of the others. "Puille" is Apulia j and the "wreke" in the last line may have something to do with a law about wrecks which both Benedict and Hoveden immediately go on to state that Richard proclaimed at this time, A.d. 1190, after his successful military operations against King Tancred in Sicily and Calabria (or Apulia); but what is "Airhahen?" or where, can any one tell, is the town of "Here," of which Ritson and others who quote or refer to the verses speak so familiarly? Over this name the second version in Benedict has the word "Host" printed, with a point of interrogation, as if intended for a gloss. But the most remarkable circumstance of all is, that there is no ground at all for supposing, as is done by Ritson and Sir Frederick Madden, that the verses were ever inscribed or set up upon any house at "Here" or elsewhere. What is said both by Benedict and Hoveden (who employ nearly the same words) is simply that the figure of a hart was set up upon the pinnacle of the house, in order, as was believed, that the prophecy contained in the verses might be accomplished—which prophecy, we are told immediately before, had been found engraven in ancient characters upon stone tables in the neighbourhood of the place. It is clearly intended to be stated that the prophecy was much older than the building of the house, and the erection of the figure of the stag, in the year 1190. This is sufficiently conveyed in Ritson's own translation. What he means, therefore, by saying, "As the inscription was set up when the house was built, before the death of Henry the Second, in 1189," is not obvious. Benedict says that the house was built by Ranulfus, or Ralph (not " Randal," as Ritson translates it) Fitzstephen (Ranulfo, filio Stephani); Hoveden, by William; which latter Ritson, we do not know upon what authority, intimates is the correct name. Both chroniclers state that the place, which was a royal town (villam regis Anglitz), had been given to Fitzstephen by King Henry, that is, probably, Henry II., as Ritson assumes; but this, we repeat, determines nothing as to the age of the verses, which were, or were supposed to be, of much earlier date than either the erection of the house or the grant of the property. They seem, indeed, as far as can be judged from the corrupt state in which they have come down to us, to be rather Saxon than English.
The metrical translation of Wace's Brut by Layamon, Lazamon, or Lajamon, and the Scriptural paraphrase of Orm, have been already noticed; they also may both be considered as Saxon, although exhibiting that language in a very corrupt and dilapidated state.
METRICAL LEGENDS.—LAND OP COKAYNE.—GULDEVORD. —WILLE GRIS.—EARLY ENGLISH SONGS.
With regard again to the metrical Saints' legends, and the other pieces which have been assigned by Hickes and Warton to the twelfth century, it is in the highest degree probable, as already remarked, that no one of them belongs to an earlier period than the latter part of the thirteenth, and that some of them are not even of that antiquity. It is impossible, for instance, to believe that the celebrated satirical poem on the "Land of Cokayne," which Warton says "was evidently written soon after the Conquest, at least before the reign ot Henry the Second," can, in the form in which we have it, be older than the year 1800. It is very possibly not so ancient by a hundred years.
This poem, which he takes to be a translation (we suppose, from the French),* is reprinted entire by Ellis (Specimens of Early English Poets, 4th edit. vol. i. pp. 83—95); and abundant samples of the other fugitive and anonymous poetry which has been attributed to the same age, but the true date of which is in many cases equally doubtful, may be found in Hickes and in Warton. The latter gives ?a few lines of one of the poems of John de Guldevord; which he affirms to be "not later than Richard the First." The manuscript in which it is preserved, belonging to Jesus College, Oxford, he describes in a note as "perhaps written in the reign of Henry the Sixth." Ititson, however, who has given a further account of Guldevord in his 'Bibliotheca Poetica' (pp. 5, 6), asserts that a manuscript in the Cotton collection (Cal. A. ix.) containing some of his poetry is of the thirteenth century. The Biblical History, extracted from the Books of Genesis and Exodus, and the translation of the Psalms, from which Warton has given extracts, are probably at least as old as the verses attributed to Guldevord; Warton refers both to the reign of Henry the Second or Richard the First.
* "A French fabliau, bearing a near resemblance to this poem, and possibly the production upon which the English minstrel founded his song, has been published in the new edition of Barbazan's Fabliaux et Conies, Paris, 1808, vol.iv. p. 175." Note btj Price to Warton, Hist. Eng. Poet. i. 12.
As we have had occasion to show that there is no authority in the Lanercost Chronicle for one specimen of early verse cited thence by Ritson, we may here insert a couplet therein given under the year 1244, which we believe has not been hitherto noticed. A Norfolk peasant boy, named William, had left his father's house and set out to seek his fortune, with no companion or other pos session but a little pig (porcellus), whence the people used to call him Willy Grice; but having in his wanderings in France met with a rich widow, whom he wooed and wed, he became in the end a great man in that country: still he piously remembered his early life of poverty and vagrancy, and, among the other ornaments of one of the apartments of his fine house, to which he used to retire every day for an hour's meditation and selfcommunion, he had himself pictured, leading the pig as he used to do with a string, with this superscription in his native tongue:—
Wille Gris, Wille Gris!
Thinche twat you was, and qwat you es
Some of our earliest songs that have been preserved
undoubtedly belong to about the middle of the thirteenth
century. The well-known lines beginning "Sumeris
i-cumen in," first printed by Sir John Hawkins in his
'History of Music' (ii. 93), being the oldest English
song that has been found with the musical notes annexed,
are probably of this antiquity; and so may some of the
other pieces which Warton has quoted from another of
the Harleian MSS. (2253). But the compositions of this
kind of most certain date are some referring to the public
events of the day, and evidently written at the time;
such as the ballad about the battle of Lewes (fought in