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This was done, and the first course being announced with trumpets, pipes, and tabours, the ambassadors beheld with horror the heads of their unhappy countrymen with the fatal scroll affixed on each. The tears ran down their eyes for the loss of their friends, and filled with dismay, they rued the time that they ventured into the hero's presence.
Kynge Rycharde bebelde them well
They answered hym neuer a worde.
Men brought brede without boost
For I ne wolde for no thynge
For to mysdo messengers. The king, having thus apologized for what had happened, which he attributed to his ignorance of their taste, and having promised to grant them a safe return to the Soldan, then addressed one of their number thus :
Kynge Rycharde spake to an olde man
Tyll they be eten euery chone.
other wonderful and strange adventures of King Richard in the siege of Babylon* and other places; that of Jaffa being the last, the description of which is introduced with the ensuing prologue, enumerating various other romances, at that time current on the heroes of antiquity, for the sole object of shewing the manifest superiority of King Richard.
Herken now how my tale goth
Assoyle his soule, Jesu lorde. The volume concludes in the last chapter with an account “ How Kynge Rycharde was slayne before the castell gaylarde, and how the castell was wonne, and all were slayne that were therin.” At the end is the colophon as given before, and on the last page the large device of Wynken de Worde.
Mr. Weber, who reprinted this poem in his Metrical Romances, 8vo, 1810, vol. ii, from the text of the present edition, collated with the ancient MSS., remarks, that “the savage meal which Richard made upon the heads of the Saracens, and the feast he prepared for the messengers of Soliman, are omitted in the present edition.” But in this he is strangely in error, as
* Babylon here, said to be besieged by King Richard, and so frequently mentioned by the romance writers and the chroniclers of the Crusades, is Cairo or Bagdat. These cities of recent foundation were perpetually confounded with Babylon, which had been destroyed many centuries before. Geography was not much understood or cultivated at that time. - WARTON.
the reader will already have seen from our copious quotations from it, the whole of these events being related in this edition equally with the other. Mr. Ellis has given an interesting abstract of this poem in his Specimens of Early English Metrical Romances, vol. ii, p. 171, which he has chiefly taken from the MS. in the library of Caius College, Cambridge. It varies in the phraseology and events very much from the present edition, and the conclusion is altogether different. Both he and Mr. Weber are of opinion that, could a copy of the original French MS. be recovered, it would be found to have corresponded more with the genuine history of king Richard, and that the fabulous and strange stories with which it is now filled were introduced afterwards, and most probably added by some Norman minstrel at a later period. Mr. Ellis calls the English version a translation, and says, that “if merely considered as a poem, it possesses considerable merit. The verse, it is true, is generally rough and inharmonious, but the expression is often forcible, and unusually free from the drawling expletives which so frequently annoy the reader in the compositions of the minstrels. As recording many particulars of the dress, food, and manners of our ancestors, it possesses rather more claims on our curiosity than other romances of the same period, because it was compiled within a very few years of the events which it professes to describe ; indeed there are strong reasons for believing that the first French original, and even the earliest English version, contained an authentic history of Richard's reign, compiled from contemporary documents, although that history was afterwards enlarged and disfigured by numerous and most absurd interpolations."
Sir Walter Scott, in the introduction to the Talisman, has alluded to this romance, and to the extraordinary relation of cannibalism here attributed to king Richard, which he has transcribed at length from Mr. George Ellis's account of it in his edition of the Early Eng. Metr. Romances, vol. ii, p. 226, and further remarks of this poem, “The most curious register of the history of King Richard is an ancient romance, translated originally from the Norman, and at first certainly having a pretence to be termed a work of chivalry, but latterly becoming stuffed with the most astonishing and monstrous fables. There is perhaps no metrical romance upon record, where, along with curious and genuine history, are mingled more absurd and exaggerated incidents."
Warton, in his Hist. Eng. Poet., vol. i, sect. iv, pp. 162–180, and vol. iii, p. 425, 8vo edit., has given a long and interesting account of this work, with very copious extracts from it, and the reader will find much further valuable information on the subject on consulting Dibdin's Typogr. Antiq., vol. ii, p. 273; Edes Althorp, vol. i, p. 193; Hearne's Robert of Gloucester, vol. i, p. Ivii; Brit. Bibliogr., vol. i, p. 61 ; Drake's Hist. Shakesp., vol. i, p. 566; Park's Royal and Noble Authors, vol. i, p. 13, and vol. i, p. 1, edit. 1758; Percy's Reliques, vol. iii, p. 17, edit. 1812 ; Ritson's Anc. Eng. Metr. Romances, vol. i, p. Ixxxvi; Ellis's Do., vol. ii, p. 171; and Weber's Do., vol. i, p. xlv, and vol. ii, pp. 1-278.
We have already noticed the four manuscript versions of this romance known to exist, all of them unfortunately imperfect, and now preserved in public libraries; and of the printed copies of the present edition, Mr. Heber’s, which was formerly in the Lansdowne collection, sold for 25l. 148. 6d., pt. iv, No. 2443; Mr. Hibbert's do., No. 7115, for 35l. 148., and was purchased by Mr. Wilkes, and at the sale of the latter gentleman's library, in April 1847, No. 2062, brought 471. These are the only two copies which appear to have occurred for public sale. A copy of this edition, wanting the title-page, is in the Bodleian library, and another, quite perfect, was in the Harleian collection. There is a copy of the first edition by Wynkyn de Worde, in 1509, 4to, in the collection of Earl Spencer, at Althorpe, another in the British Museum, and a third in the Bodleian library. We have not been enabled to ascertain with certainty whether the usual statement of bibliographers that an edition of this romance was printed by Copland be correct, but as far as our researches have at present been made, we are greatly inclined to think that the assertion is entirely an error, arising from Warton having mistaken the Wynkyn de Worde colophon of W. C., implying that it was originally Caxton's, for the name of William Copland. Warton gives the signatures as the same which are in the edition of 1528, and the collation is repeated by Lowndes without any further information. Purfoote owned the copyright in 1568-9, and, according to Mr. Collier (Ext. Reg. Stat. Comp., p. 199), the work was reprinted as lately as 1615.
The present is a remarkably fine large clean copy, bound in Calf extra, gilt leaves, with the original very curious stamped leather sides.
RIPLEY, (George.)— The Compound of Alchymy. Or, the ancient
hidden Art of Archemie : Conteining the right and perfectest meanes to make the Philosophers Stone, Aurum potabile,