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Thai hailsed p him ful curtaysly,
Of maidens was thar so gude wane*,
That ilka knight myght take ane.
And ilk day thai had solace sere
assembly [a great many]. Y hawking (for herons, ducks, &c.— PARK].
There are three old poems on the exploits of Gawain, one of the heroes of this romance. There is a fourth in the Scotch dialect, by Clerke of Tranent, an old Scotch poet. See Lament for the Death of the Makkaris, st. xvii. Clerke of Tranent eke has [death] tane That made the Aventers of GAWANE. Anc. Scot. P. 1576.
The two heroes of this romance, Ywain and Gawain, are mentioned jointly in a very old French version of the British or Armorican Lay of Launval, of which there is a beautiful vellum manuscript. MSS. Cott. Vespas. B. xiv. [supr. modo citat.]
Ensemble od eus GAWAYNS,
E sis cosins li beus YWAYNS. This Lay, or Song, like the romance in the text, is opened with a feast celebrated at Whitsontide by king Arthur at Kardoyl, a French corruption from Carliol, by which is meant Cairleon in Wales, sometimes in romances confounded with Cardiff. (See Geoffr. Monm. ix. 12.] “Jci commence le Lay de Launval.”
Laventure de un Lay,
A la Pentecuste en estè,
A ceus de la Table Runde, &c. That is, “Here begins the Lay of Launval.—[I will relate to you.] The Adventure of a certain Lay, made of a gentle vassal, whom in Bretaigne they called Launval. The brave and courteous king Arthur sojourned at Kardoyl, for making war against the Scots and Picts, who destroyed the country. He found them in the land of Logres, where they committed frequent outrages. The king was there at the feast of Pentecost, where he gave rich gifts to the counts and barons, and the knights of the round table," &c.
The writing of this manuscript of Launval seems about 1300. The composition is undoubtedly much earlier. There is another, MSS. Harl. 978. $ 112. This I have cited in the First Dissertation. From this French Launval is translated, but with great additions, the English Launfall, of which I have given several extracts in the Third Dissertation prefixed to the first volume. (See also supr. vol. ii. p. 323, Note A.]
I presume this romance of Ywain and Gawayne is translated from a French one of the same title, and in the reign of Henry the Sixth ; but not by Thomas Chestre, who translated, or rather paraphrased, Launval, or Sir Launfall, and who seems to have been master of a more copious and poetic style. It is not however unlikely, that Chestre translated from a more modern French copy of Launval, heightened
Logres, or Loegria, from Locrine, was the middle part of Britain. 2 counts. So in Sir Robert of Gloucester, we have Contass for countess. On which word his editor Hearne observes, that king James the First used to call a Countess a cuntys; and he quotes one of James's letters, “Come and bring the three Cuntys (for countesses) with you.” Gloss. p. 635.
The Notbrowne Mayde. Not older than the sixteenth century. Artful
contrivance of the story. Misrepresented by Prior. Metrical Romances, Guy, syr Bevys, and Kynge Apolyn, printed in the reign of Henry. The Scole howse, a Satire. Christmas Carols. Religious Libels in rhyme. Merlin's Prophecies. Laurence Minot. Occasional disquisition on the late continuance of the use of waxen tablets.
Pageantries of Henry's Court. Dawn of Taste. I FEAR I shall be pronounced a heretic to modern criticism, in retracting what I have said in a preceding page, and in placing the NoTBROWNE Mayde under some part of this reign*. Prior, who, about the year 1718, paraphrased this poem, without improving its native beauties, supposes it to have been three hundred years old. It appears from two letters preserved in the British Museum, written by Prior to Wanley, lord Oxford's librarian, that Prior consulted Wanley about this ancient ballada. It is, however, certain, that Wanley, an antiquarian of unquestionable skill and judgement in these niceties, whatever directions and information he might have imparted to Prior on this subject, could never have communicated such a decision. He certainly in these letters gives no such opinion. This is therefore the hasty con
and improved from the old simple Armo-
A grette feste thar was holde
As testymonieth thys story:
Men callys playn the GARYE.
I believe the last line means, “Made for an entertainment, -“Which men call playing the GARYE. The reader may perhaps recollect, that the old Cornish Miracle interlude was called the Guary Mirakil, that is, the Miracle Play: [See supr. vol. ii. p. 20. note. In Cornish, Plán an guare is the level place, the plain of sport and pastime, the theatre of games, &c. Guare is a Cornish verb, to sport, to play. In affinity with which, is probably garish, gay, splendid. Milton, Il Pens. v. 141. Day's garish eye. Shakspeare, Rom. and Jul. iii. 4. The garish sun. King Richard the Third, garish flag. Compare Lye, Sax. Dict. v. zearrian. To dress fine.
Who was the translator of Emare, is not known. I presume it was translated in the reign of Henry the Sixth, and very probably by Thomas Chestre, the translator of Launval.
* [i. e. the reign of Henry VIII., but Herbert says he possessed an edition which was printed about 1502, i. e. the 18th year of Henry VII.---PARK.]
a MSS. Harl. 3777.
b These letters are printed in the Additions to Pope's Works, in two volumes, published about two years ago. [Namely in 1776. This publication has been at
jecture of Prior, who thought that the curiosity which he was presenting to the world would derive proportionable value from its antiquity, who was better employed than in the petty labour of ascertaining dates, and who knew much more of modern than ancient poetry.
The Not-BROWNE Maybe first appeared in Arnolde's CHRONICLE, or Customs of London, which was first printed about the year 1521. This is perhaps the most heterogeneous and multifarious miscellany that ever existed. The collector sets out with a catalogue of the mayors and sheriffs, the customs and charters, of the city of London. Soon afterwards we have receipts to pickle sturgeon, to make vinegar, ink, and gunpowder; how to raise parsley in an hour; the arts of brewery and soap-making; an estimate of the livings in London; an account of the last visitation of saint Magnus's church ; the weight of Essex cheese, and a letter to cardinal Wolsey. The NoT-BROWNE MAYDE is introduced, between an estimate of some subsidies paid into the exchequer, and directions for buying goods in Flanders. In a word, it seems to have been this compiler's plan, by way of making up a volume, to print together all the notices and papers, whether ancient or modern, which he could amass, of every sort and subject. It is supposed, that he intended an antiquarian repertory: but as many recent materials were admitted, that idea was not at least uniformly observed; nor can any argument be drawn from that supposition, that this poem existed long before, and was inserted as a piece of antiquity.
The editor of the PROLUSIONS infers “, from an identity of rhythmus and orthography, and an affinity of words and phrases, that this poem appeared after sir Thomas More's Jest of the SERJEANT AND FREER, which, as I have observed, was written about the year 1500. This reasoning, were not other arguments obvious, would be inconclusive, and might be turned to the opposite side of the question. But it is evident from the language of the NoTBROWNE MAYDЕ, that it was not written earlier than the beginning, at least, of the sixteenth century*. There is hardly an obsolete word, or that requires a glossary, in the whole piece; and many parts of Surrey and Wyat are much more difficult to be understood. Reduce any two stanzas to modern orthography, and they shall hardly wear the appearance of ancient poetry. The reader shall try the experiment on the two following, which occur accidentally d.
That ye could nat sustayne,
The snowe, the frost, the rayne, tributed to the late George Steevens, Esq.; • Prolusions, or Select Pieces of Ancient but I heard from Mr. Isaac Reed that it Poetry, Lond. 1760. 8vo. Pref. p. vii., was culled by Baldwin from the commu- [edited by E. Capell.-PARK.] nications of Mr. Steevens in the St. James's (But might it not be modernized to Chronicle, and put forth with a preface the style of 1500, in the edition of 1521? by William Cooke, Esq.-PARK.] Herbert MS. Note.-PARK.] d V. 168.
The colde, the hete: for, dry or wete,
We must lodge on the playne ;
But a brake bush or twayne.
And ye wolde gladly than,
As men say
Where is so great plentè:
Shall be full swete to me;
I can provyde anone.
alone. The simplicity of which passage Prior has thus decorated and dilated.
ei. e. above.