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[The Siege of Antioch.]

Tho wend forth this company, with mony a noble


And won Tars with strength, and syth Toxan.
And to yrene brig from thannen! they wend,
And our lord at last to Antioch them send,
That in the beginning of the lond of Syrie is.
Anon, upon St Lucus' day, hither they come, i wiss,
And besieged the city, and assailed fast,
And they within again' them stalwartly cast.

So that after Christmas the Saracens rede nome,2
And the folk of Jerusalem and of Damas come,
Of Aleph, and of other londs, mid great power enow,
And to succoury Antioch fast hitherward drew.
So that the Earl of Flanders and Beaumond at last
Mid twenty thousand of men again them wend fast,
And smite an battle with them, and the shrewen3

And the Christian wend again, mid the prey that they


In the month of Feverer the Saracens eftsoon Yarked them a great host (as they were y-wont to done),


And went toward Antioch, to help their kind blood,
The company of Christian men this well understood.
To besiege this castle their footmen they lete,
And the knights wend forth, the Saracens to meet;
I-armed and a-horse well, and in sixty party,4
Ere they went too far, they dealt their company.
Of the first Robert Curthose they chose to chiefentain,
And of the other the noble Duke Humphrey of Al-

Of the thrid the good Raymond; the ferth the good man
The Earl of Flanders they betook; and the fifth than
They betook the bishop of Pody; and the sixth, tho
The good Tancred and Beaumond, tho ner there namo.5
These twae had the maist host, that as standard was

For to help their fellows, whan they were were.6 This Christian and this Saracens to-gather them soon met,

And as stalwart men to-gather fast set,

And slew to ground here and there, ac the heathen side
Wax ever wersh7 and wersh of folk that come wide.
So that this Christianmen were all ground ney.
Tho Beaumond with his host this great sorrow y-sey,
He and Tancred and their men, that all wersh were,
Smite forth as noble men into the battle there,
And stirred them so nobly, that joy it was to see ;
So that their fellows that were in point to flee,
Nome to them good heart, and fought fast enow.
Robert first Curthose his good swerd adrew,
And smote ane up the helm, and such a stroke him gave,
That the skull, and teeth, and the neck, and the
shouldren he to-clave.

The Duke Godfrey all so good on the shouldren smote


And forclave him all that body to the saddle anon. The one half fell adown anon, the other beleved still In the saddle, theigh it wonder were, as it was God's will; This horse bear forth this half man among his fellows

each one,

And they, for the wonder case, in dread fell anon. What for dread thereof, and for strength of their fon," More joy than there was, nas never i-see none.

In beginning of Lent this battle was y-do, And yet soon thereafter another there come also. For the Saracens in Paynim yarked folk enow, And that folk, tho it gare was,9 to Antioch drew. Tho the Christians it underget, again they wend fast, So that they met them, and smit an battle at last.

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Ac the Christians cried all on God, and good earnest nome,

And, thorough the grace of Jesus Christ, the Paynims they overcome,

And slew to ground here and there, and the other flew



So that at a narrow brig there adrent' mony one.
twelve princes there were dead,
That me cleped amirals, a fair case it was one
The Christians had of them of armour great won,
Of gold and of silver eke, and thereafter they nome
The headen of the hext masters, and to Antioch come,
And laid them in engines, and into the city them cast:
Tho they within i-see this, sore were they aghast ;
That their masters were aslaw, they 'gun dread sore,
And held it little worth the town to wardy more.
A master that was within, send to the Earl Beaumond,
To yielden up his ward, and ben whole and sound.
Ere his fellows were aware, he yeld him up there
The towers of the city that in his ward were.
Tho Beaumond therein was, his banner anon he let

Tho the Saracens it i-see, they were some deal in fear,
And held them all overcome. The Christians anon


And this town up this luther2 men as for nought nome,
And slew all that they found, but which so might flee,
And astored them of their treasure, as me might i-see.
Thus was the thrid day of June Antioch i-nome,
And, as all in thilk side, the Saracens overcome.

[Description of Robert Curthose.]

He was William's son bastard, as I have i-said ere i-lome,3

And well i-wox4 ere his father to Englond come. Thick man he was enow, but he nas well long, Quarrys he was and well i-made for to be strong. Therefore his father in a time i-see his sturdy deed,6 The while he was young, and byhuld, and these words said,

By the uprising of God, Robelin, me shall i-see, Curthose my young son stalward knight shall be.' For he was some deal short, he cleped him Curthose, And he ne might never eft afterward thilk name lose. Other lack had he nought, but he was not well long; He was quaint of counsel and of speech, and of body strong.

Never yet man ne might, in Christendom, ne in Paynim,

In battle him bring adown of his horse none time.

In the list of Rhyming Chroniclers, Robert of Gloucester is succeeded by ROBERT MANNING, a Gilbertine canon in the monastery of Brunne or Bourne, in Lincolnshire (therefore usually called Robert de Brunne), who flourished in the latter part of the reign of Edward I., and throughout that of Edward II. He translated, under the name of a Handling of Sins, a French book, entitled Manuel des Pêches, the composition of William de Wadington, in which the seven deadly sins are illustrated by legendary stories. He afterwards translated a French chronicle of England, which had been written by Peter de Langtoft, a contemporary of his own, and an Augustine canon of Bridlington in Yorkshire. Manning has been characterised as an industrious, and, for the time, an elegant writer, possessing, in particular, a great command of rhymes. The verse adopted in his chronicle is shorter than that of the Gloucester monk, making an approach to the octosyllabic stanza of modern times. The following is one of the most spirited passages, in reduced spelling:

1 Were drowned. 2 Wicked. 3 Frequently before. 4 Grown. $ Square. • Seeing his sturdy doings.

[The interview of Vortigern with Rowen, the beautiful
Daughter of Hengist.]

Hengist that day did his might,
That all were glad, king and knight.
And as they were best in glading,

And well cup-shotten, knight and king,
Of chamber Rowenen so gent,
Before the king in hall she went.
A cup with wine she had in hand,
And her attire was well farand.2
Before the king on knee set,
And in her language she him gret3
'Laverd4 king, wassail !' said she.
The king asked, What should be.
On that language the king ne couth5
A knight her language lerid in youth,
Bregh hight that knight, born Breton,
That lerid the language of Saxon.
This Bregh was the latimer,6
What she said told Vortiger.
"Sir,' Bregh said, Rowen you greets,
And king calls and lord you leets.7
This is their custom and their gest,
When they are at the ale or feast,
Ilk man that loves where him think,
Shall say, Wassail! and to him drink.
He that bids shall say, Wassail!
The tother shall say again, Drinkhail!
That says Wassail drinks of the cup,
Kissing his fellow he gives it up.
Drinkhail he says, and drinks thereof,
Kissing him in bourd and skof.'

The king said, as the knight gan ken,8
'Drinkhail,' smiling on Rowenen.
Rowen drank as her list,9

And gave the king, syne him kissed.
There was the first wassail in dede,
And that first of fame gaed.10

Of that wassail men told great tale,
And wassail when they were at ale,
And drinkhail to them that drank,
Thus was wassail ta'en to thank.
Fell sithes that maiden ying
Wassailed and kissed the king.
Of body she was right avenant,
Of fair colour with sweet semblant.
Her attire full well it seemed,
Mervelik the king she queemed.12
Of our measure was he glad,
For of that maiden he wax all mad.
Drunkenness the fiend wrought,
Of that paen 13 was all his thought.
A mischance that time him led,
He asked that paen for to wed.
Hengist would not draw o lite,
Bot granted him all so tite.
And Hors his brother consented soon.
Her friends said, it were to done.
They asked the king to give her Kent,
In dowery to take of rent.

Upon that maiden his heart was cast;
That they asked the king made fast.
I ween the king took her that day,
And wedded her on paen's lay.14

He loved peace at his might;
Peaceable men he held to right.
His lond Britain he yodel throughout,
And ilk country beheld about,
Beheld the woods, water, and fen,
No passage was maked for men,
No high street through countrie
Ne to borough ne city.

Through muris, hills, and vallies,
He made brigs and causeways,
High street for common passage,
Brigs o'er waters did he stage.
The first he made he called it Fosse;
Throughout the land it goes to Scoss.
It begins at Tottenness,

And ends unto Catheness.
Another street ordained he,

And goes to Wales to Saint Davy.
Two causeways o'er the lond o-bread,
That men o'er-thort in passage yede.
When they were made as he chese,
He commanded till all have peace;
All should have peace and freedame,
That in his streets yede or came.
And if were any of his
That fordid3 his franchise,
Forfeited should be all his thing,
His body taken to the king.

[Praise of Good Women.]
(From the Handling of Sins.)
Nothing is to man so dear
As woman's love in good manner.
A good woman is man's bliss,
Where her love right and stedfast is.
There is no solace under heaven,
Of all that a man may neven,4
That should a man so much glew,5
As a good woman that loveth true:
Ne dearer is none in God's hurd,6
Than a chaste woman with lovely wurd.


HE rise of Romantic Fiction in Europe has been traced to the most opposite quarters; namely, to the Arabians and to the Scandinavians. It has also been disputed, whether a politer kind of poetical literature was first cultivated in Normandy or in Provence. Without entering into these perplexing questions, it may be enough to state, that romantic fiction appears to have been cultivated from the eleventh century. downwards, both by the troubadours of Provençe and by the Norman poets, of whom some account has already been given. As also already hinted, a class of persons had arisen, named Joculators, Jongleurs, or Minstrels, whose business it was to wander about from one mansion to another, recit

[Fabulous Account of the first Highways in England.] ing either their own compositions, or those of other

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persons, with the accompaniment of the harp. The histories and chronicles, already spoken of, partook largely of the character of these romantic tales, and were hawked about in the same manner. Brutus, the supposed son of Eneas of Troy, and who is described in those histories as the founder of the English state, was as much a hero of romance 2 Breadthways. 3 Broke, destroyed.

8 Taught him.

10 Went.

11 Many times.

1 Went.

13 Pagan.

14 According to Pagan law.

4 Know.

5 Delight.

6 Family.

as of history. Even where a really historical person was adopted as a subject, such as Rollo of Normandy, or Charlemagne, his life was so amplified with romantic adventure, that it became properly a work of fiction. This, it must be remembered, was an age remarkable for a fantastic military spirit: it was the age of chivalry and of the crusades, when men saw such deeds of heroism and self-devotion daily performed before their eyes, that nothing which could be imagined of the past was too extravagant to appear destitute of the feasibility demanded in fiction. As might be expected from the ignorance of the age, no attempt was made to surround the heroes with the circumstances proper to their time or country. Alexander the Great, Arthur, and Roland, were all alike depicted as knights of the time of the poet himself. The basis of many of these metrical tales is supposed to have been certain collections of stories and histories compiled by the monks of the middle ages Materials for the superstructure were readily found in an age when anecdotes and apologues were thought very necessary even to discourses from the pulpit, and when all the fables that could be gleaned from ancient writings, or from the relations of travellers, were collected into story books, and preserved by the learned for that purpose.'*

It was not till the English language had risen into some consideration, that it became a vehicle for romantic metrical tales. One composition of the kind, entitled Sir Tristrem, published by Sir Walter Scott in 1804, was believed by him, upon what he thought tolerable evidence, to be the composition of Thomas of Ercildoun, identical with a person noted in Scottish tradition under the appellation of Thomas the Rhymer, who lived at Earlston in Berwickshire, and died shortly before 1299. If this had been the case, Sir Tristrem must have been considered a production of the middle or latter part of the thirteenth century. But the soundness of Sir Walter's theory is now generally denied. Another English romance, the Life of Alexander the Great, was attributed by Mr Warton to Adam Davie, marshall of Stratfordle-Bow, who lived about 1312; but this, also, has been controverted. One only, King Horn, can be assigned with certainty to the latter part of the thirteenth century. Mr Warton has placed some others under that period, but by conjecture alone; and in fact dates and the names of authors are alike wanting at the beginning of the history of this class of compositions. As far as probability goes, the reign of Edward II. (1307-27) may be set down as the era of the earlier English metrical romances, or rather of the earlier English versions of such works from the French, for they were, almost without exception, of that nature.

Sir Guy, the Squire of Low Degree, Sir Degore, King Robert of Sicily, the King of Tars, Impomedon, and La Mort Artur, are the names of some from which Mr Warton gives copious extracts. Others, probably of later date, or which at least were long after popular, are entitled Sir Thopas, Sir Isenbras, Garan and Gologras, and Sir Bevis. In an Essay on the Ancient Metrical Romances, in the second volume of Dr Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, the names of many more, with an account of some of them, and a prose abstract of one entitled Sir Libius, are given. Mr Ellis has also, in his Metrical Romances, given prose abstracts of many, with some of the more agreeable passages. The metrical romances flourished till the close of the fifteenth century, and their spirit affected English literature till a still later period. Many of the ballads handed down amongst the common people are supposed to have been derived from them.

* Ellis.

[Extract from the King of Tars.]

[The Soudan of Damascus, having asked the daughter of the king of Tarsus in marriage, receives a refusal. The extract intelligence, and some of the subsequent transactions. The language of this romance greatly resembles that of Robert of Gloucester, and it may therefore be safely referred to the be

describes his conduct on the return of the messengers with this

ginning of the fourteenth century.]

The Soudan sat at his dess,1
Y-served of the first mess;

They comen into the hall
To-fore the prince proud in press,
Their tale they tolden withouten lees,
And on their knees 'gan fall;

And said, 'Sire, the king of Tars
Of wicked words is not scarce,

Heathen hound he doth thee call;
And ere his daughter he give thee till
Thine heart-blood he will spill,

And thy barons all !'
When the Soudan this y-heard,
As a wood man he fared,3

His robe he rent adown ;
He tare the hair of head and beard,
And said he would her win with swerd,
By his lord St Mahoun.

The table adown right he smote,
Into the floor foot hot,4

He looked as a wild lion.
All that he hit he smote downright,
Both sergeant and knight,

Earl and eke baron.

So he fared forsooth aplight,
All a day and all a night,

That no man might him chast :5
A-morron, when it was daylight,
He sent his messengers full right,
After his barons in haste,

That they comen to his parliament,
For to hearen his judgment,

Both least and maist.6
When the parliament was playner,
Thus bespake the Soudan fier',7

And said to 'em in haste:
'Lordings,' he said, 'what to rede ?8
Me is done a great misdeed,

Of Tars the Christian king;
I bade him both lond and lede,
To have his doughter in worthy weed,
And spouse her with my ring.

And he said, withouten fail,
Erst9 he would me slay in batail,
And mony a great lording.
Ac certes10 he shall be forswore,
Or to wroth-hail that he was bore,11
But he it thereto bring.
Therefore, lordings, I have after you sent,
For to come to my parliament,

To wit of you counsail.'
And all answered with good intent,
They would be at his commandement
Withouten any fail.

And when they were all at his hest,12
The Soudan made a well-great feast,
For love of his batail.

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3 Became. 4 Did hit. He struck the floor with his foot. 5 Chasten or check. 6 Both little and great. 7 Proud. 8 What do you advise. 9 First. 10 But assuredly. 11 It shall be ill-fortune to him that he was born. 12 Order.

The Soudan gathered a host unride,1 With Saracens of muckle pride,

The king of Tars to assail.

When the king it heard that tide,
He sent about on each a-side,

All that he might of send;
Great war then began to wrack,
For the marriage ne most be take,
Of that maiden hend.2

Battle they set upon a day,
Within the third day of May,

Ne longer nold they lend.

The Soudan come with great power, With helm bright, and fair banner, Upon that king to wend.

The Soudan led an huge host,
And came with much pride and cost,
With the king of Tars to fight;
With him mony a Saracen fier',
All the fields far and near

Of helms leamed light.3

The king of Tars came also,
The Soudan battle for to do,

With mony a Christian knight.

Either host gan other assail,
There began a strong batail,

That grisly was of sight,

Three heathen again two Christian men,
And felled them down in the fen,

With weapons stiff and good.
The stern Saracens in that fight,
Slew our Christian men downright,

They fought as they were wood.

When the king of Tars saw that sight,
Wood he was for wrath aplight,

In hand he hent a spear,

And to the Soudan he rode full right,
With a dunts of much might,

Adown he 'gan him bear.

The Soudan nigh he had y-slaw,
But thirty thousand of heathen law,
Comen him for to weir;6

And brought him again upon his steed,
And holp him well in that need,

That no man might him der.7

When he was brought upon his steed,
He sprung as sparkle doth of gleed,8
For wrath and for envy.

And all that he hit he made 'em bleed,
He fared as he wold a weed,

'Mahoun help!' he 'gan cry.

Mony a helm there was unweaved,
And mony a bassinet to-cleaved,
And saddles mony empty;

Men might see upon the field,
Mony a knight dead under shield,

Of the Christian company.

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[Extract from the Squire of Low Degree.]

[The daughter of the king of Hungary having fallen into melancholy, in consequence of the loss of her lover, the squire of low degree, her father thus endeavours to console her. The passage is valuable, 'because,' says Warton, it delineates, in lively colours, the fashionable diversions and usages of ancient times.']

To-morrow ye shall in hunting fare;2
And yede,3 my doughter, in a chair;
It shall be covered with velvet red,

And cloths of fine gold all about your head,
With damask white and azure blue,

Well diapered with lilies new.

Your pommels shall be ended with gold,
Your chains enamelled many a fold,
Your mantle of rich degree,
Purple pall and ermine free.

Jennets of Spain, that ben so wight,

Trapped to the ground with velvet bright.
Ye shall have harp, sautry, and song,
And other mirths you among.

Ye shall have Rumney and Malespine,
Both Hippocras and Vernage wine;
Montrese and wine of Greek,
Both Algrade and despices eke,
Antioch and Bastard,

Pyment also and garnard;
Wine of Greek and Muscadel,

Both claré, pyment, and Rochelle,
The reed your stomach to defy,
And pots of Osy set you by.

You shall have venison y-bake,

The best wild fowl that may be take;
A leish of harehound with you to streek,7

And hart, and hind, and other like.
Ye shall be set at such a tryst,

That hart and hynd shall come to your fist,
Your disease to drive you fro,

To hear the bugles there y-blow.
Homeward thus shall ye ride,
On-hawking by the river's side,
With gosshawk and with gentle falcón,
With bugle horn and merlión.

When you come home your menzies among,
Ye shall have revel, dances, and song;

Little children, great and small,
Shall sing as does the nightingale.
Then shall ye go to your even song,
With tenors and trebles among.
Threescore of copes of damask bright,
Full of pearls they shall be pight.9
Your censors shall be of gold,
Indent with azure many a fold.
Your quire nor organ song shall want,
With contre-note and descant.
The other half on organs playing,
With young children full fain singing.
Then shall ye go to your suppér,
And sit in tents in green arbér,

8 Red coal.

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With cloth of arras pight to the ground,
With sapphires set of diamond.
A hundred knights, truly told,
Shall play with bowls in alleys cold,
Your disease to drive away;
To see the fishes in pools play,
To a drawbridge then shall ye,
Th' one half of stone, th' other of tree;
A barge shall meet you full right,
With twenty-four oars full bright,
With trumpets and with clarion,
The fresh water to row up and down.
Forty torches burning bright,
At your bridges to bring you light.
Into your chamber they shall you bring,
With much mirth and more liking.
Your blankets shall be of fustian,
Your sheets shall be of cloth of Rennes.
Your head sheet shall be of pery pight,
With diamonds set and rubies bright.
When you are laid in bed so soft,
A cage of gold shall hang aloft,
With long paper fair burníng,
And cloves that be sweet smelling.
Frankincense and olibanum,

That when ye sleep the taste may come ;
And if ye no rest can take.

All night minstrels for you shall wake.


Hitherto, we have seen English poetry only in the forms of the chronicle and the romance: of its many other forms, so familiar now, in which it is employed to point a moral lesson, to describe natural scenery, to convey satiric reflections, and give expression to refined sentiment, not a trace has as yet engaged our attention. The dawn of miscellaneous poetry, as these forms may be comprehensively called, is to be faintly discovered about the middle of the thirteenth century, when Henry III. sat on the English throne, and Alexander II. on that of Scotland. A consider able variety of examples will be found in the volumes of which the titles are given below. The earliest that can be said to possess literary merit is an elegy on the death of Edward I. (1307), written in musical and energetic stanzas, of which one is subjoined :

Jerusalem, thou hast i-lore 2

The flour of all chivalerie,
Nou Kyng Edward liveth na more,
Alas! that he yet shulde deye!
He wolde ha rered up ful heyge 3

Our baners that bueth broht to grounde;
Wel longe we mowe clepe and crie,

Er we such a kyng han y-founde!


The first name that occurs in this department of our literature is that of LAWRENCE MINOT, who, about 1350, composed a series of short poems on the victories of Edward III., beginning with the battle of Halidon Hill, and ending with the siege of Guines Castle. His works were in a great measure unknown until the beginning of the present century, when they were published by Ritson, who praised them for the ease, variety, and harmony of the versification. About the same time flourished RICHARD ROLLE, a hermit of the order of St Augustine, and doctor of divinity, who lived a solitary life near the

1 Inlaid with pearls.

Edward had intended to go on a crusade to the Holy Land. * High. 4 Call.

nunnery of Hampole, four miles from Doncaster. He wrote metrical paraphrases of certain parts of Scripture, and an original poem of a moral and religious nature, entitled The Pricke of Conscience; but of the latter work it is not certainly known that he composed it in English, there being some reason for believing that, in its present form, it is a translation from a Latin original written by him. One agreeable passage (in the original spelling) of this generally dull work is subjoined :—

[What is in Heaven.]

Ther is lyf withoute ony deth,

And ther is youthe without ony elde ;1
And ther is alle manner welthe to welde:
And ther is rest without ony travaille;
And ther is pees without ony strife,
And ther is alle manner lykinge of lyf:-
And ther is bright somer ever to se,

And ther is nevere wynter in that countrie :-
And ther is more worshipe and honour,
Then evere hade kynge other emperour.
And ther is grete melodie of aungeles songe,
And ther is preysing hem amonge.

And ther is alle manner frendshipe that may be,
And ther is evere perfect love and charite;
And ther is wisdom without folye,
And ther is honeste without vileneye.

Al these a man may joyes of hevene call:
Ac yutte the most sovereyn joye of alle
Is the sighte of Goddes bright face,
In wham resteth alle mannere grace.


The Vision of Pierce Ploughman, a satirical poem of the same period, ascribed to ROBERT Longlande, a secular priest, also shows very expressively the progress which was made, about the middle of the fourteenth century, towards a literary style. This poem, in many points of view, is one of the most important works that appeared in England previous to the invention of printing. It is the popular representative of the doctrines which were silently bringing about the Reformation, and it is a peculiarly national poem, not only as being a much purer specimen of the English language than Chaucer, but as exhibiting the revival of the same system of alliteration which characterised the Anglo-Saxon poetry. It is, in fact, both in this peculiarity and in its political character, characteristic of a great literary and political revolution, in which the language as well as the independence of the AngloSaxons had at last gained the ascendency over those of the Normans.* Pierce is represented as falling asleep on the Malvern hills, and as seeing, in his sleep, a series of visions; in describing these, he exposes the corruptions of society, but particularly the dissolute lives of the religious orders, with much bitterness.

[Extracts from Pierce Plowman.] [Mercy and Truth are thus allegorised.] Out of the west coast, a wench, as me thought, Came walking in the way, to hell-ward she looked; Mercy hight that maid, a meek thing withal, A full benign burd,2 and buxom of speech; Her sister, as it seemed, came soothly walking, Even out of the east, and westward she looked,

1 Age. 2 Burd, i. e. amaiden. *A popular edition of this poem has been recently published * Mr Thomas Wright's Political Songs and Specimens of Lyric | by Mr Wright. The lines are there divided, as we believe in Poetry composed in England in the reign of Edward I. Reliquiæ strictness they ought to be, in the middle, where a pause is Antiqua, 2 vols. naturally made.

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