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The godness myht y never telle,
That with kyng Edward was:
In uch bataille thou hadest prys;
That ever wes, ant ever ys.
*** Here follow in the original three lines more, which, as seemingly redundant, we chuse to throw to the bottom of the page, viz.
That lasteth ay withouten ende,
Bidde we God, ant oure Ledy to thilke blisse
AN ORIGINAL BALLAD BY CHAUCER.
This little sonnet, which hath escaped all the editors of Chaucer's works, is now printed for the first time from an ancient MS. in the Pepysian library, that contains many other poems of its venerable author. The versification is of that species, which the French call Rondeau, very naturally Englished by our honest countrymen Round 0. Though so early adopted by them, our ancestors had not the honour of inventing it: Chaucer picked it up, along with other better things, among the neighbouring nations. A fondness for laborious trifles hath always prevailed in the dark ages of literature. The Greek poets have had their wings' and 'axes :' the great father of English poesy may therefore be pardoned one poor solitary Rondeau.—Geofrey Chaucer died Oct. 25, 1400, aged 72.
Upon my trouth I sey yow feithfully,
Youre two eyn, &c.
II. 1. So hath youre beauty fro your herte chased Pitee, that me n'availeth not to pleyn; For daunger halt your mercy in his cheyne.
2. Giltless my deth thus have ye purchased; I sey yow soth, me nedeth not to fayn: So hath your beaute fro your herte chased.
Alas, that nature hath in yow compassed
So hath youre beaute, &c.
He may answere, and sey this and that,
Love hath my name i-strike out of his sclat,
Syn I fro love escaped, &c.
IV. THE TURNAMENT OF TOTTENHAM: OR, THE WOOEING, WINNING, AND WEDDING OF TIBBE, THE
REEV'S DAUGHTER THERE. It does honour to the good sense of this nation, that while all Europe was captivated with the bewitching charms of Chivalry and Romance, two of our writers in the rudest times could see through the false glare that surrounded them, and discover whatever was absurd in them both. Chaucer wrote his
Rhyme of sir Thopas' in ridicule of the latter; and in the following poem we have a humorous burlesque of the former. Without pretending to decide, whether the institution of chivalry was upon the whole useful or pernicious in the rude ages, a question that has lately employed many good writers, it evidently encouraged a vindictive spirit, and gave such force to the custom of duelling, that there is little hope of its being abolished. This, together with the fatal consequences which often attended the diversion of the Tournament, was sufficient to render it obnoxious to the graver part of mankind. Accordingly, the Church early denounced its censures against it, and the State was often prevailed on to attempt its suppression. But fashion and opinion are superior to authority; and the proclamations against tilting were as little regarded in those times, as the laws against duelling are in these. This did not escape the discernment of our poet, who easily perceived that inveterate opinions must be attacked by other weapons, besides proclamations and censures; he accordingly made use of the keen one of ridicule. With this view he has here introduced, with admirable humour, a parcel of clowns, imitating all the solemnities of the tourney. Here we have the regular challenge—the appointed day—the lady for the prize—the formal preparations—the display of armour—the scutcheons and devices—the oaths taken on entering the lists -the various accidents of the encounter—the victor leading off the prize, and the magnificent feasting,—with all the other solemn fopperies that usually attended the pompous Tournament. And how acutely the sharpness of the author's humour must have been felt in those days, we may learn, from what we can perceive of its keenness now, when time has so much blunted the edge of his ridicule.
1 This, MS._2 See [Mr. Hurd's] Letters on Chivalry, 8vo. 1762. Memoirs de la Chevalerie, par M. de la Curne des Palais, 1759, 2 tom. 12mo. &c.
• The Turnament of Tottenham' was first printed from an ancient MS. in 1631, 4to, by the rev. Whilhem Bedwel, rector of Tottenham, who was one of the translators of the Bibie, and afterwards Bishop of Kilmore in Ireland, where he lived and died, with the highest reputation of sanctity, in 1641. He tells us, it was written by Gilbert Pilkington, thought to have been some time parson of the same parish, and author of another piece, intitled, “Passio Domini Jesu Christi.' Bedwell, who was eminently skilled in the oriental and other languages, appears to have been but little conversant with the ancient writers in his own, and he so little entered into the spirit of the poem he was publishing, that he contends for its being a serious narrative of a real event, and thinks it must have been written before the time of Edward III, because Tournaments were prohibited in that reign. 'I do verily beleeve,' says he,
that this Tournament was acted before this proclamation of K. Edward. For how durst any to attempt to do that, although in sport, which was so straightly forbidden, both by the civill and ecclesiasticall power? For although they fought not with lances, yet, as our authour sayth, “ It was no childrens game.” And what would have become of him, thinke you, which should have slayne another in this manner of jeasting? Would he not, trow you, have been hang'd for it in earnest? yea, and have bene buried like a dogge?' It is however well known that Tournaments were in use down to the reign of Elizabeth.
In the first editions of this work, Bedwell's copy was reprinted here, with some few conjectural emendations; but as Bedwell seemed to have reduced the orthography at least, if not the phraseology, to the standard of his own time, it was with great pleasure that the Editor was informed of an ancient MS. copy preserved in the Museum [Harl. MSS. 5396.] which appeared to have been transcribed in the reign of K. Hen. VI. about 1456. This obliging information the Editor owed to the friendship of Thomas Tyrwhitt, Esq. and he has chiefly followed that more authentic transcript, improved however by some readings from Bedwell's book. Of all thes kene conquerours to carpe it were
Of Hawkyn, of Herry,
And stalworth in dede.
It befel in Totenham on a dere day,
Theder com al the men of the contray,
Ther hopped Hawkyn,
And all were trewe drynkers.
Tyl the day was gon and evyn-song past,
21 And sayd, 'Randol the refe, a dozter thou hast, Tyb the dere:
Therfor faine wyt wold I,
25 Were best worthye
To wed hur to hys fere.'
Upstyrt thos gadelyngys wyth ther lang staves,
Then sayd Perkyn, “To Tybbe I have hyzt
Or elles yet to morn.'
Then sayd Randolfe the refe, 'Ever be he waryd,
Therfor a Turnament schal begynne