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Of a knyht, that wes so strong,
Of wham God hath don ys wille ;
That he so sone shall ligge stille.
Of wham that song is, that y synge;
Zent al this world is nome con springe :
Ant in werre war ant wys,
Of Christendome he ber the prys.
He spek ase mon that wes in care,
“ Y charge ou by oure sware,
Y deze, y ne may lyven na more;
For he is nest to buen y-core.
That hit be write at my devys,
With fourscore knyhtes al of prys,
Azein the hethene for te fyhte,
Myself ycholde zef that y myhte."
That thou the counsail woldest fonde,
To wende to the Holy Londe:
All Engelond to zeme ant wysse,
To wyunen us heveriche blisse.
V. 35, kyng Edward. MS. 1 This is probably the name of the person who was to preside over this business.
The messager to the Pope com,
And seyde that our kynge was ded:
Ywis his herte was full gret:
Ant spec a word of gret honour.
Of Christendome he ber the flour."
For dol ne mihte he speke na more;
That muche couthen of Cristes lore,
Bed hem bothe rede ant synge:
Mony mon is honde wrynge.
With ful gret solempnetė,
“ Kyng Edward honoured thou be:
Bringe to ende that thou hast bygonne,
So fain thou woldest hit hav y-wonne.
The flour of al chivalrie
Alas! that he zet shulde deye!
Oure banners, that bueth broht to grounde;
Er we a such kyng han y-founde."
Kyng of Engelond al aplyht,
Then his fader, ne lasse of myht.
V. 43. ys is probably a contraction of in hys, or yn his. me, i. e. men; so in Robert of Gloucester, passim.
To holden is pore men to ryht,
And understonde good counsail,
Of gode knyhtes darh him nout fail.
Ant min herte yzote of bras,
That with Kyng Edward was :
In uch bataille thou hadest prys;
That ever wes, ant ever ys.?
2 Here follow in the original three lines more, which, as seemingly redundant, are thus appended, viz.
That lasteth ay withouten ende,
Bidde we God, ant oure Ledy to thilke blisse
III. 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.
And but your words will helen hastely
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.
i This. MS.
The Turnament of Tottenham;1
DAVGHTER 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 buth. 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 Turna. ment, 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 turnament. 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.
The Turnament of Tottenham was first printed from an ancient MS. in 1631, 4to, by the Rev. Wbilhem Bedwell, rector of Tottenham, who was one of the translators of the Bible. He tells us it was written by Gilbert Pilkington, thought to have been sometime parson of the game parish, and author of another piece, entitled Passio Domini Jesu Christi.
i It has been thought that this ballad is a burlesque upon the old feudal custom of marrying an heiress to a knight who should vanquish all his opponents, at a solemn assembly holden for that purpose. (See Gentleman's Magazine for July, 1794, p. 613.)Editor.
2 See ČMr. Hurd's] Letters on Chivalry, 8vo, 1762. Mémoire de la Chevalerie, par M. de la Curne des Palais, 1759, 2 tom. 12mo, &c.