« PreviousContinue »
Itt doth not beseeme a proud harper
To stable him in a kyngs halle.” “My ladd he is so lither,” he sayd,
“ He will do nought that's meete; And aye that I cold but find the man,
205 Were able him to beate.” “ Thou speakst proud words,” sayd the paynim kyng,
- Thou harper here to mee :
210 “O lett that man come downe,” he sayd,
“A sight of him wold I see; And whan hee hath beaten well my ladd,
Then he shall beate of mee.”
Downe then came the kemperye man,
215 And looked him in the eare; For all the gold, that was under heaven,
He durst not neigh him neare. “ And how nowe, kempe,” sayd the Kyng of Spayne, “And bow what aileth thee?”.
220 He sayes, “Itt is written in his forhead
All and in gramaryè,
I dare not neigh him nye.”
And played thereon so sweete:
As hee sate at the meate.
“ Now stay thy harpe, thou proud harper,
Now stay thy harpe, I say;
Thou'lt till 5 my bride awaye.”
V. 202, to stable his steede. fol. MS. sie. entice.-Vide Gloss. For gramarye, see the end of this ballad.
He strucke upon his harpe agayne,
And playd both fayre and free;
She laught loud laughters three.
“ Thy harpe and stryngs eche one,
As there be stryngs thereon.”
“Iff I did sell it yee?”
When abed together we bee.”
As shee sitts laced in pall,
As there be rings in the hall."
250 More seemelye it is for her fayre bodye
To lye by mee than thee."
And Adler he did syng,
As playnlye thou mayest see ;
260 The ladye looked, the ladye blushte,
And blushte and lookt agayne,
And hath the Sowdan slayne. V. 253, Some liberties have been taken in the following stanzas; but wherever this edition differs from the preceding, it hath been brought nearer to the folio MS. o i.e. a tune or strain of music.—See Gloss.
Up then rose the kemperye men,
And loud they gan to crye:
And therefore yee shall dye.”
And swith he drew his brand;
Right stiffe in stour can stand.
Throughe help of Gramaryè,
Or forst them forth to flee.
And marryed her to his wiffe,
With her to leade his life.
* The word Gramarye, which occurs several times in the foregoing poem, is probably a corruption of the French word Grimoire, which signifies à conjuring-book in the old French romances, if not the art of necromancy itself.
*** Termagaunte (mentioned above in p. 43) is the name given in the old romances to the god of the Saracens : in which he is constantly linked with Mahound, or Mahomet. Thus, in the legend of Syr Guy the Soudan (Sultan) swears,
“So helpe me, Mahoune of might,
Sign. p. iij. b. This word is derived by the very learned editor of Junius from the Anglo-Saxon Tyn very, and Magan mighty. As this word has so sublime a derivation, and was so applicable to the true God, how shall we account for its being so degraded ? Perhaps Tyr-magan or Termagant had been a name originally given to some Saxon idol, before our ancestors were converted to Christianity, or had been the peculiar attribute of one of their false deities; and therefore the first Christian missionaries rejected it as profane, and improper to be applied to the true God. Afterwards, when the irruptions of the Saracens into Europe, and the Crusades into the East, had brought them acquainted with a new species of unbelievers, our ignorant ancestors, who thought all that did not receive the Christian law were necessarily Pagans and Idolaters, supposed the Mahometan creed was in all respects the same with that of their Pagan forefathers, and therefore made no scruple to give the ancient name of Termugant to the god of the Saracens; just in the same manner as they afterwards used the name of Sarazer to express any kind of Pagan or Idolater. In the ancient romance of Merline (in the Editor's folio MS.) the Saxons themselves that came over with Hengist, because they were not Christians, are constantly called Sarazens.
However that be, it is certain that, after the times of the Crusades, both Mahound and Termagaunt made their frequent appearance in the Pageants and religious Enterludes of the barbarous ages; in which they were exhibited with gestures so furious and frantic, as to become proverbial. Thus Skelton speaks of Wolsey,
6 Like Mahound in a play,
Éd. 1736, p. 158. And Bale, describing the threats used by some Papist magistrates to his wife, speaks of them as “grennyng upon her lyke Termagauntes in a playe.” [Actes of Engl. Votaryes, pt. 2, fo. 83, ed. 1550, 12mo.] Hence we may conceive the force of Hamlet's expression in Shakspeare, where, condemning a ranting player, he says, “I could have such a fellow whipt for ore-doing Termagant: it out-herods Herod.”—A. 3. sc. 3. By degrees the word came to be applied to an outrageous turbulent person, and especially to a violent brawling woman, to whom alone it is now confined ; and this the rather, as, I suppose, the character of Termagant was anciently represented on the stage after the Eastern mode, with long robes or petticoats.
Another frequent character in the old Pageants or Enterludes of our ancestors, was the Sowdan or Soldan, representing a grim Eastern tyrant. This appears from a curious passage in Stow's Annals (p. 458). In a stage-play " the people know right well that he that plaith the Sowdain, is percase a sowter (shoe-maker], yet if one should cal him by his owne name, while he standeth in his majestie, one of his tormentors might hap to break his head.” The Sowdain, or Soldan, was a name given to any Sarazen king (being only a more rude pronunciation of the word Sultan), as the Soldan of Egypt, the Soudan of Persia, the Sowdan of Babylon, &c., who were generally represented as accompanied with grim Sarazens, whose business it was to punish and torment Christians.
I cannot conclude this short memoir without observing, that the French romancers, who had borrowed the word Termagant from us, and applied it, as we see in their old romances, corrupted it into Tervagaunte: and from them La Fontaine took it up, and has used it more than once in his tales. This may be added to the other proofs adduced in these volumes, of the great intercourse that formerly subsisted between the old minstrels and legendary writers of both nations, and that they mutually borrowed each other's romances.
A SCOTTISH BALLAD, is given from two MS. copies, transmitted from Scotland. In what age the hero of this ballad lived, or when this fatal expedition happened that proved so destructive to the Scots nobles, I have not been able to discover; yet am of opinion that their catastrophe is not altogether without foundation in history, though it has escaped my own researches. In the infancy of navigation, such as used the northern seas were very liable to shipwreck in the wintry months : hence a law was enacted in the reign of James the Third (a law which was frequently repeated afterwards), * That there be na schip frauched out of the realm with any staple gudes, fra the feast of Simons day and Jude, unto the feast of the purification of our Lady, called Candelmess.”—Jam. III., Parlt. 2, ch. 15.
In some modern copies, instead of Patrick Spence hath been substituted the name of Sir Andrew Wood, a famous Scottish admiral, who flourished in the time of our Edward IV., but whose story hath nothing in common with this of the ballad. As Wood was the most noted warrior of Scotland, it is probable that, like the Theban Hercules, he hath engrossed the renown of other heroes.
The king sits in Dumferling toune,
Drinking the blude-reid wine :
To sail this schip of mine ?”
Sat at the kings richt kne :
That sails upon the se.”
And signd it wi' his hand,
Was walking on the sand.
A loud lauch lauched he:
15 The teir blinded his ee.
1 A braid letter, i. e, open or patent; in opposition to close rolls.