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wit and taste: for taste and wit had once their childhood. Although of English growth, it was early a favourite with other nations : it appeared in French in 1525 ; and is alluded to in the old Spanish romance Tirante el blanco, which, it is believed, was written not long after the year 1430. See advertisement to the French translation, 2 vols, 12mo.
The original whence all these stories are extracted is a very ancient romance in old English verse, which is quoted by Chaucer as a celebrated piece even in his time, (viz.
" Men speken of romances of price,
* Of Bevis, and sir Guy, &c. R. of Thop.) and was usually sung to the harp at Christmas dinners and brideales, as we learn from Puttenham's Art of Poetry, 4to. 1589.
This ancient romance is not wholly lost. An imperfect copy in black letter, “ Imprynted at London for
Wylliam Copland,” in 34 sheets 4to. without date, is still preserved among Mr. Garrick's collection of old plays. As a specimen of the poetry of this antique rhymer, take his description of the dragon mentioned in ver. 105 of the following ballad :
—“A messenger came to the king.
Syr king, he sayd, lysten me now,
“ His neck is great as any summere ;
“ Ywis of none never heard ye.” Sir William Dugdale is of opinion that the story of Guy is not wholly apocryphal, though he acknowledges the monks have sounded out his praises too hyperbolically. In particular, he gives the duel fought with the Danish champion as a real historical truth, and fixes the date of it in the year 926, ætat. Guy 67. See his Warwickshire.
The following is written upon the same plan as ballad V. Book I. but which is the original, and which the copy, cannot be decided. This song is ancient, as may be inferred from the idiom preserved in the margin, ver. 94. 102: and was once popular, as appears from Fletcher's Knight of the Burning Pestle, Act 2. sc. ult.
It is here published from an ancient MS copy in the Editor's old folio volume, collated with two printed ones, one of which is in black letter in the Pepys collection.
Was ever knight for ladyes sake
Soe tost in love, as I sir Guy
As ever man beheld with eye?
5 She gave me leave myself to try,
The valiant knight with sheeld and speare,
Then VOL, III.
Then proved I a baron bold,
In deeds of armes the doughtyest knight
With sworde and speare in feild to fight.
An English man I was by birthe :
In faith of Christ a christyan true:
I sought by prowesse to subdue.
• Nine' hundred twenty yeere and odde
After our Saviour Christ his birth,
I lived heere upon the earth.
Sometime I was of Warwicke erle,
And, as I sayd, of very truth
To seeke strange ventures in my youth.
In strange and sundry heathen lands;
Right dangerous conquests with my hands.
For first I sayled to Normandye,
And there I stoutlye wan in fight
From manye a vallyant worthye knight.
Ver. 9. The proud sir Guy, PC. Ver. 17. Two hundred. MS. and P.
Then passed I the seas to Greece
To helpe the emperour in his right; Against the mightye souldans hoaste
Of puissant Persians for to fight.
Where I did slay of Sarazens,
And heathen pagans, manye a man ; And slew the souldans cozen deere,
Who had to name doughtye Coldràn.
Eskeldered a famous knight
To death likewise I did pursue: And Elmayne king of Tyre alsoe,
Most terrible in fight to viewe.
I went into the souldans hoast,
Being thither on embassage sent,
I having slaine him in his tent.
There was a dragon in that land
Most fiercelye mett me by the waye As hee a lyon did pursue,
Which I myself did alsoe slay.
Then soon I past the seas from Greece,
And came to Pavye land aright : Where I the duke of Pavye killed,
His hainous treason to requite,
To England then I came with speede,
To wedd faire Phelis lady bright: For love of whome I travelled farr
To try my manhood and my might.
But when I had espoused her,
I stayd with her but fortye dayes, Ere that I left this ladye faire,
And went from her beyond the seas.
All cladd in gray, in pilgrim sort,
My voyage from her I did take
Where I erle Jonas did redeeme,
And all his sonnes, which were fifteene, Who with the cruell Sarazens
In prison for long time had beene.
I slew the gyant Amarant
In battel fiercelye hand to hand : And doughty Barknard killed I,
A treacherous knight of Pavye land.
Then I to England came againe,
And here with Colbronde fell I fought : An ugly gyant, which the Danes o
Had for their champion hither brought.