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about his ears. He is dismayed and confounded: but presently hears horses neigh, and is challenged to single combat by the sorcerers. He gets to his steed: a battle ensues, with various turns of fortune : he loses his weapon ; but gets a sword from one of the Necromancers, and wounds the other with it: the edge of the sword being secretly poisoned, the wound proves mortal.
He goes up to the surviving sorcerer, who is carried away from him by inchantment : at length he finds him, and cuts off his head : he returns to the palace to deliver the lady; hut cannot find her: as he is lamenting, a window opens, through which enters a horrible serpent with wings and a woman's face: it coils round his neck and kisses him ; then is suddenly converted into a very beautiful lady. She tells him she is the Lady of Sinadone, and was so inchanted, till she might kiss Sir Gawain, or some one of his blood : that he has dissolved the charm, and that herself and her dominions
be his reward. The KNIGHT (whose descent is by this means discovered) joyfully accepts the offer; makes her his bride, and then sets out with her for King Arthur's court.
Such is the fable of this ancient piece: which the reader may observe, is as regular in its conduct, as any of the finest poems of classical antiquity. If the execution, particularly as to the diction and sentiments, were but equal to the plan, it would be a capital performance; but this is such as might be expected in rude and ignorant times, and in a barbarous unpolished language.
IV. I SHALL conclude this prolix account, with a List of such old METRICAL ROMANCES as are still extant; beginning with those mentioned by Chaucer.
1. The Romance of Horne Childe is preserved in the British Museum, where it is intitled be geste of kyng
Horne. See Catalog. Harl. MSS. 2253, p. 70. The language is almost Saxon, yet from the mention in it of Sarazens, it appears to have been written after some of the Crusades. It begins thus :
All heo ben blyþe
poem, but greatly altered, and somewhat modernized, is preserved in the Advocates Library at Edinburgh, in a MS quarto volume of old English poetry [W. 4. 1.] Num. XXXIV. in seven leaves or folios t, intitled, Horn-child and Maiden Rinivel, and beginning thus :
Mi leve frende dere,
2. The Poem of Ipotis (or Ypotis) is preserved in the Cotton Library, Calig. A. 2, fo. 77, but is rather a religious Legend, than a Romance. Its beginning is,
He þat wyll of wysdome here
3. The Romance of Sir Guy was written before that of Bevis, being quoted in it. An account of this old poem is given in this volume, Book II. No. I. To which
* i.e. May all they he blithe, that to my song listen: A song
you sing, Of Allof the good king, &c. + In each full page of this vol. are 44 lines, when the poem is in long metre : and 88, when the metre is short, and the page in two columns. * Sign. K. 2. b.
it may be added, that two complete copies in MS. are preserved at Cambridge, the one in the public library*, the other in that of Caius College, Class A. 8.In Ames's Typog. p. 153, may be seen the first lines of the printed copy.--The 1st MS. begins,
Sythe the tyme that God was borne.
4. Guy and Colbronde, an old Romance in three parts, is preserved in the Editor's folio MS. (p. 349.) . It is in stanzas of six lines, the first of which may be seen in vol. ii. p. 191, beginning thus :
When meate and drinke is great plentye.
In the Edinburgh MS. (mentioned above) are two ancient poems on the subject of Guy of Warwick : viz. Num. XVIII. containing 26 leaves, and XX. 59 leaves. Both these have unfortunately the beginnings wanting, otherwise they would perhaps be found to be different copies of one or both the preceding articles.
5. From the same MS. I can add another article to this list, viz. The Romance of Rennbrun son of Sir Guy ; being Num. XXI. in 9 leaves : this is properly a Continuation of the History of Guy: and in Art. 3, the Hist. of Rembrun follows that of Guy as a necessary part of it. This Edinburgh Romance of Rembrun begins thus :
Jesu that erst of mighte most
* For this and most of the following, which are mentioned as preserved in the Public Library, I refer the reader to the Oxon Catologue of MSS. 1697, vol. ii. p. 394 ; in Appendix to Bp. More's MSS. No. 690, 33, since given to the University of Cambridge.
Before Before I quit the subject of Sir Guy, I must observe, that if we may believe Dugdale in his Baronage, (vol. i. p. 243, col. 2.] the fame of our English Champion had in the time of Henry IV. travelled as far as the East, and was no less popular among the Sarazens, than here in the West among the Nations of Christendom. In that reign a Lord Beauchamp travelling to Jerusalem, was kindly received by a noble person, the Soldan's Lieutenant, who hearing he was descended from the famous Guy of Warwick,
“ whose story they had in books of their own language,” invited him to his palace; and royally feasting him, presented bim with three precious stones of great value ; besides divers cloaths of silk and gold given to his servants.
6. The Romance of Syr Bevis is described in this volume, Book III. No. I. Two manuscript copies of this poem are extant at Cambridge; viz. in the Public Library *, and in that of Caius Coll. Class A. 9. (5.)— The first of these begins,
Lordyngs lystenyth grete and smale.
There is also a copy of this Romance of Sir Bevis of Hamptoun, in the Edinburgh MS. Numb. XXII. consisting of 25 leaves, and beginning thus :
Lordinges herkneth to mi tale,
The printed copies begin different from both : viz.
Lysten, Lordinges, and hold you styl.
* No. 690, § 31. Vid. Catalog. MSS. p. 394.
7. Libeaux (Libeaus, or, Lybius) Disconius is preserved in the Editor's folio MS. (pag. 317.) where the first stanza is,
Jesus Christ christen kinge,
Helpe them at their neede,
A doughtye man of deede.
An older copy is preserved in the Cotton Library [Calig. A. 2. fol. 40.] but containing such innumerable variations, that it is apparently a different translation of some old French original, which will account for the title of Le Beaux Disconus, or The Fair Unknown, The first line is,
Jesu Christ our Savyour.
As for Pleindamour, or Blandamoure, no Romance with this title has been discovered ; but as the word Blaundemere occurs in the Romance of Libius Disconius, in the Editor's folio MS. p. 319, he thought the name of Blandamoure (which was in all the editions of Chaucer he had then seen) might have some reference to this. But Pleindamour, the name restored by Mr. Tyrwhitt, is more remote.
8. Le Morte Arthure is among the Harl. MSS. 2252, § 49. This is judged to be a translation from the French ; Mr. Wanley thinks it no older than the time of Hen. VII. but it seems to be quoted in Syr Bevis, (Sign. K. ij. b.) It begins,