Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][merged small]

Is printed verbatim from the old MS. described in the Preface. The Editor believes it more ancient than it will appear to be at first sight; the transcriber of that manuscript having reduced the orthography and style in many instances to the standard of his own times.

The incidents of the MANTLE and the KNIFE have not, that I can recollect, been borrowed from any other writer. Th mer of these evidently suggested to Spenser his conceit of FLORIMEL'S GIRDLE, B. iv. C. 5. St. 3. That girdle gave the virtue of chaste love

And wivehood true to all that did it beare;
But whosoever contrarie doth prove,
Might not the same about her middle weare,

But it would loose or else asunder teare.
So it happened to the false Florimel, st. 16, when

Being brought, about her middle small
They thought to gird, as best it her became,
But by no means they could it thereto frame,
For ever as they fastned it, it loos’d

And fell away, as feeling secret blame, &c.
That all men wondred at the uncouth sight

And each one thought as to their fancies came.
But she herself did think it done for spight,
And touched was with secret wrath and shame
Therewith, as thing deviz'd her to defame :
Then many other ladies likewise tride
About their tender loynes to

But it would not on none of them abide,
But when they thought it fast, eftsoones it was untide.

Thereat

nit the same,

Thereat all knights gan laugh and ladies lowre,

Till that at last the gentle Amoret
Likewise assayed to prove that girdle's powre.
And having it about her middle set
Did find it fit withouten breach or let,
Whereat the rest gan greatly to envie.
But Florimel exceedingly did fret,

And snatching from her hand, &c. As for the trial of the HORNE, it is not peculiar to our Poet: It occurs in the old Romance, intitled “ Morte Arthur,” which was translated out of French in the time of King Edward IV. and first printed anno 1484. From that romance Ariosto is thought to have borrowed his tale of the Enchanted Cup, č. 42, &c. See Mr. Warton's Observations on the Faerie Queen, &c.

The story of the Horn in Morte Arthur varies a good deal from this of our Poet, as the reader will judge from the following extract. By the way they met with

a knight that was sent from Morgan la Faye to king

Arthur, and this knight had a fair horne all garnished with gold, and the horne had such a virtue, that there

might no ladye or gentlewoman drinke of that horne, “ but if she were true to her husband : and if shee were “ false she should spill all the drinke, and if shee were “ true unto her lorde, shee might drink peaceably: and “ because of queene Guenever and in despite of Sir “ Launcelot du Lake, this horne was sent unto King Ar“ thur.”—This horn is intercepted and brought unto another king named Marke, who is not a whit more fortunate than the British hero, for he makes “ his qeene “ drinke thereof and an hundred ladies moe, and there “ were but foure ladies of all those that drank cleane," of which number the said queen proves not to be one [Book II. chap. 22. Ed. 1632.]

In other respects the two stories are so different, that we have just reason to suppose this Ballad was written before that romance was translated into English. As for Queen GUENEVER, she is here represented no

otherwise otherwise than in the old Histories and Romances. Holinshed observes, that “she was evil reported of, as noted “ of incontinence and breach of faith to hir husband.” Vol. I. p. 93.

* Such READERS, AS HAVE NO RELISH FOR PURB ANTIQUITY, WILL FIND THIS BALLAD AT THE END OF THE VOLUME.

A MORE MODERN COPY OF

[blocks in formation]

I tell you, lords, in this hall;
I hett you all to heede';
Except you be the more surer
Is you for to dread.

20

He plucked out of his poterner,'
And longer wold not dwell,
He pulled forth a pretty mantle,
Betweene two nut-shells.

25

Have thou here, king Arthur ;
Have thou heere of mee :
Give itt to thy comely queene
Shapen as itt is alreadye.

30

Itt shall never become that wiffe,
That hath once done amisse.
Then every knight in the kings court
Began to care for "his.'

Forth came dame Guénever;
To the mantle shee her 'hied';.
The ladye shee was newfangle,
But yett shee was affrayd.

35

When shee had taken the mantle ;
She stoode as shee had beene madd :
It was from the top to the toe
As sheeres had itt shread.

40

Ver. 18. heate, MS. Ver. 21. poterver, MS.
Y. 32. his wiffe, Ms. V. 34. bided, MS.

One

One while was it 'gule' ;
Another while was itt greene;
Another while was it wadded :
Ill itt did her beseeme.

45

Another while was it blacke
And bore the worst hue:
By my troth, quoth king Arthur,
I thinke thou be not true.

50

Shee threw downe the mantle,
That bright was of blee;
Fast with a rudd redd,
To her chamber can shee flee.

She curst the weaver, and the walker,
That clothe that had wrought ;
And bade a vengeance on his crowne,
That hither hath itt brought.

55

I had rather be in a wood,
Under a greene tree;
Then in king Arthurs court
Shamed for to bee.

60

Kay called forth his ladye,
And bade her come neere ;
Saies, Madam, and thou be guiltye,
I pray

thee hold thee there.

Ver. 41. gaule, MS.

Forth

« PreviousContinue »