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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 it would loose or else asunder teare.
Being brought, about her middle small
And fell away, as feeling secret blame, &c.
And each one thought as to their fancies came.
But it would not on none of them abide,
nit the same,
Thereat all knights gan laugh and ladies lowre,
Till that at last the gentle Amoret
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
I tell you, lords, in this hall;
He plucked out of his poterner,'
Have thou here, king Arthur ;
Itt shall never become that wiffe,
Forth came dame Guénever;
When shee had taken the mantle ;
Ver. 18. heate, MS. Ver. 21. poterver, MS.
One while was it 'gule' ;
Another while was it blacke
Shee threw downe the mantle,
She curst the weaver, and the walker,
I had rather be in a wood,
Kay called forth his ladye,
thee hold thee there.
Ver. 41. gaule, MS.