Page images
PDF
EPUB

logue of the Author, though at this distant period the most curious, has the least connexion with the proper subject of the work. It is here that the author may be expected to display his favourite topics of discussion, and his strongest associations of ideas; and it is here therefore that Mr. Leyden regards his coincidences with Lindsay, as more important and striking. Mr. L. proceeds to produce his com parative resemblances; and has enriched this portion of his preliminary essay, with a curious and interesting assemblage of extracts from various ancient MSS. in the library of Advocates at Edinburgh. Among these we are presented with an unpublished relique, entitled the “ Orisoune of Chauceir to the Haly Virgin,” consisting of twenty seven-line stanzas. It is, 'to our apprehension, more in the style of Lydgate than Chaucer, whose productions have been frequently confounded with each other. The MS. however, in which it is preserved, gives it decidedly to the latter. We were more agreeably gratified by perusing part of an inedited poem by Hamil. ton of Bangour, for which Mr. L. expresses his obligations to the valuable friendship of Dr. Robert Anderson. .

In the third division of the Complaynt, which contains the Dream of the Author, he returns from the descriptive sketches of the Monologue to the proper subject of his work, the pathetic delinea tion of the miseries of his country, and the method in which these might be alleviated. The dream commences with the allegorical representation of Dame Scotia and her three sons Nobility, Clergy, and Commons. Scotia vehemently expostulates with them, on account of the mutual disasters produced by their mutual discords ; inveighs in a severe and acrimonious tone) against the cruelty and perfidy of the English; corroborates her assertions, by examples drawn from history; stigmatises domestic treachery ; and exhorts to unanimity in repelling the hostilities of their auld (old) enemies, which she declares will be 'ane mair auful scurge, nor that the realme of France and the Empire hed tane querrel contrar Ingland."

To this severe objurgation, the third son replies, by accusing his two elder brethren of pride, oppression, and cruelty, and objects their vices, in vindication of his own conduct. Dame Scotia refuses to admit this vindication, and addresses her three sons successively, in a series of severe admonitions, in which she censures their particular vices ; exposes their peculiar crimes ; reiterates warmly her exhortations to unanimity; and endeavours to inflame them against the common enemy, by a recapitulation of the injuries they had sustained. Suchis the outline of that part of the work, which may be properly denominated the Complaynt of Scotland.

Though numerous, minute, and characteristic traits of the habits and customs of a former period occur in the Complaynt, yet we find nothing more interesting in the variety of matter it contains, than that view of the popular literature of Scotland, which the enu. meration of the current romances, songs, and dances presents. The known æra of Scotish romance corresponds to that of Scotish song; for the dirge of Alexander III. in Wyntown's Chronicle, is the earliest specimen of Caledonian song-writing, as the Sir Tristram of Thomas Rymour de Ercildoun, is supposed to be the most ancient romance. Barbour in the middle of the 14th Century, quotes the romance of worthy Ferambrace. Wyntown mentions the great gest of Arthure, and the adventures of Gauane : many more romances and heroes of chivalry, are spoken of by Lindsay and athers. Religion herself cherished the genius of romantic fi&tion, and the clergy encouraged the perusal of books of chivalry, in preference to those which treated of theological subjects. Thus Hoc. cleve advises Sir John Oldcastle to desist from the study of holy writ, and peruse Lancelot de Lake, Vegetius, and the Siege of Thebes or Troy*.. · Mr. Leyden has, with much and judicious care, arranged the tales and romances enumerated in the Complaynt, into three classes, British, French or Norman, and Classical, according to the heroes which they celebrate, or the subjects to which they relate. Of these it may gratify some readers to see the numerous titles, with the notices subjoined.

FIRST CLASS. 1. The Prophysie of Merlin, a species of Cyclic poem : in the Percy

and Auckinleck MSS. 2. Wallace. The composition of a Scoto-Saxon minstrel; has passed

through numerous editions. 3. The Bruce. A metrical history of an illustrious Scotish hero;

published by Pinkerton, from a MS. dated 1489. 4. The Tale of the King of Estmureland's Marriage to the King's 1 Daughter of Westmoreland. Conjectured to be the original of ; the tale of King Estmere, in Percy's Reliques, or the romance of Hornchild. 3. Skail Gillenderson, the King's Son of Skellye. 6. The Tale of Sir Euan (Ywain or Owen). Arthur's Knight and

a British Chieftain. A metrical legend entitled Sir Owain occurs in the Percy and Auchinleck MSS.

. * See Mason's Preface to Hoccleve

[ocr errors]

7. Rafe Collyear. Printed at St. Andrews, in 1572. 8. Gauen and Gollogras. Printed at Edinburgh, in 1508. g. Lancelot du Lac. Printed at Paris, in 1494. A MS. copy of

this romance is in the royal library. 10. Arthour Knycht. Now unknown 11. The Tale of Florimond of Albanye. The name of this hero oc.

curs in “ Roswall and Lilian,” a metrical romance. 12. Syr Waltir the bald Leslye. A romance of the crysades. 13. Robene Hude and Litil Jhone. Printed at Edinb. 1508, and re

published in Ritson's edition of Robin Hood. 14. The Tale of the Young Tamlene. Originally a romance of Faëry,

but as an historical ballad, still preserved and published in

Scott's Border Minstrelsy. 15. The Ryng of the Roy Robert. A modernized copy occurs in Wat. son's collection of Scots Poems, 1709, Part II. 16. Syr Egeir and Syr Gryme. Preserved in Dr. Percy's folío MS.

A Copy, printed at Aberdeen, in 1711, enriches the select

library of Francis Douce, Esq. 17. Bevis of Southamtoun. Preserved in the Auchinleck MS. 18. The Tale of the three Weird Sisters. This romance is lost. 19. The Wolf of the Warldis End. Likewise lost, as are the three

which follow. . 20. The Tale of the Red-Etin with the thre Heads. The Red-Etia

is still a popular character in Scotland. 21. The Tale of the Giants that eat quick Men, Derived, probably,

from the Cyclops. 22. The Tale of the three-footed Dog of Norway. Suspected to be

similar to the “ Black-Bull of Norway,” which is common in Scotland, and forms the ground-work of one of Musæus's

Tales of the Germans. 23. On Fat by Forth as I culd found. Unknown 24. The pure Tint. Probably the ground-work of “the pure Tint

Rashy-coat,” a common nursery tale. 25. The Canterbury Tales of Chaucer. Preserved in various MSS.

as well as printed copies. 26. The Marvellis of Mandiveil. Printed by Wynken de Worde,

5499. 27. The golden Targe of Dunbar. Printed at Edinb. 1508, and

in Lord Hailes's edit. of Bannatyne poems, 1760. 28. The Paleis of Honour, by Gavin Douglas. Printed at Edinb.

1579, and republished by Pinkerton in 1792.

SECOND CLASS. 3. Arthour of Litil Bretange. This seems to have been originally an

· Armorican story. The history of Arthur, an Armorican knight, was translated by Henry Lord Berners, the translator

of Froissart. 2. The bald Braband. 3. Ferrand, Earl of Flanders, that mareit the Devil. This romance

is lost ; but the story is thought to have been the same which

is related by Gervase of Tilbury. Otia. Imp. I. 4. The Tale of the four Sons of Aymon. Du Cange, in his Glossary

(ad ministelli) quotes the fragment of an old chronicle, which declares that “ Les quatres fils Haimon,” were among the heroes of chivalry . “ The right pleasaunt and goodly hystory of the four sonnes of Aymon," was printed by W. de Worde,

in 1504 5. The Tale of the Brig of the Mantribil. This seems to be lost,

but the story is alluded to in Barbour's Bruce. 6. The Siege of Milan. 7. Robert le Dyabil, Due of Normandie. This was extremely popu

lar in France, and often printed on 'the continent. An edit.

of the English version was published at London in 1798. 8. Claryades and Maliades. A fine MS, of this romance is pre

served in the New-Hailes library. 9. Y pomedon. The hero of this romance is a Norman, though his

name be derived from the Theban War. He is son of Ermones, King of Apulia, and, by his courtesy and skill in hunting, gains the affections of the heiress of Calabria, whom he visits in disguise. Warton was of opinion that it is translated from the French, and Tyrwhitt found that a romance of this title was written in French by Hue de Roteland, an Englishman. A MS. copy occurs among the Harleian collections, and in the Manchester library. The fragment of a printed copy is preserved in the library of Lincoln cathedral.

THIRD CLASS. In this third class of romances, the heroes and heroines of classical antiquity are introduced in the characters of the knights and dames of chivalry; and the costume and manners of the middle ages are engrafted on the stories of Greece and Rome. It is extremely to be regretted that so few romances of this class are preserved, as they are no less illustrative of the ancient vernacular language, than those compositions in which the characters, as well as the costume, are peculiar to the period of chivalry. It is not improbable, but the productions of Gower and Lydgate, who seem to have had a predilection for classical stories, might, by the superior popularity which they attained, supersede the more ancient romances, and occasion their sinking into oblivion. The compositions of this class, men tioned in the Complaynt, are

1. The Tale of Perseus and Andromeda. 2. The Tale of Hercules and the Hydra with seven Heads. 3. The Tale of the Transformation of Acteon. 4. The Tale of Pyramus and Thisbe. 5. The Amours of Leander and Hero. 6. The Tale of Jupiter and . 7. The Tale of Jason and the Golden Fleece, 8. The Tale of the Golden Apple. 9. The Tale of Dedalus, forming the Labyrinth for the Minotaurus. 10. The Tale of Midas. 31. Opheus, King of Portingal. Whether any romance of this par

ticular title exists, is uncertain. Orpheus is probably the name

intended. In the Auchinleck MS. he is represented as king of Winchester, and the romance is entitled “Orfeo and

Heurodis." Besides these romances, the tale of “The Priests of Peblis," which was reprinted by Pinkerton, is cited in the Complaynt as a popular composition. Indeed, the preceding enumeration cannot be considered as complete, though it marks the peculiar taste of the author of this curious publication. A considerable number of the romances here recited, appear to have been equally popular in England about the period of the Complaynt; for the language in which they were composed was understood with nearly equal facility in both kingdoms, and the manners of the lower classes were not essentially different. From Dr. Percy's Essay on the ancient English romances, many additions to this list may be supplied.

We have so far exceeded the bounds which we had prescribed to ourselves in the examination of this volume, from the variety of attractive matter contained in the preliminary dissertation, that we are reluctantly compelled to close our report, without producing any specimen from the work itself: but this is of less moment, as the publication cannot fail to make its way into every antiquarian collection, from the admirable manner in which the editor has intro

E-VOL. XV. . .

« PreviousContinue »