Page images
PDF
EPUB

to others, as I collect from the following passage in the statutes * of Ewelme hospital, in Oxfordshire, given by William de la Poole, Duke of Suffolk, the founder, in the reign of Henry VI. “ Provyded that « all the chyldren of our chapelle ..... be taught, &c.” That is, the children of the chapel in his manor house at Ewelme, who were to be taught free, with others, in the neighbouring hospital he had newly founded. The change of manners in departing from this magnificence of living, was certainly the secret cause of diminishing the power of the barons; and perhaps more effectually contributed to this purpose, than the laws, and other checks, professedly made against feudal jurisdiction.

B. v. c. ix. s. xxix,

Whilst Kings and kesARs at her feet did them prostrate.

Spenser frequently uses the exprefsion kings and kefars.

The captive hearts
Of KINGS and KESARS.

4. 7. 1.

This is the state of KESARS and of KINGS.

6. 3. 5.

Mighty KINGS and Kesars into thraldom brought,

3. 11, 29. * Printed in Hearne's Chronicon. I. Whethamstede, vol. 2. p. 544.

Nc

Ne KESAR spared he awhit nor KINGS.

6. 12. 28.

It is a very antient form of speaking, and is found, among otber poets, in the Visions of Pierce Plowman.

Death came driving after, and all to dust pahed
Kynges and Kaysers, knights and popes *.

I shall here fulfil my promise of giving some account of those visions.

The author of the Visions of Pierce PLOWMAN, is Roberte Longelande, or Langelande, according to Bale t, and in the prefaces prefixed to the different editions. By Wood I, he is called Malverne, as well as Langland. It is plain that his poem called the Visions of Pierce Plowman, was published after the year 1350, from the following passage, perhaps after 1370.

[ocr errors]

In date of our bryghte, in a drye Apriell
A thousand and three hundred twyse twentye and ten,
My wafers ther wer geisen, when Chichester was Mair.

* It was not unfamiliar in Ben. Jonson's time; thus, in his Tale of a Tub, act. 2. fc. 2.

Tu. I charge you in the queen's name keep the peace,

Hil. Tell me o'no QUEENE OR KERSAR.
It occurs likewise in Harrington's Ariosto, c. 44. f.

47.
For myters, fates, nor crownes may not exclude
Popes, mightie KYNGS, nor KEYSARs from the same,

+ Script. Brit. cent. 6. 37. | Hift. et Antig. Univ. Oxon, b. 2. p. 106.

So

§ Paff, 13.

So that several of Gower's and Chaucer's pieces probably made their appearance before it. It is divided into twenty parts, Passus, as he stiles them; and consists of many distinct visions, which have no mutual dependance upon each other; so that the poem is not a regular and uniform whole, consisting of one action or design. The author seems to have intended it as a satire on almost every occupation of life, but more particularly on the clergy; in censuring whom Wickliff had led the way not many years before. This piece abounds with humour, fpirit, and imagination ; all which appear to great disadvantage in uncouth versification, and obsolete language. It is evidently written without rhyme, an ornament which the poet has endeavoured to supply, by making every verse consist of words beginning with the same letter. This practise ha: contributed not a little to render his poem obscure and perplexed, exclusive of its antique style ; for to introduce his alliteration, he must have been often necessarily compelled to depart from the natural and obvious mode of expression. The learned Dr. Hickes. observes, that this alliterative versification was drawn by Langland from the practice of the faxon poets, and that these visions are almost written in faxon.

" Hæc obiter ex satyrographo no tro (Langlande] cui Anglo-saxonum poetæ adeo familiares fuerunt, ut non folum eorum

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

verbis versus scripsit, sed tinnitum illum consonantem initialium apud eos literarum imitatus est, et nonnunquam etiam versus tantum non Saxonicè condidit *. And afterwards, speaking of the anglo-saxon poems, he adds this of their alliteration. “ Quorum in primis se observandum offert, dictionum ab eâdem initiali literâ incipientium usus non infrequens +. Hence it appears, that the example of Gower and Chaucer, who fought to reform the roughness of their native tongue, by naturalizing many new words from the latin, french, and italian, and who introduced the seven-lined stanza, from Petrarch and Dante, into our poetry, had little influence upon Longland, who chose rather to go back to the faxon models, both for language and form of verse. However, he might have settled his plan of stile and versification before he saw

any

of their poems.

As a specimen of his manner, I transcribe fome of the first verses.

In a summer season, when set was the sun,
I shoupe me into the froubes as I a fhepe were ;
In habit as a hermet, unholie of werkes,
Went wide into the world wonders to hear.
And on a may-morning, on Maluerne-hylles,

* Linguar. Vett. Septentrion. Thesaurus. cap. 21. pag. 107.

+ Cap. 25. p. 195.

Me

Me befel a ferly, a fairy methought,
I was wery a wandering, &e *.

In these verses there is a manifest contradiction ; for the poet says, that the fun was sett, and that it was a may-morning. Therefore, in the first line, instead of SETTE was the fun, we should read,

When HOTTE was the fun.

For Bale, (ubi supra) speaking of this work, thus translates the first line of it.

In æftivo tempore cum fol CALERET. And it should be remembered, that Bale had an opportunity of quoting from the most original editions.

But this conjectural emendation of the word sette, which word is found in all the printed copies, was made before I had seen three manuscripts of this poem in the Bodleian library t, in all which the first verfe is thus written.

In a summer season, when SOFTE was the sun.

This reading also preserves the alliteration. By the way, as Mr. Lye observed to me, BRYGHTE, above

* Pasl, 1. V. I, &c.

+ Mss. Laud F. 22, and Mss. Digby 102 and 108.

should

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »