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own language; but whether an original, or a translation from the French or Engleish, cannot be ascertain'd. See Lhuyds MSS. Britan. Cata. (Archäologia Britan. P. 265.) He is mention'd, however, by Talies. sin and Llywarch Hen, two celebrateëd British bards, of the sixth century; both of them his contemporarys, and the latter, his relation. (Ibi. P. 259, 264; Lewises History of Great Britain, P. 201, &c.; and “ Heroic Elegies &c. of Llywarch Hen,” P. 29, &c.) Urien, the father of Owen, petty king or prince of Reged in Cumbria, a little kingdom, part of Engleland and the south-west of modern Scotland, was treacherously Nain about the year 567. He was one of the greateft encourageërs of the bards of his age. Owen, his son, is celebrateëd in the ancient Welsh Triades, a composi. tion, it is pretended, of the seventh century, as one of “ The three blessed princes of the isle of Britain," and one of “ The three blessed burdens of the womb of the isle of Britain.” The name of his bard was Dygynelw, one of the three " who tinged spears with blood" (Lly. Hen, P. xix.) In a curious fragment of the life of St. Kentegern, writen by an unname'd authour, at the instance of Herbert bishop of Glasgow (1147 to 1164), the loveër of that faints mother is pointed out in these words: “ Erat namque procus ejus juvenis quidam elegantisfimus, Ewen videlicet, filius Erwegende, nobilissima Britonum profapia ortus.... In gestis hystrionum vocatur Ewen filius Ulien [r. Urien]." (Vitæ SS. qui habitaverunt in Scotia, p. 203.) Kentegern, who was born about 516, is, in the Welsh pedigrees, made the son of this Ewen or. Owain, the fon of Urien: so that he would seem to have come into the world before his father, no unusual anticipation in
Welsh pedigrees. (See Owens account of Llywarch Hen, &c.) Carte, speaking of Ida, king of Northhum. berland, says, “ He was fain in battle by Owen, son of Urian Rheged, as Taliessin says in an elegy which he composed upon the death of this gallant Britain, to whose bravery, vigilance, and conduct, his country had been chiefly indebted for its defence and security." (History of England, I, 209.)* The actual existence, therefor, of these two persons seems unquestionable, Urien (Urbgen] is mention'd by Nennius, or his inter. polatour, C. 64: and this misnomer seems to have giveën birth to the « Urbgennius Badonensis” of Geoffrey of Monmouth.
King Urience, in the old romance of Mort d'Arthur, is the husband of Morgan le fay (half-sister to king Arthur), who unnaturally attempts to kil him sleeping; but is prevented by their son fir Ewaine. t Now, it seems, the death of Urien was actually procure'd by the instigation of Morgant Mwynvaur, another of the four princeës of Cumbria. Uriens wife, however, was not the fister of Arthur, but Modron, daughter of Avallach. Owain himself was twice marry'd, first to Penarweri, daughter of Cul Vanawyd Prydain, and,
* The death of Ida is place'd by the Saxon chronicle in 560; but it does not appear, from that authority, to have hapen'd in battle. The pretended antiquitys of the Welsh abound with imaginary victorys.
+ The old romance of Merlin, (vo. I, fo. 116.) calls Yvain a bastard, son, it ads, to king Urien, whom he begot on the wife of his senefchal, who was of such great beauty that for the love of her he forgot his wife, and left her for more than five years, and held her in his castle in spite of his steward so long that he begot this child: but all this is scandal.
secondly, to Denyw, daughter of Llewddyn Luyddawg of Edinburgh: according to what the literary Welsh idiots publish, in the eighteenth century, as authentick history; and which Geoffrey of Monmouth, lyeër as he was, would have disdain'd to retail in the twelfth. See the Life of Llywarch Hen, prefix'd to his “ Heroic elegies, &c." P. vii.
Gawain, call’d, by Geoffrey of Monmouth, Walganus, was another nephew of Arthur, being the son of Lot of Loudonesia, the nephew and succesfour of Sichelin, king of the Norwegians, who had marry'd Anne his sister. According, however, to Mort d'Arthur, when Uther-Pendragon marry'd the lady Igrayne (or Igerna), the widow of Gorlois, “ king Lot of Lowthan and of Orkeny then weded Margawse [one of her three daughters by Gorlois), that was Gawayns mother." (Part 1, Ç. 3.) This Gawain, or Walwenus, as we learn from William of Malmesbury, reign'd in that part of Britain which is callid Walwertha, and his burying-place was found in the time of king William I. in the province of Ros, in Wales, upon the margin of the sea, being fourteen feet long;* he haveing, as was asserted þy fome, been wounded by enemys, and cast up by shipwreck; or, by others, been kil'd, by the citizens, at a publick feast. (De gestis regum, L. 1.) He appears to have been highly celebrateëd. His death, of course,
* This seems the eftablish'd size of an ancient hero. “ In Murray-land,” according to that moft veracious historian maister Hector Bois, " is the kirke of Pette, quhare the banis.
of LYTILL Johne remanis in gret admiratioun of pepill. He ..hes bene fourtene fut of hycht, with square membris effering theirto.” (Historie of Scotland, translatit le maister Johne Bellenden, Edin. fo. b. l.)
is otherwise represented by the old romanceërs, who were not particularly conversant with William of Malmesbury. · Sir Ewaine and fir Gawain were sincere friends; and, when the latter knew that fir Ewaine was banish'd from court by king Arthur, on suspicion that he was of council with his mother Morgan, who was constantly practiseing treason against that monarch, he accompany'd him into banishment. See Mort d'Arthur, P. 1, C.75.
The onely ancient copy of the present poem is contain'd in the Cotton MS. Galba E. IX. which seems to have been writen in the time of Richard II. or to. ward the close of the fourteenth century; and not, as appear'd to Warton, who knew nothing of the age of MSS. and probablely never saw this, “ in the reign of king Henry the fixth" (III, P. 108). The language of all the poems in this MS, is a strong northern dia. lect, from which it may be reasonablely infer'd that they are the composition of persons, most likely monks, resident in that part of Engleland, where, in former times, were several flourishing monasterys. One fingularity of this MS. is that the y is generally use’d at the commencement of a fyllable for th, instead of the Saxon y [properly þ], (as Yai, yat, ye, &c. for thai, that, the, &c.) which sometimes, though rarely, occurs : a singularity which is stil in use for the abbreviations yt, yy, ym, &c. The letter z allso is frequently use’d for y consonant at the begining of a syllable.* These,
* It may be proper to observe here, once for all, that in the MSS. made use of in this collection, and moft others in Engleish of the same age, this letter or character z, beside its usual pronunciation, as in grantz, is used with the powers of
however, have not been retain'd, though the ancient orthography is carefully preserve'd in every other respect.
The prefent, or some other, romance on the story of fir Ywain, may possiblely have been printed, though no copy of it is known to be preserve'd. In Wed. derburns Complainte of Scotlande, St. Andrews, 1549, among the “ storeis” or “ Aet taylis," rehearse'd by the shepherds, whereof “ sum vas in prose and fum vas in verse," we meet with' “ The tail of fyr Euan, Arthours knycht." See allso the adventures of fir Percival in Mort d'Arthur.
A romance of “ Syr Gawayne,"mention'd in Lanehams Letter from Killingworth, 1575, was “ Imprynted at London in Paules churcheyarde at the sygne of the Maydens heed by Thomas Petyt” (4to. b. I.) It was in six-line stanzas, but no more than the last leaf is known to be preserve’d. " A jeste of fyr Gawayne," probablely the same book, was license'd to John Kynge, in 1557-8. Two other romanceës on the same subject, but in a dialect and metre peculiar to Scotland, are printed in Pinkertons Scotish poems; the one from an edition at Edinburgh in 1 508; the other from a MS. the property of the present editour, which the lay'd Pinkerton came by very dishonestly.
The history of Ywaine seems to have been popular in the north. In the library of Stockholm is a MS.
y consonant, and gh, as in ze, zing, rizt, knyzth, &c. and, to avoid a false or equivocal pronunciation, those letters, in the proper instanceës, have been substituteëd in its place. Though, probablely, a corruption of the Saxon 7, it never, as some pretend, had the power of that letter in old Engleith; which is the more evident from the words zef, zong, &c. being in contemporary MSS. actually writen with a y, as yef, yong.