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unfortunately, imperfect, the composition, it is conjecture'd of Thomas of Learmont, or of Ercildon, alias Rymer, a celebrateëd prophet, whether Scotish or Engleish, is preserve'd in the Edinburgh manuscript, and wil be speedyly, and ablely, publish'd, by a gentleman every way qualify'd to do it justice. Of the prose romance are several editions, the first of which, with a date, was printed, at Paris, in 1489, though there is another, possiblely stil more ancient. There is, likewise, a manuscript copy in the kings li. brary in the Mufeum (20 D II); in an account of which, by the learned and accurate mister Pinkerton (Ancient Scotish Poems, P. lxxvi), he has very inge. niously converted Ifeult la blonde, the heroine, into a certain Seult Labonde, the authour of the romance. Another is in the possession of mister Douce. Their adventures are, likewise, imperfectly relateëd in Mort d'Arthur.
V. 146. Florys and dam Blawncheflour.]
The romance of Floris and Blanchefleur is one of the most ancient and popular in the French language. It is in verse, and copys are extant in the national li. brary, Paris (Bib. Colber. 3128, and Bib. Cois. 733), and was in that of St. Germain-desprès. (See Bib. univerfelle des romans, Fevrier, 1777, and Fabliaux ou contes, A, 254.) The French history in prose, (Paris, 1554, and Lyons, 1571,) is a translation from the Spanish, Flores y Blancaflor, Alcala, 1512, 4to. An Engleish version was formerly in the Cotton library (Vitellius, D. III. destroy'd by the fatal conflagration of 1731), and is enter'd, in the catalogue, under the title of “ Versus de amoribus Florisii juvenis & Blancheforæ puellæ, lingua veteri Anglicana.” An imperfect copy, however, is preserve'd in the Edinburgh manuscript.
The adventures of Florio and Biancafiore, which form the principal subject of the Philocopo of Boccace, were famous long before the time of that authour, as he himself informs us. Floris and Blancaflor are men. tion'd as illustrious loveërs by Matfres Eymengau de Bezers, a Languedocian poet, in his Breviari d'amor, dateëd in the year 1288. See Tyrwhitts Introductory discourse, n. 25.
V. 218. They wesh, and seten down to mete.]
It was an invariable custom, in ancient times, for all the guests to wash their hands before fiting down to table ; many other instanceës whereof occur in these romanceës.
V. 248. Dowghtyr, y woll wedde the.]
This incestuous proposal is unnotice'd by Gower and Chaucer, who relate this part of the story in a dif. ferent way: but Matthew Paris supposeës the daugh. ter of the petty king of York, whom Offa finds in a forest, to give him this account of herself: “ Hujus incomparabilis pulchritudinis fingularem eminentiam, pater admirans, amatorio dæmone seductus, cepit eam incestu libi. dinoso concupiscere, et ad amorem illicitum, fæpe follicitare, ipfam puellam minis, pollicitis, blanditiis, atque muneribus adolescentulæ temptans emolire constantiam. Illa autem operi nefario nullatenus adquiescens,...pater itaque... præcepit eam in defertum folitudinis remotæ duci, vel potiùs trahi, et crudelissima morte condemnatam, bestiis ibidem derelinqui.” As it may be objected that this princess is banish'd into a forest, instead of being expose'd upon the ocean, the legendary appears to have reserve'd the latter inci. dent for the pretended life of another Offa, king of the Mercians, where we are told that a certain lady, cousin to Charlemagne, with a beauteous face, but no better than the should be, was, for a fagitious crime which she had commited, put into a boat, without tackleing, and expose'd to the casualtys of the winds and waves; but, landing on the British coast, she became, in a short time, the wife of this Offa. V. 271. She mofte have with her no fpendyng,
Nother mete ne drynke.] It is very singular that these lines fhould nearly occur again in V. 593 :
“ And lette her have no spendyng,
For no mete, ny for drynke." Thus in the original; but as the word drynke by no means answers in rime to spendyng; and either line is too short for the metre; though the poem is sufficiently correct, in every other place; the editour has takeën the liberty to insert, after drynke, in the first passage, [givyng], and to alter it, in the other, to drynkynge; • being reduce'd to the unpleasant alternative of either suffering both defects to remain, or hazarding these very unsatisfactory conjectures. V.649. The lady and the lytyll chylde
Fleted forth on the water wylde...
With fory hert, she longe hit aslepe.] This is the second time our heroine has been expose'd at sea, in an open boat, and the first, with her little child. Danaë, the daughter of Acrisius, king of Argos, with Perseus, her infant son, (by Jupiter, as it is pretended, in a shower of gold, while she was confine'd by her father, for the preservation of her chastity,)
was expose'd, in like manner, by that monarch, in a chest; and, being save'd by some fishermen, on the coast of the iland of Seriphus, was carry'd to Polydectes, king of that country, who, afterward, fel in love with her. There is a beautyful fragment remaining of an elegiack song, by the poet Simonides (a trouveur, likewise, at once, according to Huet, and chan. teur), which she is suppose'd to make, and, like the disconfolate Emare, fing to her child, while shut up in the chest; thus elegantly translateëd by the ingenious doctor Burney :
“Sweet child! what anguish does thy mother know,
This fable may, reasonablely, be thought the germ of all the storys in which a similar event is introduce'd : for nothing seems more probable than that the composeërs of romance were wel acquainted with the an. cient Greek and Latin poets.
V.796. By my krowne she shall be brent. ]
this circumstance, which he supposeës to have actually takeën place, ads,
" Which through the londe was after songe;" and it may be further remark'd that our minstrel here, toward the commencement of his romance, says,
“ Her name was called Emare,
As i here fynge in songe;" and, again :
“As y have herd menstrelles fyngyn faw." So that we are, by no means, at the end of our re. searches.
V.876. Lord, he seyd, y hyghth Segramowres.]
In Gowers legend he has the name of Moris. Chaucer seems to have change'd it to Maurice; and says,
“ In the old Romane gestes men may find
Maurices lif, i bere it not in mind.”. It is not, however, in any printed copy or manuscript of the Gesta Romanorum now known to exist.
V. 1030. Thys ys on of Brytayne layes.]
Brytayne is generally suppose’d to mean Armorica or Basse-Bretayne. The lays of this country, admit. ing that construction, were anciently very celebrateëd, allthough not one, nor even the smallest vestige of one, in its vernacular language (a dialect of the mritannoCeltick), is known to exist; so false are the assertions of mister Warton, that " no part of France can boast so great a number of antient romances;” of which the Bretons cannot produce a single specimen; and that