« AnteriorContinuar »
this danger, they next arrive at a beautiful crystal temple, " in the mid sea." Their next adventures are on a dark and stormy ocean, where they see fiends and mountains of fire, and Judas, sitting on a rock, well nigh overwhelmed by the waves. All this portion of the wild narrative is told with much force. At length, their seven years' voyage ended, they enter a thick darkness, from whence, after many dangers, they emerge:
The description of it, although largely borrowed from Scripture, is yet no servile copy; and the gracefulness of many parts would render them well worthy of transcription, did the space allow. Here the pilgrims wander about,
"Hither and thither, to and fro,
One hundred thousand times more fair
Are these abodes,—but thou could'st ne'er
The view sustain, nor the ecstasy
Its meanest joys would yield to thee;
For thou hast in the body come.
But when the Lord shall call thee home,
Thou, fitted then, a spirit free
From weakness and mortality,
SI 1alt aye remain, no fleshy guest,
But taking here thine endless rest."
The safe return of St. Brandan and his highlyfavoured companions, concludes this singularly graceful and amusing narrative; and we lament, on closing the neatly-written volume, that he who has so well sung the wanderings of the holy and ancient mariner, should have left his own name untold.
Contemporary, or nearly so, was GeofFroi Gaimar, a trouvere, the latter portion of whose work—a metrical history of the British kings—alone remains. This portion extends merely from the episode of Haveloke to the death of the Red King; and the most curious part is his character of that monarch, whom, contrary to the statements of every monkish chronicler, he represents as wise, valiant, and most generous; and of whose death he gives a remarkably full, and, in some respects, different account. His versification, although easy, cannot be compared with that of the foregoing trouvere; nor has the writer found any of those naive remarks and graphic touches, which give such spirit to the narratives of Wace. The following description of the attendants in the hall of the Red King, at Westminster, when it was first opened for his mighty feast, affords some
idea of the enormous scale of magnificence on which these feasts were conducted:
"And now, within his new-built hall,
Part of his account of the Red King's death merits transcription, from the many characteristic circumstances which, whether true or not, it presents. According to Gaimar, Walter Tyrel not only killed the king, but meditated his death for some months previously, in consequence of a dispute which he had had with him.
"And now the king
I know not who erst bare that bow,
But the other archers said, I know,
That it was Walter's; like enow
That tale appeared, for he had fled
When this was done, and the king fell dead.*
Beneath four beeches they descried
The Red King's corpse, e'en as he died;
But 'twas not touched until they found
Some monks, who from the neighbouring bound
Came nigh—and then a hunter made
A bed of fern and flowers, and laid
The king thereon." * *
"Now list. The news flew speedily:—
* "Mes ne savom ki li arc sustint,
And thus was he borne to the city of Winchester, in whose cathedral, amid a large concourse of barons and clergy, all weeping most sorely, he was consigned to the tomb.* The foregoing passage is interesting, although possessing little poetical merit; not only as giving a very good specimen of the "all, how, and about it" style, in which the earlier trouveres are very fond of indulging, but as affording what was not improbably the "court version'' of the story of the Red King's death; since surely, unless this statement had obtained currency among the higher classes, Gaimar, writing for the express information both of Custance Fitz-Gilbert, and Adelais, would never have adopted it.
Whether the next celebrated trouvere of this period, master Robert Wace, resided at court, and enjoyed the patronage of the fair Adelais, is unknown; that long ere her death he had become celebrated, seems evident from his account of himself, where he remarks, that early in life he had composed "many romances, learned and rare." Of these, none have been hitherto found, and the fame of this admirable trouvere now rests chiefly on the two works composed in his middle and later years, the "Brut d'Angleterre," and the "Roman du Rou." Wace, although born in the island of Jersey, may be
It is impossible to avoid thinking that this statement of Gaimar's was levelled against that of Malmsbury; and that, in the minute particularizing of each honor done to the lifeless corpse, Gaimar had in view the story of the body lying for many hours unfound, and at length, carelessly thrown upon the charcoal-burner's cart, conveyed in the rudest manner to Winchester. In this statement the reader will observe the details of the " palfreys" with broidered trappings, and the mantle lined with gris, (an undoubted proof of its great cost), which had been worn only a single day, while even the fern and flowers used are described as "beautiful.''