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He said that Arthur's end should be
And truly saith, that still his fame
Although, in point of spirited description, the "Brut d'Angleterre" falls greatly below his other work, battles, which are almost as graphic as those of the
romance of" Kynge Alysaundre:"
"So each his good steed took, and then
De la viendra, encore poet vivre,
Indeed the caution which Maistre Wace displays on this and similar occasions, is quite edifying, and doubtless went far to prove him a great "philosofre" among his all-believing hearers at the court of Plantagenet.
For aye enwrapt in mystery;
there are yet some
Instead of all one company,
Encouraged by the patronage he received, Wace, in the year 1160, set about his second work, which, it appears, was patronized by Plantagenet,—the Chronicle of the Dukes of Normandy, from the invasion of Rollo to the thirty-fourth year of Beauclerc, and which has been handed down to us under the title of the " Roman du Rou."* In this work, Wace affords us so many characteristic traits, and picturesque details, that it seems rather a collection of spirited ballads, than a metrical chronicle. The first part is composed in the fourteen syllable, or what may be called ballad measure; and ten, twenty, sometimes even a greater number of lines, present the same termination. In the following extracts, while the rhythm has been preserved, the writer has found it impossible to adopt the other peculiarity, and has therefore rhymed in couplets.
The following account, how William Long Espee was scolded into valour, is curious. He is besieged in Rouen by Rioulf:—
"Then Duke William was right sorrowful, and strenglhand power had none,
For he thought that in the battel he should well nigh stand alone; He knew not who would fight for him, or who would prove a foe: 'Why should we linger here,' quoth he, c I into France will go.'
• Some readers may probably wonder how a chronicle of past events could be called a romance. It is, therefore, as well to remark, that, at this period, the name had reference to the language in which the work was composed; the "langue Romaine," as this branch of the ancient French dialect was frequently called, and not to the subject. The poem under review is the only one of the list that has ever been printed: it was edited by M. Pluquet, and published at Rouen, in 1825.
Then said Boten—' Duke William, thou hast spoke a coward's word,
And my perjured knights are all with him; must it not cost me dear?
And they all hate me unto death, and round encompass me;
I never can, by my soul I swear, drive them from this countrie;
I must forsake it, and to France right speedily I'll flee.'
Then spake Bernart—\Duke, know this well, we will not follow thee.
Too much of ill these men have wrought, but a day will surely come
For payment, and we'll pay them well. When erst we left our home
In Denmark, and to this land came, we gained it by our might;
But thou to arm thee art afraid, and darest not wage the fight.
Go then to France, enjoy thyself, a wretched caitiff wight;
No love of honest praise hast thou, no prayer will ere avail thee;
O wicked one! why should'st thou fear that Gcd will ever fail thee? Rollo, like bold and hardy chief, this land by his good sword won; And thou would'st do even as he did, wert thou indeed his son!'
"e Bernard/ said William, 'well methinks thou hast reviled me,
"Then all did rush to arms, and all with equal spirit came;
1God be our aid,' he shouted, and rush'd on like a giant man.— Ye never saw such heavy blows as Duke William gave that day, For when the sword was in his grasp, scant need of leech had they
Who felt its edge, and vain were lance and brand 'gainst him, I trow,
The following description of the prowess of duke Richard reads not unlike some of the episodes in the venerable Chronicle of the Cid.
"Now at Rouen Richard was, and thro'the town set watch and ward, Then to the minster he repaired, and solemn service heard, When by a byeway hastily, a spy came driving on ;— Who cried to him aloud, for time for whispering it was none— 'Behold, behold, they're coming on with all their chivalry, The Germans too, in order due, all armed right gallantly, As tho' not only Rouen they'd take, but e'en all Normandie, Already are they at the walls, to withstand them quickly bown.' The Duke when he this message heard, right meekly kneeled down, And prayed the Lord our God, the son of Lady Marie, That he would guard his life, and fame, and grant him victory, And he would found at his own cost, a rich and fair abbaye— Then all his nobles rushed to arms, and cried aloud ' Dex aie.'
"The Duke had knights the very best that were in all Bretagne, And gallant ones from Paris too, and also Hugh le Maigne, And these he bad go forth against the knights of Germany, And one of his most loved barons, he bade their leader be, Who bore aloft the gonfanon, 'twas of scarlet cloth of Spain, And on their destreres bold they sat, while downward to the plain The Germans from the mountain came, with gallant speed amain (Ay, if the Germans give them fight, they will not there remain,) But many a shield will pierced be, and many a tough lance broken, And on many who blithe to the melee came, will their vengeance be ywroken.
For in warfare still the usage is, and in other things also,
To give defiance blithe were they, tho' ne'er in vaunting loud.
But the Normans could not this endure, and swore with burning zeal,
The second part is in the octo-syllabic measure,—that most favourite metre of the AngloNorman trouvferes. Many portions are very spirited; the following will afford a fair specimen of the minute touches of nature which Wace so frequently gives.
"At Rouen in his park, e'en now