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Told that King Edward now was dead,
And Harold crowned king instead.
When that the duke this heard, he stood
One instant like a man right wode—
Then turned to go,—to his menye',
Leaving the sports of venery6,
And oft his mantle tied, and then
Untied, then tied it swift again:
Nor would he speak to any one ;—
To speak or question him dared none;
Then in a boat the Seine he past,
And to his castle hurried fast;—
And down on the first bench sate he.
From time to time right hastily
Turning quick round; then o'er his face
His mantle cast, then changed his place,
And on a ledge his head he laid;
While all around him stood afraid,
And marvelled what this might be."

This chronicle ends very abruptly; Wace apparently having been much displeased with the honours bestowed by Plantagenet on Benoit St. More, who was engaged on a similar work; indeed, from a cursory survey of the rival production, it is impossible to avoid believing that maistre Wace was really ill used; since the wearisome prosings of Benoit, however flowing the style, contrast most unfavourably with his spirited sketches.

The works of Benoit St. More, which still exist, are "L'Histoire de la Guerre de Troy ;" and "L'Histoire des Dues de Normandie;5 # so voluminous a writer was he, that the number of lines in his two works have been calculated at nearly 46,0001 and, as may be well supposed, but little of

* This is a singularly beautiful manuscript, and the initial letters display some advances toward a correct delineation of the human face.


this immense collection of rhymes, deserves rescuing from oblivion. Benoit St. More, however, seems to have prided himself upon his talents, and probably on his extensive learning, since he commences his History of the Dukes of Normandy with an account of the creation; and then proceeds to give a long geographical essay on the three parts of the then known world, and their inhabitants. The following extract, from the conclusion of his first book, shews the high estimation in which he held learned men, and not the least among them himself.

"Many the studious toils, I wis,
And great the care to many is,
So large a work as this to write—
But it will never me affright.
For sure I trust the saints, and He
Who giveth all most bounteously,
Will still be aiding unto me.
And truly, those who seek to know
The things that happened long ago,
If quick they are, and prompt to learn,
And eager each fact to discern,
May well improve; more wise than he
Who in his orchard plants a tree,—
(A different task, forsooth, 'twill be !)
Then hear, and see, and learn, and do,
Mark, retain, and so shall you
Find, that save they learning prize,
None are worthy, brave, or wise;
But they are mild and courteous too,
Masters of arts and learning, who,
But for the knowledge they have gained,
And various reading well retained,
What had they been, maugre pretence,
But churls, withouten soul or sense?"

The next writer that presents himself, although ungraced by royal patronage, advances higher claims to our notice than if he had received the gifts of Plantagenet, or the smiles of Elinor; since in his work we have a specimen, not merely of the religious poetry of the age, but of the form in which religious instruction was conveyed to the populace by the way-side preacher.* The title which this very curious work bears is, " Le Sermun du Guichart de Beaulieu and it has been considered, by abbe de la Rue, very plausibly to be the production of some zealous preacher, who, in his youthful days, had been foremost in all evil,—perhaps the leader of a band of plunderers during the disastrous reign of Stephen, but who, in advanced age, had sought the cloister, and become the inmate of Beaulieu, a cell belonging to the abbey of St. Albans, from whence he takes his name.f The introduction of this " Sermun "—a term which, at this period, rather signified an address, than that species of composition which modern times characterizes by that name— proves that it was intended for a popular auditory, for the style is precisely that in which the trouv&res commence their tales.

* This phrase may appear strange to some readers who are not aware how extensively the practice of itinerant preaching prevailed during the middle ages. Indeed, by a singular but most beneficial anomaly, the Latin church, whilst she insisted on the consecration of every place where the service was to be performed, allowed her preachers to go forth as unfettered in their great work as the Puritan; and thus, in the marketplace, on the sea-shore, or by the way-side, hundreds of earnest and warmhearted men preached, free from all superstitious adjuncts, the great truths of the Gospel; while, in the scorn with which they were viewed by the higher orders of the clergy, we have testimony to the purity of their doctrine.

fThe celebrated abbey of Beaulieu, in the isle of Wight, was not founded until the middle of the thirteenth century.

"Come listen to my lay, ye men of high and low degree,
A pleasant tale, and suitable, I'll straightway tell to ye;
And goodly lessons 'twill impart to those who love the right,
And in the way that God commands are hastening with deligh t;
For there's no controversy here, fable, nor idle word,
In any place, I soothly say, better was never heard;
Well do I know the Latin tongue, but in Romanz I'll tell
This goodly lay, that all of you may understand it well;
Then be not doubting ye, who choice book-learning never knew,
For I will heartily avouch that every word is true."

He now proceeds to denounce the wickedness of the age, and the folly of men seeking so earnestly after earthly happiness, which, after all, "melts like ice but although he says it, they heed not, for

"This age, of fierce debate,
And spite, and lesings too, is full; each one seeks worldly store;
And each in every wicked way rusheth with all his power.
Oh! nothing is too hard for them on which their hearts are set,
But God's commands are idle words, His precepts they forget;
Most fiery eager ill to do, are they, and full of might;
For now, who doth most wickedness is deemed the prowest wight,
And he who well can lie, and he most skilled in flattery,
Yhonoured, and yservdid well, for this he sure shall be;
And he shall have both gold and fee, and rich attire beside/'

This is a graphic picture of the fierce and powerful baron of the period, and his invisible foeman lurking unseen.

"Look well upon this age, when all things promise well, And his riches make a goodly show, then, eager to excel, The man tall houses builds, and plants his vineyards carefully, That he his joy at full may take, and little doubteth he That long he shall enjoy them all; then he seeketh to be known, For he would be the greatest man, and hold his state alone; Then art and cunning both he wields his neighbours to subdue, And by force of arms the rich man robs, and takes from each their due. And when that he hath gained alf that his wild heart can crave, Then, that he may be feared around, right royal state he'll have, With flocks, and herds, and wild wood beasts, his wide lands hell supply, While to his neighing palfreys, his snorting mules reply.

Within is harping, sound of lute, and jongleurs' pleasant lay,
And then he to his chamber goes, awearied with the day,
And gazes on his treasures, hoarded up so secretly;—
Then lays him on his pleasant bed. O little thinketh he
One, whom no bribe can win away, is standing close beside;—
Tis Death!"

"Now you may wonder," continues he, " wherefore I should so denounce all those things which men seek after, I will, therefore, tell you why:

"It is, indeed, no marvel, that earnest I should be; I had a wound, a grievous wound, as I will show to ye; And long time did I hide it, but 'twould no longer hide; That wound was sin, and it, alas! was very deep and wide. Alas! I am a sinner great, so great, I cannot say, For mickle evil did I do, till God e'en turned away From me in wrath. Oh! wicked deeds I did, withouten fear, And His commandments lightly deemed, nor would His precepts hear, And much did I the devil serve, and aye with wicked glee. Oh! such a sinner as I've been, I ne'er can tell to ye. At length o'erwhelmed with fear I was, and in sore jeopardy; And then no other way I found, than e'en myself to throw Upon our dear Lord's mercy, though I had scorned it so; And only on His grace to lean, for other right I'd none; So I trusted I should mercy have, in holding this alone; Ye ne'er can tell how great that was, but I will show it you, For God is very pitiful, and gracious, and true."

He now commences a very complete epitome of the leading incidents in Scripture history; and the following extract gives a very fair specimen of his simple and pleasing style. After narrating that "God his own Son sent," he continues:

"Then God a star set forth on high, shining with rays most bright, That nuncio-star,* and o'er the world it shed its joyful light, Telling afar to every one, to men of each degree, That the Ruler of all worlds was come in his humility.

* " L'esteile d'annunciat/'

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