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The curse of hell frae me fall ze beir,
Sic counseils ze gave to me, O.
KING EST MERE.
This old Romantic Legend, (which is preserved in the Editor's folio MS) bears marks of great antiquity, and perhaps ought to have taken place of any in this volume. It should seem to have been written while a great part of Spain was in the hands of the Saracens or Moors: whose empire there was not fully extinguished before the year 1491. The Mahometans are spoken of in v. 49, &c. just in the Jame terms as in all other old romances. The author of the ancient Legend of Sir Bevis, represents his hero, upon all occasions, breathing out defiance against
“ Mahound and Permagaunte 1 ;" And so full of zeal for his religion, as to return the
following polite message to a Paynim king's fair daughter, who had fallen in love with him, and sent two Saracen knights to invite bim to her bower,
« 1 wyll not ones ftirre off this grounde,
“ Or I your harte bloud soall se ti" Indeed they return the compliment by calling bim el/where " A chriften hounde *.!?
This * See at the end of this ballad, Note ttt + Sign. c. ij. b. • Sign. c.j.b.
This was conformable to the real manners of the barbarous ages : perhaps the same excuse will hardly serve our bard for the fituations in which he has placed some of his royal personages. That a youthful monarch should take a journey into another kingdom to visit his mistress incog. was a piece of gallantry paralleled in our own Charles I. but that king Adland should be found lolling or leaning at bis gate (V.35.) may be thought perchance a little out of character. And yet the great painter of manners, Homer, did not think it inconsistent with decorum to represent a king of the Taphians rearing himself at the gate of Ulysses to inquire for that monarch, when he touched at Ithaca as he was taking a voyage with a ship's cargo of iron to dispose in trafic 1. So little ought we to judge of ancient manners by our own.
Before I conclude this article, I cannot help observing that the reader will see in this ballad, the character of the old minfirels, (those fucceffors of the bards) raised much higher than he has yet observed it || : here he will see one of them represented mounted on a fine horse, accompanied with an attendant to bear bis harp after him, and to sing the poems of bis composing. Here he will see him mixing in the company of kings without ceremony : no mean proof of the great quity of this poem. The farther we carry our inquiries back, the greater respect we find paid to the profesors of poetry and music among
all the Celtic and Gothic nations. Their shan racter was deemed so facred, that under its sanction our famous king Alfred made no scruple to enter the Danish camp, and found no difficulty to gain admittance to the king's bead quarters *. Our poet has suggested the same expedient to the heroes of this ballad. All the histories of the North are
1 Odyl... 105.
| See vol. 2. p. 163.
* Even so late as the time of Froissart, we find minfrels ard beralds mentioned together, us those who might securely go into ar enemy's country. Cap. cxl.
the great reverence paid to that order of men. Harold Har. fax, a celebrated king of Norway, was wont to seat them at bis table above all the officers of his court : and we find another Norwegian king placing five of them by his fide in a day of battle, that they might be eye-witnesses of the great exploits they were to celebrate t.-As to Eftmere's riding into the ball while the kings were at table, this was usual in the ages of chivalry; and even to this day we see a relic of this custom still kept up, in the champion's riding into Westminster ball during the coronation dinner.
Earken to me, gentlemen,
Come and you shall heare ;
That ever born y-were.
The tone of them was Adler yonge,
The tother was kyng Eftmere ;
As any were farr and neare.
As they were drinking ale and wine
Within kyng Eftmeres halle :
A wyfe to gladd us all ?
Then bespake him kyng Eftmere,
And answered him haftilee :
† Mallet, Introd, a l'Hif. de Dannemarc, p. 240. Bartholini Antiq. Dar, p. 173.
I knowe not that ladye in any lande,
That is able
Kyng Adland hath a daughter, brother,
Men call her bright and sheene ; If I were kyng here in your stead,
That ladye fholde be queene.
Sayes, Reade me, reade me, deare brother,
Throughout merrye England, Where we might find a messenger
Betweene us two to sende.
Sayes, You shal ryde yourselfe, brother,
Ile beare you companèe ;
And I feare left foe shold wee.
Thus the renisht them to ryde
Of twoe good renisht steedes,
Of red golde hone their weedes.
And whan the came to kyng Adlands halle
Before the goodlye yate,
Rearing himselfe theratt.
* He means, fit, suitable.
Nowe Christ thee fave, good kyng Adland;
Nowe Christ thee fave and see.
Right hartilye unto mee,
You have a daughter, fayd Adler yonge,
Men call her bright and iheene,
Of Englande to bee queene.
Yesterdaye was at my deare daughter
Syr Bremor the kyng of Spayne ;
The kyng of Spayne is a foule paynim,
And 'leeveth on Mahound; And pitye it were that fayre ladyè
Shold marrye a heathen hound.
But grænt to me, sayes kyng Eftmere,
Althoughe itt is seven
yeare Syth my daughter was in halle, Shee shall come downe once for
To glad my guestès all.