Billeder på siden

The raven shall come, the erne shall

go, And drink the Saxon blood sae free.

The cross of stone they shall not know,

So thick the corses there shall be."

“ But tell me now," said brave Dunbar,

“ True Thomas, tell now unto me, What man shall rule the isle Britain,

Even from the north to the southern sea ?”.

“ A French queen shall bear the son,

Shall rule all Britain to the sea : He of the Bruce's blude shall come,

As near as in the ninth degree.

“ The waters worship shall his race,

Likewise the waves of the farthest sea; For they shall ride ower ocean wide,

With hempen bridles, and horse of tree."

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

HOMAS THE RHYMER was renowned among his contemporaries, as the author of the celebrated romance of Sir Tristrem. Of this once admired poem only one copy is known to exist, which is in the Advocates' Library. The author, in 1804, published a small edition of this curious work; which, if it does not revive the reputation of the bard of Erceldoune, is at least the earliest specimen of Scottish poetry hitherto published. Some account of this romance has already been given to the world in Mr Ellis's Specimens of Ancient Poetry,

vol. I. p. 165, 3d. p. 410; a work, to which our predecessors and our posterity are alike obliged; the former, for the preservation of the best selected examples of their poetical taste; and the latter, for a history of the English language, which will only cease to be interesting with the existence of our mother-tongue, and all that genius and learning have recorded in it. It is suffi. cient here to mention, that so great was the reputation of the romance of Sir Tristrem, that few were thought capable of reciting it after the manner of the author ;a circumstance alluded to by Robert de Brune, the annalist :

“ I see in song, in sedgeyng tale,
Of Erceldoun, and of Kendale.
Now thame says as they thame wroght,
And in thare saying it semes nocht,
That thou may here in Sir Tristrem,
Over gestes it has the steme,
Over all that is or was;
If men it said as made Thomas," &c.

It appears, from a very curious MS. of the thirteenth century, penes Mr Douce of London, containing a

[blocks in formation]

French metrical romance of Sir Tristrem, that the work of our Thomas the Rhymer was known, and referred to, by the minstrels of Normandy and Bretagne. Having arrived at a part of the romance, where reciters were wont to differ in the mode of telling the story, the French bard expressly cites the authority of the poèt of Erceldoune:

“ Plusurs de nos granter ne volent,

del naim dire se solent,
Ki femme Kaherdin dut aimer,
Li naim redut Tristram narrer,
E entusché par grant engin,
Quant il afole Kaherdin ;
Pur cest plaie e pur cest mal,
Enveiad Tristran Guvernal,
En Engleterre pur Ysolt
Thomas ico granter ne volt,
Et si volt par raisun mostrer,
Qu'ico ne put pas esteer,” &c.

The tale of Sir Tristrem, as narrated in the Edinburgh MS., is totally different from the voluminous romance in prose, originally compiled on the same subject by Rusticien de Puise, and analysed by M. de

Tressan; but agrees in every essential particular with the metrical performance just quoted, which is a work of much higher antiquity.

« ForrigeFortsæt »