Sidor som bilder

We been harpers, sayd Adler yonge,
Come out of the northe countrée;


We beene come hither untill this place,

This proud weddinge for to see.

Sayd, And your color were white and redd,

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And sore he handled the ryng,

Then opened to them the fayre hall yates,
He lett for no kind of thyng.

Kyng Estmere he light off his steede


Up att the fayre hall board;

The frothe, that came from his brydle bitte,
Light on kyng Bremors beard.

Sayes, Stable thy steede, thou proud harper,

Go stable him in the stalle;


Itt doth not beseeme a proud harpèr

To stable 'him' in a kyngs halle.

My ladd he is so lither, he sayd,

He will do nought that's meete;

And aye that I cold but find the man,

Were able him to beate.

Thou speakst proud words, sayd the Paynim king,

Thou harper here to mee:

There is a man within this halle,

That will beate thy lad and thee.

V. 202, to stable his steede, fol. MS.



O lett that man come downe, he sayd,

A sight of him wold I see;

And whan hee hath beaten well my ladd,
Then he shall beate of mee.

Downe then came the kemperye man,


And looked him in the eare;

For all the gold, that was under heaven,

He durst not neigh him neare.

And how nowe, kempe, sayd the kyng of Spayne,

And how what aileth thee?


He sayes, Itt is written in his forhead

All and in gramaryè,

That for all the gold that is under heaven,

I dare not neigh him nye.

Kyng Estmere then pulled forth his harpe,
And played thereon so sweete:


Upstarte the ladye from the kynge,

As hee sate at the meate.

Now stay thy harpe, thou proud harper,
Now stay thy harpe, I say;


For an thou playest as thou beginnest,
Thou❜lt till 4 my bride awaye.

He strucke upon his harpe agayne,
And playd both fayre and free;
The ladye was so pleasde theratt,
She laught loud laughters three.

Nowe sell me thy harpe, sayd the kyng of Spayne,

Thy harpe and stryngs eche one,

And as many gold nobles thou shalt have,

As there be stryngs thereon.

4. e. entice. Vide Gloss. For gramarye, see the end of this ballad.



And what wold ye doe with my harpe, he sayd,

Iff I did sell it yee?

"To playe my wiffe and me a FITT5,

When abed together we bee."

Now sell me, quoth hee, thy bryde soe gay,


As shee sitts laced in pall,

And as many gold nobles I will give,

As there be rings in the hall.

And what wold ye doe with my bryde soe gay,

Iff I did sell her yee?


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And loud they gan to crye:

Ah! traytors, yee have slayne our kyng,
And therefore yee shall dye.

Kyng Estmere threwe the harpe asyde,
And swith he drew his brand;


5 i. e. a tune or strain of music. See Gloss.

And Estmere he, and Adler yonge

Right stiffe in stour can stand.

And aye their swordes soe sore can byte,

Throughe help of Gramaryè,

That soone they have slayne the kempery men,


Or forst them forth to flee.

Kyng Estmere tooke that fayre ladyè,

And marryed her to his wyfe,

And brought her home to merrye England

With her to leade his lyfe.


*** The word Gramarye, which occurs several times in the foregoing poem, is probably a corruption of the French word Grimoire, which signifies a conjuring-book in the old French romances, if not the art of necromancy itself.

*** Termagaunte (mentioned above in p. 51) is the name given in the old romances to the god of the Saracens: in which he is constantly linked with Mahound, or Mahomet. Thus, in the legend of Syr Guy the Soudan (Sultan) swears, "So helpe me Mahowne of might,

And Termagaunt my God so bright."

Sign. p. iij. b.

This word is derived by the very learned editor of Junius from the Anglo-Saxon Typ very, and Wagan mighty. As this word has so sublime a derivation, and was so applicable to the true God, how shall we account for its being so degraded? Perhaps Typ-mazan or Termagant had been a name originally given to some Saxon idol, before our ancestors were converted to Christianity, or had been the peculiar attribute of one of their false deities; and therefore the first Christian missionaries rejected it as profane, and improper to be applied to the true God. Afterwards, when the irruptions of the Saracens into Europe, and the Crusades into the East, had brought them acquainted with a new

species of unbelievers, our ignorant ancestors, who thought all that did not receive the Christian law were necessarily Pagans and Idolaters, supposed the Mahometan creed was in all respects the same with that of their Pagan forefathers, and therefore made no scruple to give the ancient name of Termagant to the god of the Saracens; just in the same manner as they afterwards used the name of Sarazen to express any kind of Pagan or Idolater. In the ancient romance of Merline (in the Editor's folio MS.) the Saxons themselves that came over with Hengist, because they were not Christians, are constantly called Sarazens.

However that be, it is certain that, after the times of the Crusades, both Mahound and Termagaunt made their frequent appearance in the Pageants and religious Enterludes of the barbarous ages; in which they were exhibited with gestures so furious and frantic, as to become proverbial. Thus Skelton speaks of Wolsey,

"Like Mahound in a play,
No man dare him withsay."
Ed. 1736, p. 158.

And Bale, describing the threats used by some Papist magistrates to his wife, speaks of them as " grennyng upon her lyke Termagauntes in a playe." [Actes of Engl. Votaryes, pt. 2. fo. 83. ed. 1550. 12mo.] Hence we may conceive the force of Hamlet's expression in Shakspeare, where, condemning a ranting player, he says, "I could have such a fellow whipt for ore-doing Termagant: it out-herods Herod." A. iii. sc. 3. By degrees the word came to be applied to an outrageous turbulent person, and especially to a violent brawling woman, to whom alone it is now confined: and this the rather, as, I suppose, the character of Termagant was anciently represented on the stage after the eastern mode, with long robes or petticoats.

Another frequent character in the old Pageants or Enterludes of our ancestors, was the Sowdan or Soldan, representing a grim eastern tyrant. This appears from a curious passage in Stow's Annals, (p. 458.) In a stage-play "the

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