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The superstition upon which all these stories are founded is said still to prevail among the ignorant members of the Greek Church, and it was revived at Damascus in 1840 in consequence of the disappearance of a priest named Thomaso. Two or three Jews were put to death before a proper judicial examination could be made, and the popular fury was so excited that severe persecution extended through a large part of the Turkish empire. Sir Moses Montefiore visited the various localities with the object of obtaining redress for his people, and he was successful. On November 6, 1840, a firman for the protection of the Jews was given at Constantinople, which contained the following passage:-" An ancient prejudice prevailed against the Jews. The ignorant believed that the Jews were accustomed to sacrifice a human being, to make use of his blood at the Passover. In consequence of this opinion the Jews of Damascus and Rhodes, who are subjects of our empire, have been persecuted by other nations. But a short time has elapsed since some Jews dwelling in the isle of Rhodes were brought from thence to Constantinople, where they had been tried and judged according to the new regulations, and their innocence of the accusations made against them fully proved." The calumny, however, was again raised in October, 1847, and the Jews were in imminent peril when the missing boy, who had been staying at Baalbec, reappeared in good health.
Within the last few years the Greek Patriarch at Constantinople has issued a pastoral letter, in which he points out the wickedness of the Christian persecution of the Jews. He says: "Superstition is a detestable thing. Almost all the Christian nations of the East have taken up the extravagant idea that the Israelites enjoy shedding Christian blood, either to obtain thereby a blessing from heaven, or to gratify their national rancour against Christ. Hence conflicts and disturbances break out, by which the social harmony between the dwellers in the same land, yea, the same fatherland, is disturbed. Thus a report was lately spread of the abduction of little Christian children in order to give a pretext for suspicion We on our side abhor such lying fancies; we regard them as the superstitions of men of weak faith and narrow minds; and we disavow them officially."
"Friar Jacomo. Why, what has he done?
Friar Barnardine. A thing that makes me tremble to unfold. Jac. What, has he crucified a child?
Bar. No, but a worse thing; 'twas told me in shrift;
Thou know'st 'tis death, an if it be reveal'd."
Dyce in his note quotes from Reed a reference to Tovey's Anglia Judaica, where instances of such crucifixion are given.]
The superstition, however, still lives on, and according to the Levant Herald (1874), the Mahometans are beginning to fall into the delusion that the sacrificial knife is applied by the Jews to young Turks as well as to young Christians.]
HE rain rins doun through Mirry-land
Sae dois it doune the Pa:
Sae dois the lads of Mirry-land toune,
Than out and cam the Jewis dochter,
Scho3 powd* an apple reid and white
And scho has taine out a little pen-knife,
Scho has twin'd' the yong thing and his life;
A word he nevir spak mair.
And out and cam the thick thick bluid,
And out and cam the thin:
And out and cam the bonny herts bluid:
Scho laid him on a dressing borde,
play-fellows. 5 dress.
⚫ parted in two.]
Scho rowd' him in a cake of lead,
Quhan bells wer rung, and mass was sung,
Scho rowd hir mantil hir about,
My bonny sir Hew, my pretty sir Hew,
Lady Helen ran to the deip draw-well,
"The lead is wondrous heavy, mither,
Gae hame, gae hame, my mither deir,
♫ she rolled.
HIS old romantic tale was preserved in the Editor's folio MS. but in so very defective and mutilated a condition (not from any chasm in the MS. but from great omission in the transcript, probably copied from the faulty recitation of some illiterate minstrell), and the whole appeared so far short of the perfection it seemed to deserve, that the Editor was tempted to add several stanzas in the first part, and still more in the second, to connect and compleat the story in the manner which appeared to him most interesting and affecting.
There is something peculiar in the metre of this old ballad: it is not unusual to meet with redundant stanzas of six lines; but the occasional insertion of a double third or fourth line, as ver. 31, &c. is an irregularity I do not remember to have seen elsewhere.
It may be proper to inform the reader before he comes to Pt. ii. V. 110, III, that the Round Table was not peculiar to the reign of K. Arthur, but was common in all the ages of chivalry. The proclaiming a great turnament (probably with some peculiar solemnities) was called "holding a Round Table." Dugdale tells us, that the great baron Roger de Mortimer "having procured the honour of knighthood to be conferred on his three sons' by K. Edw. I. he, at his own costs, caused a tourneament to be held at Kenilworth; where he sumptuously entertained an hundred knights, and as many ladies, for three days; the like whereof was never before in England; and there began the Round Table, (so called by reason that the place wherein they practised those feats was environed with a strong wall made in a round form :) And upon the fourth day, the golden lion, in sign of triumph, being yielded to him; he carried it (with all the company) to Warwick. -It may further be added, that Matthew Paris frequently calls justs and turnaments Hastiludia Mensa Rotunda.
As to what will be observed in this ballad of the art of healing being practised by a young princess; it is no more than what is usual in all the old romances, and was conformable to real manners: it being a practice derived from the earliest times among all the Gothic and Celtic nations, for women, even of the highest rank, to exercise the art of surgery. In the Northern Chronicles we always find the young damsels stanching the wounds of their
lovers, and the wives those of their husbands. And even so late as the time of Q. Elizabeth, it is mentioned among the accomplishments of the ladies of her court, that the "eldest of them are skilful in surgery." See Harrison's Description of England, prefixed to Hollinshed's Chronicle, &c.
[This story of Sir Cauline furnishes one of the most flagrant instances of Percy's manipulation of his authorities. In the following poem all the verses which are due to Percy's invention are placed between brackets, but the whole has been so much altered by him that it has been found necessary to reprint the original from the folio MS. at the end in order that readers may compare the two. Percy put into his version several new incidents and altered the ending, by which means he was able to dilute the 201 lines of the MS. copy into 392 of his own. There was no necessity for this perversion of the original, because the story is there complete, and moreover Percy did not sufficiently indicate the great changes he had made, for although nearly every verse is altered he only noted one trivial difference of reading, viz. aukeward for backward (v. 109).
Motherwell reprinted this ballad in his Minstrelsy, and in his prefatory note he made the following shrewd guess, which we now know to be a correct one:-"We suspect too that the ancient ballad had a less melancholy catastrophe, and that the brave Syr Cauline, after his combat with the 'hend Soldan' derived as much benefit from the leechcraft of fair Cristabelle as he did after winning the Eldridge sword." Professor Child has expressed the same view in his note to the ballad.
Buchan printed a ballad entitled King Malcolm and Sir Colvin, which is more like the original than Percy's version, but Mr. Hales is of opinion that this was one of that collector's fabrications.]
THE FIRST PART.
N Ireland, ferr over the sea,
There dwelleth a bonnye kinge;
And with him a yong and comlye knighte,
See Northern Antiquities, &c. vol. i. p. 318; vol. ii. p. 100. Memoires de la Chevalerie, tom. i. p. 44.