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the evident relationship of Anglo Sason and Scandinavian poetry. Following in some measure the path of Hardouin, he maintains that the Norwegian Scallds never existed. The wild theology of the Asi is asserted to be a gratuitous invention—the materials gathered and distorted from classical poetry and the rabbinical reveries of the Talmud. It would be less paradoxical to support a contrary theory, and to suppose that the Anglo-Saxon poetry was influenced by intercourse with Scandinavia. Northern Scallds were welcome guests at the courts of the English kings, and even in the days of Snorro, the similarity between the languages of England and Norway was so evident as to induce him to maintain their primitive identity. The bistorical poetry of the Anglo-Saxons appears to have embraced every possible yariety, from the most fanciful romance to the mere colouring of praise and description. Ju the lays of Horne Childe, of Haveloke, aud of Attla, king of East. Anglia, all of Anglo-Saxon origin, though now existing only in versions of recent date, an historical name, or a well known locality may be discovered, but the entire. superstructure is the invention of the minstrel. Not unfrequently a connexion may be discerned with the songs of the heroic age, which constituted the web both of the Teutonic - Helden Buch', and the historical songs of the · Edda.' Haveloke, so long lamented as lost, has lately been brought to light amongst the untouched stores of the Bodleian library.* Perhaps the 'Tale of Wade' will in like manner reappear.
The local traditions respecting his castle and his grave, indicate that Wade, the Northumbrian chieftain, had been confounded with Vade, the giant of the Wilkina-Saga.
Historical songs preserved by memory and recitation were very popular, Every age added to their number. If the fleeting genealogy of song could be discovered, we should probably find that the humble ballads of the persecuted minstrels, even down to the period when they were declared by act of parliament to be' rogues, vagabonds, and sturdy beggars,' were often derived from these strains. One favourite ballad related to the fortunes of Gunhilda, the sister of king Canute, how she was espoused to Henry, the emperor of Almaine; how, like so many other fair Queens, she was accused of naughtiness, and how, like all such fair Queens in romance, the wicked informer was defeated and slain. in single combat, the defender of the calumniated Gunbilda being the very Mimecan, or Mimetan, who had accompanied her from merry England. This tale, of which the outline is preserved
* For this discovery we are indebted to Mr. Frederick Madden, who contemplates publishing this very interesting memorial. Mr. Madden is also in possession of a third English version of the gest of King Horne, unknown to Ritson.
by: Florilegus' and Malmesbury, is entirely lost in verse; but it is remarkable that the dwarf Mimretand, the least of men,' is the hero of one of the Kæmpe viser of the Danes, to whoin Gunhillda and her fortunes seem to be entirely unknown. Malmesbury, who often appeals to ancient ballads, carefully distinguishes their authority from more faithful chronicles. Athelstane,' the Lord of Earls, the Giver of Bracelets,' was the hero of an entire cycle. Many of the particulars of his life, as given by Malmesbury, have no other source; and his character, like that of Charlemagne, became that of a mythical monarch. Malmesbury enables us to pause before we adopt the statements derived from the tale of the gleeman. In older and less critical writers, the reader is not thus warned, and in the midst of the gravest narrations we may sometimes discover, or at least suspect, these pleasing fictions. Alfred and Anlaf, both disguised as harpers, both using the same identical stratagem for the same identical purpose, and both meeting with the same success, had probably their common prototype in some good Knight " well taught of harp and song.
The poems which rank above the mere ballad are entitled to a reasonable share of credit. Notwithstanding the pompous diction of the well known ode on the battle of Brunnaburgh, it betrays no falsification or inaccuracy. Beortooth, the strenuous adversary of the Danish invaders, who holds such a conspicuous place in history, is the hero of a poem of this description. The fragments of these historical poems enable us to judge of the merit of the class, and give us reason to deplore that so small a portion has been preserved.
The information derived, more or less directly, from poetry forms an essential element of ancient history, and the use to which it can be applied must often be a subject of consideration. In the metrical chronicle or metrical biography we may find a narrative almost as veracious as plain prose, allowing only for the occasional colouring of poetical phraseology, and the urgency of the laws of verse. The more these productions approach to the rhapsody or the epic, the more will anachronisms and incongruities increase, and the greater will be the necessity of submitting the assumed facts to the rigid test of chronology. If the date of the event or the age of the individual cannot be ascertained with a reasonable degree of certainty, the battle and the hero must be expunged from the page of history. Time is the essence of bistory, in its true and peculiar sense; and unless the facts can be arranged in their natural order, they cease to possess their authentic warranty. How far the fragments and incidents inscribed upon the scattered Sibylline leaves of the poet can be applied in VOL. XXXIV. NO. LXVII.
falsification, and, therefore, when he narrates probable facts it is fair to conclude that he is equally veracious, although the Saxon original of his chronicle be not extant.,
It is important to establish the character of Florilegus with respect to such insertions, because he comes before us in a questionable shape, and he is sometimes considered as a mere copyist of Florence of Worcester; but there are many parallel passages to show that Florilegus translated from u Saxon chronicle, and that he did not copy from Florence. We do not say that he translated from the Saxon Chronicle, because his text was probably not one of those which we now possess, though in many paragraphs it agreed with them without variation; and several passages can be pointed out which show that the chronicle of Florilegus is an independent translation. The translation is intended to be literal: and the errors are incontrovertible testimonies that the writer had at least the merit of origwal research.
Simon of Durham, the precentor of the Cathedral, and to whom we owe the preservation of the history of the see, seems to have been nearly contemporary with Florence of Worcester. His chronicle of the deeds of the English kings' con mences with the death of Bede, and is continued to the death of Stephen. Simon was peculiarly attentive to the history of the kingdom of Northumbria, and he has inserted various particulars of the events and revolutions of that turbulent state which are absent in other chronicles. In no part of the island did the Danes effect so thorough a destruction of the church establishment as in Northumbria. And after the age of Bede. the history of the kingdom, except when connected with the events of Mercia and Wessex, is almost entirely lost. Jarrow, and Durham, and Lindisfairne, the ancient seats of religion and learning, were plundered and destroyed, all their libraries perished, and the few, but important, details of internal history given by Simon were probably preserved only by their entry in the blank leaf of some sacred volume which a monk was enabled to bear with him in his flight from the scene of desolation. The passages to which we allude are so minute and particular as to leave no doubt of their authenticity, and at the same time they are so scantily dispersed in the text, of which the greatest part is translated from the Saxon chronicle or borrowed from Asser, as to convince us that they cannot have been extracted from any ample and perfect chronicle.
All the foregoing works are strictly chronological, the events are narrated in the natural order without any artificial system or. arrangement. A more ambitious attempt is made in the history of Henry, Archdeacon of Huntingdon. Abandoning the simple plan of his predecessors, he divided his history into books, treat
ing distinctly upon each of the kingdoms of the Heptarchy until their union under Edgar. Huntingdon states that, taking Bede as his basis, he added much from other sources, and borrowed from the chronicles which he found in ancient libraries. His descriptions of battles are often more diffuse than in the Anglo-Saxon, chronicles. It has been supposed that because these scenes and pictures are not warranted by the existing texts, they are mere historical amplifications, but we find no difficulty in believing that the researches of a writer, who was considered as a most learned antiquarian, should have enabled him to discover a chronicle lost to us, and which contained more fragments of poetry or poetical prose than the chronicles which have been preserved. It has been remarked that when Henry of Huntingdon is not transcribing Bede, or translating the Saxon annals, he may be placed on the same shelf with Geoffrey of Monmouth;', and the passage describing the battle of Burford (752) has been considered as "replete with absurdities,' such as the mention of 'Amazonian battle-axes;' but why should not the battle of Burford have been sung like the battle of Brunnan Burgh? The inappropriate 'application of a classical phrase may display the want of skill in the translator without throwing any discredit upon his fidelity.
Huntingdon indicates that he had consulted some chronicle of the kingdom of Essex.
H. H. p. 180. Regnum Estsexe, id est, orientalium Saxonum, incipit, quod primus (ut putatur) tenuit Erchenwin, secundum quod ex veterum scriptis conjicere possumus, quifuit filius Offæ, filii Biedcan, filii Sigewlf, filii Spoewe, filii Gesae, filii Andesc, filii Saxnat.* Post Erchenwin vero regnavit Šlede filius ejus qui, ducens filiam Ermerici regis Cantuariorum sororem scilicet Ethelberti, genuit ex ea Siberctum qui primus regum Estsexe conversus est ad fidem.'
This passage is the only memorial of the foundation of the kingdom of Essex, and affords the most important explanation of the Saxon chronicle. Ethelbert, it is related in the chronicle, appointed his nephew, the son of his sister Ricola, to be king of Essex ;t but from this language it could never be inferred that Şebyrht was already entitled to the kingdom by hereditary right, and as the lawful son of the late King. Ethelbert, the Brætwalda,
Saxnote, who appears at the head of this genealogy, was one of the three great deities of the old or continental Saxons. In the capitulary' apud Liptinas,' A.D. 743, the form by which the convert renounced idolatry is given. He rénounces all the devil's works, and all the devil's words—Thunaer, Woden, and Saxnote.' Thor and Woden or Odin are sufficiently explained by the Scandinavian mythology, but who is Saxiyote? The German antiquaries are puzzled, and with their usual spirit of conjectural criticism, propose various emendations and distortions in order to compel the unlucky devil's word to assume a meaning. It would be better to acknowledge that we know nothing about the matter. † Saxon Chron. p. 29:
the emperor, or supreme sovereign of England, did not transfer the crown to a branch of his own family as a conqueror; he merely confirmed the possession of the rightful heir. Great light is hereby thrown upon the occurrences of the same nature where equivalent expressions are employed in the Saxon chronicle.
William of Malmesbury possessed a more critical spirit than any of his predecessors.* He was an excellent scholar. All the stores of Roman literature were familiar to him; nor was he less diligent in the investigation of the antiquities of his own country. But the literature of Malmesbury, which embellishes his narration, has deprived it of much of the interest which it would have possessed had his taste been less elegant and cultivated. His fastidious ear is shocked by the barbarous appellations of English provinces and English kings. He suppresses such details lest they should offend the reader, and attempts to mould bis matter into classical uniformity, or, as he expresses his plan, to adorn the English history with · Roman art. This refinement, perhaps, is the chief defect which can be remarked in Malmesbury, whose just appreciation of the duties of an historian place him deservedly at the head of the writers of his age. Like Huntingdon he considered Bede as the foundation of his work. He glances at the Saxon chroniclers, condemns Ethelward, and praises Eadmer. A poem which narrated the life and actions of Athelstane in Latin hexameters is quoted by him. But besides these authorities, which he acknowledges, he occasionally abridges the chronicle of Florilegus, which he never names, in such a manner as to leave no doubt of the obligation.
We have hitherto considered the chroniclers and historians posśessing a greater or lesser degree of literary relationship. But there are others, which cannot be classed with precision, and whose pretensions require individual examination. If the 'era in which Nennius is placed by his editors could be considered as the real date of the work, the British writer would be equal in age, if not in authority, with Gildas the Wise, but the writer himself gives the positive date of 858 as the year of the composition of the work, in a passage which, as we are informed, is found in every good manuscript; and it is difficult to discover any possible reason which could induce the supposition of higher antiquity.
William of Malmesbury is generally supposed to have died in 1143, though it is probable that he survived this period some time, for his modern history terminates at the end of the year 1142, and it appears that he lived long enough after its publication to make many corrections, alterations and insertious in that work as well as in the other portion of his history.'—(William of Malmesbury translated by the Rev. John Sharpe, London, 1815, Pref, p. viii.) Mr. Sharpe's translation is a valuable addition to the English historical library.-Why has he not fulfilled his promise of translating William of Newburgh?--His labours would surely be amply rewarded.