Gesta Romanorum Vol. II (1871)/Of mental Constancy

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Gesta Romanorum Vol. II  (1871) 
Anonymous, translated by Charles Swan
Of mental Constancy



In the reign of a certain king of England, there were two knights, one of whom was called Guido, and the other Tyrius. The former engaged in many wars, and always triumphed. He was enamoured of a beautiful girl of noble family, but whom he could not prevail upon to marry, until he had encountered many enemies for her sake. At last, at the conclusion of a particular exploit, he gained her consent, and married her with great splendour. On the third night succeeding their nuptials, about cock-crowing, he arose from his bed to look upon the sky; and amongst the most lustrous stars, he clearly distinguished our Lord Jesus Christ, who said, "Guido, Guido! you have fought much and valiantly for the love of a woman; it is now time that you should encounter my enemies with equal resolution." Having so said, our Lord vanished. Guido, therefore, perceiving that it was his pleasure to send him to the Holy Land, to avenge him upon the infidels, returned to his wife. "I go to the Holy Land; should Providence bless us with a child, attend carefully to its education until my return." The lady, startled at these words, sprung up from the bed, as one distracted, and catching a dagger, which was placed at the head of the couch, cried out, "Oh, my lord, I have always loved you, and looked forward with anxiety to our marriage, even when you were in battle, and spreading your fame over all the world. And will you now leave me? First will I stab myself with this dagger." Guido arose, and took away the weapon. "My beloved," said he, "your words alarm me. I have vowed to God, that I will visit the Holy Land. The best opportunity is the present, before old age come upon me. Be not disturbed; I will soon return." Somewhat comforted with this assurance, she presented to him a ring. "Take this ring, and as often as you look upon it in your pilgrimage, think of me. I will await, with patience, your return." The knight bade her farewell, and departed in company with Tyrius. As for the lady, she gave herself up to her sorrows for many days, and would not be consoled. In due time, she brought forth a son of extreme beauty, and tenderly watched over his infant years.

Guido and Tyrius, in the meanwhile, passed through many countries; and heard at last that the kingdom of Dacia[1] had been subdued by the infidels. "My friend," said Guido, to his associate, "do you enter this kingdom; and since the king of it is a Christian, assist him with all your power. I will proceed to the Holy Land; and when I have combated against the foes of Christ, I will return to you, and we will joyfully retrace our steps to England." "Whatever pleases you," replied his friend, "shall please me. I will enter this kingdom; and if you live, come to me. We will return together to our own country." Guido promised; and exchanging kisses, they separated with much regret. The one proceeded to the Holy Land, and the other to Dacia. Guido fought many battles against the Saracens, and was victorious in all; so that his fame flew to the ends of the earth. Tyrius, in like manner, proved fortunate in war, and drove the infidels from the Dacian territory. The king loved and honored him above all others; and conferred on him great riches. But there was at that time, a savage nobleman, called Plebeus, in whose heart the prosperity of Tyrius, excited an inordinate degree of hate and envy. He accused him to the king, of treason; and malevolently insinuated, that he designed to make himself master of the kingdom. The king credited the assertion, and ungratefully robbed him of all the honors which his bounty had conferred. Tyrius, therefore, was reduced to extreme want, and had scarcely the common sustenance of life. Thus desolate, he gave free course to his griefs; and exclaimed in great tribulation, "Wretch that I am! what shall become of me?" While he was thus afflicted, Guido, journeying alone, in the habit of a pilgrim, met him by the way, and knew him, but was not recognized by his friend. He, however, presently remembered Tyrius, and retaining his disguise, approached him, and said, "My friend! from whence are you?" "From foreign parts," answered Tyrius, "but I have now been many years in this country. I had once a companion in arms, who proceeded to the Holy Land, but if he be alive or dead, I know not; nor what have been his fortunes." "For the love of thy companion, then," said Guido, "suffer me to rest my head upon your lap, and sleep a little, for I am very weary." He assented, and Guido fell asleep.

Now, while he slept, his mouth stood open; and as Tyrius looked, he discovered a white weasel pass out of it, and run toward a neighbouring mountain, which it entered. After remaining there a short space, it returned, and again ran down the sleeper's throat. Guido straitway awoke, and said, "My friend, I have had a wonderful dream! I thought a weasel went out of my mouth, and entered yon mountain, and after that returned." "Sir," answered Tyrius, "what you have seen in a dream, I beheld with my own eyes. But what that weasel did in the mountain, I am altogether ignorant." "Let us go and look," observed the other, "perhaps we may find something useful." Accordingly they entered the place which the weasel had been seen to enter, and found there a dead dragon, filled with gold. There was a sword also, of peculiar polish, and inscribed as follows: "By means of this sword, Guido shall overcome the adversary of Tyrius." Rejoiced at the discovery, the disguised pilgrim said, "My friend, the treasure is thine, but the sword I will take into my own possession." "My lord," he answered, "I do not deserve so much gold; why should you bestow it upon me?" "Raise your eyes," said Guido, "I am your friend!" Hearing this, he looked at him more narrowly; and when he recollected his heroic associate, he fell upon the earth for joy, and wept exceedingly. "It is enough; I have lived enough, now that I have seen you." "Rise," returned Guido, "rise quickly, you ought to rejoice rather than weep at my coming. I will combat your enemy, and we will proceed honorably to England. But tell no one who I am." Tyrius arose, fell upon his neck, and kissed him. He then collected the gold, and hastened to his home; but Guido knocked at the gate of the king's palace. The porter enquired the cause, and he informed him that he was a pilgrim newly arrived from the Holy Land. He was immediately admitted, and presented to the king, at whose side sat the invidious nobleman who had deprived Tyrius of his honors and wealth. "Is the Holy Land at peace?" enquired the monarch. "Peace is now firmly established," replied Guido, "and many have been converted to Christianity."

King. Did you see an English knight there, called Guido, who has fought so many battles?

Guido. I have seen him often, my lord, and have eaten with him.

King. Is any mention made of the Christian kings?

Guido. Yes, my lord; and of you also. It is said, that the Saracens and other infidels had taken possession of your kingdom, and that from their thraldom you were delivered by the valour of a noble knight, named Tyrius, afterwards promoted to great honor and riches. It is likewise said, that you unjustly deprived this same Tyrius of what you had conferred, at the malevolent instigation of a knight, called Plebeus.

Plebeus. False pilgrim! since thou presumest to utter these lies, hast thou courage enough to defend them? If so, I offer thee battle. That very Tyrius would have dethroned the king. He was a traitor, and therefore lost his honors.

Guido, to the king. My lord, since he has been pleased to say that I am a false pilgrim, and that Tyrius is a traitor, I demand the combat. I will prove upon his body that he lies.

King. I am well pleased with your determination: nay, I entreat you not to desist.

Guido. Furnish me with arms, then, my lord.

King. Whatever you want, shall be got ready for you.

The king then appointed a day of battle; and fearing lest the pilgrim, Guido, should in the meantime fall by treachery, he called to him his daughter, a virgin, and said, "As you love the life of that pilgrim, watch over him, and let him want for nothing." In compliance, therefore, with her father's wish, she brought him into her own chamber, bathed him[2], and supplied him with every requisite. On the day of battle, Plebeus armed himself, and standing at the gate, exclaimed, "Where is that false pilgrim? why does he tarry?" Guido, hearing what was said, put on his armour, and hastened to the lists. They fought so fiercely, that Plebeus would have died, had he not drank. Addressing his antagonist, he said, "Good pilgrim, if thou wilt courteously permit me to slake my thirst, I will do the like for thee, shouldst thou need it." "I consent," answered Guido, "go and drink." Having quenched his thirst, they continued the battle, with redoubled animosity. By and by, however, Guido himself thirsted, and required the same courtesy, to be shewn him, as he had exhibited. "I vow to heaven," answered his enemy, "that you shall taste nothing, except by the strong hand." At this ungrateful return, Guido defending himself as well as he could, approached the water, leaped in, and drank as much as he wished. Then springing out, he rushed upon the treacherous Plebeus, like a raging lion; who, at last, sought refuge in flight. The king, observing what passed, caused them to be separated, and to rest for that night, that in the morning they might be ready to renew the contest. The pilgrim then re-entered his chamber; and received from the king's daughter, all the kindness it was in her power to display. She bound up his wounds, prepared supper, and placed him upon a strong wooden pallet. Wearied with the exertions of the day, he fell asleep.

Now Plebeus had seven sons, all strong men. He sent for them, and spoke thus, "My dear children, I give you to understand, that unless this pilgrim be destroyed to-night, I may reckon myself among the dead to-morrow. I never looked upon a braver man." "My dear father," said one, "we will presently get rid of him." About midnight, therefore, they entered the girl's chamber, where the pilgrim slept; and beneath which the sea flowed. They said to one another, "If we destroy him in bed, we are no better than dead men: let us toss him, bed and all, into the sea. It will be thought that he has fled." This scheme was approved; and accordingly they took up the sleeping warrior, and hurled him into the waves[3]. He slept on, however, without perceiving what had happened. The same night, a fisherman following his occupation, heard the fall of the bed, and by the light of the moon, saw him floating upon the water. Much surprised, he called out, "In the name of God, who are you? Speak, that I may render assistance, before the waves swallow you up." Guido, awoke by the clamour, arose, and perceiving the sky and stars above, and the ocean beneath, wondered where he was, "Good friend," said he to the fisherman, "assist me and I will amply reward you. I am the pilgrim who fought in the lists; but how I got hither, I have no conception." The man, hearing this, took him into his vessel, and conveyed him to his house, where he rested till the morning.

The sons of Plebeus, in the mean while, related what they thought the end of the pilgrim, and bade their parent discard his fear. The latter, much exhilarated, arose, and armed himself; and going to the gate of the palace, called out, "Bring forth that pilgrim, that I may complete my revenge." The king commanded his daughter to awake, and prepare him for battle. Accordingly she went into his room, but he was not to be found. She wept bitterly, exclaiming, that some one had conveyed away her treasure; and the surprise occasioned by the intelligence, was not less, when it became known that his bed was also missing. Some said that he had fled: others, that he was murdered. Plebeus, however, continued his clamour at the gate. "Bring out your pilgrim; to-day I will present his head to the king." Now while all was bustle and enquiry in the palace, the fisherman made his way to the royal seat, and said, "Grieve not, my lord, for the loss of the pilgrim. Fishing last night in the sea, I observed him floating upon a bed. I took him on board my vessel, and he is now asleep at my house." This news greatly cheered the king, and he immediately sent to him to prepare for a renewal of the contest. But Plebeus terrified, and apprehensive of the consequence, besought a truce. This was denied, even for a single hour. Both, therefore, re-entered the lists, and each struck twice; but at the third blow Guido cut off his opponent's arm, and afterwards his head. He presented it to the king, who evinced himself well satisfied with the event; and hearing that the sons of Plebeus were instruments in the meditated treachery, he caused them to be crucified. The pilgrim was loaded with honours, and offered immense wealth, which he resolutely declined. Through him Tyrius was re-instated in his former dignity, and recompensed for his past suffering. He then bade the king farewell. "Good friend," returned the monarch, "for the love of heaven, leave me not ignorant of your name." "My lord," answered he, "I am that Guido, of whom you have often heard." Overjoyed at this happy discovery, the king fell upon his neck, and promised him a large part of his dominions if he would remain. But he could not prevail; and the warrior, after returning his friendly salutation, departed.

Guido embarked for England, and hastened to his own castle. He found a great number of paupers standing about his gate; and amongst them, habited as a pilgrim, sat the countess his wife. Every day did she thus minister to the poor, bestowing a penny upon each; with a request that he would pray for the safety of her husband Guido, that once more, before death, she might rejoice in his presence. It happened on the very day of his return, that his son, now seven years of age, sat with his mother among the mendicants sumptuously apparelled. When he heard his mother address the person who experienced her bounty in the manner mentioned above, "Mother," said he, "is it not my father whom you recommend to the prayers of these poor people?" "It is, my son," replied she; "the third night following our marriage, he left me; and I have never seen him since." Now as the lady walked among her dependents, who were ranged in order, she approached her own husband, Guido, and gave him alms—but she knew not who he was. He bowed his head in acknowledgement, fearful lest his voice should discover him. As the countess walked, her son followed; and Guido, raising his eyes, and seeing his offspring, whom he had not before seen, he could not contain himself. He caught him in his arms, and kissed him. "My darling child," said he, "may the Lord give thee grace to do that which is pleasing in his eyes." The lady, observing the emotion and action of the pilgrim, called to him and bade him stand there no longer. He approached, and without making himself known, entreated of his wife permission to occupy some retired place in the neighbouring forest; and she, supposing that he was the pilgrim he appeared to be, for the love of God, and of her husband, built him a hermitage, and there he remained a long time. But being on the point of death, he called his attendant, and said, "Go quickly to the countess: give her that ring, and say, that if she wishes to see me, she must come hither with all speed ." The messenger went accordingly, and delivered the ring. As soon as she had seen it, she exclaimed, "It is my lord's ring" and with a fleet foot, hurried into the forest. But Guido was dead. She fell upon the corpse, and with a loud voice cried, "Woe is me! my hope is extinct!" and then with sighs and lamentations, continued, "Where are now the alms I distributed in behalf of my lord? I beheld my husband receive my gifts with his own hands, and knew him not. And as for thee," (apostrophising the dead body,) "thou sawest thy child and trembledst. Thou didst kiss him, and yet revealed not thyself to me! What hast thou done? Oh Guido! Guido! never shall I see thee more!" She sumptuously interred his body; and bewailed his decease for many days. (101)


My beloved, the knight represents Christ, the wife is the soul, and Tyrius is man in general. The weasel typifies John and the other prophets, who predicted the coming of Christ. The mountain is the world. The dead dragon is the old law, and the treasure within it, is the ten commandments. The sword is authority; the king's daughter, the Virgin Mary. The seven sons of Plebeus, are seven mortal sins; the fisherman is the Holy Ghost.

  1. A country of Scythia beyond Hungary; divided into Transylvania, Walachia, and Moldavia.
  2. "This was a common practice in the times of chivalry, and many examples of it may be found in ancient romances. The ladies not only assisted in bathing the knights, after the fatigues of battle, but administered proper medicines to heal their wounds. Similar instances occur in the writings of Homer. In the Odyssey, Polycaste, one of the daughters of Nestor, bathes Telemachus; and it appears that Helen herself had performed the like office for Ulysses."—Douce. Illus. of Shakspeare, Vol. II. p, 401.
  3. This accident might have furnished Lord Byron with the mysterious disappearance of Sir Ezzelin, in his "Lara." But I should scarcely think it.

Note 101.Page 370.

"The reader perceives this is the story of Guido or Guy, Earl of Warwick; and probably this is the early outline of the life and death of that renowned champion[1].

"Many romances were at first little more than legends of devotion, containing the pilgrimage of an old warrior. At length, as chivalry came more into vogue, and the stores of invention were increased, the youthful and active part of the pilgrim's life was also written, and a long series of imaginary martial adventures was added, in which his religious was eclipsed by his heroic character, and the penitent was lost in the knight-errant. That which was the principal subject of the short and simple legend, became only the remote catastrophe of the voluminous romance. And hence, by degrees, it was almost an established rule of every romance, for the knight to end his days in a hermitage. Cervantes has ridiculed this circumstance with great pleasantry, where Don Quixote holds a grave debate with Sancho, whether he shall turn saint or archbishop.

"So reciprocal, or rather so convertible, was the pious and the military character, that even some of the Apostles had their romance. In the ninth century, the chivalrous and fabling spirit of the Spaniards transformed Saint James into a knight. They pretended that he appeared and fought with irresistible fury, completely armed, and mounted on a stately white horse, in most of their engagements with the Moors; and because, by his superior prowess in these bloody conflicts, he was supposed to have freed the Spaniards from paying the annual tribute of a hundred Christian virgins to their infidel enemies, they represented him as a professed and powerful champion of distressed damsels. This apotheosis of chivalry in the person of their own apostle, must have ever afterwards contributed to exaggerate the characteristical romantic heroism of the Spaniards, by which it was occasioned; and to propagate, through succeeding ages, a stronger veneration for that species of military enthusiasm, to which they were naturally devoted. It is certain, that in consequence of these illustrious achievements in the Moorish wars, Saint James was constituted patron of Spain; and became the founder of one of the most magnificent shrines, and of the most opulent order of knighthood, now existing in Christendom. The legend of this invincible apostle is inserted in the Mosarabic Liturgy."—Warton,

The following is an abstract of the romance of Sir Guy above alluded to.

"The piety of Sir Guy was neither less capricious, nor less disastrous in its consequences, than the affection of his mistress. He had been taught that other duties were more sacred and more acceptable in the sight of heaven, than those of husband and father. But the historian shall tell his own story. At the end of forty days after the marriage, it happened that

"As Sir Guy came from play,
Into a tower he went on high,
And looked about him, far and nigh;
Guy stood, and bethought him, tho,
How he had done many a man wo,
And slain many a man with his hand,
Burnt and destroyed many a land,
And all was for woman's love,
And not for God's sake above.

"Felice, who had observed his reverie, inquired the cause; and learnt, with horror and astonishment, his determination to spend the remainder of his life in a state of penance and mortification. He contented himself with directing her, whenever their child should be of proper age, if it should prove a son, to intrust his education to Sir Heraud; and quitted her without taking leave of the earl, and even without communicating to his old companion Heraud the singular resolution he had formed. Felice, unable to detain him, places on his finger a gold ring, requesting him to bestow at least a thought on her whenever he should cast his eyes on that pledge of her affection; and her husband, after promising to obey her instructions, assumes the dress of a palmer, and departs for the Holy Land.

"Felice, communicates to Rohand the news of this unexpected misfortune; and the good earl is persuaded, with great appearance of probability, that Sir Guy can mean no more than to put her affection to the test, by a conduct as capricious as her own. She at first is disposed to put an end to her life, but is checked by the thoughts of her child. Sir Heraud, in hopes of diverting his friend from his resolution, takes the habit of a pilgrim, and travels in quest of him, but returns without success.

"Guy sought hallowes[2] in many countrè,
And sithe to Jerusalem went he;
And when he to Jerusalem came,
To Antioch his way he name[3].

"Sir Guy, solely occupied with devotional pursuits, had travelled to Constantinople, and from thence into Almayne. Here he chances to meet a pilgrim who 'made semblaut sorry." Guy enters into conversation with him, and finds him to be his old friend Sir Thierry, who had been dispossessed by the emperor of all his fiefs, and reduced to the greatest distress, in consequence of a false accusation preferred against him by Barnard, cousin of the famous Duke Otho the felon Duke of Pavia, who had inherited the estates and the vices of that treacherous prince, and, unfortunately for the imperial vassals, possessed to the same degree the confidence of his master, together with the dignity of steward to the emperor. Sir Guy, on hearing that the death of Otho, whom he had slain, had been employed to the ruin of his friend Thierry, falls into a swoon; a practice to which, as we have seen, he was much addicted.

"'Good man,' quoth Thierry, 'tell thou me
'How long this evil hath holden thee?'
'Many a day,' quoth Sir Guy, 'it took me ore!'
'Good love!' quoth Thierry, 'do it no more!'

"Thierry proceeds to lament the supposed death of Sir Guy, who, though full of compassion for his friend, and already determined to redress his injuries, continues to conceal his name. But Thierry was weak and faint with hunger; and Sir Guy tells him, that as he has a penny in his purse,' it would be expedient to hasten to the nearest town, and employ that sum in the purchase of provisions. Thierry willingly accompanies him, but, feeling sleepy as well as faint, is advised to refresh himself, in the first instance, with a few moments' repose; and the famished Thierry falls asleep with his head resting on the knees of Sir Guy. During his slumber, a 'white weazel' suddenly jumps out of his mouth; takes refuge in the crevice of a neighbouring rock, and after a short space of time returns, and again runs down his throat. Sir Thierry, waking, informs Sir Guy that he had dreamed a dream; that he had seen a 'fair bright sword,' and a treasure of inestimable value, and that, sleeping on his arm, he had been saved by him from a dreadful calamity. The supposed palmer interprets the dream; goes to the spot indicated by the weasel, and finds the sword and treasure; which he delivers to Sir Thierry, with an injunction to preserve the sword with the greatess possible care, and then takes his leave.

"Sir Guy now repairs to the emperor's palace, asks charity, and is admitted into the hall. As his habit bespeaks him a traveller, he is on all sides assailed by inquiries after news; and the emperor, having a very proper opinion of his own importance, anxiously questions him on the reports prevailing among his subjects respecting his character. Guy boldly assures him that he is universally blamed for the flagrant injustice of his conduct towards the innocent Thierry; and, throwing down his glove, offers to prove, by force of arms, the falsehood of Barnard's accusation. The steward, though not a little surprised by the appearance of such an uncouth adversary, accepts the challenge; the battle is awarded; the palmer is presented with a suit of armour, and then repairs to Thierry for the sword which had been miraculously discovered by the white weasel. Sir Barnard, however, was so stout, that after a combat which lasted during the whole day, the victory was still undecided but he had discovered during this trial of the palmer's prowess, that it would be much more convenient to get rid of his adversary by any other means than to abide by the issue of a second conflict. Judging therefore that the palmer would sleep soundly after his fatigue, he despatches a number of his emissaries, with orders to take him up in his bed in the middle of the night, and to throw him into the sea. Although Sir Guy was lodged in the palace, being under the immediate protection of the justice of the empire, this bold enterprise was successfully executed; and Sir Guy, when he awaked in the morning, was not a little astonished to find himself floating in his bed, at some distance from land. But Providence, who had intended that the guilt of Sir Barnard should become completely manifest, directed a fisherman to the spot, who conveyed Sir Guy in safety to the palace, and related this miraculous incident to the emperor. The monarch having determined that the punishment of the steward should be inflicted by the champion whom heaven had thus marked out for the purpose, the battle recommences, and Sir Barnard, already half vanquished by the reproaches of his own conscience, is overpowered and slain. The victor then demands the re-instatement of Sir Thierry, and, having obtained it, goes in search of his friend, whom he finds in a church, devoutly engaged in prayer, and hastily leads him to the emperor, who weeps at the sight of his distress, and restores him to all his possessions.

"The emperor let bathe Thierry,
And clad him in clothes richely,

And gave him both palfrey and steed,
And all things that he had of need.

"Sir Thierry, who had hitherto felt little confidence in the assurances of the pilgrim, was now filled with the warmest gratitude towards his deliverer; and his gratitude was exalted to enthusiasm, when, having been invited to accompany him during a part of his journey, he discovered, in this deliverer, his old friend and benefactor. He adjured Sir Guy to share the prosperity he had bestowed; but the hero, only solicitous to become an humble instrument in the hands of Providence, and determined to fulfil his destiny, whatever it might be, tore himself from his embraces, and pursuing his journey, arrived, without meeting any new adventures, in England."

"The disconsolate Felice, during the long interval of his absence, had passed her whole time in acts of devotion or of charity. Her husband, presenting himself at her gate in his pilgrim's weeds, was invited into the hall; was plentifully entertained; and enjoyed the pleasure of witnessing, unknown and unsuspected, her daily observance of those duties to which she had, long since, devoted the remainder of his life. Unwilling to withdraw her from these salutary pursuits, he again departed unknown, taking with him a single page as an attendant, and retired to a solitary hermitage in the forest of Ardenne, where he was advertised by an angel of his approaching dissolution. He then despatched his page to Felice with the gold ring which he had received from her at parting, and adjured her to come and give directions for his burial. She arrived; found him dying; received his last breath; and, having survived him only fifteen days, was buried in the same grave."

"Now is the story brought to an end,
Of Guy, the bold baron of price,
And of the fair maid Felice,
Fair ensamples men may lere,
Whoso will listen and hear.
True to love, late and early,
As, in his life, did good Sir Guy:
For he forsook worldly honour,
To serve God his creatour;
Wherefore Jesu, that was of a maid born
To buy man's soul that was forlorn,
And rose from death the third day,
And led man's soul from hell away,
On their souls have mercy!
And ye, that have heard this story,

God give you all his blessing,
And of his grace to your ending;
And joy, and bliss, that ever shall be!
Amen, Amen, for charitè!"

"The History of Sir Guy," says Bishop Percy (Reliques of Anc. Poetry, vol. 3, p. 101) "though now very properly resigned to children, was once admired by all readers of wit and taste: for taste and wit had once their childhood. Although of English growth[4], it was early a favourite with other nations: it appeared in French in 1525; and is alluded to in the old Spanish Romance Terente el blanco, which, it is believed, was written not long after the year 1430.—See advertisement to the French translation, 2 vols. 12mo.

"The original, whence all these stories are extracted, is a very ancient romance in old English verse, which is quoted by Chaucer as a celebrated piece even in his time, (viz.

Men speken of romances of price,
Of Horne childe and Ippotes,
Of Bevis, and Sir Guy, &c.
R. or Thop.)

And was usually sung to the harp at Christmas dinners and brideales, as we learn from Puttenham's Art of Poetry, 4to. 1589."

But the Gesta Romanorum, is most probably the origin of the tales in question, since the date is unquestionably earlier than those fixed upon by Bishop Percy.

  1. Mr. Ellis (Specimens, Vol. II. p. 5.) supposes this a mistake; the original romance being written in French as early as the 13th century, and the Gesta Romanorum not composed till the commencement of the 14th. But the date of the Gesta is very uncertain, and may have been written long before.
  2. Saints.
  3. Took.
  4. From the circumstances of the outline of the story being in the "Gesta Romanorum," this is very disputable; and it is known to have existed in French as early as the conclusion of the 13th century, I should be inclined to give the Gesta the precedence.