19 AUGUST 1876, Page 18


'I'nz Chronicle ascribed to Abbot Ralph, of Coggeshall in Essex, who died in 1228, refers mostly to the reigns of Henry II. and his successors, and is not very instructive, except here and there where the compilers had some peculiar sources of information on the affairs of England, or of the Church, or the Crusaders. To this document Mr. Stevenson has annexed several interesting monographs, among which the "Legend of Fulk Fitz-Warin " deserves especial notice. It is a Norman-French narrative, in the neatest and liveliest style, being a family history, more or less embellished with romantic circumstances, but perhaps made peculiarly acceptable to the clergy by the animosity which the writer displays against King John, who appears as the base per- secutor of a good knight, and encounters many well-merited humiliations, until he is forced to do him justice. The adventures of Fulk Fitz-Warin (the younger) are preceded by some notices of his ancestors, such as Pain Peveril, who serves William the Conqueror on the Welsh frontier, and takes a castle guarded by a fiend in the very carcass of the giant Gog-Magog, slain, as it appears, only a century previously by our renowned patriarch Brutus, the great-grandson of 2Eneas. We may further remark that Fulk's father and father-in-law had lost their castles in Western England by the treacherous hostility of a neighbour- ing baron. The capture of Dinan, alias Ludlow, through the folly of a waiting-damsel, previously affianced to her master's -captive, is extremely well related, but we must now pass it over. Suffice it that Henry H. supports the legitimate owner of Dinan, and gets him and his friends liberated when they have been in their turn prisoners. Nevertheless, their estates are not then recovered, for their antagonist has placed himself under the protection of a Welsh prince with whom Henry contends indeed successfully, but not so that he can get all his -demands complied with. The power of Wales is after- wards reduced, and King John has the castles to dispose of, but wilfully keeps the true heir, Fulk Fitz-lVarin, as long as he is able, from entering into possession of them. We need only mention in a general way that Fulk sails in remote seas, and en- counters dragons, giants, and distressed princesses, in the fashion -of Ariosto's heroes. We are more struck by the introduction of a certain repartee, with which we have had some acquaintance, in -another shape, through modern traditions :— "'Genes,' says Folk to a mariner, 'you have a very perilous maistery. Tell me, Mader, fair sweet brother, of what death died thy father ?' Mader answers him, that he was drowned in the sea. 'How died thy -grandfather 1'—' In like manner.'—' And thy great-grandfather.'---' In the same manner, and so did all my relatives that I know of to the fourth degree.'—' Cartes,' said Fulk, 'you are very foolhardy that you dare to enter the sea.'—' Sir,' said the other, why do you think so ? Every creature will have the death that is destined to it." Sir,' said he, 'answer, if you please, my questions. Where died thy father 8— ' Cedes, in his bed.'--' Where thy grandfather ?'—' In the same way.' —'Where thy great-grandfather?'—' Cedes, all my lineage that I know anything of have died in their beds.'—' Certes, Sir,' said Madoe, seeing that all your predecessors have died in bed, I marvel greatly that you should dare to enter into any bed.' And then Flak understood that the mariner had told him the truth, and that each man will have the death that is destined to him."

Another of our documents relates to the death and burial of Henry, "the young king," son of King Henry II., and is taken from a sermon by Thomas Agnellua, Archdeacon of Wells, a warm • partisan of the prince, according to our editor, or much rather, an unscrupulous hypocrite and superstition-monger. He ob- aerves that a "religious man" (very likely himself) exhorted Henry on his death-bed to put off a sapphire ring he wore, and thus satisfy himself and his Creator that he had renounced the !love of earthly things. The prince _replied that he would only - have eared to keep it as a pledge he had received of his father's forgiveness ; nevertheless he tried to take it off to please the holy man, but it stuck fast to the emaciated joint, which was a mani- fest sign of celestial sympathy, or so interpreted by the disap- pointed prelate, who presently describes some miraculous cures -effected through the body of the young prince.

The Otia Imperialla of Gervaae of Tikbury, an encyclopmdic work dedicated to the Emperor Otho IV., grandson of Henry II. of England, is described at some length in Mr. Stevenson's pre-

• Radulfi de Coggeshall Chronicon Anglican:1m: de Expugnatione Ta-me Sanclae Libellus; Thomas Agnellus de Mork et &pollard Henrici, Regis Angliae, fusions; -Gala Mama, Plitt Warini: Excerpt(' e.r Otiis Imperiallims Gereastt Tileburiensa.

Edited by Jos. Stevenson. Published under the Direction of the Master of the Rolla. London, 1870.

face. The extracts, relating to British legendary history and the latest condition of the islands, have, however, little interest.

The account of Saladin's conquest of the Holy Land is gaudily and clumsily written, and need by no means be attributed to the chronicler of Coggeshall, whose Latin style is comparatively pure and modest. In the first section, on the discords at Jerusalem after the death of Baldwin V., we find the insupportable phrase, " bitumine Caritatis deficiente." The value of the document, how- ever, appears, from Michaud's references, to be considerable in many particulars. The author has given us, in very simple and proper language, the speech of Helmand of Tripoli, on the expedition pro- posed to the Christians in Jerusalem for the relief of Tiberias (be- sieged by Saladin in the summer of 1187). Some passages might be observed which the Chronicle of Coggeshall has closely fol- lowed. The writer appears to have been "one of the garrison of the city of Jerusalem, when it was besieged by the Saracens in September, 1187; and while on duty upon the wall was struck in the face by an arrow, the iron head of which he mentions as still remaining in the wound." The Chronicle of Coggeshall was filled up from time to time with various notable communications. One of these relates to the treachery of the Duke of Burgundy in the Crusade, and represents Richard as having intercepted some costly presents which were on their way to him from Sala- din, whereupon Richard made an intemperate demonstration against the Duke, and had the messengers shot with arrows. An anecdote of the king's extraordinary prowess at Joppa was furnished by one of his comrades in the fight. The details of the King's capture on his way home from Palestine were derived from his chaplain, Anselm. But it is clear to us that the chroni- cler's general account of Richard's character, which is a toler- ably severe one, was mainly founded on his private prejudices as to the notorious measures which affected his clerical fellow- subjects' purses. In the reigns of John and Henry ILL the chronicler sometimes quotes the official documents, and some- times apologises for not having seen them. He enlarges on the former king's quarrel and reconciliation with the Cistercian Order. He mentions several romantic prodigies, and an indiscreet cock- aiastical prosecution, which was occasioned by a young clerk's improper advances to a handsome girL She had answered him that nothing could save her soul if she complied with his request, and was discovered by this too sweeping statement to be a heretic of a certain sort. Her instructress was apprehended, but escaped through the air like a witch ; the unfortunate maiden was burnt by the Archbishop of Rheims.

In the year 1207 we have a note of the death of Thomas, the fifth abbot of Coggeshall, who was succeeded by Ralph, described as the author of this Chronicle "from the capture of the Holy Cross down to the eleventh year of Henry IlL," and as having recorded in it for general edification several visions communicated to him by prelates. The historical records seem, however, at this time to become more meagre. Not to dwell too long on miscellaneous matters, we will observe that the editing of the present volume might be improved by a few geographical glosses in the index or elsewhere, the forms in which some names of places are introduced being often very uncouth in both the Latin and the French documents.