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P. 109. Hermel, the asse.—Caxton has in this instance misunderstood his original, in which dat Hermel is enumerated before the ass, and not as being the name of that animal. The Hermel, according to Hoffman, is the Ermine, Mus Ermenus, the Ermellino of the Italians.
P. 110. “She hath the rys doe blosme agayn.”—In the original “Si hevet rijs aveder begonnen doen bloeyen.” She hath made the branches blossom again, or as the Editor of the edition of 1650 has improved it, “put new blossomes on my dried roses."
P. 111. Mayster Akeryn.- Willems supposes this to be altogether an imaginary personage. See his Note, Reinaert,
P. 112. Maister Abrion of Tryer.-Willems supposes this also to be an imaginary personage, with a name derived from the old French Abricon, a quack or charlatan. Grimm, (s. c. 4. iii.) who states that he cannot find in Wolfe's Bibliotheca Hebraica
Jewish writer of this name,“ of Tryer," queries whether the name may not be derived from Aaron, Abraham, or rather from Appirion, the diminutive of Ephraim. He adds that the name somewhat resembles in sound that of Aprunculus, the old Bishop of Triers, of the sixth century (Bouquet iii. 410), but whom any tradition, which might come down to the middle ages, would hardly convert into a Jew.
P. 112. The Oyle of Mercy.-The legend of Seth's bringing the Oil of Mercy out of Paradise, is poetically related in the poem “Van dem holte des heiligen Cruces," of the wood of the Holy Cross, printed in Staphorst : “ Hamb: Kirchengeschichte iv. s. 203-222. See Hoffmann's Reineke, s. 224.
P. 113. “ Late him leye this stone in a litle watre.”—The virtue attributed to this stone must remind the reader of that of the “ Lee Penny,” on which Sir Walter Scott founded his story of The Talisman. A similar ring, says Willems, is mentioned in Floris ou Blanchefleur.
P. 114. Wel herted.—This will be best explained in the words of the Editor of the 1650 edition,“ yet should not his heart fail him.”
Ibid. Panthero.— The belief that the panther “smelleth so sweet" and that “ for his sweet smelling all other beasts follow him," is one of very great antiquity. It is mentioned in the old English Bestiarius, in the Arundel MS. No. 292, printed in the Alt-Deutsche Blatter ii. 99, in the old German Physiologus referred to by Hoffman in his “Fundgruben, 1. 16, and in Maerlant's “ Naturenblome.”
P. 115. Cybere.— In the metrical Reinaert, v. 5511, this colour is called Synoper, which Willems interprets green. Caxton mentions it again, p. 118, when he terms it“ Cynope.”
P. 117. Cetyne. This wood is called Cetijn in both the metrical and prose Flemish versions. In the low German Reinike it is called Sethim, and Hoffman gives the following description of from the Liber de Natura of Thomas Cantipratensis. Constat ergo quod Sethim 'arbor maxime sit; lignum ejus album ac leve legitur et incombustibile, id est de facili non cedens igni: imputribile quod nunquam aliquo humore vel antiquitate corrumpitur, quod patet adhuc in archâ Noe, quæ super montes Armeniæ incorruptibilis perseverat. De lignis istis, et archa testamenti fuisse legitur et multa alia in edificium templi et vasorum.
And the following passage from Maerlent's description of the Tabernacle in his Rymbybel, will serve to show that it is the Shittim wood of the Holy Scriptures :
An die nordside dar iegen recht,
Ibid. Horse of tre. This wooden horse is the cheval de fust which not only figures so conspicuously in the celebrated
romance of Cleomades, written by Adans, or Adeney le Roi, but in some of the MSS. gives its title to the poem.
Much curious illustration of the history and writings of Adenéz, who was the minstrel of Henry III, Duke of Brabant, will be found in De la Rue, Histoire des Bardes, &c. ii. 36, in Paulin Paris, Lettre à M. Monmerqué, and in Ferdinand Wolf “ Ueber der Leistungen der Franzosen,” s. 34. In the latter work, and in Keightley's “ Tales and Popular Fictions," are many notices of similar magic horses.
P. 119. Bydwynge.--In Gualtier's edition this is modernized into “well rule.” See also note on p. 48.
P. 120. Two grete bules.—Two great boils or swellings. It is the Flemish and Low German bulen.
Ibid. And was an ass, 8.c.-A similar fable will be found in the old French Ysopet in Robert's “ Fables inédites des xiime. xiii. et xivme. Siècles, i. 234.
Ibid. Herken ferther.—The story which the fox here relates is another of the fables so popular during the middle ages, which the author has contrived to weave into the thread of his narrative. It occurs, among other places, in the “Poésies de Marie de France,” ii. 387.
P. 122. There also stode also in that myrrour.–For this fable the reader is again referred to Robert's Fables inédites, i. 195.
P. 124. Fro scole fro Montpellier.-Montpelier was celebrated as a seat of learning in the twelfth century, and according to Hesselin-Dictionnaire Universel de la France, iv. 555, medical lectures were publicly delivered there as early as 1180.
Ibid. Cloth of sylke, and a gylt gyrdle.--I must leave to my friend Mr. Pettigrew, who has made himself so completely master of that interesting field, the Archæology of Medicine, to decide when and how this peculiar costume
was first appropriated to the medical profession, and to explain why Caxton has changed the “ bonte ende side," the fur and silk, of his original, into the “clothe of sylke and a gylt gyrdle.” The inference is that the latter formed, in Caxton's time, the characteristic costume of the English physicians. Let me add that La Chenaye des Bois, 'in his most useful Dictionnaire Historique des Français, iii. 90, speaking of the physician of the king of France, says :“Quand il va aux écoles de Paris, il est vêtu d'une robe de satin comme les conseillers d'Etat,” &c.
P. 125. A garlond of roses.—On the subject of these garlands, see Le Grand d'Aussy, Vie privée des François, ii. 222. The nature of these garlands, and the objects and occasions on which they were bestowed, have never yet been sufficiently investigated, and the present is scarcely the place to discuss a point involved in as much obscurity, as it is replete with interest.
P. 126. Smeke.—Gualtier, in his edition, has changed this expressive epithet into “ speak fair;" it properly means to flatter, and is the same as the old Flemish smeecken.
P. 126. Not to any forwyttyng of yow.—Reproach. It is obviously connected with the German vorwitz, pertness. In Gualtier's edition the phrase is altered to “ not that I will cast you in the teeth therewith.”
P. 128. The mogghetis.--The paunch. In the original pensen darmen,” the paunch and intestines.
P. 132. Gobet.-A part or morsel, from the French gobet. The word, which is used several times by Caxton (page 140), occurs also in Chaucer, whose Pardonere is described as saying:
_" he hadde a gobbet of the seyl Which that St. Peter had, whan that he wente Upon the sea.
P. 133. Forfrorn.—Frozen. Ed. Gualtier.
Ibid. Rybadously.-Indecently. Ribaud and ribaudie, occur both in Piers Ploughman, and in Chaucer, but I do not remember to have met with the word used adverbia lly.
P. 136. But that he shall beryspe me.—This is a confirmation of the former note upon the word “unberisped.” In Gualtier's edition we read, instead of the above,“ but that he will take me in my wordes.” P. 137. A mermoyse, a baubyn, or a mercate. In the Flem
een marmoeyse een baubyn of een meercat,” and in the metrical Reinaert, Willems describes Mamet as an epithet of the foul fiend, and derived from Mahomet, but states that he cannot trace the name of such an evil spirit as bakumijn in Grimm's Deutsche Mythologie. But it is obvious that the fox did not allude to supernatural beings. Killian explains meer-katte, simia caudata, and the general sense of the passage may, perhaps, be gathered from the more modern version in the edition of 1650, a marmozin, or baboone, or else a mercat." Caxton, it may be observed, afterwards (p. 140), uses the term marmosette.
P. 140. Nyckers. In this name, by which the wolf designated the fiend-like offspring of the “ marmoset,” we have a striking allusion to the Mythology of Scandinavia, and that portion of it which is retained among us to this day, when we designate the Evil One by the epithet of Old Nick. Odin assumes the name of Nikar or Hnikar when he enacts the destroying or evil principle, and scarcely a river of Scandinavia which has not its appropriate Nikr. See further upon this curious point, Grimm Deutsche Mythologie, s. 256-265, 2te. Ausge.
P. 142. My glove.-Consult on the subject of challenging by throwing down a glove, and of accepting such challenge