Child's, The English And Scottish Ballads

Volume 1 of 8 from 1860 edition

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No incident is more common in romantic fiction, than the employment of some magical contrivance as a test of conjugal fidelity, or of constancy in love. In some romances of the Round Table, and tales founded upon them, this experiment is performed by means either of an enchanted horn, of such properties that no dishonoured husband or unfaithful wife can drink from it without spilling, or of a mantle which will fit none but chaste women. The earliest known instances of the use of these ordeals are afforded by the Lai du Corn, by Robert Bikez, a French minstrel of the twelfth or thirteenth century, and the Fabliau du Mantel Maulailli, which, in the opinion of a competent critic, dates from the second half of the thirteenth cenĀ­tury, and is only the older lay worked up into a new shape. (Wolf, Ueber die Lais, 327, sq., 342, sq.) We are not to suppose, however, that either of these pieces presents us with the primitive form of this humorous invention. Robert Bikez tells us that he learned his story from an abbot, and that " noble ecclesiast" stood