Child's, The English And Scottish Ballads

Volume 1 of 8 from 1860 edition

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62                THE LEGEND OF SIK GUY.
a new historical interpretation. It would be no unin­teresting task to point out how many romantic tales that are soberly related of individuals of comparatively modern history, are merely new applications of these early myths.
" Among the romances of the Anglo-Danish cycle by no means the least celebrated is that of Guy or "Warwick. It is one, of the few, which has been pre­served in its Anglo-Norman form, since which it has gone through an extraordinary number of versions, and Chaucer enumerated it among the romances of pris, or those which in the fourteenth century were held in the highest estimation. It is doubtless one of those stories in which an ancient mythic romance has undergone the series of modifications I have been de­scribing ; a legend which had become located by pop­ular traditions in the neighbourhood we are now visit­ing, in which the contests between northern chieftains are changed into tilts and tournaments, but in which the combats with dragons and giants are still pre­served. Whatever may have been the name of the original hero, that which he now bears, Guy, is a French name, and could not have been given till Nor­man times.
" From the Anglo-Norman poem, so great was its pop­ularity, two or three different English metrical versions were made, which are still found in manuscripts, and the earliest of which, that of the well-known Auchin-lech manuscript, has been printed in a very expen­sive form by one of the Scottish Antiquarian clubs. It was next transformed into French prose, and in that form was popular in the fifteenth century, and was printed by some of the earlier printers. It was finally reduced to a popular chap-book in prose and a