1796 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Hueline and Eglantine, &c.

Fabliaux or Tales, abridged from French Manuscripts of the XIIth and XIIIth Centuries, by M. Le Grand, selected and translated into English Verse, by the late Gregory Lewis Way, Esq., with a Preface, Notes and Appendix, by G. Ellis, Esq. In Two Volumes. Vol. II.

Gregory Lewis Way


One Spenserian stanza introduces a tale translated in couplets — like most of those in the volume. In this G. L. Way (writing anonymously) anticipates Sir Walter Scott, who was afterwards given to introducing his verse narratives with prefatory Spenserians.

Charles Burney: "Though we were much pleased by the 1st vol. of these Fabliaux in English verse, we were not thoroughly satisfied with the mixture of old and new language, of obsolete and fine words, scattered here and there with those of a common narratory dialect. These small specks are less visible, we think, in the present volume; though here we have 'thew'd,' 'wertless,' 'wimple,' ' perquedry,' 'atween,' 'meynt,' 'fleck'd,' 'quail,' 'behest,' 'singults,' &c. and, among words that are somewhat too elegant and modern, we have 'consigned,' 'culture,' ' magnanimous,' 'illustrious,' 'aspiring,' 'precipitate,' 'sumptuous,' 'patroness,' &c. derived neither from the Saxon nor the Roman, but all from the Latin" Monthly Review NS 36 (November 1801) 276.

Robert Anderson to Thomas Percy: "We have recovered 'Sir Tristram.' Mr. Heber has sent me, from Mr. Ellis, Way's Fabliaux, an elegant and delightful work" 14 September 1800; in Nichols, Illustrations (1817-58) 7:90.

Walter Scott: "There is a species of legendary poetry of which Dryden set the English an example in his Fables, and which has been cultivated by the authors of Italy, France, and Germany. This department comprehends modern imitations of such romantic tales as have become obsolete through change of language and manners, skilfully adapted to the modern taste, yet retaining enough of their antique guise to give them a venerable and interesting shade of simplicity. This was a study which was successfully pursued by the late Gregory Way, and in which Mr. William Rose as more recently given us favourable specimens of his poetical talents. But although we cannot well assign a reason, this 'rifaciamento' of the old romance has never been such a favourite with us as on the Continent. Perhaps the changes which have taken place in England, and the rapid increase of commercial wealth, may have early banished all remembrance of the old romances which amused our forefathers. We question much if the popularity of any one of them survived the time of the great civil war. The names of the old English romances, therefore, or of the heroes and the incidents which they celebrate, do not bespeak any favourable interest; we listen to the revival of their history as to something which has no previous claim for favour or sympathy; and, independent of such partiality, it requires little argument to show, that the tales of a rude age are rarely so ingeniously contrived as to interest the present" "Living Poets" in Edinburgh Annual Register for 1808 (1810) 2:431.



No lack of courtesy in deed or mind
Stain'd the rare wight wrought the tale ye hear,
Yet therewithal this warning word he join'd;
"Strains such as these befit no baser ear:
To carles, to faitours, to unfolden clear,
Love's mystick lore doth much that lore profane;
To clerks, to knights, to melting damsels dear,
Yet more than all who weep for other's pain,
Love's lessons and delights do chiefly appertain."

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