"CAMDEN," to use the words of Mr. Ritson, "with singular
puerility, says that, at the coming in of the Normans, one
Bogo, or Beavose, a Saxon, had this title (of Earl of Win-
chester : who, in the battle of Cardiff in Wales, fought
against the Normans. For this, however, in a way too usual
with him, he cites no authority; nor does any ancient or
veracious historian mention either Bogo, Beavose, or the
battle of Cardiff," &c. (Dissert. on Romance and Minstrelsy.
p. XCIII.) The critic then makes a violent attack on Mr.
Warton for representing Bevis as a Saxon chieftain; but
Warton probably derived his intelligence from Selden, who,
in his notes on the Poly-Olbion (canto 2, p. 702 of the 8vo
edit.) gives the following account:

" About the Norman invasion was Bevis famous with the
title of Earl of Southampton; Duneton in Wiltshire known
for his residence.—His sword is kept as a relique in Arundel
Castle; not equalling in length (as it is now worn) that of
Edward. III. at Westminster."

It is unnecessary to say that these notices are not of suffi-
cient authority for considering this romance to be founded on
Saxon tradition. It is a translation from the Anglo-Norman.
Sir Bevis, whatever may be his demerits, appears to have
enjoyed a high degree of popularity. Three MS. copies of
this romance in English verse are still extant in our public
libraries; viz. in the Auchinleck MS. of the Advocates'
Library, Edinburgh; in the Public Library, Cambridge; and
in that of Caius College. A fourth (Dr. Monro's) was in the
possession of the late Dr. Farmer. Of the printed editions,
the earliest and most valuable was that of Pynson, of which a
copy is possessed by Mr. Douce; two were printed by Copland.
and one by East. Those of later date are more numerous.
The following abstract was principally taken from the
Caius Coll. MS., the omissions in which have been generally
supplied by Pynson's printed copy.

THE Earls of Southampton, being possessed of territories
which it was frequently necessary to defend against foreign
invasion, were always distinguished by superior valour and
intrepidity; but the most illustrious champion of this warlike
house was Sir Guy, father of Sir Bevis whose adventures we
are preparing to relate. Sir Guy, constantly occupied during
his youth in enterprises undertaken for the security or enlargement
of his dominions, had unfortunately never thought of
matrimony, till he was past the prime of life, when he chose
a wife many years younger than himself, distinguished by her
high birth and unrivalled beauty. Our author remarks that
such a choice was very imprudent; and as his remarks are
not always equally just, we take great pleasure in recording
this instance of his sagacity.
In fact, this haughty fair one, who was daughter to the
King of Scotland, had long since bestowed her affections on a
younger lover, Sir Murdour, brother to the Emperor of Almayne:
it was therefore with a very bad grace that she submitted
to the positive commands of her father, who preferred
to this illustrious son-in-law an alliance with the sturdy Earl
of Southampton. She submitted however: she became the
mother of Bevis, for whom she never felt a mother's affection;
and continued, during eight years, to share the bed of a husband
whom she hated, and whose confidence she studied to
acquire for the sole purpose of insuring his destruction.
Having matured her project, and gained over to her interests
a number of her husband's vassals, she selected a
trusty messenger whom she directed to salute her lover on
her part,
" And bid him, on the first day,
That cometh in the month of May,
Howso that it be,
That he be with his ferde1 prest2,
        1 Army         2 Ready.
For to fight in that forest
Upon the sea:
Thider I wol my lord send,
For his love, for to schende,1
With little meyné, 2
And say, that it be nought bileved,3
That he ne smyte off his heved,
And send it me."
Sir Murdour returned an answer expressive of the wannest
gratitude, and joyfully undertook his share of this atrocious
project. He assembled a small troop of armed knights embarked
with them, landed near Southampton, and, taking his
station in the forest, patiently waited for his victim. In the
meantime the lady appeared to be suddenly indisposed; and
sending for her lord, informed him, that "an evil on her was
Me," and that she longed to eat of the flesh of a wild boar
from his forest, such food being a sovereign remedy for her
disease. Sir Guy, without hesitation, undertook to procure
the object of her wishes; and, riding into the forest with his
hounds, was soon encompassed by the troops of his treacherous
rival, who after bidding him defiance, and avowing his purpose
of murder, magnanimously assaulted the defenceless veteran.
A few attendants, who had followed their master to the
chase, instantly fled in confusion; but the earl himself, though
provided only with a simple boar spear, evaded the lance of
his antagonist, threw him from his horse upon the ground,
and, drawing his trusty sword, defended himself with such
skill and courage that a hundred of his assailants successively
fell beneath his blows. The victory was long doubtful; but,
his horse being killed under him, the knight was at length
overpowered by numbers, and kneeling to Sir Murdour, who
was now replaced on his horse, earnestly prayed that he might
be permitted to seek a more glorious death, and not perish by
assassination. His base antagonist replied by a blow which
severed the head of the suppliant from his shoulders; and,
having fixed it on a spear, sent it to his mistress as the stipulated
price of her affection.
Bevis was at this time only seven years old; but so pre-
        1 To ruin or destroy him.         2 Company.
                3 That no delay take place.
mature were his strength and courage, that his unnatural
mother considered herself and her lover as insecure during
the life of the infant hero. He had been fostered by his paternal
uncle, Saber, an honest but irresolute man, of whom she ferociously
demanded the murder of her child as the first proof of
his allegiance. Saber did not risk a direct refusal, but, having
killed a pig, sprinkled the garments of Sir Bevis with the
blood, and sent them to the countess as an evidence of his
submission ; while he disguised his foster son in the habit of
a peasant, and enjoined him to tend his flocks on the neighbouring
common. He however promised his pupil to retire
with him, as soon as possible, into Wales, to the court of an
earl to whom they were related, and by whose assistance he
might hope, when arrived at maturer age, to regain his patrimony,
and to revenge the death of Sir Guy on the adulterous
couple by whom his earldom was usurped.
Bevis submitted with patience to the necessary change of
dress, and quietly followed his sheep to the downs; from
whence he surveyed the palace so lately occupied by his noble
father, and vainly endeavoured to suppress the rage and
indignation which such an object excited. But when he
heard the sounds of minstrelsy, which proclaimed the indecent
revelries of his mother and of her base paramour, he was
seized with a paroxysm of ungovernable fury, and, forgetting
the cautious advice of Saber, precipitately ran to the castle
and prepared to make his way into the hall. The porter,
calling him " whoreson harlot," attempted to turn him back
from the gate: but Bevis, after telling him that he accepted
the first epithet, but utterly disclaimed the second, knocked
him down, advanced into the hall, and, after a few opprobrious
exclamations against his mother and Sir Murdour, applied his
cudgel so successfully to the head of the latter, that at the
third blow he laid him sense-less on the floor. The countess
vainly ordered her attendants to seize the traitor; the knights
were all benumbed and motionless with astonishment, and
suffered the child to retire without opposition.
Bevis, who at seven years of age had knocked down two
stout men in one day with his cudgel, was much better satisfied
with his adventure than was his uncle Saber, whom he
met on his return, and to whom he related thus laconically
what had passed:
his return, and to whom he related thus laconically what had passed:
" I wol thee telle altogedyr;
Beaten I have my step-fadyr
With my mace.
Thrice I smote him on the heved;
Lying in swoon I him by-leaved1
On that ilke place."
Saber said, " Thou art to blame;
The lady wol do me shame
All for thy sake!
But thou wilt by counsel do,
Thou might soon bring us two
Into mickle wrake2."
But Saber was unable to devise any counsel worth following.
Scarcely had he reached his dwelling when the angry
countess was announced: and the only contrivance which his
ingenuity suggested was, to lock his nephew into an adjoining
closet. She reproached him with disobedience of orders;
and, having easily confuted all his evasions, ordered him
instantly to produce her son, on pain of incurring the most
terrible effects of her displeasure. Bevis, who overheard her
threats, hastened to show himself; when, calling two of her
attendant knights, she ordered them to lead the child to the
port, and to sell him as a slave to the captain of any ship who
might be preparing to sail into Heathenness. These instructions
were punctually executed; and Bevis, after a long but
prosperous voyage, was carried to the court of Ermyn, a
Saracen king, of whose dominions our author has neglected to
ascertain the boundaries, though he has described, pretty
accurately, the state of his family.
His wife was dead that hight Marage;
He had a daughter of young age,
Josyan that maiden hete3;
The shoon4 were gold upon her feet.
So white she was, and fair of mood,
So is the snow on red blood,
Wherto should I that maid descrive?
She was the fairest thing on-live;
She was so hend, and so well ytaught;
But of Christian law ne couth she nought.
1 Left. 2 Mischief. —At this place the author abandons the stanza measure,
and relates, the rest of the story in couplets. 3 Was called. 4 Shoes.
Ermyn beheld with astonishment the strength and beauty
of young Bevis; and, having questioned him concerning his
country and parentage, was much delighted with the simplicity
and conciseness of his answers. He declared it as his
opinion, and even confirmed the declaration by an oath, that
a child who was so adroit with his cudgel could not fail of
possessing unusual prowess when of age to wield a sword,
for which reason he, at the instant, proposed to the boy the
Land of his daughter Josyan, together with the succession to
the crown, on condition of his renouncing Christianity.
Bevis, who had been inspired with a strong veneration for his
religion, and felt no immediate want of a wife, rejected the
offer without hesitation, at the same time expressing rather
freely his contempt for the Saracen deities. Fortunately,.
Ermyn was disposed to be pleased, and took this freedom in
good part:
And said, " Whiles thou art a swain,
Thou shalt be my chamberlain;
And, when thou art dubbed a knight.
My banner thou shalt bear in fight."
Bevis gratefully accepted these offers, and continued, during
seven years, to make a progress in the affections of the Saracen
monarch, as well as in those of the beautiful Josyan.
The first exploit of our hero was of a very disagreeable
nature, He was now fifteen years old, and considered by all
Ermyn's subjects as a miracle of strength and beauty. On
Christmas day, he happened to be riding out in company with
sixty Saracen knights, one of whom asked him if he was aware
what day it was. Bevis replying that he did not know the
other assured him that it was the festival of Christ's nativity
and a second knight added, that it could not but scandalize
them, who were accustomed to treat their gods with due
reverence, to observe his inattention to his most sacred duties.
Bevis answered, that having been sold as a slave at seven
years old, and since that time surrounded by Heathens, he
had no means of information respecting the religious observances
attached to his faith; but that if he were then a knight
as his father had been, and properly armed, he would in
honour of the true God, readily undertake to just with the
whole company; and trusted that, in such a cause he could
unhorse them all. one after the other. The Saracen knights
incensed at this speech from a young page, instantly determined
to punish his insolence; and being all armed with
swords, wounded him very severely before he had the means
of making any defence. But at length, having wrested a
sword from the hand of one of his assailants, he exerted himself
so successfully as to kill them all. The horses ran home
to the stables, and excited a general curiosity respecting the
fate of their riders: while Bevis, fatigued with his exploit,
and smarting under his wounds, followed at his leisure, tied
up his horse, retired into his own room, and throwing himself
on the floor, prepared to wait as patiently as he could till it should
please Heaven to diminish the pain which he then suffered.
Ermyn, though long trained to the use of power, had
always been accustomed to dispense with the trouble of reflection.
He generally acted from the first impulse, and this
impulse was, at present, unfavourable to his young chamberlain.
It was observed to him, that there would be no end of
dubbing knights for the purpose of seeing them killed by
Bevis: it was evidently shorter to put him to death; and
therefore Ermyn resolved on ordering Bevis to immediate
execution. But Josyan having advised that he should exert
his royal sagacity in examining the culprit, he came over to
this opinion; and the princess, who wished for some previous
conversation with her favourite, dispatched two of her knights
with orders that they should conduct Bevis into her presence.
He was still lying on the floor, in great pain, and very
much out of humour insomuch that, having barely raised his
head on the arrival of the two knights, he told them, that
were it not for the respect he bore to the sacred character of
messengers, he should have punished with instant death their
impertinent intrusion; and added

I ne will gon a foot on ground,
To speaken with an heathen hound!

At the same time his eyes flashed with indignation; and the
frightened knights, thinking that they saw around him the
ghosts of their sixty countrymen, hastened back with this very
uncourteous message to Josyan, who only smiled at their
terrors, and, promising to be their safeguard, returned with
them to Bevis.

Josyan cast her arms abouten his swere1;
On her he made a lothly cheer.
She kist him on mouth and on chin,
And began to comfort him.
He said, "Mercy, Josyan, thine ore 2!
I am wounded swithe sore."
" Sweet leman," she said, in hast,
" I am a leech with the best!
No better salve I understood
Ne is in all Paynim lond,
Than I have brought with me;
And I wol thy warrant be!"
But before she undertook the cure, it was necessary that
she should conduct him to her father; in whose presence he
related, with his usual simplicity, the whole adventure; and
such was the effect of his eloquence, or rather of his pallid
countenance and almost numberless wounds, that Ermyn
burst into tears, and expressly commanded his daughter to
exert all her leech-craft in his behalf. Josyan very willingly
re-conducted her patient to his chamber,
There they kisseden hem full oft,
And she healed him swythe soft.
So, within a little stound,
He was both whole and sound;
And all so fierce for to fight
So is the falcon to the flight.
Thus ended this perilous adventure: and the minstrel, unwilling
to attempt too rashly the narration of another equally
terrible, here interposes the following admonitory couplet—
For the time that God made,
Fill the cup and make us glad.
There was in the royal forest a wild boar, who had long
been the terror of Ermyn's court. His size was enormous.
his hide so thick as to be invulnerable, and his tusks so sharp
that no common armour could withstand them; besides
which, he was distinguished from other boars by a contemptuous
disregard for beech-mast and acorns, and by an unnatural
predilection for human flesh, which he gratified at the
1 Neck. 2 Grace, favour.
expense of all those who ventured to attack him. Bevis,
finding his strength restored, began to consider of the best
modes of employing it; and, one night, whilst he lay in bed,
luckily bethought himself of the boar. In the morning he
saddled his horse; took a good shield and spear, together
with an excellent sword; spurred across the plain with a
grace which further captivated the fair Josyan, who beheld
him from her window; and, when arrived at the forest, dismounted,
tied his horse to a tree, and began to blow his horn.
The boar, whether from sleepiness, or from a natural indifference
to such music, took no notice of the defiance; and Sir
Bevis, constantly advancing, blowing his horn and searching
every thicket, began to despair of meeting his enemy, when
he was directed to the animal's den by the human bones with
which the road was almost wholly covered. He then thus
tauntingly addressed his antagonist:
" Rise," he said, " thou foul beast,
And against me batayle thou hast!"
When the boar of Bevis had an eye,
He set his bristles all on high;
He stared with his eyen hollow,
Right as Bevis he would swallow;
" Of thee," said Bevis, " I have mervail!
Well have I set my travail."
The hunting-spear which our hero had chosen for this
occasion, was of unusual strength, but it was shivered at the
very first onset. The sword was, fortunately, so well tempered
that it did not break in his hand; but he soon perceived
that it made no more impression on the boar than it would
have done on a rock of marble. But his ineffectual exertions
were very fatiguing; his situation became every moment
more discouraging; and in a short prayer, which he uttered
with great devotion, the fainting hero confessed that he had
no hopes of success but from the merciful interposition of
heaven. During this time his antagonist, whose temper was
naturally choleric, and perhaps rendered more so by the
inflammatory nature of his favourite food, began to be in his
turn much distressed by the effects of his own impetuosity;
and, being unable to reach his too nimble enemy, became
almost blind with fury, and breathless from exhaustion.

Bevis, perceiving that the panting animal was unable to close
his jaws without risk of suffocation, instantly seized this advantage;
and, when the boar attempted to regain his den,
met him in his full career, and plunged the sword down his
throat. This blow was decisive. The hero, who from his
long education in a royal court was an adept in carving, now
severed the head from the body; and, placing it on the
truncheon of his spear, bore it off in triumph.
During the life of this boar, the keepers of the royal forest
never ventured to go their rounds except in complete armour,
and in numerous companies. Twelve of these happening to
meet Bevis on his return, and perceiving that he was quite
unarmed (his sword having been accidentally left with the
body of the animal), resolved to wrest from him the fruits of
his victory. He had just emerged from the forest, and
arrived within sight of the tender Josyan, who from her
tower had been anxiously watching for his return, when he
was suddenly assailed by the company of twelve armed foresters.
But, though armed, they were not invulnerable; and
the truncheon of a spear was by no means an inefficient
weapon in the hands of Bevis. At the first blow it came
into contact with the helmets of three of these assailants, and
scattered their brains to some distance. A second stroke and
a third were repeated with equal success; and the three survivors
having made a timely retreat, Bevis quietly resumed
the boar's head, and pursued his journey to the palace; where
Ermyn, who had already learned from his daughter the news
of this astonishing adventure, received him with open arms,
and recommended him to all his courtiers as a perfect model
of courtesy and valour.
Soon after this, an embassy was received from Bradmond,
king of Damascus, whereby that monarch signified his wish of
espousing the fair Josyan, at the same time announcing, that
a refusal of the princess's hand would excite great indignation
in the breast of the aforesaid Bradmond, and induce him to
waste with fire and sword the whole territory of Ermyn.
This mode of courtship, it must be confessed, was not conciliatory.
Ermyn was so furiously incensed, that, after having
summoned his barons, he was unable to explain very intelligibly
the cause of his indignation; but they took it for
granted, and collected their quotas of men, which, when

united, amounted to twenty thousand. Josyan now represented
to her father, that he would do well to confer the
honour of knighthood on the invincible Bevis, whose single
person was worth at least half a dozen armies; and her
advice being implicitly followed, the young general prepared
for the battle.
Bevis did on his acquetoun,1
That had aughted2 many a town;
A hauberk Josyan him brought,
Soothly a better was never y-wrought.
A helm she gave him, good and fair,
There might no thing it apayre3.
Then gave him that fair may4
A good sword that hight MORGLAY:
There was no better under the sun;
Many a land there with was won.
Josyan gave him, siththen, a steed,
The best that ever on ground yede;
Full well I can his name tell;
Men called him ARUNDEL.
There was no horse in the world so strong
That might him follow a furlong.
Bevis in the saddle 'light;
Josyan smiled that was so bright.
Bevis gan his horn to blow.
That his host should him know, &c.
Bradmond trusted very much to the hitherto unrivalled
strength of his standard-bearer, the giant Radyson, and not
less to the vast superiority of his numbers; insomuch that.
when he discovered Bevis advancing at the head of his small
troop, he thought it quite comical, and could not refrain from
an immoderate fit of laughter. The battle began by distinct
But when that they had broke the 'ray,
Fierce and mortal was that fray!
Bevis began by driving his spear through the huge body
1 A wadded or quilted waistcoat worn under the coat of mail, but often
taken for the coat of mail itself. See Halliwell's Dictionary, p. 16.
2 Cost. 3 Impair, hurt, lessen in value. 4 Maid.
of Radyson: after which he made a course of experiments to
try the temper of his sword Morglay, and thinned the ranks
of the enemy with such astonishing expedition, that Bradmond,
quite cured of his mirth, thought only of securing his
retreat, and of carrying off two of Ermyn's knights, his
prisoners, whom he had "taken in the beginning of the action.
But in this also he failed. Bevis, borne with the rapidity of
lightning by the incomparable Arundel, quickly overtook the
fugitive, felled him together with his horse at one blow to the
ground, recovered the prisoners, and signified to his prostrate
enemy that he could only obtain permission to live, by taking
a solemn oath of allegiance and fealty to the once despised
Ermyn. Bradmond thought this condition very severe, but
frankly confessed that he thought the loss of life still more
disagreeable; and, having repeated the formula which constituted
him the vassal of King Ermyn, was suffered to
The conqueror being returned to court, and having simply
and modestly related his success, and the important consequences
which it secured, was received with transports of
gratitude by the king, who immediately ordered his daughter
to disarm the hero, to clothe him in a magnificent robe, and
to serve him while at table.
Then was Josyan right glad,
And to her chamber she him ladde.
She set him soft upon a bed,
Boards 1 were laid and cloths spread.
When she had unarmed Bevis,
To the board she him led y-wis.
And made him well at ease and fine,
With rich meat and noble wine.
When that they hadde well eaten,
And on her bed together sitten,
Josyan, that was so true,
Thought she would her love renew.
She said, " Bevis, lemman2, thine ore!
Than I can tell I love thee more.
Certes, Bevis, but thou me rede,
For pure love I shall be dead!"
1 Tables. 2 Sweetheart; love.
Then said Bevis. " Josyan, be still ;
Thou speakest all against skill.1
Thou mightest have one allunlyche, 2
King Bradmond that is so ryche.
In all the world is no man,
Prince, king, ne soudan,
But they would have thee to queen,
Gif they hadde thee once seen.
I am a knight of strange land,
I have no more than I in stand."
" Mercy! Bevis," said Josyan,
" I had thee liever to my lemman,
Thy body in thy shirt all naked,3
Than all the good that Mahoun maked.
Bevis," she said, " tell me thy thought!''
Bevis sat still, and spake right nought;
She fell down and wepte sore ;
She said, " Thou saydest here before,
There is no king that me hath seen,
But that he would have me to queen;
And thou disdainest of me so ?
See thou out of my chamber go :
More comely it were thee like
For to hedge, and make a dyke,
Than thus to be dubbed a knight,
And to sit among maidens bright.
Go, churl ! out of my fare,4
And Mahoun give thee mickle care !''
" Damsel," he said, " I am no churl;
My father was both knight and earl ;
Unto my country I will me hie.''
The dispute having now degenerated into a formal quarrel,
Bevis returned to the lady all her presents, and, bidding her
an eternal farewell, retired to his chamber; while she, supported
by the feelings of injured pride, made no effort to detain him.
But no sooner was she left alone, than she began to lament
most bitterly her foolish precipitation. She had a favourite
and confidential chamberlain, named Boniface, whom she im-
12 Exclusively. 3 It was formerly unusual to sleep with any night-linen on. 4 Way.
mediately dispatched to her lover with a most penitential
message, conjuring him to return, and promising to make
ample amends for the indiscreet words into which her passion
had betrayed her. But the knight, after bestowing on her
messenger a magnificent present, sturdily declared that he
would not stir a step in quest of her apology: and the tender
Josyan, anxious to procure an immediate reconciliation, hastened
to the apartment of her lover, met his ill-humour with
the most winning complaisance, and finally forced from him
the avowal of a mutual passion.
" Mercy," she said, "my lemman sweet!
(She fell down and gan to weep).
" Forgive me that I have mis-said,
I will that ye be well apayed !
My false gods I will forsake,
And Christendom for thy love take."
" On that covenant," said Sir Bevis than,
" I will thee love, fair Josyan!''
Bevis, it seems, had endured a long struggle between his
affection and his piety; and though his heart had always done
justice to the incomparable charms of Josyan, the reflection
that those charms belonged to a heathen hound had constantly
checked his passion. That obstacle was now removed ; and
the happy couple, during a very long interview, gave way to
the delight which both derived from their reconciliation,
perfectly unconscious that the severest calamity which had
ever menaced them was now impending, and would produce a
long interruption of their happiness.
It will be remembered that Sir Bevis, in the late action, had
liberated two knights captured by Bradmond. Not content
with saving them from captivity, he carried them to his own
apartment, entertained them magnificently, and admitted them
to the most intimate familiarity. They had thus an opportunity
of witnessing the interview between Bevis and Josyan;
and, hastening to the king, informed him that his daughter
was become a renegade, and was preparing to form an indissoluble
connection with the Christian knight, the enemy of his
majesty's holy religion.
Ermyn was much disturbed by this intelligence. The crime
was such as he could not pardon; yet it was neither honour-
able nor safe to attempt the public punishment of Sir Bevis.
But the treacherous knights presently removed this difficulty
by proposing that a letter should be written to King Bradmond,
charging him on his allegiance to secure the person of
his Christian rival, and that Sir Bevis should himself be the
bearer of this letter. The nefarious project was immediately
executed; and the knight readily accepted the embassy, only
expressing his wish to take with him his good horse and
sword, for the purpose of securing himself against the probable
treachery of Bradmond. But this proposal was overruled
by Ermyn, who observed, that such precautions were
contrary to all usage, and that the sacred character with
which he was invested was his best protection: he added,
" And, Bevis, thou shalt unto me swear,
That thou wilt truly my letters bear,
And, as thou art true man lief,
Not undo the print of my brief."1
The young envoy, without considering that sealed credentials
were much more contrary to usage than the precautions
which he had desired to adopt, took the oath without hesitation,
and departed, full of confidence, on his disastrous mission.
Bevis was seldom provident. Much of his journey lay
through an uninhabited country, yet had he taken no
measures for his subsistence; so that, after travelling three
days with all the speed that his ambling hackney could exert.
he found himself very sleepy and hungry. He then lay down
to rest during a few hours, and, awaking with a keener appetite
than before, pursued his way through the forest, where he
had the good fortune to discover a palmer seated at his dinner,
which consisted of a plentiful store of good bread and wine,
together with the unusual luxury of three baked curlews. The
pilgrim, perceiving that the stranger was a knight, vailed his
to him, and respectfully entreated him to share his
humble repast; to which Bevis thankfully consented, and
after a plentiful meal, entered into a conversation with his
kind entertainer, He now discovered that this palmer, whose
name was Terry, was the son of his uncle and foster-father
Saber. That good man, unwilling to boar the tyranny of Sir
Murdour and his wicked wife, had retreated to the Isle of
1 Break not the seal of my letter.

Wight; and. finding the inhabitants full of loyalty to the son
of the deceased earl, had, with their assistance, defended the
island against all the forces which the usurper could bring
against him. But as the presence of Bevis was necessary to
authorize any offensive measures, he had dispatched his son
Terry, under the disguise of a palmer, into Heathenness, with
orders to discover his lord, and bring him back to the assistance
of his subjects. Bevis, unwilling to discover himself,
professed to be the confidential friend of the young earl, to
whom he promised to relate this important intelligence so
soon as he should have finished the business of his present
embassy, and directed Terry to return to Saber with assurances
of a speedy succour. They now separated, and Bevis
pursued his journey towards Damascus.
The description of this famous city seems to deserve insertion.
There was King Bradmond's palace,
Was never none richer the story says:
For all the windows and the walls
Were painted with gold, both towers and halls;
Pillars and doors all were of brass;
Windows of latten1 were set with glass:
It was so rich in many wise,
That it was like a paradise;
About the palace there was a dyke,
In brede2 and deepness there was none like;
Over the dyke a bridge there lay,
That man and beast might pass away:
Under the bridge were sixty bells,
Right as the romance tells,
That there might no man pass in
But all they rang with a gin.3
At the bridge end stood a tower,
Painted with gold and with azure:
Rich it was to behold;
Thereon stood an eagle of gold;
His eyen were of precious stones,
Of great virtue for the nonce;

1 A mixed metal of the colour of brass.—The old dramatists allude to it
in many a quibble. 2 Breadth. 3 By a mechanical contrivance.
( ⇒ )
The stones were so rich and bright
That all the palace shone of light.
Bevis had never before seen so much magnificence; but he
was too impatient to lose time in satisfying his curiosity: he
passed on, and presently found himself entangled in a crowd
of Saracens, who were preparing a sacrifice to an idol representing
Mahomet. This offensive sight suspended in his mind
all recollection of his business at Damascus; he pressed
through the multitude, forced his way to the idol, seized it by
its golden crown, and threw it into the dirt, desiring the
people to go and help a god who was now evidently incapable
of helping them. The sudden act of sacrilege raised a
general cry of indignation against the insolent stranger, and a
thousand hands were at once raised to seize him; but Bevis,
though deprived of Morglay, had by his side a common sword,
and began forthwith to cut off the heads of his assailants with
a dexterity which was truly marvellous. The crowd ran with
precipitation towards the palace, followed by the ambassador,
who continued his operations till he reached the king's presence
; when, dropping on his knees, he delivered his credentials,
accompanying them with an oration expressive of his
contempt for his majesty's sacred person, and for the believers
in Mahomet of all ranks and conditions.
Bradmond, taking the letter, ordered a clerk to read it, and
heard its contents with equal surprise and pleasure. After
reproaching Bevis with his unprovoked attack on the people
of Damascus, and on the wooden Mahomet, whose vengeance
had so suddenly overtaken him, the king held a short council,
and then ordered that the knight should be seized, and confined
in a deep dungeon inhabited only by two dragons, who
were in the habit of devouring their fellow-prisoners; and at
the same time he remarked to the culprit, that the generous
and grateful Ermyn, for whom he had gained, at the risk of
his life, a decisive victory, was the real author of this sentence.
Sir Bevis resisted as long as he could, and destroyed a considerable
number of his enemies, when his sword broke in his
hand, and he was at length secured, his arms being tied behind
him with such violence that the blood burst forth from
his fingers ends, he was now conducted into the great hall
of the palace, placed in a knight's stall, and fed, with much
appearance of ceremony, by a Saracen knight, the king at the

( ⇒ )
same time recommending him to eat with a good appetite, as
he now saw before him the last luxuries of which he would
ever taste. He was next lowered into the dungeon, where
his hands were unbound, and he was left to defend himself as
well as he could against the two dragons, who shortly after
made their appearance and attacked him: but, having luckily
found the truncheon of a staff, he fought the monsters during
a whole day and night, and ultimately destroyed them; after
which he devoutly returned thanks to Heaven for his victory.
Some wheatbran was daily let down into the dungeon for his
support: but neither meat nor corn was allowed to him; and
Rats and mice, and such small deer,1
Was his meat that seven year.
While Bevis was languishing in this miserable captivity,
the tender Josyan was in a situation scarcely less pitiable.
To her inquiries concerning Sir Bevis, Ermyn answered, that
he was returned to England and married to a lady of high
distinction; and to the grief occasioned by this calumny,
which though she did not quite believe she could not disprove,
were added the persecutions of a new lover. I nor,
king of Mounbraunt, an empire quite unknown to modern
geographers, applied for, and obtained from her father, the
promise of her hand; and, however unwilling to justify, by her
own conduct, the supposed infidelity of Sir Bevis, she was
compelled to marry a man whose person she hated, and whose
religion she had secretly abjured. She had, however, in
reserve, a notable contrivance for preserving her chastity
" I shall go make me a writ,
Thorough a clerk wise of wit,
That there shall no man have grace,
While that letter is in place,
Against my will to lie me by,
Nor do me shame nor villany . "
She did that letter soon be wrought,
On the manner as she had thought;
About her neck she hanged it ;
She would not beguile Bevis yet.
Thus armed, she submitted to the marriage contract in

1 Any sort of untamed animals. These lines are quoted in King Lear.
presence of the king of Babylon and of the soudan of Persia
and departed with her husband towards his dominions, Inor
had received from Ermyn, amongst other presents, the good
sword Morglay and the good steed Arundel, whom he determined
to mount on the day of his triumphal entry: but
scarcely was he seated in the saddle, when Arundel, perceiving
some l i t t le symptoms of awkwardness in his new rider,
scampered off with him; and, followed by the whole court,
who were unwilling to abandon their sovereign, performed so
many evolutions amongst the hushes and briers, and so completely
disordered the seat of the too presuming bridegroom,
that a sudden plunge threw him upon his back with a degree
of violence by which the spine was nearly dislocated. Inor
was long confined to his bed; and Arundel, strongly suspected
by the grooms of some treasonable design on his
majesty's life, would have been starved in the stable, but for
the charitable donations of corn which were administered to
him by the attention of Josyan.
During the seven years of his imprisonment, Bevis had
made so great a proficiency in the Christian virtues, as to
deserve to receive a visit from an angel, who condescended
to cure him of a wound inflicted by an adder in crawling over
him. Encouraged by this miraculous event, he began to pray
to Heaven with increased fervour for his deliverance out of
the dungeon; when the tremulous tones of his voice attracted
the attention of his two gaolers, who, encouraged by his
apparent weakness, determined to murder him. The first
who descended made a blow at him with his sword, which
felled him to the ground; but Bevis, soon rising, returned the
compliment with his fist and killed the assailant; then assuming
a feigned voice, he easily decoyed down the other
assassin, whom he instantly dispatched with the sword of his
companion, But the victory had nearly proved fatal to the
victor. With his gaolers died all hopes of his daily allowance
of food; but, after three days of dreadful abstinence, his steadfast
piety was rewarded by a new miracle. The massive
chain, by which his middle was fastened to the rock of his
dungeon, suddenly gave way; he fell on his knees to thank
Heaven for his deliverance; and, seizing the rope by which
the gaolers had descended, easily gained the surface of the pit
in which he had been so long entombed
( ⇒ )
This escape took place rather before the dawn of day;
and he soon heard sounds of merriment proceeding from
the royal stables, where the grooms were dressing the king's
war-horses. Through a hole in the Avail he then discovered a
pile of armour, and, bursting open the door with a kick of his
foot, found little difficulty in killing a dozen of wretches, whom
his cadaverous appearance, and his long hair which trailed
upon the ground, had rendered stupid with astonishment.
He then armed himself at his leisure; saddled and mounted
the best horse in the stable, galloped to the palace gates, and,
loudly taxing the porter with negligence for suffering Sir
Bevis to escape from prison, commanded the draw-bridge to
be instantly lowered; was obeyed without hesitation, set spurs
to his horse, and galloped off into the neighbouring forest.
Here, however, he soon lost his way, and, after riding till the
approach of night, was so overcome by sleep, that he was
obliged to dismount and lie down to rest at a short distance
from the city which he had quitted in the morning.
In the mean time, the gaolers being missed, and the
dungeon searched, the news of Sir Bevis's escape was conveyed
to the king, who collecting all his knights, immediately
set off in pursuit of the fugitive. The most formidable of
these knights was Sir Graundere, the proprietor of a valuable
horse named Trenchefys; and such was the speed of this
courser, that he overtook Sir Bevis, who had at length discovered
the right road; whilst the king and his other vassals,
though well mounted, had scarcely advanced a few miles in
their pursuit. Bevis, thus compelled to defend himself, turned
upon his adversary, pierced him through the heart with the
first thrust of his spear, took possession of Trenchefys, and
continued his flight: but having again mistaken his way, he
at length came in sight of the sea. constantly followed by King
Bradmond and his army of knights. In this desperate situation
our hero, recommending himself to God, spurred his
steed into the water, and the indefatigable Trenchefys swam
with him to the opposite shore.
So much, however, was he enfeebled by want of food, that
when his horse, on reaching the dry ground, began to shake
himself, he fell out of the saddle; but speedily remounted, and
continuing his journey, soon arrived at a fair castle, on the
walls of which stood a lady, whom he eagerly besought, for
the love of God, to give him a meal's meat. The lady
answered, that her lord was a giant and an infidel, and therefore
conjured the Christian stranger to seek a more hospitable
mansion. But Bevis was inflexible; he declared that having
no wish to die of hunger, he was resolved to dine in that
castle, either as a guest or by force. This being announced
to the giant, he seized an iron door-bar in his hand, and thus
addressed Sir Bevis:
" What art thou, Sir Nyse?1
"Where stalest thou Trenchefyse
That thou sittest upon here ?
He was my brother's. Sir Graundere. "
" God wot." then said Bevis,
" I shofe2 Sir Graundere a crown, y-wis,
When we last met in bataile;
I made him deacon, without fail;
And, if thou wilt orders take,
A priest," said Bevis, " I shall thee make."
This elegant conversation ended by a terrible combat. The
giant aimed a blow at his adversary, which missed the rider,
but killed the unfortunate Trenchefys: he also threw a javelin
with such force and skill that it transfixed the shoulder of
Sir Bevis, who. however, revenged himself by cutting off the
giant's head ; and rushed into the castle, still calling on the
lady for something to eat. She instantly set before him a
plentiful dinner, which he dispatched with much rapidity,
after ordering her, in the first instance, to taste of every dish
and of every kind of wine which was successively set before
him. She then with a kerchief bound up his wound, and
stopped the effusion of blood: after which he felt such an
impatience to be gone, that he instantly ordered out the
giant's best horse, and
Into the saddle so he lept
That on no stirrup he ne stept.
He now ardently wished, whilst he rode over a beautiful
green plain, that he could meet King Bradmond's army, and
cut it in pieces to accelerate his digestion; but, as no arms
happened to meet him, he continued his journey to Jerusalem,
where he confessed his sins to the patriarch , and received his
1 Foolish. A. N. 2 Shaved.
absolution, accompanied by a strict injunction that he should
never unite himself in matrimony with any but a clean maid
an injunction, to which the penitent readily promised a constant
On quitting Jerusalem, his wishes naturally led him to take
the road to Ermony; but he had not advanced far, when he
met a gentle knight, who had been in his service at the court
of King Ermyn, and who related to him all the circumstances
of Josyan's marriage to Inor, king of Mounbraunt. To this
country, therefore, he pointed his steps, after receiving from
the knight an exact description of the road: and, having
reached the principal city, determined to enter it in disguise
for which purpose he exchanged dresses with a poor palmer
The king, he was told, was then hunting, but the queen was
in her tower; to this tower therefore he proceeded. At the
gate stood a crowd of pilgrims, waiting for their share of the
food which the charitable Josyan was in the habit of daily
distributing to poor Christians; but as the hour of dinner was
not arrived, Sir Bevis proceeded to examine the exterior
the palace, and had the satisfaction, in passing under the
windows of her turret, to hear the voice of his mistress, who
was praying to Heaven with great fervency; and he was
sufficiently near to distinguish that he was not forgotten :
her devotions. He then returned to the gate; was welcomed
by her as an indigent stranger; was placed by her at the
head of the board
, plentifully fed, and was then requested to
relate whether, in the course of his travels, he had ever seen
or heard of Sir Bevis. He professed to be the most intimate
friend of that knight, by whom he had been sent into various
countries in search of a steed called Arundel. The queen, on
this assurance, led the disguised stranger to Arundel's stable
and that faithful horse no sooner heard the voice of his
master, than he burst asunder seven chains by which he was
fastened to the stall, and ran out of the stable door. She now
expressed her fears lest the mischievous animal should escape
and throw the whole town into consternation; but Bevis
laughing at her fears, approached the steed, who seemed to
expect with anxiety the commands of his well-known rider.
Bevis himself in the saddle threw.
And thereby Josyan anon him knew.
( ⇒ )
She said, " Bevis, my lemman dear,
Ride not fro me in no mannere!
Thou promised me for wife to take.
When I my false gods did forsake:
Help me, Bevis, now at this need;
For thou hast Arundel thine own steed;
I shall thee fetch thy sword Morglay;
And lead me, Bevis, with thee away! "
Sir Bevis answered, " By Saint Jame,
If I thee love I were to blame!
For thee I lay in prison strong
Seven year, and that was long!
Also the patriarch, on my life,
Charged me never to take wife
But if she were a maiden clean;
And seven year hast thou been queen,
And every night a knight by thee :
How shouldest thou then a maiden be?"
"Mercy, Sir Bevis," then said she,
"Have me home to thy countré :
But ye find me a true woman,
In all that ever ye say can,
Send me hither to my foe,
Myself naked, and no mo!"
"I grant," said Bevis, "that thou with me go.
On that covenant that it be so.
Hie1 the fast, and make thee prest,2
If that thou with me go lest."3
It will be remembered that Josyan had a confidential chamberlain
named Boniface. This prudent personage was fortunately
present during this conversation, and, whilst his
mistress was gone in search of the sword, stated to Sir Bevis
the danger of such a hurried departure, and suggested to him
a much more rational project. "The king," said he, "is now
hunting in the forest, but he will return immediately. Should
you carry off the queen thus publicly, you will meet with
obstacles on every side, and be closely pursued. But take
my advice:—Your disguise conceals you effectually; the king
will notice you as a traveller, and naturally ask you for news.
1 Hasten. 2 Ready. 3 List, chose.
Tell him that you are just come from Syria; that Bradwin
who is his brother, has been totally defeated by King Syrak;
that the avenues to the country are possessed by the enemy,
and all means of sending intelligence of his situation effectually
cut off. The king will instantly hasten, with all his
forces, to the relief of his brother; and during his absence we
may take our measures at our leisure, and escape with perfect
security." Bevis was convinced by this reasoning; led back
Arundel to the stable; and, having told his story to the king,
had the satisfaction to see him depart on the next day for
The city of Mounbraunt was, in the mean time, committed
to the care of the king's steward, named Sir Grassy, an active
and vigilant officer: but Boniface contrived to give him a
sleeping-potion; during the operation of which Sir Bevis,
arrayed in the best armour which the king's treasury could
furnish, accompanied by Josyan on the peerless Arundel, and
attended by the trusty Boniface, departed without meeting
any opposition from the inhabitants of Mounbraunt. The
governor indeed awaked at last, issued his orders for stopping
the fugitives on the frontier, and followed them into a forest,
where Sir Bevis, having reconnoitred the army of his pursuers,
felt a great desire to amuse his mistress by killing a few
thousands of them with his good sword Morglay; but Josyan
insisted on taking refuge in a cave which was pointed out to
her by the sagacious Boniface, and where they effectually disappointed
all the measures taken by the governor for their
But Josyan, after a strict abstinence of twenty-four hours,
began to feel herself very hungry: and Sir Bevis, leaving her
in the cave with Boniface, undertook to kill some venison for
her support. During his absence, two huge lions came into
the cave; and Boniface, who, in addition to his other merits,
had great dispositions to heroism, valiantly attacked them;
but in spite of his efforts the lions proceeded to devour him
and his horse : and
When they had eaten of that man,
They went both unto Josyan,
And laid their heads upon her barme:1
But they would do her no harme ;

1 Lap.

For it is the lion's kind,1 y-wis,
A king's daughter that maid is
Hurt nor harme none to do :
Therefore lay these lions so.
Bevis on his return found Josyan perfectly familiarised
with the lions, whom however she could not forgive for eating
her chamberlain: she therefore proposed to hold one of them
by the neck whilst her lover attacked the other: but he
insisted on fighting the two together; and such was the comfort
which he derived from the presence of his mistress, and
from the conviction of her perfect chastity, that he cut off'
both their heads at one stroke. The lovers now dined, and,
after duly bewailing the loss of the faithful Boniface, mounted
on Arundel and pursued their journey.
They had not proceeded far when they met a most portentous
and formidable giant, with whom the reader will soon
become better acquainted, and whom we will therefore permit
the author to describe :
This geaunt was mighty and strong,
And full thirty foot was long.
He was bristled like a sow;
A foot he had between each brow;
His lips were great, and hung aside;
His eyen were hollow; his mouth was wide:
Lothy he was to look on than,
And liker a devil than a man.
His staff was a young oak,
Hard and heavy was his stroke.
Bevis wondred on him right,
And him inquired what he hight?
And if all the men in his cuntree
Were as mighty and great as he?
"My name," he said, "is Ascapard;
Sir Grassy sent me hitherward
For to bring you home again."
But this could not be accomplished without a battle; and
such was the activity of Sir Bevis, that Ascapard was never
once able to touch him, while he himself was covered with
wounds from head to food, and at length fell down, after
1 Nature.
aiming a terrible but ineffectual blow at his adversary, quite
exhausted with fatigue and loss of blood. His life was spared
at the particular intercession of Josyan, and the unwieldy
monster became, from this time, the page of Sir Bevis.
After this accession to their household, the lovers proceeded
till they reached the sea, where they found a dromound (merchant-
ship) ready to sail for Germany, but already occupied
by some Saracens, who refused to admit Sir Bevis and his
companions into their vessel. Ascapard immediately drove
them all out; took up Arundel with Bevis and Josyan under
his arm; embarked with them; and, drawing up the sail.
arrived, after a prosperous voyage, at Cologne.
The bishop of Cologne happened to be the brother of Sir
Guy and Sir Saber, and consequently the uncle of Sir Bevis.
whom therefore the good prelate received with every mark of
affection. Having inquired the names of the beautiful lady
and ugly giant, his travelling companions, he learnt from his
nephew their former adventures, and Josyan's earnest desire
to be solemnly christened; to which Sir Bevis added, that he
should be glad if his unwieldy page could be cleansed from
his pagan propensities on the same occasion. Accordingly,
The bishop christened Josyan,
That was white as any swan.
For Ascapard was made a tun;
And when he should therein be done,
He lept out upon the brench,1
And said, "Churl! wilt thou me drench?2
The devil of hell mot fetche thee!
I am too much3 christened to be ! "
The author adds, that this indecent spectacle, though it
sorely grieved the bishop, afforded infinite amusement to the
good people of Cologne.
It was near this city that Sir Bevis had the honour to
achieve the most perilous adventure of his whole life: it is
true that
―――――――――Sir Launcelot du Lake
Fought with the brenning drake;4

1 Brink. 2 Drown. 3 Too big.
4 Burning dragon. See an account of this adventure in Malory's
Morte Arthur, lib. xi. cap. i.
Guy of Warwick, I understand,
Slew a dragon in Northumberland;
But such a dragon was never seen
As Sir Bevis slew, I wene.
It seems that there had been two of these monsters in Calabria,
who completely ravaged that country, but were at length
expelled by the prayers of a holy man. They then flew to
Tuscany, and thence to Lombardy where they separated.
The one flew to the court of Rome: but in that land of devotion
became immoveable.
Men say he is there yit,
Enclosed round with clerkes' wit.
The other came to the territory of Cologne ; and Sir Bevis,
moved with compassion by the groans of a knight who had
been touched by the poison of this monster, determined to
attack him. though assured by all the inhabitants of the
country that no one but St. Michael was able to maintain a
contest with such a serpent.
Ascapard, in the first instance, readily undertook to attend
his master on this occasion; but the mere dissonance of the
dragon's voice, which he heard at a great distance, had such
an effect on his ears, that he declared his resolution to return,
avowing that he would not undertake, "for all the realms of
heathenness," to look into the throat from which such a voice
had issued. Sir Bevis therefore was left alone : yet he proceeded,
in spite of the monster's hideous yell, to attack him
with his good sword Morglay ; and, though the first lash of
the dragon's tail broke one of his ribs and felled him to the
ground, whilst his sword made no impression on the impenetrable
scales of his enemy, continued the battle with great
obstinacy, until, in retreating to avoid the poisonous breath of
the dragon, he fell backwards into a well full of water.
Luckily for him, a female saint had bathed in this water ; and
had thereby imparted to it such marvellous efficacy, that,
whilst it healed the wound and restored the almost exhausted
strength of the Christian hero, it effectually impeded t h e
attack of the dragon. Sir Bevis now renewed the combat;
but the serpent spouting on him about a gallon of venom, he
instantly fell senseless on the ground, where his enemy continued
to whip him with his tail, till he whipped him a second
time into the miraculous well. Here he again recovered his
senses, and began to say his prayers with much devotion;
after which he adjusted at his leisure the several pieces of his
armour which had been discomposed by the rough treatment
which they had met with whilst he lay on the ground; and
finally issued again from the well, and wielded the good sword
Morglay with a degree of vigour which his wearied enemy
was no longer willing to encounter. The dragon now began
to retreat in his turn; but Bevis, following him, had the good
fortune to cut off about five feet of that wicked tail from
which he had suffered such dreadful bruises; after which, he
had little difficulty in severing the monster's head from the
body. Having then returned thanks to heaven for this signal
victory, he returned in triumph to Cologne with the dragon's
head, and was received by the people and by the good bishop
as the deliverer of the country.
Having acquired such claims to the bishop's gratitude, Sir
Bevis applied to him for advice and assistance in promoting
his long meditated project to revenge the death of his father.
The prelate readily promised him a hundred knights, all men
of approved valour, who, he said, would rejoice to serve under
the banners of such a distinguished leader; and this little
troop requiring no time for preparation, the knight took leave
of his dear Josyan, whom he intrusted during his absence to
the care of Ascapard, and, embarking for England, arrived,
shortly after, at a port within a few miles of Southampton.
He landed, and marched towards that town preceded by a
messenger, whom he sent to Sir Murdour, with orders to say
that "a knight of Britany, with a hundred companions from
different parts of France, was just arrived in quest of service,
which they offered to him in the first instance, but should, if
refused, transfer to his competitor." Sir Murdour was overjoyed
at this offer, which he readily accepted; and, advancing
to meet the strangers, ushered Sir Bevis with great ceremony
into the hall, and paid him during supper the most marked
attentions, in which he was faithfully imitated by the
The assumed name of Bevis was Sir Jarrard; and under
this name he had the amusement of hearing a most curious
account of his own adventures. Sir Murdour told him that
Sir Guy, the first husband of the countess, was a man of
ignoble blood; that, perhaps for this reason, his son Bevis
became a mere vulgar spendthrift, sold to him his heritage,
and then for shame quitted the country; that Sir Saber, without
any legal claim, attempted to wrest from him his purchase;
and that this was the quarrel in which he required
the services of his noble guests. Bevis, during this relation,
was much tempted to punish on the spot the shameless
effrontery of his step-father; but he concealed his emotions,
and determined to meet fraud with fraud. Addressing himself
to Sir Murdour, he said, " Such being your quarrel,
myself and my company, had we been able to come properly
equipped, might have easily settled it. Indeed, if you will
lend us arms and horses, and provide us a ship for our conveyance,
we will depart this very night, and will promise not
to lose sight of Saber till your disagreement shall be finally
adjusted." This offer was thankfully accepted; Bevis carried
off to the Isle of Wight the choicest armour and the finest
horses that his enemy could furnish; and, having joined Saber,
instantly ordered a messenger to return to Southampton,—
" And tell to Sir Murdour, right,
That I am no Frenche knight,
Nor he hight not Sir Jarrard,
That made with him that foreward;1
But say it was Bevis of renown,
The right heir of South-Hamptoun;
And say, his countess is my dame;
The Devil give them both shame!
And say I will avenged be,
Of that they did to my father and me!"
This being faithfully reported to Sir Murdour, who was
then at table, he snatched up a knife and threw it at the
ambassador of Sir Bevis, but had the misfortune to aim the
blow so ill that it missed the intended object and pierced the
heart of his own son; a circumstance which, being immediately
related to Sir Bevis, was considered by him as a proof
of divine interposition, and as a most fortunate omen of his
future success.
We must now return with our author to the beautiful
Josyan, whom we left at Cologne. There lived in the neigh-
1 Promise, contract.
bourhood of that city a powerful earl named Sir Mile, who
saw, became enamoured o t h e r , and resolved to enjoy her.
Josyan, to whom he communicated without ceremony both
his wishes and his determination to gratify them, only laughed
at him, and frankly told him that it he attempted violence he
would meet with a very serious resistance from her, and not
less from Ascapard. But the crafty German was aware that
nothing was so easy as to over-reach the giant. He forged a
letter to him from Sir Bevis, ordering his immediate attendance
in an island which he described, and to which the
obedient page readily followed the bearer of the letter: after
this , the gates of the castle in t o which he was decoyed being
looked, a circumstance to which he paid little attention, he
patiently expected the arrival of his master. Sir Mile, no
longer apprehensive from this quarter, sent an account of his
success to Josyan, who now, justly alarmed, dispatched a
messenger to Bevis. imploring his immediate assistance, and
then, after devising a variety of stratagems to escape her
hated lover, at length fixed on the most extraordinary that
perhaps ever entered into the head of woman. She calmly
told Sir Mile, at his next visit, that she had sworn never to
surrender her person to a lover, and that his power, great as
it might be, should never compel her to break her oath: but
that a husband had rights which she could not with reason
oppose, and that he might, if he pleased, become that husband.
Sir Mile, overjoyed and astonished at this declaration,
thanked her with transport, and gave orders for the immediate
solemnization of the wedding. They were married.

There lacked nothing, verily,
Of rich meats, and minstrelsy,
When it drew towarde night,
A riche souper there was dight ,
And after that, verament,
The knight and she to chamber went.
Within her bed when that she was,
The Earl came and did rejoice,
With barons, and great company,
And possets made with spicery .
When that they had drunken wine,
" Sir," said Josyan, " and love mine,
( ⇒ )
Let no person near us be
This night, to hear our privité,
Neither knight, maiden, nor swain:
Myself shall be your chamberlain!"
He said, " Leman, it shall be so;''
Man and maid he bade out go:
He shut the door well and fast,
And sat him down at the last.
Josyan was waiting for this moment. She had made a
slip-knot in her girdle, and suddenly passing it round his
neck, and pulling at it with her whole strength, most effectually
strangled him, and, hanging him up over the beam of
the roof, quietly resigned herself to sleep. Her rest indeed
was so profound, that it was protracted much beyond her
usual hour of rising.
The barons gan for to arise.
Some for hunting, some for kirk,
And workmen rose to do their work.
The sun shone; it drew to under;1
The barons thereof hadde wonder,
Why the Earl lay so long in bed.
Tho 2 they all wondred had,
Some saiden, "Let him lygge still:
Of Josyan let him han his will."
Mid-day came; it drew to noon:
The boldest said, " How may this gon ?
Wete I wol myself, and see
How it may therof i-bee."
He smote the door with his hond,
That all wide open soon it wond.
" Awake, awake,'' he said, " Sir Mile,
Thou hast islepen a long w h i l e !
Thine head aketh, I wot right wel:
Dame, make him a cawdel!
Josyan said, "At that sake
Never eft wol his head ake;
I have eased him of that sore,
His head wol ake never more.
1 Under-time; i.e., nine o' clock 2 When.
( ⇒ )
All night he hath ridden idle,
Withouten halter, withouten bridle.
Yesterday he wedded me with wrong,
And at night I did him hong.
Never eft shall he woman spill:
Now doeth with me all your will!"
As it was notorious that she had been married to Sir Mile,
and no less so that she had murdered him, the law condemned
her to the flames; and the barons in the interest, who were
not a little offended by the haughty language of her confession,
exerted themselves with great zeal in hastening the
preparation for her execution. Ascapard, from the walls of
his castle, happened to descry these preparations, and, suspecting
some mischief, instantly burst open the gates of his
prison; plunged into the water; swam towards a fisherman's
boat, which its proprietor, wisely deeming him to be
the devil, hastily abandoned on his approach; paddled to the
opposite shore; and advanced with hasty strides towards the
city. He was overtaken by Sir Bevis, who taxed him with
treachery; from which, however, he easily exculpated himself.
The two champions then hastened forward; exterminated
all who opposed them; rescued Josyan from the stake
to which she was already bound; and, placing her behind her
lover on Arundel, shortly returned to the Isle of Wight,
where the princess and the giant were duly welcomed by
Sir Saber.
Both parties now began their preparations for war. Sir
Bevis and Sir Saber collected a moderate number of knights,
with whose valour they were well acquainted, while Sir Murdour
summoned a large army from Germany, and was joined,
in consequencc of an application from the countess, by the
King of Scotland. In the mouth of May, " when leaves and
grass ginneth spring," Sir Murdour embarked his troops,
landed without opposition, and encamped close to a castle in
which Saber had collected all his forces. The old man disdaining
to be besieged, had no sooner descried the enemy
than he prepared to give them battle; and heading onethird
of his troops, whilst the two other divisions were led
on by Sir Bevis and by Ascapard, began the attack with
great fury.
Sir Menes, the mouncheer so feer,1
His steed he pricked again Sabere.
His spear was long, and somedeal keen;
Sabere him met, and that was seen!
And though his spear were sharply ground,
Sir Sabere him gave a deadly wound.
In the mean time Sir Bevis had solely attached himself to
Sir Murdour; had thrown him to the ground; but, being
enveloped by numbers, had been unable to make him captive.
He therefore called loudly on Ascapard—
――――――――――and to him said,
" Ascapard! now take good heed!
The emperor rideth on a white steed.
Thine hire I wol yield right well,
Giff thou him bring to the castel."
Ascapard tho forth him dight,
And both he slew horse and knight,
And soon he took that emperour,
And brought him swithe to the tower.
Sir Bevis rode swithe great randoun ;
" Let boilen," he said, " a great caldroun,
Full of pitch and brimstone,
And hot lead cast thereupon ! "
Tho it did seethe,2 and played fast,
The emperor therein he cast.
There he died and made his end;
His soul to hell so mot it wend!
Houndes gnaw him to the bone !
So wreak3 us, God, of all our foen!
By the capture and death of the chief the battle was of
course decided; and that nothing might be wanting to Sir
Bevis's vengeance, the countess, unwilling to survive her husband,
threw herself from the top of a lofty tower, and was
killed on the spot. The burgesses of Southampton, now at
liberty to express their real feelings, rushed out in crowds to
hail the approach of their natural lord. Sir Bevis dispatched
a messenger to the bishop of Cologne, who joyfully obeyed
the summons,
1 Monsieur si fier. Fr. 2 Boil. 3 Revenge.
And wedded Bevis and Josyan,
With mirth and joy of many a man.
Right great feast there was hold,
Of earls, barouns, and knightys bold ;
Of ladies and maidens, I understond,
All the fairest of that lond,
That all the castle dinned and rong
Of her mirth and of her song.
The reader will now be disposed to flatter himself that this
prodigious and eventful history is terminated; that Sir Bevis
will in future sleep quietly in his bed, Arundel in his stable,
and Morglay in its scabbard. But though the principal interest
of the piece is at an end, the author is not yet prepared
to part with his hero, who is still young and vigorous. He
has also upon his hands two Saracen kingdoms, those of Ermony
and Mounbraunt, which, according to all the laws of
romance-writing, he is bound to convert to Christianity; and
a giant, whose native propensities to wickedness it is necessary
to develop.
Sir Bevis had now avenged the death and regained the territories
of his father, but he did not yet possess his hereditary
honours; and it was requisite that he should receive, at London,
from the hands of his sovereign, the investiture of the
earldom. This was readily conferred by King Edgar on a
vassal, whose heroic deeds were already celebrated through
the country: and the monarch at the same time conferred on
the knight the dignity of earl-marshal, which had been also
enjoyed by Sir Guy. But merit, though it may sometimes
command court-favour, is very seldom found to retain it.
In summer it was, at Whitsuntide,
When knight must on horse ride,
The king a course he did grede, 1 For to assayen the best steed,
Which weren both stiff and strong.
Sir Bevis would not lose such an opportunity of proving
the incomparable speed of Arundel; and though, by some mistake,
he did not start till two knights, his competitors, had
already advanced two miles out of seven, of which the course
consisted, he persevered and won the race. Edgar's son, de-

1 Caused to be cried or proclaimed.
sirous of possessing the best horse in the world, begged him
as a boon from Sir Bevis: and when the knight refused to
part with his old favourite, the mean-spirited prince determined
to steal him. But we have seen that Arundel was not
easily compelled to change his masters. When the prince,
having gained admittance into the stable, approached the
steed, with the intention of leading him away, the indignant
Arundel gave him a sudden kick, and scattered his brains
about the stable. Edgar, inconsolable for the loss of his son,
swore to be revenged on Sir Bevis, and ordered him to be
hanged, drawn, and quartered; but the barons refused to ratify
this unjust sentence, observing that Arundel alone, being
guilty of the murder, must suffer punishment. Sir Bevis, however,
proposed, as an expiation of the horse's crime, to banish
himself from England, and to make over all his estates to
his uncle Saber; and this commutation being accepted, he
immediately departed with Arundel for Southampton.
Josyan was far advanced in her pregnancy when she learnt
the necessity of her immediate departure; yet she obeyed
without a murmur, and set off accompanied only by Bevis
and his nephew, Terry. Meanwhile, this change in the fortunes
of Sir Bevis produced a considerable alteration in the
mind of Ascapard. By betraying a master whom he had
served rather from the habit of obedience than from gratitude,
he hoped to obtain the most important favours from his former
sovereign; and, having learned exactly the route which
Bevis intended to take, he hastened to Mounbraunt; and, promising
King Inor to replace Josyan in his hands, obtained from
him a company of sixty Saracens to assist in carrying her off,
together with the assurance of a princely reward in the event
of his success.
The exiled travellers advanced but slowly. Josyan was
seized, in the midst of a forest, with the pains of child-birth;
and Bevis and Terry, having constructed a hut for her reception,
together with a couch of leaves, received her commands
to absent themselves for a few hours, and then return to her
assistance. Scarcely were they departed, when she was delivered
of two knave children, and almost at the same instant
she beheld the ferocious Ascapard, who, well aware of the
absence of her protectors, carried her off, without paying the
least regard to her fears or entreaties. Bevis, returning with
Terry to the hut, and finding the two children naked, and unaccompanied
by their mother, easily guessed what had happened,
and swooned with grief; but. soon recovering himself,
cut in two the ermine mantle of Josyan, which had for-
tunately been left behind: carefully wrapped up the children;
and. mounting his horse. pursued his journey. A forester,
whom he met shortly after, readily undertook the charge of
one of the children, promising to christen it by the name of
Guy, and to educate it with great care till it should be re-
claimed: and the other was consigned to a fisherman, together
with ten marks, with directions to christen it by the name of
Mile, and the ceremony was duly performed at the church-stile
in his village. The knight and his voting squire now emerged
from the forest, and arrived at a considerable town, where
they determined to stay some time in the hope of hearing intelligence
concerning Ascapard and Josyan.
On a soleer,1 as Bevis looked out.
At a window all about.
Helms he saw and brynnys 2 bright:
He had great wonder of that sight.
He learnt from his host, that a tournament had been proclaimed
at the request of a young lady, the daughter and
heiress of a duke, who meant to give her hand to the victor
knight. Though indifferent about the prize, Sir Bevis was by
no means indifferent about an opportunity of justing, and
Terry was still more anxious to prove his valour.
Sir Bevis disguised all his weed.
Of black cendal and of rede.
Flourished with roses of silver bright:
And that was thine of full great sight.
They comen riding in the way,
Bevis and Terry together, they tway;
A knight was ready in that grene,
And Bevis pricked to him, as I wene.
In short. Bevis and Terry overcame all their antagonists.
and the former was selected by the fair lady as her intended
husband; but as she found that he was already married, and
as heaven had blessed her with an accommodating disposition,
she proposed that he should be her lord only in clene manere;
1 An upper room, a garret. 2 Cuirasses.
and that if, after seven years of this Platonic apprenticeship
his real wife should appear, she would then accept Terry as
her husband. These terms were accepted by Bevis and by
his companion.
But we must now hasten to Sir Saber, who, though rather
an insignificant character in the prime of life, is become very
interesting in his old age. and increases in activity as he approaches
towards decrepitude. Saber was a great dreamer;
and his wife, whose name was Erneborugh, was a great expounder
of dreams; so that no sooner had Ascapard carried
off Josyan, than this couple discovered, by going to sleep,
that some great misfortune had befallen Sir Bevis, and that
he had lost either his wife, or his children, or his horse, or his
sword. Saber instantly summoned twelve of his best knights,
cased them in complete armour, concealed under pilgrims'
robes, gave them burdons or staves headed with the sharpest
steel, and, assuming the same disguise, put himself at their
head, and took the road to Mounbraunt. He even travelled
with such, expedition, that he overtook Ascapard, killed him
with, the first thrust of his burden, and, as soon as his companions
had destroyed the sixty Saracens, which was very
speedily effected, sent them home to his wife to announce the
accomplishment of his dream. Josyan made an ointment; and
Her skin that was both bright and shene
Therewith she made both yellow and grene;
and, being thus completely disguised, accompanied Saber
during near seven years, till Providence led them to the town
where Sir Bevis resided. Here her faithful guide, having discovered
his son Terry, delivered her into the arms of her husband;
and her children being sent for, she was restored to
tranquillity and happiness after her long and disastrous wanderings.
We are now summoned to the country of Ermony, which
King Inor, having lost all traces of Ascapard and Josyan, and
thinking it necessary to vent his rage on that princess's father,
had determined to lay waste with fire and sword. This news
was brought to Sir Bevis, who, sending his summons to all
the warriors whom he had formerly commanded, soon collected
a respectable army for the defence of King Ermyn, and,
putting himself at their head, together with Josyan, Saber,
( ⇒ )
and the children Guy and Mile, marched to the capital. Ermyn
was scarcely less frightened by the approach of his son-in-
law than by that of his enemy ; he threw himself on his
knees, implored forgiveness, and finally proposed to embrace
Christianity. The last article ensured him a complete reconciliation
with his son and daughter; and his subjects being
easily persuaded that the true religion was that which placed
Sir Bevis at their head, and ensured them from being plundered,
the baptism of the monarch was soon followed by that
of the whole country.
The fortune of war was not propitious to King Inor, who
was taken prisoner in the first engagement, and sent to Ermyn,
with whom it was agreed
That his ransom ben shold
Sixty hundred pounds of gold,
With four hundred beds, of silk each one,
With quiltys of gold fair begone,
Four hundred cuppys of gold fine,
And all so many of maselyn. 1
The venerable Ermyn did not long survive this good fortune.
Finding his end approaching, he sent for Guy, placed
the crown on his head, and expired. The good Saber, seeing
the family of Sir Bevis so well established, now became desirous
of visiting his wife Erne borugh, and, taking leave of
his friends, returned to England.
Guy being firmly settled on the throne of Ermony, Sir
Bevis and Josyan might have enjoyed a long interval of tranquillity,
but for the machinations of a wicked thief called
Rabone, at the court of King Inor, who, being tolerably versed
in the black art, contrived to spirit away the faithful Arundel.
This was a constant subject of regret to his disconsolate master;
but fortunately Sir Saber, being now returned to his
wife, had resumed the habit of dreaming, and found out that
something of value had been lost which, it was his business to
discover and restore. He therefore set off without hesitation
for Mounbraunt, and, arriving in his pilgrim's garb at a river
near the town, to which the horses were usually led to water,
discovered the perfidious Rabone mounted on Arundel. He
immediately addressed the thief:
1Brass. See Halliwell's Dictionary, p. 543.
"Fellow," he said, " so God me speed,
This may well be called a steed.
He is well breasted without doubt;
Good fellow, turn thee about."
And as he turned him there,
Up behind lept Sabere.
He smote to death the thief Rabone
With the end of his truncheon.
He now set off at full speed for Ermony, and, as the news
of Arundel's escape had been instantly carried to King Inor,
was shortly followed by a little army of the best-mounted
Saracens. But Josyan, who was standing on a turret, recognised
the horse at a great distance; she spread the alarm; and
Sir Bevis, putting himself at the head of a few followers, soon
rescued his friend, and cut off the heads of all his impertinent
Inor, much disturbed by this ill success, requested the
advice of his brother Bradwin, king of Syria. Bradwin observed
to him that he was a knight of great prowess; that
Bevis was not invulnerable; that the event of battles was in
the hand of Mahomet; and that he would do well to say his
prayers with great earnestness and solemnity, and then to
propose a single combat with Bevis. Inor, who was not at
all deficient in courage, took the advice, and, leading an army
into Ermony, thus addressed his adversary:
" Bevis, thou shalt understonde
Why we come into this londe.
First, thou ravished my wife,
And sithen reft my men their life.
Therefore have I taken counsayl
Between us two to hold batayl.
And if thou slay me, by Termagaunt,
I give thee the londe of Mounbraunt ;
And if I slay thee, nat forthy,1
I will thou graunt me Ermony."
These conditions were joyfully accepted; and the two combatants
rode, in the sight of their respective armies, towards
a small island encompassed by a deep and rapid river, Inor

1 The construction seems to be, " and if on the other hand I slay thee:" perhaps nat forthy is nevertheless
( ⇒ )
had the honour of disputing the victory much longer than
could have been expected, but sunk at last under the blows of
the terrible Morglay. His troops were cut off to a man;
after which Bevis, having put on the "conysaunce" or coatarmour
of his adversary, rapidly marched has army to Mounbraunt,
and, being mistaken by the garrison for their sovereign,
was admitted without hesitation. Thus was he invested
with a second empire, which he had the skill or good fortune
to reclaim from Mahometanism by the usual methods; enriching
all early proselytes to Christianity, and cutting to pieces
without mercy those who persisted in their errors.
One day, whilst Sir Bevis and Josyan were taking the
pleasures of the chase, they met a messenger dispatched to
Saber by his good old wife, to announce that Edgar, king of
England, had deprived their son Robert of all his estates, for
the purpose of enriching a wicked favourite, Sir Bryant of
Cornwall. Bevis, who had bestowed these estates on Saber,
considered such an act as a personal insult, and determined to
accompany his friend to England at the head of a formidable
army. They landed in safety at Southampton, and, marching
rapidly towards London, encamped at Putney. Here Sir
Bevis left his troops, together with Josyan, Saber, Terry, Guy,
and Mile, and, taking with him only twelve knights, repaired
to the king, whom he found at Westminster, and, falling on
his knees, humbly requested the restoration of his estates.
Edgar, always inclined to peace, would have been glad to
consent; but his steward, Sir Bryant, observed to him that Sir
Bevis was a traitor, who trained up his horses in the habit of
kicking out the brains of princes, and that he was still an outlaw,
whose death it was the duty of all good subjects to procure
by every possible device. The king, listening to this secret
enemy, gave no answer, and Sir Bevis, with his attendants,
took up their lodgings in the city to await his determination:
but scarcely were they arrived at their inn, when they heard
that a proclamation had been issued, enjoining the citizens to
shut their gates, to barricade every street, and to seize Sir
Bevis alive or dead. The knight now found it necessary to
provide for his defence. Having armed himself and his followers,
he sallied forth in hopes of forcing his way out of the
city before the measures of security should be complete; but
he immediately met the steward, Sir Bryant, at the head of
two hundred soldiers—
A stroke he set upon his crown,
That to the saddle he clave him down.
So, within a little stound,
All two hundred he slew to ground.
Thorough Goose-lane Bevis went tho;
There was him done right mickle wo!
That lane was so narrow y-wrought,
That Sir Bevis might defend him nought.
He had wunnen into his honde
Many a batayle in sundry londe;
But he was never so careful man,
For siker of sooth,1 as he was than.
When Bevis saw his men were dead,
For sorrow couthe he no rede!2
But Morglay his sword he drew,
And many he felled, and many he slew.
Many a man he slew tho,
And out he went with mickle wo!
The destruction of our hero appeared inevitable, after the
disastrous adventure of Goose-lane, where his twelve companions
were ingloriously murdered: but to Sir Bevis, when
armed with Morglay and mounted on Arundel, nothing was
wanting but a theatre sufficiently spacious for the display of
his valour; and this he found in the Cheap, or market-place.
He was beset by innumerable crowds: but Arundel, indignant
at the insolence of the plebeian assailants, by kicking on one
side and biting on another, dispersed them in all directions to
a distance of forty feet, while his master cut off the heads of
all such as were driven, by the pressure of those behind,
within reach of the terrible Morglay.
In the mean time the news of the knight's distress was
spread from mouth to mouth, and it was reported to Josyan
that he was actually dead. After swooning with terror, she
related the circumstance to her sons, and, blinded by fear,
proposed an immediate retreat. But they answered that they
were resolved to seek their father alive or dead, and, hastily
requesting her benediction, collected four thousand knights,
and departed at full speed from Putney.
1 For certain truth. 2 Could think of no counsel
Sir Guy bestrode a Rabyte,1
That was mickle, and nought light,2
That Sir Bevis in Paynim londe
Hadde i-wunnen with his honde.
A sword he took of mickle might,
That was y-cleped Aroundight,
It was Launcelot's du Lake,
Therwith he slew the fire-drake.3
The pomel was of charbocle4 stone;
(A better sword was never none,
The Romauns tellyth as I you say,
Ne none shall till Doomesday.)
And Sir Mylys there bestrid
A dromounday,5 and forth he rid.
That horse was swift as any swallow,
No man might that horse begallowe. 6
They crossed the river without opposition under cover of
the night, and, having set fire to Ludgate, which was closed
against them, forced their way into the city, and proceeded in
search of Sir Bevis. They found him untouched by any
wound, but quite exhausted by the fatigue of a battle, which
had now lasted during great part of the day and the whole of
the night. Arundel too stood motionless, bathed to his fetlocks
in blood, and surrounded by dead bodies. The day had
just dawned, and a burgher of some note, well armed and
mounted, made a blow at Sir Bevis, under which the hero
drooped to his saddle-bows; but at the same instant Sir Guy
rushed forward :
To that burgess a stroke he sent,
Thorough helm and hauberk down it went;
Both man and horse, in that stound.
He cleaved down to the ground!
His swordys point to the earth went,
That tire sprang out of the pavement.
The fatigued and disheartened Sir Bevis immediately recovered
new life at the sight of his son's valour; Arundel too
resumed his wonted vivacity; and when Sir Mile, who rivalled
1 An Arabian horse. 2 Weak. 3 Fiery dragon.
4 Carbuncle 5 A war-horse. 6 Out-gallop
his brother in gallantry, came up with the rest of the reinforcement,
the discomfiture of the assailants was soon decided.
The blood fell on that pavement
Right down to the Temple-bar it went,
As it is said in French romaunce,
Both in Yngelonde and in Fraunce.
So many men at once were never seen dead.
For the water of Thames for blood wax red;
Fro St. Mary Bowe to London Stone1,
That ilke time was housing none.
In short, sixty thousand men were slain in this battle: after
which Sir Bevis and his sons returned, crowned with victory,
to their camp at Putney.
King Edgar, alarmed by this dreadful slaughter, of which
Sir Bryant had been the sole author, and was fortunately the
first victim, convened his council, represented to them his
own wish for peace, and suggested, as the most effectual
means of obtaining it, the offer of his only daughter and
heiress to Mile, son of Bevis. The barons acceding to this
proposal, the marriage took place; and Sir Mile, in right of
his wife, was crowned king of England. Bevis, with Josyan
and his other son, repaired to Ermony, where Sir Guy resumed
the reins of government, and then continued his journey to
Mounbraunt, of which he had reserved the sovereignty to
himself. Here the amiable Josyan was seized with a mortal
disease, and expired in the arms of her husband: at the same
moment he received information that his faithful Arundel had
died suddenly in the stable; and in a few minutes the hero
himself breathed his last on the lips of his deceased wife.
Their remains were interred under the high altar of a church
erected by their subjects in honour of their memory, and
dedicated to St. Laurence, where they continue to work frequent
God on their souls have now pity,
And on Arundel his good steed,
Giff men for horse shoulden sing or read!
Thus endeth Sir Bevis of Hamptoun,
That was so noble a baroun.
1 London Stone is still preserved, and is probably the most ancient relic of that ancient city

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