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II.

ON THE DEATH OF K. EDWARD

THE FIRST.

We have here on early attempt at Elegy. EDWARD I. died July 7. 1307, in the 35th year of his reign, and 6th of his age. This poem appears to have been composed soon after his death. According to the modes of thinking peculiar to those times, the writer devells more upon his devotion, than his skill in government, and pays less attention to the martial and political abilities of this great monarch, in which he had no equal, than to Yome little weaknesses of fuperftition, which he had in common with all his cotemporaries. The king had in the decline of life vowed an expedition to the holy land, but finding his end approach, he dedicated the sum of 32,000l. to the maintenance of a large body of knights (140 say historians, 80 says our poet,) who were io carry his heart with them into Palestine. This dying command of the king was never performed. Our poet with the honeft prejudices of an Englishman, attributes this failure

to the advice of the king of France, whose daughter Isabel dutos young monarch, immediately married. But the truib is,

Edward and his destructive favourite Piers Gavefon spent the

money upon their pleasures. To do the greater honour to the memory of bis heroe, our poet puts his eloge in the mouth of the Pope ; with the same poetic licence, as a more modern bard would have introduced Britannia, or the Gea nius of Europe pouring forth his praises.

This antique Elegy is extracted from the fame MS. volume, as the preceding article ; is found with the same pe

culiarities

(the

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ANCIENT PO E M S.

7

culiarities of writing and orthography; and thor written at near the distance of half a century contains little or no variation of idiom : whereas the next following poem by Chaucer, whic

was probably written not more than 50 or 60 years after this, exhibits almost a new language. This seems to countenance the opinion of some antiquaries, that this great poet made considerable innovations in his mother tongue, and introduced many terins, and new modes of speech from other languages.

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of Januf person, who was to preside over tbiq business. Ver. 33. Tunne. MS. 1 Ver. 35. kyng Edward. MS.

Ver. 43. ys is probably a contraction of in hys or ya his.

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