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since. The museums of the Cokeltops of former days were nothing without their dragon, and as the rage for collecting increased, the market was supplied with some monster more hideous than the last purchase, and well worthy of a place on the standard of the Brother of the Sun and Moon. Of course every collector's dragon was the real Simon Pure, and above all suspicion. Tradescant's museum (1656) boasted of Two feathers of the Phænix tayle,” and “ A natural dragon above two inches long.

In the early literature of our own country, especially in the ancient ballad and broadside, dragons shot forth in all their glory, only to be eclipsed by the valour of our champions. Nobody was anybody in the old chivalry days who had not slain his dragon.

One of the oldest, if not the oldest of these poetical legends, well known in Chaucer's time, was that which set forth the deeds of “Syr Bevis of Hampton.” The following is the description of the dragon in that canticle:

Whan the dragon, that foule is,
Had a syght of Syr Bevis,
He cast up a loude cry,
As it had thundred in the sky;
He turned his body towarde the son ;
It was greater than any tonne;
His scales were brighter than the glas,
And harder they were than any bras :
Betweene his shoulder and his tayle,
Was forty fote without fayle.
He waltred out of his den,
And Bevis pricked his stede then,
And to him a spere he thraste
That all to shyvers he it braste:
The dragon then gan Bevis assayle,
And smote Syr Bevis with his tayle ;
Then downe went horse and man,
And two rybbes of Bevis brused than.

The fight was long and fearful :

There was a well, so have I wynne,
And Bevis stumbled right therein.
Than was he glad without fayle,
And rested awhile for his avayle;
And dranke of that water his fyll ;
And then he lepte out with good wyll,
And with Morglaye his brande,
He assayled the dragon, I understande:
On the dragon he smote so faste,
Where that he hit the scales braste:

The dragon then fainted sore,
And cast a galon and more
Out of his mouthe of venom strong,
And on Syr Bevis he it flong:

It was venomous y-wis. This well gave Syr Bevis the victory; for, whenever he was hurt sore, he went to the well, washed, and came forth

as hole as any man,
Ever freshe as when he began :
The dragon saw it might not avayle
Beside the well to hold batayle;
He thought he would with some wyle,
Out of that place Bevis begyle ;
He would have flowen then away,
But Bevis lept after with good Morglaye,
And hit him under the wynge,
As he was in his flyenge,
There he was tender without scale,
And Bevis thought to be his bale.
He smote after, as I you saye,
With his good sword Morglaye.
Up to the hiltes Morglaye yode
Through harte, liver, bone, and bloude:
To the ground fell the dragon,
Great joye Syr Bevis begon.
Under the scales all on hight

He smote off his head forth right. This, as the Bishop of Dromore remarks, is evidently the parent of the dragon in the “ Seven Champions,” slain by St. George, as any one may satisfy himself by comparing the two descriptions. Nor is it uninteresting to turn from the dragon of the old romance to that in Spenser's “ Faery Queen,” with its “wyngeslike sayls, cruel-rending clawes, yron teeth, and breath of smothering smoke and sulphur;” and then to that most striking passage in the “Pilgrim's Progress,” descriptive of the battle between Christian and Apollyon, who spake like a Dragon, and when at last, says Bunyan in his dream, Christian gave him a deadly thrust, “ spread forth his dragon's wings, and sped him away that I saw him no more.

Sir Guy of Warwick had slain more than one dragon in his time. Read his own account of the feats.

I went into the souldan's hoast,

Being thither on embassage sent,
And brought his head away with mee,

I having slain him in his tent.
There was a dragon in that land

Most fiercelye mett me by the way

As hee a lyon did pursue,

Which I myself did alsoe slay. When he came home he did greater actions ; for, in addition to killing the dun cow, he demolished a monstrous bore—what a

d-send a Sir Guy would be at the clubs !-and sent him to Coventry :

But first, near Winsor, I did slaye

A bore of passing might and strength;
Whose like in England never was

For hugeness both in bredth in length.
Some of his bones in Warwicke yet,

Within the castle there doe lye:
One of his shield-bones to this day,

Hangs in the city of Coventrye.
Then again :

A dragon in Northumberland,

I also did in fight destroye,
Which did both man and beaste oppresse,

And all the countrye sore annoye.

This dragon is thus portrayed in the old metrical romance:

A messenger came to the king,
Syr king, he said, lysten me now,
For bad tydinges I bring you,
In Northumberlande there is no man,
But that they be slayne everychone:
For there dare no man route,
By twenty mile rounde aboute,
For doubt of a fowle dragon
That sleathe men and beastes downe.
He is black as any cole,
Rugged as a rough fole:
His body from the navill upwarde
No man may it pierce it is so harde;
His neck is great as any summere ;*
He runneth as swift as any distrere ;t
Pawes he hath as a lyon :
All that he toucheth, he sleath dead downe.
Great winges he hath to flight,
There is no man that bare him might.
There may no man fight him agayne,
But that he sleath him certayne:
For a fowler beast then is he,
Ywis of none ever heard ye.

* A sumpter horse.
+ The horse ridden by a knight in the tournament.

In the ballad of " Guy and Amarant,” Sir Guy alludes to his former victories when he says to the thirsty giant,

Goe drinke thy last,
Go pledge the dragon and the savage bore;
Succeed the tragedyes that they have past.

But never think to drinke cold water more;
Drinke deepe to Death, and unto him carouse ;

Bid him receive thee in his earthen house.
Nor was this any vain boast : for Guy dealt this pagan,

A blowe that brought him with a vengeance downe.
Then Guy sett foot upon the monster's brest,

And from his shoulders did his head divide,
Which with a yawninge mouth did gape unblest,

Noe dragon's jawes were ever seene so wide
To open and to shut, till life was spent,

Then Guy tooke keyes and to the castle went. The giant's miserable captives are then delivered, and among them some “ tender ladyes, who

had noe other dyett every day, Than flesh of human creatures for their food. It was hard that one who thus went about doing good, should have met with so ill a reward : all these brilliant actions could not save poor Sir Guy from being crossed in love, nor from the tragic end which the reader will find, if so disposed, recorded in his “ Legend.” St. George's dragon was eminently pestiferous

Against the Sarazens so rude,

Fought he full long and many a day;
Where many gyants he subdu'd,

In honour of the Christian way:
And after many adventures past,
To Egypt land he came at last.
Now, as the story plain doth tell,

Within that country there did rest
A dreadfull dragon fierce and fell,

Whereby they were full sore opprest :
Who by his poisonous breath each day,
Did many of the city slay.
The dragon's breath infects their blood,

That every day in heaps they dye;
Among them such a plague is bred,

The living scarce could bury the dead. The rest of this legend is so well known, that it would be need. lessly occupying space to dwell further upon the subject of it.




We would only observe that the dragon's poisonous breath did the principal mischief.

But the time was at hand when the coup de grace was to be given to these dragon tragedies by the comic verse, showing how

More of More Hall, with nothing at all,

He slew the dragon of Wantley. This clever performance was, as has been well observed, to the old metrical romaunts and ballads of chivalry what Don Quixote was to prose narratives of the same kind; and whether the witty author made his dragon out of a bloated Yorkshire attorney who had stripped three orphans of their inheritance, and had become intolerable by his encroachments and rapacity till a neighbouring gentleman took up the cause of the oppressed, went to law with him, and broke his hard heart; or some other passages in local history are therein alluded to, no dragon could be brought before the public thereafter without ridicule.

Thus much for the fabulous part of our subject, as far as it regards terrestrial dragons. We constantly find allusions to the malaria that surrounded these monsters and their localities. It is not unworthy of remark, that the crass air which the real extinct dragons breathed, would, as has been satisfactorily established, have been fatal to man if he had then been upon the earth which now holds their remains. That earth is one vast grave of cities, of nations, of creations.

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