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In addition to this internal evidence, we have the distinct statement of John Leland, in Vlll the reign of Henry VIII, that he had in his hands " an olde French historie yn rime of the actes of the Guarines"; and his brief notice of it answers so exactly to the story as told in our prose ver- sion, that we can have no doubt of its having been the identical poem from which the para- phrase was made.
Thus, from the date of the manuscript of the existing paraphrase in prose, we may fairly con- clude that the original Anglo-Norman poem was composed before the end of the thirteenth century.
THERE had lain long concealed in a manuscript in the ancient Royal Library, now in the British Museum (MS. I., usque ad regem Johannem : Gallice ; Ubi plura sunt fata, pr&cipue de Fulcone quodam ; and it was not till about twenty years ago, when the then new movement in his- torical research caused such manuscripts to be more carefully examined, that the real character and interest of this record were discovered. The manuscript is in a hand of the reign of Edward II, and I think there can be little doubt that it was written before the year 1320 ; but it is evidently not the original text of the story, but a paraphrase I VI of an earlier record. xii), a narrative which appears to have escaped attention partly through the indefinite manner in which it was described in the catalogue : Historia rerum Anglicarum, a W. E si vus dorray Blanche-Tour, Vll E quanque apent ou tut Fonour; Quar femme que ad terre en fee Serra d'assez plus desiree. If, for example, the reader will turn to the lower part of p. 18, he will easily see that the original metres must have run somewhat as follows : Willam, quant ce oy surrit, Bele nece, bien avez dit; E de mon poer vus ayderay De tel seignur purchacer. But in several other places the original verse betrays itself in the midst of the paraphrase.
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In two in- stances, where he has given prophecies of Mer- lin, the words of the original poem remain so uncorrupted, that I have thought it right to print both passages in verse.