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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).>br>Volume I. From the Beginnings to the Cycles of Romance.

XV. Pearl, Cleanness, Patience and Sir Gawayne

§ 8. Huchoun of the Awle Ryale

Some seventy years ago, Guest, the historian of English rhythms, set up a claim for the poet Huchoun of the Awle Ryale, to whom Andrew of Wyntoun refers in his Orygynale Cronykil.

Guest regarded as the most decisive proof of his theory the fact that, at the void space at the head of Sir Gawayne and the Grene Knight in the MS., a hand of the fifteenth century has scribbled the name Hugo de; but little can be inferred from this piece of evidence; while the lines by Wyntoun tend to connect the author with a set of poems differentiated linguistically and in technique from the poems in the Cotton MS. But this is not the place to enter into a discussion of the various problems connected with the identity of Huchoun: it is only necessary here to state that, in the opinion of the writer, the view which would make Huchoun the author of Pearl, Gawayne and the Grene Knight, Cleanness and Patience is against the weight of evidence. By the same evidence as that adduced to establish Huchoun’s authorship of these poems, various other alliterative poems are similarly assigned to him, namely, The Wars of Alexander, The Destruction of Troy, Titus and Vespasian, The Parliament of the Three Ages, Wynnere and Wastoure, Erkenwald and the alliterative riming poem Golagros and Gawain.

According to this view, The Parliament of the Three Ages belongs to the close of the poet’s career, for it is supposed to sum up his past course through all his themes—through Alexander, Troy, Titus and Morte Arthure. But this theory that, on the basis of parallel passages, would make Huchoun the official father of all these poems, in addition to those which may be legitimately assigned to him on the evidence of Wyntoun’s lines, fails to recognise that the author of The Parliament of the Three Ages, far from being saturated with the Troy Book and the Alexander romances, actually confuses Jason, or Joshua, the high priest who welcomed Alexander, with Jason who won the golden fleece.

Probably the work of four or five alliterative poets comes under consideration in dealing with the problem at issue. To one poet may, perhaps, safely be assigned the two poems The Parliament of the Three Ages and Wynnere and Wastoure, the latter from internal evidence one of the oldest poems of the fourteenth century, and to be dated about 1351: it is a precursor of The Vision of Piers Plowman. The former poem recalls the poet of Gawayne, more especially in its elaborate description of deer-stalking, a parallel picture to the description of the hunting of the deer, the boar and the fox, in Gawayne.