NOTES AND QUERIES.
ix. JUNE 7, 1902.
pretend to regard that which is the highest degree of some quality as its lowest, and therefore substitute only for even. Irony is everywhere the same, and for this reason the development may have been identical in English, German, and French, for " es ist nur zu wahr " and " il n'est que trop vrai " are quite as common idioms as " it is only too true." With this I do not intend to imply that all the three invented this turn of speech independently ; I am convinced, on the con- trary, that one of them has the priority but which ? Continual borrowings nave been going on between the different nations of culture. Whether the solution offered holds good I am uncertain, but my sincere thanks are due to DR. MURRAY for having set me thinking. G. KRUEGER.
PORTRAITS OF EARLY LORD MAYORS (9 th S. viii. 485 ; xi. 173, 232, 412). I should have written Bletchingley, not Bletchington.
J. T. PAGE.
West Haddon, Northamptonshire.
BRIGHTWALTON (9 th S. ix. 349). Possibly the information required might be obtained from Mr. T. Wareing, who published a paper on the brasses in Brightwalton Church in the Monumental Brass Society's Transactions, vol. ii., 1899. EVERARD HOME COLEMAN.
NOTES ON BOOKS, &c.
Cuchulain of Muirthemne : the Story of the Men of the Red Branch of Ulster. Arranged and put into English by Lady Gregory. (Murray.) THIS rendering by Lady Gregory of the Cuchullin saga is likely to do more to popularize these im- pressive legends among English readers than any treatment previously accorded them. The best- known translation is that executed by various scholars, edited by Miss Eleanor Hull, and issued by Mr. Nutt in 1898 as the eighth volume of the "Grimm Library" (see 9 th S. iv. 138). To this scholars will still turn. For the general reader, however, Lady Gregory's work, which is convertec into what may be called colloquial Irish that is English as familiarly spoken by Irish lips offers singular attractions. We are almost disposed t( echo Mr. W. B. Yeats, who thus opens his eulogistic but critical and discriminating preface : "I think this book is the best that has come out of Irelanc in my time. Perhaps I should say that it is th< best book that has ever come out of Ireland, fo: the stories which it tells are a chief part o Ireland's gift to the imagination of the world am it tells them perfectly for the first time." There i about these narratives in their present form a great if not easily definable charm. No attempt is mad now, as in previous renderings, to depict thing such as the means by which Cuchullin at th outset of his career finds his modesty subject t(
o severe a strain by the unpardonable proceedings f the women of Emain. For a full account of such hings one must turn to a scholarly rather than a )opular work. None the less, the description
- enerally of the women, and their influence in
tirring up strife, is admirable. No chapter is nore interesting or better in any respect than that f the ' War of Words of the Women of Ulster,' >rought about by the malicious representations of 3ricriu. We are reminded of the yauntings of ["amburlaine when we read the boasting of these adies. Emer, the wife of Cuchullin, "spoke, and t is what she said : ' There is no woman comes up o me in appearance, in shape, in wisdom ; there s no one comes up to me for goodness of form, or tightness of eye, or good sense, or kindness, or jood behaviour. No one has the joy of loving or the strength of loving that I have ; all Ulster desires me ; surely I am a nut of the heart. If 1 were a light woman, there would not be a husband left to any of you to-morrow.' " The sad fate of Deirdre, the Irish Juliet, and her lover Naoise is delightfully narrated. Here is the picture of Deirdre when she is fourteen, the age of Juliet : " And Deirdre grew straight and clean like a rush on the bog, and she was comely beyond comparison of all the women of the world, and her movements were like the swan on the wave, or the deer on the hill. She was the young girl of the greatest beauty and of the gentlest nature of all the women of Ireland." Her wail over Alban, when " she cried pitifully, wearily, and tore her fair liair," is one of the most touching things in fiction, and her suicide after the slaughter of the sons of Usnach is harrowing. It is interesting to folk- lorists to hear how Fingan, the Druid physician of Conchubar, could tell what a person's sickness was by looking at the smoke of the house he was in, and knew also by looking at a wound what sort of person 2 ave it. Very spirited is the description of the great combat for the bull of Cuailgne. For days Cuchullin, single-handed, except for his charioteer, defends Ulster against the men of Connaught, executing deeds unparalleled except among the feats of the Paladins of Charlemagne, as told in ' La Legende des Siecles.' Knowledge of the great Irish saga is confined in England to com- paratively few. It should now be widely extended. The description of feastings and slaughter is apt to become monotonous. This is as true of Homer as it is of Irish or Scandinavian bards. The fights in Cuchullin are, however, varied as well as spirited, and the atmosphere of the work in its latest form is enchanting.
Huchown of the Aide Ryale, the Alliterative Poet.
By George Neilson. (Glasgow, MacLehose &
ONE of the keenest, most assiduous, and most erudite of Scottish antiquaries, Mr. Neilson has undertaken, and in part accomplished, the solution of many problems of national importance. His latest endeavour has been to prove the identity of Huchown of the " Awle Ryale" with Sir Hew of Eglinton, a Justiciar of Scotland, the holder of many important offices, and the husband of the half-sister of Robert the Steward, afterwards King Robert II. In addition he has sought to settle what are the works of Huchown which establish him as one of the foremost of alliterative poets. On both points great diversity of opinion exists, and very varying conclusions have been put forward by men of acknowledged position and reputation.