Manuscripts and Special Collections

WLC/LM/38: Fragment of the Life of St Bridget (Brigid), from the ‘South English Legendary’ (composed 13th century, English)



A seruant he hadde inis hous . brocsech was hur name
Ş is duptac by soȝte hure . of lechorie and ssame
O n hure he byȝat a child . in spous bruche and wiş wou
Ş o is owe wif hit vnder ȝet . sory he was ynou
¶ M est heo dradde hure of şat child . şat hit ssolde so wel yşe
T o sormonte hure owe children . hor maister vorto be
Ş er uore heo cride on hure louerd . to boe ywar by uore
A nd sulle out of londe şe seruant ar şat child were ybore
Ş e hosebonde nolde hit grante noȝt . vor he hadde loş it do
Ş is wif cride niȝt and day . ȝyf heo myȝte hit bringe şerto
S o şat hit fel şer afterward . şat şis hosebonde
W yş his seruante alone wende . in acart ouerlonde
¶ A chantor was şulke stude . as were by olde dawe
A s our louerd hit wolde by is hous . şe cart gan euene drawe
H e sat and hurde hou şis cart . by ys gate wende
A non he clupede on of his men . and hasteliche out sende
L okeş he sede hasteliche . wat şing is şat ich yhure
V or şe son of şulke woeles . is vnder agod creature
Ş e nobloste creature . is wiş Inne şulke tre
Ş at is nouşe in eny londe . lokeş wat hit bee
¶ Ş o ne fon[de] . hy in şis cart . namo bote home to


St Bridget

Duptak had a servant-girl in his house, called Brosech, whom he desired lecherously and shamefully. He begot on her a child adulterously and sinfully. When his wife found out, she was very sorrowful. But she was most afraid of that child, in case it should thrive so well as to surpass her own children, and become their master. Therefore she begged her lord, Duptak, to take steps in advance and sell the servant out of the country, before the child was born. The husband [Duptak] refused to grant this, because he was reluctant to do it. His wife implored him day and night, in the hope that she might bring this about. So it happened later that the husband travelled alone with this servant, in a cart across country, to where there was a sorcerer, as in olden times. As our Lord would have it, the cart went past his house. He sat and listened as the cart passed his gate. He called one of his men and quickly sent him out. ‘Go and find out,’ he said quickly, ‘what is it that I can hear. For the sound of those wheels is beneath a good creature; the noblest person anywhere in the land is inside the wood. [i.e. he divines that the unborn child is inside the cart.] Find out what it is’. When he found in the cart no more but two [people] ... [the story continues: the servant told the sorcerer he had lied to him, but the sorcerer was able to see that Brosech was pregnant, and therefore that there were indeed three travellers]

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