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eat poison. Sir John Maundeville's - Travels, I believe, will afford other instances.
CHAP. xii. A profligate priest, in the reign of the emperor Otto, or Otho, walking in the fields, and neglecting to say mass, is reformed by a vision of a comely old man.
CHAP. xiii. An empress having lost her husband, becomes so doatingly fond of her only son, then three years of age, as not to bear his absence for a moment. They sleep together every night, and when he was eighteen years of
age, The proves with child by him. She murthers the infant, and her left hand is immediately marked with four circles of blood. Her repentance is related, in consequence of a vision of the holy virgin.
This story is in the SPECULUM HISTORIALE of Vincent of Beauvais, who wrote about the year 1250”.
CHAP. xiv. Under the reign of the emperor Dorotheus, a remarkable example of the filial piety of a young man, who redeems his father, a knight, from captivity.
CHAP. xv. Eufemian, a nobleman in the court of the emperor of Rome, is attended by three thousand servants girt with golden belts, and cloathed in silken vestments. His house was crouded with pilgrims, orphans, and widows, for whom three tables were kept every day. He has a son, Allexius; who quits his father's palace, and lives unknown seventeen years in a monastery in Syria. He then returns, and lives seventeen years undiscovered as a pilgrim in his father's family, where he suffers many indignities from the servants:
Allexius, or Alexis, was canonised. This story is taken from his Legend". In the metrical Lives of the Saints, his life is told in a sort of measure different from that of the rest, and not very common in the earlier stages of our poetry. It begins thus.
Lefteneth alle and herkeneth me,
2 Lib. vii. cap. 93. feq. f. 86. b. edit. • See Caxton, GOLD. Leg. f. ccclxiii. Ven.
b. b 2
And ich zow telle fone,
Y born he was in Rome.
In Rome was a dozty man
Man of moche myzte;
And swith wel it dyzte.
When Alexius returns home in disguise, and asks his father about his son, the father's feelings are thus described.
So fone fo he spake of his sone,
Gan to fike fore ;
On her berd hore.
At his burial, many miracles are wrought on the sick.
With mochel fizt', and mochel song,
Bischoppis to cherche bere.
The blinde come to håre i sizt,
And that halwe o also,
The day zede and drouz to nyzt,
To cherche they moste wende ;
Everich in his ende'.
Tho the corse to cherche com
That there ycure wer,
Ther sette they the bere.
Aboute the bere was moche lizt
I beten al with golde'.
The history of Saint Alexius is told entirely in the fame words in the GESTA ROMANORUM, and in the LEGENDA AUREA of Jacobus de Voragine', translated, through a French medium, by Caxton. This work of Jacobus does not consist
1 At his feat in the choir.
• MSS. Coll. Trin. Oxon. Cod. 57. supr, citat.
* HYSTOR. Ixxxix. f. clviii. edit. 1479. fol. And in Vincent of Beauvais, who quotes Gesta ALLEXII, Specul. Hist. Lib. xviii. cap. 43. seq. £. 246. b.
solely of the legends of the saints, but is interspersed with multis aliis pulcherrimis et peregrinis bistoriïs, with many other most beautiful and strange histories '.
CHAP. xvi. A Roman emperor in digging for the foundation of a new palace, finds a golden sarcophagus, or coffin, inscribed with mysterious words and sentences. Which being explained, prove to be so many moral lessons of instruction for the emperor's future conduct.
CHAP. xvii. A poor man named Guido, engages to serve an emperor of Rome in fix several capacities, or employments. One of these services is, to shew the best way to the holy land. Acquitting himself in all with singular address and fidelity, he is made a knight, and loaded with riches.
CHAP. xviii. A knight named Julian is hunting a stag, who turns and says, you will kill your father and mother.” On this he went into a distant country, where he married a rich Lady of a castle. Julian's father and mother travelled into various lands to find their son, and at length accidentally came to this castle, in his absence; where telling their story to the lady, who had heard it from her husband, she discovered who they were, and gave them her own bed to sleep in. Early in the morning, while she was at mass in the chapel, her husband Julian unexpectedly returned; and entering his wife's chamber, perceived two persons in the bed, whom he immediately flew with his sword, hastily supposing them to be his wife and her adulterer. At leaving the chamber, he met his wife coming from the chapel; and with great astonishment asked her, who the persons were fleeping in her bed? She answered, “ They are your “ parents, who have been seeking you so long, and whom I “ have honoured with a place in our own bed.” Afterwards they founded a sumptuous hospital for the accommodation of travellers, on the banks of a dangerous river.
This story is told in Caxton's GOLDEN LEGENDE ", and in
* In the Colophon.
Fol. go, edit. 1493.
the metrical Lives of the Saints". Hence Julian, or Saint Julian, was called hospitator, or the gode herberjour ; and the Pater Nofter became famous, which he used to say for the souls of his father and mother whom he had thus unfortunately killed *. The peculiar excellencies of this prayer are displayed by Boccacey. Chaucer speaking of the hospitable disposition of his FRANKELEIN, says,
Saint Julian he was in his own countre ?.
This history is, like the lafi, related by our compiler, in the words of Julian's Legend, as it stands in Jacobus de Voragine *. Bollandus has inserted Antoninus's account of this saint, which appears also to be literally the same. It is told, yet not exactly in the same words, by Vincent of Beauvais .
I take this opportunity of observing, that the Legends of the the Saints, so frequently referred to in the Gesta ROMANORUM, often contain high strokes of fancy, both in the structure and decorations of the story. That they should abound in extravagant conceptions, may be partly accounted for, from the superstitious and visionary cast of the writer: but the truth is, they derive this complexion from the east. Some were originally forged by monks of the Greek church, to whom the oriental fictions and mode of fabling were familiar. The more early of the Latin lives were carried over to Constantinople, where they were translated into Greek with new embellishments of eastern imagination. These being returned into Europe, were translated into Latin, where they naturally superseded the old Latin archetypes. Others of the Latin lives contracted this tincture, from being written after the Arabian literature became common in Europe. The following ideas in the Life of Saint Pelagian
MSS. BODL. 1596. f. 4. 1 Ibid. ✓ Decam. D. ii. N. 2.
PROL. V. 342. See supr. vol. i. Sect. xvii. p. 438.
a Hystor. xxxii. f. lxii. a,
• Act. Sanctor. tom. ii. JANUAR. p. 974. Antv. 1643.
Ć Specul. Hist. Lib, ix. c. 115. f. 115. Venet. 1591.