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evidently betray their original. “ As the bysshop lange mafie “ in the cyte of Ufanance, he saw thre dropes ryghte clere all “ of one gratenesse whiche were upon the aulter, and al thre “ ranne to gyder in to a precyous gemme: and whan they had « set thys gemme in a crosse of golde, al the other
precyous " stones that were there, fyllend out, and thys gemme was clere " to them that were clene out of synne, and it was obscure and “ darke to synners, &c.” The peculiar cast of romantic invention was admirably suited to serve the purposes of superstition.
Possevin, a learned Jesuit, who wrote about the close of the sixteenth century, complains, that for the last five hundred
years the courts of all the princes in Europe had been infatuated by reading romances : and that, in his time, it was a mark of inelegance, not to be familiarly acquainted with Lancelot du Lake, Perceforest, Tristan, Giron the Courteous, Amadis de Gaul, Primaleon, Boccace's Decameron, and Ariosto. He even goes fo far as to say, that the devil instigated Luther to procure a translation of Amadis from Spanish into French, for the purpose of facilitating his grand scheme of overthrowing the catholic religion. The popularity of this book, he adds, warped the minds of the French nation from their antient notions and studies introduced a neglect of the scriptures, and propagated a love for astrology, and other fantastic arts'. But with the leave of this zealous catholic I would observe, that this sort of reading was likely to produce, if any, an effect quite contrary. The genius of romance and of popery was the same; and both were strengthened by the reciprocation of a similar fpirit of credulity. The dragons and the castles of the one, were of a piece with the visions and pretended miracles of the other. The ridiculous theories of false and unsolid science, which, by the way, had been familiarised to the French by other romances, long before the translation of Amadis, were surely more likely to be advanced under the influence of a religion founded on
d Fell out.
f Biblioth. SELECT. Lib. i. cap. 25. P. 113. edit. 1593
deception, than in consequence of Luther's reformed system, which aimed at purity and truth, and which was to gain its end by the suppression of antient prejudices.
Many of the absurdities of the catholic worship were perhaps, as I have hinted, in some degree necessary in the early ages of the church, on account of the ignorance of the people ; at least, under such circumstances they were natural, and therefore excusable. But when the world became wiser, those mummeries should have been abolished, for the same reason that the preachers left off quoting Esop's fables in their sermons, and the ftage ceased to instruct the people in the scripture-history by the reprefentation of the Mysteries, The advocates of the
pa. pal communion do not consider, that in a cultivated age,
abounding with every species of knowledge, they continue to retain those fooleries which were calculated only for christians in a condition of barbarism, and of which the use now no longer subsists.
CHAP. xix. When Julius Cesar was preparing to pass the Rubicon, a gigantic spectre appeared from the middle of the river, threatening to interrupt his passage, if he came not to establish the peace of Rome. Our author çites the Gesta ROMANORUM for this story,
It was impossible that the Roman history could pass through the dark ages, without being infected with many romantic corruptions. Indeed, the Roman was almost the only antient history, which the readers of those ages knew : and what related even to pagan Rome, the parent of the more modern papal metropolis of christianity, was regarded with a superstitious veneration, and often magnified with miraculous additions,
CHAP. xx. The birth of the emperor Henry, son of earl Leopold, and his wonderful preservation from the stratagems of the emperor Conrade, till his accession to the imperial throne.
This story is told by Caxton in the GOLDEN LEgende, under the life of Pelagian the pope, entitled, Here foloweth the lyf of Sayrt Pelag yen the pope, with many other byftoryes and VOL. III.
gestys of the Lombardes, and of Machomete, with other cronycles . The Gesta LONGOBARDOR UM are fertile in legendary matter, and furnished Jacobus de Voragine, Caxton's original, with many marvellous histories “. Caxton, from the gestes of the Lombardis, gives a wonderful account of a pestilence in Italy, under the reign of king Gilbert '.
There is a LEGENDA SANCTORUM, sive HISTORIA LOMBARDICA, printed in 1483. This very uncommon book is not mentioned by Maittaire. It has this colophon. “ ciunt quorundam Sanctorum Legende adjuncte post Lom« bardicam historiam. Impressa Argentine, M.cccc.LXXXIII". That is, the latter part of the book contains a few Saints not in the history of the Lombards, which forms the first part. I have neither time nor inclination to examine whether this is Jacobus's LEGENDA: but I believe it to be the same. I think I have seen an older edition of the work, at Cologne 1470 '.
I have observed that Caxton's GOLDEN LEGENDE is taken from Jacobus de Voragine. This perhaps is not precisely true. Caxton informs us in his first preface to the first edition of 1483", that he had in his poffeffion a Legend in French, another in Latin, and a third in English, which varied' from the other two in many places : and that MANY HISTORIES were contained in the English collection, which did not occur in the French and Latin. Therefore, says he, “ I have wryton One “ OUTE of the fayd three bookes: which I have orderyd other“ wyse than in the fayd Englyssbe Legende, which was so to 66 fore made.” Caxton's English original might have been the old METRICAL LIVES OF THE SAINTS.
CHAP. xxi. A story from Justin, concerning a conspiracy of the Spartans against their king.
quæ et LOMBARDICA dicitur.” Lugd.
& Fol. ccclxxxxvii, b.
m Fol. at Westminster. This is one of the finest of Caxton's publications.
CHAP. xxii. How the Egyptians deified Isis and Osiris. From faint Austin. As is the following chapter.
CHAP. xxiv, Of a magician and his delicious garden, which he shews only to fools and to his enemies.
CHAP. xxv. Of a lady who keeps the staff and scrip of a stranger, who rescued her from the oppressions of a tyrant: but being afterwards courted by three kings, the destroys those memorials of her greatest benefactor.
CHAP. xxvi. An emperor, visiting the holy land, commits his daughter and his favorite dog, who is very fierce, to the custody of five knights, under the superintendance of his seneshall. The seneshall neglects his charge : the knights are obliged to quit their post for want of necessaries; and the dog, being fed with the provisions assigned to the knights, grows fiercer, breaks his three chains, and kills the lady who was permitted to wander at large in her father's hall. When the emperor returns, the seneshall is thrown into a burning furnace.
CHAP. xxviii. The old woman and her little dog.
CHAP. xxx. The three honours and three dishonours, decreed by a certain king to every conqueror returning from war.
CHAP. xxxi. The speeches of the philosophers on seeing king Alexander's golden sepulchre.
CHAP. xxxiii. A man had three trees in his garden, on which his three wives successively hanged themselves. Another begs an offset from each of the trees, to be planted in the gardens of his married neighbours. From Valerius Maximus, who is cited.
CHAP. xxxiv. Aristotle's seven rules to his pupil Alexander.
This, I think, is from the SECRETA SECRETORUM. Arif totle, for two reasons, was a popular character in the dark ages. He was the father of their philosophy: and had been the preceptor of Alexander the Great, one of the principal heroes of
Nor was Aristotle himself without his romantic history; in which he falls in love with a queen of Greece, who quickly confutes his subtlest fyllogisms.
CHAP. xxxv. The Gesta ROMANORUM cited, for the custom among the antient Romans of killing a lamb for pacifying quarrels.
CHAP. xxxvi. Of a king whọ desires to know the nature of man, Solinus, de MIRABILIBUS MUNDI, is here quoted.
CHAP. xxxvii. Pliny's account of the stone which the eagle places in her nest, to avoid the poison of a serpent.
CHAP. xxxix. Julius Cesar's mediation between two brothers. From the Gesta ROMANORUM.
We must not forget, that there was the Romance of JULIUS CESAR. And I believe Antony and Cleopatra were more known characters in the dark ages, than is commonly supposed. Shakespeare is thought to have formed his play on this story from North's translation of Amyot's unauthentic French Plutarch, published at London in 1579. Montfaucon, among the manuscripts of monsieur Lancelot, recites an old piece written about the year 1500, “ LA VIE ET FAIS DE MARC ANTOINE « le triumvir et de sa mie CLEOPATRA, translatè de l'historien
Plutarque pour tres illustre haute et puissante dame Madame
Françoise de Fouez Dame de Châteaubriand 1.". I know not whether this piece was ever printed. At least it fhews, that the story was familiar at a more early period than is imagined ; and leads us to sufpe, that there might have been other materials used by Shakespeare on this subject, than those hitherto pointed out by his commentators.
That Amyot's French version of Plutarch should contain corruptions and innovations, will easily be conceived, when it is remembered that he probably translated from an old Italian versiono. A new exhibition in English of the French carica