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In the thrydde korner wyth grete honour

As love was hem betwene,
For they loved wyth honour,
Portrayed they wer with trewe loveflour,

With stones bryzht and thene.-
In the fourth korner was oon
Of Babylone the fowdans sonn,

The amerayles dowzter hym by :
For hys fake the cloth was wrowght,
She loved hym in hert and thowght,

As testymoyneth thys storye.
The fayr mayden her byforn,
Was portrayed an unikorn,

Wyth hys horn so hye ;
Flowres and bryddes on ylka fyde,
Wyth stones that wer sowght wyde,

Stuffed wyth ymagerye.
When the cloth to ende was wrowght,
To the Sowdan soned hyt was browzt,

That semely was of fyzte;
My fadyr was a nobyll man,
Of the Sowdan he hyt wan

Wyth maystrye and wyth myzte .
Chaucer says in the RoMAUNT of the Rose, that Ri-
CHESSE wore a robe of purple, which,

Ful wele
With orfraies laid was everie dele,

b Third. ļ See what I have said of their romance above, vol. i. p. 351. A manuscript copy of it in French metre was destroyed in the fire which happened in the Cotton Library. Boccace has the adventures of Florio and BIANCOFLORE, in his Phi. LOCOPO. Floris and BLANCAFLOR are

Vol. III.

mentioned as illustrious lovers by Matfres Eymegau de Bezers, a bard of Languedoc, in his BREVIARI D'AMOR, dated in the year 1288. MSS. Reg. 19 C. i. fol. 199. See Tyrwhitt's CHAUCER, vol. iv. p. 169.

d Soldan's son.

e MSS. Cott. (ut supr.) CALIG. A: 2. fol. 69. ver, 8o. feq. 1


And purtraied in the ribaninges

And, in the original,

Portraictes y furent d'orfroys
Hystoryes d'empereurs et roys .

CHAP. clxxix. Cesarius, faint Bafil, the Gospel, Boethius, and Ovid, are quoted to shew the detestable guilt of gluttony and ebriety.

Cesarius, I suppose, is a Cistercian monk of the thirteenth century; who, beside voluminous Lives, Chronicles, and Homilies, wrote twelve Books on the Miracles, Vifions, and Examples, of his own age. But there is another and an older monkish writer of the same name. In the British Museum, there is a narrative taken from Cefarius, in old northern English, of a lady deceived by the fiends, or the devil, through the pride of rich clothing".

Chap. clxxx. Paul, the historian of the Longobards, is cited, for the fidelity of the knight Onulphus.

CHAP. clxxxi. The fagacity of a lion.
This is the last chapter in the edition of 1488.

Manuscript copies of the Gesta ROMANORUM are very numerous.

A proof of the popularity of the work. There are two in the British Museum ; which, I think, contain, each one hundred and two chapters k. But although the printed. copies have one hundred and eighty-one stories or chapters, there are many in the manuscripts which do not appear in the editions. The story of the CASKETTs, one of the principal incidents in Shakespeare's MERCHANT OF Venice, is in one of the manuscripts of the Museum'. This story, however, is in

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1 Viz. CHAP. xcix. fol. 78. b. MSS. HARL. 2270. In the CLERICALIS DışCIPLINA of Alphonsus, there is a narrative of a king who kept a FABULATOR, or story-teller, to lull him to fleep every

an old English translation printed by Wynkyn de Worde, without date; from which, or more probably from another edition printed in 1577; and entitled A RECORD OF Ancient HysTORYes in Latin GESTA ROMANORUM, corrected and bettered, Shakespeare borrowed it. The story of the Bond in the same play, which Shakespeare perhaps took from a translation of the Pecorone of Ser Florentino Giovanni ", makes the fortyeighth chapter of the last-mentioned manuscript". Giovanni flourished about the year 1378°. The tale of Gower's FloRENT P, which resembles Chaucer's WIFE OF BATH, occurs in some of the manuscripts of this work. The same may be said of a tale by Occleve, never printed; concerning the chaste consort of the emperor Gerelaus, who is abused by his steward, in his absence. This is the first stanza. A larger specimen shall appear in its place.

In Roman Actis writen is thus,
Somtime an emperour in the citee
Of Rome regned, clept Gerelaus,
Wich his noble astate and his dignite
Governed wisely, and weddid had he
The douztir of the kyng of Vngrye,

A faire lady to every mannes ye.
At the end is the MORALISATION in prose ?.

night. The king on some occasion being seized with an unusual disquietude of mind, ordered his FABULATOR to tell him longer stories, for that otherwise he could not fall asleep. The FABULATOR begins a longer story, but in the midft falls asleep himself, &c. I think I have seen this tale in some manuscript of the Gesta ROMANORUM.

m Giorn. iv. Nov. 5. In Vincent of Beauvais, there is a story of a bond between a Christian and a Jew; in which the former uses a deception which occafions the conversion of the latter. Hist. SPECUL. fol. 181. a. edit. ut fupr. Jews, yet under heavy reftri&tions, were originally tolerated in the Christian kingdoms

of the dark ages, for the purpose of borrowing money, with which they supplied the exigencies of the state, and of merchants, or others, on the most lucrative ufurious contracts.

n Fol. 43. a. In this story MAGISTER VIRGILIUS, or Virgil the cunning man, is consulted.

• See Johnson's and Steevens's SHAKESPEARE, iii. p. 247. edit. ult. And Tyrwhitt's CHAUCER, iv. p. 332. 334.

P CONFESS, AMANT. Lib. i. f. xv. b. See supr. vol. ii. p. 31.

9 MSS. Seld. Sup. 53. Bibl. Bodl. De quadam bona et nobili Imperatrice. It is introduced with “ A Tale the which I in " the Roman dedis, &c.” Viz. MSS, LAUD,


1 2

I could point out other stories, beside those I have mentioned, for which Gower, Lydgate, Occleve, and the author of the DeCAMERON, and of the Cento Novelle Antiche, have been indebted to this admired repository'. Chaucer, as I have before remarked, has taken one of his Canterbury tales from this collection ;

and it has been supposed that he alludes to it in the following couplet,

And ROMAIN GESTIS makin remembrance

many a veray trewe wife also ?.

The plot also of the knight against Constance, who having killed Hermegild, puts the bloody knife into the hand of Constance while asleep, and her adventure with the steward, in the MAN OF LAWES Tale, are also taken from that manuscript chapter of this work, which I have just mentioned to have been versified by Occleve. The former of these incidents is thus treated by Occleve.

She with this zonge childe in the chambre lay
Every nizt where lay the earle and the countesse',
Bitween whose beddis brente a lampe alway.

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ibid. K. 78. See also MSS. DIGB. 185. Where, in the first line of the poem, we have, “ In the Roman jestys writen is this." It is in other manuscripts of Occleve. This story is in the Gesta ROMANORUM, MSS. HARL. 2270. chap. 101. fol. 80. a. Where Gerelaus is Menelaus.

s Bonifacio Vannozzi, in Delle LET. TERE MiscellanEE alle Academia Ve. neta, says, that Boccace borrowed (Nov. i. D. iii.] the Novel of Mafeto da Lamporecchio, with many other parts of the DECAMERON, from an older Collection of Novels. « In uno libro de Novelle, " et di Parlare Gentile, ANTERIORE al “ Boccacio, &c.” In Venetia, 1606. 4to. pag. 580. feq. I believe, however, that many of the tales are of Boccace's own

invention. He tells us himself, in the GENEALOGIA DEORUM, that when he was a little boy, he was fond of making FICTIUNCULÆ. Lib. xv. cap. x. p. 579. edit. Bafil. 1532. fol.

{ MARCHANT's Tale, ver. 10158. edit, Tyrw. This may still be doubted, as from what has been said above, the ROMAN Gests were the Roman history in general.

• Here we see the antient practice, even in great families, of one and the same bed-chamber serving for many persons. Much of the humour in Chaucer's Trom.' PINGTON MILLER arises from this circumstance. See the Romance of SYR TRYAMORE. And Gower, CONF. Am. iis f. 39. a.


And he espied, by the lampes lizt,
The bedde where that lay this emprice
With erlis douztur', and as blyve rizt,
'This feendly man his purpose and malice
Thouzte" for to fulfille and accomplice;
And so he dide, a longe knife out he drouze",
And ther with alle the maiden childe he llouze.

Hir throte with the knyfe on two he kutte
And as this emprice lay sleeping;
Into her honde this bloody knyfe he putte,
Ffor men shoulde have noon othir deemyng!
But she had gilty ben of this murdring:
And whanne that he had wrouzte this cursidneffe,
Anoone oute of the chambre he gan hem dresse?.

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The countess after hir flepe awakid
And to the emperesse bedde gan caste hir look
And fy• the bloody knyfe in hir hande nakid,
And, for the feare she tremblid and quook.

She awakens the earl, who awakens the empress.

And hir awook, and thus to hir he cried,
Woman, what is that, that in thin hand I fee?
" What hast thou doon, woman, for him that diede,
w What wickid spirit hath travaylid the ?"
And as fone as that adawed was she,
The knyfe fel oute of hir hand in the bedde,
And she bihilde the cloothis al forbledde,

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