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And the childe dead, “ Allas, she cried, allas,
“ The knyfe all bloody in thin hand I sayo. This story, but with some variation of circumstances, is told in the HISTORICAL MIRROUR of Vincent of Beauvaise.
But I hasten to point out the writer of the GESTA ROMANORUM, who has hitherto remained unknown to the most diligent enquirers in Gothic literature. He is Petrus Berchorius, or Pierre Bercheur, a native of Poitou, and who died Prior of the Benedictine convent of saint Eloi at Paris, in the year 1362.
For the knowledge of this very curious circumstance, I am obliged to Salomon Glasfius, a celebrated theologist of SaxeGotha, in his PhiloLOGIA SACRA', written about the year 1623%. In his chapter de ALLEGORIIS FABULARUM, he censures those writers who affect to interpret allegorically, not only texts of scripture, but also poetical fables and profane histories, which they arbitrarily apply to the explication or confirmation of the mysteries of christianity. He adds, " Hoc in “ studio excelluit quidam Petrus Berchorius, Pictaviensis, ordinis “ divi Benedicti : qui, peculiari libro, GestA ROMANORUM, “ necnon Legendas Patrum, aliasque aniles fabulas, allegorice ac
mystice exposuith." That is, “ In this art excelled one “ Peter Berchorius, a Benedictine ; who, in a certain peculiar
c Saw. • Ut fupr. viz. MS. Seld. SUP. 45. Qu. iii.
e Specul. Histor. Lib. vii. c. 90. fol. 86, a.
* PHILOLOGIÆ SACRÆ, qua totius sacrosanctæ veteris et novi testamenti scripturæ tum ftylus et literatura, tum sensus et genuinæ interpretationis ratio expendi.
tur, Libri quinque, &c. edit. tert. Francof. et Hamb. 1653.
& From the date of the Dedication. For his other works, which are very nu'merous, see the DIARIUM BIOGRAPHICum of H. Witte, sub Ann. 1665. Gedani, 1688. 4to.
Lib. ii. Part. i. Tractat, ii. Sect. iii. Artic. viii. pag 312.
« book, has expounded, mystically and allegorically, the Roman “ Gests, legends of saints, and other idle tales i.” He then quotes for an example, the whole one hundred and seventieth chapter of the GESTA ROMANORUM, containing the story of saint Bernard and the Dice-player, together with its moralisation.
Berchorius was one of the most learned divines of his country, and a voluminous writer. His three grand printed works are, I. REDUCTORIUM MORALE super totam Bibliam, in twentyfour books. II. REPERTORIUM (or Reductorium] MORALE, in fourteen books k. III. DICTIONARIUM MORALE. Whoever shall have the patience or the curiosity to turn over a few pages of this immense treasure of multifarious erudition, will soon see this assertion of Glaffius abundantly verified ; and will be convinced beyond a doubt, from a general coincidence of plan, manner, method, and execution, that the author of these volumes, and of the GesTA ROMANORUM, must be one and the same. The REDUCTORIUM SUPER BIBLIAM ' contains all the stories and incidents in the Bible, reduced into allegories". The REPERTORIUM MORALE is a dictionary of things, persons, and places; all which are supposed to be mystical, and which are therefore explained in their moral or practical sense. The DictIONARIUM MORALE is in two parts, and seems principally designed to be a moral repertory for students in
i Salmeron, a profound school-divine, who flourished about 1560, censures the unwarrantable liberty of the Gesta Ro. MANORUM, in accommodating histories and fables to Christ and the church. Comm. in EVANGEL. Hist. i. pag. 356. Prol. xix. Can. xxi.-Colon. Agrippin. 1602. fol.
* I use a folio edition of all these three works, in three volumes, printed at Venice in 1583. These pieces were all printed very early.
This was first printed, Argentorat. 3473. fol. There was a very curious book in lord Oxford's library, I am not sure whether the same, entitled MORALI.
ZATIONES BIBLIÆ, Ulmä 1474. fol. With this colophon in the last page. Infinita dei clementia. Finitus eft liber Moralizatio. num Bibliarum in ejusdem laudem et gloriam compilatus. Ac per induftrium Joannem Zeiner de Reutlingen Artis impressoriæ magiftrum non penna sed scagneis characteribus in oppido Ulmenii artificialiter effigiatus. Anno Incarnationis Domini millefimo quadrin. gentefimo feptuagefimo quarto Aprilis nono. This book is not mentioned by Maittaire.
m To this work Alanus de Lynne, a Carmelite of Lynne in Norfolk, wrote an Index or Tabula, about the year 1240. It is in MSS. REG. 3 D. 3, 1.
The moralisation, or moral explanation, which is added to every article, is commonly prefaced, as in the Gesta, with the introductory address of CARISSIMI. In the colophon, the Gesta is called Ex gestis Romanorum RecolleCTORIUM: a word much of a piece with his other titles of ReperTORIUM and ReduCTORIUM. Four of the stories occurring in the GESTA, The Discovery of the gigantic body of Pallas", The subterraneous golden palace', The adventures of the English knight in the bishoprick of Ely', and The miraculous horn", are related in the fourteenth book of the REPERTORIUM MORALE. For the two last of these he quotes Gervase of Tilbury, as in his Gesta'. As a further proof of his allegorising genius I must add, that he moralised all the stories in Ovid's Metamorphosis, in a work entitled, Commentarius MORALIS, five ALLEGORIÆ in Libros quindecim Ovidii Metamorphoseon', and now remaining in manuscript in the library of the monastery of faint Germains'. He seems to have been strongly impressed with whatever related to the Roman affairs, and to have thought their history more interesting than that of any other people. This appears from the following passage, which I translate from the article Roma, in his DictioNARIUM MORALE, and which will also contribute to throw some other lights on this subject. “ remarkable facts might be here collected concerning the vir« tues and vices of the Romans, did my design permit me to
drop Moralities, and to enter upon an historical detail! For
- How many
9 Fol. 610. ut fupr. [Gest. Rom. c. lxi.)
" A MORALISATION is joined to these stories, with the introduction of Caris.
n Cap. xlix. f. 643. He quotes
CHR0. NICA, and says, that this happened in the reign of the emperor Henry the second. [See Gest. Rom. c. clviii.]
• Cap. Ixxii. f. 689. col. 1. 2. He quotes for this story [Gest. Rom.c.cvii.) William of Malmesbury, but tells it in the words of Beauvais, ut supr.
P Fol. 610. col. 2. (Gest. Rom. c. clv.] Here also his author is Gervase of 'Tilbury: from whom, I think in the same chapter, he quotes part of king Arthur's Romance. See OTIA IMPERIAL. Dec. ii. C. 12,
f See what he says of the Fabulæ Poetaram, REPERTOR. MORAL. lib. xiv. cap. i. f. 601. col. 2. ad calc.
s Oudin: COMMENT. Scriptor. EcCLES, iii. p. 1064. Lipf. 1723. fol. I doubt whether this work was not tranflated into French by Guillaume Nangis, at the beginning of the fourteenth century. See Mem, LIT. xx. 757. 4to.
« that most excellent historian Livy, unequalled for the dignity, “ brevity, and difficulty of his style, (whose eloquence is so highly “ extolled by faint Jerome, and whom I, however unworthy, “ have translated from Latin into French with great labour', “ at the request of John the most famous king of France,) “ records so many wonderful things of the prudence, fortitude, “ fidelity, and friendship, of the Roman people ; as also of “ their quarrels, envy, pride, avarice, and other vices, which
are indeed allied to virtues, and are such, to say the truth, “ as I never remember to have heard of in any nation besides. " But because I do not mean to treat of historical affairs in “ the present work, the matter of which is entirely moral, I “ refer the historical reader to Livy himself, to Trogus Pom
peius, Justin, Florus, and Orofius, who have all written hif" tories of Rome; as also to Innocent, who in his book on the
Miseries of human nature", speaks largely of the vices of the “ Romans w" In the mean time we must remember, that at this particular period, the Roman history had become the grand -object of the public taste in France. The king himself, as we have just seen, recommended a translation of Livy. French translations also of Salluft, Cesar, and Lucan, were now circulated. A Latin historical compilation called ROMULEON was now just published by a gentleman of France, which was soon afterwards translated into French. A collection of the GESTA ROMANORUM was therefore a popular subject, at least it produced a popular title, and was dictated by the fashion of the times.
I have here mentioned all Berchorius's works, except his Comment on a Prosody called Do&trinale metricum, which was
+ I have mentioned this work before, vol. ii. p. 114. It is remarkable, that a copy of this manuscript in the British Museum is entitled, “ Titus Livius. Des “ FAIS DES ROMAINS translate
Pierre " Bertheure.” MSS. REG. 15 D. vi. u Pope Innocent the third, about the VOL. III.
year 1200, wrote three Books De Contemptu Mundi, five De Miseria humance Conditionis, printed, Colon. 1496.
Diction. MORAL. P. iii, vol. ii. f. 274. col. 2. edit. 1583. - Sue fupr. vol.
ii. p. 114.
used as a school-book in France, till Despauterius's manual on that subject appeared *. Some biographers mention his TROPOLOGIA, his COSMOGRAPHIA, and his BreviARIUM. But the TROPOLOGIA' is nothing more than his REDUCTORIUM on the Bible ; and probably the BREVIARIUM is the fame?. The COSMOGRAPHIA seems to be the fourteenth book of his RePERTORIUM MORALE; which treats of the wonders of various countries, and is chiefly taken from Solinus and Gervase of Tilbury. He is said by the biographers to have written other smaller pieces, which they have not named or described. Among these perhaps is comprehended the Gesta: which we may conceive to have been thus undistinguished, either as having been neglected or proscribed by graver writers, or rather as having been probably disclaimed by its author, who saw it at length in the light of a juvenile performance, abounding in fantastic and unedifying narrations, which he judged unsuitable to his character, studies, and station6. Basilius Johannes Heroldus, however, mentions Berchorius as the author of a CHRONI, con, a word which may imply, though not with exact propriety, his Gesta ROMANORUM. It is in the Epistle dedicatory of his edition of the Chronicles of Marianus Scotus, and Martinus Polonus, addressed to our queen Elisabeth; in which he promises to publish many Latin CHRONICA, that is, those of Godfrey of Viterbo, Hugo Floriacenfis, Conrade Engelhus, Hermannus Edituus, Lanfranc, Ivo, Robert of Saint Victor, Peter BERCHORIUS, and of many others, qui de TEMPORIBUS scripserunt, who have written of times'. Paulus Langius,
* Oudin, ubi fupr.
y I have seen a very old black-letter edition with the title, “ Tropologiarum
myfticarumque enarrationum, &c.” Without date.
* But see Bibl. Sangerm. Cod. MS. 687. And G. Serpilii Vit. Scriptor. Biblic. tom. vii. part. 2. pag. 44. Also Possevin. APPARAT. Sacr. ii. p. 241. Colon. 1608.
• This is in some measure hinted by
Oudin, ubi fupr. “ Egreffus autem a Pro. “ FANIS et grammaticis Berchorius, ani. “ mum SOLIDIORIBUS applicuit, &c.”.
• Gesner adds, reciting his works, that he wrote " alia multa." Epitom. Bibl. f. 147. b. Tig. 1555. fol. And Trithemius,“ parvos
fed multos tractatus.” De ILLUSTR. Bened. Lib. ii. c. 131.
. Dat. 1559. Edit. Basil, Oporin. No Date, fol.