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who wrote about the year 1400, in his enumeration of Berchorius's writings, fays nothing of this compilation“.
Had other authentic evidences been wanting, we are sure of the age in which Berchorius flourished, from the circumstance of his being employed to translate Livy by John king of France, who acceded to the throne in the year 1350, and died in the year 1364. That Berchorius died, and probably an old man, in the year 1362, we learn from his epitaph in the monastery of faint Eloy at Paris, which is recited by Sweertius, and on other accounts deserves a place here.
HIC JACET VENERABILIS MAGNA PRO
F. PETRUS BERCOTH,
PRIOR HUJUS PRIORATUS.
LIBRI VETUTISSIMI' DE LATINO IN
CHRON. CITız. f. 841. Apud Pis & Of Maillezais. torii ILLUSTR. Vit. SCRIPTOR, &c.
The COSMOGRAPHIA abovementioned. Francof. 1583. fol. Compare the CHRON.
i Of Livy, of Philippas Bergom, ad ann. 1355.
k Sweertii EPITAPHIA Joco-feria. edit. Read Bercheur.
Colon. 1645. p. 158. It must not be dir. f That is, of the village of faint Pierre sembled, that in the MORALISATION of du Chemin. Three leagues from Poiêtiers. the hundred and forty-fifth chapter, a prom 2
Berchorius was constituted grammatical preceptor to the novices of the Benedi&tine Congregation, or monastery, at Clugni, in the year 1340!. At which time he drew up his Notes on the Prosody, and his Commentary on Ovid, for the use of his scholars. About the same time, and with a view of rendering their exercises in Latinity more agreeable and easy by an entertaining Latin story-book, yet resoluble into lessons of religion, he probably compiled the Gesta: perpetually addressing the application of every tale to his young audience, by the paternal and affectionate appellation of CARISSIMI". There was there.. fore time enough for the GestA to become a fashionable book of tales, before Boccace published his DeCAMERON. The action of the DecAMERON being supposed in 1348, the year of the great pestilence, we may safely conjecture, that Boccace did not begin his work till after that period. An exact and ingenious critic has proved, that it was not finished till the year 1358 ".
I have just observed, that Berchorius probably compiled this work for the use of his grammatical pupils. Were there not many good reasons for that supposition, I should be induced to think, that it might have been intended as a book of stories for the purpose of preachers. I have already given instances, that it was antiently fashionable for preachers to enforce the several moral duties by applying fables, or exemplary narratives : and, in the present case, the perpetual recurrence of the address of CARISSIMI might be brought in favour of this hypothesis. But I will here suggest an additional reason. Soon after the age
verb is explained, vulgariter, in the Ger. man language. Fol. 69. a. col. 2. And in the hundred and forty-third chapter, a hunter has eight dogs who have German names. Fol. 67. a. col. 1. feq. I fus. peet, nor is it improbable, that those German words were introduced by a Ger. man editor or printer. Mr. Tyrwhitt supposes, that we may reasonably conjectare one of our countrymen to have been the compiler, because three couplets of Englith verses and some English names,
Berchorius, a similar collection of stories, of the same cast, was compiled, though not exactly in the same form, professedly designed for sermon writers, and by one who was himself an eminent preacher : for,'rather before the year 1480, a Latin volume was printed in Germany, written by John Herolt a Dominican friar of Bafil, better known by the adopted and humble appellation of DISCIPULUS, and who flourished about the year 1418. It consists of three parts. The first is entitled.“ Incipiunt Ser“ 'mones pernotabiles DISCIPULI de Sanctis per anni circu“ lum.” That is, a set of Sermons on the Saints of the whole year. The second part, and with which I am now chiefly concerned, is a PROMPTUARY, or ample repository, of examples for composing sermons: and in the Prologue to this part the author says, that faint Dominic always abundabat exemplis in his discourses, and that he constantly practiced this popular mode of edification. This part contains a variety of little histories. Among others, are the following. Chaucer's Friar's tale. Ariftotle falling in love with a queen, who compels him to permit her to ride upon his back o.
his backo. The boy who was kept in a dark cave till he was twelve years of age; and who being carried abroad, and presented with many striking objects, preferred a woman to all he had seen P. A boy educated in a defert is brought into a city, where he sees a woman whom he is taught to call a fine bird, under the name of a goose : and on his return into the desert, desires his fpiritual father to kill him a goose for his dinner These two last stories Boccace has worked into one. The old woman and her little dog'. This, as we have seen, is in the GESTA ROMANORUM'. The son who will not Thoot at his father's dead body'. these as specimens of the collection. The third part contains
EXEMPL. Ixvii. Sub litera, M. “ De regina quæ equitavit Ariftotelem." He cites Jacobus de Vitriaco. [See supr. p. xix.)
EXEMPL. xxiv. Sub Litera, L.
. Ibid. EXEMPL. xxiii. (See fupr. p. 1.]
* This is also in the Gesta, ch. xlv. EXEMPL. viii. Lit. B.
stories for sermon writers, consisting only of select miracles of the Virgin Mary. The first of these is the tale of the chafte. Roman empress, occurring in the Harleian manuscripts of the Gests, and versified by Occleve; yet with some variation'. This third part is closed with these words, which also end the volume. Explicit tabula Exemplorum in tractatulo de Ex“ emplis gloriofe Virginis Marie contentorum.”
I quote from the first edition, which is a clumsy. folio in a rude Gothic letter, in two volumes ; and without pagings, signatures, or initials. The place and year are also wanting ; but it was certainly printed before 1480", and probably at Nuremburgh. The same author also wrote a set of sermons called Sermones de tempore ". In these I find Alphonsus's story, which in the Gesta RoMANORUM is the tale of the two knights of Egypt and Bal.. dach'; and, in Boccace's DeCAMERON, the history of Tito and GESIPPO : Parnell's Hermit': and the apologue of the king's brother who had heard the trumpet of Death ; both which last are also in the Gesta.. Such are the revolutions of taste, and so capricious the modes of composition, that a Latin homily-book of a German monk in the fifteenth century, should exhibit outlines of the tales of Boccace, Chaucer, and Parnell! It
may not be thought impertinent to close this discourse with a remark on the MORALISATIONS, subjoined to the stories of the Gesta ROMANORUM. This was an age of vision and mystery: and every work was believed to contain a double, or
+ See supr. p. Ixxxiii.
“ sçripfi et collegi.” I have seen also early * For the second edition is at Nurem. impreslions of his SERMONES QUADRAburgh, 1482. fol. Others followed, be GESIMALES, and of other pieces of the
fame fort. All his works were published ~ The only edition I have feen, with together in three volumes, Mogunt. 1612. the addition of the SąRMONES DE SANC- : 400. The Examples appeared separateTis, and the PROMPTUARIUM EXEMPLO ly, Daventr. 1481. Colon. 1485, ArgenRUM abovementioned, was printed by M. torat. 1489. 1490. Hagen, 1512. 1519. Flaccius, Argentin. 1499. fol. But there fol, is an earlier edition. At the close of the * Serm. cxxi. col. ii. Signat. C 5. last Sermon, he tells us why he chose to * CH. clxxi. be ftyled DiscIPULUS. Because," non % Serm. liii. “ subtilia per modum MAGISTRI, fed fim a Serm, cix. “plicia per modum DISCIPULI, con D CH. Ixxx. cxliii.
fecondary, meaning. Nothing escaped this eccentric spirit of refinement and abstraction : and, together with the bible, as we have seen, not only the general history of antient times was explained allegorically, but even the poetical fictions of the claffies were made to signify the great truths of religion, with a degree of boldness, and a want of a discrimination, which in another age would have acquired the character of the most profane levity, if not of absolute impiety, and can only be defended from the fimplicity of the state of knowledge which then prevailed.
Thus, God creating man of clay, animated with the vital principle of respiration,, was the story of Prometheus, who formed a man of similar materials, to which he communicated life by fire stolen from heaven. Christ twice born, of his father God and of his mother Mary, was prefigured by Bacchus, who was first born of Semele, and afterwards of Jupiter. And as Minerva sprung from the brain of Jupiter, fo Chrift proceeded from God without a mother. Christ born of the Virgin Mary was expressed in the fable of Danae shut within a tower, through the covering of which Jupiter descended in a shower of gold, and begot Perseus. Acteon, killed by his own hounds, was a type of the persecution and death of our Saviour. The poet Lycophron relates, that Hercules in returning from the adventure of the Golden Fleece was shipwrecked ; and that being devoured by a monstrous fish, he was disgorged alive on the shore after three days. Here was an obvious fymbol of Christ's resurrection. John Waleys, an English Franciscan of the thirteenth century, in his moral exposition of Ovid's Metamorphoses“, affords many other instances equally ridiculous ; and who forgot that he was describing a more heterrogeneous chaos, than that which makes fo conspicuous a figure in his author's exordium, and which combines, amid the monstrous and indigested aggregate of its unnatural associations, Sine pondere habentia pondus.
METAM, L, 1. 20.
< I have before mentioned Bershorius's Ovid MORALISED.