תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

abbey church of Saint John, a structure covered with lead, and not unhandsomely built for so lonesome a situation : on the very spot, where formerly stood a small chapel dedicated to Saint David, which had no other ornaments than green

moss and ivy. It is a situation fit for the exercise of religion; and a religious edifice was first founded in this sequestered retreat to the honour of a solitary life, by two hermits, remote from the noise of the world, upon the banks of the river Hondy, which winds through the midst of the valley.—The rains which mountainous countries usually produce, are here very frequent, the winds exceedingly tempestuous, and the winters almost continually dark. Yet the air of the valley is so happily tempered, as scarcely to be the cause of any diseases. The monks sitting in the cloisters of the abbey, when they chuse for a momentary refreshment to cast their eyes abroad, have on every side a pleasing prospect of mountains ascending to an immense height, with numerous herds of wild deer feeding aloft on the highest extremity of this lofty horizon. The body of the sun is not visible above the hills till after the meridian hour, even when the air is most clear.” Giraldus adds, that Roger bishop of Salisbury, prime minister to Henry the First, having visited this place, on his return to court told the king, that all the treasure of his majesty's kingdom would not suffice to build such another cloister. The bishop explained himself by saying, that he meant the circular ridge of mountains with which the vale of Ewias was enclosedy. Alexander Neckham was the friend, the associate, and the correspondent of Peter of Blois already mentioned. He received the first part of his education in the abbey of Saint Alban’s, which he afterwards completed at Paris 2. His compositions are various, and croud the department of manuscripts in our public libraries. He has left numerous treatises of divinity, philosophy, and morality: but he was likewise a poet, a philologist, and a grammarian. He wrote a tract on the mythology of the antient poets, Esopian

y Girald. Cambrens. Itin. Cambr. Lib. i. c. 3. p. 89. seq. Lond. 1585. 12mo. 2 Lel. Script. Brit. p. 240. seq.

fables, and a system of grammar and rhetoric. I have seen his elegiac poem on the monastic life?, which contains some finished lines. But his capital piece of Latin poetry is on the Praise of DIVINE WISDOM, which consists of seven books. In the introduction he commemorates the innocent and unreturning pleasures of his early days, which he passed among the learned monks of Saint Alban's, in these perspicuous and unaffected elegiacs.

Claustrum
Martyris Albani sit tibi tuta quies.
Hic locus ætatis nostræ primordia novit,

Annos felices, lætitiæque dies.
Hic locus ingenuis pueriles imbuit annos

Artibus, et nostræ laudis origo fuit.
Hic locus insignes magnosque creavit alumnos,

Felix eximio martyre, gente, situ.
Militat hic Christo, noctuque dieque labori

Indulget sancto religiosa cohors. Neckham died abbot of Cirencester in the year 1217€ He was much attached to the studious

repose

of the monastic pro fession, yet he frequently travelled into Italyd. Walter Mapes, archdeacon of Oxford, has been very happily styled the Anacreon of the eleventh century. He studied at Paris. His vein was chiefly festive and satiricals : and as his wit was frequently levelled against the corruptions of the clergy, his poems often appeared under fictitious names, or have been ascribed to others". The celebrated drinking ode i of this genial archdeacon has the regular returns of the monkish rhyme : but they are here applied with a characteristical propriety, are so happily invented, and so humourously introduced, that they * Bibl. Bodl. MSS. Digb. 65. f. 18.

h Cave, Hist. Lit. p. 706. Compare • Apud Lel. Script. Brit. p. 240. Tanner, Bibl. 351. 507. In return,

Willis, Mitr. Abb. i. 61, 62. many pieces went under the name of our d Lel. ibid.

author. As, for instance, De Thetide et • Lord Lyttelton's Hist. Hen. II. de Ly@o, which is a ridiculous piece of Not. B. ii. p. 133. 4to.

Kurrility. MSS. Bibl. Bodl. Digb. 166. See infr. Sect. ii. p. 67. & Tanner, Bibl. p. 507.

See Camd. Rem. p. 436. Rytumų.

1

f. 104.

VOL. 1.

not only suit the genius but heighten the spirit of the piece* He boasts that good wine inspires him to sing verses equal to those of Ovid. In another Latin ode of the same kind, he attacks with great liveliness the new injunction of pope Inno cent, concerning the celibacy of the clergy; and hopes that every married priest with his bride, will say a pater noster for the soul of one who had thus hazarded his salvation in their defence.

Ecce jam pro clericis multum allegavi,
Necnon pro presbyteris plura comprobavi:
Pater Noster nunc pro me, quoniam peccavi,

Dicat quisque Presbyter, cum sua Suavi.' But a miracle of this age in classical composition was Joseph of Exeter, commonly called Josephus Iscanus. He wrote two epic poems in Latin heroics. The first is on the Trojan War; it is in six books, and dedicated to Baldwin archbishop of Canterbury". The second is entitled ANTIOCHEIS, the War

In Bibl. Bodl. a piece De Nugis of his poems remain in MS. (See Index Curialium is given to Mapes. MSS. to Harl. MSS.) Some of them have Arch. B. 52. It was written A.D. been printed in Leyser, Hist. Poetarum 1182. As appears from Distinct. iv. medii ævi, in Flacius de corrupto eccap. 1. It is in five books. Many Latin clesiæ statu. Basil 1557. and in Wolfii poems in this manuscript are given to Lectiones memorabiles. There is reason Mapes. One in particular, written in to suppose that a piece entitled variously a flowing style, in short lines, preserving as follows, was written by him : Visio no fixed metrical rule, which seems to lamentabilis cujusdam heremitæ super have been intended for singing. In an- disceptatione animæ contra corpus.other manuscript I find various pieces Disputatio inter corpus et animam aliof Latin

poetry, by some attributed to cujus repbati et damnati : Conflictio Mapes, Bibl. Bodl. NE. F. iii. Soms inter corpus et animam. See Harl, MSS. of these are in a good taste. Camden 978. 2851. Cotton MSS. Titus, A. IX. has printed his Disputatio inter Coret - Douce] (There is however reason Oculum. Rem. p. 439. It is written in to believe that Mapes only gave a Latin å sort of Anacreontic verse, and has version of a very popular theme. See some humour. It is in MSS. Bibl. the same idea exemplified in a Saxon Bodl. Digb. ut supr. 166. See also poem from the Exon MS. given by Camd. ibid. p. 437.

Mr. Conybeare in the Archäologia, [It appears from several of the MS. vol. 17.-Edit.) copies of Lancelot du Lac, Le Saint i Camd. Rem. ut supr. Graal, and other romances, that Walter m See lib. i. 32. It was first printed de Mapes translated them into French at Basil, but very corruptly, in the year prose, at the instance of Henry 11. He 1541. 8vo. under the name of Cor. also composed the Mort Artur at the nelius Nepos. The existence and name particular desire of that monarch. Many of this poem seem to have been utterly

of Antioch, or the Crusade; in which his patron the archbishop was an actor". The poem of the Trojan war is founded on Dares Phrygius, a favorite fabulous historian of that timeo. The diction of this poem is generally pure, the periods round, and the numbers harmonious: and on the whole, the structure of the versification approaches nearly to that of polished Latin poetry. The writer appears to have possessed no common command of poetical phraseology, and wanted nothing but a knowledge of the Virgilian chastity. His style is a mixture of Ovid, Statius, and Claudian, who seem then to have been the popular patternsp. But a few specimens will best illustrate this criticism. He thus, in a strain of much spirit and dignity,

[ocr errors]

unknown in England when Leland sages would have betrayed their first wrote. He first met with a manuscript editor's pretence of this poem being writ. copy of it by niere accident in Magdalen ten by Cornelius Nepos. As it is, he college library at Oxford. He never had was obliged in the address to Baldwin, even heard of it before. He afterwards to change Cantia, Kent, into Tantia ; found two more copies at Paris. But for which he substitutes Pontia in the these were ail imperfect, and without margin, as an ingenious conjecture. the name of the author, except a margi Leland, p. 224, 225. nal hint. At length he discovered a The manuscript at Magdalen col. complete copy of it in the library of lege, mentioned by Leland, is entitled Thorney abbey in Cambridgeshire, Dares Phrygius de bello Trojano. Lel. which seems to have ascertained the au. p. 236. As also MSS. Digb. supr. thor's name, but not his country. Script. citat. But see Secr. iii. p. 140. infr. Brit. p. 238. The neglect of this poem

P Statius is cited in the epistles of ainong our ancestors, I mean in the ages Stephen of Tournay, a writer of the which followed Iscanus, appears from twelfth century. « Divinam ejus rethe few manuscripts of it now remaining sponsionem, ut Thebais Æneida, longa in England. Leland, who searched all sequor, et vestigia semper adoro." He our libraries, could find only two. There died in 1200. EPISTOLÆ, Paris. 1611. is at present one in the church of Wests 4to. Epist. v. p. 535. On account of minster. Another in Bibl. Bodl. Digb. the variety of his matter, and the facility 157. That in Magdalen college is MSS. of his manner, none of the antient poets Cod. 50. The best edition is at the end are more frequently cited in the writers of “ Dictys Cretensis et Dares Phrygius, of the dark ages than Ovid. His Fasti in us. Sereniss. Delph. cum Interprete seems to have been their favorite: a A. Daceriæ, &c. Amstæl. 1702." 4to. work thus admirably characterised by But all the printed copies have omitted an ingenious French writer. “Les Fasa passages which I find in the Digby ma tes d'Ovide renferment plus d'erudition nuscript. Particularly they omit, in the qu'aucun autre ouvrage de l'antiquité. address to Baldwin, four lines after v. 32. C'est le chef d'quvre de ce poete, et une lib. i. Thirteen lines, in which the poet espece de devotion paienne." Vigneul alludes to his intended ANTIOCHEIS, are Marville, Misc. Hist. et Lit. tom. ii. omitted before v. 962. lib. vi. Nor have p. 306. A writer of the thirteenth cen. they the verses in which he compliments tury, DE MIRABILIBUS Roma, published Henry. the Second, said by Leland to be by Montfaucon, calls this work MARTYat the end of the fourth book, Script. HOLOQIUM Ovitlii de Fastis. Montf. Diar. Brit. p. 238. The truth is, these pas- Italic. c. XX. p. 293.

addresses king Henry the Second, who was going to the holy warį, the intended subject of his Antiocheis.

- Tuque, oro, tuo da, maxime, vati
Ire iter inceptum, Trojamque aperire jacentem :
Te sacræ assument acies, divinaque bella,
Tunc dignum majore tuba; tunc pectore toto

Nitar, et immensum mecum spargere per orbem." The tomb or mausoleum of Teuthras is feigned with a brilliancy of imagination and expression; and our poet's classical ideas seem here to have been tinctured with the description of some magnificent oriental palace, which he had seen in the romances of his

age.
Regia conspicuis moles inscripta figuris
Exceptura ducem, senis affulta columnis,
Tollitur: electro vernat basis, arduus auro
Ardet apex, radioque stylus candescit eburno.

-Gemmæ quas littoris Indi
Dives arena tegit, aurum quod parturit Hermus,
In varias vivunt species, ditique decorum
Materie contendit opus: quod nobile ductor
Quod clarum gessit, ars explicat, ardua pandit

Moles, et totum reserat sculptura tyrannum. -
He thus describes Penthesilea and Pyrrhus:

Eminet, horrificas rapiens post terga secures,
Virginei regina chori : non provida cultus
Cura trahit, non forma juvat, frons aspera, vestis
Discolor, insertumque armis irascitur aurum.
Si visum, si verba notes, si lumina pendas,
Nil leve, nil fractum : latet omni foemina facto.
Obvius ultrices accendit in arma cohortes,
Myrmidonasque suos, curru prævectus anhelo,

Pyrrhus, &c.
Voltaire has expressed his admira- age much earlier than Tasso celebrating
tion of the happy choice of subject which the same sort of expedition.
Tasso made. We here see a poet of an Lib. I. 47.

• Lib. iv. 451..

[ocr errors]
« הקודםהמשך »