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the guide from the bridge into the river. At this, the hermit
And moves in all the majesty of light. The same apologue occurs, with some slight additions and variations for the worse, in Howell's LETTERS; who professes to have taken it from the speculative sir Philip Herbert's ConCEPTIONS to his Son, a book which I have never seenm. These Letters were published about the year 1650. It is also found in the Divine DJALOGUES of doctor Henry More", who has illustrated its important moral with the following fine reflections. “ The affairs of this world are like a curious, but intricately contrived Comedy; and we cannot judge of the tendency of what is past, or acting at present, before the entrance of the last Act, which shall bring in Righteousness in triumph : who, though she hath abided many a brunt, and has been very cruelly and despightfully used hitherto in the world, yet at last, according to our desires, we shall see the knight overcome the giant. For what is the reason we are so much pleased with the reading romances and the fictions of the poets, but that here, as Aristotle says, things are set down as they
m Vol. iv. LET. iv. p. 7. edit. 1655. collection of Latin Apologues, quoted 8vo.
above, MSS. Harl. 463. fol. 8. a. The Parti. p. 321. Dual. ii. edit. Lond. rubric is, De Angelo qui durit Heremitam 1668. 12ino. I must not forget that it ad diversa Hospritia. occurs, as told in our Gesta, among a
should be; but in the true history hitherto of the world, things are recorded indeed as they are, but it is but a testimony, that they have not been as they should be? Wherefore, in the upshot of all, when we shall see that come to pass, that so mightily pleases us in the reading the most ingenious plays and heroic poems, that long afflicted vertue at last comes to the crown, the mouth of all unbelievers must be for ever stopped. And for my own part,
I doubt not but that it will so come to pass in the close of the world. But impatiently to call for vengeance upon every enormity before that time, is rudely to overturn the stage before the entrance into the fifth act, out of ignorance of the plot of the comedy; and to prevent the solemnity of the general judgement by more paltry and particular executions.”
Parnell seems to have chiefly followed the story as it is told by this Platonic theologist, who had not less imagination than learning. Pope used to say, that it was originally written in Spanish. This I do not believe: but from the early connection between the Spaniards and Arabians, this assertion tends to confirm the suspicion, that it was an oriental tale.
CHAP. Ixxxi. A king violates his sister. The child is exposed in a chest in the sea; is christened Gregory by an abbot who takes him up, and after various adventures he is promoted to the popedom. In their old age his father and mother go a pilgrimage to Rome, in order to confess to this pope, not knowing he was their son, and he being equally ignorant that they are his parents : when in the course of the confession, a discovery is made on both sides.
CHAP. Ixxxix. The three rings.
This story is in the DECAMERONP, and in the CENTO NoVELLE ANTICHE?: and perhaps in Swift's TALE OF A TUB.
CHAP. xcv. The tyrant Maxentius. From the Gesta RoMANORUM, which are cited.
I think there is the romance of MAXENCE, Constantine's antagonist. CHAP. xcvi. King Alexander places a burning candle in his • Ibid. p. 335.
9 Nov. Ixxi.
hall; and makes proclamation, that he will absolve all those who owe him forfeitures of life and land, if they will appear before the candle is consumed.
CHAP. xcvii. Prodigies before the death of Julius Cesar, who is placed in the twenty-second year of the city. From the CHRONICA, as they are called.
CHAP. xcix. A knight saves a serpent who is fighting in a forest with a toad', but is afterwards bit by the toad. The knight languishes many days: and when he is at the point of death, the same serpent, which he remembers, enters his chamber, and sucks the poison from the wound.
CHAP, ci. Of Ganterus, who for his prowess in war being elected a king of a certain country, is on the night of his coronation conducted to a chamber, where at the head of the bed is a fierce lion, at the feet a dragon, and on either side a bear, toads, and serpents. He immediately quitted his new kingdom; and was quickly elected king of another country. Going to rest the first night, he was led into a chamber furnished with a bed richly embroidered, but stuck all over with sharp
This kingdom he also relinquishes. At length he meets a hermit, who gives him a staff, with which he is directed to knock at the gate of a magnificent palace seated on a lofty mountain. Here he gains admittance, and finds every sort of happiness unembittered with the least degree of pain.
The king means every man advanced to riches and honour, and who thinks to enjoy these advantages without interruption and alloy. The hermit is religion, the staff penitence, and the palace heaven.
In a more confined sense, the first part of this apologue may be separately interpreted to signify, that a king when he enters on his important charge, ought not to suppose himself to succeed to the privilege of an exemption from care, and to be put into immediate possession of the highest pleasures, conveni
* The stories, perhaps fabulous, of the ing with and being killed by the spider, serpent fighting with his inveterate ene- originate from Pliny, Nat. Hist. X. 84. my the weazel, who eats rue before the attack begins, and of the serpent fight
encies, and felicities of life; but to be sensible, that from that moment he begins to encounter the greatest dangers and difficulties.
CHAP. cii. Of the lady of a knight who went to the holy land. She commits adultery with a clerk skilled in necromancy. Another magician discovers her intrigues to the absent knight by means of a polished mirror, and his image in wax.
In Adam Davie's Gest or romance of ALEXANDER, Nectabanus, a king and magician, discovers the machinations of his enemies by embattelling them in figures of wax. This is the most extensive necromantic operation of the kind that I remember, and must have formed a puppet-show equal to the most splendid pantomime.
Barounes weore whilom wys and gode,
Kynges therof haden gret onded, art, necromancy
• See Mr. Tyrwhitt's Chaucer's Cant. or earl.
T. ver. 1281. puppets. conquer.
d had great jealousy or anger.
Well thritty y gadred beoth“,
Of al this kynges theo grete werreo, &c.P Afterwards he frames an image of the queen Olympias, or Olympia, while sleeping, whom he violates in the shape of a dragon.
Theo lady lyzt' on hire bedde,
And yn a mantell of doway: near thirty were gathered, or confe saw fly. derated.
o the great war of all these kings. f all resolved to destroy him.
P MSS.(Bodl. Bibl.) Laup. I. 74.f.54. & Philip of Macedon.
covered. n felde, field, army:
* In the romance of Atis et PORPHIi he did. enemies.
LION. Cod. Reg. Par. 7191. 1 he made them fight.
Un chemis de chaisil m he saw the harm fall on, or against,
De fil, et d'ævre moult soutil. himself.