תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

the like sort, were counsellors in the palace of Old Age, and employed in telling her day and night, that “ Death stood armed at her gate," was far beyond the sentimental and satirical vein of John of Meun, and is conceived with great vigour of imagination.

Chaucer appears to have been early struck with this French poem. In his DREME, written long before he begun this translation, he supposes, that the chamber in which he slept was richly painted with the story of the RomaUNT OF THE RosEP. It is natural to imagine, that such a poem must have been a favourite with Chaucer. No poet, before William of Lorris, either Italian or French, had delineated allegorical personages in so distinct and enlarged a style, and with such a fullness of characteristical attributes : nor had descriptive poetry selected such a variety of circumstances, and disclosed such an exuberance of embellishment, in forming agreeable representations of nature. On this account, we are surprised that Boileau should mention Villon as the first poet of France who drew form and order from the chaos of the old French romancers.

Villon sçeut le PREMIER, dans ces siecles grossiers
Debroüiller l'Art Confus de nos vieux ROMANCIERS. 9

But the poetry of William of Lorris was not the poetry of Boileau.

That this poem should not please Boileau, I can easily conceive. It is more surprising that it should have been censured as a contemptible performance by Petrarch, who lived in the age of fancy. Petrarch having desired his friend Guy de Gonzague to send him some new piece, he sent him the Roman DE LA Rose. With the poem, instead of an encomium, he returned a severe criticism; in which he treats it as a cold, inartificial, and extravagant composition: as a proof, how

р

v. 322. Chaucer alludes to this poem in The MARCHAUST's Tale, v. 1518. p. 72. Urr.

9 Art. Poet. ch. i. He died about the year 1456.

much France, who valued this poem as her chief work, was surpassed by Italy in eloquence and the arts of writing". In this opinion we must attribute something to jealousy. But the truth is, Petrarch's genius was too cultivated to relish these wild excursions of imagination: his favorite classics, whom he revived, and studied with so much attention, ran in his head. Especially Ovid's Art of Love, a poem of another species, and evidently formed on another plan; but which Petrarch had been taught to venerate, as the model and criterion of a didactic poem on the passion of love reduced to a system. We may add, that although the poem before us was founded on the visionary doctrines and refinements concerning love invented by the Provencial poets, and consequently less unlikely to be favourably received by Petrarch, yet his ideas on that delicate subject were much more Platonic and metaphysical.

* See Petrarch. Carm. L. i. Ep. 30.

SECTION XIV.

CHAUCER's poem of Troilus and Cresseide is said to be formed on an old history, written by Lollius, a native of Urbino in Italya. Lydgate says that Chaucer, in this poem,

made a translacion
Of a boke which called is TROPHE

In Lumbarde tongue, &c." It is certain that Chaucer, in this piece, frequently refers to “ MYNE AUCTOR LOLLIUS C.” But he hints, at the same time, that Lollius wrote in Latind. I have never seen this history, either in the Lombard or the Latin language. I have before observed, that it is mentioned in Boccacio's Decameron, and that a translation of it was made into Greek verse by some of the Greek fugitives in the fourteenth century. Du Fresne, if I mistake not, somewhere mentions it in Italian. In the royal library at Paris it occurs often as an antient French romance. 6 Cod. 7546. Roman de Troilus.”. 6. Cod. 7564. Roman de Troilus et de Briseida ou Criseida.”—Again, as an original work of Boccacio. “ Cod. 7757. Philostrato dell' amorose

a Petrus Lambeccius enumerates Lol some Italian original is, that in a manulius Urbicus among the Historici Latini script which I have seen of this poem, I profani of the third century. Prodrom. find, Monesteo for Menestes, Rupheo for p. 246. Ilamb. 1659. See also Voss. Ruphes, Phebusco for Phebuses, lib.iv.50. Historic. Latin. ii. 2. p. 163. edit. Lugd. seq. Where, by the way, Xantippe, a Bat. But this could not be Chaucer's Trojan chief, was perhaps corruptly writLollius. Chaucer places Lollius among ten for Xantippo, i. e. Xantippus. As the historians of Troy, in his House of Joseph. Iscan. iv. 10. In Lydgate's Fame, iii. 380. It is extraordinary, that Troy, Zantiphus, iii. 26. All corrupted Du Fresne, in the Index Auctorum, used from Antiphus, Dict. Cret. p. 105. In by him for his Latin glossary, should the printed copies we have Ascalapho for mention this Lollius Urbicus of the third Ascalaphus. lib. v. 319. century. Tom. I. p. 141. edit. i. As I • Prol. Boch. st. iii. apprehend, none of his works remain. o See lib. i. v. 395. A proof that Chaucer translated from d Lib. ii. v. 10.

fatiche de Troilo per Giovanni Boccacio*.” 6 Les suivans (adds Montfaucond) contiennent les autres oeuvres de Boccace." Much fabulous history concerning Troilus, is related in Guido de Columna's Destruction of Troy. Whatever were Chaucer's materials, he has on this subject constructed a poem of considerable merit, in which the vicissitudes of love are depicted in a strain of true poetry, with much pathos and simplicity of sentimento. He calls it, “a litill tragedie'.” Troilus is supposed to have seen Cresside in a temple; and retiring to his chamber, is thus naturally described, in the critical situation of a lover examining his own mind after the first impression of love.

*(Boccacio's Filostrato was printed member, that the Italian language was in quarto at Milan, in 1488. The title called Latino volgare. Shall we suppose, is, “ II FYOLOSTRATO, che tracta de lo that Chaucer followed a more complete innamoramento de Trono a Gryssida: copy of the FilosTRATO than that we et de molte altre infinite battaglie. Im- have at present, or one enlarged by some presso nella inclita cita de Milano par officious interpolater? The Parisian mamagistro Uldericho Scinzenzeler nell nuscript might perhaps elear these diffianno M.ccccLxXXXVIII. a di xxvii di mese culties. In Bennet library at Cambridge, Septembre.” It is in the octave stanza. there is a manuscript of Chaucer's TroiThe editor of the CANTERBURY Tales LUS, elegantly written, with a frontisinforms me, that Boccacio himself, in piece beautifully illuminated, lxi.his DECAMERON, has made the same ho ADDITIONS.] nourable mention of this poem as of the Bibl. p.793. col.2. Compare Lengl. THESEIDA : although without acknow. Bibl. Rom. ii. p. 253. ledging either for his own. In the In e Chaucer however claims no merit troduction to the Sixth Day, he says, of invention in this poem. He invokes that “ Dioneo insieme con Lauretta Clio to favour him with rhymes only; de TROILE ET DI CRISEIDA cominciarono and adds, cantare.” Just as, afterwards, in the conclusion of the Seventh Day, he says,

To everie lover I me' excuse that the same “ Dioneo et Fiametta gran

That of no sentiment I this endite pezzi cantarono insieme d'ARCITA ET DI

But out of latin in my tonge it write. PALAMONE.” See Cantere. T. vol. iv. L. ii. v. 10. seq. But Sir Francis Kip. 85. iii. p. 311.

Chaucer appears to naston who translated TROILUS ANDCREShave been as much indebted to Boccacio SEIDE (1635.) into Latin rhymes, says, in his Trolus AND CRESSEIDE, as in his that Chaucer in this poem “ has taken the KNIGHTES TALE. At the same time we liberty of his own inventions." In the must observe, that there are several long mean time, Chaucer, by his own refepassages, and even episodes, in TroiLUS, rences, seems to have been studious of of which no traces appear in the Filos- seldom departing from Lollius. In one TRATO. Chaucer speaks of himself as a place, he pays him a compliment, as an translator out of Latin, B. ii. 14. And author whose excellencies he could not he calls his author LoLlius, B. i. 994— reach. L. iii. v. 1330. 42!. and B.v. 1652. The latter of these But sothe is, though I can not tellen all, two passages is in the PHILOSTRATO: but As can mine author of his excellence. the former, containing Petrarch's sonnet, is not. And when Chaucer says, See also L. iii. 576. 1823. he translates from

f L. ult. v. 1785.

we must

And whan that he in chambre was alone,
He down upon his beddis fete him sette,
And first he gan to sikes, and efte to grone,
And thought aie on her so withoutin lette:
That as he satte and woke, his spirit mette h
That he her saugh, and temple, and all the wise i

Right of her loke, and gan it newe avise. There is not so much nature in the sonnet to Love, which follows. It is translated from Petrarch; and had Chaucer followed his own genius, he would not have disgusted us with the affected gallantry and exaggerated compliments which it extends through five tedious stanzas. The doubts and delicacies of a young girl disclosing her heart to her lover, are exquisitely touched in this comparison.

And as the newe abashid nightingale
That stintithm first, when she beginith sing,
When that she herith any herdis" tale,
Or in the hedgis anie wight stirring,
And after sikiro doth her voice outring;
Right so Cresseidè when that her drede stent

Opened her herte and told him her intent. 9 The following pathetic scene may be selected from many others. Troilus seeing Cresside in a swoon, imagines her to be dead. He unsheaths his sword with an intent to kill himself, and utters these exclamations.

And thou, cite, in which I live in wo,
And thou Priam, and brethren al ifere',
And thou, my mother, farwel, for I go:
And, Atropos, make ready thou my bere:
And thou Creseide, O sweet hertè dere,
Receive thou now my spirit, would he say,
With swerd at hert all redy for to dey.

[blocks in formation]
« הקודםהמשך »