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levity and pieces of popular entertainment. His muse was of universal access; and he was not only the poet of his monastery, but of the world in general. If a disguising was intended by the company of goldsmiths, a mask before his majesty at Eltham, a may-game for the sheriffs and aldermen of London, a mumming before the lord mayor, a procession of pageants from the creation for the festival of Corpus Christi, or a carol for the coronation, Lydgate was consulted and gave the poetry".
About the year 1430, Whethamstede the learned and liberal abbot of saint Albans, being desirous of familiarising the history of his patron saint to the monks of his convent, employed Lyd gate, as it should seem, then a monk of Bury, to translate the Latin legend of his life in English rhymes. The chronicler who records a part of this anecdote seems to consider Lydgate's translation, as a matter of mere manual mechanism; for he adds, that Whethamstede paid for the translation, the writing, and illuminations, one hundred shillings. It was placed before the altar of the saint, which Whethamstede afterwards adorned with much magnificence, in the abbey church Y.
Our author's stanzas, called the DANCE OF DEATH, which he translated from the French, at the request of the chapter of saint Paul's, to be inscribed under the representation of Death leading all ranks of men about the cloister of their church in a curious series of paintings, are well known. But their history has not,
* See a variety of his pieces of this large portion of the anonymous rhymes kind, MSS. Ashmol. 59. ii. Stowe says, of his age. --The Coventry Plays bear that at the reception of Margaret queen no internal marks of Lydgate's hand.of Henry Sixth, several pageaunts, the Edit.) verses by Lydgate, were shewn at Paul's y Gest. Joh. Whethamst. ut supra, gate, in 1445. Hist. p. 385. See also p. cxvi. cxxvii. cxxiv. It is added, that MSS. Harl. 2251. 118. fol. 250. b. Whethamstede expended on the binding; The COVENTRY Play for Corpus Christi and other exterior ornaments of the maday, in the Cotton library, was very pro- nuscript, upwards of three pounds. Bale bably written by our author. Vespas. and Pitts say, that Whethamstede himD. viii. fol. [Mr. Ritson, in his Biblio- self made the translation. p. 584. 630. graphia Poetica, has furnished a list of It is in Trinity college at Oxford, MSS. 251 pieces written by Lydgate. Many 10. And in Lincoln cathedral, MSS. of them, however, are attributed to him 1. 57. Among Lydgate's works is reupon authority of no very early date, and cited, Vita S. Albani Martyris ad JÓR. FRUhe is doubtlessly made responsible for a MENTARIUM (Whethamstede] abbatem.
I believe, yet appeared. These verses, founded on a sort of spiritual masquerade, anciently celebrated in churches ?, were originally written by one Macaber in German rhymes, and were translated into Latin about the year 1460, by one who calls himself Petrus Desrey Orator. This Latin translation was published by Goldastus, at the end of the SPECULUM OMNIUM STATUUM TOTIUS ORBIS TERRARUM compiled by Rodericus Zamorensis, and printed at Hanau in the year 16136. But a French translation was made much earlier than the Latin, and written about the walls of saint Innocents cloister at Paris; from which Lydgate formed his English version . ? See supra, p. 43. Note h.
Spenser, that Georgius Æmylius pubA Dance or Death seems to be al- lished this Dance at Lyons, 1542; one luded to so early as in Pierce Plowman's year before Holbein's painting at Basil Visions, written about 1350.
appeared. Next, at the same place,
1547. 8vo. Death came driving after and al to dust pashed
[The most antient complete French Kongs, and KaisarS, KNIGHTS, and copy of La Danse MACable was printed
in folio at Lyons, in 1499, together with Popes.
some other short spiritual pieces, under b In 4to.
the title La Grand DANSE MACABRE des See the DAUNCE OF MACABRE, MSS. hommes et des femmes historiée, avec de Harl. 116. 9. fol. 129. And OBSERVA- beaux dits en Latin et huitains en FranTons on the Fairy Queen, vol. ii. çois, &c. To this work Erasmus alludes p. 116. seq. The DANCE OF Death, falsly in the third book of his Ratio Conciosupposed to have been invented by Hol- NANDI, where he says, “Quin et vulbein, is different from this, though gares rhetoristæ censuerunt hoc decus, founded in the same idea. It was paint- qui interdum versibus certo numero ed by Holbein in the Augustine monas- comprehensis, pro clausula, accinunt tery at Basil, 1543. But it appeared brevem et argutam sententiam, velut in much earlier. In the chronicle of Hart- Rhythmis quos Gallus quispiam edidit mannus Schedelius, Norimb, 1499. fol. in CoreaM Mortis.” tom. v. Opp: In the Quotidian Oftices of the church, pag. 1007. Naude calls this allegory, Paris, 1515. 8vo. And, in public build “ Chorea ab eximio Macabro edita. ings, at Minden, in Westphalia, so early Mascun. p. 224. I believe the first as 1383.
At Lubec, in the portico of Latin edition, that of Pierre Desrey saint Mary's church, 1463. At Dresden, which I have mentioned, was printed in the castle or palace, 1534. At Ama at Troyes in 1490, not 1460. The berg, 1525. At Leipsic, &c. Paul Chris French have an old poem, partly on tian Hilscher. has written a very learned the same idea, LA DANSE DES Aveuand entertaining German book on this Gles, under the conduct of Love, Forsubject, printed at Dresden, 1705. 8vo. tune, and Death, written by Pierre MiEngravings of Holbein's pictures at chault, about the year 1466. See MEM. Basil were published, curante Matthæo Acad. INSCRIPT. et BEL, LET. ii. 742. Meriano, at Francfort 1649, and 1725, And Goujet, Bibl. Fr, ix. 358. In De 4to. The German verses there ascribed, Bure's BIBLIOGRAPHIE INSTRUCTIVE, an appeared in Latin elegiacs, in Caspar older but less perfect edition of Le Danse Laudisman's DECENNALIA
Macabre is recited, printed at Paris in PEREGRINATIONIS, A.D. 1584. I have 1486, for Guyot Marcbant. fol. In this not mentioned in my observations on edition the French rhymes are said to
In the British Museum is a most splendid and elegant manuscript on vellum, undoubtedly a present to king Henry the Sixth. It contains a set of Lydgate's poems, in honour of saint Edmund the patron of his monastery at Bury. Besides the decoration of illuminated initials, and one hundred and twenty pictures of various sizes, representing the incidents related in the poetry, executed with the most delicate pencil, and exhibiting the habits, weapons, architecture, utensils, and many other curious particulars, belonging to the age of the ingenious illuminator, there are two exquisite portraits of the king, one of William Curteis abbot of Bury, and one of the poet Lydgate kneeling at saint Edmund's shrine. In one of the king's pictures, he is represented on his throne, crowned, and receiving this volume from the abbot kneeling: in another he appears as a child prostrate on a carpet at saint Edmund's shrine, which is richly delineated, yet without any idea of perspective or proportion. The figures of a great number of monks and attendants are introduced. Among the rest, two noblemen, perhaps the king's uncles, with bonnets, or caps, of an uncommon shape. It appears that our pious monarch kept his Christmas at this magnificent monastery, and that he remained here, in a state of seclusion from the world, and of an exemption from public cares, till the following Easter : and that at his departure he was created a brother of the chapter. It is highly probable, that this sumptuous book, the poetry of which was undertaken by Lydgate at the command of abbot Curteis, was previously prepared, and presented to his majesty during the royal visit, or very soon afterwards. The substance of the whole work is be by Michel Marot. tom. i. p. 512. Salisbury, MSS. Harl. 4826. 1. It was num. 8109. Bell. LETTR. He has cata- written 1426. Another of these drawings logued all the antient editions of this will be mentioned below. piece in French, which are many. Pierre f Fol, 6. Desrey above mentioned wrote a French & Curteis was abbot of Bury between romance called LA GENEALOGIE, on the years 1429 and 1445. It appears that Godfrey of Bouloign. Paris, 1511. fol. Lydgate was also commanded, “ Late ADDITIONS.)
charchyd in myn oold days," to make MSS. Harl. 2278. 4to.
an English metrical translation of De e There is an antient drawing, pro- Profundis, &c. To be hung against the bably coeval, of Lydgate presenting his walls of the abbey church. MSS. Harl. poem called the Pilgrim to the earl of 2255. 11. fol. 40. See the last stanza.
the life or history of saint Edmund, whom the poet calls the “precious charboncle of martirs alle h.” In some of the prefatory pictures, there is a description and a delineation of two banners, pretended to belong to saint Edmundi. One of these is most brilliantly displayed, and charged with Adam and Eve, the serpent with a human shape to the middle, the tree of life, the holy lamb, and a variety of symbolical ornaments. This banner our bard feigns to have been borne by his saint, who was a king of the East Angles, against the Danes: and he
prophesies, that king Henry, with this ensign, would always return victorious. The other banner, given also to saint Edmund, appears to be painted with the arms of our poets monastery, and its blazoning is thus described.
The other standard, ffeld sable, off colour ynde',
At Geynesburuhe for to sleyn kyng Sweyn. A sort of office, or service to saint Edmund, consisting of an antiphone, versicle, response, and collect, is introduced with these verses.
* The poet's Prayer to saint Edmund Fremund. fol. 69. b. But Lydgate has for his assistance in compiling his life, made many additions. It begins thus, fol. 9. The history begins thus, fol. 10. b.
Who han remembre the myracles merIn Saxonie whilom ther was a kyng
veilous Callid Alkmond of excellent noblesse. Which Crist Jhesu list for his seyntes
shewe. It seems to be taken from John of Tinmouth's SANCTILOGIUM, who flourished Compare MSS. Harl. 372. 1. 2. fol. 1. about the year 1360. At the end, con 25. 43. b. nected with saint Edmund's legend, and
i Fol. 2. 4.
1 blue. a part of the work, is the life of saint m See fol. 103. b. f. 104.
To all men present, or in absence,
Blyssyd Edmund, kyng, martyr, and virgyne.
Go littel book, be ferfull, quaak for drede,
For to appere in so hyhe presenceo. Lydgate's poem called the LYFE OF Our Lady, printed by Caxton P, is opened with these harmonious and elegant lines, which do not seem to be destitute of that eloquence which the author wishes to share with Tully, Petrarch, and Chaucer 4. He compares the holy Virgin to a star.
O thoughtfull herte, plonged in distresse
Downe from hevyn adawith' al our sorowe.-* sing; (say.)
byrthe of our most blessed Lady,” &c. • Fol. 118. b.
Without date. fol. Afterwards by RoP“ This book was compyled by Dan bert Redman, 1531. 4to. See MSS. John Lydgate monke of Burye, at the Harl. 629. fol. membran. excitation and styrrynge of the noble and • Cap. xxxiii. xxxiv. victorious prynce, Harry the Fyfthe, in hemisphere.
sphere. the honowre, glory and reverance of the affright, remove, (awakens. ]