« הקודםהמשך »
And dryeth up the bytter terys wete
Me to enspire*! -
In another part of this poem, where he collects arguments to convince unbelievers that Christ might be born of a pure virgin, he thus speaks of God's omnipotence.
And he that made the high and cristal heven,
That were in wynter dede and eke droupynge, "float; drop.
is fu fayre igraven on a red rose, in Burnished with gold. So in Lyd- letiris of BOURNID gold. MSS. Harl. gate's Legend on Dan Joos a monk, 2251. 39. fol. 71. b. taken from Vincentius Bellovacensis's
y of the sun. Speculum HISTORIALE, the name Maria
Of bawmè all yvoyd and lestyhede;
Whereof is made the sothfastb breade of lyfe ? We are surprised to find verses of so modern a cast as the following at such an early period ; which in this sagacious age we should judge to be a forgery, was not their genuineness authenticated, and their antiquity confirmed, by the venerable types of Caxton, and a multitude of unquestionable manuscripts.
Like as the dewe discendeth on the rose
With sylver drops.d Our Saviour's crucifixion is expressed by this remarkable metaphor.
Whan he of purple did his baner sprede
To save mankynde. Our author, in the course of his panegyric on the Virgin Mary, affirms, that she exceeded Hester in meekness, and Judith in wisdom; and in beauty, Helen, Polyxena, Lucretia, Dido, Bathsheba, and Rachel'. It is amazing, that in an age of the most superstitious devotion so little discrimination should have been made between sacred and profane characters and incidents. But the common sense of mankind had not yet attained a just estimate of things. Lydgate, in another piece, has versified the rubrics of the missal, which he applies to the god Cupid: and declares, with how much delight he frequently meditated on the holy legend of those constant martyrs, who were not
afraid to suffer death for the faith of that omnipotent divinity . There are instances, in which religion was even made the instrument of love. Arnaud Daniel, a celebrated troubadour of the thirteenth century, in a fit of amorous despair, promises to found a multitude of annual masses, and to dedicate perpetual tapers to the shrines of saints, for the important purpose of obtaining the affections of an obdurate mistress.
6 MSS. Fairfax, xvi. Bibl. Bodl.
BUT Lydgate's principal poems are the Fall of Princes, the SIEGE OF THEBES, and the DESTRUCTION OF Troy. Of all these I shall speak distinctly.
About the year 1360, Boccacio wrote a Latin history in ten books, entitled De Casibus VIRORUM ET FEMINARUM ILLUSTRIUM. Like other chronicles of the times, it commences with Adam, and is brought down to the author's age. Its last grand event is John king of France taken prisoner by the English at the battle of Poitiers, in the year 1359a. This book of Boccacio was soon afterwards translated into French, by one of whom little more seems to be known, than that he was named Laurence; yet so paraphrastically, and with so many considerable additions, as almost to be rendered a new work. Lau
* Printed at Ausbourg. And at Paris, tion into French, to amende, correct, and 1.544. fol. It is amazing, that Vossius declare, and not to spare thinges touched should not know the number of books shortly. Ibid. col. 2. Afterwards he calls of which this work consisted, and that it him this noble translatour. Ibid. b. col. 1. was ever printed. De Hist. Lat. lib. iii. In another place, where a panegyric on cap. ii. It was translated into Italian France is introduced, he says that this by Betussi, in Firenza, 1566. 8vo. passage is not Boccacio's, but added, 2 volum.
By one LAURENCE, which was transla• In Lydgate's PROLOGUE, B. i. fol. i.
tour a. col. 1. edit. ut infr.
Of this processe, to commende France ; He that sumtime did his diligence To prayse that lande was all his pleaThe boke of Bochas in French to translate
B. ix. ch. 28. fol. 31. a. col. 1. edit. ut Out of Latin, he called was LAURENCE. infr. Our author, in the Prologue above He says that Laurence (in his Prologue) cited, seems to speak as if there had been declares, that he avails himself of the a previous translation of Boccacio's book privilege of skilful artificers; who may
into French. Ut supr. a. col. 1. chaunge and turne, by good discretion,
Thus LAURENCE from him envy exshapes and forms, and newly them devise, cluded make and unmake, &c. And that old Though toforne him translated was this authors may be rendered more agreeable,
book. by being cloathed in new ornaments of But I suspect he only means, that Boclanguage, and improved with new in- cacio's original work was nothing more ventions. Ibid. a. col. 1. He adds, that than a collection or compilation from it was Laurence's design, in his transla- more ancient authors.
rence's French translation, of which there is a copy in the British Museum', and which was printed at Lyons in the year 1483d, is the original of Lydgate's poem. This Laurence or Laurent, sometimes called Laurent de Premierfait, a village in the diocese of Troies, was an ecclesiastic, and a famous translator. He also translated into French Boccacio's DECAMERON, at the request of Jane queen of Navarre: Cicero DE AMICITIA and DE SENECTUTE; and Aristotle's Oeconomics, dedicated to Louis de Bourbon, the king's uncle. These versions appeared in the year 1+14 and 1416° Caxton's TULLIUS OF OLD AGE, or DE SENECTUTE, printed in 1481, is translated from Laurence's French version. Caxton, in the postscript, calls him Laurence de primo facto.
Lydgate's poem consists of nine books, and is thus entitled in the earliest edition. “The Tragedies gathered by John Bochas of all such princes as fell from theyr estates throughe the mutability of fortune since the creacion of Adam until his time, &c. Translated into English by John Lidgate monke of Buryef.” The best and most authentic manuscript of this piece is in the British Museum; probably written under the inspection of the author, and perhaps intended as a present to Humphrey duke of Glocester, at whose gracious command the poem, as I have before hinted, was undertaken. It contains among numerous miniatures illustrating the several histories, portraits of Lydgate, and of another monk habited in black, perhaps an abbot of Bury, kneeling before a prince, who seems
• MSS. Harl. See also ibid. MSS. mentioned by the French antiquaries as Reg. 18 D. vii. And 16 G. v. And one of Laurence's translations. LydMSS. Bodl. F. 10. 2. [2465.) He is gate, in the Prologue above cited, obsaid to have translated this work in 1409. serves, that Laurence, who in cunyng MSS. Reg. ut supr. 20 C. iv.
did ercel, undertook this translation at • In folio. Bayle says, that a French the request of some eminent personages translation appeared at Paris, by Clau- in France, who had the interest of rhedius Vitart, in 1578. 8vo. Diction. Boc- torike at heart. Ut supr. a. col. 2. CACE. Note 8
Imprinted at London by John Waye He died in 1418. See Martene, land, without date, fol. He printed in Ampl. Collect. tom. ii. p. 1405. And the reign of Henry the Eighth. There Mem. de Litt. xvii. 759. 4to. Compare is a sınall piece by Lydgate, not condu Verdier, Biblioth. Fr. p. 72. And nected with this, entitled The Tragedy Bibl. Rom. ii. 291. It is extraordinary of princes that were LECHEROUS.
MSS. that the piece before us should not be Ashmol. 59. ii.