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The siege of Troy, the grand object of the poem, is not conducted according to the classical art of war. All the military machines, invented and used in the Crusades, are assembled to demolish the bulwarks of that city, with the addition of great guns. Among other implements of destruction borrowed from the holy war, the Greek fire, first discovered at Constantinople, with which the Saracens so greatly annoyed the Christian armies, is thrown from the walls of the besieged. a
Nor are we only presented in this piece with the habits of feudal life, and the practices of chivalry. The poem is enriched with a multitude of oriental fictions, and Arabian traditions. Medea gives to Jason, when he is going to combat the brazen bulls, and to lull the dragon who guarded the golden fleece asleep, a marvellous ring; in which was a gem whose virtue could destroy the efficacy of poison, and render the wearer invisible. It was the same sort of precious stone, adds our author, which Virgil celebrates, and which Venus sent her son Eneas that he might enter Carthage unseen.
Another of Medea's presents to Jason, to assist him in this perilous atchievement, is a silver image, or talisman, which defeated all the powers of incantation, and was framed according to principles of astronomy. The hall of king Priam is illuminated at night by a prodigious carbuncle, placed among saphires, rubies, and pearls, on the crown of a golden statue of Jupiter, fifteen cubits high. In the court of the palace, was a tree made by magic, whose trunk was twelve cubits high; the branches, which overshadowed distant plains, were alternately of solid gold and silver, blossomed with gems of various hues, which were renewed every day. Most of these extravagancies, and a thousand more, are in Guido de Colonna, who lived when this mode of fabling was at its height. But in the fourth book, Dares Phrygius is particularly cited for a description of Priam's palace, which seemed to be founded by FAYRIE,
B. ii. c. xviii. See supr. vol. i. p. 169. 6 B. ii, c. xviii. In Caxton's Troy-Book, Hercules is
c B. ii. c. xi. said to make the fire artificiall as well as Cacus, &c. ii. 24.
or enchantment; and was paved with crystal, built of diamonds, saphires, and emeralds, and supported by ivory pillars, surmounted with golden images'. This is not, however, in Dares. The warriors who came to the assistance of the Trojans, afford an ample field for invention. One of them belongs to a region of forests ; amid the gloom of which wander
many monstrous beasts, not real, but appearances or illusive images, formed by the deceptions of necromancy, to terrify the traveller 5. King 'Epistrophus brings from the land beyond the Amazons, a thousand knights; among which is a terrible archer, half man and half beast, who neighs like a horse, whose eyes sparkle like a furnace, and strike dead like lightning". This is Shakespeare's DREADFUL SAGITTARYI. The Trojan horse, in the genuine spirit of Arabian philosophy, is formed of brass); of such immense size, as to contain a thousand soldiers.
Colonna, I believe, gave the Trojan story its romantic additions. It had long before been falsified by Dictys and Dares; but those writers, misrepresenting or enlarging Homer, only invented plain and credible facts. They were the basis of Colonna: who first filled the faint outlines of their fabulous history with the colourings of eastern fancy, and adorned their scanty forgeries with the gorgeous trappings of Gothic chivalry. Or, as our author expresses himself in his Prologue, speaking of Colonna's improvements on his originals.
For he ENLUMINETH, by crafte and cadence,
a FRESHE COLOURE
! Cap. xxvi. & B. ii. c. xviii. Grecian heroes (B. i. c. xv.] is from
h Šo described by Colonna, Signat. Dares through Colonna, Daret. Hist. n 4. seq.
c. xii. p. 156. seq. i Ibid. And B. iii. c. xxiv. The Sa j In Dictys “tabulatis extruitur liggittary is not in Dictys or Dares. In neis.” lib. v. c. x. p. 113. In Gower he whom also, these warriors are but barely is also a hors of brasse. Conf. Amant. named, and are much fewer in number. lib. i. fol. xiüi. a. col. 1. From CoSee Dat. cap. xviii. p. 161. Dict. lib. ii. lonna, Signat. t 4. Here also are Shakecap. XXXV. p. 51. The description of the speare's fabulous names of the gates of persons of Helen, and of the Trojan and 'Troy. Signat. d 4. seq.
Clonthed with these new inventions, this favourite tale descended to later times. Yet it appears, not only with these, but with an infinite variety of other embellishments, not fabricated by the fertile genius of Colonna, but adopted from French enlargements of Colonna, and incorporated from romances on other subjects, in the French RecuYEL OF Troy, written by a French ecclesiastic, Rauol le Feure, about the year 1464, and translated by Caxton.'
The description of the city of Troy, as newly built by king Priam, is extremely curious; not for the capricious incredibilities and absurd inconsistencies which it exhibits m, but because it conveys anecdotes of antient architecture, and especially of that florid and improved species, which began to grow fashionable in Lydgate's age. Although much of this is in Colonna. He avoids to describe it geometrically, having never read Euclid. He says that Priam procured, ,
Eche carver, and curious joyner,
That he sent for such as could 6
'grave, groupe, or carve, were sotyll in their fantasye, good devysours, marveylous of castinge, who could raise a wall with batayling and crestes marciall, every imageour in entayle", and every portreyour who could paynt the work with fresh hewes, who could pullish alabaster, and make an ymage.”
! As for instance, Hercules having given by Dares Phrygius and Dictys killed the eleven giants of Cremona, Cretensis. builds over them a vast tower, on which m It is three days journey in length he placed eleven images of metal, of the and breadth. The walls are two hunsize and figure of the giants. B. ii. c. 24. dred cubits high, of marble and alabasSomething like this, I think, is in Ama- ter, and machiocolated. At every angle dis de Gaul. Robert Braham, in the was a crown of gold, set with the richest EPISTLE TO THr. READER, prefixed to the gems. There were great guns in the edition of Lydgate's Troy-Book of 1555, towers. On each turret were figures of is of opinion, that the fables in the French savage and monstrous beasts in brass, RECUYEL ought to be ranked with the The gates were of brass, and each has a trifeling tales and barruyne leurdries of portcullis. The houses were all uniform, Robyn Hope and Beves of Hampton, and of marble, sixty cubits high. and are not to be compared with the Intag.ia. faythful and trewe reports of this history
And yf I shulde rehersen by and by,
Smote on the goldè that was burned bright. The sides of every street were covered with freshe alures ? of marble, or cloisters, crowned with rich and lofty pinnacles, and fronted with tabernacular or open work", vaulted like the dormitory of a monastery, and called deambulatories, for the accommodation of the citizens in all weathers.
And every house ycovered was with lead;
With spoutès thorough, &c.—
And the walles, within and eke without,
Wrought were with berylls and of clere crystall.
mentions the ladies standing upe vignettes.
(upon) the alurs of the castle," to see a Allies, or covert-ways. Lat. Alura. tournament. See supr. vol. 1. p. 54. viz. “Alura quæ ducit a coquina con The word Alura is not in Du Cange. ventus, usque ad cameram prioris." ' Like the latticed stone-work, or Hearne's OTTERR. Præf. Append. p. cxi. cancelli, of a Gothic shrine. Where Hearne derives it from Ala, a . Said to have been invented by Marwing, or side. Rather from Aller, whence chion of Arezzo. Walpole, ANECD. Allée, Fr. Alley. Robert of Gloucester Paint. i. p. 111.
told, that in Studley castle in Shropshire, the windows, so late as the reign of Elizabeth, were of beryl.
The account of the Trojan theatre must not be omitted, as it displays the imperfect ideas of the stage, at least of dramatic exhibition, which now prevailed; or rather, the absolute inexistence of this sort of spectacle. Our author supposes, that comedies and tragedies were first represented at Troy. He defines a comedy to begin with complaint and to end with gladnesse : expressing the actions of those only who live in the lowest condition. But tragedy, he informs us, begins in prosperity, and ends in adversity: shewing the wonderful vicissitudes of fortune which have happened in the lives of kings and mighty conquerours. In the theatre of Troy, he adds, was a pulpit, in which stood a poet, who rehearsed the noble dedes that were historial of kynges, prynces, and worthy emperours; and, above all, related those fatal and sudden catastrophes, which they sometimes suffered by murther, poison, conspiracy, or other secret and unforeseen machinations.
And this was tolde and redde by the poete
Atween his ditees and their countenaunce. Harrison's Descript. Brit. Cap. bowyers, fletchers, makers of trappings, xii. p. 188. The occupations of the citi- banners, standards, penons, and for the zens of Troy are mentioned. There fielde freshe and gaye GETOURS. I do not were goldsmiths, jewellers, embroiderers, precisely understand the last word. Perweavers of woollen and linen, of cloth, haps it is a sort of ornamented armour of gold, damask, sattin, velvet, sendel, or for the legs. a thin silk like cypress, and double sa All that follows on this subject, is myte, or satin. Smiths, who forged poll- not in Colonna. axes, spears, and quarrel-heads, or cross u “ That which the poet sung, stand. bow darts shaped square.
Armourers, ing in the pulpit."