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before I proceed in my series, I will employ the remainder of this section in fixing the reader's attention on an important circumstance, now operating in its full extent, and therefore purposely reseryed for this period, which greatly contributed to the improvement of our literature, and consequently of our poetry : I mean the many tranflations of Latin books, especially classics, which the French had been making for about the two last centuries, and were still continuing to make, into their own language. In order to do this more effectually, I will collect into one view the most distinguifhed of these versions: not solicitous about those notices on this subject which have before occurred incidentally; nor scrupulous about the charge of anticipation, which, to prepare the reader, I shall perhaps incur by lengthening this enquiry, for the sake of comprehension, beyond the limits of the period juft assigned. In the mean time it may be pertinent to premise, that from the close communication which formerly subsisted between England and France, manuscript copies of many of these translations, elegantly written, and often embellished with the most splendid illuminations and curious miniatures, were presented by the translators or their patrons to the kings of England ; and that they accordingly appear at present among the royal manuscripts in the British Museum. Some of these, however, were transcribed, if not translated, by command of our kings; and others brought into England, and placed in the royal library, by John duke of Bedford, regent of France.
It is not consistent with my design, to enumerate the Latin legends, rituals, monastic rules, chronicles, and historical parts of the bible, such as the Book of Kings and the MACCABEES, which were looked upon as stories of chivalry *, translated by the French before the year 1200. These foon
* As “ Plusieurs Battailes des Roys d'Israel en contre les Philifiens et Assyriens, &c. W Brit. Muf. MSS. Reg. 19 D. 1. 7.
became obsolete: and are, besides, too deeply tinctured with the deplorable superstition and barbarity of their age, to bear a recital'. I will therefore begin with the thirteenth century. In the year 1210, Peter Comestor's 'HISTORIA SchoLASTICA, a fort of breviary of the old and new testament, accompanied with elaborate expositions from Josephus and many, pagan writers, a work compiled at Paris about the year 1175, and so popular, as not only to be taught in schools, but even to be publicly read in the churches with its glosses, was translated into French by Guiart des Moulins, a canon of Aire'. About the same time, some of the old translations into French made in the eleventh century by Thibaud de Vernon, canon of Rouen, were retouched! and the Latin legends of many lives of saints, particularly of saint George, of Thomas a Beckett, and the martyrdom of saint Hugh, a child murthered in 1206 by a Jew at Lincoln , were reduced into French verse. These pieces, to which i must add a metrical version of the bible from Genesis to Hezekiah, by being written in rhyme, and easy to be sung, soon became popular, and produced the desired impression on the minds of the people. They were soon followed by the version of ÆGIDIUS DE REGIMINE PRINCIPUM ", by Henri de
y I must however except their LAPIDAIRE, a poem on precious stones, from the Latin of Marbodeus; and the BESTIAIRE, à set of metrical fables, from the Latin Efop. These however ought to be looked upon as efforts of their early poetry, rather than translations.
2 Or Le Mangeur, because he devoured the scriptures.
* The French was first published, without date or place, in two tomes. With old wood-cuts. Vossius says that the original was abridged by Gualter Hunte, an Englih Carmelite, about the year 1463. Hift. Lat. lib. iii. c.9. p. 197. edit. Amít. 1689. fol. It was translated into German rhymes about 1271. Sander. Bibl. Belg. pag. 285.
There are numerous and very sumptuous ma-
See Chaucer, PRIORES. T. p. 144.
• It is rather beside my purpose to speak particularly of some of the divine Offices now made French, and of the churchhymns.
" See modo supr. p. 39. And MSS. Reg. 15 E. vi. u. And ibid. 19 B. i. And ibid. 19 A. xx. “ Stephanus Fortis cle“ ricus fcripfit. An. 1395."
Gauchi. Dares Phrygius, The Seven SAGES OF ROME by Hebers', Eutropius', and Aristotle's SECRETUM SECRETORUM', appeared about the same time in French. To say nothing of voluminous versions of PANDECTS and feudal COUTUMES, Michael de Harnes translated Turpin’s CHARLEMAGNE in the year 1207'. It was into profe, in opposition to the practice which had long prevailed of turning Latin prose into French rhymes. This piece, in compliance with an age addicted to romantic fiction, our translator undoubtedly preferred to the more rational and sober Latin historians of
Charlemagne and of France, such as Gregory of Tours, Fredegaire, and Eginhart. In the year 1245, the SPECULUM
MUNDI, a system of theology, the seven sciences, geography, and natural philosophy“, was translated at the instance of the duke of Berry and Auvergne'. Among the royal manuscripts, is a sort of system of pious tracts, partly of ritual offices, compiled in Latin by the confessors of Philip in 1279, translated into French ”; which translation queen Isabel ordered to be placed in the church of faint Innocents at Paris, for the use of the people.
The fourteenth century was much more fertile in French translation. The spirit of devotion, and indeed of this species of curiosity, raised by faint Louis, after a short intermission, rekindled under king John and Charles the fifth. I pass over the prose and metrical translations of the Latin bible in the years 1343, and 1380, by Macè, and Raoul de
· See fupr. vol. i. p. 462.
He was early translated into Greek at Constantinople.
8 Brit. Muf. MSS. Reg. 20 B. iv. 3.
" See a French JUSTINIAN, &c. Brit. Mus. MSS. Reg. 20 D. ix. 2. 3. A manuscript before 1300.
iCaxton printed a life of CHARLES The Great, 1485.
k One of the most eminent astronomers in this work is the poet Virgil.
I know not when the Le Livre ROYALL, a sort of manual, was made French. The Latin original was compiled at the command of Philip le Bell, king of France, in 1279. Pref. to Caxton's Engl. Translat.
i See Brit. Muf. MSS. Reg. 19 A. ix. This version was translated into English, and printed, by Caxton, 1480.
on Brit. Muf. MSS. Reg. 19 C. ii.
Prelles. Under those reigns, saint Austin, Caffianus, and Gregory the Great", were translated into French; and they are the first of the fathers that appeared in a modern tongue. Saint Gregory's Homelies are by an anonymous translatoro. His DIALOGUES were probably translated by an English ecclefiaftic?. Saint Austin's DE CIVITATE DEI was translated by Raoul de Presles, who acted professedly both as confessor and translator to Charles the fifth , about the year 1374. During the work he received a yearly pension of fix hundred livres from that liberal monarch, the first founder of a royal library in France, at whose command it was undertaken. It is accompanied with a prolix commentary, valuable only at present as preserving anecdotes of the opinions, manners, and literature, of the writer's age ; and from which I am tempted to give the following specimen, as it strongly illuftrates the antient state of the French stage, and demonstrably proves that comedy and tragedy were now known only by name in France'. He obferves, that Comedies are so denominated from a room of entertainment, or from those places, in which banquets were accustomed to be closed with singing, called in Greek Conias: that they were like those jeux or plays, which the minstrel, le Chanteur, exhibits in halls or other public places, at a feast : and that they were properly styled INTERLUDIA, as being presented between the two courses. Tragedies, he adds, were spectacles, resembling those personages which at this day we see acting in the LIFE
* See Brit. Muf. MSS. Reg. 15 D. v. 1. 2.
° Brit. Mus. MSS. Reg. 15 D. v. 1. 20 D. v.
p It is supposed that they were rendered by an Englishman, or one living in England, as the translator's name is marked by an A. And as there is a prayer in the manuscript to faint Fridefwide, an Oxford saint. Mem. Litt. xvii. P is very rare that we find the French tranHating from us. Yet Fauchett mentions a
French poetess, named Marie de France,
9 Brit. Muf. MSS. Reg. 17 F. iii. With
35. 4to. It
and Passion of a matyr'. This fhews that only the religious drama now subsisted in France. But to proceed, Cassianus's COLLATIONES PATRUM, or the CONFERENCES, was translated by John Goulain, a Carmelite monk, about 1363. Two translations of that theological romance Boethius's ConSOLATION, one by the celebrated Jean de Meun, author of the ROMANCE OF The Rose, existed before the year 1340. Others of the early Latin christian writers were ordered to be turned into French by queen Jane, about 1332. But finding that the archbishop of Rouen, who was commissioned to execute this arduous task, did not understand Latin, she employed a mendicant friar. About the same period, and under the same patronage, the LEGENDA AUREA, written by James de Voragine, archbishop of Genoa, about the year 1260, that inexhaustible repository of religious fable', was translated by Jehan de Vignay, a monk hospitalar". The same translator gave also a version of a famous ritual entitled SPECULUM ECCLESIÆ, or the MIRROUR OF THE CHURCH, of Củess MORALISED, written by Jacobus de Casulis": and of Odoricus's VOYAGE INTO THE East*. Thomas Benoit, a prior of faint Genevieve gratified the religious with a tra llation into a more intelligible language of some Latin liturgic pieces about the year 1330. But his chief performance was a translation into French verse of the Rule OF SAINT Austin. This he undertook merely on a principle of affection and charity, for the edification of his pious brethren who did not understand Latin.
• Ch, viii. liv. ii.
dated, and printed, 1483. While it was In the year 1555, the learned Claud. printing, William lord Arundel gave CaxEspence was obliged to make a public re ton annually a buck in summer and a doe cantation for calling it LEGENDA FERREA. in winter. Thuan. sub. ann. Laun. Hift. Gymnas. w Brit. Muf. MSS. Reg. 19 C. xi. 1. Navarr. p. 704. 297:
This version was translated in English, and • Brit. Muf. Mss. Reg. 19 B. xvii. printed, by Caxton, 1474. The copy was written 1382. This version * Ibid. 19 D. i. 4. 5. Ceems to be the same which Caxton trar