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ments of style, and other arts of composition, which an attention to the genuine models would have afforded, but by being written without any ideas of elegance, and in the most barbarous phraseology. Yet productive as they were of these and other inconvenient consequences, they were not without their use in the rude periods of literature. By gradually weaning the minds of readers from monkish legends, they introduced a relish for real and rational history; and kindling an ardour of inquiring into the transactions of past ages, at length awakened a curiosity to obtain a more accurate and authentic knowledge of important events by searching the original authors. Nor are they to be entirely neglected in modern and more polished ages. For, besides that they contain curious pictures of the credulity and ignorance of our ancestors, they frequently preserve facts transcribed from books which have not descended to posterity. It is extremely probable, that the plan on which they are all constructed, that of deducing a perpetual history from the creation to the writer's age, was partly taken from Ovid's Metamorphoses, and partly from the Bible.
In the mean time there are three histories of a less general nature, which Gower seems more immediately to have followed in some of his tales. These are Colonna's Romance of Troy, the Romance of Sir Lancelot, and the Gesta ROMANORUM.
From Colonna's Romance, which he calls Tbe Tale of Troie, The Boke of Troie', and sometimes The Cronike", he has taken
& Of Palamedes and Nauplius, “ The In the story of the Theban chief Ca. boke of Troie whoso rede." Lib. ii. fol. 52. paneus, “ This knight as the CRONIKE b. col. 2. The Atory of Jason and Medea, ã seine." Lib. 1. f. 18. b. col. 2. Of "' whereof the tale in speciall is in the Achilles and Teucer, “In a CRONIQUE I • boke of Troie writte.” Lib. v. fol. 101. as fynde thus.” Lib. iii. fol. 62. a. col. 1.
Of the Syrens seen by Ulysses, Of Peleus and Phocus, “As the CRONIQUE " which in the tale of Troie I finde.” 'Lib. • seithe.” Lib. iii. f. 61. b. col. 1. Of Of the eloquence of
Ulyffes and Penelope, “ In a CRONIQUE Ulysses, “ As in the boke of Troie is “ Í finde writte.” Lib. iv. f. 63. b. col. 2. tv funde.” Lib. vü. f. 150. a. col. 1. He mentions also the CRONIQUE for tales &c. &c. See Supr, vol. a. p. 127.
of other nations.“ In the CRONIQUE
a. col. 2.
j. f. io. b. col. 1.
all that relates to the Trojan and Grecian story, or, in Milton's language, The Tale of TROY DIVINE. This piece was first printed at Cologne in the year 1477'. At Colonia an Italian translation appeared in the same year, and one at Venice in 1481. It was translated into Italian fo early as 1324, by Philipp Ceffi a Florentine *. By some writers it is called the British as well as the Trojan story'; and there are manuscripts in which it is entitled the history of Medea and Jason". In most of the Italian translations it is called LA STORIA DELLA GUERRA DI TROJA. This history is repeatedly called the TROIE BOKE by Lydgate, who translated it into English verse".
As to the romance of fir Lancelot, our author, among others on the subject, refers to a volume of which he was the hero: perhaps that of Robert Borron, altered soon afterwards by Godefroy de Leigny, under the title of le ROMAN DE LA CHARETTE, and printed with additions at Paris by Antony Verard, in the year 1494.
" as I finde, Cham was he which first the “ letters fonde, and wrote in Hebrew “ with his honde, of naturall philosophie." Lib. iv. fol. 76. a col. 1. For Darius's four questions, Lib. vii. fol. 151. b. col. 1. For Perillus's brazen bull. f. &c. &c. See below.
In quarto. HISTORIA TROJANA, a Guidone de Columpna Mefanenfi Judice edita 1287. Impresa per Arnoldum Therburnem Coloniæ commorantem, 1477. Die penult. Nov. I am mistaken in what I have said, supr. vol. i. p. 126. There is another edition at Oxford by Rood, 1480, 4-to. Two at Strasburgh 1486, and 1489. fol. Ames calls him Columella. Hist. Print. p. 204.
* See Haym's Bibl. Italian. p. 35. edit. Venez. 1741. 4-to. I am not sure whether Haym's Italian translation in the year 1477 is not the Latin of that year. They are both in quarto, and by Arnoldo Terbone. A
Florence edition of the translation in 1610,
i Sandius and Hallerwood, in their Sup-
See also Fabyan and other historians.
m See supr. vol. i. p. 138. Notes. I will occur again under Lydgate.
Tragedies of Bochas, B. i. ch. xvi. How the translatoure wrote a booke of the frege of Troy, called TROYE BOXE. And ib. St. 7. 17. 20. edit. Wayland. fol. XXX.. b. xxxina. And in Lydg. Destr. of Troy
For if thou wilt the bokes rede
How that a Knight shall undertake'. He alludes to a story about sir Tristram, which he supposes to be universally known, related in this romance.
In everie mans mouth it is
Er that kyng Marke, &c '.
Ther was Tristram which was beloved
With his lady'. The oldest edition of the Gesta ROMANORUM, a manuscript of which I have seen in almost Saxon characters, I believe to be this. Incipiunt. Hystorie NOTABILES, colle&te ex Gestis RoMANORUM, et quibusdam aliis libris cum applicationibus eorundem*.
• Lib. iv. f. 74. a. col. 2.
• Princip. “ Pompeius regnavit dives, “ &c. Fin.” “ Quidam vero princeps
“ nomine Cleonicus, &c. Karislimi, ifte
princeps elt xps, &c. Ofcula blandientis, “ &c.” It is in folio, in double columns, without initials, pages, fignatures, or catchwords. Anglie is mentioned in chapters,
It is without date or place, but fupposed by the critics in typographical antiquities to have been printed before or about the year 1473. Then followed a second edition at Louvain by John de Westfalia, with this title: Ex Gestis ROMANORUM HISTORIE NOTABILES de viciis virtutibusque tractantes cum applicationibus moralisatis et mysticis. At the end this colophon appears: Gesta ROMANORUM cum quibusdam aliis historiis eisdem annexis ad moralitates dilucide redueta bic finem babent. Quæ diligenter, correctis aliorum viciis, impressit Joannes de Westfalia, alma in Univers. Louvanienh'. This edition has twenty-nine chapters more than there are in the former: and the first of these additional chapters is the story of Antiochus, related in our author. It is probably of the year 1473. Another followed soon afterwards, by Gestis ROMANORUM HISTORIE NOTABILES morali zata per Girardum Lieu. Gouda, 1480". The next " is at Louvain, Gesta ROMANORUM, cum applicationibus moralisatis ac mysticis.---At the end.---Ex Gestis ROMANORUM cum pluribus applicatis HYSTORIIs de virtutibus et vitiis mistice ad intelle&tum tranfumptis recolletorii finis. Anno nostræ salutis 1494. In die sancti Adriani martyris*.
It was one of my reasons for giving these titles and colophons so much at large, that the reader might more fully comprehend the nature and design of a performance which operated so powerfully on the present state of our poetry. Servius says that the Eneis was sometimes called GESTA POPULI ROMANIY. Ammianus Marcellinus, who wrote about the year 450, mentions a work called the GestorUM VOLUMEN, which according to custom, was folemnly recited to
the emperour". Here perhaps we may perceive the ground-
In this mixture of moralisation and narrative, the Gesta
6. Yet he adds, that the GEstes took it from Valerius Maximus. The story of Tarquin and his son Arrous is ushered in with this line, “ So as these olde Gestes seyne ." The tale of Antiochus, as I have hinted, is in the Gesta ROMANORUM; although for some parts of it Gower was perhaps indebted to Godfrey's Pantheon abovementioned". The foundation of Shakespeare's story of the three casketts in the Merchant OF VENICE, is to be found in this favourite collection : this is likewise in our author, yet in a different form, who cites a Cronike " for his authority. I make no apology for giving the passage somewhat at large, as the source of this elegant little
" In a
z Imperatori de more recitatum," Hift. xxix. i. In the title of the SAINT ALBANS CHRONICLE, printed 1483, Ti. tus Livyus de Gestis ROMANORUM is recited.
a Lib. viii. f. 153. a. col. 1. And in
6 Lib. v. f. 118. a. col. 2.
e He refers to a CRONIKE for other
NIKE it telleth us." Lib. vii. f. 165. a. col. 2.
Of the translation of the Ro. man empire to the Lombards.
“ made an emperour anon, whose name, the
of Rome. " As in CRONIKE it
NIKE hath autorized.” Lib. vii. f. 154.
emperour, &c.” Lib. ii. f.41. b. col. 1.
Of the empee