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yet not as an early historian, but as the first writer of a system of the metrical art, “ of metre, of ryme, and of cadence." We smile, when Hector in Shakespeare quotes Aristotle : but Gower gravely informs his reader, that Ulysses was a clerke, accomplished with a knowledge of all the sciences, a great rhetorician and magician: that he learned rhetoric of Tully, magic of Zoroaster, astronomy of Ptolomy, philosophy of Plato, divination of the prophet Daniel, proverbial instruction of Solomon, botany of Macer, and medicine of Hippocrates". And in the seventh book, Aristotle, or the philosophre, is introduced reciting to his fcholar Alexander the great, a disputation between a Jew and a Pagan, who meet between Cairo and Babylon, concerning their respective religions : the end of the story is to fhew the cunning, cruelty, and ingratitude of the Jew, which are at last deservedly punished“. But I believe Gower's apology must be, that he took this narrative from some christian legend, which was feigned, for a religious purpose, at the expence of all probability and propriety.
The only classic Roman writers which our author cites are Virgil, Ovid, Horace, and Tully. Among the Italian poets, one is surprised he should not quote Petrarch : he mentions Dante only, who in the rubric is called a certain poet of Italy named Dante," quidam poeta Italia qui DANTE vocabatur'. He appears to have been well acquainted with the Homelies of pope Gregory the great', which were translated into Italian, and printed at Milan, so early as the year 1479. I can hardly decypher, and must therefore be excused from transcribing, the names of all the renowned authors which our author has quoted in alchemy, astrology, magic, palmistry, geomancy, and other branches of the occult philo
c Lib. vi. f. 76. b. col. 1.
* Lib. vii. f. 154. b. col. 1.
& Prolog. f. z. b. col. 1, Lib. v. f. 93. a. col. 1. 2. f.
94. a. col. é.
lophy. Among the astrological writers, he mentions Noah, Abraham, and Mofes, But he is not sure that Abraham was an author, having never seen any of that patriarch's works : and he prefers Trismegistus to Mofes “. Cabalistical tracts were however extant, not only under the names of Abraham, Noah, and Moses, but of Adam, Abel, and Enoch'. He mentions, with particular regard, Ptolomy's ALMAGEST; the grand source of all the superstitious notions propagated by the Arabian philosophers concerning the science of divination by the stars*, These infatuations seem to have completed their triumph over human credulity in Gower's age, who probably was an ingenious adept in the false and frivolous speculations of this admired species of study.
Gower, amidst his graver literature, appears to have been a great reader of romances. The lover, in speaking of the gratification which his passion receives from the sense of hearing, fays, that to hear his lady speak is more delicious, than to feast on all the dainties that could be compounded by a cook of Lombardy. They are not so restorative
As bin the wordes of hir mouth;
These are elegant verses. To hear her sing is paradise. Then he adds,
Lib. vii. f. 134. b. col. 1. vii. f. 149. b. col. 1.
* See fupr. vol. i. p. 425. p. 393. Notes, h. And Morhof. Polyhist. tom. ii. p. 455. seq. edit.1747
Mabillon mentions, in a manufcript of the ALMAGEST written before the
year 1240, a drawing of Ptolomy, bolding
| She chuses.
Full oft tyme it falleth so,
And so hope comith in at last". The romance of Idoyne and AMADAS is recited as a favourite history among others, in the prologue to a collection of legends called CURSOR MUNDI, translated from the French'. I have already observed our poet's references to Sir LANCELOT's romance.
Our author's account of the progress of the Latin language is extremely curious. He supposes that it was invented by the old Tuscan prophetess Carmens; that it was reduced to method, to composition, pronunciation, and prosody, by the grammarians Aristarchus, Donatus, and Didymus : adorned with the Aowers of eloquence and rhetoric by Tully: then enriched by translations from the Chaldee, Arabic, and Greek languages, more especially by the version of the Hebrew bible into Latin by saint Jerom, in the fourth century: and that at length, after the labours of many celebrated writers, it received its final consummation in Ovid, the poet of lovers. At the mention of Ovid's name, the poet, with the dexterity and address of a true master of
9 Lib. vi. f. 133. a. col. 2.
transition, seizes the critical moment of bringing back the dialogue to its proper argument :
The Confessio AMANTIS was most probably written after Chaucer's TROILUS AND CRESSIDA. At the close of the poem, we are presented with an assemblage of the most illustrious lovers'. Together with the renowned heroes and heroines of love, mentioned either in romantic or classical history, we have David and Bathsheba, Sampson and Dalila, and Solomon with all his concubines. Virgil, also, Socrates, Plato, and Ovid, are enumerated as lovers. Nor must we be furprised to find Aristotle honoured with a place in this gallant groupe: for whom, says the poet, the queen of Greece made such a fyllogifm as destroyed all his logic. But, among the rest, Troilus and Cressida are introduced; seemingly with an intention of paying a compliment to Chaucer's poem on their story, which had been submitted to Gower's correction". Although this famous pair had been also recently celebrated in Boccacio's FILOSTRATO'. And in ano-. ther place, speaking of his absolute devotion to his lady's will, he declares himself ready to acquiesce in her choice, whatsoever she shall command: whether, if when tired of dancing and caroling, she should chuse to play at chess, or read TROILUS AND CRESSIDA. This is certainly Chaucer's poem.
That when her list on nights wake
s Lib. iv. f. 77. b. col. 2.
See supr. vol. i. p. 385. w Clasp
Methinketh I touch not the floore;
That this poem was written after Chaucer's FLOURE AND LEAFE, may be partly collected from the following passage, which appears to be an imitation of Chaucer, and is no bad fpecimen of Gower's most poetical manner. Rosiphele, a beautiful princess, but setting love at defiance, the daughter of Herupus king of Armenia, is taught obedience to the laws of Cupid by seeing a vision of Ladies,
Whan come was the moneth of Maie,
* Gaiety, or way;
Lib. iv. f. 78. b. col. 1. 2 Arose.
a “ But a few of her women knew of this.” There where.