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NE of the reasons which rendered the classic authors

of the lower empire more popular than those of a purer age, was because they were christians. Among these, no Roman writer appears to have been more studied and esteemed, from the beginning to the clofe of the barbarous centuries, than Boethius. Yet it is certain, that his allegorical personifications and his visionary philosophy, founded on the abstractions of the Platonic school, greatly concurred to make him a favourite. His CoNsOLATION of PhilosoPHY was translated into the Saxon tongue by king Alfred, the father of learning and civility in the midst of a rude and intractable people ; and illustrated with a commentary by Affer bishop of Saint David's, a prelate patronised by Alfred for his fingular accomplishments in literature, about the year 890. Bishop Grosthead is said to have left annotations on this admired fystem of morality. There is a very ancient manufcript of it in the Laurentian library, with an inscription prefixed in Saxon characters'. There are few of those distinguished ecclesiastics, whose erudition illuminated the thickest gloom of ignorance and superstition with uncommon lustre, but who either have cited this performance,

a It is observable, that this SPIRIT OF PERSONIFICATION tinctures the writings of some of the christian fathers, about, or rather before, this period. Most of the agents in the Shepherd of Hermas are ideal beings. An ancient lady converses with Hermas, and tells him that she is the CHURCH of God. Afterwards several virgins appear and discourse with him ; and when he defires to be informed who they are, he is told by the SHEPHERD-ANGEL,

that they are FAITH, ABSTINENCE, PATIENCE, CHASTITY, CONCORD, &c. Saint Cyprian relates, that the church appeared in a vision, in vifione per noétem, to Colerinus ; and commanded him to afsume the office of Reader, which he in humility had declined. Cyprian. Epift. xxxix. 'edit. Oxon. The church appearing as a woman they perhaps had from the fcripture, Rev. xii. 1. ESDRAS, &c. Mabillon. Itin. Ital. p. 221.

or

or honoured it with a panegyric. It has had many imitators. Eccard, a learned French Benedictine, wrote in imitation of this CONSOLATION OF PHILOSOPHY, a work in verse and prose containing five books, entitled the CONSOLATION OF THE MONKs, about the year 1120". John Gerson also, a doctor and chancellor of the university of Paris, wrote the CONSOLATION OF THEOLOGY in four books, about the year 1420 It was the model of Chaucer's TESTAMENT OF Love. It was translated into French and English before the year 1350%. Dante was an attentive reader of Boethius. In the PURGATORIO, Dante gives THEOLOGY the name of Beatrix his mistress, the daughter of Fulco Portinari, who very gravely moralises in that character. Being ambitious of following Virgil's steps in the descent of Eneas into hell, he introduces her, as a daughter of the empyreal heavens, bringing Virgil to guide him through that dark and dangerous region". Leland, who lived when true literature began to be restored, says that the writings of Boethius still continued to retain that high estimation, which they had acquired in the most early periods. I had almost forgot to, observe, that the ConsoLATION was translated into Greek by Maximus Planudes, the most learned and ingenious of the Constantinopolitan monks'.

c He is much commended as a catholic and philosopher by Hincmarus archbishop of Rheims, about the year 880. De Prædestinat. contr. Godeschalch. tom. i. 211. ii. 62. edit. Sirmond. And by John of Salisbury, for his eloquence and argument. Policrat. vii. 15. And by many other writers of the same class.

See Trithem. cap. 387. de S. E. And Illustr. Benedi&tin. ii. 107.

Opp. tom. i. p. 130. edit. Dupin. I think there is a French CONSOLATIO THEOLOGIÆ by one Cerisier.

See Haym, p. 199. 8 Beside John of Meun's French version of Boethius, printed at Lyons 1483, with

Vol. II.

a translation of Virgil by Guillaume le Roy, there is one by De Cis, or Thri, an old French poet. Matt. Annal. Typogr. i. p. 171. Francisc. a Cruce, Bibl. Gallic. p. 216. 247. It was printed in Dutch at Ghent, apud Arend de Keyser, 1485. fol. In Spanish at Valladolid, 1598, fol. See fupr. vol. i. p. 458. Polycarpus Leyserus, in that

very

scarce book De Poesi MEDII Ævi, [printed HALÆ, 1721, 8vo.] enumerates many curious old editions of Boethius, p. 95. 105.

h See PURGAT. Cant. xxx.

i Montfauc. Bibl. Coisin. p. 140. Of a Hebrew version, see Wolf. Bibl. Hebr.

tom. i. p. 229. 1092. 243. 354. 369. F

I can

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I can assign only one poet to the reign of king Henry the fourth, and this a translator of Boethius". He is called Johannes Capellanus, or john the Chaplain, and he translated into English verse the treatise DE CONSOLATIONE Philosophiæ in the year 1410. His name is John Walton. He was canon of Oseney, and died subdean of York. It appears probable, that he was patronised by Thomas Chaundler, among other preferments, dean of the king's chapel and of Hereford cathedral, chancellor of Wells, and successively warden of Wykeham's two colleges at Winchester and Oxford; characterised by Antony Wood as an able critic in polite literature, and by Leland as a rare example of a doctor in theology who graced fcholastic disputation with the flowers of a pure latinity'. In the British Museum there is a correct manuscript on parchment of Walton's translation of Boethius : and the margin is filled throughout with the Latin text, written by Chaundler above-mentioned". There is another less elegant manufcript in the same collection. But at the end is this note; Explicit liber Boecij de Consolatione Philosophie de Latino in Anglicum translatus A. D. 1410. per Capellanum Joannem". This is the beginning of the prologue, « In suffisaunce of cunnyng and witte.” And of the translation,

And of the translation, “ Alas I wretch that whilom was in welth.” I have seen a third copy in the library of Lincoln cathedral', and a fourth in Baliol college'. This is the translation of Boethius printed in the monastery of Tavistoke, in the year 1525. " The BOKE of “ COMFORT, called in Latin Boecius de Consolatione Philofopbie.

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« Emprented in the exempt monastery of Tavestock in Den

shyre, by me Dan Thomas Rychard monke of the fayd « monastry. To the instant desyre of the right worshipfull

esquyre magifter Robert Langdon. Anno Domini, MDXXV.

Deo gracias.” In octave rhyme. This translation was made at the request of Elifabeth Berkeley. I forbear to load these pages with specimens not original, and which appear to have contributed no degree of improvement to our poetry or our phraseology. Henry the fourth died in the year 1399.

The coronation of king Henry the fifth, was celebrated in Westminster-hall with a solemnity proportioned to the lustre of those great atchievements which afterwards distinguished the annals of that victorious monarch. By way of preserving order, and to add to the fplendor of the spectacle, many of the nobility were ranged along the sides of the tables on large war-horses, at this stately festival; which, says my chronicle, was a second feast of Ahasuerus ? But I mention this ceremony, to introduce a circumstance very pertinent to our purpose; which is, that the number of harpers in the hall was innumerable', who undoubtedly accompanied their instruments with heroic rhymes. The king, however, was no great encourager of the popular minstrelsy, which seems at this time to have flourished in the highest degree of perfection. When he entered the city of London in triumph after the battle of Agincourt, the gates and streets were hung with tapestry, representing the histories of ancient heroes; and children were placed in artificial turrets, singing verses'. But Henry, disgusted at these secular vanities, commanded by a formal edict, that for the fučure no songs

This is among Rawlinson's Codd. im printed by John Cawood, 1556. 4to. Repress. Bibl. Bodl. There is an English printed 1566. 4to. translation of Boethius by one George 9 Thomæ de Elmham Vit. et Geft. Colvil, or Coldewell, bred at Oxford, Henr. V. edit. Hearne, Oxon. 1727. cap. with the Latin, “ according to the 'boke xii. p. 23. Compare Lel. Coll. APPEND. “ of the translatour, which was a very

old üi. 226. edit. 1770. “ printe." Dedicated to queen Mary, and Elmham, ubi supr. p. 23.

s Elmham, ubi supr. cap. xxxi. p. 72. F 2

should

should be recited by the harpers, or others, in praise of the recent victory'. This prohibition had no other effect than that of displaying Henry's humility, perhaps its principal and real design. Among many others, a minstrel-piece soon appeared, evidently adapted to the harp, on the Sevge of HARFLETT and the BATTALLYE of AGYNKOURTE. It was written about the year 1417. These are some of the most spirited lines.

Sent Jorge be fore our kyng they dyd fe',
They trompyd up full meryly,
The grete battell to gederes zed";
Our archorys "theiy schot ful hartely,
They made the Frenche men faste to blede,
Her arrowys they went with full good fpede.
Oure enemyes with them they gan down throwe
Thorow breste plats, habourgenys, and basnets *.
Eleven thousand was Nayne on a rew'.
Denters of dethe men myzt well deme,
So fercelly in ffelde theye gan fythe?.
The heve upon here helmyts schene".
With axes and with swerdys bryzt.
When oure arowys were at a flyzto
Amon the Frenche men was a wel sory schere.
Ther was to bryng of gold bokylyd fo bryzt
That a man myzt holde a strong armoure.
Owre gracyus kyng men myzt knowe
That day fozt with hys owene hond,

The erlys was dys comwityd up on a rowe, s « Cantus de suo triumpho fieri, seu both battles main.” w Archers. "per CITHARI ST AS, vel alios quofcunque, x Breaft-plates, habergeons and helmets. “ CANTARI, penitus prohibebat.” Ibid.

z Fight. And Hearnii Præfat. p. xxix. seq.

They struck upon their bright hel-, §. viii. See also Hollingh. Chron. iii.

Flying p. 556. col. 1. 40.

c Much distress. d Buckled. i « The French saw the standard of e I believe it is “ The earls he had, Saint George before our king."

“ slain were all thrown together on a heap, ? This is Milton's “ Together rulh'd or in a row."

That

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p. 72.

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