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NE of the reasons which rendered the/classlc 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 close 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 Asser bishop of Saint David's, a prelate patronised by Alfred for his singular accomplishments in literature, about the year 890. Bishop Grosthead is said' to have left annotations on this admired system of morality. There is a very ancient manuscript 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, or honoured it with a panegyricc. It has had many imitators. Eccard, a learned French Benedictine, wrote in imitation of this CONSOLATION or PHILOSOPHY, a work in verse and prose containing five books, entitled the CONSOLATlON OF THE MONKs, about the year I 120 d. John Gerson also, a doctor and chancellor of the univerfity of Paris, wrote the CONSOLATTON OF'THEOLOGY hifour booka abouttheyear 1420'. It was the model of Chaucer's TESTAMENT OF Love. It was translated into French ' and English before the year 13 50 5. Dante was an attentive reader of Boethius. In the PURGATORIO, Dante gives THEOLOGY the name ofBeatrix 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 h. 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 '. 't- Emprented in the exempt monastery of Tavestock in Den** shyre, me Dan Thomas Rychard monke of the sayd " monastry. To the instant defy-re of the right worshipqu " esquyre magister Robert Langdon. A'mo Domini, MDXXV. Deagracias." In octave rhyme P. This translation was made ' at the request of Elisabeth Berkeley. I forbear to load these r 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.
' It is observable, that this SPnu-r or PBRSONIFICATION tinctures the writings of some of the Christian Fathers, about, or rather before, this period. Most of the agents in the SHBPRERD ofHBRMAS are idea] beings. An_ancient lady converses with Hermas, and tells him that she is the CHURCH or GOD. Afterwards several virgins appear and discourse with him ; and when he desires to be informed who they are, he is told by the SHEPHEID-ANGBB,
that they are Furn, Aasrmzncr, PATIENCE, CHASTITY, CONCORD, &e. Saint Cyprian relates, that the church appeared in a vision, in mzsime per nactem, to Colerinus ; and commanded him to as
sume the office of Reader, which he in
humility had declined. Cyprian. Epist.
'atxxim edit. Oxon. The church appear-
scripture, Rev. xii. 1. EsnRAs, &c.
Os e He is much commended as a Catholic
A and philosopher by Hincmarus archbishop
of Rheims, about the year 880. De Praedestinat. 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.
d See Trithem. cap. 387. de S. E. And Illustr. Benedictin. ii. 107.
e Opp. tom. i. p. 130. edit. Dupin. I think there is a French CONSOLATXO Turonocm: by one Cerisier.
s See Haym, p. 19 .
8 'Beside John of Meun's French version of Boethius, printed at Lyons 1483, with
I VOl- II.
a translation os Virgil by Guillaume le Roy,
I can assign only one poet to the reign os king Henry the fourth, and this a translator os Boethius '*. He is called johannes Capcllanus, or john the Chaplain, and he translated into English verse the treatise DE CONSOLATIONE PnILOSOPHuE 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 succeffively warden of Wykeham's two colleges at Winchester and Oxford z 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 m. There is another less elegant manuscript in the same collection. But at the end is this note; Explicit liber Boecz'j de Co'z/olatz'o'ze Pbi/osop/Jz'e de La'tz'no in Anglicum tra'fflatus A. D. 1410. per Cape/lanum jommcmfl This is the beginning of the prologue, " In suffisaunce of cctunnyng and witte." And of the translation, " Alas I wretch that whilom was in welth." I have seen a third copy in the library of Lincoln cathedral o, 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 Boecz'us de Consolatione P/oilo/opbim
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 tov the splendor 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 q. 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 future no songs
P This is among Rawlinson's Codd. impress. Bibl. Bodl. There is an English translation of Boethius by one George COIVil, or Coldewell, bred at Oxford, with the Latin, " accordan to the 'boke ** of the translatour, which Was a very old " prime." Dedicated to queenMary, and
printed by John Cawood, 1556. 4to. Reprinted 1566. 4t0.
(1 Thomas de Elmham Vit. et -Gesi. Henr. V. cdit. Heame, Oxon. 1727. cap. xii. p. 23. Compare Lel. Coll. APPEND. 226. edit. 1770.
s Elmham, ubi supr. p. 23.
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 SEYGE of HARFLETT and the BATTALLYE of AGYNKOURTE. It was written about the year 1417. These are some of the
Sent jorge be fore. our kyng they dyd se *,
They trompyd up full meryly,
The grete battell to gederes zed "3
Our archorys '" theiy schot ful hartely,
They made the Frenche men faste to blede,
Her arrowys they went with full good spede.
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 flyzt"
Amon the Frenche men was a wel sory schere't
That day fozt with hys owene hond,
The erlys was dys comwityd up on a rowe ',
* " CAN'russi de suo triumpho fieri, seu both battles main." W Archers. 'A per Cr'r nAM ST As,vel alios quoscunque, xx Breast-plates, habergeons and helmets-r 0 CANTARI, penitus prohibebat." - lbid. -' Row. 1 Fight. p. 72. And Hearnii Przefat. p. xxix. seq. ' " They struck upon their bright hel-. 5. viii.. See also Hollingsh. Chron. iii. mcts." b Flying.
556. col. r. 40. c Much distress. d Buckled.
I " The French saw the standard of '-' I believe it is " The earls he had. Saint George before our king." U slain were all thrown together on aheap,
v This is Milton's " Together rush'd " or_in a row." That