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s Shewed. 3 Laur.
h Worthily. D. XII. n. fol. 214.] by Heame, Elm-
1 " They broke the bright helmets in See p. 371. seq. There is TþeBATTAYLB.
of EGYNCOURTE, Libr. impress. Bibl.
9 Strait. ANC. BALL. vol. ii. p. 24. edit. 1767..
' Printed [from MSS. Cotton. ViTBLL.
See Hearne's Pnzzrar. nt supr. p. xxx.
These verses are much less intelligible than some of Gower's and Chaucer's pieces, which were written fifty years before. In the mean time we must not mistake provincial for national barbarisms. Every piece now written is by no means a proof of the actual state of style. The improved dialect, which yet is the estimate of a language, was confined only to a few writers, who lived more in the world and in polite life : and it was long, before a general change in the public phraseology was effected. Nor must we expect among the minstrels,
who were equally careless and illiterate, those refinements of Uiction, which mark the compositions of men who professedly studied to embellish the English idiom.
Thomas Occleve is the first poet that occurs in the reign of Henry the fifth. I place him about the year 1420. Occleve is a feeble writer, considered as a poet: and his chief merit seems to be, that his writings contributed to propagate and establish those improvements in our language which were now beginning to take place. He was educated in the municipal law ', as were both Chaucer and Gower; and it reflects no small degree of honour on that very liberal profeffion, that its students were some of the first who attempted to polish and adorn the English tongue.
The titles of Occleve's pieces, very few of which have been ever printed, indicate a coldness of genius; and on the whole promiseno gratification to those who seek for invention and fancy. Such as, The tale of yonathas and of a wicked 'woman '. Fahle of' a certain emperescffi A ' prologue of the nine lessons that is read over Allhan-w-day '. The most profitah/e and ho/sozmss craft that is to runne *, to lerne to dye 7. Corz/olatiozz of
fered by an old man '. Pentzfflbz'corz to the king. Mercy as drysned by Saint Austin. Dialogue to a friendffl Dialogue bet-ween Oc- * cleef and a beggar b. T/Je letter of Cupidfl Vershs to an empty purst-d. But Occleve's most considerable poem is a piece called a translation of Egidius DE REGIMINE PRINCIPUM. This is a sort of paraphrase of the first part of Aristotle's epistle to Alexander abovementioned, entitled SECRETUM SECRETORUM, of Egidius, and of Jacobus de Casulis, whom he calls yfflb de Ccsslis. Egidius, a native of Rome, a pupil of Thomas Aquinas, eminent among the schoolmen by the name of Doctor Fundatz'ffimus, and an archbishop, flourished about the year 1280. He wrote a Latin tract in three books DE REGIMINE PRlNClPUM, or the ART OF GOVERNMENT, for the use of Philip le Hardi, son of Louis king of France, a work highly esteemed in the middle ages, and translated early into Hebrew, French', and Italian. In those days ecclefiastics and schoolmen'presumed to dictate to kings, and to give rules for administering states, drawn from the narrow circle of speculation, and conceived amid the pedantries of a cloister. It was probably recommended to Occleve's notice, by having been translated into English by John Trevisa, a celebrated translator about the year 1390*. The original was printed at Rome in 1482, and at Venice 1498, and,
appears to be Chaucer's, from the twen additional stanzas not printed in Urry s Chaucer, pag. 549. MSS. Harl. 2251. 133. fol. 293.
1 MSS. Digb. 18 *. More [Cant.] 427. i MSS. Seld. ut upr.
b MSS. Harl. 4826. 6.
C MSS. Digb. 181. MSS. Arch. Bodl.
Seld. B. 24. It is printed in Chaucer's Works, Urr. p. 534. Bale [MS. Glynne] mentions one or two more pieces, particularly De Tin/go Athenimsi, lib. i. Pr. " Tum esset, ut veteres historize tradunt." This is the beginnin of Chaucer's chnr's TALE. And there are other pieces in the libraries.
A This, and the Pentastitbon ad Regtm, are in MSS. Fairs. xvi. Bibl. Bodl. And in the editions of Chaucer. But the former
e Wolf. Biblioth. Hebr. tom. iii. p. 1206. It was translated into French by Henry de Gand, at the command of Philip king of France. Mem. de Lit. tomct. xvii.
. . to.
p '7gi3bliiBodL MSS. Digb. 233. Princfp. " To his special, [etc.] olitik sentence " that is." In this manu cript there is an elegant picture of a monk, or ecclesiastic, prelcnting a book to a king. See supr. vol. i. p. 343. Notes, g. _
I think, again at the same place in 1598b. The Italian translation was printed at Seville, in folio, 1494, " Tran" sladar de Latin en romance don Bernardo Obispo de Osma :v " impresso por Meynardo Ungut Alemano et Stanislao Polono " Companeros." The printed copies of the Latin are very rare, but the manuscripts innumerable. A third part of the third book, which treats of De Re Ass/start' Veterum, was printed by Hahnius in 1722'. One of Egidius's books, a commentary on Aristotle m: ANIMA, is dedicated to our Edward the first k.
Jacobus de Casulis, or 'of Casali in Italy, another of the writers copied in this performance by our poet Occleve, a French Dominican friar, about the year 1290, wrote in four parts a Latin treatise on chess, or, as it is entitled in some manuscripts, De moribur bominum et de (ff'ciir nooz'lium stzper LUDo LATRUNCULORUM sive SCACCORUM. In a parchment manuscript of the Harleian library, neatly illuminated, it is thus entitled, LIBER MORALIS DE LUDo SCACCORUM, ad bo-7zorem et solacium Nobz'lz'um et maxime ludencz'um, per sratrem JACOBUM DE CAssuus-ordim's fi'tztrum Preedimtorum. At the conclusion, this work appears to be a translation 1. Pits carelessly gives it to Robert Holcot, a celebrated English theologist, perhaps for no other reason than because Holcot was likewise a Dominican. It was printed at Milan in 1479. I believe it was as great a favourite as Egidius on GOVERNssMENT, for it was translated into French by John Ferron, and John Du Vignay, a monk hospitalar of Saint James du
Haut-pag m, under the patronage of Jeanne dutchess of Bourgogne, Caxton's patroness, about the year 1360, with the title of LE. jeu DES ECHECS moralisc, or Le traife des Nobles et de gem du peuple stlon le JEU DES ECHECS. This was afterwards translated by Caxton, in 1474., who did not know that the French was a translation from the Latin, and called the GAME OF THE CHESS. It was also translated into German, both prose and verse, by Conrade von Almenhusen ". Bale absurdly supposes that Occleve made a separate and regular translation of this work ".
Occleve's poem was never printed. This is a part of the Prologue.