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Two hundred days is grauntid of pardoun,
This is our poet's l'envoye.
Go littel book, be ferfull, quaak for drede,
Lydgate's poem called the LYFE OF OUR LADY, printed by Caxton', is opened with these harmonious and elegant lines, which do not seem to be destitute of that eloquence which the author wishes to share with Tully, Petrarch, and Chaucer ! He compares the holy Virgin to a star.
O thoughtfull hertè, plonged in distresse
This sterre in beautie passith Pleiades,
That towarde evyn, at midnyght, and at morowe,
And dryeth up the bytter terys wete
Me to enspire!
In another part of this poem, where he collects arguments to convince unbelievers that Christ might be born of a pure virgin, he thus speaks of God's omnipotence.
And he that made the high and cristal heven,
TORIALE, the name Maria is ful fayre u Float. Drop
igraven on a red rose, in lettris of BOURNID * Burnished with gold. So in Lydgate's gold. MSS. Harl. 2251. 39. fol. 71. b. Legend on Dan Joos a monk, taken from * Prologue. Vincentius Bellovacenfis's Speculum His y Of the sun.
And reddè Marse”, with his sterne here ;
For he that doth the tender braunches sprynge,
We are surprised to find verses of so modern a cast as the following at such an early period; which in this sagacious: age we should judge to be a forgery, was not their genuineness authenticated, and their antiquity confirmed by the venerable types of Caxton, and a multitude of unquestionable manuscripts.
Like as the dewe discendeth on the rose
Our Saviour's crucifixion is expressed by this remarkable: metaphor.
Whan he of purple did his baner sprede
Our author, in the course of his panegyric on the Virgin: Mary, affirms, that she exceeded Hester in meekness, and Judith: in wisdom; and in beauty, Helen, Polyxena, Lucretia, Dido,,
Bathsheba, and Rachel'. It is amazing, that in an age of the most superstitious devotion so little discrimination should have been made between sacred and profane characters and incidents. But the common sense of mankind had not yet attained a just estimate of things. Lydgate, in another piece, has versified the rubrics of the missal, which he applies to the god Cupid: and declares, with how much delight he frequently meditated on the holy legend of those constant martyrs, who were not afraid to suffer death for the faith of that omnipotent divinity'. There are instances, in which religion was even made the instrument of love. Arnaud Daniel, a celebrated troubadour of the thirteenth century, in a fit of amorous despair, promises to found a multitude of annual masses, and to dedicate perpetual tapers to the shrines of saints, for the important purpose of obtaining the affections of an obdurate mistress.
UT Lydgate's principal poems are the Fall of Princes,
the SIEGE OF THEBES, and the DESTRUCTION OF TROY. Of all these I shall speak distinctly.
About the year 1360, Boccacio wrote a Latin history in ten books, entitled De CASIBUS VIRORUM ET FEMINARUM ILLUSTRIUM.
Like other chronicles of the times, it commences with Adam, and is brought down to the author's age. Its last grand event is John king of France taken prisoner by the English at the battle of Poitiers, in the year 1359". This book of Boccacio was soon afterwards tranAlated into French, by one of whom little more seems to be known, than that he was named Laurence; yet so paraphrastically, and with so many considerable additions, as almost to be rendered a new work. Laurence's French
a Printed at Ausbourg. And at Paris,
It is amazing, that Voffius should not know the number of books of which this work consisted, and that it was ever printed. De Hift. Lat. lib. ii. cap. ii. It was translated into Italian by Betufli, in Firenza, 1566. 8vo. 2 volum.
b In Lydgate's PROLOGUE, B. i. fol. i. a col. 1. edit. ut infr.
He that sumtime did his diligence
Out of Latin, he called was LAURENCE. He says that Laurence (in his Prologue) declares, that he avails himself of the privilege of skillful artificers; who may chaunge and turne, by good discretion, frapes and forms, and newly them devise, make and unmoke, &c. And that old authors may be rendered more agreeable, by being cloathed in new ornaments of language, and improved with new inventions. Ibid. a.col.s. He adds, that it was Laurence's design, in
his translation into French, to amende, cor-