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Ne was there none of the Muses nine,-
For there sung not by heavenly harmony,
None of the sistren in number thrise thre,
Ascended up highe above the skie,
To be wedded, this lady virtuous,
Unto her lord the god Mercurius.
But at this weddinge, plainly for to telle,
Was there present with his holle kindred,
ALECTO eke: with LABOUR, and ENVIE,
All these folkes were at weddyng new -,_
As the story after shall declare ".
The bare conception of the attendance of this allegorical groupe on these incestuous espousals, is highly poetical : and although some of the personifications are not presented with the addition of any picturesque attributes, yet others are marked with the powerful pencil of Chaucer.
This poem is the THEBAID of a troubadour. The old classical tale of Thebes is here cloathed with feudal manners, enlarged with new fictions of the Gothic species, and furnished with the descriptions, circumstances, and machineries, appropriated to a romance os chivalry. The Sphinx is a terrible dragon, placed by a necromancer to guard a mountain, and to murther all travellers passing by '. Tydeus being wounded sees a castle on a rock, whose high towers and creted pinnacles Of polished stone glitter by the light of the moon: he gains admittance, is laid in a sumptuous bed of cloth of gold, and healed of his wounds by a king's daughter x. Tydeus and Polymite tilt at midnight for a lodging, before the gate of the palace Of king Adrastus; who is awakened with the din of the strokes of their weapons, which shake all the palace, and descends into the court with a long train by torch-light: he orders the two combatants to be disarmed, and cloathed in rich mantles studdcd with pearls; and they are conducted to repose by many a stair to a stately tower, after being served with a refection Of hypocras from golden goblets. The next day they are both espoused to the king's two daughters, and entertained with tournaments, feasting, revels, and masques 7. Afterwards Tydeus, havinga message to deliver to Eteocles king of Thebes, enters the hall of the royal palace, completely armed and on horseback, in the midst of a magnificent festival 2. This palace, like a Norman fortress, or feudal castle, is
W Pag. 627. col. 2. this line. pag. 635. col. 2.
x Pag. 640. coi. a. seq.
7 Pag 633_ col' L seq_ Concerning the And the oevrse of many a soram wren. dresses, perhaps in the masquea, we hav' ' Pag 6 37. col. 2guarded
When Oedipus consults concerning his kindred the oracle of Apollo, whose image stood on a golden chariot with four wheels bzzrzsed bright and sheen, animated with a fiend, the manner in which he receives his answer is touched with spirit and imagination.
And when Edipus by great devotion
The fiend anon, within invisible,
' Pag. 644. ch. 2. b Pag. 635. col. r. 5 Asraid. Fatigued. 4 P. 6 31. colfiz.d a e
In this poem, exclusive of that general one already mentioned, there are some curious mixtures of manners, and of claffics and scripture. The nativity of Oedipus at his birth is calculated by the most learned astronomers and physicians '. Eteocles defends the walls of Thebes with great guns '. And the priest 1' Amphiorax, or Amphiaraus, is styled a bishop ', whose wife is also mentioned. At a council held at Thebes, concerning the right of succession to the throne, Esdras and Solomon are cited: and the history of Nehemiah rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem is introduced k. The moral intended by this calamitous tale consists in shewing the pernicious effects of war: the diabolical nature of which our author still further illustrates by observing, that discord received its origin in hell, and that the first battle ever fought was that of Lucifer and his legion of rebel angels '. But that the argument may have the fullest confirmation, Saint Luke is then quoted to prove, that avarice, ambition, and envy, are the primary sources of contention; and that Christ came into the world to destroy these malignant principles, and to propagate universal charity.
At the close of the poem, the mediation of the holy Virgin is invoked, to procure peace in this life, and salvation in the next. Yet it should be remembered, that this piece is written by a monk, and addressed to pilgrims 't
HE third of Lydgate's poems which I proposed to consider, is the TROY BOKE, or the DESTRUCTION OF
It was first printed at the command of king Henry
the eighth, in the year 1513, by Richard Pinson, with this title, " THE HYSTORY SEGE AND DESTRUCCION or TROYE.
" after foloweth the TROYE BOKE, other-'west- callea' the SEGEOF " TROYE. Tra'z/Iated by JOHN LYDGATE mon/le of Bury, and " emprynted at the commaundement of oure shuveraygne lorde the " kynge Henry the eighth, by Richarde Pinson, &e. the yere
" of our lorde god a M.CCCCC. and XIII "."
Another, and a
much more correct edition followed, by Thomas Marshe, under the care of one John,Braham, in the year 1 5 5 5 o. It was begun in the year 1414., the last year of the reign of king Henry the fourth. _It was written at that prince's