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tifully rewarded". Leonard Aretine, one of the first restorers of the Greek tongue in Italy, which he learned of Emanuel Chrysoloras, and of polite literature in general, dedicates to this universal patron his elegant Latin translation of Aristotle's Politics. The copy presented to the duke by the translator, most elegantly illuminated, is now in the Bodleian library at Oxford'. To the same noble encourager of learning, Petrus Candidus, the friend of Laurentius Valla, and secretary to the great Cosmo duke of Milan, inscribed by the advice of the archbishop of Milan, a Latin version of Plato's REPUBLICK. An illuminated manuscript of this translation is in the British Museum, perhaps the copy presented, with two epistles prefixed, from the duke to Petrus Candidus!. Petrus de Monte, another learned Italian, of Venice, in the dedication of his treatise DE VIRTUTUM ET VITIORUM DIFFERENTIA to the duke of Gloçester, mentions the latter's ardent attachment to books of all kinds, and the singular avidity with which he pursued every species of literature". A tract, entitled COMPARATIO STUDIORUM ET REI MILITARIS, written by Lapus de Castellione, a Florentine civilian, and a great translator into Latin of the Greek classics, is also inscribed to the duke, at the desire of Zeno archbishop of Bayeux. I must not forget, that our illustrious duke invited into England the learned Italian, Tito Livio of Foro-Juli, whom he naturalised, and constituted his poet and orator". Humphrey also retained learned foreigners in his service, for the purpose of transcribing, and of translating from Greek into Latin. One of these was Antonio de
☆ Leland, Script. p. 442.
dum. Most elegantly written, Mem. See MSS. Bodl. D. i. 8. 10. And hian. ad fin. “Cest livre est a moy Leland, Script. p. 443.
Humfrey Duc de Glocestre du don * Leland, Script. p. 442. And Mus. P. Candidus secretaire du duc de MyAshmol. 789. f. 54. 56. Where are also lan.” Catal. MSS. Angl. tom. ii. p. 212. two of the duke's epistles to Petrus Num. 6858. [See MSS. Harl. 1705. Candidus.
'P. Candidi Decembris, Duci Me MSS. Nowic. MORE. 257. Bibl. diolani a secretis, Translatio Politia publ. Cantabrig. Platonis,ad Humfredum Gloucestrie * Author of the Vita Henrici quinti, Ducem, &c. Cui præfiguntur duæ Epi. printed by Hearne, Oxon. 1716. And stolæ Ducis Glocestriæ ad P. Candi- of other pieces. See Hollinsh. iii. 585..
Beccaria, a Veronese, a translator into Latin prose of the Greek poem of Dionysius Afer De Situ ORBIS°: whom the duke employed to translate into Latin six tracts of Athanasius. This translation, inscribed to the duke, is now among the royal manuscripts in the British Museum, and at the end, in his own hand-writing, is the following insertion : “ Cest livre est a moi Homphrey Duc le Gloucestre: le quel je fis translater de Grec en Latin par un de mes secretaires Antoyne de Beccara, nè de Veronep.”
An astronomical tract, entitled by Leland TABULÆ DIRECTIONUM, is falsely supposed to have been written by duke Humphreya. But it was compiled at the duke's instance, and according to tables which himself had constructed, called by the anonymous author in his preface, Tabulas illustrissimi principis et nobilissimi domini mei Humfredi, &c.' In the library of Gresham college, however, there is a scheme of calculations in astronomy, which bear his names. Astronomy was then a favourite science: nor is it to be doubted, that he was intimately acquainted with the politer branches of knowledge, which now began to acquire estimation, and which his liberal and judicious attention greatly contributed to restore.
I close this section with an apology for Chaucer, Gower, and Occleve; who are supposed, by the severer etymologists, to have corrupted the purity of the English language, by affecting to introduce so many foreign words and phrases. But if we attend only to the politics of the times, we shall find these poets, as also some of their successors, much less blameable in this respect, than the critics imagine. Our wars with France, which began in the reign of Edward the Third, were of long continuance. The principal nobility of England, at this period,
• Printed at Venice 1477. Ibid. 1498. Homfrey duc de Gloucestre du don des Paris. 1501. Basil. 1534. 4to.
executeurs le Sr de Faunhore." 16 G.vi. P MSS. Reg. 5 F. 4to. ii. In the 9 See Hollinsh. Chron. sub. ann. 1461. same library is a fine folio
manuscript of f. 662. col. 2. “Chronique des Roys de France jusques " MSS. More, 820. a la mort de S. Loys, l'an. 1270.” Ac • MSS. Gresh. 66. See MSS. Ashtho end is written with the duke of Glou. mol. 856. cester's hand, « Cest livre est a moy
resided in France, with their families, for many years. John king of France kept his court in England: to which, exclusive of these French lords who were his fellow-prisoners, or necessary attendants, the chief nobles of his kingdom must have occasionally resorted. Edward the black prince made an expedition into Spain. John of Gaunt duke of Lancaster, and his brother the duke of York, were matched with the daughters of Don Pedro king of Castile. All these circumstances must have concurred to produce a perceptible change in the language of the court. It is rational therefore, and it is equitable to suppose, that instead of coining new words, they only complied with the common and fashionable modes of speech. Would Chaucer's poems have been the delight of those courts in which he lived, had they been filled with unintelligible pedantries ? The cotemporaries of these poets never complained of their obscurity. But whether defensible on these principles or not, they much improved the vernacular style by the use of this exotic phraseology. It was thus that our primitive diction was enlarged and enriched. The English language owes its copiousness, elegance, and harmony, to these innovations.
I CONSIDER Chaucer as a genial day in an English spring. A brilliant sun enlivens the face of nature with an unusual lustre: the sudden appearance of cloudless skies, and the unexpected warmth of a tepid atmosphere, after the gloom and the inclemencies of a tedious winter, fill our hearts with the visionary prospect of a speedy summer: and we fondly anticipate a long continuance of gentle gales and vernal serenity. But winter returns with redoubled horrors: the clouds .condense more formidably than before; and those tender buds, and early blossoms, which were called forth by the transient gleam of a temporary sun-shine, are nipped by frosts, and torn by tempests.
Most of the poets that immediately succeeded Chaucer, seem rather relapsing into barbarism, than availing themselves of those striking ornaments which his judgment and imagination had disclosed. They appear to have been insensible to his vigour of versification, and his flights of fancy. It was not indeed likely that a poet should soon arise equal to Chaucer: and it must be remembered, that the national distractions which ensued, had no small share in obstructing the exercise of those studies which delight in peace and repose. His successors, however, approach him in no degree of proportion. Among these, John Lydgate is the poet who follows him at the shortest interval.
I have placed Lydgate in the reign of Henry the Sixth, and he seems to have arrived at his highest point of eminence about the year 1430'. Many of his poems, however, appeared
'In a copy of Lydgate's Chronicle of ward the Fourth. MSS. Harl. 2251. 3. English Kings, there is a stanza of Ed. In his poem Ab inimicis nostris, &c. Ed..
before. He was a monk of the Benedictine abbey of Bury in Suffolk, and an uncommon ornament of his profession. Yet his genius was so lively, and his accomplishments so numerous, that I suspect the holy father saint Benedict would hardly have acknowledged him for a genuine disciple. After a short education at Oxford, he travelled into France and Italy"; and returned a complete master of the language and the literature of both countries. He chiefly studied the Italian and French poets, particularly Dante, Boccacio, and Alain Chartier; and became so distinguished a proficient in polite learning, that he opened a school in his monastery, for teaching the sons of the nobility the arts of versification, and the elegancies of composition. Yet although philology was his object, he was not unfamiliar with the fashionable philosophy: he was not only a poet and a rhetorician, but a geometrician, an astronomer, a theologist, and a disputant. On the whole I am of opinion, that Lydgate made considerable additions to those amplifications of our language, in which Chaucer, Gower, and Occleve led the way: and that he is the first of our writers whose style is cloathed with that perspicuity, in which the English phraseology appears at this day to an English reader.
To enumerate Lydgate's pieces, would be to write the catalogue of a little library. No poet seems to have possessed a greater versatility of talents. He moves with equal ease in every mode of composition. His hymns, and his ballads, have . the same degree of merit: and whether his subject be the life of a hermit or a hero, of saint Austin or Guy earl of Warwick, ludicrous or legendary, religious or romantic, a history or an allegory, he writes with facility. His transitions were rapid from works of the most serious and laborious kind to sallies of
ward the Fourth, his Quene and Modir to the crown, 1461. Pitts says, that our are remembered. MSS. Harl. ibid. 9. author died, 1482. Lydgate, in his Phifol. 10. But these pieces could not well LOMELA, mentions the death of Henry be written by Lydgate. For he was or lord Warwick, who died in 1446. MSS. dained a subdeacon, 1389. Deacon, 1999. Harl. ibid. 120. fol. 255. And priest, 1997. Registr. Gul. Crat " See one of his DITTIES, MSS. Harl. field, abbatis de Bury, MSS. Cott. Ti- 2255. 41. fol. 148. BER. B. ix. fol. 1. 35. 52. Edward came I have been offte in dyvers londys, &c.