Page images

We learn from the following passage in Skelton, who wrote in the beginning of the reign of Henry VIII. what books and stories were then the delight of cnglish readers, and the fashion of the times.


I can rede and spell
Of the Tales of Canterbury,
Some sad stories, some merry;
As Palemon and Arcet,
Duke Theseus and Partelet;
And of the Wife of Bath......
And though that red have I
Of Gawen and Syr Guy,
And tell can a grete pece
Of the golden flese,
How Jafon it wan
Like a valiant man.
Of Artur's round table,
With his knights commendable ;
How dame Gaynour his queen,
Was somewhat wanton, I ween;
How Syr Lancelot du Lake
Many a spear brake,
For his ladies fake :
Of Triston and King Marke,
And all the whole warke
Of Bel Ifold his wife......


[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

And of Syr Libius, [Libeaux]
Named Diofconius :
Of quater fils Aymund,
And how they were sommond
To Rome to Charlemagne *,
Upon a greet payne;
And how they rode eche one,
On † Bayard Mountalbon......
What though I can frame

The storyes by name,
Of Judas Machabæus,
And of Cæfar Julius ;
And of the love between
*Paris and Vienet:
And of duke Hanyball....

* The entire history of Charlemagne was firft imported into England by Caxton, who printed the Hystory and Lyf of the moff noble and criften prince, Charles the Great, Kyng of Fraunce, and Emperor of Rome, &c. 1485. In this book, besides those of Charlemagne, we have the ato chievements of Richard of Normandy, Rowland and Oliver, the Four Sons of Aymon, &c. It confifts of three parts; and was compiled by the translator, Caxton, from two french books, by the advice of Henry Bolounyer, canon of Lausanne. The first and third part were drawn from a book which he calls Myrrour Historyall; the second from an old french romance. Lewis, in his Life of Caxton, pag. 97. mentions a history of Charlemagne, written in french, by Christiana of Pisa, 1404.

+ A horse famous in romance, belonging to Reynaldos of Montauban.

| A romance printed by Caxton, viz. Tbystorye of the noble, right valyant, and worthy Knight Parys, and of the fayre Vyenne, the Daulpbyns Dougbter of Vyennoys; the which suffered many adversyties, because of their true love, &c, fol. 1485. It is translated from the french.

And though I can expound
Of Hector of Troye....

Ind of the love hote
That made Troylus to dote
Upon faire Crefeide, &c. .....

In the account of queen Elizabeth's entertainment at Kenelworth Castle, quoted above t, the curious reader may find a catalogue of feveral old pieces in the romantic and humourous kind. Hall, bishop of Norwich, in his Satires, published in 1597, mentions the following favorite stories.

No man his threshold better knowes, than I
Brute's first arrival, and first victory :
St. George's forell, or his craffe of blood,
Arthur's round board, or Caledonian wood:
Or holie battles of bold Charlemayne,
What were f his knights did Salem's fiege maintayne :

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

The dauphin is Sir Godfrey of Alaunfon, coufin to Charles, king of
France, 127.1.

* The fory of Troilus and Crefida became very popular from Chau,
cer's poem on the subject. He took it from Lollius, an historiographer
of Urbino in Italy.
As write mine auctour, callid Lollius.

Tr, and Cr. I. 395. Lollius is honoured with a niche in the House of Fame, 3. 380. as one of the writers of the trojan story,

† Pag. 28. vol. 1. 1 Godfrey of Bulloigne, the subject of Taflo's Jerusalem.


How the mad rivals of faire Angelice,
Was phyfick'd for the new-found paradise ;
High stories they, &c*.

B. i. c. xii. s. xxxix.

Many an angels voice,
Singing before th'eternall majestie
In their trinall triplicities on hie.

Thus in An Hymne of heavenly Love; of angels,

There they, in their trinal triplicities,
About him wait.

The image of the angels waiting in their trinal tri, plicities, puts me in mind of a passage in Milton's Lycidas, where the pointing seems to be wrong.

There entertain him all the faints above,
In folemin troops, and sweet focieties,

Who fing, and singing in their glory move. According to the present punctuation, the sense is, " The faints who are in folemn troops, and sweet 6 focieties, entertain him;" or, entertain him in [among] their solemn troops, and sweet societies : but if the comma was ftruck off after societies, another and

Orlando, in Ariosto.

* B, 6. fat. 1.


more beautiful meaning would be introduced, viz. “ 'The saints who sING IN solemn troops and sweet « societies, entertain him, &c.

[ocr errors]

B. ii. c. iii. s. xxiv.

Of Belphæbe speaking,

And twixt the pearles and rubies softly brake
A silver sound.

Thus in Sonnet 81.

[ocr errors]

But faireft she, when so she doth display
The gate with pearles, and rubies richly dight,
Thro’ which her words fo wise do make their way.

Ariosto gives us pearls and corall for the lips and teeth.

Che da i coralli, e da le pretiofe
Perle uscir fanno i dolci accenti mozzi *.


The corall and the perle by nature wrought.

Harrington This is common in the italian poets.

B. ii. c. iii. s. xxv.


Upon her eyelids many graces fate
Under the shadow of her even browes.

* C. 12. f. ult.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »