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on the subject, attributed to the Italians. Certain it is, that in a very short time after their first publication, the novels of Italy became, through the medium of translations, the popular reading of the English, and contributed powerfully to our dramatic literature. The most popular comedies of Shakespeare are based on stories by Boccacio, Ser Giovanni, Cinthio and Bandello. And to the two last-named writers, Beaumont and Fletcher are as much indebted as they are to Gerardo and Cervantes. When Roger Ascham found the Lady Jane Grey in her chamber over her “ Phædon Platonis” in Greek, she was, he assures us, read. ing it “with as much delite, as some gentleman would read a merry tale of Boccase.”

And in another part of his delightful “Schoolmaster” Ascham says, “ if some yet doe not well understand what is an Englishman Italianated, I will plainly tell him. He that by living and travelling in Italie, bringeth home into England out of Italie the religion, the learning, the policie, the experience, the manners of Italie. That is to say, for religion, Papistrie, or worse ; for learning, less commonly than they carried out with them ; for policie, a factious hart, a discoursing head, a mind to meddle in all men's matters ; for experience, plentie of new mischieves never knowen in England before; for manners, varietie of vanities, and chaunge of filthy lying. These be the inchauntments of Circes, brought out of Italie, to marre men's maners in England ; much, by example of ill life, but more by preceptes of fonde bookes, of late translated out of Italian into Englishe, solde in every shop in London, commended by honest titles, the sooner to corrupt honest maners, dedicated over boldlie to vertuous and honourable personages, the easelier to beguile simple and innocent wittes. It is a pitty that those, which have authoritie and charge, to alow and disalow bookes to be printed, be no more circumspect herein than they are. Ten sermons at Paules Crosse doe not so much good for mooving men to

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true doctrine, as one of those bookes doe harm, with inticing men to ill living.

In our forefathers time, when Papistrie, as a standing poole, covered and overflowed all England, few bookes were red in our tongue, saving certayne bookes of chivalrie, as they were sayd for pastime and pleasure, which, as some say, were made in monasteries, by idle monkes, or wanton chanons; as one for example, Morte Arthur.

And yet ten Morte Arthures doe not the tenth part so much harme as one of these bookes, made in Italie and translated in England.”

Poor novels! you have ever had the schoolmasters against you. Ascham railed at Boccacio; and only the other day Dr. Arnold poured the fire of his artillery on Charles Dickens. But the “Decameron” has outlived the assault, and is still one of our best,library friends. For ten who in these days forget misery and find certain elements of wisdom in the pages of Boccacio, can we find one man who extracts improvement from the works of Ascham, beautiful as they are? Who will for ages have the greater influence for good over the human race- - Dr. Arnold, or the author of “Nicholas Nickleby?”

The grandest memorial that we have of what our literature owes to Italy is to be found in “The Canterbury Tales.” Every one wishing to make a review of the English novel from its rise to the present time, should commence with those famous stories, many of which Chaucer borrowed from Boccacio and the imitators of the Italian novelists, and which were joined together, so as to become parts of one great tale, after the model of the “ Decameron."

Though the novel succeeded to the honours of the chivalric romance, it is impossible to name an exact time at which the one ended and the other commenced. Epochs of thought are never divided by a straight line, but they run into and dovetail with each other. After a school of art has fairly died out, there have ever been, and it would seem

there ever will be, some anxious to revive it. There are many strangely constituted beings who are incapable of earnestness, save when striving for a "slowly dying cause," and who, though they can discern no beauty wherefore they should love it in the fresh glow of vigorous life, are touched and subdued by the fascinating gentleness of death.

CHAPTER I.

ROBERT GREENE.

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Out of the many Elizabethan novelists, Robert Greene is the one whose works give the reader the most agreeable idea of what a novel at the end of the sixteenth century

Every one who has read Sir Walter Scott's novel, "The Monastery," has formed a slight acquaintance with the style of the celebrated “Euphues, the Anatomie of Wit,” and “Euphues and his England” of John Lylie, which are, perhaps, the most characteristic and noteworthy works of fiction the age produced; but the impossibility of curtailing those lengthy specimens of inflation and bombast, 80 as to give the reader a tolerably accurate picture of their contents, without wearying him with tedious pages of empty jargon, has guided us in our selection of Robert Greene in preference to the favourite author of the “Euphuists."

Robert Greene, an eastern counties' man, was the son of a citizen of Norwich. He was born about the year 1560, and he died in the year of our Lord, 1592,--so his life was not a long one. But, short as it was, he managed to achieve a vast amount of work, and to taste of deep, poignant misery,--and of some joy, also, let us hope !

The list of his writings-plays, pamphlets, sermons, tales, histories--shows him to have been an industrious man; and

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