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has been or can be effected without enthusiasm-without feelings more exalted than the consideration of simple matter of fact can produce. That Romances have a tendency to excite the enthusiastic spirit, we have the evidence of fact in numerous instances. Hereafter, we shall hear the great Alilton indirectly bearing his testimony of admiration and gratitude for their inspiring influence. It is of little consequence, comparatively speaking, whether all the impressions made, be founded on strict philosophical truth. If the imagination be awakened and the heart warmed, we need give ourselves little concern about the final result. The first object is to elicit power. Without power nothing can be accomplished. Should the heroic spirit chance to be excited by reading Romances, we have, alas! too much occasion for that spirit even in modern times, to wish to repress its generation. Since the Gallic hero has cast his malign aspect over the nations, it is become almost as necessary to social security, as during the barbarism of the feudal times. There is now little danger of its being directed to an unintelligible purpose.

Romances, then, not only merit attention, as enabling us to enter into the feelings and seatiments of our ancestors,- -a circumstance in itself curious, and even necessary to a complete knowledge of the history of past ages; they may still be successfully employed to awaken the mind -to inspire genius: and when this effect is produced, the power thus created may be easily made to bear on any point desired."

The demand for Morte Arthur, which continued for nearly two centuries, produced of course several re-impressions: the second issued from the press of Winkin de Worde in 1498, the colophon of which, as specified by Herbert, is singularly curious.

Here is the ende of the hoole boke of kynge Arthur, and of his noble knygtes of the rounde table. That whane they were hoole togyder, there was ever an c. and XI. And here is the ende of the deth of Arthur. I praye you all gentylmen and gentylwymmen that rede thys boke of Artbar and his knyghtes from the beginnynge to the endynge praye for me whyle I am a lyue, that God send me good utterance. And when I am deed, I pray you all pray for my soule: for the translacion of this boke was fynisshed the IX. yere of the regne of kyng Edwarde the fourth, by syr Thomas Maleore knyght, as Jhesu helpe him for his grete myghte, as he is the servaunt of Jhesu bolhe day and nyghte. Emprynted fyrst by William Caxton, on whose soul God have mcrey."+

The re-impression of De Worde was followed by the editions of Copland, East, and William Stansby, this last being dated 1634. Of the elder copies East's was probably the one most generally used in the reign of Elizabeth, and it differs only in a few unessential phrases from the edition of Caxton.

La Morte d'Arthur, which, by its frequent republication, kept alive a taste for romantic fiction, may be considered as giving us, with a few exceptions as to costume, a very pleasing though somewhat polished picture of the chivalric romance of the Anglo-Norman period. It has the merit also of furnishing an excellent specimen of purity and simplicity in style and diction; qualities which have stamped upon many of its otherwise extravagant details the most decided features of sublimity and pathos. A passage in the twenty-second chapter of the second book, for example, furnishes a noble instance of the former, and the speech of Sir Bohort, over the dead body of Sir Launcelot, towards the close of the work, is as admirable a specimen of the latter. These, as short, peculiarly interesting, and characteristic of the work, we shall venture to transcribe.

The description of, and the effect arising from so simple a circumstance as that of blowing a horn, are thus painted :

"So bee rode forth, and within three days hee came by a cross, and thereon was letters of gold written, that said, It is not for a knight alone to ride toward this castle. Then saw hee an old hoar gentleman coming toward him, that said, Balin le Savage, thou passest thy bounds this way, therefore turne againe and it will avail thee. And hee vanished away anon; and so hee heard an horne blow as it had been the death of a beast. That blast, said Balin, is blown for mee; for! am the prize, and yet am I not dead."

Sir Ector de Maris, the brother of Sir Launcelot, after having sought him in vain through Britain for seven years, has at length the melancholy satisfaction of recognising the body of the hero, who had just breathed his last.

Burnet's Specimens of English Prose Writers, vol. i. p. 287–289.

† Dibdin's Typographical Antiquities, vol. ii. p. 81, 82.

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"And then Sir Ector threw his shield, his sword, and his heline from him. And when hee beheld Sir Launcelot's visage, he fell downe in a sowne. And when hee awaked, it were hard for any tongue to tell the dolefull complaints that he made for his brother. Ah, Sir Launcelot, said hee, thou were head of all christian knights, and now I dare say, said Sir Bors, that Sir Launcelot, there thou liest thou were never matched of none earthly knight's hands. And thou were the curtiest knight that ever beare shield. And thou were the truest friend to thy lover that ever bestrod horse, and thou were the truest lover of a sinful man that ever loved woman. And thou were the kindest man that ever stroke with sword. And thou were the goodliest parson that ever came among presse of knights. And thou were the meekest man and the gentlest that ever eate in hall among ladies. And thou were the sternest knight to thy mortall foe that ever put speare in the rest."-Book iii. chap. 170.

We have taken the more notice of this work, not only as it affords a pretty correct idea of what the old chivalric metrical romance consisted, but as it was in Shakspeare's time the favourite book in this branch of literature, and furnished Spenser with many incidents for his "Faerie Queene."* It constitutes, in fact, an exemplar and abridgment of the marvels of the Round Table, such as were dispersed through a variety of metrical tales, and can only be found condensed in this production, and of which the popularity may be considered as an indubitable mark of the taste of the age in which it was so much admired and cherished.

If it be objected, that, though Morte Arthur was very popular, it did not originate during our period, it may be answered, that many prose imitations of the Anglo-Norman romance, the undoubted offspring of the Elizabethan era, might, if necessary, be mentioned: but one will suffice, and this has been selected from its having obtained an influence over the public mind nearly as long as the Death of Arthur.

We allude to the well-known romance entitled "The Seven Champions of Christendome," written in the age of Elizabeth by Richard Johnson, the author of various other productions during this and the subsequent reign. In what year the first part of the Seven Champions made its appearance is not known; but the second was published with the following title and date:-"The Second Part of the famous History of the Seven Champions of Christendome. Likewise shewing the princely Prowesse of Saint George's three Sonnes, the lively Sparke of Nobilitie. With many memoriall atchieuements worthy the Golden Spurres of Knighthood. Lond. Printed for Cuthbert Burbie, etc., 1597." 4to. Black Letter. If Mr. Warton's opinion be correct, that Spenser was indebted to this work for some incidents in the conduct of his Faerie Queene, the first part must have been printed before 1590; and Mr. Todd, indeed, seems to think that the second part was published some time after the first;" a supposition which is corroborated by the address to the reader prefixed to the second part, in which, after mentioning the great acceptance of his First Part," he nevertheless deprecates the severity of criticism to which it had been exposed; "thy courtesy," he says, "must be my buckler against the carping malice of mocking jesters, that being worse able to do well, scoff commonly at that they cannot mend, censuring all things, doing nothing, but, monkey-like, make apish jests at any thing they see in print: and nothing pleaseth them, except it savour of a scoffing or invective spirit;" passages which indicate that the first part of this romance had been for some length of time before the public. We may also add, that Johnson is known to have been a popular writer in 1592, having published in that year his "Nine Worthies of London."


"If we except La Morte D'Arthur, and one or two Spanish romances, which will be afterwards mentioned, the Seven Champions appears to have been the most popular book of its class. It has accumulated in a small compass the most

Vide Warton's Observations on the Faerie Queene, and Todd's edition of Spenser's Works, vol ii. P lxvi + Vide Bibliotheca Reediana, No. 2670, and Todd's Spenser, vol. ii. p. lxvii. note k.

remarkable adventures of the ancient metrical romances, and has related them in a rich and figurative, though somewhat turgid style. Justice has been done to this compilation, once so high in repute, both by Percy and Warton: the former speaks of its "strong Gothic painting," and of its adherence to the old poetical legends; and the latter declares it to contain "some of the most capital fictions of the old Arabian romance," and instances the adventure of the Enchanted Fountain.+

The various editions of this once celebrated compilation attest the longevity of its fame; and though now no longer the amusement of the learned and the great, yet it is far from being a stranger to the literature of our juvenile libraries. A London impression appeared in 1755, and it has lately been reprinted in a pocketedition of the British Classics.

Having thus brought forward La Morte D'Arthur and the Seven Champions as the most popular prose compilations in Shakspeare's time from the Anglo-Norman metrical romances, we shall proceed to notice two collections which were more immediately built on an oriental foundation, and which have enjoyed, both at the epoch of their first translation into English in the sixteenth century, and subsequently to a very modern date, an almost unrivalled circulation.

A little anterior to the birth of our great poet, W. Copland printed, without date, a romance entitled "The Seven Wise Masters," a direct version from the Latin of a book published in Germany, soon after the discovery of the art of printing, under the appellation of Historia Septem Sapientum. This interesting series of tales has been traced by Mr. Douce to an Indian prototype: to "The Book of the Seven Counsellors, or Parables of Sandebar or Sandabar," an Indian philosopher, who is supposed to have lived about a century before the Christian æra. The work of this sage, it appears, had been early translated into Persic, Syriac, Arabic, and, from this latter into Hebrew by Rabbi Joel, under the title of "Mischle Sandabar," a version which is conjectured to have been made about the middle of the fourteenth century, and is believed to be the only oriental manuscript of these Parables which has been subjected to the press; having been printed at Constantinople in 1517, and at Venice in 1544 and 1608. A MS. of this Hebrew Sandabar is in the British Museum (Harleian MSS., No. 5449), but no English version of it has been hitherto attempted.

The romance of our Indian fabulist made its next appearance, though with some alteratious in the incidents and names, in Greek, under the title of Syntipas, of which many MSS. exist, the greater number professing to be translated from the Syriac; but in the British Museum is preserved a copy from the Persic, of so late a date as 1667.

The first Latin version is said to have proceeded from the pen of Jean de Hauteselve, a native of Lorraine, but the existence of such a copy is now only known, from its having been translated into French verse, by an ecclesiastic of the name of Herbers, who died in 1226, and who, in the opening of his poem, which he has given the singular title of Dolopatos, confesses to have taken it from thebel Latin" of Hauteselve.


"Another French version, however, of greater importance, as it makes a nearer approach to the remote original, and has been the source of numerous imitations, is preserved in the French National Library, and numbered 7595. I is a MS. in verse, of the 13th century, and was first noticed by Mr. Ellis, through a communication with Mr. Douce, who believes it to be not only the immediate original of many imitations in French prose, but the source whence an old English metrical romance in the Cotton Library (Galba, E. 9.) has been taken.

This poem, a large fragment of which exist in the Auchinleck M.S., is entire in the Cotton Library, and is written in lines of eight syllables. It is entitled

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The Proces of the Sevyn Sages," and Mr. Ellis refers its composition to a period not later than 1330.

The copy, however, which has given rise to the greatest number of translations, is that already mentioned under the title of "Historia Septem Sapientum," the first edition of which, with a date, was published by John Hoelhoff at Cologne in 1490. This was very rapidly transfused into the German, Dutch, Italian, French, Spanish, English, and Scotch languages.

Of the Scotch version, which is metrical, and was undertaken by the transFlator" at the request of his Ant Cait (Aunt Kate) in Tanstelloun Castle, during the siege of Leith," 1560, the first edition was printed at Edinburgh in 1578, with the following title:-"The Sevin Seages, Translatit out of Prois in Scottis Meter, Be Johne Rolland, in Dalkeith; with ane Moralitie after everie Doctouris tale, and sicklike after the Emprice tale, togidder with ane loving and laude to everie Doctour after his awin tale, and ane exclamation and outcrying when the Empreouris wife after hir fals construsit tale. Imprentit at Edinburgh be John Ros, for Henry Charteries."

The prose translation by Copland, which made its appearance between the years 1550 and 1567, under the title of "The Seven Wise Masters," was one of the most popular books of the sixteenth century. It has undergone a variety of re-impressions, and when no longer occupying its former place in the hall of the Baron and the Squire, descending to a less ambitious station, it became the most delectable volume in the collection of the School-boy. This change in the field of its influence seems to have taken place in little better than a century after its introduction into the English language; for in 1674, Francis Kirkman, publishing a version from the Italian copy of this romance, which he entitles the "History of Prince Erastus, son to the emperor Diocletian, and those famous philosophers called The Seven Wise Masters of Rome," informs us, in his preface, "that the book of 'The Seven Wise Masters' is in such estimation in Ireland, that it was always put into the hands of young children immediately after the horn-book.”

The Book of the Seven Counsellors," in short, appears to have been familiarised in the language of every civilised nation in Asia and Europe, and though often interpolated and disguised by the admixture of fables from other oriental collections, and especially from the fables of Pilpay, it has still preserved, through every transfusion, a resemblance of its Indian type. Its admission into English literature contributed to cherish and keep alive the taste for Eastern romance, which had been generated during the period of the Crusades, and adopted by the Anglo-Norman minstrels.

If the collection of oriental apologues, to which we have alluded under the name of Pilpay, had been as early naturalised amongst us, the effect in favour of oriental fable would probably have been greater; but it was the fate of this work, though superior in merit perhaps, and of equal antiquity and similar origin with the Parables of Sandabar, and alike popular in the East, not to have acquired an English dress until the eighteenth century. The Heetopades of Veeshnoo Sarma, the undoubted source of Pilpay's stories, we, at length, possess, in a correct state, forming certainly the most interesting series of fables extant.†

There is another set of tales, however, in their complexion almost entirely oriental, which not only co-operated in their effect, but also in their period of introduction, with the "Seven Wise Masters," from the press of Copland.

This short summary has been drawn up from the larger account detailed by Mr. Ellis in his specimens of Early English Metrical Romances, vol. iii. p. 1–22.

The common version of Pilpay was published in 1747. It should be remarked, however, that a transiation from the Italian of Doni, containing many of the fables of Pilpay, and professedly rendered by Dai, from the Directorium Humanæ Vitæ, vel Parabole Antiquorum Sapientum, was given in English by Sir Thomas North, 4to. 1570, and 1601, under the title of the “ Moral Philosophy of Doni,” From this source, therefore, Shakspeare and his contemporaries may have been partially acquainted with this rotection of tales.

In 1577 Richard Robinson, a voluminous author who lived by his pen, published "A record of ancyent historyes intituled in Latin Gesta Romanorum;" and in a catalogue of his productions, written by himself, and preserved in the British Museum, he says of this work, that it was "translated (auctore ut supponitur Iohane Leylando antiquario) by mee perused, corrected and bettered."

This is a partial version of one of two distinct works entitled, Gesta Romanorum, collections of tales in the Latin language which, there is reason to suppose, originated in the fourteenth century, and certainly once enjoyed the highest popularity. Of the first, or what may be called the Continental Gesta, Mr. Warton has given us a very elaborate and pleasing analysis. No manuscript of this primary collection is known to exist, but it was printed about 1473; the first six editions of it are in folio without dates; three containing 152 chapters or gests each, and three 181 each, and of those printed with dates, in folio, quarto, octavo, and duodecimo, a list, amounting to twenty-eight, has beeen published by Mr. Douce, from the year 1480 to 1555 inclusive. A Dutch translation appeared in 1481; a German translation in 1489; the first French translation with a date in 1521; but no English translation until 1703, when only forty-five histories or gests were published, the translator, either from want of encouragement, or from some other cause, having only printed volume the first of his intended version.

"The second or English Gesta must be considered as the discovery of Mr. Douce, for Warton, not perceiving its frequent discrepancy, had confounded it with the original work. It is likewise remarkable, that the circumstances attending its circulation are diametrically different from those accompanying the prior collection; for while numerous MSS. of the English Gesta exist in this country, not one copy in the original Latin has been printed.

It appears from the researches of Mr. Douce, that this compilation very soon followed the original Gesta, and that the first manuscript may with great probability be ascribed to a period as early as the reign of Richard the Second; most of the MSS. however, none of which have ever been found upon the Continent, are of the age of fifth and sixth Henries, and of these twenty-five are yet remaining preserved in the British Museum, at Oxford, and in other collections.

As the English Gesta was intended as an imitation of the Continental collection. many of its stories have, of course, been retained; but these have undergone such alterations in language, and sometimes in incident, together with new moralizations, and new names, as to give it, with the addition of forty tales not found in its prototype, the air of an original work. It is not, however, so extensive as the foreign compilation, the most complete manuscripts containing only one hundred and two stories; yet as the sources from which it has drawn its materials are, with a few exceptions, correspondent, in respect to their oriental origin, with the continental copy, the character which Mr. Warton has given, of the primary will apply to the secondary series.

"This work," he observes, "is compiled from the obsolete Latin chronicles of the later Re man or rather German 'story, heightened by romantic inventions, from Legends of the Saints, oriental apologues, and many of the shorter fictitious narratives which came into Europe with the Arabian literature, and were familiar in the ages of ignorance and imagination. The classics are sometimes cited for authorities; but these are of the lower order, such as Valerius Maximus, Macrobius, Aulus Gellius, Seneca, Pliny, and Boethius. To every tale a Moralization is subjoined, reducing it it into a christian or moral lesson.

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Most of the oriental apologues are taken from the "Clericalis Disciplina," or a Latin dialogue between an Arabian Philosopher and Edric his son, never printed §, written by Peter Alpha

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Douce's Illustrations, vol ii. p. 424.

Two of these tales, chap. 31 and 32. are Immediately taken from "The Seven Wise Masters," and way be found also in the Arabian Nights and Pilpay's Fables.

"Edric was the name of Enoch among the Arabians, to whom they attribute many fabulous compos tions. Herbelot, in V., Lydgate's Chorle' and 'The Bird' is taken from the Clericalis Disciplina." § MSS. Harl. 3861, and in many other libraries. It occurs in old French verse, MSS. Digb. 86 m brar. "Le Romaune de Peres Aunfour coment il aprist et chastia son fils belement."

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