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Art de plein Rhetorique" in two books, written by Pierre Fabri, properly Le Fevre, an ecclesiastic of Rouen, for teaching elegance in prose as well as rhyme, is dated still higher. Goujet mentions a Gothic edition of this tract in 1521. It contains remarks on the versification of mysteries and farces, and throws many lights on the old French writers.

But the French had even an ART OF POETRY so early as the year 1548. In that year Thomas Sibilet published his Art poetique at Paris, Veuve François Regnault. This piece preserves many valuable anecdotes of the old French poetry: and, among other particulars which develope the state of the old French drama, has the following sensible strictures. "The French farce contains little or nothing of the Latin comedy.

account of the ceremonies of their pub-
lic Acts then follows, in which every
composition was recited, being written
en papeles Damasquinos dediversos colores,
con letras de oro y de plata, et illuminadu-
ras formosas, lo major qua cada una podio.
The best performance had a crown of
gold placed upon it: and the author,
being presented with a joya, or prize,
received a licence to cantar y decir in
publico. He was afterwards conducted
home in form, escorted among others by
two Mantenedores, and preceded by min-
strels and trumpets, where he gave an
entertainment of confects and wine.".
[See supr. vol. i. p. 153. ii. 303.]

[Mr. Ashby thinks it probable that the anonymous correspondent was the Rev. Mr. John Bowles.-PARK.]

There seems to have been a similar establishment at Amsterdam, called Rhederücker camer, or the CHAMBER OF RHETORICIANS, mentioned by Isaacus Pontanus. Who adds, "Sunt autem hi rhetores viri amœni et poetici spiritus, qui lingua vernacula, aut prosa aut vorsa oratione, comœdias, tragoedias, subindeque et mutas personas, et facta maiorum notantes, magna spectantium voluptate exhibent." RER. ET URB. AMST. Lib. ii. c. xvi. pag. 118. edit. 1611. fol. the preceding chapter, he says, that this fraternity of rhetoricians erected a temporary theatre, at the solemn entry of prince Maurice into Amsterdam in 1594,


where they exhibited in DUMB SHOW the history of David and Goliah. Ibid. c. xv. p. 117.


Meteranus, in his Belgic history, speaks largely of the annual prizes, assemblies, and contests, of the guilds or colleges of the rhetoricians, in Holland and the Low Countries. They answered in rhyme, questions proposed by the dukes of Burgundy and Brabant. Ghent in 1539, twenty of these colleges met with great pomp, to discuss an ethical question, and each gave a solution in a moral comedy, magnificently presented in the public theatre. In 1561, the rhetorical guild of Antwerp, called the VIOLET, challenged all the neighbouring cities to a decision of the same sort. On this occasion, three hundred and forty rhetoricians of Brussels appeared on horseback, richly but fantastically habited, accompanied with an infinite variety of pageantries, sports and shows. These had a garland, as a reward for the superior splendor of their entry. Many days were spent in determining the grand questions: during which, there were feastings, bonfires, farces, tumbling, and every popular diversion. BELG. HISTOR. VNIVERSAL. fol. 1597. Lib. i. pag. 31, 32.

Y BIEL. FR. 361. He mentions another edition in 1539. Both at Paris, 12mo.

z In 16mo.

It has neither acts nor scenes, which would only serve to introduce a tedious prolixity: for the true subject of the French farce, or SOTTIE, is every sort of foolery which has a tendency to provoke laughter.-The subject of the Greek and Latin comedy was totally different from every thing on the French stage. For it had more morality than drollery, and often as much truth as fiction. Our MORALITIES hold a place indifferently between tragedy and comedy: but our farces are really what the Romans called mimes, or Priapées, the intended end and effect of which was excessive laughter, and on that account they admitted all kinds of licentiousness, as our farces do at present. In the meantime, their pleasantry does not derive much advantage from rhymes, however flowing, of eight syllables a." Sibilet's work is chiefly founded on Horace. His definitions are clear and just, and his precepts well explained. The most curious part of it is the enumeration of the poets who in his time were of most repute. Jacques Pelletier du Mans, a physician, a mathematician, a poet, and a voluminous writer on various subjects both in prose and verse, also published an ART POETIQUE at Lyons, in 1555". This critic had sufficient penetration to perceive the false and corrupt taste of his cotemporaries. "Instead of the regular ode and sonnet, our language is sophisticated by ballads, roundeaux, lays, and triolets. But with these we must rest contented, till the farces which have so long infatuated our nation are converted into comedy, our martyr-plays into tragedy, and our romances into heroic poems." And again, "We have no pieces in our language written in the genuine comic form, except some affected and unnatural MORALITIES, and other plays of the same character, which do not deserve the name of comedy. The drama would appear to advantage, did it but resume its proper state and antient dignity. We have, however, some tragedies in French learnedly translated, among which is the HECUBA of

a Liv. ii. ch. viii. At the end of Sibilet's work is a critical piece of Quintil against Ch. Fontaine, first printed sepa

rately at Paris, 1538. 16mo.
b By Jean de Tournes. 8vo.
Ch. de L'ODE.

Euripides by Lazare de Baïf," &c.a Of rhyme the same writer says, "S'il n'etoit question que de parler ornement, il ne faudroit sinon écrire en prose, ou s'il n'etoit question que de rimer, il ne faudroit, sinon rimer en farceur: mais en poesie, il faut faire tous les deux, et BIEN DIRE, et BIEN RIMER." His chapters on IMITATION and TRANSLATION have much more philosophy and reflection than are to be expected for his age, and contain observations which might edify modern critics f. Nor must I forget, that Pelletier also published a French translation of Horace's ART OF POETRY at Paris in 1545%. I presume, that Joachim du Bellay's Deffense et Illustration de la LANGUE FRANÇOISE was published at no great distance from the year 1550. He has the same just notion of the drama. tragedies and comedies, if kings and states would restore them in their antient glory, which has been usurped by farces and MORALITIES, I am of opinion that you would lend your assistance; and if you wish to adorn our language, you know where to find models "."

"As to

The Italian vernacular criticism began chiefly in commentaries and discourses on the language and phraseology of Dante, Petrarch, and Boccace. I believe one of the first of that kind is, "Le tre fontane di Nicolò Liburnio sopra la grammatica, e l'eloquenza di Dante, del Petrarcha, e del Boccacio. In Venezia, per Gregorio Gregori, 15261." Numerous expositions, lectures, annotations, and discourses of the same sort, especially on Dante's Inferno, and the Florentine dialect, appeared soon afterwards. Immediately after the publication of their respective poems, Ariosto, whose ORLANDO FURIOSO was styled the nuova poesia, and Tasso, were illustrated or expounded by commentators more intricate than their text. One of the earliest of these is, "Sposizione de Simon Fornari da Reggio sopra l'Orlando Furioso di Lodovico Ariosto. In Firenze per Lo

d Ch. DE LA COMEDIE ET DE LA TRAGEDIE. See also, to the same purpose, Collettet Sur la poesie morale, and Guillaume des Autels, Repos d'un plus grand travail.

e Liv. ii. ch. i. De la RIME.

f See Liv. i. ch. v. and vi.

8 Par Michel Vascosan. 8vo.
h Liv. ii. ch. iv.

In quarto. Again, per Marchio Sessa,

1534. 8vo.

renzo Torrentino 1549k." Perhaps the first criticism on what the Italians call the Volgar Lingua is by Pietro Bembo, "Prose di Pietro Bembo della volgar Lingua divise in tre libri. In Firenze per Lorenzo Torrentino, 15491" But the first edition seems to have been in 1525. This subject was discussed in an endless succession of Regole grammaticali, Osservazioni, Avvertimenti, and Ragionamenti. Here might also be mentioned, the annotations, although they are altogether explanatory, which often accompanied the early translations of the Greek and Latin classics into Italian. But I resign this labyrinth of research to the superior opportunities and abilities of the French and Italian antiquaries in their native literature. To have said nothing on the subject might have been thought an omission, and to have said more, impertinent. I therefore return to our own poetical annals.

Our three great poets, Chaucer, Gower, and Lydgate, seem to have maintained their rank, and to have been in high reputation, during the period of which we are now treating. Splendid impressions of large works were at this time great undertakings. A sumptuous edition of Gower's CONFESSIO AMANTIS was published by Berthelette in 1554. On the same ample plan, in 1555, Robert Braham printed with great accuracy, and a diligent investigation of the antient copies, the first correct edition of Lydgate's TROYBOKE". I have before incidentally remarked", that Nicholas Briggam, a polite scholar, a student at Oxford and at the Inns of Court, and a writer of poetry, in the year 1555, deposited the bones of Chaucer under a new tomb, erected at his own cost, and inscribed with a new epitaph, in the chapel of bishop Blase in Westminster abbey, which still remains". Wilson, as we have just seen in a cita* In 8vo. The Seconde Partie appeared ibid. 1550. 8vo.

lines, which he says was composed by Stephanus Surigonius of Milan, at the request of William Caxton the printer: Nothing can be more incorrect than and which, Leland adds, was written on the first edition in 1513.

1 In quarto.


" See supr. vol. ii. p. 354. Undoubtedly Chaucer was originally buried in this place. Leland cites a Latin ́elegy, or NÆNIA, of thirty-four

a white tablet by Surigonius, on a pillar near Chaucer's grave in the south ile at Westminster. SCRIPT. BRIT. GALFRID. CHAUCerus. See Caxton's EPILOGUE to Chaucer's Booke of Fame, in

tion from his RHETORIC, records an anecdote, that the more accomplished and elegant courtiers were perpetually quoting Chaucer. Yet this must be restricted to the courtiers of Edward the Sixth. And indeed there is a peculiar reason why Chaucer, exclusive of his real excellence, should have been the favorite of a court which laid the foundations of the reformation of religion. It was, that his poems abounded with satyrical strokes against the corruptions of the church, and the dissolute manners of the monks. And undoubtedly Chaucer long before, a lively and popular writer, greatly assisted the doctrines of his cotemporary Wickliffe, in opening the eyes of the people to the absurdities of popery, and exposing its impostures in a vein of humour and pleasantry. Fox the martyrologist, a weak and a credulous compiler, perhaps goes too far in affirming, that Chaucer has undeniably proved the pope to be the antichrist of the apocalypse P.

Of the reign of queen Mary, we are accustomed to conceive every thing that is calamitous and disgusting. But when we turn our eyes from its political evils to the objects which its literary history presents, a fair and flourishing scene appears. In this prospect, the mind feels a repose from contemplating the fates of those venerable prelates, who suffered the most excruciating death for the purity and inflexibility of their faith; and whose unburied bodies, dissipated in ashes, and undistinguished in the common mass, have acquired a more glorious monument, than if they had been interred in magnificent shrines, which might have been visited by pilgrims, loaded with superstitious gifts, and venerated with the pomp of mistaken devotion.

Caxton's CHaucer. Wood says, that Briggam "exercised his muse much in poetry, and took great delight in the works of Jeffrey Chaucer: for whose memory he had so great a respect, that he removed his bones into the south cross-ile or transept of S. Peter's church," &c. ATH. ÖXON. i. 130. I do

not apprehend there was any removal, in this case, from one part of the abbey to another. Chaucer's tomb has appropriated this aile, or transept, to the sepulture or to the honorary monuments of our poets.

P Tom. ii. p. 42. edit. 1684.



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