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of pious fictions The golden legend, but in multitudes of similar stories, denominated in France contes devots, and composed for the purpose of counteracting the great influence which the witty and licentious stories of the minstrels had obtained, of which they were palpable imitations both in construction and versification. Most of these were founded on miracles supposed to have been operated by the Virgin Mary. The earliest known specimens of them were composed in the twelfth century by Hugues Farsi, a monk of St. John de Vignes at Soissons, who was soon followed by many imitators both in prose and verse. His own work was turned into French verse by Gautier de Coinsi, another monk of Soissons, about 1230. A similar collection is the Lives of the holy fathers, chiefly from Saint Jerome, and anonymously composed in French verse by some person whose name deserved to
b A fine collection of them, in verse, was in the library of the Duke de la Valliere. One volume is in MS., Harl. 4401, two others in the author's possession, as well as a third in prose, beautifully painted in camaieu gris. Some of those in prose have been printed. See a memoir by Racine in the Acad. des inscript. tom. xviii. p. 360. Specimens of them may be seen in the fifth volume of that very entertaining work the Fabliaux et contes of M. Le Grand.
have been recorded on account of the great merit of the work, which would be deemed an ornament to any period, for the excellence of the poetry.
The promptuary of examples for the use of preachers, at the end of Herolt's Sermones discipuli, composed in 1418, has been already mentioned by Mr. Warton, who has given a curious and correct account of that work; but he has omitted to notice, that, among a multitude of pious authors cited in it, the name of Ovid appears. This practice of indiscriminate quotation became afterwards very common. It was, indeed, sanctioned by a preceding custom, among religious writers, of moralizing works of all denominations. Thus, to mention only a few, Thomas Walleys, a Welsh Dominican frier, had published his moralizations of Ovid's metamorphoses, in the fourteenth century. The Bestiarium, a treatise on animals, is, as well as the Gesta Romanorum, perhaps an earlier instance. Afterwards the ce
< There is a great deal of confusion respecting this man, some making him an English Jacobin of the fourteenth century. He has been mistaken for other persons of the same name, and his works are by no means well ascertained, being often confounded with those of Nicolas Trivet and others. In his Ovid he has been indebted to a preceding work by
lebrated, but licentious, Romance of the rose was moralized by Jean Molinet. Even the game of chess was moralized; for the reader who may take up Caxton's translation of Jacobus de Casolis, will be grievously disappointed should he expect to find any didactic or even historical information. We are not to wonder, therefore, if on the restoration of letters, a system of morality was extracted from sop and other fabulists; and, accordingly, some of the early printed editions of Æsop were published under the title of Esopus moralizatus, and this, no doubt, led the way to the moral applications to his fables which afterwards appeared in other languages.
Among the preachers who interspersed their sermons with narrations of various kinds, a Carthusian monk of the fifteenth century deserves particular mention. With as much quaintness as humility, he styles himself Guillelmus Hilacensis quondam simplex cordatus pauperculus discalci
Alexander Neckam. Another allegorical work on Ovid's metamorphoses was written about 1370, by Giovanni Buonsignore di Castello, and a tropological explanation of them was published by Pierre Lavigne, about 1500. There is also a manuscript in the Royal library at Paris, intitled Ovidii metamorphosis moralisata, per Johannem Bourgauldum. See Labbe nova bill, MSS., p. 321.
atus ac contemptibilis denudatus, sapientissimorum rudissimus, electorum infimus, et minorum minimus. He has left a volume of sermons on the Lord's prayer, with stories in every page. In the British museum there is a very curious collection of Latin sermons, compiled about the reign of Henry the Sixth, by a person who calls himself a vicar of Magdalen college, Oxford. They abound with stories from Æsop, Cicero, Seneca, Valerius Maximus, Saint Austin, venerable Bede, &c. Stephen Baron, an English Minorite in the reign of Henry the Eighth, has left a similar volume of sermons preached before the university of Cambridge.
Among the most remarkable persons of this description who soon followed, were fathers Menot, Maillard, Barelete, Raulin, Vincent Ferrier, Pierre de Boves, &c., whose discourses are filled with quotations from Virgil, Valerius Maximus, Apuleius, Dante, Petrarch, and the Gesta Roma
It was printed at Paris, 1494, in 12mo, by Geringard Rembolt.
e MS. Harl. 5396.
This manuscript contains another similar collection; and these are the more worthy of being noticed, as we have very few of the kind printed in England.
These were printed by Wynkyn de Worde, and at Paris, without date.
norum. Erasmus, ridiculing the absurdities of some of the theologians, mentions their practice of quoting the Speculum historiale and Gesta Romanorums. Schelhorn speaks of a copy of the latter in his possession, dated 1499, in which some former possessor had marked against many of the stories the year in which he had used them in his sermons. Even in the eighteenth century the Italians had not left off this custom. ley states, that he heard a buffoon preacher at Rome, who stuffed his discourse with a thousand tales, among which was that of father Philip's geese, from Boccaccio.
preachers of the middle ages appear to have been indebted, and which deserves mention here not only on that account, but also from its having hitherto remained in unmerited obscurity. This may be partly owing to its having never been printed. It is a collection of tales and fables that has been ascribed to Odo de Ceriton,
"Hic mihi stultam aliquam et indoctam fabulam, ex Speculo opinor historiali, aut Gestis Romanorum, in medium adferunt, et eandem interpretantur allegoricè, tropologice, et anagogicè." Stultitiæ laus. Basil. 1780, 8vo. p. 261. hAmoenit. eccles, i. 807.
Observ. on Italy, ii. 108.