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Scene 3. Page 425.
TRO. Brother, you have a vice of mercy in you
See a preceding note in vol. i. p. 307, 308.
Sc. 9. p. 444.
HECT. I am unarm'd; forego this vantage, Greek.
The author of this play, in his account of the death of Hector, has, undoubtedly, departed from his original; and, as it should seem, without necessity. Mr. Steevens, on this occasion, takes notice of Lydgate's vehement reprehension of Homer's praise of Achilles, and of his gross violation of the characters drawn by the Grecian poet; but he has censured the wrong person. Lydgate has only followed his predecessor Guido of Colonna, who, (or perhaps the original writer Benoit de Saint More,) adopting the statement in the prologue to Dares Phrygius, appears to regard the latter as a more correct and veracious. historian than Homer.
Sc. 9. p. 451.
PAN. Some galled goose of Winchester would hiss.
If Mr. Mason had accidentally consulted the English part of Littelton's excellent dictionary, he would not have doubted that " any symptom of the venereal disease was called a Winchester goose."
ON THE STORY OF THIS PLAY.
Of Lollius, the supposed inventor of this story, it will become every one to speak with diffidence. Until something decisive relating to him shall occur, it is better to conclude with Mr. Tyrwhitt, that Chaucer borrowed the greatest part of his admirable story from Boccaccio's Philostrato ; and that he either invented the rest altogether, or obtained it from some completer copy of the Philostrato than that which we now possess. What Dryden has said of Lollius is entirely destitute of proof, and appears to be nothing more than an inference from Chaucer's own expressions.
It would be a matter of extreme difficulty to ascertain, with any sort of precision, when and in what manner the story of Troilus and Cressida first made its appearance. Whether the author of the Philostrato was the first who detailed it so minutely as it is there found, remains to be decided; but it is certain that so much of it as relates to the departure of Cressida from Troy, and her subsequent amour with Diomed, did exist long before the time of Boccaccio. The work in which it is most known at present is the Troy book of Guido of Colonna, composed in 1287, and, as he states, from Dares Phrygius, and Dictys Cretensis, neither of whom mentions the name of Cressida. Mr. Tyrwhitt, as it has eventually proved, had, with his usual penetration and critical acuteness, suspected that Guido's Dares was in reality an old Norman French poet named Benoit de Saint More, who wrote in the reign of our Henry the Second, and who himself made use of Dares. This work seems to be the earliest authority now remaining. The task which Mr. Tyrwhitt had declined, has on this occasion been submitted to; and the comparison has shown that Guido, whose performance had long been regarded as original, has only translated the Norman writer into Latin. It is most probable
that he found Benoit's work when he came into England, as he is recorded to have done; and that pursuing a practice too prevalent in the middle ages, he dishonestly suppressed the mention of his real original. What has been advanced by Mr. Warton and some other writers respecting an old French romance under the name of Troilus and Cressida will not carry the story a moment higher; because this French romance is in fact nothing more than a much later performance, about the year 1400, compiled by Pierre de Beauvau from the Philostrato itself. This has been strangely confounded with several other French works on the Troy story related with great variety of circumstance, all or most of which were modelled on that of Guido of Colonna or his original; citing, as they had done, the supposititious histories of Dictys and Dares. It is worth while to embrace this opportunity of mentioning, for the first time, that there is a prose French version of Benoit's metrical romance; but when made, or by whom, does not appear in a MS. of it transcribed at Verona in
Lydgate professedly followed Guido of Colonna, occasionally making use of and citing other authorities. In a short time afterwards
Raoul le Fevre compiled from various materials his Recueil des histoires de Troye, which was translated into English and published by Caxton; but neither of these authors has given more of the story of Troilus and Cressida than any of the other romances on the war of Troy; Lydgate contenting himself with referring to Chaucer. Of Raoul le Fevre's work, often printed, there is a fine MS. in the British museum, Bibl. Reg. 17, E. II., under the title of Hercules, that must have belonged to Edward the Fourth, in which Raoul's name is entirely and unac countably suppressed. The above may serve as a slight sketch of the romances on the history of the wars of Troy; to describe them all particu larly would fill a volume.
It remains to inquire concerning the materials that were used in the construction of this play. Mr. Steevens informs us that Shakspeare received the greatest part of them from the Troy book of Lydgate. It is presumed that the learned commentator would have been nearer the fact had he substituted the Troy book or recueyl translated by Caxton from Raoul le Fevre; which, together with a translation of Homer, supplied the incidents of the Trojan war. Lydgate's work was becoming obsolete, whilst the other was at this