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Alonzo and Fernandez de Cordova and Lambert Palmart. This Sallust was the second book there printed by these Printers. According to Beloe, iv. 70. there was a copy of it at Blen-. heim.
Chroniques (les Grandes) de France depuis les Troiens jusqu'à la mort de Charles VII. en 1461. 3 tom. folio.
Paris. Pasq. Bonhomme. 1476. These Chronicles are known under the name of “ Chroniques de Saint Denys ;" and this edition, which is the first, is also the first book known to have been printed at Paris with the date added. A detailed description of the book may be seen in Brunet's Manuel, tom. i.
Count Mc Carthy bought his copy at the Valliere sale for 300 francs-and at Count Mc Carthy's sale the same copy produced 500 francs.
Chroniques de Normandie. Folio. Rouen. 1487.
. Very rare, and the first known book printed at Rouen with a date—as the Livre Coustumier de Normandie, in folio dated 1483, has no name of place, and perhaps its date is that of its composition.
See Brunet Manuel du Libraire, tom. i. p. 477.
Gower (John) Confessio Amantis, that is to saye in Englisshe,
the Confessyon of the Lover. Folio. Emprynted at Westmestre by Wyllyam Caxton. (1493 by mistake for) 1483.
West, 1773, 91. 9s. Daly, 1792, 151. 78. ld. Gulston, 71. 108. Mason, 1807, (first and last leaves wanting,) 151. 158.
Duke of Roxburghe 3361. bought by the Duke of Devonshire. Merly Library, 3151. bought by the Marquis of Blandford, at whose sale, after he became Duke of Marlborough, it sold for 2051. 168. to Watson Taylor, Esq.; and when this latter Gentleman's Library was brought to the hammer in 1823 this same book, being found to be imperfect, only sold for 571. 15s.
It may amuse to learn Hearne's opinion of the value of the Harleian copy, which is described as an extraordinary fair one. Hearne never saw so complete a book of this edition, and thought it worth more than Two Guineas !!! Frognall Dibdin enthusiastically adds, “twenty times two guineas could not now procure a perfect copy."
On this piece, says Warton, Gower's character and reputation as a Poet are almost entirely founded. His French Sonnets, according to Campbell in his Essay on English Poetry, (p. 74,) are marked by elegance and sensibility,* and his English Poetry contains a digest of all that constituted the knowledge of his age. His cotemporaries greatly esteemed him ; and the Scottish as well as English Writers of the subsequent period, speak of him with unqualified admiration.
* Mr. Todd has transcribed some of them from the original MSS. in the Marquis of Stafford's Library. See his Illustrations of Gover and Chaucer, p. 102 to 108.
Both Warton and Campbell have detailed the plan and execution of the Confessio Amantis, and which the latter says is peculiarly ill contrived.
A lover, whose case has not a particle of interest, applies according to the Catholic ritual to a Confessor, who, at the same time, whimsically enough, bears the additional character of a Pagan Priest of Venus, and like the Mystagogue in the Picture of Cebes, is called Genius. The Holy Father, it is true, speaks like a good Christian, and communicates more scandal about the intrigues of Venus than Pagan Author ever told.
A pretext is afforded by the ceremony of confession, for the Priest not only to initiate his Pupil in the duties of a lover, but in the wide range of ethical and physical knowledge; and at the mention of every virtue and vice, a tale is introduced by way of illustration. Does the Confessor wish to warn the Lover against impertinent curiosity ? He introduces a propos to that failing, the History of Actæon, of peeping memory. The Confessor inquires if he is addicted to a vain glorious disposition; because if he is, he can tell him a story about Nebuchadnezzar. Does he wish to hear of the virtue of conjugal patience ? it is aptly inculcated by the anecdote respecting Socrates, who, when he received the contents of Xantippe's pail upon his head replied to the provocation only by a witticism. Thus with shrieving narrations, and didactic speeches, the work is extended to thirty thousand lines, in the course of which the virtues and vices are all regularly allegorized.*
. The Confessio Amantis (says Warton) was written at the command of Richard 2d, who, meeting our Poet Gower
* Campbell's Essay.
rowing on the Thames near London, invited him into the royal barge, and after much conversation requested him to book some new thing.
Gower's particular model (says Warton) appears to have been John of Meun's Romaunt de la Rose. He has, however, seldom attempted to imitate the picturesque imageries, and expressive personifications, of that exquisite allegory. His most striking portraits, which yet are conceived with no powers of creation, nor delineated with any fertility of fancy, are idleness, avarice, micherie or thieving, and negligence the secretary of sloth. Instead of boldly clothing these qualities with corporeal attributes, aptly and poetically imagined, he coldly, yet sensibly, describes their operations and enumerates their properties.
What Gower wanted in invention he supplied from his common-place Book, which appears to have been stored with an inexhaustible fund of instructive maxims, pleasant narrations, and philosophical definitions. It seems to have been his object to croud all his erudition into this elaborate perform ance; and there is often some degree of contrivance and art in his manner of introducing and adapting subjects of a very distant nature, and which are totally foreign to his general design. Considered in a general view, the Confessio Amantis' may be pronounced to be no unpleasing miscellany of those shorter tales which delighted the readers of the middle age.
The only Classics which our Author cites are Virgil, Ovid, Horace, and Tully. Amidst his grave Literature, he appears to have been a great reader of Romances.*
The Rev. Mr. Todd, in his Account of the Lives and Writings of Gower and Chaucer, has aptly illustrated Warton's preceding remark, by citing from the Lambeth MSS. a bequest by Guy Beauchamp Earl of Warwick, to the Abbey of Bordesley in Worcestershire, of a long list of Romances, some of which are alluded to by Gower himself, and it is therefore reasonable to suppose that he was well acquainted with many others in this collection. It is an exceedingly curious illustration of Ancient Literary History, and will amply repay the inquisitive reader for the trouble of turning to p. 161, of the “Illustrations of Gower and Chaucer," 8vo. London, 1810.
Mr. Ellis, in his Specimens of the Early English Poets, vol. i. has pointed out some portions of Gower's work, which he thinks might be reprinted with advantage
Danse Macabre. La Danse Macabre. First Edition.
Small folio. Paris. 1485. Ce présent Livre est appelé Miroer salutaire pour toutes
gens.- La Danse Macabre nouvelle.-La Danse Macabre des Femmes, et le debat du Corps et de l'Ame. Folio. Impr. à Paris par Guyot Marchant. 1486. At the Valliere sale 45 francs.
A copy on vellum, with 35 highly finished illuminations, is in the Archiepiscopal Library at Lambeth.
There was also a copy of the first part of this volume printed on vellum, with 19 illuminations, sold at the Valliere sale for 220 francs.
The dates of some of the other editions of this rarity are 1490, 1491, 1499, 1501, 1531, 1550, and 1589.