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be no difficult task to conceive the delight, and the mental profit, which a genius such as Shakspeare's, of which one characteristic is its fertility in aphoristic precept, must have derived from the study of Lord Bacon's Essay! The apothegmatic treasures of Shakspeare have been lately condensed into a single volume by the judgment and industry of Mr. Lollt, and it may be safely affirmed, that no uninspired works, either in our own or any other language, can be produced, however bulky or voluminous, which contain a richer mine of preceptive wisdom than may be found in those two books of the philosopher and the poet, the Essays of Bacon, and the Aphorisms of Shakspeare.

CHAPTER III.

View of Romantic Literature during the Age of Shakspeare-Shakspeare's Attachment to, and Use

of, Romances, Tales, and Ballads.

That a considerable, and perhaps the greater, portion of Shakspeare's Library consisted of Romances and Tales, we have already mentioned as a conclusion fully warranted, from the extensive use which he has made of them in his dramatic works. What the precious tomes specifically were which covered his shelves, we have now no means of positively ascertaining; but it is evident that we shall make a near approximation to the truth, if we can bring forward the library of a contemporary collector of romantic literature, and at the same time contemporary authority for the romances then most in vogue.

Now it fortunately happens, that we have not only a few curious descriptions, by the most unexceptionable authors of the reigns of Elizabeth and James, of the popular reading of their day, but we possess also a catalogue of the collection of one of the most enthusiastic hoarders of the sixteenth century, in the various branches of romantic lore; a document which may be considered, in fact, as placing within our view a kind of fac-simile of this, the most copious department of Shakspeare's book boudoir.

The interesting detail has been given us by Laneham, in his "Account of the Queen's Entertainment at Killingworth Castle, 1575.” The author is describing the Storial Show by a procession of the Coventry men, in celebration of Hock Tuesday, when he suddenly exclaims,-“But aware, keep bak, make room noow, heer they cum.

“And fyrst Captain Cox, an old man I promiz yoo ; by profession a Mason, and that right skilfull; very cunning in fens, and hardy az Gavin ; for his ton-sword hanys at biz tablz eend ; great oversight hath he in matters of storie : For az for King Arthurz book, Huon of Burdeaus, the foour sons of Aymon, Bevys of Hamplon, The Squyre of lo degree, The Knight of Courtesy, and the Lady Faguell, Frederick or Gene, Syr Eglamoour, Syr Tryamoour, Syr Lamwell, Syr Isenbras, Syr Gawyn, Olyver of the Casil, Lucres and Curialus, Virgil's Lile, the Castl of Ladiez, the Wido Edylh, the King and the Tanner, Trier Rous, Howleglas, Gargantua, Robinhood, Adam Bel, Clim of the Clough and Williain of Cloudsley, the Churl and the Burd, the Seven Wise Masters, the Wise lapt in a Morels Skin, the Sak full of Nuez, the Seargcaunt that became a Fryar, Skogan, Collyn Clout, the Fryar and the Boy, Elynor Rumming, and the Nutbrooun Maid, with many moe then I rehearz heere; I believe hee have them all at his fingers endz.

Then in Philosophy, both morall and naturall, I think hee be az palurally overseen ; beside Poetrie and Astronomie, and oother hid Sciencez, az I may gesse by the omberty of his books; whearof parl, az I remember, The Shepherdz Kalender, The Ship of Foolz, Danieiz Dreamz, The Bookc of Fortune, Stans puer ad Megsamn, The by way lo the Spill-houso, Julian of Brain

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ord's Testament, the Castle of Love, the Booget of Demannds, the Hondred Mery Talez, the Book of Riddels, lhe Seaven Sororz of Wemen, the prooud Wives Pater Noster, the Chapman of a Peneworth of Wit: Beside his Auncient Playz, Yooth and Charitee, Hikskorner, Nugizee, Impacient Poverty, and berewith Doctor Boords Breviary of Health. What should I rehearz beer, what a bunch of Ballets and Songs, all auncient ; as Broom broom on Hill, So Wo iz me begon, Troly lo, Over a whinny Meg, Hey ding a ding, Bony lass upon a green, My hony on gave me a bek, By a bank as I lay : and a hundred more he hath fair wrapt up in parchment, and bound with a whip cord. And az for Almanacks of Antiquilee (a point for Ephemeridees), I ween he can sbeaw from Jazper Laet of Antwarp unto Nostradam of Frauns, and thens unto oour Joba Securiz of Salsbury. To stay yee no longer heerein, I dare say hee halb az fair a Library for lheez Sciencez, and az many goodly monuments both in prose and poetry, and at after noonz can can lalk az much without book, az ony inholder bel wist Brainford and Bagshot, whal degree soever he be.”

Of the library of this military bibliomaniac, who is represented as “marching on valiantly before, clean trust and gartered above the knee, all fresh in a velvet cap, flourishing with bis ton sword,” Mr. Dibdin has appreciated the value when he declares, that he should have preferred it to the extensive collection of the once celebrated magician, Dr. Dee. “ How many,” he observes,

of Dee's magical books he had exchanged for the pleasanter mayic of Old Ballads and Romances, I will not take upon me to say: but that this said bibliomaniacal Captain had a library, which, even from Mr. Laneham's imperfect description of it, I should have preferred to the four thousand volumes of Dr. John Dee, is most unquestionable.”

He then adds in a nole, in reference to the “ Bunch of Ballads and Songs, all auncient :-fair Wrapt up in parchment, and bound with a whip cord !” “it is no wonder that Ritson, in the historical essay prefixed to his collection of Scottish Songs, should speak of some of these ballads wilh a zest, as if he would have sacrificed half his library lo unlie the said • whip cord' packet. And equally joyous, I ween, would my friend Mr. R. H. Evans, of Pall-Mall, have been-during bis editorial labors in publishing a new edition of his father's collection of Ballads—(an edilion, by the by, which gives us more of the genuine spirit of the Corean Collection than any with which I am acquainted)-equally joyous would Mr. Evans have been, to have had the inspection of some of these bonny songs. The late Duke of Roxburghe, of never-dying bibliomanical celebrity, would have parted with half the insignia of his order of the Garter, to have oblained clean original copies of these fascinating effusions !"f

Though the Romances and Ballads in Captain Cox's Library are truly termed "ancient,” yet it appears, from unquestionable contemporary authority, that these romances, either in their original dress or somewhat modernised, were still sung to the harp, in Shakspeare's days, as well in the halls of the nobility and gentry, as in the streets and ale-houses, for the recreation of the multitude: thus Puttenham, in his “ Arte of English Poesie,” published in 1589, speaking of historical poetry adapted to the voice, says,

“We our selves who compiled this treatise bave wrillen for pleasure a little brief Romance or historicall ditly in the English tong of the Isle of Great Britaine in short and long meetres, and by breaches or divisions to be more commodiously song to the harpe in places of assembly, where the company shal be desirous to beare of old adventures and reliaunces of poble knights in limes past, as are those of King Arthur and his knights of the round table, Sir Bevys of Soulhampton, Guy of Warricke and others like ;" and he afterwards notices the “blind barpers or such like laverne minstrels that give a fit of mirth for a groat, their matters being for the most part stories of old lime, as the tale of Sir Topaz, the reportes of Bevis of Southampton, Guy of Warwicke, Adam Bell, and Clymme of the Clough, and such other old Romances or historicall rimes, made purposely for recreation of the common people at Christmasse diners and bride ales, and in tavernes and ale-bouses, and such other places of base resort.”

Bishop Hall, likewise, in his Satires printed in 1598, alluding to the tales

that lay

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a translator. In the latter capacity he gave versions of the Bucolics and Georgies of Virgil, both in rhyme of fourteen feet, 1575, and in the regular Alexandrine without rhyme, 1589; of Alian's Various History in 1576; of Select Epistles of the Cicero, 1576, and in the same year, a “Panoplie of Epistles from Tully Isocrates, Pliny, and others; of the Greek Panegyric of Synesius, and of various Latin works of the fifteenth century. As an original miscellaneous writer, his pieces are still more numerous, and, for the most part, occupied by moral and religious elei subjects; for example, one is called “The Cundyt of Comfort," 1579; a second lies "The Battel between the Virtues and Vices,” 1582, and a third "The Diamond of Devotion,” 1586. This last is so singularly quaint both in its title-page and disah visions, so superior, indeed, in these departments, to the titles of his contemporanea Lodge, and so indicative of the curious taste of the times in the methodical and rangement of literary matter, as to call for a further description. The completarea title runs thus : “ The Diamond of Devotion : Cut and squared into sixe severdere pointes : namelie, 1. The Footepath of Felicitie. 2. A Guide to Godlines. 3.11 Schoole of Skill. 4. A Swarme of Bees. 5. A Plant of Pleasure. 6. A Groei nie of Graces. Full of manie fruitfull lessons availeable unto the leading of a goalan and reformed life.” The “ Footepath of Felicitie” has ten divisions, concludes with a “ looking glasse for the Christian reader; the 6 Guide to Godlines," is dat vided into three branches, and these branches into so many blossoms; branch containing four blossoms, the second thirteen, and the third ten ; Schoole of Skill” is digested into three sententious sequences of the A. B.C. “Swarme of Bees” is distributed into ten honeycombs, including two hund lessons ; the “ Plant of Pleasure” bears fourteen several flowers, in proses verse; the " Grove of Graces” exhibits forty-two plants, or Graces, for dine and supper, and the volume concludes with a briefe praier."

From the specimens which we have seen of Fleming's composition, it wo appear, that his affectation was principally confined to his title pages and divisi for his prose is more easy, natural, and perspicuous, than most of his conte poraries. He was rector of Saint Pancras, Soper-lane, and died in 1607.

Gervase Markham, whom we have incidentally mentioned in various par
this work, was the most indefatigable writer of his era. He was descendel
ancient family in Nottinghamshire, and commenced author about the year!
The period of his death is not ascertained ; but he must have attained a good
age, for he fought for Charles the First, and obtained a Captain's commisi

His education had been very liberal, for he was esteemed a good
Jar, and he was well versed in the French, Italian, and Spanish lango

a younger son, it is probable that his finances were very limited,
and recourse to his pen as an additional means of support. "Hese

Sir Egerton P-dges, " to have become a general compiler for the s, and his v Eks had as numerous impressions as those of Burm han in

No subject, indeed, appears to have been rejedelen swifry, farriery, horsemanship, and military

fishing, and archery, heraldry, poetry, con la

ed his attention and exercised his genius and indo and 405. Tanner's Bibliotheca, p. 237, 238, and Censura Literary

Fleming's Works, see Herbert's Typographical Antiquities; Wartat Tu vi pls.

gee of this ingenious author's productions is to be found in any do es to the works cited at the close of this note. Besemanshippe, 4:0. 1593.-2. Thyrsys and Daphne, 1593 —2 The li

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hecdeavour to form one, noticing only the first editions, when an

-4. The poem of poems, or Sions muse, ob
clogues, Svo. 1595.-5. The most hoone
1 eight-line stanzas, Sro. 1595.-6. Denomat

. third of that name, king of Fraune; and by
ated, 1598-S The Teares of the belored, the

Walter Devoreux, &c., 410. 1597.-7. Ansel

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His popularity, in short, in all these various branches was unrivalled ; and such was his reputation as a cattle doctor, that the booksellers, aware of the value of bis works in this kind of circulation, got him to sign a paper in 1617, in which be bound himself not to publish any thing further on the diseases of " horse, ose, cowe, sheepe, swine, goates, etc.”. His books on agriculture were not superseded until the middle of the eighteenth century, and the fifteenth impression of his * Cheap and Good Husbandry,” which was originally published in 1616, is now before us, dated 1695. Nor were his works on rural amusements less relished; for his ** Country Contentments," the first edition of which appeared in 1615, had reached the eleventh in 1675. The same good fortune attended him even as a poet, for in "England's Parnassus, 1600, he is quoted thirty-four times, forming

largest number of extracts taken from any minor bard in the book. years to have been an enthusiast in all that relates to field-sports, and his works, ow becoming scarce, are, in many respects, curious and interesting, and display reat versatility of talent. By far the greater part of them, as is evident from

Seir dates, was written before the year 1620, though many were subsequently prave rrected and enlarged.

Having thus given a sketch of three great classes of miscellaneous writers, ndiri will be necessary to add some notice of a few circumstances which more pelidt liarly distinguished this branch of litərature during the life-time of our poet. Jan It is to the reign of Elizabeth, that we have to ascribe the origin of genuine ab nted Newpapers, a mode of publication which has now become absolutely esnce itial to the wants of civilised life.

The epoch of the Spanish invasion forins Bit of this interesting innovation, sor, previous to the daring attempt of Spain, oral public news had been circulated in manuscript, and it was left to the sagacity

Elizabeth and the legislative prudence of Burleigh to discover, how highly prar lol, in this agitated crisis, would be a more rapid circulation of events, through ins' medium of the press. Accordingly, in April, 1588, when the formidable Araist la approached the shores of old England, appeared the first number of “ The , tha lish Mercury.” That it was published very frequently, is evident from the

umstance that No. 50, the earliest number now preserved, and which is in the nenu sh Museum, Sloane MSS., No.4106, is dated the 23d of July, 1588. It resembles

London Gazette of the present day, with respect to the nature of its articles,
of which presents us with this curious information :-“Yesterday the Scotch
assador had a private audience of Her Majesty, and delivered a letter from
(ing bis master, containing the most cordial assurances of adhering to ller
sty's interests, and to those of the protestant religion; and the young King
o Her Majesty's minister at his court, that all the favour he expected from
španiards was, the courtesy of Polyphemus to Ulysses, that he should be
tred the last."

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Saint John, &c. 410. 1600—9. Cavalerice, or the English Horseman, 4to. 1607.–10. England's

alluding his beginning from Sir Philip Sydney's ending, 4to, 1607.-11. Ariorto's Satyres, iu). 12. The Famous Whore, or Noble Courtezan, 41o. 1609.-13. Cure of all diseases, incident w Atn. 1610. - 14. The English Husbandmar in two parts, 1613.-15. The Art of Husbandry, first Mfrom the Latin of Cour Heresbachiso, by Barnaby Googe, 410. 1614–16. Corintry Contenuneuts, lusbandman's Recreations, 460, 1615. - 17. The English Huswife, 4to, 1615.--18. Cheap and Good dry, 4to. 1616.–19. Liebault's

. Le Maison Rustique, or the country Farm, folio. 1616 - The Eng21, 410. 1617. – 18. How To Chuse, Ride, Traine, And Diet Both Hunting Horses And Running 1599. - 22. The Inrichment of the Weald of Kent, 410: -23. Markham's Farewel to Husbaudry, 1.-24. The Art of Fowling. Svo. 1621. - 25. Herod and Antipater, a Tragedy, 410. 1622.–2. The Art of Husbandry, contained in Four Bookes, 410, 1631.-27. The Art of Archerie, 8vo. 1634. 4to. 1638. – 31. The Euglish Farrier, 4to. 1649.–32. Epitome concerning the Di-eases of Beasis Faithful Farrier, Svo. 1685.-29. The Soldierso Exercise, 3d edit. 1613.–30. The Way to Ger lary, 8vo.-34. His Masterpiece, concerning curing of Cattle, 460. an edition !662 – 10. Mario n's Lamentations, 4to. 1601.) rous editions of many of these works, with alterations in the title-pages, were published to the 10. See Ceasura Literaria, vol. ii, p. 217-225. Ritson's Bibliographia Poetica, p. 273.23 burcdotes of Literature, vol. ii. p. 244, et seq. and vol. ii.

P. 385. Biographia Dramatica. British Bibliographer, No. iv. p. 3€0, 381. Waruna's Hist. of Eug! fol. ii, p. 455 Chalmers's life of Rudiliman, 8vo. Pichota Nichols's Literary Anecdotes, vol. iv. p. 31, and History of Great Britaia, vol. i. p. 145, 156.

339. Bridges's Theatrum Poetarum,

exclaims,

“ No man his threshold better knowes, than I

Brute's first arrival, and first victory;
St. George's sorrel, or his crosse of blood,
Arthur's round board, or Caledonian wood,
Or holy battles of bold Charleinaine,
What were his knights did Salem's siege maintaine:
How the mad rival of faire Angelice

Was physick'd from the new-found paradise! * and even so late as Burton, who finished his interesting work just previous to our great poet's decease, we have sufficient testimony that the major part of our gentry was employed in the perusal of these seductive narratives: "If they read a book at any time,” remarks this eccentric writer, "’tis an English Chronicle, Sr. Huon of Bordeaux, Amadis de Gaul, etc.; and subsequently, in depicting the inamoratoes of the day, he accuses them of “reading nothing but play books, idle poems, jests, Amadis de Gaul, the Knight of the Sun, the Seven Champions, Palmerin de Oliva, Huon of Bordeaux, etc."

These contemporary authorities prove, to a certain extent, what were considered the most popular romances in the reigns of Elizabeth and James ; but it will be satisfactory to enquire a little more minutely into this branch of literature.

The origin of the metrical Romance may be traced to the fostering influence of our early Norman monarchs, who cultivated with great ardour the French language ; and it was from the courts of these sovereigns that the French themselves derived the first romances in their own tongue. # The gratification resulting from the recital or chaunting of these metrical tales was then confined, and continued to be for some centuries, to the mansions of the great, owing to the vast expense of maintaining or rewarding the minstrels with whom, at that time, a knowledge of these splendid fictions exclusively rested. No sooner, however, was the art of printing discovered, than the wonders of romance were thrown open to the eager curiosity of the public, and the presses of Caxton and Winkin de Worde groaned under the production of prose versions from the romantic poesy of the Anglo-Norman bards.

So fascinating were the wild incidents and machinery of these volumes, and so rapid was their consequent circulation, that neither the varied learning nor the theological polemics of the succeeding age, availed to interrupt their progress; and it was not until towards the close of the seventeenth century, that the seats of the knight and the spells of the enchanter ceased to astonish and exhilarate the halls of our fathers,

In the whole course of this extensive career, from the era of the conquest to the age of Milton, a poet whose youth, as he himself tells us, was nourished "among those losty fables and romances, which recount, in sublime cantos, the deeds of knighthood,” perhaps no period can be mentioned in which a greater love of romantic fiction existed, than that which marks the reign of Elizabeth; and this, too, notwithstanding the improvement of taste, and the progress of classical learning; for though the national credulity had been chastened by the gradual efforts of reason and science, yet was the daring imagery of romance still the favourite resource of the bard and the novelist, who, skilfully blending its potent magic with the colder but now fashionable fictions of pagan antiquity, flung increasing splendour over the union, and gave that permanency of attraction which only the peculiar and unsettered genius of the Elizabethan era could bestow.

Confining ourselves at present, however, chiefly to the consideration of the prose romance, we may observe, that five distinct classes of it were prevalent in the age of Shakspeare, which we may designate by the appellations of AngloNorman, Oriental, Italian, Spanish, and Pastoral Romance.

* Chalmer's English Poets, vol. v. p. 283, col. 2. + Anatomy of Melancholy, 8th edit. p. $4, 177.

# See Ellis's Specimens of Early English Metrical Romances, vol. i. Introduction, p. 28; and the Abbo de la Rue's Dissertations on the Anglo-Norman poets, Archæologia, vol. xii. and xiii.

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