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silver clasps and studs for King Henry III.'s great book of Romances. Henry III. was a keen reader of romance, and a munificent patron of Hélie de Borron, the author of Palamedes.' So, too, was Edward I. Among his books is unus liber de Romauntz qui incipit Cristiens sevoet entremettre.? Probably this is part of the book which Rusticien de Pise tells us, in his Preface to Gyron le Courtois,' he was employed by Edward to translate. The end of the 14th and beginning of the 15th century witnessed the commencement of what may be called the First Renaissance in England. The taste for books which bore such rich fruit in France and Burgundy extended to this country.
The Duke of Bedford, whose celebrated missal is one of the most treasured artistic productions of the age, was a magnificent book-collector. He had unique opportunities, for he is said to have transported to this country the contents of the library which King John in 1350 had begun to collect in Paris. Though Henry VI. was not a literary Mæcenas, like Philippe le Bon at Bruges, he possessed a valuable library, and many of the MSS. which were illuminated for him still exist. The library of Henry VIII. contained a valuable collection of theological, classical, historical, and miscellaneous literature in all languages. In monastic libraries, so far as we are aware, only one copy of Dante can be traced. It was a prohibited work among Churchmen. Henry VIII, possessed an edition of Dante in the Castilian tongue. Perhaps Savonarola's Triumphus Crucis' owed its place in his library to the great Dominican's antagonism to the Pope. Thucydides and Josephus (in French), Livy, Cæsar, and Eusebius, Comines, Monstrelet, Froissart, and a a variety of other chroniclers form the nucleus of an excellent historical library. Of lighter literature, with which we are more immediately concerned, the principal works are Boccaccio, Petrarch, Marot, Alain Chartier, Gower, Hunting and Hawking,' and a variety of romances including Listory du Alexandre in Françoys,’ Les Gestes Romains,' Lyf of the Virgin Helene, the Romant de la Rose,' • La destruction de Troy,' and a Book of Balades written.'
In the middle of the 16th century, the taste for book-collecting had gained a firm hold upon the country. Queen Elizabeth herself was a bibliomaniac, though her passion for books was excelled by Archbishop Parker, Sir Robert Cotton, Sir Thomas Bodley, and Dr. John Dee. Books were sumptuously bound, and virtuosos were curious in the choice of their clasps and their silk strings, fastidious in the erection of their libraries, nice in their taste for engraved borders, title-pages, and capital initials. The contents of one royal library of the day are known to us,
and to the collection belongs the romantic and pathetic interest that hovers round the name of Mary Queen of Scots. Her library is composed of books of devotion, poetry, history, and fiction. In gloomy Holyrood, and among sour-visaged Calvinists, she needed all the consolation and distraction her religion or her literary taste could afford. Among her works of fiction were the • Romance of Perceforest,' which she had probably learned to love at the Court of Catharine de Medicis, who used it as a text-book of education; Gyron le Courtois,' • Amadis de Gaule,'The Golden Legend, “The Lyf of Charles the Great,' The Destruccion of Troye,' The Lyf of Kyng Alisaunder,' Lancilot de Laik,'Ogier le Danois' (in Italian), • The Historie of Jasone,' Pantagruel' (in French), "The Historie of Palmarine.' Here too, was · La Mer des Histoires,' which, on the authority of The Abbot,' Catharine Seyton read aloud to her in the Castle of Loch Leven. “The Buik of Hunting' of Dame Juliana Berners, and The Buik of the Chas' of Gaston (Phébus) de Foix, remind us that Mary was not only a reader but a lover of field sports and a daring horsewoman.
The libraries of great nobles are few in number. The collection bequeathed by Guy Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick (1315), to Bordesley Abbey has been already mentioned. If it may be taken as a type of the class of books read in the houses of the feudal aristocracy, there can be no question that fiction predominated over every other department of literature. Very different is the character of the library which Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, gave to the University of Oxford in 1439. But Duke Humphrey was not the typical noble. He was rather the Admirable Crichton of his age. No light literature is found in his catalogue of books, except Apuleius’ «de Asino Aureo,' and the · Bellum Trojæ cum secretis secretorum ;' in other words, the History of the Trojan War, by Dares the Phrygian, or Dictys the Cretan, which medieval students believed to be more authentic than Homer, and the compendium of Aristotelian ethics, physics, and metaphysics, which Aristotle was supposed to have sent to Alexander the Great. Gerard Fitzgerald, Earl of Kildare in 1525, was the possessor of a noble library of above 100 volumes. It is divided into four sections: (1) Latin bokis; (2) French bokis; (3) Englysh bokis; (4) Írish bokis (probably in MS.). Among these romantic fiction certainly holds a prominent place. Here we find the Liber Alexandri Maugne,' «The trye of battails ("L'Arbre des Bataillis, composed by Honoré Bonnor, Prieur de Salon, printe' at Paris 1481), Maundvile,' Ogier le Danois,' Launcelot du Lake' in three volumes, Les illustracions de Gaule et singularitez de Troy,' · Le Romant de la Roise,' •Le Cronique de la Grandet Petit Bretaine, · Arthur, The Sege of Thebes,' The Distruccion of Troy,' · The Sege of the Roodis' (Rhodes), “The Sege of Jerusalem' (probably • Titus and Vespasian'), 'Charlmagn,' • The Enaydos? (englished from the French • Eneydes,' by Caxton, and printed in 1493), and several other books which might legitimately be classed under the head of romance. The Irish books are mainly Lives of Saints.
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If we turn to the libraries of persons in a humbler rank of life, we still find an extraordinary number of works of fiction. Such a collection as that made by Robert Thornton, a native of Yorkshire, in 1440, may be taken as an example of the reading of the class to which Thornton belongs. The volume is a miscellany of devotion, medicine, popular science, and fiction. It contains the · Lamentacio Peccatoris,' a doleful cry of a Sinner in Purgatory, the · Vita Sancti Cristofori,' the treatise • De Miraculis Beate Marie,' • Epistola Sancti Saluatoris, a • colett to owre lady saynt Mary,' two tales of Hampole de imperfecta Contricione,' and other religious tracts, hymns, anthems, and prayers; a number of charms against the toothache, and medical receipts ; prognostications of the weather; and, finally, the Life of Alexander the Great' in prose, Morte Arthure, Lyarde'(a tale), Tomas of Ersseldoune,' and the Romances of
Octovyane,' • Dioclicyane,' “Syr Ysambrace' (lsumbras), “Syr Perecyvelle of Gales,' Syr Eglamour,' •Syr Degrevante,' and the · Awnetyrs of Arthure at the Terne Wathelyne. At Caistor, in 1450, Sir John Fastolf's library was stored in the Stewe Hous.' It contained the “Cronycle of France' and Titus Levius,' a ' booke of Jullius Cæsar,' • lez Propretez dez choses (B. Glanville), ‘Petrus de Crescentiis,'· Liber Almagesti, Liber Geomancie cum iiij aliis Astronomie,' • Veges de larte Chevalerie' (? Vegetius), · Instituts of Justien Emperer,'Brute' in ryme, ' liber Etiques,'• liber de sentence Joseph,' • Problemate Aristotilis,'· Vice and Vertues ;' liber de Cronykes . de Grant Bretayne'in ryme, Meditacions Saint Bernard. In this list there are only two works of avowed romantic fiction. But it is an interesting catalogue, because it illustrates the important part which occult sciences played in medieval life. The • liber Almagesti' suggests the stock-in-trade of Chaucer's clerk
Another catalogue of a private library exists in the list of the books of John Paston, junior, drawn up probably in the reign of Edward IV. (1) • The dethe of Arthur_begynyng at Cassabelaun,' 'Guy Earl of Warwick,' Kyng Ri. Cur de Lyon a chronicle'; (2) · A Boke of Troylus'; (3) 'A blak Boke with the “ Legend of Ladies,”' · La Belle Dame saunce Mercye,' The Parlement of Byrdes,' •The Temple of Glasse,' · Palatyse and Scitacus,' • The Green Knyght'; (4) 'a Poke in preente off “The Playe off the Chess””; (5)'a Boke containing “ Bele Dame sans Mercy,” “ The Parlement of Byrds,” “ Balade off Guy and Colbronde, off the Goos,”' &c. ; (6) 'a reede Boke containing “ The medis of the Masse," and other religious works;' (7) Tully de Senectute’; (8) Tully or Cypio de Amicitia’; (9) a Boke “ de Sapiencia”?; (10) •4 Bokes of Blasonryes' ; (11) • Boke of Knythod' and · Dé Regimine Principum'; (12) 'A treatise on Othea' (i.e. Prudence, who is treated as a Goddess by Christan de Pise). But the most famous library in the hands of a private individual still remains to be mentioned. It is that of Captain Cox of Coventry in 1575, which has been often printed. Captain Cox is described in Laneham's • Account of Queen Elizabeth's Entertainment at Kenilworth Castle in 1575,' as “an od man I promiz yoo ; by profession a Mason, and that right skilfull; very cunning of fens, and hardy az Gavin ; for his ton-sword hangs at hiz tablz eend.' His library contained nearly a hundred volumes, most of which may be classed as light literature, consisting of poems, ballads, plays, romances, jest-books, riddles, and prophecies. The most serious volumes are Doctor Boord's Breviary of Health,' Barclay's 'Ship of Fools,' and Daniel's work on the Interpretation of Dreams.' Not only do many of the romances, which we have already mentioned, re-appear in the list ; but also a collection of
Almanacks of Antiquitee,' ancient plays, and a bunch of Ballets and Songs, such as · Robin Hood,' · Adam Bell,' •Clym of the Clough,' and William of Cloudesley,' and “The Nut Brown Maid,' wrapt up in parchment and bound with a whipcord.
It has been shown that works of romantic fiction were sufficiently valued in the Middle Ages to be frequently included in the bequests of testators; that from the 13th century onwards, romantic fiction formed a growing element in the composition of monastic libraries; that it figured largely in the coilections of private individuals, whether of royal personages, great nobles, or persons in a humbler sphere of life. Another class of evidence, from which the demand for fiction may be illustrated, is the character of the books printed by our early
printers.* Before 1500, there were no publishers. The booksellers were dependent in a great measure upon the money of private people who paid for the printing of particular books. But it may be stated, as a general rule, that early printers, when they were not subsidised by individuals or public bodies to produce a particular class of literature, produced school books and romances. For these the demand was continuous, and, as men of business, they endeavoured to satisfy it. Caxton, for instance, printed the following works of fiction, which are either avowed
on the borderline; (1) “The Recuyell of the Histories of Troy’; (2) •Le Recuyeil des Histoires de Troyes ’; (3) · The Game of Chess’; (4) Les Fais du chevalier Jason’; (5) “The history of Jason’; (6) • Reynard the Fox’; (7) Godfrey of Bologne'; (8) Æsop with the fables of Avian, Alfonse, and Poge the Florentine'; (9)
• The Knight of the Tower’; (10) Kyng Arthur'; (11) Charles the Great'; (12) Paris and Vienne'; (13) Four Sons of Aymon’; (14) Blanchardyn and Eglantyne”; (15)
Eneydos. Next to works of a religious tendency, romantic fiction was the line to which he mainly devoted his publishing energies. W. de Worde printed fewer works of this class, but he produced • Bevis of Hampton,' • Morte d'Arthure,' • Robin Hode,''Guy and Colbrond,' * The Siege of Rhodes,' and “The Three Kings of Cologne.' It is a significant fact that speculative printers abroad, catering for the English market, concentrated themselves, almost exclusively, on the production of fiction. For instance, Gerard Leen of Antwerp published five books in English between 1490 and 1493. Of these, four were story-books (The History of Jason,' Chronicles of England, • The Communyng between Solomon and Marcolphus,' and • Paris and Vienne'). The fifth book was a grammar, the
Vulgaria’ of Terence in English. So again, another speculative foreign printer, John of Doresborch, who began to publish about 1505, printed innumerable story-books for the English market, such as Robin Hood,'The Parson of Kalenborow, • The Life of Vergilius,' as well as school-books and calendars. The Edinburgh press, before it was subsidised for the Aberdeen Breviary, began with nine poetical tracts, such as the · Maying of Chaucer, Sir Eglamoure,' "The Flyting of Dunbar and Kennydy,'' The Golden Targe,' &c. These facts show the activity of the trade in romantic fiction. But they do not
* For some of the facts contained in this paragraph, we are indebted to Mr. Gordon Duff, whose knowledge of early printed books and booksellers' catalogues is familiar to all students of early bibliography.