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IT is now sufficiently well known, that Chaucer borrowed the tale of his Palamon and Arcite from the Theseida of Boccace. It is not so notorious. that our old English Poet is indebted to the Filostrato of Boccace for his Troilus.
Filostrato is very scarce, even in Italy; but the edition which enables me to give this account is, probably unique in this country.
The learned Mr. Tyrwhitt was induced first to suspect the obligation of Chaucer to Boccace, from reading the title of Fylostrato at large in Saxii Hist. Lit. Typog. Mediolan. ad an. 1498, but he afterwards met with a printed copy of the work itself in the valuable collection of Mr. Crofts.
I give its title at length. « IL FYLOSTRATO
Che tracta de lo inamoramento de Troylo e Gryseida : et de molte altre infinite ballaglie.
At the end is,
Impresso nella inclita cita de Milano per Magistro Uldericho Scinzenzeler nell anno M.CCCCLXXXXVIII. a di XXVII. di mese de Septembre.”
Quadrio Vol. VI. P. 473. mentions two later editions of this Poem.
" In Venezia per Joanne Baptista Sessa 1501. 4to.
The second edition was also printed at Venice in 1528, 4to.
Of the edition given to the Museum by Mr. Tyrwhitt, no other copy is known to be in England.
Some authors have affected to doubt whether the Filostrato was actually written by Boccace. These doubts, Quadrio has both considered and answered, and indeed several ancient manuscripts name Boccace as the author without
Boccace, in his Decameron speaks in high terms, both of the Filostrato and the Theseide, but does not avow himself as the author of either.
The Fylostrato is written in the Octave stanza, and it seems rather singular, as Mr. Tyrwhitt observes, that Chaucer did not use this stanza. Chaucer, however, was the inventor of the stanza of seven verses, in which he was a long time followed by the Poets who succeeded him. The Alexandrine was afterwards added to this stanza, which Milton also has used in his Juvenile Poems.
For the general substance of the above, I confess myself indebted to Mr. Tyrwhitt's octavo edition of Chaucer, vol. 4. p. 87. Mr. Tyrwhitt purchased this most rare book at the sale of Mr. Crofts's Library, 1783.
DR. CHRISTOPHER TYE, Örganist to King Edward vi. is well known in our cathedrals, as the author of some anthems still in use: but he is very little known as an Author and a Poet. There is extant, however, a very curious little book, in which he appears in both these characters; and it is no less than the Acts of the Apostles, or rather a part of them, turned into verse, and set to Music. The following is the exact title of this singular book.
“ THE ACTES OF THE APOSTLES, TRANSLATED INTO ENGLYSHE METRE, and dedicated to the Kynges moste excellent Maiestye, by Christopher Tye, Doctor in Musyke, and one of the Gentlemen of hys graces moste honourable Chappell, wyth notes to eche Chapter, to synge, and also to play upon the Lutè, very necessarye for studentes after theyr studye, to fyle theyr wyttes, and also for all Christians that cannot synge, to reade the good and Godlye storyés of the lyues of Christ hys Apostles. 1553." At the end
Imprynted at London by Nycolas Hyll, for Wyllyam Seres. Cum priuilegio ad imprimena dum solum.”
Dr. Tye dedicates his book " to the Uertuous and Godlye learned prynce, Edwarde the
vi. by the Grace of God,” &c: and the dedication is in Verse; of which the reader will probably be glad to see a specimen. It begins thus :
Consydrynge well, most godly Kyng
The zeale and perfecte loue :
That geuen is from aboue.
And that your grace, oft tymes doth looke
To learne of the last daye :
That wyll not passe alwaye.
Whose boke is geuen, in these your dayes,
Wherein ye do reioyce:
And that with thankeful voyce. &c.
The version of the history is no less homely than this Address to the King.
In the former treatyse to thee
Deare frende Theophilus :
Of the Lorde Christ Jesus.
Whiche he to do, and eke to teache
To dwell aboue for aye.
After that he had power to do
Even by the holy ghost :
unto His chosen least & most.
The whole is printed in black letter, and is carried through the first fourteen chapters of the Acts. The music is in four parts, Meane, Countertenor, Tenor and Bass. This curious booke is in the possession of the Rev. Henry White, of Lichfield.
: In the same volume is bound up a selection from the Psalms, versified by Francis Seagar, of the same date. It is dedicated, in metre also, to "the ryght honorable lorde Russell.” These have also Music with them, in four parts.