architrave and other members, enriched with gilding.

The interior of the building was decorated with pilasters, niches, and statues; and in the midst a stately gate, adorned with columns, and their orna ments; and a frontispiece on the top; all of which seemed to be of burnished gold.

Semesis and Thelema appeared, the former habited in cloth of gold, reaching below the knees, with wide sleeves; his mantle was of watchet, secured on each shoulder, and hanging behind; he wore a garland of sinope on his head, with a flame of fire issuing out of it; his buskins were yellow wrought with gold.


[ocr errors]

Thelema, a young lady, in changeable silk, was in other respects characteristic. These two personages sung; and during that time, a transparent cloud descended, which opening, Amicanteros, habited in carnation and white, with garlands of laurel in one hand, having reached the earth, he proceeded to the throne, accompanied by the other dramatic personages; the chorus following singing. "After which, they all retire to the scene; and Indamora and her Ladies begin the revels with the King and the Lords, which continue the most part of the night."


[ocr errors][merged small]




THE history of Learning or of Literature in England cannot be enlarged upon in a work like the present; as the subject requires volumes, and I can afford it only a chapter. The Druids were undoubtedly a sagacious set of men, and possessed more knowledge than the most improved of their countrymen; but it seems absurd to speak of their learning in the present acceptation of the term: the reveries of men little better than Savages, who could know nothing but by tradition, without the means of reading, and unable to write, may have had academies or schools; and precious indeed was the philosophy and arts taught in them.

To enlarge further appears wholly unnecessary. Individuals endowed with strong natural powers of discrimination were as liberally scattered throughout the general population then as at any


later period. Those viewed causes and effects in a true light; but inventions and systems, calculated to advance ideas, were unknown, and it required many concurring circumstances to introduce them.

It is obvious, that as Rome was the seat of Learning when its armies secured a footing on this Island, we are indebted to Italy for that blessing, which, undergoing numberless mutations, became at length greatly, though not sufficiently, encou raged, producing thousands of persons whose names are an honour to this nation, and would equally honour that of any other in Europe.

Latin and French (the former barbarous and incorrect) were the two languages in which the learned preferred to convey their knowledge to each other. The English partaking of both, and originating with the Saxon, was for a long time consigned to the illiterate mass of the people, and consequently suffered daily mutilation; even after it became customary to encourage its use, the progress towards perfection was extremely gradual.

Leaving every other particular connected with the sciences, and the improvement of the mind, to authors who treat expressly on them, I shall present the reader with several specimens of our native language in a chronological series, and some of the customs of literature subsequent to the invention of the art of printing; which, consisting



sisting of extracts from respectable authors, will exhibit not only the change of words and modes of expression, but give the style peculiar to each. Dr. Henry, speaking of the progress of learning in the period between 1066 and 1216, says, art of making paper, which was invented in the course of this period, contributed also to the revival of, and more general application to, learning, by rendering the acquisition of books much less difficult and expensive than it had formerly been.

"We have not the satisfaction of knowing to whom we are indebted for that most useful invention; but it appears that our paper was at first made of cotton; and, on that account, called charta bombycina, or cotton paper; and that towards the end of the eleventh or beginning of the twelfth century, it began to be made of linen rags, as it is at present.

[ocr errors]

The following Saxon version of the Lord's prayer is said to have been written about the year 700; and will sufficiently explain the source of our language, even as it exists at the present moment: the two succeeding quotations are from the leger book of St. Bartholomew's, Smithfield, and a deed of Henry VII. :

"Urin Fader thic arth in heofnas, sic gehalgud thin noma; to cymeth thin ryc; sic thin willa sue is in heofnas, and in eortho; urin hlaf ofirwistlic sel us to daig, und forgefe us seylda urna, sue we


forgefan scyldgum urum, and no inlead usig in custnung, Ah gefrig usick from ifle."

"To them that with feithfull desire knoke at the doyr of the spowse, assistant angelys shal opyn the gates of heaven recyvyng and offeryng to God the prayers and of feithfull peple."


"For as much as the same oure Souverayne Lord the Kyng hath, by long experience, perceyved, and often seen, that, for lakke of grounded learned men in the lawes of God, Virtue emonges religious men is litle used, Religion is greatly confounded, and few or noe hable persons founde in dyvers houses of religion, lakkyng learned men, to be the heddes of the same houses, to the high displeasure of God, and great subversion of religion."

It should be observed, that great skill and excellence were attained in writing the volumes with which the libraries of princes, nobles, and monasteries abounded; some were written with liquified gold on the most beautiful vellum, and the other colours used were particularly clear and perfect: the characters had no other fault than that which attached to their established shape; and it may be very generally perceived, that the pen was conducted without the least embarrassment.

Many of our antient MSS. are decorated with exquisite coloured drawings heightened with gilding, and all of them contain some productions of the pencil.



« VorigeDoorgaan »