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books to the Venetians, now sold books themselves to other nations.*

An enumeration of the principal works printed by Caxton will present the best view that can be given of the popular literature of the times; for of course he employed his press in the multiplication, and his pen in the translation, of the kind of books most in request among the reading portion of his countrymen. The predominant spirit of the age was still a mixture of devotion and romance; the clergy and the nobility were also at once the best educated and the wealthiest classes; accordingly the religious books and the romances form the two largest divisions in the list. The former comprises the' Pilgrimage of the Soul,' from the French; 'Liber Festivalis, or, Directions for keeping Feasts all the Year;' 'Quatuor Sermones (or Four Sermons), in English; 'The Golden Legend' (a collection of Lives of the Saints), three editions; ' The Art and Craft to know well to Die,' from the French; 'Infantia Salvatoris' (the Infancy of our Saviour); 'The Life of St. Catherine of Sens;' 'Speculum Vitae Christi, or Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesu Christ;' ' Directorium Sacerdotum' (a Directory of Church Worship); 'A Book of Divers Ghostly Matters;' ' The Life of St. Wynefrid'The Provincial Constitutions of Bishop Lyndwood of St. Asaph,' in Latin; the ' Profitable Book of Man's Soul, called the Chastising of God's Children; and one or two others. Several of these—such as the ' Lives of the Saints'—might

* Celatos, Veneti, nobis transmittere libros
Cedite; nos aliis vendimus, O Veneti.
Middleton's Origin of Printing in England, p. ] 0.

come equally under the title of books of romance. The works more properly relating to romance and chivalry, however, are the following: The History of Troy, already mentioned (which Caxton at least translated, if he did not print it); 'The Book of the whole Life of Jason;' 'Godfrey of Boloyn;' 'The Knight of the Tower,' from the French; 'The Book of the Order of Chivalry or Knighthood,' from the French; 'The Book Boyal, or the Book for a King;' ' A Book of the Noble Histories of King Arthur and of Certain of his Knights;' 'The History of the Noble, Right Valiant, and Right Worthy Knight Paris and of the Fair Vienne;' 'The Book of Feats of Arms and of Chivalry,' from the French of 'Christine of Pisa;' and the ' History of King Blanchardine and Queen Eglantine his Wife.' To these may be added, the ' History of Renard the Fox,' translated by Caxton from the German; and the ' Subtle Histories and Fables of .SSsop,' from the French. In English poetry there are the following works of Chaucer, Gower, and Lydgate :—of the first, 'The Tales of Canterbury,' two editions; 'The Book of Fame;' ' Troylus and Cresseide;' and some minor poems:—of the second, 'The Confessio Amantis, that is to say, in English, the Confession of the Lover:'—of the third, 'The Work (or Court) of Sapience;' ' The Life of our Lady;' and some minor poems along with those of Chaucer. And here we may take note of the honourable conscientiousness of our first English printer, so worthy of his high vocation as the leader in the great enterprise of giving at once universal diffusion and an imperishable existence to the literature of his country. The manuscript from which he had printed his first edition of Chaucer hap

pencd unluckily, to quote the words of Mr. Tyrwhitt, "to be one of the very worst, in all respects, that he couhl possibly have met with." This he himself, as ho tells us in the preface to his second edition, discovered some time afterwards, in consequence of which he did not rest till he had produced this second edition from another much more correct manuscript—" for to satisfy the auctor," as he expresses it, "whereas tofore by ignorance I erred in hurting and defaming his book in divers places, in setting in some things that he never said no made, and leaving out many things that he made which been requisite to be set in it." None of the ancient Latin classics were printed in England during the present period; but the list of the productions of Caxton's press contains English translations of Cicero's Treatises on Old Age and on Friendship; of Bocthius's Consolation of Philosophy, by Chaucer; of the Sayings of the Philosophers; of Virgil's .ffincid, from the French; and of the works called ' Cato Magnus and Cato Parvus,' also from the French. This was by no means a contemptible beginning of the work of transfusing the wisdom and poetry of antiquity into the mother tongue. Provision was also made for the readers of history. though not so plentifully as for those of romance. The list contains the following historical and topographical works: ' The Chronicles of England;' 'The Description of Britain;' 'The Polychronicon;' 'The Life of Charles the Great,' twice printed; and the 'Siege of the Noble and invincible City of Rhodes.' Caxton also printed the statutes of the first year of Richard III., and those of the first, second, and third parliaments of Henry VII. Among a few other publications of a miscellaneous description, the following may be mentioned as relating to morals and the conduct of life: 'The Game of Chess,' already noticed; 'The Moral Proverbs of Christine of Pisa;' ' The Book of Good Manners;' 'The Doctrinal of Sapience,' from the French; and 'A Boke for Travellers.' On the whole, the first books that were printed in England were, for the most part, we see, books for the general reader; none of them were w orks of recondite learning or science, or adapted to the tastes and studies only of particular classes; if they were not all equally edifying, they were all as much as possible addressed to the great body of the reading public—the only audience that was then sufficiently numerous to call into profitable exercise the multiplying powers of the press.


It follows, that it was only books of a certain description the price of which was at first reduced by the new invention. For a considerable time after the art of printing came into use, we find the price of many books still as excessive as ever, and the same anxious precautions taken for their security that had been usual when the only mode of multiplying a volume was by its repeated transcription. In 1471, for example, when Louis XI. of France wished to borrow from the Faculty of Medicine at Paris a copy of the works of .the Arabian physician Bhasis, that he might have a transcript made for his own library, the Faculty, in a formal letter, took credit for extraordinary loyalty in assenting to the application, and, after all, would not let the king have the book until he had not only deposited in pledge for it a considerable quantity of valuable plate, but procured a nobleman to join with him as surety in a deed by which he bound himself to return it uninjured under a considerable forfeiture.* On a manuscript of Matthew Paris, now in the British Museum, there is an inscription, in Latin, dated 1st June, 1488, in the hand-writing and with the signature of John Russell, then Bishop of Lincoln, in which whosoever shall obliterate or destroy the bishop's memorandum respecting the ownership of the volume is solemnly declared to be accursed.f At this time by far the greater number of book9 were still unprinted; and every considerable library consisted chiefly of manuscripts, just as it did before the invention of the art of printing. Warton has collected the following facts respecting the libraries of the fifteenth century, and the inconveniences and impediments to study which must have been produced by the scarcity of books. "The famous library established in the University of Oxford by that munificent patron of literature, Humphrey Duke of Gloucester, contained only 600 volumes. [It was opened in the year 1480.] About the commencement of the fourteenth century, there were only four classics in the Royal Library at Paris: these were, one copy of Cicero, Ovid, Lucan, and Boethius; the rest were chiefly books of devotion, which included but few of the Fathers; many treatises of astrology, geomancy, chiromancy, and medicine, originally written in Arabic, and translated into

* Crevier, Hist. de l'Univ. de Paris, iv. 337.

t Warton, Dissert. on Introd. of Learning into Eng. p. cxi. The volume is one of the Royal MSS., marked 14 C. vii. It appears, from an inscription in the author's own hand, to have been a presentation copy from himself, probably to some chur eh or monastery.

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