« PreviousContinue »
But by far the most valuable portion of our Latin literature of this age consists of the numerous historical works which it has bequeathed to us. As these works have a double interest for the English reader, belonging to the country and the age in which they were written by their subject as well as by their authorship, we will enumerate the most important of them.
The following, we may premise, are the principal collections that have been made in modern times of our old Latin historians or chroniclers :
1. Rerum Britannicarum, id est, Angliæ, Scotia,
evidence to the contrary, in taking from him; and the only correction which the perusal of the entire poem can make upon the impression produced by the part commonly quoted is to extend the sense in which we must consider the author to have been what he has been designated, the Anacreon of his day. Lord Lyttleton, from whom that epithet is quoted by Warton as a very happy one, has inadvertently written the Anacreon of the eleventh, instead of the twelfth, century; and this slip, passed over without detection by Warton and his late able and accomplished editor, has been animadverted upon, with much satisfaction, by critics and literary historians of another order. Mapes lived and wrote in the reigns of Henry II. and Richard I.: his death, according to Mr. Wright, "is supposed to have occurred towards the year 1210." (Introd. to Poems, p. vii.) But Mr. Wright himself had not inquired so curiously as he was subsequently led to do into this matter when a few years before he compiled his collection of our early 'Political Songs' (printed for the Camden Society, 4to., 1839); in which, speaking of the satirical poetry "produced during the whole of" the thirteenth century, he states that much of it had been attributed, "perhaps with little reason, to Walter Mapes." In truth, there is no evidence that Mapes ever saw the thirteenth century.
Vicinarumque Insularum ac Regionum, Scriptores Vetustiores ac Præcipui: (a HIER. COMMELINO). Fol. Heidelb. & Lugd. 1587.
2. Rerum Anglicarum Scriptores post Bedam Præcipui, ex Vetustissimis MSS. nunc primum in lucem editi: (a HEN. SAVILE). Fol. Lon. 1596, and Francof. 1601.
3. Anglica, Normannica, Hibernica, Cambrica, a veteribus Scripta, ex. Bibl. GUILIELMI CAMDENI. Fol. Francof. 1603.
4. Historiæ Anglicanæ Scriptores X. ex Vetustis MSS. nunc primum in lucem editi: (a RoG. TwYSDEN et JOAN. SELDEN). Fol. Lon. 1652.
5. Rerum Anglicarum Scriptorum Veterum Tomus Imus; Quorum Ingulfus nunc primum integer, ceteri nunc primum prodeunt: (a JoAN. FELL, vel potius GUL. FULMAN). Fol. Oxon. 1684 (sometimes incorrectly cited as the 1st vol. of Gale's Collection).
6. Historiæ Anglicanæ Scriptores Quinque, ex Vetustis Codicibus MSS. nunc primum in lucem editi: (a THOM. GALE). Fol. Oxon. 1687. (This is properly the 2nd vol, of Gale's Collection.)
7. Historiæ Britannica, Saxonicæ, Anglo-Danicæ, Scriptores XV. ex Vetustis Cod. MSS. editi, Opera THOME GALE. Fol. Oxon. 1691. (This is properly the 1st vol. of Gale's Collection.)
8. Historiæ Anglicanæ Scriptores Varii, e Codicibus manuscriptis nunc primum editi: (a Jos. SPARKE). Fol. Lon. 1723.
9. Historia Normannorum Scriptores Antiqui; studio ANDREA DUCHESNE. Fol. Paris, 1619.
10. Historiæ Anglicanæ circa tempus Conquestus Angliæ a Gulielmo Notho. Normannorum Duce, Selecta
Monumenta; excerpta ex volumine And. Duchesne; cum Notis, &c., a FRANCISCO MASERES. 4to., Lon. 1783, and 1807.
The history of the abbey of Croyland, or, as the place is now called, Crowland, in Lincolnshire, professing to be written by the Abbot Ingulphus, who presided over the establishment from A.D. 1075 till his death, at the age of about eighty, in 1109, was first published from an imperfect copy by Sir Henry Savile in his collection (Lon. 1596, and Frankfort, 1601); and afterwards in a more complete form by Fulman in his Scriptores Veteres (Oxford, 1684). In the interval between these two (the only) editions of the work, the Laws of William the Conqueror, in French, which were wanting in the MS. used by Savile, were published from another MS. by Selden in 1623 in his edition of Eadmer, and from another by Sir Henry Spelman in 1639 in the first volume of his Concilia. All these four (the only known) MSS. of the work have now disappeared: of what has become of that used by Savile nothing is known; that from which Selden took his copy of the Laws of the Conqueror seems to have been one which was in the Cotton Library-the same from which Fulman was supplied with a leaf in which his own MS. was defective, by his friend Gale *-and that was destroyed by the calamitous fire at Ashburnham House in 1731; that which Spelman transcribed was preserved in the church of Croyland, in a chest locked with three keys, which were kept by the churchwardens, and was believed by him to be what it
* See Rer. Ang. Script. 1684, Præfat. and p. 131.
was reputed, the author's autograph-but, as Selden could not obtain access to it a few years before, so nobody has seen it since, and, when Fulman made inquiry after it in the latter part of the same century, it was no longer to be found;-finally, that employed by Fulman, which belonged to Sir John Marsham, was afterwards given or lent by him to Obadiah Walker, the famous Master of University College, who was turned out at the Revolution in 1688, and all that further appears is that Walker told Bishop Gibson in 1694 that it was then in the library of University College, where however it has not since been found. It seems most likely that it never was deposited there, but was carried off by Walker, who professed to consider it as his own property on the simple principle, which it appears is recognized among antiquarian collectors, that he had once, no matter by what means, got it into his possession. "The old gentleman," writes Gibson to Dr. Charlett, the then Master of University College, in relating what had just passed between them on the subject," has too much of the spirit of an antiquary and a great scholar to think stealing a manuscript any sin. He has ordered me not to discover where it is lodged." These particulars are mostly collected from a learned and valuable paper on the sources of Anglo-Saxon history which appeared some years ago in the Quarterly Review,* and to which we shall have frequent occasion further to refer. The writer (understood to be Sir Francis Palgrave) proceeds to show, very ingeniously and conclusively, that the MS. which Spelman saw at Croydon could not in all probability have been older than the end of the thirteenth or the begin
* Vol. xxxiv. No. 67 (for June, 1826), pp. 248-298.
ning of the fourteenth century, from a mistranscription of a word in his extract (Euestres for Euesqes), which was very likely to have taken place in copying a writing of that date, but could hardly have happened in reading a manuscript of the end of the eleventh century, the age of Ingulphus. But, if the external evidence for the antiquity and authenticity of the work be thus defective, the internal evidence may be pronounced to be conclusive against its claim to be accounted either the composition of Ingulphus or a work of any historical value. It appears in fact to be, if not altogether what the reviewer calls it, 66 an historical novel," at least in the main a monkish forgery of the thirteenth or fourteenth century, which may possibly contain some things not the produce of the writer's invention, and found by him in histories or other records now lost, but no statement in which, whatever appearance of probability it may wear, can be safely received upon its authority. Not only the portion of the history which relates to the times preceding the pretended writer's own age, but the account which Ingulphus is made to give of himself is full of the most glaring improbabilities, and in some parts demonstrably false and impossible. For the demonstration, however, we must refer the reader to the article in the Quarterly Review, the writer of which justly observes that " chronisms which merely impeach the accuracy of the historian are entirely fatal to autobiography." In none of our chroniclers anterior to the fourteenth century, the reviewer asserts, is there a single line to be traced that is borrowed from Ingulphus; and this is a fact of no slight significance:-" if the work," he remarks, "had existed, it could scarcely have been neglected by these