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Ovid, one from Juliet to Romeo, and the other from Romeo to Juliet.
Morton. What is the date and the title of Prujean's volume? I never heard his strange name before.
Bourne. Very likely not, as his "Aurorata," printed in 1644, is very often not found even in curious collections, and it is the more valuable, because in the second part, called "Loves Lookingglasse, divine and humane," are contained the epistles to which I have referred.
Morton. I suppose Prujean means the Romeo and Juliet of Shakespeare, and not Arthur Brooke's performance, or Painter's novel?
Bourne. He does, and it serves to show how long that play continued popular. Each epistle occupies about four pages, and what I now read is from that of Juliet to Romeo, for the lady opens the correspondence. I ought to mention that the subject is introduced by the following " Argument:"— "Romeo and luliet, issues of two enemies, Mountegue and Capulet, Citizens of Verona, fell in love one with the other: he going to give her a visit meetes Tybalt her kinsman, who urging a fight was slaine by him: for this Romeo was banished and resided at Mantua, where he receiued an Epistle from luliet."
Elliot. Is the lady very passionate in her epistle I
Bourne. You will see: she thus writes—
"For health and happinesse doth Iuliet pray To come to Romeo and his Mantua. His Mantua! O, in that title blest!Would my poore fame could have such happy rest!Once it was so; once could this poore breast boast, (Rich only then) of being Romeos hoast. No sooner doe sleepes charmes upon me cease, But fancie straight disturbes me of my ease. Her troopes she brings, in which, me thinkes, I see Most of the horrour call its subject thee. • • But then I gan to cry, why should these eyes Pay to a griefe unlawfull sacrifice?Why should I weepe, because my enemy Became Fates slave and Romeo from it free?Is he a friend that would deny to give,
VOL. II. o
By heaven it selfe, so that my vow did tend,
Elliot. Upon my word it is poor stuff, and hardly readable but for the names of the correspondents.
Morton. Perhaps Romeo's epistle is better than Juliet's, though in general, in letter writing, the ladies have the advantage over the gentlemen.
Bourne. It would not be easy for the gentleman to be more ardent than the lady in this instance: a shorter quotation will suffice from his reply:
"The greet thou sent'st no more belongs to mee
Then when I am sweetly embrac't by thee:
Only to that place is ascrib'd all blisse
Where Romeo with his faire Iuliet is.
Mantua's nothing but a cage of woe;
Where thou art not all countryes will prove so. * * *
Yet when I name thy cousin, griefe does view
Some blood of thine in him, & that will sue
To have a tributary brine. The muse
That sings his death may out of th' Laurel chuse
As faire a branch as any. It is thee
(When he sings him) shall blesse his poetry.
The Destinies grew proud when as they had
Got so much Iuliet within their shade. * * *
And let not feare wither that rosie bed
Upon thy cheekes, nor make the Lilly dead.
Know I am Romeo still, know I am he
Morton. Prujean does not even make Romeo and Juliet write tolerable verse: this is the least that one would have expected. Here then we end for to-day.
Bourne. I would only remark, in conclusion, that in Thomas Fortescue's translation, called " The Foreste, or Collection of Histories no lesse profitable then pleasant," 1571, (fo. 138, b.) is a story "of a pretie guile practised by a vertuous and good Quene towardes her houseband, by means whereof lames, Kyng of Arragon, was begotten," which much resembles a main incident in "All's Well that ends Well." I do not mean that Shakespeare used it, because it is notorious that he followed the novel ini "the Palace of Pleasure."
Elliot. The original is in Italian, and is told by Boccacio in his Decameron, Gior. III. Nov. 9.
Bourne. It is, and from thence Painter translated his somewhat formal narrative. As he relates it, it is by no means one of the pleasantest stories in the collection.
Morton. How long was it before any complete translation of Boccacio's Decameron appeared in English?
Bourne. The Rev. Mr. Todd, in his Dictionary, under the word "Cheer," quotes "Translation of Boccacio, 1587," but I have never seen any such work: it may perhaps not mean a translation of the Decameron, but of some other production by the same author. The first complete edition of Boccacio's Decameron I have seen is called "The Modell of Wit, Mirth, Eloquence, and Conversation," &c.: the first volume is printed by J. Jaggard, in 1625, and what is singular is, that the second part, named expressly "The Decameron, containing an hundred pleasant Novels," bears date in 1620, unless there be some defect in my copy. By the Register of the Stationers' Company we find, that in 1619 Abbot, Archbishop of Canterbury, prohibited the publication of "The Decameron of Mr. John Boccace Florentine."
Morton. Is that translation a good one? I do not think that Painter is usually very happy in his version.
Bourne. It is very unequal: some of the stories are much better told than!others. The translator, whoever he might be, sometimes took considerable liberties with his original: for instance, in Day IX. Nov. 9. he makes Solomon King of Great Britain, and sometimes introduces even more considerable alterations.