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had lost all the vigour and beauty of youth, and had come
satisfaction of most people calculated to form an opinion
the subject, attributed to the Italians. Certain it is, nat in a very short time after their first publication, the ovels of Italy became, through the medium of translations, 10 popular reading of the English, and contributed power. ally to our dramatic literature. The most popular comedies f Shakespeare are based on stories by Boccacio, Ser Gioanni, Cinthio and Bandello. And to the two last-named riters, Beaumont and Fletcher are as much indebted as hey are to Gerardo and Cervantes. When Roger Ascham vund the Lady Jane Grey in her chamber over her
Phædon Platonis” in Greek, she was, he assures us, readng it “with as much delite, as some gentleman would read merry tale of Boccase." And in another part of his elightful “Schoolinaster" Ascham says, “ if some yet doe ot well understand what is an Englishman Italianated, I rill plainly tell him. He that by living and travelling in talie, bringeth home into England out of Italie the religion, he learning, the policie, the experience, the manners of talie. That is to say, for religion, Papistrie, or worse ; for arning, less commonly than they carried out with them; or policie, a factious hart, a discoursing head, a mind to weddle in all men's matters ; for experience, plentie of new rischieves never knowen in England before ; for manners, arietie of vanities, and chaunge of filthy lying. These be ine inchauntments of Circes, brought out of Italie, to larre men's maners in England ; much, by example of ill fe, but more by preceptes of fonde bookes, of late translated ut of Italian into Englishe, solde in every shop in London, ommended by honest titles, the sooner to corrupt honest laners, dedicated over boldlie to vertuous and honourable ersonages, the easelier to beguile simple and innocent rittes. It is a pitty that those, which have authoritie and harge, to alow and disalow bookes to be printed, be no 1ore circumspect herein than they are. Ten sermons at 'aules Crosso doe not so much good for mooving men to
true doctrine, as one of those booken doe barm, with inticing mon to ill living. .... In our forefathers time, when Papistrie, as a standing poolo, covered and overflowed all England, few bookes were red in our tongue, saving certayne bookes of chivalrie, as they were sayd for pastime and pleasure, which, as some say, were made in monasteries, by idle monkes, or wanton chanons; as one for example, Morte Arthur. ... And yet ten Morte Arthures doe not the tenth part so much harme as one of these bookes, made in Italie and translated in England."
Poor novels! you have ever had the schoolmasters against you. Ascham railed at Boccacio; and only the other day Dr. Arnold poured the fire of his artillery on Charles Dickens. But the “Decameron" has outlived the assault, and is still one of our best library friends. For ten who in these days forget misery and find certain elements of wisdom in the pages of Boccacio, can we find one man who cxtracts improvement from the works of Ascham, beautiful as they are? Who will for ages have the greater influence for good over the human raco-Dr. Arnold, or the author of “Nicholas Nickleby pa
The grandest memorial that we have of what our literature owes to Italy is to be found in "The Canterbury Tales." Every one wishing to make a review of the English novel from its rise to the present time, should commence with those famous stories, many of wbich Chaucer borrowed from Boccacio and the imitators of the Italian novelists, and which were joined together, so as to become parts of one great tale, after the model of the “ Decameron."
Though the novel succeeded to the honours of the chi. valric romance, it is impossible to name an exact time at which the one ended and the other commenced. Epochs of thought are never divided by a straight line, but they run into and dovetail with each other. After a school of art hás fairly died out, there have ever been, and it would seem
ere ever will be, some anxious to revive it. There are many strangely constituted beings who are incapable of arnostness, save when striving for a "slowly dying cause," end who, though they can discern no beauty wherefore they hould love it in the fresh glow of vigorous life, are touched -ad subdued by the fascinating gentleness of death.