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lued at a thousand florins. [See Tale XXIII. Vol. 2.] Considering the result, they were cheaply purchased; although, in these days, when advice is much oftener given than paid for-even with thanks, the price may be deemed somewhat of the highest.
The many stories on the subject of adultery, seem to indicate a bad moral state of society at the time they were written; and it is to be feared that the lawless feeling which chivalry in its decline exhibited, affords an unhappy confirmation. Whether the fact of the monks levelling much of their satire against the fair sex is also corroborative; or whether it proceed from that impotence of mind, which being itself fretted by circumstance, would gladly efface or deteriorate whatever is the object of its unavailing wishes, I do not take upon me to decide, It is necessary
that I should advertise the
reader of what he will not fail to perceive, that the tales are not always perfect in every part; nor are the positions laid down at the commencement always remembered. This may result from ignorant transcribers having omitted some passages, and interpolated others; and such a supposition accounts, as I observed before, for the numerous variations which appear in various copies, as well as for the introduction of certain expressions that have been considered arguments in behalf of their origin. That they have been collected from all countries, and at many times, , I have no doubt. Some appear of Italian construction, a few German, but the greater part oriental. The absolute power of the emperors, who sport with life and death in the most capricious and extraordinary mannerthe constant introduction of the leprosy and crucifixion, amply confirm their connection with the East.
“ It may not be thought impertinent to close this discourse with a remark on the MORALISATIONS subjoined to the stories of the Gesta ROMANORUM. This was an age of vision and mystery: and every work was believed to contain a double, or secondary, meaning. Nothing escaped this eccentric spirit of refinement and abstraction; and, together with the Bible, as we have seen, not only the general history of ancient times was explained allegorically, but even the poetical fictions of the classics were made to signify the great truths of religion, with a degree of boldness, and a want of discrimination, which, in another age, would have acquired the character of the most profane levity, if not of absolute impiety, and can only be defended from the simplicity of the state of knowledge which then prevailed.
Thus, God creating man of clay, animated with the vital principle of respiration, was the story of Prometheus, who formed a man of similar materials, to which he communicated life by fire stolen from heaven. Christ twice born, of his Father, God, and of his mother, Mary, was prefigured by Bacchus, who was first born of Semele, and afterwards of Jupiter. And as Minerva sprung from the brain of Jupiter, so Christ proceeded from God without a mother. Christ born of the Virgin Mary was expressed in the fable of Danäe shut within a tower, through the covering of which Jupiter descended in a shower of gold, and begat Perseus. Actæon, killed by his own hounds, was a type of the persecution and death of our Saviour. The poet Lycophron relates, that Hercules, in returning from the adventure of the golden fleece, was shipwrecked; and that being devoured by a monstrous fish, he was disgorged alive on the shore after three days. Here was an obvious symbol of Christ's resurrection. John Waleys, an English Franciscan of the thirteenth century, in his moral exposition of Ovid's Metamorphoses, affords many other instances equally ridiculous; and who forgot that he was describing a more heterogeneous chaos, than that which makes so conspicuous a figure in his author's exordium, and which combines, amid the monstrous and indigested aggregate of its unnatural associations,