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net without fome few of reason, that it might be in Solere's Hall, which he has so particularly and humoroufy described in his story of The Miller of Tronpington.
Heremoved from Cambridge, for reasons which we find no where afligned, to the university of Oxford, and completed his studies there, fome fay at Canterbury College, which however is improbable, since it was not founded till Chaucer was thirty-five years of age, others in Merton College, which is more likely; for though his name does not appear among the celebrated members of it at that time, yet we find most of his contemporaries, as Strode, Occleve, &c. were of that college. After a considerable stay here,
and a strict application to the publick lectures of the 1 university, he became, as Leland tells us, a ready lo! gician, a smooth rhetorician, a pleasant poet, a grave
himself, he professes that he was summoned to do fuit and service at the age of eighteen, which‘affords him an opportunity of describing the Court, the manner of its proceedinge, and the statutes of Love by which those proceedings are regu. lated. This poem is very long, confifting of upwards of fourteen hundred verses, and concludes with the fettival of Love, which with great elegance our poet fixes upon the bit of May, and makes it celebrated by the birds: yet this part of the poem is the most exceptionable of any, and thows what a frange taité prerailed in that age, for in this festival not only the hymns of the church but the Psalms themselves are very scandalousy profaned, and applied to the god of Love and his mother, which thows the bad confequences that naturally flow from superftitious devotion.
philosopher, an ingenious mathematician, and a holy divine. That he was a great master in astronomy is plain from his Discourses of the Astrolabe; that he was versed in the Hermetick philosophy appears by his Tale of the Chanon's Yeoman; his knowledge in divinity is evident from his Parson's Tale; and his philofophy from 'The Testament of Love.
After he left this university he travelled abroad through France and the Low Countries in order to see the world, and to improve the knowledge which he had acquired from books; but when he went abroad or at what time he returned are circumstances not casy to be determined. Yet fure there is a probability that he spent not many years out of his own country, since the best writers seem to be well satisfied that after his return he entered himself of the MiddleTemple, and became a Rudent there of the municipal laws of this land. Of this learning having received some tindure he betook himself to the court, which was indeed the place in the world fittest for a man of his accomplishments to thrive in. His first employment there was in quality of the King's Page, in those times a very honourable office, as it gave near and frequent access to the royal presence; but one would imagine this was not a post to which any but a young man could be advanced upon his coming to court, and therefore it seems not consistent with truth
to believe that Geoffrey Chaucer could not at his admittance exceed thirty t.
+ Could not at that time exceed thirty.] We have intimated in the text that our Author seems to have owed his admit. tance into the King's service in quality of Page, which in the Latin of those times was called valettus or valecius, an honour that young noblemen of the firft rank were glad to accept, to the favour of the King's fon John of Gaunt, afterwards Duke of Lancaster, of which no notice is taken by any of those who have hitherto collected the memoirs of his life. Yet we do not assert this without authority, for it appears by a poem of his called Chaucer's Dream, first printed in the year 1597, that he was very deep in this young prince's amorous secrets, for that poem is an allegorical history of the loves of John of Gaunt and Blanch of Lancaster, daughter of Henry Duke of Lancaster, which from this very poem it appears were managed with the utmoft secrefy, till by a long train of intrigues and solicitations all the obstacles in the way of this match were got over, and with the help of the King's consent and the Pope's dispenfation they were married in May 1359, which as it was the first introduction to John of Gaunt's vaft power and greatness, so it seems to have been the beginning ofour Author's fortunes at court; at leatt it is certain that the knowledge he had of this affair was what made him equally the favourite of the Duke of Lancaster and of the Duchess Blanch, who as the highest reftimony of her friendthip gave him the fifter of her favourite lady in marriage, which is also intimated at the close of this poem. But this is quite a different thing from another under the same title that in the old'manuscripts is and ought to be entitled The Book of the Duchess, written not upoq her marriage but upon her death, and this being wrote in the manner of a vision, and the other not being discovered, came to be called Chaucer's Dream, because that title appeared in some old lifts of his works. As the credit of the Duke of Lan. cafter increased with his father, Chaucer's also rose in a like proportion, for he continued feady to his patron to the lad hour of that duke's life; and indeed considering his alliance
At this time the English court was the mostgay and splendid in Europe. Edward II. a prince equally diftinguished by civil and martial vistyes, sac then upon the throne, blessed with an illustrious confort, by whom he had a numerous pofterity. His many vica tories had rendered hina famous abroad, and his mor deration and clemency, his reverence for the law's, and his kindness for his people, made him beloved at home, so that our Chronicles boast of few reigns more glorious, and of none brighter, than his. Aniong'ochef great qualities with which this famous inonarch was endued his love, of learning and learned men was not the least confpicuous, and therefore we need not wonder that our Author, who was continually giving fome specimen or other of the vivacity of his parts, wrought himself into high favour, insoniuch that it appears that he was a constant attendant on the court, and when-it wasat Woodstock resided at a square ftone house near the park-gate, which stilretains his name; and well indeed it may, since being comecrated in his poems the whole country round about is become, in felps to Englishmen, a kind of callick groundt. as well as his obligations we need not at all wonder that he did: but after saying all this it will be very proper to add, that notwithstanding his fidelity to his patron hic did not go all lengths with him, but kept examly within the bounds of dyaloy to bris prince as well as those of duty to his benefaétor:
+ Akiintrychlick-ground.j in order to justify this we need only observe that many of the rural defcriptions that occur in bo-Works are taken from Woodstock-Park; otwhich he tells
But besides his employment about the person of his prince our poet took pains to advance his fortune by us that it was a park walled with green ftone, that being the firft park walled in England, and not many years before his time. In moft of his pieces where he designs an imaginary scene le certainly copies it from a real landscape; fo in his Cuckoo and Nightingale the morning walk he takes was fuch as at this day may be traced from his house through part of the park, and down by the brook into the vale under Blenheim-Caftle, as certainly as we may assert that maples inftead of phyllereas were the ornaments round the bower, which place he likewise describes in his Dream as a white castle standing upon a hill, the scene in that poem being laid in WoodstockPark. When disengaged from publick affairs his time was entirely spent in studying and walking : fo agreeable to him was this exerçise, that lie says he preferred it to all other sports and divertions. He lived within himself, neither defirous to hear nor busy to concern himself with the affairs of his neighbouts. His course of living was temperate and regular; he went to rest with the sun and rose before it, and by that means enjoyed the pleasures of the better part of the day, bis morning walk and fresh contemplations. This gave him the advantage of defcribing the morning in so lively a manner as he dues every where in his Works; the springing sun glows warm in his lines, and the fragrant air blows cool in his descriptions ;, we smell the sweets of the bloomy haws, and hear the musick of the feathered chcir, whenever we take a torett walk with him. The hour of the day is not eaiier to be discovered from the reflection of the fun in Titian's paintings than in Chaucer's niurning landscapes. "Tis true those descriptions are sometimes too long, and, as it is before observed, when he takes those early rambles he almoft tires his reader with following him, and seldom knows how to get out of a forest when once entered into it ; but low advantageous this beautiful extravagance is moft of his successors well know, who have very plentifully lopt off his exuberant beauties, and placed them as the chief ornaments of their own writings.