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is signed Philogenet of Cambridge, Clerk,' and And right anon as I the day espied, hence he is supposed to have attended the Univer No longer would I in my bed abide, sity there; but Warton and other Oxonians claim I went forth myself alone and boldely, him for the rival university. It is certain that he And held the way down by a brook side, accompanied the army with which Edward III. in Till I came to a land of white and green, vaded France, and was made prisoner about the So fair a one had I never in been. year 1359, at the siege of Retters. At this time the The ground was green y-powdered with daisy, poet was honoured with the steady and effective The flowers and the groves alike high, patronage of John of Gaunt, whose marriage with All green and white was nothing else seen. Blanche, heiress of Lancaster, he commemorates in his poem of the Dream. Chaucer and 'time-honoured the destruction of the Royal Manor at Woodstock, Gaunt' became closely connected. The former mar- and the subsequent erection of Blenheim, have ried Philippa Pyckard, or De Rouet, daughter of a changed the appearance of this classic ground; but knight of Hainault, and maid of honour to the queen, the poet's morning walk may still be traced, and and a sister of this lady, Catherine Swinford (widow some venerable oaks that may have waved over him, of Sir John Swinford) became the mistress, and ulti- lend poetic and historical interest to the spot. The mately the wife, of John of Gaunt. The fortunes of opening of the reign of Richard II. was unpropitious the poet rose and fell with those of the prince, his to Chaucer. He became involved in the civil and patron. In 1367, he received from the crown a grant religious troubles of the times, and joined with the of twenty marks, equal to about £200 of our present party of John of Northampton, who was attached money. In 1372, he was a joint envoy on a mission to the doctrines of Wickliffe, in resisting the meato the Duke of Genoa ; and it has been conjectured sures of the court. The poet fled to Hainault (the that on this occasion he made a tour of the northern country of his wife's relations), and afterwards to states of Italy, and visited Petrarch at Padua. The Holland. He ventured to return in 1386, but was only proof of this, however, is a casual allusion in thrown into the Tower, and deprived of his compthe Canterbury Tales, where the clerk of Oxford says trollership. In May 1388, he obtained leave to disof his tale

pose of his two patents of twenty marks each; a Learned at Padua of a worthy clerk

measure prompted, no doubt, by necessity. He ob

tained his release by impeaching his previous assoFrancis Petrarch, the laureat poet, Hight this clerk, whose rhetoric sweet

ciates, and confessing to his misdemeanours, offering Enlumined all Italy of poetry.

also to prove the truth of his information by enter

ing the lists of combat with the accused parties. The tale thus learned is the pathetic story of Patient How far this transaction involves the character of Grisilde, which, in fact, was written by Boccaccio, the poet, we cannot now ascertain. He has painted and only translated into Latin by Petrarch. "Why,' his suffering and distress, the odium which he inasks Mr Godwin, did Chaucer choose to confess curred, and his indignation at the bad conduct of his his obligation for it to Petrarch rather than to Boc- former confederates, in powerful and affecting lancaccio, from whose volume Petrarch confessedly guage in his prose work, the Testament of Love. The translated it? For this very natural reason-be- sunshine of royal favour was not long withheld after cause he was eager to commemorate his interview this humiliating submission. In 1389, Chaucer is with this venerable patriarch of Italian letters, and registered as clerk of the works at Westminster; to record the pleasure he had reaped from his society.' and next year he was appointed to the same office at We fear this is mere special pleading; but it would Windsor. These were only temporary situations, be a pity that so pleasing an illusion should be dis- held about twenty months; but he afterwards repelled. Whether or not the two poets ever met, the ceived a grant of £20, and a tun of wine, per anItalian journey of Chaucer, and the fame of Petrarch, num. The name of the poet does not occur again must have kindled his poetical ambition and refined for some years, and he is supposed to have retired his taste. The Divine Comedy of Dante had shed a to Woodstock, and there composed his Canterbury glory over the literature of Italy; Petrarch received Tales. In 1398, a patent of protection was granted his crown of laurel in the Capitol of Rome only five to him by the crown; but, from the terms of the years before Chaucer first appeared as a poet (his deed, it is difficult to say whether it is an amnesty Court of Love was written about the year 1346); and for political offences, or a safeguard from creditors. Boccaccio (more poetical in his prose than his verse) In the following year, still brighter prospects opened had composed that inimitable century of tales, his on the aged poet. Henry of Bolingbroke, the son Decameron, in which the charms of romance are of his brother-in-law, John of Gaunt, ascended the clothed in all the pure and sparkling graces of com- throne: Chaucer's annuity was continued, and forty position. These illustrious examples must have in- marks additional were granted. Thomas Chaucer, spired the English traveller; but the rude northern whom Mr Godwin seems to prove to have been the speech with which he had to deal, formed a chilling poet's son, was made chief butler, and elected Speaker contrast to the musical language of Italy! Edward of the House of Commons. The last time that the III. continued his patronage to the poet. He was poet's name occurs in any public document, is in a made comptroller of the customs of wine and wool lease made to him by the abbot, prior and convent in the port of London, and had a pitcher of wine of Westminster, of a tenement situate in the gardaily from the royal table, which was afterwards den of the chapel, at the yearly rent of 53s. 4d. commuted into a pension of twenty marks. He was This is dated on the 24th of December 1399; and appointed a joint envoy to France to treat of a mar- on the 25th of October 1400, the poet died in Lonriage between the Prince of Wales and Mary, the don, most probably in the house he had just leased, daughter of the French king. At home, he is sup- which stood on the site of Henry VII.'s chapel. He posed to have resided in a house granted by the was buried in Westminster Abbey--the first of that king, near the royal manor at Woodstock, where, illustrious file of poets whose ashes rest in the sacred according to the description in his Dream, he was edifice. surrounded with every mark of luxury and distinc The character of Chaucer may be seen in his tion. The scenery of Woodstock Park has been works. He was the counterpart of Shakspeare in described in the Dream with some graphic and pic- cheerfulness and benignity of disposition-no enemy turesque touches :

to mirth and joviality, yet delighting in his books,

A full comely creature, truth she hight,
For the virtue that her followed afеard was she never.
When these maidens mette, Mercy and Truth,
Either axed other of this great wonder,
Of the din and of the darkness, &c.

tractions which followed, and the paucity of any striking poetical genius for at least a century and a half after his death, too truly exemplify the fine simile of Warton, that Chaucer was like a genial day in an English spring, when a brilliant sun enlivens the face of nature with unusual warmth and lustre, but is succeeded by the redoubled horrors of winter, and those tender buds and early blossoms which were called forth by the transient gleam of a temporary sunshine, are nipped by frosts and torn by tempests.'

[Covetousness is thus personified.]
And then came Covetise, can I him not descrive,
So hungrily and hollow Sir Hervey him looked ;
He was beetle-browed, and babberlipped also,
With two bleared een as a blind hag,
And as a leathern purse lolled his cheeks,
Well syder than his chin, they shriveled for eld:
And as a bondman of his bacon his beard was be-

drivelled,
With an hood on his head and a lousy hat above.
And in a tawny tabard of twelve winter age,
Al so-torn and baudy, and full of lice creeping ;
But if that a louse could have loupen the better,
She should not have walked on the welt, it was so

threadbare.

[graphic]

your rule,

*

*

*

[The existing condition of the religious orders is delineated in the following allegorical fashion. It might be supposed that the final lines, in which the Reformation is predicted, was an interpolation after that event; but this has been ascertained not to have been the case.] Ac now is Religion a rider, a roamer about, A leader of lovedays,) and a lond-buyer, A pricker on a palfrey from manor to manor. An heap of hounds [behind him) as he a lord were: And but if his knavet kneel that shall his cope bring, He loured on him, and asketh him who taught him

courtesy Little had lords to done to give lond from her heirs To religious, that have no ruth though it rain on her

altars. In many places there they be parsons by hemself at

ease ; Of the poor have they no pity: and that is her charity!

Chaucer. And they letten hem as lords, her lands lie so broad.

Chaucer was a man of the world as well as a Ac there shall come a King and confess you, Religious, And beat you, as the Bible telleth, for breaking of student; a soldier and courtier, employed in public

affairs of delicacy and importance, and equally acAnd amend monials, monks, and canons,

quainted with the splendour of the warlike and And put hem to her penance

magnificent reign of Edward III., and with the

bitter reverses of fortune which accompanied the And then shall the Abbot of Abingdon, and all his subsequent troubles and convulsions. He had parissue for ever

taken freely in all; and was peculiarly qualified to Have a knock of a King, and incurable the wound.

excel in that department of literature which alone can be universally popular, the portraiture of real life and genuine emotion. His genius was not, in

deed, fully developed till he was advanced in years. With these imperfect models as his only native His early pieces have much of the frigid conceit and guides, arose our first great author, GEOFFREY pedantry of his age, when the passion of love was CHAUCER, distinctively known as the Father of erected into a sort of court, governed by statutes, English poetry. Though our language had risen into and a system of chivalrous mythology (such as the importance with the rise of the Commons in the time poetical worship of the rose and

the daisy) supplanted of Edward I., the French long

kept possession of the the stateliness of the old romance. In time he threw court and higher circles, and it required a genius off these conceitslike that of Chaucer-familiar with different modes He stoop'd to truth, and moralised his song. of life both at home and abroad, and openly patron. When about sixty, in the calm evening of a busy ised by his sovereign-to give literary permanence and consistency to the language and poetry of Eng- life, he composed his Canterbury Tales, simple and land. Henceforward his native style, which Spenser varied as nature itself, imbued with the results terms the pure well of English undefiled,' formed of extensive experience and close observation, and a standard of composition, though the national dis- coloured with the genial lights of a happy tempera

ment, that had looked on the world without austerity,

and passed through its changing scenes without los1 Hanging wider than his chin. 2 As the mouth of a bondman or rural labourer is with the ing the freshness and vivacity of youthful feeling bacon he eats, so was his beard beslabbered—an image still and imagination. The poet tells us himself (in his familiar in England.

Testament of Love) that he was born in London, and 3 Loveday is a day appointed for the amicable settlement of the year 1328 is assigned, by the only authority

we differences.

possess on the subject, namely, the inscription on • A male servant 5 Nuns. his tomb, as the date of his birth. One of his poems

GEOFFREY CHAUCER.

is signed Philogenet of Cambridge, Clerk,' and And right anon as I the day espied, hence he is supposed to have attended the Univer No longer would I in my bed abide, sity there; but Warton and other Oxonians claim I went forth myself alone and boldely, him for the rival university. It is certain that he And held the way down by a brook side, accompanied the army with which Edward III. in Till I came to a land of white and green, vaded France, and was made prisoner about the So fair a one had I never in been. year 1359, at the siege of Retters. At this time the The ground was green y-powdered with daisy, poet was honoured with the steady and effective The flowers and the groves alike high,

patronage of John of Gaunt, whose marriage with All green and white was nothing else seen. 'Blanche, heiress of Lancaster, he commemorates in

his poem of the Dream. Chaucer and time-honoured the destruction of the Royal Manor at Woodstock, Gaunt' became closely connected. The former mar- and the subsequent erection of Blenheim, have ried Philippa Pyckard, or De Rouet, daughter of a changed the appearance of this classic ground; but knight of Hainault, and maid of honour to the queen, the poet's morning walk may still be traced, and and a sister of this lady, Catherine Swinford (widow some venerable oaks that may have waved over him, of Sir John Swinford) became the mistress, and ulti- lend poetic and historical interest to the spot. The mately the wife, of John of Gaunt. The fortunes of opening of the reign of Richard II. was unpropitious the poet rose and fell with those of the prince, his to Chaucer. He became involved in the civil and patron. In 1367, he received from the crown a grant religious troubles of the times, and joined with the of twenty marks, equal to about £200 of our present party of John of Northampton, who was attached money. In 1372, he was a joint envoy on a mission to the doctrines of Wickliffe, in resisting the meato the Duke of Genoa ; and it has been conjectured sures of the court. The poet fled to Hainault (the that on this occasion he made a tour of the northern country of his wife's relations), and afterwards to states of Italy, and visited Petrarch at Padua. The Holland. He ventured to return in 1386, but was only proof of this, however, is a casual allusion in thrown into the Tower, and deprived of his compthe Canterbury Tales, where the clerk of Oxford says trollership. In May 1388, he obtained leave to disof his tale

pose of his two patents of twenty marks each ; & Learned at Padua of a worthy clerk

measure prompted, no doubt, by necessity. He ob

tained his release by impeaching his previous assoFrancis Petrarch, the laureat poet, Hight this clerk, whose rhetoric sweet

ciates, and confessing to his misdemeanours, offering Enlumined all Italy of poetry.

also to prove the truth of his information by enter

ing the lists of combat with the accused parties. The tale thus learned is the pathetic story of Patient How far this transaction involves the character of Grisilde, which, in fact, was written by Boccaccio, the poet, we cannot now ascertain. He has painted and only translated into Latin by Petrarch. “Why,' his suffering and distress, the odium which he inasks Mr Godwin, 'did Chaucer choose to confess curred, and his indignation at the bad conduct of his his obligation for it to Petrarch rather than to Boc- former confederates, in powerful and affecting lancaccio, from whose volume Petrarch confessedly guage in his prose work, the Testament of Love. The translated it? For this very natural reason-be- sunshine of royal favour was not long withheld after cause he was eager to commemorate his interview this humiliating submission. In 1389, Chaucer is with this venerable patriarch of Italian letters, and registered as clerk of the works at Westminster; to record the pleasure he had reaped from his society.' and next year he was appointed to the same office at

We fear this is mere special pleading; but it would Windsor. These were only temporary situations, | be a pity that so pleasing an illusion should be dis- held about twenty months; but he afterwards re

pelled. Whether or not the two poets ever met, the ceived a grant of £20, and a tun of wine, per anItalian journey of Chaucer, and the fame of Petrarch, num. The name of the poet does not occur again must have kindled his poetical ambition and refined for some years, and he is supposed to have retired his taste. The Dirine Comedy of Dante had shed a to Woodstock, and there composed his Canterbury glory over the literature of Italy; Petrarch received Tales. In 1398, a patent of protection was granted his crown of laurel in the Capitol of Rome only five to him by the crown; but, from the terms of the years before Chaucer first appeared as a poet (his deed, it is difficult to say whether it is an amnesty Court of Love was written about the year 1346); and for political offences, or a safeguard from creditors. Boccaccio (more poetical in his prose than his verse) In the following year, still brighter prospects opened had composed that inimitable century of tales, his on the aged poet. Henry of Bolingbroke, the son Decameron, in which the charms of romance are of his brother-in-law, John of Gaunt, ascended the clothed in all the pure and sparkling graces of com- throne: Chaucer's annuity was continued, and forty position. These illustrious examples must have in- marks additional were granted. Thomas Chaucer, spired the English traveller; but the rude northern whom Mr Godwin seems to prove to have been the speech with which he had to deal, formed a chilling poet's son, was made chief butler, and elected Speaker contrast to the musical language of Italy! Edward of the House of Commons. The last time that the IIL continued his patronage to the poet. He was poet's name occurs in any public document, is in a made comptroller of the customs of wine and wool lease made to him by the abbot, prior and convent in the port of London, and had a pitcher of wine of Westminster, of a tenement situate in the gardaily from the royal table, which was afterwards den of the chapel, at the yearly rent of 538. 4d. commuted into a pension of twenty marks. He was This is dated on the 24th of December 1399; and appointed a joint envoy to France to treat of a mar on the 25th of October 1400, the poet died in Lonriage between the Prince of Wales and Mary, the don, most probably in the house he had just leased, daughter of the French king. At home, he is sup- which stood on the site of Henry VII.'s chapel. He posed to have resided in a house granted by the was buried in Westminster Abbey—the first of that king, near the royal manor at Woodstock, where, illustrious file of poets whose ashes rest in the sacred according to the description in his Dream, he was edifice. surrounded with every mark of luxury and distinc The character of Chaucer may be seen in his tion. The scenery of Woodstock Park has been works. He was the counterpart of Shakspeare in described in the Dream with some graphic and pic- cheerfulness and benignity of disposition—no enemy turesque touches :

to mirth and joviality, yet delighting in his books,

[graphic]

Chaucer's Tomb.

Tabard Inn, Southwark. The principal of Chaucer's minor poems are the strictness or restraint by the way. The poet himFlower and Leaf, a spirited and graceful allegorical self is one of the party at the Tabard. They all sup poem, with some fine description; and Troilus and together in the large room of the hostelrie; and after Cresseide, partly translated, but enriched with many great cheer, the landlord proposes that they shall marks of his original genius. Sir Philip Sidney travel together to Canterbury; and, to shorten admired this pathetic poem, and it was long po- their way, that each shall tell a tale, both in going pular. Warton and every subsequent critic have and returning, and whoever told the best, should quoted with just admiration the passage in which have a supper at the expense of the rest. The Cresseide makes an avowal of her love :

company assent, and mine host' (who was both And as the new-abashed nightingale,

• bold of his speech, and wise and well taught')

is appointed to be judge and reporter of the stories. That stinteth first when she beginneth sing, When that she heareth any herdes tale,

The characters composing this social party are Or in the hedges any wight stirring,

inimitably drawn and discriminated. We have a And after, sicker, doth her voice outring ;

knight, à mirror of chivalry, who had fought Right so Cresseide, when that her dread stent,

against the Heathenesse in Palestine ; his son, a Opened her heart, and told him her intent.

gallant young squire with curled locks, “laid in

presse' and all manner of debonair accomplishments; The House of Fame, afterwards so richly paraphrased a nun, or prioress, beautifully drawn in her arch by Pope, contains some bold imagery, and the ro- simplicity and coy reserve; and a jolly monk, who mantic machinery of Gothic fable. It is, however, boasted a dainty, well-caparisoned horsevery unequal in execution, and extravagant in con And when he rode men might his bridle hear ception. Warton has pointed out many anachron

Gingling in a whistling wind as clear, isms in these poems. We can readily believe that

And eke as loud as doth the chapel bell. the unities of time and place were little regarded by the old poet. They were as much defied by Shak * * The house is supposed still to exist, or an inn built upon speare; but in both we have the higher qualities of the site of it, from which the personages of the Canterbury true feeling, passion, and excitement, which blind Tales set out upon their pilgrimage. The sign has been conus to mere scholastic blemishes and defects.

verted by a confusion of speech from the Tabard—“ a sleeveless The Canterbury Tales form the best and most coat worn in times past by noblemen in the wars,” but now durable monument of Chaucer's genius. Boccaccio, hound; and the following inscription is to be found on the

only by heralds (Speght's Glossary)—to the Talbot, a species of in his Decameron, supposes ten persons to have re- spot:-“This is the inn where Geoffrey Chaucer and nine-andtired from Florence during the plague of 1348, and twenty pilgrims lodged on their journey to Canterbury in 1383." there, in a sequestered villa, amused themselves by The inscription is truly observed by Mr Tyrrwhit to be modern, relating tales after dinner. Ten days formed the land of little authority.' -—Godwin's Life of Chaucer.

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A wanton friar is also of the party-full of sly and ral objects and scenery, in Chaucer's clear and simple solemn mirth, and well beloved for his accommodat- style. The tales of the miller and reve are coarse, ing disposition,

but richly humorous. Dryden and Pope have hoFull sweetly heard he confession,

noured the Father of British verse by paraphrasing And pleasant was his absolution.

some of these popular productions, and stripping

them equally of their antiquated style and the more We have a Pardoner from Rome, with some sacred gross of their expressions, but with the sacrifice of relics (as part of the Virgin Mary's veil, and part of most that is characteristic in the elder bard. In a the sail of St Peter's ship), and who is also brim. volume edited by Mr R. H. Horne, under the title ful of pardons come from Rome all hot.' In satirical of Chaucer Modernised, there are specimens of the contrast to these merry and interested churchmen, poems altered with a much more tender regard to we have a poor parson of a town, rich in holy the original, and in some instances with considerable thought and work, and a clerk of Oxford, who was success; but the book by which ordinary readers of skilled in logic

the present day, who are willing to take a little Sounding in moral virtue was his speech,

trouble, may best become acquainted with this great And gladly would he learn and gladly teach.

light of the fourteenth century, is one entitled the

Riches of Chaucer, by C. C. Clarke (two volumes, Yet, with all his learning, the clerk's coat was thread-1835), in which the best pieces are given, with only bare, and his horse was lean as is a rake. Among the spelling modernised. An edition of the Canthe other dramatis personu are, a doctor of physic, a terbury Tales was published, with a learned commengreat astronomer and student, whose study was tary, by Thomas Tyrwhitt, Esq. (5 vols. 1778). but little on the Bible;' a purse-proud merchant; a

The verse of Chaucer is, almost without excepsergeant of law, who was always busy, yet seemed tion, in ten-syllabled couplets, the verse in which busier than he was; and a jolly Franklin, or free- by far the largest portion of our poetry since that holder, who had been a lord of sessions, and was time has been written, and which, as Mr Southey fond of good eating

has remarked, may be judged from that circumWithouten baked meat never was his house,

stance to be best adapted to the character of our Of fish and flesh, and that so plenteous ;

speech. The accentuation, by a license since abanIt enoued in his house of meat and drink.

doned, is different in many instances from that of

common speech : the poet, wherever it suits his conThis character is a fine picture of the wealthy rural veniency, or his pleasure, makes accented syllables Englishman, and it shows how much of enjoyment short, and short syllables emphatic. This has been and hospitality was even then associated with this not only a difficulty with ordinary readers, but a station of life. The Wife of Bath is another lively subject of perplexity amongst commentators; but national portrait: she is shrewd and witty, has the principle has latterly been concluded upon as of abundant means, and is always first with her offer- the simple kind here stated. Another peculiarity ing at church. Among the hunibler characters are, is the making silent e's at the end of words tell in a stout carl' of a miller, a reve or bailiff, and a the metre, as in French lyrical poetry to this day : sompnour or church apparitor, who summoned of- for examplefenders before the archdeacon's court, but whose fire-red face and licentious habits contrast curiously

Full well she sange the service divine. with the nature of his duties. A shipman, cook, Here “sangé' is two syllables, while service furhaberdasher, &c., make up the goodly company

nishes an example of a transposed accent. In pursuthe whole forming such a genuine Hogarthian picance of the same principle, a monosyllabic noun, as ture, that we may exclaim, in the eloquent language beam, becomes the dissyllable beamés in the plural. of Campbell, What an intimate scene of English When these peculiarities are carefully attended to, life in the fourteenth century do we enjoy in these much of the difficulty of reading Chaucer, even in tales, beyond what history displays by glimpses the original spelling, vanishes. through the stormy atmosphere of her scenes, or the

In the extracts which follow, we present, first, a antiquary can discover by the cold light of his re- specimen in the original spelling; then various spesearches ! Chaucer's contemporaries and their suc- cimens in the reduced spelling adopted by Mr Clarke, cessors were justly proud of this national work. but without his marks of accents and extra syllables, Many copies existed in manuscript, and when the except in a few instances; and, finally, one specimen art of printing came to England, one of the first (the Good Parson), in which, by a few slight changes, duties of Caxton's press was to issue an impression of the verse is accommodated to the present fashion. those tales which first gave literary permanence and

[Select characters from the Canterbury Pilgrimage.] consistency to the language and poetry of England.

All the pilgrims in the Canterbury Tales do not A Knight ther was, and that a worthy man,
relate stories. Chaucer had not, like Boccaccio, That fro the time that he first began
finished his design ; for he evidently intended to

To riden out, he loved chevalrie, have given a second series on the return of the com

Trouthe and honour, fredom and curtesie. pany from Canterbury, as well as an account of the Ful worthy was he in his lordes werre; transactions in the city when they reached the sacred And, therto, hadde he ridden, none more ferre, shrine. The concluding supper at the Tabard, As wel in Cristendom as in Hethenesse, when the successful competitor was to be declared, And ever honoured for his worthinesse. would have afforded a rich display for the poet's

Though that he was worthy he was wise ; peculiar humour. The parties who do not relate And of his port, as meke as is a mayde : tales (as the poem has reached us) are the yeoman, In all his lif, unto no manere wight,

He never yet no vilainie ne sayde, the ploughman, and the five city mechanics. The squire's tale is the most chivalrous and romantic, He was a veray parfit gentil knight. and that of the clerk, containing the popular legend His hors was good, but he ne was not gaie

But, for to tellen you of his araie,-of Patient Grisilde, is deeply affecting for its pathos Of fustian he wered a gipon and simplicity. The Cock and the Fox,' related Alle beginatred with his habergeon, by the nun's priest, and “January and May,' the

1 A short cassock. merchant's tale, have some minute painting of natu

15

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