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and images ol beauty, and whose great succevis was doubtless a spur to hit ambition to attain a like enviable fame.
On his return home, the friendship and patronage of the reigning monarch were continued to him. He was- made controller of the customs of wine and wool, the revenue from which office, together with a pension that was granted to hint, gave him a liberal support During the whole of the reign of Edward HL, his genius and connections ensured to him prosperity, and also during the period of John of Gaunt's influence in the succeeding reign of Richard II, 1377—1399. But during the waning fortunes of that nobleman, Chaucer also suffered, and was indeed imprisoned for a short time; but on the return of the Duke of Lancaster from Spain, 1389, he had once more a 6teady prolector, and on the accession of Henry IV., he had an additional annuity conferred upon him. But he did not live long to enjoy this accession to his fortune, for he died on the twenty-fifth of October, 1400, and was interred in Westminster Abbey.
We know little of Chaucer as a member of society; but we know that he had mingled with the world's affairs, both at home and abroad. Accomplished in manners and intimately acquainted with a splendid court, he was at once the philosopher who had surveyed mankind in their widest sphere, the poet who haunted the solitudes of nature, and trie elegant courtier whose opulent tastes are often discovered in the graceful pomp of his descriptions. The vigorous yet finished paintings, with which his works abound, are still, notwithstanding the roughness of their clothing, beauties of a highly poetical nature. The ear may not always be satisfied, but the mind of the reader is always filled.'
Chaucer's genius, like Cowper's, was not fully developed till he was advanced in years; for it was not until he was about sixty, in the calm evening of a busy life, that he composed his great work on which his fame chiefly rests, his Cahtebbubt Tales. He took the idea, doubtless, from the Decameron of Boccacio,' at that time one of the most popular of books. He proposes that a company of pilgrims, consisting of twenty-nine » sundry folk," meet together at the Tabard inn, Southwark,3 on their way to the shrine of Thomas a Becket,4 at Canterbury. While at supper they agreed, at the suggestion of their host, not only to pursue their journey together die next morning, but, in order to render their way the more interesting, that each should divert the others with a tale, both in going and returning, and that whoever told the best, should have a supper at the expense of the rest; and that the landlord should be the judge.
It will thus be seen that the plan of Chaucer is vastly superior to that of Boccacio. His characters, instead of being youthful and from the same city,
1 Read fijppMry's Eartg ErgUfh LiUr^inre: also, TodtTe Iliutratimi of Gotvr and Cktyxer. "I tala uacesulng delight in Chaucer. Ills manly chcet 'fulness 1* especially delicious In my old ace. How exquisitely tender he la."—colervlje't TaUe Toil-. Read, also, Chaucer Modernized, 1 vol. lamo, with a weD-wrttten Introduction on English pootry by R. H. Home, and versifications by Wordsworth, Leigh Hunt, and outers.
J Boecacto xnpposCB that when the plague bffran to abate in Florence, (ISM,! ten young persons of both wiles r.lired to the country to enjoy the fresh nlr, and pais TKir Pats agreeably. (Hence the Lame DscjtutaoB', from the Greek etna (uvtu) "ten," and ijufpa (hevura) "a day." Their print* pal amusement was In telling tales in turn; and as each of the ten told a story a day, and as thf.-v jcmlnaed together ten days, the Decameron consists of one hundred tales.
1 Opposite the city of London, on the Thames.
« For the murder of this famous archbishop In the reign of Henry n., A. D. 1171, see MMonj of ^yJoajrf. Canterbury Is 33 miles south-east from London.
are of matured experience, from various places, and are drawn from different classes of mankind, and consequently are, in their rank, appearance, manners, and habits, as various as at that time could be found in the several departments of middle life; that is, in fact, as various as could, with any probability, be brought together, so as to form one company; the highest and lowest ranks of society being necessarily excluded. But what gives us the greatest admiration of the poet, is the astonishing skill with which he has supported his characters, and the exquisite address that he has shown in adapting his stories to the different humors, sentiments, and talents of the reciters. He has thus given us such an accurate picture of ancient manners as no contemporary writer has transmitted to posterity, and in the Canterbury Tales we view the pursuits and employments, the customs and diversions of the reign of Edward III., copied from the life, and represented with equal truth and spirit It has been justly remarked, that it was no inferior combination of observation and sympathy which could bring together into one company the many-colored conditions and professions of society, delineated with pictorial force, and dramatized by poetic conception, reflecting themselves in the tale which seemed most congruous to their humors.1 The following are some select characters, as portrayed in the Prologue.*
1 Read D'Irrae«7| AvmMee of Literature, 3 vols. Svo.
* In a subsequent age, the great work of Chaucer exerted a powerful Influence In helping: on the great cause of the BeformaUon. So much was Cardinal Wolsey offended at the severity with which the papal clergy were treated In the Pilgrim's Tale, that be laid an interdict upon Its ever being printed with the rest of the work, and it was with difficulty that the Ploughman's Talc was permitted to stand. John Fox, (1S17— 1W7,) the historian of the martyrs, thus writes: "But much more I mervalle to consider this, how that the bishops condemning and abolishing an mancr of English bookes and treatises, which might bring the peoplo to any light of knowledge, did yet authorize the Workes of Chaucer to remalne. So it pleased Qod to blind then the eles of them, for the more commodoty of his people."
a Sotc—sweet * Bote—root. » Holt—grove, forest.
* To make this line consistent with the first it should read Butt Instead of Ram, for he says that the Unie of this pilgrimage was when the showers of April had pierced into the root the drought of starch, so that April, which corresponds to Uie eonstellntlon of the Butt, must have been far advanced Read, TirrwAiW'i Introduction to dvtrrburu Taiei.
I Courages—hearts, spirits. s Hallows—holiness. 9 Couth—known.
10 Wena- «o, make way.
(BENRY IT. of matured experience, from various places, and are drawn from different uses of mankind, and consequently are, in their rank, appearance, man
and habits, as various as at that time could be found in the several artments of middle life; that is, in fact, as various as could, with any prowy, be brought together, so as to form one company; the highest and est ranks of society being necessarily excluded. But what gives us the est admiration of the poet, is the astonishing skill with which he has ported his characters, and the exquisite address that he has shown in wng his stories to the different humors, sentiments, and talents of the lo
He has thus given us such an accurate picture of ancient manners as Ctemporary writer has transmitted to posterity, and in the Canterbury we view the pursuits and employments, the customs and diversions of ign of Edward III., copied from the life, and represented with equal nd spirit. It has been justly remarked, that it was no inferior combie of observation and sympathy which could bring together into one Jy the many-colored conditions and professions of society, delineated Tutorial force, and dramatized by poetic conception, reflecting them
The fol Hi the tale which seemed most congruous to their humors.
The holy blissful martyr for to seek
Befell that in that season on a day,
fre some select characters, as portrayed in the Prologue.
THE PROLOGUE. Whenné that April, with his showrés sote, s The drouth of March hath piercéd to the rote, And bathéd erery vein in such licoúr, Of which virtúe engendred is the flow'r; When Zephirus eké, with his sotés breath, Inspired hath in every hole and heath The tender croppés, and the younge sun Hath in the Ram his halfe course yrun, And smallé low les maken melody, That sleepen allé night with open eye, So pricketh them nature in their courages, Then longen folk to go on pilgrimages, And palmers for to seeken strangé strands, To servé hallow98 couth' in sundry lands: And 'specially from every shiré's end Or Engleland to Canterbury they wend, 10
THE KNIGHT AND SQUIRE.
With him there was his son, a youngé Squire,
Embroider'd was he, as it were a mead
Amenities el Literark or Chaucer exertes de vollended at the severity
Reformatie in the Planeas with de
Amenitin e Literature, 3 vols. svo.
or the creat work of Chaucer exerted a powerful infaence in helping on the Deformation. So much was Cardinal Wolsey odended at the severity with which
e treated in the Pilgrim's Tale, that he laid an interdict upon its ever beint to the work, and it was with diMculty that the Ploughman's Tale was der on Yor (1517-1567,) the historian of the martyrs, thus writes: "But much
neder this, how that the bishops condemning and abolisbing all maner of meatises, which might bring the people to any light of knowledge, did yet auChauver to remaine. So it pleased God to blind then the eles of them for the
1 That is the inn called “The Tabard." The Tabard was a " jacket, or sleeveless coat, worn in times past by noblemen in the wars, but now only by heralds, and is called the coat of arms in service."-pegat. 2 Wenden-go, make way. 3 Wide--spacious. - Eased atte best crantuodlously lodged. 5 Parre-farther. 6 Wonderly deliver--wonderfully active: from the French lidre, free. Chevachie, (French, chevauchee,) & military expedition. 8 Conducted hinsell well, considering the short time that he had served. Floyting-fluting, playing on thy
would not, in all probability, have a flute always with him. I soula therefore prefer the reading that he "whistled all the day:" as being a more natural touch of charac let, as well as in keeping with the hilarity of youth. 10 Nightertale--night-time.
is people. Boteroolo it should read batorced into the room for advanced
6 Holtmgrove, forest Netent with the first. It should read Bull instead of Rax, for he arys that
shen the showcry of April bad perted into the root the droucht of
wage was when the showcry of an with corresponds to the constellation of the Bull nunst have been far ada hou to Cp tertary Tales pirts.
Halos - Boliness.
A Clerk1 there was of Oxenford also,
A good Wi/t was there of beside Bath,
I In the Interesting character of the "clerk" or scholar, whose poverty, c intention to worldly attain are eminently conspicuous, Warton thinks that Chaucer glanced at the nattentlon paid to literature, and the unprofitableness of philosophy.
s That la, a scholar. » Ygo—part, put, gone. * Overest courtepy—uppermost short rloak. 6 Lever—rather. • Kent—catch hold of. t Scholay— study. » High sentence— 1. e. lony period. • Scathe—harm, damage. » Haunts-custom. U Head-dress. u Moist—fresh
II This alludes to the old custom of the parties Joining hands at the door of the church before they went up to the altar to consummate the union; and this Jolly dan:e and goo.1 housewife la ivpraseoted as having gone through that interesting ccrc-inony (Ivt- tlnvs.
A good man there was of religion,
He sette not his benefice to hire,
1 Id describing the sanctity, simplicity, sincerity, patience, Industry, eournee, and conscientious keparuanty of this excellent parlsh-prlest, Chaucer, aa Warton observes, has shown his eooj senao *M good beirt. Is not Goldsmith indebted to It tor some of the bcauliful traits In tlie character of Ms Vmaaje Preacher, In the DtttrUi nibfi t
i Partshen*—parishioners. * Sithes—Umes. s Sumsance—sufficiency. » Much and tee—great and small. 6 Yaf—gave. r Levred—Ignorant. • Accumbrcd—encumbered.
• Chantery. An endowment for the payment of a priest to sing mass agreeably to the appointment of the founder. There were thirty-five of these chantries established at St. Paul's, which were ■erred by fifty-tour priests.—Aaalaw, UU. prtf. p. 41. 10 withold— wlUihoiden, withheld
a Dtspttooa— inexorable, angry to excess. 12 Dangerous—sparing, u Digne—prou.l, disdalntul