« ZurückWeiter »
ness; an easy and surprising transition that is to the grouping of individuals, who collectively truly magical. Pope had not so enchanting a represent the age and state of society in which subject in The House of Fame ; yet, with defer- they live. It may be added, that if any age or ence to Warton, that critic has done Pope injus state of society be more favourable than another tice in assimilating his imitations of Chaucer to to the uses of the poet, that in which Chaucer the modern ornaments in Westminster Abbey, lived must have been peculiarly picturesque ;
which impair the solemn effect of the ancient an age in which the differences of rank and pro| building. The many absurd and fantastic par- fession were so strongly distinguished, and in , ticulars in Chaucer's House of Fame will not which the broken masses of society gave out their
suffer us to compare it, as a structure in poetry, | deepest shadows and strongest colouring by the with so noble a pile as Westminster Abbey in morning light of civilisation. An unobtrusive architecture. Much of Chaucer's fantastic mat but sufficient contrast is supported between the ter has been judiciously omitted by Pope, who at characters, as between the demure prioress and the same time has clothed the best ideas of the the genial wife of Bath, the rude and boisterous old poem in spirited numbers and expression.miller and the polished knight, &c. &c. Although Chaucer supposes himself to be snatched up to the object of the journey is religious, it casts no heaven by a large eagle, who addresses him in gloom over the meeting ; and we know that our the name of St. James and the Virgin Mary, Catholic ancestors are justly represented in a and, in order to quiet the poet's fears of being state of high good-humour, on the road to such
carried up to Jupiter, like another Ganymede, solemnities. I or turned into a star like Orion, tells him, that The sociality of the pilgrims is, on the whole,
Jove wishes him to sing of other subjects than agreeably sustained ; but in a journey of thirty love and “ blind Cupido,” and has therefore persons, it would not have been adhering to proordered, that Dan Chaucer should be brought bability to have made the harmony quite uninto behold the House of Fame. In Pope, the terrupted. Accordingly the bad-humour which philosophy of fame comes with much more pro breaks out between the lean friar and the cherubpriety from the poet himself, than from the beak faced sompnour, while it accords with the hostiof a talkative eagle.
lity known to have subsisted between those two It was not until his green old age that Chaucer professions, gives a diverting zest to the satirical put forth, in the Canterbury Tales, the full variety stories which the hypocrite and the libertine level of his genius, and the pathos and romance, as
at each other, well as the playfulness of fiction. In the serious Chaucer's forte is description ; much of his part of those tales he is, in general, more deeply moral reflection is superfluous ; none of his chaindebted to preceding materials, than in the racteristic painting. His men and women are comic stories, which he raised upon slight hints not mere ladies and gentlemen, like those who to the air and spirit of originals. The design of furnish apologies for Boccaccio's stories. They the whole work is after Boccaccio's Decamerone; rise before us minutely traced, profusely varied, but exceedingly improved. The Italian novelist's and strongly discriminated. Their features and ladies and gentlemen who have retired from the casual manners seem to have an amusing concity of Florence, on account of the plague, and gruity with their moral characters. He notices who agree to pass their time in telling stories, minute circumstances as if by chance; but every have neither interest nor variety in their indivi. touch has its effect to our conception so distinctly, dual characters; the time assigned to their con. that we seem to live and travel with his persongress is arbitrary, and it evidently breaks up ages throughout the journey. because the author's stores are exhausted. What an intimate scene of English life in the Chaucer's design, on the other hand, though it fourteenth century do we enjoy in those tales, is left unfinished, has definite boundaries, and beyond what history displays by glimpses, through incidents to keep alive our curiosity, independent the stormy atmosphere of her scenes, or the antiof the tales themselves. At the same time, while quary can discover by the cold light of his
the action of the poem is an event too simple to researches ! Our ancestors are restored to us, li divert the attention altogether from the pilgrims' not as phantoms from the field of battle, or the
stories, the pilgrimage itself is an occasion suffi- scaffold, but in the full enjoyment of their social ciently important to draw together almost all the existence. After four hundred years have closed varieties of existing society, from the knight to the over the mirthful features which formed the artisan, who, agreeably to the old simple manners, living originals of the poet's descriptions, his assemble in the same room of the hostellerie. pages impress the fancy with the momentary The enumeration of those characters in the Pro credence that they are still alive ; as if Time logue forms a scene, full, without confusion ; and had rebuilt his ruins, and were reacting the lost the object of their journey gives a fortuitous air scenes of existence.
TIIE PROLOGUE TO THE CANTERBURY TALES.
WHANNE' that April with his shourès sotea
Befelle, that, in that seson on a day,
And shortly, whan the sonne was gon to reste,
But natheles, while I have time and space,
A Knight ther was, and that a worthy man
At Alisandre he was whan it was wonne.
But for to tellen you of his araie,
With him ther was his sone a yongè Squier,
Embrouded was he, as it were a mede
rs Been placed at the head of the table. ! Travelled. u Praise. v Wore a short cassook.
Smutted. * Coat of mail. y Curled
z Nimble. a Horse skirmishing. b Embroidered.
e Playing the flute. d Night-time.
b Root. a Sweet.
e Them. f Their. & Inclination.
h To keep.
i Holidays. j Known.
I Sick m Fallen. n Would. o Every one.
P War. 9 Farther.
Curteis he was, lowly, and servisable,
A Yeman hadde he, and servantes no mo
A not-hedi hadde he, with a broune visage.
Ther was alsò a Nonne, a Prioresse,
But for to speken of hire conscience,
Ful semely hire wimple ypinched was ;
e Carved. f It pleased him.
i A round-head.
k Armour for the arm.
1 Took pains.
t Stick u Smartly, adv.
It was almost a spannè brode I trow
Ful fetiset was hire cloke, as I wa Of smale corall aboute hire arm she A pair of bedès, gauded all with grei And theron ng a broche of gold fu On whiche was first ywritten a croui And after, Amor vincit omnia. Another Nonne also with hire hadde That was hire chapelleine, and Preer
A Monk ther was, a fayre for the An outrider, that loved venerier ; A manly man, to ben an abbot able. Ful many a deintè hors hadde he in And whan he rode, men might his b. Gingeling in a whistling wind as cler And eke as loude, as doth the chapel Ther as this lord was keeper of the e
The reule of Seint Maure and of S Because that it was olde and somdele This ilkè monk lette oldè thingés pac And held after the newè worlde the 1 He yave? not of the text a pulled her That saith, that hunters ben not holy Ne that a monk, whan he is rekkčles Is like to a fish that is waterles ; This is to say, a monk out of his clois This ilkè text held he not worth an a And I say his opinion was good. What shulde he studie, and make hims Upon a book in cloistre alway to porOr swinken with his hondès, and labAs Austin bitd ? how shal the world Let Austin have his swink to him res Therfore he was a prickasoure a rig Greihoundes he hadde as swift as fou Of pricking and of hunting for the la Was all his lust, for no cost welde he
I saw his sleves purfìled at the ho With griss, and that the finest of the And for to fasten his hood under his He hadde of gold ywrought a curious A love-knotte in the greter end ther His hed was balled, and shone as any And eke his face, as it hadde ben ano He was a lord ful fat and in good pois His eyen stepeb, and rolling in his heThat stemed as a fornëis of led. His botès souple, his hors in gret esta Now certainly he was a fayre prelàt. He was not pale as a forpined gost. A fat swan loved he best of any rost. His palfrey was as broune as is a bery
A Frere ther was, a wanton and a i A Limitour, a ful solempnè man. In all the ordres foure is none that ca
So muche of daliance and fayre langage.
His tippet was ay farsed" ful of knives,
And over all, ther as profit shuld arise, Curteis he was, and lowly of servise. Ther n'as no man no wher so vertuous. He was the beste beggèr in all his hous: And gave a certain fermès for the grant, Non of his bretheren came in his haunt. For though a widewe hadde but a shoo, (So plesant was his in principio) Yet wold he have a ferthing or he went. His pourchaswas wel better than his rent. And rage he coude as it hadde ben a whelp, In lovedayes", ther coude he mochel help. For ther was he nat like a cloisterere, With thredbare cope, as is a poure scolere, But he was like a maister or a pope. Of double worsted was his semicope', That round was as a belle out of the presse. Somwhat he lisped for his wantonnesse,
To make his English swete upon his tonge ;
A Marchant was ther with a forked berd,
A Clerk ther was of Oxenforde alsò,
A Sergeant of the Lawe ware and wise,
w Kept, or guarded. The old subsidy of tonnage and poundage was given to the king 'pour la saufgarde et custodie del mer. --Tyrwhitt. * Exchanges.
b Uppermost cloak of coarse cloth.
I Wary. & The paruis, or portico before a church-a place frequented by lawyers. The place of the lawyers' paruis in London is assigned to different places by different antiquaries.-Tyrwhitt.
t Purchase. v Days appointed for the amicable settlement of differences.
Of fees and robès had he many on.
A Frankěleino was in this compagnie ;
At sessions ther was he lord and sire.
An Haberdasher, and a Carpenter,
i Cases and decisions.
m A girdle. * With small stripes.
o A freeholder of considerable estate. P Morning. 9 Wine. r The saint of hospitality,
$ Stored with wine. į It snewed, i. e. there was great abundance. u Secret. * Fixed ready
w knife. x Purse.
y Morning. 2 Mr. Tyrwbitt conjectures, but merely offers, it as a conjecture, that the contour was foreman of the hundred court.
a Vavasour. Of this term Mr. T. is doubtful of the meaning. b A weaver.
C A maker of tapestry.
Ful freshe and rewe hire gere ypikid' Hir knives were ychaped not with bra But all with silver wrought ful clene : Hir girdeles and hir pouches every de Wel semed eche of hem a fayre burge To sitten in a gild halle, on the deis'. Everich, for the wisdom that he can, Was shapelichi for to ben an aldermai For catel hadden they ynough and rei And eke hir wives would it well assen And ellèsk certainly they were to blan It is ful fayre to ben ycleped madàme And for to gon to vigiles all before, And have a mantel reallich' yborem.
A Coke they hadden with hem for t To boile the chikenes and the marie b And poudre marchant, tart and galin Wel coulde he knowe a draught of Lo He couldè roste, and sethe, and broile Maken mortrewèsy, and wel bake a pie But gret harm was it, as it thoughtè n That on his shinne a mormal" hadde h For blanc manger that made he with t
A Shipman was ther, woneds fer by For ought I wote, he was of Dertèmou He rode upon a rouncie', as he couthe, All in a goune of falding to the knee. A dagger hanging by a las" hadde hee About his nekke under his arm adoun. The hote sommer hadde made his hewe And certainly he was a good felaw. Ful many a draught of win he hadde di From Burdeux ward, while that thechapr Of nicè conscience toke he no kepe. If that he faught, and hadde the higher By water he sent hem home to every la But of his craft to reken well his tides, His stremès and his strandès him besidHis herberwe', his mone", and his lode Ther was none swiche, from Hull unto Hardy he was, and wise, I undertake : With many a tempest hadde his berd be He knew wel alle the havens, as they w Fro Gotland, to the Cape de finistere, And every creke in Bretagne and in SpHis barge ycleped was the Magdelaine.
With us ther was a Doctour of PhisilIn all this world ne was ther non him li To speke of phisike, and of surgerie : For he was grounded in astronomie. He kept his patient a ful gret del In hourès by his magike naturel.