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The season pricketh every gentle heart,
And maketh him out of his sleep to start,
And saith, 'Arise, and do thine observance.'

This maketh Emily have remembrance
To do honour to May, and for to rise.
Yclothéd was she, fresh for to devise :
Her yellow hair was braided in a tress
Behind her back, a yardé * long I guess :
And in the garden, at the sun uprist,
She walketh up and down, where as her list;
She gathereth flowers, party white and red,
To make a subtle garland for her head ;
And as an angel heavenly she sung.
The great tower, that was so thick and strong,
Which of the castle was the chief dongeon
(Where as these knightés weren in prison,
Of which I toldè you, and tellen shall),
Was even joinant to the garden wall,
There as this Emily had her playing.

Bright was the sun, and clear that morwéning"

[How finely, to our ears at least, the second line of the couplet always rises up from this full stop at the first !]

"Bright was the sun, and clear that morwéning,
And Palamon, this woeful prisoner,
As was his wont, by leave of his jailer,
Was risen, and roaméd in a chamber on high,
In which he all the noble city sight
And eke the garden, full of branches green,
There as this fresh Emilia the sheen i

Was in her walk, and roaméd up and down."
Sir Walter Scott, in his edition of Dryden, says upon the

passage before us, and Dryden's version of it, that "the modern must yield the palm to the ancient, in spite of the beauty of his versification.” We quote from memory; but this is the substance of his words. For our parts, we quite agree with them, as to the consignment of the palm, but not as to the exception about the versification. With some allowance as to our present mode of accentuation, it appears to us to be touched with a finer sense of music even than Dryden's. It is more delicate, without any

* These additional syllables are to be read slightly, like the e in French verse. + Saw.

| The shining.

inferiority in strength ; and still more various.

At the same time, we do not quote Sir Walter for the purpose of differing with him. We would only show the more fashionable part of our readers what their favourite writer thinks of Chaucer; and we would also take another opportunity of contrasting some opinions of ours, exaggerated by party feeling and a young thoughtlessness, when Sir Walter wrote nothing but criticism and poetry, with our sense of his extraordinary merits as a novelist. But more of these in another place. Of politics also we say nothing here. There ought to be some places in the world of letters, where men's thoughts of each other, like the knights of old, may

“In weeds of peace high triumphs hold."

But now to our other portrait. It is as sparkling with young manhood as the former is with a gentler freshness. What a burst of radiant joy is in the second couplet ! what a vital quickness in the comparison of the horse, "starting as the fire !” and what a native and happy ease in the conclusion !

The busy lark, the messenger of day,
Saleweth * in her song the morrow grey ;
And fiery Phoebus riseth up so bright,
That all the orient laugheth of the sight;
And with his stremés drieth in the greves †
The silver droppés hanging in the leaves ;
And Arcite, that is in the court real I
With Theseus, the squier principal,
Is risen, and looketh on the merry day ;
And for to do his observance to May,
Remembring on the point of his desire,
He on his courser, starting as the fire,
Is ridden to the fieldés him to play,
Out of the court, were it a mile or tway:
And to the grove, of which that I
By aventure his way he gan to hold,
To maken him a garland of the greves,
Were it of woodbind or of hawthorn leaves ;

you told,

• Saluteth,


| Royal.

And loud he sung against the sunny sheen
"O May, with all thy flowers and thy green,
Right welcome be thou, fairé freshé May:
I hope that I some green here getten may.'
And from his courser, with a lusty heart,
Into the grove full hastily he start,
And in a path he roaméd up and down.”

The versification of this is not so striking as the other ; but Dryden again falls short in the freshness and feeling of the sentiment. His lines are beautiful ; but they do not come home to us with so happy and cordial a face. Here they are. The word “morning” in the first line, as it is repeated in the second, we are bound to consider as a slip of the pen; perhaps for "mounting,"

“ The morning-lark, the messenger of day,

Saluted in her song the morning grey;
And soon the sun arose with beams so bright,
That all the horizon laugh'd to see the joyous sight:
He with his tepid rays the rose renews,
And licks the drooping leaves, and dries the dews;
When Arcite left his bed, resolv'd to pay
Observance to the month of merry May:
Forth on his fiery steed betimes he rode,
That scarcely prints the turf on which he trod :
At ease he seem'd, and, prancing o'er the plains,
Turn'd only to the grove his horse's reins,
The grove I named before ; and, lighted there,
A woodbine garland sought to crown his hair ;
Then turn’d his face against the rising day,
And raised his voice to welcome in the May:
'For thee, sweet month, the groves green liveries wear,
If not the first, the fairest of the year :
For thee the graces lead the dancing hours,
And Nature's ready pencil paints the flowers :
When thy short reign is past, the feverish sun
The sultry tropic fears, and moves more slowly on.
So may thy tender blossoms fear no blight,
Nor goats with venom'd teeth thy tendrils bite,
As thou shalt guide my wandering feet to find
The fragrant greens I seek, my brows to bind.'

His vows address'd, within the grove he stray'd."
How poor is this to Arcite's leaping from his courser

with a lusty heart”! How inferior the commonplace of the "fiery

steed," which need not involve any actual notion in the writer's mind, to the courser “starting as the fire ” !-how inferior the turning his face to “the rising day” and “raising his voice,” to the singing “loud against the sunny sheen”! and lastly, the whole learned invocation and adjuration of May, about guiding his “wandering steps” and “so may thy tender blossoms," &c., to the call upon the fair fresh May, ending with that simple, quick-hearted line, in which he hopes he shall get "some green here ;” a touch in the happiest taste of the Italian vivacity. Dryden's genius, for the most part, wanted faith in nature. It was too gross and sophisticate. There was as much difference between him and his original, as between a hot noon in perukes at St James's, and one of Chaucer's lounges on the grass of a May-morning.

All this worship of May is over now. There is no issuing forth, in glad companies, to gather boughs; no adorning of houses with “ the flowery spoil ;” no songs, no dances, no village sports and coronations, no courtly poetries, no sense and acknowledgment of the quiet presence of nature, in grove or glade.

" () dolce primavera, o fior novelli,

O aure, o arboscelli, o fresche erbette;
O piagge benedette ; o colli, o inonti,
( valli, o fiumi, o fonti, o verdi rivi,
Palme lauri ed olive, edere e mirti;
O gloriosi spiriti de gli boschi;
() Eco, o antri foschi, o chiare linfe,
O faretrate ninfe, o agresti Pani,
O Satiri e Silvani, o Fauni e Driadi,
Naiadi ed Amadriadi, o Semidee,
Oreadi e Napee,--or siete sole."


“O thou delicious spring, O ye new flowers,

O airs, () youngling bowers ; fresh thickening grass,
And plains beneath heaven's face; O hills and mountains,
Valleys, and streams, and fountains ; banks of green,
Myrtles, and palms serene, ivys, and bays;
And ye who warm'd old lays, spirits o' the woods,
Echoes, and solitudes, and lakes of light;

U quiver'd virgins bright, Pans rustical,
Satyrs and sylvans all, Dryads, and ye
That up the mountains be ; and ye beneath
In meadow or flowery heath,-ye are alone."


This time two hundred years ago, our ancestors were all an. ticipating their May holidays. Bigotry came in, and frowned them away ; then Debauchery, and identified all pleasure with the town;

then Avarice, and we have ever since been mistaking the means for the end. Fortunately it does not follow that we shall continue to do

Commerce, while it thinks it is only exchanging commodities, is helping to diffuse knowledge. All other gains,-all selfish and extravagant systems of acquisition,-tend to overdo themselves, and to topple down by their own undiffused magnitude. The world, as it learns other things, may learn not to confound the means with the end, or, at least (to speak more philosophically), a really poor means with a really richer. The veriest cricket-player on a green has as sufficient a quantity of excitement as a fundholder or a partisan ; and health, and spirits, and manliness to boot. Knowledge may go on; must do so, from necessity; and should do so, for the ends we speak of: but knowledge, so far from being incompatible with simplicity of pleasures, is the quickest to perceive its wealth. Chaucer would lie for hours, looking at the daisies. Scipio and Lælius could amuse themselves with making ducks and drakes on the water. Epaminondas, the greatest of all the active spirits of Greece, was a flute-player and dancer. Alfred the Great could act the whole part of a minstrel. Epicurus taught the riches of temperance and intellectual pleasure in a garden. The other philosophers of his country walked between heaven and earth in the colloquial bowers of Academus; and “the wisest heart of Solomon," who found everything vain because he was a king, has left us panegyrics on the Spring and “the voice of the turtle," because he was a poet, a lover, and a wise man.

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