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and for all varieties of this kind, would be the Chaucerian
"Round about, and in all the tents, With thousandes of instruments,' is a more rapid and lively measure, which owes almost everything to Chaucer's inventive genius.
English dramatic blank verse, in all its principal excellences, was the creation of Shakspere. In your ordinary reading books, you meet with scenes and passages from the great bard, many of which you know by heart, and you are delighted to recite them aloud. I need not, therefore, quote from him. His diction, or general style of language, is wonderfully free, varied, and powerful; and no other writer, except perhaps Chaucer, has so completely made his language subservient to the sense. Whatever be the thought or feeling that he wishes to express, it is clothed in the precise words that best shows it forth, and this is done with no apparent effort, but as if by happy inspiration.
I can but just barely suggest to you, dear children, the nature of these admirable poetic inventions; you must study them for yourselves. I will only add here, that every great poet, every true poet, more or less, invents his own verse, by making it express in a peculiar way the music of his own soul; but Chaucer and Shakspere invented for the nation, and for the language they were pioneers, hewing high ways through the rugged hills.
They were both court poets; the courts they flourished in were illustrious for wisdom, genius, and generous sentiment. Let me show you some of the men and the women of these courts-the patrons and friends of the great poets.
First, the sovereigns. Chaucer's king was Edward III., who was splendid in his tastes, liberal and noble in his general manners, pure in his life, until toward the close, brave in war to the utmost degree, and in all respects a model of the English gentleman of the days of chivalry.
The sovereign of Shakspere was Queen Elizabeth, perhaps the greatest queen that ever reigned in any land.
Around Edward III. moved a band of heroid sons, who thought it their highest glory to imitate their father; and each was the centre of a shining circle, composed of mer famous for the martial virtues.
Both the great poets lived v when most important battles were won by the English." King Edward's mother was a daughter of the king of France, and the former. claimed the crown of France through her, and went to France fully persuaded that he had a right to that kingdom, and resolved to win it. The first great victory he obtained, with the aid of his warrior sons and nobility, was on the sea; it is called the Battle of Sluys, and was the commencement of our great naval victories. The whole of the French fleet was captured, and thirty thousand fighting men of France perished in the action. Other naval victories followed this one; and whilst the ferocity displayed, and the mournful loss of life they occasioned were to be lamented, many believe that our country has derived solid and lasting benefits from them.
Two ever-memorable land victories were also achieved-those of Cressy and Poictiers.
The English army in France, on its fourth campaign, was retreating, when it was placed in a situation of extreme difficulty and danger, pursued by all the flower of the French chivalry, under their chosen king.
"Here let us place ourselves," said Edward III., ordering the encampment of his wearied force in the forest of Cressy, "we will not go further till we have seen our enemies; there is reason to wait for them here, for I am on the lawful inheritance of my mother, and I will defend it against my adversary Philip of Valois." The French army was greatly superior to the English in numbers and array. The nobility of both armies were knights of high spirit and courage, but the English possessed a means of conquest that was despised by the proud nobles of France-the bows and arrows of the common soldiers. These chiefly won the battle of Cressy, and all the great victories of the middle ages.
During the heat of the fight at Cressy, the king with his chief battalion remained by a windmill; whilst his eldest son, the Black Prince, then scarcely sixteen years of age, headed the strife. Suddenly a knight rode up to the king, and urgently requested aid for the prince.
“Is my son dead, unhorsed, or hurt ?” * asked the king.
"No, Sire," replied the knight, "but
He was a finished specimen of the young gentleman of Chaucer's day, romantically brave, courteous, humble, and submissive to parents and superiors.
The allusion to "spurs" I must explain. It refers to the youth rising from the position of a squire to that of a knight. The knight, the squire, and the yeoman, were the three leading characters of that age of magnificent warfare. The knight was the gentleman soldier; the squire was young, born of "gentle blood," aspiring after knighthood, and always in the service of some knight; whilst the yeoman was the common soldier-generally of Saxon stock, famous for skill with the bow and arrow, with the quarter-staff and the cudgel, and an admirable wrestler. Chaucer paints these characters to the life, from the noble specimens he saw around him. He describes a knight as a worthy man," loving "truth and honour, freedom and courtesy,' who had been in fifteen mortal battles, was wise, and meek in deportment, and never stooped to an unworthy action. He says of the squire,
"Courteous he was, lowly, and serviceable,
And carved before his father at the table."
He describes the yeoman as clothed in a foreşter's dress,
"And in his hand he bare a mighty bow." The education of these three characters was strictly adapted to prepare them for their different, and yet united paths in life; for the yeoman, like the squire, was bound
by military service to a knight; and the three unitedly obeyed the call of some superior lord, when he summoned them to the field of war. All knights were thus bound to serve the sovereign, as their chief lord, during a certain number of days; and each of the high nobility could summon at any hour his knights with their squires and yeomen, to fight on his behalf. There were two or more classes of knights-the banner knights, men of high rank or great fame, and the common knights. Edward III. and his sons, like the French king and princes of the time, thought it their highest privilege to be "very perfect, gentle knights."
In the battle of Poictiers, also won by the valour of the Black Prince and his friends, we see the French king John fighting on foot in the very midst of a dense crowd of combatants-all but his knightly renown forgotten; whilst his son Philip, a youth of sixteen, acting as his squire, kept close to his side, constantly watching to preserve the life of his lord and father, regardless of his own danger. Good squires always kept near to their lords in battle, ready to aid them at any moment; and so young Philip, whenever he saw an arm upraised to aim a blow at the king, cried out, "Father, guard yourself on the right! Father, guard yourself on the left!" until both were taken prisoners. This King John was the son of Philip of Valois, the rival claimant of Edward III. to the crown of France, Philip of Valois was now dead, and his son John had succeeded to the unsettled sovereignty, which he had striven gallantly to retain, but adverse fortune denied him success. He was one of the most lofty-minded knights of the age, full of daring courage, and truth and honour. This was well known to the Black Prince, victor of the battle of Poictiers, who, having now his dire enemy in his power, acted towards him only as one of the most generous of knights. While the minstrels were playing their triumphal pieces, and the trumpets and clarions sounding for victory, in the midst of the exulting shouts and the joyful tumult, the banner of the prince was placed on a high bank, a small crimson pavilion pitched for him to rest in, wine was brought for his refreshment, and his helmet was laid aside; just then, before he could have recovered
would stick fast in the hedge, half a dozen would upset backwards in the long grass, and not be able to right themselves again; while of those that did contrive to keep up with her, first one, and then another, would be nearly crushed by her broad, heavy foot; for, looking neither to the right nor the left, as she waddled on, she trod upon them quite as often as not. In short, she managed so badly, and always lost so many of her little ones, that the whole poultry-yard cried shame upon her.
from the agitation of a success so splendid, he saw before him the captive King John, and his son. The conqueror received them with self-command and graceful humility. He bowed low; spoke gentle and comforting words, poured out a cup of wine, and presented it to the fallen king. Supper was prepared; the prince, wearied as he was, waited on his captive, and declined to sit in his presence. He complimented John on the personal bravery he had displayed, "surpassing the best of his followers," and assured him that King Edward, Many of her neighbour-ducks contented his father, would receive him with all honour themselves with saying disrespectful things, and friendship, and arrange with him re- of her behind her back. Others, who were garding the contested crown of France so more kindly disposed, (and it may be reasonably, that they should remain in added, better mannered), went so far as to future good friends. The other French remonstrate with her on her conduct. They prisoners were so delighted by this noble did not wish to wound her feelings, but, as treatment of their king, that they ap-mothers of families, they could not bear to plauded the English prince as un gentil see children so shamefully neglected as, seigneur. When John was brought to they ventured to tell her, hers were. If England, Edward III. most handsomely she only knew how harshly she was spoken verified his son's encouraging assurances, of in the vicinity, they were sure that reand the captive was treated as a honoured gard for her own reputation would induce and royal guest, until permitted to return her to pay more attention to her maternal to France to collect a large sum of money duties, even supposing her to be utterly fixed upon as his ransom. destitute of natural affection for her children, which they were far from wishing to believe.
The duck, however, gave not the slightest heer either to the backbiters, or her friendly advisers. For the former, she professed a contempt that would have been exceedingly painful to those individuals, had they been at all aware of it; and she told the latter that "it was owing to her organisation, so, of course, she could not help it." And when they were gone, she muttered something about "being insulted in her own nest," and sat down again (for she had risen to let her visitors out,) so carelessly, that she broke two of her finest eggs.
He found himself unable to obtain it, and, true to the very letter of his engagement with the English, returned to his exile and captivity in England. There such honourable conduct won him universal esteem; and he soon after died among his "enemies," as much admired and beloved as he deserved to be. Such were the characters that graced the court in which Chaucer lived and wrote,
THE DUCK AND THE HEN: A LESSON FOR THE LEARNED." Ducks are not generally considered the most careful mothers in the world. But there was one at the cottage down the green lanes that was really more careless than all the rest of them put together. Scarcely were her brood fledged, when she would set off on long walks through the fields, striding along at a great rate, without ever turning her head, or stopping for a moment to see what had become of her poor ducklings. They of course ran after her as fast as they could; but one
But if the ducks were scandalised by her glaring neglect of her family, it may be imagined how the hens went on! They scarcely ever met at a scratching-party in the dust, without talking about her, and saying what a disgrace she was to the yard. They accused her roundly of losing her ducklings, and treading upon them, on purpose. Indeed, they pronounced her whole mode of rearing her children to be vicious in the extreme-one alike opposed to reason and experience-but sighed as they added, "we can't all be hens; ducks
are in the world, and we must try to bear with, if we cannot mend them."
anything further, her friend must permit her to say, was positively destructive; it There was one of these hens in particular, chilled the system, and consequently enwho conceived her special mission in the feebled the vital powers, to spend so much world to be that of setting everybody else time dabbling in it. An old duck, inured right. A good-natured creature she was, by long custom, might remain uninjured always ready to serve a friend, but her ex-by it, but what-(here her voice faltered) cessive self-esteem led her to bestow even what result could be expected from so her kindnesses of this sort with such an pernicious a practice when tender infants air of superiority at once offensive and were the subjects of it, other than that ridiculous, that those who knew her never which had been so deplorably manifest in cared to receive them, seeing they were her friend's household? And here the little better than well-intentioned imper- hen, who, as I have said, was really goodtinences. She was good-looking, and she natured, dropped two enormous tears, for knew it; white body, and black legs-a she was affected by her own eloquence. contrast that she admired. Had she been romantic in her notions (which she was not) she would probably have said (to herself) that the loveliness of her person was the apt expression of the loveliness of her mind. As it was, she simply thought herself the handsomest and wisest hen in the world, which was a very comfortable opinion.
The duck, who had never been so talked to in her life, did not know what to say to all this. She had often thought it very stupid of the hen to stay always on dry ground, and to be so afraid of wetting her feet. But it had never occurred to her that anybody could possibly find fault with her own practice.
Well, being so much wiser than the rest of the world, our clever hen naturally thought that she both knew better than any fowl among them the cause of the duck's rearing so few of her brood, and the proper way to remedy the mischief. Here was her self-conceit. Her kindly feelings had been roused by finding one of the little lucks dead among the reeds at the edge of the pond, that very morning. So, urged by the two, she resolved to go at once and correct both the theory and practice of Mrs. Duck.
Accordingly she put on her best bonnet, (she thought it right to pay her neighbour that respect,) and set out for the nest. She was received civilly; and after a few observations upon the weather, in which the duck hoped it would rain, and the hen that it would keep fair, the latter began by a brief allusion to the melancholy fate of the deceased duckling. After hinting, delicately enough for her, at the duck's want of care for her little ones, she proceeded to tell her what she considered to be the true explanation of the mortality that prevailed among them, and that was, their being always taken to the water-the external use of cold water being, as she believed, (and she was generally correct in
So she cleared her voice, and rather hesitatingly replied, that she thought it was more natural to go into the water adding, that her children liked it, and she thought it did them good.
"Look at me," said the hen, "did you ever see any one more healthy in your life? I never bathe; and as for my chicks, I do not lose half so many of mine as you do of yours. A plain proof that scratching in the dust is infinitely more wholesome than sailing on that dirty duck-pond: not to speak of its being so much cleaner."
To this the duck could only urge that not only herself, but all her relations, as far back as she could remember, had always felt themselves as much at home on the water as on dry land. Her mother had taken her to it as soon as she was hatched: and, in short, she believed there never was a duck since the world began who did not consider herself decidedly as much of a water-fowl as a land-bird.
To which the hen calmly, but firmly, rejoined, that "the length of time that an absurd custom had prevailed was, to reasonable mind, not the slightest argument for its continuance. My own internal convictions," continued she, assure me that dabbling in water is useless, dangerous, and
her opinions,) exceedingly injurious. Aallow me to add-dirty; and I am amazed that you should not have sufficient strength
little was certainly good for drinking, but
of mind to break through this mere prejudice in its favour-for so I must term ittruth being dearer to me than courtesy. I am, however, perfectly willing to prove to you that I am correct, (as I believe I gene(rally am), in my view of this matter. Let me have the training, nay, the hatching of your next flock; and I will engage they shall never wish to go near the water.'
The duck, who was not naturally fond of children, (which is the only excuse I can offer for her,) readily assented to this. For -I am ashamed to say it of her-she thought the rearing of a family very troublesome, and an intolerable restraint upon her personal freedom. So it was arranged between them; and the hen then reached home with her eldest son, who had called for her..
In due time the eggs arrived. The hen sat upon them with the greatest patience; and out came the little ducks. She did not think them half so handsome as chickens. But," said she, "a parent's duty does not depend upon the beauty of her children. If ducks are ugly, that is no reason why their mother should neglect them, and ruin their constitutions by exposure and damp." And she thought to herself, how much education should do for these poor little unfortunate things.
They were all fine, strong creatures; and, after the farmer's wife had snipped off a bit of their tails, (to prevent their being overweighted behind,) our hen trotted about the yard with them as proud as could be. She stood on tip-toe, clapped her wings, "cluck-clucked" to them, and began to think that even little ducks might be loved. And she trooped past the pond with an air of conscious pride, as she thought how that dull duck would be convinced at last.
But oh, dear, dear! she stopped, only a minute, to speak to a friend, and on turning again to her charge, what did she see? Why, the whole set of them, like a little fleet, merrily floating on the sunshiny surface of the duck-pond. And as she stood, dancing with impatience, and loudly calling to the rogues to come back, or they would be all drowned, out came their mother, (who knew them in a moment) to laugh at her; and then, tumbling heels over head into the water, she splashed after the young flocks, crying out to the hen, "What an excellent nurse you are! Do venture in
you can't think how much good it will do you!"
The poor hen hung down her head, for they were all laughing at her. Even her own relations were rather pleased than otherwise to see her self-conceit so thoroughly mortified,
And she walked home alone with a sort of half idea in her head, that it was just possible after all that she had been mistaken in thinking that she knew everything, better than everybody else.-M. J.
STREET FINDINGS.-No. VIII.
Ir was a bright autumnal day. The sun shone out in the fulness of its power, gladdening the earth, and maturing its productions. Men, women, and children strayed forth into the country to rejoice in the presence of its beauties, and to revive their wasting healths, by inhaling a balmier and purer air. In the midst of a dense thoroughfare in a smoky city, a gorgeous butterfly winged its way, apparently confounded by strange sights and noises. We can imagine why, at this season, man should be allured from the heat and hum of city life! But who can divine why a butterfly should quit the paradises of flowers and of sweets, to explore the dull abodes of plodding men? Yet one of these, rejoicing in his freedom, entered the great city of London, and fled about its busy streets. A mischievous boy eyed the lovely fly, and raising his cap and chasing it, struck it down, and the cap lay upon it on the ground. Another boy, observing the act, laid hold of the first one, and seemed to struggle to remove the cap, and set the prisoner free. The contest interested the beholder, who believed that the liberty of a captive depended upon the issue. Great was his surprise and regret when he found that the bigger boy, becoming the conqueror, seized the captive and bore it away, evidently destroying its beauty and its form by cruel handling. Had the observer acted with promptitude and decision, he might, instead of merely watching the contest of contending tyrants, have freed the unhappy captive from their grasp. FOUND-That sympathies unexpressed by action are of no avail: good intentions unperformed cannot save even a worm from injury.