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LITTLE is known of Gower's personal history. From his will it appears that he was living in “ The proud tradition in the Marquis of Stafford's 1408. His bequests to several churches and family,” says Mr. Todd“, “ has been, and still hospitals, and his legacy to his wife of 1001., of is, that he was of Stitenham ; and who would all his valuable goods, and of the rents arising not consider the dignity of his genealogy aug from his manors of Southwell in the county of mented, by enrolling among its worthies the Nottingham, and of Multon in the county of moral Gower !"
Suffolk, undeniably prove that he was rich. His effigies in the church of St. Mary Overies One of his three great works, the Speculum is often inaccurately described as having a gar Meditantis, a poem in French, is erroneously land of ivy and roses on the head. It is, in fact, described by Mr. Godwin and others as treating a chaplet of roses, such as, Thynne says, was of conjugal fidelity. In an account of its contents anciently worn by knights; a circumstance which in a MS. in Trinity College, Cambridge, we are is favourable to the suspicion, that has been told that its principal subject is the repentance suggested, of his having been of the rank of of a sinner. The Vox Clamantis, in Latin, relates knighthood. If Thynne's assertion, respecting to the insurrection of the commons, in the reign the time of the lawyers first entering the Temple, of Richard II. The Confessio Amantis, in be correct, it will be difficult to reconcile it with English, is a dialogue between a lover and his the tradition of Gower's having been a student confessor, who is a priest of Venus, and who there in his youth.
explains, by apposite stories, and philosophical By Chaucer's manner of addressing Gower, illustrations all the evil affections of the heart the latter appears to have been the elder. He which impede, or counteract the progress and was attached to Thomas of Woodstock, as success of the tender passion. Chaucer was to John of Gaunt. The two poets His writings exhibit all the crude erudition appear to have been at one time cordial friends, and science of his age ; a knowledge sufficient to but ultimately to have quarrelled. Gower tells have been the fuel of genius, if Gower had posus himself that he was blind in his old age. sessed its fire.
THE TALE OF THE COFFERS OR CASKETS, &c.,
IN THE FIFTH TOOK IF THE “CONFESSIO AMANTIS."
In a cronique thus I rede :
These olde men upon this thing,
And all within his owne entent,
e Saw. * Jewels, or precious stones. Rubbish.
* In Illustrations of Gower and Chaucer by the Rev. J. H. Todd. b Themselves.
So that erlichei upon a day
There shall no man his hap despise :
They knelen all, and with one vois
Whan he had heard the common vois,
This king than in the same stede,
Lo! seith the king, now may ye see
Thus was this wise king excused :
OF THE GRATIFICATION WHICH THE LOVER'S
PASSION RECEIVES FROM THE SENSE OF
IN THE SIXTH BOOK.
Tho 9 toke this knyght a yerd" on honde,
The king, which wolde his honor save,
Right as mine eye with his loke
For thus it is that, over all
k Those. 1 Choose
n At last. o Their. P Lose. 4 Then, T A rod. * Every one.
1 Sayeth to the king. u As their reward.
Ne so far forth restauratif,
And if it so befalle among,
And eke in other wise also,
(Born, 1379. Died, 1461.)
Was born at a place of that name in Suffolk, , is rather a paraphrase than a translation of his about the year 1375. His translation (taken original. He disclaims the idea of writing “ through the medium of Laurence's version) of stile briefe and compendious.” A great story Boccaccio's Fall of Princes, was begun while he compares to a great oak, which is not to be Henry VI. was in France, where that king never attacked with a single stroke, but by “ a long was, but when he went to be crowned at Paris, processe." in 1432. Lydgate was then above threescore. Gray has pointed out beauties in this writer He was a monk of the Benedictine order, at St. which had eluded the research, or the taste, of Edmund's Bury, and in 1423 was elected prior former critics. “I pretend not,” says Gray, of Hatfield Brodhook, but the following year had “ to set him on a level with Chaucer, but he licence to return to his convent again. His con certainly comes the nearest to him of any condition, one would imagine, should have supplied temporary writer I am acquainted with. His him with the necessaries of life, yet he more choice of expression and the smoothness of his than once complains to his patron, Humphry, verse, far surpass both Gower and Occleve. He Duke of Gloucester, of his wants; and he shows wanted not art in raising the more tender emodistinctly in one passage, that he did not dislike tions of the mind.” Of these he gives several a little more wine than his convent allowed him. examples. The finest of these, perhaps, is the He was full thirty years of age when Chaucer following passage, descriptive of maternal agony died, whom he calls his master, and who proba- and tenderness. bly was so in a literal sense. His Fall of Princes
CAXACE, CONDEMNED TO DEATH BY HER FATHER ÆOLUS, SENDS TO HER GUILTY BROTHER
MACAREUS THE LAST TESTIMONY OF HER UNHAPPY PASSION.
BOOK I. FOLIO 39.
Out of her swoone when she did abbraide,
For to remember specially, I praye,
This is mine end, I may it not astarte ; | O brother mine, there is no more to saye; ! Lowly beseeching with mine whole heart
On thee and me dependeth the trespace
Writing her letter, awhapped all in drede,
A mouth he has, but wordis hath he none;
Tue origin of the Lowland Scottish language In support of the opposite system, an assertor, has been a fruitful subject of controversy. Like better known than trusted, namely Pinkerton, the English, it is of Gothic materials; and, at a has maintained, that "there is not a shadow of certain distance of time from the Norman con proof, that the Gaelic language was ever at all quest, is found to contain, as well as its sister | spoken in the Lowlands of Scotland." Yet the dialect of the South, a considerable mixture of author of Caledonia has given not mere shadows French. According to one theory, those Gothic of proof, but very strong grounds, for concluding elements of Scotch existed in the Lowlands, that, in the first place, to the north of the Forth | anterior to the Anglo-Saxon settlements in and Clyde, with the exception of Scandinavian England, among the Picts, a Scandinavian race : settlements admitted to have been made in the subsequent mixture of French words arose Orkney, Caithness, a strip of Sutherland, and from the French connexions of Scotland, and the partially in the Hebrides, a Gothic dialect was settlement of Normans among her people ; and unknown in antient Scotland. Amidst the arguthus, by the Pictish and Saxon dialects meeting, ments to this effect deduced from the topography and an infusion of French being afterwards of the supposed Gothic) Pictland, in which, Mr. superadded, the Scottish language arose, inde Chalmers affirms, that not a Saxon name is to be pendent of modern English, though necessarily found older than the twelfth century; and amidst similar, from the similarity of its materials. Ac the evidences accumulated from the laws, religion, cording to another theory, the Picts were not antiquities, and manners of North Britain, one Goths, but Cambro-British, a Celtic race, like recorded fact appears sufficiently striking. When the Western Scots who subdued and blended the assembled clergy of Scotland met Malcolm with the Picts, under Kenneth Mac Alpine. Of Caenmore and Queen Margaret, the Saxon printhe same Celtic race were al-o the Britons of cess was unable to understand their language. Strathclyde, and the antient people of Galloway. Her husband, who had learnt English, was In Galloway, though the Saxons overran that obliged to be their interpreter. All the clergy peninsula, they are affirmed to have left but little
of Pictland, we are told, were at that time Irish; 1 of their blood, and little of their language. In but among a people with a Gaelic king, and a the ninth century, Galloway was new-peopled by Gaelic clergy, is it conceivable that the Gaelic the Irish Cruithne, and at the end of the eleventh language should not have been commonly spoken! century was universally inhabited by a Gaelic With regard to Galloway, or south-western people. At this latter period, the common lan Scotland, the paucity of Saxon names in that guage of all Scotland, with the exception of peninsula (keeping apart pure or modern English Lothian, and a corner of Caithness, was the ones) are pronounced, by Mr. G. Chalmers, to Gaelic; and in the twelfth century commenced the show the establishments of the Saxons to have progress of the English language into Scotland been few and temporary, and their language to Proper: so that Scotch is only migrated English.
the territory of Scotland in 1020 ; but even in the time
of David I. is spoken of as not a part of Scotland. David a Lothian, now containing the Scottish metropolis,
addresses his “ faithful subjects of all Scotland and of was, after several fluctuations of possession, annexed to
have been thinly scattered, in comparison with Mr. Ellis rests so much importance, is indeed the Celtic. As we turn to the south-east of Scot- disputed ; but Sir Tristrem exhibits an original land, it is inferred from topography, that the romance, composed on the north of the Tweed, Saxons of Lothian never permanently settled to at a time when there is no proof that southern the westward of the Avon ; while the numerous English contained any work of that species of Celtic names which reach as far as the Tweed, fiction, that was not translated from the French. evince that the Gaelic language not nly pre- In the fourteenth century, Barbour celebrated vailed in proper Scotland, but overflowed her the greatest royal hero of his country (Bruce), boundaries, and, like her arms, made inroads on in a versified romance, that is not uninteresting. the Saxon soil.
The next age is prolific in the names of distinMr. Ellis, in discussing this subject, seems to guished Scottish “Makers.” Henry the Minstrel, have been startled by the difficulty of supposing said to have been blind from his birth, rehearsed the language of England to have superseded the the exploits of Wallace in strains of fierce though native Gaelic in Scotland, solely in consequence vulgar fire. James I. of Scotland ; Henrysone, of Saxon migrations to the north, in the reign of the author of Robene and Makyne, the first Malcolm Caenmore. Malcolm undoubtedly mar known pastoral, and one of the best, in a dialect ried a Saxon princess, who brought to Scotland rich with the favours of the pastoral muse ; her relations and domestics. Many Saxons also Douglas, the translator of Virgil ; Dunbar, fled into Scotland from the violences of the Mersar, and others, gave a poetical lustre to Norman conquest. Malcolm gave them an Scotland, in the fifteenth century, and fill up a asylum, and during his incursions into Cumber- space in the annals of British poetry, after the land and Northumberland, carried off so many date of Chaucer and Lydgate, that is otherwise young captives, that English persons were to be nearly barren. James I, had an elegant and seen in every house and village of his dominions, tender vein, and the ludicrous pieces ascribed in the reign of David I. But, on the death of to him possess considerable comic humour. Malcolm, the Saxon followers, both of Edgar Douglas's descriptions of natural scenery are exAtheling and Margaret, were driven away by the tolled by T. Warton, who has given ample and enmity of the Gaelic people. Those expelled | interpreted specimens of them, in his History of Saxons must have been the gentry, while the English Poetry. He was certainly a fond painter captives, since they were seen in a subsequent of nature ; but his imagery is redundant and age, must have been retained, as being servile, or tediously profuse. His chief original work is the vileyns. The fact of the expulsion of Margaret elaborate and quaint allegory of King Hart*. It and Edgar Atheling's followers, is recorded in is full of alliteration, a trick which the Scottish the Saxon Chronicle. It speaks pretty clearly poets might have learnt to avoid from the “ rose for the general Gaelicism of the Scotch at that of rhetours” (as they call him) Chaucer; but in period; and it also prepares us for what is after which they rival the anapæstics of Langland. wards so fully illustrated by the author of Cale Dunbar is a poet of a higher order. His tale
donia, viz. that it was the new dynasty of Scottish of the Friars of Berwick is quite in the spirit of 1 kings, after Malcolm Caenmore, that gave a more Chaucer. His Dance of the Seven Deadly Sins
diffusive course to the peopling of proper Scot-through Hell, though it would be absurd to comland, by Saxon, by Anglo-Norman, and by Flemish pare it with the beauty and refinement of the colonists. In the successive charters of Edgar, celebrated Ode on the Passions, has yet an aniAlexander, and David I. we scarcely see any mated picturesqueness not unlike that of Collins. other witnesses than Saxons, who enjoyed under | The effect of both pieces shows how much more those monarchs all power, and acquired vast potent allegorical figures become by being made possessions in every district of Scotland, settling to fleet suddenly before the imagination, than by with their followers in entire hamlets.
being detained in its view by prolonged descripIf this English origin of Scotch be correct, it tion. Dunbar conjures up the personified Sins, sufficiently accounts for the Scottish poets, in the as Collins does the Passions, to rise, to strike, fifteenth century, speaking of Chaucer, Gower, and disappear. They “come like shadows, so and Lydgate, as their masters and models of depart.”. style, and extolling them as the improvers of a
In the works of those northern makers of the language to which they prefix the word “our," fifteenth centuryt, there is a gay spirit, and an inas if it belonged in common to Scots and English, dication of jovial manners, which forms a conand even sometimes denominating their own lan trast to the covenanting national character of guage English.
* In which the human heart is personified as a SoveYet, in whatever light we are to regard Low reign in his castle, guarded by the five Senses, made land Scotch, whether merely as northern English, captive by Dame Pleasaunce, a neighbouring potentate, or as having a mingled Gothic origin from the
but finally brought back from thraldom by Age and
Experience. Pictish and Anglo-Saxon, its claims to poetical
+ The writings of some of those Scottish poets belong to antiquity are respectable. The extreme anti
the sixteenth century; but from the date of their births quity of the elegy on Alexander III. on which they are placed under the fifteenth.