صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني
[blocks in formation]

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.

[ocr errors]



In a cronique thus I rede :
Aboute a king, as must nede,
Ther was of knyghtès and squiers
Gret route, and eke of officers :
Some of long time him hadden served,
And thoughten that they haue deserved,
Avancement, and gon withoute :
And some also ben of the route,
That comen but a while agon,
And they avanced were anon.

These olde men upon this thing,
So as they durst, ageyne the king
Among hemself b compleignen ofte :
But there is nothing said so softe,
That it ne comith out at laste :
The king it wiste, and als so faste,
As he which was of high prudence :
He shope therefore an evidence
Of hem that pleignen in the cas
To knowe in whose defalte it was:

And all within his owne entent,
That non ma wistè what it ment.
Anon he let two cofres make,
Of one semblance, and of one make,
So lich“, that no lif thilke throwe,
That one may fro that other knowe :
They were into his chamber brought,
But no man wot why they be wrought,
And natheles the king hath bede
That they be set in privy stede,
As he that was of wisdom slih ;
Whan he therto his time sih,
All privěly that none it wiste,
His ownè hondes that one chiste
Of fin gold, and of fin perie',
The which out of his tresorie
Was take, anon he fild full;
That other cofre of straw and mulls
With stones meyndh he fild also :
Thus be they full bothè two.

e Saw. * Jewels, or precious stones. Rubbish.

h Mingled.

[ocr errors]

d Like.

* In Illustrations of Gower and Chaucer by the Rev. J. H. Todd. b Themselves.

c Them.


[ocr errors]

So that erlichei upon a day
He had within, where he lay,
Ther should be tofore his bed
A bord up set and faire spred :
And than he let the cofres fettej
Upon the bord, and did hem sette.
He knewe the names well of thok,
The whiche agein him grutched so,
Both of his chambre, and of his halle,
Anon and sent for hem alle ;
And seide to hem in this wise.

There shall no man his hap despise :
I wot well ye have longe served,
And god wot what ye have deserved ;
But if it is along on me
Of that ye unavanced be,
Or elles if it belong on yow,
The sothè shall be proved now :
To stoppè with your evil word,
Lo! here two cofres on the bord ;
Chese which you list of bothè two ;
And witеth well that one of tho
Is with tresor so full begon,
That if he happé therupon
Ye shall be richè men for ever :
Now chesel and take which you is lever,
But be well ware ere that ye take,
For of that one I undertake
Ther is no maner good therein,
Wherof ye mighten profit winne.
Now gothm together of one assent,
And taketh your avisement;
For but I you this day avance,
It stant upon your owne chance,
Al only in defalte of grace ;
So shall be shewed in this place
Upon you all well afyn",
That no defaltè shal be myn.

They knelen all, and with one vois
The king they thonken of this chois :
And after that they up arise,
And gon aside and hem avise,
And at lastè they accorde
(Wherof hero tale to recorde
To what issue they be falle)
A knyght shall spekè for hem alle :
He kneleth doun unto the king,
And seith that they upon this thing,
Or for to winne, or for to lese P,
Ben all avised for to chese,


Whan he had heard the common vois,
Hath granted hem her owne chois,
And toke hem therupon the keie ;
But for he woldè it were seier
What good they have as they suppose,
He bad anon the cofre unclose,
Which was fulfild with straw and stones :
Thus be they served all at ones.

This king than in the same stede,
Anon that other cofre undede,
Where as they sihen gret richesse,
Wel more than they couthen gesse.

Lo! seith the king, now may ye see
That ther is no defalte in me;
Forthy" my self I wol acquite,
And bereth he your owne witer
Of that, fortune hath you refused.

Thus was this wise king excused :
And they lefte her evil speche,
And mercy of her king beseche.




Tho 9 toke this knyght a yerd" on honde,
And goth there as the cofres stonde,
And with assent of everychones
He leith his yerde upon one,
And seith the king how thilke same
They chese in reguerdon" by name,
And preith him that they might it have.

The king, which wolde his honor save,

Right as mine eye with his loke
Is to myn herte a lusty cooke
Of lovès foodè delicate ;
Right so myn eare in his estate,
Wher as myn eye may nought serve,
Can wel myn hertès thonk ? deserve;
And feden him, fro day to day,
With such deynties as he may.

For thus it is that, over all
Wher as I come in speciall,
I may heare of my lady price:
I heare one say that she is wise ;
Another saith that she is good ;
And, some men sain, of worthy blood
That she is come; and is also
So fair that no wher is none so:
And some men praise hir goodly chere.
Thus every thing that I may heare,
Which souneth to my lady goode,
Is to myn eare a lusty foode.
And eke myn eare hath, over this,
A deyntie feste whan so is
That I may heare hirselvè speke ;
For than anon my fast I breke
On suché wordes as she saith,
That ful of trouth and ful of faith
They ben, and of so good disport,
That to myn eare great comfort
They don, as they that ben delices
For all the meates, and all the spices,
That any Lombard couthè make,
Ne be so lusty for to take,

i Early
j Fetched.

k Those. 1 Choose

m Go.

n At last. o Their. P Lose. 4 Then, T A rod. * Every one.

1 Sayeth to the king. u As their reward.

v Seen

w Therefore.
y i. e. that which, 2 Thank.

* Blame.

A Praise.

Ne so far forth restauratif,
(I say as for myn owne lif,)
As ben the wordès of hir mouth.
For as the windes of the South
Ben most of alle debonaire;
So, whan her list to spekė faire,
The vertue of hir goodly speche
Is verily myn hertes leche.

And if it so befalle among,
That she carol upon a song,
Whan I it hear, I am so fedd,
That I am fro miself so ledd
As though I were in Paradis;
For, certes, as to myn avis,
Whan I heare of her voice the steven,
Me thinketh it is a blisse of heven.

And eke in other wise also,
Full oftè time it falleth so,
Myn care with a good pitànce
Is fedd of reding of romance
Of Ydoine and of Amadas,
That whilom weren in my cas ;
And eke of other many a score,
That loveden • long ere I was bore .
For whan I of her loves rede,
Myn earė with the tale I fede,
And with the lust of her histoire
Sometime I draw into memoire,
How sorrow may not ever last ;
And so hope cometh in at last.

[blocks in formation]


(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




Out of her swoone when she did abbraide,
knowing no mean but death in her distresse,
To her brother full piteouslie she said,
“ Cause of my sorrowe, roote of my heavinesse,
That whilom were the sourse of my gladnèsse,
When both our joyes by wille were so disposed,
Under one key our hearts to be enclosed.

For to remember specially, I praye,
If it befall my littel sonne to dye,
That thou mayst after some mind on us have,
Suffer us both be buried in one grave.
I hold him strictly twene my armes twein,
Thou and Natùre laidè on me this charge;
He, guiltlesse, mustè with me suffer paine,
And, sith thou art at freedom and at large,
Let kindnesse ourè love not so discharge,
But have a minde, wherever that thou be,
Once on a day upon my child and me.

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
Touching our guilt and our great offence,
But, welaway! most àngelik of face
Our childė, young in his pure innocence,
Shall agayn right suffer death's violence,
Tender of limbes, God wote, full guiltělesse
The goodly faire, that lieth here speechless.

[ocr errors]

Writing her letter, awhapped all in drede,
In her right hand her pen ygan to quake,
And a sharp sword to make her heartè blede,
In her left hand her father hath her take,
And most her sorrowe was for her childes sake,
Upon whose face in her barıne sleepynge
Full many a tere she wept in complăyning.
After all this so as she stoode and quoke,
Her child beholding mid of her peines smart,
Without abode the sharpè sword she tooke,
And rove herselfè even to the hearte;
Her childe fell down, which mightè not astert,
Having no help to succour him nor save,
But in her blood theselfe began to bathe.

A mouth he has, but wordis hath he none;
Cannot complaine alas ! for none outrage :
Nor grutcheth not, but lies here all alone
Still as a lambe, most meke of his visage.
What heart of stèle could do to him damage,
Or suffer him dye, beholding the manère
And looke benigne of his twein eyen clere.-


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.


« السابقةمتابعة »