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O goode God! how gentle and how kind
The day that maked was our marriage!' Find, who will, a finer burst of natural feeling than is expressed in the closing verses. When Troïlus is bereft of Creseide by her departure for the Grecian camp, the universe is absorbed in the one idea of his love:
And every night, as was his wont to do,
I shall be glad -- if all the world be true." !
match it who can! Yet Chaucer is not one of the great classics whose imaginations revel equally in regions of mirth, beauty, and grandeur. He wants their high seriousness, which detecting the divine sig. nificance of things, breathes the aspiration for something purer and lovelier, more thrilling and powerful, than real life affords, and with its prophetic vision helps faith to lay hold on the future life. He loves the fresh green of the panting spring, but has little sympathy with the sear and yellow of the mystical autumn, His love of nature is a simple, unreflective, childlike love:
• He listeneth to the lark,
Then uriteth in a book like any clerk.' Nature is not to him, as it is to the highest, a symbol translucent with the light of the moral and spiritual world. He lacks the faculty of true naturalistic interpretation. He has never heard
"The voice mysterious, which whoso hears
Must think on what will be, and what has been.' Character. - A man of letters and of action, trained in books, war, courts, business, travel. A poet and a logician, a student and an observer, a linguist and a politician, a courtier of opulent tastes and a philosopher who surveyed mankind in their widest sphere. He was a hard worker. By his own confession, reading was his chief delight. The eagle that carries him into the empyrean, says:
Thou goest home to thine house anone,
Happy among books, he was happy among men. Scorning only hypocrisy, he loved many-colored life,- its weakness and its strength, its delicacy and its force, its laughter and its tears. Modest, glad, and tender. Never were lovers more genuine, untainted and adoring, than his. Troïlus and Creseide speak with hearts of primeval innocence. He had indeed said, perhaps in a momentary scepticism or irritation, of the courtly class whose stability seemed to lie in perpetual change:
• What man ymay the wind restrain,
[inconstancy Save women, that can gie their sail
(guide To row their boat with doubleness?' Yet for woman he had a true and chivalrous regard. It was with the avowed purpose of rendering homage to the beauty of pure womanhood that he wrote the legend
"Of goode women, maidenes, and wives,
That weren true in loving all their lives.' His emblem of womanly truth and purity was the daisy, with its head of gold and crown of white. And how he loves it!
"So glad am I, when that I have presence
And ever shall, till that mine herte die.' I know of nothing like it, - this man of the world, of ceremonies and cavalcades, conversant with high and low, with gallant knights and bedizened ladies, far-travelled, tempest-tossed, and time-worn, turning from the gorgeous imagery that filled his vision to find revel and solace in the open-air world, and dwelling with the glad, sweet abandon of a child, on the springing flowers, the green fields, the budding woods, the singing of the little birds:
"So loud they sang, that all the woodes rung
Right as her heart for love would burst.' Or the beauty of the morning. Were never sun-risings so exhilarating as his:
* The busy larke, messager of day
The silver dropes hongying on the leeves.' Sensitive to every change of feeling in himself and others, his sympathies were as large as the nature of man. aristocrats, he thought that good desires and 'gentil dedes' were the only aristocracy.
Brave in misfortune. Troubled he was, but no trouble could extort from him a fretful note. He easily shirks the burden, and sings to his empty purse:
"To yon my purse, and to none other wight,
Be heavy again, or elles must I die.'
Less sportive, he would have been less vulgar. Some of his pages are stained, but the blemishes are not of evil intent, and are rather to be imputed to the age. Our minds are tinged with the color of custom. Refinement preserves public decency, want of it permits the grossest violations. Having fixed upon his personage, Chaucer, as he himself pleads, had to adjust the tale to the teller. However,
•Who list not to hear, Turn over the leaf, and choose another tale!' His sympathies are with virtue. For subjects obscene and disgustful, as such, he has no taste. It is not the filth he enjoys, but
He was pro
the fun. Of two unnatural selections by the 'moral Gower,' he cries:
or all such cursed stones I say, Fy!' He is a moralist, but a happy and humorous one; of an ethical temper, too indolent to make a reformer in the sense in which the fiery Langland or the stern Wycliffe was one. gressive without being revolutionary.
Influence. He rescued the native tongue from Babylonish confusion, and established a literary diction, banishing from Anglo-Saxon the superannuated and uncouth, and softening its churlish nature by the intermixture of words of Romance fancy.
He created, or introduced a new versification; exemplified the principle of syllabical regularity, which is now the law and the practice of our poetry; and by the superior correctness, grace, elevation, and harmony of his style, became the first model to succeeding writers.
He delineated English society with a pictorial force that makes us familiar with the domestic habits and modes of thinking of a most interesting and important period.
He is an unfailing fount of joy and strength, to revive the relish of simple pleasures, to bring back the freshness that warmed the springtime of our being, to refine youthful love, to make us esteem better the gentle and noble, and to feel more kindly towards the rude and base. Our market-places will be grass-grown, the hum of our industry will be stilled, but the ages will carry, as on the odoriferous wings of gentle gales, the sweet strains of
* That noble Chaucer, in those former times,
A brilliant son enlivens the face of nature with an unusual lustre; the sudden appearance of cloudless skies, and the unexpected warmth of a tepid atmosphere, after the gloom and inclemencies of a tedious winter, fill our hearts with the visionary prog. pects of a speedy summer; and we fondly anticipate a long continaance of gentle gales and vernal serenity. But winter returns with redoubled horrors; the clouds condense more formidably than before; and those tender buds, and early blossoms, which were called forth by the transient gleam of a temporary sunshine, are nipped by frost and torn by tempests.-Warton.
Politics. After two and a half centuries of majestic rule, the dominion of the Plantagenets' proper passed away forever; and the House of Lancaster, in the person of Henry IV, was raised to the throne by a Parliamentary revolution. He bought the support of the Church by the promise of religious persecution, and that of the nobles by a renewal of the fatal French war. Henry V continued and almost realized the dream of an English empire in France, and his widow, contracting a second marriage with Owen Tudor, descendant of the Welsh princes, became the ancestress of another proud line of English sovereigns. The career of Henry VI was one of disaster in almost every variety, -factional strife at home, and calamity abroad. The Hundred Years' War ended, happily for mankind, with the expulsion of the English from French soil.
Revolts of the populace were followed by a long and deadly struggle for supremacy between the parties of the red rose and the white, headed by two branches of the Plantagenet dynasty,- the Lancastrians and the Yorkists. After the violent crimes and excesses of Edward IV and Richard III, of the House of York -- the one a despot and a sensualist, the other a usurper and a monster — when the illus
The heads of the line were Geoffrey of Anjou and Maud, daughter of Henry I of England. The name is derived from Planta Genista, Latin for the shrub which was worn is an emblem of humility by the first Earl of Anjou when a pilgrim of Holy Land. From this his successors took their crest and their surname.