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administration of justice in the Middle Ages, when a little judicious bribery of the officers of the law was recognized as a part of the regular course of business. No one who reads the poem often enough to surmount the initial difficulties of language can fail to recognize in it, not a mere happy accident of composition, but a bit of the work of a genuine artist in comedy floated down to us in the wreckage of time. RICHARD ROLLE (p. 14) is one of the most interesting figures in English religious history. His mystical experiences of the love of God entitle him to a place beside St. Catharine of Sienna. As a poet, his technical skill is rather unusual for his time; but curiously enough none of his poetry, though he wrote much, rises to the heights of passionate beauty reached by the best of his Latin prose. His longest and best known poem is The Pricke of Conscience (9544 lines) dealing, in seven parts, with the wretchedness of human nature, the transitoriness of the world, the death of the body, purgatory, doomsday, the pains of hell, and the joys of heaven. Our selection is from the first part, and is a good specimen of his manner when untouched by strong emotion. The author of PEARL (p. 15) and SYR GAwayN AND THE GRENE KNYCHT (p. 18)—if they are really by the same author, as is usually supposed — was not merely a writer of great natural powers but a careful and conscious artist. It is supposed that Gawayn was written while the author was still occupied with worldly thoughts and interests and that Pearl and two (or three) other religious poems were composed after his conversion to a serious religious life, and this is doubtless true if the poems be all the work of one man. Gawayn belongs, of course, to the number of metrical romances dealing with the knights of the Round Table and their adventures, but in one important respect it is very different from most of them. They are as a rule the work of authors who had little qualification for their task beyond a certain ease in narration and versification and a retentive memory. The author of Gawayn, however, does not merely repeat a story which he has heard or read; he uses the materials of tradition as freely as Tennyson or Arnold or Swinburne or any other modern artist, and displays a power of construction, a skill in climax, a sense of pictorial effects, fairly comparable with theirs. All this can be seen in the brief episode here given, which we have chosen not because it is better than many others but because it is self-explanatory. The interest of the reader is maintained unflaggingly throughout the 255o lines of the poem. Pearl (1212 lines), though entirely different in subject and tone and manner, is equally admirable. It seems to give the experience of a father who has lost a beloved little daughter, his “Pearl,” and who, a few years later, falling asleep in his arbor, sees her in a vision, not as the helpless child he has lost, but as a radiant and beautiful young maiden, the Bride of the Lamb, and talks with her about the joys of her heavenly abode. Recently it has been argued with great learning and ingenuity that the poet is a cleric and can have had no child, and that he is merely a man who, being interested in the theological doctrine of grace, not works, as the basis of rewards in heaven, attempted to illustrate and enforce the doctrine by an imaginary case of a baptised child dying in infancy and receiving in heaven rewards equal to those given the greater saints. There can be no doubt that, whether cleric or not, the poet was deeply versed in theology and believed ardently in the doctrine of grace, but no sufficient reason has been adduced for refusing to recognize the genuine personal tone of the poet's grief and love. That the child was not his own is reasonably clear from his remark that she was nearer to him than aunt or niece (line 233), and from the absence of the terms father and daughter in their conversation. But many a man has loved with great devotion a child not his own; Mr. Swinburne's charming poems (see pp. 561 and 562, and the whole series entitled A Dark Month, written when the beloved child was away on a visit) may serve as a notable instance. That the bereaved heart of a lonely man here found consolation in the new and blessed doctrine of grace seems

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