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the following Christmas he took the lease of a house at Westminster, near the spot where the magnificent chapel of Henry VII. now stands. Here he died, October 25, 1400, leaving two sons, one of whom became Speaker of the House of Commons.
On his death-bed Chaucer is said to have been filled with remorse at the thought that some of his writings had an immoral tendency. “Wo is me, that I cannot recall and annul these things! But, alas, they are continued from man to man, and I cannot do what I desire!” His last composition is said to have closed with the following stanza, in which the wisdom of threescore and ten years speaks with the voice of the dying man:
That thee is sent, receive in buxomness; *
And Truth shall thee deliver; it is no drede! The chief characteristics of his writings are common sense, a kcon observation, a sportive and even comic fancy, a genial and overflowing humor, deep tenderness, and an exquisite sensibility to the beauties of nature ; in a word, all the wisdom, shrewdness, naïveté, mirthfulness, patlios, and delicacy, that could well be combined in a polished old gentleman.
Besides Troilus and Creseide (8,246 lines), The Assembly of Fowls (686 lines), House of Fame (2,190 lines), Legend of Good Women (2,722 lines), The Book of the Duchess (1,334 lines), and several minor pieces, he wrote the
CANTERBURY TALES (17,368 lines). On the 29th of December, 1170, the famous archbishop Thomas à Becket was murdered before the altar in the Cathedral at Canterbury (58 miles E. S. E. of London). Canonized within three years after his death and placed high on the roll of saints, it became an act of exceedingly meritorious piety to make a pilgrimage to his shirine. We will let Chaucer speak for himself on this subject : See Appendix I.
When that Aprille, with his showers swoote,t
And specially from every shires end
* Buxomness, meekness.- Weyve, waive, put away.--It is no drede, there is no reason to fear.-Aprille. Trisyl.—+Swoote, sweet. Dissyl. -Swich, such.--Licour, liquor. Acc. 2d syl. --Eke, also. Dissyl.--Swete, sweet. Dissyl.--Croppes, crops. Dissyl.--Younge. Dissyl. Ram. The constellation Aries, into which the sun enters about March 21.--Halfe. Dissyl.Yrun, run.-Smalle. Dissyl.--Fowles. Dissyl.--Courages, lart, spirit. Acc. 2d syl.
Befell that, in that season on a day,
These pilgrims agree to journey together; and, to beguile the way, each is to tell tales both in going and in returning. Whoever shall relate the best is to have a supper at the others' expense, the fat, jolly landlord of the Tabard Inn, Harry Bailey, to be the judge. This plan would have required one hundred and twenty stories, but only twenty-four are recorded.
The description of the different pilgrims, who represent almost all ranks in life, except the highest and the lowest, forms a matchless picture-gallery. Most of the tales are deeply interesting.
One of the best is The Clerk's (or Student's) Tale, which we have given entire. The substance of it existed before the time of Chaucer, in Latin and in Italian. It was dramatized and acted on the stage in France and Germany. It is found also, substantially, in Roberts' edition of Old English and Scotch Ballaus. It was played on the Eng. lish stage in the reign of Henry VIII. (1509–1547), and another dramatized version of it was made and acted in the London theatres in the time of Shakespeare.
Except in the last six stanzas, I have taken the liberty to modernize the spelling wherever it would not change the propunciation of the word, outlandish orthography being no more essential to old English poetry than to modern wit. See Appenulix I.
It will materially assist, in reading Chaucer's verses, to observe the following general rules :
1. Pronounce, as a separate syllable, final e before a consonant; the final es in the plural; final es in the possessive singular; and al in the past tense and participle.
2. Accent as in the original French the words that come from the Latin through that language. See Appendix II.
The verse is called English Ileroic, consisting of ten syllables, making five feet; every second syllable being accented. It had been used before in Italian and in French poetry, but perhaps not in English.
Each foot is regularly an iambus ; that is, it consists of a short or unaccented syllable followed by a long or accented one. But two short syllables are often used instead of one, making the foot an anapest.
For some account of the life and works of Chaucer, the reader is referred to Thomas Wright's edition of the Canterbury Tales ; Godwin's Life of Chaucer ; Charles Cowden Clarke's Life of Chaucer; Tyrwhitt's Chaucer's Works, Taine's History of English Literature ; Craik’s English Literature and Language ; Corson's edition of the Legend of Good Women ; March's Study of the English Language ; and Lowell's admirable essay on
* Tabard, the Tabard Inn. It is said to have been opposite the spot where Spurgeon's Tabernacle now stands.--Wenden, wend.--Aventure, adventure, chance. - Yfall, fallen, happening.---Eased, made at ease, accommodated. Dissyl.--At the best, or, as some manuscripts read, atte best, i. e., in the best manner.
Chaucer in My Study Windows. See also Arnold's, Collier's, Shaw's, Cleveland's, Spalding's, Chambers', Angus's works on English Literature; Allibone's Dictionary of Authors; The Encyclopedia Britannica, and New American Cyclopedia; Home Pictures of English Poets, etc. Let the student cull from these and other sources additional facts in regard to Chaucer.
THE CLERK'S TALE. (See Appendix II.)
Down at the root of Vesulus the cold,
And Saluces this noble country hight.
As were his worthy elders him before;
Both of his lordes and of his commune.
The gentilest yborn of Lombardy,
* Itaille (0. Fr. from Lat. Italia), Italy, Accent the word on 2d syl.–Vesulus, now Monte Viso, about 13,000 feet high, one of the Alps on the boundary between Italy and France, and forty miles S. W. of Turin.-Lusty (A. S. lust, lyst, vigor; Dan, and Ice. lyst, fr. Ice. liosta, to strike), fruitful.–Vitaille (0. Fr. for victuaille, fr. Lat. victualia, fr. victus, nourishment, fr. vivere, victum, to live), food.-There, where. A. S. thar. This demonstrative came to be used as a relative, just as the word that is still used.- Delitable (Lat, delectabilis, fr. delectare, to delight), delightful.-Saluces, Saluzzo, formerly the name of a region, now & city in Piedmont. Trisyl.Hight (A. S. hátan, to call, name; be called; Ger. heiszen), is called. So Byron, “Childe Harold was he hight."—Whilom (A. S. hwilom, old dat. plu. of hwil, time; Ger. weile), formerly.Obeisant (Fr. obeissant, fr. obéir, to obey; Lat. obeilire, fr. ob, to, and audire, to give ear, perhaps akin to Lat. auris and Eng. ear), obedient. Lieges (either fr. Lat. ligare, to bind, denoting one bound by a feudal tenure, as a vassal to his lord; or fr. Ger. ledig, free, i, e., denoting one free fr. all obligation to others, being bound to one aloue), liegemen, vassals.- Bothe (A. S. bů, both, två, two; akin to Lat. ambo, Gr. duów ?). Dissyl.--Yore (A. S. geára, formerly, grár, gér, a year; or fr. A. S. geo, of old, and ær, before), for a long time.--Drad (A. S. drrdan, to fear), dreaded, revered.-Lordes (Semi-Sax, plu. fr. A. S. hlaford, a bread-keeper, fr. hlaf, bread, and weardian, to ward or guard), lords, nobles. Dissyl.-Commune (Lat. communis, common, ordinary; perhaps allied to Ger. gemein), common people.-Speaken (0. En. infin., like hearken).-Gentilest (Lat. gentilis, fr. gens, a clan or race), most noble in rank. See gentilesse and note thereon, stanza 6. -Yborn (A. $. ge-, akin to Lat. co-, Ger. ge-, a particle often prefixed to A. S. verbs, and be. coming, in 0. Eng., y-). The student should test the accuracy of all these notes. Let him make free use of lexicons, cyclopediag, histories, classical dictionaries, etc. The sooner the habit of thorough and original investigation is formed, the better.
There is . . . . the west side. Th, when sonant as in there, has a demonstrative force; e. g., that, then, this, there; the. Give other examples of this.
A fair person* and strong and young
I blame him thus, that he considered nought
Only that point his people bare so sore,
“O noble Marquis, your humanity
* Person (Fr. personne, fr. Lat. persona, a mask, fr. personare, to sound through). Acc. 20 gyl.-Gie, guide.—Thinges (0. Semi-Sax. plu.). Dissyl.-Younge (A. S. géong; Ger. jung; allied to Lat. juvenis). Dissyl.-Lordes. Dissyl. The A. S. pos. termination of many nouns in the sing. was •l8, -is, or -78. The e, i, or y, of this ending, was afterwards omitted by syncope, and the apostrophe took its place. Hence the mode of forming the possessive case in Eng.--Time. Dissyl.-Lust (A. S. lystan, to desire), pleasure, wish.-Present. Acc. 2d syl.- Hawk, to attempt to catch birds with hawks trained for the purpose, & favorite amusement of the 0. Eng. nobility.-Cures (Lat. cura, care, fr. quæro, I seek, inquire), cares. Dissyl.-Eke (A. S. eocan, to add to; cac, also; MC80-Goth. auk, allied to Lat. ac, and, or to augere, to increase), aiso.-N'old (A. S. nillan, to be unwilling; Lat. nolle), was unwilling to.---Wedden (Semi-Sax. and 0. E. infin.), wed.-No wife. Observe the use of a double negative for emphasis.--Flockmel, in flocks.-Lore (A. S. lîr, fr. læran ; Ger. lehren, to teach).-Elles (A. S. elles ; pos, or genitive of the root of Gr. odlos, Lat. alius, other), else. Dissyl.-Matier (0. Fr. fr. Lat. materia), matter.-Giveth. Monosyl.-Hardiness, boldness.--Accepteth (the imperative plu. in A. S. is written with the ending dh; in Early Eng., th), accept. The plu. is politely used for the sing.--Gentilesse (Lat. gentilis, fr. gens, race, stock, family, with a sense of noble or respectable, as we say a man of birth or family; whence genteel), complaisance, gentleness.Piteous, sorrowful.--Plain, complain. Obs., except in poetry.-Eares (A. S. eare; Lat, auris; Gr. oùs ; Ger. ohr, ear), ears. Dissyl.-Voice (Gr. ö ¥; Lat. voz, voice; 0. Fr. vois ; Fr. roir).Disdain (Lat. dis, asunder, apart, not; dignari, to deem worthy; 0. Fr. desdaigner, to deem unworthy; Fr. dédaigner, to disdain).
Well nigh all other cures let he slide. Si, as in slide, slip, slime, sly, sleight, slink, slow, (like gl.) denotes smoothness or silent motion. Other examples ?
7. " And have I nought to don * in this matier
More than another man hath in this place;
And ye, my Lord, to don right as you lest.
And all your work, and ever hath done, that we
Then were your people in sovereign hertes rest.
Of sovereignety and not service,
Aye fleeth the time; it will no man abide.
In creepeth age alway as still as stone:
* Don (A. 8. dón), do.-Ye (A. S. ge), you.-Showed. Dissyl.---Favor. Acc. 2d syl.Showen (Semi-Sax. and Early Eng.), show.-Lest (A. S. lystan, lustan, incline, desire), list, please.--Certes (Lat. certus, sure; Fr. certes), certainly.-Us (dative, i. e. case of indirect object, after liketh).---Liketh (plu.; you and work being the subject nominative), please. Us liketh = are pleasing to 18.-Ne.... not. The donble negative for emphasis.-Couthen (0. plu. past tense of A. S. cunnan, to know, ic can, I know; Ger. können, to know; akin to Lat. goscere, noscere, Gr. yiyokw, to know), knew, were able to.-Lest, incline, please. See st. 7.-Hertes (Lat. cor, cordis; Gr. Kapdía, amp; Ger. herz), heart's.-Boweth, bow. Imperative.- Which that, which.- Clepen (A. S. clepan), call.--Thinketh. Imperative.-Wise. A. S. wis; Ger. weise ; akin to wit; A. S. witan, to know; Ger. wissen ; Sans, wid, to know; Lat. vid-ere, to separate by the eye, Gr. o-18-a).-Sundry wise (A. S. synderig, separate, fr. sundler, to separate. Hence sundry=several).-Wise (A. S. wisian, to direct; Ger, weise, mode, manner), ways.-Aye (A. 8. a, awa; Lat. ævum, an age; Gr. áei, ever), ever.-Still as stone='stone still.'- Menaceth, Acc. 2d syl.-Smit (A. 8. smitan; Ger. schmeiszen, to smite. Hence smith, one “ that smootheth with the hammer"), siniteth.-None. A. S. nin, fr. ne, not; in one. Compare with this the Latin nemo, no one, fr. ne, not, homo, man.
And though your greene youthe flower as yet. Fi and bl, as in Lat. fo, flare, flos, Moreo, Gr. $dóos, Ger. blühen, Blüthe, blume, blähen, blasen; Eng. flower, flourish, bloom, blossom, blow, blaze, blast, blister, denotes a blowing or blooming; also ft denotes a flowing, as in Gr. 64€w, oliw, Adów ; Lat. fluo; Ger. fliessen, fluth. Eng. flow, flood, Lat. flere. Let the student exercise bis ingenuity in collecting other examples to illustrate these phonetic principles. Let him also carefully verify or disprove the statements in the foot-notes.