Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

ness; an easy and surprising transition that is to the grouping of individuals, who collectively truly magical. Pope had not so enchanting a represent the age and state of society in which subject in The House of Fame ; yet, with defer- they live. It may be added, that if any age or ence to Warton, that critic has done Pope injus state of society be more favourable than another tice in assimilating his imitations of Chaucer to to the uses of the poet, that in which Chaucer the modern ornaments in Westminster Abbey, lived must have been peculiarly picturesque ;

which impair the solemn effect of the ancient an age in which the differences of rank and pro| building. The many absurd and fantastic par- fession were so strongly distinguished, and in , ticulars in Chaucer's House of Fame will not which the broken masses of society gave out their

suffer us to compare it, as a structure in poetry, | deepest shadows and strongest colouring by the with so noble a pile as Westminster Abbey in morning light of civilisation. An unobtrusive architecture. Much of Chaucer's fantastic mat but sufficient contrast is supported between the ter has been judiciously omitted by Pope, who at characters, as between the demure prioress and the same time has clothed the best ideas of the the genial wife of Bath, the rude and boisterous old poem in spirited numbers and expression.miller and the polished knight, &c. &c. Although Chaucer supposes himself to be snatched up to the object of the journey is religious, it casts no heaven by a large eagle, who addresses him in gloom over the meeting ; and we know that our the name of St. James and the Virgin Mary, Catholic ancestors are justly represented in a and, in order to quiet the poet's fears of being state of high good-humour, on the road to such

carried up to Jupiter, like another Ganymede, solemnities. I or turned into a star like Orion, tells him, that The sociality of the pilgrims is, on the whole,

Jove wishes him to sing of other subjects than agreeably sustained ; but in a journey of thirty love and “ blind Cupido,” and has therefore persons, it would not have been adhering to proordered, that Dan Chaucer should be brought bability to have made the harmony quite uninto behold the House of Fame. In Pope, the terrupted. Accordingly the bad-humour which philosophy of fame comes with much more pro breaks out between the lean friar and the cherubpriety from the poet himself, than from the beak faced sompnour, while it accords with the hostiof a talkative eagle.

lity known to have subsisted between those two It was not until his green old age that Chaucer professions, gives a diverting zest to the satirical put forth, in the Canterbury Tales, the full variety stories which the hypocrite and the libertine level of his genius, and the pathos and romance, as

at each other, well as the playfulness of fiction. In the serious Chaucer's forte is description ; much of his part of those tales he is, in general, more deeply moral reflection is superfluous ; none of his chaindebted to preceding materials, than in the racteristic painting. His men and women are comic stories, which he raised upon slight hints not mere ladies and gentlemen, like those who to the air and spirit of originals. The design of furnish apologies for Boccaccio's stories. They the whole work is after Boccaccio's Decamerone; rise before us minutely traced, profusely varied, but exceedingly improved. The Italian novelist's and strongly discriminated. Their features and ladies and gentlemen who have retired from the casual manners seem to have an amusing concity of Florence, on account of the plague, and gruity with their moral characters. He notices who agree to pass their time in telling stories, minute circumstances as if by chance; but every have neither interest nor variety in their indivi. touch has its effect to our conception so distinctly, dual characters; the time assigned to their con. that we seem to live and travel with his persongress is arbitrary, and it evidently breaks up ages throughout the journey. because the author's stores are exhausted. What an intimate scene of English life in the Chaucer's design, on the other hand, though it fourteenth century do we enjoy in those tales, is left unfinished, has definite boundaries, and beyond what history displays by glimpses, through incidents to keep alive our curiosity, independent the stormy atmosphere of her scenes, or the antiof the tales themselves. At the same time, while quary can discover by the cold light of his

the action of the poem is an event too simple to researches ! Our ancestors are restored to us, li divert the attention altogether from the pilgrims' not as phantoms from the field of battle, or the

stories, the pilgrimage itself is an occasion suffi- scaffold, but in the full enjoyment of their social ciently important to draw together almost all the existence. After four hundred years have closed varieties of existing society, from the knight to the over the mirthful features which formed the artisan, who, agreeably to the old simple manners, living originals of the poet's descriptions, his assemble in the same room of the hostellerie. pages impress the fancy with the momentary The enumeration of those characters in the Pro credence that they are still alive ; as if Time logue forms a scene, full, without confusion ; and had rebuilt his ruins, and were reacting the lost the object of their journey gives a fortuitous air scenes of existence.

TIIE PROLOGUE TO THE CANTERBURY TALES.

WHANNE' that April with his shourès sotea
The droughte of March hath perced to the rote",
And bathed every veine in swiche licour,
Of whiche vertùe engendred is the flour ;
Whan Zephirus eke with his sotè brethe
Enspired hath in every holt and hethe
The tendre croppès, and the yongè sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfè cours yronne",
And smalè foulès maken melodie,
That slepen alle night with open eye,
So priketh hemo nature in hir' corages& ;
Than longen folk to gon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken strangè strondes,
To servèh halweysi couthej in sondry londes ;
And specially, from every shirès ende
Of Englelond, to Canterbury they wendek,
The holy blisful martyr for to seke,
That hem hath holpen, whan that they were sekel.

Befelle, that, in that seson on a day,
In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay,
Redy to wenden on my pilgrimage
To Canterbury with devoute corage,
At night was come into that hostelrie
Wel nine and twenty in a compagnie
Of sondry folk, by aventure yfallem
In felawship, and pilgrimes were they alle,
That toward Canterbury wolden" ride.
The chambres and the stables weren wide,
And wel we weren esed attè beste.

And shortly, whan the sonne was gon to reste,
So hadde I spoken with hem everich ono,
That I was of hir felawship anon,
And made forword erly for to rise,
To take oure way ther as I you devise.

But natheles, while I have time and space,
Or that I forther in this talè pace,
Me thinketh it accordant to reson,
To tellen you alle the condition
Of eche of hem, so as it semed me,
And whiche they weren, and of what degre;
And eke in what araie that they were inne :
And at a knight than wol I firste beginne.

A Knight ther was, and that a worthy man
That fro the time that he firste began
To riden out, he loved Chevalrie,
Trouthe and honour, fredom and curtesie.
Ful worthy was he in his lordès werre,
And therto hadde he ridden, no man ferre',
As wel in Cristendom as in Hethenesse,
And ever honoured for his worthinesse.

At Alisandre he was whan it was wonne.
Ful often time he hadde the bord' begonnes
Aboven allè nations in Pruce.
In Lettowe hadde he reysed' and in Ruce,
No cristen man so ofte of his degre.
In Gernade at the siege eke hadde he be
Of Algesir, and ridden in Belmarie.
At Leyès was he, and at Satalie,
Whan they were wonne ; and in the Gretè see
At many a noble armee hadde he be.
At mortal batailles hadde he ben fiftene,
And foughten for our faith at Tramissène
In listės thries, and ay slain his fo.
This ilkè worthy knight hadde ben alsò
Sometime with the Lord of Palatie,
Agen another hethen in Turkie:
And evermore he hadde a sovereine pris".
And though that he was worthy he was wise,
And of his port as meke as is a mayde.
He never yet no vilanie ne sayde
In alle his lif, unto no manere wight.
He was a veray parfit gentil knight.

But for to tellen you of his araie,
His hors was good, but he ne was not gaie.
Of fustian he wered a gipòn",
Alle besmotredw with his habergeon”,
For he was late ycome fro his viage,
And wentè for to don his pilgrimage.

With him ther was his sone a yongè Squier,
A lover and a lusty bacheler,
With lockès crully as they were laide in presse.
Of twenty yere of age he was I gesse.
Of his stature he was of even lengthe,
And wonderly deliver”, and grete of strengthe.
And he hadde be somtime in chevachie,
In Flaundres, in Artois, and in Picardie,
And borne him wel, as of so litel space,
In hope to stonden in his ladies grace.

Embrouded was he, as it were a mede
Alle ful of fresshè flourès, white and rede.
Singing he was, or floyting' alle the day,
He was as fresshe as is the moneth of May.
Short was his goune, with slevès long and wide.
Well coude he sitte on hors, and fayrè ride.
He condè songès make, and wel endite,
Juste and eke dance, and wel pourtraie and write.
So hote he loved, that by nightertaled
He slep no more than doth the nightingale.

rs Been placed at the head of the table. ! Travelled. u Praise. v Wore a short cassook.

Smutted. * Coat of mail. y Curled

z Nimble. a Horse skirmishing. b Embroidered.

e Playing the flute. d Night-time.

b Root. a Sweet.

c Such.
d Run.

e Them. f Their. & Inclination.

h To keep.

i Holidays. j Known.

k Go.

I Sick m Fallen. n Would. o Every one.

P War. 9 Farther.

Curteis he was, lowly, and servisable,
And carfe before his fader at the table.

A Yeman hadde he, and servantes no mo
At that time, for him lustef to ridè so;
And he was cladde in cote and hode of grene.
A shefe of peacock arwes bright and kene
Under his belt he bare ful thriftily.
Well coude he dresse his takelk yemanly :
His arwesh drouped not with fetheres low.
And in his hond he bare a mighty bowe.

A not-hedi hadde he, with a broune visage.
Of wood-craft coudes he wel alle the usage.
Upon his arme he bare a gaie bracerk,
And by his side a swerd and a bokeler,
And on that other side a gaie daggère,
Harneised wel, and sharpe as point of spere :
A Cristofre on his brest of silver shene.
An horne he bare, the baudrik was of grene,
A forster was he sothely as I gesse.

Ther was alsò a Nonne, a Prioresse,
That of hire smiling was full simple and coy ;
Hire gretest othe n'as but by Seint Eloy ;
And she was cleped! Madame Eglentine.
Ful wel she sange the service devine,
Entuned in hire nose ful swetely ;
And Frenche she spake ful fayre and fetisly”,
After the scole of Stratford attè Bowe,
For Frenche of Paris was to hire unknowe.
At metè was she wel ytaughte withalle ;
She lette no morsel from her lippès fall,
Ne wette hire fingres in hire sauce depe.
Wel coude she carie a morsel, and wel kepe,
Thattè no drope ne fell upon hire brest.
In curtesie was sette ful moche hire lest".
Hire over lippè wiped she so clene,
That in hire cuppè was no ferthing seneo
Of gresè, whan she dronken hadde hire draught.
Ful semely after her mete she raught.
And sikerly she was of grete disport,
And ful plesànt, and amiable of port,
And peineda hire to contrefetens chere
Of court, and ben estatelich of manère,
And to ben holden digne of reverence.

But for to speken of hire conscience,
She was so charitable and so pitous,
She wolde wepe if that she saw a mous
Caughte in a trappe, if it were ded or bledde.
Of smalè houndès hadde she, that she fedde
With rosted flesh, and milk, and wastel brede.
But sore wept she if on of hem were dede,
Or if men smote it with a yerdèt smert",
And all was conscience and tendre herte.

Ful semely hire wimple ypinched was ;
Hire nose tretis"; hire eyen grey as glas ;
Hire mouth ful smale, and therto soft and red ;
But sikerly she hadde a fayre forehed.

e Carved. f It pleased him.
8 Arrow,
h Arrow,

i A round-head.
i Knew

k Armour for the arm.
I Called. m Neatly. n Her pleasure.
• Smallest spot.

1 Took pains.
r To imitate.

& Worthy.

t Stick u Smartly, adv.

Straight.

It was almost a spannè brode I trow
For hardily she was not undergrowe

Ful fetiset was hire cloke, as I wa Of smale corall aboute hire arm she A pair of bedès, gauded all with grei And theron ng a broche of gold fu On whiche was first ywritten a croui And after, Amor vincit omnia. Another Nonne also with hire hadde That was hire chapelleine, and Preer

A Monk ther was, a fayre for the An outrider, that loved venerier ; A manly man, to ben an abbot able. Ful many a deintè hors hadde he in And whan he rode, men might his b. Gingeling in a whistling wind as cler And eke as loude, as doth the chapel Ther as this lord was keeper of the e

The reule of Seint Maure and of S Because that it was olde and somdele This ilkè monk lette oldè thingés pac And held after the newè worlde the 1 He yave? not of the text a pulled her That saith, that hunters ben not holy Ne that a monk, whan he is rekkčles Is like to a fish that is waterles ; This is to say, a monk out of his clois This ilkè text held he not worth an a And I say his opinion was good. What shulde he studie, and make hims Upon a book in cloistre alway to porOr swinken with his hondès, and labAs Austin bitd ? how shal the world Let Austin have his swink to him res Therfore he was a prickasoure a rig Greihoundes he hadde as swift as fou Of pricking and of hunting for the la Was all his lust, for no cost welde he

I saw his sleves purfìled at the ho With griss, and that the finest of the And for to fasten his hood under his He hadde of gold ywrought a curious A love-knotte in the greter end ther His hed was balled, and shone as any And eke his face, as it hadde ben ano He was a lord ful fat and in good pois His eyen stepeb, and rolling in his heThat stemed as a fornëis of led. His botès souple, his hors in gret esta Now certainly he was a fayre prelàt. He was not pale as a forpined gost. A fat swan loved he best of any rost. His palfrey was as broune as is a bery

A Frere ther was, a wanton and a i A Limitour, a ful solempnè man. In all the ordres foure is none that ca

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors][merged small]

P Rose.

i Kne

So muche of daliance and fayre langage.
He hadde ymade ful many a mariage
Of yongè wimmen, at his owen cost.
Until his ordre he was a noble post.
Ful wel beloved, and familier was he
With frankeleins over all in his contrée,
And eke with worthy wimmen of the toun :
For he had power of confession,
As saide himselfè, more than a curat,
For of his ordre he was licenciat.
Ful swetely herde he confession,
And plesant was his absolution.
He was an esy man to give penance,
Ther as he wiste to hani a good pitànce:
For unto a pourek ordre for to give
Is signè that a man is wel yshrivel.
For if he gave, he dorstèm make avant,
He wistè that a man was repentànt.
For many a man so hard is of his herte,
He may not wepe although him soré smerte.
Therfòre in stede of weping and praières,
Men mote give silver to the pourè freres.

His tippet was ay farsed" ful of knives,
And pinnès, for to given fayrè wives.
And certainly he hadde a mery note.
Wel coude he singe and plaien on a roteo.
Of yeddingesP he bare utterly the pris.
His nekke was whitè as the flour de lis.
Therto he strong was as a champioun,
And knew wel the tavèrnes in every toun,
And every hosteler and gay tapstère,
Better than a lazar or a beggère,
For unto swiche a worthy man as he
Accordeth nought, as by his facultè,
To haven' with sike lazars acquaintànce.
It is not honest, it may not avance,
As for to delen with no swiche pouràille',
But all with riche, and sellers of vitàille.

And over all, ther as profit shuld arise, Curteis he was, and lowly of servise. Ther n'as no man no wher so vertuous. He was the beste beggèr in all his hous: And gave a certain fermès for the grant, Non of his bretheren came in his haunt. For though a widewe hadde but a shoo, (So plesant was his in principio) Yet wold he have a ferthing or he went. His pourchaswas wel better than his rent. And rage he coude as it hadde ben a whelp, In lovedayes", ther coude he mochel help. For ther was he nat like a cloisterere, With thredbare cope, as is a poure scolere, But he was like a maister or a pope. Of double worsted was his semicope', That round was as a belle out of the presse. Somwhat he lisped for his wantonnesse,

To make his English swete upon his tonge ;
And in his harping, whan that he hadde songe,
His eyen twinkeled in his hed aright,
As don the sterrès in a frosty night.
This worthy limitour was cleped Hubèrd.

A Marchant was ther with a forked berd,
In mottelee, and highe on hors he sat,
And on his hed a Flaundrish bever hat.
His botès clapsed fayre and fetisly.
His resons spake he ful solempnely,
Souning alway the encrese of his winning.
He wold the see were kept for any thing"
Betwixen Middelburgh and Orewell.
Wel coud he in eschangest sheldèså selle.
This worthy man ful wel his wit besette ;
Ther wistè no wight that he was in dette,
So stedefastly didde he his governance,
With his bargeines, and with his chevisance?
Forsothe he was a worthy man withalle,
But soth to sayn, I n'ot how men him calle.

A Clerk ther was of Oxenforde alsò,
That unto logike haddè long ygo.
As lenè was his hors as is a rake,
And he was not right fat, I undertake ;
But loked holwe, and therto soberly.
Ful thredbare was his overest courtepy",
For he hadde geten him yet no benefice,
Ne was nought worldly to have an officè.
For him was levere han at his beddes hed
A twenty bokes, clothed in black and red,
Of Aristotle, and his philosophie,
Than robès riche, or fidel, or sautrie.
But all be that he was a philosophre,
Yet hadde he but litel gold in cofre,
But all that he might of his frendès hente",
On bokès and on lerning he it spente,
And besily gan for the soulès praie
Of hem, that yave him wherwith to scolaiee.
Of studie toke he mostè cure and hede.
Not a word spake he more than was nede ;
And that was said in forme and reverence,
And short and quike, and ful of high sentence.
Souning in moral vertue was his speche,
And gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche.

A Sergeant of the Lawe ware and wise,
That often hadde yben at the paruiss,
Ther was also, ful riche of excellence.
Discrete he was, and of gret reverence :
He semed swiche, his wordès were so wise,
Justice he was ful often in assise,
By patent, and by pleine commissioun ;
For his science, and for his high renoun,

w Kept, or guarded. The old subsidy of tonnage and poundage was given to the king 'pour la saufgarde et custodie del mer. --Tyrwhitt. * Exchanges.

y Crowns.
z an agreement for borrowing money. a Hollow

b Uppermost cloak of coarse cloth.
c He would rather have.
e Study.

I Wary. & The paruis, or portico before a church-a place frequented by lawyers. The place of the lawyers' paruis in London is assigned to different places by different antiquaries.-Tyrwhitt.

d Get.

j Have.
k Poor.

1 Shriven.
m Durst make a boast.
n Stuffed. • A stringed instrument.
p Story-telling. 9 Have. r Poor people.
& Farm.

t Purchase. v Days appointed for the amicable settlement of differences.

Half cloak.

Of fees and robès had he many on.
So grete a pourchasour was nowher non.
All was fee simple to him in effect,
His pourchasing might not ben in suspecth.
Nowher so besy a man as he ther n'as,
And yet he semed besier than he was.
In termès hadde he casi and domès alle,
That fro the time of king Will. weren falle.
Therto he coude endite, and make a thing,
Ther coudè no wight pinchej et his writing.
And every statute coude he plaine by rote.
He rode but homely in a medleek cote',
Girt with a seintm of silk, with barrès" smale ;
Of his array tell I no lenger tale.

A Frankěleino was in this compagnie ;
White was his berd, as is the dayësiè.
Of his complexïon he was sangùin.
Wel loved he by the morwep a sop ie wino.
To liven in delit was ever his wone,
For he was Epicurès owen sone,
That held opinion, that plein delit
Was veraily felicitè parfitè.
An housholder, and that a grete was he ;
Seint Julian" he was in his contrée.
His brede, his ale, was alway after on ;
A better envyned man was no wher non.
Withouten bake mete never was his hous,
Of fish and flesh, and that so plenteous,
It snewed in his hous of mete and drinke,
Of alle deintees that men coud of thinke,
After the sondry sesons of the yere,
So changed he his mete and his soupère.
Ful many a fat partrich hadde he in mewe",
And many a breme, and many a luce in stewe.
Wo was his coke, but if his sauce were
Poinant and sharpe, and redy all his gere.
His table dormant in his halle alway
Stode redy covered alle the longè day.

At sessions ther was he lord and sire.
Ful often time he was knight of the shire.
An anelacew and a gipcierex all of silk,
Hen at his girdel, white as morwèy milk.
A shereve hadde he ben, and a countoùra.
Was no wher swiche a worthy vavasour".

An Haberdasher, and a Carpenter,
A Webbet, a Deyer, and a Tapiser',
Were alle yclothed in o liverè",
Of a solempne and grete fraternitè.
h Suspicion.

i Cases and decisions.
No one could find a law in his writings
kl Coat of mixed stuff.

m A girdle. * With small stripes.

o A freeholder of considerable estate. P Morning. 9 Wine. r The saint of hospitality,

$ Stored with wine. į It snewed, i. e. there was great abundance. u Secret. * Fixed ready

w knife. x Purse.

y Morning. 2 Mr. Tyrwbitt conjectures, but merely offers, it as a conjecture, that the contour was foreman of the hundred court.

a Vavasour. Of this term Mr. T. is doubtful of the meaning. b A weaver.

C A maker of tapestry.

Ful freshe and rewe hire gere ypikid' Hir knives were ychaped not with bra But all with silver wrought ful clene : Hir girdeles and hir pouches every de Wel semed eche of hem a fayre burge To sitten in a gild halle, on the deis'. Everich, for the wisdom that he can, Was shapelichi for to ben an aldermai For catel hadden they ynough and rei And eke hir wives would it well assen And ellèsk certainly they were to blan It is ful fayre to ben ycleped madàme And for to gon to vigiles all before, And have a mantel reallich' yborem.

A Coke they hadden with hem for t To boile the chikenes and the marie b And poudre marchant, tart and galin Wel coulde he knowe a draught of Lo He couldè roste, and sethe, and broile Maken mortrewèsy, and wel bake a pie But gret harm was it, as it thoughtè n That on his shinne a mormal" hadde h For blanc manger that made he with t

A Shipman was ther, woneds fer by For ought I wote, he was of Dertèmou He rode upon a rouncie', as he couthe, All in a goune of falding to the knee. A dagger hanging by a las" hadde hee About his nekke under his arm adoun. The hote sommer hadde made his hewe And certainly he was a good felaw. Ful many a draught of win he hadde di From Burdeux ward, while that thechapr Of nicè conscience toke he no kepe. If that he faught, and hadde the higher By water he sent hem home to every la But of his craft to reken well his tides, His stremès and his strandès him besidHis herberwe', his mone", and his lode Ther was none swiche, from Hull unto Hardy he was, and wise, I undertake : With many a tempest hadde his berd be He knew wel alle the havens, as they w Fro Gotland, to the Cape de finistere, And every creke in Bretagne and in SpHis barge ycleped was the Magdelaine.

With us ther was a Doctour of PhisilIn all this world ne was ther non him li To speke of phisike, and of surgerie : For he was grounded in astronomie. He kept his patient a ful gret del In hourès by his magike naturel.

do

[merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

d Livery.

« AnteriorContinuar »