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Of the rude night that with his boistous wede
Dawening the Day to his kinde resort,
Je vouldray—but grete God disposeth
Cautels who so useth gladly, gloseth;
To eschewe soch it is right high prudence;
What ye sayd ones mine herte opposeth,
That my writing japes in your absence
Plesed you moche better thanne my presence:
Yet can I more; ye be not excusable,
A faithfull herte ever is acceptable.
Quaketh my penne; my spirit supposeth
1 If we read of the daye, instead of a dayes, and whos instead of whan, this stanza will become intelligible. It will then mean, 'As soon as Day rises into his natural place, and your father Phoebus adorns the morning with his rosy beams, consuming the throng of clouds which, were it not for the comfort of Day, whose clear eyes disclose my lady dear to my sight, would overlade true hearts with their mistiness, I would—' The poet here breaks off by an expressive aposiopesis. [For And Phebus read Dan Phebus; and stop at dere.— W.W.S.]
"Til • allusion is to the promises made in the Kew Testament to the Christian grace of faith.
Now hotte, now colde, and efte in fervence:1
Forth compleynt! forth lacking eloquence!
BALLADE SENT TO KING RICHAED.
SOMETYME this worlde was so stedfast and stable.
What make this worlde to be so variable
1 Compare vol. i. p. i37, note 4.
* It appears that even in the fourteenth century there were persons who lamented the degeneracy of modern days, and sighed for a return of the' good old times.'
'That is,' Through the prevalence of bribery and wilfulness.'
But yf he can, by some collusion,
Trowthe is put downe, resoun is holden fable;
Vertu hathe nowe no domination;
Pite exiled, no wight is merciable;
Thorowe covetyse is blente discretion;
The worlde hathe made permutation
From right to wronge, from trowthe to fekylnesse,
That al is lost for lacke of stedfastnesse.
O Prince desire to be honourable;
THE COMPLEYNTE OF CHAUCER TO HIS PURSE.'
TO yow my purse and to noon other wighte
1 That is, 'Suffer not anything prejudicial to thine estate to he Jotie,' &c.
2 The Harl. MS., 7333, reads, drive thi peple; the reading in the text, which is much better, is from Fairfax MS. 16".
3 In the Harl. MS. 7333, this little poem is called A Supplication to King Richard, by Chaucer, but the Envoy manifestly applies to Henry IV. If, therefore, it be really Chaucer's, it must have been written in the last year of his life, just after the accession of his patron's sqn, when we know he was in difficulties.—See Life, vol. i. p. 3o.
For, certes yf ye make me hevy chere,
Now voucheth sauf this day, or hyt be nyghte,
Now, purse! that ben to me my lyves lyghte,
And saveour as doune in this worlde here,
Oute of this toune helpe me thurgh your myghte,
Syn that you wole not bene my tresorere;
For I am shave as nye as is a frere.1
But I pray unto your curtesye,
Bethe hevy ayeyne, or elles moote I dye!
L'envoy DE CHAUCER.
O conquerour of Brutes Albyon,"
1 That is, 'I am as bare of money as the tonsure of a friar is of hair,'—a very ludicrous simile.
2 In Geoffrey of Monmouth's History, which professes to be translated from an ancient British original, the British are said to be descended from the fugitive Trojans, who, under a chief of the name of Brutus, took refuge in this island. From this Brutus the line of British kings is traced to Cadwallader, who flourished in the seventh century after Christ. The Poet here calls England Brutes Albyon, or Brutus' Albion, as being its most ancient and honourable title.
3 In Henry IV.'s proclamation to the people of England he founds his title on conquest, hereditary right, and election; and from this inconsistent and absurd document Chaucer no doubt took his cue.
GOOD COUNSEIL OF CHAUCER.1
"|?LE fro the pres and dwel with sothfastnesse;
Tempest4 the nought al croked to redresse,
That the is sent, receyve in buxhumnesse;
Know thi contre, loke up, thonk God of al.
1 [Besides the copy In Add. MSS. 10,340 from which this version is taken, there is another in the Cottonian collection, and a third in the Cambridge Library which give some variations. The poem is said to have been made by Chaucer 'upon his death-bed, lying in his anguish.']
2 [Wealth, above all things, blinds (people).]
* [Taste what is pleasant.]
« [Cambr. MS. reads Peyne.] » [I.e. Fortune.]
« [Cott. MS. reads Grete rest. Cambr. MS. Fore gret retQ
* [I.e. an awl. Cott MS. reads an nolle, which means the same thing.]
* [A metaphor akin to the table of the brazen and earthen pots.] » [Subdue or control.]
1° [Demands, or must expect]
<1 [Cott. MS. reads Weyve thy lu»t, l.e., set aside carnal appetites. Gott is spirit.]