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be taken from this tale told by the Clerk, the exquisite tale of Griselda. Her husband has carried his trial of her submission and endurance to the last point by informing her that she must return to her father, and that his new wife is "coming by the way:"

1 Worthy. 5 Have. 9 Mate.

And she again answerd in patience:

My lord, quod she, I wot, and wist alway,
How that betwixen your magnificence
And my povert no wight ne can ne may
Maken comparison: it is no nay:

I ne held me never digne1 in no manere
To be your wife, ne yet your chamberere.?
And in this house there ye me lady made
(The highe God take I for my witness,
And all so wisly 4 he my soule glade)
I never held me lady ne maistress,
But humble servant to your worthiness,
And ever shall, while that my life may dure,
Aboven every worldly creature.

That ye so long, of your benignity,
Han holden me in honour and nobley,"
Whereas I was not worthy for to be,
That thank I God and you, to whom I pray
Foryeld it you: there is no more to say.
Unto my fader gladly wol I wend,
And with him dwell unto my lives end.

God shielde swich a lordes wife to take
Another man to husband or to make."
And of your newe wife God of his grace
So grant you weale and prosperity;
For I wol gladly yielden her my place,
In which that I was blissful wont to be:
For, sith it liketh you, my lord, quod she,
That whilome weren all my heartes rest,
That I shall gon, I wol go where you list.
But, thereas 10 ye me profer swich dowair"
As I first brought, it is well in my mind
It were my wretched clothes, nothing fair,
The which to me were hard now for to find.
O goode God! how gentle and how kind
Ye seemed by your speech and your visage
The day that maked was our marriage!

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But sooth is said, algate1 I find it true,
For in effect it preved 2 is on me,
Love is not old as when that it is new.
But certes, Lord, for non adversity
To dien in this case, it shall not be
That ever in word or werk I shall repent
That I you yave mine heart in whole intent.

My lord, ye wot that in my fader's place
Ye did me strip out of my poore weed,
And richely ye clad me of your grace:
To you brought I nought elles, out of drede,
But faith, and nakedness, and maidenhede:
And here again your clothing I restore,
And eke your wedding ring, for evermore.

The remnant of your jewels ready be
Within your chamber, I dare it safely sayn.
Naked out of my fader's house, quod she,
I came, and naked I mote turn again.
All your pleasance wold I follow fain:
But yet I hope it be not your intent
That I smockless out of your palace went.

Let me not like a worm go by the way:
Remember you, mine owen lord so dear,
I was your wife, though I unworthy were.

The smock, quod he, that thou hast on thy bake
Let it be still, and bear it forth with thee.
But well unneathes thilke word he spake,
But went his way for ruth and for pitee.
Before the folk herselven strippeth she,

And in her smock, with foot and head all bare,
Toward her father's house forth is she fare.?

The folk her followen weeping in her way,
And Fortune aye they cursen as they gone:
But she fro weeping kept her eyen drey,
Ne in this time word ne spake she none.
Her fader, that this tiding heard anon,
Curseth the day and time that nature
Shope him to been a lives 10

In every way.


? Proved.

3 For no unhappiness that may be my lot, were it even to die?

4 Doubt.

7 Gone.

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6 This same.
10 Living

There is scarcely perhaps to be found anywhere in poetry a finer burst of natural feeling than in the lines we have printed in italics.


Contemporary with Chaucer, and probably born a few years. earlier, though of the two he survived to the latest date, for his death did not take place till the year 1408, was John Gower. Moral Gower, as he is commonly designated, is the author of three great poetical works (sometimes spoken of as one, though they do not seem to have had any connection of plan or subject) ::-the Speculum Meditantis, which is, or was, in French; the Vox Clamantis, which is in Latin; and the Confessio Amantis, which is in English. But the first, although an account of it, founded on a mistake, has been given by Warton, has certainly not been seen in modern times, and has in all probability perished. The Vox Clamantis was edited for the Roxburghe Club in 1850 by the Rev. H. G. Coxe. It consists of seven Books in Latin elegiacs. "The greater bulk of the work," says Dr. Pauli, "the date of which its editor is inclined to fix between 1382 and 1384, is rather a moral than an historical essay; but the First Book describes the insurrection of Wat Tyler in an allegorical disguise; the poet having a dream on the 11th of June 1381, in which men assumed the shape of animals. The Second Book contains a long sermon on fatalism, in which the poet shows himself no friend to Wiclif's tenets, but a zealous advocate for the reformation of the clergy. The Third Book points out how all orders of society must suffer for their own vices and demerits; in illustration of which he cites the example of the secular clergy. The Fourth Book is dedicated to the cloistered clergy and the friars, the Fifth to the military; the Sixth contains a violent attack on the lawyers; and the Seventh subjoins the moral of the whole, represented in Nebuchadnezzar's dream, as interpreted by Daniel." The allusion in the title seems to be to St. John the Baptist, and to the general clamour then abroad in the country. The Confessio Amantis has been several times printed;-by Caxton in 1483, by Berthelet in 1532 and again in 1554; and by Alexander Chalmers in the second volume of his English poets, 1810; but all these previous editions have been superseded by the very commodious and beautiful one of Dr. Reinhold Pauli, in 3 vols. 8vo., London, 1857.

We will avail ourselves of Dr. Pauli's account of the course in

* Introd. Essay to Confessio Amantis.

which the work proceeds :-" The poem opens by introducing the author himself, in the character of an unhappy lover in despair. Venus appears to him, and, after having heard his prayer, appoints her priest called Genius, like the mystagogue in the picture of Cebes, to hear the lover's confession. This is the

frame of the whole work, which is a singular mixture of classical notions, principally borrowed from Ovid's Ars Amandi, and of the purely medieval idea, that as a good Catholic the unfortunate lover must state his distress to a father confessor. This is done with great regularity and even pedantry: all the passions of the human heart, which generally stand in the way of love, being systematically arranged in the various books and subdivisions of the work. After Genius has fully explained the evil affection, passion, or vice under consideration, the lover confesses on that particular point; and frequently urges his boundless love for an unknown beauty, who treats him cruelly, in a tone of affectation which would appear highly ridiculous in a man of more than sixty years of age, were it not a common characteristic of the poetry of the period. After this profession the confessor opposes him, and exemplifies the fatal effects of each passion by a variety of opposite stories, gathered from many sources, examples being then, as now, a favourite mode of inculcating instruction and reformation. At length, after a frequent and tedious recurrence of the same process, the confession is terminated by some final injunctions of the priestthe lover's petition in a strophic poem addressed to Venus-the bitter judgment of the goddess, that he should remember his old age and leave off such fooleries. . . . his cure from the wound caused by the dart of love, and his absolution, received as if by a pious Roman Catholic." *

Such a scheme as this, pursued through more than thirty thousand verses, promises perhaps more edification than entertainment; but the amount of either that is to be got out of the Confessio Amantis is not considerable. Ellis, after charitably declaring that so long as Moral Gower keeps to his morality he is "wise, impressive, and sometimes almost sublime," is compelled to add," But his narrative is often quite petrifying; and, when we read in his work the tales with which we had been familiarized in the poems of Ovid, we feel a mixture of surprise and despair at the perverse industry employed in removing every detail on which the imagination had been accustomed to fasten. The author of the Metamorphoses was a poet, and at least sufficiently fond of ornament; Gower considers him as a mere

* Introductory Essay, p. xxxiv.

annalist; scrupulously preserves his facts; relates them with great perspicuity; and is fully satisfied when he has extracted from them as much morality as they can be reasonably expected to furnish."* In many cases this must be little enough.


This latter part of the fourteenth century is also the age of the birth of Scottish poetry; and Chaucer had in that dialect a far more worthy contemporary and rival than his friend and fellowEnglishman Gower, in John Barbour. Of Barbour's personal history but little is known. He was a churchman, and had attained to the dignity of Archdeacon of Aberdeen by the year 1357; so that his birth cannot well be supposed to have been later than 1320. He is styled Archdeacon of Aberdeen in a passport granted to him in that year by Edward III. at the request of David de Bruce (that is, King David II. of Scotland), to come into England with three scholars in his company, for the purpose, as it is expressed, of studying in the University of Oxford; and the protection is extended to him and his companions while performing their scholastic exercises, and generally while remaining there, and also while returning to their own country. It may seem strange that an Archdeacon should go to college; but Oxford appears to have been not the only seat of learning to which Barbour resorted late in life with the same object. Three other passports, or safe-conducts, are extant which were granted to him by Edward at later dates :-the first, in 1364, permitting him to come, with four horsemen, from Scotland, by land or sea, into England, to study at Oxford, or elsewhere, as he might think proper; the second, in 1365, by which he is authorized to come into England, and travel throughout that kingdom, with six horsemen as his companions, as far as to St. Denis in France; and the third, in 1368, securing him protection in coming, with two valets and two horses, into England, and travelling through the same to the king's other dominions, on his way to France (versus Francium) for the purpose of studying there, and in returning thence. Yet he had also been long before this employed, and in a high capacity, in civil affairs. In 1357 he was appointed by the Bishop of Aberdeen one of his two Commissioners deputed to attend a meeting at Edinburgh about the ransom of the king. Nothing more is heard of him till 1373, in which year he appears as one of the

*Specimens of the Early English Poets, i. 179.

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