Imatges de pÓgina


CHAP. formality for the complete performance re

mained unexecuted, the case appeared in 1364.

their eyes less desperate. The ransomed sovereign was of a temper opposite to that of his son.

He was plain, ingenuous and sincere. He was therefore impatient of the arts and subterfuges of his own council; and, to convince his brother of England of the integrity of his purposes, he resolved upon the extraordinary step of coming to London where he had lately been a captive, and putting himself into the power of his conquerorh. It was on this occasion that he is said to have uttered that laudable sentiment, a sentiment which, if acted on, would have saved to mankind a world of woe, that, “ if truth were banished from all other mortals, it ought still to find refuge in the breast of a king.”

This illustrious, and now voluntary, guest was received by Edward III. with every demonstration of cordiality and affection, and

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entertained with all that magnificence and CHAP profusion which were characteristic of the times. Among his inviters, the lord-mayor and aldermen of London particularly distinguished themselves. The name of Henry Picard, who entertained the same company seven years before, is now again mentioned with peculiar honour; and, beside the king of France, the English metropolis could at this time boast of the visit of David king of Scots, Peter king of Cyprus, Waldemar king of Denmark, and Albert duke of Bavaria. John of Gaunt yielded his palace of the Sa- resides in voy as a residence for the French monarch, of Lanas his predecessor had done before : and after palace of an abode of three months, which had been voy. protracted by the attacks of disease, this unfortunate sovereign at length paid the debt of Dies. nature under the roof of his ducal hosti.

the duke

the Sa

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Merils ofthe original poem.

It was probably during the interval of

peaco which followed the treaty of Bretigni, that Chaucer engaged in a literary work of the utmost importance and honour to the age and country in which he lived, the translation of the Roman de la Rose. We have already had occasion to mention this


It was the most eminent poetical composition existing in any

of the modern languages of Europe, previously to the Commedia of Dante, The French have a just claim to priority over all the European nations, in the invention of romances of chivalry, and the pro


duction of every species of offspring of the CHA.P. imagination. The Roman de la Rose, which was written during the thirteenth century, placed their preeminence as to these early ages beyond the reach of rivalship. It may justly be regarded as the predecessor and progenitor of all that is most admirable in the effusions of modern, in contradistinction to the chivalrous, poetry.

The Roman de la Rose is a poem consisting of upward of twenty-two thousand

It is of much more considerable extent than the Iliad, and above twice as long as the epic of Virgil. No period of Chau- Period of cer's life can with greater probability be fixed translaupon for his engaging in so gigantic and formidable a task as this translation, than that at which we are now arrived. He was in the flower of his age; and the ardent and adventurous spirit of youth was as yet unsubdued in him. He was at leisure; while the subsequent periods of his existence were occupied with public office, with foreign employments, and with calamity. He basked





CHAP. in the sunshine of court-favour, patronised

as we have seen by the sovereign and his royal consort. His intimate and uniform patron, John of Gaunt, was lately married to a most accomplished and amiable woman, and had in right of his wife succeeded to the largest and fairest patrimony in England. Chaucer, as has already appeared, and will hereafter be more distinctly shown, was at this time a lover, a circumstance which might naturally predispose him to the translation of a work, the topics of which are the enchantments, the difficulties, and the sufferings of love. He was an unsuccessful lover ; a situation which might render him less unwilling to transfuse into English the sharp and bitter reflections upon the sex occasionally interspersed in this poem.

In describing the appearance of a comely and beautiful youth in the course of the translation, Chaucer compares him to

The lordé's sonne of Wyndésore:

ver. 1950.

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