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XXVI.

CHAP. graceful colours the character of the poet.

During the whole of the discourse however, she has a jealous and vigilant eye continually wandering from one part of the room to another, and at length discovers the poet in his hiding-place. This puts an abrupt close to her harangue : she takes a hasty leave, and defers the rest of her instructions to the next day.

It is obvious to remark with how much better a grace Regnier introduces the exhibition of these libertine lessons, than his predecessor had done. Indeed John de Meun has chosen exactly the most aukward and illcontrived vehicle that malice itself could have supplied to an unfortunate author; and on that account his satire undoubtedly loses the greater part of its force. It is also a point of no little curiosity to compare the sluggish and dislocated style of the ancient poet, with the classical correctness and compression of Regnier in conveying the same sentiments.

The discourse of the Old-Woman is not of the Ro to be found in Chaucer's Romaunt of the

Rose. His poem, as we possess it, contains

Chaucer's translation

man de la Rose.

XXI.

the trans

only 7098 verses, instead of 22,734, whịch CHAP. is the extent of the original. It is probable however that Chaucer translated the whole. A breach of no less than 5883 verses occurs in the middle of Chaucer's poem, beside various errors and transpositions ; and it is easy to believe that the same causes which have deprived us of so large a portion of the early part of his translation, should have occasioned the total loss of the latter half of it.

The translation of the Romance of the Object of Rose was of the utmost importance to Chau- lator. cer's grand project, of effecting a complete coalition and incorporation of the language of his native country and the language of poetry.

The Romance of the Rose was the great modern poem, which had made its appearance at so early a period. Its

popularity was high, and its merit as yet undisputed. It was written in the language which, even to this time, was the language of the court of London. Unless it were transfused into our native tongue, every loyer of poetical sentiment and poetical fiction might be expected to learn French that he might read

XXVI.

tĦAP. it ; and, having first savoured the choicest

beauties of poetry in that language, it would bé difficult, if not impossible, to effect a divorce between two things which had been 80 early and so strongly associated in his mind. We may therefore picture to ourselves Chaucer as entering upon this task, with a concentered mind,“ long meditating and beginning late," and having anxiously watched for a period of leisure accommodated to so large an undertaking. It must probably have occupied a space of two or three years at least; and Chaucer must be supposed to have regarded the completion of it as a principal epoch in the youthful engagements of his life. When he had finished it, he no doubt congratulated himself as having effected onė principal step toward making the native language of England the genuine and familiar vehicle of poetical fancies, and of rich and many-coloured fiction, to the ears of his countrymen.

CHAP. XXVII.

COURT OF THE BLACK PRINCE AT BOURDEAUX.
WAR IN SPAIN.-DUKE OF LANCASTER DISTIN-
GUISHES HIMSELF IN THIS WAR-SICKNESS, OF
THE BLACK PRINCE.--CHAUCER'S FIRST PENSION.

XXVII.

Character of

Prince.

In the beginning of the year 1303 the Black CHAP Prince settled as the feudatory lord, in the principality of Aquitaine*, He had already the Black acquired a character which it falls to the lot of few to obtain. He was a soldier with the lustre of a sovereign ; and he had the lustre of a sovereign, unexposed to the resentment, the misconstruction and the censures, usually attendant upon that elevated

The writ conferring this dignity is in Rymer, Vol. VI, 36 Edw, 3, Jul. 19.

pru

CHAP. rank.

He had assisted in the battle of XXVII.

Cressy, and he had won the battle of Poi-
tiers; two of the most considerable victories
in modern times. History has scarcely fixed
upon this elevated personage the shadow of
a blemish. He was brave, but deliberate e ;
he was enterprising, but sagacious and
dent. He was generous and humane, yet
without weakness; he was proud, yet with-
out insolence or cruelty. His contemporaries
have been lavish in his praise, but he had
no enemies; and, if the narrators of his
actions have imputed to him any failure, they
have ingenuously and unequivocally stated
that it was to be ascribed to the

urgency

of his situation and unavoidable circumstances, and have fully acquitted him of errors of the heart. Never was man more free from every species of excess; never was man more liberal, frank, well-tempered and kind.

This prince, after having secured his miliriage.

tary renown in the battles above mentioned, and attained to the age of thirty-one years, became, about sixteen months before he took

1361.

His mar

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