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CHAP. him unexpectedly, and fawns upon him with the familiarity of an old acquaintance, he is led, through a beautiful valley, enamelled with flowers, adorned with trees, and peopled with all kinds of gay and sportive animals, to a large oak, at the foot of which is seated a knight, of noble appearance, clothed in black, and seemingly immersed in disconsolate and melancholy contemplations. This knight is John of Gaunt. In a little while, though Chaucer represents himself as wholly a stranger to the knight, they enter into conversation. That they have no previous acquaintance, is apparently feigned, that the illustrious mourner may with the greater probability and propriety enter into the history of his sorrows.
Affliction of John of Gaunt.
Chaucer dwells emphatically and elaborately upon the depth of his friend's sufferings and anguish. While as yet he had only remarked him unobserved, Chaucer exclaims,
It was grete wonder that nature
To have soche sorow', and he not ded.
And Gaunt, venting his anguish in soliloquy, CHAP
is made to say,
Alas, o dethe! what eyleth the,
That thou n'oldest have taken me,
When he had uttered his complaint, his spirits seemed suddenly to fail him, and his blood retreated to his heart ;
and that made al
His hewé chaunge, and wexen grene
Chaucer accosts, and expresses a wish to console, him; for which the knight courteously thanks the poet, but adds,
⚫ wouldest not.
No man ne may my sorowe glade,
Me's wo, that I live hourés twelve !
Of any sorowe, let him se me;
I wretche, that dethe hath made al naked
Of al the blisse that er was maked;
I wretche, the wersté of al wightes,
After many exclamations of this disconsolate nature, the hero at length grows more composed, and, to gratify the curiosity of the poet, enters into the history of his loves. He describes the person and accomplishments of Blanche, the coyness and modesty with which she received his courtship, her slow
and timorous consent, and the happy nuptials CHAP. with which his wishes were ultimately crowned. He expatiates with enthusiasm upon the felicity of his marriage state. Many of these passages have been already quoted. The poem then draws to a conclusion.
Sir, quod I, and where is she now?
Alas, sir, how? what maie that be?
At this moment the party of hunters returns ;
CHAP. and "this kyng," as Chaucer now styles him, mounting his horse, rides homeward,
Unto a place was there beside,
Whiche that was from us but a "lite,
There are several passages in this poem the death of the duchess, which mark in no common degree the crudeness of taste of the times in which Chaucer wrote. It is scarcely worth while again, as we did in examining the Troilus and Creseide, to quote single lines which are trite, vulgar and impotent; such as where Chaucer makes his hero say, exclaiming upon fortune,
for she is nothing stable, Nowe by the fyre, nowe at the table. ver. 645. The present poem has much more considerable deformities. Nothing can be in a poorer