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CHAP. him unexpectedly, and fawns upon him with
the familiarity of an old acquaintance, he is 1369.
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.
Chaucer dwells emphatically and elaboof John of
rately upon the depth of his friend's suffer-
It was grete wonder that nature
And Gaụnt, venting his anguish in soliloquy, CHAP
is made to say,
Alas, o dethe ! what eyleth the,
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 And pale.
Chaucer accosts, and expresses a wish to console, him; for which the knight courteously thanks the poet, but adds,
No man ne may my sorowe glade,
my hewe to fal and fade, And hath myn understanding" lorne, That me is wo, that I was borne.
С НА Р.
Me's wo, that I live hourés twelve !
And this is paine withouten “rede,
After many exclamations of this discon, solate 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
* uncertainty, doubt.
and timorous consent, and the happy nuptials CHAP. with which his wishes were ultimately crown
1369. ed. 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?
Now, ' quod he, and kystinte anone,
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, 1369.
Unto a place was there beside,
Defects of the
There are several passages in this poeni upon 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.
The present poem has much more considerable deformities. Nothing can be in a poorer