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XVII.

CHAP. an undue degree of shade upon the literary

character of Gower, and even taught some persons to speak of him with a sort of contempt. He has the faults of his age ; his versification is rude ; and he seems insensible to the deformity of obtruding upon his readers whole pages of prosaic, feeble, flat and unnecessary lines : but from this defect, as we have seen, Chaucer himself was not exempt. Gower was a phenomenon in the age in which he lived, and he received generally from his contemporaries that species of consideration and homage to which his endowments entitled him. His ballads in French are many of them the offspring of

a delicate, susceptible and poetical mind. Emulation Though 'it is not true that Gower led the

way to Chaucer in the art of writing Eng= lish verse, yet if we refer to the two principal works of each, the De Confessione: - Amantis and the Canterbury Tales, we shall find that Gower did lead the way to Chaucer in the idea of constructing a magazine of

poetical stories in English verse. therefore fairly consider Chaucer as having

of Chaucer.

We may

borrowed the idea of his greatest and most CHAP admired work from the labours of his learned contemporary. He has even told some of the same stories ; though I do not think it eán justly be said, as some of the writers on these topics. have perhaps inadvertently phrased it, that he took the stories from Gower. : Chaucer rather went to the same sources as his rival, and Englished the stories in his own way, but still with the honours acquired by his contemporary full in his eye, This circumstance surely places the inferior poet in no contemptible point of view. : It reminds the reader of taste, of the content tion of Voltaire against the elder Crebillon, who treated three dramatic subjects (Semiz ramis, Orestes and Catiline), chiefly because Crebillon had treated them before him. This is at least a generous and manly emulation, infinitely superior to the little arts of cons spiracy and cabal. It contains in it by im. plication a confession of the honour and estimation in which the competitor is publicly held, and an acknowledgement that the more recent author does not regard the competition

XVII.

Tale of
A pollynus

CHAP. as matter of degradation; and if in the sequel

the elder writer is vanquished, he 'is' only buried under a heap of laurels; and may console himself that that which causes his obscurity, is a ground of elevation and pride

to his country and his race. Another cirof Tyie. cumstance which is worthy to be mentioned

in this slight enumeration of the literary deservings of Gower, is that what is usually considered as the best of his tales, the tale of Apollynus of Tyre, has avowedly furnished materials for the beautiful drama of Pericles Prince of Tyre, a play which is commonly printed under the name of Shakespear, and which, in sweetness of manner, delicacy of sentiment, truth of feeling, and natural ease of language, would do honour to the greatest

author who ever existed. Conclusion. . In looking back to the characters of Strode

and Gower, the confidential friends of Chau, cer, we shall see much to reflect credit

upon the man who fixed his attachment upon such intimates and friends. They appear to have been both honourable and wise men, masters of all the learning of their times, and distin,

XVI).

guished for powers and acuteness of intellect. CHA P. Strode however, the vigorous adversary and opponent of Wicliffe, must unquestionably yield the palm to Gower. It is with another sort of temper and feeling from that due to an elegant scholar and an acute controversialist, that we are bound to look up to one of the great founders of our language, a man who bore his part in these early times in breaking the intellectual ice of our northern climate, and who contributed to usher into our land those sublime votaries of the muse, by whose admirable productions our country has been enabled to eclipse every other nation of the world.

CHAP. XVIII.

QUESTION WHETHER CHAUCER STUDIED AT PARIS,
· AND IN THE INNER TEMPLE, CONSIDERED.-

TRUCE BETWEEN ENGLAND AND FRANCE.-LAW
AND LAWYERS OF THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY.
STATUTE OF TREASONS. PALAMON AND
ARCITE.-TRANSLATION OF BOETHIUS DE CON-
SOLATIONE PHILOSOPHIE.

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residence

CHAL: LELAND reports of our author, that he Chaucer's finished his studies at Paris.

“ Chaucer," in France says he, “ at the period of his leaving Oxby Leland. ford, was already an acute dialectian, a per

suasive orator, an elegant poet, a grave philosopher, an able mathematician, and an accomplished divine. These no doubt are lofty appellations ; but whoever shall examine his works with a curious eye, will admit that I have sufficient ground for my panegyric.

6 I must however,” continues the vener

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