Slike strani

siastical literature agrees with the best mss. decides that the English supposition that he was a Church- version of Mandeville's travels was inan; and be was evidently familiar unquestionably the work of a transwith the Latin poems ascribed to lator. He gives reasons for doubting Walter Map. The great interest of whether Mandeville was a real person his work is its unquestionable reflec- at all, and for believing that the tion of the popular sentiment of book was originally written in his age. Langland is as intensely | French, under a feigned name, by the national as Chaucer; but, while his physician Jean de Bourgogne, who, great successor in the art of poetry in an early edition, is said to have freely availed himself of the forms met Mandeville, first at Cairo, and introduced in Anglo-Norman litera- again at Liége. The book proture, Langland makes a last attempt fesses to be a record of Mandeville's to revive the Anglo-Saxon forms. travels in Palestine, Egypt, Persia, This effort, combined with his rich Tartary, India, and China. But humour and unsparing satire, gained Sir H. Yule shows that, excepting him unbounded popularity with the perhaps the part about Egypt common people. The author recast and the Levant generally, the his poem twice, so that we have three travels were a mere adaptation of versions of it. The first and shortest, previous works, and that the author or A text, is of the date of 1362 ; the had never visited the distant counsecond, or B text, the best of the tries which he describes. The work, three, and more than double the in its English dress, is now chiefly length of A, may be dated 1377 ; interesting as probably the earliest the third, or C text, about 1380. example, on a large scale, of English The author's other work, Richard the prose. The English of Mandeville's Redeless, directed against Richard II, translator is straightforward and is left unfinished. Professor Skeat unadorned, and probably a fair exhas edited for the Clarendon Press ample of the spoken English of the a parallel edition of the three texts, day. As compared with Robert of to which Richard the Redeless is Gloucester, it shows a great increase appended.

of French words. No work of the Langland had numerous imitators. age was more popular. It exists in The Creed of Piers Plowman, a a large number of MSS. The earliest work of the same school, and often printed edition in English is that ascribed to the same author, is sup- of Wynkyn de Worde (Westminster, posed to have been written about 1499; 8vo); but an Italian translatwenty or thirty years later than the tion by Pietro di Cornero had been Vision. It is more serious in its previously (1480) printed in quarto tone, and more in harmony with form at Milan. There was an even the religious attitude of Wycliffe. earlier German edition, and there is The Complaint of Piers Plowman is record of a Dutch version as early as to be found in a volume of political 1470. The standard English edition and satirical songs in the Rolls Series. is that printed at London (1725 ; These political poems concur with 8vo), and reprinted, with an IntroGower's Vox Clamantis in giving duction, Notes, and Glossary, by us a vivid impression of the evils Mr. Halliwell (London, 1839; 8vo). which provoked the great Lancas. The translation of the Latin Polytrian revolution.

chronicon of Ranulf Higden (see English Prose Literature P. 30) by JOHN DE TREVISA (1326– formerly said to begin with Sir 1412), vicar of Berkeley, was comJOHN MANDEVILLE, who is said pleted in 1385, and is chiefly interto have been born at St. Albans esting as having been printed in about 1309, and to have left England 1482 by Caxton. It also has been for the East in 1322. Mr. E. B. printed in the Rolls Series. It is a Nicholson, however, in the article curious proof of the change which a written by himself and Sir H. Yule single century made in the language, for the Encyclopædia Britannica, that Caxton thought it necessary states that a comparison of all the somewhat to change the rude and


old English, that is, to wit, certain . B.-JOHN GOWER. words which in these days be neither

The transition which occurred in used or understood." Several other translations, made by Trevisa from

our language and literature about

the middle of the fourteenth century the Latin, exist only in Ms.

cannot be illustrated better than The great Scottish poet of this age, JOHN BARBOUR, Archdeacon by the writings of John Gower, the of Aberdeen (circ. 1316-1395), was

contemporary and friend of Chaucer,

and the author of three great poetical a contemporamy rather than a pre. works, the first in French, the second cursor of Chaucer, with whom he in Latin, and the third in English. deserves to be classed as the father Gower is assumed to have been of a national literature. His Bruce somewhat older than Chaucer, as (1375), in 13,000 rhymed octosyllabic the old writers generally name him lines, is a chronicle of the adventures of King Robert I, and is of very high

first : he survived Chaucer by eight merit. "The Lowland Scottish dialect years, dying in 1408. But the pre

cedence must be awarded to Chaucer, was formed under exactly the same influences as the English, from which

not only for the vast superiority of it differed rather less than in the

his genius, but as the first writer present day. Barbour also paid whether Gower would have written

in English. It may be questioned several visits to England, and studied in English at all, unless in conat Oxford in his mature age. He formity with the taste created by wrote a Troy Book, of which we

Chaucer. Their early friendship is have parts in Ms., and a long collection of Lives of Saints, in à Cam- proved by Chaucer's dedication of bridge Ms. which has been printed Troilus and Criseyde to Gower, by

a title which became the second at Heilbronn. Before this time there are hardly any names in Scottish poet's fixed epithet : literature, except that of the School- “0 moral Gower ! this book I man, MICHAEL Scot (1175?

directe 1234?), who studied abroad, and To thee, and to the philosophical was scarcely known at home, except


To vouchen sauf, ther nede is, to by his reputation as a wizard, which

corecte, was probably due to his Latin

of your benignitees and zeles translation of Aristotle's work on the

gode.” Soul, compiled from an Arabian source. THOMAS RYMOUR Or LEAR

And the continuance of their friendMONT (1220 ?-1297 ?), of Erceldoune, ship (in spite of conjectures founded known as True Thomas, or Thomas

on insufficient evidence) is attested the Rhymer, had a great reputation by the compliment paid to Chaucer for his prophecies, and was errone

in Gower's Confessio Amantis (fin. ously supposed to have been the

ished 1393), where Venus greets author of the romance of Tris.

Chaucer tan. Another Scottish author was

As the Latin chronicler, JOHN OF

my disciple and my poete," FORDUN (d. 1384?), a chantry- and, after speaking of “the dittees priest of Aberdeen, whose Scoti- and songes glad" composed “in the chronicon contains the legendary floures of his youthe" for her sakeand historical annals of his country songs of which to the death of David I (1153).

The land fulfilled is over all ” The younger and less celebrated contemporary of Barbour, ANDREW -exhorts him to employ his old age WYNTOUN (circ. 1350_after 1420), in writing his Testament of Love. canon of St. Andrews, and prior Two of the Canterbury Tales, of St. Serf in Lochleven, wrote a those of the Man of Law and the metrical chronicle, in nine books, of Wife of Bath, were no doubt derived Scottish and general history. BLIND by both Gower and his great conHARRY THE MINSTREL belongs to temporary from a common source. the following century.

Caxton made Gower a native of

the peninsula of Gower in South Cambridge, is as unfounded as Wales, and Leland claimed him as most of Leland's other statements a member of the family of Gower of about him, but his works furnish Stittenham in Yorkshire, from which proof of his having received the best are sprung the noble houses of education which his age could be. Sutherland and Ellesmere. But Sir stow, and of his command of the Harris Nicolas and others have languages then in use. proved, from existing deeds, and Gower's three great works were from the comparison of seals with the Speculum Meditantis, in French ; the arms on Gower's tomb, that the the Vox Clamantis, in Latin ; and poet was an esquire of Kent, and the Confessio Amantis in English. probably of the same family as Sir (1.) The Speculum Mediiantis is Robert Gower of Moulton and now entirely lost, and the short Kentwell in Suffolk, who died in or French poem which Warton debefore 1349. Sir Robert's daughter scribes under that name is an enand co-heiress Joan conveyed the tirely different work. It seems to manor of Kentwell to John Gower have been a collection of precepts (the poet) on June 28, 1368. From on chastity, reinforced by examples. this and similar evidence it appears But there are still extant Fifty that Gower was sprung from a family | French Ballads by Gower, in a Ms. of knightly rank, and that he pos- now belonging to the Earl of Ellessessed estates in Kent, Norfolk, mere, and edited for the Roxburghe Suffolk, and probably in Essex, Club (1818) by the Marquess of although he lived much in London, Stafford. They are," says Pauli in and apparently in close connection the Introductory Essay to his edition with the Court. There is no ground of Gower, "tender in sentiment, and for the common statement that he not unrefined with regard to lanfollowed the legal profession ; but it guage and form, especially if we appears (very doubtfully) that he consider that they are the work of took Holy Orders and held the a foreigner. They treat of love in living of Great Braxted in Essex. the manner introduced by the ProIn 1397 he married one Agnes vençal poets, which was afterwards Groundolf; this was late in life, generally adopted by those in the for in 1400 he speaks of himself as north of France." They were about both old and blind. His will still the last works of any importance exists, made on August 15, 1408, written in the Anglo-Norman French, and proved by his widow on the which was now so fully regarded 24th of October following.


as a foreign language that Gower evidence of his marriage comes from apologises for his French, saying, the register of William of Wyke. "I am English," while he gives as ham, preserved at Winchester ; it his reason for using the language, took place at St. Mary Magdalen's, that he was addressing his balladsSouthwark, on January 28, 1397.

"Al Université de tout le monde." The identity of the parties is ren. dered almost certain by the identity Some verses addressed to Henry IV of names. His will leaves it doubi- | after his accession prove that Gower ful whether he had issue. He lies continued to write in French to the buried, according to his own direc. end of his life. tions, in St. Mary Overies, now the (2.) Of Gower's great Latin poen, Collegiate Church of St. Saviour, the Vox Clamantis, Dr. Pauli gives Southwark, of which he was a great the following account :benefactor. His splendid canopied " Soon after the rebellion of the tomb bears his arms and cffigy ; his Commons in 1381 (under Richard II]. head rests on his three volumes, and an event which made a great impresthe wall within the three arches is sion on his mind, Gower wrote that painted with figures of Charity, singular work in Latin distichs, called Mercy, and Pity. The story of Vox Clamantis, of which we possess his having been a fellow-student an excellent edition by the Rev. with Chaucer, either at Oxford or H. 0. Coxe, prinied for the Rose


burghe Club in 1850. The name, copy the poet describes at length with an allusion to St. John the how he came rowing down the Baptist, seems to have been adopted Thames at London one day, and from the general clamour and cry how he met King Richard, who, then abroad in the country. The having invited him to step into the greater bulk of the work, the date of royal barge, commanded him to which its editor is inclined to fix write upon some new matter. In between 1382 and 1384, is a moral | that addressed to Henry, he says rather than a historical essay; but that the book was finished the yere the first book describes the insurrec sixteenth of King Richard (1392-93), tion of Wat Tyler in an allegorical an important fact which has been disguise -- the poet pretending to hitherto overlooked by all writers on have a dream on June 11. 1381, the subject, including even Sir. H. in which men assume the shape of Nicolas (Life of Chaucer, p. 39), who animals. The second book con- states that Gower did not dedicate bains a long sermon on fatalism, in his work to Henry until he had which the poet shows himself no ascended the throne." Having friend to Wycliffe's tenets, but a shown that the dedication zealous advocate of clerical reforma made when Henry was not yet tion. The third book points out king, or even Duke of Lancaster, how all orders of society must suffer but Earl of Derby—a title which he for their own vices and demerits. bore in 1392-3-Pauli proceeds :The fourth book is dedicated to the “ The one version abounds in excloistered clergy and the friars ; pressions of the deepest loyalty the fifth to the military ; the sixth towards his sovereign, for whose contains a violent attack on the sake he intends to write some newe lawyers; and the seventh subjoins thing in English; the other mentions the moral of the whole, as represented the year of the reign of Richard II, in Nebuchadnezzar's dream, inter- | is full of attachment to Henry of preted by Daniel. There are also | Lancastersome smaller Latin poems in leonine

“With whom my herte is of accorde' hexameters; among them one addressed to Henry IV, in which the --and purports to appear

in English poet laments his own blindness." for England's sake. The inference (3) Gower's latest poem, the from all this is that Gower, seeing Confessio Amantis, was written in the fatal tendency of Richard's English, with a running marginal course, early attached himself to commentary in Latin, not unlike Henry of Lancaster, from whom the commentary which accompanies —the record is still extant -- he Coleridge's Ancient Mariner. Its received a collar in 1394, probably composition seems to be due to the in acknowledgment of the dedica. success of Chaucer. We again quotetion of his poem. He also, in his from Dr. Pauli :-" The exact date minor pieces, addresses Henry more of the poem has not been ascertained, than once with affection and respect. but there is internal evidence, in Hence the beginning of the Confessio certain copies, that it existed in the Amantis would fall before 1386, year 1392–3. As this point involves when Richard came of age and a question of grave importance with began his arbitrary government. respect to the author's behaviour and Hence, also, the omission of the position in the political events of the compliment to Chaucer at the end day, it will be necessary to enter of the poem, in the edition inscribed more fully into the subject. He to Henry, may be explained by unquestionably issued two editions motives of policy, without inferring of the work, which . . . vary from any personal alienation. Chaucer, each other only at the commence- however, did not take the omission ment and at the end ; the one being kindly, and in the Man of Law's dedicated to King Richard II, the Tale and its prologue, inserted other to his cousin, Henry of Lan- reflections on Gower's accuracy caster, Earl of Derby. In the king's and morality.

The Prologue to the Confessio is that he should remember his old age, in that strain of dissatisfaction with and leave off such fooleries . . . his the existing order of things which cure from the wound caused by the pervades the Vox Clamantis ; and dart of love, and his absolution. ... the poet comforts himself with the The materials for this extensive same resource, the divine govern- work (more than 30,000 lines), and ment of the world, as revealed in the stories inserted as examples for Nebuchadnezzar's vision. Yet how and against the lover's passion, are little he shares the opinions of drawn from various sources. Some Wycliffe is proved by his reference have been taken from the Bible ; a to

great number from Ovid's Meta. “This new secte of lollardie." ; morphoses, which must have been a

particular favourite with the author ; Pauli gives the following outline others from the medieval histories of the work :-" The poem opens by of the siege of Troy, of the feats introducing the author himself, in of Alexander the Great ; from the the character of an unhappy lover in oldest collection of novels, known despair, smitten by Cupid's arrow. under the name of Gesta Romanorum, Venus appears to him, and, after chiefly in its form as used in England; having heard his prayer, appoints from the Pantheon and Speculum her priest called Genius, like the Regum of Godfrey of Viterbo ; from mystagogue in the Picture of Cebes, the romance of Sir Lancelot, and to hear the lover's confession. This the Chronicles of Cassiodorus and is the frame of the whole work, Isidorus." There is also a vast which is a singular mixture of amount of alchemical learning from classical notions, principally bor. the Almagest, and an exposition of rowed from Ovid's Ars Amandi, the pseudo-Aristotelian philosophy and of the purely medieval idea that, of the Middle Ages. The author's as a good Catholic, the unfortunate fancy lies almost buried under the lover must state his distress to a

of his learning, and father confessor. This is done, in laborious composition shows none the course of the confession, with of Chaucer's humour, or passion, great regularity and even pedantry :) or love of nature. In the language all the passions of the human heart of the new school of poetry, to which generally stand in the way of which Chaucer's genius had given love being systematically arranged birth, Gower embodies most of the in the various books and sub- faults of the romance writers. Still divisions of the work. After Genius he has his merits. Mr. W. W. Lloyd, has fully explained the evil affection, in Singer's Shakespeare (vol. iv. passion, or vice under consideration, p. 261), says: The vivacity and the lover confesses on that particular variety of his short verses evince a point, and frequently urges his love correct ear and a happy power, by for an unknown beauty, who treats the assistance of which he enhances him cruelly, in a tone of affectation the interest in a tale, and frequently which would appear highly ridiculous terminates it with satisfaction to the in a man of more than sixty years of reader." The Saxon element is as age, were it not a common charac-conspicuous in his language as in teristic of the poetry of the period. Chaucer's, but he uses a larger After this profession, the confessor number of French words, as might opposes him, and exemplifies the have been expected from his early fatal effects of each passion by a habits of composition. The frequent variety of apposite stories, gathered want of skill in the construction of from many sources. At length, after his sentences shows that it was no a frequent and tedious recurrence of easy task for him to write so long a the same process, the confession is work in English. There are some terminated by some final injunctions forms peculiar to him, as I sigh of the priest, the lover's petition in for I saw, and nought for not. He a strophic poem addressed to Venus, seldom uses alliteration. We have the bitter judgment of the goddess, l'a long chain of testimony to Gower's



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