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The First Psalm...

A Prayer..


The First Six Verses of the Ninetieth Psalm.. 740
To a Mountain Daisy...


To Ruin.





The Birks of Aberfeldy.

I love my Jean....

John Anderson my Jo..

The Posie.....






For a' That, and a' That.

Scottish Ballad, "Last May a Braw Wooer
"Here's a Health to Ane I lo'e dear".

The Banks o' Doon..

"Ye Flowery Banks o' Bonnie Doon

Sic a Wife as Willie had..

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... 749






GEOFFREY CHAUCER, "the morning-star of English poetry," was born at London, in 1828 or 1340-the former date being generally accepted by his biographers, while the high authority of Sharon Turner prefers that of 1340. Little is accurately known of his life. One of his biographers represents him to have studied both at Cambridge and at Oxford, while another doubts whether he was a member of any college. He is supposed to have been entered as a student at the Inner Temple; but the evidence of this is said to be merely a record that one Geoffrey Chaucer was fined two shillings for beating a Franciscan friar in Fleet Street. It is certain, however, that at an early age he had become acquainted with personages of distinction; for he was a page to King Edward III., and was rewarded by that monarch in 1367 with an annuity of twenty marks. He appears afterward to have become gentleman of the bedchamber to the king, and in 1370 was sent abroad as a royal envoy. Two years later, he was sent to Genoa to negotiate for a naval force. On his return, he was made partial comptroller of the customs of London, and was granted a daily allowance of a pitcher of wine from the king's table. He was again employed on a diplomatic mission to France in 1377, the year in which Edward III. died. Chaucer, in the mean time, had married Philippa Rouet, one of the queen's maids of honor, whose sister was the wife of a great noble -John of Gaunt, "time-honored Lancaster." This high connection secured for Chaucer the favor of the new king, Richard II., by whom he was repeatedly employed on important commissions in various parts of the kingdom. Richard was deposed in 1399; but his successor, Henry IV., the son of the Duke of Lancaster, being closely related to Chaucer by marriage, treated him with additional favor, and granted him a large increase of pension. Chaucer died in 1400, at a house which he had leased in Westminster, and was buried in the Abbey-the first of the long line of poets whose ashes make the edifice illustrious. He appears to have been an adherent of the doctrines of the reformer Wycliffe, and to have been occasionally persecuted in consequence; so that, for some years, he was an exile in France and Denmark. He resided in the latter years of his life at Woodstock, and subsequently at Donnington Castle, where he wrote his latest and greatest work, "The Canterbury Tales." The plan of this was modelled upon the "Decameron" of Boccaccio. It represents a company of twenty-nine pilgrims on their way to the shrine of Thomas à Becket at Canterbury, assembling at the Tabard Inn in Southwark, and agreeing each to tell a tale in going and returning; he who should tell the best tale to be treated by the others with a supper at the

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inn. The characters composing this party are exceedingly well drawn in the Prologue to the Tales, which we copy in full, and which is undoubtedly the best and most characteristic part of the work. Several of the tales have been paraphrased by Dryden and Pope; and in this volume, among the selections from Dryden, will be found his versions of "The Knight's Tale," "The Wife of Bath's Tale," and the character of the Good Parson.

Chaucer was a man of the world, as well as a. student; a soldier, courtier, and diplomatist, and all his life employed in affairs of importance and difficulty, during one of the most brilliant and also one of the most disastrous periods of English history. He began his public career in the warlike and magnificent reign of Edward III., and ended it amid the convulsions and misfortunes of that of Richard II. He had consequently a vast and varied experience of men and of affairs when in the calm evening of his life, at the age of sixty, he composed his Canterbury Tales in the quiet repose of his country home. This work affords a good idea of his character. Like Shakespeare, he seems to have possessed a cheerful and benignant disposition, fond of mirth and joviality, yet studious in the midst of a busy life. He had a keen sense of the ludicrous, and a fine capacity for comic delineation. He hated fraud and superstition, and satirized them keenly, though always with good nature.

The latest critic of Chaucer, M. Taine, in his "History of English Literature," describes him as a poet "who, by his genius, education, and life, was enabled to know and to depict a whole world; but, above all, to satisfy the chivalric world and the splendid courts which shone upon the heights. He belonged to it, though learned and versed in all branches of scholastic knowledge; and he took such part in it that his life from end to end was that of a man of the world, and a man of action. . . . Like Froissart-better than he-Chaucer could depict the character of the nobles, their mode of life, their amours, even other things, and please them by his portraiture.... Beyond the two notable characteristics which settle his place in his age and school of poetry, there are others which take him out of his age and school. If he was romantic and gay like the rest, it was after a fashion of his own. He observes characters, notes their dif ferences, studies the coherence of their parts, and endeavors to bring forward living and distinct persons-a thing unheard of in his time, but which the renovators in the sixteenth century, and first among them Shakespeare, will do afterward. It is the English good sense and aptitude for seeing the inside of things begin. ning to appear."



WHANNE that April with his shoures sote1
The droughte of March hath perced to the rote,
And bathed every vetne in swiche' licour,
Of whichevertue engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus ele with his sote brethe
Enspired hath in every hole and hethe
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours yronne,
And smale foules maken melodie,
That slepen alle night with open eye,
So priketh hem Nature in hir corages;
Than longen folk to gon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken strange strondes,
To serve halwes couthe' in sondry londes ;
And specially, from every shires ende

Of Englelond, to Canterbury they wende,
The holy blisful martyr for to seke,

That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seke. His hors was good, but he ne was not gaie.

Of fustian he wered a gipon,21

Befelle, that, in that seson on a day,
In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay,
Redy to wenden on my pilgrimage
To Canterbury with devoute corage,
At night was come into that hostelrie
Wel nine and twenty in a compagnie
Of sondry folk, by aventure yfalle
In felawship, and pilgrimes were they alle,
That toward Canterbury wolden ride.
The chambres and the stables weren wide,
And wel we weren esed' atte beste.


And shortly, whan the sonne was gon to reste,
So hadde I spoken with hem everich on,8
That I was of hir felawship anon,
And made forword erly for to rise,
To take oure way ther as I you devise.

But natheles, while I have time and space,
Or that I forther in this tale pace,
Me thinketh it accordant to reson,
To tellen you alle the condition
Of eche of hem, so as it semed me,
And whiche they weren, and of what degre;
And eke in what araie that they were inne :
And at a knight than wol I firste beginne.

A knight ther was, and that a worthy man,
That fro the time that he firste began
To riden out, he loved chevalrie,
Trouthe and honour, fredom and curtesie.
Ful worthy was he in his lordes werre,
And therto hadde he ridden, no man ferre,10
As wel in Cristendom as in Hethenesse,
And ever honoured for his worthinesse.

Aboven alle nations in Pruce.

In Lettowe hadde he reysed 13 and in Ruce,.
No cristen man so ofte of his degre.

In Gernade 14 at the siege eke hadde he be
Of Algesir, and ridden in Belmarie.15
At Leyes 16 was he, and at Satalie,17


Whan they were wonne; and in the Grete see
At many a noble armee hadde he be.
At mortal batailles hadde he ben fiftene,
And foughten for our faith at Tramissene
In listes thries, and ay slain his fo.

This ilke worthy knight hadde ben also
Somtime with the lord of Palatie,19
Agen another hethen in Turkie :
And evermore he hadde a sovereine pris.
And though that he was worthy he was wise,
And of his port as meke as is a mayde.
He never yet no vilanie ne sayde
In alle his lif, unto no manere 20 wight.
He was a veray parfit gentil knight.

But for to tellen you of his araie,


At Alisandre he was whan it was wonne. Ful often time he hadde the bord begonne 19

4 Birds.

1 Sweet.

2 Such. 3 Grove. • Known. • Fallen. 7 Accommodated. 8 Every one of them. Their. 10 Farther. 11 I. e., in A. D. 1865, by Pierre de Lusignan, King of Cyprus, who, however, immediately abandoned it.

12 I. e., he had been placed at the head of the table; the usual compliment to extraordinary merit. When our military men wanted employment, it was usual for them to go and serve in Pruse, or Prussia, with the knights of the Teutonic order, who were in a state of constant warfare with their heathen neighbours in Lettow (Lithuania), Ruse (Russia), and elsewhere. A pagan King of Lettow is mentioned by Walsingham, pp. 180, 348.-Tyrwhitt.

Alle besmotred" with his habergeon,
For he was late ycome fro his viage,23
And wente for to don his pilgrimage.

With him ther was his sone a yonge squier,
A lover, and a lusty bacheler,
With lockes crull 24 as they were laide in presse.
Of twenty yere of age he was I gesse.
Of his stature he was of even lengthe,
And wonderly deliver, 25 and grete of strengthe.
And he hadde be somtime in chevachie,
In Flaundres, in Artois, and in Picardie,
And borne him wel, as of so litel space,
In hope to stonden in his ladies grace.

Embrouded was he, as it were a mede
Alle ful of freshe floures, white and rede.
Singing he was, or floyting 26 alle the day,
He was as freshe, as is the moneth of May.
Short was his goune, with sleves long and wide.
Wel coude he sitte on hors, and fayre ride.
He coude songes make, and wel endite,
Juste and eke dance, and wel pourtraie and write.
So hote he loved, that by nightertale "7
He slep no more than doth the nightingale.
Curteis he was, lowly, and.servisable,
And carf before his fader at the table.28

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