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next year (1390) he was also appointed Clerk of the Works at St. George's Chapel, Windsor, and made one of a Commission to repair the Thames Banks between Woolwich and Greenwich, but was superseded in 1391. In 14 Rich. II (June, 1390-1), he was appointed joint Forester, with Rd. Brittle, of North Petherton Park in Somerset, by the Earl of March. He had besides, iol. yearly from the Duke of Lancaster, and 40s. as the king's esquire. In a writ, dated July 1, 1390, Chaucer is allowed the costs of putting up scaffolds in Smithfield for the King and Queen to see the jousts which took place in May, 1390. Compare this with Kn. Tale, 1023-1034. In Sept., 1390, he was robbed, at Westminster, of iol. of the King's money, and of 91. 35. 8d. near the 'foule ok' (foul oak) at Hatcham, Surrey; but the repayment of it was forgiven him. In 1391 Chaucer translated and compiled his Treatise on the Astrolabe, for his 'little son’ Lewis. This was probably followed by his Fortune, Gentilesse, Lak of Stedfastnesse, his Envoys to Skogan and Bukton, the Compleynt of Venus, and his Compleynt to his Purse (in Sept. 1399).
On the 28th of Feb., 1394, Chaucer obtained a grant from the king of 20l. a-year for life, payable half-yearly at Easter and Michaelmas; but at this time the poet appears to have been in very distressed circumstances, for we find him making application for advances from the Exchequer on account of his annuity, and as these were not always made to him personally during the next few years, he was probably ill. In 21 Rich. II (June, 1397–8), Alianor, Countess of March, made him sole Forester of North Petherton in Somerset.
In Easter Term, 1398, Isabella Buckholt sued Chaucer for 141. Is. IId. The sheriff twice returned the poet as inventus, though in 1398 (May 4) letters of protection were issued to Chaucer forbidding any one, for the term of twoyears, to sue or arrest him on any plea except it were connected with land. Five months later (Oct. 15) the king made hiin a grant of a tun of wine a-year for life. Next year Henry Bolingbroke, son of John of Gaunt, supplanted his cousin Richard, and within four days after he came to the throne Chaucer's pension of 20 marks was
doubled-in addition to the annuity of 201. which had been given him by Richard Il--doubtless in answer to the poet's Compleynt of his poverty t, which was addressed to Henry IV, and hailed him as 'verray King by lyne and free eleccioun.'
On Christmas Eve, 1399, the poet covenanted for the lease for fifty-three years (a long agreement for a man in his fiftyninth year to make), of a house in the garden of the Chapel of St. Mary, Westminster, where it is probable that he ended his days. The date (Oct. 25, 1400) assigned to his death by Nicholas Brigham is corroborated by the entries in the Issue Rolls, no note of payment being found after March ist, 1400.
Thus on the bank of the noble river by which he was born and bred, on which for years his daily life was spent, our great early poet passed away. As he was at least sixty when he died, he was justly entitled to the epithets old and reverent, applied to him by his contemporaries Gower and Hoccleveu.
Chaucer had one son, Lewis, who probably died young, to
t 'To yow, my Purse, and to non other wight,
Compleyne I, for ye be my lady dere;
Now voucheth sauf this day, or hit be night,
Now Purs, that art to me my lyves light,
(Chaucer's Minor Poems, ed. Skeat, p. 210.) u Leland says that Chaucer ' lived to the period of grey hairs, and at length found old age his greatest disease.' In Hoccleve's portrait of the poet he is represented with grey hair and beard.
whom he addressed his treatise on the Astrolabe in 1391. There is no evidence whatever that Thomas Chaucer, who attained to immense wealth, and whose great-grandson, John de la Pole (Earl of Lincoln), was declared by Richard III heir-apparent to the throne, was Chaucer's son, though he may have been a relative.
In the Prologue to The Rime of Sir Thopas, we have probably a faithful picture of Chaucer's personal appearance in 1388, agreeing in some points with his later portrait by Hocclevea. In person he was corpulent, and, like his host of the Tabard, “a large man,' and no 'poppet'to embrace; but his face was small, fair, and intelligent, his eye downcast and meditative, but dazed by age and study. Altogether, he had an elvish'or weird b expression of countenance, which attracted the attention of those who came into contact with him for the first time, and with whom he seems to have been reserved and reticent. His extensive acquirements and voluminous writings show that he was a hardworking student; from incidental allusions in The House of Fame, we learn that when his labours and 'reckonings' at the Custom House were over, and he returned home, instead of rest and novelties he sat and pored over his books until his eyes were 'dased' and dull; and often at night an aching head followed the making of books, songs, and ditties.' So absorbed was he in
Our hoste iapen tho began,
Approchë neer, and loke up merily.
For unto no wight doth he daliaunce." ^ This is a coloured portrait found in the margin of Hoccleve's work ‘De Regimine Principum'in Harl. MS. 4866. Other MSS. contain other paintings of Chaucer; but the care bestowed on the Harleian one, which really looks like a portrait, has made critics believe it a genu likeness.
b Tyrwhitt renders elvish by 'shy.'
his studies, that for the time neither foreign affairs, his neighbours' gossip, ‘nor anything else that God had made,' had any interest for him. Hermit-like though he lived, Chaucer was not naturally a recluse, and still less an ascetic: given more to observe than to talk, he loved good and pleasant society, and to sit at the festive board ; for, as he himself tells us, ‘his abstinence was but little.'
Though an essentially dramatic spirit pervades nearly the whole of his works, yet Chaucer is above all things a narrator, and we must reckon him among the objective and not the subjective poets; among the epic, of Goethe's threefold division of all poets into epic, dramatic, and lyrical. Yet he is subjective, lyrical, too. Chaucer himself is in all his original works: hopeless and sad in his early poems, bright and humourful in his later ones, poorand suppliant in his last. Among his chief characteristics are his delightfulfreshness and simplicity, his roguish genial humour-he was full of quaint fun-his heartfelt love of nature, his tender pathos, his knowledge of women-the naughty he quizzed in most happy style, and the good he honoured and praised with all his might-his love of his dear old books, his power of lifelike portraiture, his admirable story-telling, and the perfection of his verse. "His best tales run on like one of our inland rivers, sometimes hastening a little and țurning upon themselves in eddies that dimple without retarding the current; sometimes loitering smoothly, while here and there a quiet thought, a tender feeling, a pleasant image, a goldenhearted verse, opens quietly as a water-lily, to float on the surface without breaking it into ripple. Chaucer's ardent love of Nature, finely apostrophised by the poet as 'the vicar of the Almighty Lord,' is everywhere apparent. What is more spontaneous and characteristic of the poet than such joyous outbursts as the following ?-
“Herkneth thise blisful briddës how they singe,
(Nonne Prestes Tale, 11. 381-383.) Prof. J. R. Lowell's essay, in his · My Study Windows,' p. 87,--a book that every Chaucer student should buy and read.
Even his love and reverence for books gave way before an eager desire to enjoy the beauties of nature in that season of the year when all around him was manifesting life and loveliness d.
Not less evident is Chaucer's high estimation of women, and his perception of a sacred bond, spiritual and indestructible, in true marriage between man and woman e' Of all the flowers in the mead, the daisy, 'the emperice and four of floures alle, was Chaucer's favourite, because to him it was the fit representative of the trouthe of womanhede'; Good Wom. 185, 297.
* And as for me, thogh that I can but lyte (little),
(Legend of Good Women, ed. Skeat, p. 3, ll. 29–39.)
The Marchaundes Tale; 41, 67, 75, 86. See Morley's English Writers, vol. ii. pp. 135, 256, 286.