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on ill terms.

On the 1st of December Chaucer was dismissed from his offices of Comptroller of Wool, Woolfells, and Leather, and of Comptroller of Petty Customs, and others were appointed in his places. The loss of his emoluments reduced the poet from affluence to poverty, and we find him raising money upon his two pensions of 20 marks, which on the 1st of May, 1388, were cancelled and assigned to John Scalby. To add to his trouble his wife died in 1389. Richard, in 1387, dismissed his · council and took the reins of government into his own hands ; the Lancastrian party were restored to power, and Chaucer was appointed Clerk of the King's Works at Westminster, at a salary of 25. a-day, about 17. of our money. The next year he was made Clerk of the King's Works for repairing St. George's Chapel at Windsor. But these appointments were of short duration. In another year he either retired or was superseded, and for the next three years his only income was his annuity of 10l. from the Duke of Lancaster, and an allowance of 40s., payable halfyearly, for robes as the king's esquire.

On the 28th of July, 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, it is supposed that he was labouring under sickness or infirmity, for it does not appear that he was absent from London t.

The Parliament of 1386 compelled Richard to appoint a commission to enquire into the state of the subsidies and customs. The commissioners began their duties in November, and the removal of certain officers may be attributed to their investigations.

Chaucer appears to allude to his pecuniary difficulties in the following verses To his Empty Purse :

To yow, my Purse, and to noon other wight,
Complayn I, for ye be my lady dere;

I am so sory now that ye been lyght,
For, certes, but yf ye make me hevy chere,
Me were as leef be layd upon my bere.

In 1398 (May 4) letters of protection were issued to Chaucer, forbidding any one, for the term of two years, to sue or arrest him on any plea except it were connected with land. Five months later (Oct. 18) the king made him 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 20l. which had been given him by Richard II.

On Christmas Eve, 1399, the poet covenanted for the lease, for 53 years (a curious agreement for a man in his 71st 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 1st, 1400.

Chaucer had two sons, Lewis, who died young, to whom he addressed his treatise on the Astrolabe, and Thomas, who attained to immense wealth, and whose great-grandson, John de la Pole (Earl of Lincoln), was declared by Richard III heirapparent to the throne.

In the Prologue to the Rime of Sir Thopas ", we have pro-
For whiche unto your mercy thus I crye,

Beeth hevy ayeyne or elles moote I dye,
Now voucheth sauf this day or hyt be nyhte,
That I of yow the blissful soune may here,
Or see your colour lyke the sonne bryghte,
That of yelownesse hadde never pere;
Ye be my lyfe, ye be myn hertys stere.
Quene of comfort and good companye
Beth hevy ayeyne, or elles moote I dye.
Now Purse, that art to me my lyves lyghte,

And saveour, as doun in this worlde here,

Oute of this toune help me thurgh your myghte,

Syn that ye wole nat bene my tresorere,

For I am shave as nye as is a frere,

But I pray unto your curtesye

Beth hevy ayeyne, or elles moote I dye.'

'Oure host to japen he began,

And than at erst he loked upon me

And saydë thus, "What man art thou?" quod he;

bably a faithful picture of Chaucer's personal appearance, agreeing in many points with his portrait by Occlevex. 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 weirdy 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 hard-working 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 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.'

But the personality of Chaucer is obscured by the essentially dramatic spirit which pervades nearly the whole of his works; and consequently we have but few opportunities of judging correctly of the poet's peculiar views, feelings, and tastes. His ardent love of Nature, finely apostrophised by the poet as 'the vicar of the "Thou lokest as thou woldest fynde an hare,

For ever upon the ground I se the stare;
Approche ner, and loke merily.

Now ware you, sires, and let this man have space,
He in the waste is schape as wel as I ;
This were a popet in an arme to embrace
For any womman, smal and fair of face.
He semeth elvisch by his countenaunce,

For unto no wight doth he daliaunce."

* This is a coloured portrait found in the margin of Occleve's work De Regimine Principum' in Harl. MS. 4866.

y Tyrwhitt renders elvish by 'shy.'

Almighty Lord,' is everywhere apparent. What is more spontaneous and characteristic of the poet than such joyous outbursts as the following:

'Herknith these blisful briddes how they synge,

And seth these freissche floures how they springe;
Ful is myn hert of revel and solaas.'

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 2.

Not less evident is Chaucer's high estimation of woman and his 'perception of a sacred bond, spiritual and indestructible, in true marriage between man and woman".' Of all the flowers in the mead the daisy, 'the emperice and floure of floures alle,' was Chaucer's favourite, because to him it was the fit representative of the trouthe of womanhede.'

As Mr. Morley has well remarked, 'Ditties in praise of the Marguerite, or daisy, were popular with the French fashionable poets; but none of them, like Chaucer, among all their allegorical dreamings, ever dreamed of celebrating in that flower an emblem of womanly truth and purity, wearing its crown as a gentle, innocent, devoted wife.'

Though Chaucer was so intimately connected with the court, and enjoyed no small share of courtly favours, he protested nobly and fearlessly against the popular opinion that churls or villains, in the legal sense of the term, that is, persons of plebeian rank, were necessarily prone to be guilty of base and unworthy actions; and

Z And as for me, though that I konne but lyte (little),

On bokes for to rede I me delyte,

And to hem yive (give) I feyth and ful credence,

And in myn herte have hem in reverence

So hertely that there is game noon,

That for my bokes maketh me to goon,

But yt be seldom on the holy day,

Save, certeynly, whan that the monethe of May
Is comen, and that I here the foules synge,
And that the floures gynnen for to sprynge,
my boke, and my devocioun !'


(Legende of Goode Women, II. 29 -39.) a See Morley's English Writers, vol. ii. pp. 135, 256, 286.

at the present day we can hardly appreciate the boldness which made him assert more than once that the true test of gentility is nobleness of life and courtesy of manners, and not mere ancestral rank.

As we have already said, Chaucer's great work, the Canterbury Tales, was not written till after the year 1386. His earlier literary productions were mostly translations, or imitations from foreign sources, chiefly Latin and French, and have therefore but little claim to originality, except so far as he altered or added to his originals; but even in these efforts there are many excellences and traces of the poet's genius, especially of his great power over language, which made his ability as a translator known and highly appreciated by his literary contemporaries. Francis Eustace Deschamps, in a 'Ballade à Geoffroi Chaucer,' speaks of him in the warmest terms of praise as 'grant translator, noble Geoffroy Chaucier!' But it is to the Canterbury Tales that Chaucer


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But undirstonde in thyn entente
That this is not myn entendement,
To clepe no wight in noo ages
Oonly gentille for his lynages.
But whoso is vertuous,

And in his post nought outrageous,

Whanne sich oon thou seest thee biforn,

Though he be not gentille born,

Thou mayst wel seyn, this is in soth,

That he is gentil, bycause he doth

As longeth to a gentilman ;

Of hem noon other deme I can,

For certeynly withouten drede (doubt),
A cherle is demed by his dede,

Of hie or lowe, as ye may see,

Or of what kynrede that he bee.'

(Romaunt of the Rose, 11. 2187-2202.)

'Lok who that is most vertous alway,

Prive and pert (open), and most entendith aye
To do the gentil dedes that he can,

Tak him for the grettest gentilman.

Crist wol we clayme of him oure gentilesse,
Nought of our eldres for her olde richesse.'

(The Wife of Bath's Tale.)

c The chief minor works of Chaucer are:-The Court of Love; The Romaunt of the Rose (a translation of the Roman de la Rose), a work in

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