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And robbede and destrude, and cytes vaste
yt ys. “Of serue yt wel agen God, and ylef me ys messager, “And Poussall py wylle abyde, as yeham ytold her.” As hyskyng herofawoc, and of pys syste . Pozote, Hys vyssares come to hym, & so gret won of fyss hymbroxte, }at wonder yt was, & oie vor pe weder was so colde. }o ljuede je god man wel, pat Seyn Cutbert addeytold. InDeuenyssyreperafteraryuede of Deneys ; & tuentyssypuolmen, allagen pepeys, e kynge's broper of Denemarch duc of Ost was. Oure kynge's men of Engelond mette hem by cas, And smyte per an batayle, and her gret duc slowe, And eyāte hondred & fourty men, & her caronyes to drowe. Pokyng Alfred hurde pys, ys herte gladede po, Patlond folc to hym come so pycke soyt myzote go, Of Somersete, of Wyltessyre, of Hamtessyre perto, Euere ashewende,and of ys owe folcal so. So Fat he adde poer ynou, and atte laste hii come, And a batayle at Edendone agen pe Deneys nome, Wol. I,
O, And ow. see in France dude wel muche wo. 3ut be ssrewen come agen, and muche wo here wroxte. Ac be kyng Alfred atte laste to ssame hem euere brožte. Kyng Alfred was pewysost kynx, pat long was byuore. Vorpey me segge pelawes be] in worre tyme worlore, Nas yt noxt so his daye. vor pey he in worre were, Lawes he made ryxtuollore, and strengore paner were. Clerc he was god ynou, and 3 ut, as me tellep me, He was more pan ten 3er old, ar he coupe ys abece. Acysgode moder ofte smale xyftes hym tok, Vor to byleue oper ple, and loky on ys boke. So pat by por clergyeys ryxt lawes he wonde, - pat neuere er mere y mad, to gouerny Ys lond. And vor pe worre was so muche of pe luper Deneys, he men of pys sulue lond were of pe worse peys. And robbede and slowe opere, peruor he byuonde, }at per were hondredes in eche contreye of ys lond, And in echtoune of pehondred a tehynge were also, .. And hat ech man wyboute gret lond in tebynge were ydo, Ç
large and fullegret, and holt in roundnesse mates strecchen hem envytounynge the | and aboute envyroun, be aboven and be be- world. nethen 20425 myles,'aftre the opynyoun of - o the old wise astronomeres. And here sey- - o enges I repreve noughte. But aftre my II. And I John Maundevyle knyghte lytylle wyt, it semethe me savynge here aboveseyd, (alle thoughe Ibe unworthi) reverence, that it is more. And for to that departed from our contrees and have bettere understondynge, Iseye thus, passed the see, the zeer of grace 1322. be ther ymagyned a figure, that hathe a that have passed manye londes and manye gret compas; and aboute the poynt of yles and contrees, and cerched manye the gret compas, that is clept the centre, fulle straunge places, and have ben in be made another litille compas : than manye a fulle gode honourable comaftre, be the gret compass devised be lines panye, and at manye a faire dede of in manye parties; and that alle the lynes armes, (alle be it that I dide none my: meeten at the centre; so that in als manye self, for myn unable insuffisance) now I parties, as the grete compas schal be de- am comen hom (mawgree my self) to parted, in als manye, schalle be departed reste: for gowtes, artetykes, that me the litille, that is aboute the centre, alle distreynen, tho diffymen the ende of my be it, that the spaces ben lesse. Now labour, azenst my wille (God knowethe.) thanne, be the gret compas represented . And thus takynge solace in my wrecched for the firmament, and the litille compas reste, recordynge the tyme passed, I have represented for the erthe. Now thanne fulfilled theise thinges and putte hem the firmament is devysed, be astrono- wryten in this boke, as it wolde come meres, in 12 signes; and every signe is in to my mynde, the zeer of grace 1336 devysed in 30 degrees, that is 360 de- in the 34 zeer that I departede from oute grees, that the firmament hathe aboven. contrees. Wherfore spreye to alle the Also, be the erthe devysed in als manye rederes and hereres of this boke, zif it parties, as the firmament; and lat every plese hem, that thei wolde preyen to partye answere to a degree of the firma- God for me: and Ischalle preye for hem. ment: and wytethe it wel, that aftre the And alle tho that seyn for me a Pater auctoures of astronomye, 700 furlonges of noster, with an Ave Maria, that God forarthe answeren to a degree of the firma-' zeve me my synnes, "I make hem partment; and tho ben 87 miles and 4 fur- neres and graunte hem part of alle the longes. Now be that here multiplyed gode pilgrymages and of alle the gode be 360 sithes; and than theiben 315000 dedes, that I have don, zifony be to his myles, every of 8 furlonges, aftre myles' plesance: and noghie only of tho, but of oure contree. So moche hath the erthe of alle that evere I schalle do unto my in roundnesse, and of heghte enviroun, lyses ende. And I beseche Almyghty aftre myn opynyoun and myn undir-i God, fro whom alle godenesse and grace stondynge. And zee schulle undirstonde, comethe fro, that he voucehsaf, of his that aftre the opynyoun of olde wise phi-x excellent mercy and habundant grace, to losophres and astronomeres, oure con- fulle fylle hire soules with inspiracioun tree ne Irelond ne Wales ne Scotlond ne' of the Holy Gost, in makynge defence of Norweyenetheotherylescostyngetohem; alle hire gostly enemyes here in eruhe, to ne ben not in the superficyalte cownted hire salvacioun, both of body and soule; aboven the erthe; as it schewethe be allel to worschipe and thankynge of him, tha' the bokes of astronomye. For the su-' is three and on, withouten begynnyng perficialtee of the erthe is departed in 7 and withouten endynge; that is, with parties, for the 7 planetes: and tho parties' outen qualitee, good, and withoaue ben clept clymates. And oure parties quantytee, gret; that in alle places be not of the 7 clymates: for theiben present, and alle thinges contenyngo descendynge toward the West. And the whiche that no goodnesse m also these yles of Ynde, which beth amende, ne non evelle empeyre; that evene azenst us, beth noght reckned in perfeyte trynytee lyvethe and regnet the clymates: for theiben azenst us, that God, be alle worldes and be all tym ben in the lowe contree. And the 7 cly- Amen, Amen, Amen.
The first of our authors, who can be properly said to have written English, was Sir John Gower, who, in his Comsession of a Lover, calls Chaucer his disciple, and may therefore be looked upon as the father of our poetry.
Nowe for to speke of the commune,
Wpon a bank, er men be ware,
Geoffry Chaucer, who may, perhaps, with great justice, be styled the first of ous versifiers who wrote poetically. He does not, however, appear to have deserved all the praise which he has received, or all the censure that he has suffered. Dryden, who, mistaking genius for learning, and in confidence of his abilities, ventured to write of what he had not examined, ascribes to Chaucer the first refinement of our numbers, the first production of easy and natural rhymes, and the improvement of our language, by words borrowed from the more polished languages of the continent. Skinner contrarily blames him in harsh terms for having vitiated his native speech by whole cartloads of foreign words. But he that reads the works of Gower will find smooth numbers and easy rhymes, of which Chaucer is supposed to have been the inventor, and the French words, whether good or bad, of which Chaucer is charged as the importer. Some innovations he might probably make, like others, in the infancy of our poetry, which the paucity of books does not allow us to discover with particular exactness; but the works of Gower and Lydgate sufficiently evince, that his diction was in general like that of his contemporaries: and some improvements he undoubtedly made by the various dispositions of his rhymes, and by the mixture of different numbers, in which he seems to have been happy and judicious. I have selected several specimens both of his prose and verse; and among them, part of his translation of Boetius, to which another version, made in the time of queen Mary, is opposed. It would be improper to quote very sparingly an author of so much reputation, or to make very large extracts from a book so generally known.
comen unwarely upon me, hasted by the harmes that I have, and sorowe hath commaunded his age to be in me. Heres hore aren shad overtimeliche upon my hed: and the slacke skinne trembleth of mine empted bodie. Thilke deth of men is welefull, that he ne cometh not in yeres that be swete, but cometh to wretches often icleped Alas, alas! with how defe an ere deth cruell turneth awaie fro wretches, and naieth for to close wepyng eyen. faithfull favoured me with light godes, that sorowfull houre, that is to saie, the deth, had almoste drente myne hedde: but now for fortune cloudie hath chaunged her decevable, chere to mewarde, myne unpitous life draweth along ungreable dwellynges. O ye my frendes, what, or whereto avaunted ye me to ben welfull 2 For he that hath fallin, stode in no stedfast degre.
While fortune un- .
rowe. Whiche muses no feare without. doute could ouercome, but that they wold folow me in my iourney of exile or . banishment. Sometyme the ioye of happy and lusty delectable youth dyd comfort me, and nowe the course of sorowfull olde age causeth me to reioyse. For hasty old age vnloked for is come vpon me with al her incommodities and euyls, and sorowe hath commaunded and broughte me into the same old age, that is to say: that sorowe causeth me to be olde, before my time come of olde age. The hoer heares do growe vntimely vpon my heade, and my reuiled skynne trembleth my flesh, cleane consumed and waste with sorowe. Mannes death is happy, that cometh not in youth, when a man is lustye, and in pleasure or welth: but in time of aduersitie, when it is often desyred. Alas Alas howe dull and deffe
be the eares of cruel death wnto men in
misery that would fayne dye : and yet,
, refusythe to come and shutte vp theyr
carefull wepyng eyes. , Whiles that false fortune fauoryd me with her transitorye
goodes, then the howre of death had al
most ouercome me. That is to say deathe was redy to oppresse me when I
was in prosperitie. Nowe for by cause that fortune beynge turned, from prospe
ritie into aduersitie (as the clere day is
darkyd with cloudes) and hath chaungyd
her deceyuable countenaunce: my wretched life is yet prolonged, and doth continue in dolour. "O my frendes, why haue you so often bosted me, sayinge that I was happy when I had honor possessions riches, and authoritie whych be transitory thynges. He that hath fallen
was in no stedefast degre.
WHYLES that I considerydde pryuylye with my selfe the thynges before sayd, and descrybed my wofull complaynte after the maner and offyce of a wrytter, me thought I sawe a woman stand ouer my head of a reuerend countenaunce, hauyng quycke and glysteryng clere eye, aboue the common sorte of men in lyuely and delectable coloure, and ful of strength, although she semed so olde that by no meanes she is thought to be one of this oure tyme, her stature is of douteful knowledge, for nowe she shewethe herselfe at the commen length or statur of men, and other whiles she semeth so high, as though she touched heuen with the crown of her hed. And when she wold stretch fourth her hed hygher, it