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appropriated his rents.” Perhaps it was at this time he addressed these verses to his purse:

“ TO MY PURSE.
“To you, my purse, and to none other wight,

Complain I, for ye be my lady dere;
I am sorry now that ye be light,
For certes, now ye make me heavy chere:
Me were as lefe be laid upon a bere,
For which unto your mercy thus I crie,
Be heavy again, or else mote I die.
“Now vouchsafe this day, or it be night
That I of you the blissful sound may here,
Or see your color like the sunne bright;
That of yellownesse had never peere,
Ye are my life, ye be my herte's stere,
I ween of comfort and good companie,
Be heavy again, or else mote I die.
"Now purse, thou art to me my live's light
And saviour, as downe in this world here;
Out of this town helpe me by your might;
Sith that you will not be my treasure,
For I am slave as nere as any frere,
But I pray unto your curtesie,

Be heavy again, or else mote I die." Literature had been confined to the monasteries, but Chaucer was a good-humored man of the world, a traveller, courtier, and scholar, and brought it to the market. The best part of his life was given to the translation of poems from the French and Italian, and it was not until the age of sixty that he commenced the “Canterbury Tales,” to which he owes his fame. They were never finished, but the story-tellers are talking yet, and their voices, echoing from the past, tell us how the Englishman of the fourteenth century spoke, dressed, and acted, giving, with more fidelity than any painting, the follies, vices, and customs of the age.

“Old England's fathers live in Chaucer's lay
As if they ne'er had died. He grouped and drew
Their likeness with a spirit of life so gay,
That still they live and breathe in fancy's view,

Fresh beings, fraught with time's imperishable hue." Chaucer's plan was to describe in narrative poetry the men and manners of his day. This he does in his rugged tongue, with much quiet humor and keen satire, marred at times by the coarseness then too common.

Lowell says of him : “His narrative flows on like one of our inland rivers, sometimes hastening a little in its eddies, seeming to run sunshine — sometimes gliding smoothly, while here and there a beautiful, quiet thought, a pure feeling, a golden-hearted verse, opens as quietly as a water-lily, and makes no ripple.”

He represents a company of pilgrims on a visit to the shrine of Thomas à Becket at Canterbury. They all happen to lodge at the Tabard Inn, at Southwark-strangers to each other, thirty-two in number, if we include the story-teller himself, and the jolly, corpulent host of the Tabard, Harry Bailey, who, having often travelled the road before, proposes to go with them as guide, and at the same time suggests that the journey would seem less tedious if each were to tell a story as they ride—a supper to be given on their return to the one who had been most enter. taining

In Southwark, at the Tabard as I lay,
Redy to wenden on my pilgrimage
To Canterbury, with full devout corage,
At night was come into that hostelrie,

and twenty in a compayne
Of sondry folks, by aventure i falle
In felawschipe, and pilgrims were they alle,

That toward Canterbury wolden ryde.” This simple plot is the string upon which these pleasant stories are strung, and the number of personages in

Wel nyne

this motley but attractive cavalcade gave the poet a fine opportunity to describe the various classes of society. Every member of the party has a separate and individual interest, each character is a perfect picture in itself, each traveller represents a class, and in the entire company the whole society of that age stands again before us just as it was.

The Tabard Inn, under the name of Talbot, is still pointed out in London, opposite Spurgeon's Tabernacle, as the very place where these pilgrims met five hundred years ago. But this seems rather improbable, as I write it, so I will add “they say," and a hope that you and I may some day see that venerable “ hostelrie."

As examples of our poet's humor, satire, and power, we have here a lawyer described as the busiest of mortals, with the sly addition,

“And yet he seemed besier than he was;"

and, after an imposing list of the doctor's medical authorities, a droll line tells us that his study was but “ litel on the Bible.” But his severest satire is reserved for the monks and priests, with whom he is no more in love than when he beat the friar in Fleet Street, and their hypocrisy and lack of spirituality are described with zest.

He tells us of a "gentil pardonere" or seller of indulgences, who, brimful of pardons, came from Rome all hot, who carried in his wallet the Virgin Mary's veil, and a part of the sail of St. Peter's ship, and in a glass he had "pigges bones” for relics, and with these he made more money in a day than the poor parson did in two months.

His description of the parson, a simple man of God, is considered one of the best ::

“A good man there was of religion,
That was a poore parson of a town,
But rich he was of holy thought and werk;

He was also a learned man, a clerk,
That Christe's gospel truly woulde preach:
His parishens devoutly would he teach.
Benign he was and wonder diligent,
And in adversity full patient.
Wide was his parish, and houses far asunder,
But he ne left nought, for no rain nor thunder,
In sickness and in mischief to visit
The farthest in his parish much and lite,
Upon his feet, and in his hands a staff;
This noble ensample to his sheep he yaf,
That first he wrought and afterward he taught.
To drawen folk to heaven with fairness,
By good ensample, was bis business;
But it were any person obstinate,
What so he were of high or low estate,
Him would he snibben sharply for the nones;
A better priest I trow that no where none is.
Ile waited after no pomp or reverence;
He maked him no spiced conscience;
But Christe's lore and his apostles twelve
He taught, but first he followed it himselve."

I would like to give you the whole description of the pretty Prioresse

“That of her smiling was full simple and coy."
“Full well she sang the service divine,

Entuned in her nose full sweetly.

At meate was she well y-taught withal,
She let no morsel from her lippes fall.

But for to speaken of her conscience,
She was so charitable and pitous,
She would weep, if that she saw a mouse
Caught in a trap, if it were dead or bled;
Of smale hownds, had she that she fed
With wasted flesh and milk and wastel bread,
But sore wept she if one of them were dead;
Or if men smote it with a yerde smart,
And all was conscience and tender heart."

Though she had renounced the world and its pleasures, she had not given up all womanly love for ornaments, for

“Of smale corall about hire arm she bare
A pair of bedes gauded all with grene,
And thereon hung a broche of gold ful shene,
On whiche was first y-written a crowned A,

And after, Amor vincit omnia." How different is his description of the wife of Bath, a plain, vulgar, full-faced, well-dressed dame, who rode her horse like a man; had spurs on her feet, and a hat on her head as “broad as a buckler :"

“In all the parish, wif ne was there none
That to the offring bifore hire shulde gon;
And if there did, certain so wroth was she
That she was out of alle charite.
Her coverchiefs (head-dress) weren ful fine of ground,
I dorse swere they weyden a pound,
That on the Sonday were upon hire hede;
Her hosen weren of fine scarlet rede.
Full straite iteyed, and shoon ful moist and newe;
Bold was hire face, and fayre, and red of hew.
She was a worthy woman all hire live,

Husbands at chirche dore, had she had five.” But of course I do no justice to these mental photographs by clipping here and there, and you will enjoy looking up these shrewd and skilful pictures. The original plan of Chaucer would have required at least sixty tales, with prologues, interludes, local descriptions, and sidescenes. Only twenty-four stories were completed; these contain 17,000 lines, and his other works exceed this number. It may give a better idea to mention that “Paradise Lost” contains but 10,575 lines, and the whole of Virgil but 12,497. The Tales are written both in prose and poetry, are both serious and comic, to suit the person from whom they came. “The Clerke's Tale” is perhaps the best of all, which Chaucer owned he had taken from Petrarch, and

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