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The subsidiary characters are allowed their due shares of importance ; for example, the royal allies of the two principals ; Palamon's

Ligurge him-self, the grete king of Trace;
Blak was his berd, and manly was his face.
The cercles of his eyen in his heed,
They gloweden bitwixe yelow and reed;
And lyk a griffon loked he aboute,
With kempe heres on his browes stoute.
And as the gyse was in his contree,
Ful hye up-on a char of gold stood he.
A wrethe of gold arm-greet, of huge wighte,
Upon his heed, set ful of stones brighte.
Aboute his char ther wenten whyte alaunts,
Twenty and mo, as grete as any steer,
To hunten at the leoun or the deer.
An hundred lordes hadde he in his route

Armed ful wel, with hertes sterne and stoute.3 and Arcite's :

The grete Emetreus, the king of Inde,
Cam ryding lyk the god of armes, Mars.
His cote-armure was of cloth of Tars,
Couched with perles whyte and rounde and grete.
His sadel was of brend gold newe y-bete;
A mantelet upon his shuldre hanginge
Bret-ful of rubies rede, as fyr sparklinge.
His nose was heigh, his eyen bright citryn,
His lippes rounde, his colour was sangwyn,
And as a leoun he his loking caste.
Of fyve and twenty yeer his age I caste.
His berd was wel bigonne for to springe ;
His voys was as a trompe thunderinge.
An hundred lordes hadde he with him there,
Al armed, sauf hir heddes, in al hir gere.
Aboute this king ther ran on every part

Ful many a tame leoun and lepart.4 But the rivals occupy, as is fitting, the forefront of the scene; and above even them shines the lady of their love and strife. On a bright May morning dawns upon us :

Emelye, that fairer was to sene
Than is the lilie upon his stalke grene,
And fressher than the May with floures newe-
For with the rose colour stroof hir hewe,
I noot which was the fairer of hem two-
Er it were day, as was hir wone to do,
She was arisen, and al redy dight;
For May wol have no slogardye a-night.
The sesoun priketh every gentil herte,
And maketh him out of his sleep to sterte,
And seith, “ Arys, and do thyn observaunce.'
This maked Emelye have remembraunce
To doon honour to May, and for to ryse.
Y-clothed was she fresh, for to devyse ;
Hir yelow heer was broyded in a tresse,

Bihinde hir bak, a yerde long, I gesse.5 It is in full accordance with chivalrous romance that finally she allows herself to be the prize, passed from hand to hand, of the deadly tournament. Not a stain rests on her maidenly dignity. She knew each knight to be a right worthy bridegroom and lord.

Only second to Palamon and Arcite is the Clerk's Tale. Admirable for the literary art is the remorselessness of the touches of red-hot iron applied to Griselda's spirit, without defacement of it, or of her womanly self-respect—with never the absence from readers of a sense of suppressed tears in the narrator as he tortures her; of an eagerness in themselves to make the most of any hint of 'routhe and pitee' in the diseased soul of the suspicious, barbarous Marquis himself, notwithstanding that he was

ful faste imagining
If by his wyves chere he mighte see,
Or by hir word aperceyve that she
Were chaunged; but he never hir coude finde
But ever in oon y-lyke sad and kinde.


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* Kind', but 'sad”. Yet with none of the anger against fate of her peasant father, or of her husband's people whom she had made to love her. When she is driven forth, naked except for her smock, to return to her humble cottage :

The folk hir folwe wepinge in hir weye,
And fortune ay they cursen as they goon ;
But she fro weping kepte hir yën dreye,
Ne in this tyme word ne spak she noon.
Hir fader, that this tyding herde annoon,
Curseth the day and tyme that nature
Shoop him to been a lyves creature.
Agayns his doghter hastilich goth he,
For he by noyse of folk knew hir cominge,
And with hir olde cote, as it mighte be,
He covered hir, ful sorwefully wepinge.6


If any are inclined to accompany the poor old villager in cursing as well as tears, I am afraid it is of no use for me to

pray them not to extend their wrath to the poet, who is careful to explain the moral of the story to be, not so much excessive wifely humility, as

that every wight, in his degree, Sholde be constant in adversitee; with a warning, not without humour, to a modern husband to

putte he nat his wyf in greet assay. This world is nat so strong, it is no nay,

As it hath been in olde tymes yore.? For myself I must confess to having always wondered how long after the Satanic ordeal—whatever is alleged of

many a yere ', and 'rest '-Petrarch and Chaucer meant the victim's worn heart-chords to keep from snapping in revolt at the ironic splendours of her restored palace !

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Pathos, mirth, subtlety, and learning, alternating or together, pervade the Tales. They have the dewy freshness of meadows and woods. Birds sing in them. It is Fairyland, into which now and again a Bottom has wandered. In the Prologues, at the postern gates as well as in the grand portal, a panorama is exhibited in miniature of the now English people, and its awaking life. I do not know where else in poetry so complete, so animated a kinematograph of the classes constituting a nationality is to be found. They are all there with their distinctive gradations of character as finely delineated as if Shakespeare had been the limner. If souls transmigrate, his indeed might have lived before in Chaucer. All the portraits are delightful; the knight :

That fro the tyme that he first bigan
To ryden out, he loved chivalrye,
Trouthe and honour, fredom and curteisye.
Ful worthy was he in his lordes werre,
And therto hadde he (riden no man ferre)
As wel in Cristendom as hethenesse,
And ever honoured for his worthinesse.
And evermore he hadde a sovereyn prys.
And though that he were worthy, he was wys,
And of his port as meke as is a mayde.
He never yet no vileinye ne sayde
In al his lyf, un-to no maner wight.

He was a verray parfit gentil knight; the Prioress,

ful simple and coy ;
Hir gretteste ooth was but by sëynt Loy ;
And she was cleped madame Eglentyne.
Ful wel she song the service divyne,
Entuned in hir nose ful semely ;
And Frensh she spak ful faire and fetisly,
After the scole of Stratford atte Bowe,
For Frensh of Paris was to hir unknowe.



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She was so charitable and so pitous,
She wolde wepe, if that she sawe a mous
Caught in a trappe, if it were deed or bledde.
Of smale houndes had she, that she fedde
With rosted flesh, or milk and wastel-breed.
But sore weep she if oon of hem were deed,
Or if men smoot it with a yerde smerte :

And al was conscience and tendre herte.' the Monk :

A manly man, to been an abbot able.
Ful many a deyntee hors hadde he in stable :
And, whan he rood, men mighte his brydel here
Ginglen in a whistling wind as clere,
And eek as bloude as dooth the chapel-belle

Ther as this lord was keper of the celle ; the young Squire, of dames, as well as of his father, to whom he was a 'lowly, servisable 'son ; the Wife of Bath ; the

Sergeant of the Lawe, war and wys ; the prosperous Franklin :

Wel loved he by the morwe a sop in wyn ; a Clerk of Oxenforde, as lean as his horse, on a diet chiefly of logic; the Miller; the Sompnour; and many other representatives of English Plantagenet life, especially the ecclesiastical, with, to crown the whole :

A good man was ther of religioun,
And was a povre Persoun of a toun ;
But riche he was of holy thoght and werk.
He was also a lerned man, a clerk,
That Cristes gospel trewely wolde preche;
His parisshens devoutly wolde he teche.
Benigne he was, and wonder diligent,
And in adversitee ful pacient;
And swich he was y-preved ofte sythes.
Ful looth were him to cursen for his tythes,

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