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Emelie, that fayrer was to sene
(For with the rose colour strof hire hewe). W In other parts of his works he has painted morning scenes con amore : and his imagination seems to have been peculiarly struck with the charms of a rural prospect at sun-rising.
We are surprised to find, in a poet of such antiquity, numbers so nervous and flowing: a circumstance which greatly contributed to render Dryden's paraphrase of this poem the most animated and harmonious piece of versification in the English language. I cannot leave the Knight's Tale without remarking, that the inventor of this poem appears to have possessed considerable talents for the artificial construction of a story. It exhibits unexpected and striking turns of fortune; and abounds in those incidents which are calculated to strike the fancy by opening resources to sublime description, or interest the heart by pathetic situations. On this account, even without considering the poetical and exterior ornaments of the piece, we are hardly disgusted with the mixture of manners, the confusion of times, and the like violations of propriety, which this poem, in common with all others of its age, presents in almost every page. The action is supposed to have happened soon after the marriage of Theseus with Hippolita, and the death of Creon in the siege of Thebes: but we are soon transported into more recent periods. Sunday, the celebration of matins, judicial astrology, heraldry, tilts and tournaments, knights of England, and targets of Prussia*, occur in the city of Athens under the reign of Theseus. v. 1037.
See also Ch. Prol. v. 53; where tour. * The knights of the Teutonic order naments in Prussia are mentioned, were settled in Prussia, before 1300. Arcite quotes a fable from Æsop, v. 1179,
CHAUCER's RoMAUNT Of The Rose is translated from a French poem entitled LE ROMAN DE LA Rose. It was begun by William of Lorris, a student in jurisprudence, who died about the year 1260a. Being left unfinished, it was completed by John of Meun, a native of a little town of that name, situated on the river Loire near Orleans, who seems to have flourished about the year 13106. This poem is esteemed by the French the most valuable piece of their old poetry. It is far beyond the rude efforts of all their preceding romancers : and they have nothing equal to it before the reign of Francis the First, who died in the year 1547. But there is a considerable difference in the merit of the two authors. William of Lorris, who wrote not one quarter of the poem, is remarkable for his elegance and luxuriance of description, and is a beautiful painter of allegorical personages. John of Meun is a writer of another cast. He possesses but little of his predecessor's inventive and poetical vein; and in that respect was not properly qualified to finish a poem begun by William of Lorris. But he has
strong satire, and great liveliness. He was one of the wits of the court of Charles le Bel.
The difficulties and dangers of a lover, in pursuing and obtaining the object of his desires, are the literal argument of this poem. This design is couched under the allegory of a Rose, which our lover after frequent obstacles gathers in a delicious garden. He traverses vast ditches, scales lofty walls, and forces the gates of adamantine and almost impregnable castles. These
Fauchet, p. 198.
* The poem consists of 22734 verses. b Id. ibid. p. 200. He also translated William of Lorris's part ends with Boethius De Consolatione, and Abelard's V. 4149. viz. Lellers, and wrote Answers of the Sybills, &c.
“A peu que je ne m'en desespoir."
enchanted fortresses are all inhabited by various divinities; some of which assist, and some oppose, the lover's progress".
Chaucer has luckily translated all that was written by William of Lorrise: he gives only part of the continuation of John of Meun'. How far he has improved on the French original, the reader shall judge. I will exhibit passages selected from
« In the preface of the edition printed a pine." v. 1457. He says of roses, in the year 1538, all this allegory is “so faire werin never in Rone." F. 1674. turned to religion. The Rose is proved “That for Paris ne for Pavie.” v. 1654. to be a state of grace, or divine wisdom, He has sometimes reference to French or eternal beatitude, or the Holy Virgin ideas, or words, not in the original. As to which heretics cannot gain access. It “ Men clepin hem Sereins in France." is the white Rose of Jericho, Quasi v. 684. “From Jerusalem to Burgoine." plantatio Rosæ in Jericho, &c. &c. The V. 554. “ Grein de Paris." v. 1369. chemists, in the mean time, made it a Where Skinner says, Paris is contracted search for the Philosopher's Stone: and for Paradise. In mentioning minstrells other professions, with laboured com- and juglers, he says, that some of them mentaries, explained it into their own “ Songin songes of Loraine." y. 776. respective sciences.
He adds, € See Occleve's Letter of Cupide, writ
For in Loraine there notis be ten 1402. Urry's Chaucer, p. 536. v. 283. Who calls John of Moon the author of
Full swetir than in this contre. the Romaunt of the Rose.
There is not a syllable of these songs, * Chaucer's poem consists of 7699 and singers, of Loraine, in the French. verses : and ends with this verse of the By the way, I suspect that Chaucer transoriginal, viz. v. 13105.
lated this poem while he was at Paris. “ Vous aurez absolution.” There are also many allusions to English But Chaucer has made several omissions cer’s; but they are all in the French
affairs, which I suspected to be Chauin John of Meun's part, before he comes original. Such
as, “ Hornpipis of Corneto this period. He has translated all vaile.” v. 4250. These are called in the William of Lorris’s part, as I have ob- original, “Chalemeaux de Cornouaille." served; and his translation of that part v. 3991. A knight is introduced, allied ends with v. 4432. viz.
to king" Arthour of Bretaigne." v.1199. “ Than shuldin I fallin in wanhope." Who is called, “ Bon roy Artus de BreChaucer's cotemporaries called his Ro- taigne.” Orig. v. 1187. Sir Gawin, and mant of the Rose, a translation. Lydgate Sir Kay, two of Arthur's knights, are
characterised, v. 2206. seq. See Orig. says that Chaucer
v. 2124. Where the word Keulr is cor-Notably did his businesse
rupt for Keie. But there is one passage, By grete avyse his wittes to dispose,
in which he mentions a Bachelere as fair To translate the ROMANS OF THE ROSE.
“ The Lordis sonne of Windisore.” Prol. Boch. st. vi. It is manifest that v. 1250. This is added by Chaucer, and Chaucer took no pains to disguise his intended as a compliment to some of his translation. He literally follows the patrons. In the Legende of good Women, French, in saying, that a river was "lesse Cupid says to Chaucer, v. 329. than Saine." i. e. the Seine at Paris. v. 118. “ No wight in all Paris.". v. 7157.
For in plain text, withoutin nede of A grove has more birds “than ben in glose, all the relme of Fraunce, v. 495. He Thou hast translatid the Romaunt of the
Rose. calls a pine, “ A tree in France men call
both poems: respectively placing the French under the English, for the convenience of comparison. The renovation of nature in the month of May is thus described.
That it was May, thus dremed me, 8
While they han suffrid cold ful stronge,
Est la robe que je devise
Pour l'hiver qu'ils ont tous sentuz,
h bush, or hedge-row. Sometimes Où elle a tout l'hiver estè;
Wood. Rot. Pip. an. 17. Henr. III. Lors devient la terre si gobe,
“Et Heremitæ sancti Edwardi in haga Qu'elle veult avoir neusve robe;
de Birchenwude, xl. sol." Si sçet si cointe robe faire,
i hide. From wrie, or wrey, to cover. Que de couleurs y a cent paire,
In wethers grillek and darke to sight,
So glad, &c.' In the description of a grove, within the garden of Mirth, are inany natural and picturesque circumstances, which are not yet got into the storehouse of modern poetry.
These trees were sett as I devisem,
Upon the freshe grasse springing. u