« הקודםהמשך »
There is some humour in making our lawyer introduce the language of his pleadings into common conversation. He addresses the hoste,
Hoste, quoth he, de pardeux jeo assent. » The affectation of talking French was indeed general, but it is here appropriated and in character.
Among the rest, the character of the Hoste, or master of the Tabarde inn where the pilgrims are assembled, is conspicuous. He has much good sense, and discovers great talents for managing and regulating a large company; and to him we are indebted for the happy proposal of obliging every pilgrim to tell a story during their journey to Canterbury. His interpositions between the tales are very useful and enlivening; and he is something like the chorus on the Grecian stage. He is of great service in encouraging each person to begin his part, in conducting the scheme with spirit, in making proper observations on the merit or tendency of the several stories, in settling disputes which must naturally arise in the course of such an entertainment, and in connecting all the narratives into one continued system.
His love of good cheer, experience in marshalling guests, address, authoritative deportment, and facetious disposition, are thus expressively displayed by Chaucer.
Gret chere made our Hoste everich on,
And to the souper sette he us anon ; my design to enter into the disputes con from Paradise. This perhaps signified cerning the meaning or etymology of an ambulatory. Many of our old reliparris: from which parvisin, the name gious houses had a place called Paradise. for the public schools in Oxford, is de- In the year 1300, children were taught to rived. But I will observe, that parvis is read and sing in the Parris of St. Marmentioned as a court or portico before tin's church at Norwich. Blomf. Norf. ii. the church of Notre Dame at Paris, in 748. Our Serjeant is afterwards said to John de Meun's part of the Roman de have received many fees and robes, v. 319. la Rose, v. 12529.
The serjeants and all the officers of the A Paris n'eust hommes ne femme
superior courts of law, anticntly received Au parvis devant Nostre Dame.
winter and summer robes from the king's The passage is thus translated by Chau. wardrobe. He is likewise said to cíte cer. Rom. R. v. 7157.
cases and decisions, “that from the time
of king William were full," v. 326. For Ther n'as no wight in all Paris
this line see the very learned and ingeBefore our Ladie at Parvis.
nious Mr. Barrington's Observations on The word is supposed to be contracted the antient Statutes. * y. 309.
And served us with vitaille of the beste :
Chaucer's scheme of the CANTERBURY TALES was evidently left unfinished. It was intended by our author, that every pilgrim should likewise tell a Tale on their return from Canterbury'. A poet who lived soon after the CANTERBURY TALES made their appearance, seems to have designed a supplement to this deficiency, and with this view to have written a Tale called the MARCHAUNT'S Second Tale, or the HISTORY OF Beryn. It was first printed by Urry, who supposed it to be Chaucer's. In the Prologue, which is of considerable length, there is some humour and contrivance: in which the author, happily enough, continues to characterise the pilgrims, by imagining what each did, and how each behaved, when they all arrived at Canterbury. After dinner was ordered at their inn, they all proceed to the cathedral. At entering the church one of the monks sprinkles them with holy water. The Knight
y « we liked."
in the best manuscript of the CANTER2 Cheapside.
BURY Tales, MSS. Harl. 1758. fol. Prol. v. 749.
membran. These Tales were supposed • Or rather, two on their way thither, to be spoken, not written. But we have and two on their return. Only Chaucer in the Plowman's, “ For my WRITING himself tells two tales. The poet says, me allow." v. $309. Urr. And in other that there were twenty-nine pilgrims in places. “ For my WRITING if I have company : but in the CHARACTERS he blame.”—“Of my WRITING have me exdescribes more. Among the Tales which cus'd.” etc. See a Note at the beginremain, there are none of the Prioresse's ning of the Cant. Tales, MSS. Laud. Chaplains, the Haberdasher, Carpynter, K. 50. Bibl. Bodl. written by John BarWebbe, Dyer, Tapiser, and Hoste. The cham. But the discussion of these points Chanon's Yeman has a Tale, but no properly belongs to an editor of Chaucer. CHARACTER. The Plowman's Tale is į See Mr. Tyrwhitt's INTRODUCTORY Discertainly supposititious. See supr.p. 142. COURSE to the Canterbury Tales.-Edır.] And Obs. Spens. ii. 217. It is omitted Urr. Chauc. p. 595.
with the better sort of the company goes in great order to the shrine of Thomas a Becket. The Miller and his companions run staring about the church: they pretend to blazon the arms painted in the glass windows, and enter into a dispute in heraldry: but the Hoste of the Tabarde reproves them for their improper behaviour and impertinent discourse, and directs them to the martyr's shrine. When all had finished their devotions, they return to the inn. In the way thither they purchase toys for which that city was famous, called Canterbury brochis, and here much facetiousness passes betwixt the Frere and the Sompnour, in which the latter vows revenge on the former, for telling a Tale so palpably levelled at his profession, and protests he will retaliate on their return by a more severe story. When dinner is ended, the Hoste of the Tabarde thanks all the company in form for their several Tales. The party then separate till supper-time by agreement. The Knight goes to survey the walls and bulwarks of the city, and explains to his son the Squier the nature and strength of them. Mention is here made of great guns. The Wife of Bath is too weary to walk far; she proposes to the Prioresse to divert themselves in the garden, which abounds with herbs proper for making salves. Others wander about the streets. The Pardoner has a low adventure, which ends much to his disgrace. The next morning they proceed on their return to Southwark: and our genial master of the Tabarde, just as they leave Canterbury, by way of putting the company into good humour, begins a panegyric on the morning and the month of April, some lines of which I shall quote, as a specimen of our author's abilities in poetical description." Lo! how the seson of the yere, and Averelld shouris, Doithe the bushis burgyné out blossomes and flouris. Lo! the prymerosys of the yere, how fresh they bene to sene, And many othir flouris among the grassis grene.
Lo! how they springe and sprede, and of divers hue,
On casting lots, it falls to the Marchaunt to tell the first tale, which then follows. I cannot allow that this Prologue and Tale were written by Chaucer. Yet I believe them to be nearly coeval.
& v. 690.
SECTION XVIII. .
It is not my intention to dedicate a volume to Chaucer, how much soever he may deserve it; nor can it be expected, that, in a work of this general nature, I should enter into a critical examination of all Chaucer's pieces. Enough has been said to prove, that in elevation, and elegance, in harmony and perspicuity of versification, he surpasses his predecessors in an infinite proportion : that his genius was universal, and adapted to themes of unbounded variety: that his merit was not less in painting familiar manners with humour and propriety, than in moving the passions, and in representing the beautiful or the grand objects of nature with grace and sublimity. In a word, that he appeared with all the lustre and dignity of a true poet, in an age which compelled him to struggle with a barbarous language, and a national want of taste; and when to write verses at all, was regarded as a singular qualification. It is true, indeed, that he lived at a time when the French and Italians had made considerable advances and improvements in poetry: and although proofs have already been occasionally given of his imitations from these sources, I shall close my account of him with a distinct and comprehensive view of the nature of the poetry which subsisted in France and Italy when he wrote: pointing out, in the mean time, how far and in what manner the popular models of those nations contributed to form his taste, and influence his genius.
I have already mentioned the troubadours of Provence, and have observed that they were fond of moral and allegorical fablesa. A taste for this sort of composition they partly acquired by reading Boethius, and the PsychoMAchia of Pru
a See vol. i. p. 151. seq.