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She fighe 'the swete floures sprynge,
She herde glad fowles synge;
She figh beastes in her kynde,
The buck, the doo, the hert, the hynde,
The males go with the femele :
And so began there a quarele *
Betwene love and her owne herte
Fro whiche she couthe not asterte.
And as she cast hir eie aboute,
She figh, clad in one suit, a route
Of ladies where thei comen ride
Alonge under the wooddè fide;
On fayre e ambulende hors thei fet,
That were al whyte, fayre, and gret;
And everichone ride on fide.
The fadels were of such a pride,
So riche fighe she never none;
With perles and golde so wel begone,
In kirtels and in copes riche
Thei were clothed all aliches,
Departed even of white and blewe,
With all luftes that she knewe
Thei wer embroudred over all :
Her' bodies weren longe and small,
The beautee of hir fayre face,
There mai none erthly thing deface :
Corownes on their heades thei bare,
As eche of hem a quene were.
That all the golde of Cresus hall
The least coronall of all
Might not have boughte, after the worth,
Thus comen thei ridend forthe.

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The kynges doughter, whiche this figh,
For pure abasshe drewe hir adrigh,

And helde hir close undir the bough. At length she fees riding in the rear of this splendid troop, on a horse lean, galled, and lame, a beautiful lady in a tattered garment, her saddle mean and much worn, but her bridle richly studded with gold and jewels : and round her waist were more than an hundred halters. The princess asks the meaning of this strange procession ; and is answered by the lady on the lean horse, that these are spectres of ladies, who, when living, were obedient and faithful votaries of love. As to myself, she adds, I am now receiving my “ annual penance for being a rebel to love.”

For I whilom no love had ;
My horse is now feble and badde,
And al to torn is myn araie ;
And everie year this freshe Maic
These lustie ladies ride aboute,
And I must nedes few " her route,
In this manner as ye nowe see,
And trusse her hallters forth with mee,
And am but her horse knave'.

The princess then asks her, why she wore the rich bridle, fo inconsistent with the rest of her furniture, her dress, and horfe? The lady answers, that it was a badge and reward for having loved a knight faithfully for the last fortnight of her life.

« Now have ye herde all mine answere ;
" To god, madam, I you betake,
“ And warneth all, for my fake,

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« Of love, that thei be not idell,
“ And bid hem thinke of my bridell.”
And with that worde, all fodenly
She passeth, as it were a skie“,
All clean out of the ladies sight".

My readers will easily conjecture the change which this spectacle must naturally produce in the obdurate heart of the princess of Armenia. There is a farther proof that the FLOURE AND LEAFE preceded the Confessio AMANTIs. In the eighth book, our author's lovers are crowned with the Flower and Leaf.

Myn eie I caste all aboutes,
To knowe amonge hem who was who:
I sigh where lustie Youth tho,
As he which was a capitayne
Before all others on the playne,
Stode with his route wel begon :
Her heades kempt, and thereupon
Garlondes not of one colour,
Some of the lefe, some of the floure,
And some of grete perles were:
The new guise of Beme was there, &c'.

I believe on the whole, that Chaucer had published most of his poems before this piece of Gower appeared. Chaucer had not however at this time written his TESTAMENT OF Love: for Gower, in a sort of Epilogue to the Confessio AMAntis, is addressed by Venus, who commands him to greet Chaucer as her favourite poet and disciple, as one who had employed his youth in composing songs and ditties to her honour. She adds at the close,

in A shadow, Exsa, umbra. Lib. iv. f. 70. feq. P Lib. viii. f. 188. a. col. 1. See supr. vol. i. p. 466.

• Boeme. Bohemia.

For thy,

For thy, now in his daies olde,
Thou shalt hym tell this message,
That he upon his later age
To sette an ende of all his werke
As he, which is myne owne clerke,
Do make his TESTAMENT OF LOVE,
As thou hast done thy Shrifte above :

So that my court it maie recorde. Chaucer at this time was fixty-five years of age. The Court of Love, one of the pedantries of French gallantry, occurs often. In an address to Venus, “ Madame, I am a “ man of thyne, that in thy Courte hath served long'.” The lover observes, that for want of patience, a man ought

amonge the women alle, in Loves Courte, by judgement “ the name beare of paciant?” The confeffor declares, that many persons are condemned for disclosing secrets, “ In “ Loves Courte, as it is said, that lette their tonges gone “ untide." By Thy SHRIFTE, the author means his own poem now before us, the Lover's CONFESSION.

There are also many manifest evidences which lead us to conclude, that this poem preceded Chaucer's CANTERBURY'S Tales, undoubtedly some of that poet's latest compositions, and probably not begun till after the year 1382. The Man or LAWES TALE is circumstantially borrowed from Gower's CONSTANTIA": and Chaucer, in that Tale, apparently censures Gower, for his manner of relating the stories of Canace and Apollonius in the third and eighth books of the CONFESSIO AMANTIS". The WIFE OF BATHES TALE is founded

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on Gower's Florent, a knight of Rome, who delivers the king of Sicily's daughter from the incantations of her stepmother?. Although the GESTA ROMANORUM might have furnished both poets with this narrative. Chaucer, however, among other great improvements, has judiciously departed from the fable, in converting Sicily into the more popular court of king Arthur.

Perhaps, in estimating Gower's merit, I have pushed the notion too far, that because he shews so much learning he had no great share of natural abilities. But it should be considered, that when books began to grow fashionable, and the reputation of learning conferred the highest honour, poets became ambitious of being thought scholars; and fax crificed their native powers of invention to the ostentation of displaying an extensive course of reading, and to the pride of profound erudition. On this account, the minstrels of these times, who were totally uneducated, and poured forth spontaneous rhymes in obedience to the workings of nature, often exhibit more genuine strokes of passion and imagination, than the professed poets. Chaucer is an exception to this observation : whose original feelings were too strong to be suppressed by books, and whose learning was over balanced by genius.

This affectation of appearing learned, which yet was natural at the revival of literature, in our old poets, even in those who were altogether destitute of talents, has lost to posterity many a curious picture of manners, and many a romantic image. Some of our antient bards, however, aimed at no other merit, than that of being able to versify; and attempted nothing more, than to cloath in rhyme those sentiments, which would have appeared with equal propriety in profe. feq. Lib. viii. f. 175. a. col. 2. feq. from French into English, and printed in the have just discovered, that the favourite story black letter, by Wynkyn de Worde, A.D. of Apollonius, having appeared in antient 1510. 4to.Kynge Appolyn of Thyre. Greek, Latin, Saxon, barbarous Greek, [See fupr. vol i. p. 350.] A copy is in and old French, was at length translated

my posseflion.

*Lib. i. f. 15. b. col. 2,

SECT.

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