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the moral, the pathetic, the romantic, the dramatic, and, above all, the descriptive, verge here to one point. This exuberance and richness of material is disposed with inimitable judgment and discrimination, the different individuals of the party with a kind of harmonious incongruity setting off each other. Thus the refined and somewhat affected but amiable Prioress receives relief and imparts softness to the genial Wife of Bath ;—the noble and chi. valrous Knight is contrasted by the burly and coarse Miller ;—the pragmatical Clerk by the gal. lant young Squire, to whom is given the story of Cambuscan, that singular mixture of wild Arabic romance and Gothic chivalry which drew forth Milton's spirited invocation to the shade of Chaucer :
Call him up who left half-told
The story of Cambuscan bold!
All the Tales are allotted with equal propriety and happiness to the different members of the group of Pilgrims; but it is to be regretted that this extensive design was never concluded. Only a limited number of the Pilgrims tell each a story, though these are the most prominent persons of the company. Some of these tales have been modernized by names very eminent in literature :-the Knight's Tale by Dryden, and also that of the Nun's Priest. Pope has given us a spirited version of January and May. Dryden has also preserved to modern readers Chaucer's beautiful Allegory of the “ Flower and the Leaf ;” and Pope a less interesting though ingenious one in the “ House of Fame.” Both poets have been more successful in the lofty and serious than in the comic or pathetic; and whoever would truly relish the beauties of Chaucer must master the few difficulties of his language, and read his own thoughts in his own words. Mr Wordsworth has recently made a version of the Tale of the Prioress so feelingly and so faithfully, that it is to be hoped he will not stop here :—The Clerk's Tale, that of Griselde, one of the most pathetic that Chaucer has left, is a subject equally worthy of his powers; and as his poetical creed approaches much nearer to Chaucer's than did that of either Dryden or Pope, more confidence might be placed in his version, both in the simplicity of the letter and in the integrity and fine humanity of the spirit.
But the reader has been kept too long in the porch of the Tabard, whence the Pilgrims are issuing :
Whannè that April with his shourès sote (a)
The droughte of March hath perced to the rote, (6)
And bathed every veine in swiche (c) licour,
Of which vertue engendred is the four;
Whan Zephirus eke with his sotè brethe
Enspired hath in every holt (d) and hethe
The tender croppės, and the yongè sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfè cours yronne, (e)
And smalè foulès maken melodie,
That slepen alle night with open eye,
So priketh hem (a) nature in hir (b) corages; (C)
Than longen folk to gon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken strangè strondes,
To serve (d) halwes (e) couthe (f) in sondry londes ;
And specially, from every shirès ende
Of Englelond, to Canterbury they wende, (g)
The holy blisful martyr for to seke,
That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seke. (h)
Befelle, that, in that seson on a day,
In Southwerke at the Tabard as I lay,
Redy to wenden on my pilgrimage
To Canterbury with devoute corage.
At night was come into that hostelrie
Wel nine and twenty in a compagnie
Of sondry folk, by aventure yfalle (0) •
In felawship, and pilgrimes were they alle,
That toward Canterbury wolden (K) ride.
The chambres and the stables weren wide,
And wel we weren esed attè beste.
And shortly, whan the sonne was gone to reste,
So hadde I spoken with hem everich on, ()
That I was of hir felawship anon,
And made forword erly for to rise,
To take oure way ther as I you devise.
But natheles, while I have time and space,
Or that I forther in this talè pace,
Me thinketh it accordant to reson,
To tellen you alle the condition
Of eche of hem, so as it semed me,
And whiche they weren, and of what degre;
And eke in what araie that they were inne:
And at a knight than wol I firste beginne.
A Knight ther was, and that a worthy man,
That fro the time that he firste began
(a) Them. (6) Their. (c) Inclination. (d) To keep. (e) Holydays. (f) Known. (g) Go.
(h) Sick. (i) Fallen. (k) Would (2) Every one.
To riden out, he loved chevalrie,
Trouthe and honour, fredom and curtesie.
Ful worthy was he in his lordès' werre, (a)
And thereto hadde he ridden, no man ferre, (6)
As wel in Cristendom as in Hethenesse,
And ever honoured for his worthinesse.
At Alisandre he was whan it was wonne.
Full often time he hadde the bord (c) begonne (d)
Aboven alle nations in Pruce.
In Lettowe hadde he reysed (e) and in Ruce,
No cristen man so ofte of his degre.
In Gernade at the siege eke hadde he be
Of Algesir, and ridden in Belmarie.
At Leyès was he, and at Satalie,
Whan they were wonne; and in the Gretè see
At many a noble armee hadde he be.
At mortal batailles hadde he ben fiftene,
And foughten for our faith at Tramissène
In listės thries, and ay slain his fo.
This ilkè worthy knight hadde ben also
Somtime with the Lord of Palatie,
Agen another hethen in Turkie:
And evermore he hadde a sovereine pris. (f)
And though that he was worthy he was wise,
And of his port as meke as is a mayde.
He never yet
vilanie ne sayde
In alle his lif, unto no manere wight.
He was a veray parfit gentil knight.
But for to tellen you of his araie,
His hors was good, but he ne was not gaie.
Of fustian he wered a gipon, (g)
Alle besmotred (h) with his habergeon, (i)
For he was late ycome fro his viage,
And wentè for to don his pilgrimage.
(6) Farther. (c) (d) Been placed at the head of the table. (e) Travelled. (f) Praise. (g) Wore a short cassock. (h) Smutted. (i) Coat of mail.
With him ther was his sone a young Squier,
A lover and a lusty bacheler,
With lockès crull (a) as they were laide in presse.
Of twenty yere of age he was I gesse.
Of his stature he was of even lengthe,
And wonderly deliver, (b) and grete of strengthe.
And he hadde be somtime in chevachie, (c)
In Flaundres, in Artois, and in Picardie,
And borne him wel, as of so litel space,
In hope to stonden in his ladie's grace.
Embrouded (d) was he, as it were a mede
Alle ful of freshè flourès, white and rede.
Singing he was, or floyting (e) alle the day,
He was as freshe, as is the moneth of May.
Short was his goune, with slevès long and wide,
Wel coude he sitte on hors, and fayrè ride.
He coudè songès make, and wel endite,
Juste and eke dance, and wel pourtraie and write.
So hote he loved, that by nightertale (f)
He slep no more than doth the nightingale.
Curteis he was, lowly, and servisable,
And carf (g) before his fader at the table.
A Yeman hadde he, and servantes no mo
At that time, for bim luste (h) to ride so;
And he was cladde in cote and hode of grene.
A shefe of peacock arwes bright and kene
Under his belt he bare ful thriftily.
Well coude he dresse his takel (i) yemanly :
His arwes (k) drouped not with fetheres lowe.
And in his hond he bare a mighty bowe.
A not-hed () hadde he, with a broune visage.
Of wood-craft coude (m) he wel alle the usage.
Upon his arme he bare a gaie bracer, (n)
And by his side a swers and a bokeler,
(a) Curled. (6) Nimble. (c) Horse skirmishing. (d) Embroidered. (e) Playing the flute. (f) Nighttime. (g) Carved. (h) It pleased him. (i) Tackle. (k) Arrow. (1) A bullet-head.
(m) Knew (n) Armour for the arm.