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And as a lyon he his eyis kest. (a)
Of five and twenty yere his age I ghest.
His berde was well begonning for to spring.
His throte was as a trompet thondiring.
Upon his hede he wered, of laurer grene
A garlond freshe, and lustie for to sene.
Upon his honde he bore for his delite
An egle tame, as ony lilie white.
An hundrid lordis had he with them there,
All armid, saaf their heddis, in their gere. (6)
About this king ther ran on every part

Full many a tamé lyon, and libart. Contemporary with Chaucer was John Gower, a poet of some celebrity. The date of his birth is not ascertained ; but he died in 1408, some years after Chaucer. It is said that there is a flattering tradition in the Stafford family that he was of Stitenham. Whatever might be his birth, he was a learned and an accomplished man,—whom his great contemporary compliments as the moral Gower. Succeeding eulogists adopt the more equi. vocal epithet of ancient, to which his title is indisputable. Poets have from very early periods courted the patronage of the great. Ancient Gower attached himself to Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester. He wrote in Latin and French; and his sonnets in the latter language are still reckoned elegant. His principal work in English, entitled CONFESSIO AMANTIS, consists of a series of tales illustrative of the moral virtues and the vices which contrast them. These stories are gleaned, as was then common, from existing collections of

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Gestes, Romances, and Tales. Without a spark of the fire of Chaucer, he writes with considerable amenity for the rude period in which he lived. A part of his works were printed by Caxton in 1483, and are thus among the earliest specimens of English typography. Gower was blind for some years before his death, which calamity appears to have been the frequent fate of poets. His tomb, decorated with his volumes and his effigy, the head garlanded with roses, is still to be seen in the church of St Mary Overey in Southwark, to the erection of which edifice he had liberally contributed. Gower's will is still extant, from which it appears that he was too rich a man to be a great poet.

Gower's verses show such uniform mediocrity, that it is impossible to find any tolerable specimen. The entire devotion of a lover to the wishes or ca. prices of his lady is expressed as follows. The allusion with which the passage concludes is to the Troilus and Creseide of Chaucer, probably not long written at that time :

That when her list on nights wake
In chambre, as to carol and daunce,
Methinke I maie me more avaunce,
If I may gone upon hir honde,
Than if I wynne a kynges londe.
For whan I maie her hand beclip, (a)
With such gladness I daunce and skip,

(a) Clasp

Methinketh I touch not the floore;
The roe which renneth on the moore
Is than nought so light as I. -
And whan it falleth other gate, (a)
So that hir liketh not to daunce,
But on the dyes to cast a chaunce,
Or aske of love some demaunde;
Or els that her list commaunde
To rede and here of Troilus.

This complaisance of a romantic lover is nothing to the absolute submission of Aristotle, who, after giving his pupil Alexander many counsels against love, falls in love himself with a Queen of Greece, who saddles and bridles the amorous philosopher, and rides him round her chamber. This tale or apologue is told in that mine of stories, called the Gesta Romanorum, from which our elder poets drew copiously.

Passing over several obscure names, half-forgotten even by antiquaries, the next English poet who continues the golden chain which links Chaucer to modern times, was John Lydgate, who is supposed to have been born about 1375. He was a monk, and lived in the Abbey of Bury; a scholar accómplished in all the learning of his time, and familiar with the works of the poets of France and Italy. Lydgate was the first author or versifier of allwork on record in our annals ; and as he always attempted bravely, and with full confidence in his own powers, he sometimes succeeded.“ If, says

(a) Gaiety, or way.

Warton,

a disguising were intended by the com. pany of goldsmiths,

-a mask before his majesty at Eltham,- ,-a May-game for the sheriffs and alder. men of London,-a mummery before the Lord Mayor,--a procession of pageants from the Crea. tion for the festival of Corpus Christi,-or a carol for the coronation,-Lydgate was consulted and gave the poetry.”_He must have been the busiest man of his time, and one to whom nothing came amiss : he traded in verse before the division of labour was understood. Lydgate is mentioned with contempt by Percy, scoffed at by Ritson, and pronounced stupid by Pinkerton. A critic in whom as much confidence may be placed, Gray the poet, places him next in rank to Chaucer, and before the chilling mediocre “ Ancient Gower.The principal works of Lydgate are, The History of Thebes, The Fall of Princes, and The Siege of Troy. The following passage, pointed out by Gray, has great sweetness and feeling

Out of her swoone when she did abbraide,
Knowing no mean but death in her distresse,
To her brother full piteouslie she said,
“ Cause of my sorrowe, roote of my heavinesse,
That whilom were the sourse of my gladnesse,
When both our joyes by wille were so disposed,
Under one key our hearts to be enclosed.-

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This is mine end, I may it not astarte;
O brother mine, there is no more to saye;
Lowly beseeching with mine whole heart
For to remember specially, I praye,
If it-befall my little sonne to dye,

That thou mayst after some mynd on us have,
Suffer us both be buried in one grave.

I hold him strictly twene my armès twein,
Thou and Nature laide on me this charge;
He, guiltless, mustè with me suffer paine,
And, sith thou art at freedom and at large,
Let kindnesse ourè love not so discharge,
But have a minde, wherever that thou be,
Once on a day upon my child and me.

On thee and me dependeth the trespace
Touching our guilt and our great offence,
But, welaway! most angelik of face
Our childè, young in his pure innocence,
Shall agayn right suffer death's violence,
Tender of limbes, God wote, full guiltèlesse
The goodly faire, that lieth here speechless.

A mouth he has, but wordis hath he none;
Cannot complaine alas ! for none outrage:
Nor grutcheth not, but lies here all alone
Still as a lambe, most meke of his visage.
What heart of stèle could do to him damage,
Or suffer him dye, beholding the manere
And looke benigne of his twein eyen clere.

*

*

Lydgate's poem, called The Life of our Lady, opens thus elegantly :

O thoughtfull hertè, plonged in distresse
With slombre of slouth, this long wynter's night!
Out of the slepe of mortal hevinesse
Awake anon, and loke upon the light
Of thilkè sterre, that with her bemys bright,
And with the shynynge of her stremes meryè,
Is wont to glad all our hemisperie!-(a)

(a) Hemisphere.

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