Page images
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

LIST OF THE PLATES.

SUBJECTS.

ARTISTS

ENGRAVERS

Page

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

1. POETRY AND PAINTING....... E. T. Parris
2. THE WORSHIP OF THE LYRE. J. Wood
3. CHAUCER IN THE ARBOUR... W. Mulready, R.A..........
4. THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT.... J. Martin
5. THE LADY JANE BEAUFORT. J. R. Herbert
6. LA BELLE PUCELL

J. Inskipp 7. CUPIDS MOURNING OVER A

J. Hayter BROKEN LUTE 8. WINDSOR CASTLE BY Moon

T. Hofland LIGHT ...... 9. Tre Demos OF WAR ........... J. M. Wright......... 10. FANCY AND DESIRE

R. Westmacott, R.A. ... ...

}

[blocks in formation]

11. THE WRECK

J. Wilson

W. Miller ............

49

12. TAE SUMMER FLOWER H. Howard, R.A............. L. Stocks

53 13. THE CAVE OF DESPAIR ...... C. L. Eastlake, R.A. W. Greatbach 61 14. CUPID AND PSYCHE .............. W. Etty, R.A.

W. H. Simmons 71 15. THE COMBAT

A. Cooper, R.A.

R. Parr ................

79 16. PLEASURE'S BANQUET

S. Hart ..........................

W. Greatbach ......

83 17. THE JOY OF CHILDHOOD ...... Sir T. Lawrence, P.R.A.... W. Finden

87 18. ROMANS INSTRUCTING THE

H. P. Briggs, R.A.

T. Wrankmore....... 97 ANCIENT BRITONS

[blocks in formation]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

30. THE FISHER Boys

J. Thompson, R.A.

E. Finden .........

181 31. THE PLEASURE-TIRED

G. Cattermole.

J. Wrankmore.... 187 32. RUINS IN GREECE

C. Stanfield, R.A.

E. Finden .........

195 33. THE INFANT's PRAYER T. Uwins, A.R.A.

E. Finden

199 34. THE FUNERAL

D. Wilkie, R. A...............

W. Finden .........

203 35. THE CHAPLET OP FLOWERS G. Patten.....

E. Finden

207 36. THE HAPPY AGE

Sir J. Reynolds, P.R.A....... W. Greatbach...... 213 37. ECHO AND NARCISSUS ......... G. Arnold, A.R.A............

A. Frecbairn ......

217

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[blocks in formation]

39. CUPID's ASSAULT ................ J. Franklin ........ 40. THE LOVE LETTER

H. Liverseege..................
41. THE PRAYER TO THE VIRGIN Penry Williams...............
42. THE THAMES AT MORTLAKE J. M.W. Turner, R.A.......
43. The FUNERAL Or Cowley. E. W. Cooke
44. CHARLES THE FIRST TAKING

F. P. Stephanoff...........
LEAVE OF HIS FAMILY)

[blocks in formation]

45. A CHILD AMID FLOWERS ...

R. Rothwell

S. Sangster......... 265

46. THE DISCONSOLATE

G. S. Newton, R.A.

273

E. Finden

47. THE Muse INSTRUCTING

YOUTH

W Wyon, A.R.A............

J. Thomson......... 281

48. THE SEA-SIDE GROUP ..........

.

49. THE BIRTH OF VENUS

50. THE INFANT BACCHUS ......

J. D. Harding.......... E. Finden

285 T. Stothard, R.A.

W. Greatbach...... 289 Sir M. A. Shee, P.R.A....... L. Stocks............ 293 F. Stone

R. Hart

297 R. B. Davis ............ W. Greatbach...... 301 Miss Byrne...

F. W. Topham .... 304

51. THE COQUET

52. HAWKING .........................

53. WREATI OF FLOWERS

THE

POETS AND ARTISTS

OF

GREAT BRITAIN.

B

"

GEOFFREY CHAUCER was born in London in the year 1328. So little is known of his early history that his biographers have left us uncertain whether his father was “a nobleman," "a knight," "a vintner," or "a merchant." Indeed the only accounts of the great Poet on which any reliance can be placed are those which we gather from his writings. He was, doubtless, of gentle blood, and his family possessed sufficient means to obtain for him the advantages of education at Cambridge. Having improved his mind by travel, it is conjectured that he entered at the Temple; but his after-life was chiefly occupied about the brilliant court of Edward III.; by whose patronage and that of the ambitious John of Gaunt, he obtained profitable employments, and was sent on successive embassies to Genoa and to Rome. He was made comptroller of the customs of wood-under an injunction that “the said Geoffrey write with his own hand his rolls touching the said office;" and also comptroller of the customs of wine-with a grant of a pitcher of wine daily; and continued to live in honourable ease, until, in consequence of his alleged connexion with the followers of Wickliffe, he fell into difficulties and disgrace, endured a long and painful exile, a subsequent imprisonment, and suffered much from the treachery of friends and the malice of enemies. “The bliss of his joy that oft him mirthed was turned into gall;" he relinquished all connexion with courts, and amid the solitudes of Woodstock, enjoyed "the calm and solid pleasures which are the result of a wise man's reflections on the vicissitudes of human life.” Here also, in his green old age, he composed the greatest of his immortal works. The usurpation of Henry IV. called him from his retirement, but the consequent "unlucky accession of business" probably hastened his end. He died on the 25th October, 1400, and was buried in Westminster Abbey, where a monument was, in after years, erected to his memory.

Chaucer is described as one of the handsomest persons about the gallant court of the Plantagenets; of a complexion fair and beautiful; his lips very red and full; his size of a just proportion; his air very graceful and majestic. In his youth, he was "gay and loved pleasure;" but in reviewing such of his writings as “sounen unto sin," he is reported to have exclaimed “woe is me that I cannot recall and annul these things." In maturer life, he was grave and modest even to excess, and “very bashful and reserved in company."

The space to which we are necessarily limited compels us to omit all notice of his many noble poems; except those by which he is best known to posterity-the Canterbury Tales. These exhibit genius the rarest and most varied. It is, indeed, impossible to imagine a more perfect work, either in design or execution. It abounds in genuine humour and true pathos; it is full of sublime descriptions, and displays the minutest knowledge of life and manners. Objects the most familiar and events the most ordinary are described by the same pen that, with almost superhuman skill, depicts the passions and moves them. The characters are all distinctly drawn; each is apart from the other, yet together they represent the classes, customs, and humours of the whole English nation of his age:-all speaking as they would naturally speak, and never for a moment forgetting the positions they are appointed to occupy in the great drama.

If Italian literature had its influence upon his taste and style, and if the origins of his themes are generally to be found in Italy—the spirit is truly and essentially English: the touches of natural beauty were put in among our own green fields; the characters, from the highest to the lowest, are to be found within our own cities or upon our own plains. They belong to his country as much as do the banquets, the processions, and the tournaments which he commemorates in his pages as distinguishing the chivalrous court of the third Edward and his heroic son.

The peculiar characteristic of the genius of Chaucer may be described as an extraordinary union of the grand and the minute, of the most epic imagery with the most distinct detail. He was the first great improver and reformer of our language--the "well of English undefiled:” he wrote before printing had been discovered to preserve and multiply his works ;-yet even now he maintains his reputation for those "ditees and songes glade," which, in his own day, "the londe full-filled," and through which he

" Made årst to distylle and rayne The gold dew drops of speche and eloquence into our tunge."

« PreviousContinue »