Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

And stonden on his typtoon? therwithal
And strecche forth his nekke, long and smal.'

This Chauntecleer stood heighe upon his toos,
Strecching his nekke, and held his eyghen cloos,
And gan to crowë lowde for the noones;
And daun Russel, the fox, sterte up at oones,
And by the gargethentë Chauntecleer,
And on his bak toward the woode him beer.

66

Certes, such cry ne lamentacioun
Was nevere of ladies maad whan Ilioun
Was wonne, and Pirrus with his streite: swerd,
Whan he hadde hent kyng Priam by the berd
And slayn him (as saith us Eneydos),
As maden alle the hennes in the clos,
Whan they hadde seyn of Chauntecleer the sighte.
But soveraignly dame Pertelotë schrighte4
Ful lowder than dide Hasdrubales wyf,
Whan that hire housbonde hadde lost his lyf.

Lo, how fortune torneth sodeinly
The hope and pride eek of hire enemy!
This cok that lay upon the foxes bak
In all his drede, unto the fox he spak,
And saide, Sire, if that I were as ye,
Yet schulde I sayn (as wiss God helpë me),
• Turneth agein, ye proude cherles alle,
A verray pestilens upon yow falle!
Now am I come unto this woodės syde,
Maugre6 youre heed, the cok schal heer abyde;
I wol him ete, in faith, and that anoon.
The fox answerede, “In faith, it schal be doon."
And as he spak that word, al sodeinly
This cok brak from his mouth delyverly,"
And heigh upon a tree he fleigh anoon.
And whan the fox seigh that he was i-goon,
“ Allas!” quod he, “O Chauntecleer, allas!
I have to yow," quod he, “y-don trespas,
In-as-moche as I makede yow aferd,
Whan I yow hente, and broughte out of the yerd;

7

[blocks in formation]

5 As truly. In spite of.

7 Quickly.

[ocr errors]

But, sire, 1 dede it in no wikke entente.
Com doun, and I schal telle yow what I mente.
I schal seye soth to yow, God help me so.”
“Nay than,” quod he, “I schrewe' us bothe tuo
And first I schrewe myself, bothe blood and boones,
If thou bigile me any ofter than oones.
Thou schalt no morë, thurgh thy flaterye,
Do’ me to synge, and wynkë with myn eye.
For he that wynketh whan he scholde see,
Al wilfully, God let him never the3!”
“Nay,” quod the fox, “but God give him meschaunce
That is so undiscret of governaunce,
That jangleth whan he scholde holde his pees.”

Lo, such it is for to be reccheless
And necgligent and truste on flaterie.
But ye that holden this tale a folye,
As of a fox or of a cok and hen,
Taketh the moralité therof, goode men.
For seint Poul saith that al that writen is
To oure doctrine it is i. write i-wys.
Taketh the fruyt, and let the chaf be stille.

Now goode God, if that it be thy wille
As saith my lord, so make us alle good men,

And bringe us to his heighë blisse. Amen. FURTHER READING.–The remainder of the Prologue, The Knightes Tale, The Tale of the Man of Lawe, The Squieres Tale, The Seconde Nonnes Tale, and The Clerkes Tale, in the Clarendon Press Ceries, and The Parlament of Foules, edited by Prof. Lounsbury. Keep the pupils with Chaucer till they in some degree appreciate the ease, freshness, simplicity, sweetness, tenderness, good sense, good humor, and wholesomeness of his writings. For questions, see Lesson 1.

SCHEME FOR REVIEW.
People at and after the Conquest 36 English Lyrics .....

46 Scotland, France, and Gun- History--Chroniclers

48 powder

36 Mandeville and Wyclif. 49 Effect of the Conquest upon The King's English.

51 the Language...

37

(His three Periods ... 52 Religious Poetry--Ormin and Chaucer. His Character... 55 Langland..

39

His Canterbury Tales 56 Story- | Layamon and Others. 43 Criticism of him and Extracts Telling

1 Poetry. John Gower..... 45 from..

58 i Curse. 2 Cause. 3 Prosper. 4 Misfortune. 5 Careless. 6 Instruction,

PERIOD III.

FROM CHAUCER'S DEATH TO ELIZABETH,

1400-1558.

LESSON 12. Brief Historical Sketch.—First English statute enacting religious bloodshed was that against the Lollards, followers of Wyclif, 1401. Battle of Agincourt, by which Normandy was reconquered, 1415. The Hundred Years' War ended and France delivered, 1451. Joan of Arc the French leader, 1422–31. Jack Cade's Revolt, 1450. House of Lancaster -Hen. IV., Hen. V., and Hen. VI.—1399–1461. House of York-Ed. IV., Ed. V., and Rich. III.-1461-1485. War of the Roses, in which the castles were battered down, and the nobility almost destroyed, 1452–1485. At its close on Bosworth Field, the Earl of Richmond, a Lancastrian, marries Eliz. of York, and becomes Hen. VII., the first Tudor king. At the taking of Constantinople by the Turks, 1453 (they had settled in Europe, 1356) the learned scholars studying the Greek manuscripts there fled principally to Italy. Disclosure of the stores of Greek literature wrought the Revival of Learning. Caxton set up the first printing-press in England, 1476. Only the gentry ate wheaten bread; poorer people ate bread made of barley or rye, sometimes of peas, beans, or oats. Plaster ceilings not yet used. Chimneys introduced about 1485. Discovery of America by Columbus, 1492. Grocyn and Colet the first to teach Greek in England, at Oxford, 14901500. Hen. VIII. succeeded Hen. VII., 1509. Erasmus professor of Greek at Cambridge, 1511. Hen. VIII. fought the battle of Flodden Field against the Scots, 1513. Magellan circumnavigated the earth, 1519. Hen. VIII. became head of the Eng. Church, 1531. First pavement in London, 1534. Sir Thomas More beheaded for refusing to take the Oath of Supremacy to Hen. VIII., 1535. Dissolution of monasteries in England, 1536-9. Rebellion in Ireland crushed, 1535, and in 1541 Hen. VIII. received the title “King of Ireland.” During Ed. VI.'s reign, 1547-53, English prayer-book prepared by Cranmer. Under Mary, 1553–8, English Church again acknowledges the pope, and persecution of heresy is resumed.

[ocr errors]

LESSON 13.

THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY PROSE.-"The last poems of Chaucer and Langland bring our story up to the year 1400. The century that followed is the most barren in the literature. History sank down into a few Latin chroniclers, of whom THOMAS WALSINGHAM is best known. Two Riming Chronicles were written in Henry V.'s time by ANDREW OF WYNTOUN, a Scotchman, and JOHN HARDING, an Englishman. JOHN CAPGRAVE wrote in English, in Edward IV.'s reign, a Chronicle of England which began with the Creation. Political prose is then represented by SIR JOHN FORTESCUE's book on the Difference between Absolute and Limited Monarchy. It is the second important book in the history of English prose. The religious war between the Lollards and the Church went on during the reigns of Henry V. and VI., and, in the reign of the latter, REGINALD PECOCK took it out of Latin into homely English. He fought the Lollards with their own weapons, with sermons preached in English, and with tracts in English; and after 1449, when Bishop of Chichester, he published his work The Repressor of overmuch Blaming of the Clergy. It pleased neither party. The Lollards disliked it, because it defended the customs and doctrines of the Church. Churchmen burnt it, because it agreed with the Bible-men' that the Bible is the only rule of faith. Both abjured it, because it said that doctrines were to be proved from the Bible by reason. Pecock is the first of all the Church theologians who wrote in English, and the book is a fine example of early prose.

GROWTH OF INTEREST IN LITERATURE. —Little creative work was done in this century, and that little was poor. There was small learning in the monasteries, and few books were written. But a good deal of interest in literature was scattered about the country, and it increased as the century went on. The Wars of the Roses stopped the writing, but not the read

[ocr errors]

ing, of books. We have in the Paston Letters, 1422–1505, the correspondence of a country family from Henry VI. to Henry VII., pleasantly, even correctly, written-passages which refer to translations of the classics, and to manuscripts' being sent to and fro for reading. Henry VI., Edward IV., and some of the great nobles were lovers of books. Men like Duke Humphrey of Gloucester made libraries, and brought over Italian scholars to England to translate Greek works. There were fine scholars in England, like John Lord Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester, who had won fame in the schools of Italy. Before 1474, when Caxton finished the first book said to have been printed in England, The Game and Playe of the Chesse, a number of French translations of the Latin authors were widely read. There was, therefore, in England, a general, though an uninformed, interest in the ancient writers.

FIRST INFLUENCE OF THE ITALIAN REVIVAL.-Such an interest was added to by the revival of letters which arose at this time in Italy, and the sixteenth century had not long begun before many Englishmen went to Italy to read and study the old Greek authors on whom the scholars driven from Constantinople, at its capture by the Turks in 1453, were lecturing in the schools of Florence. Printing enabled these men on their return to render the classic books they loved, into English for their own people. The English began to do their own work as translators; and, from the time of Henry VIII. onwards, there is scarcely any literary fury equal to that with which the young scholars fell upon the ancient authors, and filled the land with English versions of them. It is, then, in the slow upgrowth, during this century, of interest in and study of the ancients that we are to see the gathering together at its source of one of the streams which fed that great river of Elizabethan literature, which it is so great a mistake to think burst suddenly up through the earth.

INFLUENCE OF CAXTON'S WORK. — We find another of these sources in the work of our first printer, WILLIAM CAXTON.

[ocr errors]
« PredošláPokračovať »