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THE hint of the following piece was taken from Chaucer's House of Fame. The defign is in a manner entirely altered, the descriptions and most of the particular thoughts my own: yet I could not fuffer it to be printed without this acknowledgment. The reader who would compare this with Chaucer, may begin with his third Book of Fame, there being nothing in the two first books that answers to their title: wherever any hint is taken from him, the paffage itself is fet down in the marginal notes.


The following note was prefixed to the first edition of this


"Some modern critics, from a pretended refinement of tafte, have declared themselves unable to relifh allegorical poems. It is not eafy to penetrate into the meaning of this criticism; for if fable be allowed one of the chief beauties, or, as Ariftotle calls it, the very foul of poetry, it is hard to comprehend how that fable should be the lefs valuable for having a moral. The ancients conftantly made ufe of allegories. My Lord Bacon has compofed an exprefs treatise in proof of this, entitled, The Wisdom of the Ancients; where the reader may fee feveral particular fictions exemplified and explained with great clearness, judgment, and learning. The incidents, indeed, by which the allegory is conveyed, must be varied according to the different genius or manners of different times; and they fhould never be spun too long, or too much clogged with trivial circumftances, or little particularities. We find an uncommon charm in truth, when it is conveyed by this fideway to our understanding: and it is obfervable, that even in the moft ignorant ages this way of writing has found reception. Almost all the poems in the old Provençal had this turn; and from thefe it was that Petrarch took the idea of his poetry. We have his Trionfi in this kind; and Boccace purfued in the fame track.




Soon after Chaucer introduced it here, whofe Romaunt of the Rofe, Court of Love, Flower and the Leaf, House of Fame, and fome others of his writings are mafter-pieces of this fort. In epic poetry, it is true, too nice and exact a pursuit of the allegory is justly esteemed a fault; and Chaucer had the discernment to avoid it in his Knight's Tale, which was an attempt towards an epic poem. Ariofto, with lefs judgment, gave entirely into it in his Orlando; which, though carried to an excess, had yet fo much reputation in Italy, that Tasso (who reduced heroic poetry to the jufter standard of the ancients) was forced to prefix to his work a fcrupulous explanation of the allegory of it, to which the fable itself could fcarce have directed his readers. Our countryman, Spenfer, followed, whofe poem is almost entirely allegorical, and imitates the manner of Ariofto rather than that of Taffo. Upon the whole, one may observe this fort of writing (however difcontinued of late) was in all times fo far from being rejected by the best poets, that some of them have rather erred by insisting on it too closely, and carrying it too far; and that to infer from thence that the allegory itfelf is vicious, is a prefumptuous contradiction to the judgment and practice of the greatest geninfès, both ancient and modern."


IN that soft season, when descending show'rs
Call forth the greens, and wake the rising flow'rs;
When op'ning buds falute the welcome day,
And earth relenting feels the genial ray;



* It was to the Italians we owed any thing that could be called poetry; from whom Chaucer, imitated by Pope in this vifion, copied largely, as they are said to have done from the bards of Provence, and to which Italians he is perpetually owning his obligations, particularly to Boccace and Petrarch. But Petrarch had greater advantages, which Chaucer wanted, not only in the friendfhip and advices of Boccace, but ftill more in having found fuch a predeceffor as Dante. In the year 1359, Boccace fent to Petrarch, who, it feems, was jealous of Dante, and in the answer speaks coldly of his merits. This circumftance, unobserved by the generality of writers, and even by Fontanini, Crefcembini, and Muratori, is brought forward, and related at large in the third volume (p. 507.) of the very entertaining Memoirs of the Life of Petrarch. In the year 1363, Boccace, driven from Florence by the plague, vifited Petrarch at Venice, and carried with him Leontius Pilatus, of Theffalonica, a man of genius, but of haughty, rough, and brutal manners. From this fingular man, who perished in a voyage from Conftantinople to Venice 1365, Petrarch received a Latin translation of the Iliad and Odyffey. Muratori, in his firft book, Della Perfetta Poefia, p. 18. relates, that a very few years after the death of Dante, 1321, a most curious work on the Italian poetry was written by a M.A. di Tempo, of which he had feen a manufcript in the great library at Milan, of the year 1332, and of which this is the title: Incipit Summa Artis Ritmici vulgaris dictaminis. The chapters are thus divided: Ritmorum vulgarium Septem funt genera; 1. Eft Sonetus; 2. Ballata; 3. Cantio

F 2


As balmy fleep had charm'd my cares to rest,
And love itself was banish'd from my breast,
(What time the morn mysterious vifions brings,
While purer flumbers spread their golden wings)
A train

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extenfa; 4. Rotundellus; 5. Mandrialis; 6. Serventefius; 7. MoIus Confectus. But whatever Chaucer might copy from the Italians, yet the artful and entertaining plan of his Canterbury Tales was purely original and his own. This admirable piece, even exclufive of its poetry, is highly valuable, as it preferves to us the livelieft and exacteft picture of the manners, cuftoms, characters, and habits, of our forefathers, whom he has brought before our eyes acting as on a stage, fuitably to their different orders and employments. With these portraits the drieft antiquary must be delighted. By this plan, he has more judiciously connected these ftories which the guests relate, than Boccace has done his novels : whom he has imitated, if not excelled, in the variety of the fubjects of his tales. It is a common mistake, that Chaucer's excel· lence lay in his manner of treating light and ridiculous fubjects; for whoever will attentively confider the noble poem of Falamon and Arcite, will be convinced that he equally excels in the pathetic and the fublime. It has been but lately proved, that the Palamon and Arcite of Chaucer, is taken from the Tefeide of Boccace, a poem which has been, till within a few years paft, ftrangely neglected and unknown, and of which Mr. Tyrwhitt has given a curious and exact fummary, in his Differtation on the Canterbury Tales, vol. iv. p. 135. I cannot forbear expreffing my furprize, that the circumftance of Chaucer's borrowing this tale, fhould have remained fo long unobserved, when it is fo plainly and pofitively mentioned in a book fo very common as the Memoirs of Niceron; who fays, t. 33. p. 44. after giving an abstract of the story of Palamon and Arcite, G. Chaucer, l'Homere de fon pays, a mis l'ouvrage de Boccace en vers Anglois. This book was published by Niceron 1736. He alfo mentions a French translation of the Teseide, published at Paris, M.D.CC. 1597, in 12mo. The late Mr. Hans Stanley, who was as accurately skilled in modern as in ancient Greek, for a long time was of opinion, that this poem, in modern political Greek verfes, was the original; in which opinion


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