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413 bue the dishes were ill-forted; whole pyramids of it to be admired, that Henry, who was a wise, as Sweet-meats, for boys and women ; but little of well as a valiant prince, who claimed by successolid meat, for, men: all this procceded not from fion, and was sensible that his title was not found, zdy want of knowledge, but of judgment; neither but was rightfully in Mortimer, who had married did he want that in discerning the beauties and the heir of York; it was not to be admired, I faults of other poets; but only indulged himself lay, if that great politician should be pleased to in the luxury of writing; and perhaps knew it have the greatest wit of those times in his intewas a fault, but hoped the reader would not find refts, and to be the trumpet of his praises. Auit. For this reason, though he must always be gultas had given him the example, by the advice thought a great poet, he is no longer elteemed a of Mæcenas, who recommended Virgil and Ho. good writer ; and for ten imprellions, which his race to him, whose praises helped to make him works have had in so many succesive years, yet at popular while he was alive, and after his death, present a hundred books are scarcely purchased have made him precious to posterity. As for the once a twelvemonth : for, aş my last Lord Ros religion of our paet, he feenis to have some little chester said, though somewhat profanely, Not bias towards the opinions of Wickliff, after John being of God, he could not stand.
of Gaunt his patron ; somewhat of which 21Chaucer followed nature every where ; but was pears in the tale of Piers Plownian : yet I cannoc never so bold to go beyond her; and there is a blame him for inveighing fo Marply againit the great difference of being Poeta and nimis Poeta, vices of the clergy in his age : their pride, their if we believe Catullus, as much as betwixt a mo ambition, their pomp, their avarice, their worldly deft behaviour and affectation. The verse of interest, deserved the lashes which he gave then, Chaucer, I confess, is not harmonious to us; but both in that, and in most of his Canterbury tales: it is like the eloquence of one whom Tacitus com neither has his contemporary Boccace spared them. mends, it was « auribus iftius temporis accommo Yet both these poets lived in much esteem with "data :" they who lived with him, and some good and holy men in orders; for the scandal time after him, thought it musical; and it conți which is given by particular priests, reflects not Dnes so even in our judgment, if compared with on the sacred function. Chaucer's Monk, his the numbers of Lidgate and Gower, his contem Chanon, and his Fryer, took not from the chaporaries: there is the rude sweetness of a Scotch racter of his Good Parson. A satyrical puet is tune in it, which is natural and pleasing, though the check of the laymen, on bad priests. We not perfect. It is true, I cannot go so far as he are only to take care, that we involve not the inwho published the last edition of him; for he nocent with the guilty in the same condeninawould make us believe the fault is in our ears, tion. The good cannot be too much honoured, and that there were really ten syllables in a verse nor the bad too coarsely used; for the corruption where we find but nine; but this opinion is not of the best becomes the worst. When a clergyworth confuting; it is so gross and obvious an er man is whipped, his gown is first taken off, by ror, that common sense, (which is a rule in every which the dignity of his order is secured : if he thing but matters of faith and revelation) mult be wrongfully accused, he has his action of fanconvince the reader, that equality of numbers in der ; and it is at the poet's peril, if he transgress crery verse, which we call heroic, was either not the law. But they will tell us, that all kind of known, or not always practised in Chaucer's age. satire, though never so well deserved by particuIt were an easy matter to produce some thousands lar priests, yet brings the whole order into conof his verses, which are lame for want of half a tempt. Is then the peerage of England any thing foot, and sometimes a whole one, and which no dishonoured, when a peer suffers for his trcapronunciation can make otherwise. We can only fon? If he be libelled, or any way defamed, he say, that he lived in the infancy of our poetry, has his “ Scandalum Magnatum" to punish the and that nothing is brought to perfection ac the offender. They, who use this kind of argument, first. We must be children before we grow men. seem to be conscious to themselves of somewhat There was an Ennius, and in process of time a which has deserved the poet's lash ; and are less Lacilius and a Lucretius, before Virgil and Ho-concerned for their public capacity, than for their race; even after Chaucer, there was a Spenser, a private ; at least there is pride at the bottom of Harrington, a Fairfax, before Waller and Den- their reasoning. If the faults of men in orders ham were in being; and our numbers were in are all only to be judged among themselves, they their nonage till these last appeared. I need say are in some sort parties ; for, since they fay the little of his parentage, life, and fortunes; they are honour of their order is concerned in every memto be found at large in all the editions of his ber of it, how can we be sure, that they will be works. He was employed abroad, and favoured impartial judges? How far I may be allowed to by Edward the Third, Richard the Second, and speak my opinion in this case, I know not; but I Henry the Fourth, and waspoet, as I suppose, to all am fure a dispute of this nature caused niifchief in three of them. In Richard's time, I doubt, he abundance betwixt a king of England and an was a little dipt in the rebellion of the commons; archbishop of Canterbury; one standing up for and, beinig brother-in-law to John of Gaunt, it the laws of his land, and the other for the howas no wonder if he followed the fortunes of that nour (as he called it) of God's Church; which family; and was well with Henry the Fourth ended in the murder of the prelate, and in the when he bad deposed kis predeceflur. Neither is whipping of his majesty from post to pillar for his
Penance. The learned and ingenious Dr. Drake | will do me none, and are fo far from granting has saved me the labour of inquiring into the me to be a good poet, that they will not allow citeem and reverence which the priests have had me so much as to be a Chriftian, or a moral man); of old; and I would rather extend than diminish may I have leave, I say, to inform my reader, any part of it : yet I must needs fay, that when a that I have confined my choice to such tales of priest provokes me without any occafion given him, Chaucer as savour 'nothing of immodesty. If ! I have no reason, valess it be the charity of a had dcfired more to please than to instruct, the Christian, to forgive him. “Prior læsit" is jufti- Reeve, the Miller, the Shipman, the Merchants, fication fufficient in the civil law. If I answer the Summer, and, above all, the Wife of Bath, hin in his own language, felf-defence, I am fure, in the prologue to her tale, would have procured must be allowed me; and if I carry it farther, me as many friends and rearlers, as there are even to a sharp recrimination, somewhat may be beaux and ladies of pleasure in the town. But 1 indulged to human frailty. Yet my resentment will no more offend against good-manners : 1 am has not wrought so far, but that I have followed lindible, as I ought to be, of the scandal I have Chaucer in his charader of a holy man, and have given by my loose writings; and make what reenlarged on that subject with some pleasure, se paration I am able, by this public acknowledg. serving to myself the right, if I fall think fit inent. “If any thing of this nature, op of prohereafter, to defcribe another sort of priests, such faneness, be crept into these poems, I am so far as are more easily to be found than the good par- from defending it, that I disown it. " Totum hoc fon; fuch as have given the last blow to Christia - " indictum volo." Chaucer makes another mannity in this age, by a practice so contrary to their ver of apology for his broad-speaking, and Boce doctrine. But this will keep cold till another cace makes the like; but I will follow neither of time. In the mean while, I take up Chaucer hem. Our countryman, in the end of his chawhere I left him. He must have been a man of racters, before the Canterbury tales, thus excuses a most wonderful comprehensive nature, becaufe, the ribaldry, which is very gross in many of his as it has been truly observed of him, he has taken novels. into the compass of his Canterbury tales the various manners and humours (as we now call them) But first, I pray you of your courtesy, of the whole English nation, in his age. Not a That ye ne arrettee it nought my villany, single charader has escaped him. All his pilgrims Though that I plainly speak in this mattere arc severally diftinguished from each other; and not To tellen yon her words, and eke her chere: only in their inclinations, but in their very phy Ne though I speak her words properly, fiognomies and persons. Baprifta Porta could For this ye knowen as well as 1, not have described their natures better, than by
Who shall tellen a tale after a man, the marks which the poet gives them. The mat He more rehearse as nye, as ever he can : ter and manner of their tales, and of their telle Iverich word of it been in his charge, ing, are fo fuited to their different educations, All 1peke he, never so reklely, ne large. humours, and callings, that cach of them would Or else he more tellen his tale untrue, be iniproper in any other mouth. Even the Or feine things, or find words new : grave and serious characters are distinguished by He may not spare, although he were his brother, their several forts of gravity: their difcourses are He mote as well fay o word as another. such as belong to their age, their calling, and Chrilt (pake himself full broad in holy writ, their breeding : such as are becoming of them, And well I wote ae villany is it, and them onis. Some of his persons are vicious, Eke Plato faith, who lo can him rede, and some are virtnons; si me are unlearned, or The words mote been coulin to the dede. (ax Chaucer calls them) lewd, and some are learned. Even the ribaldry of the low characters is Yet if a man should have inquired of Beccace different : the Reeve, the Miller, and the Cook, or of Chaucer, what need they had of introducare several man, and dininguished from each ing such characters, where obscene words were other, as much as the mincing lady prioress, and proper in their mou:hs, but very indecent to be the broad-speaking gap-tourh'd wise of Bath, heard, I know not what answer they would have But enough of ibis : there is such a variety of made : for that reason, foch tale hall be left ungame springing up before me, that I am distracto told by me. You have here a specinien of Chased in my choice, and know not which to fullow. cer's language, which is so obsolete, that ins h is fuflicient to fay, according to the proverb, sense is scarce to be understood; and you have that here is God's plenty. We have our fore- likewise more than one example of his unequal fathers and great grand-dames all before us, as numbers, which were mentioned before. Ye: they were in Chaucer's days; their general cha. many of his verses consist of ten syllables, and the racters are still remaining in mankind, and even words not much behind our present English; as in England, though they are called by other for example, these two lines, in the description of names than those of Monks and Friars, and Cha- che carpenter's young wife : nons, and Lady Abelles, and Nung; for' mankind is ever the same, and nothing lost out of Wincing she was, as is a jolly colt, nature, though every thing is altered. May I Long as a mast, and upright as a bolte live to do myself the julice, (Ance my chenies
P R E A C E. I have almost done with Chancer, when I have a certain veneration due to his old language, and answered some objetions relating to my present that it is little less than profanation and sacrilege work. I find some people are offended that I to alter it. They are farther of opinion, that have turned these tales into modern English; be- somewhat of bis good fenfe will suffer in this cause they think them unworthy of my pains, and transfusion, and much of the beauty of his thoughts look on Chaucer as a dry, old-fashioned wit, not will infallibly be loft, which appear with more worth reviving. I have often heard the late Earl grace in their old habit. Of this opinion was of Leicester lay, that Mr. Cowley himself was that excellent person whom I mentioned, the late of that opinion; who, having read him over at Earl of Leicester, who valued Chaucer as much my lord's request, declared he had no taste of as Mr. Cowley despised him. My Lord dissuado him. I dare not advance my opinion against the ed me from this attempt, (for I was thinking of it judgment of so great an author ; but I think it fome years before his death) and his authority fair, however, to leave the decifion to the pubá prevailed so far with me, as tò defer my underlie: Mr. Cowscy was too modeft to set up for a taking while he lived, in deference to him : yet dicator; and being shocked perhaps with his old my reason was not convinced with what he urged file, never examined into the depth of his good against it. If the first end of a writer be to be sense. Chaucer, I confess, is a rough diamond understood, shen, as his language grows obsolete, and must first be polished, e'er he fines. I deny not thoughts must grow obscure : likewise, that, living in our early days of poetry, be writes not always of a piece; but fome “ Multa renafcentur quæ jam cecidere; cadentque, times miogles trivial things with those of greater “ Quæ nunc sunt in honore vocabula; fi volet usus, moment. Sometimes also, though not often, he " Quem penès arbitrium eft, & jus, & norma loruns riot, like Ovid, and knows not when he has
quendi.” said enough. But there are more great wits befides Chaucer, whose fault is their excess of con When an ancient word for its found and figniceits, and those ill forted. An author is not to ficancy deserves to be revived, I have that reasonwrite all he can, but only all he ought. Having able veneration for antiquity, to restore it. All observed this redundancy in Chaucer (as it is an beyond this is superstition. Words are not like cafy matter for a man of ordinary parts to find a landmarks, so sacred as never to be removed ; faule in one of greater), I have not tied myself customs are changed; and even statutes are fito a literal tranllation; but have often omitted Iently repealed, when the reason ceases for which what I judged unnecessary; or not of dignity they were enacted. As for the other part of the enough to appear in the company of better argument, that his thoughts will lose of their thoughts. I have presumed farther, in some original beauty, by the innovation of words; in places, and added somewhat of my own where I the first place, not only their beauty, but their thought my author was deficient, and had not gi- being is lost, where they are no longer underven his thoughts their true lustre, for want of dood, which is the present caie. I grant that words in the begioning of our language. And to something must be loft in all transfufion, that is, this was the more emboldened, because (if I in all translations; but the fenfe will remain, may be permitted to say it of myself) I found 1 which would otherwise be lott, or at least be I had a foul congenial to his, and that I had been maimed, when it is fcarce intelligible; and that conversant in the fame studies. Another poet, in but to a few. How few are there who can read another age, may take the same liberty with my Chaucer, so as to understand him perfectly! writings, if at least they live long enough to de- And if imperfedly, then with lefs profit and no ferve correction. It was also neceffary some pleasure. It is not for the use of some old Saxon times to restore the sense of Chaucer, which friends, that I have taken these pains with him: was lost or mangled in the errors of the prefs : let them neglect my version, because they have no let this example suffice at present; in the story of need of it. I made it for their fakes who underPalamon and Arcite, where the temple of Diana ftood fense and poetry as well as they, when that is described, you find these vérses in all the edi- poetry and sense is put into words which they tions of our author :
understand. I will go farther, and dare to add,
that what beauties I lose in some places, I give to There saw I Danè turned into a tree, others which had them not originally: but in I mean not the goddess Diane,
this I may be partial to myself; lei che reader But Venus daughter, which that hight Dane. judge, and I submit co his decision. Yet I think
I have just occafion to complain of them, who, Which, after a little confideration, I knew was to because they understand Chaucer, would deprive be reformed into this sense, chat Daphne the the greater part of their councrymen of the fame daughter of Peneus was turned into a trce. I advantage, and heard him up, as milers do their duri not make thus bold with Ovid, left fome grandam gold, only to look on it themselves, and future Milbourn should arise, and say, I varied hinder others from making use of it. In sum, 1 from my author, because I understood him not. seriously proteft, that no man ever had, or can
But there are other judges who think I ought have, a greater veneration for Chaucer than my. Diot to have translated 'Chaucer into English, out self. I have translated some part of his <s, of a quite cóngary notion : they suppose there is only that I might perpetuase his memory, or as
least refresh it, amongit my countrymen. If !, without inherent virtue, which is the true nobis have altered him any where for the better, I must lity. When I had closed Chaucer, I returned to at the same time acknowledge, that I could have Ovid, and tranflated some more of his fables; and done nothing without him : “ Facile est inventis by this time had so far forgotten the Wise of “ addere," is no great commendation; and I am Bath's tale, that when I took up Buccace, unanot so vain to think I have deserved a greater. I wares I fell on the same argument of preferring will conclude what I have to say of him singly, virtue to nobility of blood and titles, in the fory with this one remark : a lady of my acquain of Sigismunda; which I had certainly avoided tance, who keeps a kind of correspondence with for the resemblance of the two discourses, if my fome authors of the fair sex in France, has been memory had not failed me. Let the reader weigh informied by them, that Mademoiselle de Scu them both ; and if he thinks me partial to Chaudery, who is as old as Sibyl, and inspired like her cer, it is in him to right Boccace. by the same god of poetry, is at this tine trans I prefer in our countryman, far above all his laring Chaucer into modern French. From which other stories, the noble poem of Palamon and I gather, that he has been formerly translated in Arcite, which is of the epic kind, and perhaps to the old Provençal (for how she should come to not much inferior to the Ilias or the Æneis: the understand old English I know not). But the itory is more pleasing than either of them, the matter of fact being true, it makes me think that manners as perfect, the diction as poetical, the there is something in it like fatality; that, after learning as deep and various; and the disposition certain periods of time, the fame and memory of full as artful; only it includes a greater length of great wits Mould be rencwed, as Chaucer is both time, as taking up seven years at least; but Ariin France and England. If this be wholly chance, stotle has left undecided the duration of the ac. it is extraordinary, and I dare not call it more, tion, which yet is easily reduced into the com. for fear of beiug taxed with superstition.
pass of a year, by a narration of what preceded Boccace comes last to be considered, who, liv the return of Palamon to Athens. I had thought ing in the faine age with Chaucer, had the same for the honour of our nation, and more particu. genius, and followed the same studies; both writ larly for his, whose laurel, though unworthy, I novels, and each of them cultivated his mother have worn after him, that this story was of Engtonguc. But the greatest resemblance of our two lish growth, and Chaucer's own : but I was unmodern authors being in thcir familiar stile, and deceived by Boccace; for casually looking on the pleasing way of relating comical adventures, I end of his seventh Giornata, I found Dioneo (um may pass it over, because I have translated no
der which name be shadows himself) and Fiathing from Boccace of that nature. In the se metta (who represents his mistress the natural rious part of poetry, the advantage is wholly on daughter of Robert King of Naples) of whom Chaucer's fide'; for though the Englishman has these words are spoken, “ Dionco e la Fiametta borrowed many tales from the Italian, yet it ap granpezza contarono insieme d' Arcita, e di pears that those of Boccace were not generally of “ Palamone :" by which it appears that this his own making, but taken from authors of for story was written before the time of Boccace; nier ages, and by him only modelled; so that but the name of its author being wholly loft, what there was of invention in cither of theni, Chaucer is now become an original; and I quesmay be judged equal. But Chaucer has refined tion not but the poem has received many beau. on Boccace, and has mended the stories which he ties by passing through his noble hands. Besides has borrowed, in his way of telling; though this tale, there is another of his own invention, prose allows more liberty of thonght, and the ex after the manner of the Provençals, called the pression is more easy when uncunsined by num Flower and the Leaf; with which I was so para bers. Our countryman carries weight, and yet ticularly pleased, both for the invention and the wins the race at disadvantage. I desire not the moral, that I cannot hinder myself from recom. reader should take my word; and therefore I will mending it to the reader. fet two of their discourses on the same subject, in As a corollary to this presace, in which I have the same light, for every man to judge betwixt done justice to others, I owc fomewhat to myo them. I translated Chaucer first, and amongst self; not that I think it worth my time to enter the rest, pitched on the Wife of Bath's tale; not the lifts with one Milbourn, and one Blackmore, daring, as I have said, to adventure on her pro- but barely to take notice, that such men there logue, because it is too licentious: there Chaucer are who have written fcurrilously against me, introduces an old woman of mean parentage,
without any provocation. Milbourn, who is in whom a youthful knight of noble blood was fore-Orders, pretends, amongst the rest, this quarrel ed to marry, and confequently loathed her : the to me, that I have fallen foul on priesthood : if I crone being in bed with him on the wedding-have, I am only to ask pardon of good prieits, night, and finding his averfion, endeavours to and I am afraid his part of the reparation will wiu his affection by reason, and speaks a good word come to little. Let him be satisfied that he shall for herfell, (as who could blanie her ?) in hope not be able to force himself upon me for an adto mollify the sullen bridegroom. She takes her versary. I contemn him too much to enter into topics from the benefits of poverty, the advan- competition with him. His own trandations of tages of old age and ugliness, the vanity of Virgil have answered his criticisms on mine. If youth, and the billy pride of ancestry and titles, (as they say, he has declared in prist) ho prefers
the version of Ogilby to mine, the world has | wise, he will be glad of ny repentance. It becomes made him the same compliment: for it is agreed me not to draw my pen in defence of a bad cause, on all hands, shat be writes even below Ogilby: when I have so often drawn it for a good one. Yet that, you will say, is not easily to be done ; but it were not difficult to prove, that in many places what cannot Milbourn bring about? I am fatis- he has perverted my meaning by his glosses; and fed, however, that while he and I live together, interpreted my words into blasphemy and baudry, Ihall not be thought the worst poet of the age. It of which they were not guilty; besides that, he looks as if I had desired him underhand to write is too much given to horse-play in his raillery; fo ill against me; but, upon my honest word, ! and comes to battle like a dictator from the plough. have not bribed him to do me this service, and I will not say, The zeal of God's house has eaten am wholly guiltless of his paniphlet. It is true, him up; but I am sure it has devoured some part I should be glad, if I could persuade him to conti- of his good manners and civility. It might allo bue his good offices, and write such another cri- be doubted whether it were altogether zeal, which tique on any thing of mine : for I find by expe- prompted him to this rough manner of proceedrience he has a great stroke with the reader, ing; perhaps it became not one of his function to when he condemns any of my poems, to make rake into the rubbish of ancient and modern the world have a better opinion of them. He plays: a divine might have employed his pains has taken some pains with my poetry; but no to better purpose, than in the nattiness of Plautus body will be persuaded to take the same with his. and Aristophanes; whose examples, as they exI had taken to the church (as he affirms, but cuse not me, so it might be possibly supposed, which aever was in my thoughts) I should have that he read chem not without some pleasure. had more sense, if not more grace, than to have They who have written commentaries on those turned myself out of my benefice by writing li- poets, or on Horace, Juvenal, and Martial, have bels on my parishioners. But his account of my explained fome vices, which without their intermanners and my principles are of a piece with his pretation had been unknown to modern times. cavils and his poetry; and so I have done with Neither has he judged impartially betwixt the him for ever.
former age and us. As for the City Bard, or Knight Physician, I There is more baudry in one play of Fletcher's, hear his quarrel to me is, that I was the author called The Custom of the Country, than in all of Absalom and Achitophel, which he thinks is a ours together. Yet this has been often acted on little hard on his fanatic patrons in London. the stage in my remembrance. Are the times
But I will deal the more civilly with his two So much more reformed now, than they were five poems, because nothing ill is to be spoken of the and twenty years ago ? If they are, I congratudead ; and therefore peace be to thc Manes of his late the amendment of our morals. But I am Arthurs. I will only say, that it was not for this not to prejudice the cause of my fellow-poets, Doble knight that I drew the plan of an Epic though I abandon my own defence : they have poem on King Arthur, in my preface to the some of them answered for themselves, and neitranslation of Juvenal. The guardian angels of ther they nor I can think Mr. Collier so fora kingdoms were machines too ponderous for him midable an enemy, that we should shun him. He to manage; and therefore he rejected them, as has lost ground at the latter end of the day, by Dares did the whirlbats of Eryx, when they were pursuing his point too far, like the Prince of thrown before him by Entellus. Yet from that Conde at the battle of Senneph: from immoral preface he plainly took the hint: for he began plays, to no plays; “ ab abusu ad usum, non vaimmediately upon the story, though he had the let consequentia” But being a party, I am not baleness not to acknowledge his benefa&or ; but, to erect myself into a judge. As for the rest of intead of it, to traduce me in a libel.
those who have written against nie, they are such I shall say the less of Mr. Collier, because in scoundrels, that they deserve not the least notice many things he has taxed me juftly; and I have to be taken of them. Blackmore and Milbourn pleaded guilty to all thoughts and expressions of are only distinguished from the crowd, by being, mine, which can be truly argued of obscenity, pro- remembered to their infamy. faneness, or immorality, and retract them. If he be my enemy, let him triumph; if he be any friend, "Demetri, Teque Tigelli usthave given him no personaloccafion to be other “ Discipulorum inter jubco plotare cathedras.".