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him the highest kind of approval, and this seems wholly right when one considers how little Chaucer had to assist him, how much he created for himself. Mrs. Browning says, “Not one of the Queen Anne's men, measuring out tuneful breath upon their fingers, like ribbons for topknots, did know the art of versification as the old, rude Chaucer knew it. Call him rude for the picturesqueness of the epithet, but his verse has, at least, as much regularity in the sense of true art, and more manifestly in proportion to our increasing acquaintance with his dialect and pronunciation.”
That he was an ardent lover of nature his writings show, as they contain several positive assertions of the fact and numberless indirect allusions that tell more certainly the state of his feelings. For flowers and the spring time, his fondness became almost a passion. In the Legend of Good Women
“Now have I then eke this conditioun,
And ever shall, till that mine herte die,
He had a keen appreciation of amusing incidents, and worked them into his stories in witty form. He drew these incidents from many sources and used them freely, but withal in a way so altogether original that we cannot charge him with any form of plagiarism. He is probably the greatest narrative poet England has known. Of this phase of his genius Lowell has written: “Chaucer's best tales run on like one of our inland rivers, sometimes hastening a little and turning upon themselves in eddies that dimple without retarding the current; sometimes loitering smoothly, while here and there a quiet thought, a tender feeling, a pleasant image, a golden-hearted verse, opens quietly, as a water lily, to float on the surface without breaking it into a ripple.”
Of the long line of English writers, most have spoken of him in terms of warmest praise. Occleve, a devoted friend, and himself a writer of no mean
“O mayster dere and fadir reverent,
My mayster Chaucer, floure of eloquence.” Spenser called his works a “well of English undefiled.” Elizabeth Barrett Browning writes:
"And Chaucer with his infantine
THE TRAVELS OF SIR JOHN
MANDEVILLE N THE generation that followed Chaucer there appeared a book that became very popular and was accepted in good faith by its readers. Now we know that it is a compilation from many sources and not a record of any
man's travels. However, in the prologue is this account of the author and his purpose:
“I, John Mandeville, Knight, albeit I be not worthy, that was born in England, in the town of St. Albans, and passed the sea in the year of our Lord Jesu Christ, 1322, in the day of St. Michael; and hitherto have been long time over the sea, and have seen and gone through many diverse lands, and many provinces and kingdoms and isles where dwell many diverse folks, and of diverse manners and laws, and of diverse shapes of men; I shall tell the way that they shall hold thither.
“And ye shall understand that I have put this book out of Latin into French, and translated it again out of French into English, that every man of my nation may understand it. But lords and knights and other noble and worthy men that con? Latin but little, and have been beyond the sea, know and understand if I say truth or no, and if I err in devising, for forgetting or else, that they may redress it and amend it. For things passed out of long time from a man's mind or from his sight, turn soon into forgetting; because that the mind of man ne may not be comprehended ne withholden, for the frailty of mankind.” Again in the conclusion this is written:
2. Because of.
And I, John Mandeville, Knight, abovesaid (although I be unworthy), that departed from our countries and passed the sea, the year of grace a thousand three hundred and twenty-two, that have passed many lands and many isles and countries, and searched many full strange places, and have been in many a full good honorable country, and at many a fair deed of arms (albeit that I did none myself, for mine unable insufficience), now I am come home, maugre myself, to rest, for gouts arthritic that me distrain that define the end of my labor; against my will (God knoweth).
“And thus, taking solace in my wretched rest, recording the time past, I have fulfilled these things, and put them written in this book, as it would come into my mind, the year of grace a thousand three hundred and fifty-six, in the thirtyfourth year that I departed from our countries. Wherefore I pray to all the readers and hearers of this book, if it please them, that they would pray to God for me; and I shall pray for them.”
The book has proved entertaining to thousands of people and furnishes us with a delightful example of the language of that early day. You will enjoy better the selections given below, because the spelling has been modernized and some notes have been added.
THE HOLY CROSS
Lord was made of four manner of trees, as it is contained in this verse—In cruce fit palma, cedrus, cypressus, oliva." For that piece that went upright from the earth to the head was of cypress; and the piece that went overthwart, to the which his hands were nailed, was of palm; and the stock, that stood within the earth, in the which was made the mortise, was of cedar; and the table above his head, that was a foot and a half long, on the which the title was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, that was of olive.
And the Christian men that dwell beyond the sea, in Greece, say that the tree of the cross, that we call cypress, was of that tree that Adam ate the apple off; and that find they written. And they say also that their scripture saith that Adam was sick, and saith to his son Seth, that he should go to the angel that kept Paradise, that he would send him oil of mercy, for to anoint with his members, that he might have health. And Seth went. But the angel would not let him come in; but said to him, that he might not have the oil of mercy. But he took him three grains of the same tree that his father ate the apple off; and bade him, as soon as his father was dead, that he should put these three grains under his tongue, and grave him so; and so he did. And of these three grains sprang a tree, as the angel said that it should, and bare a fruit, through the which fruit Adam should be saved.
5. Palm, cedar, cypress and olive were in the cross. 6. Bury.