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for whom the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries cannot be said to have existed-was to bring the Englishmen of their generation infinitely nearer to the Middle Ages than were those who lived in the ages of Dryden and Pope, and even of Dr. Johnson. The resultant of all these forces has been the devotion of an ardent yet minute study to Chaucer, and the evolution of a text which is probably superior to that we shall ever have of Shakespeare. This is partly due to the fact that numerous manuscripts of Chaucer remain for comparison,' and partly due to the fact that, unlike Shakespeare, Chaucer hardly ever wrote carelessly, hurriedly, or obscurely. He is, moreover, very regular in his versification, and was very averse to sacrificing perspicuity in the interests of condensation. Some of Chaucer's words are still unexplained, some of his allusions have never been cleared up; but his constructions have been mastered, and the general drift of what he has to say is never in doubt.

Chaucerian scholarship may be said to have had two flowering periods,2-one in the middle of the eighteenth century, which resulted in the ripe fruit of Tyrwhitt's

1 Six of the best manuscripts-Ellesmere, Hengwrt, Cambridge Univ., C. C. C. Oxford, Petworth, Lansdowne were edited side by side by Dr. Furnivall for the Chaucer Society (1868).

2 The vicissitudes of Chaucer's fame form the subject of a very interesting passage in Churton Collins's essays on the predecessors of Shakespeare: "Take Chaucer. In 1500 his popularity was at its height. During the latter part of the sixteenth century it began to decline. From that date to the end of William III.'s reign-in spite of the influence which he undoubtedly exercised over Spenser, and in spite of the respectful allusions to him in Sidney, Puttenham, Drayton, and Milton-his fame had become rather a tradition than a reality. In the following age the good-natured tolerance of Dryden was succeeded by the contempt of Addison and the supercilious

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edition; the second in the sixties of the nineteenth century, and the outcome the excellent editions which are now in our hands: Skeat's critical edition* (Clarendon Press) of Chaucer's Complete Works (7 vols., 1894-7); the Globe edition of the Works (1 vol., 1898); and Lounsbury's edition of the Complete Works and glossary (2 vols., New York, 1900). These texts are based nominally upon the same materials, but they vary considerably in detail, showing the different criteria of judgment, both as regards literary taste and relative importance of manuscripts. Whereas, too, Skeat's edition normalises the orthography, the Globe follows a single manuscript (the Ellesmere), wherever its reading is feasible. Yet the differences between the scholars are small compared with those between the would-be popularisers of the poet. As there have been two harvests of Chaucer's criticism, so there have been two distinct movements for the modernisation of The Canterbury Tales: (1) that associated with Dryden and Pope, and (2) that culminating in the efforts of Leigh Hunt, Richard Horne, Wordsworth, and Cowden Clarke. The phraseology, spelling, and constructions of Chaucer being in many respects obsolete, it was the object of these admirers of the "Homer of English poetry" to attire his best productions in a modern garb. The scholars have almost with one accord discountenanced these attempts, and have covered their projectors with contempt and ridicule. That much is inevitably lost in the process of translation is a proposition which is of course unassailable. Yet it is mere affectation to maintain, as many

patronage of Pope. Between 1780 and 1782 nothing seemed more probable than that the writings of the first of England's narrative poets would live chiefly in the memory of antiquarians. In little more than half a century afterwards we find him placed, with Shakespeare and Milton, on the highest pinnacle of poetic renown."

Chaucerians do, that an untrained reader can master es, sential peculiarities in the space of an hour, and can then enjoy his Chaucer with the best. The number of persons competent to enjoy the niceties of Chaucer's art is necessarily restricted; but the number of persons who could enjoy the substance and matter of his poems, irrespective of the precise manner of presentation, is unbounded-a consideration which inclines one rather strongly to sympathise with Dryden, when he says, "I think I have just reason to complain of those who, because they understand Chaucer, would deprive the greater part of their countrymen of the same advantage, and hoard him up as misers do their grandam Gold, to look on it themselves and hinder others from making use of it."

For general criticism of Chaucer the ordinary reader will do well first to scan what the literary historians have to say: among them he will find much admirable criticism in Stopford Brooke,* Henry Morley, Taine, Jusserand, Chambers, and Ten Brink*; above all, in Warton's and in Courthope's respective histories of English poetry.

If the reader has need of a Chaucer manual, he has again a considerable choice. There is an excellent little Chaucer Primer, by Mr. A. W. Pollard; there is also a highly condensed Guide to Chaucer and Spenser, by F. G. Fleay (1877); The Age of Chaucer, by Mr. F. J. Snell (1901); and Dr. Ward's Chaucer, in the Men of Letters Series; in addition to Skeat's Student's Chaucer (1895) and The Chaucer Canon (1900). For interesting reading about Chaucer the reader will probably find most to entertain him in the three volumes of Studies in Chaucer (London, 1892), by a Yale professor, T. R. Lounsbury. These studies form a series of agreeable, if somewhat diffuse, magazine essays rather than an organic book. In the later stages of his Chaucer course the student will naturally depend much on the Transactions of the Chaucer Society. Yet more important, perhaps, than any of these aids to study is the light thrown upon the subject by such essayists as Hazlitt and Leigh Hunt, Alexander Smith in Dream

thorpe, and J. R. Lowell in My Study Windows. Among notable periodical essays should be mentioned two articles in Blackwood (vols. ii. and lvii.); two in Macmillan (vols. xxiv. and xxvii.)-one by Stopford Brooke, the other by Furnivall; and two in The Quarterly (January, 1873, emphasising the affinity between Chaucer and Shakespeare; and April, 1895, a review of Skeat's edition of Chaucer).



"O moral Gower, this book I directe

To thee, and to the philosophical Strode,
To vouchensauf, ther nede is, to corecte,
Of your benignitees and zeles gode."

-CHAUCER, Troilus and Criseyde.

Warton's criticism of Gower-Confessio Amantis-Sir Thomas Malory-Morte d'Arthur-Its influence in English literature.

CHAUCER'S Canterbury Tales was probably the fourth separate book printed by Caxton at Westminster, and is usually dated about 1478. Five or six years later the printer produced a second edition of the Tales with woodcuts. About the same time that he produced this second edition, or perhaps a little before it, Caxton set to work on a folio edition of Chaucer's recognised foil, John Gower. He tells us himself that he finished printing the Confessio Amantis on September 2nd, 1483. Two years later he gave to the world The Noble Histories of King Arthur and of Certain of his Knights, by Sir Thomas Malory (Westminster, folio, July 31st, 1485). As, among the eighty odd books which Caxton printed at Westminster, these are two of the most famous (if not quite the most famous, with the exception of two or three of Caxton's translations and the three books of Chaucer's which he printed), we shall give here some account of the books and of their authors, as being early examples of the work of the printing-press in perpetuating sound lit


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