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NATURAL HISTORY OF COMMERCE. average depth is not over thirty or forty fathoms, which
would not cover the chimney-shafts of many of our CHAPTER II.
factories, and in no part are the soundings deep, except Our National Home-Its Climate, Soil, and Consequences resulting off the precipitous coasts of Norway, which the Atlantic,
therefrom--Latitude of the United Kingdom and Contrast of Cor: rather than the North Sea, may be said to lave. Traversresponding Latitudes-Position of the United Kingdom relative to Europe - Climate-Diversities of Temperature Diversities of ing this sea are also many shoals and sand-banks, the Rainfall-Causes of Diversity-Gull Stream-Deflection of Iso- largest being the Dogger, 350 miles long, running norththerms-Current and Counter-Current-Aërial Currents--Botani- ward, midway between the coast of Northumberland and cal or Floral Regions-Iberian or Asturian, Armorican, Germanic, Jutland. Some of these banks come within six or seven and Borenl Regions-Minor Diversities of Climate and Vegetation fathoms of the sea-level. --Chart of Floral Regions.
The neighbouring lands on both sides the German The United Kingdom, between 50° and 61° N. lat., by Ocean assume the features of the sea-bed. Parts of 2° E. and 11° W. long., comprises several hundred islands, Holland are forty feet below the sea-level, and are only of which Great Britain and Ireland are the chief, the protected from marine irruptions by embankments and remainder being unimportant.
sand dunes. Jutland is entirely alluvial. English Great Britain includes England, Wales, and Scotland, Holland," or the Fen districts, in the
neighbourhood of and is the largest island in Europe.
the Wash, consists of land rescued from the sea, much of The British Empire comprehends, besides the United it so low-lying as also to require dykes and embankments Kingdom, colonies and possessions in every zone, so ex- to prevent inundation. In fact, the great European plain tensively and widely dispersed as to give literal truth to commences in the tertiary and alluvial deposits of Engthe saying, that the sun never sets on the Queen's domi- land, takes in the German Ocean, embraces the Nethernions.
lands and Denmark, and then sweeps along the low lands The latitude of the United Kingdom corresponds with and stoneless steppes below St. Petersburg, and extends that of the cold and sterile regions of Labrador, in to the Caspian Sea. The whole plain gives evidence of America, and the ice-bound shores of Kamtschatka, in an ancient sea-bed, of which the sandy flats about Calais Asia. In the southern hemisphere its like or analogue and Berlin, and the lake-plain of Pomerania, are parts, is the cheerless land of Tierra del Fuego. London is and with which England is conjoined. The United in the same latitude as the Strait of Belleisle and Cape Kingdom consequently retains, in many respects, a Lopatka; Edinburgh, the northern metropolis, corre- European character, although insular. sponds with Moscow, and also with Cape Horn.
2nd. Climate of the United Kingdom. What is meant These are striking contrasts. We cannot imagine a by Climate ? flourishing people living in the bleak and pitiless "Climate,” says Professor Ansted, "is a resultant of countries just referred to. From what, then, are our all the atmospheric phenomena, embracing the temperaimmunities derived ? A well-known American writer ture of the air at various times and seasons, the range says of England :
and variation of the temperature, the direction and force of ** The territory has a singular perfection. The climate the prevalent winds, the liability to storm, the amount of is warmer by many degrees than it is entitled to by humidity in the air at various seasons, the quantity of latitude. Neither hot nor cold, there is no hour in the mist and rain, the distribution of rain, and the varieties whole year when one cannot work. The temperature of electrical condition. makes no exhaustive demands on human strength, but “ These phenomena affect and depend on each other, allows the attainment of the largest stature. In variety but all may ultimately be traced to certain general of surface it is a miniature of Europe, having plain, causes. forest, marsh, river, sea-shore; mines in Cornwall, caves "1. The position of the station in latitude. in Derbyshire, delicious landscape in Dovedale, and sea "2. The size and figure of the land on which the view at Torbay; highlands in Scotland; Snowdon in station is situated, whether detached island, archipelago, Wales; in Westmoreland and Cumberland, a pocket Swit- or continent. zerland, in which the lakes and mountains are on a "3. The elevation of the station above the sea. sufficient scale to fill the eye and to touch the imagina “4. The position of the land on which the station is
placed, with reference to the neighbouring land. “From first to last it is a museum of anomalies. This “5. The position, distance and direction, magnitude foggy and rainy country furnishes the world with astro- and elevation, of the nearest continent. nomical observations. Its short rivers do not afford "6. The natıre, magnitude, and direction of the nearest water-power, but the land shakes under the thunder of great marine current to its shores." its mills. There is no gold mine of any importance, but The phenomena of the climate of the United Kingdom there is more gold in England than in all other countries. may be summarised under the heads of Diversities of It is too far north for the culture of the vine, but the Temperature,
and Diversities of Rainfall. wines of all countries are in its docks; and oranges and 1. Diversities of Temperature. pine-apples are as cheap in London as in the Mediter The western coast of Ireland is 10° warmer than tho
like latitude on the east coast of England. Scotland, Position of the United Kingdom relative to Europe. compared with England, is cold and wet, although not The relative position and climate of the United subject to extremes. The winters, indeed, are so mila Kingdom are both peculiar. Great Britain is insulated that the harbours generally do not freeze, as on the Confrom the Continent, of which it is the natural boundary, tinent, in similar and even in lower latitudes. The its seasons are abnormal, and its temperature is arti: Western Islands have a uniform and genial climate, con
trasting with the opposite coast. Unst, one of the Shet1st. Position of the United Kingdom.
lands, and the Isle of Wight, correspond in winter For about a hundred miles west of Ireland the slope of temperature, although nearly 700 miles, or 10° of latitude, the sea-bed is gradual, when a sudden descent occurs of separate them. more than 2,000 feet, forming submarine cliffs that mark Again, Devonshire and Cornwall, in point of winter the confines of the Old World. The bed of the German temperature, are warmer than London by 5o; Penzanco Ocean, on the other hand, is generally shallow. Its and Torquay, in mildness and salubrity, resemble
Madeira, and are recommended to patients affected with "English Traits." By R. W. Emerson.
350 39'0 414 40.5 36'2 40*5
54 33 54 15 53 24 51 36
The diversities of temperature are tabulated in the
Coast and Interior.
Coast and Interior, Inverness 27.0 inches, Cape Wrath
386 inches. 25.0
480 Edinburgh Winter Tem Summer
Mean TemLOCALITY. Latitude.
W. Denton, North
Glasgow perature. Temperature. perature.
Lake Districts, from
50-0 to 140.6 Fahrenheit
58° 29' N. Wick
43-0 63'4 Dundee
Mean of West Side,
3. Causes of Diversity. London 39.5
Our western shores are bathed by an ever-flowing Chichester
warm current from the Atlantic, called the Gulf Stream.
The winds, for more than two hundred days in the year, West Side.
blow in the track of this great marine current, and fill Winter Tem- Summer Mean Tem. the air with humid vapours exhaled from its surface. LOCALITY, Latitude. perature. Temperature perature. The Gulf Stream originates in the embayed waters of
Mexico, whence, heated and expanded by a tropical sun, Fahrenheit. Glasgow
39-6° 55° 51' N.
it issues as an ocean river through the Narrows of
49.80 Whitehaven 399
Florida. Widening in its course northwards, it dirides
49.0 Isle of Man
49-8 in mid-Atlantic. One current curves to the parched Liverpool.
plains of Africa, and becomes lost in the equatorial Swansen
waters. A polar prolongation, accurately defined, Penzance.
diverges till it fills the space between Iceland and NorIreland.
way. By its influence the North Cape is freed from ice
even in the depth of winter, and its effects are felt as far Winter Tem
Summer Mean TemLOCALITY. Latitude.
as Spitzbergen, where its interfusion with the ocean beperature. Temperature perature.
comes complete. Fahrenheit.
The United Kingdom fully receives the beneficial Belfast 54° 36' N.
63.90 52-3° influences of this stream. The warm air and heated Antrim i
flood combine to deflect the isothermal lines northward, Dublin
raising the temperature and giving to high European
latitudes the amenities of a southern climate. Now it is Mean Temperature of the
a physical law that every current, whether aërial or whole Coast.
marine, has a corresponding counter-current. We find,
therefore, firstly, that at an undefined distance to the West Coast of Great Britain 40.3° Fahr. 59.00
west, a cold stream flows down Baffin's Bay, and past the East Coast of Great Britain
Greenland shores, sinking by its density beneath the Mean Temperature of hottest month (July), 60-0° to 65.0°. Gulf Stream, and completing its circuit; secondly, that, Mean Temperature of sea on West Coast in winter is 41.0°.
to the east, a polar counter-current blows over the 2. Diversities of Rainfall.
distant Russian plains to complete the aërial circuit
, Constant humidity rather than amount of rainfall dis- Thus we are twice favoured: by the presence of the low, tinguishes the United Kingdom; for the total rainfall genial currents, and by the absence of the high, inclement is not actually greater than that of many other countries counter-currents, which, respectively, determine the in the same latitude. Nevertheless we owe to it our climate of their neighbourhood. While the western numerous rivers and the fertility which makes nearly the maritime borders of Europe are verdant, the coasts of whole land resemble a garden. Ireland is more humid Labrador are frostbound and barren; and the region of than England, and the western sides of each island are the intensest cold on the globe is in the Russian more humid than the eastern. As a consequence, Ireland dominions. is essentially a grazing country, and in England pasturage During the vernal and autumnal equinoxes the aērial is more common in the western than in the eastern streams in the latitude of the United Kingdom come into counties, where tillage chiefly prevails. These facts are conflict; then the cold easterly and north-easterly winds patent in the familiar terms of Irish butter, Devonshire condense the vapours from the ocean, and produce cream, Cheshire and Gloucester cheese, Hereford short-characteristic fogs. These winds are trying, and often horns, Alderney cows; while Norfolk and Suffolk and prevail for weeks together. the valley of the Thames are suggestive of corn.
Botanical or Floral Regions. At Keswick, Cumberland, the yearly average rainfall is Within the confines of the United Kingdom various 60 inches; in London, the average is 24 inches. The botanical or floral regions have been defined with toleraverage for the whole of the United Kingdom may be able accuracy, each region being characterised by its own between 30 and 40 inches.
climate. The following diagram will give a better view of the Our cloudy sky keeps off heat, prevents radiation, and rainfall :
is favourable to the growth of crops, whose variety makes DIAGRAM OF THE RAINFALL OF THE UNITED KINGDOM. up for the greater certainty of the harvests of the ComIreland.
tinent. Though we do not enjoy uninterrupted fixe weather, there is scarcely a day, except at the equinoxes
, Londonderry 31.0 inches. Westport, Mayo "46-0 inches, when the sun does not shine; and we rarely suffer from Belfast
a succession of bad seasons. Dublin
1. Iberian or Asturian Region. Portarlington.
In the part principally open to the Gulf Stream and Interior 297
and Interior. 47•4 inches. to the prevalent winds, the air is so charged with
moisture, that the sun's warmth is absorbed before reach Minor Diversities of Climate and Vegetation. ing the earth, and fruits that will ripen further north The prevalence of plants in groups has enabled us not here seldom come to perfection. The peach tribe lose only to define botanical districts or floral regions, but favour, and grapes never reach maturity. The crops also to distinguish climate within short distances. If suffer less from drought than from too much wet. every condition were easily traced, the climate of any Botanists designate it as our Asturian or Iberian region, spot could be at once inferred; but our own country from its relation to the Asturias, the Biscayan province exemplifies the difficulties of accounting for the differof Spain. The arbutus, London pride, bell heath, maiden ences of climate in small areas. Brighton differs essenhair fern, and about fifteen other species of plants not tially from Torquay; Bath from Cheltenham; the clioccurring in any other part of Great Britain, are common mates of Malvern, Buxton, and Harrogate are unlike that to both botanical regions. The provinces of Munster and of Scarborough, or the lake districts, and each in turn Connaught in Ireland, and the county of Cornwall with differs from all the rest. It would be a good mental the adjacent parts of Devonshire in England, represent exercise to trace the local or distant cause of these this region. Myrtles are fragrant in the open air diversities :throughout the winter. The evergreen oak, and the
CHART OF FLORAL REGIONS OR BOTANICAL DISTRICTS. arbutus, with leaves hidden under bosses of gorgeous fruit, are prominent in the overhanging woods of Region.
Limits. Characteristics. Analogue. Killarney, and indigenous to its vicinity. A rich neighbouring slip of land running through the two counties of
Humidity. Madeira and Tipperary and Killarney, has for centuries borne the
Evergreens. N. Spain.
S. & W. England,
Pastures and 2. Armorican Region.
Orchard Fruits. and Brittany.
S.E. Ireland. The south-west of England, adjoining Devon and
N. & Cntrl. Ireland, Deciduous Trees Germany Cornwall, agrees in climate with the French provinces Germanic. Central Eugland, and Green Ve and Midof Normandy and Brittany, whose flora is not preva
Scotch Lowlands. getables.
Europe, lent elsewhere in the United Kingdom. Devonshire Boreal, Arctic, Extreme N. Ireland,
(Alps, cyder, Worcestershire perry, indicate the English home
Fir Trees and or Scandi Scottish Highlands,
Sweden, of the apple and pear. "Normandy pippins” is an Davian. Eng. Lake District.
Lapland. equally familiar term. Across the Channel the rural homesteads, the pastures, and orchards continue the natural aspect of England; while the oak, ash, and elm
CORRESPONDENCE IN FRENCH.-IV. lend effect to the picture. Brittany, trending into the Atlantic, is even like Ireland in humidity and warmth. 14.--LETTER SENDING FIRST ORDER TO A FIRM. This district of France, the ancient Armorica, gives a
Bremen, Jan. 1st, 1866. designation to the English botanical region.
Monsieur A. de Carvalho, Trinidad.
Sir,-Your firm has been recommended to me by a friend as: 3. Germanic Region.
one of the best and promptest in executing its correspondents' The vegetation of the midland and eastern parts of orders; I should therefore be glad to enter into business relations the United Kingdom, overlapping likewise every other with you. I beg you to send me, by the first vessel sailing from climatal division, bears a close relation to that of Central your port to Bremen, the following goods :Europe, and comprises the most important and nume. 16 barrels of Virginia leaves, first quality ; rous plants. It is the region of deciduous trees, and 15 barrels of new Carolina rice; includes our chief varieties of timber, with an under
50 barrels of raw sugar. growth of wild apple, cherry, holly, hawthorn, broom,
As I have not the pleasure of being known to you, I beg to furze, wild rose, bramble, and honeysuckle. Food-crops, refer you for all information you may desire to Mr. Aguilar, of both of corn and roots, here reach their highest perfec: your city, an old friend of mine, or to Messrs. Andrada, the
bankers. tion, and every kind of pulse and green vegetables, such as the turnip, carrot, potato, and cabbage, grow in berg and Co., of London, who have received my orders to accept
You may draw, for the amount, upon Messrs. Julius Gerstenabundance.
your drafts. 4. Boreal Region.
I am, Sir, Farther north, the Scottish Highlands approximate in
Your obedient servant,
JACQUES LEMAITRE. character to Scandinavia, the features being partially shared by the hills of Cumberland and Westmoreland.
Bremen, le 1er Janv. 1866. Vegetation greatly differs from that of the plains, and is Monsieur A. de Carvalho, île de la Trinité. analogous to the dwarfed progeny of the snow-clad Alps,
Monsieur,-Un de mes amis m'a recommandé votre maison or of the Arctic lands. Hence its botanical name,
the comme un des plus solides et des plus exactes à exécuter les Boreal, or Scandinavian Region. The favoured parts of commissions de ses commettants ; je serais donc bien aise d'entrer Sweden, and even of Lapland, are so nearly alike in soil navire qui partira de chez vous pour Bremen les marchandisesand climate to Great Britain, that three-fourths of their suivantes, savoir :vegetation is common to this country. While, however, 16 barriques de feuilles de Virginie, première qualité ; our highlands are nearly bereft of forests, and even Eng 15 barriques ris nouveau, de la Caroline ; land has yielded much of its forest land to the exigencies 50 tonneaux de sucre brut. of husbandry, Sweden is covered with trees, and Lap Comme je n'ai pas l'honneur d'être connu de vous, vous land's woods are the chief source of its wealth. On the pourrez prendre des informations sur mon compte, soit chez other hand, the summer scene presented by the wide- M. Aguilar de votre ville, mon ancien ami, qui vous fixera sur stretching archipelago upon which Stockholm is founded, le degré de confiance que je mérite, soit chez Messieurs Andrada, might be transferred to the balmiest part of the English banquiers. coast; for the larks of those islets fill the air with song, Vous pouvez tirer pour le montant sur Messieurs Jules Gerand the ground is matted with wild
strawberries, inter stenberg et Cie, de Londres, qui ont reça ordre d'accepter vos strewn with bright pinks and dog-daisies ; every breath traites.
Agréez, Monsieur, of the balmy air seems redolent of wild' thyme, meadow
Mes civilités empressées, sweet, and other fragrant plants.
15.—LETTER PROPOSING TO ENTER INTO BUSINESS tiers du montant des consignations qui nous seront adressées RELATIONS.
en recevant facture, connaissement et l'ordre de faire l'assu. New Orleans, Feb. 10th, 1860. Messrs. A. J. Smith Bros. & Co., Havre.
Inutile de vous dire que nous profiterons de tous les navirea Gentlemen,-Mr. A. Rieu, of your city, whom we were fortu. en partance pour la Nouvelle-Orléans pour vous tenir au courant nate enough to meet in New York, spoke in high terms of your de l'état de notre marché. firm, and assured us that we could not entrust our affairs to
Agréez, Messieurs, better hands than your own. We hasten, therefore, on Mr.
l'assurance de notre estime, Rieu's recommendation, to ask you if it will suit you to receive
A. J. SMITH FRÈRES & CH our consignments of tobacco and cotton, and take upon yourselves equally the liquidation of our engagements to the value of the goods so sent
LESSONS ON ENGLISH LITERATURE.-IV. Should you accept our proposition, be good enough to send us à pro-formâ account sale, in order that we may have some
CHAUCER AND HIS TIMES. notion of the expenses and usages of your place.
GEOFFREY CHAUCER, the great poet of this period, the greatest We are, Gentlemen,
indeed whom England produced down to the age of Elizabetă, Most obediently yours, was recognised as such during his life no less than after his dealu LEWIS FRISBY, McHenry & Co. Naturally, therefore, from the notices of him in the writings d La Nouvelle-Orléans, le 10 Février, 1860.
his contemporaries, and from public documents, we know many Messieurs A. J. Smith Frères & Cie, au Håvre.
details of his later life, enough to enable us to form a very far Messieurs,--M. A. Rieu de votre ville, que nous avons en
picture of his circumstances and mode of living. But of his le plaisir de voir à New-York, en nous faisant l'éloge de votre early life and the circumstances of his birth we can learn litte. loyauté en affaires, nous a assurés que nous ne pouvions mieux As to his parents, nothing is known. We can only infer thsi contier nos intérêts qu'à vous. Nous nous hâtons donc, sur la which their son's works show that he must have received
they must have been moderately wealthy, from the education recommandation de M. Rieu, de vous demander s'il vous conviendrait de recevoir nos consignations de tabac et de coton, the place of his birth we have no clue. Even the date of i: et de vous charger également de l'acquit d'engagements pour that Chaucer was born in 1328, but there is no positive evidence
cannot be ascertained with any certainty. Most writers state une somme équivalente à la valeur de nos envois. nous remettre un compte de vente simulé, afin que nous puis- two the earlier date is the more likely to be the true one or Si vous acceptez notre proposition, veuillez bien, Messieurs, in favour of this date. Other accounts place his birth as late
as 1344, but also upon insufficient authority. Probably of the sions nous rendre compte des frais et usages de votre place. Agréez, Messieurs,
near the true one. Nor is there any more certainty as to his l'assurance de notre parfaite considération,
education. Some have said that he received his education at LEWIS FRISBY, McHENRY & CIX.
Cambridge, on the authority of a passage in his early poem, the
“ Court of Love,” in which a visit to the court of Venus is 16.—LETTER IN REPLY TO THE ABOVE.
related by one who calls himself “Philogenet of Cambridge,
Clerk," by which title Chaucer is assumed correctly to describe Havre, March 20th, 1860.
himself. Some have said that he was educated at Oxford, Messrs. Lewis Frisby, McHenry & Co., New Orleans.
but no evidence of this has come down to us. Others Gentlemen,-We have to acknowledge the receipt of your again have declared that he was both at Oxford and at Cam: favour of the 10th of February, and hasten to reply.
bridge. It is commonly asserted, too, that he studied lay as We willingly accept your proposals, and shall be delighted to a student in the Inner Temple. But this is very unlikely; see relations established between our two houses that may for it is at least extremely doubtful whether the lawyers ks] prove mutually advantageous. You may rest assured we will do yet obtained possession of the Temple when Chaucer was a all in our power to merit the good opinion Mr. Rieu has inspired you with, and show ourselves worthy of the confidence reposed education is that every page of his works shows him to
All that can be said with confidence about his
young man. in us.
have been a man not only of rare genius, but of high culture, We hasten to satisfy your wishes by sending you enclosed a possessing an extensive acquaintance both with literature and pro-formå account sale, that may serve you as a basis for future science. operations. Our own terms are 2 per cent. commission and
Chaucer, like almost all gentlemen of his day, spent some 2 per cent. delcredere. We shall be ready to make advances to the extent of two- under Edward III., and was made prisoner. But he probab
time in military service. In 1359 he was serving in France thirds of the invoice amount of goods consigned to us for returned to England the following year. He soon afterwards sale, on receipt of invoice, bills of lading, and orders for insu- married Philippa de Roet, daughter of Sir Payne Roet, a gentle rance.
man of Hainault, in the service of the Queen. Chatoor's wat It is unnecessary to observe that we shall send you accounts had been a maid of honour to the Queen, and afterwards entered of the state of the market by all the boats leaving for New the service of Constance, the second wife of John of Grant Orleans. We remain, Gentlemen,
Duke of Lancaster. Thus probably began Chancer's connectio Your very obedient servants,
with the court, and particularly with John of Gaunt. But this A. J. SMITH BROS. & Co.
connection was no doubt strengthened by the fact that Chancer's
wife was a sister of the notorious Katherine Swyneford, fr:
Le Havre, le 20 Mars, 1860. the mistress, and afterwards the wife of John of Gaunt. It is Messieurs Lewis Frisby, McHenry et Cie,
certain that throughout nearly his whole career Chaucer attacked à la Nouvelle-Orléans.
himself steadily to the party of the Duke of Lancaster, and Messieurs, ---Nous accusons réception de votre honorée en became his intimate friend and trusted adviser; and his fortunes date du 10 Février, et nous empressons d'y répondre.
rose and fell with the influence of his patron. In 1367 Chazeer C'est avec le plus vif empressement que nous acceptons vos was appointed a valet of the King's Chamber, an office compropositions, et que nous serons charmés de voir s'établir entre monly held by young men of birth and position. Soon after nos deux maisons des rapports suivis et réciproquement fruc- wards we find him employed on a public mission to Italy;
and tueux. Croyez bien que nous ferons tout ce qui dépendra de during this visit there is some reason to think that he became nous pour répondre dignement à l'opinion que M. Rieu vous acquainted with Francis Petrarch, the great poet of Italy. -L a inspirée, et à la confiance dont vous voulez nous honorer. 1374 Chaucer was appointed Controller of the Customs for the
Nous nous empressons de satisfaire à vos désirs en vous port of London. But, notwithstanding his holding this post remettant sous ce pli un compte de vente simulé, afin qu'il vous he still continued to be employed abroad from time to time puisse servir
de base pour vos opérations futures. Nos con- upon various diplomatic missions, the precise nature of which ditions sont: 2 pour cent de commission et 2 pour cent de cannot for the most part now be determined. In 1386 he sa ducroire.
in the House of Commons as a representative of the county or Nous sommes prêts à faire des avances pour les denx Kent. But in the same year, the party hostilo
to John of
Cannt having come into power, Chaucer felt a corresponding in mind when we come to remark upon the poems of Chaucer Referse of fortune, and lost the office he had so long held. In singly. 1389 the Lancastrian party were once more in the ascendant, Before proceeding to consider the poetry of Chaucer in deand Chancer was appointed to the valuable office of Clerk of the tail, it is necessary to speak very shortly upon matters which King's Works. But misfortune again overtook him. In about have given rise to much controversy—the language in which he two years he lost all the offices which he had held; in his wrote, and the principle of versification which he adopted. distress he was compelled to sell or mortgage the pensions Some writers have treated Chaucer as one who spoiled the which had been conferred upon him from time to time, and purity of the English tongue by the wholesale introduction of which had amounted to considerable sums; and was thus French words into it; while others have regarded his works as reduced to very great poverty. In this distress he seems to the most perfect standard of the English spoken in his day. have continued for some years, until in 1394 he received a The truth appears to be that in the main Chaucer used the pension from the king, which was subsequently increased English language as it was usually spoken and written in his sufficiently to place him in comfort. He died on the 25th of day by the aristocracy and among educated men, which would October, 1400, probably at his house in Westminster, and was for obvious historical reasons be less purely Saxon and more buried in Westminster Abbey.
mixed with French than the language of the lower orders. But Not only was Chaucer thus almost throughout his whole life it is also beyond doubt that Chaucer, in enlarging the range of bronght into constant and close intercourse with some of the ideas which were to be expressed in English poetry, must have most eminent political and party leaders of his time, but he found it necessary at the same time to enlarge its vocabulary, also appears to have lived on terms of intimacy with his and that he did so by the adoption of words from the French. brother poets and men of letters. Of these, as we have seen, and though, many words used by him have since been lost, and the greatest was Gower, between whom and Chaucer a close many more have been introduced, it is still truethat the vocafriendship existed. His connection with John of Gaunt, too, bulary thus formed is substantially the same as that now in use. brought him within the circle of the great religious movement With regard to the forms of English words as written by brought about by Wickliffe and his disciples. John of Gaunt Chaucer, a few points must be borne in mind by the reader, was Wickliffe's protector, and the Lancasterian party at that in order to a thorough understanding of the author. In its. time leaned much upon the support of those large classes of the earliest form—the Anglo-Saxon-English was a language, like community who, like Wickliffe, rebelled against the dominion the classical Greek and Latin, with a complete system of inand revolted against the corruptions of the regular clergy. flections-forming, for instance, the cases of its nouns by Hence we can trace throughout the works of Chaucer-in appropriate changes in their termination, instead of by the use his vigorous, and no doubt somewhat exaggerated, pictures of of prepositions, as in the present day. In the English of wealthy and self-indulgent abbots, dissolute monks, and lying Chaucer, though it was not so to the same degree in that of pardoners, contrasted with his attractive sketches of the poor some of his contemporaries, these case-endings, except the s or es and pions parish clergy-his sympathy with the movement of of the genitive, are lost, the rest being represented, if at all, the Reformers.
by an e at the end of the word, which e is sometimes sounded It will easily be seen that the times in which Chaucer lived and sometimes silent. In words of French origin, also, the and the circumstances of his career were peculiarly favourable final e is in Chaucer, as in French poetry, as often sounded for a great and original poet, and especially for one with as mute. The presence of the final e in many words in which Chaucer's unrivalled power of catching and reproducing the it is no longer written, and the fact that this final e is peculiarities in character and habit of classes of men. Border habitually sounded as an additional syllable of the word, is the conntries are the favourite ground of picturesque writers. one strongly marked difference between Chaucer's English and Types of character are more strongly marked and more sharply our own so far as the noun is concerned. But it will be noticed contrasted there than elsewhere. Thus Scott chose for his by every reader of Chaucer that the sounding of the final e is nusual field the border-land between England and Scotland, or by no means an invariable rule; indeed, it is probably quite the dividing line of highland and lowland. And the age of as often silent, especially before a vowel or the letter h, from Chaucer may well be called the border-land between the dark which it may be inferred that in Chaucer's day the older proages and the modern period. In his own great poem he brings nunciation was beginning to give way to the modern. Thus together the knight who had fought for the Cross in Prussia such words as poore (poor) and time are sometimes, as the metre with his brethren of the Teutonic order, and the prosperons shows, to be read as we pronounce them now, and sometimes as London merchant and the essentially modern country gentle poore, time. In the verb, also, there are a few old forms still man; and this was a true picture of the times. So in the retained in Chaucer which we have now lost. Thus the infinitive literature of that age, as we have already seen, the formal and of the verb, instead of being, as now, to seek, is more commonly learned Gower and the rough and antique satirist Langlande to seeken, or to seeke. The plural of the present tense, instead were alike contemporaries of Chancer ; while in Italy Petrarch of being we, you, or they seek, was generally we, you, or hi seeken, was writing poetry as polished and artistic as any that the the stiil older form ending in eth being occasionally found. world has ever seen. This was just the age in which the genius The imperative mood is not seek, but seeketh. In the past of Chaucer, with its singular variety of scope, and its power participle Chaucer still habitually retains the old prefix i or y of seizing points of character, would find fullest play; and (corresponding to the German ge, as gehabt
, from haben) at the Chaucer's varied career was entirely in his favour. As soldier, beginning of the word. Thus he writes itaught, ipinched, courtier, scholar, diplomatist, and man of business, he must isett, when we shouldsay taught, pinched, set. With the exception have had unusual opportunities of studying character and of these points, however, and some others of minor importance, learning the real life of his age. And we find the character the chief differences between Chaucer's English and our own of his poetry in this respect just what we might expect to find are differences of spelling. And
as the eye becomes
accustomed. it under these circumstances. He has left, in such poems as to the older spelling, and the few antique grammatical forms "The Flower and the Leaf” and “The Court of Love," perfect become familiar, every student will find that he meets no greater specimens of the fairyland in which the Troubadours delighted, difficulty in reading Chaucer than that which arises from with all their grace bat all their fantastic unreality. But the an occasional obsolete word, for which a dictionary has to be same poet has left that marvellous photograph from real life, consulted. the prologue to the “Canterbury Tales;" and the genuine and The versification of Chaucer has been the subject of much simple pathos of the story of Griselda. The variety of cha controversy. To some his lines have seemed absolutely without racter in the poetry of Chancer keeps constantly before our metre
, rhythm, or order of any kind; while others have minds that, though he is rightly called the source from which perhaps run into an opposite extreme, and represented his the stream of English poetry takes its rise
, that source itself, versification to be as regular as that of Pope or Goldsmith. like the great lake that feeds the Nile, derives its fulness not The truth seems to be that in general Chaucer's versification only from the springs that arise within its bosom, but from is quite regular, the proper measure of syllables being found the streams whose waters it collects and makes its own. Some in the line and the proper number of accents. The seeming of the various channels of literature which converge in the irregularity arises from not attending to the pronunciation of works of Chaucer we have already pointed out in previous words in Chaucer's time. But, on the other hand, it is plain lessons, and we shall ask our readers to bear this observation that Chaucer did allow himself far greater licence in the