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FABLES.

TALES FROM CHAUCER.

VOL. XI

N

TO

HIS GRACE

THE

DUKE OF ORMOND.*

Anno 1699. MY LORD SOME estates are held, in England, by paying a fine at the change of every lord. I have enjoyed the patronage of your family, from the time of your excellent grandfather to this present day. I have dedicated the translations of the Lives of Plutarch” to the first duke;t and have celebrated the memory

* James, second Duke of Ormond, was eldest son of the gallant Earl of Ossory, and grandson to the great Duke of Ormond, to whose honours he succeeded in 1688. He was first married to Lady Anne Hyde, daughter of Lawrence Earl of Rochester ; and, upon her death, to Lady Mary Somerset, second daughter of the Duke of Beaufort. The Duke of Ormond was favoured by King William, but attained still higher power and influence during the reign of Queen Anne, especially in her later years, when he entered into all the views of her Tory administration. Upon the accession of George I. he was impeached of high treason, and consulted his safety by flying abroad. He died in Spain in 1746.

The Tales which follow, with the various translations marked in the preface, were first published in 1700, in one volume folio.

+ See Vol. XVII. p. 1.

of your heroic father.* Though I am very short of the age of Nestor, yet I have lived to a third generation of your house; and, by your grace's favour, am admitted still to hold from you by the same te

nure.

I am not vain enough to boast, that I have deserved the value of so illustrious a line; but my fortune is the greater, that, for three descents, they have been pleased to distinguish my poems from those of other men, and have accordingly made me their peculiar care. May it be permitted me to say, that as your grandfather and father were cherished and adorned with honours by two successive mo. narchs, so I have been esteemed and patronized by the grandfather, the father, and the son, descended from one of the most ancient, most conspicuous, and most deserving families in Europe.

It is true, that by delaying the payment of my last fine, when it was due by your grace's accession to the titles and patrimonies of your house, I may seem, in rigour of law, to have made a forfeiture of my claim; yet my heart has always been devoted to your service; and since you have been graciously pleased, by your permission of this address, to accept the tender of my duty, it is not yet too late to lay these poems at your feet.

The world is sensible, that you worthily succeed not only to the honours of your ancestors, but also to their virtues. The long chain of magnanimity, courage, easiness of access, and desire of doing good, even to the prejudice of your fortune, is so far from being broken in your grace, that the precious metal yet runs pure to the newest link of it;

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* See the passage in " Absalom and Achitophel," Vol. IX. p. 242, and the notes on that poem, pages 294-301.

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