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To bear you from your palace-yard by might,
Nay, quoth the cock; but I beshrew us both,
* In the original, the tale concludes by a reflection of the Fox. The cock had said,
-he that winketh when he should see
Nay, quoth the Fox, but God give him mischance
In this plain fable you the effect may see Of negligence, and fond credulity : And learn besides of flatterers to beware, Then most pernicious when they speak too fair. The cock and fox, the fool and knave imply ; The truth is moral, though the tale a lie. Who spoke in parables, I dare not say ; But sure he knew it was a pleasing way, Sound sense, by plain example, to convey. And in a heathen author we may find, That pleasure with instruction should be join'd; So take the corn, and leave the chaff behind.
FLOWER AND THE LEAF.
The argument of this piece, as given by the editors of Chau. cer, runs thus :
“A gentlewoman, out of an arbour, in a grove, seeth a great company of knights and ladies in a dance, upon the
green grass. The which being ended, they all kneel down, and do honour to the daisy, some to the flower, and some to the leaf. Afterwards this gentlewoman learneth, by one of these ladies, the meaning hereof, which is this : They which honour the flower, a thing fading wih every blast, are such as look after beauly and worldly pleasure ; but they that honour the leaf, which abideth with the root, nol withstanding the frosts and the winter storms, are they which follow virtue and during qualities, without regard of worldly respects."
Some farther allegory was perhaps implied in this poem. Froissart, and other French poets, had established a sort of romantic devotion to the marguerite, or daisy, probably because the homage was capable of being allegorically transferred to any distinguished lady bearing that name. Chaucer might obliquely insinuate the superior valour of the warriors, and virtue of the ladies of Albion, by proposing to them the worship of the laurel, as a more worthy object of devotion than the flower. Nor is this interpretation absolutely disproved by the homage which Chaucer himself pays to the daisy in the Legend of Alcestis.* A poet is no more obliged to be consistent in his mythological creed, than constant in his devotion to one beauty, and may shift from the Grecian to the Gothic creed, or from the worship of Venus to that of Bellona. If every separate poem is consistent with itself, it would be hard to require any farther uniformity.
Mr Godwin has elegantly and justly characterized the present version :-" The poem of • The Floure and the Lefe' is a production of Chaucer, with which Dryden was so particularly plea
* Godwin's Life of Chaucer, Vol. I. p. 346.
ed, both for the invention and the moral,' as to induce him to transfuse it into modern English. He has somewhat obscured the purpose of the tale, which, in the original, is defective in perspicuity; but he has greatly heightened the enchantment of its character. He has made its personages fairies, who annually hold a jubilee, such as is here described, on the first of May; Chaucer had left the species of the beings he employs vague and unexplained. In a word, the poem of Dryden, regarded merely as the exhibition of a soothing and delicious luxuriance of fancy, may be classed with the most successful productions of human genius.“ -Life of Chaucer, Vol. I. p. 344.
FLOWER AND THE LEAF;
LADY IN THE ARBOUR.
Now turning from the wintry signs, the sun