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more apparent throughout than the art with which the lines, not governed by syllabic quantities, are made to preserve their true rhythmical proportions. The number of long accented syllables in these cases is invariable; but the number of unaccented syllables constantly fluctuates without impairing the melody of the verse. In other words, an anapæst, or other equivalent foot, often occurs, and sometimes, perhaps, an emphatic monosyllable takes the place of an iambus; and a hypercatalectic, or redundant short syllable, is frequently found at the end of a line.

In stating these to be the only irregularities in Chaucer's verse, it should be understood that he must be read like French or German, and the final letter e pronounced, although not always. The ear must here be the guide as in French verse. For example, in the two following lines of Boileau the final e is pronounced in the word fertile, but is quiescent in the words rare and ignore, because the succeeding word begins with a vowel :

Rare et fameux esprit, dont la fertile veine
Ignore en ecrivant le travail et la peine.

But in every case, every syllable of words of French extraction, such as condicioun must be pronounced, and the accent laid on the last syllable. This is the origin of what has been called by modern metrists the female rhyme.

The best way to make Chaucer's system of versification plain to the reader will be to give a few examples of his different metres, and to mark the syllables with the usual long and short signs.

The heroic verse which Chaucer probably first introduced into English, is the prevailing one in The Canterbury Tales. In the spirited address of Theseus to Emily in the Knightes Tale, most of the peculiarities mentioned above will be found to occur.

Sustyr, quoth hē, | this is | my fūl | ǎssent,
With all thǎvys | heer ōf | my pār | lěmēnt;
That gen til Pā | lămōn, | your ōw | ně knight,
That servĕth yōu | with her | tě, will | ănd might,

And ever | hǎth dōon, | syn ferste | tỷme ỹe | him knēw,
That ye schul ōf | your grace | ŭpōn | hĩm rēwe,

And take | him fōr | your hūs | bond and | för lōrd;
Lĕrne me youre hand, | for this is ōure | ǎccōrd.

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Betwix | hem wās | ĭmāad | ănōn | the bōnd,
That high | tě mā | trimōyn | ŏr mā | rĭāge,

By alle the cōun | seil ōf | the bā | ronage.

In these lines are examples of a foot of three syllables, and ever, supplying the place of an iambus; of the final e pronounced, and quiescent, as it suits the metre; and of the word mariage pronounced as in French. If the following verse be not corrupt, which there is no reason to suppose, the word than, an emphatic syllable, at the beginning of a line, does duty for an iambus, as already noticed :

Thān | is it | wisdom | ăs thēnk | ěth mẽ.

In another verse we have an example of the emphatic word day occurring, instead of an iambus at the cæsura :—

Over the which | day | they may nǎt pace.

With exquisite perception of the properties of verse, the poet has chosen for pathetic subjects a modification of the Italian ottava rima, which differs from its original in wanting the fifth line. In this verse are composed Griselde, The Legend of St. Cecilia, The Tale of the Prioress, Troilus and Creseide, and most of the smaller compositions called ballads. The following example is Constance's touching address to the Virgin, which seems to have suggested Ellen's prayer in The Lady of the Lake.

Moder, quod shē, | ănd māy | dě bright, | Mărie,
Soth is that thūrgh | wŏmmān | nēs ēg | gēmēnt
Mankind was lōrn, | ănd damp | něd ay | to dye,
For which thy child | was on | ǎ crōss | to-rēnt;
Thyn blis ful ēy | ghen sawh | ǎl this | torment;
Then uys thěr nōon | compā | risōun | bitwēne
Thy wō, | ănd ā | nỹ wōo | măy mān | sŭstēne.

The only subject for remark here is that the genitive inflection in womannes forms a separate syllable, and that Marie and torment, being French words, are accented on the last syllable.

In the envoye to the tale of Griselde is to be found a kind of verse which does not occur in any of the other poems. It consists of six heroic lines rhyming alternately, except the fifth, which has no corresponding rhyme. The Monke's Tale is written in a stanza of eight lines, of ten syllables, but very different from the ottava rima. The versification of the burlesque on the metrical romance, which the host calls 'rhyme doggerel,' is very commonly met with in poems of that period, and was probably rejected by Chaucer as monotonous and tiresome.

It has been observed that large portions of the Tale of Melibeus, though written like prose, are, in fact, blank verse, and may be so read, as in the following example:

This Melibeus answered anoon and said,

What man, quoth he, should of his weeping stint
That hath so great a causé for to weep?

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This is, perhaps, the earliest example of blank verse in this metre in the English language; and it is not the less remarkable because it becomes thus resolved out of prose.

The only remaining kind of metre that claims our attention is that of The Romance of the Rose, The House of Fame, Chaucer's Dreame, and The Book of the Duchess. All these are in the verse called octosyllabic, but more properly quadrameter iambic, inasmuch as anapasts, hypercatalectic syllables, and other irregularities in the number of syllables are of frequent occurrence. In structure and irre

gularity it resembles the song of Comus. The following admirable delineation of the frank and simple manners of a high-bred woman of fashion is taken from The Book of the



Duchess, and was intended as consort of John of Gaunt.

a portrait of Blanche, the

Theretō her lōke | was not | ǎside,
Ně ověr thwart būt | běsēt | so wēle,
It drewe | ǎnd tōoke | up ēve | rỷ dēle
All that on her gān | běhōld,
Her ey❘ en semed | ănōn | she wōld
Hăve mēr | cỹ, (Fūl | lý wēn | dến sĩ;)
Büt it | wăs něvěr | thě rã | thěr do.
It nās no counterfeit | ěd thing;
It wās | her ōw | ně pūre | lõking.1

The text of Chaucer, which next claims our attention, has, until lately, been considered hopelessly corrupt. His great popularity in some degree contributed to this result. Manuscript copies of his poems were eagerly multiplied in an age when the orthography and pronunciation of English were capricious and unsettled; and each succeeding copyist thought himself at liberty to adapt the original to his own notions of correctness, or to the dialect of his native district. From copies made on these principles were derived the texts of the early editions by Caxton, in 1475, by Wynken de Worde in 1495, by Pynson, Stowe, Thynne, and Speght, who showed, alike by their neglects and their errors, that they were utterly incapable of discriminating between a true and a false reading; and the confusion arising from their incompetence was worse confounded by Urry's conjectural emendations. The next and most successful attempt to render The Canterbury Tales popular was made by the late Mr. Tyrwhitt, whose first edition appeared in 1775. His learning, judgment, and patient research, formed a happy contrast to his predecessors. So far as the text was concerned, however, his plan was injudicious. He collated a great number of MSS., but without sufficient attention to their dates, an

1 The text above used is taken from one of the printed editions, and is probably very incorrect.

indispensable consideration in reference to the language of Chaucer. He appears, also, to have attributed to the early editions by Caxton a degree of authority to which they have no title. In other respects his labours were of unquestionable utility. He rejected ignorant interpolations, made an excellent arrangement of the Tales, and in his Dissertation and Notes, notwithstanding that they were founded on an impure text, and an imperfect knowledge of the AngloSaxon and Mediæval English, he produced a body of illustra

1 Caxton's first edition of The Canterbury Tales was one of the earliest books printed in England. As a specimen of typography it is remarkable for clearness and elegance; but the text is valueless, being taken from a MS. abounding in errors. Caxton afterwards brought out a second edition printed from a better MS. in the possession of Mr. William Thynne. Neither of these editions are dated. The first is supposed by Ames to have been printed about 1475 or 1476; the second appears from the preface to have been undertaken six years later. Of the former, only two copies are known to exist; and only one of the latter. Troilus and Creseide, The Book of Fame, and other pieces were also printed by Caxton. In 1495, Wynken de Worde printed an edition of the Tales, founded upon Caxton; the Troilus and Creseide in 1517; and the Assemblee of Foules in 1530. Richard Pynson published two editions of the Tales, the first without a date (conjectured to be 1491), and the second, containing additional pieces, in 1526. He also printed the Troilus and Creseide, and The Book of Fame. The next edition, collected by Mr. William Thynne, and published by Godfray in 1532, was the first that contained the entire works, with the exception of The Plowman's Tale, and was adopted as the basis of most of the subsequent editions. It was reprinted, with the addition of The Plowman's Tale, by John Reynes, in 1542. This was followed, in 1561, by an edition, with divers addicions,' edited by Stowe. Speght's edition, the most complete that had appeared up to this time, was published in 1598, and reprinted, enlarged and impro、ed, in 1602, and again in 1687. Urry's edition appeared in 1721. The Canterbury Tales, 'from the most authentic MSS., and as they are turned into English by the most eminent hands, &c.,' were published in 1740, by Dr. Thomas Morell. This is the edition to which Mr. Tyrwhitt gives the date of 1737, and of which he availed himself largely in his notes and glossary. Mr. Tyrwhitt's edition was published in 1775 8. A second edition was printed by the University of Oxford in 1798; a third in London in 1822; and a fourth in 1845, with a new life by Sir Harris Nicolas, who also edited the rest of the poems. Mr. Wright's edition was originally printed by the Percy Society in 1847; and afterwards republished for general circulation. This catalogue includes only the principal editions. Many other editions appeared in the sixteenth century, but they are for the most part mere reprints.

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