« ForrigeFortsæt »
Can clepen watte, as wel as can the pope.
He was a gentil harlot' and a kind;
In danger hadde he at his owen gise The yongè girlès of the diocise, And knew hir conseil, and was of hir rede?. A gerlond hadde he sette upon his hede, As gret as it were for an alèstake 3: A bokeler hadde he made him of a cake.
· The name harlot was anciently given to men as well as women, and without any bad signification.
9 Advised. 3 An alehouse sign.
With him ther rode a gentil Pardonere'
But of his craft, fro Berwike unto Ware,
1 Vide a former note. • Supposed by Stevens to be Runceval Hall, in Oxford. 3 Sang the bass.
4 Yellow. 5 Ounces. 6 Shreds. 7 Brimful. 8 Budget. 'Covering of a pillow.
Which, as he saidè, was oure ladies veil:
But trewely to tellen atté last,
the merrier and loude.
2 Sail. 3 Assisted, took. 4 A mixed metal of the colour of brass.
Little is known of Gower's personal history. “ The proud tradition in the Marquis of Stafford's family," says Mr. Todd', “ has been, and still is, that he was of Stitenham; and who would not consider the dignity of his genealogy augmented, by enrolling among its worthies the moral Gower ?”
His effigies in the church of St. Mary Overies is often inaccurately described, as having a garland of ivy and roses on the head. It is, in fact, a chaplet of roses, such, as Thynne says, was anciently worn by knights; a circumstance which is favourable to the suspicion, that has been suggested, of his having been of the rank of knighthood. If Thynne's assertion, respecting the time of the lawyers first entering the Temple, be correct, it will be difficult to reconcile it with the tradition of Gower's having been a student there in his youth.
By Chaucer's manner of addressing Gower, the latter appears to have been the elder. He was attached to Thomas of Woodstock, as Chaucer was to John of Gaunt. The two poets appear to have been at one time cordial friends, but ultimately to have quarrelled. Gower tells us himself that he was blind in his old age. From his will, it appears that he was living in 1408. His bequests to several churches and hospitals, and his legacy to his wife of 1001., of all his valuable goods, and of the rents arising from his manors of Southwell in the county of Nottingham, and of Multon in the county of Suffolk, undeniably prove that he was rich.
' In Illustrations of Gower and Chaucer by the Rev. H. Todd.
One of his three great works, the Speculum Meditantis, a poem in French, is erroneously described
Mr. Godwin and others as treating of conjugal fidelity. In an account of its contents, in a MS. in Trinity College Cambridge, we are told that its principal subject is the repentance of a sinner The Vox Clamantis, in Latin, relates to the insurrection of the commons, in the reign of Richard II. The Confessio Amantis, in English, is a dialogue between a lover and his confessor, who is a priest of Venus, and who explains, by apposite stories and philosophical illustrations, all the evil affections of the heart, which impede, or counteract the progress cess of the tender passion.
His writings exhibit all the crude erudition and science of his age; a knowledge sufficient to have been the fuel of genius, if Gower had possessed its fire.