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be obtained must needs be left.” It seems impossible to interpret this passage (too long to cite in extenso) as a complaint of married life. Many other poets have indeed complained of their married lives, and Chaucer (if the view to be advanced below be correct) as emphatically as any. But though such occasional exclamations of impatience or regret-more especially when in a comic vein--may receive pardon, or even provoke amusement, yet a serious and sustained poetic version of Sterne's “sum multum fatigatus de uxore mea" would be unbearable in any writer of selfrespect, and wholly out of character in Chaucer. Even Byron only indited elegies about his married life after his wife had left him.
Now, among Chaucer's minor poems is preserved one called the Complaint of the Death of Pity, which purports to set forth “how pity is dead and buried in a gentle heart,” and, after testifying to a hopeless passion, ends with the following declaration, addressed to Pity, as in a “bill” or letter:
This is to say: I will be yours for ever,
If this poem be autobiographical, it would indisputably correspond well enough to a period in Chaucer's life, and to a mood of mind preceding those to which the introduction to the Book of the Duchess belongs. If it be not autobiographical--and in truth there is nothing to prove it such, so that an attempt has been actually made to suggest its having been intended to apply to the experiences of another man—then the Complaint of Pity has no special value for students of Chaucer, since its poetic beauty. as there can be no harm in observing, is not in itself very great.
To come to an end of this topic, there seems no possihility of escaping from one of the following alternatives. Either the Philippa Chaucer of 1366 was Geoffrey Chaucer's wife, whether or not she was Philippa Roet before marriage, and the lament of 1369 had reference to another lady-anassumption to be regretted in the case of a married man, but not out of the range of possibility. Or—and this seems on the whole the most probable view -the Philippa Chaucer of 1366 was a namesake whom Geoffrey married some time after 1369, possibly, (of course only possibly,) the very lady whom he had loved hopelessly for eight years, and persuaded himself that he had at last relinquished-and who had then relented after all. This last conjecture it is certainly difficult to reconcile with the conclusion at which we arrive on other grounds, that Chaucer's married life was not one of preponderating bliss. That he and his wife were cousins is a pleasing thought, but one which is not made more pleasing by the seeming fact that, if they were so related, marriage in their case failed to draw close that hearts' bond which such kinship at times half unconsciously knits.
Married or still a bachelor, Chaucer may fairly be sup. poseil, during part of the years previous to that in which we find him securely established in the king's service, to have enjoyed a measure of independence and leisure open to few men in his rank of life, when once the golden days of youth and early manhood have passed away. Such years are in many men's lives marked by the projection, or even by the partial accomplishment, of literary undertakings on a large scale, and more especially of such as partake of an imitative character. When a juvenilo and facile writer's taste is still unsettled, and his own style is as yet unformed, he eagerly tries his hand at the reproduction of the work of others; translates the Iliad or Faust, or suits himself with unsuspecting promptitude to the production of masques, or pastorals, or life dramas--or whatever may be the prevailing fashion in poetry-after the manner of the favourite literary models of the day. A priori, therefore, everything is in favour of the belief hitherto universally entertained, that among Chaucer's earliest poetical productions was the extant English translation of the French Roman de la Rose. That he made some translation of this poem is a fact resting on his own statement in a passage indisputably written by him (in the Prologue to the Legend of Good Women); nor is the value of this statement reduced by the negative circumstance, that in the extraordinary tag (if it may be called by so irreverent a name) to the extant Canterbury Tales, the Romaunt of the Rose is passed over in silence, or at least not nominally mentioned, among the objectionable works which the poet is there made to retract. And there seems at least no necessity for giving in to the conclusion that Chaucer's translation has been lost, and was not that which has been hitherto accepted as his. For this conclusion is based upon the use of a formal test, which in truth need not be regarded as of itself absolutely decisive in any case, but which in this particular instance need not be held applicable at all. A particular rule against rhyming with one another particular sounds, which in his later poems Chaucer seems invariably to have followed, need not have been observed by him in what was actually, or all but, his earliest. The untinished state of the extant translation accords with the supposition that Chaucer broke it off on adopting (possibly after conference with Gower, who likewise observes the rule) a more logical practice as to the point in question. Moreover, no English translation of this poem besides Chaucer's is ever known to have existed.
Whither should the youthful poet, when in search of materials on which to exercise a ready but as yet untrained hand, have so naturally turned as to French poetry, and in its domain whither so eagerly as to its universally acknowledged master-piece? French verse was the delight of the Court, into the service of which he was about this time preparing permanently to enter, and with which he had been more or less connected from his boyhood. In French Chaucer's contemporary Gower composed not only his first longer work, but not less than fifty ballads or sonnets, and in French (as well as in English) Chaucer nimself may have possibly in his youth set his own 'prentice hand to the turning of "ballades, rondels, virelayes." The time had not yet arrived, though it was not far distant, when his English verse was to attest his admiration of Machault, whose fame Froissart and Froissart's imitations had brought across from the French Court to the English ; and when Gransson, who served King Richard II. as a squire, was extolled by his English adapter as the “flower of them that write in France.” But as yet Chaucer's own tastes, his French blood, if he had any in his veins, and the familiarity with the French tongue which he had already had opportunities of acquiring, were more likely to commend to him productions of broader literary merits and a wider popularity. From these points of view, in the days of Chaucer's youth, there was no rival to the Roman de la Rose, one of those rare works on which the literary history of whole generations and centuries may be said to hinge. The Middle Ages, in which from various causes the literary intercommunication between the nations of Europe was in some respects far livelier than it has been in later times, witnessed the appearance of several such works-diverse in kind but similar to one another in the universality of their popularity: the Consolation of Phi. losophy, the Divine Comedy, the Imitation of Christ, the Roman de la Rose, the Ship of Fools. The favour enjoyed by the Roman de la Rose, was in some ways the most extraordinary of all. In France, this work remained the dominant work of poetic literature, and “the source whence every rhymer drew for his needs” down to the period of the classical revival led by Ronsard (when it was edited by Clement Marot, Spenser's early model).' In England, it exercised an influence only inferior to that which belonged to it at home upon both the matter and the form of poetry down to the renascence begun by Surrey and Wyatt. This extraordinary literary influence admits of a double explanation. But just as the authorship of the poem was very unequally divided between two personages, wholly divergent in their purposes as writers, so the popularity of the poem is probably in the main to be attributed to the second and later of the pair.
To the trouvère Guillaume de Lorris (who took his name from a small town in the valley of the Loire) was due the original conception of the Roman de la Rose, for which it is needless to suspect any extraneous source. To novelty of subject he added great ingenuity of treatment. Instead of a narrative of warlike adventures he offered to his readers a psychological romance, in which a combination of symbolisations and personified abstractions surplied the characters of the moral conflict represented