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commonly called St. Saviour's Church, in Southwark. It is entirely of stone, and consists of a canopy of three arches with bouquet (crocketed] pediments, parted by finials, and at the back of each pediment three niches, of which there are also seven in front of the altar tomb.” Berthelette, in the introduction to his edition of the Confessio Amantis, published in 1532, gives the following description of the representations of Charity, Mercy, and Pity, now nearly obliterated, which were painted against the wall within the three upper arches. « Beside on the wall where he lieth, there be peinted three virgins, with crownes on their heades, one of the whiche is written Charitie, and she holdeth this diuise in hir hande :
“ En toy qui eft filz de dieu le pere
Sauve foit qui gift fouz cest piere. « The second is written Mercie, which holdeth in hir hande this diuise :
“O bon Jefu fait ta mercie
Al alme, dont le corpe gift icy. “ The thyrde of them is written Pitee, whiche holdeth in hir hande this diuise followynge:
“ Pour ta Pite Jesu regarde
Et met cest alme en fauve garde.” On the top of the altar tomb is the effigy of the poet; his head reclining on three volumes, representing his three great works and inscribed with their respective titles. The hair falls in large curls on his shoulders, and is crowned with a chaplet of four roses, originally, as Leland * tells us, intermixed with ivy,“ in token, says Berthelette, that a little westward of the north transept, until 1830, when it was removed into the south transept.
* Commentarii, p. 415. Habet ibidem ftatuam duplici insignem nota, nempe aureo torque et hederacea corona rosis interserta, illud militis, hoc poetæ ornamentum.
he in his life daies, flourished fresshely in literature and science.” It is inscribed, ihi merci. A long robe, closely buttoned down the front, extends from the neck to the feet, which are entirely covered. A collar of SS., from which is suspended a small swan, chained, the badge of Henry IV, hangs from his neck; his feet reft upon a lion, and above, within a panel of the side of the canopy, a shield is suspended, charged with his arms, Argent on a chevron, Azure, three leopards' heads, Or; crest, on a cap of maintenance, a talbot seiant (passant). Under the figure of Mercy are these lines :
Armigeri fcutum nihil a modo fert tibi tutum;
Est ubi virtutum regnum fine labe ftatutum. On the ledge of the tomb was an inscription, now entirely gone :
Hic jacet J. Gower, arm.
Vixit temporibus Ed. 111. et R. 11. Adjoining the monument there hung originally a table granting 1500 days' pardon, “ ab ecclesia rite conceffos," for all those who devoutly prayed for his soul.”*
It is affirmed by Leland,t that Gower was one of the principal benefactors of the Priory of St. Mary Overy's, which had been burnt down in 1212, and that he contributed considerable sums towards rebuilding it in the reign of Richard II. His monument has been repaired three times; first in 1615, next in 1764, and lastly in 1830 by earl Gower, marquis of Stafford, the present duke of Sutherland.
* Caxton's Edition of the Confessio Amantis, 1483, fol. 2u1b. + Commentarii, p. 416, & Collectanea, 1, p. 106.
A YOUNG and healthy literature is generally the offspring of some remarkable epoch in the history of the nation to which it belongs; for men's minds are fertilized and invigorated by the actions of great political events, and an impulse is given to their imagination and language, which more tranquil times would probably never have evoked. This observation especially applies to England in the fourteenth century, when the long reign of Edward III. had been marked by circumstances the most varied and extraordinary in its history. The eyes of all Europe were fixed for a time on a struggle between two empires for the crown of one of them. Great wars with France had been crowned with unparalleled success to the arms of the king and his brave son ; but at last a sudden check reversed the splendid picture. The once glorious king, borne down by premature old age and decay of intellect, law nearly all his conquests snatched from him, and the security of his island empire menaced by the enemy, while his people, who for many years had borne the burden of the war with cheerful patriotism, for which they had obtained concessions of inestimable political rights, began to clamour against the king's ill success, and to demand a direct share in the administration of public affairs. The vicious and corrupt state of the church had brought on the first serious attempt at a reformation ; and a bold and honest priest had risen to preach the Gospel in the vernacular tongue “ free and truly.” The whole order of things as they then existed seemed on the point of collapsing, when Edward, by this time become a wretched dotard, died in the arms of a concubine, and his grandson, a mere boy, succeeded to the throne. Ere Richard had reigned four years, the Commons, who had long viewed with indignation the poflession of wealth and the exclusive enjoymentof political privileges by the higher orders of society, and who had imbibed very erroneous ideas of property, government, and religion, revolted, and for a moment threatened the country with a general conflagration. Their rising struck terror into the hearts of the more peaceable part of the community. Nor were the disasters consequent on this event unaccompanied by others of equal gravity. Crown ! and country being both exhausted, no fresh successes against the French were obtained, and a spirit of discontent began rapidly to pervade all classes. This young and headstrong prince made two dangerous attempts to wrest from the people what they claimed as their ancient and hard earned rights, and for a short time succeeded in ruling them with true despotism; but the century closed with his deposition, the accession of a skilful usurper and a universal reaction in church and state.
Nevertheless not only did civil and religious liberty take so firm a root as to enable it to withstand the most violent political tempests of succeeding ages, but the first blossoms of English literature, forerunners of repeated brilliant displays of genius, began to expand during this period, and it is as one of the earliest labourers in this hitherto uncultivated field, that John Gower will ever be honourably mentioned.
At the beginning of the fourteenth century, there existed in England no national language; the court, nobility, parliament, and even the courts of law spoke French, the church generally made use of Latin, and public acts were written in either language, while the descendants of the Anglo-Saxon race employed a dialect of direct Saxon
derivation, but modified and softened by time, and occafionally mixed up with words of Romance origin. These three tongues, from all of which the English language was rapidly forming itself, remained in public use throughout the century. In 1362 Parliament was first opened by a speech in English, and the courts of law subsequently adopted the same language; Chaucer had already begun to write, and Gower, whose earlier works had been composed in French and Latin, now used his mother-tongue. There is no better illustration of this singular transition to the English language than a short enumeration and defcription of Gower's writings.
The head of the figure sculptured on his tomb reclines on three volumes representing his three great works, written in as many languages: the Speculum Meditantis, the Vox Clamantis, and the Confessio Amantis. Several MSS. and Caxton's edition of the English poem contain the following fhort characteristic sketch of each of them drawn up probably by the poet himself, but differing, like his two editions of the Confessio Amantis, according to his position in relation to the political events of the day.
Quia unusquisque prout Quia unusquisque prout be a Deo accepit aliis impartire a Deo accepit aliis impartiri
tenetur, Johannes Gower tenetur, Johannes Gower fuper hiis que Deus sibi in- super hiis que Deus fibi Cellectualiter donavit, villi- sensualiter donavit, villicaCacionis sue racionem dum cionis sue racionem dum tempus instat secundum ali- tempus inftat secundum aliquid alleviare cupiens, inter quod alleviare cupiens, inter labores et ocia ad aliorum labores et ocia ad aliorum
noticiam tres libros doctrine noticiam tres libros doctrine his causa forma subsequenti causa forma subsequenti dari propterea composuit. propterea composuit.
Primus liber Gallico fer Primus liber Gallico fer