Page images
PDF
EPUB

mone editus in decem divi- mone editus in decem dividitur partes et tractans de ditur partes et tractans de viciis et virtutibus necnon viciis et virtutibus necnon de de variis huius feculi gra- variis huius feculi gradibus dibus viam, qua peccator viam, qua peccator transtransgressus ad sui creatoris gressus ad sui creatoris agniagnicionem redire debet, cionem redire debet, recto recto tramitedocere conatur. tramite docere conatur. TiTitulus libelli istius Specu- tulusque libelli istius Speculum hominis nuncupatus est. lum Meditantis nuncupatus

Secundus enim liber ser- eft. mone Latino versibus exa- Secundus enim liber sermetri compositus tractat su- mone Latino metrice comper illo mirabili eventu, qui positus tractat de variis inin Anglia tempore Regis fortuniis tempore Regis Ricardi Secundi anno regni Ricardi Secundi in Anglia sui quarto contigit, quando contingentibus, unde non serviles rustici impetuose folum regni proceres et contra nobiles et ingenuos communes tormenta pasli regni insurrexerunt, inno- sunt, set et ipse crudelissicenciam tamen dicti Domini mus Rex suis ex demeritis Regis tunc junioris etatis ab alto corruens in foveam causam inde excufabilem quam fecit finaliter proiectus pronuncians culpas aliunde, est. Nomenque voluminis et quibus et non a fortuna huius Vox Clamantis intitutalia inter homines contin- latur. gunt enormia, evidencius declarat. Titulusque voluminis huius, cuius ordo septem continet pagas, Vox Clamantis nominatur.

Tercius ifte liber Anglico Tercius ifte liber qui ob fermone in octo partes di- reverenciam ftrenuissimi dovisus, qui ad instanciam mini sui Domini Henrici serenissimi Principis dicti de Lancastria tunc Derbie Domini Regis Anglie Ri- Comitis Anglico sermone cardi Secundi conficitur se- conficitur secundum Danicundum Danielis prophe- elis propheciam super huius ciam fuper huius mundi mundi regnorum mutacione regnorum mutacione a tem- a tempore Regis Nabugopore Regis Nabogodonosor donofor usque nunc temusque nunc tempora distin- pora distinguit. Tractat guit. Tractat eciam fecun- eciam secundum Aristotedum Nectanabum et Aristo- lem fuper hiis, quibus Rex telem super hiis, quibus Rex Alexander tam in sui regiAlexander tam in fui regi- mine quam aliter eius difmine quam aliter amorem cipline edoctus fuit. Prinet amantum condiciones cipale tamen huius operis fundamentum habet, ubi materia super amorem et variarum cronicarum histo- infatuatas amantum parriarumque finem necnon fiones fundamentum habet. poetarum philosophorum- Nomenque fibi appropriaque Scripture ad exemplum tum Confeßio Amantis fpedistinctius inseruntur. No- cialiter fortitus eft.* menque presentis opusculi Confesho Amantis fpecialiter nuncupatur.

The French poem is placed first in order, and there is sufficient reason to believe, that Gower in the earlier part of his career chiefly made use of this language. No copy of the Speculum Meditantis has yet been discovered ; what Wartont and his copyists erroneously describe as such, is another short French poem under the title, “Un Traitee selonc les aucteurs pour ensamplier les amants marietz au fin qils la foy de lour seints espousailles pourront pur fine loyalte guarder et al honeur de Dieu

* MS. Harl. 3869, fol. 366, and Caxton, fol. 2 109.
† History of English Poetry, ed. 1840, 11. p. 226.

salvement tener.” This work is occasionally met with in manuscript, and has been partially printed.* The contents, examples from mythology, and history, correspond with the title. But there are fifty French Ballads, found only in a very valuable MS. in the possession of the duke of Sutherland, and printed in 1818 for the Roxburghe Club, which are undoubtedly the productions of the poet's younger years. They are tender in sentiment and not unrefined with regard to language and form, especially if we consider that they are the work of a foreigner. They treat of love in the manner introduced by the Provençal poets, which was afterwards generally adopted by those in the north of France. A few specimens cannot fail to give a favourable idea of Gower's skill and expression.

Balade xv.

Com lesperver qe vole par creance
Et de son las ne poet partir envoie,
De mes amours ensi par resemblance
Jeo fui liez fique par nulle voie
Ne puiss aler famour ne me convoie,
Vous manetz, dame, estrait de tiele mue,
Combien qe vo presence ades ne voie
Mon coer remanit qe point ne se remue,
« Soubtz vo constreignte et foubtz vo governance
Amour mad dit qe jeo me supple et ploie,
Sicome foial doit faire a sa ligeance
Et plus dassetz si faire le porroie,
Pour ce, ma doulce dame, a vous motroie.
Car a ce point jai fait ma retenue,
Qe si le corps de moi fuist ore a Troie
Mon coer remanit qe point ne se remue.

• Balades and other Poems by John Gower; Roxburghe Club, 1818.

Si come le mois de May lesprees avance,
Qeft tout flori quant lerbe se verdoie,
Ensi par vous revient ma contienance
De vo bealte si penfer je le doie,
Et si merci me volt vestir de joie
Pour la bounte que vous avetz vestue
En tiel espoir, ma dame, unques jeo foie
Mon coer remanit qe point ne se remue.
A vostre ymage est tout ceo qe jeo proie,
Quant ceste lettre a vous ferra venue,
Qe vous servir come cil qest vostre proie,

Mon coer remanit qe point ne se remue.
Balade xx.

Sicom la nief, quant le fort vent tempeste,
Pur halte mier se torna ci et la,
Ma dame, ensi mon coer manit en tempeste,
Quant le danger de vo parole orra,
Le nief ge votre bouche soufflera,
Me fait sigler sur le peril de vie,
Qeft en danger falt qil mera supplie.
Rois Ulyxes, ficom nos dist la geste,
Vers fon paiis de Troie qui sigla,
Not tiel paour du peril et moleste,
Quant les Sereines en la mier passa,
Et la danger de Circes efchapa,
Qe le paour nest plus de ma partie,
Qeft en danger falt qil mera supplie.
Danger qui tolt damour tout la feste,
Unques un mot de confort ne fona,
Ainz plus cruel qe nest la fiere beste
Au point quant danger me respondera,
La chiere porte et quant le nai dirra,

Plusque la mort mestoie celle oie
Qeft en danger falt gil mera supplie,

Vers vous, ma bone dame, horpris cella,
Qe danger manit en votre compainie,
Cest balade en mon message irra

Qelt en danger falt qil mera supplie.A few lines are preserved in the same manuscript, in which the poet asks the reader's indulgence for his French:

Al Universite de tout le monde
Johan Gower ceste balade envoie,
Et si jeo nai de francois la faconde,
Pardonetz moi qe jeo de ceo forsvoie.
Jeo sui Englois si quier par tiele voie
Estre excuse mais quoique nulls endie,

Lamour parfit en dieu se justifie." There are no indications of the dates of his French productions, but that the poet in later days still used this language appears from some French verses addressed to king Henry Iy. after his accession, and preserved in the same volume.

Soon after the rebellion of the Commons in 1381, an event which made a great impression on his mind, he wrote that singular work in Latin distichs, called Vox Clamantis, of which we possess an excellent edition by the Rev.H.O. Coxe, printed for the Roxburghe Club, in 1850. The name, with an allusion to St. John the Baptist, seems to haye been adopted from the general clamour and cry then abroad in the country. The greater bulk of the work, the date of which its editor is inclined to fix between 1382 and 1384 is rather a nioral than an historical essay; but the first book describes the insurrection of Wat Tyler in an allegorical disguise; the poet having a dream on the

« PreviousContinue »