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BEING THE

CONFESSIO AMANTIS

OF

JOHN GOWER

EDITED BY

HENRY MORLEY, LL.D.
PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH LITERATURE AT UNIVERSITY COLLEGE

LONDON

LONDON
GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS

BROADWAY, LUDGATE Hill
GLASGOW, MANCHESTER, AND NEW YORK

1889

6. e. 43

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INTRODUCTION.

JOHN GOWER'S book of old stories is here at last made J current among Englishmen of every degree. The first way of its wider diffusion was by recitation of the story-tellers. It was their business to give pleasures of imagination to the people through their ears, when even the few who could read would also listen with enjoyment to a tale recited with dramatic energy: When the play of “Pericles” brought one of Gower's tales upon our stage in Shakespeare's time, John Gower himself was supposed to speak its Prologue in his chosen measure of eightsyllabled verse. His words then recalled to mind the old way of reciting as well as reading. The actor who, dressed as Gower, came before the people, said to them :-

“ To sing a song that old was sung,

From ashes ancient Gower is come;
Assuming man's infirmities
To glad your ear and please your eyes.
It hath been sung at festivals,
On ember eves and holy ales ;
And lords and ladies in their lives
Have read it for restoratives."

To all of us Gower may now go on to repeat other lines of the same Prologue:

“If you, born in these latter times,
When wit's more ripe, accept my rhymes ; ,
And that to hear an old man sing
May to your wishes pleasure bring,
I life would wish, and that I might
Waste it for you, like taper light.”

For my own part, I have long wished to make it possible that in these times his countrymen might again be pleased to hear John Gower's song.

In the few editions of these tales hitherto published, Gower's taper has burnt dimly, because they have been so presented as to blur his light. The first edition was Caxton's, printed at Westminster, and dated 1493 [by mistake for 1483]. The second edition was “Imprinted at London in Flete strete by Thomas Berthelette, Printer to the King's grace,” in the year 1532. “Berthelette published another edition in 1544. These were the editions of Gower's English poem read—and it was read-in the good time of Queen Elizabeth. A copy of one of Berthelette's editions was priced in a recent catalogue at £14. There was not another edition until 1810, when the “Confessio Amantis," printed from Berthelette's edition, was included, with other works, in the second of the twenty-one volumes of Chalmers's English Poets. Next came in 1857, and last of all, three handsome volumes of large print, the “Confessio Amantis of John Gower, edited and collated with the best Manuscripts by Dr. Reinhold Pauli.” Dr. Pauli's edition of the text was based upon Berthelette. But there were some corrections made by reference to MSS. for supply of omissions and revision of the metre. · Here let me interpolate a word or two in hearty recognition of Dr. Reinhold Pauli's services to English Literature. He was born on the 25th of May 1823, and died on the 3rd of June 1882. He was born in Berlin, studied at Berlin and Bonn, and came to England in 1847. For several years Pauli was private secretary to Bunsen, and he did not return to Germany until 1855, after publishing here, in 1851, a study of King Alfred and his place in English History. After returning to Germany he went on with a continuation to Lappenberg's History, of which he published the first volume in 1853, the third and last in 1858. In 1857, the year in which his edition of this poem appeared, Pauli obtained a Professorship in Rostock. In 1859 he was transferred to the University of Tübingen, from which he was degraded for the independent spirit shown by him in an article on the condition of Würtemberg, and sent down to teach in the Schönthal Seminary. In 1864 he had begun a History of England since Waterloo, of

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