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and all things considered, the extent and variety of his attainments were certainly extraordinary.
The explanatory criticism on some of the poems is curious and interesting.
"The Floure and the Leafe' opens to us a scene which was unknown in the days of William of Lorris and John of Meun. The floral games were instituted in 1324 by Clementina Isaure, Countess of Toulouse: they were celebrated annually in the month of May. Clementina,' says Warton, published an edict, which assembled all the poets of France in artificial arbours dressed with flowers; and he that produced the best poem was rewarded with a violet of gold. There were likewise, inferior prizes of flowers made in silver. In the mean time the conquerors were crowned with natural chaplets of their own respective flowers. He who had won a prize three times, was created a Doctor en gaye science:' this institution, however fantastic, soon became common through the whole kingdom of France.'
"Chaucer twice quitted this country on embassies; once to the court of France, and secondly to Genoa. In the course of these expeditions he may have been a witness of the Floral Games. The Lady of the Floure and the Lady of the Leafe, the crowning of the two parties which are attached respectively to the two ladies, and the arbour in which the spectator is seated, have all reference to the Floral Games. With this subject is mixed up the mythology (if it may be so called) of the daisy. The praise and worship of the daisy, contained in the poem before us, as well as in the prologue to the 'Legende of Good Women,' was one of the affectations of our poet's day, and probably derived to him from Froissart, who, during one year at least, held office at Edward's court at the same time with Chaucer.
"The rural imagery of this poem is enriched with the description of chivalric pageants. Troops of knights and ladies advance; one party of whom do honour to the leaf, and the other to the flower: among the former are the Nine Worthies, the Knights of the Round Table, and the recently installed Knights of the Garter. The whole scene is one of lively motion and gaiety. The noise of the thundering trumps, the dance, the tournament, and the gorgeous accoutrements of the array, form a striking and pleasing contrast to the rural and retired tranquillity of the opening scene of the poem, when the spectator (a lady) is seated in an arbour, listening to the songs of the goldfinch and the nightingale."
With regard to the Canterbury Pilgrimage it is not only in its outline, but in many of its details, strictly grounded on fact; but we think the author pushes speculation a little too far in this particular. He says
"It would be an amusing speculation to search among the few friends or acquaintance of Chaucer, whose names have come down to us, for the possible originals of some of the Canterbury Pilgrims. Was the Parish Priest, Wickliffe or the Clerke of Oxenforde, the philosophical Strode? Was Harry Bailey, the Host, a real character? A name seems to stamp him with individuality. But if there is any thing in name, did Osewold the Reve ever enjoy his picturesque rural dwelling, and
Ride his right good stot,
That was a pomelee grey, and highte Scot.
And did the poet, in this instance, as well as in that of Huberd the Friar, indulge in the personal satire of the older Greek comedy? All that can be offered in answer to such questions is, that there is in many of the characters, as well those of the prologue as those described in the tales, an individuality, which renders it highly probable that they were drawn from the
His account of the Friar contains some curious facts which are worth extracting.
The learning of the friars was, as is well known, scholastic, and not classical; and a passion for the scholastic philosophy, disseminated by the friars, must be ranked among the chief causes of the then crowded state of the universities. Classical learning was at a very low ebb: very few good Latin authors, and scarcely any Greek, were known or even possessed, and the libraries of the day were principally composed of the works of the Latin fathers and of the schoolmen. Among the latter class must be ranked Bacon (who, in the century preceding that of Chaucer, had been mainly instrumental in establishing the scholastic system of education at Oxford), Duns Scotus, and Occham: all these celebrated men were friars, and most of them, as well as other distinguished men of the day, were of Merton College, in Oxford. But the friar of the Canterbury Tales is a being of a very different class from that of the philosophical inhabitants of the universities; he is distinguished neither by the astrological and alchemical knowledge of Hendy Nicholas, nor by the logic of his fellow pilgrim, to whose taciturnity the merry and gossiping Limitour affords a marked contrast."
Of yeddinges he bare utterly the pris,
"It is observable, that both Nicholas and the friar are distinguished from the clerk, by their musical tastes and talent. Above the 'bokes gret and smale,' the astrolabe,' and 'augrim stones' of the former, lay the instrument to which the clerk is said to prefer Aristotle and his philosophie :' A gay sautrie,
On which he made on nightes melodie,
“The musical performan ances of the friar, who is altogether a less accom plished man, are less elaborately described :
And certainly he had a merry note;
Well coude he singe and plaien on a rote.
"And it would seem also, from the following lines, that his songs were in English rather than Latin :
Somewhat he lisped for his wantonnesse,
The pardoner, the serjeant at law, the yeoman, and the frankelin are sketched successively, and closely placed before us. The skill of the poet showed itself in the selection and discrimination of each character, and in the combination of the whole proceedings under the guidance of the host. It is this excellence which makes Dryden exclaim
"Chaucer has taken into the compass of his Canterbury Tales, the various manners and humours (as we now call them) of the English nation in his age. Not a single character has escaped him. All his pilgrims are severally distinguished from each other, not only in their inclinations, but in their very physiognomies and persons. Baptiste Porta could not have described their natures better, than by the marks which the poet gives them. The matter and manner of their tales, and of their telling, are so suited to their different educations, humours, and callings, that each of them would be improper in any other mouth. Even the grave and serious characters are distinguished by their several sorts of gravity. Their discourses are such as belong to their age, their calling, and their breeding; such as are becoming of them, and them only. Some of his persons are vicious, and some are virtuous; some are unlearned, or (as Chaucer calls them) lewd, and some are learned. Even the ribaldry of the low characters is different. The reve, the miller, and the cook, are several men, and distinguished from each other, as much as the mincing lady prioress, and the broad-speaking gap-tothed Wife of Bath."
From Chaucer our author proceeds to his contemporaries, Mandeville, John de Trevisa, Wickliffe, and from them the writers intervening between Chaucer and Spenser. They present little to interest until we arrive at the period of Shakspeare. The review is merely intended to recall to the reader's recollection some of the most prominent features of a subject which has filled volumes, and puzzled the most ingenious heads. It is clear, concise, accurate, and elegant; and we may sum up our observations by expressing entire approbation of the work as being fully adequate to the purposes for which it is intended, and as displaying a correct and elegant taste, sound critical judgment, and considerable ease and simplicity of style; and we have no doubt that among the class of readers who have not time or opportunity to consult more voluminous productions on the subject, it cannot fail to be decidedly popular.
ART. X. Abstract of Proceedings relative to the Trade and Navi gation of the Indus, since the settlement of the last Treaty regarding that River. London: Unwin. 1837.
SOME twenty-five years ago, we remember to have heard a sagacious farmer of the old school, when describing the improvements that were in progress on one of the highways in his neighbourhood -these improvements consisting of some obdurate hills being thrown
into the intervening hollows, and thus making a road as smooth and regular as a bowling-green-exclaim, "why, nothing will be left for the next generation to do, but keep in repair that which we have left!" Now, we believe that this is a sort of an opinion which is not extremely rare among plain and well-meaning people. Indeed it requires an effort of hopeful liberality and enlightened foresight, somewhat greater than the mere utterance of a few vague phrases about the onward march of civilization and the unlimited capacities of human invention and power indicate, to show that a person is convinced that any thing can ever surpass that which may have engaged his admiring wonder, and which from its beauty and ingenuity may seem to have reached perfection. Of very late years, however, the advancement in certain spheres of art and enterprize has been such as should help to correct a conclusion so hastily come to. It requires neither laborious nor subtle reflection to convince one that the most enlightened and active nations of the world have not arrived at the acmé-at the last stage of civilization and improvement. The history of steam upon land and water is of itself a sufficient illustration-a power which bids fair to unite districts which have hitherto been divided by deep ravines and towering eminences, to causeway bogs and marshes, and to perforate rocky mountains, in endless succession and with spider-like intricacy-a power which already shoots across wide oceans, and into numberless inlets of the peopled earth, as well as wherever lake or fresh-water stream admit of its progress, or call for its exertions.
There are seas and rivers, however, which have not yet been brought under the complete controul of steam navigation, and which have hitherto been thought, when spoken of as lines of commercial traffic, to present almost insurmountable obstacles. We may refer to the route, lately so much discussed, from England to India by the Mediterranean and the Red Sea; or to what more immediately concerns us at this moment-to the Indus, a majestic and far-stretching river, which guides to central Asia, and, if navigable, would become the channel of an enormous trade, such as no other opening in the world is likely to present for many years. The pamphlet before us treats of this subject, we are happy to say, briefly, interestingly, and so satisfactorily, as without doubt will speedily lead to such practical measures as can admit of no further speculations regarding its merits. It will be our endeavour now to lay before our readers the most important information which it
Colonel Pottinger, the Governor General's agent in India for the affairs of Sinde, entered some years ago upon certain negociations with the Ameers of that territory, which ended in the opening of the Indus. Little, however, was done towards the introduction of British trade on that river, until towards the end of 1835;
and owing to the commercial crisis which has lately taken place, the project may be said to have been hitherto suspended. It is remarkable that this natural channel of intercourse with the interior of Asia, and of commercial transactions in many tempting markets, has not long ago been turned to good account under the auspices and protection of the East India Company. Very erroneous impressions seem to have been allowed to exist till recently, not merely with regard to the outlets for our merchandise on the Indus, but as respected its capabilities as a navigable river. But in reference to both of these points, there is now little uncertainty, as we are about to see. First of all as to the river, although it has now been ascertained that its mouths are liable to constant changes, and to such a degree, that while one of them is often blocked up by the inundation of a single season, another and totally different one is formed by the same means, and also that boats drawing more than four feet of water cannot be used with advantage or safety, during the first sixty miles of its course from the sea-yet Colonel Pottinger says
"The state of the banks of the river are sufficient proof of the discouragement that intercourse up and down the river labours under. They are in most places covered down to the very edge of the water with thick jungle and trees, which render tracking not only most difficult, but now and then impossible, and the first obvious step for an enlightened government to take would be to clear away (which might be done at a very small expense) a path from 20 to 50 paces broad, agreeable to the nature of the soil, along both sides of the river.""
"This simple operation would remove at once one half the natural obstacles to the upwards navigation. The downwards navigation is quite independent of the state of the banks, as all that is required in it is to keep the vessels in the strongest part of the current, which is easily done by occasionally rowing, or setting a lug sail on a small mast in the forepart of the boat."""
"The usual depth in the stream was from four to six fathome, nor was it sounded in any spot where it was less than the former, whilst in some it amounted to ten and twelve; many of the very minor branches, through which boats proceed upwards to avoid the strength of the main stream, are in themselves fine rivers." "
To ascend the Indus with steam boats, or to descend it without them, all seasons and states of the river will be found to afford the greatest facilities; but for trading vessels, depending on the winds, the best period to quit the sea-ports (Dharjee, Shah, Ghora, &c. Bunders) is the end of March, or early in April, when the south-westerly gales which precede the Monsoon have set in on the coast of Sinde, and appear to follow the course of the river, at all events as high up as Bukkur, thereby ensuring rapid progress. With regard to tracking, the months of December, January, and February, strictly speaking, are the most proper, because the river is then at its lowest; but the cold northerly winds (which often blow very violently)