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Geoffrey Chaucer (whose great work, the “Canterbury Tales," was not begun until he was past middle life), poet, soldier, courtier, and diplomatist, if not statesman, died at the age of seventy-two, in the year 1400, the first and greatest of the poets interred in Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey. These were his last verses, composed when, as the affecting title states, he lay on his deathbed, "in his great anguish":
Fly from the press,* and dwell with soothfastness t
Suffice unto thy good, though it be small,
For hoard hath hate, and climbing tickleness; ‡
Painè thee not each crooked to redress,
That thee is sent receive in buxomness.¶¶
**There is no fear.
Good presides over all.
+ Do not be too eager to redress public wrongs, trusting to popular favour.
§§ i. e. against certain destruction.
¶¶ With cheerful submission.
Forthè, pilgrim! forth, beast, out of thy stall! Look up on high, and thankè God of all! Waive thy lusts, and let thy ghost thee lead, And truth shall thee deliver, it is no drede.
And listen to these noble lines by Horne, the author of "Orion"::
His soul works on while he sleeps 'neath the grass.
His wasted lamp-the lamp wastes not in vain,
Nor trace them through the darkness. Let the hand
A forth-right plough, and make his furrows broad,
Like seeds that seem but lost upon the wind.
Teems with low visions on his couch of down.
Thorwaldsen, the sculptor, died in his seventythird year. He "who had left his home a poor friendless youth, returned, after a career of extraordinary activity, a fine old man, with penetrating eyes and flowing white hair,' to be welcomed with all the honours a court could bestow. He became the friend of Ochlenschläger and Andersen; and in March, 1843, after dining with them, and chat
Spirit or inward monitor.
ting cheerfully about Italy and the museum of his works at Copenhagen, went to the theatre, where, while waiting for the curtain to rise, his friends noticed that his head sank, as if in sleep, upon his breast, and he was gone."
At seventy-five, Leigh Hunt was listening with great delight to some Italian airs that his daughter was singing, and in three or four hours after gently passed away.
At eighty, Thomas Churchyard, a poet of the age of Elizabeth, was one of those unfortunate men who have written poetry all their days, and lived a long life to complete the misfortune." He composed" an infinite number of songs and sonnets, given where they cannot be recovered, nor purchase any favour when they are craved." The poor neglected poet thus pathetically describes his old age and poverty:
High time it is to haste my carcase hence;
The lively joints wax weary, stiff, and still;
The thatcher hath a cottage poor, you see;
Well, ere my breath my body do forsake
My books, my scrawls, and songs that I did make,
Now friends, shake hands; I must be gone, my boys!
Our mirth takes end, our triumph all is done;
And find good cause of greater things to write. He was a busy worthy writer for over half a century. This was his curious epitaph :
'Poverty and poetry his tomb doth inclose, Wherefore, good neighbours, be merry in prose."
The following very beautiful poem was sung before Queen Elizabeth in the Tiltyard at Westminster on the thirty-third anniversary of her reign. The author is uncertain- probably Churchyard or Peele. The aged 66 man-at-arms" was Sir Henry Lee, verging on fourscore.
THE AGED MAN-AT-ARMS.
His golden locks time hath to silver turn'd;
O time too swift! O swiftness never ceasing! His youth 'gainst time and age hath ever spurn'd, But spurn'd in vain; youth waneth by encreasing.
Beauty, strength, youth, are flowers, but fading seen;
His helmet now shall make a hive for bees,
And when he saddest sits in homely cell,
He'll teach his swains this carol for a songBless'd be the hearts that wish my sovereign well! Cursed be the souls that think her any wrong! Goddess, allow this agèd man his right, To be your beadsman now that was your knight.
King George the Third's birthday (the 4th of June) was kept with affectionate and constantly growing interest throughout his lengthened reign. A royal birthday in the present time, notwithstanding the respect and love cherished for the sovereign, is a dull affair to what it was in the reign of the grandfather of Victoria. The "best of characters "the "good old king"-was almost religiously venerated by a large number of his subjects, and the political circumstances of the time tended to heighten the fervour of loyalty all over the kingdom, or rather over all the empire. The 4th of June was a real hearty holiday, on which to drink bumpers to the king's health (often to the ruin of that of the drinkers); to light up bonfires in all vacant spaces in towns, on beacon heights along the shores, and on hundreds of hill-sides. There were fireworks, feasts, and out-of-door sports-and it was altogether a very festive, often riotous, affair. It is remarked in the "Book of Days" (from which we