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repair. About four weeks later, on the 8th of June, he was appointed Comptroller of the Customs and Subsidy of Wools, Skins and Leather, in the Port of London °, and on the 13th of the same month he received a pension of 10l. for life from the Duke of Lancaster for the good service rendered by him and his wife Philippa to the said Duke, to his Consort, and to his mother the Queen. This is the first mention of Philippa Chaucer as Geoffrey's wife, though a Philippa Chaucer is named as one of the Ladies of the Chamber to Queen Philippa on Sept. 12, 1366, and subsequently. It is possible that Philippa Chaucer was a relative or namesake of Geoffrey, and that he married her in the spring or early summer of 1374; if not, he must have married her before Sept. 12, 1366.
Chaucer's Italian journey, and his study of Italian literature in consequence of it, exercised a marked influence on his writings, and opened the second period of his development, in which his Lyfe of Seynt Cecile, Parlament of Foules, Compleynt of Mars, Anelida and Arcite, Boece, Former Age, Troylus, and House of Fame, were probably composed.
In 1375 Chaucer's income was augmented by receiving from the crown (Nov. 8) the custody of the lands and person of Edmond Staplegate of Kent, which he retained for three years, during which time he received as wardship and marriage fee the sum of 1047.; and (on Dec. 8) the custody of five 'solidates' of rent P in Soles in Kent. Toward the end of 1376 Sir John Burley and Chaucer were employed in some secret service, the nature of which is not known. On the 23rd of the same month the poet received 67. 135. 4d., and Burley twice that sum for the work upon which they had been employed.
In February 1377, the last year of Edward's reign, the poet was associated with Sir Thomas Percy (afterward Earl of Worcester)
o In July 1376 Chaucer, as Comptroller of Wool Customs, received from the king the sum of 71l. 4s. 6d., being the fine paid by John Kent of London for shipping wool to Dordrecht without having paid the duty thereon.
PA solidate of land was as much land (probably an acre) as was worth a shilling.
in a secret mission to Flanders, and was shortly afterwards (April) probably joined with Sir Guichard d'Angle (afterwards Earl of Huntingdon) and Sir Richard Sturry to treat of peace with Charles V, King of France г. In 1378 Richard II succeeded to the throne, and Chaucer appears to have been reappointed one of the king's esquires. In the middle of January he was probably sent with the Earl of Huntingdon to France to treat for a marriage of Richard with the daughter of the king of France. On his return he was employed in a new mission to Lombardy, along with Sir Edward Berkeley, to treat with Bernard Visconti, Lord of Milan (whose death Chaucer afterwards brought into his Monk's Tale) and Sir John Hawkwood, 'on certain affairs touching the expediting the king's wars.' When Chaucer set out on this embassy he appointed Gower as one of his trustees to appear for him in the courts in case of any legal proceedings being instituted against him during his absence t.
During the next three years Chaucer received his pension as usual. On the 8th of May, 1382, he was made Comptroller of the Petty Customs, retaining at the same time his office of Comptroller of the Wool Customs. These emoluments he continued to hold for the next four years, and was allowed the privilege of nominating a deputy, so that he had perhaps now, or perhaps soon after the loss of his office, leisure to devote himself to his great work, the Canterbury Tales, which, though never completed, was written at different times of his life, from 1373 to
a Chaucer received for this service 10l. on Feb. 17, and 20l. on April 11. r Chaucer received 261. 13s. 4d. on April 30, as part payment for this service, and in 1381 (March) he was paid an additional sum of 22l.
8 Chaucer was absent on this service until the end of the year, but was not paid till 1380, when he received 56l. 13s. 4d.
t This circumstance proves the existence of an intimate friendship between the two poets. Chaucer dedicated his Troilus and Criseyde to Gower; and the latter poet, in the Confessio Amantis (Book vii.), makes Venus speak of Chaucer as follows:
'And grete wel Chaucer, when ye mete,
As my disciple and my poete,
1400, and prefaced by a Prologue, written on or about a journey in 1388. To this, the third period of his poetical life, also belong The Legende of Good Women (written before 1387), his Truth, and perhaps his Moder of God.
In 1386 Chaucer was elected a knight of the shire for Kent, in the Parliament held at Westminster. John of Gaunt was abroad at this time; and the Duke of Gloucester, at the head of the government, was most likely not well disposed towards the protégé of his brother, with whom he was now on ill terms. On the 1st of December, Chaucer was dismissed from his offices of Comptroller of Wool, Woolfells and Leather, and of Comptroller of Petty Customs, and others were appointed in his place ". The loss of his emoluments reduced the poet from affluence to poverty-his beautiful 'balade of Truth' ('Flee fro the presse') probably speaks his own feelings in this time of his distress-and we find him raising money upon his two pensions of 20 marks, which on the 1st of May, 1388, were cancelled and assigned to John Scalby. To add to his trouble, his wife died in 1387: yet in 1388 he made his merry Canterbury pilgrimage. Richard, in 1389, dismissed his council, and took the reins of government into his own hands; the Lancastrian party were restored to power, and Chaucer was appointed Clerk of the King's Works at Westmin
Of dytees and of songes glade,
The whiche he for my sake made,
Whereof to him in specyalle
Above alle other, I am most holde (beholden).
Forthy nowe in his dayes olde
Thou shalt him telle this message,
That he uppon his latter age,
So that my courte yt may recorde.'
u The Parliament of 1386 compelled Richard to appoint a commission to enquire into the state of the subsidies and customs. The commissioners began their duties in November, and the removal of certain officers may be attributed to their investigations.
ster, at a salary of 25. a-day, about 17. of our money. The next year (1390) he was ordered to procure workmen and material for repairing St. George's Chapel at Windsor. But his appointment as Clerk of the Works was of short duration. In another year he either retired or was superseded, and for the next three years his only income was his annuity of 10l. from the Duke of Lancaster, and an allowance of 40s., payable half-yearly, for the robes as the king's esquire. In 1391 Chaucer translated and compiled his Treatise on the Astrolabe, for his little son Lewis, which was probably followed by his Compleynt of Venus, his Envoy to Skogan, Marriage, Gentilnesse, Lack of Stedfastness, Fortune, and his Compleynt to his Purse (in Sept. 1399).
On the 28th of July, 1394, Chaucer obtained a grant from the king of 20l. a-year for life, payable half-yearly at Easter and Michaelmas ; but at this time the poet appears to have been in very distressed circumstances, for we find him making application for advances from the Exchequer on account of his annuity, and as these were not always made to him personally during the next few years, it is supposed that he was labouring under sickness or infirmity, for it does not appear that he was absent from London.
In 1398 (May 4) letters of protection were issued to Chaucer, forbidding any one, for the term of two years, to sue or arrest him on any plea except it were connected with land. Five months later (Oct. 18) the king made him a grant of a tun of wine a-year for life. Next year Henry Bolingbroke, son of John of Gaunt, supplanted his cousin Richard, and within four days after he came to the throne Chaucer's pension of 20 marks was doubled-in addition to the annuity of 20l. which had been given him by Richard II-doubtless in answer to the poet's Compleynte of his poverty, which was addressed to Henry IV, and hailed him as 'verray Kynge by lygne and free eleccioun.'
To yow, my Purse, and to noon other wight,
I am so sory now that ye been lyght,
On Christmas Eve, 1399, the poet covenanted for the lease for fifty-three years (a long agreement for a man in his fiftyninth year to make), of a house in the garden of the Chapel of St. Mary, Westminster, where it is probable that he ended his days. The date (Oct. 25, 1400) assigned to his death by Nicholas Brigham is corroborated by the entries in the Issue Rolls, no note of payment being found after March 1st, 1400.
Whether, at his death, Chaucer had passed the ripe age of three-score and ten (on the 1328 date of his birth), or attained to that of three-score (on the 1340 date), he would be justly entitled to the epithets old and reverent, applied to him by his contemporaries Gower and Hocclevey.
Chaucer had one son, Lewis, who probably died young, to whom he addressed his treatise on the Astrolabe in 1391. There is no evidence whatever that Thomas Chaucer, who attained to immense wealth, and whose great-grandson, John de la Pole (Earl of Lincoln), was declared by Richard III heir-apparent to the throne, was Chaucer's son or relative.
In the Prologue to The Rime of Sir Thopas 2, we have prob
For whiche unto your mercy thus I crye,
For I am shave as nye as is a frere,
But I pray unto your curtesye
Beth hevy ayeyn, or elles moote I dye.'
(Chaucer, ed. Morris, vi. p. 294.)
y Leland says that Chaucer 'lived to the period of grey hairs, and at length found old age his greatest disease.' In Hoccleve's portrait of the poet he is represented with grey hair and beard.
Oure host to jape began,
And than at erst he loked upon me