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shospitality congenial to his disposition, and to enjoy ..that ease and affluence which it is so rarely the lot of a poet to possess.
It was in this meridional sunshine of prosperity that he wrote his Canterbury Tales; a poem which exhibits a striking variety of talents, an union of the sublime and the pathetic; with such a fund of poignant satire, genuine humour, and knowledge of life, as is seldom paralleled. The clergy, both regular and secular, are the frequent objects of his keenest animadversions; and by this he most probably aimed to ingratiate himself the more with his patron the duke of Lancaster, who had openly espoused the cause of Wickliff. As the flame of genius can with difficulty be separated from a love of liberty, Chaucer himself appears to have entered passionately into the views of that reformer: a.conduct, however, which in the sequel involved him in much trouble.
When the duke of Lancaster found himself obliged to abandon the party of Wickliff, and to retire from public life for a time, the interest of Chaucer sunk at once, and he became from that instant exposed to all the malice of his patron's opponents. These misfortunes gave rise to. that beautiful performance called the Testament of Love, written in imitation of Boëtius's Consolation of Philosophy. Satiated with the active scenes of life, which had deprived him of so many enjoyments, he retired to Woodstock; where he again indulged his passion for study, and revised his former productions, Here he finished his admirable Treatise on the Astrolabe; and became so attached to his rural retreat, that even the return of the duke of Lancaster to favour and power, and the marriage of that great man with the sister of Chaucer's wife, could not seduce him from the tranquil scenes he loved.
The sun of prosperity again warmed his evening hour.
Chaucer, by this last mentioned alliance, acquired considerable property and influence: and, when about seventy years of age, quitted Woodstock, for Donnington-castle near Newbury.
Not long afterwards, Henry the Fourth, son of the duke of Lancaster, mounted the throne; and in the first year of his reign conferred some marks of his regard on Chaucer. His former grants, however, being annulled, in common with all others passed in the late reign, the venerable bard, in the concluding scene of his life, was obliged to become a solicitor at court for a renewal of his pensions; and though he succeeded in a certain degree, the fatigue of attendance, and his great age, "prevented him from enjoying long the royal fa
Falling sick at London, he died October 25th, 1400, in the seventy-second year of his age; with a kind of enviable philosophical composure, as appears from his song of “ Flie fro the Prese."
He was buried in Westminster-Abbey; where, in 1558, ą monument was erected to his memory by Nicholas Brigham of Oxford, from a just regard for his talents. He left two sons, Thomas and Lewis : the former of whom was speaker of the house of commons in the reign of Henry the Fourth, and passed through several other high offices with reputation and applause.
The private character of Chaucer appears to have been as amiable as his literary attainments were illustrious.-- Genteel and complaisant in his manners and address, frank and liberal in his disposition, he was at once the fine gentleman, the easy companion, and the learned writer.
On his poetical and other literary qualifications, it is unnecessary to expatiate here. He was the father af English poetry, being the first who wrote original verses in bis native tongue. Before his time all poetical compositions here were confined to the French and Latin, or translations from those languages. He was also the first writer in England, to whom the appellation of a poet, in its genuine dignity, can be with propriety applied. He attempted every species of versification, from the epigram to the epic, and was eminently successful in all.
[The recent splendid publication of “ THE LIFE AND AGE OF CAAUCER" may be read with great pleasure and advantage by per. sons arrived at maturity. It is a masterly delineation of character, and presents faithful and highly interesting views of society and manners, at one of the most interesting periods of English history.)
Born 1471.-Died about 1530. From 10th Edward IV. to 21st Henry VIII. To repress the aspirings of inordinate ambition, to .silence the nurmurs of neglected merit, and to portrary the instability of fortune and the vicissitudes of human Jife in their most striking colours, it is only necessary to attend to the proud career and checkered fate of the subject of the present article. : Thomas Wolsey, who rose to be archbishop of York, chancellor of England, cardinal, and papal legate, was the son of a butcher at Ipswich. It is probable, however, that his parents possessed some property, and more discernment: for perceiving the bent of his disposition to literature, they put Itim early to the grammar school of that town; and such was the maturity of his talents, that he had taken the degree of bachelor of arts at Magdelen college, Oxford, before he reached his fifteenth year, from which circumstance he obtained the appellation of “the boy bachelor.” Soon afterwards he was admitted to a fellowship in the same college, and in due time nominated to the superintendence of the school belonging to that society.
This situation, which is too frequently the grave of
genius and the bar to promotion, proved to Wolsey the original source of his future exaltation. At this seminary were three sons of the marquis of Dorset ; and it is reasonable to suppose that a man of Wolsey's ambitious character, was not inattentive to the advantages which he might derive from such pupils. He assiduously attended to their education : and ingratiated himself so far with both parent and sons, that he obtained an invitation to the country-seat of the marquis, during a vacation ; where, by his insinuating manners, his knowoledge, and his address, he paved his way to more substantial marks of favour. By this nobleman he was presented, in his twenty-ninth year, to the rectory of Lymington in Somersetshire, his first ecclesiastical preferment; and immediately entered on his new function as a parish-priest.
Here, it is said, the gaiety of his disposition sometimes led him into excesses, and in consequence he was once sentenced to the stocks. This disgusted him with the country; and the justice who had ordered a punishment so disgraceful to a clergyman, had afterwards abundant reason to repent of his severity.
Wolsey's patron dying soon after, he quitted his resi-dence at Lymington, and projected new means of pushing his fortune. In a short time afterwards he was promoted to be a chaplain to Dr. Dean, archbishop of Canterbury; which however served rather to enlarge his views than conduce to his immediate advancement. It appears, indeed, that the archbishop was extremely partial to him, and assisted to make him better known; but be did not live long enough to reward Wolsey's assi. duities, and the latter was again without a patron.
Having now been introduced to the great, he felt his native propensities roused, and ambition stimulated him to be a courtier. An observation frequently made by
o that if he could but set one foot in the court, he would soon introduce his whole body." A man of abilities and an aspiring temper, who directs the whole vigour of his mind to one point, will seldom be finally unsuccessful. Wolsey next offered his services to sir John Nephant, treasurer of Calais, a gentleman in high favour with Henry the Seventh; and his application was well received. Sir John not only made him his chaplain, but being debilitated by age and infirmities, and finding Wolsey's capacity for business, he committed to him the principal direction of his office; and in the sequel recommended him in such strong terms of approbation to the king, that his majesty put him on the list of royal chaplains.
Having now arrived in the haven of his wishes, the court, he assiduously cultivated the acquaintance of the prevailing favourites, Fox bishop of Winchester, and sir Thomas Lovel, by whom he was zealously patronized; and was soon after recommended to the king as a person excellently qualified to conduct an important negociation with the emperor Maximilian, who then resided at Burges.
He managed this business with such address, and brought it so expeditiously to a successful conclusion, that the king was astonished at his political sagacity and prompt decision. The foundation of his fame and future promotion was now effectually laid; and, as a mark of the esteem in which he was held at court, soon after his return from this embassy, he was made dean of Lincoln.
The death of the king happened in the following jear: but Wolsey who had courted the rising sun, lost · no ground by the accession of Henry the Eighth; on the contrary, he found himself more distinguished than before. In 1510 he was appointed a privy counsellor, canon of Windsor, and registrar of the order of the garter; besides receiving other tokens of the royal favour.