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It is to the first—to the great economy of specie which would be attainable by the establishment of a “ Bank of Europe”—that we desire to attract public attention. Such a bank will certainly be established some day. The whole tendency of financial and commercial affairs is running in that direction. Our present proposal is simply an anticipation of what will be universally demanded before long This, then the establishment of a “Bank of Europe"-is one
— form of the remedy which we propose for the present War of the Banks. It fully meets the evil in its international form. But the remedy-as regards our own country at least—would be incomplete if we did not at the same time meet the evil of the banking monopoly which so lamentably exists among us. If this country is to reap the benefit of the establishment of an international monetary system such as we have proposed—if the public is to benefit by the diminution in the costs of banking which will ensue from it—the existing monopoly in banking established in 1844 must be abolished. This is one reason for reforming our monetary system. It is a prospective reason. But a far more urgent reason for banking reform is already in forcehas been in force since ever the present régime was in evil hour established, and which now weighs upon the industry of the country more and more every year.
We have to do two things, and we must do them simultaneously. We have to undo Restriction, and we have to abolish Monopoly. We have to annul the prohibition on the further use of paper-money, in the form of banking-currency, enacted in 1814. While guarding the validity of the note, we must allow bankissues to expand according to the wishes of the community and the growing wants of trade. And we have to abolish the system of monopoly, by allowing all banks alike (subject to like conditions) to utilise their credit, just as all merchants and manufacturers, all individuals and companies, are permitted to do, and have always done. Such an abolition of the reactionary system of restriction and monopoly in our monetary affairs—such an application of the principle of free trade to banking in all its functions—will be as genial in its effects upon free trade and national well-being as the advent of spring, relaxing the icy fetters of a protracted winter. And if it be accompanied, as we trust it will, by the adoption of an international monetary system through the agency of a “Bank of Europe,” it will mark a never-to-be-forgotten era in the ever-onward progress of civilisation.
R. H. PATTERSON.
NEW FACTS IN THE LIFE OF GEOFFREY CHAUCER.
I wave lately had the fortune to meet with the name of Geoffrey Chaucer in some fragments of a contemporary Household Account, the entries in which yield a few valuable particulars relating to his early life; and although the copy of what remains of the document might be unattractive to the majority of the readers of the FORTNIGHTLY REVIEW, I can hardly doubt that there exists among them sufficient admiration of the poet to interest them in the results of the discovery. The fragments are simply two parchment leaves which had, some three or four centuries ago, been pasted down to the covers of an ancient manuscript, purchased a few years since by the British Museum, and now known as the Additional MS. 18,632. In the process of rebinding the volume they might have been cast away as worthless but for the precaution always observed there of preserving every serap of old writing, however apparently insignificant. In being made to do the service of lining to the binding, the leaves have unhappily been much clipped at the edges and otherwise disfigured; but, mutilated and defaced as they are, the name of Chaucer sheds a glory over them, and renders every line they contain most precious. A short examination suffices to ascertain that the leaves are fragments of a Household Account of the fourteenth century, and we meet with the name Geoffrey Chaucer three times repeated, and with the regnal years 30, 31, 32, and 33—evidently of Edward III.—corresponding with the years 1356 to 1359. A closer study of the entries makes it evident that the account was kept for a lady—a countess by rank; that she resided principally at Hatfield in Yorkshire, then in the hands of the Crown; that the earl, her husband, was still living; that she was closely related to the Royal family, and was in some way connected with Ireland ; that she frequently visited Campsey in Suffolk; and that she had a daughter, Philippa, who, though still an infant under the care of a nurse, went through the ceremony of betrothal during the period of the Account.
These facts suffice to identify the lady of the Account with Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of William de Burgh, the last Earl of Ulster of that name, and wife of Prince Lionel, third son of Edward III. Her connection with the Royal family of England was twofold; by her marriage with Prince Lionel, and by descent from Joan of Acre, daughter of Edward I. She was heiress to immense estates in Ireland. Her mother, Maud, sister of Henry first Duke of Lancaster, was at the time of the Account a nun in Campsey Priory; and her daughter Philippa was betrothed in the year 1358 to Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March. The lady herself
had been left by the death of her father, when in her first year, the
, heiress of the earldom of Ulster, and had been brought up by Queen Philippa, to whom her wardship had been assigned by Edward III., in companionship with the Royal children. As early as the year 13+1, and when she was only nine years old, she was affianced by the king to his son Lionel, six years her junior. The betrothal was celebrated on the 15th of August, in that year, and the marriage took place in the year 1352.
Of the two leaves which remain of the Account, the one refers to payments made for the wardrobe, the other to donations. In each the date of every payment, as well as the place at which it was made, is recorded ; so that we are enabled to trace the movements of the lady herself by following the successive entries. Arranging the items of the two divisions of payments in one series, we obtain the following results :—The Countess was in London on the 4th of April, 1356. In June and July she was at Reading, one of the royal residences; having apparently recently been at Southampton. On the 2nd of September she was at Stratford-le-Bow in company with her husband Prince Lionel. And about the same time a payment is made to a sumpter-man of the Abbot of Waltham for conducting the bed—as it is simply expressed in the Account, but which includes all the furniture connected with it--of her daughter from Stratford to Campsey. There is nothing to show where she spent the winter of 1356; probably at Hatfield; but early in April in 1357 we find her in London equipping herself for the festival of Easter, and also for a visit to the Court at Windsor, to join in a celebration of the Feast of St. George, held there with great pomp in connection with the newly-founded Order of the Garter. And at this period occurs an entry of an entire suit of clothes, consisting of a paltock, or short cloak, a pair of red and black breeches, with shoes, provided for Geoffrey Chaucer. Articles of dress are paid for also for an attendant on the Countess designated as Philippa Pan'—probably the contracted form of the word Panetaria—mistress of the pantry. And as establishing the antiquity of giving drink-money to workmen, it is worth noting that, in the payments made for these different articles of dress, certain sums are included as given to the working tailors for drink, “after the custom of London.” On the 20th of May an article of dress, of which the name is lost by a defect in the leaf, is purchased for Geoffrey Chaucer in London ; and attire is provided for the Countess herself in preparation for the feast of Pentecost to be celebrated at Woodstock. In July the Countess is at Doncaster and at Hatfield in Yorkshire, at which latter place she remains over Christmas.
While there she receives letters from Ireland ; and a payment is made to a servant of the Duke of Lancaster for bringing a letter from his daughter Lady Blanche. In December of the same year (1357) a man receives money
accompanying Philippa Pan' from a place I am unable to identify, named Pullesdon, to Hatfield ; and this item is immediately followed by the entry of a donation of three shillings and sixpence to Geoffrey Chaucer “ for necessaries.” At the same period a present of money is made to a servant of Lady Mowbray, sister to the Countess's mother, for coming with five horses from Axholme, the residence of Sir John Mowbray, to Hatfield, by the way of Blyth, the direct passage of the river being obstructed by the ice. At this time also Prince John of Ghent, then Earl of Richmond, must have been a visitor at Hatfield ; for New-Year gifts are presented by the Countess to his cook and clerk of the kitchen.
The date of the next payment is the 4th of April, 1358; when sums are allowed to the Panetaria, the cook and the nurse, of the Countess's daughter, for debts incurred at Campsey; where it may be presumed the child had been taken, in order to be under the care of her grandmother, Prioress of the House, during the absence of the Earl and Countess on a visit to the Court.
In the same month of the year 1358, considerable payments are made in equipping the Countess for the great Feast of St. George, held at Windsor; and a boddice, lined with fur, is provided for her attendant Philippa Pan'. In the same month a payment is made for a mourning cloak, under the expressive designation of a “ruemantle,” for the Countess : it is uncertain for what occasion. We trace the movements of the Countess at a later period of the year, , from another authority; for it is stated in a household account of the Dowager Queen Isabella, that the Countess of Ulster supped with her at Hertford Castle on the 20th of July. In August of 1358, the Countess was at Anglesey ; and on the
; 1st of September, in Liverpool. And in the same month a black tunic, mantle and cape, are provided for her, as mourning for Queen Isabella, who had died on the 23rd of August. Subsequent entries show that the Countess attended at the Queen's funeral, which took place at the church of the Friars Minors, in Newgate Street, on the 27th of November. In September and October several entries occur for dress provided for Lady Philippa, the Countess's daughter, for the ceremony of her betrothal. Though almost an infant, she was affianced to Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March, either at this time, or, as elsewhere stated, in the spring of the following year.
On the 6th of November the Countess is at Reading; and shortly after we find her feeing the keeper of the lions in the Tower of London. Early in 1359, she makes a present of a mark to two minstrels of the Queen of Scotland—Johanna, sister of Edward III. and wife of David Bruce, King of Scotland, who had been in England since the spring of 1358, and had been residing with Queen Isabella at the time of her death. Shortly after this entry, a mark is paid to six valets of the Duke of Lancaster, for attending the Countess's chariot with torches, from the Duke's hotel of the “Neyth,” to her wardrobe in London. And at Lent of the same year, 1359, the Countess appears to have returned to Hatfield, where again a ruemantle or mourning cloak is provided for her.
Now, that the Geoffrey Chaucer mentioned in these Accounts is, indeed, the poet himself, we can have no scruple in assuming; inasmuch as in his own writings he alludes to his connection with a portion of the Royal family as early as the year 1359; in his poem of the “Dream,” for instance, in which he celebrates the marriage of John of Ghent with Lady Blanche, of Lancaster ; and as we know from authentic documents that he was pensioned by the Crown for services in the year 1367. The direct result, therefore, of these entries will be to show that this connection with the Royal family existed three years earlier than his own allusion to it, and to explain the nature of it. For the character of the entries renders it nearly certain that Chaucer was attached in some capacity to the service of either Prince Lionel himself or his countess; therefore, in either case, a member of the Prince's household. The Countess of Ulster, as an heiress of great estates, and as the wife of a Prince of the Blood, may well be conceived to have had attendants of her own, in a measure independent of her husband's establishment, although, of course, united in the joint household ; and the names of the persons through whom the payments of wardrobe expenses in this Account are made are found in connection with her service, in public documents, prior to her marriage. Yet the paucity of the items for an account of three years' duration, and the length of interval between the dates of many of them, would seem to imply that the account mainly referred to periods when the Countess was living apart from her husband's household. In this case, the persons found in attendance on her might be regarded simply as belonging to the Prince's establishment, and temporarily engaged in her special service. Some five or six persons are named so repeatedly as to warrant the conclusion that they were more directly attached to her; and it is remarkable that of the whole number only Chaucer and the lady styled Philippa Pan' are provided for from the Countess's wardrobe; and Chaucer only in one instance.
But being evidently in some capacity in the household of the Prince and his Countess, we have to inquire what his position might have been. If we were certain of his age at this period we should have much assistance in determining the question. But his biographers are not agreed upon the year of his birth. On the faith of a monumental inscription, of no earlier a date than the middle of the sixteenth century, this has been most commonly fixed at 1328. But a statement of his own, in giving evidence in the famous dispute