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between the families of Scrope and Grosvenor as to the right to certain armorial bearings, would give a later date. The cause was tried in October, 1386; and he then gave in evidence that he was forty years of age and upwards, and had borne arms twenty-seven
years. As some other witnesses have been proved to have been incorrect in the statement of their ages as much as from ten to twenty years, it has been argued that no reliance ought to be placed on this similar affirmation of Chaucer, if, as it is averred, it cannot readily be reconciled with other assumed dates in his biography. Surely, however, we ought to have some scruples in setting aside so important a statement from the poet's own lips ; more especially as his additional and more precise assertions, that he had borne arms twenty-seven years, and was taken prisoner at a particular place in France, are found to be verified by circumstances of the French invasion of the year 1359. If correct in one statement, why so extremely inaccurate in another? Assume the age of forty-six to be implied by the expression of forty and upwards, and we fix the year of Chaucer's birth to 1340. Now in his poem of the“ Dream” he intimates that his courtship of the lady whom he eventually married, took place simultaneously with that of Prince John of Ghent and Lady Blanche of Lancaster, namely, about the year 1358; and in another poem, " The Court of Love,” he associates the same event with the eighteenth year of his own age. Here, then, is confirmation of the date of 1340 as that of his birth; and we shall be justified in assuming that, at the beginning of the year 1357, when he is first mentioned in these fragments, Chaucer was about seventeen years of age; and, if so, we may reasonably conjecture that his position in Prince Lionel's household was that of a page, with which also the entries would seem
well to agree. For instance, the amount paid for Chaucer's entire suit for his visit to Windsor, namely seven shillings—equivalent to about five pounds in modern money—is sufficiently high to accord with superior rank; yet the payments made for him seem on a lower scale than those for other members of the household mentioned in the Account, and who, therefore, it may be presumed, were much his elders. The paltock, or short cloak, provided for him in 1357, cost four shillings; while, in two other instances, a similar garment for other attendants is entered at six shillings and eight pence, and eight shillings and threepence. A Christmas present to Chaucer “ for necessaries," as it is expressed, is put down at three shillings and sixpence; while to some other members of the household sums of thirteen shillings and cight pence, or twenty shillings, are presented.
Whether a page in the household of Prince Lionel, or a special attendant on the Countess of Ulster, it woull appear that he was
attached to their service certainly as early as the beginning of the year 1357, and was at that period at Hatfield, in Yorkshire; that he was present at the celebration of the Feast of St. George, at Edward III.'s court, in attendance on the Countess, in April of that year ; that he followed the court to Woodstock; and that he was again at Hatfield, probably from September, 1357, to the end of March, 1358, and would have witnessed there the reception of Prince John of Ghent, then Earl of Richmond. We may infer that he was present at that most splendid entertainment given by Edward III. to the royal personages then in England—including the King of France, the Queen of Scotland, the King of Cyprus, and that saddest of figures in such a scene, the sister of the captive King of Fra and Edward's own mother, the almost-forgotten Queen Isabella—at what was ever after called the Great Feast of St. George; and that he was at Reading with the court, and at London, in the winter of 1358. The Earl and Countess would probably have spent part of the same season and the early part of 1359 at Hatfield ; but in May, we know from other historical records that Prince Lionel, and doubtless his wife, the Countess of Ulster, were present at the wedding of John of Ghent and Lady Blanche of Lancaster, at Reading, and at the famous joustings subsequently held in London in honour of that event. And we have thus a record of the poet's course of life from the commencement of the year 1357 to the autumn of 1359, when he would have joined the royal army which invaded France, in the retinue of Prince Lionel, and in the course of which service, we know from his own information, he was made a prisoner by the French. A period of three years will be added to what is known of his biography, and these years belonging to the earlier part of his life, in which there is the most uncertainty, and a knowledge of which is most essential to the explanation of his after career. Moreover, the proof of his connection with Prince Lionel will give countenance to the assertion of Speght, rejected by later biographers, that Chaucer was present at the second marriage of the Prince with Violanta, daughter of Galeazzo, Lord of Milan, celebrated at that city in the year 1369, and at which he is stated to have met the Italian poet Petrarch.
The special value of these facts will consist in their showing that, at the outset of his career, Chaucer would have had the benefit of society of the highest refinement, in personal attendance on a young and spirited prince of the blood; that he would have had his imagination fed by scenes of the most brilliant court festivities, rendered more imposing by the splendid triumphs with which they were connected; and that he would have had the advantage of royal patrons in the early exercise of his genius. Chaucer was, as he himself tells us, of a studious disposition, and, it is stated, had entered
one of the universities; but in his readings and his college exercises, although perhaps enriching his mind by communion with the classical authors, and strengthening it by the training of the schools, he would not necessarily have been perfecting that gift which so transcendently distinguishes him from the versifiers of his timerefinement of expression in his own language. The society he would have been raised to by his position in Prince Lionel's household, would have been useful to him in this respect. And there is reason to conclude that Chaucer's great excellence in the use of his native idiom was due to this early opportunity of cultivating it, since his first poems show in a remarkable degree the grace of expression which marks his best productions. And if Chaucer may be allowed to have gained refinement and culture from association with his royal patrons, it may be claimed for him that he would have repaid the benefit in giving something of elevation to the society to which he was admitted. The youthful princes who had Chaucer for their attendant would surely be intellectually gainers by the companionship. Nor would the advantage be confined to them individually. The court was the real centre of civilisation, and it is no extravagance to assert that such influence as he might exercise upon it would be radiated widely over the land.
In learning the fact of Chaucer's residence in the North of England, his future editors may perhaps be able to distinguish a character in his language and local descriptions traceable to his familiarity with it. His numerous descriptions of woodland scenery and allusions to hunting reminiscences may be partially derived from frequent enjoyment of the pastime in Hatfield Chase. Possibly the scene of the poem entitled “The Dream,” and in which it is believed Chaucer recounts the circumstances of John of Ghent's courtship and marriage of Lady Blanche of Lancaster, may be identified with this locality. Entries in these fragments show that the Prince was actually a visitor at Hatfield at Christmas in the year 1357, some fifteen months before his marriage, and coincident with the time at which the poet fixes their first meeting. Lady Blanche is also mentioned as corresponding with the Countess of Ulster at the same period. Her father, the Duke of Lancaster, was at this time absent in France, where he held the office of Governor of Guienne; and it is very probable that she may have been on a visit at Axholme—the seat of Lord Mowbray, husband to her aunt, Lady Joan of Lancaster. Lady Mowbray was the sister of the Countess of Ulster's mother; and the two families are represented in the Account as in familiar intercourse. The forest in which the poet describes himself as passing the night may be accepted as the woods of Hatfield. The island to which he conceives himself transported in his dream, and where he witnesses the arrival of Lady Blanche and Prince John of Ghent, would be represented by the Isle of Axholme. And the hermitage on a rock would find its type in the actual hermitage on a high point of land in the isle, at that time, we are told, entirely surrounded by water. Whether or not the scene of the poem can be identified with this locality, John of Ghent's visit to Hatfield suggests an origin to Chaucer's connection with him, so important in his subsequent biography, and which probably became intimate immediately on the death of Prince Lionel, in 1369. Then, speculations suggest themselves as to the lady—evidently a person of consideration in the Countess's household—designated as Philippa Pan', or Panetaria. She occurs several times in the Account, and appears to have been in an especial manner attached to the Countess's service. Twice she is mentioned in entries immediately followed by the name of Geoffrey Chaucer. This connection of their names, occurring at a time when he himself, in the poem of “The Dream," tells us that he was courting the lady whom he eventually married, and who we know was named Philippa, suggests the conjecture that the Countess's attendant may have been Chaucer's future wife. That Philippa, having been in the Countess of Ulster's service, should be found subsequently in that of the Queen Philippa, is rather in favour of the supposition. The Countess died in 1363, only four
, years after the period of the Account, and nothing would be more likely than that the principal lady of her household, and probably favourite companion, should have found shelter after her death in the family of her husband's mother,
But I have no wish to strain the evidence to be collected from the few items of this imperfect IIousehold Account. I have hopes, however, that the positive information they yield may give a direction to researches resulting in new discoveries in the life of Chaucer.
I may add that the volume, to the covers of which these fragments Fere pasted, was given, in the year 1508, to the monastery of Amesbury. It was probably rebound there, and these parchment leaves Fere used to strengthen the sides of the book. Amesbury was the retreat of more than one Princess of England ; and an aunt of the Countess óf Ulster-Isabella of Lancaster—was Abbess of the House at about the period of the Account.
EDWARD A. BOND.
THE OXFORD REFORMERS OF 1498.
1. CONVOCATION FOR THE EXTIRPATION OF HERESY (1512). COLET's labours in connection with his school did not interfere with his ordinary duties. He was still, Sunday after Sunday, preaching those courses of sermons on “the Gospels, the Apostles' Creed, and the Lord's Prayer,” which attracted by their novelty and unwonted earnestness so many listeners. The Dean was no Lollard himself, yet those whose leanings were toward Lollard views naturally found in the simple Scripture teaching to which they listened at St. Paul's, what they felt was the food for which they were in search, and which they did not get elsewhere. They were wont, it seems, to advise one another to go and hear Dr. Colet; and it was not strange if in the future examination of heretics a connection should be traced between Colet's sermons and the evident increase of heresy. That heresy was on the increase could not be doubted. Foxe has recorded the names of no fewer than twenty-three heretics compelled by Fitzjames, Bishop of London, to abjure during 1510 and 1511. And so zealous was the Bishop in his old age against poor Lollards that he burned at least two of them in Smithfield during the autumn of 1511. So common, indeed, were these martyr fires, that Ammonius, Latin secretary to Henry VIII., writing from London, a few weeks after, to Erasmus, at Cambridge, could jestingly say, that “he does not wonder that wood is so scarce and dear, the heretics cause so many holocausts ; and yet (he said) their numbers grow; nay, even the brother of Thomas, my servant, dolt as he is, has himself founded a sect, and has his disciples !” 3
It was under these circumstances that a royal mandate was issued in November 4 to the Archbishop of Canterbury, to summon a convocation of his province to meet at St. Paul's, on the 6th of February, 1512,—a convocation which was ever afterwards referred to as having been held " for the extirpation of heresy.
It was probably on Friday, the 6th of February, 1512,6 that members of both Houses assembled in St. Paul's Cathedral, as usual, to listen to the opening address.
How little the good Archbishop Warham sympathised with the (1) “ Moreover that Thomas Geffrey caused this John Butler divers Sundays to go to London to hear Dr. Colet.” (Foxe, ed. 1597, p. 756.)
(2) William Sweting and John Brewster, on 18th October, 1511. (Foxe, ed. 1597, p. 736.) (3) Eras., Epist. cxxvii. Brewer, i., No. 1948 (4) Brewer, i., No. 2004.
(5) Warham to Henry VIII. Brewer, i., 4312. I (6) Wilkin's “ Concilia,” under date 1512.