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OUR SACRED POETS.
RICHARD ROLLE, called also Richard de Hampole, was an eremite of the order of St. Augustine. He devoted his
life to study and seclusion in a retreat in the neighbourhood of the pleasantly situated Priory of Hampole, three or four miles from Doncaster. Here he produced
an English version of the Psalms, as well as Commentaries, and Translations of other parts of the Sacred Writings. He attacked the vices of the clergy, and threatened the sins of the nation generally with future war, pestilence, and famine. “He was,” says the Britannia Sancta, "illustrious for sanctity and learning; and a heavenly unction runs through all his writings.” He was much honoured in his lifetime; and after death, he enjoyed canonization, if not formally from the church, at least from the gratitude and reverence of the people. His principal pieces of English rhyme are a Paraphrase of part of the Book of Job, of the Lord's Prayer, of the Seven Penitential Psalms, and the Pricke of Conscience. From the last of these, which is ordinarily a somewhat tedious and dull performance, are presented two specimens, where, favoured by the grouping capabilities of the subjects, he is exceptionally happy and picturesque.
THE DAY OF JUGGEMENT.
Men call that day
and of reckenyng,
OFF THE BLYSSE THAT ES IN HEVENE.
Ther es ever lyf withoute eny deth, And alle joyes that beth spoken with one breth, And ther es ever youthe without eny elde, I And ther es al manere welthe that men may welde, ş
* Romission, + Cease. | Old age. § Wield, manage.
And ther es ever reste withoute eny travayle,
* Pleasure. + Deck or fit up our dwelling. Onehood, unity. § Bowing
!! Acquiescence. III.
The early circumstances of the life of Chaucer, whom Denham calls the "morning star” of our literature, and who is more popularly recognized as the “father of English poetry," are veiled in obscurity. An inscription on his tombstone, to the effect that he died in 1400 at the age of seventy-two, identifies 1328 as the year of his birth; which event, it is pretty certain from a passage in his “ Testament of Love,” took place in London. Conjecture and dispute have failed to establish conclusively either the nobility or the humbleness of his origin. It is probable, however, that his father was a gentleman. In an early poem, written at eighteen, he speaks of himself as “Philogenet of Cambridge, clerk;" and from this it is inferred that he studied at that University. On the other hand, Anthony à Wood, in his account of Thomas Richard, incidentally but undoubtingly mentions Chaucer
our famous poet of Oxford;" and in another place records a tradition, that “when Wickliff was guardian or warden of Canterbury College, he had to his pupil the famous poet called Jeffry Chaucer, who, following the steps of his master, reflected much upon the corruptions of the clergy.” Some of his biographers have, therefore, courageously affirmed that Chaucer, having received the rudiments of his education at Cambridge, migrated to Oxford, where he completed his studies at Merton Col.
lege, the college of his friends, the "moral" Gower and the “philosophical” Strode. Be this as it may, we have the testimony of Leland, and indeed the evidence of his own writings, that he came from one of the Universities, or from both, an adept in logic, rhetoric, philosophy, mathematics, and theology. After travelling in France and the Low Countries, he returned to enter himself of the Middle Temple, with a view to study the municipal law; the only voucher for which, however, is Speght's assertion that a Mr. Buckley had seen a fugitive, dateless record, setting forth that “Geffrey Chaucer was fined two shillings for beating a Franciscane frier in Fleet Street." Certainly his law practice was of the slenderest. His true vocation was the court.
He obtained the favour of Edward III., to whom he was principally recommended through the good offices of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. Before this time he had married Philippa, sister of the famous Catharine Swinford, who afterwards became the duke's third wife. Through the gradations of rank and office Chaucer Fose in 1372 to the dignity of scutifer noster, squire to the king; and of ambassador, jointly with two others, to the Republic of Genoa. This mission furnished the poet with an opportunity of visiting Petrarch at Padua. For his diplomatic services he was rewarded with divers pensions and perquisites, and with the Controllership of the Customs of the Port of London; the duties of which office, as expressly stipulated in the patent, he was to perform in person and not by deputy. They were not, however, of so exacting a nature as to prevent him from indulging in poetical recreations.
Some time after, misfortunes came upon him so thickly that he is found praying the king, Richard II., for
protection against his creditors. Little is known of the cause of his troubles; but it is probable that, having taken part in the disturbances which agitated the City of London, le