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SAINING brightly in the twilight period of English literature, appears the name of GEOFFREY CHAUCER. He is often called Dan Chaucer, as in the quotation; a title of respect, originally “Don”* or Lord. Southey says, that the line of English poets begins with him, as that of English kings with William the Conqueror. He is styled the “Father of English poetry;” “the loadstar of the language, and extolled as

“The morning-star of song, who made
His music heard below;

* From the Latin Dominus.

Dan Chaucer, the first warbler, whose sweet breath

Preluded those melodious bursts, that fill
The spacious times of great Elizabeth

With sounds that echo still.”

The poets before him are almost forgotten, and you could not even read their rhymes without some study; so much does the old English differ from our own. A short lyric from an unknown poet of the thirteenth century will show the state of the English language at that time. The theme is the uncertainty of life:

“ Winter wakeneth all my care;
Now these leaves waxeth bare.
Oft I sigh and mourn sare,
When it cometh in my thought.
of this world's joy, how it goth all to nought.
Now it is and now it n'is (is not).
All so it ne'er n'were I wis;
That many men saith sooth it is,
All go'th but Godes will.
All we shall die, though us like ill.
All that grain me groweth green,
Now it falloweth all by-dene (fadeth presently),
Jesu help that it be seen,
And shield us from hell;
For I n'ot (know not) whither I shall,
Ne how long here dwell."

Those early days in “Merrie England” were the days of feudalism, which, you know, is the exact reverse of republicanism, the government of which we are now so proud. The twelfth and thirteenth centuries saw the height of the feudal system, and the commencement of its decline. In our country the basis of honor and power is the people, but in theirs it was the king, from whom all classes took their power, and on whom they were dependent, while the common people were mere slaves, to do his bidding.

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