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country has received all its wisdom from the town, the moment has come when in American society many of the higher influences of civilization may rather be sought in the fields, when we may learn there many valuable lessons of life, and particularly all the happy lessons of simplicity.
The flower and the Leaf.
This charming fairy tale of Chaucer has never yet, it is
believed, been reprinted entire in America. The poem, complete, in its quaint, original garb, has been placed among these selections with the hope that its intrinsic beauty and its rarity may alike prove sources of interest to the reader. Unfortunately there is much of Chaucer which will not bear to be generally read-much against which we are justly cautioned. But the grossness with which he is reproached must have been rather the fault of the age to which he belonged, than of the man himself, for the passages open to us are full of sweetness and delicacy, so fresh and original, so quaintly fanciful, so altogether delightful, that one can never cease to deplore that all his pages should not be equally fair and clean. Here, however, we have a complete work of the old master quite free from objection ; in this instance the delicacy of the fancy appears to have shielded him from the prevailing coarseness of the period in which he wrote. The uncouth old spelling need not deprive any one of the pleasure of enjoying the poem, as a few minutes' practice will accustom the eye and the ear to the strangeness of the orthography and rhythm. It would have been very easy to obviate those last obstacles en. tirely by giving the reader Dryden's version, instead of the original ; but there are a thousand charming touches in Chaucer quite peculiar to himself, and which Dryden, with all his higher polish, could never really improve. Every original work of a man of genius, even when imperfect and faulty, must always possess a life and reality which no imitation, even the most finished, can hope to equal; and in this, as in every other instance, we have preferred carrying our bucket to the fountain head. Let us hope the reader will enjoy the draught offered to him from
“Dan Chaucer, well of English undefiled.”
THE FLOWER AND THE LEAF.
A gentlewoman out of an arbour in a grove, seeth a great companie of knights and ladies in a
daunce upon the greene grasse : the which belog ended, they all kneele downe, and do honour to the daisie, some to the flower, and some to the leafe. Afterward this bentlewoman learneth by one of these ladies the meaning bereof, which is this : They which honour the flower, a thing fading with every blast, are such as looke after beautie and worldly pleasure. But they that honour the lease, which abideth with the root, notwithstanding the frosts and winter stories, are they which follow vertue and during qualities, without regard of worldly respecte.
Whan that Phebus his chair of golde so hie,
And I so glad of the season swete
Wherefore I mervaile greatly of my selfe,
In which were okes great, streight as a line,
Which as me thought was right a pleasant sight,
And, at the last, a path of little brede
That benched was, and with turfes new
And closed in all the greene herbere,
Wrethen in fere so well and cunningly,
And shapen was this herber roof and all,
Perceive all tho thot yeden there without
And as I stood and cast aside mine eie,
And to the herber side was joyning