The Battalion. (College Station, Tex.) 1893-current, December 01, 1893, Image 6

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‘ v-
lier language, ghould have been so rich a
genius and so cheerful a spirit ; that he
should have lived in that splendid
fourteenth century, which was the flower
of the age of chivalry, and the prep
aration for the wonders of the next age ;
and that he should have belonged to the
English court when that court was the
most magnificent in Europe. This fair
beginning had much to do with endow
ing English literature with a largeness
of view hardly to have been expected
from the literature of an insular people.
Large indeed was the canvass of Chau
cer! From the coarse fun and practical
jokes that were to re-appear at a far-dis
tant day in the inn-scenes of Fielding
and Smollett—art such as Hans Sachs
put on the stage and the Flemish paint
ers in their pictures—to the glowing
ideals of love and heroism which chiv
alry formed, such as Sir Philip Sidney
afterward poured into his sonnets and his
Arcadia; surely the range is wide. He
inherits from the troubadours, the trou-
veres, and the minnesingers, on the one
hand, and from the makers of the fabii-
tmx and the cofytes, on the other. At
the same time, he is possessed of a treas
ure richer than any amassed by either
©f these classes of writers. He has the
great gift of seeing and reproducing char
acter. The prelude to the Canterbury
Tales is a prelude to the great picture-
galleries of Shakspeare, Marlowe Jon son,
Fletcher, Webster, Massinger and all
that rich array of dramatists ; it is a pre
lude to the whole literature of the novel,
from Richardson to our too analytical
character-painters of to-day, the .Story
tellers who leave out the story altogether.
Itfor in all the literature since Chaucer
have there been characters etched more
truly and clearly than those of the
'“veray parfit gentil knight:’ 7 the squire
that “was as fresshe as is the rnoneth of
May;” that elegant lad3% “Madame
Eglantine,” the prioress ; the monk
that Scott expanded into his Prior of
Jorvaux ; the friar that lisped “To make
his English sweteupon his tongue the
clerk “of Oxenforde,” who is believed to
present the poet himself; the law3 7 er who
“semed besierthan he was the doctor
whose study “was but litel on the P>ible;’ ?
the wife of Bath, who had married five
husbands; the good parson who taught
“Cristes lore, and his apostles twelve,
But first he lolwed it himselye,”’
that exquisite picture of a true shepherd
of souls which even Goldsmith’s copp in
The Deserted Village can scarcely be si^d.
to have improved upon the merry host
of the Tabard.
‘-Bold of his speche, and wys and ■wel i-taught,”
and all the rest of that delightful
company of pilgrims to the shrine of
St. Thomas of Canterbury. He maltos
his England luminous-for us.
To write intelligently upon an # y sub
ject it should be well understood and
carefully defined. The first step then, in
all inquiry, as well as in discussion of
whatever character undertaken for the
expansion of truth, is to set forth 0*5
clearly and distinctly as possible the
meaning of the words and terms which
constitute your subject matter, and from
which your conclusions are to be drawn.
This is the work of definition, and is no
less essential in political investigations
than it is in scientific. ~ It is the begin
ning of progress in every department of
learning whether moral, intellectual or
Government then in its true sense