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have quarrelled. Gower tells us himself that he was blind in his old age. From his will, it appears that he was living in 1408. His bequests to several churches and hospitals, and his legacy to his wife of 1001., of all his valuable goods, and of the rents arising from his manors of Southwell in the county of Nottingham, and of Multon in the county of Suffolk, undeniably prove that he was rich.

One of his three great works, the Speculum Medi. tantis, a poem in French, is erroneously described by Mr. Godwin and others as treating of conjugal fidelity. In an account of its contents, in a MS. in Trinity College Cambridge, we are told that its principal subject is the repentance of a sinner. The Vox Clamantis, in Latin, relates to the insurrection of the commons, in the reign of Richard II. The Confessio Amantis, in English, is a dialogue between a lover and his confessor, who is a priest of Venus, and who explains, by apposite stories and philosophical illustrations, all the evil affections of the heart, which impede, or counteract the progress and success of the tender passion.

His writings exhibit all the crude erudition and science of his age; a knowledge sufficient to have been the fuel of genius, if Gower had possessed its fire.

THE TALE

OF

THE COFFERS OR CASKETS, &c.

IN THE FIFTH BOOK OF

THE CONFESSIO AMANTIS.

In a Cronique thus I rede:
Aboute a king, as must nede,
Ther was of knyghtès and squiers
Gret route, and eke of officers :
Some of long time him hadden served,
And thoughten that they haue deserved
Avancement, and gon withoute:
And some also ben of the route,
That comen but a while agon,
And they avanced were anon,

These oldè men upon this thing,
So as they durst, ageyne the king
Among hemself compleignen ofte:
But there is nothing said so softe,
That it ne comith out at laste :
The king it wiste, and als so faste,

1 Themselves.

As he which was of high prudence:
He shope therfore an evidence
Of hem' that pleignen in the cas,
To knowe in whose defalte it was ;
And all within his owne entent,
That non ma wistè what it ment.
Anon he let two cofres niake
Of one semblance, and of one make,
So lich?, that no lif thilke throwe,
That one may

fro that other knowe:
They were into his chamber brought,
But no man wot why they be wrought,
And natheles the king hath bede
That they be set in privy stede,
As he that was of wisdom slih ;
Whan he therto his time sihs,
All privěly, that none it wiste,
His ownè hondes that one chiste
Of fin gold, and of fin perie*,
The which out of his tresorie
Was take, anon he fild full;
That other cofre of straw and mull5
With stones meynd he fild also :
Thus be they full bothè two.

So that erliche? upon a day
He had within, where he lay,
Ther should be tofore his bed

A bord up set and fairè spred: 1 Them. 2 Like. 3 Saw. 4 Jewels, or precious stones.

5 Rubbish. 6 Mingled. 7 Early.

And than he let the cofres fette 1
Upon the bord, and did hem sette.
He knewe the names well of tho?,
The whiche agein him grutched so,
Both of his chambre and of his halle,
Anon and sent for hem alle;
And seidè to hem in this wise.

There shall no man his hap despise :
I wot well ye have longe served,
And God wot what ye have deserved;
But if it is along on me
Of that ye unavanced be,
Or elles if it belong on yow,
The sothè shall be proved now:
To stoppe with your evil word,
Lo! here two cofres on the bord;
Chese which

you

list or bothè two; And witеth well that one of tho Is with tresor so full begon, That if ye happè therupon Ye shall be richè men for ever: Now cheses, and take which you is lever, But be well ware ere that ye take, For of that one I undertake Ther is no maner good therein, Wherof ye mighten profit winne. Now goth * together of one assent, And taketh your avisement;

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1 Fetched.

2 Those.

3 Choose.

4 Go.

For, but I you this day avance,
It stant upon your ownè chance,
Al only in defalte of grace;
So shall be shewed in this place
Upon you all well afyn!,
That no defaltè shal be

myn.
They knelen all, and with one vois
The king they thonken of this chois:
And after that they up arise,
And gon aside, and hem avise,
And at lastè they acorde
(Wherof her? talè to recorde
To what issue they be falle)
A knyght shall spekè for hem alle:
He kneleth doun unto the king,
And seith that they upon this thing,
Or for to winne, or for to leses,
Ben all avised for to chese.

Tho4 toke this knyght a yerd 5 on honde,
And goth there as the cofres stonde,
And with assent of everychone
He leith his yerde upon one,
And seith? the king how thilke same
They chese in reguerdone by name,
And preith him that they might it have.

The king, which wolde his honor save,
Whan he had heard the common vois,

Hath granted hem her owne chois, 1 At last. Their. 3 Lose. 4 Then, 5 A rod. 6 Every one. 7 Sayeth to the king. 8 As their reward.

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