London, Volume 1

Knight, Charles


The Tabard.

The Tabard.



If were suddenly asked to point out that portion of the Metropolis which more than any other is crowded with the most deeply interesting associations, the Borough would hardly we think be the chosen place. The very name seems to repel all ideas of a romantic or poetical nature. Yet, if there be classic ground in London, it is this. Standing upon the foot of that bridge which has replaced the venerable piece of antiquity so connected with the local history of , and looking forwards into the mass of human dwellings beyond, what a host of recollections of some of the mightiest intellects of our own


or of any other country rush upon the mind, in connexion with localities every of which might be comprised in a half-circle of a few yards from the river! On the right, beneath a splendid canopied tomb, in the fine old church of St. Mary Overies, or, as it is now called, , lies Gower, lodged as few poets are lodged in their last resting-place; and for a reason that few poets are so fortunate as to be able to give, namely, on account of his extensive benefactions to the sacred edifice. In the churchyard of the same building lie in grave Fletcher and Massinger. The record of Massinger's death in the parochial register is a melancholy :

Philip Massinger, A STRANGER!

Still farther to the right, on the Bank Side was Beaumont and Fletcher's house; for that too, like their genius and reputation, they held in common; and, above all, in the same immediate neighbourhood was the theatre where an audience saw Shakspere nightly tread the stage; where, from time to time, all the aristocracy of London-whether of rank or intellect-thronged to witness some new production from that wonderful mind; and from which he retired in the prime of life to spend his last days in the peaceful and honourable enjoyment of his well-earned wealth. In the street now known as was Shakspere's London residence as late as . In his brother Edmund, years his junior, was buried in . Thus more than commonly rich in its poetical associations is the apparently unpoetical Borough! But have we concluded the list?-The of Chaucer yet lies unnoticed before us.

There are few more ancient streets than that in which the famous hostelry is situated--the of . During the period of the Roman Londinium, years ago, it was undoubtedly what it still remains-the great road from the metropolis to the southern ports. Roman antiquities are still occasionally found in different parts of its line. Its convenient situation as a suburb for the entertainment of travellers passing between London and the counties of Surrey, Sussex, and Kent,--who were here as contiguous to the

silent highway

as they could desire, and at the same time more pleasantly lodged than they could be in the densely-populated metropolis,--made it early famous for its inns. After the murder and canonization of Becket, the number of persons continually setting out on pilgrimages to his shrine at Canterbury, and who appear to have been generally accustomed to meet here and form themselves into parties, contributed still further to the increase and prosperity of these houses of entertainment. Stow, several centuries later (in ), alludes to them in such a way as to show that they then formed a principal feature of the :



be many fair inns for receipt of travellers;

and he then proceeds,

amongst the which the most ancient is the Tabard, so called of the sign, which as we now term it is of a jacket or sleeveless coat, whole before, open on both sides, with a square collar, winged at the shoulders: a stately garment of old time, commonly worn of noblemen and others, both at home and abroad in the wars; but then (to wit in the wars) their arms embroidered, or otherwise depict upon them, that every man by his coat of arms might be known from others. But now these tabards are only worn by the heralds, and be called their coats of arms in service.


most, ancient

then of the inns of , even in --this great rival of our Boar's Heads and Mermaids, which, older than either, has survived both--is situated immediately opposite what was


formerly called Hill (though now perfectly level), then the site of , now of the Town-hall of the Borough. The exterior of the inn is simply a narrow, square, dilapidated-looking gateway; its posts strapped with rusty iron bands-its gates half covered with sheets of the same metal.

The Talbot Inn

is painted above, and till within the last or years there was also the following inscription:--

This is the Inne where Sir Jeffry Chaucer and the




Pilgrims lay in their journey to Canterbury, anno



This inscription was formerly on the frieze of a beam laid crosswise upon uprights, which stood in the road in the front of the Tabard, and from which hung the sign, creaking as it swung to and fro with every passing gust. The sign and its supports were removed in , when all such characteristic features of the streets of London in the olden time disappeared, in obedience to a parliamentary edict for their destruction. The writing of this inscription was evidently not very ancient; but had, not improbably, been renewed from time to time from a very remote period. Tyrrwhitt,[n.59.1]  however, thinks it is not older than the century, from the fact that Speght, who noticed the Tabard in his edition of Chaucer (), does not mention it; he therefore supposes it to have been put up after the great fire of in , when some portion of the inn was burnt, and in consequence of the change of name which then took place, Aubrey, writing a little after the period of the fire, says,

The ignorant landlord, or tenant, instead of the ancient sign of the Tabard, put up the Talbot, or dog!


on the frieze of the beam

was then the inscription, which, however, he does not say was then also put up. Certainly Speght does not give any inscription, properly so called, but the circumstance recorded in the inscription, and in language so very similar, that we cannot but think the inscription was in his mind at the time of writing:

This was the hostelry where Chaucer and the other pilgrims met together, and with Henry Baily, their host, accorded about the manner of their journey to Canterbury, &c.

The date also, , is precisely that which best agrees with the details of the poem and the known period of its composition, the latest historical event mentioned in it being Jack Straw's insurrection in , and the poem itself having been composed somewhere between that year and the close of the century. We are, therefore, fully at liberty to believe, if we please, that the inscription (and consequently the poem) records, or is founded on, a real fact; and we may strengthen that belief by remembering how much of the real, as well as of the ideal, pervades the entire structure of the

Canterbury Tales,

making it impossible to say where the ends and the other begins. Faith therefore is best. We cannot do better than believe Chaucer's statement implicitly:--

Befel, that in that season,April, with his showres sote. [sweet.]

on a day

In Southwark at the Tabard as I lay,

Ready to wenden on my pilgrimage

To Canterbury with devout courage,

At night was come into that hostelry

Well nine and twenty in a company

Of sundry folk, by adventure yfall

In fellowship, and pilgrims were they all,

That toward Canterbury woulden ride.



The state of the gateway presents but a too faithful type of the general state of the inn. Its patchings and alterations, its blackened doors and bursting ceiling, and its immense cross-beams, tell us, in language not to be mistaken, of antiquity and departed greatness. From the gateway the yard is open to the sky, and gradually widens. On either side is a range of brick buildings, extending for some little distance; opposite the end of that on the right, the left-hand range is continued by the most interesting part of the Tabard, a stone-coloured wooden gallery on the floor, which, in its course making a right angle, presents its principal portion directly opposite the entrance from the . It is supported by plain thick round pillars, also of wood; and it supports on other pillars of a slenderer make, in front, the bottom of the very high and sloping tiled roof. Offices, with dwellings above, occupy the left range as far as the gallery, beneath which are stables; whilst under the front portion of the gallery is a waggon-office, with its miscellaneous packages lying about; and suggesting thoughts of the time when as yet road-waggons, properly so called, were unknown, and the carriers, with their strings of pack-horses and jingling bells, filled the yard with their bustle and obstreperous notes of preparation for departure. Immediately over this office, in the centre of the gallery, is a picture, said to be by



well painted,

[n.60.1]  of the Canterbury Pilgrimage, though now so dirty or decayed that the subject itself is hardly discernible. The buildings on the right are principally occupied by the bar, tap-room, parlour, &c., of the present inn: to these, therefore, we shall for convenience give that appellation, although the gallery and stables also still belong to it. From the inn, then, originally stretched across to the gallery a bridge of communication, balustraded, we may be sure, like the gallery, and arched over like the similar bridge still existing


in another part of the yard. The proofs of this connecting bridge are exhibited on the wall of the inn, in the blackened ends of the row of horizontal planks, set edge-wise, which supported it, and in the door, now walled up, to which it led, which opened into a large room, extending quite through the depth of the inn-buildings. On turning the corner of the right-hand range, we find in the same line, but standing considerably back, the lofty stables; and scarcely can we enter the doors, before--as our eye measures their extraordinary size-we acknowledge the truth of Chaucer's description: we are almost satisfied this must have been the place he saw. They are, indeed,


On the same side is another range of buildings, continued into another open yard behind; on the opposite side projects the end of the
gallery; and here we find the bridge we have mentioned connecting the sides, and which is in a most ruinous-looking state. The great extent of the original inn may be conceived when we state that there is little doubt but that it occupied the whole yard, with all its numerous buildings; for, from of the houses in the , standing on the North side of the gateway, a communication is still traceable through all the intermediate tenements to the gallery; from thence across the bridge at its furthest extremity to the stables, and back again to the present inn; and, lastly, from thence right through to the once more--to the house on the of the gateway.

Let us now walk into the interior. The master of the inn, of whom we may say, with a slight alteration of Chaucer's words-

A seemly man our hoste is withal,

welcomes us at the door, and kindly and patiently inducts us into all its hidden mysteries. Passing with a hasty glance the bar in front--the parlour behind with its blackened roof and its polished tables--the tap-room on the left--the low doorways, winding passages, broken ceilings, and projecting chimney-arches which everywhere meet the eye-we follow our conductor through a narrow door, and are startled to find ourselves upon what appears, from its very contrast to all around, a magnificently broad staircase, with a handsome fir balustrade in perfect condition, and with landings large enough to be converted into bedrooms. On the floor is a door on each side; that on the left communicating with room after another, till you reach the overlooking the bustle of the ; and that on the right leading to the large room formerly opening out upon the bridge. In this room, which is of considerable size, there are the marks of a cornice yet visible on the ceiling. On the story the contrast is almost ludicrous between the noble staircase and the narrow bedrooms, pushed out from within by an immense bulk of masonry, which (enclosing a stack of chimneys) occupies the central space; and forced in from without by the boldly sloping roof: in fact, they were evidently not intended for each other. The changes induced by decay, accidents, and, above all, by a gradually contracting business, which has caused the larger rooms and wide passages to be divided and subdivided, as convenience prompted or necessity required, may account for these discrepancies. The buildings of the opposite range have evidently been to a certain extent of a corresponding nature. These manifold changes have produced a


very different from that of the memorable April night, when

The chambers and the stables weren wide ;


and the whole body of pilgrims, numerous as they were, found entertainment of the


Stepping across the central part of the yard to the gallery, we ascend by a staircase, also

shorn of its fair proportions.

As we mount the stairs our eyes are attracted by a retired modest-looking latticed window, peeping out upon the landing; and in different parts of the gallery are passages leading to countless nests of rooms, forming (as perhaps many of them did of old) the dormitories of the inn. In the centre of the gallery, immediately behind the picture, is a door opening into a lofty passage, with a room on each side: that on the right is, as our host announced to us,

The Pilgrim's room

of tradition. With due reverence we looked upon its honoured walls, its square chimney-piece, and the panel above reaching to the ceiling, upon which there was till very recently a piece of ancient needlework or tapestry, cut out from a larger work, representing, it is said, a procession to Canterbury, and which probably in the days of its splendour adorned the walls of this very room. The size, however, of the place, we confess, did not exactly accord with our ideas of the hall of the ancient Tabard. The depth from wall to window was satisfactory, so was the height; the latticed window itself was large and antique in its expression, notwithstanding the alterations it had certainly experienced; but the of the room-so much less than its depth-appeared, to say the least of it, extraordinary. We went into the room on the other side of the passage, which, with a similar window of similar depth and height, was still shorter; but that our host explained,--he had cut off a room beyond. We went round the gallery to this, and there found an exactly corresponding fireplace and panel, in the exactly corresponding corner to those of the room. Could the whole have formed room? Our host was struck with the idea. There was certainly a great difficulty in the way; the intervening door, passage, and staircase, with a portion of the ancient balustrade, apparently still remaining. We could not, however, avoid again expressing our belief that such was the case. Scarcely had the words passed our lips when the host called out, with as much pleasure in his tones as we can imagine there must have been in his great progenitor's when he announced his famous scheme to the pilgrims,

You are right; where the door now is there has been a



True enough, there were the undeniable evidences of a middle window, half of its outlines visible in the wall agreeing in height and dimensions with those on either side, and the remainder cut away by the door. Were further proof wanting, it exists in the staircase itself, the marks of the original ceiling which crossed the space it occupies being still visible. The whole rooms then had clearly been originally , measuring some feet in length, in height, and about in breadth; lighted by its handsome windows. Thus, doubtless, it was when

,newly repaired


Master J. Preston,

[n.62.1]  in the latter part of the reign of Elizabeth--the period to which the more modern features of the room--the fireplace and panels--may be ascribed. Here, then, is a place worthy of the tradition; which, too, we may add, is in no slight degree confirmed by the circumstances narrated.

But this the pilgrims' room after all? Does that or any portion of the


old Tabard still exist? For the answer to these questions our readers must accompany us a brief way into the history of the inn.

The earliest notice of the site occurs in a register of the Abbey of Hyde, near Winchester, where we find that tenements were conveyed by William de Ludegarsale to the Abbot in , and which were described, in a former conveyance therein recited, as extending in length from the common ditch of eastwards, as far as the royal way towards the west. The ditch here alluded to formerly bounded the back of the Tabard yard, though now, owing to the encroachment of the wall of , it is at a little distance beyond; the royal way doubtless meant the great road from London southwards-the of later times. Speght, after giving a similar account with Stow of the meaning of the word Tabard, goes on to speak of the

Inn in


by London, within the which was the lodging of the Abbot of Hyde by Winchester. This was the hostelry where Chaucer and the other pilgrims met together, and, with Henry Baily their host, accorded about the manner of their journey to Canterbury. And whereas through time it hath been much decayed, it is now by Master J. Preston, with the Abbot's house thereto adjoined, newly repaired, and with convenient rooms much increased for the receipt of many guests.

The Abbey of Hyde, to which then it appears the Tabard belonged, had no less distinguished a founder than.Alfred the Great, and became, in progress of time, a very splendid and wealthy establishment. Its inmates appear to have caught something of Alfred's chivalrous spirit, for, at the battle of Hastings, the Abbot, who was related to Harold, came into the field with of his monks and a score of soldiers; and of all those brave English hearts who there struggled for the freedom of their outraged soil, none appear to have done better service than these gallant monks. They fell, every man, in the field; indeed their heroism appears to have been so conspicuous as to attract the Conqueror's attention, for he afterwards used their house with especial harshness, not only seizing their land, but keeping the abbey without a head for nearly years.

Henry II., however, made amends for all its past losses: he endowed it so magnificently that it became of the most distinguished of English monasteries; and when parliaments began to meet, and the abbots to be summoned to the upper house, the Abbot of Hyde was among the number. A London residence now became necessary, and there is every probability that the site of the Tabard was purchased for this purpose--the being a favoured place with these reverend prelates. The year after the conveyance, (,) the Abbot obtained a licence for

A chapel at his hospitium at

St. Margaret's


Finally, at the dissolution of religious houses, the Abbot's house here was granted to John and Thomas Masters.

From Speght's notice then we see clearly that the original Tabard was standing in , unless we are to suppose that it had been pulled down, rebuilt, and then again become the

most ancient

of the inns of , and

much decayed,

in the space of

two hundred


The most important event connected with the changes the Tabard has undergone is the great fire of in , which, almost forgotten as it is now, would have assuredly been spoken of as great fire, but for the preceding conflagration of . This fire broke out about o'clock in the


morning of the , and

continued with much violence all that day and part of the night following, notwithstanding all the care of the Duke of Monmouth, the Earl of Craven, and the Lord Mayor, to quench the same by blowing up houses and otherwise. His Majesty, accompanied with her Royal Highness, in a tender sense of this sad calamity, being pleased himself to go down to the bridge-foot in his barge, to give such orders as his Majesty found fit for putting a stop to it, which, through the mercy of God, was finally effected, after that about

six hundred

houses had been burnt and blown up.

[n.64.1]  The fire was stayed at , and, there is reason to believe, through the instrumentality of the fire-engine with leathern pipes ever used in this country.[n.64.2] 

The Town-hall, immediately opposite the Tabard, we know to have been then burnt down; and, , the latter must have shared the same fate.

This house,

says Aubrey,

remaining before the fire



, was an old timber house, probably coeval with Chaucer's time.

He must have referred to the exterior building standing on side of the gateway, as shown in the engraving, and which, there is no doubt, coeval with Chaucer's time:--As we look on it, does it not speak for itself? Is not

the Prior's hospitium

written on it plainly in the pointed arches of its windows and door below? But the gallery within-did that perish too in the flames? We think we may answer, certainly not; for, if it had, no such building as that which now exists would have been erected in its room. Galleries like this belong not to the


time of Charles II. The very aspect of the present gallery is enough to convince any that it has not been erected within the last years, and, if not, the facts of its previous history, as we have narrated them, will show that it must be at least as old as Chaucer. We hold, therefore, firmly to the belief that the very gallery exists along which Chaucer and the pilgrims walked; we place implicit credence in the tradition as to the

Pilgrims' Room.

Let it not be said that we have devoted too much space to these proofs, that the inquiry itself is useless; unless the reverence for distinguished men, in which such inquiries have their root, be condemned at the same time. From the period of the contention of the cities for the honours of the birthplace of

the blind old man of Scio's rocky isle,

down to the present day, men in all ages and countries have carefully treasured up every known or supposed fact connected with the personal history of those among them who have raised humanity itself to a higher level by their exertions; and when they cease to do so, it will be not hazarding too much to say that our great poets, patriots, and philosophers may as well at once disappear from the world, for they are nothing if not honoured; they must be reverenced in order to be understood. If, then, our admiration of a great work interests us so much in its author, and in all the localities where he has been, and where consequently we love to linger, how much more strongly should such feelings be excited where the work itself has its own particular and locality--a home as it were from which it cannot be severed! Thus it is with the and with the Tabard--the inn where the of that

Comedy not intended for the stage

meet, in the hall of which its plan is developed, and from which the pilgrims depart, carrying with them an influence that mingles with and presides over all their mirth, humour, pathos, and sublimity, in the person of the Tabard's host, immortal

Harry Baily.

We have kept our readers a long time waiting in the gallery, but we now request them to enter once more the pilgrims' room, and assist us to restore it to something of its original appearance. The intervening walls disappear: from end to end of the long hall there is no obstruction to the eye, except those round pillars or posts placed near each end to support the massy oaken beams and complicated timbers of the ceiling. The chimney-pieces and panels too are gone, and in their stead is that immense funnel-shaped projection from the wall in the centre, opposite the middle window, with its crackling fire of brushwood and logs on the hearth beneath. The fire itself appears pale and wan, in the midst of the broad stream of golden sunshine pouring in through the windows from the great luminary now fast sinking below the line of in the opposite. Branching out in antlered magnificence from the wall at extremity of the room, and immediately over the door, are the frontal honours of a -rate deer, a present probably from the monks of Hyde to their London tenant and entertainer. At the other end of the hall is the cupboard with its glittering array of plate, comprising large silver quart-pots, covered bowls and basins, ewers, salt-cellars, spoons; and in a central compartment of the middle shelf is a lofty gold cup with a curious lid. Lastly, over the chimney-bulk hangs an immense bow, with its attendant paraphernalia of arrows, &c., the symbol of our host's favourite diversion. Attendants now begin to move to and fro, some preparing the tables evidently for the entertainment of a


numerous party, others strewing the floor

with herbes sote,

whilst cotisiderately closes the window to keep out the chilling evening air, and, stirring the fire, throws on some more logs. Hark! some of the pilgrims are coming; the miller giving an extra flourish of his bagpipe as he stops opposite the gateway, that they may be received with due attention. Yes, there they are now slowly coming down the yard--that extraordinary assemblage of individuals from almost every rank of society, as diversified in character as in circumstance, most richly picturesque in costume: an assemblage which only the genius of a Chaucer could have brought so intimately together, and for such admirable purposes. Yes, there is the Knight on his


but not


horse, the fair but confident Wife of Bath, the Squire challenging attention by his graceful management of the fiery curveting steed, the Monk with the golden bells hanging from his horse's trappings, keeping up an incessant jingle. But who is this in a remote corner of the gallery, leaning upon the balustrade, the most unobserved but most observing of all the numerous individuals scattered about the scene before us? His form is of a goodly bulk, and habited in a very--dark violet-coloured dress, with bonnet of the same colour: from a button on his breast hangs the gilt anelace, a kind of knife or dagger. His face is of that kind which, once seen, is remembered for ever. Thought,

sad but sweet,

is most impressively stamped upon his pale but comely features, to which the beard lends a fine antique cast. But it is the eye which most arrests you; there is something in that which, whilst you look upon it, seems to open as it were glimpses of an unfathomable world beyond. It is the great poet-pilgrim himself; the narrator of the proceedings of the Canterbury pilgrimage. The host, having now cordially welcomed the pilgrims, is coming along the gallery to see if the hall be ready for their entertainment, making the solitary man smile as he passes at of his merry


As he enters the hall, who could fail to recognise the truth of the description?-

A seemly man our hoste was withal

For to have been a marshall in an hall.

A large man he was with eyen steep,

A fairer burgess is there none in Cheap:

Bold of his speech, and wise and well ytaught;

And of manhood him lacked righte nought.

Eke thereto was he right a merry man.

The dismounted pilgrims, singly or in knots, begin to ascend the gallery. Foremost comes the Knight, with a sedate and dignified countenance, telling, like his soiled gipon, of long years of service; his legs are in armour, with gilt spurs; a red-sheathed dagger hangs from his waist, and little aiglets, tipped with gold, from his shoulders. A nobler specimen of chivalry in all its gentleness and power it would be impossible to find than this

worthy man;

as distinguished for his

truth and honour

as for his

freedom and courtesy ;

who has been concerned in military expeditions in almost every part of the world--in Egypt, Prussia, Russia, Granada,--has fought in no less than


mortal battles,

and made himself particularly conspicuous against the


yet who still remains in his port and bearing as

meek as is a maid ;

who is, in short,

A very perfect gentle knight.

With the Knight comes the Prioress, smiling, so

simple and coy,

at his gallant


attentions, and looking down every now and then to the tender motto of the gold brooch attached to her beads--

Amor vincit omnia

. She wears a wimple, or neckcovering,

full seemely ypinched,

a handsome black cloak, and white tunic beneath--the dress of the Benedictine order, to which she belongs. Her nose is


that is to say, long and well proportioned; her eyes are grey; her mouth full small, soft, and red; and her fair forehead

a span broad.

In a series of the most exquisite touches has Chaucer painted her character; her pretty innocent oath-but

by Saint Eloy;

her singing the

service divine

so sweetly entuned in her nose; her precise and proper French,

after the school of Stratford-atte-Bow ;

her distaste even for her rank, because of the stateliness of manner it entailed; and her tenderness of heart, which would make her

Weep, if that she saw a mouse

Caught in a trap, if it were dead or bled.

With an attention no less marked than the Knight's, and scarcely less graceful, the host receives his distinguished lady-guest at the door, and, addressing her as

courteously as it had been a maid,

leads the way to the table. In the Prioress' train follow a nun and priests; and next to them the Wife of Bath and the Squire, she laughing loudly and heartily, and he blushing at some remark the merry dame has made concerning his absent lady-love. Strange contrast! the steeped to the very lips in romance, seeing everything by the

purple light of love,

sensitive as the famous plant itself to every touch that threatens to approach the sanctuary of his heart--the corner where the holy ministrations of love are for ever going on: the other no longer young, but still beautiful, consummately sensual and worldly, as utterly divested of the poetry of beauty as a handsome woman can well be. We make that qualification, for it is difficult to look unmoved on that winning countenance, so

fair and red of hue,

and which is so well set off by her black hat-

As broad as is a beaver or a targe.

Her full luxuriant-looking form is attired in a closely-fitting red surcoat or jacket, and in a blue petticoat or


bound round

her hippes large

by a golden girdle. Well, although-

Husbands at the church-door has she had five,

we may be pretty sure that it will not be long before a is added to the number. Of all the pilgrims, her companion, the Squire, is perhaps the most poetical, and appears in the most poetical costume, with his curled locks adorning his youthful, ingenuous, and manly face; his embroidered dress looking-

As it were a mead,

All full of freshe flowres white and red ;

and his graceful and active form revealing, in every movement, that he possesses all the vigour with the of the

month of May;

that he is a

lusty bachelor

as well as a


who can while honourably partake all the dangers of his father's foreign expeditions, and the next be content to be doing nothing but




Playing on the flute.

all the day.

The Knight and the Squire


have with them but a single attendant, a yeoman,

clad in coat and hood of green,

wearing a sword and buckler on side, and a


dagger on the other, and having a mighty bow in his hand. His

peacock arrows bright and keen

are under his belt, and his horn is slung by the green baudrick across his shoulders.--

A forester soothly is he as I guess.

It has been remarked that we often hate those whose opinions differ but to a moderate extent from our own, much more than we do those with whom we have not opinion in common; thinking, perhaps, that we are in more danger of being mixed up in the eyes of the world with the than with the last. Some such feeling appears to actuate , at least, of the reverend men who are now entering the hall, namely, the respectable Monk and the half-vagabond Friar, who, whilst locking somewhat suspiciously on each other, seem to agree in their aversion to the Parson before them. He, however, with his meek, placid countenance, and crossed hands, walks quietly up to the table, quite unconscious of the sentiments he has excited: his habit, a scarlet surcoat and hood, with a girdle of beads round his waist, proclaims the ministering priest. And where, in the literature of any age or nation, may we look for so perfectly sublime a character in such a simple homely shape as in this now before us? A man poor in circumstances, but rich in

holy thought and work,

who, even in his poverty, will rather give to all his poor parishioners about, than


like his brethren,

for his tithes,

--who delays not,

for no rain, ne thunder,

In sickness and in mischiefMisfortune. to visit

The farthest in his parish ;

and who, though fully qualified by his learning and abilities to fill the highest offices of the Church, yet remains

full patient

in his adversity, teaching

Christe's lore

to all, but letting all at the same time see that he follows it himself. No wonder a man of this character finds little sympathy with a rich Monk, who can see no reason why he should be always poring over a book in a cloister, when he might be

pricking and hunting for the hare,

and whose appearance bespeaks the luxurious tastes and appetites of its owner-

a lord full fat and in good point.

He wears a black gown, the large sleeves worked or purfled at the edges with the finest fur; his hood, now thrown back and revealing his bald head, shining

as any glass,

is fastened under his chin by a curious pin of gold, with a love-knot in the greater end.

Now certainly he is a fair prelate.

The Friar,

a wanton and merry,

with his tippet stuffed full of knives and pins (presents for the fair wives with whom he is so great a favourite), and lisping-

For his wantonness

To make his English sweet upon the tongue--

looks still less inclined to mortify his appetites, or to want any of the good things of life for any other reason than the difficulty of obtaining them;--a small difficulty with him, whilst there are riotous



worthy women,


to be absolved of their sins-whilst he maintains his reputation as the best beggar in his house;--or, lastly, whilst his


and his


make him a welcome guest at the


where our Friar appears in all his glory, with his eyes twinkling-

As do the starres in a frosty night.

But the supper-bell rings, and the remainder of the pilgrims rapidly obey the signal; a glimpse of each in passing is all that the time will admit of. Foremost comes the Sumpnour, of that


which Milton denounces--a summoner of offenders to the ecclesiastical courts, with his

fire-red cherubinnes face,

and the

knobbs sitting on his cheeks


( Of his visage children were sore afeard)

the very incarnation of gross, depraved self-indulgence. The immense garland on his head, however, shows he has no mean opinion of his personal attractions. Every remark he makes is plentifully interlarded with the Latin law-terms he has picked up in his attendance on the courts; but beware how you ask him their meaning: already he

hath spent all his philosophy.

With him comes his

friend and compeer,

the Pardoner, his lanky yellow hair falling about his shoulders, and bearing before him his precious wallet-

Bret full of pardon came from Rome all hot,

and containing also his invaluable relics--the veil of

Our Lady,

and a piece of the sail of boat. The Miller, who is immediately behind him, seems to listen with marked disrelish to his small goat's voice, and to look with something very like disgust upon his beardless face: he evidently would half like to throw him over the gallery. Certainly no man can be more unlike the object of the Miller's contempt and aversion than the Miller himself, so big of brawn and bone, with his stiff spade-like beard and manly countenance, from the beauty of which, it must at the same time be confessed, the nose, with its large wart and tuft of red bristling hairs, somewhat detracts. His favourite bagpipes are under his arm; he is habited in a

white coat


blue hood.


slender choleric

Reve, or Steward, comes next, having his hair shaved off around his ears, and a long rusty sword by his side, seeming to intimate that he finds that too, as well as his sharp wits (on which

no auditor

can win), sometimes in requisition to enable him so well to keep his


The weather, the seed, the crops, form the subjects of his conversation with the Merchant at his side, who is dressed in a


garment of red, lined with blue, and figured with white and blue flowers; he has a Flanders beaver hat upon his head, and boots, with


and handsome clasps, upon his feet. The man of business is inscribed on his face. Pausing for a moment beside the door, that he may enter with becoming dignity, appears the opulent and eminent Serjeant of the Law, wearing the characteristic feature of his order, the coif, and the no less characteristic feature of the individual, the

homely medley coat.

He not only a man full rich of excellence, but takes care to be thought so by his wise speech; and, whilst the busiest man in his profession, seems ever to be still busier than he is. Such is the man of law--the Judge

full often at assize.

Another professional man! --the Doctor of Physic, in his low hood and bright purple surcoat and stockings;


none like him to speak of physic and of surgery, and of the general business of the healing art; for he is

grounded in astronomy,

and keeps

His patient a full great deal

In houres by his magic natural.

It is not, however, to be overlooked, that he knows

the cause of every malady

a knowledge that incredulous unimaginative people may think of more importance to his fame, as a

very perfect practiser,

than the being

grounded in astronomy.

Let us commend to all lovers of good living the pilgrim who is next coming along the gallery, this good-looking stately gentleman, with the snow-white beard and sanguine complexion, and the white silk gipciere, or purse, hanging from his waist. It is the Franklin, some time knight of the shire,

Epicurus' owen son;

who is evidently snuffing up with eager pleasure certain delicate scents floating hitherwards from the kitchen, and offering up prayers that no unlucky accident may mar the delights of the table, that the sauce may not want in sharpness and poignancy, or his favourite dish be done a turn too much. He is certainly an epicure, but he is also what epicures sometimes are not, exceedingly hospitable: you shall never enter his house without finding great store of baked meats, fish and flesh, or without experiencing the truth of the popular remark-

It snewed in his house of meat and drink.

Lastly, come crowding in together the Manciple, so

wise in buying of victual

for the temple to which he belongs, dressed in a light-blue surcoat, and little light-brown cap: the Shipman, whose hue

the hot summer.

has made

all brown,

whose beard has been shaken in

many a tempest,

and who seems to be still treading his favourite deck: the Cook, famous for his


who has been preparing for the culinary exertions of the morrow by a little extra refreshment this evening: the Ploughman--the Parson's brother, a man possessing much of the Parson's spirit: and the Haberdasher, the Carpenter, the Weaver, the Dyer, and the Maker of tapestry, with their silver-wrought knives, showing they are each of them well to do in the world, and in every respect

Shapelich for to be an alderman.

only of the pilgrims are now missing from the board, the Clerk of Oxenford and the Poet: and here they come; the poor Clerk, in his


garment, and his


face lighted up by an air of inexpressible animation at some remark that has dropped from the lips of his inspired companion. And could Chaucer look unmoved at such a character as the Clerk?-a character so much like his own in all respects but rank and worldly circumstance, that we are not sure but he has here pointed out those mental characteristics which he did not choose to include in his own nominal portrait; which, be it observed too, is merely personal. The Clerk has his own love of books, and study

Of Aristotle and his philosophy;

whilst of Chancer, perhaps, might be more justly said than of the Clerk,

Not a word spake he more than was need,

And that was said in form and reverence,

And short and quick, and full of high sentence.

Sounding in moral virtue was his speech,

And gladly would he learn, and gladly teach.It may be added also, that one of the most interesting passages of Chaucer's life-his visit to Petrarch in Italy, is referred to by the Clerk in his tale of the Patient Grisilde.

Supper is now brought in; fish, flesh, and fowl, baked meats, roast meats, and boiled, high-seasoned dishes, burning as it were, with wild-fire, and others gaily painted and turreted with paper. Among the liquors handed round, due honour is done to the famous ale, of which the proverb says-

The nappy strong ale of Southwark

Keeps many a gossip frae the kirk.


wines, also are there, either

neat as imported,

according to the old tavern inscriptions, such as those of Rochelle, Bourdeaux, Anjou, Gascony, Oseye, &c., or compounded under the names of hippocras, pigment, and claret.

Both ale and wine are carried by the attendants in goblets of wood and pewter.

Pilgrims have generally sharp appetites, and Chaucer's are by no means an exception; they have commenced in good earnest the business of the table.

Scarcely is the supper over, and the


made, before our host, who has evidently for some time been impatient to tell the guests of the merry fancy that possesses him, bursts out with-

Now lordings truély

Ye be to me right welcome heartily;

For by my truth, if that I shall not lie,

I saw not this year such a company

At once in this herberwe From arbour apparently, a word often applied anciently to inns, lodgings, &c. as is now.

Fain would I do you mirth, and I wist how.

And of a mirth I am right now bethought,

To do you ease, and it shall cost you nought.

Ye go to Canterbury; God you speed,

The blissful martyr quite you your meed;

And well I wot, as ye go by the way

Ye shapen you to talken and to play:

For truely comfort ne mirth is none

To riden by the way dumb as the stone.

And therefore would I maken you disport,

As I said erst, and do you some comfort.

And if you liketh all by one assent

Now for to standen at my judgement,

And for to worken as I shall you say

To-morrow, when ye riden on the way,

Now by my father's soule that is dead,

But ye be merry, smiteth off my head.

Hold up your hands withouten more speech.

With an exquisite touch of practical wisdom, Chaucer says,--

He thought it was not worth to make it wise ;

so they bade him

say his verdict.

Lordings, quod he, now heark'neth for the best,

But take it not, I pray you, in disdain:

This is the point, to speak it plat and plain,

That each of you, to shorten with your way

In this voyage, shall tellen tales tway

To Canterbury ward, I mean it so,

And homeward he shall tellen other two,

Of adventures that whilom have befal.

And which of you that beareth him best of all,

That is to say, that telleth in this case

Tales of best sentence and most solace

Shall have a supper at your aller cost

Here in this place, sitting by this post.

When that ye comen again from Canterbury.

The proposition is accepted in the genial spirit in which it is offered, and by



Fresh wine is brought, the pilgrims drink, and then retire to rest-

Withouten any longer tarrying.

The hall is therefore soon deserted of all but the attendants, who rake the fire abroad upon the immense hearth: for a few moments the reflection from the ruddy embers illumines here and there a projecting corner of the oak carvings of the ceiling, but it soon fades into a few bright sparkles, running to and fro as if to escape their doom, and dying in the attempt; till these too at last utterly disappear from our gaze. And now silence and darkness reign in the pilgrims' hall. Silence and darkness!-types of the future desolation which await the now flourishing hostelry,--of a time when the only pilgrims who shall visit its chambers will be the grateful lovers of the genius of the brilliant

Morning Star

of our poetry, coming to worship the Poet at his own proper shrine.


[n.59.1] Notes to his Dissertation on the Canterbury Tales, prefixed to his excellent edition of the poem.

[n.60.1] Gentleman's Magazine, 1812.

[n.62.1] Speght's notice.

[n.64.1] London Gazette, May 29, 1676.

[n.64.2] As the advertisement on which we found this statement appears to have escaped the writers on the history of this valuable machine, we transcribe it from the London Gazette of August 14th, 1676 :-- Whereas his Majesty hath granted letters-patent unto Mr. Wharton and Mr. Strode, for a certain new-invented engine for quenching of fire, with leathern pipes, which carries a great quantity and a continual stream of water, with an extraordinary force, to the top of any house, into any room, passage, or alley; being much more useful than any that hath hitherto been invented, as was attested under the hands of the Masters of St. Thomas's Hospital and officers of the same parish, as in the late great fire of Southwark, to their great benefit and advantage.