Author: Chaucer, Geoffrey, 1343?-1400
-1400 — Adaptations
Chaucer for Children: A Golden Key
CHAUCER FOR CHILDREN
KEY TO THE COVER.
The 1st Arch contains a glimpse of Palamon and Arcite fighting desperately, yet wounded oftener and sharplier by Love’s arrows than by each deadly stroke. The ruthless boy aloft showers gaily upon them his poisoned shafts.
The 2nd contains Aurelius and Dorigen—that loving wife left on Breton shores, who was so nearly caught in the trap she set for herself. Aurelius offers her his heart aflame. It is true his attitude is humble, but she is utterly in his power—she cannot get away whilst he is kneeling on her dress.
The 3rd represents the Summoner led away, but this time neither to profit nor to pleasure, by his horned companion. The wicked spirit holds the reins of both horses in his hand, and the Summoner already quakes in anticipation of what is in store for him.
The 4th contains the three rioters. The emblem of that Death they sought so wantonly hangs over their heads; the reward of sin is not far off.
The 5th Arch is too much concealed by the lock to do more than suggest one of Griselda’s babes.
The Key, from which the book takes its name, we trust may unlock the too little known treasures of the first of English poets. The Daisy, symbol for all time both of Chaucer and of children, and thus curiously fitted to be the connecting link between them, may point the way to lessons fairer than flowers in stories as simple as daisies.
CHAUCER FOR CHILDREN
Demy 8vo, cloth limp, 2s. 6d.
CHAUCER FOR SCHOOLS.
By Mrs. HAWEIS, Author of ‘CHAUCER FOR CHILDREN.’
This is a copious and judicious selection from Chaucer’s Tales, with full notes on the history, manners, customs, and language of the fourteenth century, with marginal glossary and a literal poetical version in modern English in parallel columns with the original poetry. Six of the Canterbury Tales are thus presented, in sections of from 10 to 200 lines, mingled with prose narrative. ‘Chaucer for Schools’ is issued to meet a widely-expressed want, and is especially adapted for class instruction. It may be profitably studied in connection with the maps and illustrations of ‘Chaucer for Children.’
‘We hail with pleasure the appearance of Mrs. Haweis’s “Chaucer for Schools.” Her account of “Chaucer the Tale-teller” is certainly the pleasantest, chattiest, and at the same time one of the soundest descriptions of the old master, his life and works and general surroundings, that have ever been written. The chapter cannot be too highly praised.’—Academy.
‘The authoress is in such felicitous harmony with her task, that the young student, who in this way first makes acquaintance with Chaucer, may well through life ever after associate Mrs. Haweis with the rare productions of the father of English poetry.’—School-Board Chronicle.
‘Unmistakably presents the best means yet provided of introducing young pupils to the study of our first great poet.’—Scotsman.
‘In her “Chaucer for Schools” Mrs. Haweis has prepared a great assistance for boys and girls who have to make the acquaintance of the poet. Even grown people, who like their reading made easy for them, will find the book a pleasant companion.’—Guardian.
‘The subject has been dealt with in such a full and comprehensive way, that the book must be commended to everyone whose study of early English poetry has been neglected.’—Daily Chronicle.
‘We venture to think that this happy idea will attract to the study of Chaucer not a few children of a larger growth, who have found Chaucer to be very hard reading, even with the help of a glossary and copious notes. Mrs. Haweis’s book displays throughout most excellent and patient workmanship, and it cannot fail to induce many to make themselves more fully acquainted with the writings of the father of English literature.’—Echo.
‘The book is a mine of poetic beauty and most scholarly explanation, which deserves a place on the shelves of every school library.’—School Newspaper.
‘For those who have yet to make the acquaintance of the sweet and quaint singer, there could not well be a better book than this. Mrs. Haweis is, of course, an enthusiast, and her enthusiasm is contagious. Her volume ought to be included in all lists of school books—at least, in schools where boys and girls are supposed to be laying the foundations of a liberal education.’—Literary World.
‘Mrs. Haweis has, by her “Chaucer for Schools,” rendered invaluable assistance to those who are anxious to promote the study of English literature in our higher and middle-grade schools…. Although this edition of Chaucer has been expressly prepared for school use, it will be of great service to many adult readers.’—School Guardian.
CHATTO & WINDUS, PICCADILLY, W.
KNIGHT. SQUIRE. BOY. WIFE OF BATH. PRIORESS. CHAUCER (A CLERK). FRIAR. MINE HOST.
MONK. SUMMONER. PARDONER. SECOND NUN. FRANKLIN.
MINE HOST ASSEMBLING THE CANTERBURY PILGRIMS.
CHAUCER FOR CHILDREN
A Golden Key
By MRS. H. R. HAWEIS
ILLUSTRATED WITH EIGHT COLOURED PICTURES
AND NUMEROUS WOODCUTS BY THE AUTHOR
‘Doth now your devoir, yonge knightes proude!’
A New Edition, Revised.
CHATTO & WINDUS, PICCADILLY
CHIEFLY FOR THE USE AND PLEASURE OF
MY LITTLE LIONEL,
FOR WHOM I FELT THE NEED OF SOME BOOK OF THE KIND,
I HAVE ARRANGED AND ILLUSTRATED THIS
|FOREWORDS TO THE SECOND EDITION||ix|
|CHAUCER THE TALE-TELLER||1|
|The Knight’s Tale||34|
|The Friar’s Tale||57|
|The Clerk’s Tale||65|
|The Franklin’s Tale||84|
|The Pardoner’s Tale||92|
|Complaint of Chaucer to his Purse||100|
|Good Counsel of Chaucer||104|
|NOTES ON THE PICTURES||107|
List of Illustrations.
|II.||DINNER IN THE OLDEN TIME||To face||2|
|III.||LADY CROSSING THE STREET||“||6|
|VII.||DORIGEN AND AURELIUS||“||86|
|IV.||MAPS OF OLD AND MODERN LONDON||To face||4|
|VII.||JOHN OF GAUNT||7|
|XXI.||THE DOCTOR OF PHYSIC||29|
|XXII.||THE WIFE OF BATH||29|
|XXVIII., XXIX.||KNIGHTS IN ARMOUR||48|
FOREWORDS TO THE SECOND EDITION.
In revising Chaucer for Children for a New Edition, I have fully availed myself of the help and counsel of my numerous reviewers and correspondents, without weighting the book, which is really designed for children, with a number of new facts, and theories springing from the new facts, such as I have incorporated in my Book for older readers, Chaucer for Schools.
Curious discoveries are still being made, and will continue to be, thanks to the labours of men like Mr. F. J. Furnivall, and many other able and industrious scholars, encouraged by the steadily increasing public interest in Chaucer.
I must express my sincere thanks and gratification for the reception this book has met with from the press generally, and from many eminent critics in particular; and last, not least, from those to whom I devoted my pleasant toil, the children of England.
M. E. HAWEIS.
To the Mother.
A Chaucer for Children may seem to some an impossible story-book, but it is one which I have been encouraged to put together by noticing how quickly my own little boy learned and understood fragments of early English poetry. I believe that if they had the chance, many other children would do the same.
I think that much of the construction and pronunciation of old English which seems stiff and obscure to grown up people, appears easy to children, whose crude language is in many ways its counterpart.
The narrative in early English poetry is almost always very simply and clearly expressed, with the same kind of repetition of facts and names which, as every mother knows, is what children most require in story-telling. The emphasis which the final E gives to many words is another thing which helps to impress the sentences on the memory, the sense being often shorter than the sound.
It seems but natural that every English child should know something of one who left so deep an impression on his age, and on the English tongue, that he has been called by Occleve “the finder of our fair language.” For in his day there was actually no national language, no national literature, English consisting of so many dialects, each having its own literature intelligible to comparatively few; and the Court and educated classes still adhering greatly to Norman-French for both speaking and writing. Chaucer, who wrote for the people, chose the best form of English, which was that spoken at Court, at a time when English was regaining supremacy over French; and the form he adopted laid the foundation of our present National Tongue.
Chaucer is, moreover, a thoroughly religious poet, all his merriest stories having a fair moral; even those which are too coarse for modern taste are rather naïve than injurious; and his pages breathe a genuine faith in God, and a passionate sense of the beauty and harmony of the divine work. The selections I have made are some of the most beautiful portions of Chaucer’s most beautiful tales.
I believe that some knowledge of, or at least interest in, the domestic life and manners of the 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries, would materially help young children in their reading of English history. The political life would often be interpreted by the domestic life, and much of that time which to a child’s mind forms the dryest portion of history, because so unknown, would then stand out as it really was, glorious and fascinating in its vigour and vivacity, its enthusiasm, and love of beauty and bravery. There is no clearer or safer exponent of the life of the 14th century, as far as he describes it, than Geoffrey Chaucer.
As to the difficulties of understanding Chaucer, they have been greatly overstated. An occasional reference to a glossary is all that is requisite; and, with a little attention to a very simple general rule, anybody with moderate intelligence and an ear for musical rhythm can enjoy the lines.
In the first place, it must be borne in mind that the E at the end of the old English words was usually a syllable, and must be sounded, as Aprillē, swootĕ, &c.
Note, then, that Chaucer is always rhythmical. Hardly ever is his rhythm a shade wrong, and therefore, roughly speaking, if you pronounce the words so as to preserve the rhythm all will be well. When the final e must be sounded in order to make the rhythm right, sound it, but where it is not needed leave it mute.
Thus:—in the opening lines—
Whan that | April | le with | his schowr | es swootewhen, showers, sweet
The drought | of Marche | hath per | cèd to | the rootepierced, root
And bath | ud eve | ry veyne | in swich | licoursuch, liquor
Of whiche | vertue | engen | drèd is | the flour. (Prologue.)flower
You see that in those words which I have put in italics the final E must be sounded slightly, for the rhythm’s sake.
And sma | le fow | les ma | ken me | lodiesmall birds make
That sle | pen al | the night | with o | pen yhe. (Prologue.)sleep, all
Again, to quote at random—
The bu | sy lark | e mess | ager | of day,lark, messenger
Salu | eth in | hire song | the mor | we gray. (Knight’s Tale.)saluteth, her, morning
Ful long | e wern | his leg | gus, and | ful lene;legs, lean
Al like | a staff | ther was | no calf | y-sene. (Prologue—‘Reve.’)
or in Chaucer’s exquisite greeting of the daisy—
Knelyng | alwey | til it | unclo | sèd wasalways
Upon | the sma | le, sof | te, swo | te gras. (Legend of Good Women.)small, soft, sweet
How much of the beauty and natural swing of Chaucer’s poetry is lost by translation into modern English, is but too clear when that beauty is once perceived; but I thought some modernization of the old lines would help the child to catch the sense of the original more readily: for my own rendering, I can only make the apology that when I commenced my work I did not know it would be impossible to procure suitable modernized versions by eminent poets. Finding that unattainable, I merely endeavoured to render the old version in modern English as closely as was compatible with sense, and the simplicity needful for a child’s mind; and I do not in any degree pretend to have rendered it in poetry.
The beauty of such passages as the death of Arcite is too delicate and evanescent to bear rough handling. But I may here quote some of the lines as an example of the importance of the final e in emphasizing certain words with an almost solemn music.
And with | that word | his spech | e fail | e gan;speech, fail
For fro | his feete | up to | his brest | was come
The cold | of deth | that hadde | him o | ver nome;overtaken
And yet | moreo | ver