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, Have you never heard of Geoffrey Chaucer? He lived in the reign of Edward III., and is the "fadre of Inglisk poesie." It is not known where Geoffrey was born, nor his profession, nor his origin; but his " workis " they be numerous, and full of right pleasant and diverting stories. He smoothed the tongue of his country, and, according to the great lexicographer, was " the first of our versifyers who wrote poetically."
The most popular of Chaucer's productions are his Canterbury Tales, which are ingeniously supposed to have originated in a very pleasant adventure. A company of pilgrims, on their journey to visit the shrine of Thomas a Beckett, at Canterbury, lodge at the Tabarde Inn, in Southwark. Although strangers to one another, they are assembled in one room, as was then the custom; and agree not ouly to travel together next morning, but to relieve the fatigue of the journey by
each telling a story. The occurrence is thus described by Chaucer:
Befelle, that, in that aeson on a day.
In Southwerk, at the Tabarde, as I lay
ltedy to wendin on my pilgrimage
To Canterbury, with devoute corage,' •' . At night was dome into that hostery''
Wei nine and twenty in a cumpany."
Of sondry folk by aventure, yfalle. 'In fellaw&hip, and pilgrimes were they all
That toward Canterbury wolden ride.
It is of the Tabarde, or as it is nowcalled, the Talbot Inn, that the above is a sketch; it is situated opposite the Townhall in the Borough, and still retains over the gateway a record of Chaucer and his merry companions. The sign of the Tabarde was a coat without sleeves, not unlike that the herald at arms wears: the ignorance of succeeding landlords corrupted it into the Talbot and Dog; it is now simply the Talbot, and is still a house of entertainment, not for pilgrims, but butchers, Boguc* waggoners, an(J Kentish
farmers. 'Aubrey mentions, that within
Till swetely herde he their confessionej
The landlord of the Tabarde is celebrated for his love of good cheer, experience in marshalling guests, address and authoritative deportment, and facetious disposition. We can only afford room for the following extract:
A semely mon our hoste was withal, 'To bene been a marshall in a lordis hat. A large mon was he, with eyin'stepe, A fayrer burgeis is ther non in Chepe: Bold of his speche, and wise and well
ytaught, And of manhode lacked him righte naughtej And eke thereto he was a merry mon.
"There is a special providence in the fall of a sparrow."—Hamlet,
There are a number of very good iutentioned, clever kind of people, that are mighty believers in the potency of chance, that are delighted with an unforeseen occurrence, leading to after consequences, and that are perfect connoisseurs in, what they please to term providential escapes. And yet how few of these look on such things but as food for curiosity rather than reflection, as circumstances of amusement or wonder, not events that should teach us wisdom, or inculcate caution. They call them providential escapes, because custom has taught them the term, and they do not, after the first excitement of their occurrence, think of the presiding cause, or see ins arm of encouragement, or hand of anger, tracing the hand-writing, or directing the sling of the son, of Jesse. Chance, chance, is the people's divinity, and " wasn't it strange! wasn't it very lucky!" or " wasn't it shocking !" is the fashionable vocabulary with which it is apostrophized.
Like Richard of Plantagenet, the " vainglorious " of the world go on their course rejoicing, and, unawed by portents, or unmoved by warnings, seem in all their occurrences to exclaim:
«' If chance will hav£ me king,
JVhy, ctace may crc-wn ra,« .09 ""—.3
These few observations have been elicited from meeting with a record of some of those providential escapes,which have been attributed td accident, or chance, and which should rather be ascribed to higher causes, and holier commands. Two or three of these may not inaptly form an epilogue to a very brief commentary, or be totally devoid of interest and instruction.
"If a fire bad not happened at Newmarket, Charles II. wouldnave been assassinated on his road to London."
"If James II. had gone from Salisbury to Warminster to dinner, as he intended, he would have been seized by sir G. Hewitt, Kirk, Lancier, &c., and delivered up to the prince of Orange ; or, if a rescue had been attempted, sir George and Wood were to have shot hiin; or, if that had missed, then lord Churchill, who was to have gone in the coach with him, would have shot or stabbed him; hut his majesty's nose very happily began to bleed, which prevented him from going to Warminster."
"A plot was laid against sir Robert Walpole, when he was to return from the House of Commons; but.'on the night it Wis to take place, sir Robert's carriage did not arrive in time, and he returned in a friend's. The assassins, supposing him to be in his own carriage, on examination found it empty."
"When Bonaparte's destruction'seemed inevitable, by an explosion of what was called the infernal machine, his cbachman was drunk, and drove so furiously that he had passed before tire gunpowder took fire."
These may be multiplied to a considerable extent, but enough to uphold my argument has been given, and I forbear, and write no more.
HISTORY OF THE LABOURING CT.ASSES, 1
.' In our third Number we continued the History of the Working People down to the reign of Henry VII.•; about which period originated what may be emphatically denominated the Poor. By the poor, we mean those who cannot maintain themselves, either by their industry or property, without the gratuitous assistance of their fellow-men. Individuals in this unhappy condition are clearly in a state of slavery; those who cannot live independently of others, cannot, in the affairs of life, act the part of freemen: and, in truth, the great mass of English poor is nothing more than the continuation, under a
mitigate^ form, of the ancient race of
villains. They IbmTan. intermediate stage between villanage and entire personal freedom. How they originated, and became a distinct and recognised class of society, we will briefly explain.
While the feudal system prevailed, a regular chain of subordination subsisted from the highest to the lowest in the community; all thought of personal independence was precluded, and each individual, during sickness or infirmity, looked to his next superior for maintenance and support. From the same motives the lord took care of his cattle, he took care of the tillers of his ground. When this system declined, and men ceased to be the property of their employers, then their only dependence in sickness or old age was either upon their own prudence and foresight, or the voluntary charity of others.
We thus see how different the functions of individuals are in a state of bondage and of liberty. In the former, men may be mere brutes—without knowledge, prudence, or economy; in the latter, these qualities are indispensable. The extension of education, therefore, ought always to keep pace with the extension of personal freedom.
Next to the increase of freedom among the people, as a cause of pauperism, may be reckoned the extension of commerce and manufactures. It is one evil attending the pursuits of commerce, that it tends rapidly to augment population, without simultaneously providing a permanent source of subsistence to the people. The employment resulting from commerce must always be liable to variations; de-, pending on a state of peace or war, the invention of machinery, or the ever-varying taste and fashion of the times. Unless there be some certain provision for the people, independent of these fluctuations, it is evident that they must not only be exposed to great occasional distress, but that even commerce itself cannot be advantageously pursued. Without it, when the demand for labour decreases, numbers must perish from want; and on the other hand, when the demand for labour increases, hands cannot be obtained to meet it. Therefore, to prevent the evil, and secure the advantage of such vicissitudes, provision must be made, either by the community or the people themselves, for their occasional maintenance, independent of their occupations.
To demonstrate the connection between pauperism aud commerce it may be mentioned that, in the Netherlands, when the commerce and manufactures of the country had attained their highest pitch, the Pogr had increased to such a degree that it became necessary to make some
provision for their support. Accordingly, in the year 1531, Charles V. issued an edict to provide for the indigent by public collections at the different religious houses, and in private houses, once or twice every week.
It is in the year 1376, the English'poor are first noticed by the Legislature, under the denomination of beggars, staff-strikers, aud sturdy rogues; and in 1388, it is directed that impotent beggars should continue to reside in the places they were at the time of passing this Act: in case those places were not able to maintain them, they were to remove to some other places in the hundred, or to the place of their birth. From the tenour of this Act, it", ia evident, that the district where they finally settled, was bound" to maintain them; and the legislature of 1388, proceeded on the same principle of a compulsory assessment as that of the celebrated act of Elizabeth in 1601. It seems, too, from the enactments of this period, that the indigent classes had a legal claim on the revenues of the clergy. In 1391, it is declared that, in all appropriations of tithe for the support of monastic institutions, a certain portion should be set apart for the maintenance of the poor.
In the whole of these regulations we see the first foundation of our present system of Poor Laws; and instead of referring their origin to the 43d Elizabeth, we ought only to ascribe the concentration and developement of an ancient practice that had prevailed for some ages before her time. The preamble to the 27th Henry VIII. states, it was not provided by former acts how poor people and sturdy vagabonds should be provided for at their repair aud coming into their counties, nor " how the inhabi-^f tl^f every hundred should be char& I^tm ^Tthcir relief?, nor for setting and keeping in wurke and labour the said valliant beggars at their repaire into every hundred of\ this reaime."
It is clear, at least, from this act, that the Legislature.rhad, at length, become sensible of the necessity of a compulsory maintenance, although a regular tax was not immediately imposed: the same act renders it obligatory on parishes to maintain their poor, by affixing a fine of 20*. a month on those who neglect it. It is not, however, intended to enter into a history of the poor- laws, and the various changes they have undergone from 1601 to the present time. The 43d Elizabeth, by fixing the rate, the mode of levying it, binding children apprentice, &c. established the basis on which, with little alteration, they are administered at this day.
Inflection Of Light.
The phenomena classed under the term of inflection, or diffraction of light, were first noticed by Grimaldi the Jesuit, in his treatise " De Lumine, Coloribus, et Iride," printed in 1666. Dr. Hooke, also, communicated his observations on the same subject to the Royal Society, in 1672, apparently without any knowledge of the previous discovery of Grimaldi, as he speaks of diffraction as a new property of light, not mentioned by any optical writer. When sir Isaac Newton turned his attention to the phenomena of light, he did not neglect this singular branch of the subject: but neither his experiments, nor his hypothesis, much increased the information which had been previously acquired.
By the diffraction, or inflection of light, is understood the influence exerted by solid bodies upon rays of light passing near them, or reflected from their surface. The ray is turned from its direction, and decomposed into fringes of the primitive colours; and these fringes vary in number, intensity, and magnitude, according to the distance of the screen upon which the rays are received from the diffracting subStance.
The most correct and conclusive experiments which have been made upon this subject, were those instituted by Messrs. Biot and Pouillet: of these we shall give a more detailed account in an ensuing number. They were principally directed to the investigation of the phenomena of a ray of light passing between (two metallic edges: the results obtained by these distinguished philosophers, are exceedingly curious, and particularly -worthy of attention.. The little apparatus, a section of nil-cur is represented in the
annexed diagram, has been invented by M. Biot, subsequently to the above-mentioned experiments; and exhibits some of the phenomena of diffraction in a singularly distinct and elegant manner. It consists of two cylindrical brass tubes EE and DD, the tube EE sliding in the tube DD, in such a manner as to allow of the adjustment of the eye-glass A, to a proper distance from the glass B. The glass B is a very thick convex lens, with a radius of about six inches. The eye-glass A is a small cylinder, composed of two cylindrical frustums, of different kinds of glass, each cut at an angle of 45° with the sides of the cylinder; the two frustums are cemented together, by their different elliptical faces, forming a compound cylinder, possessing the properties of double refraction. The thick lens can be screwed off, and admits of the insertion of one of the metallic plates 1, 2, 3, 4, immediately above its surface. The plates are painted black, and differently pierced, as represented in the figures. When the eye is applied at A, and the opposite end of the tube is directed to an imperfectly polished, reflecting substance, as a marble slab, or mahogany table, the edges of the metallic plate at C, are seen surrounded with beautifully defined bands of prismatic light, the size of the aperture in the plate appearing to be increased by the width of the bands. The forms cut in the plates are, of course, immaterial, as the same phenomena are observed with each of them, the figure in which the prismatic edges are disposed alone being affected by changing the plate. When the eye-glass revolves by turning slowly the tube E E, the colours are observed to change, presenting a series of combinations, which we shall afterwards more particularly describe.
THE LIGHT SUPPEIt,
OR, OYSTERS IN ABUNDANCE
A Tale—founded on fact.
"Magnified volo accipere."—Plaut.
; ,, Sic ccenare quomodo rex."—Pttran,
Twas at a feast, in London,* city given, i By a rich Dame of fifty-seven :— 'Self-pois'd in awkward state,
The lavish widow §ate . On a work'd cushion, by Time's fingers riven. Two ladies and two gentlemen.
With pomp invited, graced the board— Each one with appetite made keen. ;. By looking long to see it richly stored.' At length—but here my muse must retrograde, To trace by which of nature's shocks volcanic, A passage through the Lady's heart was made, Through which came orders, to her maid a panic! "Betty! myself, Miss P., and Mistress Q./j
By Mr. H. and Mr. O.,
Now, as these ladies hut last week have both
Must give one too.— «' Now, Betty, ev'ry one must know, Thai heavy suppers are unwholesome—so
I am resolv'd to give a light one— So, at this season of the year, As ovsters are not very dear, If'one gives plenty, why, they cannot slight one." «' Oysters !" quoth Betty—" you know,ma'amf they are Sixpence a dozen at the least M— * *' Sixpence 1" cries madam, with a splutter— «' Well, Betty, you must try all in your power
To get them lower— At any rate, it is my wish That you get half a dozen—on a dishSpread them with care; And then, with sundry bread and divers butter, 'Twill for the party make a feast." t' Six oysters! echoed Betty, with a grin— I Why, I shall be asham'd, ma'am, I declare, To bring them in"— ,' Nonsense !" cries madam, in a huff,
"You only do your errand, Get the half dozen oysters, and I warrant. That there will be enough,
Aye, and to spare."— Well — behold madam at the playhouse seated. Where she, of course, was treated— Time flies—the curtain drops—and all make . ready To leave the boxeo upper, And the snug party break— When madam asks each gentleman and lady To do her the vast honour to partake
Of a light supper! Our long digression, gents, is at an end— : We left the party seated at the table,
And there we find 'em— . Therefore, not too much useless time to spend, With all the brevity imaginable,
We shall proceed to tell
High bearing the testaceous edible 1
While the two gentlemen/1 . Bending their necks to.an Immoderate
stretch, * ; Glared on the'thinly scatter'd mucillage—
Poor H. expectorated " Oh .'" And O.'s poor inwards grumbled ache,' fe As Kemhle used to 6ay upon the stage.'
"You'll take an oyster, ladies," cries the
dame, t' And, gentlemen, you'll do the same"—
They each take one— "There's bread and butter—pray help one another— 'Twill save all pother. "As to myself, I scarce dare venture take
An oyster with you— Suppers are hurtful things—one's rest they break, And sadly writhe you— But I'll e'en try—though it,3 best let alone— You hold your glass, sir,—pray, do you choose
water? My maid can fetch some porter, .
If you prefer it"— M
u Oil, by no means I" of course was the reply,— Thus, having serv'd the table round,
One oyster still'remained upon the dish— But, though press'd all in turn, not one, was
found So great a solecism would commit^'
To take the solitary fish. "Betty, we've done—you, may the table* clear,'— The dame with spirit Vaunted—" and see, you find that I, was
right— Your head ran so ridiculously!high, To lay in an extravagant redundance;" You see we have had oysters in abundance—'} There's one to spare!,
3&c&tefo una analgste.
REColLECTIONS OP AN EVENTFUL LIFE, , CHIEFLY PASSED IN THE ARMY. BY A SolDIER. SECOND EDIT., pp. 222.—. THE SAME CONTINUED, pp. 221.
"we have been much entertained by the ingenious writings of Tobias Smollett and Daniel de Foe; but we frankly confess .we never experienced a" deeper and more heartfelt interest than in the perusal of, these little unpretending volumes. Moreover, there is about them an abiding fascination, which neither Roderick Random nor our old favourite Robinson Crusoe possess. To the charms of ro-, mancc, the ,' Life of a Soldier ', superadds the claims of genuine history; the work contains indubitable' evidence of authenticity and good faith, 'and is art artless, unadorned narrative of the countless perils and hardships encountered in 2he most trying/and we will add glorious, period of our military annals.
Talk of the Adventures of Anastatius, •)r of the Confessions of an Opium Eater, or even'of the creations of the great enchanter himself—what are all these dreams and imaginings to the real scenes portrayed, by our adventurer, and in which he actually participated. This work, we doubt not, will form a repository for the future poet and novelist, containing an .-abundance, of the rude ore, the naked