The Lives of the Poets of Great Britain and Ireland (1753) - Volume I.

The Lives of the Poets of Great Britain and Ireland (1753) - Volume I.

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Lives of the Poets of Great Britain and Ireland (1753), by Theophilus CibberThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it,give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online atwww.gutenberg.netTitle: The Lives of the Poets of Great Britain and Ireland (1753) Volume I.Author: Theophilus CibberRelease Date: January 5, 2004 [EBook #10598]Language: English*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK LIVES OF POETS, V1 ***Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Jayam Subramanian and PG Distributed ProofreadersAnglistica & AmericanaA Series of Reprints Selected by Bernhard Fabian, Edgar Mertner, KarlSchneider and Marvin Spevack1968GEORG OLMS VERLAGSBUCHHANDLUNG HILDESHEIMTheophilus CibberThe Lives of the Poets of Great Britain and Ireland (1753)Vol. I1968The present facsimile is reproduced from a copy in the possession of the Library of the University of Gottingen.Shelfmark: H. lit. biogr. I 8464.Although the title-page of Volume I announces four volumes, the work is continued in a fifth volume of the same date. LikeVolumes II, III, and IV, it is by "Mr. CIBBER, and other Hands" and is "Printed for R. GRIFFITHS".M.S.THELIVESOF THEPOETSOFGREAT BRITAIN and IRELAND,To the TIME ofDEAN S W I F T.Compiled from ample Materials scattered in a Variety of Books, and especially from the MS. Notes of the late ...

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Lives of the
Poets of Great Britain and Ireland (1753), by
Theophilus Cibber
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at
no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever.
You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the
terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net
Title: The Lives of the Poets of Great Britain and
Ireland (1753) Volume I.
Author: Theophilus Cibber
Release Date: January 5, 2004 [EBook #10598]
Language: English
*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG
EBOOK LIVES OF POETS, V1 ***
Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Jayam
Subramanian and PG Distributed Proofreaders
Anglistica & AmericanaA Series of Reprints Selected by Bernhard Fabian,
Edgar Mertner, Karl
Schneider and Marvin Spevack
1968
GEORG OLMS VERLAGSBUCHHANDLUNG
HILDESHEIM
Theophilus Cibber
The Lives of the Poets of Great Britain and Ireland
(1753)
Vol. I
1968
The present facsimile is reproduced from a copy in
the possession of the Library of the University of
Gottingen. Shelfmark: H. lit. biogr. I 8464.
Although the title-page of Volume I announces four
volumes, the work is continued in a fifth volume of
the same date. Like Volumes II, III, and IV, it is by
"Mr. CIBBER, and other Hands" and is "Printed for
R. GRIFFITHS".
M.S.THE
LIVES
OF THE
POETS
OF
GREAT BRITAIN and IRELAND,
To the TIME of
DEAN S W I F T.
Compiled from ample Materials scattered in a
Variety of Books, and especially from the MS.
Notes of the late ingenious Mr. COXETER and
others, collected for this Design,
By Mr. CIBBER.
In FOUR VOLUMES.
VOL. I.MDCCLIII.
VOLUME I.
Contains the
LIVES
O F
Chaucer
Langland
Gower
Lydgate
Harding
Skelton
Barclay
More
Surry Earl
Wyat
Sackville
Churchyard
Heywood
Ferrars
Sidney
Marloe
Green
Spenser
Heywood
LillyOverbury
Marsten
Shakespear
Sylvester
Daniel
Harrington
Decker
Beaumont and Fletcher
Lodge
Davies
Goff
Greville L. Brooke
Day
Raleigh
Donne
Drayton
Corbet
Fairfax
Randolph
Chapman
Johnson
Carew
Wotton
Markham
T. Heywood
Cartwright
Sandys
Falkland
Suckling
Hausted
Drummond
Stirling Earl
Hall
CrashawRowley
Nash
Ford
Middleton
THE LIVES OF THE POETS.
* * * *
GEOFFRY CHAUCER.
It has been observed that men of eminence in all
ages, and distinguished for the same excellence,
have generally had something in their lives similar
to each other. The place of Homer's nativity, has
not been more variously conjectured, or his
parents more differently assigned than our
author's. Leland, who lived nearest to Chaucer's
time of all those who have wrote his life, was
commissioned by king Henry VIII, to search all the
libraries, and religious houses in England, when
those archives were preserved, before their
destruction was produced by the reformation, or
Polydore Virgil had consumed such curious pieces
as would have contradicted his framed and
fabulous history. He for some reasons believed
Oxford or Berkshire to have given birth to this
great man, but has not informed us what those
reasons were that induced him to believe so, and
at present there appears no other, but that the
seats of his family were in those countries. Pitts
positively asserts, without producing any authoritypositively asserts, without producing any authority
to support it, that Woodstock was the place; which
opinion Mr. Camden seems to hint at, where he
mentions that town; but it may be suspected that
Pitts had no other ground for the assertion, than
Chaucer's mentioning Woodstock park in his
works, and having a house there. But after all
these different pretensions, he himself, in the
Testament of Love, seems to point out the place of
his nativity to be the city of London, and tho' Mr.
Camden mentions the claim of Woodstock, he
does not give much credit to it; for speaking of
Spencer (who was uncontrovertedly born in
London) he calls him fellow citizen to Chaucer.
The descent of Chaucer is as uncertain, and
unfixed by the critics, as the place of his birth. Mr.
Speight is of opinion that one Richard Chaucer was
his father, and that one Elizabeth Chaucer, a nun
of St. Helen's, in the second year of Richard II.
might have been his sister, or of his kindred. But
this conjecture, says Urry,[1] seems very
improbable; for this Richard was a vintner, living at
the corner of Kirton-lane, and at his death left his
house, tavern, and stock to the church of St. Mary
Aldermary, which in all probability he would not
have done if he had had any sons to possess his
fortune; nor is it very likely he could enjoy the
family estates mentioned by Leland in Oxfordshire,
and at the same time follow such an occupation.
Pitts asserts, that his father was a knight; but tho'
there is no authority to support this assertion, yet it
is reasonable to suppose that he was something
superior to a common employ. We find one John
Chaucer attending upon Edward III. and QueenPhilippa, in their expedition to Flanders and Cologn,
who had the King's protection to go over sea in the
twelfth year of his reign. It is highly probable that
this gentleman was father to our Geoffry, and the
supposition is strengthened by Chaucer's first
application, after leaving the university and inns of
law, being to the Court; nor is it unlikely that the
service of the father should recommend the son.
It is universally agreed, that he was born in the
second year of the reign of King Edward III. A.D.
1328. His first studies were in the university of
Cambridge, and when about eighteen years of age
he wrote his Court of Love, but of what college he
was is uncertain, there being no account of him in
the records of the University. From Cambridge he
was removed to Oxford in order to compleat his
studies, and after a considerable stay there, and a
strict application to the public lectures of the
university, he became (says Leland) "a ready
logician, a smooth rhetorician, a pleasant poet, a
great philosopher, an ingenious mathematician,
and a holy divine. That he was a great master in
astronomy, is plain by his discourses of the
Astrolabe. That he was versed in hermetic
philosophy (which prevailed much at that time),
appears by his Tale of the Chanons Yeoman: His
knowledge in divinity is evident from his Parson's
Tale, and his philosophy from the Testament of
Love." Thus qualified to make a figure in the world,
he left his learned retirement, and travelled into
France, Holland, and other countries, where he
spent some of his younger days. Upon his return
he entered himself in the Inner Temple, where hestudied the municipal laws of the land. But he had
not long prosecuted that dry study, till his superior
abilities were taken notice of by some persons of
distinction, by whole patronage he then
approached the splendor of the court. The reign of
Edward III. was glorious and successful, he was a
discerning as well as a fortunate Monarch; he had
a taste as well for erudition as for arms; he was an
encourager of men of wit and parts, and permitted
them to approach him, without reserve. At
Edward's court nothing but gallantry and a round of
pleasure prevailed, and how well qualified our poet
was to shine in the soft circles, whoever has read
his works, will be at no loss to determine; but
besides the advantages of his wit and learning, he
possessed those of person in a very considerable
degree. He was then about the age of thirty, of a
fair beautiful complexion, his lips red and full, his
size of a just medium, and his air polished and
graceful, so that he united whatever could claim
the approbation of the Great, and charm the eyes
of the Fair. He had abilities to record the valour of
the one, and celebrate the beauty of the other, and
being qualified by his genteel behaviour to entertain
both, he became a finished courtier. The first
dignity to which we find him preferred, was that of
page to the king, a place of so much honour and
esteem at that time, that Richard II. leaves
particular legacies to his pages, when few others of
his servants are taken notice of. In the forty-first
year of Edward III. he received as a reward of his
services, an annuity of twenty marks per ann.
payable out of the Exchequer, which in those days
was no inconsiderable pension; in a year after he