Adventures in Criticism

Adventures in Criticism

Excerpt:

sfully. In a single sentence of admirable brevity he tells us that of Chaucer's poetical excellence "it is superfluous to speak; Lowell's essay on Chaucer in 'My Study Windows' gives a just estimate of his powers." And with this, taking the poetical excellence for granted, he proceeds upon his really invaluable work of preparing a standard text of Chaucer and illustrating it out of the stores of his apparently inexhaustible learning. The result is a monument to Chaucer's memory such as never yet was reared to English poet. Douglas Jerrold assured Mrs. Cowden Clarke that, when her time came to enter Heaven, Shakespeare would advance and greet her with the first kiss of welcome, "even should her husband happen to be present." One can hardly with decorum imagine Professor Skeat being kissed; but Chaucer assuredly will greet him with a transcendent smile.

The Professor's genuine admiration, however, for the poetical excellence of his poet needs to be insisted upon, not only because the nature of h