Fables, Ancient And Modern by John Dryden

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"Here Is God's Plenty"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Although he did not believe that Chaucer was as great a writer as the men of later times, Dryden had great respect for the author of The Canterbury Tales. For one thing, Dryden thought Chaucer was not apt in his use of metrics, even though Chaucer's contemporaries thought he was. But Chaucer's characterizations, in Dryden's view, far outweigh the early poet's faults, ". . . all the pilgrims in The Canterbury Tales, their humors, their features, and the very dress, [I see] as distinctly as if I had supped with them at the Tabard in Southwark." Dryden also believed Chaucer to have had a "most wondrous comprehensive Nature" because he was able to see and use the whole gamut of fourteenth century Englishmen and their life. As Dryden comments:

. . . Some of his Persons are Vicious, and some Vertuous; some are unlearn'd, or . . . Lewd, and some are Learn'd. Even the Ribaldry of the Low Characters is different: The Reeve, the Miller, and the Cook, are several Men, and distinguish'd from each other, as much as the mincing Lady Prioress, and the broad-speaking gap-tooth'd Wife of Bathe. But enough of this: There is such a Variety of Game springing up before me, that I am distracted in my Choice. . . . 'Tis sufficient to say according to the Proverb, that here is God's Plenty . . .