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NOTES TO THE CANTERBURY TALES. - Geoffrey Chaucer, Notes to the Canterbury Tales (Works vol. 5) 
The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, edited from numerous manuscripts by the Rev. Walter W. Skeat (2nd ed.) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1899). 7 vols. Vol. 5.
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NOTES TO THE CANTERBURY TALES.
N.B. The spellings between marks of parenthesis indicate the pronunciation, according to the scheme given in the Introduction.
References to other lines in the Canterbury Tales are denoted by the Group and line. Thus ‘B. 134’ means Group B, l. 134, i. e. the first line in the Man of Lawes Tale.
Notes taken from editions by Tyrwhitt, Wright, Bell, and Morris, are usually marked accordingly; sometimes T. denotes Tyrwhitt, and M., Morris.
1.In the Man of Law’s Prologue, B. 1-6, there is definite mention of the 18th day of April. The reference is, in that passage, to the second day of the pilgrimage. Consequently, the allusion in ll. 19–23 below is to April 16, and in l. 822 to April 17. The year may be supposed to be 1387 (vol. iii. p. 373).
‘When that April, with his sweet showers.’ Aprille is here masculine, like Lat. Aprilis; cf. l. 5.
shoures (shuu·rez), showers; pl. of shour, A. S. scūr (skuur). The etymology of all words of this character, which are still in use, can be found by looking out the modern form of the word in my Etymological Dictionary. I need not repeat such information here.
sote, sweet, is another form of swete, which occurs just below in l. 5. The e is not, in this case, the mark of the plural, as the forms sote, swete are dissyllabic, and take a final e in the singular also. Sote is a less correct form of swote; and the variation between the long o in swote and the long e in swete is due to confusion between the adverbial and adjectival uses. Swote corresponds to A. S. swōt, adv., sweetly, and swete to A. S. swēte, adj., sweet. The latter exhibits mutation of ō to ē; cf. mod. E. goose, pl. geese (A. S. gōs, pl. gēs).
In this Introduction, Chaucer seems to have had in his mind the passage which begins Book IV. of Guido delle Colonne’s Historia Troiae, which is as follows:—‘Tempus erat quo sol maturans sub obliquo zodiaci circulo cursum suum sub signo iam intrauerat Arietis . . . celebratur equinoxium primi veris, tunc cum incipit tempus blandiri mortalibus in aeris serenitate intentis, tunc cum dissolutis ymbribus Zephiri flantes molliciter (sic) crispant aquas . . . tunc cum ad summitates arborum et ramorum humiditates ex terre gremio examplantes extollunt in eis; quare insultant semina, crescunt segetes, virent prata, variorum colorum floribus illustrata . . . tunc cum ornatur terra graminibus, cantant volucres, et in dulcis armonie modulamine citharizant. Tunc quasi medium mensis Aprilis effluxerat’; &c.
We may also note the passage in Vincent of Beauvais, Speculum Naturale, lib. xv. c. 66, entitled De Vere:—‘Sol vero ad radices herbarum et arborum penetrans, humorem quem ibi coadunatum hyeme reperit, attrahit; herba vero, vel arbor suam inanitionem sentiens a terra attrahit humorem, quem ibi sui similitudine adiuuante calore Solis transmutat, sicque reuiuiscit; inde est quod quidam mensis huius temporis Aprilis dicitur, quia tunc terra praedicto modo aperitur.’
2.droght-e, dryness; A. S. drūgathe; essentially dissyllabic, but the final e is elided. Pron. (druuht’). perced, pierced. rot-e, dat. of root, a root; Icel. rōt; written for roote. The double o is not required to shew vowel-length, when a single consonant and an e follow.
4.vertu, efficacy, productive agency, vital energy. ‘And bathed every vein (of the tree or herb) in such moisture, by means of which quickening power the flower is generated.’ Pron. (vertü·).
5.Zephirus, the zephyr, or west wind. Cf. Chaucer’s Book of the Duchess, l. 402, and the note. There are two more references to Zephirus in the translation of Boethius, bk. i. met. 5; bk. ii. met. 3.
6.holt, wood, grove; A. S. holt; cf. G. Holz.
7.croppes, shoots, extremities of branches, especially towards the top of a tree; hence simply tree-tops, tops of plants, &c. Hence to crop is ‘to cut the tops off.’ Cf. A. 1532; tr. of Boethius, bk. iii. met. 2. 24; Rom. Rose, 1396; and note to P. Plowman, B. xvi. 69.
yonge sonne (yunggǝ sunnǝ); see the next note. The -e in yong-e denotes the definite form of the article. Sonn-e, A. S. sunna, is essentially dissyllabic.
8.the Ram. The difficulty here really resides in the expression ‘his halfe cours,’ which means what it says, viz. ‘his half-course,’ and not, as Tyrwhitt unfortunately supposed, ‘half his course.’ The results of the two explanations are quite different. Taking Chaucer’s own expression as it stands, he tells us that, a little past the middle of April, ‘the young sun has run his half-course in the Ram.’ Turning to Fig. 1 in The Astrolabe (see vol. iii.), we see that, against the month ‘Aprilis,’ there appears in the circle of zodiacal signs, the latter half (roughly speaking) of Aries, and the former half of Taurus. Thus the sun in April runs a half-course in the Ram and a half-course in the Bull. ‘The former of these was completed,’ says the poet; which is as much as to say, that it was past the eleventh of April; for, in Chaucer’s time, the sun entered Aries on March 12, and left that sign on April 11. See note to l. 1.
The sun had, in fact, only just completed his course through the first of the twelve signs, as the said course was supposed to begin at the vernal equinox. This is why it is called ‘the yonge sonne,’ an expression which Chaucer repeats under similar circumstances in the Squyeres Tale, F. 385. Y-ronne, for A. S. gerunnen, pp. of rinnan, to run (M. E. rinnen, rinne). The M. E. y-, A. S. ge-, is a mere prefix, mostly used with past participles.
9. Pron. (ǝnd smaa·lǝ fuu·lez maa·ken melodii·ǝ); ‘and little birds make melody.’ Cf. fowel (fuul), a bird, in l. 190.
10.open ye, open eye. Cf. the modern expression ‘with one eye open.’ This line is copied in the Sowdone of Babylon, ll. 41–46.
11. ‘So nature excites them, in their feelings (instincts).’ hir, their; A. S. hira, lit. ‘of them,’ gen. pl. of hē, he. corage (kuraa·jǝ); mod. E. courage; see l. 22.
12, 13. According to ordinary English construction, the verb longen must be supplied after palmers. In fact, l. 13 is parenthetical. Note that Than, in l. 12, answers to Whan in l. 1.
13.palmer, originally, one who made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and brought home a palm-branch as a token. Chaucer, says Tyrwhitt, seems to consider all pilgrims to foreign parts as palmers. The essential difference between the two classes of persons here mentioned, the palmer and the pilgrim, was, that the latter had ‘some dwelling-place, a palmer had none; the pilgrim travelled to some certain place, the palmer to all, and not to any one in particular; the pilgrim might go at his own charge, the palmer must profess wilful poverty; the pilgrim might give over his profession, the palmer must be constant’; Blount’s Glossographia (taken from Speght). See note to P. Plowman, B. v. 523.
The fact is, that palmers did not always reach the Holy Land. They commonly went to Rome first, where not unfrequently the Pope ‘allowed them to wear the palm as if they had visited Palestine’; Rock, Church of our Fathers, vol. iii. pt. 1. p. 439.
to seken, to seek; the A. S. gerund, tō sēcanne; expressive of purpose. strondes, strands, shores.
14.ferne halwes, distant saints, i.e. shrines. Here ferne = ferrene = distant, foreign. ‘To ferne poeples’; Chaucer’s Boethius, bk. ii. met. 7. See Mätzner’s M. E. Dict. Ferne also means ‘ancient,’ but not here.
halwes, saints; cf. Scotch Hallow-e’en, the eve of All Hallows, or All Saints; the word is here applied to their shrines.
Chaucer has, ‘to go seken halwes,’ to go (on a pilgrimage) to seek saints’ shrines; D. 657. couthe (kuudh’), well known; A. S. cūð, known, pp. of cunnan, to know. sondry (sun·dri), various.
16.wende, go; pret. wente, Eng. went. The use of the present tense in modern English is usually restricted to the phrase ‘he wends his way.’
17.The holy blisful martir, Thomas à Becket. On pilgrimages, see Saunders, Chaucer, p. 10; and Erasmus, Peregrinatio religionis ergo. There were numerous places in England sought by pilgrims, as Durham, St. Alban’s, Bury, St. David’s, Glastonbury, Lincoln, York, Peterborough, Winchester, Holywell, &c.; but the chief were Canterbury and Walsingham.
18.holpen, pp. of helpen. The older preterites of this verb are heolp, help, halp. seke, sick, rimes to seke, seek; this apparent repetition is only allowed when the repeated word is used in two different senses.
seke, pl. of seek, A. S. sēoc, sick, ill. For hem, see n. to l. 175.
19.Bifel, it befell. seson (saesun), time. on a day, one day.
20.Tabard. Of this word Speght gives the following account in his Glossary to Chaucer:—‘Tabard—a jaquet or sleveless coate, worne in times past by noblemen in the warres, but now only by heraults (heralds), and is called theyre “coate of armes in servise.” It is the signe of an inne in Southwarke by London, within the which was the lodging of the Abbot of Hyde by Winchester. This is the hostelry where Chaucer and the other pilgrims mett together, and, with Henry Baily their hoste, accorded about the manner of their journey to Canterbury. And whereas through time it hath bin much decayed, it is now by Master J. Preston, with the Abbot’s house thereto adgoyned, newly repaired, and with convenient rooms much encreased, for the receipt of many guests.’ The inn is well described in Saunders (on Chaucer), p. 13. See also Stow, Survey of London (ed. Thoms, p. 154); Nares’ Glossary, s. v. Tabard; Dyce’s Skelton, ii. 283; Furnivall’s Temporary Preface to Chaucer, p. 18.
The tabard, however, was not sleeveless, though the sleeves, at first, were very short. See the plate in Boutell’s Heraldry, ed. Aveling, p. 69; cf. note to P. Plowman, C. vii. 203.
lay; used like the modern ‘lodged,’ or ‘was stopping.’
23.come (kum’), short for comen, pp. of comen. hostelrye, a lodging, inn, house, residence. Hostler properly signifies the keeper of an inn, and not, as now, the servant of an inn who looks after the horses.
24.wel is here used like our word full or quite.
25.by aventure y-falle, by adventure (chance) fallen (into company). Pron. (av·entü·r’).
26.felawshipe, company; from M. E. felawe, companion, fellow.
27.wolden ryde, wished to ride. The latter verb is in the infinitive mood, as usual after will, would, shall, may, &c.
29.esed atte beste, accommodated or entertained in the best manner. Easement is still used as a law term, signifying accommodation. Cf.F. bien aise. Pron. (aezed).
atte, i. e. at the, was shortened from atten, masc. and neut., from A. S. æt thām. We also find M. E. atter, fem., from A. S. æt thǣre.
30.to reste, i. e. gone to rest, set.
31.everichon, for ever-ich oon, every one, lit. ever each one.
32.of hir felawshipe, (one) of their company.
33.forward, agreement. ‘Fals was here foreward so forst is in May,’ i. e. their agreement was as false as a frost in May; Ritson’s Ancient Songs, i. 30. A. S. fore-weard, lit. ‘fore ward,’ a precaution, agreement.
34.ther as I yow devyse, to that place that I tell you of (sc. Canterbury); ther in M. E. frequently signifies ‘where,’ and ther as signifies ‘where that.’ devyse, speak of, describe; lit. ‘devise.’
35.natheles, nevertheless; lit. ‘no the less’; cf. A. S. nā, no. whyl, whilst. The form in -es (whiles, the reading of some MSS.) is a comparatively modern adverbial form, and may be compared with M. E. hennes, thennes, hence, thence; ones, twyes, thryes, once, twice, thrice; of which older forms are found in -enne and -e respectively.
37. ‘It seemeth to me it is reasonable.’
Me thinketh=me thinks, where me is the dative before the impersonal vb. thinken, to appear, seem; cp. me liketh, me list, it pleases me. So the phrase if you please=if it please you, you being the dative and not the nominative case. semed me=it seemed to me, occurs in l. 39. The personal verb is properly thenken, as in the Clerkes Tale, E. 116, 641; or thenchen, as in A. 3253.
accordaunt, accordant, suitable, agreeable (to).
40.whiche, what sort of men; Lat. qualis.
41.inne. In M. E., in is the preposition, and inne the adverb.
43.Knight. It was a common thing in this age for knights to seek employment in foreign countries which were at war. Cf. Book of the Duchesse, 1024, and my note. Tyrwhitt cites from Leland’s Itinerary, v. iii. p. cxi., the epitaph of a knight of this period, Matthew de Gourney, who had been at the battle of Benamaryn, at the siege of Algezir, and at the Battles of Crecy, Poitiers, &c. See note to l. 51.
worthy, worthy, is here used in its literal signification of distinguished, honourable. See ll. 47, 50. Pron. (wur·dhi).
For notes on the dresses, &c. of the pilgrims, see Todd’s Illustrations of Chaucer, p. 227; Fairholt’s Costume in England, 1885, i. 129; and Saunders, on the Canterbury Tales, where some of the MS. drawings are reproduced. Also Warton, Hist. Eng. Poetry, sect. 17.
45.chivalrye (chiv·alrii·ǝ), knighthood; also the manners, exercises, and exploits of a knight.
47.in his lordes werre, i.e. in the king’s service. ‘The knight, by his tenure, was obliged to serve the king on horseback in his wars, and maintain a soldier at his own proper charge,’ &c.; Strutt, Manners and Customs, iii. 15. werre, war.
48.therto, moreover, besides that; see l. 153 below. ferre, the comp. of fer, far. Cf. M. E. derre, dearer (A. 1448); sarre, sorer, &c.
49.hethenesse, heathen lands, as distinguished from Cristendom, Christian countries. The same distinction occurs in English Gilds, ed. Toulmin Smith, p. 36, l. 1.
50. Pron. (ǝnd ae·vr onuu·red for iz wur·dhines·sǝ).
51.Alisaundre, in Egypt, ‘was won, and immediately after abandoned in 1365, by Pierre de Lusignan, King of Cyprus’; Tyrwhitt. Froissart (Chron. bk. iii. c. 22) gives the epitaph of Pierre de Lusignan, king of Cyprus, who ‘conquered in battle . . the cities of Alexandria in Egypt, Tripoli in Syria, Layas in Armenia, Satalia in Turkey, with several other cities and towns, from the enemies of the faith of Jesus Christ’; tr. by Johnes, vol. ii. p. 138. ‘To this I may add, from “Les Tombeaux des Chevaliers du noble Ordre de la Toison d’Or,” the exploits recorded on a monument also of a French knight, who lived in Chaucer’s age, and died in 1449, Jean, Seigneur de Roubais, &c. “qui en son temps visita les Saints lieux de Ierusalem, . . . S. Iacques en Galice, . . . et passa les perils mortels de plusieurs batailles arrestées contre les Infidels, c’est a sçavoir en Hongrie et Barbarie, . . . en Prusse contre les Letaux, . . . avec plusieurs autres faicts exercice d’armes tant par mer que par terre,” ’ &c.—Todd, Illust. of Ch., p. 227. wonne (wunnǝ), won.
52.he hadde the bord bigonne. Here bord = board, table, so that the phrase signifies ‘he had been placed at the head of the dais, or table of state.’ Warton, in his Hist. of Eng. Poetry, ed. 1840, ii. 209 (ed. 1871, ii. 373), aptly cites a passage from Gower which is quite explicit as to the sense of the phrase. See Gower, Conf. Amantis, bk. viii. ed. Pauli, iii. 299. We there read that a knight was honoured by a king, by being set at the head of the middle table in the hall.
The context shews that this was at supper-time, and that the knight was placed in this honourable position by the marshal of the hall.
Further illustrations are also given by Warton, ed. 1840, i. 174, footnote, shewing that the phrases began the dese (daīs) and began the table were also in use, with the same sense. I can add another clear instance from Sir Beves of Hamptoun, ed. Kölbing, E. E. T. S., p. 104, where we find in one text (l. 2122)—
where another text has (l. 1957) the reading—
See also the New Eng. Dictionary, s. v. Board; Hartshorne’s Metrical Tales, pp. 72, 73, 215, 219; Early Popular Poetry, ed. Hazlitt, i. 104; Todd’s Illustrations, p. 322. Even in Stow’s Survey of London, ed. Thomas, p. 144, col. 2, we read how—‘On the north side of the hall certain aldermen began the board, and then followed merchants of the city.’
Another explanation is sometimes given, but it is wholly wrong.
53, 54.Pruce. When our English knights wanted employment, ‘it was usual for them to go and serve in Pruce, or Prussia, with the knights of the Teutonic order, who were in a state of constant warfare with their heathen neighbours in Lettow (Lithuania), Ruce (Russia), and elsewhere.’—Tyrwhitt. Cf. Gower, Conf. Amant. ii. 56.
The larger part of Lithuania now belongs to Russia, and the remainder to Prussia; but in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the natives long maintained their independence against the Russians and Poles (Haydn, Dict. of Dates).
reysed, made a military expedition. The O. F. reise, sb., a military expedition, was in common use on the continent at that time. Numerous examples of its use are given in Godefroy’s O. F. Dict. It was borrowed from O. H. G. reisa (G. Reise), an expedition. Pron. (reized).
Warton, Hist. Eng. Poetry, ed. 1840, ii. 210, remarks—‘Thomas duke of Gloucester, youngest son of Edw. III, and Henry earl of Derby, afterwards Henry IV, travelled into Prussia; and, in conjunction with the grand Masters and Knights of Prussia and Livonia, fought the infidels of Lithuania. Lord Derby was greatly instrumental in taking Vilna, the capital of that country, in the year 1390. Here is a seeming compliment to some of these expeditions.’ Cf. Walsingham, Hist., ed. Riley, ii. 197. Hackluyt, in his Voyages, ed. 1598, i. 122, cites and translates the passage from Walsingham referred to above. However, the present passage was written before 1390; see n. to l. 277.
In an explanation of the drawings in MS. Jul. E. 4, relating to the life of Rd. Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick (born 1381, died 1439), I find—‘Here shewes how erle Richard from Venise took his wey to Russy, Lettow, and Velyn, and Cypruse, Westvale, and other coostes of Almayn toward Englond.’—Strutt, Manners and Customs.
56–8.Gernade, Granda. ‘The city of Algezir was taken from the Moorish King of Granada in 1344.’—T. The earls of Derby and Salisbury assisted at the siege; Weber, Met. Rom. iii. 306. It is the modern Algeciras on the S. coast of Spain, near Cape Trafalgar.
Belmarye and Tramissene (Tremezen), l. 62, were Moorish kingdoms in Africa, as appears from a passage in Froissart (bk. iv. c. 24) cited by Tyrwhitt. Johnes’ translation has—‘Tunis, Bugia, Morocco, Benmarin, Tremeçen.’ Cf. Kn. Tale, l. 1772 (A. 2630). Benmarin is called Balmeryne in Barbour’s Bruce, xx. 393, and Belmore in the Sowdone of Babylon, 3122. The Gulf of Tremezen is on the coast of Algiers, to the west.
Lyeys, in Armenia, was taken from the Turks by Pierre de Lusignan about 1367. It is the Layas mentioned by Froissart (see note to l. 51) and the modern Ayas; see the description of it in Marco Polo, ed. Yule, i. 15. Cf. ‘Laiazzo’s gulf,’ Hoole’s tr. of Ariosto’s Orlando; bk. xix. l. 389.
Satalye (Attalia, now Adalia, on the S. coast of Asia Minor) was taken by the same prince soon after 1352.—T. See Acts xiv. 25.
Palatye (Palathia, see l. 65), in Anatolia, was one of the lordships held by Christian knights after the Turkish conquest.—T. Cf. Froissart, bk. iii. c. 23.
59.the Grete See. The Great Sea denotes the Mediterranean, as distinguished from the two so-called inland seas, the Sea of Tiberias and the Dead Sea. So in Numb. xxxiv. 6, 7; Josh. i. 4; also in Mandevile’s Travels, c. 7.
60.aryve, arrival or disembarkation of troops, as in the Harleian and Cambridge MSS. Many MSS. have armee, army, which gives no good sense, and probably arose from misreading the spelling ariue as arme. Perhaps the following use of rive for ‘shore’ may serve to illustrate this passage:—
be = ben, been. Cf. ydo = ydon, done, &c.
62.foghten (fǫuhten), pp. fought; from the strong verb fighten.
63. ‘He had fought thrice in the lists in defence of our faith’; i. e. when challenged by an infidel to do so. Such combats were not uncommon. slayn, slain. hadde must be supplied from l. 61.
64.ilke, same; A. S. ylca.
65.Somtyme, once on a time; not our ‘sometimes.’ See l. 85.
66.another hethen, a heathen army different from that which he had encountered at Tremezen.
67.sovereyn prys (suv·rein priis), exceeding great renown.
69. ‘As courteys as any mayde’; Arthur, ed. Furnivall (E. E. T. S.), l. 41. Cf. B. 1636.
70.vileinye, any utterance unbecoming a gentleman. Cf. Trench, English Past and Present, ch. 7, on the word villain.
71.no maner wight, no kind of person whatever. In M. E. the word maner is used without of, in phrases of this character.
72.verray, very, true. parfit, perfect; F. parfait. gentil, gentle; see D. 1109–1176.
74. ‘His horses were good, but he himself was not gaudily dressed.’ Hors is plural as well as singular. In fact, the knight had three horses; one for himself, one for his son, and one for the yeoman. Perhaps we should read—‘but hé ne was not gay,’ supplying ne from Hl. and Hn. This makes he emphatic; and we may then treat the e in god-e as a light extra syllable, at the caesural pause; for doing which there is ample authority.
75.fustian; see Babees Book, ed. Furnivall, p. 224. gipoun (jipuu·n), a diminutive of gipe, a tight-fitting vest, a doublet; also called a gipell, as in Libeaus Disconus, 224. See Fairholt, s. v. fustian, and s. v. gipon. The O. F. gipe (whence F. jupe) meant a kind of frock or jacket. wered is the A. S. werede, pt. t. of the weak verb werian, to wear. It is now strong; pt. t. wore. See l. 564.
76. This verse is defective in the first foot, which consists solely of the word Al. Such verses are by no means uncommon in the Cant. Tales and in the Leg. of Good Women. Pron. (al· bismut·erd widh·iz ha·berjuu·n). ‘His doublet of fustian was all soiled with marks made by the habergeon which he had so lately worn over it.’ Bismotered has the same sense as mod. E. besmutted.
habergeoun, though etymologically a diminutive of hauberk, is often used as synonymous with it. ‘It was a defence of an inferior description to the hauberk; but when the introduction of plate-armour, in the reign of Edward III, had supplied more convenient and effectual defences for the legs and thighs, the long skirt of the hauberk became superfluous; from that period the habergeon alone appears to have been worn.’—Way, note to Promptorium Parvulorum, p. 220.
See the Glossary to Fairholt’s Costume in England, s. v. Habergeon; and, for the explanation of gipoun, see the same, under gipon and gambeson. For a picture of a gipoun, see Boutell’s Heraldry, ed. Aveling, p. 67.
77, 78. ‘For he had just returned from his journey, and went to perform his pilgrimage’ (which he had vowed for a safe return) in his knightly array, only without his habergeon.
79.squyer=esquire, one who attended on a knight, and bore his lance and shield. See Strutt, Sports and Pastimes, Introd. § 8. ‘Esquires held land by the service of the shield, and were bound by their fee to attend the king, or their lords, in the war, or pay escuage.’—Strutt, Manners and Customs, iii. 15. And see Ritson, Met. Romances, iii. 345.
As to the education and accomplishments of a squire, see note to Sir Topas, B. 1927.
80.lovyere, lover. The y in this word is not euphonic as in some modern words; lovyere (luv·yer) is formed from the verb lovi-en, A. S. lufian, to love.
bacheler, a young aspirant to knighthood. There were bachelors in arms as well as in arts. Cf. The Sowdone of Babylone, 1211.
81.lokkes, locks (of hair). crulle (krull’), curly, curled; cf. Mid. Du. krul, a curl. In mod. E., the r has shifted its place. In King Alisaunder, ed. Weber, 4164, we find—‘And his lokkes buth noght so crolle.’ as they, &c., as if they had been laid in an instrument for curling them by pressure. Curling-tongs seem to be meant; or. possibly, curling-papers. For presse, cf. l. 263.
82.yeer. In the older stages of the language, year, goat, swine, &c., being neuter nouns, underwent no change in the nom. case of the plural number. We have already had hors, pl., in l. 74.
I gesse, I should think. In M. E., gesse signifies to judge, believe, suppose, imagine. See Kn. Tale, l. 192 (A. 1050).
83.of evene lengthe, of ordinary or moderate height.
84.deliver, active. Cotgrave gives: ‘delivre de sa personne, an active, nimble wight.’
85.chivachye. Fr. chevauchée. ‘It most properly means an expedition with a small party of cavalry; but is often used generally for any military expedition.’—T. We should call it a ‘raid.’ Cf. H. 50.
87.born him wel, conducted himself well (behaved bravely), considering the short time he had served.
88.lady grace, lady’s grace. Here lady represents A. S. hlæfdigan, gen. case of hlæfdige, lady; there is therefore no final s. See l. 695, and G. 1348. Cf. the modern phrase ‘Lady-day,’ as compared with ‘Lord’s day.’
89. ‘That was with floures swote enbrouded al’; Prol. to Legend of Good Women, l. 119; and cf. Rom. Rose, 896–8. Embrouded (embruu·ded or embrǫu·ded), embroidered; from O. F. brouder, variant of broder, to embroider; confused with A. S. brogden, pp. of bregdan, to braid. mede, mead, meadow.
91.floytinge, playing the flute. Cf. floute (ed. 1532, floyte), a flute; Ho, of Fame, 1223. Hexham gives Du. ‘Fluyte, a Flute.’
96. ‘Joust (in a tournament) and dance, and draw well and write.’
97.hote, adv. hotly; from hoot, adj. hot. nightertale, night-time, time (or reckoning) of night. So also wit nighter-tale, lit. with night-time, Cursor Mundi, l. 2783; on nightertale, id. 2991; be [by] nychtyrtale, Barbour’s Bruce, xix. 495. The word is used by Holinshed in his account of Joan of Arc (under the date 1429), but altered in the later edition to ‘the dead of the night’; it also occurs in Palladius on Husbandry, ed. Lodge, bk. i. l. 910; and in The Court of Love, l. 1355. Cf. Icel. náttar-tal, a tale, or number, of nights; and the phrase á náttar-þeli, at dead of night.
98.sleep, also written slep, slepte. Cf. weep, wepte; leep, lepte, &c.; such verbs, once strong, became weak. See l. 148; and Kn. Ta. 1829 (A. 2687).
100.carf, the past tense of kerven, to carve (pp. corven). The allusion is to what was then a common custom; cf. E. 1773; Barbour’s Bruce, i. 356. biforn, before; A. S. biforan.
101.Yeman, yeoman. ‘As a title of service, it denoted a servant of the next degree above a garson or groom . . . . The title of yeoman was given in a secondary sense to people of middling rank not in service. The appropriation of the word to signify a small landholder is more modern.’—Tyrwhitt. In ed. 1532, this paragraph is headed—‘The Squyers yoman,’ so that he (in this line) means the Squire, as we should naturally suppose from the context. Tyrwhitt, indeed, objects that ‘Chaucer would never have given the son an attendant, when the father had none’; but he overlooks the fact that both the squire and the squire’s man were necessarily servants to the knight, who, in this way, really had two servants; just as, in the note to l. 74, I have shewn that he had three horses. Warton, Strutt, and Todd all take this view of the matter, as might be expected. For further information as to the status of a yeoman, see Blackstone; Spelman’s Glossary, s. v. Socman; Strutt, Manners and Customs, iii. 16; the Glossary to the Babees Book, ed. Furnivall; Waterhous, Comment. on Fortescue’s De Laudibus Legum Angliæ, ed. 1663, p. 391; &c.
na-mo, no more (in number). In M. E., mo relates to number, but more to size; usually, but not always; see l. 808.
102.him liste, it pleased him. liste is the past tense; list, it pleaseth, is the present. See note on l. 37.
103. Archers were usually clad in ‘Lincoln green’; cf. D. 1382.
104.a sheef of pecok-arwes, a sheaf of arrows with peacocks’ feathers. Ascham, in his Toxophilus, ed. Arber, p. 129, does not say much in favour of ‘pecock fethers’; for ‘there is no fether but onely of a goose that hath all commodities in it. And trewelye at a short but, which some man doth vse, the pecock fether doth seldome kepe vp the shaft eyther ryght or level, it is so roughe and heuy, so that many men which haue taken them vp for gaynesse, hathe layde them downe agayne for profyte; thus for our purpose, the goose is best fether for the best shoter.’ In the Geste of Robyn Hode, pr. by W. Copland, we read—
‘In the Liber Compotis Garderobæ, sub an. 4 Edw. II., p. 53, is this entry—Pro duodecim flechiis cum pennis de pauone emptis pro rege de 12 den., that is, For twelve arrows plumed with peacock’s feathers, bought for the king, 12 d. . . . MS. Cotton, Nero c. viii.’—Strutt, Sports and Pastimes, bk. ii. ch. i. § 12. In the Testamenta Eboracensia, i, 419, 420 (anno 1429), I find—‘Item lego . . . j. shaffe of pakokfedird arrows: also I wyte them a dagger harnest with sylver.’ The latter phrase illustrates l. 114 below. See further in Warton’s note on this passage; Hist. E. Poet. 1840, ii. 211.
106.takel, lit. ‘implement’ or ‘implements’; here the set of arrows. For takel in the sense of ‘arrow,’ see Rom. Rose, 1729, 1863. ‘He knew well how to arrange his shooting-gear in a yeomanlike manner.’ Strutt, Sports and Pastimes, bk. ii. c. 1. § 16, quotes a ballad in which Robin Hood proposes that each man who misses the mark shall lose ‘his takell’; and one of the losers says—‘Syr abbot, I deliver thee myne arrowe.’ Fairholt (s. v. Tackle) quotes from A Lytell Geste of Robyn Hood—
In the Cursor Mundi, l. 3600, Isaac sends Esau to hunt, saying:—‘Ga lok thi tacle be puruaid.’ Cotgrave gives—‘Tacle, m. any (headed) shaft, or boult whose feathers be not waxed, but glued on.’ Roquefort says the same.
107. The sense is—‘His arrows did not present a draggled appearance owing to the feathers being crushed’; i.e. the feathers stood out erect and regularly, as necessary to secure for them a good flight.
109.not-heed, a head closely cut or cropped. Cf. ‘To Notte his haire, comas recidere’; Baret’s Alvearie, 1580. Shakespeare has not-pated, i.e. crop-headed, 1 Henry IV, ii. 4. 78. Cooper’s Thesaurus, 1565, has:—‘Tondere, to cause his heare to be notted or polled of a barbour’; also, ‘to notte his heare shorte’; also, ‘Tonsus homo, a man rounded, polled, or notted. Cotgrave explains the F. tonsure as ‘a sheering, clipping, powling, notting, cutting, or paring round.’ Florio, ed. 1598, explains Ital. zucconare as ‘to poule, to nott, to shave, or cut off one’s haire,’ and zuccone as ‘a shauen pate, a notted poule.’ And more illustrations might be adduced, as e.g. the explanation of Nott-pated in Nares’ Glossary. In later days the name of Roundhead came into use for a like reason. Cf. ‘your nott-headed country gentleman’; Chapman, The Widow’s Tears, Act i. sc. 4.
110. ‘He understood well all the usage of woodcraft.’
111.bracer, a guard for the arm used by archers to prevent the friction of the bow-string on the coat. It was made like a glove with a long leathern top, covering the fore-arm (Fairholt). See it described in Ascham’s Toxophilus, ed. Arber, pp. 107, 108. Cf. E. brace.
112. For a description of ‘sword and buckler play,’ see Strutt’s Sports and Pastimes, bk. iii. c. 6. § 22; Brand, Pop. Antiquities, ed. Ellis, ii. 400.
114.Harneised, equipped. ‘A certain girdle, harnessed with silver’ is spoken of in Riley’s Memorials of London, p. 399, with reference to the year 1376; cf. Riley’s tr. of Liber Albus, p. 521. ‘De j daggar harnisiat’ xd.’; (1439) York Wills, iii. 96. ‘De vj paribus cultellorum harnesiat’ cum auricalco. xvjd.’; ibid. ‘A dagger harnest with sylver’; id. i. 419. And see note to l. 104.
115.Christofre. ‘A figure of St. Christopher, used as a brooch. . . . The figure of St. Christopher was looked upon with particular reverence among the middle and lower classes; and was supposed to possess the power of shielding the person who looked on it from hidden dangers’; note in Wright’s Chaucer. This belief is clearly shewn by a passage in Wright’s History of Caricature. It is of so early an origin that we already meet with it in Anglo-Saxon in Cockayne’s Shrine, p. 77, where we are told that St. Christopher ‘prayed God that every one who has any relic of him should never be condemned in his sins, and that God’s anger should never come upon him’; and that his prayer was granted. There is a well-known early woodcut exhibiting one of the earliest specimens of block-printing, engraved at p. 123 of Chambers’ Book of Days, vol. ii, and frequently elsewhere. The inscription beneath the figure of the saint runs as follows:—
Hence the Yeoman wore his brooch for good luck. St. Christopher’s day is July 25. For his legend, see Mrs. Jameson’s Sacred and Legendary Art, ii. 48; &c. shene; see n. to l. 160.
116. Riley, in his Memorials of London, p. 115, explains baldric as ‘a belt passing mostly round one side of the neck, and under the opposite arm.’ In 1314, a baldric cost 12d. (same reference). See Spenser, F. Q. i. 7. 29.
117.forster, forester. Hence the names Forester, Forster, and Foster.
118. ‘A nunne, y wene a pryores’; Rob. of Brunne, Hand. Synne, 7809.
120. In this line, as in ll. 509 and 697, the word se-ynt seems to be dissyllabic. Six MSS. agree here; and the seventh (Harleian) has nas for was, which keeps the same rhythm. Edd. 1532, 1550, and 1561 have the same words, omitting but.
seynt Loy. Loy is from Eloy, i.e. St. Eligius, whose day is Dec. 1; see the long account of him in Butler’s Lives of the Saints. He was a goldsmith, and master of the mint to Clotaire II., Dagobert I., and Clovis II. of France; and was also bishop of Noyon. He became the patron saint of goldsmiths, farriers, smiths, and carters. The Lat. Eligius necessarily became Eloy in O. French, and is Eloy or Loy in English, the latter form being the commoner. The Catholicon Anglicum ( 1483) gives: ‘Loye, elegius (sic), nomen proprium.’ Sir T. More, Works, ed. 1577, p. 194, says: ‘St. Loy we make an horseleche.’ Barnaby Googe, as cited in Brand, Pop. Antiq. i. 364 (ed. Ellis), says:—
There is a district called St. Loye’s in Bedford; a Saint Loyes chapel near Exeter; &c. Churchyard mentions ‘sweete Saynct Loy’; Siege of Leith, st. 50. In Lyndesay’s Monarchè, bk. ii. lines 2299 and 2367, he is called ‘sanct Eloy.’ In D. 1564, the carter prays to God and Saint Loy, joining the names according to a common formula; but the Prioress dropped the divine name. Perhaps she invoked St. Loy as being the patron saint of goldsmiths; for she seems to have been a little given to a love of gold and corals; see ll. 158–162. Warton’s notion, that Loy was a form of Louis, only shews how utterly unknown, in his time, were the phonetic laws of Old French.
Many more illustrations might be added; such as—‘By St. Loy, that draws deep’; Nash’s Lenten Stuff, ed. Hindley, p. xiv. ‘God save her and Saint Loye’; Jack Juggler, ed. Roxburgh Club, p. 9; and see Eligius in the Index to the Parker Society’s publications.
We already find, in Guillaume de Machault’s Confort d’Ami, near the end, the expression:—‘Car je te jur, par saint Eloy’; Works, ed. 1849, p. 120.
The life of St. Eligius, as given in Alban Butler’s Lives of the Saints, contains a curious passage, which seems worth citing:—‘St. Owen relates many miracles which followed his death, and informs us that the holy abbess, St. Aurea, who was swept off by a pestilence, . . was advertised of her last hour some time before it, by a comfortable vision of St. Eligius.’ See also Mrs. Jameson’s Sacred and Legendary Art, 3rd ed., p. 728.
There is, perhaps, a special propriety in selecting St. Loy for mention in the present instance. In an interesting letter in The Athenæum for Jan. 10, 1891, p. 54, Prof. Hales drew attention to the story about St. Eligius cited in Maitland’s Dark Ages, pp. 83–4, ed. 1853. When Dagobert asked Eligius to swear upon the relics of the saints, the bishop refused. On being further pressed to do so, he burst into tears; whereupon Dagobert exclaimed that he would believe him without an oath. Hence, to swear by St. Loy was to swear by one who refused to swear; and the oath became (at second-hand) no oath at all. See Hales, Folia Literaria, p. 102. At any rate, it was a very mild one for those times. Cf. Amis and Amiloun, 877:—‘Than answered that maiden bright, And swore “by Jesu, ful of might.” ’
121.cleped, called, named; A. S. cleopian, clypian, to call. Cf. Sir David Lyndesay’s Monarchè, bk. iii. l. 4663:—
122. ‘She sang the divine service.’ Here sér-vic-è is trisyllabic, with a secondary accent on the last syllable.
123.Entuned, intoned. nose is the reading of the best MSS. The old black-letter editions read voice (wrongly).
semely, in a seemly manner, is in some MSS. written semily. The e is here to be distinctly sounded; hertily is sometimes written for hertely. See ll. 136, 151.
124.faire, adv. fairly, well. fetisly, excellently; see l. 157.
125.scole, school; here used for style or pronunciation.
126.Frensh. Mr. Cutts (Scenes and Characters of the Middle Ages, p. 58) says very justly:—‘She spoke French correctly, though with an accent which savoured of the Benedictine convent at Stratford-le-Bow, where she had been educated, rather than of Paris.’ There is nothing to shew that Chaucer here speaks slightingly of the French spoken by the Prioress, though this view is commonly adopted by newspaper-writers who know only this one line of Chaucer, and cannot forbear to use it in jest. Even Tyrwhitt and Wright have thoughtlessly given currency to this idea; and it is worth remarking that Tyrwhitt’s conclusion as to Chaucer thinking but meanly of Anglo-French, was derived (as he tells us) from a remark in the Prologue to the Testament of Love, which Chaucer did not write! But Chaucer merely states a fact, viz. that the Prioress spoke the usual Anglo-French of the English court, of the English law-courts, and of the English ecclesiastics of the higher rank. The poet, however, had been himself in France, and knew precisely the difference between the two dialects; but he had no special reason for thinking more highly of the Parisian than of the Anglo-French. He merely states that the French which she spoke so ‘fetisly’ was, naturally, such as was spoken in England. She had never travelled, and was therefore quite satisfied with the French which she had learnt at home. The language of the King of England was quite as good, in the esteem of Chaucer’s hearers, as that of the King of France; in fact, king Edward called himself king of France as well as of England, and king John was, at one time, merely his prisoner. Warton’s note on the line is quite sane. He shews that queen Philippa wrote business letters in French (doubtless Anglo-French) with ‘great propriety.’ What Mr. Wright means by saying that ‘it was similar to that used at a later period in the courts of law’ is somewhat puzzling. It was, of course, not similar to, but the very same language as was used at the very same period in the courts of law. In fact, he and Tyrwhitt have unconsciously given us the view entertained, not by Chaucer, but by unthinking readers of the present age; a view which is not expressed, and was probably not intended. At the modern Stratford we may find Parisian French inefficiently taught; but at the ancient Stratford, the very important Anglo-French was taught efficiently enough. There is no parallel between the cases, nor any such jest as the modern journalist is never weary of, being encouraged by critics who ought to be more careful. The ‘French of Norfolk’ as spoken of in P. Plowman (B. v. 239) was no French at all, but English; and the alleged parallel is misleading, as the reader who cares to refer to that passage will easily see.
‘Stratford-at-Bow, a Benedictine nunnery, was famous even then for its antiquity.’—Todd, Illustrations of Chaucer, p. 233. It is said by Tanner to have been founded by William, bp. of London, before 1087; but Dugdale says it was founded by one Christiana de Sumery, and that her foundation was confirmed by King Stephen. It was dedicated to St. Leonard.
unknowe, short for unknowen, unknown.
127.At mete. Tyrwhitt has acutely pointed out how Chaucer, throughout this passage, merely reproduces a passage in his favourite book, viz. Le Roman de la Rose, ed. Méon, l. 13612, &c., which may be thus translated:—‘and takes good care not to wet her fingers up to the joints in broth, nor to have her lips anointed with soups, or garlic, or fat flesh, nor to heap up too many or too large morsels and put them in her mouth. She touches with the tips of her fingers the morsel which she has to moisten with the sauce (be it green, or brown, or yellow), and lifts her mouthful warily, so that no drop of the soup, or relish or pepper may fall on her breast. And so daintily she contrives to drink, as not to sprinkle a drop upon herself . . . she ought to wipe her lip so well, as not to permit any grease to stay there, at least upon her upper lip.’ Such were the manners of the age. Cf. also Ovid, Ars Amatoria, iii. 755, 756.
129.wette, wet; pt. t. of wetten. depe, deeply, adv.
131. Scan—‘Thát | no dróp | e ne fill | e,’ &c. The e in drópe is very slight; and the caesura follows. Fille is the pt. t. subjunctive, as distinct from fil, the pt. t. indicative. It means ‘should fall.’
132.ful, very. lest = list, pleasure, delight; A. S. lyst.
133.over, upper, adj. ‘The over lippe and the nethere’; Wright’s Vocab. 1857, p. 146. clene (klae·nǝ), cleanly, adv.
134.ferthing signifies literally a fourth part, and hence a small portion, or a spot. In Caxton’s Book of Curtesye, st. 27, such a spot of grease is called a ‘fatte ferthyng.’
sen-e, visible, is an adjective, A. S. gesēne, and takes a final -e. This distinguishes it from the pp. seen, which is monosyllabic, and cannot rime with clen-e. The fuller form y-sen-e occurs in l. 592, where it rimes with len-e.
136. ‘Full seemlily she reached towards her meat (i. e. what she had to eat), and certainly she was of great merriment (or geniality).’
Mete is often used of eatables in general. raughte (rauhtǝ), pt. t. of rechen, to reach.
137.sikerly, certainly. siker is an early adaptation of Lat. securus, secure, sure. disport; mod. E. sport.
139–41. ‘And took pains (endeavoured) to imitate courtly behaviour, and to be stately in her deportment, and to be esteemed worthy of reverence.’
144.sawe, should see, happened to see (subjunctive).
146.Of, i. e. some. houndes (huundez), dogs. ‘Smale whelpes leeve to ladyse and clerkys’; Political, Relig. and Love Poems, ed. Furnivall, p. 32; Bernardus de Cura Rei Familiaris, ed. Lumby, p. 13.
147.wastel-breed. Horses and dogs were not usually fed on wastel-breed or cake-bread (bread made of the best flour), but on coarse lentil bread baked for that purpose. See Our English Home, pp. 79, 80. The O. F. wastel subsequently became gastel, gasteau, mod. F. gâteau, cake. Cf. P. Plowman, B. vi. 217, and the note; Riley, Memorials of London, p. 108.
148. The syllable she is here very light; she if oon constitutes the third foot in the line. After she comes the caesural pause. weep, wept; A. S. wēop.
149.men smoot, one smote. If men were the ordinary plural of man, smoot ought to be smiten (pl. past); but men is here used like the Ger. man, French on, with the singular verb. It is, in fact, merely the unaccented form of man. yerde, stick, rod; mod. E. yard. smerte, sharply; adv.
151.wimpel. The wimple or gorger is stated first to have appeared in Edward the First’s reign. It was a covering for the neck, and was used by nuns and elderly ladies. See Fairholt’s Costume, 1885, ii. 413; Ancren Riwle, ed. Morton, p. 420.
pinched, gathered in small pleats, closely pleated.
152.tretys, long and well-shaped. From O. F. traitis, Low Lat. tractitius, i. e. drawn out; from L. trahere. Chaucer found the O. F. traitis in the Romaunt of the Rose, and translated it by tretys; see l. 1216 of the E. version. Cf. fetis from factitius; l. 157. eyen greye. This seems to have been the favourite colour of ladies’ eyes in Chaucer’s time, and even later. Cf. A. 3974; Rom. Rose, 546, 862; &c. ‘Her eyen gray and stepe’; Skelton’s Philip Sparowe, 1014 (see Dyce’s note).
156.hardily is here used for sikerly, certainly; so also in E. 25. undergrowe, undergrown; i. e. of short, stinted growth.
157.fetis literally signifies ‘made artistically,’ and hence wellmade, feat, neat, handsome; cf. n. to l. 152. M. E. fetis answers to O. F. faitis, feitis, fetis, neatly made, elegant; from Lat. factitius, artificial.
war, aware; ‘I was war’=I percelved.
159.bedes. The word bede signifies, (1) a prayer; (2) a string of grains upon which the prayers were counted, or the grains themselves. The beads were made of coral, jet, cornelian, pearls, or gold. A pair here means ‘a set.’ ‘A peire of bedis eke she bere’; Rom. Rose, 7372.
‘Sumtyme with a portas, sumtyme with a payre of bedes.’
Bale’s King John, p. 27; Camden Soc.
gauded al with grene, ‘having the gawdies green. Some were of silver gilt.’—T. The gawdies or gaudees were the larger beads in the set. ‘One payre of beads of silver with riche gaudeys’; Monast. Anglicanum, viii. 1206; qu. by Rock, Church of our Fathers, iii. i. 403. ‘Unum par de Iett [jet] gaudyett with sylver’; Nottingham Records, iii. 188. ‘A peyre bedys of jeete [get], gaudied with corall’; Bury Wills, p. 82, l. 16: the note says that every eleventh bead, or gaudee, stood for a Paternoster: the smaller beads, each for an Ave Maria. The common number was 55, for 50 Aves and 5 Paternosters. The full number was 165, for 150 Aves and 15 Paternosters, also called a Rosary or Our Lady’s Psalter; see the poem on Our Lady’s Psalter in Horstmann, Altenglische Legenden, Neue Folge, 1881, pp. 220–4. ‘Gaudye of beedes, signeau de paternoster.’—Palsgrave. Gower (Conf. Amant., ed. Pauli, iii. 372) mentions ‘A paire of bedes blacke as sable,’ with ‘gaudees.’ See Gaudia and Precula in Ducange. Gaudee originally meant a prayer beginning with Gaudete, whence the name; see Gaudez in Cotgrave.
160.broche=brooch, signified, (1) a pin; (2) a breast-pin; (3) a buckle or clasp; (4) a jewel or ornament. It was an ornament common to both sexes. The brooch seems to have been made in the shape of a capital A, surmounted by a crown. See the figure of a silver-gilt brooch in the shape of an A in the Glossary to Fairholt’s, Costume in England. The ‘crowned A’ is supposed to represent Amor or Charity, the greatest of all the Christian graces. ‘Omnia uincit amor’; Vergil, Eclog. x. 69. Cf. the use of AMOR as a motto in the Squyer of Lowe Degree, l. 215.
heng, also spelt heeng, hung, is the pt. t. of M. E. hangen, to hang. Cf. A. S. hēng, pt. t. of hōn, to hang.
shene (shee·nǝ), showy, bright. Really allied, not to shine, but to shew. Cf. mod. E. sheen, and G. schön.
161.write is short for writen (writ·en), pp. of wryten (wrii·ten), to write.
The Nonne and Three Preestes.
163.Another Nonne. It was not common for Prioresses to have female chaplains; but Littré gives chapelaine, fem., as an old title of dignity in a nunnery. Moreover, it is an office still held in most Benedictine convents, as is fully explained in a letter written by a modern Nun-Chaplain, and printed in Anglia, iv. 238. See also N. and Q. 7 S. vi. 485; The Academy, Aug. 23, 1890, p. 152.
164. The mention of three priests presents some difficulty. To make up the twenty-nine mentioned in l. 24, we only want one priest, and it is afterwards assumed that there was but one priest, viz. the Nonnes Preest, who tells the tale of the Cock and Fox. Chaucer also, in all other cases, supposes that there was but one representative of each class.
The most likely solution is that Chaucer wrote a character of the Second Nun, beginning—
and that, for some reason, he afterwards suppressed the description. The line left imperfect, as above, may have been filled up, to stop a gap, either by himself (temporarily), or indeed by some one else.
If we are to keep the text (which stands alike in all MSS.), we must take ‘wel nyne and twenty’ to mean ‘at least nine and twenty.’
The letter from the Nun-Chaplain mentioned in the last note shews that an Abbess might have as many as five priests, as well as a chaplain. See Essays on Chaucer (Ch. Soc.), p. 183. The difficulty is, merely, how to reconcile this line with l. 24.
165.a fair, i. e. a fair one. Cf. ‘a merye’ in l. 208; and l. 339.
for the maistrye is equivalent to the French phrase pour la maistrie, which in old medical books is ‘applied to such medicines as we usually call sovereign, excellent above all others’; Tyrwhitt. We may explain it by ‘as regards superiority,’ or, ‘to shew his excellence.’ Cf. ‘An stede he gan aprikie · wel vor the maistrie’; Rob. of Glouc. l. 11554 (or ed. Hearne, p. 553).
In the Romance of Sir Launfal, ed. Ritson, l. 957, is a description of a saddle, adorned with ‘twey stones of Ynde Gay for the maystrye’; i. e. preëminently gay.
Several characteristics of various orders of monks are satirically noted in Wright’s Political Songs, pp. 137–148.
166.out-rydere, outrider; formerly the name of an officer of a monastery or abbey, whose duty was to look after the manors belonging to it; or, as Chaucer himself explains it, in B. 1255—
In the Visitations of the Diocese of Norwich, 1492–1532, ed. Jessop (Camden Soc.), pp. 214, 279, the word occurs twice, as the name of an officer of the Abbey of St. Benet’s, Hulme; e.g. ‘Dompnus Willelmus Hornyng, oute-rider, dicit quod multa edificia et orrea maneriorum sunt prostrata et collapsa praesertim violentia venti hoc anno.’
The Lat. name for this officer was exequitator, as appears from Wyclif, Sermones, iii. 326 (Wyclif Soc.). I am indebted for these references and for the explanation of out-rydere to Mr. Tancock; see his note in N. and Q. 7 S. vi. 425. The same vol. of Visitations also shews that, in the same abbey, another monk, ‘Thomas Stonham tertius prior’ was devoted to hunting; ‘communis venator . . . solet exire solus ad venatum mane in aurora.’ There is also a complaint of the great number of dogs kept there—‘superfluus numerus canum est in domo.’ In the Rolls of Parliament (1406), vol. iii. p. 598, the sheriffs collect payments for the repair of roads and bridges ‘par lour Ministres appellez Outryders’; N. and Q. 8 S. ii. 39. Note that this fully explains the use of outryders in P. Plowman, C. v. 116.
venerye, hunting; cf. A. 2308. ‘The monks of the middle ages were extremely attached to hunting and field-sports; and this was a frequent subject of complaint with the more austere ecclesiastics, and of satire with the laity.’—Wright. See Strutt’s Sports and Pastimes, bk. i. c. 1. §§ 9, 10; Our Eng. Home, p. 23. From Lat. uenari, to hunt.
168.deyntee, dainty, i.e. precious, valuable, rare; orig. a sb., viz. O. F. deintee, dignity, from Lat. acc. dignitatem. Cf. l. 346.
170.Ginglen, jingle. (The line is deficient in the first foot.) Fashionable riders were in the habit of hanging small bells on the bridles and harness of their horses. Wyclif speaks of ‘a worldly preest . . in pompe and pride, coveitise and envye . . with fatte hors, and jolye and gaye sadeles, and bridelis ryngynge be the weye, and himself in costy clothes and pelure’ [fur]; Works, ed. Arnold, iii. 519, 520.
In Richard Cuer de Lion, l. 1517, we read of a mounted messenger, with silk trappings—
‘With fyve hundred belles ryngande.’
And again, at l. 5712—
‘His crouper heeng al full off belles.’
‘Vincent of Beauvais, speaking of the Knights Templars, and their gorgeous horse-caparisons, says they have—in pectoralibus campanulas infixas magnum emittentes sonitum’; Hist. lib. xxx. c. 85 (cited by Warton, Hist. E. P. i. 167). See B. 3984; and Spenser, F. Q. i. 2. 13; also Englische Studien, iii. 105.
172.Ther as=where that. keper, principal, head, i.e. prior. celle, cell; a ‘cell’ was a small monastery or nunnery, dependent on a larger one. ‘Celle, a religious house, subordinate to some great abby. Of these cells some were altogether subject to their respective abbies, who appointed their officers, and received their revenues; while others consisted of a stated number of monks, who had a prior sent them from the abby, and who paid an annual pension as an acknowledgment of their subjection; but, in other matters, acted as an independent body, and received the rest of their revenues for their own use. These priories or cells were of the same order with the abbies on whom they depended. See Tanner, Pref. Not. Monast. p. xxvii.’—Todd, Illustrations of Chaucer, p. 326. Cf. note to l. 670, and especially the note to D. 2259.
173.The reule (rule) of seint Maure (St. Maur) and that of seint Beneit (St. Benet or Benedict) were the oldest forms of monastic discipline in the Romish Church. St. Maur (Jan. 15) was a disciple of St. Benet (Dec. 4), who founded the Benedictine order, and died about 542.
174. Note that streit, mod. E. strait, A. F. estreit, from Lat. strictus, is quite distinct from mod. E. straight, of A. S. origin.
175. The Harl. MS. reads, ‘This ilke monk leet forby hem pace’ (error for leet hem forby him pace?), ‘This same monk let them pass by him unobserved.’ hem refers to the rules of St. Maur and St. Benet, which were too streit (strict) for this ‘lord’ or superior of the house, who preferred a milder sort of discipline. Forby is still used in Scotland for by or past. pace, pass by, remain in abeyance; cf. pace, pass on, proceed, in l. 36. hem, them; originally dat. pl. of he.
176.space, course (Lat. spatium); ‘and held his course in conformity with the new order of things.’
177.yaf not of, gave not for, valued not. yaf is the pt. t. of yeven or yiven, to give.
a pulled hen, lit. a plucked hen; hence, the value of a hen without its feathers; see l. 652. In D. 1112, the phrase is ‘not worth a hen.’ Tyrwhitt says, ‘I do not see much force in the epithet pulled’; but adds, in his Glossary—‘I have been told since, that a hen whose feathers are pulled, or plucked off, will not lay any eggs.’ Becon speaks of a ‘polled hen,’ i. e. pulled hen, as one unable to fly; Works, p. 533; Parker Soc. It is only one of the numerous old phrases for expressing that a thing is of small value. See l. 182. I may add that pulled, in the sense of ‘plucked off the feathers,’ occurs in the Manciple’s Tale; H. 304. And see Troil. v. 1546.
text, remark in writing; the word was used of any written statement that was frequently quoted. The allusion is to the legend of Nimrod, ‘the mighty hunter’ (Gen. x. 9), which described him as a very bad man. ‘Mikel he cuth [much he knew] o sin and scham’; Cursor Mundi, l. 2202. It was he (it was said) who built the tower of Babel, and introduced idolatry and fire-worship. All this has ceased to be familiar, and the allusion has lost its point. ‘We enjoin that a priest be not a hunter, nor a hawker, nor a dicer’; Canons of King Edgar, translated; no. 64. See my note to P. Plowman, C. vi. 157.
179.recchelees (in MS. E.) means careless, regardless of rule; but ‘a careless monk’ is not necessarily ‘a monk out of his cloister.’ But the reading cloisterless (in MS. Harl.) solves the difficulty; being a coined word, Chaucer goes on to explain it in l. 181. See the quotation from Jehan de Meung in the next note.
179–81. This passage, says Tyrwhitt, ‘is attributed by Gratian (Decretal. P. ii. Cau. xvi. q. l. c. viii.) to a pope Eugenius: Sicut piscis sine aqua caret vita, ita sine monasterio monachus.’ Joinville says, ‘The Scriptures do say that a monk cannot live out of his cloister without falling into deadly sins, any more than a fish can live out of water without dying.’ Cf. Piers Plowman, B. x. 292; and my note.
Wyclif (Works, ed. Matthew), p. 449, has a similar remark:—‘For, as they seyn that groundiden [founded] these cloystris, thes men myghten no more dwelle out ther-of than fizs myghte dwelle out of water, for vertu that they han ther-ynne.’ The simile is very old; in The Academy, Nov. 29, 1890, Prof. Albert Cook traced it back to Sozomen, Eccl. Hist. bk. i. c. 13 (Migne, Patr. Graec. 67. 898):—τοὺς μὲν γὰρ ἰχθύας ἔλεγε τὴν ὑγρὰν οὐσίαν τρέϕειν, μοναχοι̑ς δὲ κόσμον ϕέρειν τὴν ἔρημον. ἐπίσης τε τοὺς μὲν ξηρα̑ς ἀπτομένους τὸ ζῃ̑ν ἀπολιμπάνειν, τοὺς δὲ τὴν μοναστικὴν σεμνότητα ἀπολλύειν τοι̑ς ἄστεσι προσιόντας. And in The Academy, Dec. 6, 1890, Mr. H. Ellershaw, of Durham, shewed that it occurs still earlier, in the Life of St. Anthony (c. 85) attributed to St. Athanasius, not later than 373:—ὥσπερ οἱ ἰχθύες ἐγχρονίζοντες τῃ̑ ξηρᾳ̑ γῃ̑ τελευτω̑σιν· οὕτως οἱ μοναχοὶ βραδύνοντες μεθ’ ὑμω̑ν καὶ παρ’ ὑμι̑ν ἐνδιατρίβοντες ἐκλύονται.
Moreover, the poet was thinking of a passage in Le Testament de Jehan de Meung, ed. Méon, l. 1166:—
i. e. ‘whoever would find them, let him seek them in their cloister; for they do not prize the world at the value of an oyster.’ Chaucer turns this passage just the other way about.
182.text, remark, saying (as above, in l. 177). held, esteemed.
183. ‘And I said.’ This is a very realistic touch; as if Chaucer had been talking to the monk, obtaining his opinions, and professing to agree with them.
184.What has here its earliest sense of wherefore, or why.
wood, mad, foolish, is frequently employed by Spenser; A. S. wōd.
186.swinken, to toil; whence ‘swinked hedger,’ used by Milton (Comus, l. 293). But swinken is, properly, a strong verb; A. S. swincan, pt. t. swanc, pp. swuncen. Hence swink, s., toil; l. 188.
187.bit, the 3rd pers. sing. pres. of bidden, to command. So also rit, rideth, A. 974, 981; fynt, findeth, A. 4071; rist, riseth, A. 4193; stant, standeth, B. 618; sit, sitteth, D. 1657; smit, smiteth, E. 122; hit, hideth, F. 512.
187, 188.Austin, St. Augustine. The reference is to St. Augustine of Hippo, after whom the Augustinian Canons were named. Their rule was compiled from his writings. Thus we read that ‘bothe monks and chanouns forsaken the reules of Benet and Austyn’; Wyclif’s Works, ed. Arnold, iii. 511. And again—‘Seynt Austyn techith munkis to labore with here hondis, and so doth seint Benet and seynt Bernard’; Wyclif’s Works, ed. Matthew, p. 51. See Cutts, Scenes and Characters, &c.; ch. ii. and ch. iii.
189.a pricasour, a hard rider. priking, hard riding (l. 191).
190. Cf. ‘Also fast so the fowl in flyght’; Ywaine and Gawin, 630.
192.for no cost, for no expense. Dr. Morris explains for no cost by ‘for no reason,’ and certainly M. E. cost sometimes has such a force; but see ll. 213, 799, where it clearly means ‘expense.’
193.seigh, saw; A. S. sēah, pt. t. of sēon, to see.
purfiled, edged with fur. The M. E. purfil signifies the embroidered or furred hem of a garment, so that purfile is to work upon the edge. Purfiled has also a more extended meaning, and is applied to garments overlaid with gems or other ornaments. ‘Pourfiler d’or, to purfle, tinsell, or overcast with gold thread,’ &c.: Cotgrave. Spenser uses purfled in the Fairy Queene, i. 2. 13; ii. 3. 26. Cf. note to P. Plowman, C. iii. 10.
194.grys, a sort of costly grey fur, formerly very much esteemed; O. F. gris, Rom. de la Rose, 9121, 9307; Sir Tristrem, l. 1381. ‘The grey is the back-fur of the northern squirrel’; L. Gautier, Chivalry (Eng. tr.), p. 323. Such a dress as is here described must have been very expensive. In 1231 (Close Roll, 16 Hen. III.), king Henry III. had a skirt (iupa) of scarlet, furred with red gris. See Gloss. to Liber Custumarum, ed. Riley, s. v. griseum, p. 806.
In Lydgate’s Dance of Macabre, the Cardinal is made to regret—
The Council of London (1342) reproaches the religious orders with wearing clothing ‘fit rather for knights than for clerks, that is to say, short, very tight, with excessively wide sleeves, not reaching the elbows, but hanging down very low, lined with fur or with silk’; see J. Jusserand, English Wayfaring Life (1889). Cf. Wyclif, Works, ed. Matthew, p. 121.
‘This worshipful man, this dene, came rydynge into a good paryssh with a x. or xii. horses lyke a prelate’; Caxton, Fables of Æsop, &c.; last fable; cf. l. 204 below.
196. ‘He had an elaborate brooch, made of gold, with a love-knot in the larger end.’ love-knotte, a complicated twist, with loops.
198.balled, bald. See Specimens of Early English, ii. 15. 408.
199.anoint, anointed; O. F. enoint, Lat. inunctus.
200.in good point, in good case, imitated from the O. F. en bon point. Cotgrave has: ‘En bon poinct, ou, bien en poinct, handsome: faire, fat, well liking, in good taking.’
201.stepe, E. E. steap, does not here mean sunken, but bright, burning, fiery. Mr. Cockayne has illustrated the use of this word in his Seinte Marherete, pp. 9, 108: ‘His twa ehnen [semden] steappre þene steorren,’ his two eyes seemed brighter than stars. So also: ‘schininde and schenre, of ȝimstanes steapre then is eni steorre,’ shining and clearer, brighter with gems than is any star; St. Katherine, l. 1647. The expression ‘eyen gray and stepe,’ i. e. bright, has already been quoted in the note to l. 152. So also ‘Eyyen stepe and graye’; King of Tars, l. 15 (in Ritson, Met. Rom. ii. 157); and again, ‘thair een steep’; Palladius on Husbandry, bk. iv. l. 800. Cf. stemed in the next line; and see l. 753.
202.stemed as a forneys of a leed, shone like the fire under a cauldron. Here stemed is related to the M. E. stēm, a bright light, used in Havelok, 591. Cf. ‘two stemyng eyes,’ two bright eyes; Sir T. Wiat, Sat. i. 53. That refers to eyen, not to heed.
A kitchen-copper is still sometimes called a lead. As to the word leed, which is the same as the modern E. lead (the metal), Mr. Stevenson, in his edition of the Nottingham Records, iii. 493, observes—‘That these vessels were really made of lead we have ample evidence’; and refers us to the Laws of Æthelstán, iv. 7 (Schmid, Anhang, xvi. § 1); &c. He adds—‘The lead was frequently fixed, like a modern domestic copper, over a grate. The grate and flue were known as a furnace. Hence the frequent expression—a lead in furnace.’ See also led in Havelok, l. 924; and lead in Tusser’s Husbandrie, E. D. S.
203.botes souple, boots pliable, soft, and close-fitting.
‘This is part of the description of a smart abbot, by an anonymous writer of the thirteenth century: “Ocreas habebat in cruribus quasi innatae essent, sine plica porrectas.”—MS. Bodley, James, no. 6. p. 121.’—T. See Rom. of the Rose, 2265–70 (vol. i. p. 173).
205.for-pyned, ‘tormented,’ and hence ‘wasted away’; from pine. The for- is intensive, as in Eng. forswear.
208.Frere, friar. The four orders of mendicant friars mentioned in l. 210 were:—(1) The Dominicans, or friars-preachers, who took up their abode in Oxford in 1221, known as the Black Friars. (2) The Franciscans, founded by St. Francis of Assisi in 1209, and known by the name of Grey Friars. They made their first appearance in England in 1224. (3) The Carmelites, or White Friars. (4) The Augustin (or Austin) Friars. The friar was popular with the mercantile classes on account of his varied attainments and experience. ‘Who else so welcome at the houses of men to whom scientific skill and information, scanty as they might be, were yet of no inconsiderable service and attraction. He alone of learned and unlearned possessed some knowledge of foreign countries and their productions; he alone was acquainted with the composition and decomposition of bodies, with the art of distillation, with the construction of machinery, and with the use of the laboratory.’ See Professor Brewer’s Preface to Monumenta Franciscana, p. xlv; and, in particular, the poem called ‘Pierce the Ploughman’s Crede,’ and the satirical piece against the Friars entitled Jack Upland, formerly printed with Chaucer’s Works. Several pieces against them will also be found in Political Poems, ed. Wright (Record Series); and there are numerous outspoken attacks upon them in Wyclif’s various works, as, e.g. in the Select Eng. Works, ed. Arnold, iii. 366, and in his Works, ed. Matthew, p. 47. See also the chapter on Friars in the E. translation of Jusserand, Eng. Wayfaring Life; p. 293.
Many of the remarks concerning the Frere are ultimately due to Le Roman de la Rose. See The Romaunt of the Rose, ll. 6161–7698; in vol. i. pp. 234–259.
wantown, sometimes written wantowen, literally signifies untrained, and hence wild, brisk, lively. wan- is a common M. E. prefix, equivalent to our un- or dis-, as in wanhope, despair; towen or town occurs in M. E. writers for well-behaved, well-taught; from A. S. togen, pp. of tēon, to educate.
merye, pleasant; cf. M. E. mery wether, pleasant weather.
209.limitour was a begging friar to whom was assigned a certain district or limit, within which he was permitted to solicit alms; it was also his business to solicit persons to purchase a partnership, or brotherhood, in the merits of their conventual services. See Tyndale’s Works, i. 212 (Parker Soc.); and note to P. Plowman, B. v. 138. Hence in later times the verb limit signifies to beg.
210.ordres foure, four orders (note to l. 208). can, i. e. ‘knows.’
211.daliaunce and fair langage, gossip and flattery. daliaunce in M. E. signifies ‘tittle-tattle’ or ‘gossip.’ The verb dally signifies not only to loiter or idle, but to play, sport. Godefroy gives O. F. ‘dallier, v. a., railler.’
212. ‘He had, at his own expense, well married many young women.’ This is less generous than might appear; for it almost certainly refers to young women who had been his concubines. As Dr. Furnivall remarks in his Temporary Preface, p. 118—‘the true explanation lies in the following extract from a letter of Dr. Layton to Cromwell, in 1535 , in Mr. Thos. Wright’s edition of Letters on the Suppression of the Monasteries (Camden Soc.), p. 58: [At Maiden Bradley, near Bristol] “is an holy father prior, and hath but vj. children, and but one dowghter mariede yet of the goodes of the monasterie, trystyng shortly to mary the reste. His sones be tall men, waittyng upon him; and he thankes Gode a never medelet with marytt women, but all with madens, the faireste cowlde be gottyn, and always marede them ryght well.” ’
214.post, pillar or support, as in Troil. i. 1000. See Gal. ii. 9.
216.frankeleyns, wealthy farmers; see l. 331. over-al, everywhere.
217.worthy, probably ‘wealthy’; or else, ‘respectable.’ Cf. l. 68.
219. The word mór-e occupies the fourth foot in the line; cf. n. to l. 320. It is an adj., with the sense of ‘greater.’
220.licentiat. He had a licence from the Pope ‘to hear confessions, &c., in all places, independently of the local ordinaries.’—T. The curate, or parish priest, could not grant absolution in all cases, some of which were reserved for the bishop’s decision. See Wyclif’s Works, ed. Arnold, iii. 394.
224.wiste to han, knew (he was sure) to have.
pitaunce here signifies a mess of victuals. It originally signified an extraordinary allowance of victuals given to monastics, in addition to their usual commons, and was afterwards applied to the whole allowance of food for a single person, or to a small portion of anything.
225. ‘For the giving (of gifts) to a poor order.’ povre, O. F. povre, poor; cf. pover-ty. See pov-re in l. 232.
226.y-shrive = y-shriven, confessed, shriven. The final n is dropped; cf. unknowe for unknowen in l. 126.
227.he dorste, he durst make (it his) boast, i. e. confidently assert.
avaunt, a boast, is from the O. F. vb. avanter, to boast, an intensive form of vanter, whence E. vaunt.
230.he may not, he is not able to. him sore smerte, it may pain him, or grieve him, sorely.
232.Men moot, one ought to. Here moot is singular; cf. l. 149.
233.tipet, a loose hood, which seems to have been used as a pocket. ‘When the Order [of Franciscans] degenerated, the friar combined with the spiritual functions the occupation of pedlar, huxter, mountebank, and quack doctor.’ (Brewer.) ‘Thei [the friars] becomen pedderis [pedlars], berynge knyues, pursis, pynnys, and girdlis, and spices, and sylk, and precious pellure and forrouris [sorts of fur] for wymmen, and therto smale gentil hondis [dogs], to gete love of hem, and to haue many grete yiftis for litil good or nought.’—Wyclif’s Works, ed. Matthew, p. 12. As to the tipet, cf. notes to ll. 682, 3953.
In an old poem printed in Brewer’s Monumenta Franciscana, we have the following allusion to the dealings of the friar:—
In a poem in MS. Camb., Ff. 1. 6, fol. 156, it is explained that the limitour craftily gives ‘pynnys, gerdyllis, and knyeffs’ to wommen, in order to receive better things in return. He could get knives for less than a penny a-piece. Cf. ‘De j. doss. cultellorum dict. penyware. xd.’; York Wills, iii. 96.
Women used to wear knives sheathed and suspended from their girdles; such knives were often given to a bride. See the chapter on Bride-knives in Brand’s Popular Antiquities.
farsed, stuffed; from F. farcir. Cf. E. farce.
236.rote is a kind of fiddle or ‘crowd,’ not a hurdy-gurdy, as it is explained by Ritson, and in the glossary to Sir Tristrem. Cf. Spenser, F. Q. ii. 10. 3; iv. 9. 6; Sir Degrevant, l. 37 (see Halliwell’s note, at p. 289 of the Thornton Romances). See my Etym. Dictionary.
237.yeddinges, songs embodying some popular tales or romances. In Sir Degrevant, l. 1421, we are told that a lady ‘song yeddyngus,’ i.e. sang songs. For singing such songs, he was in the highest estimation. From A. S. geddian, to sing. Cf. P. Plowman, A. i. 138:—‘Ther thou art murie at thy mete, whon me biddeth the yedde.’
prys answers both to E. prize and price; cf. l. 67.
239.champioun, champion; i.e. a professional fighter in judicial lists. Cf. P. Plowman, C. xxi. 104; and see Britton, liv. i. ch. 23. § 15.
241.tappestere, a female tapster. In olden times the retailers of beer, and for the most part the brewers also, appear to have been females. The -stere or -ster as a feminine affix (though in the fourteenth century it is not always or regularly used as such) occurs in M. E. brewstere, webbestere, Eng. spinster. In huckster, maltster, songster, this affix has acquired the meaning of an agent; and in youngster, gamester, punster, &c., it implies contempt. See Skeat, Principles of Etymology, pt. i. § 238. Cf. beggestere, female beggar, 242.
242.Bet, better, adv.; as distinguished from bettre, adj. (l. 524).
lazar, a leper; from Lazarus, in the parable of Dives and Lazarus; hence lazaretto, a hospital for lepers, a lazar-house.
244. ‘It was unsuitable, considering his ability.’
246. ‘It is not becoming, it may not advance (profit) to deal with (associate with) any such poor people.’ Cf. Rom. of the Rose, 6455, 6462; and note to P. Plowman, C. xiii. 21.
247. The line is imperfect in the first foot.
poraille, rabble of poor people; from O. F. povre, poor.
248.riche, i. e. rich people.
249, 250. ‘And everywhere, wherever profit was likely to accrue, courteous he was, and humble in offering his services.’
251.vertuous, (probably) energetic, efficient; cf. vertu in l. 4.
252, 253. Between these two lines the Hengwrt MS. inserts the two lines marked 252 b and 252 c, which are omitted in the other MSS., though they certainly appear to be genuine, and are found in all the black-letter editions, which follow Thynne. In the Six-text edition, which is here followed, they are not counted in. Tyrwhitt both inserts and numbers them; hence a slight difference in the methods of numbering the lines after this line. Tyrwhitt’s numbering is given, at every tenth line, within marks of parenthesis, for convenience of reference. The sense is—‘And gave a certain annual payment for the grant (to be licensed to beg; in consequence of which) none of his brethren came with his limit.’
ferme is the mod. E. farm; cf. ‘to farm revenues.’
253.sho, shoe; not sou (as has been suggested), which would (in fact) give a false rime. So also ‘worth his olde sho’; D. 708.
The friars were not above receiving even the smallest articles; and ferthing, in l. 255, may be explained by ‘small article,’ of a farthing’s value. See l. 134.
‘Ever be giving of somewhat, though it be but a cheese, or a piece of bacon, to the holy order of sweet St. Francis, or to any other of my [i. e. Antichrist’s] friars, monks, canons, &c. Holy Church refuseth nothing, but gladly taketh whatsoever cometh.’—Becon’s Acts of Christ and of Antichrist, vol. iii. p. 531 (Parker Society). And see the Somp. Tale, D. 1746–1751.
254.In principio. The reference is to the text in John i. 1, as proved by a passage from Tyndale (Works, ed. 1572, p. 271, col. 2; or iii. 61, Parker Soc.):—‘Such is the limiter’s saying of In principio erat verbum, from house to house.’ Sir Walter Scott copies this phrase in The Fair Maid of Perth, ch. iii. The friars constantly quoted this text.
256.purchas=proceeds of his begging. What he acquired in this way was greater than his rent or income. ‘Purchase, . . any method of acquiring an estate otherwise than by descent’; Blackstone, Comment. I. iii. For rente, see l. 373.
We find also: ‘My purchas is theffect of al my rente’; D. 1451.
where the F. original has (l. 11760)—‘Miex vaut mes porchas que ma rente.’
257.as it were right (E. Hn. &c.); and pleye as (Hl.). The sense is—‘and he could romp about, exactly as if he were a puppy-dog.’
258.love-dayes. ‘Love-days (dies amoris) were days fixed for settling differences by umpire, without having recourse to law or violence. The ecclesiastics seem generally to have had the principal share in the management of these transactions, which, throughout the Vision of Piers Ploughman, appear to be censured as the means of hindering justice and of enriching the clergy.’—Wright’s Vision of Piers Ploughman, vol. ii. p. 535.
Piers Ploughman, A. xi. 208, ed. Skeat; see also note to P. Pl. ed. Skeat, B. iii. 157. The sense is—‘he could give much help on lovedays (by acting as umpire).’ See ll. 259–261.
As to loveday, see Wyclif, Works, ed. Matthew, pp. 172, 234, 512; and the same, Works, ed. Arnold, ii. 77; iii. 322; Paston Letters, ed. Gairdner, i. 496; Titus Andronicus, i. 1. 491. In the Testament of Love, bk. i. (ed. 1561, fol. 287, col. 2) we find—‘What (quod she) . . . maked I not a louedaie betwene God and mankind, and chese a maide to be nompere [umpire], to put the quarell at ende?’
260.cope, a priest’s vestment; a cloak forming a semicircle when laid flat; the semi-cope (l. 262) was a short cloak or cape. Cf. Pierce the Ploughman’s Crede, ll. 227, 228:—
This line is a little awkward to scan. With a thred- constitutes the first foot; and povre is povr’ (cp. mod. F. pauvre).
261. ‘The kyng or the emperour myghtte with worschipe were a garnement of a frere for goodnesse of the cloth’; Wyclif’s Works, ed. Matthew, p. 50.
263.rounded, assumed a round form; used intransitively. presse, the mould in which a bell is cast; cf. l. 81.
264.lipsed, lisped; by metathesis of s and p. See footnote to l. 273.
for his wantownesse, by way of mannerism.
270.a forked berd. In the time of Edward III. forked beards were the fashion among the franklins and bourgeoisie, according to the English custom before the Conquest. See Fairholt’s Costume in England, fig. 30.
271.In mottelee, in a motley dress; cf. l. 328.
273.clasped; fastened with a clasp fairly and neatly. See l. 124.
274.resons, opinions. ful solempnely, with much importance.
275. ‘Always conducing to the increase of his profit.’ souninge, sounding like, conducing to; cf. l. 307. Compare—‘thei chargen more [care more for] a litil thing that sowneth to wynnyng of hem, than a myche more [greater] thing that sowneth to worchip of God’; Wyclif, Works, ed. Arnold, ii. 383. ‘These indulgencis . . . done mykel harme to Cristen soulis, and sownen erroure ageynes the gospel’; id., iii. 459. Cf. Chaucer’s Doctour’s Tale, C. 54; also P. Plowman, C. vii. 59, x. 216, xii. 79, xxii. 455. The M. E. sb. soun is from F. son, Lat. acc. sonum.
276.were kept, should be guarded; so that he should not suffer from pirates or privateers. ‘The old subsidy of tonnage and poundage was given to the king for the safeguard and custody of the sea 12. Edw. IV. c. 3.’—T.
‘The see wel kept, it must be don for drede.’
A Libell of English Policie, l. 1083.
In 1360, a commission was granted to John Gibone to proceed, with certain ships of the Cinque Ports, to free the sea from pirates and others, the enemies of the king; Appendix E. to Rymer’s Fœdera, p. 50.
for any thing, i. e. for any sake, at any cost. The A. S. thing is often used in the sense of ‘sake,’ ‘cause,’ or ‘reason.’ For in Chaucer also means ‘against,’ or ‘to prevent,’ but not (I think) here.
277.Middelburgh and Orewelle. ‘Middelburgh is still a well-known port of the island of Walcheren, in the Netherlands, almost immediately opposite Harwich, beside which are the estuaries of the rivers Stoure and Orwell. This spot was formerly known as the port of Orwell or Orewelle.’—Saunders, p. 229.
This mention of Middelburgh ‘proves that the Prologue must have been written not before 1384, and not later than 1388. In the year 1384 the wool-staple was removed from Calais and established at Middelburgh; in 1388 it was fixed once more at Calais; see Craik’s Hist. of Brit. Commerce, i. 123.’—Hales, Folia Literaria, p. 100. This note has a special importance.
278. ‘He well knew how to make a profit by the exchange of his crowns’ in the different money-markets of Europe. Sheeldes are crowns (O. F. escuz, F. écus), named from their having on one side the figure of a shield. They were valued at half a noble, or 3s. 4d.; Appendix E. to Rymer’s Fœdera, p. 55. See B. 1521.
279.his wit bisette, employed his knowledge to the best advantage. bisette = used, employed. Cf. Piers Plowman, ed. Skeat, B. v. 297:—
281, 282. ‘So ceremoniously (or, with such lofty bearing) did he order his bargains and agreements for borrowing money.’ A chevisaunce was an agreement for borrowing money on credit; cf. B. 1519; also P. Plowman, B. v. 249, and the note. From F. chevir, to accomplish; cf. E. achieve.
284.noot = ne + woot, know not; so niste = ne + wiste, knew not.
285.Clerk, a university student, a scholar preparing for the priesthood. It also signifies a man of learning, a man in holy orders. See Anstey’s Munimenta Academica for much interesting information on early Oxford life and studies.
Oxenford, Oxford, as if ‘the ford of the oxen’ (A. S. Oxnaford); and it has not been proved that this etymology is wrong.
y-go, gone, betaken himself.
287. Hence ‘Leane as a rake’ in Skelton, Philip Sparowe, l. 913; ‘A villaine, leane as any rake, appeares’; W. Browne, Brit. Past. bk. ii. song 1.
290. ‘His uppermost short cloak (of coarse cloth).’ The syllable -py answers to Du. pije, a coarse cloth; cf. Goth. paida, a coat. Cf. E. pea-jacket. See D. 1382; P. Plowman, B. vi. 191; Rom. Rose, 220.
292. ‘Nor was he so worldly as to take a (secular) office.’ Many clerks undertook legal employments; P. Plowman, B. prol. 95.
293. ‘For it was dearer to him to have,’ i. e. he would rather have.
lever is the comparative of M. E. leef, A. S. lēof, lief, dear.
294. The first foot is defective: Twen|ty bo|kes, &c.
296. In the Milleres Tale, Chaucer describes a clerk of a very opposite character, who loved dissipation and played upon a ‘sautrye’ or psaltery. See A. 3200–20.
fithel is the mod. E. fiddle. sautrye is an O. F. spelling of our psaltery.
297.philosophre is used in a double sense; it sometimes meant an alchemist, as in G. 1427. The clerk knew philosophy, but he was no alchemist, and so had but little gold.
298.Hadde, possessed; as hadde is here emphatic, the final e is not elided. So also in l. 386.
301. Chaucer often imitates his own lines. He here imitates Troil. iv. 1174—‘And pitously gan for the soule preye.’ gan, did.
302.yaf him, ‘gave him (money) wherewith to attend school.’ An allusion to the common practice, at this period, of poor scholars in the Universities, who wandered about the country begging, to raise money to support them in their studies. Luther underwent a similar experience. Cf. P. Plowman, B. vii. 31; also Ploughman’s Crede, ed. Skeat, p. 71.
305. ‘With propriety (due form) and modesty.’
307.Souninge in, conducing to; cf. note to l. 275 above.
The Man of Lawe.
309.war, wary, cautions; A. S. wær, aware. Cf. l. 157.
310.at the parvys, at the church-porch, or portico of St. Paul’s, where the lawyers were wont to meet for consulation. See Ducange, s. v. paradisus, which is the Latin form whence the O. F. parvis is derived. Also the note in Warton, Hist. E. Poet., ed. 1840, ii. 212; cf. Anglia, viii. 453. And see Rom. of the Rose. 7108, and the note.
315.pleyn, full; F. plein, Lat. acc. plenum. Cf. pleyn, fully, in l. 327.
320.purchasing, conveyancing; infect, invalid. ‘The learned Sergeant was clever enough to untie any entail, and pass the property as estate in fee simple.’—W. H. H. Kelke, in N. and Q. 5 S. vi. 487.
The word might-e occupies the fourth foot in the line.
323, 324. ‘He was well acquainted with all the legal cases and decisions (or decrees) which had been ruled in the courts of law (lit. had befallen) since the time of William the Conqueror.’ In termes hadde he, he had in terms, knew how to express in proper terms, was well acquainted with.
325.Therto, moreover. make, compose, draw up, draught.
326.pinche at, find fault with; lit. nip, twitch at.
327.coude he, he knew; coude is the pt. t. of konnen, to know, A. S. cunnan.
328.medlee cote, a coat of mixed stuff or colour. In 1303, we find mention of ‘one woman’s surcoat of medley’; see Memorials of London, ed. Riley, p. 48.
329.ceint of silk, &c., a girdle of silk, with small ornaments. The barres were called cloux in French (Lat. clavus), and were the usual ornaments of a girdle. They were perforated to allow the tongue of the buckle to pass through them. ‘Originally they were attached transversely to the wide tissue of which the girdle was formed, but subsequently were round or square, or fashioned like the heads of lions, and similar devices, the name of barre being still retained, though improperly.’—Way, in Promptorium Parvulorum; s. v. barre. And see Bar in the New English Dictionary. Gower also has: ‘a ceinte of silk’; C. A. ed. Pauli, ii. 30. Cf. A. 3235, and Rom. of the Rose, 1085, 1103.
ceint, O. F. ceint, a girdle; from Lat. cinctus, pp. of cingere, to gird.
331. Fortescue (De Laudibus Legum Angliae, c. 29) describes a franklin to be a pater familias—magnis ditatus possessionibus; i. e. he was a substantial householder and a man of some importance. See Warton, Hist. E. Poet., ed. 1840, ii. 202; and Gloss. to P. Plowman.
332.dayes-ye, daisy; A. S. dæges ēage, lit. eye of day (the sun).
333. ‘He was sanguine of complexion.’ The old school of medicine, following Galen, supposed that there were four ‘humours,’ viz. hot, cold, moist, and dry (see l. 420), and four complexions or temperaments of men, viz. the sanguine, the choleric, the phlegmatic, and the melancholy. The man of sanguine complexion abounded in hot and moist humours, as shown in the following description, given in the Oriel MS. 79 (as quoted in my Preface to P. Plowman, B-text, p. xix):—
334.by the morwe, in the morning.
a sop in wyn, wine with pieces of cake or bread in it; see E. 1843. See Brand, Antiq. (ed. Ellis), ii. 137. Later, sop-in-wine was a jocose name for a kind of pink or carnation; id. ii. 91.
In the Anturs of Arthur at the Tarnewathelan, st. 37, we read that
And in MS. Harl. 279, fol. 10, we have the necessary instruction for the making of these sops. ‘Take mylke and boyle it, and thanne tak yolkys of eyroun [eggs], ytryid [separated] fro the whyte, and hete it, but let it nowt boyle, and stere it wyl tyl it be somwhat thikke; thenne cast therto salt and sugre, and kytte [cut] fayre paynemaynnys in round soppys, and caste the soppys theron, and serve it forth for a potage.’—Way, in Promptorium Parvulorum, p. 378. The F. name is soupe au vin. See also Ducange, s. v. Merus.
335.wone, wont, custom; A. S. wuna, ge-wuna.
delyt, delight; the mod. E. word is misspelt; delite would be better.
336. ‘A very son of Epicurus.’ Alluding to the famous Greek philosopher [died 270], the author of the Epicurean philosophy, which assumed pleasure to be the highest good. Chaucer here follows Boethius, bk. iii. pr. 2. 54: ‘The whiche delyt only considerede Epicurus, and iuged and establisshed that delyt is the sovereyn good.’ Cf. Troil. iii. 1691, v. 763; also E. 2021.
340. ‘St. Julian was eminent for providing his votaries with good lodgings and accommodation of all sorts. [See Chambers’ Book of Days, ii. 388.] In the title of his legend, Bodl. MS. 1596, fol. 4, he is called “St. Julian the gode herberjour” (St. Julian the good harbourer).’—Tyrwhitt. His day is Jan. 9. See the Lives of Saints, ed. Horstmann (E. E. T. S.); also Gesta Romanorum, ed. Swan, tale 18; Mrs. Jameson, Sacred and Leg. Art, ii. 393.
341.after oon, according to one invariable standard; ‘up to the mark’; cf. A. 1781, and the note. A description of a Franklin’s feast is given in the Babees Book, ed. Furnivall, p. 170.
342.envyned, stored with wine. ‘Cotgrave has preserved the French word enviné in the same sense.’—Tyrwhitt.
343.bake mete = baked meat; the old past participle of bake was baken or bake, as it was a strong verb. Baked meats = meats baked in coffins (pies). Cf. Hamlet, i. 2. 180.
344.plentevous, plenteous, plentiful; O. F. plentivous, formed by adding -ous to O. F. pleintif, adj. abundant; see Godefroy’s O. F. Dict.
345. The verb snewed may be explained as a metaphor from snowing; in fact, the M. E. snewe, like the Prov. Eng. snie or snive, also signifies to abound, swarm. Camb. MS. reads ‘It snowede in his mouth of mete and drynk.’ Cf. ‘He was with yiftes [presents] all bisnewed’; Gower, C. A. iii. 51. From A. S. snīwan.
347.After, according to; it depended on what was in season.
348.soper (supee·r), supper; from O. F. infin. soper; cf. F. 1189.
349.mewe. The mewe was the place where the hawks were kept while moulting; it was afterwards applied to the coop wherein fowl were fattened, and lastly to a place of confinement or secrecy.
350.stewe, fish-pond. ‘To insure a supply of fish, stew-ponds were attached to the manors, and few monasteries were without them; the moat around the castle was often converted into a fish-pond, and well stored with luce, carp, or tench.’—Our English Home, p. 65.
breem, bream; luce, pike, from O. F. luce, Low Lat. lucius.
351.Wo was his cook, woeful or sad was his cook. We now only use wo or woe as a substantive. Cf. B. 757, E. 753; and ‘I am woe for ’t’; Tempest, v. 1. 139.
‘Who was woo but Olyvere then?’—Sowdone of Babyloyne, l. 1271. Rob. of Brunne, in his Handlyng Synne, l. 7250, says that a rich man’s cook ‘may no day Greythe hym hys mete to pay.’
351, 352.sauce—Poynaunt is like the modern phrase sauce piquante. Cf. B. 4024. ‘Our forefathers were great lovers of “piquant sauce.” They made it of expensive condiments and rare spices.’—Our English Home, p. 62.
353.table dormant, irremoveable table. ‘Previous to the fourteenth century a pair of common wooden trestles and a rough plank was deemed a table sufficient for the great hall. . . . Tables, with a board attached to a frame, were introduced about the time of Chaucer, and, from remaining in the hall, were regarded as indications of a ready hospitality.’—Our English Home, p. 29. Most tables were removeable; such a table was called a bord (board).
355.sessiouns. At the Sessions of the Peace, at the meeting of the Justices of the Peace. Cf. ‘At Sessions and at Sises we bare the stroke and swaye.’—Higgins’ Mirrour for Magistrates, ed. 1571, p. 2.
356.knight of the shire, the designation given to the representative in parliament of an English county at large, as distinguished from the representatives of such counties and towns as are counties of themselves (Ogilvie). Chaucer was knight of the shire of Kent in 1386.
tym-e here represents the A. S. tīman, pl. of tīma, a time.
357.anlas or anelace. Speght defines this word as a falchion, or wood-knife. It was, however, a short two-edged knife or dagger usually worn at the girdle, broad at the hilt and tapering to a point. See the New Eng. Dictionary; Liber Albus, p. 75; Knight, Pict. Hist. of England, i. 872; Gloss. to Matthew Paris, s. v. anelacius; Riley’s Memorials of London, p. 15. The etymology is unknown; I guess it to be from M. E. an, on, and las, a lace, i.e. ‘on a lace,’ a dagger that hung from a lace attached to the girdle. Cf. A. S. bigyrdel (just below); and ‘hanging on a laas’ in l. 392.
gipser was properly a pouch or budget used in hawking, &c., but commonly worn by the merchant, or with any secular attire.—(Way.) It answers to F. gibecière, a pouch; from O. F. gibe, a bunch (Scheler). In Riley’s Memorials of London, p. 398, under the date 1376, there is a mention of ‘purses called gibesers.’ In the Bury Wills, p. 37, l. 16, under the date 1463, we find—‘My best gypcer with iij. bagges.’ The A. S. name was bigyrdel, from its hanging by the girdle, as said in l. 358; it occurs in the A. S. version of Matt. x. 9; and in P. Plowman, B. viii. 87.
358.Heng (or Heeng), the past tense of hongen or hangen, to hang. morne milk=morning-milk; as in A. 3236. ‘As white as milke’; Ritson’s Met. Romances, iii. 292.
359.shirreve, the reve of a shire, governor of a county; our modern word sheriff.
countour, O. Fr. comptour, an accountant, a person who audited accounts or received money in charge, &c.; ranked with pleaders in Riley’s Memorials of London, p. 58. It occurs in Rob. of Gloucester, l. 11153. In the Book of the Duch. 435, it simply means ‘accountant.’ Perhaps it here means ‘auditor.’ ‘Or stewards, countours, or pleadours’; Plowman’s Tale, pt. iii. st. 13.
360.vavasour, or vavaser, originally a sub-vassal or tenant of a vassal or tenant of the king’s, one who held his lands in fealty. ‘Vavasor, one that in dignities is next to a Baron’; Cowel. Strutt (Manners and Customs, iii. 14) explains that a vavasour was ‘a tenant by knight’s service, who did not hold immediately of the king in capite, but of some mesne lord, which excluded him from the dignity of baron by tenure.’ Tyrwhitt says ‘it should be understood to mean the whole class of middling landholders.’ See Lacroix, Military Life of Middle Ages, p. 9. Spelt favasour in King Alisaunder, ed. Weber, l. 3827. A. F. uauassur; Laws of Will. I. c. 20. Lit. ‘vassal of vassals’; Low Lat. vassus vassorum.
The Haberdassher and others.
361.Haberdassher. Haberdashers were of two kinds: haberdashers of small wares—sellers of needles, tapes, buttons, &c.; and haberdashers of hats. The stuff called hapertas is mentioned in the Liber Albus, p. 225.
362.Webbe, properly a male weaver; webstere was the female weaver, but there appears to have been some confusion in the use of the suffixes -e and -stere; see Piers Plowman, ed. Skeat, B. v. 215: ‘mi wyf was a webbe.’ Hence the names Webb and Webster. Cf. A. S. webba, m., a weaver; webbestere, fem. tapicer, upholsterer; F. tapis, carpet.
363.liveree, livery. ‘Under the term “livery” was included whatever was dispensed (delivered) by the lord to his officials or domestics annually or at certain seasons, whether money, victuals, or garments. The term chiefly denoted external marks of distinction, such as the roba estivalis and hiemalis, given to the officers and retainers of the court. . . . The Stat. 7 Hen. IV expressly permits the adoption of such distinctive dress by fraternities and “les gentz de mestere,” the trades of the cities of the realm, being ordained with good intent; and to this prevalent usage Chaucer alludes when he describes five artificers of various callings, who joined the pilgrimage, clothed all in o lyveré of a solempne and greet fraternité.’—Way, note to Prompt. Parv., p. 308. We still speak of the Livery Companies.
And they were clothed alle (Elles., &c.); Weren with vss eeke clothed (Harl.) The former reading leaves the former clause of the sentence without a verb.
364.fraternitee, guild: see English Gilds, ed. Toulmin Smith, pp. xxx, xxxix, cxxii. Each guild had its own livery; Rock, Church of our Fathers, ii. 412.
365.gere, gear, apparel. apyked, signifies cleaned, trimmed, like Shakespeare’s picked. Cotgrave gives as senses of F. piquer, ‘to quilt,’ and ‘to stiffen a coller.’
366.y-chaped, having chapes (i.e. plates or caps of metal at the point of the sheath or scabbard). Tradesmen and mechanics were prohibited from using knives adorned with silver, gold, or precious stones. So that Chaucer’s pilgrims were of a superior estate, as is indicated in l. 369. Cf. chapeless, Taming of the Shrew, iii. 2. 48.
370.deys, dese, or dais (Fr. deis, from Lat. discum, acc.), is used to denote the raised platform which was always found at the upper end of a hall, on which the high table was placed; originally, it meant the high table itself. In modern French and English, it is used of a canopy or ‘tester’ over a seat of state. Tyrwhitt’s account of the word is confused, as he starts with a false etymology.
yeld-halle, guild-hall. See Gildhall in the Index to E. Gilds, ed. Toulmin Smith.
371.that he can, that he knows; so also as he couthe, as he knew how, in l. 390. This line is deficient in the first foot.
372.shaply, adapted, fit; sometimes comely, of good shape. The mention of alderman should be noted. It was the invariable title given to one who was chosen as the head or principal of a guild (see English Gilds, ed. Toulmin Smith, pp. ciii, 36, 148, 276, 446). All these men belonged to a fraternity or guild, and each of them was a fit man to be chosen as head of it.
373. ‘For they had sufficient property and income’ (to entitle them to undertake such an office).
376.y-clept, called; pp. of clepen; see l. 121.
377.And goon to vigilyes al bifore. ‘It was the manner in times past, upon festival evens, called vigiliæ, for parishioners to meet in their church-houses or church-yards, and there to have a drinking-fit for the time. Here they used to end many quarrels betwixt neighbour and neighbour. Hither came the wives in comely manner, and they which were of the better sort had their mantles carried with them, as well for show as to keep them from cold at table.’—Speght, Gl. to Chaucer.
379.for the nones=for the nonce; this expression, if grammatically written, would be for then once, M. E. for þan anes, for the once, i. e. for the occasion; where the adv. anes (orig. a gen. form) is used as if it were a sb. in the dat. case. Cf. M.E. atte=atten, A. S. æt þām.
381.poudre-marchaunt tart is a sharp (tart) kind of flavouring powder, twice mentioned in Household Ordinances and Receipts (Soc. Antiq. 1790) at pp. 425, 434: ‘Do therto pouder marchant,’ and ‘do thi flessh therto, and gode herbes and poudre marchaunt, and let hit well stew.’—Notes and Queries, Fourth Series, iii. 180. See Powder in the Glossary to the Babees Book.
‘Galingale, which Chaucer, pre-eminentest, economioniseth above all junquetries or confectionaries whatsoever.’—Nash’s Lenten Stuff, p. 36, ed. Hindley. Galingale is the root of sweet cyperus. Harman (ed. Strother) notices three varieties: Cyperus rotundus, Galanga major, Galanga minor; Babees Book, ed. Furnivall, pp. 152, 216. See also Marco Polo, ed. Yule, ii. 181; Prompt. Parv., p. 185, note 4; Rogers, Hist. of Agriculture and Prices, i. 629; &c. And see Dr. H. Fletcher Hance’s and Mr. Daniel Hanbury’s Papers on this spice in the Linnæan Society’s Journal, 1871.
382.London ale. London ale was famous as early as the time of Henry III., and much higher priced than any other ale; cf. A. 3140.
Wel coude he knowe, he well knew how to distinguish. In fact, we find, in the Manciple’s Prologue (H. 57), that the Cook loved good ale only too well.
384.mortreux or mortrewes. There were two kinds of ‘mortrews,’ ‘mortrewes de chare’ and ‘mortrewes of fysshe.’ The first was a kind of soup in which chickens, fresh pork, crumbs of bread, yolks of eggs, and saffron formed the chief ingredients; the second kind was a soup containing the roe (or milt) and liver of fish, bread, pepper, ale. The ingredients were first stamped or brayed in a mortar, whence it probably derived its name. Lord Bacon (Nat. Hist. i. 48) speaks of ‘a mortresse made with the brawne of capons stamped and strained.’ See Babees Bock, pp. 151, 170, 172; Liber Cure Cocorum, ed. Morris, pp. 9, 19; and the note to P. Plowman, C. xvi. 47. This line, like ll. 371 and 391, is deficient in the first foot.
386.mormal, a cancer or gangrene. Ben Jonson, in imitation of this passage, has described a cook with an ‘old mortmal on his shin’; Sad Shepherd, act ii. sc. 2 Lydgate speaks of ‘Goutes, mormalles, horrible to the sight’; Falls of Princes, bk. vii. c. 10. In Polit. Religious and Love Poems, ed. Furnivall, p. 218, we are told that the sin of Luxury ‘ys a lyther mormale.’ In Skelton’s Magnificence, l. 1932, Adversity is made to say—‘Some with the marmoll to halte I them make’; and it is remarkable that Palsgrave gives both—‘Mormall, a sore,’ and ‘Marmoll, a sore’; the latter being plainly a corrupt form. See also Prompt. Parvulorum, p. 343, note 5. In MS. Oo. i. 20, last leaf, in the Camb. Univ. Library, are notices of remedies ‘Por la maladie que est apele malum mortuum.’ The MS. says that it comes from melancholy, and shows a broad hard scurf or crust.
387.blank-manger, a compound made of capon minced, with rice, milk, sugar, and almonds; see Liber Cure Cocorum, ed. Morris, p. 9. Named from its white colour.
See the essay on Chaucer’s Shipman in Essays on Chaucer, p. 455.
388.woning, dwelling; from A. S. wunian, to dwell.
by weste=westward. A good old expression, which was once very common as late as the sixteenth century.
389. Dartmouth was once a very considerable port; see Essays on Chaucer, p. 456. Compare the account of the Shipman’s Gild at Lynn; E. Gilds, p. 54.
390.rouncy, a common hackney horse, a nag. Cf. Rozinante. ‘Rocinante—significativo de lo que habia sido cuando fué rocin, antes de lo que ahora era.’ Don Quijote, cap. 1. ‘From Rozin, a drudge-horse, and ante, before.’ Jarvis’s note. The O.F. form is roncin; Low Lat. runcinus. The rouncy was chiefly used for agricultural work; see Essays on Chaucer, p. 494.
as he couthe, as he knew how; but, as a sailor, his knowledge this way was deficient.
391.a goune of jalding, a gown (robe) of coarse cloth. The term falding signifies ‘a kind of frieze or rough-napped cloth,’ which was probably ‘supplied from the North of Europe, and identical with the woollen wrappers of which Hermoldus speaks, “quos nos appellamus Faldones.” ’—Way. ‘Falding was a coarse serge cloth, very rough and durable,’ &c.; Essays on Chaucer, p. 438. In MS. O. 5. 4, in Trinity College, Cambridge, occurs the entry—‘Amphibulus, vestis equi villosa, anglice a sclauayn or faldyng’; cited in Furnivall’s Temporary Preface, p. 99. In 1392, I find a mention of ‘unam tunicam de nigro faldyng lineatam’; Testamenta Eboracensia, i. 173. Hence its colour was sometimes black, and the Shipman’s gown is so coloured in the drawing in the Ellesmere MS.; but see A. 3212. See the whole of Way’s long note in the Prompt. Parvulorum.
392.laas, lace, cord. Seamen still carry their knives slung.
394.the hote somer. ‘Perhaps this is a reference to the summer of the year 1351, which was long remembered as the dry and hot summer.’—Wright. There was another such summer in 1370, much nearer the date of this Prologue. But it may be a mere general expression.
395.a good felawe, a merry companion; as in l. 648.
396–8. ‘Very many a draught of wine had he drawn (stolen away or carried off) from Bordeaux, cask and all, while the chapman (merchant or supercargo to whom the wine belonged) was asleep; for he paid no regard to any conscientious scruples.’
took keep; cf. F. prendre garde.
399.hyer hond, upper hand.
400. ‘He sent them home to wherever they came from by water,’ i.e. he made them ‘walk the plank,’ as it used to be called; or, in plain English, threw them overboard, to sink or swim. However cruel this may seem now, it was probably a common practice. ‘This battle (the sea-fight off Sluys) was very murderous and horrible. Combats at sea are more destructive and obstinate than upon land’; Froissart’s Chron. bk. i. c. 50. See Minot’s Poems, ed. Hall, p. 16. In Wright’s History of Caricature, p. 204, is an anecdote of the way in which the defeat of the French at Sluys was at last revealed to the king of France, Philippe VI., by the court-jester, who alone dared to communicate the news. ‘Entering the King’s chamber, he continued muttering to himself, but loud enough to be heard—“Those cowardly English! the chicken-hearted English!” “How so, cousin?” the king inquired. “Why,” replied the fool, “because they have not courage enough to jump into the sea, like your French soldiers, who went over headlong from their ships, leaving them to the enemy, who had no inclination to follow them.” Philippe thus became aware of the full extent of his calamity.’ And see Essays on Chaucer, p. 460.
402.stremes, currents. him bisydes, ever near at hand.
403.herberwe, harbour; see note to l. 765. mone, moon, time of the lunation.
lodemenage, pilotage. A pilot was called a lodesman; see Way’s note in Prompt. Parv. p. 310; Riley’s Memorials of London, p. 655; Chaucer’s Legend of Good Women, 1488. Furnivall’s Temporary Preface, p. 98, gives the Lat. form as lodmannus, whence lodmannagium, pilotage, examples of which are given. Sometimes, lodesman meant any guide or conductor, as in Rob. of Brunne, Handlyng Synne, 9027; Monk of Evesham, ed. Arber, p. 106. M. E. lode is the A. S. lād, a way, a course, the sb. whence the verb to lead is derived. It is itself derived from A. S. līðan, to travel.
404. Cf. Rom. de la Rose, 5394—‘Qui cercheroit jusqu’en Cartage.’
408.Gootland, Gottland, an island in the Baltic Sea.
409.cryke, creek, harbour, port.
410. We find actual mention of a vessel called the Maudelayne belonging to the port of Dartmouth, in the years 1379 and 1386; see Essays on Chaucer, p. 484. See also N. & Q. 6 S. xii. 47.
415.astronomye, (really) astrology. See Saunders on Chaucer, p. 111; Warton, Hist. E. Poet. (1840), ii. 202.
415, 416.kepte, watched. The houres are the astrological hours. He carefully watched for a favourable star in the ascendant. ‘A great portion of the medical science of the middle ages depended upon astrological and other superstitious observances.’—Wright. ‘A Phisition must take heede and aduise him of a certaine thing, that fayleth not, nor deceiueth, the which thing Astronomers of Ægypt taught, that by coniunction of the bodye of the Moone with sterres fortunate, commeth dreadful sicknesse to good end: and with contrary Planets falleth the contrary, that is, to euill ende’; &c.—Batman upon Bartholomè, lib. viii. c. 29. Precisely the same sort of thing was in vogue much later, viz. in 1578; see Bullein’s Dialogue against the Feuer Pestilence (E. E. T. S.), p. 32.
416.magik naturel. Chaucer alludes to the same practices in the House of Fame, 1259–70 (vol. iii. p. 38):—
417. The ascendent is the point of the zodiacal circle which happens to be ascending above the horizon at a given moment, such as the moment of birth. Upon it depended the drawing out of a man’s horoscope, which represented the aspect of the heavens at some given critical moment. The moment, in the present case, is that for making images. It was believed that images of men and animals could be made of certain substances and at certain times, and could be so treated as to cause good or evil to a patient, by means of magical and planetary influences. See Cornelius Agrippa, De Occulta Philosophia, lib. ii. capp. 35–47. The sense is—‘He knew well how to choose a fortunate ascendant for treating images, to be used as charms to help the patient.’
420. These are the four elementary qualities, hot, cold, dry, moist; Milton, Par. Lost, ii. 898. Diseases were supposed to be caused by an undue excess of some one quality; and the mixture of prevalent qualities in a man’s body determined his complexion or temperament. Thus the sanguine man was thought to be hot and moist; the phlegmatic, cold and moist; the choleric, hot and dry; the melancholy, cold and dry. The whole system rested on the teaching of Galen, and was fundamentally wrong, as it assumed that the ‘elements,’ or ‘simple bodies,’ were four, viz. earth, air, fire, and water. Of these, earth was said to be cold and dry; water, cold and moist; air, hot and moist; and fire, hot and dry. They thus correspond to the four complexions, viz. melancholy, phlegmatic, sanguine, and choleric. Each principal part of the body, as the brain, heart, liver, stomach, &c., could be ‘distempered,’ and such distemperance could be either ‘simple’ or ‘compound.’ Thus a simple distemperature of the brain might be ‘an excess of heat’; a compound one, ‘an excess of heat and moisture.’ See the whole system explained in Sir Thos. Elyot’s Castel of Helthe; at the beginning.
422.parfit practisour, perfect practitioner.
424.his bote, his remedy; A. S. bōt, a remedy; E. boot.
426.drogges. MS. Harl. dragges; the rest drogges, drugges, drugs. As to dragges (which is quite a different word), the Promptorium Parvulorum has ‘dragge, dragetum’; and Cotgrave defines dragée (the French form of the word dragge) as ‘a kind of digestive powder prescribed unto weak stomachs after meat, and hence any jonkets, comfits, or sweetmeats served in the last course for stomach-closers.’
letuaries, electuaries. ‘Letuaire, laituarie, s. m., électuaire, sorte de médicament, sirop’; Godefroy.
429–34. Read th’oldë. ‘The authors mentioned here wrote the chief medical text-books of the middle ages. Rufus was a Greek physician of Ephesus, of the age of Trajan; Haly, Serapion, and Avicen (Ebn Sina) were Arabian physicians and astronomers of the eleventh century; Rhasis was a Spanish Arab of the tenth century; and Averroes (Ebn Roschd) was a Moorish scholar who flourished in Morocco in the twelfth century. Johannes Damascenus was also an Arabian physician, but of a much earlier date (probably of the ninth century). Constanti[n]us After, a native of Carthage, and afterwards a monk of Monte Cassino, was one of the founders of the school of Salerno—he lived at the end of the eleventh century. Bernardus Gordonius, professor of medicine at Montpellier, appears to have been Chaucer’s contemporary. John Gatisden was a distinguished physician of Oxford in the earlier half of the fourteenth century. Gilbertyn is supposed by Warton to be the celebrated Gilbertus Anglicus. The names of Hippocrates and Galen were, in the middle ages, always (or nearly always) spelt Ypocras and Galienus.’—Wright. Cf. C. 306. Æsculapius, god of medicine, was fabled to be the son of Apollo. Dioscorides was a Greek physician of the second century. See the long note in Warton, 1871, ii. 368; and the account in Saunders’ Chaucer (1889), p. 115. I may note here, that Haly wrote a commentary on Galen, and is mentioned in Skelton’s Philip Sparowe, l. 505. There were three Serapions; the one here meant was probably John Serapion, in the eleventh century. Averroes wrote a commentary on the works of Aristotle, and died about 1198. Constantinus is the same as ‘the cursed monk Dan Constantyn,’ mentioned in the Marchaunt’s Tale, E. 1810. John Gatisden was a fellow of Merton College, and ‘was court-doctor under Edw. II. He wrote a treatise on medicine called Rosa Anglica’; J. Jusserand, Eng. Wayfaring Life, (1889), p. 180. Cf. Book of the Duchess, 572. Dante, Inf. iv. 143, mentions ‘Ippocrate, Avicenna, e Gallieno, Averrois,’ &c.
See Lounsbury, Studies in Chaucer, ii. 393.
439. ‘In cloth of a blood-red colour and of a blueish-grey.’ Cf. ‘robes de pers,’ Rom. de la Rose, 9116. In the Testament of Creseide, ed. 1550, st. 36, we find:—
Cf. P. Plowman, B. vi. 271; Hoccleve, de Reg. Princ. p. 26.
440.taffata (or taffety), a sort of thin silk; E. taffeta.
sendal (or cendal), a kind of rich thin silk used for lining, very highly esteemed. Thynne says—‘a thynne stuffe lyke sarcenett.’ Palsgrave however has ‘cendell, thynne lynnen, sendal.’ See Piers Plowman. B. vi. 11; Marco Polo, ed. Yule (see the index).
441.esy of dispence, moderate in his expenditure.
442.wan in pestilence, acquired during the pestilence. This is an allusion to the great pestilence of the years 1348, 1349; or to the later pestilences in 1362, 1369, and 1376.
443.For=because, seeing that. It was supposed that aurum potabile was a sovereign remedy in some cases. The actual reference is, probably, to Les Remonstrances de Nature, by Jean de Meun, ll. 979, 980, &c.; ‘C’est le fin et bon or potable, L’humide radical notable; C’est souveraine medecine’; and the author goes on to refer us to Ecclus. xxxviii. 4—‘The Lord hath created medicines out of the earth; and he that is wise will not abhor them.’ Hence the Doctor would not abhor gold. And further—‘C’est medecine cordiale’; ib. 1029. To return to aurum potabile: I may observe that it is mentioned in the play called Humour out of Breath, Act i. sc. 1; and there is a footnote to the effect that this was the ‘Universal Medicine of the alchemists, prepared from gold, mercury, &c. The full receipt will be found in the Fifth and last Part of the Last Testament of Friar Basilius Valentinus, London, 1670, pp. 371–7.’ See also Thomson’s Hist. of Chemistry, vol. i. p. 164; Burton’s Anat. of Melancholy, pt. 2. sec. 4. mem. 1. subsec. 4.
The Wyf of Bathe.
445.of bisyde, &c., from (a place) near Bath, i.e. from a place in its suburbs; for elsewhere she is simply called the Wyf of Bathe.
446. ‘But she was somewhat deaf, and that was her misfortune.’ We should now say—‘and it was a pity.’
447.clooth-making. ‘The West of England, and especially the neighbourhood of Bath, from which the “good wif” came, was celebrated, till a comparatively recent period, as the district of cloth-making. Ypres and Ghent were the great clothing-marts on the Continent.’—Wright. ‘Edward the third brought clothing first into this Island, transporting some families of artificers from Gaunt hither.’—Burton’s Anat. of Mel. p. 51. ‘Cloth of Gaunt’ is mentioned in the Romaunt of the Rose, l. 574 (vol. i. p. 117).
haunt, use, practice; i.e. she was so well skilled (in it).
448.passed, i.e. surpassed.
450.to the offring. In the description of the missal-rites, Rock shews how the bishop (or officiating priest) ‘took from the people’s selves their offerings of bread and wine. . . The men first and then the women, came with their cake and cruse of wine.’ So that, instead of money being collected, as now, the people went up in order with their offerings; and questions of precedence of course arose. The Wife insisted on going up first among the women. See Rock, Church of our Fathers, iii. 2. 33, 149.
453.coverchief (keverchef, or kerchere, kerché). The kerchief, or covering for the head, was, until the fourteenth century, almost an indispensable portion of female attire. See B. 837; Leg. of Good Women, l. 2202.
ful fyne of ground, of a very fine texture. See Pierce the Ploughman’s Crede, l. 230, which means ‘it was of fine enough texture to take dye in grain.’
454.ten pound. Of course this is a playful exaggeration; but Tyrwhitt was not justified in altering ten pound into a pound; for a pound-weight, in a head-dress of that period, was a mere nothing, as will be readily understood by observing the huge structures represented in Fairholt’s Costume, figs. 125, 129, 130, 151, which were often further weighted with ornaments of gold. Skelton goes so far as to describe Elinour Rummyng (l. 72)—
Cf. Pierce the Ploughman’s Crede, l. 84, and the note; Stubbes, Anatomy of Abuses, 1585, pp. 63, 70, 72; or ed. Furnivall, pp. 69, 74, 76.
457.streite y-teyd, tightly fastened. See note to l. 174.
moiste, soft—not ‘as hard as old boots.’ So, in H. 60, moysty ale is new ale.
460.chirche-dore. The priest married the couple at the church-porch, and immediately afterwards proceeded to the altar to celebrate mass, at which the newly-married persons communicated. As Todd remarks—‘The custom was, that the parties did not enter the church till that part of the office, where the minister now goes up to the altar [or rather, is directed to go up], and repeats the psalm.’ See Warton, Hist. Eng. Poet. 1871, ii. 366, note 1; Anglia, vi. 106; Rock, Church of our Fathers, iii. pt. 2. 172; Brand’s Antiquities, ed. Ellis, ii. 134. And see D. 6.
461.Withouten = besides. other companye, other lovers. This expression (copied from Le Rom. de la Rose, l. 12985—‘autre companie’) makes it quite certain that the character of the Wife of Bath is copied, in some respects, from that of La Vieille in the Roman de la Rose, as further appears in the Wife’s Prologue.
462.as nouthe, as now, i.e. at present. The form nouthe is not uncommon; it occurs in P. Plowman, Allit. Poems, Sir Gawain and the Grene Knight, &c. A. S. nū ðā, now then.
465.Boloigne. Cf. ‘I will have you swear by our dear Lady of Boulogne’; Gammer Gurton’s Needle, Act 2, sc. 2. An image of the virgin, at Boulogne, was sought by pilgrims. See Heylin’s Survey of France, p. 163, ed. 1656 (quoted in the above, ed. Hazlitt).
466.In Galice (Galicia), at the shrine of St. James of Compostella, a famous resort of pilgrims in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. As the legend goes, the body of St. James the Apostle was supposed to have been carried in a ship without a rudder to Galicia, and preserved at Compostella. See Piers Plowman, A. iv. 106, 110, and note to B. Prol. 47; also Eng. Gilds, ed. Toulmin Smith, pp. 172, 177.
Coloigne. At Cologne, where the bones of the Three Kings or Wise Men of the East, Gaspar, Melchior and Balthazar, are said to be preserved. See Coryat’s Crudities; Chambers, Book of Days, ii. 751.
467. ‘She knew much about travelling.’
468.Gat-tothed = gat-toothed, meaning gap-toothed, having teeth wide apart or separated from one another. A gat is an opening, and is allied to E. gate. The Friesic gat, Dan., Du., and Icel. gat, and Norweg. gat, all mean a hole, or a gap. Very similar is the use of the Shropshire glat, a gap in a hedge, also a gap in the mouth caused by loss of teeth. Example: ‘Dick, yo’ bin a flirt; I thought yo’ wun (were) gwein to marry the cook at the paas’n’s. Aye, but ’er’d gotten too many glats i’ the mouth for me’; Miss Jackson’s Shropshire Wordbook. ‘Famine—the gap-toothed elf’; Golding’s Ovid, b. 8; leaf 105. It occurs again, D. 603. [Gat-toothed has also been explained as goat-toothed, lascivious, but the word goat appears as goot in Chaucer.] Perhaps the following piece of ‘folk-lore’ will help us out. ‘A young lady the other day, in reply to an observation of mine—“What a lucky girl you are!”—replied; “So they used to say I should be when at school.” “Why?” “Because my teeth were set so far apart; it was a sure sign I should be lucky and travel.” ’—Notes & Queries 1 Ser. vi. 601; cf. the same, 7 Ser. vii. 306. The last quotation shews that the stop after weye at the end of l. 467 should be a mere semicolon; since ll. 467 and 468 are closely connected.
469.amblere, an ambling horse.
470.Y-wimpled, covered with a wimple; see l. 151.
471.targe, target, shield.
472.foot-mantel. Tyrwhitt supposes this to be a sort of riding-petticoat, such as is now used by market-women. It is clearly shewn, as a blue outer skirt, in the drawing in the Ellesmere MS. At a later time it was called a safe-guard (see Nares), and its use was to keep the gown clean. It may be added that, in the Ellesmere MS., the Wife is represented as riding astride. Hence she wanted ‘a pair of spurs.’
474.carpe, prate, discourse; Icel. karpa, to brag. The present sense of carp seems to be due to Lat. carpere.
475.remedyes. An allusion to the title and subject of Ovid’s book, Remedia Amoris.
476.the olde daunce, the old game, or custom. The phrase is borrowed from Le Roman de la Rose, l. 3946—‘Qu’el scet toute la vielle dance’; E. version, l. 4300—‘For she knew al the olde daunce.’ It occurs again; Troil. iii. 695. And in Troil. ii. 1106, we have the phrase loves daunce. Cf. the amorouse daunce, Troil. iv. 1431.
478.Persoun of a toun, the parson or parish priest. Chaucer, in his description of the parson, contrasts the piety and industry of the secular clergy with the wickedness and laziness of the religious orders or monks. See Dryden’s ‘Character of a Good Parson,’ and Goldsmith’s ‘Deserted Village’; also Wyclif, ed. Matthew, p. 179.
482.parisshens, parishioners; in which -er is a later suffix.
485.y-preved, proved (to be). ofte sythes, often-times; from A. S. sīð, a time.
486. ‘He was very loath to excommunicate those who failed to pay the tithes that were due to him.’ ‘Refusal to pay tithes was punishable with the lesser excommunication’; Bell. Wyclif complains of ‘weiward curatis’ that ‘sclaundren here parischenys many weies by ensaumple of pride, enuye, coueitise and vnresonable vengaunce, so cruely cursynge for tithes’; Works, ed. Matthew, p. 144 (cf. p. 132).
487.yeven, give; A. S. gifan. out of doute, without doubt.
489.offring, the voluntary contributions of his parishioners.
substaunce, income derived from his benefice.
490.suffisaunce, a sufficiency; enough to live on.
492.lafte not, left not, ceased not; from M. E. leven.
493.meschief, mishap, misfortune.
494.ferreste, farthest; superl. of fer, far. muche, great. lyte, small; A. S. lyt, small, little.
497.wroghte, wrought, worked; pt. t. of werchen, to work.
498. The allusion is to Matt. v. 19, as shewn by a parallel passage in P. Plowman, C. xvi. 127.
502.lewed, unlearned, ignorant. Lewed or lewd originally signified the people, laity, as opposed to the clergy; the modern sense of the word is not common in Middle English. Cf. mod. E. lewd, in Acts xvii. 5. See Lewd in Trench, Select Glossary.
503–4.if a preest tak-e keep, if a priest may (i. e. will) but pay heed to it. St. John Chrysostom also saith, ‘It is a great shame for priests, when laymen be found faithfuller and more righteous than they.’—Becon’s Invective against Swearing, p. 336.
507.to hyre. The parson did not leave his parish duties to be performed by a stranger, that he might have leisure to seek a chantry in St. Paul’s. See Piers Plowman, B-text, Prol. l. 83; Hoccleve, De Regimine Principum, ed. Wright, pp. 51, 52; Spenser, Shep. Kalendar (May).
508.And leet, and left (not). We should now say—‘Nor left.’ So also, in l. 509, And ran = Nor ran. Leet is the pt. t. of leten, to let alone, let go.
509. Here again, së-ynt is used as if it were dissyllabic; see ll. 120, 697.
510.chaunterie, chantry; an endowment for the payment of a priest to sing mass, agreeably to the appointment of the founder. ‘There were thirty-five of these chantries established at St. Paul’s, which were served by fifty-four priests; Dugd. Hist. pref. p. 41.’—Tyrwhitt’s Glossary. On the difference between a gild and a chantry, see the instructive remarks in Eng. Gilds, ed. Toulmin Smith, pp. 205–207, 259.
511. ‘Or to be kept (i. e. remain) in retirement along with some fraternity.’ I do not see how with-holde can mean ‘maintained,’ as it is usually explained. Cf. dwelte in l. 512, and with-holde in G. 345.
514.no mercenarie, no hireling; see John x. 12, where the Vulgate version has mercenarius.
516.despitous, full of despite, or contempt; cf. E. spite.
517.daungerous, not affable, difficult to approach. Cf. Rom. of the Rose, l. 591:—‘Ne of hir answer daungerous’; where the original has desdaigneuse. digne, full of dignity; hence, repellent. ‘She was as digne as water in a dich,’ A. 3964; because stagnant water keeps people at a distance.
519.fairnesse, i. e. by leading a fair or good life. The Harleian MS. has clennesse, that is, a life of purity.
523.snibben, reprimand; cf. Dan. snibbe, to rebuke, scold; mod. E. snub. In Wyclif’s translation of Matt. xviii. 15, the earlier version has snybbe as a synonym for reprove.
nones; see l. 379, and the note.
525.wayted after, looked for. See line 571.
526.spyced conscience; so also in D. 435. Spiced here seems to signify, says Tyrwhitt, nice, scrupulous; for a reason which is given below. It occurs in the Mad Lover, act iii. sc. 1, by Beaumont and Fletcher. When Cleanthe offers a purse, the priestess says—
‘Under pretence of spiced holinesse.’—Tract dated 1594, ap. Todd’s Illustrations of Gower, p. 380.
The origin of the phrase is French. The name of espices (spices) was given to the fees or dues which were payable (in advance) to judges. A ‘spiced’ judge, who would have a ‘spiced’ conscience, was scrupulous and exact, because he had been prepaid, and was inaccessible to any but large bribes. See Cotgrave, s. v. espices; Littré, s. v. épice; and, in particular, Les Œuvres de Guillaume Coquillart, ed. P. Tarbé, t. i. p. 31, and t. ii. p. 114. (First explained by me in a letter to The Athenaeum, Nov. 26, 1892, p. 741.)
527. ‘But the teaching of Christ and his twelve apostles, that taught he.’
528. Cf. Acts, i. 1; Gower, Conf. Amant. ii. 188.
529.Plowman; not a hind or farm-labourer, but a poor farmer, who himself held the plough; cf. note to P. Plowman, C. viii. 182. was, who was.
530.y-lad, carried, lit. led. Cf. prov. E. lead, to cart (corn).
531.swinker, toiler, workman; see l. 186. Cf. swink, toil, in l. 540.
534.though him gamed or smerte, though it was pleasant or unpleasant to him.
536.dyke, make ditches. delve, dig; A. S. delfan. Chaucer may be referring to P. Plowman, B. v. 552, 553.
541.mere. People of quality would not ride upon a mare.
545.carl, fellow; Icel. karl, cognate with A. S. ceorl, a churl. See A. 3469; also A. 1423–4. This description of the Miller should be compared with that in A. 3925–3940.
547. ‘That well proved (to be true); for everywhere, where he came.’
548.the ram. This was the usual prize at wrestling-matches. Tyrwhitt says—‘Matthew Paris mentions a wrestling match at Westminster, 1222, at which a ram was the prize.’ Cf. Sir Topas, B. 1931; Tale of Gamelyn, 172, 280.
549.a thikke knarre, a thickly knotted (fellow), i. e. a muscular fellow. Cf. M. E. knor, Mid. Du. knorre, a knot in wood; and E. gnarled. It is worth notice that, in ll. 549–557, there is no word of French origin, except tuft.
550.of harre, off its hinges, lit. hinge. ‘I horle at the notes, and heve hem al of herre’; Poem on Singing, in Reliq. Antiquae, ii. 292. Gower has out of herre, off its hinges, out of use, out of joint; Conf. Amant. bk. ii. ed. Pauli, i. 259; bk. iii. i. 318. Skelton has:—‘All is out of harre,’ Magnificence, l. 921. From A.S. heorr, a hinge.
553. Todd cites from Lilly’s Midas—‘How, sir, will you be trimmed? Will you have a bread like a spade or a bodkin?’—Illust. of Gower, p. 258.
554.cop, top; A. S. copp, a top; cf. G. Kopj.
557.nose-thirles, lit. nose-holes; mod. E. nostrils.
559.forneys. ‘Why, asks Mr. Earle, should Chaucer so readily fall on the simile of a furnace? What, in the uses of the time, made it come so ready to hand? The weald of Kent was then, like our “black country” now, a great smelting district, its wood answering to our coal; and Chaucer was Knight of the Shire, or M.P. for Kent.’—Temporary Preface to the Six-text edition of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, p. 99.
560.Ianglere, loud talker.
goliardeys, a ribald jester, one who gained his living by following rich men’s tables, and telling tales and making sport for the guests. Tyrwhitt says, ‘This jovial sect seems to have been so called from Golias, the real or assumed name of a man of wit, towards the end of the twelfth century, who wrote the Apocalypsis Goliæ, and other pieces in burlesque Latin rhymes, some which have been falsely [?] attributed to Walter Map.’ But it would appear that Golias is the sole invention of Walter Map, the probable author of the ‘Golias’ poems. See Morley’s Eng. Writers, 1888, iii. 167, where we read that the Apocalypse of Golias and the confession of Golias ‘have by constant tradition been ascribed to him [Walter Map]; never to any other writer.’ Golias is a medieval spelling of the Goliath of scripture, and occurs in Chaucer, Man of Lawes Tale, B. 934. In several authors of the thirteenth century, quoted by Du Cange, the goliardi are classed with the joculatores et buffones, and it is very likely that the word goliardus was, originally, quite independent of Golias, which was only connected with it by way of jest. The word goliardus seems rather to have meant, originally, ‘glutton,’ and to be connected with gula, the throat; but it was quite a common term, in the thirteenth century, for certain men of some education but of bad repute, who composed or recited satirical parodies and coarse verses and epigrams for the amusement of the rich. See T. Wright’s Introduction to the poems of Walter Map (Camden Soc.); P. Plowman, ed. Skeat, note to B. prol. 139; Wright’s History of Caricature, ch. x; and the account in Godefroy’s O. French Dict., s. v. Goliard.
561.that, i. e. his ‘Iangling,’ his noisy talk.
harlotrye means scurrility; Wyclif (Eph. v. 4) so translates Lat. scurrilitas.
562. ‘Besides the usual payment in money for grinding corn, millers are always allowed what is called “toll,” amounting to 4 lbs. out of every sack of flour.’—Bell. But it can hardly be doubted that, in old times, the toll was wholly in corn, not in money at all. It amounted, in fact, to the twentieth or twenty-fourth part of the corn ground, according to the strength of the water-course; see Strutt, Manners and Customs, ii. 82, and Nares, s. v. Toll-dish. At Berwick, the miller’s share was reckoned as ‘the thirteenth part for grain, and the twenty-fourth part for malt.’ Eng. Gilds, p. 342. When the miller ‘tolled thrice,’ he took thrice the legal allowance. Cf. A. 3939, 3940.
563.a thombe of gold. An explanation of this proverb is given on the authority of Mr. Constable, the Royal Academician, by Mr. Yarrell in his History of British Fishes, who, when speaking of the Bullhead or Miller’s Thumb, explains that a miller’s thumb acquires a peculiar shape by continually feeling samples of corn whilst it is being ground; and that such a thumb is called golden, with reference to the profit that is the reward of the experienced miller’s skill.
‘When millers toll not with a golden thumbe.’
Gascoigne’s Steel Glass, l. 1080.
Ray’s Proverbs give us—‘An honest miller has a golden thumb’; ed. 1768, p. 136; taken satirically, this means that there are no honest millers. Brand, in his Pop. Antiquities, ed. Ellis, iii. 387, quotes from an old play—‘Oh the mooter dish, the miller’s Thumbe!’
The simplest explanation is to take the words just as they stand, i.e. ‘he used to steal corn, and take his toll thrice; yet he had a golden thumb such as all honest millers are said to have.’
565. W. Thorpe, when examined by Arundel, archbishop of Canterbury, in 1407, complains of the pilgrims, saying—‘they will ordain to have with them both men and women that can well sing wanton songs; and some other pilgrims will have with them bagpipes; so that every town that they come through, what with the noise of their singing, and with the sound of their piping, and with the jangling of their Canterbury bells, and with the barking out of dogs after them, they make more noise than if the king came there away, with all his clarions and many other minstrels.’—Arber’s Eng. Garner, vi. 84; Wordsworth, Eccl. Biography, 4th ed. i. 312; Cutts, Scenes and Characters, p. 179.
566. ‘And with its music he conducted us out of London.’
567.Maunciple or manciple, an officer who had the care of purchasing provisions for a college, an inn of court, &c. (Still in use.) See A. 3993. A temple is here ‘an inn of court’; besides the Inner and Middle Temple (in London), there was also an Outer Temple; see Timbs, Curiosities of London, p. 461; and the account of the Temple in Stow’s Survey of London.
achatours, purchasers; cf. F. acheter, to buy.
570.took by taille, took by tally, took on credit. Cf. Piers Plowman, ed. Wright, vol. i. p. 68, and ed. Skeat (Clarendon Press Series), B. iv. 58:—
The buyer who took by tally had the price scored on a pair of sticks; the seller gave him one of them, and retained the other himself. ‘Lordis . . . taken pore mennus goodis and paien not therfore but white stickis . . . and sumtyme beten hem whanne thei axen here peye’; Wyclif’s Works, ed. Matthew, p. 233 (see note at p. 519).
571.Algate, in every way, always; cf. prov. E. gate, a street.
achat, buying; see l. 568.
572.ay biforn, ever before (others).
574.swich, such; A. S. swylce. lewed, unlearned; as in l. 502. pace, pass, i.e. surpass.
575.heep, heap, i. e. crowd; like G. Haufe.
581. ‘To make him live upon his own income.’
582. ‘Unless he were mad.’ See l. 184.
583. ‘Or live as economically as it pleases him to wish to do.’
584.al a, a whole. Cf. ‘all a summer’s day’; Milton, P. L. i. 449.
586.hir aller cappe, the caps of them all. Hir aller=eorum omnium. ‘To sette’ a man’s ‘cappe’ is to overreach him, to cheat him, or to befool him. Cf. A. 3143.
587.Reve. See Prof. Thorold Rogers’ capital sketch of Robert Oldman, the Cuxham bailiff, a serf of the manor (as reeves always were), in his Agriculture and Prices in England, i. 506–510.
592.Y-lyk, like. y-sen-e, visible; see note to l. 134.
593. ‘He knew well how to keep a garner and a bin.’
597.neet, neat, cattle. dayerye, dairy.
598.hors, horses; pl. See note to l. 74. pultrye, poultry.
599.hoolly, wholly; from A.S. hāl, whole.
601.Sin, short for sithen; and sithen, with an added suffix, became sithen-s or sithen-ce, mod. E. since.
602. ‘No one could prove him to be in arrears.’
603.herde, herd, i. e. cow-herd or shep-herd. hyne, hind, farm-labourer.
604.That . . . his, whose; as in A. 2710.
covyne, deceit; lit. a deceitful agreement between two parties to prejudice a third. O. F. covine, a project; from O. F. covenir, Lat. conuenire, to come together, agree.
605.adrad, afraid; from the pp. of A. S. ofdrǣdan, to terrify greatly.
the deeth, the pestilence; see note to l. 442.
606.woning, dwelling-place; see l. 388.
609.astored (Elles. &c.); istored (Harl.); furnished with stores.
611.lene, lend; whence E. len-d. of, some of.
613.mister, trade, craft; O. F. mestier (F. métier), business; Lat. ministerium. ‘Men of all mysteris’; Barbour’s Bruce, xvii. 542.
614.wel, very. wrighte, wright, workman.
615.stot, probably what we should now call a cob. Prof. J. E. T. Rogers, in his Hist. of Agriculture, i. 36, supposes that a stot was a low-bred undersized stallion. It frequently occurs with the sense of ‘bullock’; see note to P. Plowman, C. xxii. 267.
616. Sir Topas’s horse was ‘dappel-gray,’ which has the same sense as pomely gray, viz. gray dappled with round apple-like spots. ‘Apon a cowrsowre poumle-gray’; Wyntown, Chron. iv. 217; ‘pomly-gray’; Palladius on Husbandry, bk. iv. l. 809; ‘Upon a pomely palfray’; Lybeaus Disconus, 844 (in Ritson’s Metrical Romances). Florio gives Ital. pomellato, ‘pide, daple-graie.’ The word occurs in the French Roman de Troie by Benoît de Sainte-Maure, ed. Joly, 10722:—‘Quant Troylus orent monté Sor un cheval sor pommelé.’ Cf. G. 559.
Scot. ‘The name given to the horse of the reeve (who lived at Bawdeswell, in Norfolk) is a curious instance of Chaucer’s accuracy; for to this day there is scarcely a farm in Norfolk or Suffolk, in which one of the horses is not called Scot’; Bell’s Chaucer. Cf. G. 1543.
617.pers. Some MSS. read blew. See note on l. 439.
621.Tukked aboute, with his long coat tucked up round him by help of a girdle. In the pictures in the Ellesmere MS., both the reeve and the friar have girdles, and rather long coats; cf. D. 1737. ‘He (i.e. a friar) wore a graie cote well tucked vnder his corded girdle, with a paire of trime white hose’; W. Bullein, A Dialogue against the Feuer (E. E. T. S.), p. 68. See Tuck in Skeat, Etym. Dict.
622.hind-r-este, hindermost; a curious form, combining both the comparative and superlative suffixes. Cf. ov-er-est, l. 290.
623.Somnour, summoner; an officer employed to summon delinquents to appear in ecclesiastical courts; now called an apparitor. ‘The ecclesiastical courts . . . determined all causes matrimonial and testamentary. . . . They had besides to enforce the payment of tithes and church dues, and were charged with disciplinary power for punishment of adultery, fornication, perjury, and other vices which did not come under the common law. The reputation of the summoner is enough to show how abuses pervaded the action of these courts. Prof. Stubbs has summed up the case concerning them in his Constitutional History, iii. 373.’—Wyclif’s Works, ed. Matthew, note at p. 514. For further information as to the summoner’s character, see the Frere’s Tale, D. 1299–1374.
624.cherubinnes face. H. Stephens, Apologie for Herodotus, i. c. 30, quotes the same thought from a French epigram—‘Nos grands docteurs au cherubin visage.’—T. Observe that cherubin (put for cherubim) is a plural form. ‘As the pl. was popularly much better known than the singular (e.g. in the Te Deum), the Romanic forms were all fashioned on cherubin, viz. Ital. cherubino, Span. querubin, Port. querubin, cherubin, F. cherubin’; New English Dictionary. Cherubs were generally painted red, a fact which became proverbial, as here. Cotgrave has: ‘Rouge comme un cherubin, red-faced, cherubin-faced, having a fierie facies like a Cherubin.’ Mrs. Jameson, in her Sacred and Legendary Art, has unluckily made the cherubim blue, and the seraphim red; the contrary was the accepted rule.
625.sawcefleem or sawsfleem, having a red pimpled face; lit. afflicted with pimples, &c., supposed to be caused by too much salt phlegm (salsum phlegma) in the constitution. The four humours of the blood, and the four consequent temperaments, are constantly referred to in various ways by early writers—by Chaucer as much as by any. Tyrwhitt quotes from an O. French book on physic (in MS. Bodley 761)—‘Oignement magistrel pur sausefleme et pur chescune manere de roigne,’ where roigne signifies any scorbutic eruption. ‘So (he adds) in the Thousand Notable Things, B. i. 70—“A sawsfleame or red pimpled face is helped with this medicine following:”—two of the ingredients are quicksilver and brimstone. In another place, B. ii. 20, oyle of tartar is said “to take away cleane all spots, freckles, and filthy wheales.” ’ He also quotes, in his Glossary, from MS. Bodley 2463—‘unguentum contra salsum flegma, scabiem, &c.’ Flewme in the Prompt. Parv. answers to Lat. phlegma. See the long note by J. Addis in N. and Q. 4 S. iv. 64; Babees Book, ed. Furnivall, p. 169, l. 777. ‘The Greke word that he vsed was ἐξανθήματα, that is, little pimples or pushes, soche as, of cholere and salse flegme, budden out in the noses and faces of many persones, and are called the Saphires and Rubies of the Tauerne.’—Udall, tr. of Erasmus’ Apophthegmes, Diogenes, § 6: [printed false flegme in ed. 1877.] See l. 420.
627.scalled, having the scall or scab, scabby, scurfy. blake, black.
piled, deprived of hair, thin, slight. Cf. E. peel, vb. Palsgrave has—‘Pylled, as one that wanteth heare’; and ‘Pylled, scal[l]ed.’
629.litarge, litharge, a name given to white lead.
ceruce, ceruse, a cosmetic made from white lead; see New E. Dict. oille of tartre, cream of tartar; potassium bitartrate.
632. Cf. ‘Such whelkes [on the head] haue small hoales, out of the which matter commeth. . . . And this euill commeth of vicious and gleymie [viscous] humour, which commeth to the skin of their head, and breedeth therein pimples and whelks.’—Batman on Bartholomè, lib. 7. c. 3. In the same, lib. 7. c. 67, we read that ‘A sauce flume face is a priuye signe of leprosie.’ Cf. Shak. Hen. V. iii. 6. 108.
635. See Prov. xxxiii. 31. The drinking of strong wine accounts for the Somnour’s appearance. ‘Wyne . . . makith the uisage salce fleumed [misprinted falce flemed], rede, and fulle of white whelkes’; Knight de la Tour, p. 116 (perhaps copied from Chaucer).
643.Can clepen Watte, i.e. can call Walter (Wat) by his name; just as parrots are taught to say ‘Poll.’ In Political Songs, ed. Wright, p. 328, an ignorant priest is likened to a jay in a cage, to which is added: ‘Go[o]d Engelish he speketh, ac [but] he wot nevere what’; referring to the time when Anglo-French was the mother-tongue of many who became priests.
644. ‘But if any one could test him in any other point.’
646.Questio quid iuris. ‘This kind of question occurs frequently in Ralph de Hengham. After having stated a case, he adds, quid juris, and then proceeds to give an answer to it.’—T. It means—‘the question is, what law (is there)?’ i.e. what is the law on this point?
647.harlot, fellow, usually one of low conduct; but originally merely a young person, without implication of reproach. See D. 1754.
649. ‘For a bribe of a quart of wine, he would allow a boon companion of his to lead a vicious life for a whole year, and entirely excuse him; moreover (on the other hand) he knew very well how to pluck a finch,’ i.e. how to get all the feathers off any inexperienced person whom it was worth his while to cheat. Cf. ‘a pulled hen’ in l. 177. With reference to the treatment of the poor by usurers, &c., we read in the Rom. of the Rose, l. 6820, that ‘Withoute scalding they hem pulle,’ i.e. pluck them. And see Troil. i. 210.
654–7. ‘He would teach his friend in such a case (i.e. if his friend led an evil life) to stand in no awe of the archdeacon’s curse (excommunication), unless he supposed that his soul resided in his purse; for in his purse [not in his soul] he should be punished’ (i.e. by paying a good round sum he could release himself from the archdeacon’s curse). ‘Your purse (said he) is the hell to which the archdeacon really refers when he threatens you.’ See, particularly, Wyclif’s Works, ed. Matthew, pp. 35, 62, 496.
661.assoilling, absolution; from the vb. assoil.
662.war him of, i.e. let him beware of; war is the pres. subj.
significavit, i.e. of a writ de excommunicato capiendo [or excommunication] which usually began, ‘Significavit nobis venerabilis frater,’ &c.—T. See Significavit in Cowel or Blount.
663.In daunger, within his jurisdiction, within the reach or control of his office; the true sense of M. E. daunger is ‘control’ or ‘dominion.’ Thus, in the Romaunt of the Rose, l. 1470, we find:—
i.e. whom Love had got into his power. So also in l. 1049 of the same.
664.yonge girles, young people, of either sex. In the Coventry Mysteries, p. 181, there is mention of ‘knave gerlys,’ i.e. male children. And see gerles in the Gloss. to P. Plowman, and the note to the same, C. ii. 29.
665.and was al hir reed, and was wholly their adviser.
666, 667.gerland. A garland for an ale-stake was distinct from a bush. The latter was made of ivy-leaves; and every tavern had an ivy-bush hanging in front as its sign; hence the phrase, ‘Good wine needs no bush,’ &c. But the garland, often used in addition to the bush, was made of three equal hoops, at right angles to each other, and decorated with ribands. It was also called a hoop. The sompnour wore only a single hoop or circlet, adorned with large flowers (apparently roses), according to his picture in the Ellesmere MS. Emelye, in the Knightes Tale, is described as gathering white and red flowers to make ‘a sotil gerland’ for her head; A. 1054. ‘Garlands of flowers were often worn on festivals, especially in ecclesiastical processions’; Rock, Church of our Fathers, ii. 72. Some garlands, worn on the head, were made of metal; see Riley, Memorials of London, p. 133.
667.ale-stake, a support for a garland in front of an ale-house. For a picture of an ale-stake with a garland, see Hotten’s Book of Signboards. The position of it was such that it did not stand upright, but projected horizontally from the side of a tavern at some height from the ground, as shewn in Larwood and Hotten’s Book of Signboards. Hence the enactments made, that it should never extend above the roadway for more than seven feet; see Liber Albus, ed. H. T. Riley, 1861, pp. 292, 389. Speght wrongly explained ale-stake as ‘a Maypole,’ and has misled many others, including Chatterton, who thus was led to write the absurd line—‘Around the ale-stake minstrels sing the song’; Ælla, st. 30. ‘At the ale-stake’ is correct; see C. 321.
669. As to the character of the Pardoner, see further in the Pardoner’s Prologue, C. 329–462; P. Plowman, B. prol. 68–82; Heywood’s Interlude of the Four Ps, which includes a shameless plagiarism from Chaucer’s Pardoner’s Prologue; and Sir David Lyndesay’s Satire of the Three Estaits, l. 2037. Cf. note to C. 349. See also the Essay on Chaucer’s Pardoner and the Pope’s Pardoners, by Dr. J. Jusserand, in the Essays on Chaucer (Chaucer Society), p. 423; and the Chapter on Pardoners in Jusserand’s English Wayfaring Life. Jusserand shews that Chaucer has not in the least exaggerated; for exaggeration was not possible.
670.Of Rouncival. Of course the Pardoner was an Englishman, so that he could hardly belong to Roncevaux, in Navarre. The reference is clearly to the hospital of the Blessed Mary of Rouncyvalle, in the parish of St. Martin in the Fields, at Charing (London), mentioned in Dugdale’s Monasticon, ii. 443. Stow gives its date of foundation as the 15th year of Edward IV., but this was only a revival of it, after it had been suppressed by Henry V. It was a ‘cell’ to the Priory of Roncevaux in Navarre. See Todd’s Illustrations of Gower, p. 263: and Rouncival in Nares. Cf. note to l. 172.
672.Com hider, love, to me. ‘This, I suppose, was the beginning or the burthen of some known song.’—Tyrwhitt. It is quoted again in l. 763 of the poem called ‘The Pearl,’ in the form—‘Come hyder to me, my lemman swete.’ hider, hither.
The rime of tó me with Róme should be particularly noted, as it enables even the reader who is least skilled in English phonology to perceive that Ro-me was really dissyllabic, and that the final e in such words was really pronounced. Similarly, in Octouian Imperator, ed. Weber, l. 1887, we find seint Ja-mè, riming with frá me (from me). Perhaps the most amusing example of editorial incompetence is seen in the frequent occurrence of the mysterious word byme in Pauli’s edition of Gower; as, e.g. in bk. iii. vol. i. p. 370:—
Of course, by me should have been printed as two words, riming with ti-mè. This is what happens when grammatical facts are ignored. Time is dissyllabic, because it represents the A.S. tīma, which is never reduced to a monosyllable in A.S.
673.bar . . . a stif burdoun, sang the bass. See A. 4165, and N. and Q. 4 S. vi. 117, 255. Cf. Fr. bourdon, the name of a deep organ-stop.
675, 676.wex, wax. heng, hung. stryke of flex, hank of flax.
677.By ounces, in small portions or thin clusters.
679.colpons, portions; the same word as mod. E. coupon.
680.for Iolitee, for greater comfort. He thought it pleasanter to wear only a cap (l. 683). wered, wore; see l. 75. Cf. G. 571, and the note.
682.the newe Iet, the new fashion, which is described in ll. 680–683.
‘Newe Iette, guise nouelle’; Palsgrave.
683.Dischevele, with his hair hanging loose.
685.vernicle, a small copy of the ‘vernicle’ at Rome. Vernicle is ‘a diminutive of Veronike (Veronica), a copy in miniature of the picture of Christ, which is supposed to have been miraculously imprinted upon a handkerchief preserved in the church of St. Peter at Rome. . . It was usual for persons returning from pilgrimages to bring with them certain tokens of the several places which they had visited; and therefore the Pardoner, who is just arrived from Rome, is represented with a vernicle sowed on his cappe.’—Tyrwhitt. See the description of a pilgrim in Piers Plowman, ed. Skeat, B. v. 530, and the note. The legend was invented to explain the name. First the name of Bernice, taken from the Acts, was assigned to the woman who was cured by Christ of an issue of blood. Next, Bernice, otherwise Veronica, was (wrongly) explained as meaning vera icon (i. e. true likeness), which was assigned as the name of a handkerchief on which the features of Christ were miraculously impressed. Copies of this portrait were called Veronicae or Veroniculae, in English vernicles, and were obtainable by pilgrims to Rome. There was also a later St. Veronica, who died in 1497, after Chaucer’s time, and whose day is Jan. 13.
See Legends of the Holy Rood, ed. Morris, pp. 170, 171; Mrs. Jameson’s Sacred and Legendary Art, ii. 269; Lady Eastlake’s History of our Lord, i. 41; Rock, Church of our Fathers, iii. pt. i. p. 438; and the picture of the vernicle in Chambers, Book of Days, i. 101.
687.Bret-ful of pardon, brim-full (top-full, full to the top) of indulgences. Cf. Swed. bräddfull, brimful; from brädd, a brim. See A. 2164; Ho. of Fame, 2123.
692.fro Berwik, from Berwick to Ware (in Hertfordshire), from North to South of England. See the similar phrase—‘From Barwick to Dover, three hundred miles over’—in Pegge’s Kenticisms (E.D.S.), p. 70.
694.male, bag; cf. E. mail-bag.
pilwebeer, pillow-case. Cf. Low. G. büren, a case (for a pillow), Icel. ver, Dan. vaar, a cover for a pillow. The form pillow-bear occurs as a Cheshire word as late as 1782; N. and Q. 6 S. xii. 217.
696.gobet, a small portion; O. F. gobet, a morsel; gober, to devour.
698.hente, caught hold of; from A. S. hentan, to seize.
699. ‘A cross made of latoun, set full of (probably counterfeit) precious stones.’ Latoun was a mixed metal, of the same colour as, and closely resembling, the modern metal called pinchbeck, from the name of the inventor. It was chiefly composed of copper and zinc. See further in the note to C. 350; and cf. F. 1245.
701. Cf. Wyclif’s Works, ed. Matthew, p. 154; and the note to C. 349.
702.up-on lond, in the country. Country people used to be called uplondish men. Jack Upland is the name of a satire against the friars.
705, 706.Iapes, deceits, tricks. his apes, his dupes; cf. A. 3389.
710.alder-best, best of all; alder is a later form of aller, from A.S. ealra, of all, gen. pl. of eal, all. See ll. 586, 823.
712.affyle, file down, make smooth. Cf. ‘affile His tunge’; Gower, C. A. i. 296; ‘gan newe his tunge affyle,’ Troil. ii. 1681; ‘his tongue [is] filed’; Love’s Labour’s Lost, v. i. 12. So also Spenser, F. Q. i. 1. 35; iii. 2. 12; Skelton, Colin Clout, 852.
716.Thestat, tharray = the estate, the array: the coalescence of the article with the noun is very common in Middle English.
719.highte, was named; cf. A. S. hātan, (1) to call, (2) to be called, to be named (with a passive sense).
721. ‘How we conducted ourselves that same night.’
726. ‘That ye ascribe it not to my ill-breeding.’ narette, for ne arette. From O.F. aretter, to ascribe, impute; from Lat. ad and reputare; see Aret in the New E. Dict. Also spelt arate, with the sense ‘to chide’; whence mod. E. to rate. So here the poet implies—‘do not rate me for my ill-breeding.’ The argument here used is derived from Le Roman de la Rose, 15361–96.
727.pleynly speke (Elles. &c.); speke al pleyn (Harl.).
731.shal telle, has to tell. after, according to, just like.
734.Al speke he, although he speak. See al have I, l. 744.
738. ‘He is bound to say one word as much as another.’
741, 742. This saying of Plato is taken from Boethius, De Consolatione, bk. iii. pr. 12, which Chaucer translates: ‘Thou hast lerned by the sentence of Plato, that nedes the wordes moten be cosines to the thinges of which they speken’; see vol. ii. p. 90, l. 151. In Le Roman de la Rose, 7131, Jean de Meun says that Plato tells us, speech was given us to express our wishes and thoughts, and proceeds to argue that men ought to use coarse language. Chaucer was thinking of this singular argument. We also find in Le Roman (l. 15392) an exactly parallel passage, which means in English, ‘the saying ought to resemble the deed; for the words, being neighbours to the things, ought to be cousins to their deeds.’ In the original French, these passages stand thus:—
So also in the Manciple’s Tale, H. 208.
744. ‘Although I have not,’ &c. Cf. l. 734.
747.Our hoste. It has been remarked that from this character Shakespeare’s ‘mine host of the Garter’ in the Merry Wives of Windsor is obviously derived.
752. The duty of the ‘marshal of the hall’ was to place every one according to his rank at public festivals, and to preserve order. See Babees Book, p. 310. Cf. Spenser, F. Q. v. 9. 23; Gower, Conf. Amant. iii. 299. Even Milton speaks of a ‘marshall’d feast’; P. L. ix. 37.
753.stepe, bright; see note to l. 201.
754.Chepe, i. e. Cheapside, in London.
760.maad our rekeninges, i. e. paid our scores.
764.I saught nat (Elles. &c.); I ne saugh (Harl.). To scan the line, read I n’ saugh, dropping the e in ne. The insertion of ne is essential to the sense, viz. ‘I have not seen.’
765.herberwe, inn, lit. harbour. The F. auberge is from the O.H.G. form of the same word.
770. ‘May the blessed martyr duly reward you!’
772.shapen yow, intend; cf. l. 809. talen, to tell tales.
777.yow lyketh alle, it pleases you all; yow is in the dat. case, as in the mod. E. ‘if you please.’ See note to l. 37.
783. ‘Hold up your hands’; to signify assent.
785.to make it wys, to make it a matter of wisdom or deliberation; so also made it strange, made it a matter of difficulty, A. 3980.
791. ‘To shorten your way with.’ In M. E., the prep. with always comes next the verb in phrases of this character. Most MSS. read our for your here, but this is rather premature. The host introduces his proposal to accompany the pilgrims by the use of our in l. 799, and we in l. 801; the proposal itself comes in l. 803.
792. As to the number of the tales, see vol. iii. pp. 374, 384.
798. ‘Tales best suited to instruct and amuse.’
799.our aller cost, the expense of us all; here our = A. S. ūre, of us; see ll. 710, 823.
808.mo, more; A. S. mā. In M. E., mo generally means ‘more in number,’ whilst more means ‘larger,’ from A. S. māra. Cf. l. 849.
810.and our othes swore, and we swore our oaths; see next line.
817.In heigh and lowe. ‘Lat. In, or de alto et basso, Fr. de haut en bas, were expressions of entire submission on one side, and sovereignty on the other.’—Tyrwhitt. Cotgrave (s. v. Bas) has:—‘Taillables haut et bas, taxable at the will and pleasure of their lord.’ It here means—‘under all circumstances.’
819.fet, fetched; from A. S. fetian, to fetch, pp. fetod.
822.day. It is the morning of the 17th of April. See note to l. 1.
823.our aller cok, cock of us all, i. e. cock to awake us all. our aller = A. S. ūre ealra, both in gen. pl.
825.riden, rode; pt. t. pl., as in l. 856. The i is short.
pas, a foot-pace. Cf. A. 2897; C. 866; G. 575; Troil. ii. 627.
826.St. Thomas a Waterings was a place for watering horses, at a brook beside the second mile-stone on the road to St. Thomas’s shrine, i.e. to Canterbury. It was a place anciently used for executions in the county of Surrey, as Tyburn was in that of Middlesex. See Nares, s. v. Waterings.
828.if yow leste, if it may please you. The verb listen made liste in the past tense; but Chaucer changes the verb to the form lesten, pt. t. leste, probably for the sake of the rime. See ll. 750 and 102. In the Knightes Tale, A. 1052, as hir liste rimes with upriste.
The true explanation is, that the A. S. y had the sound of mod. G. ü. In Mid. Eng., this was variably treated, usually becoming either i or u; so that, e.g., the A. S. pyt (a pit) became M. E. pit or put, the former of which has survived. But, in Kentish, the form was pet; and it is remarkable that Chaucer sometimes deliberately adopts Kentish forms, as here, for the sake of the rime. A striking example is seen in fulfelle for fulfille, in Troil. iii. 510, to rime with telle. He usually has fulfille, as below, in A. 1318, 2478.
829.Ye woot, ye know. Really false grammar, as the pl. of woot (originally a past tense) is properly witen, just as the pl. of rood is riden in l. 825. As woot was used as a present tense, its original form was forgotten. ‘Ye know your agreement, and I recall it to your memory.’ See l. 33.
830. ‘If even-song and matins agree’; i.e. if you still say now what you said last night.
832. ‘As ever may I be able to drink’; i.e. As surely as I ever hope to be able, &c. Cf. B. 4490, &c.
833.be, may be (subjunctive mood).
835.draweth cut, draw lots; see C. 793–804. The Gloss. to Allan Ramsay’s poems, ed. 1721, has—‘cutts, lots. These cuts are usually made of straws unequally cut, which one hides between his finger and thumb, whilst another draws his fate’; but the verb to cut is unallied. See Brand, Pop. Antiq., iii. 337. The one who drew the shortest (or else the longest) straw was the one who drew the lot. Cf. ‘Sors, a kut, or a lotte’; Reliquiae Antiquae, i. 7. ‘After supper, we drew cuttes for a score of apricoks, the longest cut stil to draw an apricoke’; Marston, Induction to The Malcontent.
ferrer twinne, depart further. Here ferrer is the comp. of fer, far. Twinnen is to separate, part in twain; hence, to depart.
844.sort, lot, destiny; O. F. sort; cf. E. sort.
847.as was resoun, as was reasonable or right.
848.forward, agreement, as in l. 33. compositioun has almost exactly the same sense, but is of French origin.
853.shal biginne, have to begin.
854.What; used interjectionally, like the modern E. ‘why!’
a, in. Here a is for an, a form of on; the A. S. on is constantly used with the sense of ‘in.’
856.riden, rode; pt. pl. See l. 825.
The Knightes Tale.
For general remarks on this tale, see vol. iii. p. 389.
It is only possible to give here a mere general idea of the way in which the Knightes Tale is related to the Teseide of Boccaccio. The following table gives a sketch of it, but includes many lines wherein Chaucer is quite original. The references to the Knightes Tale are to the lines of group A (as in the text); those to the Teseide are to the books and stanzas.
The MSS. quote a line and a half from Statius, Thebaid, xii. 519, 520, because Chaucer is referring to that passage in his introductory lines to this tale; see particularly ll. 866, 869, 870.
There is yet another reason for quoting this scrap of Latin, viz. that it is also quoted in the Poem of Anelida and Arcite, at l. 22, where the ‘Story’ of that poem begins; and ll. 22–25 of Anelida give a fairly close translation of it. From this and other indications, it appears that Chaucer first of all imitated Boccaccio’s Teseide (more or less closely) in the poem which he himself calls ‘Palamon and Arcite,’ of which but scanty traces exist in the original form; and this poem was in 7-line stanzas. He afterwards recast the whole, at the same time changing the metre; and the result was the Knightes Tale, as we here have it. Thus the Knightes Tale is not derived immediately from Boccaccio or from Statius, but through the medium of an older poem of Chaucer’s own composition. Fragments of the same poem were used by the author in other compositions; and the result is, that the Teseide of Boccaccio is the source of (1) sixteen stanzas in the Parliament of Foules; (2) of part of the first ten stanzas in Anelida; (3) of three stanzas near the end of Troilus (Tes. xi. 1-3); as well as of the original Palamon and Arcite and of the Knightes Tale.
Hence it is that ll. 859–874 and ll. 964–981 should be compared with Chaucer’s Anelida, ll. 22–46, as printed in vol. i. p. 366. Lines 882 and 972 are borrowed from that poem with but slight alteration.
859. The lines from Statius, Theb. xii. 519–22, to which reference is made in the heading, relate to the return of Theseus to Athens after his conquest of Hippolyta, and are as follows:—
860.Theseus, the great legendary hero of Attica, is the subject of Boccaccio’s poem named after him the Teseide. He is also the hero of the Legend of Ariadne, as told in Chaucer’s Legend of Good Women. After deserting Ariadne, he succeeded his father Aegeus as king of Athens, and conducted an expedition against the Amazons, from which he returned in triumph, having carried off their queen Antiope, here named Hippolyta.
861.governour. It should be observed that Chaucer continually accents words of Anglo-French origin in the original manner, viz. on the last or on the penultimate syllable. Thus we have here governóur and conqueróur; in l. 865, chivalrý-e; in l. 869, contrée; in l. 876, manére, &c. The most remarkable examples are when the words end in -oun (ll. 893, 935).
864.cóntree is here accented on the first syllable; in l. 869, on the last. This is a good example of the unsettled state of the accents of such words in Chaucer’s time, which afforded him an opportunity of licence, which he freely uses. In fact, cóntree shows the English, and contrée, the French accent.
865.chivalrye, knightly exploits. In i. 878, chivalrye means ‘knights’; mod. E. chivalry. So also in l. 982.
866.regne of Femenye, the kingdom (Lat. regnum) of the Amazons. Femenye is from Lat. femina, a woman. Cf. Statius, Theb. xii. 578. ‘Amazonia, womens land, is a Country, parte in Asia and parte in Europa, and is nigh Albania; and hath that name of Amazonia of women that were the wives of the men that were called Goths, the which men went out of the nether Scithia, as Isidore seith, li. 9.’—Batman upon Bartholomè, lib. xv. c. 12. Cf. Higden’s Polychronicon, lib. i. cap. xviii; and Gower, Conf. Amant., ii. 73:—
867.Scithea, Scythia. Cf. Scythicae in the quotation from Statius in note to l. 859.
868.Ipolita, Shakespeare’s Hippolyta, in Mids. Night’s Dream. The name is in Statius, Theb. xii. 534, spelt Hippolyte.
880. In this line, Athenes seems to mean ‘Athenians,’ though elsewhere it means ‘Athens.’ Athénès is trisyllabic.
884.tempest. As there is no mention of a tempest in Boccaccio, Tyrwhitt proposed to alter the reading to temple, as there is some mention of Theseus offering in the temple of Pallas. But it is very unlikely that this would be alluded to by the mere word temple; and we must accept the reading tempest, as in all the seven MSS. and in the old editions.
I think the solution is to be found by referring to Statius. Chaucer seems to have remembered that a tempest is there described (Theb. xii. 650–5), but to have forgotten that it is merely introduced by way of simile. In fact, when Theseus determines to attack Creon (see l. 960), the advance of his host is likened by Statius to the effect of a tempest. The lines are:—
885.as now, at present, at this time. Cf. the M.E. adverbs as-swithe, as-sone, immediately. From the Rom. de la Rose, 21479:—
889.I wol nat letten eek noon of this route, I desire not to hinder eke (also) none of all this company. Wol = desire; cf. ‘I will have mercy,’ &c.
890.aboute, i. e. in his turn, one after the other; corresponding to the sense ‘in rotation, in succession,’ given in the New English Dictionary. This sense of the word in this passage was pointed out by Dr. Kölbing in Engl. Studien, ii. 531. He instanced a similar use of the word in the Ormulum, l. 550, where the sense is—‘and ay, whensoever that flock of priests, being twenty-four in number, had all served once about in the temple.’
901.crëature is here a word of three syllables. In l. 1106 it has four syllables.
903.nolde, would not: the A. S. nolde is the pt. t. of nyllan, equivalent to ne willan, not to wish; cf. Lat. noluit, from nolle.
stenten, stop. ‘It stinted, and said aye.’—Romeo and Juliet, i. 3. 48.
908.that thus, i. e. ye that thus.
911.clothed thus (Elles.); clad thus al (Harl.).
912.alle is to be pronounced al-lè. Tyrwhitt inserts than, then, after alle, against the authority of the best MSS. and of the old editions.
Statius (Theb. xii. 545) calls this lady Capaneia coniux; see l. 932, below. He says all the ladies were from Argos, and their husbands were kings.
913.a deedly chere, a deathly countenance or look.
918.we biseken, we beseech, ask for. For such double forms as beseken and besechen, cf. mod. Eng. dike and ditch, kirk and chirch, sack and satchel, stick and stitch. In the Early Eng. period the harder forms with k were very frequently employed by Northern writers, who preferred them to the palatalised Southern forms (perhaps influenced by Anglo-French) with ch. Cf. M. E. brig and rigg with bridge and ridge.
926. This line means ‘that ensureth no estate to be (always) good.’ Suggested by Boethius; see bk. ii. pr. 2. ll. 37–41 (vol. ii. p. 27).
928.Clemence, Clemency, Pity. Suggested by ‘il tempio . . . di Clemenza,’ Tes. ii. 17; which again is from ‘mitis posuit Clementia sedem,’ Theb. xii. 482.
932.Capaneus, one of the seven heroes who besieged Thebes: struck dead by lightning as he was scaling the walls of the city, because he had defied Zeus; Theb. x. 927. See note to l. 912, above.
937. The celebrated siege of ‘The Seven against Thebes’; Capaneus being one of the seven kings.
941.for despyt, out of vexation; mod. E. ‘for spite.’
942.To do the dede bodyes vileinye, to treat the dead bodies shamefully.
948.withouten more respyt, without longer delay.
949.They fillen gruf, they fell flat with the face to the ground. In M. E. we find the phrase to fall grovelinges or to fall groveling. See Gruflynge and Ogrufe in the Catholicon Anglicum, and the editor’s notes, pp. 166, 259.
954.Himthoughte, it seemed to him; cf. methinks, it seems to me. In M. E. the verbs like, list, seem, rue (pity), are used impersonally, and take the dative case of the pronoun. Cf. the modern expression ‘if you please’=if it be pleasing to you.
955.mat, dejected. ‘Ententyfly, not feynt, wery ne mate.’—Hardyng, p. 129.—M.
960.ferforthly, i. e. far-forth-like, to such an extent.
965.abood, delay, awaiting, abiding.
966.His baner he desplayeth, i. e. he summons his troops to assemble for military service.
968.No neer, no nearer. Accent Athén-es on the second syllable; but in l. 973 it is accented on the first.
970.lay, lodged for the night.
975.státue, the image, as depicted on the banner.
977.feeldes, field, is an heraldic term for the ground upon which the various charges, as they are called, are emblazoned. Some of this description was suggested by the Thebais, lib. xii. 665, &c.; but the resemblance is very slight.
978.penoun, pennon. y-bete, beaten; the gold being hammered out into a thin foil in the shape of the Minotaur; see Marco Polo, ed. Yule, i. 344. But, in the Thebais, the Minotaur is upon Theseus’ shield.
988.In pleyn bataille, in open or fair fight.
993.obséquies (Elles., &c.); exéquies (Harl.); accented on the second syllable.
1004.as him leste, as it pleased him.
1005.tas, heap, collection. Some MSS. read cas (caas), which might=downfall, ruin, Lat. casus; but, as c and t are constantly confused, this reading is really due to a mere blunder. Gower speaks of gathering ‘a tasse’ of sticks; Conf. Amant. bk. v. ed. Pauli, ii. 293. Palsgrave has—‘On a heape, en vng tas’; p. 840. Hexham’s Dutch Dict. (1658) has—‘een Tas, a Shock, a Pile, or a Heape.’ Chaucer found the word in Le Roman de la Rose, 14870: ‘ung tas de paille,’ a heap of straw.
1006.harneys. ‘And arma be not taken onely for the instruments of al maner of crafts, but also for harneys and weapon; also standards and banners, and sometimes battels.’—Bossewell’s Armorie, p. 1, ed. 1597. Cf. l. 1613.
1010.Thurgh-girt, pierced through. This line is taken from Troilus, iv. 627: ‘Thourgh-girt with many a wyd and blody wounde.’
1011.liggyng by and by, lying near together, as in A. 4143; the usual old sense being ‘in succession,’ or ‘in order’; see examples in the New Eng. Dict., p. 1233, col. 3. In later English, by and by signifies presently, immediately, as ‘the end is not by and by.’
1012.in oon armes, in one (kind of) arms or armour, shewing that they belonged to the same house. Chaucer adapts ancient history to medieval time throughout his works.
1015.Nat fully quike, not wholly alive.
1016.by hir cote-armures, by their coat-armour, by the devices on the vest worn above the armour covering the breast. The cote-armure, as explained in my note to Barbour’s Bruce, xiii. 183, was ‘of no use as a defence, being made of a flimsy material; but was worn over the true armour of defence, and charged with armorial bearings’; see Ho. Fame, 1326. Cf. l. 1012. by hir gere, by their gear, i. e. equipments.
1018.they. Tyrwhitt (who relied too much on the black-letter editions) reads tho, those; but the seven best MSS. have they.
1023.Tathenes, to Athens (Harl. MS., which reads for to for to). Cf. tallegge, l. 3000 (foot-note).
1024.he nolde no raunsoun, he would accept of no ransom.
1029.Terme of his lyf, the remainder of his life. Cf. ‘The end and term of natural philosophy.’—Bacon’s Advancement of Learning, Bk. ii. p. 129, ed. Aldis Wright.
1035. Cf. Leg. of Good Women, 2425, 2426.
1038.stroof hir hewe, strove her hue; i.e. her complexion contested the superiority with the rose’s colour.
1039.I noot, I know not; noot=ne woot.
1047.May. ‘Against Maie, every parishe, towne, and village, assembled themselves together, bothe men, women, and children, olde and yonge, even all indifferently, and either going all together or devidyng themselves into companies, they goe, some to the woodes and groves, some to the hills and mountaines, some to one place, some to another, where they spend all the night in pastimes; in the morninge they return, bringing with them birche, bowes and branches of trees, to deck their assemblies withalle.’—Stubbes, Anatomy of Abuses, ed. 1585, leaf 94 (ed. Furnivall, p. 149). See also Strutt, Manners and Customs, iii. 177. Cf. Midsummer Night’s Dream, i. 1. 167:—
‘To do observance to a morn of May.’
See also l. 1500, and the note.
1049.Hir yelow heer was broyded, her yellow hair was braided. Yellow hair was esteemed a beauty; see Seven Sages, 477, ed. Weber; King Alisaunder, 207; and the instances in Burton, Anat. of Melancholy, pt. 3. sec. 2. mem. 2. subsec. 2. Boccaccio has here—‘Co’ biondi crini avvolti alla sua testa’; Tes. iii. 10.
1051.the sonne upriste, the sun’s uprising; the -e in sonne represents the old genitive inflexion. Upriste is here the dat. of the sb. uprist. It occurs also in Gower, Conf. Amantis, bk. i. ed. Pauli, i. 116.
1052.as hir liste, as it pleased her.
1053.party, partly; Fr. en partie.
1054.sotil gerland, a subtle garland; subtle has here the exact force of the Lat. subtilis, finely woven.
1055. Cf. ‘Con angelica voce’; Tes. iii. 10: and Troil. ii. 826.
1060.evene-Ioynant, joining, or adjoining.
1061.Ther as this Emelye hadde hir pleyinge, i. e. where she was amusing herself.
1063. In the Teseide (iii. 11) it is Arcite who first sees Emily.
1074.by aventure or cas, by adventure or hap.
1076.sparre, a square wooden bolt; the bars, which were of iron, were as thick as they must have been if wooden. See l. 990.
1078.bleynte, the past tense of blenche or blenke (to blench), to start, draw back suddenly. Cf. dreynte, pt. t. of drenchen. ‘Tutto stordito, Gridò, Omè!’ Tes. iii. 17.
1087.Som wikke aspect. Cf. ‘wykked planete, as Saturne or Mars,’ Astrolabe, ii. 4. 22; notes in Wright’s edition, ll. 2453, 2457; and Piers the Plowman, B. vi. 327; and see Leg. of Good Women, 2590–7. Add to these the description of Saturn: ‘Significat in quartanis, lepra, scabie, in mania, carcere, submersione, &c. Est infortuna.’—Johannis Hispalensis, Isagoge in Astrologiam, cap. xv. See A. 1328, 2469.
1089.al-though, &c., although we had sworn to the contrary. Cf. ‘And can nought flee, if I had it sworn’; Lydgate, Dance of Machabre (The Sergeaunt). Also—‘he may himselfe not sustene Upon his feet, though he had it sworne’; Lydgate, Siege of Thebes (The Sphinx), pt. i.
1091.the short and pleyn, the brief and manifest statement of the case. Pronounce this is as this; as frequently elsewhere; see l. 1743, E. 56, F. 889.
1100. Cf. ‘That cause is of my torment and my sorwe’: Troil. v. 654.
1101. Cf. ‘But whether goddesse or womman, y-wis, She be, I noot’; Troil. i. 425.
wher, a very common form for whether.
1105.Yow (used reflexively), yourself.
1106.wrecche, wretched, is a word of two syllables, like wikke, wicked, where the d is a later and unnecessary addition.
1108.shapen, shaped, determined. ‘Shapes our ends.’—Shakespeare, Hamlet, v. 2. 10. Cf. l. 1225.
1120. ‘And except I have her pity and her favour.’
1121.atte leeste weye, at the least. Cf. leastwise=at the leastwise: ‘at leastwise’; Bacon’s Advancement of Learning, ed. Wright, p. 146, l. 23. See English Bible (Preface of ‘The Translators to the Reader’).
1122. ‘I am not but (no better than) dead, there is no more to say.’ Chaucer uses ne—but much in the same way as the Fr. ne—que. Cf. North English ‘I’m nobbut clemmed’=I am almost dead of hunger.
1126.by my fey, by my faith, in good faith.
1127.me list ful yvele pleye, it pleaseth me very badly to play.
1128. This debate is an imitation of the longer debate (in the Teseide), where Palamon and Arcite meet in the grove; cf. l. 1580 below.
1129.It nere=it were not, it would not be.
1132. ‘It was a common practice in the middle ages for persons to take formal oaths of fraternity and friendship; and a breach of the oath was considered something worse than perjury. This incident enters into the plots of some of the medieval romances. A curious example will be found in the Romance of Athelston; Reliquiæ Antiquæ, ii. 85.’—Wright. A note in Bell’s Chaucer reminds us that instances occur also in the old heroic times; as in the cases of Theseus and Peirithous, Achilles and Patroclus, Pylades and Orestes, Nysus and Euryalus. See Sworn Brothers in Nares’ Glossary; Rom. of the Rose, 2884.
1133. ‘That never, even though it cost us a miserable death, a death by torture.’ So in Troilus, i. 674: ‘That certayn, for to deyen in the peyne.’ Also in the E. version of The Romaunt of the Rose, 3326.
1134. ‘Till that death shall part us two.’ Cf. the ingenious alteration in the Marriage Service, where the phrase ‘till death us depart’ was altered into ‘do part’ in 1661.
1136.cas, case. It properly means event, hap. See l. 1074.
my leve brother, my dear brother.
1141.out of doute, without doubt, doubtless.
1147.to my counseil, to my adviser. See l. 1161.
1151.I dar wel seyn, I dare maintain.
1153.Thou shalt be. Chaucer occasionally uses shall in the sense of owe, so that the true sense of I shall is I owe (Lat. debeo); it expresses a strong obligation. So here it is not so much the sign of a future tense as a separate verb, and the sense is ‘Thou art sure to be false sooner than I am.’
1155.par amour, with love, in the way of love. To love par amour is an old phrase for to love excessively. Cf. Bruce, xiii. 485; and see A. 2112, below; Troil. v. 158, 332.
1158.affeccioun of holinesse, a sacred affection, or aspiration after.
1162.I pose, I put the case, I will suppose.
1163. ‘Knowest thou not well the old writer’s saying?’ The olde clerk is Boethius, from whose book, De Consolatione Philosophiae, Chaucer has borrowed largely in many places. The passage alluded to is in lib. iii. met. 12:—
Chaucer’s translation (vol. ii. p. 92, l. 37) has—‘But what is he that may yive a lawe to loveres? Love is a gretter lawe . . . than any lawe that men may yeven.’ And see Troil. iv. 618.
1167.and swich decree, and (all) such ordinances.
1168.in ech degree, in every rank of life.
1172.And eek it is, &c., ‘and moreover it is not likely that ever in all thy life thou wilt stand in her favour.’
1177. This fable, in this particular form, is not in any of the usual collections; but it is, practically, the same as that called ‘The Lion, the Tiger, and the Fox’ in Croxall’s Æsop. Sometimes it is ‘the Lion, the Bear, and the Fox’; the Fox subtracts the prey for which the others fight. It is no. 247 in Halm’s edition of the ‘Fabulae Æsopicae,’ Lips., Teubner, 1852, with the moral:—ὁ μυ̑θος δηλοι̑, ὅτι ἄλλων κοπιώντων ἄλλοι κερδαίνουσιν. In La Fontaine’s Fables, it appears as Les Voleurs et l’Âne. Thynne coolly altered kyte to cur, and then had to insert so after were to fill up the line.
1186.everich of us, each of us, every one of us.
1189.to theffect, to the result, or end.
1196. From the Legend of Good Women, 2282.
1200.in helle. An allusion to Theseus accompanying Pirithous in his expedition to carry off Proserpina, daughter of Aidoneus, king of the Molossians, when both were taken prisoner, and Pirithous torn in pieces by the dog Cerberus. At least, such is the story in Plutarch; see Shakespeare’s Plutarch, ed. Skeat, p. 289. Chaucer found the mention of Pirithous’ visit to Athens in Boccaccio’s Teseide, iii. 47–51. The rest he found in Le Roman de la Rose, 8186—
1201. Observe the expression to wryte, which shews that this story was not originally meant to be told. (Anglia, viii. 453.)
1212. Most MSS. read or stounde, i. e. or at any hour. MS. Dd. has o stound, one moment, any short interval of time.
‘The storme sesed within a stounde.’
Ywaine and Gawin, l. 384.
On this slight authority, Tyrwhitt altered the reading, and is followed by Wright and Bell, though MS. Hl. really has or like the rest, and the black-letter editions have the same.
1218.his nekke lyth to wedde, his neck is in jeopardy; lit. lies in pledge or in pawn.
1222.To sleen himself he wayteth prively, he watches for an opportunity to slay himself unperceived.
1223. This line, slightly altered, occurs also in the Legend of Good Women, 658.
1225.Now is me shape, now I am destined; literally, now is it shapen (or appointed) for me.
1247. It was supposed that all things were made of the four elements mentioned in l. 1246. ‘Does not our life consist of the four elements?’—Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, ii. 3. 10.
1255. Cf. P. Plowman, C. xiii. 236.
1257. ‘And another man would fain (get) out of his prison.’
1259.matere; in the matter of thinking to excel God’s providence.
1260. ‘We never know what thing it is that we pray for here below.’ See Romans viii. 26.
1261.dronke is as a mous. This phrase seems to have given way to ‘drunk as a rat.’ ‘Thus satte they swilling and carousyng, one to another, till they were both as dronke as rattes.’—Stubbes, Anatomie of Abuses; ed. Furnivall, p. 113.
Cf. ‘When that he is dronke as a dreynt mous’; Ritson, Ancient Songs, i. 70 (Man in the Moon, l. 31). ‘And I will pledge Tom Tosspot, till I be drunk as a mouse-a’; Old Plays, ed. Hazlitt, iii. 339. See also Skelton, Colin Clout, 803; and D. 246.
1262. This is from Boethius, De Consolatione, lib. iii. pr. 2: ‘But I retorne ayein to the studies of men, of whiche men the corage alwey reherseth and seketh the sovereyn good, al be it so that it be with a derked memorie; but he not by whiche path, right as a dronken man not nat by whiche path he may retorne him to his hous.’—Chaucer’s Translation of Boethius; vol. ii. p. 54, l. 57.
1264.slider, slippery; as in the Legend of Good Women, l. 648. Cf. the gloss—‘Lubricum, slidere’; Reliquiae Antiquae, i. 7.
1279.pure fettres, the very fetters. ‘So in the Duchesse, l. 583, the pure deeth. The Greeks used καθαρός in the same sense.’—Tyrwhitt.
1283.at thy large, at large. Cf. l. 2288.
1302. ‘White like box-wood, or ashen-gray’; cf. l. 1364. Cf. ‘And pale as box she wex’; Legend of Good Women, l. 866. Also ‘asshen pale and dede’; Troil. ii. 539.
1308. Copied in Lydgate’s Horse, Sheep, and Goose, 124:—‘But here this schepe, rukkyng in his folde.’ ‘Rukkun, or cowre down’; Prompt. Parv. In B. 4416, MSS. Cp. Pt. Ln. have rouking in place of lurking.
1317.to letten of his wille, to refrain from his will (or lusts).
1333. Cf. the phrase ‘paurosa gelosia’; Tes. v. 2.
1344.upon his heed, on pain of losing his head. ‘Froissart has sur sa teste, sur la teste, and sur peine de la teste.’—T.
1347.this question. ‘An implied allusion to the medieval courts of love, in which questions of this kind were seriously discussed.’—Wright.
1366.making his mone, making his complaint or moan.
1372. ‘In his changing mood, for all the world, he conducted himself not merely like one suffering from the lover’s disease of Eros, but rather (his disease was) like mania engendered of melancholy humour.’ This is one of the numerous allusions to the four humours, viz. the choleric, phlegmatic, sanguine, and melancholic. An excess of the latter was supposed to produce ‘melancholy madness.’ gere, flighty manner, changeableness; ‘Siche wilde gerys hade he mo’; Thornton Romances, Sir Percival, l. 1353. See note to l. 1536.
1376.in his celle fantastyk. Tyrwhitt reads Beforne his hed in his celle fantastike. Elles. has Biforn his owene celle fantastik. ‘The division of the brain into cells, according to the different sensitive faculties, is very ancient, and is found depicted in medieval manuscripts. The fantastic cell (fantasia) was in front of the head.’—Wright. Hence Biforen means ‘in the front part of his head.’
‘Madnesse is infection of the formost cel of the head, with priuation of imagination, lyke as melancholye is the infection of the middle cell of the head, with priuation of reason, as Constant. saith in libro de Melancolia. Melancolia (saith he) is an infection that hath mastry of the soule, the which commeth of dread and of sorrow. And these passions be diuerse after the diuersity of the hurt of their workings; for by madnesse that is called Mania, principally the imagination is hurt; and in the other reson is hurted.’—Batman upon Bartholomè, lib. vii. c. 6. Vincent of Beauvais, bk. xxviii. c. 41, cites a similar statement from the Liber de Anatomia, which begins:—‘Cerebrum itaque tribus cellulis est distinctum. Duae namque meringes cerebri faciunt tres plicaturas inter se denexas, in quibus tres sunt cellulae: phantastica scilicet ab anteriori parte capitis, in qua sedem habet imaginatio.’ So in Batman upon Bartholomè, lib. v. c. 3:—‘The Braine . . . is diuided in three celles or dens . . . In the formost cell . . . imagination is conformed and made; in the middle, reason; in the hindermost, recordation and minde’ [memory]. Cf. also Burton, Anat. of Melancholy, pt. 2. sec. 3. mem. 1. subsec. 2.
1385–8. Probably from Claudian, De Raptu Proserpinae, i. 77:—
See Lounsbury, Studies, ii. 382.
1390.Argus, Argus of the hundred eyes, whom Mercury charmed to sleep before slaying him. Ovid, Met. i. 714.
1401. Cf. ‘Hir face . . . Was al ychaunged in another kinde’; Troil. iv. 864.
1405.bar him lowe, conducted himself as one of low estate. Cf. E. 2013.
1409. Cf. ‘in maniera di pover valletto’; Tes. iv. 22.
1428. In the Teseide, iv. 3, he takes the name of Penteo. Philostrato is the name of another work by Boccaccio, answering to Chaucer’s Troilus. The Greek ϕιλόστρατος means, literally, ‘army-lover’; but it is to be noted that Boccaccio did not so understand it. He actually connected it with the Lat. stratus, and explained it to mean ‘vanquished or prostrated with love’; and this is how the name is here used.
1444.slyly, prudently, wisely. The M. E. sleigh, sly=wise, knowing: and sleight=wisdom, knowledge. (For change of meaning compare cunning, originally knowledge; craft, originally power; art, &c.)
1463. The third night is followed by the fourth day; so Palamon and Arcite meet on the 4th of May (l. 1574), which was a Friday (l. 1534); the first hour of which was dedicated to Venus (l. 1536) and to lovers’ vows (l. 1501). The 4th of May was a Friday in 1386.
1471.clarree. ‘The French term claré seems simply to have denoted a clear transparent wine, but in its most usual sense a compounded drink of wine with honey and spices, so delicious as to be comparable to the nectar of the gods. In Sloane MS. 2584, f. 173, the following directions are found for making clarré:—“Take a galoun of honi, and skome (skim) it wel, and loke whanne it is isoden (boiled), that ther be a galoun; thanne take viii galouns of red wyn, than take a pound of pouder canel (cinnamon), and half a pounde of pouder gynger, and a quarter of a pounde of pouder peper, and medle (mix) alle these thynges togeder and (with) the wyn; and do hym in a clene barelle, and stoppe it fast, and rolle it wel ofte sithes, as men don verious, iii dayes.” ’—Way; note to Prompt. Parv., p. 79. ‘The Craft to make Clarre’ is also given in Arnold’s Chronicle of London; and see the Gloss. to the Babees Book. See Rom. of the Rose, 5971.
1472. Burton mentions ‘opium Thebaicum,’ which produced stupefaction; Anat. Met. pt. 3. sec. 2. mem. 6. subsec. 2. The words ‘Opium Thebaicum’ are written in the margin in MSS. E. and Hn.
1477.nedes-cost, for needes coste, by the force of necessity. It seems to be equivalent to M.E. needes-wyse, of necessity. Alre-coste (Icelandic alls-kostar, in all respects) signifies ‘in every wise.’ It occurs in Old English Homilies (ed. Morris), part i. p. 21: ‘We ne maȝen alre-coste halden Crist(es) bibode,’ we are not able in every wise to keep Christ’s behests. The right reading in Leg. Good Women, 2697, is:—
‘And nedes cost this thing mot have an ende.’
1494. A beautiful line; but copied from Dante, Purg. i. 20—‘Faceva tutto rider l’oriente.’
1500. See note to l. 1047, where the parallel line from Shakespeare is quoted. And cf. Troil. ii. 112—‘And lat us don to May som observaunce.’ See the interesting article on May-day Customs in Brand’s Popular Antiquities (where the quotation from Stubbes will be found); also Chambers, Book of Days, i. 577, where numerous passages relating to May are cited from old poems. An early passage relative to the 1st of May occurs in the Orologium Sapientiae, printed in Anglia, x. 387:—‘And thanne is the custome of dyuerse contrees that yonge folke gone on the nyghte or erely on the morow to Medowes and woddes, and there they kutten downe bowes that haue fayre grene leves, and arayen hem with flowres; and after they setten hem byfore the dores where they trowe to haue amykes [friends?] in her lovers, in token of frendschip and trewe loue.’ And see May-day in Nares.
1502. From the Legend of Good Women, 1204.
1508.Were it = if it were only.
1509. So in Troilus, ii. 920:—
‘Ful loude sang ayein the mone shene.’
1522. ‘Veld haueð hege, and wude haueð heare,’ i.e. ‘Field hath eye, and wood hath ear.’
‘Campus habet lumen, et habet nemus auris acumen.’
This old proverb, with Latin version, occurs in MS. Trin. Coll. Cam. O. 2. 45, and is quoted by Mr. T. Wright in his Essays on England in the Middle Ages, vol. i. p. 168. Cf. Cotgrave’s F. Dict. s. v. Oeillet.
‘Das Feld hat Augen, der Wald hat Ohren’; Ida von Düringsfeld, Sprichwörter, vol. i. no. 453.
1524.at unset stevene, at a meeting not previously fixed upon, an unexpected meeting or appointment. This was a proverbial saying, as is evident from the way in which it is quoted in Sir Eglamour, 1282 (Thornton Romances, p. 174):—
‘Thei setten steuen,’ they made an appointment; Knight de la Tour-Landry, ch. iii. And see below, The Cokes Tale:
‘And ther they setten steven for to mete’; A. 4383.
1531.hir queynte geres, their strange behaviours.
1532. Now in the top (i. e. elevated, in high spirits), now down in the briars (i. e. depressed, in low spirits).
1533.boket in a welle. Cf. Shakespeare’s Richard II., iv. 1. 184. ‘Like so many buckets in a well; as one riseth another falleth, one’s empty, another’s full.’—Burton’s Anat. of Mel. p. 33.
1536.gery, changeable; so also gerful in l. 1538. Observe also the sb. gere, a changeable mood, in ll. 1372, 1531, and Book of the Duchesse, 1257. This very scarce word deserves illustration. Mätzner’s Dictionary gives us some examples.
‘Her gery Iaces,’ their changeful ribands; Richard Redeless, iii. 130.
‘Now gerysshe, glad and anoon aftir wrothe.’
Lydgate, Minor Poems, p. 245.
‘In gerysshe Marche’; id. 243. ‘Gerysshe, wylde or lyght-headed’; Palsgrave’s Dict., p. 313. In Skelton’s poem of Ware the Hauke (ed. Dyce, i. 157) we find:—
Dyce, in his note upon the word, quotes two passages from Lydgate’s Fall of Princes, B. iii. c. 10. leaf 77, and B. vi. c. 1. leaf 134.
Two more occur in the same, B. iii. c. 8, and B. iv. c. 8.
See also in his Siege of Troye, ed. 1555, fol. B 6, back, col. 2; &c.
1539. A writer in Notes and Queries quotes the following Devonshire proverb: ‘Fridays in the week are never aleek,’ i. e. Fridays are unlike other days.
1566. Compare Legend of Good Women, 2629:—
So also in Troil. iii. 733.
1593.I drede noght, I have no fear, I doubt not.
1594.outher . . . or = either . . . or.
1609.To darreyne hir, to decide the right to her. Spenser is very fond of this word; see F. Q. i. 4. 40; i. 7. 11; ii. 2. 26; iii. i. 20; iv. 4. 26, 5. 24; v. 2. 15; vi. 7. 41. See deraisnier in Godefroy’s O. Fr. Dict.
1622.to borwe. This expression has the same force as to wedde, in pledge. See l. 1218.
1625. The expression ‘sooth is seyd’ shews that Chaucer is here introducing a quotation. The original passage is the following, from the Roman de la Rose, 8487:—
Again, the expression ‘cele parole’ shews that Jean de Meun is also here quoting from another, viz. from Ovid, Met. ii. 846:—
1626.his thankes, willingly, with good-will; cf. l. 2107. Cf. M. E. myn unthonkes = ingratis. ‘He faught with them in batayle their unthankes’; Hardyng’s Chronicle, p. 112.—M.
1638. Cf. Teseide, vii. 106, 119; Statius, Theb. iv. 494–9.
1654.Foynen, thrust, push. It is a mistake to explain this, as usual, by ‘fence,’ as fence (= defence) suggests parrying; whereas foinen means to thrust or push, as in attack, not as in defence. It occurs again in l. 2550. Hence it is commonly used of the pushing with spears.
Strutt (Sports and Pastimes, bk. iii. c. 1. § 32) explains that a thrust is more dangerous than a cut, and quotes the old advice, that ‘to foyne is better than to smyte.’ ‘And there kyng Arthur smote syr Mordred vnder the shelde wyth a foyne of his spere thorughoute the body more than a fadom’; Sir T. Malory, Morte Darthur, bk. xxi. c. 4. This was a foine indeed!
1656. Deficient in the foot. Scan:—In | his fight | ing, &c. The usual insertion of as before a is wholly unauthorised.
1665.hath seyn biforn, hath foreseen. Cf. Teseide, vi. 1.
1668. From the Teseide, v. 77. Compare the medieval proverb:—‘Hoc facit una dies quod totus denegat annus.’ Quoted in Die älteste deutsche Litteratur; by Paul Piper (1884); p. 283.
1676.ther daweth him no day, no day dawns upon him.
1678.hunte, hunter, huntsman; whence Hunt as a surname. I find this form as late as in Gascoigne’s Art of Venerie: ‘I am the Hunte’; Works, ed. Hazlitt, ii. 306.
1698. Similarly, Adrastus stopped the fight between Tydeus and Polynices; Statius, Theb. i. Lydgate describes this in his Siege of Thebes, pt. ii, and takes occasion to borrow several expressions from this part of the Knightes Tale.
1706.Ho, an exclamation made by heralds, to stop the fight. It was also used to enjoin silence. See ll. 2533, 2656; Troil. iv. 1242.
1707.Up peyne is the old phrase; as in ‘up peyne of emprisonement of 40 days’; Riley’s Memorials of London, p. 580.
1736.it am I. ‘This is the regular construction in early English. In modern English the pronoun it is regarded as the direct nominative, and I as forming part of the predicate.’—M.
1739. ‘Therefore I ask my death and my doom.’
1747.Mars the rede. Boccaccio uses the same epithet in the opening of his Teseide, i. 3: ‘O Marte rubicondo.’ Rede refers to the colour of the planet; cf. Anelida, 1.
1761. This line occurs again three times; March. Tale E. 1986; Squieres Tale, F. 479; Legend of Good Women, 503.
1780.can no divisoun, knows no distinction.
1781.after oon = after one mode, according to the same rule.
1783.eyen lighte, cheerful looks.
1785. See the Romaunt of the Rose, 878–884; vol. i. p. 130.
1799. ‘Amare et Sapere vix Deo conceditur.’—Publius Syrus, Sent. 15. Cf. Adv. of Learning, ii. proem. § 15—‘It is not granted to man to love and to be wise’; ed. Wright, p. 84. So also in Bacon’s 10th Essay. The reading here given is correct. Fool is used with great emphasis; the sense is:—‘Who can be a (complete) fool, unless he is in love?’ The old printed editions have the same reading. The Harl. MS. alone has if that for but-if, giving the sense: ‘Who can be fool, if he is in love?’ As this is absurd, Mr. Wright silently inserted not after may, and is followed by Bell and Morris; but the latter prints not in italics. Observe that the line is deficient in the first foot. Read:—Whó | may bé | a fóol, &c.
1807.jolitee, joyfulness—said of course ironically.
1808.Can . . . thank, acknowledges an obligation, owes thanks.
1814.a servant, i. e. a lover. This sense of servant, as a term of gallantry, is common in our dramatists.
1815, 1818. Cf. the Teseide, v. 92.
1837.looth or leef, displeasing or pleasing.
1838.pypen in an ivy leef is an expression like ‘blow the buck’s-horn’ in A. 3387, meaning to console oneself with any frivolous employment; it occurs again in Troilus, v. 1433. Cf. the expression ‘to go and whistle.’ Cf. ‘farwel the gardiner; he may pipe with an yue-leafe; his fruite is failed’; Test. of Love, bk. iii; ed. 1561, fol. 316. Boys still blow against a leaf, and produce a squeak. Lydgate uses similar expressions:—
Again, in Hazlitt’s Proverbs, we find ‘To go blow one’s flute,’ which is taken from an old proverb. In Vox Populi Vox Dei (circa 1547), pr. in Hazlitt’s Popular Poetry, iii. 284, are the lines:—
The custom is old. Cf. Zenobius, i. 19 (Paroem. Graec. I. p. 6):—
ᾄδειν πρὸς μυρρίνην· ἔθος ἠ̑ν τὸν μὴ δυνάμενον ἐν τοι̑ς συμποσίοις ᾀ̑σαι, δύϕνης κλω̑να ἠ̑ μυρρίνης λαβόντα πρὸς του̑τον ᾄδειν.
1850.fer ne ner, farther nor nearer, neither more nor less. ‘After some little trouble, I have arrived at the conclusion that Chaucer has given us sufficient data for ascertaining both the days of the month and of the week of many of the principal events of the “Knightes Tale.” The following scheme will explain many things hitherto unnoticed.
‘On Friday, May 4, before 1 a. m., Palamon breaks out of prison. For (l. 1463) it was during the “third night of May, but (l. 1467) a little after midnight.” That it was Friday is evident also, from observing that Palamon hides himself at day’s approach, whilst Arcite rises “for to doon his observance to May, remembring on the poynt of his desyr.” To do this best, he would go into the fields at sunrise (l. 1491), during the hour dedicated to Venus, i. e. during the hour after sunrise on a Friday. If however this seem for a moment doubtful, all doubt is removed by the following lines:—
‘All this is very little to the point unless we suppose Friday to be the day. Or, if the reader have still any doubt about this, let him observe the curious accumulation of evidence which is to follow.
‘Palamon and Arcite meet, and a duel is arranged for an early hour on the day following. That is, they meet on Saturday, May 5. But, as Saturday is presided over by the inauspicious planet Saturn, it is no wonder that they are both unfortunate enough to have their duel interrupted by Theseus, and to find themselves threatened with death. Still, at the intercession of the queen and Emily, a day of assembly for a tournament is fixed for “this day fifty wykes” (l. 1850). Now we must understand “fifty wykes” to be a poetical expression for a year. This is not mere supposition, however, but a certainty; because the appointed day was in the month of May, whereas fifty weeks and no more would land us in April. Then “this day fyfty wekes” means “this day year,” viz. on May 5. [In fact, Boccaccio has ‘un anno intero’; Tes. v. 98.]
‘Now, in the year following (supposed not a leap-year), the 5th of May would be Sunday. But this we are expressly told in l. 2188. It must be noted, however, that this is not the day of the tournament1 , but of the muster for it, as may be gleaned from ll. 1850–1854 and 2096. The eleventh hour “inequal” of Sunday night, or the second hour before sunrise of Monday, is dedicated to Venus, as explained by Tyrwhitt (l. 2217); and therefore Palamon then goes to the temple of Venus. The next hour is dedicated to Mercury. The third hour, the first after sunrise on Monday, is dedicated to Luna or Diana, and during this Emily goes to Diana’s temple. The fourth after sunrise is dedicated to Mars, and therefore Arcite then goes to the temple of Mars. But the rest of the day is spent merely in jousting and preparations—
“Al that Monday justen they and daunce.” (l. 2486.)
The tournament therefore takes place on Tuesday, May 7, on the day of the week presided over by Mars, as was very fitting; and this perhaps helps to explain Saturn’s exclamation in l. 2669, “Mars hath his wille.” ’—Walter W. Skeat, in Notes and Queries, Fourth Series, ii. 2, 3; Sept. 12, 1868 (since slightly corrected).
To this was added the observation, that May 5 was on a Saturday in 1386, and on a Sunday in 1387. Ten Brink (Studien, p. 189) thinks it is of no value; but the coincidence is curious.
1866. ‘Except that one of you shall be either slain or taken prisoner’; i. e. one of you must be fairly conquered.
1884.listes, lists. ‘The lists for the tilts and tournaments resembled those, I doubt not, appointed for the ordeal combats, which, according to the rules established by Thomas, duke of Gloucester, uncle to Richard II., were as follows. The king shall find the field to fight in, and the lists shall be made and devised by the constable; and it is to be observed, that the list must be 60 paces long and 40 paces broad, set up in good order, and the ground within hard, stable, and level, without any great stones or other impediments; also, that the lists must be made with one door to the east, and another to the west [see ll. 1893, 4]; and strongly barred about with good bars 7 feet high or more, so that a horse may not be able to leap over them.’—Strutt, Sports and Pastimes; bk. iii. c. 1. § 23.
1889. The various parts of this round theatre are subsequently described. On the North was the turret of Diana, with an oratory; on the East the gate of Venus, with altar and oratory above; on the West the gate of Mars, similarly provided.
1890.Ful of degrees, full of steps (placed one above another, as in an amphitheatre). ‘But now they have gone a nearer way to the wood, for with wooden galleries in the church that they have, and stairy degrees of seats in them, they make as much room to sit and hear, as a new west end would have done.’—Nash’s Red Herring, p. 21. See Shakespeare, Julius Cæsar, ii. 126, and also 2 Kings xx. 9. Cf. ‘While she stey up from gre to gre.’—Lives of Saints, Roxb. Club, p. 59. Lines 1187–1894 are more or less imitated from the Teseide, vii. 108–110.
1910. Coral is a curious material to use for such a purpose; but we find posts of coral and a palace chiefly formed of coral and metal in Guy of Warwick, ed. Zupitza, 11399–11401.
1913.don wroght, caused (to be) made; observe this idiom. Cf. don yow kept, E. 1098; han doon fraught, B. 171; haf gert saltit, Bruce, xviii. 168.
1918–32. See the analysis of this passage in vol. iii. p. 390.
1919.on the wal, viz. on the walls within the oratory. The description is loosely imitated from Boccaccio’s Teseide, vii. 55–59. It is remarkable that there is a much closer imitation of the same passage in Chaucer’s Parl. of Foules, ll. 183–294. Thus at l. 246 of that poem we find:—
There is yet another description of the temple of Venus in the House of Fame, 119–139, where we have the very line ‘Naked fletinge in a see’ (cf. l. 1956 below), and a mention of the ‘rose garlond’ (cf. l. 1961), and of ‘Hir dowves and daun Cupido’ (cf. ll. 1962–3).
1929.golde, a marigold; Calendula. ‘Goolde, herbe: Solsequium, quia sequitur solem, elitropium, calendula’; Prompt. Parv. The cornmarigold in the North is called goulans, guilde, or goles, and in the South, golds (Way). Gower says that Leucothea was changed
Yellow is the colour of jealousy; see Yellowness in Nares. In the Rom. de la Rose, 22037, Jealousy is described as wearing a ‘chapel de soussie,’ i. e. a chaplet of marigolds.
1936.Citheroun=Cithaeron, sacred to Venus; as said in the Rom. de la Rose, 15865, q. v.
1940. In the Romaunt of the Rose, Idleness is the porter of the garden in which the rose (Beauty) is kept. In the Parl. of Foules, 261, the porter’s name is Richesse. Cf. ll. 2, 3 of the Second Nonnes Tale (G. 2, 3).
1941.of yore agon, of years gone by. Cf. Ovid, Met. iii. 407.
1953–4. Imitated from Le Roman de la Rose, 16891–2.
1955. The description of Venus here given has some resemblance to that given in cap. v (De Venere) of Albrici Philosophi De Deorum Imaginibus Libellus, in an edition of the Mythographi Latini, Amsterdam, 1681, vol. ii. p. 304. I transcribe as much as is material. ‘Pingebatur Venus pulcherrima puella, nuda, et in mari natans; et in manu sua dextra concham marinam tenens atque gestans; rosisque candidis et rubris sertum gerebat in capite ornatum, et columbis circa se volando, comitabatur. . . . Hinc et Cupido filius suus alatus et caecus assistebat, qui sagitta et arcu, quos tenebat, Apollinem sagittabat.’ It is clear that Chaucer had consulted some such description as this; see further in the note to l. 2041.
1958. Cf. ‘wawes . . clere as glas’; Boeth. bk. i. met. 7. 4.
1971.estres, the inner parts of a building; as also in A. 4295 and Leg. of Good Women, 1715. ‘To spere the estyrs of Rome’; Le Bone Florence, 293; in Ritson, Met. Rom. iii. 13. See also Cursor Mundi, 2252.
‘His sportis [portes?] and his estris’; Tale of Beryn, ed. Furnivall, 837. Cf. ‘Qu’il set bien de l’ostel les estres’; Rom. de la Rose, 12720; and see Rom. of the Rose, 1448 (vol. i. p. 153).
By mistaking the long s (ſ) for f, this word has been misprinted as eftures in the following: ‘Pleaseth it yow to see the eftures of this castel?’—Sir Thomas Malory, Mort Arthure, b. xix. c. 7.
1979.a rumbel and a swough, a rumbling and a sound of wind.
The word armipotent is borrowed from Boccaccio’s armipotente, in the Teseide, vii. 32. Other similar borrowings occur hereabouts, too numerous for mention. Note that this description of the temple of Mars once belonged to the end of the poem of Anelida, which see.
Let the reader take particular notice that the temple here described (ll. 1982–1994) is merely a painted temple, depicted on one of the walls inside the oratory of Mars. The walls of the other temples had paintings similar to those inside the temple of which the outside is here depicted. Chaucer describes the painted temple as if it were real, which is somewhat confusing. Inconsistent additions were made in revision.
1984.streit, narrow; ‘la stretta entrata’; Tes. vii. 32.
1985.vese is glossed impetus in the Ellesmere MS., and means ‘rush’ or ‘hurrying blast.’ It is allied to M.E. fesen, to drive, which is Shakespeare’s pheeze. Copied from ‘salit Impetus amens E foribus’; Theb. vii. 47, 48.
1986.rese=to shake, quake. ‘Þe eorðe gon to-rusien,’ ‘the earth gan to shake.’—Laȝamon, l. 15946. To resye, to shake, occurs in Ayenbite of Inwyt, pp. 23, 116. Cf. also—‘The tre aresede as hit wold falle’; Seven Sages, ed. Weber, l. 915. A. S. hrysian.
1987. ‘I suppose the northern light is the aurora borealis, but this phenomenon is so rarely mentioned by mediaeval writers, that it may be questioned whether Chaucer meant anything more than the faint and cold illumination received by reflexion through the door of an apartment fronting the north.’ (Marsh.) The fact is, however, that Chaucer here copies Statius, Theb. vii. 40–58; see the translation in the note to l. 2017 below. The ‘northern light’ seems to be an incorrect rendering of ‘aduersum Phoebi iubar’; l. 45.
1990. ‘E le porte eran d’eterno diamante’; Teseide, vii. 32. Such is the reading given by Warton. However, the ultimate source is the phrase in Statius—‘adamante perenni . . . fores’; Theb. vii. 68.
1991.overthwart, &c., across and along (i.e. from top to bottom). The same phrase occurs in Rich. Coer de Lion, 2649, in Weber, Met. Romances, ii. 104.
1997, 8. Cf. the Teseide, vii. 33:—
But Chaucer follows Statius still more closely. Ll. 1195–2012 answer to Theb. vii. 48–53:—
1999. Cf. Rom. of the Rose, 7419–20.
2001. See Chaucer’s Legend of Hypermnestra.
2003. ‘Discordia, contake’; Glossary in Reliquiae Antiquac, i. 7.
2004.chirking is used of grating and creaking sounds; and sometimes, of the cry of birds. The Lansd. MS. has schrikeinge (shrieking). See House of Fame, iii. 853 (or 1943). In Batman upon Bartholomè, lib. viii. c. 29, the music of the spheres is attributed to the ‘cherkyng of the mouing of the circles, and of the roundnes of heauen.’ In Chaucer’s tr. of Boethius, bk. i. met. 6, it is an adj., and translates stridens. Cf. D. 1804, I. 605.
2007. This line contains an allusion to the death of Sisera, Judges iv. But Dr. Koch has pointed out (Essays on Chaucer, Chaucer Soc. iv. 371) that we have here some proof that Chaucer may have altered his first draft of the poem without taking sufficient heed to what he was about. The original line may have stood—
‘The sleer of her husband saw I there’—
or something of that kind; for the reason that no suicide has ever yet been known to drive a nail into his own head. That a wife might do so to her husband is Chaucer’s own statement; for, in the Cant. Tales, D. 765–770, we find—
Of course it may be said that l. 2006 is entirely independent of l. 2007, and I have punctuated the text so as to suit this arrangement; but the suggestion is worth notice.
2011. From Tes. vii. 35:—‘Videvi ancora l’allegro Furore,’—Kölbing.
2017.hoppesteres. Speght explains this word by pilots (gubernaculum tenentes); Tyrwhitt, female dancers (Ital. ballatrice). Others explain it hopposteres=opposteres=opposing, hostile, so that schippes hoppesteres=bellatrices carinae (Statius). As, however, it is impossible to suppose that even opposteres without the h can ever have been formed from the verb to oppose, the most likely solution is that Chaucer mistook the word bellatrices in Statius (vii. 57) or the corresponding Ital. word bellatrici in the Teseide, vii. 37, for ballatrices or ballatrici, which might be supposed to mean ‘female dancers’; an expression which would exactly correspond to an M.E. form hoppesteres, from the A. S. hoppestre, a female dancer. Herodias’ daughter is mentioned (in the dative case) as þære lyðran hoppystran (better spelt hoppestran) in Ælfric’s A. S. Homilies, ed. Thorpe, i. 484. Hence shippes hoppesteres simply means ‘dancing ships.’ Shakespeare likens the English fleet to ‘A city on the inconstant billows dancing’; Hen. V. iii. prol. 15. Cf. O. F. baleresse, a female dancer, in Godefroy’s Dict., s. v. baleor. In § 55 of Cl. Ptolomaci Centum Dicta, printed at Ulm in 1641, we are told that Mars is hostile to ships when in the zenith or the eleventh house. ‘Incendetur autem nauis, si ascendens ab aliqua stella fixa quae ex Martis mixtura sit, affligetur.’ So that, if a fixed star co-operated with Mars, the ships were burnt.
The following extract from Lewis’ translation of Statius’ Thebaid, bk. vii., is of some interest:—
2020.for al, notwithstanding. Cf. Piers the Plowman, B. xix. 274.
2021.infortune of Marte. ‘Tyrwhitt thinks that Chaucer might intend to be satirical in these lines; but the introduction of such apparently undignified incidents arose from the confusion already mentioned of the god of war with the planet to which his name was given, and the influence of which was supposed to produce all the disasters here mentioned. The following extract from the Compost of Ptolemeus gives some of the supposed effects of Mars:—“Under Mars is borne theves and robbers that kepe hye wayes, and do hurte to true men, and nyght-walkers, and quarell-pykers, bosters, mockers, and skoffers, and these men of Mars causeth warre and murther, and batayle; they wyll be gladly smythes or workers of yron, lyght-fyngred, and lyers, gret swerers of othes in vengeable wyse, and a great surmyler and crafty. He is red and angry, with blacke heer, and lytell iyen; he shall be a great walker, and a maker of swordes and knyves, and a sheder of mannes blode, and a fornycatour, and a speker of rybawdry . . . and good to be a barboure and a blode-letter, and to drawe tethe, and is peryllous of his handes.” The following extract is from an old astrological book of the sixteenth century:—“Mars denoteth men with red faces and the skinne redde, the face round, the eyes yellow, horrible to behold, furious men, cruell, desperate, proude, sedicious, souldiers, captaines, smythes, colliers, bakers, alcumistes, armourers, furnishers, butchers, chirurgions, barbers, sargiants, and hangmen, according as they shal be well or evill disposed.” ’—Wright. So also in Cornelius Agrippa, De Occulta Philosophia, lib. i. c. 22. Chaucer has ‘cruel Mars’ in The Man of Lawes Tale, B. 301; and cf. note to A. 1087.
2022. From Statius, Theb. vii. 58:—
‘Et uacui currus, protritaque curribus ora.’
2029. For the story of Damocles, see Cicero, Tuscul. 5. 61; cf. Horace, Od. iii. 1. 17. And see Chaucer’s tr. of Boethius, bk. iii. pr. 5. 17. Most likely Chaucer got it from Boethius or from the Gesta Romanorum, cap. 143, since the name of Damocles is omitted.
2037.sterres (Harl.) Elles. &c. have certres (sertres); but this strange reading can hardly be other than a mistake for sterres, which is proved to be the right word by the parallel passage in The Man of Lawes Tale, B. 194–6.
2041. In the note to l. 1955, I have quoted part of cap. v. of a work by Albricus. In cap. iii. (De Marte) of the same, we have a description of Mars, which should be compared. I quote all that is material. ‘Erat enim eius figura tanquam unius hominis furibundi, in curru sedens, armatus lorica, et caeteris armis offensiuis et defensiuis. . . Ante illum uero lupus ouem portans pingebatur, quia illud scilicet animal ab antiquis gentibus ipsi Marti specialiter consecratum est. Iste enim Mauors est, id est mares uorans, eo quod bellorum deus a gentibus dictus est.’ Chaucer seems to have taken the notion of the wolf devouring a man from this singular etymology of Mauors.
In cap. vii. (De Diana) of the same, there is a description of ‘Diana, quae et Luna, Proserpina, Hecate nuncupatur.’ Cf. l. 2313 below.
2045. ‘The names of two figures in geomancy, representing two constellations in heaven. Puella signifieth Mars retrogade, and Rubeus Mars direct.’—Note in Speght’s Chaucer. It is obvious that this explanation is wrong as regards ‘Mars retrograde’ and ‘Mars direct,’ because a constellation cannot represent a single planet. It happens to be also wrong as regards ‘constellations in heaven.’ But Speght is correct in the main point, viz., that Puella and Rubeus are ‘the names of two figures in geomancy.’ Geomancy was described, under the title of ‘Divination by Spotting,’ in The Saturday Review, Feb. 16, 1889. To form geomantic figures, proceed thus. Take a pencil, and hurriedly jot down on a paper a number of dots in a line, without counting them. Do the same three times more. Now count the dots, to see whether they are odd or even. If the dots in a line are odd, put down one dot on another small paper, half-way across it. If they are even, put down two dots, one towards each side; arranging the results in four rows, one beneath the other.
Three of the figures thus formed require our attention; the whole number being sixteen. Fig. 1 results from the dots being odd, even, odd, odd. Fig. 2, from even, odd, even, even. Fig. 3, from odd, odd, even, odd. These (as well as the rest of the sixteen figures) are given in Cornelius Agrippa, De Occulta Philosophia, lib. ii. cap. 48: De Figuris Geomanticis. Each ‘Figure’ had a ‘Name,’ belonged to an ‘Element,’ and possessed a ‘Planet’ and a Zodiacal ‘Sign.’ Cornelius Agrippa gives our three ‘figures’ as below.
Fig. 1 (Puella). Fig. 2 (Rubeus). Fig. 3 (Puer). That is, Fig. 1 is ‘Puella,’ or ‘Mundus facie’; element, water; planet, Venus; sign, Libra.
Fig. 2 is ‘Rubeus’ or ‘Rufus’; element, fire; planet, Mars; sign, Gemini.
Fig. 3 is ‘Puer,’ or ‘Flavus,’ or ‘Imberbis’; element, fire; planet, Mars; sign, Aries.
Chaucer (or some one else) seems to have confused figures 1 and 3, or Puer with Puella; for Puella was dedicated to Venus. Rubeus is clearly right, as Mars was the red planet (l. 1747). I first explained this, somewhat more fully, in The Academy, March 2, 1889.
2049. From Tes. vii. 38:—‘E tal ricetto edificato avea Mulcibero sottil colla sua arte.’—Kölbing, in Engl. Studien, ii. 528.
2056.Calistopee=Callisto, a daughter of Lycaon, King of Arcadia, and companion of Diana. See Ovid’s Fasti, ii. 153; Gower, Conf. Amantis, ed. Pauli, ii. 336.
2059, 2061. ‘Cf. Ovid’s Fasti, ii. 153–192; especially 189, 190,
The nymph Callisto was changed into Arctos or the Great Bear; hence “Vrsa Maior” is written in the margin of E. Hn. Cp. Ln. This was sometimes confused with the other Arctos or Lesser Bear, in which was situate the lodestar or Polestar. Chaucer has followed this error. Callisto’s son, Arcas, was changed into Arctophylax or Boötes: here again Chaucer says a sterre, when he means a whole constellation; as, perhaps, he does in other passages.’—Chaucer’s Astrolabe, ed. Skeat (E. E. T. S.), pp. xlviii, xlix.
2062, 2064.Dane=Daphne, a girl beloved by Apollo, and changed into a laurel. See Ovid’s Metamorph. i. 450; Gower, Conf. Amantis, ed. Pauli, i. 336; Troilus, iii. 726.
2065.Attheon=Actaeon. See Ovid’s Metamorph. iii. 138.
2070.Atthalante=Atalanta. See Ovid’s Metamorph. x. 560; and Troilus, v. 1471.
2074.nat drawen to memoric=not draw to memory, not call to mind.
2079. Cf. ‘gawdy greene. subviridis’; Prompt. Parv. This gaudè has nothing whatever to do with the E. sb. gaud, but answers to F. gaudé, the pp. of the verb gauder, to dye with weld; from the F. sb. gaude, weld. As to weld, see my note to The Former Age, 17; in vol. i. p. 540. Littré has an excellent example of the word: ‘Les bleus teints en indigo doivent être gaudés, et ils deviennent verts.’
2086.thou mayst best, art best able to help, thou hast most power. Lucina was a title both of Juno and Diana; see Vergil, Ecl. iv. 10.
2112. Here paramours is used adverbially, like paramour in l. 1155. From Le Roman de la Rose, 20984:—‘Jamès par amors n’ ameroit.’
2115.benedicite is here pronounced as a trisyllable, viz. ben’cite. It usually is so, though five syllables in l. 1785. Cf. benste in Towneley Myst. p. 85. Cf. ‘What, liveth nat thy lady, benedicite!’ Troil. i. 780. Benedicite is equivalent to ‘thank God,’ and was used in saying graces. See Babees Book, pp. 382, 386; and Appendix, p. 9.
2125. This line seems to mean that there is nothing new under the sun.
2129. This is the ‘re Licurgo’ of the Teseide, vi. 14; and the Lycurgus of the Thebaid, iv. 386, and of Homer, Il. vi. 130. But the description of him is partly taken from that of another warrior, Tes. vi. 21, 22. It is worth notice that, in Lydgate’s Story of Thebes, pt. iii., king Ligurgus or Licurgus (the name is spelt both ways) is introduced, and Lydgate has the following remark concerning him:—
The term brother must refer to l. 1147 above. See further, as to Lycurgus, in the note to Leg. Good Women, 2423, in vol. iii. p. 344.
2134. ‘kempe heres, shaggy, rough hairs. Tyrwhitt and subsequent editors have taken for granted that kempe = kemped, combed (an impossible equation); but kempe is rather the reverse of this, and instead of smoothly combed, means bristly, rough, or shaggy. In an Early English poem it is said of Nebuchadnezzar that
“Holghe (hollow) were his yghen anunder (under) campe hores.”
Early Eng. Alliterative Poems, p. 85, l. 1695.
Campe hores = shaggy hairs (about the eyebrows), and corresponds exactly in form and meaning to kempe heres.’—M. See Glossary.
2141. I. e. the nails of the bear were yellow. In Cutts, Scenes and Characters of the Middle Ages, p. 345, the bad guess is hazarded that these ‘nails’ were metal studs. But Chaucer was doubtless thinking of the tiger’s skin described in the Thebaid, vi. 722:—
Lewis translates the last line by:—‘The sharpness of the claws was dulled with gold.’
2142.for-old, very old. See next note.
2144.for-blak is generally explained as for blackness; it means very black. Cf. fordrye, very dry, in F. 409.
2148.alaunts, mastiffs or wolf-hounds. Florio has: ‘Alano, a mastiue dog.’ Cotgrave: ‘Allan, a kind of big, strong, thickheaded, and short-snowted dog; the brood where-of came first out of Albania (old Epirus).’ Pineda’s Span. Dict. gives: ‘Alano, a mastiff dog, particularly a bull dog; also, an Alan, one of that nation.’ This refers to the tribe of Alani, a nation of warlike horsemen, first found in Albania. They afterwards became allies, first of the Huns, and afterwards of the Visi-Goths. It is thus highly probable that Alaunt (in which the t is obviously a later addition) signifies ‘an Alanian dog,’ which agrees with Cotgrave’s explanation. Smith’s Classical Dict. derives Alanus, said to mean ‘mountaineer,’ from a Sarmatian word ala.
The alaunt is described in the Maister of the Game, c. 16. We there learn they were of all colours, and frequently white with a black spot about the ears.
2152.Colers of, having collars of. Some MSS. read Colerd of, which I now believe to be right. Collared was an heraldic term, used of greyhounds, &c.; see the New Eng. Dict. This leaves an awkward construction, as torets seems to be governed by with. See Launfal, 965, in Ritson, Met. Rom. i. 212. Cf. ‘as they (the Jews) were tied up with girdles . . . . so were they collared about the neck.’—Fuller’s Pisgah Sight of Palestine, p. 524, ed. 1869.
torets, probably eyes in which rings will turn round, because each eye is a little larger than the thickness of the ring. This appears from Chaucer’s Astrolabe, i. 2. 1—‘This ring renneth in a maner turet,’ i. e. in a kind of eye (vol. iii. p. 178). Warton, in his Hist. E. Poet. ed. 1871, ii. 314, gives several instances. It also meant a small loose ring. Cotgrave gives: ‘Touret, the annulet, or little ring whereby a hawk’s lune is fastened unto the jesses.’ ‘My lityll bagge of blakke ledyr with a cheyne and toret of siluyr’; Bury Wills, ed. Tymms, p. 16. Cf. E. swivel-ring.
2156.Emetrius is not mentioned either by Statius or by Boccaccio; cf. Tes. vi. 29, 17, 16, 41.
2158.diapred, variegated with flowery or arabesque patterns. See diaspre and diaspré in Godefroy’s O.F. Dict.; diasprus and diasperatus in Ducange. In Le Rom. de la Rose, 21205, we find mention of samis diaprés, diapered samites.
2160.cloth of Tars, ‘a kind of silk, said to be the same as in other places is called Tartarine (tartarinum), the exact derivation of which appears to be somewhat uncertain.’—Wright. Cf. Piers the Plowman, B. xv. 224, and my note to the same, C. xvii. 299; also Tartarium in Fairholt.
2187.alle and some, ‘all and singular,’ ‘one and all.’
2205. See the Teseide, vi. 8; also Our Eng. Home, 22.
2217.And in hir houre. ‘I cannot better illustrate Chaucer’s astrology than by a quotation from the old Kalendrier de Bergiers, edit. 1500, Sign. K. ii. b:—“Qui veult savoir comme bergiers scevent quel planete regne chascune heure du jour et de la nuit, doit savoir la planete du jour qui veult s’enquerir; et la premiere heure temporelle du soleil levant ce jour est pour celluy planete, la seconde heure est pour la planete ensuivant, et la tierce pour l’autre,” &c., in the following order: viz. Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sol, Venus, Mercury, Luna. To apply this doctrine to the present case, the first hour of the Sunday, reckoning from sunrise, belonged to the Sun, the planet of the day; the second to Venus, the third to Mercury, &c.; and continuing this method of allotment, we shall find that the twenty-second hour also belonged to the Sun, and the twenty-third to Venus; so that the hour of Venus really was, as Chaucer says, two hours before the sunrise of the following day. Accordingly, we are told in l. 2271, that the third hour after Palamon set out for the temple of Venus, the Sun rose, and Emily began to go to the temple of Diane. It is not said that this was the hour of Diane, or the Moon, but it really was; for, as we have just seen, the twenty-third hour of Sunday belonging to Venus, the twenty-fourth must be given to Mercury, and the first hour of Monday falls in course to the Moon, the presiding planet of that day. After this, Arcite is described as walking to the temple of Mars, l. 2367, in the nexte houre of Mars, that is, the fourth hour of the day. It is necessary to take these words together, for the nexte houre, singly, would signify the second hour of the day; but that, according to the rule of rotation mentioned above, belonged to Saturn, as the third did to Jupiter. The fourth was the nexte houre of Mars that occurred after the hour last named.’—Tyrwhitt. Thus Emily is two hours later than Palamon, and Arcite is three hours later than Emily.
2221–64. To be compared with the Teseide, vii. 43–49, and vii. 68.
2224.Adoun, Adonis. See Ovid, Met. x. 503.
2233–6. Imitated from Le Rom. de la Rose, 21355–65, q. v.
2238. ‘I care not to boast of arms (success in arms).’
2239.Ne I ne axe, &c., are to be pronounced as ni naxe, &c. So in l. 2630 of this tale, Ne in must be pronounced as nin.
2252.wher I ryde or go, whether I ride or walk.
2253.fyres bete, kindle or light fires. Bete also signifies to mend or make up the fire; see l. 2292.
2271.The thridde hour inequal. ‘In the astrological system, the day, from sunrise to sunset, and the night, from sunset to sunrise, being each divided into twelve hours, it is plain that the hours of the day and night were never equal except just at the equinoxes. The hours attributed to the planets were of this unequal sort. See Kalendrier de Berg. loc. cit., and our author’s treatise on the Astrolabe.’—Tyrwhitt.
2275–360. Cf. the Teseide, vii. 71–92.
2286.a game, a pleasure.
2288.at his large, at liberty (to speak or to be silent).
2290. ‘E coronò di quercia cereale’; Tes. vii. 74. Cerial should be cerrial, as spelt by Dryden, who speaks of ‘chaplets green of cerrial oak’; Flower and Leaf, 230. It is from cerreus, adj. of cerrus, also ill-spelt cerris, as in the botanical name Quercus cerris, the Turkey oak. The cup of the acorn is prickly; see Pliny, bk. xvi. c. 6.
2294.In Stace of Thebes, in the Thebaid of Statius, where the reader will not find it. Cf. the Teseide, vii. 72.
2303.aboughte, atoned for. Attheon, Actaeon; Ovid, Met. iii. 230.
2313.thre formes. Diana is called Diva Triformis;—in heaven, Luna; on earth, Diana and Lucina, and in hell, Prosperpina. See note to l. 2041.
2336. Cf. Statius, Theb. viii. 632:—‘Omina cernebam, subitusque intercidit ignis.’
2365.the nexte waye, the nearest way. Cf. the Teseide, vii. 93.
2368.walked is, has walked. See note to l. 2217.
2371–434. Cf. the Teseide, vii. 23–28, 39–41.
2388. For the story, see Ovid, Met. iv. 171—189; and, in particular, cf. Rom. de la Rose, 14064, where Venus is said to be ‘prise et lacie.’
2395.lyves creature, creature alive, living creature.
2397. See Compl. of Anelida, 182; cf. Compl. to his Lady, 52.
2405.do, bring it about, cause it to come to pass.
2422–34. From Tes. vii. 39, 40; there are several verbal resemblances here.—Kölbing.
2437. ‘As joyful as the bird is of the bright sun.’ So in Piers Pl., B. x. 153. It was a common proverb.
2438–41. Cf. the Teseide, vii. 67.
2443. Cf. ‘the olde colde Saturnus’; tr. of Boethius, bk. iv. met. 1.
2447–8. From Le Rom. de la Rose, 13022, q. v.
2449. ‘Men may outrun old age, but not outwit (surpass its counsel).’ Cf. ‘Men may the wyse at-renne, but not at-rede.’—Troilus, iv. 1456.
The Proverbs of Alfred, ed. Morris, in an Old Eng. Miscellany, p. 136. And see Solomon and Saturn, ed. Kemble, p. 253.
2451.agayn his kynde. According to the Compost of Ptolemeus, Saturn was influential in producing strife: ‘And the children of the sayd Saturne shall be great jangeleres and chyders . . . and they will never forgyve tyll they be revenged of theyr quarell.’—Wright.
2454.My cours. The course of the planet Saturn. This refers to the orbit of Saturn, supposed to be the largest of all, until Uranus and Neptune were discovered.
2455.more power. The Compost of Ptolemeus says of Saturn, ‘He is mighty of hymself. . . . It is more than xxx yere or he may ronne his course. . . . Whan he doth reygne, there is moche debate.’—Wright.
2460.groyning, murmuring, discontent; from F. grogner. See Rom. Rose, 7049; Troil. i. 349.
2462. ‘Terribilia mala operatur Leo cum malis; auget enim eorum malitiam.’—Hermetis Aphorismorum Liber, § 66.
2491–525. Cf. the Teseide, vii. 95–99.
2504.Gigginge, fitting or providing (the shield) with straps. Godefroy gives O. F. guige, guigue, a strap for hanging a buckler over the shoulder, a handle of a shield. Cotgrave gives the fem. pl. guiges, ‘the handles of a target or shield.’ In Mrs. Palliser’s Historic Devices, p. 277, she describes a monument in St. Edmund’s chapel, in Westminster Abbey, on which are three shields, each with ‘the guige or belt of Bourchier knots formed of straps.’ In the M. E. word gigginge, both the g’s are hard, as in gig (in the sense of a two-wheeled vehicle).
Layneres lacinge, lacing of thongs; see Prompt. Parv., s. v. Lanere.
In Sir Bevis, ed. Kölbing, p. 134, we find—
2507. Shakespeare seems to have observed this passage; cf. Hen. V. Act 4. prol. 12.
2511. Cf. House of Fame, 1239, 1240:—
Also Tes. viii. 5:—‘D’armi, di corni, nacchere e trombette.’
‘The Nakkárah or Naqárah was a great kettle-drum, formed like a brazen cauldron, tapering to the bottom, and covered with buffalo-hide, often 3½ or 4 feet in diameter. . . . The crusades naturalised the word in some form or other in most European languages, but in our own apparently with a transfer of meaning. Wright defines naker as “a cornet or horn of brass,” and Chaucer’s use seems to countenance this.’—Marco Polo, ed. Yule, i. 303–4; where more is added. But Wright’s explanation is a mere guess, and should be rejected. There is no reason for assigning to the word naker any other sense than ‘kettle-drum.’ Minot (Songs, iv. 80) is explicit:—
Hence a naker had to be struck, not blown. See also Naker in Halliwell’s Dictionary. Boccaccio has the pl. nacchere; see above.
2520.Sparth, battle-axe; Icel. sparða. See Rom. Rose, 5978; Wars of Alexander, ed. Skeat, 1403, 2458; Gawain and Grene Knight, 209; Prompt. Parv. In Trevisa’s tr. of Higden, bk. i. ch. 33, we are told that the Norwegians first brought sparths into Ireland. Higden has ‘usum securium, qui Anglicè sparth dicitur.’
2537. As to the regulations for tournaments, see Strutt’s Sports and Pastimes, bk. iii. c. 1. §§ 16–24; the passages are far too long for quotation. We may, however, compare the following extract, given by Strutt, from MS. Harl. 326. ‘All these things donne, thei were embatailed eche ageynste the othir, and the corde drawen before eche partie; and whan the tyme was, the cordes were cutt, and the trumpettes blew up for every man to do his devoir [duty]. And for to assertayne the more of the tourney, there was on eche side a stake; and at eche stake two kyngs of armes, with penne, and inke, and paper, to write the names of all them that were yolden, for they shold no more tournay.’ And, from MS. Harl. 69, he quotes that—‘no one shall bear a sword, pointed knife, mace, or other weapon, except the sword for the tournament.’
2543–93. Cf. the Teseide, vii. 12, 131–2, 12, 14, 100–2, 113–4, 118, 19. In 2544, shot means arrow or crossbow-bolt.
2546. ‘Nor short sword having a biting (sharp) point to stab with.’
2565. Cf. Legend of Good Women, 635:—‘Up goth the trompe.’
2568. Cf. King Alisaunder, 189, where we are told that a town was similarly decked to receive queen Olimpias with honour. See Weber’s note.
2600–24. Cf. the Teseide, viii. 5, 7, 14, 12, &c.
2602. ‘In go the spears full firmly into the rest,’—i.e. the spears were couched ready for the attack.
‘With spere in thyne arest’; Rom. of the Rose, 7561.
2614.he . . . he=one . . . another. See Historical Outlines of English Accidence, p. 282. Cf. the parallel passage in the Legend of Good Women, 642–8.
2615.feet. Some MSS. read foot. Tyrwhitt proposed to read foo, foe, enemy; but see l. 2550.
2624.wroght . . . wo, done harm to his opponent.
2626.Galgopheye. ‘This word is variously written Colaphey, Galgaphey, Galapey. There was a town called Galapha in Mauritania Tingitana, upon the river Malva (Cellar. Geog. Ant. v. ii. p. 935), which perhaps may have given name to the vale here meant.’—Tyrwhitt. But doubtless Chaucer was thinking of the Vale of Gargaphie, where Actæon was turned into a stag:—
2627. Cf. the Teseide, viii. 26.
2634.Byte, cleave, cut; cf. the cognate Lat. verb findere. See ll. 2546, 2640.
2646.swerdes lengthe. Cf.
2675.Which a, what a, how great a.
2676–80. Cf. the Teseide, viii. 131, 124–6.
2683.al his chere may mean ‘all his delight, as regarded his heart.’ The Harl. MS. does not insert in before his chere, as Wright would have us believe.
2684. Elles. reads furie, as noted; so in the Teseide, ix. 4. This incident is borrowed from Statius, Theb. vi. 495, where Phœbus sends a hellish monster to frighten some horses in a chariot-race. And see Vergil, Æn. xii. 845.
2686–706. Cf. the Teseide, ix. 7, 8, 47, 13, 48, 38, 26.
2689. The following is a very remarkable account of a contemporary occurrence, which took place at the time when a parliament was held at Cambridge, 1388, as told by Walsingham, ed. Riley, ii. 177:—
‘Tempore Parliamenti, cum Dominus Thomas Tryvet cum Rege sublimis equitaret ad Regis hospitium, quod fuit apud Bernewelle [Barnwell], dum nimis urget equum calcaribus, equus cadit, et omnia pene interiora sessoris dirumpit [cf. l. 2691]; protelavit tamen vitam in crastinum.’ The saddle-bow or arsoun was the ‘name given to two curved pieces of wood or metal, one of which was fixed to the front of the saddle, and another behind, to give the rider greater security in his seat’; New Eng. Dict. s. v. Arson. Violent collision against the front saddle-bow produced very serious results. Cf. the Teseide, ix. 8—‘E ’l forte arcione gli premette il petto.’
2696. ‘Then was he cut out of his armour.’ I. e. the laces were cut, to spare the patient trouble. Cf. Statius, Theb. viii. 637–641.
2698.in memorie, conscious.
2710.That . . his, i.e. whose. So which . . his, in Troil. ii. 318.
2711. ‘As a remedy for other wounds,’ &c.
2712, 3.charmes . . . save. ‘It may be observed that the salves, charms, and pharmacies of herbs were the principal remedies of the physician in the age of Chaucer. Save (salvia, the herb sage) was considered one of the most universally efficiently medieval remedies.’—Wright. Hence the proverb of the school of Salerno, ‘Cur moriatur homo, dum salvia crescit in horto?’
2722.nis nat but=is only. aventure, accident.
2725.O persone, one person.
2733.Gree, preëminence, superiority; lit. rank, or a step; answering to Lat. gradus (not gratus). The phrases to win the gree, i. e. to get the first place, and to bear the gree, i. e. to keep the first place, are still in common use in Scotland. See note to the Allit. Destruction of Troy, ed. Panton and Donaldson, l. 1353, and Jamieson’s Dictionary.
2736.dayes three. Wright says the period of three days was the usual duration of a feast among our early forefathers. As far back as the seventh century, when Wilfred consecrated his church at Ripon, he held ‘magnum convivium trium dierum et noctium, reges cum omni populo laetificantes.’—Eddius, Vit. S. Wilf. c. 17.
2743. This fine passage is certainly imitated from the account of the death of Atys in Statius, Theb. viii. 637–651. I quote ll. 642–651, in which Atys fixes his last gaze upon his bride Ismene; as to ll. 637–641, see note to l. 2696 above.
2745. ‘Also when bloude rotteth in anye member, but it be taken out by skill or kinde, it tourneth into venime’; Batman upon Bartholomè, lib. iv. c. 7. bouk, paunch; A. S. būc.
2749. ‘The vertue Expulsiue is, which expelleth and putteth away that that is vnconuenient and hurtfull to kinde’ [nature]; Batman upon Bartholomè, lib. iii. c. 8.
‘This vertue [given by the soul to the body] hath three parts; one is called naturall, and is in the lyuer: the other is called vitall, or spiritall, and hath place in the heart; the third is called Animal, and hath place in the brayn’; id. c. 14.
‘The vertue that is called Naturalis moueth the humours in the body of a beast by the vaines, and hath a principal place in the liuer’; id. c. 12.
2761.This al and som, i. e. this (is) the al and som, this is the short and long of it. A common expression; cf. F. 1606; Troil. iv. 1193, 1274. With ll. 2761–2808 compare the Teseide, x. 12, 37, 51, 54, 55, 64, 102–3, 60–3, 111–2.
2800.overcome. Tyrwhitt reads overnome, overtaken, the pp. of overnimen; but none of the seven best MSS. have this reading.
2810. The real reason why Chaucer could not here describe the passage of Arcite’s soul to heaven is because he had already copied Boccaccio’s description, and had used it with respect to the death of Troilus; see Troil. v. 1807–27 (stanzas 7, 8, 9 from the end).
2815.ther Mars, &c., where I hope that Mars will, &c.; may Mars, &c.
2822.swich sorwe, so great sorrow. The line is defective in the third foot, which consists of a single (accented) syllable.
2827–46. Cf. the Teseide, xi. 8, 7, 9-11, xii. 6.
2853–962. Cf. the Teseide, xi. 13–16, 30, 31, 35, 38, 40, 37, 18, 26–7, 22–5, 21, 27–9, 30, 40–67.
2863–962. The whole of this description should be compared with the funeral rites at the burial of Archemorus, as described in Statius, Thebaid, bk. vi; which Chaucer probably consulted, as well as the imitation of the same in Boccaccio’s Teseide. For example, the ‘tree-list’ in ll. 2921–3 is not a little remarkable. The first list is in Ovid, Met. x. 90–105; with which cf. Vergil, Æn. vi. 180; Lucan, Pharsalia, iii. 440–445. Then we find it in Statius, vi. 98–106. After which, it reappears in Boccaccio, Teseide, xi. 22; in Chaucer, Parl. of Foules, 176; in the present passage; in Tasso, Gier. Lib. iii. 75; and in Spenser, F. Q. i. 1. 8. There is also a list in Le Roman de la Rose, 1338–1368. Again, we may just compare ll. 2951–2955 with the following lines in Lewis’s translation of Statius:—
Moreover, Statius imitates the whole from Vergil, Æn. xi. 185–196. And Lydgate copies it all from Chaucer in his Sege of Thebes, part 3 (near the end).
2864.Funeral he myghte al accomplice (Elles.); Funeral he mighte hem all complise (Corp., Pet.). The line is defective in the first foot. Funeral is an adjective. Tyrwhitt and Wright insert Of before it, without authority of any kind; see l. 2942.
2874.White gloves were used as mourning at the funeral of an unmarried person; see Brand, Pop. Antiq. ed. Ellis, ii. 283.
2885. ‘And surpassing others in weeping came Emily.’
2891. See the description of old English funerals in Rock, Church of our Fathers, ii. 488: ‘If the deceased was a knight, his helmet, shield, sword, and coat-armour were each carried by some near kinsman, or by a herald clad in his blazoned tabard’; &c.
2895. Cf. ‘deux ars Turquois,’ i. e. two Turkish bows; Rom. de la Rose, 913; see vol. i. p. 132.
2903. Compare the mention of ‘blake clothes’ in l. 2884. When ‘master Machyll, altherman, was bered, all the chyrche [was] hangyd with blake and armes [coats-of-arms], and the strett [street] with blake and armes, and the place’; &c.—Machyn’s Diary (Camden Soc.) p. 171.
2923.whippeltree (better wippeltree) is the cornel-tree or dogwood (Cornus sanguinea); the same as the Mid. Low G. wipel-bom, the cornel. Cf. ‘wepe, or weype, the dog-tree’; Hexham. See N. and Q. 7 S. vi. 434.
2928.Amadrides; i. e. Hamadryades; see Ovid, Met. i. 192, 193, 690. The idea is taken from Statius, Theb. vi. 110–113.
2943.men made the fyr (Hn., Cm.); maad was the fire (Corp., Pet.).
2953.loud (Elles.); heih (Harl.); bowe (Corp.).
2958. ‘Chaucer seems to have confounded the wake-plays of his own time with the funeral games of the antients.’—Tyrwhitt. Cf. Troil. v. 304; and see ‘Funeral Entertainments’ in Brand’s Popular Antiquities.
2962.in no disioynt, with no disadvantage. Cf. Verg. Æn. iii. 281.
2967–86. Cf. the Teseide, xii. 3-5.
2968. Lounsbury (Studies in Chaucer, i. 345) proposes to put a full stop at the end of this line, after teres; and to put no stop at the end of l. 2969.
2991–3.that faire cheyne of love. This sentiment is taken from Boethius, lib. ii. met. 8: ‘þat þe world with stable feith / varieth acordable chaungynges // þat the contraryos qualite of elementz holden amonge hem self aliaunce perdurable / þat phebus the sonne with his goldene chariet / bryngeth forth the rosene day / þat the mone hath commaundement ouer the nyhtes // whiche nyhtes hesperus the euesterre hat[h] browt // þat þe se gredy to flowen constreyneth with a certeyn ende hise floodes / so þat it is nat l[e]ueful to strechche hise brode termes or bowndes vpon the erthes // þat is to seyn to couere alle the erthe // Al this a-cordaunce of thinges is bownden with looue / þat gouerneth erthe and see and hath also commaundementz to the heuenes / and yif this looue slakede the brydelis / alle thinges þat now louen hem togederes / wolden maken a batayle contynuely and stryuen to fordoon the fasoun of this worlde / the which they now leden in acordable feith by fayre moeuynges // this looue halt to-gideres peoples ioygned with an hooly bond / and knytteth sacrement of maryages of chaste looues // And love enditeth lawes to trewe felawes // O weleful weere mankynde / yif thilke loue þat gouerneth heuene gouerned[e] yowre corages.’—Chaucer’s Boethius, ed. Morris, p. 62; cf. also pp. 87, 143. (See the same passage in vol. ii. p. 50; cf. pp. 73, 122.) And cf. the Teseide, ix. 51; Homer, Il. viii. 19. Also Rom. de la Rose, 16988:—
2994. What follows is taken from Boethius, lib. iv. pr. 6: ‘þe engendrynge of alle þinges, quod she, and alle þe progressiouns of muuable nature, and alle þat moeueþ in any manere, takiþ hys causes, hys ordre, and hys formes, of þe stablenesse of þe deuyne þouȝt; [and thilke deuyne thowht] þat is yset and put in þe toure, þat is to seyne in þe heyȝt of þe simplicite of god, stablisiþ many manere gyses to þinges þat ben to don.’—Chaucer’s Boethius, ed. Morris, p. 134. (See the same passage in vol. ii. p. 115).
3005. Chaucer again is indebted to Boethius, lib. iii. pr. 10, for what follows: ‘For al þing þat is cleped inperfit, is proued inperfit by þe amenusynge of perfeccioun, or of þing þat is perfit; and her-of comeþ it, þat in euery þing general, yif þat þat men seen any þing þat is inperfit, certys in þilke general þer mot ben somme þing þat is perfit. For yif so be þat perfeccioun is don awey, men may nat þinke nor seye fro whennes þilke þing is þat is cleped inperfit. For þe nature of þinges ne token nat her bygynnyng of þinges amenused and inperfit; but it procediþ of þingus þat ben al hool and absolut, and descendeþ so doune into outerest þinges and into þingus empty and wiþoute fruyt; but, as I haue shewed a litel her-byforne, þat yif þer be a blisfulnesse þat be frele and vein and inperfit, þer may no man doute þat þer nys som blisfulnesse þat is sad, stedfast, and perfit.’—Chaucer (as above), p. 89. (See the same passage in vol. ii. pp. 74, 75.)
3013. ‘And thilke same ordre neweth ayein alle thinges growyng and fallyng adoune by semblables progressiouns of seedes and of sexes.’—Chaucer’s Boethius, ed. Morris, p. 137. (See the same passage in vol. ii. p. 117; i. e in bk. iv. pr. 6. l. 103).
3016.seen at ye, see at a glance. Gower, ed. Pauli, i. 33, has:—‘The thing so open is at theye,’ i. e. is so open at the eye, is so obvious. ‘Now is the tyme sen at eye,’ i. e. clearly seen; Coventry Myst. p. 122.
3017–68. Cf. the Teseide, xii. 7-10, 6, 11, 13, 9, 12–17, 19.
3042. So in Troilus, iv. 1586: ‘Thus maketh vertu of necessite’; and in Squire’s Tale, pt. ii. l. 247 (Group F, l. 593): ‘That I made vertu of necessite.’ It is from Le Roman de la Rose, 14217:—
So in Matt. Paris, ed. Luard, i. 20. Cf. Horace, Carm. i. 24:—
3089.oghte to passen right, should surpass mere equity or justice.
3094–102. Cf. the Teseide, xii. 69, 72, 83.
3105. Cf. Book of the Duchesse, 1287–97.
The Miller’s Prologue.
The Miller’s name is Robin (l. 3129).
3110. The reading companye (as in old editions and Tyrwhitt) in place of route makes the line too long.
3115. I.e. the bag is unbuckled, the budget is opened; as when a packman displays his wares. See Group I, l. 26.
3119.To quyte with, to requite the Knight with, for his excellent Tale. This position of with, next its verb, is the almost invariable M. E. idiom. Cf. F. 471, 641, C. 345; Notes to P. Pl., C. i. 133, &c.
3120. ‘Very drunk, and all pale’; cf. A. 4150, H. 30.
3124. I. e. in a loud, commanding voice, such as that of Pilate in the Mystery Plays. In the Chester Plays, Pilate is of rather a meek disposition; but in the York Plays, pp. 270, 307, 320, he is represented as boastful and tyrannical, as is evidently here intended. The expression seems to have been proverbial. Palsgrave has: ‘In a pylates voyce, a haulte voyx’; p. 837. Udall, tr. of Erasmus’ Apophthegms (repr. 1877), last page, has—‘speaking out of measure loude and high, and altogether in Pilates voice.’
3125.by armes, i.e. by the arms of Christ; see note to C. 651.
3129. ‘My dear brother’; a common form; cf. 3848, below, and 1136, above.
3131.thriftily, i. e. profitably, to a useful purpose; cf. B. 1165.
3134.a devel wey, in the devil’s name; see Skelton, ed. Dyce, ii. 287; originally, in the way to the devil, with all ill luck. Compare—
See note to l. 3713 below.
3140.Wyte it, lay the blame for it upon. of Southwerk, i.e. of the Tabard inn.
3143. ‘Made a fool of the wright,’ i.e. of the carpenter; cf. A. 586, 614; also A. 3911, and the note.
3145. The Reeve interferes, because he was a carpenter himself (A. 614). ‘Let alone your ignorant drunken ribaldry.’
3152. A reference to a proverbial expression which is given in Rob. of Brunne’s Handlyng Synne, 1892:—
Compare also Le Roman de la Rose, 9167–9171, which expresses a similar opinion.
3155–6. Tyrwhitt omits these two lines in his text, but admits, in his Notes, that they should have been inserted. The former of the two lines is repeated from l. 277 of the original (but rejected) Prologue to the Legend of Good Women. but-if thou madde, unless thou art going mad.
3161.oon, one, i. e. a cuckold; or, possibly, an ox (l. 3159). As an ox was a ‘horned’ animal, it comes to the same thing, according to the miserable jest so common in our dramatists.
3165.goddes foyson, sufficient abundance, i. e. all he wants, all the affection he expects. there, in his wife.
3166. A defective line; read—Of | the rém’ | nant, &c.
The Milleres Tale.
On the Miller’s Tale, see Anglia, i. 38, ii. 135, vii (appendix), 81; and see the remarks in vol. iii. p. 395.
3188.gnof, churl, lit. a thief; a slang word, of Hebrew origin; Heb. ganāv, a thief, Exod. xxii. 1. The same as the mod. E. gonoph, the epithet applied to Jo in Dickens, Bleak House, ch. xix. Halliwell’s Dict. quotes from The Norfolke Furies, 1623—‘The country gnoffes, Hob, Dick, and Hick, With clubbes and clouted shoon,’ &c. Drant, in his tr. of Horace, Satires, fol. A i, back (1566), has:—‘The chubbyshe gnof that toyles and moyles.’ Todd, in his Illustration of Chaucer, p. 260, says—‘See A Comment upon the Miller’s Tale and the Wife of Bath, 12mo. Lond. 1665, p. 8, [where we find] “A rich gnofe; a rich grub, or miserable caitiff, as I render it; which interpretation, to be proper and significant, I gather by the sence of that antient metre:
This, as I conceive, explains the author’s meaning; which seems no less seconded by that antient English bard:
The note in Bell’s Chaucer, connecting it with oaf, is wrong. The carpenter’s name was John (l. 3501).
3190. This shews that students used often to live in lodgings, as is so common at Cambridge, where the number of students far exceeds the number of college-rooms.
3192, 3. Chaucer himself knew something of astrology, as shewn by his numerous references to it. The word conclusions in l. 3193 is the technical name for ‘propositions’ or problems. In his Treatise on the Astrolabe, prologue (l. 9), he says to his son Lowis—‘I purpose to teche thee a certein nombre of conclusions apertening to the same instrument.’ We here learn that one object of astrology was to answer questions relating to coming weather, as well as with reference to almost every other future event.
3195.in certein houres. In astrology, much depended on times; certain times were supposed to be more favourable than others for obtaining solutions of problems. The great book for prognostications of weather was the Calendrier des Bergiers, an English version of which was frequently reprinted as The Shepheards Kalendar. The old almanacks also predicted the weather; see Ben Jonson’s Every Man Out of his Humour, A. i. sc. 1—‘Enter Sordido, with an almanack in his hand.’
3199.hende, gracious, mild; hence, gentle, courteous; orig. near at hand, hence, useful, serviceable; A. S. gehende. Ill spelt hendy in Tyrwhitt. Several passages from this Tale are quoted and illustrated by Warton, Hist. E. Poetry, sect. xvi; which see.
3203.hostelrye, lodging. Nicholas had his room to himself; whereas it was usual for two or more students to have a room in common, even in college.
3207.cetewale, zedoary; but commonly, though improperly, applied to valerian (Valeriana pyrenaica); also spelt setwall. Gerarde, in his Herball (ed. 1597, p. 919), says that ‘it hath beene had (and is to this day among the poore people of our northerne parts) in such veneration amongst them, that no brothes, pottages, or phisicall meates are woorthe anything, if setwall were not at one end’; &c. See Britten’s Plant-Names (E. D. S.). See note to B. 1950.
3208.Almageste; Arab. almajistī; from al, the, and majistī, for Gk. μεγίστη, short for μεγίστη σύνταξις, ‘greatest composition,’ a name given to the great astronomical treatise of Ptolemy; hence extended to signify, as here, a text-book on astrology. See Hallam, Middle Ages, c. i. 77. Ptolemy’s work ‘was in thirteen books. He also wrote four books of judicial astrology. He was an Egyptian astrologist, and flourished under Marcus Antoninus.’—Warton. See D. 182, 325, 2289. And see my note to Chaucer’s Astrolabe, i. 17; vol. iii. p. 354.
3209. See Chaucer’s own treatise on The Astrolabe, which he describes. It was an instrument consisting of several flat circular brass plates, with two revolving pointers, used for taking altitudes, and other astronomical purposes.
longinge for, suitable for, belonging to.
3210.augrim-stones, counters for calculation. Augrim is algorism (see New Eng. Dict.), or the Arabic system of arithmetic, performed with the Arabic numerals, which became known in Europe from translations of a work on algebra by the Arab mathematician Abu Ja’far Mohammed Ben Musa, surnamed al-Khowārazmī, or the native of Khwārazm (Khiva). Chaucer speaks of ‘nombres in augrim’; Astrolabe, i. 9. 3.
3212.falding, a kind of coarse cloth; see note on A. 391.
3216.Angelus ad virginem. This hymn occurs in MS. Arundel 248, leaf 154, written about 1260, both in Latin and English, and with musical notes. It is printed, with a facsimile of part of the MS., at p. 695 of the print of MS. Harl. 7334, issued by the Chaucer Society. The first verse of the Latin version runs thus:—
Hence the subject of the anthem is the Annunciation.
3217.the kinges note, the name of some tune or song. There is nothing to identify it with a chant royal, described by Warton, Hist. E. Poet. ii. 221, note b. Warton says that ‘Chaucer calls the chant royal . . . a kingis note.’ But Chaucer says ‘the kinges note,’ which makes all the difference; it is merely a bad guess. A song entitled ‘Kyng villyamis note,’ or ‘King William’s note,’ is mentioned in the Complaint of Scotland (1549), ed. Murray, p. 64.
3220. ‘According to the money provided by his friends and his own income.’
3223.eight-e-ten-e has four syllables; cf. B. 5. Tyrwhitt read it as of two syllables, and inserted I gesse after she was. He duly notes that the words I gesse are ‘not in the MSS.’
3226. ‘And considered himself to be like.’ Tyrwhitt has belike, which he probably took to be an adverb; but this is a gross anachronism. The adv. belike is unknown earlier than the year 1533.
3227.Catoun, Dionysius Cato; see note to G. 688. But Tyrwhitt notes, that ‘the maxim here alluded to is not properly one of Cato’s; but I find it (he says) in a kind of Supplement to the Moral Distichs entitled Facetus, int. Auctores octo morales, Lugd. 1538, cap. iii.
He refers to the catalogue of MSS. in Trin. Coll. Dublin, No. 275 (under Urbanus, another name for Facetus); and to Bale, Cent. iii. 17, and Fabricius, Bib. Med. Aetatis.
3230. Note is, in the singular. ‘Crabbed age and youth cannot live together’;—Passionate Pilgrim.
3235.ceynt, girdle; barred, adorned with cross stripes. Warton could not understand the word; but a bar is a transverse stripe on a girdle or belt, as in A. 329, which see.
3236–7.barm-clooth, lap-cloth, i. e. an apron ‘over her loins.’ gore, a triangular slip, used as an insertion to widen a garment in any particular place. The apron spread out towards the bottom, owing rather, it appears, to inserted ‘gores’ below than to pleats above. Or the pleats may be called gores here, from their triangular shape. Cf. A. S. gāra, an angular projection of land, as in Kensington Gore. ‘Gheroni, the gores or gussets of a smocke or shirt’; Florio’s Ital. Dict. See note to B. 1979, and the note to l. 3321 below.
3238.brouded, embroidered; cf. B. 3659, Leg. Good Women, 227. Of in l. 3240 means ‘with.’
3241.voluper, lit. ‘enveloper’ or ‘wrapper’; hence, kerchief, or cap. In l. 4303, it means a night-cap. In Wright’s Vocabularies, it translates Lat. calamandrum (568, 28), inuolutarium (590, 28), and mafora (594, 19). In the Prompt. Parv. we find: ‘volypere, kerche, teristrum’; and in the Catholicon, ‘volyper, caliend[r]um.’ In Baret’s Alvearie, h. 596, we find: ‘A woman’s cap, hood, or bonet, Calyptra, Caliendrum.’ The tapes of this cap were ‘of the same suit’ as the embroidery of her collar, i. e. were of black silk.
3245.smale y-pulled, i. e. partly plucked out, to make them narrow, even, and well-marked.
3247. Tyrwhitt at first had ‘for to see,’ but corrected it to ‘on to see,’ i. e. to look upon. Cf. Leg. Good Women, 2425.
3248.pere-ionette, early-ripe pear. Tyrwhitt refers us to a F. poire jeunette, or an Ital. pero giovanetto, i. e. very young pear-tree; but I believe the explanation is as imaginary as are these terms, which I seek for in vain. I take it that he has been misled by a false etymology from F. jeune, Ital. giovane, young, whereas the reference is to the early-ripe pear called in O.F. poire de hastivel (F. hâtiveau); see hastivel in Godefroy. The corresponding E. term is gennitings, applied to apples, but applicable to pears also; and I take the etymology to be from F. Jean, John, because such apples and pears ripen about St. John’s day (June 24), which is very early. Cotgrave has: ‘Hastivel, a soon-ripe apple, called the St. John’s apple.’ Littré, s. v. poire, has: ‘La poire appellée à Paris de messire Jean est celle qu’en Dauphiné et Languedoc l’on nomme de coulis.’ Lacroix (Manners, &c. during the Middle Ages, p. 116) says that, in the thirteenth century, one of the best esteemed pears was the hastiveau, which was ‘an early sort, and no doubt the golden pear now called St. Jean.’ Finally, we learn from Piers Plowman, C. xiii. 221, that ‘pere-Ionettes’ were very sweet and very early ripe, and therefore very soon rotten; see my note to that line. The text, accordingly, compares this young and forward beauty to the newe (i.e. fresh-leaved) early-ripe pear-tree; and there is much propriety in the simile. Of course, this explanation is somewhat of a guess; and perhaps I may add another possible etymology, viz. from jaune, yellow, with reference to the golden colour of the pear. Cf. jaulnette, in Cotgrave, as a name for St. John’s wort, and the form floure-jonettis in the King’s Quair, st. 47.
3251. ‘With silk tassels, and pearls (or pearl-shaped knobs or buttons) made of the metal called latoun.’ Such is Tyrwhitt’s simple explanation. In Riley’s Memorials of London, p. 398, we find that a man was accused of having ‘silvered 240 buttons of latone . . . for purses.’ The notes in Warton are doubly misleading, first confusing latoun with cheklatoun (which are unconnected words), and then quoting the expression ‘perled cloth of gold,’ which is another thing again. As to latoun, see note to C. 350, and cf. A. 699, B. 2067, &c.
3254.popelote, darling, poppet. Not connected with papillon, but with F. poupée and E. puppet. Halliwell gives: ‘Poplet, a term of endearment, generally applied to a young girl: poppet is still in common use.’ Cotgrave has: ‘Popelin, masc. a little finicall darling.’ Godefroy gives: ‘poupelet, m. petit poupon.’
3256. Wright says: ‘The gold noble of this period was a very beautiful coin; specimens are engraved in Ruding’s Annals of the Coinage. It was coined in the Tower of London [as here said], the place of the principal London mint.’ It was worth 6s. 8d., and first coined about 1339. See C. 907, and note.
3258. ‘Sitting on a barn.’ Repeated in C. 397.
3261.bragot, a sweet drink, made of ale and honey fermented together; afterwards, the honey was replaced by sugar and spice. See Bragget in New E. Dict. The full receipt for ‘Braket’ is given in Strutt, Manners and Customs, iii. 74; it contained 4 gallons of ale to a pint of honey. In 1783, it was made of ale, sugar, and spices, and drunk at Easter; Brand, Pop. Antiq. i. 112. Spelt bragot, Palladius on Husbandry, p. 90, l. 812; &c. Of British origin; Welsh bragawd; cf. O. Irish brac, later braich, malt. See also the note on Bragott in the Catholicon, ed. Herrtage.
3262. Cf. ‘An appyll-hurde, pomarium’; Catholicon Anglicum.
3263–4. These two lines are cited by Dryden with approval, in the Preface to his Fables, as being ‘not much behind our present English.’ We are amazed to find that Dryden condemns Chaucer’s lines as unequal; and coolly remarks that ‘equality of numbers . . . was either not known, or not always practised in Chaucer’s age.’ The black-letter editions which Dryden read were, in fact, full of misspelt words; but even in them, he might have found plenty of good lines, if he had not been so prejudiced and (to say the truth) conceited.
3268.prymerole, primrose; as in Gower, C. A. iii. 130. pigges-nye, pig’s eye, a term of endearment; pig’s eyes being (as Tyrwhitt notes) remarkably small. Cf. ‘Waked with a wench, pretty peat, pretty love, and my sweet pretty pigsnie’; Peele, Old Wives’ Tale, ed. Dyce (1883), p. 455, col. 1. And see Skelton, ed. Dyce, i. 28, ii. 97, 104. In fact, it is common. Brand, quoting Douce (Illust. of Shak. ii. 151), says that ‘Shadwell not only uses the word pigsney in this sense, but also birdsney [bird’s eye]; see his Plays, i. 357, iii. 385.’ See also pigsney in Todd’s Johnson, where one quotation has the form pigs eie. An ye became a nye; hence the pl. nyes, and even nynon (=eyne), as in Halliwell. See note to P. Plowman, C. xx. 306, where bler-eyed, i.e. blear-eyed, appears as bler-nyed in the B-text.
3269.leggen, to lay. Tyrwhitt has liggen, to lie, which is but poor grammar.
3274.Oseneye, Oseney, in the suburbs of Oxford, where there was an Abbey of St. Austin’s Canons; cf. l. 3666.
3286.harrow (Pt. harowe), a cry for help, a cry of distress; O. F. haro, harou, the same; see Godefroy. Cf. ll. 3825, 4307.
‘Primus Demon. Oute, haro, out, out! harkyn to this horne’—&c. Towneley Mysteries, Surtees Society, p. 307 (in the Mystery of “Judicium.”) So in the Coventry Mysteries, we have:—
‘Omnes demones clamant. Harrow and out! what xal we say?
‘My mother was afrayde there had ben theves in her house, and she kryed out haroll alarome (F. elle sescria harol alarme)’; Palsgrave, s. v. crye, p. 501. See Haro in Littré, hara in Schade. Cf. l. 3825; and the note in Dyce’s Skelton, ii. 274.
3291. I. e. St. Thomas of Canterbury.
3299. ‘A clerk would have employed his time ill.’
3308. Defective in the first foot; scan: Crist | es, &c. Tyrwhitt inserts Of before Cristes, and coolly observes, in his Notes, that it is ‘added from conjecture only.’ He might have said, that it makes bad grammar. And it is from such manipulated lines as this that the public forms its judgement of Chaucer’s verse! Is it nothing that all the authorities begin the line alike?
3316.shode, not ‘hair,’ as in Tyrwhitt, but ‘parting of the hair.’
3318. ‘It was the fashion to wear shoes with the upper leather cut into a variety of beautiful designs, resembling the tracery of window-heads, through which the bright colour of the green, blue, or scarlet stocking beneath was shewn to great advantage’;—Rock, Church of our Fathers, ii. 239, with illustrations at p. 240. Poules windowes, windows like those in St. Paul’s Cathedral; hence, designs resembling them. Wright conjectures that there may even be a reference to the rose-window of old St. Paul’s; and he says that examples of such shoes still exist, in the museum of Mr. C. Roach Smith. Good illustrations of these beautifully cut shoes are given in Fairholt’s Costume, pp. 64, 65, who also notes that ‘in Dugdale’s view of old St. Paul’s . . . the rose-window in the transept is strictly analogous in design.’ The Latin name for such shoes was calcei fenestrati, which see in Ducange. Rock also quotes the phrase corium fenestratum from Pope Innocent III. Observe the mention of his scarlet hose in the next line. Cf. note to Rom. of the Rose, 843, in vol. i. p. 423.
3321.wachet, a shade of blue. Tyrwhitt wrongly connects it with the town of Watchet, in Somersetshire. But it is French. Littré, s. v. vaciet, gives: ‘Couleur d’hyacinthe ou vaciet,’ colour of the hyacinth, or bilberry (Lat. uaccinium). Roquefort defines vaciet as a shrub which bears a dark fruit fit for dyeing violet; it is applied, he says, both to the fruit and the dye; and he calls it Vaccinium hysginum. Phillips says watchet is ‘a kind of blew colour.’ Todd’s Johnson cites from Milton’s Hist. of Muscovia, c. 5, ‘watchet or sky-coloured cloth’; and the line, ‘Who stares, in Germany, at watchet eyes,’ tr. of Juvenal, Sat. xiii, wrongly attributed to Dryden. See examples in Nares from Browne, Lyly, Drayton, and Taylor: and, in Richardson, from Beaumont and Fletcher, Hackluyt, Spenser, and Ben Jonson. Cotgrave explains F. pers as ‘watchet, blunket, skie-coloured,’ and couleur perse as ‘skie-colour, azure-colour, a blunket, or light blue.’ See Blunket in the New E. Dict., and my article in Philolog. Soc. Trans. Nov. 6, 1885, p. 329. Webster has ‘watchet stockings,’ The Malcontent, A. iii. sc. 1. Lydgate has ‘watchet blewe’; see Warton, Hist. Eng. Poet. (1840), ii. 280.
3322.poyntes, tagged laces, as in Shakespeare. MS. Hl. has here a totally different line, involving the word gores (cf. l. 3237 above), viz. ‘Schapen with goores in the newe get,’ i. e. in the new fashion.
3329. Tyrwhitt says:—‘The school of Oxford seems to have been in much the same estimation for its dancing, as that of Stratford for its French’; see l. 125. He probably meant this satirically; but it may mean the very opposite, or something nearly so. The Stratford-at-Bow French was excellent of its kind, but unlike that of France (see note to l. 125); and probably the Oxford dancing was, likewise, of no mean quality after its kind, having twenty ‘maneres.’
3331.rubible; also ribible (4396). Cf. ‘where was his fedylle [fiddle] or hys ribible’; Knight de la Tour, cap. 117. See Ribibe, Ribible in Halliwell; The Squire of Low Degree (in Ritson), l. 1071; Warton, Hist. Eng. Poetry, ii. 194. Also called a rebeck, as in Milton. A two-stringed musical instrument, played with a bow, of Moorish origin; Arab. rabāb. ‘Hec vitula, a rybybe’; Wright’s Gloss. 738. 19.
3332.quinible. Not a musical instrument, as Tyrwhitt supposed, but a kind of voice. It is not singing consecutive fifths upon a plain song, as Mr. Chappell once thought (Pop. Music of the Olden Time, i. 34); but, as afterwards explained by him in Notes and Queries, 4 S. vi. 117, it refers to a very high voice. The quinible was an octave higher than the treble; the quatreble was an octave higher than the mean. The mean was intermediate between the plain-song or tenor (so called from its holding on the notes) and the treble. It means ‘at the extreme pitch of the voice.’ Skelton miswrites it quibyble.
3333.giterne, a kind of guitar. ‘The gittern and the kit the wand’ring fiddlers like’; Drayton, Polyolbion, song 4. See note to P. Pl. C. xvi. 208; Prompt. Parv. p. 196.
3337.squaymous, squeamish, particular. Tyrwhitt says—‘I know not how to make this sense agree with what follows’ (l. 3807). But it is easy to understand that he was, ordinarily, squeamish, retentive; exceptionally, far otherwise. In the Knight de la Tour, cap. cxiv, p. 155, there is a story of a lady who waited on her old husband, and nursed him under most trying conditions; ‘and unnethe there might haue be founde a woman but atte sum tyme she wolde haue lothed her, or ellys to haue be right scoymous ta haue do the seruice as thes good lady serued her husbonde contynuelly.’ In a version of the Te Deum, composed about 1400, we read—‘Thou were not skoymus of the maidens wombe’; Maskell, Monumenta Ritualia, ii. 141 . Cf. ‘squaymose, verecundus,’ Catholicon; ‘skeymowse, or sweymows or queymows, abhominativus’; Prompt. Parv. Spelt squmous (badly), Court of Love, l. 332; and sqymouse in Morris’s reprint of it. See Desdaigneux in Cotgrave. ‘To be squamish, or nice, delicias facere’; Baret’s Alvearie. ‘They that be subiect to Saturne . . . be not skoymous of foule and stinking clothing’; Batman on Bartholomè, lib. 8. c. 23. In Weber’s Metrical Romances, i. 359, we find:
These examples quite establish the sense. The derivation is from the rare A.F. escoymous, which occurs in P. Meyer’s ed. of Nicole Bozon (Soc. des Anc. Textes Français), p. 158:—‘si il poy mange e beyt poy, lors est gageous ou escoymous,’ if he eats and drinks little, then is he delicate or nice. Robert of Brunne has the spelling esquaymous; Handlyng Synne, l. 7249.
3338.dangerous, sparing; see the Glossary.
3340. Cutts (Scenes and Characters of the Middle Ages, p. 219) seems to think that the clerk went about the parish with his censer, as he sometimes certainly went about with holy water. Warton, on the other hand, says that ‘on holidays it was his business to carry the censer about the church, and he takes this opportunity of casting unlawful glances on the handsomest ladies of the parish.’ Warton is clearly right here, for there is an allusion to the ladies coming forward with the usual offering (l. 3350); cf. note to A. 450. And see Persones Tale, I. 407.
3354.for paramours, for love’s sake: a redundant expression, since par means ‘for.’ Cf. n. to l. 1155, at p. 67.
3358.shot-windowe. Brockett’s Northern Glossary gives: ‘Shot-window, a projecting window, common in old houses’; but this may have been copied from Horne Tooke, who seems to have guessed at, and misunderstood, the passage, below, in Gawain Douglas. In the new edition of Jamieson, Mr. Donaldson defines Schot as ‘a window set on hinges and opening like a shutter,’ and explains that, ‘in the West of Scotland, a projecting window is called an out-shot window, whereas a shot-window or shot is one that can be opened or shut like a door or shutter by turning on its hinges.’ It is material to the story that the window here mentioned should be readily opened and shut. The passage in G. Douglas’s tr. of Virgil, prol. to bk. vii, evidently refers to a window of this character, as the poet first says:—
‘Ane schot-wyndo vnschet a lytill on char,’
i. e. I unshut the shot-window, and left it a little ajar; and he goes on to say that the weather was so cold that he soon shut it again—
‘The schot I clossit, and drew inwart in hy.’
See also ll. 3695, 6 below. In the next line, upon merely means ‘in’ or ‘formed in.’
It is curious that, in Bell’s Chaucer, a quotation is given from the Ballad of Clerk Saunders (Border Minstrelsy, vol. ii.) to shew that shot-window cannot mean ‘shut window.’ But it does not prove that it cannot mean ‘hinge-shutting window,’ as I have shewn the right sense to be.
3361. Tyrwhitt absurdly says that ll. 3361, 3362 should be broken into four short verses, and that ladý (sic) rimes with be! In Bell’s edition, they are printed in small type! They are just ordinary lines; and be (pronounced nearly as modern bay) certainly never rimed with lády—nor yet with la-dý—in Chaucer’s time, when the final y was sounded like the modern ee in meet, and would rather have rimed with a word like my. It is a mere whim.
3375.menes, intermediate people, go-betweens; see Mene, sb., in Gloss. to P. Plowman, with numerous references. Brocage is the employment of a ‘broker’ or agent, and so means much the same. See Brokage in New E. Dict., and Brocage in Gloss. to P. Plowman.
3377.brokkinge, with quick regular interruptions, quavering, in a ‘broken’ manner. See Brock in New E. Dict.
3379.wafres, wafers. ‘They (F. gaufres) are usually sold at fairs, and are made of a kind of batter poured into an iron instrument, which shuts up like a pair of snuffers. It is then thrust into the fire, and when it is with-drawn and opened, the gaufre, or wafer, is taken out and eaten “piping hote out of the glede,” as here described.’—Note in Bell’s Chaucer.
3380.mede, reward, money; distinct from meeth, mead, in l. 3378. The sense of mede is very amply illustrated in P. Plowman. L. 3380 intimates that, as she lived in a town, she could spend money at any time.
3382. A side-note, in several MSS., says: ‘Unde Ouidius: Ictibus agrestis.’ But the quotation is not from Ovid.
3384. The parish-clerks often took part in the Mystery Plays. The part of Herod was an important one; cf. Hamlet, iii. 2. 15.
3387. ‘I presume this was a service that generally went unrewarded.’—Wright. It was like ‘piping in an ivy-leaf’; see A. 1838.
3389.ape, dupe; as in A. 706.
3392. Gower has the like, ed. Pauli, i. 343:—
Hending, among his Proverbs, has—‘Fer from eye, fer from herte,’ answering to the mod. E. ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ Kemble cites: ‘Quod raro cernit oculi lux, cor cito spernit,’ from MS. Trin. Coll., fol. 365. Also ‘Qui procul est oculis, procul est a lumine cordis,’ from Gartner, Dict. 8 b.
3427.deyde, should die; subjunctive mood.
3430.that . . him is equivalent to whom. Cf. A. 2710.
3445.kyked, stared, gazed; see l. 3841. Cf. Scotch keek, to peep, pry; Burns has it in his Twa Dogs, l. 58.
3449. The carpenter naturally invokes St. Frideswide, as there was a priory of St. Frideswide at Oxford, the church of which has become the present cathedral. The shrine of St. Frideswide is still to be seen, though in a fragmentary state, at the east end of the cathedral, on its former site near the original chancel-arches and wall of her early stone church. In this line, seint-e has the fem. suffix.
3451.astromye is obviously intentional, as it fills up the line, and is repeated six lines below. The carpenter was not strong in technical terms. In like manner, he talks of ‘Nowelis flood’; see note to l. 3818. The reading astronomy just spoils both lines, and loses the jest.
3456. ‘That knows nothing at all except his Creed.’
3457. This story is told of Thales by Plato, in his Theaetetus; it also occurs, says Tyrwhitt, in the Cento Novelle Antiche, no. 36. It has often been repeated, and may now be found in James’s edition of Æsop, 1852, Fable 170.
3469. Nearly repeated from A. 545.
3479. ‘I defend thee with the sign of the cross from elves and living creatures.’ At the same time, the carpenter would make the sign over him. Wightes does not mean ‘witches,’ as Tyrwhitt thought, but ‘creatures.’ Cf. l. 3484.
3480.night-spel, night-spell, a charm said at night to keep off evil spirits. The carpenter says it five times, viz. towards the four corners of the house and on the threshold. The charm is contained in lines 3483–6, and is partly intentional nonsense, as such charms often were. See several unintelligible examples in Cockayne’s Leechdoms, iii. 286. The object of saying it four times towards the four corners of the house was to invoke the four evangelists, just as in the child’s hymn still current, which is, in fact, a charm:—
Lines 3483–4 are clear, viz. ‘May Jesus Christ and St. Benedict bless this house from every wicked creature.’ As this is a reproduction of a popular saying, it is not necessary that the lines should scan; still, they run correctly, if we pronounce seynt as se-ynt, as elsewhere (note to A. 509), and if we take both to be defective at the beginning. The last two lines are mere scraps of older charms. It is just possible that for nightes verye1 represents an A. S. for nihte werigum, ‘against the evil spirits of night’; against whom ‘the white Paternoster’ is to be said. The reading white is perfectly correct. There really was a prayer so called. See Notes and Queries, 1 Ser. xi. 206, 313; whence we learn that the charm above quoted, beginning ‘Matthew, Mark,’ &c., resembles one in the Patenôtre Blanche, to be found in the (apocryphal) Enchiridion Leonis Papae (Romae, mdclx), where occurs:—‘Petite Patenôtre Blanche, que Dieu fit, que Dieu dit, que Dieu mit en Paradis. Au soir m’allant coucher, je trouvis trois anges à mon lit, couchès, un aux pieds, deux au chevet’; &c. Here is a charm that mentions it, quoted in Notes and Queries, 1 Ser. viii. 613:—
The mention of St. Peter’s brother is remarkable. It is a substitution for the older ‘Saint Peter’s sister’ here mentioned. Again, St. Peter’s sister is a substitution for St. Peter’s daughter, who is a well-known saint, usually called St. Petronilla, or, in English, Saint Parnell, once a very common female name, and subsequently a surname. Her day is May 31, and she was said to cure the quartan ague; see Brand, Pop. Antiq., ed. Ellis, i. 363. A curious passage in the Ancren Riwle, p. 47, gives directions for crossing oneself at night, and particularly mentions the use of four crosses on ‘four halves,’ or in the original, ‘vour creoices a uour halue’; with the remark ‘Crux fugat omne malum,’ &c. For ‘Rural Charms,’ see the chapter in Brand’s Popular Antiquities, vol. iii.; and see the charm against rats in Political and Love Poems, ed. Furnivall, p. 23. I may add that, in Kemble’s Solomon and Saturn, p. 136, is an A. S. poem, in which the Paternoster is personified, and destroys evil spirits. In Longfellow’s Golden Legend, § II., Lucifer is made to say a Black Paternoster.
3507. ‘That, if you betray me, you shall go mad (as a punishment).’
3509.labbe, chatterbox, talkative person. In P. Plowm. C. xiii. 39, we find the phrase ‘ne labbe it out,’ i. e. do not chatter about it, do not utter it foolishly. In the Romans of Partenay, ed. Skeat, 3751, we find: ‘a labbyng tonge’; and Chaucer has elsewhere: ‘a labbing shrewe,’ E. 2428. Sewel’s Du. Dict. (1754) gives: ‘labben, or labbekakken, to blab, chat’; also ‘labbekak, a tattling gossip, a common blab’; and ‘labbery, chat, idle talk.’
3512.him, i. e. Christ. The story of the Harrowing (or despoiling) of Hell by Christ is derived from the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus, and is a favourite and common subject in our older authors. It describes the descent of Christ into hell, after His crucifixion, in order to release the souls of the patriarchs, whom He takes with Him to paradise. It is given at length in P. Plowman, Text C. Pass. xxi; and was usually introduced into the mystery plays; see the Coventry Mysteries, the York Plays, &c. See also Cursor Mundi, 17,863; Ayenbite of Inwyt, p. 12; &c.
3516. ‘On Monday next, at the end of the first quarter of the night,’ i. e. about 9 p.m. Cf. ll. 3554, 3645.
3530. See Ecclesiasticus, xxxii. 24 [Eng. version, 19]; this was not said by ‘Solomon,’ but by Jesus, son of Sirach. It is quoted again in the Tale of Melibeus; B. 2193.
3539. ‘The trouble endured by Noah and his company.’ Noë is the form in the Latin Vulgate version. The allusion is to the intentionally comic scene introduced into the mystery plays, as, e. g. in the Chester Plays, the Towneley Plays, and the York Plays, in which Noah and his sons (felawshipe) have much ado to induce Noah’s wife to enter the ark; and, in the course of the scene, she gives Noah a sound box on the ear.
3548.kimelin, a large shallow tub; especially one used for brewing; see Prompt. Parv. p. 274; and Kimnell in Miss Jackson’s Shropshire Glossary.
3554.pryme, i. e. about 9 a.m. See note to F. 73.
3565. This shows that the hall was open to the roof, with cross-beams, and that the stable was attached to it, between it and the garden.
3590.sinne, i. e. venial sin; see I. 859, 904, 920.
3598. Evidently a common proverb.
3616. It is obvious that the first foot is defective.
3624.His owne hand, with his own hand. Tyrwhitt points out the same idiom in Gower, ed. Pauli, ii. 83:—
And again, id. ii. 310:—
‘Thing which he said his owne mouth.’
3625.ronges, rungs, rounds, steps; stalkes, upright pieces. To climb by the rungs and the stalks means to employ the hands as well as the feet. A rung was also called a stayre (stair); and stalke is the diminutive of stele, a handle, which was another name for the upright part of a ladder. In Allit. Poems, ed. Morris, C. 513, the author complains that some people cannot tell the difference between a stele and a stayre; and, in fact, the Glossary does not point it out. In the Ancren Riwle, p. 354, we find mention of the two ladder-stales that are upright to the heaven, between which stales the tinds (or rungs) are fastened. This makes the sense perfectly clear.
3637.a furlong-way, a few minutes; exactly, two minutes and a half, at the rate of three miles an hour.
3638. ‘Now say a Paternoster, and keep silence.’ Accordingly, the carpenter ‘says his devotion.’ ‘Clom!’ is a word imposing silence, like ‘mum!’ So in the Ayenbite of Inwyt, p. 266, we find: ‘Yef ye me wylleth y-here, habbeth amang you clom and reste’; i. e. if you wish to hear me, keep among you silence and rest.
3645.corfew-tyme, probably 8 p.m. The original time for ringing the curfew-bell, as a signal for putting out fires and lights, was eight o’clock. The custom has been kept up in some places till the present day; the hour for it is sometimes 8 p.m., and sometimes 9 p.m. In olden times, mention is usually made of the former of these hours; see Brand, Pop. Antiq. ii. 220; Prompt. Parv. p. 110. People invariably went to bed very early; see l. 3633.
3655. The service of lauds followed that of nocturns; the latter originally began at midnight, but usually somewhat later. The time indicated seems to have been just before daybreak. ‘These nocturns should begin at such a time as to be ended just as morning’s twilight broke, so that the next of her services, the lauds, or matutinae laudes, might come on immediately after.’—Rock, Church of our Fathers, iii. 2. 6. From l. 3731, we learn, however, that the night was still ‘as dark as pitch.’ Perhaps the time was between two and three o’clock, as Wright suggests.
3668.the grange, lit. granary; but the term was applied to a farmhouse and granary on an estate belonging to a feudal manor or (as here) to a religious house. As the estate often lay at some distance from the abbey, it might be necessary for the carpenter, who went to cut down trees, to stay at the grange for the night. Cf. note to P. Pl. C. xx. 71; and Prompt. Parv. (s. v. grawnge).
3675.at cockkes crowe; cf. l. 3687. The expression in l. 3674 must refer to Monday: the ‘cock-crow’ refers to Tuesday morning, when it was still pitch-dark (l. 3731). The time denoted by the ‘first cock-crow’ is very vague; see the Chapter on Cock-crowing in Brand’s Pop. Antiquities. The ‘second cock-crow’ seems to be about 3 a.m., as in Romeo and Juliet, iv. 4. 4; and the ‘first cock-crow,’ shortly after midnight, as in K. Lear, iii. 4. 121, 1 Hen. IV. ii. 1. 20. An early mention of the first cock occurs in Ypomedon, 783, in Weber’s Met. Romances, ii. 309:—‘And at the fryst cokke roos he.’ The clearest statement is in Tusser’s Husbandrie, sect. 74 (E. D. S. p. 165), where he says that cocks crow ‘At midnight, at three, and an hower ere day,’ which he afterwards explains by ‘past five.’
3682. On ‘itching omens,’ see Miss Burne’s Shropshire Folk-Lore, p. 269. ‘If your right hand itches, you will receive money; . . . if your nose itches, you will be kissed, cursed, or vexed.’
3684. Cf. ‘If [in a dream] you see many loaves, it portends joy’; A. S. Leechdoms, iii. 215.
3689.at point-devys, with all exactness, precisely, very neatly; cf. As You Like It, iii. 2. 401. O. F. devis, ‘ordre, beauté; a devis, par devis, en bel ordre, d’une manière bien ordonnée, à gré, à souhait’; Godefroy. See F. 560; Rom. of the Rose, 1215.
3690.greyn, evidently some sweet or aromatic seed or spice; apparently cardamoms, otherwise called grains of Paradise (New E. Dict.) ‘Greynys, spyce, Granum Paradisi’; Prompt. Parv.; see Way’s note. Cf. Rom. of the Rose, 1369, and the note (vol. i. p. 428).
3692.trewe-love, (probably) a leaf of herb-paris; in the efficacy of which he had some superstitious belief. True-love is sometimes used as an abbreviation of true-love knot, as in the last stanza of the Court of Love; and such is the case here. True-love knots were of various shapes; see pictures of four such in Ogilvie’s Dictionary. Some had four loops, which gave rise to the name true-love as applied to herb-paris. Gerarde’s Herball, 1597, p. 328, thus describes herb-paris (Paris quadrifolia):—At the top of the stalk ‘come foorth fower leaves directly set one against another, in manner of a Burgonnion crosse or a true love knot; for which cause among the auncients it hath beene called herbe Truelove.’ It is still called True Love’s Knot in Cumberland.
3700. Note the rime of tó me with cinam-ó-me.
3708.Iakke, Jack, here an epithet of a fool, like Iankin (B. 1172); and see note to B. 4000. Cf. E. zany.
3709. ‘It wilt not be (a case of) come-kiss-me.’ Chaucer has ba, to kiss, D. 433; and come-ba-me, i.e. come kiss me, is here used as a phrase; so that the line simply means ‘you certainly will not get a kiss!’ Observe the rime with bla-me. Bas also meant to kiss, and Skelton uses the words together (ed. Dyce, i. 22):—
i.e. with repeated kisses on cheek and chin. So again (i. 127) we find: ‘bas me, buttyng, praty Cys!’ And so again (ii. 6): ‘bas me, swete Parrot, bas me, swete, swete!’ Further illustration is afforded by Burton’s Anat. of Melancholy, pt. 3. sec. 2. mem. 4. subsec. 1: ‘Yea, many times, this love will make old men and women . . . dance, come-kiss-me-now, mask, and mum.’ This complete explanation of an old crux was first given by Mr. Ellis, in 1870, in his Early Eng. Pronunciation, p. 715, who notes that the reading com ba me is fairly well supported; see his Critical Note. Several MSS. turn it into compame, which is clearly due to the influence of the familiar word companye, which repeatedly ends a line in Chaucer. Mr. Ellis well remarks—‘Com ba me! was probably the name of a song, like . . . the modern “Kiss me quick, and go, my love.” It is also probable that Absolon’s speech contained allusions to it, and that it was very well known at the time.’
The curious part of the story is that, in 1889, I adopted the same reading independently, and for precisely similar reasons. But Mr. Ellis was before me, by nineteen years. See l. 3716 below.
The following MSS. (says Mr. Ellis) read combame; viz. Harl. 7335—Camb. Univ. Library, Ii. 3. 26—Trin. Coll. Camb. R. 3. 3—Rawl. MS. Poet. 141. Bodl. 414 has cum bame; whilst Rawl. Misc. 1133 and Laud 739 have come ba me.
3713. Lit. ‘in the way to twenty devils’; hence, in the name of twenty devils. ‘In the twenty deuyll way, Au nom du grant diable’; Palsgrave (1852), p. 838. See ll. 3134, 4257.
3721–2. These two lines are in E. only; Tyrwhitt omits them. But the old black-letter editions retain them.
3723. He knelt down, because the window was so low (3696).
3725. Cf. ‘For who-so kissing may attayne’; Rom. Rose, 3677; and Ovid, Ars Amatoria, i. 669.
3726.thyn ore, thy favour, thy grace; the words ‘grant me’ being understood. It is not uncommon.
‘I haue siked moni syk, lemmon, for thin ore’;
Böddeker’s Altengl. Dichtungen, p. 174.
See Specimens of E. Eng., Part I; Glossary to Havelok; &c.
3728.com of, i. e. be quick; like Have do, have done! We now say ‘come on!’ But strictly, come on means ‘begin,’ and come off means ‘make an end.’
3751. ‘If it be not so that, rather than possess all this town, I would like to be avenged.’
3770.viritoot must be accepted as the reading; the reading verytrot in MS. Hl. gives a false rime, as the oo in woot is long. The meaning is unknown; but the context requires the sense of ‘upon the move,’ or ‘astir.’ My guess is that viri- is from F. virer, to turn (cf. E. virelay), and that toot represents O. F. tot (L. totum, F. tout), all; so that viritoot may mean ‘turn-all.’ Cotgrave gives virevoulte, ‘a veere, whirle a round gamball, friske, or turne,’ like the Portuguese viravolta. The form verytrot (very trot) is clearly due to an attempt to make sense. MS. Cam. has merytot, possibly with reference to M. E. merytoter, a swing (Catholicon); which is derived from mery, merry, and toteren, to totter, oscillate. In the North of England, a swing is still called a merry-trotter (corruption of merry-totter), as noted by Haliiwell, who remarks that ‘the meritot is mentioned by Chaucer,’ which is not the fact. Both these ‘glosses’ give the notion of movement, as this is obviously the general sense implied. Whatever the reading may be, we can see the sense, viz. ‘some gay girl (euphemism for light woman) has brought you thus so early astir’; and Gervase accordingly goes on to say, ‘you know what I mean.’
Ed. 1561 has berytote, a misprint for verytote.
3771. Here as elsewhere, se-ynt is dissyllabic; several MSS. have seinte, but this can hardly be right. For Note, MSS. Pt. Hl. have Noet, meaning St. Neot, whose day is Oct. 28, and whose name remains in St. Neot’s, in Cornwall, and St. Neot’s, in Huntingdonshire. He died about 877; see Wright’s Biogr. Brit. Litt., A. S. Period, p. 381. The spelling Note is remarkable, as the mod. E. name (pronounced as Neet, riming with feet) suggests the A. S. form Nēot, and M. E. Neet.
3774. A proverbial phrase. Tyrwhitt quotes from Froissart, v. iv. p. 92, ed. 1574; ‘Il aura en bref temps autres estoupes en sa quenoille.’ To ‘have tow on one’s distaff’ is to have a task in hand. ‘Towe on my dystaf have I for to spynne’; Hoccleve, De Regimine Principum, p. 45.
3777.As lene, pray lend; see note to E. 7.
3782. MS. Hl. has fo, which is silently altered to fote by Bell and Wright. Tyrwhitt also has fote, which he found in the black-letter editions. The reading foo is probably quite right, and is an intentional substitution for foot. It is notorious that oaths were constantly made unmeaning, to avoid a too open profanity. In Chaucer, we have cokkes bones, H. 9, I. 29, and Corpus bones, C. 314. Another corruption of a like oath is ’s foot, Shak. Troil. ii. 3. 6, which is docked at the other end. It is poor work altering MSS. so as to destroy evidence. Cristes foo might mean ‘the devil’; but this is unlikely.
3785.stele, handle; i. e. by the cold end, which served as a handle. See note to D. 949. stēle, i. e. steel, would give a false rime.
3811. Tyrwhitt inserted al before aboute in his text, but withdrew it in his notes. The A. S. has hand-brǣd, but the M.E. hand-e-brede had at least three syllables, if not four. This is shewn by MS. spellings and by the metre, and still more clearly by Wyclif’s Bible, which has: ‘a spanne, that is, an handibreede,’ Ezek. xl. 5 (later version). It may have been formed by analogy with M. E. handiwerk (A. S. hand-geweorc) and handewrit (A. S. hand-gewrit). But the form is handbrede in Palladius on Husbandry, p. 80, l. 536.
3818.Nowelis flood is the mistake of the illiterate carpenter for Noes flood; see it again in l. 3834, where he is laughed at for having used the expression in his previous talks with the clerk and his wife. It is on a par with his astromye (note to l. 3451). He was less familiar with the Noe of the Bible than with the Nowel of the carolsingers at Christmas; see F. 1255. The editors carefully ‘correct’ the poet. In l. 3834, Nowélis helps the scansion, whilst Noes spoils the line, which has to be ‘amended.’ The readings are: E. Hn. as in the text; Cm. Pt. Ln. the Nowels flood; Pt. the Noes flood; Hl. He was agast and feerd of Noes flood. Tyrwhitt actually reads; He was agast-e so of Noes flood; regardless of the fact that agast has no final -e. The carpenter’s mistake is the more pardonable when we notice that Noë was sometimes used, instead of Noël, to mean ‘Christmas.’ For an example, see the Poètes de Champagne, Reims, 1851, p. 146.
3821. This singular expression is from the French. Tyrwhitt cites:—
i. e. he found no bread to sell in his descent. His reference is to the Fabliaux, t. ii. p. 282; Wright refers, for the same, to the fabliau of Aloul, in Barbazan, l. 591. I suppose the sense is, ‘he never stopped, as if to transact business.’
3822. E. Hn. celle; rest selle. The word celle might mean ‘chamber.’ There was an approach to the roof, which they had reached by help of a ladder; and the three tubs were hung among the balks which formed the roof of the principal sitting-room below. But it is difficult to see how the word celle could be applied to the chief room in the house. Tyrwhitt explains selle as ‘door-sill or threshold’; but we must bear in mind that the usual M. E. form of sill was either sille or sulle, from A. S. syll. The spelling with s proves nothing, since Chaucer undoubtedly means ‘cell’ in A. 1376, where Cm. Hl. have selle, and in B. 3162, where three MSS. (Cp. Pt. Ln.) all read selle again. Why the carpenter should have arrived at the door-sill, I do not know.
Nevertheless, upon further thoughts, I accept Tyrwhitt’s view, with some modification. We find that Chaucer actually uses Kentish forms (with e for A. S. y) elsewhere, for the sake of a rime. A clear case is that of fulfelle, in Troil. iii. 510. This justifies the dat. form selle (A. S. sylle). But we must take selle to mean ‘flooring’ or ‘boarding,’ and floor to mean the ground beneath it; just as we find, in Widegren’s Swedish Dictionary, that syll means ‘the timber next the ground.’ I would therefore read selle, with the sense of ‘flooring’; and I explain floor by ‘flat earth.’ In the allit. Morte Arthure, 3249, flores signifies ‘plains.’ In Gawayn and the Grene Knyght, 55, sille means ‘floor.’
3841. Observe the form cape, as a variant of gape, both here and in l. 3444 (see footnotes); and in Troil. v. 1133.
The Reve’s Prologue.
3855. For laughen, Tyrwhitt has laughed, and in l. 3858 has the extraordinary form lought, but he corrects the former of these in his Notes. The verb was originally strong; see examples in Stratmann, s. v. hlahhen.
3857. Repeated, nearly, in F. 202; see note.
3864.so theek, for so thee ik, so may I thrive, as I hope to thrive. The Reve came from Norfolk, and Chaucer makes him use the Northern ik for I in this expression, and again in l. 3867 (in the phrase ik am), and in l. 3888 (in the phrase ik have), but not elsewhere; whence it would seem that ik for I was then dying out in Norfolk; it has now died out even in the North. Both the Host and the Canon’s Yeoman use the Southern form so theech; see C. 947, G. 929. Cf. so the ik, P. Pl., B. v. 228.
3865. To blear (lit. to dim) one’s eye was to delude, hoodwink, or cheat a man. So also blered is thyn yë, H. 252.
3868.gras-time, the time when a horse feeds himself in the fields. My fodder is now forage, my food is now such as is provided for me; I am like a horse in winter, whose food is hay in a stable. Thynne animadverts upon this passage (Animadversions, p. 39), and says that forage means ‘such harde and olde prouisione as ys made for horses and cattle in winter.’ He remarks, justly, that forage is but loosely used in Sir Thopas, B. 1973.
3869. I take this to mean—‘my old years write (mark upon me) this white head,’ i. e. turn me grey.
3870. ‘My heart is as old (lit. mouldy) as my hairs are.’ Mouled is the old pp. out of which we have made the mod. E. mould-y, adding -y by confusion with the adj. formed from mould, the ground. It is fully explained in the Addenda to my Etym. Dict. 2nd ed. p. 818; and the verb moulen, to grow mouldy, occurs in B. 32.
3871. ‘Unless I grow like a medlar, which gets worse all the while, till it be quite rotten, when laid up in a heap of rubbish or straw.’
3876.hoppen, dance; alluding to Luke vii. 32, where Wyclif has: ‘we han sungun to you with pipis, and ye han not daunsid.’
3877.nayl, a hindrance; like a nail that holds a box from being opened, or that catches a man’s clothes, and holds him back.
3878. ‘E quegli che contro alla mia età parlando vanno, mostra mal che conoscano che, perchè il porro abbia il capo blanco, che la coda sia verde’; and, as for those that go speaking about my age, it shews that they ill understand how, although the leek has a white head, its tail (or blade) is green; Boccaccio, Decamerone; introduction to the Fourth Day. So also in Northward Ho, by Dekker and Webster, Act iv. sc. 1: ‘garlic has a white head and a green stalk’; where Dyce remarks that it occurs again in The Honest Lawyer, 1616, sig. G 2. Cf. P. Plowman, B. xiii. 352.
3878–82. Compare Alanus de Insulis, Parabolae, cap. I (in Leyser’s collection, p. 1067):—
3882. For olde, T. has cold, I cannot guess why: smouldering ashes are more likely to be hot. Old ashes mean ashes left after a fire has died down, in which, if raked together, fire can be long preserved. ‘Still, in our old ashes, is fire collected.’ See the parallel passage in Troilus, ii. 538.
In Soliman and Persida (Dodsley’s Old Plays, ed. Hazlitt, v. 339) we find:—
We are reminded of line 92 in Gray’s Elegy:—‘Ev’n in our ashes live their wonted fires’; but Gray himself tells us that he was thinking, not of Chaucer, but of Sonnet 169 (170) of Petrarch:—
i. e. which (love-songs) I see in thought, O my sweet flame, when (my) one tongue is cold, and (your) two fine eyes are closed, remaining after us, full of sparkles.
y-reke, raked or heaped together, collected. Not explained by Wright or Morris; Tyrwhitt explains it by ‘smoking,’ and takes it to be a present participle, which is impossible. It is the pt. t. of the scarce strong verb reken, pt. t. rak, pp. y-reken, y-reke, of which the primary notion was to ‘gather together.’ It occurs, just once, in Gothic, in the translation of Romans, xii. 20: ‘haurja funins rikis ana haubith is,’ i. e. coals of fire shalt thou heap together on his head. It is the very verb from which the sb. rake is derived. See Rake in my Etym. Dict., and the G. Rechen in Kluge. The notion is taken from the heaping together of smouldering ashes to preserve the fire within. Lydgate copies this image in his Siege of Troye, ed. 1555, fol. B 4:—
3895.chimbe. ‘The prominency of the staves beyond the head of the barrel. The imagery is very exact and beautiful’; Tyrwhitt. ‘Chime (pronounced choim), sb. a stave of a cask, barrel, &c.’; Leicestershire Glossary (E. D. S.) Urry gives ‘Chimbe, the Rim of a Cooper’s Vessel on the outside of the Head. The ends of the Staves from the Grooves outward are called the Chimes.’ Hexham’s Du. Dict. has: ‘Kimen, Kimmen, the Brimmes of a tubb or a barrill.’ Sewel’s Du. Dict. has: ‘Kim, the brim of a barrel.’ The Bremen Kimm signifies not only the rim of a barrel, but the edge of the horizon; cf. Dan. Kiming, Kimming, the horizon. See further in New E. Dict.
3901–2.what amounteth, to what amounts. What shul, why must.
3904. Tyrwhitt refers us to Ex sutore medicus, Phædrus, lib. i. fab. 14; and to ex sutore nauclerus, alluded to by Pynson the printer, at the end of his edition of Littleton’s Tenures, 1525 (Ames, p. 488).
3906.Depeford (lit. deep ford), Deptford; just beyond which is Grenewich, Greenwich. Thus the pilgrims had not advanced very far, considering that the Knight and Miller had both told a tale. They had made an early start, and it was now ‘half-way prime.’ ‘Deptford,’ says Dr. Furnivall, ‘is 3 miles down the road [or a little more, it depends upon whence we reckon]; and, as only the Reeve’s Tale and the incomplete Cook’s Tale follow in Group A, we must suppose that Chaucer meant to insert here [at the end of Group A] the Tales of some, at least, of the Five City-Mechanics and the Ploughman . . . . in order to bring his party to their first night’s resting-place, Dartford, 15 miles from London’; Temp. Preface, p. 19. ‘The deep ford,’ I may remark, must have been the one through the Ravensbourn. Deptford and Greenwich (where, probably, Chaucer was then residing) lay off the Old Kent Road, on the left; hence the host points them out.
half-way prime. That is, half-past seven o’clock; taking prime to mean the first quarter of the day, or the period from 6 to 9 a.m. It was also used to denote the end of that period, or 9 a.m., as in B. 4387, where the meaning is certain. In my Preface to Chaucer’s Astrolabe, (E. E. T. S.), I said: ‘What prime means in all cases, I do not pretend to say. It is a most difficult word, and I think was used loosely. It might mean the beginning or end of a period, and the period might be an hour, or a quarter of a day. I think it was to obviate ambiguity that the end of the period was sometimes expressed by high prime, or passed prime, or prime large; we also find such expressions as half prime, halfway prime, or not fully prime, which indicate a somewhat long period. For further remarks, see Mr. Brae’s Essay on Chaucer’s Prime, in his edition of the Astrolabe, p. 90. I add some references for the word prime, which may be useful. We find prime in Kn. Ta. 1331 (A. 2189); Mill. Ta. 368 (A. 3554); March. Ta. 613 (E. 1857); Pard. Ta. 200 (C. 662); Ship. Ta. 206 (B. 1396); Squi. Ta. 65 (F. 73); fully prime, Sir Topas, 114 (B. 2015); halfway prime, Reve’s Prol. 52 (A. 3906); passed prime, Ship. Ta. 88 (B. 1278), Fre. Ta. 178 (D. 1476); prime large, Squi. Ta. ii. 14 (F. 360). See also prime in Troilus, ii. 992, v. 15; passed prime, ii. 1095 (in the same); an houre after the prime, ii. 1557.’ Cf. notes to F. 73, &c.
3911.somdel, in some degree. sette his howve, the same as set his cappe, i. e. make him look foolish; see notes to A. 586, 3143. To come behind a man, and alter the look of his head-gear, was no doubt a common trick; now that caps are moveable, the perennial joy of the street-boy is to run off with another boy’s cap.
3912. ‘For it is allowable to repel (shove off) force by force.’ The Ellesmere MS. has here the sidenote—‘vim vi repellere.’
3919.stalke, (here) a bit of stick; Lat. festuca. balke, a beam; Lat. trabs. See the Vulgate version of Matt. vii. 3.
The Reves Tale.
The origin of this Tale was a French Fabliau, like one that was first pointed out by Mr. T. Wright, and printed in his Anecdota Literaria, p. 15. Another similar one is printed in Méon’s edition of Barbazan’s Fabliaux, iii. 239 (Paris, 1808). Both were reprinted for the Chaucer Society, in Originals and Analogues, &c., p. 87. See further in vol. iii. p. 397.
3921.Trumpington. The modern mill, beside the bridge over the Granta, between the villages of Trumpington and Grantchester, is familiar to all Cambridge men; but this mill and bridge are both comparatively modern, being placed upon an artificial channel. The old ‘bridge’ is that over the old river-bed, somewhat nearer Trumpington; the ‘brook’ is this old course of the Granta, which is hereabouts very narrow and circuitous; and the mill stood a quarter of a mile above the bridge, at the spot marked ‘Old Mills’ on the ordnance-map, though better known as ‘Byron’s pool,’ which is the old mill-pool. The fen mentioned in l. 4065 is probably the field between the Old Mills and the road, which must formerly have been fen-land; though Lingay Fen may be meant, which covers the space between Bourne Brook (flowing into the Granta at the Old Mills) and the Cambridge and Bedford Railway. We like to think that Chaucer saw the spot himself; but he certainly seems to have thought that Trumpington was somewhat further from Cambridge than it really is, as he actually makes the clerks to have been benighted there; and he might easily have learnt some local particulars from his wife’s friend, Lady Blaunche de Trumpington, or from Sir Roger himself. In any case, it is interesting to find him thus boldly assigning a known locality to a mill which he had found in a French fabliau.
3927.Pypen, play the bag-pipe; see A. 565. The Reeve is clearly trying to make his description suit the Miller in the company, whom it is his express object to tease. Hence he says he could wrestle well (cf. A. 548) and could play the bag-pipe.
nettes bete, mend nets; he knew how to net.
3928.turne coppes, turn cups, make wooden cups in a turning-lathe; not a very difficult operation. It is curious that Tyrwhitt gave up trying to explain this simple phrase. In Riley’s Memorials of London, p. 666, we find that, in 1418, when the English were besieging Rouen, it was enacted that ‘the turners should have 4s. for every hundred of 2,500 cups, in all 100s.’: so that a wooden cup could be turned at the cost of a halfpenny.
3929. Printed pavade by Tyrwhitt, pauade by Thynne (ed. 1532), but panade in Wright. Levins’ Manipulus Vocabulorum (1570) has: ‘A pauade,pugio’; but this is probably copied from Thynne. The exact form is not found in O. F., but Godefroy’s O. F. Dict. gives: ‘Penart, pennart, penard, panart, pannart, coutelas, espèce de grand couteau à deux tranchants ou taillants, sorte de poignard’; with seven examples, one of which shows that it could be hung at the belt: ‘Un grant pennart qu’il avoit pendu a sa sainture.’ Ducange gives the Low Lat. form penardus, and wrongly connects it with F. poignard, from which it is clearly distinct; but he also gives the form pennatum with the sense of ‘pruning-knife,’ and Torriano gives an Ital. pennato with the same sense. Cf. Lat. bi-pennis. It was a two-edged cutlass, worn in addition to his sword; and see below. It is also printed pauade in Lydgate’s Siege of Troy, ed. 1555, fol. N 5, back.
3931.popper, thruster, i.e. dagger; from the verb pop, to thrust in; cf. poke. Ioly probably means ‘neat’ or ‘small.’ This was the Miller’s third weapon of offence, of which he had three sizes, viz. a sword, a cutlass, and a little dagger like a misericorde, used for piercing between the joints of armour. No wonder that no one durst touch him ‘for peril.’ The poppere answers to the boydekin of l. 3960, q. v. And besides these, he carried a knife. ‘Poppe, to stryke’; Cathol. Angl. p. 286.
3933.thwitel, knife; from A. S. thwītan, to cut; now ill-spelt whittle. The portraits of Chaucer show a knife hanging from his breast; accordingly, in Greene’s Description of Chaucer, we find this line: ‘A whittle by his belt he bare’; see Greene’s Works, ed. Dyce, 1883, p. 320. Note that Sheffield was already celebrated for its cutlery; so in the Witch of Edmonton, Act ii. sc. 2, Somerton speaks of ‘the new pair of Sheffield knives.’
3934.camuse (Hl. camois), low and concave; cf. l. 3974 below. F. camus, ‘flat-nosed’; Cotgrave. Ital. camuso, ‘one with a flat nose’; Florio. See Camois in the New E. Dict., where it is thus explained: ‘Of the nose: low and concave. Of persons: pug-nosed.’ To the examples there given, add the following from Holland’s tr. of Pliny, i. 229; ‘As for the male goats, they are held for the best which are most camoise or snout-nosed.’ Hexham’s Du. Dict., s. v. Neuse, has the curious entry: ‘een Camuys ende opwaerts gaende Neuse [lit. a camus and upwards-going Nose], Camell-nosed.’
3936.market-beter, a frequenter of markets, who swaggered about, and was apt to be quarrelsome and in the way of others. See Wyclif’s Works, ed. Matthew, pp. 511, 520; and cf. F. battre le pavé, ‘aller et venir sans but, sans occupation’; Littré. And cf. E. ‘policeman’s beat.’ Cotgrave has: ‘Bateur de pavez, a pavement-beater; . . one that walks much abroad, and riots it wheresoever he walks.’ The following passage from the Complaint of the Ploughman (in Wright’s Polit. Poems, i. 330) makes it clear—
A synonymous term was market-dasher, spelt market-daschare in the Prompt. Parv.; see Way’s note.
atte fulle, completely, entirely.
3941.Simkin, diminutive of Simond, which was his real name (ll. 4022, 4127). Altered to Sim-e-kin by Tyrwhitt, for the scansion; but cf. ll. 3945, 3947, 4034, &c. He makes the same alteration in l. 3959, for a like reason, but we may scan it: ‘But if | he wold | e be | slayn,’ &c. All the MSS. have Symkyn, except Hl., which has Symekyn here and in l. 3959. We must either make the form variable, or else treat the word de-y-nous as a trisyllable. Deynous was his regular epithet.
3943. This statement, that the parson of the town was her father, has caused surprise. In Bell’s Chaucer, the theory is started that the priest had been a widower before he took orders, which no one can be expected to believe; it is too subtle. It is clear that she was an illegitimate daughter; this is why her father paid money to get her married to a miller, and why she thought ladies ought to spare her (and not avoid her), because it was an honour to have a priest for a father, and because she had learnt so much good-breeding in a nunnery. The case is only too clear; cf. note to l. 3963.
3953.tipet, not here a cape, but the long pendant from the hood at one time fashionable, which Simkin wound round his head, in order to get it out of the way. See Tippett in Fairholt’s Costume in England; Glossary. Cf. notes to A. 233, 682.
3954. So also the Wife of Bath had ‘gay scarlet gytes’; D. 559. Spelt gide in MS. Ln., and gyde in Blind Harry’s Wallace, i. 214: ‘In-till a gyde of gudly ganand greyne,’ where it is used of a gay dress worn by Wallace. It occurs also twice in Golagros and Gawain, used of the gay dress of a woman; see Jamieson. Nares shews that gite is used once by Fairfax, and thrice by Gascoigne. The sense is usually dubious; it may mean ‘robe,’ or, in some places, ‘head-dress.’ The g was certainly hard, and the word is of F. origin. Godefroy gives ‘guite, chapeau’; and Roquefort has ‘wite, voile.’ The F. Gloss. appended to Ducange gives the word witart as applied to a man, and witarde as applied to a woman. Cf. O. F. wiart, which Roquefort explains as a woman’s veil, whilst Godefroy explains guiart as a dress or vestment. The form of the word suggests a Teutonic origin; perhaps from O. H. G. wît, wide, ample, which would explain its use to denote a veil or a robe indifferently. Ducange suggests a derivation from Lat. uitta, which is also possible.
3956.dame, lady; see A. 376.
3959.wold-e, wished, seems to be dissyllabic; see note to l. 3941.
3960.boydekin, dagger, as in B. 3892, q. v. Cf. note to l. 3931.
3962. ‘At any rate, they would that their wives should think so.’ Wenden, pt. pl. subj. of wenen.
3963.smoterlich, besmutched; cf. bismotered in A. 76. Tyrwhitt says: ‘it means, I suppose, smutty, dirty; but the whole passage is obscure.’ Rather, it is perfectly clear when the allusion is perceived. The allusion is to the smutch upon her reputation, on account of her illegitimacy. This explains also the use of somdel; ‘because she was, in some measure, of indifferent reputation, she was always on her dignity, and ready to take offence’; which is true to human nature. Thus the whole context is illuminated at once.
3964.digne, full of dignity, and therefore (as Chaucer says, with exquisite satire) like (foul) water in a ditch, which keeps every one at a proper distance. However, the satire is not Chaucer’s own, but due to a popular proverbial jest, which occurs again in The Ploughman’s Crede, l. 375, where the Dominican friars are thus described:—
And, again, in the same, l. 355:—
Hence digne is proud, repulsive.
3965. ‘And full of scorn and reproachful taunting’; like the lady in Lay de Freine, l. 60 (in Weber’s Met. Romances, i. 359):—
Hoker is the A. S. hōcor, scorn. Bismare is properly of two syllables only (A. S. bismor), but is here made into three; MS. Cp. has bisemare, and Hl. has bissemare, and the spelling bisemare also appears much earlier, in the Ancren Riwle, p. 132, and bisemære in Layamon, i. 140. Owing to a change in the accentuation, the etymology had been long forgotten. See Bismer in the New E. Dict., and see the Glossary.
3966. ‘It seemed to her that ladies ought to treat her with consideration,’ and not look down upon her; see note to l. 3943.
3977.The person, the parson, i.e. her grandfather.
3980. ‘And raised difficulties about her marriage.’
3990. The Soler-halle has been guessed to be Clare Hall, merely because that college was of early foundation, and was called a ‘hall.’ But a happy find by Mr. Riley tells us better, and sets the question at rest. In the First Report of the Historical MSS. Commission, p. 84, Mr. Riley gives several extracts from the Bursar’s Books of King’s Hall, in which the word solarium repeatedly occurs, shewing that this Hall possessed numerous solaria, or sun-chambers, used as dwelling-rooms, apparently by the fellows. They were probably fitted with bay-windows. This leaves little doubt that Soler-Hall was another name for King’s Hall, founded in 1337 by Edward III, and now merged in Trinity College. It stood on the ground now occupied by the Great Gate, the Chapel, Bowling-green, and Master’s Lodge of that celebrated college. On the testimony of Chaucer, we learn that the King’s Hall, even in his time, was ‘a greet collegge.’ Its successor is the largest in England.
In Wright’s Hist. of Domestic Manners, pp. 83, 127, 128, it is explained that the early stone-built house usually had a hall on the ground-floor, and a soler above. The latter, being more protected, was better lighted, and was considered a place of greater security. ‘In the thirteenth century a proverbial characteristic of an avaricious and inhospitable person, was to shut his hall-door and live in the soler.’ It was also ‘considered as the room of honour for rich lodgers or guests who paid well.’ Udall speaks of ‘the solares, or loftes of my hous’; tr. of Erasmus’ Apophthegmes, Aug. Cæsar, § 27.
3999.made fare, made a to-do (as we now say).
4014.Strother. There is now no town of this name in England, but the reference is probably to a place which gave its name to a Northumbrian family. Mr. Gollancz tells me:—‘The Strother family, of Northumberland, famous in the fourteenth century, was a branch of the Strothers, of Castle Strother in Glendale, to the west of Wooler. The chief member of this Northumberland branch seems to have been Alan de Strother the younger, who died in 1381. (See Calendarium Inquis. post Mortem, 4 Ric. II, vol. iii. p. 32.) The records contain numerous references to him; e. g. “Aleyn de Struther, conestable de nostre chastel de Rokesburgh,” 1366 (Rymer’s Fœdera, iii. 784); “Alanum del Strother, vicecomitem de Rokesburgh et vicecomitem Northumbriæ” (id. iii. 919). It is a noteworthy point that this Alan de Strother had a son John.’ This definite information does away with the old guess, that Strother is a mistake for Langstrothdale Chase almost at the N.W. extremity of the W. Riding of Yorkshire, joining the far end of Wharfdale to Ribblesdale, and even now not very accessible, though it can be reached from Ribblehead station, on the Skipton and Carlisle Railway, or from Horton-in-Ribblesdale.
I suppose that Castle Strother, mentioned above, must have been near Kirknewton, some 5 miles or so to the west of Wooler. The river Glen falls into the Till, which is a tributary of the Tweed. I find mention, in 1358–9, of ‘Henry de Strother, of Kirknewton in Glendale’; Brand, Hist. of Newcastle, ii. 414, note. W. Hutchinson, in his View of Northumberland, 1778, i. 260, speaks of ‘Kirknewton, one of the manors of the Barony of Wark, the ancient residence of the Strothers, now the property of John Strother Ker, Esq.’
We may here notice some of the characteristics of the speech which Chaucer assigns to these two students from Northumberland.
(a) They use a for A. S. ā, where Chaucer usually has ō (long and open). Ex. na (Ch. no), swa (so), ham (hoom), gas (gooth), fra (fro), banes (bones), anes (ones), waat (woot), raa (ro), bathe (bothe), ga (go), twa (two), wha (who). Similarly we find saule for Ch. soule, soul, tald for told, halde for holde, awen for owen, own.
(b) They use a for A. S. short a before ng. Ex. wanges, but Ch. also has wang-tooth, B. 3234; sang for song (4170), lange for longe, wrang for wrong.
(c) They use (perhaps) ee for oo; as in geen for goon, gone, 4078; neen for noon, none, 4185. This is remarkable, and, in fact, the readings vary, as noted. Geen, neen are in MS. E. Note also pit for put, 4088.
(d) They use the indicative sing. and pl. in -es or -s. Ex. 3 pers. sing. far-es, bo-es, ga-s, wagg-es, fall-es, fynd-es, 4130, bring-es, tyd-es, 4175, say-s, 4180. Pl. werk-es, 4030. So also is I, I is, thou is, 4089. In l. 4045, we find are ye, E.; ar ye (better), Hn.; ere ye, Cp. Hl.; is ye, Cm. Pt.; es ye, Ln. Both ar (er) and is (es) are found in the present tense plural in Northern works; we is occurs in Barbour’s Bruce, iii. 317. It is not ‘ungrammatical,’ as Tyrwhitt supposes.
(e) Other grammatical peculiarities are: sal for shal, shall, 4087; slyk for swiche, such, 4173; whilk for whiche, 4171; thair for hir, their, 4172 (which is now the standard use); hethen for hennes, hence, 4033; til for to (but Chaucer sometimes uses til himself, chiefly before a vowel); y-mel for amonges, 4171; gif for if, 4181.
(f) Besides the use of the peculiar forms mentioned in (e), we find certain words employed which do not occur elsewhere in Chaucer, viz. boes (see note to 4027), lathe, barn, fonne, fool, hething, contempt, taa, take. To these Tyrwhitt adds gar, reading Gar us have mete in l. 4132, but I can only find Get us som mete in my seven MSS. Capul, horse, occurs again in D. 1554, 2150.
I think Mr. Ellis a little underrates the ‘marked northernism’ of Chaucer’s specimens. Certainly thou is is as marked as I is; and other certain marks are the pl. indic. in -es, as in werk-es, 4030, the use of sal for ‘shall,’ of boes for ‘behoves,’ of taa for ‘take,’ of hethen for ‘hence,’ of slyk for ‘such,’ the prepositions fra and y-mel, and even some of the peculiarities of pronunciation, as ā for ō, wrang for wrong.
It is worth enquiring whether Chaucer has made any mistakes, and it is clear that he has made several. Thus as clerkes sayn (4028) should be as clerkes says; and sayth should again be says in l. 4210. In l. 4171, hem (them) should be thaim. In l. 4180, y-greved should be greved; the Northern dialect knows nothing of the prefix y-. It also ignores the final -e in definite adjectives; hence thy fair-e (4023), this short-e (4265), and this lang-e (4175) all have a superfluous -e. Of course this is what we should expect; the poet merely gives a Northern colouring to his diction to amuse us; he is not trying to teach us Northern grammar. The general effect is excellent, and that is all he was concerned with.
4020. The mill lay a little way off the road on the left (coming from Trumpington); so it was necessary to ‘know the way.’
4026.nede has na peer, necessity has no equal, or, is above all. More commonly, Nede ne hath no lawe, as in P. Plowman, B. xx. 10, or C. xxiii. 10; ‘Necessitas non habet legem’; a common proverb.
4027.boës, contracted from behoves, a form peculiar to Chaucer. In northern poems, the word is invariably a monosyllable, spelt bos, or more commonly bus; and the pt. t. is likewise a monosyllable, viz. bud or bood, short for behoved. In Cursor Mundi, l. 9870, we have: ‘Of a woman bos him be born; and in l. 10639: ‘Than bus this may be clene and bright.’ In M. E., it is always used impersonally; him boes or him bos means ‘it behoves him,’ or ‘he must.’ See Bus in the New E. Dictionary.
Chaucer here evidently alludes to some such proverb as ‘He who has no servant must serve himself,’ but I do not know the precise form of it. The expression ‘as clerkes sayn’ hints that it is a Latin one.
4029.hope, expect, fear. Cf. P. Plowman, C. x. 275, and see Hope in Nares, who cites the story of the tanner of Tamworth (from Puttenham’s Arte of Poesie, bk. iii. c. 22) who said—‘I hope I shall be hanged to-morrow.’ Cf. also Thomas of Erceldoun, ed. Murray, l. 78:—
4030. ‘So ache his molar teeth.’ Wark, to ache, is common in Yorkshire: ‘My back warks while I can hardly bide,’ my back aches so that I can hardly endure; Mid. Yks. Gloss. (E. D. S.).
4032.ham, i. e. hām, haam, home.
4033.hethen, hence, is very characteristic of a Northern dialect; it occurs in Hampole, Havelok, Morris’s Allit. Poems, Gawain, Robert of Brunne, the Ormulum, &c.; see examples in Mätzner.
4037. One clerk wants to watch above, and the other below, to prevent cheating. This incident is not in the French fabliaux. On the other hand, it occurs in the Jest of the Mylner of Abyngton, which is plainly copied from Chaucer.
4049.blere hir yë, blear their eyes, cheat them, as in l. 3865.
4055. ‘The fable of the Wolf and the Mare is found in the Latin Esopean collections, and in the early French poem of Renard le Contrefait, from whence it appears to have been taken into the English Reynard the Fox’; Wright. Tyrwhitt observes that the same story is told of a mule in Cento Novelle Antiche, no. 91. See Caxton’s Reynard, ch. 27, ed. Arber, p. 62, where the wolf wants to buy a mare’s foal, who said that the price of the foal was written on her hinder foot; ‘yf ye conne rede and be a clerk, ye may come see and rede it.’ And when the wolf said, ‘late me rede it,’ the mare gave him so violent a kick that ‘a man shold wel haue ryden a myle er he aroos.’ The Fox, who had brought it all about, hypocritically condoles with the Wolf, and observes—‘Now I here wel it is true that I long syth haue redde and herde, that the beste clerkes ben not the wysest men.’
For the story in Le Roman du Renard Contrefait, see Poètes de Champagne, Reims, 1851, p. 156. For further information, see Caxton’s Fables of Æsop, ed. Jacobs, lib. v. fab. 10; vol. i. 254, 255; vol. ii. 157, 179. La Fontaine has a similar fable of the Fox, the Wolf, and the Horse. In Croxall’s Æsop, it is told of the Horse, who tells the Lion, who is acting as physician, that he has a thorn in his foot. See further references in the Exempla of Jacques de Vitry, ed. Crane, pp. 147, 197.
4061.levesel, an arbour or shelter formed of branches or foliage. Lev-e is the stem of leef, A. S. lēaf, a leaf; and -sel is the same as the A. S. sæl, sele, a hall, dwelling, Swed. sal, Icel. salr, G. Saal. The A. S. sæl occurs also in composition, as burg-sæl, folc-sæl, horn-sæl, and sele is still commoner; Grein gives twenty-three compounds with the latter, as gæst-sele, guest-hall, hrōf-sele, roofed-hall, &c. In Icel. we have lauf-hús, leaf-house, but we find the very word we require in Swed. löfsal, ‘a hut built of green boughs,’ Widegren; Dan. lövsals-fest, feast of tabernacles. The word occurs again in the Persones Tale, l. 411, where it means a leafy arbour such as may still be seen to form the porch of a public-house. The word is scarce; but see the following:—
The editor prints it as lefe sale, and explains it by ‘leafy hall,’ but it is a compound word; the adjective would be lefy or leuy. In this case the arbour was ‘built’ of box and barberry.
Again, in Allit. Poems, ed. Morris, iii. 448, the arbour formed by Jonah’s gourd is called a lefsel.
4066. Lydgate has ‘through thinne and thikke’; Siege of Troy, fol. Cc. 6, back.
4078.geen, goon; so in MS. E., which again has neen, none, 4185. The usual Northern form is gan (= gaan), as in Hl.; Hn. Ln. have gane. But we also find gayn, as in Wallace, iv. 102; Bruce, ii. 80. The forms geen, neen, are so remarkable that they are likely to be the original ones.
4086. ‘I am very swift of foot, God knows, (even) as is a roe; by God’s heart, he shall not escape us both; why hadst thou not put the horse in the barn?’ ‘Light as a rae’ [roe]; Tournament of Tottenham, st. 15.
4088.capul, a horse, occurs again, in D. 2150. lathe, a barn, is still in use in some parts of Yorkshire, but chiefly in local designations, being otherwise obsolescent; see the Cleveland and Whitby Glossaries. ‘The northern man writing to his neighbour may say, “My lathe standeth neer the kirkegarth,” for My barne standeth neere the churchyard:’ Coote’s Eng. Schoolemaster, 1632 (Nares). Ray gives: ‘Lathe, a barn’ in 1691; and we again find ‘Leath, a barn’ in 1781 (E. D. S. Gloss. B, 1); and ‘Leath, Laith, a barn, in 1811 (E. D. S. Gloss. B. 7); in all cases as a Northern word.
4096. ‘Trim his beard,’ i.e. cheat him; and so again in D. 361. See Chaucer’s Hous of Fame, 689, and my note upon it.
4101.Iossa, ‘down here’; a cry of direction. Composed of O. F. jos, jus, down; and ça, here. Bartsch gives an example of jos in his Chrestomathie, 1875, col. 8: ‘tuit li felun cadegren jos,’ all the felons fell down; and Cotgrave has: ‘Jus, downe, or to the ground.’ Godefroy gives: ça jus, here below, down here. It is clearly a direction given by one clerk to the other, and was probably a common cry in driving horses.
warderere, i. e. warde arere, ‘look out behind!’ Another similar cry. MS. Cm. has: ware the rere, mind the rear, which is a sort of gloss upon it.
4110.hething, contempt. See numerous examples in Mätzner, s. v. hæthing, ii. 396. Cf. ‘Bothe in hething and in scorn’; Sir Amadace, l. 17, in Robson’s Three Met. Romances, p. 27. ‘Him thoght scorn and gret hething’; Seven Sages, ed. Weber, l. 91.
4112. The first foot is ‘trochaic.’
4115.in his hond, in his possession, in his hold.
4126. ‘Or enlarge it by argument’; prove by logic that it is the size you wish it to be.
4127.Cutberd, St. Cuthbert, bishop of Lindisfarne, died in 686. Being a Northumberland man, John swears by a Northumberland saint.
4130. Evidently a proverb: ‘a man must take (one) of two things, either such as he finds or such as he brings’; i. e. must put up with what he can get.
4134. Another proverb. Repeated in D. 415, with lure for tulle. From the Policraticus of John of Salisbury, liv. v. c. 10: ‘Veteri celebratur proverbio: Quia vacuae manus temeraria petitio est.’ MS. Cm. has the rimes folle, tolle. For tulle, a commoner spelling is tille, to draw, hence to allure, entice. Hence E. till (for money), orig. meaning a ‘drawer’; and the tiller of a rudder, by which it is drawn aside. See tullen in Stratmann, and tollen in Boeth. bk. ii. pr. 7. 11 (in vol. ii. p. 45).
4140.chalons, blankets. The same word as mod. E. shalloon, ‘a slight woollen stuff’; Ogilvie’s Dict. ‘The blanket was sometimes made of a texture originally imported from Chalons in France, but afterwards extensively manufactured in England by the Chaloners’; Our Eng. Home, p. 108. ‘Qwyltes ne chalouns’; Eng. Gilds, ed. Toulmin Smith, p. 350.
4152.quakke, asthma, or difficulty of breathing that causes a croaking noise. Halliwell gives: ‘Quack, to be noisy, West. The term is applied to any croaking noise.’ Also: ‘Quackle, to choke, or suffocate, East.’ Pose, a cold in the head; A. S. gepos.
4155. ‘To wet one’s whistle’ is still in use for to drink deeply. ‘I wete my whystell, as good drinkers do’; Palsgrave, p. 780. In Walton’s Complete Angler, Part i. ch. 5, we find: ‘Let’s drink the other cup to wet our whistles.’
4172.wilde fyr, erysipelas (to torment them); see Halliwell. Cf. E. 2252. The entry—‘Erysipela (sic), wilde fyr’ occurs in Ælfric’s Vocabulary. So in Le Rom. de la Rose:—‘que Mal-Feu l’arde’; 7438, 8319.
4174.flour, choice, best of a thing; il ending, evil death, bad end. ‘They shall have the best (i. e. here, the worst) of a bad end.’ Rather a wish than a prophecy.
4181. Sidenote in MS. Hl.—‘Qui in vno grauatur in alio debet releuari.’ A Law Maxim.
4194.upright, upon her back. ‘To slepe on the backe, vpryght, is vtterly to be abhorred’; Babees Book, ed. Furnivall, p. 245. Palsgrave, s. v. Throwe, has: ‘I throwe a man on his backe or upright, so that his face is upwarde, Ie renuerse.’ And see Nares. Cf. ‘Now dounward groffe [on your belly], and now upright’; Rom. Rose, 2561. Bolt-upright occurs in l. 4266; where bolt is ‘like a bolt,’ hence ‘straight,’ or exactly. See Boli, adv., in the New E. Dictionary. And compare B. 1506.
4208.daf, fool; from E. daf-t. cokenay, a milk-sop, poor creature. The orig. sense of coken-ay is ‘cocks’ egg,’ from a singular piece of folk-lore which credited cocks with laying such eggs as happen to be imperfect. ‘The small yolkless eggs which hens sometimes lay are called “cocks’ eggs,” generally in the firm persuasion that the name states a fact’; Shropshire Folklore, by C. S. Burne, p. 229. The idea is old, and may be found gravely stated as a fact in Bartolomæus De Proprietatibus Rerum (14th century). See Cockney in the New E. Dictionary.
4210.Unhardy is unsely, the cowardly man has no luck. ‘Audentes fortuna iuuat’; Vergil, Aen. x. 284. So also our ‘Nothing venture, nothing have,’ and ‘Faint heart never won fair lady’; which see in Hazlitt’s Proverbs. For seel, luck, see l. 4239. See Troil. iv. 602, and the note.
4220. Pronounce ben’cite in three syllables; as usual.
4233.The thridde cok; apparently, between 5 and 6 a.m.; see note to line 3675 above. It was near dawn; see l. 4249.
4236.Malin, another form of Malkin, which is a pet-name for Matilda. See my note to P. Plowman, C. ii. 181, where my statement that Malkin occurs in the present passage refers to Tyrwhitt’s edition, which substitutes Malkin for the Malin or Malyn of the MSS. and of ed. 1532. Cf. B. 30.
‘Malyn, tersorium,’ Cath. Anglicum; i. e. Malin, like Malkin, also meant a dishclout. Malin has now become Molly.
4244.cake. In Wright’s Glossaries, ed. Wülker, col. 788, l. 36, we find, ‘Hic panis subverucius, a meleres cake’; on which Wright remarks: ‘Perhaps this name alludes to the common report that the miller always stole the flour from his customers to make his cakes, which were baked on the sly.’
4253.toty, in the seven MSS.; totty in ed. 1532. It means ‘dizzy, reeling’; and Halliwell, s. v. Totty, quotes from MS. Rawl. C. 86: ‘So toty was the brayn of his hede.’ Cf. ‘And some also so toty in theyr heade’; Lydgate, Siege of Troy, ed. 1555, fol. L 1, back. Spenser has the word twice, as tottie or totty, and evidently copied it from this very passage, which he read in a black-letter edition; see his Shep. Kal., February, 55, and F. Q. vii. 7. 39. Cf. E. totter.
4257.a twenty devel way, with extremely ill-luck. See note to l. 3713.
4264. Compare B. 1417.
4272.linage; her grandfather was a priest; see note to l. 3943.
4278.poke, bag; cf. the proverb, ‘To buy a pig in a poke.’
This juvenile poem by Sir T. More is printed in Hazlitt’s Popular Poetry, iii. 128, and in the Preface to Todd’s Johnson.
4286.Bromeholm. A piece of what was supposed to be the true cross was brought from the East by an English priest to Norfolk in 1223, and immediately became famous as an object of pilgrimage. It is called the ‘Rode [rood] of Bromeholme’ in P. Plowman, B. v. 231; see my note to that line.
4287. The full form is quoted in the note to Scott’s Marmion, can. ii. st. 13:—‘In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum; a vinculis enim mortis redemisti me, Domine veritatis, Amen.’ In Ratis Raving, &c., ed. Lumby, p. 8, l. 263, the form ends with ‘spiritum meum, domine, deus veritatis.’ In Reliquiae Antiquae, i. 235, the following translation of the Latin form is given:—
It here occurs in company with the Creed, the Paternoster, and the Ave Maria; so that it was one of the very common religious formulae which were familiar, even in the Latin form, to people of no education. They frequently knew the words of these forms, without knowing more than the general sense. In manus tuas, &c., was even recited by criminals before being hung; see Skelton’s Works, ed. Dyce, i. 5, 292, ii. 268. The words are mostly taken from the Vulgate version of Luke, xxiii. 46.
4290.oon, one, some one; not common at this date.
4295. Cf. Roman de la Rose, 12720:—‘Qui set bien de l’ostel les estres,’ i. e. who knows well the inner parts of the hostel. See note to A. 1971 above.
4302.volupeer, nightcap; see note to A. 3241.
4307.harrow, a cry for help; see note to A. 3286.
4320.Him thar, lit. ‘it needs him,’ i.e. he need, he must. For thar, ed. 1532 has dare, which Tyrwhitt rightly corrects to thar, which occurs again in D. 329, 336, 1365, and H. 352. It is common enough in early authors; the full form is tharf, as in Owl and Nightingale, 803 (or 180), Moral Ode (Jesus MS.), 44; spelt tharrf, Ormulum, 12886; therf, Ancren Riwle, p. 192; darf, Floris and Blancheflur, 315; derf, O. Eng. Homilies, ed. Morris, i. 187, l. 31; dar, Octovian, 1337; &c. The pt. t. is thurfte, thurte, thorte; see tharf and thurfen in Stratmann, and cf. A. S. thearf, pt. t. thurfte. For wene, the correct reading, Tyrwhitt substitutes winne, against all authority, because he could make no sense of wene. It is odd that he should have missed the sense so completely. Wene is to imagine, think, also to expect; and the line means ‘he must not expect good who does evil.’ The very word is preserved by Ray, in his Proverbs, 3rd ed., 1737, p. 288:—‘He that evil does, never good weines.’ Hazlitt quotes a proverb to a like effect: ‘He that does what he should not, shall feel what he would not.’ Cf. ‘Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap’; Gal. vi. 7.
4321. A common proverb; cf. Ps. vii. 16, ix. 15.
‘Begyled is the gyler thanne’; Rom. Rose, 5759.
See further in my note to P. Plowman, C. xxxi. 166, and Kemble’s Solomon and Saturn, p. 63. Le Rom. de la Rose, 7381, has:—‘Qui les deceveors deçoivent.’
I can add another example from Caxton’s Fables of Æsop, lib. ii. fab. 12 (The Fox and the Stork):—‘And therfore he that begyleth other is oftyme begyled hymself.’
The Cook’s Prologue.
4329.herbergage, lodging; alluding to l. 4123.
4331. Not from Solomon, but from Ecclesiasticus, xi. 31: ‘Non omnem hominem inducas in domum tuum; multae enim sunt insidiae dolosi.’ In the E. version, it is verse 29.
4336.Hogge, Hodge, for Roger (l. 4353). Ware, in Hertfordshire.
4346.laten blood, let blood, i. e. removed gravy from. It refers to a meat-pie, baked with gravy in it; as it was not sold the day it was made, the gravy was removed to make it keep longer; and so the pie was eaten at last, when far from being new.
4347. The meaning of ‘a Jack of Dover’ has been much disputed, but it probably meant a pie that had been cooked more than once. Some have thought it meant a sole (probably a fried sole), as ‘Dover soles’ are still celebrated; but this is only a guess, and seems to be wrong. Sir T. More, Works, p. 675 E, speaks of a ‘Jak of Paris, an evil pye twyse baken’; which is probably the same thing. Roquefort’s French Dict. has:—
‘Jaquet, Jaket, impudent, menteur. C’est sans doute de ce mot que les pâtissiers ont pris leur mot d’argot jaques, pour signifier qu’une pièce de volaille, de viande ou de pâtisserie cuite au four, est vieille ou dure.’
See Hazlitt’s Proverbs, p. 20; and Hazlitt’s Shakespeare Jest-books, ii. 366. Hence, in a secondary sense, Jack of Dover meant an old story, or hashed up anecdote. Ray says:—‘This he [T. Fuller] makes parallel to Crambe bis cocta, and applicable to such as grate the ears of their auditors with ungrateful tautologies of what is worthless in itself; tolerable as once uttered in the notion of novelty, but abominable if repeated.’ This may explain the fact that an old jest-book was printed with the title A Jack of Dover in 1604, and again in 1615. The E. word jack has indeed numerous senses.
4350. The insinuation is that stray flies were mixed up with the parsley served up with the Cook’s geese. Tyrwhitt quotes from MS. Harl. 279—‘Take percely,’ &c. in a receipt for stuffing a goose; so that parsley was sometimes used for this purpose. It was also used for stuffing chickens; see Liber Cure Cocorum, ed. Morris, p. 22.
4357. ‘A true jest is an evil jest.’ Hazlitt, in his Collection of Proverbs, gives, ‘True jest is no jest,’ and quotes ‘Sooth bourd is no bourd’ from Heywood, and from Harington’s Brief Apologie of Poetrie, 1591. Kelly’s Scotch Proverbs includes: ‘A sooth bourd is nae bourd.’ Tyrwhitt alters the second play to spel, as being a Flemish word, but he only found it in two MSS. (Askew 1 and 2), and nothing is gained by it. The fact is, that there is nothing Flemish about the proverb except the word quad, though there may have been an equivalent proverb in that language. We must take Chaucer’s remark to mean that ‘Sooth play is what a Fleming would call quaad play’; which is then quite correct. For just as Flemish does not use the English words sooth and play, so English seldom uses the Flemish form quaad, equivalent to the Dutch kwaad, evil, bad, spelt quade in Hexham’s Du. Dict. (1658). Cf. also O. Friesic kwad, quad, East Friesic kwâd (still in common use). The Mid. Eng. form is not quad, but (properly) quēd or queed; see examples in Stratmann, s. v. cwêd. In P. Plowman, B. xiv. 189, the qued means the Evil One, the devil. Queed occurs as a sb. as late as in Skelton, ed. Dyce, i. 168. We find, however, the rare M. E. form quad in Gower, ed. Pauli, ii. 246, and in the Story of Genesis and Exodus, ed. Morris, 536; and in another passage of the Cant. Tales, viz. B. 1628. The oldest English examples seem to be those in the Blickling Glosses, viz. ‘of cweade arærende, de stercore erigens’; and ‘cwed uel meox, stercus.’ There is no difficulty about the etymology; the corresponding O. H. G. word is quāt, whence G. Koth or Kot, excrement; and the root appears in the Skt. gu or gū, to void excrement; see Kot in Kluge.
4358. This is interesting, as giving us the Host’s name. Herry is the mod. E. Harry, with the usual change from er to ar, as in M. E. derk, dark, &c. It is the same as the F. Herri (not uncommon in O. F.), made from F. Henri by assimilation of nr to rr.
The name seems to have been taken from that of a real person. In the Subsidy Rolls, 4 Rich. II. (1380–1), for Southwark, occurs the entry—‘Henri’ Bayliff, Ostyler, Xpian [Christian] ux[or] eius . . ij s.’ In the parliament held at Westminster, in 50 Edw. III. (1376–7), Henry Bailly was one of the representatives for that borough; and again, in the parliament at Gloucester, 2 Rich. II., the name occurs. See Notes and Queries, 2 S. iii. 228.
The Cokes Tale.
4368. ‘Brown as a berry.’ So in A. 207.
4377. ‘There were sometimes Justs in Cheapside; Hollingshead, vol. ii. p. 348. But perhaps any procession may be meant.’—Tyrwhitt. ‘Cheapside was the grand scene of city festivals and processions.’—Wright.
4379. T. has And til, but his note says that And was inserted by himself. Wright reads, ‘And tyl he hadde’; but And is not in the Harleian MS. Observe that Wright insists very much on the fact that he reproduces this MS. ‘with literal accuracy,’ though he allows himself, according to his own account, to make silent alterations due to collation with the Lansdowne MS. But the word And is not to be found in any of the seven MSS., and this is only one example of the numerous cases in which he has silently altered his text without any MS. authority at all. His text, in fact, is full of treacherous pitfalls; and Bell’s edition is quite as bad, though that likewise pretends to be accurate.
The easiest way of scanning the line is to ignore the elision of the final e in had-de, which is preserved, as often, by the cæsural pause.
4383.sette steven, made an appointment; see A. 1524.
4394. ‘Though he (the master) may have,’ &c.
4396. ‘Though he (the apprentice) may know how to play,’ &c. Opposed to l. 4394. The sense is—‘The master pays for the revelling of the apprentice, though he takes no part in such revel; and conversely, the apprentice may gain skill in minstrelsy, but takes no part in paying for it; for, in his case, his rioting is convertible with theft.’ The master pays, but plays not; the other pays not, but plays.
4397. ‘Revelling and honesty, in the case of one of low degree (who has no money), are continually wrath with (i. e. opposed to) each other.’
4402. ‘And sometimes carried off to Newgate, with revel (such as he might be supposed to approve of).’ The point of the allusion lies in the fact that, when disorderly persons were carried to prison, they were preceded by minstrels, in order to call public attention to their disgrace. This is clearly shewn in the Liber Albus, pp. 459, 460, (p. 396 of the E. translation). E. g. ‘Item, if any person shall be impeached of adultery, and be thereof lawfully attained, let him be taken unto Newgate, and from thence, with minstrelsy, through Chepe, to the Tun on Cornhulle [Cornhill], there to remain at the will of the mayor and alderman.’
4404.paper. The allusion is not clear; perhaps it means that he was referring to his account-book, and found it unsatisfactory.
4406. In Hazlitt’s Proverbs we find; ‘The rotten apple injures its neighbour.’ Cf. G. 964.
In the Ayenbite of Inwyt, p. 205, we are bidden to avoid bad company, because a rotten apple rots the sound ones, if left among them.
In Ida von Düringsfeld’s Sprichwörter, 1872–5, no. 354, is:—‘Ein fauler Apfel steckt den andern an. Pomum compunctum cito corrumpit sibi iunctum.’
4413.his leve, his leave to go, his dismissal, his congé.
4414.or leve, or leave it, i. e. or desist from it.
4415.for, because, since. louke, an accomplice who entices the dupe into the thief’s company, a decoyer of victims. Not ‘a receiver to a thief,’ as Tyrwhitt guessed, but his assistant in thieving, one who helped him (as Chaucer says) to suck others by stealing or borrowing. It answers to an A. S. *lūca (not found), formed with the agential suffix -a from lūcan, lit. to pull, pluck, root up weeds, hence (probably) to draw, entice. The corresponding E. Friesic lūkan or lukan means not only to pull, pluck, but also to milk or suck (see Koolman). The Low G. luken means not only to pull up weeds, but also to suck down, or to take a long pull in drinking; hence O. F. louchier, loukier, to swallow. From the A. S. lūcan, to pluck up, comes the common prov. E. louk, lowk, look, to pluck up weeds; see Ray, Whitby Glossary, &c.
4417.brybe, to purloin; not to bribe in the modern sense; see the New E. Dict.
4422. Here the Tale suddenly breaks off; so it was probably never finished.
*∗* See Notes to Gamelin at the end of the Notes to the Tales.
[1 ]Many of them were discovered by Dr. Köppell.
[1 ]‘Thou were nought skoymus to take the maydenes womb’ is the reading given in The Prymer, ed. H. Littlehales, p. 22.
[1 ]The black-letter editions have mare; and Tyrwhitt follows them. I take this to be a mere guess.