Front Page Titles (by Subject) The Reve's Prologue. - Notes to the Canterbury Tales (Works vol. 5)
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The Reve’s Prologue. - 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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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.