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NOTES TO GROUP B. - 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 GROUP B.
Introduction to the Man of Lawes Tale.
1.If, as Mr. Furnivall supposes, the time of the telling of the Canterbury Tales be taken to be longer than one day, we may suppose the Man of Lawes Tale to begin the stories told on the second morning of the journey, April 18. Otherwise, we must suppose all the stories in Group A to precede it, which is not impossible, if we suppose the pilgrims to have started early in the morning.
Hoste. This is one of the words which are sometimes dissyllabic, and sometimes monosyllabic; it is here a dissyllable, as in l. 39. See note to line 1883 below.
sey, i.e. saw. The forms of ‘saw’ vary in the MSS. In this line we find saugh, sauh, segh, sauhe, sawh, none of which are Chaucer’s own, but due to the scribes. The true form is determined by the rime, as in the Clerkes Tale, E. 667, where most of the MSS. have say. A still better spelling is sey, which may be found in the House of Fame, 1151, where it rimes with lay. The A. S. form is sēah.
2.The ark, &c. In Chaucer’s Treatise on the Astrolabe, pt. ii. ch. 7 (vol. iii. 194), is the proposition headed—‘to knowe the arch of the day, that some folk callen the day artificial, from the sonne arysing til hit go to reste.’ Thus, while the ‘day natural’ is twenty-four hours, the ‘day artificial’ is the time during which the sun is above the horizon. The ‘arc’ of this day merely means the extent or duration of it, as reckoned along the circular rim of an astrolabe; or, when measured along the horizon (as here), it means the arc extending from the point of sunrise to that of sunset. ronne, run, performed, completed.
3.The fourthe part. The true explanation of this passage, which Tyrwhitt failed to discover, is due to Mr. A. E. Brae, who first published it in May, 1851, and reprinted it at p. 68 of his edition of Chaucer’s Treatise on the Astrolabe. His conclusions were based upon actual calculation, and will be mentioned in due order. In re-editing the ‘Astrolabe,’ I took the opportunity of roughly checking his calculations by other methods, and am satisfied that he is quite correct, and that the day meant is not the 28th of April, as in the Ellesmere MS., nor the 13th of April, as in the Harleian MS., but the 18th, as in the Hengwrt MS. and most others. It is easily seen that xviii may be corrupted into xxviii by prefixing x, or into xiii by the omission of v; this may account for the variations.
The key to the whole matter is given by a passage in Chaucer’s ‘Astrolabe,’ pt. ii. ch. 29, where it is clear that Chaucer (who, however, merely translates from Messahala) actually confuses the hour-angle with the azimuthal arc; that is, he considered it correct to find the hour of the day by noting the point of the horizon over which the sun appears to stand, and supposing this point to advance, with a uniform, not a variable, motion. The host’s method of proceeding was this. Wanting to know the hour, he observed how far the sun had moved southward along the horizon since it rose, and saw that it had gone more than half-way from the point of sunrise to the exact southern point. Now the 18th of April in Chaucer’s time answers to the 26th of April at present. On April 26, 1874, the sun rose at 4h. 43m., and set at 7h. 12m., giving a day of about 14h. 30m., the fourth part of which is at 8h. 20m., or, with sufficient exactness, at half-past eight. This would leave a whole hour and a half to signify Chaucer’s ‘half an houre and more,’ shewing that further explanation is still necessary. The fact is, however, that the host reckoned, as has been said, in another way, viz. by observing the sun’s position with reference to the horizon. On April 18 the sun was in the 6th degree of Taurus at that date, as we again learn from Chaucer’s treatise. Set this 6th degree of Taurus on the East horizon on a globe, and it is found to be 22 degrees to the North of the East point, or 112 degrees from the South. The half of this is at 56 degrees from the South; and the sun would seem to stand above this 56th degree, as may be seen even upon a globe, at about a quarter past nine; but Mr. Brae has made the calculation, and shews that it was at twenty minutes past nine. This makes Chaucer’s ‘half an houre and more’ to stand for half an hour and ten minutes; an extremely neat result. But this we can check again by help of the host’s other observation. He also took note, that the lengths of a shadow and its object were equal, whence the sun’s altitude must have been 45 degrees. Even a globe will shew that the sun’s altitude, when in the 6th degree of Taurus, and at 10 o’clock in the morning, is somewhere about 45 or 46 degrees. But Mr. Brae has calculated it exactly, and his result is, that the sun attained its altitude of 45 degrees at two minutes to ten exactly. This is even a closer approximation than we might expect, and leaves no doubt about the right date being the eighteenth of April. For fuller particulars, see Chaucer on the Astrolabe, ed. Brae, p. 69; and ed. Skeat (E. E. T. S.), preface, p. l.
5.eightetethe, eighteenth. Mr. Wright prints eightetene, with the remark that ‘this is the reading in which the MSS. seem mostly to agree.’ This is right in substance, but not critically exact. No such word as eightetene appears here in the MSS., which denote the number by an abbreviation, as stated in the footnote. The Hengwrt MS. has xviijthe, and the Old English for eighteenth must have have been eightetethe, the ordinal, not the cardinal number. This form is easily inferred from the numerous examples in which -teenth is represented by -tethe; see feowertethe, fiftethe, &c. in Stratmann’s Old English Dictionary; we find the very form eightetethe in Rob. of Glouc., ed. Wright, 6490; and eighteteothe in St. Swithin, l. 5, as printed in Poems and Lives of Saints, ed. Furnivall, 1858, p. 43. Eighte is of two syllables, from A. S. eahta, cognate with Lat. octo. Eightetethe has four syllables; see A. 3223, and the note.
8.as in lengthe, with respect to its length.
13. The astrolabe which Chaucer gave to his little son Lewis was adapted for the latitude of Oxford. If, as is likely, the poet-astronomer checked his statements in this passage by a reference to it, he would neglect the difference in latitude between Oxford and the Canterbury road. In fact, it is less than a quarter of a degree, and not worth considering in the present case.
14.gan conclude, did conclude, concluded. Gan is often used thus as an auxiliary verb.
15.plighte, plucked; cf. shrighte, shrieked, in Kn. A. 2817.—M.
16.Lordinges, sirs. This form of address is exceedingly common in Early English poetry. Cf. the first line in the Tale of Sir Thopas.
18.seint Iohn. See the Squire’s Tale, F. 596.
19.Leseth, lose ye; note the form of the imperative plural in -eth; cf. l. 37. As ferforth as ye may, as far as lies in your power.
20.wasteth, consumeth; cf. wastour, a wasteful person, in P. Plowm. B. vi. 154.—M. Hl. has passeth, i. e. passes away; several MSS. insert it before wasteth, but it is not required by the metre, since the e in time is here fully sounded; cf. A. S. tīma. Compare—
See also Clerkes Tale, E. 118.
21.what. We now say—what with. It means, ‘partly owing to.’
22.wakinge; strictly, it means watching; but here, in our wakinge = whilst we are awake.
23. Cf. Ovid, Art. Amat. iii. 62–65:—
25. Seneca wrote a treatise De Breuitate Temporis, but this does not contain any passage very much resembling the text. I have no doubt that Chaucer was thinking of a passage which may easily have caught his eye, as being very near the beginning of the first of Seneca’s epistles. ‘Quaedam tempora eripiuntur nobis, quaedam subducuntur, quaedam effluunt. Turpissima tamen est iactura, quae per negligentiam fit. Quem mihi dabis, qui aliquod pretium tempori ponat? qui diem aestimet? . . . In huius rei unius fugacis ac lubricae possessionem natura nos misit, ex qua expellit quicumque uult; et tanta stultitia mortalium est, ut, quae minima et uilissima sint, certe reparabilia, imputari sibi, quum impetrauere, patiantur; nemo se iudicet quidquam debere, qui tempus accepit, quum interim hoc unum est, quod ne gratus quidem potest reddere’; Epist. I.; Seneca Lucilio suo.
30.Malkin; a proverbial name for a wanton woman; see P. Plowman, C. ii. 181 (B. i. 182), and my note. ‘There are more maids than Malkin’; Heywood’s Proverbs.
32.moulen, lit. ‘become mouldy’; hence, be idle, stagnate, remain sluggish, rot. See Mouldy in the Appendix to my Etym. Dict. 2nd ed. 1884; and cf. note to A. 3870.
33.Man of Lawe. This is the ‘sergeant of the lawe’ described in the Prologue, ll. 309–330. So have ye blis, so may you obtain bliss; as you hope to reach heaven.
34.as forward is, as is the agreement. See Prologue, A. 33, 829.
35.been submitted, have agreed. This illustrates the common usage of expressing a perfect by the verb to be and the past part. of an intransitive verb. Cf. is went, in B. 1730.—M.
36.at my Iugement, at my decree; ready to do as I bid you. See Prologue, A. 818 and 833.
37.Acquiteth yow, acquit yourself, viz. by redeeming your promise. holdeth your biheste, keep your promise. Acquit means to absolve or free oneself from a debt, obligation, charge, &c.; or to free oneself from the claims of duty, by fulfilling it.
38.devoir, duty; see Knightes Tale, A. 2598.
atte leste, at the least. Atte or atten is common in Old English for at the or at then; the latter is a later form of A. S. æt þām, where then (=þām) is the dative case of the article. But for the explanation of peculiar forms and words, the Glossarial Index should be consulted.
39. For ich, Tyrwhitt reads jeo=je, though found in none of our seven MSS. This makes the whole phrase French - de par dieux jeo assente. Mr. Jephson suggests that this is a clever hit of Chaucer’s, because he makes the Man of Lawe talk in French, with which, as a lawyer, he was very familiar. However, we find elsewhere—
‘Quod Troilus, “depardieux I assente”;’—
‘ “Depardieux,” quod she, “god leve al be wel”;’
Troilus and Cres. ii. 1058 and 1212;
and in the Freres Tale, D. 1395—
‘ “Depardieux,” quod this yeman, “dere brother.” ’
It is much more to the point to observe that the Man of Lawe talks about law in l. 43. Cotgrave, in his French Dictionary, under par, gives—‘De par Dieu soit, a [i. e. in] God’s name be it. De par moy, by my means. De par le roy, by the king’s appointment.’ De par is a corruption of O.Fr. de part, on the part or side of; so that de par le roy means literally, ‘as for the king,’ i.e. ‘in the king’s name.’ Similarly, de par Dieu is ‘in God’s name.’ See Burguy, Grammaire de la Langue D’oil, ii. 359. The form dieux is a nominative, from the Latin deus; thus exhibiting an exception to the almost universal law in French, that the modern F. substantives answer to the accusative cases of Latin substantives, as fleur to florem, &c. Other exceptions may be found in some proper names, as Charles, Jacques, from Carolus, Jacobus, and in fils, from filius.
41. In the Morality entitled Everyman, in Hazlitt’s Old Eng. Plays, i. 137, is the proverb—‘Yet promise is debt.’ Mr. Hazlitt wrongly considers that as the earliest instance of the phrase.—M. Cf. Hoccleve, De Regim. Principum, p. 64:—‘And of a trewe man beheest is dette.’
holde fayn, &c.; gladly perform all my promise.
43.man . . . another = one . . . another. The Cambridge MS. is right.—M. ‘For whatever law a man imposes on others, he should in justice consider as binding on himself.’ This is obviously a quotation, as appears from l. 45. The expression referred to was probably proverbial. An English proverb says—‘They that make the laws must not break them’; a Spanish one—‘El que ley establece, guardarla debe,’ he who makes a law ought to keep it; and a Latin one—‘Patere legem quam ipse tulisti,’ abide by the law which you made yourself. The idea is expanded in the following passage from Claudian’s Panegyric on the 4th consulship of Honorius, carm. viii., l. 296.—
45.text, quotation from an author, precept, saying. Thus wol our text, i. e. such is what the expression implies.
47.But. This reading is given by Tyrwhitt, from MS. Dd. 4. 24 in the Cambridge University Library and two other MSS. All our seven MSS. read That; but this would require the word Nath (hath not) instead of Hath, in l. 49. Chaucer talks about his writings in a similar strain in A. 746, 1460; and at a still earlier period. in his House of Fame, 620, where Jupiter’s eagle says to him:—
can but lewedly on metres, is but slightly skilled in metre. Can=knows here; in the line above it is the ordinary auxiliary verb.
54. Ovid is mentioned for two reasons; because he has so many love-stories, and because Chaucer himself borrowed several of his own from Ovid.
made of mencioun; we should now say—‘made mention of.’
55.Epistelles, Epistles. (T. prints Epistolis, the Lat. form, without authority. The word has here four syllables.) The book referred to is Ovid’s Heroides, which contains twenty-one love-letters. See note to l. 61.
56.What, why, on what account? cf. Prologue, A. 184.
57. ‘The story of Ceyx and Alcyone is related in the introduction to the poem which was for some time called “The Dreme of Chaucer,” but which, in the MSS. Fairfax 16 and Bodl. 638, is more properly entitled, “The Boke of the Duchesse.” ’—Tyrwhitt. Chaucer took it from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, bk. xi. ‘Ceyx and Alcyone’ was once, probably, an independent poem; see vol. i. p. 63.
59.Thise is a monosyllable; the final e probably denotes that s was ‘voiced,’ and perhaps the i was long, pronounced (dhiiz).
59, 60. For eek, seek, read eke, seke. Here sek-e is in the infinitive mood. The form ek-e is not etymological, as the A. S. ēac was a monosyllable; but, as -e frequently denoted an adverbial suffix, it was easily added. Hence, in M. E., both eek and ek-e occur; and Chaucer uses either form at pleasure, ek-e being more usual. For examples of eek, see E. 1349, G. 794.
61.the seintes legende of Cupyde; better known now as The Legend of Good Women. Tyrwhitt says—‘According to Lydgate (Prologue to Boccace), the number [of good women] was to have been nineteen; and perhaps the Legend itself affords some ground for this notion; see l. 283, and Court of Love, l. 108. But this number was never completed, and the last story, of Hypermnestra, is seemingly unfinished. . . . In this passage the Man of Lawe omits two ladies, viz. Cleopatra and Philomela, whose histories are in the Legend; and he enumerates eight others, of whom there are no histories in the Legend as we have it at present. Are we to suppose, that they have been lost?’ The Legend contains the nine stories following: 1. Cleopatra; 2. Thisbe; 3. Dido; 4. Hypsipyle and Medea; 5. Lucretia; 6. Ariadne; 7. Philomela; 8. Phyllis; 9. Hypermnestra. Of these, Chaucer here mentions, as Tyrwhitt points out, all but two, Cleopatra and Philomela. Before discussing the matter further, let me note that in medieval times, proper names took strange shapes, and the reader must not suppose that the writing of Adriane for Ariadne, for example, is peculiar to Chaucer. The meaning of the other names is as follows:—Lucresse, Lucretia; Babilan Tisbee, Thisbe of Babylon; Enee, Æneas; Dianire, Deianira; Hermion, Hermione; Adriane, Ariadne; Isiphilee, Hypsipyle; Leander, Erro, Leander and Hero; Eleyne, Helena; Brixseyde, Briseis (acc. Briseïda); Ladomea, Laodamia; Ypermistra, Hypermnestra; Alceste, Alcestis.
Returning to the question of Chaucer’s plan for his Legend of Good Women, we may easily conclude what his intention was, though it was never carried out. He intended to write stories concerning nineteen women who were celebrated for being martyrs of love, and to conclude the series by an additional story concerning queen Alcestis, whom he regarded as the best of all the good women. Now, though he does not expressly say who these women were, he has left us two lists, both incomplete, in which he mentions some of them; and by combining these, and taking into consideration the stories which he actually wrote, we can make out the whole intended series very nearly. One of the lists is the one given here; the other is in a Ballad which is introduced into the Prologue to the Legend. The key to the incompleteness of the present list, certainly the later written of the two, is that the poet chiefly mentions here such names as are also to be found in Ovid’s Heroides; cf. l. 55. Putting all the information together, it is sufficiently clear that Chaucer’s intended scheme must have been very nearly as follows, the number of women (if we include Alcestis) being twenty.
1. Cleopatra. 2. Thisbe. 3. Dido. 4. and 5. Hypsipyle and Medea. 6. Lucretia. 7. Ariadne. 8. Philomela. 9. Phyllis. 10. Hypermnestra (unfinished). After which, 11. Penelope. 12. Briseis. 13. Hermione. 14. Deianira. 15. Laodamia. 16. Helen. 17. Hero. 18. Polyxena (see the Ballad). 19. either Lavinia (see the Ballad), or Oenone (mentioned in Ovid, and in the House of Fame). 20. Alcestis.
Since the list of stories in Ovid’s Heroides is the best guide to the whole passage, it is here subjoined.
In this list, the numbers refer to the letters as numbered in Ovid; the italics shew the stories which Chaucer actually wrote; the asterisk points out such of the remaining stories as he happens to mention in the present enumeration; and the dagger points out the ladies mentioned in his Prologue to the Legend of Good Women.
Chaucer’s method, I fear, was to plan more than he cared to finish. He did so with his Canterbury Tales, and again with his Treatise on the Astrolabe; and he left the Squire’s Tale half-told. According to his own account (Prologue to Legend of Good Women, l. 481) he never intended to write his Legend all at once, but only ‘yeer by yere.’ Such proposals are dangerous, and commonly end in incompleteness. To Tyrwhitt’s question—‘are we to suppose that they [i.e. the legends of Penelope and others] have been lost?’ the obvious answer is, that they were never written.
Chaucer alludes to Ovid’s Epistles again in his House of Fame, bk. i., where he mentions the stories of Phyllis, Briseis, Oenone (not mentioned here), Hypsipyle, Medea, Deianira, Ariadne, and Dido; the last being told at some length. Again, in the Book of the Duchesse, he alludes to Medea, Phyllis, and Dido (ll. 726–734); to Penelope and Lucretia (l. 1081); and to Helen (l. 331). As for the stories in the Legend which are not in Ovid’s Heroides, we find that of Thisbe in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, bk. iv; that of Philomela in the same, bk. vi; whilst those of Cleopatra and Lucretia are in Boccaccio’s book De Claris Mulieribus, from which he imitated the title ‘Legend of Good Women,’ and derived also the story of Zenobia, as told in the Monkes Tale. However, Chaucer also consulted other sources, such as Ovid’s Fasti (ii. 721) and Livy for Lucretia, &c. See my Introduction to the Legend in vol. iii. pp. xxv., xxxvii.
With regard to the title ‘seintes legend of Cupide,’ which in modern English would be ‘Cupid’s Saints’ Legend,’ or ‘the Legend of Cupid’s Saints,’ Mr. Jephson remarks—‘This name is one example of the way in which Chaucer entered into the spirit of the heathen pantheism, as a real form of religion. He considers these persons, who suffered for love, to have been saints and martyrs for Cupid, just as Peter and Paul and Cyprian were martyrs for Christ.’
63. Gower also tells the story of Tarquin and Lucrece, which he took, says Professor Morley (English Writers, iv. 230), from the Gesta Romanorum, which again had it from Augustine’s De Civitate Dei.
Babilan, Babylonian; elsewhere Chaucer has Babiloine=Babylon, riming with Macedoine; Book of the Duchesse, l. 1061.
64.swerd, sword; put here for death by the sword. See Virgil’s Aeneid, iv. 646; and Chaucer’s Legend of Good Women, 1351.
65.tree, put here, most likely, for death by hanging; cf. last line. In Chaucer’s Legend, 2485, we find—
‘She was her owne deeth right with a corde.’
The word may also be taken literally, since Phyllis was metamorphosed after her death into a tree; Gower says she became a nut-tree, and derives filbert from Phyllis; Conf. Amant. bk. iv. Lydgate writes filbert instead of Phyllis; Complaint of Black Knight, l. 68.
66.The pleinte of Dianire, the complaint of Deianira, referring to Ovid’s letter ‘Deianira Herculi’; so also that of Hermion refers to the letter entitled ‘Hermione Orestae’; that of Adriane, to the ‘Ariadne Theseo’; and that of Isiphilee, to the ‘Hypsipyle Iasoni.’
68.bareyne yle, barren island; of which I can find no correct explanation by a previous editor. It refers to Ariadne, mentioned in the previous line. The expression is taken from Ariadne’s letter to Theseus, in Ovid’s Heroides, Ep. x. 59, where we find ‘uacat insula cultu’; and just below—
Or, without referring to Ovid at all, the allusion might easily have been explained by observing Chaucer’s Legend of Ariadne, l. 2163, where the island is described as solitary and desolate. It is said to have been the isle of Naxos.
69. Scan—The dreynt | e Lé | andér |. Here the pp. dreynt is used adjectivally, and takes the final e in the definite form. So in the Book of the Duchesse, 195, it is best to read the dreynte; and in the House of Fame, 1783, we must read the sweynte.
75.Alceste. The story of Alcestis—‘that turned was into a dayesie’—is sketched by Chaucer in his Prologue to the Legend, l. 511, &c. No doubt he intended to include her amongst the Good Women, as the very queen of them all.
78.Canacee; not the Canace of the Squieres Tale, whom Chaucer describes as so kind and good as well as beautiful, but Ovid’s Canace. The story is told by Gower, Confess. Amantis, book iii. It is difficult to resist the conclusion that Chaucer is here making a direct attack upon Gower, his former friend; probably because Gower had, in some places, imitated the earlier edition of Chaucer’s Man of Lawes Tale. This difficult question is fully discussed in vol. iii. pp. 413–7.
81. ‘Or else the story of Apollonius of Tyre.’ The form Tyro represents the Lat. ablative in ‘Apollonius de Tyro.’ This story, like that of Canacee (note to l. 78), is told by Gower, Conf. Amant. bk. viii., ed. Pauli, iii. 284; and here again Chaucer seems to reflect upon Gower. The story occurs in the Gesta Romanorum, in which it appears as Tale cliii., being the longest story in the whole collection. It is remarkable as being the only really romantic story extant in an Anglo-Saxon version; see Thorpe’s edition of it, London, 1834. It is therefore much older than 1190, the earliest date assigned by Warton. Compare the play of Pericles, Prince of Tyre.
89.if that I may, as far as lies in my power (to do as I please); a common expletive phrase, of no great force.
90.of, as to, with regard to. doon, accomplish it.
92.Pierides; Tyrwhitt rightly says—‘He rather means, I think, the daughters of Pierus, that contended with the Muses, and were changed into pies; Ovid, Metam. bk. v.’ Yet the expression is not wrong; it signifies—‘I do not wish to be likened to those would-be Muses, the Pierides’; in other words, I do not set myself up as worthy to be considered a poet.
93.Metamorphoseos. It was common to cite books thus, by a title in the genitive case, since the word Liber was understood. There is, however, a slight error in this substitution of the singular for the plural; the true title being P. Ovidii Nasonis Metamorphoseon Libri Quindecim. See the use of Eneydos in the Nonne Prestes Tale, B. 4549; and of Judicum in Monk. Ta. B. 3236.
94. ‘But, nevertheless, I care not a bean.’ Cf. l. 4004 below.
95.with hawe bake, with plain fare, as Dr. Morris explains it; it obviously means something of a humble character, unsuited for a refined taste. This was left unexplained by Tyrwhitt, but we may fairly translate it literally by ‘with a baked haw,’ i. e. something that could just be eaten by a very hungry person. The expression I sette nat an hawe (=I care not a haw) occurs in the Wyf of Bathes Prologue, D. 659. Haws are mentioned as given to feed hogs in the Vision of Piers Plowman, B. x. 10; but in The Romance of William of Palerne, l. 1811, a lady actually tells her lover that they can live in the woods on haws, hips, acorns, and hazel-nuts. There is a somewhat similar passage in the Legend of Good Women, Prol. ll. 73–77. I see no difficulty in this explanation. That proposed by Mr. Jephson—‘hark back’—is out of the question; we cannot rime bak with makë, nor does it make sense.
Baken was a strong verb in M. E., with the pp. baken or bake (A. S. bacen). Dr. Stratmann, apparently by mistake, enters this phrase under hawe, adj. dark grey! But he refrains from explaining bake.
96.I speke in prose, I generally have to speak in prose in the law courts; so that if my tale is prosy as compared with Chaucer’s, it is only what you would expect. Dr. Furnivall suggests that perhaps the prose tale of Melibeus was originally meant to be assigned to the Man of Lawe. See further in vol. iii. p. 406.
98.after, afterwards, immediately hereafter. Cf. other for otherwise in Old English.—M.
Prologue to the Man of Lawes Tale.
99–121. It is important to observe that more than three stanzas of this Prologue are little else than a translation from the treatise by Pope Innocent III. entitled De Contemptu Mundi, sive de Miseria Conditionis Humanae. This was first pointed out by Prof. Lounsbury, of Yale, Newhaven, U. S. A., in the Nation, July 4, 1889. He shewed that the lost work by Chaucer (viz. his translation of ‘the Wreched Engendring of Mankinde As man may in Pope Innocent y-finde,’ mentioned in the Legend of Good Women, Prologue A, l. 414) is not lost altogether, since we find traces of it in the first four stanzas of the present Prologue; in the stanzas of the Man of Lawes Tale which begin, respectively, with lines 421, 771, 925, and 1135; and in some passages in the Pardoner’s Prologue; as will be pointed out.
It will be observed that if Chaucer, as is probable, has preserved extracts from this juvenile work of his without much alteration, it must have been originally composed in seven-line stanzas, like his Second Nonnes Tale and Man of Lawes Tale.
I here transcribe the original of the present passage from Innocent’s above-named treatise, lib. i. c. 16, marking the places where the stanzas begin.
De miseria divitis et pauperis. (99) Pauperes enim premuntur inedia, cruciantur aerumna, fame, siti, frigore, nuditate; vilescunt, tabescunt, spernuntur, et confunduntur. O miserabilis mendicantis conditio; et si petit, pudore confunditur, et si non petit, egestate consumitur, sed ut mendicet, necessitate compellitur. (106) Deum causatur iniquum, quod non recte dividat; proximum criminatur malignum, quod non plene subveniat. Indignatur, murmurat, imprecatur. (113) Adverte super hoc sententiam Sapientis, ‘Melius est,’ inquit, ‘mori quam indigere’: ‘Etiam proximo suo pauper odiosus erit.’ ‘Omnes dies pauperis mali’; (120) ‘fratres hominis pauperis oderunt eum; insuper et amici procul recesserunt ab eo.’
For further references to the quotations occurring in the above passage, see the notes below, to ll. 114, 118, 120.
99.poverte=povértë, with the accent on the second syllable, as it rimes with herte; in the Wyf of Bathes Tale, it rimes with sherte. Poverty is here personified, and addressed by the Man of Lawe. The whole passage is illustrated by a similar long passage near the end of the Wyf of Bathes Tale, in which the opposite side of the question is considered, and the poet shews what can be said in Poverty’s praise. See D. 1177–1206.
101.Thee is a dative, like me in l. 91.—M. See Gen. ii. 15 (A. S. version), where him þæs ne sceamode=they were not ashamed of it; lit. it shamed them not of it.
102.artow, art thou; the words being run together: so also seistow=sayest thou, in l. 110.
104.Maugree thyn heed, in spite of all you can do; lit. despite thy head; see Knightes Tale, A. 1169, 2618, D. 887.
105.Or . . . or=either . . . or; an early example of this construction.—M.
108.neighebour is a trisyllable; observe that e in the middle of a word is frequently sounded; cf. l. 115. wytest, blamest.
110. ‘By my faith, sayest thou, he will have to account for it hereafter, when his tail shall burn in the fire (lit. glowing coal), because he helps not the needy in their necessity.’
114. ‘It is better (for thee) to die than be in need.’ Tyrwhitt says—‘This saying of Solomon is quoted in the Romaunt of the Rose, l. 8573—Mieux vault mourir que pauvres estre’; [l. 8216, ed. Méon.] The quotation is not from Solomon, but from Jesus, son of Sirach; see Ecclus. xl. 28, where the Vulgate has—‘Melius est enim mori quam indigere.’ Cf. B. 2761.
115.Thy selve neighebor, thy very neighbour, even thy next neighbour. See note to l. 108.
118. In Prov. xv. 15, the Vulgate version has—‘Omnes dies pauperis mali’; where the A. V. has ‘the afflicted.’
119. The reading to makes the line harsh, as the final e in come should be sounded, and therefore needs elision. in that prikke, into that point, into that condition; cf. l. 1028.
120. Cf. Prov. xiv. 20—‘the poor is hated even of his neighbour’; or, in the Vulgate, ‘Etiam proximo suo pauper odiosus erit.’ Also Prov. xix. 7—‘all the brethren of the poor do hate him; how much more do his friends go far from him’; or, in the Vulgate, ‘Fratres hominis pauperis oderunt eum; insuper et amici procul recesserunt ab eo.’ So too Ovid, Trist. i. 9. 5:—
Chaucer has the same thought again in his Tale of Melibeus (p. 227, B. 2749)—‘and if thy fortune change, that thou wexe povre, farewel freendshipe and felaweshipe!’ See also note to B. 3436.
123.as in this cas, as relates to this condition or lot in life. In Chaucer, cas often means chance, hap.
124.ambes as, double aces, two aces, in throwing dice. Ambes is Old French for both, from Lat. ambo. The line in the Monkes Tale—‘Thy sys fortune hath turned into as’ (B. 3851)—helps us out here in some measure, as it proves that a six was reckoned as a good throw, but an ace as a bad one. So in Shakespeare, Mids. Nt. Dream, v. 1. 314, we find less than an ace explained as equivalent to nothing. In the next line, sis cink means a six and a five, which was often a winning throw. The allusion is probably, however, not to the mere attempt as to which of two players could throw the highest, but to the particular game called hazard, in which the word chance (here used) has a special sense. There is a good description of it in the Supplemental volume to the English Cyclopaedia, div. Arts and Sciences. The whole description has to be read, but it may suffice to say here that, when the caster is going to throw, he calls a main, or names one of the numbers five, six, seven, eight, or nine; most often, he calls seven. If he then throws either seven or eleven (Chaucer’s sis cink), he wins; if he throws aces (Chaucer’s ambes as) or deuce-ace (two and one), or double sixes, he loses. If he throws some other number, that number is called the caster’s chance, and he goes on playing till either the main or the chance turns up. In the first case he loses, in the second, he wins. If he calls some other number, the winning and losing throws are somewhat varied; but in all cases, the double ace is a losing throw.
Similarly, in The Pardoneres Tale, where hazard is mentioned by name (C. 591), we find, at l. 653—‘Seven is my chaunce, and thyn is cinq and treye,’ i.e. eight.
In Lydgate’s Order of Fools, printed in Queen Elizabeth’s Academy, ed. Furnivall, p. 81, one fool is described—
And in a ballad printed in Chaucer’s Works, ed. 1561, folio 340, back, we have—
The phrase was already used proverbially before Chaucer’s time. In the metrical Life of St. Brandan, ed. T. Wright, p. 23, we find, ‘hi caste an ambes as,’ they cast double aces, i. e. they wholly failed. See Ambsace in the New E. Dict. Dr. Morris notes that the phrase ‘aums ace’ occurs in Hazlitt’s O. E. Plays, ii. 35, with the editorial remark—‘not mentioned elsewhere’ (!).
126.At Cristemasse, even at Christmas, when the severest weather comes. In olden times, severe cold must have tried the poor even more than it does now.
127.seken, search through; much like the word compass in the phrase ‘ye compass sea and land’ in Matth. xxiii. 15.
128.thestaat, for the estaat, i. e. the estate. This coalescence of the article and substantive is common in Chaucer, when the substantive begins with a vowel; cf. thoccident, B. 3864; thorient, B. 3871.
129.fadres, fathers, originators; by bringing tidings from afar.
130.debat, strife. Merchants, being great travellers, were expected to pick up good stories.
131.were, should be. desolat, destitute. ‘The E. E. word is westi’; ‘westi of alle gode theawes,’ destitute of all good virtues; O. Eng. Homilies, i. 285.’—M.
132.Nere, for ne were, were it not. goon is, &c., many a year ago, long since.
The Tale of the Man of Lawe.
A story, agreeing closely with The Man of Lawes Tale, is found in Book II. of Gower’s Confessio Amantis, from which Tyrwhitt supposed that Chaucer borrowed it. But Gower’s version seems to be later than Chaucer’s, whilst Chaucer and Gower were both alike indebted to the version of the story in French prose (by Nicholas Trivet) in MS. Arundel 56, printed for the Chaucer Society in 1872. In some places Chaucer agrees with this French version rather closely, but he makes variations and additions at pleasure. Cf. vol. iii. p. 409.
The first ninety-eight lines of the preceding Prologue are written in couplets, in order to link the Tale to the others of the series; but there is nothing to show which of the other tales it was intended to follow. Next follows a more special Prologue of thirty-five lines, in five stanzas of seven lines each; so that the first line in the Tale is l. 134 of Group B, the second of the fragments into which the Canterbury Tales are broken up, owing to the incomplete state in which Chaucer left them.
134.Surrie, Syria; called Sarazine (Saracen-land) by N. Trivet.
136.spycerye, grocery, &c., lit. spicery. The old name for a grocer was a spicer; and spicery was a wide term. ‘It should be noted that the Ital. spezerie included a vast deal more than ginger and other “things hot i’ the mouth.” In one of Pegoletti’s lists of spezerie we find drugs, dye-stuffs, metals, wax, cotton,’ &c.—Note by Col. Yule in his ed. of Marco Polo; on bk. i. c. 1.
143.Were it, whether it were.
144.message, messenger, not message; see l. 333, and the note.
145. The final e in Rome is pronounced, as in l. 142; but the words the ende are to be run together, forming but one syllable, thende, according to Chaucer’s usual practice; cf. note to l. 255. Indeed in ll. 423, 965, it is actually so spelt; just as, in l. 150, we have thexcellent, and in l. 151, themperoures.
151.themperoures, the emperor’s. Gower calls him Tiberius Constantine, who was Emperor (not of Rome, but) of the East, 578, and was succeeded, as in the story, by Maurice, 582. His capital was Constantinople, whither merchants from Syria could easily repair; but the greater fame of Rome caused the substitution of the Western for the Eastern capital.
156.God him see, God protect him. See note to C. 715.
161.al Europe. In the margin of MSS. E. Hn. Cp. Pt. Ln. is written the note ‘Europa est tercia pars mundi.’
166.mirour, mirror. Such French words are frequently accented on the last syllable. Cf. minístr’ in l. 168.
171.han doon fraught, have caused to be freighted. All the MSS. have fraught, not fraughte. In the Glossary to Specimens of English, I marked fraught as being the infinitive mood, as Dr. Stratmann supposes, though he notes the lack of the final e. I have now no doubt that fraught is nothing but the past participle, as in William of Palerne, l. 2732—
‘And feithliche fraught ful of fine wines,’
which is said of a ship. The use of this past participle after a perfect tense is a most remarkable idiom, but there is no doubt about its occurrence in the Clerkes Tale, Group E. 1098, where we find ‘Hath doon yow kept,’ where Tyrwhitt has altered kept to kepe. On the other hand, Tyrwhitt actually notes the occurrence of ‘Hath don wroght’ in Kn. Tale, 1055, (A. 1913), which he calls an irregularity. A better name for it is idiom. I find similar instances of it in another author of the same period,
I.e. they have caused it (to be) salted. And again in the same, bk. viii. l. 13, we have the expression He gert held, as if ‘he caused to be held’; but it may mean ‘he caused to incline.’ Compare also the following:—
‘And thai sall let thame trumpit ill’; id. xix. 712.
I.e. and they shall consider themselves as evilly deceived.
In the Royal Wills, ed. Nichols, p. 278, we find:—‘wher I have beforn ordeyned and do mad [caused to be made] my tombe.’
The infinitive appears to have been fraughten, though the earliest certain examples of this form seem to be those in Shakespeare, Cymb. i. 1. 126, Temp. i. 2. 13. The proper form of the pp. was fraughted (as in Marlowe, 2 Tamb. i. 2. 33), but the loss of final -ed in past participles of verbs of which the stem ends in t is common; cf. set, put, &c. Hence this form fraught as a pp. in the present instance. It is a Scandinavian word, from Swed. frakta, Dan. fragte. At a later period we find freight, the mod. E. form. The vowel-change is due to the fact that there was an intermediate form fret, borrowed from the French form fret of the Scandinavian word. This form fret disturbed the vowel-sound, without wholly destroying the recollection of the original guttural gh, due to the Swed. k. For an example of fret, we have only to consult the old black-letter editions of Chaucer printed in 1532 and 1561, which give us the present line in the form—‘These marchantes han don fret her ships new.’
185.ceriously, ‘seriously,’ i.e. with great minuteness of detail. Used by Fabyan, who says that ‘to reherce ceryously’ all the conquests of Henry V would fill a volume; Chron., ed. Ellis, p. 589. Skelton, in his Garland of Laurell, l. 581, has: ‘And seryously she shewyd me ther denominacyons’; on which Dyce remarks that it means seriatim, and gives a clear example. It answers to the Low Latin seriose, used in two senses; (1) seriously, gravely; (2) minutely, fully. In the latter case it is perhaps to be referred to the Lat. series, not serius. A similar word, cereatly (Lat. seriatim), is found three times in the Romance of Partenay, ed. Skeat, with the sense of in due order; cf. Ceriatly and Ceryows in the New E. Dict.
In N. and Q. 7 S. xii. 183, I shewed that Lydgate has at least ten examples of this use of the word in his Siege of Troye. In one instance it is spelt seryously (with s).
190. This refers to the old belief in astrology and the casting of nativities. Cf. Prol. A. 414–418. Observe that ll. 190–203 are not in the original, and were doubtless added in revision. This is why this sowdan in l. 186 is so far separated from the repetition of the same words in l. 204.
197. Tyrwhitt shews that this stanza is imitated closely from some Latin lines, some of which are quoted in the margin of many MSS. of Chaucer. He quotes them at length from the Megacosmos of Bernardus Silvestris, a poet of the twelfth century (extant in MS. Bodley 1265). The lines are as follows, it being premised that those printed in italics are cited in the margin of MSS. E. Hn. Cp. Pt. and Ln.:—
See Bernardi Sylvestris Megacosmos, ed. C. S. Barach and J. Wrobel, Innsbruck, 1876, p. 16. The names Ector (Hector), &c., are too well known to require comment. The death of Turnus is told at the end of Vergil’s Æneid.
207, 208. Here have, forming part of the phrase mighte have grace, is unemphatic, whilst han (for haven) is emphatic, and signifies possession. See han again in l. 241.
211. Compare Squieres Tale, F. 202, 203, and the note thereon.
224.Mahoun, Mahomet. The French version does not mention Mahomet. This is an anachronism on Chaucer’s part; the Emperor Tiberius II. died 582, when Mahomet was but twelve years old.
228.I prey yow holde, I pray you to hold. Here holde is the infinitive mood. The imperative plural would be holdeth; see saveth, next line.
236.Maumettrye, idolatry; from the Mid. E. maumet, an idol, corrupted from Mahomet. The confusion introduced by using the word Mahomet for an idol may partly account for the anachronism in l. 224. The Mahometans were falsely supposed by our forefathers to be idolaters.
242.noot, equivalent to ne woot, know not.
248.gret-è forms the fourth foot in the line. If we read gret, the line is left imperfect at the cæsura; and we should have to scan it with a medial pause, as thus:—
That thém | peróur ∥ —óf | his grét | noblésse ∥
Line 621 below may be read in a similar manner:—
But ná | thelées ∥ —thér | was gréet | moorning ∥
253. ‘So, when Ethelbert married Bertha, daughter of the Christian King Charibert, she brought with her, to the court of her husband, a Gallican bishop named Leudhard, who was permitted to celebrate mass in the ancient British Church of St. Martin, at Canterbury.’—Note in Bell’s Chaucer.
255.ynowe, being plural, takes a final e; we then read th’ende, as explained in note to l. 145. The pl. inoȝhe occurs in the Ormulum.
263.alle and some, collectively and individually; one and all. See Cler. Tale, E. 941, &c.
273–87. Not in the original; perhaps added in revision.
277. The word alle, being plural, is dissyllabic. Thing is often a plural form, being an A. S. neuter noun. The words over, ever, never are, in Chaucer, generally monosyllables, or nearly so; just as o’er, e’er, ne’er are treated as monosyllables by our poets in general. Hence the scansion is—‘Ov’r al | lë thing | ,’ &c.
289. The word at is inserted from the Cambridge MS.; all the other six MSS. omit it, which makes the passage one of extreme difficulty. Tyrwhitt reads ‘Or Ylion brent, or Thebes the citee.’ Of course he means brende, past tense, not brent, the past participle; and his conjecture amounts to inserting or before Thebes. It is better to insert at, as in MS. Cm.; see Gilman’s edition. The sense is—‘When Pyrrhus broke the wall, before Ilium burnt, (nor) at the city of Thebes, nor at Rome,’ &c. Nat (l. 290) = Ne at, as in Hl. Ylion, in medieval romance, meant ‘the citadel’ of Troy; see my note to l. 936 of the Legend of Good Women. Tyrwhitt well observes that ‘Thebes the citee’ is a French phrase. He quotes ‘dedans Renes la cite,’ Froissart, v. i. c. 225.
295–315. Not in the original, and clearly a later addition. They include an allusion to Boethius (see next note).
295. In the margin of the Ellesmere MS. is written—‘Vnde Ptholomeus, libro i. cap. 8. Primi motus celi duo sunt, quorum vnus est qui mouet totum semper ab Oriente in Occidentem vno modo super orbes, &c. Item aliter vero motus est qui mouet orbem stellarum currencium contra motum primum, videlicet, ab Occidente in Orientem super alios duos polos.’ The old astronomy imagined nine spheres revolving round the central stationary earth; of the seven innermost, each carried with it one of the seven planets, viz. the Moon, Venus, Mercury, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn; the eighth sphere, that of the fixed stars, had a slow motion from west to east, round the axis of the zodiac (super alios duos polos), to account for the precession of the equinoxes; whilst the ninth or outermost sphere, called the primum mobile, or the sphere of first motion, had a diurnal revolution from east to west, carrying everything with it. This exactly corresponds with Chaucer’s language. He addresses the outermost sphere or primum mobile (which is the ninth if reckoning from within, but the first from without), and accuses it of carrying with it everything in its irresistible westward motion; a motion contrary to that of the ‘natural’ motion, viz. that in which the sun advances along the signs of the zodiac. The result was that the evil influence of the planet Mars prevented the marriage. It is clear that Chaucer was thinking of certain passages in Boethius, as will appear from consulting his own translation of Boethius, ed. Morris, pp. 21, 22, 106, and 110. I quote a few lines to shew this:—
‘O þou maker of þe whele þat bereþ þe sterres, whiche þat art fastned to þi perdurable chayere, and turnest þe heuene wiþ a rauyssyng sweighe, and constreinest þe sterres to suffren þi lawe’; pp. 21, 22.
‘þe regioun of þe fire þat eschaufiþ by þe swifte moeuyng of þe firmament’; p. 110.
The original is—
‘Quique agili motu calet aetheris’; id. lib. iv. met. 1.
(See the same passages in vol. ii. pp. 16, 94).
To the original nine spheres, as above, was afterwards added a tenth or crystalline sphere; see the description in the Complaint of Scotland, ed. Murray (E. E. T. S.), pp. 47, 48. For the figure, see fig. 10 on Plate V., in my edition of Chaucer’s Astrolabe (in vol. iii.).
Compare also the following passage:—
299.crowding, pushing. This is still a familiar word in East Anglia. Forby, in his Glossary of the East Anglian Dialect, says—‘Crowd, v. to push, shove, or press close. To the word, in its common acceptation, number seems necessary. With us, one individual can crowd another.’ To crowd a wheelbarrow means to push it. The expression ‘crod in a barwe,’ i.e. wheeled or pushed along in a wheelbarrow, occurs in the Paston Letters, 1477, ed. Gairdner, iii. 215.
302. A planet is said to ascend directly, when in a direct sign; but tortuously, when in a tortuous sign. The tortuous signs are those which ascend most obliquely to the horizon, viz. the signs from Capricornus to Gemini inclusive. Chaucer tells us this himself; see his Treatise on the Astrolabe, part ii. sect. 28, in vol. iii. The most ‘tortuous’ of these are the two middle ones, Pisces and Aries. Of these two, Aries is called the mansion of Mars, and we may therefore suppose the ascending sign to be Aries, the lord of which (Mars) is said to have fallen ‘from his angle into the darkest house.’ The words ‘angle’ and ‘house’ are used technically. The whole zodiacal circle was divided into twelve equal parts, or ‘houses.’ Of these, four (beginning from the cardinal points) were termed ‘angles,’ four others (next following them) ‘succedents,’ and the rest ‘cadents.’ It appears that Mars was not then situate in an ‘angle,’ but in his ‘darkest (i. e. darker) house.’ Mars had two houses, Aries and Scorpio. The latter is here meant; Aries being the ascendent sign, Scorpio was below the horizon, and beyond the western ‘angle.’
Now Scorpio was ‘called the house of death, and of trauaile, of harm, and of domage, of strife, of battaile, of guilefulnesse and falsnesse, and of wit’; Batman upon Bartholomè, lib. viii. c. 17. We may represent the position of Mars by the following table, where East represents the ascending sign, West the descending sign; and A., S., and C. stand for ‘angle,’ ‘succedent,’ and ‘cadent house’ respectively.
Again, the ‘darkest house’ was sometimes considered to be the eighth; though authorities varied. This again points to Scorpio.
‘Nulla diuisio circuli tam pessima, tamque crudelis in omnibus, quam octaua est.’—Aphorismi Astrologi Ludovici de Rigiis; sect. 35. I may also note here, that in Lydgate’s Siege of Troy, ed. 1555, fol. Y 4, there is a long passage on the evil effects of Mars in the ‘house’ of Scorpio.
305. The meaning of Atazir has long remained undiscovered. But by the kind help of Mr. Bensly, one of the sub-librarians of the Cambridge University Library, I am enabled to explain it. Atazir or atacir is the Spanish spelling of the Arabic al-tasir, influence, given at p. 351 of Richardson’s Pers. Dict., ed. 1829. It is a noun derived from asara, a verb of the second conjugation, meaning to leave a mark on, from the substantive asar, a mark; the latter substantive is given at p. 20 of the same work. Its use in astrology is commented upon by Dozy, who gives it in the form atacir, in his Glossaire des Mots Espagnols dérivés de l’Arabique, p. 207. It signifies the influence of a star or planet upon other stars, or upon the fortunes of men. In the present case it is clearly used in a bad sense; we may therefore translate it by ‘evil influence,’ i. e. the influence of Mars in the house of Scorpio. On this common deterioration in the meaning of words, see Trench, Study of Words, p. 52. The word craft, for example, is a very similar instance; it originally meant skill, and hence, a trade, and we find star-craft used in particular to signify the science of astronomy.
307. ‘Thou art in conjunction in an unfavourable position; from the position in which thou wast favourably placed thou art moved away.’ This I take to mean that the Moon (as well as Mars) was in Scorpio; hence their conjunction. But Scorpio was called the Moon’s depression, being the sign in which her influence was least favourable; she was therefore ‘not well received,’ i. e., not supported by a lucky planet, or by a planet in a lucky position. weyved, pushed aside.
312. ‘Is there no choice as to when to fix the voyage?’ The favourable moment for commencing a voyage was one of the points on which it was considered desirable to have an astrologer’s opinion. Travelling, at that time, was a serious matter. Yet this was only one of the many undertakings which required, as was thought, to be begun at a favourable moment. Whole books were written on ‘elections,’ i.e. favourable times for commencing operations of all kinds. Chaucer was thinking, in particular, of the following passage, which is written in the margins of the Ellesmere and Hengwrt MSS.: ‘Omnes concordati sunt quod elecciones sint debiles nisi in diuitibus: habent enim isti, licet debilitentur eorum elecciones, radicem, i. [id est] natiuitates eorum, que confortat omnem planetam debilem in itinere.’ The sense of which is—‘For all are agreed, that “elections” are weak, except in the case of the rich; for these, although their elections be weakened, have a “root” of their own, that is to say, their nativities (or horoscopes); which root strengthens every planet that is of weak influence with respect to a journey.’ This is extracted, says Tyrwhitt, from a Liber Electionum by a certain Zael; see MS. Harl. 80; MS. Bodley 1648. This is a very fair example of the jargon to be found in old books on astrology. The old astrologers used to alter their predictions almost at pleasure, by stating that their results depended on several causes, which partly counteracted one another; an arrangement of which the convenience is obvious. Thus, if the aspect of the planets at the time inquired about appeared to be adverse to a journey, it might still be the case (they said) that such evil aspect might be overcome by the fortunate aspect of the inquirer’s horoscope; or, conversely, an ill aspect in the horoscope could be counteracted by a fit election of a time for action. A rich man would probably be fitted with a fortunate horoscope, or else why should he buy one? Such horoscope depended on the aspect of the heavens at the time of birth or ‘nativity,’ and, in particular, upon the ‘ascendent’ at that time; i. e. upon the planets lying nearest to the point of the zodiac which happened, at that moment, to be ascending, i. e. just appearing above the horizon. So Chaucer, in his Treatise on the Astrolabe, pt. ii. § 4, (vol. iii. 191), explains the matter, saying—‘The assendent sothly, as wel in alle nativitez as in questiouns and elecciouns of tymes, is a thing which that thise Astrologiens gretly observen’; &c. The curious reader may find much more to the same effect in the same Treatise, with directions to ‘make roots’ in pt. ii. § 44.
The curious may further consult the Epitome Astrologiae of Johannes Hispalensis. The whole of Book iv. of that work is ‘De Electionibus,’ and the title of cap. xv. is ‘Pro Itinere.’
Lydgate, in his Siege of Thebes, just at the beginning, describes the astronomers as casting the horoscope of the infant Œdipus. They were expected
To take a different example, Ashmole, in his Theatrum Chemicum, 1652, says in a note on p. 450—‘Generally in all Elections the Efficacy of the Starrs are (sic) used, as it were by a certaine application made thereof to those unformed Natures that are to be wrought upon; whereby to further the working thereof, and make them more available to our purpose. . . . And by such Elections as good use may be made of the Celestiall influences, as a Physitian doth of the variety of herbes. . . . But Nativities are the Radices of Elections, and therefore we ought chiefly to looke backe upon them as the principal Root and Foundation of all Operations; and next to them the quality of the Thing we intend to fit must be respected, so that, by an apt position of Heaven, and fortifying the Planets and Houses in the Nativity of the Operator, and making them agree with the thing signified, the impression made by that influence will abundantly augment the Operation,’ &c.; with much more to the same effect. Several passages in Norton’s Ordinall, printed in the same volume (see pp. 60, 100), shew clearly what is meant by Chaucer in his Prologue, ll. 415–7. The Doctor could ‘fortune the ascendent of his images,’ by choosing a favourable moment for the making of charms in the form of images, when a suitable planet was in the ascendent. Cf. Troil. ii. 74.
314.rote is the astrological term for the epoch from which to reckon. The exact moment of a nativity being known, the astrologers were supposed to be able to calculate everything else. See the last note.
332.Alkaron, the Koran; al is the Arabic article.
333. Here Makomete is used instead of Mahoun (l. 224). See Washington Irving’s Life of Mahomet.
message, messenger. This is a correct form, according to the usages of Middle English; cf. l. 144. In like manner, we find prison used to mean a prisoner, which is often puzzling at first sight.
340. ‘Because we denied Mahomet, our (object of) belief.’
360. ‘O serpent under the form of woman, like that Serpent that is bound in hell.’ The allusion here is not a little curious. It clearly refers to the old belief that the serpent who tempted Eve appeared to her with a woman’s head, and it is sometimes so represented. I observed it, for instance, in the chapter-house of Salisbury Cathedral; and see the woodcut at p. 73 of Wright’s History of Caricature and Grotesque in Art. In Peter Comestor’s Historia Libri Genesis, we read of Satan—‘Elegit etiam quoddam genus serpentis (vt ait Beda) virgineum vultum habens.’ In the alliterative Troy Book, ed. Panton and Donaldson, p. 144, the Tempter is called Lyuyaton (i. e. Leviathan), and it is said of him that he
‘Hade a face vne fourmet as a fre maydon’; l. 4451.
And, again, in Piers the Plowman, B. xviii. 355, Satan is compared to a ‘lusarde [lizard] with a lady visage.’ In the Ancren Riwle, p. 207, we are gravely informed that a scorpion is a kind of serpent that has a face somewhat like that of a woman, and puts on a pleasant countenance. To remember this gives peculiar force to ll. 370, 371. See also note to l. 404.
367.knowestow is a trisyllable; and the olde is to be read tholdè. But in l. 371, the word Makestow, being differently placed in the line, is to be read with the e slurred over, as a dissyllable.
380.moste, might. It is not always used like the modern must.
401. See Lucan’s Pharsalia, iii. 79—‘Perdidit o qualem uincendo plura triumphum!’ But Chaucer’s reference, evidently made at random, is unlucky. Lucan laments that he had no triumph to record.
404. The line is deficient at the beginning, the word But standing by itself as a foot. So also in A. 294, G. 341, &c. See Ellis’s Early English Pronunciation, pp. 333, 649. (This peculiarity was pointed out by me in 1866, in the Aldine edition of Chaucer, i. 174.) For the sense of scorpioun, see the reference to the Ancren Riwle, in note to l. 360, and compare the following extracts. ‘Thes is the scorpioun, thet maketh uayr mid the heauede, and enuenymeth mid the tayle’; Ayenbite of Inwyt, ed. Morris, p. 62. ‘The scorpion, the whiche enoynteth with his tongue, and prycketh sore with his taylle’; Caxton, Fables of Æsop; Lib. iv. fable 3. Chaucer repeats the idea, somewhat more fully, in the Marchaunts Tale, E. 2058–2060. So also this wikked gost means this Evil Spirit, this Tempter.
421. Pronounce ever rapidly, and accent súccessour on the first syllable. In the margin of MSS. E. Hn. Pt. and Cp. is the following note: ‘Nota, de inopinato dolore. Semper mundane leticie tristicia repentina succedit. Mundana igitur felicitas multis amaritudinibus est respersa. Extrema gaudii luctus occupat. Audi ergo salubre consilium; in die bonorum ne immemor sis malorum.’ This is one of the passages from Innocent’s treatise de Contemptu Mundi, of which I have already spoken in the note to B. 99–121 above (p. 140). Lib. i. c. 23 has the heading—‘De inopinato dolore.’ It begins:—‘Semper enim mundanae letitiae tristitia repentina succedit. Et quod incipit a gaudio, desinit in moerore. Mundana quippe felicitas multis amaritudinibus est respersa. Noverat hoc qui dixerat: “Risus dolore miscebitur, et extrema gaudii luctus occupat.” . . . Attende salubrem consilium: “In die bonorum, non immemor sis malorum.” ’
This passage is mostly made up of scraps taken from different authors. I find in Boethius, De Consolatione Philosophiae, lib. ii. pr. 4—‘Quam multis amaritudinibus humanae felicitatis dulcedo respersa est’; which Chaucer translates by—‘The swetnesse of mannes welefulnesse is sprayned with many biternesses’; see vol. ii. p. 34; and the same expression is repeated here, in l. 422. Gower quotes the same passage from Boethius in the prologue to his Confessio Amantis. The next sentence is from Prov. xiv. 13—‘Risus dolore miscebitur, et extrema gaudii luctus occupat.’ The last clause (see ll. 426, 427) is from Ecclesiasticus, xi. 27 (in the Vulgate version). Cf. Troil. iv. 836.
438. Compare Trivet’s French prose version:—‘Dount ele fist estorier vne neef de vitaile, de payn quest apele bisquit, & de peis, & de feues, de sucre, & de meel, & de vyn, pur sustenaunce de la vie de la pucele pur treis aunx; e en cele neef fit mettre la richesse & le tresour que lempire Tiberie auoit maunde oue la pucele Constaunce, sa fille; e en cele neef fist la soudane mettre la pucele saunz sigle, & sauntz neuiroun, & sauntz chescune maner de eide de homme.’ I. e. ‘Then she caused a ship to be stored with victuals, with bread that is called biscuit, with peas, beans, sugar, honey, and wine, to sustain the maiden’s life for three years. And in this ship she caused to be placed the riches and treasure which the Emperor Tiberius had sent with the maid Constance his daughter; and in this ship the Sultaness caused the maiden to be put, without sail or oar, or any kind of human aid.’
foot-hot, hastily. It occurs in Gower, ed. Pauli, ii. 114; in The Romaunt of the Rose, l. 3827: Octovian, 1224, in Weber’s Met. Rom. iii. 208; Sevyn Sages, 843, in the same, iii. 34; Richard Coer de Lion, 1798, 2185, in the same, ii. 71, 86; and in Barbour’s Bruce, iii. 418, xiii. 454. Compare the term hot-trod, explained by Sir W. Scott to mean the pursuit of marauders with bloodhounds: see note 3 H to the Lay of the Last Minstrel. We also find hot fot, i. e. immediately, in the Debate of the Body and the Soul, l. 481. It is a translation of the O. F. phrase chalt pas, immediately, examples of which are given by Godefroy.
449–62. Not in the original; perhaps added in revision.
451–62. Compare these lines with verses 3 and 5 of the hymn ‘Lustra sex qui iam peregit’ in the office of Lauds from Passion Sunday to Wednesday in Holy Week inclusive, in the Roman breviary.
This hymn was written by Venantius Fortunatus; see Leyser’s collection, p. 168.
See the translation in Hymns Ancient and Modern, No. 97, part 2 (new edition), beginning—‘Now the thirty years accomplished.’
We come still nearer to the original of Chaucer’s lines when we consider the form of prayer quoted in the Ancren Riwle, p. 34, which is there given as follows:—‘Salue crux sancta, arbor digna, quae sola fuisti digna portare Regem celorum et Dominum . . . . O crux gloriosa! o crux adoranda! o lignum preciosum, et admirabile signum, per quod et diabolus est victus, et mundus Christi sanguine redemptus.’
460.him and here, him and her, i. e. man and woman; as in Piers the Plowman, A. Pass. i. l. 100. The allusion is to the supposed power of the cross over evil spirits. See The Legends of the Holy Rood, ed. Morris; especially the story of the Invention of the Cross by St. Helen, p. 160—‘And anone, as he had made the [sign of the] crosse, þe grete multitude of deuylles vanyshed awaye’; or, in the Latin original, ‘statimque ut edidit signum crucis, omnis illa daemonum multitudo euanuit’; Aurea Legenda, ed. Grösse, 2nd ed. p. 311. Cf. Piers Plowman, B. xviii. 429–431.
461. The reading of this line is certain, and must not be altered. But it is impossible to parse the line without at once noticing that there is some difficulty in the construction. The best solution is obtained by taking which in the sense of whom. A familiar example of this use of which for who occurs in the Lord’s Prayer. See also Abbott’s Shakespearian Grammar, Sect. 265. The construction is as follows—‘O victorious tree, protection of true people, that alone wast worthy to bear the King of Heaven with His new wounds—the White Lamb that was hurt with the spear—O expeller of fiends out of both man and woman, on whom (i.e. the men and women on whom) thine arms faithfully spread out,’ &c. Limes means the arms of the cross, spread before a person to protect him.
464.see of Grece, here put for the Mediterranean Sea.
465.Marrok, Morocco; alluding to the Strait of Gibraltar; cf. l. 947. So also in Barbour’s Bruce, iii. 688.
470–504. Not in the French text; perhaps added in revision.
474.Ther, where; as usual. knave, servant.
475. ‘Was eaten by the lion ere he could escape.’ Cf. l. 437.
480. The word clerkes refers to Boethius. This passage is due to Boeth. bk. iv. pr. 6. 114–117, and 152–4; see vol. ii. pp. 117, 118.
491. See Revelation vii. 1-3.
497. Here (if that be omitted) As seems to form a foot by itself, which gives but a poor line. See note to l. 404.
500. Alluding to St. Mary the Egyptian (Maria Egiptiaca), who according to the legend, after a youth spent in debauchery, lived entirely alone for the last forty-seven years of her life in the wilderness beyond the Jordan. She lived in the fifth century. Her day is April 9. See Mrs. Jameson’s Sacred and Legendary Art; Rutebuef, cd. Jubinal, ii. 106–150; Maundeville’s Travels, ed. Halliwell, p. 96; Aurea Legenda, ed. Grässe, cap. lvi. She was often confused with St. Mary Magdalen.
508.Northumberlond, the district, not the county. Yorkshire is, in fact, meant, as the French version expressly mentions the Humber.
510.of al a tyde, for the whole of an hour.
512.the constable; named Elda by Trivet and Gower.
519. Trivet says that she answered Elda in his own language, ‘en sessoneys,’ in Saxon, for she had learnt many languages in her youth.
525. The word deye seems to have had two pronunciations; in l. 644 it is dye, with a different rime. In fact, Mr. Cromie’s ‘Ryme-Index’ to Chaucer proves the point. On the one hand, deye rimes to aweye, disobeye, dreye, preye, seye, tweye, weye; and on the other, dye rimes to avoutrye, bigamye, compaignye, Emelye, genterye, lye, maladye, &c. So also, high appears both as hey and hy.
527.forgat hir minde, lost her memory.
531. The final e in plese is preserved from elision by the cæsural pause. Or, we may read plesen; yet the MSS. have plese.
533.Hermengild; spelt Hermyngild in Trivet; answering to A. S. Eormengild (Lappenberg, Hist. England, i. 285). Note that St. Hermengild was martyred just at this very time, Apr. 13, 846.
543.plages, regions; we even find the word in Marlowe’s Tamburlaine, pt. i. act iv. sc. 4, and pt. ii. act i. sc. 1. The latter passage is—‘From Scythia to the oriental plage Of India.’
552. ‘Eyes of his mind.’ Jean de Meun has the expression les yex de cuer, the eyes of the heart; see his Testament, ll. 1412, 1683.
578.Alla, i.e. Ælla, king of Northumberland, 560–567; the same whose name Gregory (afterwards Pope) turned, by a pun, into Alleluia, according to the version of the celebrated story about Gregory and the English slaves, as given in Beda, Eccl. Hist. b. ii. c. 1.
584.quyte her whyle, repay her time; i.e. her pains, trouble; as when we say ‘it is worth while.’ Wile is not intended.
585. ‘The plot of the knight against Constance, and also her subsequent adventure with the steward, are both to be found, with some variations, in a story in the Gesta Romanorum, ch. 101; MS. Harl. 2270. Occleve has versified the whole story’; Tyrwhitt. See vol. iii. p. 410, for further information. Compare the conduct of Iachimo, in Cymbeline.
609. See Troil. iv. 357.
620.Berth hir on hond, affirms falsely; lit. bears her in hand. Chaucer uses the phrase ‘to bere in hond’ with the sense of false affirmation, sometimes with the idea of accusing falsely, as here and in the Wyf of Bathes Prologue, D. 393; and sometimes with that of persuading falsely, D. 232, 380. In Shakespeare the sense is rather—‘to keep in expectation, to amuse with false pretences’; Nares’s Glossary. Barbour uses it in the more general sense of ‘to affirm,’ or ‘to make a statement,’ whether falsely or truly. In Dyce’s Skelton, i. 237, occurs the line—‘They bare me in hande that I was a spye’; which Dyce explains by ‘they accused me, laid to my charge that,’ &c. He refers us to Palsgrave, who has some curious examples of it. E. g., at p. 450:—‘I beare in hande, I threp upon a man that he hath done a dede or make hym beleve so, Ie fais accroyre . . . I beare hym in hande he was wode, Ie luy metz sus la raige, or ie luy metz sus quil estoyt enragé. What crime or yuell mayest thou beare me in hande of’; &c. So also: ‘Many be borne an hande of a faute, and punysshed therfore, that were neuer gylty; Plerique facinoris insimulantur,’ &c.; Hormanni Vulgaria, sig. m. ii. ed. 1530. In Skelton’s Why Come Ye Nat to Courte, l. 449, bereth on hand simply means ‘persuades.’
631–58. Not in the original. A later insertion, of much beauty.
634. ‘And bound Satan; and he still lies where he (then) lay.’ In the Apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus, Christ descends into hell, and (according to some versions) binds him with chains; see Piers Plowman, B. xviii. 401.
639.Susanne; see the story of Susannah, in the Apocrypha.
641. The Virgin’s mother is called Anna in the Apocryphal Gospel of James. Her day is July 26. See Aurea Legenda, ed. Grässe, cap. cxxxi; Cowper’s Apocryphal Gospels, p. 4.
647. ‘Where that he gat (could get) for himself no favour.’
660. ‘For pitee renneth sone in gentil herte’; Knightes Tale, A. 1761. And see note to Sq. Tale, F. 479.
664.us avyse, deliberate with ourselves, consider the matter again. Compare the law-phrase Le roi s’avisera, by which the king refuses assent to a measure proposed. ‘We will consider whom to appoint as judge.’
666. I.e. a copy of the Gospels in Welsh or British, called in the French prose version ‘liure des Ewangeiles.’ Agreements were sometimes written on the fly-leaves of copies of the Gospels, as may be seen in two copies of the A. S. version of them.
669. A very similar miracle is recorded in the old alliterative romance of Joseph of Arimatheạ, l. 362. The French version has:—‘a peine auoit fini la parole, qe vne mayn close, com poyn de homme, apparut deuant Elda et quant questoient en presence, et ferri tiel coup en le haterel le feloun, que ambedeus lez eus lui enuolerent de la teste, & les dentz hors de la bouche; & le feloun chai abatu a la terre; et a ceo dist vne voiz en le oyance de touz: Aduersus filiam matris ecclesie ponebas scandalum; hec fecisti, et tacui.’ I. e. ‘Scarcely had he ended the word, when a closed hand, like a man’s fist, appeared before Elda and all who were in the presence, and smote such a blow on the nape of the felon’s neck that both his eyes flew out of his head, and the teeth out of his mouth; and the felon fell smitten down to the earth; and thereupon a voice said in the hearing of all, “Against the daughter of Mother Church thou wast laying a scandal; this hast thou done, and I held my peace.” ’ The reading tacui suggests that, in l. 676, the word holde should rather be held; but the MSS. do not recognise this reading.
697.hir thoughte, it seemed to her; thoughte is here impersonal; so in l. 699. The French text adds that Domulde (Donegild) was, moreover, jealous of hearing the praises of Constance’s beauty.
701.Me list nat, it pleases me not, I do not wish to. He does not wish to give every detail. In this matter Chaucer is often very judicious; Gower and others often give the more unimportant matters as fully as the rest. Cf. l. 706; and see Squyeres Tale, F. 401.
703.What, why. Cf. Squyeres Tale, F. 283, 298.
716. Trivet says—‘Puis a vn demy aan passe, vint nouele al Roy que les gentz de Albanie, qe sountz les Escotz, furent passes lour boundes et guerrirent les terres le Roy. Dount par comun counseil, le Roi assembla son ost de rebouter ses enemis. Et auant son departir vers Escoce, baila la Reine Constaunce sa femme en la garde Elda, le Conestable du chastel, et a Lucius, leuesqe de Bangor; si lour chargea que quant ele fut deliueres denlaunt, qui lui feisoient hastiuement sauoir la nouele’; i. e. ‘Then, after half-a-year, news came to the king that the people of Albania, who are the Scots, had passed their bounds, and warred on the king’s lands. Then by common counsel the king gathered his host to rebut his foes. And before his departure towards Scotland, he committed Queen Constance his wife to the keeping of Elda, the constable of the castle, and of Lucius, bishop of Bangor, and charged them that when she was delivered, they should hastily let him know the news.’
722.knave child, male child; as in Clerkes Tale, E. 444.
723.at the fontstoon, i. e. at his baptism; French text—‘al baptisme fu nome Moris.’
729.to doon his avantage, to suit his convenience. He hoped, by going only a little out of his way, to tell Donegild the news also, and to receive a reward for doing so. Trivet says that the old Queen was then at Knaresborough, situated ‘between England and Scotland, as in an intermediate place.’ Its exact site is less than seventeen miles west of York. Donegild pretends to be very pleased at the news, and gives the man a rich present.
736.lettres; so in all seven MSS.; Tyrwhitt reads lettre. But it is right as it is. Lettres is sometimes used, like Lat. literae, in a singular sense, and the French text has ‘les lettres.’ Examples occur in Piers Plowman, B. ix. 38; Bruce, ii. 80. See l. 744, and note to l. 747.
738.If ye wol aught, if you wish (to say) anything.
740.Donegild is dissyllabic here, as in l. 695, but in l. 805 it appears to have three syllables. Chaucer constantly alters proper names so as to suit his metre.
743.sadly, steadily, with the idea of long continuance.
747.lettre; here the singular form is used, but it is a matter of indifference. Exactly the same variation occurs in Barbour’s Bruce, ii. 80:—
This circumstance, of exchanging the messenger’s letters for forged ones, is found in Matthew Paris’s account of the Life of Offa the first; ed. Wats, pp. 965–968.
748.direct, directed, addressed; French text ‘maundez.’
751. Pronounce horrible as in French.
752. The last word in this line should rather be nas (= was not), as has kindly been pointed out to me; though the seven MSS. and the old editions all have was. By this alteration we should secure a true rime.
754.elf; French text—‘ele fu malueise espirit en fourme de femme,’ she was an evil spirit in form of woman. Elf is the A. S. ælf, Icel. álfr, G. alp and elfe; Shakespeare writes ouphes for elves. ‘The Edda distinguishes between Ljósálfar, the elves of light, and Dökkálfar, elves of darkness; the latter are not elsewhere mentioned either in modern fairy tales or in old writers. . . . . In the Alvismál, elves and dwarfs are clearly distinguished as different. The abode of the elves in the Edda is A′lfheimar, fairy land, and their king the god Frey, the god of light. In the fairy tales the Elves haunt the hills; hence their name Huldufólk, hidden people; respecting their origin, life, and customs, see I′slenzkar þjóðsögur, i. 1. In old writers the Elves are rarely mentioned; but that the same tales were told as at present is clear’; note on the word álfr, in Cleasby and Vigfusson’s Icelandic Dictionary. See also Keightley’s Fairy Mythology, and Brand’s Popular Antiquities The word is here used in a bad sense, and is nearly equivalent to witch. In the Prompt. Parv. we find—‘Elfe, spryte, Lamia’; and Mr. Way notes that these elves were often supposed to bewitch children, and to use them cruelly.
767. Pronounce ágreáble nearly as in French, and with an accent on the first and third syllables.
769.take, handed over, delivered. Take often means to give or hand over in Middle English: very seldom to convey or bring.
771. In the margin of MSS. E. Hn. Cp. and Pt. is written—‘Quid turpius ebrioso, cui fetor in ore, tremor in corpore, qui promit stulta, prodit occulta, cuius mens alienatur, facies transformatur? Nullum enim latet secretum ubi regnat ebrietas.’ This is obviously the original of the stanza, ll. 771–777; cf. note to B. 99 above. There is nothing answering to it in Trivet, but it is to be found in Pope Innocent’s treatise De Contemptu Mundi, lib. ii. c. 19—De ebrietate. Migne’s edition has ‘promittit multa’ for ‘promit stulta.’ The last clause is quoted from Prov. xxxi. 4 in the Vulgate version; our English versions omit it. See B. 2384.
778. ‘O Donegild, I have no language fit to tell,’ &c.
782.mannish, man-like, i. e. harsh and cruel, not mild and gentle like a woman. But Chaucer is not satisfied with the epithet, and says he ought rather to call her ‘fiend-like.’ Perhaps it is worth while to say that in Gower’s Conf. Amant., lib. vi., where Pauli (iii. 52) has ‘Most liche to mannes creature,’ the older edition by Chalmers has the form mannish. Lines 778–84 are not in the original.
789. ‘He stowed away plenty (of wine) under his girdle,’ i. e. drank his fill.
794. Pronounce constábl’ much as if it were French, with an accent on a. In l. 808 the accent is on o. Lastly, in l. 858, all three syllables are fully sounded.
798. ‘Three days and a quarter of an hour’; i. e. she was to be allowed only three days, and after that to start off as soon as possible. Tide (like tíð in Icelandic) sometimes means an hour. The French text says ‘deynz quatre iours,’ within four days.
801.croude, push; see ll. 296, 299 above; and note to l. 299.
813–26. Lines 813–819 are not in the French, and ll. 820–826 are not at all close to the original. The former stanza, which is due to Boeth. bk. i. met. 5. 22–30, was doubtless added in the revision.
827–33. The French text only has—‘en esperaunce qe dure comencement amenera dieu a bon fyn, et qil me purra en la mere sauuer, qi en mere et en terre est de toute puissaunce.’
835. The beautiful stanzas in ll. 834–868 are all Chaucer’s own; and of the next stanza, ll. 869–875, the French text gives but the merest hint.
842.eggement, incitement. The same word is used in other descriptions of the Fall. Thus, in Piers Plowman, B. i. 65, it is said of Satan that ‘Adam and Eue he egged to ille’; and in Allit. Poems, ed. Morris, B. 241, it is said of Adam that ‘thurgh the eggyng of Eue he ete of an apple.’
852.refut, refuge; see G. 75, and A. B. C. 14.
859.As lat, pray, let. See note to Clerkes Prologue, E. 7.
873.purchace, provide, make provision. So in Troilus, bk. ii. 1125, the line ‘And of som goodly answere you purchace’ means—and provide yourself with some kind answer, i. e. be ready with a kind reply.
875–84. Much abridged from the French text.
885.tormented, tortured. However, the French text says the messenger acknowledged his drunkenness freely. Examination by torture was so common, that Chaucer seems to have regarded the mention of it as being the most simple way of telling the story.
893.out of drede, without doubt, certainly; cf. l. 869. The other equally common expression out of doute comes to much the same thing, because doute in Middle-English has in general the meaning of fear or dread, not of hesitation. See Group E. 634, 1155; and Prol. A. 487.
894.pleinly rede, fully read, read at length. In fact, Chaucer judiciously omits the details of the French text, where we read that King Ælla rushed into his mother’s room with a drawn sword as she lay asleep, roused her by crying ‘traitress!’ in a loud voice, and, after hearing the full confession which she made in the extremity of her terror, slew her and cut her to pieces as she lay in bed.
901.fleteth, floats. French text—‘le quinte an de cest exil, come ele fu flotaunt sur le mere,’ &c. Cf. fleet in l. 463.
905. The name of the castle is certainly not given in the French text, which merely says it was ‘vn chastel dun Admiral de paens,’ i. e. a castle of an admiral of the Pagans.
912.gauren, gaze, stare. See note to Squ. Tale, F. 190.
913.shortly, briefly; because the poet considerably abridges this part of the narrative. The steward’s name was Thelous.
925. The word Auctor, here written in the margin of E., signifies that this stanza and the two following ones are additions to the story by the author. At the same time, ll. 925–931 are really taken from Chaucer’s own translation of Pope Innocent’s treatise De Contemptu Mundi; see further in the note to B. 99 above. Accordingly, we also find here, in the margin of E., the following Latin note:—‘O extrema libidinis turpitudo, que non solum mentem effeminat, set eciam corpus eneruat. Semper sequ[u]ntur dolor et penitentia post,’ &c. This corresponds to the above treatise, lib. ii. c. 21, headed ‘De luxuria.’ The last clause is abbreviated; the original has:—‘Semper illam procedunt ardor et petulantia; semper comitantur fetor et immunditia; sequuntur semper dolor et poenitentia.’
932–45. These two stanzas are wholly Chaucer’s, plainly written as a parallel passage to that in ll. 470–504 above.
934.Golias, Goliath. See 1 Samuel xvii. 25.
940. See the story of Holofernes in the Monkes Tale, B. 3741; and the note. I select the spelling Olofernus here, because it is that of the majority of the MSS., and agrees with the title De Oloferno in the Monkes Tale.
947. In l. 465, Chaucer mentions the ‘Strait of Marrok,’ i. e. Morocco, though there is no mention of it in the French text; so here he alludes to it again, but by a different name, viz. ‘the mouth of Jubalter and Septe.’ Jubaltar (Gibraltar) is from the Arabic jabálu’t tárik, i. e. the mountain of Tarik; who was the leader of a band of Saracens that made a descent upon Spain in the eighth century. Septe is Ceuta, on the opposite coast of Africa.
965.shortly, briefly; because Chaucer here again abridges the original, which relates how the Romans burnt the Sultaness, and slew more than 11,000 of the Saracens, without a single death or even wound on their own side.
967.senatour. His name was Arsemius of Cappadocia; his wife’s name was Helen. Accent victorie on the o.
969.as seith the storie, as the history says. The French text relates this circumstance fully.
971. The French text says that, though Arsemius did not recognise Constance, she, on her part, recognised him at once, though she did not reveal it.
981.aunte. Helen, the wife of Arsemius, was daughter of Sallustius, brother of the Emperor Tiberius, and Constance’s uncle. Thus Helen was really Constance’s first cousin. Chaucer may have altered it purposely; but it looks as if he had glanced at the sentence—‘Cest heleyne, la nece Constaunce, taunt tendrement ama sa nece,’ &c., and had read it as—‘This Helen . . . loved her niece so tenderly.’ In reality, the word nece means ‘cousin’ here, being applied to Helen as well as to Constance.
982.she, i. e. Helen; for Constance knew Helen.
991.to receyven, i. e. to submit himself to any penance which the Pope might see fit to impose upon him. Journeys to Rome were actually made by English kings; Ælfred was sent to Rome as a boy, and his father, Æthelwulf, also spent a year there, but (as the Chronicle tells us) he went ‘mid micelre weorðnesse,’ with much pomp.
994.wikked werkes; especially the murder of his mother, as Trivet says. See note to l. 894.
999.Rood him ageyn, rode towards him, rode to meet him; cf. l. 391. See Cler. Tale, E. 911, and the note.
1009.Som men wolde seyn, some relate the story by saying. The expression occurs again in l. 1086. On the strength of it, Tyrwhitt concluded that Chaucer here refers to Gower, who tells the story of Constance in Book ii. of his Confessio Amantis. He observes that Gower’s version of the story includes both the circumstances which are introduced by this expression. But this is not conclusive, since we find that Nicholas Trivet also makes mention of the same circumstances. In the present instance the French text has—‘A ceo temps de la venuz le Roi a Rome, comensca Moris son diseotisme aan. Cist estoit apris priuement de sa mere Constance, qe, quant il irreit a la feste ou son seignur le senatour,’ &c.; i.e. At this time of the king’s coming to Rome, Maurice began his eighteenth year. He was secretly instructed by his mother Constance, that, when he should go to thefeast with his lord the senator, &c. See also the note to l. 1086 below. Besides, Gower may have followed Chaucer.
1014.metes space, time of eating. This circumstance strikingly resembles the story of young Roland, who, whilst still a child, was instructed by his mother Bertha to appear before his uncle Charlemagne, by way of introducing himself. The story is well told in Uhland’s ballad entitled ‘Klein Roland,’ a translation of which is given at pp. 335–340 of my ‘Ballads and Songs of Uhland.’
The result is also similar; Bertha is reconciled to Charlemagne, much as Constance is to Ælla.
1034.aught, in any way, at all; lit. ‘a whit.’
1035.sighte, sighed. So also pighte, ‘pitched’; plighte, ‘plucked’; and shrighte, ‘shrieked.’ It occurs again in Troil. iii. 1080, iv. 714, 1217, v. 1633; and in the Romaunt of the Rose, l. 1746.
1036.that he mighte, as fast as he could.
1038. ‘I ought to suppose, in accordance with reasonable opinion.’ Chaucer tells the story quite in his own way. There is no trace of ll. 1038–1042 in the French, and scarcely any of ll. 1048–1071, which is all in his own excellent strain.
1056.shet, shut, closed. Compare the description of Griselda in the Clerkes Tale, E. 1058–1061.
1058. Both twyes and owne are dissyllabic.
1060.all his halwes, all His saints. Hence the term All-hallow-mas, i. e. All Saints’ day.
1061.wisly, certainly. as have, I pray that he may have; see note to l. 859 above. ‘I pray He may so surely have mercy on my soul, as that I am as innocent of your suffering as Maurice my son is like you in the face.’
1078. After this line, the French text tells us that King Ælla presented himself before Pope Pelagius, who absolved him for the death of his mother. Pelagius II. was pope in 578–90.
1086. Here again, Tyrwhitt supposes Chaucer to follow Gower. But, in fact, Chaucer and Gower both consulted Trivet, who says here—‘Constaunce charga son fitz Morice del messager [or message] . . . . Et puis, quant Morice estoit deuaunt lempereur venuz, oue la compaignie honurable, et auoit son message fest de part le Roi son pere,’ &c.; i. e. ‘Constance charged her son Maurice with the message . . . . and then, when Maurice was come before the emperor, with the honourable company, and had done his message on behalf of the king his father,’ &c. Or, as before, Gower may have copied Chaucer.
1090.As he; used much as we should now use ‘as one.’ It refers to the Emperor, of course.
1091.Sente, elliptical for ‘as that he would send.’ Tyrwhitt reads send; but it is best to leave an expression like this as it stands in the MSS. It was probably a colloquial idiom; and, in the next line, we have wente. Observe that sente is in the subjunctive mood, and is equivalent to ‘he would send.’
1107. Chaucer so frequently varies the length and accent of a proper name that there is no objection to the supposition that we are here to read Cústancë in three syllables, with an accent on the first syllable. In exactly the same way, we find Grísildis in three syllables (E. 948), though in most other passages it is Grisíld. We have had Cústance, accented on the first syllable, several times; see ll. 438, 556, 566, 576, &c.; also Custáncë, three syllables, ll. 184, 274, 319, 612, &c. Tyrwhitt inserts a second your before Custance, but without authority.
1109.It am I; it is I. It is the usual idiom. So in the A. S. version of St. John vi. 20, we find ‘ic hyt com,’ i. e. I it am, and in a Dutch New Testament, 1700, I find ‘Ick ben ’t,’ i.e. I am it. The Mœso-Gothic version omits it, having simply ‘Ik im’; so does Wyclif’s, which has ‘I am.’ Tyndale, 1526, has ‘it ys I.’
1113.thonketh, pronounced thonk’th; so also eyl’th, B. 1171, Abyd’th, B. 1175. So also tak’th, l. 1142 below. of, for. So in Chaucer’s Balade of Truth, l. 19, we have ‘thank God of al,’ i. e. for all things. See my notes to Chaucer’s Minor Poems, vol. i. p. 552.
1123. The French text tells us that he was named Maurice of Cappadocia, and was also known, in Latin, as Mauritius Christianissimus Imperator. Trivet tells us no more about him, except that he accounts for the title ‘of Cappadocia’ by saying that Arsemius (the senator who found Constance and Maurice and took care of them) was a Cappadocian. Gibbon says—‘The Emperor Maurice derived his origin from ancient Rome; but his immediate parents were settled at Arabissus in Cappadocia, and their singular felicity preserved them alive to behold and partake the fortune of their august son. . . . . Maurice ascended the throne at the mature age of 43 years; and he reigned above 20 years over the east and over himself.’—Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, cap. xlv. He was murdered, with all his seven children, by his successor, Phocas the Usurper; Nov. 27, 600. His accession was in 582.
1127. The statement ‘I bere it not in minde,’ i.e. I do not remember it, may be taken to mean that Chaucer could find nothing about Maurice in his French text beyond the epithet Christianissimus, which he has skilfully expanded into l. 1123. He vaguely refers us to ‘olde Romayn gestes,’ that is, to lives of the Roman emperors, for he can hardly mean the Gesta Romanorum in this instance. Gibbon refers us to Evagrius, lib. v. and lib. vi.; Theophylact Simocatta; Theophanes, Zonaras, and Cedrenus.
1132. In the margin of MSS. E. Hn. Cp. Pt. is written—‘A mane usque ad vesperam mutabitur tempus. Tenent tympanum et gaudent ad sonum organi,’ &c. See the next note.
1135. In the margin of MSS. E. Hn. Cp. Pt. is written—‘Quis vnquam vnicam diem totam duxit in sua dilectione [vel delectatione] iocundam? quem in aliqua parte diei reatus consciencie, vel impetus Ire, vel motus concupiscencie non turbauerit? quem liuor Inuidie, vel Ardor Auaricie, vel tumor superbie non vexauerit? quem aliqua iactura vel offensa, vel passio non commouerit,’ &c. Cp. Pt. insert inde before non turbauerit. This corresponds to nothing in the French text, but it is quoted from Pope Innocent’s treatise, De Contemptu Mundi, lib. i. c. 22; see note to B. 99 above. The extract in the note to l. 1132 occurs in the same chapter, but both clauses in it are borrowed; the former from Ecclus. xviii. 26, the latter from Job, xxi. 12.
1143.I gesse, I suppose. Chaucer somewhat alters the story. Trivet says that Ælla died at the end of nine months after this. Half-a-year after, Constance repairs to Rome. Thirteen days after her arrival, her father Tiberius dies. A year later, Constance herself dies, on St. Clement’s day (Nov. 23), 584, and is buried at Rome, near her father, in St. Peter’s Church. The date 584, here given by Trivet, should rather be 583; the death of Tiberius took place on Aug. 14, 582; see Gibbon.
The Shipman’s Prologue.
1165. The host here refers to the Man of Lawes Tale, which had just been told, and uses the expression ‘thrifty tale’ with reference to the same expression above, B. 46. Most MSS. separate this end-link widely from the Tale, but MS. Hl. and MS. Arch. Seld. B. 14 have it in the right place. See vol. iii. pp. 417–9.
for the nones, for the nonce, for the occasion; see note to the Prologue, A. 379. The A. S. ānes (=once) is an adverb with a genitive case-ending; and, being an adverb, becomes indeclinable, and can accordingly be used as a dative case after the preposition for, which properly governs the dative.
1166. The Host here turns to the Parson (see Prol. A. 477), and adjures him to tell a tale, according to the agreement.
1167.yore, put for of yore, formerly, already.—M.
1169.Can moche good, know (or are acquainted with) much good; i. e. with many good things, Cf. B. 47.
1170.Benedicite, bless ye; i. e. bless ye the Lord; the first word of the Song of the Three Children, and a more suitable exclamation than most of those in common use at the time. In the Knightes Tale, A. 1785, where Theseus is pondering over the strange event he had just witnessed, the word is pronounced in full, as five syllables. But in A. 2115, it is pronounced, as here, as a mere trisyllable. The syllables to be dropped are the second and third, so that we must say ben’cite. This is verified by a passage in the Townley Mysteries, p. 85, where it is actually spelt benste, and reduced to two syllables only. Cf. notes to B. 1974, and Troil. i. 780.
1171.man; dat. case after eyleth. Swearing is alluded to as a prevalent vice amongst Englishmen in Robert of Brunne, in the Persones Tale of Chaucer, and elsewhere.—M.
1172.O Iankin, &c.; ‘O Johnny, you are there, are you?’ That is, ‘so it is you whom I hear, is it, Mr. Johnny?’ A derisive interruption. It was common to call a priest Sir John, by way of mild derision; see Monkes Prol. (B. 3119) and Nonne Prestes Prol. (B. 4000). The Host carries the derision a little further by using the diminutive form. See note to B. 4000.
1173.a loller, a term of reproach, equivalent to a canting fellow. Tyrwhitt aptly cites a passage from a treatise of the period, referring to the Harleian Catalogue, no. 1666:—‘Now in Engelond it is a comun protectioun ayens persecutioun, if a man is customable to swere nedeles and fals and unavised, by the bones, nailes, and sides, and other membres of Christ. And to absteyne fro othes nedeles and unleful, and repreve sinne by way of charite, is mater and cause now, why Prelates and sum Lordes sclaundren men, and clepen hem Lollardes, Eretikes,’ &c.
The reader will not clearly understand this word till he distinguishes between the Latin lollardus and the English loller, two words of different origin which were purposely confounded in the time of Wyclif. The Latin Lollardus had been in use before Wyclif. Ducange quotes from Johannes Hocsemius, who says, under the date 1309—‘Eodem anno quidam hypocritae gyrovagi, qui Lollardi, sive Deum laudantes, vocabantur, per Hannoniam et Brabantiam quasdam mulieres nobiles deceperunt.’ He adds that Trithemius says in his Chronicle, under the year 1315—‘ita appellatos a Gualtero Lolhard, Germano quodam.’ Kilian, in his Dictionary of Mid. Dutch, says—‘Lollaerd, mussitator, mussitabundus’; i. e. a mumbler of prayers. This gives two etymologies for Lollardus. Being thus already in use as a term of reproach, it was applied to the followers of Wyclif, as we learn from Thomas Walsingham, who says, under the year 1377—‘Hi uocabantur a uulgo Lollardi, incedentes nudis pedibus’; and again—‘Lollardi sequaces Joannis Wiclif.’ But the Old English loller (from the verb to loll) meant simply a lounger, an idle vagabond, as is abundantly clear from a notable passage in Piers the Plowman, C-text (ed. Skeat), x. 188–218; where William tells us plainly—
Here were already two (if not three) words confused, but this was not all. By a bad pun, the Latin lolium, tares, was connected with Lollard, so that we find in Political Poems, i. 232, the following—
This obviously led to allusions to the Parable of the Tares, and fully accounts for the punning allusion to cockle, i. e. tares, in l. 1183. Mr. Jephson observes that lolium is used in the Vulgate Version, Matt. xii. 25; but this is a mistake, as the word there used is zizania. Gower, Prol. to Conf. Amant., ed. Pauli, i. 15, speaks of—
Also in book v., id. ii. 187,—
See Mosheim, Eccl. Hist. iii. 355–358; Wordsworth’s Eccl. Biography, i. 331, note.
1180. ‘He shall not give us any commentary on a gospel.’ To glose is to comment upon, with occasional free introduction of irrelevant matter. The gospel is the text, or portion of the Gospel commented upon.
1181. ‘We all agree in the one fundamental article of faith’; by which he insinuates—‘and let that suffice; we want no theological subtilties discussed here.’
1183.springen, scatter, sprink-le. The pt. t. is spreynde or spreynte; the pp. spreynd occurs in B. 422, 1830.—M. Gower, Conf. Amantis, bk. v., ed. Pauli, ii. 190, speaks of lollardie
1185.body, i. e. self. Cf. lyf=a person, in P. Plowman, B. iii. 292.—M.
1186. See B. 3984, which suggests that there is a play upon words here. The Shipman will make his horse’s bells ring loudly enough to awake them all; or he will ring so merry a peal, as to rouse them like a church bell that awakes a sleeper.
1189. It is plain that the unmeaning words phislyas and phillyas, as in the MSS., must be corruptions of some difficult form. I think that form is certainly physices, with reference to the Physics of Aristotle, here conjoined with ‘philosophy’ and ‘law’ in order to include the chief forms of medieval learning. Aristotle was only known, in Chaucer’s time, in Latin translations, and Physices Liber would be a possible title for such a translation. Lewis and Short’s Lat. Dict. gives ‘physica, gen. physicae, and physice, gen. physices, f.,=ϕυσική, natural science, natural philosophy, physics, Cicero, Academ. 1. 7. 25; id. De Finibus, 3. 21. 72; 3. 22. 73.’ Magister Artium et Physices was the name of a degree; see Longfellow’s Golden Legend, § vi.
That Chaucer should use the gen. physices alone, is just in his usual manner; cf. Iudicum, B. 3236; Eneidos, B. 4549; Metamorphoseos, B. 93. Tyrwhitt’s reading of physike gives the same sense.
The Shipmannes Tale.
This Tale agrees rather closely with one in Boccaccio’s Decamerone, Day viii. nov. 1. See further in vol. iii. p. 420.
1191.Seint Denys, Saint Denis, in the environs of Paris. Cf. ll. 1247, 1249, and note to 1341.
1202.us, i. e. us women. This is clear proof that some of the opening lines of this Tale were not originally intended for the Shipman, but for the Wife of Bath, as she is the only lady in the company to whom they would be suitable. We may remember that Chaucer originally meant to make each pilgrim tell four Tales; so there is nothing surprising in the fact that he once thought of giving this to the Wife. This passage is parallel to D. 337–339.
1209.perilous. Cf. D. 339: ‘it is peril of our chastitee.’
1228. Referring to the common proverb—‘As fain as a fowl [bird] of a fair day’; cf. l. 1241 below, A. 2437, G. 1342.
1233.Daun, Dan, for Lat. Dominus, corresponding to E. sir, as in ‘Sir John,’ a common title for a priest. Cf. B. 3119.
1244.Shoop him, lit. shaped himself, set about, got ready. Cf. P. Plowman, C. i. 2, xiv. 247, and the notes.
1245.Brugges, Bruges; which, as Wright remarks, was ‘the grand central mart of European commerce in the middle ages.’ Cf. P. Plowman, C. vii. 278, and the note.
1256.graunges, granges; cf. notes to A. 3668, and A. 166.
1260.Malvesye, Malmsey; so named from Malvasia, now Napoli di Malvasia, a town on the E. coast of Lacedaemonia in the Morea. See note in the Babees Book, ed. Furnivall, p. 206, where Malvasia is explained as the Ital. corruption of Monemvasia, from Gk. μόνη ἐμβασία, single entrance; with reference to its position.
1261.Vernage. In the Babees Book, ed. Furnivall, p. 203, vernage is said to be a red wine, bright, sweet, and somewhat rough, from Tuscany and Genoa, and other parts of Italy. The Ital. name is vernaccia, lit. the name of a thick-skinned grape. The information in this note and the preceding one is drawn from Henderson’s History of Ancient and Modern Wines, 1824: which see.
1262.volatyl, wild fowl, game; here used as a collective plural, to represent Lat. uolatilia. Littré quotes: ‘Tant ot les volatiles chieres’; Roman de la Rose, 20365. Wyclif has al volatile to translate cunctumuolatile, Gen. vii. 14; also my volatilis in Matt. xxii. 4, where the Vulgate has altilia. Cf. F. volaille.
1278.passed pryme, past 9 a.m. See notes to A. 3906, F. 73; and cf. B. 1396.
1281.his thinges, the things he had to say; cf. F. 78. It ‘means the divine office in the Breviary, i.e. the psalms and lessons from scripture which, being absent from the convent, he was bound to say privately’; Bell. curteisly, reverently. See note to l. 1321 below.
1287.under the yerde, still subject to the discipline of the rod. As girls were married at a very early age, this should mean ‘still quite a child.’ Cf. as hir list in l. 1286. And see E. 22. See Ælfric’s Colloquy (Wright’s Vocab. ed. Wülker, p. 102), where the boy says he is still sub uirga, on which the A. S. gloss is under gyrda. F. sous la verge (Littré).
1292.appalled, enfeebled, languid; see F. 365.
1293.dare, lie motionless. This is the original sense of the word, as in E. Friesic bedaren. So also Low G. bedaren, to be still and quiet; as in dat weer bedaart, the weather becomes settled; een bedaart mann, a man who has lost the fire of youth. Du. bedaren, to compose, to calm. The rather common M. E. phrase to droupe and dare means ‘to sink down and lie quiet,’ like a hunted animal in hiding; hence came the secondary sense ‘to lurk’ or ‘lie close,’ as in the Prompt. Parv. Cotgrave has F. blotir, ‘to squat, skowke, or lie close to the ground, like a daring lark or affrighted foul.’ Hence also a third sense, ‘to peer round,’ as a lurking creature that looks out for possible danger. The word is common in M. E., and in many passages the sense ‘to lie still’ suits better than ‘lurk,’ as it is usually explained.
1295.Were, ‘which might be,’ ‘which should happen to be’; the relative is understood. forstraught, distracted. Such is evidently the sense; but the word occurs nowhere else, and is incorrect. As far as I can make it out, Chaucer has coined this word incorrectly. The right word is destrat (vol. ii. p. 67, l. 1), from O. F. destrait, pp. of destraire, to tear asunder (as by horses), to torment, fatigue (Godefroy). Next, he turned it (1) into forstrait, pp. of forstraire (fortraire in Cotgrave), to purloin; and (2) into forstraught, as if it were the pp. of an A. S. *for-streccan, to stretch exceedingly. Thus, he has made one change by altering the prefix, and another by misdividing the word and substituting English for French. A similar mistake is seen in the absurd form distraught, used for ‘distracted,’ though it is, formally, equivalent to dis-straught, as if made up of the prefix dis- and the pp. of strecchen, to stretch. An early instance occurs in Lydgate’s Minor Poems, ed. Halliwell, p. 206, where we find ‘Distrauhte in thouhte,’ i.e. distracted in thought, mad. There is much confusion between the E. prefixes for-, fore-, and the F. fors-, for-. Chaucer has straughte (correctly), as the pt. t. of strecchen, in A. 2916.
1298. Accent labóured on the second syllable.
1303. ‘God knows all’; implying, ‘I can contradict you, if I choose to speak.’
1321.port-hors, for porte-hors, lit. ‘carry-abroad,’ the F. equivalent of Lat. portiforium, a breviary. Also spelt portous, portess, &c. ‘The Portous, or Breviary, contained whatever was to be said by all beneficed clerks, and those in holy orders, either in choir, or privately by themselves, as they recited their daily canonical hours; no musical notation was put into these books.’—Rock, Church of our Fathers, v. iii. pt. 2, p. 212. Dan John had just been saying ‘his things’ out of it (l. 1281). The music was omitted to save space. See P. Plowman, B. xv. 122, and my note on the line.
1327.for to goon, i. e. even though going to hell were the penalty of my keeping secret what you tell me.
1329. ‘This I do, not for kinship, but out of true love.’
1335.a legende, a story of martyrdom, like that of a saint’s life.
1338. St. Martin of Tours, whose day is Nov. 11.
1341. St. Denis of France, St. Dionysius, bishop of Paris, martyred 272, whose day is Oct. 9. Near his place of martyrdom was built a chapel, which was first succeeded by a church, and then by the famous abbey of St. Denis, in which King Dagobert and his successors were interred. The French adopted St. Denis as their patron saint; see Chambers, Book of Days, ii. 427; Alban Butler, Lives of the Saints, Oct. 9.
1353.sit, is becoming, befits; see E. 460, 1277.
1384.Geniloun, Genilon or Ganelon, the traitor who betrayed Charlemagne’s army at Roncesvalles. For this deed he was torn to death by wild horses, according to the romance-writers. See La Chanson de Roland, l. 3735. Cf. note to B. 3579, and Book of the Duchesse, 1121, and my note upon it.
1396.chilindre, a kind of portable sun-dial, lit. cylinder. A thirteenth-century Latin treatise on the use of the chilindre was edited by Mr. E. Brock for the Chaucer Society, and I here copy his clear description of the instrument. ‘The Chilindre (cylindrus) or cylinder is one of the manifold forms of the sun-dial, very simple in its construction, but rude and inaccurate as a time-shower. According to the following treatise, it consists of a wooden cylinder, with a central bore from top to bottom, and with a hollow space in the top, into which a moveable rotary lid with a little knob at the top is fitted. This lid is also bored in the centre, and a string passed through the whole instrument. Upon this string the chilindre hangs [perpendicularly] when in use. The style or gnomon works on a pin fixed in the lid. When the instrument is in use, the style projects at a right angle to the surface of the cylindrical body, through a notch in the side of the lid, but can, at pleasure, be turned down and slipt into the central bore, which is made a little wider at the top to receive it. The body of the chilindre is marked with a table of the points of the shadow, a table of degrees for finding the sun’s altitude, and spaces corresponding to the months of the year and the signs of the zodiac. Across these spaces are drawn six oblique hour-lines.
‘To ascertain the time of day by the chilindre, consider what month it is, and turn the lid round till the style stands directly over the corresponding part of the chilindre; then hold up the instrument by the string so that the style points towards the sun, or in other words, so that the shadow of the style falls perpendicularly, and the hour will be shewn by the lowest line reached by the shadow.’
Another treatise of the same character was subsequently edited by Mr. Brock for the same Society. It is entitled ‘Practica Chilindri; or the Working of the Cylinder; by John Hoveden.’
There is a curious reference to the same instrument in the following passage from Horman’s Vulgaria, leaf 338, back:—‘There be iorneyringis [day-circles, dials] and instrumentis lyke an hangynge pyler with a tunge lyllyng [lolling] out, to knowe what tyme of the day.’
In Wright’s Vocabularies, ed. Wülker, 572. 22, we find: ‘Chilindrus, anglice a leuel; uel est instrumentum quo hore notantur, anglice a chylaundre.’ It thus appears that the reading kalendar, in the old editions, is due to a mistake.
The most interesting comment on this passage is afforded by the opening lines of the Prologue to Part II. of Lydgate’s Siege of Thebes, where Lydgate is clearly thinking of Chaucer’s words. Here also the black-letter edition of 1561 has Kalendar, but the reading of MS. Arundel 119 (leaf 18) is more correct, as follows:—
pryme of day, 9 a.m., in the present passage; see above, and note the preparations for dinner in ll. 1399–1401; the dinner-hour being 10 a.m. See also note to A. 3906. ‘Our forefathers dined at an hour at which we think it fashionable to breakfast; ten o’clock was the time established by ancient usage for the principal meal’; Our Eng. Home, p. 33. In earlier times it was nine o’clock; see Wright, Hist. of Domestic Manners, p. 155.
1399. ‘As cheery as a magpie.’
1404.Qui la? who’s there. All the MSS. agree in thus cutting down the expression qui est la to two words; and this abbreviation is emphasised by the English gloss ‘Who ther’ in E. and Hn.; Cm. has Who there, without any French. It is clear, too, that the line is imperfect at the caesura, thus:—
Qui la? | quod he. | — Pe | ter it | am I ∥
This medial pause is probably intentional, to mark the difference between the speakers. Ed. 1532 (which Tyrwhitt follows) has Qui est la, in order to fill out the line. Wright has the same; and (as usual) suppresses the fact that the word est is not in the MS. which he follows ‘with literal accuracy.’
Peter! by Saint Peter! a too common exclamation, shewing that even women used to swear. It occurs again in D. 446, 1332, and Hous of Fame, 1034, 2000.
1412.elenge, pronounced (eeléngga), in a dreary, tedious, lonely manner; drearily. From A. S. ǣlenge, lengthy, protracted; a derivative from lang, long; see P. Plowman, C. i. 204, and the note. In Pegge’s Kenticisms (E. D. S. Gloss. C. 3), we have: ‘Ellinge [pronounced éllinj], adj. solitary, lonely, melancholy, farre from neighbours. See Ray.’ It is also still in use in Sussex. The usual derivation from A.S. ellende, foreign, is incorrect; but it seems to have been confused with this word, whence the sense of ‘strange, foreign,’ was imported into it. See Alange in the New E. Dictionary.
1413.go we dyne, let us go and dine; as in P. Plowman, C. i. 227.
1417.Seint Yve. ‘St. Ivia, or Ivo,’ says Alban Butler, ‘was a Persian bishop, who preached in England in the seventh century.’ He died at St. Ive’s in Huntingdonshire. A church was also built in his honour at St. Ive’s in Cornwall. His day is April 25. This line is repeated in D. 1943. Cf. A. 4264.
1421.dryve forth, spend our time in; cf. P. Plowman, C. i. 225.
1423.pleye, ‘take some relaxation by going on a pilgrimage’; clearly shewing the chief object of pilgrimages. Cf. D. 557. The line also indicates that it was a practice, when men could no longer make a show in the world, to go on a pilgrimage, or ‘go out of the way’ somewhere, to avoid creditors.
1436.houshold. So in E. Hn. Cm.; Cp. Pt. Ln. Hl. T. have housbonde, housbond, but the application of this word to a housewife is not happy.
1441.messe, mass; it seems to have been said, on this occasion, about 9.30 a.m. It did not take long; cf. l. 1413.
1445.At-after, soon after. This curious form is still in use; see the Cleveland Glossary. So in the Whitby Glossary:—‘All things in order; ploughing first, sowing at-after.’ Cf. ‘at-after supper,’ Rich. III. iv. 3. 31; and see At, § 40, in the New E. Dict. We find also at-under and at-before. It occurs again in F. 1219.
1466.a myle-wey, even by twenty minutes (the time taken to walk a mile).
1470.Graunt mercy of, many thanks for.
1476. ‘God defend (forbid) that ye should spare.’
1484.took, handed over, delivered; see note to P. Plowman, C. iv. 47. And see l. 1594 below.
1496.let, leadeth, leads; note the various readings. Cf. ‘Thet is the peth of pouerte huerby let the holy gost tho thet,’ &c.; i.e. that is the path of poverty whereby the Holy Ghost leads those that, &c.—Ayenbite of Inwyt, p. 185; and so again in the same, p. 115, l. 9, and p. 51, l. 13. In P. Plowman, B. iii. 157, the Rawlinson MS. has let instead of ledeth.
1499.crowne; alluding to the priestly tonsure. See note to P. Plowman, C. i. 86.
1506. For bolt-upright, see note to A. 4194. This line is defective in the first foot; read—Hav’ | hir in | his, &c. Tyrwhitt reads Haven, but admits, in the notes, that the final n came out of his own head.
1515.the faire, the fair at Bruges. On fairs, see the note to P. Plowman, C. vii. 211.
1519.chevisaunce, a contract for borrowing money on his credit; see A. 282, and note to P. Plowman, B. v. 249. For the purpose of making such a contract, a proportional sum had to be paid down in ready money; see note to l. 1524.
1524. ‘A certain (number of) franks; and some (franks) he took with him.’ The latter sum refers to the money he had to pay down in order to get the chevisance made. See note to Wyclif’s Works, ed. Matthew, p. 528. And see l. 1558.
1542. Here sheeld is used as a plural, by analogy with pund, i.e. pounds. A sheeld was a French écu, or crown; see A. 278.
1557.Lumbardes, Lombards, the great money-lenders and bankers of the middle ages. Cf. ‘Lumbardes of Lukes, that lyuen by lone as lewes,’ Lombards from Lucca, that live by lending, as Jews do; P. Plowman, C. v. 194. Owing to the accent, Lumbard’s is dissyllabic.
1558.bond is misprinted hond in Wright’s edition; MS. Hl. has bond, correctly, though the note in Bell says otherwise.
1592.Marie, by St. Mary; the familiar ‘Marry!’ as used by our dramatists.
1595.yvel thedom, ill success. Cf. ‘Now, sere, evyl thedom com to thi snoute’; Coventry Mysteries, p. 139. This is printed by Halliwell in the form—‘Now, sere evyl Thedom, com to thi snoute,’ i.e. ‘now, sir Ill Success, come to thy snout’; but how a man can come to his own nose, we are not told.
1599.bele chere, fair entertainment, hospitality. Bele=mod. F. belle.
1606. ‘Score it upon my tally,’ make a note of it. See A. 570, and note to P. Plowman, C. v. 61.
1613.to wedde, as a pledge (common). Cf. A. 1218.
1621.large, liberal; hence E. largesse, liberality.
The Prioress’s Prologue.
1625.corpus dominus; of course for corpus domini, the Lord’s body. But it is unnecessary to correct the Host’s Latin.
1626. ‘Now long mayest thou sail along the coast!’
1627.marineer, Fr. marinier; we now use the ending -er; but modern words of French origin shew their lateness by the accent on the last syllable, as engineer.—M. The Fr. pionnier is pioner in Shakespeare, but is now pioneer.
1628. ‘God give this monk a thousand cart-loads of bad years!’ He alludes to the deceitful monk described in the Shipman’s Tale. A last is a very heavy load. In a Statute of 31 Edw. I. a weight is declared to be 14 stone; 2 weights of wool are to make a sack; and 12 sacks a last. This makes a last of wool to be 336 stone, or 42 cwt. But the dictionaries shew that the weight was very variable, according to the substance weighed. The word means simply a heavy burden, from A. S. hlæst, a burden, connected with hladan, to load; so that last and load are alike in sense. Laste, in the sense of heavy weight, occurs in Richard the Redeles, ed. Skeat, iv. 74. Quad is the Old English equivalent of the Dutch kwaad, bad, a word in very common use. In O. E., þe qued means the evil one, the devil; P. Pl. B. xiv. 189. Cf. note to A. 4357. The omission of the word of before quad may be illustrated by the expression ‘four score years,’ i.e. of years.
1630. ‘The monk put an ape in the man’s hood, and in his wife’s too.’ We should now say, he made him look like an ape. The contents of the hood would be, properly, the man’s head and face; but neighbours seemed to see peeping from it an ape rather than a man. It is a way of saying that he made a dupe of him. In the Milleres Tale (A. 3389), a girl is said to have made her lover an ape, i.e. a dupe; an expression which recurs in the Chanones Yemannes Tale, G. 1313. Spenser probably borrowed the expression from this very passage; it occurs in his Faerie Queene, iii. 9. 31:—
1632. ‘Never entertain monks any more.’
1637. See the description of the Prioress in the Prologue, A. 118.
The Prioresses Tale.
For general remarks upon this Tale, see vol. iii. p. 421.
1643. Cf. Ps. viii. 1-2. The Vulgate version has—‘Domine Dominus noster, quam admirabile est nomen tuum in uniuersa terra! Quoniam eleuata est magnificentia tua super caelos! Ex ore infantium et lactentium perfecisti laudem,’ &c.
1650.can or may, know how to, or have ability to do.
1651. The ‘white lily’ was the token of Mary’s perpetual virginity. See this explained at length in Rock, Church of our Fathers, iii. 245.
1655. ‘For she herself is honour, and, next after her Son, the root of bounty, and the help (or profit) of souls.’
1658. Cf. Chaucer’s A. B. C., or Hymn to the Virgin, (Minor Poems, vol. i. p. 266), where we find under the heading M—
So also in st. 2 of an Alliterative Hymn in Warton, Hist. Eng. Poetry, ed. Hazlitt, ii. 284.
1659. ‘That, through thy humility, didst draw down from the Deity the Spirit that alighted in thee.’
1660.thalighte=thee alighte, the two words being run into one. Such agglutination is more common when the def. art. occurs, or with the word to; cf. Texpounden in B. 1716.
1661.lighte may mean either (1) cheered, lightened; or (2) illuminated. Tyrwhitt and Richardson both take the latter view; but the following passage, in which hertes occurs, makes the former the more probable:—
1664. Partly imitated from Dante, Paradiso, xxxiii. 16:—
1668.goost biforn, goest before, dost anticipate. of, by. The eighth stanza of the Seconde Nonnes Tale (G. 50–56) closely resembles ll. 1664–70; being imitated from the same passage in Dante.
1677.Gydeth, guide ye. The plural number is used, as a token of respect, in addressing superiors. By a careful analysis of the words thou and ye in the Romance of William of Palerne, I deduced the following results, which are generally true in Mid. English. ‘Thou is the language of a lord to a servant, of an equal to an equal, and expresses also companionship, love, permission, defiance, scorn, threatening: whilst ye is the language of a servant to a lord, and of compliment, and further expresses honour, submission, or entreaty. Thou is used with singular verbs, and the possessive pronoun thine; but ye requires plural verbs, and the possessive your.’—Pref. to Will. of Palerne, ed. Skeat, p. xlii. Cf. Abbott’s Shakespearian Grammar, sect. 231.
1678.Asie, Asia; probably used, as Tyrwhitt suggests, in the sense of Asia Minor, as in the Acts of the Apostles.
1679.a Iewerye, a Jewry, i. e. a Jews’ quarter. In many towns there was formerly a Jews’ quarter, distinguished by a special name. There is still an Old Jewry in London. In John vii. 1 the word is used as equivalent to Judea, as also in other passages in the Bible and in Shakesp. Rich. II, ii. 1. 55. Chaucer (House of Fame, 1435) says of Josephus—
Thackeray uses the word with an odd effect in his Ballad of ‘The White Squall.’ See also note to B. 1749.
1681.vilanye. So the six MSS.; Hl. has felonye, wrongly. In the margin of the Ellesmere MS. is written ‘turpe lucrum,’ i. e. vile gain, which is evidently the sense intended by lucre of vilanye, here put for villanous lucre or filthy lucre, by poetical freedom of diction. See Chaucer’s use of vilanye in the Prologue, A. 70 and A. 726.
1684.free, unobstructed. People could ride and walk through, there being no barriers against horses, and no termination in a cul de sac. Cf. Troilus, ii. 616–8.
1687.Children an heep, a heap or great number of children. Of is omitted before children as it is before quad yere in B. 1628. For heep, see Prologue, A. 575.
1689.maner doctrine, kind of learning, i. e. reading and singing, as explained below. Here again of is omitted, as is usual in M.E. after the word maner; as—‘In another maner name,’ Rob. of Glouc. vol. i. p. 147; ‘with somme manere crafte,’ P. Plowman, B. v. 25: ‘no maner wight,’ Ch. Prol. A. 71; &c. See Mätzner, Englische Grammatik, ii. 2. 313. men used, people used; equivalent to was used. Note this use of men in the same sense as the French on, or German man. This is an excellent instance, as the poet does not refer to men at all, but to children. Moreover, men (spelt me in note to B. 1702) is an attenuated form of the sing. man, and not the usual plural.
1693.clergeon, not ‘a young clerk’ merely, as Tyrwhitt says, but a happily chosen word implying that he was a chorister as well. Ducange gives—‘Clergonus, junior clericus, vel puer choralis; jeune clerc, petit clerc ou enfant de chœur’; see Migne’s edition. And Cotgrave has—‘Clergeon, a singing man, or Quirester in a Queer [choir].’ It means therefore ‘a chorister-boy.’ Cf. Span. clerizon, a chorister, singing-boy; see New E. Dict.
1694.That, as for whom. A London street-boy would say—‘which he was used to go to school.’ That . . . his=whose.
1695.wher-as, where that, where. So in Shakespeare, 2 Hen. VI. i. 2. 58; Spenser, F. Q. i. 4. 38. See Abbott’s Shakesp. Grammar, sect. 135. thimage, the image; alluding to an image of the Virgin placed by the wayside, as is so commonly seen on the continent.
1698.Ave Marie; so in Spenser, F. Q. i. 1. 35. The words were—‘Aue Maria, gratia plena; Dominus tecum; benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus uentris tui. Amen.’ See the English version in Specimens of Early English, ed. Morris and Skeat, p. 106. It was made up from Luke i. 28 and i. 42. Sometimes the word Jesus was added after tui, and, at a later period, an additional clause—‘Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.’ See Rock, Church of our Fathers, iii. 315; and iii. pt. 2, 134.
1702. ‘For a good child will always learn quickly.’ This was a proverbial expression, and may be found in the Proverbs of Hending, st. 9:—
1704.stant, stands, is. Tyrwhitt says—‘we have an account of the very early piety of this Saint in his lesson; Breviarium Romanum, vi. Decemb.—Cuius uiri sanctitas quanta futura esset, iam ab incunabulis apparuit. Nam infans, cum reliquas dies lac nutricis frequens sugeret, quarta et sexta feria (i. e. on Wednesdays and Fridays) semel duntaxat, idque uesperi, sugebat.’ Besides, St. Nicholas was the patron of schoolboys, and the festival of the ‘boy-bishop’ was often held on his day (Dec. 6); Rock, Church of our Fathers, iii. 2. 215.
1708.Alma redemptoris mater. There is more than one hymn with this beginning, but the one meant is perhaps one of five stanzas printed in Hymni Latini Medii Ævi, ed. F. J. Mone, vol. ii. p. 200, from a St. Gallen MS. no. 452, p. 141, of the thirteenth century. The first and last stanzas were sung in the Marian Antiphon, from the Saturday evening before the 1st Sunday in Advent to Candlemas day. In l. 4 we have the salutation which Chaucer mentions (l. 1723), and in the last stanza is the prayer (l. 1724). These two stanzas are as follows:—
There is another anthem that would suit almost equally well, but hardly comes so near to Chaucer’s description. It occurs in the Roman Breviary, ed. 1583, p. 112, and was said at compline from Advent eve to Candlemas day, like the other; cf. l. 1730. The words are:—
In the Myrour of Our Lady, ed. Blunt, p. 174, an English translation of the latter anthem is given, with the heading ‘Alma redemptoris mater.’
1709.antiphoner, anthem-book. ‘The Antiphoner, or Lyggar, was always a large codex, having in it not merely the words, but the music and the tones, for all the invitatories, the hymns, responses, versicles, collects, and little chapters, besides whatever else belonged to the solemn chanting of masses and lauds, as well as the smaller canonical hours’; Rock, Church of our Fathers, v. 3, pt. 2, p. 212.
1710.ner and ner, nearer and nearer. The phrase come neor and neor (=come nearer and nearer) occurs in King Alisaunder, in Weber’s Metrical Romances, l. 599.
1713.was to seye, was to mean, meant. To seye is the gerundial or dative infinitive; see Morris, Hist. Outlines of English Accidence, sect. 290.
1716.Texpounden, to expound. So also tallege=to allege, Kn. Ta., A. 3000 (Harl. MS.); tespye=to espy, Nonne Pr. Ta., B. 4478. See note to l. 1733.
1726.can but smal, know but little. Cf. ‘the compiler is smal learned’; Old Plays, ed. Hazlitt, i. 10.—M. Cf. coude=knew, in l. 1735.
1733.To honoure; this must be read tonóure, like texpounden in l. 1716.
1739.To scholeward; cf. From Bordeaux ward in the Prologue, A. 397.—M.
1749. The feeling against Jews seems to have been very bitter, and there are numerous illustrations of this. In Gower’s Conf. Amant. bk. vii, ed. Pauli, iii. 194, a Jew is represented as saying—
In Piers the Plowman, B. xviii. 104, Faith reproves the Jews, and says to them—
See also P. Pl., C. v. 194. Usury was forbidden by the canon law, and those who practised it, chiefly Jews and Lombards, were held to be grievous sinners. Hence the character of Shylock, and of Marlowe’s Jew of Malta. Cf. note on the Jews in England in the Annals of England, p. 162.
1751.honest, honourable; as in the Bible, Rom. xii. 17, &c.
1752.swich, such. The sense here bears out the formation of the word from so-like.—M.
1753.your, of you. Shakespeare has ‘in your despite,’ Cymb. i. 6. 135; ‘in thy despite,’ 1 Hen. VI, iv. 7. 22. Despite is used, like the Early and Middle English maugre, with a genitive; as maugre þin, in spite of thee, in Havelok, ll. 1128, 1789.—M.
1754. ‘Which is against the respect due to your law.’ Cf. ‘spretaeque iniuria formae’; Æneid, i. 27.
1762.Wardrobe, privy. Godefroy’s O. F. Dict. shews that garderobe meant not only a wardrobe, or place for keeping robes, &c., but also any small chamber; hence the sense. See Cotgrave.
1764. ‘O accursed folk (composed) of Herods wholly new.’
1766. ‘Murder will out’; a proverb; see B. 4242.
1769.Souded to, confirmed in. From O. F. souder, Lat. solidare, whence E. solder. Wyclif’s later version has—‘hise leggis and hise feet weren sowdid togidere’; Acts, iii. 7. The reference in ll. 1770–5 is to Rev. xiv. 3, 4.
1793.Iesu. This word is written ‘Ihu’ in E. Hn. Cm.; and ‘ihc’ in Cp. Pt. Ln.; in both cases there is a stroke through the h. This is frequently printed Ihesu, but the retention of h is unnecessary. It is not really an h at all, but the Greek H, meaning long e (ē). So, also, in ‘ihc,’ the c is not the Latin c, but the Gk. c, meaning Σ or s; and ihc are the first three letters of the word ΙΗΣΟΥΣ = ιησους = iesus. Iesu, as well as Iesus, was used as a nominative, though really the genitive or vocative case. At a later period, ihs (still with a stroke through the h) was written for ihc as a contraction of iesus. By an odd error, a new meaning was invented for these letters, and common belief treated them as the initials of three Latin words, viz. Iesus Hominum Salvator. But as the stroke through the h or mark of contraction still remained unaccounted for, it was turned into a cross! Hence the common symbol I.H.S. with the small cross in the upper part of the middle letter. The wrong interpretation is still the favourite one, all errors being long-lived. Another common contraction is Xpc., where all the letters are Greek. The x is ch (χ), the p is r (ρ), and c is s, so that Xpc = chrs, the contraction for christus or Christ. This is less common in decoration, and no false interpretation has been found for it.
1794.inwith, within. This form occurs in E. Hn. Pt. Ln.; the rest have within. Again, in the Merchant’s Tale (E. 1944), MSS. E. Hn. Cm. Hl. have the form inwith. It occurs in the legend of St. Katharine, ed. Morton, l. 172; in Sir Perceval (Thornton Romances), l. 611; in Alliterative Poems, ed. Morris, A. 970; and in Palladius on Husbandry, ed. Lodge, iii. 404. Dr. Morris says it was (like utwith = without) originally peculiar to the Northern dialect. See the Glossary, and the note to l. 2159 below (p. 202).
1805.coomen; so in E. Hn.; comen in Pt. Cp. But it is the past tense = came. The spelling comen for the past tense plural is very common in Early English, and we even find com in the singular. Thus, in l. 1807, the Petworth MS. has ‘He come,’ equivalent to ‘coom,’ the o being long. But herieth in l. 1808 is a present tense.
1814.nexte, nighest, as in Kn. Ta. A. 1413. So also hext = highest, as in the Old Eng. proverb—‘When bale is hext, then bote is next,’ i.e. ‘when woe is highest, help is nighest.’ Next is for neh-est, and hext is for heh-est.
1817.newe Rachel, second Rachel, as we should now say; referring to Matt. ii. 18.
1819.dooth for to sterve, causes to die. So also in l. 1823, dide hem drawe = caused them to be drawn.
1822. Evidently a proverb; compare Boeth. bk. iv. pr. 1. 37–40 (vol. ii. p. 93); and note to P. Plowman, C. v. 140.
1826. The body occupied the place of honour. ‘The bier, if the deceased had been a clerk, went into the chancel; if a layman, and not of high degree, the bearers set it down in the nave, hard by the church-door’; Rock, Ch. of our Fathers, ii. 472. He cites the Sarum Manual, fol. c.
1827.the abbot; pronounced thabbòt. covent, convent; here used for the monks who composed the body over which the abbot presided. So in Shakespeare, Hen. VIII, iv. 2. 18—‘where the reverend abbot, With all his covent, honourably received him.’ The form covent is Old French, still preserved in Covent Garden.
1835.halse; two MSS. consulted by Tyrwhitt read conjure, a mere gloss, caught from the line above. Other examples of halse in the sense of conjure occur. ‘Ich halsi þe o godes nome’ = I conjure thee in God’s name; St. Marherete, ed. Cockayne, p. 17. Again, in Joseph of Arimathie, ed. Skeat, l. 400—
‘Vppon þe heiȝe trinite · I halse þe to telle’—
which closely resembles the present passage.
1838.to my seminge, i.e. as it appears to me.
1840. ‘And, in the ordinary course of nature.’
1843.Wil, wills, desires. So in Matt. ix. 13, I will have mercy = I require mercy; Gk. ἔλεον θέλω; Vulgate, misericordiam uolo. Cf. B. 45.
1848. In the Ellesmere MS. (which has the metrical pauses marked) the pause in this line is marked after lyf. The word sholde is dissyllabic here, having more than the usual emphasis; it has the force of ought to. Cf. E. 1146.
1852. In the Cursor Mundi, 1373–6, Seth is told to place three pippins under the root of Adam’s tongue.
1857.now is used in the sense of take notice that, without any reference to time. There is no necessity to alter the reading to than, as proposed by Tyrwhitt. See Mätzner, Engl. Gram. ii. 2. 346, who refers to Luke ii. 41, John i. 44, and quotes an apt passage from Maundeville’s Travels, p. 63—‘Now aftre that men han visited the holy places, thanne will they turnen toward Jerusalem.’ In A. S. the word used in similar cases is sōþlīce = soothly, verily.
1873.Ther, where. leve, grant. No two words have been more confused by editors than lene and leue. Though sometimes written much alike in MSS., they are easily distinguished by a little care. The A. S. lȳfan or lēfan, spelt lefe in the Ormulum (vol. i. p. 308), answers to the Germ. erlauben, and means grant or permit, but it can only be used in certain cases. The verb lene, A. S. lǣnan, now spelt lend, often means to give or grant in Early English, but again only in certain cases. I quote from my article on these words in Notes and Queries, 4 Ser. ii. 127—‘It really makes all the difference whether we are speaking of to grant a thing to a person, or to grant that a thing may happen. “God lene thee grace,” means “God grant thee grace,” where to grant is to impart; but “God leue we may do right” means “God grant we may do right,” where to grant is to permit. . . . . Briefly, lene requires an accusative case after it, leue is followed by a dependent clause.’ Lene occurs in Chaucer, Prol. A. 611, Milleres Tale, A. 3777, and elsewhere. Examples of leue in Chaucer are (1) in the present passage, misprinted lene by Tyrwhitt, Morris, Wright, and Bell, though five of our MSS. have leue; (2) in the Freres Tale, D. 1644, printed lene by Tyrwhitt (l. 7226), leene by Morris, leeve by Wright and Bell; (3) (4) (5) in three passages in Troilus and Criseyde (ii. 1212, iii. 56, v. 1750), where Tyrwhitt prints leve, but unluckily recants his opinion in his Glossary, whilst Morris prints lene. For other examples see Stratmann, s. v. lænan and leven.
It may be remarked that leve in Old English has several other senses; such as (1) to believe; (2) to live; (3) to leave; (4) to remain; (5) leave, sb.; (6) dear, adj. I give an example in which the first, sixth, and third of these senses occur in one and the same line:—
‘What! leuestow, leue lemman, that i the [thee] leue wold?’
Will. of Palerne, 2358.
1874.Hugh of Lincoln. The story of Hugh of Lincoln, a boy supposed to have been murdered at Lincoln by the Jews, is placed by Matthew Paris under the year 1255. Thynne, in his Animadversions upon Speght’s editions of Chaucer (p. 45 of the reprint of the E. E. T. S.), addresses Speght as follows—‘You saye, that in the 29 Henry iii. eightene Jewes were broughte from Lincolne, and hanged for crucyfyinge a childe of eight yeres olde. Whiche facte was in the 39 Hen. iii., so that you mighte verye well haue sayed, that the same childe of eighte yeres olde was the same hughe of Lincolne; of whiche name there were twoe, viz. thys younger Seinte Hughe, and Seinte Hughe bishoppe of Lincolne, which dyed in the yere 1200, long before this little seinte hughe. And to prove that this childe of eighte yeres olde and that yonge hughe of Lincolne were but one; I will sett downe two auctoryties out of Mathewe Paris and Walsinghame, wherof the fyrste wryteth, that in the yere of Christe 1255, being the 39 of Henry the 3, a childe called Hughe was sleyne by the Jewes at Lyncolne, whose lamentable historye he delyvereth at large; and further, in the yere 1256, being 40 Hen. 3, he sayeth, Dimissi sunt quieti 24 Judei á Turri London., qui ibidem infames tenebantur compediti pro crucifixione sancti Hugonis Lincolniae: All which Thomas Walsingham, in Hypodigma Neustriae, confirmeth: sayinge, Ao. 1255, Puer quidam Christianus, nomine Hugo, à Judeis captus, in opprobrium Christiani nominis crudeliter est crucifixus.’ There are several ballads in French and English, on the subject of Hugh of Lincoln, which were collected by M. F. Michel, and published at Paris in 1834, with the title—‘Hugues de Lincoln, Recueil de Ballades Anglo-Normandes et Ecossoises relatives au Meurtre de cet Enfant.’ The day of St. Hugh, bishop of Lincoln, is Aug. 27; that of St. Hugh, boy and martyr, is June 29. See also Brand’s Pop. Antiq. ed. Ellis, i. 431. And see vol. iii. p. 423.
1875.With, by. See numerous examples in Mätzner, Engl. Gram. ii. 1. 419, amongst which we may especially notice—‘Stolne is he with Iues’; Towneley Mysteries, p. 290.
Prologue to Sir Thopas.
1881.miracle, pronounced míracl’. Tyrwhitt omits al, and turns the word into mirácle, unnecessarily.
1883.hoste is so often an evident dissyllable (see l. 1897), that there is no need to insert to after it, as in Tyrwhitt. In fact, bigan is seldom followed by to.
1885.what man artow, what sort of a man art thou?
1886.woldest finde, wouldst like to find. We learn from this passage, says Tyrwhitt, that Chaucer ‘was used to look much upon the ground; that he was of a corpulent habit; and reserved in his behaviour.’ We cannot be quite sure that the poet is serious; but these inferences are probably correct; cf. Lenvoy a Scogan, 31.
1889.war you, mind yourselves, i. e. make way.
1890.as wel as I; said ironically. Chaucer is as corpulent as the host himself. See note to l. 1886 above.
1891.were, would be. tenbrace, to embrace. In the Romaunt of the Rose, true lovers are said to be always lean; but deceivers are often fat enough:—
1893.elvish, elf-like, akin to the fairies; alluding to his absent looks and reserved manner. See Elvish in the Glossary, and cf. ‘this elvish nyce lore’; Can. Yeom. Tale, G. 842. Palsgrave has—‘I waxe eluysshe, nat easye to be dealed with, Ie deuiens mal traictable.’
1900.Ye, yea. The difference in Old English between ye and yis (yes) is commonly well marked. Ye is the weaker form, and merely assents to what the last speaker says; but yis is an affirmative of great force, often followed by an oath, or else it answers a question containing a negative particle, as in the House of Fame, 864. Cf. B. 4006 below.
The Tale of Sir Thopas.
In the black-letter editions, this Tale is called ‘The ryme of Sir Thopas,’ a title copied by Tyrwhitt, but not found in the seven best MSS. This word is now almost universally misspelt rhyme, owing to confusion with the Greek rhythm; but this misspelling is never found in old MSS. or in early printed books, nor has any example yet been found earlier than the reign of Elizabeth. The old spelling rime is confirmed by the A. S. rīm, Icel. rím, Dan. rim, Swed. rim, Germ. reim, Dutch rijm, Old Fr. rime, &c. Confusion with rime, hoarfrost, is impossible, as the context always decides which is meant; but it is worth notice that it is the latter word which has the better title to an h, as the A. S. word for hoarfrost is hrīm. Tyrwhitt, in his edition of Chaucer, attempted two reforms in spelling, viz. rime for rhyme, and coud for could. Both are most rational, but probably unattainable.
Thopas. In the Supplement to Ducange we find—‘Thopasius, pro Topasius, Acta S. Wencesl. tom. 7. Sept. p. 806, col. 1.’ The Lat. topazius is our topaz. The whole poem is a burlesque (see vol. iii. p. 423), and Sir Topaz is an excellent title for such a gem of a knight. The name Topyas occurs in Richard Coer de Lion, ed. Weber, ii. 11, as that of a sister of King Richard I; but no such name is known to history.
The metre is that commonly used before and in Chaucer’s time by long-winded ballad-makers. Examples of it occur in the Romances of Sir Percevall, Sir Isumbras, Sir Eglamour, and Sir Degrevant (in the Thornton Romances, ed. Halliwell), and in several romances in the Percy Folio MS. (ed. Hales and Furnivall), such as Libius Disconius, Sir Triamour, Sir Eglamour, Guy and Colbrande, The Grene Knight, &c.; see also Amis and Amiloun, and Sir Amadas in Weber’s Metrical Romances; and Lybeaus Disconus, The King of Tars, Le Bone Florence, Emare, The Erle of Tolous, and Horn Childe in Ritson’s collection. To point out Chaucer’s sly imitations of phrases, &c. would be a long task; the reader would gain the best idea of his manner by reading any one of these old ballads. To give a few illustrations is all that can be attempted here; I refer the reader to Prof. Kölbing’s elaborate article in the Englische Studien, xi. 495, for further information; also to the dissertation by C. J. Bennewitz mentioned in vol. iii. p. 424. It is remarkable that we find in Weber a ballad called ‘The Hunting of the Hare,’ which is a pure burlesque, like Chaucer’s, but a little broader in tone and more obviously comic.
1902.Listeth, lordes, hearken, sirs. This is the usual style of beginning. For example, Sir Bevis begins—
‘Lordynges, lystenyth, grete and smale’;
and Sir Degaré begins—
Warton well remarks—‘This address to the lordings, requesting their silence and attention, is a manifest indication that these ancient pieces were originally sung to the harp, or recited before grand assemblies, upon solemn occasions’; Obs. on F. Queene, p. 248.
1904.solas, mirth. See Prol. l. 798. ‘This word is often used in describing the festivities of elder days. “She and her ladyes called for their minstrells, and solaced themselves with the disports of dauncing”; Leland, Collectanea, v. 352. So in the Romance of Ywaine and Gawin:—
1905.gent, gentle, gallant. Often applied to ladies, in the sense of pretty. The first stanzas in Sir Isumbras and Sir Eglamour are much in the same strain as this stanza.
1910.Popering. ‘Poppering, or Poppeling, was the name of a parish in the Marches of Calais. Our famous antiquary Leland was once rector of it. See Tanner, Bib. Brit. in v. Leland.’—Tyrwhitt. Here Calais means the district, not the town. Poperinge has a population of about 10,500, and is situate about 26 miles S. by W. from Ostend, in the province of Belgium called West Flanders, very near the French ‘marches,’ or border. Ypres (see A. 448) is close beside it. place, the mansion or chief house in the town. Dr. Pegge, in his Kentish Glossary, (Eng. Dial. Soc.), has—‘Place, that is, the manor-house. Hearne, in his pref. to Antiq. of Glastonbury, p. xv, speaks of a manour-place.’ He refers also to Strype’s Annals, cap. xv.
1915.payndemayn. ‘The very finest and the whitest [kind of bread] that was known, was simnel-bread, which . . . . was as commonly known under the name of pain-demayn (afterwards corrupted into [painmain or] payman); a word which has given considerable trouble to Tyrwhitt and other commentators on Chaucer, but which means no more than “bread of our Lord,” from the figure of our Saviour, or the Virgin Mary, impressed upon each round flat loaf, as is still the usage in Belgium with respect to certain rich cakes much admired there’; Chambers, Book of Days, i. 119. The Liber Albus (ed. Riley, p. 305) speaks of ‘demesne bread, known as demeine,’ which Mr. Riley annotates by—‘Panis Dominicus. Simnels made of the very finest flour were thus called, from an impression upon them of the effigy of our Saviour.’ Tyrwhitt refers to the poem of the Freiris of Berwick, in the Maitland MS., in which occur the expressions breid of mane and mane breid. It occurs also in Sir Degrevant (Thornton Romances, p. 235):—
It is mentioned as a delicacy by Gower, Conf. Amantis, bk. vi. (ed. Pauli, iii. 22).
1917.rode, complexion. scarlet in grayn, i. e. scarlet dyed in grain, or of a fast colour. Properly, to dye in grain meant to dye with grain, i. e. with cochineal. In fact, Chaucer uses the phrase ‘with greyn’ in the epilogue to the Nonne Prestes Tale; B. 4649. See the long note in Marsh’s Lectures on the English Language, ed. Smith, pp. 54–62, and the additional note on p. 64. Cf. Shak. Tw. Nt. i. 5. 255.
1920.saffroun; i. e. of a yellow colour. Cf. Bottom’s description of beards—‘I will discharge it in either your straw-colour beard, your orange-tawney beard, your purple-in-grain beard, or your French-crown-colour beard, your perfect yellow’; Mids. Nt. Dr. i. 2. In Lybeaus Disconus (ed. Ritson, Met. Rom. ii. 6, or ed. Kaluza, l. 139) a dwarf s beard is described as ‘yelow as ony wax.’
1924.ciclatoun, a costly material. From the O. Fr. ciclaton, the name of a costly cloth. [It was early confused with the Latin cyclas, which Ducange explains by ‘vestis species, et panni genus.’ The word cyclas occurs in Juvenal (Sat. vi. 259), and is explained to mean a robe worn most often by women, and adorned with a border of gold or purple; see also Propertius, iv. 7. 40.] Ciclatoun, however, is of Eastern origin, as was well suggested in the following note by Col. Yule in his edition of Marco Polo, i. 249:—
‘The term suklát is applied in the Punjab trade-returns to broad-cloth. Does not this point to the real nature of the siclatoun of the Middle Ages? It is, indeed, often spoken of as used for banners, which implies that it was not a heavy woollen. But it was also a material for ladies’ robes, for quilts, leggings, housings, pavilions. Michel does not decide what it was, only that it was generally red and wrought with gold. Dozy renders it “silk stuff brocaded with gold,” but this seems conjectural. Dr. Rock says it was a thin glossy silken stuff, often with a woof of gold thread, and seems to derive it from the Arabic sakl, “polishing” (a sword), which is improbable.’ Compare the following examples, shewing its use for tents, banners, &c.:—
Richardson’s Pers. and Arab. Dict. (ed. Johnson, 1829), p. 837, gives: ‘Pers. saqlatūn, scarlet cloth (whence Arab. siqlāt, a fine painted or figured cloth)’; and the derivation is probably (as given in the New E. Dict.) from the very Pers. word which has given us the word scarlet; so that it was originally named from its colour. It was afterwards applied to various kinds of costly materials, which were sometimes embroidered with gold. See Ciclaton in Godefroy, and in the New E. Dict.; and Scarlet in my Etym. Dictionary.
The matter has been much confused by a mistaken notion of Spenser’s. Not observing that Sir Thopas is here described in his robes of peace, not in those of war (as in a later stanza), he followed Thynne’s spelling, viz. chekelatoun, and imagined this to mean ‘that kind of guilded leather with which they [the Irish] use to embroder theyr Irish jackes’; View of the State of Ireland, in Globe edition, p. 639, col. 2. And this notion he carried out still more boldly in the lines—
1925.Jane, a small coin. The word is known to be a corruption of Genoa, which is spelt Jeane in Hall’s Chronicles, fol. xxiv. So too we find Janueys and Januayes for Genoese. See Bardsley’s English Surnames, s. v. Janeway. Stow, in his Survey of London, ed. 1599, p. 97, says that some foreigners lived in Minchin Lane, who had come from Genoa, and were commonly called galley-men, who landed wines, &c. from the galleys at a place called ‘galley-key’ in Thames Street. ‘They had a certaine coyne of silver amongst themselves, which were half-pence of Genoa, and were called galley half-pence. These half-pence were forbidden in the 13th year of Henry IV, and again by parliament in the 3rd of Henry V, by the name of half-pence of Genoa. . . . Notwithstanding, in my youth, I have seen them passe currant,’ &c. Chaucer uses the word again in the Clerkes Tale (E. 999), and Spenser adopted it from Chaucer; F. Q. iii. 7. 58. Mr. Wright observes that ‘the siclaton was a rich cloth or silk brought from the East, and is therefore appropriately mentioned as bought with Genoese coin.’
1927.for rivéer, towards the river. This appears to be the best reading, and we must take for in close connexion with ryde; perhaps it is a mere imitation of the French en riviere. It alludes to the common practice of seeking the river-side, because the best sport, in hawking, was with herons and waterfowl. Tyrwhitt quotes from Froissart, v. 1. c. 140—‘Le Comte de Flandres estoit tousjours en riviere—un jour advint qu’il alla voller en la riviere—et getta son fauconnier un faucon apres le heron.’ And again, in c. 210, he says that Edward III ‘alloit, chacun jour, ou en chace on en riviere,’ &c. So we read of Sir Eglamour:—
Of Ipomydon’s education we learn that his tutor taught him to sing, to read, to serve in hall, to carve the meat, and
See also the Squire of Low Degree, in Ritson, vol. iii. p. 177.
1931.ram, the usual prize at a wrestling match. Cf. Gk. τραγῳδία.
stonde, i.e. be placed in the sight of the competitors; be seen. Cf. Prol. A. 548, and the Tale of Gamelyn, 172. Tyrwhitt says—‘Matthew Paris mentions a wrestling-match at Westminster, 1222, in which a ram was the prize, p. 265.’ Cf. also—
1933.paramour, longingly; a common expression; see the Glossary.
1937.hepe, mod. E. ‘hip,’ the fruit of the dog-rose; A. S. hēope.
1938. Compare—‘So hyt be-felle upon a day’; Erle of Tolous, Ritson’s Met. Rom. iii. 134. Of course it is a common phrase in these romances.
1941.worth, lit. became; worth upon=became upon, got upon. It is a common phrase; compare—
1942.launcegay, a sort of lance. Gower has the word, Conf. Amant. bk. viii. (ed. Pauli, iii. 369). Cowel says its use was prohibited by the statute of 7 Rich. II, cap. 13. Camden mentions it in his Remaines, p. 209. Tyrwhitt quotes, from Rot. Parl. 29 Hen. VI, n. 8, the following—‘And the said Evan then and there with a launcegaye smote the said William Tresham throughe the body a foote and more, whereof he died.’ Sir Walter Raleigh (quoted by Richardson) says—‘These carried a kind of lance de gay, sharp at both ends, which they held in the midst of the staff.’ But this is certainly a corrupt form. It is no doubt a corruption of lancezagay, from the Spanish azagaya, a word of Moorish origin. Cotgrave gives—‘Zagaye, a fashion of slender, long, and long-headed pike, used by the Moorish horsemen.’ It seems originally to have been rather a short weapon, a kind of half-pike or dart. The Spanish word is well discussed in Dozy, Glossaire des mots Espagnols et Portugais dérivés de l’Arabe, 2nd ed. p. 225. The Spanish azagaya is for az-zagaya, where az is for the definite article al, and zagaya is a Berber or Algerian word, not given in the Arabic dictionaries. It is found in Old Spanish of the fourteenth century. Dozy quotes from a writer who explains it as a Moorish half-pike, and also gives the following passage from Laugier de Tassy, Hist. du royaume d’Alger, p. 58—‘Leurs armes sont l’azagaye, qui est une espéce de lance courte, qu’ils portent toujours à la main.’ The Caffre word assagai, in the sense of javelin, was simply borrowed from the Portuguese azagaia.
1949.a sory care, a grievous misfortune. Chaucer does not say what this was, but a passage in Amis and Amiloun (ed. Weber, ii. 410) makes it probable that Sir Thopas nearly killed his horse, which would have been grievous indeed; see l. 1965 below. The passage I allude to is as follows:—
Readers of Scott will remember Fitz-James’s lament over his ‘gallant grey.’
1950. This can hardly be other than a burlesque upon the Squire of Low Degree (ed. Ritson, iii. 146), where a long list of trees is followed up, as here, by a list of singing-birds. Compare also the Romaunt of the Rose, l. 1367:—
Observe the mention of notemigges in the same, l. 1361.
Line 21 of the Milleres Tale (A. 3207) runs similarly:—
‘Of licorys or any setewale.’
Maundeville speaks of the clowe-gilofre and notemuge in his 26th chapter; see Specimens of E. Eng. ed. Morris and Skeat, p. 171. Cetewale is generally explained as the herb valerian, but is certainly zedoary; see the Glossary. Clowe-gilofre, a clove; notemuge, a nutmeg. ‘Spiced ale’ is amongst the presents sent by Absolon to Alisoun in the Milleres Tale (A. 3378). Cf. the list of spices in King Alisaunder, ed. Weber, 6790–9.
1955.leye in cofre, to lay in a box.
1956. Compare Amis and Amiloun, ed. Weber, ii. 391:—
See also Romaunt of the Rose, ll. 613–728. But Chaucer’s burlesque is far surpassed by a curious passage in the singular poem of The Land of Cockaygne (MS. Harl. 913), ll. 71–100:—
1964.as he were wood, as if he were mad, ‘like mad.’ So in Amis and Amiloun (ed. Weber), ii. 419:—
Cf. note to l. 1949.
1974.seinte, being feminine, and in the vocative case, is certainly a dissyllable here—‘O seintè Márie, ben’cite.’ Cf. note to B. 1170 above.
1977.Me dremed, I dreamt. Both dremen (to dream) and meten (also to dream) are sometimes used with a dative case and reflexively in Old English. In the Nonne Prestes Tale we have me mette (l. 74) and this man mette (l. 182); B. 4084, 4192.
1978.An elf-queen. Mr. Price says—‘There can be little doubt that at one period the popular creed made the same distinctions between the Queen of Faerie and the Elf-queen that were observed in Grecian mythology-between their undoubted parallels, Artemis and Persephone.’ Chaucer makes Proserpine the ‘queen of faerie’ in his Marchauntes Tale; but at the beginning of the Wyf of Bathes Tale, he describes the elf-queen as the queen of the fairies, and makes elf and fairy synonymous. Perhaps this elf-queen in Sire Thopas (called the queen of fairye in l. 2004) may have given Spenser the hint for his Faerie Queene. But the subject is a vast one. See Price’s Preface, in Warton’s Hist. Eng. Poetry, ed. Hazlitt, pp. 30–36; Halliwell’s Illustrations of Fairy Mythology; Keightley’s Fairy Mythology; Warton’s Observations on the Faerie Queene, sect. ii; Sir W. Scott’s ballad of Thomas the Rhymer, &c.
1979.under my gore, within my robe or garment. In l. 2107 (on which see the note) we have under wede signifying merely ‘in his dress.’ We have a somewhat similar phrase here, in which, however, gore (lit. gusset) is put for the whole robe or garment. That it was a mere phrase, appears from other passages. Thus we find under gore, under the dress, Owl and Nightingale, l. 515; Reliquiae Antiquae, vol. i. p. 244, vol. ii. p. 210; with three more examples in the Gloss. to Böddeker’s Altenglische Dichtungen des MS. Harl. 2253. In one of these a lover addresses his lady as ‘geynest under gore,’ i. e. fairest within a dress. For the exact sense of gore, see note to A. 3237.
1983.In toune, in the town, in the district. But it must not be supposed that much sense is intended by this inserted line. It is a mere tag, in imitation of some of the romances. Either Chaucer has neglected to conform to the new kind of stanza which he now introduces (which is most likely), or else three lines have been lost before this one. The next three stanzas are longer, viz. of ten lines each, of which only the seventh is very short. For good examples of these short lines, see Sir Gawayne and the Greene Knyȝt, ed. Morris; and for a more exact account of the metres here employed, see vol. iii. p. 425.
1993.So wilde. Instead of this short line, Tyrwhitt has:—
But none of our seven MSS. agrees with this version, nor are these lines found in the black-letter editions. The notion of spying with one’s mouth seems a little too far-fetched.
1995. This line is supplied from MS. Reg. 17 D. 15, where Tyrwhitt found it; but something is so obviously required here, that we must insert it to make some sense. It suits the tone of the context to say that ‘neither wife nor child durst oppose him.’ We may, however, bear in mind that the meeting of a knight-errant with one of these often preceded some great adventure. ‘And in the midst of an highway he [Sir Lancelot] met a damsel riding on a white palfrey, and there either saluted other. Fair damsel, said Sir Lancelot, know ye in this country any adventures? Sir knight, said that damsel, here are adventures near hand, and thou durst prove them’; Sir T. Malory, Morte Arthur, bk. vi. cap. vii. The result was that Lancelot fought with Sir Turquine, and defeated him. Soon after, he was ‘required of a damsel to heal her brother’; and again, ‘at the request of a lady’ he recovered a falcon; an adventure which ended in a fight, as usual. Kölbing points out a parallel line in Sir Guy of Warwick, 45–6:—
1998.Olifaunt, i. e. Elephant; a proper name, as Tyrwhitt observes, for a giant. Maundeville has the form olyfauntes for elephants. By some confusion the Mœso-Goth. ulbandus and A.S. olf[Editor: illegible character]nd are made to signify a camel. Spenser has put Chaucer’s Olifaunt into his Faerie Queene, bk. iii. c. 7. st. 48, and makes him the brother of the giantess Argantè, and son of Typhoeus and Earth. The following description of a giant is from Libius Disconius (Percy Folio MS. vol. ii. p. 465):—
Sir Libius says:—
Another giant, 20 feet long, and 2 ells broad, with two boar’s tusks, and also with brows like bristles of a swine, appears in Octouian Imperator, ed. Weber, iii. 196. See also the alliterative Morte Arthure, ed. Brock, p. 33.
2000.child; see note to l. 2020. Termagaunt; one of the idols whom the Saracens (in the medieval romances) are supposed to worship. See The King of Tars, ed. Ritson (Met. Rom., ii. 174–182), where the Sultan’s gods are said to be Jubiter, Jovin (both forms of Jupiter), Astrot (Astarte), Mahoun (Mahomet), Appolin (Apollo), Plotoun (Pluto), and Tirmagaunt. Lybeaus Disconus (Ritson, Met. Rom. ii. 55) fought with a giant ‘that levede yn Termagaunt.’ The Old French form is Tervagant, Ital. Tervagante or Trivigante, as in Ariosto. Wheeler, in his Noted Names of Fiction, gives the following account—‘Ugo Foscolo says: “Trivigante, whom the predecessors of Ariosto always couple with Apollino, is really Diana Trivia, the sister of the classical Apollo.” . . . . According to Panizzi, Trivagante or Tervagante is the Moon, or Diana, or Hecate, wandering under three names. Termagant was an imaginary being, supposed by the crusaders, who confounded Mahometans with pagans, to be a Mahometan deity. This imaginary personage was introduced into early English plays and moralities, and was represented as of a most violent character, so that a ranting actor might always appear to advantage in it. See Hamlet, iii. 2. 15.’ Fairfax, in his translation of Tasso (c. i. st. 84), speaks of Termagaunt and Mahound, but Tasso mentions ‘Macometto’ only. See also Spenser, F. Q. vi. 7. 47. Hence comes our termagant in the sense of a noisy boisterous woman. Shakespeare has—‘that hot termagant Scot’; 1 Hen. IV., v. 2. 114. Cf. Ritson’s note, Met. Rom. iii. 257.
2002.slee, will slay. In Anglo-Saxon, there being no distinct future tense, it is expressed by the present. Cf. go for will go in ‘we also go with thee’; John xxi. 3.
2005.simphonye, the name of a kind of tabor. In Ritson’s Ancient Songs, i. lxiv., is a quotation from Hawkins’s Hist. of Music, ii. 284, in which that author cites a passage from Batman’s translation of Bartholomaeus de Proprietatibus Rerum, to the effect that the symphonie was ‘an instrument of musyke . . . made of an holowe tree [i.e. piece of wood], closyd in lether in eyther syde; and mynstrels beteth it with styckes.’ Probably the symphangle was the same instrument. In Rob. of Brunne’s Handlyng Synne, ll. 4772–3, we find:—
Godefroy gives the O.F. spellings cifonie, siphonie, chifonie, cinfonie, cymphonie, &c.; all clearly derived from the Greek συμϕωνία; see Luke, xv. 25. Cf. Squyre of Lowe Degre, 1070–7.
2007.al-so mote I thee, as I may thrive; or, as I hope to thrive; a common expression. Cf. ‘So mote y thee’; Sir Eglamour, ed. Halliwell, l. 430; Occleve, De Regimine Principum, st. 620. Chaucer also uses ‘so thee ik,’ i. e. so thrive I, in the Reves Prologue (A. 3864) and elsewhere.
2012.Abyen it ful soure, very bitterly shalt thou pay for it. There is a confusion between A. S. súr, sour, and A. S. sár, sore, in this and similar phrases; both were used once, but now we should use sorely, not sourly. In Layamon, l. 8158, we find ‘þou salt it sore abugge,’ thou shalt sorely pay for it; on the other hand, we find in P. Plowman, B. ii. 140:—
‘It shal bisitte ȝowre soules · ful soure atte laste.’
So also in the C-text, though the A-text has sore. Note that in another passage, P. Plowman, B. xviii. 401, the phrase is—‘Thow shalt abye it bittre.’ For abyen, see the Glossary.
2015.fully pryme. See note to Nonne Prestes Tale, B. 4045. Prime commonly means the period from 6 to 9 a.m. Fully prime refers to the end of that period, or 9 a.m.; and even prime alone may be used with the same explicit meaning, as in the Nonne Pres. Ta., B. 4387.
2019.staf-slinge. Tyrwhitt observes that Lydgate describes David as armed only ‘with a staffe-slynge, voyde of plate and mayle.’ It certainly means a kind of sling in which additional power was gained by fastening the lithe part of it on to the end of a stiff stick. Staff-slyngeres are mentioned in the romance of Richard Coer de Lion, l. 4454, in Weber’s Metrical Romances, ii. 177. In Col. Yule’s edition of Marco Polo, ii. 122, is a detailed description of the artillery engines of the middle ages. They can all be reduced to two classes; those which, like the trebuchet and mangonel, are enlarged staff-slings, and those which, like the arblast and springold, are great cross-bows. Conversely, we might describe a staff-sling as a hand-trebuchet.
2020.child Thopas. Child is an appellation given to both knights and squires, in the early romances, at an age when they had long passed the period which we now call childhood. A good example is to be found in the Erle of Tolous, ed. Ritson, iii. 123:—
Compare Romance of ‘Horn Childe and Maiden Rimnild,’ pr. in Ritson, iii. 282; the ballad of Childe Waters, &c. Byron, in his preface to Childe Harold, says—‘It is almost superfluous to mention that the appellation “Childe,” as “Childe Waters,” “Childe Childers,” &c., is used as more consonant with the old structure of versification which I have adopted.’ He adopts, however, the late and artificial metre of Spenser.
2023. A palpable imitation. The first three lines of Sir Bevis of Hampton (MS. Camb. Univ. Lib. Ff. ii. 38, leaf 94, back) are—
In a long passage in Todd’s Illustrations to Chaucer, pp. 284–292, it is contended that mery signifies sweet, pleasant, agreeable, without relation to mirth. Chaucer describes the Frere as wanton and merry, Prol. A. 208; he speaks of the merry day, Kn. Ta. 641 (A. 1499); a merry city, N. P. Ta. 251 (B. 4261); of Arcite being told by Mercury to be merry, i.e. of good cheer, Kn. Ta. 528 (A. 1386); in the Manciple’s Tale (H. 138), the crow sings merrily, and makes a sweet noise; Chanticleer’s voice was merrier than the merry organ, N. P. Ta. 31 (B. 4041); the ‘erbe yve’ is said to be merry, i. e. pleasant, agreeable, id. 146 (B. 4156); the Pardoner (Prol. A. 714) sings merrily and loud. We must remember, however, that the Host, being ‘a mery man,’ began to speak of ‘mirthe’; Prol. A. 757, 759. A very early example of the use of the word occurs in the song attributed to Canute—‘Merie sungen the Muneches binnen Ely,’ &c. See the phrase ‘mery men’ in l. 2029.
2028. The phrase to come to toune seems to mean no more than simply to return. Cf. Specimens of E. Eng., ed. Morris and Skeat, p. 48—
‘Lenten ys come wiþ loue to toune’—
which merely means that spring, with its thoughts of love, has returned. See the note on that line.
2034.for paramour, for love; but the par, or else the for, is redundant. Iolite, amusement; used ironically in the Kn. Ta. 949 (A. 1807). Sir Thopas is going to fight the giant for the love and amusement of one who shone full bright; i.e. a fair lady, of course. But Sir Thopas, in dropping this mysterious hint to his merry men, refrains from saying much about it, as he had not yet seen the Fairy Queen, and had only the giant’s word for her place of abode. The use of the past tense shone is artful; it implies that he wished them to think that he had seen his lady-love; or else that her beauty was to be taken for granted. Observe, too, that it is Sir Thopas, not Chaucer, who assigns to the giant his three heads.
2035.Do come, cause to come; go and call hither. Cf. House of Fame, l. 1197:—
Tyrwhitt’s note on gestours is—‘The proper business of a gestour was to recite tales, or gestes; which was only one of the branches of the Minstrel’s profession. Minstrels and gestours are mentioned together in the following lines from William of Nassyngton’s Translation of a religious treatise by John of Waldby; MS. Reg. 17 C. viii. p. 2:—
I cite these lines to shew the species of tales related by the ancient Gestours, and how much they differed from what we now call jests.’
The word geste here means a tale of the adventures of some hero, like those in the Chansons de geste. Cf. note to l. 2123 below. Sometimes the plural gestes signifies passages of history. The famous collection called the Gesta Romanorum contains narratives of very various kinds.
2038.royales, royal; some MSS. spell the word reales, but the meaning is the same. In the romance of Ywain and Gawain (Ritson, vol. i.) a maiden is described as reading ‘a real romance.’ Tyrwhitt thinks that the term originated with an Italian collection of romances relating to Charlemagne, which began with the words—‘Qui se comenza la hystoria el Real di Franza,’ &c.; edit. Mutinae, 1491, folio. It was reprinted in 1537, with a title beginning—‘I reali di Franza,’ &c. He refers to Quadrio, t. vi. p. 530. The word roial (in some MSS. real) occurs again in l. 2043. Kölbing remarks that the prose romance of Generides is called a royal historie, though it has nothing to do with Charlemagne.
2043. No comma is required at the end of this line; the articles mentioned in ll. 2044–6 all belong to spicery. Cf. additional note to Troilus, vol. ii. p. 506.
2047.dide, did on, put on. The arming of Lybeaus Disconus is thus described in Ritson’s Met. Rom. ii. 10:—
2048.lake, linen; see Glossary. ‘De panno de lake’; York Wills, iii. 4 (anno 1395).
2050.aketoun, a short sleeveless tunic. Cf. Liber Albus, p. 376.
The Glossary to the Percy Folio MS., ed. Hales and Furnivall, has—‘Acton, a wadded or quilted tunic worn under the hauberk.—Planché, i. 108.’ Thynne, in his Animadversions (Early Eng. Text Soc.), p. 24, says—‘Haketon is a slevelesse jackett of plate for the warre, couered withe anye other stuffe; at this day also called a jackett of plate.’
It is certain that the plates were a later addition. It is the mod. F. hoqueton, O. F. auqueton; and it is certain that the derivation is from Arab. al-qoton or al-qutun, lit. ‘the cotton’; so that it was originally made of quilted cotton. See auqueton in Godefroy, hoqueton in Devic’s Supp. to Littré, and Acton in the New E. Dict.
2051.habergeoun, coat of mail. See Prol. A. 76, and the note.
2052.For percinge, as a protection against the piercing. So in P. Plowman, B. vi. 62, Piers puts on his cuffs, ‘for colde of his nailles,’ i.e. as a protection against the cold. So too in the Rom. of the Rose, l. 4229.
2053. The hauberk is here put on as an upper coat of mail, of finer workmanship and doubtless more flexible.
2054.Jewes werk, Jew’s work. Tyrwhitt imagined that Jew here means a magician, but there is not the least foundation for the idea. Mr. Jephson is equally at fault in connecting Jew with jewel, since the latter word is etymologically connected with joy. The phrase still remains unexplained. I suspect it means no more than wrought with rich or expensive work, such as Jews could best find the money for. It is notorious that they were the chief capitalists, and they must often have had to find money for paying armourers. Or, indeed, it may refer to damascened work; from the position of Damascus.
2055.plate. Probably the hauberk had a breastplate on the front of it. But on the subject of armour, I must refer the reader to Godwin’s English Archaeologist’s Handbook, pp. 252–268; Planché’s History of British Costume, and Sir S. R. Meyrick’s Observations on Body-armour, in the Archaeologia, vol. xix. pp. 120–145.
2056. The cote-armour was not for defence, but a mere surcoat on which the knight’s armorial bearings were usually depicted, in order to identify him in the combat or ‘debate.’ Hence the modern coat-of-arms.
2059.reed, red. In the Romances, gold is always called red, and silver white. Hence it was not unusual to liken gold to blood, and this explains why Shakespeare speaks of armour being gilt with blood (King John, ii. 1. 316), and makes Lady Macbeth talk of gilding the groom’s faces with blood (Macbeth, ii. 2. 56). See also Coriol. v. 1. 63, 64; and the expression ‘blood bitokeneth gold’; Cant. Tales, D. 581.
2060. Cf. Libeaus Desconus, ed. Kaluza, 1657–8:—
And see the editor’s note, at p. 201.
2061. ‘A carbuncle (Fr. escarboucle) was a common [armorial] bearing. See Guillim’s Heraldry, p. 109.’—Tyrwhitt.
2062. Sir Thopas is made to swear by ale and bread, in ridiculous imitation of the vows made by the swan, the heron, the pheasant, or the peacock, on solemn occasions.
2065.Iambeux, armour worn in front of the shins, above the mailarmour that covered the legs; see Fairholt. He tells us that, in Roach Smith’s Catalogue of London Antiquities, p. 132, is figured a pair of cuirbouilly jambeux, which are fastened by thongs. Spenser borrows the word, but spells it giambeux, F. Q. ii. 6. 29.
quirboilly, i. e. cuir bouilli, leather soaked in hot water to soften it that it might take any required shape, after which it was dried and became exceedingly stiff and hard. In Matthew Paris (anno 1243) it is said of the Tartars—‘De coriis bullitis sibi arma leuia quidem, sed tamen impenetrabilia coaptarunt.’ In Marco Polo, ed Yule, ii. 49, it is said of the men of Carajan, that they wear armour of boiled leather (French text, armes cuiracés de cuir bouilli). Froissart (v. iv. cap. 19) says the Saracens covered their targes with ‘cuir bouilli de Cappadoce, ou nul fer ne peut prendre n’attacher, si le cuir n’est trop échaufé.’ When Bruce reviewed his troops on the morning of the battle of Bannockburn, he wore, according to Barbour, ‘ane hat of qwyrbolle’ on his ‘basnet,’ and ‘ane hye croune’ above that. Some remarks on cuir bouilli will be found in Cutts, Scenes and Characters of the Middle Ages, p. 344.
2068.rewel-boon, probably whale-ivory, or ivory made of whales’ teeth. In the Turnament of Tottenham, as printed in Percy’s reliques, we read that Tyb had ‘a garland on her hed ful of rounde bonys,’ where another copy has (says Halliwell, s. v. ruel) the reading—‘fulle of ruelle-bones.’ Halliwell adds—‘In the romaunce of Rembrun, p. 458, the coping of a wall is mentioned as made ‘of fin ruwal, that schon swithe brighte.’ And in MS. Camb. Univ. Lib. Ff. v. 48, fol. 119, is the passage—
In Sir Degrevant, 1429, a roof is said to be—
Quite near the beginning of the Vie de Seint Auban, ed. Atkinson, we have—
i.e. but it was not adorned with gold nor other metal, nor with precious stones, nor ivory, nor rewel. Du Cange gives a Low Lat. form rohanlum, and an O. Fr. rochal, but tells us that the MS. readings are rohallum and rohal. The passage occurs in the Laws of Normandy about wreckage, and should run—‘dux sibi retinet . . . ebur, rohallum, lapides pretiosas’; or, in the French version, ‘I’ivoire, et le rohal, et les pierres precieuses.’ Ducange explains the word by ‘rock-crystal,’ but this is a pure guess, suggested by F. roche, a rock. It is clear that, when the word is spelt rochal, the ch denotes the same sound as the Ger. ch, a guttural resembling h, and not the F. ch at all. Collecting all the spellings, we find them to be, in French, rohal, rochal, roal; and, in English, ruwal, rewel, ruel, (reuylle, ruelle). The h and w might arise from a Teutonic hw, so that the latter part of the word was originally -hwal, i.e. whale; hence, perhaps, Godefroy explains F. rochal as ‘ivoire de morse,’ ivory of the walrus (A. S. hors-hwæl). The true origin seems rather to be some Norse form akin to Norweg. röyrkval (E. rorqual). Some whales, as the cachalot, have teeth that afford a kind of ivory; and this is what seems to be alluded to. The expression ‘white as whale-bone,’ i.e. white as whale-ivory, was once common; see Weber’s Met. Romances, iii. 350; and whales-bone in Nares. Most of this ivory was derived, however, from the tusk of the walrus or the narwhal. Sir Thopas’s saddle was ornamented with ivory.
2071.cipress, cypress-wood. In the Assembly of Foules, l. 179, we have—
‘The sailing firr, the cipres, deth to pleyne’—
i. e. the cypress suitable for lamenting a death. Vergil calls the cypress ‘atra,’ Æn. iii. 64, and ‘feralis,’ vi. 216; and as it is so frequently a symbol of mourning, it may be said to bode war.
2078. In Sir Degrevant (ed. Halliwell, p. 191) we have just this expression—
2085.love-drury, courtship. All the six MSS. have this reading. According to Wright, the Harl. MS. has ‘Of ladys loue and drewery,’ which Tyrwhitt adopts; but it turns out that Wright’s reading is copied from Tyrwhitt; the MS. really has—‘And of ladys loue drewery,’ like the rest.
2088. The romance or lay of Horn appears in two forms in English. In King Horn, ed. Lumby, Early Eng. Text Soc., 1866, printed also in Mätzner’s Altenglische Sprachproben, i. 207, the form of the poem is in short rimed couplets. But Chaucer no doubt refers to the other form with the title Horn Childe and Maiden Rimnild, in a metre similar to Sir Thopas, printed in Ritson’s Metrical Romances, iii. 282. The Norman-French text was printed by F. Michel for the Bannatyne Club, with the English versions, in a volume entitled—Horn et Riemenhild; Recueil de ce qui reste des poëmes relatifs à leurs aventures, &c. Paris, 1845. See Mr. Lumby’s preface and the remarks in Mätzner.
It is not quite clear why Chaucer should mention the romance of Sir Ypotis here, as it has little in common with the rest. There are four MS. copies of it in the British Museum, and three at Oxford. ‘It professes to be a tale of holy writ, and the work of St. John the Evangelist. The scene is Rome. A child, named Ypotis, appears before the Emperor Adrian, saying that he is come to teach men God’s law; whereupon the Emperor proceeds to interrogate him as to what is God’s Law, and then of many other matters, not in any captious spirit, but with the utmost reverence and faith. . . . There is a little tract in prose on the same legend from the press of Wynkyn de Worde’; J. W. Hales, in Hazlitt’s edition of Warton’s Hist. of Eng. Poetry, ii. 183. It was printed in 1881, from the Vernon MS. at Oxford, in Horstmann’s Altenglische Legenden, Neue Folge, pp. 341–8. It is hard to believe that, by Ypotys, Chaucer meant (as some say) Ypomadoun.
The romance of Sir Bevis of Hampton (i.e. Southampton) was printed from the Auchinleck MS. for the Maitland Club in 1838, 4to. Another copy is in MS. Ff. 2. 38, in the Cambridge University Library. It has lately been edited, from six MS. copies and an old printed text, by Prof. Kölbing, for the Early Eng. Text Society. There is an allusion in it to the Romans, meaning the French original. It appears in prose also, in various forms. See Warton’s Hist. of Eng. Poetry, ed. Hazlitt, ii. 142, where there is also an account of Sir Guy, in several forms; but a still fuller account of Sir Guy is given in the Percy Folio MS., ed. Hales and Furnivall, ii. 509. This Folio MS. itself contains three poems on the latter subject, viz. Guy and Amarant, Guy and Colbrande, and Guy and Phillis. ‘Sir Guy of Warwick’ has been edited for the Early Eng. Text Society by Prof. Zupitza.
By Libeux is meant Lybeaus Disconus, printed by Ritson in his Metrical Romances, vol. ii. from the Cotton MS. Caligula A. 2. A later copy, with the title Libius Disconius, is in the Percy Folio MS. ii. 404, where a good account of the romance may be found. The best edition is that by Dr. Max Kulaza, entitled Libeaus Desconus; Leipzig, 1890. The French original was discovered in 1855, in a MS. belonging to the Duc d’Aumale. Its title is Li Biaus Desconneus, which signifies The Fair Unknown.
Pleyndamour evidently means plein d’amour, full of love, and we may suspect that the original romance was in French; but there is now no trace of any romance of that name, though a Sir Playne de Amours is mentioned in Sir T. Malory’s Morte Darthur, bk. ix. c. 7. Spenser probably borrowed hence his Sir Blandamour, F. Q. iv. 1. 32.
2092. After examining carefully the rimes in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Mr. Bradshaw finds that this is the sole instance in which a word which ought etymologically to end in -ye is rimed with a word ending in -y without a following final e. A reason for the exception is easily found; for Chaucer has here adopted the swing of the ballad metre, and hence ventures to deprive chiualryë of its final e, and to call it chivalry’ so that it may rime with Gy, after the manner of the ballad-writers; cf. Squyre of Lowe Degre, 79, 80. So again chivalryë, druryë become chivalry, drury; ll. 2084, 2085. We even find plas for plac-e, 1971; and gras for grac-e, 2021.
2094.glood, glided. So in all the MSS. except E., which has the poor reading rood, rode. For the expression in l. 2095, compare—
2106. The first few lines of the romance of Sir Perceval of Galles (ed. Halliwell, p. 1) will at once explain Chaucer’s allusion. It begins—
Both Sir Thopas and Sir Perceval were water-drinkers, but it did not impair their vigour.
In the same romance, p. 84, we find—
These quotations set aside Mr. Jephson’s interpretation, and solve Tyrwhitt’s difficulty. Tyrwhitt says that ‘The Romance of Perceval le Galois, or de Galis, was composed in octosyllable French verse by Chrestien de Troyes, one of the oldest and best French romancers, before the year 1191; Fauchet, l. ii. c. x. It consisted of above 60,000 verses (Bibl. des Rom. t. ii. p. 250) so that it would be some trouble to find the fact which is, probably, here alluded to. The romance, under the same title, in French prose, printed at Paris, 1530, fol., can be an abridgement, I suppose, of the original poem.’
2107.worthy under wede, well-looking in his armour. The phrase is very common. Tyrwhitt says it occurs repeatedly in the romance of Emare, and refers to folios 70, 71 b, 73 a, and 74 b of the MS.; but the reader may now find the romance in print; see Ritson’s Metrical Romances, ii. pp. 214, 229, 235, 245. The phrase is used of ladies also, and must then mean of handsome appearance when well-dressed. See Amis and Amiloun, ed. Weber, ii. pp. 370, 375. Cf. l. 1979.
2108. The story is here broken off by the host’s interruption. MSS. Pt. and Hl. omit this line, and MSS. Cp. and Ln. omit ll. 2105–7 as well.
Prologue to Melibeus.
2111.of, by. lewednesse, ignorance; here, foolish talk.
2112.also, &c.; as verily as (I hope) God will render my soul happy. See Kn. Ta. A. 1863, 2234.
2113.drasty, filthy. Tyrwhitt and Bell print drafty, explained by full of draff or refuse. But there is no such word; the adjective (were there one) would take the form draffy. See drestys, i.e. dregs, lees of wine, in the Prompt. Parv., and Way’s note, which gives the spelling drastus (a plural form) as occurring in MS. Harl. 1002. The Lat. feces is glossed by drastys in Wright’s Vocab., ed. Wülcker, p. 625, l. 16. And the Lat. feculentus is glossed by the A. S. dræstig in the same, col. 238, l. 20.
2123.in geste, in the form of a regular story of adventure of some well-known hero; cf. House of Fame, 1434, 1515. The gestes generally pretended to have some sort of historical foundation; from Low Lat. gesta, doings. Sir Thopas was in this form, but the Host would not admit it, and wanted to hear about some one who was more renowned. ‘Tell us,’ he says, ‘a tale like those in the chansons de geste, or at least something in prose that is either pleasant or profitable.’
2131. ‘Although it is sometimes told in different ways by different people.’
2137. ‘And all agree in their general meaning.’ sentence, sense; see ll. 2142, 2151.
2148. Read it—Tenforcë with, &c.
The Tale of Melibeus.
For the sources of the Tale of Melibeus, see vol. iii. p. 426. It may suffice to say here that Chaucer’s Tale is translated from the French version entitled Le Livre de Mellibee et Prudence, ascribed by M. Paul Meyer to Jean de Meung. Of this text there are two MS. copies in the British Museum, viz. MS. Reg. 19 C. vii. and MS. Reg. 19 C. xi, both of the fifteenth century; the former is said by Mr. T. Wright to be the more correct. It is also printed, as forming part of Le Menagier de Paris, the author of which embodied it in his book, written about 1393; the title of the printed book being—‘Le Menagier de Paris; publié pour la première fois par la Société des Bibliophiles François; a Paris m.d. ccc. xlvi’; (tome i. p. 186); ed. J. Pichon. In the following notes, this is alluded to as the French text.
This French version was, in its turn, translated from the Liber Consolationis et Consilii of Albertano of Brescia, excellently edited for the Chaucer Society in 1873 by Thor Sundby, with the title ‘Albertani Brixiensis Liber Consolationis et Consilii.’ This is alluded to, in the following notes, as the Latin text. Thor Sundby’s edition is most helpful, as the editor has taken great pains to trace the sources of the very numerous quotations with which the Tale abounds; and I am thus enabled to give the references in most cases. I warn the reader that Albertano’s quotations are frequently inexact.
Besides this, the Tale of Melibeus has been admirably edited, as a specimen of English prose, in Mätzner’s Altenglische Sprachproben, ii. 375, with numerous notes, of which I here make considerable use. Owing to the great care taken by Sundby and Mätzner, the task of explaining the difficulties in this Tale has been made easy. The more important notes from Mätzner are marked ‘Mr.’
The first line or clause (numbered 2157) ends with the word ‘Sophie,’ as shewn by the slanting stroke. The whole Tale is thus divided into clauses, for the purpose of ready reference, precisely as in the Six-text edition; I refer to these clauses as if they were lines. The ‘paragraphs’ are the same as in Tyrwhitt’s edition.
2157.Melibeus. The meaning of the name is given below (note to l. 2600).
Prudence. ‘It is from a passage of Cassiodorus, quoted by Albertano in cap. vi., that he [Albertano] has taken the name of his heroine, if we may call her so, and the general idea of her character:—“Superauit cuncta infatigabilis et expedita prudentia”; Cass. Variarum lib. ii. epist. 15.’—Sundby.
Sophie, i. e. wisdom, σοϕία. Neither the Latin nor the French text gives the daughter’s name.
2159.Inwith, within; a common form in Chaucer; see note to B. 1794. Y-shette, pl. of y-shet, shut; as in B. 560.
2160.Thre; Lat. text, tres; Fr. text, trois. Tyrwhitt has foure, as in MSS. Cp. Ln.; yet in l. 2562, he prints ‘thin enemies ben three,’ and in l. 2615, he again prints ‘thy three enemies.’ Again, in l. 2612, it is explained that these three enemies signify, allegorically, the flesh, the world, and the devil.
2164.As ferforth, as far; as in B. 19, 1099, &c. Mätzner also quotes from Troilus, ii. 1106—‘How ferforth be ye put in loves daunce.’
2165. Mätzner would read—‘ever the lenger the more’; but see E. 687, F. 404.
2166.Ovide, Ovid. The passage referred to is—
2172.Warisshe, recover; Cp. Ln. Hl. be warisshed, be cured. Chaucer uses this verb elsewhere both transitively and intransitively, so that either reading will serve. For the transitive use, see below, ll. 2207, 2466, 2476, 2480; also F. 856, 1138, 1162; Book of Duch. 1104. For the intransitive use, observe that, in F. 856, Cp. Pt. Ln. have—‘then wolde myn herte Al waryssche of this bitter peynes smerte’; and cf. Morte Arthure, 2186—‘I am wathely woundide, waresche mon I neuer!’—M.
Lat. text—‘Filia tua, dante Domino, bene liberabitur.’
2174.Senek, Seneca. ‘Non affligitur sapiens liberorum amissione, non amicorum; eodem animo enim fert illorum mortem quo suam expectat’; Epist. 74, § 29.
2177.Lazarus; see John, xi. 35.
2178.Attempree, moderate; Lat. text, ‘temperatus fletus.’ Hl. attemperel, which Mätzner illustrates. Cf. D. 2053, where Hl. has attemperelly; and E. 1679, where Hl. has attemperely. Cf. ll. 2570, 2728 below.
Nothing defended, not at all forbidden.
2179. See Rom. xii. 15.
2181. ‘According to the doctrine that Seneca teaches us.’ Cf. ‘Non sicci sint oculi, amisso amico, nec fluant; lacrimandum est, non plorandum’; Epist. 63, § 1.
2183. This is also, practically, from Seneca: ‘Quem amabis extulisti, quaere quem ames; satius est amicum reparare, quam flere’; Epist. 63, § 9.
2185.Iesus Syrak, Jesus the son of Sirach. ‘Ecclesiasticus is the title given in the Latin version to the book which is called in the Septuagint The Wisdom of Jesus the son of Sirach’; Smith, Dict. of the Bible. Compare the title ‘A prayer of Jesus the son of Sirach’ to Ecclus. ch. li. But the present quotation is really from Prov. xvii. 22. It is the next quotation, in l. 2186, that is from Ecclus. xxx. 25 (Vulgate), i. e. xxx. 23 in the English version. The mistake is due to misreading the original Lat. text, which quotes the passages in the reverse order, as being from ‘Jesus Sirac’ and ‘alibi.’
2187. From Prov. xxv. 20; but the clause is omitted in the modern Eng. version, though Wycliffe has it. The Vulgate has:—‘Sicut tinea uestimento, et uermis ligno: ita tristitia uiri nocet cordi.’ The words in the shepes flees (in the sheep’s fleece) are added by Chaucer, apparently by way of explanation. But the fact is that, according to Mätzner, the Fr. version here has ‘la tigne, ou lartuison, nuit a la robe,’ where artuison is the Mod. F. artison, explained by Cotgrave as ‘a kind of moth’; and I strongly suspect that ‘in the shepes flees’ is due to this ‘ou lartuison,’ which Chaucer may have misread as en la toison. It looks very like it. I point other similar mistakes further on.
Anoyeth, harms; F. nuit, L. nocet. The use of to here is well illustrated by Mätzner, who compares Wycliffe’s version of this very passage; ‘As a moghe to the cloth, and a werm to the tree, so sorewe of a man noyeth to the herte’; whereas Purvey’s later version thrice omits the to. In the Persones Tale, Group I. 847, anoyeth occurs both with to and without it.
2188.Us oghte, it would become us; oghte is in the subjunctive mood. Cf. hem oughte, it became them, in l. 2458; thee oughte, it became thee, in l. 2603.—Mr. The pres. indic. form is us oweth.
Goodes temporels; F. text, biens temporels. Chaucer uses the F. pl. in -es or -s for the adjective in other places, and the adj. then usually follows the sb. Cf. lettres capitals, capital letters, Astrolabe, i. 16. 8; weyes espirituels, spiritual ways, Pers. Tale, I. 79; goodes espirituels, id. 312; goodes temporeles, id. 685; thinges espirituels, id. 784.—Mr.
2190. See Job, i. 21. Hath wold, hath willed (it); see 2615.
2193. Quotations from Solomon and from Ecclesiasticus are frequently confused, both throughout this Tale, and elsewhere. The reference is to Ecclus. xxxii. 24, in the Vulgate (cf. A. V. xxxii. 19); here Wycliffe has:—‘Sone, withoute counseil no-thing do thou; and after thi deede thou shalt not othynke’ (i. e. of-thinke, repent).
Thou shalt never repente; here Hl. has—‘the thar neuer rewe,’ i. e. it needeth never for thee to rue it.
2202.With-holde, retained. Cf. A. 511; Havelok, 2362.—Mr.
2204.Parties, &c.; Fr. text: supporter partie.—Mr.
2205.Hool and sound; a common phrase. Cf. Rob. of Glouc. pp. 163, 402, ed. Hearne (ll. 3417, 8301, ed. Wright); King Horn, l. 1365 (in Morris’s Specimens of English); also l. 2300 below.—Mr.
2207. ‘Heal, put a stop to, war by taking vengeance; a literal and very happy translation from the French—aussi doit on guerir guerre par vengence.’—Bell. Tyrwhitt omits the words by vengeaunce, and Lounsbury (Studies in Chaucer, i. 320) defends him, arguing that ‘the physicians are represented as agreeing with the surgeons’; whereas Chaucer expressly says that ‘they seyden a fewe wordes more.’ The words ‘by vengeaunce’ are in all the seven MSS. and in the French original. Admittedly, they make nonsense, but the nonsense is expressly laid bare and exposed afterwards, when it appears that the physicians did not really add this clause, but Melibeus dreamt that they did (2465–2480). The fact is, however, that the words par vengence were wrongly interpolated in the French text. Chaucer should have omitted them, but the evidence shews that he did not. I decline to falsify the text in order to set the author right. We should then have to set the French text right also!
2209. ‘Made this matter much worse, and aggravated it.’
2210.Outrely, utterly, entirely, i. e. without reserve; Fr. text tout oultre. Not from A. S. ūtor, outer, utter, but from F. oultre, outre, moreover; of which one sense, in Godefroy, is ‘excessivement.’ See E. 335, 639, 768, 953; C. 849; &c.
2216. Fr. text—‘en telle maniere que tu soies bien pourveu d’espies et guettes.’—Mr.
2218.To moeve; Fr. text, de mouvoir guerre; cf. the Lat. phrase mouere bellum.—Mr.
2220. The Lat. text has here three phrases for Chaucer’s ‘common proverb.’ It has: ‘non enim subito uel celeriter est iudicandum, “omnia enim subita probantur incauta,” et “in iudicando criminosa est celeritas,” et “ad poenitendum properat qui cito iudicat.” ’ Of these, the first is from Cassiodorus, Variarum lib. i. c. 17; and the second and third from Publilius Syrus, Sententiae, 254 and 32 (ed. Friedrich, Berolini, 1880). For iudicando, as in some MSS., Friedrich has the variant vindicando. Cf. the Proverbs of Hending, l. 256: ‘Ofte rap reweth,’ haste often rues. See note to 2244.
2221.Men seyn; this does not necessarily mean that Chaucer is referring to a proverb. He is merely translating. The Lat. text has; ‘quare dici consueuit, Optimum iudicem existimem, qui cito intelligit et tarde iudicat.’ It also quotes two sentences (nos. 311 and 128) from Publilius Syrus: ‘Mora omnis odio est, sed facit sapientiam’; and—‘Deliberare utilia mora est tutissima.’ Mätzner points out that there are two other sentences (nos. 659 and 32) in Publilius, which come very near the expression in the text, viz. ‘Velox consilium sequitur poenitentia’; and—‘Ad poenitendum properat, qui cito iudicat.’
2223. See John, viii. 3-8. For he wroot, Hl. has ‘hem wrot,’ which is obviously wrong.
2227.Made contenaunce, made a sign, made a gesture. Among the senses of F. contenance, Cotgrave gives: ‘gesture, posture, behaviour, carriage.’
2228. Fr. text—‘qui ne scevent que querre se monte.’—Mr.
2229. ‘The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water’; Prov. xvii. 14.
2231. ‘The chylde may rue that is vnborn’; Chevy Chase, l. 9.
2235. ‘A tale out of season is as music in mourning’; Ecclus. xxii. 6.
2237. Not from ‘Solomon,’ but from ‘Jesus, son of Sirach,’ as before. The Lat. text agrees with the Vulgate version of Ecclus. xxxii. 6: ‘ubi auditus non est, ne effundas sermonem’; the E. version (verse 4) is somewhat different, viz. ‘Pour not out words where there is a musician, and shew not forth wisdom out of time.’ Chaucer gives us the same saying again in verse; see B. 3991.
2238. Lat. text: ‘semper consilium tunc deest, quando maxime opus est’; from Publilius Syrus, Sent. 594. (Read cum opus est maxime.)
2242. Cf. F. text—‘Sire, dist elle, je vous prie que vous ne vous hastez, et que vous pour tous dons me donnez espace.’—Wright.
2243.Piers Alfonce, Petrus Alfonsi. ‘Peter Alfonsus, or Alfonsi, was a converted Spanish Jew, who flourished in the twelfth century, and is well known for his Disciplina Clericalis, a collection of stories and moralisations in Latin prose, which was translated afterwards into French verse, under the title of the Chastoiement d’un pere a son fils. It was a book much in vogue among the preachers from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century.’—Wright. Tyrwhitt has a long note here; he says that a copy of this work is in MS. Bibl. Reg. 10 B. xii in the British Museum, and that there is also a copy of another work by the same author, entitled Dialogus contra Judaeos, in MS. Harl. 3861. He also remarks that the manner and style of the Disciplina Clericalis ‘show many marks of an Eastern original; and one of his stories Of a trick put upon a thief is entirely taken from the Calilah a Damnah, a celebrated collection of Oriental apologues.’ All the best fables of Alfonsus were afterwards incorporated (says Tyrwhitt) into the Gesta Romanorum. He was born at Huesca, in Arragon, in 1062, and converted to Christianity in 1106.
The words here referred to are the following: ‘Ne properes ulli reddere mutuum boni uel mali, quia diutius expectabit te amicus, et diutius timebit te inimicus’; Disc. Cler. xxv. 15; ed. F. W. V. Schmidt, Berlin, 1827, 4to., p. 71.
2244.The proverbe, &c.; not in either the Latin or the French texts. Cf. the proverb of Hending—‘ofte rap reweth,’ often haste rues it. Heywood has—‘The more haste, the worse speed’; on which Ray notes—‘Come s’ha fretta non si fa mai niente che stia bene’; Ital. Qui trop se hâte en cheminant, en beau chemin se fourvoye souvent; Fr. Qui nimis properè minus prosperè; et nimium properans serius absoluit.
‘Tarry a little, that we may make an end the sooner, was a saying of Sir Amias Paulet. Presto e bene non si conviene; Ital.’ See 2325 below, and observe that Chaucer has the same form of words in Troil. i. 956.
2247. From Ecclesiastes, vii. 28. Cf. A. 3154.
2249. From Ecclus. xxv. 30 (Vulgate): ‘Mulier, si primatum habeat, contraria est uiro suo.’ Not in the A.V.; cf. v. 22 of that version.
2250. From Ecclus. xxxiii. 20–22 (Vulgate); 19–21 (A.V.).
2251. After noght be, ed. 1550 adds—‘if I shuld be counsayled by the’; but this is redundant. See next note.
2252–3. These clauses are omitted in the MSS. and black-letter editions, but are absolutely necessary to the sense. The French text has—‘car il est escript: la jenglerie des femmes ne puet riens celer fors ce qu’elle ne scet. Apres, le philosophe dit: en mauvais conseil les femmes vainquent les hommes. Pour ces raisons, je ne doy point user de ton conseil.’ It is easy to turn this into Chaucerian English, by referring to ll. 2274, 2280 below, where the missing passage is quoted with but slight alteration.
The former clause is quoted from Marcus Annaeus Seneca, father of Seneca the philosopher, Controversiarum Lib. ii. 13. 12:—‘Garrulitas mulierum id solum nouit celare, quod nescit.’ Cf. P. Plowman, B. v. 168; xix. 157; and see the Wyf of Bathes Tale, D. 950. The second clause is from Publilius Syrus, Sent. 324:—‘Malo in consilio feminae uincunt uiros.’
2257. ‘Non est turpe cum re mutare consilium’; Seneca, De Beneficiis, iv. 38, § 1.
Maketh no lesing, telleth no lie; compare the use of lyer just above.
Turneth his corage, changes his mind. Mätzner quotes a similar phrase from Halliwell’s Dict., s. v. Torne:—
2258.Thar ye nat, it needs not that ye; i. e. you are not obliged. But yow lyke, unless you please (lit. unless it please you).
2259.Ther, where. What that him lyketh, whatever he likes.
2260.Save your grace, with the same sense as the commoner phrase ‘save your reverence.’ The Lat. text has ‘salua reuerentia tua’; which shews the original form of the phrase.
As seith the book. Here ‘the book’ probably means no more than the Latin text, which has ‘nam qui omnes despicit, omnibus displicet’; without any reference.
2261.Senek. Mätzner says this is not to be found in Seneca; in fact, the Latin text refers us to ‘Seneca, De Formula Honestae Vitae’; but Sundby has found it in Martinus Dumiensis, Formula Honestae Vitae, cap. iii. This shews that it was attributed to Seneca erroneously. Moreover, the original is more fully expressed, and runs thus—‘Nullius imprudentiam despicias; rari sermonis ipse, sed loquentium patiens auditor; seuerus non saeuus, hilares neque aspernans; sapientiae cupidus et docilis; quae scieris, sine arrogantia postulanti imperties; quae nescieris, sine occultatione ignorantiae tibi benigne postula impertiri.’ Cf. Horace, Epist. vi. 67, 68.
2265.Rather, sooner. See Mark, xvi. 9. The weakness of this argument for the goodness of woman appears by comparison with P. Plowman, C. viii. 138: ‘A synful Marye the seyh er seynt Marie thy moder,’ i.e. Christ was seen by St. Mary the sinner earlier than by St. Mary His mother, after His resurrection.
2266–9. This reappears in verse in the March. Tale, E. 2277–2290.
2269. Alluding to Matt. xix. 17; Luke xviii. 19.
2273.Or noon, or not. So elsewhere; see B. 2407, F. 778, I. 962, 963, 964.
2276. Cf. P. Plowman, C. xx. 297, on which my note is as follows. ‘Perhaps the original form of this commonly quoted proverb is this:—“Tria sunt enim quae non sinunt hominem in domo permanere; fumus, stillicidium, et mala uxor”; Innocens Papa, de Contemptu Mundi, i. 18. It is a mere compilation from Prov. x. 26, xix. 13, and xxvii. 15. Chaucer refers to it in his Tale of Melibeus, Prologue to Wife of Bathes Tale (D. 278), and Persones Tale (I. 631); see also Kemble’s Solomon and Saturn, pp. 43, 53, 63; Walter Mapes, ed. Wright, p. 83.’ Cf. Wright’s Bibliographia Britannica, Anglo-Norman Period, pp. 333, 334; Hazlitt’s Proverbs, pp. 114, 339; Ida von Düringsfeld, Sprichwörter, vol. i. sect. 303; Peter Cantor, ed. Migne, col. 331; &c. A medieval proverbial line expresses the same thus:—
‘Sunt tria dampna domus, imber, mala femina, fumus.’
2277. From Prov. xxi. 9; cf. Prov. xxv. 24. See D. 775.
2286. The Lat. text has: ‘uulgo dici consueuit, Consilium feminile nimis carum aut nimis uile.’ Cf. B. 4446, and the note.
2288. The examples of Jacob, Judith, Abigail, and Esther are again quoted, in the same order, in the March. Tale, E. 1362–74. See Gen. xxvii; Judith, xi-xiii; 1 Sam. xxv. 14; Esther, vii.
2293.Forme-fader, first father. Here forme represents the A. S. forma, first, cognate with Goth. fruma, Lat. primus. Cf. ‘Adam ure forme fader’; O. E. Homilies, ed. Morris, ii. 101; so also in Hampole, Pr. Cons. 483; Legends of the Holy Rood, ed. Morris, p. 62; Allit. Poems, A. 639.
2294.To been a man allone, for a man to be alone; for this idiom, cf. I. 456, 469, 666, 849, 935.—Mr. See Gen. ii. 18.
2296.Confusioun; see B. 4354, and the note.
2297. Lat. text:—‘quare per uersus dici consueuit:
Sundby quotes from Ebrardi Bituniensis Graecismus, cum comm. Vincentii Metulini, fol. C. 1, back—
(A better reading is Auro quid melius.)
In MS. Harl. 3362, fol. 67, as printed in Reliquiae Antiquae, i. 91, we find:—
And these lines are immediately followed by the second quotation above, with the variations ‘Auro quid melius,’ ‘Sensu quid,’ and ‘nichil’ for ‘Deus.’
2303. From Prov. xvi. 24.
2306. For the use of to with biseken, cf. 2940 below.—Mr.
2308. From Tobit, iv. 20 (Vulgate); iv. 19 (A. V.). Dresse, direct; Lat. ‘ut uias tuas dirigat.’
2309. From James, i. 5. At this point the Fr. text is much shortened, pp. 20–30 of the Latin text being omitted.
2311. Lat. text (p. 33):—‘a te atque consiliariis tuis remoueas illa tria, quae maxime sunt consilio contraria, scilicet iram, uoluptatem siue cupiditatem atque festinantiam.’
2315. Lat. text:—‘iratus semper plus putat posse facere, quam possit.’
2317. The Lat. text shews that the quotation is not from Seneca’s De Ira, but from Publilius Syrus, Sent. 281:—‘Iratus nil non criminis loquitur loco.’ Cf. D. 2005, I. 537.
2320. From 1 Tim. vi. 10. See C. 334, I. 739.
2325. Lat. ‘Ad poenitendum properat, qui cito iudicat’; from Publil. Syrus, Sent. 32. (Read cito qui.) See l. 2244 above, and the note.
2331. From Ecclus. xix. 8, 9 (A. V.).
2333. Lat. text (p. 40):—‘Et alius dixit: Vix existimes ab uno posse celari secretum.’
2334.The book. Lat. text:—‘Consilium absconditum quasi in carcere tuo est retrusum, reuelatum uero te in carcere suo tenet ligatum.’ Compare Petrus Alfonsi, Disciplina Clericalis, iv. 3. Cf. Ecclus. viii. 22 (Vulgate); viii. 19 (A. V.).
2337. Lat. text:—‘Ait enim Seneca: Si tibi ipse non imperasti, ut taceres, quomodo ab alio silentium quaeris?’ This, however, is not from Seneca, but from Martinus Dumiensis, De Moribus, Sent. 16. Sundby further quotes from Plutarch (Opera, ed. Hutten. Tubingae, 1814, vol. xiv. p. 395):—Ὅπερ ἂν σιωπα̑σθαι βούλῃ, μηδενὶ εἵπῃς· ἢ πω̑ς παρά τινος ἀπαιτήσεις τὸ πιστὸν τη̑ς σιωπη̑ς, ὃ μὴ παρέσχες σεαυτῳ̑;
2338.Plyt, plight, condition. It rimes with appetyt, E. 2336, and wyte, G. 953. It occurs again in the Complaint of Anelida, 297, and Parl. of Foules, 294; and in Troilus, ii. 712, 1738, iii. 1039. The modern spelling is wrong, as it is quite a different word from the verb to plight. See it discussed in my Etym. Dict., Errata and Addenda, p. 822.
2342.Men seyn. This does not appear to be a quotation, but a sort of proverb. The Lat. text merely says:—‘Et haec est ratio quare magnates atque potentes, si per se nesciunt, consilium bonum uix aut nunquam capere possunt.’
2348. From Prov. xxvii. 9.
2349. From Ecclus. vi. 15:—‘Amico fideli non est comparatio; et non est digna ponderatio auri et argenti contra bonitatem fidei illius.’ L. 2350 is a sort of paraphrase of the latter clause.
2351. From Ecclus. vi. 14:—‘Amicus fidelis, protectio fortis; qui autem inuenit illum, inuenit thesaurum.’ ‘He [Socrates] was wonte to saie, that there is no possession or treasure more precious then a true and an assured good frende.’—N. Udall, tr. of Erasmus’ Apophthegmes, Socrates, § 13.
2352. Cf. Prov. xxii. 17; Ecclus. ix. 14.
2354. Cf. Job xii. 12.
2355. From Cicero, De Senectute, vi. 17:—‘Non uiribus aut uelocitatibus aut celeritate corporum res magnae geruntur, sed consilio, auctoritate, sententia; quibus non modo non orbari, sed etiam augeri senectus solet.’
2357. From Ecclus. vi. 6.
2361. From Prov. xi. 14; cf. xv. 22.
2363. From Ecclus. viii. 17.
2364. Lat. text:—‘Scriptum est enim, Proprium est stultitiae aliena uitia cernere, suorum autem obliuisci.’ From Cicero, Disput. Tusc. iii. 30. 73.
2366. ‘Sic habendum est, nullam in amicitia pestem esse maiorem quam adulationem, blanditiam, assentationem’; Cicero, Laelius, xxvi. 97 [or xxv.]
2367. Lat. text:—‘In consiliis itaque et in aliis rebus non acerba uerba, sed blanda timebis.’ The last six words are from Martinus Dumiensis, De Quatuor Virtutibus Cardinalibus, cap. iii. Cf. Prov. xxviii. 23.
2368. From Prov. xxix. 5. The words in the next clause (2369) seem to be merely another rendering of the same passage.
2370. ‘Cauendum est, ne assentatoribus patefaciamus aures neue adulari nos sinamus’; Cicero, De Officiis, i. 26.
2371. From Dionysius Cato, Distich. iii. 6:—‘Sermones blandos blaesosque cauere memento.’
2373. ‘Cum inimico nemo in gratiam tuto [al. tute] redit’; Publilius Syrus, Sent. 91.
2374. Lat. text:—‘Quare Ysopus dixit:
2375. Not from Seneca, but from Publilius Syrus, Sent. 389:—‘Nunquam ubi diu fuit ignis deficit uapor’; but the MSS. differ in their readings. ‘There is no fire without some smoke’; Heywood’s Proverbs.
2376. From Ecclus. xii. 10.
2379. The passage alluded to is the following:—‘Ne te associaueris cum inimicis tuis, cum alios possis repperire socios; quae enim mala egeris notabunt, quae uero bona fuerint deuitabunt [Lat. text, deuiabunt]’; cf. Petrus Alfonsi, Disciplina Clericalis, iv. 4. The words ‘they wol perverten it’ seem to be due to the reading deuiabunt, taken to mean ‘they will turn aside,’ in a transitive sense.
2381. Lat. text (pp. 50, 51); ‘ut quidam philosophus dixit, Nemo ei satis fidus est, quem metuit.’
2382. Inexactly quoted from the Latin text, taken from Cicero, De Officiis, ii. 7:—‘Malus custos diuturnitatis est metus, contraque beniuolentia fidelis uel ad perpetuitatem . . . Nulla uis imperii tanta est, quae premente metu possit esse diuturna.’
2384. From Prov. xxxi. 4, where the Vulgate has: ‘Noli regibus, o Lamuel, noli regibus dare uinum; quia nullum secretum est ubi regnat ebrietas.’ Cf. C. 561 (and note), 585, 587.
2386.Cassidorie, Cassiodorus, who wrote in the time of Theoderic the Great, king of the Ostrogoths ( 475–526). The quotation is from his Variarum lib. x. epist. 18:—‘quia laesionis instar est occulte consulere, et aliud uelle monstrare.’ In the Latin text, cap. xxiii, the heading of the chapter is:—‘De Vitando consilium illorum, qui secreto aliud consulunt, et palam aliud seuelle ostendunt.’ Chaucer’s rendering is far from being a happy one.
2387. Cf. Prov. xii. 5; but note that the Lat. text has:—‘Malus homo a se nunquam bonum consilium refert’; which resembles Publilius Syrus, Sent. 354:—‘Malus bonum ad se nunquam consilium refert.’
2388. From Ps. i. 1.
2391.Tullius. The reference is to Cicero’s De Officiis, ii. 5, as quoted in the ‘Latin text’:—‘quid in unaquaque re uerum sincerumque sit, quid consentaneum cuique rei sit, quid consequens, ex quibus quaeque gignantur, quae cuiusque rei caussa sit.’ This is expanded in the English, down to l. 2400.
2405. For distreyneth, MS. Hl. has the corrupt reading destroyeth. The reading is settled by the lines in Chaucer’s Proverbs (see the Minor Poems, vol. i. p. 407):—
The Lat. text has: ‘Qui nimis capit parum stringit’; the Fr. text has: ‘Qui trop embrasse, pou estraint.’
2406.Catoun, Dionysius Cato; Distich. iii. 15:—
2408. The Lat. text has:—‘Ait enim Petrus Alfunsus, Si dicere metuas unde poeniteas, semper est melius non quam sic.’ From his Disciplina Clericalis, vi. 12.
2411.Defenden, forbid, i. e. advise one not to do. This passage is really a quotation from Cicero, De Officiis, i. 9:—‘Bene praecipiunt qui uetant quidquid agere, quod dubites aequum sit an iniquum.’
2413. The Lat. text has:—‘Nunc superest uidere, quando consilium uel promissum mutari possit uel debeat.’ This shews that the reading counseil, as in Hl., is correct.
2415. Lat. text:—‘Quae de nouo emergunt, nouo indigent consilio, ut leges dicunt.’
2416. Lat. text:—‘Inde et Seneca dixit, Consilium tuum si audierit hostis, consilii dispositionem permutes.’ But no such sentence has been discovered in Seneca.
2419. Lat. text:—‘Generaliter enim nouimus, Turpes stipulationes nullius esse momenti, ut leges dicunt,’ for which Sundby refers us to the Digesta, xlv. 1. 26.
2421. ‘Malum est consilium, quod mutari non potest’: Publilius Syrus, Sent. 362.
2431.First and forward; so in l. 2684. We now say ‘first and foremost.’
2436. See above, ll. 2311–2325; vol. iv. p. 208.
2438.Anientissed, annulled, annihilated, done away with. In Rom. iv. 14, where Wycliffe’s earlier text has anentyschid, the later text has distried. The Prompt. Parv. has: ‘Anyyntyschyn, or enyntyschyn, Exinanio.’ From O. F. anientiss-, pres. pt. stem of anientir, to bring to nothing, variant of anienter, a verb formed from prep. a, to, and O. F. nient (Ital. niente, mod. F. néant), nothing. The form nient answers to Lat. *ne-entem or *nec-entem, from ne, nec, not, and entem, acc. of ens, being. See the New E. Dict. Cf. anyente in P. Plowman, C. xx. 267, xxi. 389. As yow oghte, as it behoved you; Hl. as ye oughte. Both phrases occur.
2439.Talent; Fr. text, ‘ta voulonte’; i.e. your desire, wish. ‘Talent, . . . will, desire, lust, appetite, an earnest humour unto’; Cotgrave. Cf. C. 540, and l. 2441 below.
2444. This paragraph is omitted in MS. Hl.
2447.Hochepot; Hl. hochepoche, whence E. hodgepodge. From F. hochepot, ‘a hotch-pot, or gallimaufrey, a confused mingle-mangle of divers things jumbled or put together’; Cotgrave. This again is from the M. Du. hutspot, with the same sense; from hutsen, to shake, and pot. See Hotchpot in my Etym. Dict. Ther been ye condescended, and to that opinion ye have submitted.
2449.Reward, regard; for reward is merely an older spelling of ‘regard.’ So in Parl. of Foules, 426; Leg. of Good Women, 375, 399, 1622.
2454. Lat. text:—‘Humanum enim est peccare, diabolicum uero perseuerare.’ Sundby refers us to St. Chrysostom, Adhortatio ad Theodorum lapsum, I. 14 (Opera, Paris, 1718, fol.; i. 26); where we find (in the Lat. version):—‘Nam peccare quidem, humanum est; at in peccatis perseuerare, id non humanum est, sed omnino satanicum.’ It is also quoted by Vincent of Beauvais, Speculum Historiale, lib. xvii. c. 45.
2459. Lat. text:—‘ad illorum officium spectat omnibus prodesse et nulli nocere.’ This (says Sundby) is quoted from the Decretals of Gregory IX., lib. i. tit. 37. cap. 3.
2467. Cf. Lat. text:—‘scilicet Contraria contrariis curantur.’
2473. Fr. text:—‘Or veez, dist Prudence, comment un chascun croist legierement ce qu’il veut et desire!’—Mr.
2479.For good, &c., ‘namely, in the sense that good,’ &c.
2482. See Rom. xii. 17; cf. 1 Thess. v. 15; 1 Cor. iv. 12. The Lat. text quotes part of verses 17–21 of Rom. xii. But it is clear that Chaucer has altered the wording, and was thinking of 1 Pet. iii. 9.
2485. After wyse folk, Cp. inserts ‘and olde folk,’ and Ln. ‘and the olde folke.’ The Fr. text has: ‘les advocas, les sages, et les anciens.’ Ed. 1532 also inserts ‘and olde folke’; and perhaps it should be inserted.
2487.Warnestore, to supply with defensive materials, to garrison, protect; see 2521, 2523, 2525 below. ‘And wel thei were warnestured of vitailes inow’; Will. of Palerne, 1121. We also find a sb. of the same form. ‘In eche stude hii sette ther strong warnesture and god’; Rob. of Glouc. 2075 (ed. Hearne, p. 94). ‘The Sarazins kept it [a castle] that tym for ther chefe warnistour’; Rob. of Brunne, tr. of Langtoft, ed. Hearne, p. 180. ‘I will remayn quhill this warnstor be gane’; Wallace, bk. ix. l. 1200, where ed. 1648 has ‘till all the stuffe be gone.’ Correctly warnisture; a derivative of O. F. warnir, garnir, to supply (E. garnish). Godefroy gives O. F. ‘garnesture, garnisture, garniture, warnesture, s. f. provisions, ressource; authentication; garnison, forteresse’; with eight examples. Cf. E. garrison (M. E. garnison), garment (M. E. garnement), and garniture. The last of these is, in fact, nothing but the O. F. warnisture in a more modern form. Hence we obtain the sense by consulting Cotgrave, who gives: ‘Garniture, garniture, garnishment, furniture; provision, munition, store, necessary implements.’ It also appears that the word is properly a substantive, with the spelling warnisture; it became warnistore or warnestore by confusion with O. F. estor, a store; and, as the word store was easily made into a verb, it was easy to treat warnestore in the same way. It is a sb. in Rob. of Gloucester, as shewn above, but appears as a verb in Will. of Palerne. MS. Hl. has warmstore (with m for ni); and the same error is in the editions of Wright, Bell, and Morris. Ed. 1532 has warnstore.
2494. From Ps. cxxvii. 1 (cxxvi. 1, Vulgate).
2496. From Dionysius Cato, lib. iv. dist. 14:—‘Auxilium a nobis petito, si forte laboras; Nec quisquam melior medicus quam fidus amicus.’
2499.Piers Alfonce, Petrus Alfonsi, in his Disciplina Clericalis, xviii. 10:—‘Ne aggrediaris uiam cum aliquo nisi prius eum cognoueris; si quisquam ignotus tibi in uia associauerit, iterque tuum inuestigauerit, dic te uelle longius ire quam disposueris; et si detulerit lanceam, uade ad dextram; si ensem, ad sinistram.’
2505. The repetition of that before ye, following the former that before for, is due to a striving after greater clearness. It is not at all uncommon, especially in cases where the two thats are farther apart. Cf. the use of he and him in l. 2508.
Lete the keping, neglect the protection; A. S. lǣtan.
2507. ‘Beatus homo qui semper est pauidus; qui uero mentis est durae, corruet in malum’; Prov. xxviii. 14. Hence the quotation-mark follows bityde.
2509.Counterwayte embusshements, ‘be on the watch against lyings in ambush.’ ‘Contregaitier, v. act. épier, guetter de son côté; refl. se garder, se mettre en garde’; Godefroy. Three examples are given of the active use, and four of the reflexive use. Espiaille, companies of spies; it occurs again in the sense of ‘a set of spies’ in D. 1323. Mätzner well remarks that espiaille does not mean ‘spying’ or ‘watching,’ as usually explained, but is a collective sb., like O. F. rascaille, poraille, pedaille. Godefroy, in his O. F. Dict., makes the same mistake, though his own example is against him. He has: ‘Espiaille, s. f. action d’épier: Nous avons ja noveles par nos espiailles’; i. e. by means of our spies (not of our spyings). This quotation is from an A. F. proclamation made in London, July 26, 1347.
2510.Senek, Seneca; but, as before, the reference is really to the Sentences of Publilius Syrus. Of these the Lat. text quotes no less than four, viz. Nos. 542, 607, 380, and 116 (ed. Dietrich); as follows:—
2514.Senek; this again is from Publilius Syrus, Sent. 255:—‘Inimicum, quamuis humilem, docti est metuere.’
2515. The Lat. and Fr. texts both give the reference, correctly, to Ovid’s Remedia Amoris; see l. 421:—
Chaucer has here interpolated the reference to ‘the thorn pricking the king’ between his translations of these two lines. The interpolation occurs neither in the French nor in the Latin text.
Wesele, weasel. The origin of this queer mistake is easily perceived. The Fr. text has: ‘La petite vivre occist le grant torel.’ Here vivre represents Lat. uipera, a viper (cf. E. wivern); but Ch. has construed it as if it represented Lat. uiuerra, a ferret.
2518.The book. The quotation is from Seneca, Epist. 111. § 3:—‘Quidam fallere docuerunt, dum falli timent.’ (For Quidam read Nam multi). Tyrwhitt’s text is here imperfect, and he says he has patched it up as he best could; but the MSS. (except Cp. and Ln.) give a correct text.
2520. Lat. text:—‘Cum irrisore consortium non habeas; loquelae eius assiduitatem quasi toxica fugias.’ From Albertano of Brescia, who here quotes from his own work, De Arte Eloquendi, p. cviii.; according to Sundby.
2521.Warnestore, protect; see note to 2487 above, and see 2523.
2523.Swiche as han, ‘such as castles and other kinds of edifices have.’
Artelleries, missile weapons; cf. 1 Sam xx. 40, 1 Macc. vi. 51 (A.V.). ‘Artillarie now a dayes is taken for ii. thinges: Gunnes and Bowes’; Ascham, Toxophilus, ed. Arber, p. 65. In Chaucer’s time it referred to bows, crossbows, and engines for casting stones. Cotgrave explains F. artillier as ‘one that maketh both bowes and arrowes.’
2525–6. Owing to the repetition of the words grete edifices, one of the early scribes (whom others followed) passed from one to the other, thus omitting the words ‘apperteneth som tyme to pryde and eek men make heighe toures and grete edifices.’ But MSS. Cp. and Ln. supply all but the last three words ‘and grete edifices,’ and as we know that ‘grete edifices’ must recur, they really supply all but the sole word ‘and,’ which the sense absolutely requires. Curiously enough, these very MSS. omit the rest of clause 2525, so that none of the MSS. are perfect, but the text is easily pieced together. It is further verified by the Lat. text, which has:—‘Munitio turrium et aliorum altorum aedificiorum ad superbiam plerumque pertinet . . . . praeterea turres cum magno labore et infinitis expensis fiunt; et etiam cum factae fuerint, nihil ualent, nisi cum auxilio prudentium et fidelium amicorum et cum magnis expensis defendantur.’ The F. text supplies the gap with—‘appartiennent aucune fois a orgueil: apres on fait les tours et les grans edifices.’—MS. Reg. 19 C. vii. leaf 133, back. Hence there is no doubt as to the reading.
All former editions are here defective, and supply the gap with the single word is, which is found in ed. 1532.
2526.With gret costages, at great expense: Fr. text, ‘a grans despens.’
Stree, straw; MS. Hl. has the spelling straw. We find the phrase again in the Book of the Duch. 671; also ‘ne roghte of hem a stree,’ id. 887; ‘acounted nat a stree,’ id. 1237; ‘ne counted nat three strees,’ id. 718.
2530. Lat. text:—‘unum est inexpugnabile munimentum, amor ciuium.’ Not from Cicero; but from Seneca, De Clementia, i. 19. 5.
2534. ‘In omnibus autem negotiis, prius quam aggrediare, adhibenda est praeparatio diligens’; Cicero, De Officiis, i. 21.
2537. Lat. text:—‘Longa praeparatio belli celerem uictoriam facit.’ But the source is unknown; it does not seem to be in Cicero. Mätzner quotes a similar saying from Publilius Syrus, Sent. 125:—‘Diu apparandum est bellum, ut uincas celerius.’
2538. ‘Munitio quippe tunc efficitur praeualida, si diuturna fuerit excogitatione roborata’; Cassiodorus, Variarum lib. i. epist. 17.
2545.Tullius. This refers to what has already preceded in 2391–2400, the passage referred to being one from Cicero’s De Officiis, ii. 5, where we are bidden to consider several points, viz. (1) ‘quid in quaque re uerum sincerumque sit; (2) quid consentaneum cuique rei sit; (3) quid consequens; (4) ex quo quidque gignatur; (5) quae cuiusque rei caussa sit.’ All these five points are taken below in due order; viz. (1) in 2546; (2) in 2550; (3) in 2577; (4) in 2580; and (5) in 2583.
2546.Trouthe; referring to uerum in clause (1) in the last note.
2550.Consentinge; i. e. consentaneum in clause (2) in note to 2545. Cf. 2571. MS. Hl. has here the false reading couetyng, but in l. 2571 it has consentynge.
2551. Lat. text:—‘qui et quot et quales.’ Thus whiche means ‘of what sort.’ The words and whiche been they, omitted in MS. E. only, are thus seen to be necessary; cf. l. 2552, where the phrase is repeated.
2558.Cosins germayns; Lat. ‘consanguineos germanos.’ Neigh kinrede, relations near of kin; cf. ‘nis but a fer kinrede’ in 2565.
2561.Reward, regard, care; as above, in 2449; (see the note).
2565.Litel sib, slightly related; ny sib, closely related. Cf. ‘ne on his mæges láfe þe swa néah sib wǽre,’ nor with the relict of his kinsman who was so near of kin; Laws of King Cnut, § vii; in Thorpe’s Ancient Laws, i. 364.
2570.As the lawe; Sundby refers to Justinian’s Codex, VIII. iv. 1.
2573.That nay; Fr. text—‘que non.’
2577.Consequent; i. e. ‘consequens’ in clause (3), note to 2545.
2580.Engendringe; i. e. ‘ex quo quidque gignatur’ in clause (4), note to 2545.
2582. Mätzner says this is corrupt; but it is quite right, though obscure. The sense is—‘and, out of the taking of vengeance in return for that, would arise another vengeance’; &c. Engendre is here taken in the sense of ‘be engendred’ or ‘breed’; see the New E. Dict. The Fr. text is clearer: ‘de la vengence se engendrera autre vengence.’
2583.Causes; i. e. ‘caussa’ in clause (5), note to 2545.
2585. The Lat. text omits Oriens, which seems to be here used as synonymous with longinqua. ‘Caussa igitur iniuriae tibi illatae duplex fuit efficiens, scilicet remotissima et proxima.’
2588. ‘Occasio uero illius caussae, quae dicitur caussa accidentalis, fuit odium,’ &c. So below, the Lat. text has caussa materialis, caussa formalis, and caussa finalis.
2591.It letted nat, it tarried not; Lat. text, ‘nec per eos remansit.’ This intransitive use of letten is awkward and rare. It occurs again in P. Plowman, C. ii. 204, xx. 76, 331.
2594.Book of Decrees; Sundby refers us to the Decretum Gratiani; P. ii, Caussa 1, Qu. 1. c. 25:—‘uix bono peraguntur exitu, quae malo sunt inchoata principio.’
2596.Thapostle, the apostle Paul. The Lat. text refers expressly to the First Epistle to the Corinthians, meaning 1 Cor. iv. 5; but Chaucer has accommodated it to Rom. xi. 33.
2600. The Lat. text informs us that Melibeus signifies mel bibens. For similar curiosities of derivation, see note to G. 87. There was a town called Meliboea (Μελίβοια) on the E. coast of Thessaly.
2605. From Ovid, Amor. i. 8. 104:—‘Impia sub dulci melle uenena latent.’
2606. From Prov. xxv. 16.
2611.The three enemys, i. e. the flesh, the devil and the world. The entrance of these into man through the five senses is the theme of numerous homilies. See especially Sawles Warde, in O. Eng. Homilies, ed. Morris, First Series, p. 245; and the Ayenbite of Inwyt, ed. Morris, p. 263.
2614.Deedly sinnes, the Seven Deadly Sins; see the Persones Tale. Fyve wittes, five senses; cf. P. Plowman, C. ii. 15, xvi. 257.
2615.Wold, willed; pp. of willen. F. text—‘a voulu.’ See 2190 above; Leg. of Good Women, 1209; Compl. of Venus, 11; P. Plowman, B. xv. 258; Malory’s Morte Arthure, bk. xviii. c. 15—‘[he] myghte haue slayne vs and he had wold’; and again, in c. 19—‘I myght haue ben maryed and I had wolde.’ Gower has—‘if that he had wold’; Conf. Amantis, ii. 9.
2618.Falle, befall, come to pass; F. text—‘advenir.’
2620.Were, would be; F. text—‘ce seroit moult grant dommage.’
2623–4. The missing portion is easily supplied. The French text (MS. Reg. 19 C. vii, leaf 136) has:—‘Et a ce respont Dame Prudence, Certes, dist elle, Ie t’octroye que de vengence vient molt de maulx et de biens; mais vengence n’appartient pas a vn chascun, fors seulement aux iuges et a ceulx qui ont la iuridicion sur les malfaitteurs.’ Here ‘mais vengence’ should rather be ‘mais faire vengence,’ as in MS. Reg. 19 C. xi. leaf 59, back, and in the printed edition. It is clear that the omission of this passage is due to the repetition of trespassours at the end of 2622 and 2624.
2627. Lat. text—‘nam, ut ait Seneca, Bonis nocet, qui malis parcit.’ This corresponds to—‘Bonis necesse est noceat, qui parcit malis’; Pseudo-Seneca, De Moribus, Sent. 114; see Publilius Syrus, ed. Dietrich, p. 90. The Fr. text has:—‘Cellui nuit [al. nuist] aux bons, qui espargne les mauvais.’ Chaucer’s translation is so entirely at fault, that I think his MS. must have been corrupt; he has taken nuist aux as maistre, and then could make but little of espargne, which he makes to mean ‘proveth,’ i. e. tests, tries the quality of; perhaps his MS. had turned espargne (or esparne) into esprouve. MSS. Cp. Pt. Ln. turn it into reproveth; this makes better sense, but contradicts the original still more.
2628. ‘Quoniam excessus tunc sunt in formidine, cùm creduntur iudicibus displicere’; Cassiodorus, Variarum lib. i. epist. 4.
2629. Lat. text:—‘Et alibi dixit, Iudex, qui dubitat ulcisci, multos improbos facit’; slightly altered from Publ. Syrus, Sent. 526:—‘Qui ulcisci dubitat, inprobos plures facit.’
2630. From Rom. xiii. 4. For spere, as in all the copies, Chaucer should have written swerd. The Fr. text has glaive; Lat. gladium.
2632.Ye shul retourne or have your recours to the Iuge; explanatory of the F. text—‘tu recourras au iuge.’
2633.As the lawe axeth and requyreth; explanatory of the Fr. text—‘selon droit.’ For this use of axeth (= requires), cf. P. Plowman, C. i. 21, ii. 34.
2635.Many a strong pas; Fr. text—‘moult de fors pas.’ MS. Hl. has:—‘many a strayt passage.’
2638. Not from Seneca, but (as in other places where Seneca is mentioned) from Publilius Syrus, Sent. 320 (ed. Dietrich):—‘Male geritur, quicquid geritur fortunae fide.’
2640. Again from Publilius Syrus, Sent. 189 (ed. Dietrich):—‘Fortuna uitrea est; tum quum splendet frangitur.’
2642.Seur (E. sure) and siker are mere variants of the same word; the former is O. F. seur, from Lat. acc. secūrum; the latter is from Lat. sécŭrus, with a different accentuation and a shortening of the second vowel. We also have a third form, viz. secure.
2645. Again from Publ. Syrus, Sent. 173:—‘Fortuna nimium quem fouet, stultum facit.’
2650. From Rom. xii. 19; cf. Deut. xxxii. 35, Ps. xciv. 1.
2653. From Publ. Syrus, Sent. 645:—‘Veterem ferendo iniuriam inuites nouam.’
2655.Holden over lowe, esteemed too low, too lightly.
2656. From Publ. Syrus, Sent. 487:—‘Patiendo multa [al. inulta] eueniunt [al. ueniunt] quae nequeas pati.’ Mowe suffre, be able to endure. For mowe, Wright wrongly prints nowe; MS. Hl. has mowe, correctly.
2663. From Caecilii Balbi Sententiae, ed. Friedrich, 1870, no. 162:—‘Qui non corripit peccantem gnatum, peccare imperat.’
2664. ‘And the judges and sovereign lords might, each in his own land, so largely tolerate wicked men and evil-doers,’ &c. Lat. text:—‘si multa maleficia patiuntur fieri.’
2667.Let us now putte, let us suppose; Fr. text—‘posons.’ A more usual phrase is ‘putte cas,’ put the case; cf. note to 2681.
2668.As now, at present; see 2670.
2671. From Seneca, De Ira, ii. 34, § 1:—‘Cum pare contendere, anceps est; cum superiore, furiosum; cum inferiore, sordidum.’
2675. From Prov. xx. 3.
2678. From Publilius Syrus, Sent. 483:—‘Potenti irasci sibi periclum est quaerere.’
2679. From Dion. Cato, Dist. iv. 39:—
2681.Yet sette I caas, but I will suppose; Fr. text—‘posons,’ as in 2667 above.
2684.First and foreward; Fr. text—‘premierement.’ See note to 2431 above.
2685.The poete; Fr. text, ‘le poete.’ Not in the Latin text, and the source of the quotation is unknown. Cf. Luke, xxiii. 41.
2687.Seint Gregorie. Not in the Lat. text; source unknown.
2692. From 1 Pet. ii. 21.
2700. Referring to 2 Cor. iv. 17.
2702. From Prov. xix. 11, where the Vulgate has:—‘Doctrina uiri per patientiam noscitur.’
2703. From Prov. xiv. 29, where the Vulgate has:—‘Qui patiens est multa gubernatur prudentia.’
2704. From Prov. xv. 18.
2705. From Prov. xvi. 32.
2707. From James, i. 4:—‘Patientia autem opus perfectum habet.’
2713.Corage, desire, inclination; cf. E. 1254.
2715. The Fr. text is fuller: ‘et si ie fais un grant exces, car on dit que exces n’est corrige que par exces, c’est a dire que oultrage ne se corrige fors que par oultrage.’—Mr. Perhaps part of the clause has been accidentally omitted, owing to repetition of ‘exces.’
2718. ‘Quid enim discrepat a peccante, qui se per excessum nititur uindicare?’—Cassiodorus, Variarum lib. i. epist. 30.
2721. Lat. text:—‘ait enim Seneca, Nunquam scelus scelere uindicandum.’ Not from Seneca; Sundby refers us to Martinus Dumiensis, De Moribus, S. 139.
2723.Withouten intervalle . . . delay; the Fr. text merely has ‘sans intervalle.’ Chaucer explains the word intervalle.
2729. ‘Qui impatiens est sustinebit damnum’; Prov. xix. 19.
2730.Of that that, in a matter that.
2731. Lat. text (p. 95):—‘Culpa est immiscere se rei ad se non pertinenti.’ Sundby refers us to the Digesta, l. xvii. 36.
2732. From Prov. xxvi. 17.
2733.Outherwhyle, sometimes, occasionally; cf. 2857. So in Ch. tr. of Boethius, bk. iii. pr. 12. 119 (vol. ii. p. 89); P. Plowman, C. vi. 50, vii. 160, xxii. 103, &c.
2740. From Ecclesiastes, x. 19:—‘pecuniae oboediunt omnia.’
2741. All the copies have power; but, as Mätzner remarks, we should read poverte; the Fr. text has povrete.
2743.Richesses ben goode; the Lat. text here quotes 1 Tim. iv. 4.
2744. ‘Homo sine pecunia est quasi corpus sine anima’ is written on a fly-leaf of a MS.; see my Pref. to P. Plowman, C-text, p. xx.
2746. All the MSS. have Pamphilles instead of Pamphilus. The allusion is to Pamphilus Maurilianus, who wrote a poem, well-known in the fourteenth century, entitled Liber de Amore, which is extant in MSS. (e. g. in MS. Bodley 3703) and has been frequently printed. Tyrwhitt cites the lines here alluded to from the Bodley MS.
Sundby quotes the same (with ipsa for illa) from the Paris edition of 1510, fol. a iiii, recto. Chaucer again refers to Pamphilus in F. 1110, on which see the note.
2748. This quotation is not in the Latin text, and is certainly not from Pamphilus; but closely follows Ovid’s lines in his Tristia, i. 9. 5:—
See notes to B. 120 and B. 3436.
2751. Neither is this from Pamphilus, but from some author quoted by Petrus Alfonsi, Discip. Cler. vi. 4, who says:—‘ait quidam uersificator, Clarificant [al. Glorificant] gazae priuatos nobilitate.’
2752. We know, from the Lat. text, that there is here an allusion to Horace, Epist. i. 6. 37:—
‘Et genus et formam regina pecunia donat.’
2754. The Lat. text has mater criminum, and the Fr. text, mere des crimes. It is clear that Chaucer has misread ruines for crimes, or his MS. was corrupt; and he has attempted an explanation by subjoining a gloss of his own—‘that is to seyn . . . overthrowinge or fallinge doun.’ The reference is to Cassiodorus, Variarum lib. ix. epist. 13:—‘Ut dum mater criminum necessitas tollitur, peccandi ambitus auferatur.’
2756. ‘Est una de aduersitatibus huius saeculi grauioribus libero homini, quod necessitate cogitur, ut sibi subueniat, requirere inimicum’; Petrus Alfonsi, Disciplina Clericalis, iv. 4.
2758. Lat. text:—‘O miserabilis mendicantis conditio! Nam, si petit, pudore confunditur; et si non petit, egestate consumitur; sed ut mendicet necessitate compellitur’; Innocentius III (Papa), De Contemptu Mundi, lib. i. c. 16. See note to B. 99, at p. 142.
2761. ‘Melius est enim mori quam indigere’; Ecclus. xl. 29; cf. A.V., Ecclus, xl. 28. See note to B. 114, at p. 142.
2762. ‘Melior est mors quam uita amara’; Ecclus. xxx. 17. The Fr. text has:—‘Mieulx vault la mort amere que telle vie’; where, as in Chaucer, the adjective is shifted.
2765.How ye shul have you, how you ought to behave yourself. In fact, behave is merely a compound of be- and have.
2766.Sokingly, gradually. In the Prompt. Parv. we find ‘Esyly, or sokyngly, Sensim, paulatim.’ And compare the following:—‘Domitius Corbulo vsed muche to saie, that a mannes enemies in battaill are to be ouercomed (sic) with a carpenters squaring-axe, that is to saie, sokingly, one pece after another. A common axe cutteth through at the first choppe; a squaring-axe, by a little and a little, werketh the same effecte.’—Udall, tr. of Erasmus’ Apophthegmes, Julius Caesar, § 32.
2768. From Prov. xxviii. 20.
2769. From Prov. xiii. 11.
2773. Not in the Latin text.
2775. ‘Detrahere igitur alteri aliquid, et hominem hominis incommodo suum augere commodum, magis est contra naturam, quam mors, quam paupertas, quam dolor, quam cetera, quae possunt aut corpori accidere aut rebus externis’; Cicero, De Officiis, iii. 5.
2779. ‘For idleness teacheth much evil’; Ecclus. xxxiii. 27.
2780. From Prov. xxviii. 19; cf. xii. 11.
2783. Cf. Prov. xx. 4.
2784. From Dionysius Cato, Distich. i. 2:—
2785. Quoted again in G. 6, 7; see note to G. 7.
2789.Fool-large, foolishly liberal; Fr. text, ‘fol larges.’ Cf. 2810.
2790.Chincherye, miserliness, parsimony; from the adj. chinche, which occurs in 2793. Chinche, parsimonious, miserly, is the nasalised form of chiche; see Havelok, 1763, 2941; and see Chinch in the New E. Dictionary. To the examples there given add:—‘A Chinche, tenax: Chinchery, tenacitas’; Catholicon Anglicum.
2792. From Dionysius Cato, Distich. iv. 16:—
2795. From Dionysius Cato, Distich. iii. 22:—
2796.Folily, foolishly. We find M. E. folliche, both adj. and adv., and follichely, folily as adv. It is spelt folily in Wycliffe, Num. xii. 11, and in the Troy-book, 573; also folili, Will. of Palerne, 4596; folyly, Rom. of the Rose, 5942 (see the footnote).
2800.Weeldinge (so in E., other MSS. weldinge), wielding, i. e. power.
2802. Not in the Latin text.
2807. Compare Prov. xxvii. 20.
2811. ‘Quamobrem nec ita claudenda est res familiaris, ut eam benignitas aperire non possit; nec ita reseranda, ut pateat omnibus’; Cicero, De Officiis, ii. 15.
2818. See Prov. xv. 16; xvi. 8.
2820.The prophete, i. e. David; see Ps. xxxvii. 16.
2824. See 2 Cor. i. 12.
2825. ‘Riches are good unto him that hath no sin’; Ecclus. xiii. 24.
2828. From Prov. xxii. 1.
2829. The reference seems to be to Prov. xxv. 10 in the Vulgate version (not in the A. V.):—‘Gratia et amicitia liberant; quas tibi serua, ne exprobrabilis fias.’
2832. The reference is clearly to the following:—‘Est enim indigni [al. digni] animi signum, famae diligere commodum’; Cassiodorus, Variarum lib. i. epist. 4. This is quoted by Albertano (p. 120), with the reading ingenui for indigni; hence Chaucer’s ‘gentil.’ Mätzner refers us to the same, lib. v. epist. 12:—‘quia pulchrum est commodum famae.’
2833. ‘Duae res sunt conscientia et fama. Conscientia tibi, fama proximo tuo’; Augustini Opera, ed. Caillou, Paris, 1842, tom. xxi. p. 347.—Mr.
2837. Fr. text:—‘il est cruel et villain.’—Mr.
2841. Lat. text:—‘nam dixit quidam philosophus, Nemo in guerra constitutus satis diues esse potest. Quantumcunque enim sit homo diues, oportet illum, si in guerra diu perseuerauerit, aut diuitias aut guerram perdere, aut forte utrumque simul et personam.’—p. 102.
2843. See Ecclesiastes, v. 11.
2851. ‘With the God of heaven it is all one, to deliver with a great multitude, or a small company: For the victory of battle standeth not in the multitude of an host; but strength cometh from heaven.’ 1 Macc. iii. 18, 19.
2854. The gap is easily detected and filled up by comparison with the Fr. text, which Mätzner cites from Le Menagier de Paris, i. 226, thus:—‘pour ce . . . que nul n’est certain s’il est digne que Dieu lui doint victoire ne plus que il est certain se il est digne de l’amour de Dieu ou non.’ We must also compare the text from Solomon, viz. Ecclesiastes, ix. 1, as it stands in the Vulgate version.
2857.Outher-whyle, sometimes; see note to 2733.
2858.The seconde book of Kinges, i. e. Liber secundus Regum, now called ‘the second book of Samuel.’ The reference is to 2 Sam. xi. 25, where the Vulgate has: ‘uarius enim euentus est belli; nunc hunc et nunc illum consumit gladius.’ The A. V. varies.
2860.In as muchel; Fr. text:—‘tant comme il puet bonnement.’ This accounts for goodly, i. e. meetly, fitly, creditably. Cotgrave has: ‘Bonnement, well, fitly, aptly, handsomely, conveniently, orderly, to the purpose.’
2861.Salomon; rather Jesus son of Sirach. ‘He that loveth danger shall perish therein’; Ecclus. iii. 26.
2863.The werre . . nothing, ‘war does not please you at all.’
2866.Seint Iame is a curious error for Senek, Seneca. For the Fr. text has:—‘Seneque dit en ses escrips,’ according to Mätzner; and MS. Reg. 19 C. xi (leaf 63, col. 2) has ‘Seneques.’ There has clearly been confusion between Seneques and Seint iaques. Hence the use of the pl. epistles is correct. The reference is to Seneca, Epist. 94, § 46; but Seneca, after all, is merely quoting Sallust:—‘Nam concordia paruae res crescunt, discordia maximae dilabuntur’; Sallust, Jugurtha, 10.
2870. From Matt. v. 9.
2872.Brige, strife, contention; F. brigue, Low Lat. briga. ‘Brigue, s. f. . . . debate, contention, altercation, litigious wrangling about any matter’; Cotgrave. See Brigue in the New E. Dict.
2876. Here Hl. has pryde and despysing for homlinesse and dispreysinge, thus spoiling the sense. The allusion is to our common saying—Familiarity breeds contempt.
2879.Syen, saw; Cm. seyen; Ln. sawe; Cp. saugh.
2881. Lat. text (p. 107):—‘scriptum est enim, Semper ab aliis dissensio incipiat, a te autem reconciliatio.’ From Martinus Dumiensis, De Moribus, Sent. 49.
2882.The prophete, i. e. David; Ps. xxxiv. 14.
2883. The words ‘as muchel as in thee is’ are an addition, due to the Fr. text:—‘tant comme tu pourras.’—Mr.
2884. The use of to after pursue is unusual; Mätzner compares biseke to, in 2940 below and 2306 above.
2886. From Prov. xxviii. 14.
2891. Fr. text:—‘Pour ce dit le philosophe, que les troubles ne sont pas bien cler voyans.’ Cf. the Fr. proverb:—‘À l’œil malade la lumière nuit, an eie distempered cannot brook the light; sick thoughts cannot indure the truth’; Cotgrave.
2895. From Prov. xxviii. 23.
2897. This quotation is merely an expansion of the former part of Eccles. vii. 3, viz. ‘sorrow is better than laughter’; the latter part of the same verse appears in 2900, immediately below.
2901.I shal not conne answere, I shall not be able to answer; Fr. text:—‘ie ne sauroie respondre.’—Mr.
2909. From Prov. xvi. 7.
2915. Fr. text:—‘ie met tout mon fait en vostre disposition.’—Mr.
2925. Referring to Ps. xx. 4 (Vulgate)—‘in benedictionibus dulce-dinis’; A. V.—‘with the blessings of goodness,’ Ps. xxi. 3.
2930. From Ecclus. vi. 5:—‘Verbum dulce multiplicat amicos, et mitigat inimicos.’ The A. V. omits the latter clause, having only:—‘Sweet language will multiply friends.’
2931. Fr. text:—‘nous mettons nostre fait en vostre bonne voulente.’—Mr.
2936.Hise amendes, i.e. amends to him. For hise or his, Cp. Ln. have him, which is a more usual construction. Cf. ‘What shall be thy amends For thy neglect of truth?’ Shak., Sonnet 101. ‘If I have wronged thee, seek thy mends at the law’; Greene, Looking-Glass for London, ed. Dyce, 1883, p. 122.
2940.Biseke to; so in 2306; see note to 2884.
2945. From Ecclus. xxxiii. 18, 19:—‘Hear me, O ye great men of the people, and hearken with your ears, ye rulers of the congregation: Give not thy son and wife, thy brother and friend, power over thee while thou livest.’
2965. Not from Seneca, but from Martinus Dumiensis, De Moribus, S. 94 (Sundby). The Lat. text has:—‘ubi est confessio, ibi est remissio.’
2967. Neither is this from Seneca, but from the same source as before. The Lat. text has:—‘Proximum ad innocentiam locum tenet uerecundia peccati et confessio.’
2973. Lat. text:—‘Nihil enim tam naturale est, quam aliquid dissolui eo genere, quo colligatum est.’ From the Digesta, lib. xvii. 35.
2984. Lat. text:—‘Semper audiui dici, Quod bene potes facere, noli differre.’ Fr. text:—‘Le bien que tu peus faire au matin, n’attens pas le soir ne l’endemain.’
2986.Messages, messengers; Cp. messagers; Hl. messageres. See B. 144, 333. In 2992, 2995, we have the form messagers.
2997.Borwes, sureties; as in P. Plowman, C. v. 85. In 3018 it seems to mean ‘pledges’ rather than ‘sureties.’
3028.A coveitous name, a reputation for covetousness.
3030. From 1 Tim. vi. 10. See C. 334.
3032. Lat. text (p. 120):—‘Scriptum est enim, Mallem perdidisse quam turpiter accepisse.’ This is from Publilius Syrus, Sent. 479:—
‘Perdidisse ad assem mallem, quam accepisse turpiter.’
3036. Also from P. Syrus, Sent. 293:—
‘Laus noua nisi oritur, etiam uetus amittitur.’
3040. For ‘it is writen,’ the Fr. text has ‘le droit dit.’ This indicates the source. The Lat. text has:—‘priuilegium meretur amittere, qui concessa sibi abutitur potestate.’ This Sundby traces to the Decretalia Gregorii IX., iii. 31. 18.
3042.Which I trowe . . do; Lat. ‘quod non concedo.’
3045.Ye moste . . curteisly; Lat. ‘remissius imperare oportet.’
3047. Lat. text:—‘Remissius imperanti melius paretur’; from Seneca, De Clementia, i. 24. 1.
3049. ‘Ait enim Seneca’; the Lat. text then quotes from Publilius Syrus, Sent. 64:—‘Bis uincit, qui se uincit in uictoria.’
3050. Lat. text:—‘Nihil est laudabilius, nihil magno et praeclaro uiro dignius, placabilitate atque clementia.’ From Cicero, De Officiis, i. 25. 88.
3054.Of mercy, i.e. on account of your mercy.
3056. ‘Male uincit iam quem poenitet uictoriae’; Publilius Syrus, Sent. 366. Attributed to Seneca in the Latin text.
3059. From James, ii. 13.
3066.Unconninge, ignorance; cf. Ayenbite of Inwyt, p. 131; Prick of Conscience, l. 169.
3067.Misborn, borne amiss, misconducted. See Life of Beket, l. 1248.
The Monk’s Prologue.
3079. The tale of Melibee (as told above) is about a certain Melibeus and his wife Prudence, who had a daughter called Sophie. One day, while Melibeus is absent, three of his enemies break into his house, beat his wife, and wound his daughter. On returning, he takes counsel as to what must be done. He is for planning a method of revenge, but his wife advises him to forgive the injuries, and in the end her counsels prevail.
3082.corpus Madrian, body of Madrian: which has been interpreted in two ways. Urry guessed it to refer to St. Materne, bishop of Treves, variously commemorated on the 14th, 19th, or 25th of September, the days of his translations being July 18 and October 23. Mr. Steevens suggested, in a note printed in Tyrwhitt’s Glossary, that the ‘precious body’ was that of St. Mathurin, priest and confessor, commemorated on Nov. 1 or Nov. 9. The latter is more likely, since in his story in the Golden Legende, edit. 1527, leaf 151 back, the expressions ‘the precious body’ and ‘the holy body’ occur, and the story explains that his body would not stay in the earth till it was carried back to France, where he had given directions that it should be buried.
3083. ‘Rather than have a barrel of ale, would I that my dear good wife had heard this story.’ Cf. morsel breed, B. 3624.
lief is not a proper name, as has been suggested, I believe, by some one ignorant of early English idiom. Cf. ‘Dear my lord,’ Jul. Caesar, ii. 1. 255; and other instances in Abbott’s Shakesp. Grammar, sect. 13.
3101. ‘Who is willing (or who suffers himself) to be overborne by everybody.’
3108.neighëbor, three syllables; thannè, two syllables.
3112. Observe the curious use of seith for misseith.
3114.Monk. See him described in the Prologue, A. 165.
3116.Rouchester. The MSS. have Rouchester, (Hl. Rowchestre), shewing that Lo stands alone in the first foot of the line. Tyrwhitt changed stant into stondeth, but all our seven MSS. have stant.
According to the arrangement of the tales in Tyrwhitt’s edition, the pilgrims reach Rochester after coming to Sittingborne (mentioned in the Wife of Bath’s Prologue), though the latter is some eleven miles nearer Canterbury. The present arrangement of the Groups remedies this. See note to B. 1165, at p. 165.
3117.Ryd forth, ride forward, draw near us.
3119.Wher, whether. dan, for Dominus, a title of respect commonly used in addressing monks. But Chaucer even uses it of Arcite, in the Knightes Tale, and of Cupid, Ho. Fame, 137.
3120. The monk’s name was Piers. See B. 3982, and the note.
3124. Cf. ‘He was not pale as a for-pyned goost’; Prol. A. 205. Jean de Meun says, in his Testament, l. 1073, that the friars have good pastures (il ont bonnes pastures).
3127.as to my doom, in my judgment.
3130. Scan the line—Bút a góvernoúr wylý and wýs. The Petworth MS. inserts ‘boþ’ before ‘wyly’: but this requires the very unlikely accentuation ‘govérnour’ and an emphasis on a. The line would scan better if we might insert art, or lyk, after But, but there is no authority for this.
3132. Read—A wél-faríng persónë, after which comes the pause, as marked in E. and Hn.
3139. The monk’s semi-cope, which seems to have been an ample one, is mentioned in the Prologue, A. 262. In Jack Upland, § 4, a friar is asked what is signified by his ‘wide cope.’
3142. ‘Shaven very high on his crown’; alluding to the tonsure.
3144.the corn, i. e. the chief part or share.
3145.borel men, lay-men. Borel means ‘rude, unlearned, ignorant,’ and seems to have arisen from a peculiar use of borel or burel, sb., a coarse cloth; so that its original sense, as an adj., was ‘in coarse clothing,’ or ‘rudely clad.’ See borrel and burel in the New Eng. Dictionary.
shrimpes, diminutive or poor creatures.
3146.wrecched impes, poor grafts, weakly shoots. Cf. A. S. impian, to graft, imp, a graft; borrowed from Low Lat. impotus, a graft, from Gk. ἔμϕυτος, engrafted.
3152.lussheburghes, light coins. In P. Plowman, B. xv. 342, we are told that ‘in Lussheborwes is a lyther alay (bad alloy), and yet loketh he lyke a sterlynge.’ They were spurious coins imported into England from Luxembourg, whence the name. See Liber Albus, ed. Riley, 1841, p. 495; and Blount’s Nomolexicon. Luxembourg is called Lusscheburghe in the Allit. Morte Arthure, l. 2388. The importation of this false money was frequently forbidden, viz. in 1347, 1348, and 1351.
3157.souneth into, tends to, is consistent with; see Prol. A. 307, and Sq. Ta., F. 517. The following extracts from Palsgrave’s French Dictionary are to the point. ‘I sownde, I appartayne or belong, Ie tens. Thys thyng sowndeth to a good purpose, Ceste chose tent a bonne fin.’ Also, ‘I sownde, as a tale or a report sowndeth to ones honesty or dyshonesty, Ie redonde. I promise you that this matter sowndeth moche to your dishonoure, Ie vous promets que ceste matyere redonde fort a votre deshonneur.’
3160.Seint Edward. There are two of the name, viz. Edward, king and martyr, commemorated on March 16, 18, or 19, and the second King Edward, best known as Edward the Confessor, commemorated on Jan. 5. In Piers the Plowman, B. xv. 217, we have—
But Edward the Confessor is certainly meant; and there is a remarkable story about him that he was ‘warned of hys death certain dayes before hee dyed, by a ring that was brought to him by certain pilgrims coming from Hierusalem, which ring hee hadde secretly given to a poore man that askyd hys charitie in the name of God and sainte Johan the Evangelist.’ See Mr. Wright’s description of Ludlow Church, where are some remains of a stained glass window representing this story, in the eastern wall of the chapel of St. John. See also Chambers, Book of Days, i. 53, 54, where we read—‘The sculptures upon the frieze of the present shrine (in Westminster Abbey) represent fourteen scenes in the life of Edward the Confessor. . . . He was canonized by Pope Alexander about a century after his death. . . . He was esteemed the patron-saint of England until superseded in the thirteenth century by St. George.’ These fourteen scenes are fully described in Brayley’s Hist. of Westminster Abbey, in an account which is chiefly taken from a life of St. Edward written by Ailred of Rievaulx in 1163. Three ‘Lives of Edward the Confessor’ were edited, for the Master of the Rolls, by Mr. Luard in 1858. See Morley’s Eng. Writers, 1888, ii. 375.
3162.celle, cell. The monk calls it his cell because he was ‘the keper’ of it; Prol. 172.
3163.Tragédie; the final ie might be slurred over before is, in which case we might read for to for to (see footnote); but it is needless. The definition of ‘tragedy’ here given is repeated from Chaucer’s own translation of Boethius, which contains the remark—‘Glose. Tragedie is to seyn, a ditee [ditty] of a prosperitee for a tyme, that endeth in wrecchednesse’; bk. ii. pr. 2. 51. This remark is Chaucer’s own, as the word Glose marks his addition to, or gloss upon, his original. His remark refers to a passage in Boethius immediately preceding, viz. ‘Quid tragoediarum clamor aliud deflet, nisi indiscreto ictu fortunam felicia regna uertentem?’ De Consolatione Philosophiae, lib. ii. prosa 2. See also the last stanza of ‘Cresus’ in the Monkes Tale (vol. i. p. 268).
3169.exametron, hexameter. Chaucer is speaking of Latin, not of English verse; and refers to the common Latin hexameter used in heroic verse; he would especially be thinking of the Thebaid of Statius, the Metamorphoseon Liber of Ovid, the Aeneid of Vergil, and Lucan’s Pharsalia. This we could easily have guessed, but Chaucer has himself told us what was in his thoughts. For near the conclusion of his Troilus and Criseyde, which he calls a tragedie, he says—
Lucan is expressly cited in B. 401, 3909.
3170.In prose. For example, Boccaccio’s De Casibus Virorum and De Claris Mulieribus contain ‘tragedies’ in Latin prose. Cf. ll. 3655, 3910.
3171.in metre. For example, the tragedies of Seneca are in various metres, chiefly iambic. See also note to l. 3285.
3177.After hir ages, according to their periods; in chronological order. The probable allusion is to Boccaccio’s De Casibus Virorum, which begins with Adam and Nimrod, and keeps tolerably to the right order. For further remarks on this, shewing how Chaucer altered the order of these Tragedies in the course of revision, see vol. iii. p. 428.
The Monkes Tale.
For some account of this Tale, see vol. iii. p. 427.
3181.Tragédie; accented on the second syllable, and riming with remédie; cf. B. 3163. Very near the end of Troilus and Criseyde, we find Chaucer riming it with comédie. That poem he also calls a tragedie (v. 1786)—
‘Go, litel book, go, litel myn tragédie,’ &c.
3183.fillen, fell. nas no, for ne was no, a double negative. Cf. Ch. tr. of Boethius—‘the olde age of tyme passed, and eek of present tyme now, is ful of ensaumples how that kinges ben chaunged in-to wrecchednesse out of hir welefulnesse’; bk. iii. pr. 5. 3.
3186. The Harl. MS. has—‘Ther may no man the cours of hir whiel holde,’ which Mr. Wright prefers. But the reading of the Six-text is well enough here; for in the preceding line Chaucer is speaking of Fortune under the image of a person fleeing away, to which he adds, that no one can stay her course. Fortune is also sometimes represented as stationary, and holding an ever-turning wheel, as in the Book of the Duchesse, 643; but that is another picture.
3188.Be war by, take warning from.
3189.Lucifer, a Latin name signifying light-bringer, and properly applied to the morning-star. In Isaiah xiv. 12 the Vulgate has—‘Quomodo cecidisti de caelo, Lucifer, qui mane oriebaris? corruisti in terram, qui uulnerabas gentes?’ &c. St. Jerome, Tertullian, St. Gregory, and other fathers, supposed this passage to apply to the fall of Satan. It became a favourite topic for writers both in prose and verse, and the allusions to it are innumerable. See note to Piers the Plowman, B. i. 105 (Clar. Press Series). Gower begins his eighth book of the Confessio Amantis with the examples of Lucifer and Adam.
Sandras, in his Étude sur Chaucer, p. 248, quotes some French lines from a ‘Volucraire,’ which closely agree with this first stanza. But it is a common theme.
3192.sinne, the sin of pride, as in all the accounts; probably from 1 Tim. iii. 6. Thus Gower, Conf. Amant. lib. i. (ed. Pauli, i. 153):—
3195.artow, art thou. Sathanas, Satan. The Hebrew sâiân means simply an adversary, as in 1 Sam. xxix. 4; 2 Sam. xix. 22; &c. A remarkable application of it to the evil spirit is in Luke x. 18. Milton also indentifies Lucifer with Satan; Par. Lost, vii. 131; x. 425; but they are sometimes distinguished, and made the names of two different spirits. See, for example, Piers Plowman, B. xviii. 270–283.
3196. Read misérie, after which follows the metrical pause.
3197. Boccaccio’s De Casibus Virorum Illustrium begins with a chapter ‘De Adam et Eua.’ It contains the passage—‘Et ex agro, qui postea Damascenus, . . . ductus in Paradisum deliciarum.’ Lydgate, in his Fall of Princes (fol. a 5), has—
The notion of the creation of Adam in a field whereupon afterwards stood Damascus, occurs in Peter Comestor’s Historia Scholastica, where we find (ed. 1526, fol. vii)—‘Quasi quereret aliquis, Remansit homo in loco vbi factus est, in agro scilicet damasceno? Non. Vbi ergo translatus est? In paradisum.’ See also Maundeville’s Travels, cap. xv; Genesis and Exodus, ed. Morris, l. 207; and note in Mätzner’s Altenglische Sprachproben, ii. 185.
3199. Cf. ‘Formatus est homo . . de spurcissimo spermate’; Innocent III., De Miseria Conditionis Humanae, i. 1 (Köppel).
3200. So Boccaccio—‘O caeca rerum cupiditas! Hii, quibus rerum cinnium, dante Deo, erat imperium,’ &c. Cf. Gen. i. 29; ii. 16.
3205. The story of Sampson is also in Boccaccio, lib. i. c. 17 (not 19, as Tyrwhitt says). But Chaucer seems mostly to have followed the account in Judges, xiii-xvi. The word annunciat, referring to the announcement of Samson’s birth by the angel (Judges xiii. 3), may have been suggested by Boccaccio, whose account begins—‘Praenunciante per angelum Deo, ex Manue Israhelita quodam et pulcherrima eius vxore Sanson progenitus est.’ thangel in l. 3206=the angel.
3207.consecrat, consecrated. A good example of the use of the ending -at; cf. situate for situated.—M. Shakespeare has consecrate; Com. of. Err. ii. 2. 134.
3208.whyl he mighte see, as long as he preserved his eyesight.
3210.To speke of strengthe, with regard to strength; to speke of is a kind of preposition.—M. Cf. Milton’s Samson Agonistes, 126–150.
3211.wyves. Samson told the secret of his riddle to his wife, Judges xiv. 17; and of his strength to Delilah, id. xvi. 17.
3215.al to-rente, completely rent in twain. The prefix to- has two powers in Old English. Sometimes it is the preposition to in composition, as in towards, or M. E. to-flight (G. zuflucht), a refuge. But more commonly it is a prefix signifying in twain, spelt zer- in German, and dis- in Mœso-Gothic and Latin. Thus to-rente=rent in twain; to-brast=burst in twain, &c. The intensive adverb al, utterly, was used not merely (as is commonly supposed) before verbs beginning with to-, but in other cases also. Thus, in William of Palerne, l. 872, we find—‘He was al a-wondred,’ where al precedes the intensive prefix a-=A. S. of. Again, in the same poem, l. 661, we have—‘al bi-weped for wo,’ where al now precedes the prefix bi-. In Barbour’s Bruce, ed. Skeat, x. 596, is the expression—
Where al to-fruschit means utterly broken in pieces. Perhaps the clearest example of the complete separability of al from to is seen in l. 3884 of William of Palerne;—
‘Al to-tare his atir· þat he to-tere miȝt’;
i. e. he entirely tore apart his attire, as much of it as he could tear apart. But at a later period of English, when the prefix to- was less understood, a new and mistaken notion arose of regarding al to as a separable prefix, with the sense of all to pieces. I have observed no instance of this use earlier than the reign of Henry VIII. Thus Surrey, Sonnet 9, has ‘al-to shaken’ for shaken to pieces. Latimer has—‘they love and al-to love (i. e. entirely love) him’; Serm. p. 289. For other examples, see Al-to in the Bible Word-book; and my notes in Notes and Queries, 3 Ser. xii. 464, 535; also All, § C. 15, in the New E. Dict.
3220. Samson’s wife was given to a friend; Judges, xiv. 20. She was afterwards burnt by her own people; Judges, xv. 6.
3224.on every tayl; one brand being fastened to the tails of two foxes; Judg. xv. 4.
3225.cornes. The Vulgate has segetes and fruges; also uineas for vynes, and cliueta for oliveres. The plural form cornes is not uncommon in Early English. Cf. ‘Quen thair corns war in don,’ i. e. when their harvests were gathered in; Spec. of Eng. pt. ii. ed. Morris and Skeat, p. 70, l. 39. And again, ‘alle men-sleeris and brenneris of houses and cornes [misprinted corves] ben cursed opynly in parische chirches’; Wyclif’s Works, ed. Arnold, iii. 329.
3234.wang-toth, molar tooth. This expression is taken from the Vulgate, which has—‘Aperuit itaque Dominus molarem dentem in maxilla asini’; where the A. V. has only—‘an hollow place that was in the jaw’; Judg. xv. 19.
3236.Judicum, i. e. Liber Judicum, the Book of Judges. Cf. note to B. 93, at p. 141.
3237.Gazan, a corruption of Gazam, the acc. case, in Judg. xvi. 1, Vulgate version.
3244.ne hadde been, there would not have been. Since hadde is here the subjunctive mood, it is dissyllabic. Read—worldë n’ haddë.
3245.sicer, from the Lat. sicera, Greek σίκερα, strong drink, is the word which we now spell cider; see Wyclif’s Works, ed. Arnold, i. 363, note. It is used here because found in the Vulgate version of Judges xiii. 7; ‘caue ne uinum bibas, nec siceram.’ I slightly amend the spelling of the MSS., which have ciser, siser, sythir, cyder. Wyclif has sither, cyther, sidir, sydur.
3249.twenty winter, twenty years; Judg. xvi. 31. The English used to reckon formerly by winters instead of years; as may be seen in a great many passages in the A. S. Chronicle.
3253.Dalida; from Gk. Δαλιδά, in the Septuagint. The Vulgate has Dalila; but Chaucer (or his scribes) naturally adopted a form which seemed to have a nearer resemblance to an accusative case, such being, at that time, the usual practice; cf. Briseide (from Briseida), Criseyde and Anelida. Lydgate also uses the form Dalida.
3259.in this array, in this (defenceless) condition.
3264.querne, hand-mill. The Vulgate has—‘et clausum in carcere molere fecerunt’; Judg. xvi. 21. But Boccaccio says—‘ad molas manuarias coegere.’ The word occurs in the House of Fame, 1798; and in Wyclif’s Bible, Exod. xi. 5; Mat. xxiv. 41. In the Ayenbite of Inwyt, ed. Morris, p. 181, the story of Samson is alluded to, and it is said of him that he ‘uil [fell] into þe honden of his yuo [foes], þet him deden grinde ate querne ssamuolliche,’ i. e. who made him grind at the mill shamefully (in a shameful manner). Lydgate copies Chaucer rather closely, in his Fall of Princes, fol. e 7:—
3269.Thende, the end. Caytif means (1) a captive, (2) a wretch. It is therefore used here very justly.
3274.two pilers, better than the reading the pilers of MS. E.; because two are expressly mentioned; Judg. xvi. 29.
3282. So Boccaccio—‘Sic aduersa credulitas, sic amantis pietas, sic mulieris egit inclyta fides. Vt quem non poterant homines, non uincula, non ferrum uincere, a mulieribus latrunculis uinceretur.’ Lydgate has the expressions—
3285. There is little about Hercules in Boccaccio; but Chaucer’s favourite author, Ovid, has his story in the Metamorphoses, book ix, and Heroides, epist. 9. Tyrwhitt, however, has shewn that Chaucer more immediately copies a passage in Boethius, de Cons. Phil. lib. iv. met. 7, which is as follows:—
But it is still more interesting to see Chaucer’s own version of this passage, which is as follows (ed. Morris, p. 147; cf. vol. ii. p. 125):—
‘Hercules is celebrable for his harde trauaile; he dawntede þe proude Centauris, half hors, half man; and he rafte þe despoylynge fro þe cruel lyoun; þat is to seyne, he slouȝ þe lyoun and rafte hym hys skyn. He smot þe birds þat hyȝten arpijs in þe palude of lyrne wiþ certeyne arwes. He rauyssede applis fro þe wakyng dragoun, & hys hand was þe more heuy for þe goldene metal. He drouȝ Cerberus þe hound of helle by his treble cheyne; he, ouer-comer, as it is seid, haþ put an vnmeke lorde fodre to his cruel hors; þis is to sein, þat hercules slouȝ diomedes and made his hors to etyn hym. And he, hercules, slouȝ Idra þe serpent & brende þe venym; and achelaus þe flode, defoulede in his forhede, dreinte his shamefast visage in his strondes; þis is to seyn, þat achelaus couþe transfigure hymself into dyuerse lykenesse, & as he fauȝt wiþ ercules, at þe laste he turnide hym in-to a bole [bull]; and hercules brak of oon of hys hornes, & achelaus for shame hidde hym in hys ryuer. And he, hercules, caste adoun Antheus þe geaunt in þe strondes of libye; & kacus apaisede þe wraþþes of euander; þis is to sein, þat hercules slouȝ þe monstre kacus & apaisede wiþ þat deeþ þe wraþþe of euander. And þe bristlede boor markede wiþ scomes [scums, foam] þe sholdres of hercules, þe whiche sholdres þe heye cercle of heuene sholde þreste [was to rest upon]. And þe laste of his labours was, þat he sustenede þe heuene upon his nekke unbowed; & he deseruede eftsones þe heuene, to ben þe pris of his laste trauayle.’
And in his House of Fame, book iii. (l. 1413), he mentions—
3288. Hercules’ first labour was the slaying of the Nemean lion, whose skin he often afterwards wore.
3289.Centauros; this is the very form used by Boethius, else we might have expected Centaurus or Centaures. After the destruction of the Erymanthian boar, Hercules slew Pholus the centaur; and (by accident) Chiron. His slaughter of the centaur Nessus ultimately brought about his own death; cf. l. 3318.
3290.Arpies, harpies. The sixth labour was the destruction of the Stymphalian birds, who ate human flesh.
3291. The eleventh labour was the fetching of the golden apples, guarded by the dragon Ladon, from the garden of the Hesperides.
3292. The twelfth labour was the bringing of Cerberus from the lower world.
3293.Busirus. Here Chaucer has confused two stories. One is, that Busiris, a king of Egypt, used to sacrifice all foreigners who came to Egypt, till the arrival of Hercules, who slew him. The other is ‘the eighth labour,’ when Hercules killed Diomedes, a king in Thrace, who fed his mares with human flesh, till Hercules slew him and gave his body to be eaten by the mares, as Chaucer himself says in his translation. The confusion was easy, because the story of Busiris is mentioned elsewhere by Boethius, bk. ii. pr. 6, in a passage which Chaucer thus translates (see vol. ii. p. 43):—‘I have herd told of Busirides, þat was wont to sleen his gestes [guests] þat herberweden [lodged] in his hous; and he was sleyn him-self of Ercules þat was his gest.’ Lydgate tells the story of Busiris correctly.
3295.serpent, i.e. the Lernean hydra, whom Chaucer, in the passage from Boethius, calls ‘Idra [or Ydra] the serpent.’
3296.Achelois, seems to be used here as a genitive form from a nominative Achelo; in his translation of Boethius we find Achelous and Achelaus. The spelling of names by old authors is often vague. The line means—he broke one of the two horns of Achelous. The river-god Achelous, in his fight with Hercules, took the form of a bull, whereupon the hero broke off one of his horns.
3297. The adventures with Cacus and Antaeus are well known.
3299. The fourth labour was the destruction of the Erymanthian boar.
3300.longe, for a long time; in the margin of MS. Camb. Univ. Lib. Dd. 4. 24, is written the gloss diu.
3307. The allusion is to the ‘pillars’ of Hercules. The expression ‘both ends of the world’ refers to the extreme points of the continents of Europe and Africa, world standing here for continent. The story is that Hercules erected two pillars, Calpe and Abyla, on the two sides of the Strait of Gibraltar. The words ‘seith Trophee’ seem to refer to an author named Trophaeus. In Lydgate’s prologue to his Fall of Princes, st. 41, he says of Chaucer that—
This seems to say that Trophe was the Italian name of a Book (or otherwise, the name of a book in Italian), whence Chaucer drew his story of Troilus. But the notion must be due to some mistake, since that work was taken from the ‘Filostrato’ of Boccaccio. The only trace of the name of Trophaeus as an author is in a marginal note—possibly Chaucer’s own—which appears in both the Ellesmere and Hengwrt MSS., viz. ‘Ille vates Chaldeorum Tropheus.’ See, however, vol. ii. p. lv, where I shew that, in this passage at any rate, Trophee really refers to Guido delle Colonne, who treats of the deeds of Hercules in the first book of his Historia Troiana, and makes particular mention of the famous columns (as to which Ovid and Boethius are alike silent).
3311.thise clerkes, meaning probably Ovid and Boccaccio. See Ovid’s Heroides, epist. ix., entitled Deianira Herculi, and Metamorph. lib. ix.; Boccaccio, De Casibus Virorum Illustrium, lib. i. cap. xviii., and De Mulieribus Claris, cap. xxii. See also the Trachineae of Sophocles, which Chaucer of course never read.
3315.wered, worn; so in A. 75, and B. 3320, wered is the form of the past tense. Instances of verbs with weak preterites in Chaucer, but strong ones in modern English, are rare indeed; but there are several instances of the contrary, e. g. wep, slep, wesh, wex, now wept, slept, washed, waxed. Wore is due to analogy with bore; cf. could for coud.
3317. Both Ovid and Boccaccio represent Deianira as ignorant of the fatal effects which the shirt would produce. See Ovid, Metam. ix. 133. Had Chaucer written later, he might have included Gower among the clerks, as the latter gives the story of Hercules and Deianira in his Conf. Amantis, lib. ii. (ed. Pauli, i. 236), following Ovid. Thus he says—
3326. For long upbraidings of Fortune, see The Boke of the Duchesse, 617; Rom. Rose, 5407; Boethius, bk. i. met. 5; &c.
3335.Nabugodonosor; generally spelt Nabuchodonosor in copies of the Vulgate, of which this other spelling is a mere variation. Gower has the same spelling as Chaucer, and relates the story near the end of book i. of the Conf. Amantis (ed. Pauli, i. 136). Both no doubt took it directly from Daniel i-iv.
3338.The vessel is here an imitation of the French idiom; F. vaisselle means the plate, as Mr. Jephson well observes. Cf. l. 3494.
3349. In the word statue the second syllable is rapidly slurred over, like that in glorie in l. 3340. See the same effect in the Kn. Tale, ll. 117, 1097 (A. 975, 1955).
3356.tweye, two; a strange error for three, whose names are familiar; viz. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
3373.Balthasar; so spelt by Boccaccio, who relates the story very briefly, De Cas. Virorum Illust., lib. ii. cap. 19. So also, by Peter Comestor, in his Historia Scholastica; and by Gower, Conf. Amant., lib. v (ed. Pauli, ii. 365). The Vulgate generally has Baltassar; Daniel, cap. v.
3379.and ther he lay; cf. l. 3275 above.
3384. The word tho is supplied for the metre. The scribes have considered vesselles (sic) as a trisyllable; but see ll. 3391, 3416, 3418.
3388.Of, for. Cf. ‘thank God of al,’ i. e. for all; in Chaucer’s Balade of Truth.—M. See note in vol. i. pp. 552–3.
3422. Tyrwhitt has trusteth, in the plural, but thou is used throughout. Elsewhere Chaucer also has ‘on whom we truste,’ Prol. A. 501; ‘truste on fortune,’ B. 3326; cf. ‘syker on to trosten,’ P. Pl. Crede, l. 350.
3427.Dárius, so accented. degree, rank, position.
3429–36. I have no doubt that this stanza was a later addition.
3436.proverbe. The allusion is, in the first place, to Boethius, de Cons. Phil., bk. iii. pr. 5—‘Sed quem felicitas amicum fecit, infortunium faciet inimicum’; which Chaucer translates—‘Certes, swiche folk as weleful fortune maketh freendes, contrarious fortune maketh hem enemys’; see vol. ii. p. 63. Cf. Prov. xix. 4—‘Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbour,’ &c. So also—‘If thou be brought low, he [i. e. thy friend] will be against thee, and will hide himself from thy face’; Ecclus. vi. 12. In Hazlitt’s Collection of English Proverbs, p. 235, we find—
See also note to l. 120 above; and, not to multiply instances, note st. 19 of Goldsmith’s Hermit:—
3437.Cenobia. The story of Zenobia is told by Trebellius Pollio, who flourished under Constantine, in cap. xxix. of his work entitled Triginta Tyranni; but Chaucer no doubt followed later accounts, one of which was clearly that given by Boccaccio in his De Mulieribus Claris, cap. xcviii. Boccaccio relates her story again in his De Casibus Virorum, lib. viii. c. 6; in an edition of which, printed in 1544, I find references to the biography of Aurelian by Flavius Vopiscus, to the history of Orosius, lib. vii. cap. 23, and to Baptista Fulgosius, lib. iv. cap. 3. See, in particular, chap. xi. of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, where the story of Zenobia is given at length. Palmyra is described by Pliny, Nat. Hist. lib. v. cap. 21. Zenobia’s ambition tempted her to endeavour to make herself a Queen of the East, instead of remaining merely Queen of Palmyra; but she was defeated by the Roman emperor Aurelian, 273, and carried to Rome, where she graced his triumph, 274. She survived this reverse of fortune for some years.
Palimerie. Such is the spelling in the best MSS.; but MS. Hl. reads—‘of Palmire the queene.’ It is remarkable that MS. Trin. Coll. Cam. R. 3. 19 has the reading—‘Cenobia, of Belmary quene,’ which suggests confusion with Belmarie, in the Prol. A. 57; but see the note to that line. It occupied the site of the ancient Tadmor, or ‘city of palmtrees,’ in an oasis of the Great Syrian desert. It has been in ruins since about 1400.
3441. In the second ne in, the e is slurred over; cf. nin, Sq. Ta., F. 35.
3442.Perse. This (like l. 3438) is Chaucer’s mistake. Boccaccio says expressly that she was of the race of the Ptolemies of Egypt; but further on he remarks—‘Sic cum Persis et Armenis principibus, vt illos urbanitate et facetia superaret.’ This may account for the confusion.
3446. Boccaccio says (de Mul. Clar.)—‘Dicunt autem hanc a pueritia sua spretis omnino muliebribus officiis, cum iam corpusculum eduxisset in robur, syluas & nemora incoluisse plurimum, & accinctam pharetra, ceruis caprisque cursu atque sagittis fuisse infestam. Inde cum in acriores deuenisset uires, ursus amplecti ausam, pardos, leonesque insequi, obuios expectare, capere & occidere, ac in praedam trahere.’ This accounts for the word office, and may shew how closely Chaucer has followed his original.
3496.lafte not, forbore not; see A. 492.
3497. She was acquainted with Egyptian literature, and studied Greek under the philosopher Longinus, author of a celebrated treatise on ‘The Sublime.’
3502.housbonde. Her husband was Odenathus, or Odenatus, the ruler of Palmyra, upon whom the emperor Gallienus had bestowed the title of Augustus. He was murdered by some of his relations, and some have even insinuated that Zenobia consented to the crime. Most scribes spell the name Onedake, by metathesis for Odenake (Odenate), like the spelling Adriane for Ariadne.
3507.doon hem flee, cause them (her and her husband) to flee.
3510. Sapor I. reigned over Persia 240–273. He defeated the emperor Valerian, whom he kept in captivity for the rest of his life. After conquering Syria and taking Caesarea, he was defeated by Odenatus and Zenobia, who founded a new empire at Palmyra. See Gibbon, Decline, &c., chap. x.
3511.proces, succession of events. fil, fell, befell.
3512.title, pronounced nearly as title in French, the e being elided before had.
3515.Petrark. Tyrwhitt suggests that perhaps Boccaccio’s book had fallen into Chaucer’s hands under the name of Petrarch. We may, however, suppose that Chaucer had read the account in a borrowed book, and did not certainly know whether Petrarch or Boccaccio was the author. Instances of similar mistakes are common enough in Early English. Modern readers are apt to forget that, in the olden times, much information had to be carried in the memory, and there was seldom much facility for verification or for a second perusal of a story.
3519.cruelly. The Harl. MS. has the poor reading trewely, miswritten for crewely.
3525. Claudius II., emperor of Rome, 268–270. He succeeded Gallienus, as Chaucer says, and was succeeded by Aurelian.
3535. Boccaccio calls them Heremianus and Timolaus, so that Hermanno (as in the MSS.) should probably be Heremanno. Professor Robertson Smith tells me that the right names are Herennianus and Timoleon. The line cannot well be scanned as it stands.
3550.char, chariot. Boccaccio describes this ‘currum, quem sibi ex auro gemmisque praeciocissimum Zenobia fabricari fecerat.’
3556.charged, heavily laden. She was so laden with chains of massive gold, and covered with pearls and gems, that she could scarcely support the weight; so says Boccaccio. Gibbon says the same.
3562.vitremyte. I have no doubt this reading (as in Tyrwhitt) is correct. All the six MSS. in the Six-text agree in it. The old printed editions have were autremyte, a mere corruption of were a u[i]tremyte; and the Harl. MS. has wyntermyte, which I take to be an attempt to make sense of a part of the word, just as we have turned écrevisse into cray-fish. What the word means, is another question; it is perhaps the greatest ‘crux’ in Chaucer. As the word occurs nowhere else, the solution I offer is a mere guess. I suppose it to be a coined word, formed on the Latin vitream mitram, expressing, literally, a glass head-dress, in complete contrast to a strong helmet. My reasons for supposing this are as follows.
(1) With regard to mitra. In Low-Latin, its commonest meaning is a woman’s head-dress. But it was especially and widely used as a term of mockery, both in Latin, Italian, Spanish, and French. The mitra was the cap which criminals were made to wear as a sign of degradation; see Carpenter’s Supp. to Ducange, s. v. Mitra; Vocabulario degli Accad. della Crusca, s. v. Mitera; and any large Spanish Dict. s. v. Mitra. Even Cotgrave has—‘Mitré, mitred; hooded with a miter, wearing a miter; set on a pillory or scaffold, with a miter of paper on his head.’ The chief difficulty in this derivation is the loss of the r, but Godefroy has a quotation (s. v. mite, 2), which would suit the sense—‘mites de toile costonnees, et par dessus ung grand chappel de fer ou de cuir bouilli.’
(2) With regard to vitream. This may refer to a proverb, probably rather English than foreign, to which I have never yet seen a reference. But its existence is clear. To give a man ‘a glazen hood’ meant, in Old English, to mock, delude, cajole. It appears in Piers the Plowman, B. xx. 171, where a story is told of a man who, fearing to die, consulted the physicians, and gave them large sums of money, for which they gave him in return ‘a glasen houve,’ i. e. a hood of glass, a thing that was no defence at all Still clearer is the allusion to the same proverb in Chaucer himself, in a passage explained by no previous editor, in Troil. and Cres. v. 469, where Fortune is said to have an intention of deluding Troilus; or, as the poet says,
‘Fortune his howve entended bet to glase,’
i. e. literally, Fortune intended to glaze his hood still better for him, i. e. to make a still greater fool of him. In the Aldine edition, howue is printed howen in this passage, but howue occurs elsewhere; Tyrwhitt has hove, a common variation of howue. If this note is unsatisfactory, I may yet claim to have explained in it at least one long-standing difficulty; viz. this line in Troilus. Tyrwhitt long ago explained that, in Chaucer, the phrases to set a man’s hood, and to set a man’s cap, have a like meaning, viz. to delude him. Chaucer uses verre for glass in another passage of a similar character, viz. in Troil. and Cres. ii. 867, where we read—
3564.a distaf. This is from Boccaccio’s other account, in the De Casibus Virorum. ‘Haec nuper imperatoribus admiranda, nunc uenit miseranda plebeis. Haec nunc galeata concionari militibus assueta, nunc uelata cogitur muliercularum audire fabellas. Haec nuper Orienti praesidens sceptra gestabat, nunc Romae subiacens, colum, sicut ceterae, baiulat.’ Zenobia survived her disgrace for some years, living at Rome as a private person on a small estate which was granted to her, and which, says Trebellius Pollio, ‘hodie Zenobia dicitur.’
Peter, King of Spain.
3565. See vol. iii. p. 429, for the order in which the parts of the Monk’s Tale are arranged. I follow here the arrangement in the Harleian MS. Peter, king of Castile, born in 1334, is generally known as Pedro the Cruel. He reigned over Castile and Leon from 1350 to 1362, and his conduct was marked by numerous acts of unprincipled atrocity. After a destructive civil war, he fell into the hands of his brother, Don Enrique (Henry). A personal struggle took place between the brothers, in the course of which Enrique stabbed Pedro to the heart; March 23, 1369. See the ballad by Sir Walter Scott, entitled the Death of Don Pedro, in Lockhart’s Spanish Ballads, commencing—
It is remarkable that Pedro was very popular with his own party, despite his crimes, and Chaucer takes his part because our Black Prince fought on the side of Pedro against Enrique at the battle of Najera, April 3, 1367; and because John of Gaunt married Constance, daughter of Pedro, about Michaelmas, 1371.
3573. See the description of Du Gueschlin’s arms as given below. The ‘field’ was argent, and the black eagle appears as if caught by a rod covered with birdlime, because the bend dexter across the shield seems to restrain him from flying away. The first three lines of the stanza refer to Bertrand Du Gueschlin, who ‘brew,’ i. e. contrived Pedro’s murder, viz. by luring him to Enrique’s tent. But the last three lines refer to another knight who, according to Chaucer, took a still more active part in the matter, being a worker in it. This second person was a certain Sir Oliver Mauny, whose name Chaucer conceals under the synonym of wicked nest, standing for O. Fr. mau ni, where mau is O. Fr. for mal, bad or wicked, and ni is O. Fr. for nid, Lat. nidus, a nest. Observe too, that Chaucer uses the word need, not deed. There may be an excellent reason for this; for, in the course of the struggle between the brothers, Enrique was at first thrown, ‘when (says Lockhart) one of Henry’s followers, seizing Don Pedro by the leg, turned him over, and his master, thus at length gaining the upper hand, instantly stabbed the king to the heart. Froissart calls this man the Vicomte de Roquebetyn, and others the Bastard of Anisse.’ I have no doubt that Chaucer means to tell us that the helper in Enrique’s need was no other than Mauny. He goes on to say that this Mauny was not like Charles the Great’s Oliver, an honourable peer, but an Oliver of Armorica, a man like Charles’s Ganelon, the well-known traitor, of whom Chaucer elsewhere says (Book of the Duchess, l. 1121)—
This passage has long been a puzzle, but was first cleared up in an excellent letter by Mr. Furnivall in Notes and Queries, which I here subjoin; I may give myself the credit, however, of identifying ‘wicked nest’ with O. Fr. mau ni.
‘The first two lines [of the stanza] describe the arms of Bertrand du Guesclin, which were, a black double-headed eagle displayed on a silver shield, with a red band across the whole, from left to right [in heraldic language, a bend dexter, gules]—“the lymrod coloured as the glede” or live coal—as may be seen in Anselme’s Histoire Généalogique de France, and a MS. Généalogies de France in the British Museum. Next, if we turn to Mr. D. F. Jamison’s excellent Life and Times of Bertrand du Guesclin, we not only find on its cover Bertrand’s arms as above described, but also at vol. ii. pp. 92–4, an account of the plot and murder to which Chaucer alludes, and an identification of his traitorous or “Genylon” Oliver, with Sir Oliver de Mauny of Brittany (or Armorica), Bertrand’s cousin [or, according to Froissart, cap. 245, his nephew].
‘After the battle of Monteil, on March 14, 1369, Pedro was besieged in the castle of Monteil near the borders of La Mancha, by his brother Enrique; who was helped by Du Guesclin and many French knights. Finding escape impossible, Pedro sent Men Rodriguez secretly to Du Guesclin with an offer of many towns and 200,000 gold doubloons if he would desert Enrique and reinstate Pedro. Du Guesclin refused the offer, and “the next day related to his friends and kinsmen in the camp, and especially to his cousin, Sir Oliver de Mauny, what had taken place.” He asked them if he should tell Enrique; they all said yes: so he told the king. Thereupon Enrique promised Bertrand the same reward that Pedro had offered him, but asked him also to assure Men Rodriguez of Pedro’s safety if he would come to his (Du Guesclin’s) lodge. Relying on Bertrand’s assurance, Pedro came to him on March 23; Enrique entered the lodge directly afterwards, and after a struggle, stabbed Pedro, and seized his kingdom.
‘We see then that Chaucer was justified in asserting that Du Guesclin and Sir Oliver Mauny “brew this cursednesse”; and his assertion has some historical importance; for as his patron and friend, John of Gaunt, married one of Pedro’s daughters [named Constance] as his second wife [Michaelmas, 1371], Chaucer almost certainly had the account of Pedro’s death from his daughter, or one of her attendants, and is thus a witness for the truth of the narrative of the Spanish chronicler Ayala, given above, against the French writers, Froissart, Cuvelier, &c., who make the Bégue de Villaines the man who inveigled Pedro. This connexion of Chaucer with John of Gaunt and his second wife must excuse the poet in our eyes for calling so bad a king as Pedro the Cruel “worthy” and “the glorie of Spayne, whom Fortune heeld so hy in magestee.”
‘In the Corpus MS. these knights are called in a side-note Bertheun Claykyn (which was one of the many curious ways in which Du Guesclin’s name was spelt) and Olyuer Mawny; in MS. Harl. 1758 they are called Barthilmewe Claykeynne and Olyuer Mawyn; and in MS. Lansdowne 851 they are called Betelmewe Claykyn and Oliuer Mawnye. Mauni or Mauny was a well-known Armorican or Breton family. Chaucer’s epithet of “Genilon” for Oliver de Mauny is specially happy, because Genelon was the Breton knight who betrayed to their death the great Roland and the flower of Charlemagne’s knights to the Moors at Roncesvalles. Charles’s or Charlemagne’s great paladin, Oliver, is too well known to need more than a bare mention.’—F. J. Furnivall, in Notes and Queries, 4th Series, viii. 449.
Peter, King of Cyprus.
3581. In a note to Chaucer’s Prologue, A. 51, Tyrwhitt says—‘Alexandria in Egypt was won, and immediately afterwards abandoned, in 1365, by Pierre de Lusignan, king of Cyprus. The same Prince, soon after his accession to the throne in 1352, had taken Satalie, the antient Attalia; and in another expedition about 1367 he made himself master of the town of Layas in Armenia. Compare 11 Mémoire sur les Ouvrages de Guillaume de Machaut, Acad. des Ins. tom. xx. pp. 426, 432, 439; and Mémoire sur la Vie de Philippe de Maizières, tom. xvii. p. 493.’ He was assassinated in 1369, Cf. note to A. 51.
Barnabo of Lombardy.
3589. ‘Bernabo Visconti, duke of Milan, was deposed by his nephew and thrown into prison, where he died in 1385.’—Tyrwhitt. This date of Dec. 18, 1385 is that of the latest circumstance incidentally referred to in the Canterbury Tales. Chaucer had been sent to treat with Visconti in 1378, so that he knew him personally. See Froissart, bk. ii. ch. 158; Engl. Cyclopaedia, s. v. Visconti; Furnivall’s Trial Forewords, p. 109. And see vol. i. p. xxxii.
Ugolino of Pisa.
3597. ‘Chaucer himself has referred us to Dante for the original of this tragedy: see Inferno, canto xxxiii.’—Tyrwhitt. An account of Count Ugolino is given in a note to Cary’s Dante, from Villani, lib. vii. capp. 120–127. This account is different from Dante’s, and represents him as very treacherous. He made himself master of Pisa in July 1288, but in the following March was seized by the Pisans, who threw him, with his two sons, and two of his grandsons, into a prison, where they perished of hunger in a few days. Chaucer says three sons, the eldest being five years of age. Dante says four sons.
3606.Roger; i. e. the Archbishop Ruggieri degli Ubaldini, who was Ugolino’s enemy.
3616. This line is imperfect at the caesura; accent but. Tyrwhitt actually turns herde into hered, to make it dissyllabic; but such an ‘emendation’ is not legitimate. The Harl. MS. has—‘He herd it wel, but he saugh it nought’; where Mr. Jephson inserts ne before saugh without any comment. Perhaps read—he [ne] spak.
3621. Dante does not mention the ages; but he says that the son named Gaddo died on the fourth day, and the other three on the fifth and sixth days. Observe that Chaucer’s tender lines, ll. 3623–8, are his own.
3624.Morsel breed, morsel of bread; cf. barel ale for barrel of ale, B. 3083.—M.
3636. ‘I may lay the blame of all my woe upon thy false wheel.’ Cf. B. 3860.
3640.two; there were now but two survivors, the youngest, according to Chaucer, being dead.
3651.Dant; i. e. Dante Alighieri, the great poet of Italy, born in 1265, died Sept. 14, 1321. Chaucer mentions him again in his House of Fame, book i., as the author of the Inferno, in the Prologue to the Legend of Good Women, l. 360, and in the Wyf of Bathes Tale, D. 1126.
3655.Swetonius; this refers to the Lives of the Twelve Caesars by Suetonius; but it would be a mistake to suppose that Chaucer has followed his account very closely. Our poet seems to have had a habit of mentioning authorities whom he did not immediately follow, by which he seems to have meant no more than that they were good authorities upon the subject. Here, for instance, he merely means that we can find in Suetonius a good account of Nero, which will give us all minor details. But in reality he draws the story more immediately from other sources, especially from Boccaccio, De Casibus Virorum, lib. vii. cap. 4, from the Roman de la Rose, and from Boethius, de Cons. Philos. lib. ii. met. 6, and lib. iii. met. 4. The English Romaunt of the Rose does not contain the passage about Nero, but it is interesting to refer to Chaucer’s translation of Boethius. Vincent of Beauvais has an account of Nero, in his Speculum Historiale, lib. ix. capp. 1-7, in which he chiefly follows Suetonius. See also Orosius, lib. vii. 7, and Eutropius, lib. vii.
3657.South; the MSS. have North, but it is fair to make the correction, as Chaucer certainly knew the sense of Septemtrioun, and the expression is merely borrowed from the Roman de la Rose, ed. Méon, l. 6271, where we read,
And, in his Boethius, after saying that Nero ruled from East to West, he adds—‘And eke þis Nero gouernede by Ceptre alle þe peoples þat ben vndir þe colde sterres þat hyȝten þe seuene triones; þis is to seyn, he gouernede alle þe poeples þat ben vndir þe parties of þe norþe. And eke Nero gouerned alle þe poeples þat þe violent wynde Nothus scorchíþ, and bakiþ þe brennynge sandes by his drie hete; þat is to seyne, alle þe poeples in þe souþe’; ed. Morris, p. 55 (cf. vol. ii. p. 45).
3663. From Suetonius; cf. Lounsbury, Studies in Chaucer, ii. 285.
3665. This is from Suetonius, who says—‘Piscatus est rete aurato, purpura coccoque funibus nexis’; cap. xxx. So also Orosius, vii. 7; Eutropius, vii. 9.
3669. This passage follows Boethius, bk. ii. met. 6, very closely, as is evident by comparing it with Chaucer’s translation (see vol. ii. p. 44). ‘He leet brenne the citee of Rome, and made sleen the senatoures. And he, cruel, whylom slew his brother. And he was maked moist with the blood of his moder; that is to seyn, he leet sleen and slitten the body of his moder, to seen wher he was conceived; and he loked on every halve upon her colde dede body; ne no tere ne wette his face; but he was so hard-herted that he mighte ben domesman, or Iuge, of hir dede beautee. . . . Allas, it is a grevous fortune, as ofte as wikked swerd is ioigned to cruel venim; that is to seyn, venimous crueltee to lordshippe.’ Thus Chaucer himself explains domesman (l. 3680) by Iuge, i.e. judge. In the same line ded-è is dissyllabic.
3685.a maister; i. e. Seneca, mentioned below by name. In the year 65, Nero, wishing to be rid of his old master, sent him an order to destroy himself. Seneca opened a vein, but the blood would not flow freely; whereupon, to expedite its flow, he entered into a warm bath, and thence was taken into a vapour stove, where he was suffocated. ‘Nero constreynede Senek, his familier and his mayster, to chesen on what deeth he wolde deyen’; Chaucer’s Boethius, lib. iii. pr. 5. 34 (vol. ii. 63).
3692. ‘It was long before tyranny or any other vice durst attack him’; literally, ‘durst let dogs loose against him.’ To uncouple is to release dogs from the leash that fastened them together; see P. Pl. B. pr. 206. Compare—
‘At the uncoupling of his houndes.’
Book of the Duchesse, l. 377.
3720. ‘Where he expected to find some who would aid him.’ Suetonius says—‘ipse cum paucis hospitia singulorum adiit. Verum clausis omnium foribus, respondente nullo, in cubiculum rediit,’ &c.; cap. xlvii. He afterwards escaped to the villa of his freedman Phaon, four miles from Rome, where he at length gave himself a mortal wound in the extremity of his despair. Cf. Rom. de la Rose, 6459–76.
3736.girden of, to strike off; cf. ‘gurdeth of gyles hed,’ P. Pl. B. ii. 201. A gird is also a sharp striking taunt or quip.—M.
3746.Oloferne. The story of Holofernes is to be found in the apocryphal book of Judith.
3750.For lesinge, for fear of losing, lest men should lose.
3752. ‘He had decreed to destroy all the gods of the land, that all nations should worship Nabuchodonosor only,’ &c.; Judith, iii. 8.
3756.Eliachim. Tyrwhitt remarks that the name of the high priest was Joacim; Judith, iv. 6. But this is merely the form of the name in our English version. The Vulgate version has the equivalent form Eliachim; cf. 2 Chron. xxxvi. 4.
3761.upright, i. e. on his back, with his face upwards. See Knightes Tale, l. 1150 (A. 2008), and the note to A. 4194.
3765. Antiochus Epiphanes, King of Syria ( 175–164). Paraphrased from 2 Maccabees, ix. 7, 28, 10, 8, 7, 3-7, 9-12, 28.
3821. There is a whole cycle of Alexander romances, in Latin, French, and English, so that his story is common enough. There is a good life of him by Plutarch, but in Chaucer’s time the principal authority for an account of him was Quintus Curtius. See Ten Brink, Hist. Eng. Lit., bk. ii. sect. 8.
3826. ‘They were glad to send to him (to sue) for peace.’
3843.write, should write, pt. subj.; hence the change of vowel from indic. wroot.—M. The i is short.
3845. ‘So Alexander reigned twelve years, and then died’; 1 Mac. i. 7. Machabee, i. e. the first book of the Maccabees.
3850. Quintus Curtius says that Alexander was poisoned by Antipater; and this account is adopted in the romances. Cf. Barbour’s Bruce, i. 533.
3851. ‘Fortune hath turned thy six (the highest and most fortunate throw at dice) into an ace (the lowest).’ Cf. note to B. 124.
3860. ‘Which two (fortune and poison) I accuse of all this woe.’
3862. For humble bed Tyrwhitt, Wright, and Bell print humblehede, as in some MSS. But this word is an objectionable hybrid compound, and I think it remains to be shewn that the word belongs to our language. In the Knightes Tale, Chaucer has humblesse, and in the Persones Tale, humilitee. Until better authority for humblehede can be adduced, I am content with the reading of the four best MSS., including the Harleian, which Wright silently alters.
3863.Julius. For this story Chaucer refers us below to Lucan, Suetonius, and Valerius; see note to l. 3909. There is also an interesting life of him by Plutarch. Boccaccio mentions him but incidentally.
3866.tributárie; observe the rime with aduersárie. Fortune in l. 3868 is a trisyllable; so also in l. 3876.
3870. ‘Against Pompey, thy father-in-law.’ Rather, ‘son-in-law’; for Caesar gave Pompey his daughter Julia in marriage.
3875.puttest; to be read as putt’st; and thórient as in l. 3883.
3878.Pompeius. Boccaccio gives his life at length, as an example of misfortune; De Casibus Virorum, lib. vi. cap. 9. He was killed Sept. 29, 48, soon after the battle of Pharsalia in Thessaly (l. 3869).
3881.him, for himself; but in the next line it means ‘to him.’—M.
3885. Chaucer refers to this triumph in the Man of Lawes Tale, B. 400; but see the note. Cf. Shak. Henry V, v. prol. 28.
3887. Chaucer is not alone in making Brutus and Cassius into one person; see note to l. 3892.
3891.cast, contrived, appointed; pp., after hath.
3892.boydekins, lit. bodkins, but with the signification of daggers. It is meant to translate the Lat. pugio, a poniard. In Barbour’s Bruce, i. 545, Caesar is said to have been slain with a weapon which in one edition is called a punsoun, in another a botkin, and in the Edinburgh MS. a pusoune, perhaps an error for punsoune, since Halliwell’s Dictionary gives the form punchion. Hamlet uses bodkin for a dagger; Act iii. sc. 1. l. 76. In the margin of Stowe’s Chronicle, ed. 1614, it is said that Caesar was slain with bodkins; Nares’ Glossary. Nares also quotes—‘The chief woorker of this murder was Brutus Cassius, with 260 of the senate, all having bodkins in their sleeves’; Serp. of Division, prefixed to Gorboduc, 1590.
3906.lay on deying, lay a-dying. In l. 3907, deed=mortally wounded.
3909.recomende, commit. He means that he commits the full telling of the story to Lucan, &c. In other words, he refers the reader to those authors. Cf. Lounsbury, Studies in Chaucer, ii. 254, 274.
Lucan (born 39, died 65) was the author of the Pharsalia, an incomplete poem in ten books, narrating the struggle between Pompey and Caesar. There is an English translation of it by Rowe.
Suetonius Tranquillus (born about 70) wrote several works, the principal of which is The Lives of the Twelve Caesars.
Valerius. There were two authors of this name, (1) Valerius Flaccus, author of a poem on the Argonautic expedition, and (2) Valerius Maximus, author of De Factis Dictisque Memorabilibus Libri ix. Mr. Jephson says that Valerius Flaccus is meant here, I know not why. Surely the reference is to Valerius Maximus, who at least tells some anecdotes of Caesar; lib. iv. c. 5; lib. vii. cap. 6.
3911.word and ende, beginning and end; a substitution for the older formula ord and ende. Tyrwhitt notes that the suggested emendation of ord for word was proposed by Dr. Hickes, in his Anglo-Saxon Grammar, p. 70. Hickes would make the same emendation in Troil. and Cres. v. 1669;
‘And of this broche he tolde him ord and ende,’
where the editions have word. He also cites the expression ord and ende from Cædmon; see Thorpe’s edition, p. 225, l. 30. We also find from orde ōð ende=from beginning to end, in the poem of Elene (Vercelli MS.), ed. Grein, l. 590. Orde and ende occurs also at a later period, in the Ormulum, l. 6775; and still later, in Floriz and Blancheflur, l. 47, ed. Lumby, in the phrase,
Tyrwhitt argues that the true spelling of the phrase had already become corrupted in Chaucer’s time, and such seems to have been the fact, as all the MSS. have word. See Zupitza’s note to Guy of Warwick, l. 7927, where more examples are given; and cf. my note to Troil. ii. 1495. Ord and ende explains our modern odds and ends; see Garnett’s Essays, p. 37. Moreover, it is not uncommon to find a w prefixed to a word where it is not required etymologically, especially before the vowel o. The examples wocks, oaks, won, one, wodur, other, wostus, oast-house, woth, oath, wots, oats, wolde, old, are all given in Halliwell’s Prov. Dictionary.
3917.Cresus; king of Lydia, 560–546, defeated by Cyrus at Sardis. Cyrus spared his life, and Croesus actually survived his benefactor. Chaucer, however, brings him to an untimely end. The story of Croesus is in Boccaccio, De Casibus Virorum, lib. iii. cap. 20. See also Herodotus, lib. 1; Plutarch’s life of Solon, &c. But Boccaccio represents Croesus as surviving his disgraces. Tyrwhitt says that the story seems to have been taken from the Roman de la Rose, ll. 6312–6571 (ed. Méon); where the English Romaunt of the Rose is defective. In Chaucer’s translation of Boethius, bk. ii. pr. 2, see vol. ii. p. 28, we find this sentence: ‘Wistest thou not how Cresus, the king of Lydiens, of whiche king Cyrus was ful sore agast a litel biforn, that this rewliche [pitiable] Cresus was caught of [by] Cyrus, and lad to the fyr to ben brent; but that a rayn descendede doun fro hevene, that rescowede him?’ In the House of Fame, bk. i. ll. 104–6, we have an allusion to the ‘avision’ [vision, dream] of
See also Nonne Pr. Ta. l. 318 (B. 4328). The tragic version of the fate of Croesus is given by Vincent of Beauvais, Speculum Historiale, iii. 17; and I give an extract, as it seems to be the account which is followed in the Roman de la Rose. It must be premised that Vincent makes Croesus to have been taken prisoner by Cyrus three times.
‘Alii historiographi narrant, quod in secunda captione, iussit eum Cyrus rogo superponi et assari, et subito tanta pluuia facta est, vt eius immensitate ignis extingueretur, vnde occasionem repperit euadendi. Cumque postea hoc sibi prospere euenisse gloriaretur, et opum copia nimium se iactaret, dictum.est ei a Solone quodam sapientissimo, non debere quemquam in diuitiis et prosperitate gloriari. Eadem nocte uidit in somnis quod Jupiter eum aqua perfunderet, et sol extergeret. Quod cum filiae suae mane indicasset, illa (vt res se habebat) prudenter absoluit, dicens: quod cruci esset affigendus et aqua perfundendus et sole siccandus. Quod ita demum contigit, nam postea a Cyro crucifixus est.’ Compare the few following lines from the Roman de la Rose, with ll. 3917–22, 3934–8, 3941, and l. 3948:—
3951. The passage here following is repeated from the Monkes Prologue, and copied, as has been said, from Boethius, bk. ii. pr. 2. It is to be particularly noted that the passage quoted from Boethius in the note to B. 3917 almost immediately precedes the passage quoted in the note to B. 3163.
3956. See note to B. 3972 below.
The Nonne Prestes Prologue.
3957.the knight. See the description of him, Prol. A. 43.
3961.for me, for myself, for my part. Cp. the phrase ‘as for me.’—M.
3970. ‘By the bell of Saint Paul’s church (in London).’
3972. The host alludes to the concluding lines of the Monkes Tale, l. 3956, then repeats the words no remedie from l. 3183, and cites the word biwaille from l. 3952. Compare all these passages.
3982.Piers. We must suppose that the host had by this time learnt the monk’s name. In B. 3120 above, he did not know it.
3984. ‘Were it not for the ringing of your bells’; lit. were there not a clinking of your bells (all the while). ‘Anciently no person seems to have been gallantly equipped on horseback, unless the horse’s bridle or some other part of the furniture was stuck full of small bells. Vincent of Beauvais, who wrote about 1264, censures this piece of pride in the knights-templars; Hist. Spec. lib. xxx. c. 85’; &c.—Warton, Hist. Eng. Poetry (ed. Hazlitt), ii. 160; i. 264. See also note to Prol. A. 170.
3990. ‘Ubi auditus non est, non effundas sermonem’; Ecclus. xxxii. 6. (Vulgate); the A. V. is different. See above, B. 2237. The common proverb, ‘Keep your breath to cool your broth,’ nearly expresses what Chaucer here intends.
3993.substance is explained by Tyrwhitt to mean ‘the material part of a thing.’ Chaucer’s meaning seems not very different from Shakespeare’s in Love’s La. Lost, v. 2. 871—
3995. ‘For the propriety of this remark, see note to Prol. A. 166’; Tyrwhitt.
4000.Sir; ‘The title of Sir was usually given, by courtesy, to priests, both secular and regular’; Tyrwhitt. Tyrwhitt also remarks that, ‘in the principal modern languages, John, or its equivalent, is a name of contempt or at least of slight. So the Italians use Gianni, from whence Zani [Eng. zany]; the Spaniards Juan, as Bobo Juan, a foolish John; the French Jean, with various additions.’ The reason (which Tyrwhitt failed to see) is simply that John is one of the commonest of common names. For example, twenty-three popes took that name; and cf. our phrase John Bull, which answers to the French Jean Crapaud, and the Russian Ivan Ivanovitch, ‘the embodiment of the peculiarities of the Russian people’; Wheeler’s Noted Names of Fiction. Ivan Ivanovitch would be John Johnson in English and Evan Evans in Welsh. Hence sir John became the usual contemptuous name for a priest; see abundant examples in the Index to the Parker Society’s publications.
4004.serve has two syllables; hence rek, in the Harl. MS., is perhaps better than rekke of the other MSS. A bene, the value of a bean; in the Milleres Tale a kers (i. e. a blade of grass) occurs in a similar manner (A. 3756); which has been corrupted into ‘not caring a curse’!
4006.Ye, yea, is a mild form of assent; yis is a stronger form, generally followed, as here, by some form of asseveration. See note to B. 1900 above.
4008.attamed, commenced, begun. The Lat. attaminare and Low Lat. intaminare are equivalent to contaminare, to contaminate, soil, spoil. From Low Lat. intaminare comes F. entamer, to cut into, attack, enter upon, begin. From attaminare comes the M. E. attame or atame, with a similar sense. The metaphor is taken from the notion of cutting into a joint of meat or of broaching or opening a cask. This is well shewn by the use of the word in P. Plowman, B. xvii. 68, where it is said of the Good Samaritan in the parable that he ‘breyde to his boteles, and bothe he atamede,’ i.e. he went hastily to his bottles, and broached or opened them both. So here, the priest broached, opened, or began his tale.
The Nonne Preestes Tale.
We may compare Dryden’s modernised version of this tale, entitled ‘The Cock and the Fox.’ See further in vol. iii. pp. 431–3.
4011.stape. Lansd. MS. reads stoupe, as if it signified bent, stooped; but stoop is a weak verb. Stape or stope is the past participle of the strong verb stapen, to step, advance. Stape in age=advanced in years. Roger Ascham has almost the same phrase: ‘And [Varro] beyng depe stept in age, by negligence some wordes do scape and fall from him in those bookes as be not worth the taking up,’ &c.—The Schoolmaster, ed. Mayor, p. 189; ed. Arber, p. 152.
4018–9.by housbondrye, by economy; fond hir-self, ‘found herself,’ provided for herself.
4022.Ful sooty was hir bour, and eek hir halle. The widow’s house consisted of only two apartments, designated by the terms bower and hall. Whilst the widow and her ‘daughters two’ slept in the bower, Chanticleer and his seven wives roosted on a perch in the hall, and the swine disposed themselves on the floor. The smoke of the fire had to find its way through the crevices of the roof. See Our English Home, pp. 139, 140. Cf. Virgil, Ecl. vii. 50—‘assidua postes fuligine nigri.’ Also—
4025.No deyntee (Elles. &c.); Noon deynteth (Harl.).
4029.hertes suffisaunce, a satisfied or contented mind, literally heart’s satisfaction. Cf. our phrase ‘to your heart’s content.’
4032.wyn . . . whyt nor reed. The white line was sometimes called ‘the wine of Osey’ (Alsace); the red wine of Gascony, sometimes called ‘Mountrose,’ was deemed a liquor for a lord. See Our English Home, p. 83; Piers Pl. prol. l. 228.
4035.Seynd bacoun, singed or broiled bacon. an ey or tweye, an egg or two.
4036.deye. The daia (from the Icel. deigja) is mentioned in Domesday among assistants in husbandry; and the term is again found in 2nd Stat. 25 Edward III ( 1351). In Stat. 37 Edward III ( 1363), the deye is mentioned among others of a certain rank, not having goods or chattels of 40s. value. The deye was usually a female, whose duty was to make butter and cheese, attend to the calves and poultry, and other odds and ends of the farm. The dairy (in some parts of England, as in Shropshire, called a dey-house) was the department assigned to her. See Prompt. Parv., p. 116.
4039. In Caxton’s translation of Reynard the Fox, the cock’s name is Chantecleer. In the original, it is Canticleer; from his clear voice in singing. In the same, Reynard’s second son is Rosseel; see l. 4524.
4041.merier, sweeter, pleasanter. In Todd’s Illustrations of Chaucer, p. 284, there is a long passage illustrative of mery in the sense of ‘pleasant.’ Cf. l. 4156. orgon is put for orgons or organs. It is plain from gon in the next line, that Chaucer meant to use this word as a plural from the Lat. organa. Organ was used until lately only in the plural, like bellows, gallows, &c. ‘Which is either sung or said or on the organs played.’—Becon’s Acts of Christ, p. 534. It was sometimes called a pair of organs. See note to P. Plowman, C. xxi. 7.
4044. Cf. Parl. of Foules, 350:—
‘The cok, that orloge is of thorpes lyte.’
Orloge (of an abbey) occurs in Religious Pieces, ed. Perry, p. 56; and see Stratmann.
4045. ‘The cock knew each ascension of the equinoctial, and crew at each; that is, he crew every hour, as 15° of the equinoctial make an hour. Chaucer adds [l. 4044] that he knew the hour better than the abbey-clock. This tells us, clearly, that we are to reckon clock-hours, and not the unequal hours of the solar or ‘artificial’ day. Hence the prime, mentioned in l. 4387, was at a clock-hour, at 6, 7, 8, or 9, suppose. The day meant is May 3, because the sun [l. 4384] had passed the 21st degree of Taurus (see fig. 1 of Astrolabe). . . . The date, May 3, is playfully denoted by saying [l. 4379] that March was complete, and also (since March began) thirty-two days more had passed. The words “since March began” are parenthetical; and we are, in fact, told that the whole of March, the whole of April, and two days of May were done with. March was then considered the first month in the year, though the year began with the 25th, not with the 1st; and Chaucer alludes to the idea that the Creation itself took place in March. The day, then, was May 3, with the sun past 21 degrees of Taurus. The hour must be had from the sun’s altitude, rightly said (l. 4389) to be Fourty degrees and oon. I use a globe, and find that the sun would attain the altitude 41° nearly at 9 o’clock. It follows that prime in l. 4387 signifies the end of the first quarter of the day, reckon-from 6 a. m. to 6 p. m.’—Skeat’s Astrolabe, (E. E. T. S.), p. lxi. This rough test, by means of a globe, is perhaps sufficient; but Mr. Brae proved it to be right by calculation. Taking the sun’s altitude at 41½°, he ‘had the satisfaction to find a resulting hour, for prime, of 9 o’clock a. m.almost to the minute.’ It is interesting to find that Thynne explains this passage very well in his Animadversions on Speght’s Chaucer; ed. Furnivall, p. 62, note 1.
The notion that the Creation took place on the 18th of March is alluded to in the Hexameron of St. Basil (see the A. S. version, ed. Norman, p. 8, note j), and in Ælfric’s Homilies, ed. Thorpe, i. 100.
4047. Fifteen degrees of the equinoctial = an exact hour. See note to l. 4045 above. Skelton imitates this passage in his Phillyp Sparowe, l. 495.
4050.And batailed. Lansd. MS. reads Enbateled, indented like a battlement, embattled. Batailed has the same sense.
4051.as the Ieet, like the jet. Beads used for the repetition of prayers were frequently formed of jet. See note to Prol. A. 159.
4060.damoysele Pertelote. Cf. our ‘Dame Partlet.’
In Le Roman de Renart, the hen is called Pinte or Pintain.
4064.in hold; in possession. Cf. ‘He hath my heart in holde’; Greene’s George a Greene, ed. Dyce, p. 256.
4065.loken in every lith, locked in every limb.
4069.my lief is faren in londe, my beloved is gone away. Probably the refrain of a popular song of the time.
4079.herte dere. This expression corresponds to ‘dear heart,’ or ‘deary heart,’ which still survives in some parts of the country.
4083.take it nat agrief=take it not in grief, i. e. take it not amiss, be not offended.
4084.me mette, I dreamed; literally it dreamed to me.
4086.my swevene recche (or rede) aright, bring my dream to a good issue; literally ‘interpret my dream favourably.’
4090.Was lyk. The relative that is often omitted by Chaucer before a relative clause, as, again, in l. 4365.
4098.Avoy (Elles.); Away (Harl.). From O. F. avoi, interj. fie! It occurs in Le Roman de la Rose, 7284, 16634.
4113. See the Chapter on Dreams in Brand’s Pop. Antiquities.
4114.fume, the effects arising from gluttony and drunkenness. ‘Anxious black melancholy fumes.’—Burton’s Anat. of Mel. p. 438, ed. 1845. ‘All vapours arising out of the stomach,’ especially those caused by gluttony and drunkenness. ‘For when the head is heated it scorcheth the blood, and from thence proceed melancholy fumes that trouble the mind.’—Ibid. p. 269.
4118.rede colera. . . red cholera caused by too much bile and blood (sometimes called red humour). Burton speaks of a kind of melancholy of which the signs are these—‘the veins of their eyes red, as well as their faces.’ The following quotation explains the matter. ‘Ther be foure humours, Bloud, Fleame, Cholar, and Melancholy. . . . First, working heate turneth what is colde and moyst into the kind of Fleme, and then what is hot and moyst, into the kinde of Bloud; and then what is hot and drye into the kinde of Cholera; and then what is colde and drye into the kinde of Melancholia. . . . By meddling of other humours, Bloud chaungeth kinde and colour: for by meddling of Cholar, it seemeth red, and by Melancholy it seemeth black, and by Fleame it seemeth watrie, and fomie.’—Batman upon Bartholomè, lib. iv. c. 6. So also—‘in bloud it needeth that there be red Cholera’; lib. iv. c. 10; &c.
The following explains the belief as to dreams caused by cholera. Men in which red Cholera is excesssive ‘dreame of fire, and of lyghtening, and of dreadful burning of the ayre’; Batman upon Bartholomè, lib. iv. c. 10. Those in which Melancholia is excessive dream ‘dredfull darke dreames, and very ill to see’; id. c. 11. And again: ‘He that is Sanguine hath glad and liking dreames, the melancholious dremeth of sorrow, the Cholarike, of firy things, and the Flematike, of Raine, Snow,’ &c.; id. lib. vi. c. 27.
4123.the humour of malencolye. ‘The name (melancholy) is imposed from the matter, and disease denominated from the material cause, as Bruel observes, μελανχολία quasi μελαιναχόλη, from black choler.’ Fracastorius, in his second book of Intellect, calls those melancholy ‘whom abundance of that same depraved humour of black choler hath so misaffected, that they become mad thence, and dote in most things or in all, belonging to election, will, or other manifest operations of the understanding.’—Bruton’s Anat. of Melancholy, p. 108, ed. 1805.
4128. ‘That cause many a man in sleep to be very distressed.’
4130.Catoun. Dionysius Cato, de Moribus, l. ii. dist. 32: somnia ne cures. ‘I observe by the way, that this distich is quoted by John of Salisbury, Polycrat. l. ii. c. 16, as a precept viri sapientis. In another place, l. vii. c. 9, he introduces his quotation of the first verse of dist. 20 (l. iii.) in this manner:—“Ait vel Cato vel alius, nam autor incertus est.” ’—Tyrwhitt. Cf. note to G. 688.
4131.do no fors of=take no notice of, pay no heed to. Skelton, i. 118, has ‘makyth so lytyll fors,’ i.e. cares so little for.
4153. ‘Wormwood, centaury, pennyroyal, are likewise magnified and much prescribed, especially in hypochondrian melancholy, daily to be used, sod in whey. And because the spleen and blood are often misaffected in melancholy, I may not omit endive, succory, dandelion, fumitory, &c., which cleanse the blood.’—Burton’s Anat. of Mel. pp. 432, 433. See also p. 438, ed. 1845. ‘Centauria abateth wombe-ache, and cleereth sight, and vnstoppeth the splene and the reines’; Batman upon Bartholomè, lib. xvii. c. 47. ‘Fumus terre [fumitory] cleanseth and purgeth Melancholia, fleme, and cholera’; id. lib. xvii. c. 69. ‘Medicinal herbs were grown in every garden, and were dried or made into decoctions, and kept for use’; Wright, Domestic Manners, p. 279.
4154.ellebor. Two kinds of hellebore are mentioned by old writers; ‘white hellebore, called sneezing powder, a strong purger upward’ (Burton’s Anat. of Mel. pt. 2. § 4. m. 2. subsec. 1.), and ‘black hellebore, that most renowned plant, and famous purger of melancholy.’—Ibid. subsec. 2.
4155.catapuce, caper-spurge, Euphorbia Lathyris. gaytres (or gaytrys) beryis, probably the berries of the buck-thorn, Rhamnus catharticus; which (according to Rietz) is still called, in Swedish dialects, the getbärs-trä (goat-berries tree) or getappel (goat-apple). I take gaytre to stand for gayt-tre, i. e. goat-tree; a Northern form, from Icel. geit (gen. geitar), a goat. The A.S. gāte-trēow, goat-tree, is probably the same tree, though the prov. Eng. gaiter-tree, gatten-tree, or gatteridge-tree is usually applied to the Cornus sanguinea or corneltree, the fruits of which ‘are sometimes mistaken for those of the buck-thorn, but do not possess the active properties of that plant’; Eng. Cyclop., s. v. Cornus. The context shews that the buck-thorn is meant. Langham says of the buck-thorn, that ‘the beries do purge downwards mightily flegme and choller’; Garden of Health, 1633, p. 99 (New E. Dict., s. v. Buckthorn). This is why Chanticleer was recommended to eat them.
4156.erbe yve, herb ive or herb ivy, usually identified with the ground-pine, Ajuga chamæpitys. mery, pleasant, used ironically; as the leaves are extremely nausecus.
4160.graunt mercy, great thanks; this in later authors is corrupted into grammercy or gramercy.
4166.so mote I thee, as I may thrive (or prosper). Mote=A. S. mōt-e, first p. s. pr. subj.
4174.Oon of the gretteste auctours. ‘Cicero, De Divin. l. i. c. 27, relates this and the following story, but in a different order, and with so many other differences, that one might be led to suspect that he was here quoted at second-hand, if it were not usual with Chaucer, in these stories of familiar life, to throw in a number of natural circumstances, not to be found in his original authors.’—Tyrwhitt. Warton thinks that Chaucer took it rather from Valerius Maximus, who has the same story; i. 7. He has, however, overlooked the statement in l. 4254, which decides for Cicero. I here quote the whole of the former story, as given by Valerius. ‘Duo familiares Arcades iter una facientes, Megaram venerunt; quorum alter ad hospitem se contulit, alter in tabernam meritoriam devertit. Is, qui in hospitio venit, vidit in somnis comitem suam orantem, ut sibi cauponis insidiis circumvento subveniret: posse enim celeri ejus accursu se imminenti periculo subtrahi. Quo viso excitatus, prosiluit, tabernamque, in qua is diversabatur, petere conatus est. Pestifero deinde fato ejus humanissimum propositum tanquam supervacuum damnavit, et lectum ac somnum repetiit. Tunc idem ei saucius oblatus obsecravit, ut qui auxilium vitae suae ferre neglexisset, neci saltem ultionem non negaret. Corpus enim suum à caupone trucidatum, tum maxime plaustro ad portam ferri stercore coöpertum. Tam constantibus familiaris precibus compulsus, protinus ad portam cucurrit, et plaustrum, quod in quiete demonstratum erat, comprehendit, cauponemque ad capitale supplicium perduxit.’ Valerii Maximi, lib. i. c. 7 (De Somniis). Cf. Cicero, De Divinatione, i. 27.
4194.oxes; written oxe in Hl. Cp. Ln; where oxe corresponds to the older English gen. oxan, of an ox—oxe standing for oxen (as in Oxenford, see note on l. 285 of Prologue). Thus oxes and oxe are equivalent.
4200.took of this no keep, took no heed to this, paid no attention to it.
4211.sooth to sayn, to say (tell) the truth.
4232.gapinge. The phrase gaping upright occurs elsewhere (see Knightes Tale, A. 2008), and signifies lying flat on the back with the mouth open. Cf. ‘Dede he sate uprighte,’ i.e. he lay on his back dead. The Sowdone of Babyloyne, l. 530.
4235.Harrow, a cry of distress; a cry for help. ‘Harrow! alas! I swelt here as I go.’—The Ordinary; see vol. iii. p. 150, of the Ancient Drama. See F. haro in Godefroy and Littré; and note to A. 3286.
4237.outsterte (Elles., &c.); upsterte (Hn., Harl.)
4242. A common proverb. Skelton, ed. Dyce, i. 50, has ‘I drede mordre wolde come oute.’
4274.And preyde him his viáge for to lette, And prayed him to abandon his journey.
4275.to abyde, to stay where he was.
4279.my thinges, my business-matters.
4300. ‘Kenelm succeeded his father Kenulph on the throne of the Mercians in 821 [Haydn, Book of Dates, says 819] at the age of seven years, and was murdered by order of his aunt, Quenedreda. He was subsequently made a saint, and his legend will be found in Capgrave, or in the Golden Legend.’—Wright.
St. Kenelm’s day is Dec. 13. Alban Butler, in his Lives of the Saints, says:—[Kenulph] ‘dying in 819, left his son Kenelm, a child only seven years old [see l. 4307] heir to his crown, under the tutelage of his sister Quindride. This ambitious woman committed his person to the care of one Ascobert, whom she had hired to make away with him. The wicked minister decoyed the innocent child into an unfrequented wood, cut off his head, and buried him under a thorn-tree. His corpse is said to have been discovered by a heavenly ray of light which shone over the place, and by the following inscription:—
Milton tells the story in his History of Britain, bk. iv. ed. 1695, p. 218, and refers us to Matthew of Westminster. He adds that the ‘inscription’ was inside a note, which was miraculously dropped by a dove on the altar at Rome. Our great poet’s verson of it is:—
Clent is near the boundary between Staffordshire and Worcestershire.
Neither of these accounts mentions Kenelm’s dream, but it is given in his Life, as printed in Early Eng. Poems, ed. Furnivall (Phil. Soc. 1862), p. 51, and in Caxton’s Golden Legend. St. Kenelm dreamt that he saw a noble tree with waxlights upon it, and that he climbed to the top of it; whereupon one of his best friends cut it down, and he was turned into a little bird, and flew up to heaven. The little bird denoted his soul, and the flight to heaven his death.
4307.For traisoun, i. e. for fear of treason.
4314.Cipioun. The Somnium Scipionis of Cicero, as annotated by Macrobius, was a favourite work during the middle ages. See note to l. 31 of the Parl. of Foules.
4328. See the Monkes Tale, B. 3917, and the note, p. 246.
4331.Lo heer Andromacha. Andromache’s dream is not to be found in Homer. It is mentioned in chapter xxiv. of Dares Phrygius, the authority for the history of the Trojan war most popular in the middle ages. See the Troy-book, ed. Panton and Donaldson (E. E. T. S.), l. 8425; or Lydgate’s Siege of Troye, c. 27.
4341.as for conclusioun, in conclusion.
4344.telle . . . no store, set no store by them; reckon them of no value; count them as useless.
4346.never a del, never a whit, not in the slightest degree.
4350. This line is repeated from the Compleynt of Mars, l. 61.
4353–6. ‘By way of quiet retaliation for Partlet’s sarcasm, he cites a Latin proverbial saying, in l. 344, ‘Mulier est hominis confusio,’ which he turns into a pretended compliment by the false translation in ll. 345, 346.’—Marsh. Tyrwhitt quotes it from Vincent of Beauvais, Spec. Hist. x. 71. Chaucer has already referred to this saying above; see p. 207, l. 2296. ‘A woman, as saith the philosofre [i. e. Vincent], is the confusion of man, insaciable, &c.’; Dialogue of Creatures, cap. cxxi. ‘Est damnum dulce mulier, confusio sponsi’; Adolphi Fabulae, x. 567; pr. in Leyser, Hist. Poet. Med. Aevi, p. 2031. Cf. note to D. 1195.
4365.lay, for that lay. Chaucer omits the relative, as is frequently done in Middle English poetry; see note to l. 4090.
4377. According to Beda, the creation took place at the vernal equinox; see Morley, Eng. Writers, 1888, ii. 146. Cf. note to l. 4045.
4384. See note on l. 4045 above.
4395. Cf. Man of Lawes Tale, B. 421, and note. See Prov. xiv. 13.
4398. In the margin of MSS. E. and Hn. is written ‘Petrus Comestor,’ who is probably here referred to.
4402. See the Squieres Tale, F. 287, and the note.
4405.col-fox; explained by Bailey as a ‘coal-black fox’; and he seems to have caught the right idea. Col- here represents M. E. col, coal; and the reference is to the brant-fox, which is explained in the New E. Dict. as borrowed from the G. brand-fuchs, ‘the German name of a variety of the fox, chiefly distinguished by a greater admixture of black in its fur; according to Grimm, it has black feet, ears, and tail.’ Chaucer expressly refers to the black-tipped tail and ears in l. 4094 above. Mr. Bradley cites the G. kohlfuchs and Du. koolvos, similarly formed; but the ordinary dictionaries do not give these names. The old explanation of col-fox as meaning ‘deceitful fox’ is difficult to establish, and is now unnecessary.
4412.undern; see note to E. 260.
4417.Scariot, i. e. Judas Iscariot. Genilon; the traitor who caused the defeat of Charlemagne, and the death of Roland; see Book of the Duchesse, 1121, and the note in vol. i. p. 491.
4418. See Vergil, Æn. ii. 259.
4430.bulte it to the bren, sift the matter; cf. the phrase to boult the bran. See the argument in Troilus, iv. 967; cf. Milton, P. L. ii. 560.
4432.Boece, i. e. Boethius. See note to Kn. Tale, A. 1163.
Bradwardyn. Thomas Bradwardine was Proctor in the University of Oxford in the year 1325, and afterwards became Divinity Professor and Chancellor of the University. His chief work is ‘On the Cause of God’ (De Causâ Dei). See Morley’s English Writers, iv. 61.
4446.colde, baneful, fatal. The proverb is Icelandic; ‘köld eru opt kvenna-ráð,’ cold (fatal) are oft women’s counsels; Icel. Dict. s. v. kaldr. It occurs early, in The Proverbs of Alfred, ed. Morris, Text 1, l. 336:—‘Cold red is quene red.’ Cf. B. 2286, and the note.
4450–6. Imitated from Le Roman de la Rose, 15397–437.
4461.Phisiologus. ‘He alludes to a book in Latin metre, entitled Physiologus de Naturis xii. Animalium, by one Theobaldus, whose age is not known. The chapter De Sirenis begins thus:—
See The Bestiary, in Dr. Morris’s Old English Miscellany, pp. 18, 207; Philip de Thaun, Le Bestiaire, l. 664; Babees Book, pp. 233, 237; Mätzner’s Sprachproben, i. 55; Gower, C. A. i. 58; and cf. Rom. Rose, Eng. Version, 680 (in vol. i. p. 122).
4467. In Douglas’s Virgil, prol. to Book xi. st. 15, we have—
i. e. if thou turn coward, (and) a recreant craven, and consent to cry cok, thy death is imminent. In a note on this passage, Ruddiman says—‘Cok is the sound which cocks utter when they are beaten.’ But it is probable that this is only a guess, and that Douglas is merely quoting Chaucer. To cry cok! cok! refers rather to the utterance of rapid cries of alarm, as fowls cry when scared. Brand (Pop. Antiq., ed. Ellis, ii. 58) copies Ruddiman’s explanation of the above passage.
4484. Boethius wrote a treatise De Musica, quoted by Chaucer in the Hous of Fame; see my note to l. 788 of that poem (vol. iii. p. 260).
4490. ‘As I hope to retain the use of my two eyes.’ So Havelok, l. 2545:—
‘So mote ich brouke mi Rith eie!’
And l. 1743:—‘So mote ich brouke finger or to.’
And l. 311:—‘So brouke i euere mi blake swire!’
swire=neck. See also Brouke in the Glossary to Gamelyn.
4502.daun Burnel the Asse. ‘The story alluded to is in a poem of Nigellus Wireker, entitled Burnellus seu Speculum Stultorum, written in the time of Richard I. In the Chester Whitsun Playes, Burnell is used as a nickname for an ass. The original word was probably brunell, from its brown colour; as the fox below is called Russel, from his red colour.’—Tyrwhitt. The Latin story is printed in The Anglo-Latin Satirists of the Twelfth Century, ed. T. Wright, i. 55; see also Wright’s Biographia Britannica Literaria, Anglo-Norman Period, p. 356. There is an amusing translation of it in Lowland Scotch, printed as ‘The Unicornis Tale’ in Small’s edition of Laing’s Select Remains of Scotch Poetry, ed. 1885, p. 285. It tells how a certain young Gundulfus broke a cock’s leg by throwing a stone at him. On the morning of the day when Gundulfus was to be ordained and to receive a benefice, the cock took his revenge by not crowing till much later than usual; and so Gundulfus was too late for the ceremony, and lost his benefice. Cf. Warton, Hist. E. P., ed. 1871, ii. 352; Lounsbury, Studies in Chaucer, ii. 338. As to the name Russel, see note to l. 4039.
4516. See Rom. of the Rose (E. version), 1050. MS. E. alone reads courtes; Hn. Cm. Cp. Pt. have court; Ln. courte; Hl. hous.
4519.Ecclesiaste; not Ecclesiastes, but Ecclesiasticus, xii. 10, 11, 16 Cf. Tale of Melibeus, B. 2368.
4525. Tyrwhitt cites the O. F. form gargate, i. e. (throat), from the Roman de Rou. Several examples of it are given by Godefroy.
4537.O Gaufred. ‘He alludes to a passage in the Nova Poetria of Geoffrey de Vinsauf, published not long after the death of Richard I. In this work the author has not only given instructions for composing in the different styles of poetry, but also examples. His specimen of the plaintive style begins thus:—
These lines are sufficient to show the object and the propriety of Chaucer’s ridicule. The whole poem is printed in Leyser’s Hist. Poet. Med. Ævi, pp. 862–978.’—Tyrwhitt. See a description of the poem, with numerous quotations, in Wright’s Biographia Britannica Literaria, Anglo-Norman Period, p. 400; cf. Lounsbury, Studies, ii. 341.
4538. Richard I. died on April 6, 1199, on Tuesday; but he received his wound on Friday, March 26.
4540.Why ne hadde I = O that I had.
4547.streite swerd = drawn (naked) sword. Cf. Aeneid, ii. 333, 334:—
4548. See Aeneid, ii. 550–553.
4553.Hasdrubal; not Hannibal’s brother, but the King of Carthage when the Romans burnt it, 146. Hasdrubal slew himself; and his wife and her two sons burnt themselves in despair; see Orosius, iv. 13. 3, or Ælfred’s translation, ed. Sweet, p. 212. Lydgate has the story in his Fall of Princes, bk. v. capp. 12 and 27.
4573. See note to Ho. Fame, 1277 (in vol. iii. p. 273). ‘Colle furit’; Morley, Eng. Writers, 1889, iv. 179.
4584. Walsingham relates how, in 1381, Jakke Straw and his men killed many Flemings ‘cum clamore consueto.’ He also speaks of the noise made by the rebels as ‘clamor horrendissimus.’ See Jakke in Tyrwhitt’s Glossary. So also, in Riley’s Memorials of London, p. 450, it is said, with respect to the same event—‘In the Vintry was a very great massacre of Flemings.’
4590.houped. See Piers Plowman, B. vi. 174; ‘houped after Hunger, that herde hym,’ &c.
4616. Repeated in D. 1062.
4633. ‘Mes retiengnent le grain et jettent hors la paille’; Test. de Jean de Meun, 2168.
4635.my Lord. A side-note in MS. E. explains this to refer to the Archbishop of Canterbury; doubtless William Courtenay, archbishop from 1381 to 1396. Cf. note to l. 4584, which shews that this Tale is later than 1381; and it was probably earlier than 1396. Note that good men is practically a compound, as in l. 4630. Hence read good, not gōd-e.
Epilogue to the Nonne Preestes Tale.
4641. Repeated from B. 3135.
4643.Thee wer-e nede, there would be need for thee.
4649.brasil, a wood used for dyeing of a bright red colour; hence the allusion. It is mentioned as being used for dyeing leather in Riley’s Memorials of London, p. 364. ‘Brasil-wood; this name is now applied in trade to the dye-wood imported from Pernambuco, which is derived from certain species of Cæsalpinia indigenous there. But it originally applied to a dye-wood of the same genus which was imported from India, and which is now known in trade as Sappan. The history of the word is very curious. For when the name was applied to the newly discovered region in S. America, probably, as Barros alleges, because it produced a dye-wood similar in character to the brazil of the East, the trade-name gradually became appropriated to the S. American product, and was taken away from that of the E. Indies. See some further remarks in Marco Polo, ed. Yule, 2nd ed. ii. 368–370.
‘This is alluded to also by Camoẽs (Lusiad, x. 140). Burton’s translation has:—
‘The medieval forms of brazil were many; in Italian, it is generally verzi, verzino, or the like.’—Yule, Hobson-Jobson, p. 86.
Again—‘Sappan, the wood of Cæsalpinia sappan; the baqqam of the Arabs, and the Brazil-wood of medieval commerce. The tree appears to be indigenous in Malabar, the Deccan, and the Malay peninsula.’—id. p. 600. And in Yule’s edition of Marco Polo, ii. 315, he tells us that ‘it is extensively used by native dyers, chiefly for common and cheap cloths, and for fine mats. The dye is precipitated dark-brown with iron, and red with alum.’
Cf. Way’s note on the word in the Prompt. Parv. p. 47.
Florio explains Ital. verzino as ‘brazell woode, or fernanbucke [Pernambuco] to dye red withall.’
The etymology is disputed, but I think brasil and Ital. verzino are alike due to the Pers. wars, saffron; cf. Arab. warīs, dyed with saffron or wars.
greyn of Portingale. Greyn, mod. E. grain, is the term applied to the dye produced by the coccus insect, often termed, in commerce and the arts, kermes; see Marsh, Lectures on the E. Language, Lect. III. The colour thus produced was ‘fast,’ i. e. would not wash out; hence the phrase to engrain, or to dye in grain, meaning to dye of a fast colour. Various tones of red were thus produced, one of which was crimson, and another carmine, both forms being derivatives of kermes. Of Portingale means ‘imported from Portugal.’ In the Libell of English Policy, cap. ii. (l. 132), it is said that, among ‘the commoditees of Portingale’ are:—‘oyl, wyn, osey [Alsace wine], wex, and graine.’
4652.to another, to another of the pilgrims. This is so absurdly indefinite that it can hardly be genuine. Ll. 4637–4649 are in Chaucer’s most characteristic manner, and are obviously genuine; but there, I suspect, we must stop, viz. at the word Portingale. The next three lines form a mere stop-gap, and are either spurious, or were jotted down temporarily, to await the time of revision. The former is more probable.
This Epilogue is only found in three MSS.; (see footnote, p. 289). In Dd., Group G follows, beginning with the Second Nun’s Tale. In the other two MSS., Group H follows, i. e. the Manciple’s Tale; nevertheless, MS. Addit. absurdly puts the Nunne, in place of another. The net result is, that, at this place, the gap is complete; with no hint as to what Tale should follow.
It is worthy of note that this Epilogue is preserved in Thynne and the old black-letter editions, in which it is followed immediately by the Manciple’s Prologue. This arrangement is obviously wrong, because that Prologue is not introduced by the Host (as said in l. 4652).
In l. 4650, Thynne has But for Now; and his last line runs—‘Sayd to a nother man, as ye shal here.’ I adopt his reading of to for unto (as in the MSS.).