Front Page Titles (by Subject) Epilogue to the Nonne Preestes Tale. - Notes to the Canterbury Tales (Works vol. 5)
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Epilogue to the Nonne Preestes Tale. - 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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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.).
NOTES TO GROUP C.