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The Clerkes 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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The Clerkes Tale.
57. In many places this story is translated from Petrarch almost word for word; and as Tyrwhitt remarks, it would be endless to cite illustrative passages from the original Latin; see further in vol. iii. p.453. The first stanza is praised by Professor Lowell, in his Study Windows, p. 208, where he says—‘What a sweep of vision is here!’ Chaucer is not quite so close a translator here as usual; the passage in Petrarch being—‘Inter caetera ad radicem Vesuli, terra Salutiarum, uicis et castellis satis frequens, Marchionum arbitrio nobilium quorundum regitur uirorum.’
82.leet he slyde, he allowed to pass unattended to, neglected. So we find ‘Let the world slide’; Induction to Taming of the Shrew, l. 5; and ‘The state of vertue never slides’; The Sturdy Rock (in Percy’s Reliques). See March’s Student’s Manual of Eng. Lang. p. 125, where the expression is noted as still current in America. Petrarch has—‘alia pene cuncta negligeret.’ With ll. 83–140, cf. Shakesp. Sonnets, i-xvii.
86.flockmele, in a flock or troop; Pet. has ‘cateruatim.’ ‘Treuly theder came flockemele the multitude of tho blessyd sowlys’:—Monk of Evesham, ed. Arber, c. 55; p. 107. Palsgrave’s French Dict. has—‘Flockmeale, par troupeaux’; fol. 440, back. Cf. E. piece-meal; we also find wukemalum, week by week, Ormulum, 536; lim-mele, limb from limb, Layamon, 25618; hipyllmelum, by heaps, Wycl. Bible, Wisdom xviii. 25: Koch, Eng. Gramm. ii. 292.
99. ‘Although I have no more to do with this matter than others have who are here present.’ Observe that the Marquis is addressed as ye, not thou, the former being a title of respect.
103–105. These three lines are not in the original.
106. We should have expected to find here us lyketh ye, i. e. you are pleasing to us; but we really have an instance of a double dative, so that us lyketh yow is equivalent to ‘it pleases us with respect to you.’ The nominative case is ye, the dative and accusative yow or you. Yow leste, it may please you, in l. 111, is the usual idiom.
107.and ever han doon, and (both you and your doings) have ever brought it about. Such is the usual force of doon; cf. ll. 253, 1098.
115. Cf. Barbour’s Bruce, ed. Skeat, i. 266–8.—M.
118–119. Expanded from—‘uolant enim dies rapidi.’
121.still as stoon; Latin text, ‘tacita.’ Cf. F. 171.
129.we wol chese yow, we will choose for you.
147.Ther, where. This line is Chaucer’s own.
157.Bountee, goodness. streen, race, stock. Petrarch has—‘Quicquid in homine boni est, non ab alio quam a Deo est.’
168.As, as if. This line, in Petrarch, comes after l. 173. Lines 174, 175 are Chaucer’s own.
172.as ever, &c., as ever I may thrive, as I hope to thrive.
190–196. Expanded from—‘Et ipse nihilominus eam ipsam nuptiarum curam domesticis suis imposuit, edixitque diem.’
197–203. Expanded from—‘Fuit haud procul a palatio uillula paucorum atque inopum incolarum.’
211–217. Sometimes Chaucer translates literally, and sometimes he merely paraphrases, as here. Lines 215–217 are all his own.
220.rype and sad corage, a mature and staid disposition. Petrarch has—‘sed uirilis senilisque animus uirgineo latebat in pectore.’
223.spinning; i. e. she spun whilst keeping the sheep; see a picture of St. Geneviève in Mrs. Jameson’s Sacred and Legendary Art. Line 224 is Chaucer’s.
227.shredde and seeth, sliced and sod (or boiled). Lat. ‘domum rediens oluscula et dapes fortunae congruas praeparabat, durumque cubiculum sternebat,’ &c.
229.on lofte, aloft. She kept up her father’s life, i. e. sustained him. His death is recorded in l. 1134.
234. For this line the Latin has only the word transiens.
237.in sad wyse, soberly; Lat. ‘senili grauitate.’
242. Here the people means the common people; Lat. ‘uulgi oculis.’ In the next line he is empathic, meaning that his eyes were quicker to perceive than theirs.
253.hath don make, hath caused to be made. Lat. ‘Ipse interim et anulos aureos et coronas et balteos conquirebat.’ Chaucer inserts asure, the colour of fidelity; see F. 644, and note. For balteos he substitutes the English phrase broches and ringes; cf. P. Plowm. B. prol. 75.
257. Scan—Bý | a maýd | e lýk | to hír | statúrë.∥
259. Here Chaucer apparently omits a sentence, namely:—‘Uenerat expectatus dies, et cum nullus sponsae rumor audiretur, admiratio omnium uehementer excreuerat.’ But he has, in fact, given us this above, in ll. 246–8.
260.undern (lit. the intervening or middle period) has two meanings in the Teutonic tongues; (1) mid-forenoon, i. e. originally 9 a.m.; and (2) mid-afternoon, originally 3 p.m. In this passage it is clearly the former that is meant; indeed in l. 981, where it occurs again, the original has ‘proximae lucis hora tertia,’ i.e. 9 a.m. In this passage, the original has hora prandii, meaning luncheon-time, which in Chaucer’s time would often be 9 a.m.; see note to B. 1396, at p. 171; and cf. Ælfric’s Homilies, ed. Thorpe, ii. 77. See note to Piers Pl. B. vi. 147; and see Undern in the Glossary.
But it may be noted here, that the sense of undern is variable. Sometimes it meant the period from 9 to 12, or the middle of that period, i.e. about 10.30 or 11. Sometimes, the period from 3 to 6 p.m., or the middle of it, i.e. about 4.30 or 4. In modern E. dialects, it means about 4 p.m. See B. 4412, D. 875.
260–294. Expanded and improved from the following short passage: ‘Hora iam prandii aderat, iamque apparatu ingenti domus tota feruebat. Tum Gualtherus, aduentanti ueluti sponsae obuiam profecturus, domo egreditur, prosequente uirorum et matronarum nobilium caterua. Griseldis omnium quae erga se pararentur ignara, peractis quae agenda domi erant, aquam e longinquo fonte conuectans paternum limen intrabat: ut, expedita curis aliis, ad uisendam domini sui sponsam cum puellis comitibus properaret.’
322.governeth, arrange, dispose of. Observe the use of the plural imperative, as a mark of respect. When the marquis addresses Griseldis as ye, it is a mark of extreme condescension on his part; the Latin text has tu and te.
337–343. Expanded from—‘insolito tanti hospitis aduentu stupidam inuenere; quam iis uerbis Gualtherus aggreditur.’
350.yow avyse, consider the matter; really a delicate way of expressing refusal. Compare the legal formula le roy s’avisera for expressing the royal refusal to a proposed measure.
364.For to be deed, even if I were to be dead, were to die; Lat. ‘et si me mori iusseris, quod moleste feram.’
375–376. These characteristic lines are Chaucer’s own. So are ll. 382, 383.
381.corone, nuptial garland; Lat. ‘corona.’ See Brand’s Pop. Antiq. ed. Ellis, ii. 123.
388.snow-whyt; Lat. ‘niueo.’ Perhaps Spenser took a hint from this; F. Q. i. 1. 4. In the Leg. of Good Women, l. 1198, Chaucer calls a horse paper-whyt.
393. Repeated, slightly altered, from l. 341.
409.thewes, mental qualities. So also in E. 1542; Gower, Conf. Amant. lib. vii. sect. 1 (ed. Pauli, iii. 85); Spenser, F. Q. i. 9. 3; i. 10. 4; ii. 1. 33, &c. ‘The common signification of the word thews in our old writers, is manners, or qualities of mind and disposition . . . By thews Shakespeare means unquestionably brawn, nerves, muscular vigour (Jul. Caes. i. 3; 2 Hen. IV, iii. 2; Hamlet, i. 3). And to this sense, and this only, the word has now settled down; the other sense, which was formerly so familiar in our literature, is quite gone out and forgotten. [With respect to theawe=sinew, in Layamon, l. 6361] Sir F. Madden remarks (iii. 471):—“This is the only instance in the poem of the word being applied to bodily qualities, nor has any other passage of an earlier date than the sixteenth century been found in which it is so used.” It may be conjectured that it had only been a provincial word in this sense, till Shakespeare adopted it’; Craik’s English of Shakespeare; note on Jul. Caesar, i. 3. 81.
412.embrace, hold fast; ‘omnium animos nexu sibi magni amoris astrinxerat.’ Compare Tennyson’s Lord of Burleigh with ll. 394–413.
413. Nearly identical with Troil. i. 1078.
421.royally; alluding to the royal virtues of Griseldis.
429. Not only the context, but the Latin text, justifies the reading homlinesse. Feet is fact, i. e. act. The Latin is—‘Neque uero solers sponsa muliebria tantum haec domestica, sed, ubi res posceret, publica etiam obibat officia.’ Lines 432–434 are Chaucer’s own.
444. ‘Although it would have been liefer to her to have borne a male child’; i. e. she would rather, &c. The Latin has—‘quamuis filium maluisset.’
449–462. Expanded from—‘Cepit (ut fit) interim Gualtherum, cum iam ablactata esset infantula (mirabilis quaedam quàm laudabilis, [aliter, an mirabile quidem magis quam laudabile,] doctiores iudicent) cupiditas satis expertam charae fidem coniugis experiendi altius [aliter, ulterius], et iterum atque iterum retentandi.’
452.tempte, make trial of, prove; see ll. 1152, 1153 below. sadnesse, constancy, equanimity.
483. Note Walter’s use of the word thee here, and of thy twice in the next stanza, instead of the usual ye. It is a slight, but significant sign of insult, offered under pretence of reporting the opinion of others. In l. 492 we have your again.
504.thing, possession. Lat. ‘de rebus tuis igitur fac ut libet.’
516.a furlong wey or two, the distance of one or two furlongs, a short distance, a little. The line simply means—‘a little after.
525.stalked him; marched himself in, as we should say. This use of him is remarkable, but not uncommon.
533–539. Lat. ‘Iussus sum hanc infantulam accipere, atque eam—Hîc sermone abrupto, quasi crudele ministerium silentio exprimens, subticuit.’ Compare ‘Quos ego—’; Vergil, Aen. i. 135.
540–546. Lat. ‘Suspecta uiri fama; suspecta facies; suspecta hora; suspecta erat oratio; quibus etsi clare occisum iri dulcem filiam intelligeret, nec lachrymulam tamen ullam, nec suspirium dedit.’ Mr. Wright quotes this otherwise, putting dulce for dulcem, and stopping at intelligeret.
547–567. Chaucer expands the Latin, and transposes some of the matter. Lines 561–563 precede ll. 547–560 in the original, which merely has—‘in nutrice quidem, nedum in matre durissimum; sed tranquilla fronte puellulam accipiens aliquantulum respexit & simul exosculans benedixit, ac signum sanctae crucis impressit, porrexitque satelliti.’
570. After That in this line, we ought, in strict grammar, to have ye burie in the next line, instead of the imperative burieth. But the phrase is idiomatic, and as all the seven best MSS. agree in this reading, it is best to retain it. Tyrwhitt alters That but to But if.
579.Somwhat, in some degree. But Petrarch says differently—‘uehementer paterna animum pietas mouit.’
582–591. Lat. ‘Iussit satelliti obuolutam pannis, cistae iniectam, ac iumento impositam, quiete omni quanta posset diligentia Bononiam deferret ad sororem suam, quae illic comiti de Panico nupta erat,’ &c.
586. ‘But, under penalty of having his head cut off’; lit. of cutting off his head.
589.Boloigne, Bologna, E. by S. from Modena, and a long way from Saluzzo. Panik answers to the de Panico in note to l. 582; Boccaccio has Panago. I observe in the map the river Panaro flowing between Modena and Bologna; perhaps there is some connexion between the names. Tyrwhitt has Pavie (Pavia) in his text, but corrects it in the notes.
602.in oon, in one and the same state: ever in oon, always alike, continually; so also in l. 677. Cf. Kn. Ta. 913 (A. 1771).
607. This must mean—‘no accidental sign of any calamity.’
612.A knave child, a male child, boy; as in Barbour’s Bruce, xiii. 693; English Gilds, ed. T. Smith, p. 30.
615.merië; three syllables; cf. A. 1386, B. 4156. Ll. 621–623 are Chaucer’s own.
625.sikly berth, hardly bear, dislike. Lat. ‘populum aegre ferre,’ &c.
643. Lat. ‘ne te inopinus et subitus dolor turbet.’
645–651. Expanded from—‘Dixi (ait) et repeto, nihil possum seu uelle, seu nolle, nisi quae tu; neque uero in ijs filiis quicquam habeo, praeter laborem.’
663.plesancë, three syllables; stabl’, one syllable.
666. ‘The pain of death is not to be compared to the pleasure of your love.’ Lat. ‘nec mors ipsa nostro fuerit par amori.’ Cf. ll. 817, 1091.
687.ever lenger, &c., i. e. ever the longer (he thinks of it) the more he wonders. In the more, the word the is for A. S. þý.
700.And he; cf. And ye, l. 105.
701–707. Expanded from—‘sed sunt qui, ubi semel inceperint, non desinant; immo incumbant, haereantque proposito.’
704.a stake; cf. Macb. v. 7. 1; Jul. Caesar, iv. 1. 48.
714.more penible, more painstaking; Lat. ‘obsequentior.’
719. ‘She made it clear that no wife should of herself, on account of any worldly anxiety, have any will, in practice, different from that of her husband.’
722.sclaundre, ill fame, ill report concerning Walter. See l. 730.
738.message, a messenger; Lat. ‘nuncios Romam misit.’ So in Old English we find prisoun or prison for prisoner; Piers Pl. B. vii. 30.
772.anon, immediately. It was not uncommon in olden times for girls to be married at twelve years of age. The Wife of Bath was first married at that age; see D. 4.
797. Lat. ‘magna omnis fortuna seruitus magna est; non mihi licet, quod cuilibet liceret agricolae.’
850.were agrees with the word clothes following; cf. it ben, Piers Plowm. B. vi. 56. She did not really bring her husband even the dower of her old clothes, as they had been taken from her. Lines 851–861 are all Chaucer’s own, and shew his delicacy of touch.
866. Lat. ‘neque omnino alia mihi dos fuit, quam fides et nuditas.’
871. Probably suggested by Job, i. 21. So l. 902 is from Job, iii. 3.
880–882. These lines are Chaucer’s own; l. 880 is characteristic of him. The phrase in l. 880 seems to have been proverbial. Cf. ‘I walke as werme, withoute wede’; Coventry Mysteries, p. 28. But Chaucer got it from Le Roman de la Rose, 445; see his translation, l. 454; vol. i. p. 112.
888–889. The latter part of l. 888, and l. 889, are Chaucer’s own.
903.lyves, alive; a lyves creature, a creature alive, a living being. Lyves is an adverb, formed like nedes, from the genitive case of the substantive. There are other instances of its use.
‘Yif I late him liues go’; Havelok, 509.
i. e. if I let him go away alive. And again lyues=alive, in Piers Pl. B. xix. 154. Nearly repeated from Troil. iv. 251–2.
910. After this line, Chaucer has omitted the circumstance of Janicola’s preserving his daughter’s old clothing; ‘tunicam eius hispidam, et attritam senio, abditam paruae domus in parte seruauerat.’ See l. 913.
911.Agayns, towards, so as to meet. To go agayns, in M. E., is to go to meet. So also to come agayns, to ride agayns (or agayn). See Agayn in Glossary to Spec. of Eng. (Morris and Skeat); and Barbour’s Bruce, xiv. 420. Ll. 915–917 are Chaucer’s own.
916. ‘For the cloth was poor, and many days older now than on the day of her marriage.’
932. ‘Men speak of Job, and particularly of his humility.’ Cf. Job, xl. 4, xlii. 1-6.
934.Namely of men, especially of men, where men is emphatic. The whole of this stanza (932–938) is Chaucer’s.
938.but, except, unless; falle, fallen, happened; of-newe, newly, an adverbial expression. It means then, ‘unless it has happened very lately.’ In other words, ‘If there is an example of a man surpassing a woman in humility, it must have happened very lately; for I have never heard of it.’
939.Pars Sexta. This indication of a new part comes in a fitting place, and is taken from Tyrwhitt, who may have found it in a MS. But there is no break here in the Latin original, nor in any of the MSS. of Chaucer which I have consulted. erl of Panik; Lat. ‘Panicius comes.’
940.more and lesse, greater or smaller; i. e. everybody. So also in the Frank. Tale, ‘riveres more and lesse’; F. 1054. So also moche and lyte, great and small, Prol. 494; moste and leste, greatest and least, A. 2198. Spenser has, F. Q. vi. 6. 12,—
‘’Gainst all, both bad and good, both most and least.’
941.alle and some, i. e. all and one, one and all. See Morris’s Eng. Accidence, sect. 218, p. 142.
960.wommen; some MSS. have womman, as in Tyrwhitt. But MS. E. is right. Petrarch uses the word foeminas, not foeminam.
965.yvel biseye, ill provided; lit. ill beseen. The word yvel is pronounced here almost as a monosyllable (as it were yv’l), as is so commonly the case with ever; indeed generally, words ending with el and er are often thus clipped. A remarkable instance occurs in the Milleres Tale (A. 3715), where we not only have a similar ending, but the word ever in the same line—
‘That trewë love was ever so yvel biset.’
See also yvel apayed in line 1052 below. The converse to yvel biseye, is richely biseye, richly provided or adorned, in l. 984 below.
981. Lat. ‘Proximae lucis hora tertia comes superuenerat’; see note to l. 260.
995–1008. These two stanzas are Chaucer’s own, and are so good that they must have been a later addition; Prof. Ten Brink suggests the date 1387 (Eng. Lit. ii. 123, Eng. version). In MS. E. the word Auctor is inserted in the margin, and l. 995 begins with a large capital letter. At the beginning of l. 1009 is a paragraph-mark, shewing where the translation begins again. unsad, unsettled. Cf. Shakesp. Cor. i. 1. 186, Jul. Caesar, i. 1. 55; Scott, Lady of the Lake, v. 30.
999. ‘Ever full of tittle-tattle, which would be dear enough at a half-penny.’ See n. to l. 1200. Iane, a small coin of Genoa (Janua); see Rime of Sir Thopas, B. 1925. The first stanza (995–1001) is supposed to be uttered by the sober and discreet part of the population; see l. 1002.
1031.lyketh thee, pleases thee. The marquis addresses her as thou, because all suppose her to be a menial.
1039.mo, lit. more; but also used in the sense of others, or, as here, another. The modern phrase would be, ‘as you did somebody else.’ The extreme delicacy of the hint is admirable. This use of mo is common in Chaucer; see the Glossary. So also, in Specimens of English, ed. Morris and Skeat, we have, at p. 47, l. 51—
i. e. I sigh for unrest, and mourn as other men do. And on the next page, p. 48, l. 22, we have
i. e. ‘The moody moan as others do; I wot I am one of them.’ In l. 240 of How the Good Wife taught her Daughter, pr. with Barbour’s Bruce, ed. Skeat, we find—‘And slanderit folk vald euir haue ma,’ i. e. would ever have others like themselves. Somewhat similar is the expression oþer mo, where we should now say others as well; Piers Plowman, C. v. 10, xxii. 54. A somewhat similar use of mo occurs in Tudor English. ‘It fortuned Diogenes to . . make one among the moo at a dyner.’—Udall, tr. of Erasmus’ Apophthegmes (1564), bk. i. § 91. So also:—‘that he also, emong the mo [i. e. the rest] might haue his pleasure’; id. bk. ii. § 13. Tyrwhitt’s suggestion that Chaucer has licentiously turned me into mo for the mere sake of getting a rime, in which he has hitherto been followed by nearly every editor, is only to be repudiated. It may well have been with the very purpose of guarding against this error that, in the Ellesmere and Hengwrt MSS., the original Latin text is here quoted in the margin—‘unum bona fide te precor ac moneo: ne hanc illis aculeis agites, quibus alteram agitasti.’ Chaucer, who throughout surpasses his original in delicacy of treatment, did not permit himself to be outdone here; and Boccaccio also has the word altra. The use of me would have been a direct charge of unkindness, spoiling the whole story. See l. 1045 and l. 449.
1049.gan his herte dresse, addressed his heart, i. e. prepared it, schooled it. The M. E. dresse is our modern direct; both being from Lat. dirigere.
1053. Here we may once more note the use of the word thy, the more so as it is used with a quite different tone. We sometimes find it used, as here, between equals, as a term of endearment; it is, accordingly, very significant. See l. 1056.
1066.that other, the other, the boy.
1071.non, any, either. The use of it is due to the preceding nat.
1079. Professor Morley, in his English Writers, v. 342, aptly remarks here—‘And when Chaucer has told all, and dwelt with an exquisite pathos of natural emotion all his own upon the patient mother’s piteous and tender kissing of her recovered children—for there is nothing in Boccaccio, and but half a sentence in Petrarch, answering to these four beautiful stanzas (1079–1106)—he rounds all, as Petrarch had done, with simple sense, which gives religious meaning to the tale, then closes with a lighter strain of satire which protects Griselda herself from the mocker.’
1098. ‘Hath caused you (to be) kept.’ For the same idiom, see Kn. Tale, A. 1913; Man of Law’s Tale, B. 171, and the note. Cf. ‘Wher I have beforn ordeyned and do mad [caused to be made] my tombe.’ Royal Wills, ed. Nichols, p. 278.
1133.His wyves fader, i. e. Janicola. This circumstance should have been mentioned before l. 1128, as in the original.
1140. For of (Ellesmere MS.) the other MSS. read in.
1141.auctour, author, i. e. Petrarch, whom Chaucer follows down to l. 1162. Ll. 1138–1141 are Chaucer’s own, and may be compared with his poem on the Golden Age (vol. i. 380).
1144.importable, intolerable; Lat.—‘huius uxoris patientiam, quae mihi uix imitabilis uidetur.’ Of course ll. 1147–8 are Chaucer’s.
1151. ‘Receive all with submission.’ Fr. en gré, gratefully, in good part. sent, sendeth; present tense, as in Piers Plowman, C. xxii. 434. The past tense is sente, which would not rime.
1152. ‘For it is very reasonable that He should prove (or test) that which He created.’
1153.boghte, (hath) redeemed. See St. James, i. 13.
1162. Here Petrarch ends his narrative, and here, beyond all doubt, Chaucer’s translation originally ended also. From this point to the end is the work of a later period, and in his best manner, though unsuited to the coy Clerk. He easily links on his addition by the simple expression lordinges, herkneth; and in l. 1170, he alludes to the Wife of Bath, of whom probably he had never thought when first translating the story.
We can thus understand the stanza in the footnote, on p. 424. It is genuine, but was rejected at the time of adding ll. 1163–1212. It was afterwards expanded into The Monkes Prologue, with the substitution of the patient Prudence for the patient Griselda; see B. 3083–6.
1177. Here the metre changes; the stanzas are of six lines; and all six stanzas are linked together. There are but three rimes throughout; -ence in the first and third lines of every stanza, -aille in the second, fourth, and sixth, (requiring eighteen rimes in all), and -inde in the fifth line. It is a fine example even from a metrical point of view alone.
1188.Chichevache, for chiche vache, i. e. lean cow. The allusion is to an old fable, of French origin, which describes a monstrous cow named Chiche Vache as feeding entirely upon patient wives, and being very lean in consequence of the scarcity of her diet. A later form of the fable adds a second beast, named Bicorne (two-horned), who, by adopting the wiser course of feeding upon patient husbands, was always fat and in good case. Mr. Wright says—‘M. Achille Jubinal, in the notes to his Mystères inédits du xv Siècle, tom. i. p. 390, has printed a French poetical description of Chichevache from a MS. of the fourteenth century. In the French miracle of St. Geneviève, of the fifteenth century (Jubinal, ib. p. 281), a man says satirically to the saint,
A poem by Lydgate on Bycorne and Chichevache is printed in Mr. Halliwell’s Minor Poems of Dan John Lydgate, p. 129 (Percy Society); see Morley’s English Writers, vi. 107, and his Shorter English Poems, p. 55. In his Étude sur G. Chaucer, p. 221, M. Sandras refers us, for information about Chicheface, lit. ‘thin face’ or ‘ugly face’ (of which Chiche vache was a perversion), to the Histoire Littéraire de France, vol. xxiii. Dr. Murray refers us to Montaiglon, Poésie franç. 15eet 16esiècles (1855), ii. 191. The passage in Chaucer means, ‘Beware of being too patient, lest Chichevache swallow you down.’
1189.Folweth Ekko, imitate Echo, who always replies.
1196. The forms chamail, kamail, a camel, occur in the A.F. Romance of King Horn, ed. Brede and Stengel, l. 4177. For the M.E. camayl, see Rich. Cuer de Lion, 2323; Cursor Mundi, 3304 (Trin. MS.).
1200. ‘Always talk (or rattle) on, like a mill’ (that is always going round and making a noise). ‘Janglinge is whan men speken to muche biforn folk, and clappen as a mille, and taken no kepe what they seye’; Ch. Persones Tale, De Superbia (I. 406). Palsgrave’s French Dict. has—‘I clappe, I make a noyse as the clapper of a mill, Ie clacque.’
‘Thou art as fulle of clappe, as is a mille.’
Hoccleve, de Regimine Principum, ed. Wright, p. 7.
Cf. ‘As fast as millwheels strike’; Tempest, i. 2. 281.
1204.aventaille, the lower half of the moveable part of a helmet which admitted air; called by Spenser the ventail, F. Q. iv. 6. 19; v. 8. 12; and by Shakespeare the beaver, Hamlet, i. 2. 230. It is explained, in Douce’s Illustrations of Shakespeare, that the moveable part of the helmet in front was made in two parts, which turned on hinges at the sides of the head. The upper part is the visor, to admit of vision, the lower the ventail, to admit of breathing. Both parts could be removed from the face, but only by lifting them upwards, and throwing them back. If the visor alone were lifted, only the upper part of the face was exposed; but if the ventail were lifted, the visor also went with it, and the whole of the face was seen. Compare Fairfax’s Tasso, vii. 7:—
So also in Hamlet. With reference to the present passage, Mr. Jephson says that and eek his aventaille is a perfect example of bathos. I fail to see why; the weapon that pierced a ventail would pass into the head, and inflict a death-wound. The passage is playful, but not silly.
1206.couche, cower. Hence the phrase—‘to play couch-quail’; see Skelton, ed. Dyce, ii. 348.
1211. ‘As light as a leaf on a linden-tree’ was an old proverb. See Piers Pl. B. i. 154.