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INTRODUCTION: THE MINOR POEMS. - Geoffrey Chaucer, The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, vol. 1 (Romaunt of the Rose, Minor Poems) 
The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, edited from numerous manuscripts by the Rev. Walter W. Skeat (2nd ed.) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1899). 7 vols.
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THE MINOR POEMS.
§ 1.It has been usual, in editions of Chaucer’s Works, to mingle with those which he is known to have written, a heterogeneous jumble of poems by Gower, Lydgate, Hoccleve, Henrysoun, and various anonymous writers (some of quite late date), and then to accept a quotation from any one of them as being a quotation ‘from Chaucer.’ Some principle of selection is obviously desirable; and the first question that arises is, naturally, this: which of the Minor Poems are genuine? The list here given partly coincides with that adopted by Dr. Furnivall in the publications of the Chaucer Society. I have, however, added six, here numbered vi, xi, xii, xxi, xxii, and xxiii; my reasons for doing so are given below, where each poem is discussed separately. At the same time, I have omitted the poem entitled ‘The Mother of God,’ which is known to have been written by Hoccleve. The only known copy of it is in a MS. now in the library of the late Sir Thomas Phillipps, which contains sixteen poems, all of which are by the same hand, viz. that of Hoccleve. After all, it is only a translation; still, it is well and carefully written, and the imitation of Chaucer’s style is good. In determining which poems have the best right to be reckoned as Chaucer’s, we have to consider both the external and the internal evidence.
We will therefore consider, in the first place, the external evidence generally.
Testimony of Chaucer regarding his works.
The most important evidence is that afforded by the poet himself. In an Introduction prefixed to the Man of Law’s Prologue (Cant. Tales, B 57), he says—
‘In youth he made of Ceys and Alcion’—
a story which is preserved at the beginning of the Book of the Duchesse.
In the Prologue to the Legend of Good Women (see vol. iii.), he refers to his translation of the Romaunce of the Rose, and to his Troilus; and, according to MS. Fairfax 16, ll. 417-423, he says—
The rest of the passage does not immediately concern us, excepting ll. 427, 428, where we find—
In the copy of the same Prologue, as extant in MS. Gg. 4. 27, in the Cambridge University Library, there are two additional lines, doubtless genuine, to this effect—
There is also a remarkable passage at the end of his Persones Tale, the genuineness of which has been doubted by some, but it appears in the MSS., and I do not know of any sound reason for rejecting it. According to the Ellesmere MS., he here mentions—‘the book of Troilus, the book also of Fame, the book of the xxv. Ladies1 , the book of the Duchesse, the book of seint Valentynes day of the parlement of briddes . . . the book of the Leoun . . . and many a song,’ &c.
Besides this, in the House of Fame, l. 729, he mentions his own name, viz. ‘Geffrey.’ We thus may be quite certain as to the genuineness of this poem, the longest and most important of all the Minor Poems2 , and we may at once add to the list the Book of the Duchesse, the next in order of length, and the Parliament of Foules, which is the third in the same order.
We also learn that he composed some poems which have not come down to us, concerning which a few words may be useful.
1. ‘Origines vpon the Maudeleyne’ must have been a translation from a piece attributed to Origen. In consequence, probably, of this remark of the poet, the old editions insert a piece called the ‘Lamentacion of Marie Magdaleine,’ which has no pretence to be considered Chaucer’s, and may be summarily dismissed. It is sufficient to notice that it contains a considerable number of rimes such as are never found in his genuine works, as, for example, the dissyllabic dy-e1 riming with why (st. 13); the plural adjective ken-e riming with y-ën, i. e. eyes, which would, with this Chaucerian pronunciation, be no rime at all (st. 19); and thirdly, disgised riming with rived, which is a mere assonance, and saves us from the trouble of further investigation (st. 25). See below, p. 37.
2. ‘The wrechede engendrynge of mankynde’ is obviously meant to describe a translation or imitation of the treatise by Pope Innocent III, entitled De Miseria Conditionis Humanae. The same treatise is referred to by Richard Rolle de Hampole, in his Pricke of Conscience, l. 498. It should be noted, however, that a few stanzas of this work have been preserved, by being incorporated (as quotations) in the Canterbury Tales, viz. in B 99-121, 421-7, 771-7, 925-31, 1135-8; cf. C 537-40, 551-2. See notes to these passages.
3. ‘The book of the Leoun,’ i. e. of the lion, was probably a translation of the poem called Le Dit du Lion by Machault; see the note to l. 1024 of the Book of the Duchesse in the present volume.
Lydgate’s List of Chaucer’s Poems.
The next piece of evidence is that given in what is known as ‘Lydgate’s list.’ This is contained in a long passage in the prologue to his poem known as the ‘Fall of Princes,’ translated from the French version (by Laurens de Premierfait) of the Latin book by Boccaccio, entitled ‘De Casibus Virorum Illustrium2 .’ In this Lydgate commends his ‘maister Chaucer,’ and mentions many of his works, as, e. g. Troilus and Creseide, the translation of Boethius’ De Consolatione Philosophiae, the treatise on the Astrolabe addressed to his ‘sonne that called was Lowys,’ the Legend of Good Women, and the Canterbury Tales. The whole passage is given in Morris’s edition of Chaucer, vol. i. pp. 79-81; but I shall only cite so much of it as refers to the Minor Poems, and I take the opportunity of doing so directly, from an undated black-letter edition published by John Wayland.
It is clear to me that Lydgate is, at first, simply repeating the information which we have already had upon Chaucer’s own authority; he begins by merely following Chaucer’s own language in the extracts above cited. Possibly he knew no more than we do of ‘Orygene vpon the Maudelayn,’ and of the ‘boke of the Lyon.’ At any rate, he tells us no more about them. Naturally, in speaking of the Minor Poems, we should expect to find him following, as regards the three chief poems, the order of length; that is, we should expect to find here a notice of (1) the House of Fame; (2) the Book of the Duchesse; and (3) the Parliament of Foules. We are naturally disposed to exclaim with Ten Brink (Studien, p. 152)—‘Why did he leave out the House of Fame?’ But we need not say with him, that ‘to this question I know of no answer.’ For it is perfectly clear to me, though I cannot find that any one else seems to have thought of it, that ‘Dant in English’ and ‘The House of Fame’ are one and the same poem, described in the same position and connexion. If anything about the House of Fame is clear at all, it is that (as Ten Brink so clearly points out, in his Studien, p. 89) the influence of Dante is more obvious in this poem than in any other. I would even go further and say that it is the only poem which owes its chief inspiration to Dante in the whole of English literature during, at least, the Middle-English period. There is absolutely nothing else to which such a name as ‘Dante in English’ can with any fitness be applied. The phrase ‘himselfe doth so expresse’ is rather dubious; but I take it to mean: ‘(I give it that name, for) he, i. e. Chaucer, expresses himself like Dante (therein).’ In any case, I refuse to take any other view until some competent critic will undertake to tell me, what poem of Chaucer’s, other than the House of Fame, can possibly be intended.
To which argument I have to add a second, viz. that Lydgate mentions the House of Fame in yet another way; for he refers to it at least three times, in clear terms, in other passages of the same poem, i. e. of the Fall of Princes.
Lydgate describes the Parliament of Foules in terms which clearly shew that he had read it. He also enables us to add to our list the Complaint of Anelida and the Complaint of Mars; for it is the latter poem which contains the story of the broche of Thebes. We have, accordingly, complete authority for the genuineness of the House of Fame and the four longest of the Minor Poems, which, as arranged in order of length, are these: The House of Fame (2158 lines); Book of the Duchesse (1334 lines); Parliament of Foules (699 lines); Anelida and Arcite (357 lines); and Complaint of Mars (298 lines). This gives us a total of 4846 lines, furnishing a very fair standard of comparison whereby to consider the claims to genuineness of other poems. Lydgate further tells us that Chaucer
Testimony of John Shirley.
The next best evidence is that afforded by notes in the existing MSS.; and here, in particular, we should first consider the remarks by Chaucer’s great admirer, John Shirley, who took considerable pains to copy out and preserve his poems, and is said by Stowe to have died Oct. 21, 1456, at the great age of ninety, so that he was born more than 30 years before Chaucer died. On his authority, we may attribute to Chaucer the A. B. C.; the Complaint to Pity; the Complaint of Mars (according to a heading in MS. T.); the Complaint of Anelida (according to a heading in MS. Addit. 16165); the Lines to Adam, called in MS. T. ‘Chauciers Wordes a. Geffrey vn-to Adam his owen scryveyne’; Fortune; Truth; Gentilesse; Lak of Stedfastnesse; the Compleint of Venus; and the Compleint to his Empty Purse. The MSS. due to Shirley are the Sion College MS., Trin. Coll. Cam. R. 3. 20, Addit. 16165, Ashmole 59, Harl. 78, Harl. 2251, and Harl. 7333. See also § 23, p. 75.
Testimony of Scribes of the MSS.
The Fairfax MS. 16, a very fair MS. of the fifteenth century, contains several of the Minor Poems; and in this the name of Chaucer is written at the end of the poem on Truth and of the Compleint to his Purse; it also appears in the title of Lenvoy de Chaucer a Scogan; in that of Lenvoy de Chaucer a Bukton; in that of the Compleint of Chaucer to his empty Purse, and in that of ‘Proverbe of Chaucer.’
Again, the Pepys MS. no. 2006 attributes to Chaucer the A. B. C., the title there given being ‘Pryer a nostre Dame, per Chaucer’; as well as the Compleint to his Purse, the title being ‘La Compleint de Chaucer a sa Bourse Voide.’ It also has the title ‘Lenvoy de Chaucer a Scogan.’ See also p. 80, note 2.
The ‘Former Age’ is entitled ‘Chawcer vp-on this fyfte metur of the second book’ in the Cambridge MS. Ii. 3. 21; and at the end of the same poem is written ‘Finit etas prima. Chaucers’ in the Cambridge MS. Hh. 4. 12. The poem on Fortune is also marked ‘Causer’ in the former of these MSS.; indeed, these two poems practically belong to Chaucer’s translation of Boethius, though probably written at a somewhat later period. After all, the most striking testimony to their authenticity is the fact that, in MS. Ii. 3. 21, these two poems are inserted in the very midst of the prose text of ‘Boethius,’ between the fifth metre and the sixth prose of Book II.
The Cambridge MS. Gg. 4. 27, which contains an excellent copy of the Canterbury Tales, attributes to Chaucer the Parliament of Foules; and gives us the title ‘Litera directa de Scogon per G. C.’ Of course ‘G. C.’ is Geoffrey Chaucer.
From Furnivall’s Trial Forewords, p. 13, we learn that there is a verse translation of De Deguileville’s Pèlerinage do la Vie Humaine, attributed to Lydgate, in MS. Cotton, Vitellius C. XIII. (leaf 256), in which the ‘A. B. C.’ is distinctly attributed to Chaucer1 .
The Balade ‘To Rosamounde’ is assigned to Chaucer in the unique copy of it in the Rawlinson MS. ‘A Compleint to his Lady’ is assigned to Chaucer in the only complete copy of it.
We ought also to assign some value to the manner in which the poems appear in the MS. copies. This can only be appreciated by inspection of the MSS. themselves. Any one who will look for himself at the copies of Gentilesse, Lak of Stedfastnesse, Truth, and Against Women Inconstaunt in MS. Cotton, Cleop. D. 7, will see that the scribe clearly regarded the last of these as genuine, as well as the rest. And the same may be said of some other poems which are not absolutely marked with Chaucer’s name. This important argument is easily derided by those who cannot read MSS., but it remains valuable all the same.
Testimony of Caxton.
At p. 116 of the same Trial Forewords is a description by Mr. Bradshaw of a very rare edition by Caxton of some of Chaucer’s Minor Poems. It contains: (1) Parliament of Foules; (2) a treatise by Scogan, in which Chaucer’s ‘Gentilesse’ is introduced; (3) a single stanza of 7 lines, beginning—‘Wyth empty honde men may no hawkes lure’; (4) Chaucer’s ‘Truth,’ entitled—‘The good counceyl of Chawcer’; (5) the poem on ‘Fortune’; and (6) part of Lenvoy to Scogan, viz. the first three stanzas. The volume is imperfect at the end. As to the article No. 3, it was probably included because the first line of it is quoted from l. 415 of the Wyf of Bathes Prologue (Cant. Ta. 5997, vol. iv. p. 332).
At p. 118 of the same is another description, also by Mr. Bradshaw, of a small quarto volume printed by Caxton, consisting of only ten leaves. It contains, according to him: (1) Anelida and Arcite, ll. 1-210; (2) The Compleint of Anelida, being the continuation of the former, ll. 211-350, where the poem ends; (3) The Compleint of Chaucer vnto his empty purse, with an Envoy headed—‘Thenuoye of Chaucer vnto the kynge’; (4) Three1 couplets, beginning—‘Whan feyth failleth in prestes sawes,’ and ending—‘Be brought to grete confusioun’; (5) Two couplets, beginning—‘Hit falleth for euery gentilman,’ and ending—‘And the soth in his presence’; (6) Two couplets, beginning—‘Hit cometh by kynde of gentil blode,’ and ending—‘The werk of wisedom berith witnes’; followed by—‘Et sic est finis.’ The last three articles only make fourteen lines in all, and are of little importance2 .
Early Editions of Chaucer’s Works.
The first collected edition of Chaucer’s Works is that edited by W. Thynne in 1532, but there were earlier editions of his separate poems. The best account of these is that which I here copy from a note on p. 70 of Furnivall’s edition of F. Thynne’s ‘Animaduersions vpon the Annotacions and Corrections of some imperfections of impressiones of Chaucer’s Workes’; published for the Chaucer Society in 1875.
Only one edition of Chaucer’s Works had been published before the date of Thynne’s, 1532, and that was Pynson’s in 1526, without a general title, but containing three parts, with separate signatures, and seemingly intended to sell separately; 1. the boke of Caunterbury tales; 2. the boke of Fame . . . with dyuers other of his workes [i. e. Assemble of Foules1 , La Belle Dame2 , Morall Prouerbes]; 3. the boke of Troylus and Cryseyde. But of separate works of Chaucer before 1532, the following had been published:—
Canterbury Tales. 1. Caxton, about 1477-8, from a poor MS.; 2. Caxton, ab. 1483, from a better MS.; 3. Pynson, ab. 1493; 4. Wynkyn de Worde, 1498; 5. Pynson, 1526.
Book of Fame. 1. Caxton, ab. 1483; 2. Pynson, 1526.
Troylus. 1. Caxton, ab. 1483; 2. Wynkyn de Worde, 1517; 3. Pyn son, 1526.
Parliament of Foules3 . 1. Caxton, ab. 1477-8; 2. Pynson, 1526, 3. Wynkyn de Worde, 1530.
Gentilnesse3 (in Scogan’s poem). 1. Caxton, ab. 1477-8.
Truth3 . (The good counceyl of chawcer.) 1. Caxton, ab. 1477-8.
Fortune3 . (Balade of the vilage (sic) without peyntyng.) 1. Caxton, ab. 1477-8.
Envoy to Skogan3 . 1. Caxton, ab. 1477-8 (all lost, after the third stanza).
Anelida and Arcyte4 . 1. Caxton, ab. 1477-8.
Purse4 . (The compleynt of Chaucer vnto his empty purse.) 1. Cax ton, ab. 1477-8.
Mars; Venus; Marriage (Lenvoy to Bukton). 1. Julian Notary, 1499-1502.
After Thynne’s first edition of the Works in 1532 (printed by Thomas Godfray), came his second in 1542 (for John Reynes and Wyllyam Bonham), to which he added ‘The Plowman’s Tale’ after the Parson’s Tale, i. e. at the end.
Then came a reprint for the booksellers (Wm. Bonham, R. Kele, T. Petit, Robert Toye), about 1550, which put the Plowman’s Tale before the Parson’s. This was followed by an edition in 1561 for the booksellers (Ihon Kyngston, Henry Bradsha, citizen and grocer of London, &c.), to which, when more than half printed, Stowe contributed some fresh pieces, the spurious Court of Love, Lydgate’s Sage of Thebes, and other poems. Next came Speght’s edition of 1598—on which William Thynne comments in his Animadversions—which added the spurious ‘Dreme,’ and ‘Flower and Leaf.’ This was followed by Speght’s second edition, in 1602, in which Francis Thynne helped him, and to which were added Chaucer’s ‘A. B. C.’, and the spurious ‘Jack Upland1 .’ Jack Upland had been before printed, with Chaucer’s name on the title-page, about 1536-40 (London, J. Gough, no date, 8vo.).
In an Appendix to the Preface to Tyrwhitt’s edition of the Canterbury Tales, there is a similar account of the early editions of Chaucer, to which the reader may refer. He quotes the whole of Caxton’s preface to his second edition of the Canterbury Tales, shewing how Caxton reprinted the book because he had meanwhile come upon a more correct MS. than that which he had first followed.
If we now briefly consider all the earlier editions, we find that they may be thus tabulated.
Separate Works. Various editions before 1532; see the list above, on p. 28.
Collected Works. Pynson’s edition of 1526, containing only a portion, as above; La Belle Dame being spurious. Also the following:—
1. Ed. by Wm. Thynne; London, 1532. Folio. Pr. by Godfray.
2. Reprinted, with additional matter; London, 1542. Folio.
The chief addition is the spurious Plowman’s Tale.
3. Reprinted, with the matter rearranged; London, no date, about 1550. Folio. (Of this edition I possess a copy.)
Here the Plowman’s Tale is put before the Parson’s. Moreover, the three pieces numbered 66-68 below (p. 45), are inserted at the end of the Table of Contents.
4. Reprinted, with large additions by John Stowe. London, 1561. Folio. (See further below, p. 31). I possess a copy.
5. Reprinted, with additions and alterations by Thomas Speght; London, 1598. Folio.
Here, for the first time, appear ‘Chaucer’s Dream’ and ‘The Flower and the Leaf’; both are spurious.
6. Reprinted, with further additions and alterations by Thomas Speght; London, 1602. Folio.
Here, for the first time, appear the spurious Jack Upland1 and the genuine A. B. C.
7. Reprinted, with slight additions; London, 1687. Folio.
8. Reprinted, with additions and great alterations in spelling, by John Urry; London, 1721. Folio.
This edition is the worst that has appeared. It is not necessary for our purpose to enumerate the numerous later editions. An entirely new edition of the Canterbury Tales was produced by Thomas Tyrwhitt in 1775-8, in 5 vols., 8vo.; to which all later editions have been much indebted2 .
The manner in which these editions were copied one from the other renders it no very difficult task to describe the whole contents of them accurately. The only important addition in the editions of 1542 and 1550 is the spurious Plowman’s Tale, which in no way concerns us. Again, the only important additional poems after 1561 are the spurious Chaucer’s Dream, The Flower and the Leaf, and the genuine A. B. C. The two representative editions are really those of 1532 and 1561. Now the edition of 1561 consists of two parts; the former consists of a reprint from former editions, and so differs but little from the edition of 1532; whilst the latter part consists of additional matter furnished by John Stowe. Hence a careful examination of the edition of 1561 is, practically, nearly sufficient to give us all the information which we need. I shall therefore give a complete table of the contents of this edition.
Table of Contents of Stowe’s Edition (1561)1 .
1. Caunterburie Tales. (The Prologue begins on a page with the signature a 2, the first quire of six leaves not being numbered; the Knightes Tale begins on a page with the signature b ii, and marked Fol. i. The spurious Plowman’s Tale precedes the Parson’s Tale.)
2. The Romaunt of the Rose2 . Fol. cxvi.
3. Troilus and Creseide. Fol. cli., back.
4. The testament of Creseide. [By Robert Henryson.] Fol. cxciiii. Followed by its continuation, called The Complaint of Creseide; by the same.
5. The Legende of Good Women. Fol. cxcvij.
6. A goodlie balade of Chaucer; beginning—‘Mother of norture, best beloued of all.’ Fol. ccx.
7. Boecius de Consolatione Philosophie. Fol. ccx., back.
8. The dreame of Chaucer. [The Book of the Duchesse.] Fol. ccxliiii.
9. Begins—‘My master. &c. When of Christ our kyng.’ [Lenvoy to Buckton.] Fol. ccxliiii3 .
10. The assemble of Foules. [Parlement of Foules.] Fol. ccxliiii., back.
11. The Floure of Curtesie, made by Ihon lidgate. Fol. ccxlviij. Followed by a Balade, which forms part of it.
12. How pyte is deed, etc. [Complaint unto Pite.] Fol. ccxlix., back.
13. La belle Dame sans Mercy. [By Sir R. Ros.] Fol. ccl.
14. Of Quene Annelida and false Arcite. Fol. cclv.
15. The assemble of ladies. Fol. ccxlvij.
16. The conclucions of the Astrolabie. Fol. cclxi.
17. The complaint of the blacke Knight. [By Lydgate; see p. 35, note 3.] Fol. cclxx.
18. A praise of Women. Begins—‘Al tho the lyste of women euill to speke.’ Fol. cclxxiii.1 , back.
19. The House of Fame. Fol. cclxxiiij., back.
20. The Testament of Loue (in prose). Fol. cclxxxiiij., back.
21. The lamentacion of Marie Magdaleine. Fol. cccxviij.
22. The remedie of Loue. Fol. cccxxj., back.
23, 24. The complaint of Mars and Venus. Fol. cccxxiiij., back. (Printed as one poem; but there is a new title—The complaint of Venus—at the beginning of the latter.)
25. The letter of Cupide. [By Hoccleve; dated 1402.] Fol. cccxxvj., back.
26. A Ballade in commendacion of our Ladie. Fol. cccxxix. [By Lydgate; see p. 38.]
27. Ihon Gower vnto the noble King Henry the .iiij. Fol. cccxxx., back. [By Gower.]
28. A saiyng of dan Ihon. [By Lydgate.] Fol. cccxxxii., back2 .
29. Yet of the same. [By Lydgate.] On the same page.
30. Balade de bon consail. Begins—If it be fall that God the list visite. (Only 7 lines.) On the same page.
31. Of the Cuckowe and the Nightingale. Fol. cccxxxiij. [By Hoccleve?]
32. Balade with Envoy (no title). Begins—‘O leude booke with thy foule rudenesse.’ Fol. cccxxxiiij., back.
33. Scogan, vnto the Lordes and Gentilmen of the Kinges house. (This poem, by H. Scogan, quotes Chaucer’s ‘Gentilesse’ in full.) Fol. cccxxxiiij., back.
34. Begins—‘Somtyme the worlde so stedfast was and stable.’ [Lak of Stedfastnesse.] Fol. cccxxxv., back.
35. Good counsail of Chaucer. [Truth.] Same page.
36. Balade of the village (sic) without paintyng. [Fortune.] Fol. cccxxxvj.
37. Begins—‘Tobroken been the statutes hie in heauen’; headed Lenuoye. [Lenvoy to Scogan.] Fol. cccxxxvj., back.
38. Poem in two stanzas of seven lines each. Begins—‘Go foorthe kyng, rule thee by Sapience.’ Same page.
39. Chaucer to his emptie purse. Same page.
40. A balade of good counseile translated out of Latin verses in-to Englishe, by Dan Ihon lidgat cleped the monke of Buri. Begins—‘COnsyder well euery circumstaunce.’ Fol. cccxxxvij.
41. A balade in the Praise and commendacion of master Geffray Chauser for his golden eloquence. (Only 7 lines.) Same leaf, back. [See p. 56.]
Part II. Additions by John Stowe.
At the top of fol. cccxl. is the following remark:—
¶ Here foloweth certaine woorkes of Geffray Chauser, whiche hath not heretofore been printed, and are gathered and added to this booke by Ihon Stowe.
42. A balade made by Chaucer, teching what is gentilnes1 . [Gentilesse.] Fol. cccxl.
43. A Prouerbe [read Prouerbs] agaynst couitise and negligence. [Proverbs.] Same page.
44. A balade which Chaucer made agaynst women vnconstaunt. Same page. [Certainly genuine, in my opinion; but here relegated to an Appendix, to appease such as cannot readily apprehend my reasons. Cf. p. 26.]
45. A balade which Chaucer made in the praise or rather dispraise, of women for their doublenes. [By Lydgate.] Begins—‘This world is full of variaunce.’ Same page.
46. This werke folowinge was compiled by Chaucer, and is caled the craft of louers. Fol. cccxli. [Written in 1448.]
47. A Balade. Begins—‘Of their nature they greatly them delite.’ Fol. cccxli., back. [Quotes from no. 56.]
48. The .x. Commaundementes of Loue. Fol. cccxlij.
49. The .ix. Ladies worthie. Fol. cccxlij., back.
50. [Virelai; no title.] Begins—‘Alone walkyng.’ Fol. cccxliij.
51. A Ballade. Begins—‘In the season of Feuerere when it was full colde.’ Same page.
52. A Ballade. Begins—‘O Mercifull and o merciable.’ Fol. cccxliij., back. [Made up of scraps from late poems; see p. 57.]
53. Here foloweth how Mercurie with Pallas, Venus and Minarua, appered to Paris of Troie, he slepyng by a fountain. Fol. cccxliiij.
54. A balade pleasaunte. Begins—‘I haue a Ladie where so she bee.’ Same page. At the end—‘Explicit the discriuyng of a faire Ladie.’
55. An other Balade. Begins—‘O Mossie Quince, hangyng by your stalke.’ Fol. cccxliiij., back.
56. A balade, warnyng men to beware of deceitptfnll women (sic). Begins—‘LOke well aboute ye that louers bee.’ Same page. [By Lydgate.]
57. These verses next folowing were compiled by Geffray Chauser, and in the writen copies foloweth at the ende of the complainte of petee. Begins—‘THe long nyghtes when euery [c]reature.’ [This is the ‘Compleint to his Lady,’ as I venture to call it.] Fol. cccxlv1 .
58. A balade declaring that wemens chastite Doeth moche excel all treasure worldly. Begins—‘IN womanhede as auctours al write.’ Back of same leaf.
59. The Court of Loue. Begins—‘WIth temerous herte, and trembling hand of drede.’ Fol. cccxlviij.
60. Chaucers woordes vnto his owne Scriuener2 . Fol. ccclv., back. At the end—Thus endeth the workes of Geffray Chaucer. (This is followed by 34 Latin verses, entitled Epitaphium Galfridi Chaucer, &c.)
61. The Storie of Thebes. [By Lydgate.] Fol. ccclvj.
Discussion of the Poems in Part I. of Ed. 1561.
Of the 41 pieces in Part I. of the above, we must of course accept as Chaucer’s the four poems entitled Canterbury Tales, Troilus, Legend of Good Women, and House of Fame; also the prose translation of Boethius, and the prose treatise on the Astrolabie. The remaining number of Minor Poems (excluding the Romaunt of the Rose) is 34; out of which number I accept the 13 numbered above with the numbers 8, 9, 10, 12, 14, 23, 24, 33 (so far as it quotes Chaucer), 34, 35, 36, 37, and 39. Every one of these has already been shewn to be genuine on sufficient external evidence, and it is not likely that their genuineness will be doubted. In the present volume they appear, respectively, as nos. III, XVII, V, II, VII, IV, XVIII, XIV, XV, XIII, X, XVI, XIX. Of the remaining 21, several may be dismissed in a few words. No. 4 is well known to have been written by Robert Henryson. Nos. 11, 28, 29, and 40 are distinctly claimed for Lydgate in all the editions; and no. 27 is similarly claimed for Gower. No. 25 was written by Hoccleve1 ; and the last line gives the date—‘A thousande, foure hundred and seconde,’ i.e. 1402, or two years after Chaucer’s death. No. 13 is translated from Alain Chartier, who was only four years old when Chaucer died; see p. 28, note 2. Tyrwhitt remarks that, in MS. Harl. 372, this poem is expressly attributed to a Sir Richard Ros2 . No one can suppose that no. 41 is by Chaucer, seeing that the first line is—‘Maister Geffray Chauser, that now lithe in graue.’ Mr. Bradshaw once assured me that no. 17 is ascribed, on MS. authority, to Lydgate; and no one who reads it with care can doubt that this is correct3 . It is, in a measure, an imitation of the Book of the Duchesse; and it contains some interesting references to Chaucer, as in the lines—‘Of Arcite, or of him Palemoun,’ and ‘Of Thebes eke the false Arcite.’ No. 20, i. e. the Testament of Love, is in prose, and does not here concern us; still it is worth pointing out that it contains a passage (near the end) such as we cannot suppose that Chaucer would have written concerning himself4 .
After thus removing from consideration nos. 4, 11, 13, 17, 20, 25, 27, 28, 29, 40, and 41, half of the remaining 21 pieces have been considered. The only ones left over for consideration are nos. 6, 15, 18, 21, 22, 26, 30, 31, 32, 38. As to no. 6, there is some external evidence in its favour, which will be duly considered; but as to the rest, there is absolutely nothing to connect them with Chaucer beyond their almost accidental appearance in an edition by Wm. Thynne, published in 1532, i. e. one hundred and thirty-two years after Chaucer’s death; and it has just been demonstrated that Thynne is obviously wrong in at least eleven instances, and that he wittingly and purposely chose to throw into his edition poems which he knew to have been written by Lydgate or by Gower! It is ridiculous to attach much importance to such testimony as this. And now let me discuss, as briefly as I can, the above-named poems separately.
6. A goodlie balade of Chaucer; begins—‘Mother of norture, best beloued of all’; printed in Morris’s edition, vi. 275; and in Bell’s edition, iii. 413. I have little to say against this poem; yet the rime of supposeth with riseth (st. 8) is somewhat startling. It is clearly addressed to a lady named Margaret1 , as appears from her being likened to the daisy, and called the sun’s daughter. I suspect it was merely attributed to Chaucer by association with the opening lines of the Legend of Good Women. The suggestion, in Bell’s Chaucer, that it possibly refers to the Countess of Pembroke, is one of those bad guesses which are discreditable. Tyrwhitt shews, in note n to his ‘Appendix to the Preface,’ that she must have died not later than 1370, whereas this Balade must be much later than that date; and I agree with him in supposing that le Dit de la fleur de lis et de la Marguerite, by Guillaume de Machault (printed in Tarbé’s edition, 1849, p. 123), and the Dittié de la flour de la Margherite, by Froissart, may furnish us with the true key to those mystical compliments which Chaucer and others were accustomed to pay to the daisy.
I wish to add that I am convinced that one stanza, probably the sixth is missing. It ought to form a triple Balade, i. e. three Balades of 21 lines each, each with its own refrain; but the second is imperfect. There seems to be some affectation about the letters beginning the stanzas which I cannot solve; these are M, M, M (probably for Margaret) in the first Balade; D, D in the second; and J, C, Q in the third. The poet goes out of his way to bring in these letters. The result looks like Margaret de Jacques; but this guess does not help us.
The poem is rather artificial, especially in such inversions as It receyve, Cauteles whoso useth, and Quaketh my penne; these things are not in Chaucer’s manner. In the second stanza there is a faulty rime; for we there find shal, smal, answering to the dissyllabic rimes alle, calle, appalle, befalle, in stanzas 1 and 3. Lydgate has: ‘My pen quake,’ &c.; Troy Book, ch. x., fol. F2, back.
15. The assemble of Ladies. This poem Tyrwhitt decisively rejects. There is absolutely nothing to connect it with Chaucer. It purports to have been written by ‘a gentlewoman’; and perhaps it was. It ends with the rime of done, pp., with sone (soon); which in Chaucer are spelt doon and son-e respectively, and never rime. Most of the later editions omit this poem. It is conveniently printed in Chalmers’ English Poets, vol. i. p. 526; and consists of 108 7-line stanzas. For further remarks, see notes on The Flower and the Leaf (p. 44).
At p. 203 of the Ryme-Index to Chaucer’s Minor Poems (Chaucer Society), I have printed a Ryme-Index to this poem, shewing that the number of non-Chaucerian rimes in it is about 60.
18. A praise of Women. In no way connected with Chaucer. Rejected by Tyrwhitt. Printed in Bell’s edition, iv. 416, and in Chalmers’ English Poets, vol. i. p. 344; also in Morris’s Aldine edition, vol. vi. p. 278. In twenty-five 7-line stanzas. The rime of lie (to tell a lie) with sie (I saw), in st. 20, is suspicious; Chaucer has ly-e, sy. The rime of queen-e (usually dissyllabic in Chaucer) with beene (miswritten for been, they be, st. 23) is also suspicious. It contains the adjective sere, i. e. various (st. 11), which Chaucer never uses.
21. The lamentacion of Marie Magdaleine. Printed in Bell’s Chaucer, iv. 395; and in Chalmers, i. 532. Tyrwhitt’s remarks are admirable. He says, in his Glossary, s. v. Origenes:—‘In the list of Chaucer’s Works, in Legend of Good Women, l. 427, he says of himself:—
meaning, I suppose, a translation, into prose or verse, of the Homily de Maria Magdalena, which has been commonly, though falsely, attributed to Origen; v. Opp. Origenis, T. ii. p. 291, ed. Paris, 1604. I cannot believe that the poem entitled The Lamentation of Marie Magdaleine, which is in all the [older] editions of Chaucer, is really that work of his. It can hardly be considered as a translation, or even as an imitation, of the Homily; and the composition, in every respect, is infinitely meaner than the worst of his genuine pieces. To those who are interested in Chaucer’s rimes I will merely point out the following: die, why (Ch. dy-e, why); kene, iyen (Ch. ken-e, y-ën); disguised, to-rived, a mere assonance; crie, incessauntly (Ch. cry-ë, incessauntly); slaine, paine (Ch. slein, pein-e); y-fet, let (Ch. y-fet, let-te); accept, bewept (Ch. accept-e, bewept); die, mihi (Ch. dy-e, mihi). To those interested in Chaucer’s language, let me point out ‘dogges rabiate’—‘embesile his presence’—‘my woful herte is inflamed so huge’—‘my soveraine and very gentilman.’ See st. 34, 39, 54, 99.
22. The remedie of Loue. Printed in Chalmers’ British Poets, i. 539. In sixty-two 7-line stanzas. Rejected by Tyrwhitt. The language is extremely late; it seems to have been written in the 16th century. It contains such words as incongruitie, deduction, allective, can’t (for cannot), scribable (fit for writing on), olibane, pant, babé (baby), cokold (which Chaucer spells cokewold), ortographie, ethimologie, ethimologise (verb). The provincial word lait, to search for, is well known to belong to the Northern dialect. Dr. Murray, s. v. allective, dates this piece about a.d. 1560; but it must be somewhat earlier than this, as it was printed in 1532. I should date it about 1530.
26. A Ballade in commendacion of our Ladie. Tyrwhitt remarks that ‘a poem with the same beginning is ascribed to Lydgate, under the title of Invocation to our Lady; see Tanner, s. v. Lydgate.’ The poem consists of thirty-five 7-line stanzas. It has all the marks of Lydgate’s style, and imitates Chaucer’s language. Thus the line—‘I have none English conuenient and digne’ is an echo of the Man of Law’s Tale, l. 778—‘O Donegild, I ne haue noon English digne.’ Some of the lines imitate Chaucer’s A. B. C. But the most remarkable thing is his quotation of the first line of Chaucer’s Merciless Beauty, which he applies to the Virgin Mary! See note to that poem, l. 1.
A poem called an ‘Invocation to our Lady’ is ascribed to Lydgate in MS. Ashmole 59, fol. 39, back. It agrees with the present Ballade; which settles the question.
30. Balade de bon consail. Not in previous editions. Printed in Chalmers, i. 552. Only 7 lines, and here they are, duly edited:—
In l. 1, ed. 1561 has the; 2. aduersite; 3. Thanke; lorde; I supply fond, i.e. endeavour; thy-selfe; 4. (scans ill); 5. Founde; 6. Make.
31. Of the Cuckowe and the Nightingale. Printed in Bell’s Chaucer, iv. 334; and in Morris’s Chaucer, iv. 75. Not uncommon in MSS.; there is a copy in MS. Ff. 1. 6 in the Cambridge University Library; another in MS. Fairfax 16; another in MS. Bodley 638; another in MS. Tanner 346; and a fifth (imperfect) in MS. Arch. Selden B. 24, in the Bodleian Library. A sixth is in MS. Harl. 7333, in the British Museum. From some of these, Morris’s better text was constructed; see his edition, pref. p. ix.
It is worth a note, by the way, that it is not the same poem as one entitled The Nightingale, extant in MS. no. 203 in Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and in MS. Cotton, Calig. A. ii., fol. 59, and attributed to Lydgate.
That the first two lines are by Chaucer, we cannot doubt, for they are quoted from the Knightes Tale, ll. 927, 928. Chaucer often quotes his own lines, but it is not likely that he would take them as the subject of a new poem. On the other hand, this is just what we should expect one of his imitators to do. The present poem is a very fair imitation of Chaucer’s style, and follows his peculiarities of metre far more closely than is usually the case with Lydgate. The notion, near the end, of holding a parliament of birds, with the Eagle for lord, is evidently borrowed from Chaucer’s Parliament of Foules. Whilst admitting that the present poem is more worthy of Chaucer than most of the others with which it has been proposed to burden his reputation, I can see no sufficient reason for connecting him with it; and the external evidence connects it, in fact, with Hoccleve. For the copy in MS. Bodley 638 calls it ‘The boke of Cupide god of loue,’ at fol. 11, back; whilst Hoccleve’s Letter of Cupid is called ‘The lettre of Cupide god of loue’ in the same, fol. 38, back. The copy in the Fairfax MS. ends with the colophon—Explicit liber Cupidinis. The rimes are mostly Chaucerian; but the rime of day with the gerund to assay-e in st. 11 is suspicious; so also is that of now with the gerund to rescow-e in st. 46. In st. 13, grene rimes with been, whereas gren-e, in Chaucer, is always dissyllabic. Chaucer’s biographers have been anxious to father this poem upon him, merely because it mentions Woodstock in l. 285.
One point about this poem is its very peculiar metre; the 5-line stanza, riming a a b b a, is certainly rare. If the question arises, whence is it copied, the answer is clear, viz. from Chaucer’s Envoy to his Compleint to his Purse. This is a further reason for dating it later than 1399.
32. Balade with envoy; ‘O leude book,’ &c. Printed in Bell’s Chaucer, iv. 347, and in Morris’s Chaucer, iv. 85, as if it were part of The Cuckoo and the Nightingale; but obviously unconnected with it. A Balade in the usual form, viz. three 7-line stanzas, with a refrain; the refrain is—‘For of all good she is the best living.’ The envoy consists of only six lines, instead of seven, rimed a b a b c c, and that for a sufficient reason, which has not been hitherto observed. The initial letters of the lines form, in fact, an anagram on the name Alison; which is therefore the name of the lady to whom the Balade is addressed. There is a copy of this poem in MS. Fairfax 16, and another in MS. Tanner 346. It is therefore as old as the 15th century. But to attribute to Chaucer the fourth line of the Envoy seems hazardous. It runs thus—‘Suspiries whiche I effunde in silence.’ Perhaps it is Hoccleve’s.
38. Poem in two 7-line stanzas. There is nothing to connect this with Chaucer; and it is utterly unworthy of him. I now quote the whole poem, just as it stands in the edition of 1561:—
In l. 7, ed. 1532 has almesse instead of almose. Surely it must be Lydgate’s. Many of his poems exhibit similar catalogues, if I may so term them.
I have now gone through all the poems published in 1532 and copied into the later editions (with the exception of nos. 66-68, for which see p. 45); and I see no way of augmenting the list of Chaucer’s Minor Poems any further from this source.
Discussion of the Poems in Part II. of Ed. 1561.
It is hardly worth while to discuss at length all the poems which it pleased John Stowe to fling together into the edition of 1561. But a few remarks may be useful.
Nos. 42, 43, and 60 are admittedly genuine; and are printed below, nos. XIV., XX., and VIII. I believe nos. 44 and 57 to be so also1 ; they are discussed below, and are printed as nos. XXI. and VI. No. 61 is, of course, Lydgate’s. Besides this, no. 45 is correctly ascribed to Lydgate in the MSS.; there are copies of it in MS. Fairfax 16 and in MS. Ashmole 59. No. 56 is also Lydgate’s, and is so marked in MS. Harl. 2251. As to no. 46, called the Craft of Lovers, it is dated by help of two lines in the last stanza, which are thus printed by Stowe:—
This seems to give the date as 1348; whereas the language is palpably that of the fifteenth century. Whether Stowe or his printer thought fit to alter the date intentionally, I cannot say. Still, the fact is, that in the MS. marked R. 3. 19 in Trinity College Library, at fol. 156, the reading is ‘CCCCXL & VIII yere,’ so that the true date is rather 1448, or nearly half a century after Chaucer’s death2 . The same MS., which I suppose belonged to Stowe, contains several other of these pieces, viz. nos. 48, 49, 50, 51, 53, 54, 55, 56, and perhaps others. The language and, in some cases, the ruggedness of the metre, forbid us to suppose that Chaucer can have had anything to do with them, and some are palpably of a much later date; one or more of these considerations at once exclude all the rest of Stowe’s additions. It may, however, be noted that no. 47 quotes the line ‘Beware alwaye, the blind eats many a fly,’ which occurs as a refrain in no. 56, and it is therefore later than the time of Lydgate. The author of no. 48 says he is ‘a man vnknowne. Many lines in no. 49 are of abnormal length; it begins with—‘Profulgent in preciousnes, O Sinope the queen.’ The same is true of no. 51, which is addressed to a Margaret, and begins with—‘In the season of Feuerere when it was full colde.’ Of no. 52, Tyrwhitt says that the four first stanzas are found in different parts of an imperfect poem upon the Fall of Man, in MS. Harl. 2251; whilst the 11th stanza makes part of an Envoy, which in the same MS. is annexed to the poem entitled the Craft of Lovers. No. 53 is a poor affair. No. 54, called a Balade Pleasaunte, is very unpleasant and scurrilous, and alludes to the wedding of ‘queene Iane1 ’ as a circumstance that happened many years ago. No. 55 is scurrilous, odious, and stupid. I doubt if no. 58 is good enough for Lydgate. No. 59 belongs to the sixteenth century.
All the poems here rejected were rejected by Tyrwhitt, with two strange exceptions, viz. nos 50 and 59, the Virelai and the Court of Love. Of both of these, the language is quite late. The Virelai is interesting from a metrical point of view, because such poems are scarce; the only similar poem that I can call to mind is the Balet (or rather Virelai) composed by Lord Rivers during his imprisonment in 1483, and printed by Percy in his Reliques of Ancient English Poetry. Percy says that Lord Rivers copies the Virelai mentioned above, which he assumes to be Chaucer’s; but it is quite as likely that the copying was in the other direction, and that Lord Rivers copied some genuine Virelai (either Chaucer’s or in French) that is now lost2 . The final rime of end with find is bad enough; but the supposition that the language is of the 14th century is ridiculous. Still the Virelai is good in its way, though it can hardly be older than 1500, and may be still later.
Of all poems that have been falsely ascribed to Chaucer, I know of none more amazing than The Court of Love. The language is palpably that of the 16th century, and there are absolutely no examples of the occurrence in it of a final -e that is fully pronounced, and forms a syllable! Yet there are critics who lose their heads over it, and will not give it up. Tyrwhitt says—‘I am induced by the internal evidence (!) to consider it as one of Chaucer’s genuine productions.’ As if the ‘internal evidence’ of a poem containing no sonant final -e is not enough to condemn it at once. The original MS. copy exists in MS. R. 3. 19 in Trinity College, and the writing is later than 1500. The poem itself has all the smoothness of the Tudor period3 ; it excels the style of Hawes, and would do credit to Sackville. One reference is too interesting to be passed over. In the second stanza, the poet regrets that he has neither the eloquence of Tully, the power of Virgil, nor the ‘craft of Galfride.’ Tyrwhitt explains Galfride as ‘Geoffrey of Monmouth,’ though it is difficult to understand on what ground he could have been here thought of. Bell’s ‘Chaucer’ explains Galfride as ‘Geoffrey of Vinsauf,’ which is still more curious; for Geoffrey of Vinsauf is the very Gaufride whom Chaucer holds up to eternal ridicule in the Nonne Prestes Tale (l. 526).
I have no doubt at all that the Galfrid here referred to is no other than Geoffrey Chaucer, who was called, indifferently, Galfrid or Geoffrey. This appears from the testimony of Lydgate, who speaks, in his ‘Troy-book,’ of ‘Noble Galfryde, chefe Poete of Brytayne,’ and again, of ‘My mayster Galfride’; see Lydgate’s Siege of Troye, bk. ii. ch. 15, and bk. iii. ch. 25; ed. 1557, fol. K 2, col. 1, and fol. R 2, back, col. 2. Hence we are not surprised to find that the author makes frequent reference to Chaucer’s Works, viz. to Anelida (l. 235), the Death of Pity (701), Troilus (872), the Legend of Good Women (104, 873), and the Parl. of Foules (near the end). The two allusions to the Legend of Good Women at once make the poem later than 1385; and in fact, it must be quite a century later than that date. There are more than 70 rimes that differ from those employed by Chaucer. The Poet introduces to our notice personages named Philogenet, Philobone, and Rosial. Of these, at least the two former savour of the time of the Renaissance; for, although Chaucer uses the name Philostrate in the Knightes Tale (A 1428, 1558, 1728), he merely copies this name from Boccaccio; and it is amusing to find that Boccaccio himself did not understand it1 .
Poems added in Speght’s Editions of 1598 and 1602.
We have now to consider the additions made by Speght in 1598. These were only two, viz. Chaucer’s Dream and The Flower and the Leaf.
62. Chaucer’s Dream. A long poem of 2206 short lines, in metre similar to that of The House of Fame; accepted by Tyrwhitt, and in all the editions. But there is no early trace of it; and we are not bound to accept as Chaucer’s a poem first ascribed to him in 1598, and of which the MS. (at Longleat) was written about 1550. The language is of late date, and the sonant final -e is decidedly scarce. The poem is badly named, and may have been so named by Speght; the proper title is ‘The Isle of Ladies.’ We find such rimes as be, companie (Ch. be, company-e); know, low, i.e. law (Ch. know-e, law-e); grene, yene, i.e. eyes (Ch. gren-e, y-ën); plesaunce, fesaunce (Ch. plesaunc-e, fesaunts); ywis, kisse (Ch. ywis, kis-se); and when we come to destroied riming with conclude, it is time to stop. The tediousness of this poem is appalling1 .
63. The Flower and the Leaf. This is rather a pretty poem, in 7-line stanzas. The language is that of the fifteenth century. It professes to be written by a gentlewoman, like the Assemble of Ladies; and perhaps it was2 . Very likely, the same ‘gentlewoman’ wrote both these poems. If so, the Flower and the Leaf is the better finished, and probably the later of the two. It contains the word henchman, for which the earliest dated quotation which I have yet found is 1415 (Royal Wills, ed. Nichols, p. 220). An interesting reference is given in the lines—
The order of the Garter was established in 1349; and we should expect that more than half a century would elapse before it would be natural to refer to the Knights as old knights, who did worthily in their time. Of course the poem cannot be Chaucer’s, and it is hardly necessary to look for rimes such as he never uses; yet such may easily be found, such as grew, pt. t. sing., riming with the dissyllabic hew-e, new-e; sid-e with espide, pp. (Ch. espy-ed); eie, eye (Ch. y-ë) with sie, saw (Ch. sy); and pleasure1 with desire; after which we may stop.
In 1602, Speght issued another edition, in which, according to Bohn’s edition of Lowndes’ Bibliographer’s Manual, two more pieces were added, viz. the prose treatise against Friars called Jack Upland, and the genuine poem entitled ‘A. B. C.’ But this is not all; for I find, in a still later edition, that of 1687, which is said to be a ‘reimpression of Speght’s edition of 1602,’ that, at the very end of all the prefatory matter, on what was probably a spare blank leaf, three more poems appear, which might as well have been consigned to oblivion. But the editors of Chaucer evidently thought that a thing once added must be added for ever, and so these three productions are retained in Bell’s Chaucer, and must therefore be noticed with the rest. I find, however, that they had been printed previously, viz. at the end of the Table of Contents in ed. 1542 and ed. 1550, where they are introduced quite casually, without a word of explanation. Moreover, they are copied from MS. Trin. Coll. Cam. R. 3. 15, a MS. which also contains the Canterbury Tales; and no doubt, this fact suggested their insertion. See Todd’s Illustrations of Chaucer, p. 120.
64. Jack Upland. An invective against friars, in prose, worth printing, but obviously not Chaucer’s.
65. Chaucer’s A. B. C. Genuine; here printed as poem no. I.
66. Eight goodly questions with their answers; printed in Bell’s Chaucer, vol. iv. p. 421; nine 7-line stanzas. In st. 3, tree rimes with profer; but tree is an obvious misprint for cofer! In st. 5, the gerund to lie (Ch. ly-e) rimes with honestie (Ch. honestee). This is quite enough to condemn it. But it may be Lydgate’s.
67. To the Kings most noble Grace, and to the Lords and Knights of the Garter; pr. as above, p. 424; eight 8-line stanzas. In MS. Phillipps 8151, and written by Hoccleve; it much resembles his poem printed in Anglia, v. 23. The date may be 1416. The ‘King’ is Henry V.
68. Sayings. Really three separate pieces. They are all found on the fly-leaf of the small quarto edition of Caxton, described above, p. 27. When Caxton printed Chaucer’s Anelida and Purse on a quire of ten leaves, it so happened that he only filled up nine of them. But, after adding explicit at the bottom of the ninth leaf, to shew that he had come to the end of his Chaucer, he thought it a pity to waste space, and so added three popular sayings on the front of leaf 10, leaving the back of it still blank. Here is what he printed:—
The first of these sayings was probably a bit of popular rime, of the character quoted in Shakespeare’s King Lear, iii. 2. 81. Shakespeare calls his lines Merlin’s prophecy; and it has pleased the editors of Chaucer to call the first six lines Chaucer’s Prophecy1 . They appear in Bell’s Chaucer, vol. iii. p. 427, in an ‘improved’ form, not worth discussing; and the last eight lines are also printed in the same, vol. iv. p. 426. Why they are separated, is mysterious. Those who think them genuine may thank me for giving them Caxton’s spelling instead of Speght’s.
Pieces added in Morris’s Edition, 1866.
In Morris’s edition are some pieces which either do not appear in previous editions, or were first printed later than 1700.
69. Roundel; pr. in vol. vi. p. 304. The same as Merciless Beaute; here printed as no. XI. It first appeared, however, in Percy’s Reliques of English Poetry. See p. 80 below.
70. The Former Age; pr. in vol. vi. p. 300, for the first time. Here printed as no IX. See p. 78.
71. Prosperity; pr. in vol. vi. p. 296, for the first time. This is taken from MS. Arch. Selden B. 24, fol. 119, where it follows Chaucer’s Poem on ‘Truth.’ It has but one stanza of eight lines, and I here give it precisely as it stands in this Scottish MS.:—
I have no belief in the genuineness of this piece, though it is not ill written. In general, the ascription of a piece to Chaucer in a MS. is valuable. But the scribe of this particular MS. was reckless. It is he who made the mistake of marking Hoccleve’s ‘Mother of God’ with the misleading remark—‘Explicit oracio Galfridi Chaucere.’ At fol. 119, back, he gives us a poem beginning ‘Deuise prowes and eke humylitee’ in seven 7-line stanzas, and here again at the end is the absurd remark—‘Quod Chaucer quhen he was rycht auisit.’ But he was himself quite ‘wrongly advised’; for it is plainly not Chaucer’s at all. His next feat is to mark Lydgate’s Complaynt of the Black Knight by saying—‘Here endith the Maying and disporte of Chaucere’; which shews how the editors were misled as to this poem. Nor is this all; for he gives us, at fol. 137, back, another poem in six 8-line stanzas, beginning ‘O hie Emperice and quene celestial’; and here again at the end is his stupid—‘Quod Chaucere.’ The date of this MS. appears to be 1472; so it is of no high authority; and, unless we make some verbal alteration, we shall have to explain how Chaucer came to write oftsiss in two syllables instead of ofte sythe in four; see his Can. Yem. Tale, Group G, l. 1031.
72. Leaulte vault Richesse; pr. in vol. vi. p. 302, for the first time. This is from the same MS., fol. 138, and is as follows:—
On this poem, I have three remarks to make. The first is that not even the reckless Scottish scribe attributes it to Chaucer. The second is that Chaucer’s forms are content and lent without a final e, and repent-e and rent-e with a final -e, so that the poem cannot be his; although content, repent, rent, and lent rime well enough in the Northern dialect. The third is that if I could be sure that the above lines were by a well-known author, I should at once ascribe them to King James I., who might very well have written these and the lines called Prosperity above. It is somewhat of a coincidence that the very MS. here discussed is that in which the unique copy of the Kingis Quair is preserved.
73. Proverbs of Chaucer; printed in vol. vi. p. 303. The first eight lines are genuine; here printed as no. XX. But two 7-line stanzas are added, which are spurious. In MS. Addit. 16165, Shirley tells us that they were ‘made by Halsham Esquyer’; but they seem to be Lydgate’s, unless he added to them. See Lydgate’s Minor Poems (Percy Soc. 1840), pp. 193 and 74. And see pp. 52, 57.
It thus appears that, of the 73 pieces formerly attributed to Chaucer, not more than 26, and a part of a 27th, can be genuine. These are: Canterbury Tales, Troilus, Legend of Good Women, House of Fame, about a quarter of The Romaunt of the Rose, the Minor Poems printed in the present volume and numbered I-XI, XIII-XXI, and two pieces in prose.
Description of the MSS.
After the preceding somewhat tedious, but necessary discussion of the contents of the black-letter and other editions (in many of which poems were as recklessly attributed to Chaucer as medieval proverbs used to be to King Solomon), it is some relief to turn to the manuscripts, which usually afford much better texts, and are altogether more trustworthy.
The following is a list of the MSS. which have been followed. I must here acknowledge my great debt to Dr. Furnivall, whose excellent, careful, and exact reproduction in print of the various MSS. leaves nothing to be desired, and is a great boon to all Chaucer scholars. They are nearly all1 printed among the Chaucer Society’s publications. At the same time, I desire to say that I have myself consulted most of the MSS., and have thus gleaned a few hints which could hardly have been otherwise acquired; it was by this process that I became acquainted with the poems numbered XXII. and XXIII., which are probably genuine, and with the poem numbered XII., which is certainly so. An editor should always look at the MSS. for himself, if he can possibly contrive to do so.
List of the MSS.; with abbreviations.
N.B. The roman numbers following the name of each MS. denote the numbers of the poems in the present edition.
A.—Ashmole 59, Bodleian Library (Shirley’s).—X. XIV. XVIII.
Ad.—Addit. 16165, British Museum.—VII. XX. XXIII.
Add.—Addit. 22139, British Museum.—XIII. XIV. XV. XIX.
Ar.—Arch. Selden B. 24, Bodleian Library.—IV. V. XIII. XVIII.
Arch.—Arch. Selden B. 10, Bodleian Library.—X. XIII.
At.—Addit. 10340, British Museum.—XIII.
B.—Bodley 638 (Oxford).—I. II. III. V. VII. X. XXII.
Bannatyne MS. 1568, Hunterian Museum, Glasgow.—XV.
Bedford MS. (Bedford Library).—I.
C.—Cambridge Univ. Library, Ff. 5. 30.—I.
Corpus.—Corpus Chr. Coll., Oxford, 203.—XIII.
Ct.—Cotton, Cleopatra D. 7; Brit. Mus.—XIII. XIV. XV. XXI.
Cx.—Caxton’s editions; see above (p. 27).—V. VII. X. XIII. XIV. XVI. (part); XIX.
D.—Digby 181, Bodleian Library.—V. VII.
E.—Ellesmere MS. (also has the Cant. Tales).—XIII.
ed. 1561.—Stowe’s edition, 1561.—VI. VIII. XX. XXI., &c.
F.—Fairfax 16, Bodleian Library.—I. II. III. IV. V. VII. X. XIII. (two copies); XV. XVI. XVII. XVIII. XIX. XX. XXI. XXII.
Ff.—Cambridge Univ. Library, Ef. 1. 6.—II. V. VII. (part); XVIII. XIX.
Gg.1 —Cambridge Univ. Library, Gg. 4. 27.—I. V. XIII. XVI.
Gl.—Glasgow, Hunterian Museum, Q. 2. 25.—I.
H.—Harleian 2251, Brit. Mus.—I. X. XIV. XIX.
Ha.—Harleian 7578, Brit. Mus.—I. II. XIV. XV. XX. XXI.
Harl.—Harleian 7333, Brit. Mus.—IV. V. VII. XIII. XIV. XV. XIX. XXII.
Harleian 78, Brit. Mus. (Shirley’s). See Sh. below.
Harleian 372, Brit. Mus.—VII.
Hat.—Hatton 73, Bodleian Library.—XIII. XV.
Hh.—Cambridge Univ. Library, Hh. 4. 12.—V (part); IX.
I.—Cambridge Univ. Library, Ii. 3. 21.—IX. X.
Jo.—St. John’s College, Cambridge, G. 21.—I.
Ju.—Julian Notary’s edition (see p. 28).—IV. XVII. XVIII.
Kk.—Cambridge Univ. Library, Kk. 1. 5.—XIII.
L.—Laud 740, Bodleian Library.—I.
Lansdowne 699, Brit. Mus.—X. XIII.
Laud.—Laud 416, Bodleian Library.—V (part).
Lt.—Longleat MS. 258 (Marquis of Bath).—II. IV. V. VII.
O.—St. John’s College, Oxford (no. lvii.); fol. 22, bk.—V.
P.—Pepys 2006, Magd. Coll., Cambridge.—I. (two copies); IV V. VII (part); X. XI. XIII. XVI. XVIII. (two copies); XIX.
Ph.—Phillipps 9053 (Cheltenham).—II. VI. VII. (part); XIX.
Phil.—Phillipps 8299 (Cheltenham).—XIII.
R.—Rawlinson Poet. 163, Bodleian Library.—XII.
Sh.—Shirley’s MS. Harl. 78, Brit. Mus.—II. VI.
Sion College MS. (Shirley’s).—I.
T.—Trinity College, Cambridge, R. 3. 20.—IV. VII (part); VIII. X. XIII. (two copies); XIV. XV. XVIII.
Th.—W. Thynne’s edition, 1532.—III. XV. XVII., &c.
Tn.—Tanner 346, Bodleian Library.—II. III. IV. V. VII. XVIII.
Trin.—Trinity College, Cambridge, R. 3. 19.—II. V.
Trinity College, Cambridge, R. 14. 51.—XIV. XV.
Conversely, I here give a list of the Poems in the present volume, shewing from which MSS. each one is derived. I mention first the MSS. of most importance. I also note the number of lines in each piece.
II. Pite (119).—Tn. F. B. Sh. Ff. Trin.; also Ha. Lt. Ph.
III. Duchess (1334).—F. Tn. B. Th.
IV. Mars (298).—F. Tn. Ju. Harl. T. Ar.; also P.1 Lt.
V. Parl. Foules (699).—F. Gg. Trin. Cx. Harl. O. Ff. Tn. D.; also Ar. B. Lt. P.; Hh. (365 lines); Laud (142 lines).
VI. Compleint to his Lady (133).—Ph. Sh.; ed. 1561.
VII. Anelida (357).—Harl. F. Tn. D. Cx.; also B. Lt. Ad.; Harl. 372; partly in T. Ff. P. Ph.
VIII. Lines to Adam (7).—T.; ed. 1561.
IX. Former Age (64).—I. Hh.
X. Fortune (79).—I. A. T. F. B. H.; also P. Cx.; Arch.; Lansd. 699.
XI. Merciless Beaute (39).—P.
XII. To Rosemounde (24).—R.
XIV. Gentilesse (21).—A. T. Harl. Ct. Ha. Add. Cx; also H. and Trinity.
XV. Lak of Stedfastnesse (28).—Harl. T. Ct. F. Add.; also Th. Ha.; Hat., Trinity, and Bannatyne.
XVI. To Scogan (49).—Gg. F. P.; also Cx. (21 lines).
XVII. To Bukton (32).—F. Th.; also Ju.
XVIII. Venus (82).—T. A. Tn. F. Ff.; also Ar. Ju. P.3
XIX. Purse (26).—F. Harl. Ff. P. Add.; also H. Cx. Ph.
XX. Proverbs (8).—F. Ha. Ad.; ed. 1561.
XXI. Against Women Unconstaunt (21).—Ct. F. Ha.; ed. 1561.
XXII. An Amorous Complaint (91).—Harl. F. B.
XXIII. Balade of Complaint (21).—Ad.
Remarks on some of the MSS.
Some of these MSS. deserve a few special remarks.
Shirley’s MSS. are—A. Ad. H. Harl. Sh. Sion, and T.
MSS. in Scottish spelling are—Ar. Bannatyne. Kk.; L. shews Northern tendencies.
MSS. at Oxford.
F. (Fairfax 16) is a valuable MS.; not only does it contain as many as sixteen of these Minor Poems, but it is a fairly written MS. of the fifteenth century. The spelling does not very materially differ from that of such an excellent MS. as the Ellesmere MS. of the Canterbury Tales, excepting in the fact that a great number of final e’s are added in wrong places, and are dropped where they are required. This is a matter that can be to a large extent rectified, and I have endeavoured to do so, taking it in many instances as the standard text. Next to this misuse of final e’s, which is merely due to the fact that it was written out at a time when the true use of them was already lost, its most remarkable characteristic is the scribe’s excessive love of the letter y in place of i; he writes hyt ys instead of hit is, and the like. In a great number of instances I have restored i, where the vowel is short. When the text of the Fairfax MS. is thus restored, it is by no means a bad one. It also contains fair copies of many poems by Hoccleve and Lydgate, such as the former’s Letter of Cupide1 , and the latter’s Complaint of the Black Knight, Temple of Glass, and Balade against Women’s Doubleness, being the very piece which is introduced into Stowe’s edition, and is numbered 45 above (see p. 33). We are also enabled, by comparing this MS. with MS. Harl. 7578, to solve another riddle, viz. why it is that Chaucer’s Proverbs, as printed in Morris’s and Bell’s editions, are followed by two 7-line stanzas which have nothing whatever to do with them. In MS. Harl. 7578 these two stanzas immediately follow, and MS. F. immediately precede Chaucer’s Proverbs, and therefore were near enough to them to give an excuse for throwing them in together. However, both these stanzas are by Lydgate, and are mere fragments2 . The former of them, beginning ‘The worlde so wide, thaire so remuable,’ really belongs to a poem of 18 stanzas, printed in Halliwell’s edition of Lydgate’s Minor Poems (Percy Soc.), p. 193. The latter of them, beginning ‘The more I goo, the ferther I am behinde,’ belongs to a poem of 11 stanzas, printed in the same, p. 74. Perhaps this will serve as a hint to future editors of Chaucer, from whose works it is high time to exclude poems known to be by some other hand.
In this MS. there is also a curious and rather long poem upon the game of chess; the board is called the cheker, and the pieces are the kyng, the quene or the fers (described on fol. 294), the rokys (duoRoci), the knyghtys, the Awfyns (duo alfini), and the povnys (pedini). This is interesting in connection with the Book of the Duchess; see note to l. 654 of that poem. The author tells us how ‘he plaid at the chesse,’ and ‘was mated of a Ferse.’
B. (Bodley 638) is very closely related to MS. F.; in the case of some of the poems, both must have been drawn from a common source. MS. B. is not a mere copy of F., for it sometimes has the correct reading where F. is wrong; as, e. g. in the case of the reading Bret in the House of Fame, l. 1208. It contains seven of these Minor Poems, as well as The boke of Cupide god of loue (Cuckoo and Nightingale), Hoccleve’s Lettre of Cupide god of loue, Lydgate’s Temple of Glass (oddly called Temple of Bras (!), a mistake which occurs in MS. F. also), his Ordre of Folys, printed in Halliwell’s Minor Poems of Lydgate, p. 164, and his Complaint of the Black Knight, imperfect at the beginning.
A. (Shirley’s MS. Ashmole 59) is remarkable for containing a large number of pieces by Lydgate, most of which are marked as his. It corroborates the statement in MS. F. that he wrote the Balade against Women’s Doubleness. It contains the whole of Scogan’s poem in which Chaucer’s Gentilesse is quoted: see the complete print of it, from this MS., in the Chaucer Society’s publications.
Another poem in this MS. requires a few words. At the back of leaf 38 is a poem entitled ‘The Cronycle made by Chaucier,’ with a second title to this effect:—‘Here nowe folowe the names of the nyene worshipfullest Ladyes that in alle cronycles and storyal bokes haue beo founden of trouthe of constaunce and vertuous or reproched (sic) womanhode by Chaucier.’ The poem consists of nine stanzas of eight lines (in the ordinary heroic metre), and is printed in Furnivall’s Odd Text of Chaucer’s Minor Poems, Part I. It would be a gross libel to ascribe this poem to Chaucer, as it is very poor, and contains execrable rimes (such as prysoun, bycome; apply-e, pyte; thee, dy-e). But we may easily see that the title is likely to give rise to a misconception. It does not really mean that the poem itself is by Chaucer, but that it gives a brief epitome of the ‘Cronicle made by Chaucier’ of ‘the nyene worshipfullest Ladyes.’ And, in fact, it does this. Each stanza briefly describes one of the nine women celebrated in Chaucer’s Legend of Good Women. It is sufficient to add that the author makes a ludicrous mistake, which is quite enough to acquit Chaucer of having had any hand in this wholly valueless production; for he actually addresses ‘quene Alceste’ as sorrowing for ‘Seyse her husbande.’ Seyse is Chaucer’s Ceyx, and Alceste is the author’s comic substitution for Alcyone; see Book of the Duchess, l. 220. This is not a fault of the scribe; for Alceste rimes with byheste, whereas Alcione does not. I much suspect that Shirley wrote this poem himself. His verses, in MS. Addit. 16165, are very poor.
Tn. (Tanner 346) is a fair MS. of the 15th century, and contains, besides six of the Minor Poems, the Legend of Good Women, Hoccleve’s Letter of Cupid (called litera Cupidinis dei Amoris directa subditis suis Amatoribus), the Cuckoo and Nightingale (called the god of loue), Lydgate’s Temple of Glas and Black Knight, &c. One of them is the Ballad no. 32 discussed above (p. 40). At fol. 73 is a poem in thirteen 8-line stanzas, beginning ‘As ofte as syghes ben in herte trewe.’ One stanza begins with these lines:—
I quote this for the sake of the extremely rare Chaucerian word spelt radevore in the Legend of Good Women. The same line occurs in another copy of the same poem in MS. Ff., fol. 12, back.
Ar. (Arch. Seld. B. 24) is a Scottish MS., apparently written in 1472, and contains, amongst other things, the unique copy of the Kingis Quair, by James I. of Scotland. This is the MS. wherein the scribe attributes pieces to Chaucer quite recklessly: see p. 47. It is also the authority for the pieces called Prosperity and Leaulte vault Richesse. Here, once more, we find the Letter of Cupid and the Cuckoo and Nightingale; it is remarkable how often these poems occur in the same MS. It also contains Troilus and the Legend of Good Women.
D. (Digby 181) contains, besides two of the Minor Poems, an imperfect copy of Troilus; also the Letter of Cupid and Complaint of the Black Knight. At fol. 52 is a piece entitled ‘Here Bochas repreuyth hem that yeue hasti credence to euery reporte or tale’; and it begins—‘All-though so be in euery maner age’; in nineteen 7-line stanzas. This is doubtless a part of chapter 13 of Book I. of Lydgate’s Fall of Princes.
R. (Rawlinson, Poet. 163) contains a copy of Chaucer’s Troilus, followed by the Balade to Rosemounde. Both pieces are marked ‘Tregentyll’ or ‘Tregentil’ to the left hand, and ‘Chaucer’ to the right.
Ff. (Ff. 1. 6) contains, besides five of the Minor Poems, many other pieces. One is a copy of Pyramus and Thisbe, being part of the Legend of Good Women. There are four extracts from various parts of Gower’s Confessio Amantis; the Cuckoo and Nightingale and Letter of Cupid; the Romance of Sir Degrevaunt; La Belle Dame sans Merci. Some pieces from this MS. are printed in Reliquiae Antiquae, i. 23, 169, 202; and two more, called The Parliament of Love and The Seven Deadly Sins, are printed in Political, Religious, and Love Poems, ed. Furnivall (E. E. T. S.), pp. 48, 215. We also find here a copy of Lydgate’s Ballad of Good Counsail, printed in the old editions of Chaucer (piece no. 40; see above, p. 33).
Gg. (Gg. 4. 27) is the MS. which contains so excellent a copy of the Canterbury Tales, printed as the ‘Cambridge MS.’ in the Chaucer Society’s publications. Four leaves are lost at the beginning. On leaf 5 is Chaucer’s A. B. C.; on leaf 7, back, the Envoy to Scogan; and on leaf 8, back, Chaucer’s Truth, entitled Balade de bone conseyl. This is followed by a rather pretty poem, in 15 8-line stanzas, which is interesting as quoting from Chaucer’s Parliament of Foules. Examples are: ‘Qui bien ayme tard oublye’ (l. 32; cf. P. F. 679): ‘The fesaunt, scornere of the cok Be nihter-tyme in frostis colde’ (ll. 49, 50; cf. P. F. 357); ‘Than spak the frosty feldefare’ (l. 89; cf. P. F. 364). Line 41 runs—‘Robert redbrest and the wrenne’; which throws some light on the etymology of robin. This valuable MS. also contains Troilus and the Legend of Good Women, with the unique earlier form of the Prologue; The Parlement of Foules; and Lydgate’s Temple of Glas. At fol. 467 is a Supplicacio amantis, a long piece of no great value, but the first four lines give pretty clear evidence that the author was well acquainted with Chaucer’s Anelida, and aspired to imitate it.
It seems to be a continuation of the Temple of Glas, and is probably Lydgate’s own.
Hh. (Camb. Univ. Lib. Hh. 4. 12) contains much of Lydgate, and is fully described in the Catalogue.
P. (Pepys 2006) consists of 391 pages, and contains Lydgate’s Complaint of the Black Knight, and Temple of Glass, part of the Legend of Good Women, the A. B. C., House of Fame, Mars and Venus (two copies), Fortune, Parlement of Foules, The Legend of the Three Kings of Cologne, The War between Caesar and Pompey, a Translation of parts of Cato, the Tale of Melibeus and Parson’s Tale, Anelida, Envoy to Scogan, A. B. C. (again), Purse, Truth, and Merciless Beauty.
Trin. (Trin. Coll. Camb. R. 3. 19) not only contains two of the Minor Poems, but a large number of other pieces, including the Legend of Good Women and many of Lydgate’s Poems. In particular, it is the source of most of Stowe’s additions to Chaucer: I may mention The Craft of Lovers, dated 1448 in the MS. (fol. 156), but 1348 in Stowe; the Ten Commandments of Love, Nine Ladies worthy, Virelai (fol. 160), Balade beginning In the seson of Feuerer (fol. 160), Goddesses and Paris (fol. 161, back), A balade plesaunte (fol. 205), O Mossie Quince (fol. 205), Balade beginning Loke well aboute (fol. 207); and The Court of Love; see the pieces numbered 46, 48, 49, 50, 51, 53, 54, 55, 56, 59 (p. 33). The piece numbered 41 also occurs here, at the end of the Parliament of Foules, and is headed ‘Verba translatoris.’ One poem, by G. Ashby, is dated 1463, and I suppose most of the pieces are in a handwriting of a later date, not far from 1500. It is clear that Stowe had no better reason for inserting pieces in his edition of Chaucer than their occurrence in this MS. to which he had access. If he had had access to any other MS. of the same character, the additions in his book would have been different, and The Court of Love would never have been ‘Chaucer’s.’ Yet this is the sort of evidence which some accept as being quite sufficient to prove that Chaucer learnt the language of a century after his own date, in order to qualify himself for writing that poem.
Ad. (MS. Addit. 16165). One of Shirley’s MSS., marked with his name in large letters. It contains a copy of Chaucer’s Boethius; Trevisa’s translation of the gospel of Nichodemus; the Maistre of the game (on hunting); the Compleint of the Black Knight and the Dreme of a Lover, both by Lydgate. The latter is the same poem, I suppose, as The Temple of Glas. It is here we learn from Shirley that the Complaint of the Black Knight is Lydgate’s. Not only is it headed, on some pages, as ‘The complaynte of a knight made by Lidegate,’ but on fol. 3 he refers to the same poem, speaking of it as being a complaint—
Here also we find two separate fragments of Anelida2 ; the two stanzas mentioned above (p. 52, l. 20), called by Shirley ‘two verses made in wyse of balade by Halsham, Esquyer’; Chaucer’s Proverbs; the poem no. 45 above (p. 33), attributed in this MS. to Lydgate; &c. At fol. 256, back, is the Balade of compleynte printed in this volume as poem no. XXIII.
Add. (MS. Addit. 22139). This is a fine folio MS., containing Gower’s Confessio Amantis. At fol. 138 are Chaucer’s Purse, Gentilesse, Lak of Stedfastnesse, and Truth.
At. (MS. Addit. 10340). Contains Chaucer’s Boethius (foll. 1-40); also Truth, with the unique envoy, and the description of the ‘Persone,’ from the Canterbury Tales, on fol. 41, recto3 .
Ct. (MS. Cotton, Cleopatra, D. 7). The Chaucer poems are all on leaves 188, 189. They are all ballads, viz. Gentilesse, Lak of Stedfastness, Truth, and Against Women Unconstaunt. All four are in the same hand; and we may remark that the last of the four is thus, in a manner, linked with the rest; see p. 58, l. 5, p. 26, l. 29.
H. (MS. Harl. 2251). Shirley’s MS. contains a large number of pieces, chiefly by Lydgate. Also Chaucer’s Prioresses Tale, Fortune (fol. 46), Gentilesse (fol. 48, back), A. B. C. (fol. 49), and Purse (fol. 271). The Craft of Lovers also occurs, and is dated 1459 in this copy. Poem no. 56 (p. 34) also occurs here, and is marked as Lydgate’s. We also see from this MS. that the first four stanzas of no. 52 (p. 33) form part of a poem on the Fall of Man, in which Truth, Mercy, Righteousness, and Peace are introduced as allegorical personages. The four stanzas form part of Mercy’s plea, and this is why the word mercy occurs ten times. At fol. 153, back (formerly 158, back), we actually find a copy of Henry Scogan’s poem in which Chaucer’s Gentilesse is not quoted, the requisite stanzas being entirely omitted. At fol. 249, back, Lydgate quotes the line ‘this world is a thurghfare ful of woo,’ and says it is from Chaucer’s ‘tragedyes.’ It is from the Knightes Tale, l. 1989 (A 2847).
Ha. (Harl. 7578). Contains Lydgate’s Proverbs; Chaucer’s Pite (fol. 13, back), Gentilesse and Lak of Stedfastnesse (fol. 17), immediately followed by the Balade against Women unconstaunt, precisely in the place where we should expect to find it; also Chaucer’s Proverbs, immediately followed by the wholly unconnected stanzas discussed above; p. 52, l. 20. At fol. 20, back, are six stanzas of Chaucer’s A. B. C.
Harl. (MS. Harl. 7333). This is a fine folio MS., and contains numerous pieces. At fol. 37, recto, begins a copy of the Canterbury Tales, with a short prose Proem by Shirley; this page has been reproduced in facsimile for the Chaucer Society. At fol. 129, back, begins the Parliament of Foules, at the end of which is the stanza which appears as poem no. 41 in Stowe’s edition (see p. 33). Then follow the Broche of Thebes, i. e. the Complaint of Mars, and Anelida. It also contains some of the Gesta Romanorum and of Hoccleve’s De Regimine Principum. But the most remarkable thing in this MS. is the occurrence, at fol. 136, of a poem hitherto (as I believe) unprinted, yet obviously (in my opinion) written by Chaucer; see no. XXII. in the present volume. Other copies occur in F. and B.
Sh. (MS. Harl. 78; one of Shirley’s MSS.). At fol. 80 begins the Complaint to Pity; on fol. 82 the last stanza of this poem is immediately followed by the poem here printed as no. VI; the only mark of separation is a star-like mark placed upon the line which is drawn to separate one stanza from another. At the end of fol. 83, back, l. 123 of the poem occurs at the bottom of the page, and fol. 84 is gone; so that the last stanza of 10 lines and the ascription to Chaucer in the colophon do not appear in this MS.
MS. Harl. 372. This MS. contains many poems by Lydgate. Also a copy of Anelida; followed by La Belle Dame sans mercy, ‘translatid out of Frenche by Sir Richard Ros,’ &c.
MS. Lansdowne 699. This MS. contains numerous poems by Lydgate, such as Guy of Warwick, the Dance of Macabre, the Horse, Sheep, and Goose, &c.; and copies of Chaucer’s Fortune and Truth.
I. A. B. C.
This piece was first printed in Speght’s edition of 1602, with this title: ‘Chaucer’s A. B. C. called La Priere de Nostre Dame: made. as some say, at the Request of Blanch, Duchesse of Lancaster, as a praier for her priuat vse, being a woman in her religion very deuout.’ This is probably a mere guess, founded on the fact that Chaucer wrote the Book of the Duchess. It cannot be literally true, because it is not strictly ‘made,’ or composed, but only translated. Still, it is just possible that it was translated for her pleasure (rather than use); and if so, must have been written between 1359 and 1369. A probable date is about 1366. In any case, it may well stand first in chronological order, being a translation just of that unambitious character which requires no great experience. Indeed, the translation shews one mark of want of skill; each stanza begins by following the original for a line or two, after which the stanza is completed rather according to the requirements of rime than with an endeavour to render the original at all closely. There are no less than thirteen MS. copies of it; and its genuineness is attested both by Lydgate and Shirley1 . The latter marks it with Chaucer’s name in the Sion College MS. Lydgate’s testimony is curious, and requires a few words of explanation.
Guillaume De Deguilleville, a Cistercian monk in the royal abbey of Chalis2 , in the year 1330 or 13313 , wrote a poem entitled Pèlerinage de la Vie humaine. Of this there are two extant English translations, one in prose and one in verse, the latter being attributed to Lydgate. Of the prose translation4 four copies exist, viz. in the MSS. which I call C., Gl., Jo., and L. In all of these, Chaucer’s A. B. C. is inserted, in order to give a verse rendering of a similar prayer in verse in the original. Of Lydgate’s verse translation there is a copy in MS. Cotton, Vitell. C. xiii. (see foll. 255, 256); and when he comes to the place where the verse prayer occurs in his original, he says that, instead of translating the prayer himself, he will quote Chaucer’s translation, observing:—
Curiously enough, he does not do so; a blank space was left in the MS. for the scribe to copy it out, but it was never filled in1 . However, it places the genuineness of the poem beyond doubt; and the internal evidence confirms it; though it was probably, as was said, quite an early work.
In order to illustrate the poem fully, I print beneath it the French original, which I copy from the print of it in Furnivall’s One-text Print of Chaucer’s Minor Poems, Part I. p. 84.
It is taken from Guillaume De Deguilleville’s Pèlerinage de l’Ame, Part I, Le Pèlerinage de la Vie humaine. Edited from the MS. 1645, Fonds Français, in the National Library, Paris (A), and collated with the MSS. 1649 (B), 376 (C), and 377 (D), in the same collection, by Paul Meyer. I omit, however, the collations; the reader only wants a good text.
Chaucer did not translate the last two stanzas. I therefore give them here.
MS. C. affords, on the whole, the best text, and is therefore followed, all variations from it being duly noted in the footnotes, except (occasionally) when i is put for y, or y for i. The scribes are very capricious in the use of these letters, using them indifferently; but it is best to use i when the vowel is short (as a general rule), and y when it is long. Thus, it is is better than yt ys, and wyse than wise, in order to shew that the vowel is long in the latter case. I also use y at the end of a word, as usual; as in lady, my. When the spelling of the MS. is thus slightly amended, it gives a fair text, which can easily be read with the old and true pronunciation.
We may roughly divide the better MSS. into two sets, thus: (a) C. Gl. L. Jo.; (b) F. B. Gg. The rest I have not collated. See Koch, in Anglia, iv. b. 100.
The metre of this poem is worthy of notice. Chaucer uses it again, in the Former Age (IX), Lenvoy to Bukton (XVII), and in the Monkes Tale. More complex examples of it, with repeated rimes, are seen in the Balade to Rosemounde (XII), Fortune (X), and Venus (XVIII). See also the two stanzas on p. 47.
II. The Compleynt unto Pite.
The word compleynt answers to the O. F. complaint, sb. masc., as distinguished from O. F. complainte, sb. fem., and was the technical name, as it were, for a love-poem of a mournful tone, usually addressed to the unpitying loved one. See Godefroy’s Old French Dictionary1 . Dr. Furnivall’s account of this poem begins as follows: ‘In seventeen 7-line stanzas: 1 of Proem, 7 of Story, and 9 of Complaint, arranged in three Terns [sets of three] of stanzas; first printed by Thynne in 1532 . . . The poem looks not easy to construe; but it is clearly a Complaint to Pity, as 5 MSS. read, and not of Pity, as Shirley reads in MS. Harl. 78. This Pity once lived in the heart of the loved-one of the poet . . . But in his mistress’s heart dwells also Pity’s rival, Cruelty; and when the poet, after waiting many years2 , seeks to declare his love, even before he can do so, he finds that Pity for him is dead in his mistress’s heart, Cruelty has prevailed, and deprived him of her.’ His theory is, that this poem is Chaucer’s earliest original work, and relates to his own feelings of hopeless love; also, that Chaucer was not married till 1374, when he married his namesake Philippa Chaucer3 . If this be so, a probable conjectural date for this poem is about 1367. I have remarked, in the note to l. 14, that the allegory of the poem is somewhat confused; and this implies a certain want of skill and clearness, which makes the supposition of its being an early work the more probable1 . It is extremely difficult to determine to what extent the sentiments are artificial. If a French poem of a similar character should one day be found, it would not be very surprising. Meanwhile, it is worth observing that the notion of personifying Pity is taken from Chaucer’s favourite author Statius; see the Thebaid, bk. xi. 458-496, and compare the context, ll. 1-457. It is this which enables us to explain the word Herenus in l. 92, which is an error for Herines, the form used by Chaucer to denote the Erinnyes or Furies2 . The Erinnyes are mentioned in Statius, Theb. xi. 345 (cf. ll. 58, 60, 383); and Statius leads up to the point of the story where it is an even chance whether there will be peace or war. The Furies urge on the combatants to war; and at this crisis, the only power who can overrule them is Pietas, personified by Statius for this express purpose (ll. 458, 465, 466). The struggle between Pity and Cruelty in Chaucer’s poem is parallel to the struggle between Pietas and the fury Tisiphone as told in Statius. Pity is called Herines quene, or queen of the Furies, because she alone is supposed to be able to control them. See my notes to ll. 57, 64, and 92.
The poem is extant in nine MSS. It is attributed to Chaucer by Shirley in MS. ‘Sh.,’ and the internal evidence confirms this. There is a fairly good copy in MS. F., on which my edition of it is based. There is, further, an excellent critical edition of this poem by Prof. Ten Brink, in Essays on Chaucer, Part II, p. 170 (Chaucer Soc.); this I carefully consulted after making my own copy, and I found that the differences were very slight. The least valuable MSS. seem to be Ff., Ph., and Lt. Omitting these, the MSS. may be divided into three sets, viz. A, Ba, and Bb, the two last going back to a common source B. These are: (A.)—Sh. Ha.; (Ba.)—F. B.; (Bb.)—Tn. Trin. See Koch, in Anglia, iv. b. 96.
In this poem we have the earliest example, in English, of the famous 7-line stanza.
III. The Book of the Duchesse.
Here we are on firm ground. The genuineness of this poem has never been doubted. It is agreed that the word Whyte in l. 948, which is given as the name of the lady lately dead, is a translation of Blanche, and that the reference is to the wife of the Duke of Lancaster (John of Gaunt), who died Sept. 12, 1369, at the age of twenty-nine, her husband being then of the same age. As the poem would naturally be written soon after this event, the date must be near the end of 1369. In fact, John of Gaunt married again in 1372, whereas he is represented in the poem as being inconsolable. Chaucer’s own testimony, in the Legend of Good Women, l. 418, is that he made ‘the deeth of Blaunche the Duchesse’; and again, in the Introduction to the Man of Law’s Prologue, l. 57, that ‘In youthe he made of Ceys and Alcion.’ In 1369, Chaucer was already twenty-nine years of age (taking the year of his birth to be 1340, not 1328), which is rather past the period of youth; and the fact that he thus mentions ‘Ceys and Alcion’ as if it were the name of an independent poem, renders it almost certain that such was once the case. He clearly thought it too good to be lost, and so took the opportunity of inserting it in a more ambitious effort. The original ‘Ceys and Alcion’ evidently ended at l. 220; where it began, we cannot say, for the poem was doubtless revised and somewhat altered. Ll. 215, 216 hint that a part of it was suppressed. The two subjects were easily connected, the sorrow of Alcyone for the sudden and unexpected loss of her husband being the counterpart of the sorrow of the duke for the loss of his wife. The poem of ‘Ceys and Alcion’ shews Chaucer under the influence of Ovid, just as part of his Complaint to Pity was suggested by Statius; but in the later part of the poem of the Book of the Duchesse we see him strongly influenced by French authors, chiefly Guillaume de Machault and the authors of Le Roman de la Rose. His familiarity with the latter poem (as pointed out in the notes) is such as to prove that he had already been previously employed in making his translation of that extremely lengthy work, and possibly quotes lines from his own translation1 .
The relationship between the MSS. and Thynne’s edition has been investigated by Koch, in Anglia, vol. iv. Anzeiger, p. 95, and by Max Lange, in his excellent dissertation entitled Untersuchungen über Chaucer’s Boke of the Duchesse, Halle, 1883. They both agree in representing the scheme of relationship so as to give the following result:
Here α represents a lost original MS., and β and γ are lost MSS. derived from it. Thynne follows β; whilst γ is followed by the Tanner MS. and a lost MS. δ. The Fairfax and Bodley MSS., which are much alike, are copies of δ. The MS. γ had lost a leaf, containing ll. 31-96; hence the same omission occurs in the three MSS. derived from it. However, a much later hand has filled in the gap in MS. F, though it remains blank in the other two MSS. On the whole, the authorities for this poem are almost unusually poor; I have, in general, followed MS. F, but have carefully amended it where the other copies seemed to give a better result. Lange gives a useful set of ‘Konjecturen,’ many of which I have adopted. I have also adopted, thankfully, some suggestions made by Koch and Ten Brink; others I decline, with thanks.
This poem is written in the common metre of four accents, which was already in use before Chaucer’s time, as in the poem of Havelok the Dane, Robert of Brunne’s Handling Synne, Hampole’s Pricke of Conscience, &c. Chaucer only used it once afterwards, viz. in his House of Fame. It is the metre employed also in his translation (as far as we have it) of the French Roman de la Rose.
IV. The Compleynt of Mars.
Lydgate tells us that this poem is Chaucer’s, referring to it as containing the story of ‘the broche which that Vulcanus At Thebes wrought,’ &c. Internal evidence clearly shews that it was written by the author of the Treatise on the Astrolabie. In MS. Harl. 7333, Shirley gives it the title ‘The broche of Thebes, as of the love of Mars and Venus.’ Bale oddly refers to this poem as De Vulcam veru, but broche is here an ornament, not a spit. With the exception of two lines and a half (ll. 13-15), the whole poem is supposed to be sung by a bird, and upon St. Valentine’s day. Such a contrivance shews a certain lack of skill, and is an indication of a comparatively early date. The poem begins in the ordinary 7-line stanza, rimed a b a b b c c; but the Complaint itself is in 9-line stanzas, rimed a a b a a b b c c, and exhibits a considerable advance in rhythmical skill. This stanza, unique in Chaucer, was copied by Douglas (Palace of Honour, part 3), and by Sir D. Lyndesay (Prol. to Testament of Papyngo).
At the end of the copy of this poem in MS. T., Shirley appends the following note:—‘Thus eondethe here this complaint, whiche some men sayne was made by [i. e. with respect to] my lady of York, doughter to the kyng of Spaygne, and my lord huntingdon, some tyme Duc of Excestre.’ This tradition may be correct, but the intrigue between them was discreditable enough, and would have been better passed over in silence than celebrated in a poem, in which Mars and Venus fitly represent them. In the heading to the poem in the same MS., Shirley tells us further, that it was written to please John of Gaunt. The heading is:—‘Loo, yee louers, gladethe and comfortethe you of thallyance etrayted1 bytwene the hardy and furyous Mars the god of armes and Venus the double [i. e. fickle] goddesse of loue; made by Geffrey Chaucier, at the comandement of the renommed and excellent Prynce my lord the Duc Iohn of Lancastre.’ The lady was John of Gaunt’s sister-in-law. John of Gaunt married, as his second wife, in 1372, Constance, elder daughter of Pedro, king of Castile; whilst his brother Edmund, afterwards duke of York, married Isabel, her sister. In Dugdale’s Baronage, ii. 154, we read that this Isabel, ‘having been somewhat wanton in her younger years, at length became a hearty penitent; and departing this life in 1394, was buried in the Friers Preachers at Langele,’ i. e. King’s Langley in Hertfordshire; cf. Chauncy’s Hertfordshire, p. 455; Camden’s Anglica, p. 350. It is possible that Chaucer addressed his Envoy to the Complaint of Venus to the same lady, as he calls her ‘Princess.’
Mars is, accordingly, intended to represent John Holande, half-brother to Richard II, Earl of Huntingdon, and afterwards Duke of Exeter. He actually married John of Gaunt’s daughter, Elizabeth, whose mother was the Blaunche celebrated in the Book of the Duchess.
If this tradition be true, the date of the poem must be not very many years after 1372, when the Princess Isabel came to England. We may date it, conjecturally, about 1374. See further in Furnivall’s Trial Forewords, pp. 78-90. I may add that an attempt has been made to solve the problem of the date of this poem by astronomy (see Anglia, ix. 582). It is said that Mars and Venus were in conjunction on April 14, 1379. This is not wholly satisfactory; for Chaucer seems to refer to the 12th of April as the time of conjunction. If we accept this result, then the year was 1379. The date 1373-9 is near enough.
The poem is remarkable for its astronomical allusions, which are fully explained in the notes. The story of Mars and Venus was doubtless taken from Ovid, Metam. iv. 170-189. The story of the brooch of Thebes is from Statius, ii. 265, &c.; see note to l. 245.
I shall here add a guess of mine which possibly throws some light on Chaucer’s reason for referring to the brooch of Thebes. It is somewhat curious that the Princess Isabel, in a will made twelve years before her death, and dated Dec. 6, 1382, left, amongst other legacies, ‘to the Duke of Lancaster, a Tablet of Jasper which the King of Armonie gave her’; see Furnivall’s Trial Forewords, p. 82. Here Armonie means, of course, Armenia; but it is also suggestive of Harmonia, the name of the first owner of the brooch of Thebes. It seems just possible that the brooch of Thebes was intended to refer to this tablet of jasper, which was doubtless of considerable value and may have been talked about as being a curiosity.
MSS. F. Tn. and Lt. are much alike; the rest vary. I follow F. mainly, in constructing the text.
V. The Parlement of Foules.
This poem is undoubtedly genuine; both Chaucer and Lydgate mention it. It is remarkable as being the first of the Minor Poems which exhibits the influence upon Chaucer of Italian literature, and was therefore probably written somewhat later than the Complaint of Mars. It is also the first of the Minor Poems in which touches of true humour occur; see ll. 498-500, 508, 514-6, 563-575, 589-616. Dr. Furnivall (Trial Forewords, p. 53) notes that the MSS. fall into two principal groups; in the first he places Gg., Trin., Cx., Harl., O., the former part of Ff., (part of) Ar., and the fragments in Hh. and Laud 416; in the second he places F., Tn., D., and the latter part of Ff. Lt. also belongs to the second group. See further in Anglia, vol. iv. Anzeiger, p. 97. The whole poem, except the Roundel in ll. 680-692, is in Chaucer’s favourite 7-line stanza, often called the ballad-stanza, or simply balade in the MSS.
The poem itself may be roughly divided into four parts. The first part, ll. 1-84, is mainly occupied with an epitome of the general contents of Cicero’s Somnium Scipionis. The second part, ll. 85-175, shews several instances of the influence of Dante, though the stanza containing ll. 99-105 is translated from Claudian. The third part, ll. 176-294, is almost wholly translated or imitated from Boccaccio’s Teseide. And the fourth part, ll. 295 to the end, is occupied with the real subject of the poem, the main idea being taken, as Chaucer himself tells us, from Alanus de Insulis. The passages relating to the Somnium Scipionis are duly pointed out in the notes; and so are the references to Dante and Claudian. The history of the third and fourth parts requires further explanation.
We have already seen that Chaucer himself tells us, in the Prol. to the Legend, 420, that he made—‘al the love of Palamon and Arcyte Of Thebes, thogh the story is knowen lyte.’ (N.B. This does not mean that Chaucer’s version of the story was ‘little known,’ but that Boccaccio speaks of the story as being little known—‘che Latino autor non par ne dica’; see note to Anelida, l. 8.) Now, in the first note on Anelida and Arcite, it is explained how this story of Palamon and Arcite was necessarily translated, more or less closely, from Boccaccio’s Teseide, and was doubtless written in the 7-line stanza; also that fragments of it are preserved to us (1) in sixteen stanzas of the Parliament of Foules, (2) in the first ten stanzas of Anelida, and (3) in three stanzas of Troilus. At a later period, the whole poem was re-written in a different metre, and now forms the Knightes Tale. The sixteen stanzas here referred to begin at l. 183 (the previous stanza being also imitated from a different part of the Teseide, bk. xi. st. 24), and end at l. 294. Chaucer has somewhat altered the order; see note to l. 183. I here quote, from Furnivall’s Trial Forewords, pp. 60-66, a translation by Mr. W. M. Rossetti, of Boccaccio’s Teseide, bk. vii. stanzas 51-66; and I give, beneath it, the Italian text, from an edition published at Milan in 1819. This passage can be compared with Chaucer’s imitation of it at the reader’s leisure.
I note, beforehand, that, in the first line of this translation, the word whom refers to Vaghezza, i. e. Grace, Allurement; whilst she is the prayer of Palemo, personified.
At l. 298 we are introduced to a queen, who in l. 303 is said to be the noble goddess Nature. The general idea is taken from Aleyn’s Pleynt of Kynde (l. 316), i. e. from the Planctus Naturae of Alanus de Insulis; see note to l. 298 of the poem. I here quote the most essential passage from the Anglo-Latin Satirical Poets, ed. T. Wright, ii. 437. It describes the garment worn by the goddess Nature, on which various birds were represented. The phrase animaliumconcilium may have suggested the name given by Chaucer to our poem. But see the remark on p. 75, l. 21.
‘Haec autem [vestis] nimis subtilizata, subterfugiens oculorum indaginem, ad tantam materiae tenuitatem advenerat, ut ejus aerisque eandem crederes esse naturam, in qua, prout oculis pictura imaginabatur, animalium celebratur concilium. Illic aquila, primo juvenem, secundo senem, induens, tertio iterum reciprocata priorem, in Adonidem revertebatur a Nestore. Illic ancipiter (sic), civitatis praefectus aeriae, violenta tyrannide a subditis redditus exposcebat. Illic milvus, venatoris induens personam, venatione furtiva larvam gerebat ancipitris. Illic falco in ardeam bellum excitabat civile, non tamen aequali lance divisum. Non enim illud pugnae debet appellatione censeri, ubi tu pulsas, ego vapulo tantum. Illic struthio, vita seculari postposita, vitam solitariam agens, quasi heremita factus, desertarum solitudines incolebat. Illic olor, sui funeris praeco, mellitae citherizationis organo vitae prophetabat apocopam. Illic in pavone tantum pulcritudinis compluit Natura thesaurum, ut eam postea crederes mendicasse. Illic phoenix, in se mortuus, redivivus in alio, quodam Naturae miraculo, se sua morte a mortuis suscitabat. Illic avis concordiae (ciconia) prolem decimando Naturae persolvebat tributum. Illic passeres in atomum pygmeae humilitatis relegati degebant, grus ex opposito in giganteae quantitatis evadebat excessum.
‘Illic phasianus, natalis insulae perpessus angustias, principum futurus deliciae, nostros evolabat in orbes. Illic gallus, tanquam vulgaris astrologus, suae vocis horologio horarum loquebatur discrimina. Illic gallus silvestris, privatioris galli deridens desidiam, peregre proficiscens, nemorales peragrabat provincias. Illic bubo, propheta miseriae, psalmodias funereae lamentationis praecinebat. Illic noctua tantae deformitatis sterquilinio sordescebat, ut in ejus formatione Naturam crederes fuisse somnolentam. Illic cornix, ventura prognosticans, nugatorio concitabatur garritu. Illic pica, dubio picturara colore, curam logices perennebat insomnem. Illic monedula, latrocinio laudabili reculas thesaurizans, innatae avaritiae argumenta monstrabat. Illic columba, dulci malo inebriata Diones, laborabat Cypridis in palaestra. Illic corvus, zelotypiae abhorrens dedecus, suos foetus non sua esse pignora fatebatur, usque dum comperto nigri argumento coloris, hoc quasi secum disputans comprobat. Illic perdix nunc aeriae potestatis insultus, nunc venatorum sophismata, nunc canum latratus propheticos abhorrebat. Illic anas cum ansere, sub eodem jure vivendi, hiemabat in patria fluviali. Illic turtur, suo viduata consorte, amorem epilogare dedignans, in altero bigamiae refutabat solatia. Illic psittacus cum sui gutturis incude vocis monetam fabricabat humanae. Illic coturnicem, figurae draconis ignorantem fallaciam, imaginariae vocis decipiebant sophismata. Illic picus, propriae architectus domunculae, sui rostri dolabro clausulam fabricabat in ilice. Illic curruca, novercam exuens, materno pietatis ubere alienam cuculi prolem adoptabat in filium; quae tamen capitali praemiata stipendio, privignum agnoscens, filium ignorabat. Illic hirundo, a sua peregrinatione reversa, sub trabe nidi lutabat hospitium. Illic philomena, deflorationis querelam reintegrans, harmoniaca tympanizans dulcedine, puritatis dedecus excusabat. Illic alauda, quasi nobilis citharista, non studii artificio, sed Naturae magisterio, musicae praedocta scientiam, citharam praesentabat in ore . . . . Haec animalia, quamvis illic quasi allegorice viverent, ibi tamen esse videbantur ad litteram.’
As to the date of this poem, Ten Brink (Studien, p. 127) shews that it must have been written later than 1373; and further, that it was probably written earlier than Troilus, which seems to have been finished in 1383. It may therefore have been written in 1382, in which case it may very well refer to the betrothal (in 1381) of King Richard II to Queen Anne of Bohemia. See, on this subject, Dr. Koch’s discussion of the question in Essays on Chaucer, p. 407, published by the Chaucer Society. Prof. Ward (who follows Koch) in his Life of Chaucer, p. 86, says:—‘Anne of Bohemia, daughter of the great Emperor Charles IV., and sister of King Wenceslas, had been successively betrothed to a Bavarian prince and to a Margrave of Meissen, before—after negotiations which, according to Froissart, lasted a year1 —her hand was given to young King Richard II. of England. This sufficiently explains the general scope of the Assembly of Fowls, an allegorical poem written on or about St. Valentine’s Day, 13812 —eleven months or nearly a year after which date the marriage took place3 .’
I here note that Lydgate’s Flour of Curtesie is a palpable imitation of the Parliament of Foules; so also is the earlier part of his Complaint of the Black Knight.
On the other hand, it is interesting to find, in the Poésies de Marie de France, ed. Roquefort, Paris, 1820, that Fable 22 (vol. i. p. 130) is entitled:—‘Li parlemens des Oiseax por faire Roi.’ In this fable, the Birds reject the Cuckoo, and choose the Eagle as king.
VI. A Compleint to his Lady.
We may fairly say that this poem is attributed to Chaucer by Shirley, since in MS. Harl. 78 it is copied out by him as if it were a continuation of the Complaint to Pity, and the pages are, throughout, headed with the words—‘The Balade of Pytee. By Chauciers.’ Stowe implies that he had seen more than one MS. copy of this poem, and says that ‘these verses were compiled by Geffray Chauser,’ for which he may have found authority in the MSS.4 Moreover, the internal evidence settles the matter. It is evident that we have here a succession of metrical experiments, the last of which exhibits a ten-line stanza resembling the nine-line stanza of his Anelida; in fact, we here have that Complaint in a crude form, which was afterwards elaborated; see the references, in the Notes, to the corresponding passages in that poem. But a very great and unique interest is attached to lines 16 to 43. For here we have the sole example, in English literature of that period, of the use of terza rima, obviously copied from Dante; and Chaucer was the only writer who then had a real acquaintance with that author. I know of no other example of the use of this metre before the time of Lord Surrey and Sir Thomas Wiat, when Englishmen once more sought acquaintance with Italian poetry. Consequently, we have here the pleasure of seeing how Chaucer handled Dante’s metre; and the two fragments here preserved shew that he might have handled it quite successfully if he had persevered in doing so.
It is to be regretted that Shirley’s spelling is so indifferent; he was rather an amateur than a professional scribe. Some of his peculiarities may be noticed, as they occur not only here, but also in the two last pieces, nos. XXII. and XXIII. He constantly adds a final e in the wrong place, producing such forms as fallethe, howe, frome, and the like, and drops it where it is necessary, as in hert (for herte). He is fond of eo for ee or long e, as in beo, neodethe. He writes ellas for allas; also e in place of the prefix y-, as in eknytte for y-knit. This last peculiarity is extremely uncommon. I have removed the odd effect which these vagaries produce, and I adopt the ordinary spelling of MSS. that resemble in type the Ellesmere MS. of the Canterbury Tales.
This piece exhibits three distinct metres, viz. the 7-line stanza, terza rima, and the 10-line stanza. Of the last, which is extremely rare, we have here the earliest example. Lines 56 and 59 are lost, and some others are imperfect.
VII. Anelida and Arcite.
The genuineness of this poem is obvious enough, and is vouched for both by Lydgate and Shirley, as shewn above. It is further discussed in the Notes. I may add that Lydgate incidentally refers to it in his Complaint of the Black Knight, l. 379:—‘Of Thebes eke the false Arcite.’ Much later allusions are the following:—
The first three stanzas are from Boccaccio’s Teseide, as shewn in the Notes; so also are stanzas 8, 9, and 10. Stanzas 4-7 are partly from Statius. The origin of ll. 71-210 is at present unknown. It is difficult to date this poem, but it must be placed after 1373, because of its quotations from the Teseide, or rather from Chaucer’s own Palamon and Arcite. The mention of ‘the quene of Ermony’ in l. 72 suggests that Chaucer’s thoughts may have been turned towards Armenia by the curious fact that, in 1384, the King of Armenia came to England about Christmas time, stayed two months, and was hospitably entertained by King Richard at Eltham; see Fabyan’s Chronicles, ed. Ellis, p. 532. At an earlier time, viz. in 1362, Walsingham says that some knights of Armenia appeared at a tournament in Smithfield. In the Transactions of the Cambridge Philological Society, May 13, 1886, there is a short paper by Prof. Cowell, from which we learn that Mr. Bradshaw believed the name of Anelida to be identical ‘with Anáhita (Ἀναΐτις), the ancient goddess of Persia and Armenia. . . He supposed that Chaucer got the name Anelida from a misreading of the name Anaetidem or Anaetida in some Latin MS., the t being mistaken for l.’ We must remember that Creseide represents a Greek accusative form Χρυσηΐδα, of which the gen. Χρυσηΐδος occurs in Homer, Il. i. 111; and perhaps the form Dalida (for Dalilah) in the Septuagint is also due to association with Greek accusatives in -ιδα. The genitive Anaetidos occurs in Pliny, xxxiii. 4; in Holland’s translation of Pliny, ii. 470, she appears as ‘the goddesse Diana syrnamed Anaitis.’ It may be as well to explain to those who are unaccustomed to MSS. of the fourteenth century, that it was then usual to write e in place of ae or æ, so that the name would usually be written, in the accusative case, Anetida. This suggests that Anelida should be spelt with but one n; and such is the practice of all the better MSS.
It remains to be added that one source of the part of the poem called the Complaint (ll. 211-350) is the piece printed in this volume as no. VI. That piece is, in fact, a kind of exercise in metrical experiments, and exhibits specimens of a 10-line stanza, resembling the nine-line stanza of this Complaint. Chaucer seems to have elaborated this into a longer Complaint, with additional varieties in the metre; and then to have written the preceding story by way of introduction. One line (vi. 50) is repeated without alteration (vii. 237); another (vi. 35) is only altered in the first and last words (vii. 222). Other resemblances are pointed out in the Notes.
It is also worth while to notice how the character of the speaking falcon in the second part of the Squire’s Tale is precisely that of Anelida. The parallel lines are pointed out in the Notes. The principal MSS. may be thus grouped: Aa.—F.B. Ab.—Tn. D. Lt. B.—Harl. Cx. Here A and B are two groups, of which the former is subdivided into Aa and Ab. See Koch, in Anglia, iv. b. 102.
VIII. Chaucer’s Wordes unto Adam.
This is evidently a genuine poem, written by the author of the translation of Boethius and of the story of Troilus.
IX. The Former Age.
First printed in 1866, in Morris’s Chaucer, from a transcript made by Mr. Bradshaw, who pointed out its genuineness. It is ascribed to Chaucer in both MSS., and belongs, in fact, to his translation of Boethius, though probably written at a later date. In MS. I. the poem is headed:—‘Chawcer vp-on this fyfte metur of the second book.’ In MS. Hh., the colophon is: ‘Finit Etas prima: Chaucers.’ Dr. Koch thinks that the five poems here numbered IX. X. XIII-XV. ‘form a cyclus, as it were, being free transcriptions of different passages in Boethius’ Consolatio Philosophiae.’ There is, in fact, a probability that these were all written at about the same period, and that rather a late one, some years after the prose translation of Boethius had been completed; and a probable date for this completion is somewhere about 1380.
Both MS. copies are from the same source, as both of them omit the same line, viz. l. 56; which I have had to supply by conjecture. Neither of the MSS. are well spelt, nor are they very satisfactory. The mistake in riming l. 47 with l. 43 instead of l. 45 may very well have been due to an oversight on the part of the poet himself. But the poem is a beautiful one, and admirably expressed; and its inclusion among the Minor Poems is a considerable gain.
Dr. Furnivall has printed the Latin text of Boethius, lib. ii. met. 5, from MS. I., as well as Chaucer’s prose version of the same, for the sake of comparison with the text of the poem. The likeness hardly extends beyond the first four stanzas. I here transcribe that part of the prose version which is parallel to the poem, omitting a few sentences which do not appear there at all; for the complete text, see vol. ii.
‘Blisful was the first age of men. They helden hem apayed with the metes that the trewe feldes broughten furthe. They ne distroyede nor deceivede not hem-self with outrage. They weren wont lightly to slaken hir hunger at even with acornes of okes. [Stanza 2.] They ne coude nat medly1 the yifte of Bachus to the clere hony; that is to seyn, they coude make no piment nor clarree. [Stanza 3.] . . they coude nat deyen whyte fleeses2 of Serien contree with the blode of a maner shelfisshe that men finden in Tyrie, with whiche blode men deyen purpur. [Stanza 6.] They slepen hoolsum slepes upon the gras, and dronken of the renninge wateres [cf. l. 8]; and layen under the shadwes of the heye pyn-trees. [Stanza 3, continued.] Ne no gest ne no straungere ne carf yit the heye see with ores or with shippes; ne they ne hadde seyn yit none newe strondes, to leden marchaundyse in-to dyverse contrees. Tho weren the cruel clariouns ful hust3 and ful stille. . . [Stanza 4.] For wherto or whiche woodnesse of enemys wolde first moeven armes, whan they seyen cruel woundes, ne none medes4 be of blood y-shad5 ? . . Allas! what was he that first dalf6 up the gobetes7 or the weightes of gold covered under erthe, and the precious stones that wolden han ben hid? He dalf up precious perils; . . . for the preciousnesse of swiche thinge, hath many man ben in peril.’
The metre is the same as that of the ABC.
Attributed to Chaucer by Shirley in MSS. A. and T.; also marked as Chaucer’s in MSS. F. and I. In MS. I., this poem and the preceding are actually introduced into Chaucer’s translation of Boethius, between the fifth metre and the sixth prose of the second book, as has been already said. The metre is the same as that of the ABC and The Former Age, but the same rimes run through three stanzas. The Envoy forms a 7-line stanza, but has only two rimes; the formula is ababbab. For further remarks, see the Notes.
XI. Merciles Beaute.
The unique copy of this poem is in MS. P1 . It is the last poem in the MS., and is in excellent company, as it immediately follows several other of Chaucer’s genuine poems2 . This is probably why Bp. Percy attributed it to Chaucer, who himself tells us that he wrote ‘balades, roundels, virelayes.’ It is significant that Mätzner, in his Altenglische Sprachproben, i. 347, chose this poem alone as a specimen of the Minor Poems. It is, in fact, most happily expressed, and the internal evidence places its authenticity beyond question. The three roundels express three ‘movements,’ in the poet’s usual manner; and his mastery of metre is shewn in the use of the same rime in -en-e in the first and third roundels, requiring no less than ten different words for the purpose; whilst in the second roundel the corresponding lines end in -eyn-e, producing much the same effect, if (as is probable) the old sounds of e and ey were not very different. We at once recognise the Chaucerian phrases I do no fors (see Cant. Ta. D 1234, 1512), and I counte him not a bene (see Troil. v. 363).
Very characteristic is the use of the dissyllabic word sen-e (l. 10), which is an adjective, and means ‘manifest,’ from the A. S. geséne, (gesýne), and not the past participle, which is y-seen. Chaucer rimes it with clen-e (Prol. to C. T. 134), and with gren-e (Kn. Tale, A 2298). The phrase though he sterve for the peyne (l. 23) reminds us of for to dyen in the peyne (Kn. Ta. A 1133).
But the most curious thing about this poem is the incidental testimony of Lydgate, in his Ballade in Commendacion of our Ladie; see poem no. 26 above, discussed at p. 38. I here quote st. 22 in full, from ed. 1561, fol. 330:
I ought to add that this poem is the only one which I have admitted into the set of Minor Poems (nos. I-XX) with incomplete external evidence. If it is not Chaucer’s, it is by some one who contrived to surpass him in his own style. And this is sufficient excuse for its appearance here.
Moreover, Lydgate’s testimony is external evidence, in a high degree. Even the allusion in l. 27 to the Roman de la Rose points in the same direction; and so does Chaucer’s statement that he wrote roundels. Excepting that in the Parl. of Foules, ll. 680-692, and the three here given, no roundels of his have ever been found1 .
XII. To Rosemounde.
This poem was discovered by me in the Bodleian Library on the 2nd of April, 1891. It is written on a fly-leaf at the end of MS. Rawlinson Poet. 163, which also contains a copy of Chaucer’s Troilus. At the end of the ‘Troilus’ is the colophon: ‘Here endith the book of Troylus and of Cresseyde.’ This colophon is preceded by ‘Tregentyll,’ and followed by ‘Chaucer.’ On the next leaf (no. 114) is the Balade, without any title, at the foot of which is ‘Tregentil’—‘Chaucer,’ the two names being written at a considerable distance apart. I believe ‘Tregentil’ to represent the name of the scribe2 . In any case, ‘Chaucer’ represents the name of the author. It is a happy specimen of his humour.
This famous poem is attributed to Chaucer in MS. F., also (thrice) by Shirley, who in one of the copies in MS. T. (in which it occurs twice) calls it a ‘Balade that Chaucier made on his deethbedde’; which is probably a mere bad guess1 . The MSS. may be divided into two groups; the four best are in the first group, viz. At., E., Gg., Ct., and the rest (mostly) in the second group. Those of the first group have the readings Tempest (8), Know thy contree (19), and Hold the hye wey (20); whilst the rest have, in the same places, Peyne (8), Look up on hy (19), and Weyve thy lust (20). It is remarkable that the Envoy occurs in MS. At. only. It may have been suppressed owing to a misunderstanding of the word vache (cow), the true sense of which is a little obscure. The reference is to Boethius, bk. v. met. 5, where it is explained that quadrupeds look down upon the earth, whilst man alone looks up towards heaven; cf. lok up in l. 19 of the poem. The sense is therefore, that we should cease to look down, and learn to look up like true men; ‘only the linage of man,’ says Chaucer, in his translation of Boethius, ‘heveth heyeste his heye heved2 . . this figure amonesteth3 thee, that axest the hevene with thy righte visage, and hast areysed thy fore-heved to beren up a-heigh thy corage, so that thy thoght ne be nat y-hevied4 ne put lowe under fote.’
It is curious that this Balade not only occurs as an independent poem, as in MSS. T., Harl., Ct., and others, but is also quoted bodily in a poem by Henry Scogan in MS. A. It is attributed to Chaucer by Shirley in MSS. T. and Harl.; and still more satisfactory is the account given of it by Scogan. The title of Scogan’s poem is:—‘A moral balade made by Henry Scogan squyer. Here folowethe nexst a moral balade to my lorde the Prince, to my lord of Clarence, to my lord of Bedford, and to my lorde of Gloucestre; by Henry Scogan, at a souper of feorthe merchande (sic) in the vyntre in London, at the hous of Lowys Iohan.’ It is printed in all the old editions of Chaucer; see poem no. 33, p. 32. Scogan tells us that he was ‘fader,’ i.e. tutor, to the four sons of Henry IV. above-mentioned1 . His ballad is in twenty-one 8-line stanzas, and he inserts Chaucer’s Gentilesse, distinguished by being in 7-line stanzas, between the 13th and 14th stanzas of his own work. He refers to Chaucer in the 9th stanza thus (in MS. A.):—
This is a reference to ll. 16, 17 of Chaucer’s poem. Again, in his 13th stanza, he says:—
He here refers to lines 15-17, and lines 1-4 of Chaucer’s poem; and then proceeds to quote it in full. Having done so, he adds:—
Scogan’s advice is all good; and, though he accuses himself of having misspent his youth, this may very well mean no more than such an expression means in the mouth of a good man. He is doubtless the very person to whom Chaucer’s ‘Lenvoy a Scogan’ was addressed, and Chaucer (l. 21) there gives him an excellent character for wisdom of speech. Accordingly, he is not to be confused with the Thomas Scogan or Scogin to whom is attributed an idle book called ‘Scoggins Iests,’ which were said to have been ‘gathered’ by Andrew Boord or Borde, author of the Introduction of Knowledge2 . When Shakespeare, in 2 Hen. IV. iii. 2. 33, says that Sir John Falstaff broke Scogan’s head, he was no doubt thinking of the supposed author of the jest-book, and may have been led, by observation of the name in a black-letter edition of Chaucer, to suppose that he lived in the time of Henry IV. This was quite enough for his purpose, though it is probable that the jester lived in the time of Edward IV.; see Tyrwhitt’s note on the Envoy to Scogan. On the other hand, we find Ben Jonson taking his ideas about Scogan solely from Henry Scogan’s poem and Chaucer’s Envoy, without any reference to the jester. See his Masque of the Fortunate Isles, in which Scogan is first described and afterwards introduced. The description tells us nothing more than we know already.
As for Lewis John (p. 82), Tyrwhitt says he was a Welshman, ‘who was naturalised by Act of Parliament, 2 Hen. V., and who was concerned with Thomas Chaucer in the execution of the office of chief butler; Rot. Parl. 2 Hen. V. n. 18.’
Caxton’s printed edition of this poem seems to follow a better source than any of the MSS.
XV. Lak of Stedfastnesse.
Attributed to Chaucer by Shirley in MSS. Harl. and T., and sent to King Richard at Windsor, according to the same authority. The general idea of it is from Boethius; see the Notes. Shirley refers it to the last years of Richard II., say 1397-9. We find something very like it in Piers Plowman, C. iv. 203-210, where Richard is told that bribery and wicked connivance at extortion have almost brought it about —
‘That no lond loveth the, and yut leest thyn owene.’
In any case, the date can hardly vary between wider limits than between 1393 and 1399. Richard held a tournament at Windsor in 13991 , which was but thinly attended; ‘the greater part of the knights and squires of England were disgusted with the king.’
Of this poem, MS. Ct. seems to give the best text.
XVI. Lenvoy a Scogan.
This piece is attributed to Chaucer in all three MSS., viz. F., P., and Gg.; and is obviously genuine. The probable date of it is towards the end of 1393; see the Notes.
For some account of Scogan, see above (p. 83).
XVII. Lenvoy a Bukton.
This piece is certainly genuine. In MS. F., the title is—‘Lenvoy de Chaucer a Bukton.’ In Julian Notary’s edition it is—‘Here foloweth the counceyll of Chaucer touching Maryag, &c. whiche was sente te (sic) Bucketon, &c.’ In all the other early printed editions it is inserted without any title immediately after the Book of the Duchess.
The poem is one of Chaucer’s latest productions, and may safely be dated about the end of the year 1396. This appears from the reference, in l. 23, to the great misfortune it would be to any Englishmen ‘to be take in Fryse,’ i. e. to be taken prisoner in Friesland. There is but one occasion on which this reference could have had any point, viz. during or just after the expedition of William of Hainault to Friesland, as narrated by Froissart in his Chronicles, bk. iv. capp. 78, 79. He tells that William of Hainault applied to Richard II. for assistance, who sent him ‘some men-at-arms and two hundred archers, under the command of three English lords1 .’ The expedition set out in August, 1396, and stayed in Friesland about five weeks, till the beginning of October, when ‘the weather began to be very cold and to rain almost daily.’ The great danger of being taken prisoner in Friesland was because the Frieslanders fought so desperately that they were seldom taken prisoners themselves. Then ‘the Frieslanders offered their prisoners in exchange, man for man; but, when their enemies had none to give in return, they put them to death.’ Besides this, the prisoners had to endure all the miseries of a bad and cold season, in an inclement climate. Hence the propriety of Chaucer’s allusion fully appears. From l. 8, we learn that Chaucer was now a widower; for the word eft means ‘again.’ His wife is presumed to have died in the latter part of 1387. We should also observe the allusion to the Wife of Bath’s Tale in l. 29.
XVIII. The Compleynt of Venus.
This poem is usually printed as if it formed part of the Complaint of Mars; but it is really distinct. It is attributed to Chaucer by Shirley both in MS. T. and in MS. A. It is not original, but translated from the French, as appears from l. 82. Shirley tells us that the author of the French poem was Sir Otes de Graunson, a worthy knight of Savoy. He is mentioned as receiving from King Richard the grant of an annuity of 126l. 13s. 4d. on 17 Nov. 1393; see Furnivall’s Trial Forewords, p. 123. The association of this poem with the Complaint of Mars renders it probable that the Venus of this poem is the same as the Venus of the other, i. e. the Princess Isabel of Spain, and Duchess of York. This fits well with the word Princess at the beginning of the Envoy; and as she died in 1394, whilst Chaucer, on the other hand, complains of his advancing years, we must date the poem about 1393, i. e. just about the time when Graunson received his annuity. Chaucer, if born about 1340, was not really more than 53, but we must remember that, in those days, men often aged quickly. John of Gaunt, who is represented by Shakespeare as a very old man, only lived to the age of 59; and the Black Prince died quite worn out, at the age of 46. Compare the notes to ll. 73, 76, 79, and 82.
Much new light has lately been thrown upon this poem by Dr. A. Piaget, who contributed an article to Romania, tome xix., on ‘Oton de Granson et ses Poésies,’ in 1890. The author succeeded in discovering a large number of Granson’s poems, including, to our great gain, the three Balades of which Chaucer’s ‘Compleynt of Venus’ is a translation. I am thus enabled to give the original French beneath the English version, for the sake of comparison.
He has also given us an interesting account of Granson himself, for which I must refer my readers to his article. It appears that Froissart mentions Granson at least four times (twice in bk. i. c. 303, a. d. 1372, once in c. 305, and once in c. 331, a. d. 1379), as fighting on the side of the English; see Johnes’ translation. He was in Savoy from 1389 to 1391; but, in the latter year, was accused of being concerned in the death of Amadeus VII., count of Savoy, in consequence of which he returned to England, and in 1393 his estates in Savoy were confiscated. It was on this occasion that Richard II. assigned to him the pension above mentioned. With the hope of clearing himself from the serious charge laid against him. Granson fought a judicial duel, at Bourg-en-Bresse, on Aug. 7, 1397, in which, however, he was slain.
Now that we have the original before us, we can see clearly, as Dr. Piaget says, that Chaucer has certainly not translated the original Balades ‘word for word’ throughout. He does so sometimes, as in ll. 27, 28, 30, 31, in which the closeness of the translation is marvellous; but, usually, he paraphrases the original to a considerable extent. In the first Balade, he has even altered the general motive; in the original, Granson sings the praises of his lady; in Chaucer, it is a lady who praises the worthiness of her lover.
It also becomes probable that the title ‘The Compleynt of Venus,’ which seems to have been suggested by Shirley, is by no means a fitting one. It is not suitable for Venus, unless the ‘Venus’ be a mortal; neither is it a continuous ‘Compleynt,’ being simply a linking together of three separate and distinct Balades.
It is clear to me that, when Chaucer added his Envoy, he made the difficulties of following the original ‘word by word’ and of preserving the original metre his excuse; and that what really troubled him was the difficulty of adapting the French, especially Balade I., so as to be acceptable to the ‘Princess’ who enjoined him to translate these Balades. In particular, he evidently aimed at giving them a sort of connection, so that one should follow the other naturally; which accounts for the changes in the first of them. It is significant, perhaps, that the allusion to ‘youth’ (F. jeunesce) in l. 70 is entirely dropped.
On the whole, I think we may still accept the theory that this poem was written at the request (practically, the command) of Isabel, duchess of York, the probable ‘Venus’ of the ‘Compleynt of Mars.’ Chaucer seems to have thrown the three Balades together, linking them so as to express a lady’s constancy in love, and choosing such language as he deemed would be most acceptable to the princess. He then ingeniously, and not without some humour, protests that any apparent alterations are due to his own dulness and the difficulties of translating ‘word for word,’ and of preserving the rimes.
In l. 31, the F. text shews us that we must read Pleyne, not Pleye (as in the MSS.). This was pointed out by Mr. Paget Toynbee.
XIX. The Compleint to his Purse.
Attributed to Chaucer by Shirley, in MS. Harl. 7333; by Caxton; by the scribes of MSS. F., P., and Ff.; and by early editors. I do not know on what grounds Speght removed Chaucer’s name, and substituted that of T. Occleve; there seems to be no authority for this change. I think it highly probable that the poem itself is older than the Envoy; see note to l. 17. In any case, the Envoy is almost certainly Chaucer’s latest extant composition.
Attributed to Chaucer in MSS. F. and Ha.; see further in the Notes. From the nature of the case, we cannot assign any probable date to this composition. Yet it was, perhaps, written after, rather than before, the Tale of Melibeus.
XXI. Against Women Unconstaunt.
For the genuineness of this Balade, we have chiefly the internal evidence to trust to; but this seems to me to be sufficiently strong. The Balade is perfect in construction, having but three rimes (-esse, -ace, -ene), and a refrain. The ‘mood’ of it strongly resembles that of Lak of Stedfastnesse; the lines run with perfect smoothness, and the rimes are all Chaucerian. It is difficult to suppose that Lydgate, or even Hoccleve, who was a better metrician, could have produced so good an imitation of Chaucer’s style. But we are not without strong external evidence; for the general idea of the poem, and what is more important, the whole of the refrain, are taken from Chaucer’s favourite author Machault (ed. Tarbé, p. 56); whose refrain is—‘En lieu de bleu, Damë, vous vestez vert.’ Again, the poem is only found in company with other poems by Chaucer. Such collocation frequently means nothing, but those who actually consult1 MSS. Ct. and Ha. will see how close is its association with the Chaucerian poems in those MSS. I have said that it occurs in MSS. F., Ct., and Ha. Now in MS. Ct. we find, on the back of fol. 188 and on fol. 189, just four poems in the same hand. These are (1) Gentilesse; (2) Lak of Stedfastnesse; (3) Truth; and (4) Against Women Unconstaunt. As three of these are admittedly genuine, there is evidence that the fourth is the same. We may also notice that, in this MS., the poems on Lak of Stedfastnesse and Against Women Unconstaunt are not far apart. On searching MS. Ha. (Harl. 7578), I again found three of these poems in company, viz. (1) Gentilesse; (2) Lak of Stedfastnesse; and (3) Against Women Unconstaunt; the last being, in my view, precisely in its right place. (This copy of the poem was unknown to me in 1887.)
XXII. An Amorous Complaint.
Whilst searching through the various MSS. containing Minor Poems by Chaucer in the British Museum, my attention was arrested by this piece, which, as far as I know, has never before been printed. It is in Shirley’s handwriting, but he does not claim it for Chaucer. However, the internal evidence seems to me irresistible; the melody is Chaucer’s, and his peculiar touches appear in it over and over again. There is, moreover, in the last stanza, a direct reference to the Parliament of Foules1 .
I cannot explain the oracular notice of time in the heading; even if we alter May to day, it contradicts l. 85, which mentions ‘seint Valentines day.’ The heading is—‘And next folowyng begynnith an amerowse compleynte made at wyndesore in the laste May tofore Nouembre’ (sic). The date is inexplicable2 ; but the mention of locality is interesting. Chaucer became a ‘valet of the king’s chamber’ in 1367, and must frequently have been at Windsor, where the institution of the Order of the Garter was annually celebrated on St. George’s Day (April 23). Some of the parallelisms in expression between the present poem and other passages in Chaucer’s Works are pointed out in the Notes.
This Complaint should be compared with the complaint uttered by Dorigen in the Cant. Tales, F. 1311-1325, which is little else than the same thing in a compressed form. There is also much resemblance to the ‘complaints’ in Troilus; see the references in the Notes.
Since first printing the text in 1888, I found that it is precisely the same poem as one extant in MSS. F. and B., with the title ‘Complaynt Damours.’ I had noticed the latter some time previously, and had made a note that it ought to be closely examined; but unfortunately I forgot to do so, or I should have seen at once that it had strong claims to being considered genuine. These claims are considerably strengthened by the fact of the appearance of the poem in these two Chaucerian MSS., the former of which contains no less than sixteen, and the latter seven of the Minor Poems, besides the Legend and the Hous of Fame.
In reprinting the text in the present volume, I take occasion to give all the more important results of a collation of the text with these MSS. In most places, their readings are inferior to those in the text; but in other places they suggest corrections.
In MS. F. the fourth stanza is mutilated; the latter half of lines 24-28 is missing.
In B., below the word Explicit, another and later hand has scrawled ‘be me Humfrey Flemyng.’ ‘Be me’ merely means—‘this signature is mine.’ It is a mere scribble, and does not necessarily relate to the poem at all.
The readings of F. and B. do not help us much; for the text in Harl., on the whole, is better.
It is not at all improbable that a better copy of this poem may yet be found.
XXIII. Balade of Compleynt.
This poem, which has not been printed before, as far as I am aware, occurs in Shirley’s MS. Addit. 16165, at fol. 256, back. It is merely headed ‘Balade of compleynte,’ without any note of its being Chaucer’s. But I had not read more than four lines of it before I at once recognised the well-known melodious flow which Chaucer’s imitators (except sometimes Hoccleve) so seldom succeed in reproducing. And when I had only finished reading the first stanza, I decided at once to copy it out, not doubting that it would fulfil all the usual tests of metre, rime, and language; which it certainly does. It is far more correct in wording than the preceding poem, and does not require that we should either omit or supply a single word. But in l. 20 the last word should surely be dere rather than here; and the last word in l. 11 is indistinct. I read it as reewe afterwards altered to newe; and newe makes very good sense. I may notice that Shirley’s n’s are very peculiar: the first upstroke is very long, commencing below the line; and this peculiarity renders the reading tolerably certain. Some lines resemble lines in no. VI., as is pointed out in the Notes. Altogether, it is a beautiful poem, and its recovery is a clear gain.
I regret that this Introduction has run to so great a length; but it was incumbent on me to shew reasons for the rejection or acceptance of the very large number of pieces which have hitherto been included in editions of Chaucer’s Works. I have now only to add that I have, of course, been greatly indebted to the works of others; so much so indeed that I can hardly particularise them. I must, however, mention very gratefully the names of Dr. Furnivall, Professor Ten Brink, Dr. Koch, Dr. Willert, Max Lange, Rambeau, and various contributors to the publications of the Chaucer Society; and though I have consulted for myself such books as Le Roman de la Rose, the Teseide, the Thebaid of Statius, the poems of Machault, and a great many more, and have inserted in the Notes a large number of references which I discovered, or re-discovered, for myself, I beg leave distinctly to disclaim any merit, not doubting that most of what I have said may very likely have been said by others, and said better. Want of leisure renders it impossible for me to give to others their due meed of recognition in many instances; for I have often found it less troublesome to consult original authorities for myself than to hunt up what others have said relative to the passage under consideration.
I have relegated Poems no. XXI., XXII., and XXIII. to an Appendix, because they are not expressly attributed to Chaucer in the MSS. Such evidence has its value, but it is possible to make too much of it; and I agree with Dr. Koch, that, despite the MSS., the genuineness of no XX. is doubtful; for the rime of compas with embrace is suspicious. It is constantly the case that poems, well known to be Chaucer’s, are not marked as his in the MS. copies; and we must really depend upon a prolonged and intelligent study of the internal evidence. This is why I admit poems nos. XXI-XXIII into the collection; and I hope it will be conceded that I am free from recklessness in this matter. Certainly my methods differ from those of John Stowe, and I believe them to be more worthy of respect.
[1 ]The Legend of Good Women is here meant: and ‘xxv.’ is certainly an error for ‘xix.’
[2 ]Printed separately in the present edition, in vol. iii.
[1 ]Of course I mean that dy-e is the Chaucerian form; the author of the Lamentation pronounced it differently, viz. as dy.
[2 ]See the excellent treatise by Dr. E. Köppel entitled ‘Laurents de Premierfait und John Lydgates Bearbeitungen von Boccaccios De Casibus Virorum Illustrium’; München, 1885.
[1 ]Not Ovid, but Statius; Lydgate makes a slip here; see note to IV. 245.
[1 ]In Lydgate’s Lyfe of St. Albon, ed. Hortsmann, l. 15, this line appears in the more melodious form—‘The golden trumpet of the House of Fame.’
[1 ]Hoccleve’s poem entitled ‘Moder of God’ is erroneously attributed to Chaucer in two Scottish copies (Arch. Seld. B 24, and Edinb. 18. 2. 8). But it occurs among 16 poems, all by Hoccleve, in a MS. in the collection of the late Sir Thos. Phillipps, as already noted in § 1 above. A few of these poems (not including the ‘Moder of God’) were printed from this MS. in the edition of some of ‘Occleve’s Poems’ by G. Mason, in 1796.
[1 ]Printed ‘Six couplets’; clearly a slip of the pen.
[2 ]They are printed in full below, on p. 46.
[1 ]i. e. the Parliament of Foules.
[2 ]La Belle Dame sans Merci, a poem translated from the French originally written by ‘Maister Aleyn,’ chief secretary to the King of France. Certainly not by Chaucer; for Alain Chartier, the author of the original French poem, was only about four years old when Chaucer died. Moreover, it is now known that the author of the English poem was Sir Richard Ros. See p. 35, note 2.
[3 ]All in Caxton’s edition of the Minor Poems, described above, p. 27.
[4 ]Both in the small quarto volume described above, p. 27.
[1 ]Speght added three more pieces, but they are also found in ed. 1550 and ed. 1542, at the end of the Table of Contents; see below, p. 45, nos. 66-8.
[1 ]Jack Upland is in prose, and in the form of a succession of questions directed against the friars.
[2 ]I have often made use of a handy edition with the following titlepage: ‘The Poetical Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, with an Essay on his Language and Versification and an Introductory Discourse, together with Notes and a Glossary. By Thomas Tyrwhitt. London, Edward Moxon, Dover Street, 1855.’ I cannot but think that this title-page may have misled others, as it for a long time misled myself. As a fact, Tyrwhitt never edited anything beyond the Canterbury Tales, though he has left us some useful notes upon the Minor Poems, and his Glossary covers the whole ground. The Minor Poems in this edition are merely reprinted from the black-letter editions.
[1 ]Probably copies slightly differ. The book described by me is a copy in my own possession, somewhat torn at the beginning, and imperfect at the end. But the three missing leaves only refer to Lydgate’s Storie of Thebes.
[2 ]I print in italics the names of the pieces which I reject as spurious. In the case of The Romaunt of the Rose, the first 1705 lines are genuine; but the rest, which is spurious, is more than three-fourths of the whole. See p. 1 above.
[3 ]I. e. the folios are misnumbered. Piece 8 begins with fol. ccxliiii, which is followed by ccxlvj (sic), ccxli (sic), ccxli (repeated), ccxlii, and ccxliii; which brings us to ‘ccxliiii’ over again.
[1 ]Marked Fol. cclxxvj by mistake.
[2 ]Nos. 28-30 are in no previous edition.
[1 ]Stowe did not observe that this had occurred already, in the midst of poem no. 33.
[1 ]Miscalled Fol. cccxxxix. Also, the next folio is called cccxlviij., after which follows cccxlix., and so on.
[2 ]In the Preface to Morris’s Chaucer, p. x, we are told that the editor took his copy of this poem from Thynne’s edition of 1532. This is an oversight; for it does not occur there; Stowe’s edition is meant.
[1 ]‘Thomas Occleve mentions it himself, as one of his own compositions, in a Dialogue which follows his Complaint, MS. Bodley 1504.’—Tyrwhitt.
[2 ]See Political, Religious, and Love Poems, ed. Furnivall, p. 52. Cf. Englische Studien, x. 206.
[3 ]I have found the reference. It is Shirley who says so, in a poetical ‘introduction’; see MS. Addit. 16165, fol. 3.
[4 ]It runs thus:—‘Quod loue, I shall tel thee, this lesson to learne, myne owne true seruaunte, the noble Philosophicall Poete in Englishe, which euermore hym busieth & trauaileth right sore, my name to encrease, wherefore all that willen me good, owe to doe him worship and reuerence both; truly his better ne his pere, in schole of my rules, coud I neuer finde: He, quod she, in a treatise that he made of my seruaunt Troilus, hath this matter touched, & at the full this question [of predestination] assoiled. Certainly his noble saiyngs can I not amend; in goodness of gentil manlich spech, without any maner of nicitie of starieres (sic) imaginacion, in wit and in good reason of sentence, he passeth al other makers’; ed. 1561. (Read storieres, story-writer’s.)
[1 ]Hoccleve appeals to St. Margaret, in his Letter of Cupid, st. 6 from the end. Lydgate wrote ‘the Lyfe of St. Margarete.’ I have a strong feeling that the poem is one of Lydgate’s. Lines 24-26 seem to be imitated from Chaucer’s Legend of Good Women, ll. 197-9.
[1 ]I leave this sentence as I wrote it in 1888; shortly afterwards, the attribution of no. 57 to Chaucer received confirmation from a note in the Phillipps MS. See p. 75.
[2 ]There is another copy of The Craft of Lovers in MS. Harl. 2251. It is there dated 1459.
[1 ]I.e. Joan of Navarre, who was married to Henry IV in 1403.
[2 ]A good French Virelai is one by Eustace Deschamps, ed. Tarbé, 1849; i. 25.
[3 ]See remarks on this poem in The New English, by T. L. Kington Oliphant, i. 402.
[1 ]It is much to be regretted that Prof. Morley, in his new edition of his English Writers, still clings to the notion of ‘the Court of Love’ being Chaucer’s. It is sufficient to say that, after 1385, Chaucer’s poems are of a far higher order, especially as regards correctness of idiom and rhythm. Our knowledge of the history of the English language has made some advance of late years, and it is no longer possible to ignore all the results of linguistic criticism.
[1 ]A great peculiarity of this poem is the astonishing length of the sentences. Many of them run to fifty lines or more. As to the MS., see Thynne’s Animad-versions, ed. Furnivall, 1875, p. 30. A second MS. is now in the British Museum (Addit. 10303), also written about 1550.
[2 ]The authoress had an eye for colour, and some knowledge, one would think, of heraldry. There is a tinsel-like glitter about this poem which gives it a flasby attractiveness, in striking contrast to the easy grace of Chaucer’s workmanship. In the same way, the authoress of ‘The Assembly of Ladies’ describes the colours of the dresses of the characters, and, like the authoress of ‘The Flower and the Leaf,’ quotes occasional scraps of French.
[1 ]Plesir may be meant, but Chaucer does not use it; he says plesaunce.
[1 ]It is so termed in a table of contents in MS. Trin. Coll. Cam. R. 3. 15, which (as noted on p. 45) contains all three of the pieces here numbered 66, 67, and 68.
[1 ]The copy of no. XXI. in MS. Fairfax 16 has not been printed. I made a transcript of it myself. There is another unprinted copy in MS. Harl. 7578. I also copied out nos. XII., XXII., XXIII.
[1 ]Called ‘Cm.’ in the footnotes to vol. iv.
[1 ]There are two copies in MS. P.; they may be called P 1 and P 2.
[2 ]I make but little use of the copies in the second group.
[1 ]Two copies; may be called T 1 and T 2.
[2 ]Two copies; F 1 and F 2. The copy in P. is unprinted.
[3 ]Two copies; P 1 and P 2.
[1 ]Also a Balade, beginning ‘Victorious kyng,’ printed in G. Mason’s edition of Occleve, 1796; as well as The Book of Cupid, which is another name for the Cuckoo and Nightingale.
[2 ]Unless they were composed, as Shirley says, by one Halsham, and adopted by Lydgate as subjects for new poems; see pp. 48, 57.
[1 ]i. e. in the ballad-measure, or 7-line stanzas.
[2 ]One page of this, in Shirley’s writing, has been reproduced in facsimile for the Chaucer Society.
[3 ]This page has been reproduced, in facsimile, for the Chaucer Society.
[1 ]It is also twice attributed to Chaucer in MS. P.
[2 ]I follow the account in Morley’s English Writers, 1867, ii. 204; the name is there given as de Guilevile; but M. Paul Meyer writes De Deguilleville.
[3 ]Morley says 1330; a note in the Camb. MS. Ff. 6, 30 says 1331.
[4 ]Edited by Mr. W. Aldis Wright for the Roxburghe Club in 1869; see p. 164 of that edition. And see a note in Warton’s Hist. Eng. Poetry, ed. Hazlitt, 1871, vol. iii. p. 67.
[1 ]See Furnivall’s Trial Forewords, pp. 13-15, and p. 100, for further information.
[2 ]The initial E stands for et. See next note.
[3 ]The initial C stands for cetera. It was usual to place &c. (= et cetera) at the end of the alphabet.
[1 ]Chaucer speaks of writing compleintes; Cant. Ta. 11260 (F. 948).
[2 ]Cf. ‘this eight yere’; Book of the Duchesse, 37.
[3 ]‘Philippa Chaucer was a lady of the bedchamber, and therefore married, in 1366’; N. and Q. 7 S. v. 289.
[1 ]But Ten Brink (Sprache und Verskunst, p. 174) dates it about 1370-1372.
[2 ]‘O ye Herines, nightes doughtren three’; Troilus, last stanza of the invocation in bk. iv.
[1 ]Most of the passages which he quotes are not extant in the English version of the Romaunt. Where we can institute a comparison between that version and the Book of the Duchess, the passages are differently worded. Cf. B. Duch. 420, with R. Rose, 1393.
[1 ]i. e. y-treted, treated.
[1 ]See l. 647. The royal tercel eagle is, then, Richard II; and the formel eagle is Queen Anne; the other two tercel eagles were her other two suitors. See Froissart, bk. ii. c. 86.
[2 ]Rather, 1382. Ch. could not have foretold a year’s delay.
[3 ]It is quite impossible that the poem can refer, as some say, to the marriage of John of Gaunt in 1359, or even to that of de Coucy in 1364; see Furnivall’s Trial Forewords, p. 70. It is plainly much later than the Book of the Duchess, as the internal evidence inconstestably shews.
[4 ]I leave the remarks upon this poem as I first wrote them in 1888. Very soon afterwards, Dr. Furnivall actually found the ascription of the poem to Chaucer in MS. Phillipps 9053. I think this proves that I know how to estimate internal evidence aright. MS. Phillips 9053 also completes the poem, by contributing an additional stanza, which, in MS. Harl. 78, has been torn away.
[3 ]hushed, silent.
[1 ]See Todd, Illustrations of Chaucer, p. 116; and see above, pp. 55, 56.
[2 ]The critics who brush aside such a statement as this should learn to look at MSS. for themselves. The make-up of this MS. shews that it is essentially a Chaucer-Lydgate MS.; and Merciless Beautee is not Lydgate’s. To weigh the evidence of a MS., it must be personally inspected by such as have had some experience.
[1 ]Middle-English roundels are very scarce. I know of one by Hoccleve, printed by Mason in 1796, and reprinted in Todd’s Illustrations, p. 372; and there is a poor one by Lydgate, in Halliwell’s edition of his Minor Poems, p. 10. Two more (one being by Lydgate) are given in Ritson, Anc. Songs, i. 128, 129.
[2 ]I do not think, as some have guessed, that ‘Tregentil Chaucer’ means ‘Tres gentil Chaucer.’ Those who think so had better look at the MS. I see no sense in it; nor do I know why tres should be spelt tre.
[1 ]A similar note was made in MS. Cotton, Otho. A. xviii., now destroyed. Todd printed the poem from this MS. in his Illustrations of Chaucer, p. 131; it belongs to the ‘first group.’
[2 ]high head.
[4 ]weighed down.
[1 ]The poem must have been written not many years before 1413, the date of the accession of Henry V. In 1405, the ages of the princes were 17, 16, 15, and 14 respectively. Shirley’s title to the poem was evidently written after 1415, as John was not created Duke of Bedford until that year.
[2 ]See Furnivall’s edition of Borde’s Introduction of Knowledge, E. E. T. S., 1870. At p. 31 of the Forewords, the editor says there is no evidence for attributing ‘Scoggins Iests’ to Borde.
[1 ]Froissart, bk. iv. c. 105 (Johnes’ translation).
[1 ]See Johnes’ translation of Froissart, 1839; ii. 612-7.
[1 ]It would be decent, on the part of such critics as do not examine the MSS., to speak of my opinions in a less contemptuous tone.
[1 ]Unless, which is more probable, the Parliament of Foules reproduces, nearly, two lines from the present poem.
[2 ]Perhaps ‘tofore’ means ‘for use in,’ or ‘to be presented in’; and ‘November’ was some special occasion.