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X.: FORTUNE. - 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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Balades de visage sanz peinture.
The spelling is conformed to that of the preceding poems; the alterations though numerous are slight; as y for i, au for aw, &c. The text mainly follows MS. I. (= Ii. 3. 21, Camb. Univ. Library). Other MSS. are A. (Ashmole 59); T. (Trin. Coll. Camb.); F. (Fairfax 16); B. (Bodley 638); H. (Harl. 2251).
[2. ]F. pouerte; rest poure (poore, pore, poeere).
[8, 16. ]I. fynaly; deffye.
[11. ]I. mochel; the rest muche, moche.
[13. ]I. fors; thi reddowr.
[17. ]I. stidfast chaumpyoun.
[18. ]I. myht; thi tormentowr.
[20. ]I. fownde thow.
[21. ]I. the deseyte; A. T. H. om. the.
[22. ]I. most.
[23. ]I. knew; rest knowe. I. ek.
[24. ]I. fynaly; the deffye.
[27. ]H. seystow; I. seysthow. I. (only) om. to.
[30. ]So I.; rest Thou shalt not stryue.
[31. ]I. woost thow; B. wostow; A. T. wostowe.
[36. ]I. derkyd; rest derke (derk). T. from hir; H. from ther; A. frome theire; F. B. fro; I. for.
[37. ]H. seestow; A. T. seestowe; I. partly erased.
[43. ]I. Wolthow; B. Woltow.
[46. ]I. most thow; H. thow must; the rest maystow, maisthow, maistow.
[49. ]I. dempne; F. B. H. dampne.
[50. ]I. maysthow; B. maistou; H. maystow.
[51. ]I. thanke to; F. thanke yt; B. thanke it; H. thank it nat: (Lansdowne and Pepys also have thank it).
[60. ]I. apresse; rest oppresse.
[61. ]I. A. or; rest and.
[62. ]I. welkne; A. B. H. welkin; F. welkene; T. sky.
[63. ]I. brutelnesse; T. brutilnesse; F. B. H. brotelnesse; A. brittelnesse. After l. 64, a new rubric is wrongly inserted, thus: I. Le pleintif; F. B. H. Le pleintif encontre Fortune; A. The Pleyntyff ageinst Fortune; T. Thaunswer of the Lover ayenst Fortune; see note.
[65. ]A. F. þexecucion; B. thexecucyon; I. excussyoun. I. maieste; rest magestee (mageste).
[71. ]I. intersse (sic); (Lansd. and Pepys intresse); T. F. B. interesse; A. H. encresse.
[73. ]I. gentilesses; the rest gentilesse.
[77. ]A. F. B. H. And; I. T. That. I. lest; rest list (liste). At end—B. Explicit.
[1.]The beginning somewhat resembles Boethius, bk. ii. met. 1, l. 5:—‘She, cruel Fortune, casteth adoun kinges that whylom weren y-drad; and she, deceivable, enhaunseth up the humble chere of him that is discomfited.’ Cf. Rom. Rose (E. version), ll. 5479-83.
[2.]The latter part of this line is badly given in the MSS. The readings are: F. now pouerte and now riche honour (much too long); I. now poeere and now honour; A. T. nowe poure and nowe honour; H. now poore and now honour. But the reading poure, poer, pore, i. e. poor, hardly serves, as a sb. is required. Pouerte seems to be the right word, but this requires us to omit the former now. Pouerte can be pronounced povért’; accented on the second syllable, and with the final e elided. For this pronunciation, see Prol. to Man of Lawes Tale, Group B, l. 99. Precisely because this pronunciation was not understood, the scribes did not know what to do. They inserted now before pouerte (which they thought was póverte); and then, as the line was too long, cut it down to poure, poore, to the detriment of the sense. I would therefore rather read—‘As wele or wo, poverte and now honour,’ with the pronunciation noted above.
[7.]In the Introduction to the Persones Tale (Group I, 248), we find: ‘wel may that man, that no good werke ne dooth, singe thilke newe Frenshe song, Iay tout perdu mon temps et mon labour.’ In like manner, in the present case, this line of ‘a new French song’ is governed by the verb singen in l. 6; cf. Sect. XXII. l. 24. The sense is—‘the lack of Fortune’s favour shall never (though I die) make me sing—“I have wholly lost my time and my labour.” ’ In other words, ‘I will not own myself defeated.’
[9.]With this stanza cf. Rom. de la Rose (E. version), 5551-2, 5671-78, 5579-81:—
[13.]No force of, it does not matter for; i. e. ‘thy rigour is of no consequence to him who has the mastery over himself.’ From Boethius, bk. ii. pr. 4, l. 98, which Chaucer translates: ‘Thanné, yif it so be that thou art mighty over thy-self, that is to seyn, by tranquillitee of thy sowle, than hast thou thing in thy power that thou noldest never lesen, ne Fortune ne may nat beneme it thee.’
[17.]Socrates is mentioned in Boeth. bk. i. pr. 3, l. 39, but ll. 17-20 are from Le Rom. de la Rose, ll. 5871-4:—
[20.]Chere, look. Savour, pleasantness, attraction; cf. Squi. Tale, F 404. All the MSS. have this reading; Caxton alters it to favour.
[25.]This Second Ballad gives us Fortune’s response to the defiance of the complainant. In Arch. Seld. B. 10, it is headed—‘Fortuna ad paupertatem.’ See Boethius, bk. ii. prose 2, where Philosophy says—‘Certes, I wolde pleten with thee a fewe thinges, usinge the wordes of Fortune.’ Cf. ‘nothing is wrecched but whan thou wenest it’; Boeth. ii. pr. 4, l. 79; and see Rom. Rose (E. version, 5467-5564).
[28.]‘Who possessest thy (true) self (as being quite) beyond my control.’ A fine sentiment. Out of, beyond, independent of.
[29.]Cf. ‘thou hast had grace as he that hath used of foreine goodes; thou hast no right to pleyne thee’; Boethius, bk. ii. pr. 2, l. 17.
[31.]Cf. ‘what eek yif my mutabilitee yiveth thee rightful cause of hope to han yit beter thinges?’ id. l. 58.
[32.]Thy beste frend; possibly John of Gaunt, who died in 1399; but see note to l. 73 below. There is a curious resemblance here to Le Rom. de la Rose, 8056-60:—
[34.]Cf. ‘For-why this like Fortune hath departed and uncovered to thee bothe the certein visages and eek the doutous visages of thy felawes . . . thow hast founden the moste precious kinde of richesses, that is to seyn, thy verray freendes’; Boeth. bk. ii. pr. 8, l. 25.
[35.]Vincent de Beauvais, Speculum Naturale, bk. 19, c. 62, headed De medicinis ex hyæna, cites the following from Hieronymus, Contra Iouinianum [lib. ii. Epist. Basileæ, 1524, ii. 74]:—‘Hyænæ fel oculorum claritatem restituit,’ the gall of a hyena restores the clearness of one’s eyes. So also Pliny, Nat. Hist. bk. xxviii. c. 8. This exactly explains the allusion. Compare the extract from Boethius already quoted above, at the top of p. 543.
[38.]‘Still thine anchor holds.’ From Boethius, bk. ii. pr. 4, l. 40:—whan that thyn ancres cleven faste, that neither wolen suffren the counfort of this tyme present, ne the hope of tyme cominge, to passen ne to faylen.’
[39.]‘Where Liberality carries the key of my riches.’
[43.]On, referring to, or, that is binding on.
[46.]Fortune says:—‘I torne the whirlinge wheel with the torning cercle’; Boethius, bk. ii. pr. 2, l. 37.
[47.]‘My teaching is better, in a higher degree, than your affliction is, in its degree, evil’; i. e. my teaching betters you more than your affliction makes you suffer.
[49.]In this third Ballad, the stanzas are distributed between the Complainant and Fortune, one being assigned to the former, and two to the latter. The former says:—‘I condemn thy teaching; it is (mere) adversity.’ M. S. Arch. Seld. B. 10 has the heading ‘Paupertas ad Fortunam.’
[50.]My frend, i. e. my true friend. In l. 51, thy frendes means ‘the friends I owed to thee,’ my false friends. From Boethius, bk. ii. pr. 8, l. 23:—‘this aspre and horrible Fortune hath discovered to thee the thoughtes of thy trewe freendes; . . . Whan she departed awey fro thee, she took awey hir freendes and lafte thee thyne freendes.’
[51.]I thanke hit thee, I owe thanks to thee for it. But very likely hit has been inserted to fill up, and the right reading is, probably, I thank-e thee; as Koch suggests.
[52.]On presse, in a throng, in company, all together.
[53.]‘Their niggardliness, in keeping their riches to themselves, foreshews that thou wilt attack their stronghold; just as an unnatural appetite precedes illness.’
[56.]Cf. Rom. de la Rose, 19179:—
[57.]Here Fortune replies. This stanza is nearly made up of extracts from Boethius, bk. ii. pr. 2, transposed and rearranged. For the sake of comparison, I give the nearest equivalents, transposing them to suit the order here adopted.
[65.]Above this stanza (ll. 65-72) all the MSS. insert a new heading, such as ‘Le pleintif,’ or ‘Le pleintif encountre Fortune,’ or ‘The pleyntyff ageinst Fortune,’ or ‘Paupertas ad Fortunam.’ But they are all wrong, for it is quite certain that this stanza belongs to Fortune. Otherwise, it makes no sense. Secondly, we know this by the original (in Boethius). And thirdly, Fortune cannot well have the ‘envoy’ unless she has the stanza preceding it. Dr. Morris, in his edition, rightly omits the heading; and so in Bell’s edition.
[66.]Compare:—‘For purviaunce is thilke divyne reson that is establisshed in the soverein prince of thinges; the whiche purviaunce disponeth alle thinges’; Boeth. bk. iv. pr. 6, l. 42.
[68.]Ye blinde bestes, addressed to men; evidently by Fortune, not by the Pleintif. Compare the words forth, beste, in the Balade on Truth, Sect. XIII. l. 18.
[71.]Here we have formal proof that the speaker is Fortune; for this is copied from Boethius, bk. ii. pr. 3, l. 60—‘natheles the laste day of a mannes lyf is a manere deeth to Fortune.’ Hence thy refers to man, and myn refers to Fortune; and the sense is—‘Thy last day (O man) is the end of my interest (in thee)’; or ‘dealings (with thee).’ The word interesse, though scarce, is right. It occurs in Lydgate’s Minor Poems, ed. Halliwell, p. 210; and in Spenser, F. Q. vii. 6. 33:—
And in Todd’s Johnson:—‘I thought, says his Majesty [K. Charles I.] I might happily have satisfied all interesses’; Lord Halifax’s Miscell. p. 144. The sb. also occurs as Ital. interesse; thus Florio’s Ital. Dict. (1598) has:—‘Interesse, Interesso, the interest or profite of money for lone. Also, what toucheth or concerneth a mans state or reputation.’ And Minsheu’s Spanish Dict. (1623) has:—‘Interes, or Interesse, interest, profite, auaile.’ The E. vb. to interess was once common, and occurs in K. Lear, i. 1. 87 (unless Dr. Schmidt is right in condemning the reading of that line).
[73.]Princes. Who these princes were, it is hard to say; according to l. 76 (found in MS. I. only), there were three of them. If the reference is to the Dukes of Lancaster, York, and Gloucester, then the ‘beste frend’ must be the king himself. Cf. l. 33.
[75, 76.]‘And I (Fortune) will requite you for your trouble (undertaken) at my request, whether there be three of you, or two of you (that heed my words).’ Line 76 occurs in MS. I. only, yet it is difficult to reject it, as it is not a likely sort of line to be thrust in, unless this were done, in revision, by the author himself. Moreover, we should expect the Envoy to form a stanza with the usual seven lines, so common in Chaucer, though the rime-arrangement differs.
[77.]‘And, unless it pleases you to relieve him of his pain (yourselves), pray his best friend, for the honour of his nobility, that he may attain to some better estate.’