Front Page Titles (by Subject) XIX.: THE COMPLEINT OF CHAUCER TO HIS EMPTY PURSE. - The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, vol. 1 (Romaunt of the Rose, Minor Poems)
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XIX.: THE COMPLEINT OF CHAUCER TO HIS EMPTY PURSE. - 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 COMPLEINT OF CHAUCER TO HIS EMPTY PURSE.
The MSS. are: F. (Fairfax 16); Harl (Harl. 7333); Ff. (Camb. Univ. Library, Ff. 1. 6): P. (Pepys 2006); Add. (Addit. 22139); also Cx. (Caxton’s edition); Th. (Thynne, 1532). I follow F. mainly.
Title.So in Cx. (but with Un-to for to); F. om. empty; P. La compleint de Chaucer a sa Bourse Voide.
[1. ]F. yow.
[2. ]F. Complayn; Harl. P. Compleyne.
[3. ]Harl. be; F. been.
[4. ]Add. That; P. But; rest For. P. Add. but ye; F. Harl. but yf ye; Ff. but yif ye; Cx. Th. ye now.
[5. ]Add. leyd; F. layde.
[7. ]F. Beeth; ageyne; mote.
[8. ]F. hyt; nyght.
[9. ]F. yow; sovne.
[10. ]F. lyke; bryght.
[11. ]Read That of yél-ownés-se.
[12. ]F. lyfe; hertys.
[14. ]F. ageyne; moote.
[15. ]P. Cx. purs; F. Add. purse. F. ben.
[17. ]F. Oute; helpe; thurgh.
[18. ]F. bene.
[19. ]Harl. P. Th. any; Add. eny; Cx. ony; F. is a.
[21. ]F. Bethe; ayen; moote. F. Lenvoy de Chaucer; Harl. P. Lenvoye; Cx. Thenuoye of Chaucer vnto the kynge.
[23. ]F. Whiche. F. lygne; Harl. Cx. Ff. P. lyne.
[24. ]F. Been; kynge; yow.
[25. ]F. alle myn harme; Ff. alle oure harmes; Harl. all oure harmous; P. Cx. alle harmes.
[4.]Koch remarks, that the Additional MS. 22139, which alone has That, is here superior to the rest; and he may be right. Still, the reading For is quite intelligible.
[8.]This day. This hints at impatience; the poet did not contemplate having long to wait. But we must take it in connexion with l. 17; see note to that line.
[10.]Colour; with reference to golden coins. So also in the Phisiciens Tale (C. T. 11971, or C 37), the golden colour of Virginia’s hair is expressed by—
[11.]Four MSS., as well as the printed copies, read That of yelownesse, &c.; and this may very well be right. If so, the scansion is:—That of yél|ownés|se hád|de név|er pere. MS. Harl. 2251 has That of yowre Ielownesse, but the yowre is merely copied in from l. 10.
[12.]Stere, rudder; see Man of Lawes Tale, B 448, 833.
[17.]Out of this toune. This seems to mean—‘help me to retire from London to some cheaper place.’ At any rate, toune seems to refer to some large town, where prices were high. From the tone of this line, and that of l. 8, I should conclude that the poem was written on some occasion of special temporary difficulty, irrespectively of general poverty; and that the Envoy was hastily added afterwards, without revision of the poem itself. (I find that Ten Brink says the same.) Compare Thackeray’s Carmen Lilliense.
[19.]‘That is, I am as bare of money as the tonsure of a friar is of hair’; Bell.
[22.]Brutes Albioun, the Albion of Brutus. Albion is the old name for England or Britain in the histories which follow Geoffrey of Monmouth and profess to give the ancient history of Britain before the coming of the Romans. See Layamon’s Brut, l. 1243; Higden’s Polychronicon, bk. i. c. 39; Fabyan’s Chronicle, ed. Ellis, pp. 1, 2, 7. According to the same accounts, Albion was first reigned over by Brutus, in English spelling Brute, a descendant of Æneas of Troy, who arrived in Albion (says Fabyan) in the eighteenth year of Eli, judge of Israel. Layamon’s poem is a translation from a poem by Wace, entitled Brut; and Wace borrowed from Geoffrey of Monmouth. See Brute (2) in the New E. Dict.
[23.]This line makes it certain that the king meant is Henry IV.; and indeed, the title conquerour in l. 21 proves the same thing sufficiently. ‘In Henry IV’s proclamation to the people of England he founds his title on conquest, hereditary right, and election; and from this inconsistent and absurd document Chaucer no doubt took his cue’; Bell.