Front Page Titles (by Subject) PROLOGUE. - The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, vol. 3 (House of Fame, Legend of Good Women, Treatise on Astrolabe, Sources of Canterbury Tales)
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PROLOGUE. - Geoffrey Chaucer, The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, vol. 3 (House of Fame, Legend of Good Women, Treatise on Astrolabe, Sources of Canterbury Tales) 
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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LITELL Lowis my sone, I have perceived wel by certeyne evidences thyn abilite to lerne sciencez touchinge noumbres and proporciouns; and as wel considere I thy bisy preyere in special to lerne the Tretis of the Astrolabie. Than, for as mechel as a philosofre seith, ‘he wrappeth him in his frend, that condescendeth5 to the rightful preyers of his frend,’ ther-for have I geven thee a suffisaunt Astrolabie as for oure orizonte, compowned after the latitude of Oxenford; up-on which, by mediacion of this litel tretis, I purpose to teche thee a certein nombre of conclusions apertening to the same instrument. I seye a certein of conclusiouns,10 for three causes. The furste cause is this: truste wel that alle the conclusiouns that han ben founde, or elles possibly mighten be founde in so noble an instrument as an Astrolabie, ben un-knowe perfitly to any mortal man in this regioun, as I suppose. A-nother cause is this; that sothly, in any tretis of the Astrolabie that I have15 seyn, there ben some conclusions that wole nat in alle thinges performen hir bihestes; and some of hem ben to harde to thy tendre age of ten yeer to conseyve. This tretis, divided in fyve parties, wole I shewe thee under ful lighte rewles and naked20 wordes in English; for Latin ne canstow yit but smal, my lyte sone. But natheles, suffyse to thee thise trewe conclusiouns in English, as wel as suffyseth to thise noble clerkes Grekes thise same conclusiouns in Greek, and to Arabiens in Arabik, and to Iewes in Ebrew, and to the Latin folk in Latin; whiche Latin folk han hem25 furst out of othre diverse langages, and writen in hir owne tonge, that is to sein, in Latin. And god wot, that in alle thise langages, and in many mo, han thise conclusiouns ben suffisantly lerned and taught, and yit by diverse rewles, right as diverse pathes leden diverse folk the righte wey to Rome. Now wol I prey meekly30 every discret persone that redeth or hereth this litel tretis, to have my rewde endyting for excused, and my superfluite of wordes, for two causes. The firste cause is, for that curious endyting and hard [ ] sentence is ful hevy atones for swich a child to lerne. And the seconde cause is this, that sothly me semeth betre to wryten un-to35 a child twyes a good sentence, than he for-gete it ones. And Lowis, yif so be that I shewe thee in my lighte English as trewe conclusiouns touching this matere, and naught only as trewe but as many and as subtil conclusiouns as ben shewed in Latin in any commune tretis of the Astrolabie, con me the more thank; and40 preye god save the king, that is lord of this langage, and alle that him feyth bereth and obeyeth, everech in his degree, the more and the lasse. But considere wel, that I ne usurpe nat to have founde this werk of my labour or of myn engin. I nam but a lewd compilatour of the labour of olde Astrologiens, and have hit translated45 in myn English only for thy doctrine; and with this swerd shal I sleen envye.
I. The firste partie of this tretis shal reherse the figures and the membres of thyn Astrolabie, bi-cause that thou shalt han the grettre knowing of thyn owne instrument.
II. The second partie shal teche thee werken the verrey50 practik of the forseide conclusiouns, as ferforth and as narwe as may be shewed in so smal an instrument portatif aboute. For wel wot every astrologien that smalest fraccions ne wol nat ben shewed in so smal an instrument, as in subtil tables calculed for a cause.55
III. The thridde partie shal contienen diverse tables of longitudes and latitudes of sterres fixe for the Astrolabie, and tables of declinacions of the sonne, and tables of longitudes of citeez and of townes; and as wel for the governance of a clokke as for to finde the altitude meridian; and many another60 notable conclusioun, after the kalendres of the reverent clerkes, frere I. Somer and frere N. Lenne.[ ]
IV. The ferthe partie shal ben a theorik to declare the moevinge of the celestial bodies with the causes. The whiche ferthe partie in special shal shewen a table of the verray65 moeving of the mone from houre to houre, every day and in every signe, after thyn almenak; upon which table ther folwith a canon, suffisant to teche as wel the maner of the wyrking of that same conclusioun, as to knowe in oure orizonte with which degree of the zodiac that the mone ariseth in any latitude;70 and the arising of any planete after his latitude fro the ecliptik lyne.
V. The fifte partie shal ben an introductorie after the statutz of oure doctours, in which thou maist lerne a gret part of the general rewles of theorik in astrologie. In which fifte partie75 shaltow finde tables of equacions of houses aftur the latitude of Oxenford; and tables of dignetes of planetes, and other noteful thinges, yif god wol vouche-sauf and his modur the mayde, mo than I be-hete, &c.
Little Lewis my son, I perceive that thou wouldst learn the Conclusions of the AStrolabe; wherefore I have given thee an instrument constructed for the latitude of Oxford, and purpose to teach thee some of these conclusions. I say some, for three reasons; (1) because some of them are unknown in this land; (2) because some are uncertain; or else (3) are too hard. This treatise, divided into five parts, I write for thee in English, just as Greeks, Arabians, Jews, and Romans were accustomed to write such things in their own tongue I pray all to excuse my shortcomings; and thou, Lewis, shouldst thank me if I teach thee as much in English as most common treatises can do in Latin. I have done no more than compile from old writers on the subject, and I have translated it into English solely for thine instruction; and with this sword shall I slay envy.
The first part gives a description of the instrument itself.
The second teaches the practical working of it.
The third shall contain tables of latitudes and longitudes of fixed stars, declinations of the sun, and the longitudes of certain towns.
The fourth shall shew the motions of the heavenly bodies, and especially of the moon.
The fifth shall teach a great part of the general rules of astronomical theory.
[Prologue. l. 26.]thise B; þese C; miswritten this A; see above, ll. 21, 22.
[32.]curious BC; miswritten curios A.
[Prologue, l. 1.]Lowis was at this time (1391) ten years old (see l. 18); he was therefore born in 1381, whence it is possible that his mother was the Cecilia de Chaumpaigne who, on May 1, 1380, released the poet from all liability de raptu meo. This is, of course, a mere conjecture. Probably Lowis died young, as nothing more is known concerning him.
[5.]philosofre; possibly Cicero. ‘Haec igitur prima lex amicitiae sanciatur, ut . . amicorum causâ honesta faciamus’; Lælius, cap. xiii.
[7.]suffisaunt, sufficiently good. In the best instruments, the Almicanteras, or circles of altitude, were drawn at distances of one degree only; in less-carefully made instruments, they were drawn at distances of two degrees. The one given to his son by Chaucer was one of the latter; see Part I, sect. 18, l. 8.
[10.]a certein, i. e. a certain number; but the word nombre need not be repeated; cf. a certein holes, Pt. I. sect. 13, l. 2, and see the very expression in the Milleres Tale, l. 7 (A 3193).
[21.]suffyse, let them suffice.
[32.]Repeated from Ho. Fame, 861-2, q. v.
[62.]‘Nicolaus de Lynna, i. e. of Lynn, in Norfolk, was a noted astrologer in the reign of Edward III., and was himself a writer of a treatise on the Astrolabe. See Bale—who mentions “Joannes Sombe” as the collaborateur of Nicolaus—“Istos ob eruditionem multiplicem, non vulgaribus in suo Astrolabio celebrat laudibus Galfridus Chaucer poeta lepidissimus;” Bale (edit. 1548), p. 152.’—Note by Mr. Brae, p. 21 of his edition of the Astrolabe.