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INTRODUCTION - Geoffrey Chaucer, The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, vol. 7 (Supplement: Chaucerian and Other Pieces) 
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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§ 1.The following pieces are selected, as being the most important, from among the very numerous ones which have been appended to Chaucer’s works in various editions.
I use the word ‘appended’ advisedly. It is not true that these works were all attributed to Chaucer in the black-letter editions. The Praise of Peace was marked as Gower’s in Thynne’s first edition of 1532. Another piece in that edition is attributed to Scogan. The Letter of Cupid is expressly dated 1402, though Chaucer died in 1400. The Flower of Curtesye contains the words ‘Chaucer is dede’; and The Testament of Cresseid contains a remark which, in modern English, would run thus—‘Who knows if all that Chaucer wrote is true?’
Those who, through ignorance or negligence, regard Thynne’s edition of Chaucer as containing ‘Works attributed to Chaucer’ make a great mistake; and even if the mistake be excused on the ground that it has been very generally and very frequently made, this does not lessen its magnitude. The title of Thynne’s book is very instructive, and really runs thus:—‘The Workes of Geffray Chaucer newly printed, with dyuers workes which were neuer in print before, &c.’ This is strictly and literally true; for it contains such works of Chaucer’s as had previously been printed by Caxton, Wynkyn de Worde, and Julian Notary (see vol. i. p. 28), together with ‘dyuers workes [of various authors] which were neuer in print before.’ Which is the simple solution of the whole matter, as far as this edition is concerned. The same remarks apply to the second edition in 1542, and the third, printed about 1550. But Stowe, in 1561, altered the title so as to give it a new meaning. The title-page of his edition runs thus:—‘The Woorkes of Geffrey Chaucer, newly printed with diuers Addicions which were neuer in printe before.’ Here the authorship of Chaucer was, for the first time, practically claimed for the whole of Thynne’s volume. At the same time, Stowe did not really mean what he seems to say, for it was he who first added the words—‘made by Ihon lidgate’—to the title of ‘The Flower of Curtesie,’ and who first assigned a title (ascribing the poem to dan Ihon lidgat) to the poem beginning ‘Consider wel’; see no. 40 (vol. i. p. 33).
§ 2. It is clear that Thynne’s intention was to print a collection of poems, including all he could find of Chaucer and anything else of a similar character that he could lay his hands on1 . In other words, the collection was, from the beginning, a collection of the Works of Chaucer and other writers; and this fact was in no way modified by the adoption by Stowe and Speght of misleading titles that actually assigned to Chaucer all the poems in the volume! See further, as to this subject, in the discussion of The Court of Love below.
The number of pieces appended, at various times, to Chaucer’s Works are so numerous that I have been obliged to restrict myself to giving a selection of them only.
Of the non-Chaucerian pieces printed by Thynne in 1532, I have included all but three. The rejected pieces are those numbered 18, 21, and 22 in the list given at p. 32 of vol. i. They are all poor and uninteresting, but I add a few words of description.
18.A Praise of Women. Noticed in vol. i. p. 37. Though decisively rejected by Tyrwhitt, and excluded from Moxon’s reprint, it was revived (for no good reason) by Bell, and consequently appeared in the Aldine edition, which was founded on Bell’s. It enumerates the merits of womankind, and condemns the slanders of men concerning them. We ought to worship all women out of reverence for the Queen of heaven, and we shall do well to pray to Our Lady to bring us to the heaven in which she and all good women will be found. Thynne is not the sole authority for this poem, as it occurs also (in a Scottish dress) in the Bannatyne MS., fol. 275. The whole of this MS. (written in 1568) was printed for the Hunterian Club in 1873–9; see p. 799 of that edition.
21.The Lamentation of Mary Magdalen. Noticed in vol. i. p. 37. This lugubrious piece was probably the wail of a nun, who had no book but a Vulgate version of the Bible, from which all her quotations are taken. It bears no resemblance to any work by Chaucer, nor to any of the pieces in the present volume. It consists of 102 seven-line stanzas. The metre resembles Lydgate’s, but the final -e is hardly ever used. Bell’s text is not taken from Thynne, but from some later and inferior reprint of it. For this poem, Thynne’s first edition is the sole authority.
22.The Remedy of Love. Noticed in vol. i. p. 38. It appears that the ‘remedy of love’ is to be found in a consideration of the wicked ways of women. Twelve whole stanzas are taken up with a metrical translation of one of the chapters in the book of Proverbs. The author refers us to ‘the fifth chapter,’ but he is wrong. He means chapter vii, verses 6–27. He also quotes from Ecclesiasticus, ix. 9, and xxv. 25.
Nos. 28, 29, 30 (vol. i. p. 32) are not found in Thynne, but were first printed by Stowe. I give them below, at p. 297. The first two stanzas are Lydgate’s; and probably the third is his also. It is no great matter.
No. 41 (vol. i. p. 33) was also first printed by Stowe. To save words, I have printed it below, at p. 450, from the original MS.
§ 3. I now consider the non-Chaucerian pieces in Part II. of Stowe’s Edition (see vol. i. p. 33). Of these, nos. 45, 50, 56, and 59 are here reprinted.
Nos. 46, 47, 48, 49, 51, 52, 53, 54, and 55 were all taken by Stowe from MS. Trin. R. 3. 19. Perhaps they are sufficiently noticed in vol. i. p. 41, as they present few points of interest. However, I enumerate them, adding a few remarks.
No. 46. The Craft of Lovers. In 23 seven-line stanzas; 161 lines. Besides the copy in the Trin. MS., there are copies (almost duplicates) in MSS. Addit. 34360, fol. 73, back (p. 142), and Harl. 2251, fol. 53 (now called 52). Dated 1448 in the Trin. MS., but 1459 in the other two. The first line ought to run:—‘To moralise, who list these ballets sewe’; but it is clear that some one added the words ‘A similitude’ in the margin, and that this remark was afterwards incorporated in the text. Hence the first line, in the latter MSS., stands:—‘To moralise a similitude who list these balettis sewe’; which is more than enough for a line of five accents. After two introductory stanzas, the poem becomes a dialogue, in alternate stanzas, between a wooer, named Cupido, and a lass, named Diana1 ; the result of which is successful. This may be compared with La Belle Dame sans Merci, and with the Nut-brown Maid. The twenty-third stanza forms the author’s Conclusio, which is followed by an Envoy in the Addit. MS. and in the Harl. MS. only. The same MSS. seem to superadd two more stanzas; but they really belong to another piece.
No. 47. Taken by Stowe from MS. Trin. R. 3. 19, fol. 156, back. A Balade. In 4 seven-line stanzas; 28 lines. Begins—‘Of their nature they greatly them delite’; i. e. Women are by nature hypocrites; they like kissing live images rather than shrines. So I advise young men to take warning: ‘Beware alwaye, the blind eateth many [a] flye’; a line which is quoted from Lydgate’s ballad printed at p. 295. The author then prays God to keep the fly out of his dish; and ends by congratulating himself on being anonymous, because women would else blame him.
No. 48. The Ten Commandments of Love; from Trin. MS., fol. 109. Also in MS. Fairfax 16. Begins:—‘Certes, ferre extendeth yet my reason.’ In 14 stanzas of seven-lines; the last two form the Envoy. After two introductory stanzas, the author gives the ladies their ten commandments. They are, it appears, to exhibit Faith, Entencion, Discrecion, Patience, Secretnesse, Prudence, Perseverance, Pity, Measure [Moderation], and Mercy. In the Envoy, the author says, truly enough, that he is devoid of cunning, experience, manner of enditing, reason, and eloquence; and that he is ‘a man unknown.’
No. 49. The Nine Ladies Worthy. In 9 seven-line stanzas, one stanza for each lady. Begins: ‘Profulgent in preciousnes, O Sinope the quene.’ Only remarkable for the curious selection made. The Nine Ladies are: (1) Sinope, daughter of Marsepia, queen of the Amazons; see Orosius, Hist. i. 10; (2) Hippolyta, the Amazon, wife of Theseus; (3) Deipyle, daughter of Adrastus, wife of Tydeus; (4) Teuta, queen of the Illyrians; see note to C. T., F 1453 (vol. v. p. 398); (5) Penthesilea the Amazon, slain by Achilles before Troy; (6) queen Tomyris, who slew Cyrus in battle, bc 529; (7) Lampeto the Amazon, sister of Marsepia, and aunt of Sinope; (8) Semiramis of Babylon; (9) Menalippe or Melanippe, sister of Antiope, queen of the Amazons, taken captive by Hercules, according to Justinus, ii. 4. 23. Most of these queens are mentioned by Orosius, i. 10, ii. 1, ii. 4; see also Higden’s Polychronicon, bk. ii. chapters 9, 21, 24, and bk. iii. c. 7. From the Trin. MS., fol. 113, back.
[No. 50. Virelai. Printed below, at p. 448.]
No. 51. A Ballade. Begins:—‘In the season of Feuerere when it was full colde.’ In 7 seven-line stanzas. In praise of the daisy. Very poor. From the Trin. MS., fol. 160.
No. 52. A Ballade. Begins—‘O Mercifull and o merciable.’ In 12 seven-line stanzas. The Trin. MS. has 13 stanzas; but Stowe omitted the tenth, because it coincides with st. 19 of the Craft of Lovers. It is made up of scraps from other poems. Stanzas 1–4 form part of a poem on the fall of man, from Lydgate’s Court of Sapience (see vol. i. p. 57). In st. 8 occurs the assonance of hote (hot) and stroke; and in st. 9, that of cureth and renueth. From the Trin. MS., fol. 161.
No. 53. The Judgement of Paris. In 4 seven-line stanzas; the first is allotted to Pallas, who tells Paris to take the apple, and give it to the fairest of the three goddesses. After this, he is addressed in succession by Juno, Venus, and Minerva (as she is now called). Then the poem ends. Trin. MS., fol. 161, back.
No. 54. A Balade pleasaunte. Begins—‘I haue a Ladie where so she bee.’ In 7 seven-line stanzas. Meant to be facetious; e. g. ‘Her skin is smothe as any oxes tong.’ The author says that when he was fifteen years old, he saw the wedding of queen Jane; and that was so long ago that there cannot be many such alive. As Joan of Navarre was married to Henry IV in 1403, he was born in 1388, and would have been sixty-two in 1450. It is an imitation of Lydgate’s poem entitled A Satirical Description of his Lady; see Minor Poems, ed. Halliwell, p. 199. Trin. MS., fol. 205.
No. 55. Another Balade. Begins—‘O mossie Quince, hangyng by your stalke.’ In 4 seven-line stanzas, of which Stowe omits the second. A scurrilous performance. Trin. MS., fol. 205, back.
[No. 56. A Ballad by Lydgate; printed below, at p. 295.]
No. 58 is a Balade in 9 seven-line stanzas, of no merit, on the theme of the impossibility of restoring a woman’s chastity.
No. 59. The Court of Love. Printed below, at p. 409.
No. 60 is a genuine poem; and no. 61 is Lydgate’s Story of Thebes. And here Stowe’s performance ceases.
§ 4. The subsequent additions made by Speght are discussed in vol. i. pp. 43–46. Of these, The Flower and the Leaf, Jack Upland, and Hoccleve’s poem to Henry V, are here reprinted; and Chaucer’s ABC is genuine. He also reprinted the Sayings at p. 450. The pieces not reprinted here are Chaucer’s Dream and Eight Goodly Questions.
Chaucer’s Dream is a false title, assigned to it by Speght; its proper name is The Isle of Ladies. Begins—‘Whan Flora, the quene of pleasaunce.’ The MS. at Longleat is said to have been written about 1550. A second MS. has been acquired by the British Museum, named MS. Addit. 10303; this is also in a hand of the sixteenth century, and presents frequent variations in the text. It is very accessible, in the texts by Moxon, Bell, and Morris; but how Tyrwhitt ever came to dream that it could be genuine, must remain a mystery. I originally hoped to include this poem in the present selection, but its inordinate length compelled me to abandon my intention. In a prologue of seventy lines, the author truthfully states, at l. 60, that he is ‘a slepy1 writer.’ There are many assonances, such as undertakes, scapes (337); named, attained (597); tender, remember (1115, 1415); rome, towne (1567). Note also such rimes as destroied, conclude (735); queen, kneen, pl. of knee (1779); nine, greene (1861); vertuous, use (1889). Some rimes exhibit the Northern dialect; as paines, straines, pr. s., 909; wawe, overthrawe, pp., 1153; servand, livand, pres. pt., 1629; greene, eene (pl. of e, eye), 1719; hand, avisand, pres. pt., 1883; &c. Yet the writer is not particular; if he wants a rime to wroth, he uses the Southern form goth, 785; but if he wants a rime to rose, he uses the Northern form gose (goes), 1287, 1523. But before any critic can associate this poem with Chaucer, he has first to prove that it was written before 1450. Moreover, it belongs to the cycle of metrical romances, being connected (as Tyrwhitt says) with the Eliduc of Marie de France; and, perhaps, with her Lanval.
To the Isle of Ladies Speght appended two other poems, of which the former contains a single stanza of 6 lines, and the latter is a ballad in 3 seven-line tanzas.
No. 66. Eight Goodly Questions; in Bell’s Chaucer, iv. 421. In 9 seven-line stanzas. First printed in 1542. There are at least two manuscript copies; one in the Trinity MS., marked R. 3. 15; and another in the Bannatyne MS., printed at p. 123 of the print of the Bannatyne MS., issued by the Hunterian Club in 1873. In l. 19, the latter MS. corrects tree to coffour, the Scottish form of cofre. It is merely expanded from the first seven lines of a poem by Ausonius, printed in Walker’s Corpus Poetarum Latinorum, with the title Eorundem Septem Sapientum Sententiae. This English version is quite in Lydgate’s style.
Editions and MSS. consulted.
I have repeatedly explained that there were but four black-letter editions of Collected Works before Speght’s; and these I call Thynne’s first edition (1532), Thynne’s second edition (1542), the undated edition (about 1550, which I call 1550 for brevity), and Stowe’s edition (1561) respectively. I shall denote these editions below by the symbols ‘Th.,’ ed. 1542, ed. 1550, and ‘S.’ respectively. Of these editions, the first is the best; the second is derived from the first; the third is derived from the second; and the fourth from the third1 . In every case it is useless to consult a later edition when an earlier one can be found.
The following is the list of the pieces which depend on the editions only, or for which the editions have been collated. I always cite the earliest; that the later ones also contain the piece in question must, once for all, be understood.
Caxton.—XXVIII. No. VII. was also collated with a print by Caxton.
Wynkyn de Worde.—XXIII.
Wynkyn de Worde.—VIII.
Chepman and Miller (1508).—VIII.
Th.—I. IX. XI. XXII. Also collated for IV. V. VII. VIII. X. XII. XVI. XVII. XVIII. XIX. XXI. XXIII.
Thynne had access to excellent MSS., and is always worth consulting.
Ed. 1542.—II. XXVIII. Collated for VI.
An early printed edition of Jack Upland.—III.
S. (1561).—XV. Collated for XIII. XIV. XXIV. XXV. XXIX.
A printed edition of the Testament of Cresseid (1593).—XVII.
Speght (1598).—XX. Collated for III.
The following twenty MSS. have been collated or consulted.
Trentham MS.—IV. (See Introduction.)
Fairfax 16.—V. VIII. XIII. XVI. XVIII. XIX. (See vol. i. p. 51.)
Bodley 638.—V. VIII. XVIII. (See vol. i. p. 53.)
Tanner 346.—V. VIII. XVIII. XIX. (See vol. i. p. 54.)
Ashmole 59.—VII. X. XIII. (See vol. i. p. 53.)
Arch. Selden B. 24—V. VIII. XVIII. XXVI. XXVII. (See vol. i. p. 54.)
Digby 181.—V. VIII. (See vol. i. p. 54.)
Camb. Univ. Lib. Ff. 1. 6.—V. XII. XVI. XVIII. (See vol. i. p. 55.)
Pepys 2006.—VIII. (See vol. i. p. 55.)
Trin. Coll. R. 3. 19.—XIV. XVI. XXI. XXIV. XXV. XXIX. (See vol. i. p. 56.)
Trin. Coll. R. 3. 20.—V. (One of Shirley’s MSS.)
Trin. Coll. O. 9. 38.—XIV.
Addit. 16165, B. M.—XIII. (See vol. i. p. 56.)
Addit. 34360, B. M.—XXI.
Harl. 372, B. M.—XVI. (See vol. i. p. 58.)
Harl. 2251, B. M.—VII. XII. XIV. (See vol. i. p. 57.)
Harl. 7578, B. M.—XIII. (See vol. i. p. 58.)
Sloane 1212, B. M.—X. (A fair copy.)
Phillipps 8151.—VI. (See Hoccleve’s Poems, ed. Furnivall, p. 1.)
Ashburnham 133.—V. (See the same, p. xxvii.)
§ 6. Conversely, I here give the authorities from which each piece is derived. For further comments on some of them, see the separate introductions to each piece below.
I.The Testament of Love (prose).—Th. (Thynne, 1532).
II.The Plowmans Tale (1380 lines).—Th. (Thynne, 1542).
III.Jack Upland (prose).—Early edition, Caius College library; Speght (1598).
IV.Praise of Peace (385 lines).—Th. (1532); Trentham MS.
V.Letter of Cupid (476 lines).—Th. (1532); Fairfax, Bodley, Tanner, Selden, Ashburnham, Digby MSS.; Trin. Coll. R. 3. 20; Camb. Ff. 1. 6; also in the Bannatyne MS.
VI.To the King’s Grace (64).—Th. (1542); Phillipps 8151.
VII.A Moral Balade (189).—Th. (1532); Caxton; Ashmole 59, Harl. 2251. (I also find a reference to Harl. 367, fol. 85, back.)
VIII.Complaint of the Black Knight (681).—Th. (1532); Fairfax, Bodley, Tanner, Digby, Selden, Pepys; Addit. 16165. Also printed, separately, by Wynkyn de Worde (n. d.); and at Edinburgh, by Chepman and Miller, in 1508.
IX.The Flour of Curtesye (270).—Th. (1532).
X.In Commendation of our Lady (140).—Th.; Ashmole 59; Sloane 1212.
XI.To my Soverain Lady (112).—Th.
XII.Ballad of Good Counsel (133).—Th.; Camb. Ff. 1. 6; Harl. 2251.
XIII.Beware of Doubleness (104).—Stowe (1561); Fairfax 16, Ashmole 59, Harl. 7578, Addit. 16165.
XIV.A Balade: Warning Men (49).—Stowe (1561); Harl. 2251, fol. 149, back; Trin. R. 3. 19; Trin. O. 9. 38.
XV.Three Sayings (21).—Stowe (1561).
XVI.La Belle Dame sans Mercy (856).—Th.; Fairfax, Harl. 372; Camb. Ff. 1. 6; Trin. R. 3. 19, fol. 98.
XVII.Testament of Cresseid (616).—Th.; Edinburgh edition (1593).
XVIII.The Cuckoo and the Nightingale (290).—Th.; Fairfax, Bodley, Tanner, Selden; Camb. Ff. 1. 6.
XIX.Envoy to Alison (27).—Th.; Fairfax, Tanner.
XX.The Flower and the Leaf (595).—Speght (1598).
XXI.The Assembly of Ladies (756).—Th.; Addit. 34360; Trin. R. 3. 19.
XXII.A goodly Balade (71).—Th.
XXIII.Go forth, King (14).—Wynkyn de Worde; Th.
XXIV.The Court of Love (1442).—Stowe (1561); Trin. R. 3. 19.
XXV.Virelai (20).—Stowe (1561); Trin. R. 3. 19.
XXVI.Prosperity (8); XXVII. Loyalty (7).—Selden MS.
XXVIII.Sayings (14).—Caxton; reprinted, Th. (1542).
XXIX.In Praise of Chaucer (7).—Stowe (1561); Trin. R. 3. 19.
I. The Testament of Love; by Thomas Usk.
Of this piece no MS. copy has been discovered. The only authority is Thynne’s edition of 1532, whence all later editions have been copied more or less incorrectly. The reprints will be found to grow steadily worse, so that the first edition is the only one worth consulting.
The present edition is printed from a transcript of Thynne (1532), made by myself; the proof-sheets being carefully read with the original. In making the transcript, I have altered the symbol u to v, when used as a consonant; and (in the few places where it occurs) the consonantal i to j. I have also substituted i for y when the vowel is short, chiefly in the case of the suffix -yng or -ynge, here printed -ing or -inge. In nearly all other cases, the original spellings are given in the footnotes. Thynne’s chief errors of printing occur in places where he has persistently altered the spelling of the MS. to suit the spelling in fashion in the days of Henry VIII. His chief alterations are as follows. He prints ea for open ee, written ee or e at the beginning of the fifteenth century; thus, he has ease for ese, and please for plese. He most perversely adds a useless final e to the words howe, nowe, and some others; and he commits the anachronism of printing father, mother, together, wether, gather, in place of fader, moder, togeder, weder, gader; whereas the termination in these words invariably appears as -der till shortly before 1500. Further, he prints catche for cacche, perfection for perfeccion, and the like; and in several other ways has much impaired the spelling of his original. Many of these things I have attempted to set right; and the scholar who compares the text with the footnotes will easily see why each alteration has been made, if he happens to be at all conversant with MSS. written in the fourteenth century.
I believe that this piece is almost unparalleled as regards the shameful corruption of its text. It cannot be supposed that Thynne or any one else ever read it over with the view of seeing whether the result presented any sense. Originally written in an obscure style, every form of carelessness seems to have been employed in order to render it more obscure than before. In a great number of places, it is easy to restore the sense by the insertion of such necessary words as of, or but, or by. In other places, non-existent words can be replaced by real ones; or some correction can be made that is more or less obvious. I have marked all inserted words by placing them within square brackets, as, e. g., am in l. 46 on p. 6. Corrections of readings are marked by the use of a dagger (†); thus ‘I † wot wel’ in l. 78 on p. 7 is my emendation of Thynne’s phrase ‘I wol wel,’ which is duly recorded in the footnote. But some sentences remain in which the sense is not obvious; and one is almost tempted to think that the author did not clearly know what he intended to say. That he was remarkable for a high degree of inaccuracy will appear presently.
A strange misprint occurs in Book III. ch. 4, ll. 30, 31 (p. 117), where nearly two whole lines occur twice over; but the worst confusion is due to an extraordinary dislocation of the text in Book III. (c. iv. l. 56—c. ix. l. 46), as recently discovered by the sagacity of Mr. H. Bradley, and explained more fully below.
I have also, for the first time, revised the punctuation, which in Thynne is only denoted by frequent sloping strokes and full stops, which are not always inserted in the right places. And I have broken up the chapters into convenient paragraphs.
§ 8. A very curious point about this piece is the fact which I was the first to observe, viz. that the initial letters of the various chapters were certainly intended to form an acrostic. Unfortunately, Thynne did not perceive this design, and has certainly begun some of the chapters either with the wrong letter or at a wrong place. The sense shews that the first letter of Book I. ch. viii. should be E, not O (see the note); and, with this correction, the initial letters of the First Book yield the words—margarete of.
In Book II, Thynne begins Chapters XI and XII at wrong places, viz. with the word ‘Certayn’ (p. 86, l. 133), and the word ‘Trewly’ (p. 89, l. 82). He thus produces the words—virtw have mctrci. It is obvious that the last word ought to be merci, which can be obtained by beginning Chapter XI with the word ‘Every,’ which suits the sense quite as well.
For the chapters of Book III, we are again dependent on Thynne. If we accept his arrangement as it stands, the letters yielded are—on thsknvi; and the three books combined give us the sentence:—margarete of virtw, have merci on thsknvi. Here ‘Margarete of virtw’ means ‘Margaret endued with divine virtue’; and the author appeals either to the Grace of God, or to the Church. The last word ought to give us the author’s name; but in that case the letters require rearrangement before the riddle can be read with certainty.
After advancing so far towards the solution of the mystery, I was here landed in a difficulty which I was unable to solve. But Mr. H. Bradley, by a happy inspiration, hit upon the idea that the text might have suffered dislocation; and was soon in a position to prove that no less than six leaves of the MS. must have been out of place, to the great detriment of the sense and confusion of the argument. He very happily restored the right order, and most obligingly communicated to me the result. I at once cancelled the latter part of the treatise (from p. 113 to the end), and reprinted this portion in the right order, according to the sense. With this correction, the unmeaning thsknvi is resolved into the two words thin usk, i. e. ‘thine Usk’; a result the more remarkable because Mr. Bradley had previously hit upon Usk as being the probable author. For the autobiographical details exactly coincide, in every particular, with all that is known of the career of Thomas Usk, according to Walsingham, the Rolls of Parliament, and the continuation of Higden’s Polychronicon by John Malverne (ed. Lumby, vol. ix. pp. 45–6, 134, 150, 169); cf. Lingard, ed. 1874, iii. 163–7.
The date of the composition of this piece can now be determined without much error. Usk was executed on March 4, 1388, and we find him referring to past events that happened towards the end of 1384 or later. The most likely date is about 1387. I here append an exact account of the order of the text as it appears in Thynne; every break in the text being denoted, in the present volume, by a dark asterisk.
Thynne’s text is in a correct order from p. 1 to p. 118, l. 56:—any mouable tyme there (Th. fol. 354, col. 2, l. 11)1 .
(1) Next comes, in Thynne, the passage beginning at p. 135, l. 94:—Fole, haue I not seyd—and ending at p. 143, l. 46:—syth god is the greatest loue and the (Th. fol. 356, back, col. 1, l. 5).
(2) Next, in Thynne, the passage beginning at p. 131, l. 97:—ne ought to loke thynges with resonnyng—and ending at p. 132, l. 161, at the end of a chapter (Th. fol. 356, back, col. 2, last line).
(3) Next, in Thynne, the passage beginning at p. 124, l. 8:—Now trewly, lady—and ending at p. 128, at the end of the chapter (Th. fol. 357, last line).
(4) Next, in Thynne, the passage beginning at p. 132, new chapter:—Uery trouth (quod she)—and ending at p. 135, l. 94:—that shal bringe out frute that (Th. fol. 358, back, col. 1, l. 25).
(5) Next, in Thynne, the passage beginning at p. 118, l. 56:—is nothyng preterit ne passed—and ending at p. 124, l. 7:—euer to onbyde (Th. fol. 360, col. 1, l. 24).
(6) Next, in Thynne, the passage beginning at p. 128, new chapter:—Nowe, lady (quod I) that tree to set—and ending at p. 131, l. 97:—vse ye (Th. fol. 360, back, col. 2, l. 9).
(7) Lastly, the text reverts to the true order, at p. 143, l. 46, with the words:—greatest wisdom (Th. fol. 360, back, col. 2, l. 9. as before). See The Athenæum, no. 3615, Feb. 6, 1897.
It is not difficult to account for this somewhat confusing dislocation. It is clear that the original MS. was written on quires of the usual size, containing 8 folios apiece. The first 10 quires, which we may call a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, and k, were in the right order. The rest of the MS. occupied quire l (of 8 folios), and quire m (of only 2); the last page being blank. The seventh folio of l was torn up the back, so that the two leaves parted company; and the same happened to both the folios in quire m, leaving six leaves loose. What then happened was this:—first of all, folios l1—l4 were reversed and turned inside out; then came the former halves of m1, and m2, and the latter half of l7; next l5 and l6 (undetached), with the former half of l7 thrust in the middle; so that the order in this extraordinary quire was as follows: l4, l3, l2, l1, all inside out, half of m1, half of m2, the latter half of l7, l5, l6, and the former half of l7, followed by the six undetached leaves. The last quire simply consisted of l8 (entire), followed by the latter halves of m2 and m1, which were kept in the right order by the fact that the last page was blank.
It has thus become possible for us to make some progress towards the right understanding of the work, which has hitherto been much misunderstood. Warton (Hist. E. Poetry, 1840, ii. 218) dismisses it in two lines:—‘It is a lover’s parody of Boethius’s book De Consolatione mentioned above’; whereas the author was not a lover at all, except in a spiritual sense. Even the fuller account in Morley’s English Writers (1890), v. 261, is not wholly correct. The statement is there made, that ‘it professes to be written, and probably was written, by a prisoner in danger of his life’; but the prison1 may have been at first metaphorical, as he could hardly have written the whole work in two or three months. In Book iii. ch. 9, ll. 131, 132, he prays that ‘God’s hand, which has scourged him in mercy, may hereafter mercifully keep and defend him in good plight.’ The whole tone of the treatise shews that he is writing to justify himself, and thinks that he has succeeded. But a stern doom was close at hand.
§ 9. The truth is that the attempts of Godwin and others to make the autobiographical statements of the author fit into the life of Chaucer, have quite led the critics out of the right track. That the author was not Chaucer is perfectly obvious to every one who reads the passage in the lower half of p. 140 with moderate attention; for the author there refers to Chaucer as Love’s ‘noble philosophical poet in English,’ who wrote a treatise of Love’s servant Troilus, and who ‘passeth all other makers in wit and in good reason of sentence’; praise which, however true it may be of Chaucer, the writer was certainly not entitled to claim for himself. The sole point in which the circumstances of the author agree with those of Chaucer is this—that they were both born in London; which is, obviously, too slight a coincidence to build upon. Now that we know the author’s name to have been Thomas Usk, the matter assumes quite another complexion. Usk was much inclined, in his early days, to a belief in Lollard opinions; but when he found that persistence in such belief was likely to lead to trouble and danger, he deemed it prudent to recant as completely as he could1 , and contemplates his consequent security with some complacency.
In just the same way, it appears that he had changed sides in politics. We first find him in the position of confidential clerk to John of Northampton, mayor of London in 1381–2 and 1382–3. In July, 1384, Usk was arrested and imprisoned in order to induce him to reveal certain secrets implicating Northampton. This he consented to do, and accused Northampton before the king at Reading, on the 18th of August. Northampton strenuously denied the charges against him, but was condemned as guilty, and sent to Corfe castle2 . After this, Usk joined the party of Sir Nicholas Brembre, mayor of London in 1383–4, 1384–5, and 1385–6, and Collector of Customs in 1381–3, when Chaucer was Comptroller of the same. Brembre had been active in procuring the condemnation of Northampton, and was, at the close of 1386, one of the few personal adherents who remained faithful to the king. In 1387, Richard was busily devising means for the overthrow of the duke of Gloucester’s regency, Brembre and Usk being on the king’s side; but his attempts were unsuccessful, and, in November of the same year, the duke of Gloucester and his partisans, who were called the ‘appellants,’ became masters of the situation; they accused the king’s councillors of treason, and imprisoned or banished their opponents. On Feb. 3, 1388, the appellants produced their charges against their victims, Brembre and Usk being among the number. Both were condemned and executed, Brembre on Feb. 20, and Usk on the 4th of March. Usk’s offence was that he had been appointed sub-sheriff of Middlesex by Brembre’s influence3 , with a view to the arrest of the duke of Gloucester and others of his party. His defence was that all that he had done was by the king’s orders, a defence on which he doubtless relied. Unfortunately for him, it was an aggravation of his crime. It was declared that he ought to have known that the king was not at the time his own master, but was acting according to the counsel of false advisers; and this sealed his fate. He was sentenced to be drawn, hung, and beheaded, and that his head should be set up over Newgate. The sentence was barbarously carried out; he was hung but immediately cut down, and clumsily beheaded by nearly thirty strokes of a sword. ‘Post triginta mucronis ictus fere decapitatus semper usque ad mortem nunquam fatebatur se deliquisse contra Johannem Northampton, sed erant omnia vera quae de eo praedicaverat coram rege in quodam consilio habito apud Radyngum anno elapso.’—Higden, App. 169. John of Malverne speaks as if he had some personal recollection of Usk, of whom he says—‘Satagebat namque astu et arte illorum amicitiam sibi attrahere quos procul dubio ante capitales hostes sibi fuisse cognovit.’—Ib. p. 45.
We can now readily understand that Usk’s praise of Chaucer must have been more embarrassing than acceptable; and perhaps it was not altogether without design that the poet, in his House of Fame, took occasion to let the world know how he devoted his leisure time to other than political subjects.
§ 10. Some of the events of his life are alluded to by Usk in the present treatise. He justifies his betrayal of Northampton (p. 26, ll. 53–103, p. 28, ll. 116–201), and is grateful for the king’s pardon (p. 60, ll. 120–4). He refers to his first imprisonment (p. 60, l. 104), and tells us that he offered wager of battle against all who disputed his statements (p. 60, l. 116; p. 31, l. 10); but no one accepted the wager.
He further tells us how he endeavoured to make his peace with the Church. Taking his cue from the parable of the merchantman seeking goodly pearls (p. 16, l. 84), he likens the visible Church of Christ to the pearl of great price (p. 145, l. 103; p. 94, l. 121), and piteously implores her mercy (p. 8, l. 135); and the whole tone of the piece shews his confidence that he is reasonably safe (p. 144, l. 120). He sees clearly that lollardy is unacceptable, and indulges in the usual spiteful fling against the cockle (lolia) which the Lollards were reproached with sowing (p. 48, l. 93). He had once been a heretic (p. 99, l. 29), and in danger of ‘never returning’ to the true Church (p. 99, l. 38); but he secured his safety by a full submission (p. 105, l. 133).
At the same time, there is much about the piece that is vague, shifty, and unsatisfactory. He is too full of excuses, and too plausible; in a word, too selfish. Hence he has no real message for others, but only wishes to display his skill, which he does by help of the most barefaced and deliberate plagiarism. It was not from the Consolatio Philosophiae of Boethius, but from the English translation of that work by Chaucer, that he really drew his materials; and he often takes occasion to lift lines or ideas from the poem of Troilus whenever he can find any that come in handy. In one place he turns a long passage from the House of Fame into very inferior prose. There are one or two passages that remind us of the Legend of Good Women (i. pr. 100, ii. 3. 38, iii. 7. 38); but they are remarkably few. But he keeps a copy of Chaucer’s Boethius always open before him, and takes from it passage after passage, usually with many alterations, abbreviations, expansions, and other disfigurements; but sometimes without any alteration at all. A few examples will suffice, as a large number of parallel passages are duly pointed out in the Notes.
§ 11. In Chaucer’s Boethius (bk. i. pr. 3. 10), when Philosophy, the heavenly visitant, comes to comfort the writer, her first words are:—‘O my norry, sholde I forsaken thee now?’ In the Testament (p. 10, l. 37), Heavenly Love commences her consolations with the same exclamation:—‘O my nory, wenest thou that my maner be, to foryete my frendes or my servaunts?’ The Latin text—‘An te, alumne, desererem?’—does not suggest this remarkable mode of address.
This, however, is a mere beginning; it is not till further on that plagiarisms begin to be frequent. At first, as at p. 37, the author copies the sense rather than the words; but he gradually begins to copy words and phrases also. Thus, at p. 43, l. 38, his ‘chayres of domes’ comes from Chaucer’s ‘heye chayres’ in bk. i. met. 5. 27; and then, in the next line, we find ‘vertue, shynende naturelly . . is hid under cloude,’ where Chaucer has ‘vertu, cler-shyninge naturelly is hid in derke derknesses’; bk. i. met. 5. 28. At p. 44, l. 66, we have: ‘Whan nature brought thee forth, come thou not naked out of thy moders wombe? Thou haddest no richesse’; where Chaucer has: ‘Whan that nature broughte thee forth out of thy moder wombe, I receyved thee naked, and nedy of alle thinges’; bk. ii. pr. 2. 10. Just a few lines below (ll. 71–76) we have the sense, but not the words, of the neighbouring passage in Chaucer (ll. 23–25). Further literal imitations are pointed out in the Notes to l. 85 in the same chapter, and elsewhere. See, for example, the Notes to Book ii. ch. iv. 4, 14, 20, 61; ch. v. 15, 57, 65, 67, 79; ch. vi. 11, 30, 74, 117, 123, 129, 132, 143; ch. vii. 8, 14, 20, 23, 30, 39, 50, 74, 95, 98, 105, 109, 114, 117, 130, 135, 139, 148; &c.
Those who require conviction on this point may take such an example as this.
‘O! a noble thing and clere is power, that is not founden mighty to kepe himselfe’; (p. 70, l. 20).
‘O! a noble thing and a cleer thing is power, that is nat founden mighty to kepen it-self’; Ch. Boeth. bk. iii. pr. 5. 5–7.
The Latin text is: ‘O praeclara potentia quae nec ad conseruationem quidem sui satis efficax inuenitur.’ I see no reason for supposing that the author anywhere troubled himself to consult the Latin original. Indeed, it is possible to correct errors in the text by help of Chaucer’s version; see the last note on p. 461.
§ 12. We get the clearest idea of the author’s method by observing his treatment of the House of Fame, 269–359. It is worth while to quote the whole passage:—
If the reader will now turn to p. 54, l. 45, and continue down to l. 81 on the next page, he will find the whole of this passage turned into prose, with numerous cunning alterations and a few insertions, yet including all such words as are printed above in italics! That is, he will find all except the proverb in ll. 290, 291; but this also is not far off; for it occurs over the leaf, on p. 56, at l. 115, and again at p. 22, ll. 44–45! Surely, this is nothing but book-making, and the art of it does not seem to be difficult.
§ 13. The author expressly acknowledges his admiration of Troilus (p. 140, l. 292); and it is easy to see his indebtedness to that poem. He copies Chaucer’s curious mistake as to Styx being a pit (p. 3, l. 80, and the note). He adopts the words let-game (p. 18, l. 124) and wiver (p. 129, l. 27). He quotes a whole line from Troilus at p. 27, l. 78 (see note); and spoils another one at p. 34, ch. viii. l. 5, a third at p. 80, l. 116, and a fourth at p. 128, ch. vii. l. 2. We can see whence he took his allusion to ‘playing raket,’ and to the dock and nettle, at p. 13, ll. 166, 167; and the phrase to ‘pype with an yvè-lefe’ at p. 134, l. 50.
It is further observable that he had read a later text of Piers Plowman with some care, but he seems to quote it from memory, as at p. 18, l. 153, and p. 24, l. 118. A few other passages in which he seems to have taken ideas from this popular and remarkable poem are pointed out in the Notes. It is probable that he thence adopted the words legistres and skleren; for which see the Glossary, and consult the Notes for the references which are there given.
§ 14. The author is frequently guilty of gross inaccuracies. He seems to confuse Cain with Ham (p. 52, ll. 107, 109), but Cayn, says Mr. Bradley, may be Thynne’s misprint for Cam, i. e. Ham. He certainly confuses Perdiccas with Arrhidæus (p. 52, l. 116). He speaks of the eighth year, instead of the seventh, as being a sabbatical year, and actually declares that the ordinary week contains seven working days (p. 24, ll. 102–104)! He tells us that Sunday begins ‘at the first hour after noon (!) on Saturday’ (p. 82, l. 163). Hence it is not to be wondered at that some of his arguments and illustrations are quite unintelligible.
§ 15. The title of the work, viz. The Testament of Love, readily reminds us of the passage in Gower already quoted in vol. iii. p. xliii., in which the goddess Venus proposes that Chaucer should write ‘his testament of love,’ in order ‘to sette an ende of alle his werke.’ I have already explained that the real reference in this passage is to the Legend of Good Women; but I am not prepared, at present, to discuss the connection between the expression in Gower and the treatise by Usk. The fact that our author adopted the above title may have led to the notion that Chaucer wrote the treatise here discussed; but it is quite clear that he had nothing to do with it.
Professor Morley well says that ‘the writer of this piece uses the word Testament in the old Scriptural sense of a witnessing, and means by Love the Divine Love, the Christian spirit encouraging and directing the wish for the grace of God, called Margaret, the pearl beyond all price.’ To which, however, it is highly essential to add that Margaret is not used in the sense of ‘grace’ alone, but is also employed, in several passages, to signify ‘the visible Church of Christ.’ The author is, in fact, careful to warn us of the varying, the almost Protean sense of the word at p. 145, where he tells us that ‘Margarite, a woman [i. e. properly a woman’s name], betokeneth grace, lerning, or wisdom of god, or els holy church.’ His object seems to have been to extend the meaning of the word so as to give him greater scope for ingenuity in varying his modes of reference to it. He has certainly succeeded in adding to the obscurity of his subject. That by ‘holy church’ he meant the visible Church of Christ of his own time, appears from the remarkable assertion that it is ‘deedly,’ i. e. mortal (p. 94, l. 121). Such an epithet is inapplicable to the Church in its spiritual character. It may also be observed that, however much the sense implied by Margarite may vary, it never takes the meaning which we should most readily assign to it; i. e. it never means a live woman, nor represents even an imaginary object of natural human affection. The nearest approach to such an ideal is at p. 94, l. 114, where we are told that the jewel which he hopes to attain is as precious a pearl as a woman is by nature.
§ 16. It hardly seems worth while to give a detailed analysis of the whole piece. An analysis of the First Book (which is, on the whole, the best) is given by Professor Morley; and the hints which I have already given as to the character and situation of the author will enable the reader to regard the treatise from a right point of view. But it is proper to observe that the author himself tells us how he came to divide the work into three books1 , and what are the ideas on which each book is founded. Each of the three books has an introductory chapter. That to the First Book I have called a Prologue; and perhaps it would have been strictly correct to have called the first chapters of the other books by the same name. In the introductory chapter to the Third Book, p. 101, he declares that the First Book is descriptive of Error, or Deviation (which the editions print as Demacion!); the Second, of Grace; and the Third, of Joy. In other words, the First Book is particularly devoted to recounting the errors of his youth, especially how he was led by others into a conspiracy against the state and into deviation from orthodoxy. In the Prologue, he excuses himself for writing in English, and announces the title of the work. He then assures us that he is merely going to gather up the crumbs that have fallen from the table, and to glean handfuls of corn which Boethius has dropped. ‘A sly servant in his own help is often much commended’; and this being understood, he proceeds to help himself accordingly, as has already been explained.
§ 17.Book I: Ch. I. In Chapter I, he describes his misery, and hopes that the dice will turn, and implores the help of Margaret, here used (apparently) to typify the grace of God. He represents himself as being in prison, in imitation of Boethius; but I suspect that, in the present passage, the prison was metaphorical. (He had been imprisoned in 1384, and in 1387 was imprisoned again; but that is another matter.)
Ch. II. Heavenly Love suddenly appears to him, as Philosophy appeared to Boethius, and is ready to console and reclaim him. She is aware of his losses, and he tries to vindicate his constancy of character.
Ch. III. He describes how he once wandered through the woods at the close of autumn, and was attacked by some animals who had suddenly turned wild. To save himself, he embarks on board a ship; but the reader is disappointed to find that the adventure is wholly unreal; the ship is the ship of Travail, peopled by Sight, Lust, Thought, and Will. He is driven on an island, where he catches a glimpse of Love, and finds a Margaret, a pearl of price. He appeals to Love to comfort him.
Ch. IV. Love first reproves and then consoles him. She enquires further into his complaints.
Ch. V. She advises him to contemn such as have spoken against him. He complains that he has served seven years for Rachel, and prays for comfort in his eighth year. She exhorts him to perseverance.
Ch. VI. He here goes into several details as to his previous conduct. The authorities threatened to keep him in prison, unless he would reveal a certain secret or plot. He was afraid that the peace of his native place, London, would suffer; and to procure its peace, he ‘declared certain points.’ Being charged upon oath to reveal certain secret dealings, he at once did so; for which he incurred much odium.
Ch. VII. To prove that he had only spoken the truth, he offered wager of battle; and was justified by the fact that no one accepted it. He had not perjured himself, because his oath in the law-court was superior to his former oath of secrecy. He only meant truth, but was sadly slandered. It is absurd to be ‘a stinking martyr’ in a false cause.
Ch. VIII. Love tells him he has greatly erred, and must expect much correction. Earthly fame should be despised, whilst he looks for the fame that comes after death.
Ch. IX. Love vindicates the greatness of God and the goodness of His providence.
Ch. X. The author complains of his hard fortune; he has lost his goods and has been deprived of his office. Love explains that adversity teaches salutary lessons, and that the true riches may still be his own.
§ 18.Book II. In the first chapter (or Prologue) of the Second Book, he again discusses the object of his work. In Chapter II, Love sings him a Latin song, introducing complaints against the clergy such as frequently occur in Piers the Plowman. In Chapter III, we find a discourse on womankind, largely borrowed from Chaucer’s House of Fame. The next eight chapters are chiefly devoted to a discussion of the way by which the repentant sinner may come to ‘the knot’ of Heavenly bliss; and it is here, in particular, that a large portion of Chaucer’s Boethius is freely imitated or copied. The last three chapters recount the excellences of Margaret, which in many passages refers rather to the visible Church than to divine Grace.
§ 19.Book III. The first chapter is again introductory, explaining why the number of Books is three. ‘The Margaret in virtue is likened to Philosophy, with her three kinds.’ It is remarkable that this Third Book, which is dedicated to Joy, is the dullest of the three, being largely taken up with the questions of predestination and free will, with more borrowings from Chaucer’s Boethius. In Chapter V, Love explains how continuance in good will produces the fruit of Grace; and, in Chapters VI and VII, shews how such grace is to be attained. Chapter IX recurs to the subject of predestination; after which the work comes to a formal conclusion, with excuses for its various imperfections.
II. The Plowmans Tale.
This piece does not appear in Thynne’s first edition of 1532, but occurs, for the first time, in the second edition of 1542, where it is added at the end of the Canterbury Tales, after the Parson’s Tale. In the next (undated) edition, probably printed about 1550, it is placed before the Parson’s Tale, as if it were really Chaucer’s, and the same arrangement occurs in the fourth edition, that of 1561, by John Stowe. It is worth mentioning that some booksellers put forward a fable as to the true date of the undated edition being 1539, in order to enhance the value of their copies; but the pretence is obviously false, as is shewn by collation1 ; besides which, it is not likely that the Plowman’s Tale would have been at first inserted before the Parson’s Tale, then placed after it, and then again placed before it. It is best to separate the first four editions by nearly equal intervals, their dates being, respectively, 1532, 1542, about 1550, and 1561.
Comparison of the black-letter editions shews that the first is the best; and the later ones, being mere reprints, grow gradually worse. Hence, in this case, the edition of 1542 is the sole authority, and the readings of the inferior copies may be safely neglected. It is remarkable that Mr. T. Wright, in his edition of this poem printed in his Political Poems and Songs, i. 304, should have founded his text upon a reprint of Speght in 1687, when he might have taken as his authority a text more than 140 years older. The result is, naturally, that his text is much worse than was at all necessary.
According to Speght, there was once a MS. copy of this piece in Stowe’s library, but no one knows what became of it. According to Todd, in his Illustrations of Gower and Chaucer, p. xxxix, there was once a black-letter edition of it, entitled ‘The Plouuman’s tale compylled by syr Geffray Chaucer knyght.’ Todd says: ‘It is of the duodecimo size, in the black letter, without date, and imprinted at London in Paules churche-yarde at the sygne of the Hyll, by Wyllyam Hyll. I have compared with the poem as printed by Urry forty or fifty lines, and I found almost as many variations between them2 . The colophon of this book is, Thus endeth the boke of Chaunterburye Tales. This rarity belongs to the Rev. Mr. Conybeare, the present Professor of the Saxon language in the University of Oxford.’ This edition can no longer be traced. Hazlitt mentions a black-letter edition of this piece, printed separately by Thomas Godfray (about 1535), on twenty leaves; of which only one copy is known, viz. that at Britwell. There is also a late print of it in the Bodleian Library, dated 1606.
§ 21. It is needless to discuss the possibility that Chaucer wrote this Tale, as it is absent from all the MSS.; and it does not appear that the ascription of it to him was taken seriously. It is obvious, from the introductory Prologue (p. 147), that the author never intended his work to be taken for Chaucer’s; he purposely chooses a different metre from any that occurs in the Canterbury Tales, and he introduces his Ploughman as coming under the Host’s notice quite suddenly, so that the Host is constrained to ask him—‘what man art thou?’ The whole manner of the Tale is conspicuously and intentionally different from that of Chaucer; and almost the only expression which at all resembles Chaucer occurs in ll. 51, 52:—
Chaucer himself, before reciting his Tale of Melibeus, said much the same thing:—
‘And let me tellen al my tale, I preye.’
I do not know why Mr. Wright, when reprinting this piece, omitted the Prologue. It is a pity that half of the sixth stanza is missing.
§ 22. At l. 1065 we meet with a most important statement:—
It is generally agreed that the author here claims to have previously written the well-known piece entitled Pierce the Ploughman’s Crede, which I edited for the Early English Text Society in 1867. I then took occasion to compare the language of these two pieces (which I shall shortly call the Crede and the Tale), and I found ample confirmation, from internal evidence, that the claim is certainly true. There are many similarities of expression, some of which I here lay before the reader.
From the Crede.
Curteis Crist (1, 140).
cutted cote (434).
y can nohȜt my Crede (8).
At marketts and myracles, we medleth us nevere (107).
For we buldeth a burwȜ, a brod and a large (118).
portreid and peint (121).
peynt and portred (192).
y sey coveitise catel to fongen (146).
Of double worstede y-dyȜt (228).
Than ther lefte in Lucifer, er he were lowe fallen (374).
opon the plow hongen (421).
povere in gost God him-self blisseth (521).
ben maysters icalled, That the gentill Jesus . . . purly defended (574).
to brenne the bodye in a bale of fijr (667).
Thei shulden nouȜt after the face . . . demen (670).
Thei schulden delven and diggen and dongen the erthe,
And mene mong-corn bred to her mete fongen (785).
He miȜte no maistre ben kald, for Crist that defended (838).
From the Tale.
curteys Christ (482).
cutted clothes (929).
Suche that conne nat hir Crede (413).
Market-beters, and medling make (871).
And builde als brode as a citè (743).
I-paynted and portred (135).
To catche catell as covytous (385; cf. 856).
With double worsted well y-dight (1002).
As lowe as Lucifer such shall fall (124).
honged at the plow (1042).
The pore in spirit gan Christ blesse (915).
Maysters be called defended he tho (1115).
Thou shalt be brent in balefull fyre (1234).
They nolde nat demen after the face (714).
Threshing and dyking fro town to town,
With sory mete, and not half y-now (1043).
Maysters be called defended he tho (1115).
The Crede is written in alliterative verse; and it will be observed that alliteration is employed in the Tale very freely. Another peculiarity in the Tale may here be noticed, viz. the use of the same rime, fall or befall, throughout Part I, with the exception of ll. 205–228. Indeed, in the first line of Part II, the author apologizes for being unable to find any more rimes for fall, and proceeds to rime upon amend throughout that Part. In Part III, he begins to rime upon grace in the first two stanzas, but soon abandons it for the sake of freedom; however, at l. 1276, he recurs to grace, and continues to rime upon it till the end. It is clear that the author possessed considerable facility of expression. We can date these pieces approximately without much error. The proceedings against Walter Brute, expressly alluded to in the Crede, l. 657, lasted from Oct. 15, 1391, to Oct. 6, 1393, when he submitted himself to the bishop of Hereford. We may well date the Crede about 1394, and the Tale (which probably soon followed it, as the author repeats some of his expressions) about 13951 .
Both these pieces are written in a spirited style, and are of considerable interest for the light which they throw upon many of the corrupt practices of the monks, friars, and clergy. The Crede is directed against the friars in particular, and reflects many of the opinions of Wyclif, as will easily appear by comparing it with Wyclif’s works. See, in particular, his Fifty Heresies and Errors of Friars (Works, ed. Arnold, iii. 366). It would have been easy to crowd the Notes with quotations from Wyclif; but it is sufficient to point out so obvious a source. I have not observed any passage in which the author copies the exact language of Langland. The dialect seems to be some form of Midland, and is somewhat archaic; many of the verbal forms are of some value to the philologist. Taken altogether, it is a piece of considerable interest and merit. Ten Brink alludes to it as ‘that transparent, half-prophetic allegory of the Quarrel between the Griffin and the Pelican’; and adds—‘The Griffin was the representative of the prelates and the monks, the Pelican that of real Christianity in Wyclif’s sense. At a loss for arguments, the Griffin calls in at last all the birds of prey in order to destroy its rival. The Phoenix, however, comes to the help of the Pelican, and terribly destroys the robber-brood.’
Tyrwhitt observed, with great acuteness, that Spenser’s allusion, in the Epilogue to his Shepheards Calender, to ‘the Pilgrim that the Ploughman playde awhyle,’ may well refer to the author of the Plowman’s Tale rather than to Langland1 . Cf. p. 147, l. 12. It was natural that Spenser should mention him along with Chaucer, because their productions were bound up together in the same volume; a volume which was, to Spenser, a treasure-house of archaic words.
The discussion on points of religion between the Griffin and the Pelican clearly suggested to Dryden his discussion between the Hind and the Panther. His choice of quadrupeds in place of birds is certainly no improvement.
III. Jack Upland.
Of this piece, no MS. copy is known. It is usually said to have been first printed by Speght, in his second edition of Chaucer’s Works in 1602; but I have been so fortunate as to find a better and earlier text in the library of Caius College, Cambridge, to which my attention was drawn by a note in Hazlitt’s Bibliographer’s Handbook. This copy, here taken as the basis of my text, and collated with Speght, is a small book consisting of only 16 leaves. The title-page contains the following words, within a square border. ¶ Jack vp Lande | Compyled by the | famous Geoffrey | Chaucer. | Ezechielis. xiii. | ¶ Wo be vnto you that | dishonour me to me (sic) peo | ple for an handful of bar | lye & for a pece of bread. | Cum priuilegio | Regali.
At the end of the treatise is the colophon: ¶ Prynted for Ihon Gough. Cum Priuilegio Regali.
Hazlitt conjectures that it was printed about 1540. I think we may safely date it in 1536; for it is bound up in a volume with several other tracts, and it so happens that the tract next following it is by Myles Coverdale, and is dated 1536, being printed in just the very same type and style. We can also tell that it must have been printed after 1535, because the verse from Ezekiel xiii, as quoted on the title-page (see above), exactly corresponds with Coverdale’s version of the Bible, the first edition of which appeared in that year.
The text of Jack Upland, in the Caius College copy, has the following heading, in small type:—‘¶ These bē the lewed questions of Freres rytes and obseruaunces the whych they chargen more than Goddes lawe, and therfore men shulden not gyue hem what so they beggen, tyll they hadden answered and clerely assoyled these questions.’
As this copy is, on the whole, considerably superior to Speght’s both as regards sense and spelling, I have not given his inferior readings and errors. In a very few places, Speght furnishes some obvious corrections; and in such instances his readings are noted.
§ 24. A very convenient reprint of Speght’s text is given in Wright’s edition of Political Poems and Songs (Record Series), vol. ii. p. 16. In the same volume, p. 39, is printed a reply to Jack Upland’s questions by a friar who facetiously calls himself Friar Daw Topias, though it appears (from a note printed at p. 114) that his real name was John Walsingham. Nor is this all; for Friar Daw’s reply is further accompanied by Jack Upland’s rejoinder, printed, for convenience, below Friar Daw’s text. It is most likely, as Mr. Wright concludes, that all three pieces may be dated in the same year. It was necessary that Friar Daw (who gave himself this name in order to indicate that he is a comparatively unlearned man, yet easily able to refute his audacious questioner) should produce his reply at once; and we may be sure that Jack’s rejoinder was not long delayed. Fortunately, the date can be determined with sufficient exactness; for Jack’s rejoinder contains the allusion: ‘and the kyng by his juges trwe [sholde] execute his lawe, as he did now late, whan he hangid you traytours,’ p. 86. This clearly refers to June, 14021 , when eight Franciscan friars were hanged at Tyburn for being concerned in a plot against the life of Henry IV. We may, accordingly, safely refer all three pieces to the year 1402; shortly after Chaucer’s death.
§ 25. It is also tolerably clear that there must have been two texts of ‘Jack Upland,’ an earlier and a later one. The earlier one, of which we have no copy, can easily be traced by help of Friar Daw’s reply, as he quotes all that is material point by point. It only extended as far as the 54th question in the present edition (p. 199); after which followed two more questions which do not here reappear. The later copy also contains a few questions, not far from the beginning, which Friar Daw ignores. It is clear that we only possess a later, and, on the whole, a fuller copy. One of the omitted questions relates to transubstantiation; and, as any discussion of it was extremely likely, at that date, to be ended by burning the disputant at the stake, it was certainly prudent to suppress it. Not perceiving this point, Mr. Wright too hastily concluded that our copy of Jack Upland is extremely corrupt, a conclusion quite unwarranted; inasmuch as Friar Daw, in spite of his affectation of alliterative verse, quotes his adversary’s questions with reasonable correctness. On this unsound theory Mr. Wright has built up another, still less warranted, viz. that the original copy of Jack Upland must have been written in alliterative verse; for no other reason than because Friar Daw’s reply is so written. It is obvious that alliteration is conspicuously absent, except in the case of the four lines (424–7), which are introduced, by way of flourish, at the end. My own belief is that our copy of Jack Upland is a second edition, i. e. an amended and extended copy, which has been reasonably well preserved. It is more correct than the Plowmans Tale, and very much more correct than the Testament of Love.
§ 26. Mr. Wright further imagines that Jack Upland’s rejoinder to Friar Daw’s reply, which he prints from ‘a contemporary MS. in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, MS. Digby 41,’ was also originally in alliterative verse. This supposition is almost as gratuitous as the former; for, although there are very frequent traces of alliteration as an occasional embellishment, it is otherwise written in ordinary prose. The mere chopping up of prose into bits of not very equal length, as in Mr. Wright’s print, does not produce verse of any kind. Friar Daw’s verses are bad enough, as he did not understand his model (obviously the Ploughman’s Crede), but he usually succeeds in making a kind of jingle, with pauses, for the most part, in the right place. But there is no verse discoverable in Jack Upland; he preferred straightforward prose, for reasons that are perfectly obvious.
For further remarks, I beg leave to refer the reader to Mr. Wright’s Introduction, pp. xii-xxiv, where he will find an excellent summary of the arguments adduced on both sides. There is a slight notice of Jack Upland in Morley’s English Writers, vi. 234.
IV. John Gower: The Praise of Peace.
In Morley’s English Writers, iv. 157, this poem is entitled ‘De Pacis Commendatione,’ on MS. authority (see p. 216). Mr. E. B. Nicholson, who has made a special study of Gower’s poems, suggested ‘The Praise of Peace,’ which I have gladly adopted. I am much obliged to Mr. Nicholson for his assistance in various ways; and, in particular, for the generous loan of his own transcript of this poem.
§ 28. In Todd’s Illustrations of Gower and Chaucer, p. 95, is a notice of a MS. ‘in the present Marquis of Stafford’s library at Trentham,’ which had been previously described in Warton’s Hist. of E. Poetry as being ‘in Lord Gower’s library.’ Mr. Wright alludes to it as ‘a contemporary MS. in the possession of his grace the duke of Sutherland.’ It may be called ‘the Trentham MS.’ ‘The Praise of Peace’ was printed from it by Mr. Wright, in his Political Poems and Songs, ii. 4–15; and I have followed his text, which I denote by ‘T.’ At the same time, I have collated it with the text of Thynne’s edition of 1532, which is a very good one. The differences are slight.
Warton describes the MS. as ‘a thin oblong MS. on vellum, containing some of Gower’s poems in Latin, French, and English. By an entry in the first leaf, in the handwriting and under the signature of Thomas lord Fairfax, Cromwell’s general, an antiquarian, and a lover and collector of curious manuscripts, it appears that this book was presented by the poet Gower, about 14001 , to Henry IV; and that it was given by lord Fairfax to his friend and kinsman Sir Thomas Gower, knight and baronet, in the year 1656.’ He goes on to say that Fairfax had it from Charles Gedde, Esq., of St. Andrews; and that it was at one time in the possession of King Henry VII, while earl of Richmond, who wrote in it his own name in the form ‘Rychemond.’
The MS. contains (1) The Praise of Peace, preceded by the seven Latin lines (386–392), which I have relegated to the end of the poem, as in Thynne. The title is given in the colophon (p. 216); after which follow the twelve Latin lines (393–404), printed on the same page. (2) Some complimentary verses in Latin, also addressed to Henry IV, printed in Wright’s Political Poems, ii. 1–3. (3) Fifty Balades in French, which have been printed by Stengel (Warton prints four of them), with the colophon—Expliciunt carmina Johis Gower que Gallice composita Balades dicuntur.’ (4) Two short Latin poems in elegiacs; see Warton. (5) A French poem on the Dignity or Excellence of Marriage. (6) Seventeen Latin hexameters. (7) Gower’s Latin verses on his blindness, beginning—
See Todd and Warton for more minute particulars.
§ 29. The poem itself may safely be dated in the end of 1399, for reasons given in the note to l. 393. It is of some interest, as being Gower’s last poem in English, and the spirit of it is excellent, though it contains no very striking lines. We have not much of Gower’s work in the form of seven-line stanzas. The Confessio Amantis contains only twelve such stanzas; iii. 349–352. I draw attention to the earliest known reference (l. 295) to the game of ‘tenetz’; the enumeration of the nine worthies (ll. 281–3); and the reference to a story about Constantine which, in the Confessio Amantis, is related at considerable length (l. 339).
We may compare with this poem the stanzas in praise of peace in Hoccleve’s De Regimine Principum, quoted in Morley’s English Writers (1890), vol. vi. pp. 131–2.
V. Thomas Hoccleve: The Letter of Cupid.
This poem needs little discussion. It is known to be Hoccleve’s; see Dr. Furnivall’s edition of Hoccleve’s Minor Poems, E. E. T. S., 1892, p. 72. As explained in the notes, it is rather closely imitated from the French poem entitled L’Epistre au Dieu d’Amours, written by Christine de Pisan. At the end of her poem, Christine gives the date of its composition, viz. 1399; and Hoccleve, in like manner, gives the date of his poem as 1402. The poem consists of sixty-eight stanzas, of which not more than eighteen are wholly independent of the original. The chief original passages are ll. 176–189, 316–329, and 374–434.
The poem is entirely occupied with a defence of women, such as a woman might well make. It takes the form of a reproof, addressed by Cupid to all male lovers; and is directed, in particular, against the sarcasms of Jean de Meun (l. 281) in the celebrated Roman de la Rose.
Of this poem there are several MS. copies; see footnotes at p. 217. The best is probably the Ashburnham MS., but it has not yet been printed. I chiefly follow MS. Fairfax 16, which Dr. Furnivall has taken as the basis of his text.
There is also a poor and late copy in the Bannatyne MS., at fol. 269; see the print of it for the Hunterian Club, 1879; p. 783.
VI. The same: Two Balades.
These two Balades, also by Hoccleve, were composed at the same time. The former is addressed to King Henry V, and the latter to the Knights of the Garter. They are very closely connected with a much longer poem of 512 lines, which was addressed to Sir John Oldcastle in August, 1415; and must have been written at about that date. It was natural enough that, whilst addressing his appeal to Oldcastle to renounce his heresies, the poet should briefly address the king on the same subject at the same time. I think we may safely date this piece, like the other, in August, 1415.
The remarkable likeness between the two pieces appears most in the references to Justinian and to Constantine. In fact, the reference to Justinian in l. 3 of the former of the Balades here printed would be unintelligible but for the full explanation which the companion poem affords. I have quoted, in the note to l. 3, the Latin note which is written in the margin of st. 24 of the address to Oldcastle; and I quote here the stanza itself:—
Compare with this the fourth stanza of Balade I.
We may regret that Hoccleve’s desire to make an example of heretics was so soon fulfilled. Only three years later, in Dec. 1418, Sir John Oldcastle was captured in Wales, brought up to London, and publicly burnt.
My text follows the sole good MS. (Phillipps 8151); which I have collated with the earliest printed text, that of 1542. There is, indeed, another MS. copy of the poem in the library of Trinity College, Cambridge (R. 3. 15); but it is only a late copy made from the printed book.
VII. Henry Scogan: A Moral Balade.
The heading to this poem is from MS. Ashmole 59; it is, unfortunately, somewhat obscure. It is, of course, not contemporaneous with the poem, but was added, by way of note, by John Shirley, when transcribing it. In fact, the third son of Henry IV was not created duke of Bedford till 1415, after the accession of Henry V; whereas Henry V is here referred to as being still ‘my lord the Prince.’ Hence the poem was written in the reign of Henry IV (1399–1413); but we can easily come much nearer than this to the true date. We may note, first of all, that Chaucer is referred to as being dead (l. 65); so that the date is after 1400. Again, the poem does not appear to have been recited by the author; it was sent, in the author’s handwriting, to the assembled guests (l. 3). Further, Scogan says that he was ‘called’ the ‘fader,’ i. e. tutor, of the young princes (l. 2); and that he sent the letter to them out of fervent regard for their welfare, in order to warn them (l. 35). He regrets that sudden age has come upon him (l. 10), and wishes to impart to them the lessons which the approach of old age suggests. All this points to a time when Scogan was getting past his regular work as tutor, though he still retained the title; which suggests a rather late date. We find, however, from the Inquisitiones post Mortem (iii. 315), that Henry Scogan died in 1407, and I have seen it noted (I forget where) that he only attained the age of forty-six. This shews that he was only relatively old, owing, probably, to infirm health; and we may safely date the poem in 1406 or 1407, the latter being the more likely. In 1407, the ages of the young princes were nineteen, eighteen, seventeen, and sixteen respectively, and it is not likely that Scogan had been their tutor for more than twelve years at most. This provisional date of 1407 sufficiently satisfies all the conditions.
The four sons of Henry IV were Henry, prince of Wales, born at Monmouth in 1388; Thomas, born in 1389, and created duke of Clarence in 1412; John, born in 1390, created duke of Bedford in 1415; and Humphrey, born in 1391, created duke of Gloucester in 1414.
§ 33. The expression at a souper of feorthe merchande is difficult, and I can only guess at the sense. Feorthe is Shirley’s spelling of ferthe, i. e. fourth. Merchande is probably equivalent to O. F. marchandie or marchandise. Godefroy gives an example of the latter in the sense of ‘merchant’s company.’ I suppose that feorthe merchande means ‘fourth meeting of merchants,’ or the fourth of the four quarterly meetings of a guild. Toulmin Smith, in his English Gilds, p. 32, says that quarterly meetings for business were common; though some guilds met only once, twice, or thrice in the course of a year.
The Vintry is described by Stow in his Survey of London (ed. Thomas, p. 90): ‘Then next over against St. Martin’s church, is a large house built of stone and timber, with vaults for the stowage of wines, and is called the Vintry. . . . In this house Henry Picard [lord mayor in 1356–7] feasted four kings in one day.’
I need not repeat here what I have already said about Scogan in vol. i. p. 83.
I may add to the note about Lewis John (vol. i. p. 84), that he was a person of some note. In 1423 (Feb. 8), ‘Ludowicus Johan, armiger, constitutus est seneschall et receptor generalis ducatus Cornub.’: see Ordinances of the Privy Council, iii. 24. He is further mentioned in the same, ii. 334, 342.
Chaucer’s Balade on Gentilesse, quoted in full in ll. 105–125, is in seven-line stanzas; and is thus distinguished from the rest of the poem, which is written in eight-line stanzas. It may be noted that Scogan’s rimes are extremely correct, if we compare them with Chaucer’s as a standard.
Of this piece there are two early printed copies, one by Caxton, and one by Thynne (1532); and two MSS., Ashmole 59 and Harl. 2251. It is remarkable that the printed copies are better than the MSS. as regards readings.
VIII. The Complaint of the Black Knight.
Such is the title in Thynne’s edition (1532). In MS. F. (Fairfax 16), it is entitled—‘Complaynte of a Loveres Lyfe’; and there is a printed edition with the title—‘The Complaynte of a Louers Lyfe. Imprynted at London in the flete strete at the sygne of the Sonne, by Wynkyn de Worde’; no date, 4to. on twelve leaves. In MS. S. (Arch. Selden, B. 24), there is an erroneous colophon—‘Here endith the Maying and disporte of Chaucere’; which gives the wrong title, and assigns it to the wrong author. In accordance with the last MS., it was printed, with the erroneous title—‘Here begynnys the mayng or disport of chaucer’—in a volume ‘Imprentit in the south gait of Edinburgh be Walter chepman and Androw myllar the fourth day of aperile the yhere of god: m.ccccc. and viii yheris’ ; and this scarce copy was reprinted as piece no. 8 in The Knightly Tale of Golagrus and Gawane, &c., as reprinted by Laing in 1827.
But the fullest title is that in MS. Ad. (Addit. 16165), written out by John Shirley, who says: ‘And here filowyng begynnethe a Right lusty amorous balade, made in wyse of a complaynt of a Right worshipfulle Knyght that truly euer serued his lady, enduryng grete disese by fals envye and malebouche; made by Lydegate’ (fol. 190, back). Some of the pages have the heading, ‘The compleynte of a Knight made by Lidegate1 .’
This attribution of the poem to Lydgate, by so good a judge as Shirley, renders the authorship certain; and the ascription is fully confirmed by strong internal evidence. Much of it is in Lydgate’s best manner, and his imitation of Chaucer is, in places, very close; while, at the same time, it is easy to point out non-Chaucerian rimes, such as whyte, brighte, 2; pitously, malady (Ch. maladye), 137; felyngly, malady, 188; mente, diligent, 246; grace, alas, 529; seyn, payn (Ch. peyne), 568; diurnal, fal, (Ch. falle), 590; payn, agayn, 650; queen (Ch. quene), seen, 674. Besides which, there are two mere assonances in two consecutive stanzas, viz. forjuged, excused, 274; and wreke, clepe, 284. The occurrence of this pair of assonances is quite enough to settle the question. If we apply a more delicate test, we may observe that, in ll. 218–220, the word sōre (with long o) rimes with tore, in which the o was originally short; on this point, see vol. vi. p. xxxii.
As to this poem, Ten Brink well remarks: ‘His talent was fairly qualified for a popular form of the ‘Complaint’—a sort of long monologue, interwoven with allegory and mythology, and introduced by a charming picture of nature. His Complaint of the Black Knight, which contains reminiscences from the Romance of the Rose, the Book of the Duchesse, and the Parlement of Foules, was long considered a production of Chaucer’s, and is still frequently included in editions of his works—although with reservations. The critic, however, will not be deceived by the excellent descriptive passages of this poem, but will easily detect the characteristic marks of the imitator in the management of verse and rhyme, and especially in the diffusiveness of the story and the monotony even of the most important parts.’
§ 35. Lydgate’s reminiscences of Chaucer are often interesting. In particular, we should observe the passages suggested by the Roman de la Rose in ll. 36–112; for we are at once reminded of Chaucer’s own version of it, as preserved in Fragment A of the Romaunt. After noticing that he uses costey (36) for the F. costoiant, where Chaucer has costeying (134); and attempre (57) where Chaucer has attempre (131), though one French text has atrempee, it is startling to find him reproducing (80) Chaucer’s very phrase And softe as veluet (R. R. 1420), where the French original has nothing corresponding either to soft or to velvet! This clearly shews that Lydgate was acquainted with Fragment A of the English version, and believed that version to be Chaucer’s; for otherwise he would hardly have cared to imitate it at all.
The date of this poem is discussed in the Introduction to Schick’s edition of the Temple of Glas, by the same author; pp. c, cxii. He dates it in Lydgate’s early period, or about ad 1402.
The text is based upon Thynne’s edition, which is quite as good as the MSS., though the spellings are often too late in form. The late excellent edition by E. Krausser (Halle, 1896) reached me after my text was printed. His text (from MS. F.) has much the same readings, and is accompanied by a full Introduction and eleven pages of useful notes.
IX. The Flour of Curtesye.
This piece has no author’s name prefixed to it in the first three editions; but in the fourth edition by Stowe, printed in 1561, the title is: ‘The Floure of Curtesie, made by Iohn lidgate.’ Probably Stowe had seen it attributed to him in some MS., and made a note of it; but I know of no MS. copy now extant.
Few poems bear Lydgate’s impress more clearly; there can be no doubt as to its authorship. Schick refers it to Lydgate’s early period, and dates it about 1400–1402; see his edition of the Temple of Glas, p. cxii. As it was written after Chaucer’s death (see l. 236), and probably when that sad loss was still recent, we cannot be far wrong if we date it about 1401; and the Black Knight, a somewhat more ambitious effort, about 1402.
The ‘Flour of Curtesye’ is intended as a portrait of one whom the poet honours as the best of womankind. The character is evidently founded on that of Alcestis as described in the Prologue to the Legend of Good Women; and throughout the piece we are frequently reminded of Chaucer; especially of the Legend, the Complaint of Mars, and the Parliament of Foules.
The Envoy presents a very early example of the four-line stanza, similar to that employed in Gray’s famous Elegy.
X. A Balade in Commendation of our Lady.
This piece is attributed to ‘Lidegate of Bury’ in the Ashmole MS. no. 59; and the ascription is obviously correct. It abounds with evident marks of his peculiar style of metre; for which see Schick’s Introduction to the Temple of Glas, p. lvi. We note in it a few reminiscences of Chaucer, as pointed out in the Notes; in particular, it was probably suggested by Chaucer’s A B C, which furnished hints for ll. 27, 60, and 129. It is perhaps worth while to add that we have thus an independent testimony for the genuineness of that poem.
As an illustration of Lydgate’s verse, I may notice the additional syllable after the cæsura, which too often clogs his lines. Thus in l. 8 we must group the syllables thus:—
Wherefór: now pláynly: I wól: my stýlë: dréssë. Similarly, we find lícour in l. 13, pítè (18), líving (24), bémës (25), gínning (31), mércy (33), gárden (36), &c., all occupying places where a monosyllable would have been more acceptable.
The poem is strongly marked by alliteration, shewing that the poet (usually in a hurry) took more than usual pains with it. In the seventh stanza (43–49) this tendency is unmistakably apparent.
It is hardly possible to assign a date to a poem of this character. I can only guess it to belong to the middle period of his career; say, the reign of Henry V. We have not yet obtained sufficient data for the arrangement of Lydgate’s poems.
§ 38. Lines 121–127 are here printed for the first time. In the old editions, l. 120 is succeeded by l. 128, with the result that Sion (120) would not rime with set afere (129); but the scribe of the Ashmole MS. was equal to the emergency, for he altered l. 129 so as to make it end with fuyrless thou sette vppon, which is mere nonsense. Thynne has fyrelesse fyre set on, which is just a little better.
This addition of seven lines was due to my fortunate discovery of a new MS.; for which I was indebted to the excellent MS. ‘Index of First Lines’ in the British Museum. This told me that a poem (hitherto unrecognised) existed in MS. Sloane 1212, of which the first line is ‘A thousand stories,’ &c. On examining the MS., it turned out to be a copy, on paper, of Hoccleve’s De Regimine Principum, with four leaves of vellum at the beginning, and two more at the end, covered with writing of an older character. The two vellum leaves at the end were then transposed, but have since been set right, at my suggestion. They contain a few lines of the conclusion of some other piece, followed by the unique complete copy of the present Balade. This copy turned out to be much the best, and restored several of the readings. Indeed, the Ashmole MS. is very imperfect, having in it a lacuna of eight stanzas (ll. 64–119). I am thus able to give quite a presentable text.
The correction that most interested me was one in l. 134, where the Ashmole MS. and Thynne have probatyf piscyne. On June 5, 1896, I read a paper at the Philological Society, in which (among other things) I pointed out that the right reading must certainly be probatik. The very next day I found the Sloane MS.; and behold, its reading was probatyk! It is not often that a ‘conjectural emendation’ is confirmed, on unimpeachable authority, within twenty-four hours.
Another remarkable correction is that of dyamaunt for dyametre in l. 87. It was all very well to compare Our Lady to a diamond; but to call her a diameter (as in all the editions) is a little too bad. Again, in l. 121 (now first printed) we have the remarkable expression punical pome for a pomegranate, which is worthy of notice; and in l. 123 we find a new word, agnelet, which is not to be found in the New English Dictionary.
All the printed editions print the next piece as if it formed a part of the present one; but they have absolutely no point in common beyond the fact of having a common authorship.
XI. To my Soverain Lady.
In all the old editions, this piece forms part of the preceding, though it is obviously distinct from it, when attention is once drawn to the fact. Instead of being addressed, like no. X, to the Virgin, it is addressed to a lady whose name the poet wishes to commend (l. 7); and from whom he is parted (51); whereas two lovers ought to be together, if they wish to live ‘well merry’ (64). Her goodly fresh face is a merry mirror (73); and he has chosen her as his Valentine (111).
It is evidently a conventional complimentary poem, written to please some lady of rank or of high renown (93), one, in fact, who is ‘of women chief princesse’ (70). It is prettily expressed, and does Lydgate some credit, being a favourable specimen of his more playful style; I wish we had more of the same kind. L. 68—‘Let him go love, and see wher [whether] it be game’—is excellent.
I shall here submit to the reader a pure guess, for what it is worth. My impression is that this piece, being a complimentary Valentine, was suggested by queen Katherine’s visit to England; the lover whose passion is here described being no other than king Henry V, who was parted from his queen for a week. The pair arrived at Dover on Feb. 2, 1421, and Henry went on to London, arriving on Feb. 14; the queen did not arrive till Feb. 21, just in time for her coronation on Feb. 23.
This hypothesis satisfies several conditions. It explains why the lover’s English is not good enough to praise the lady; why so many French lines are quoted; the significant allusion to the lily, i.e. the lily of France, in l. 16; the lover’s consolation found in English roundels (40); the expression ‘cheef princesse’ in l. 70; and the very remarkable exclamation of Salve, regina, in l. 83, which doubtless made Thynne imagine that the poem was addressed to the Virgin Mary. The expression ‘for your departing’ in l. 105 does not necessarily mean ‘on account of your departure from me’; it is equally in accordance with Middle-English usage to suppose that it means ‘on account of your separation from me’; see Depart and Departing in the New English Dictionary.
It is well known that Lydgate provided the necessary poetry for the entry of Henry VI into London in Feb. 1432.
Some resemblances to Chaucer are pointed out in the Notes. The most interesting circumstance about this poem is that the author quotes, at the end of his third stanza, the first line of ‘Merciles Beautè’; this is a strong point in favour of the attribution of that poem to his master.
This piece is distinguished from the preceding by the difference of its subject; by the difference in the character of the metre (there is here no alliteration); and, most significant of all, by its absence from MS. Ashmole 59 and MS. Sloane 1212, both of which contain the preceding piece. The two poems may have been brought together, in the MS. which Thynne followed, by the accident of being written about the same time.
XII. Ballad of Good Counsel.
The title of this piece in Stowe’s edition stands as follows: ‘A balade of good counseile, translated out of Latin verses into Englishe, by dan Iohn lidgat cleped the monke of Buri.’ What were the Latin verses here referred to, I have no means of ascertaining.
This Ballad is eminently characteristic of Lydgate’s style, and by no means the worst of its kind. When he once gets hold of a refrain that pleases him, he canters merrily along till he has absolutely no more to say. I think he must have enjoyed writing it, and that he wrote it to please himself.
He transgresses one of Chaucer’s canons in ll. 79–82; where he rimes hardy with foly and flatery. The two latter words are, in Chaucer, foly-ë and flatery-ë, and never rime with a word like hardy, which has no final -e.
Lydgate is very fond of what may be called catalogues; he begins by enumerating every kind of possibility. You may be rich, or strong, or prudent, &c.; or fair (22) or ugly (24); you may have a wife (29), or you may not (36); you may be fat (43), or you may be lean (46); or staid (57), or holy (64); your dress may be presentable (71), or poor (72), or middling (73); you may speak much (78) or little (80); and so on; for it is hard to come to an end. At l. 106, he begins all over again with womankind; and the conclusion is, that you should govern your tongue, and never listen to slander.
Thynne’s text is not very good; the MSS. are somewhat better. He makes the odd mistake of printing Holynesse beautie for Eleynes beaute (115); but Helen had not much to do with holiness. Two of the stanzas (71–7 and 106–112) are now printed for the first time, as they occur in the MSS. only. Indeed, MS. H. (Harl. 2251) is the sole authority for the former of these two stanzas.
XIII. Beware of Doubleness.
This is a favourable example of Lydgate’s better style; and is written with unusual smoothness, owing to the shortness of the lines. It was first printed in 1561. There is a better copy in the Fairfax MS., which has been taken as the basis of the text. The copy in MS. Ashmole 59 is very poor. The title—‘Balade made by Lydgate’—occurs in MS. Addit. 16165. Stowe, being unacquainted with the phrase ambes as (l. 78), though it occurs in Chaucer, turned ambes into lombes, after which he wrongly inserted a comma; and lombes appears, accordingly, in all former editions, with a comma after it. What sense readers have hitherto made of this line, I am at a loss to conjecture.
XIV. A Balade: Warning Men, etc.
First printed by Stowe in 1561, from the MS. in Trinity College Library, marked R. 3. 19, which I have used in preference to the printed edition.
There is another, and more complete copy in the same library, marked O. 9. 38, which has contributed some excellent corrections. Moreover, it gives a better arrangement of stanzas three and four, which the old editions transpose. More than this, it contains a unique stanza (36–42), which has not been printed before.
The poem also occurs in Shirley’s MS. Harl. 2251, which contains a large number of poems by Lydgate; and is there followed by another poem of seven stanzas, attributed to Lydgate. That the present poem is Lydgate’s, cannot well be doubted; it belongs to the same class of his poems as no. XII above. I find it attributed to him in the reprint of ‘Chaucer’s Poems’ by Chalmers, in 1810.
The substitution of the contracted and idiomatic form et for the later form eteth is a great improvement. It is due to MS. O. 9. 38, where the scribe first wrote ette, but was afterwards so weak as to ‘correct’ it to etyth. But this ‘correction’ just ruins the refrain. Et was no doubt becoming archaic towards the middle of the fifteenth century.
Two variations upon the last stanza occur in the Bannatyne MS., fol. 258, back; see the print by the Hunterian Club, 1879, pp. 754, 755.
XV. Three Sayings.
First printed by Stowe; I know of no MS. copy. The first two Sayings are attributed to Lydgate; so we may as well credit him with the third. The second expresses the same statements as the first, but varies somewhat in form; both are founded upon a Latin line which occurs in MS. Fairfax 16 (fol. 196) and in MS. Harl. 7578 (fol. 20), and runs as follows:—‘Quatuor infatuant, honor, etas, femina, uinum.’
Note that these Three Sayings constitute the only addition made by Stowe to Thynne in ‘Part I’ of Stowe’s edition. See nos. 28, 29, 30 in vol. i. p. 32. Stowe introduced them in order to fill a blank half-column between nos. 27 and 31.
XVI. La Belle Dame sans Mercy.
First printed in Thynne’s Chaucer (1532). Tyrwhitt first pointed out that it could not possibly be his, seeing that Alan Chartier’s poem with the same name, whence the English version was made, could not have been written in Chaucer’s lifetime. Chartier was born in 1386, and was only fourteen years old at the time of Chaucer’s death. Tyrwhitt further stated that the author’s name, Sir Richard Ros, was plainly given in MS. Harl. 372, fol. 61, where the poem has this title:—‘La Belle Dame Sanz Mercy. Translatid out of Frenche by Sir Richard Ros.’ I have not been able to find the date of the French original, as there is no modern edition of Chartier’s poems; but it can hardly have been written before 1410, when the poet was only twenty-four years old; and the date of the translation must be later still. But we are not wholly left to conjecture in this matter. A short notice of Sir Richard Ros appeared in Englische Studien, X. 206, written by H. Gröhler, who refers us to his dissertation ‘Ueber Richard Ros’ mittelenglische übersetzung des gedichtes von Alain Chartier La Belle Dame sans Mercy,’ published at Breslau in 1886; of which Dr. Gröhler has most obligingly sent me a copy, whence several of my Notes have been derived. He tells us, in this article, that his dissertation was founded on the copy of the poem in MS. Harl. 372, which (in 1886) he believed to be unique; whereas he had since been informed that there are three other MSS., viz. Camb. Ff. 1. 6, Trin. Coll. Camb. R. 3. 19, and Fairfax 16; and further, that the Trinity MS. agrees with the Harleian as to misarrangement of the subject-matter1 . He also proposed to give a new edition of the poem in Englische Studien, but I am unable to find it; and Dr. Kölbing courteously informs me that it never appeared.
Dr. Gröhler further tells us, that Mr. Joseph Hall, of Manchester, had sent him some account, extracted from the county history of Leicestershire by Nichols, of the family of Roos or Ros, who were lords of Hamlake and Belvoir in that county. According to Nichols, the Sir Richard Ros who was presumably the poet, was the second son of Sir Thomas Ros; and Sir Thomas was the second son of Sir W. Ros, who married Margaret, daughter of Sir John Arundel. If this be right, we gain the further information that Sir Richard was born in 14291 , and is known to have been alive in 1450, when he was twenty-one years old.
The dates suit very well, as they suggest that the English poem was written, probably, between 1450 and 1460, or at the beginning of the second half of the fifteenth century; which sufficiently agrees with the language employed and with the probable age of the MSS. The date assigned in the New English Dictionary, s. v. Currish, is 1460; which cannot be far wrong. It can hardly be much later.
§ 45. The above notice also suggests that, as Sir Richard Ros was of a Leicestershire family, the dialect of the piece may, originally at least, have been North Leicestershire. Belvoir is situate in the N.E. corner of Leicestershire, not far from Grantham in Lincolnshire, and at no great distance from the birthplace of Robert of Brunne. It is well known that Robert of Brunne wrote in a variety of the Midland dialect which coincides, to a remarkable extent, with the form of the language which has become the standard literary English. Now it is easily seen that La Belle Dame has the same peculiarity, and I venture to think that, on this account, it is worth special attention. If we want to see a specimen of what the Midland literary dialect was like in the middle of the fifteenth century, it is here that we may find it. Many of the stanzas are, in fact, remarkably modern, both in grammar and expression; we have only to alter the spelling, and there is nothing left to explain. Take for example the last stanza on p. 301 (ll. 77–84):—
A large number of stanzas readily lend themselves to similar treatment; and this is quite enough to dissociate the poem from Chaucer. The great difficulty about modernising Chaucer is, as every one knows, his use of the final -e as a distinct syllable; but we may search a whole page of La Belle Dame without finding anything of the kind. When Sir Richard’s words have an extra syllable, it is due to the suffix -es or the suffix -ed; and even these are not remarkably numerous; we do not arrive at cloth-es, a plural in -es, before l. 22; and, in the course of the first four stanzas, all the words in -ed are awak-ed, nak-ed, vex-ed, tourn-ed, and bold-ed, none of which would be surprising to a student of Elizabethan poetry. That there was something of a Northern element in Sir Richard’s language appears from the rime of long-es with song-es, in ll. 53–55; where longes is the third person singular of the present tense; but modern English has belongs, with the same suffix! Again, he constantly uses the Northern possessive pronoun their; but modern English does the same!
§ 46. Another remarkable point about the poem is the perfect smoothness and regularity of the metre in a large number of lines, even as judged by a modern standard. The first line—‘Half in a dream, not fully well awaked’—might, from a metrical point of view, have been written yesterday. It is a pity that the poem is somewhat dull, owing to its needless prolixity; but this is not a little due to Alan Chartier. Sir Richard has only eight stanzas of his own, four at the beginning, and four at the end; and it is remarkable that these are in the seven-line stanza, while the rest of the stanzas have eight lines, like their French original, of which I here give the first stanza, from the Paris edition of 1617, p. 502. (See l. 29 of the English version.)
I have cited in the Notes a few passages of the original text which help to explain the translation.
§ 47. The text in Thynne is a good one, and it seemed convenient to make it the basis of the edition; but it has been carefully controlled by collation with MS. Ff. 1. 6, which is, in some respects, the best MS. I am not sure that Thynne always followed his MS.; he may have collated some other one, as he professes in some cases to have done. MS. Ff. 1. 6, the Trinity MS., and Thynne’s principal MS. form one group, which we may call A; whilst the Fairfax and Harleian MSS. form a second group, which we may call B: and of these, group A is the better. The MSS. in group B sadly transpose the subject-matter, and give the poem in the following order; viz. lines 1–428, 669–716, 525–572, 477–524, 621–668, 573–620, 429–476, 717–856. The cause of this dislocation is simple enough. It means that the B-group MSS. were copied from one in which three leaves, each containing six stanzas, were misarranged. The three leaves were placed one within the other, to form a sheet, and were written upon. Then the outer pair of these leaves was turned inside out, whilst the second and third pair changed places. This can easily be verified by making a little book of six leaves and numbering each page with the numbers 429–452, 453–476, 477–500, 501–524, &c. (i. e. with 24 lines on a page, ending with 716), and then misarranging the leaves in the manner indicated.
The copy in MS. Harl. 372 was printed, just as it stands, by Dr. Furnivall, in his volume entitled Political, Religious, and Love Poems, published for the E. E. T. S. in 1866; at p. 52. The text is there, accordingly, misarranged as above stated.
There is another MS. copy, as has been said above, in MS. Trin. Coll. Camb. R. 3. 19; but I have not collated it. It seems to be closely related to MS. Ff., and to present no additional information. Not only do the MSS. of the A-group contain the text in the right order, but they frequently give the better readings. Thus, in l. 47, we have the odd line—‘My pen coud never have knowlege what it ment’; as given in MS. Ff., the Trinity MS., and Thynne. The word pen is altered to eyen in MSS. H. and F.; nevertheless, it is perfectly right, for the French original has plume; see the Note on the line. Other examples are given in the Notes.
In l. 174, MS. Ff. alone has the right reading, apert. I had made up my mind that this was the right reading even before consulting that MS., because the old reading—‘One wyse nor other, prevy nor perte’—is so extremely harsh. There is no sense in using the clipped form of the word when the true and usual form will scan so much better. See C. T., F 531, Ho. Fame, 717. The Trinity MS. gets out of the difficulty by a material alteration of the line, so that it there becomes—‘In any wyse, nether preuy nor perte.’
XVII. The Testament of Cresseid.
I do not suppose this was ever supposed to be Chaucer’s even by Thynne. Line 64—‘Quha wait gif all that Chaucer wrait was trew?’—must have settled the question from the first. No doubt Thynne added it simply as a pendant to Troilus, and he must have had a copy before him in the Northern dialect, which he modified as well as he could. Nevertheless, he gives us can for the Southern gan in l. 6, wrate for wrote in l. 64, and has many similar Northern forms.
The poem was printed at Edinburgh in 1593 with the author’s name. The title is as follows—¶The Testament of CRESSEID, Compylit be M. Robert Henrysone, Sculemai-ster in Dunfermeling. Imprentit at Edin = burgh be Henrie Charteris. md. xciii. The text is in 4to, ten leaves, black-letter. Only one copy has been preserved, which is now in the British Museum; but it was reprinted page for page in the volume presented by Mr. Chalmers to the Bannatyne Club in 1824. The present edition is from this reprint, with very few modifications, such as sh for sch, and final -y for final -ie in immaterial cases. All other modifications are accounted for in the footnotes below. No early MS. copy is known; there was once a copy in the Asloan MS., but the leaves containing it are lost.
Thynne’s print must have been a good deal altered from the original, to make it more intelligible. It is odd to find him altering quhisling (20) to whiskyng, and ringand (144) to tynkyng. I note all Thynne’s variations that are of any interest. He must have been much puzzled by aneuch in (which he seems to have regarded as one word and as a past participle) before he turned it into enewed (110). But in some cases Thynne gives us real help, as I will now point out.
In l. 48, E. (the Edinburgh edition) has—‘Quhill Esperus reioisit him agane’; where Esperus gives no good sense. But Thynne prints esperous, which at once suggests esperans (hope), as opposed to wanhope in the preceding line.
In l. 155, E. has frosnit, which Laing interprets ‘frozen,’ as if the pp. of freeze could have both a strong and weak pp. suffix at the same moment! But Thynne has frounsed, evidently put for fronsit, as used elsewhere by Henryson in The Fable of the Paddock and the Mous, l. 43:—‘The Mous beheld unto her fronsit face.’ A printer’s error of sn for ns is not surprising.
In ll. 164, 178, 260, E. has gyis or gyse; but Thynne has preserved the true Chaucerian word gyte, which the printer evidently did not understand. It is true that in l. 164 he turned it into gate; but when he found it recur, he let it alone.
In l. 205, E. has upricht (!); which Thynne corrects.
In l. 290, Th. has iniure for iniurie, and I think he is right, though I have let injurie stand; iniure is Chaucer’s form (Troil. iii. 1018), and it suits the scansion better.
In l. 382, Thynne corrects Unto to To; and in l. 386, has Beuer for bawar. In l. 441, he has syder for ceder. In l. 501, he has plyte for plye, where a letter may have dropped out in E.; but see the note (p. 525). In l. 590, his reading tokenyng suggests that takning (as in E.) should be takining or takinning; the line will then scan. The contracted form taikning occurs, however, in l. 232, where the word is less emphatic.
Note further, that in l. 216 the original must have had Philogoney (see the Note). This appears in the astonishing forms Philologie (E.), and Philologee (Th.). Laing prints Phlegonie, which will neither scan nor rime, without any hint that he is departing from his exemplar. All his corrections are made silently, so that one cannot tell where they occur without reference to the original.
For further information concerning Robert Henryson, schoolmaster of Dunfermline, see the preface to David Laing’s edition of The Poems and Fables of Robert Henryson, Edinburgh, 1865; and Morley’s English Writers, 1890, vol. vi. p. 250. He is supposed to have been born about 1425, and to have died about 1500. On Sept. 10, 1462, the Venerable Master Robert Henrysone, Licentiate in Arts and Bachelor in Decrees, was incorporated or admitted a member of the newly founded university of Glasgow; and he is known to have been a notary public. Perhaps The Testament of Cresseid was written about 1460. It is a rather mature performance, and is his best piece. Perhaps it is the best piece in the present volume.
XVIII. The Cuckoo and the Nightingale.
Of this piece there are several MSS., which fall into two main classes: (A)—Ff. (Ff. 1. 6, in the Camb. Univ. Library); T. (Tanner 346); Th. (MS. used by Thynne, closely allied to T.); and (B)—F. (Fairfax 16), and B. (Bodley 638), which are closely allied. There is also S. (Selden, B. 24) imperfect, which has readings of its own1 . Of these groups, A is the better, and MS. Ff. is, in some respects, the most important. Nevertheless, MS. Ff. has never been collated hitherto, so that I am able to give a somewhat improved text. For example, in all former editions lines 12 and 13 are transposed. In l. 180, the reading haire (as in Bell and Morris) is somewhat comic (see the Note). In l. 203, MS. Ff. restores the true reading hit, i. e. hitteth. Bell, by some accident, omits the stanza in which this word occurs. In vol. i. p. 39, I took occasion to complain of the riming of now with rescow-e in ll. 228–9, according to Bell. The right reading, however, is not now, but avow-e, which rimes well enough. MS. Selden has allowe, which Morris follows, though it is clearly inferior and is unsupported. On the other hand, MS. Selden correctly, and alone, has leve in l. 237; but the confusion between e and o is endless, so that the false reading loue creates no surprise.
This poem is very interesting, and has deservedly been a favourite one. It is therefore a great pleasure to me to have found the author’s name. This is given at the end of the poem in MS. Ff. (the best MS., but hitherto neglected), where we find, in firm distinct letters, in the same handwriting as the poem itself, the remark—Explicit Clanvowe. Remembering that the true title of the poem is ‘The Book of Cupid, God of Love2 ,’ I applied to Dr. Furnivall, asking him if he had met with the name. He at once referred me to his preface to Hoccleve’s Works, p. x, where Sir John Clanvowe and Thomas Hoccleve are both mentioned in the same document (about ad 1385: But Sir John Clanvowe died in 1391, and therefore could not have imitated the title of Hoccleve’s poem, which was not written till 1402. Our poet was probably Sir Thomas Clanvowe, concerning whom several particulars are known, and who must have been a well-known personage at the courts of Richard II and Henry IV. We learn from Wylie’s Hist. of Henry IV, vol. iii. p. 261, that he was one of twenty-five knights who accompanied John Beaufort (son of John of Gaunt) to Barbary in 1390. This Sir Thomas favoured the opinions of the Lollards, but was nevertheless a friend of ‘Prince Hal,’ at the time when the prince was still friendly to freethinkers. He seems to have accompanied the prince in the mountains of Wales; see Wylie, as above, iii. 333. In 1401, he is mentioned as being one of ‘vi Chivalers’ in the list of esquires who were summoned to a council by king Henry IV; see the Acts of the Privy Council, ed. Nicolas, temp. Henry IV, p. 162. (It may be noted that Sir John Clanvowe was a witness, in 1385, to the will of the widow of the Black Prince; see Testamenta Vetusta, ed. Nicolas.)
§ 50. It now becomes easy to explain the reference to the queen at Woodstock, which has never yet been accounted for. The poem begins with the words—‘The God of Love! Ah benedicite,’ quoted from Chaucer, the title of the poem being ‘The Book of Cupid, God of Love,’ as has been said; and this title was imitated from Hoccleve’s poem of 1402. But there was no queen of England after Henry’s accession till Feb. 7, 1403, when the king married Joan of Navarre; and it was she who held as a part of her dower the manor and park of Woodstock; see Wylie, as above, ii. 284. Hence the following hypothesis will suit the facts—namely, that the poem, imitating Chaucer’s manner, and having a title imitated from Hoccleve’s poem of 1402, was written by Sir Thomas Clanvowe, who held Lollard opinions1 and was a friend (at one time) of Henry of Monmouth. And it was addressed to Joan of Navarre, Henry’s stepmother, queen of England from 1403 to 1413, who held as a part of her dower the manor of Woodstock. If so, we should expect it to have been written before April, 1410, when Thomas Badby, the Lollard, was executed in the presence of the prince of Wales. Further, as it was probably written early rather than late in this period, I should be inclined to date it in 1403; possibly in May, as it relates so much to the time of spring.
I may add that the Clanvowes were a Herefordshire family, from the neighbourhood of Wigmore. The only remarkable non-Chaucerian word in the poem is the verb greden, to cry out (A. S. grǣdan); a word found in many dialects, and used by Layamon, Robert of Gloucester, Langland, and Hoccleve.
The poem is written in a light and pleasing style, which Wordsworth has fairly reproduced. The final -e is suppressed in assay-e (l. 52). The non-Chaucerian rimes are few, viz. gren-e and sen-e as riming with been (61–5), shewing that Clanvowe cut down those dissyllables to green and seen. And further, the forms ron and mon are employed, in order to rime with upon (81–5); whereas Chaucer only has the form man; whilst of ran I remember no example at the end of a line1 .
§ 51. But there is one point about Clanvowe’s verse which renders it, for the fifteenth century, quite unique. In imitating Chaucer’s use of the final -e, he employs this suffix with unprecedented freedom, and rather avoids than seeks elision. This gives quite a distinctive character to his versification, and is very noticeable when attention has once been drawn to it. If, for example, we compare it with the Parliament of Foules, which it most resembles in general character, we find the following results. If, in the Cuckoo and Nightingale, we observe the first 21 lines, we shall find (even if we omit the example of hy-e in l. 4, and all the examples of final -e at the end of a line) the following clear examples of its use:—low-e, lyk-e, hard-e, sek-e, hol-e (twice), mak-e, hav-e, wys-e, proud-e, grev-e, trew-e, hert-e, i. e. 13 examples, besides the 5 examples of final -en in mak-en, bind-en, unbind-en, bound-en, destroy-en. But in the first 21 lines of the Parliament of Foules there are only 2 examples of the final -e in the middle of a line, viz. lust-e (15) and long-e (21), whilst of the final -en there is none. The difference between 18 and 2 must strike even the most inexperienced reader, when it is once brought under his notice. However, it is an extreme case.
Yet again, if the last 21 lines in the Cuckoo be compared with ll. 659–679 of the Parliament (being the last 21 lines, if we dismiss the roundel and the stanza that follows it), we find in the former 7 examples of final -e and 2 of -en, or 9 in all, whilst in Chaucer there are 7 of final -e, and 1 of -en, or 8 in all; and this also happens to be an extreme case in the other direction, owing to the occurrence in the former poem of the words egle, maple, and chambre, which I have not taken into account.
This suggests that, to make sure, we must compare much longer passages. In the whole of the Cuckoo, I make about 120 such cases of final -e, and 23 such cases of final -en, or 143 in all. In 290 lines of the Parliament of Foules, I make about 68 and 19 such cases respectively; or about 87 in all. Now the difference between 143 and 87 is surely very marked.
The cause of this result is obvious, viz. that Chaucer makes a more frequent use of elision. In the first 21 lines of the Parl. of Foules, we find elisions of men’, sor’, wak’, oft’ (twice), red’ (twice), spek’, fast’, radd’; i. e. 10 examples; added to which, Chaucer has joy(e), love, knowe, usage, boke, at the cæsura, and suppresses the e in write (written). But in ll. 1- 1, Clanvowe has (in addition to love, make, lowe, make (twice), gladde at the cæsura) only 3 examples of true elision, viz. fressh’, tell’, and mak’ (15).
And further, we seldom find two examples of the use of the final -e in the same line in Chaucer. I do not observe any instance, in the Parl. of Foules, till we arrive at l. 94:—‘Took rest that mad-e me to slep-e faste.’ But in Clanvowe they are fairly common. Examples are: Of seke-e folk ful hol-e (7); For every trew-e gentil hert-e free (21); That any hert-e shuld-e slepy be (44); I went-e forth alon-e bold-e-ly (59); They coud-e that servyc-e al by rote (71); and the like. In l. 73, we have even three examples in one line; Some song-e loud-e, as they hadd-e playned. From all of which it appears that the critics who have assigned the Cuckoo to Chaucer have taken no pains whatever to check their opinion by any sort of analysis. They have trusted to their own mere opinion, without looking the facts in the face.
§ 52. I will point out yet one more very striking difference. We know that Chaucer sometimes employs headless lines, such as: Twénty bókes át his béddes héed. But he does so sparingly, especially in his Minor Poems. But in the Cuckoo, they are not uncommon; see, e. g. lines 16, 50, 72, 100, 116, 118, 146, 152, 153, 154, 155, 156, 157, 158, 161, 166, 205, 232, 242, 252, 261, 265, 268. It is true that, in Morris’s edition, lines 72, 146, 153, 161, and 205 are slightly altered; but in no case can I find that the alteration is authorised. And even then, this does not get rid of the five consecutive examples in ll. 154–158, which cannot be explained away. Once more, I repeat, the critics have failed to use their powers of observation.
I think the poem may still be admired, even if it be allowed that Clanvowe wrote it some three years after Chaucer’s death.
§ 53. At any rate, it was admired by so good a judge of poetry as John Milton, who of course possessed a copy of it in the volume which was so pleasantly called ‘The Works of Chaucer.’ That his famous sonnet ‘To the Nightingale’ owed something to Clanvowe, I cannot doubt. ‘Thou with fresh hope the lover’s heart dost fill’ is, in part, the older poet’s theme; see ll. 1–30, 149–155, 191–192. Even his first line reminds one of ll. 77, 288. If Milton writes of May, so does Clanvowe; see ll. 20, 23, 34, 55, 70, 230, 235, 242; note especially l. 230. But the real point of contact is in the lines—
With which compare:—
XIX. Envoy to Alison.
This piece has always hitherto been printed without any title, and is made to follow The Cuckoo and the Nightingale, as if there were some sort of connection between them. This is probably because it happens to follow that poem in the Fairfax and Tanner MSS., and probably did so in the MS. used by Thynne, which has a striking resemblance to the Tanner MS. However, the poem is entirely absent from the Cambridge, Selden, and Bodley MSS., proving that there is no connection with the preceding poem, from which it differs very widely in style, in language, and in metre.
I call it an Envoy to Alison. For first, it is an Envoy1 , as it refers to the author’s ‘lewd book,’ which it recommends to a lady. What the book is, no one can say; but it may safely be conjectured that it was of no great value. And secondly, the lady’s name was Alison, as shewn by the acrostic in lines 22–27; and the author has recourse to almost ludicrous efforts, in order to secure the first four letters of the name.
Briefly, it is a very poor piece; and my chief object in reprinting it is to shew how unworthy it is of Clanvowe, not to mention Chaucer. We have no right even to assign it to Lydgate. And its date may be later than 1450.
XX. The Flower and the Leaf.
This piece many ‘critics’ would assign to Chaucer, merely because they like it. This may be sentiment, but it is not criticism; and, after all, a desire to arrive at the truth should be of more weight with us than indulgence in ignorant credulity.
It is of some consequence to learn, first of all, that it is hardly possible to separate this piece from the next. The authoress of one was the authoress of the other. That The Assembly of Ladies is longer and duller, and has not held its own in popular estimation, is no sound argument to the contrary; for it is only partially true. Between the first eleven stanzas of the Assembly and the first eleven stanzas of the present poem, there is a strong general resemblance, and not much to choose. Other stanzas of the Assembly that are well up to the standard of the Flower will be found in lines 456–490, 511–539. The reason of the general inferiority of the Assembly lies chiefly in the choice of the subject; it was meant to interest some medieval household, but it gave small scope for retaining the reader’s attention, and must be held to be a failure.
The links connecting these poems are so numerous that I must begin by asking the reader to let me denote The Flower and the Leaf by the letter F (= Flower), and The Assembly of Ladies by the letter A (= Assembly).
The first point is that (with the sole exception of the Nutbrown Maid) no English poems exist, as far as I remember, written previously to 1500, and purporting to be written by a woman. In the case of F. and A., this is assumed throughout. When the author of F. salutes a certain fair lady, the lady replies—‘My doughter, gramercy’; 462. And again she says, ‘My fair doughter’; 467, 500, 547. The author of A. says she was one of five ladies; 5–7, 407. Again, she was a woman; 18. The author of A. and some other ladies salute Lady Countenance, who in reply says ‘fair sisters’; 370. Again, she and others salute a lady-chamberlain, who replies by calling them ‘sisters’; 450; &c.
The poem A. is supposed to be an account of a dream, told by the authoress to a gentleman; with the exception of this gentleman, all the characters of the poem are ladies; and hence its title. The poem F. is not quite so exclusive, but it comes very near it; all the principal characters are ladies, and the chief personages are queens, viz. the queen of the Leaf and the queen of the Flower. The ‘world of ladies’ in l. 137 take precedence of the Nine Worthies, who were merely men. A recognition of this fact makes the whole poem much clearer.
But the most characteristic thing is the continual reference to colours, dresses, ornaments, and decorations. In F., we have descriptions of, or references to, white surcoats, velvet, seams, emeralds, purfils, colours, sleeves, trains, pearls, diamonds, a fret of gold, chaplets of leaves, chaplets of woodbine, chaplets of agnus-castus, a crown of gold, thundering trumpets, the treasury of Prester John, white cloaks, chaplets of oak, banners of Tartarysilk, more pearls, collars, escutcheons, kings-of-arms, cloaks of white cloth, crowns set with pearls, rubies, sapphires, and diamonds. Then there is a company all clad in one suit (or livery); heralds and poursuivants, more chaplets and escutcheons, men in armour with cloth of gold and horse-trappings, with bosses on their bridles and peitrels—it is surely needless to go on, though we have only arrived at l. 246.
In A., we have much the same sort of thing all over again, though it does not set in before l. 83. Then we meet with blue colours, an embroidered gown, and a purfil with a device. After a respite, we begin again at l. 206—‘Her gown was blue’; and the lady wore a French motto. Diligence tells the authoress that she looks well in her new blue gown (259). At l. 305, there is another blue gown, furred with gray, with a motto on the sleeve; and there are plenty more mottoes to follow. At l. 451 we come to a paved floor, and walls made of beryl and crystal, engraved with stories; next, a well-apparelled chair or throne, on five stages, wrought of ‘cassidony,’ with four pommels of gold, and set with sapphires; a cloth of estate, wrought with the needle (486); cloth of gold (521); a blue gown, with sleeves wrought tabard-wise, of which the collar and the vent (slit in front of the neck) are described as being like ermine; it was couched with great pearls, powdered with diamonds, and had sleeves and purfils; then we come to rubies, enamel, a great balas-ruby, and more of the same kind. Again, it is useless to go further. Surely these descriptions of seams, and collars, and sleeves, are due to a woman.
The likeness comes out remarkably in two parallel stanzas. One of them is from F. 148, and the other from A. 526.
I wonder which the reader prefers; for myself, I have really no choice.
For I do not see how to choose between such lines as these following:—
Besides these striking coincidences in whole lines, there are a large number of phrases and endings of lines that are common to the two poems; such as—the springing of the day, F. 25, A. 218; Which, as me thought, F. 36, A. 50; wel y-wrought, F. 49, A. 165; by mesure, F. 58, A. 81; I you ensure, F. 60, 287, A. 52, 199; in this wyse, F. 98, A. 589; I sat me doun, F. 118, A. 77; oon and oon, F. 144, A. 368, 543, 710; by and by, F. 59, 146, A. 87; withouten fail, F. 369, A. 567, 646; herself aloon, F. 458, A. 84; ful demure, F. 459, A. 82; to put in wryting, F. 589, A. 664; and others that are printed out in the Notes.
Very characteristic of female authorship is the remark that the ladies vied with each other as to which looked the best; a remark which occurs in both poems; see F. 188, A. 384.
A construction common to both poems is the use of very with an adjective, a construction used by Lydgate, but not by Chaucer; examples are very rede, F. 35; very good, F. 10, 315; very round, A. 479.
It is tedious to enumerate how much these poems have in common. They open in a similar way, F. with the description of a grove, A. with the description of a garden with a maze. In the eighth stanza of F., we come to ‘a herber that benched was’; and in the seventh stanza of A. we come to a similar ‘herber, mad with benches’; both from The Legend of Good Women.
In F., the authoress has a waking vision of ‘a world of ladies’ (137); in A. she sees in a dream the ‘assembly of ladies.’ In both, she sees an abundance of dresses, and gems, and bright colours. Both introduce several scraps of French. In both, the authoress has interviews with allegorical or visionary personages, who address her either as daughter or sister. I have little doubt that the careful reader will discover more points of resemblance for himself.
§ 56. The chief appreciable difference between the two poems is that F. was probably written considerably earlier than A. This appears from the more frequent use of the final -e, which the authoress occasionally uses as an archaic embellishment, though she frequently forgets all about it for many stanzas together. In the former poem (F.) there seem to be about 50 examples, whilst in the latter (A.) there are hardly 101 . In almost every case, it is correctly used, owing, no doubt, to tradition or to a perusal of older poetry. The most important cases are the abundant ones in which a final e is omitted where Chaucer would inevitably have inserted it. For example, such a line as F. 195—From the same grove, where the ladyes come out—would become, in Chaucer—From the sam-ë grov-ë wher the ladyes come out—giving at least twelve syllables in the line. The examples of the omission of final -e, where such omission makes a difference to the scansion, are not very numerous, because many such come before a vowel (where they might be elided) or at the cæsura (where they might be tolerated). Still we may note such a case as green in l. 109 where Chaucer would have written gren-e, giving a fresh gren-ë laurer-tree, to the ruin of the scansion. Similar offences against Chaucer’s usage are herd for herd-e, 128 (cf. 191); spek’ for spek-e, 140; al for all-e, plural, 165; sight for sight-e, 174; lyf for lyv-e, 182; sam’ for sam-e, 195; the tenth for the tenth-e, 203; gret for gret-e, plural, 214, 225; red for red-e, 242; the worst for the worst-e, 255; yed’ for yed-e, 295, 301; fast for fast-e, 304; rejoice for rejoy-se, 313; noise for nois-e, 353; sonn’ for son-ne, 355, 408; hir fresh for hir fres-she, 357; laft for laft-e, pt. t., 364; their greet for hir gret-e, 377; sick for sek-e, 410; about for about-e, 411; to soup for to soup-e, 417; without for without-e, 423, 549; the hool for the hol-e, 437; to know for to know-e, 453; past for pass-ede or past-e, 465; My fair for My fair-e, vocative, 467, 500; to tel for to tell-e, 495; nin(e) for nyn-e, 502; imagin(e) for imagin-en, 525; they last for they last-e, 562; thy rud(e) for thy rud-e, 595. Those who believe that The Flower and the Leaf was written by Chaucer will have to explain away every one of these cases; and when they have done so, there is more to be said.
§ 57. For it is well known that such a word as sweetly (96) was trisyllabic, as swet-e-ly, in Chaucer; C. T., A 221. Similarly, our authoress has trewly for trew-e-ly1 , 130; richly for rich-e-ly, 169; woodbind for wod-e-bind-e, 485. Similar is ointments for oin-e-ments, 409. And, moreover, our authoress differs from Chaucer as to other points of grammar. Thus she has Forshronk as a strong pp., 358, which ought to be forshronk-en or forshronk-e. Still more marked is her use of rood as the plural of the past tense, 449, 454, where Chaucer has rid-en: and her use of began as a plural, 385, where Chaucer has bigonn-e. Can these things be explained away also? If so, there is more to be said.
§ 58. All the above examples have been made out, without so much as looking at the rimes. But the rimes are much harder to explain away, where they differ from Chaucer’s. Here are a few specimens.
Pas-se rimes with was, 27; so it must have been cut down to pas! Similarly, hew-e has become hew; for it rimes with grew, sing., 32. Sight-e has become sight, to rime with wight, 37. Brought should rather be brought-e, but it rimes with wrought, 48. Similar difficulties occur in peyn (for peyn-e), r. w. seyn (62); syd’ for syd-e, r. w. espy’d for espy-ed, 72; eet, r. w. sweet for swet-e, 90; not’ for not-e, r. w. sot, 99; busily, r. w. aspy’ for aspy-e, 106; trewly, r. w. armony’ for armony-e, 130; orient (oriant?), r. w. want for want-e, 148; person for person-e, r. w. everichon, 167. It is tedious to go on; let the critic finish the list, if he knows how to do it. If not, let him be humble. For there is more to come.
§ 59. Besides the grammar, there is yet the pronunciation to be considered; and here comes in the greatest difficulty of all. For, in ll. 86–89, we have the unusual rime of tree and be with pretily. This so staggered Dr. Morris, that he was induced to print the last word as pretile; which raises the difficulty without explaining it. For the explanation, the reader should consult the excellent dissertation by Dr. Curtis on The Romance of Clariodus (Halle, 1894), p. 56, § 187. He remarks that a rime of this character gives evidence of the transition of M. E. long close e to (Italian) long i [as in the change from A. S. me to mod. E. me], and adds: ‘this change became general in the fifteenth century, but had begun in some dialects at an earlier date.’ Its occurrence in the present poem is a strong indication that it is later than the year 1400, and effectually disposes of any supposed connection with Midland poems of the fourteenth century.
Both poems are remarkably free from classical allusions and from references to such medieval authors as are freely quoted by Chaucer. There is nothing to shew that the authoress was acquainted with Latin, though she knew French, especially the French of songs and mottoes.
The Flower and the Leaf is chiefly famous for having been versified by Dryden. The version is a free one, in a manner all his own, and is finer than the original, which can hardly be said of his ‘versions’ of Palamon and Arcite and The Cock and the Fox. It is doubtless from this version that many critics have formed exaggerated ideas of the poem’s value; otherwise, it is difficult to understand for what reasons it was considered worthy of so great a master as Geoffrey Chaucer.
§ 60. It will be seen, from the Notes, that the authoress was well acquainted with the Prologue to The Legend of Good Women; and it can hardly be questioned that she took the main idea of the poem from that source, especially ll. 188–194 of the later text. At the same time she was well acquainted with Gower’s lines on the same subject, in the Conf. Amantis, iii. 357, 358; see vol. iii. pp. xlii, 297. Gower has:—
XXI. The Assembly of Ladies.
This has already been discussed, in some measure, in considering the preceding poem. Both pieces were written by the same authoress; but the former is the more sprightly and probably the earlier. With the exception of the unusual rime of tree with pretily (discussed above), nearly all the peculiarities of the preceding poem occur here also. The Chaucerian final -e appears now and then, as in commaund-e (probably plural), 203; red-e, 215; countenanc-e, 295; pen-ne [or else seyd-e], 307; chayr-e, 476; tak-e, 565; trouth-e, 647; liv-e, 672; sem-e (pr. s. subj.), 696. But it is usually dropped, as in The fresh for The fres-she, 2; &c. In l. 11, Thynne prints fantasyse for fantasyes; for it obviously rimes with gyse (monosyllabic); cf. 533–535. Hew-e and new-e are cut down to hew and new, to rime with knew, 67. Bold rimes with told, clipped form of told-e, 94; and so on. So, again, trewly appears in place of Chaucer’s trew-e-ly, 488. It is needless to pursue the subject.
The description of the maze and the arbour, in ll. 29–70, is good. Another pleasing passage is that contained in ll. 449–497; and the description of a lady’s dress in ll. 519–539. As for the lady herself—
‘It was a world to loke on her visage.’
There is a most characteristic touch of a female writer in lines 253–254:—
To attribute such a question as ‘how will my dress do’ to a male writer is a little too dramatic for a mere narrative poem.
The two MSS. have now been collated for the first time and afford some important corrections, of which l. 61 presents remarkable instances. MS. Addit. 34360 is of some value.
§ 62. A considerable part of The Assembly of Ladies that is now of little interest may have been much appreciated at the time, as having reference to the ordering of a large medieval household, with its chambers, parlours, bay-windows, and galleries, carefully kept in good order by the various officers and servants; such as Perseverance the usher, Countenance the porter, Discretion the chief purveyor, Acquaintance the harbinger, Largesse the steward, Bel-cheer the marshal of the hall, Remembrance the chamberlain, and the rest. The authoress must have been perfectly familiar with spectacles and pageants and all the amusements of the court; but she was too humble to aspire to wear a motto.
We must not forget that the period of the Wars of the Roses, especially from 1455 to 1471, was one during which the composition of these poems was hardly possible. It is obviously very difficult to assign a date to them; perhaps they may be referred to the last quarter of the fifteenth century. We must not put them too late, because The Assembly exists in MSS. that seem to be as old as that period.
XXII. A Goodly Balade.
For this poem there is but one authority, viz. Thynne’s edition of 1532. He calls it ‘A goodly balade of Chaucer’; but it is manifestly Lydgate’s. Moreover, it is really a triple Balade, with an Envoy, on the model of Chaucer’s Fortune and Compleynt of Venus; only it has seven-line stanzas instead of stanzas of eight lines. An inspection of Thynne’s volume shews that it was inserted to fill a gap, viz. a blank page at the back of the concluding lines of The Legend of Good Women, so that the translation of Boethius might commence on a new leaf.
It is obvious that the third stanza of the second Balade was missing in Thynne’s MS. He did not leave it out for lack of space; for there is plenty of room on his page.
That it is not Chaucer’s appears from the first Balade, where the use of the monosyllables shal and smal in ll. 8 and 10 necessitates the use of the clipped forms al for al-le, cal for cal-le, apal for apal-le, and befal for befal-le. Moreover, the whole style of it suggests Lydgate, and does not suggest Chaucer.
The sixth stanza probably began with the letter D; in which case, the initial letters of the stanzas give us M, M, M; D, D, D; J, C, Q. And, as it was evidently addressed to a lady named Margaret (see the Notes), we seem to see here Margaret, Dame Jacques. The name of Robert Jacques occurs in the Writs of Parliament; Bardsley’s English Surnames, 2nd ed., p. 565. Of course this is a guess which it is easy to deride; but it is very difficult to account otherwise for the introduction of the letters J, C, Q in the third Balade; yet it was evidently intentional, for much force was employed to achieve the result. To make the first stanza begin with J, recourse is had to French; and the other two stanzas both begin with inverted clauses.
XXIII. Go forth, King.
I give this from Thynne’s first edition; but add the Latin lines from the copy printed in Schick’s edition of The Temple of Glas, at p. 68. His text is from that printed by Wynken de Worde about 1498, collated with the second and third prints from the same press at somewhat later dates, and a still later copy printed by Berthelet.
The only difference between Thynne’s text and that given by Schick is that Wynken de Worde printed ar in the last line where Thynne has printed be. Schick also notes that ‘the Chaucer-Prints of 1561 and 1598 omit thou’ in l. 9; and I find that it is also omitted in the third edition (undated, about 1550). But it occurs in the edition of 1532, all the same; shewing that the later reprints cannot always be relied upon.
I have already said (vol. i. p. 40)—‘Surely it must be Lydgate’s.’ For it exhibits his love for ‘catalogues,’ and presents his peculiarities of metre. Dr. Schick agrees with this ascription, and points out that its appearance in the four prints above-mentioned, in all of which it is annexed to Lydgate’s Temple of Glas, tends to strengthen my supposition. I think this may be taken as removing all doubt on the subject.
§ 65. I beg leave to quote here Schick’s excellent remarks upon the poem itself.
‘There are similar pieces to these Duodecim Abusiones in earlier English literature (see ten Brink, Geschichte der englischen Literatur, i. 268, and note).1 The “twelf unþēawas” existed also in Old-English; a homily on them is printed in Morris, Old Eng. Homilies, pp. 101–1192 . It is based on the Latin Homily “De octo viciis et de duodecim abusivis huius saeculi,” attributed to St. Cyprian or St. Patrick; see Dietrich in Niedner’s Zeitschrift für historische Theologie, 1855, p. 518; Wanley’s Catalogus, passim (cf. the Index sub voce Patrick). In the Middle-English period we meet again with more or less of these “Abusions”; see Morris, Old Eng. Miscellany, p. 185 (11 Abusions); Furnivall, Early Eng. Poems, Berlin, 1862 (Phil. Soc.), p. 161; “Five Evil Things,” Wright and Halliwell, Reliquiae Antiquae, i. 316, and ii. 14.’
XXIV. The Court of Love.
This piece was first printed by Stowe in 1561. Stowe happened to have access to a MS. which was really a miscellaneous collection of Middle-English pieces of various dates; and he proceeded to print them as being ‘certaine workes of Geffray Chauser,’ without paying any regard to their contents or style. In vol. i. pp. 33, 34, I give a list of his additions, numbered 42–603 . By good fortune, the very MS. in question is now in Trinity College Library, marked R. 3. 19. We can thus tell that he was indebted to it for the pieces numbered 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 53, 54, 55, 56, and 59. These eleven pieces are all alike remarkable for being non-Chaucerian; indeed, no. 56 is certainly Lydgate’s. But it has so happened that no. 59, or The Court of Love, being the best of these pieces, was on that account ‘attributed’ to Chaucer, whilst the others were unhesitatingly rejected. And it happened on this wise.
§ 67. After Tyrwhitt had edited the Canterbury Tales afresh, it occurred to him to compile a Glossary. He rightly reasoned that the Glossary would be strengthened and made more correct if he included in it all the harder words found in the whole of Chaucer’s Works, instead of limiting the vocabulary to words which occur in the Canterbury Tales only. For this purpose, he proceeded to draw up a List of what he conceived to be Chaucer’s genuine works; and we must remember that the only process open to him was to consider all the old editions, and reject such as he conceived to be spurious. Hence his List is not really a list of genuine works, but one made by striking out from all previous lists the works which he knew to be spurious. A moment’s reflection will show that this is a very different thing.
Considering that he had only his own acumen to guide him, and had no access to linguistic or grammatical tests, still less to tests derived from an examination of rimes or phonology, it is wonderful how well he did his work. In the matter of rejection, he did not make a single mistake. His first revision was made by considering only the pieces numbered 1–41, in the first part of Stowe’s print (see vol. i. pp. 31–33); and he struck out the following, on the express ground that they were known to have been written by other authors; viz. nos. 4, 11, 13, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 33, and 401 .
Then he went over the list again, and struck out, on internal evidence, nos. 15, 18, 21, 22, and 322 .
Truly, here was a noble beginning! The only non-Chaucerian pieces which he failed to reject explicitly, among nos. 1–41, were the following, viz. 6 (A Goodly Balade of Chaucer), 17 (The Complaint of the Black Knight), 20 (The Testament of Love), 31 (The Cuckoo and the Nightingale), 38 (Go forth, King), and 41 (A Balade in Praise of Chaucer). Of course he rejected the last of these, but it was not worth his while to say so; and, in the same way, he tacitly rejected or ignored nos. 6, 30, and 38. Hence it was that nos. 6, 30, 38, and 41 did not appear in Moxon’s Chaucer, and even no. 32 was carefully excluded. In his final list, out of nos. 1–41, Tyrwhitt actually got rid of all but nos. 17, 20, and 31 (The Black Knight, The Testament of Love, and The Cuckoo).
As to the remaining articles, he accepted, among the longer pieces, nos. 59, 62, and 63, i. e. The Court of Love, Chaucer’s Dream, and The Flower and the Leaf; to which he added nos. 42, 43, and 60 (as to which there is no doubt), and also the Virelai (no. 50), on the slippery ground that it is a virelai (which, strictly speaking, it is not).
§ 68. One result of his investigations was that an edition of Chaucer was published by Moxon (my copy is dated 1855), in which all the poems were included which Tyrwhitt accepted, followed by Tyrwhitt’s Account of the Works of Chaucer.
Owing to the popularity of this edition, many scholars accepted the poems contained in it as being certainly genuine; but it is obvious that this was a very risky thing to do, in the absence of external evidence; especially when it is remembered that Tyrwhitt merely wanted to illustrate his glossary to the Canterbury Tales by adding words from other texts. The idea of drawing up a canon by the process of striking out from luxuriant lists the names of pieces that are obviously spurious, is one that should never have found acceptance.
§ 69. There is only one correct method of drawing up a canon of genuine works, viz. that adopted by Mr. Henry Bradshaw, formerly our Cambridge University Librarian. It is simple enough, viz. to take a clean sheet of paper, and enter upon it, first of all, the names of all the pieces that are admittedly genuine; and then to see if it can fairly be augmented by adding such pieces as have reasonable evidence in their favour. In making a list of this character, The Court of Love has no claim to be considered at all, as I fully proved about twenty years ago1 ; and there is an end of the matter. The MS. copy is in a hand of the sixteenth century2 , and there is no internal evidence to suggest an earlier date.
§ 70. Our task is to determine what it really is, and what can be made of it as it stands. We learn from the author that he was ‘a clerk of Cambridge’ (913), which we may readily accept. Beyond this, there is nothing but internal evidence; but of this there is much. That our ‘clerk’ had read Ovid and Maximian appears from the Notes; he even seems to have imbibed something of ‘the new learning,’ as he makes up the names Philogenet and Philo-bone by help of a Greek adjective1 . Dr. Schick has made it clear that he was well acquainted with Lydgate’s Temple of Glas, which he imitates freely; see Schick’s edition of that poem, p. cxxix. Mr. J. T. T. Brown, in his criticism on ‘The Authorship of the Kingis Quair,’ Glasgow, 1896, draws many parallels between The Court of Love and The Kingis Quair, and concludes that The Kingis Quair was indebted to The Court of Love; but it is tolerably certain that the indebtedness was in the other direction. For, in The Kingis Quair, some knowledge of the true use of Chaucer’s final -e is still exhibited, even in a Northern poem, whilst in The Court of Love, it is almost altogether dead, though the poem is in the Midland dialect. I shall presently shew that our clerk, whilst very nearly ignoring the final -e, occasionally employs the final -en; but this he does in a way which clearly shews that he did not understand when to use it aright, a fact which is highly significant.
I am much indebted to my friend Professor Hales for pointing out another very cogent argument. He draws attention to the numerous instances in which the author of The Court of Love fails to end a stanza with a stop. There is no stop, for example, at the end of ll. 14, 567, 672, 693, 700, 763, 826, 1064, 1288; and only a slight pause at the end of ll. 28, 49, 70, 84, 189, 231, 259, 280, 371, 406, 427, &c. In Chaucer’s Parlement of Foules, on the other hand, there is but one stanza without a stop at the end, viz. at l. 280; and but one with a slight pause, viz. at l. 154. The difference between these results is very marked, and would convince any mathematician. I should like to add that the same test disposes of the claims of The Flower and the Leaf to be considered as Chaucer’s; it has no stop at the end of ll. 7, 70, 154, 161, 196, 231, 280, 308, 392, 476, and has mere commas at the end of ll. 28, 49, 56, 98, 119, 224, 259, 329, 336, &c. In the Assembly of Ladies this departure from Chaucer’s usage has been nearly abandoned, which is one reason why that piece is in a less lively style.
§ 71. The sole MS. copy of The Court of Love belongs to the sixteenth century, and there is nothing to shew that the poem itself was of earlier date. Indeed, the language of it is remarkably like that of the former half of that century. If it be compared with Sackville’s famous ‘Induction,’ the metrical form of the stanzas is much the same; there is the same smoothness of rhythm and frequent modernness of form, quite different from the halting lines of Lydgate and Hawes. This raises a suggestion that the author may have learnt his metre from Scottish authors, such as Henryson and Dunbar; and it is surprising to find him employing such words as celsitude and pulcritude, and even riming them together, precisely as Dunbar did (ll. 611–613, and the note). One wonders where he learnt to use such words, if not from Scottish authors. Curiously enough, a single instance of the use of a Northern inflexion occurs in the phrase me thynkes, 874. And I admit the certainty that he consulted The Kingis Quair.
I have no space to discuss the matter at length; so shall content myself with saying that the impression produced upon me is that we have here the work of one of the heralds of the Elizabethan poetry, of the class to which belonged Nicholas Grimoald, Thomas Sackville, Lord Surrey, Lord Vaux, and Sir Francis Bryan. There must have been much fairly good poetry in the time of Henry VIII that is lost to us. Tottell’s Miscellany clearly shews this, as it is a mere selection of short pieces, which very nearly perished; but for this fortunate relic, we should not have known much about Wyat and Surrey. Sackville, when at Cambridge, acquired some distinction for Latin and English verse, but we possess none of it. However, Sackville was not the author of The Court of Love, seeing that it was published in a ‘Chaucer’ collection in 1561, long before his death.
The fact that our clerk was well acquainted with so many pieces by Chaucer, such as The Knight’s Tale, the Complaint of Pity, The Legend of Good Women, Troilus, and Anelida, besides giving us reminiscences of The Letter of Cupid, and (perhaps) of The Cuckoo and Nightingale, raises the suspicion that he had access to Thynne’s edition of 1532; and it is quite possible that this very book inspired him for his effort. This suspicion becomes almost a certainty if it be true that ll. 495–496 are borrowed from Rom. Rose, 2819–20; see note at p. 545. I can find no reason for dating the poem earlier than that year.
§ 72. However this may be, the chief point to notice is that his archaisms are affectations and not natural. He frequently dispenses with them altogether for whole stanzas at a time. When they occur, they are such as he found in Chaucer abundantly; I refer to such phrases as I-wis or y-wis; as blyve; the use of ich for I (661); besy cure (36); gan me dresse (113; cf. C. T., G 1271); by the feith I shall to god (131; cf. Troil. iii. 1649); and many more. He rarely uses the prefix i- or y- with the pp.; we find y-born (976), y-formed (1176), y-heried (592), y-sped (977), all in Chaucer; besides these, I only note y-fed (975), y-ravisshed (153), y-stope (281), the last being used in the sense of Chaucer’s stope. The most remarkable point is the almost total absence of the final -e; I only observe His len-ë body (1257); to serv-e (909); to dred-e (603); and in thilk-ë place (642); the last of which is a phrase (cf. R. R. 660). On the other hand, whilst thus abstaining from the use of the final -e, he makes large use of the longer and less usual suffix -en, which he employs with much skill to heighten the archaic effect. Thus we find the past participles holden, 62; growen, 182; yoven or yeven, 742; shapen, 816, 1354; blowen, 1240; the gerunds writen, 35; dressen, 179; byden, 321; semen, 607; seken, 838; worshippen, 1165, and a few others; the infinitives maken, 81; byden, 189; quyten, 327, &c., this being the commonest use; the present plurals wailen, 256; foten, 586; speden, 945, &c.; with the same form for the first person, as in wailen, 1113; bleden, 1153; and for the second person, as in waxen, 958; slepen, 999. Occasionally, this suffix is varied to -yn or -in, as in exilyn, v., 336; serchyn, v., 950; spakyn, pt. pl., 624; approchyn, pr. pl., 1212. This may be the scribe’s doing, and is consistent with East Anglian spelling.
But the artificial character of these endings is startlingly revealed when we find -en added in an impossible position, shewing that its true grammatical use was quite dead. Yet we find such examples. A serious error (hardly the scribe’s) occurs in l. 347: ‘Wheder that she me helden lefe or loth.’ Hold being a strong verb, the pt. t. is held; we could however justify the use of held-e, by supposing it to be the subjunctive mood, which suits the sense; but held-en (with -en) is the plural form, while she is singular; and really this use of -e in the subjunctive must have been long dead. In l. 684, we have a case that is even worse, viz. I kepen in no wyse; here the use of -en saves a hiatus, but the concord is false, like the Latin ego seruamus. In l. 928, the same thing recurs, though the scribe has altered greven into growen1 ; for this present tense is supposed to agree with I! A very clear case occurs in l. 725: For if by me this mater springen out; where the use of -en, again meant to save a hiatus, is excruciatingly wrong; for mater is singular! This cannot be the fault of the scribe. Other examples of false grammar are: thou serven, 290; thou sene, 499. But the climax is attained in l. 526, where we meet with thay kepten ben, where the -en is required for the metre. Kepten, as a past participle, is quite unique; let us drop a veil over this sad lapse, and say no more about it2 .
We may, however, fairly notice the constant use of the Northern forms their and thaim or theim, where Chaucer has hir and hem. The use of their and them (not thaim) was well established by the year 1500 in literary English, as, e.g., in Hawes and Skelton. Caxton uses all four forms, hem and them, her and their.
§ 73. I add a few notes, suggested by an examination of the rimes employed.
The final -e is not used at the end of a line. This is easily seen, if carefully looked into. Thus lette (1284) stands for let, for it rimes with y-set; grace and trespace rime with was, 163; kene rimes with bene, misspelling of been, 252; redde, put for red, rimes with spred, 302; yerde, put for yerd, rimes with aferd, 363; ende rimes with frend and fend, 530; and so on throughout3 . The following assonances occur: here, grene, 253; kepe, flete, 309; and the following rimes are imperfect: plaint, talent, consent, 716; frend, mynd, 1056; nonne (for non), boun, 1149; like (i long), stike (i short), 673; and perhaps hold, shuld4 , 408; hard, ferd, 151. Hard is repeated, 149, 151; 1275, 1277. A curious rime is that of length with thynketh, 1059; read thenk’th, and it is good enough. Noteworthy are these: thryse (for Chaucer’s thry-ës), wyse, 537; hens (for Chaucer’s henn-ës), eloquence, 935; desire, here, 961, 1301; eke, like, 561; tretesse (for Chaucer’s tretys), worthinesse, 28; write, aright, 13; sey (I saw), way, 692. In one place, he has discryve, 778, to rime with lyve; and in another discry (miswritten discryve, 97), to rime with high. As in Chaucer, he sometimes has dy, to die, riming with remedy, 340, and elsewhere dey, to rime with pray, 582; and again fire, fyr, riming with hyre, 883, or with desire, 1285, and at another time the Kentish form fere (borrowed from Chaucer), with the same sense, r. w. y-fere, 622. The most curious forms are those for ‘eye.’ When it rimes with degree, 132, see, 768, we seem to have the Northern form ee or e; but elsewhere it rimes with besily, 299, pretily, 419, wounderly, 695, dispitously, 1139, or with I, 282; and the plural yen (=y’n) rimes with lyne, 135. The sounds represented by ē and y obviously afford permissible rimes; that the sounds were not identical appears from ll. 1051–1055, which end with me, remedy, be, dy, company consecutively.
§ 74. Perhaps an easier way for enabling a learner to recognise the peculiarities of The Court of Love, and the difference of its language from Chaucer, is to translate some lines of it into Chaucerian English. The effect upon the metre is startling.
Very many more such examples may be given. Or take the following; Chaucer has (L. G. W. 476):—
For Love ne wól nat countrepleted be.
And this is how it reappears in C. L. 429:—
For Love wil not be counterpleted, indede!
Here the melody of the line is completely spoilt.
In the present state of our knowledge of the history of the English language, any notion of attributing The Court of Love to Chaucer is worse than untenable; for it is wholly disgraceful. Everything points to a very late date, and tends to exclude it, not only from the fourteenth, but even from the fifteenth century.
At the same time, it will readily be granted that the poem abounds with Chaucerian words and phrases to an extent that almost surpasses even the poems of Lydgate. The versification is smooth, and the poem, as a whole, is pleasing. I have nothing to say against it, when considered on its own merits.
§ 75. Space fails me to discuss the somewhat vexed question of the Courts of Love, of which some have denied the existence. However, there seems to be good evidence to shew that they arose in Provence, and were due to the extravagances of the troubadours. They were travesties of the courts of law, with a lady of rank for a judge, and minstrels for advocates; and they discussed subtle questions relating to affairs of love, usually between troubadours and ladies. The discussions were conducted with much seriousness, and doubtless often served to give much amusement to many idle people. Not unfrequently they led to tragedies, as is easily understood when we notice that the first of one set of thirty-one Laws of Love runs as follows:—‘Marriage cannot be pleaded as an excuse for refusing to love.’ The reader who requires further information is referred to ‘The Troubadours and Courts of Love,’ by J. F. Rowbotham, M.A., London, Swan Sonnenschein and Co., 1895.
It is perhaps necessary to observe that the said Courts have very little to do with the present poem, which treats of a Court of Cupid in the Chaucerian sense (Leg. Good Women, 352). Even the statutes of the Court are largely imitated from Lydgate.
Pieces numbered XXV-XXIX.
XXV.Virelay. This piece, from the Trinity MS., belongs to the end of the fifteenth century, and contains no example of the final -e as constituting a syllable. Chaucer would have used sore (l. 2), more (l. 12), trouth (l. 13), as dissyllables; and he would not have rimed pleyn and disdayn with compleyn and absteyn, as the two latter require a final -e. The rime of finde with ende is extraordinary.
The title ‘Virelai’ is given to this piece in Moxon’s Chaucer, and is, strictly speaking, incorrect; in the MS. and in Stowe’s edition, it has no title at all! Tyrwhitt cautiously spoke of it as being ‘perhaps by Chaucer’; and says that ‘it comes nearer to the description of a Virelay, than anything else of his that has been preserved.’ This is not the case; see note to Anelida, 256; vol. i. p. 536. Tyrwhitt quotes from Cotgrave—‘Virelay, a round, freemen’s song,’ and adds—‘There is a particular description of a Virlai, in the Jardin de plaisance, fol. xii, where it makes the decima sexta species Rhetorice Gallicane.’ For further remarks, see p. 554.
XXVI.Prosperity: by John Walton. ‘To Mr. [Mark] Liddell belongs the honour of the discovery of John Walton as the author of the little poem on fol. 119 [of MS. Arch. Seld. B. 24]. The lines occur as part of the Prologue (ll. 83–90) to Walton’s translation of Boethius’ De Consolatione.’—J. T. T. Brown, The Authorship of the Kingis Quair, Glasgow, 1896; p. 71. See the account of Walton in Warton’s Hist. E. Poetry, sect. xx. The original date of the stanza was, accordingly, 1410; but we here find it in a late Scottish dress. The ascription of it to ‘Chaucer,’ in the MS., is an obvious error; it was written ten years after his death.
XXVII.Leaulte vault Richesse. This piece, like the former, has no title in the MS.; but the words Leaulte vault Richesse (Loyalty deserves riches) occur at the end of it. If the original was in a Midland dialect, it must belong to the latter part of the fifteenth century. Even in these eight lines we find a contradiction to Chaucer’s usage; for he always uses lent, pp., as a monosyllable, and rent-e as a dissyllable. It is further remarkable that he never uses content as an adjective; it first appears in Rom. Rose, 5628.
XXVIII.Sayings. I give these sayings as printed by Caxton; see vol. i. p. 46, where I note that Caxton did not ascribe them to Chaucer. They are not at all in his style.
In MS. Ashmole 59, fol. 78, I find a similar prophecy:—
It is extremely interesting to observe the ascription of these lines to Merlin; see King Lear, iii. 2. 95.
XXIX.Balade. This poor stanza, with its long-drawn lines, appears in Stowe at the end of ‘Chaucer’s Works.’ In the Trinity MS., it occurs at the end of a copy of The Parlement of Foules.
§ 77. An examination of the pieces contained in the present volume leads us to a somewhat remarkable result, viz. that we readily distinguish in them the handiwork of at least twelve different authors, of whom no two are much alike, whilst every one of them can be distinguished from Chaucer.
These are: (1) the author of The Testament of Love, who writes in a prose style all his own; (2) the author of The Plowmans Tale and Plowmans Crede, with his strong powers of invective and love of alliteration, whose style could never have been mistaken for Chaucer’s in any age2 ; (3) the author of Jack Upland, with his direct and searching questions; (4) John Gower, with his scrupulous regularity of grammatical usages; (5) Thomas Hoccleve, who too often accents a dissyllable on the latter syllable when it should be accented on the former; (6) Henry Scogan, whose lines are lacking in interest and originality; (7) John Lydgate3 , who allows his verse too many licences, so that it cannot always be scanned at the first trial; (8) Sir Richard Ros, who writes in English of a quite modern cast, using their and them as in modern English, and wholly discarding the use of final -e as an inflexion; (9) Robert Henryson, who writes smoothly enough and with a fine vein of invention, but employs the Northern dialect; (10) Sir Thomas Clanvowe, who employs the final -e much more frequently than Chaucer or even Gower; (11) the authoress of The Flower and the Leaf and The Assembly of Ladies, to whom the final -e was an archaism, very convenient for metrical embellishment; and (12) the author of The Court of Love, who, while discarding the use of the final -e, was glad to use the final -en to save a hiatus or to gain a syllable, and did not hesitate to employ it where it was grammatically wrong to do so.
§ 78. If the reader were to suppose that this exhausts the list, he would be mistaken; for it is quite easy to add at least one known name, and to suggest three others. For the piece numbered XXVI, on p. 449, has been identified as the work of John Walton, who wrote a verse translation of Boethius in the year 1410; whilst it is extremely unlikely that no. XXVII, written in Lowland Scottish, was due to Henryson, the only writer in that dialect who has been mentioned above. This gives a total of fourteen authors already; and I believe that we require yet two more before the Virelai and the Sayings printed by Caxton (nos. XXV and XXVIII) can be satisfactorily accounted for. As for no. XIX—the Envoy to Alison—it may be Lydgate’s, but, on the other hand, it may not. And as for no. XXIX, it is of no consequence.
Moreover, it must be remembered that I here only refer to the selected pieces printed in the present volume. If we go further afield, we soon find several more authors, all distinct from those above-mentioned, from each other, and from Chaucer. I will just instance the author of the Isle of Ladies, the authoress (presumably) of The Lamentation of Mary Magdalen, the author of The Craft of Lovers, the ‘man unknown’ who wrote The Ten Commandments of Love, and the author of the clumsy lines dignified by the title of The Nine Ladies Worthy. It is quite certain that not less than twenty authors are represented in the mass of heterogeneous material which appears under Chaucer’s name in a compilation such as that which is printed in the first volume of Chalmers’ British Poets; which, precisely on that very account, is useful enough in its own peculiar way.
§ 79. I believe it may be said of nearly every piece in the volume, that it now appears in an improved form. In several cases, I have collated MSS. that have not previously been examined, and have found them to be the best. The Notes are nearly all new; very few have been taken from Bell’s Chaucer. Several are due to Schick’s useful notes to The Temple of Glas; and some to Krausser’s edition of The Black Knight, and to Gröhler’s edition of La Belle Dame, both of which reached me after my own notes were all in type. I have added a Glossary of the harder words; for others, see the Glossary already printed in vol. vi.
In extenuation of faults, I may plead that I have found it much more difficult to deal with such heterogenous material as is comprised in the present volume than with pieces all written by the same author. The style, the grammar, the mode of scansion, the dialect, and even the pronunciation are constantly shifting, instead of being reasonably consistent, as in the genuine works of Chaucer. Any one who will take the pains to observe these points, to compile a sufficient number of notes upon difficult passages, and to prepare a somewhat full glossary, may thus practically convince himself, as I have done, that not a single piece in the present volume ought ever to have been ‘attributed’ to Chaucer. That any of them should have been so attributed — and some of them never were — has been the result of negligence, superficiality, and incapacity, such as (it may be hoped) we have seen the last of.
I wish once more to acknowledge my obligations to Mr. E. B. Nicholson, for the loan of his transcript of The Praise of Peace; to Mr. Bradley, for his discovery of the authorship of The Testament of Love and for other assistance as regards the same; to Dr. E. Krausser, for his edition of The Complaint of the Black Knight; to Dr. Gröhler, for his dissertation on La Belle Dame sans Mercy; and to Professor Hales for his kind help as to some difficult points, and particularly with regard to The Court of Love.
[1 ]In this connection, we must not forget the curious story told in Francis Thynne’s Animadversions on Speght’s edition of 1598, to the effect that his father (William Thynne) had some thoughts of inserting in the volume a piece called The Pilgrim’s Tale, but was advised by the king to let it alone; and this, not on the ground that the Tale was written after 1536, and contained an allusion to Perkin Warbeck, but solely in deference to the king’s remark—‘William Thynne, I doubt this will not be allowed, for I suspect the bishops will call thee in question for it.’ See F. Thynne, Animadversions, &c., ed. Furnivall (Ch. Soc.), pp. 9, 89.
[1 ]These names are given, in the margin, in MS. Addit. 34360 only.
[1 ]Morris printed sleepe, giving no sense; MS. 10303 has slepye.
[1 ]The way in which the spelling was gradually altered can be seen even from the following example, in which the eighth line of the Plowman’s Tale is represented:—
[1 ]So in Thynne. But ‘tyme’ really concludes a sentence; and ‘there’ should have a capital letter.
[1 ]He had been imprisoned in 1384 (p. 33, l. 101); but at p. 49, l. 126, he is leisurely planning a future treatise! At p. 60, l. 104, he is in prison again.
[1 ]See p. 128, l. 16. He did not care to be ‘a stinking martyr’; p. 34, l. 115.
[2 ]Perhaps this is why Langland refers to ‘the castel of Corf’; P. Plowman, C. iv. 140.
[3 ]Rolls of Parliament, iii. 234a.
[1 ]Professor Morley says:—‘As Boethius . . . wrote three books of the Consolation of Philosophy,’ &c. But Boethius wrote five books.
[1 ]One line is enough to shew the order of the texts; see p. xv, footnote.
[2 ]But this proves nothing, as Urry departs from all sound texts in an erratic manner all his own.
[1 ]The expression ‘the quenes heed,’ at l. 158, hardly implies that there was then a queen of England. If it does, it makes the poem later than October, 1396.
[1 ]The line, as it stands, is ambiguous; what Spenser meant to say was—‘the Ploughman that the Pilgrim playde awhyle’; which expresses the fact. The subject is ‘the Ploughman’; and ‘that’ means ‘whom.’
[1 ]Mr. Wright says 1401, and refers to Capgrave’s Chronicle. But this is surely an error; see J. H. Wylie’s Hist. of Henry IV, i. 277–8; with a reference to the Close Rolls, 3 Hen. IV, 2. 16.
[1 ]Fairfax deduced the date from the poem here printed, l. 393.
[1 ]Shirley also refers to Lydgate’s Temple of Glas; see Schick’s edition of that poem; p. lxxxii.
[1 ]Which is not the case; the text in the Trinity MS. is in the correct order.
[1 ]Richard Ros, born March 8, 1428–9; Nichols, Hist. of Leicestershire, vol. ii. p. 37.
[1 ]There is no copy in MS. Harl. 7333, as said by error in vol. i. p. 39.
[2 ]There is no authority, except Thynne, for the title The Cuckoo and the Nightingale. It has been repeated in all the printed editions, but does not appear in any MS.
[1 ]‘In Hereford and the far West, not Oldcastle alone, but the Actons, Cheynes, Clanvowes, Greindors, and many great gentlemen of birth, had begun to mell of Lollardy and drink the gall of heresy.’—Wylie, Hist. of Henry IV, vol. iii. p. 296. Sir T. Clanvowe was alive in 1404 (Test. Vetusta).
[1 ]The MSS. have ran in C. T., B 661. Man rimes with can in Parl. Foules, 479, and with began in the same, 563.
[1 ]Perhaps, more strictly, a dedication, the true envoy consisting of the last six lines only. But it is no great matter.
[1 ]Hence F. 148, ‘As gret-e perl-es, round and orient,’ reappears in A. 528 without the final -e, in the form: ‘With gret’ perlés, ful fyne and orient.’
[1 ]The examples of trewly in Book Duch. 1111, 1151, are doubtful. It is a slippery poem to scan. Elsewhere, we find trew-e-ly.
[1 ]F. and L. 134–138.
[2 ]F. and L. 151–158, 333.
[3 ]F. and L. 148, 224.
[1 ]F. and L. 192, 193.
[2 ]Cf. F. and L. 358–364.
[1 ]See the English translation in Bohn’s Library, i. 214.
[2 ]A piece entitled ‘De Duodecim Abusivis’ is one of three pieces appended to Ælfric’s Lives of the Saints in MS. Julius E. 7.
[3 ]No. 61 is The Storie of Thebes, which he of course knew to be Lydgate’s; he adds it after the note—‘Thus endeth the workes of Geffray Chaucer.’
[1 ]At the same time he struck out no. 56 (p. 34), as being by Lydgate.
[2 ]In Moxon’s Chaucer, which professed to accept Tyrwhitt’s canon, this piece was omitted; but it was revived once more by Bell.
[1 ]See The Athenæum, Nov. 4, 1876; The Academy, June 3, 1878; Aug. 3, 1878.
[2 ]My remark upon the Trinity MS. in vol. i. p. 56, that ‘most of the pieces are in a handwriting of a later date [than 1463], not far from 1500,’ does not apply to The Court of Love. This poem, together with two poems by Lydgate, fills part of a quire of twenty-four leaves near the end of the MS., of which the seventeenth has been cut out and the last three are blank; and this quire is quite distinct from the rest as regards the date of the writing, which is considerably later than 1500, and exhibits a marked change. There are two lacuna in the poem, one after l. 1022, and another after l. 1316; probably six stanzas are lost in each case, owing to the loss of the two corresponding leaves in the original from which the existing copy was made.
[1 ]I doubt if speculation as to the possible meaning of these names will really help us.
[1 ]Which looks as if the author had written grewen for greven, like a Scotchman.
[2 ]A very bad mistake occurs in l. 1045, viz. thou wot instead of thou wost, as if one should say in Latin tu scio. It rimes with dote, which, in Chaucer, is dissyllabic.
[3 ]There are many more; fon-ne becomes fon, to rime with on, 458; tell-e is cut down to tell, 518; behold-e, to behold, 652; accord-e, to accord, 746; &c. The reader can find out more for himself; see ll. 771, 844, 862, 896, 1032, 1334, 1389, &c. In ll. 1063–4, we have opinion riming with begon, the Chaucerian forms being opinioun and bigonne or bigunne!
[4 ]See vol. vi. p. xlv.
[1 ]The MS. has:—‘Than is is lande’—by mistake.
[2 ]It is clear that The Plowmans Tale and Jack Upland were inserted by Thynne and Speght respectively on religious grounds.
[3 ]We may safely assign to Lydgate the pieces numbered XXII and XXIII, as well as those numbered VIII to XV.