Front Page Titles (by Subject) IV.: JOHN GOWER UNTO THE WORTHY AND NOBLE KINGE HENRY THE FOURTH. - The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, vol. 7 (Supplement: Chaucerian and Other Pieces)
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IV.: JOHN GOWER UNTO THE WORTHY AND NOBLE KINGE HENRY THE FOURTH. - 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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From Th. (Thynne, ed. 1532.); corrected by T. (Trentham MS.) I give the rejected spellings of Th. (Thynne), except where they are corrected by the MS.
Explicit carmen de pacis commendacione, quod ad laudem et memoriam serenissimi principis domini Regis Henrici quarti, suus humilis orator Johannes Gower composuit.
[P. 206, l. 27.]For request [the] read requestë. (See note.)
[P. 213, l. 294.]For men perhaps read pees. (See note.)
[P. 215, l. 363.]For debated read delated. (See note.)
[1. ]T. worthi noble.
[3. ]T. om. here.
[4. ]Both the. T. chose; Th. chosen.
[9. ]T. regalie; Th. regaly.
[11. ]T. iustifie; Th. iustify.
[12. ]T. ancestrie; Th. auncestry.
[17. ]T. boun; Th. bounde.
[20. ]T. wirche.
[26. ]T. Axe; Th. Aske.
[27. ]T. reqwest; Th. request. (Perhaps read—Of no request the whiche is resonable.)
[29. ]T. axinge; Th. askyng.
[30. ]Th. om. to.
[31. ]T. ches; Th. chase. Th. om. the.
[33. ]T. ches; Th. chase.
[35. ]T. gat; Th. gate. T. pes; Th. peace. So T.; Th. in-to his last.
[36. ]T. histoire; Th. storie.
[39. ]T. might; Th. myght.
[41. ]Both behight. T. beheste.
[42. ]Th. om. he. Both had. T. conqweste.
[44. ]T. axinge. T. achieued; Th. atcheued.
[45. ]Both al. T. paiene; Th. paynem.
[46. ]T. belieued.
[47. ]T. grieued.
[48. ]T. mihte; Th. might.
[50. ]T. feith; Th. faithe.
[53. ]T. mot; Th. must.
[54. ]Th. om. as.
[56. ]T. leid; Th. layde.
[57. ]T. viage; Th. voyage.
[59. ]T. axe.
[61. ]T. silve; Th. selfe.
[62, 63. ]T. pes; Th. peace.
[70. ]T. Betre; Th. Better.
[71. ]Both peace. T. euery man; Th. eueriche. T. alyue.
[74. ]Th. lande; T. world.
[76. ]T. cesse; Th. cease.
[77. ]T. encresse; Th. encrease.
[78. ]T. chief; Th. chefe.
[79, 81, 82. ]T. weie, aweie, seie.
[83. ]Both lefte.
[90. ]Both al.
[92. ]Both the.
[93. ]T. that; Th. what.
[96. ]T. soght; Th. ysought.
[97. ]Both se.
[98. ]T. conqueste.
[101. ]T. bethenk.
[102. ]Both gone.
[103. ]Both Her.
[108. ]T. om. doth; Th. dothe.
[110. ]Both dothe. T. reules; Th. rules.
[111. ]T. meschef; Th. myschefe.
[113. ]T. bringth; Th. bringeth.
[114. ]T. comon; Th. commen.
[121. ]T. to; Th. be.
[129. ]T. Lete; Th. Lette.
[130. ]Th. crewel warryour.
[132. ]Th. slough.
[136. ]T. than; Th. that.
[137. ]Both se.
[146. ]T. euene; Th. euyn.
[147. ]T. heuene; Th. heuyn.
[148. ]T. Ha.
[153. ]Th. om. the.
[155. ]Th. om. 2nd of.
[160. ]T. reson; Th. reason.
[162. ]T. thenke; Th. thynke.
[165. ]T. the subiit; Th. be subiecte.
[169. ]T. er.
[173. ]T. aftirwards; Th. afterwarde.
[174. ]T. let; Th. lette.
[176. ]T. er.
[177. ]Th. styghed.
[183. ]T. paiens; Th. paynyms.
[185. ]Th. erre (!).
[192. ]T. sen; Th. se.
[194. ]Th. paynems. T. destruied.
[200. ]Th. that; T. which.
[201. ]T. helas; T. sprad.
[202. ]I supply alday.
[203. ]Th. that; T. which.
[209. ]T. do; Th. done. T. paien; Th. payne (for payen).
[211. ]T. to wo der; Th. wonder. For any read a?
[216. ]Th. om how.
[217. ]T. enangile.
[219. ]Both made. Th. om. the.
[222. ]Th. selfe; T. selue.
[227. ]T. men; Th. people.
[231. ]Th. the (for that).
[232. ]Th. dewte; T. duete.
[238. ]T. hem-selue; Th. him-selfe.
[242. ]Th. must.
[246. ]T. om. good. T. euene; Th. euyn.
[248. ]T. heuene; Th. heuyn.
[253. ]Both thre.
[254. ]Th. om. is.
[256. ]Both highe.
[260. ]T. sick; Th. sicke.
[263. ]Th. helplesse; T. heliples.
[269. ]Both Betwene.
[274. ]T. enoignt.
[276. ]Both Beholde; se.
[278. ]Th. deserved (!).
[280. ]Both lyfe.
[281. ]T. Ector.
[282. ]T. Machabeu.
[283. ]T. Godefroi Arthus.
[287. ]Both made.
[288. ]T. mai; Th. many (!).
[289. ]T. man (for king).
[291. ]Th. is (for ben).
[292. ]T. om. up.
[295. ]T. tenetz; Th. tennes.
[296, 298. ]T. er (for or).
[305. ]Th. is (for it). Th. om. is. T. piereles; Th. peerles.
[306. ]Both begete; read be gete.
[316. ]T. perfit.
[318. ]T. plit.
[321. ]Th. these (for the pees). Th. ben.
[326. ]T. proprite.
[329. ]Both semblant.
[330. ]T. Cassodre. Both writinge. T. auctorized.
[331. ]Th. om. ther.
[336. ]T. wel; Th. way.
[337. ]Both se.
[342. ]T. crualte; Th. creweltie.
[347. ]T. baptisme.
[359. ]Th. England.
[370. ]T. seintz; Th. sayntes. T. memoire; Th. memory.
[371. ]T. loenge; Th. legende (!). T. gloire; Th. glory.
[378. ]Th. om. 2nd of. Both throne.
[382. ]T. sese (for cese); Th. se (!). T. er (for or). T. meschiefe; Th. myschefe.
[383. ]Both Sette.
[384. ]T. draugh.
[385. ]T. Maintene; Th. Maynteyn.
[399. ]Th. curua; T. torua.
[12, 13.]Henry founded his title on conquest, hereditary right, and election. The first of these is referred to in ll. 9, 10; the second, in l. 12; and the third, in l. 13. See note in vol. i. p. 564, to XIX. 23.
[17.]boun, ready; better than the reading bounde.
[21.]I note here an unimportant variation. For this is, the MS. has is this.
[27.]I find that there is no need to insert the. Read requeste, in three syllables, as it really had a final e, being a feminine substantive. Cf. ‘Et lor requestë refaison’; Rom. Rose, 4767. Requeste is trisyllabic in Troil. iv. 57; L. Good Wom. 448.
[36.]According to the romance of Alexander, the god Serapis, appearing in a dream, told him that his great deeds would be remembered for ever. Before this, Alexander had told his men that he hoped to conquer all the earth—‘with the graunt of my god.’ See Wars of Alexander, ed. Skeat, ll. 990, 1095.
[57.]This obviously refers to Bolingbroke’s invasion, when he came, as he said, to claim his inheritance; cf. l. 65.
[81.]Of pestilence, out of pestilence, to free him from pestilence.
[86.]lyf, person, man; lit. ‘living soul.’ Common in P. Plowman.
[174, 179.]Matt. v. 9; John, xiv. 27.
[185.]out of herre, out of (off) the hinge; like mod. E. ‘out of joint.’ A favourite phrase of Gower’s; see his Conf. Amant. ii. 139; iii. 43, 52, 203, 211.
[197.]Knights were expected to defend the faith; see note to P. Plowman, C. ix. 26. Cf. ll. 243–5.
[202.]I supply alday (i. e. continually) to complete the line.
[204.]wayted, watched, carefully guarded; in contrast to l. 207.
[211.]For any perhaps read a; the line runs badly.
[218.]‘It is easier to keep a thing than acquire it.’
[236.]assysed, appointed; as in Conf. Amant. i. 181; iii. 228.
[251.]‘Let men be armed to fight against the Saracens.’
[253.]Three points; stated in ll. 254, 261–2, and 268; i. e. the church is divided; Christian nations are at variance; and the heathen threaten us.
[281–3.]These are the nine worthies; of whom three were heathen (281), three Jewish (282), and three Christian (283); as noted in Reliquiæ Antiquæ, i. 287. Sometimes they varied; thus Shakespeare introduces Hercules and Pompey among the number; L. L. L. v. 2. 538. Machabeus, Judas Maccabeus. Godfray, Godfrey of Bouillon. Arthus, King Arthur.
[294.]For men, MS. T. has pes=pees; which perhaps is better.
[295.]For tennes, as in Thynne, the Trentham MS. has the older spelling tenetz, which gives the etymology of ‘tennis.’ Tenetz is the imperative plural of the verb tenir, and must have been a cry frequently used in the jeu de paume; probably it was used to call attention, like the modern ‘play!’ This is the earliest passage in which the word occurs. ‘No one can tell whether he will win or lose a “chace” at tennis, till the ball has run its course.’ Chace is a term ‘applied to the second impact on the floor (or in a gallery of a ball which the opponent has failed or declined to return; the value of which is determined by the nearness of the spot of impact to the end wall. If the opponent, on both sides being changed, can “better” this stroke (i. e. cause his ball to rebound nearer the wall) he wins and scores it; if not, it is scored by the first player; until it is so decided, the “chace” is a stroke in abeyance’; New E. Dict.
[306.]be gete, be gotten, be obtained; begete gives no sense.
[323.]lyf, life; not as in l. 86. See 1 Cor. xiii. 1.
[330.]Cassodore, Cassiodorus. Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus, born about ad 468, was a statesman and author; his chief work being his Variarum Epistolarum Libri XII, which is six times quoted in Chaucer’s Tale of Melibeus. Gower, in his Conf. Amantis, iii. 191, quotes this very passage again; thus—
I find: ‘Pietas est quae regit et celos’; Cass. Var. xi. 40.
[332.]assysed, fixed, set; cf. l. 236. Unless it means assessed, rated; a sense which is also found in Gower, viz. in his Conf. Amant. i. 5; see the New E. Dict. The passage is a little obscure.
[336.]‘On account of which mercy should turn aside.’
[339.]Constantyn, Constantine the Great, Roman emperor from ad 306 to 337. Eusebius wrote a life of him in four books, which is rather a panegyric than a biography. The story here told is hardly consistent with the facts, as Constantine caused the death of his own son Crispus and of young Licinius; as to which Gibbon (c. xviii) remarks that ‘the courtly bishop, who has celebrated in an elaborate work the virtues and pieties of his hero, observes a prudent silence on the subject of these tragic events.’ In his Conf. Amantis, iii. 192, Gower again says:—
But the particular story about the ‘yonge children’ to which Gower here alludes is given at length in the Conf. Amantis, bk. ii. vol. i. pp. 266–77. Very briefly, it comes to this. Constantine, while still a heathen, was afflicted with leprosy. The physicians said he could only be healed by bathing in the blood of young children. On due reflection, he preferred to retain his leprosy; whereupon, he was directed in a vision to apply to pope Silvester, who converted him and baptised him; and he was cured of his leprosy when immersed in the baptismal font. The whole city followed the emperor’s example, and was converted to Christianity. This explains ll. 354–5:—‘so that the dear ones, (converted) from being the hateful ones who had formerly been at enmity with Christ,’ &c.
[363.]For debated, MS. T. has deleated, for delated, i. e. deferred; see Dilate in the New E. Dict.
[380.]‘these other Christian princes’; viz. in particular, Charles VI, king of France, and Robert III, king of Scotland.
[393.]These interesting lines tell us that blindness befell the poet in the first year of Henry IV (Sept. 30, 1399—Sept. 29, 1400); and we gather that the present poem was meant to be his last. As a matter of fact, he wrote a still later couplet in the following words:—
These lines occur in MSS. of his Vox Clamantis; see Morley, Eng. Writers, iv. 157. Notwithstanding his infirmity, Gower survived till the autumn of 1408; and was interred, as is well known, in the church of St. Mary Overies—now St. Saviour’s—in Southwark, towards the rebuilding of which he had liberally contributed.