Geoffrey Chaucer, The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, vol. 3 (House of Fame, Legend of Good Women, Treatise on Astrolabe, Sources of Canterbury Tales) 
The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, edited from numerous manuscripts by the Rev. Walter W. Skeat (2nd ed.) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1899). 7 vols.
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Table of Contents
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INTRODUCTION TO THE HOUSE OF FAME
§ 1.It is needless to say that this Poem is genuine, as Chaucer himself claims it twice over; once in his Prologue to the Legend of Good Women, l. 417, and again by the insertion in the poem itself of the name Geffrey (l. 729) .
§ 2.Influence of Dante. The influence of Dante is here very marked, and has been thoroughly discussed by Rambeau in Englische Studien, iii. 209, in an article far too important to be neglected. I can only say here that the author points out both general and particular likenesses between the two poems. In general, both are visions; both are in three books; in both, the authors seek abstraction from surrounding troubles by venturing into the realm of imagination. As Dante is led by Vergil, so Chaucer is upborne by an eagle. Dante begins his third book, Il Paradiso, with an invocation to Apollo, and Chaucer likewise begins his third book with the same; moreover, Chaucer’s invocation is little more than a translation of Dante’s.
Among the particular resemblances, we may notice the method of commencing each division of the Poem with an invocation . Again, both poets mark the exact date of commencing their poems; Dante descended into the Inferno on Good Friday, 1300 (Inf. xxi. 112); Chaucer began his work on the 10th of December, the year being, probably, 1383 (see note to l. 111).
Chaucer sees the desert of Lybia (l. 488), corresponding to similar waste spaces mentioned by Dante; see note to l. 482. Chaucer’s eagle is also Dante’s eagle; see note to l. 500. Chaucer gives an account of Phaethon (l. 942) and of Icarus (l. 920), much like those given by Dante (Inf. xvii. 107, 109); both accounts, however, may have been taken from Ovid . Chaucer’s account of the eagle’s lecture to him (l. 729) resembles Dante’s Paradiso, i. 109-117. Chaucer’s steep rock of ice (l. 1130) corresponds to Dante’s steep rock (Purg. iii. 47). If Chaucer cannot describe all the beauty of the House of Fame (l. 1168), Dante is equally unable to describe Paradise (Par. i. 6). Chaucer copies from Dante his description of Statius, and follows his mistake in saying that he was born at Toulouse; see note to l. 1460. The description of the house of Rumour is also imitated from Dante; see note to l. 2034. Chaucer’s error of making Marsyas a female arose from his misunderstanding the Italian form Marsia in Dante; see note to l. 1229.
These are but some of the points discussed in Rambeau’s article; it is difficult to give, in a summary, a just idea of the careful way in which the resemblances between these two great poets are pointed out. I am quite aware that many of the alleged parallel passages are too trivial to be relied upon, and that the author’s case would have been strengthened, rather than weakened, by several judicious omissions; but we may fairly accept the conclusion, that Chaucer is more indebted to Dante in this poem than in any other; perhaps more than in all his other works put together.
It is no longer possible to question Chaucer’s knowledge of Italian; and it is useless to search for the original of The House of Fame in Provençal literature, as Warton vaguely suggests that we should do (see note to l. 1928). At the same time, I can see no help to be obtained from a perusal of Petrarch’s Trionfo della Fama, to which some refer us.
§ 3.Testimony of Lydgate. It is remarkable that Lydgate does not expressly mention The House of Fame by name, in his list of Chaucer’s works. I have already discussed this point in the Introduction to vol. i. pp. 23, 24, where I shew that Lydgate, nevertheless, refers to this work at least thrice in the course of the poem in which his list occurs; and, at the same time, he speaks of a poem by Chaucer which he calls ‘Dant in English,’ to which there is nothing to correspond, unless it can be identified with The House of Fame . We know, however, that Lydgate’s testimony as to this point is wholly immaterial; so that the discussion as to the true interpretation of his words is a mere matter of curiosity.
§ 4.Influence of Ovid. It must, on the other hand, be obvious to all readers, that the general notion of a House of Fame was adopted from a passage in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, xii. 39-63. The proof of this appears from the great care with which Chaucer works in all the details occurring in that passage. He also keeps an eye on the celebrated description of Fame in Vergil’s Æneid, iv. 173-183; even to the unlucky rendering of ‘pernicibus alis’ by ‘partriches winges,’ in l. 1392 .
I here quote the passage from Ovid at length, as it is very useful for frequent reference (cf. Ho. Fame, 711-24, 672-99, 1025-41, 1951-76, 2034-77):—
- ‘Orbe locus medio est inter terrasque, fretumque,
- Caelestesque plagas, triplicis confinia mundi;
- Unde quod est usquam, quamuis regionibus absit,
- Inspicitur penetratque cauas uox omnis ad aures.
- Fame tenet, summaque domum sibi legit in arce;
- Innumerosque aditus, ac mille foramina tectis
- Addidit, et nullis inclusit limina portis.
- Nocte dieque patent. Tota est ex aere sonanti;
- Tota fremit, uocesque refert, iteratque quod audit.
- Nulla quies intus, nullaque silentia parte.
- Nec tamen est clamor, sed paruae murmura uocis;
- Qualia de pelagi, si quis procul audiat, undis
- Esse solent; qualemue sonum, cum Iupiter atras
- Increpuit nubes, extrema tonitrua reddunt.
- Atria turba tenet; ueniunt leue uulgus, euntque;
- Mixtaque cum ueris passim commenta uagantur
- Millia rumorum, confusaque uerba uolutant.
- E quibus hi uacuas implent sermonibus aures;
- Hi narrata ferunt alio; mensuraque ficti
- Crescit, et auditis aliquid nouus adicit auctor.
- Illic Credulitas, illic temerarius Error,
- Vanaque Laetitia est, consternatique Timores,
- Seditioque repens, dubioque auctore Susurri.
- Ipsa quid in caelo rerum, pelagoque geratur,
- Et tellure uidet, totumque inquirit in orbem.’
A few other references to Ovid are pointed out in the Notes.
By way of further illustration, I here quote the whole of Golding’s translation of the above passage from Ovid:—
- ‘Amid the world tweene heauen and earth, and sea, there is a place,
- Set from the bounds of each of them indifferently in space,
- From whence is seene what-euer thing is practizde any-where,
- Although the Realme be neere so farre: and roundly to the eare
- Commes whatsoeuer spoken is; Fame hath his dwelling there,
- Who in the top of all the house is lodged in a towre.
- A thousand entries, glades, and holes are framed in this bowre.
- There are no doores to shut. The doores stand open night and day.
- The house is all of sounding brasse, and roreth euery way,
- Reporting double euery word it heareth people say.
- There is no rest within, there is no silence any-where.
- Yet is there not a yelling out: but humming, as it were
- The sound of surges being heard farre off, or like the sound
- That at the end of thunderclaps long after doth redound
- When Ioue doth make the clouds to crack. Within the courts is preace
- Of common people, which to come and go do neuer ceace.
- And millions both of troths and lies run gadding euery-where,
- And wordes confuselie flie in heapes, of which some fill the eare
- That heard not of them erst, and some cole-cariers part do play,
- To spread abroade the things they heard, and euer by the way
- The thing that was inuented growes much greater than before,
- And euery one that gets it by the end addes somewhat more.
- Light credit dwelleth there, there dwells rash error, there doth dwell
- Vaine ioy: there dwelleth hartlesse feare, and brute that loues to tell
- Uncertaine newes vpon report, whereof he doth not knowe
- The author, and sedition who fresh rumors loues to sowe.
- This Fame beholdeth what is done in heauen, on sea, and land,
- And what is wrought in all the world he layes to vnderstand.’
§ 5.Date of the Poem. Ten Brink, in his Chaucer Studien, pp. 120, 121, concludes that Ten House of Fame was, in all probability, composed shortly after Troilus, as the opening lines reproduce, in effect, a passage concerning dreams which appears in the last Book of Troilus, ll. 358-385. We may also observe the following lines in Troilus, from Book I, 517-8:—
- ‘Now, thonked be god, he may goon in the daunce
- Of hem that Love list febly for to avaunce.’
These lines, jestingly applied to Troilus by Pandarus, are in the House of Fame, 639, 640, applied by Chaucer to himself:—
- ‘Although thou mayst go in the daunce
- Of hem that him list not avaunce.’
Again, the House of Fame preceded the Legend of Good Women, because he here complains of the hardship of his official duties (652-660); whereas, in the Prologue to the Legend, he rejoices at obtaining some release from them. We may also note the quotation from Boethius (note to l. 972). As Boethius and Troilus seem to have been written together, somewhere about 1380, and took up a considerable time, and the apparent date of the Legend is 1385, the probable date of the House of Fame is about 1383 or 1384. Ten Brink further remarks that the references to Jupiter suggest to the reader that the 10th of December was a Thursday (see note to 111). This would give 1383 for beginning the poem; and perhaps no fitter date than the end of 1383 and the spring of 1384 can be found.
§ 6.Metre. Many of Chaucer’s metres were introduced by him from the French; but the four-accent metre, with rime as here employed, was commonly known before Chaucer’s time. It was used by Robert of Brunne in 1303, in the Cursor Mundi, and in Havelok. It is, however, of French origin, and occurs in the very lengthy poem of Le Roman de la Rose. Chaucer only employed it thrice: (1) in translating the Roman de la Rose; (2) in the Book of the Duchesse; and (3) in the present poem.
For normal lines, with masculine rimes, see 7, 8, 13, 14, 29, 33, &c. For normal lines, with feminine rimes, see 1, 2, 9, 15, 18, &c. Elision is common, as of e in turne (1), in somme (6), in Devyne (14); &c. Sometimes there is a middle pause, where a final syllable need not always be elided. Thus we may read:—
- ‘By abstinencë—or by seknesse’ (25):
- ‘In studie—or melancolious’ (30):
- ‘And fro unhappë—and ech disese’ (89):
- ‘In his substáuncë—is but air’ (768).
Two short syllables, rapidly pronounced, may take the place of one:—
- ‘I noot; but who-so of these mirácles’ (12):
- ‘By avisiouns, or bý figúres’ (47).
The first foot frequently consists of a single syllable; see 26, 35, 40, 44; so also in l. 3, where, in modern English, we should prefer Unto.
The final e, followed by a consonant, is usually sounded, and has its usual grammatical values. Thus we have think-e, infin. (15); bot-e, old accus. of a fem. sb. (32); swich-e, plural (35); oft-e, adverbial (35); soft-e, with essential final e (A.S. sōfte); find-e, pres. pl. indic. (43); com-e, gerund (45): gret-e, pl. (53); mak-e, infin. (56); rod-e, dat. form used as a new nom., of which there are many examples in Chaucer (57); blind-e, def. adj. (138). The endings -ed, -en, -es, usually form a distinct syllable; so also -eth, which, however, occasionally becomes ’th; cf. comth (71). A few common words, written with final e, are monosyllabic; as thise (these); also shulde (should), and the like, occasionally. Remember that the old accent is frequently different from the modern; as in orácles, mirácles (11, 12): distaúnc-e (18), aventúres, figúres (47, 48): povért (88): málicióus (93): &c. The endings -i-al, -i-oun, i-ous, usually form two distinct syllables.
For further remarks on Metre and Grammar, see vol. v.
§ 7.Imitations. The chief imitations of the House of Fame are The Temple of Glas, by Lydgate ; The Palice of Honour, by Gawain Douglas; The Garland of Laurell, by John Skelton; and The Temple of Fame, by Pope. Pope’s poem should not be compared with Chaucer’s; it is very different in character, and is best appreciated by forgetting its origin.
§ 8.Authorities. The authorities for the text are few and poor; hence it is hardly possible to produce a thoroughly satisfactory text. There are three MSS. of the fifteenth century, viz. F. (Fairfax MS. 16, in the Bodleian Library); B. (MS. Bodley, 638, in the same); P. (MS. Pepys 2006, in Magdalene College, Cambridge). The last of these is imperfect, ending at l. 1843. There are two early printed editions of some value, viz. Cx. (Caxton’s edition, undated); and Th. (Thynne’s edition, 1532). None of the later editions are of much value, except the critical edition by Hans Willert (Berlin, 1883). Of these, F. and B., which are much alike, form a first group; P. and Cx. form a second group; whilst Th. partly agrees with Cx., and partly with F. The text is chiefly from F., with collations of the other sources, as given in the footnotes, which record only the more important variations.
§ 9.Some emendations. In constructing the text, a good deal of emendation has been necessary; and I have adopted many hints from Willert’s edition above mentioned; though perhaps I may be allowed to add that, in many cases, I had arrived at the same emendations independently, especially where they were obvious. Among the emendations in spelling, I may particularise misdemen (92), where all the authorities have mysdeme or misdeme; Dispyt, in place of Dispyte (96); barfoot, for barefoot or barefote (98); proces (as in P.) for processe, as in the rest (251); delyt, profyt, for delyte, profyte (309, 310); sleighte for sleight (462); brighte , sighte, for bright, sight (503, 504); wighte, highte, for wight, hight (739, 740); fyn, Delphyn (as in Cx.), for fyne, Delphyne (1005, 1006); magyk, syk, for magyke, syke (1269, 1270); losenges, for losynges (1317), and frenges (as in F.) for frynges, as in the rest (1318); dispyt for dispite (1716); laughe for laugh (Cx. lawhe, 1809); delyt for delyte (P. delit, 1831); thengyn (as in Th.) for thengyne (1934); othere for other (2151, footnote). These are only a few of the instances where nearly all the authorities are at fault.
The above instances merely relate to questions of spelling. Still more serious are the defects in the MSS. and printed texts as regards the sense; but all instances of emendation are duly specified in the footnotes, and are frequently further discussed in the Notes at the end. Thus, in l. 329, it is necessary to supply I. In 370, allas should be Eneas. In 513, Willert rightly puts selly, i. e. wonderful, for sely, blessed. In 557, the metre is easily restored, by reading so agast for agast so. In 621, we must read lyte is, not lytel is, if we want a rime to dytees. In 827, I restore the word mansioun; the usual readings are tautological. In 911, I restore toun for token, and adopt the only reading of l. 912 that gives any sense. In 1007, the only possible reading is Atlantes. In 1044, Morris’s edition has biten, correctly; though MS. F. has beten, and there is no indication that a correction has been made. In 1114, the right word is site; cf. the Treatise on the Astrolabe (see Note). In 1135, read bilt (i. e. buildeth); bilte gives neither sense nor rhythm. In 1173, supply be. Ll. 1177, 1178 have been set right by Willert. In 1189, the right word is Babewinnes . In 1208, read Bret (as in B.). In 1233, read famous. In 1236, read Reyes . In 1303, read hatte, i. e. are named. In 1351, read Fulle, not Fyne. In 1372, adopt the reading of Cx. Th. P., or there is no nominative to streighte; and in 1373, read wonderliche. In 1411, read tharmes (=the armes). In 1425, I supply and hy, to fill out the line. In 1483, I supply dan; if, however, poete is made trisyllabic, then l. 1499 should not contain daun. In 1494, for high the, read highte (as in l. 744). In 1527, for into read in. In 1570, read Up peyne. In 1666, 1701, and 1720, for werkes read werk. In 1702, read clew (see note) . In 1717, lyen is an error for lyuen, i. e. live. In 1750, read To, not The. In 1775, supply ye; or there is no sense. In 1793, supply they for a like reason. In 1804, 5, supply the, and al; for the scansion. In 1897, read wiste, not wot. In 1940, hattes should be hottes; this emendation has been accepted by several scholars. In 1936, the right word is falwe, not salwe (as in Morris). In 1960, there should be no comma at the end of the line, as in most editions; and in 1961, 2 read werre, reste (not werres, restes). In 1975, mis and governement are distinct words. In 2017, frot is an error for froyt; it is better to read fruit at once; this correction is due to Koch. In 2021, suppress in after yaf. In 2049, for he read the other (Willert). In 2059, wondermost is all one word. In 2076, I read word; Morris reads mothe, but does not explain it, and it gives no sense. In 2156, I supply nevene.
I mention these as examples of necessary emendations of which the usual editions take no notice.
I also take occasion to draw attention to the careful articles on this poem by Dr. J. Koch, in Anglia, vol. vii. App. 24-30, and Englische Studien, xv. 409-415; and the remarks by Willert in Anglia, vii. App. 203-7. The best general account of the poem is that in Ten Brink’s History of English Literature.
In conclusion, I add a few ‘last words.’
L. 399. We learn, from Troil. i. 654, that Chaucer actually supposed ‘Oënone’ to have four syllables. This restores the metre. Read:—And Paris to Oënone.
503. Read ‘brighte,’ with final e; ‘bright’ is a misprint.
859. Compare Cant. Tales, F 726.
1119. ‘To climbe hit,’ i. e. to climb the rock; still a common idiom.
2115. Compare Cant. Tales, A 2078. Perhaps read ‘wanie.’
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INTRODUCTION TO THE LEGEND OF GOOD WOMEN.
§ 1.Date of the Poem: ad 1385. The Legend of Good Women presents several points of peculiar, I might almost say of unique interest. It is the immediate precursor of the Canterbury Tales, and enables us to see how the poet was led on towards the composition of that immortal poem. This is easily seen, upon consideration of the date at which it was composed.
The question of the date has been well investigated by Ten Brink; but it may be observed beforehand that the allusion to the ‘queen’ in l. 496 has long ago been noticed, and it has been thence inferred, by Tyrwhitt, that the Prologue must have been written after 1382, the year when Richard II. married his first wife, the ‘good queen Anne.’ But Ten Brink’s remarks enable us to look at the question much more closely.
He shows that Chaucer’s work can be clearly divided into three chief periods, the chronology of which he presents in the following form .
|1366 (at latest).||The Romaunt of the Rose.|
|1369.||The Book of the Duchesse.|
|1372.||(end of the period).|
|1373.||The Lyf of Seint Cecile.|
|The Assembly of Foules.|
|Palamon and Arcite.|
|Translation of Boethius.|
|Troilus and Creseide.|
|1384.||The House of Fame.|
|1385.||Legend of Good Women.|
|1391.||Treatise on the Astrolabe.|
It is unnecessary for our present purpose to insert the conjectured dates of the Minor Poems not here mentioned.
According to Ten Brink, the poems of the First Period were composed before Chaucer set out on his Italian travels, i. e. before December, 1372, and contain no allusions to writings by Italian authors. In them, the influence of French authors is very strongly marked.
The poems of the Second Period (he tells us) were composed after that date. The Life of Seint Cecile already marks the author’s acquaintance with Dante’s Divina Commedia; lines 36-51 are, in fact, a free translation from the Paradiso, canto xxxiii. ll. 1-21. See my note to this passage, and the remarks on the ‘Second Nun’s Tale’ in vol. v. The Parlement of Foules contains references to Dante and a long passage translated from Boccaccio’s Teseide; see my notes to that poem in vol. i. The original Falamon and Arcite was also taken from the Teseide; for even the revised version of it (now known as the Knightes Tale, and containing, doubtless, much more of Chaucer’s own work) is founded upon that poem, and occasionally presents verbal imitations of it. Troilus is similarly dependent upon Boccaccio’s Filostrato. The close connexion between Troilus and the translation of Boethius is seen from several considerations, of which it may suffice here to mention two. The former is the association of these two works in Chaucer’s lines to Adam—
- ‘Adam scriveyn, if ever it thee befalle
- Boece or Troilus to wryten newe.’
Minor Poems; see vol. i. p. 379.
And the latter is, the fact that Chaucer inserts in Troilus (book iv. stanzas 140-154) a long passage on predestination and free-will, taken from Boethius, book v. proses 2, 3; which he would appear to have still fresh in his mind. It is probable that his Boethius preceded Troilus almost immediately; indeed, it is conceivable that, for a short season, both may have been in hand at the same time.
There is also a close connexion between Troilus and the House of Fame, the latter of which shows the influence of Dante in a high degree; see p. vii. This connexion will appear from comparing Troil. v. stt. 52-55 with Ho. Fame, 2-54; and Troil. i. st. 74 (ll. 517-8) with Ho. Fame, 639, 640. See Ten Brink, Studien, p. 121. It would seem that the House of Fame followed Troilus almost immediately. At the same time, we cannot put the date of the House of Fame later than 1384, because of Chaucer’s complaint in it of the hardship of his official duties, from much of which he was released (as we shall see) early in 1385. Further, the 10th of December is especially mentioned as being the date on which the House of Fame was commenced (l. 111), the year being probably 1383 (see Note to that line).
It would appear, further, that the Legend was begun soon after the House of Fame was suddenly abandoned, in the very middle of a sentence. That it was written later than Troilus and the House of Fame is obvious, from the mention of these poems in the Prologue; ll. 332, 417, 441. That it was written at no great interval after Troilus appears from the fact that, even while writing Troilus, Chaucer had already been meditating upon the goodness of Alcestis, of which the Prologue to the Legend says so much. Observe the following passages (cited by Ten Brink, Studien, p. 120) from Troilus, bk. v. stt. 219, 254:—
- ‘As wel thou mightest lyen on Alceste
- That was of creatures—but men lye—
- That ever weren, kindest and the beste.
- For whan hir housbonde was in Iupartye
- To dye himself, but-if she wolde dye,
- She chees for him to dye and go to helle,
- And starf anoon, as us the bokes telle.
- Besechinge every lady bright of hewe,
- And every gentil womman, what she be,
- That, al be that Criseyde was untrewe,
- That for that gilt she be not wrooth with me.
- Ye may hir gilt in othere bokes see;
- And gladlier I wol wryten, if yow leste,
- Penelopeës trouthe, and good Alceste.’
There is also a striking similarity between the argument in Troilus, bk. iv. st. 3, and ll. 369-372 (B-text) of the Prologue to the Legend. The stanza runs thus:—
- ‘For how Criseyde Troilus forsook,
- Or at the leste, how that she was unkinde,
- Mot hennes-forth ben matere of my book,
- As wryten folk thorugh whiche it is in minde.
- Allas! that they shulde ever cause finde
- To speke hir harm; and, if they on hir lye,
- Y-wis, hem-self sholde han the vilanye.’
I will here also note the fact that the first line of the above stanza is quoted, almost unaltered, in the earlier version of the Prologue, viz. at l. 265 of the A-text, on p. 88.
From the above considerations we may already infer that the House of Fame was begun, probably, in December, 1383, and continued in 1384; and that the Legend of Good Women, which almost immediately succeeded it, may be dated about 1384 or 1385; certainly after 1382, when King Richard was first married. But now that we have come so near to the date, it is possible to come still nearer; for it can hardly be doubted that the extremely grateful way in which Chaucer speaks of the queen may fairly be connected with the stroke of good fortune which happened to him just at this very period. In the House of Fame we find him groaning about the troublesomeness of his official duties; and the one object of his life, just then, was to obtain greater leisure, especially if it could be had without serious loss of income. Now we know that, on the 17th of February, 1385, he obtained the indulgence of being allowed to nominate a permanent deputy for his Controllership of the Customs and Subsidies; see Furnivall’s Trial Forewords to the Minor Poems, p. 25. If with our knowledge of this fact we combine these considerations, viz. that Chaucer expresses himself gratefully to the queen, that he says nothing more of his troublesome duties, and that Richard II. is known to have been a patron of letters (as we learn from Gower), we may well conclude that the poet’s release from his burden was brought about by the queen’s intercession with the king on his behalf. We may here notice Lydgate’s remarks in the following stanza, which occurs in the Prologue to the Fall of Princes :—
- ‘This poete wrote, at the request of the quene,
- A Legende, of perfite holynesse,
- Of Good Women, to fynd out nynetene
- That did excell in bounte and fayrenes;
- But for his labour and besinesse
- Was importable, his wittes to encombre,
- In all this world to fynd so gret a nombre .’
Lydgate can hardly be correct in his statement that Chaucer wrote ‘at the request’ of the queen: for, had our author done so, he would have let us know it. Still, he has seized the right idea, viz. that the queen was, so to speak, the moving cause which effected the production of the poem.
It is, moreover, much to the point to observe that Chaucer’s state of delightful freedom did not last long. Owing to a sudden change in the government we find that, on Dec. 4, 1386, he lost his Controllership of the Customs and Subsidies; and, only ten days later, also lost his Controllership of the Petty Customs. Something certainly went wrong, but we have no proof that Chaucer abused his privilege.
On the whole we may interpret ll. 496, 7 (p. 101), viz.
- ‘And whan this book is maad, yive hit the quene,
- On my behalfe, at Eltham or at Shene,’
as giving us a date but little later than Feb. 17, 1385, and certainly before Dec. 4, 1386. The mention of the month of May in ll. 36, 45, 108, 176, is probably conventional; still, the other frequent references to spring-time, as in ll. 40-66, 130-147, 171-174, 206, &c., may mean something; and in particular we may note the reference to St. Valentine’s day as being past, in ll. 145, 146; seeing that chees (chose) occurs in the past tense. We can hardly resist the conviction that the right date of the Prologue is the spring of 1385, which satisfies every condition.
§ 2.The two forms of the Prologue. So far, I have kept out of view the important fact, that the Prologue exists in two distinct forms, viz. an earlier and a revised form. The lines in which ‘the queen’ is expressly mentioned occur in the later version only, so that some of the above arguments really relate to that alone. But it makes no great difference, as there is no reason to suppose that there was any appreciable lapse of time between the two versions.
In order to save words, I shall call the earlier version the A-text, and the later one the B-text. The manner of printing these texts is explained at p. 65. I print the B-text in full, in the lower half of the page. The A-text appears in the upper half of the same, and is taken from MS. C. (Camb. Univ. Library, Gg. 4. 27), which is the only MS. that contains it, with corrections of the spelling, as recorded in the footnotes. Lines which appear in one text only are marked with an asterisk (*); those which stand almost exactly the same in both texts are marked with a dagger (†) prefixed to them; whilst the unmarked lines are such as occur in both texts, but with some slight alteration. By way of example, observe that lines B. 496, 497, mentioning the queen, are duly marked with an asterisk, as not being in A. Line 2, standing the same in both texts, is marked with a dagger. And thirdly, line 1 is unmarked, because it is slightly altered. A. has here the older expression ‘A thousand sythes,’ whilst B. has the more familiar ‘A thousand tymes.’
The fact that A. is older than B. cannot perhaps be absolutely proved without a long investigation. But all the conditions point in that direction. In the first place, it occurs in only one MS., viz. MS. C., whilst all the others give the B-text; and it is more likely that a revised text should be multiplied than that a first draft should be. Next, this MS. C. is of high value and great importance, being quite the best MS., as regards age, of the whole set; and it is a fortunate thing that the A-text has been preserved at all. And lastly, the internal evidence tends, in my opinion, to shew that B. can be more easily evolved from A. than conversely. I am not aware that any one has ever doubted this result.
We may easily see that the A-text is, on the whole, more general and vague, whilst the B-text is more particular in its references. The impression left on my mind by the perusal of the two forms of the Prologue is that Chaucer made immediate use of the comparative liberty accorded to him on the 17th of February, 1385, to plan a new poem, in an entirely new metre, and in the new form of a succession of tales. He decided, further, that the tales should relate to women famous in love-stories, and began by writing the tale of Cleopatra, which is specially mentioned in B. 566 (and A. 542) . The idea then occurred to him of writing a preface or Prologue, which would afford him the double opportunity of justifying and explaining his design, and of expressing his gratitude for his attainment of greater leisure. Having done this, he was not wholly satisfied with it; he thought the expression of gratitude did not come out with sufficient clearness, at least with regard to the person to whom he owed the greatest debt. So he at once set about to amend and alter it; the first draught, of which he had no reason to be ashamed, being at the same time preserved. And we may be sure that the revision was made almost immediately; he was not the man to take up a piece of work again after the first excitement of it had passed away . On the contrary, he used to form larger plans than he could well execute, and leave them unfinished when he grew tired of them. I therefore propose to assign the conjectural date of the spring of 1385 to both forms of the Prologue; and I suppose that Chaucer went on with one tale of the series after another during the summer and latter part of the same year till he grew tired of the task, and at last gave it up in the middle of a sentence. An expression of doubt as to the completion of the task already appears in l. 2457.
§ 3.Comparison of the two forms of the Prologue. A detailed comparison of the two forms of the Prologue would extend to a great length. I merely point out some of the more remarkable variations.
The first distinct note of difference that calls for notice is at line A. 89 (B. 108), p. 72, where the line—
- ‘When passed was almost the month of May’
is altered to—
- ‘And this was now the firste morwe of May.’
This is clearly done for the sake of greater definiteness, and because of the association of the 1st of May with certain national customs expressive of rejoicing. It is emphasized by the statements in B. 114 as to the exact position of the sun (see note to the line). In like manner the vague expression about ‘the Ioly tyme of May’ in A. 36 is exchanged for the more exact—‘whan that the month of May Is comen’; B. 36. In the B-text, the date is definitely fixed; in ll. 36-63 we learn what he usually did on the recurrence of the May-season; in ll. 103-124, we have his (supposed) actual rising at the dawn of May-day; then the manner in which he spent that day (ll. 179-185); and lastly, the arrival of night, his return home, his falling asleep, and his dream (ll. 197-210). He awakes on the morning of May 2, and sets to work at once (ll. 578, 579).
Another notable variation is on p. 71. On arriving at line A. 70, he puts aside A. 71-80 for the present, to be introduced later on (p. 77); and writes the new and important passage contained in B. 83-96 (p. 71). The lady whom he here addresses as being his ‘very light,’ one whom his heart dreads, whom he obeys as a harp obeys the hand of the player, who is his guide, his ‘lady sovereign,’ and his ‘earthly god,’ cannot be mistaken. The reference is obviously to his sovereign lady the queen; and the expression ‘earthly god’ is made clear by the declaration (in B. 387) that kings are as demi-gods in this present world.
In A., the Proem or true Introduction ends at l. 88, and is more marked than in B., wherein it ends at l. 102.
The passage in A. contained in ll. 127-138 (pp. 75, 76) is corrupt and imperfect in the MS. The sole existing copy of it was evidently made from a MS. that had been more or less defaced; I have had to restore it as I best could. The B-text has here been altered and revised, though the variations are neither extensive nor important; but the passage is immediately followed by about 30 new lines, in which Mercy is said to be a greater power than Right, or strict Justice, especially when Right is overcome ‘through innocence and ruled curtesye’; the application of which expression is obvious.
In B. 183-187 we have the etymology of daisy, the declaration that ‘she is the empress of flowers,’ and a prayer for her prosperity, i. e. for the prosperity of the queen.
In A. 103 (p. 73), the poet falls asleep and dreams. In his dream, he sees a lark (A. 141, p. 79) who introduces the God of Love. In the B-text, the dream is postponed till B. 210 (p. 79), and the lark is left out, as being unnecessary. This is a clear improvement.
An important change is made in the ‘Balade’ at pp. 83, 84. The refrain is altered from ‘Alceste is here’ to ‘My lady cometh.’ The reason is twofold. The poet wishes to suppress the name of Alcestis for the present, in order to introduce it as a surprise towards the end (B. 518) ; and secondly, the words ‘My lady cometh’ are used as being directly applicable to the queen, instead of being only applicable through the medium of allegory. Indeed, Chaucer takes good care to say so; for he inserts a passage to that effect (B. 271-5); where we may remember, by the way, that free means ‘bounteous’ in Middle English. We have a few additional lines of the same sort in B. 296-299.
On the other hand, Chaucer suppressed the long and interesting passage in A. 258-264, 267-287, 289-312, for no very obvious reason. But for the existence of MS. C., it would have been wholly lost to us, and the recovery of it is a clear gain. Most interesting of all is the allusion to Chaucer’s sixty books of his own, all full of love-stories and personages known to history, in which, for every bad woman, mention was duly made of a hundred good ones (A. 273-277, p. 88) . Important also is his mention of some of his authors, such as Valerius, Livy, Claudian, Jerome, Ovid, and Vincent of Beauvais.
If, as we have seen, Alcestis in this Prologue really meant the queen, it should follow that the God of Love really meant the king. This is made clear in B. 373-408, especially in the comparison between a just king (such as Richard, of course) and the tyrants of Lombardy. In fact, in A. 360-364, Chaucer said a little too much about the duty of a king to hear the complaints and petitions of the people, and he very wisely omitted it in revision. In A. 355, he used the unlucky word ‘wilfulhed’ as an attribute of a Lombard tyrant; but as it was not wholly inapplicable to the king of England, he quietly suppressed it. But the comparison of the king to a lion, and of himself to a fly, was in excellent taste; so no alteration was needed here (p. 94).
In his enumeration of his former works (B. 417-430), he left out one work which he had previously mentioned (A. 414, 415, p. 96). This work is now lost , and was probably omitted as being a mere translation, and of no great account. Perhaps the poet’s good sense told him that the original was a miserable production, as it must certainly be allowed to be, if we employ the word miserable with its literal meaning (see p. 307).
At pp. 103, 104, some lines are altered in A. (527-532) in order to get rid of the name of Alcestis here, and to bring in a more immediate reference to the Balade. Line B. 540 is especiall curious, because he had ot, in the first instance, forgotten to put her in his Balade (see A. 209); but he now wished to seem to have done so.
In B. 552-565, we have an interesting addition, in which Love charges him to put all the nineteen ladies, besides Alcestis, into his Legend; and tells him that he may choose his own metre (B. 562). Again, in B. 568-577, he practically stipulates that he is only to tell the more interesting part of each story, and to leave out whatever he should deem to be tedious. This proviso was eminently practical and judicious.
§ 4.The subject of the Legend. We learn, from B. 241, 283, that Chaucer saw in his vision Alcestis and nineteen other ladies, and from B. 557, that he was to commemorate them all in his Legend, beginning with Cleopatra (566) and ending with Alcestis (549, 550). As to the names of the nineteen, they are to be found in his Balade (555).
Upon turning to the Balade (p. 83), the names actually mentioned include some which are hardly admissible. For example, Absalom and Jonathan are names of men; Esther is hardly a suitable subject, whilst Ysoult belongs to a romance of medieval times. (Cf. A. 275, p. 88.) The resulting practicable list is thus reduced to the following, viz. Penelope, Marcia, Helen, Lavinia, Lucretia, Polyxena, Cleopatra, Thisbe, Hero, Dido, Laodamia, Phyllis, Canace, Hypsipyle, Hypermnestra, and Ariadne. At the same time, we find legends of Medea and Philomela, though neither of these are mentioned in the Balade. It is of course intended that the Balade should give a representative list only, without being exactly accurate.
But we are next confronted by a most extraordinary piece of evidence, viz. that of Chaucer himself, when, at a later period, he wrote the Introduction to the Man of Lawes Prologue (see vol. iv. p. 131). He there expressly refers to his Legend of Good Women, which he is pleased to call ‘the Seintes Legende of Cupide,’ i. e. the Legend of Cupid’s Saints. And, in describing this former work of his, he introduces the following lines:—
- ‘Ther may be seen the large woundes wyde
- Of Lucresse, and of Babilan Tisbee;
- The swerd of Dido for the false Enee;
- The tree of Phillis for hir Demophon;
- The pleinte of Dianire and Hermion,
- Of Adriane and of Isiphilee;
- The bareyne yle stonding in the see;
- The dreynte Leander for his Erro;
- The teres of Eleyne, and eek the wo
- Of Brixseyde, and of thee, Ladomea;
- The cruelte of thee, queen Medea,
- Thy litel children hanging by the hals
- For thy Iason, that was of love so fals!
- O Ypermistra, Penelopee, Alceste,
- Your wyfhod he comendeth with the beste!
- But certeinly no word ne wryteth he
- Of thilke wikke example of Canacee’; &c.
We can only suppose that he is referring to the contents of his work in quite general terms, with a passing reference to his vision of Alcestis and the nineteen ladies, and to those mentioned in his Balade. There is no reason for supposing that he ever wrote complete tales about Deianira, Hermione, Hero, Helen, Briseis, Laodamia, or Penelope, any more than he did about Alcestis. But it is highly probable that, just at the period of writing his Introduction to the Man of Lawes Prologue, he was seriously intending to take up again his ‘Legend,’ and was planning how to continue it. But he never did it.
On comparing these two lists, we find that the following names are common to both, viz. Penelope, Helen, Lucretia, Thisbe, Hero, Dido, Laodamia, Phyllis, Canace, Hypsipyle, Hypermnestra, Ariadne, and (in effect) Alcestis. The following occur in the Balade only, viz. Marcia, Lavinia, Polyxena, Cleopatra. And the following are mentioned in the above-quoted passage only, viz. Deianira, Hermione, Briseis, Medea. We further know that he actually wrote the Legend of Philomela, though it is in neither of the above lists; whilst the story of Canace was expressly rejected. Combining our information, and rearranging it, we see that his intention was to write nineteen Legends, descriptive of twenty women, viz. Alcestis and nineteen others; the number of Legends being reduced by one owing to the treatment of the stories of Medea and Hypsipyle under one narrative. Putting aside Alcestis, whose Legend was to come last, the nineteen women can be made up as follows:—
1. Cleopatra. 2. Thisbe. 3. Dido. 4 and 5. Hypsipyle and Medea. 6. Lucretia. 7. Ariadne. 8. Philomela. 9. Phyllis. 10. Hypermnestra (all of which are extant). Next come—11. Penelope: 12. Helen: 13. Hero: 14. Laodamia (all mentioned in both lists). 15. Lavinia: 16. Polyxena (mentioned in the Balade). 17. Deianira: 18. Hermione: 19. Briseis (in the Introduction to the Man of Lawe).
This conjectural list is sufficient to elucidate Chaucer’s plan fully, and agrees with that given in the note to l. 61 of the Introduction to the Man of Lawes Tale, in vol. v.
If we next enquire how such lists of ‘martyred’ women came to be suggested to Chaucer, we may feel sure that he was thinking of Boccaccio’s book entitled De Claris Mulieribus, and of Ovid’s Heroides. Boccaccio’s book contains 105 tales of Illustrious Women, briefly told in Latin prose. Chaucer seems to have partially imitated from it the title of his poem—‘The Legend of Good Women’; and he doubtless consulted it for his purpose. But he took care to consult other sources also, in order to be able to give the tales at greater length, so that the traces of his debt to the above work by Boccaccio are very slight.
We must not, however, omit to take notice that, whilst Chaucer owes but little to Boccaccio as regards his subject-matter, it was from him, in particular, that he took his general plan. This is well shewn in the excellent and careful essay by M. Bech, printed in ‘Anglia,’ vol. v. pp. 313-382, with the title—‘Quellen und Plan der Legende of Goode Women und ihr Verhältniss zur Confessio Amantis.’ At p. 381, Bech compares Chaucer’s work with Boccaccio’s, and finds the following points of resemblance.
1. Both works treat exclusively of women; one of them speaks particularly of ‘Gode Women,’ whilst the other is written ‘De Claris Mulieribus.’
2. Both works relate chiefly to tales of olden time.
3. In both, the tales follow each other without any intermediate matter.
4. Both are compacted into a whole by means of an introductory Prologue.
5. Both writers wish to dedicate their works to a queen, but effect this modestly and indirectly. Boccaccio addresses his Prologue to a countess, telling her that he wishes to dedicate his book to Joanna, queen of Jerusalem and Sicily; whilst Chaucer veils his address to queen Anne under the guise of allegory.
6. Both record the fact of their writing in a time of comparative leisure. Boccaccio uses the words: ‘paululum ab inerti uulgo semotus et a ceteris fere solutus curis.’
7. Had Chaucer finished his work, his last Legend would have related to Alcestis, i. e. to the queen herself. Boccaccio actually concludes his work with a chapter ‘De Iohanna Hierusalem et Sicilie regina.’
See further in Bech, who quotes Boccaccio’s ‘Prologue’ in full.
To this comparison should be added (as Bech remarks) an accidental coincidence which is even more striking, viz. that the work ‘De Claris Mulieribus’ bears much the same relation to the more famous one entitled ‘Il Decamerone,’ that the Legend of Good Women does to the Canterbury Tales.
Boccaccio has all of Chaucer’s finished tales, except those of Ariadne, Philomela, and Phyllis ; he also gives the stories of some whom Chaucer only mentions, such as the stories of Deianira (cap. 22), Polyxena (cap. 31), Helena (cap. 35), Penelope (cap. 38); and others. To Ovid our author is much more indebted, and frequently translates passages from his Heroides (or Epistles) and from the Metamorphoses. The former of these works contains the Epistles of Phyllis, Hypsipyle, Medea, Dido, Ariadne, and Hypermnestra, whose stories Chaucer relates, as well as the letters of most of those whom Chaucer merely mentions, viz. of Penelope, Briseis, Hermione, Deianira, Laodamia, Helena, and Hero. It is evident that our poet was chiefly guided by Ovid in selecting stories from the much larger collection in Boccaccio. At the same time it is remarkable that neither Boccaccio (in the above work) nor Ovid gives the story of Alcestis, and it is not quite certain whence Chaucer obtained it. It is briefly told in the 51st of the Fabulae of Hyginus, but it is much more likely that Chaucer borrowed it from another work by Boccaccio, entitled De Genealogia Deorum , where it appears amongst the fifty-one labours of Hercules, in the following words:—
‘Alcestem Admeti regis Thessaliae coniugem retraxit [Hercules] ad uirum. Dicunt enim, quod cum infirmaretur Admetus, implorassetque Apollinis auxilium, sibi ab Apolline dictum mortem euadere non posse, nisi illam aliquis ex affinibus atque necessariis subiret. Quod cum audisset Alcestis coniunx, non dubitauit suam pro salute uiri concedere, et sic ea mortua Admetus liberatus est, qui plurimum uxori compatiens Herculem orauit, vt ad inferos uadens illius animam reuocaret ad superos, quod et factum est.’—Lib. xiii. c. 1 (ed. 1532).
§ 5.The Daisy. To this story Chaucer has added a pretty addition of his own invention, that this heroine was finally transformed into a daisy. The idea of choosing this flower as the emblem of perfect wifehood was certainly a happy one, and has often been admired. It is first alluded to by Lydgate, in a Poem against Self-Love (see Lydgate’s Minor Poems, ed. Halliwell, p. 161):—
- ‘Alcestis flower, with white, with red and greene,
- Displaieth hir crown geyn Phebus bemys brihte.’
And again, in the same author’s Temple of Glas, ll. 71-74:—
- ‘I mene Alceste, the noble trewe wyf . . .
- Hou she was turned to a dayesye.’
The anonymous author of the Court of Love seized upon the same fancy to adorn his description of the Castle of Love, which, as he tells us, was—
- ‘With-in and oute depeinted wonderly
- With many a thousand daisy[es] rede as rose
- And white also, this sawe I verely.
- But what tho deis[y]es might do signifye
- Can I not tel, saufe that the quenes floure,
- Alceste, it was, that kept ther her soioure,
- Which vnder Uenus lady was and quene,
- And Admete kyng and souerain of that place,
- To whom obeied the ladies good ninetene,
- With many a thousand other bright of face .’
The mention of ‘the ladies good ninetene’ at once shews us whence this mention of Alcestis was borrowed.
In a modern book entitled Flora Historica, by Henry Phillips, 2nd ed. i. 42, we are gravely told that ‘fabulous history informs us that this plant [the daisy] is called Bellis because it owes its origin to Belides, a granddaughter of Danaus, and one of the nymphs called Dryads, that presided over the meadows and pastures in ancient times. Belides is said to have encouraged the suit of Ephigenus, but whilst dancing on the green with this rural deity she attracted the admiration of Vertumnus, who, just as he was about to seize her in his embrace, saw her transformed into the humble plant that now bears her name.’ It is clear that the concocter of this stupid story was not aware that Belides is a plural substantive, being the collective name of the fifty daughters of Danaus, who are here rolled into one in order to be transformed into a single daisy; and all because the words bellis and Belides happen to begin with the same three letters! It may also be noticed that ‘in ancient times’ the business of the Dryads was to preside over trees rather than ‘over meadows and pastures.’ Who the ‘rural deity’ was who is here named ‘Ephigeus’ I neither know nor care. But it is curious to observe the degeneracy of the story for which Chaucer was (in my belief) originally responsible . See Notes and Queries, 7th S. vi. 186, 309.
Of course it is easy to see that this invention on the part of Chaucer is imitated from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, where Clytie becomes a sun-flower, Daphne a laurel, and Narcissus, Crocus, and Hyacinthus become, respectively, a narcissus, a crocus, and a hyacinth. At the same time, Chaucer’s attention may have been directed to the daisy in particular, as Tyrwhitt long ago pointed out, by a perusal of such poems as Le Dit de la fleur de lis et de la Marguerite, by Guillaume de Machault (printed in Tarbe’s edition, 1849, p. 123), and Le Dittié de la flour de la Margherite, by Froissart (printed in Bartsch’s Chrestomathie de l’ancien Français, 1875, p. 422); see Introduction to Chaucer’s Minor Poems, in vol. i. p. 36. In particular, we may well compare lines 42, 48, 49, 60-63 of our B-text with Machault’s Dit de la Marguerite (ed. Tarbé, p. 123):—
- ‘J’aim une fleur, qui s’uevre et qui s’encline
- Vers le soleil, de jour quant il chemine;
- Et quant il est couchiez soubz sa courtine
- Par nuit obscure,
- Elle se clost, ainsois que li jours fine.’
And again, we may compare ll. 53-55 with the lines in Machault that immediately follow, viz.
- ‘Toutes passe, ce mest vis, en coulour,
- Et toutes ha surmonté de douçour;
- Ne comparer
- Ne se porroit nulle à li de coulour’: &c.
The resemblance is, I think, too close to be accidental.
We may also compare (though the resemblance is less striking) ll. 40-57 of the B-text of the Prologue (pp. 68, 69) with ll. 22-30 of Froissart’s poem on the Daisy:—
- ‘Son doulç vëoir grandement me proufite,
- et pour ce est dedens mon coer escripte
- si plainnement
- que nuit et jour en pensant ie recite
- les grans vertus de quoi elle est confite,
- et di ensi: “la heure soit benite
- quant pour moi ai tele flourette eslite,
- qui de bonté et de beauté est dite
- la souveraine,” ’ &c.
At l. 68 of the same poem, as pointed out by M. Sandras (Étude sur G. Chaucer, 1859, p. 58), and more clearly by Bech (Anglia, v. 363),) we have a story of a woman named Herés—‘une pucelle [qui] ama tant son mari’—whose tears, shed for the loss of her husband Cephëy, were turned by Jupiter into daisies as they fell upon the green turf. There they were discovered, one January, by Mercury, who formed a garland of them, which he sent by a messenger named Lirés to Serés (Ceres). Ceres was so pleased by the gift that she caused Lirés to be beloved, which he had never been before.
This mention of Ceres doubtless suggested Chaucer’s mention of Cibella (Cybele) in B. 531. In fact, Chaucer first transforms Alcestis herself into a daisy (B. 512); but afterwards tells us that Jupiter changed her into a constellation (B. 525), whilst Cybele made the daisies spring up ‘in remembrance and honour’ of her. The clue seems to be in the name Cephëy, representing Cephei, gen. case of Cepheus. He was a king of Ethiopia, husband of Cassiope, father of Andromeda, and father-in-law of Perseus. They were all four ‘stellified,’ and four constellations bear their names even to the present day. According to the old mythology, it was not Alcestis, but Cassiope, who was said to be ‘stellified .’ The whole matter is thus sufficiently illustrated.
§ 6.Agaton. This is, perhaps, the most convenient place for explaining who is meant by Agaton (B. 526). The solution of this difficult problem was first given by Cary, in his translation of Dante’s Purgatorio, canto xxii. l. 106, where the original has Agatone. Cary first quotes Chaucer, and then the opinion of Tyrwhitt, that there seems to be no reference to ‘any of the Agathoes of antiquity,’ and adds: ‘I am inclined to believe that Chaucer must have meant Agatho, the dramatic writer, whose name, at least, appears to have been familiar in the Middle Ages; for, besides the mention of him in the text, he is quoted by Dante in the Treatise de Monarchia, lib. iii. “Deus per nuncium facere non potest, genita non esse genita, iuxta sententiam Agathonis.” ’ The original is to be found in Aristotle, Ethic. Nicom. lib. vi. c. 2:—
- Μόνου γὰρ αὐτου̑ καὶ θεὸς στερίσκεται
- Ἀγένητα ποιει̑ν ἅσσ’ ἂν ᾐ̑ πεπραγμένα.
Agatho is mentioned by Xenophon in his Symposium, by Plato in the Protagoras, and in the Banquet, a favourite book with our author [Dante], and by Aristotle in his Art of Poetry, where the following remarkable passage occurs concerning him, from which I will leave it to the reader to decide whether it is possible that the allusion in Chaucer might have arisen: ἐν ἐνίαις μὲν ἓν ἢ δύο τω̑ν γνωρίμων ἐστὶν ὀνομάτων, τὰ δὲ ἄλλα πεποιημένα· ἐν ἐνίαις δὲ οὐθέν· οἱ̑ον ἐν τῳ̑ Ἀγάθωνος Ἄνθει. ὁμοίως γὰρ ἐν τούτῳ τά τε πράγματα καὶ τὰ ὀνόματα πεποίηται, καὶ οὐδὲν ἡ̑ττον εὐϕραίνει. Edit. 1794, p. 33. “There are, however, some tragedies, in which one or two of the names are historical, and the rest feigned; there are even some, in which none of the names are historical; such is Agatho’s tragedy called ‘The Flower’; for in that all is invention, both incidents and names; and yet it pleases.” Aristotle’s Treatise on Poetry, by Thos. Twining, 8vo. edit. 1812, vol. i. p. 128.’
The peculiar spelling Agaton renders it highly probable that Chaucer took the name from Dante (Purg. xxii. 106), but this does not wholly suffice . Accordingly, Bech suggests that he may also have noticed the name in the Saturnalia of Macrobius, an author whose Somnium Scipionis Chaucer certainly consulted (Book Duch. 284; Parl. Foules, 111). In this work Macrobius mentions, incidentally, both Alcestis (lib. v. c. 19) and Agatho (lib. ii. c. 1), and Chaucer may have observed the names there, though he obtained no particular information about them. Froissart (as Bech bids us remark), in his poem on the Daisy, has the lines:—
- ‘Mercurius, ce dist li escripture,
- trouva premier
- la belle flour que j’ainc oultre mesure,’ &c.
The remark—‘ce dist li escripture,’ ‘as the book says’—may well have suggested to Chaucer that he ought to give some authority for his story, and the name of Agatho (of whom he probably knew nothing more than the name) served his turn as well as another. His easy way of citing authors is probably, at times, humorously assumed; and such may be the explanation of his famous ‘Lollius.’ It is quite useless to make any further search.
I may add that this Agatho, or Agathon (Ἀγάθων), was an Athenian tragic poet, and a friend of Euripides and Plato. He was born about 447, and died about 400.
Lounsbury (Studies in Chaucer, ii. 402) rejects this explanation; but it is not likely that we shall ever meet with a better one.
§ 7.Chief Sources of the Legend. The more obvious sources of the various tales have frequently been pointed out. Thus Prof. Morley, in his English Writers, v. 241 (1890), says that Thisbe is from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, iv. 55-166; Dido, from Vergil and Ovid’s Heroides, Ep. vii; Hypsipyle and Medea from Ovid (Met. vii., Her. Ep. vi, xii); Lucretia from Ovid (Fasti, ii. 721) and Livy (Hist. i. 57); Ariadne and Philomela from Ovid (Met. viii. 152, vi. 412-676), and Phyllis and Hypermnestra also from Ovid (Her. Ep. ii. and Ep. xiv). He also notes the allusion to St. Augustine (De Civitate Dei, cap. xix.) in l. 1690, and observes that all the tales, except those of Ariadne and Phyllis , are in Boccaccio’s De Claris Mulieribus. But it is possible to examine them a little more closely, and to obtain further light upon at least a few other points. It will be most convenient to take each piece in its order. For some of my information, I am indebted to the essay by Bech, above mentioned (p. xxviii).
§ 8.Prologue. Original. Besides mere passing allusions, we find references to the story of Alcestis, queen of Thrace (432 , 518). As she is not mentioned in Boccaccio’s book De Claris Mulieribus, and Ovid nowhere mentions her name, and only alludes in passing to the ‘wife of Admetus’ in two passages (Ex Ponto, iii. 1. 106; Trist. v. 14. 37), it is tolerably certain that Chaucer must have read her story either in Boccaccio’s book De Genealogia Deorum, lib. xiii. c. 1 (see p. xxix), or in the Fables of Hyginus (Fab. 51). A large number of the names mentioned in the Balade (249) were suggested either by Boccaccio’s De Claris Mulieribus, or by Ovid’s Heroides; probably, by both of these works. We may here also note that the Fables of Hyginus very briefly give the stories of Jason and Medea (capp. 24, 25); Theseus and Ariadne (capp. 41-43); Philomela (cap. 45); Alcestis (cap. 51); Phyllis (cap. 59); Laodamia (cap. 104); Polyxena (cap. 110); Hypermnestra (cap. 168); Nisus and Scylla (cap. 198; cf. ll. 1904-1920); Penelope (cap. 126); and Helena (capp. 78, 92). The probability that Chaucer consulted Machault’s and Froissart’s poems has already been discussed; see p. xxxi.
It is interesting to note that Chaucer had already praised many of his Good Women in previous poems. Compare such passages as the following:—
- ‘Of Medea and of Iason,
- Of Paris, Eleyne, and Lavyne.’
- ‘By as good right as Medea was,
- That slow her children for Iason;
- And Phyllis als for Demophon
- Heng hir-self, so weylaway!
- For he had broke his terme-day
- To come to her. Another rage
- Had Dydo, quene eek of Cartage,
- That slow hir-self, for Eneas
- Was fals; a! whiche a fool she was!’
- —‘as moche debonairtee
- As ever had Hester in the bible.’
- ‘For love of hir, Polixena— . .
- She was as good, so have I reste,
- As ever Penelope of Greece,
- Or as the noble wyf Lucrece,
- That was the beste—he telleth thus,
- The Romain, Tytus Livius.’
- ‘She passed hath Penelope and Lucresse.’
- ‘Biblis, Dido, Tisbe and Piramus,
- Tristram, Isoude, Paris, and Achilles,
- Eleyne, Cleopatre, and Troilus.’
- ‘But al the maner how she [Dido] deyde,
- And al the wordes that she seyde,
- Who-so to knowe hit hath purpos,
- Reed Virgile in Eneidos
- Or the Epistle of Ovyde,
- What that she wroot or that she dyde;
- And, nere hit to long to endyte,
- By god, I wolde hit here wryte.’
The last quotation proves clearly, that Chaucer was already meditating a new version of the Legend of Dido, to be made up from the Æneid and the Heroides, whilst still engaged upon the House of Fame (which actually gives this story at considerable length, viz. in ll. 140-382); and consequently, that the Legend of Good Women succeeded the House of Fame by a very short interval. But this is not all; for only a few lines further on we find the following passage:—
- ‘Lo, Demophon, duk of Athenis,
- How he forswor him ful falsly,
- And trayed Phillis wikkedly,
- That kinges doghter was of Trace,
- And falsly gan his terme pace;
- And when she wiste that he was fals,
- She heng hir-self right by the hals,
- For he had do hir swich untrouthe;
- Lo! was not this a wo and routhe?
- Eek lo! how fals and reccheles
- Was to Briseida Achilles,
- And Paris to Oënone;
- And Iason to Isiphile;
- And eft Iason to Medea;
- And Ercules to Dyanira;
- For he lefte hir for Iöle,
- That made him cacche his deeth, parde!
- How fals eek was he, Theseus;
- That, as the story telleth us,
- How he betrayed Adriane;
- The devel be his soules bane !
- For had he laughed, had he loured,
- He mostë have be al devoured,
- If Adriane ne had y-be !’
Here we already have an outline of the Legend of Phyllis; a reference to Briseis; to Jason, Hypsipyle, Medea, and to Deianira; a sufficient sketch of the Legend of Ariadne; and another version of the Legend of Dido.
We trace a lingering influence upon Chaucer of the Roman de la Rose; see notes to ll. 125, 128, 171. Dante is both quoted and mentioned by name; ll. 357-360. Various other allusions are pointed out in the Notes.
In ll. 280, 281, 284, 305-308 of the A-text of the Prologue (pp. 89, 90), Chaucer refers us to several authors, but not necessarily in connexion with the present work. Yet he actually makes use (at second-hand) of Titus (i. e. Livy, l. 1683), and also further of the ‘epistles of Ovyde.’ He takes occasion to refer to his own translation of the Roman de la Rose (B. ll. 329, 441, 470), and to his Troilus (ll. 332, 441, 469); besides enumerating many of his poems (417-428).
I.The Legend of Cleopatra. The source of this legend is by no means clear. As Bech points out, some expressions shew that one of the sources was the Epitome Rerum Romanarum of L. Annæus Florus, lib. iv. c. 11; see notes to ll. 655, 662, 679. No doubt Chaucer also consulted Boccaccio’s De Claris Mulieribus, cap. 86, though he makes no special use of the account there given. The story is also in the history of Orosius, bk. iv. c. 19; see Sweet’s edition of King Alfred’s Orosius, p. 247. Besides which, I think he may have had access to a Latin translation of Plutarch, or of excerpts from the same; see the notes.
It is worth while to note here that Gower (ed. Pauli, iii. 361) has the following lines:—
- ‘I sigh [saw] also the woful quene
- Cleopatras, which in a cave
- With serpents hath her-self begrave
- Al quik, and so was she to-tore,
- For sorwe of that she hadde lore
- Antonie, which her love hath be.
- And forth with her I sigh Thisbe’; &c.
It is clear that he here refers to Chaucer’s Legend of Good Women, because he actually repeats Chaucer’s very peculiar account of the manner of Cleopatra’s death. See § 9, p. xl. Compare L. G. W. ll. 695-697; and note that, both in Chaucer and Gower, the Legend of Thisbe follows that of Cleopatra; whilst the Legend of Philomela immediately follows that of Ariadne. This is more than mere coincidence. See Bech’s essay; Anglia, v. 365.
II.The Legend of Thisbe. This is from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, iv. 55-166, and from no other source. Some of the lines are closely translated, but in other places the phraseology is entirely recast. The free manner in which Chaucer treats his original is worthy of study; see, as to this, the excellent criticism of Ten Brink, in his Geschichte der Englischen Litteratur; ii. 117. Most noteworthy of all is his suppression of the mythological element. The story gains in pathos in a high degree by the omission of the mulberry-tree, the colour of the fruit of which was changed from white to black by the blood of Pyramus; see note to l. 851. This is the more remarkable, because it was just for the sake of this very metamorphosis that Ovid admitted the tale into his series. See also notes to ll. 745, 784, 797, 798, 814, 835, 869, &c.; and cf. Gower’s Confessio Amantis, ed. Pauli, i. 324.
III.The Legend of Dido. Chiefly from Vergil’s Aeneid, books i-iv. (see note to l. 928, and compare the notes throughout); but ll. 1355-1365 are from Ovid’s Heroides, vii. 1-8, quoted at length in the note to l. 1355. And see, particularly, the House of Fame, ll. 140-382. Cf. Gower, C. A. ii. 4-6 .
IV.The Legends of Hypsipyle and Medea. The sources mentioned by Morley are Ovid’s Metamorphoses, bk. vii., and Heroides, epist. vi.; to which we must add Heroides, epist. xii. But this omits a much more important source, to which Chaucer expressly refers. In l. 1396, all previous editions have the following reading—‘In Tessalye, as Ovyde telleth us’; but four important MSS. read Guido for Ovyde, and they are quite right . The false reading Ovyde is the more remarkable, because all the MSS. have the reading Guido in l. 1464, where a change would have destroyed the rime. As a matter of fact, ll. 1396-1461 are from Guido delle Colonne’s Historia Troiana, book i. (see notes to ll. 1396, 1463); and ll. 1580-3, 1589-1655 are also from the same, book ii. (see notes to ll. 1580, 1590). Another source which Chaucer may have consulted, though he made but little use of it, was the first and second books of the Argonautica of Valerius Flaccus, expressly mentioned in l. 1457 (see notes to ll. 1457, 1469, 1479, 1509, 1558) . The use made of Ovid, Met. vii., is extremely slight (see note to l. 1661). As to Ovid, Her. vii., xii., see notes to ll. 1564, 1670. The net result is that Guido is a far more important source of this Legend than all the passages from Ovid put together. Chaucer also doubtless consulted the fifth book of the Thebaid of his favourite author Statius; see notes to ll. 1457, 1467. Perhaps he also consulted Hyginus, whose 14th Fable gives the long list of the Argonauts, and the 15th, a sketch of the story of Hypsipyle. Compare also Boccaccio, De Claris Mulieribus, capp. 15, 16; and the same, De Genealogia Deorum, lib. xiii. c. 26. Observe also that Gower gives the story of Medea, and expressly states that the tale ‘is in the boke of Troie write,’ i. e. in Guido. See Pauli’s edition, ii. 236.
V.The Legend of Lucretia. Chaucer refers to Livy’s History (bk. i. capp. 57-59); and to Ovid (Fasti, ii. 721-852). With a few exceptions, the Legend follows the latter source. He also refers to St. Augustine; see note to l. 1690 . Cf. Boccaccio, De Claris Mulieribus, cap. 46, who follows Livy. Several touches are Chaucer’s own; see notes to ll. 1812, 1838, 1861, 1871, 1881.
Gower has the same story (iii. 251), and likewise follows Ovid and Livy.
VI.The Legend of Ariadne. From Ovid, Met. vii. 456-8, viii. 6-182; Her. Epist. x. (chiefly 1-74); cf. Fasti, iii. 461-516. But Chaucer consulted other sources also, probably a Latin translation of Plutarch’s Life of Theseus; Boccaccio, De Genealogia Deorum, lib. xi. capp. 27, 29, 30; also Vergil, Aen. vi. 20-30; and perhaps Hyginus, Fabulae, capp. 41-43. Cf. House of Fame, 405-426; and Gower, ii. 302 .
VII.The Legend of Philomela. Chiefly from Ovid, Met. vi. 424-605; and perhaps from no other source, though the use of the word radevore in l. 2352 is yet to be accounted for. Cf. Boccaccio, De Genealogia Deorum, lib. ix. c. 8; and Gower, Conf. Amantis, ii. 313, who refers us to Ovid.
VIII.The Legend of Phyllis. Chiefly from Ovid, Her. Epist. ii.; cf. Remedia Amoris, 591-608. But a comparison with the story as told by Gower (C. A. ii. 26) shews that both poets consulted some further source, which I cannot trace. The tale is told by Hyginus (Fab. capp. 59, 243) and Boccaccio in a few lines. Cf. House of Fame, 388-396. A few lines are from Vergil, Æn. i. 85-102, 142; iv. 373. And see notes to Lydgate’s Temple of Glas, ed. Schick, p. 75.
IX.The Legend of Hypermnestra. Chiefly from Ovid, Her. Epist. xiv. But Ovid calls her husband Lynceus, whereas Chaucer calls him Lino. Again, Ovid does not give the name of Lynceus’ father. Chaucer not only transposes the names of the two fathers , but calls Ægyptus by the name of Egiste or Egistes. Hence we see that he also consulted Boccaccio, De Genealogia Deorum, lib. ii. c. 22, where we find the following account: ‘Danaus Beli Prisci fuit filius, ut asserit Paulus , et illud idem affirmat Lactantius, qui etiam et ante Paulum Orosium, dicit Danaum Beli filium ex pluribus coniugibus .l. filias habuisse, quas cum Ægistus frater eius, cui totidem erant melioris sexus filii, postulasset in nurus, Danaus oraculi responso comperto se manibus generi moriturum, uolens euitare periculum, conscensis nauibus in Argos uenit . . . . Ægistus autem, quod spretus esset indignans, ut illum sequerentur filiis imperauit, lege data ut nunquam domum repeterent, ni prius Danaum occidissent. Qui cum apud Argos oppugnarent patruum, ab eo diffidente fraude capti sunt. Spopondit enim se illis iuxta Ægisti uotum filias daturum in coniuges, nec defuit promisso fides. Subornatae enim a patre uirorum intrauere thalamos singulis cultris clam armatae omnes, et cum uino laetitiaque calentes iuuenes facile in soporem iuissent, obedientes patri uirgines, captato tempore iugulauerunt uiros, unaquaeque suum, Hypermestra excepta, quae Lino seu Linceo uiro suo miserta pepercit.’ We may note, by the way, that Chaucer’s spelling Hypermistre is nearer to Boccaccio’s Hypermestra than to the form in Ovid.
§ 9.Gower’s Confessio Amantis. The relationship of Gower’s Confessio Amantis to Chaucer’s Legend has been investigated by Bech; in Anglia, v. 365-371. His conclusion is, that the passages in Gower which resemble Chaucer are only three at most; and I am here concerned to shew that, in two of these, the supposed resemblance is delusive.
1. In Gower’s introduction, at the very beginning, ed. Pauli, i. 4, we are told that, but for books, the renown of many excellent people would be lost. This seems to be copied from Chaucer’s Prologue to the Legend, ll. 17-28. I have no doubt that such is the case; but we must be careful to remember that these lines by Gower form part of the prologue to his second edition, and were not written till 1393; by which time Chaucer’s lines were common property, and could be imitated by any one who chose to do it; so we really learn nothing at all from this comparison.
2. In Gower, i. 45-48, there is a passage which bears some resemblance to Chaucer’s Prologue to the Legend. But if it be considered impartially, I believe it will be found that the resemblance is too vague to be of any value, and cannot be relied upon. We really must not set much store by such generalities as the mention of the month of May; the address of the poet to Cupid and Venus; the wrathful aspect of Cupid; and the graciousness of Venus, who bids him disclose his malady and shrive himself. If Gower could not ‘invent’ such common poetical talk, he had small business to write at all. I would rather conclude, that Gower had no opportunity of seeing Chaucer’s poem till somewhat later; for it is a striking fact, that, whereas Gower seized the opportunity of copying some of Chaucer’s phrases in the Tale of Constance (see this discussed at p. 415), he tells several of Chaucer’s Legends, such as those of Thisbe, Dido, Medea, Lucrece, Ariadne, Philomela, and Phyllis in a wholly independent manner; and, when telling the tale of Alcestis (iii. 149), he had no idea that she was ever transformed into a daisy. Moreover, if he had been able to refer to the Legend, l. 1355-6, he would hardly have translated ‘Maeandri’ by ‘king Menander’ (ii. 5).
Without hesitation, I dismiss these alleged resemblances as trifling, and the deduction from them as misleading.
3. But when we come to the very end of Gower’s work (iii. 357-367), the case is entirely altered, and the resemblances are striking and irrefragable. This is best seen by comparing the whole passage. Gower is in the midst of lamenting his old age, a subject to which he afterwards returns, when he suddenly introduces a digression, in which he sees
- ‘Cupide with his bowe bent;
- And, like unto a parlement
- Which were ordeined for the nones,
- With him cam al the world atones
- Of gentil folk, that whilom were
- Lovers; I sigh hem alle there’ . . .
- ‘Garlondes, nought of o colour,
- Some of the lefe, som of the flour,
- And some of grete perles were.’
After which we are introduced to Tristram and Isolde, Jason and Hercules, Theseus and Phedra, Troilus and Criseide and Diomede, Pyramus, Dido, Phyllis, Adriane, Cleopatra, Tisbe, Progne and Philomene and Tereus, Lucrece, Alcestis; and even Ceyx and Alcyone (cf. Chaucer’s youthful poem). The matter is put beyond doubt by Gower’s adoption of Chaucer’s peculiar account of Cleopatra’s death, as already noted above; see p. xxxvii.
The conclusion to be drawn from these facts is obvious. We see that, in the year 1385, Gower had almost completed his long poem, and communicated the fact to his friend Chaucer; and Chaucer, in return, told him of the new poem (the Legend) upon which he was then himself engaged, so planned as to contain nineteen tales or sections, and likely to extend to some 6,000 lines. Moreover, it was written in a new metre, such as no Englishman had ever employed before. Gower was allowed to see the MS. and to read a considerable portion of it. He was so struck with it as to make room for some remarks about it; and even went out of his way to introduce a personal reference to his friend. He makes Venus say to himself (iii. 374):—
- ‘And grete wel Chaucer, whan ye mete,
- As my disciple and my poete . . .
- Forthy now, in his dayes olde ,
- Thou shalt telle him this message,
- That he, upon his later age ,
- To sette an ende of alle his werke,
- As he, which is myn owne clerke,
- Do make his testament of love,
- (As thou hast do thy shrift above),
- So that my court it may recorde.’
That is to say, Chaucer, being the poet of Venus, is to make his testament of love, or final declaration concerning love, in a form suitable for being recorded in the court of the goddess. This ‘testament’ is, of course, the Legend of Good Women, in which the martyrs of love are duly recorded; and their stories, written at the command of Cupid and by way of penance for what he had missaid against women, were to be placed to the good side of the author’s account with Venus and her son. Moreover, they were finally to be sent in to the visible representative of the court of Love, viz. to the queen of England and her court.
It is interesting to observe that Gower, like Chaucer himself at the moment, regarded this poem as the crowning effort of Chaucer’s poetical career. Neither of them had, at the time, any suspicion that Chaucer would, after all, ‘sette an ende of alle his werke’ in a very different manner. We may thus confidently date the first edition of Gower’s Confessio Amantis in the year 1385, before the Legend of Hypermnestra was abandoned in the middle of a sentence. The date of the second edition of the same is 1393; and it is a great help to have these dates thus settled.
§ 10.Metre. The most interesting point about this poem is that it is the first of the ‘third period’ of Chaucer’s literary work. Here, for the first time, he writes a series of tales, to which he prefixes a prologue; he adopts a new style, in which he seeks to delineate characters; and, at the same time, he introduces a new metre, previously unknown to English writers, but now famous as ‘the heroic couplet.’ In all these respects, the Legend is evidently the forerunner of the Canterbury Tales, and we see how he was gradually, yet unconsciously, preparing himself for that supreme work. In two notable respects, as Ten Brink remarks, the Legend is inferior to the Tales. The various legends composing it are merely grouped together, not joined by connecting links which afford an agreeable relief. And again, the Prologue to the Legend is mere allegory, whilst the famous Prologue to the Tales is full of real life and dramatic sketches of character.
Chaucer had already introduced the seven-line stanza, unknown to his predecessors—the earliest example being the Compleint unto Pite—as well as the eight-line stanza, employed in his earliest extant poem, the A. B. C. For the hint as to this form of verse, he was doubtless indebted in the first instance to French poets, such as Guillaume de Machault, though he afterwards conformed his lines, as regarded their cadence and general laws, to those of Boccaccio and Dante .
The idea of the heroic couplet was also, I suppose, taken from French; we find it in a Complainte written by Machault about 1356-8 (see below, p. 383); but here, again, Chaucer’s melody has rather the Italian than the French character. The lines in Froissart’s poem on the Daisy (p. xxxi) are of the same length, but rime together in groups of seven lines at a time, separated by short lines having two accents only. Boccaccio’s favourite stanza in the Teseide, known as the ottava rima, ends with two lines that form an heroic couplet .
§ 11.‘Clipped’ Lines. It ought to be clearly understood that the introduction of the new metre was quite an experiment, for which Chaucer himself offers some apology when he makes the God of Love say expressly: ‘Make the metres of hem as thee leste’ (l. 562). Hence it was that he introduced into the line a variety which is now held to be inadmissible; though we must not forget that even so great a master of melody as Tennyson, after beginning his ‘Vision of Sin’ with lines of normal length, begins the second portion of it with the lines:—
- ‘Then methought I heard a hollow sound
- Gathering up from all the lower ground;
- Narrowing in to where they sat assembled,
- Low voluptuous music winding trembled,’ &c.
It is precisely this variation that Chaucer sometimes allowed himself, and it is easy to see how it came to pass.
In lines of a shorter type we constantly find a similar variation. There are a large number of ‘clipped’ lines in the House of Fame. Practically, their first foot consists of a single syllable, and they may be scanned accordingly, by marking off that syllable at the beginning. Thus, ll. 2117-2120 run thus:—
- ‘And leet | hem gon. Ther might’ I seen
- Weng | ed wondres faste fleen,
- Twent | ty thousand in a route,
- As E | olus hem blew aboute.’
This variation is still admissible, and is, of course, common enough in such poems as Milton’s L’Allegro and Il Penseroso. It is considered a beauty.
The introduction of two more syllables in lines of the above type gives us a similar variation in the longer line. If, for example, after the word thousand in the third of the above lines, we introduce the word freres (dissyllabic), we obtain the line:—
- ‘Twen | ty thousand freres in a route.’
It is a remarkable fact, that this very line actually occurs in the Canterbury Tales (Group D, 1695); as I have pointed out in the note to l. 2119 of the House of Fame, at p. 286 below. Persistent efforts have often been made to deny this fact, to declare it ‘impossible,’ and to deride me for having pointed it out (as I did in 1866, in Morris’s edition of Chaucer, i. 174); but I believe that the fact is now pretty generally admitted. It is none the less necessary to say here, that there is rather a large number of such lines in the Legend of Good Women; precisely as we might expect to find in a metre which was, in fact, a new experiment. As it is advisable to present the evidence rather fully, I here cite several of these lines, marking off the first syllable in the right way:—
- ‘That | of all’ the flour-es in the med-e’; 41.
- ‘Suf | fisaunt this flour to preys’ aright’; 67.
- ‘Of | this flour, when that it shuld unclos-e’; 111.
- ‘Mad’ | her lyk a daisie for to sen-e’; 224.
- ‘Half | hir beautee shulde men nat fynd-e’; 245.
- ‘With | the whyt-e coroun, clad in gren-e’; 303.
- ‘Mai | dens been y-kept, for Ielosy-e’; 722.
- ‘For | to met’ in o plac’ at o tyd-e’; 783.
- ‘With | her fac’ y-wimpled subtilly’; 797.
- ‘Both | e with her hert’ and with her y-ën’; 859.
- ‘Bet | ing with his hel-es on the ground-e’; 863.
- ‘We | that wer-en whylom children your-e’; 901.
- ‘Been | as trew’ and loving as a man’; 911.
- ‘Had | den in this temple been ov’r-al’; 1024.
- ‘We | that wer-en in prosperitee’; 1030.
- ‘Lyk | ed him the bet, as, god do bot-e’; 1076.
- ‘Lov’ | wol lov’, for no wight wol hit wond-e’; 1187.
- ‘Send’ | her lettres, tokens, broches, ring-es’; 1275.
- ‘Mer | cy, lord! hav’ pitè in your thoght’; 1324.
- ‘Twen | ty tym’ y-swowned hath she than-ne’; 1342.
- ‘With | her meynee, end-e-long the strond-e’; 1498.
- ‘Yift | es gret’, and to her officeres’; 1551.
- ‘Fad | er, moder, husbond, al y-fer-e’; 1828.
- ‘Fight | en with this fend, and him defend-e’; 1996.
- ‘Tell | en al his doing to and fro’; 2471.
- ‘Y | permistra, yongest of hem all-e’; 2575.
It is worth notice that they become scarcer towards the end of the poem. For all that, Chaucer regarded this form of the line as an admissible variety, and Hoccleve and Lydgate followed him in this peculiarity. The practice of Hoccleve and Lydgate is entirely ignored by those to whom it is convenient to ignore it. Perhaps they do not understand it. The usual argument of those who wish to regulate Chaucer’s verse according to their own preconceived ideas, is to exclaim against the badness of the MSS. and the stupidity of the scribes. This was tolerably safe before Dr. Furnivall printed his valuable and exact copies of the MSS., but is less safe now. We now have twelve MSS. (some imperfect) in type, besides a copy of Thynne’s first edition of the poem in 1532, making thirteen authorities in all. Now, as far as this particular matter is concerned, the chief MSS. shew a wonderful unanimity. In ll. 41, 111, 224, 722, 797, 901, 911, 1076, 1187, 1996, there is no variation that affects the scansion. And this means a great deal more than it seems to do at first sight. For the scribes of MSS. A. and T. evidently did not like these lines, and sometimes attempted emendations with all the hardihood of modern editors. The fact that the scribes are unwilling witnesses, with a tendency to corrupt the evidence, makes their testimony upon this point all the stronger. Added to which, I here admit that, wherever there seemed to be sufficient evidence, I have so far yielded to popular prejudice as to receive the suggested emendation. I now leave this matter to the consideration of the unprejudiced reader; merely observing, that I believe a considerable number of lines in the Canterbury Tales have been ‘emended’ in order to get rid of lines of this character, solely on the strength of the Harleian MS., the scribe of which kept a keen look-out, with a view to the suppression of this eccentricity on the part of his author. To give him much encouragement seems inconsistent with strict morality.
The introduction (ll. 249-269) of a Balade of twenty-one lines makes every succeeding couplet end with a line denoted by an odd number. The whole number of lines is 2,723. Dr. Furnivall was the first person who succeeded in counting their number correctly.
§ 12.Description of the Manuscripts. The MSS. easily fall into two distinct classes, and may be separated by merely observing the reading of l. 1396: see note to that line. MSS. C., T., A. here read Guido or Guydo; whilst MSS. F., Tn., B. read Ouyde. MS. P. is here deficient, but commonly agrees with the former class. Those of the same class will be described together. Besides this, MS. C. is, as regards the Prologue only, unique of its kind; and is throughout of the highest authority, notwithstanding some unpleasant peculiarities of spelling. It is necessary to pay special attention to it.
The list of the MSS. (including Thynne’s edition) is as follows:—
- A.—Arch. Selden B. 24; Bodleian Library (First class).
- Add.—Additional 9832; British Museum (First class).
- Additional 12524; British Museum (First class).
- B.—Bodley 638; Bodleian Library (Second class).
- C.—Cambridge Univ. Library, Gg. 4. 27 (First class).
- F.—Fairfax 16; Bodleian Library (Second class).
- P.—Pepys 2006; Magd. Coll., Cambridge (First class).
- T.—Trinity College, Cambridge, R. 3. 19 (First class).
- Th.—Thynne’s edition, pr. in 1532 (Second class?).
- Tn.—Tanner 346; Bodleian Library (Second class).
- α.—Additional 28617; British Museum (First class); but only a fragment, viz. ll. 513-610, 808-1105, 1306-1801, 1852-2110, 2125-2135, 2151-2723).
- β.—Cambridge Univ. Library, Ff. 1. 6 (Thisbe only).
- γ.—Rawlinson C. 86; Bodleian Library (Dido only).
They may be thus described.
C. (Camb. Univ. Lib. Gg. 4. 27) is the famous Cambridge MS., containing the Canterbury Tales, denoted by the symbol ‘Cm.’ in the footnotes to vol. iv (i. e. throughout the Canterbury Tales); also by the symbol ‘Gg.’ in vol. i., i. e. in the Minor Poems; see p. 49 of the Introduction to vol. i. It also contains some other pieces by Chaucer, viz. the A. B. C., Envoy to Scogan, Truth, Troilus, and the Parlement of Foules. It is of early date, and altogether the oldest, best, and most important of the existing copies of the Legend. I shall call all those that resemble it MSS. of the first class.
Its great peculiarity is that it possesses the unique copy of the early draught of the Prologue; see p. xxi. Upon comparison of it with the Fairfax MS. (the best MS. of the second class), it is found to offer slight differences in many places throughout the various Legends, besides presenting large differences throughout the Prologue. The variations are frequently for the better, and it becomes clear that the first class of MSS. is of an older type. The second class is of a later type, and differs in two ways, in one way for the worse, and in another way for the better. In the former respect, it presents corrupted or inferior readings in several passages; whilst, on the other hand, it presents corrections that are real improvements, and may have been due to revision. No doubt there was once in existence a correct edition of the revised text, but no existing MS. represents it. We can, however, practically reconstruct it by a careful collation of MS. C. with MS. F.; and this I have attempted to do. Throughout the Prologue, I take MS. C. as the basis of the ‘A-text,’ correcting its eccentricities of spelling, but recording them in footnotes wherever the variation is at all important; such a variation as hym for him, or yt for hit, I regard as being of no value. At the same time, I take MS. F. as the basis of the B-text, and correct it, where necessary, by collation with the rest. Throughout the Legends themselves, I take MS. F. as the basis of the text, collating it with C. throughout, so that the text really depends on a comparison of these MSS.; if MS. C. had been made the basis, the result would have been much the same. It was convenient to take F. as the basis, because it agrees, very nearly, with all previous editions of the poem. Unfortunately, leaf 469 of MS. C. has been cut out of it; and, in consequence, ll. 1836-1907 are missing. The scribe has missed ll. 1922, 1923, 2506, 2507, in the process of copying.
Addit. 9832. This is an imperfect MS., ending at l. 1985, no more leaves of the MS. being left after that line. Besides this, the scribe has omitted several lines, viz. ll. 166, 233, 234, 332, 333, 351, 865-872, 960, 961, 1255, 1517, 1744-1746, 1783, 1895, 1945. It belongs to the first class of the MSS., but is an unsatisfactory copy, and I have not fully collated it. It confirms, however, several of the readings of this edition, as distinguished from former editions.
Addit. 12524. This also is only a fragment. The first leaf begins at l. 1640 of the poem, from which point it is complete to the end, though ll. 2454-2461 are partially effaced. It belongs to the first class of MSS., but is a late copy, and I have not fully collated it. It confirms several of my readings.
T.—MS. Trin. Coll. Cam. R. 3. 19. Denoted by the symbol ‘Trin.’ in my edition of the Minor Poems, and described in vol. i., Introd. p. 56. It is of rather late date, about 1500, but belongs to the first class of MSS. The scribe has omitted the following lines, viz. 233, 234, 332, 333, 489, 960, 961, 1627, 2202, 2203, 2287-2292, and 2509.
A.—MS. Arch. Selden B. 24 (Bodley). Denoted by the symbol ‘Ar.’ in my edition of the Minor Poems, and described in vol. i., Introd. p. 54. A Scottish copy, written about 1472. It belongs to the first class of MSS., but the Scottish scribe sometimes takes liberties, and gives us a reading of his own. For example, l. 714 becomes:—‘As in grete townis the maner is and wone.’ But its readings, on the whole, are good. It alone preserves the word ‘almychti’ in l. 1538, which in all the rest is too short; this may not have been the original reading, but it gives a fair line, and furnishes as good an emendation as we are likely to get. The scribe has omitted ll. 860, 861, 960, 961, 1568-1571, 2226, and 2227; besides which, one leaf of the MS. is missing, causing the loss of ll. 2551-2616.
P.—Pepys 2006, Magd. Coll., Cambridge. Denoted by ‘P.’ in my edition of the Minor Poems, of which it contains ten. It belongs, on the whole, to the first class of MSS. The scribe has omitted ll. 232, 437, 623, and 1275. Besides this, it has lost at least one leaf, causing the complete loss of ll. 706-776, whilst ll. 777-845 are in a different handwriting. At l. 1377 it breaks off altogether, so that it is only a fragment. It gives l. 1377 in the following extraordinary form:—‘And thow wer not fals to oon, but thow wer fals to twoo’; giving six feet at least to the line, and a syllable over.
α.—Addit. 28617. A fair MS., but only a fragment, as already noted (p. xlvii). It confirms many of my readings; as, e.g., in ll. 1995, 2019, 2020, 2199, &c. It varies in l. 1999, but gives there an excellent reading:—That is nat derk, and ther is roum and space.
β.—Camb. Univ. Library, Ff. 1. 6. Contains the Legend of Thisbe only. A late and poor MS., of small account.
γ.—Rawl. C. 86 (Bodleian Library). Contains the Legend of Dido only. A poor text, with many errors. Yet it seems to be of the first class, and preserves ll. 960-1. It confirms my readings of ll. 1048, 1074, 1079, 1139, 1144, 1159, 1174, 1195, 1196, 1215, 1366.
F.—Fairfax 16 (Bodleian Library). This is the valuable MS. which contains so many of the Minor Poems. It is described in my Introd. to the Minor Poems; vol. i. p. 51. I have taken it as the basis of the edition, though it was necessary to correct it in all the places where the MSS. of the first class have better readings. It is the best MS. of the second class, and Bell’s edition does little more than follow it, almost too faithfully, though the editor professes to have collated with it the MS. A. described above. The same text, in the main, reappears in the editions by Thynne, Morris, Corson, Gilman. The scribe is careless, and frequently leaves out essential words; he also omits ll. 249, 487, 846, 960, 961, 1490 , 1643, 1693, 1998, part of 2150, 2151, 2152, part of 2153 , 2193, 2338 (in place of which a spurious line is inserted in a wrong place), and 2475. Besides this, the scribe often ruins the scansion of a line by omitting an essential word in it, as has already been mentioned. Thus in l. 614, he drops the word for, which occurs in all the other MSS. The scribe often wrongly adds or omits a final e, and is too fond of substituting y for i in such words as him, king. When these variations are allowed for, the spelling of the MS. is, for the most part, clear and satisfactory, and a fair guide to the right pronunciation. Rejected spellings are given in footnotes as far as l. 924; after which I have made such alterations as are purely trivial without giving notice. Even in ll. 1-924 I have changed hym into him, and kyng into king; and, conversely, strif into stryf, (where the y denotes that the vowel is long), without hesitation and without recording the change. My text is, in fact, spelt phonetically; and, after all, the test of a text of Chaucer is to read it with the Middle-English pronunciation as given by Dr. Sweet in his Second Middle-English Primer, and to observe whether the result is perfectly in accord with the flowing melody so manifest in the Canterbury Tales.
B.—Bodley 638. Closely related to MS. F., and almost a duplicate of it, both being derived from a common source. B. is sometimes right where F. is wrong; thus in l. 1196 it has houyn, where F. has heuen. See Introd. to the Minor Poems, vol. i. p. 53. Of course this MS. belongs, like F., to the second class. It preserves l. 1693 (missing in F.); otherwise it omits all the lines that are omitted in F., as well as ll. 157, 262, 623, 1345, 1866; all of which F. retains. Like F., it has a spurious line in place of l. 2338.
Tn.—Tanner 346 (Bodley). This is a MS. of the second class, strongly resembling F.; see Introd. to the Minor Poems, vol. i. p. 54. It preserves ll. 1693, 2193, 2475; otherwise it omits all the lines omitted in F., as well as the latter half of l. 1378 and the former half of l. 1379. It has a spurious line in place of l. 2338. It is clear that F., B., and Tn. are all from a common source, which was an older MS. not now known.
§ 13.Description of the Printed Editions. Th.—Thynne’s edition; ad 1532. This follows, mainly, the MSS. of the second class; its alliance with F., B., and Tn. is shewn by its containing the spurious form of l. 2338. But it gives the genuine form also, so that in this place three lines rime together. It is more complete than any of those MSS., preserving the lines which they omit (excepting ll. 960, 961), save that it omits ll. 1326, 1327 (doubtless by oversight), which are found in these three MSS., and indeed in all the copies. Probably Thynne used more than one MS., as he sometimes agrees with the MSS. of the first class. Thus, in l. 1163, he reads vpreysed had, as in C., T., A., P., instead of vp-reyseth hath, as in F., Tn., B. He might, however, have corrected this by the light of nature. In ll. 1902, 1923, Thynne alone gives the right reading Alcathoe; unfortunately, both these lines are missing in MS. C. The chief faults of Thynne’s edition are its omission of ll. 960, 961, 1326, 1327, and its spurious l. 2338. Thynne was also unfortunate in following, in general, the authority of a MS. of the second class.
Some later editions.—Later editions appeared in the collected editions of Chaucer’s Works, viz. in 1542, (about) 1550, 1561, 1598, 1602, 1687; after which came Urry’s useless edition of 1721. Excepting the last, I suppose the editions are all mere reprints; each being worse than its predecessor, as is almost always the case. At any rate, the edition of 1561 is a close reprint of Thynne, with a few later spellings, such as guide in place of Thynne’s gyde in l. 969. This edition of course omits ll. 960, 961, 1326, 1327; and gives the spurious l. 2338.
According to Lowndes, other later editions of Chaucer’s Works are the following:—Edinburgh, 1777; 18mo. 12 vols.—Edinburgh, 1782; 12mo. 14 vols.—In Anderson’s British Poets, Edinburgh, 1793-1807; royal 8vo. 13 vols.—In Cooke’s British Poets, London, 1798, &c., 18mo. 80 parts.—In Chalmers’ English Poets, London, 1810; royal 8vo. 21 vols. I suppose that all of these are mere reprints; such is certainly the case with the edition by Chalmers, which merely reproduces Tyrwhitt’s edition of the Canterbury Tales, and follows ‘the black-letter editions’ throughout the other poems. The same remark applies to the edition printed by Moxon in 1855, and attributed to Tyrwhitt as editor.
Other editions are those by S. W. Singer, London, 1822, fcp. 8vo. 5 vols.; by Sir H. Nicolas (in the Aldine edition of English Poets), London, 1845, post 8vo. 6 vols.; and by Robert Bell, London, 1855, 12mo. 8 vols. The last was really edited by Mr. Jephson.
Bell’s (so-called) edition was conveniently reprinted in four volumes, in Bohn’s Standard Library; a revised edition of this was published in 1878, with a Preliminary Essay by myself. Of the Legend of Good Women, the editor (Mr. Jephson) remarks that ‘the text of the present edition is founded upon a careful collation of the MS. Fairfax 16, in the Bodleian Library, and MS. Arch. Seld. B. 24’; i.e. upon a collation of F. with A. It gives us the text of MS. F., with the missing lines supplied from Thynne or from MS. A. It omits ll. 960, 961, and inserts ll. 1326, 1327 in the wrong place, viz. after l. 1329. At l. 2338, it gives both the correct and the spurious forms of the line; so that here (as in Thynne) three lines rime together. In l. 2150-3, the same confusion occurs as is noticed below, in the account of Morris’s edition. The chief gain in this edition is that it has a few explanatory notes. Of these I have freely availed myself, marking them with the word ‘Bell’ whenever I quote them exactly; though they were really written, as I am told, by Mr. Jephson, whose name nowhere appears, except at p. 12 of my Essay, as prefixed to the revised edition.
The Aldine edition was reprinted in 1866, on which occasion it was edited by Dr. Morris. With respect to the Legend of Good Women, Dr. Morris says that it is copied from MS. F., collated with MSS. A., C. (privately printed at Cambridge by Mr. H. Bradshaw, 1864), and MSS. Addit. 9832 and 12524. In this edition, variations from the MS. (F.) are denoted by italic letters, but such variations are very few. Practically, we here find a correct print of MS. F., with most of the missing lines supplied by collation, and with very few corrections. Lines 960, 961 are, however, still omitted, though found in MS. C.; but ll. 1326, 1327 (also omitted by Thynne) are duly given, being found, in fact, in MS. F. At l. 2338, the correct line is given, but the spurious line is also retained; so that (as in Thynne) three lines here rime together. In the former part of l. 2153, a part of l. 2150 is repeated, giving us by instead of eek; the fact is that the scribe slipped from gayler in l. 2150 to gayler in l. 2153, omitting all that came between these words. Nothing is said about the interesting form of the Prologue as existing in MS. C. There are no explanatory notes.
Besides the English editions, two editions of the Legend of Good Women have appeared in America, which demand some notice.
Of these, the former is a very handy edition of the Legend of Good Women, published separately for the first time, and edited by Professor Hiram Corson. The text is that of Bell’s edition; but the explanatory notes are fuller and better, and I have carefully consulted them. At the end is an Index of all the words explained, which really serves the purpose of a glossary. This is certainly the best edition I have met with.
The other edition is that of Chaucer’s Works, edited by Arthur Gilman, and published at Boston in 1879, in three volumes. The Legend of Good Women occurs in vol. iii. pp. 79-183. The harder words are explained in footnotes, and there are just a few notes on the subject-matter. The chief point in this edition is that the editor quotes some of the more remarkable variations in the Prologue from MS. C., which he says is ‘evidently an earlier one than the one followed in the text, Fairfax 16, in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.’ Yet his text is a mere reprint from that of Morris; it omits ll. 960, 961, and gives l. 2338 both in its correct and in its spurious form. Consequently, it contains 2722 lines instead of 2723. The true number of lines is odd, because of the Balade of 21 lines at l. 249.
The net result is this; that none of the editions are complete, and they are all much the same. After twenty editions, we are left almost where we started at first. Thynne’s edition was founded on a MS. very closely resembling F., but more complete; still it omits four lines, and gives l. 2338 twice over, in different forms. The same is true of all the numerous reprints from it. Bell’s edition restores ll. 1326, 1327, but in the wrong place; whilst Morris’s edition restores them in the right place. These lines actually occur in MS. F. (in the right place), and could hardly have been unnoticed in collating the proofs with the MS. These editions are both supposed to be collated with MS. A. at least, but the results of such collation are practically nil, as that MS. was merely consulted to supply missing lines. The editors practically ignore the readings of that MS., except where F. is imperfect. Hence they did not discover that MS. A. belongs to a different class of MSS., and that it frequently gives earlier and better readings. But even A. omits ll. 960, 961, though it also rightly suppresses the spurious form of l. 2338.
§ 14.Some Improvements in my Edition of 1889. No real advance towards a better text was made till Dr. Furnivall brought out, for the Chaucer Society, his valuable and exact prints of the manuscripts themselves. This splendid and important work gives the texts in extenso of all the MSS. above mentioned, viz. MSS. C., F., Tn., T., A., and Th. (Thynne’s ed.) in the ‘Parallel-Text edition of Chaucer’s Minor Poems,’ Part III; MSS. B., Addit. 9832, P., and Addit. 12524, in the ‘Supplementary Parallel-Texts,’ Part II; and MSS. α, β, γ, in ‘Odd Texts,’ 1880. But for the invaluable help thus rendered, the edition of 1889 would never have been undertaken, and I should never have attained to so clear an understanding of the text. I have already said that Dr. Furnivall was the first person who succeeded in numbering the lines of the poem correctly; indeed, most editions have no numbering at all.
I have not thought it necessary to encumber the pages with wholly inferior readings that are of no value, but I have carefully collated the best MSS., viz. C., F., Tn., T., A., B., and sometimes P., besides keeping an eye upon Th., i.e. Thynne’s edition. I thus was enabled to see the true state of the case, viz. that the MSS. of the first class (C., T., A., P., Addit. 9832, 12524, and 28617) have been practically neglected altogether; whilst, of the MSS. &c. of the second class (F., Tn., B., Th.), only F. and Th. have received sufficient attention. It is now abundantly clear that the best authorities are C. and F., as being of different classes, and that the right plan is to consult these first, and then to see how the other MSS. support them. A long list of important emendations, and an exposure of the extreme inaccuracy of most of the previous editions, will be found in the Introduction to my edition of 1889, and need not be repeated here.
§ 15.Conclusion. In conclusion, I may mention the Poem in MS. Ashmole 59, entitled ‘The Cronycle made by Chaucier. ¶ Here nowe folowe the names of the nyene worshipfullest Ladyes . . . by Chaucier.’ It is a poor production, perhaps written by Shirley, and merely gives a short epitome of the contents of the Legend of Good Women. The words ‘by Chaucier’ refer to Chaucer’s authorship of the Legend only, and not to the authorship of the epitome, which, though of some interest, is practically worthless. The author makes the odd mistake of confusing the story of Alcestis with that of Ceyx and Alcyone in the Book of the Duchesse (62-230). This ‘Cronycle’ was printed by Dr. Furnivall in his Odd-texts of Chaucer’s Minor Poems, Part i.
I have now only to record my indebtedness to others, especially to Dr. Furnivall for his invaluable prints in the Parallel-Texts; to the excellent essay by M. Bech, in vol. v. of Anglia ; to Mr. Jephson for his notes in ‘Bell’s’ edition; and to the notes in the edition by Professor Corson. Also to Professor Ten Brink, the second part of whose second volume of the Geschichte der englischen Litteratur has just appeared (1893).
Note.—If the reader finds the two forms of the Prologue troublesome, he has only to confine his attention to the ‘B-text,’ in the lower part of pp. 65-105. The text agrees with that usually given, and contains 579 lines. The first line of ‘Cleopatra’ is l. 580, the numbering being continuous. Besides this, the lines of each Legend are given separately, within marks of parenthesis. Thus l. 589 is the 10th line of ‘Cleopatra’; and so in other cases.
I here subjoin an Additional Note to lines 1896-8.
At p. xxxix. above (footnote no. 2), I give Bech’s reference to Godfrey of Viterbo. The passage runs thus:—
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- ‘De Ioue primo rege Atheniensi.
- A Ioue nostrorum uenit generatio regum,
- A Ioue principium recipit descriptio regum,
- A Ioue philosophi dogmata prima legunt.
- Rex erat ex rege quondam patre natus Athenis,
- Indeque quadriuii triuiique scientia nenit;
- Legis et artis ibi rex ydioma dedit.’
INTRODUCTION TO A TREATISE ON THE ASTROLABE.
§ 1.Description of the MSS. The existing MSS. of the ‘Astrolabe’ are still numerous. I have been successful in finding no less than twenty-two, which I here describe. It is remarkable that, although many printed editions of the treatise have appeared, no first-class MS. has ever hitherto come under the notice of any one of the various editors. This point will appear more clearly hereafter.
§ 2. A.—MS. Dd. 3. 53 (part 2) in the Cambridge University Library. The ‘Treatise on the Astrolabie’ begins at fol. 212 of the MS. considered as a whole, but the folios are now properly renumbered throughout the treatise. The MS. is of vellum, and the writing clear and good, with a great number of neatly drawn diagrams, which appear wherever the words ‘lo here thi figure’ occur in the text. This MS. I have made the basis of the text, and it is followed with sufficient exactness, except when notice to the contrary is given in the Critical Notes.
This MS. is of considerable importance. The handwriting exactly resembles that in MS. B., and a comparison of these MSS. leads to the following results. It appears that MSS. A. and B. were written out by the same scribe, nearly at the same time. The peculiarities of spelling, particularly those which are faulty, are the same in both in a great many instances. It is also clear that the said scribe had but a very dim notion of what he was writing, and committed just such blunders as are described in Chaucer’s Lines to Adam Scriveyn, and are there attributed to ‘negligence and rape .’ It is still more interesting to observe that Chaucer tells us that he had to amend his MSS. by ‘rubbing and scraping’ with his own hand; for MS. A. and B. differ precisely in this point, viz. that while the latter is left uncorrected, the former has been diligently ‘rubbed and scraped’ by the hand of a corrector who well knew what he was doing, and the right letters have been inserted in the right places over the erasures. These inserted letters are in the hand of a second scribe who was a better writer than the first, and who was entrusted with the task of drawing the diagrams. The two hands are contemporaneous, as appears from the additions to the diagrams made by the writer of the text. Unfortunately, there are still a good many errors left. This is because the blunders were so numerous as to beguile the corrector into passing over some of them. When, for example, the scribe, having to write ‘lo here thy figure’ at the end of nearly every section, took the trouble to write the last word ‘vigure’ or ‘vigour’ in nearly every instance, we are not surprised to find that, in a few places, the word has escaped correction. It further appears that some of the later sections, particularly sections 39 and 40, have not been properly revised; the corrector may very well have become a little tired of his task by the time he arrived at them. It must also be remembered, that such blunders as are made by a scribe who is not clear as to the meaning of his subject-matter are by no means the blunders which are most puzzling or most misleading; they are obvious at once as evident blotches, and the general impression left upon the mind by the perusal of this MS. is—that a careless scribe copied it from some almost perfect original, and that his errors were partially corrected by an intelligent corrector (possibly the author), who grew tired of his task just towards the end.
The order of the Conclusions in Part ii. differs from that in all the editions hitherto printed, and the MS. terminates abruptly in the middle of a sentence, at the words ‘howre after howre’ in Conclusion 40 (p. 223). A portion of the page of the MS. below these words is left blank, though the colophon ‘Explicit tractatus,’ &c. was added at the bottom of the page at a later period.
Certain allusions in the former part of the MS. render it probable that it was written in London, about the year 1400.
§ 3. B.—MS. E Museo 54, in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. This is an uncorrected duplicate of the preceding, as has been explained, and ends in the same way, at the words ‘howre after howre,’ followed by a blank space. The chief addition is the rubricated title—‘Bred and mylk For childeren,’ boldly written at the beginning; in the margin are the following notes in a late hand—‘Sir Jiffray Chaucer’—‘Dominus Gaufredus Chaucerus’—‘Galfredi Chauceri Tractatus de Ratione et vsu Astrolabij ad Ludouicum filium.’
§ 4. C.—MS. Rawlinson, Misc. 1262, otherwise 1370 (leaves 22-42), in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.
This is a beautifully written MS., on vellum, with 38 pages of text, and 4 blank pages. It has the Conclusions in the same order as the preceding, six well-executed diagrams, and corrections on nearly every page. It is of early date, perhaps about ad 1420, and of considerable importance. It agrees closely with the text, and, like it, ends with ‘howre after howre.’ Some variations of spelling are to be found in the Critical Notes. In this MS. the Conclusions are numbered in the margin, and the numbers agree with those adopted in this edition.
§ 5. D.—MS. Ashmole 391, in the Bodleian Library. I have made but little use of this MS., on account of its being very imperfect.
§ 6. E.—MS. Bodley 619. This MS., like B., has the title—‘Brede and Milke for children.’ Like other good MSS., it ends sect. 40 with ‘houre after houre.’ But after this, there occurs an additional section, probably not genuine, but printed here (for the sake of completeness) as section 46; see p. 229. Cf. § 17.
At fol. 21 is an additional section, not found elsewhere, which is printed in the Notes; see p. 360. This Conclusion has some claims to our notice, because, whether genuine or not, it is translated from Messahala.
§ 7. F.—MS. 424, in the Library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Very imperfect, especially at the beginning, where a large portion has been lost.
The Conclusions follow the right order, as in the best MSS.
§ 8. G.—MS. R. 15, 18, in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge. This is a curious and interesting volume, as it contains several tracts in English on astrology and astronomy, with tables of stars, &c.
The copy of the ‘Astrolabe’ in this MS. is not a good one. It ends in Part ii. sect. 34, l. 14. The Conclusions are in the right order, and there are a few diagrams.
§ 9. H.—MS. Sloane 314, British Museum. A late MS. on paper, absurdly said in a note to be in Chaucer’s handwriting, whereas it is clearly to be referred to the end of the fifteenth century.
§ 10. I.—MS. Sloane 261. This is an ‘edited’ MS., having been apparently prepared with a view to publication. Mr. Brae has made considerable use of it, and gives, in his preface, a careful and interesting account of it. He concludes that this MS. was written by Walter Stevins in 1555, and dedicated by him to Edward Earl of Devonshire; and that MS. H. was one of those which Stevins especially consulted, because it contains marginal notes in Stevins’ handwriting. The contents of this MS. can be so well ascertained from Mr. Brae’s edition that it is unnecessary to say more about it here. The Conclusions are arranged in the same order as in other MSS. that are not of the first class.
§ 11. K.—MS. Rawlinson Misc. 3, in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. On vellum, 49 folios, with rich gold capitals, beautifully ornamented; in a large clear handwriting, with red rubrics. Title—‘Astralabium.’ Begins—‘Lityl lowys my sone,’ &c.—and ends—“For þe mone meuyth the contrarie from other planetys. as yn here epicircle. but in none other maner’; see end of Part ii. sect. 35; p. 217. Order of Conclusions in Part ii. as follows; 1-12, 19-21, 13-18, 22-35; as in other late MSS. There are no diagrams, and the MS., though well written, may perhaps be referred to the latter half of the fifteenth century.
§ 12. L.—MS. Additional 23002, British Museum. A fair MS., on vellum, without diagrams; imperfect. See description of MS. R. in § 17. And see the Note on Part ii. sect. 3 (p. 360).
§ 13. M.—MS. E. 2 in the Library of St. John’s College, Cambridge. Small MS. on vellum, without diagrams. The leaves have been misplaced, and bound up in a wrong order, but nothing is lost. I have printed from this MS. the last five words of sect. 40; also 41-43, and 41a-42b; besides collating it for the improvement of the text in sect. 44; sect. 45 is missing. I have also been indebted to it for the Latin rubrics to the Conclusions, which I have not found elsewhere. Several various readings from this MS. appear in the Critical Notes (pp. 233-241).
§ 14. N.—MS. Digby 72, in the Bodleian Library. From this MS. I have printed the text of sections 44 and 45 (pp. 226-9), but have made little further use of it.
§ 15. O.—MS. Ashmole 360, in the Bodleian Library. Late MS., on paper; former owner’s name, Johan Pekeryng; without diagrams. There are evidently some omissions in it. But it includes sections 44 and 45, and I have given various readings from it in those sections (p. 240). It ends at the end of sect. 43a, with the words—‘one to twelfe. & sic finis’; see p. 232.
§ 16. P.—MS. Dd. 12. 51 in the Cambridge University Library. Small MS. on vellum; written in the fifteenth century. The text is by no means a bad one, though the spelling is peculiar. Some of the pages are very much rubbed and defaced. I have taken from it some various readings, recorded in the Critical Notes.
One point deserves particular attention. It not only contains the Conclusions of Part ii. in the right order, but continues it without a break to the end of Conclusion 43 (p. 225); at the end of which is the colophon—Explicit tractatus astrolabii.
§ 17. Q.—MS. Ashmole 393, in the Bodleian Library; on paper. Of little importance.
R.—MS. Egerton 2622, in the British Museum. A neat MS., but without diagrams. Contains: Part I. (except 15-23); Part II. §§ 1-12, 19-21, 13-18, 22-35, 41-43, 44, 45; 41a, 41b, 42a, 43a, 42b, 36, 37. Thus it has all the additional sections except 46; but 38-40 are missing. MS. L. contains the same sections in the same order; see § 12.
S.—MS. Addit. 29250. A poor MS., but remarkable for containing the scarce section no. 46; of which there is but one other copy, viz. that in MS. E (§ 6); cf. pp. 240, 241.
T.—MS. Phillipps 11955; at Cheltenham. On vellum; 31 leaves; said to be of the fourteenth century, which is improbable.
U.—MS. Bodley 68. Imperfect; ends at Part ii. § 36.
W.—MS. E Museo 116, in the Bodleian Library. A mere fragment.
X.—A MS. at Brussels, no. 1591. See F. J. Mone, Quellen und Forschungen, (Aachen, 1830); pp. 549-551.
§ 18. Of the above MSS., Mr. Brae describes H., I., and L. only, and does not seem to have made use of any others. Mr. Todd, in his Animadversions on Gower and Chaucer, p. 125, enumerates only four MSS., which are plainly A., P., F., and G. The rest seem to have escaped attention.
In addition to the MS. authorities, we have one more source of text, viz. the Editio Princeps, which may be thus described.
Th.—The edition of Chaucer’s Works by Wm. Thynne, printed at London by Thomas Godfray in 1532. This is the first edition in which the Treatise on the Astrolabe appeared; it begins at fol. ccxcviii, back. The Conclusions in Part ii. are in the order following, viz. 1-12, 19-21, 13-18, 22-40; after which come 41-43, and 41a-42b. This order does not agree precisely with that in any MS. now extant, with the exception of I., which imitates it. It has some corrupt additions and exhibits many grave errors. All later editions, down to Urry’s in 1721, contribute no new information. The few slight alterations which appear in them are such as could have been made without reference to MSS. at all.
§ 19.Remarks on the Classes of the MSS. On comparing the MSS., it at once appears that they do not agree as to the order of the Conclusions in Part ii. The MSS. A., B., C. (which are unquestionably the oldest), as well as E., F., G., and P., adopt the order which appears in this edition, but which has never appeared in any previous edition. In all other editions we find the three sections 19-21 made to precede sections 13-18. Now we might here appeal to authority only, and say that the order in the oldest MSS. ought to be preferred. But it so happens that we can appeal to internal evidence as well, and there are two considerations which shew that the oldest MSS. are certainly correct. These are as follows. In the first place, sect. 18 amounts to finding the degree of the zodiac which souths with any star, and begins with the words ‘Set the centre of the sterre upon the lyne meridional’; whilst sect. 19 amounts to finding the degree of the zodiac that rises with any star, and begins with the words ‘Set the sentre of the sterre upon the est orisonte.’ Clearly, these Conclusions are closely linked together, and one ought to follow the other. But, in all the editions, this continuity is broken. In the second place, the rubric of sect. 21 is—‘To knowe for what latitude in any regioun,’ &c.; whilst that of sect. 22 is—‘To knowe in special the latitude of oure countray,’ &c. Clearly, these Conclusions are closely linked, and in their right order. But, in all the editions, this continuity is again broken; and we have this absurd result, viz. that a proposition headed—‘To knowe the degrees of the longitudes of fixe sterres’ is followed by one headed—‘To knowe in special the latitude of oure countray.’ Hence we are enabled to draw a line, and to divide the MSS. into two classes; those in which the order of sections is correct, and those in which it has suffered misplacement, the number in each class being much the same. This gives us the following result.
First Class. A., B., C., (probably D.,) E., F., G., P.
Second Class. H., I., K., L., M., N., O., R.; to which add Th.
But this division immediately leads to another very curious result, and that is, a certain lack of authority for sections after the fortieth, which ends on p. 223.
A. ends with an incomplete sentence, in sect. 40, with the words—‘howre after howre.’ B., C. end exactly at the same place.
E. ends sect. 40 with the same words; and, after this, has only one additional section (46), which is, in my opinion, spurious; especially as it does not appear in Messahala, of which more anon.
D., F., and G. all fail at an earlier point.
In none of the first-class MSS. (excepting P., which terminates with section 43) is there a word about umbra recta or umbra versa.
Even in the second class of MSS., we find H. breaking off at sect. 36, and K. at sect. 35; so that the sections on the umbrae rest only on MSS. I. (obviously an edition, not a transcript), L., M., N., O., P., and R. Putting aside the first of these, as being ‘edited,’ we have but six left; and in the first four and the last of these we find that the additional Conclusions appear in a certain order, viz. they insert 44 and 45 (on the ‘mene mote’) between three sections 41-43 on the ‘umbrae’ and five other sections 41a-42b on the same.
§ 20.The last five sections spurious. This at once suggests two results. The first is, that, as this gives two sets of sections on the ‘umbrae,’ we can hardly expect both to be genuine; and accordingly, we at once find that the last five of these are mere clumsy repetitions of the first three; for which reason, I unhesitatingly reject the said last five as spurious. This view is strikingly confirmed by MS. P.; for this, the only first-class MS. that is carried on beyond section 40, contains the first three sections on the ‘umbrae’ only. The second result is, that if the first three sections on the ‘umbrae’ are to be received, there is good reason why we should consider the possible genuineness of sections 44 and 45 on the ‘mene mote,’ which rest very nearly on the same authority.
Now the sections on the ‘mene mote’ have in their favour one strong piece of internal evidence; for the date 1397 is mentioned in them more than once as being the ‘root’ or epoch from which to reckon. In most cases, the mention of a date 1397 would lead us to attribute the writing in which it occurs to that year or to a later year, but a date fixed on for a ‘root’ may very well be a prospective one, so that these sections may have been written before 1397; an idea which is supported by the line ‘behold whether thy date be more or lasse than the yere 1397’; sect. 44, l. 5. But I suspect the date to be an error for 1387, since that [see Somer in Tyrwhitt’s Glossary] was really the ‘rote’ used by Nicholas Lenne. In either case, I think we may connect these sections with the previous sections written in 1391 . Besides which, Chaucer so expressly intimates his acquaintance with the subjects of these sections in the Canterbury Tales , that we may the more readily admit them to be really his. There is still less difficulty about admitting the first three sections (41-43) on the ‘umbrae,’ because we find similar matter in the treatise of Messahala, from which, as will appear, he derived so much. And hence we may readily conclude that, in the second part, the first forty sections, found in the oldest MSS., are certainly genuine, whilst sections 41-43, as well as 44 and 45, have every claim to be considered genuine also. This need not, however, force us to accept the remaining sections, since they may easily have been added by another hand; a circumstance which is rendered the more probable by the fact that sections 41a-42b merely repeat 41-43 in a more clumsy form, and by the consideration that, if genuine, they should have occupied their proper place immediately after sect. 43, instead of being separated from the former set. As to sect. 46, I pronounce no decided opinion; there is but little to be said either for or against it, and it is of little consequence.
§ 21.Gap between §§ 40 and 41. But admitting the genuineness of sections 40-45, it at once becomes evident that there are two distinct gaps or breaks in the continuity of the treatise; the first between 40 and 41; and the second between 43 and 44. A little consideration will account for these. Looking at the Canterbury Tales, we observe the very same peculiarity; at certain points there are distinct breaks, and no mending can link the various groups together in a satisfactory manner. This can be accounted for in part by our knowledge of the fact that the poet died before he had completed the proper linking-together of the tales which he had more or less finished; but I think it also shews him to have been a fragmentary worker. To suppose that, upon reaching Conclusion 40, he suddenly turned to the sections upon the ‘umbrae,’ which are at once more easy to explain, more suitable for a child, and illustrative of a different and more practical use of the Astrolabe, seems to me natural enough; and more probable than to suppose that anything is here lost. For, in fact, it is to the very MSS. that contain sections 41-43 that we are indebted for the last five words of sect. 40, so curiously omitted in the oldest and best MSS.; and this is a direct argument against the supposition of any matter having been here lost.
§ 22.Gap between §§ 43 and 44. The break between sections 43 and 44 may be explained in a totally different manner. In this case, the break indicates a real, not an accidental, gap. I suppose section 43 to have been really the last section of Part ii, and I refer sections 44 and 45 to the Fourth Part of the Treatise, and not to the Second at all . For if we run through the contents of Parts Three and Four (p. 177), we observe that they chiefly involve tables, with reference to one of which we find the words ‘upon which table ther folwith a canon,’ &c. Now sections 44 and 45 exactly answer the description; they are alternative canons, shewing how certain tables may be used. It happens that Conclusion 40 is particularly dependent upon tables. To supply these was partly the object of Part iv—‘the whiche ferthe partie in special shal shewen a table of the verray moeving of the mone from houre to houre, every day and in every signe, after thyn almenak; upon which table ther folwith a canon, suffisant to teche as wel the maner of the wyrking of that same conclusioun, as to knowe in oure orizonte with which degree of the zodiac that the mone ariseth in any latitude; and the arising of any planete after his latitude fro the ecliptik lyne.’ The opening words of the same Conclusion are—‘Knowe by thyn almenak the degree of the ecliptik of any signe in which that the planete is rekned for to be:’ (p. 221). This is easily said; but I suppose that it was not so easy in olden times to know off-hand the exact position of a planet. It must have been shewn by tables, and these tables chiefly considered the ‘mene mote,’ or average motion of the planets, and that only for periods of years. If you wanted the position of a planet at a given hour on a given day, you had to work it out by figures; the rule for which working was called a ‘canon.’ This very ‘canon’ is precisely given at length in sect. 44; and sect. 45 is only another way of doing the same thing, or, in other words, is an alternative canon. When all this is fairly and sufficiently considered, we shall find good grounds for supposing that these sections on the ‘mene mote’ are perfectly genuine, and that they really belong to Part iv. of the Treatise.
I will only add, that the fact of sections 41a-42b being thus placed after a portion of Part iv. is one more indication that they are spurious.
§ 23.Conclusion 40. But it may be objected, as Mr. Brae has fairly objected, that Conclusion 40 itself ought to belong to Part iv. So it ought perhaps, if Chaucer had followed out his own plan. But it is clear from its contents that the Prologue to the ‘Astrolabie’ was written before the commencement of the treatise itself, and not, as prefaces generally are, afterwards. He was pleased with his son’s progress. Little Lewis had asked him if he might learn something about an astrolabe. The father at once sent him a small astrolabe by way of reward, constructed for the latitude of Oxford, and having 45 circles of latitude on the flat disc (see Fig. 5) instead of having 90 such circles, as the best instruments had . This, however, was a ‘sufficient’ astrolabe for the purpose. But he believes the Latin treatises to be too hard for his son’s use, and the Conclusions in them to be too numerous. He therefore proposes to select some of the more important Conclusions, and to turn them into English with such modifications as would render them easier for a child to understand. He then lays down a table of contents of his proposed five parts, throughout which he employs the future tense, as ‘the first partie shal reherse,’—‘the second partie shal teche,’ &c. This use of the future would not alone prove much, but taken in connexion with the context, it becomes very suggestive. However, the most significant phrase is in the last line of the Prologue, which speaks of ‘other noteful thinges, yif god wol vouche-sauf & his modur the mayde, mo than I behete,’ i. e. other useful things, more than I now promise, if God and the Virgin vouchsafe it. In accordance with his habits of seldom finishing and of deviating from his own plans at pleasure, we have but an imperfect result, not altogether answerable to the table of contents. I therefore agree with Mr. Brae that the 40th Conclusion would have done better for Part iv., though I do not agree with him in rejecting it as spurious. This he was led to do by the badness of the text of the MSS. which he consulted, but we can hardly reject this Conclusion without rejecting the whole Treatise, as it is found in all the oldest copies. By way of illustration, I would point out that this is not the only difficulty, for the Conclusions about astrology ought certainly to have been reserved for Part v. These are Conclusions 36 and 37, which concern the ‘equaciouns of houses’; and this is probably why, in three of the MSS. (viz. L., N., and R.), these two conclusions are made to come at the end of the Treatise. There is nothing for it but to accept what we have, and be thankful.
§ 24.Extant portion of the Treatise. If, then, the questions be asked, how much of the Treatise has come down to us, and what was to have been the contents of the missing portion, the account stands thus.
Of Part i. we have the whole.
Of Part ii. we have nearly all, and probably all that ever was written, including Conclusions 1-40 on astronomical matters, and Conclusions 41-43 on the taking of altitudes of terrestrial objects. Possibly Conclusion 46 is to be added to these; but Conclusions 41a-42b are certainly spurious.
Part iii. probably consisted entirely of tables, and some at least of these may very well have been transmitted to little Lewis. Indeed, they may have been prepared by or copied from Nicholas of Lynn and John Somer, before Chaucer took the rest in hand. The tables were to have been (and perhaps were) as follows:—
1. Tables of latitude and longitudes of the stars which were represented on the ‘Rete’ of the Astrolabe. Specimens of such tables are found in MSS.
2. Tables of declinations of the sun, according to the day of the year.
3. Tables of longitudes of cities and towns.
4. Tables for setting clocks and finding the meridian altitudes (of the sun, probably).
Such tables as these are by no means lost. There are MSS. which contain little else, as e. g. MS. Hh. 6. 8 in the Cambridge University Library. The longitudes of towns are given in MS. Camb. Ii. 3. 3, at fol. 214b. Again, in MS. F. 25, in St. John’s College Library, Cambridge, we find tables of fixed stars, tables of latitudes and longitudes of towns, tables of altitudes of the sun at different hours, and many others.
Part iv. was to explain the motions of the heavenly bodies, with their causes. This was probably never written, though there is an allusion to it in Part ii. § 11, l. 12. It was also to contain a table to shew the position of the moon, according to an almanac; and such a table is given in the St. John’s MS. above mentioned, and in MS. Camb. Ii. 3. 3, at fol. 143. This was to have been followed by a canon, and an explanation of the working of the Conclusion—‘to knowe with which degree of the zodiac that the mone ariseth,’ and ‘the arising of any planete,’ &c. The canon is partly accounted for, as regards the planets at least, by sections 44 and 45, and the ‘Conclusion’ by section 40.
Part v. was to contain the general rules of astrology, with tables of equations of houses, dignities of planets, and other useful things which God and the Virgin might vouchsafe that the author should accomplish. Sections 36 and 37 tell us something about the equations of houses; but, in all probability, none (or, at least, no more) of this fifth Part was ever written. Tables of equations of houses, for the latitude of Toledo, are given in MS. Camb. Ii. 3. 3, at fol. 177, and elsewhere. Of the general rules of astrology we find in old MSS. somewhat too much, but they are generally in Latin; however, the Trinity MS. R. 15. 18 has some of them in English.
On the whole, we have quite as much of Chaucer’s Treatise as we need care for; and he may easily have changed his mind about the necessity of writing Part v; for we actually find him declaring (and it is pleasant to hear him) that ‘natheles, thise ben observauncez of iudicial matiere & rytes of payens, in which my spirit ne hath no feith’; ii. 4. 36; (p. 192).
§ 25.Sources of the Treatise. I next have to point out the sources whence Chaucer’s treatise was derived. Mr. Halliwell, in a note at the end of his edition of Mandeville’s Travels, speaks of the original treatise on the Astrolabe, written in Sanskrit, on which he supposes Chaucer’s treatise to have been founded. Whether the Latin version used by Chaucer was ultimately derived from a Sanskrit copy or not, need not be considered here. The use of the Astrolabe was no doubt well known at an early period in India and among the Persians and Arabs; see the ‘Description of a Planispheric Astrolabe constructed for Sháh Sultán Husain Safawí, King of Persia,’ by W. H. Morley, in which elaborate and beautifully illustrated volume the reader may find sufficient information. Marco Polo says (bk. ii. c. 33) that there were 5000 astrologers and soothsayers in the city of Cambaluc, adding—‘they have a kind of Astrolabe, on which are inscribed the planetary signs, the hours, and critical points of the whole year’; Marco Polo, ed. Yule, i. 399. Compare also the mention of the instrument in the 161st night of the Arabian Nights’ Entertainments, where a translation which I have now before me has the words—‘instead of putting water into the basin, he [the barber] took a very handsome astrolabe out of his case, and went very gravely out of my room to the middle of the yard, to take the height of the sun’; on which passage Mr. Lane has a note (chap. v. note 57) which Mr. Brae quotes at length in his edition. There is also at least one version of a treatise in Greek, entitled περὶ τη̑ς του̑ ἀυτρολάβ[Editor: illegible character]υ χρήσεως, by Johannes Philoponus, of which the Cambridge University Library possesses two copies, viz. MSS. Dd. 15. 27 and Gg. 2. 33. But it is clear, from his own words, that Chaucer followed the Latin, and I can point out one of the Latin treatises to which he was very considerably indebted. This is the ‘Compositio et Operatio Astrolabie,’ by Messahala , of which copies are, I have no doubt, sufficiently numerous. The Cambridge Library has four, viz. Hh. 6. 8, Ii. 1. 13, Ii. 3. 3 , and Kk. 1. 1, and there is another copy in St. John’s College Library, Cambridge, marked F. 25. The title should be particularly observed; for the treatise is distinctly divisible into two separate parts, viz. the ‘Compositio Astrolabii’ and the ‘Operatio Astrolabii.’ The former begins with the words—‘Scito quod astrolabium sit nomen Graecum,’ and explains how to make an astrolabe, and how to inscribe on it the various necessary lines and circles with sufficient exactness. It is much the longer portion of the treatise, and (in MS. Ii. 3. 3) is illustrated by numerous diagrams, whilst the second part has no such illustrations. But it does not appear that Chaucer made any use of this former part, as his astrolabe had been procured ready-made. The second part of the treatise, or ‘Operatio Astrolabii,’ begins with the words ‘Nomina instrumentorum sunt hec.’ This is evidently one of the sources from which Chaucer drew largely . Chaucer’s Part i. is almost wholly taken from this, but he has expanded it in several places, with the evident intention of making it more easy to understand. In Part ii. he has taken from it, with more or less exactness, sections 1-3, 5-8, 10, 11, 13-18, 20, 21, 24, 25, 27-31, 33-37, 41 and 42; whilst sections 4, 9, 12, 19, 22, 23, 26, 32, 38-40 and 43 do not appear in it. In other words, Messahala’s treatise accounts for thirty-one conclusions out of forty-three, or about two-thirds of the whole. In some places, Chaucer has translated almost word for word, so as to leave no doubt as to his authority. Besides which, I have already remarked that Chaucer’s version is directly connected with Messahala by the quotations from the latter which appear in MS. E.; see description of this MS. at p. lix. If it be inquired, whence did Chaucer derive the remaining third of his Second Part, I think it very likely that some of it may be found amongst the varied and voluminous contents of such a MS. as Ii. 3. 3, which is a sort of general compendium of astronomical and astrological knowledge. The complete solution of this question I leave to some one with more leisure than myself, being satisfied that to have found the original of Part i. and two-thirds of Part ii. is to have made a good start. It must not be omitted, that the MSS. of Messahala are not all alike; that some copies have propositions which are not in others; and that the order of the Conclusions is not invariable. The chief noteworthy difference between Chaucer’s version and the Latin original is in the order of the Conclusions; it is clear that Chaucer not only took what he liked, but rearranged his materials after his own fashion.
§ 26.Various Editions. About the early printed editions of the Astrolabe, I have not much to say. The Editio Princeps of 1532 was clearly derived from some MS. of the second class, and, what between the errors of the scribes and printers, absurdities abound. After a careful examination of the old editions, I came to the conclusion that the less I consulted them the better, and have therefore rather avoided them than sought their assistance. All the editions not only give the conclusions in a wrong order, but (like the MSS. of the second class) absurdly repeat Conclusion I. of Part ii., and reckon the repetition of it as Conclusion III. MSS. of the first class are free from this defect, and may thus be easily known. The only edition worth consulting is that by Mr. A. E. Brae, published quite recently, in 1870. Mr. Brae made much use of MS. I., besides which he consulted the Printed Editions, and MSS. H. and L. See the descriptions of these MSS. above. From this edition I have taken many hints, and I wish to express, very thankfully, my obligations to it. Mr. Brae has brought to bear upon his work much skill and knowledge, and has investigated many points with much patience, minuteness, and critical ability. But I cannot but perceive that he has often expended his labour upon very inferior materials, and has been sometimes misled by the badness of those MSS. to which alone he had access .
Besides his print of Chaucer’s Astrolabe, Mr. Brae has reprinted some curious and interesting critical notes of his own, and has added some essays on Chaucer’s ‘prime,’ on ‘the Carrenare,’ and ‘shippes opposteres.’ To all that he has done I am much indebted.
§ 27.Works on the Subject. The works upon, and descriptions of, the astrolabe, are numerous. I have had neither time nor inclination to make researches into the subject; for which reason I here note the names of a few books which may be examined by the curious reader.
In his Universal Lexicon, Zedler explains that astrolabes are of two kinds, ‘universal’ and ‘particular.’ He speaks of the astrolabes (1) of Gemma Frisius; see Petri Apiani Cosmographia, per Gemmam Phrysium restituta; (2) of Johan de Rojas, a Spaniard, ad 1550; (3) of De la Hire the elder, professor of mathematics at Paris, ad 1702; (4) of Johannes Stoflerinus (or Stöffler), ad 1510. The last of these varied from the others in adopting a different and more convenient system of projection, viz. that upon the plane of the equator, or one parallel to it, the eye being in the antarctic pole, and the arctic pole being made the centre of the instrument. This projection is the same as that which was used by Ptolemy, and it is adopted in the diagrams which accompany Chaucer’s treatise in some of the MSS. It should be observed here that the term ‘astrolabe’ alone is vague; it was originally a general name for any circular instrument used for observation of the stars; but in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries it was restricted to the particular kind called the ‘Astrolabe Planisphere,’ or astrolabe on a flat surface, in which sense alone the word is used throughout this volume. See the English Cyclopaedia, Arts and Sciences, s. v. Astrolabe.
The simplest work is that by Stöffler or Stoflerinus, as he calls himself; see also Gemma Frisius, Metius, Clavius Bambergensis the Cursus Mathematicus of Dechales, vol. iv. p. 161, Delambre’s History of Astronomy, and other works. The plates in Metius are most exquisitely engraved, and on a large scale, and give a better representation of the instrument than any others that I have seen.
One of the MSS., viz. MS. E., refers to an astrolabe belonging to Merton College, Oxford . There is a very nice one, made of brass, and by a Dutch engraver, in the library of King’s College, Cambridge. It has several discs or plates, or, as Chaucer calls them, ‘tables .’ Of this instrument the same library contains a written description, with some account of the problems it will solve, and an investigation of its probable date, by H. Godfray, Esq., of St. John’s College.
There is a book entitled ‘A verie briefe and most plaine description of Mr. Blagrave his Astrolabe,’ &c., by Mr. Blundevill; London, printed by William Stansby. But it turns out to be of little practical assistance, because Blagrave’s astrolabe was on a different principle.
§ 28.Description of the Astrolabe Planisphere. There is not, however, much need of reference to books to understand what the astrolabe used by Chaucer was like. The instrument may be readily understood from a brief description, and from the Plates in this volume.
The most important part of the ‘astrolabe planisphere’ consisted of a somewhat heavy circular plate of metal from four to seven inches in diameter, which could be suspended from the thumb by a ring (i. 1), working with such freedom as would allow the instrument to assume a perfectly perpendicular position (i. 2). One side of the plate was perfectly flat, and was called the back. This is represented in Fig. 1. On it was described a number of concentric rings, marked with various divisions, which may be readily understood from the figure. Beginning at the outermost ring, the first two represent the ninety degrees into which each quadrant of a circle can be divided (i. 7). The next two represent the signs of the zodiac, each subdivided into thirty degrees (i. 8). The next two represent the days of the year, and are rather difficult to mark, as the circle has, for this purpose, to be divided into 365 equal parts (i. 9). The next three circles shew the names of the months, the number of days in each, and the small divisions which represent each day, which coincide exactly with those representing the days of the year (i. 10). The two innermost rings shew the saints’ days, with their Sunday-letters. Thus, above the 21st of December is written ‘Thome,’ i.e. St. Thomas’s day, its Sunday-letter being E; the rest can easily be traced by the tables in a Prayer-book (i. 11). These may be thus briefly recapitulated:—
- 1 and 2. Circles of degrees of the quadrant and circle.
- 3 and 4. Circles of the zodiacal signs, with their degrees.
- 5 and 6. Circles of the days of the year, with their numbers.
- 7, 8 and 9. Circles of the months, with their days and numbers of the days.
- 10 and 11. Circles of saints’ days, with their Sunday-letters.
Within all these, are the Scales of Umbra Recta and Umbra Versa, in each of which the scale is divided into twelve equal parts, for the convenience of taking and computing altitudes (i. 12). This primitive and loose method of computation has long been superseded by the methods of trigonometry. Besides these circles, there is a perpendicular line, marking the South and North points, and a horizontal line from East to West.
The other side of the plate, called the front, and shewn in Fig. 2, had a thick rim with a wide depression in the middle (i. 3). The rim was marked with three rings or circles, of which the outermost was the Circle of Letters (A to Z) representing the twenty-four hours of the day, and the two innermost the degrees of the quadrants (i. 16). The depressed central portion of the plate was marked only with three circles, the ‘Tropicus Cancri,’ the ‘Æquinoctialis,’ and the ‘Tropicus Capricorni’ (i. 17); and with the cross-lines from North to South, and from East to West (i. 15). But several thin plates or discs of metal were provided, which were of such a size as exactly to drop into the depression spoken of. The principal one of these, called the ‘Rete,’ is shewn in Fig. 2. It consisted of a circular ring marked with the zodiacal signs, subdivided into degrees, with narrow branching limbs both within and without this ring, having smaller branches or tongues terminating in points, each of which denoted the exact position of some well-known star. The names of these stars, as ‘Alhabor,’ ‘Rigel,’ &c., are (some of them) written on the branches (i. 21). The ‘Rete’ being thus, as it were, a skeleton plate, allows the ‘Tropicus Cancri,’ &c., marked upon the body of the instrument, to be partially seen below it. Another form of the ‘Rete’ is shewn in Fig. 9, and other positions of the Rete in Fig. 11 and Fig. 12. But it was more usual to interpose between the ‘Rete’ and the body of the instrument (called the ‘Mother’) another thin plate or disc, such as that in Fig. 5, so that portions of this latter plate could be seen beneath the skeleton-form of the ‘Rete’ (i. 17). These plates are called by Chaucer ‘tables,’ and sometimes an instrument was provided with several of them, differently marked, for use in places having different latitudes. The one in Fig. 5 is suitable for the latitude of Oxford (nearly). The upper part, above the Horizon Obliquus, is marked with circles of altitude (i. 18), crossed by incomplete arcs of azimuth tending to a common centre, the zenith (i. 19). The lower part of the same plate is marked with arcs denoting the twelve planetary hours (i. 20).
At the back of the astrolabe revolved the ‘rule,’ made of metal, and fitted with sights, represented in Fig. 3 (i. 13). At the front of it revolved the ‘label,’ represented in Fig. 6 (i. 22).
All the parts were held together by the central pin (Fig. 4) which passed through the holes in the ‘moder,’ plates, ‘Rete,’ rule, and label , and was secured by a little wedge (i. 14), which was sometimes fancifully carved to resemble a horse (Fig. 7).
Another ‘table’ or disc is shewn in Fig. 14, and was used for ascertaining the twelve astrological houses.
§ 29.Uses of the Astrolabe Planisphere. I here briefly enumerate such principal uses of the instrument as are mentioned by Chaucer.
The back (Fig. 1) shews at once the degree of the zodiac answering to every day in the year (ii. 1). The altitude of the sun can be taken by the ‘Rule,’ elevated at the proper angle (ii. 2). If the Rete be properly adjusted to this altitude, we can thus tell the hour of the day (ii. 3). The duration of twilight can be calculated by observing when the sun is 18° below the horizon (ii. 6). Observe the times of sunrise and sundown, and the interval is the ‘artificial day’ (ii. 7). This day, with the duration of morning and evening twilights added to it, is called the ‘vulgar day’ (ii. 9). The plate in Fig. 5 shews the planetary hours (ii. 12). The placing of the sun’s degree on the South-line gives the sun’s meridian altitude (ii. 13), and conversely (ii. 14). The back of the instrument can shew what days in the year are of equal length (ii. 15). The degree of the zodiac which souths with any star can be ascertained by observing two altitudes of the star; but the observations must be made when the star is very near the meridian (ii. 17). If the star be marked on the Rete, the said degree is easily found by use of the Rete (ii. 18). We can also find with what degree of the zodiac the same star rises (ii. 19). The use of the Rete also shews the declination of every degree in the zodiac (ii. 20). We can always tell for what latitude a disc such as that in Fig. 5 is constructed, by properly examining it (ii. 21). The latitude of any place can be found by two observations of the altitude of the Pole-star (ii. 23); or of any circumpolar star (ii. 24); or by observing the sun’s meridional altitude (ii. 25). The Rete also tells us the ‘ascensions of signs,’ or how many degrees of the equinoctial circle pass the meridian with a given sign (ii. 27); as also the ‘oblique ascensions’ of the same (ii. 28). The astrolabe can also be used to discover (but only in an imperfect and approximate manner) the four cardinal points of the compass (ii. 29). We can also compare the altitude of a planet with that of the sun (ii. 30). We can find in what part of the horizon the sun rises (ii. 31); and in what direction to look for a conjunction of the sun and moon (ii. 32); also near what point of the compass the sun is at any given hour (ii. 33). The moon’s observed altitude will shew her longitude (ii. 34). We can tell, from two observations of a planet properly made, whether the planet’s movement is direct or retrograde (ii. 35). The disc shewn in Fig. 14 helps to shew the ‘equations of houses’ (ii. 36). The four cardinal points can be found without an astrolabe, by an experiment properly conducted (ii. 38). The astrolabe can be used to find the degree of the zodiac with which any planet ascends, even when the planet is not situated in the ecliptic (ii. 40).
By the use of the Umbra Recta on the back of the instrument, we can take the altitude of an accessible object by a single observation (ii. 41); or of an inaccessible object by two observations (ii. 43). Or, the height of an inaccessible object may likewise be taken by two observations, by the scale marked Umbra Versa (ii. 42).
The few Conclusions not here referred to are chiefly explanatory, or of minor interest.
§ 30.Stars marked on the Rete. Several of the Latin MSS. upon the Astrolabe give a list of the stars marked upon the Rete. There is a double list, for example, in MS. Ii. 3. 3, in the Cambridge University Library, fol. 70, back. It is given in the form of two tables; the first mentions forty-nine stars, with the degrees of the zodiac which south along with them, and their declinations from the equinoctial line. The second table mentions some only of the same stars, with their longitudes and latitudes, as referred to the ecliptic.
A list of the principal stars usually marked upon the Rete, as shewn in Fig. 2, is given in the Note to Part i. § 21. 4 (p. 357). Fig. 9 shews another Rete, with many of the same stars, with the addition of Markep (Argous). Alchimech is the same as Azimech, i.e. α Virginis; Cor Leonis is α Leonis; and Alfart is α Hydræ.
§ 31.Astrological Notes. For a general sketch of Astrology, see the English Cyclopaedia, s. v. Worthless as the science is, it is useful to have a few ‘facts’ for handy reference. I therefore attempt a synopsis of the chief points of it, drawn from Johannis Hispalensis Isagoge in Astrologiam.
To save space, I give the information in a tabular form, wherein I denote the twelve Signs by A., T., G., C., L., V., Li., S., Sa., Cp., Aq., P.; and the seven Planets, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon, by St., J., Ms., Sn., V., My., Mo. What the table exactly means shall be explained presently.
|Signs.||Man.||Ex.||Day.||Nt.||Com.||Face 1.||Face 2.||Face 3.|
The first line is to be read thus.
Aries is the mansion (or house) of Mars; the exaltation (or honour) of the Sun, in the 19th degree of the sign; the lord of the Triplicity of Aries with its attendant signs is the Sun by day, Jupiter by night, and Saturn in Common, both by day and night; the first Face of Aries (degrees 1 to 10) is that of Mars; the second Face (degrees 11 to 20) is that of the Sun; the third Face (degrees 21 to 30) is that of Venus. And so on for the rest; noting that Gemini is the Exaltation of the Dragon’s Head (D. H.), and Sagittarius that of the Dragon’s Tail (D. T.).
The meanings of the words are as follows:—
A Mansion or House appears to be that sign in which the planet is peculiarly at home for some reason or other.
The Exaltation or Honour is that degree of a sign in which the planet named has its greatest power; but the degree was often neglected, and Aries was called the Exaltation of the Sun, simply.
The Fall (Lat. occasus vel detrimentum) of a planet is the sign opposite its mansion. Libra is opposite Aries; therefore Libra is the Fall of Mars.
The Dejection or Depression (Lat. dedecus) of a planet is the sign opposite to that of its exaltation. Libra is opposite Aries; therefore Libra is the Dejection of the Sun. And so on.
A Triplicity is a combination of three signs in the form of a triangle, each 120° apart. Thus Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius form the first triplicity; Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn, the second; Gemini, Libra, Aquarius, the third; Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces, the fourth. Equal divisions of a sign (third-parts, namely) are called Faces. There were also unequal divisions called Terms.
The ‘mobill’ or movable signs are Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn. The ‘fixe’ or fixed signs are Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius. The ‘common’ signs are Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces.
The signs Aries, Gemini, Leo, &c. (taking every other sign) are diurnal or masculine. The rest, Taurus, Cancer, &c., are nocturnal or feminine.
The first six signs, Aries to Virgo, are northern or sinister signs. So called because astrologers looked towards the east or ascendent.
The last six, Libra to Pisces, are southern or dexter signs.
The signs Cancer to Sagittarius are western, sovereign, right, or direct signs. Cf. Astrol. ii. 28, and see Fig. 2.
The rest, Capricorn to Gemini, are eastern, obedient, tortuous, or oblique signs.
This is all that a reader is likely to want. For other points, see the authorities.
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DESCRIPTION OF THE PLATES.
§ 32. Plate I. Fig. 1. The flat back of the Astrolabe; see § 28.
Plate II. Fig. 2. The front of the Astrolabe, with raised border. In the wide depression in the middle, the plate called the ‘Rete’ is dropped in, and is shewn in its primary position. Other positions of it are sketched in Fig. 11 and Fig. 12.
Plate III. Fig. 3. The ‘Rewle’ carrying two sights, which revolved at the back of the Astrolabe. Astrol. i. 13.
Fig. 4. The central ‘Pin,’ shewn with the ‘Wedge’ inserted through it. Astrol. i. 14; cf. Fig. 7.
Fig. 5. One of the Tables or discs, used by being dropped within the depression on the front of the Astrolabe; i. 17. They were marked differently, according to the latitude of the place. The one here drawn is suitable for the latitude of Oxford, nearly.
Fig. 6. The ‘Label,’ which revolved at the front of the Astrolabe; i. 22.
Plate IV. Fig. 7. Another form of the ‘Pin,’ shewing the Wedge cut into the shape of a Horse (i. 14); from MS. Camb. Ii. 3. 3.
Fig. 8. Diagram, shewing how to draw the three ‘principal circles’; see footnote on p. 183.
Fig. 9. Another form of the ‘Rete,’ from MS. Ii. 3. 3; cf. Fig. 2. This figure shews the ‘Almury’ very clearly; Astrol. i. 23.
Plate V. Fig. 10. Diagram of the nine spheres; from MS Camb. Ii. 3. 3. Astrol. i. 17.
Fig. 11. Rough sketch of the position of the ‘Rete’ in Astrol. ii. 3 (first part). Denticle opposite C, and first point of Aries opposite X; 9 a.m.
Fig. 12. Rough sketch of the position of the ‘Rete’ in Astrol. ii. 3 (second part). Denticle near O; first point of Aries near H; 8h. 8m. p.m.
Fig. 13. Diagram of the Elevation of the Pole; Astrol. ii. 23. The arc AN is 56°; A′N is 48°; A′P is 4°; and PN is 52°. A, A′ are two positions of the Pole-star.
Plate VI. Fig. 14. A ‘Table’ or disc shewing the twelve astrological ‘Houses’; Astrol. ii. 36 and 37.
Fig. 15. Diagram shewing how to ascertain the meridional line from two shadows of an upright gnomon; Astrol. ii. 38.
Fig. 16. Diagram illustrating the use of the Umbra Recta; Astrol. ii. 41, 41a, and 41b.
Fig. 17. Diagram of the use of the Umbra Versa, at two observations; Astrol. ii. 42, 42a, and 42b.
Fig. 18. Use of the Umbra Recta, at two observations; Astrol. ii. 43 and 43a.
fig. 1. back of the ‘astrolabe’
fig. 2. front of the ‘astrolabe’
fig. 3. rule
fig. 4. pin
fig. 5. plate for a climate
fig. 6. label
fig. 7. wedge and horse (from a MS.)
fig. 8. diagram for a proposition
fig. 9. star-points
fig. 10. nine spheres
figs. 11, 12, 13. problems
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fig. 14. houses
figs. 15-18. umbra recta and umbra versa
THE HOUS OF FAME.
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The authorities are F. (Fairfax 16); B. (Bodley 638); P. (Pepys 2006); Cx. (Caxton’s ed.); Th. (Thynne’s ed. 1532). I follow F. mainly, correcting the spelling.
- GOD turne us every to gode[ ] !
- For hit is wonder, by the rode[ ] ,
- To my wit, what causeth swevenes
- Either on morwes, or on evenes;
- And why the effect folweth of somme,5
- And of somme hit shal never come;
- Why that is an avisioun[ ] ,
- this a revelacioun;
- Why this a dreem, why that a ,
- And nat to every man liche ;10
- Why this a , these oracles,
- I ; but who-so of these miracles
- The causes knoweth bet than I,
- Devyne he; for I certeinly
- Ne can hem noght, ne never thinke15
- To besily my wit to swinke,
- To knowe of hir signifiaunce
- The gendres , neither the distaunce
- Of tymes of hem, ne the causes
- For-why this than that cause is[ ] ;20
- As if folkes complexiouns[ ]
- Make hem dreme of reflexiouns ;
- Or elles thus, as other sayn,
- For to greet feblenesse brayn,
- By abstinence, or by seeknesse,25
- Prison, , or greet distresse;
- Or elles by disordinaunce
- Of naturel acustomaunce,
- That som man is to curious
- In studie, or melancolious,30
- Or thus, so inly ful of drede,
- That no man may him bote bede;
- Or elles, that devocioun
- Of somme, and contemplacioun
- Causeth dremes ofte;35
- Or that the cruel lyf unsofte
- Which these ilke lovers leden
- That hopen over muche or dreden,
- That purely hir impressiouns
- Causeth hem avisiouns;40
- Or if that spirits have the might
- To make folk to dreme a-night
- Or if the soule, of propre kinde ,
- Be so parfit, as men finde,
- That hit that is to come,45
- And that hit warneth alle and somme
- Of everiche of hir aventures
- By avisiouns, or by figures,
- But that our flesh ne hath no might
- To hit aright,50
- For hit is warned to derkly;—
- But why the cause is, noght wot I.
- Wel worthe, of this thing, grete clerkes[ ] ,
- That trete of this and other werkes;
- For I of noon opinioun55
- Nil as now make mencioun,
- But only that the holy rode
- Turne us every dreem to gode[ ] !
- For never, sith that I was born,
- Ne no man elles, me biforn,60
- Mette, I trowe stedfastly,
- So wonderful a as I
- The tenthe day [dide] of Decembre[ ] ,
- The which, as I can remembre[ ] ,
- I wol yow tellen every del.65
- The Invocation.
- But at my ginning, trusteth wel,
- I wol make invocacioun,
- With special devocioun[ ] ,
- Unto the god of slepe anoon[ ] ,
- That dwelleth in a cave of stoon70
- Upon a that comth fro Lete,
- That is a flood of helle unswete;
- Besyde a folk men Cimerie ,
- Ther slepeth ay this god unmerie
- With his slepy thousand sones[ ]75
- That alway for to slepe hir wone is—
- to this god, that I of rede,
- Preye I, that he me spede
- My sweven for to telle aright,
- If every stonde in his might.80
- And he, that mover is of al
- That is and was, and ever shal,
- So yive hem Ioye that hit here
- Of alle that they dreme to-yere,
- And for to alle in grace85
- Of hir loves, or in what place
- That hem wer levest for to stonde,
- And shelde hem fro and shonde[ ] ,
- And fro unhappe and disese,
- And sende hem al that may hem plese,90
- That take hit wel, and scorne hit noght,
- Ne hit misdemen in her thoght
- Through malicious entencioun.
- And who-so, through presumpcioun,
- Or hate or scorne, or through envye,95
- Dispyt, or Iape, or vilanye,
- Misdeme hit, preye I Iesus god
- That (dreme he barfoot, dreme he shod),
- That every harm that any man
- Hath had, sith the world began,100
- Befalle him therof, or he sterve,
- And graunte he mote hit ful deserve,
- Lo! with swich conclusioun
- As had of his avisioun
- Cresus , that was king of Lyde,105
- That high upon a gebet dyde!
- This prayer shal he have of me;
- I am no bet in charite!
- Now herkneth, as I have you [ ] ,
- What that I mette, or I .110
- The Dream.
- Of Decembre the tenthe day[ ] ,
- Whan hit was night, to slepe I lay
- Right ther as I was wont to done,
- And fil on slepe wonder sone,
- As he that wery was for-go115
- On pilgrimage myles two
- To the corseynt ,
- To make lythe of that was .
- But as I , me mette I was[ ]
- Within a temple y-mad of glas[ ] ;120
- In whiche ther were mo images
- Of , stondinge in sondry stages,
- And mo riche tabernacles,
- And with perre mo pinacles,
- And mo curious portreytures,125
- And maner of figures
- Of werke, then I saw ever.
- For certeynly, I niste never
- Wher that I was, but wel wiste I,
- Hit was of Venus redely,130
- temple; for, in portreyture,
- I anoon-right hir figure
- Naked fletinge in a see.
- And also on hir , parde,
- Hir whyt and reed,135
- And hir to kembe hir heed,
- Hir dowves , and daun Cupido,
- Hir blinde sone, and Vulcano ,
- That in his face was ful .
- But as I romed up and ,140
- I that on a ther was[ ]
- Thus writen, on a table of bras:
- ‘I wol now , if that I can[ ] ,
- The armes, and al-so the man,
- That first cam, through his destinee,145
- Fugitif of contree,
- In Itaile, with ful moche pyne,
- Unto the strondes of .’
- And tho began the story anoon,
- As I shal telle yow echoon.150
- First saw I the destruccioun
- Of , through the Greek Sinoun ,
- [ ] with his forsweringe,[ ]
- And his chere and his lesinge
- Made the hors broght into Troye,155
- Thorgh which Troyens loste al hir Ioye.
- And after this was grave, allas!
- How Ilioun assailed was
- And wonne, and king Priam ,
- And his sone, certayn,160[ ]
- Dispitously, of dan Pirrus.
- And next that saw I how Venus,
- Whan that she saw the castel brende ,
- Doun fro the hevene gan descende,[ ]
- And bad hir sone Eneas flee;165
- And how he fledde, and how that he
- Escaped was from al the pres,
- And took his fader, Anchises,
- And bar him on his bakke away,
- Cryinge, ‘Allas, and welaway!’170
- The whiche Anchises in his honde
- Bar the of the londe,
- Thilke that were.
- And I saw next, in alle fere,[ ]
- How Creusa, daun Eneas wyf,175
- Which that he lovede as his lyf,
- And hir yonge sone Iulo ,
- And eek Ascanius also,
- Fledden eek with drery chere,
- That hit was pitee for to here;180
- And in a forest, as they wente,
- At a turninge of a wente ,
- How Creusa was y-lost, allas!
- [ ]
- How he hir soughte, and how hir gost185
- Bad him to flee the Grekes ost,
- And seyde, he moste unto Itaile,
- As was his , sauns faille;
- That hit was pitee for to here,[ ]
- Whan hir spirit gan appere,190
- The wordes that she to him seyde,
- And for to kepe hir sone him preyde.
- Ther saw I eek how he,
- His fader eek, and his meynee,
- With his shippes gan to sayle195
- the contree of Itaile,
- As streight as that they mighte go.
- Ther saw I thee, cruel Iuno,[ ]
- That art daun wyf,
- That hast y-hated, al thy lyf,200
- Al the Troyanisshe blood,
- Renne and crye, as thou were wood,
- On Eolus, the god of windes,
- To out, of alle kindes,
- So loude, that he shulde drenche205
- Lord and lady, grome and wenche
- Of al the Troyan nacioun,
- Withoute any savacioun.
- Ther saw I swich tempeste aryse,
- That every mighte agryse,210
- To see hit peynted on the walle.
- Ther saw I graven eek withalle,
- Venus, how ye, my lady dere,
- Wepinge with ful woful chere,
- Prayen Iupiter an hye215
- To save and kepe that navye
- Of the Troyan Eneas,
- Sith that he hir sone was.
- Ther saw I Ioves Venus kisse,[ ]
- And graunted of the .220
- Ther saw I how the tempest ,
- And how with alle pyne he ,
- And prevely took arrivage
- In the contree of Cartage;
- And on the morwe, how that he225
- And a knight, hight Achatee ,
- with Venus that day,
- Goinge in a queynt array,
- As she had ben an hunteresse,
- With wind blowinge upon hir tresse;230
- How Eneas gan him to pleyne,
- Whan that he knew hir, of his peyne;
- And how his shippes dreynte were,
- Or elles lost, he niste where;
- How she gan him tho,235
- And bad him to Cartage go,
- And ther he shuldë his finde,
- That in the see were left behinde.
- And, shortly of this thing to pace,[ ]
- She made Eneas so in grace240
- Of Dido, quene of that contree,
- That, shortly for to , she
- Becam his love, and leet him do
- That that wedding longeth to.
- What shulde I speke more queynte,245
- Or peyne me my wordes peynte,
- To speke of love? hit wol not be;
- I can not of that facultee.
- And eek to telle the manere
- How they aqueynteden in-fere,250
- Hit were a long proces to telle,
- And over long for yow to dwelle.
- Ther saw I grave, how Eneas
- Tolde Dido every cas,
- That him was tid upon the see.255
- And after grave was, how she
- Made of him, shortly, at oo ,
- Hir lyf, hir love, hir lust, hir ;
- And dide him al the reverence,
- And leyde on him al dispence,260
- That any woman mighte do,
- Weninge hit had al be so,
- As he hir swoor; and her-by demed
- That he was good, for he swich semed.
- Allas! what harm doth apparence,265[ ]
- Whan hit is fals in existence!
- For he to hir a traitour was;
- Wherfor she slow hir-self, allas!
- Lo, how a woman doth amis,
- To love him that is!270
- For, by Crist, lo! thus hit fareth;
- ‘Hit is not al gold , that glareth.’
- For , al-so brouke I wel myn heed,
- Ther may be under goodliheed
- Kevered many a shrewed vyce;275
- Therfor be no wight so nyce,
- To take a love only for chere,
- For , or for frendly manere;
- For this shal every woman finde
- That som man, of his pure kinde,280[ ]
- Wol shewen outward the faireste,
- Til he have caught that what him leste;
- And thanne wol he causes finde,
- And swere how that she is unkinde,
- Or fals, or prevy, double was.285
- Al this seye I by Eneas[ ]
- And Dido, and hir nyce lest,
- That lovede al to sone a gest ;
- Therfor I wol seye a proverbe,
- That ‘he that fully knoweth therbe290
- May saufly leye hit to his yë’;
- Withoute dreed, this is no lye.
- But let us speke of Eneas,
- How he betrayed hir, allas!
- And lefte hir ful unkindely.295
- So whan she saw al-utterly,
- That he wolde hir of trouthe faile,
- And wende fro hir to Itaile,
- She gan to wringe hir hondes two.
- ‘Allas!’ quod she, ‘what me is wo!300
- Allas! is every man thus trewe,
- That every yere wolde have a newe,
- If hit so longe tyme dure,
- Or elles three, peraventure?
- As thus: of he wolde have fame305[ ]
- In magnifying of his name;
- Another for frendship, seith he;
- And yet ther shal the thridde be,
- That shal be taken for ,
- Lo, or for singular .’310
- In swiche wordes gan to pleyne
- Dido of hir grete peyne,
- As me redely;
- Non other alegge I.
- ‘Allas!’ quod , ‘my swete herte,315[ ]
- Have pitee on my sorwes smerte,
- And slee me not! go noght away!
- O woful Dido, wel away!’
- Quod she to hir-selve tho.
- ‘O Eneas! what ye do?320
- O, that your love, ne your bonde,
- That ye sworn with your right honde,
- Ne my cruel deeth,’ quod she,
- ‘May holde yow still heer with me!
- O, haveth of my deeth pitee!325
- Y-wis, my dere herte, ye
- Knowen ful wel that never yit,
- As fer-forth as I wit,
- Agilte [ ] yow in thoght ne deed.
- O, have ye men swich goodliheed330
- In speche, and never a deel of trouthe?
- Allas, that ever routhe
- Any woman on any man!
- Now see I wel, and can,
- We wrecched wimmen conne non art;335
- For certeyn, for the more part,
- Thus we be served everichone.
- How sore that ye men conne grone,
- Anoon as we have yow receyved!
- Certeinly we ben deceyved;340
- For, though your love laste a sesoun,
- Wayte upon the conclusioun,
- And eek how that ye determynen,[ ]
- And for the more part diffynen.
- ‘O, welawey that I was born!345
- For through yow is my name lorn,[ ]
- And myn actes red and songe
- Over al this lond, on every tonge.
- O wikke Fame! for ther nis
- Nothing so swift, lo, as she is!350[ ]
- O, sooth is, every thing is wist,[ ]
- Though hit kevered with the mist.
- Eek, thogh I mighte ever,
- That I have doon, rekever I never,
- That I ne shal be seyd , allas,355
- Y-shamed be through Eneas,
- And that I shal thus Iuged be—
- “Lo, right as she hath , now she
- Wol do eftsones , hardily;”
- Thus seyth the peple prevely.’—360
- But that is doon, nis not to done ;
- hir compleynt ne al hir mone,
- , availeth hir not a stre.
- And whan she wiste sothly he
- Was forth unto his shippes goon,365
- She hir chambre wente anoon,[ ]
- And called on hir suster Anne,[ ]
- And gan hir to compleyne thanne;
- And seyde, that she cause was
- That she first lovede [ ],370
- thus counseilled hir therto.
- what! when this was seyd and do,
- She roof hir-selve to the herte,
- And deyde through the wounde smerte.
- But al the maner how she deyde,375
- And al the wordes that she seyde,
- Who-so to knowe hit hath purpos,
- Reed Virgile in Eneidos
- Or the Epistle of Ovyde,
- What that she wroot or that she dyde;380
- long to ,[ ]
- By god, I woldë hit here wryte.
- But, welaway! the harm, the routhe,
- That hath betid for swich untrouthe,
- As men may ofte in bokes rede,385
- And al day seen hit yet in dede,
- That for to hit, a tene is.
- Lo, Demophon, duk of Athenis,[ ]
- How he forswor him ful falsly,
- And trayed Phillis wikkedly,390
- That kinges doghter of Trace,
- And falsly gan his terme pace ;
- And when she wiste that he was fals,
- She heng hir-self right by the hals,
- For he had do hir swich untrouthe;395
- Lo! was not this a wo and routhe?
- Eek lo! how fals and reccheles[ ]
- Was to Briseida Achilles,
- And Paris to Enone;
- And Iason to Isiphile;400
- And eft Iason to Medea;[ ]
- Ercules to Dyanira;[ ]
- For he lefte hir for Iöle,
- That made him cacche his deeth, parde.
- How fals eek was he, Theseus;405[ ]
- That, as the story telleth us,
- How he betrayed Adriane;[ ]
- The devel be his soules bane!
- For had he laughed, had he loured,
- He mostë have be devoured,410
- If Adriane ne had y-be!
- And, for she had of him pitee,
- She made him fro the dethe escape,
- And he made hir a ful fals Iape;
- For after this, within a whyle415
- He lefte hir slepinge in an yle ,
- Deserte alone, right in the see,
- And stal away, and leet hir be;
- And took hir suster Phedra tho
- With him, and gan to shippe go.420
- And yet he had y-sworn to here,
- On al that ever he mighte swere,
- That, so she saved him his lyf,
- He wolde have take hir to his wyf;
- For she desired nothing elles,425
- In certein, the book telles .
- But to excusen Eneas
- Fulliche of al his trespas,
- The book seyth, , sauns faile,
- Bad him go into Itaile,430
- And leve Auffrykes regioun,
- And Dido and hir faire toun.
- Tho saw I grave, to Itaile
- Daun Eneas is go to ;
- And how the tempest al began,435
- And how he loste his steresman,
- Which that the stere, or he took keep,
- Smot over-bord, lo! as he sleep.
- And also saw I how Sibyle[ ]
- And Eneas, besyde an yle,440
- To helle wente, for to see
- His fader, Anchises the free.
- How he ther fond Palinurus,
- And Dido, and eek Deiphebus;
- And every tourment eek in helle445
- Saw he, which is to telle.
- Which who-so willeth for to knowe,
- He moste rede many a rowe
- On Virgile or on Claudian ,
- Or Daunte, that hit telle can.450
- Tho saw I grave al [ ]
- That Eneas had in Itaile;
- And with king Latine his tretee,
- And alle the batailles that he
- Was at him-self, and eek his knightes,455
- Or he had al y-wonne his rightes;
- And how he Turnus refte his lyf,
- And wan to his wyf;[ ]
- And al the mervelous signals
- Of the goddes celestials;460
- How, maugre Iuno, Eneas,
- For al hir sleighte and hir compas,
- Acheved al his aventure;
- For Iupiter took of him cure
- At the prayere of Venus;465
- The whiche I preye alway save us,
- And us ay of our sorwes lighte!
- Whan I had al this sighte[ ]
- In this noble temple thus,
- ‘A, Lord!’ thoughte I, ‘that madest us,470
- Yet saw I never swich noblesse
- Of images, ne swich richesse,
- As I saw in this chirche;
- But not woot I who dide hem wirche,
- Ne wher I am, ne what contree.475
- But now wol I go out and see,
- Right at the wiket, if I can
- See o-wher any man,
- That may me telle wher I am.’
- When I out at the dores cam,480
- I faste aboute me beheld.
- Then saw I but a large feld,[ ]
- As fer as that I mighte see,
- Withouten toun, or hous, or tree,
- Or bush, or gras, or ered lond;485
- For al the feld nas but of
- As smal as man may see yet lye
- In the desert of Libye;
- Ne I no maner creature,
- That is y-formed by nature,490
- Ne , me [for] to rede or wisse.
- ‘O Crist,’ thoughte I, ‘that art in blisse,
- Fro fantom and illusioun
- Me save!’ and with devocioun
- Myn yën to the heven I caste.495
- Tho was I war, ! at the laste,
- That faste by the sonne, as hyë
- As kenne mighte I with myn yë,
- Me thoughte I saw an egle sore,
- But that hit semed moche more500
- Then I had any egle seyn.
- But this as sooth as deeth, certeyn,
- Hit was of golde, and shoon so bright,
- That never saw men such a sighte,[ ]
- But-if the heven hadde y-wonne505
- Al newe of golde another sonne;
- So shoon the egles fethres brighte,
- And somwhat dounward gan hit lighte.
Explicit liber primus.
[Back to Table of Contents]
Incipit liber secundus.
Colophon and Title.So in Cx.; the rest omit them.
- Now herkneth, every maner man
- That English understonde can,510
- And of my dreem to lere;[ ]
- For now at erste shul ye here
- So an avisioun,
- That Isaye , ne ,
- Ne king Nabugodonosor ,515
- Pharo , Turnus, ne ,
- Ne mette swich a dreem as this!
- Now faire blisful, O Cipris ,(10)
- So be my favour at this tyme!
- And ye, me to endyte and ryme520
- Helpeth, that on Parnaso dwelle
- By Elicon the clere welle.
- O Thought, that wroot al that I mette,
- And in the tresorie hit shette
- Of my brayn! now shal men see525
- If any vertu in thee be,
- To tellen al my dreem aright;
- Now kythe thyn engyn and might!(20)
- The Dream.
- This egle , of which I have yow told,
- That shoon with fethres as of gold,530
- Which that so hyë gan to sore,
- I gan beholde more and more,
- To see beautee and the wonder;
- But never was ther dint of thonder,[ ]
- Ne that that men calle foudre,535
- That somtyme a tour to poudre,
- And in his swifte coming ,[ ]
- That so swythe gan descende,(30)
- As this foul, whan hit behelde
- That I a-roume was in the felde;540
- And with his grimme pawes stronge,
- Within his sharpe nayles longe,
- Me, fleinge, a swappe he hente ,
- And with his sours agayn up wente,
- Me in his clawes starke545
- As lightly as I were a larke,
- How high, I can not telle yow,
- For I up, I niste how.(40)
- For so astonied and a-sweved
- Was every vertu in my heved,550
- What with his sours and with my drede,
- That al my gan to dede;
- For-why hit was to greet affray.
- Thus I longe in his clawes lay,
- Til at the laste he to me spak555
- In mannes vois, and seyde, ‘Awak!
- And be not so , for shame!’[ ]
- And called me by my name.(50)
- And, for I sholde the bet abreyde—
- Me mette—‘Awak,’ to me he seyde,560
- Right in the same vois and stevene
- That useth oon I coude nevene;
- And with that vois, soth for to sayn,
- My minde cam to me agayn;
- For hit was goodly seyd to me,565
- So hit never wont to be.
- And herwithal I gan to stere,
- And he me in his feet to bere,(60)
- Til that he felte that I had hete,
- And felte eek myn herte bete.570
- And tho gan he me to disporte,
- And with wordes to comforte,
- And sayde twyës, ‘ Marie![ ]
- Thou art noyous for to carie,
- And nothing nedeth , parde!575
- For al-so wis god helpe me
- As thou non harm shalt have of this;
- And this cas, that betid thee is,(70)
- Is for thy lore and for thy prow;—
- Let see! darst thou yet loke now?580
- Be ful assured, boldely,
- I am thy frend.’ And therwith I
- Gan for to wondren in my minde.
- ‘O god,’ thoughte I, ‘that madest kinde,
- Shal I non other weyes dye?585
- Wher Ioves wol me stellifye,
- Or what thing may this signifye?
- I neither am Enok, ne Elye,(80)[ ]
- Ne Romulus, ne Ganymede
- That was y-bore up, as men rede,590
- To hevene with dan Iupiter,
- And the goddes boteler .’
- Lo! this was tho my fantasye!
- But he that bar me gan espye
- That I so thoghte, and seyde this:—595
- ‘Thou demest of thy-self amis;
- For Ioves is not ther-aboute —
- I dar wel putte thee out of doute—(90)
- To make of thee as yet a sterre.
- But er I bere thee moche ferre,600[ ]
- I wol thee telle what I am,
- And whider thou shalt, and why I cam
- To this, so that thou take
- Good herte, and not for fere quake.’
- ‘Gladly,’ quod I. ‘Now wel,’ quod he:—605
- ‘First I, that in my feet have thee,
- Of which thou hast a feer and wonder,
- Am dwelling with the god of thonder,(100)[ ]
- Which that men callen Iupiter,
- That dooth me flee ful ofte fer610
- To do al his comaundement.
- And for this cause he hath me sent
- To thee: now herke, by thy trouthe!
- Certeyn, he hath of thee routhe,[ ]
- That thou so longe trewely615
- Hast served so ententifly
- His blinde nevew Cupido,
- And fair Venus [ ] also,(110)[ ]
- Withoute guerdoun ever yit,
- And nevertheles hast set thy wit—620
- Although that in thy hede ful is—[ ]
- To make ,
- In ryme, or elles in cadence,
- As thou best canst, in reverence
- Of Love, and of his servants eke,625
- That have his servise soght, and seke;
- And peynest thee to preyse his art,
- Althogh thou haddest never part;(120)
- Wherfor, al-so god me blesse,
- Ioves halt hit greet humblesse630
- And vertu eek, that thou wolt make
- A-night ful ofte thyn heed to ake,
- In thy studie so thou wrytest,
- And ever-mo of love endytest,
- In honour of him preysinges,635
- And in his folkes furtheringes,
- And in hir matere al devysest,
- And noght him nor his folk despysest,(130)
- Although thou mayst go in the daunce
- Of hem that him list not avaunce.640
- ‘Wherfor, as I seyde, y-wis,
- Iupiter considereth this,
- And also, beau sir, other thinges;
- That is, that thou hast no tydinges
- Of Loves folk, if they be glade,645
- Ne of noght elles that god made;
- And noght only fro contree
- That ther no tyding comth to thee,(140)
- But of thy verray neyghebores,
- That almost at thy dores,650
- Thou herest neither that this;
- For whan thy labour doon al is,[ ]
- And hast thy rekeninges,
- In stede of reste and newe thinges,
- Thou gost hoom to thy hous anoon;655
- And, also domb as any stoon,
- Thou sittest at another boke,
- Til fully is thy loke,(150)
- And livest thus as an hermyte,
- Although thyn abstinence is lyte.660
- ‘And therfor Ioves, through his grace,
- Wol that I bere thee to a place,[ ]
- Which that hight the Hous of Fame,
- To do thee som disport and game,
- In som recompensacioun665
- Of labour and devocioun
- That thou hast had, lo! causeles,
- To Cupido, the reccheles!(160)
- And thus this god, thorgh his meryte,
- Wol with som maner thing thee quyte,670
- So that thou wolt be of good chere.
- For truste wel, that thou shalt here,
- When we be ther I seye,
- Mo wonder thinges, dar I leye,
- Of Loves folke mo tydinges,675
- Bothe and lesinges;
- And mo loves newe begonne,
- And longe y-served loves wonne,(170)
- And mo loves casuelly
- That betid, no man wot why,680
- But as a blind man stert an hare;[ ]
- And more Iolytee and ,
- Whyl that they finde love of stele,
- As thinketh hem, and over-al wele;
- Mo discords, mo Ielousyes,685
- Mo murmurs, and mo novelryes,
- And mo dissimulaciouns,
- And feyned reparaciouns;(180)
- And mo berdes in two houres
- Withoute rasour or sisoures690
- Y-maad, then greynes be of sondes;
- And eke mo holdinge in hondes ,
- And also mo renovelaunces
- Of olde forleten aqueyntaunces;
- Mo love-dayes and acordes695
- Then on instruments ben ;[ ]
- And eke of loves mo eschaunges
- Than ever cornes were in graunges;(190)
- Unethe maistow trowen this?’—
- . ‘No, helpe me god so wis !’—700
- I. ‘No? why?’ quod he. ‘For hit
- Were impossible , to my wit,
- Though that Fame hadde al the pyes
- In al a realme, and al the spyes,
- How that yet shulde here al this,705
- Or they espye hit.’ ‘O yis, yis!’
- Quod he to me, ‘that can I preve
- By resoun, worthy for to love ,(200)
- So that thou yeve thyn advertence
- To understonde my sentence.710
- ‘First shalt thou wher she dwelleth,
- And so thyn owne book hit telleth;
- Hir paleys stant, as I shal seye,
- Right even in middes of the weye
- Betwixen hevene, see;715
- That, what-so-ever in al these three
- Is spoken, privee or aperte,
- The therto is so overte,(210)
- And stant eek in so Iuste a place,
- That every soun mot to hit pace,720
- Or what so comth fro any tonge,
- Be hit rouned, red, or songe,
- Or spoke seurtee or drede,
- Certein, hit moste thider nede.
- ‘Now wel; for-why I wille725
- Tellen thee a propre skile,
- And demonstracioun
- In myn imagynacioun.(220)
- ‘Geffrey, thou wost right wel this,
- That every kindly thing that is,730[ ]
- Hath a kindly stede ther he
- May best in hit conserved be;
- Unto which place every thing,
- Through his kindly enclyning,
- Moveth for to come to,735
- Whan that hit is awey therfro;
- As thus; lo, thou mayst al day see
- That any thing that hevy be,(230)
- As stoon or leed, or thing of ,
- And ber hit never so hye on ,740
- Lat go thyn hand, hit falleth doun.
- ‘Right so seye I by fyre or soun,
- Or smoke, or other thinges lighte,
- Alwey they seke upward on ;
- Whyl ech of hem is at his large ,745
- Light thing up, and dounward charge .
- ‘And for this cause mayst thou see,
- That every river to the see(240)
- Enclyned is to go, by kinde.
- And by these skilles , as I finde,750
- Hath fish dwellinge in floode and see,
- And treës eek in erthe be.[ ]
- Thus every thing, by this resoun,
- Hath his propre ,
- To which hit seketh to repaire,755
- As ther hit shulde not apaire.
- Lo, this sentence is knowen couthe
- Of every philosophres mouthe,(250)
- As Aristotle and dan Platon,[ ]
- And other clerkes many oon;760
- And to confirme my resoun,
- Thou wost wel this, that speche is soun,
- Or elles no man mighte hit here;
- Now what I wol thee lere.
- ‘Soun is noght but air y-broken,765[ ]
- And every speche that is ,
- Loud or privee, foul or fair,
- In his substaunce is but air;(260)
- For as flaumbe is but lighted smoke,
- Right so soun is air y-broke.770
- But this may be in many wyse,
- which I will thee two devyse,
- soun that comth of pype or harpe.
- For whan a pype is blowen sharpe,
- The air is twist with violence,775
- And rent; lo, this is my sentence;
- Eek, whan men harpe-stringes smyte,
- Whether hit be moche or lyte,(270)
- Lo, with the strook the air to-breketh;
- Right so hit whan men speketh.780
- Thus wost thou wel what thing is speche.
- ‘Now hennesforth I wol thee teche,
- How every speche, or noise, or soun,
- Through his multiplicacioun,
- Thogh hit were pyped of a mouse,785
- Moot nede come to Fames House.
- I preve hit thus—tak hede now—
- By experience ; for if that thou(280)
- on water now a stoon,
- Wel wost thou, hit wol make anoon790
- A litel roundel as a cercle,
- Paraventure brood as a covercle ;
- And right anoon thou shalt see weel,
- That wheel wol cause another ,
- And that the thridde, and so forth, brother,795
- Every cercle causing other,
- Wyder than himselve was;
- And , fro roundel to compas,(290)
- Ech aboute other goinge,
- of othres steringe,800
- And multiplying ever-mo,
- Til that hit be so fer y-go
- hit at bothe brinkes be.
- Al-thogh mowe hit not y-see
- Above, hit goth yet under,805[ ]
- Although thou thenke hit a gret wonder.
- And who-so seith of trouthe I varie,
- Bid him proven the contrarie.(300)[ ]
- And right thus every word, y-wis,
- That loude or privee is,810
- Moveth first an air aboute ,
- And of this moving, out of doute,
- Another air anoon is meved,
- As I have of the water preved,
- That every cercle causeth other.815
- Right so of air, my leve brother;
- Everich air other stereth
- More and more, and speche up bereth,(310)
- Or vois, or noise, or word, or soun,
- Ay through multiplicacioun,820
- Til hit be House of Fame;—
- Tak hit in ernest or in game.[ ]
- ‘Now have I told, if minde,
- How speche or soun, of pure kinde,
- Enclyned is upward to meve;825
- This, mayst thou fele , wel I preve.
- , y-wis,[ ]
- That every thing enclyned to is,(320)
- Hath his kindeliche stede:
- sheweth hit, withouten drede,830
- That kindely
- Of every speche, of every soun,
- Be hit either foul or fair,
- Hath his kinde place in air.
- And sin that every thing, that is835
- Out of his kinde place, y-wis,
- Moveth thider for to go
- If hit be therfro,(330)
- As I have preved thee,
- Hit seweth, every soun, pardee,840
- Moveth kindely to pace
- Al up into his kindely place.
- And this place of which I telle,
- Ther as Fame list to dwelle,
- Is set amiddes of these three,845
- Heven, erthe, and eek the see,[ ]
- As most conservatif the soun.
- Than is this the conclusioun,(340)
- That every speche of every man,
- As I thee telle first began,850
- Moveth up on high to pace
- Kindely to Fames place.
- ‘Telle me feithfully,
- Have I not preved thus simply,
- Withouten any subtiltee855
- Of speche, or gret prolixitee
- Of termes of philosophye,
- Of figures of poetrye,(350)
- Or colours rethoryke?
- Pardee, hit thee to lyke;860
- For hard langage and hard matere[ ]
- Is encombrous for to here
- At ones; wost thou not wel this?’
- And I answerde, and , ‘Yis.’
- ‘A ha!’ quod he, ‘lo, so I can,865
- Lewedly man
- Speke, and shewe him swiche skiles,
- That he may shake hem by the biles,(360)[ ]
- So palpable they shulden be.
- But tel me this, now pray I thee,870
- How thinkth thee my conclusioun?’
- . ‘A good persuasioun,’
- Quod I, ‘hit is; and lyk to [ ]
- Right so as thou hast preved me.’
- ‘By god,’ quod he, ‘and as I leve,875
- Thou shalt have yit, or hit be eve,
- Of every word of this sentence
- A preve, by experience;(370)
- And with thyn eres heren wel
- Top and tail, and everydel,880
- That every word that spoken is
- Comth into Fames Hous, y-wis,
- As I have seyd; what wilt thou more?’
- And with this word upper to sore
- He gan, and seyde, ‘By Seynt Iame!885
- Now wil we al of game.’—
- ‘How farest thou?’ quod he to me.
- ‘Wel,’ quod I. ‘Now see,’ quod he,(380)[ ]
- ‘By thy yond adoun,
- Wher that thou knowest any 890
- Or hous, or any other thing.
- And whan thou hast of ought knowing,
- Loke that thou warne me,
- And I anoon shal telle thee
- How fer that thou art now therfro.’895
- And I adoun loken tho,
- And beheld feldes and plaines,
- And now hilles, and now mountaines,(390)
- Now valeys, now forestes,
- And now, unethes , grete bestes;900
- Now riveres , now citees,
- Now tounes, and now grete trees,
- Now shippes sailinge in the see.
- But thus sone in a whyle he
- Was flowen fro the grounde so hyë,905
- That al the world, as to myn yë,
- No more semed than a prikke ;
- Or elles was the air so thikke(400)
- That I ne mighte not discerne.
- With that he spak to me as yerne,910
- And seyde: ‘ any
- thou knowest yonder doun?’
- , ‘Nay.’ ‘No wonder nis,’
- Quod he, ‘for half so high as this
- Nas Alexander Macedo;915[ ]
- Ne the king , dan Scipio,
- That saw in dreme, at point devys ,
- Helle and erthe, and paradys;(410)
- Ne eek the wrecche Dedalus ,
- Ne his child, nyce Icarus,920
- That fleigh so highe that the hete
- His winges malt , and he fel wete
- In-mid the see, and ther he dreynte,
- For whom was maked moch compleynte.
- ‘Now turn upward,’ quod he, ‘thy face,925[ ]
- And behold this large place,
- This air; but loke thou ne be
- Adrad of hem that thou shalt see;(420)
- For in this regioun, certein,
- Dwelleth many a citezein,930[ ]
- Of which that speketh dan Plato.[ ]
- These ben eyrish bestes , lo!’
- And so saw I al that meynee
- Bothe goon and also flee.
- ‘Now,’ quod he tho, ‘cast up thyn yë;935
- See yonder, lo, the Galaxy ë,
- Which men clepeth the Milky Wey,
- For hit is whyt: and somme, parfey,(430)
- Callen hit Watlinge Strete:
- That ones was y-brent with hete,940
- Whan the sonnes sone, the rede,
- That highte Pheton, wolde lede[ ]
- Algate his fader cart, and gye.
- The cart-hors gonne wel espye
- That he ne coude no governaunce,945
- And gonne for to lepe and launce,
- And beren him now up, now doun,
- Til that he saw the Scorpioun ,(440)
- Which that in heven a signe is yit.
- And he, for ferde, loste his wit,950
- Of that, and the reynes goon
- Of his hors; and they anoon
- Gonne up to mounte, and doun descende
- Til bothe the eyr and erthe brende;
- Til , lo, atte laste,955
- Him slow, and the carte caste.
- Lo, is it not a mischaunce,
- To lete a fole han governaunce(450)
- Of thing that he can not demeine?’
- And with this word, soth for to seyne,960
- He gan upper to sore,
- And gladded me ay more and more,
- So feithfully to me spak he.
- Tho gan I under me,
- And beheld the eyrish bestes,965
- Cloudes, mistes, and tempestes,
- Snowes, hailes, reines, windes,
- And thengendring in hir kindes,(460)
- al the wey through whiche I cam;
- ‘O god,’ quod I, ‘that made Adam,970
- Moche is thy might and thy noblesse!’
- And tho thoughte I upon Boëce ,
- That , ‘a thought may flee so hyë,
- With fetheres of Philosophye,
- To passen everich element;975
- And whan he hath so fer y-went,
- Than may be seen, behind his bak,
- Cloud, al that I of spak.’(470)
- Tho gan I wexen in a were,
- And seyde, ‘I woot wel I am here;980
- But wher in body or in gost[ ]
- I noot, y-wis; but god, thou wost!’
- For more cleer entendement
- never yit y-sent.
- And than thoughte I on Marcian ,985
- And eek on Anteclaudian ,
- That sooth was hir descripcioun
- Of al the hevenes regioun,(480)
- As fer as that I saw the preve;
- Therfor I can hem now beleve.990
- With that this egle gan to crye:
- ‘Lat be,’ quod he, ‘thy fantasye;
- Wilt thou lere of sterres aught?’
- ‘Nay, certeinly,’ quod I, ‘right naught;
- And why? for I am now to old.’995
- ‘Elles I wolde thee have told,’
- Quod he, ‘the sterres names, lo,
- And al the hevenes signes ,(490)
- And which they been.’ ‘ fors,’ quod I.
- ‘Yis, pardee,’ quod he; ‘wostow why?1000
- For whan thou redest poetrye,
- How goddes gonne stellifye
- , fish, beste, or him or here ,
- As the Raven , or either Bere,
- Or Ariones harpe fyn,1005
- Castor, Pollux , or Delphyn,
- Or doughtres sevene,[ ]
- How alle these arn set in hevene;(500)
- For though thou have hem ofte on honde,
- Yet nostow not wher that they stonde.’1010
- ‘No fors,’ quod I, ‘hit is no nede;
- I leve as wel, so god me spede,
- Hem that wryte of this matere,
- though I knew hir places here;
- And eek here so brighte,1015
- Hit shulde shenden al my sighte,
- To loke on hem.’ ‘That may wel be,’
- Quod he. And so forth bar he me(510)
- A whyl, and than he gan to crye,
- That never herde I thing so hye,1020
- ‘Now up the heed ; for al is wel;
- Seynt Iulyan, lo, bon hostel![ ]
- See here the House of Fame, lo!
- Maistow not heren that I do?’[ ]
- ‘What?’ quod I. ‘The grete soun,’1025
- Quod he, ‘that rumbleth up and doun
- In Fames Hous, ful of tydinges,
- Bothe of fair speche and chydinges,(520)
- And of fals and compouned.
- ; hit is not rouned.1030
- Herestow not the grete swogh?’
- ‘Yis, pardee,’ quod I, ‘wel y-nogh.’
- ‘And what soun is it lyk?’ quod he.
- ‘Peter ! beting of the see,’
- Quod I, ‘again the roches holowe,1035
- Whan tempest doth the shippes swalowe;
- And lat a man stonde, out of doute,
- A myle thens, and here hit route;(530)
- Or elles lyk the last humblinge
- After clappe of a thundringe,1040
- When Ioves hath the air y-bete;
- But hit doth me for fere swete.’
- ‘Nay, dred thee not therof,’ quod he,
- ‘Hit is nothing wil thee;[ ]
- Thou shalt non harm have, trewely.’1045
- And with this word bothe he and I
- As nigh the place arryved were
- As men may casten with a spere.(540)[ ]
- I nistë how, but in a strete
- He sette me faire on my fete,1050
- And seyde, ‘Walke forth a pas,
- And tak thyn aventure or cas,
- That thou shalt finde in Fames place.’
- ‘Now,’ quod I, ‘whyl we han space
- To speke, or that I go fro thee,1055
- For the love of god, me,
- In sooth, that of thee lere,
- If this noise that I here(550)
- Be, as I have herd thee tellen,
- Of folk that doun in erthe dwellen,1060
- And comth here in the same wyse
- As I thee herde or this devyse;
- that ther lyves body nis
- In al that hous that yonder is,
- That maketh al this loude fare?’1065
- ‘No,’ quod he, ‘by Seynte Clare,
- And also wis god rede me!
- But o thinge I wil warne thee(560)
- Of the which thou wolt have wonder.
- Lo, to the House of Fame yonder1070
- Thou wost cometh every speche,
- Hit nedeth noght to teche.
- But understond now right wel this;
- Whan any speche y-comen is
- Up to the paleys, anon-right1075
- Hit wexeth lyk the same wight,
- Which that the word in erthe spak,
- Be hit clothed reed or blak;(570)
- And his lyknesse
- spak the word, that thou wilt gesse1080
- That hit the same body be,
- Man or woman, he or she.
- And is not this a wonder thing?’
- ‘Yis,’ quod I tho, ‘by hevene king!’
- And with this worde, ‘Farwel,’ quod he,1085
- ‘And here I wol abyden thee;
- And god of hevene sende thee grace,
- Som good to in this place.’(580)
- And I of him took leve anoon,
- And gan forth to the paleys goon.1090
Explicit liber secundus.
[Back to Table of Contents]
Incipit liber tercius.
- O god of science and of light,[ ]
- Apollo, through thy grete might,
- This litel laste book thou gye!
- Nat that I wilne, for maistrye,
- Here art poetical be shewed;1095
- But, for the rym is light and lewed,
- Yit make hit sumwhat agreable,
- Though som vers faile in a sillable;[ ]
- And that I do no diligence
- To shewe craft, but o sentence.(10) 1100
- And if, divyne vertu,
- Wilt helpe me to shewe
- That in myn hede y-marked is—
- Lo, that is for to menen this,
- The Hous of Fame descryve—1105
- Thou shalt see go, as blyve,
- Unto the nexte I see,
- And kisse hit, for hit is thy tree;
- Now entreth in my breste anoon!—
- The Dream.
- Whan I was fro this egle goon,(20) 1110
- I gan beholde upon this place.
- And certein, or I ferther pace,
- I wol yow al shap devyse
- Of hous and ; and al the wyse[ ]
- How I gan to place aproche1115
- That stood upon so high a roche,[ ]
- Hyer stant ther noon in Spaine.
- But up I clomb with alle paine,
- And though to climbe hit greved me,
- Yit I ententif was to see,(30) 1120
- And for to pouren wonder lowe,
- If I coude any weyes knowe
- What maner stoon this roche was;
- For hit was lyk a thing of glas,
- But that hit shoon ful more clere;1125
- But of what congeled matere
- Hit was, redely.
- But at the laste espyed I,
- And found that hit was, every deel,
- A roche of yse, and not of steel.(40) 1130
- Thoughte I, ‘By Seynt Thomas of Kent![ ]
- This were a feble
- To bilden on a place hye;
- He oughte him litel glorifye
- That her-on , god so me save!’1135
- Tho saw I the half y-grave
- With famous folkes names fele,
- That had y-been in mochel wele,
- And hir fames wyde y-blowe.
- But wel unethes coude I knowe(50) 1140
- Any lettres for to rede
- Hir names by; for, out of drede,
- They were almost of-thowed so,
- That of the lettres oon or two
- molte away of every name,1145
- So unfamous was wexe hir fame;
- But men seyn, ‘What may ever laste?’
- Tho gan I in myn herte caste,
- That they were molte awey with hete,
- And not awey with stormes bete.(60) 1150
- For on that other syde I sey
- Of this hille, that northward lay,[ ]
- How hit was writen ful of names
- Of that hadden grete fames
- Of olde , and yit were1155
- As fresshe as men had writen hem
- The selve day right, or that houre
- That I upon hem gan to poure.
- But wel I wiste what hit made ;
- Hit was conserved with the shade—(70) 1160
- Al this wrytinge that I sy—
- Of a castel, stood on hy,
- And stood eek on so cold a place,
- That hete mighte hit not deface.
- Tho gan I up the hille to goon,1165
- And fond upon the coppe a woon,
- That alle the men that ben on lyve[ ]
- Ne han the cunning to descryve
- The beautee of that ilke place,
- Ne coude casten no compace(80) 1170
- Swich another for to make,
- That mighte of beautee be his make
- Ne [be] so wonderliche y-wrought;
- That hit astonieth yit my thought,
- And maketh al my wit to swinke1175
- On this castel to bethinke.
- So that the grete , beautee,[ ]
- cast, the curiositee
- Ne can I not to yow devyse,
- My wit ne may me not suifyse.(90) 1180
- But natheles al the substance
- I have yit in my remembrance;
- For-why me thoughte, by Seynt Gyle !
- Al was of stone of beryle,
- Bothe and the tour,1185
- And eek the halle, and every bour,
- Withouten peces or Ioininges.
- But many subtil compassinges,
- and pinacles,[ ]
- Imageries and tabernacles,(100) 1190
- I saw; and ful eek of windowes,
- As flakes falle in grete snowes.
- And eek in ech of the pinacles
- Weren sondry habitacles ,
- In whiche , al withoute—1195
- Ful the castel , al aboute—
- alle maner of minstrales,[ ]
- And gestiours, that tellen tales
- Bothe of weping and of game,
- Of al that longeth unto Fame.(110) 1200
- Ther herde I pleyen an harpe
- That bothe wel and sharpe,
- Orpheus ful craftely,
- And on syde, faste by,
- Sat the harper Orion ,1205
- And Chiron ,
- And other harpers many oon,
- And the Glascurion;[ ]
- And smale harpers with her gleës
- under in seës,(120) 1210
- And gonne on hem upward to ,
- And countrefete hem as an ape,
- Or as craft countrefeteth kinde.
- Tho saugh I stonden hem behinde,
- A-fer fro hem, al by hemselve,1215
- Many thousand tymes twelve,
- That maden loude menstralcyes
- In cornemuse and shalmyes,[ ]
- And many other maner pype,
- That craftely begunne (130) 1220
- Bothe in doucet and in ,
- That ben at festes with the ;[ ]
- And many floute and lilting-horne ,
- And pypes made of grene corne,[ ]
- As han thise litel herde-gromes,1225
- That kepen bestes in the bromes.
- Ther saugh I than ,[ ]
- And of Athenes dan ,
- And Marcia that lost her skin,
- Bothe in face, body, and chin,(140) 1230
- For that she wolde envyen , lo!
- To pypen bet then Apollo.
- Ther saugh I , olde and yonge,
- Pypers of Duche tonge,
- To lerne love-daunces, springes,1235
- , and these straunge thinges.[ ]
- Tho saugh I in another place
- Stonden in a large space,
- Of hem that maken blody soun
- In trumpe, beme, and clarioun;(150) 1240
- For in and blood-shedinge
- Is used gladly clarioninge.
- Ther herde I trumpen Messenus ,
- Of whom that speketh Virgilius.
- Ther herde I also,1245
- Theodomas , and other mo;
- And alle that used clarion
- In Cataloigne and Aragon,
- That in hir tyme famous were
- To lerne, saugh I trumpe there.(160) 1250
- Ther saugh I sitte in other seës,
- Pleyinge upon sondry gleës,
- Whiche that I cannot nevene,
- Mo then sterres been in hevene,
- Of whiche I nil as ryme,1255
- For ese of yow, and losse of tyme:
- For tyme y-lost, this knowen ye,[ ]
- By no way may recovered be.
- Ther saugh I Iogelours ,
- Magiciens and tregetours ,(170) 1260
- And phitonesses , charmeresses,
- Olde , sorceresses,
- That use exorsisaciouns,
- And eek thise fumigaciouns;
- And clerkes eek, which conne wel1265
- Al this magyke naturel,[ ]
- That craftely don hir ententes,
- To make, in certeyn ascendentes ,
- Images, lo, through which
- To make a man ben hool or .(180) 1270
- Ther saugh I , queen Medea ,
- And eke, and Calipsa;[ ]
- Ther saugh I Hermes Ballenus,
- , and eek Simon Magus.[ ]
- Ther saugh I , and knew by name,1275
- That by such art don men han fame.
- Ther saugh I Colle tregetour
- Upon a table of sicamour
- Pleye an uncouthe thing to telle;
- I saugh him carien a wind-melle(190) 1280
- Under a walsh-note shale.
- What shuld I make lenger tale
- Of al the peple I say,
- Fro hennes in-to domesday?
- Whan I had al this beholde,1285
- And fond me lous, and noght ,
- And eft longe whyle
- Upon these walles of beryle,
- That shoon ful lighter than a glas,
- And made wel more than hit was(200) 1290
- To semen, every thing, y-wis,
- As kinde thing of fames is;
- I gan romen til I fond
- The castel-yate on my right hond,
- Which that so wel corven was1295
- That never swich another nas;
- And yit hit was by aventure
- Y-wrought, as often as by cure.
- Hit nedeth noght yow for to tellen,
- To make yow to longe dwellen,(210) 1300
- Of yates florisshinges,
- Ne of compasses, ne of kervinges,
- Ne in masoneries,
- As, fulle of imageries.[ ]
- But, lord! so fair hit was to shewe,1305
- For hit was al with gold behewe.
- But in I wente, and that anoon;
- Ther mette I crying many oon,—
- ‘A larges, larges, up wel![ ]
- God save the lady of this pel,(220) 1310
- Our owne gentil lady Fame,[ ]
- And hem that wilnen to have name
- Of us!’ Thus herde I cryen alle,
- And faste comen out of halle,
- And nobles and sterlinges.1315
- somme crouned were as kinges ,
- With crounes wroght ful of ;
- And many riban, and many
- Were on hir clothes trewely.
- Tho atte laste aspyed I(230) 1320
- That pursevauntes and ,
- That cryen riche folkes laudes,
- Hit weren alle; and every man
- Of hem, as I yow tellen can,
- Had on him throwen a vesture,1325
- Which that men a cote-armure ,
- Enbrowded riche,
- they nere nought y-liche.
- But noght nil I, so mote I thryve,[ ]
- Been aboute to discryve.(240) 1330
- Al these armes that ther weren,
- That they thus on hir beren,
- For hit to me were impossible;
- Men mighte make of hem a bible
- Twenty foot thikke, I trowe.1335
- For certeyn, who-so coude y-knowe
- Mighte ther alle the armes seen
- Of famous folk that han y-been
- In Auffrike, Europe, and Asye,
- Sith first began the chevalrye.(250) 1340
- Lo! how shulde I now telle al this?
- Ne of the halle eek what nede is[ ]
- To tellen yow, that every wal
- Of hit, and floor, and roof and al
- Was plated half a fote thikke1345
- Of gold, and that nas no-thing wikke ,
- But, for to prove in alle wyse,
- As fyn as ducat in Venyse,
- Of whiche to al in my pouche is?
- And they wer set as of nouchis(260) 1350
- of the fynest stones faire,
- That men rede in the Lapidaire ,
- greses growen in a mede;
- But hit were al to longe to rede
- The names; and therfore I pace.1355
- But in this place,
- That Fames halle called was,
- Ful moche prees of folk ther nas,
- Ne crouding, for to mochil prees.
- But al on hye, above a dees ,(270) 1360
- in a see imperial,[ ]
- That maad was of a rubee al,
- Which that a carbuncle is y-called,
- I saugh, perpetually y-stalled,
- A feminyne creature;1365
- That never formed by nature
- Nas swich another thing y-seye.
- For altherfirst, soth for to seye,[ ]
- Me thoughte she was so lyte,
- That the lengthe of a cubyte(280) 1370
- Was lenger than she ;
- But thus sone, in a whyle,
- Hir tho so streighte,
- That with hir feet she reighte,
- And with hir heed she touched hevene,1375
- Ther as shynen sterres sevene .
- And ther-to eek, as my wit,
- I saugh a gretter wonder yit,
- Upon hir eyen to beholde;
- But certeyn I hem never tolde ;(290) 1380
- For as fele eyen hadde she
- As fetheres upon foules be,
- Or weren on the bestes foure ,
- That goddes trone gunne honoure,
- As Iohn writ in thapocalips.1385
- Hir heer, that oundy was and crips,
- As burned gold hit shoon to see.
- And sooth to tellen, also she
- Had also fele up-stonding eres
- And tonges , as on bestes heres;(300) 1390
- And on hir feet wexen saugh I
- Partriches winges redely.
- But, lord! the perrie and the richesse
- I saugh sitting on this goddesse!
- And, lord! the hevenish melodye1395
- Of songes, ful of armonye,
- I herde aboute her trone y-songe,
- That al the paleys-walles ronge!
- So song the mighty Muse, she
- That cleped is Caliopee ,(310) 1400
- And hir eighte sustren eke,
- That in hir face semen meke;
- And evermo, eternally,
- They of Fame, as tho herde I:—
- ‘Heried be thou and thy name,1405
- Goddesse of renoun of fame!’
- Tho was I war, lo, atte laste,
- As I myn eyen gan up caste,
- That this ilke noble quene
- On hir shuldres gan sustene(320) 1410
- Bothe and the name[ ]
- Of tho that hadde large fame;
- Alexander , and Hercules
- That with a sherte his lyf lees!
- fond I sitting this goddesse,1415
- In , honour, and richesse;
- Of which I stinte a whyle now,
- Other thing to tellen yow.
- Tho saugh I stonde on either syde,
- Streight doun to the dores wyde,(330) 1420
- Fro the dees, many a
- Of metal, that shoon not ful cleer;
- But though they nere of no richesse,
- Yet they were maad for greet noblesse,
- And in hem greet sentence;1425
- And folk of digne reverence,
- Of whiche I wol yow telle fonde,
- Upon the piler saugh I stonde.
- Alderfirst, lo, ther I sigh,
- Upon a piler stonde on high,(340) 1430
- That was of lede and yren ,
- of secte Saturnyn,
- The Ebrayk Iosephus, the olde,[ ]
- That of Iewes gestes tolde;
- And upon his shuldres hye1435
- The fame of the Iewerye .
- And by him other sevene,[ ]
- Wyse and worthy for to nevene,
- To helpen him bere up the charge,
- Hit was so hevy and so large.(350) 1440
- And for they writen of batailes,
- As wel as ,
- Therfor was, lo, this ,
- Of which that I yow telle ,
- Of lede and yren bothe, y-wis.1445
- For yren Martes metal is,
- Which that god is of bataile;
- And the leed, withouten faile,
- Is, lo, the metal of Saturne,
- That hath large wheel to turne.(360) 1450
- Tho stoden forth, on every rowe,
- Of hem which that I coude knowe,
- Thogh I hem noght by ordre telle,
- To make yow to long to dwelle.
- These, of whiche I ginne rede,1455
- Ther saugh I , out of drede:
- Upon an yren piler strong,
- That peynted was, al endelong,
- With tygres blode in every place,[ ]
- The that highte Stace ,(370) 1460
- That bar of Thebes up the fame
- Upon his shuldres, and the name
- Also of cruel Achilles .
- And by him stood, withouten lees,
- Ful wonder hye on a pileer1465
- Of yren, he, the gret Omeer ;
- And with him Dares and Tytus[ ]
- Before, and eek he, Lollius ,
- And Guido eek de Columpnis,
- And English Gaufride eek, y-wis;(380) 1470
- And ech of these, as have I Ioye,
- Was besy for to bere up Troye.
- So hevy ther-of was the fame,
- That for to bere hit was no game.
- But yit I gan ful wel espye,1475
- Betwix hem was a litel envye.
- Oon made lyes,
- Feyninge in his poetryes,
- And was to Grekes favorable;
- Therfor held he hit but fable.(390) 1480
- Tho saugh I stonde on a pileer,
- That was of tinned yren cleer,[ ]
- That Latin poete, Virgyle,[ ]
- That bore hath up longe whyle
- The fame of Pius Eneas.1485
- And next him on a piler was,
- Of coper, Venus clerk, Ovyde ,
- That hath y-sowen wonder wyde
- The grete god of Loves name.
- And ther he bar up wel his fame,(400) 1490
- Upon this piler, also hye
- For-why this halle, of whiche I rede
- Was woxe on , lengthe and brede,[ ]
- Wel more, by a thousand del,1495
- Than hit was erst, that saugh I wel.
- Tho saugh I, on a piler by,
- Of yren wroght ful ,
- The grete poete, Lucan ,
- And on his shuldres bar up than,(410) 1500
- As highe as that I mighte see,
- The fame of Iulius and Pompee.
- And by him stoden alle these clerkes,
- That writen of Romes mighty werkes,
- That, if I wolde hir names telle,1505
- Al to longe moste I dwelle.
- And next him on piler stood
- Of soulfre, lyk as he were wood,
- Dan Claudian , the soth to telle,
- That bar up the fame of helle,(420) 1510
- Of Pluto, and of Proserpyne,
- That quene is of the derke pyne.[ ]
- What shulde I more telle of this?
- The halle was al ful, y-wis,
- Of hem that writen gestes,1515
- As ben on treës rokes nestes;
- But hit a ful confus matere
- Were al the gestes for to here,
- That they of write , and how they highte.
- But whyl that I beheld this sighte,(430) 1520
- I herde a noise aprochen blyve,[ ]
- That ferde as been don in an hyve,
- Agen her tyme of out-fleyinge;
- Right swiche a maner murmuringe,
- For al the world, hit semed me.1525
- Tho gan I loke aboute and see,
- That ther com entring the halle[ ]
- A right gret company with-alle,
- And that of sondry regiouns,
- Of condiciouns,[ ](440) 1530
- That dwelle in erthe under the mone,
- Pore and ryche. And also sone
- As they were come into the halle,
- They gonne doun on kneës falle
- Before this ilke noble quene,1535
- And seyde, ‘Graunte us, lady shene,
- Ech of us, of thy grace, a bone!’
- And somme of hem she graunted sone,
- And somme she werned wel and faire;
- And somme she graunted the contraire(450) 1540
- Of hir axing utterly.
- But thus I seye yow trewely,
- What hir was, I niste.
- For this folk, ful wel I wiste,
- They hadde good fame ech deserved,1545
- Althogh they were diversly served;
- Right as hir suster, dame Fortune,
- Is wont to serven in comune.
- Now how she gan to paye
- That gonne hir of hir grace praye;[ ](460) 1550
- And , lo, al this companye
- Seyden sooth, and noght a lye.
- ‘Madame,’ they, ‘we be
- Folk that heer besechen thee,
- That thou graunte us now good fame,1555
- And lete our werkes han that name;
- In ful recompensacioun
- Of good werk, give us good renoun.’
- ‘I werne yow hit,’ quod she anoon,
- ‘Ye gete of me good fame noon,(470) 1560
- By god! and therfor go your wey.’
- ‘Alas,’ quod they, ‘and welaway!
- Telle us, what may your cause be?’
- ‘For me list hit noght,’ quod she;[ ]
- ‘No wight shal speke of yow, y-wis,1565
- Good ne harm, ne that ne this.’
- And with that word she gan to calle
- Hir messanger, that was in halle,
- And bad that he shulde faste goon,
- Up to be blind anoon,[ ](480) 1570
- For Eolus, the god of winde;—[ ]
- ‘ Trace ther ye shul him finde,
- And bid him bringe his clarioun,
- That is ful dyvers of his soun,
- And hit is cleped Clere Laude,1575
- With which he wont is to heraude
- Hem that me list y-preised be:
- And also bid him how that he
- Bringe his other clarioun,
- That highte Sclaundre in every toun,(490) 1580
- With which he wont is to diffame
- Hem that me list, and do hem shame.’
- This messanger gan faste goon,
- And found wher, in a cave of stoon,
- In a contree highte Trace,1585
- This Eolus, with harde grace,
- Held the windes in distresse,
- And gan hem under him to presse,
- That they gonne as beres rore,
- He bond and pressed hem so sore.(500) 1590
- This messanger gan faste crye,
- ‘Rys up,’ quod he, ‘and faste hye,
- Til that thou at my lady be;
- And tak thy eek with thee,
- And speed thee forth.’ And he anon1595
- Took to a man, that hight Triton,
- His to bere tho,
- And leet a certeyn wind to go,[ ]
- That blew so hidously hye,
- That hit ne lefte not a skye(510) 1600
- In al the welken longe and brood.
- This Eolus no-wher abood
- Til he was come Fames feet,
- And eek the man that Triton heet;
- And ther he stood, as still as stoon.1605
- And her-withal ther com anoon
- Another huge companye
- Of gode folk, and gunne crye,
- ‘Lady, graunte us good fame,
- And lat our werkes han that name(520) 1610
- Now, in honour of gentilesse,
- And also god your soule blesse!
- For we han wel deserved hit,
- Therfor is right that we ben quit.’
- ‘As thryve I,’ quod she, ‘ye shal faile,1615
- Good werkes shal yow noght availe
- To have of me good fame as now.
- But ye what? I graunte yow,[ ]
- That ye shal have a shrewed fame
- And wikked loos, and worse name,(530) 1620
- Though ye good loos have deserved.
- Now go your wey, for ye be served;
- Eolus, let see!
- Tak forth thy trumpe anon,’ quod she,
- ‘That is y-cleped Sclaunder light,1625
- And blow hir loos, that every wight
- Speke of hem harm and shrewednesse,
- In stede of good and worthinesse.
- For thou shalt trumpe al the contraire
- Of that they han don wel or faire.’(540) 1630
- ‘Alas,’ thoughte I, ‘what aventures
- Han these sory creatures!
- For they, amonges al the pres,
- Shul thus be shamed gilteles!
- But what! hit moste nedes be.’1635
- What did this Eolus, but he
- Tok out his trumpe of bras,
- That fouler than the devil was,
- And gan this trumpe for to blowe,
- As al the world shulde overthrowe ;(550) 1640
- That through-out every regioun
- Wente this foule trumpes soun,
- As swift as pelet out of gonne,
- Whan fyr is in the poudre ronne.
- And swiche a smoke gan out-wende1645
- Out of his foule trumpes ende,
- Blak, blo, grenish, reed,
- As doth wher that men melte leed,
- Lo, al on high fro the tuel!
- And therto oo thing saugh I wel,(560) 1650
- That, the ferther that hit ran,
- The gretter wexen hit began,
- As doth the river from a welle,
- And hit stank as the pit of helle.
- Alas, thus was hir shame y-ronge,1655
- And giltelees, on every tonge.
- Tho com the companye,
- And gunne up to the dees to hye,
- And doun on knees they fille anon,
- And seyde, ‘We ben everichon(570) 1660
- Folk that ful trewely
- Deserved fame rightfully,
- And praye yow, hit mot be knowe,
- Right as hit is, and forth y-blowe.’
- ‘I graunte,’ quod she, ‘for me list1665
- That now your gode ;
- And yit ye shul han better loos,
- in dispyt of alle your foos,
- Than worthy is; and that anoon:
- Lat now,’ quod she, ‘thy trumpe goon,(580) 1670
- Thou Eolus, that is so blak;
- And out thyn other trumpe tak
- That highte Laude, and blow hit so
- That through the world hir fame go
- esely, and not to faste,1675
- That hit be knowen atte laste.’
- ‘Ful gladly, lady myn,’ he seyde;
- And out his trumpe of golde he brayde
- Anon, and sette hit to his mouthe,
- And blew hit est, and west, and southe,(590) 1680
- And north, as loude as any thunder,
- That every wight
[Back to Table of Contents]
THE LEGEND OF GOOD WOMEN.
[Back to Table of Contents]
The Prologue to this Poem exists in two different versions, which differ widely from each other in many passages. The arrangement of the material is also different.
For the sake of clearness, the earlier version is here called ‘Text A,’ and the later version ‘Text B.’
‘Text A’ exists in one MS. only, but this MS. is of early date and much importance. It is the MS. marked Gg. 4. 27 in the Cambridge University Library, and is here denoted by the letter ‘C.’ It is the same MS. as that denoted by the abbreviation ‘Cm.’ in the footnotes to the Canterbury Tales and Troilus and Criseyde. This text is printed in the upper part of the following pages. The footnotes give the MS. spellings, where these are amended in the text.
‘Text B’ occupies the lower part of the following pages. It follows the Fairfax MS. mainly, which is denoted by ‘F.’ In many places, the inferior spellings of this MS. are relegated to the footnotes, amended spellings being given in the text. Various readings are given from Tn. (Tanner MS. 346); T. (Trinity MS., R. 3. 19); A. (Arch. Seld. B. 24 in the Bodleian Library); Th. (Thynne’s Edition, 1532); B. (Bodley MS. 638); P. (Pepys MS. 2006); and sometimes from C. (already mentioned) or Add. (Addit. 9832).
Lines which occur in one text only are marked (in either text) by a prefixed asterisk. Lines marked with a dagger (†) stand just the same in both texts. The blank space after A 60 (p. 70) shews that there is nothing in Text A corresponding to B 69-72. Where the corresponding matter is transposed to another place, one or other text has a portion printed in smaller type.
The prologe of .ix. goode Wimmen.
- A have I herd men telle,
- †That is Ioye in heven, and peyne in helle;[ ]
- And I acorde wel that be so;
- But natheles, this I wel also,
- That ther nis that in this ,5
- That either hath in helle or y-be,
- †Ne may of hit non other weyes witen,
- †But as he hath herd seyd, or founde hit writen;
- †For by assay ther may no man hit preve.
- But forbode, but men leve10
- †Wel more thing then men han seen with yë!
- †Men shal nat wenen every-thing a lyë
- For that he it nat of yore ago.
- God wot, a thing is the lesse so
- †Thogh every wight ne may hit nat y-see.15
- †Bernard the monk ne saugh nat al, parde!
- †Than mote we to bokes that we finde,
- †Through which that olde thinges been in minde,
- †And to the doctrine of these olde wyse,
- †Yeven credence, in every skilful wyse,20
- And on these olde
- †Of holinesse, of regnes, of victories,
- †Of love, of hate, of other sundry thinges,
- †Of whiche I may not maken rehersinges.
- †And if that olde bokes were a-weye,25
- †Y-loren were of remembraunce the keye.
- Wel us on olde leve,
- Ther-as is non by preve.
- And, as for me, that wit be lyte,
- †On for to rede I me delyte,30
- †And in myn herte have hem in reverence;
- And to hem yeve swich lust and swich credence,
- That ther is wel game noon
- That from my make me to goon,
- But hit be other up-on the haly-day,35
- Or elles in the Ioly tyme of May;
- Whan that I here the smale foules singe,
- †And that the floures ginne for to springe,
- Farwel my , as that sesoun!
- Now have I therto this condicioun40
- †That, of alle the floures in the mede,
- †Than love I most these floures whyte and rede,
- †Swiche as men callen daysies in our toun.
- †To hem have I so greet affeccioun,
- †As I seyde erst, whan comen is the May,45
- †That in my bed ther daweth me no day
- †That I nam up, and walking in the mede
- To seen these the ,
- Whan hit up-riseth by the morwe ,
- *The longe day, thus in the grene.50
From A. 55-58.
This dayesye, of alle floures flour,
- Fulfild of vertu and of alle honour,
- †And ever y-lyke fair and fresh of hewe,
- As wel in winter as in somer newe—
- And whan the for to weste,
- Than closeth hit, and to reste.
- So sore is of the night,
- *Til on the morwe, that is light.
- This dayesye, of alle flour,55
- Fulfild of vertu and of alle honour,
- †And ever y-lyke fair and of hewe,
- As wel in as in newe,
- Fain wolde I , if I coude ;
- *But wo is me, hit lyth nat in might!60
- For wel I wot, that folk han her-beforn
- †Of , and lad a-wey the corn;
- † here and there,
- †And am ful glad if I may finde an
- Of goodly word that they han .65
- And, if hit happe me eft
- That they han in sayd,
- I hope that they nat ben ,
- hit is seid in forthering and honour
- Of hem that or flour.70
- For wel, I ne have nat
- As of the the flour, to make;
- Ne of the flour to make, ageyn the ,
- †No more than of the corn the .
- For, as to me, is ne ;75
- I am yit with never .
- I not , ne who the flour;
- That nis nothing the entent of my labour.
- For this werk is al of another tunne,
- Of story, er swich stryf was begunne.80
- †But that I spak, to yeve credence
- To olde and hem reverence,
- Is for men beleve,
- as ther lyth non by preve.
- *For myn entent is, or I fro yow fare,85
- *The in to declare
- *Of a story, or of many a geste,
- *As seyn; leveth hem if yow leste!
- Whan passed was almost the of May,
- And I romed, al the day,90
- *The grene , of which that I yow tolde,
- Upon the to beholde,
- And that the sonne out of the gan weste,
- And was the flour and goon to reste
- For of the , of which ,95
- †Hoom to myn hous ful swiftly I me ;
- †And, in a erber that I have,
- newe with ,
- †I bad men me my couche make;
- †For deyntee of the newe sake,100
- †I bad hem strowe on my bed.
- †Whan I was layd, and myn eyen ,
- I fel a-slepe an or two.
- Me mette how I was in the tho,
- *And that I in that same gyse,105
- To that flour, as ye han herd devyse.
- *Fair was this , as thoughte me overal;
- With was it al;
- As for to speke of gomme, or erbe, or tree,
- †Comparisoun may be.110
- For hit pleynly alle ,
- †And eek of riche alle .
- † the erthe his pore estat
- †Of , that him made and mat,
- And with his swerd of cold so sore .115
- Now sonne al that ,
- And him in grene al newe .
- †The smale foules, of the seson fayn,
- †That from the panter and the net ben scaped,
- †Upon the fouler, that hem made a-whaped120
- †In winter, and distroyed had hir brood,
- †In his despyt, hem thoughte hit did hem good
- †To singe of him, and in hir song despyse
- †The foule cherl that, for his covetyse,
- †Had hem betrayed with his sophistrye.125
- †This was hir song—‘the fouler we defye!’
- Somme songen [ ] on the braunches clere
- Of love and [ ], that Ioye hit was to here,
- In and in preysing of make,
- And of the newe blisful sake,130
- That be seynt !
- [ ] at his day I yow to be myn,
- †With-oute , myn herte swete!’
- †And therwith-al mete.
- And after observaunces
- Right [ ] un-to love and to ;
- *So ech of hem [ ] to .
- *This song to I al myn ,
- *For-why I mette I wiste what they .140
From A. 90.
And I had romed, al the someres day,
From A. 92.
Up-on the fresshe daysy to beholde.
From A. 71-74.
For trusteth wel, I ne have nat undertake
- As of the leef, ageyn the flour, to make;
- Ne of the flour to make, ageyn the leef,
- †No more than of the corn ageyn the sheef.
From A. 75-80.
For, as to me, is leefer noon ne lother;75
- I am with-holde yit with never nother.
- I not who serveth leef, ne who the flour;
- That nis nothing the entent of my labour.
- For this werk is al of another tunne,
- Of olde story, er swich stryf was begunne.80
From A. 93-96.
And that the sonne out of the south gan weste,
- And closed was the flour and goon to reste
- For derknesse of the night, of which she dredde,
- †Hoom to myn hous ful swiftly I me spedde
From A. 106.
To seen that flour, as ye han herd devyse.
From A. 97-104.
†And, in a litel erber that I have,
- Y-benched newe with turves fresshe y-grave,
- †I bad men shulde me my couche make;
- †For deyntee of the newe someres sake,100
- †I bad hem strowe floures on my bed.
- †Whan I was layd, and had myn eyen hed,
- I fel a-slepe within an houre or two.
- Me mette how I was in the medew tho,
- *Til at the laste a larke song above:141
- *‘I see,’ quod she, ‘the mighty god of love!
- *Lo! yond he , I see sprede!’
From A. 106.
To seen that flour, as ye han herd devyse,
- Tho gan I endelong the mede,
- And saw him come, and in his hond a quene,145
- in ryal abite al of grene.
- †A of she hadde next ,
- †And up-on that a whyt
- With , and I shal nat lye;
- For al the world, right as the 150
- † is with whyte lyte,
- Swich were the of hir whyte.
- For of o perle fyn and oriental
- †Hir whyte coroun was y-maked al;
- †For which the whyte coroun, above the grene.155
- †Made hir lyk a daysie for to sene,
- Considered eek the fret of gold above.
- †Y-clothed was this mighty god of love
- Of silk, ful of greves;
- A garlond on his of rose-160
- * al with newe;
- *But of his face I can nat seyn the hewe.
- For sekirly his face so ,
- *That with the was the ;
- A furlong-wey I him beholde.165
- But at the laste in hande I saw him holde
- † , as the rede;
- And aungellich gan he sprede.
- †And al be that men seyn that blind is he,
- Al-gate me thoughte he mighte wel y-see;170
- †For sternely on me he gan biholde,
- †So that his loking doth myn herte colde.
- †And by the hande he held the noble quene,
- †Corouned with whyte, and clothed al in grene,
- †So womanly, so benigne, and so meke,175
- †That in this world, thogh that men wolde seke,
- †Half hir beautee shulde men nat finde
- †In creature that formed is by kinde,
- Hir name was Alceste ;
- I to god that falle she fayre!180
- †For ne hadde confort been of hir presence,
- †I had be deed, withouten any defence,
- †For drede of Loves wordes and his chere,
- †As, whan tyme is, her-after ye shal here.
- Byhind this god of love, up-on this grene,185
- †I saw cominge of ladyës
- †In ryal abite, a ful esy pas,
- †And after hem com of wemen swich a tras
- That, sin that god Adam made of erthe,
- The thredde part of wemen, ne the ferthe,190
- †Ne wende I nat by possibilitee
- in this world y-be;
- †And trewe of love thise wemen were echoon.
- †Now whether was that a wonder thing or noon,
- †That, right anoon as that they gonne espye195
- †This flour, which that I clepe the dayesye,
- †Ful sodeinly they stinten alle at-ones,
- And kneled adoun, as it were for the nones.
- *And that they in compas,
- *Daunsinge aboute this flour an esy pas,200
- *And , as it were in carole-wyse,
- *This balade, that I yow devyse.
- †Hyd, Absolon, thy gilte tresses clere;
- †Ester, ley thou thy meknesse al a-doun;
- †Hyd, Ionathas, al thy frendly manere;205
- † , and Marcia Catoun,
- †Mak of your wyfhod no comparisoun;
- †Hyde ye your beautes, Isoude and Eleyne,
- Alceste is here, that al that may .
- †Thy faire body, lat hit nat appere,210
- †Lavyne; and thou, Lucresse of Rome toun,
- †And Polixene, that boghte love so dere,
- Eek Cleopatre, with al thy passioun,
- Hyde ye your trouthe in love and your renoun;
- And thou, Tisbe, that hast for love swich peyne:215
- Alceste is here, that al that may desteyne.
- Herro, Dido, Laudomia, alle in-fere,
- Eek Phyllis, hanging for thy Demophoun,
- †And Canace, espyed by thy chere,
- Ysiphile, betrayed with Jasoun,220
- Mak of trouthe in love no bost ne soun;
- Nor Ypermistre or Adriane, ne pleyne;
- Alceste is here, that al that may desteyne.
- Whan that this balade al was,
From A. 179-198.
Hir name was Alceste ;
- I prey to god that ever falle she fayre!180
- †For ne hadde confort been of hir presence,
- †I had be deed, withouten any defence,
- †For drede of Loves wordes and his chere,
- †As, whan tyme is, her-after ye shal here.
- this god of love, up-on this grene,185
- †I saw cominge of
- †In ryal abite, a ful esy pas,
- †And after hem com of wemen swich a tras,
- That, sin that god Adam made of erthe,
- The thredde part of wemen, ne the ferthe,190
- †Ne wende I nat by possibilitee
- ever in this world y-be.
- †And trewe of love these wemen were echoon.
- †Now whether was that a wonder thing or noon,
- †That, right anon as that they gonne espye195
- †This flour, that I clepe the ,
- †Ful sodeinly they alle ,
- And adoun, as it were for the .
- *Upon the softe and grene gras225
- †They hem ful softely adoun,
- By alle in , alle .
- First sat the god of love, and this quene
- †With the whyte coroun, clad in grene;
- †And sithen al the remenant by and by,230
- As they were of , ful curteisly;
- †Ne nat a word was spoken in the place
- †The mountance of a furlong-wey of space.
- I, faste by a bente,
- †Abood, to knowen what this peple mente,235
- †As stille as any stoon; til at the laste,
- The god of love on me his eye caste,
- And seyde, ‘ resteth ther?’ and I answerde
- Un-to his , whan that I him herde,
- †And seyde, ‘sir, hit am I’; and cam him neer,240
- †And salued him. Quod he, ‘what dostow heer
- In my presence, and that so boldely?
- †For it were worthy, trewely,
- A werm to in my than thou.’
- †‘And why, sir,’ quod I, ‘and hit lyke yow?’245
- †‘For thou,’ quod he, ‘art ther-to nothing able.
- * servaunts alle wyse and honourable.
- Thou art mortal fo, and me warreyest,
- †And of myne olde servaunts thou ,
- †And hinderest hem with thy translacioun,250
- And folk to han devocioun
- †To me, and hit folye
- To troste on me. Thou mayst hit nat denye;
- For in pleyn , hit nedeth nat to glose,
- †Thou hast translated the Romauns of the Rose,255
- †That is an heresye ageyns my lawe,
- †And makest wyse folk fro me withdrawe.
- *And thinkest in wit, that is ful
- *That he nis but a verray propre
- *That , to harde and hote.260
- *Wel wot I ther-by thou beginnest dote
- *As olde , whan hir ;
- *Than blame they folk, and nat what hem .
- *Hast thou nat mad in eek the
- How that Crisseyde Troilus ,
- In shewinge how that wemen han don mis?
- * natheles, answere me now to this,
- *Why thou as wel han seyd
- *Of wemen, as thou hast seyd ?
- *Was ther no good in minde,270
- *Ne in alle thou nat finde
- *Sum story of wemen that were goode and trewe?
- *Yis! god wot, sixty olde and newe
- *Hast thou , alle fulle of grete,
- *That bothe and trete275
- *Of wemen, lyf that they ,
- *And an ageyn badde.
- *This god, and alle ,
- *That for to .
- *What seith Valerie, Titus, or Claudian?280
- *What seith Ierome ageyns Iovinian?
- *How clene , and how trewe ,
- *How ,
- * Jerome; and that nat of a fewe,
- *But, I dar seyn, an on a rewe;285
- *That hit is for to rede, and routhe,
- *The wo that they for trouthe.
- For to hir love were they so trewe,
- *That, than they take a newe,
- *They to be in wyse,290
- *And , as the story devyse;
- *And some were brend, and some were cut the hals,
- *And some , for nat be fals.
- *For alle ,
- *Or , or hir widwehed.295
- *And this thing was nat kept for holinesse,
- *But al for verray vertu and clennesse,
- *And for men shulde sette on hem no lak;
- *And yit they , al the pak,
- *That were so sore adrad of alle shame.300
- *These olde wemen kepte so hir name,
- *That in this world I men nat finde
- *A man that coude be so and kinde,
- *As was the leste woman in that tyde.
- *What seith also the of Ovyde305
- *Of trewe , and of hir labour?
- *What Vincent, in his Mirour?
- *Eek al world of maystow here,
- * and , trete of swich matere;
- *It nat alday thus for .310
- *But yit I , what to wryte
- *The draf of , and the corn?
- seint Venus, of whom that I was born,
- thou lay,
- As othere olde many a day,
- Thou shalt repente hit, hit shal be sene!’
- spak Alceste, the quene,
- †And seyde, ‘god, right of your curtesye,
- †Ye moten herknen if he can replye
- Ageyns these that ye han to him ;320
- †A god ne sholde nat be thus agreved,
- †But of his he shal be stable,
- And therto rightful and merciable.
- *He shal nat rightfully his yre wreke
- *Or he have herd the party speke.325
- *Al ne is nat gospel that is to yow pleyned;
- *The god of love a tale .
From A. 338, 339.
This man to yow may wrongly been accused,
- †Ther as by right him oghte been excused;
- †For in your court is many a ,
- †And many a queynte accusour,
- That in eres a thing330
- For hate, or for Ielous imagining,
- And for to han with yow daliaunce.
- Envye (I to god yeve hir mischaunce!)
- Is lavender in the grete court alway.
- † she ne , neither ne day,335
- †Out of the hous of Cesar; thus seith Dante;
- Who-so that goth, alwey she moot wante.
- This man to yow may wrongly ,
- † as by right him .
- Or elles, , for that this man is nyce,340
- He may translate a thing in no malyce,
- But for he for to make,
- And non of what matere he take;
- *Therfor he wroot the Rose and Crisseyde
- *Of innocence, and niste what he seyde;345
- †Or him was boden make thilke tweye
- †Of som persone, and durste hit nat with-seye;
- *For he hath a book er this.
- †He ne hath nat doon so grevously amis
- †To translaten that olde clerkes wryten,350
- †As thogh that he of malice wolde endyten
- Despyt of love, and hadde him-self y-wroght.
- †This shulde a rightwys lord han in his thoght,
- †And nat be lyk tiraunts of Lumbardye,
- That wilfulhed and tirannye,355
- †For he that king or lord is naturel,
- †Him nat be tiraunt ne cruel,
- †As is a fermour, to the harm he can.
- †He thinke hit is his lige man,
- *And that him duetee,360
- * his peple pleyn
- *And wel to excusaciouns,
- *And and peticiouns,
- *In duewe tyme, whan they shal hit profre.
- †This is the sentence of the philosophre:
- †A king to kepe his liges in Iustyce;
- † doute, that is his offyce.
- *And therto is a king ful depe y-sworn,
- *Ful an -biforn;
- And for to kepe his hir degree,370
- †As hit is right and skilful that they be
- † honoured, and most dere—
- †For they ben half- in this world here—
- This shal he , bothe to pore [ ] riche,
- Al be that here stat be nat a-liche,375
- †And han of pore folk compassioun.
- †For lo, the gentil kind of the lioun!
- †For whan a flye offendeth him or byteth,
- †He with his tayl awey the flye smyteth
- †Al esily; for, of his genterye,380
- †Him deyneth nat to wreke him on a flye,
- †As doth a curre or elles another beste.
- †In noble corage oghte been areste,
- †And weyen every thing by equitee,
- †And ever han reward to his owen degree.385
- †For, sir, hit is no maystrie for a lord
- To dampne a man with-oute answere or word;
- †And, for a lord, that is foul to use.
- †And if so be he may him nat ,
- axeth mercy with a sorweful herte,390
- †And profreth him, right in his bare sherte,
- †To been right at your owne Iugement,
- †Than oghte a god, by short avysement,
- †Considre his owne honour and his trespas.
- †For sith no cause of deeth lyth in this cas,395
- †Yow oghte been the lighter merciable;
- †Leteth yre, and beth somwhat tretable!
- †The man hath served yow of his conning,
- And forthered lawe with his making.
- *Whyl he was yong, he kepte estat;400
- *I not he be now a .
- But wel I wot, with that he can endyte,
- He hath delyte
- †To serve you, in preysing of your name.
- †He made the book that hight the Hous of Fame,405
- †And eek the Deeth of Blaunche the Duchesse,
- †And the Parlement of Foules, as I gesse,
- †And al the love of Palamon and Arcyte
- †Of Thebes, thogh the story is knowen lyte;
- †And many an ympne for your halydayes,410
- †That highten Balades, Roundels, Virelayes;
- And for to speke of besinesse,
- †He hath in prose Boëce;
- *And of the of Mankinde,
- *As man may in pope Innocent y-finde;415
- †And mad the Lyf also of seynt Cecyle;
- †He made also, goon sithen a greet whyl,
- †Origenes upon the Maudeleyne;
- †Him oghte now to have the lesse peyne;
- †He hath mad many a lay and many a thing.420
- †‘Now as ye been a god, and eek a king,
- †I, your Alceste, whylom quene of Trace,
- †I axe yow this man, right of your grace,
- †That ye him never hurte in al his lyve;
- †And he shal sweren yow, and that as blyve,425
- †He shal no more agilten in this wyse;
- †But he shal maken, as ye wil devyse,
- †Of wemen trewe in lovinge al hir lyve,
- †Wher-so ye wil, of maiden or of wyve,
- †And forthren yow, as muche as he misseyde430
- †Or in the Rose or elles in Crisseyde.’
- †The god of love answerde hir thus anoon,
- †‘Madame,’ quod he, ‘hit is so long agoon
- †That I yow knew so charitable and trewe,
- †That never yit, sith that the world was newe,435
- †To me ne fond than ye.
- That, if that I save degree,
- †I may ne nat warne your requeste;
- Al lyth in yow, doth with him what yow leste
- †And al foryeve, with-outen lenger space;440
- †For who-so yeveth a yift, or doth a grace,
- †Do hit by tyme, his thank is wel the more;
- †And demeth ye what he shal do therfore.
- †Go thanke now my lady heer,’ quod he.
- †I roos, and doun I sette me on my knee,445
- †And seyde thus: ‘Madame, the god above
- †Foryelde yow, that ye the god of love
- †Han maked me his wrathe to foryive;
- †And yeve me grace so long for to live,
- †That I may knowe soothly what ye be450
- That han me holpen, and put in swich degree.
- †But trewely I wende, as in this cas,
- †Naught have agilt, ne doon to love trespas.
- †Forwhy a trewe man, with-outen drede,
- †Hath nat to parten with a theves dede;455
- †Ne a trewe lover me nat blame,
- †Thogh that I speke a fals lover som shame.
- †They oghte rather with me for to holde,
- †For that I of Creseyde wroot or tolde,
- †Or of the Rose; what-so myn auctour mente,460
- †Algate, god wot, hit was myn entente
- †To forthren trouthe in love and hit cheryce;
- †And to be war fro falsnesse and fro vyce
- †By swich ensample; this was my meninge.’
- †And she answerde, ‘lat be thyn arguinge;465
- †For Love ne wol nat countrepleted be
- In right ne wrong; and lerne this at me!
- †Thou hast thy grace, and hold thee right ther-to.
- †Now wol I seyn what penance thou shalt do
- †For thy trespas, and understond hit here:470
- †Thou shalt, whyl that thou livest, yeer by yere,
- The moste party of thy lyve spende
- †In making of a glorious Legende
- †Of Gode Wemen, maidenes and wyves,
- †That were trewe in lovinge al hir lyves;475
- †And telle of false men that hem bitrayen,
- †That al hir lyf ne doon nat but assayen
- †How many wemen they may doon a shame;
- For in your world that is now holden game.
- And thogh thee lesteth nat a lover be,480
- †Spek wel of love; this penance yeve I thee.
- †And to the god of love I shal so preye,
- †That he shal charge his servants, by any weye,
- †To forthren thee, and wel thy labour quyte;
- Go now thy wey, thy penance is but lyte.’
- †The god of love gan smyle, and than he seyde,
- †‘Wostow,’ quod he, ‘wher this be wyf or mayde,
- †Or quene, or countesse, or of what degree,
- †That hath so litel penance yeven thee,
- †That hast deserved sorer for to smerte?490
- †But pitee renneth sone in gentil herte;
- †That mayst thou seen, she kytheth what she is.’
- †And I answerde, ‘nay, sir, so have I blis,
- †No more but that I see wel she is good.’
- †‘That is a trewe tale, by myn hood,’495
- †Quod Love, ‘and that thou knowest wel, pardee,
- †If hit be so that thou avyse thee.
- †Hastow nat in a book, lyth in thy cheste,
- †The grete goodnesse of the quene Alceste,
- †That turned was into a dayesye:500
- †She that for hir husbonde chees to dye,
- †And eek to goon to helle, rather than he,
- †And Ercules rescued hir, pardee,
- †And broghte hir out of helle agayn to blis?’
- †And I answerde ageyn, and seyde, ‘yis,505
- †Now knowe I hir! And is this good Alceste,
- †The dayesye, and myn owne ?
- †Now fele I wel the goodnesse of this wyf,
- †That bothe after hir deeth, and in hir lyf,
- †Hir grete bountee doubleth hir renoun!510
- †Wel hath she quit me myn affeccioun
- †That I have to hir flour, the dayesye!
- †No wonder is thogh Iove hir stellifye,
- †As telleth Agaton, for hir goodnesse!
- †Hir whyte coroun berth of hit witnesse;515
- †For also many vertues hadde she,
- †As smale floures in hir coroun be.
- † remembraunce of hir and in honour,
- †Cibella made the dayesy and the flour
- †Y-coroned al with whyt, as men may see;520
- †And Mars yaf to hir coroun reed, pardee,
- †In stede of rubies, set among the whyte.’
- †Therwith this quene wex reed for shame a lyte,
- †Whan she was preysed so in hir presence.
- †Than seyde Love, ‘a ful gret negligence525
- Was hit to thee, to write
- *Of women, goodnesse
- *By , and by -biforn;
- *Let be the chaf, and wryt wel of the corn.
- *Why thou han of Alceste,530
- *And Criseide a-slepe and reste?
- *For of Alceste shulde be,
- Sin that thou that is she
- Of goodnesse, for she taughte of fyn lovinge,
- †And namely of wyfhood the livinge,535
- †And alle the boundes that she oghte kepe;
- †Thy litel wit was thilke tyme a-slepe.
- †But now I charge thee, upon thy lyf,
- †That in thy Legend thou make of this wyf,
- Whan thou hast othere smale mad before;540
- †And fare now wel, I charge thee no more.
- †At Cleopatre I wol that thou beginne;
- †And so forth; and my love so shalt thou winne.’
- And with that word of I gan a-awake,
- †And right thus on gan I make.545
The prologe of .ix. goode Wimmen.
- A thousand tymes men telle,
- † ther is Ioye in heven, and peyne in helle;
- And I acorde wel that hit is so;
- But natheles, yit wot I wel also,
- That ther noon dwelling in this contree,5
- That either hath in heven or y-be,
- †Ne may of hit non other weyes witen,
- †But as he hath herd , or founde hit writen;
- †For by assay ther may no man hit preve.[ ]
- But god forbede but men shulde leve10
- †Wel more thing then men han seen with yë!
- †Men shal nat wenen every-thing a lyë
- But-if hit seeth, or elles ;[ ]
- For, god wot, thing is never the lasse ,
- †Thogh every wight ne may hit nat y-see.15
- †Bernard the ne saugh nat , parde![ ]
- †Than mote we to bokes that we finde,
- †Through which that olde thinges in minde ,
- †And to the doctrine of these olde wyse,
- † credence, in every skilful wyse,20
- That tellen of these olde appreved stories,
- †Of holinesse, of regnes, of victories,
- †Of love, of hate, of other thinges,
- †Of whiche I may not maken rehersinges.
- †And if that olde bokes were 25[ ]
- † were of remembraunce the [ ]
- Wel us honouren and beleve
- These bokes, we han other preve.[ ]
- And as for me, that I but lyte,[ ]
- †On bokes for to rede I me delyte,30
- And to hem I feyth and ful credence,
- †And in myn herte have hem in reverence
- So , that ther is game noon
- That fro my bokes maketh me to goon,
- But hit be seldom, on the holyday;35
- Save, certeynly, whan that the of May[ ]
- Is comen, and that I here the foules singe,
- †And that the floures ginnen for to springe,
- my and my devocioun!
- Now have I condicioun ,40
- †That, of the floures in the mede,[ ]
- † love I most these floures whyte and rede,
- † as men callen daysies in toun.
- †To hem have I so affeccioun,
- †As I seyde erst, comen is the May,45
- †That in my bed ther daweth me no day
- †That I nam up, and walking in the mede
- To seen this the sonne ,
- Whan hit erly by the morwe ;
- *That blisful softneth al my sorwe,[ ]50
- *So glad am I whan that I have presence
- *Of hit , to doon reverence,
- As she, that is of floures flour,[ ]
- Fulfilled of al and honour,
- †And ever y-lyke , and of hewe;55
- And I love hit , and ever y-lyke newe,
- *And ever shal, til that myn dye;[ ]
- *Al swere I nat, of this I wol nat lye,
- *Ther loved no wight hotter in his lyve.
- *And whan that hit is eve, I renne blyve,60
- As sone as the sonne ginneth weste ,
- To seen this flour, how it wol go to reste,
- For fere of night, so hateth she derknesse!
From B. 53-56.
As she, that is of alle floures flour,
- Fulfilled of al vertu and honour,
- †And ever y-lyke fair, and fresh of hewe;
- And I love hit, and ever y-lyke newe.
- * chere is pleynly sprad in the brightnesse
- *Of the sonne, for ther hit wol unclose.[ ]65
- *Allas! that I ne had , ryme or prose,
- Suffisant this flour to preyse aright![ ]
- *But helpeth, ye that han [ ]
- *Ye lovers, that can make of ;
- *In this ye be diligent70
- *To forthren me somwhat in my labour,
- * ye ben with the leef or with the flour.[ ]
- For wel I wot, that ye han
- †Of ropen , and lad awey the ;
- †And I come after, glening here and there,75
- †And am ful glad if I may finde an ere
- Of any goodly word that ye han left.
- And thogh it happen me rehercen eft
- That ye han in your songes ,
- For-bereth me, and beth nat ,[ ]80
- Sin that ye see I do hit in the honour
- Of love, and in service of the flour,
From B. 188-196.
But natheles, ne wene nat that I make
- In preysing of the flour agayn the leef,
- †No more than of the corn agayn the sheef.
- For as to me, nis lever noon ne lother;
- I nam with-holden yit with never nother.
- Ne I not who serveth leef, ne who the flour;
- Wel brouken they hir service or labour.
- For this thing is al of another tonne,
- Of olde story, er swich thing was begonne.
- *Whom that I serve as I have or might.
- *She is the and the verray light,
- *That in this derke worlde me wynt and ,85
- *The in-with my brest yow ,
- *And loveth so sore, that ye ben verrayly
- *The maistresse of my , and .[ ]
- *My , my , is knit so in your ,
- *That , as an harpe obeyeth to the 90
- *And maketh hit soune after his fingeringe,
- *Right so mowe ye of myn bringe
- *Swich vois, right as yow list , to laughe or .
- *Be ye my gyde and lady ;
- *As to myn god, to yow I calle,95
- *Bothe in this werke and sorwes alle.
- †But that I , to give credence[ ]
- To olde stories, and doon hem reverence,
- And that men mosten more thing beleve
- Then may seen at or elles preve?100
- *That shal I seyn, that I see my tyme;
- *I may not speke in ryme.
- *My besy gost , that alwey newe
- *To seen this flour so yong, so of hewe,
- *Constreyned me with so desyr,[ ]105
- *That in my herte I ,
- *That made me to ryse er hit wer day—
- And was now the firste morwe of May—[ ]
- *With dredful and glad devocioun,
- *For to ben at the resureccioun110
- *Of this flour, whan it shuld unclose
- * the sonne, that roos as as rose,[ ]
- *That in the brest was of the beste that day,
- *That Agenores ladde away.
- *And doun on I me sette,115
- *And, as I , this flour I grette;
- *Kneling alwey, til hit unclosed was,
- *Upon the softe swote gras,[ ]
From B. 180, 182.
The longe day I shoop me for to abyde . . .
- But for to loke upon the dayesye.
From B. 197-200.
Whan that the sonne out of the south gan weste,
- And that this flour gan close and goon to reste
- For derknesse of the night, the which she dredde,
- †Hoom to myn hous ful swiftly I me spedde;
From B. 203-210.
†And, in a litel herber that I have,
- That benched was on turves fresshe y-grave,
- †I bad men sholde me my couche make;
- †For deyntee of the newe someres sake,
- †I bad hem strawen floures on my bed.
- †Whan I was leyd, and had my eyen hed,
- I fel on slepe in-with an houre or two;
- Me mette how I lay in the medew tho,
From B. 211.
To seen this flour, that I so love and drede,
- That was with floures swote enbrouded al,
- *Of swich and swich odour over-al,120
- That, for to speke of gomme, or herbe, or tree,
- †Comparisoun may noon y-maked be;
- For hit surmounteth pleynly alle odoures,
- †And of riche floures.
- †Forgeten had the erthe his pore [ ]125
- †Of , that him naked made and ,[ ]
- And with his swerd of so sore greved;
- Now hath sonne that releved[ ]
- That naked was, and clad hit new agayn.
- †The smale foules, of the seson fayn,[ ]130
- †That the panter and the ben scaped,
- †Upon the , that hem made a-whaped
- †In winter, and distroyed hir ,
- †In his , hem thoughte hit did hem
- †To singe of him, and in hir despyse135
- †The foule that, for his covetyse,
- †Had hem betrayed with his sophistrye.
- †This was song—‘the we defye,
- And al his !’ And somme songen clere
- Layes of love, that Ioye hit was to here,140
- In worshipinge and of hir make.
- And, for the newe blisful somers sake,
- *Upon the braunches ful of blosmes softe,
- *In delyt, they turned hem ful ofte,
- And songen, ‘blessed be seynt Valentyn![ ]145
- For on his day I yow to be myn,[ ]
- †Withouten repenting, myn swete!’
- †And therwith bekes gonnen mete,
- Yelding honour and humble obeisaunces
- To love, and diden observaunces150
- That longeth love and to nature;
- *Construeth that as yow list, I do no cure.
- *And that hadde doon —
- *As the tydif , for new-fangelnesse—
- *Besoghte mercy of hir trespassinge,155
- *And hir repentinge,
- *And sworen on the blosmes to be trewe,
- *So that makes wolde upon hem rewe,[ ]
- *And at the laste maden acord.
- *Al founde they Daunger for a tyme a lord,160
- *Yet Pitee, his stronge gentil might,
- *Forgaf, and Mercy passen Right,
- * innocence and ruled curtesye.[ ]
- *But I ne innocence folye,
- *Ne fals pitee, for ‘ is the mene,’165
- *As saith, in swich maner I mene.[ ]
- *And thus thise , voide of al malyce,
- *Acordeden to love, and laften vyce
- *Of hate, and alle of oon ,
- *‘Welcome, somer, governour and !’[ ]170
- *And and Flora gentilly[ ]
- *Yaf to the floures, softe and tenderly,
- * breth, and made hem for to sprede,
- *As god and goddesse of the floury mede;
- *In me I , day by day,175
- * alwey, the Ioly of May,
- *Withouten , withouten mete or drinke.
- * ful softely I gan to sinke;
- *And, leninge on myn elbowe and my syde,
- The longe day I me for to 180
- *For nothing , and I shal nat lye,
- But for to loke upon the ,
- *That by reson hit calle may
- *The ‘ ’ or elles the ‘ye of day,’[ ]
- *The emperice and of alle.185
- *I pray to god that faire she falle,
- *And alle that loven floures, for hir sake!
- But natheles, ne wene nat that I make
- In preysing of the flour agayn the leef,
- †No more than of the agayn the sheef:190
- For, as to me, nis lever noon ne lother;
- I nam with-holden yit with never .
- Ne I not who serveth leef, ne who the flour;
- Wel they service or labour;
- For this thing is al of another tonne,195
- Of olde , er was be-gonne.[ ]
- Whan that the sonne out of the south gan ,
- And that this gan close and goon to
- For derknesse of the night, the which she ,
- †Hoom to myn hous ful swiftly I me 200
- *To goon reste, and erly for ryse,
- To seen this flour to sprede, as I devyse.
- †And, in a litel herber that I have,
- That benched was on turves fresshe y-grave,
- †I bad men sholde me my couche make;205
- †For deyntee of the newe someres sake,
- †I bad hem strawen floures on my bed.
- †Whan I was , and had myn eyen hed ,
- I fel on slepe in-with an houre or ;
- Me mette how I lay in the tho,210
- To seen this flour that I and drede.
- And from a-fer walking in the mede
- The god of love , and in his hande a ;
- And she was clad in real grene.
- †A fret of gold she next hir heer,215
- †And upon that a she beer
- With smale , and I shal nat lye;
- For al the , ryght as a
- †Y-corouned is with whyte leves lyte,
- So were the florouns of hir whyte;220
- For of o perle fyne, oriental ,
- † whyte was y-maked al;
- †For which the whyte coroun, above the grene,
- †Made a daysie for to sene,
- Considered hir fret of above.225
- †Y-clothed was this mighty god of love
- In silke, enbrouded ful of grene greves,[ ]
- In-with a fret of rede rose-leves,
- *The fresshest sin the was first bigonne.
- *His was corouned with a sonne,230
- * of , for hevinesse and wighte;
- Therwith me his face shoon so
- That wel unnethes I him beholde;
- And in his hande me I saugh him holde
- † fyry dartes, as the gledes rede;235
- And aungellyke his winges saugh I sprede.
- †And al be that men seyn that blind is he,
- Al-gate me that he see;
- †For sternely on me he gan biholde,
- †So that his loking myn herte colde.240
- †And by the hande he this noble quene,
- † with whyte, and clothed al in grene,[ ]
- †So womanly, so benigne, and so meke,
- †That in this world, thogh that men ,
- †In creature that formed is by kinde.
From B. 276-281.
That is so good, so fair, so debonaire;
- I prey to god that ever falle hir faire!
- †For, nadde comfort been of hir presence,
- †I had ben deed, withouten any defence,
- †For drede of Loves wordes and his chere;280
- †As, when tyme is, her-after ye shal here.
From B 282-295
Behind god of love, upon grene,
- †I saugh cominge of ladyës nyntene
- †In real habit, a ful esy paas;
- †And after hem com of women swich a traas,285
- That, sin that god Adam mad of erthe
- The part of the ferthe,
- †Ne wende I nat by possibilitee,
- Had ever in this wyde worlde y-be;
- †And trewe of love, thise women were echoon.290
- †Now whether was that a wonder thing or noon,
- †That, right anoon as that they gonne espye
- †This flour, which that I clepe the dayesye,
- †Ful sodeinly they stinten alle at ones,
- And kneled doun, as it were for the nones,295
- *And may I seyn, as thinketh me,247
- *This , in preysing of this lady fre.
- † ;[ ]
- †Ester , ley thou thy al ;250
- †Hyd, Ionathas , al thy frendly manere;
- † , and Marcia Catoun,
- † of wyfhod no comparisoun;
- †Hyde ye beautes, Isoude and Eleyne,
- My lady , that al this may disteyne .255
- †Thy faire body, lat hit nat appere,
- †Lavyne ; and thou, Lucresse of Rome ,
- †And Polixene , that boghten love so dere,
- And Cleopatre , with al thy passioun,
- Hyde ye your trouthe of love and your renoun;260
- And thou, , that hast love swich peyne;[ ]
- My lady cometh, that al this may disteyne.
- , Dido, , alle y-fere,[ ]
- And Phyllis , hanging for thy Demophoun,
- †And Canace , espyed by thy chere,265
- Ysiphile , with Jasoun,
- Maketh of your trouthe neyther boost ne ;
- Nor Ypermistre or Adriane, ye tweyne;
- My lady cometh, that al this may disteyne.
- This balade may ful wel y-songen be,270[ ]
- *As I have erst, by my lady free;
- *For certeynly, alle these nat suffyse
- *To apperen with my lady in no wyse.
- *For as the sonne the disteyne,
- *So passeth al my lady sovereyne,275
- That is so good, so , so debonaire;
- I prey to god that ever falle hir faire![ ]
- †For, nadde comfort been of hir presence,
- †I ben , withouten any defence,
- †For drede of Loves wordes and his chere;280
- †As, when tyme is, her-after ye shal here.
- this god of love, upon the grene,
- †I saugh of ladyës
- †In real , a ful esy paas;
- †And after hem of swich a traas,285
- That, sin that god Adam of erthe,
- The thridde part of mankynd, or the ferthe,
- †Ne wende I nat by possibilitee,
- Had ever in this wyde worlde y-be;
- †And trewe of love thise women were .290
- †Now was that a wonder thing or ,
- †That, right anoon as that they gonne espye
- †This flour, which that I clepe the ,
- †Ful sodeinly they alle ,
- And , as it were for the nones ,295
- *And songen with o vois, ‘ and honour
- * trouthe of womanhede, and to this flour
- *That our alder prys in figuringe![ ]
- * whyte the witnessinge!’
- And with that word, a-compas enviroun ,300
- †They setten hem ful adoun.
- First sat the god of love, and sith his quene
- †With the whyte , clad in grene;
- †And sithen al the by and by ,
- As they were of estaat, ful curteisly;305
- †Ne nat a was spoken in the place
- †The mountance of a furlong-wey of space.
- I kneling by this , in good entente
- † , to knowen what this peple mente,
- †As stille as any ; til at the ,310
- This god of love on me caste,
- And seyde, ‘who kneleth ’? and I answerde
- Unto his asking, whan that I hit herde,
- †And seyde, ‘sir, hit am I ’; and him ,
- †And him. Quod he, ‘what dostow 315
- So nigh myn , so boldely?
- † it were better worthy, trewely,
- A to neghen my flour than thou.’[ ]
- †‘And why, ,’ quod I, ‘and hit lyke yow?’
- †‘For thou,’ quod he, ‘art ther-to nothing able.320
- *Hit is my , digne and delytable,
- And thou my , and al my werreyest,
- †And of myn olde thou misseyest,[ ]
- †And hem, with thy translacioun,
- And lettest from hir devocioun325
- †To serve , and holdest hit folye
- Love. Thou mayst hit nat denye;
- For in text, with-outen nede of glose,
- †Thou hast the Romaunce of the Rose,[ ]
- †That is an heresye my lawe,330
- †And makest wyse fro me withdrawe.
- And of thou hast as liste,[ ]
- That maketh men to wommen lasse triste,
- That ben as trewe as ever was any steel.334
- *Of thyn answere avyse right weel;335
- For, thogh thou reneyed hast my lay,
- As other wrecches han doon many a day,
- By seynt Venus, that my moder is,[ ]
- If that thou live, thou shalt repenten this
- So cruelly, that hit shal be sene!’340
- this lady, clothed al in grene,
- †And seyde, ‘god, right of curtesye,
- †Ye moten if he can replye[ ]
- Agayns al this that ye han to him meved;
- †A god ne sholde nat be thus agreved,345
- †But of his deitee he shal be stable,
- And therto gracious and merciable.
- *And if ye nere a god, that knowen ,[ ]
- * hit be, as I yow tellen ;
- This to you may falsly been accused,350
- † as by right him excused.
- †For in is many a losengeour,[ ]
- †And many a accusour,[ ]
- That tabouren in eres many a ,
- Right after hir imaginacioun,355
- To have daliance, and for envye;
- * been the causes, and I shall nat lye.[ ]
- Envye is of the court alway;[ ]
- †For she ne parteth, neither night ne day,
- †Out of the of Cesar; thus seith Dante;360
- Who-so that goth, algate she wol nat wante.[ ]
From B. 350, 351.
This man to yow may falsly been accused,
- †Ther as by right him oghte been excused.
- And , for this man is nyce,
- He doon hit, gessing no malyce,
- for he useth thinges for to make;[ ]
- Him rekketh noght of what matere he take;365
- †Or him was boden maken thilke tweye
- †Of persone, and durste hit nat with-seye;
- *Or him repenteth of this.
- †He ne hath nat doon so grevously amis
- †To translaten that olde clerkes wryten,370
- †thogh that he of malice wolde endyten
- of love, and had him-self hit wroght.
- †This a rightwys lord have in his thoght,
- †And nat be of Lumbardye,[ ]
- Than han no reward but at tirannye.375
- †For he that or is naturel,
- †Him nat be tiraunt ne
- †As is a fermour , to doon the he can.
- †He moste thinke hit is his man,
- *And is his tresour, and his gold in cofre.380
- †This is the sentence of the philosophre:[ ]
- †A king to kepe his in Iustyce;
- †With-outen doute, that is his offyce.
- Al wol he kepe lordes hir degree,
- †As hit is right and skilful that they be385
- †Enhaunced and honoured, and most dere—
- †For they ben half - in this world here—
- Yit he doon right, to and riche,
- Al be that be nat y-liche,
- †And han of folk compassioun.390
- †For , the gentil of the ![ ]
- †For whan a flye him or byteth,
- †He with his awey the smyteth
- †Al ; for, of his ,
- †Him deyneth nat to wreke him on a flye,395
- †As a curre or elles another .
- †In noble corage ,[ ]
- †And weyen every thing by equitee,
- †And ever han reward his owen degree.
- †For, sir, hit is no maystrie for a lord400
- To dampne a man with-oute answere word;
- †And, for a lord, that is foul to use.
- †And so be he may him nat excuse,
- asketh mercy with a dredful herte,
- †And him, right in his bare sherte,405[ ]
- †To been right at your Iugement,
- †Than a god, by short avysement,
- †Considre his owne honour and his trespas.
- †For sith no cause of in this ,
- †Yow oghte the lighter merciable;410
- †Leteth your yre, and beth somwhat tretable!
- †The man hath served yow of his ,
- And wel lawe in his making.
- ‘Al be hit that he can nat wel endyte,
- Yet hath he lewed folk delyte415[ ]
- †To serve you, in preysing of your name.
- †He made the book that hight the Hous of Fame,[ ]
- †And eek the Deeth of Blaunche the Duchesse,
- †And the Parlement of Foules, as I gesse,
- †And al the love of Palamon and Arcyte420
- †Of Thebes, thogh the story is knowen lyte;[ ]
- †And many an ympne for your halydayes,
- †That highten Balades , Roundels, Virelayes;
- And, for to speke of other holynesse ,
- †He hath in Boëce,425[ ]
- †And the also of seynt Cecyle ;
- †He made also, goon a whyl,
- †Origenes upon the Maudeleyne;[ ]
- †Him now to have the lesse peyne;
- †He hath many a lay and many a .430
- †‘Now as ye a god, and eek a king,
- †I, your Alceste , whylom quene of Trace,
- †I aske yow this man, right of your grace,
- †That ye him never hurte in al his ;
- †And he shal yow, and that blyve,435
- †He shal more agilten in this wyse;
- †But shal maken, as ye wil devyse,
- †Of wommen trewe in lovinge al hir ,
- †Wher-so ye , of maiden or of ,
- †And forthren yow, as muche as he misseyde440
- †Or in the Rose or elles in Creseyde.’
- †The god of love hir anoon,
- †‘Madame,’ quod he, ‘hit is so long agoon
- †That I you so charitable and trewe,
- †That never yit, that the was newe,445
- †To me ne I better noon than ye.
- If that save my degree,
- †I may ne wol nat werne your requeste;
- Al in yow, doth with him as yow .
- †I al foryeve, with-outen lenger space;450
- †For who-so a yift, or a grace,
- †Do hit by tyme, his thank is wel the more;[ ]
- †And demeth ye what he shal do therfore.
- †Go thanke now my lady ,’ quod he.
- †I roos, and I sette me on my knee,455
- †And seyde thus: ‘Madame, the god above
- †Foryelde yow, that the god of love
- †Han maked me his wrathe to foryive;
- †And grace so long for to live,
- †That I may knowe soothly what ye be460
- That han me and in this degree.
- †But I wende, as in this cas,
- †Naught have agilt, ne doon to love trespas.
- †Forwhy a trewe man, with-outen drede,
- †Hath nat to parten with a theves dede;465[ ]
- †Ne a trewe lover me nat ,
- †Thogh that I a fals lover som shame.
- †They oghte rather with me for to holde,
- †For that I of Creseyde wroot or tolde,
- †Or of the Rose; what-so myn auctour mente,470
- †Algate, god wot, hit was myn entente
- †To forthren trouthe in love and hit cheryce;
- †And to war fro falsnesse and fro vyce
- †By swich ensample; this was my meninge.’
- †And she answerde, ‘lat be thyn arguinge;475[ ]
- †For Love ne wol nat countrepleted be
- In right ne wrong; and lerne me!
- †Thou hast thy grace, and right ther-to.
- †Now wol I seyn what penance thou shalt do
- †For thy trespas, understond hit here:480
- †Thou shalt, that thou livest, ,
- †The of thy spende
- †In making of a glorious Legende
- †Of , maidenes and wyves,
- †That weren in al hir lyves;485
- †And telle of men that hem bitrayen,
- †That al hir lyf ne doon nat but assayen
- †How many may doon a shame;
- For in that is now holde a game.
- †And thogh lyke nat a ,490
- † wel of love; this penance yive I thee.
- †And to the god of love I shal so preye,
- †That he shal charge his , by any weye,
- †To forthren thee, and wel thy labour quyte;
- now wey, penance is but lyte.495
- *And whan this book is , yive hit the quene[ ]
- *On my behalfe, at Eltham, or at .’
- †The god of love gan smyle, and than he seyde,
- †‘Wostow,’ quod he, ‘wher this be wyf or mayde,[ ]
- †Or quene, or countesse, or of what degree,500
- †That hath so litel penance yiven thee,
- †That hast deserved for to ?
- †But pitee in gentil herte;[ ]
- †That maystow seen, she kytheth what she is.’
- †And I , ‘nay, , so have I blis,505
- † but that I see wel she is good.’
- †‘That is a trewe tale, by myn hood,’
- †Quod Love, ‘and thou knowest wel, pardee,
- †If hit be so that thou avyse thee.
- †Hastow nat in a book, lyth in thy cheste,510[ ]
- †The goodnesse of the quene Alceste,
- †That turned was into a :
- †She that for hir husbonde chees to dye,
- †And to goon to helle, rather than he,
- †And Ercules rescowed hir, pardee,515[ ]
- †And broghte hir out of helle to blis?’
- †And I answerde ageyn, and seyde, ‘yis,
- †Now knowe I ! And is this good Alceste,
- †The , and myn hertes reste?
- †Now fele I the goodnesse of this wyf,520
- †That , and hir lyf,
- †Hir grete bountee doubleth hir renoun!
- †Wel hath she quit me myn affeccioun
- †That I have to hir flour, the !
- †No wonder is thogh Iove hir stellifye,525
- †As telleth Agaton , for !
- †Hir whyte of hit witnesse;
- †For also many vertues she,
- †As smale in hir be.
- †In remembraunce of hir and in ,530
- † the and the [ ]
- † al with , as men may see;
- †And Mars yaf to hir , pardee,[ ]
- †In stede of rubies, among the whyte.’
- †Therwith this quene wex reed for shame a lyte,535
- †Whan she was preysed so in hir presence.
- † seyde Love, ‘a ful
- Was to thee, that ilke tyme thou made
- *“Hyd, Absolon, thy tresses,” in balade ,
- *That thou hir in thy to sette,540
- *Sin that thou art so gretly in hir dette,
- And wost wel, that kalender is
- *To any woman that wol lover .
- For she al the of fyn lovinge,
- †And namely of the ,545
- †And alle the boundes that she kepe;
- †Thy litel was thilke tyme a-slepe.
- †But now I charge , upon thy ,
- †That in thy thou make of this ,[ ]
- Whan thou hast other smale before;550
- †And fare now wel, I charge thee .
- *‘But er I , thus muche I wol telle,
- *Ne shal no trewe lover come in helle.
- *Thise other ladies sittinge here arowe
- *Ben in balade , if thou canst hem knowe,555
- *And in thy alle thou shalt hem finde;
- *Have in thy alle in minde,
- *I mene of hem that in thy .
- *For ben twenty
- *[Back to Table of Contents]
THE LEGEND OF CLEOPATRA.
Incipit Legenda Cleopatrie, Martiris, Egipti regine.
N.B.—Readings not marked with any letter are from F. (Fairfax MS.)
- After the of Tholomee the king,580
- That al Egipte hadde in his governing,[ ]
- Regned his Cleopataras;
- Til on a tyme befel ther a cas,
- That out of Rome was sent a senatour,
- For to conqueren regnes and honour585
- Unto the of Rome, as was usaunce,
- To have the her obeisaunce;
- And, sooth to seye, Antonius was his name.
- So fil hit, as Fortune him a shame(10)
- Whan he was fallen in prosperitee,590
- Rebel unto the of Rome is he.[ ]
- And over al this, the suster of Cesar,[ ]
- He lafte hir falsly, er that she was war,
- And algates han another wyf;
- For he took with Rome and Cesar stryf.595
- Natheles, for-sooth, this ilke senatour
- Was a worthy gentil werreyour,[ ]
- And of deeth hit was ful damage.
- But love had broght this man in a rage,(20)
- And him so narwe bounden in his ,600
- for the love of Cleopataras,
- That al the he sette at value.
- Him thoughte,
- As for to love and serve;
- Him roghte nat in armes for to sterve605
- In the defence of hir, and of hir right.
- This noble quene so this knight,
- his , and for his chivalrye;
- As certeinly, but-if that lye,(30)
- He was, of persone and of gentilesse,610
- And of discrecioun hardinesse,
- Worthy to any wight that may.
- And she was as is the rose in May.
- And, to maken shortly is the beste,
- She his wyf, and hadde him as hir leste.615
- The wedding and the to devyse,
- To me, that have y-take empryse
- Of so many a storie for to make,
- Hit were to that I sholde slake(40)
- Of thing that bereth more effect and charge;620
- For men may overlade a or barge;
- And forthy to than wol I skippe,
- And al the , I wol lete hit slippe.
- Octovian , that was of this dede,
- Shoop him an on Antony to lede625
- Al-outerly for his destruccioun,
- With stoute as ;
- To they wente, and thus I let hem saile.
- Antonius was war, and wol nat faile(50)
- To meten with thise , if he may;630
- Took his , and , upon a day,
- His wyf and he, and al his
- To shippe anoon, no lenger they ne ;
- And in the see hit happed hem to mete—[ ]
- Up the trompe—and for to shoute and shete,635
- And peynen hem to sette on with the sonne.
- With grisly out the grete gonne,[ ]
- And they al ,[ ]
- And fro the top cometh the grete stones.(60)
- In the grapenel so ful of crokes640
- the ropes, and the shering-hokes.
- In with the polax he and he;[ ]
- the he to flee,
- And out agayn, and dryveth him over-borde;
- He stingeth him upon his speres orde;645
- He rent the with hokes lyke a sythe;
- He bringeth the cuppe, and biddeth be blythe;
- He poureth pesen upon the hacches ;
- With pottes ful of lym they ;[ ](70)
- And thus the longe day in fight they spende650
- Til, at the , as every thing hath ende,
- Antony is shent, and put him to the ,
- And al his , that best .[ ]
- Fleeth the queen, with al her purpre ,
- For strokes, which that as as ;655[ ]
- No wonder was, she hit nat endure.
- And whan that Antony that aventure,
- ‘Allas!’ quod he, ‘the day that I was !
- My in this day thus have I !’(80)
- And for out of his witte he sterte,660
- And roof him-self anoon the herte
- Er that he ferther out of the place.[ ]
- His wyf, that coude of Cesar have no grace,
- To Egipte is fled, for drede and for distresse;
- But , ye that of kindenesse.665
- Ye men, that falsly sweren many an
- That ye wol dye, if that your love be ,
- Heer may ye seen of women a trouthe!
- This woful hath swich routhe(90)
- That ther nis tonge noon that may hit telle.670
- But on the she wol no lenger dwelle,
- But made hir subtil make a shryne
- Of alle the and the stones fyne
- In al Egipte that she coude espye;
- And ful the shryne of spycerye,675
- And the embaume; and forth she fette
- This dede , and in the shryne hit shette.
- And next the shryne a than she grave;[ ]
- And the serpents that she have,[ ](100)
- She hem in that grave, and thus she :680
- ‘Now love, to whom my sorweful herte obeyde[ ]
- So that, fro that blisful houre
- That I yow swor to al frely youre,
- I mene yow, Antonius my knight!
- That never waking, in the day or night,685
- Ye nere out of myn hertes remembraunce
- For wele or , for carole or for daunce;
- And in my-self this made I ,
- That, right swich as ye felten, or wo,(110)
- As ferforth as hit in my lay,690
- Unreprovable unto my wyfhood ay,
- The same wolde I felen, or deeth.[ ]
- And thilke me lasteth breeth,
- I wol fulfille, and that shal wel be ;[ ]
- Was never unto hir love a trewer quene.’695
- And with that , naked , with ful good herte,
- Among the serpents in the pit she sterte,
- And ther she chees to han hir buryinge.
- Anoon the neddres gonne hir for to stinge,(120)
- And she hir deeth , with good chere,700
- For love of Antony, that was hir so dere:—
- And this is storial sooth , hit is no fable.
- Now, er I finde a man thus trewe and stable,
- And for love his deeth so freely take,
- I pray god lat hedes ake!705
Explicit Legenda Cleopatrie, martiris.
[Back to Table of Contents]
THE LEGEND OF THISBE OF BABYLON.
Incipit Legenda Tesbe Babilonie, Martiris.
- At Babiloine whylom fil it thus,
- The whiche the Semiramus
- Leet dichen al about, and walles make
- Ful hye, of harde tyles wel y-bake.
- Ther weren dwellinge in this noble 710
- Two lordes, which that were of renoun,
- And woneden so , upon a grene,
- That ther nas but a stoon-wal hem bitwene,
- As ofte in tounes is the wone.
- And sooth to seyn, that o man a sone,715
- Of al that londe oon the lustieste.(11)
- That other a , the faireste,
- That in the was tho dwellinge.[ ]
- The name of gan to other springe
- By wommen, that were neighebores aboute.720
- For in that contree yit, withouten doute,
- Maidens y-kept, for Ielosye,[ ]
- Ful streite, lest they diden folye.
- This man was cleped Piramus,
- hight the , Naso seith thus;725
- And thus by was hir name y-shove[ ](21)
- That, as they in age, wex hir love;[ ]
- And certein, as by reson of hir age,
- Ther mighte have been hem mariage,
- But that hir fadres hit nat assente;730[ ]
- And in love y-lyke sore they brente,
- That noon of alle hir frendes mighte hit lette
- But somtyme yit they mette
- By , and of hir desyr;
- As, the , and hotter is the ;735[ ]
- Forbede a love, and it is ten so .(31)
- This wal, which that hem bothe ,
- Was cloven , right fro the toppe .
- Of olde tyme of his fundacioun;
- But yit this was so narwe and lyte,740
- It as nat y-nogh a myte.[ ]
- But what is that, that love can nat espye?[ ]
- Ye lovers , if that I shal nat lye,
- Ye founden first this litel narwe clifte;
- And, with a as softe as any shrifte,[ ]745
- They hir wordes through the clifte pace,(41)
- And tolden, that they stode in the place,
- Al hir compleynt of love, and al hir ,
- At every tyme whan they dorste .
- Upon o syde of stood he,750
- And on that other syde stood ,
- The of other to receyve,
- And thus hir wardeins wolde they deceyve.
- And every day this they wolde ,
- And wisshe to god, that it were 755
- Thus wolde they seyn—‘allas! thou wikked ,[ ](51)
- thyn envye thou us lettest !
- Why cleve, or fallen al a-two?
- Or, at the , but thou woldest so,
- Yit woldestow but ones us ,760
- Or that we kissen ,
- Than were we covered of cares colde.
- But natheles, yit be we to holde
- In as muche as thou suffrest for to goon
- wordes through thy lyme and eek thy stoon.765
- Yit we with thee ben wel .’(61)
- And whan thise ydel wordes weren ,
- The colde they wolden of stoon,
- And take hir leve, and they wolden goon.
- this was gladly in the 770
- Or wonder erly, lest men hit ;
- And longe tyme they in this manere
- Til on a day, whan Phebus gan to clere,[ ]
- Aurora with the stremes of hir hete
- Had dryed up the of herbes wete;775
- Unto this clifte, as it was wont to be,(71)
- Pyramus, and after com ,
- And plighten trouthe fully in hir
- That ilke same night to ,
- And to begyle hir wardeins ,780
- And forth out of the citee for to ;
- And, for the been so and wyde,
- For to in o place at o tyde,
- They sette mark hir meting sholde be[ ]
- Ther king Ninus was graven, under a tree;785
- For olde payens that [ ](81)
- Useden in to ben beried
- And by this grave was a welle.
- And, shortly of this tale for to telle,
- This was affermed wonder faste;790
- And longe hem thoughte that the sonne laste,
- That hit nere under the see adoun.
- This Tisbe so affeccioun
- And so Piramus to see,
- That, whan she seigh her tyme be,795
- At night she awey ful (91)
- With her face y-wimpled subtiny;
- For alle her frendes—for to save her trouthe—[ ]
- She hath for-sake; allas! and that is routhe
- That ever woman wolde be so trewe800
- To trusten man, but she the bet him knewe!
- And to the tree she a ful ,
- For love made her so hardy in this ;[ ]
- And by the welle she gan her dresse .
- Allas! than a wilde leonesse805
- Out of the , withouten more areste,(101)
- With blody mouthe, of of a beste,
- To drinken of the welle, ther as she sat;
- And, whan that Tisbe had espyed that,
- She rist her up, with a ful drery herte,810
- And in a cave with dredful foot she sterte,
- For by the she hit wel with-alle.
- And, as she , her wimpel leet she falle,[ ]
- And noon , so she was a-whaped.[ ]
- And so glad of that she was escaped;815
- And thus she , and darketh wonder stille.(111)
- Whan that this hath dronke her fille,
- Aboute the welle gan she for to winde,
- And right anoon the wimpel gan she finde,
- And with her blody mouth hit al to-rente.820
- Whan this was , no lenger she ne stente,
- But to the her wey than hath she nome.
- And, at the laste, this Piramus is come,[ ]
- But al to longe, allas! at was he.
- The , men mighte y-see,825
- And in his , as that he com ful faste,(121)
- His eyen to the grounde he caste,
- And in the sonde, as he ,
- He seigh the steppes of a ,
- And in his herte he sodeinly agroos ,830
- And pale he wex, therwith his heer aroos,
- And he , and the wimpel .
- ‘Allas!’ quod he, ‘the day that I was !
- This o night wol us lovers slee![ ]
- How sholde I axen mercy of Tisbe[ ]835
- Whan I am he that have yow , allas!(131)
- My bidding hath yow slain, in this cas.
- Allas! to bidde woman goon by nighte
- In place ther as peril fallen mighte,
- And I so ! allas, I ne hadde be840
- Here in this place a furlong-wey or !
- Now what leoun that be in this foreste,
- My body mote he , or what beste
- That wilde is, gnawen mote he now myn herte!’
- And with that worde he to the wimpel sterte,845
- And kiste hit ofte, and on hit ful sore,(141)
- And seide, ‘wimpel, allas! ther nis no more[ ]
- But thou shalt as wel the of me
- As thou hast felt the of !’
- And with that worde he smoot him to the herte.850
- The blood out of the wounde as brode sterte[ ]
- As water, whan the broken is.
- Now Tisbe, which that ,[ ]
- But sitting in her drede, she thus,
- ‘If so falle that my Piramus855
- Be comen hider, and may me nat ,(151)
- He may me holden fals and unkinde.’
- And out she , and after him gan espyen
- Bothe with her and with her yën,[ ]
- And thoghte, ‘I wol him tellen of my drede860
- of the and al my dede.’
- And at the laste her love than hath she founde[ ]
- with his on the grounde,
- Al blody, and therwith-al a-bak she sterte,
- And lyke the wawes quappe gan her herte,865
- And pale as she wex, and in a throwe(161)
- Avysed her, and gan him wel to knowe,
- That hit was Piramus, her dere.
- Who coude wryte whiche a chere[ ]
- Hath now, and how her she rente,870
- And how she gan her-selve to turmente,
- And how she lyth and swowneth on the grounde,
- And how she of teres ful his wounde,
- How medeleth she his blood with her compleynte,
- And with his blood her-selven gan she peynte;875
- How clippeth she the dede , allas?(171)
- How this woful in this cas!
- How kisseth she his frosty so cold!
- ‘Who hath doon this, and who hath been so
- To sleen my ? O , my Piramus!880
- I am thy , that thee calleth thus!’
- And therwith-al she lifteth up his heed.
- This woful man, that was nat fully deed,
- Whan that he the name of cryen,
- On her he caste his hevy yën885
- And again, and yeldeth up the .(181)
- Tisbe rist up, withouten noise or ,[ ]
- And her wimpel and his empty shethe,
- And eek his , that him hath doon to dethe;
- Than she thus: ‘ woful ,’ quod she,890
- ‘Is strong y-nogh in swiche a to me;
- For love shal yive strengthe and hardinesse
- To make my wounde large y-nogh, I gesse.
- I wol thee , and I wol be[ ]
- Felawe and cause of thy deeth,’ quod she.895
- ‘And thogh that nothing save the deeth only(191)
- Mighte thee fro me departe ,
- Thou no more now fro me
- Than fro the , for I wol with thee!
- ‘And now, ye wrecched fadres oure,900
- We, that weren children youre,
- We prayen yow, withouten more envye,
- That in o grave we moten lye,
- Sin love hath us to this ende!
- And rightwis god to every lover sende,[ ]905
- That loveth trewely, prosperitee(201)
- Than ever Piramus and Tisbe!
- And lat no woman her assure
- To her in swiche an aventure.
- But god forbede but a woman can910
- as trewe and loving as a man!
- And, for my , I shal anoon it kythe!’
- And, with that worde; his she took as swythe,[ ]
- That was of her loves blood and ,
- And to the herte she her-selven .915
- And thus Tisbe and Piramus .[ ](211)
- Of trewe men I finde but fewe
- In alle my , save this Piramus,
- And have I spoken of him thus.
- For hit is deyntee to us men to finde920
- A man that can in love be trewe and kinde.
- Heer may ye seen, what lover so he be,
- A woman dar and can as wel as he.
Explicit legenda Tesbe.
[Back to Table of Contents]
THE LEGEND OF DIDO, QUEEN OF CARTHAGE.
N.B. From this point onward obvious corrections in the spelling of MS. F.are unnoticed.
Incipit Legenda Didonis martiris, Cartaginis regine.
- Glory and honour, Virgil Mantuan ,
- Be to thy name! and I shal, as I can,925
- Folow thy lantern, as thou gost biforn,[ ]
- How Eneas to Dido was forsworn.
- In thyn Eneïd and [ ]
- The tenour, and the grete effectes make.
- Whan Troye broght was to destruccioun930
- By Grekes sleighte, and namely by Sinoun,[ ]
- Feyning the hors Minerve,
- Through which that many a Troyan moste sterve;(10)
- And Ector had, after his deeth, appered,[ ]
- And fyr so wood, it mighte nat be stered,[ ]935
- In al the noble tour of Ilioun ,
- That of the citee was the cheef dungeoun;
- And al the contree was so lowe y-broght,
- And Priamus the king fordoon and noght;[ ]
- And Eneas was charged by Venus[ ]940
- To fleen awey, he took Ascanius,
- That was his sone, in his right hand, and fledde;[ ]
- And on his bakke he bar and with him ledde(20)
- His olde fader, cleped Anchises,
- And by the weye his wyf Creusa he lees .945
- And mochel sorwe hadde he in his minde
- Er that he coude his felawshippe finde.
- But, at the laste, whan he had hem founde,
- He made him redy in a certein stounde ,
- And to the see faste he gan him hye,950
- And saileth forth with al his companye
- Toward Itaile, as wolde destinee.
- But of his aventures in the see(30)[ ]
- Nis nat to purpos for to speke of here,
- For hit acordeth nat to my matere.955
- But, as I seide, of him and of Dido
- Shal be my tale, til that I have do.
- So longe he sailed in the salte see
- Til in Libye unnethe aryved he,
- With shippes seven with no more navye;960[ ]
- glad was he to londe for to hye,
- So was he with the tempest al to-shake .
- And whan that he the haven had y-take,(40)
- He had a knight, was Achates;[ ]
- And him of al his felawshippe he chees965
- To goon with him, the contre for ;
- He took with him no more companye.
- But forth they goon, and lafte his shippes ryde,
- His fere and he, with-outen any gyde.
- So longe he walketh in this wildernesse970
- Til, at the laste, he mette an hunteresse .
- A bowe in honde and arwes hadde she,
- Her clothes were unto the knee;[ ](50)
- But she was yit the fairest creature
- That ever was y-formed by nature;975
- And Eneas and Achates she grette,
- And thus she to hem spak, whan she hem mette.
- ‘Sawe ye,’ quod she, ‘as ye han walked wyde,[ ]
- of my sustren walke yow besyde,
- With any wilde boor or other beste980
- That they han hunted to, in this foreste,
- Y-tukked up , with arwes in her cas?’
- ‘Nay, soothly, lady,’ quod this Eneas;[ ](60)
- ‘But, by thy beaute, as hit thinketh me,
- Thou mightest never erthely womman be,985
- But Phebus suster artow, as I gesse.[ ]
- And, if so be that thou be a goddesse,
- Have mercy on our labour and our wo.’
- ‘I nam no goddes, soothly,’ quod she tho;
- ‘For maidens walken in this contree here,990
- With arwes and with bowe, in this manere.
- This is the regne of Libie, ther ye been,
- Of which that Dido lady is and queen’—(70)
- And shortly tolde al the occasioun[ ]
- Why Dido com into that regioun,995
- Of which as now me lusteth nat to ryme;
- Hit nedeth nat ; hit but los of tyme.
- For this is al and som , it was Venus,
- His owne moder, that spak with him thus;
- And to Cartage she bad he sholde him dighte,1000
- And vanished anoon out of his sighte.
- I coude folwe, word word, Virgyle,
- But it wolde lasten al to longe whyle.(80)
- This noble queen, that cleped was Dido,
- That whylom was the wyf of Sitheo ,1005
- That fairer was then the brighte sonne,
- This noble toun of Cartage hath begonne;
- In which she regneth in so greet honour,
- That she was holde of alle quenes flour,
- Of gentilesse, of freedom , of beautee;1010
- That wel was him that mighte her ones see;
- Of kinges and of lordes so desyred,
- That al the world her beaute hadde y-fyred;(90)
- She stood so wel in every wightes grace.
- Whan Eneas was come un-to that place,1015
- Unto the maister-temple of al the toun
- Ther Dido was in her devocioun,
- Ful prively his wey hath he nome.
- Whan he was in the temple come,
- I can nat seyn if that hit be possible,1020
- But Venus hadde him maked invisible—
- Thus seith the book, with-outen any lees.[ ]
- And whan this Eneas and Achates(100)
- Hadden in temple been over-al,[ ]
- Than founde they, depeynted on a wal,[ ]1025
- How Troye and al the lond destroyed was.
- ‘Allas! that I was born,’ quod Eneas,
- ‘Through-out the world our shame is kid wyde,[ ]
- Now it is peynted upon every syde!
- We, that weren in prosperitee,1030
- Be now disslaundred, and in swich degre,
- No lenger for to liven I ne kepe !’
- And, with that worde, he brast out for to wepe(110)
- So tendrely, that routhe hit was to sene.
- This fresshe lady, of the citee quene,[ ]1035
- Stood in the temple, in her estat royal,
- So richely, and eek so fair with-al,
- So yong, so lusty, with her eyen glade,
- That, if that god, that heven and erthe made,
- Wolde han a love, for beaute and goodnesse,1040
- And womanhod, and trouthe, and seemlinesse,
- Whom sholde he loven but this lady swete?
- There nis no womman to him half so mete.(120)
- Fortune, that hath the world in governaunce,[ ]
- Hath sodeinly broght in so newe a chaunce,1045
- That never so fremd a cas.
- For al the companye of Eneas,[ ]
- Which that wende han loren in the see,
- Aryved is, nat fer fro that citee;
- For which , the grettest of his lordes some1050
- By aventure ben to the citee come,
- Unto that same temple, for to seke
- The quene, and of her socour her beseke;(130)
- Swich renoun was ther spronge of her goodnesse.
- And, whan they hadden told al hir distresse,1055
- And al hir tempest and hir harde cas,
- Unto the quene appered Eneas,
- And openly beknew that hit was he.
- Who hadde Ioye than but his meynee ,
- That hadden founde hir lord, hir governour?1060
- The quene saw they dide him swich honour,[ ]
- And had herd ofte of Eneas, er tho,
- And in her herte routhe and wo(140)
- That ever swich a noble man as he
- Shal been disherited in swich degree;1065
- And saw the man, was lyk a knight,
- And suffisaunt of persone and of might,
- And lyk to been a veray gentil man;
- And wel his wordes he besette can,
- And had a noble visage for the nones,1070
- And formed wel of braunes and of bones.
- For, after Venus, hadde swich fairnesse,
- That no man might be half so fair, I gesse.(150)
- And wel a lord semed for to be.
- And, for he was a straunger, somwhat she[ ]1075
- Lyked him the bet, as, god do bote,[ ]
- To som folk ofte newe thing is swote.[ ]
- Anoon her herte hath pitee of his wo,
- , with pitee, love com also;
- And thus, for pitee and for gentilesse,1080
- Refresshed he been of his distresse.
- She seide, certes, that she sory was
- That he hath had swich peril and swich cas;(160)
- And, in her frendly speche, in this manere
- She to him spak, and seide .1085
- ‘Be ye nat Venus sone and Anchises?[ ]
- In good feith, al the worship and encrees
- That I may goodly doon yow, ye shul have.
- Your shippes and your meynee shal I save;’
- And many a gentil word she spak him to;1090
- And comaunded her go[ ]
- The same day, with-outen any faile,
- His shippes for to seke, and hem vitaile.(170)
- She many a to the shippes sente,
- And with the wyn she gan hem to presente;1095
- And to her royal paleys she her spedde,
- And Eneas alwey with her she ledde.
- What nedeth yow the feste to descryve?
- He never beter at ese was his lyve .
- Ful was the feste of deyntees and richesse,1100
- Of instruments, of song, and of gladnesse,
- And many an amorous loking and devys.
- This Eneas is come to Paradys[ ](180)
- Out of the swolow of helle, and thus in Ioye[ ]
- Remembreth him of his estat in Troye.1105
- To dauncing-chambres ful of parements ,
- Of riche beddes, and of ,[ ]
- This Eneas is lad, after the mete.
- And with the quene whan that he had sete,[ ]
- And spyces parted, and the wyn agoon,[ ]1110
- Unto his chambres was he lad anoon
- and for to have his reste,
- With al his folk, to doon what so hem leste.(190)
- Ther nas coursere wel y-brydled noon,
- Ne stede, for the wel to goon,1115
- Ne large palfrey, esy for the nones,
- Ne Iuwel, ful of riche stones,[ ]
- Ne sakkes ful of gold, of large wighte,
- Ne ruby noon, that by nighte,[ ]
- Ne gentil hautein faucon heronere,[ ]1120
- Ne hound, for hert or wilde boor or dere,
- Ne coupe of gold, with florins newe y-bete ,
- That in the lond of Libie may be gete,(200)
- That Dido ne hath hit Eneas y-sent;
- And al is payed, what that he hath spent.1125
- Thus can this quene her gestes calle,
- As she that can in freedom passen alle.
- Eneas sothly eek, with-outen lees,[ ]
- Hath sent his shippe, by Achates,
- After his sone, and after riche thinges,1130
- Both ceptre, clothes, broches, and eek ringes,
- Som for to were, and som for to presente
- To her, that all thise noble thinges him sente;(210)
- And bad his sone, how that he sholde make
- The presenting, and to the quene hit take .1135
- Repaired is this Achates again,[ ]
- And Eneas ful blisful is and fain
- To seen his yonge sone Ascanius.
- But natheles, our autour telleth ,
- That Cupido, that is the god of love,1140
- At preyere of his moder, hye above,
- Hadde the lyknes of the child y-take,
- This quene enamoured to make(220)
- On Eneas; but, of that scripture,
- Be as be may, I make of hit no cure.[ ]1145
- But sooth is this, the quene hath mad swich chere
- Un-to this child, that wonder is to here;
- And of the present that his fader sente
- She thanked him ofte, in good entente.
- Thus is this quene in plesaunce and in Ioye,1150[ ]
- With al this newe lusty folk of Troye.
- And of the dedes hath she more enquered
- Of Eneas, and al the story lered(230)
- Of Troye; and al the longe day they tweye
- Entendeden to speken and pleye;[ ]1155
- Of which ther gan to breden swich a fyr,[ ]
- That sely Dido hath now swich desyr
- With Eneas, her newe gest, to dele,
- That she lost her hewe, and eek her hele.
- Now to theffect, now to the of al,1160
- Why I have told this story, and tellen shal.[ ]
- Thus I beginne; hit fil, upon a night,
- When that the mone had light,[ ](240)
- This noble quene un-to her reste wente;
- She syketh sore, and gan her-self turmente.1165
- She waketh, walweth, maketh many a brayd ,
- As doon thise loveres, as I have herd sayd.
- And at the laste, unto her suster Anne
- She made her , and right thus spak she thanne.
- ‘Now, dere suster myn, what may hit be[ ]1170
- That me agasteth in my ?’ quod she.
- ‘This ilke Troyan is so in my thoght,
- For that me is so wel y-wroght,(250)
- And eek so lykly to be a man,[ ]
- And so mikel good he can,1175
- That al my love and lyf lyth in his cure.
- Have ye not herd him telle his aventure?
- Now certes, Anne, if that ye ,
- I fain to him y-wedded be;
- This is theffect; what sholde I more seye?1180
- In him lyth al, to do me live or deye.’
- Her suster Anne, as she that coude her good,
- Seide as her thoughte, and somdel hit with-stood.(260)
- But her-of was so long a sermoning,
- Hit were to long to make rehersing;1185
- But fynally, hit may not been with-stonde;
- Love wol love—for no wight wol hit wonde.[ ]
- The dawening up-rist out of the see;[ ]
- This amorous quene chargeth her meynee
- The nettes dresse, and speres brode and kene;1190
- An hunting wol this lusty fresshe quene;
- So priketh her this newe Ioly wo.[ ]
- To hors is al her lusty folk y-go;(270)
- Un-to the court the houndes been y-broght,
- And up-on , swift as any thoght,1195
- Her yonge knightes al aboute,[ ]
- And of her wommen eek an huge route.
- Up-on a thikke palfrey, paper-whyt,[ ]
- With sadel rede, enbrouded with delyt,
- Of gold the barres up-enbossed ,[ ]1200
- Sit Dido, al in gold and perre ;
- And she is fair, as is the morwe,
- That heleth seke of nightes sorwe.(280)
- Up-on a courser, startling as the fyr,
- Men mighte turne him with a litel wyr ,1205
- Sit Eneas, lyk Phebus to devyse;
- So was he fresshe arayed in his wyse.
- The fomy brydel with the bit of gold
- Governeth he, right as him-self hath wold .
- And forth this quene lat I ryde1210
- hunting, with this Troyan by her syde.
- The herd of hertes founden is anoon,[ ]
- With ‘hey! go bet! prik thou! lat goon, lat goon![ ](290)
- Why nil the leoun comen or the bere,
- That I mighte with this spere?’1215
- Thus seyn thise yonge folk, and up they kille
- These hertes , and han hem at hir wille.
- Among al this to-romblen gan the heven,
- The thunder rored with a grisly steven;
- Doun com the rain, with hail and sleet so faste,1220
- With hevenes fyr, that hit so sore
- This quene, and also her meynee,
- That ech of hem was glad a-wey to flee.(300)
- And shortly, fro the tempest her to save,
- She fledde her-self into a litel cave,1225
- And with her wente this Eneas al-so;
- I noot, with hem if ther wente any mo;
- The autour maketh of hit no mencioun.
- And heer began the depe affeccioun
- Betwix hem two; this was the firste morwe[ ]1230
- Of her gladnesse, and ginning of her sorwe.
- For ther hath Eneas y-kneled so,[ ]
- And told her al his herte, and al his wo,(310)
- And sworn so depe, to her to be trewe,
- For wele or wo, and chaunge for no newe,1235
- And as a fals lover so wel can pleyne,
- That sely Dido rewed on his peyne,
- And took him for husband, [ ] his wyf
- For , whyl that hem laste lyf.
- And after this, whan that the tempest stente,1240
- With mirth out as they comen, hoom they wente.
- The , and that anon,[ ]
- How Eneas hath with the quene y-gon(320)
- In-to the cave; and demed as hem liste;
- And whan the king, that Yarbas hight, hit wiste,1245
- As he that had her loved ever his lyf,
- And wowed her, to have to his wyf,
- Swich sorwe as he hath maked, and swich chere,
- Hit is a routhe and pitee for to here.
- But, as in love, al-day hit happeth so,1250
- That oon shal laughen anothers wo;
- Now laugheth Eneas, and is in Ioye
- And more richesse than ever was in Troye.(330)
- O sely womman, ful of innocence,[ ]
- Ful of pitee, of trouthe, conscience,1255
- What maked yow to men to trusten so?
- Have ye swich routhe upon hir feined wo,
- And han swich yow beforn?
- See ye nat alle, they been for-sworn?
- Wher see ye oon, that he ne hath laft his leef,1260
- Or been unkinde, or doon her som mischeef,
- Or pilled her, or bosted of his dede?
- Ye may as wel hit seen, as ye may rede;(340)
- Tak heed now of this grete gentil-man,
- This Troyan, that so wel her plesen can,1265
- That feineth him so trewe and obeising,
- So gentil and so of his doing,
- And can so wel doon alle his ,
- at festes and at daunces,
- And when she goth to temple and hoom ageyn,1270
- And fasten til he hath his lady seyn,
- And bere in his devyses, for her sake,
- I nat what; and songes wolde he make,(350)
- Iusten, and doon of armes many thinges,
- Sende her lettres, tokens, broches, —1275
- Now herkneth, how he shal his lady serve!
- Ther-as he was in peril for to sterve
- For hunger, and for mischeef in the see,
- And desolat, and fled from his contree,
- And al his folk with tempest al to-driven,1280
- She hath her body and eek her yiven
- In-to his hond, ther-as she mighte have been
- Of other lond than of Cartage a queen,(360)
- And lived in Ioye y-nogh; what wolde ye more?
- This Eneas, that hath depe y-swore,1285
- Is wery of his craft with-in a throwe;
- The hote ernest is al over-blowe.[ ]
- And prively he doth his shippes dighte,[ ]
- And shapeth him to stele a-wey by nighte.
- This Dido hath suspecioun of this,1290
- And thoughte wel, that hit was al a-mis;
- For in his bedde he lyth a-night and syketh;
- She asketh him anoon, what him mislyketh—(370)
- ‘My dere herte, which that I love most?’
- ‘Certes,’ quod he, ‘this night my fadres gost[ ]1295
- Hath in my sleep tormented,
- And eek Mercurie his message hath presented,
- That nedes the conquest of Itaile
- My destinee is sone for to saile;
- For which, me thinketh, brosten is myn herte!’1300
- Ther-with his false teres out they sterte;
- And taketh her with-in his armes two.
- ‘Is that in ernest,’ quod she; ‘wil ye so?(380)
- Have ye nat sworn to wyve me to take,
- Alas! what womman wil ye of me make?1305
- I am a gentil-woman and a queen,
- Ye wil nat fro your wyf thus foule fleen?
- That I was born! allas! what shal I do?’
- To telle in short, this noble queen Dido,
- She seketh halwes , and doth sacrifyse;1310
- She kneleth, cryeth, that routhe is to devyse;
- Coniureth him, and profreth him to be[ ]
- His thral, his servant in the leste ;(390)
- She falleth him , and swowneth there
- Dischevele, with her brighte gilte here,1315
- And seith, ‘have mercy! let me with yow ryde![ ]
- Thise lordes , which that wonen me besyde
- Wil me destroyen only for your sake.
- And, ye wil me now to wyve take,
- As ye han sworn, than wol I yive yow leve1320
- To sleen me with your swerd now sone at eve!
- For than dyen as your wyf.
- I am with childe, and my child his lyf.(400)
- Mercy, lord! pite in your thought!’[ ]
- But al this thing availeth her right noght;1325
- For on a night, slepinge, he let her lye,
- And stal a-wey his companye,
- And, as a traitour, forth he gan to saile
- Toward the large contree of Itaile.
- hath he laft Dido in wo and pyne;1330
- And wedded ther a lady hight Lavyne .
- A cloth he , and eek his swerd stonding,
- Whan he fro Dido stal in sleping,(410)
- Right at her beddes heed, so gan he hye
- Whan that he stal a-wey to his navye;1335
- Which cloth, whan sely Dido gan awake,
- She hath kist ful ofte for his sake;
- And seide, ‘ cloth, whyl Iupiter hit leste,[ ]
- Tak now my soule, unbind !
- I have fulfild of fortune al the cours.’1340
- And thus, allas! with-outen his socours,
- Twenty tyme y-swowned hath she thanne.
- And, whan that she un-to her suster Anne(420)
- Compleyned had, of which I may nat wryte—
- So greet a routhe I have hit for —1345
- And bad her norice and her goon
- To fecchen fyr and other anoon,
- And seide, that she wolde, sacrifye.
- And, whan she mighte her tyme wel espye,
- Up-on the fyr of sacrifys she sterte,1350
- And with his swerd she her to the herte.[ ]
- But, as myn autour seith, thus she seyde;[ ]
- Or she was hurt, she deyde,(430)
- She wroot a lettre anoon, that thus began:—[ ]
- ‘Right so,’ quod she, ‘as the whyte swan1355[ ]
- his deeth beginneth for to singe,
- Right so to yow I my compleyninge.
- Nat that I trowe to geten yow again,
- For wel I woot it is al in vain,
- Sin that the goddes been to me.1360
- But sin my name is lost through yow,’ quod she,
- ‘I may wel lese a word on yow, or letter,
- Al-be-it I shal be never the better;(440)
- For thilke wind that blew your ship a-wey,
- The same wind hath blowe a-wey your fey.’—1365
- But wol al this letter have in minde,
- Rede Ovide, and in him he shal hit finde.
Explicit Legenda Didonis martiris, Cartaginis regine.
[Back to Table of Contents]
THE LEGEND OF HYPSIPYLE AND MEDEA.
Incipit Legenda Ysiphile et Medee, Martirum.
The Legend of Hypsipyle.
- Thou rote of false lovers, duk Iasoun![ ]
- Thou sly devourer and confusioun
- Of gentil-wommen, creatures,1370
- Thou madest thy reclaiming and thy lures
- To ladies of thy statly apparaunce,
- And of thy wordes, with plesaunce,
- And of thy feyned trouthe and thy manere,
- With thyn obeisaunce and humble chere,1375
- And with thy counterfeted peyne and wo.
- Ther other falsen oon, thou falsest two![ ](10)
- O! ofte swore thou that thou woldest dye
- For love, whan thou ne feltest maladye
- Save foul delyt, which that thou callest love!1380
- If that I live, thy name shal be shove
- In English, that thy sleighte shal be knowe!
- Have at thee , Iasoun! now thyn horn is blowe!
- But certes, hit is bothe routhe and wo
- That love with false loveres werketh so;1385
- For they shul have wel better chere
- Than he that hath his love ful dere,[ ](20)
- Or had in armes many a blody box .
- For ever as tendre a capoun the fox,[ ]
- Thogh he be fals and hath the foul betrayed,1390
- As shal the good-man that ther-for payed.[ ]
- to the capoun skille and right,
- The false fox wol have his part at night.
- On Iasoun this ensample is wel y-sene[ ]
- By Isiphile and Medea the quene.1395
- In Tessalye, telleth us,[ ]
- Ther was a that highte Pelleus,[ ](30)
- That had a brother, which that highte Eson ;
- And, whan for age he mighte unnethes gon,
- He yaf to Pelleus the governing1400
- Of al his regne, and made him lord and king.
- Of which Eson this Iasoun geten was,
- That, in his tyme, in al that lond, ther nas
- Nat swich a famous knight of gentilesse,
- , and .1405
- After his fader deeth, he bar him so
- That ther nas noon that liste been his fo,(40)
- But dide him al honour and companye;
- Of which this Pelleus hath greet envye,
- Imagining that Iasoun mighte be1410
- Enhaunsed so, and put in swich degree
- With love of lordes of his regioun,
- That from his regne he may be put adoun.
- And in his wit, a-night, compassed he
- How Iasoun mighte best destroyed be1415
- Withoute slaunder of his compasment.
- And at the laste he took avisement(50)
- To him in-to som fer contree
- Ther as this Iasoun may destroyed be.
- This was his wit; al made he to Iasoun[ ]1420
- Gret chere of love and of affeccioun,
- For drede lest his lordes hit espyde.
- So fil hit so, as fame renneth wyde,
- Ther was swich tyding over-al and swich los,
- That in an yle that called was Colcos ,1425
- Beyonde Troye, estward in the see,
- That was a ram, that men mighte see,(60)
- That had a flees of gold, that shoon so brighte,
- That no-wher was ther swich an-other sighte;
- But hit was kept alway with a dragoun,1430
- And many othere merveils, up and doun,
- And with two boles, maked al of bras,
- That spitten fyr, and thing ther was.
- But this was eek the tale, nathelees,
- That who-so wolde winne thilke flees,1435
- He moste bothe, or he hit winne mighte,
- With the boles and the dragoun fighte;(70)
- And king lord was of that yle.[ ]
- This Pelleus bethoghte upon this wyle;
- That he his nevew Iasoun wolde enhorte1440
- To sailen to that lond, him to disporte,
- And seide, ‘Nevew, if hit mighte be
- That swich worship mighte fallen thee,
- That thou this famous tresor winne,
- And hit my regioun with-inne,1445
- Hit were to me gret plesaunce and honour;
- Than were I holde to quyte thy labour.[ ](80)
- And al the I wol my-selven make;
- And what folk that thou wilt with thee take;
- Lat see now, darstow taken this viage?’1450
- Iasoun was yong, and lusty of corage,
- And under-took to doon this empryse.
- Anoon Argus his shippes gan devyse;
- With Iasoun wente the stronge Ercules,
- And many an-other that he with him chees.1455
- But who-so axeth who is with him gon,
- Lat him go Argonauticon,[ ](90)
- For he wol telle a tale long y-now.
- Philotetes anoon the sail up-drow,
- Whan the wind was good, and gan him hye1460
- Out of his contree called Tessalye.
- So long he sailed in the salte see
- Til in the aryved he—[ ]
- Al be this nat rehersed of Guido,
- Yet seith Ovyde in his Epistles so—1465
- And of this yle lady was and quene
- The faire yonge Isiphilee , the shene,(100)
- That whylom Thoas doghter was, the king .
- Isiphilee was goon in her playing;[ ]
- And, roming on the clyves by the see,1470
- Under a anoon espyed she
- Wher that the gan aryve.
- Of her goodnesse adoun she sendeth blyve
- To witen yif that any straunge wight
- With tempest thider were y-blowe a-night,1475
- To doon socour ; as was her usaunce
- To forthren every wight, and doon plesaunce(110)
- Of veray bountee and of curtesye.
- This messagere adoun him gan to hye,[ ]
- And fond Iasoun, and Ercules also,1480
- That in a to londe were y-go[ ]
- Hem to refresshen and to take the eyr.
- The morwening was and fair;
- And in his wey the messagere hem mette.
- Ful cunningly thise lordes two he grette,1485
- And dide his message, hem anoon
- Yif they were broken , or wo begoon,(120)
- Or hadde nede of lodesmen or vitaile;
- For socour they shulde no-thing faile,
- For hit was utterly the quenes wille.1490
- Iasoun answerde, mekely and stille,
- ‘My lady,’ quod he, ‘thanke I hertely
- Of hir goodnesse; us nedeth, trewely,
- No-thing as now, but that we wery be,
- And come for to pleye, out of the see,1495
- Til that the wind be better in our weye.’
- This lady rometh by the clif to pleye,(130)
- With her meynee, the stronde,
- And fynt this Iasoun and stonde,
- In spekinge of this thing, as I yow tolde.1500
- This Ercules and Iasoun gan beholde
- How that the quene hit was, and faire her grette
- Anon-right as they with this lady mette;
- And she took heed, and knew, by hir manere,
- By hir aray, by wordes and by chere,1505
- That were gentil-men, of greet degree.
- And to the castel with her ledeth she(140)
- Thise straunge folk, and doth hem greet honour,
- And axeth hem of travail and labour[ ]
- That they han suffred in the salte see;1510
- So that, within a day, or two, or three,
- She knew, folk that in his shippes be,
- That hit was Iasoun, ful of renomee,
- And Ercules, that had the grete los ,
- That soghten the aventures of Colcos;[ ]1515
- And dide hem honour more then before,
- And with hem deled ever lenger the more,(150)
- For they ben worthy folk, with-outen lees.
- And namely, with Ercules;
- To him her herte bar, he sholde be1520
- Sad, wys, and trewe, of wordes avisee,
- With-outen any other affeccioun
- Of love, or imaginacioun.
- This Ercules hath this Iasoun preysed,
- That to the sonne he hath him up ,1525
- That so trewe a man ther nas of love
- Under the of heven that is above;(160)
- And he was wys, hardy, secree, and riche.—[ ]
- Of thise three pointes ther nas noon him liche;[ ]
- Of freedom passed he, and lustihede,1530
- Alle tho that liven or ben dede;
- Ther-to so greet a gentil-man was he,
- And of Tessalie lykly king to be.[ ]
- Ther nas no lak, but that he was agast
- To love, and for to speke shamefast .1535
- hadde lever him-self to mordre, and dye[ ]
- Than that men shulde a lover him espye:—(170)
- ‘As wolde god that I had yive[ ]
- My blood and flesh, so that I mighte live,
- With the that he hadde o-wher a wyf1540
- For his estat; for swich a lusty lyf
- She sholde lede with this lusty knight!’
- And al this was compassed on the night
- Betwixe him Iasoun and this Ercules.
- Of thise two heer was a shrewed lees1545
- To come to hous upon an innocent;
- For to be-dote this queen was hir (180)
- And Iasoun is as coy as is a maide,
- He loketh pitously, but noght he saide,
- But frely yaf to her conseileres1550
- Yiftes grete, and to her officeres.[ ]
- As I leiser hadde, and tyme,[ ]
- By proces al his wowing for to ryme.
- But in this hous if any fals lover be,
- Right as him-self now doth, right so dide he,1555
- With feyning and with every sotil dede.
- Ye gete no more of me, but ye wil rede(190)
- Thoriginal , that telleth al the cas.
- The is this, that Iasoun wedded was
- Unto this quene, and took of her substaunce1560
- What-so him liste, unto his purveyaunce;
- And upon her begat he children two,
- And drow his sail, and saw her never-mo.
- A lettre sente she him certein,[ ]
- Which were to long to wryten and to sein,1565
- And him repreveth of his grete untrouthe,
- And preyeth him on her to have som routhe.(200)
- And of his children two, she seide him this,
- That be lyke, of alle thing, y-wis,
- To Iasoun, save they coude nat begyle;1570
- And preyed god, or hit were longe whyle,
- That she, that had his herte y-raft her fro,
- finden him to her untrewe al-so,
- And that she moste bothe her children spille,
- And alle tho that suffreth him his wille.1575
- And trew to Iasoun was she al her lyf,
- And ever kepte her chast, as for his wyf;(210)
- never had she Ioye at her herte,
- But dyed, for his love, of sorwes smerte.
The Legend of Medea.
- To Colcos comen is this duk Iasoun,[ ]1580
- That is of love devourer and dragoun.[ ]
- As forme al-wey,[ ]
- And from forme forme hit passen may,
- Or as a welle that were botomlees,
- Right so can Iasoun have no pees.1585
- For, to desyren, through his appetyt,
- To doon with gentil wommen his delyt,(220)
- This is his lust and his felicitee.
- Iasoun is romed forth to the citee,
- That whylom cleped was ,[ ]1590
- That was the maister-toun of al Colcos,
- And hath y-told the cause of his coming
- Un-to , of that contre king,
- Preying him that he moste doon his assay[ ]
- To gete the flees of gold, if that he may;1595
- Of which the king assenteth to his bone,
- And doth him honour, as hit is to done,[ ](230)
- So ferforth, that his doghter and his eyr,
- Medea, which that was wys and
- That fairer saw ther never man with yë,1600
- He made her doon to Iasoun companye
- At mete, and sitte by him in the halle.
- Now was Iasoun a semely man with-alle,
- And lyk a lord, and had a greet renoun,
- And of his loke as real ,[ ]1605
- And goodly of his speche, and famulere,[ ]
- And coude of love al craft and art plenere(240)
- With-oute boke, with everich observaunce.
- And, as fortune her oghte a foul meschaunce,[ ]
- She wex enamoured upon this man.1610
- ‘Iasoun,’ quod she, ‘for ought I see or can,
- As of this thing the which ye been aboute,
- Ye your-self y-put in moche doute.
- For, who-so wol this aventure acheve,
- He may nat wel asterten, as I leve,1615
- With-outen deeth, but I his helpe be.
- But natheles, hit is my wille,’ quod she,[ ](250)
- ‘To forthren yow, so that ye shal nat dye,
- But turnen, sound, hoom to your Tessalye.’
- ‘My righte lady,’ quod this Iasoun tho,[ ]1620
- ‘That ye han of my dethe or of my wo
- Any reward, and doon me this honour,
- I wot wel that my might ne my labour
- May nat deserve hit in my lyves day;
- God thanke yow, ther I ne can ne may.1625
- Your man am I, and you beseche,
- To been my help, with-oute more speche;(260)
- But certes, for my deeth shal I nat spare.’
- Tho gan this Medea to him declare
- The peril of this cas, fro point to point,1630
- of his batail, and in what disioint
- He mote stande, of which no creature,
- Save only she, ne mighte his lyf assure.
- And shortly, for to go,
- They been accorded ful, betwix hem two,1635
- That Iasoun shal her wedde, as trewe knight;
- And term y-set, to come sone at night(270)
- Unto her chambre, and make ther his ooth,
- Upon the goddes, that he, for leef ne looth,[ ]
- Ne sholde her never falsen, night ne day,1640
- To been her husbond, whyl he liven may,
- As she that from his deeth him .
- they mette y-fere,
- And doth his ooth, and goth with her to bedde.
- And on the morwe, upward he him spedde;1645
- For she hath taught him how he shal nat faile
- The flees to winne, and stinten his bataile;(280)
- And saved him his lyf and his honour;
- And him greet name as a conquerour
- Right through the sleight of her enchantement.1650
- Now hath Iasoun the flees, and hoom is went
- With Medea, and ful gret woon.
- But unwist of her fader is she goon
- To Tessaly, with duk Iasoun her leef,
- That afterward hath broght her to mescheef.1655
- For as a traitour he is from her go,
- And with her lafte yonge children two,(290)
- And falsly hath betrayed her, allas!
- And ever in love a traitour he was;
- And wedded yit the thridde wyf anon,1660
- That was doghter of the king Creon.[ ]
- This is the meed of loving and guerdon[ ]
- That Medea received of Iasoun
- Right for her trouthe and for her kindenesse,
- That loved him better than her-self, I gesse,1665
- And lafte her fader and her heritage.
- And of Iasoun this is vassalage ,(300)
- That, in his dayes, nas noon y-founde
- So fals a lover going on the grounde.
- And therfor in her lettre thus she seyde1670
- First, whan she ,
- ‘Why lyked me thy yelow heer to see
- More then the boundes of myn honestee,
- Why lyked me thy youthe and thy fairnesse,
- And of thy tonge the infinit graciousnesse?1675
- O, haddest thou in thy conquest deed y-be,
- Ful mikel untrouthe had ther dyed with thee!’(310)
- Wel can Ovyde her lettre in vers endyte,
- Which were as now to long for me to wryte.
Explicit Legenda Ysiphile et Medee, Martirum.
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THE LEGEND OF LUCRETIA.
Incipit Legenda Lucrecie Rome, martiris.
- Now moot I seyn the exiling of kinges[ ]1680
- Of Rome, for hir horrible ,[ ]
- of the laste king Tarquinius,
- As saith Ovyde and Titus Livius.
- But for that cause telle I nat this storie,[ ]
- But to preise and drawen to memorie1685
- The verray wyf, the verray Lucresse,
- That, for her wyfhood and her stedfastnesse,
- Nat only that thise payens her comende,
- But , that cleped is in our legende(10)
- The grete Austin, hath greet compassioun[ ]1690
- Of this Lucresse, that starf at Rome toun;
- And in what wyse, I wol but shortly trete,
- And of this I touche but the grete.
- Whan Ardea beseged was aboute[ ]
- With Romains, that ful sterne were and stoute,1695
- Ful longe lay the sege, and litel ,[ ]
- So that they were half ydel, as hem ;
- And in his pley Tarquinius the yonge[ ]
- Gan for to iape, for he was light of tonge,(20)
- And seyde, that ‘it was an ydel lyf;1700
- No man did ther more than his wyf;
- And lat us speke of wyves, that is best;
- Praise every man his owne, as him lest,
- And with our speche lat us ese our herte.’
- A knight, that Colatyne, up sterte,[ ]1705
- And seyde thus, ‘nay, for hit is no nede
- To trowen on the word, but on the dede.[ ]
- I have a wyf,’ quod he, ‘that, as I trowe,[ ]
- Is holden good of alle that ever her knowe;(30)
- Go we to-night to , and we shul see.’1710
- Tarquinius answerde, ‘that lyketh me.’[ ]
- To Rome be they come, and faste hem dighte
- To Colatynes hous, and doun they lighte,
- Tarquinius, and eek this Colatyne.
- The husbond knew the wel and fyne,[ ]1715
- prively into the hous they goon;[ ]
- Nor at the gate porter was ther noon;
- And at the chambre-dore they .
- This noble wyf sat by her beddes syde(40)
- , for no malice she ne thoghte;[ ]1720
- And softe wolle that she wroghte[ ]
- To kepen her fro slouthe and ydelnesse;
- And bad her servants doon hir businesse,
- And axeth hem, ‘what tydings heren ye?
- How men of the sege, how shal hit be?1725
- God wolde the walles weren falle adoun;
- Myn husbond is longe out of this toun,
- For which the dreed doth me so smerte,
- Right as a hit stingeth to myn [ ](50)
- Whan I think on the or of that ;1730
- God save lord, I preye him for his grace:’—
- And ther-with-al ful tenderly she weep,[ ]
- And of her werk she took no more keep,
- But mekely she leet eyen falle;
- And thilke semblant sat her wel with-alle.1735
- And eek her teres, ful of honestee,
- Embelisshed her wyfly ;
- Her countenaunce is to her herte digne,
- For they acordeden in dede and signe.(60)
- And with that word her husbond Colatyn,[ ]1740
- Or she of him was war, com sterting in,
- And seide, ‘dreed thee noght, for I am here!’
- And she anoon up roos, with blisful chere,
- And him, as of wyves is the wone.
- Tarquinius, this proude kinges sone,[ ]1745
- Conceived hath her beautee and her chere,
- Her yelow heer, her , and her manere,
- Her hew, her wordes that she hath compleyned,
- And by no crafte her beautee nat feyned;(70)
- And caughte to this lady swich desyr,1750
- That in his herte as any fyr
- So woodly, that his wit was forgeten.
- For wel, thoghte he, she sholde nat be geten
- And ay the more he was in dispair,
- The more he coveteth and thoghte her fair.1755
- His blinde lust was al his covetinge.
- A-morwe, whan the brid began to singe,
- Unto the sege he comth ful privily,
- And by himself he walketh sobrely,(80)
- of her recording alwey newe;1760
- ‘Thus lay her heer, and thus fresh was her hewe;
- Thus sat, thus spak, thus span; this was her chere,
- fair she was, and was her manere.’
- Al this conceit his herte hath y-take.
- And, as the see, with tempest al to-shake ,1765
- , after whan the storm is al ago,
- Yet wol the water quappe a day or two,
- Right so, thogh that her forme wer absent,
- The plesaunce of her forme was present;(90)
- natheles, nat plesaunce, but delyt,1770
- Or an unrightful talent with despyt;[ ]
- ‘For, maugre her, she shal my lemman be;
- Hap helpeth hardy man ,’ quod he;[ ]
- ‘What ende that I make, hit shal be so;’[ ]
- And girt him with his swerde, and gan to go;[ ]1775
- And til he to Rome is come,
- And al aloon his wey than hath he nome
- Unto the house of Colatyn ful right.
- Doun was the sonne, and day hath lost his light;(100)
- And in he com un-to a privy halke ,1780
- And in the night ful theefly gan he stalke ,
- Whan every night was to his reste broght,
- Ne no wight had of tresoun swich a thoght.
- Were by window or by other gin,
- With swerde y-drawe, shortly he comth in1785
- Ther as she lay, this noble wyf Lucresse.
- And, as she wook, her bed she presse.
- ‘What beste is that,’ quod she, ‘that weyeth thus?’
- ‘I am the kinges sone, Tarquinius,’(110)
- Quod he, ‘but and thou crye, or noise make,1790
- Or if thou any creature awake,
- By thilke god that formed man on lyve,
- This swerd thyn herte shal I ryve.’
- And ther-withal unto her throte he sterte,
- And sette the al sharp upon her herte.1795
- No word she spak, she hath no might therto.
- What shal she sayn? her wit is al ago.
- Right as a wolf that a lomb aloon,[ ]
- To whom shal she compleyne, or make moon?(120)
- What! shal she fighte with an hardy knight?[ ]1800
- Wel wot men a woman hath no might.
- What! shal she crye, or how shal she
- That hath her by the throte, with swerde at herte?
- She axeth grace, and al that she can.
- ‘Ne wolt thou nat,’ quod , this cruel man,1805
- ‘As wisly Iupiter my soule save,
- I shal in the stable slee thy knave,
- And leye him in thy bed, and loude crye,
- That I thee finde in suche ;(130)
- And thus thou shalt be deed, and also lese1810
- Thy name, for thou shalt chese.’
- Thise Romain wyves loveden so hir name[ ]
- At thilke tyme, and dredden so the shame,
- That, what for fere of slaundre and drede of deeth,
- She loste at-ones wit and breeth,1815
- And in a swough she lay and so deed,
- Men mighte smyten of her arm or heed;
- She feleth no-thing, neither foul ne fair.
- Tarquinius, that art a kinges eyr,(140)
- And sholdest, as by linage and by right,1820
- Doon as a lord and as a knight,
- Why hastow doon dispyt to chivalrye?
- Why hastow doon lady vilanye?
- Allas! of thee this was a dede!
- But now purpos; in the story I rede,1825
- Whan he was goon, al this mischaunce is falle.
- This lady sente after her frendes alle,[ ]
- Fader, moder, husbond, al y-fere;
- And dischevele, with her heres clere,(150)
- In habit swich as women used tho1830
- Unto the burying of her frendes go,
- She sit in halle with a sorweful sighte.
- Her frendes axen what her aylen mighte,
- And who was deed? And she sit ay wepinge,
- A word for shame ne may she forth out-bringe,1835
- Ne upon hem she dorste nat beholde.
- But atte laste of Tarquiny she hem tolde,[ ]
- This rewful cas, and al this thing horrible.
- The wo to tellen hit were impossible,(160)
- That she and alle her frendes atones.1840
- Al hadde folkes hertes been of stones,
- Hit mighte have maked hem upon her rewe,
- Her herte was so wyfly and so trewe.
- She seide, that, for her gilt ne for her blame,
- Her husbond sholde nat have the foule name,1845
- , by no wey.
- And they answerden alle, hir fey,[ ]
- That they foryeve hit her, for hit was right;
- Hit was no gilt, hit lay nat in her might;(170)
- And seiden her ensamples many oon.1850
- But al for noght; for thus she seide anoon,
- ‘Be as be may,’ quod she, ‘of forgiving,
- I wol nat have no forgift for no-thing.’
- But prively she caughte forth a knyf,
- And therwith-al she rafte her-self her lyf;1855
- And as she fel adoun, she caste her look,[ ]
- And of her clothes yit took;[ ]
- For in her falling yit she hadde care
- Lest that her feet or swiche thing lay bare;[ ](180)
- So wel she loved clennesse and eek trouthe.[ ]1860
- Of her had al the toun of Rome routhe,
- And Brutus swore
- That Tarquin sholde y-banisht be ther-fore,
- And al his kin; and let the peple calle,
- And openly the tale he tolde hem alle,1865
- And openly let carie her on a bere
- Through al the toun, that men may see and here
- The horrible deed of her oppressioun.
- Ne never was ther king in Rome toun(190)
- Sin thilke day; and she was holden there1870
- A seint, and ever her day y-halwed dere[ ]
- As in hir lawe: and thus endeth Lucresse,
- The noble wyf, Titus bereth witnesse.
- I tell hit, for she was of love so trewe,
- Ne in her wille she chaunged for no newe.1875
- And stable herte, sad and kinde,
- That in these women men may alday finde;
- Ther as they caste hir herte, ther hit dwelleth.
- For wel I wot, that Crist telleth,(200)
- That in Israel, as wyd as is the lond,[ ]1880
- That so gret feith in al the lond he ne fond[ ]
- As in a woman; this is no lye.
- And as of , loketh which tirannye[ ]
- They doon alday; assay hem who so liste,
- The trewest is ful brotel for to triste.1885
Explicit Legenda Lucrecie Rome, Martiris.[ ]
[Back to Table of Contents]
THE LEGEND OF ARIADNE.
Incipit Legenda Adriane de Athenes.
- Iuge infernal, Minos, of king,
- Now cometh thy lot, now comestow on the ring;
- Nat only wryte I this storie,
- But for to clepe agein unto memorie
- Of Theseus the grete of love;1890
- For which the goddes of heven above
- Ben wrothe, and wreche han take for thy sinne.
- Be reed for shame! now I thy lyf beginne.
- Minos, that was the mighty king of ,
- That an hundred citees stronge and grete,[ ]1895
- To scole hath sent his sone Androgeus,[ ](11)
- To Athenes; of the whiche hit thus,
- That he was slayn, lerning philosophye,
- Right in that citee, nat but for envye.
- The grete Minos, of the whiche I speke,[ ]1900
- His sones deeth is comen for to wreke;
- he bisegeth harde and longe.[ ]
- But natheles the walles be so stronge,
- And Nisus , that was king of that citee,
- So chivalrous, that litel dredeth he;1905
- Of Minos or his ost took he no cure,(21)
- Til on a day befel an aventure,
- That Nisus doghter stood upon the wal,[ ]
- And of the sege saw the maner al.
- So hit, that, at a scarmishing,1910
- She caste her herte upon Minos the king,
- For his beautee and his chivalrye,
- So sore, that she wende for to dye.
- And, shortly of this proces for to pace,
- She made Minos winnen thilke place,1915
- So that the citee was al at his wille,(31)
- To saven whom him list, or elles spille;
- But wikkedly he quitte her kindenesse,
- And let her drenche in sorowe and distresse,
- Nere that the goddes hadde of her pite;1920
- But that tale were to long as now for me.
- Athenes wan this king Minos also,[ ]
- And and other tounes mo;
- this theffect, that Minos hath so driven
- Hem of Athenes, they mote him yiven[ ]1925
- Fro yere to yere her owne children dere(41)
- For to be slayn, .
- This Minos hath a monstre, a wikked beste,[ ]
- That was so cruel that, without areste,
- Whan that a man was broght his presence,1930
- He wolde him ete, ther helpeth no defence.
- And every thridde , with-outen doute,[ ]
- They casten lot, , as hit com aboute
- On riche, pore, he moste his sone take,
- And of his child he moste present make1935
- Unto , to save him or to spille,(51)
- Or lete his beste devoure him at his wille.
- And this hath don, right in despyt;
- To wreke his sone was set al his delyt,
- maken hem of Athenes his thral1940
- Fro yere to yere, whyl he liven shal;
- And hoom he saileth whan this toun is wonne.
- This wikked custom is so longe y-ronne
- Til of Athenes king Egeus
- sende his owne sone, Theseus,1945
- Sith that the lot is fallen him upon,(61)
- To be devoured, for grace is ther non.
- And forth is this woful yonge knight
- Unto the of king Minos ful right,
- And in a prison, fetered, cast is he1950
- Til tyme he sholde y-freten be.
- Wel maystow wepe, O woful Theseus,
- That art a kinges sone, and dampned thus.
- Me thinketh this, that thou y-holde[ ]
- To that saved thee fro cares colde!1955
- And now, if any woman helpe thee,(71)
- Wel oughtestow her servant for to be,
- And been her trewe lover yeer by yere!
- But now to come ageyn to my matere.
- The tour, ther this Theseus is throwe[ ]1960
- Doun in the botom derke and wonder lowe,
- Was ioyning the walle to a foreyne ;
- And hit was longing to the doghtren tweyne
- Of Minos, that in hir chambres grete
- Dwelten above, the maister-strete ,1965
- In , in Ioye and in solas.[ ](81)
- I nat how, hit happed ther, per cas,
- As Theseus compleyned him by nighte,
- The kinges doghter, highte,[ ]
- And eek her suster Phedra, herden al1970
- His , as they stode on the wal
- And upon the brighte mone;
- Hem leste nat go to bedde sone.
- And of his wo they had compassioun;
- A kinges sone to ben in swich prisoun1975
- And be devoured, thoughte hem gret pitee.(91)
- Than Adrian spak to her suster free,
- And seyde, ‘Phedra, leve suster dere,
- This woful lordes sone may ye nat here,
- How pitously compleyneth his kin,1980
- And eek his pore estat that he is in,
- And gilteless? , hit is routhe!
- And if ye wol assenten, by my trouthe,
- He shal be holpen, how so that we do!’
- Phedra answerde, ‘y-wis, me is as wo1985
- For him as ever I was for any man;(101)
- And, to his help, the beste reed can
- Is that we doon the gayler prively
- To come, and speke with us hastily,
- And doon this woful man with him to come.[ ]1990
- For if he may monstre overcome,
- Than were he quit ; ther is noon other bote.
- Lat us wel taste him at his herte-rote,
- That, if so be that he a wepen have,
- Wher that he dar, and save,1995
- Fighten with this fend, and him defende.[ ](111)
- For, in the prison, he shal descende,[ ]
- Ye , that the beste is in a place
- That nis nat derk, and hath roum eek and
- To welde an ax or swerd or staf or knyf,2000
- So that, me thinketh, he sholde save his lyf;
- If that he be a man, he shal do so.
- And we shul make balles eek also
- Of wexe and towe, that, whan he gapeth faste,[ ]
- Into the bestes throte he shal hem caste2005
- To slake his hunger and encombre his teeth;(121)
- And right anon, that Theseus seeth
- The beste , he shal on him lepe
- To sleen him, or they comen more .[ ]
- This wepen shal the gayler, or that tyde,2010
- Ful privily within the prison hyde;
- And, for the hous is to and fro,[ ]
- And hath so queinte weyes for to go—
- For hit is shapen as the mase is wroght—
- Therto have I remedie in my thoght,2015
- That, by a of twyne, as he hath goon,(131)
- The same wey he may returne anoon,
- Folwing alwey the threed, as he hath come.
- And, whan that he this hath overcome,
- Then may he fleen awey out of this ,[ ]2020
- And eek the gayler may he with him lede,
- And him avaunce at hoom in his contree,
- Sin that so greet a lordes sone is he.
- This is my reed, if that he dar hit take.’
- What sholde I lenger of hit make?2025
- The gayler cometh, and with him Theseus.(141)
- whan thise thinges been acorded thus,
- sit Theseus upon his knee:—[ ]
- ‘The righte lady of my lyf,’ quod he,
- ‘I, sorweful man, y-dampned to the deeth,2030
- Fro yow, that me lasteth lyf or breeth,
- I wol nat twinne, after this aventure,
- But in your servise thus I endure,
- That, as a wrecche unknowe, I wol yow serve
- For , til that myn herte sterve.2035
- Forsake I wol at hoom myn heritage,(151)
- And, as I seide, ben of your court a page,[ ]
- If that ye vouche-sauf that, in this place,
- Ye graunte me to han grace
- That I may han nat but my mete and drinke;2040
- And for my sustenance yit wol I swinke ,
- Right as yow list, that Minos ne no wight—
- Sin that he saw me never with eyen sight—
- Ne no man elles, shal me conne espye;[ ]
- So slyly and so wel I shal me gye,2045
- And wel disfigure and so lowe,(161)
- That in this world ther shal no man me knowe,
- To han my lyf, and to han presence[ ]
- Of yow, that doon to me this excellence.
- And to my fader shal I senden here2050
- This worthy man, that is your gaylere,[ ]
- guerdon, that he shal wel be[ ]
- Oon of the grettest men of my contree.
- And yif I dorste seyn, my lady bright,
- I am a kinges sone, and eek a knight;2055
- As wolde god, yif that hit mighte be(171)
- Ye weren in my contree, alle three,
- And I with yow, to bere yow companye,
- Than shulde ye seen yif that I ther-of lye!
- And, I profre yow in low manere2060
- To ben your page and serven yow right here,
- But I yow serve as lowly in that place,
- I prey to Mars to yive me swiche grace[ ]
- That shames on me ther mote falle,
- And deeth and to my frendes alle;[ ]2065
- And that my spirit by nighte mote go[ ](181)
- After my deeth, and walke to and fro;
- That I mote of a have a name,
- For which my spirit , to do me shame!
- And yif claime other degree ,2070
- ye vouche-sauf to yive hit me,
- As I have seid, of shames deeth I deye![ ]
- And mercy, lady! I can seye!’
- A seemly knight was to see,
- And yong, but of a twenty yeer and three;[ ]2075
- But who-so hadde y-seyn his countenaunce,(191)
- He wolde have wept, for routhe of his penaunce;
- For which this Adriane in this manere
- Answerde to his profre and to his chere.
- ‘A kinges sone, and eek knight,’ quod she,2080
- ‘To been my servant in so low degree,
- God shilde hit , for the shame of women alle!
- And me never swich a cas befalle![ ]
- sende yow grace and sleighte of herte also,
- Yow to defende and knightly your fo,2085
- And herafter that I may yow finde[ ](201)
- To me and to my suster here so kinde,
- That repente nat to give yow lyf!
- Yit were hit better I were your wyf,[ ]
- Sin ye been as gentil born as I,2090
- And have a nat but faste by,
- Then that I suffred yow to sterve,
- Or that I let yow as a page serve;
- Hit is not profit, as unto your kinrede;[ ]
- But what is that nil do for drede?2095
- And to my suster, sin that hit is so(211)
- That she mot goon with me, if that I go,
- Or elles suffre deeth as wel as I,
- That ye unto your sone as trewely
- Doon her wedded at your hoom-coming .2100
- This is the fynal ende of al this thing;
- Ye swere hit heer, al that may be sworn.’
- ‘Ye, lady myn,’ quod he, ‘or elles torn
- Mote I be with the Minotaur to-morwe!
- And haveth her-of my herte-blood to borwe ,2105
- Yif that ye wile; if I had knyf or spere,(221)
- I wolde hit out, and ther-on swere,[ ]
- For than at erst I wot ye wil me leve.
- By Mars, that is cheef of my bileve,
- So that I mighte liven and nat faile2110
- To-morwe for my bataile,
- I nolde never fro this place flee,
- Til that ye shuld the verray see.
- For now, if that the sooth I shal yow say,
- I have yow ful many a day,2115
- Though ye ne wiste nat, in my contree.(231)
- And aldermost desyred yow to see
- Of any erthly living creature;
- Upon my trouthe I swere, and yow ,
- Thise seven yeer I have your servant be;2120
- Now have I yow, and also have ye me,
- My dere herte, of Athenes duchesse !’
- This lady smyleth at his stedfastnesse,
- And at his wordes, and his chere,
- And to her suster seide in this manere,2125
- softely, ‘now, suster myn,’ quod she,(241)
- ‘Now be we duchesses, bothe I and ye,
- And sikered to the regals of Athenes,[ ]
- And bothe her-after lykly to be quenes,
- And saved fro his deeth a kinges sone,2130
- As ever of gentil women is the wone
- To save a gentil man, emforth hir might ,
- In honest cause, and namely in his right.
- Me thinketh no wight oghte ,[ ]
- Ne beren us ther-for an evel name.’2135
- And shortly of this matere for to make,(251)
- This Theseus of her hath leve y-take,
- And every point was in dede
- As ye have in covenant herd me rede.
- His wepen, his clew, his thing that I have said,2140
- Was by the gayler in the hous y-laid
- Ther as this Minotaur hath his dwelling,
- Right faste by the dore, at his entring.
- And Theseus is lad unto his deeth,
- And forth un-to this Minotaur he geeth ,2145
- And by the teching of this Adriane(261)
- He overcom this beste, and was his bane;
- And out he cometh by the clewe again
- Ful prevely, whan he this hath slain;
- And by the a barge,2150
- And of his wyves tresor gan charge,
- And took his wyf, and eek her suster free,
- And eek the , and with hem alle three
- Is stole awey out of the lond by nighte,
- And to the contre of him dighte[ ]2155
- Ther as he had a frend of his knowinge.(271)
- Ther festen they, ther dauncen they and singe;
- And in his armes hath this Adriane,
- That of the beste hath kept him from his bane;
- And gat him ther a barge anoon,2160
- And of his contree-folk a gret woon ,
- And taketh his leve, and hoomward saileth he.
- And in an yle , amid the wilde see,
- Ther as ther creature noon
- Save wilde bestes, and that ful many oon,2165
- He made his ship a-londe for to sette;(281)
- And in yle half a day he lette ,
- And seide, that on the lond he moste him reste.
- His mariners han doon right as him leste;
- And, for to tellen shortly in this cas,2170
- Whan Adriane his wyf a-slepe was,
- For that her suster fairer was than she,
- He taketh her in his hond, and forth goth he
- To shippe, and as a traitour stal his way
- Whyl that this Adriane a-slepe lay,2175
- And to his contree-ward he saileth blyve—(291)
- A twenty devil way the wind him dryve!—
- And fond his fader drenched in the see.
- Me list no more to speke of him, parde;
- Thise false lovers, poison be hir bane!2180
- But I wol turne again to Adriane
- That is with slepe for werinesse [ ]
- Ful sorwefully her herte may awake.
- Allas! for thee my herte hath pite!
- Right in the dawening awaketh she,2185
- And in the bedde, and fond right noght.[ ](301)
- ‘Allas!’ quod she, ‘that ever I was wroght!
- I am betrayed!’ and heer to-rente,
- And to the stronde bar-fot faste she wente,[ ]
- And cryed, ‘Theseus! myn herte swete!2190
- Wher be ye, that I may nat with yow mete,
- And mighte thus with bestes been y-slain?’[ ]
- The holwe rokkes answerde her again;[ ]
- No man she saw, and yit the mone,[ ]
- And hye upon a rokke she wente sone,2195[ ]
- And saw his barge sailing in the see.(311)
- Cold wex her herte, and right thus seide she.
- ‘Meker than ye finde I the bestes wilde!’[ ]
- he nat sinne, that her thus begylde?
- She cryed, ‘O turne again, for routhe and sinne!2200[ ]
- barge hath nat al his meiny inne!’
- Her kerchef on a pole up stikked she,[ ]
- that he sholde hit wel y-see,
- And him remembre that she was behinde,
- And turne again, and on the stronde her finde;2205
- But al for noght; his wey he is .(321)
- And doun she fil a-swown a stoon;
- And up she rist, and , in al her care,[ ]
- The steppes of his feet, ther he hath fare,
- And to her bedde right thus speketh tho:—2210
- ‘Thou bed,’ quod she, ‘that hast receyved two,
- Thou shalt answere of two, and nat of oon!
- Wher is gretter part away y-goon?
- Allas! wher shal I , wight, become!
- For , thogh so be that ship or boot ,2215
- Hoom to my contree dar I nat for drede;(331)
- I can in this cas nat rede!’
- What shal I telle more her compleining?
- Hit is so long, hit were an hevy thing.
- In her epistle Naso telleth al;2220
- But shortly to the ende shal.
- The goddes have her holpen, for pitee;
- And, in the signe of Taurus, men may see[ ]
- The stones of her coroun shyne clere.—
- I wol no more speke of this matere;2225
- But thus can begyle(341)
- trewe love. The devil quyte him his whyle !
Explicit Legenda Adriane de Athenes.
[Back to Table of Contents]
THE LEGEND OF PHILOMELA.
Title.FromF.After which,F.has Deus dator formatorum; B.has Deus dator formarum.
Incipit Legenda Philomene.
Deus dator formarum.
- Thou yiver of the formes, that hast wroght[ ]
- The faire world, and bare hit in thy thoght
- Eternally, or thou thy werk began,2230
- Why madest thou, unto the slaundre of man,
- Or—al be that hit was not thy doing,
- As for that to make swiche a thing—
- Why suffrest thou that Tereus was bore,
- That is in love so fals and so forswore,2235
- That, fro this world up to the firste hevene,
- Corrumpeth, whan that folk his name nevene?(10)[ ]
- And, as to me , so grisly was his dede,
- That, whan that I foule story rede,
- Myn eyen wexen foule and sore also;2240
- Yit the venim of so longe ago,
- That hit enfecteth him that beholde
- The story of , of which I tolde.[ ]
- Of Trace was he lord, and kin to Marte,[ ]
- The cruel god that stant with blody darte;2245
- And wedded had he, with blisful chere,
- King Pandiones faire doghter dere,(20)[ ]
- That highte Progne, flour of her contree,
- Thogh Iuno nat at the feste be,[ ]
- Ne Ymeneus, that god of wedding is;2250
- But at the feste redy been, y-wis,
- The furies three, with alle hir mortel
- The owle al night aboute the balkes ,[ ]
- That prophet is of wo and of mischaunce.
- This revel, ful of songe and ful of daunce,2255
- a fourtenight, or litel lasse.[ ]
- But, shortly of this story for to passe,(30)
- For I am wery of him for to telle,
- Five yeer his wyf and he togeder dwelle,[ ]
- Til on a day she gan so sore longe2260
- To seen her suster, that she saw nat longe ,
- That for desyr she niste what to seye.
- But to her husband gan she for to preye,
- For goddes love, that she moste ones goon
- Her suster for to seen, and come anoon ,2265
- Or elles , but she moste to her wende,
- She preyde him, that he wolde after her sende;(40)
- And this was, day by day, al her prayere
- With al humblesse of wyfhood, word, and chere.
- This Tereus let make his shippes yare,[ ]2270
- And into Grece him-self is forth y-fare
- Unto his fader in lawe, and gan him preye
- To vouche-sauf that, for a month or tweye,
- That Philomene, his wyves suster, mighte
- On Progne his wyf but ones have a sighte—2275
- ‘And she shal come to yow again anoon.
- Myself with wol bothe come and goon,(50)
- And as myn hertes lyf I wol her kepe.’
- This olde Pandion, this king, gan wepe
- For tendernesse of herte, for to leve2280
- His doghter goon, and for to yive her leve;
- Of al this world he no-thing so;[ ]
- But at the laste leve hath she to go.
- For Philomene, with salte teres eke,
- Gan her fader grace to beseke2285
- To seen her suster, that her ;
- And him embraceth with her armes two.(60)
- And therwith-al so yong and fair was she
- That, whan that Terëus saw her beautee,
- And of array that ther was noon her liche,2290
- And yit of was she two so riche,
- He caste his fyry herte upon her so
- That he wol have her, how so that hit go,
- And with his wyles kneled and so ,
- Til at the laste Pandion thus seyde:—2295
- ‘Now, sone,’ quod he, ‘that art to me so dere,
- I thee betake my yonge doghter ,(70)
- That bereth the key of al my hertes lyf.
- And grete wel my doghter and thy wyf,
- And yive her leve somtyme for to pleye,2300
- That she may seen me ones I deye.’
- And soothly, he hath mad him riche feste,
- And to his folk, the moste and eek the leste,
- That with him com; and yaf him yiftes grete,
- And him conveyeth through the maister-strete2305
- Of Athenes, and to the see him broghte,
- And turneth hoom; no malice he ne thoghte.(80)
- The ores pulleth forth the vessel faste,[ ]
- And into Trace arriveth at the laste,
- And up into a forest he her ledde,2310
- And a cave privily him spedde;
- And, in this derke cave, yif her leste,[ ]
- Or leste noght, he bad her for to reste;
- Of whiche her herte , and seyde thus,
- ‘Wher is my suster, brother Tereus?’2315
- And therwith-al she tenderly,
- And quook for fere, pale and pitously,(90)
- Right as the lamb that of the wolf is biten;
- Or as the colver, that the egle is smiten,
- And is out of clawes forth escaped,2320
- Yet hit is afered and awhaped
- Lest hit be hent eft-sones, so sat she.
- But utterly hit may non other be.
- By force hath , this traitour, doon that dede,
- That he hath reft her of maydenhede,2325
- Maugree her heed, by strengthe and by his might.
- Lo! here a dede of men, and that a right!(100)
- She cryeth ‘suster!’ with ful stevene,
- And ‘fader dere!’ and ‘help me, god in hevene!’
- Al helpeth nat; yet this false theef2330
- Hath doon this lady yet a more mischeef,
- For lest she sholde his shame crye,
- And doon him openly a vilanye,
- And with his swerd her tong of he,
- And in a castel made her for to be2335
- Ful privily in prison evermore,
- And kepte her to his usage and his store,(110)
- So that she him nevermore asterte.
- O sely Philomene! wo thyn herte;
- God wreke thee, and sende thee thy bone!2340
- Now is hit tyme I make an ende sone.
- This Tereus is to his wyf y-come,[ ]
- And in his armes hath his wyf y-nome,
- And pitously he weep, and shook his heed,
- And swor her that he her suster deed;2345
- For which sely Progne hath swich wo,
- That ny her sorweful herte brak a-two;(120)
- And thus in teres lete I Progne dwelle,
- And of her suster forth I wol yow telle.
- This woful lady had in youthe2350
- So that she werken and enbrouden couthe,
- And weven in stole the radevore
- As hit of women hath be woned .
- And, shortly for to seyn, she hath her fille
- Of mete and drink, clothing at her wille,2355
- And eek rede, and wel y-nogh endyte,
- But with a penne nat wryte;(130)
- But lettres can she weven to and fro,
- So that , by the yeer was a-go,
- She had in a stamin large2360
- How she was brought from Athenes in a barge,
- And in a cave how that she was brought;
- And al the thing that Tereus hath wroght,
- She hit wel, and wroot the story above,
- How she was served for her suster love;2365
- And to a knave a ring she yaf anoon,
- And prayed him, by signes, for to goon(140)
- Unto the quene, and beren her that clooth,
- And by swor him many an ooth,
- She sholde him yeve what she geten mighte.2370
- This knave anoon unto the quene him dighte,
- And took hit her, and al the maner tolde.
- And, whan that Progne hath this thing beholde,[ ]
- No word she spak, for sorwe and eek for rage;
- But feyned her to goon pilgrimage2375
- To Bachus temple; and, in a litel stounde,
- Her dombe suster sitting hath she founde,(150)
- Weping in the castel aloon.
- Allas! the wo, the compleint , and the moon
- That Progne upon her dombe suster maketh!2380
- In armes everich of hem other taketh,
- And thus I lete hem in hir sorwe dwelle.
- The remenant is no charge for to telle,[ ]
- For this is al and som, thus was she served,
- That never harm a-gilte ne deserved2385
- Unto this cruel man, that she of wiste.
- Ye may be war of men, yif that yow liste.(160)
- For, al be that he wol nat, for shame,
- Doon as Tereus, to lese his name,
- Ne serve yow as a or a knave,2390
- Ful litel whyle shul ye trewe him have,
- That wol I seyn, al were he now my brother,
- But hit so be that he may have .(166)
Explicit Legenda Philomene.
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THE LEGEND OF PHYLLIS.
Incipit Legenda Phillis.
- By preve as wel as by auctoritee,
- That wikked fruit cometh of a wikked tree,2395[ ]
- That may ye finde, if that it lyketh yow.
- But for this ende I speke this as now,
- To telle you of false Demophon .
- In love a falser herde I never non,
- hit were his fader Theseus.2400
- ‘God, for his grace , fro swich oon kepe us!’
- Thus thise women prayen that hit here.
- Now to theffect turne I of my matere.(10)
- Destroyed is of Troye the citee;
- This Demophon com sailing in the see2405
- Toward Athenes, to his paleys large;
- With him com many a ship and many a barge
- Ful of folk, of which ful many oon
- Is wounded sore, and , and wo begoon.
- And they han at the longe y-lain.2410
- Behinde him com a wind and eek a rain
- That shoof so sore, his sail stonde,
- Him were lever than al the world a-londe,(20)
- So hunteth him the tempest to and fro.
- So derk hit was, he coude nowher go;2415
- And with a wawe brosten was his stere.
- His ship was rent so lowe, in swich manere,
- That carpenter coude hit nat amende.
- The see, by nighte, as any torche brende
- For , and posseth him ,2420
- Til Neptune hath of him compassioun,
- And Thetis, , Triton, and they alle,[ ]
- And maden him a lond to falle,(30)
- Wher-of that Phillis lady was and quene,
- doghter, fairer on to sene2425
- Than is the flour again the brighte sonne.
- Unnethe is Demophon to londe y-wonne ,
- Wayk and eek wery, and his folk for-pyned
- Of werinesse, and also enfamyned;
- to the deeth he y-driven.2430
- His wyse folk to conseil han him yiven
- To seken help and socour of the queen,
- And loken what his grace mighte been,(40)
- And maken in that lond som chevisaunce ,
- kepen him fro wo and fro mischaunce.2435
- For seek was he, and almost at the deeth;
- Unnethe mighte he speke or drawe breeth,
- And lyth in Rodopeya him to reste.
- Whan he may walke, him thoughte hit was the beste
- Unto the to seken for socour.2440
- Men knewe him wel, and diden him honour;
- For at Athenes duk and lord was he,
- As Theseus his fader hadde y-be,(50)
- That in his tyme was renoun,
- No man so greet al his regioun;2445
- And lyk his fader of face and of stature,
- And fals of love; hit com him of nature;
- As doth the fox Renard , the foxes sone,
- Of kinde he coude his faders wone
- Withoute lore, as can a drake swimme,2450
- Whan hit is caught and caried to the brimme.
- This honourable doth him chere,
- Her lyketh wel his port his manere.(60)
- But for I am heer-biforn[ ]
- To wryte of hem that forsworn,2455
- And eek to haste me in my legende,[ ]
- Which to performe god me grace sende,
- Therfor I passe shortly in this wyse;
- Ye han wel herd of Theseus
- In the betraising of fair Adriane,2460
- That of her pite kepte him from his bane.
- At shorte wordes, right so Demophon
- The same wey, the same path hath gon(70)
- That dide his false fader Theseus.
- For unto Phillis hath he sworen thus,2465
- To wedden her, and her his trouthe plighte,
- And piked of her al the good he mighte,
- Whan he was hool and sound and hadde his reste;
- And doth with Phillis what so that him leste.
- And wel coude I, yif that me leste so,2470
- Tellen al his doing to and fro.
- He seide, his contree moste he saile,
- For ther he wolde her wedding apparaile(80)
- As fil to her honour and his also.
- And openly he took his leve tho,2475
- And , he wolde nat soiorne,
- But in a month retorne.
- And in that lond let make his ordinaunce
- As verray lord, and took the obeisaunce
- Wel and , and let his shippes dighte,2480
- And hoom he goth the nexte wey he mighte;
- For unto Phillis yit com he noght.
- And that hath she so harde and sore ,(90)
- Allas! that, as the us ,
- She was her owne deeth with a corde ,2485
- Whan that she saw that Demophon her trayed.
- to him and faste him prayed
- He wolde come, and her of ,
- As I reherse shal a word or .
- Me list nat vouche-sauf on him to swinke,2490
- Ne on him a penne ful of inke,
- For fals in love was he, right as his syre;
- The devil sette hir soules bothe !(100)
- But of the lettre of Phillis wol I wryte
- word or tweyne, al-thogh hit be but lyte.2495[ ]
- ‘ ,’ quod she, ‘O ,[ ]
- Thy Phillis, which that is so wo begon,
- Of Rodopeye, upon yow compleyne,
- Over the terme set betwix us tweyne,
- That ye ne holden forward, as ye seyde;2500
- Your anker, which ye in our haven leyde,
- Highte us, that ye wolde comen, out of doute,
- Or that the mone ones wente aboute.(110)
- But tymes foure the mone hath her face
- Sin day ye wente fro this place,2505
- And foure tymes the world again.
- But for al that, I shal soothly sain,
- Yit hath the of nat [ ]
- From Athenes the ship; yit noght.
- And, yif that ye the terme rekne wolde,2510
- As I or other trewe lovers sholde,
- I pleyne not, god wot, beforn my day.’—
- But al her lettre wryten I ne may(120)
- By ordre, for hit were to me a charge,
- Her lettre was right long and ther-to large;2515
- But here and there in ryme I have hit laid,
- Ther as me thoughte that she said.—
- She seide, ‘ sailes nat again,[ ]
- Ne to word ther nis no fey certein;
- But I wot why ye come nat,’ quod she;2520
- ‘For I was of my love to you so free.
- And of the goddes that ye han forswore,
- that hir vengeance falle on yow therfore,(130)
- Ye be nat suffisaunt to bere the peyne.
- To moche trusted I, wel may I ,2525
- Upon your linage and your faire tonge,
- And on your teres falsly out .
- How coude ye wepe so by craft?’ quod she;
- ‘May swiche teres feyned be?
- Now certes, yif ye wolde have in memorie,2530
- Hit oghte be to yow but litel glorie
- To have a sely thus betrayed!
- To god,’ quod she, ‘preye I, and ofte have prayed,(140)
- That hit be now the grettest prys of alle,[ ]
- And moste honour that ever yow shal befalle!2535
- And whan thyn olde auncestres peynted be,
- In which men may hir worthinesse see,
- Than, preye I god, thou peynted be also,
- That folk may reden, as they go,
- “Lo! this is he, that with his flaterye2540
- Betrayed hath and doon her vilanye
- That was his trewe love in thoghte and dede!”
- But sothly, of oo point yit may they rede,(150)
- That ye ben lyk your fader as in this;
- For he begyled Adriane, y-wis,2545
- With swiche an art and swiche sotelte
- As thou thy-selven hast begyled me.
- As in that point, al-thogh hit be nat fayr,
- Thou folwest , certein, and art his eyr.
- But sin thus sinfully ye me begyle,2550
- My body mote ye seen, within a whyle,
- Right in the haven of Athenes fletinge,
- With-outen sepulture and buryinge;(160)
- Thogh ye ben harder then is any stoon.’
- And, whan this lettre was forth anoon,2555
- And knew how brotel and how fals he was,
- She for dispeyr for-dide herself, allas!
- Swich sorwe hath she, for she besette her so.[ ]
- Be war, ye women, of your sotil fo,
- Sin yit this day men may ensample see;2560
- .[ ](168)
Explicit Legenda Phillis.
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THE LEGEND OF HYPERMNESTRA.
Incipit Legenda Ypermistre.
- In Grece whylom weren brethren two,
- Of whiche that oon was Danao ,
- That many a sone hath of his body wonne,
- As swiche false lovers ofte conne.2565
- Among his sones alle ther was oon
- That aldermost he lovede of everichoon.
- And whan this child was born, this Danao
- Shoop him a name, and called him Lino .
- That other brother called was Egiste ,2570
- That was love as fals as ever him liste,(10)
- And many a doghter gat he in his lyve;
- Of which he gat upon his righte wyve
- A doghter dere, and dide for to calle[ ]
- Ypermistra , yongest of hem alle;2575
- The whiche child, of her nativitee ,
- To alle was she,[ ]
- As lyked to the , or she was born,
- That of the shefe she sholde be the corn;
- The Wirdes , that we clepen Destinee,2580
- Hath shapen her that she nedes be(20)
- , wyse, and trewe as steel;[ ]
- And to this woman hit accordeth weel.
- For, though that Venus yaf her greet beautee,[ ]
- With Iupiter compouned so was she2585
- That conscience, trouthe, and dreed of shame,
- And of her wyfhood for to kepe her name,
- This, thoughte her , was felicitee as here.
- And rede Mars was, that tyme of the yere,
- So feble, that his malice is him ,2590
- Repressed hath Venus his cruel craft;(30)
- What with Venus other oppressioun
- Of houses, Mars his venim is adoun,
- That Ypermistra dar nat handle a knyf[ ]
- In malice, thogh she sholde lese her lyf.2595
- But natheles, as heven gan tho turne,
- badde aspectes hath she of Saturne,[ ]
- That made her to deyen in prisoun,
- I shal after make mencioun.
- Danao and Egistes also—2600
- so be that they were brethren two,(40)
- For thilke tyme nas spared no linage—
- Hit hem to maken mariage
- Betwix Ypermistra and him Lino,[ ]
- And casten swiche a day hit shal be so;2605
- And ful acorded was hit ;
- The array is wroght, the tyme is faste by.
- And thus Lino hath of his fadres brother
- The doghter wedded, and eche of hem hath other.
- The torches brennen and the lampes brighte,2610[ ]
- The sacrifices been ful redy dighte;(50)
- Thencens out of the fyre reketh sote,
- The flour, the leef is rent up by the rote
- To maken garlands and corounes hye;
- Ful is the place of minstralcye,2615
- Of songes amorous of mariage,
- As thilke tyme was the pleyn usage.
- And this was in the paleys of Egiste,
- That in his hous was lord, as him liste;
- And thus day they dryven to an ende;2620
- The frendes taken leve, and hoom they wende.(60)
- The night is come, the bryd shal go to bedde;
- Egiste to his chambre faste him spedde,
- And privily let his doghter calle.[ ]
- Whan that the hous was of hem alle,2625
- He loked on his doghter with glad chere,
- And to her spak, as ye shul here.
- ‘My righte doghter, tresor of myn herte!
- Sin day that shapen was my sherte,[ ]
- Or by the fatal sustren had my dom,2630[ ]
- So ny myn herte never thing me com(70)
- As thou, Ypermistra, dere!
- Tak heed what thy fader thee here,
- And werk after thy wyser ever-mo.
- For alderfirste, doghter, I love thee so2635
- That al the world to me nis half so leef;
- Ne nolde rede thee to thy mischeef
- For al the gode under the colde mone;
- And what I mene, hit shal be seid right sone,
- With protestacioun, wyse,2640[ ]
- That, but thou do as I shal thee devyse,(80)
- Thou shalt be deed, by him that al hath wroght!
- At shorte wordes, thou noght
- Out of my paleys, or that thou be deed,
- But thou consente and werke after my reed;2645
- Tak this to thee for ful conclusioun.’
- This Ypermistra caste her eyen doun,
- And quook as dooth the leef of aspe grene;
- Deed wex her hewe, and lyk as ash to sene,
- And seyde, ‘lord and fader, al your wille,2650
- After my might, god wot, I shal fulfille,(90)
- So hit no confusioun.’
- ‘I nil,’ quod he, ‘have noon excepcioun;’[ ]
- And out he caughte a knyf, as rasour kene;
- ‘Hyd this,’ quod he, ‘that hit be nat ;2655[ ]
- And, whan thyn husbond is to bedde ,
- Whyl that he slepeth, cut his throte a-two.
- For in my dremes hit is warned me
- How that my nevew shal my bane be,
- But whiche I noot, wherfor I wol be siker .2660
- Yif thou sey nay, we two shul a biker(100)
- As I have seyd, by him that I have sworn.’
- This Ypermistra hath ny her wit forlon;
- And, for to passen harmles of that place,
- She graunted him; ther was non other grace.2665
- And ,[ ]
- And seyde, ‘herof a draught, or two ,
- Yif him drinke, whan he goth to reste,
- And he shal slepe as longe as ever thee leste,
- The and been so stronge:2670
- And go thy wey, lest that him thinke .’(110)
- Out comth the bryd, and with ful sober chere,
- As is of maidens ofte the manere,
- To chambre broght with revel and with songe,
- And shortly, lest this tale be to longe,2675
- This Lino and she ben broght to bedde;[ ]
- And every wight out at the dore him spedde.
- The night is wasted, and he fel a-slepe;
- Ful tenderly beginneth she to wepe.
- She rist her up, and dredfully she quaketh,2680[ ]
- As doth the braunche that Zephirus shaketh,(120)
- And were alle in Argon that citee.[ ]
- As cold as any frost now wexeth she;[ ]
- For pite by the herte her so,
- And dreed of death doth her so moche wo,2685
- That thryes doun she fil in .[ ]
- She rist her up, and stakereth heer and there,
- And on her handes faste loketh she.
- ‘Allas! shul my handes blody be?
- I am a maid, and, as by my nature,2690[ ]
- And by my semblant and by my vesture,(130)
- Myn handes been nat shapen for a knyf,
- As for to reve no man fro his lyf.
- What devil have I with the knyf to do?
- And shal I have my throte corve a-two?2695
- Than shal I blede, allas! and beshende;[ ]
- nedes cost this thing mot have an ende;
- Or he or I mot nedes lese our lyf.
- Now certes,’ quod she, ‘sin I am his wyf,
- And hath my feith, yit is it bet for me2700[ ]
- For to be deed in wyfly honestee(140)
- Than be a traitour living in my shame.
- Be as be may, for ernest or for game,
- He shal awake, and ryse and go his way
- Out at this goter , or that hit be day!’—2705
- And weep ful tenderly upon his face,
- And in her armes gan him to embrace,
- And him she roggeth and awaketh softe;
- And window leep he fro the lofte[ ]
- Whan she hath warned him, and doon him bote .2710
- This Lino swifte was, and light of fote,(150)
- And a ful good pas.
- This sely woman is so wayk, allas!
- And helples so, that, she wente,
- Her cruel fader dide her for to hente.2715[ ]
- Allas! Lino! why art thou so unkinde?
- Why ne thou remembred in thy minde
- taken her, and lad her forth with thee?
- For, whan she saw that goon awey was he,
- And that she mighte nat so faste go,2720
- Ne folwen him, she doun right tho,(160)
- she was caught and fetered in prisoun.
- This tale is seid for this conclusioun . . . .
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A TREATISE ON THE ASTROLABE.
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LITELL Lowis my sone, I have perceived wel by certeyne evidences thyn abilite to lerne sciencez touchinge noumbres and proporciouns; and as wel considere I thy bisy preyere in special to lerne the Tretis of the Astrolabie. Than, for as mechel as a philosofre seith, ‘he wrappeth him in his frend, that condescendeth5 to the rightful preyers of his frend,’ ther-for have I geven thee a suffisaunt Astrolabie as for oure orizonte, compowned after the latitude of Oxenford; up-on which, by mediacion of this litel tretis, I purpose to teche thee a certein nombre of conclusions apertening to the same instrument. I seye a certein of conclusiouns,10 for three causes. The furste cause is this: truste wel that alle the conclusiouns that han ben founde, or elles possibly mighten be founde in so noble an instrument as an Astrolabie, ben un-knowe perfitly to any mortal man in this regioun, as I suppose. A-nother cause is this; that sothly, in any tretis of the Astrolabie that I have15 seyn, there ben some conclusions that wole nat in alle thinges performen hir bihestes; and some of hem ben to harde to thy tendre age of ten yeer to conseyve. This tretis, divided in fyve parties, wole I shewe thee under ful lighte rewles and naked20 wordes in English; for Latin ne canstow yit but smal, my lyte sone. But natheles, suffyse to thee thise trewe conclusiouns in English, as wel as suffyseth to thise noble clerkes Grekes thise same conclusiouns in Greek, and to Arabiens in Arabik, and to Iewes in Ebrew, and to the Latin folk in Latin; whiche Latin folk han hem25 furst out of othre diverse langages, and writen in hir owne tonge, that is to sein, in Latin. And god wot, that in alle thise langages, and in many mo, han thise conclusiouns ben suffisantly lerned and taught, and yit by diverse rewles, right as diverse pathes leden diverse folk the righte wey to Rome. Now wol I prey meekly30 every discret persone that redeth or hereth this litel tretis, to have my rewde endyting for excused, and my superfluite of wordes, for two causes. The firste cause is, for that curious endyting and hard [ ] sentence is ful hevy atones for swich a child to lerne. And the seconde cause is this, that sothly me semeth betre to wryten un-to35 a child twyes a good sentence, than he for-gete it ones. And Lowis, yif so be that I shewe thee in my lighte English as trewe conclusiouns touching this matere, and naught only as trewe but as many and as subtil conclusiouns as ben shewed in Latin in any commune tretis of the Astrolabie, con me the more thank; and40 preye god save the king, that is lord of this langage, and alle that him feyth bereth and obeyeth, everech in his degree, the more and the lasse. But considere wel, that I ne usurpe nat to have founde this werk of my labour or of myn engin. I nam but a lewd compilatour of the labour of olde Astrologiens, and have hit translated45 in myn English only for thy doctrine; and with this swerd shal I sleen envye.
I. The firste partie of this tretis shal reherse the figures and the membres of thyn Astrolabie, bi-cause that thou shalt han the grettre knowing of thyn owne instrument.
II. The second partie shal teche thee werken the verrey50 practik of the forseide conclusiouns, as ferforth and as narwe as may be shewed in so smal an instrument portatif aboute. For wel wot every astrologien that smalest fraccions ne wol nat ben shewed in so smal an instrument, as in subtil tables calculed for a cause.55
III. The thridde partie shal contienen diverse tables of longitudes and latitudes of sterres fixe for the Astrolabie, and tables of declinacions of the sonne, and tables of longitudes of citeez and of townes; and as wel for the governance of a clokke as for to finde the altitude meridian; and many another60 notable conclusioun, after the kalendres of the reverent clerkes, frere I. Somer and frere N. Lenne.[ ]
IV. The ferthe partie shal ben a theorik to declare the moevinge of the celestial bodies with the causes. The whiche ferthe partie in special shal shewen a table of the verray65 moeving of the mone from houre to houre, every day and in every signe, after thyn almenak; upon which table ther folwith a canon, suffisant to teche as wel the maner of the wyrking of that same conclusioun, as to knowe in oure orizonte with which degree of the zodiac that the mone ariseth in any latitude;70 and the arising of any planete after his latitude fro the ecliptik lyne.
V. The fifte partie shal ben an introductorie after the statutz of oure doctours, in which thou maist lerne a gret part of the general rewles of theorik in astrologie. In which fifte partie75 shaltow finde tables of equacions of houses aftur the latitude of Oxenford; and tables of dignetes of planetes, and other noteful thinges, yif god wol vouche-sauf and his modur the mayde, mo than I be-hete, &c.
Little Lewis my son, I perceive that thou wouldst learn the Conclusions of the AStrolabe; wherefore I have given thee an instrument constructed for the latitude of Oxford, and purpose to teach thee some of these conclusions. I say some, for three reasons; (1) because some of them are unknown in this land; (2) because some are uncertain; or else (3) are too hard. This treatise, divided into five parts, I write for thee in English, just as Greeks, Arabians, Jews, and Romans were accustomed to write such things in their own tongue I pray all to excuse my shortcomings; and thou, Lewis, shouldst thank me if I teach thee as much in English as most common treatises can do in Latin. I have done no more than compile from old writers on the subject, and I have translated it into English solely for thine instruction; and with this sword shall I slay envy.
The first part gives a description of the instrument itself.
The second teaches the practical working of it.
The third shall contain tables of latitudes and longitudes of fixed stars, declinations of the sun, and the longitudes of certain towns.
The fourth shall shew the motions of the heavenly bodies, and especially of the moon.
The fifth shall teach a great part of the general rules of astronomical theory.
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Here biginneth the descripcion of the Astrolabie.
1. Thyn Astrolabie hath a ring to putten on the thoumbe of thy right hand in taking the heighte of thinges. And tak keep, for from hennes-forthward, I wol clepe the heighte of any thing that is taken by thy rewle, the altitude, with-oute mo wordes.
2. This ring renneth in a maner turet, fast to the moder of thyn Astrolabie, in so rowm a space that hit desturbeth nat the instrument to hangen after his righte centre.
3.The Moder of thyn Astrolabie is the thikkeste plate, perced with a large hole, that resseyveth in hir wombe the thinne plates compowned for diverse clymatz, and thy riet shapen in manere of a net or of a webbe of a loppe; and for the more declaracioun,5 lo here the figure.
4. This moder is devyded on the bak-half with a lyne, that cometh dessendinge fro the ring down to the nethereste bordure. The whiche lyne, fro the for-seide ring un-to the centre of the large hole amidde, is cleped the south lyne, or elles the lyne5 meridional. And the remenant of this lyne downe to the bordure is cleped the north lyne, or elles the lyne of midnight. And for the more declaracioun, lo here the figure.
5. Over-thwart this for-seide longe lyne, ther crosseth him another lyne of the same lengthe from est to west. Of the whiche lyne, from a litel croys + in the bordure un-to the centre of the large hole, is cleped the Est lyne, or elles the lyne Orientale; and the remenant of this lyne fro the forseide + un-to the bordure,5 is cleped the West lyne, or the lyne Occidentale. Now hastow here the foure quarters of thin Astrolabie, devyded after the foure principals plages or quarters of the firmament. And for the more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.
6. The est side of thyn Astrolabie is cleped the right side, and the west side is cleped the left side. Forget nat this, litel Lowis. Put the ring of thyn Astrolabie upon the thoumbe of thy right hand, and thanne wole his right syde be toward thy left syde, and his left syde wol be toward thy right syde; tak this rewle general,5 as wel on the bak as on the wombe-side. Upon the ende of this est lyne, as I first seide, is marked a litel +, wher-as evere-mo generaly is considered the entring of the first degree in which the sonne aryseth. And for the more declaracioun, lo here the figure.10
7. Fro this litel + up to the ende of the lyne meridional, under the ring, shaltow finden the bordure devyded with 90 degrees; and by that same proporcioun is every quarter of thin Astrolabie devyded. Over the whiche degrees ther ben noumbres of augrim , that devyden thilke same degrees fro fyve to fyve, as sheweth by5 longe strykes by-twene. Of whiche longe strykes the space bytwene contienith a mile-wey. And every degree of the bordure contieneth foure minutes, that is to seyn, minutes of an houre. And for more declaracioun, lo here the figure.
8. Under the compas of thilke degrees ben writen the names of the Twelve Signes, as Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricornus, Aquarius, Pisces; and the nombres of the degrees of tho signes ben writen in augrim5 above, and with longe devisiouns, fro fyve to fyve; devyded fro tyme that the signe entreth un-to the laste ende. But understond wel, that thise degrees of signes ben everich of hem considered of 60 minutes, and every minute of 60 secondes, and so forth in-to smale fraccions infinit, as seith Alkabucius . And10 ther-for, know wel, that a degree of the bordure contieneth foure minutes, and a degree of a signe contieneth 60 minutes, and have this in minde. And for the more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.
9. Next this folweth the Cercle of the Dayes, that ben figured in maner of degrees, that contienen in noumbre 365; divyded also with longe strykes fro fyve to fyve, and the nombres in augrim writen under that cercle. And for more declaracioun, lo5 here thy figure.
10. Next the Cercle of the Dayes, folweth the Cercle of the names of the Monthes; that is to seyen, Ianuare, Februare, Marcius, Aprile, Mayus, Iuin, Iulius, Augustus, Septembre, October, Novembre, Decembre. The names of thise monthes5 were cleped in Arabiens , somme for hir propretees, and some by statutz of lordes, some by other lordes of Rome. Eek of thise monthes, as lyked to Iulius Cesar and to Cesar Augustus, some were compowned of diverse nombres of dayes, as Iuil and August. Thanne hath Ianuare 31 dayes, Februare 28, March10 31, Aprille 30, May 31, Iunius 30, Iulius 31, Augustus 31, September 30, Octobre 31, Novembre 30, December 31. Natheles, al-though that Iulius Cesar took 2 dayes out of Feverer and put hem in his moneth of Iuille, and Augustus Cesar cleped the moneth of August after his name, and ordeyned it of 31 dayes, yit truste wel, that the sonne dwelleth ther-for nevere the more ne15 lesse in oon signe than in another.
11. Than folwen the names of the Halidayes in the Kalender, and next hem the lettres of the Abc. on which they fallen. And for the more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.
12. Next the forseide Cercle of the Abc., under the cros-lyne, is marked the scale, in maner of two squyres, or elles in manere of laddres, that serveth by hise 12 poyntes and his devisiouns of ful many a subtil conclusioun. Of this forseide scale, fro the cross-lyne un-to the verre angle, is cleped umbra versa, and the5nether partie is cleped the umbra recta, or elles umbra extensa. And for the more declaracioun, lo here the figure.
13. Thanne hastow a brood Rewle, that hath on either ende a square plate perced with a certein holes, some more and some lesse, to resseyven the stremes of the sonne by day, and eek by mediacioun of thyn eye, to knowe the altitude of sterres by nighte. And for the more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.5
14. Thanne is ther a large Pyn, in maner of an extree, that goth thorow the hole that halt the tables of the clymates and the riet in the wombe of the Moder, thorw which Pyn ther goth a litel wegge which that is cleped ‘the hors,’ that streyneth alle5 thise parties to-hepe; this forseide grete Pyn, in maner of an extree, is imagined to be the Pol Artik in thyn Astrolabie. And for the more declaracioun, lo here the figure.
15. The wombe-side of thyn Astrolabie is also devyded with a longe croys in foure quarters from est to west, fro south to north, fro right syde to left syde, as is the bak-syde. And for the more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.
16. The bordure of which wombe-side is devyded fro the poynt of the est lyne un-to the poynt of the south lyne under the ring, in 90 degres; and by that same proporcioun is every quarter devyded as is the bak-syde, that amonteth 360 degrees. And5 understond wel, that degrees of this bordure ben answering and consentrik to the degrees of the Equinoxial, that is devyded in the same nombre as every othere cercle is in the heye hevene. This same bordure is devyded also with 23 lettres capitals and a smal croys + above the south lyne, that sheweth the 24 houres10 equals of the clokke; and, as I have said, 5 of thise degrees maken a mile-wey, and 3 mile-wey maken an houre. And every degree of this bordure conteneth 4 minutes, and every minut 60 secoundes ; now have I told thee twye. And for the more declaracioun, lo here the figure.
17. The plate under thy riet is descryved with 3 principal cercles; of whiche the leste is cleped the cercle of Cancer, by-cause that the heved of Cancer turneth evermor consentrik up-on the same cercle. In this heved of Cancer is the grettest declinacioun northward of the sonne. And ther-for is he cleped the5 Solsticioun of Somer; whiche declinacioun, aftur Ptholome , is 23 degrees and 50 minutes, as wel in Cancer as in Capricorne. This signe of Cancre is cleped the Tropik of Somer, of tropos, that is to seyn ‘agaynward’; for thanne by-ginneth the sonne to passe fro us-ward. And for the more declaracioun, lo here the figure.10
The middel cercle in wydnesse, of thise 3, is cleped the Cercle Equinoxial; up-on whiche turneth evermo the hedes of Aries and Libra. And understond wel, that evermo this Cercle Equinoxial turneth iustly fro verrey est to verrey west; as I have shewed thee in the spere solide. This same cercle is cleped also the Weyere,15equator, of the day; for whan the sonne is in the hevedes of Aries and Libra, than ben the dayes and the nightes ilyke of lengthe in al the world. And ther-fore ben thise two signes called the Equinoxies. And alle that moeveth with-in the hevedes of thise Aries and Libra, his moeving is cleped north-ward;20 and alle that moeveth with-oute thise hevedes, his moeving is cleped south-ward as fro the equinoxial. Tak keep of thise latitudes north and sowth, and forget it nat. By this Cercle Equinoxial ben considered the 24 houres of the clokke; for25 everemo the arysing of 15 degrees of the equinoxial maketh an houre equal of the clokke. This equinoxial is cleped the girdel of the firste moeving, or elles of the angulus primi motus vel primi mobilis . And nota, that firste moeving is cleped ‘moeving’ of the firste moevable of the 8 spere, whiche moeving is fro est to30 west, and eft agayn in-to est; also it is clepid ‘girdel’ of the first moeving, for it departeth the firste moevable, that is to seyn, the spere, in two ilyke parties, evene-distantz fro the poles of this world.
The wydeste of thise three principal cercles is cleped the35 Cercle of Capricorne, by-cause that the heved of Capricorne turneth evermo consentrik up-on the same cercle. In the heved of this for-seide Capricorne is the grettest declinacioun southward of the sonne, and ther-for is it cleped the Solsticioun of Winter. This signe of Capricorne is also cleped the Tropik of Winter, for40 thanne byginneth the sonne to come agayn to us-ward. And for the more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.
18. Upon this forseide plate ben compassed certein cercles that highten Almicanteras, of which som of hem semen perfit cercles, and somme semen imperfit. The centre that standith a-middes the narwest cercle is cleped the Senith; and the5 netherest cercle, or the firste cercle, is clepid the Orisonte, that is to seyn, the cercle that devydeth the two emisperies, that is, the partie of the hevene a-bove the erthe and the partie be-nethe. Thise Almicanteras ben compowned by two and two, al-be-it so that on divers Astrolabies some Almicanteras ben devyded by oon,10 and some by two, and somme by three, after the quantite of the Astrolabie. This forseide senith is imagened to ben the verrey point over the crowne of thyn heved; and also this senith is the verrey pool of the orisonte in every regioun. And for the more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.
19. From this senith, as it semeth, ther come a maner crokede strykes lyke to the clawes of a loppe, or elles like to the werk of a womanes calle, in kerving overthwart the Almikanteras. And thise same strykes or divisiouns ben cleped Azimuthz. And they devyden the orisonte of thyn Astrolabie in four and twenty5 devisiouns. And thise Azimutz serven to knowe the costes of the firmament, and to othre conclusiouns, as for to knowe the cenith of the sonne and of every sterre. And for more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.
20. Next thise azimutz, under the Cercle of Cancer, ben ther twelve devisiouns embelif, moche like to the shap of the azimutes, that shewen the spaces of the houres of planetes; and for more declaracioun, lo here thy figure .
21. The Riet of thyn Astrolabie with thy zodiak, shapen in maner of a net or of a loppe-webbe after the olde descripcioun, which thow mayst tornen up and doun as thy-self lyketh, conteneth certein nombre of sterres fixes , with hir longitudes and latitudes determinat; yif so be that the makere have nat erred. The names5 of the sterres ben writen in the margin of the riet ther as they sitte; of whiche sterres the smale poynt is cleped the Centre. [ ] And understond also that alle sterres sittinge with-in the zodiak of thyn Astrolabie ben cleped ‘sterres of the north,’ for they arysen by northe the est lyne. And alle the remenant fixed, out of the10 zodiak, ben cleped ‘sterres of the south;’ but I sey nat that they arysen alle by southe the est lyne; witnesse on Aldeberan and Algomeysa. Generally understond this rewle, that thilke sterres that ben cleped sterres of the north arysen rather than the degree15 of hir longitude, and alle the sterres of the south arysen after the degree of hir longitude; this is to seyn, sterres fixed in thyn Astrolabie. The mesure of this longitude of sterres is taken in the lyne ecliptik of hevene, under which lyne, whan that the sonne and the mone ben lyne-right or elles in the superfice of this lyne,20 than is the eclips of the sonne or of the mone; as I shal declare, and eek the cause why. But sothly the Ecliptik Lyne of thy zodiak is the outtereste bordure of thy zodiak, ther the degrees ben marked.
Thy Zodiak of thyn Astrolabie is shapen as a compas which that25 conteneth a large brede, as after the quantite of thyn Astrolabie; in ensample that the zodiak in hevene is imagened to ben a superfice contening a latitude of twelve degrees, wheras al the remenant of cercles in the hevene ben imagined verrey lynes with-oute eny latitude. Amiddes this celestial zodiak ys imagined a lyne, which30 that is cleped the Ecliptik Lyne, under which lyne is evermo the wey of the sonne. Thus ben ther six degrees of the zodiak on that on side of the lyne, and six degrees on that other. This zodiak is devided in twelve principal devisiouns, that departen the twelve signes. And, for the streitnes of thin Astrolabie, than is35 every smal devisioun in a signe departid by two degrees and two; I mene degrees contening sixty minutes. And this forseide hevenissh zodiak is cleped the Cercle of the Signes, or the Cercle of the Bestes; for zodia in langage of Greek sowneth ‘bestes’ in Latin tonge; and in the zodiak ben the twelve signes that han40 names of bestes; or elles, for whan the sonne entreth in any of the [ ] signes, he taketh the propretee of swich bestes; or elles, for that the sterres that ben there fixed ben disposed in signes of bestes, or shape like bestes; or elles, whan the planetes ben under thilke signes, they causen us by hir influence operaciouns and effectes lyk to the operaciouns of bestes. And understonde also, that whan45 an hot planete cometh in-to an hot signe, than encresseth his hete, and yif a planete be cold, thanne amenuseth his coldnesse, by-cause of the hote signe. And by this conclusioun maystow take ensample in alle the signes, be they moist or drye, or moeble or fix; rekening the qualitee of the planete as I first seide. And everich of[ ]50 thise twelve signes hath respecte to a certein parcelle of the body of a man and hath it in governance; as Aries hath thyn heved, and Taurus thy nekke and thy throte, Gemini thyn armholes and thyn armes, and so forth; as shal be shewed more pleyn in the fifte [ ] partie of this tretis. This zodiak, which that is part of the eighte55 spere, over-kerveth the equinoxial; and he over-kerveth him again in evene parties ; and that on half declineth southward, and that other northward, as pleynly declareth the tretis of the spere. And for more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.
22. Thanne hastow a label, that is schapen lyk a rewle, save that it is streit and hath no plates on either ende with holes; but, with the smale point of the forseide label, shaltow calcule thyne equaciouns in the bordure of thin Astrolabie, as by thyn almury. And for the more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.5
23. Thyn Almury is cleped the Denticle of Capricorne, or elles the Calculer. This same Almury sit fix in the hed of Capricorne, and it serveth of many a necessarie conclusioun in equaciouns of thinges, as shal be shewed; and for the more declaracioun, lo here5 thy figure.
Here endeth the descripcion of the Astrolabie.
Here begins the first part; i. e. the description of the Astrolabe itself.
1.The Ring. See figs. 1 and 2. The Latin name is Armilla suspensoria; the Arabic name is spelt alhahuacia in MS. Camb. Univ. li. 3. 3, but Stöffler says it is Alanthica, Alphantia, or Abalhantica. For the meaning of ‘rewle,’ see § 13.
2.The Turet. This answers nearly to what we call an eye or a swivel. The metal plate, or loop, to which it is fastened, or in which it turns, is called in Latin Ansa or Armilla Reflexa, in Arabic Alhabos.
3.The Moder. In Latin, Mater or Rotula. This forms the body of the instrument, the back of which is shewn in fig. 1, the front in fig. 2. The ‘large hole’ is the wide depression sunk in the front of it, into which the various discs are dropped. In the figure, the ‘Rete’ is shewn fitted into it.
4. See fig. 1; Chaucer describes the ‘bak-half’ of the instrument first. The centre of the ‘large hole amydde’ is the centre of the instrument, where a smaller hole is pierced completely through. The Southe lyne (marked Meridies in figs. 1 and 2) is also called Linea Meridiei; the North lyne is also named Linea Mediæ Noctis.
5. The Est lyne is marked with the word Oriens; the West lyne, with Occidens.
6. The rule is the same as in heraldry, the right or dexter side being towards the spectator’s left.
7. As the 360 degrees answer to 24 hours of time, 15° answer to an hour, and 5° to twenty minutes, or a Mile-way, as it is the average time for walking a mile. So also 1° answers to 4 minutes of time. See the two outermost circles in fig. 1, and the divisions of the ‘border’ in fig. 2.
8. See the third and fourth circles (reckoning inwards) in fig. 1.
9. See the fifth and sixth circles in fig. 1.
10. See the seventh, eighth, and ninth circles in fig. 1. The names of the months are all Roman. The month formerly called Quinctilis was first called Julius in 44; that called Sextilis was named Augustus in 27. It is a mistake to say that Julius and Augustus made the alterations spoken of in the text; what Julius Cæsar really did, was to add 2 days to the months of January, August (Sextilis), and December, and 1 day to April, June, September, and November. February never had more than 28 days till he introduced bissextile years.
11. See the two inmost circles in fig. 1. The names given are adopted from a comparison of the figures in the Cambridge University and Trinity MSS., neither of which are quite correct. The letters of the ‘Abc.’ are what we now call the Sunday letters. The festivals marked are those of St. Paul (Jan. 25), The Purification (Feb. 2), The Annunciation (Mar. 25), The Invention of the Holy Cross (May 3), St. John the Baptist (June 24), St. James (July 25), St. Lawrence (Aug. 10), The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin (Sept. 8), St. Luke (Oct. 18), St. Martin of Tours (Nov. 11), and St. Thomas (Dec. 21).
12. The ‘scale’ is in Latin Quadrans, or Scala Altimetra. It is certain that Chaucer has here made a slip, which cannot be fairly laid to the charge of the scribes, as the MSS. agree in transposing versa and recta. The side-parts of the scale are called Umbra versa, the lower part Umbra recta or extensa. This will appear more clearly at the end of Part II. (I here give a corrected text.)
13. See fig. 3, Plate III. Each plate turns on a hinge, just like the ‘sights’ of a gun. One is drawn flat down, the other partly elevated. Each plate (tabella vel pinnula) has two holes, the smaller one being the lower. This Rewle is named in Arabic Alhidada or Alidada in Latin Verticulum, from its turning easily on the centre; in Greek Dioptra, as carrying the sights. The straight edge, passing through the centre, is called the Linea Fiduciæ. It is pierced by a hole in the centre, of the same size as that in the Mother.
14. See fig. 4, Plate III. The Pin is also called Axis or Clavus, in Latin-Arabic Alchitot; it occupies the position of the Arctic or North Pole, passing through the centre of the plates that are required to turn round it. The Wedge is called cuneus, or equus restringens, in Arabic Alfaras or the horse, because it was sometimes cut into the shape of a horse, as shewn in fig. 7, Plate IV, which is copied from MS. Univ. Camb. Ii. 3. 3.
15. See fig. 2, Plate II. In the figure, the cross-lines are partly hidden by the Rete, which is separate and removable, and revolves within the border.
16. The Border was also called Margilabrum, Margolabrum, or Limbus. It is marked (as explained) with hour-letters and degrees. Each degree contains 4 minutes of time, and each of these minutes contains 60 seconds of time.
17. We may place under the Rete any plates we please. If only the Mother be under it, without any plate, we may suppose the Mother marked as in fig. 2. The plate or disc (tympanum) which was usually dropped in under the Rete is that shewn in fig. 5, Plate III, and which Chaucer now describes. Any number of these, marked differently for different latitudes, could be provided for the Astrolabe. The greatest declination of the sun measures the obliquity of the ecliptic, the true value of which is slightly variable, but was about 23° 31′ in Chaucer’s time, and about 23° 40′ in the time of Ptolemy, who certainly assigns to it too large a value. The value of it must be known before the three circles can be drawn. The method of finding their relative magnitudes is very simple. Let ABCD (fig. 8, Pl. IV) be the tropic of Capricorn, BO the South line, OC the West line. Make the angle EOB equal to the obliquity (say 23½°), and join EA, meeting BO in F. Then OF is the radius of the Equatorial circle, and if GH be drawn parallel to EF, OH is the radius of the Tropic of Cancer. In the phrase angulus primi motus, angulus must be taken to mean angular motion. The ‘first moving’ (primus motus) has its name of ‘moving’ (motus) from its denoting motion due to the primum mobile or ‘first moveable.’ This primum mobile (usually considered as the ninth sphere) causes the rotation of the eighth sphere, or sphæra stellarum fixarum. See the fig. in MS. Camb. Univ. Ii. 3. 3 (copied in fig. 10, PL V). Some authors make 12 heavens, viz. those of the 7 planets, the firmamentum (stellarum fixarum), the nonum cœlum, decimum cœlum, primum mobile, and cœlum empyræum.
18. See fig. 5, Pl. III. This is made upon the alt-azimuth system, and the plates are marked according to the latitude. The circles, called in Latin circuli progressionum, in Arabic Almucantarät, are circles of altitude, the largest imperfect one representing the horizon (horizon obliquus), and the central dot being the zenith, or pole of the horizon. In my figure, they are ‘compounded by’ 5 and 5, but Chaucer’s shewed every second degree, i. e. it possessed 45 such circles. For the method of drawing them, see Stöffler, leaf 5, back.
19. Some Astrolabes shew 18 of these azimuthal circles, as in my figure (fig. 5, Pl. III). See Stöffler, leaf 13, where will be found also the rules for drawing them.
20. If accurately drawn, these embelife or oblique lines should divide the portions of the three circles below the horizon obliquus into twelve equal parts. Thus each arc is determined by having to pass through three known points. They are called arcus horarum inequalium, as they shew the ‘houres inequales.’
21. In fig. 2, Pl. II, the Rete is shewn as it appears when dropped into the depression in the front of the instrument. The shape of it varied much, and another drawing of one (copied from Camb. Univ. MS. Ii. 3. 3, fol. 66 b) is given in fig. 9, Pl. IV. The positions of the stars are marked by the extreme points of the metal tongues. Fig. 2 is taken from the figures in the Cambridge MSS., but the positions of the stars have been corrected by the list of latitudes and longitudes given by Stöffler, whom I have followed, not because he is correct, but because he probably represents their positions as they were supposed to be in Chaucer’s time very nearly indeed. There was not room to inscribe the names of all the stars on the Rete, and to have written them on the plate below would have conveyed a false impression. A list of the stars marked in fig. 2 is given in the note to § 21, l. 4. The Ecliptic is the circle which crosses the Equinoctial at its East and West points (fig. 2). In Chaucer’s description of the zodiac, carefully note the distinction between the Zodiac of the Astrolabe and the Zodiac of Heaven. The former is only six degrees broad, and shews only the northern half of the heavenly zodiac, the breadth of which is imagined to be 12 degrees. Chaucer’s zodiac only shewed every other degree in the divisions round its border. This border is divided by help of a table of right ascensions of the various degrees of the ecliptic, which is by no means easily done. See Note on l. 4 of this section. I may add that the Rete is also called Aranea or Volvellum; in Arabic, Al’ancabūt (the spider).
22.The Label. See fig. 6, Pl. III. The label is more usually used on the front of the instrument, where the Rete and other plates revolve. The rule is used on the back, for taking altitudes by help of the scale.
23.The Almury; called also denticulus, ostensor, or ‘calculer.’ In fig. 2, it may be seen that the edge of the Rete is cut away near the head of Capricorn, leaving only a small pointed projecting tongue, which is the almury or denticle, or (as we should now say) pointer. As the Rete revolves, it points to the different degrees of the border. See also fig. 9, where the almury is plainly marked.
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Here biginnen the Conclusions of the Astrolabie.
To fynde the degree in which the sonne is day by day, after hir cours a-boute.
[Hic incipiunt Conclusiones Astrolabii; et prima est ad inveniendum gradus solis in quibus singulis diebus secundum cursum sol est existens.]
Rekene and knowe which is the day of thy monthe; and ley [ ] thy rewle up that same day; and thanne wol the verray point of thy rewle sitten in the bordure, up-on the degree of thy sonne. Ensample as thus; the yeer of oure lord 1391, the 12 day of5 March at midday, I wolde knowe the degree of the sonne. [ ] I soughte in the bak-half of myn Astrolabie, and fond the cercle of the dayes, the which I knowe by the names of the monthes writen under the same cercle. Tho leide I my rewle over this forseide day, and fond the point of my rewle in the bordure up-on the10 firste degree of Aries, a litel with-in the degree; and thus knowe I this conclusioun. Another day, I wolde knowe the degree of my sonne, and this was at midday in the 13 day of Decembre; I fond the day of the monthe in maner as I seide; tho leide I my rewle up-on this forseide 13 day, and fond the point of my rewle in the bordure up-on the first degree of Capricorne, a lite with-in15 the degree; and than hadde I of this conclusioun the ful experience. And for the more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.
To knowe the altitude of the sonne, or of othre celestial bodies.
[De altitudine solis et aliorum corporum supra celestium.]
Put the ring of thyn Astrolabie up-on thy right thoumbe, and turne thy lift syde agayn the light of the sonne. And remeve thy rewle up and doun, til that the stremes of the sonne shyne thorgh bothe holes of thy rewle. Loke thanne how many degrees thy rewle is areised fro the litel crois up-on thyn est line, and tak5 ther the altitude of thy sonne. And in this same wyse maistow knowe by nighte the altitude of the mone, or of brighte sterres. This chapitre is so general ever in oon, that ther nedith no more declaracion; but forget it nat. And for the more declaracioun, lo here the figure.10
To knowe every tyme of the day by light of the sonne, and every tyme of the night by the sterres fixe, and eke to knowe by night or by day the degree of any signe that assendeth on the Est Orisonte, which that is cleped communly the Assendent, or elles Oruscupum.
[Ad cognoscendum quodlibet tempus diei per solis indicacionem, et quodlibet tempus noctis per quasdam stellas in celo fixas; ac eciam ad inveniendum et cognoscendum signum super orizontem qui communiter vocatur ascendens.]
Tak the altitude of the sonne whan thee list, as I have said; and set the degree of the sonne, in cas that it be by-forn the middel of the day, among thyn almikanteras on the est side of thyn Astrolabie; and yif it be after the middel of the day, set the degree 5 of thy sonne up-on the west side; tak this manere of setting for a general rewle, ones for evere. And whan thou hast set the degree of thy sonne up as many almikanteras of heyghte as was the altitude of the sonne taken by thy rewle, ley over thy label, up-on the degree of the sonne; and thanne wol the point of thy label10 sitten in the bordure, up-on the verrey tyd of the day. Ensample as thus: the yeer of oure lord 1391, the 12 day of March, I wold knowe the tyd of the day. I took the altitude of my sonne, and fond that it was 25 degrees and 30 of minutes of heyghte in the bordure on the bak-syde. Tho turnede I myn Astrolabie, and by-cause15 that it was by-forn midday, I turnede my riet, and sette the degree of the sonne, that is to seyn, the 1 degree of Aries, on the right syde of myn Astrolabie, up-on that 25 degrees and 30 of minutes of heyghte among myn almikanteras; tho leide I my label up-on the degree of my sonne, and fond the poynte of my label in20 the bordure, up-on a capital lettre that is cleped an X; tho rekened I alle the capitalles lettres fro the lyne of midnight un-to this forseide lettre X, and fond that it was 9 of the clokke of the day. Tho loked I down up-on the est orisonte, and fond there the 20 degree of Geminis assending; which that I tok for myn assendent .25 And in this wyse hadde I the experience for ever-mo in which maner I sholde knowe the tyd of the day, and eek myn assendent. Tho wolde I wite the same night folwing the hour of the night, and wroughte in this wyse. Among an heep of sterris fixe, it lyked me for to take the altitude of the feire white sterre that is30 cleped Alhabor ; and fond hir sitting on the west side of the lyne of midday, 18 degres of heighte taken by my rewle on the bak-syde Tho sette I the centre of this Alhabor up-on 18 degrees among myn almikanteras, up-on the west syde; by-cause that she was founden on the west syde. Tho leide I my label over the degree of the sonne that was descended under the weste orisonte, and35 rikened alle the lettres capitals fro the lyne of midday un-to the point of my label in the bordure; and fond that it was passed 8 of the clokke the space of 2 degrees . Tho loked I doun up-on myn est orisonte, and fond ther 23 degrees of Libra assending, whom I tok for myn assendent; and thus lerned I to knowe ones for ever40 in which manere I shuld come to the houre of the night and to myn assendent; as verryly as may be taken by so smal an instrument. But natheles, in general, wolde I warne thee for evere, ne mak thee nevere bold to have take a iust ascendent by thyn Astrolabie, or elles to have set iustly a clokke, whan any celestial45 body by which that thow wenest governe thilke thinges ben ney the south lyne; for trust wel, whan that the sonne is ney the meridional lyne, the degree of the sonne renneth so longe consentrik up-on the almikanteras, that sothly thou shalt erre fro the iust assendent. The same conclusioun sey I by the centre of any50 sterre fix by night; and more-over, by experience, I wot wel that in oure orisonte, from 11 of the clokke un-to oon of the clokke, in taking of a iust assendent in a portatif Astrolabie, hit is to hard to knowe. I mene, from 11 of the clokke biforn the houre of noon til oon of the clok next folwing. And for the more declaracion,55 lo here thy figure.
Special declaracion of the assendent.[ ]
[Specialis declaracio de ascendente.]
The assendent sothly, as wel in alle nativitez as in questiouns and elecciouns of tymes, is a thing which that thise astrologiens gretly observen; wher-fore me semeth convenient, sin that I speke of the assendent, to make of it special declaracioun. The assendent sothly, to take it at the largeste , is thilke degree that5 assendeth at any of thise forseide tymes upon the est orisonte; and there-for, yif that any planet assende at that same tyme in thilke for-seide degree of his longitude , men seyn that thilke planete isin horoscopo. But sothly, the hous of the assendent,10 that is to seyn, the firste hous or the est angle, is a thing more brood and large. For after the statutz of astrologiens, what celestial body that is 5 degres above thilk degree that assendeth, or with-in that noumbre, that is to seyn, nere the degree that assendeth, yit rikne they thilke planet in the assendent. And15 what planete that is under thilke degree that assendith the space of 25 degrees , yit seyn they that thilke planete is lyk to him that is in the hous of the assendent; but sothly, yif he passe the bondes of thise forseide spaces, above or bynethe, they seyn that the planete is failling fro the assendent. Yit sein thise20 astrologiens, that the assendent, and eke the lord of the assendent, may be shapen for to be fortunat or infortunat, as thus: a fortunat [ ] assendent clepen they whan that no wykkid planete, as Saturne or Mars, or elles the Tail of the Dragoun, is in the hous of the assendent, ne that no wikked planete have non aspecte of enemite25 up-on the assendent; but they wol caste that they have a fortunat planete in hir assendent and yit in his felicitee, and than sey they that it is wel. Forther-over, they seyn that the infortuning of an assendent is the contrarie of thise forseide thinges. The lord of the assendent, sey they, that he is fortunat, whan he is in good30 place fro the assendent as in angle; or in a succedent, where-as he is in his dignitee and conforted with frendly aspectes of planetes and wel resceived, and eek that he may seen the assendent, and [ ] that he be nat retrograd ne combust , ne ioigned with no shrewe in the same signe; ne that he be nat in his descencioun, ne35 ioigned with no planete in his discencioun, ne have up-on him non aspecte infortunat; and than sey they that he is wel. Natheles, thise ben observauncez of iudicial matiere and rytes of payens, in which my spirit ne hath no feith, ne no knowing of hir horoscopum; for they seyn that every signe is departed in 3 evene40 parties by 10 degrees, and thilke porcioun they clepe a Face . And al-thogh that a planete have a latitude fro the ecliptik, yit sey some folk , so that the planete aryse in that same signe with any degree of the forseide face in which his longitude is rekned, that yit is the planete in horoscopo, be it in nativite or in eleccioun, &c. And for the more declaracioun, lo here the figure.45
To knowe the verrey equacioun of the degree of the sonne, yif so be that it falle by-twixe thyn Almikanteras.
[Ad cognoscendum veram equacionem de gradu solis, si contigerit fore in duas Almicanteras.]
For as moche as the almikanteras in thyn Astrolabie been compouned by two and two, where-as some almikanteras in sondry Astrolabies ben compouned by on and on, or elles by two and two , it is necessarie to thy lerning to teche thee first to knowe and worke with thyn owne instrument. Wher-for, whan that the5 degree of thy sonne falleth by-twixe two almikanteras, or elles yif thyn almikanteras ben graven with over gret a point of a compas, (for bothe thise thinges may causen errour as wel in knowing of the tyd of the day as of the verrey assendent), thou most werken in this wyse. Set the degree of thy sonne up-on the heyer10 almikanteras of bothe, and waite wel wher as thin almury toucheth the bordure, and set ther a prikke of inke. Set doun agayn the degree of thy sonne up-on the nethere almikanteras of bothe, and set ther another prikke. Remewe thanne thyn almury in the bordure evene amiddes bothe prikkes, and this wol lede iustly the15 degree of thy sonne to sitte by-twixe bothe almikanteras in his right place. Ley thanne thy label over the degree of thy sonne; and find in the bordure the verrey tyde of the day or of the night. And as verreyly shaltow finde up-on thyn est orisonte thyn assendent. And for more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.20
To knowe the spring of the dawing and the ende of the evening, the which ben called the two crepusculis:
[Ad cognoscendum ortum solis et eius occasum, que vocatur vulgariter crepusculum.]
Set the nadir of thy sonne up-on 18 degrees of heighte among thyn almikanteras on the west syde, and ley thy label on the degree of thy sonne, and thanne shal the poynt of thy label schewe the spring of day. Also set the nadir of thy sonne up-on 18 degrees5 of heighte a-mong thyn almikanteras on the est side, and ley over thy label up-on the degree of the sonne, and with the point of thy label find in the bordure the ende of the evening, that is, verrey night. The nadir of the sonne is thilke degree that is opposit to the degree of the sonne, in the seventhe signe , as thus:[ ]10 every degree of Aries by ordre is nadir to every degree of Libra by ordre; and Taurus to Scorpion; Gemini to Sagittare; Cancer to Capricorne; Leo to Aquarie; Virgo to Pisces; and yif any degree in thy zodiak be dirk, his nadir shal declare him. And for the more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.
To knowe the arch of the day, that some folk callen the day artificial, from the sonne arysing til hit go to reste.
[Ad cognoscendum archum diei, quem vulgus vocat diem artificialem, in hoc, ab ortu solis usque ad occasum.]
Set the degree of thy sonne up-on thyn est orisonte, and ley thy label on the degree of the sonne, and at the poynt of thy label in the bordure set a prikke. Turn thanne thy riet aboute til the degree of the sonne sit up-on the west orisonte, and ley5 thy label up-on the same degree of the sonne, and at the point of thy label set a-nother prikke. Rekne thanne the quantitee of tyme in the bordure by-twixe bothe prikkes, and tak ther thyn ark of the day. The remenant of the bordure under the orisonte is the ark of the night. Thus maistow rekne bothe arches, or10 every porcion, of whether that thee lyketh. And by this manere of wyrking maistow see how longe that any sterre fix dwelleth above the erthe, fro tyme that he ryseth til he go to reste. But the day natural, that is to seyn 24 houres, is the revolucioun of the equinoxial with as moche partie of the zodiak as the sonne of his propre moevinge passeth in the mene whyle. And for the15 more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.
To turn the houres in-equales in houres equales.[ ]
[Ad convertendum horas inequales in horas equales.]
Knowe the nombre of the degrees in the houres in-equales, and departe hem by 15, and tak ther thyn houres equales. And for the more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.
To knowe the quantitee of the day vulgare, that is to seyen, from spring of the day un-to verrey night.
[Ad cognoscendum quantitatem diei vulgaris, viz. ab ortu diei usque ad noctem.]
Know the quantitee of thy crepusculis, as I have taught in the chapitre bi-forn , and adde hem to the arch of thy day artificial; and tak ther the space of alle the hole day vulgar, un-to verrey night. The same manere maystow worke, to knowe the quantitee of the vulgar night. And for the more declaracioun, lo here the5 figure.
To knowe the quantite of houres in-equales by day.
[Ad cognoscendum horas inequales in die.]
Understond wel, that thise houres in-equales ben cleped houres of planetes, and understond wel that som-tyme ben they lengere by day than by night , and som-tyme the contrarie. But understond wel, that evermo, generaly, the hour in-equal of the day with the houre in-equal of the night contenen 30 degrees of the5 bordure, whiche bordure is ever-mo answering to the degrees of the equinoxial; wher-for departe the arch of the day artificial in 12, and tak ther the quantitee of the houre in-equal by day. And yif thow abate the quantitee of the houre in-equal by daye10 out of 30, than shal the remenant that leveth performe the houre inequal by night. And for the more declaracioun, lo here the figure.
To knowe the quantite of houres equales.
[Ad cognoscendum quantitatem horarum inequalium.]
The quantitee of houres equales, that is to seyn, the houres of the clokke, ben departed by 15 degrees al-redy in the bordure of thyn Astrolabie, as wel by night as by day, generaly for evere. What nedeth more declaracioun? Wher-for, whan thee list to5 know how manye houres of the clokke ben passed, or any part of any of thise houres that ben passed, or elles how many houres or partie of houres ben to come, fro swich a tyme to swich a tyme, by day or by nighte, knowe the degree of thy sonne, and ley thy label on it; turne thy riet aboute ioyntly with thy label, and with10 the point of it rekne in the bordure fro the sonne aryse un-to the same place ther thou desirest, by day as by nighte. This conclusioun wol I declare in the laste chapitre of the 4 partie of this tretis so openly, that ther shal lakke no worde that nedeth to the declaracioun. And for the more declaracioun, lo here the15 figure.
Special declaracioun of the houres of planetes.
[Specialis declaracio de horis planetarum]
Understond wel, that evere-mo, fro the arysing of the sonne til it go to reste, the nadir of the sonne shal shewe the houre of the planete, and fro that tyme forward al the night til the sonne aryse; than shal the verrey degree of the sonne shewe the houre of the planete. Ensample as thus. The 13 day of March fil5 up-on a Saterday per aventure, and, at the arising of the sonne, I fond the secounde degree of Aries sitting up-on myn est orisonte, al-be-it that it was but lite; than fond I the 2 degree of Libra, nadir of my sonne, dessending on my west orisonte, up-on which west orisonte every day generally, at the sonne ariste, entreth10 the houre of any planete, after which planete the day bereth his name; and endeth in the nexte stryk of the plate under the forseide west orisonte; and evere, as the sonne climbeth uppere and uppere, so goth his nadir dounere and dounere, teching by swich strykes the houres of planetes by ordre as they sitten in15 the hevene. The first houre inequal of every Satterday is to Saturne; and the secounde, to Iupiter; the 3, to Mars; the 4, to the Sonne; the 5, to Venus; the 6, to Mercurius; the 7, to the Mone; and thanne agayn, the 8 is to Saturne; the 9, to Iupiter; the 10, to Mars; the 11, to the Sonne; the 12, to20 Venus; and now is my sonne gon to reste as for that Setterday. Thanne sheweth the verrey degree of the sonne the houre of Mercurie entring under my west orisonte at eve; and next him succedeth the Mone; and so forth by ordre, planete after planete, in houre after houre, al the night longe til the sonne25 aryse. Now ryseth the sonne that Sonday by the morwe; and the nadir of the sonne, up-on the west orizonte, sheweth me the entring of the houre of the forseide sonne. And in this maner succedeth planete under planete, fro Saturne un-to the Mone,30 and fro the Mone up a-gayn to Saturne, houre after houre generaly. And thus knowe I this conclusion. And for the more declaracioun, lo here the figure.
To knowe the altitude of the sonne in middes of the day, that is cleped the altitude meridian.
[Ad cognoscendum altitudinem solis in medio diei, que vocatur altitudo meridiana.]
Set the degree of the sonne up-on the lyne meridional, and rikene how many degrees of almikanteras ben by-twixe thyn est orisonte and the degree of the sonne. And tak ther thyn altitude meridian; this is to seyne, the heyest of the sonne as for that day.5 So maystow knowe in the same lyne, the heyest cours that any sterre fix climbeth by night; this is to seyn, that whan any sterre fix is passed the lyne meridional, than by-ginneth it to descende, and so doth the sonne. And for the more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.
To knowe the degree of the sonne by thy riet, for a maner curiositee, &c.
[Ad cognoscendum gradum solis curiose.]
Sek bysily with thy rewle the heyest of the sonne in midde of the day; turne thanne thyn Astrolabie, and with a prikke of ink marke the nombre of that same altitude in the lyne meridional. Turne thanne thy riet a-boute til thou fynde a degree of thy zodiak acording with the prikke, this is to seyn, sittinge on the5 prikke; and in sooth, thou shalt finde but two degrees in al the zodiak of that condicioun; and yit thilke two degrees ben in diverse signes; than maistow lightly by the sesoun of the yere knowe the signe in whiche that is the sonne. And for the more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.[ ]10
To know which day is lyk to which day as of lengthe, &c.
[Ad cognoscendum quales dies in longitudine sunt similes.]
Loke whiche degrees ben y-lyke fer fro the hevedes of Cancer and Capricorn; and lok, whan the sonne is in any of thilke degrees, than ben the dayes y-lyke of lengthe. This is to seyn, that as long is that day in that monthe, as was swich a day in swich a month; ther varieth but lite. Also, yif thou take two5 dayes naturaly in the yer y-lyke fer fro eyther pointe of the equinoxial in the opposit parties, than as long is the day artificial of that on day as is the night of that othere, and the contrarie. And for the more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.
This chapitre is a maner declaracioun to conclusiouns that folwen.
[Illud capitulum est quedam declaracio ad certas conclusiones sequentes.]
Understond wel that thy zodiak is departid in two halfe cercles, as fro the heved of Capricorne un-to the heved of Cancer; and agaynward fro the heved of Cancer un-to the heved of Capricorne. The heved of Capricorne is the lowest point, wher-as the sonne5 goth in winter; and the heved of Cancer is the heyest point, in whiche the sonne goth in somer. And ther-for understond wel, that any two degrees that ben y-lyke fer fro any of thise two hevedes, truste wel that thilke two degrees ben of y-lyke declinacioun, be it southward or northward; and the dayes of hem10 ben y-lyke of lengthe, and the nightes also; and the shadwes y-lyke, and the altitudes y-lyke at midday for evere. And for more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.
To knowe the verrey degree of any maner sterre straunge or unstraunge after his longitude, though he be indeterminat in thyn Astrolabie; sothly to the trowthe, thus he shal be knowe.[ ][ ]
[Ad cognoscendum verum gradum alicuius stelle aliene secundum eius longitudinem, quamvis sit indeterminata in astrolabio; veraciter isto modo.]
Tak the altitude of this sterre whan he is on the est side of the lyne meridional, as ney as thou mayst gesse; and tak an assendent a-non right by som maner sterre fix which that thou knowest; and for-get nat the altitude of the firste sterre, ne thyn5 assendent. And whan that this is don, espye diligently whan this same firste sterre passeth any-thing the south westward, and hath him a-non right in the same noumbre of altitude on the west side of this lyne meridional as he was caught on the est side; and tak a newe assendent a-non right by som maner sterre fixe which that thou knowest; and for-get nat this secounde assendent. And10 whan that this is don, rikne thanne how manye degrees ben bytwixe the firste assendent and the seconde assendent, and rikne wel the middel degree by-twene bothe assendentes, and set thilke middel degree up-on thin est orisonte; and waite thanne what degree that sit up-on the lyne meridional, and tak ther the verrey degree15 of the ecliptik in which the sterre stondeth for the tyme. For in the ecliptik is the longitude of a celestial body rekened, evene fro the heved of Aries un-to the ende of Pisces. And his latitude is rikned after the quantite of his declinacion, north or south to-warde the poles of this world; as thus. Yif it be of the sonne or of any20 fix sterre, rekene his latitude or his declinacioun fro the equinoxial cercle; and yif it be of a planete, rekne than the quantitee of his latitude fro the ecliptik lyne. Al-be-it so that fro the equinoxial may the declinacion or the latitude of any body celestial be rikned, after the site north or south, and after the quantitee of his declinacion.25 And right so may the latitude or the declinacion of any body celestial, save only of the sonne, after his site north or south, and after the quantitee of his declinacioun, be rekned fro the ecliptik lyne; fro which lyne alle planetes som tyme declynen30 north or south, save only the for-seide sonne. And for the more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.
To knowe the degrees of the longitudes of fixe sterres after that they ben determinat in thin Astrolabie, yif so be that they ben trewly set.[ ]
[Ad cognoscendum gradus longitudinis de stellis fixis que determinantur in astrolabio, sicut in suis locis recte locentur.]
Set the centre of the sterre up-on the lyne meridional, and tak keep of thy zodiak, and loke what degree of any signe that sit on the same lyne meridional at that same tyme, and tak the degree in which the sterre standeth; and with that same degree comth that5 same sterre un-to that same lyne fro the orisonte. And for more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.
To knowe with which degree of the zodiak any sterre fixe in thyn Astrolabie aryseth up-on the est orisonte, althogh his dwelling be in a-nother signe.
[Ad cognoscendum cum quibus gradibus zodiaci que stella fixa in astrolabio ascendit super orizontem orientalem, quamvis eius statio sit in alio signo.]
Set the centre of the sterre up-on the est orisonte, and loke what degree of any signe that sit up-on the same orisonte at that same tyme. And understond wel, that with that same degree aryseth that same sterre; and this merveyllous arysing with a strange degree in another signe is by-cause that the latitude of the5 sterre fix is either north or south fro the equinoxial . But sothly the latitudes of planetes ben comunly rekned fro the ecliptik, bi-cause that non of hem declineth but fewe degrees out fro the brede of the zodiak. And tak good keep of this chapitre of arysing of the celestial bodies; for truste wel, that neyther mone ne sterre10 as in oure embelif orisonte aryseth with that same degree of his longitude, save in o cas; and that is, whan they have no latitude fro the ecliptik lyne. But natheles, som tyme is everiche of thise planetes under the same lyne. And for more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.15
To knowe the declinacioun of any degree in the zodiak fro the equinoxial cercle, &c.
Set the degree of any signe up-on the lyne meridional, and rikne his altitude in almikanteras fro the est orizonte up to the same degree set in the forseide lyne, and set ther a prikke. Turne up thanne thy riet, and set the heved of Aries or Libra in the same meridional lyne, and set ther a-nother prikke. And whan that5 this is don, considere the altitudes of hem bothe; for sothly the difference of thilke altitudes is the declinacion of thilke degree fro the equinoxial. And yif so be that thilke degree be northward fro the equinoxial, than is his declinacion north; yif it be southward,10 than is it south. And for the more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.
To knowe for what latitude in any regioun the almikanteras of any table ben compouned.
[Ad cognoscendum pro qua latitudine in aliqua regione almicantre tabule mee sunt composite.]
Rikne how manye degrees of almikanteras, in the meridional lyne, be fro the cercle equinoxial un-to the senith; or elles fro the pool artik un-to the north orisonte; and for so gret a latitude or for so smal a latitude is the table compouned. And for more5 declaracion, lo here thy figure.
To knowe in special the latitude of oure countray, I mene after the latitude of Oxenford, and the heighte of oure pol.
[Ad cognoscendum specialiter latitudinem nostri regionis , scilicet latitudinem Oxonie, et altitudinem poli nostri.]
Understond wel, that as fer is the heved of Aries or Libra in the equinoxial from oure orisonte as is the senith from the pole artik; and as hey is the pol artik fro the orisonte, as the equinoxial is fer fro the senith. I prove it thus by the latitude of Oxenford.5 Understond wel, that the heyghte of oure pool artik fro oure north orisonte is 51 degrees and 50 minutes; than is the senith from oure pool artik 38 degrees and 10 minutes; than is the equinoxial from oure senith 51 degrees and 50 minutes; than is oure south orisonte from oure equinoxial 38 degrees and 10 minutes. Understond wel this rekning. Also for-get nat that the senith is 9010 degrees of heyghte fro the orisonte, and oure equinoxial is 90 degrees from oure pool artik. Also this shorte rewle is soth, that the latitude of any place in a regioun is the distance fro the senith unto the equinoxial. And for more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.15
To prove evidently the latitude of any place in a regioun, by the preve of the heyghte of the pol artik in that same place.
[Ad probandum evidenter latitudinem alicuius loci in aliqua regione, per probacionem altitudinis de polo artico in eodem loco.]
In some winters night, whan the firmament is clere and thikkesterred, waite a tyme til that any sterre fix sit lyne-right perpendiculer over the pol artik, and clepe that sterre A . And wayte a-nother sterre that sit lyne-right under A, and under the pol, and clepe that sterre F. And understond wel, that F is nat5 considered but only to declare that A sit evene overe the pool. Tak thanne a-non right the altitude of A from the orisonte, and forget it nat. Lat A and F go farwel til agayns the dawening a gret whyle; and come thanne agayn, and abyd til that A is evene under the pol and under F; for sothly, than wol F sitte over the pool,10 and A wol sitte under the pool. Tak than eft-sones the altitude of A from the orisonte, and note as wel his secounde altitude as his firste altitude; and whan that this is don, rikne how manye degrees that the firste altitude of A excedeth his seconde altitude, and tak15 half thilke porcioun that is exceded, and adde it to his seconde altitude; and tak ther the elevacioun of thy pool, and eke the latitude of thy regioun. For thise two ben of a nombre; this is to seyn, as many degrees as thy pool is elevat, so michel is the latitude of the regioun. Ensample as thus: par aventure, the20 altitude of A in the evening is 56 degrees of heyghte. Than wol his seconde altitude or the dawing be 48; that is 8 lasse than 56, that was his firste altitude at even. Take thanne the half of 8 , and adde it to 48, that was his seconde altitude, and than hastow 52. Now hastow the heyghte of thy pol, and the latitude25 of the regioun. But understond wel, that to prove this conclusioun and many a-nother fair conclusioun, thou most have a plomet hanging on a lyne heyer than thin heved on a perche; and thilke lyne mot hange evene perpendiculer by-twixe the pool and thyn eye; and thanne shaltow seen yif A sitte evene over the pool and30 over F at evene; and also yif F sitte evene over the pool and over A or day. And for more declaracion, lo here thy figure.
Another conclusioun to prove the heyghte of the pool artik fro the orisonte.
[Alia conclusio ad probandum altitudinem de polo artico ab orizonte.]
Tak any sterre fixe that nevere dissendeth under the orisonte in thilke regioun, and considere his heyest altitude and his lowest altitude fro the orisonte; and make a nombre of bothe thise altitudes. Tak thanne and abate half that nombre, and tak ther5 the elevacioun of the pol artik in that same regioun. And for more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.
A-nother conclusioun to prove the latitude of the regioun, &c.
[Alia conclusio ad probandum latitudinem regionis.]
Understond wel that the latitude of any place in a regioun is verreyly the space by-twixe the senith of hem that dwellen there and the equinoxial cerkle, north or southe, taking the mesure in the meridional lyne, as sheweth in the almikanteras of thyn Astrolabie. And thilke space is as moche as the pool artik is hey5 in the same place fro the orisonte. And than is the depressioun of the pol antartik, that is to seyn, than is the pol antartik by-nethe the orisonte, the same quantite of space, neither more ne lasse. Thanne, yif thow desire to knowe this latitude of the regioun, tak the altitude of the sonne in the middel of the day, whan the sonne10 is in the hevedes of Aries or of Libra; (for thanne moeveth the sonne in the lyne equinoxial); and abate the nombre of that same sonnes altitude out of 90, and thanne is the remenaunt of the noumbre that leveth the latitude of the regioun. As thus: I suppose that the sonne is thilke day at noon 38 degrees and 1015 minutes of heyghte. Abate thanne thise degrees and minutes out of 90; so leveth there 51 degrees and 50 minutes, the latitude. I sey nat this but for ensample; for wel I wot the latitude of Oxenforde is certein minutes lasse, as I mighte prove . Now yif [ ] so be that thee semeth to long a taryinge, to abyde til that the20 sonne be in the hevedes of Aries or of Libra, thanne waite whan the sonne is in any other degree of the zodiak, and considere the degree of his declinacion fro the equinoxial lyne; and yif it so be that the sonnes declinacion be northward fro the equinoxial, abate thanne fro the sonnes altitude at noon the nombre of his declinacion,25 and thanne hastow the heyghte of the hevedes of Aries and Libra. As thus: my sonne is, par aventure, in the firste degre of Leoun, 58 degrees and 10 minutes of heyghte at noon and his declinacion is almost 20 degrees northward fro the30 equinoxial; abate thanne thilke 20 degrees of declinacion out of the altitude at noon, than leveth thee 38 degrees and odde minutes ; lo ther the heved of Aries or Libra, and thyn equinoxial in that regioun. Also yif so be that the sonnes declinacioun be southward fro the equinoxial, adde thanne thilke declinacion to the35 altitude of the sonne at noon; and tak ther the hevedes of Aries and Libra, and thyn equinoxial. Abate thanne the heyghte of the equinoxial out of 90 degrees, and thanne leveth there the distans of the pole, 51 degrees and 50 minutes, of that regioun fro the equinoxial. Or elles, yif thee lest, take the heyest altitude40 fro the equinoxial of any sterre fix that thou knowest, and tak his nethere elongacioun lengthing fro the same equinoxial lyne, and wirke in the maner forseid. And for more declaracion, lo here thy figure.
Declaracioun of the assensioun of signes, &c.
[Declaracio de ascensione signorum.]
The excellence of the spere solide, amonges other noble conclusiouns, sheweth manifeste the diverse assenciouns of signes in diverse places, as wel in the righte cercle as in the embelif cercle. Thise auctours wryten that thilke signe is cleped of right5 ascensioun, with which more part of the cercle equinoxial and lasse part of the zodiak ascendeth; and thilke signe assendeth embelif, with whiche lasse part of the equinoxial and more part of the zodiak assendeth. Ferther-over they seyn, that in thilke [ ] cuntrey where as the senith of hem that dwellen there is in the equinoxial lyne, and her orisonte passing by the poles of this10 worlde, thilke folke han this right cercle and the right orisonte; and evere-mo the arch of the day and the arch of the night is ther y-like long, and the sonne twyes every yeer passinge thorow the senith of her heved; and two someres and two winteres in a yeer han this forseide poeple. And the almikanteras in her Astrolabies15 ben streighte as a lyne, so as sheweth in this figure . The utilite to knowe the assenciouns in the righte cercle is this: truste wel that by mediacioun of thilke assenciouns thise astrologiens, by hir tables and hir instrumentz, knowen verreyly the assencioun of every degree and minut in al the zodiak, as shal be shewed. And20nota, that this forseid righte orisonte, that is cleped orison rectum, divydeth the equinoxial in-to right angles; and the embelif orisonte, wher-as the pol is enhaused up-on the orisonte, overkerveth the equinoxial in embelif angles, as sheweth in the figure. And for25 the more declaracioun, lo here the figure.
This is the conclusioun to knowe the assenciouns of signes in the right cercle, that is, circulus directus, &c.
[Ad cognoscendum ascenciones signorum in recto circulo, qui vocatur circulus directus.]
Set the heved of what signe thee liste to knowe his assending in the right cercle up-on the lyne meridional; and waite wher thyn almury toucheth the bordure, and set ther a prikke. Turne thanne thy riet westward til that the ende of the forseide signe5 sitte up-on the meridional lyne; and eft-sones waite wher thyn almury toucheth the bordure, and set ther another prikke. Rikne thanne the nombre of degrees in the bordure by-twixe bothe prikkes, and tak the assencioun of the signe in the right cercle. And thus maystow wyrke with every porcioun of thy zodiak, &c.10 And for the more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.
To knowe the assencions of signes in the embelif cercle in every regioun, I mene, in circulo obliquo.
Set the heved of the signe which as thee list to knowe his ascensioun up-on the est orisonte, and waite wher thyn almury toucheth the bordure, and set ther a prikke. Turne thanne thy riet upward til that the ende of the same signe sitte up-on the est orisonte, and waite eft-sones wher as thyn almury toucheth the5 bordure, and set ther a-nother prikke. Rikne thanne the noumbre of degrees in the bordure by-twixe bothe prikkes, and tak ther the assencioun of the signe in the embelif cercle. And understond wel, that alle signes in thy zodiak, fro the heved of Aries unto the ende of Virgo, ben cleped signes of the north fro the equinoxial;10 and these signes arysen by-twixe the verrey est and the verrey north in oure orisonte generaly for evere. And alle signes fro the heved of Libra un-to the ende of Pisces ben cleped signes of the south fro the equinoxial; and thise signes arysen ever-mo by-twixe the verrey est and the verrey south in oure orisonte. Also every15 signe by-twixe the heved of Capricorne un-to the ende of Geminis aryseth on oure orisonte in lasse than two houres equales; and thise same signes, fro the heved of Capricorne un-to the ende of Geminis, ben cleped ‘tortuos signes’ or ‘croked signes,’ for they arisen embelif on oure orisonte; and thise crokede signes20 ben obedient to the signes that ben of right assencioun. The signes of right assencioun ben fro the heved of Cancer to the ende of Sagittare; and thise signes arysen more upright, and they ben called eke sovereyn signes; and everich of hem aryseth in more space than in two houres. Of which signes, Gemini obeyeth25 to Cancer; and Taurus to Leo; Aries to Virgo; Pisces to Libra; Aquarius to Scorpioun; and Capricorne to Sagittare. And thus ever-mo two signes, that ben y-lyke fer fro the heved of Capricorne, obeyen everich of hem til other. And for more declaracioun, lo30 here the figure.
To knowe iustly th