Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
This layout is optimized for screen readers and other assistive devices for the visually impaired.
The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, edited from numerous manuscripts by the Rev. Walter W. Skeat (2nd ed.) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1899). 7 vols.
The late 19th century Skeat edition with copious scholarly notes and a good introduction to the texts.
The text is in the public domain.
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
§ 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):—
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:—
§ 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:—
These lines, jestingly applied to Troilus by Pandarus, are in the House of Fame, 639, 640, applied by Chaucer to himself:—
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:—
Two short syllables, rapidly pronounced, may take the place of one:—
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.’
§ 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—
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:—
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:—
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 :—
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.
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—
is altered to—
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:—
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):—
And again, in the same author’s Temple of Glas, ll. 71-74:—
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—
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):—
And again, we may compare ll. 53-55 with the lines in Machault that immediately follow, viz.
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:—
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:—
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:—
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:—
Book of the Duch. 330.
Id. 1071, 1080.
Parlement of Foules; 289
House of Fame; 375.
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:—
&c. Id. 387.
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:—
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
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):—
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:—
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:—
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:—
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:—
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:—
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:—
§ 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:—
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.
§ 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.
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.
Explicit liber primus.
Incipit liber secundus.
Colophon and Title.So in Cx.; the rest omit them.
Explicit liber secundus.
Incipit liber tercius.
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.
From A. 55-58.This dayesye, of alle floures flour,
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
From A. 75-80.For, as to me, is leefer noon ne lother;75
From A. 93-96.And that the sonne out of the south gan weste,
From A. 106.To seen that flour, as ye han herd devyse.
From A. 97-104.†And, in a litel erber that I have,
From A. 106.To seen that flour, as ye han herd devyse,
From A. 179-198.Hir name was Alceste ;
From A. 338, 339.This man to yow may wrongly been accused,
From B. 53-56.As she, that is of alle floures flour,
From B. 188-196.But natheles, ne wene nat that I make
From B. 180, 182.The longe day I shoop me for to abyde . . .
From B. 197-200.Whan that the sonne out of the south gan weste,
From B. 203-210.†And, in a litel herber that I have,
From B. 211.To seen this flour, that I so love and drede,
From B. 276-281.That is so good, so fair, so debonaire;
From B 282-295Behind god of love, upon grene,
From B. 350, 351.This man to yow may falsly been accused,
Incipit Legenda Cleopatrie, Martiris, Egipti regine.
N.B.—Readings not marked with any letter are from F. (Fairfax MS.)
Explicit Legenda Cleopatrie, martiris.
Incipit Legenda Tesbe Babilonie, Martiris.
Explicit legenda Tesbe.
N.B. From this point onward obvious corrections in the spelling of MS. F.are unnoticed.
Incipit Legenda Didonis martiris, Cartaginis regine.
Explicit Legenda Didonis martiris, Cartaginis regine.
Incipit Legenda Ysiphile et Medee, Martirum.
Explicit Legenda Ysiphile et Medee, Martirum.
Incipit Legenda Lucrecie Rome, martiris.
Explicit Legenda Lucrecie Rome, Martiris.
Incipit Legenda Adriane de Athenes.
Explicit Legenda Adriane de Athenes.
Title.FromF.After which,F.has Deus dator formatorum; B.has Deus dator formarum.
Incipit Legenda Philomene.
Deus dator formarum.
Explicit Legenda Philomene.
Incipit Legenda Phillis.
Explicit Legenda Phillis.
Incipit Legenda Ypermistre.
LITELL 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 seith, ‘he wrappeth him in his frend, that condescendeth5 to the rightful preyers of his frend,’ ther-for have I geven thee a 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 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, 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 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 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.
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 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 a space that hit desturbeth nat the instrument to hangen after his righte centre.
3. 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 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 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 , 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 . 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 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 , 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 the5 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 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 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 ; now have I told thee twye. And for the more declaracioun, lo here the figure.
The plate under thy riet is descryved with 3 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 , 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 primi motus vel . 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 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 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 .
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 , 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 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 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 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, al the remenant of cercles in the hevene ben imagined verrey lynes with-oute eny latitude. 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 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 of50 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, the equinoxial; and he over-kerveth him again in ; 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.
Here biginnen the Conclusions of the Astrolabie.
[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.
[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 in oon, that ther nedith no more declaracion; but forget it nat. And for the more declaracioun, lo here the figure.10
[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 .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 ; and fond hir sitting on the west side of the lyne of midday, 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 . Tho loked I doun up-on myn est orisonte, and 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 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.
[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 , is thilke degree that5 assendeth at any of thise forseide tymes the est orisonte; and there-for, yif that any planet assende at that same tyme in thilke , men seyn that thilke in 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 , yit seyn they that thilke planete to him that is 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 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 resceived, and eek that he may seen the assendent, and that he be nat retrograd ne , 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 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 degrees, and thilke porcioun they clepe a . And al-thogh that a planete have a latitude fro the ecliptik, yit sey , so that the planete aryse in that same signe with any degree of the forseide face in which his longitude is rekned, that the planete in horoscopo, be it in nativite or in eleccioun, &c. And for the more declaracioun, lo here the figure.45
[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 , 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 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
[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 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 , 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.
[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.
[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.
[Ad cognoscendum quantitatem diei vulgaris, viz. ab ortu diei usque ad noctem.]
Know the quantitee of thy crepusculis, as I have taught in , 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 maystow worke, to knowe the quantitee of the vulgar night. And for the more declaracioun, lo here the5 figure.
[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 , and som-tyme the contrarie. But understond wel, that evermo, generaly, the hour 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.
[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 partie of this tretis so openly, that shal lakke no worde that nedeth to the declaracioun. And for the more declaracioun, lo here the15 figure.
[Specialis declaracio de horis planetarum]
Understond wel, that evere-mo, fro 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 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.
[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 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.
[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 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
[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 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 more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.
[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 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 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.
[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 equinoxial may the declinacion or the latitude of any body celestial be rikned, after the 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.
[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.
[Ad cognoscendum cum quibus gradibus zodiaci que stella fixa in astrolabio ascendit super 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 . 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
[Ad cognoscendum declinacionem alicuius gradus equinoctiali.]
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.
[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.
[Ad cognoscendum specialiter latitudinem nostri , 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 in a regioun is the distance fro the senith unto the equinoxial. And for more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.15
[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 . 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 , and adde it to 48, that was his seconde altitude, and 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.
[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.
[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 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 15 minutes of heyghte. Abate thanne thise degrees and 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 . Now yif so be that thee semeth to long a taryinge, to abyde til that 20 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 degre of Leoun, of heyghte at noon and his declinacion is degrees northward fro the30 equinoxial; abate thanne thilke 20 degrees of declinacion out of the altitude at noon, than leveth thee 38 degrees ; 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 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.
[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. 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 . The utilite to knowe the 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.
[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 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.
[Ad cognoscendum ascenciones signorum , in omni regione.]
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 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 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 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.
[Ad cognoscendum evidenter quatuor partes mundi, scilicet, orientem, austrum, aquilonem, et occidentem.]
Take the altitude of thy sonne whan thee list, and note wel the quarter of the world in which the sonne is for the tyme by the azimutz. thyn Astrolabie, and set the degree of the sonne in the almikanteras of his altitude, on thilke side that5 the sonne stant, as is the manere in taking of houres; and ley thy label on the degree of the sonne, and rikene how many degrees of the bordure ben by-twixe the lyne meridional and the point of thy label; and note wel that noumbre. Turne thanne a-gayn thyn Astrolabie, and set the point of thy gret rewle, ther takest10 thyne altitudes, up-on as many degrees in his bordure fro his meridional as was the point of thy label fro the lyne meridional on the wombe-syde. Tak thanne thyn Astrolabie with bothe handes sadly and slely, and lat the sonne shyne thorow bothe holes of thy ; and sleyly, in thilke shyninge, lat thyn Astrolabie couch15 adoun evene up-on a smothe grond, and thanne wol the verrey lyne meridional of thyn Astrolabie lye evene south, and the est lyne wole lye est, and the west lyne west, and north lyne north, so that thou werke softly and avisely in the couching; and thus hastow the 4 quarters of the firmament. And for the more20 declaracioun, lo here the figure.
[Ad cognoscendum altitudinem planetarum a cursu solis, utrum sint in parte australi vel boreali a cursu supra dicto.]
Lok whan that a planete is in the lyne meridional, yif that hir altitude be of the same heyghte that is the degree of the sonne for that day, and than is the planete in the verrey , and hath no latitude. And yif the altitude of the planete be heyere than the degree of the sonne, than is the planete north fro5 the wey of the sonne swich a quantite of latitude as sheweth by thyn almikanteras. And yif the altitude of the planete be lasse than the degree of the sonne, thanne is the planete south fro the wey of the sonne swich a quantite of latitude as sheweth by thyn almikanteras. This is to seyn, fro the wey wher-as the sonne10 wente thilke day, but nat from the of the sonne in every place of the zodiak. And for the more declaracioun, lo here the figure.
[Ad cognoscendum signum de ortu solis, scilicet, illam partem orientis in qua oritur sol.]
Thou most first considere that the sonne aryseth nat al-wey verrey est, but some tyme by north the est, and som tyme by southe the est. Sothly, the sonne aryseth never-mo verrey est in oure orisonte, but he be in the heved of Aries or Libra. Now is thyn5 orisonte departed in 24 by thy azimutz, in significacion of 24 partiez of the world; al-be-it so that shipmen rikne thilke partiez in 32. Thanne is ther no more but waite in which that thy sonne entreth at his arysing; and take ther the senith of the arysing of the sonne. The manere of the devisioun of thyn10 Astrolabie is this; I mene, as in this cas. First is it devided in 4 plages principalx with the lyne that goth from est to west, and than with a-nother lyne that goth fro south to north. Than is it devided in smale partiez of azimutz, as est, and est by southe, whereas is the firste azimut above the est lyne; and so forth, fro15 partie to partie, til that thou come agayn un-to the est lyne. Thus maistow understond also the senith of any sterre, in which partie he ryseth, &c. And for the more declaracion, lo here the figure.
[Ad cognoscendum in qua parte firmamenti sunt coniuncciones solis et lune.]
Considere the tyme of the coniunccion by thy kalender, as thus; lok how many houres thilke coniunccion is fro the midday of the day precedent, as sheweth by the canoun of thy kalender. Rikne thanne thilke nombre of houres in the bordure of thyn Astrolabie, as thou art wont to do in knowing of the houres of the day or of5 the night; and ley thy label over the degree of the sonne; and thanne wol the point of thy label sitte up-on the hour of the coniunccion. Loke thanne in which azimut the degree of thy sonne sitteth, and in that partie of the firmament is the coniunccioun. And for the more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.
[Ad cognoscendum signa de altitudine solis.]
This is no more to seyn but any tyme of the day tak the altitude of the sonne; and by the in which he stondeth, maystou seen in which partie of the firmament he is. And the same wyse maystou seen, by the , of any sterre, whether the sterre sitte est or west or , or any partie by-twene, after the5 name of the azimut in which is the sterre. And for the more declaracioun, lo here the figure.
[Ad cognoscendum veraciter gradum de longitudine lune, vel alicuius planete qui non habet longitudinem pro tempore causante linea ecliptica.]
Tak the altitude of the mone, and rikne thyn altitude up among thyne almikanteras on which syde that the mone stande; and set there a prikke. Tak thenne anon-right, , the altitude of any sterre fix which that thou knowest, and set his5 centre up-on his altitude among thyn almikanteras ther the sterre is founde. Waite thanne which degree of the zodiak the prikke of the altitude of the mone, and tak ther the degree in which the mone standeth. This conclusioun is verrey soth, yif the sterres in thyn Astrolabie stonden after the trowthe; of10 comune, tretis of Astrolabie ne make non excepcioun whether the mone have latitude, or non; ne on whether syde of the mone the altitude of the sterre fix be taken. And nota, that yif the mone shewe himself by light of day, than maystow wyrke this same conclusioun by the sonne, as wel as by the fix sterre. And for the15 more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.
[Hec conclusio operatur ad cognoscendum si aliqua planeta sit directa vel retrograda.]
Tak the altitude of any sterre that is cleped a planete, and note it wel. And tak eek anon the altitude of any sterre fix that thou knowest, and note it wel also. Come thanne agayn the thridde or the ferthe night next folwing; for thanne shaltow aperceyve wel the5 moeving of a planete, whether so he moeve forthward or bakward. Awaite wel thanne whan that thy sterre fix is in the same altitude that she was whan thou toke hir firste altitude; and tak than eftsones the altitude of the forseide planete, and note it wel. For trust wel, yif so be that the planete be on the of the meridional lyne, so that his seconde altitude be lasse than his firste altitude10 was, thanne is the planete directe. And yif he be on the west syde in that condicion, thanne is he retrograd. And yif so be that this planete be up-on the est syde whan his altitude is taken, so that his secounde altitude be more than his firste altitude, thanne is he retrograde, and yif he be on the , than is he15 directe. But the contrarie of thise parties is of the cours of the mone; for , the mone moeveth the contrarie from othere planetes as in hir , but in non other manere. And for the more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.
[Conclusio de equacione domorum.]
Set the by-ginning of the degree that assendeth up-on the ende of the 8 houre inequal; thanne wol the by-ginning of the 2 hous sitte up-on the lyne of midnight. Remeve thanne the degree that assendeth, and set him on the ende of the 10 hour inequal; and thanne wol the byginning of the 3 hous sitte up-on the midnight5 lyne. Bring up agayn the same degree that assendeth first, and set him up-on the orisonte; and thanne wol the be-ginning of the 4 hous sitte up-on the lyne of midnight. Tak thanne the nadir of the degree that first assendeth, and set him on the ende of the 210 houre inequal; and thanne wol the by-ginning of the 5 hous sitte up-on the lyne of midnight; set thanne the nadir of the assendent on the ende of the 4 houre, than wol the byginning of the 6 house sitte on the midnight lyne. The byginning of the 7 hous is nadir of the assendent, and the byginning of the 8 hous is nadir of the15 2; and the by-ginning of the 9 hous is nadir of the 3; and the by-ginning of the 10 hous is the nadir of the 4; and the byginning of the 11 hous is nadir of the 5; and the byginning of the 12 hous is nadir of the 6. And for the more declaracion, lo here the figure.
[De aliqua forma equacionis domorum secundum astrolabium.]
Tak thyn assendent, and thanne hastow thy 4 angles; for wel thou wost that the opposit of thyn assendent, that is to seyn, thy by-ginning of the 7 hous, sit up-on the west orizonte; and the byginning of the 10 hous sit up-on the lyne meridional; and his5 opposit up-on the lyne of midnight. Thanne ley thy label over the degree that assendeth, and rekne fro the point of thy label alle the degrees in the bordure, til thou come to the meridional lyne; and departe alle thilke degrees in 3 evene parties, and take the evene equacion of 3; for ley thy label over everich of 3 parties,10 and maistow see by thy label in which degree of the zodiak is the by-ginning of everich of thise same houses fro the assendent: that is to seyn, the beginning of the above thyn assendent; and the beginning of the 11 house; and thanne the 10, up-on the meridional lyne; as I first seide. The same wyse wirke thou fro the assendent doun to the lyne of15 midnight; and thanne thus hastow other 3 houses, that is to seyn, of the 2, and the 3, and the 4 houses; thanne is nadir of the by-ginning of the 3 houses that folwen. And for the more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.
[Ad inveniendum lineam meridionalem per subtiles operaciones.]
Tak a rond plate of metal; for , the ; and make ther-upon iust compas, a lite with-in the bordure; and ley this ronde plate up-on grond, or on an evene ston, or on an evene stok fix in the gronde; and ley it even by a level. And in centre of the compas stike an evene pin or a wyr upright;5 the smallere the betere. Set thy pin by a plom-rewle evene upright; and let this pin be no lengere than a quarter of the diametre of thy compas, . And waite bisily, aboute 10 or 11 of the clokke and whan the sonne shyneth, whan the shadwe of the pin entreth with-in the cercle of thy plate10 an heer-mele, and mark ther a prikke with inke. Abyde thanne stille waiting on the sonne after 1 of the clokke, til that the schadwe of the wyr or of the pin passe ony-thing out of the cercle of the compas, be it never so lyte; and set ther a-nother prikke of inke. Take than a compas, and mesure evene the middel15 by-twixe bothe prikkes; and set ther a prikke. a rewle, and draw a stryke, evene a-lyne fro the pin un-to the middel prikke; and tak ther thy lyne meridional for evere-mo, as in that same place. And yif thow drawe a cros-lyne over-thwart20 the compas, iustly over the lyne meridional, than hastow est and west and south; and, par consequence, than the nadir of the south lyne is the north lyne. And for more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.
This lyne meridional is but a maner descripcion imagined, that passeth upon the poles of world and by the senith of oure heved. And hit is lyne meridional; for in what place that any maner man any tyme of the yeer,5 whan that the sonne of the firmament cometh to his verrey place, than is hit verrey midday, that we clepen oure noon, as to thilke man; and therefore is it cleped the lyne of midday. And nota, for evermo, of or of 2 tounes, of whiche that o toun the est than doth10 that other toun, truste wel that thilke tounes han diverse meridians. Nota also, that the arch of the equinoxial, that is or bounded by-twixe the 2 meridians, is cleped the longitude of the toun. And so be that two tounes have y-lyke meridian, or oon meridian, than is the distance of hem bothe y-lyke15 fer fro the est; and the contrarie. And in this manere they chaunge nat her meridian, but sothly they chaungen her almikanteras; for the enhausing of the pool and the distance of the sonne. The longitude of a clymat is a lyne imagined fro est to west, y-lyke distant by-twene them alle. The of a clymat is a lyne imagined from north to south the space of the erthe,20 fro the byginning of the firste clymat unto the verrey ende of the climat, evene directe agayns . Thus seyn some auctours; and somme of hem seyn that yif men clepen the latitude, thay mene the arch meridian that is contiened or by-twixe the senith and the equinoxial. Thanne sey they that25 the distaunce fro the equinoxial unto the ende of a clymat, evene agayns the pole artyk, is the latitude of a clymat for sothe. And for more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.
Knowe by thyn almenak the degree of the ecliptik of any signe in which that the planete is rekned for to be, and that is cleped the degree of his longitude; and knowe also the degree of his latitude fro the ecliptik, north or south. And by folwinge in special, maystow wirke in every signe of the5 zodiak. The degree of , par aventure, of Venus or of another , was 6 of Capricorne, and the latitude of him was northward 2 degrees fro the ecliptik lyne. a subtil compas, and cleped that oon poynt of my compas A, and that10 other poynt F. the point of A, and set it in the ecliptik lyne evene in my zodiak, in the degree of the longitude of Venus, that is to seyn, in the 6 degree of Capricorne; and thanne sette I the point of F upward in the same signe, bycause that the latitude was north, up-on the latitude of Venus, that is to15 seyn, in the 6 degree fro the heved of Capricorne; and thus have I 2 degrees by-twixe my two prikkes. Than leide I doun softely my compas, and sette the degree of the longitude up-on the orisonte; tho tok I and wexede my label in maner of a peyre tables to resceyve distinctly the prikkes of my compas. Tho tok20 I this forseide label, and leide it fix over the degree of my longitude; tho tok I up my compas, and sette the point of A in the wex on my label, as evene as I coude gesse over the ecliptik lyne, in ende of the longitude; and sette the point of F endlang in my label up-on the space of the latitude, inwarde and25 over the zodiak, that is to seyn, north-ward fro the ecliptik. Than leide I doun my compas, and lokede wel in the wey upon the of A and of F; tho turned I my riet til that the prikke of F sat up-on the orisonte; than saw I wel that the body of Venus, in hir latitude of degrees septentrionalis, assended, in the ende30 of the 6 degree, in the heved of Capricorne. And nota, that in the same manner maistow wirke with any latitude septentrional signes; but sothly the latitude meridional of a planete in Capricorne may not be take, by-cause of the litel space by-twixe the ecliptik and the bordure of the Astrolabie; but sothly, in alle other 35 it may.
Also the degree, par aventure, of Iuppiter or of a-nother planete, was in the first degree of Pisces in longitude, and his latitude was 3 degrees meridional; tho tok I the point of A, and sette it in the firste degree of Pisces on the ecliptik, and thanne sette I the point of F dounward in the same signe, by-cause that the latitude40 was south 3 degrees, that is to seyn, fro the heved of Pisces; and thus have I 3 degrees by-twixe bothe prikkes; thanne sette I the degree of the longitude up-on the orisonte. Tho tok I my label, and leide it fix upon the degree of the longitude; tho sette I the point of A on my label, evene over the ecliptik lyne, in the ende45 degree of the longitude, and sette the point of F in my label the space of 3 degrees of the latitude fro the zodiak, this is to seyn, southward fro the ecliptik, toward the bordure; and turned my riet the prikke of F sat up-on the orisonte; thanne I wel that the body of Iuppiter, in his50 latitude of 3 degrees meridional, ascended with 14 degrees of Pisces in horoscopo. And in this maner maistow wirke with any latitude meridional, as I first seide, save in Capricorne. And yif thou wolt pleye this craft with the arysing of the mone, loke thou rekne wel his cours houre by houre; for she ne dwelleth nat in a degree of55 longitude but a litel whyle, as thou wel knowest; but natheles, yif thou rekne hir verreye moeving by thy tables after houre, [thou shalt do wel y-now].
Explicit tractatus de Conclusionibus Astrolabii, compilatus per Galfridum Chauciers ad Filium suum Lodewicum, scolarem tunc temporis Oxonie, ac sub tutela illius nobilissimi philosophi Magistri N. Strode, etc.
* * * * * * *
Part II, § 1. [The Latin headings to the propositions are taken from the MS. in St. John’s College, Cambridge.] See fig. 1. Any straight edge laid across from the centre will shew this at once. Chaucer, reckoning by the old style, differs from us by about eight days. The first degree of Aries, which in his time answered to the 12th of March, now vibrates between the 20th and 21st of that month. This difference of eight days must be carefully borne in mind in calculating Chaucer’s dates.
2. Here ‘thy left side’ means the left side of thine own body, and therefore the right or Eastern edge of the Astrolabe. In taking the altitude of the sun, the rays are allowed to shine through the holes; but the stars are observed by looking through them. See figs. 1 and 3.
3. Drop the disc (fig. 5) within the border of the mother, and the Rete over it. Take the sun’s altitude by § 2, and let it be 25½°. As the altitude was taken by the back of the Astrolabe, turn it over, and then let the Rete revolve westward till the 1st point of Aries is just within the altitude-circle marked 25, allowing for the ½ degree by guess. This will bring the denticle near the letter C, and the first point of Aries near X, which means 9 a.m. At the same time, the 20th degree of Gemini will be on the horizon obliquus. See fig. 11, Pl. V. This result can be approximately verified by a common globe thus; elevate the pole nearly 52°; turn the small brass hour-circle so that the figure XII lies on the equinoctial colure; then turn the globe till IX lies under the brass meridian. In the next example, by the Astrolabe, let the height of Alhabor (Sirius) be about 18°. Turn the denticle Eastward till it touches the 58th degree near the letter O, and it will be found that Alhabor is about 18° high among the almicanteras, whilst the first point of Aries points to 32° near the letter H, i. e. to 8 minutes past 8 p.m.; whilst at the same time, the 23rd degree of Libra is almost on the Horizon obliquus on the Eastern side. By the globe, at about 8 minutes past 8 p.m., the altitude of Sirius is very nearly 18°, and the 23rd of Libra is very near the Eastern horizon. See fig. 12, Pl. V.
4. The ascendent at any given moment is that degree of the zodiac which is then seen upon the Eastern horizon. Chaucer says that astrologers reckoned in also 5 degrees of the zodiac above, and 25 below; the object being to extend the planet’s influence over a whole ‘house,’ which is a space of the same length as a sign, viz. 30°. See § 36 below.
5. This merely amounts to taking the mean between two results.
6. This depends upon the refraction of light by the atmosphere, owing to which light from the sun reaches us whilst he is still 18° below the horizon. The nadir of the sun being 18° high on the W. side, the sun itself is 18° below the Eastern horizon, giving the time of dawn; and if the nadir be 18° high on the E. side, we get the time of the end of the evening twilight. Thus, at the vernal equinox, the sun is 18° high soon after 8 a.m. (roughly speaking), and hence the evening twilight ends soon after 8 p.m., 12 hours later, sunset being at 6 p.m.
7. Ex. The sun being in the first point of Cancer on the longest day, its rising will be shewn by the point in fig. 5 where the horison obliquus and Tropicus Cancri intersect; this corresponds to a point between P and Q in fig. 2, or to about a quarter to 4 a.m. So too the sunset is at about a quarter past 8, and the length of the day 16½ hours; hence also, the length of the night is about 7½ hours, neglecting twilight.
8. On the same day, the number of degrees in the whole day is about 247½, that being the number through which the Rete is turned in the example to § 7. Divide by 15, and we have 16½ equal hours.
9. The ‘day vulgar’ is the length of the ‘artificial day,’ with the length of the twilight, both at morn and at eve, added to it.
10. If, as in § 7, the day be 16½ hours long, the length of each ‘hour inequal’ is 1 h. 22½ m.; and the length of each ‘hour inequal’ of the night is the 12th part of 7½ hours, or 37½ m.; and 1 h. 22½ m., added to 37½ m., will of course make up 2 hours, or 30°.
11. This merely repeats that 15° of the border answer to an hour of the clock. The ‘4 partie of this tretis’ was never written.
12. This ‘hour of the planet’ is a mere astrological supposition, involving no point of astronomy. Each hour is an ‘hour inequal,’ or the 12th part of the artificial day or night. The assumptions are so made that the first hour of every day may resemble the name of the day; the first hour of Sunday is the hour of the Sun, and so on. These hours may be easily found by the following method. Let 1 represent both Sunday and the Sun; 2, Monday and the Moon; 3, Tuesday and Mars; 4, Wednesday and Mercury; 5, Thursday and Jupiter; 6, Friday and Venus; 7, Saturday and Saturn. Next, write down the following succession of figures, which will shew the hours at once.
Ex. To find the planet of the 10th hour of Tuesday. Tuesday is the third day of the week; begin with 3, to the left of the upright line, and reckon 10 onwards; the 10th figure (counting 3 as the first) is 6, i. e. Venus. So also, the planet of the 24th hour of Friday is the Moon, and Saturday begins with Saturn. It may be observed that this table can be carried in the memory, by simply observing that the numbers are written, beginning with 1, in the reverse order of the spheres, i. e. Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon; and then (beginning again at the outmost sphere) Saturn, Jupiter, Mars. This is why Chaucer takes a Saturday; that he may begin with the remotest planet, Saturn, and follow the reverse order of the spheres. See fig. 10, Pl. V. Here, too, we have the obvious reason for the succession of the names of the days of the week, viz. that the planets being reckoned in this order, we find the Moon in the 25th place or hour from the Sun, and so on.
13. The reason of this is obvious from what has gone before. The sun’s meridional altitude is at once seen by placing the sun’s degree on the South line.
14. This is the exact converse of the preceding. It furnishes a method of testing the accuracy of the drawing of the almikanteras.
15. This is best done by help of the back of the instrument, fig. 1. Thus May 13 (old style), which lies 30° to the W. of the S. line, is nearly of the same length as July 13, which lies 30° to the E. Secondly, the day of April 2 (old style), 20° above the W. line, is nearly of the same length as the night of Oct. 2, 20° below the E. line, in the opposite point of the circle. This is but an approximation, as the divisions on the instrument are rather minute.
16. This merely expresses the same thing, with the addition, that on days of the same length, the sun has the same meridional altitude, and the same declination from the equator.
17. Here passeth any-thing the south westward means, passes somewhat to the westward of the South line. The problem is, to find the degree of the zodiac which is on the meridian with the star. To do this, find the altitude of the star before it souths, and by help of problem 3, find out the ascending degree of the zodiac; secondly, find the ascending degree at an equal time after it souths, when the star has the same altitude as before, and the mean between these will be the degree that ascends when the star is on the meridian. Set this degree upon the Eastern part of the horizon obliquus, and then the degree which is upon the meridional line souths together with the star. Such is the solution given, but it is but a very rough approximation, and by no means always near to the truth. An example will shew why. Let Arcturus have the same altitude at 10 p.m. as at 2 a.m. In the first case the 4th of Sagittarius is ascending, in the second (with sufficient accuracy for our purpose) the 2nd of Aquarius; and the mean between these is the 3rd of Capricorn. Set this on the Eastern horizon upon a globe, and it will be seen that it is 20 min. past midnight, that 10° of Scorpio is on the meridian, and that Arcturus has past the meridian by 5°. At true midnight, the ascendent is the 29° of Sagittarius. The reason of the error is that right ascension and longitude are here not sufficiently distinguished. By observing the degrees of the equinoctial, instead of the ecliptic, upon the Eastern horizon, we have at the first observation 272°, at the second 332°, and the mean of these is 302°; from this subtract 90°, and the result, 212°, gives the right ascension of Arcturus very nearly, corresponding to which is the beginning of the 5° of Scorpio, which souths along with it. This latter method is correct, because it assumes the motion to take place round the axis of the equator. The error of Chaucer’s method is that it identifies the motion of the equator with that of the ecliptic. The amount of the error varies considerably, and may be rather large. But it can easily be diminished, (and no doubt was so in practice), by taking the observations as near the south line as possible. Curiously enough, the rest of the section explains the difference between the two methods of reckoning. The modern method is to call the co-ordinates right ascension and declination, if reckoned from the equator, and longitude and latitude, if from the ecliptic. Motion in longitude is not the same thing as motion in right ascension.
18. The ‘centre’ of the star is the technical name for the extremity of the metal tongue representing it. The ‘degree in which the star standeth’ is considered to be that degree of the zodiac which souths along with it. Thus Sirius or Alhabor has its true longitude nearly equal to that of 12° of Cancer, but, as it souths with the 9th degree, it would be said to stand in that degree. This may serve for an example; but it must be remembered that its longitude was different in the time of Chaucer.
19. Also it rises with the 19th degree of Leo, as it is at some distance from the zodiac in latitude. The same ‘marvellous arising in a strange sign’ is hardly because of the latitude being north or south from the equinoctial, but rather because it is north or south of the ecliptic. For example, Regulus (a Leonis) is on the ecliptic, and of course rises with that very degree in which it is. Hence the reading equinoctial leaves the case in doubt, and we find a more correct statement just below, where we have ‘whan they have no latitude fro the ecliptik lyne.’ At all places, however, upon the earth’s equator, the stars will rise with the degrees of the zodiac in which they stand.
20. Here the disc (fig. 5) is supposed to be placed beneath the Rete (fig. 2). The proposition merely tells us that the difference between the meridian altitudes of the given degree of the zodiac and of the 1st point of Aries is the declination of that degree, which follows from the very definition of the term. There is hardly any necessity for setting the second prick, as it is sufficiently marked by being the point where the equinoctial circle crosses the south line. If the given degree lie outside this circle, the declination is south; if inside, it is north.
21. In fig. 5, the almicanteras, if accurately drawn, ought to shew as many degrees between the south point of the equinoctial circle and the zenith as are equal to the latitude of the place for which they are described. The number of degrees from the pole to the northern point of the horizon obliquus is of course the same. The latitude of the place for which the disc is constructed is thus determined by inspection.
22. In the first place where ‘orisonte’ occurs, it means the South point of the horizon; in the second place, the North point. By referring to fig. 13, Plate V, it is clear that the arc ΥS, representing the distance between the equinoctial and the S. point, is equal to the arc ZP, which measures the distance from the pole to the zenith; since PO Υ and ZOS are both right angles. Hence also Chaucer’s second statement, that the arcs PN and ΥZ are equal. In his numerical example, PN is 51° 50′; and therefore ZP is the complement, or 38° 10′. So also ΥZ is 51° 50′; and ΥS is 38° 10′. Briefly, ΥZ measures the latitude.
23. Here the altitude of a star (A) is to be taken twice; firstly, when it is on the meridian in the most southern point of its course, and secondly, when on the meridian in the most northern point, which would be the case twelve hours later. The mean of these altitudes is the altitude of the pole, or the latitude of the place. In the example given, the star A is only 4° from the pole, which shews that it is the Pole-star, then farther from the Pole than it is now. The star F is, according to Chaucer, any convenient star having a right ascension differing from that of the Pole-star by 180°; though one having the same right ascension would serve as well. If then, at the first observation, the altitude of A be 56, and at the second be 48, the altitude of the pole must be 52. See fig. 13, Plate V.
24. This comes to much the same thing. The lowest or northern altitude of Dubhe (a Ursæ Majoris) may be supposed to be observed to be 25°, and his highest or southern altitude to be 79°. Add these; the sum is 104; ‘abate’ or subtract half of that number, and the result is 52°; the latitude.
25. Here, as in § 22, Chaucer says that the latitude can be measured by the arc ZΥ or PN; he adds that the depression of the Antarctic pole, viz. the arc SP′ (where P′ is the S. pole), is another measure of the latitude. He explains that an obvious way of finding the latitude is by finding the altitude of the sun at noon at the time of an equinox. If this altitude be 38° 10′, then the latitude is the complement, or 51° 50′. But this observation can only be made on two days in the year. If then this seems to be too long a tarrying, observe his midday altitude, and allow for his declination. Thus, if the sun’s altitude be 58° 10′ at noon when he is in the first degree of Leo, subtract his declination, viz. 20°, and the result is 38° 10′, the complement of the latitude. If, however, the sun’s declination be south, the amount of it must be added instead of subtracted. Or else we may find ΥA′, the highest altitude of a star A′ above the equinoctial, and also ΥA, its nether elongation extending from the same, and take the mean of the two.
26. The ‘Sphere Solid’ answers nearly to what we now call a globe. By help of a globe it is easy to find the ascensions of signs for any latitude, whereas by the astrolabe we can only tell them for those latitudes for which the plates bearing the almicanteras are constructed. The signs which Chaucer calls ‘of right (i. e. direct) ascension’ are those signs of the zodiac which rise more directly, i. e. at a greater angle to the horizon than the rest. In latitude 52°, Libra rises so directly that the whole sign takes more than 2¾ hours before it is wholly above the horizon, during which time nearly 43° of the equinoctial circle have arisen; or, in Chaucer’s words, ‘the more part’ (i. e. a larger portion) of the equinoctial ascends with it. On the other hand, the sign of Aries ascends so obliquely that the whole of it appears above the horizon in less than an hour, so that a ‘less part’ (a smaller portion) of the equinoctial ascends with it. The following is a rough table of Direct and Oblique Signs, shewing approximately how long each sign takes to ascend, and how many degrees of the equinoctial ascend with it, in lat. 52°.
|Oblique Signs.||Degrees of the Equinoctial.||Time of ascending.|
|Capricornus||26°||1 h. 44 m.|
|Aquarius||16°||1 h. 4 m.|
|Pisces||14°||0 h. 56 m.|
|Aries||14°||0 h. 56 m.|
|Taurus||16°||1 h. 4 m.|
|Gemini||26°||1 h. 44 m.|
|Cancer||39°||2 h. 36 m.|
|Leo||42°||2 h. 48 m.|
|Virgo||43°||2 h. 52 m.|
|Libra||43°||2 h. 52 m.|
|Scorpio||42°||2 h. 48 m.|
|Sagittarius||39°||2 h. 36 m.|
These numbers are sufficiently accurate for the present purpose.
In ll. 8-11, there is a gap in the sense in nearly all the MSS., but the Bodley MS. 619 fortunately supplies what is wanting, to the effect that, at places situated on the equator, the poles are in the horizon. At such places, the days and nights are always equal. Chaucer’s next statement is true for all places within the tropics, the peculiarity of them being that they have the sun vertical twice in a year. The statement about the ‘two summer and winters’ is best explained by the following. ‘In the tropical climates, . . seasons are caused more by the effect of the winds (which are very regular, and depend mainly on the sun’s position) than by changes in the direct action of the sun’s light and heat. The seasons are not a summer and winter, so much as recurrences of wet and dry periods, two in each year.’—English Cyclopædia; Seasons, Change of. Lastly, Chaucer reverts to places on the equator, where the stars all seem to move in vertical circles, and the almicanteras are therefore straight lines. The line marked Horizon Rectus is shewn in fig. 5, where the Horizon Obliquus is also shewn, cutting the equinoctial circle obliquely.
27. The real object in this section is to find how many degrees of the equinoctial circle pass the meridian together with a given zodiacal sign. Without even turning the rete, it is clear that the sign Aries, for instance, extends through 28° of the equinoctial; for a line drawn from the centre, in fig. 2, through the end of Aries will (if the figure be correct) pass through the end of the 28th degree below the word Oriens.
28. To do this accurately requires a very carefully marked Astrolabe, on as large a scale as is convenient. It is done by observing where the ends of the given sign, estimated along the outer rim of the zodiacal circle in fig. 2, cross the horizon obliquus as the rete is turned about. Thus, the beginning of Aries lies on the horizon obliquus, and as the rete revolves to the right, the end of it, on the outer rim, will at last lie exactly on the same curved line. When this is the case, the rete ought to have moved through an angle of about 14°, as explained in § 26. By far the best way is to tabulate the results once for all, as I have there done. It is readily seen, from fig. 2, that the signs from Aries to Virgo are northern, and from Libra to Pisces are southern signs. The signs from Capricorn to Gemini are the oblique signs, or as Chaucer calls them, ‘tortuous,’ and ascend in less than 2 hours; whilst the direct signs, from Cancer to Sagittarius, take more than 2 hours to ascend; as shewn in the table on p. 209. The eastern signs in fig. 2 are said to obey to the corresponding western ones.
29. Here both sides of the Astrolabe are used, the ‘rewle’ being made to revolve at the back, and the ‘label’ in front, as usual. First, by the back of the instrument and the ‘rewle,’ take the sun’s altitude. Turn the Astrolabe round, and set the sun’s degree at the right altitude among the almicanteras, and then observe, by help of the label, how far the sun is from the meridian. Again turn the instrument round, and set the ‘rewle’ as far from the meridian as the label was. Then, holding the instrument as near the ground and as horizontal as possible, let the sun shine through the holes of the ‘rewle,’ and immediately after lay the Astrolabe down, without altering the azimuthal direction of the meridional line. It is clear that this line will then point southwards, and the other points of the compass will also be known.
30. This turns upon the definition of the phrase ‘the wey of the sonne.’ It does not mean the zodiacal circle, but the sun’s apparent path on a given day of the year. The sun’s altitude changes but little in one day, and is supposed here to remain the same throughout the time that he is, on that day, visible. Thus, if the sun’s altitude be 61½°, the way of the sun is a small circle, viz. the tropic of Cancer. If the planet be then on the zodiac, in the 1st degree of Capricorn, it is 47° S. from the way of the sun, and so on.
31. The word ‘senith’ is here used in a peculiar sense; it does not mean, as it should, the zenith point, or point directly overhead, but is made to imply the point on the horizon, (either falling upon an azimuthal line, or lying between two azimuths), which denotes the point of sunrise. In the Latin rubric, it is called signum. This point is found by actual observation of the sun at the time of rising. Chaucer’s azimuths divide the horizon into 24 parts; but it is interesting to observe his remark, that ‘shipmen’ divide the horizon into 32 parts, exactly as a compass is divided now-a-days. The reason for the division into 32 parts is obviously because this is the easiest way of reckoning the direction of the wind. For this purpose, the horizon is first divided into 4 parts; each of these is halved, and each half-part is halved again. It is easy to observe if the wind lies half-way between S. and E., or half-way between S. and S.E., or again half-way between S. and S.S.E.; but the division into 24 parts would be unsuitable, because third-parts are much more difficult to estimate.
32. The Latin rubric interprets the conjunction to mean that of the sun and moon. The time of this conjunction is to be ascertained from a calendar. If, e. g. the calendar indicates 9 a.m. as the time of conjunction on the 12th day of March, when the sun is in the first point of Aries, as in § 3, the number of hours after the preceding midday is 21, which answers to the letter X in the border (fig. 2). Turn the rete till the first point of Aries lies under the label, which is made to point to X, and the label shews at the same moment that the degree of the sun is very nearly at the point where the equinoctial circle crosses the azimuthal circle which lies 50° to the E. of the meridian. Hence the conjunction takes place at a point of which the azimuth is 50° to the E. of the S. point, or 5° to the eastward of the S.E. point. The proposition merely amounts to finding the sun’s azimuth at a given time. Fig. 11 shews the position of the rete in this case.
33. Here ‘senyth’ is again used to mean azimuth, and the proposition is, to find the sun’s azimuth by taking his altitude, and setting his degree at the right altitude on the almicanteras. Of course the two co-ordinates, altitude and azimuth, readily indicate the sun’s exact position; and the same for any star or planet.
34. The moon’s latitude is never more than 5¼° from the ecliptic, and this small distance is, ‘in common treatises of Astrolabie,’ altogether neglected; so that it is supposed to move in the ecliptic. First, then, take the moon’s altitude, say 30°. Next take the altitude of some bright star ‘on the moon’s side,’ i. e. nearly in the same azimuth as the moon, taking care to choose a star which is represented upon the Rete by a pointed tongue. Bring this tongue’s point to the right altitude among the almicanteras, and then see which degree of the ecliptic lies on the almicantera which denotes an altitude of 30°. This will give the moon’s place, ‘if the stars in the Astrolabe be set after the truth,’ i. e. if the point of the tongue is exactly where it should be.
35. The motion of a planet is called direct, when it moves in the direction of the succession of the zodiacal signs; retrograde, when in the contrary direction. When a planet is on the right or east side of the Meridional line, and is moving forward along the signs, without increase of declination, its altitude will be less on the second occasion than on the first at the moment when the altitude of the fixed star is the same as before. The same is true if the planet be retrograde, and on the western side. The contrary results occur when the second altitude is greater than the first. But the great defect of this method is that it may be rendered fallacious by a change in the planet’s declination.
36. See fig. 14, Plate VI. If the equinoctial circle in this figure be supposed to be superposed upon that in fig. 5, Plate III, and be further supposed to revolve backwards through an angle of about 60° till the point 1 (fig. 14) rests upon the point where the 8th hour-line crosses the equinoctial, the beginning of the 2nd house will then be found to be on the line of midnight. Similarly, all the other results mentioned follow. For it is easily seen that each ‘house’ occupies a space equal to 2 hours, so that the bringing of the 3rd house to the midnight line brings 1 to the 10th hour-line, and a similar placing of the 4th house brings 1 to the 12th hour-line, which is the horizon obliquus itself. Moving onward 2 more hours, the point 7 (the nadir of 1) comes to the end of the 2nd hour, whilst the 5th house comes to the north; and lastly, when 7 is at the end of the 4th hour, the 6th house is so placed. To find the nadir of a house, we have only to add 6; so that the 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th houses are the nadirs of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th houses respectively.
37. Again see fig. 14, Plate VI. Here the 10th house is at once seen to be on the meridional line. In the quadrant from 1 to 10, the even division of the quadrant into 3 parts shews the 12th and 11th houses. Working downwards from 1, we get the 2nd and 3rd houses, and the 4th house beginning with the north line. The rest are easily found from their nadirs.
38. This problem is discussed in arts. 144 and 145 of Hymes’s Astronomy, 2nd ed. 1840, p. 84. The words ‘for warping’ mean ‘to prevent the errors which may arise from the plate becoming warped.’ The ‘broader’ of course means ‘the larger.’ See fig. 15, Plate VI. If the shadow of the sun be observed at a time before midday when its extremity just enters within the circle, and again at a time after midday when it is just passing beyond the circle, the altitude of the sun at these two observations must be the same, and the south line must lie half-way between the two shadows. In the figure, S and S′ are the 2 positions of the sun, OT the rod, Ot and Ot′ the shadows, and OR the direction of the south line. Ott′ is the metal disc.
39. This begins with an explanation of the terms ‘meridian’ and ‘longitude.’ ‘They chaungen her Almikanteras’ means that they differ in latitude. But, when Chaucer speaks of the longitude and latitude of a ‘climate,’ he means the length and breadth of it. A ‘climate’ (clima) is a belt of the earth included between two fixed parallels of latitude. The ancients reckoned seven climates; in the sixteenth century there were nine. The ‘latitude of the climate’ is the breadth of this belt; the ‘longitude’ of it he seems to consider as measured along lines lying equidistant between the parallels of latitude of the places from which the climates are named. See Stöffler, fol. 20 b; and Petri Apiani Cosmographia, per Gemmam Phrysium restituta, ed. 1574, fol. 7 b. The seven climates were as follows:—
1. That whose central line passes through Meroë (lat. 17°); from nearly 13° to nearly 20°.
2. Central line, through Syene (lat. 24°); from 20° to 27°, nearly.
3. Central line through Alexandria (lat. 31°); from 27° to 34°, nearly.
4. Central line through Rhodes (lat. 36°); from 34° to 39°, nearly.
5. Central line through Rome (lat. 41°); from 39° to 43°, nearly.
6. Central line through Borysthenes (lat. 45°); from 43° to 47°.
7. Through the Riphæan mountains (lat. 48°); from 47° to 50°. But Chaucer must have included an eighth climate (called ultra Mæotides paludes) from 50° to 56°; and a ninth, from 56° to the pole. The part of the earth to the north of the 7th climate was considered by the ancients to be uninhabitable. A rough drawing of these climates is given in MS. Camb. Univ. Lib. Ii. 3. 3, fol. 33 b.
40. The longitude and latitude of a planet being ascertained from an almanac, we can find with what degree it ascends. For example, given that the longitude of Venus is 6° of Capricorn, and her N. latitude 2°. Set the one leg of a compass upon the degree of longitude, and extend the other till the distance between the two legs is 2° of latitude, from that point inward, i. e. northward. The 6th degree of Capricorn is now to be set on the horizon, the label (slightly coated with wax) to be made to point to the same degree, and the north latitude is set off upon the wax by help of the compass. The spot thus marking the planet’s position is, by a very slight movement of the Rete, to be brought upon the horizon, and it will be found that the planet (situated 2° N. of the 6th degree) ascends together with the head (or beginning of the sign) of Capricorn. This result, which is not quite exact, is easily tested by a globe. When the latitude of the planet is south, its place cannot well be found when in Capricorn for want of space at the edge of the Astrolabe.
As a second example, it will be found that, when Jupiter’s longitude is at the end of 1° of Pisces, and his latitude 3° south, he ascends together with the 14th of Pisces, nearly. This is easily verified by a globe, which solves all such problems very readily.
It is a singular fact that most of the best MSS. leave off at the word ‘houre,’ leaving the last sentence incomplete. I quote the last five words—‘þou shalt do wel y-now’—from the MS. in St. John’s College, Cambridge; they also occur in the old editions.
Yif it so be that thou wilt werke by umbra recta, and thou may come to the bas of the toure, in this maner thou schalt werke. Tak the altitude of the tour by bothe holes, so that thy rewle ligge even in a poynt. Ensample as thus: I see him thorw at the5 poynt of 4; than mete I the space be-tween me and the tour, and I finde it 20 feet; than be-holde I how 4 is to 12, right so is the space thee and the tour to the altitude of the tour. For 4 is the thridde part of 12, so is the space be-tween thee and the tour the part of the altitude of the tour; than thryes 20 feet is the10 heyghte of the tour, with adding of thyn owne persone to thyn eye. And this rewle is so general in umbra recta, fro the poynt of oon to 12. And yif thy rewle falle upon 5, than is 5 12-partyes the space be-tween thee and the toure; with adding of thyn owne heyght.
Another maner of werkinge, by umbra versa. Yif so be that thou may nat come to the bas of the tour, I him thorw the nombre of 1; I sette ther a prikke at my fote; than go neer to the tour, and I see him thorw at the poynt of 2, and there I sette a-nother prikke; and I beholde how 1 hath him to 12, and ther5 finde I that it hath him twelfe sythes; than beholde I how 2 hath him to 12, and thou shalt finde it sexe sythes; than thou shalt finde that as 12 above 6 is the numbre of 6, right so space between thy two prikkes the space of 6 tymes thyn altitude. And note, that at the ferste altitude of 1, thou settest a prikke; and10 afterward, whan thou him at 2, ther thou settest an-other prikke; than thou findest between two prikkys feet; than thou shalt finde that 10 is the 6-party of 60. And then the altitude of the tour. other poyntis, yif it fille in umbra versa, as thus: I sette caas it fill upon , and at the secunde upon 3;15 than schalt thou finde that partyes of 12; and 3 is 4 partyes of 12; than passeth 6 4, by nombre of 2; so is the space two prikkes twyes the heyghte of the tour. And yif the differens were thryes, than shulde it be tymes; and thus mayst thou werke fro 2 to 12; and yif it be 4, 4 tymes; or 5, 5 tymes; et sic20de ceteris.
An-other maner of wyrking be umbra recta. Yif it so be that thou mayst nat come to the baas of the tour, in this maner thou schalt werke. Sette thy rewle upon till thou see the altitude, and sette at thy foot a prikke. Than sette thy rewle upon 2, and beholde what is the differense be-tween 1 and 2, and thou shalt5 finde that it is 1. Than mete the space be-tween two prikkes, and that is the 12 partie of the altitude of the tour. And yif ther were 2, it were the 6 partye; and yif ther were 3, the 4 partye; et sic deinceps. And note, yif it were 5, it were the 5 party of 12; and 7, 7 party of 12; and note, at the altitude of thy conclusioun,10 adde the stature of thyn to thyn eye.
* * * * * * *
[Ad cognoscendum medios motus et argumenta de hora in horam cuiuslibet planete, de anno in annum, de die in diem.]
In this maner shalt thou worche: consider thy rote first, the whiche is made the beginning of the tables the yere of oure lord 1397, and entere hit thy slate for the laste meridie of December; and than consider the yere of oure lord, what is the5 date, and be-hold whether thy date be more or lasse than the yere 1397. And yf hit so be that hit be more, loke how many hit passeth, and with so many entere into thy in the first lyne ther-as is writen anni collecti et expansi. And loke the same planet is writen in the hede of thy table, and than 10 what thou findest in directe of the same yere of oure lord whiche is passid, be hit 8, or 9, or 10, nombre that evere it be, til the tyme that thou come to 20, or 40, or 60. And that thou findest in directe in thy slate under thy rote, and adde hit , and that is thy mene mote, for the laste meridian of the15 December, for the same yere whiche that thou purposed. And if hit so be hit passe 20, consider wel that fro 1 to 20 ben anni expansi, and fro 20 to 3000 ben anni collecti; and if thy nombere passe 20, than take that thou findest in directe of 20, and if hit be more, as 6 or 18, than take that thou findest in directe20 there-of, that is to sayen, signes, degrees, minutes, and secoundes, and adde un-to thy rote; and thus to make rotes; and note, if hit so be that the yere of oure lord be lasse than the rote, whiche is the yere of oure lord 1397, than shalt thou wryte in the same wyse furst thy rote in thy slate, and after entere in-to thy table in the same yere be lasse, as I taught be-fore; and25 than consider how many signes, degrees, minutes, and secoundes thyn conteyneth. And so be that ther be 2 entrees, than adde hem togeder, and after with-drawe hem from the rote, the yere of oure lord 1397; and the residue that leveth is thy mene mote fro the laste of December, the whiche30 thou hast purposed; and if hit so be that thou wolt weten thy mene mote any day, or for any fraccioun of day, in this maner thou shalt worche. Make thy rote fro the laste day of Decembere in the maner as I , and afterward behold how many monethis, dayes, and houres ben passid from35 meridie of Decembere, and with that entere with the laste moneth that is ful passed, and take that thou findest in directe of him, and wryte hit in thy slate; and entere with as mony dayes as be more, and wryte that thou findest in directe of the same planete that thou worchest for; and in the same wyse 40 the table of houres, for houres that ben passed, and adde alle these to thy rote; and the residue is the mene mote for the same day and the same houre.
Whan thou wolt make the mene mote of eny planete to be by Arsechieles tables, take thy rote, the whiche is for the yere of oure lord 1397; and if so be that thy yere be passid the date, wryte date, and than wryte the nombere of the yeres. Than withdrawe the yeres out of the yeres that ben passed that rote.5 Ensampul as thus: the yere of oure lord 1400, than wroot I furst 1400. And under that nombere I wrote a ; than withdrow I the laste nombere out of that, and than fond I the residue was 3 yere; I wiste10 that 3 yere was passed fro the rote, the whiche was writen in my tables. Than after-ward I in my tables the annis collectis et expansis, and amonge myn expanse yeres fond I 3 yeer. Than tok I alle the signes, degrees, and minutes, that I fond directe the same planete that I wroghte for, and15 wroot so many signes, degrees, and minutes in my slate, and afterward added I to signes, degrees, minutes, and secoundes, the whiche I fond in my rote the yere of oure lord 1397; and kepte the residue; and than had I the mene mote for the laste day of Decembere. And if thou woldest wete the20 mene mote of any planete in March, Aprile, or May, other in any of the yere, loke how many monethes and dayes ben passed from the laste day of Decembere, the yere of oure lord 1400; and so with monethes and dayes entere in-to thy table ther thou findest thy mene25 mote y-writen in monethes and dayes, and take alle the signes, degrees, minutes, and secoundes that thou findest y-write in directe of thy monethes, and to signes, degrees, minutes, and secoundes that thou findest with thy rote the yere of oure lord 1400, and the residue that leveth is the mene mote30 for that same day. And note, if hit so be that thou woldest mene mote in ony yere that is lasse than thy rote, withdrawe the nombere of so many yeres as hit is lasse than the yere of oure lord a 1397, and kepe the residue; and so many yeres, monethes, and dayes entere in-to thy tabelis of thy mene35 mote. And take alle the signes, degrees, and minutes, secoundes, that thou findest in directe of alle the yeris, monethes, and dayes, and wryte hem in thy slate; and above thilke nombere wryte the signes, degrees, minutes, and secoundes, the whiche thou findest with thy rote the yere of oure lord a 1397; and with-drawe alle the nethere signes and degrees fro the signes and40 degrees, minutes, and secoundes of other signes with thy rote; and thy residue that leveth is thy mene mote for that day.
First wite thou certeinly, how that haven stondeth, that thou list to werke for; that is to say in whiche place of the firmament the mone being, maketh fulle see. Than awayte thou redily in what degree of the zodiak that the mone at that tyme is inne. Bringe furth than the labelle, and set the point therof in 5 same cost that the mone maketh flode, and set thou there the degree of the mone according with the egge of the label. Than afterward awayte where is than the degree of the sonne, at that tyme. Remeve thou than the label fro the mone, and bringe and sette iustly upon the degree of the sonne. And the point of10 the label shal than declare to thee, at what houre of the day or of the night shal be flode. And there also maist thou wite by point of the label, whether it be, at that same tyme, flode or ebbe, or half flode, or quarter flode, or ebbe, or half or quarter ebbe; or ellis at what houre it was last, or shal be next by night or15 by day, knowe, &c. Furthermore, if it so be that thou happe to worke for this matere aboute the coniunccioun, bringe furthe the degree of the mone with the labelle to that coste as it is before seyd. But than thou shalt understonde that thou may not the label fro the20 degree of the mone as thou dide before; for-why the sonne is than in the same degree with the mone. And so thou may at that tyme by the point of the labelle unremeved knowe the houre of the flode or of the ebbe, as it is before seyd, &c. And evermore25 as thou findest the mone passe fro the sonne, so remeve thou the labelle than fro the degree of the mone, and bringe it to the degree of the sonne. And worke thou than as thou dide before, &c. Or elles knowe thou what houre it is that thou art inne, by thyn instrument. Than bringe thou furth fro thennes the labelle30 and ley it upon the degree of the mone, and therby may thou wite also whan it was flode, or whan it wol be next, be it night or day; &c.
[The following sections are spurious; they are numbered so as to shew what propositions they repeat.]
Yif thy rewle falle upon the 8 poynt on right schadwe, than make thy figure of 8; than loke how moche space of feet is be-tween thee and the tour, and multiplye that be 12, and whan thou multiplied it, than divyde it be the same nombre of 8, and kepe the residue; and5 adde therto up to thyn eye to the residue, and that shal be the verry heyght of the tour. And thus mayst thou werke on the same wyse, fro 1 to 12.
An-other maner of werking upon the same syde. Loke upon which poynt thy rewle falleth whan thou seest the top of the tour thorow two litil holes; and mete than the space fro thy foot to the baas of the tour; and right as the nombre of thy poynt hath him-self to 12, right5 so the mesure be-tween thee and the tour hath him-self to the heighte of the same tour. Ensample: I sette caas thy rewle falle upon 8; than is 8 two-third partyes of 12; so the space is the two-third partyes of the tour.
To knowe the poyntes of umbra versa. Yif thy rewle falle upon 3, whan thou seest the top of the tour, set a prikke there-as thy foot stont; and go ner til thou mayst see the same top at the poynt of 4, and sette ther another prikke. Than mete how many foot ben be-tween the two prikkes, and adde the lengthe up to5 thyn eye ther-to; and that shal be the heyght of the tour. And note, that 3 is [the] fourthe party of 12, and 4 is the thridde party of 12. Now passeth 4 the nombre of 3 be the distaunce of 1; therfore the same space, with thyn heyght to thyn eye, the heyght of the tour. And yif it so be that ther be 2 or 3 distaunce in the nombres, so shulde10 the mesures be-tween the prikkes be twyes or thryes the heyghte of the tour.
To knowe the heyghte of thinges, yif thou mayst come to the bas of a thing. Sette thy rewle upon what thou wilt, so that thou may see the top of the thing thorw the two holes, and make a marke ther thy foot standeth; and go neer or forther, til thou mayst see thorw another poynt, and marke ther a-nother marke. And loke than what5 is the differense be-twen the two poyntes in the scale; and right as that difference hath him to 12, right so the space be-tween thee and the two markes hath him to the heyghte of the thing. Ensample: I set caas thou seest it thorw a poynt of 4; after, at the poynt of 3. Now passeth the nombre of 4 the nombre of 3 be the difference of 1;10 and right as this difference 1 hath him-self to 12, right so the mesure be-tween the two markes hath him to the heyghte of the thing, putting to the heyghte of thy-self to thyn eye; and thus mayst thou werke fro 1 to 12.
Furthermore, yif thou wilt knowe in umbra versa, by the craft of umbra recta, I suppose thou take the altitude at the poynt of 4, and makest a marke; and thou goost neer til thou hast it at the poynt of 3, and than makest thou ther a-nother mark. Than muste thou5 devyde 144 by eche of the poyntes be-fornseyd, thus: yif thou devyde 144 be , and the nombre that cometh ther-of schal be 36, and yif thou devyde 144 be 3, and the nombre that cometh ther-of schal be 48, thanne loke what is the difference be-tween 36 and 48, and ther shalt thou fynde 12; and right as 12 hath him to 12, right so the space10 be-tween two prikkes hath him to the altitude of the thing.
41. Sections 41-43 and 41a-42b are from the MS. in St. John’s College, Cambridge. For the scale of umbra recta, see fig. 1, Plate I. Observe that the umbra recta is used where the angle of elevation of an object is greater than 45°; the umbra versa, where it is less. See also fig. 16, Plate VI; where, if AC be the height of the tower, BC the same height minus the height of the observer’s eye (supposed to be placed at E), and EB the distance of the observer from the tower, then bc : Eb : : EB : BC. But Eb is reckoned as 12, and if bc be 4, we find that BC is 3 EB, i. e. 60 feet, when EB is 20. Hence AC is 60 feet, plus the height of the observer’s eye. The last sentence is to be read thus—‘And if thy “rewle” fall upon 5, then are 5-12ths of the height equivalent to the space between thee and the tower (with addition of thine own height).’ The MS. reads ‘5 12-partyes þe heyȜt of þe space,’ &c.; but the word of must be transposed, in order to make sense. It is clear that, if bc=5, then 5 : 12 : : EB : BC, which is the same as saying that EB= BC. Conversely, BC is EB=48, if EB=20.
42. See fig. 1, Plate I. See also fig. 17, Plate VI. Let Eb=12, bc =1; also E′b′=12, b′c′=2; then EB=12 BC, E′B=6 BC; therefore EE′=6 BC. If EE′=60 feet, then BC=⅙ EE′=10 feet. To get the whole height, add the height of the eye. The last part of the article, beginning ‘For other poyntis,’ is altogether corrupt in the MS.
43. Here versa (in M.) is certainly miswritten for recta, as in L. See fig. 18, Plate VI. Here Eb=E′b′=12; b′c′=1, bc=2. Hence E′B= BC, EB = BC, whence EE′ = BC. Or again, if bc become = 3, 4, 5, &c., successively, whilst b′c′ remains = 1, then EE′ is successively = or ⅙, or ¼, , &c. Afterwards, add in the height of E.
44. Sections 44 and 45 are from MS. Digby 72. This long explanation of the method of finding a planet’s place depends upon the tables which were constructed for that purpose from observation. The general idea is this. The figures shewing a planet’s position for the last day of December, 1397, give what is called the root, and afford us, in fact, a starting-point from which to measure. An ‘argument’ is the angle upon which the tabulated quantity depends; for example, a very important ‘argument’ is the planet’s longitude, upon which its declination may be made to depend, so as to admit of tabulation. The planet’s longitude for the given above-mentioned date being taken as the root, the planet’s longitude at a second date can be found from the tables. If this second date be less than 20 years afterwards, the increase of motion is set down separately for each year, viz. so much in 1 year, so much in 2 years, and so on. These separate years are called anni expansi. But when the increase during a large round number of years (such as 20, 40, or 60 years at once) is allowed for, such years are called anni collecti. For example, a period of 27 years includes 20 years taken together, and 7 separate or expanse years. The mean motion during smaller periods of time, such as months, days, and hours, is added in afterwards.
45. Here the author enters a little more into particulars. If the mean motion be required for the year 1400, 3 years later than the starting-point, look for 3 in the table of expanse years, and add the result to the number already corresponding to the ‘root,’ which is calculated for the last day of December, 1397. Allow for months and days afterwards. For a date earlier than 1397 the process is just reversed, involving subtraction instead of addition.
46. This article is probably not Chaucer’s. It is found in MS. Bodley 619, and in MS. Addit. 29250. The text is from the former of these, collated with the latter. What it asserts comes to this. Suppose it be noted, that at a given place, there is a full flood when the moon is in a certain quarter; say, e. g. when the moon is due east. And suppose that, at the time of observation, the moon’s actual longitude is such that it is in the first point of Cancer. Make the label point due east; then bring the first point of Cancer to the east by turning the Rete a quarter of the way round. Let the sun at the time be in the first point of Leo, and bring the label over this point by the motion of the label only, keeping the Rete fixed. The label then points nearly to the 32nd degree near the letter Q, or about S.E. by E.; shewing that the sun is S.E. by E. (and the moon consequently due E.) at about 4 a.m. In fact, the article merely asserts that the moon’s place in the sky is known from the sun’s place, if the difference of their longitudes be known. At the time of conjunction, the moon and sun are together, and the difference of their longitudes is zero, which much simplifies the problem. If there is a flood tide when the moon is in the E., there is another when it comes to the W., so that there is high water twice a day. It may be doubted whether this proposition is of much practical utility.
41a. This comes to precisely the same as Art. 41, but is expressed with a slight difference. See fig. 16, where, if bc = 8, then BC = EB.
41b. Merely another repetition of Art. 41. It is hard to see why it should be thus repeated in almost the same words. If bc = 8 in fig. 16, then EB = BC = ⅔ BC. The only difference is that it inverts the equation in the last article.
42a. This is only a particular case of Art. 42. If we can get bc=3, and b′c′ = 4, the equations become EB = 4BC, E′B = 3BC; whence EE′ = BC, a very convenient result. See fig. 17.
43a. The reading versam (as in the MS.) is absurd. We must also read ‘nat come,’ as, if the base were approachable, no such trouble need be taken; see Art. 41. In fact, the present article is a mere repetition of Art. 43, with different numbers, and with a slight difference in the method of expressing the result. In fig. 18, if b′c′ = 3, bc = 4, we have E′B = BC, EB = BC; or, subtracting, EE′ = BC; or BC = 12 EE′. Then add the height of E, viz. Ea, which = AB.
42b. Here, ‘by the craft of Umbra Recta’ signifies, by a method similar to that in the last article, for which purpose the numbers must be adapted for computation by the umbra recta. Moreover, it is clear, from fig. 17, that the numbers 4 and 3 (in lines 2 and 4) must be transposed. If the side parallel to bE be called nm, and mn, Ec be produced to meet in o, then mo : mE : : bE : bc; or mo : 12 : : 12 : bc; or mo=144, divided by bc (=3)=48. Similarly, m′o′=144, divided by b′c′ (=4)=36. And, as in the last article, the difference of these is to 12, as the space EE′ is to the altitude. This is nothing but Art. 42 in a rather clumsier shape.
Hence it appears that there are here but 3 independent propositions, viz. thouse in articles 41, 42, and 43, corresponding to figs. 16, 17, and 18 respectively. Arts. 41a and 41b are mere repetitions of 41; 42a and 42b, of 42; and 43a, of 43.
As, in the preceding pages which contain the text, the lower portion of each page is occupied with a running commentary, such Critical Notes upon the text as seem to be most necessary are here subjoined.
Title. Tractatus, &c.; adopted from the colophon. MS. F has ‘tractatus astrolabii.’ A second title, ‘Bred and mylk for childeren,’ is in MSS. B. and E.
[The MSS. are as follows:—A. Cambridge Univ. Lib. Dd. 3. 53.—B. Bodley, E Museo 54.—C. Rawlinson 1370.—D. Ashmole 391.—E. Bodley 619.—F. Corpus 424.—G. Trin. Coll. Cam. R. 15. 18.—H. Sloane 314.—I. Sloane 261.—K. Rawlinson Misc. 3.—L. Addit. 23002. (B. M.)—M. St. John’s Coll. Cam.—N. Digby 72.—O. Ashmole 360.—P. Camb. Univ. Lib. Dd. 12. 51.—Q. Ashmole 393.—R. Egerton 2622 (B. M.).—S. Addit. 29250 (B. M.) See the descriptions of them in the Introduction.]
Written in three Books; but I number the lines consecutively throughout, for convenience; at the same time giving the separate numbering (of Books II. and III.) within marks of parenthesis. The title of the poem is expressly given at l. 663. The author gives his name as Geffrey; l. 729.
Lydgate’s Temple of Glass is partly imitated from the House of Fame; Warton, Hist. E. Poetry, 1871, iii. 61. The same is true of the Palice of Honour, by Gawain Douglas. For further remarks, see the Introduction.
As the poem is not quite easy to follow, I here subjoin a brief Argument of its contents.
Book I. A discussion on dreams. I will tell you my dream on the 10th of December. But first let me invoke Morpheus. May those who gladly hear me have joy; but may those who dislike my words have as evil a fate as Crœsus, King of Lydia! (1-110).
I slept, and dreamt I was in a temple of glass, dedicated to Venus. On a table of brass I found the opening words of Vergil’s Æneid; after which I saw the destruction of Troy, the death of Priam, the flight of Æneas, the loss of Creusa, the voyage of Æneas to Italy, the storm at sea sent by Juno, the arrival of Æneas at Carthage, how kindly Dido received him, and how Æneas betrayed and left her, causing Dido’s lament and suicide. Similar falsehood was seen in Demophon, Achilles, Paris, Jason, Hercules, and Theseus. Next, Æneas sailed to Italy, and lost Palinurus; he visited the lower regions, where he saw Anchises, Palinurus, Dido, and Deiphobus. Afterwards he warred in Italy, slew Turnus, and won Lavinia (111-467).
After this I went out of the temple, and found a large plain. Looking up, I saw an eagle above me, of enormous size and having golden feathers (468-508).
Book II. Such a strange vision as mine never appeared to Scipio, Nebuchadnezzar, Pharaoh, or Turnus. O Venus and Muses, help me to tell it! The great eagle swooped down upon me, seized me, and bore me aloft, and told me (in a man’s voice) not to be afraid. I thought I was being borne up to the stars, like Enoch or Ganymede. The eagle then addressed me, and told me some events of my own life, and said that he would bear me to the House of Fame, where I should hear many wonderful things (509-710).
The House stood in the midst, between heaven, earth, and sea; and all sounds travelled thither, ‘Geoffrey,’ said he, ‘you know how all things tend to seek their own proper place; a stone sinks down, while smoke flies up. Sound is merely broken air, and if you would know how all sounds come to Fame’s House, observe how, when a stone is thrown into water, the rings made by the ripples extend from the spot where it fell till they reach the shore. Just so all earthly sounds travel till they reach Fame’s House.’ He then bade me look below me, and asked what I saw. I saw fields, hills, rivers, towns, and sea; but soon he had soared so high that the earth dwindled to a point. I was higher up (I said) than ever was Alexander, Scipio, or Dædalus. He then bade me look upward; I saw the zodiac, the milky way, and clouds, snows, and rain beneath me. Then I thought of the descriptions of heaven in Boethius and Marcian. The eagle would have taught me the names of the stars; I refused to learn. He then asked if I could now hear the sounds that murmured in the House of Fame. I said they sounded like the beating of the sea on rocks (711-1045).
Then he set me down upon my feet in a way that led to the House, and bade me go forward; observing that I should find that the words that flew about in Fame’s House assumed the outward forms of the men upon earth who uttered them (1046-90).
Book III. Apollo, aid me to write this last book! My rime is artless; I aim at expressing my thoughts only (1091-1109).
The House of Fame stood high upon a lofty rock, which I climbed laboriously. The rock was formed of ice. On the southern side it was covered with names, many of the letters of which were melted away. On the northern side, it was likewise covered with names, which remained unmelted and legible. On the top of the mountain I found a beautiful House, which I cannot describe though I remember it. It was all of beryl, and full of windows. In niches round about were harpers and minstrels, such as Orpheus, Arion, Chiron, and Glasgerion. Far from these, by themselves, was a vast crowd of musicians. There were Marsyas, Misenus, Joab, and others. In other seats were jugglers, sorcerers, and magicians; Medea, Circe, Hermes, and Coll Tregetour. I next beheld the golden gates. Then I heard the cries of those that were heralds to the goddess Fame. How shall I describe the great hall, that was plated with gold, and set with gems? High on a throne of ruby sat the goddess, who at first seemed but a dwarf, but presently grew so that she reached from earth to heaven. Her hair was golden, and she was covered with innumerable ears and tongues. Her shoulders sustained the names of famous men, such as Alexander and Hercules. On either side of the hall were huge pillars of metal. On the first of these, composed of lead and iron, was the Jew Josephus; the iron was the metal of Mercury, and the lead of Saturn. Next, on an iron pillar, was Statius; and on other iron pillars were Homer, Dares, Dictys, Guido, and the English Geoffrey, who upbore the fame of Troy. On a pillar of iron, but covered over with tin, was Vergil; and beside him Ovid and Lucan. On a pillar of sulphur stood Claudian (1110-1512).
Next I saw a vast company, all worshipping Fame. These she rejected, but would say of them neither good nor bad. She then sent a messenger to fetch Æolus, the god of wind, who should bring with him two trumpets, namely of Praise and Slander. Æolus, with his man Triton, came to Fame. And when many undeserving suppliants approached her, she bade Æolus blow his black trump of Slander. He did so, and from it there issued a stinking smoke; and so this second company got renown, but it was evil. A third company sued to her, and she bade Æolus blow his golden trump of Praise. Straightway he did so, and the blast had a perfume like that of balm and roses. A fourth company, a very small one, asked for no fame at all, and their request was granted. A fifth company modestly asked for no fame, though they had done great things; but Fame bade Æolus blow his golden trumpet, till their praise resounded everywhere. A sixth company of idle men, who had done no good, asked for fame; and their request was granted. A seventh company made the same request; but Fame reviled them; Æolus blew his black trump, and all men laughed at them. An eighth company, of wicked men, prayed for good fame; but their request was refused. A ninth company, also of wicked men, prayed for a famous but evil name, and their request was granted. Among them was the wretch who set on fire the temple at Athens (1513-1867).
Then some man perceived me, and began to question me. I explained that I had come to learn strange things, and not to gain fame. He led me out of the castle and into a valley, where stood the house of Dædalus (i. e. the house of Rumour). This strange house was made of basket-work, and was full of holes, and all the doors stood wide open. All sorts of rumours entered there, and it was sixty miles long. On a rock beside it I saw my eagle perched, who again seized me, and bore me into it through a window. It swarmed with people, all of whom were engaged in telling news; and often their stories would fly out of a window. Sometimes a truth and a lie would try to fly out together, and became commingled before they could get away. Every piece of news then flew to Fame, who did as she pleased with each. The house of Dædalus was thronged with pilgrims, pardoners, couriers, and messengers, and I heard strange things. In one corner men were telling stories about love, and there was a crush of men running to hear them. At last I saw a man whom I knew not; but he seemed to be one who had great authority—(here the poem ends, being incomplete; ll. 1868-2158).
The general idea of the poem was plainly suggested by the description of Fame in Vergil, the house of Fame as described near the beginning of the twelfth book of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and various hints in Dante’s Divina Commedia. For a close and searching comparison between the House of Fame and Dante’s great poem, see the article by A. Rambeau in Engl. Studien, iii. 209.
*∗* N.B. The references are to the B-text, except where special mention of the A-text is made. The latter is denoted by the letter ‘A,’ preceded by a short line.
It is not clear what account Chaucer followed; see the Introduction. The chief sources for the history are Plutarch, Appian, Dion Cassius, and Orosius (bk. vi. c. 19). I shall refer to the Life of M. Antonius in my edition of Shakespeare’s Plutarch (denoted below by Sh. Plut.). Bech points out that one of Chaucer’s sources was Florus; see note to l. 655.
Chaucer follows Ovid, Metamorph. iv. 55-166; and frequently very closely. The reader should compare the Latin text throughout. For example, Ovid begins thus:—
In Golding’s translation, fol. 43, back, thus:—
This at once explains the allusion to Semiramis, the celebrated but mythical queen who was said to have surrounded Babylon with walls of fabulous strength, having a deep ditch outside them. See Orosius, as translated by King Alfred, in Sweet’s A. S. Reader, fourth ed. pp. 28, 29. Gower tells the same story, and likewise follows Ovid; C. A. i. 324.
This Legend purports to be taken from Vergil and Ovid; see l. 928. There is very little of it from Ovid, viz. only the last 16 lines, which depend on Ovid’s Heroides, vii. 1-8, and ll. 1312-6, which owe something to the same epistle.
The rest is from the Æneid, bks. i-iv, as will be pointed out.
Note that Chaucer had already given the story of Dido at some length in his Hous of Fame, 151-382, which should be compared. He mentions Ovid there also; l. 379.
The chief sources of this fourth Legend are Guido delle Colonne’s Historia Troiana, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, bk. vii, and Heroides, letters vi. and xii. The story of Hypsipyle is also in Statius’ Thebaid, bk. v, and in l. 1437 (see note) there is a reference to the Argonauticon of Valerius Flaccus. See further in the Preface; and see the notes to ll. 1396, 1467.
Chaucer cites Ovid and Livy, and in l. 1873 again appeals to Livy as the authority. The story is in Livy, bk. j. c. 57-59; and in Ovid, Fasti, ii. 721-852. Chaucer doubtless appeals to Livy as being a professed historian, but the reader will find that, as a matter of fact, he follows mainly the account in Ovid from beginning to end, and sometimes almost word for word. Livy and Ovid were contemporary; the former was born 59, and died ad 17; the latter was born 43, and died ad 18. Gower also tells this story, and likewise follows Ovid and (near the end) Livy; C. A. iii. 251.
For a remark upon the title, see note to l. 1966.
It is difficult to say whence Chaucer derived all of this Legend. The beginning is from Ovid, Metam. vii. 456-8, viii. 6-176; the main part of the story is like Plutarch’s Life of Theseus, or some similar source; and the conclusion from Ovid’s Heroides, epist. x. Further, ll. 2222-4 refer to Met. viii. 176-182. See also Hyginus, Fabulae, capp. xli-xliii; Æneid, vi. 20-30; and cf. Gower, C. A. ii. 302-311.
Chaucer’s Prologue ends at l. 2243. The tale is from Ovid, Met. vi. 424-605, with some omissions, and ends at l. 2382. Gower has the same story; C. A. bk. v. ed. Pauli, ii. 313.
Gower tells the same story in his Confessio Amantis, bk. iv. (ed. Pauli, ii. 26); and it is likely that he and Chaucer derived it from the same source, whatever that may have been. A portion of the latter part, from l. 2496, is taken from Ovid, Heroides, Ep. ii. And see note to l. 2423.
The story is told in Ovid, Her. xiv. But Chaucer has taken some of the details from Boccaccio, De Genealogia Deorum, lib. ii. c. 22 Cf. Hyginus, Fab. 168. See the Introduction.
The title ‘Tractatus de Conclusionibus Astrolabii’ is suggested by the wording of the colophon on p. 223. But a better title is, simply, ‘Tractatus de Astrolabio,’ or ‘Treatise on the Astrolabe,’ as the ‘Conclusiones’ only occupy the Second Part of the work; see p. 188. Indeed MS. F. has ‘Tractatus Astrolabii’; see p. 233. MSS. B. and E. have the singular title—‘Bred and mylk for childeren.’
P. 395.—In a small book by Professor G. Stephens, entitled Förteckning öfver de fornämsta Brittiska och Fransyska Handskrifterna i Stockholm (Stockholm, 1847), at p. 20, is a description of a MS. which contains a copy of Palamon and Arcite in French verse, and was written early in the fifteenth century. It is remarkable that the metre is the same as that of the Knightes Tale; from which, perhaps, it was borrowed.
In Anglia, XVI. 261, L. Fränkel, of Munich, reprints a Latin fable by Casparus Cropacius, which first appeared in 1581, in illustration of the Milleres Tale. This fable follows Chaucer closely in the principal details, but omits the humour of the original. I fail to see any merit in this form of the story, and therefore refrain from reproducing it.
P. 423. See Dr. Jessopp’s article on ‘William of Norwich’ in The Nineteenth Century, May, 1893.