Chaucer's Works (ed. Skeat) Vol. V/Gamelyn
NOTES TO THE TALE OF GAMELYN.
1. Litheth, hearken ye; cf. l. 169. This is the imperative plural; so also lesteneth, herkeneth. See remarks on the dialect in vol. iii. p. 400. For the explanation of the harder words, see the Glossary. Compare: 'Now list and lithe, you gentlemen'; Percy Folio MS., ii. 218; 'Now lithe and listen, gentlemen,' id. iii. 77.
3. Iohan of Boundys. It is not clear what is meant by Boundys, which is repeated in l. 226; nor is there any clear indication of the supposed locality of the story. Lodge, in his novel (see vol. iii. p. 404), ingeniously substitutes Bourdeaux, and calls the knight 'Sir John of Bourdeaux.' In Shakespeare, he becomes Sir Roland de Bois.
The reading righte (for right) is demanded by grammar, the article being in the definite form; and the same reading is equally demanded by the metre. Where the final e is thus necessary to the grammar and metre alike, there is little difficulty in restoring the correct reading. Compare the good-e knight in ll. 11, 25, 33.
4. 'He was sufficiently instructed by right bringing up, and knew much about sport.' Nurture is the old phrase for a 'genteel education.' Thus we find 'The boke of Nurture, or Schoole of good maners: for men, seruants, and children,' written by Hugh Rhodes, and printed in 1577; and John Russell's 'Boke of Nurture,' in MS. Harl. 4011. See the Babees Book, ed. F. J. Furnivall, 1868; where much information as to the behaviour of our forefathers is given. By game is meant what is now called sport; 'The Master of the Game' is the name of an old treatise on hunting; see Reliquiae Antiquae, i. 149. Cf. As You Like It, ii. 7. 97: 'Yet am I inland bred, And know some nurture.'
5. Thre sones, three sons. They are here named Johan, Ote, and Gamelyn; Lodge calls them Saladyne, Fernandine, and Rosader; in Shakespeare, they are Oliver, Jaques, and Orlando. The characters of the three are much the same in all three versions of the story.
6. sone he began, he soon began, viz. to evince his disposition.
12. his day, his term of life, his lifetime. So in Hamlet, v. 1. 315, the 'dog will have his day.' Hence after his day is, practically, after his death.
14. 'This appears to mean, that the knight had himself acquired his land, and held it in fee simple (verrey purchas), not entailed nor settled; and that, consequently, he had a right to divide it among his children as he pleased. The housbond in this case means a man who was kept at home looking after his domestic business and his estates, and who could not be wyde-wher,' i. e. often far from home; note by Mr. Jephson. See ll. 58-61 below, which prove that the knight had partly inherited his land, and partly won it by military service. Cf. Chaucer, Prol. 256, 319. In the Freres Tale (D. 1449) we find:—
'And here I ryde about my purchasing,
To wite wher men wolde yeve me any-thing;
My purchas is theffect of al my rente.'
I cannot think that Dr. Morris is right in explaining purchasing by 'prosecution'; see Purchas in the Glossary.
16. hadde, might have; the subjunctive mood.
20. on lyve, in life; now written a-live or alive. Lyve is the dat. case, governed by on, which constantly has the sense of 'in' in A.S. and M.E.
23. ther, where. The reader should note this common idiom, or he will miss the structure of the sentence. Cf. ll. 33, 52, 66, &c.
31. ne dismay you nought, do not dismay yourself; i. e. be not dismayed or dispirited.
32. 'God can bring good out of the evil that is now wrought.' Boot, advantage, remedy, or profit, is continually contrasted with bale or evil; the alliteration of the words rendered them suitable for proverbial phrases. One of the commonest is 'When bale is hext, then boot is next,' i. e. when evil is highest (at its height), then the remedy is nighest. This is one of the Proverbs of Hendyng; see Specimens of English, ed. Morris and Skeat, part ii. p. 40. So, in l. 34, Boote of bale means 'remedy of evil,' good out of evil. See note to l. 631.
34. it is no nay, there is no denying it, it cannot be denied. So in Chaucer, C. T. 8693, 9015 (E. 817, 1139).
39. that on, that other, the one, the other. Sometimes corruptly written the ton, the tother; and hence the vulgar English the tother.
43. Such was their intention, but it was partly overruled; for we see, from l. 45, that the second son duly received his share.
48. whan he good cowde, when he knew what was good, i. e. when he was old enough to know right from wrong; or, as we now say, when he came to years of discretion. Observe that the division of land here proposed was not final; for the good knight, being still alive, altered it; see l. 54.
53. 'Saint Martin was a Hungarian by birth, and served in the army under Constantius and Julian. He is represented in pictures as a Roman knight on horseback, with his sword dividing his cloak into two pieces, one of which he gives to a beggar. He was a strenuous opponent of the Arians, and died at Tours, where his relics were preserved and honoured.'—Jephson. St. Martin's day, commonly called Martinmas, is Nov. 11. The knight swears by St. Martin in his character of soldier. Cf. l. 225.
57. plowes, ploughlands; see the Glossary.
62. The knight's intention was, evidently, that Gamelyn's share should be the best. In Lodge's novel, Sir John gives to the eldest 'fourteen ploughlands, with all my manner-houses and my richest plate'; to the second, 'twelve ploughlands'; but to the youngest, says he, 'I give my horse, my armour, and my launce, with sixteene ploughlands; for, if the inwarde thoughts be discovered by outward shadows, Rosader wil exceed you all in bountie and honour.'
64. 'That my bequest may stand,' i. e. remain good.
67. stoon-stille, as still as a stone. So Chaucer has 'as stille as stoon'; Clerkes Tale, E. 121. See ll. 263, 423.
76. 'And afterwards he paid for it in his fair skin.' We should now say, his recompense fell upon his own head.
78. of good wil, readily, of their own accord. 'They of their own accord feared him as being the strongest.' So also 'of thine own good will,' Shak. Rich. II. iv. 1. 177; 'by her good will,' Venus and Adonis, 479. But the nearest parallel passage is in Octouian Imperator, l. 561, pr. in Weber's Metrical Romances, iii. 180. It is there said of some sailors who were chased by a lioness, that they ran away very hastily 'with good wylle.' Cf. in wille, i. e. anxious, in l. 173.
82. To handle his beard, i. e. to feel, by his beard, that he was of full age. Lodge has a parallel passage, but gives a more literal sense to the expression 'hondlen his berd,' which merely signifies that he was growing up. 'With that, casting up his hand, he felt haire on his face, and perceiving his beard to bud, for choler he began to blush, and swore to himselfe he would be no more subject to such slaverie.' Cf. As You Like It, iii. 2. 218, 396.
90. 'Is our meat prepared,' i. e. is our dinner ready? Our perhaps means my, being used in a lordly style. See the next note.
92. Observe the use of the familiar thou, in place of the usual respectful ye. This accounts for the elder brother's astonishment, as expressed in the next line.
100. 'Brother by name, and brother in that only.'
101. that rape was of rees, who was hasty in his fit of passion. Mr. Jephson's explanation 'deprived of reason for anger' is incorrect. Rape is hasty; see the Glossary. Rees is the modern E. race, A. S. rǣs, applied to any sudden course, whether bodily or mental; cf. l. 547. So in Gower, ed. Pauli, i. 335, we find:—
'Do thou no-thinge in suche a rees,'
i. e. do nothing in such a sudden fit; referring to Pyramus, who rashly slew himself upon the hasty false assumption that Thisbe was dead.
102. gadeling, fellow; a term of reproach. But observe that the sarcasm lies in the similarity of the sound of the word to Gamelyn. Hence Gamelyn's indignant reply. In P. Plowman, C. xi. 297, gadelynges are ranked with false folk, deceivers, and liars.
103. 'Thou shall be glad to get mere food and clothing.'
109. ner, nigher, the old comparative form; afterwards written near, and wrongly extended to near-er, with a double comparative suffix. Cf. l. 135, 352.
a-foote, on foot; not a foot, the length of a foot, as that would have no final e.
115. schal algate, must in any case.
116. This is obscure; it may mean 'unless thou art the one (to do it)'; i. e. to give me the beating. In other words, Gamelyn dares his brother to use the rod himself, not to delegate such an office to another. But his brother was much too wary to take such advice; he preferred to depute the business to his men.
121. over-al, all about, all round, everywhere.
122. stood, i. e. which stood. The omission of the relative is common.
125. good woon, good store; plentifully.
129. for his eye, for awe of him. His is not the possessive pronoun here, but the genitive of the personal pronoun.
130. by halves, lit. by sides; i. e. some to one side, some to the other. drowe by halves = sidled away.
131. 'May ye prosper ill!' Cf. Chaucer, Pard. Tale, C. 947.
136. 'I will teach thee some play with the buckler.' An allusion to the 'sword and buckler play,' described in Strutt, Sports and Pastimes, bk. iii. ch. 6. § 22. Not unlike our modern 'single-stick,' but with the addition of a buckler in the left hand. Strutt gives a picture from a Bodleian MS., dated 1344, in which clubs or bludgeons are substituted for swords; and, no doubt, the swords used in sport were commonly of wood. Gamelyn is speaking jocosely; he had no buckler, but he had a wooden 'pestel,' which did very well for a sword.
137. 'by Saint Richard was a favourite oath with the outlaws of Robin Hood's stamp, probably because of his Saxon extraction'; Jephson. Mr. Jephson adds the following quotation from the English Martyrologe, 1608: 'Saint Richard, King and Confessor, was sonne to Lotharius, King of Kent, who, for the love of Christ, taking upon him a long peregrination, went to Rome for devotion to that sea [see], and, on his way homeward, died at Lucca, about the year of Christ 750, where his body is kept until this day, with great veneration, in the oratory and chappell of St. Frigidian, and adorned with an epitaph both in verse and prose.' But this is altogether beside the mark; for Mr. Jephson certainly refers to the wrong saint. There were four St. Richards, commemorated, respectively, on Feb. 7, April 3, June 9, and August 21; see Alban Butler's Lives of the Saints. The day of the Saxon king is Feb. 7; but he could hardly have been so fresh in the memory of Englishmen as the more noted St. Richard, bishop of Chichester, who died in 1253, and was canonized in 1262; his day being April 3. There is a special fitness in the allusion to this latter saint, because he was a pattern of brotherly love, and Johan is here deprecating Gamelyn's anger. Alban Butler says of him: 'The unfortunate situation of his eldest brother's affairs gave him an occasion of exercising his benevolent disposition. Richard condescended to become his brother's servant, undertook the management of his farms, and by his industry and generosity effectually retrieved his brother's before distressed circumstances.' His name still appears in our Prayer-books.
141. I mot nede is used for 'I must needs'; see examples in Mätzner, Alteng. Sprachproben, i. 302 (182). Mot is the present tense; whereas moste (mod. E. must) is the past tense, and was once grammatically incorrect as a form of the present tense.
150. of thing, of a thing; as in Sir Tristram, 406.
154. 'And mind that thou blame me, unless I soon grant it.'
156. 'If we are to be at one,' i. e. to be reconciled. Cf. l. 166.
158. 'Thou must cause me to possess it, if we are not to quarrel.'
160. We should now say—'All that your father left you, and more too, if you would like to have it.' The offer is meant to be very liberal.
164. 'As he well knew (how to do).'
167. 'In no respect he knew with what sort of a false treason his brother kissed him.' Whiche is cognate with the Latin qualis, and has here the same sense.
171. 'There was a wrestling-match proclaimed there, hard by.'
172. 'And, as prizes for it, there were exhibited a ram and a ring.' In Lodge's novel, 'a day of wrastling and tournament' is appointed by Torimond, king of France. In Chaucer's Prologue, A. 548, we find: 'At wrastling he wolde have alwey the ram.' On this Tyrwhitt has the following note: 'This was the usual prize at wrestling-matches. See C. T. l. 13671 [Sir Thopas, st. 5], and Gamelyn, ll. 184, 280. Mathew Paris mentions a wrestling-match at Westminster, A. D. 1222, at which a ram was the prize.' In Strutt's Sports and Pastimes, bk. ii. ch. 2. § 14, two men are represented as wrestling for a live cock. Strutt also quotes a passage from 'A mery Geste of Robin Hode,' which gives an account of a wrestling, at which the following prizes were 'set up' (the same phrase being used as here), viz. a white bull, a courser with saddle and bridle, a pair of gloves, a red gold ring, and a pipe of wine!
199. 'Why dost thou thus behave?' i. e. make this lamentation. Cf. As You Like It, i. 2. 133-140.
204. 'Unless God be surety for them,' i. e. ensure their recovery. The story supposes that the two sons are not slain, but greatly disabled; as Shakespeare says, 'there is little hope of life' in them.
206. with the nones, on the occasion that, provided that. For the nones, for the occasion, stands for for then ones, for the once; so here with the nones = with then ones, with the once. Then is the dat. case of the article, being a weakened form of A.S. ðām. Cf. l. 456.
207. wilt thow wel doon, if thou wishest to do a kind deed.
214. drede not of, fear not for.
217. 'How he dared adventure himself, to prove his strength upon him that was so doughty a champion.'
224. whyl he couthe go, whilst he was able to go about.
230. a moche schrewe thou were, thou wast a great doer of mischief. Gamelyn retorts that he is now a more, i. e. a still greater doer of mischief. Moche is often used of size. In Havelok, l. 982, more than the meste = bigger than the biggest.
236. gonne goon, did go. Gonne is a mere auxiliary verb.
237. 'The champion tried various sleights upon Gamelyn, who was prepared for them.'
240. faste aboute, busily employed, trying your best. Cf. l. 785.
248. Spoken ironically, 'shall it be counted as a throw, or as none?'
249. whether, &c., whichever it be accounted.
253. of him, &c., he stood in no awe of him. Instead of our modern expression 'he stood in awe of him,' the M.E. expression is, usually, 'he stood awe of him,' suppressing in. It probably arose out of the very construction here used, viz. 'awe of him stood to him,' i. e. arose in him. However that may be, the idiom is common. Thus, in Barbour's Bruce, iii. 62:—
'Quhen that the lord of Lorne saw
His men stand off him ane sik awe.'
In Havelok, l. 277:—
'Al Engelond of him stod awe,
Al Engelond was of him adrad.'
So also, 'he stode of him non eye'; Rob. of Brunne, tr. of Langtoft, p. 8, l. 24. So also in Wallace, v. 929, vi. 878.
255. 'Who was not at all well pleased.'
256. 'He is an evil master.' The reading oure alther mayster (in Cp.) means—'he is master of us all.'
257. 'It is full yore ago'; it is very long ago.
262. wil no-more, desires no more, has had enough.
270. 'This fair is done.' A proverb, meaning that the things of the fair are sold, and there is no more business to be done.
271. 'As I hope to do well, I have not yet sold up the half of my ware'; i. e. I have more to offer. The wrestler, in spite of his pain, utters the grim joke that Gamelyn sells his ware too dearly.
272. halvendel is for A.S. healfne dǣl or þone healfan dǣl, the accusative case. The word of is to be understood after it. See Zupitza's Notes to Guy of Warwick, l. 5916.
273. See note to l. 334.
276. lakkest, dispraisest, decriest. In P. Plowman, B. v. 130, we find 'to blame mennes ware'; and, only two lines below, the equivalent phrase 'to lakke his chaffare.'
277. 'By Saint James in Galicia.' In Chaucer's Prologue, the Wife of Bath had been 'in Galice at Seint Jame.' The shrine of St. James, at Compostella in Galicia, was much frequented by pilgrims. See my note to Prol. 466, at p. 44 above. It is remarkable that the whole of this line is quoted from A Poem on the Times of Edw. II., l. 475; see Political Songs, ed. Wright, p. 345. It occurs again below, l. 764.
278. 'Yet it is too cheap, that which thou hast bought.' The franklin tells the defeated wrestler that it is not for him to call Gamelyn's ware dear, for he has, in fact, been let off much too cheaply. Our modern cheap is short for good cheap, i. e. bought in good market. To buy in a good cheap was shortened to to buy good cheap, and finally became to buy cheap.
281. have, have, receive, take.
285. rowte, company. We are to suppose that a crowd of Gamelyn's admirers accompanied him home. In Lodge's novel, the elder brother 'sawe wher Rosader returned with the garland on his head, as having won the prize, accompanied with a crue of boon companions; greeved at this, he stepped in and shut the gate.'
297. See note to l. 334.
302. though thou haddest swore, though thou hadst sworn (the contrary). This curious phrase occurs also in Chaucer, Kn. Tale, A. 1089, where 'althogh we hadde it sworn' is equivalent to 'though we had sworn (the contrary).'
312. 'That desired either to walk or to ride in.' Go, when opposed to ride, means to go on foot, to walk.
318. and ye wil doon after me, if ye will act according to my advice; spoken parenthetically.
321. oure catour, caterer for us. oure aller purs, the purse of us all. Cf. footnotes to l. 256.
324. largely, liberally; the usual old meaning.
328. no cheste, no strife, no quarrelling.
334. so, &c., 'as I hope to enjoy the use of my eye'; lit. 'as I may use my eye.' This phrase occurs also in Havelok, 2545: 'So mote ich brouke mi rith eie,' as I hope to have the use of my right eye. And again in the same, l. 1743, with the substitution of 'finger or toe' for 'right eye'; and in l. 311, with the substitution of 'mi blake swire,' i. e. my black neck; cf. ll. 273, 297 above. See also ll. 407, 489, 567. Even Chaucer has: 'So mote I brouke wel myn eyen tweye,' as I hope to make good use of my two eyes; Nonne Prestes Tale, 479 (B. 4490).
338. bitaughte is used in two senses; they commended Gamelyn to God's protection, and bade him good day.
345. mangerye, feast, lit. an eating. It occurs in P. Plowman, C. xiii. 46; Wyclif, Works, ed. Arnold, i. 4. In Sir Amadace, st. 55, a wedding-feast is called a maungery, and lasted 40 days; Early Eng. Metrical Romances, ed. Robson, p. 49. Cf. ll. 434, 464.
349, 350. These lines are anticipatory; they give a brief summary of the next part of the story.
352. ful neer, much nearer. See note to l. 109.
366. Iohan was pronounced like modern E. Jawn, and rimes with noon, pronounced as nawn (with aw as in awe). So also in Chaucer, Man of Lawes Tale, B. 1019.
367. 'By my faith'; cf. l. 555. Chaucer has 'by my fey'; Kn. Tale, 268 (A. 1126).
368. 'If thou thinkest the same as thou sayst, may God requite it thee!'
372. Tho, when. threwe, didst throw; observe the absence of -st in the suffix of the second person of the past tense of strong verbs.
373. moot, meeting, assembly, concourse of people; in allusion to the crew of companions whom Gamelyn introduced. Moreover, the word moot was especially used of an assembly of men in council, like our modern meeting. But it is, perhaps, simpler to take it in the sense of public disputation, dispute; cf. St. Katherine, l. 1314, and cf. M.E. motien, to dispute publicly. Indeed, as the rimes are often imperfect, the original word may have been mood, i. e. anger.
376. It was not uncommon, to prevent a person from being forsworn, that the terms of an oath should be literally fulfilled; cf. Merch. Ven. iv. l. 326. In his novel, Lodge avoids all improbability by a much simpler device. He makes the eldest brother surprise the youngest in his sleep. 'On a morning very early he cald up certain of his servants, and went with them to the chamber of Rosader, which being open, he entered with his crue, and surprized his brother when he was asleepe, and bound him with fetters,' &c.
382. Here, as in l. 420, all the MSS. have honde. The final e probably represents the dative or instrumental case, and the correct reading is fote and honde, as in MSS. Pt. and Ln. in both passages.
386. wood, mad. It was common to bind and starve madmen, and to treat them cruelly. Even Malvolio was to be put 'in a dark room and bound'; Tw. Nt. iii. 4. 147. Cf. As You Like It, iii. 2. 421.
392. a party is an adverb, meaning 'partly,' or 'in some measure.' Cf. P. Plowman, B. xv. 17; Hampole, Prick of Conscience, 2334.
394. or, ere, before; not 'or.' be, been.
398. 'Spence, or (according to the original French form of the word) despense, was the closet or room in convents and large houses where the victuals, wine, and plate were locked up; and the person who had the charge of it was called the spencer, or the despencer. Hence originated two common family names.'—Wright. The spence, however, like the spencer, owed its name to the O.F. verb despendre, to spend; as explained in my Etym. Dict. s. v. spend. See the Glossary. Lodge retains the name of Adam Spencer; whence Adam in Shakespeare.
411. 'Upon such an agreement.'
413. 'All as I may prosper'; as I hope to thrive.
414. After wil supply lose; see the footnote. 'I will hold covenant with thee, if thou wilt loose me.'
430. wher I go, whether shall I go. Wher is a contracted form of whether, like or for other. Girde of, strike off.
433. that this, &c., that this is a thing not to be denied, a sure thing.
438. hem, them, i. e. the fetters (understood); cf. l. 498.
441. borwe the, be surety for thee, go bail for thee.
444. do an other, act in another way, try another course. There is no authority for inserting thing after other.
445. Lodge says: 'and at the ende of the hall shall you see stand a couple of good pollaxes, one for you and another for me.'
449. 'If we must in any case absolve them of their sin.' Said jocosely; he was going to absolve them after a good chastisement.
451. St. Charity was the daughter of St. Sophia, who christened her three daughters Fides, Spes, and Caritas; see Butler's Lives of the Saints (Aug. 1). Cf. Percy Folio MS., i. 28; l. 26.
453. Lodge says: 'When I give you a wincke,' &c.
456. for the nones, for the occasion; see note to l. 206.
460. leste and meste, least and greatest.
461. halle, of the hall; A. S. healle, gen. case of heal, a hall. Here, and in l. 496, we may take halle-dore as a compound word, but halle is still a genitive form.
471. ther that, where that; as commonly.
481. 'Who beggeth for thee (to come) out of prison, or who may be surety for thee; but ever may it be well with them that cause thee much sorrow.'
485. 'All that may be surety for thee, may evil befall them'; lit. 'may it befall them evilly.'
489. so, &c., 'as I hope to make use of my bones,' lit. bone.
503. 'Gamelyn sprinkles holy water with an oaken sprig.' Said jocosely; Gamelyn flourishes his staff like one who sprinkles holy water. A spire is properly a springing shoot, hence a sprig or sapling. Cf. Troil. ii. 1335. See the Glossary.
509. Mr. Jephson here remarks as follows:—'The hatred of churchmen, of holy water, and of everything connected with the church, observable in all the ballads of this class, is probably owing to the fact, that William the Conqueror and his immediate successors systematically removed the Saxon bishops and abbots, and intruded Normans in their stead into all the valuable preferments in England. But there were also other grounds for the odium in which these foreign prelates were held. Sharing in the duties of the common law judges, they participated in the aversion with which the functionaries of the law were naturally regarded by outlaws and robbers,' &c. He also quotes, from the Lytel Geste of Robin Hood, the following:—
'These bysshopes and these archebysshoppes,
Ye shall them beete and bynde;
The high sheryfe of Notynghame,
Hym holde ye in your mynde.'
It may be added that Lodge entirely omits here all mention of abbot, prior, monk, or canon. Times had changed.
514. 'Pay a liberal allowance,' i. e. deal your blows bountifully.
515. so ever, &c., 'as sure as ever I hear mass.' Cf. l. 595.
520. telle largely, count fully.
523. the croune, i. e. the crown of each man's head; alluding to the tonsure. It means, do not spoil the tonsure on their crowns, but break their legs and arms.
531. cold reed, cold counsel, unprofitable counsel. So in Chaucer, Nonne Prestes Tale, B. 4446; see the note. So Shakespeare has 'colder tidings'; Rich. III, iv. 4. 536. Cf. l. 759 below.
532. 'It had been better for us.' Cf. l. 621.
533. This is ironical, and refers, as Mr. Jephson rightly says, to the laying on of hands, whereby Gamelyn made his victims deacons and priests after a new fashion of his own.
543. here love, love of them; here awe, awe of them. Here = A.S. hira, gen. pl. of hē, he. Hence here also means 'their,' as in l. 569.
558. ther ... inne, wherein (Gamelyn was).
567. 'As I hope to have the use of my chin.' See note to l. 334.
578. 'I will repay thee for thy words, when I see my opportunity.'
583. It ben, they are; lit. it are. A common idiom in Middle English. See P. Plowman, C. vi. 59, ix. 217, xvi. 309; and compare it am I, as in Chaucer, Man of Lawes Tale, B. 1109.
588. 'Make their beds in the fen,' i. e. lie down in the fen or mud.
596. Spoken ironically. Adam offers them some refreshment. They reply, that his wine is not good, being too strong; indeed, so strong that it will not only, like ordinary wine, steal away a man's brains, but even take them out of his head altogether, so that they lie scattered in his hood. In other words. Adam's staff breaks their heads, and lets the brains out.
606. 'It is better for us to be there at large.'
609. Lodge says that they 'tooke their way towards the forest of Arden.'
610. 'Then the sheriff found the nest, but no egg (in it).' So also in William of Palerne, l. 83: 'Than fond he nest and no neiȝ · for nouȝt nas ther leued'; i. e. for nothing was left there. No neiȝ = non eiȝ, no egg.
616. and loke how he fare, and let us see how he may fare.
618. Here Adam merely expresses disgust of his new mode of life. In Lodge's novel, he begins to faint, being old. Cf. l. 817.
621. lever me were, it would be preferable for me.
631. 'After misery comes help.' So in the Proverbs of Hendyng, as said above, in note to l. 32. Trench, in his book On Proverbs, quotes a Hebrew proverb:—When the tale of bricks is doubled, Moses comes.
642. 'Whoso looked aright,' i. e. if one were to look carefully.
651. i. e. I only curse (or blame) myself if I yield.
652. 'Though ye fetched five more, ye would then be only twelve in number.' He means that he would fight twelve of them.
660. In Lodge's novel, the chief is 'Gerismond the lawfull King of France, banished by Torismond, who with a lustie crue of Outlawes lived in that Forrest.' But the present text evidently refers to an English outlaw, such as Robin Hood.
666. 'I will adventure myself as far as the door.' Spoken proverbially, there being no door in the wood. He means that he will venture within sight of the chief. hadde mete, might have food.
689. 'His peace was made'; i. e. his pardon had been obtained.
698. 'And caused his brother to be indicted.'
700. wolves-heed, wolf's head. 'This was the ancient Saxon formula of outlawry, and seems to have been literally equivalent to setting the man's head at the same estimate as a wolf's head. In the laws of Edward the Confessor [§ 6], it is said of a person who has fled justice, 'Si postea repertus fuerit et teneri possit, vivus regi reddatur, vel caput ipsius si se defenderit; lupinum enim caput geret a die utlagacionis sue, quod ab Anglis wluesheued nominatur. Et hec sententia communis est de omnibus utlagis.'—Wright. See Thorpe, Ancient Laws, &c., i. 445.
701. of his men, i. e. (some) of his men.
703. 'How the wind was turned'; i. e. which way the wind blew, as we now say.
704. 'When a man's lands were seized by force or unjustly, the peasantry on the estates were exposed to be plundered and ill-treated by the followers of the intruder.'—Wright.
707. 'The messengers of ill tidings, however innocent themselves, often experienced all the first anger of the person to whom they carried them, in the ages of feudal power. Hence the bearer of ill news generally began by deprecating the wrath of the person addressed.'—Wright. This was not, however, peculiar to those times. Cf. Sophocles, Antigone, 228; 2 Hen. IV. i. I. 100; Rich. III. iv. 4. 510; Macb. v. 5. 39.
709. 'I. e. has obtained government of the bailiwick. In former times ... the high sheriff was the officer personally responsible for the peace of his bailiwick, which he maintained by calling out the posse comitatus to assist him.'—Jephson.
710. doth thee crye, causes thee to be proclaimed.
713. 'Greet well my husbands (i. e. servants) and their wives.' The A.S. wif was a neuter substantive, and remained unchanged in the plural, like sheep and deer in modern English. We find wif as a pl. form also in Layamon, l. 1507. The present is a very late example.
714. 'I will go to (attend) the next assizes; see note to l. 715. If schire refers to the shire or county, the result is much the same. In venturing into the shire of which his brother was sheriff, Gamelyn was boldly putting himself into his brother's power.
715. nexte schire, may mean 'next (succeeding) assizes'; for schire may be used in the sense of A. S. scīr-gemōt; and the Lat. comitatus meant curia as well as 'county.' See, for example, the last quotation in the note to l. 871.
718. 'Put down his hood,' lowered his hood, so as to show his face.
724. leet take Gamelyn, caused (men) to take Gamelyn; we now say 'caused Gamelyn to be taken,' changing the verb from active to passive. The active use of the verb is universal in such phrases in Middle English, as is still common in German. 'Er liess Gamelyn nehmen.' Cf. l. 733.
727. Ote is not a common name; we find mention of 'Sir Otes de Lile' in Libius Disconius, l. 1103, in the Percy Folio MS., ii. 455. Otes is equivalent to 'Otho'; see Le Livere de Reis de Angletere, ed. Glover, p. 268, l. 6; and p. 272. The form Otoun or Oton is equivalent to Lat. acc. Othonem.
732. wonder sory, wonderfully sorry. nothing light, in no degree light-hearted.
738. 'May evil befall such another brother (as thou art)'; cf. l. 485.
744. 'I offer to bail him,' lit. I bid for him for bail; mainprise being a sb., and him a dative case. Mr. Jephson says—'I demand that he be granted to me on mainprise, or bail, till the assize for general gaol-delivery.'
752. 'Cause (men) to deliver him at once, and to hand him over to me.'
761. sitte means 'may sit'; cf. l. 749.
779. cors, curse. He was never cursed by those with whom he had dealings. This can only refer to the poor whom he never oppressed. The author quietly ignores the strong language of the churchmen whom he stripped of everything. This is precisely the tone adopted in the Robin Hood ballads.
782. nom, catch, take; a new form of the infinitive mood. It arose from the pt. t. cam, by analogy of comen from cam. See Mätzner, Alteng. Sprachproben, i. 261, l. 80.
785. fast aboute, busily employed. See l. 240.
786. to hyre the quest, to suborn the jury. See l. 801.
790. seet, should sit. The A.S. for sat is sæt, but for should sit (3rd pers. sing. of the pt. t. subj.) is sǣte. The latter became the M.E. seete; hence seet, by loss of the final e. It rimes with beheet (A.S. behēt).
806. spet, short for speedeth; cf. stant for standeth, &c.
834. of, in. So in Shakespeare, Jul. Cæsar, ii. 1. 157—'We shall find of him A shrewd contriver.'
840. the quest is oute, the verdict is (already) delivered.
852. the barre, the bar in front of the justice's seat; see ll. 860, 867.
864. 'It seemed a very long time to him.'
871. sisours, jury-men. I copy the following from my note on P. Plowman, B. ii. 62. 'The exact signification of sisour does not seem quite certain, and perhaps it has not always the same meaning. The Low-Latin name was assissores or assisiarii, interpreted by Ducange to mean "qui a principe vel a domino feudi delegati assisias tenent"; whence Halliwell's explanation of sisour as a person deputed to hold assizes. Compare—
"Þys fals men, þat beyn sysours,
Þat for hate a trew man wyl endyte,
And a þefe for syluer quyte."
Robert of Brunne, Handlyng Synne, 1335.'
Mr. Furnivall's note says—'Sysour, an inquest-man at assizes. The sisour was really a juror, though differing greatly in functions and in position from what jurymen subsequently became; see Forsyth's Hist. of Trial by Jury.' In the tale of Gamelyn, however, it is pretty clear that 'the twelve sisours that weren of the quest' were simply the twelve gentlemen of the jury, who were hired to give false judgment (l. 786). Blount, in his Law Dictionary, says of assisors, that 'in Scotland (according to Skene) they are the same with our jurors.' The following stanza from A Poem of the Times of Edw. II., ll. 469-474 (printed in Political Songs, ed. Wright, p. 344), throws some light on the text:—
'And thise assisours, that comen to shire and to hundred,
Damneth men for silver, and that nis no wonder.
For whan the riche justise wol do wrong for mede,
Thanne thinketh hem thei muwen the bet, for thei han more nede
Ac so is al this world ablent, that no man douteth sinne.'
880. 'To swing about with the ropes, and to be dried in the wind.'
881. 'Sorrow may he have who cares for it.' Not an uncommon phrase. In P. Plowman, B. vi. 122, it appears as 'þe deuel haue þat reccheth,' i. e. the devil take him who regrets it.
885. This seems to mean, 'he was hanged by the neck, and not by the purse.' That is, he was really hanged, and not merely made to suffer in his purse by paying a fine; cf. Ch. Prol. 657.
889. of the best assise, in the truest manner; cf. l. 544.
900. 'Buried under the earth.'
901. 'No man can escape it.'
- The reading Burdeuxs actually occurs in MS. Camb. Univ. Lib. Ii. 3. 26. See Boundys in the Glossary; and see vol. iii. p. 400.
- No quotation is given to support this assertion.