Chaucer's Works (ed. Skeat) Vol. VI/Introduction
§ 1. In the very brief Introduction to vol. I., I have given a sketch of the general contents of the present work. I here take occasion, for the reader's information, to describe somewhat more particularly the chief objects which I have had in view.
In the first place, my endeavour has been to produce a thoroughly sound text, founded solely on the best MSS. and the earliest prints, which shall satisfy at once the requirements of the student of language and the reader who delights in poetry. In the interest of both, it is highly desirable that Chaucer's genuine works should be kept apart from those which were recklessly associated with them in the early editions, and even in modern editions have been but imperfectly suppressed. It was also desirable, or rather absolutely necessary, that the recent advances in our knowledge of Middle-English grammar and phonetics should be rightly utilised, and that no verbal form should be allowed to appear which would have been unacceptable to a good scribe of the fourteenth century.
I have also provided a large body of illustrative notes, many of them gathered from the works of my predecessors, but enlarged by illustrations due to my own reading during a long course of years, and by many others due to the labours of the most recent critics. The number of allusions that have been traced to their origin during the last fifteen years is considerable; and much additional light has thus been thrown upon Chaucer's method of treating his originals. How far such investigation has been successful, can readily be gathered from an inspection of the Index of Authors Quoted in the present volume, in which the passages quoted by Chaucer are collected and arranged, and an alphabetical list is given of the authors whom he appears to have most consulted.
The Glossary has been compiled on a much larger scale than any hitherto attempted, wherein the part of speech of almost every word is duly marked, and every verbal form is sufficiently parsed. A special feature of the Glossary is the exclusion from it of non-Chaucerian words and forms; and in order to secure this result, separate Glossaries are given of the chief words occurring in Fragments B and C of the Romaunt of the Rose and in Gamelyn; and we are thus enabled to detect a marked difference in the vocabulary employed in these pieces from that which was employed by Chaucer. And I cannot refrain from here expressing the hope, that the practical usefulness of the Glossary and Indexes may predispose the critic to forgive some errors in other parts of the work. And further, also in the interest of every true student, much pains have been bestowed on the mode of numbering the lines. It is not so easy a matter as it would seem to be. Many editors give no numbering at all; and, where it is given, it is not always correct. The numbering of the Canterbury Tales, in particular, was especially troublesome. I give three distinct systems of counting the lines, and even thus have failed in giving the numbering of Wright's edition beyond l. 11928, where he suddenly begins a new numbering of his own.
I append a few remarks on the text of the various pieces.
§ 2. Romaunt of the Rose. The old text is often extremely and even ludicrously corrupt. Thanks to the patient labours of Dr. Max Kaluza, and his restoration, by the collation of MSS., of the French original, many emendations have been made, for several of which I am much indebted to him. A paper (by myself) containing a summary of the principal passages which are thus, for the first time, rendered intelligible, has lately appeared in the Transactions of the Cambridge Philological Society, vol. iii. p. 239; but the whole subject is treated, in an exhaustive and highly satisfactory manner, in two works by Kaluza. The former of these is his edition of the Romaunt, from the Glasgow MS., side by side with the French text in an emended form, as published for the Chaucer Society; and the other work is entitled 'Chaucer und der Rosenroman,' published at Berlin in 1893.
See also the valuable paper on 'The Authorship of the English Romaunt of the Rose' by Prof. G. L. Kittredge, printed in 'Studies and Notes in Philology and Literature,' and published by Ginn and Co., Boston, U.S.A., in 1892. This essay shews, in opposition to Prof. Lounsbury, that there is no reason for attributing to Chaucer the Fragments B and C of the Romaunt.
The notes to the Romaunt of the Rose are largely my own. Some are borrowed from the notes to Bell's edition.
§ 3. Minor Poems. In preparing a new edition of the Minor Poems, I have been much assisted by the experience acquired from the publication of my separate edition of the same in 1888. A large number of criticisms were made by Prof. Koch, which have been carefully considered; and some of them have been gratefully adopted.
The question of authenticity chiefly applies here. Practically, the modern 'Canon' of Chaucer's genuine works has been taken, strangely enough, from Moxon's reprint of the Poetical Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, which bears 'by Thomas Tyrwhitt' on the title-page, and contains twenty-five poems which Tyrwhitt never edited, as has been fully shewn in vol. v. pp. x-xiv. This curious production, by an anonymous editor, was really made up by reprinting such pieces as were supposed by Tyrwhitt, in 1778, to be not spurious. The six unauthorised pieces which it contains are The Court of Love, The Complaint of the Black Knight, Chaucer's Dream, The Flower and the Leaf, The Cuckoo and the Nightingale, and a Virelai. Of these, The Complaint of the Black Knight is now known to be Lydgate's, whilst The Court of Love, Chaucer's Dream, and the Virelai are written in language very different from that of the fourteenth century. The Flower and the Leaf, like The Assembly of Ladies, claims to have been written by 'a gentlewoman,' and perhaps it was. It does not seem possible to refer it to the fourteenth century, but rather to the middle of the fifteenth. The oldest poem of this set is The Cuckoo and the Nightingale; but it has already been shewn (vol. i. p. 39) that it contains several rimes that are not like Chaucer's. In addition to these I would now also note the extraordinary rime of upon with mon (for man) in l. 85; it is merely a matter of common prudence to discover a similar use of mon for man in Chaucer before we rashly assign to him this rather pretty poem.
Suffice it to say, that no manuscript or other evidence has ever been produced, or is known, that connects any of the above poems with the authorship of Chaucer; though it is a very common mistake, on the part of such critics as have never studied the facts, to assume the genuineness of these poems, and to expect an editor to prove the contrary! Surely, it is enough to say that the external evidence wholly fails, and that the internal evidence points, decisively, the other way. There is no reason for attributing poems to Chaucer on grounds which would not for a moment be allowed in the case of any other poet.
§ 4. All the other Minor Poems in Moxon's reprint are well known to be genuine, and are therefore included in my first volume. I add a few last words on the poems which are also printed there, though they do not appear in Tyrwhitt's list.
A Compleint to his Lady. The internal evidence in favour of this poem is so remarkable, that I need not enlarge upon it here. In particular, it is difficult to see how any other poet of that age could have known anything about Dante's terza rima. However, the matter is fairly settled by Dr. Furnivall's discovery of the additional final stanza, with the name of 'Chaucer' appended to it. Cf. vol. i. p. 75; and p. lx. (footnotes) below.
The Former Age. Well known to be genuine, as occurring in two MSS., both of which give Chaucer's name.
Merciless Beaute. Discussed in vol. i. p. 80. The external evidence is, that it is the last poem in a MS., in which it is immediately preceded by nine of Chaucer's acknowledged pieces.
In addition to the internal evidence already given in vol. i. p. 80, I have just discovered further evidence of great interest, as bearing upon Chaucer's treatment of the long open and close e, which to Lydgate's ear sounded sufficiently alike. In the first Roundel, all the e's are close, whereas, in the last Roundel, all the e's are open (§ 38). This is a strong point in its favour.
Balade to Rosemounde. The unique MS. copy appends Chaucer's name.
Against Women Unconstaunt. Discussed in vol. i. p. 88; and in vol. v. p. xv. We must give great weight to the connection of this poem with Machault, from whom Chaucer certainly borrowed, though his works do not appear to have influenced any other English author; see § 55 below. However, this poem is placed in the Appendix.
An Amorous Compleint. Likewise placed in the Appendix. I believe it to be genuine, on the strength of the internal evidence, and its obvious connection with Troilus and other genuine poems; see the Notes, vol. i. p. 567. All the rimes are perfect, according to Chaucer's use, though it extends to 91 lines.
A Balade of Compleynt. In the Appendix. The genuineness of this poem is not insisted on. It is added rather by way of illustration of the peculiar style of poems entitled 'Complaint,' of which Chaucer was so fond. He must have written many which have not been preserved.
Womanly Noblesse. Printed in vol. iv. p. xxv. Attributed to Chaucer in the unique MS. copy. A unique example of rhythm, in which Chaucer was an experimentalist. I know of no other poem having 33 lines on only 3 rimes, similarly arranged. Cf. vol. v. p. xvi.
Complaint to my Mortal Foe; and Complaint to my Lodesterre. These also are added as illustrative of Complaints. But I do not say they are Chaucer's; though they may be so.
One reason for printing the Balade to Rosemounde, An Amorous Complaint, A Balade of Compleynt, Womanly Noblesse, and the two Complaints last-mentioned is, that they have never been printed before, and are wholly unknown. The Balade to Rosemounde and Womanly Noblesse are certainly genuine; and there is a high probability that An Amorous Complaint is the same.
The piece called A Compleint to his Lady was first printed in Stowe's edition of 1561, but without the last stanza, and was reprinted in the same imperfect state by Chalmers. It was omitted in Moxon's reprint, which accounts for its being usually neglected. It is strange that poems which are certainly spurious should be much better known and more highly prized.
§ 5. Boethius. It is sufficiently explained in the Preface to vol. ii. that this piece is now printed, for the first time, with modern punctuation, and with Chaucer's glosses in italics. This is also the first edition with explanatory notes.
§ 6. Troilus. The text is much improved by the use of the Campsall and Corpus MSS., which have never been before collated for any edition, though they are the two best. The third best MS. is that printed by Dr. Morris. It is a sad drawback to the use of his edition that Book IV begins in the wrong place, so that all his references to this book are wrong, and require the addition of 28. Thus Tyrwhitt's Glossary gives the reference to 'Nettle in, dock out,' as T. iv. 461. In Morris's edition, it is T. iv. 433.
A few notes to Troilus occur in Bell's edition. I have added to them largely, and supplied the schemes in vol. ii. pp. 461, 467, 474, 484, 494, which enable ready reference to be made to the corresponding passages in Boccaccio's Filostrato.
The valuable work on 'The Language of Troilus,' by Prof. Kittredge, is of great importance. I regret that I was unable to use it at the time when my own text was in course of preparation.
§ 7. The House of Fame. Previously edited by me in 1888 among the 'Minor Poems,' and again, separately, in 1893. Much help has been received from the (incomplete) edition by Hans Willert (Berlin, 1888). As some lexicographers number the lines of each book separately, this mode of numbering is duly given, as well as a continuous one.
§ 8. The Legend of Good Women. Previously edited by me in 1889, when I made the curious discovery that the MSS. can be divided into two sets of types, which may be called A and B; that type A is considerably the better; and yet, that no MS. of type A had ever before been made the basis of an edition! The natural result was the easy correction of many corrupt passages, the publication of the Prologue in its earlier as well as in its later form, and the addition of a few previously unknown lines. As regards the Notes, the most help was obtained from the edition by Prof. Corson. The admirable article by Bech deserves a special mention.
§ 9. A treatise on the Astrolabe. Previously edited by me for the Early English Text Society's Extra Series, in 1872; when I discovered that none but inferior MSS. had ever been previously printed, and that all other editions are, in various ways, incomplete. The only one of any worth is the modern edition by Mr. Brae, who was an excellent astronomer; but he unfortunately based his edition upon an 'edited' MS., written about 1555, which is not, after all, of a good type. The extraordinary errors in the early editions of the Astrolabe are well illustrated by Mr. Brae. For example, the statement in Part II. § 6. l. 8 (vol. iii. p. 194) that 'the nadir of the sonne is thilke degree that is opposit to the degree of the sonne, in the seventhe signe,' appears in most early editions as 'in the 320 signe.' But 320 signs for the zodiac is much too liberal an allowance.
My edition for the E.E.T.S. also contains an edition of Messahala's Latin treatise, from which Chaucer derived about two-thirds of his work; see vol. iii. p. lxx.
This Treatise is of more importance than might be supposed, owing to Chaucer's frequent allusions to astronomical subjects. Every editor of Chaucer should know that there are nine spheres; otherwise, he may fall (as three editors have done) into the trap prepared by the scribe of the Harleian MS., who gives lines 1280 and 1283 of Group F of the Canterbury Tales in this extraordinary form:—
'And by his thre speeres in his worching' ...
'That in the fourthe speere considred is.'
It was a special pleasure to find that Chaucer's star Aldiran (Cant. Tales, F 265) was one of the stars marked on the 'Rete' or web of a Parisian astrolabe in A.D. 1223, and is described (in MS. Ii. 3. 3, in the Camb. Univ. Library) as being 'in fronte Leonis.' See vol. v. p. 380.
Some attempts have been made to calculate the date of the Canterbury Tales from ll. 10, 11 of the Parson's Prologue. The absurdity of such an endeavour is patent to any one who knows enough of the old astronomy and astrology to be aware that the 'moon's exaltation' is merely a name for a sign of the zodiac, and has nothing whatever to do with the position of the moon itself. Here, again, the scribe of the Harleian MS. has turned the phrase I mene into In mena, misleading many enquirers who fail to realise that he was as careless in this passage as in the former one.
§ 10. The Canterbury Tales. The great gain in this poem has been the foundation of the text upon the basis of the Ellesmere MS., the most satisfactory of all existing MSS. having any reference to Chaucer.
The general excellence and correctness of its spellings and readings render it the safest on which to found rules for our guidance as to pronunciation, syntax, and prosody. For further remarks, see the Introduction to vol. iv. p. xvii.
Much help has been obtained from the experience gained in editing various portions of the Tales from the same MS. in former years. The edition of the Prologue, the Knightes Tale, and the Nonnes Preestes Tale, originally issued by Dr. Morris, underwent a considerable amount of revision by him and by myself conjointly; and so great was the interest which he took in the work, and so freely were the results of our researches thrown, as it were, into a common fund, that in many instances I am unable to say which of us it was that suggested the illustrations given in the Notes. Dr. Morris was justly celebrated for his acuteness in unravelling the intricacies of the various Middle-English dialects, and for his swiftness of perception of the right use of grammatical inflections; and he communicated the results of his labours with unsparing generosity.
The Prioresses Tale, Sire Thopas, the Monkes Tale, the Clerkes Tale, and the Squieres Tale were first edited by me, with Notes and a Glossary, as far back as 1874; and the book has passed through several editions since that date.
The Tale of the Man of Lawe, the Pardoneres Tale, the Second Nonnes Tale, and the Chanouns Yemannes Tale, were first edited by me, with Notes and a Glossary, in 1877; and have been several times revised in subsequent editions.
It will now be readily understood that nearly all the notes and illustrations that have appeared in these various books are here collected and reproduced (with corrections where necessary); and that many others have been added of a like kind.
Perhaps I may fairly introduce here the remark that many illustrations and explanations which are now perfectly familiar to readers of Chaucer originally appeared for the first time in these smaller editions. Thus, to mention a matter of no great importance, my note on Group C, l. 321, demonstrates the exact form and position of the ale-stake, and shews that the old interpretation of 'may-pole' in Speght is wrong, and that Tyrwhitt's statement as to its being 'set up' is misleading; for its position was horizontal. And only a little further on, at l. 405, I explain how the peculiar construction arose which admitted of such a phrase as 'goon a-blakeberied'; an explanation which is duly quoted as mine in the New E. Dict., s.v. Begged.
Nevertheless, provided that correct explanations are given, it makes but little difference to the reader by whom they were first made. Hence notes have been included from all accessible sources, and it has not always seemed to be necessary, in minor instances, to specify whence they are derived; though this has usually been done.
§ 11. It remains for me to express my great obligations to the labours of others, and to acknowledge, with thankfulness, their assistance and guidance.
As regards the texts, my chief debt is to the Chaucer Society, which means, practically, Dr. Furnivall, through whose zeal and energy so many splendid and accurate prints of the MSS. have been produced, thus rendering the actual readings and spellings of the scribes accessible to students in all countries. It is obvious that, but for such work, no edition of Chaucer could have been attempted without an enormous increase of labour and a prodigal expenditure of time.
Next to the MSS., the only authorities of any value are a few of the earliest prints; viz. those by Caxton, and (in the case of the Envoy to Bukton) by Julian Notary; and the editions by Thynne and Stowe. Thynne's text of the Book of the Duchesse is, in one passage, the sole authority; and his text of the Romaunt of the Rose is, not unfrequently, correct where the Glasgow MS. is wrong. His text of the House of Fame is also valuable, and so is that of Caxton; and the same remark applies to some of the Minor Poems. Both Caxton and Thynne furnish very fair texts of Boethius. Thynne's version of Troilus follows a good MS., and is worth collation throughout; but his Legend of Good Women follows a MS. of a very poor type, and his Treatise on the Astrolabe is decidedly bad. Very little help is to be got from Thynne as regards the Canterbury Tales; indeed, it is the chief fault of Tyrwhitt's text that he trusted far too much to the old black-letter editions.
Stowe's edition of 1561 is useful in the case of A Complaint to his Lady and Words to Adam. Otherwise, it may usually be ignored.
As regards later editions, I am most indebted to the following.
To Dr. John Koch, for his edition of the shorter Minor Poems, viz. those which in the present edition are numbered as I. VIII. IX. X., XIII-XVII., and XIX. His text is excellent, and there are numerous notes. He has also written several important criticisms in Anglia, besides a detailed examination in Englische Studien (xv. 399) of my own edition of the Minor Poems, published in 1888.
To Dr. Max Lange, whose dissertation on the Book of the Duchesse is careful and useful.
To Professor Lounsbury, who has published an edition of the Parliament of Foules, though I have not made much use of it. On the other hand, I am deeply indebted to him, as many other Chaucer students must be also, for his great work, in three large volumes, entitled Studies in Chaucer. I would draw particular attention to his excellent chapters on Chaucer's Life, in which he separates the true accounts from the false, giving the latter under the title of 'The Chaucer Legend,' in a chapter which is highly instructive and furnishes a good example of true criticism. The subjects entitled 'The Text of Chaucer,' 'The Writings of Chaucer,' 'The Learning of Chaucer,' 'Chaucer in Literary History,' and 'Chaucer as a Literary Artist' are all admirably handled, and command, in general, the reader's assent; though he may wish, at times, that the material could have been condensed into a shorter space. It seems invidious, in the midst of so much that is good and acceptable, to express any adverse criticism; but it is difficult to believe that the linguistic part of the work is as sound as that which is literary; and many must hope that a time may come when the author will cease to maintain that The Romaunt of the Rose, in its known form, is all the product of one author. However this may be, it should be clearly understood that I fully recognise and thankfully acknowledge the general value of this helpful book. It is a special pleasure to record that (by no means in this work alone) the study of Chaucer has received much encouragement from America.
Dr. Piaget has completely solved the construction of the Compleynt of Venus, by his recovery of the three original Balades by Sir Otes de Granson, which are somewhat freely translated by Chaucer in this poem. See vol. i. pp. 86, 559.
The best general commentary on Boethius is the essay by Mr. H. F. Stewart; see vol. ii. p. x.
The best commentary on Troilus is Mr. W. M. Rossetti's line by line collation of Chaucer's work with the Filostrato of Boccaccio. Besides this, remarkably little has been done with regard to this important poem, with the splendid exception of the Remarks on the Language of 'Troilus' by Prof. Kitteredge, only recently issued by the Chaucer Society.
I have already acknowledged the usefulness of Dr. Willert's dissertation on the House of Fame; see vol. iii. p. xiii. Also of the articles by Dr. Koch; see the same, p. xv; and of the article by Rambeau, which is surely somewhat extravagant, though right in the main contention.
Of the Legend of Good Women it has already been said that the chief article is that by Bech (vol. iii. p. xli); and that some useful notes are given by Corson. The discovery that the Prologue exists in two separate forms, both of them being genuine, was really made by Mr. Henry Bradshaw, who was familiar with the Cambridge MS. (which contains the earlier version) for some time before he disclosed the full significance of it.
§ 12. As regards the Canterbury Tales, my debts are almost too numerous to recount. First and foremost, must be mentioned the honoured name of Thomas Tyrwhitt, whose diligence, sagacity, and discrimination have never been surpassed by any critic, and to whom are due nearly all the more important discoveries as to Chaucer's sources. See the admirably just remarks on this 'great scholar' in Lounsbury's Studies in Chaucer, vol. i. pp. 300-5. 'The sanest of English poets had the good fortune to meet with the sanest of editors.' And again—'It seems almost too much to hope that a combination of learning, of critical sagacity, of appreciation of poetry as poetry, will ever again meet in the person of another willing to assume and discharge the duties of an editor of Chaucer.'
I would add my humble testimony to Tyrwhitt's unfailing greatness; and it will readily be understood, that, whenever it becomes necessary, in consequence of recent linguistic discoveries, to point out that Tyrwhitt's knowledge of Middle-English grammar was naturally imperfect, certainly from no fault of his own, I never waver in my admiration of his great qualities. Even as regards linguistic knowledge, he was certainly in advance of his time; and it is remarkable to observe with what diligence he once edited the 'Rowley Poems' of Chatterton, merely as a piece of literary duty, although he was one of the very first to see that they were hopelessly the reverse of genuine.
A great deal of information has also been obtained from the notes in the editions by Thomas Wright and by Bell; from the various publications of the Chaucer Society, especially from the 'Essays on Chaucer,' by various authors, and from the 'Originals and Analogues'; from Thor Sundby's wonderful edition of Albertano of Brescia's Liber Consolationis et Consilii; from the Essay by Dr. Eilers on the Parson's Tale; and from various books, notes, and articles, by well-known German critics, especially Ten Brink, Koch, Kölbing, Köppel, Zupitza, and others. Much encouragement and various useful hints have been received from Professor Hales. If I have anywhere failed to notice the true discoverer of any important suggestion, each in his due place, I trust it will be regarded as an oversight. The fact that some points, and even some rather important ones, were really discovered by myself, is somewhat embarrassing. I have no wish to claim as my own anything that can, with any shew of reason, be claimed by another; but would rather say, with Chaucer himself, that 'I nam but a lewd compilatour of the labour of' other men; 'and with this swerd shal I sleen envye.'
§ 13. Phonetics. All the more important and somewhat recent discoveries as regards Middle-English grammar and rhythm are due to the increased attention paid to phonetics and rhythmical details. It is well known that this impulse came from America, and was due, as Dr. Ellis has justly said, to 'the wonderful industry, acuteness, and accuracy' of Prof. F. J. Child, of Harvard College, Cambridge, Massachusetts. His celebrated 'Observations on the Language of Chaucer' were well followed up by others; notably by Dr. Alexander J. Ellis, in his work 'On Early English Pronunciation,' and by Dr. Sweet, in his 'History of English Sounds' and his First and Second Middle-English Primers. Also, by Ten Brink, in his admirable work on 'Chaucers Sprache und Verskunst.' The latest essays of this character are, like the first, from America, viz. the essay on 'The Language of the Legend of Good Women' by J. M. Manly, and the full and exhaustive essay on 'The Language of Chaucer's Troilus' by Prof. Kittredge.
§ 14. The Glossary. As regards the Glossary, I have much pleasure in recording my thanks to Miss Gunning and Miss Wilkinson, of Cambridge, who prepared the 'slips' recording the references, and, in most cases, the meanings also, throughout a large portion of the whole work, with praiseworthy carefulness and patience. My obligations to these two ladies began many years ago, as they undertook most of the glossarial work of my smaller edition of the Man of Law's Tale (with others); work which is now incorporated with the rest. It required some devotion to analyse the language of Boethius and the Romaunt, of Melibeus and the Parson's Tale, all of which they successfully undertook.
Mr. Sapsworth, formerly scholar of St. John's College, was the original compiler of the glossary to the Minor Poems and the Legend of Good Women. Amongst the pieces which I specially undertook myself, I may mention the Treatise on the Astrolabe, and some of the Canterbury Tales, including those of the Miller, the Reeve, the Shipman, the Merchant, and the Wife of Bath. The original references for the Prioresses Tale (and others) were made by my wife, more than twenty years ago; and I have, in various ways, received help from other members of my family. I think Dr. Morris and myself may claim to have done much for Middle-English by way of compiling glossaries. Dr. Morris led the way by the very full glossaries to his Early English Alliterative Poems, Sir Gawayne and the Grene Knight, and Genesis and Exodus; whilst it fell to my lot to gloss Lancelot of the Laik, the Romance of Partenay, Piers the Plowman (305 pages, in double columns), Pierce the Ploughman's Crede, the alliterative Joseph of Arimathie, Barbour's Bruce (114 pages), The Wars of Alexander, and Alexander and Dindimus; besides preparing the glossary to Specimens of English, Part III., and rewriting Part II. of the same. In the present instance, I have revised the meanings assigned and all the references; and I trust that not many are incorrect.
The glossaries to Chaucer by Tyrwhitt and Dr. Morris are both excellent; but we now require one on a larger scale.
§ 15. Criticism. A brief explanation may here suffice. The conspicuous avoidance, in this edition, of any approach to what has been called æsthetic criticism, has been intentional. Let it not be hence inferred that I fail to appreciate the easy charm of Chaucer's narrative, the delicious flow of his melodious verse, the saneness of his opinions, the artistic skill with which his characters are drawn, his gentle humour, and his broad sympathy. It is left to the professed critic to enlarge upon this theme; he can be trusted to do it thoroughly.
§ 16. The Dialect of Chaucer.
The dialect of Chaucer does not materially differ from that which has become the standard literary language; that is to say, it mainly represents the East-Midland, as spoken in London and by the students of Oxford and Cambridge. This dialect, as is well known, is not wholly pure, but is of a comprehensive nature, admitting several forms that strictly belong to other dialects, chiefly Northern. Remarkable examples occur in the words they, their, them, and the verbal form are, all of which were originally Northern. Chaucer, however, does not employ the forms their and them, though he admits the nominative they; instead of their, he has her, hir, here, or hire (always monosyllabic); and for them he invariably has hem. Examples of are occur here and there in Chaucer (see Are, Arn in the Glossary), but are remarkably rare; his usual form is been or ben. We even find the Southern beth (F 648). In fact, the Midland dialect, from its intermediate position, was the one which was most widely understood; and, in extending its dominion over the other dialects, occasionally admitted forms that did not originally belong to it.
§ 17. Kentish forms. It is, however, well worth notice that Chaucer was at one time resident at Greenwich, perhaps during the whole period between 1385 and 1399 (see vol. i. pp. xxxviii, xlii, xlv); and was even chosen a member of parliament for Kent. The effect of this upon his writings is rather plainly marked, and has been clearly shewn in my paper on this subject printed for the Chaucer Society, from which some examples are here extracted.
The chief test for Kentish is the use of e to represent the A.S. short y, which usually became u in Southern, and i in Midland. Thus the A.S. verb cyssan, to kiss, is represented by the Southern kussen, the Midland kissen (as in literary English), but in Kentish by kessen. Hence we find in Chaucer, the infin. kisse, D 1254, and the pt. t. kiste, B 3746, regularly; but we also find the Kentish kesse, E 1057, and the pt. t. keste, F 350. We can well understand that these variations were made for the sake of the rimes, since the riming words are, respectively, blisse, wiste, and stedfastnesse, reste. Other double forms are brigge, bregge (in the compound Cantebregge); fulfille, fulfelle; kin, ken; knitte, knette, and the pp. knit, knet; the pp. y-stint, stent; thinne, thenne (thin). Further, we find Midland abye, Kentish abegge; and (without corresponding Midland forms) the Kentish berien, to bury; dent (in thonder-dent); melle, a mill; selle, a floor, Mod. E. sill (A.S. syll); sherte, shirt (Icel. skyrta); shetten to shut, pp. y-shet (A.S. scyttan); steren, to stir (A.S. styrian). In one case Chaucer uses all three forms, viz. merie (A 208); mirie, E 2217, 2326; and murie (A 1386, E 1733). The Southern murie is only resorted to in order to secure a rime to Mercúrie.
Another test for Kentish is the use of ē for A.S. long ȳ; as in Kentish fer, feer, A.S. fȳr, fire. Here, also, we find in Chaucer the occurrence of duplicate forms. Examples are seen in Midland drȳe, dry (A.S. drȳge), Kentish drēye; Midland fȳr, fire (A.S. fȳr), Kentish fēre, Troil. i. 229, iii. 978; Midland hid, hidden, Kentish hed; Midl. thriste, to thrust, Kentish threste.
This use of Kentish forms by Chaucer is of considerable interest. Of course, they occur still more freely in Gower, who was of a Kentish family.
§ 18. Pronunciation.
The M.E. pronunciation was widely different from the present, especially in the case of the vowel-sounds. The sounds of the vowels were nearly as in French and Italian. They can be denoted by phonetic invariable symbols, here distinguished by being enclosed within marks of parenthesis. I shall here use the same symbols as are employed in my Principles of English Etymology. Of course, these symbols must be used as defined. Thus the symbol (oo), being defined to mean the sound of the German o in so, will not be understood by the reader who pronounces it like the oo in root.
§ 19. Vowels. (aa), as a in father; (a) short, as in aha! (ae), open long e, as a in Mary; (e), open short e, as e in bed; (ee), close long e, as e in veil; (i) short, as French i in fini, or nearly, as Eng. i in fin; (ii), as (ee) in deep: (ao), open long o, as aw in saw, or o in glory; (o), open short o, as o in not; (oo), close long o, as o in note, or o in German so; (u), as u in full; (uu), as oo in fool; (y), as F. u in F. écu; (yy), as long G. ü in grün. Also (ə), as the final a in China.
Diphthongs. (ai), as y in fly; (au), as ow in now; (ei), as ei in veil, or ey in prey; (oi), as oi in boil.
§ 20. Consonants (special). (k), as c in cat; (s), as c in city; (ch), as ch in church; (tch), as in catch; (th), as voiceless th in thin; (dh), as voiced th in thine. I also use (h), when not initial, to denote a guttural sound, like G. ch in Nacht, Licht, but weaker, and slightly varying with the preceding vowel. This sound was usually denoted by (gh) in Chaucer MSS., but was then rapidly becoming extinct, with a lengthening of the preceding vowel. Thus the word light, originally (liht), with short i and a strong guttural, was about to become (liit), in which the guttural has disappeared. At the end of the fourteenth century, the vowel was already half-long, and the guttural sound was slight; yet Chaucer never rimes such words as bright, light, right, with words such as despyt, spite; cf. p. xxviii. l. 5.
§ 21. An accent is denoted by (·), as in M.E. name (naa·mə), where the a is long and accented, and the final e is like a in China.
By help of these symbols, it is possible to explain the meaning of the M.E. symbols employed by the scribe of the Ellesmere MS. of the Canterbury Tales; which furnishes a sufficient approximate guide for the spelling here adopted throughout. The scribe of the Fairfax MS., whence many of the Minor Poems are taken, agrees with the 'Ellesmere' scribe in essentials, though he makes a large number of grammatical mistakes, owing to the loss (in pronunciation) of the final e in the fifteenth century.
§ 22. Symbols. The following is a list of the sounds which the symbols denote.
The forms in thick type are the forms actually written and printed; the forms within parenthesis denote the spoken sounds.
a short; (a). Ex. al (al); as (az). We have no clear evidence to shew that the modern a (æ) in cat (kæt) occurs anywhere in Chaucer; though it is possible that the sound occurred in Southern English, without any special symbol to represent it.
a long, or aa; (aa): (1) at the end of an open syllable, as age (aa·jə); (2) before s or ce, as caas or cas (kaas); face (faa·sə).
ai, ay (ei). Ex. array (arei·); fair (feir). As in modern English. Note that modern English does not distinguish pray from prey in pronunciation; and spells way, from A.S. weg, with ay instead of ey.
au, aw (au). Ex. avaunt (avau·nt), riming with mod. E. count; awe (au·ə).
c, as (k), except before e and i: as (s), before e and i. As in modern English. Hence, we find some scribes writing selle for celle (sel·lə), mod. E. cell; and conversely, the 'Ellesmere' scribe writes celle for selle in A 3822, causing a great difficulty; see the note to the line.
ch (ch); cch (tch). Ex. chambre (chaam·brə); cacche (cat·chə).
e short; (e). Ex. fetheres (fedh·rez); the middle e being dropped. It is often convenient to use the symbol '[e.]' to denote an e that is lost in pronunciation. Thus we might print 'feth[e.]res' to shew the loss of the middle e in this word.
e final, unaccented: (ə). This final e marks a variety of grammatical inflections, and is frequently either elided or very slightly sounded, and sometimes wholly suppressed in some common words. Ex. swete (swee·tə), sweet. The word wolde, would, is often a mere monosyllable: (wuld).
e long and open, or ee; (ae) or (èè). Ex. heeth (haeth), or (hèèth). This open e came to be denoted by ea, and the symbol, though not the sound, is commonly preserved in mod. English; as in heath (hiith). Note that this long e, at the end of an open syllable, is usually written with a single letter, as in clene (klae·nə), or (klèè·nə), clean. But cleene also occurs in the MSS.
e long and close, or ee; (ee) or (éé). Ex. weep (weep), or (wéép). Note that this long e, at the end of an open syllable, is usually written with a single letter, as in swete (swee·tə), sweet. But sweete is also found in MSS.
ew (ee, followed by w). Ex. newe (nee·wə); with a tendency, probably, towards the modern sound (iuu), as in new (niuu).
g hard, i.e. (g), as in gable (gaa·blə) or (gaa·bl), except before e and i in words of French origin. Thus gilt (gilt), guilt, is of A.S. origin; but gin (jin), a snare, is a shortened form of F. engin.
gge (djə). Ex. brigge (bridjə).
gh (h), G. ch. Ex. light (liiht). As said above, the vowel was at first short, then half-long, as probably in Chaucer, and then wholly long, when the (h) dropped out. Later, (ii) became (ei), and is now (ai). Chaucer never rimes -ight with -yt, as in the case of dight, delyt; Rom. of the Rose, Fragment B 2555.
gn (n), with long preceding vowel; as digne (dii·nə). As Dr. Sweet says, the F. gn was perhaps sometimes pronounced as ny (where the y is consonantal), but in familiar conversation was a simple n, preceded by a long vowel or a diphthong.
h (h), as in modern English, when initial. Ex. hand (hand). Chiefly in words of English origin. In words of French origin, initial h was usually mute, and is sometimes not written, as in eyr (eir), an heir. In unemphatic words, it was also frequently mute; so that hit was frequently written it, as in modern English.
i, y, short; (i). Ex. him (him). Owing to the indistinctness of the old written character for i, when preceding or following m or n, the scribes frequently wrote y instead of it; as in myd, nyl, hym, dynt. But as this indistinctness does not reappear in modern printing, I have usually restored the true forms mid, nil, him, dint; which enables me to use y as a symbol for long i, without confusion. But I use y finally, as in mod. English. Ex. many (man·i).
i, y, long; (ii). The scribes prefer the symbol y; hence I use it almost throughout. Ex. byte (bii·tə), bite; delyt (delii·t), delight.
i consonantal, I (j). There was no symbol for j in M.E., though the sound was common, in words of French origin. The scribes usually wrote I, when the sound was initial, as in Iay (jei), a jay. In the middle of a word, it is not distinguishable from the vowel, except by the fact that it precedes a vowel or diphthong, as in conioyne (konjoi·nə), to conjoin.
The old spelling has here been retained, as the use of the modern E. j seemed to involve too great an anachronism; but perhaps this is unpractical. Fortunately, the sound is not common. It is also denoted by g before e or i, as noted above. Ex. Iuge (jy·jə), judge.
ie (ee); the same as ee, long and close. Not common. Ex. mischief, also written mischeef (mischee·f).
le, often vocalic (l), as in E. temple (temp·l). But note stables (staa·blez).
ng (ngg); always as in E. linger. Ex. thing (thingg).
o, short (o), as in of (ov). But here note particularly, that it is always (u), i.e. as u in full, wherever it has in mod. E. the sound of the written o in company, son, monk, cousin, &c. Ex. sonne (sun·nə), sun; sone (sun·ə), son; monk (mungk); moche (much·ə). In fact, the modern spelling arose from the use of o for u, for mere distinctness in the written form, whenever the sound (u) preceded or followed m or n or i; and in a few other cases.
o long and open, or oo; (ao) or (òò); mod. E. au in Paul, or a in fall. Ex. stoon (staon) or (stòòn), a stone; pl. stones (stao·nez). See § 25.
o long and close, or oo; (oo) or (óó); mod. E. o in note, or G. o in so. Ex. sote (soo·tə), sweet; good (good).
N.B. The M.E. ō or oo was never pronounced like the mod. E. oo in root (ruut).
oi, oy (oi). Ex. noise (noi·zə): voys (vois).
ou, ow (uu); except before gh. Ex. flour (fluur); now (nuu). Rarely (aou), as in soule (saou·lə) from the A.S. sāwol.
ogh (aouh); with open short o as in E. not; the u being very slight, and perhaps sometimes almost neglected. It is also written ough, as noght, nought (naouht). The u, in fact, is the result of a peculiar pronunciation of the gh. Dr. Sweet clearly explains that, after e, i, the gh (h) was sounded like the G. ch in ich. 'This front gh was vocalized into consonantal y before a vowel, and then generally dropped, as in the plural hyë (hii·yə). The other gh had the sound of G. ch in auch = the G. ch in ach rounded. Hence it is always preceded either by (uu), as in ynough (inuu·h), plough (pluu·h), or by u forming the second element of a diphthong. This u is always written after a, as in taughte (tau·htə), laughter (lau·hter), while after o it is sometimes written, sometimes left to be inferred from the following gh.' See Sweet, Second Middle-English Primer, p. 5.
r is always strongly trilled; never reduced to a vocal murmur, as frequently in modern English.
s (s); as in sit (sit). But voiced to z (z) between two vowels, and finally, as in ryse (rii·zə), to rise, shoures (shuu·rez).
sh (sh), as in modern English, ssh (shsh); as in fresshe (fresh·shə).
u short; (y). The French sound, as in Iuge (jy·jə). Rarely (u), as in cut (kut), ful (ful); which are not French words.
u long; (yy). Not common; and only French. Ex. vertu (vertyy·); nature (natyy·rə).
v (v), as in modern English. But the MSS. very rarely use this symbol. The sound of v was awkwardly denoted by the use of u, followed by a vowel; as in loue (luv·ə), love. In the present edition, v is used throughout to denote the consonant.
we final; (wə), but often merely (u). Ex. arwes (ar·wez); bowe (bò·wə, bòu·ə); morwe (mor·u). So also blew (blee·u); newe (nee·wə).
wh (wh), as in the North of England; not a mere w, as in the South.
For the sound of th, modern English may be taken as the guide; and the same remark applies to the distinction between f and v, and to the variable sound of s. Moreover, every letter should be distinctly sounded; the k in knee (knéé) and the w in wryte (wrii·tə) were still in use in the time of Chaucer, though now only preserved in the written forms.
§ 23. It will readily be understood that the M.E. vowel-sounds were intermediate between those of Anglo-Saxon and of modern English. They can best be understood by consulting the table at p. 42 of my Primer of English Etymology; and, for French words, that at p. 126 of my Principles of English Etymology, Second Series. The pronunciation of M.E. and of Anglo-French vowels did not materially differ. Instead of here reproducing these tables, I give the approximate pronunciation of the first eighteen lines of the Canterbury Tales. But we must remember, that the pronunciation of words in a sentence is not always the same as when they are taken singly, owing to the accent (or want of accent) due to their position. The word his (hiz) may have its initial h aspirated, when standing alone; but in the phrase his shoures, it is taken along with shoures, loses its accent and its initial h, and becomes (iz). Words are much affected by the manner in which they are thus grouped together. I denote this grouping by the use of a hyphen, and mark the accented syllables by a sloping stroke over every accented vowel; as is usual. The elided final e is denoted by ('). There is no elision at the medial pause; see below (§ 116). The medial pause is here denoted by a sloping stroke, as in the Ellesmere MS.
Whán-dhat Apríllə/ wídh iz-shúurez sóotə
dhə-drúuht' ov-Márchə/ hath-pérsed tóo dhə-róotə,
ənd-báadhed év'ri véinə/ in-swích likúur,
ov-whích vertýy/ enjéndred íz dhə-flúur,
whan-Zéfirús áek/ wídh-iz swéetə bráeth
inspíired háth/ in-év'ri hólt ənd-háeth
dhe-téndre krópez/ ánd dhe-yúnggə súnnə
háth-in dhə-Rám/ iz-hálfə kúurs irúnnə,
ənd-smáalə fúulez/ máaken mélodíiə,
dhat-sléepen ál dhə-níiht/ widh-áopen íi-ə—
sao-príketh hém natýyrə/ in-hér kuráajez—
dhan-lónggen fólk/ too-gáon on-pílgrimáajez,
ənd-pálmerz fór too-séeken/ stráunjə stróndez
too-férnə hálwez/ kúuth' in-súndri lóndez;
ənd spésiallíi/ from-év'ri shíirez éndə
ov-Énggelónd/ too-Káunter.brí dhei-wéndə,
dhə-háoli blísful mártir/ fór too-séekə
dhat-hém hath-hólpen/ whán-dhat dhéi waer'-séekə.
§ 24. The above example also shews the mode of scanning the lines, as will be more particularly explained hereafter. It will be seen that the normal number of accents in the line is five, though the fifth line, quite exceptionally, has six, with an additional accent at the cæsural pause. It may also be noted here, by the way, that accents are by no means of equal strength. The accents on with in lines 1 and 5, on to in line 2, and on is in l. 4, are but slight; whilst those on the former syllables of straunge and strondes in line 13 are of unusual force.
§ 25. Rimes illustrating the pronunciation of long O and long E.
It has been said that the values of the M.E. vowels are intermediate between those of the Anglo-Saxon and the modern vowels. The best and surest guide to them is afforded by the A.S. sounds, and it is worth while to illustrate this by special instances.
Let us consider the case of the open and close o. These are distinguished by their origin. Thus open long o (ao) arises (1) from A.S. ā; or (2) from the lengthening of A.S. short o at the end of an open syllable. I have observed that Chaucer frequently makes a difference between the open o that arises from these two sources.
The M.E. (ao) from A.S. ā was doubtless wholly long. Examples occur in lore (lao·rə), lore, from A.S. lār; and in more (mao·re), more, from A.S. māra.
But the M.E. (ao) from the lengthening of A.S. short o was probably somewhat less full, or only half-long, or perhaps, as Dr. Sweet suggests, was somewhat closer. At any rate, Chaucer usually makes a difference between this sound and the former. To keep up the distinction, I shall now write (òò) for the former open o, and (ò) for the latter; so that lore and more will be denoted by (lòò·rə), (mòò·rə). Examples of the other (ao) occur in forlore (forlò·rə), from A.S. forloren, forlorn; to-fore (tóó-fò·rə), from A.S. tō-foran; and in the curious word more (mò·rə), a root, from the A.S. mora. In the fourth stanza of Troilus, Book V, Chaucer distinguishes between (òò) and (ò) in a very marked manner, since the riming formula of the stanza is ababbcc, i.e. the first line rimes with the third, and the second with the fourth and fifth. Observe, that Chaucer emphasizes this variation by making a similar distinction between open and close e in the preceding stanza. I here give the pronunciation of the whole stanza; and, in order not to confuse the marks over the (o) with those of accentuation, the accent is here denoted by (·) placed after the accented vowel or syllable.
dhis-Troo·ilus· widhuu·ten rèèd· or-lòò·rə,
az-man· dhat-hath· iz-joi·ez aek· forlò·rə,
waz-wei·tingg' on· iz-laa·di ev·ermòò·rə,
az-shee· dhat-waz· dhə-sooth·fast krop· ənd-mò·rə
ov-al· iz-lust·, or-joi·ez heer·toofò·rə.
but-Troo·ilus·, nuu-far·wel al· dhii-joi·ə,
for-shal·tuu nev·er seen·-ir eft· in-Troi·ə.
The same distinction is preserved throughout the whole of the poem of Troilus, as may be seen by the following references, where the numbers refer, not to the lines, but to the stanzas.
lore, more; I. 93. sore, more, sore; I. 96; where the former sore is from A.S. sāre, adv., and the latter sore is of French origin, sore, more, lore; I. 108, 156; II. 81, 192; III. 35. more, sore; III. 139, 151; IV. 19, 129, 161; V. 97, 106, 171. rore (A.S. rārian), sore, more; IV. 54. yore (A.S. geāra), more; IV. 214; V. 8. yore, more, lore, V. 47. evermore, more; V. 117. more, sore, evermore, V. 194. more, evermore, yore, V. 248. Also: more, Antenore; IV. 95; where Antenore, being a proper name, may be treated much as the author pleases. And further: more, restore, IV. 193; V. 239; where the o in restore is due to Lat. au. And lastly, pore, rore, V. 7: where the o in pore is of variable quality, from O.F. povre (Lat. pauperem).
On the other hand, we find another set of words in Troilus, in which the open o was originally short. Examples are: tofore, wherfore, bore, i.e. born; II. 202: from A.S. tōforan; from A.S. hwǣr combined with fore; and A.S. boren. y-shore, bifore, therfore; IV. 143; where y-shore, shorn, is from A.S. gescoren. therfore, bifore; IV. 149. forlore, mŏre, heretofore, V. 4; already noticed above.
In all the above examples, the open o occurs before r; the only other examples of open o from original short o are seen in Book I. stanzas 13 and 30. In both these stanzas we find the riming words spoken, wroken, broken, which obviously belong to the same set. Broken is from A.S. brŏcen; but spoken and wroken are new forms, altered from the A.S. sprecen and wrecen by analogy with the very word broken here used. Chaucer never rimes these words with tōken, from A.S. tācen.
§ 26. An analysis of the rimes in the Minor Poems reveals an exceptional use of but one word ending in -ore, viz. the word more. On account, probably, of its frequency and utility, we find it used to rime with heretofore and heerbefore; both examples occurring in the Book of the Duchesse, 189, 1127. This shews that the rime was permissible, and the difference extremely slight. Nevertheless we find, with the exception of these two instances only, that the Minor Poems again present two distinct sets of rimes: (1) from A.S. ā, the words evermore, namore, more, sore, lore, rore, yore, together with tresore (of F. origin, from Lat. thesaurum); and (2) from A.S. o, the words before, bore, wherfore, lore (A.S. loren), herebefore, tofore.
§ 27. In the Legend of Good Women, the result is just the same. The exceptional rimes are shewn by mōre riming with before, 540, 1516; with y-swore, 1284; and with therfore, 443. But with these exceptions, we find, as before: (1) the set of words more, yore, sore, with the French words store and radevore; and (2) the set bore, forswore, swore (all past participles), and therfore.
§ 28. In the Canterbury Tales, we find from Mr. Cromie's Rime-Index, pp. 185, 189, that the word mōre is again used exceptionally, riming once with the pp. bore, A 1542, and frequently with before; but we find, further, that before is also used exceptionally, riming once with more and lore, E 789; once with sore, D 631; once with more and yore, E 65; and once with gore, A 3237, from A.S. gār. Similarly, therfore rimes with yore, E 1140. But, with these exceptions, we again find the two sets kept distinct, viz. (1) evermore, namore, more, lore, hore (from A.S. hār), gore, ore (from A.S. ār), rore, sore; together with the French restore; and (2) before, bore, y-bore, forlore, swore, therfore, wherfore.
In spite of all the exceptional uses of the two words more and before, we cannot but see, in the above examples, a most remarkable tendency to keep asunder two vowel-sounds which it must have required a delicate ear to distinguish. This is interesting, as proving exceptional care on the part of the author.
We find, accordingly, that later writers did not take the same pains. Thus, in Lydgate's Complaint of the Black Knight, 218, we find sore (from A.S. sār) riming with tore, pp. (from A.S. toren). In Fragment B of the Romaunt of the Rose, it is startling to find more actually altered to mar or mare (the Northern form) in order to rime with thar (for there), 1854; with fare, 2710; and with ar, 2215.
§ 29. Open and close ō. After making the above investigation, we shall naturally expect to find that Chaucer takes care to distinguish between the open ō and the close one; and such is really the case.
The chief source of long close o is the A.S. and Icel. ō. Ex. bóók, forsóók, dóm, bóne (a boon); from A.S. bōc, forsōc, dōm, and Icel. bōn. The distinction between the two kinds of o is perfectly easy to follow, because the sounds are still kept apart in modern English, in which the old open long o is now a close ō, whilst the old close ō is lowered to the sound of ū (uu).
Easy examples occur in A.S. bān, M.E. boon (baon, bòòn), mod. E. bone; as contrasted with Icel. bōn, M.E. boon (boon, bóón), mod. E. boon (buun). In other words, the mod. E. bone was pronounced in M.E. so as to rime with lawn; whilst the mod. E. boon was then pronounced so as to rime with lone.
A few exceptions occur, shewing occasional relaxations of the general rule. They are doubtless due, as Ten Brink suggests, to a paucity of rimes in some particular ending. Thus, when the long o is absolutely final, as in go (gao), do (doo), Chaucer considers these as permissible rimes, and pairs them together freely; and owing to such usage, we even find agoon (agaon) riming with doon (doon) in Troilus, ii. l. 410. But this is the only instance in Troilus of this character; in all other places, the ending -oon relates to the open o; the riming words being alloon, anoon, atoon, boon (bone), foon (foes, A.S. fan), goon, noon, stoon; to which add roon, it rained, woon, quantity. In the Cant. Tales, B 3127, we find the rime dōm, doom, hōm, home; but words in -ōm are, of course, extremely scarce, so that there was little else to be done. For a like reason, sooth (sooth) sometimes rimes with wrooth (wraoth), Bk. of the Duchesse, 513, 519, 1189; and sothe (soo·dhə) with bothe (bao·dhə), Sec. Nonnes Tale, G 167; Troil. iv. 1035.
With these few exceptions, the rule of distinguishing the two qualities of o is rigorously observed. Thus we find in Troilus, rimes in -òòt, viz. hoot, noot, woot, wroot, A.S. hāt, nāt, wāt, wrāt, ii. 890, 1196, iv. 1261. And we find, on the other hand, rimes in -óót, viz. foot, moot, soot, A.S. fōt, mōt, sōt, iii. 1192. Once more, we find, in the same poem, rimes in -òte, viz. hote, note, grote; cf. A.S. hāte, adv., A.F. note (Lat. nŏta), O. Friesic grāta; iv. 583. And yet again, there are rimes in -óte, viz. bote, fote, rote, sote, from A.S. bōt, fōt, Icel. rōt, A.S. swōte, adv.; ii. 345, 1378, v. 671, 1245. Every one knows the first rime in the Cant. Tales, that of sote, rote, (pronounced as mod. E. soata, roata).
§ 30. Open and close ē. In like manner, Chaucer distinguishes to some extent, and with certain rather more numerous exceptions, between the open and close long e. This is a somewhat more intricate matter, so that it is best to give the results succinctly. It is also a little more difficult to follow, because modern English has confused the sounds; though they are frequently distinguished by a different mode of spelling, the old open e being represented by ea, and the old close e by ee. A good example occurs in the case of the words sea and see. The former, in Chaucer, is (sae) or (sèè), with long open e; whilst the latter is (séé), with long close e. Both were written see in M.E.; with the result, that the words were spelt alike at that time, though pronounced differently; but are spelt differently now, though pronounced alike. The difference in spelling is due to an Elizabethan habit, when the two sounds were purposely distinguished; and it may be remarked that such words as are spelt with ea are precisely those which still have a peculiar pronunciation in Ireland. Some writers try to denote this by using such spellings as say, tay, baste, mate, and the like, instead of the standard English sea, tea, beast, meat.
§ 31. Stable and unstable ē. The two kinds of ē are best understood by observing their sources.
Before we can shew these clearly, it is necessary to observe that the A.S. ǣ has two values, which must be carefully distinguished. The first, which I shall call 'stable ǣ,' because it regularly produces an open ē in M.E., answers to Germanic and Gothic ai, and is generally due to mutation. Thus hǣlan, to heal, answers to Goth. hailjan, and is mutated from hāl, whole, Goth. hails. This produced M.E. hēlen (haelən), with open ē. Again, M.E. sprēde, to spread (note ea in the modern form), answers to a Gothic *spraidjan; for, although no such Gothic form actually occurs, we can infer it from comparison with the G. spreiten; cf. G. heilen with Goth. hailjan above.
The second kind of ǣ, which I shall call the A.S. 'unstable ǣ,' because it occurs in forms which are treated both ways in Chaucer, answers to an original Germanic ǣ, Goth, ē, and does not arise from mutation, though it may arise from gradation. Thus the M.E. dēde, deed, A.S. dǣd, answers to Goth. gadēds, a deed, G. That; and the contrast between the vowel in G. That and that in G. heilen, to heal, is very clearly marked. It is from words of this class that some trouble arises.
§ 32. If we inquire further, why there should have been any difference of development in such cases, and how the same form could, apparently, yield both an open ē and a close one, I believe that a clear answer can be given. For it is precisely in such cases that we find different forms in the Old Mercian (or Midland) dialect and in the A.S. (or Southern). Thus, whilst the A.S. (Southern) form of 'deed' was dǣd, the Mercian form was dēd. In fact, the mod. E. deed is clearly Mercian, and that is why it is not spelt with ea in Elizabethan English. Hence Chaucer had, ready to his use, two forms of this word. One was the Southern dèèd, with open ē, from A.S. dǣd; the other was the Midland dééd, with close ē; and, as the Midland dialect was then rapidly gaining the ascendency, he could hardly go wrong if he sometimes used the more popular form. Chaucer knew nothing of etymology, but he knew how words were pronounced by his cotemporaries; a fact which sufficiently explains his habits.
In order to complete this part of the case, it is necessary to add that the M.E. ē which results from A.S. ēa is ALWAYS open.
§ 33. A similar ambiguity occurs in the case of a long e which we should expect to be close. Here again we must distinguish between two kinds. The A.S. ēo yields an M.E. ē which is ALWAYS close; as in dēop, deep, M.E. déép. Again, there is an A.S. ē which results from mutation, as in A.S. blēdan, to bleed, from blōd, blood; and the resulting M.E. ē is ALWAYS close, as in blēden (bléédən), to bleed.
But there is also the UNSTABLE vowel in the M.E. y-sēne, visible. Of this word the A.S. forms are various; we find gesīene, gesȳne, gesēne, all three. Of these, gesīene is the earlier spelling of gesȳne, and may be neglected; but gesȳne and gesēne still remain. Gesȳne is the usual A.S. (Southern) form, whilst gesēne is Midland and Northern. From the Midland gesēne came M.E. ysēne (iséénə), with close e, regularly; and this is the form which Chaucer usually adopts. The A.S. gesȳne would have developed regularly into M.E. ysȳne (isiinə), just as the A.S. mȳs answers to M.E. mȳs, mod. E. mice. But the y-sound was difficult of treatment, as the true sound (yy) was lost; and Ten Brink has observed a corresponding variation in the development of A.S. short y, which became sometimes short i and sometimes short open e in M.E. In the same way, I should suppose that this A.S. long y corresponded to a Kentish long open e; thus producing M.E. ysēne (isèènə), in which the e was open. There is a remarkable example of such a variety in the development of the A.S. fȳr, fire. This usually became M.E. fyr (fiir), with long i; but in Troilus, i. 229, we have the remarkable form afere (afèèrə), on fire, riming quite regularly with were (wèèrə), were (from A.S. wǣron), and with stere, to stir (from A.S. styrian). Indeed stere, to stir, is really another example of the like development, since the e in it is merely lengthened from an A.S. short y.
§ 34. Summary. As this investigation has run to some length, I here give a summary of all the above results.
Open and close ō. 1. The M.E. open and close ō have resulted in mod. E. sounds which are still kept apart; cf. M.E. stòòn and M.E. dóóm with the mod. E. stone and doom.
2. A.S. ā produced M.E. open ō. A.S. o, when lengthened, also produced M.E. open ō. But the two M.E. sounds somewhat differed, and Chaucer avoids riming them together. The few exceptions are noted above; the commonest of these being due to the variable treatment of the words mōre and before.
3. A.S. and Icel. ō produced M.E. close ō. Chaucer avoids riming the close ō with the open one; the chief exceptions being when the vowel-sound is final, and in other cases where rimes are scarce.
4. The different spellings of the mod. E. sea and see, now pronounced alike, answer to the different sounds of the M.E. form see. If the ee was open, it meant the sea; if it was close, it was part of the verb to see.
5. The A.S. ēa produced M.E. open ē.
6. The A.S. ǣ, if answering to Gothic ai, produced M.E. open ē. But if answering to Goth. ē, the M.E. ē was close in the Midland dialect, but was allowed to rime with open ē in Southern; giving Chaucer a choice of forms.
7. The A.S. ēo and ē (if arising from mutation of ō) produced M.E. close ē.
8. In words such as A.S. gesȳne, Mercian gesēne, visible, the M.E. y-sēne had an ē which rimed with open ē in Kentish, and a close ē in Midland, giving Chaucer a choice of forms.
§ 35. It will be now easily understood, that Chaucer's general rule, of avoiding the riming of close ē with open ē, admits of a considerable number of exceptions, in which the ē is really of a doubtful or unstable character.
It is clear that, in considering Chaucer's forms, we must set aside, as UNSTABLE, all words in which long e corresponds either to a Germanic ǣ (Gothic ē, German ā), or otherwise to A.S. unstable ȳ (Mercian ē). I proceed to enumerate the chief of these, as occurring, first of all, in Troilus.
Words ending in -eche. The verb ēche, to eke, answers to A.S. ȳcan. Leche, a leech, is allied to Goth. lēkeis, a physician. Speche, speech, is from the stem seen in sprǣc-on, they spoke, with the same vowel, originally, as in Goth. brēkun, they broke. All these words have unstable e.
-ede. Dede, deed; A.S. dǣd, Goth. gadēds. Drede, to dread, A.S. on-drǣdan, O.H.G. trātan. From V. 1654-7, it is difficult to draw any clear inference; brede should have open ē (cf. A.S. brād, Goth. braids); hede, heed, goes with A.S. hȳdan, and its vowel is unstable; and Diomede, though the e should be close, is at proper name, and needs no exact treatment.
-eke. Besides the correct form èèk (A.S. ēac), Chaucer has a form eke, with unoriginal final e; he probably connected it with the verb eche, to eke, in which the e is unstable, as it arose from mutation.
Cheke answers to A.S. cēace, Anglian cēce, mod. E. cheek; but here the ēa is not the usual A.S. ēa, being merely due to the initial c, and the West-Germanic type is *kākā (New E. Dict.), answering to Germanic *kǣkā; whence the A.S. original form *cǣce; so that the e is unstable, by the rule above given.
-ele; -ene. Rimes in -ēle and -ēne are all regular. So also in -eme, -emeth. The rimes in ēmen are imperfect.
-epe. Slepe has unstable e; cf. Goth. slēpan.
-ere. Unstable e occurs in fere, fire, as explained above; also in here, to hear, A.S. hȳran, hēran; and again, in dere, dear, A.S. dȳre (as well as dēore). Also in yere, year, because the ēa in A.S. gēar is not the usual diphthong ēa, but due to the preceding g; the Goth. form is jēr, so that the M.E. is unstable, by the rule. Bere, a bier, is from the verbal stem bǣr-on, corresponding to Goth, bērun; hence the e is unstable.
But a real exception occurs in the riming of lere, to teach, with here, here (T. ii. 97, iv. 440). Lere, A.S. lǣran, Goth. laisjan, should have the open e; but it here rimes with a word in which the e is close. This is one of the exceptional words noted by Ten Brink (Chaucers Sprache, § 25). No explanation is offered, and I know of none, unless it be that it was confused with lére, cheek, from A.S. hlēor. But we must note the fact.
-ete. The exceptional words are bihete, mete (to dream), strete, street. Bihete is really a false form for bihote (A.S. bihātan); the e is due to confusion with the pt. t. bihēt, where hēt is for A.S. hēht, the result of contraction; hence the e is doubtful and unstable. Mete, to dream, is from A.S. mǣtan, of unknown origin; hence we may regard the e as doubtful. Strete, a street, answers to A.S. strǣt, Mercian strēt, mod. E. street; hence the e is unstable, as explained above.
-eve. Ten Brink (Ch. Studien, §§ 25, 23) thinks that leve, sb., leave, was treated as if with close e by confusion with bilēven, to believe, which, he says, has close e. Whatever be the right explanation, we must set aside leve, leave, as an exceptional word. So also eve, eve, A.S. ǣfen, Mercian ēfen, has a variable vowel; see Sweet, O.E. Texts, p. 602.
§ 36. Having now considered the doubtful cases, which may be altogether set aside, it remains to draw up the list of words in which the quality of the long e, at least in Troilus, admits of no doubt. The result gives us a valuable set of test-rimes, by which the genuineness of a poem attributed to Chaucer may be investigated. Of course, a few divergences may admit of explanation; but the presence of a large number of them should make us extremely suspicious.
The list is as follows.
- (A) The following words (in Troilus) have open e only. (I omit some doubtful cases, in addition to those discussed above; and only give those which ought certainly to have the open vowel.)
- teche, to teach.
- dede, dead; lede, lead (the metal); rede, red. Also lede, to lead; sprede, to spread. Other words in -ede are doubtful.
- breke, to break, speke, to speak, wreke, to wreak, have open e; but it was originally short, and these words are kept apart from others.
- bene, bean; clene, clean; lene, lean; mene, to mean.
- hepe, heap; lepe, to leap.
- there, there; were, were; where, where. Also ere, ear; gere, gear; tere, a tear. (Fere, fear, has unstable e; cf. G. Gefahr.)
- bere, to bear, dere, to harm, swere, to swear, tere, to tear, besides bere, a bear, spere, a spear, were, a weir, here, her, stere, to stir, likewise have open e; but the e was originally short, and these words are kept apart from those in the preceding set.
- bete, to beat; grete, great; hete, heat; spete, to spit; swete, to sweat; threte, to threat. Also ĕte, to eat, foryĕte, to forget. (I omit doubtful cases.)
- reve, to reave; greve, a grove. (But leve, to leave, is doubtful.)
(B) The following (in Troilus) have close long e only.
- seche, to seek; biseche, to beseech.
- forbede, to forbid; nede, need; yede, went. Also bede, to offer, blede, to bleed; brede, to breed; fede, to feed; glede, a glowing coal; spede, to speed; stede, a steed.
- meke, meek; seke, to seek.
- bitwene, between; grene, green; kene, keen; quene, queen; tene, vexation; wene, to ween.
- kepe, to keep; wepe, to weep; also depe, deep.
- fere, companion; yfere, together; here, here.
- bete, flete, grete, mete, to mend, float, greet, meet; swete, sweet.
- leve, dear.
§ 37. Of course, the rime-tests consist in this, that not one of the words in class A can possibly rime with one of those in class B, either in Troilus or in any genuine work of Chaucer.
To test this, we must first refer to Cromie's Rime-Index to the Canterbury Tales, under the headings, -eche, -ede (-eede), -eke, -ene, -epe, -ere, -ete, -eve.
The only apparent exceptions that I can find are two; and they are worth notice.
Under -eepe, we are told that leepe, 3 s. perf., rimes with keepe, n. obj. The reference is to Group A, 2688. When we look, we find that the Ellesmere MS. has wrong spellings; the words should be leep, keep. Or rather, we find that the final e is not real, but only represents a meaningless flourish in the MS. Now it is a neat point of grammar that, although lepen, to leap (A.S. hlēapan), has an open e, its past tense (A.S. hlēop) has a close e; so that the rime is quite correct. In both words, the e is close.
The other case (A 1422) is worth citing. Mr. Cromie says, at p. 108, that here, adv., rimes with the inf. bere, to bear; which is, in my view, impossible.
The lines run thus:—
'He fil in office with a chamberleyn,
The which that dwelling was with Emelye.
For he was wys, and coude sone aspye
Of every servaunt, which that serveth here.
Wel coude he hewen wode, and water bere.'
This is a case where the sound decides the sense. The e in bere is properly short; hence the same is true of here. Accordingly, here is not an adverb, nor does it mean 'here'; it is the personal pronoun, A.S. hire, and it means 'her'; precisely as it does in Troilus, ii. 1662.
§ 38. In the Minor Poems, the following passages are the only ones that I can find that present any difficulty.
In the Death of Blaunche, 1253, we find need riming with heed (head); so that need has here, apparently, an open e. Ten Brink has noted this exception (at p. 20), and explains it by remarking that there is a double form of the word in A.S., viz. nēad as well as nēod. At any rate, we see that the word nede cannot be relied on as a test-word, and must be struck out; though there is only this one example of its use with open e.
In the Death of Blaunche, 773, we find dere (dear) riming with were, were. And once more, viz. in Clk. Ta., E 882, we find were riming with dere; but, after all, dere (see § 35) has unstable e. The Death of Blaunche presents many difficulties, and the text of it is far more uncertain and unsatisfactory than that of any other genuine poem.
In the House of Fame, 1885, we find the rime here (here), lere (to teach). This only shews that lere is here once more used with the close e; I have already said (§ 35) that it is no sure test-word.
I just note the rime of here (here) with were (perplexity); H. Fame, 980. Were is of F. origin; and several such words have the close e; see Ten Brink, p. 48.
In the Legend of Good Women, 1870, we have the unusual rime there (there) with dere (dear). Ten Brink has noted this (p. 20). He remarks that it is the only example in which there seems to have close e; but it is rather one of three cases in which dere has open e (from A.S. dȳre).
These are all the difficulties which I could find, after a search through the Index to the Minor Poems. The only modifications they suggest are these: the word need is once found riming with heed (head); and the word dere (though it usually has a close e) really has unstable e (A.S. dēore, dȳre).
It is interesting to apply the results to other Poems.
The beautiful Roundels entitled Merciless Beauty answer the test surprisingly (§ 4). In the first stanza, the author uses the rimes sustene, kene, grene, quene, sene, where all the vowels are close, if we include sene, which has the variable e (close in Midland). In the second stanza, the rimes are pleyne, cheyne, feyne, atteyne, pleyne, all of French origin, in which the sound is slightly varied to that of the nearest diphthong. And in the third stanza, we find lene, bene, mene, v., clene, mene, s., in which the e is now open.
In the poem called A Compleint to his Lady, the final stanza of which, with Chaucer's name appended, was discovered by Dr. Furnivall after I had claimed it for Chaucer, every rime is entirely perfect, and many of them are highly characteristic of him, being used elsewhere very freely.
The poem which I have called An Amorous Complaint has every rime perfect, except in l. 16, where the author rimes do (with close o) with wo, go (with open o). It has already been shown that Chaucer frequently does this very thing (§ 29).
§ 39. This shews one side of the argument. It is instructive to turn to a piece like The Complaint of the Black Knight, which we now know to be Lydgate's, as printed in the Aldine Chaucer, vi. 235. In the very first stanza we find white riming with brighte and nighte, which, to the student of Chaucer, is sufficiently astonishing. Other non-Chaucerian rimes are seen in pitously, malady (st. 20), where the form should be maladye, and the same error occurs in st. 27; in ageyn, tweyn, peyn (34), where the latter forms should be tweyne, peyne; in forjuged, excused (40), which is not a true rime at all; in ywreke, clepe (41), a mere assonance; in feithfully, cry (65), where I cry should rather be I cry-e; in wrecche, with short e, riming with leche, seche (68); seyn, peyn (for peyn-e, 82); went (for went-e), pt. t., shent, pp. (93); peyn (for peyn-e), ayeyn (93); quen-e, dissyllabic, seen (miswritten sene), monosyllabic, (97). Here are twelve difficulties in the course of ninety-seven stanzas; but there are more behind. For the test-words already given above would alone suffice. The riming of sōre with tore (A.S. toren) has already been noticed, in § 28. In st. 4, we find swéte, sweet, paired off with hète, heat; in st. 18, we find gréne paired off with clène; and in st. 86, we have rède, red, paired off with spéde, to speed. That is, we have here four exceptions in the course of 97 stanzas, being more than can be found in the whole of Chaucer's genuine works put together. In fact, the indiscriminate riming of close and open e is a capital test for Lydgate and for work of the fifteenth century. Using this test alone, we should see cause to suspect The Flower and the Leaf, which has three false rimes of this class, viz. ète, to eat, swéte, sweet (st. 13); bète, pp. beaten, actually riming with the pp. set (31); and gréne riming with clène (42); not to mention that the author makes the dissyllabic words wene, grene, rime with the pp. seen (36); and again, grene, tene rime with the pp. been (56); and yet again, grene rime with the pp. seen (57), and with been (77). On this point alone, the author differs from Chaucer SEVEN times!
The Court of Love differs from Chaucer in instances too many to enumerate; but, as to this particular point, I only observe the riming of gréne with clène, l. 816; and of dére with require, l. 851; but we may alter require to the Chaucerian form requere. At l. 79, we find the dissyllabic grene; it rimes with the monosyllable been.
§ 40. Similar tests apply to open and close o. We might arrange these, similarly, into two classes, viz. (A) with the open sound, and (B) with the close sound; and we should find that they do not rime together; i.e., if we first eliminate those words which are observed to be of a variable character. For a few exceptions, see § 29. I give the list below.
It is also curious to observe that, in Troilus, the words wolde, nolde, sholde, usually rime together. Wolde rimes with biholde once only, iii. 115; but sholde never rimes with any words but wolde and nolde. In the Cant. Tales, wolde rimes with several words, but sholde only with wolde and nolde. The only exception is in the Book of the Duchess, 1200, where sholde rimes with tolde. It would greatly improve the sense as well as the metre to substitute wolde for sholde in this passage.
§ 41. Now that I have exemplified the mode of using these test-words, I give fuller lists, slightly augmented by help of Mr. Cromie's Rime-Index, and adding a third class (C) of words which have a variable vowel, and are therefore not available as test-words; for it is useful to know the character of these also.
The following is THE KEY to the meaning of the lists.
1. (A) contains words with open long e and open long o. The chief sources of open long e are (1) A.S. ēa and (2) the stable A.S. ǣ answering to Goth. ai (O.H.G. ei) and usually due to mutation of A.S. ā. We may include words with A.S. short e, though these often keep the vowel somewhat short; perhaps it was only half-long.
The sources of open long o are (1) A.S. ā and (2) a lengthening of A.S. short o; perhaps the latter was only half-long.
2. (B) contains words with close long e and close long o. The chief sources of close long e are (1) A.S. ēo and (2) A.S. ē (from mutation of ō). The chief source of close long o is A.S. ō.
3. (C) contains words with variable long e and variable long o. The chief source of variable long e is the unstable A.S. ǣ answering to Gothic ē (Germanic ā); this ǣ occurs in sprǣc-on, third stem of the strong verb sprecan, and in its derivative sprǣce, whence M.E. speche, speech. It also appears to arise from sounds corresponding to A.S. īe, ȳ, mutation of ēa, ēo.
Chaucer's use. Words in (A) rime with each other, but never rime with words in (B). Words in (B) rime with each other, but never with words in (A). Words in (C) rime with words both in (A) and (B).
- -eche. (A) tèche, bitèche. (B) séche, biséche. (C) eche, to eke, leche, speche.
- -ede. (A) dede, dead, hede, head, lede, lead (metal), rede, red, sprede, to spread. (B) bede, to offer, blede, v., brede, v., crede, fede, forbede, glede, nede, spede, v., stede, a steed. (C) dede, deed, drede, s. and v., hede, to heed, rede, to advise. Words in -hede almost always shew open e, but a few exceptions occur.
- -eke. (A) brĕke, v., spĕke, v., wrĕke, v., awrĕke, ywrĕke, with (original) short e; leke, leek. (B) meke, seke, v., seke, sick, biseke.
- -ene. (A) bene, bean, clene, lene, adj., mene, to mean, unclene. (B) bitwene, grene, kene, quene, tene, vexation, wene, v. (C) sene, adj., visible, y-sene (the same), shene, bright.
- -epe. (A) chepe, to buy, hepe, lepe, v., stepe, bright. (B) crepe, v., depe, kepe, wepe. (C) slepe.
- -ere. (A) bĕre, a bear, bĕre, to bear, dĕre, to harm, ĕre, to plough, hĕre, her, spĕre, spear, stĕre, to stir, swĕre, to swear, tĕre, to tear, wĕre, a weir, wĕre, to defend; all with (original) short e. Also ere, ear, gere, gear, tere, tear; and there, were, where. (B) fere, companion, here, here, yfere, together. (Here belong the F. words, chere, clere, manere, matere, spere, sphere.) (C) bere, bier, dere, dear, fere, fear, here, to hear, lere, to teach, yere, year.
- -ete. (A) bete, to beat, grete, great, hete, heat, spete, to spit, swete, to sweat, threte, v., wete, wet, ybete, beaten. Also ĕte, to eat, foryĕte, to forget, mĕte, meat (originally with short e). (B) bete, to mend, flete, to float, grete, to greet, swete, sweet. (C) bihete, to promise, forlete, to let go, lete, to let, mete, to dream, shete, sheet, strete, street.
- -eve. (A) bireve, deve, pl., deaf, greve, grove, reve, to reave. (B) leve, dear, reve, a reeve. (C) eve, eve, leve, to believe, bileve, belief, leve, to permit. Note that yeve, to give, usually rimes with live, to live, as in mod. English.
- -o. All words in -o are allowed to rime together; of these, to, therto, unto, do, fordo should have the close sound.
- -olde. Nolde, sholde, wolde, usually rime together. Occasionally wolde rimes with other words. In only one case does sholde rime with tolde (B. Duch. 1200), where wolde would make better sense.
- -one. (A) alone, echone, bone, bone, grone, to groan, lone, loan, mone, to moan, one, one. (B) bone, boon, eftsone, mone, moon, sone, soon. (C) done, to do. [Note that sŏne, son, wŏne, to dwell, are really written for sune, wune, and only rime with each other.]
- -onge. [Note that songe, pp., spronge, pp., tonge, yonge, are really written for sunge, sprunge, tunge, yunge. They rime together, but are quite distinct from fonge, honge, longe, stronge, wronge; just as in mod. English.]
- -ook. (A) ook, strook. (B) awook, book, cook, forsook, hook, look, quook, shook, took, wook.
- -oot. (A) boot, he bit, goot, goat, hoot, hot, noot, know not, smoot, smote, woot, know, wroot, wrote. (B) foot, moot, must, soot.
- -ooth. (A) clooth, gooth, looth, ooth, wrooth. (B) dooth, sooth, tooth.
- -ore. Bifore, bore, pp., born, forlore, pp., more, a root, shore, pp., swore, pp., therfore, wherfore, originally had a short o, and usually rime together. Hore, pl., hoary, lore, more, rore, sore, yore, have open long o, and usually rime together. In a few cases, bifore and more rime with words in the other set.
- -ote. (A) grote, groat, hote, hot, throte, throat (from A.S. þrotu). (B) bote, satisfaction, fote, rote, root, swote, sweet.
The above lists are offered for what they are worth. I believe them to be fairly correct; but they may not be quite exhaustive. Nevertheless, they record ascertained facts; and the facts remain true and useful, even if the theories be wrong.
§ 42. Some peculiarities of rime.
The subject of Chaucer's rimes is fully discussed by Ten Brink; Studien, p. 190. As the critical reader will necessarily consult this work, it is only necessary to give here a few of the chief results.
Chaucer's rimes are usually either (1) masculine, or (2) feminine. Masculine rimes are those in which the rime is confined to a single final syllable, as 'licour,' 'flour'; Prol. l. 3. Feminine rimes are those in which the rime extends through two syllables, as 'sote,' 'rote'; Prol. l. 1. It is necessary to remember that every unaccented final e at the end of a line is to be sounded, and constitutes a syllable.
Sometimes the rime extends, apparently, over more than two syllables; but it will be found that, in such a case, the penultimate or antepenultimate syllable can either be suppressed, or consists of the shortest possible sound. Ex. swévenis, swéven is, really swév'nis, swév'n is; B 4111. Béryis, méry is; B 4155. Victórië, glórië; A 2405. Mercúrië, múryë; A 1385. Máriëd, táriëd; B 3461. Bériëd, a-blákebériëd; C 405. To-scát'red, y-flát'red; D 1969. Contrárië, Ianuárië; E 2319; &c. Note that feminine rimes are extremely numerous, and are sometimes kept up through whole stanzas in such a poem as Troilus. Thus, in Troilus, iii. 407-434, we find four consecutive stanzas, or twenty-eight consecutive lines, in which every rime is feminine; and this is by no means an extreme case. Feminine rimes are extremely old in English, and are found even in Anglo-Saxon.
§ 43. The most striking examples are those in which the feminine rime is composed of two distinct words, as these prove at once the reality of the final -e. Thus Ro-me rimes with tó me; A 671. You-the rimes with allow thee (aluu·dhe); F 675. Ty-me, with by me; G 1204. Similarly, the final -es of the plural substantive constitutes a syllable, as shewn by such a rime as werk-ës, derk is; G 64. In such a case, some scribes write werkis for werkes, to make the rime more complete, but it is quite needless, as there is no necessity for an absolute coincidence of vowel-sound in a mere unaccented syllable. In Lenvoy a Scogan, 15, it would be quite absurd to alter goddes to goddis(!), merely because it rimes with forbod'is; the really weak part of the rime is in the linking of the short o in goddes, with the longer o in forbode. For the same reason, the rime of lyte is with dytees (HF. 621) is good enough; indeed, we cannot write dytis (as Ten Brink proposes to do) because the word meant is the plural of ditee. Unusual rimes of this sort are still in common use, especially where a slightly humorous effect is intended; and this may very well excuse the above examples, as well as such rimes as Davit (for David), eructavit, D 1933; saveth, significavit, A 661; wounded, wounde hid, B 102; agon is, onis, D 9; and the like.
§ 44. There are several cases in which the rimes are rather to be considered as permissible than exact. The frequent riming of go (gao) with do (doo) has already been noted. Similarly, owing to the paucity of words ending in open ē, the word sèè, sea, is allowed to rime with close ē. The proper M.E. form of 'beast' is bèèst, which rimes, exactly, with èèst, east, and with almèèst, almost; but, inexactly, with forèst, in which the e is short. Yet, in Sir Thopas, B 1944-8, we find the words forest, best, est, almest, all reduced by the scribe to the same apparent form. In G 1324, we find bréést (A.S. brēost), breast, riming with préést, priest, exactly; but elsewhere bréést is treated as if the e were short, so that it rimes with lest (Kentish form of lust), A 2983; E 617. The mod. E. form suggests that the vowel was beginning to be shortened. In the rime upŏn, gōn, G 562, the o in the former word is short, but in the latter is long; both are open, and the rime is admissible. A similar variation in vowel-length is seen in the riming of hădde, had, with blāde, blade, A 617, and with spāde, spade, A 553; and here again, some scribes try to better the matter by using the form hade. The rime is really (had·də), (spaa·də); and the right lesson to be learnt from it is, that the a in spade was still (aa), and thus very different in sound from the a in mod. E. spade (speid). Long and short u are rimed in hous (huus), Caucasus (kau·kasus·) D 1139; and elsewhere. Note neyghebores, dores, i.e. (nei·həbuu·rez), (du·rez); in HF. 649. One of the most licentious rimes is in Troil. ii. 933, viz. riden, abiden, yeden, properly (rid·n), (abid·n), (yééd·n); which suggests that yeden is here (yĕd·n); and we are reminded of the M.E. form of the verb 'to give,' which hovers between yĕven and yiven, and rimes in Chaucer with liven, to live, though frequently written yeven. The singular form yēde rimes with nede (néé·də) in G 1280, and with dede (déé·də) in G 1140.
Chaucer certainly sometimes uses two forms of the same word; the most noticeable are heer and here for 'here'; theer and there for 'there'; eek and eke for 'eek.' These can be explained by the tendency to add a final -e in adverbial forms. Of course the double form was highly convenient. Remarkable double forms are chivachyë, A 85, and chevauchee, Mars, 144; perryë, A 2936, and perree, B 3550.
§ 45. Repetitions. Such rimes as aff-ecciouns, prot-ecciouns, F 55, wherein the penultimate and antepenultimate syllables are repeated, are disliked by later writers. Chaucer had found many such in Le Roman de la Rose. In discussing such repeated rimes as seke, to seek, seke, sick, A 17, we must remember that they are common in Old French poetry, though it was usual for the poet to take care that the repeated forms should be used in different senses. This rule Chaucer usually observes; cf. séé, see, sèè, sea, A 3615; here, here, here, to hear, A 4339; style, style, style, a stile, F 105; fern, fern, fern, long ago, F 255; &c. But he also allowed himself such repetitions as nones, noon is, A 523; clerkes, clerk is, B 4425; places, place is, D 1767; &c. We now avoid such rimes as acordes, cordes, HF. 695; acorde, recorde, Parl. Foules, 608; and still more, such rimes (all too easy) as goodnesse, soothfastnesse, E 793; soothfastnesse, wrecchednesse, I 34; more, evermore, Anelida, 240.
§ 46. Mistakes as to Chaucer's uses. Some of the facts concerning Chaucer's rimes have been misunderstood, even by so good a scholar as Prof. Lounsbury, in his Studies of Chaucer, vol. ii. It is therefore desirable to point out some of these errors.
He calls attention, among others, to the following false rimes:—
Desyre, manere, T. iv. 817 (p. 54). But the right reading is martyre, which alone makes sense. For the actual use of the false rime here censured, see Rom. Rose, 2779.
Kinde, binde, wende, T. iii. 1437 (p. 54). Read winde, that thou mayst wind. 'Gower will furnish a number of similar illustrations' (p. 54).
Prof. Lounsbury is extremely anxious to prove that assonances (i.e. such imperfect rimes as we see in kepe, eke, with a mere correspondence in the vowel-sound only) occur in Chaucer; and endeavours to strengthen his position by considering various difficult rimes. At p. 60, he says: 'All difficulty with crown and person (R.R. 3201) disappears the moment they receive the forms coroun and persoun (as in Gower, iii. 112, 141, 227, 234).' But Gower has no such forms; he has coróne, persóne in every instance, emphasised by the use of coróned, enviróned (iii. 112), and by such lines as, 'If it in his persón-e be'; ii. 202. Chaucer rimes persone with allone, D 1162; and with done, T. ii. 701, 1485, iv. 83; and he uses the forms córone or córoune and coróne. But R.R. 3201 has, 'And on hir heed she hadde a crown'; and, only two lines below, has the dissyllabic crownet.
'Gower,' we are told, 'rymes the preterite had with bed, leiser with desire, and dore, a door, with the verb dare, in the form dore'; p. 64. Gower does none of these things; he rimes the correct preterite hedde, which means 'hid,' and which Pauli (regardless of sense) turns into hadde, with the form a-bedde (i. 256). Further, he rimes desir with leiser, according to Pauli (ii. 95); but there is no reason why Gower may not have meant to use the form leisir, since that is the true A.F. form corresponding to O.F. loisir (still in use). Lastly, Gower rimes dore (durə), a door, with dore (durə), the 1st p. pr. subj. of the verb durren, to dare, corresponding to A.S. durre (ii. 96). The fact that the pres. indicative is dar, with a different vowel, has nothing to do with the passage in question. It is the critic, not Gower, who is here at fault; even Gower must have known that dar is monosyllabic, and could not possibly rime with the dissyllabic sb. dore.
Chaucer uses 'the pp. smitted for smitten'; T. v. 1545; p. 65. Not so; smitted and smitten are totally different words.
Chaucer uses 'the form houn for hound'; T. iv. 210; p. 65. What howne means, I do not know; but, as it is dissyllabic, it cannot mean hound; nor has it any connection therewith.
'In HF. 959, the infin. demeine is found riming with seyen'; p. 71. Not so; it rimes with the dative of the infinitive, to seyne (A.S. tō secganne); precisely as to seyne rimes with reyne in F 313. In the face of this quotation, the next remark loses all its point, viz. that 'the suggestive fact about this peculiarity of ryme is that it is not found in the Canterbury Tales'; the answer being, that it is found there. So again, we find to seyne, peyne, Parl. Foules, 78.
Next we read—'if it be contended that the usage is based upon the derivation of one of the forms from the A.S. gerundial ending -anne, it is enough to reply that its occurrence in these cases is not borne out by the poet's practice elsewhere'; p. 71. Of course, it is not enough; for we cannot divorce Chaucer's language from the general usage of Middle-English, in which very few forms of this character had survived. Even if it were enough, the assertion that there is no other such case happens not to be true; for we often find to done; as in A 3543, 3778, B 770, D 2194, F 334, G 932, I 62.
And again, we find to sene, riming with grene, A 1035. And yet again, to bene, Rom. Rose, 1265. It is impossible to respect arguments which derive all their apparent force from the principle of heaping one mistake upon another.
§ 47. It is tedious to reply to special pleading of this kind. Thus, at p. 72, I am quoted, correctly, as objecting to the false rime in R. Rose, 1981, where the acc. pl. feet is made to pair with the infinitive lete. And we are told that 'the force of this example is altogether impaired by the fact that in the Man of Lawes Tale (B 1104) the same plural rimes with the infin. mete.' So far from impairing my argument, the 'fact' strengthens it immensely; for, in that passage, we have no longer to do with the acc. feet, but with the dative plural in the phrase to fet-e, answering to the A.S. phrase to fōtum, which just makes all the difference. Correctly, it should be to fōte; but the ē was, by this time, so strongly associated with the plural use, that to fēte took its place.
We see that the e was sounded, because there is a third riming word, in the phrase in the strete. Stratmann's Dictionary duly notes this very passage. It is, however, true that Chaucer is not always consistent about this; he has under fete, riming with swete, Book of the Duchess, 399; in a strete, riming with on my fete, HF. 1049; but in the Cant. Tales, we find at his feet, A 2047; al about hir feet, A 2075; unto his beddes feet, A 4213. The one thing which he does not do is to use fete in the accusative, which is precisely what the author of Fragment B of the Romaunt does; unless, as is more likely, he drops the -e of the infin. lete, which Chaucer invariably keeps (at any rate when final). We can easily understand the suppression of a final e; but it is difficult to understand why a writer should invent one.
Once more, when I argue that the rime of entente with the adj. present in R. Rose, 5869, does not accord with Chaucer's usage, the reply is made (p. 72) that entent rimes with the pp. shent in the Man of Lawes Tale (B 930). But it is clear that Chaucer here has entente as usual, and rimes it with the form shent-e, which is the pp. treated as a plural adjective; as in several other places.
Next (on p. 72), Gower is rated for riming the prep. for with the pp. forlore; Gower, C.A. ii. 239. But Gower's phrase is 'that thou art comen fore'; and I suspect that he knew the language of his own time. The fore may answer to the A.S. fore, on account of (Grein, i. 320); or, more probably, that ... fore was taken as the equivalent of therfore, which constantly takes the final e, as in Chaucer, E 1141.
On p. 72, again, it is said that, in F 1273, Chaucer rimes the pt. t. broght-e with nought, i.e. he uses the incorrect form broght. This charge, for once, is quite true, and it is as well to say at once, that Chaucer's rimes are not quite immaculate; but his sins of this description are not, after all, very numerous, and not by any means so numerous as Prof. Lounsbury, for the purpose of his argument, would have us believe. The only right method is to make out a fair list, without straining to make it much worse than it should be.
§ 48. In his Studies, vol. i. pp. 402-5, Prof. Lounsbury makes another attack upon the unfortunate poet's rimes. Many of his instances are wrong; so much so, that four of Chaucer's supposed errors and two of Gower's are admitted to be no errors in vol. iii. 453. It would have been well if all the rest of the charges had been withdrawn at the same time. I here draw attention to them accordingly.
'In Parl. Foules, 121, the preterite broughte rymes with the pp. wrought.' Answer; the rimes are: broght-e, y-wroght-e, thoght-e; the form y-wroghte occurs in the phrase 'with lettres large y-wroghte,' where y-wroghte is treated as a plural adjective; and there is no error at all.
'In Troilus, i. 463, the pp. fled rymes with the preterite bredde.' As before, the phrase is: 'Alle othere dredes weren from him fledde.' Here fledde is treated as a plural adjective, and there is no error at all. One would have thought that Chaucer knew something of the language of his time.
'In Troilus, ii. 1079, the pp. excused [rimes] with the preterite accusede.' But the preterite of accusen was accused; the addition of the full suffix -ede is rare, and chiefly confined to monosyllabic roots.
'In Troil. iv. 1422, the pp. sprad [rimes] with the preterite hadde' The line ends, 'with herte and eres spradde'; where spradde is treated as a plural adjective. No error.
'In Troil. v. 1758, the preterite mette [rimes] with the pp. whet.' It is the same story; the phrase is 'hir speres weren whette.' No error.
'In the Legend, 786, the preterite heryede rymes with the pp. beryed.' As the usual preterite was heryed (hér-y-ed-e being too cumbrous and almost unpronounceable), there is no error.
'In the Legend, 2384, the pp. served [rimes] with the preterite deservede' But the preterite was deserved. The full ending -ede was seldom added to roots of more than one syllable, least of all when the verb happened to be of French origin. By ignoring the habits of the language of Chaucer's time, such objections might have been largely multiplied; it is surprising to find that so few have been noted.
'In the Knightes Tale, A 2343, the preterite signifyede rymes with the pp. cried.' However, the preterite was signifyed.
'In the Man of Lawes Tale, B 559, the preterite mette rymes with the pp. yshet; [in B 435] the pp. converted with the preterite astertede; [in B 547] the pp. exiled with the preterite bigilede; and [in B 1115] the pp. ymet with the infin. lette and the preterite sette.' All the charges against Chaucer break down. The pp. yshet is properly yshette, plural. The preterite of asterten is asterted. The preterite of bigilen is bigiled. And the pp. ymet should be ymette, plural. A critic who imagines that such cumbrous preterites as astertede and bigilede were in common use, should be asked to read Middle-English authors till he meets with a few examples of them.
'In the Clerkes Tale, E 498, the preterite amevede rimes with the pp. agreved.' But the preterite was ameved.
'In the Somnours Tale, D 1833, the pp. amended rymes with the preterite defendede.' But the preterite was defended. Similarly, the preterites redressede, tariede, espyede, cryede, eylede, sewede are conjured up to put Chaucer in the wrong; an argument which requires no serious refutation. So far was Chaucer from using the form espyede that, whenever he desires to vary from the form espyed, he naturally uses the form espyde, as in G 1230. Our ancestors were but human; they did not mind saying either espyed or espyde; but espy-e-de was a little too much.
'In the Compl. of Mars, 65, the preterite com rymes with the pp. overcome; but as in this instance, there is a possibility that com may be deemed a relic of the ancient subj. usage, and therefore entitled to a final e, the example will not be insisted upon at this point.' This seems to suggest, as an alternative, that come may be the preterite subjunctive; however it is neither the preterite nor the preterite subjunctive, but simply the present subjunctive, being perfectly correct. The line is: 'That dwell'th in solitud-e til she come,' i.e. that dwells [present tense] in solitude till she may come. The preterite subj. cōme would have a long close o, and could not possibly rime (in Chaucer) with the short u in overcome (aoverkumə).
It is objected to Legend, 1391, that the insertion of hath causes 'the adj. goode, of the definite declension, to be shorn of its final e in pronunciation.' The line is: 'As shal the good-man that therfor hath payed,' where good-man is a compound word, occurring in Matt. xxiv. 43, and elsewhere; and it is interesting to find that Chaucer even uses good men in the vocative plural, instead of good-e men, as a familiar form of address; B 4630. If, as seems to be proposed, we remove the word hath, and read good-e, we get: 'As shal the good-e man that therfor payed'; which rimes just as well as before, payed being an admissible form of the preterite, as well as payde. But then the epithet goode becomes comparatively otiose.
In the Legend, 1696, it is maintained that wroghte is a past participle. It is surely a preterite, the word they, i.e. the besiegers, being understood. This is a little forced, but it cannot be helped. To take it as a pp. gives no sense; for it then becomes, 'the siege lay full long, and (was) little wrought.' To 'work a siege' would be a harsh expression. If, on the other hand, we are to understand was before wrought, we may just as well understand they. It is quite as easy.
§ 49. My position is, in short, that the attack upon Chaucer in this passage (Studies in Chaucer, i. 402-405) fails in every single instance. It is called 'a formidable' list; but is nothing of the kind. The attack against Gower also fails in every single instance. Omitting the two charges which the author himself withdraws, the passage (p. 405) runs thus:—
'In the Confessio Amantis, the preterites herde, wente, tremblede, and com will be found ryming respectively with the past participles answerd, went, assembled, and overcome (see i. 151, ii. 7, iii. 263, 350). He has also the infin. wedde ryming with the pp. sped (iii. 265).'
Answer. Herde rimes with the plural pp. answerde. In ii. 7, the text is wrong, and makes nonsense. Trembled is a correct preterite. Cōm could not rime with overcŏme in the least, if it were a preterite; the reading cŏme is right, and represents the pres. sing. subj. = may come. In iii. 265, the reading is obviously false, as the line consists of eleven syllables; we have merely to strike out were, which reduces the line to the normal length, and turns the pp. sped into the pt. t. spedde, correctly. The syllables should have been counted.
§ 50. Assonances. I have drawn attention to the above passages because it affords an opportunity of illustrating Chaucer's habits. I have said that Prof. Lounsbury is very anxious to fasten upon Chaucer the charge of using mere assonances, i.e. syllables in which nothing rimes but the vowel-sound; for specimens of which see vol. i. p. 5. I doubt if the charge can be fairly proved. But it is well to examine the cases.
Book of the Duchesse, 79, 80. L. 79 ends with terme. L. 80, according to Thynne's edition, ends in yerne. The correction of yerne to erme, which produces a perfect rime, is so obvious, that it occurred to Mr. Bradshaw, to myself, and to Ten Brink (to the best of my belief) independently. As the reading yerne is due to no MS., but rests upon Thynne, who is, practically, the sole authority for ll. 31-96, I decline to bow down to him; seeing that Chaucer himself uses erme elsewhere (C 312), to rime with the same word terme.
In Troil. v. 9, most MSS. have clere, to rime with grene and quene; a mere assonance. But, as some MSS. have shene (see vol. ii. p. lxxii), it seems absurd to reject such an easy correction. In the Parl. Foules, 296, the same two words grene and quene rime with 'the somer-sonne shene'; a highly suggestive fact. And in the Cant. Tales, shene rimes six times with grene, and three times with queene, and with no other word except sustene (once); which is, again, a suggestive fact.
Only one more instance is known, viz. in Troil. ii. 884, where syke rimes with endyte and whyte. It is not impossible that Chaucer wrote syte; see my note.
These three doubtful instances, being all that have been found in the whole of Chaucer's works, compare favourably, to say the least, with the six indubitable instances occurring in Fragment B (only) of the Romaunt of the Rose; see vol. i. p. 5. In calculating in errors, we must observe the percentage.
When every mistake, or rather slight inaccuracy or licence, that can be found in Chaucer's works, has been reckoned to his discredit, it will still be found that he observes certain laws with rigid persistence; and it is possible to use these observed peculiarities as tests whereby to enable us to reject decisively such poems as have been attributed to him with more zeal than judgement. It is my deliberate opinion, for example, that Fragment B of the Romaunt of the Rose shews so many deviations from his known habits of riming as to render it impossible that he had anything to do with it.
§ 51. Endings in -y and -y-e. The non-riming of -y with -y-ë (see vol. i. p. 5) is a test which cannot be ignored; and it is better to accept its guidance than to attempt to circumvent it, if we would be free from bias.
Even on this point, Prof. Lounsbury is incorrect. In his anxiety to make out a case, he tells us (Studies, i. 389) that the adjective dry, 'whether used attributively or predicatively,' rimes always with words of the -yë group, whereas sly is sometimes (correctly) monosyllabic. The two words are essentially different. Sly, from Icel. slœgr, is monosyllabic when used indefinitely; whereas 'dry' answers to M.E. drye, A.S. drȳge, and was never a monosyllable till its final -e at last dropped off. Chaucer handles these two words in different ways, in strict accordance with their etymology.
Yet again (i. 390) he accuses Gower of a false rime in his Confessio Amantis, iii. 320, because he rimes enemy with envy-e. This is a serious charge; but an examination of the passage explains the riddle. The answer is that, in this particular passage, the right reading is enemy-e, because the word is feminine, as it refers to a woman. The distinction between O.F. enemi (Lat. inimicum) and enemië (Lat. inimica) is clear enough in O.F. poetry, as Gower knew very well; and there is no reason why he should not have used his knowledge. The noticeable point is, that every charge of this character, when it comes to be explained, tells precisely the other way. The attempt to prove Chaucer wrong, where he happens to be precisely right, does him more good than harm.
§ 52. Metres and Forms of Verse.
In the List of Chaucer's Works in vol. i. p. lxii, the various forms of his metre are noticed. It is certain that he adapted most of them from French, especially from Guillaume de Machault, though he no doubt improved the general structure of his lines by the study of Italian models. He nowhere employs Boccaccio's ottava rima, and only once attempted a short piece in Dante's terza rima, in the Compleint to his Lady. However, this attempt is of unique interest, as Dante's verse was never again imitated till about 1540, when Sir Thomas Wiat wrote his Three Satires.
§ 53. Old Verse-forms. Chaucer was but little indebted to the forms of English verse used by his predecessors. He doubtless adopted the line of four accents for his translation of The Romaunt of the Rose, because such was the metre of the original. Still, this metre was in use long before his time. It was employed by Wace and Gaimar, and we have an excellent specimen of it in English in the Lay of Havelok, written before A.D. 1300; as well as a long example in the Cursor Mundi. It is also the metre employed by Barbour in his 'Bruce,' and by Gower in his 'Confessio Amantis.' Chaucer employed it in his translation of the Romaunt; in his Ceys and Alcioun, portions of which survive in the Book of the Duchesse; in the Book of the Duchesse itself; and in the House of Fame. Very likely he employed it also in the lost Book of the Lion, as Machault's Dit du Lion is in this metre.
The ballad-metre which appears, in varying forms, in Sir Thopas, was also older than Chaucer's time; it is obvious that this poem is a burlesque.
The four-line stanza employed in the 'Proverbs' was also already known: see, for example, 'The Five Joys of the Virgin,' in An Old Eng. Miscellany, ed. Morris, p. 87.
§ 54. The eight-line stanza. The poet's first attempt at naturalising a French metre in stanzas, as far as we know, was in his A B C; although the original of this poem is in a different metre. The metre must have been known to Machault, of whose poems only fragments appear in Tarbé's edition; for good examples, see the works of Eustache Deschamps. The same metre is used in the Monkes Tale, the Former Age, and Lenvoy to Bukton; and, thrice repeated, with a refrain, in the Balade to Rosemounde, Fortune, and the Complaint of Venus. It was afterwards taken up by Hoccleve and Lydgate, and by G. Douglas, in his 'King Hart,' but is not a particularly favourite metre. However, with the addition of an Alexandrine line at the end, it became the famous Spenserian stanza of the Faerie Queene.
§ 55. The seven-line stanza. His next achievement was of vast importance. He naturalised the famous seven-line stanza, employed by Machault in several poems, one of which evidently furnished the refrain of Against Women Unconstant; and this is good evidence in favour of the genuineness of this Balade. On account of the great interest attaching to this metre, I here transcribe Machault's Balade in full. And I take occasion to remark, at the same time, that it illustrates the absurdity of an unlucky suggestion that has been lately made, viz. that 'all Balades must needs have an envoy, and that envoys to some of Chaucer's Balades must have been lost.'
Ballade: by Guillaume de Machault (ed. Tarbé, p. 55).
Se pour ce muir qu'amours ay bien servi,
Fait mauvais servir si fait signour;
Ne je n'ay pas, ce croy, mort desservi
Pour bien amer de très loial amour
Mais je voy bien que finer faut un jour,
Quant je congnois et voy tout en appert
Qu'en lieu de bleu, Dame, vous vestez vert.
Hélas! Dame, je vous ay tant chieri En desirant de merci la doucour,
Que je n'ay mais sens ne pooir en mi,
Tant qu'ont miné mi soupir et mi plour.
Et m'espérance est morte sans retour,
Quant souvenirs me monstre à découvert
Qu'en lieu de bleu, Dame, vous vestez vert.
Pour ce maudi les iex dont je vous vi,
L'eure, le jour, et le très cointe atour,
Et la biauté qui ont mon cuer ravi,
Et la plaisir enyvré de folour,
Le dous regart qui me mist en errour;
Et loyauté qui souffre et a souffert
Qu'en lieu de bleu, Dame, vous vestez vert..
This metre is much used by our poet; it occurs in the Lyf of St. Cecile, the Clerkes Tale, the original Palamon and Arcite, the Compleint to his Lady, An Amorous Complaint, Complaint unto Pitè, Anelida, Of the Wretched Engendring of Mankinde, the Man of Lawes Tale, the Compleint of Mars, Troilus, Words to Adam, Parliament of Foules, the Prioresses Tale, and Lenvoy to Scogan. It occurs thrice repeated, with a refrain, in Against Women Unconstant, Compleint to his Purs, Lak of Stedfastnesse, Gentilesse, and Truth; as well as in the Balade introduced into the Legend of Good Women, ll. 249-269.
The Envoy to 'Fortune' also consists of a seven-line stanza, but the arrangement of the rimes is different, there being only two rimes in place of the usual three.
This metre was much used by Hoccleve, Lydgate, King James I of Scotland, and others; but is now uncommon.
§ 56. Terza rima. We have only a few lines of terza rima, in the Compleint to his Lady; see vol. i. p. 76.
§ 57. Ten-line stanza. A ten-line stanza occurs in the Compleint to his Lady. Perhaps it was an experiment; and perhaps it is somewhat of a failure. The Envoy to the Complaint of Venus also consists of 10 lines.
§ 58. Nine-line stanzas. Chaucer has two nine-line stanzas. Of these, the former has the rimes arranged according to the formula aabaabbab, which occurs in Anelida: and two of these stanzas are rendered much more complex, by the use of internal rimes. As this metre is rare, it is perhaps worth noticing that it was employed by Gawain Douglas in his Palace of Honour; and that in the last three stanzas of that poem he even imitates these internal rimes.
The other nine-line stanza, with the formula aabaabbcc, occurs in the Complaint of Mars.
§ 59. Other stanzas. A six-line stanza (ababcb), repeated six times, forms the Envoy to the Clerkes Tale.
There is another six-line stanza (ababaa) in the Envoy to Womanly Noblesse; vol. iv. p. xxvi.
A five-line stanza occurs in the Envoy to the Complaint to his Purse. It was copied in the poem called The Cuckoo and the Nightingale.
§ 60. In Anelida, 256-271, and 317-324, we have two unique stanzas, with lines of varying lengths; the rime-formula being aaabaaab, repeated in the inverse order bbbabbba. This may be called a virelay in the English sense, and is possibly what Chaucer intended by that name.
§ 61. Roundels. Four Roundels occur; three in Merciless Beautee; and one in the Parliament of Foules. For the structure of the Roundel, see vol. i. p. 524.
§ 62. It readily appears that Chaucer was a great metrist, and bestowed many new forms of metre upon our literature. Most of them were, of course, simply borrowed and adapted from French; but it is possible that a few of them were due to his own constructive ability. The poems called Anelida and A Complaint to his Lady exhibit clear examples of his experiments in metrical construction; and he has given us several examples of his skill in overcoming the difficulties of rime. Of these, the chief are The Complaint of Venus, with 72 lines on 9 rimes; The Balade to Rosemounde, with 24 lines on 3 rimes; Womanly Noblesse, with 33 lines on 4 rimes; and the Envoy to the Clerkes Tale, with 36 lines on only 3 rimes.
§ 63. Balades and Terns. The usual form for a Balade was in three stanzas, with a refrain. This rule is partially observed, not only in Balades, but in other poems. Chaucer was fond of grouping his stanzas by threes; such a group has been called a Tern. For examples, see the latter part of the Complaint to Pitè, in three groups of three stanzas each; the five groups of three stanzas at the end of the Complaint of Mars; the three stanzas forming the Proem to Anelida; the three groups of three stanzas each in Fortune; and the Triple Roundel. The latter part of the Compleint to his Lady consists of nine stanzas, i.e. thrice three. The Envoy to Scogan has six stanzas, i.e. twice three; whilst the Envoy to Bukton has three only.
§ 64. Envoys. There are, usually, no Envoys to Chaucer's Balades. There is one to Fortune, called Lenvoy de Fortune; one addressed to King Richard II, at the end of Lak of Stedfastnesse; one addressed to Scogan; and one addressed to Bukton. That appended to the Complaint to his Purs was obviously supplied at a later date; whilst the so-called Envoy to Truth (only found in one MS.) is hardly an Envoy at all, but merely an additional stanza, in the same strain as the rest.
§ 65. The Heroic Couplet. But Chaucer's greatest metrical gift to England was his use of the Heroic Couplet, which he employed with remarkable success, first in the Legend of Good Women, and soon after, in his Canterbury Tales. This he may well have borrowed from Machault, as has been already explained above; see vol. iii. p. 383, and note 2 on the same page.
The heroic couplet was first copied by Lydgate, who wrote in it two poems of great length, the Siege of Thebes and the Troy-boke. It was also used by Henry the Minstrel in his patriotic poem named the Wallace. It is remarkable that it was almost entirely neglected by Dunbar; the only piece in this metre that is certainly his is one of 34 lines called 'In Prays of Woman.' However, a much longer piece entitled The Freiris of Berwick has also been attributed to him. This metre was also employed by Gawain Douglas in his translation of Vergil.
§ 66. Grammatical Outlines of Chaucer's English.
I shall only attempt here a general outline of the most distinguishing characteristics of the grammatical forms used by Chaucer. The student will necessarily consult such works as Prof. Child's Observations on the Language of Chaucer and Gower, which refer to the Canterbury Tales only; the Observations on the Language of Chaucer's Troilus, by Prof. Kittredge (published for the Chaucer Society); the Observations on the Language of Chaucer's Legend of Good Women, by J. M. Manly (in Studies and Notes on Philology and Literature, vol. ii; Ginn and Co., Boston, 1893); and Ten Brink's compact and excellent volume entitled Chaucers Sprache und Verskunst; Leipzig, 1884.
It would be easy to devote a large volume to the study of Chaucer's grammatical forms. The forms of the substantives, in particular, are frequently variable, sometimes on account of their accentuation, which is accommodated to the line in which they happen to occur, and sometimes for reasons which appear somewhat arbitrary. Nothing short of complete lists can satisfy the scholar.
At the same time, such lists are rather bewildering. I therefore attempt here a sketch of the general principles by which Chaucer's usage appears to be regulated; whilst at the same time the reader is requested to remember that most of the rules given below are subject to exceptions; and that sometimes such exceptions are rather numerous. But it is plain that we must begin with general rules.
§ 67. General Rules. Before noticing these, the following empirical rules for the reading of Chaucer's verse may conveniently be here repeated. Cf. vol. v. p. xxiii.
1. Always pronounce the final -es, -ed, -en, -er, or -e in any word, as a distinct and separate syllable at the end of a line and at the cæsural pause; so also elsewhere, with the exceptions noted here below, and a few others.
2. The final -e is almost invariably elided, and other light syllables (chiefly final -ed, -en, -er, -es, -y) are slurred over and nearly absorbed, whenever the word next following begins with a vowel or is one of certain words beginning with h, viz. (1) a pronoun, as he, his, him, her, hem: (2) part of the verb have: (3) heer and how: (4) mute h in a French word, such as honour. Ex. ev'r, A 50; rid'n, A 57; ov'ral, A 249; ov'rest, A 290; fith'l, 296; get'n, 291; som'r, 394; wat'r, 400; many, 406.
Note. The cæsural pause prevents elision.
3. The final -e is frequently, but not always, suppressed in a few common words (best learnt by observation), such as were, hadde, wolde, sholde, and some others. Thise, these, is invariably monosyllabic. So also, the medial -e is usually suppressed in such words as havenes (haavnez), othere (oodhrə) owene (aou·nə), everich (aevrich), sovereyn (suvrein). Similarly, the second e is dropped in távernes (tav·ernz), when the accent is on the first syllable. If it be on the second, then the word is trisyllabic: (taver·nez). Accentuation plays an important part in determining the forms of words.
These three rules meet a large number of cases. Exceptions should be noticed as they arise; and it will usually be found that the exception can be justified.
§ 68. The Strong Declension of Substantives. The forms of substantives frequently present much difficulty in individual cases. The primary rules are these.
1. Substantives which end in a vowel in Anglo-Saxon, in the nominative case, take a final -e in Chaucer, in the nom. and dative. The accusative may be taken to be the same as the nominative in every instance.
The A.S. masculine and neuter nouns include jo-stems (Sievers, A.S. Gram. ed. Cook, sect. 246), as ende; short i-stems (§ 262), as mete, A 127; short u-stems (§ 270), as wode, wood; as well as sbs. of the weak declension, as ape.
The A.S. wo-stems give M.E. final -we, reduced to (u) in pronunciation, as in sparwe (spar·u). The A.S. feminines in -u give M.E. final -e; as sake, dore. Feminine sbs. of the weak declension end in final -e, as tonge, tongue.
2. Most of the A.S. monosyllabic feminine nouns with a long stem-syllable take a final -e in Chaucer, in the nom., acc., and dative, doubtless because all the oblique cases were dissyllabic. And owing to this tendency, some A.S. monosyllabic nouns of the masculine and neuter genders do the same.
Ex. A.S. lār, lore, Ch. lore (never loor); A.S. borh, a pledge, Ch. borwe. Prof. Child remarks that 'two forms not unfrequently occur, one with, and the other without, the vowel.' Ex. carte, acc., B 4208; cart, acc., D 1539.
3. The monosyllabic sbs. in Chaucer (i.e. sbs. having no final -e) mostly correspond to A.S. masculine and neuter o-stems (Sievers, § 238). If a final -e appears, it is usually in the dative case; but even in this case, it is frequently dropped. Ex. arm (of the body), boor, a boar, breeth, breath, corn, deer, stoon. Datives: breeth, A 5; doom, F 928; day, A 19; ring, F 247; folk, A 25; gold, A 160. Datives in -e; horne, Book Duch. 376; londe, B 522; horse, T. v. 37.
Many of these dative forms may be explained as occurring in 'petrified' phrases, i.e. to phrases (involving datives) that were in common use. 'These,' says Mr. Manly, 'are the phrases which have given rise to the supposition that the regular ending of the dative in Chaucer is -e. An examination of the facts, however, will shew that this is not true. The dative ending was preserved in certain phrases which were transmitted and used as phrases, the force of the dative as such being no longer felt. This will appear from a comparison of such phrases as a bedde, to bedde, over borde, to dethe, for fere, a-fere (afire), to-hepe, a-lyve, a-slepe, to wyve, to the brimme.' So also to rede, T. iv. 679: in house, D 352. Nevertheless, a few true datives in -e occur, though they are certainly scarce. We can hardly explain the use of horne in Book Duch. 376 as occurring in a petrified phrase. Cf. also on a berne, C 397; of his lone, D 1861; and, in particular, the curious instances in which the A.S. nom. has disappeared. Thus the A.S. hīw is always hewe in Chaucer, in all cases; the A.S. grāf is always grove; the A.S. hol is hole; sore in A 2743 is a nom. case; and so on.
§ 69. Archaisms. The easiest way of understanding Chaucer's language is to remember that it is archaic; the use of the final -e was fast disappearing, and he probably was anxious to retain it for the sake of metrical effect. He could not but have remarked its usefulness in Old French poetry; and his study of Italian must have led him to admire the frequency of the vowel-endings in that language. But the use of the English final -e had become extremely uncertain, owing to the complete fusion of the nom. and acc., and the loss (to a large extent) of the dative, except in old phrases which contained (usually) some common preposition.
§ 70. Three types of strong substantives. If I may beg leave to offer my own view of the forms of Chaucer's substantives of the strong declensions, I should be inclined to explain his usages in the following way.
Let us put aside the weak declension, and the etymology of the A.S. words, and let us look at the actual forms of the singular nouns. And, since the genitive case, in Chaucer, usually has a form of its own, let us consider the nom., acc., and dative only.
All the representative words given in Sievers (A.S. Gram. § 238, &c.) can be collected under a few general types, for the present purpose. The fem. sb. giefu had the accus. giefe; but as -u and -e both became -e at a later period, the nom. and acc. are, practically, alike.
Further, datives in -a, as sun-a, feld-a, became datives in -e, and may here be so considered. Hence, in very late A.S. and in Early English, we find, neglecting stems in -r, the few words which shew mutation in the dative, and others which do not affect the general result, the following uses.
1. Every dative case ends in -e.
2. Every accusative resembles either the nominative or the dative; if the latter, it ends in -e.
Hence, there are ONLY THREE main types, which we may illustrate by the words dōm, ende, and lār. The A.S. dōm became M.E. doom, whilst the form ende persisted without any change of spelling.
The A.S. lār would, we should expect, become M.E. loor, which may here represent it, provisionally, for the present purpose (I substitute it for the type ār in Sievers, merely as being a commoner word). The resulting forms are, accordingly, these:—
|nom. acc. end-e||(nom. loor)||nom. acc. doom|
|dat. end-e.||dat. acc. lor-e.||dat. dom-e.|
A. As to this type, there could be no hesitation; all such words would naturally retain the final -e for a considerable period. Examples appear in ende, end, and words declined like it, such as M.E. herd-e, herdsman, lēche, physician, wyte, punishment; and numerous agential words in -ere, as millére, miller. Also in A.S. giefu, and words declined like it, such as M.E. care, care; shame, shame; sake, sake; love, love. Also in A.S. wine, sife, and words like them, such as M.E. mete, meat, stede, stead, reye, rye, hate, hate, spere, spear. Also in A.S. sunu, son, wudu, wood; M.E. sone, wode. Also in A.S. duru, door, nosu, nose; M.E. dore, nose.
B. In type B, we have a majority for the form lor-e; the Early E. nom. loor gave way, and is seldom found, so that lore became the standard type, in Chaucer, for nom., dat., and acc. alike.
Examples occur in A.S. lār, and words like it, as M.E. fore, journey, path, halle, hall, sorwe, sorrow, stounde, time, wounde, wound, ore, mercy. Also in A.S. bēn, petition, and words like it, such as M.E. quene, queen; hyde, hide, skin; tyde, time; dede, deed.
C. In type C, the nom. and acc. combined against the dative form. Consequently, the monosyllabic form prevailed, in this instance only, for all cases. Nevertheless, the dative in -e is not uncommon, owing, as has been said, to its preservation in particular phrases. Besides which, it occurs sporadically after some prepositions. It must be remembered that the dative form was once very common, owing to its use after some very common prepositions, such as at, by, in, of, on, to. Examples of the monosyllabic nominative occur in A.S. dōm, and words declined like it, as M.E. ooth, oath, ring, arm (of the body), erl, mouth, dreem, dream, boon, bone, deer, fyr, fire, wyf; day, path, staf, ship, writ, shoo. Also in A.S. secg, and words declined like it, as net, bed, wed. Also in A.S. wyrm, and words declined like it, as M.E. deel, deal, part, gest, guest, hil, dint, loon, loan, wight. Examples of datives occur in a-fyre, to wyve, a-bedde, to wedde, lone (see Glossary).
If we thus consider the whole history, I think it becomes clear that the form of the dative in -e is really of considerable importance. It occurs, of course, in type A; it helps to determine type B; and, even in type C, is not always suppressed.
§ 71. Effect of accent. I add two more notes before dismissing this part of the subject. One is, that such a word as millere is only trisyllabic when accented on the penultimate, as in A 542. When accented on the first syllable, the final e is dropped in pronunciation, and some scribes drop it in the written form also; see A 545. There are many such instances in words of French origin. A large number of sbs. in -ing, derived from verbal roots, come under this rule. In the middle of the verse, the dissyllabic form is usual, as yelding, A 596, woning, A 606. But at the end of the line, the trisyllabic form occurs frequently, owing to the accent, especially in order to secure a rime with an infinitive mood. Thus in A 1616 we find beddinge, which rimes with bringe, and is accented on the i.
§ 72. Double Forms. The other remark which I have to make here is, that double forms of a word are not uncommon in Anglo-Saxon; and we find double forms in M.E. corresponding to them. A notable instance occurs in the A.S. gewil, will, a strong sb., beside A.S. willa, will, a weak sb. Hence Chaucer has both wil and wille; see the Glossarial Index.
§ 73. The Weak Declension. The three A.S. types are steorra, star, masc.; tunge, tongue, fem.; and ēage, eye, neuter. In M.E., the genders were disregarded, and all three types became merged in one, with final -e. Hence Chaucer has sterre, star, tonge, tongue, yë, eye; with one invariable form for the nom., acc., and dative.
A.S. words in -en. A.S. words ending in -en usually drop the -n in M.E. Hence, in place of the A.S. ǣfen, Chaucer has eve; though even also occurs. So also game for A.S. gamen; kinrede, A.S. cyn-rǣden; mayde, A.S. mægden; morwe, A.S. morgen.
§ 74. Genitive Singular. The genitive almost invariably ends in -es, sometimes shortened to -s. Ex. cherles, maydens. A few old feminines in -e occur occasionally; as halle, helle, love (in the comp. loveday). A few genitives in -e are due to the A.S. -an of the weak declension; as herte, sonne, cherche, widwe. Here belongs lady (short for lady-e). Hevene occurs as well as hevenes. The gen. of fader, father, is both fader and fadres.
§ 75. Dative Singular. As explained above, the dative ends in -e, except for words of type C (§ 70). The accusative always resembles the nominative.
§ 76. Plurals. The usual ending is -es (also written -is) or -s; as dayes, maydens. The same ending is usually employed even for sbs. of the weak declension, where the A.S. suffix was -an. Only a few old weak plurals survive; as oxen, pesen, peas, asshen (rarely asshes), hosen, yën, eyes, foon, foes, toon, toes, been, bees (seldom bees), fleen, fleas. We also find kyn, kine, bretheren, (never brothers), doghtren and doghtres, sustren and sustres. So also children.
Some words, originally neuter, remain unchanged in the plural; as deer, folk, hors, neet, pound, sheep, swyn; sometimes thing (also thinges), yeer (also yeres). So also winter. A few plurals shew mutation; as feet, teeth, men, wommen, gees, mys. Breech is really an old plural; but Chaucer has the double plural breches (I 330). Monthe (B 1674) is an old genitive plural, after the numeral twelf. In wyf, pl. wyves, f becomes v. In ship, pl. shippes, the p is doubled, to shew that the vowel is short.
§ 77. Substantives of French origin. Substantives of French origin take a genitive in -es or -s, and remain unchanged in the dat. and accusative. The plural likewise ends in -es or -s. The final -e appears in a large number of words, such as face, grace, &c.; but is sometimes suppressed, even when etymologically correct, as in fors for force, sours for source, beest for beste, host for hoste, princess for princesse. In Sir Thopas, plas occurs for place, and gras for grace. Cf. vol. iv. p. xxxii.
In words like nature, fortune, science, the final -e is sounded if the accent is on the second syllable, but is usually dropped if it falls on the first. The same usage prevails with regard to the plural suffix -es. Hence we find the plurals flóur-es, áventúr-es on the one hand, and pílour-s, lázar-s on the other; and pílgrimes is pronounced as pilgrims. So also aúditours, because the accent on ou is only secondary. Epístellès (B 55) is a 'learned' form. Words in -nt usually have the plural in -nts, often written -ntz; as tyraunts or tyrauntz. The A.F. z had the sound of ts. A remarkable plural occurs in orgòn or orgòòn (cf. Lat. organa). Words in s remain unchanged in the gen. sing. and in the pl. Thus Bachus, in Leg. 2376, is a gen. sing.; and caas, in A 323, is plural. The pl. of advocat is advocats, with mute t, which might be written advocaas; and condys (for condyts with mute t) occurs as the pl. of condyt.
§ 78. Adjectives. These occur both in the indefinite and in the definite form. The latter is known by its being preceded by the definite article, or a demonstrative or possessive pronoun, in which case it takes a final -e; as the yonge, his halfe, this ilke. Also when used in the vocative case, as O strange god, A 2373.
The indefinite form usually follows the A.S. type, and so depends upon the etymology. Hence we find, on the one hand, blak, good, foul; and, on the other, swēte, grēne, shēne, kēne, where the long e is due to mutation in a jo-stem, and the final -e represents a faint survival of that stem. So also clene (with open long e), dere, drye, blythe; and even softe, swote (without mutation). Other dissyllables are fewe, newe, trewe, riche, sene (visible), narwe (nar·u), stille, thikke, wilde. Moche is due to loss of l in mochel; so, perhaps, lyte for lytel.
Several adjectives, however, occur in Chaucer with a final -e in the indefinite form, contrary to the A.S. usage. Examples: bare, fayre, fresshe, longe, tame. So also badde, meke. In some cases, the final -e may be due to old usage; thus, in B 50, we find Of olde tyme, A.S. of ealdum tīman.
The plural of monosyllabic adjectives ends in -e. The same is the case with some of the pronouns and many of the cardinal numbers. Even monosyllabic past participles, when used adjectivally, may have a plural in -e, as: with yën faste y-shette; B 560; eres spradde, T. iv. 1422; bente, T. iv. 40: indeed, we even find this plural form after the word weren, as in weren fledde, T. i. 463; weren whette, T. v. 1760. So too y-mette, B 1115.
But adjectives and participles of more than one syllable usually remain unaltered in the plural.
Ordinals and monosyllabic superlatives (few in number) have final -e in the definite form; as the firste, the thridde, the ferthe, the beste, the laste, the leste, the moste, the nexte, the werste (or worste).
Some adjectives of French origin take the French pl. suffix -s; as, capitals, delitables, espirituels, temporeles.
§ 79. Comparatives. Comparatives usually end in -er, and remain unaltered when definite. Better is sometimes written bettre. We also find the comparatives lasse, lesse, less; worse or wers, worse; more, more, greater. Bet, better, is properly an adverb, but is also used as an adjective. Mo is properly an adverb, but is also used as an adjective; usually, mo means 'more in number,' as distinguished from more, meaning 'greater in size.' Mutation is seen in elder, lenger, strenger. For-m-er is due to adding -er to the stem of an old superlative, for-m-a.
§ 80. Superlatives. Superlatives usually end in -est, and remain unaltered when definite. We also find the superlatives first (def. firste); best (def. beste); last (def. laste); leest (def. leeste, leste); most (def. moste); next (def. nexte); werst (def. werste, worste). Mutation is seen in eldest, lengest, strengest. Ferrest is formed from the comp. adv. ferre. Note also the forms hind-r-est, upp-er-est, utt-er-est, ov-er-est. The old superl. for-me (A.S. for-ma, Lat. pri-mus) occurs in the comp. sb. forme-fader; and hence the double superl. for-m-est.
If an accent falls on the suffix -est, the def. form may take final -e; but examples are rare. Yet we find the seemlieste man, the uttereste preve, the wofulleste wight.
§ 81. Numerals. The cardinal numbers are as follows. 'One' is òòn, often òò or ò before a consonant, whence the indef. article an, a. Hence also al ones, altogether of one accord, C 696; for the nones = for then ones, for the once, for the nonce; also aloon, alone, more commonly allone. 'Two' is tweye or tweyne, originally the masc. form; also twō, originally the fem. and neuter form. The other numbers are three, foure, fyf or fyve, six, sevene, eighte, nyne, ten; &c. The ordinals are firste, othere or secounde, thridde, ferthe or fourthe, fifte, sixte, &c. Ten Brink remarks that the form eightetethe is unauthorised, and that it should be eightetenthe; but this is a mistake; see vol. v. p. 134.
§ 82. Pronouns. The first pers. pron. is I, dat. and acc. me; pl. we; dat. and acc. us. For I, we also find the Northern ik, not only in the Reves Tale, but in the compound theek = thee ik. Also, the Southern ich, rarely, both alone and in the compound theech = thee ich. The gen. pl. our occurs in our aller, of us all; A 823.
The second pers. pron. is thou, thow, dat. and acc. thee; pl. ye, dat. and acc. you. Thou is often appended to verbs, in the form tow; as in shaltow, wiltow, &c.
The third pers. pron. masc. is he, dat. and acc. him; pl. they, gen. hir (as in hir aller), dat. and acc. hem (never them), for all genders. The fem. form is she, dat. and acc. hir or hire, also hère at the end of a line or at the caesura (see Glossary). The neut. form is hit or it, dat. him; acc. hit or it.
§ 83. Possessives. The forms are: myn, my; thyn, thy; his (masc. and neut.), hire, hir, here (fem.); oure, our; youre, your; hire, here, hir, her = their. The Northern form thair is purposely introduced in A 4172. When standing alone, we also find oure, oures, ours; youre, youres, yours; hires, hers; hirs, theirs.
§ 84. Demonstratives. The is used for the def. article in all genders and in both numbers. A trace of the old dat. then (A.S. ðām) occurs in for the nones (= for then ones). Atte = at the.
The demonstratives are that; pl. tho, those; and this, pl. thise. Note that thise (dhiiz) is always monosyllabic; the final e merely marks (probably) a longer vowel-sound. It is probable that, in the same way, the form hise, his, used with plurals, may have meant (hiiz); the Cambridge MS. has the curious form hese; but it is monosyllabic.
§ 85. Interrogatives. These are: who, what; gen. whoos, whōs; dat. whōm; acc. whōm, what. Also which; pl. whiche, which. Also whether, which of the two.
§ 86. Relatives. That is used generally; also which, pl. whiche, which. Whos occurs as expressing a genitive; and whom for a dative; but we never find who as a nominative. We also meet with that-he for 'who'; that-his for 'whose'; that-him for 'whom'; cf. A 2710. Also the which; or, when used adjectivally, the whiche (A 3923); which that; the which that; who that, what that; who so, what so.
§ 87. Other pronominal forms. Men sometimes occurs as a weakened form of man, with the sense of mod. E. 'one'; and it therefore takes a singular verb. Ex. men smoot, one smote, A 149; men moot, one must, one ought to, A 232. Self is used adjectivally, as in Thy selve neighebour, B 115. Hence also myself, myselven, myselve; thyself, thyselven, thyselve; hemself, themselves, hemselven, hemselve. Thilke, a def. form, means 'that'; we also find this ilke, that ilke; cf. A 721. Swich, such; pl. swiche, swich. Oon, oo, one; noon, non, none; other; any. Som, pl. som, some, somme; the plural is written all three ways, but is usually monosyllabic. Al, alle, all; a word causing some difficulty, being very often written alle, though very seldom dissyllabic. The gen. aller occurs, both alone and in compounds. Aught, ought, oght; naught, nought, noght. Either, gen. eith(e)res; neither, gen. neith(e)res.
For 'each,' we find ēch (aech), reduced to ich or y in the compound everich, every; cf. everichoon, every one. Many is used alone; also in many oon, many on, many a.
§ 88. Verbs.
Verbs are distinguished as being weak or strong. In the former, the pp. (past participle) ends in -ed, -d, or -t; in the latter, it ends in -en or -e.
A simple rule is to observe that, in weak verbs, a final -e is common in the past tense, but never ends a pp. unless it is used as a plural adjective; conversely, in strong verbs, it is common (varying with -en) in the pp., but never occurs in the pt. t. singular. The frequent disregard of this usage is a great blemish in Tyrwhitt's edition of the Canterbury Tales.
§ 89. The general formulæ for the conjugation of verbs are as follows.
Present Tense. Singular: 1. -e; 2. -est, -st; 3. -eth, -th (or a contracted form). Plural: -en, -n, -e; for all persons. In the 3rd pers. singular, -eth is often sounded as -th, even when -eth is fully written. We also find contracted forms, as in A.S.; such as rit, rideth; hit, hideth; sit, sitteth; bit, biddeth; slit, slideth; writ, writeth; stant, standeth; fint, findeth; et, eateth; set, setteth. In all these instances the stem or root of the verb ends in d or t. Besides these, we find rist, riseth; worth for wortheth, becomes; and the curious form wryth, writheth, T. iii. 1231. In the very same line Bitrent is short for Bitrendeth. In the 2 pers. sing. -est is often -st, even when written in full; in the pl., -en may be reduced to -n, as in seyn, say, or else to -e, as in sey-e.
Past tense of Strong Verbs. Singular: 1. 3. no suffix; 2. -e, occasionally, but usually dropped. Plural: 1. 2. 3. -en, -e.
Past tense of Weak Verbs. Singular: 1. 3. -ede, -ed, -de, -te; 2. -edest, -dest, -test. Plural: 1. 2. 3. -eden, -den, -ten; -ede, -de, -te, also -ed (occasionally).
Subjunctive mood: Present. Singular: 1. 2. 3. -e. Plural: -en, -e. Past (strong verbs); suffixes as in the present subjunctive. Past (weak verbs); like the past tense of the indicative; but -st may be dropped in the second pers. singular.
Imperative Mood. Singular: 2 pers. (no suffix, usually); -e (in some weak verbs). Plural: 2 pers. -eth, -th, sometimes -e. The rest of the Mood is supplied from the subjunctive.
Infinitive: -en, (often) -e. The gerundial infinitive, preceded by the prep, to, and usually expressive of purpose, has a special form only in a very few instances, as to bene, to be; to done, to do; to sene, to see, A 1035; to seyne, to say; for which to doon, to seen or to see, to seyn or to seye, also occur. In other verbs, it does not differ from the ordinary infinitive. The true infinitive occurs without the prep. to, and remains in mod. E. in such expressions as I can sing, I might go.
Participles. Present: -inge, -ing. The fuller form in -inge is rare, being chiefly employed, for the rime, at the end of a line, as gliteringe, A 2890; thunderinge, A 2174; flikeringe, A 1962.
Note. The pres. part. is not to be confounded with the sb. of verbal origin. Thus singinge, floytinge (A 91), whistling (A 170), are present participles; but priking, hunting (A 191), winning (A 275), lerninge (A 300), teching (A 518) are substantives. The pl. sb. rekeninges occurs in A 760.
Past Participles. The pp. of weak verbs ends in -ed, -d, or -t; and that of strong verbs in -en, -n, -e. The prefix y- (i), representing the A.S. ge- (ye-), often occurs with past participles; as in y-ronne, A 8, from A.S. gerunnen. The same prefix occurs, very rarely, before an infinitive; as in y-finde, y-here, y-knowe, y-see, y-thee. It also appears in the adj. y-sene (A.S. gesēne), which has often been mistaken for a pp. But the pp. of see is y-seyn or y-seye.
§ 90. Seven Conjugations of strong verbs. Strong verbs usually exhibit a vowel-change (gradation) in the stem, as in the mod. E. sing, sang, sung.
There are seven conjugations, corresponding to the types of the verbs drive, choose, drink, bear, give, shake, fall. See Sievers, A.S. Grammar.
The 'principal parts' of strong verbs are (a) the infinitive (which has the primary grade); (b) the past tense singular (which has the middle grade); (c) the past tense plural (which in A.S. usually differs, as to its vowel, from the singular); and (d) the pp. In strict grammar, the 2 p. s. of the pt. t. has the same vowel as the pp. Thus biginne has the pp. bigonnen, and the 2 p. s. pt. t. is bigonne, thou didst begin, without any final -st.
1. Infin. dryven (driivən); Pt. s. dròòf, dròf (draof); Pt. pl. driven (drivən); Pp. driven (drivən).
Thus the characteristic vowels are: y (ii); òò (ao); i; i. So are conjugated abyden or abyde, agryse, aryse, byde, byte, glyde, ryde, ryse, ryve, shyne, shryve, slyde, smyte, (be)stryde, stryke, thryve, wryte, wrythe. Chaucer also treats stryve as a strong verb, though it was originally weak; with pt. t. stròòf, pp. striven. To this conjugation belongs wryen, to hide, put for wrīhen; hence the pp. would be wrĭh-en, which appears in Chaucer as wryen.
2. Infin. chēsen (cheezən); Pt. s. chèès (chaes); Pt. pl. chōsen (chao·zən); Pp. chōsen (chao·zən).
Here the vowel of the pp. has been lengthened, and the vowel of the pt. pl. assimilated to that of the pp. So are conjugated: bēden, to offer; brewen or brewe (pt. t. brew), cleve, to slit, crepe, flee (pt. t. fleigh, fley), flete, to float, flye, to fly (pt. t. fleigh, fley, pl. and pp. flowen), lese, to lose (pp. loren, lorn), lye, to tell lies, sethe, to boil (pt. t. sèèth, pp. sŏden), shete, to shoot (pp. shŏten).
Here belong a few verbs with ou (uu) in the infinitive; as brouke, shouven, to shove (pt. t. shòòf, pp. shŏven). Also the pp. lŏken, as if from louken.
3. In this class there are two sets: (a) verbs in which the radical e is preserved, as swelle; (b) those in which e becomes i before m or n, as drinke.
(a) Infin. swellen; Pt. s. swal; Pt. pl. swollen; Pp. swollen. So are conjugated: bresten or breste, delve, fighte (originally feghte; pt. s. faught, pt. pl. and pp. foughten), helpe, kerve, melte, sterve, thresshe, yelde, yelpe. Here belongs worthen (originally werthe); the pt. t. and pp. do not occur. Abreyde was also originally a strong verb, and Chaucer twice uses the pt. t. abrayd or abreyd, riming with the pp. sayd or seyd; but it was easily confused with weak verbs that made the pt. t. in -de, and in all other places appears as a weak verb. It was already obsolescent.
(b) Infin. drinken; Pt. s. drank; Pt. pl. dronken (drung·kən); Pp. dronken (drung·kən).
So are conjugated: biginnen or biginne, binde, climbe (pt. s. clomb), finde (pt. s. fond, pt. pl. and pp. founden), ginne, grinde (pp. grounden), ringe, renne ( = rinne), shrinke, singe (pt. s. song), sinke, slinge (pt. slong), spinne, springe (pt. s. sprong), stinge (pt. s. stong), stinke, swimme, swinke, thringe (pt. s. throng), winde (pt. s. wond, pp. wounden), winne, wringe (pt. s. wrong).
4. Infin. beren; Pt. s. bar (also ber, beer); Pt. pl. bēren; Pp. boren, bore, born. Confused in M.E. with conj. 5. So also: breken or breke, shere, speke, stele, tere (cf. pt. s. to-tar), trede, wreke. Here belongs pt. s. nam, pp. nomen, as if from an infin. nemen, which became nimen. Also come, pt. s. cam (also coom), pt. pl. camen (also cōmen), pp. comen (kum·ən).
5. Infin. yeven, yeve, and frequently yive; Pt. s. yaf; Pt. pl. yaven (more correctly yēven); Pp. yeven, and frequently yiven. Here belong eten or ete (pt. s. eet, pp. eten), forgete, gete, mete, to mete, steke (pt. s. stak), weve (pt. s. waf, pp. woven); also bidde, sitte (pt. s. sat, seet, pt. pl. sēten), ligge or lye (pt. s. lay, pt. pl. layen). Here belongs quethen, to say, which only appears in the pt. s. quoth or quod. Also seen, to see, pp. y-seyn, y-seye, with various forms of the pt. s., as seigh, sey, say, sy, saugh, saw. The verbs speke, trede, wreke, have gone over to conj. 4; and the same might be said of weve.
6. Infin. shaken; Pt. t. shóók; Pt. pl. shooken; Pp. shaken, shake.
So also: awake (pt. s. also awaked), bake, drawe (pt. s. drow), fare, forsake, gnawe (pt. s. gnow), grave, laughe (pt. s. lough), shape, shave, stande (pt. s. stood, pp. stonden), stapen (pp. stapen in MS. E., which is more correct than stopen in other MSS.), take, wake, wasshe (pt. s. wessh, wissh), waxe (pt. s. wex, pp. woxen instead of waxen). Here also belong heve (pt. s. heef, haf); sleen or slee, slay (pt. s. slow, slough, pp. slawe, slayn); swere (pt. s. swoor, pp. sworen, sworn). Also quake, originally a weak verb, of which Chaucer has the pt. s. quóók. Conversely, the pt. s. of fare is weak, viz. ferde.
7. Infin. fallen; Pt. s. fel (also fil); Pt. pl. fellen (also fillen); Pp. fallen. This conjugation originally made the pt. t. by duplication, and the root-vowel varies. But the vowel of the pp. agrees with that of the infinitive, and the vowel of the pt. t. is the same in the singular and plural. Here belong biholde, pt. s. bihēld; holde, pt. s. heeld; honge, hange, pt. s. heeng, heng; bete, pt. s. beet; hewe; lete, late, pt. s. leet, pp. leten, laten; slepe, pt. s. sleep; blowe, pt. s. blew; crowe, pt. s. crew; growe, pt. s. grew; knowe, pt. s. knew; sowe; throwe, pt. s. threw; lepe (laepə, lèèpə), pt. s. leep (léép); wepe (wéépə), pt. s. weep (wéép).
Besides holde, biholde, we also find the curious infinitives helde, behelde.
Here belongs hote, to command, promise, pt. s. heet, hight (from A.S. hēht), pp. hoten. Closely connected with this is the form hatte (A.S. hātte, Gothic haitada), with the passive sense 'is named,' or 'is called'; variant forms being hette, highte, the latter due to some confusion with the strong pt. s. hight, mentioned above. Hence hatte, hette, highte were also used with the past sense 'was named' or 'was called.' In Chaucer's time these forms and senses were much confused, so that we actually find hight with the sense 'was named'; and conversely, highte with the sense 'promised.' And further, we find the pp. hoten with the sense 'called,' and the pp. hight with the sense 'promised.' See, in the Glossary, Hote, Bihote, Bihete, Bihighte.
Here also belongs goon, gon, go, to go; pp. goon, gon. The pt. t. is supplied by wente or yede.
§ 91. Formation of Weak Verbs.
In the case of weak verbs, which include a large number of verbs of Anglo-French origin, much depends upon the form and even upon the length of the stem. The standard suffix for the pt. t. is -de, and for the pp., -d; but this necessarily becomes -te (pp. -t) after a voiceless consonant and in some other cases, especially after l and gh. A third variety of form is caused by the frequent occurrence of -e- before the final -de or -d, due, usually, to the form of the infinitive mood; and, in long words especially, the form -ede is frequently reduced to -ed. This short explanation applies, practically, to all weak verbs.
Infinitives in -ien, -ie. The A.S. infin. in -ian became -ien, -ie in M.E., and was frequently reduced to -e. Ex. A.S. lufian, later lovien; in Chaucer only loven, love, though a trace of the i remains in the derived word lovyere, A 80. These are the verbs which make the pt. t. in -e-de, the -e- being due to the formative suffix -i-, which is actually preserved in the pp. ber-i-ed, her-i-ed. Hence Chaucer uses the pt. t. dwell-ed, short for dwell-e-de; but he also uses the syncopated form dwel-te, where d has become t after l. We can only understand these weak verbs by help of the etymology, so that it is unnecessary to enlarge upon the subject.
A form such as lovede was liable to syncope, which means, practically, that the word was frequently pronounced (luv·də) or (luv·ed); it mattered little which was chosen. Before a vowel, the final -e could suffer elision, which reduced the form to lov'd' (luvd).
This explains the scansion of many lines. Thus, in A 1196, it does not matter whether we say (luv·də) or (luv·ed); but in A 1197, 1198, the only possible form is (luv·d).
§ 92. Three classes of weak verbs. We may distribute the weak verbs into three classes; the types being, respectively, loven, heren, to hear, and tellen.
1. Infin. lov-en, lov-e; pt. t. lov-ëde, lov-ëd, lov-(e)de; pp. lovëd, lov(e)d. The pt. t. pl. sometimes adds -n. Past tenses in which the full form in -ede occurs are not common, on account of the tendency to shorten the word. We find lakk-ede, wedd-ede, ned-ede, in full, and the plurals lok-eden, knokk-eden, yell-eden; and even aqueynt-eden, from a word of French origin. Liv-eden in D 1877 is really liv'den. The second e is dropped in ax-ed, folw-ed, lok-ed, long-ed, &c. As an example of the convenience of a double form, observe the pt. s. espy-ed riming with the pp. all-yed, B 3718; and the pt. pl. subj. espy-de riming with tyde, L. 771.
Here belong answere, pt. t. answer-de; make, pt. t. mak-ed, ma-de (for mak-e-de), an extreme example of syncope, pp. mak-ed, maad, mād; clepe, pt. t. clep-ed, clep-te; pley-en, pt. t. pley-de, &c. Also some in which the stem has suffered some alteration, as twicche, pt. t. twigh-te; picche, pt. t. pigh-te; prike, pt. t. prigh-te; reve, pt. t. ref-te, raf-te, pp. raf-t; clothe, pt. t. cladde, cledde, pp. cloth-ed, clad, and even cled; syke, to sigh, pt. s. syk-ed, sigh-te.
Note. The second person of the past tense takes the suffix -st, as in lovedest, contrary to the habit of the strong verbs. An anomalous form occurs in thou made, instead of thou madest.
2. Pt. t. hēr-en, hēr-e, to hear; Pt. s. hĕr-de, Pp. hĕr-d. The vowel is shortened in the pt. s. and pp. before the two consonants. Here belong verbs ending in -an in A.S., which almost invariably exhibit a mutated vowel in the infinitive mood; cf. A.S. sendan, Goth, sandjan.
Here belong: blende, pt. blente; fēde, pt. fedde; fēle, pt. felte; fille, pt. filde; grēte, to greet, pt. grette; hente, pt. hente; hyde, pt. hidde, pp. hid, Kentish hed; kepe, pt. kepte; kisse, pt. kiste, Kentish keste; lede, pt. ledde, ladde; mene, to mean, pt. mente, mēte, to meet, pt. mette; rende, pt. rente; sende, pt. sende, sente; sette, pt. sette; sprēde, pt. spradde; swete, pt. swatte; wende, to go, pt. wente; wēne, to imagine, pt. wende. So also, dēmen, to deem, sēmen, to seem, which should make the pt. tenses demde, semde; but, as these forms seemed awkward, they became demed, semed.
So also lēve, to leave, pt. lefte, lafte; kythe, to make known, pt. kid-de, pp. kid or kythed.
The old combinations enct, engd, became M.E. eynt, eynd. Hence we have blenche, pt. bleynte; drenche, pt. dreynte; quenche, pt. queynte; also the pp. forms y-meynd, seynd, y-spreynd, as if from the infin. menge, senge, sprenge.
3. Infin. tell-en, tell-e; Pt. s. tol-de; Pp. tol-d.
Here tol-de is for an O. Mercian tal-de (A.S. teal-de), from a stem TAL. The infin. shews mutation. The chief key to verbs of this class is to remember that the pt. t. depends upon the original form of the stem, whilst the infin. exhibits mutation; i.e. the pt. t. stem is more original than the present. An old ct becomes ht in A.S., and ght in M.E.
Here belong: leye, also leggen, to lay, pt. layde, leyde; recche, to reck, pt. roghte, roughte; seye, pt. seide, saide; sēke, pt. soghte, soughte; selle, pt. solde; strecche, pt. straughte. Also bye, Kentish begge (in the comp. abegge), to buy, pt. boghte, boughte; werche, to work, pt. wroghte, wroughte (by metathesis for worghte). In a few words a radical n has disappeared before h (M.E. gh) in the past tense: as in bringe, pt. broghte, broughte; thinke, to seem, pt. thoughte (thuuhtə); thenke, to think, pt. thoghte, thoughte (thaohtə, thòuhtə).
Rēche, to reach, tēche, to teach, properly belong to conj. 2; but their past tenses became raughte, taughte, so that they seem to belong here.
The preceding examples give most of the more important weak verbs; others can be found in the Glossary.
Verbs of French origin seldom take -ede in the pt. t., as in the case of aqueyntede; the usual suffix is -ed or -de, or both; as crye, to cry, pt. cry-ed, cry-de; espye, pt. espy-ed, espy-de.
The pp. results from the pt. t. by omitting final -e; if the pt. t. ends in -ed, the pp. coincides with it.
Note. Some verbs have both strong and weak forms; thus abreyde has the str. pt. t. abrayd, and the weak pt. t. abrayde. More striking examples occur in crēpe, to creep, pt. creep, crepte, pp. cropen; slēpe, to sleep, pt. t. sleep and slepte; wepe, to weep, pt. t. weep and wepte. Drede, rede, once strong verbs, are weak in Chaucer; pt. t. dredde, dradde, redde, radde. Cleve, to cleave, has the weak pt. t. clefte, and the strong pp. cloven. Broided is a curious substitution for broiden, the true pp. of breyde (A.S. bregdan). Werien, to wear, is a weak verb of the 1st class; hence the true pt. t. is werede, wered, as in Chaucer. The mod. E. wore is a new formation.
§ 93. Some other verbs. Haven, have, han, to have; pt. t. hadde, also hade; pp. had. A weak verb; often used as auxiliary.
Doon, don, to do. Pres. indic. 1. do, 2. doost, 3. dooth or doth; pl. doon, don. Pres. subj. do; pl. doon, don. Imper. do; pl. dooth, doth. Pp. doon, don. Pt. t. dide (weak). Gerund, to done.
Goon, gon, go, to go. Pres. indic. 1. go, 2. goost or gōst, 3. gooth or gōth, also geeth and gas (Northern); pl. goon, gon, go. Imper. go; pl. gooth. Pp. goon, gon, go; also geen (Northern). The pt. t. is supplied by yede or wente.
Wol, I will. Pres. indic. 1. wol (wil, also written wole); 2. wolt, wilt; 3. wol (also written wole), wil; pl. wollen, woln, wole, wol. Pt. wolde. Pp. wold.
The verb substantive. Infin. been, ben, be. Pres. indic. 1. am, 2. art, 3. is; pl. been, ben, be, beth, rarely aren, are. Pres. subj. be; pl. been, be. Imp. be; pl. beeth, beth. Pp. been, ben, be. Gerund, to bene. Pt. t. 1. was, 2. were, 3. was; pl. weren, were, wer. Pt. t. subj.; were; pl. weren, were.
Anomalous Verbs (Praeterito-praesentia).
Can. Pres. indic. 1. can, 2. canst, 3. can; pl. connen, conne, sometimes can. Pres. subj. conne; pl. connen, conne. Infin. conne. Pt. t. coude, couthe, could, knew. Pp. coud, couth.
Dar. Pres. indic. 1. dar, 2. darst, 3. dar; pl. dar. Pt. t. dorste, durste. Gerund, to durre.
May. Pres. indic. 1. may, 2. mayst, 3. may; pl. mowen, mowe. Pres. subj. mowe, mow. Pt. t. mighte. Infin. mowen.
Moot. Pres. indic. 1. moot (mōt), 2. most, 3. moot (mōt); pl. moten, mote. Pres. subj. mote (but often written moot or mot). Pt. t. moste.
Ow. Pres. indic. 1. ow (?), 2. owest, 3. oweth; pl. owen. Pt. t. oghte, oughte.
Shal. Pres. indic. 1. shal, 2. shalt, 3. shal; pl. shullen, shuln, shul (or shal). Pt. t. sholde, shulde.
Thar. Pres. indic. thar, impersonal. Pt. t. thurfte, hurte, impersonal.
Woot. Pres. indic. 1. wòòt (wot), 2. wòòst (wost), 3. wòòt (wot); pl. witen, wite, also woot (incorrectly). Pres. subj. wite. Infin. witen, wite; also weten. Pt. t. wiste. Pp. wist.
§ 94. Negative forms. Ne, not, is prefixed to some verbal forms, and coalesces with them.
Ex. nam, for ne am; nart, for ne art; nis, for ne is; nas, for ne was; nere, for ne were. Nadde, ne hadde; nadstow, ne haddest thou; nath, ne hath. Nil, ne wil; niltow, ne wilt thou; nolde, ne wolde. Noot, ne woot; niste, ne wiste. We even find nacheveth written for ne acheveth; &c. Cf. nof, for ne of; nin for ne in.
§ 95. Adverbs.
Some adverbs are formed by adding -e to the adjectival form; as dēp-e, deeply, from deep, A 129; loud-e, loudly, from loud, A 714. Hence, beside the usual forms heer, here, ther, there, wher, where, eek, eke, we find the anomalous forms her-e, ther-e, wher-e, ek-e; which we should hardly expect. So also moste, E 1714, F 1622, as well as most; probably because the word the precedes, which suggested the definite adjectival form, though the word is really used adverbially. Other double forms are thanne, than, then; whanne, whan, when. Amongst other forms in -e may be mentioned: asyde, atwinne, bihinde, bisyde, bothe, nouthe, ofte, selde, sone. Remarkable forms are ther-fore, wher-fore (see Stratmann). Some forms result from loss of n, as aboute from abouten; so also above, bifore (also biforn), henne, inne, withoute; cf. binethen, sithen.
Many adverbs are characterised by the suffix -es; as agates, amiddes, amonges, bisydes, bitymes, elles, nedes, togidres, unnethes. So also hennes, thennes, whennes; ones, twyes, thryes. The gen. suffix -es appears clearly in his thankes, A 1626.
Some adverbs have an internal -e-, which is not found in A.S., as in bold-e-ly, A.S. bealdlīce; and this -e- counts as a syllable. So also nedely, D 968 (but nēd(e)lý in B 4434); softely, E 323; trewely, A 773. So also semely, rudeliche.
Other noteworthy adverbs are: bet, better; fer, far, comparative ferre; negh, nigh, neer, ner, nearer; leng, lenger, longer; mo, more; more, more; uppe, up.
§ 96. Prepositions and Conjunctions.
These are given in the Glossary. We may note the occasional use of the form til (usually Northern) for to, chiefly before a vowel. Also the use of ne ... ne for neither ... nor; other ... other, either ... or; what ... what, partly ... partly; what for ... and, both for ... and; what with ... and, both by ... and.
§ 97. Constructions. Amongst unusual constructions we may particularly note the position of with, when used adverbially. In such a case, it is immediately subjoined to the verb, instead of being separated from it as in mod. E. Ex. 'to shorte with your weye,' to shorten your way with, A 791; 'to helen with this hauk,' to heal this hawk with, F 641.
Another remarkable construction is seen in such a phrase as 'The kinges meting Pharao,' the dream of king Pharaoh; see note to F 209.
At the beginning of a sentence ther frequently means 'where'; it makes all the difference to the sense.
§ 98. Versification.
The structure of English versification has been much obscured by the use of classical terms in senses for which they are ill-adapted, and by artificial and wooden systems of prosody which obscure the natural pronunciation of sentences. In order to prevent all obscurity, the terms employed shall be carefully defined.
Strong and weak syllables. An accented syllable is strong, An unaccented syllable is weak. A syllable that bears a secondary or a slight emphasis is half-strong. A very weak or slightly pronounced syllable is light.
Examples. In the words light, alight, lighter, the syllable light is, in each case, 'strong'; the syllables a- and -er are 'weak.' Chaucer sometimes uses such a word as light-e, in which the final -e may constitute a syllable of the verse, in which case it is 'weak'; or it may be elided or nearly elided before a vowel, in which case it may conveniently be described as being 'light.' In such a word as cónqueròr, there are really two accents. The true 'strong' accent is now on the first syllable; the 'half-strong' or secondary accent is on the third syllable; and it is not unusual to denote this by the use of an acute accent for the strong, and grave accent for the half-strong syllable.
§ 99. Three Latin terms. A word such as alight is often described as constituting an 'iambus' or 'iamb'; and I shall sometimes here use this term, but under protest. An iambus is properly a short syllable followed by a long one; whereas the English iamb is a weak syllable followed by a strong one, which is a very different thing. The confusion between length in Latin verses and strength in English verses is pernicious, and has greatly misled many writers on metre; for the difference between them is fundamental.
In the same way, such a word as lighter may be called a 'trochee'; but it must never be forgotten that, in English poetry, it means a strong syllable followed by a weak one, and is independent of the notion of 'length.'
Similarly, such a word as alighted, in which a strong syllable is situated between two weak ones, may be called an 'amphibrach.' The amphibrach plays a highly important part in English verse, though it is usual not to mention it at all. I shall use these three terms, iamb, trochee, and amphibrach, only occasionally, and for the convenience of the names; it being now well understood that I merely mean such groups of strong and weak syllables as occur in the English words alight, lighter, and alighted.
Having thus explained that an 'iamb' has nothing to do with long and short syllables, I shall nevertheless use, to denote it, the ordinary symbol . Similarly, the symbol means a trochee; and the symbol means an amphibrach. It follows that here means, not a short, but a weak syllable; and here means, not a long, but a strong one. If this be remembered, all will be clear; but not otherwise.
§ 100. I shall attempt, first, to describe the versification of the lines in the Canterbury Tales; it will be easy to explain the shorter lines (of four accents) afterwards.
Speech-waves. In English, accent plays a very important part; and for this reason, we may consider English speech as consisting of a succession of utterances which form, as it were, speech-waves, in which each wave or jet of breath contains a strong syllable; and this strong syllable may either stand alone, or may be preceded or followed by a weak syllable, or may even be both preceded and followed by a weak syllable during the emission of the same jet of breath.
Thus each jet of breath, due to a slight impulse emitting inhaled air, may be denoted by , or by , or by , or by . That is, the words light, alight, lighted, alighted can all be produced in a single speech-wave. But if a word has two accents, it requires two impulses to utter it, and really contains two speech-waves. Such words are extremely common; as cónque-ròr, amál-gamàte, &c.; and many English words require three speech-waves, as insòl-ubíli-tỳ; or even four, as ìn-combùsti-bíli-tỳ.
§ 101. Here comes in the distinction between prose and verse. It is equally easy to describe the accentual structure of either; and it is readily perceived that, in prose, the speech-waves succeed each other so that there is, usually, no perceptible regularity in the distribution of strong and weak syllables; but, in verse, we expect them to be distributed in a manner sufficiently regular for the ear to recognise some law of recurrence, and to expect it.
An extremely regular line occurs in Goldsmith's Deserted Village:—
And-fóols, who-cáme to-scóff, remáined to-práy.
This obviously consists of five consecutive iambs, and may be denoted by: . Here the dot (.) is introduced to shew precisely where the natural pause in the voice, or the separation of the speech-waves, occurs.
It is usual, in books of prosody, to introduce a bar instead of a dot, and thus to break up the line into bits of equal length, and to exhibit the result as the Procrustean formula to which all lines of five accents should be reduced. There is little to be learnt from this wooden method, which amounts to little more than leaving the reader to find out the scansion for himself as he best may; for few lines really conform to it.
If, bidding adieu to this artificial system, we inquire into the way in which a good reader really articulates the lines, we find that he, following the poet, is so far from conforming to this uniform type of line, that he usually does his best to avoid it; and the more skilfully he does this, the more he is appreciated for his variety. Indeed, the number of possible variations is considerable, as Goldsmith may again teach us, if, instead of using a bar to denote the artificial pause, we use a dot to denote the natural and the actual one. Good examples occur in the following lines, all different in their effect. Observe that the hyphen is used to bring together words that are pronounced in a single speech-wave; for just as cónque.rór requires two jets of breath, it often happens that two words (one of them enclitic) can be uttered in one.
How-óften . háve-I . paús'd . on-év'ry . chárm,
The-shélter'd . cot . the-cúlti.vàted . fárm,
The-néver . faíling . bróok . the-búsy . míll.
These may be analysed as below.
These three lines are obviously different, and all differ from the line already quoted.
If, however, we now remove the dots, all four lines can be included in the same formula: . And this is what is really meant (or ought to be meant) by saying that Goldsmith's line consists of five iambic feet; the general type being called an iambic foot.
§ 102. As the use of dots, as above, is rather confusing, we might employ the usual bars instead; assigning to them natural instead of artificial positions. But it will be better, under the circumstances, to employ special types. I shall use to denote a strong syllable, and to denote a half-strong syllable. Then, if the weak syllable be denoted by a thin up-stroke or down-stroke, we have to denote an iamb; for a trochee; and for an amphibrach; and the four lines from Goldsmith may be thus scanned:—
|And-fools, who-came to-scoff, remained to-pray.|
|How-often have-I paused on-every charm,|
|The-sheltered cot, the culti.vated farm,|
|The never . failing brook, the-busy mill.|
In every case an upstroke is followed by a horizontal one, i.e. a weak syllable by a strong one, but the general effect is variable, and is easily caught by the eye. This method at once detects a real recurrence of a line cast in precisely the same mould. Thus the line—'For-talking age and-whispering lovers made' is to be scanned: and thus closely resembles the third of the above lines, being denoted by the same formula.
§ 103. When we come to apply a similar system of scansion to Chaucer, we find that he differs from Goldsmith in FOUR important particulars. This is because he followed, more immediately, the rules of verse as exhibited in the Old French metres. I quote the following from P. Toynbee's Specimens of Old French, p. liii:—
'In ten-syllabled lines [i.e. in lines of five accents] the pause or caesura is after the fourth syllable:—
Mors est Rollanz, | Deus en ad Panme es cielz.
At the caesura, and also at the end of the line, a feminine syllable [i.e. a weak or light additional syllable] is admissible, which does not count, even if it is not elided. It is thus possible to have no less than four different forms of ten-syllabled epic lines, all equally correct; viz.
(a) Plurent lur filz | lur frerës, lur nevulz.
(b) Encuntre terre | se pasment li plusur.
(c) A lur chevals | unt toleitës les selës.
(d) Cons fut de Romë | del mielz qui donc i erët.'
Here, in (b) and (d), there is an additional syllable at the caesura or middle pause; and, in (c) and (d) there is an additional syllable at the end of the line. Hence the number of syllables is, in (a), ten; in (b) and (c), eleven; and in (d) twelve. But the number of accents is the same in all, viz. five. It is therefore better to speak of these lines as containing five accents than to call them ten-syllabled lines.
All the above varieties are found in Chaucer; and we thus see TWO of the particulars in which he differs from Goldsmith, viz. (1) that he sometimes introduces an additional syllable at the end of the line; and (2) that he does the same after the caesura, or at what may (roughly) be called the end of the half-line.
§ 104. But the fact is that Old French verse admits of more licences than the above. It was also permissible for the poet (besides adding to the line at the end) to subtract from it at the beginning, viz. by omitting the first weak syllable at the beginning, or the first weak syllable in the second half-line; i.e. after the caesura. This accounts for TWO MORE particulars of variation from the modern line of Goldsmith.
The result is that the Old French verse absolutely exhibited no less than sixteen varieties; and the actual number of syllables varied from eight (the least) to twelve (the greatest number). Dr. Schipper gives the true scheme in his Englische Metrik, p. 440, as follows; where the number following each scheme expresses the number of syllables.
§ 105. Thus Chaucer had, unquestionably, sixteen forms of verse to choose from. It only remains to discover how many of these he actually employed.
The shortest answer is, that he freely accepted the principles of adding a syllable at the end of the line and at the end of the half-line. He also allowed himself to accept the principle of dropping the first syllable of the line. But he disliked forms 9, 11, 13, and 15, which introduce a most disagreeable jerk into the middle of the line, such as he very rarely allows.
§ 106. The general rules for the mode of reading Chaucer's lines have been given above (§ 67); and need not be here repeated.
I now subjoin some examples. In each case the prefixed number refers to one of the sixteen forms given in § 104; whilst the symbols following the lines give the natural method of scansion. Words joined by hyphens are pronounced in the same jet of breath. I may also note here that a trochee is sometimes substituted for an iamb, i.e. for ; especially at the beginning of a line, or of the latter half-line. The place of the caesura is denoted by a bar. A shorter down-stroke than usual signifies a light syllable, as defined in § 98. The following examples are from Group A of the Canterbury Tales:—
12. Whán-that Apríllë | with his-shóures sóte (1).
4. The-dróght' of-Márchë | hath-pérced tó the-róte.
1. Of-whích vertú | engéndred ís the-flóur (4).
3. Hath-ín the-Rám | his-hálfe cóurs y-rónne (8).
10. That-fró the-týme | thát he-fírst bigán (44).
2. Whan-théy were-wónne | and-ín the-Gréte Sée.
14. Ál bismót'red | wíth his-háber. geóun (76).
6. Thát no-drópe | ne-fíll' upón hir-brést (131).
7. Gínglen ín | a-whístling wínd as-clére (170).
16. Fór to-délen | wíth no-swích poráille (247).
5. Nóës flóod | com'-wálwing ás the-sée (3616).
We have here examples of many of the above forms, viz. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 12, 14, 16; sufficient to shew Chaucer's general conformity with his French models.
§ 107. But a very superficial examination of Chaucer's verse soon shews that he continually sets aside the rigid rule of the Old French prosody that regulated the position of the medial pause. His study of Italian soon shewed him a better way; for there is a great tendency to monotony in the French mode. Dante frequently includes three accents in the former part of his line, which gives much greater freedom to the verse. Thus l. 14 of the Divina Commedia is as follows:—
Consequently, we must allow the bar denoting the caesura to shift its position to a later place in the line, as in A 3; though we may still use Dr. Schipper's number, as above, to denote the general type of the line. That is, A 3 becomes:—
But this is not the only variety; for the mark denoting the caesura is actually inserted in the Ellesmere MS. with much care, and is seldom misplaced. This shews that some lines are divided much more unequally; so that, in fact, the former portion of the line may contain one accent only, or it may contain four; in addition to the above instances in which it contains two or three. I give examples from the Cant. Tales, Group A:—
In some places the Ellesmere MS. marks two pauses in a line, but we need only consider one of them as constituting the true caesura. Thus, in A 923, there is a mark after been and another after duchesse; the latter may be considered as subsidiary.
The occurrence of initial portions of a line containing one accent or four is comparatively rare; but the inclusion of three accents is very common.
§ 108. The addition of a weak syllable at the end of a line is easily explained. It is because, at this point, the poet is FREE; that is, the pause that naturally occurs there enables him to insert an additional syllable with ease. Shakespeare did not hesitate even to add two syllables there, if he was so minded; as in Rich. III. iii. 6. 9:—'Untainted, unexamin'd, free, at liberty.'
For a like reason, the medial pause likewise gives him freedom, and enables an additional syllable to be inserted with comparative ease. We may believe that, in old times, when poetry was recited by minstrels to large assemblies, the enunciation of it was slow and deliberate, and the pauses were longer than when we now read it to a friend or to ourselves. The importance attached to suffixes denoting inflexions tends to prove this. The minstrel's first business was to be understood. Many speakers speak too fast, and make too short pauses, till experience teaches them better.
Hence there is no need to elide a vowel at the caesura; it must therefore be sounded clearly. In A 2, the final -e in March-e should be fully pronounced.
The fact is made much clearer by observing such instances as the following, all from the Cant. Tales, Group B:—
In the same way, the inflexional final -e should be fully sounded in Group B, l. 102:—
So also in B 1178:—
Similar examples abound. Thus we should fully pronounce length-e, B 8; declar-e, B 1672; loud-e, B 1803; thought-e, B 1852; fynd-e, B 3112; raft-e, B 3288; hadd-e, B 3309; biraft-e, B 3404; son-e, B 3413; son-e, B 3593; shet-te, B 3615; wend-e, B 3637.
Notice some examples where the caesura necessarily preserves a final -e from elision, as in B 3989; where tal-e occurs before al. So also ensamp-le in B 3281. Similar instances are rather numerous.
§ 109. The student who has followed the explanation of Chaucer's scansion up to this point is now in a position to understand the whole mystery of additional syllables in other positions. According to the usual method of cutting up lines into 'feet,' such additional syllables make the line seem awkward; whereas, if properly handled, they are very acceptable.
Thus the line B 3385 used to be cut up after the following fashion—Which that | my fa | der in his | prosper | itee; and the third foot was called trisyllabic. Yet the truth is, that the syllable -der in fader really belongs to the former part of the line (for we cannot pause after fa-), and therefore belongs to the 'second foot'; and it would have been better to cut up the line accordingly. But the whole system of chopping up into imaginary equal lengths is inefficient and clumsy; and we have only to adopt a natural accentuation. Thus, in B 3368 (just below), the final -y in many causes no real difficulty, though it adds a syllable to the line:—
So again, in B 3105, the final -es in ell-es is easily sounded:—
Compare Sir Thopas, B 2097:—
The poet's chief business, in such a case, is to see to it, that the syllable thus inserted shall be a light one, in order to prevent the line from becoming clogged. Chaucer is very particular about this; and we shall find that he almost invariably employs, in such a position, such light syllables as these; viz. -e before a consonant, and -ed, -el, -en, -er, -es, often before a vowel. This is a matter which requires a good ear and skilful care; which he certainly possessed. Even at the caesura, it will be found that he usually inserts only light syllables of this character, and the effect is extremely good. A beautiful example occurs in A 2144:—
We may also compare B 1659:—
Also D 334:—
§ 110. We have now to consider the possibility, that Chaucer sometimes dropped the initial syllable of the latter part of a line, after the caesura; a licence of which Lydgate availed himself to a painful extent. It is clear that his ear disliked it; yet there seem to be just a few cases that cannot fairly be explained away, the MSS. being sadly unanimous. It is better to learn the truth than to suppress what we should ourselves dislike. One example occurs in E 1682:—
The two worst MSS. alter doon to don-e, which is impossible. The rest agree.
Another occurs in B 2141:—
Four MSS. have a tag after the k in Mark; hence I have printed Mark-e. But I fear it can hardly be justified.
Lines B 3384, 3535 are unsatisfactory. Line E 2240, which is obviously incomplete, is easily mended.
§ 111. Accentuation. The above sections explain most of the more difficult points in the scansion of Chaucer, and should enable the student to scan most of the lines. But it is necessary to add a few words as regards his system of accentuation, elision, contraction, and other noteworthy points.
Accent. Most words of native origin are to be accented as in modern English; as fáder, wrýting, hólier, plówman, úpright, arýsen, almíghty, misháp. In words like séemlièste, oútrydère, the secondary accent was stronger than at present, especially when the final -e was sounded.
But many compound words, and some others, have a variable accent, being also used with an accent on a later syllable than in modern English; as, answére, forhéed, upríght, manhóod, windówe, gladnésse, goddésse, wrytíng, bodý. This usage is frequent, and must always be borne in mind.
Words of French origin commonly have their accent on a later syllable than at present; as victórie, honóur, pitée, vertú, mirácle, natúre, manére, contrárie, ìmpossíble, àcceptáble, dèceyváble; and even advócat, dèsiróus. Such accents are usually due to the etymology; cf. Lat. uertútem, natúra.
But as the English method inclined towards throwing the accent further back, such words were peculiarly liable to receive an English accent; hence we also find hónour, pítee, vértu, náture, mánere; and, in general, the English habit has so prevailed in modern speech, that the original accentuation of these words has been lost. It must evidently be restored, for the purpose of reading Chaucer aright.
This change of accent even affected the number of syllables. Thus manérë is trisyllabic, but mánere is dissyllabic. In the latter case the scribes frequently write maner; but are not consistent in this. Hence the fact has to be remembered.
Words now ending in -ion end, in Chaucer, in -i-òun, which is dissyllabic, with a secondary accent on -oun. Cases in which the suffix -ioun is melted, as it were, into one syllable, are very rare; however, we find condícion for condici-oun in B 99; and religioun in G 427 is really relígion. As this agrees with the modern method, it is readily understood.
§ 112. Elision. The general rules for elision and the slurring of light syllables are given above, in § 67. For examples of elision of final -e, see droght', A 2; couth', A 14; nyn', A 24; áventur', A 25; tym', A 35; Alisaundr', A 51; Gernad', A 56; nóbl', A 60; mek', A 69; lat', A 77; whyt', A 90; long', A 93; sitt', A 94; Iust', A 96; purtréy', A 96; coud', A 106.
We must here particularly note the article the, which is very often elided before a word beginning with a vowel or mute h. Hence the scribes frequently write theffect for the effect, tharray, thonour for the honóur, and so on. Even if they write the effect as two words, we must often read them as one. In one case, we even find the thus treated before an aspirated h, as in th'harneys, A 2896; however, harneys is, after all, of French origin.
Much more curious is the similar treatment of the pronoun thee; as in thalighte for thee alighte, B 1660. Also, of the pronoun me; as in dó m'endyte, G 32; see M' in the Glossary, p. 157.
Ne is usually elided; cf. nis, nam, nat, nin, nof, &c., in the Glossary; but not in A 631, 3110.
Even unaccented o can be elided; in fact, it is very common in the case of the word to; so that the scribes often write tabyde for to abyde, and the like. This vowel is easily run on to another, as in Italian poetry, without counting as a syllable; as in So estátly, A 281; cf. Placébo answérde, E 1520.
§ 113. The vowel i blends so easily with a following vowel that we feel no surprise at finding fúrial used, practically, as a dissyllable (F 448); merídionàl treated as if it had but four syllables (F 263); and spéciallỳ as if it had but three (A 15). A similar slurring is easily perceived with regard to the o in ámorouslỳ (E 1680) and the u in náturellỳ (B 298). The reader of English poetry must be quite familiar with similar usages. Vál-er-yán, instead of Valérian, in G 350, is a little forced. In many cases of difficulty, the accent is marked in the Glossary.
§ 114. Suppression of syllables. We find, not only in Chaucer, but elsewhere, that light or very weak syllables do not always count for the scansion; so that, whilst, on the one hand, we can read Cáunterbùry as four syllables, with a secondary accent on u (as in A 27), there is no difficulty in pronouncing it, as many do, as if it were Cáunterb'rỳ, with the secondary accent on the y (as in A 16, A 22). It seems hardly necessary to enlarge upon this part of the subject; it is sufficient to say that mere counting of syllables will not explain the scansion of English poetry. Accent reigns supreme, and the strong syllables overpower the weak ones, even to the extent of suppressing them altogether.
A few common words may be noted, in which the final -e is usually suppressed, and often not written. Such are hire, here, her; oure, youre, myne, thyne; swiche, whiche, eche; were; here, there; have, hadde; wolde, sholde (less frequently); and some others. Even here accent still plays its part. If here, her, is emphatic, as at the end of a line, it is dissyllabic; see Here in the Glossary. If hadde is emphatic, meaning 'he possessed,' it is usually dissyllabic; we even find had-dë he (A 298, 386).
Thise (dhiiz) is written as the pl. of this; but is always monosyllabic. Similarly, the Ellesmere MS. usually has hise (hiiz) as the plural of the possessive pronoun his; but I have altered this to his, except in the prose pieces. The pl. of som is written some and somme, but is usually monosyllabic (sum).
A good example of the power of accent is in the phrase At thát tym', A 102; where tymë becomes enclitic, and loses its accent and its final -e.
In the endings -ed, -el, -en, -er, -es, as has been already noted, the e may be suppressed, when the final -l, -n, -r practically become vocalic.
But observe, that the e is also dropped, not unfrequently, even in -est, -eth; hence seyst for seyest, and the like. This requires care, because the final -eth is usually written in full, though seldom sounded. In A 1641, her-eth is dissyllabic, and so also is brek-eth in 1642; but in 1643, we have think'th for thinketh, and com'th for cometh. This is the more remarkable, because it is contrary to modern usage; but note the old habit of contracting the third person singular; as in rit for rydeth.
Note the dissyllabic bánish'd in A 1725, with the accent on the first syllable; as contrasted with the trisyllabic desérv-ed in A 1726, with the accent on the second.
§ 115. Contraction. Certain contractions need special notice. This is was pronounced as one word, and often written this. Whether written this or this is, the sense is the same, but the usual pronunciation was this (dhis); see A 1091, E 56, &c.
Whether is usually cut down to whe'r, and is frequently written wher.
Benedicite once occurs as a word of five syllables, where Theseus drawls it out to express his wonder, A 1785. where else (I believe) it is ben'cite, in three syllables only. So also By'r for by our, Book Duch. 544; A godd's halfe, id. 370.
The phrase I ne at the beginning of a line was very rapidly pronounced, almost as I n' (iin); as in I n' saugh, A 764; I n' seye, B 1139; so also Me n' (meen) for Me ne, Pitee, 105 (see the note).
§ 116. For further details, see Ten Brink's work on Chaucers Sprache und Verskunst. It may be as well to say that he has remarkably failed to understand the effect of the caesura, and is much troubled by the occurrence there of extra syllables. Yet this was the necessary result of Chaucer's copying French models.
The explanation is simple. The caesura implies a pause. But elision can only take place where there is NO pause. Hence the caesural pause ALWAYS prevents elision. Hence, also, there is often a redundant syllable here, just as there is at the end of the line. This is a lesson which the student should learn at once; it is easily verified.
I am aware that this lesson is difficult, being opposed to modern ideas; and it will be long before some readers will come to understand that the final e should be kept in the French word seg-e, A 56; in the pp. wonn-e, A 59; in the pp. y-com-e, A 77; in the pl. crull-e, A 81; and so on. It is true that Chaucer, in such cases, usually begins the latter part of the line with a vowel, for the sake of smoothness; but he does not do this invariably; see A 77. Much clearer examples occur in the following (A 84, 130, 184, 198, 224, 343, 491):—
And-wónder.lỳ delíver and-gréet of-stréngthe.
Wel-cóud' she-cárie | a-mórsel ànd wel-képe.
What-shóld' he-stúdie | and mák' him-sélven wóod.
His-héed was-bállëd | that-shóon as-ány glás.
Ther-ás he-wístë | to-hán a-góod pitáuncë.
Withóute bákë métë | was-név'r his-hóus.
Wýd-was his-párish' | and-hóuses fér asónder.
We have noted, however, that Chaucer varied from his French models in making the place of the caesura moveable; and the result was to bring the two portions of each line into closer relationship. Hence he takes great care to make his redundant syllables as light as possible; thus preparing the way for later authors, who came to regard a redundant syllable as a thing to be sparingly used. Moreover, when they did use it, inasmuch as the original value of the caesura was little known, they inserted such a redundant syllable in other positions; in order to avoid monotony.
§ 117. A discussion of the four-accent metre, as in The House of Fame, &c., need not occupy us long. The line is shorter, so that the middle pause is less necessary and of much less account. Hence redundant syllables at the caesura are rare. On the other hand, omission of the first syllable is much commoner. In all other respects the laws are the same.
Two examples of the loss of the initial syllable may suffice.
Examples of medial redundant syllables are these:—
I-nóot, but-whóso | of-thése mirácles (HF. 12).
In-stúdie | or-mèl.ancól.iòus (30).
And-whén she-wíste | that-hé was-fáls (393).
Til-thát he-félte | that-Í had-hétë (569).
Jóy' or-sórow' | wher-só hit-bé (BD. 10).
For-cértes swétë | I-nám but-déed (204).
To-slépë | that-ríght upón my-bóok (273).
That-hádd' y-fólow'd | and-cóud' no-góod (390).
Feminine or double rimes are very common. Thus, in HF. 531-546, we have eight such rimes in succession.
§ 118. Alliteration. As our oldest poetry was alliterative, alliteration has always been considered a permissible, and indeed a favourite, ornament of English verse. I shall only remark here that Chaucer affords excellent examples of it, and employs it with much skill. One well-known passage in the Knightes Tale (A 2601-16) has often been admired on this account. It is needless to cite more examples. The reader may consult the dissertation on 'The Alliteration of Chaucer,' by C.F. M‘Clumpha; Leipzig, n. d. (about 1886).
§ 119. Chaucer's Authorities. The question as to 'The Learning of Chaucer' is so fully discussed in the second volume of Lounsbury's Studies in Chaucer, that it is unnecessary to say much here upon this subject. The reader will find, in the 'Index of Authors Quoted or Referred to' given at p. 381 below, not only a fairly complete list of such authors, but a detailed enumeration of all the quotations which, with tolerable certainty, have been traced to their origin.
In particular, we cannot but be struck by his familiarity with the Vulgate version of the Bible. He quotes it, as may be seen, very nearly three hundred times, and his quotations refer to nearly all parts of it, including the apocryphal books of Tobit, Judith, Susannah, the Maccabees, and especially Ecclesiasticus. It is somewhat remarkable that the book of the Old Testament which is quoted most frequently is not, as we might expect, the Psalms, but the Book of Proverbs, which was a mine of sententious wealth to the medieval writers. The book of the New Testament which received most of his attention was the Gospel of St. Matthew.
As regards the languages in which Chaucer was skilled, we may first of all observe that, like his contemporaries, he was totally ignorant of Greek. There are some nine or ten quotations from Plato, three from Homer, two from Aristotle, and one from Euripides; but they are all taken at second-hand, through the medium of Boethius. The sole quotation from Herodotus in the Canterbury Tales is copied from Jerome.
On the other hand, Chaucer was remarkable for his knowledge of Italian, in which it does not appear that any other English writer of his period was at all skilled. His obligations to Boccaccio are well known; the Filostrato being the principal source of the long poem of Troilus, whilst the influence of the Teseide appears not only in the Knightes Tale, but in the Parliament of Foules, in Anelida, and (to the extent of five stanzas) in Troilus. We also find a few references, as Dr. Köppell has shewn, to Boccaccio's Amorosa Visione. With Dante's Divina Commedia he seems to have been especially familiar, as he quotes from all parts of it; we may note, however, that the greatest number of quotations is taken from the Inferno; whilst the only cantos of the Paradiso which he cites are the first, the fourteenth, the twenty-second, and the thirty-third. The poem which most bears the impress of Dante is The House of Fame; in the Canterbury Tales, the principal borrowings from that author appear in the story of Ugolino (in the Monkes Tale); in some of the stanzas of the Invocation at the beginning of the Second Nonnes Tale (one of which bears a remarkable resemblance to a stanza in the Prioresses Tale); and in the very express reference which occurs in the Wife of Bath's Tale (D 1125). Chaucer's sole quotation from the Italian works of Petrarch is in Troilus, where he translates the eighty-eighth Sonnet. It must not be forgotten, at the same time, that Chaucer was further indebted to Boccaccio's Latin works, entitled De Casibus Virorum Illustrium, De Genealogia Deorum, and De Mulieribus Claris. On the other hand, Prof. Lounsbury is perfectly justified in contending that 'there is not the slightest proof that Chaucer had a knowledge of the existence' of the Decameron. Reasonable carefulness will certainly shew that he was wholly ignorant of it; and the notion that Chaucer borrowed the general plan of his Tales from that of his Italian predecessor, is wholly baseless; the plans are, in fact, more remarkable for their divergence than for their similarity. The only apparent point of contact between Chaucer and the Decameron is in the Tale of Griselda; and in this case we know clearly that it was from Petrarch's Latin version, and not from the Italian, that the story was really derived.
With Anglo-French Chaucer may well have been familiar from an early age, so that the adaptation of the Man of Lawes Tale from the Chronicle by Nicholas Trivet could not have caused him much trouble. But he was also perfectly familiar with the French of the continent, and was under great obligations to Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun, and to Guillaume de Machault. He made translations of poems by Guillaume de Deguileville and Oto de Graunson. He was doubtless well acquainted with the writings of Froissart and of Eustace Deschamps. He also quotes from Jean de Vignay, and refers (once only) to the Alexandreid of Philippe Gautier de Chatillon. There is some reason to think that he consulted the Miracles de Notre Dame by Gautier de Coincy; see vol. v. 491. The Nun's Priest's Tale was derived, most likely, from the Roman de Renard, and not from Marie de France, who gives the tale in a briefer form. The Parson's Tale is from a French treatise by Frère Lorens. We may also well suppose that Chaucer had seen several of the old romances in a French form; such as the romances relating to Alexander, Arthur, Charlemagne, and Octovien; Sir Bevis, Sir Guy, Libeaus Desconus, Sir Tristram and Sir Percival; though he makes remarkably little use of such material. What was the extent of his knowledge of the Roman de Troie as written by Benoist de Sainte-More, it is not very easy to say; but he probably had read it. Several of the Canterbury Tales seem to have been derived from French Fabliaux or from Latin stories of a similar character. The Squieres Tale reminds us of the romance of Cleomades and of the Travels of Marco Polo.
But it is to Latin authors that Chaucer was, on the whole, most indebted for his quotations and illustrations; and especially to the authors of medieval times. Of the great poets of antiquity, he was not acquainted with many; but he read such as he could attain to with great diligence. His chief book was Ovid; and it is almost certain, from the freedom with which he quotes him, that he had a MS. copy of his own among his 'sixty bokes olde and newe' (Leg. G.W.; A. 273). He quotes from the Ars Amatoria, Amores, Epistolae ex Ponto, Fasti, Heroides, Metamorphoses, Remedia Amoris, and Tristia; so that he had read this author rather extensively. His next prime favourites were Vergil and Statius; and he knew something of Lucan and Claudian. We may be sure that his quotations from Horace and Juvenal were taken at second-hand; and that he had never read those authors himself. He glanced at the Prologue to the Satires of Persius, and he was acquainted with the first Elegy of Maximian. He seems to have seen a copy of Valerius Flaccus.
Of the older prose writers, he was best acquainted with the famous treatise by Boethius, and with the Somnium Scipionis of Cicero as preserved and commented on by Macrobius. He also quotes from other works by Cicero; from the work De Factis Memorabilibus by Valerius Maximus; and from some of the letters and treatises of Seneca. There is evidence of his acquaintance with Suetonius and Florus; and, possibly, with the Fables of Hyginus. I find no sure trace of his acquaintance with Orosius, or with the works of the elder Pliny. It is almost certain that he was unacquainted with Livy; the story of Lucretia is really from St. Augustine and Ovid; and that of Virginia, from Le Roman de la Rose.
As to the Latin fathers, we have the most ample evidence that Chaucer had very carefully studied the treatise of St. Jerome against Jovinian, which happens to include all that is known of the Liber Aureolus de Nuptiis by Theophrastus. How far he was really acquainted with the writings of St. Augustine and St. Bernard, we cannot very well discover. The quotations from St. Gregory, St. Basil, and others, in the Parson's Tale, are all given at second-hand.
The authors of later times whom Chaucer quotes or mentions are rather numerous; although, in many instances, he only quotes them at second-hand; as is (usually) pointed out in the Index. It may suffice to mention here some of the more important examples.
The life of St. Cecilia is from Jacobus de Voragine and Simeon Metaphrastes. The treatise by pope Innocent III. entitled De Contemptu Mundi, or otherwise, De Miseria Conditionis Humanae, was translated by our author into English verse; but only portions of it are preserved, viz. in the Man of Lawes Tale, and (adapted to the heroic measure) in the Pardoner's Tale. Alanus de Insulis wrote pieces entitled De Planctu Naturae, Anticlaudianus, and Liber Parabolarum; all of these are occasionally quoted or referred to, and the first of them clearly suggested the Parliament of Foules.
The Historia Troiae of Guido delle Colonne is made use of in Troilus and in the Legend of Good Women; and it is likely that Dares Phrygius and Dictys Cretensis were only known to Chaucer through the medium of Guido and of Benoist de Sainte-More. The Liber Consolationis et Consilii of Albertano of Brescia was most useful in supplying material for the Tale of Melibeus; which, however, was more immediately derived from the French version by Jean de Meun. Chaucer also knew something of the Liber de Amore Dei by the same author; and probably had read a third treatise of his, entitled De Arte Tacendi et Loquendi. Other books which drew his attention were the famous Gesta Romanorum; the Polycraticus of John of Salisbury; the Epistola Valerii ad Rufinum by Walter Map; the Liber Distichorum of Dionysius Cato, with the supplement entitled Facetus; and Albricus De Imaginibus Deorum. We also find casual allusions to the Aurora of Petrus de Riga; a poem by Martianus Capella; the Bestiary entitled Physiologus; the Burnellus of Nigellus Wireker; the Liber de Amore of Pamphilus Maurilianus; the Megacosmos of Bernardus Silvestris; the Nova Poetria of Geoffrey de Vinsauf; and the Speculum Historiale of Vincent of Beauvais. We need not include in the list authors such as Cassiodorus and Isidore of Seville, who are certainly quoted at second-hand. On the other hand, we must not forget the writers whom Chaucer consulted for special purposes, in connection with astrology and alchemy; such as, in the former case, Messahala, Ptolemy, Alchabitius, Almansor, Zael, and the aphorisms attributed to Hermes Trismegistus; and, in the latter case, the same Hermes, Jean de Meun, Arnoldus de Villa Nova, Senior Zadith, and others whose names do not expressly appear. Several authors are mentioned by name, with whose writings he was probably unacquainted; such as Alhazen, Averroes, Avicenna, Constantinus Afer, Dioscorides, Galen, Gatisden, Hippocrates, Rhasis, Rufus, and Vitellio; and we can see that some of these names were simply borrowed from Le Roman de la Rose. There is small reason to suppose that he knew more than the name of the huge work De Causa Dei by Thomas Bradwardine. As to Agathon, Corinnus, Lollius, and Zanzis, the suggestions already made in the notes upon the passages where these names occur contain, to the best of my belief, all that has hitherto been ascertained.
- There can be no harm in stating the simple fact, that a long and intimate acquaintance, extending over many years, with the habits and methods of the scribes of the fourteenth century, has made me almost as familiar with the usual spelling of that period as I am with that of modern English. It is little more trouble to me to write a passage of Chaucer from dictation than one from Tennyson. It takes me just a little longer, and that is all. In Fragments B and C of the Romaunt, many fifteenth-century spellings have been retained.
- See my paper on this subject, printed for the Chaucer Society. Prof. Herford has drawn attention to an unlucky misprint in vol. i. p. 80, where I speak of the pp. of the verb to see as y-seen. Of course I meant y-seyn; see the Glossarial Index. He further remarked, quite correctly, that Chaucer never employs the form seen or y-seen, nor ever rimes it with words in -een. Yet this very form, unknown to Chaucer, occurs thrice in Fragment B, viz. in ll. 3066, 4461, 5571; and in each case it rimes with been. This is a strong hint to those who can appreciate it. A highly characteristic word in Fragment B is dool, in the sense of 'grief'; so also is grete, to weep. But I have no space here to continue the argument. The form sloo, to slay, and other peculiarities suggest that the original dialect of Fragment B was not pure Northumbrian, but Lincolnshire or North East Midland.
- For example, l. 4690 of the Romaunt is called l. 4693 in Morris's edition; whilst Book IV of Troilus begins, in the same edition, in the wrong place.
- This is the real reason why it was necessary to retain the unauthorised order of the Groups introduced by Dr. Furnivall (see vol. iii. p. 434). To initiate yet another mode of reference would have caused much inconvenience.
- The following are some of the more remarkable blunders in the old text. 196. myscoueiting. 274. wo omitted; no sense. 379. er omitted; no sense. 442. ay (for shal). 444. grace (!); for face. 567. Two syllables short. 773. hem omitted. 1007. And for As was; no sense. 1018. wyntred; no such word. 1058. prile for prikke; there is no such word. 1089. durst; for thurte. 1187. sarlynysh (!). 1201. gousfaucoun (!). 1281. And she (!); for Youthe; corrected by Ten Brink. 1313. loreyes; no such word. 1334. Mere nonsense. 1369. Parys (!); for paradise. 1399. it omitted. 1447. garden (!); for yerde in. 1453. goodmesse (!); for good mes (see 3462). 1591. entrees (!); for estres. 1608. laughyng (!); for loving. 2285. Farce; for Fard. 2294. knowith (!); for lauhwith or laughith. 2301. pleyneth; for pleyeth. 2236. londes (!); for Loues. 2650. whider (!); for weder. 3337. cherisaunce; for chevisaunce. 3693-8. Though for Thought; rennyng for rewing; come for to me; the merest nonsense. 4322. wente aboute (!); for wende ha bought; (corrected by Kaluza). 4358. in omitted; no sense. 4366. charge; for change. 4372. MS. yone wole; Th. you wol; for yon wal. 4478. Imperfect. Many more errors, of less consequence, might be added to the list.
- Roundel 1 has sustene, kene, grene, quene, sene. In sustēne, the long e is close (Ten Brink, Chaucers Sprache, p. 48); the A.S. words are cēne, grēne, cwēn(e), gesēne, all with close e. Roundel 2 has lēne, bēne, mēne, clēne, all with A.S. ǣ or ēa. Also mēne, of French origin, with open ē; Ten Brink, p. 49.
- There is no such word as mena. Critics seem to think that In mena means 'in the middle'; but nothing can be more absurd than to decline a French adjective like a Latin one.
- The 'slips' on which the glossaries to these works were written were preserved, and have all been incorporated into the Glossarial Index in the present volume.
- Treatise on the Astrolabe; Prologue, l. 43 (vol. iii. p. 176).
- I have been courteously provided with proof-sheets from time to time; but my text of Troilus had already been prepared before I was able to make any real use of them.
- Chiefly prepared by Miss Gunning and Miss Wilkinson; with liberal additions by Mr. J. H. Hessels, who assisted me in the revision.
- The Glossaries to William of Palerne and Havelok were originally prepared by Sir F. Madden, and very well done. We also owe to the same editor a full and satisfactory glossary to Layamon.
- In A. 4172, thair occurs, in avowed imitation of the Northern dialect; yet in the line above we find hem instead of them.
- For references, see the Glossary.
- We even find the double form knittinge, knettinge in Boethius, where there are no rimes to influence the word-form.
- Cf. dint of thonder, HF. 534; but, as dint is not a riming word, it may be put for dent.
- Hence, in D 51, we should read senne (the Kentish form), to rime with brenne.
- Here the standard English thrust is really Southern. We also find thraste, C 260; but this is from A.S. thrǣstan.
- I also frequently employ (èè) for open long e; and (éé) for close long e, especially in the Glossary. It is also often usual to employ ę for the open e, and ǫ for the open o. Thus (ae) = (èè) = (ęę); and (ee) = (éé).
- It is well known that the mod. E. delight is falsely spelt. The M.E. is delyt (O.F. delit). It rimes with parfyt, appetyt, whyt (see Glossary); never with right or bright.
- When the Anglo-French scribes discarded the A.S. symbol æ, they had no certain symbol for the sound (æ) left. Hence, probably, the occasional use of the form thet, to denote the A.S. þæt.
- Dr. Sweet gives the sound (ai), as in G. mein. But he adds: 'The distinction between ai and ei, as in day and wey, was probably still kept up in Chaucer's pronunciation, but the two diphthongs were beginning to be confused, probably through the a of ai being modified nearly to the sound of our vowel in man.' However, the rimes prove that Chaucer never distinguishes between them at all; and I believe these diphthongs had been confused much earlier. The Anglo-French scribes could have known but little difference; since ai had already become F. open e in the later text of the Chanson de Roland. Again, Norse only exhibits ei, not ai, so that our raise was M.E. reise, also written raise (Icel. reisa). Very significant is Chaucer's rime of eyse with reyse, D 2101. Nearly everywhere else, the mod. E. 'ease' is spelt ese, eese; and the pronunciation was unquestionably (èè·zə) = (ae·zə), as it rimes with please and appease, words in which even the mod. E. spelling with ea shews that the long e was once open. It follows that reyse was (rei·zə) or even (rèè·zə); certainly not (rai·zə). So again, I should say that the statement that the a of ai was 'modified nearly to the sound of our vowel in man' might have been much more strongly asserted. In such a word as day, from A.S. dæg, the a was already (æ) at the first, and needed no modification at all. It was already spelt dei before A.D. 1200; see Specimens of O. English, ed. Morris, Pt. i. p. 20, l. 79.
- In sonne, the n is double; but not in sone.
- I use italic y for the consonantal sound of y in ye; because I use (y) for the vowel u in Iuge (jy·gə).
- I do not here distinguish between primary and secondary accents. For this distinction, see below (§ 98).
- Mod. E. to soar, O.F. essorer, Low Lat. *exaurare; so that the long open o is due to Lat. au.
- Store has the o from Lat. au; cf. instaurare. And radevore is from F. ras de Vaur, with o from au; correctly.
- I omit dore, door, riming with underspore; perhaps the o was here (u); cf. A.S. duru.
- Similarly, in Fragment A of the Romaunt, we find róte riming with swóte, 1025, 1661; and, on the other hand, thròtes riming with harlòtes, nòtes, 191, 507. By way of a glaring contrast, note the rime abood (abòòd) with wood (wóód) in Fragment B of the Romaunt, l. 3159.
- Theoretical forms are denoted, in philology, by a prefixed asterisk.
- An apparent exception occurs in A.S. cēace, Anglian cēce, M.E. chēke, mod. E. cheek; with unstable ē. Its ēa is unusual, and due to the preceding c. The Du. form kaak shews that its vowel really answers to Germanic ǣ, Goth. ē.
- As already noted above; p. xxiv.
- Spēre, with close long e, means 'sphere.' It makes all the difference to the sense as well as to the rime.
- Whatever test be applied to Fragment B of the Romaunt, the result is always the same, viz. always against its genuineness. Thus it has the rime clène, gréne, 2127; and actually séén, clèèn(!), 2921; clèn-e being always dissyllabic in Chaucer.
- Nede once occurs as need, riming with hèèd, head, B. Duch. 1253.
- For clear examples of a contrary practice, cf. the rimes gréne, clène, Compl. of the Blk. Knight, 125; Flower and the Leaf, 289; Rom. Rose (B), 2127; wéne, lène, Rom. Rose, 2683.
- There once rimes with dere, adj., Legend, 1870. See note 39 below.
- Were twice rimes with dere, adj., B. Duch. 773, Clk. Ta., E 882. See note 39 below.
- Dere usually has close e (A.S. dēore); but it also rimes with there, were; see notes 37, 38 above, and cf. A.S. dȳre.
- Or we may read Mercuri', mury', mari'd, tari'd, beri'd, to-scater'd, contráry', and so on.
- MSS. E. Hn. Ln. have Dauit, but it is a childish alteration; of course David is meant. Hl. Cp. Pt. have Dauid.
- Better written ones only three lines below; nothing is gained by making words rime to the eye.
- The frequent use of o for short u (cf. A.S. duru) by Anglo-French scribes is a source of some trouble to the student.
- See vol. i. p. 93, French text, ll. 1-4; p. 94, ll. 19, 33; p. 95, l. 44; &c.
- I only cite the pages; all in vol. ii.
- All of the alleged exceptions are easily explained by remembering that Gower habitually used Kentish forms. Thus the Kentish for minde is mende; it therefore rimes with ende, wende. The Kentish for pit is pet (still in use), which rimes with let, set. The Kentish for hilles is helles, which rimes with elles. Hid is Kent. hed, riming with fled. Sin is Kent. senne, riming with kenne. Lesseth (Gow. iii. 12) should be lisseth, gives relief; cf. iii. 82, l. 19. It does not appear that Gower is wrong in a single instance.
- Correctly printed hedde in Chalmers' British Poets, ii. 67. Pauli's edition is a sad snare.
- When writing in French, Gower rimes loisir with obeir; in Balade XXXIV (quoted by Warton).
- For is wente read his wente, i.e. his path. This is all that is needed to restore the sense. Wente is a sb., not a pp.
- It occurs in no MS. but F.; and the writing in F. (in this passage) is quite late, and of no authority.
- Quite 180, in my opinion, if not more; about 4 in every 100 lines. Surely a large percentage.
- Chatterton added two lines to Chaucer's stanza, one of the usual length, and the second an Alexandrine. This ten-line stanza occurs in his Battle of Hastings.
- Every student of Old French poetry of the fourteenth century must be aware that none of Machault's Balades (in Tarbé's edition) have envoys; and that a large number were written, without envoys, by Froissart, Eustache Deschamps, and Christine de Pisan. Besides, Chaucer introduces a Balade into his Legend of Good Women, which could not have had an Envoy, from the nature of the case; there was no one to address it to.
'Why will ye suffre than that I thus spille,
And for no maner gilt but my good wille?' vol. i. p. 364.
'For I am set on yow in swich manere
That, thogh ye never wil upon me rewe,' &c.; vol i. p. 363.
'So desespaired I am from alle blisse'; vol. i. p. 360.
- And yet again, but with repeated rimes, in his Womanly Noblesse; see vol. iv. p. xxv.
- The word virelai was taken to mean a lay with a veer or turn in it, owing to a false etymology. The original word was, however, vireli, and the true formula for it was very different. See P. Toynbee, Spec. of Old French, pp. lix. 301. Cf. Ballades, Rondeaus, &c., edited by Gleeson White, London, 1887; p. lxxvi.
- The references are, generally, to the Canterbury Tales; A 50 = Group A l. 50.
- The forms within parenthesis express the pronunciation, according to the symbols explained above. Cf. Ten Brink, Chaucers Sprache, § 256.
- The Glossary has purposely been made very full in order to save references here and elsewhere. Thus ende occurs, finally, in A 15; in the middle of B 481; also in A 197, where the final vowel is slight, but should just be sounded.
- Sometimes written -is.
- But never peyn for peyne, as in Rom. Rose, 2912, 3184, 3574, 3772, 4323, 4444, 4930; Flower and Leaf, 62.
- The prefix y- is not counted as a syllable in this case; y-shette is the same as shette.
- The Ellesmere MS. has hise as the plural form; but it is monosyllabic.
- In speaking to one person, thou and ye are frequently confounded. Hence in the imperative, the singular and plural forms are frequently confounded also.
- See the long list of 183 strong verbs, with an alphabetical index, in Morris's Specimens of English, Part I; Introduction, p. lxix.
- But amb, and, ang become omb, ond, ong; hence clomb, &c.
- Note the infin. answer-y, short for answer-i-en.
- The Glossary (s.v. Ben) gives 'Be, 1 pr. s. am, 3. 588.' This is an oversight; be is here the infinitive = 'to be.'
- 'The air that is supplied for the production of the voice-vibrations is capable of being used only in volumes or jets; or, if we attend to the force used in producing them, in pressures.... The law of monopressures, as it may be termed, is a law that operates, and must operate, in the process of articulation. Speech is possible only in monopressures.... One inhalation may suffice for several monopressures. One full breath may suffice, for one who is an expert in husbanding the vocal current, for 30, 60, or even 80 monopressures. Each of these, however, is a vocalised jet of air, condensed and made vocal by a separate effort of the will, just as each note, in a tune rapidly played on the pianoforte, is produced by a special touch, however slight.'—From Accent and Rhythm, explained by the law of Monopressures. Part I. Edinburgh, 1888; an anonymous work, which deserves to be better known.
- These symbols are somewhat varied from those employed by the author of 'Accent and Rhythm,' whom I have quoted in the last note (p. lxxxiv.). I owe to him the idea of using them.
- See, on this subject, the essay by M. Freudenberger, Ueber das Fehlen des Auftakts in Chaucers heroischem Verse; Erlangen and Leipzig, 1889. I may claim to have been the first to notice this peculiarity, viz. in the Aldine edition of Chaucer, by Dr. Morris, 1866; i. 174.
- On the other hand, Lydgate did not shrink from these unmelodious forms. We find form 13 in: 'Up he roos | maugre all' his foon'; Storie of Thebes, 1149; in Spec. of Engl. pt. III. ed. Skeat.
- More strictly, as marked in the Ellesmere MS., the caesura really falls
earlier, so that 'Ginglen' stands alone; see below, § 107.
- Ten Brink quotes many instances of elision, where there is no need for it; thus the -e in wonne (A 59) comes at the caesura, and should be kept.
- The e is very light; cf. mod. E. so stately.
- Cf. J'rúsalèm, A 463, D 495. Not Jérwsalèm, with w as a consonant, as Ten Brink suggests; such a pronunciation is practically impossible.
- The e in párishe is suppressed, by the position of the accent on the a (§ 111); it is not really elided.
- It is worth while to place the two stanzas in juxta-position. I accordingly quote them here.
Lady! thy bountee, thy magnificence,
Thy vertu, and thy grete humilitee
Ther may no tonge expresse in no science;
For som-tyme, lady, er men praye to thee,
Thou goost biforn of thy benignitee,
And getest us the light, thurgh thy preyere,
To gyden us un-to thy sone so dere. (B. 1664.)
Assembled is in thee magnificence
With mercy, goodnesse, and with swich pitee
That thou, that art the sonne of excellence,
Nat only helpest hem that preyen thee,
But ofte tyme, of thy benignitee,
Ful frely, er that men thyn help biseche,
Thou goost biforn, and art hir lyves leche. (G. 50.)
- Seneca is often quoted as the author of maxims or proverbial sayings, really found in Publilius Syrus and Caecilius Balbus.
- St. Augustine's story found its way into the Gesta Romanorum.