The Project Gutenberg eBook of Chaucer's Works, Volume 3 — The House of Fame; The Legend of Good Women; The Treatise on the Astrolabe; The Sources of the Canterbury Tales

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Title: Chaucer's Works, Volume 3 — The House of Fame; The Legend of Good Women; The Treatise on the Astrolabe; The Sources of the Canterbury Tales

Author: Geoffrey Chaucer

Editor: Walter W. Skeat

Release date: February 27, 2014 [eBook #45027]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Keith Edkins and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at


Transcriber's note:

In this edition the two versions of the Prologue to the Legend are each assembled for continuous reading. Page numbers {66a} etc. refer to the upper parts of the printed pages, {66b} etc. refer to the lower parts. Skeat's commentary on the Astrolabe (mentioned in the text as "Footnotes") has been similarly separated from Chaucer's text.

A Glossary including words from the texts in this volume is included in Skeat's Volume VI, available from Project Gutenberg at


MS. Fairfax 16. Legend of Good Women, 414-450








Litt.D., LL.D., D.C.L., Ph.D.


* * *


'He made the book that hight the Hous of Fame.'

Legend of Good Women; 417.

'Who-so that wol his large volume seke

Cleped the Seintes Legende of Cupyde.'

Canterbury Tales; B 60.

'His Astrelabie, longinge for his art.'

Canterbury Tales; A 3209.








Introduction to the House of Fame.—§ 1. Authorship. § 2. Influence of Dante. § 3. Testimony of Lydgate. § 4. Influence of Ovid. § 5. Date of the Poem. § 6. Metre. § 7. Imitations. § 8. Authorities. § 9. Some Emendations vii
Introduction to the Legend of Good Women.—§ 1. Date of the Poem. § 2. The Two Forms of the Prologue. § 3. Comparison of these. § 4. The Subject of the Legend. § 5. The Daisy. § 6. Agaton. § 7. Chief Sources of the Legend. § 8. The Prologue; Legends of (1) Cleopatra; (2) Thisbe; (3) Dido; (4) Hypsipyle and Medea; (5) Lucretia; (6) Ariadne; (7) Philomela; (8) Phyllis; (9) Hypermnestra. § 9. Gower's Confessio Amantis. § 10. Metre. § 11. 'Clipped' Lines. § 12. Description of the MSS. § 13. Description of the Printed Editions. § 14. Some Improvements in my Edition of 1889. § 15. Conclusion xvi
Introduction to a Treatise on the Astrolabe.—§ 1. Description of the MSS. §§ 2-16. MSS. A., B., C., D., E., F., G., H., I., K., L., M., N., O., P. § 17. MSS. Q., R., S., T., U., W., X. § 18. Thynne's Edition. § 19. The two Classes of MSS. § 20. The last five Sections (spurious). § 21. Gap between Sections 40 and 41. § 22. Gap between Sections 43 and 44. § 23. Conclusion 40. § 24. Extant portion of the Treatise. § 25. Sources. § 26. Various Editions. § 27. Works on the Subject. § 28. Description of the Astrolabe Planisphere. § 29. Uses of the Astrolabe Planisphere. § 30. Stars marked on the Rete. § 31. Astrological Notes. § 32. Description of the Plates lvii
Plates illustrating the description of the Astrolabe lxxxi
The Hous of Fame: Book I. 1
The Hous of Fame: Book II. 16
The Hous of Fame: Book III. 33

The Legend of Good Women: The Prologue

XVIII. The Legend of Cleopatra 106
XVIII. The Legend of Thisbe 110
XVIII. The Legend of Dido 117
XIIIV. The Legend of Hypsipyle and Medea 131
XIIIV. The Legend of Lucretia 140
XIIVI. The Legend of Ariadne 147
XIVII. The Legend of Philomela 158
XVIII. The Legend of Phyllis 164
VIIIX. The Legend of Hypermnestra 169
A Treatise on the Astrolabe 175
Critical Notes to a Treatise on the Astrolabe 233
Notes to the House of Fame 243
Notes to the Legend of Good Women 288
Notes to a Treatise on the Astrolabe 352
An Account of the Sources of the Canterbury Tales 370


§ 1. It is needless to say that this Poem is genuine, as Chaucer himself claims it twice over; once in his Prologue to the Legend of Good Women, l. 417, and again by the insertion in the poem itself of the name Geffrey (l. 729)[1].

§ 2. Influence of Dante. The influence of Dante is here very marked, and has been thoroughly discussed by Rambeau in Englische Studien, iii. 209, in an article far too important to be neglected. I can only say here that the author points out both general and particular likenesses between the two poems. In general, both are visions; both are in three books; in both, the authors seek abstraction from surrounding troubles by venturing into the realm of imagination. As Dante is led by Vergil, so Chaucer is upborne by an eagle. Dante begins his third book, Il Paradiso, with an invocation to Apollo, and Chaucer likewise begins his third book with the same; moreover, Chaucer's invocation is little more than a translation of Dante's.

Among the particular resemblances, we may notice the method of commencing each division of the Poem with an invocation[2]. Again, both poets mark the exact date of commencing their poems; Dante descended into the Inferno on Good Friday, 1300 {viii}(Inf. xxi. 112); Chaucer began his work on the 10th of December, the year being, probably, 1383 (see note to l. 111).

Chaucer sees the desert of Lybia (l. 488), corresponding to similar waste spaces mentioned by Dante; see note to l. 482. Chaucer's eagle is also Dante's eagle; see note to l. 500. Chaucer gives an account of Phaethon (l. 942) and of Icarus (l. 920), much like those given by Dante (Inf. xvii. 107, 109); both accounts, however, may have been taken from Ovid[3]. Chaucer's account of the eagle's lecture to him (l. 729) resembles Dante's Paradiso, i. 109-117. Chaucer's steep rock of ice (l. 1130) corresponds to Dante's steep rock (Purg. iii. 47). If Chaucer cannot describe all the beauty of the House of Fame (l. 1168), Dante is equally unable to describe Paradise (Par. i. 6). Chaucer copies from Dante his description of Statius, and follows his mistake in saying that he was born at Toulouse; see note to l. 1460. The description of the house of Rumour is also imitated from Dante; see note to l. 2034. Chaucer's error of making Marsyas a female arose from his misunderstanding the Italian form Marsia in Dante; see note to l. 1229.

These are but some of the points discussed in Rambeau's article; it is difficult to give, in a summary, a just idea of the careful way in which the resemblances between these two great poets are pointed out. I am quite aware that many of the alleged parallel passages are too trivial to be relied upon, and that the author's case would have been strengthened, rather than weakened, by several judicious omissions; but we may fairly accept the conclusion, that Chaucer is more indebted to Dante in this poem than in any other; perhaps more than in all his other works put together.

It is no longer possible to question Chaucer's knowledge of Italian; and it is useless to search for the original of The House of Fame in Provençal literature, as Warton vaguely suggests that we should do (see note to l. 1928). At the same time, I can see no help to be obtained from a perusal of Petrarch's Trionfo della Fama, to which some refer us.

§ 3. Testimony of Lydgate. It is remarkable that Lydgate {ix}does not expressly mention The House of Fame by name, in his list of Chaucer's works. I have already discussed this point in the Introduction to vol. i. pp. 23, 24, where I shew that Lydgate, nevertheless, refers to this work at least thrice in the course of the poem in which his list occurs; and, at the same time, he speaks of a poem by Chaucer which he calls 'Dant in English,' to which there is nothing to correspond, unless it can be identified with The House of Fame[4]. We know, however, that Lydgate's testimony as to this point is wholly immaterial; so that the discussion as to the true interpretation of his words is a mere matter of curiosity.

§ 4. Influence of Ovid. It must, on the other hand, be obvious to all readers, that the general notion of a House of Fame was adopted from a passage in Ovid's Metamorphoses, xii. 39-63. The proof of this appears from the great care with which Chaucer works in all the details occurring in that passage. He also keeps an eye on the celebrated description of Fame in Vergil's Æneid, iv. 173-183; even to the unlucky rendering of 'pernicibus alis' by 'partriches winges,' in l. 1392[5].

I here quote the passage from Ovid at length, as it is very useful for frequent reference (cf. Ho. Fame, 711-24, 672-99, 1025-41, 1951-76, 2034-77):—

'Orbe locus medio est inter terrasque, fretumque,

Caelestesque plagas, triplicis confinia mundi;

{x}Unde quod est usquam, quamuis regionibus absit,

Inspicitur penetratque cauas uox omnis ad aures.

Fama tenet, summaque domum sibi legit in arce;

Innumerosque aditus, ac mille foramina tectis

Addidit, et nullis inclusit limina portis.

Nocte dieque patent. Tota est ex aere sonanti;

Tota fremit, uocesque refert, iteratque quod audit.

Nulla quies intus, nullaque silentia parte.

Nec tamen est clamor, sed paruae murmura uocis;

Qualia de pelagi, si quis procul audiat, undis

Esse solent; qualemue sonum, cum Iupiter atras

Increpuit nubes, extrema tonitrua reddunt.

Atria turba tenet; ueniunt leue uulgus, euntque;

Mixtaque cum ueris passim commenta uagantur

Millia rumorum, confusaque uerba uolutant.

E quibus hi uacuas implent sermonibus aures;

Hi narrata ferunt alio; mensuraque ficti

Crescit, et auditis aliquid nouus adicit auctor.

Illic Credulitas, illic temerarius Error,

Vanaque Laetitia est, consternatique Timores,

Seditioque repens, dubioque auctore Susurri.

Ipsa quid in caelo rerum, pelagoque geratur,

Et tellure uidet, totumque inquirit in orbem.'

A few other references to Ovid are pointed out in the Notes.

By way of further illustration, I here quote the whole of Golding's translation of the above passage from Ovid:—

'Amid the world tweene heauen and earth, and sea, there is a place,

Set from the bounds of each of them indifferently in space,

From whence is seene what-euer thing is practizde any-where,

Although the Realme be neere so farre: and roundly to the eare

Commes whatsoeuer spoken is; Fame hath his dwelling there,

Who in the top of all the house is lodged in a towre.

A thousand entries, glades, and holes are framed in this bowre.

There are no doores to shut. The doores stand open night and day.

The house is all of sounding brasse, and roreth euery way,

Reporting double euery word it heareth people say.

There is no rest within, there is no silence any-where.

Yet is there not a yelling out: but humming, as it were

The sound of surges being heard farre off, or like the sound

That at the end of thunderclaps long after doth redound

When Ioue doth make the clouds to crack. Within the courts is preace

Of common people, which to come and go do neuer ceace.

And millions both of troths and lies run gadding euery-where,

And wordes confuselie flie in heapes, of which some fill the eare

That heard not of them erst, and some cole-cariers part do play,

To spread abroade the things they heard, and euer by the way

The thing that was inuented growes much greater than before,

And euery one that gets it by the end addes somewhat more.

{xi}Light credit dwelleth there, there dwells rash error, there doth dwell

Vaine ioy: there dwelleth hartlesse feare, and brute that loues to tell

Uncertaine newes vpon report, whereof he doth not knowe

The author, and sedition who fresh rumors loues to sowe.

This Fame beholdeth what is done in heauen, on sea, and land,

And what is wrought in all the world he layes to vnderstand.'

§ 5. Date of the Poem. Ten Brink, in his Chaucer Studien, pp. 120, 121, concludes that The House of Fame was, in all probability, composed shortly after Troilus, as the opening lines reproduce, in effect, a passage concerning dreams which appears in the last Book of Troilus, ll. 358-385. We may also observe the following lines in Troilus, from Book I, 517-8:—

'Now, thonked be god, he may goon in the daunce

Of hem that Love list febly for to avaunce.'

These lines, jestingly applied to Troilus by Pandarus, are in the House of Fame, 639, 640, applied by Chaucer to himself:—

'Although thou mayst go in the daunce

Of hem that him list not avaunce.'

Again, the House of Fame preceded the Legend of Good Women, because he here complains of the hardship of his official duties (652-660); whereas, in the Prologue to the Legend, he rejoices at obtaining some release from them. We may also note the quotation from Boethius (note to l. 972). As Boethius and Troilus seem to have been written together, somewhere about 1380, and took up a considerable time, and the apparent date of the Legend is 1385, the probable date of the House of Fame is about 1383 or 1384. Ten Brink further remarks that the references to Jupiter suggest to the reader that the 10th of December was a Thursday (see note to 111). This would give 1383 for beginning the poem; and perhaps no fitter date than the end of 1383 and the spring of 1384 can be found.

§ 6. Metre. Many of Chaucer's metres were introduced by him from the French; but the four-accent metre, with rime as here employed, was commonly known before Chaucer's time. It was used by Robert of Brunne in 1303, in the Cursor Mundi, and in Havelok. It is, however, of French origin, and occurs in the very lengthy poem of Le Roman de la Rose. Chaucer only employed it thrice: (1) in translating the Roman de la Rose; (2) in the Book of the Duchesse; and (3) in the present poem.

For normal lines, with masculine rimes, see 7, 8, 13, 14, 29, {xii}33, &c. For normal lines, with feminine rimes, see 1, 2, 9, 15, 18, &c. Elision is common, as of e in turne (1), in somme (6), in Devyne (14); &c. Sometimes there is a middle pause, where a final syllable need not always be elided. Thus we may read:—

'By abstinencë—or by seknesse' (25):

'In studie—or melancolious' (30):

'And fro unhappë—and ech disese' (89):

'In his substáuncë—is but air' (768).

Two short syllables, rapidly pronounced, may take the place of one:—

'I noot; but who-so of these mirácles' (12):

'By avisiouns, or bý figúres' (47).

The first foot frequently consists of a single syllable; see 26, 35, 40, 44; so also in l. 3, where, in modern English, we should prefer Unto.

The final e, followed by a consonant, is usually sounded, and has its usual grammatical values. Thus we have think-e, infin. (15); bot-e, old accus. of a fem. sb. (32); swich-e, plural (35); oft-e, adverbial (35); soft-e, with essential final e (A.S. sōfte); find-e, pres. pl. indic. (43); com-e, gerund (45): gret-e, pl. (53); mak-e, infin. (56); rod-e, dat. form used as a new nom., of which there are many examples in Chaucer (57); blind-e, def. adj. (138). The endings -ed, -en, -es, usually form a distinct syllable; so also -eth, which, however, occasionally becomes 'th; cf. comth (71). A few common words, written with final e, are monosyllabic; as thise (these); also shulde (should), and the like, occasionally. Remember that the old accent is frequently different from the modern; as in orácles, mirácles (11, 12): distaúnc-e (18), aventúres, figúres (47, 48): povért (88): málicióus (93): &c. The endings -i-al, -i-oun, -i-ous, usually form two distinct syllables.

For further remarks on Metre and Grammar, see vol. v.

§ 7. Imitations. The chief imitations of the House of Fame are The Temple of Glas, by Lydgate[6]; The Palice of Honour, by Gawain Douglas; The Garland of Laurell, by John Skelton; and {xiii}The Temple of Fame, by Pope. Pope's poem should not be compared with Chaucer's; it is very different in character, and is best appreciated by forgetting its origin.

§ 8. Authorities. The authorities for the text are few and poor; hence it is hardly possible to produce a thoroughly satisfactory text. There are three MSS. of the fifteenth century, viz. F. (Fairfax MS. 16, in the Bodleian Library); B. (MS. Bodley, 638, in the same); P. (MS. Pepys 2006, in Magdalene College, Cambridge). The last of these is imperfect, ending at l. 1843. There are two early printed editions of some value, viz. Cx. (Caxton's edition, undated); and Th. (Thynne's edition, 1532). None of the later editions are of much value, except the critical edition by Hans Willert (Berlin, 1883). Of these, F. and B., which are much alike, form a first group; P. and Cx. form a second group; whilst Th. partly agrees with Cx., and partly with F. The text is chiefly from F., with collations of the other sources, as given in the footnotes, which record only the more important variations.

§ 9. Some emendations. In constructing the text, a good deal of emendation has been necessary; and I have adopted many hints from Willert's edition above mentioned; though perhaps I may be allowed to add that, in many cases, I had arrived at the same emendations independently, especially where they were obvious. Among the emendations in spelling, I may particularise misdemen (92), where all the authorities have mysdeme or misdeme; Dispyt, in place of Dispyte (96); barfoot, for barefoot or barefote (98); proces (as in P.) for processe, as in the rest (251); delyt, profyt, for delyte, profyte (309, 310); sleighte for sleight (462); brighte[7], sighte, for bright, sight (503, 504); wighte, highte, for wight, hight (739, 740); fyn, Delphyn (as in Cx.), for fyne, Delphyne (1005, 1006); magyk, syk, for magyke, syke (1269, 1270); losenges, for losynges (1317), and frenges (as in F.) for frynges, as in the rest (1318); dispyt for dispite (1716); laughe for laugh (Cx. lawhe, 1809); delyt for delyte (P. delit, 1831); thengyn (as in Th.) for thengyne (1934); othere for other (2151, footnote). {xiv}These are only a few of the instances where nearly all the authorities are at fault.

The above instances merely relate to questions of spelling. Still more serious are the defects in the MSS. and printed texts as regards the sense; but all instances of emendation are duly specified in the footnotes, and are frequently further discussed in the Notes at the end. Thus, in l. 329, it is necessary to supply I. In 370, allas should be Eneas. In 513, Willert rightly puts selly, i.e. wonderful, for sely, blessed. In 557, the metre is easily restored, by reading so agast for agast so. In 621, we must read lyte is, not lytel is, if we want a rime to dytees. In 827, I restore the word mansioun; the usual readings are tautological. In 911, I restore toun for token, and adopt the only reading of l. 912 that gives any sense. In 1007, the only possible reading is Atlantes. In 1044, Morris's edition has biten, correctly; though MS. F. has beten, and there is no indication that a correction has been made. In 1114, the right word is site; cf. the Treatise on the Astrolabe (see Note). In 1135, read bilt (i.e. buildeth); bilte gives neither sense nor rhythm. In 1173, supply be. Ll. 1177, 1178 have been set right by Willert. In 1189, the right word is Babewinnes[8]. In 1208, read Bret (as in B.). In 1233, read famous. In 1236, read Reyes[9]. In 1303, read hatte, i.e. are named. In 1351, read Fulle, not Fyne. In 1372, adopt the reading of Cx. Th. P., or there is no nominative to streighte; and in 1373, read wonderliche. In 1411, read tharmes (= the armes). In 1425, I supply and hy, to fill out the line. In 1483, I supply dan; if, however, poete is made trisyllabic, then l. 1499 should not contain daun. In 1494, for high the, read highte (as in l. 744). In 1527, for into read in. In 1570, read Up peyne. In 1666, 1701, and 1720, for werkes read werk. In 1702, read clew (see note)[10]. In 1717, lyen is an error for lyuen, i.e. live. In 1750, read To, not The. In 1775, supply ye; or there is no sense. In 1793, supply they for a like reason. In 1804, 5, supply the, and al; for the scansion. In 1897, read {xv}wiste, not wot. In 1940, hattes should be hottes; this emendation has been accepted by several scholars. In 1936, the right word is falwe, not salwe (as in Morris). In 1960, there should be no comma at the end of the line, as in most editions; and in 1961, 2 read werre, reste (not werres, restes). In 1975, mis and governement are distinct words. In 2017, frot[11] is an error for froyt; it is better to read fruit at once; this correction is due to Koch. In 2021, suppress in after yaf. In 2049, for he read the other (Willert). In 2059, wondermost is all one word. In 2076, I read word; Morris reads mothe, but does not explain it, and it gives no sense. In 2156, I supply nevene.

I mention these as examples of necessary emendations of which the usual editions take no notice.

I also take occasion to draw attention to the careful articles on this poem by Dr. J. Koch, in Anglia, vol. vii. App. 24-30, and Englische Studien, xv. 409-415; and the remarks by Willert in Anglia, vii. App. 203-7. The best general account of the poem is that in Ten Brink's History of English Literature.

In conclusion, I add a few 'last words.'

L. 399. We learn, from Troil. i. 654, that Chaucer actually supposed 'Oënone' to have four syllables. This restores the metre. Read:—And Paris to Oënone.

503. Read 'brighte,' with final e; 'bright' is a misprint.

859. Compare Cant. Tales, F 726.

1119. 'To climbe hit,' i.e. to climb the rock; still a common idiom.

2115. Compare Cant. Tales, A 2078. Perhaps read 'wanie.'



§ 1. Date of the Poem: A.D. 1385. The Legend of Good Women presents several points of peculiar, I might almost say of unique interest. It is the immediate precursor of the Canterbury Tales, and enables us to see how the poet was led on towards the composition of that immortal poem. This is easily seen, upon consideration of the date at which it was composed.

The question of the date has been well investigated by Ten Brink; but it may be observed beforehand that the allusion to the 'queen' in l. 496 has long ago been noticed, and it has been thence inferred, by Tyrwhitt, that the Prologue must have been written after 1382, the year when Richard II. married his first wife, the 'good queen Anne.' But Ten Brink's remarks enable us to look at the question much more closely.

He shows that Chaucer's work can be clearly divided into three chief periods, the chronology of which he presents in the following form[12].

First Period.

1366 (at latest). The Romaunt of the Rose.

1369. The Book of the Duchesse.

1372. (end of the period).

{xvii}Second Period.

1373. The Lyf of Seint Cecile.

1373. The Assembly of Foules.

1373. Palamon and Arcite.

1373. Translation of Boethius.

1373. Troilus and Creseide.

1384. The House of Fame.

Third Period.

1385. Legend of Good Women.

1385. Canterbury Tales.

1391. Treatise on the Astrolabe.

It is unnecessary for our present purpose to insert the conjectured dates of the Minor Poems not here mentioned.

According to Ten Brink, the poems of the First Period were composed before Chaucer set out on his Italian travels, i.e. before December, 1372, and contain no allusions to writings by Italian authors. In them, the influence of French authors is very strongly marked.

The poems of the Second Period (he tells us) were composed after that date. The Life of Seint Cecile already marks the author's acquaintance with Dante's Divina Commedia; lines 36-51 are, in fact, a free translation from the Paradiso, canto xxxiii. ll. 1-21. See my note to this passage, and the remarks on the 'Second Nun's Tale' in vol. v. The Parlement of Foules contains references to Dante and a long passage translated from Boccaccio's Teseide; see my notes to that poem in vol. i. The original Palamon and Arcite was also taken from the Teseide; for even the revised version of it (now known as the Knightes Tale, and containing, doubtless, much more of Chaucer's own work) is founded upon that poem, and occasionally presents verbal imitations of it. Troilus is similarly dependent upon Boccaccio's Filostrato. The close connexion between Troilus and the translation of Boethius is seen from several considerations, of which it may suffice here to mention two. The former is the association of these two works in Chaucer's lines to Adam—

'Adam scriveyn, if ever it thee befalle

Boece or Troilus to wryten newe.'

Minor Poems; see vol. i. p. 379.

And the latter is, the fact that Chaucer inserts in Troilus (book iv. {xviii}stanzas 140-154) a long passage on predestination and free-will, taken from Boethius, book v. proses 2, 3; which he would appear to have still fresh in his mind. It is probable that his Boethius preceded Troilus almost immediately; indeed, it is conceivable that, for a short season, both may have been in hand at the same time.

There is also a close connexion between Troilus and the House of Fame, the latter of which shows the influence of Dante in a high degree; see p. vii. This connexion will appear from comparing Troil. v. stt. 52-55 with Ho. Fame, 2-54; and Troil. i. st. 74 (ll. 517-8) with Ho. Fame, 639, 640. See Ten Brink, Studien, p. 121. It would seem that the House of Fame followed Troilus almost immediately. At the same time, we cannot put the date of the House of Fame later than 1384, because of Chaucer's complaint in it of the hardship of his official duties, from much of which he was released (as we shall see) early in 1385. Further, the 10th of December is especially mentioned as being the date on which the House of Fame was commenced (l. 111), the year being probably 1383 (see Note to that line).

It would appear, further, that the Legend was begun soon after the House of Fame was suddenly abandoned, in the very middle of a sentence. That it was written later than Troilus and the House of Fame is obvious, from the mention of these poems in the Prologue; ll. 332, 417, 441. That it was written at no great interval after Troilus appears from the fact that, even while writing Troilus, Chaucer had already been meditating upon the goodness of Alcestis, of which the Prologue to the Legend says so much. Observe the following passages (cited by Ten Brink, Studien, p. 120) from Troilus, bk. v. stt. 219, 254:—

'As wel thou mightest lyen on Alceste

That was of creatures—but men lye—

That ever weren, kindest and the beste.

For whan hir housbonde was in Iupartye

To dye himself, but-if she wolde dye,

She chees for him to dye and go to helle,

And starf anoon, as us the bokes telle.

Besechinge every lady bright of hewe,

And every gentil womman, what she be,

That, al be that Criseyde was untrewe,

That for that gilt she be not wrooth with me.

{xix}Ye may hir gilt in othere bokes see;

And gladlier I wol wryten, if yow leste,

Penelopeës trouthe, and good Alceste.'

There is also a striking similarity between the argument in Troilus, bk. iv. st. 3, and ll. 369-372 (B-text) of the Prologue to the Legend. The stanza runs thus:—

'For how Criseyde Troilus forsook,

Or at the leste, how that she was unkinde,

Mot hennes-forth ben matere of my book,

As wryten folk thorugh whiche it is in minde.

Allas! that they shulde ever cause finde

To speke hir harm; and, if they on hir lye,

Y-wis, hem-self sholde han the vilanye.'

I will here also note the fact that the first line of the above stanza is quoted, almost unaltered, in the earlier version of the Prologue, viz. at l. 265 of the A-text, on p. 88.

From the above considerations we may already infer that the House of Fame was begun, probably, in December, 1383, and continued in 1384; and that the Legend of Good Women, which almost immediately succeeded it, may be dated about 1384 or 1385; certainly after 1382, when King Richard was first married. But now that we have come so near to the date, it is possible to come still nearer; for it can hardly be doubted that the extremely grateful way in which Chaucer speaks of the queen may fairly be connected with the stroke of good fortune which happened to him just at this very period. In the House of Fame we find him groaning about the troublesomeness of his official duties; and the one object of his life, just then, was to obtain greater leisure, especially if it could be had without serious loss of income. Now we know that, on the 17th of February, 1385, he obtained the indulgence of being allowed to nominate a permanent deputy for his Controllership of the Customs and Subsidies; see Furnivall's Trial Forewords to the Minor Poems, p. 25. If with our knowledge of this fact we combine these considerations, viz. that Chaucer expresses himself gratefully to the queen, that he says nothing more of his troublesome duties, and that Richard II. is known to have been a patron of letters (as we learn from Gower), we may well conclude that the poet's release from his burden was brought about by the queen's intercession with the king on his behalf. We may here {xx}notice Lydgate's remarks in the following stanza, which occurs in the Prologue to the Fall of Princes[13]:—

'This poete wrote, at the request of the quene,

A Legende, of perfite holynesse,

Of Good Women, to fynd out nynetene

That did excell in bounte and fayrenes;

But for his labour and besinesse

Was importable, his wittes to encombre,

In all this world to fynd so gret a nombre[14].'

Lydgate can hardly be correct in his statement that Chaucer wrote 'at the request' of the queen: for, had our author done so, he would have let us know it. Still, he has seized the right idea, viz. that the queen was, so to speak, the moving cause which effected the production of the poem.

It is, moreover, much to the point to observe that Chaucer's state of delightful freedom did not last long. Owing to a sudden change in the government we find that, on Dec. 4, 1386, he lost his Controllership of the Customs and Subsidies; and, only ten days later, also lost his Controllership of the Petty Customs. Something certainly went wrong, but we have no proof that Chaucer abused his privilege.

On the whole we may interpret ll. 496, 7 (p. 101), viz.

'And whan this book is maad, yive hit the quene,

On my behalfe, at Eltham[15] or at Shene,'

as giving us a date but little later than Feb. 17, 1385, and certainly before Dec. 4, 1386. The mention of the month of May in ll. 36, 45, 108, 176, is probably conventional; still, the other frequent references to spring-time, as in ll. 40-66, 130-147, 171-174, 206, &c., may mean something; and in particular we may note the reference to St. Valentine's day as being past, in ll. 145, 146; seeing that chees (chose) occurs in the past tense. We can hardly resist the conviction that the right date {xxi}of the Prologue is the spring of 1385, which satisfies every condition.

§ 2. The two forms of the Prologue. So far, I have kept out of view the important fact, that the Prologue exists in two distinct forms, viz. an earlier and a revised form. The lines in which 'the queen' is expressly mentioned occur in the later version only, so that some of the above arguments really relate to that alone. But it makes no great difference, as there is no reason to suppose that there was any appreciable lapse of time between the two versions.

In order to save words, I shall call the earlier version the A-text, and the later one the B-text. The manner of printing these texts is explained at p. 65. I print the B-text in full, in the lower half of the page. The A-text appears in the upper half of the same, and is taken from MS. C. (Camb. Univ. Library, Gg. 4. 27), which is the only MS. that contains it, with corrections of the spelling, as recorded in the footnotes. Lines which appear in one text only are marked with an asterisk (*); those which stand almost exactly the same in both texts are marked with a dagger (†) prefixed to them; whilst the unmarked lines are such as occur in both texts, but with some slight alteration. By way of example, observe that lines B. 496, 497, mentioning the queen, are duly marked with an asterisk, as not being in A. Line 2, standing the same in both texts, is marked with a dagger. And thirdly, line 1 is unmarked, because it is slightly altered. A. has here the older expression 'A thousand sythes,' whilst B. has the more familiar 'A thousand tymes.'

The fact that A. is older than B. cannot perhaps be absolutely proved without a long investigation. But all the conditions point in that direction. In the first place, it occurs in only one MS., viz. MS. C., whilst all the others give the B-text; and it is more likely that a revised text should be multiplied than that a first draft should be. Next, this MS. C. is of high value and great importance, being quite the best MS., as regards age, of the whole set; and it is a fortunate thing that the A-text has been preserved at all. And lastly, the internal evidence tends, in my opinion, to shew that B. can be more easily evolved from A. than conversely. I am not aware that any one has ever doubted this result.

We may easily see that the A-text is, on the whole, more general and vague, whilst the B-text is more particular in its references. {xxii}The impression left on my mind by the perusal of the two forms of the Prologue is that Chaucer made immediate use of the comparative liberty accorded to him on the 17th of February, 1385, to plan a new poem, in an entirely new metre, and in the new form of a succession of tales. He decided, further, that the tales should relate to women famous in love-stories, and began by writing the tale of Cleopatra, which is specially mentioned in B. 566 (and A. 542)[16]. The idea then occurred to him of writing a preface or Prologue, which would afford him the double opportunity of justifying and explaining his design, and of expressing his gratitude for his attainment of greater leisure. Having done this, he was not wholly satisfied with it; he thought the expression of gratitude did not come out with sufficient clearness, at least with regard to the person to whom he owed the greatest debt. So he at once set about to amend and alter it; the first draught, of which he had no reason to be ashamed, being at the same time preserved. And we may be sure that the revision was made almost immediately; he was not the man to take up a piece of work again after the first excitement of it had passed away[17]. On the contrary, he used to form larger plans than he could well execute, and leave them unfinished when he grew tired of them. I therefore propose to assign the conjectural date of the spring of 1385 to both forms of the Prologue; and I suppose that Chaucer went on with one tale of the series after another during the summer and latter part of the same year till he grew tired of the task, and at last gave it up in the middle of a sentence. An expression of doubt as to the completion of the task already appears in l. 2457.

§ 3. Comparison of the two forms of the Prologue. A detailed comparison of the two forms of the Prologue would extend to a great length. I merely point out some of the more remarkable variations.

The first distinct note of difference that calls for notice is at line A. 89 (B. 108), p. 72, where the line—

'When passed was almost the month of May'


is altered to—

'And this was now the firste morwe of May.'

This is clearly done for the sake of greater definiteness, and because of the association of the 1st of May with certain national customs expressive of rejoicing. It is emphasized by the statements in B. 114 as to the exact position of the sun (see note to the line). In like manner the vague expression about 'the Ioly tyme of May' in A. 36 is exchanged for the more exact—'whan that the month of May Is comen'; B. 36. In the B-text, the date is definitely fixed; in ll. 36-63 we learn what he usually did on the recurrence of the May-season; in ll. 103-124, we have his (supposed) actual rising at the dawn of May-day; then the manner in which he spent that day (ll. 179-185); and lastly, the arrival of night, his return home, his falling asleep, and his dream (ll. 197-210). He awakes on the morning of May 2, and sets to work at once (ll. 578, 579).

Another notable variation is on p. 71. On arriving at line A. 70, he puts aside A. 71-80 for the present, to be introduced later on (p. 77); and writes the new and important passage contained in B. 83-96 (p. 71). The lady whom he here addresses as being his 'very light,' one whom his heart dreads, whom he obeys as a harp obeys the hand of the player, who is his guide, his 'lady sovereign,' and his 'earthly god,' cannot be mistaken. The reference is obviously to his sovereign lady the queen; and the expression 'earthly god' is made clear by the declaration (in B. 387) that kings are as demi-gods in this present world.

In A., the Proem or true Introduction ends at l. 88, and is more marked than in B., wherein it ends at l. 102.

The passage in A. contained in ll. 127-138 (pp. 75, 76) is corrupt and imperfect in the MS. The sole existing copy of it was evidently made from a MS. that had been more or less defaced; I have had to restore it as I best could. The B-text has here been altered and revised, though the variations are neither extensive nor important; but the passage is immediately followed by about 30 new lines, in which Mercy is said to be a greater power than Right, or strict Justice, especially when Right is overcome 'through innocence and ruled curtesye'; the application of which expression is obvious.

In B. 183-187 we have the etymology of daisy, the declaration {xxiv}that 'she is the empress of flowers,' and a prayer for her prosperity, i.e. for the prosperity of the queen.

In A. 103 (p. 73), the poet falls asleep and dreams. In his dream, he sees a lark (A. 141, p. 79) who introduces the God of Love. In the B-text, the dream is postponed till B. 210 (p. 79), and the lark is left out, as being unnecessary. This is a clear improvement.

An important change is made in the 'Balade' at pp. 83, 84. The refrain is altered from 'Alceste is here' to 'My lady cometh.' The reason is twofold. The poet wishes to suppress the name of Alcestis for the present, in order to introduce it as a surprise towards the end (B. 518)[18]; and secondly, the words 'My lady cometh' are used as being directly applicable to the queen, instead of being only applicable through the medium of allegory. Indeed, Chaucer takes good care to say so; for he inserts a passage to that effect (B. 271-5); where we may remember, by the way, that free means 'bounteous' in Middle-English. We have a few additional lines of the same sort in B. 296-299.

On the other hand, Chaucer suppressed the long and interesting passage in A. 258-264, 267-287, 289-312, for no very obvious reason. But for the existence of MS. C., it would have been wholly lost to us, and the recovery of it is a clear gain. Most interesting of all is the allusion to Chaucer's sixty books of his own, all full of love-stories and personages known to history, in which, for every bad woman, mention was duly made of a hundred good ones (A. 273-277, p. 88)[19]. Important also is his mention of some of his authors, such as Valerius, Livy, Claudian, Jerome, Ovid, and Vincent of Beauvais.

If, as we have seen, Alcestis in this Prologue really meant the queen, it should follow that the God of Love really meant the king. This is made clear in B. 373-408, especially in the comparison between a just king (such as Richard, of course) and the tyrants of Lombardy. In fact, in A. 360-364, Chaucer said {xxv}a little too much about the duty of a king to hear the complaints and petitions of the people, and he very wisely omitted it in revision. In A. 355, he used the unlucky word 'wilfulhed' as an attribute of a Lombard tyrant; but as it was not wholly inapplicable to the king of England, he quietly suppressed it. But the comparison of the king to a lion, and of himself to a fly, was in excellent taste; so no alteration was needed here (p. 94).

In his enumeration of his former works (B. 417-430), he left out one work which he had previously mentioned (A. 414, 415, p. 96). This work is now lost[20], and was probably omitted as being a mere translation, and of no great account. Perhaps the poet's good sense told him that the original was a miserable production, as it must certainly be allowed to be, if we employ the word miserable with its literal meaning (see p. 307).

At pp. 103, 104, some lines are altered in A. (527-532) in order to get rid of the name of Alcestis here, and to bring in a more immediate reference to the Balade. Line B. 540 is especially curious, because he had not, in the first instance, forgotten to put her in his Balade (see A. 209); but he now wished to seem to have done so.

In B. 552-565, we have an interesting addition, in which Love charges him to put all the nineteen ladies, besides Alcestis, into his Legend; and tells him that he may choose his own metre (B. 562). Again, in B. 568-577, he practically stipulates that he is only to tell the more interesting part of each story, and to leave out whatever he should deem to be tedious. This proviso was eminently practical and judicious.

§ 4. The subject of the Legend. We learn, from B. 241, 283, that Chaucer saw in his vision Alcestis and nineteen other ladies, and from B. 557, that he was to commemorate them all in his Legend, beginning with Cleopatra (566) and ending with Alcestis (549, 550). As to the names of the nineteen, they are to be found in his Balade (555).

Upon turning to the Balade (p. 83), the names actually mentioned include some which are hardly admissible. For example, Absalom and Jonathan are names of men; Esther is hardly {xxvi}a suitable subject, whilst Ysoult belongs to a romance of medieval times. (Cf. A. 275, p. 88.) The resulting practicable list is thus reduced to the following, viz. Penelope, Marcia, Helen, Lavinia, Lucretia, Polyxena, Cleopatra, Thisbe, Hero, Dido, Laodamia, Phyllis, Canace, Hypsipyle, Hypermnestra, and Ariadne. At the same time, we find legends of Medea and Philomela, though neither of these are mentioned in the Balade. It is of course intended that the Balade should give a representative list only, without being exactly accurate.

But we are next confronted by a most extraordinary piece of evidence, viz. that of Chaucer himself, when, at a later period, he wrote the Introduction to the Man of Lawes Prologue (see vol. iv. p. 131). He there expressly refers to his Legend of Good Women, which he is pleased to call 'the Seintes Legende of Cupide,' i.e. the Legend of Cupid's Saints. And, in describing this former work of his, he introduces the following lines:—

'Ther may be seen the large woundes wyde

Of Lucresse, and of Babilan Tisbee;

The swerd of Dido for the false Enee;

The tree of Phillis for hir Demophon;

The pleinte of Dianire and Hermion,

Of Adriane and of Isiphilee;

The bareyne yle stonding in the see;

The dreynte Leander for his Erro;

The teres of Eleyne, and eek the wo

Of Brixseyde, and of thee, Ladomea;

The cruelte of thee, queen Medea,

Thy litel children hanging by the hals

For thy Iason, that was of love so fals!

O Ypermistra, Penelopee, Alceste,

Your wyfhod he comendeth with the beste!

But certeinly no word ne wryteth he

Of thilke wikke example of Canacee'; &c.

We can only suppose that he is referring to the contents of his work in quite general terms, with a passing reference to his vision of Alcestis and the nineteen ladies, and to those mentioned in his Balade. There is no reason for supposing that he ever wrote complete tales about Deianira, Hermione, Hero, Helen, Briseis, Laodamia, or Penelope, any more than he did about Alcestis. But it is highly probable that, just at the period of writing his Introduction to the Man of Lawes Prologue, he was seriously intending to take up again his 'Legend,' and was planning how to continue it. But he never did it.


On comparing these two lists, we find that the following names are common to both, viz. Penelope, Helen, Lucretia, Thisbe, Hero, Dido, Laodamia, Phyllis, Canace, Hypsipyle, Hypermnestra, Ariadne, and (in effect) Alcestis. The following occur in the Balade only, viz. Marcia, Lavinia, Polyxena, Cleopatra. And the following are mentioned in the above-quoted passage only, viz. Deianira, Hermione, Briseis, Medea. We further know that he actually wrote the Legend of Philomela, though it is in neither of the above lists; whilst the story of Canace was expressly rejected. Combining our information, and rearranging it, we see that his intention was to write nineteen Legends, descriptive of twenty women, viz. Alcestis and nineteen others; the number of Legends being reduced by one owing to the treatment of the stories of Medea and Hypsipyle under one narrative. Putting aside Alcestis, whose Legend was to come last, the nineteen women can be made up as follows:—

1. Cleopatra. 2. Thisbe. 3. Dido. 4 and 5. Hypsipyle and Medea. 6. Lucretia. 7. Ariadne. 8. Philomela. 9. Phyllis. 10. Hypermnestra (all of which are extant). Next come—11. Penelope: 12. Helen: 13. Hero: 14. Laodamia (all mentioned in both lists). 15. Lavinia: 16. Polyxena[21] (mentioned in the Balade). 17. Deianira: 18. Hermione: 19. Briseis (in the Introduction to the Man of Lawe).

This conjectural list is sufficient to elucidate Chaucer's plan fully, and agrees with that given in the note to l. 61 of the Introduction to the Man of Lawes Tale, in vol. v.

If we next enquire how such lists of 'martyred' women came to be suggested to Chaucer, we may feel sure that he was thinking of Boccaccio's book entitled De Claris Mulieribus, and of Ovid's Heroides. Boccaccio's book contains 105 tales of Illustrious Women, briefly told in Latin prose. Chaucer seems to have partially imitated from it the title of his poem—'The Legend of Good Women'; and he doubtless consulted it for his purpose. But he took care to consult other sources also, in order to be able to give the tales at greater length, so that the traces of his debt to the above work by Boccaccio are very slight.

We must not, however, omit to take notice that, whilst Chaucer {xxviii}owes but little to Boccaccio as regards his subject-matter, it was from him, in particular, that he took his general plan. This is well shewn in the excellent and careful essay by M. Bech, printed in 'Anglia,' vol. v. pp. 313-382, with the title—'Quellen und Plan der Legende of Goode Women und ihr Verhältniss zur Confessio Amantis.' At p. 381, Bech compares Chaucer's work with Boccaccio's, and finds the following points of resemblance.

1. Both works treat exclusively of women; one of them speaks particularly of 'Gode Women,' whilst the other is written 'De Claris Mulieribus.'

2. Both works relate chiefly to tales of olden time.

3. In both, the tales follow each other without any intermediate matter.

4. Both are compacted into a whole by means of an introductory Prologue.

5. Both writers wish to dedicate their works to a queen, but effect this modestly and indirectly. Boccaccio addresses his Prologue to a countess, telling her that he wishes to dedicate his book to Joanna, queen of Jerusalem and Sicily; whilst Chaucer veils his address to queen Anne under the guise of allegory.

6. Both record the fact of their writing in a time of comparative leisure. Boccaccio uses the words: 'paululum ab inerti uulgo semotus et a ceteris fere solutus curis.'

7. Had Chaucer finished his work, his last Legend would have related to Alcestis, i.e. to the queen herself. Boccaccio actually concludes his work with a chapter 'De Iohanna Hierusalem et Sicilie regina.'

See further in Bech, who quotes Boccaccio's 'Prologue' in full.

To this comparison should be added (as Bech remarks) an accidental coincidence which is even more striking, viz. that the work 'De Claris Mulieribus' bears much the same relation to the more famous one entitled 'Il Decamerone,' that the Legend of Good Women does to the Canterbury Tales.

Boccaccio has all of Chaucer's finished tales, except those of Ariadne, Philomela, and Phyllis[22]; he also gives the stories of some whom Chaucer only mentions, such as the stories of Deianira {xxix}(cap. 22), Polyxena (cap. 31), Helena (cap. 35), Penelope (cap. 38); and others. To Ovid our author is much more indebted, and frequently translates passages from his Heroides (or Epistles) and from the Metamorphoses. The former of these works contains the Epistles of Phyllis, Hypsipyle, Medea, Dido, Ariadne, and Hypermnestra, whose stories Chaucer relates, as well as the letters of most of those whom Chaucer merely mentions, viz. of Penelope, Briseis, Hermione, Deianira, Laodamia, Helena, and Hero. It is evident that our poet was chiefly guided by Ovid in selecting stories from the much larger collection in Boccaccio. At the same time it is remarkable that neither Boccaccio (in the above work) nor Ovid gives the story of Alcestis, and it is not quite certain whence Chaucer obtained it. It is briefly told in the 51st of the Fabulae of Hyginus, but it is much more likely that Chaucer borrowed it from another work by Boccaccio, entitled De Genealogia Deorum[23], where it appears amongst the fifty-one labours of Hercules, in the following words:—

'Alcestem Admeti regis Thessaliae coniugem retraxit [Hercules] ad uirum. Dicunt enim, quod cum infirmaretur Admetus, implorassetque Apollinis auxilium, sibi ab Apolline dictum mortem euadere non posse, nisi illam aliquis ex affinibus atque necessariis subiret. Quod cum audisset Alcestis coniunx, non dubitauit suam pro salute uiri concedere, et sic ea mortua Admetus liberatus est, qui plurimum uxori compatiens Herculem orauit, vt ad inferos uadens illius animam reuocaret ad superos, quod et factum est.'— Lib. xiii. c. 1 (ed. 1532).

§ 5. The Daisy. To this story Chaucer has added a pretty addition of his own invention, that this heroine was finally transformed into a daisy. The idea of choosing this flower as the emblem of perfect wifehood was certainly a happy one, and has often been admired. It is first alluded to by Lydgate, in a Poem against Self-Love (see Lydgate's Minor Poems, ed. Halliwell, p. 161):—

'Alcestis flower, with white, with red and greene,

Displaieth hir crown geyn Phebus bemys brihte.'

And again, in the same author's Temple of Glas, ll. 71-74:—

'I mene Alceste, the noble trewe wyf ...

Hou she was turned to a dayesye.'


The anonymous author of the Court of Love seized upon the same fancy to adorn his description of the Castle of Love, which, as he tells us, was—

'With-in and oute depeinted wonderly

With many a thousand daisy[es] rede as rose

And white also, this sawe I verely.

But what tho deis[y]es might do signifye

Can I not tel, saufe that the quenes floure,

Alceste, it was, that kept ther her soioure,

Which vnder Uenus lady was and quene,

And Admete kyng and souerain of that place,

To whom obeied the ladies good ninetene,

With many a thousand other bright of face[24].'

The mention of 'the ladies good ninetene' at once shews us whence this mention of Alcestis was borrowed.

In a modern book entitled Flora Historica, by Henry Phillips, 2nd ed. i. 42, we are gravely told that 'fabulous history informs us that this plant [the daisy] is called Bellis because it owes its origin to Belides, a granddaughter of Danaus, and one of the nymphs called Dryads, that presided over the meadows and pastures in ancient times. Belides is said to have encouraged the suit of Ephigeus, but whilst dancing on the green with this rural deity she attracted the admiration of Vertumnus, who, just as he was about to seize her in his embrace, saw her transformed into the humble plant that now bears her name.' It is clear that the concocter of this stupid story was not aware that Belides is a plural substantive, being the collective name of the fifty daughters of Danaus, who are here rolled into one in order to be transformed into a single daisy; and all because the words bellis and Belides happen to begin with the same three letters! It may also be noticed that 'in ancient times' the business of the Dryads was to preside over trees rather than 'over meadows and pastures.' Who the 'rural deity' was who is here named 'Ephigeus' I neither know nor care. But it is curious to observe the degeneracy of the story for which Chaucer was (in my belief) originally responsible[25]. See Notes and Queries, 7th S. vi. 186, 309.


Of course it is easy to see that this invention on the part of Chaucer is imitated from Ovid's Metamorphoses, where Clytie becomes a sun-flower, Daphne a laurel, and Narcissus, Crocus, and Hyacinthus become, respectively, a narcissus, a crocus, and a hyacinth. At the same time, Chaucer's attention may have been directed to the daisy in particular, as Tyrwhitt long ago pointed out, by a perusal of such poems as Le Dit de la fleur de lis et de la Marguerite, by Guillaume de Machault (printed in Tarbe's edition, 1849, p. 123), and Le Dittié de la flour de la Margherite, by Froissart (printed in Bartsch's Chrestomathie de l'ancien Français, 1875, p. 422); see Introduction to Chaucer's Minor Poems, in vol. i. p. 36. In particular, we may well compare lines 42, 48, 49, 60-63 of our B-text with Machault's Dit de la Marguerite (ed. Tarbé, p. 123):—

'J'aim une fleur, qui s'uevre et qui s'encline

Vers le soleil, de jour quant il chemine;

Et quant il est couchiez soubz sa courtine

Par nuit obscure,

Elle se clost, ainsois que li jours fine.'

And again, we may compare ll. 53-55 with the lines in Machault that immediately follow, viz.

'Toutes passe, ce mest vis, en coulour,

Et toutes ha surmonté de douçour;

Ne comparer

Ne se porroit nulle à li de coulour': &c.[26]

The resemblance is, I think, too close to be accidental.

We may also compare (though the resemblance is less striking) ll. 40-57 of the B-text of the Prologue (pp. 68, 69) with ll. 22-30 of Froissart's poem on the Daisy:—

'Son doulç vëoir grandement me proufite,

et pour ce est dedens mon coer escripte

si plainnement

que nuit et jour en pensant ie recite

{xxxii}les grans vertus de quoi elle est confite,

et di ensi: "la heure soit benite

quant pour moi ai tele flourette eslite,

qui de bonté et de beauté est dite

la souveraine,"' &c.

At l. 68 of the same poem, as pointed out by M. Sandras (Étude sur G. Chaucer, 1859, p. 58), and more clearly by Bech (Anglia, v. 363), we have a story of a woman named Herés—'une pucelle [qui] ama tant son mari'—whose tears, shed for the loss of her husband Cephëy, were turned by Jupiter into daisies as they fell upon the green turf. There they were discovered, one January, by Mercury, who formed a garland of them, which he sent by a messenger named Lirés to Serés (Ceres). Ceres was so pleased by the gift that she caused Lirés to be beloved, which he had never been before.

This mention of Ceres doubtless suggested Chaucer's mention of Cibella (Cybele) in B. 531. In fact, Chaucer first transforms Alcestis herself into a daisy (B. 512); but afterwards tells us that Jupiter changed her into a constellation (B. 525), whilst Cybele made the daisies spring up 'in remembrance and honour' of her. The clue seems to be in the name Cephëy, representing Cephei gen. case of Cepheus. He was a king of Ethiopia, husband of Cassiope, father of Andromeda, and father-in-law of Perseus. They were all four 'stellified,' and four constellations bear their names even to the present day. According to the old mythology, it was not Alcestis, but Cassiope, who was said to be 'stellified[27].' The whole matter is thus sufficiently illustrated.

§ 6. Agaton. This is, perhaps, the most convenient place for explaining who is meant by Agaton (B. 526). The solution of this difficult problem was first given by Cary, in his translation of Dante's Purgatorio, canto xxii. l. 106, where the original has Agatone. Cary first quotes Chaucer, and then the opinion of Tyrwhitt, that there seems to be no reference to 'any of the Agathoes of antiquity,' and adds: 'I am inclined to believe that Chaucer must have meant Agatho, the dramatic writer, whose name, at least, appears to have been familiar in the Middle Ages; for, besides the mention of him in the text, he is quoted by Dante in the Treatise de Monarchia, lib. iii. "Deus per nuncium facere {xxxiii}non potest, genita non esse genita, iuxta sententiam Agathonis."' The original is to be found in Aristotle, Ethic. Nicom. lib. vi. c. 2:—

Μόνου γὰρ ἀυτοῦ καὶ θεὸς στερίσκεται

Ἀγένητα ποιεῖν ἅσσ' ἄν ᾖ πεπραγμένα.

Agatho is mentioned by Xenophon in his Symposium, by Plato in the Protagoras, and in the Banquet, a favourite book with our author [Dante], and by Aristotle in his Art of Poetry, where the following remarkable passage occurs concerning him, from which I will leave it to the reader to decide whether it is possible that the allusion in Chaucer might have arisen: ἐν ἐνίαις μὲν ἓν ἢ δύο τῶν γνωρίμων ἐστὶν ὀνομάτων, τὰ δὲ ἄλλα πεποιημένα· ἐν ἐνίαις δὲ ὀυθέν· οἷον ἐν τῷ Ἀγάθωνος Ἄνθει. ὁμοίως γὰρ ἐν τούτῳ τά τε πράγματα καὶ τὰ ὀνόματα πεποίηται, καὶ ὀυδὲν ἧττον ἐυφραίνει. Edit. 1794, p. 33. "There are, however, some tragedies, in which one or two of the names are historical, and the rest feigned; there are even some, in which none of the names are historical; such is Agatho's tragedy called 'The Flower'; for in that all is invention, both incidents and names; and yet it pleases." Aristotle's Treatise on Poetry, by Thos. Twining, 8vo. edit. 1812, vol. i. p. 128.'

The peculiar spelling Agaton renders it highly probable that Chaucer took the name from Dante (Purg. xxii. 106), but this does not wholly suffice[28]. Accordingly, Bech suggests that he may also have noticed the name in the Saturnalia of Macrobius, an author whose Somnium Scipionis Chaucer certainly consulted (Book Duch. 284; Parl. Foules, 111). In this work Macrobius mentions, incidentally, both Alcestis (lib. v. c. 19) and Agatho (lib. ii. c. 1), and Chaucer may have observed the names there, though he obtained no particular information about them. Froissart (as Bech bids us remark), in his poem on the Daisy, has the lines:—

'Mercurius, ce dist li escripture,

trouva premier

la belle flour que j'ainc oultre mesure,' &c.

The remark—'ce dist li escripture,' 'as the book says'—may {xxxiv}well have suggested to Chaucer that he ought to give some authority for his story, and the name of Agatho (of whom he probably knew nothing more than the name) served his turn as well as another. His easy way of citing authors is probably, at times, humorously assumed; and such may be the explanation of his famous 'Lollius.' It is quite useless to make any further search.

I may add that this Agatho, or Agathon (Ἀγάθον), was an Athenian tragic poet, and a friend of Euripides and Plato. He was born about B.C. 447, and died about B.C. 400.

Lounsbury (Studies in Chaucer, ii. 402) rejects this explanation; but it is not likely that we shall ever meet with a better one.

§ 7. Chief Sources of the Legend. The more obvious sources of the various tales have frequently been pointed out. Thus Prof. Morley, in his English Writers, v. 241 (1890), says that Thisbe is from Ovid's Metamorphoses, iv. 55-166; Dido, from Vergil and Ovid's Heroides, Ep. vii; Hypsipyle and Medea from Ovid (Met. vii., Her. Ep. vi, xii); Lucretia from Ovid (Fasti, ii. 721) and Livy (Hist. i. 57); Ariadne and Philomela from Ovid (Met. viii. 152, vi. 412-676), and Phyllis and Hypermnestra also from Ovid (Her. Ep. ii. and Ep. xiv). He also notes the allusion to St. Augustine (De Civitate Dei, cap. xix.) in l. 1690, and observes that all the tales, except those of Ariadne and Phyllis[29], are in Boccaccio's De Claris Mulieribus. But it is possible to examine them a little more closely, and to obtain further light upon at least a few other points. It will be most convenient to take each piece in its order. For some of my information, I am indebted to the essay by Bech, above mentioned (p. xxviii).

§ 8. Prologue. Original. Besides mere passing allusions, we find references to the story of Alcestis, queen of Thrace (432[30], 518). As she is not mentioned in Boccaccio's book De Claris Mulieribus, and Ovid nowhere mentions her name, and only alludes in passing to the 'wife of Admetus' in two passages (Ex Ponto, iii. 1. 106; Trist. v. 14. 37), it is tolerably certain that Chaucer must have read her story either in Boccaccio's book De Genealogia Deorum, lib. xiii. c. 1 (see p. xxix), or in the Fables of Hyginus (Fab. 51). A large number of the names {xxxv}mentioned in the Balade (249) were suggested either by Boccaccio's De Claris Mulieribus, or by Ovid's Heroides; probably, by both of these works. We may here also note that the Fables of Hyginus very briefly give the stories of Jason and Medea (capp. 24, 25); Theseus and Ariadne (capp. 41-43); Philomela (cap. 45); Alcestis (cap. 51); Phyllis (cap. 59); Laodamia (cap. 104); Polyxena (cap. 110); Hypermnestra (cap. 168); Nisus and Scylla (cap. 198; cf. ll. 1904-1920); Penelope (cap. 126); and Helena (capp. 78, 92). The probability that Chaucer consulted Machault's and Froissart's poems has already been discussed; see p. xxxi.

It is interesting to note that Chaucer had already praised many of his Good Women in previous poems. Compare such passages as the following:—

'Of Medea and of Iason,

Of Paris, Eleyne, and Lavyne.'

Book of the Duch. 330.

'By as good right as Medea was,

That slow her children for Iason;

And Phyllis als for Demophon

Heng hir-self, so weylaway!

For he had broke his terme-day

To come to her. Another rage

Had Dydo, quene eek of Cartage,

That slow hir-self, for Eneas

Was fals; a! whiche a fool she was!' Id. 726.

—'as moche debonairtee

As ever had Hester in the bible.' Id. 986.

'For love of hir, Polixena— ...

She was as good, so have I reste,

As ever Penelope of Greece,

Or as the noble wyf Lucrece,

That was the beste—he telleth thus,

The Romain, Tytus Livius.' Id. 1071, 1080.

'She passed hath Penelope and Lucresse.'

Anelida; 82.

'Biblis, Dido, Tisbe and Piramus,

Tristram, Isoude, Paris, and Achilles,

Eleyne, Cleopatre, and Troilus.'

Parlement of Foules; 289.

'But al the maner how she [Dido] deyde,

And al the wordes that she seyde,

Who-so to knowe hit hath purpos,

Reed Virgile in Eneidos

{xxxvi}Or the Epistle of Ovyde,

What that she wroot or that she dyde;

And, nere hit to long to endyte,

By god, I wolde hit here wryte.'

House of Fame; 375.

The last quotation proves clearly, that Chaucer was already meditating a new version of the Legend of Dido, to be made up from the Æneid and the Heroides, whilst still engaged upon the House of Fame (which actually gives this story at considerable length, viz. in ll. 140-382); and consequently, that the Legend of Good Women succeeded the House of Fame by a very short interval. But this is not all; for only a few lines further on we find the following passage:—

'Lo, Demophon, duk of Athenis,

How he forswor him ful falsly,

And trayed Phillis wikkedly,

That kinges doghter was of Trace,

And falsly gan his terme pace;

And when she wiste that he was fals,

She heng hir-self right by the hals,

For he had do hir swich untrouthe;

Lo! was not this a wo and routhe?

Eek lo! how fals and reccheles

Was to Briseida Achilles,

And Paris to Oënone;

And Iason to Isiphile;

And eft Iason to Medea;

And Ercules to Dyanira;

For he lefte hir for Iöle,

That made him cacche his deeth, parde!

How fals eek was he, Theseus;

That, as the story telleth us,

How he betrayed Adriane;

The devel be his soules bane[31]!

For had he laughed, had he loured,

He mostë have be al devoured,

If Adriane ne had y-be[32]!' &c. Id. 387.

Here we already have an outline of the Legend of Phyllis; a reference to Briseis; to Jason, Hypsipyle, Medea, and to Deianira; a sufficient sketch of the Legend of Ariadne; and another version of the Legend of Dido.

We trace a lingering influence upon Chaucer of the Roman de la Rose; see notes to ll. 125, 128, 171. Dante is both quoted {xxxvii}and mentioned by name; ll. 357-360. Various other allusions are pointed out in the Notes.

In ll. 280, 281, 284, 305-308 of the A-text of the Prologue (pp. 89, 90), Chaucer refers us to several authors, but not necessarily in connexion with the present work. Yet he actually makes use (at second-hand) of Titus (i.e. Livy, l. 1683), and also further of the 'epistles of Ovyde.' He takes occasion to refer to his own translation of the Roman de la Rose (B. ll. 329, 441, 470), and to his Troilus (ll. 332, 441, 469); besides enumerating many of his poems (417-428).

I. The Legend of Cleopatra. The source of this legend is by no means clear. As Bech points out, some expressions shew that one of the sources was the Epitome Rerum Romanarum of L. Annæus Florus, lib. iv. c. 11; see notes to ll. 655, 662, 679. No doubt Chaucer also consulted Boccaccio's De Claris Mulieribus, cap. 86, though he makes no special use of the account there given. The story is also in the history of Orosius, bk. iv. c. 19; see Sweet's edition of King Alfred's Orosius, p. 247. Besides which, I think he may have had access to a Latin translation of Plutarch, or of excerpts from the same; see the notes.

It is worth while to note here that Gower (ed. Pauli, iii. 361) has the following lines:—

'I sigh [saw] also the woful quene

Cleopatras, which in a cave

With serpents hath her-self begrave

Al quik, and so was she to-tore,

For sorwe of that she hadde lore

Antonie, which her love hath be.

And forth with her I sigh Thisbe'; &c.

It is clear that he here refers to Chaucer's Legend of Good Women, because he actually repeats Chaucer's very peculiar account of the manner of Cleopatra's death. See § 9, p. xl. Compare L. G. W. ll. 695-697; and note that, both in Chaucer and Gower, the Legend of Thisbe follows that of Cleopatra; whilst the Legend of Philomela immediately follows that of Ariadne. This is more than mere coincidence. See Bech's essay; Anglia, v. 365.

II. The Legend of Thisbe. This is from Ovid's Metamorphoses, iv. 55-166, and from no other source. Some of the lines are closely translated, but in other places the phraseology is entirely recast. The free manner in which Chaucer treats {xxxviii}his original is worthy of study; see, as to this, the excellent criticism of Ten Brink, in his Geschichte der Englischen Litteratur, ii. 117. Most noteworthy of all is his suppression of the mythological element. The story gains in pathos in a high degree by the omission of the mulberry-tree, the colour of the fruit of which was changed from white to black by the blood of Pyramus; see note to l. 851. This is the more remarkable, because it was just for the sake of this very metamorphosis that Ovid admitted the tale into his series. See also notes to ll. 745, 784, 797, 798, 814, 835, 869, &c.; and cf. Gower's Confessio Amantis, ed. Pauli, i. 324.

III. The Legend of Dido. Chiefly from Vergil's Aeneid, books i-iv. (see note to l. 928, and compare the notes throughout); but ll. 1355-1365 are from Ovid's Heroides, vii. 1-8, quoted at length in the note to l. 1355. And see, particularly, the House of Fame, ll. 140-382. Cf. Gower, C. A. ii. 4-6[33].

IV. The Legends of Hypsipyle and Medea. The sources mentioned by Morley are Ovid's Metamorphoses, bk. vii., and Heroides, epist. vi.; to which we must add Heroides, epist. xii. But this omits a much more important source, to which Chaucer expressly refers. In l. 1396, all previous editions have the following reading—'In Tessalye, as Ovyde telleth us'; but four important MSS. read Guido for Ovyde, and they are quite right[34]. The false reading Ovyde is the more remarkable, because all the MSS. have the reading Guido in l. 1464, where a change would have destroyed the rime. As a matter of fact, ll. 1396-1461 are from Guido delle Colonne's Historia Troiana, book i. (see notes to ll. 1396, 1463); and ll. 1580-3, 1589-1655 are also from the same, book ii. (see notes to ll. 1580, 1590). Another source which Chaucer may have consulted, though he made but little use of it, was the first and second books of the Argonautica of Valerius Flaccus, expressly mentioned in l. 1457 (see notes to ll. 1457, 1469, 1479, 1509, 1558)[35]. The use made of Ovid, Met. vii., {xxxix}is extremely slight (see note to l. 1661). As to Ovid, Her. vii., xii., see notes to ll. 1564, 1670. The net result is that Guido is a far more important source of this Legend than all the passages from Ovid put together. Chaucer also doubtless consulted the fifth book of the Thebaid of his favourite author Statius; see notes to ll. 1457, 1467. Perhaps he also consulted Hyginus, whose 14th Fable gives the long list of the Argonauts, and the 15th, a sketch of the story of Hypsipyle. Compare also Boccaccio, De Claris Mulieribus, capp. 15, 16; and the same, De Genealogia Deorum, lib. xiii. c. 26. Observe also that Gower gives the story of Medea, and expressly states that the tale 'is in the boke of Troie write,' i.e. in Guido. See Pauli's edition, ii. 236.

V. The Legend of Lucretia. Chaucer refers to Livy's History (bk. i. capp. 57-59); and to Ovid (Fasti, ii. 721-852). With a few exceptions, the Legend follows the latter source. He also refers to St. Augustine; see note to l. 1690[36]. Cf. Boccaccio, De Claris Mulieribus, cap. 46, who follows Livy. Several touches are Chaucer's own; see notes to ll. 1812, 1838, 1861, 1871, 1881.

Gower has the same story (iii. 251), and likewise follows Ovid and Livy.

VI. The Legend of Ariadne. From Ovid, Met. vii. 456-8, viii. 6-182; Her. Epist. x. (chiefly 1-74); cf. Fasti, iii. 461-516. But Chaucer consulted other sources also, probably a Latin translation of Plutarch's Life of Theseus; Boccaccio, De Genealogia Deorum, lib. xi. capp. 27, 29, 30; also Vergil, Aen. vi. 20-30; and perhaps Hyginus, Fabulae, capp. 41-43. Cf. House of Fame, 405-426; and Gower, ii. 302[37].

VII. The Legend of Philomela. Chiefly from Ovid, Met. vi. 424-605; and perhaps from no other source, though the use of the word radevore in l. 2352 is yet to be accounted for. Cf. Boccaccio, De Genealogia Deorum, lib. ix. c. 8; and Gower, Conf. Amantis, ii. 313, who refers us to Ovid.

VIII. The Legend of Phyllis. Chiefly from Ovid, Her. {xl}Epist. ii.; cf. Remedia Amoris, 591-608. But a comparison with the story as told by Gower (C. A. ii. 26) shews that both poets consulted some further source, which I cannot trace. The tale is told by Hyginus (Fab. capp. 59, 243) and Boccaccio in a few lines. Cf. House of Fame, 388-396. A few lines are from Vergil, Æn. i. 85-102, 142; iv. 373. And see notes to Lydgate's Temple of Glas, ed. Schick, p. 75.

IX. The Legend of Hypermnestra. Chiefly from Ovid, Her. Epist. xiv. But Ovid calls her husband Lynceus, whereas Chaucer calls him Lino. Again, Ovid does not give the name of Lynceus' father. Chaucer not only transposes the names of the two fathers[38], but calls Ægyptus by the name of Egiste or Egistes. Hence we see that he also consulted Boccaccio, De Genealogia Deorum, lib. ii. c. 22, where we find the following account: 'Danaus Beli Prisci fuit filius, ut asserit Paulus[39], et illud idem affirmat Lactantius, qui etiam et ante Paulum Orosium, dicit Danaum Beli filium ex pluribus coniugibus .l. filias habuisse, quas cum Ægistus frater eius, cui totidem erant melioris sexus filii, postulasset in nurus, Danaus oraculi responso comperto se manibus generi moriturum, uolens euitare periculum, conscensis nauibus in Argos uenit.... Ægistus autem, quod spretus esset indignans, ut illum sequerentur filiis imperauit, lege data ut nunquam domum repeterent, ni prius Danaum occidissent. Qui cum apud Argos oppugnarent patruum, ab eo diffidente fraude capti sunt. Spopondit enim se illis iuxta Ægisti uotum filias daturum in coniuges, nec defuit promisso fides. Subornatae enim a patre uirorum intrauere thalamos singulis cultris clam armatae omnes, et cum uino laetitiaque calentes iuuenes facile in soporem iuissent, obedientes patri uirgines, captato tempore iugulauerunt uiros, unaquaeque suum, Hypermestra excepta, quae Lino seu Linceo uiro suo miserta pepercit.' We may note, by the way, that Chaucer's spelling Hypermistre is nearer to Boccaccio's Hypermestra than to the form in Ovid.

§ 9. Gower's Confessio Amantis. The relationship of {xli}Gower's Confessio Amantis to Chaucer's Legend has been investigated by Bech; in Anglia, v. 365-371. His conclusion is, that the passages in Gower which resemble Chaucer are only three at most; and I am here concerned to shew that, in two of these, the supposed resemblance is delusive.

1. In Gower's introduction, at the very beginning, ed. Pauli, i.4, we are told that, but for books, the renown of many excellent people would be lost. This seems to be copied from Chaucer's Prologue to the Legend, ll. 17-28. I have no doubt that such is the case; but we must be careful to remember that these lines by Gower form part of the prologue to his second edition, and were not written till 1393; by which time Chaucer's lines were common property, and could be imitated by any one who chose to do it; so we really learn nothing at all from this comparison.

2. In Gower, i. 45-48, there is a passage which bears some resemblance to Chaucer's Prologue to the Legend. But if it be considered impartially, I believe it will be found that the resemblance is too vague to be of any value, and cannot be relied upon. We really must not set much store by such generalities as the mention of the month of May; the address of the poet to Cupid and Venus; the wrathful aspect of Cupid; and the graciousness of Venus, who bids him disclose his malady and shrive himself. If Gower could not 'invent' such common poetical talk, he had small business to write at all. I would rather conclude, that Gower had no opportunity of seeing Chaucer's poem till somewhat later; for it is a striking fact, that, whereas Gower seized the opportunity of copying some of Chaucer's phrases in the Tale of Constance (see this discussed at p. 415), he tells several of Chaucer's Legends, such as those of Thisbe, Dido, Medea, Lucrece, Ariadne, Philomela, and Phyllis in a wholly independent manner; and, when telling the tale of Alcestis (iii. 149), he had no idea that she was ever transformed into a daisy. Moreover, if he had been able to refer to the Legend, l. 1355-6, he would hardly have translated 'Maeandri' by 'king Menander' (ii. 5).

Without hesitation, I dismiss these alleged resemblances as trifling, and the deduction from them as misleading.

3. But when we come to the very end of Gower's work (iii. 357-367), the case is entirely altered, and the resemblances are striking and irrefragable. This is best seen by comparing the whole passage. Gower is in the midst of lamenting his old age, {xlii}a subject to which he afterwards returns, when he suddenly introduces a digression, in which he sees

'Cupide with his bowe bent;

And, like unto a parlement

Which were ordeined for the nones,

With him cam al the world atones

Of gentil folk, that whilom were

Lovers; I sigh hem alle there'....

'Garlondes, nought of o colour,

Some of the lefe, som of the flour,

And some of grete perles were.'

After which we are introduced to Tristram and Isolde, Jason and Hercules, Theseus and Phedra, Troilus and Criseide and Diomede, Pyramus, Dido, Phyllis, Adriane, Cleopatra, Tisbe, Progne and Philomene and Tereus, Lucrece, Alcestis; and even Ceyx and Alcyone (cf. Chaucer's youthful poem). The matter is put beyond doubt by Gower's adoption of Chaucer's peculiar account of Cleopatra's death, as already noted above; see p. xxxvii.

The conclusion to be drawn from these facts is obvious. We see that, in the year 1385, Gower had almost completed his long poem, and communicated the fact to his friend Chaucer; and Chaucer, in return, told him of the new poem (the Legend) upon which he was then himself engaged, so planned as to contain nineteen tales or sections, and likely to extend to some 6,000 lines. Moreover, it was written in a new metre, such as no Englishman had ever employed before. Gower was allowed to see the MS. and to read a considerable portion of it. He was so struck with it as to make room for some remarks about it; and even went out of his way to introduce a personal reference to his friend. He makes Venus say to himself (iii. 374):—

'And grete wel Chaucer, whan ye mete,

As my disciple and my poete....

Forthy now, in his dayes olde[40],

Thou shall telle him this message,

That he, upon his later age[40],

{xliii}To sette an ende of alle his werke,

As he, which is myn owne clerke,

Do make his testament of love,

(As thou hast do thy shrift above),

So that my court it may recorde.'

That is to say, Chaucer, being the poet of Venus, is to make his testament of love, or final declaration concerning love, in a form suitable for being recorded in the court of the goddess. This 'testament' is, of course, the Legend of Good Women, in which the martyrs of love are duly recorded; and their stories, written at the command of Cupid and by way of penance for what he had missaid against women, were to be placed to the good side of the author's account with Venus and her son. Moreover, they were finally to be sent in to the visible representative of the court of Love, viz. to the queen of England and her court.

It is interesting to observe that Gower, like Chaucer himself at the moment, regarded this poem as the crowning effort of Chaucer's poetical career. Neither of them had, at the time, any suspicion that Chaucer would, after all, 'sette an ende of alle his werke' in a very different manner. We may thus confidently date the first edition of Gower's Confessio Amantis in the year 1385, before the Legend of Hypermnestra was abandoned in the middle of a sentence. The date of the second edition of the same is 1393; and it is a great help to have these dates thus settled.

§ 10. Metre. The most interesting point about this poem is that it is the first of the 'third period' of Chaucer's literary work. Here, for the first time, he writes a series of tales, to which he prefixes a prologue; he adopts a new style, in which he seeks to delineate characters; and, at the same time, he introduces a new metre, previously unknown to English writers, but now famous as 'the heroic couplet.' In all these respects, the Legend is evidently the forerunner of the Canterbury Tales, and we see how he was gradually, yet unconsciously, preparing himself for that supreme work. In two notable respects, as Ten Brink remarks, the Legend is inferior to the Tales. The various legends composing it are merely grouped together, not joined by connecting links which afford an agreeable relief. And again, the Prologue to the Legend is mere allegory, whilst the famous Prologue to the Tales is full of real life and dramatic sketches of character.


Chaucer had already introduced the seven-line stanza, unknown to his predecessors—the earliest example being the Compleint unto Pite—as well as the eight-line stanza, employed in his earliest extant poem, the A. B. C. For the hint as to this form of verse, he was doubtless indebted in the first instance to French poets, such as Guillaume de Machault, though he afterwards conformed his lines, as regarded their cadence and general laws, to those of Boccaccio and Dante[41].

The idea of the heroic couplet was also, I suppose, taken from French; we find it in a Complainte written by Machault about 1356-8 (see below, p. 383); but here, again, Chaucer's melody has rather the Italian than the French character. The lines in Froissart's poem on the Daisy (p. xxxi) are of the same length, but rime together in groups of seven lines at a time, separated by short lines having two accents only. Boccaccio's favourite stanza in the Teseide, known as the ottava rima, ends with two lines that form an heroic couplet[42].

§ 11. 'Clipped' Lines. It ought to be clearly understood that the introduction of the new metre was quite an experiment, for which Chaucer himself offers some apology when he makes the God of Love say expressly: 'Make the metres of hem as thee leste' (l. 562). Hence it was that he introduced into the line a variety which is now held to be inadmissible; though we must not forget that even so great a master of melody as Tennyson, after beginning his 'Vision of Sin' with lines of normal length, begins the second portion of it with the lines:—

'Then methought I heard a hollow sound

Gathering up from all the lower ground;

Narrowing in to where they sat assembled,

Low voluptuous music winding trembled,' &c.


It is precisely this variation that Chaucer sometimes allowed himself, and it is easy to see how it came to pass.

In lines of a shorter type we constantly find a similar variation. There are a large number of 'clipped' lines in the House of Fame. Practically, their first foot consists of a single syllable, and they may be scanned accordingly, by marking off that syllable at the beginning. Thus, ll. 2117-2120 run thus:—

'And leet | hem gon. Ther might' I seen

Weng | ed wondres faste fleen,

Twent | ty thousand in a route,

As E | olus hem blew aboute.'

This variation is still admissible, and is, of course, common enough in such poems as Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso. It is considered a beauty.

The introduction of two more syllables in lines of the above type gives us a similar variation in the longer line. If, for example, after the word thousand in the third of the above lines, we introduce the word freres (dissyllabic), we obtain the line:—

'Twen | ty thousand freres in a route.'

It is a remarkable fact, that this very line actually occurs in the Canterbury Tales (Group D, 1695); as I have pointed out in the note to l. 2119 of the House of Fame, at p. 286 below. Persistent efforts have often been made to deny this fact, to declare it 'impossible,' and to deride me for having pointed it out (as I did in 1866, in Morris's edition of Chaucer, i. 174); but I believe that the fact is now pretty generally admitted. It is none the less necessary to say here, that there is rather a large number of such lines in the Legend of Good Women; precisely as we might expect to find in a metre which was, in fact, a new experiment. As it is advisable to present the evidence rather fully, I here cite several of these lines, marking off the first syllable in the right way:—

'That | of all' the flour-es in the med-e'; 41.

'Suf | fisaunt this flour to preys' aright'; 67.

'Of | this flour, when that it shuld unclos-e'; 111.

'Mad' | her lyk a daisie for to sen-e'; 224.

'Half | hir beautee shulde men nat fynd-e'; 245.

'With | the whyt-e coroun, clad in gren-e'; 303.

'Mai | dens been y-kept, for Ielosy-e'; 722.

'For | to met' in o plac' at o tyd-e'; 783.

'With | her fac' y-wimpled subtilly'; 797.

{xlvi}'Both | e with her hert' and with her y-ën'; 859.

'Bet | ing with his hel-es on the ground-e'; 863.

'We | that wer-en whylom children your-e'; 901.

'Been | as trew' and loving as a man'; 911.

'Had | den in this temple been ov'r-al'; 1024.

'We | that wer-en in prosperitee'; 1030.

'Lyk | ed him the bet, as, god do bot-e'; 1076.

'Lov' | wol lov', for no wight wol hit wond-e'; 1187.

'Send' | her lettres, tokens, broches, ring-es'; 1275.

'Mer | cy, lord! hav' pitè in your thoght'; 1324.

'Twen | ty tym' y-swowned hath she than-ne'; 1342.

'With | her meynee, end-e-long the strond-e'; 1498.

'Yift | es gret', and to her officeres'; 1551.

'Fad | er, moder, husbond, al y-fer-e'; 1828.

'Fight | en with this fend, and him defend-e'; 1996.

'Tell | en al his doing to and fro'; 2471.

'Y | permistra, yongest of hem all-e'; 2575.

It is worth notice that they become scarcer towards the end of the poem. For all that, Chaucer regarded this form of the line as an admissible variety, and Hoccleve and Lydgate followed him in this peculiarity. The practice of Hoccleve and Lydgate is entirely ignored by those to whom it is convenient to ignore it. Perhaps they do not understand it. The usual argument of those who wish to regulate Chaucer's verse according to their own preconceived ideas, is to exclaim against the badness of the MSS. and the stupidity of the scribes. This was tolerably safe before Dr. Furnivall printed his valuable and exact copies of the MSS., but is less safe now. We now have twelve MSS. (some imperfect) in type, besides a copy of Thynne's first edition of the poem in 1532, making thirteen authorities in all. Now, as far as this particular matter is concerned, the chief MSS. shew a wonderful unanimity. In ll. 41, 111, 224, 722, 797, 901, 911, 1076, 1187, 1996, there is no variation that affects the scansion. And this means a great deal more than it seems to do at first sight. For the scribes of MSS. A. and T. evidently did not like these lines, and sometimes attempted emendations with all the hardihood of modern editors. The fact that the scribes are unwilling witnesses, with a tendency to corrupt the evidence, makes their testimony upon this point all the stronger. Added to which, I here admit that, wherever there seemed to be sufficient evidence, I have so far yielded to popular prejudice as to receive the suggested emendation. I now leave this matter to the consideration of the unprejudiced reader; merely observing, that I believe a considerable {xlvii}number of lines in the Canterbury Tales have been 'emended' in order to get rid of lines of this character, solely on the strength of the Harleian MS., the scribe of which kept a keen look-out, with a view to the suppression of this eccentricity on the part of his author. To give him much encouragement seems inconsistent with strict morality.

The introduction (ll. 249-269) of a Balade of twenty-one lines makes every succeeding couplet end with a line denoted by an odd number. The whole number of lines is 2,723. Dr. Furnivall was the first person who succeeded in counting their number correctly.

§ 12. Description of the Manuscripts. The MSS. easily fall into two distinct classes, and may be separated by merely observing the reading of l. 1396: see note to that line. MSS. C., T., A. here read Guido or Guydo; whilst MSS. F., Tn., B. read Ouyde. MS. P. is here deficient, but commonly agrees with the former class. Those of the same class will be described together. Besides this, MS. C. is, as regards the Prologue only, unique of its kind; and is throughout of the highest authority, notwithstanding some unpleasant peculiarities of spelling. It is necessary to pay special attention to it.

The list of the MSS. (including Thynne's edition) is as follows:—

A.—Arch. Selden B. 24; Bodleian Library (First class).

Add.—Additional 9832; British Museum (First class).

Additional 12524; British Museum (First class).

B.—Bodley 638; Bodleian Library (Second class).

C.—Cambridge Univ. Library, Gg. 4. 27 (First class).

F.—Fairfax 16; Bodleian Library (Second class).

P.—Pepys 2006; Magd. Coll., Cambridge (First class).

T.—Trinity College, Cambridge, R. 3. 19 (First class).

Th.—Thynne's edition, pr. in 1532 (Second class?).

Tn.—Tanner 346; Bodleian Library (Second class).

α.—Additional 28617; British Museum (First class); but only a fragment, viz. ll. 513-610, 808-1105, 1306-1801, 1852-2110, 2125-2135, 2151-2723.

β.—Cambridge Univ. Library, Ff. 1. 6 (Thisbe only).

γ.—Rawlinson C. 86; Bodleian Library (Dido only).

They may be thus described.

C. (Camb. Univ. Lib. Gg. 4. 27) is the famous Cambridge MS., {xlviii}containing the Canterbury Tales, denoted by the symbol 'Cm.' in the footnotes to vol. iv (i.e. throughout the Canterbury Tales); also by the symbol 'Gg.' in vol. i., i.e. in the Minor Poems; see p. 49 of the Introduction to vol. i. It also contains some other pieces by Chaucer, viz. the A. B. C., Envoy to Scogan, Truth, Troilus, and the Parlement of Foules. It is of early date, and altogether the oldest, best, and most important of the existing copies of the Legend. I shall call all those that resemble it MSS. of the first class.

Its great peculiarity is that it possesses the unique copy of the early draught of the Prologue; see p. xxi. Upon comparison of it with the Fairfax MS. (the best MS. of the second class), it is found to offer slight differences in many places throughout the various Legends, besides presenting large differences throughout the Prologue. The variations are frequently for the better, and it becomes clear that the first class of MSS. is of an older type. The second class is of a later type, and differs in two ways, in one way for the worse, and in another way for the better. In the former respect, it presents corrupted or inferior readings in several passages; whilst, on the other hand, it presents corrections that are real improvements, and may have been due to revision. No doubt there was once in existence a correct edition of the revised text, but no existing MS. represents it. We can, however, practically reconstruct it by a careful collation of MS. C. with MS. F.; and this I have attempted to do. Throughout the Prologue, I take MS. C. as the basis of the 'A-text,' correcting its eccentricities of spelling, but recording them in footnotes wherever the variation is at all important; such a variation as hym for him, or yt for hit, I regard as being of no value. At the same time, I take MS. F. as the basis of the B-text, and correct it, where necessary, by collation with the rest. Throughout the Legends themselves, I take MS. F. as the basis of the text, collating it with C. throughout, so that the text really depends on a comparison of these MSS.; if MS. C. had been made the basis, the result would have been much the same. It was convenient to take F. as the basis, because it agrees, very nearly, with all previous editions of the poem. Unfortunately, leaf 469 of MS. C. has been cut out of it; and, in consequence, ll. 1836-1907 are missing. The scribe has missed ll. 1922, 1923, 2506, 2507, in the process of copying.


Addit. 9832. This is an imperfect MS., ending at l. 1985, no more leaves of the MS. being left after that line. Besides this, the scribe has omitted several lines, viz. ll. 166, 233, 234, 332, 333, 351, 865-872, 960, 961, 1255, 1517, 1744-1746, 1783, 1895, 1945. It belongs to the first class of the MSS., but is an unsatisfactory copy, and I have not fully collated it. It confirms, however, several of the readings of this edition, as distinguished from former editions.

Addit. 12524. This also is only a fragment. The first leaf begins at l. 1640 of the poem, from which point it is complete to the end, though ll. 2454-2461 are partially effaced. It belongs to the first class of MSS., but is a late copy, and I have not fully collated it. It confirms several of my readings.

T.—MS. Trin. Coll. Cam. R. 3. 19. Denoted by the symbol 'Trin.' in my edition of the Minor Poems, and described in vol. i., Introd. p. 56. It is of rather late date, about 1500, but belongs to the first class of MSS. The scribe has omitted the following lines, viz. 233, 234, 332, 333, 489, 960, 961, 1627, 2202, 2203, 2287-2292, and 2569.

A.—MS. Arch. Selden B. 24 (Bodley). Denoted by the symbol 'Ar.' in my edition of the Minor Poems, and described in vol. i., Introd. p. 54. A Scottish copy, written about 1472. It belongs to the first class of MSS., but the Scottish scribe sometimes takes liberties, and gives us a reading of his own. For example, l. 714 becomes:—'As in grete townis the maner is and wone.' But its readings, on the whole, are good. It alone preserves the word 'almychti' in l. 1538, which in all the rest is too short; this may not have been the original reading, but it gives a fair line, and furnishes as good an emendation as we are likely to get. The scribe has omitted ll. 860, 861, 960, 961, 1568-1571, 2226, and 2227; besides which, one leaf of the MS. is missing, causing the loss of ll. 2551-2616.

P.—Pepys 2006, Magd. Coll., Cambridge. Denoted by 'P.' in my edition of the Minor Poems, of which it contains ten. It belongs, on the whole, to the first class of MSS. The scribe has omitted ll. 232, 437, 623, and 1275. Besides this, it has lost at least one leaf, causing the complete loss of ll. 706-776, whilst ll. 777-845 are in a different handwriting. At l. 1377 it breaks off altogether, so that it is only a fragment. It gives l. 1377 in the following extraordinary form:—'And thow wer not fals to oon, {l}but thow wer fals to twoo'; giving six feet at least to the line, and a syllable over.

α.—Addit. 28617. A fair MS., but only a fragment, as already noted (p. xlvii). It confirms many of my readings; as, e.g., in ll. 1995, 2019, 2020, 2199, &c. It varies in l. 1999, but gives there an excellent reading:—That is nat derk, and ther is roum and space.

β.—Camb. Univ. Library, Ff. 1. 6. Contains the Legend of Thisbe only. A late and poor MS., of small account.

γ.—Rawl. C. 86 (Bodleian Library). Contains the Legend of Dido only. A poor text, with many errors. Yet it seems to be of the first class, and preserves ll. 960-1. It confirms my readings of ll. 1048, 1074, 1079, 1139, 1144, 1159, 1174, 1195, 1196, 1215, 1366.

F.—Fairfax 16 (Bodleian Library). This is the valuable MS. which contains so many of the Minor Poems. It is described in my Introd. to the Minor Poems; vol. i. p. 51. I have taken it as the basis of the edition, though it was necessary to correct it in all the places where the MSS. of the first class have better readings. It is the best MS. of the second class, and Bell's edition does little more than follow it, almost too faithfully, though the editor professes to have collated with it the MS. A. described above. The same text, in the main, reappears in the editions by Thynne, Morris, Corson, Gilman. The scribe is careless, and frequently leaves out essential words; he also omits ll. 249, 487, 846, 960, 961, 1490[43], 1643, 1693, 1998, part of 2150, 2151, 2152, part of 2153[44], 2193, 2338 (in place of which a spurious line is inserted in a wrong place), and 2475. Besides this, the scribe often ruins the scansion of a line by omitting an essential word in it, as has already been mentioned. Thus in l. 614, he drops the word for, which occurs in all the other MSS. The scribe often wrongly adds or omits a final e, and is too fond of substituting y for i in such words as him, king. When these variations are allowed for, the spelling of the MS. is, for the most part, clear and satisfactory, and a fair guide to the right pronunciation. Rejected spellings are given in footnotes as far as l. 924; after which I have made such alterations as are purely trivial without giving notice. Even in ll. 1-924 I have changed hym into him, and kyng into king; {li}and, conversely, strif into stryf, (where the y denotes that the vowel is long), without hesitation and without recording the change. My text is, in fact, spelt phonetically; and, after all, the test of a text of Chaucer is to read it with the Middle-English pronunciation as given by Dr. Sweet in his Second Middle-English Primer, and to observe whether the result is perfectly in accord with the flowing melody so manifest in the Canterbury Tales.

B.—Bodley 638. Closely related to MS. F., and almost a duplicate of it, both being derived from a common source. B. is sometimes right where F. is wrong; thus in l. 1196 it has houyn, where F. has heuen. See Introd. to the Minor Poems, vol. i. p. 53. Of course this MS. belongs, like F., to the second class. It preserves l. 1693 (missing in F.); otherwise it omits all the lines that are omitted in F., as well as ll. 157, 262, 623, 1345, 1866; all of which F. retains. Like F., it has a spurious line in place of l. 2338.

Tn.—Tanner 346 (Bodley). This is a MS. of the second class, strongly resembling F.; see Introd. to the Minor Poems, vol. i. p. 54. It preserves ll. 1693, 2193, 2475; otherwise it omits all the lines omitted in F., as well as the latter half of l. 1378 and the former half of l. 1379. It has a spurious line in place of l. 2338. It is clear that F., B., and Tn. are all from a common source, which was an older MS. not now known.

§ 13. Description of the Printed Editions. Th.—Thynne's edition; A.D. 1532. This follows, mainly, the MSS. of the second class; its alliance with F., B., and Tn. is shewn by its containing the spurious form of l. 2338. But it gives the genuine form also, so that in this place three lines rime together. It is more complete than any of those MSS., preserving the lines which they omit (excepting ll. 960, 961), save that it omits ll. 1326, 1327 (doubtless by oversight), which are found in these three MSS., and indeed in all the copies. Probably Thynne used more than one MS., as he sometimes agrees with the MSS. of the first class. Thus, in l. 1163, he reads vpreysed had, as in C., T., A., P., instead of vp-reyseth hath, as in F., Tn., B. He might, however, have corrected this by the light of nature. In ll. 1902, 1923, Thynne alone gives the right reading Alcathoe; unfortunately, both these lines are missing in MS. C. The chief faults of Thynne's edition are its omission of ll. 960, 961, 1326, 1327, and its spurious l. 2338. Thynne was also unfortunate in following, in general, the authority of a MS. of the second class.


Some later editions.—Later editions appeared in the collected editions of Chaucer's Works, viz. in 1542, (about) 1550, 1561, 1598, 1602, 1687; after which came Urry's useless edition of 1721. Excepting the last, I suppose the editions are all mere reprints; each being worse than its predecessor, as is almost always the case. At any rate, the edition of 1561 is a close reprint of Thynne, with a few later spellings, such as guide in place of Thynne's gyde in l. 969. This edition of course omits ll. 960, 961, 1326, 1327; and gives the spurious l. 2338.

According to Lowndes, other later editions of Chaucer's Works are the following:—Edinburgh, 1777; 18mo. 12 vols.—Edinburgh, 1782; 12mo. 14 vols.—In Anderson's British Poets, Edinburgh, 1793-1807; royal 8vo. 13 vols.—In Cooke's British Poets, London, 1798, &c., 18mo. 80 parts.—In Chalmers' English Poets, London, 1810; royal 8vo. 21 vols. I suppose that all of these are mere reprints; such is certainly the case with the edition by Chalmers, which merely reproduces Tyrwhitt's edition of the Canterbury Tales, and follows 'the black-letter editions' throughout the other poems. The same remark applies to the edition printed by Moxon in 1855, and attributed to Tyrwhitt as editor.

Other editions are those by S. W. Singer, London, 1822, fcp. 8vo. 5 vols.; by Sir H. Nicolas (in the Aldine edition of English Poets), London, 1845, post 8vo. 6 vols.; and by Robert Bell, London, 1855, 12mo. 8 vols. The last was really edited by Mr. Jephson.

Bell's (so-called) edition was conveniently reprinted in four volumes, in Bohn's Standard Library; a revised edition of this was published in 1878, with a Preliminary Essay by myself. Of the Legend of Good Women, the editor (Mr. Jephson) remarks that 'the text of the present edition is founded upon a careful collation of the MS. Fairfax 16, in the Bodleian Library, and MS. Arch. Seld. B. 24'; i.e. upon a collation of F. with A. It gives us the text of MS. F., with the missing lines supplied from Thynne or from MS. A. It omits ll. 960, 961, and inserts ll. 1326, 1327 in the wrong place, viz. after l. 1329. At l. 2338, it gives both the correct and the spurious forms of the line; so that here (as in Thynne) three lines rime together. In l. 2150-3, the same confusion occurs as is noticed below, in the account of Morris's edition. The chief gain in this edition is that it has a few explanatory notes. Of these I have freely availed myself, marking them with the word 'Bell' whenever I quote them exactly; though {liii}they were really written, as I am told, by Mr. Jephson, whose name nowhere appears, except at p. 12 of my Essay, as prefixed to the revised edition.

The Aldine edition was reprinted in 1866, on which occasion it was edited by Dr. Morris. With respect to the Legend of Good Women, Dr. Morris says that it is copied from MS. F., collated with MSS. A., C. (privately printed at Cambridge by Mr. H. Bradshaw, 1864), and MSS. Addit. 9832 and 12524. In this edition, variations from the MS. (F.) are denoted by italic letters, but such variations are very few. Practically, we here find a correct print of MS. F., with most of the missing lines supplied by collation, and with very few corrections. Lines 960, 961 are, however, still omitted, though found in MS. C.; but ll. 1326, 1327 (also omitted by Thynne) are duly given, being found, in fact, in MS. F. At l. 2338, the correct line is given, but the spurious line is also retained; so that (as in Thynne) three lines here rime together. In the former part of l. 2153, a part of l. 2150 is repeated, giving us by instead of eek; the fact is that the scribe slipped from gayler in l. 2150 to gayler in l. 2153, omitting all that came between these words. Nothing is said about the interesting form of the Prologue as existing in MS. C. There are no explanatory notes.

Besides the English editions, two editions of the Legend of Good Women have appeared in America, which demand some notice.

Of these, the former is a very handy edition of the Legend of Good Women, published separately for the first time, and edited by Professor Hiram Corson. The text is that of Bell's edition; but the explanatory notes are fuller and better, and I have carefully consulted them. At the end is an Index of all the words explained, which really serves the purpose of a glossary. This is certainly the best edition I have met with.

The other edition is that of Chaucer's Works, edited by Arthur Gilman, and published at Boston in 1879, in three volumes. The Legend of Good Women occurs in vol. iii. pp. 79-183. The harder words are explained in footnotes, and there are just a few notes on the subject-matter. The chief point in this edition is that the editor quotes some of the more remarkable variations in the Prologue from MS. C., which he says is 'evidently an earlier one than the one followed in the text, Fairfax 16, in {liv}the Bodleian Library, Oxford.' Yet his text is a mere reprint from that of Morris; it omits ll. 960, 961, and gives l. 2338 both in its correct and in its spurious form. Consequently, it contains 2722 lines instead of 2723. The true number of lines is odd, because of the Balade of 21 lines at l. 249.

The net result is this; that none of the editions are complete, and they are all much the same. After twenty editions, we are left almost where we started at first. Thynne's edition was founded on a MS. very closely resembling F., but more complete; still it omits four lines, and gives l. 2338 twice over, in different forms. The same is true of all the numerous reprints from it. Bell's edition restores ll. 1326, 1327, but in the wrong place; whilst Morris's edition restores them in the right place. These lines actually occur in MS. F. (in the right place), and could hardly have been unnoticed in collating the proofs with the MS. These editions are both supposed to be collated with MS. A. at least, but the results of such collation are practically nil, as that MS. was merely consulted to supply missing lines. The editors practically ignore the readings of that MS., except where F. is imperfect. Hence they did not discover that MS. A. belongs to a different class of MSS., and that it frequently gives earlier and better readings. But even A. omits ll. 960, 961, though it also rightly suppresses the spurious form of l. 2338.

§ 14. Some Improvements in my Edition of 1889. No real advance towards a better text was made till Dr. Furnivall brought out, for the Chaucer Society, his valuable and exact prints of the manuscripts themselves. This splendid and important work gives the texts in extenso of all the MSS. above mentioned, viz. MSS. C., F., Tn., T., A., and Th. (Thynne's ed.) in the 'Parallel-Text edition of Chaucer's Minor Poems,' Part III; MSS. B., Addit. 9832, P., and Addit. 12524, in the 'Supplementary Parallel-Texts,' Part II; and MSS. α, β, γ, in 'Odd Texts,' 1880. But for the invaluable help thus rendered, the edition of 1889 would never have been undertaken, and I should never have attained to so clear an understanding of the text. I have already said that Dr. Furnivall was the first person who succeeded in numbering the lines of the poem correctly; indeed, most editions have no numbering at all.

I have not thought it necessary to encumber the pages with wholly inferior readings that are of no value, but I have carefully {lv}collated the best MSS., viz. C., F., Tn., T., A., B., and sometimes P., besides keeping an eye upon Th., i.e. Thynne's edition. I thus was enabled to see the true state of the case, viz. that the MSS. of the first class (C., T., A., P., Addit. 9832, 12524, and 28617) have been practically neglected altogether; whilst, of the MSS. &c. of the second class (F., Tn., B., Th.), only F. and Th. have received sufficient attention. It is now abundantly clear that the best authorities are C. and F., as being of different classes, and that the right plan is to consult these first, and then to see how the other MSS. support them. A long list of important emendations, and an exposure of the extreme inaccuracy of most of the previous editions, will be found in the Introduction to my edition of 1889, and need not be repeated here.

§ 15. Conclusion. In conclusion, I may mention the Poem in MS. Ashmole 59, entitled 'The Cronycle made by Chaucier. ¶ Here nowe folowe the names of the nyene worshipfullest Ladyes ... by Chaucier.' It is a poor production, perhaps written by Shirley, and merely gives a short epitome of the contents of the Legend of Good Women. The words 'by Chaucier' refer to Chaucer's authorship of the Legend only, and not to the authorship of the epitome, which, though of some interest, is practically worthless. The author makes the odd mistake of confusing the story of Alcestis with that of Ceyx and Alcyone in the Book of the Duchesse (62-230). This 'Cronycle' was printed by Dr. Furnivall in his Odd-texts of Chaucer's Minor Poems, Part i.

I have now only to record my indebtedness to others, especially to Dr. Furnivall for his invaluable prints in the Parallel-Texts; to the excellent essay by M. Bech, in vol. v. of Anglia[45]; to Mr. Jephson for his notes in 'Bell's' edition; and to the notes in the edition by Professor Corson. Also to Professor Ten Brink, the second part of whose second volume of the Geschichte der englischen Litteratur has just appeared (1893).


Note.—If the reader finds the two forms of the Prologue troublesome, he has only to confine his attention to the 'B-text,' in the lower part of pp. 65-105. The text agrees with that usually given, and contains 579 lines. The first line of 'Cleopatra' is l. 580, the numbering being continuous. Besides this, the lines of each Legend are given separately, within marks of parenthesis. Thus l. 589 is the 10th line of 'Cleopatra'; and so in other cases.

I here subjoin an Additional Note to lines 1896-8.

At p. xxxix. above (footnote no. 2), I give Bech's reference to Godfrey of Viterbo. The passage runs thus:—

'De Ioue primo rege Atheniensi.

A Ioue nostrorum uenit generatio regum,

A Ioue principium recipit descriptio regum,

A Ioue philosophi dogmata prima legunt.

Rex erat ex rege quondam patre natus Athenis,

Indeque quadriuii triuiique scientia uenit;

Legis et artis ibi rex ydioma dedit.'



§ 1. Description of the MSS. The existing MSS. of the 'Astrolabe' are still numerous. I have been successful in finding no less than twenty-two, which I here describe. It is remarkable that, although many printed editions of the treatise have appeared, no first-class MS. has ever hitherto come under the notice of any one of the various editors. This point will appear more clearly hereafter.

§ 2. A.—MS. Dd. 3. 53 (part 2) in the Cambridge University Library. The 'Treatise on the Astrolabie' begins at fol. 212 of the MS. considered as a whole, but the folios are now properly renumbered throughout the treatise. The MS. is of vellum, and the writing clear and good, with a great number of neatly drawn diagrams, which appear wherever the words 'lo here thi figure' occur in the text. This MS. I have made the basis of the text, and it is followed with sufficient exactness, except when notice to the contrary is given in the Critical Notes.

This MS. is of considerable importance. The handwriting exactly resembles that in MS. B., and a comparison of these MSS. leads to the following results. It appears that MSS. A. and B. were written out by the same scribe, nearly at the same time. The peculiarities of spelling, particularly those which are faulty, are the same in both in a great many instances. It is also clear that the said scribe had but a very dim notion of what he was writing, and committed just such blunders as are described in {lviii}Chaucer's Lines to Adam Scriveyn, and are there attributed to 'negligence and rape[46].' It is still more interesting to observe that Chaucer tells us that he had to amend his MSS. by 'rubbing and scraping' with his own hand; for MS. A. and B. differ precisely in this point, viz. that while the latter is left uncorrected, the former has been diligently 'rubbed and scraped' by the hand of a corrector who well knew what he was doing, and the right letters have been inserted in the right places over the erasures. These inserted letters are in the hand of a second scribe who was a better writer than the first, and who was entrusted with the task of drawing the diagrams. The two hands are contemporaneous, as appears from the additions to the diagrams made by the writer of the text. Unfortunately, there are still a good many errors left. This is because the blunders were so numerous as to beguile the corrector into passing over some of them. When, for example, the scribe, having to write 'lo here thy figure' at the end of nearly every section, took the trouble to write the last word 'vigure' or 'vigour' in nearly every instance, we are not surprised to find that, in a few places, the word has escaped correction. It further appears that some of the later sections, particularly sections 39 and 40, have not been properly revised; the corrector may very well have become a little tired of his task by the time he arrived at them. It must also be remembered, that such blunders as are made by a scribe who is not clear as to the meaning of his subject-matter are by no means the blunders which are most puzzling or most misleading; they are obvious at once as evident blotches, and the general impression left upon the mind by the perusal of this MS. is—that a careless scribe copied it from some almost perfect original, and that his errors were partially corrected by an intelligent corrector (possibly the author), who grew tired of his task just towards the end.

The order of the Conclusions in Part ii. differs from that in all the editions hitherto printed, and the MS. terminates abruptly in the middle of a sentence, at the words 'howre after howre' in Conclusion 40 (p. 223). A portion of the page of the MS. below these words is left blank, though the colophon 'Explicit tractatus,' &c. was added at the bottom of the page at a later period.


Certain allusions in the former part of the MS. render it probable that it was written in London, about the year 1400.

§ 3. B.—MS. E Museo 54, in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. This is an uncorrected duplicate of the preceding, as has been explained, and ends in the same way, at the words 'howre after howre,' followed by a blank space. The chief addition is the rubricated title—'Bred and mylk For childeren,' boldly written at the beginning; in the margin are the following notes in a late hand—'Sir Jiffray Chaucer'—'Dominus Gaufredus Chaucerus'—'Galfredi Chauceri Tractatus de Ratione et vsu Astrolabij ad Ludouicum filium.'

§ 4. C.—MS. Rawlinson, Misc. 1262, otherwise 1370 (leaves 22-42), in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

This is a beautifully written MS., on vellum, with 38 pages of text, and 4 blank pages. It has the Conclusions in the same order as the preceding, six well-executed diagrams, and corrections on nearly every page. It is of early date, perhaps about A.D. 1420, and of considerable importance. It agrees closely with the text, and, like it, ends with 'howre after howre.' Some variations of spelling are to be found in the Critical Notes. In this MS. the Conclusions are numbered in the margin, and the numbers agree with those adopted in this edition.

§ 5. D.—MS. Ashmole 391, in the Bodleian Library. I have made but little use of this MS., on account of its being very imperfect.

§ 6. E.—MS. Bodley 619. This MS., like B., has the title—'Brede and Milke for children.' Like other good MSS., it ends sect. 40 with 'houre after houre.' But after this, there occurs an additional section, probably not genuine, but printed here (for the sake of completeness) as section 46; see p. 229. Cf. § 17.

At fol. 21 is an additional section, not found elsewhere, which is printed in the Notes; see p. 360. This Conclusion has some claims to our notice, because, whether genuine or not, it is translated from Messahala.

§ 7. F.—MS. 424, in the Library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Very imperfect, especially at the beginning, where a large portion has been lost.

The Conclusions follow the right order, as in the best MSS.

§ 8. G.—MS. R. 15, 18, in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge. This is a curious and interesting volume, as it {lx}contains several tracts in English on astrology and astronomy, with tables of stars, &c.

The copy of the 'Astrolabe' in this MS. is not a good one. It ends in Part ii. sect. 34, l. 14. The Conclusions are in the right order, and there are a few diagrams.

§ 9. H.—MS. Sloane 314, British Museum. A late MS. on paper, absurdly said in a note to be in Chaucer's handwriting, whereas it is clearly to be referred to the end of the fifteenth century.

§ 10. I.—MS. Sloane 261. This is an 'edited' MS., having been apparently prepared with a view to publication. Mr. Brae has made considerable use of it, and gives, in his preface, a careful and interesting account of it. He concludes that this MS. was written by Walter Stevins in 1555, and dedicated by him to Edward Earl of Devonshire; and that MS. H. was one of those which Stevins especially consulted, because it contains marginal notes in Stevins' handwriting. The contents of this MS. can be so well ascertained from Mr. Brae's edition that it is unnecessary to say more about it here. The Conclusions are arranged in the same order as in other MSS. that are not of the first class.

§ 11. K.—MS. Rawlinson Misc. 3, in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. On vellum, 49 folios, with rich gold capitals, beautifully ornamented; in a large clear handwriting, with red rubrics. Title—'Astralabium.' Begins—'Lityl lowys my sone,' &c.—and ends—'For þe mone meuyth the contrarie from other planetys. as yn here epicircle. but in none other maner'; see end of Part ii. sect. 35; p. 217. Order of Conclusions in Part ii. as follows; 1-12, 19-21, 13-18, 22-35; as in other late MSS. There are no diagrams, and the MS., though well written, may perhaps be referred to the latter half of the fifteenth century.

§ 12. L.—MS. Additional 23002, British Museum. A fair MS., on vellum, without diagrams; imperfect. See description of MS. R. in § 17. And see the Note on Part ii. sect. 3 (p. 360).

§ 13. M.—MS. E. 2 in the Library of St. John's College, Cambridge. Small MS. on vellum, without diagrams. The leaves have been misplaced, and bound up in a wrong order, but nothing is lost. I have printed from this MS. the last five words of sect. 40; also 41-43, and 41a-42b; besides collating it for the improvement of the text in sect. 44; sect. 45 is missing. I have also been indebted to it for the Latin rubrics to the Conclusions, which {lxi}I have not found elsewhere. Several various readings from this MS. appear in the Critical Notes (pp. 233-241).

§ 14. N.—MS. Digby 72, in the Bodleian Library. From this MS. I have printed the text of sections 44 and 45 (pp. 226-9), but have made little further use of it.

§ 15. O.—MS. Ashmole 360, in the Bodleian Library. Late MS., on paper; former owner's name, Johan Pekeryng; without diagrams. There are evidently some omissions in it. But it includes sections 44 and 45, and I have given various readings from it in those sections (p. 240). It ends at the end of sect. 43a, with the words—'one to twelfe. & sic finis'; see p. 232.

§ 16. P.—MS. Dd. 12. 51 in the Cambridge University Library. Small MS. on vellum; written in the fifteenth century. The text is by no means a bad one, though the spelling is peculiar. Some of the pages are very much rubbed and defaced. I have taken from it some various readings, recorded in the Critical Notes.

One point deserves particular attention. It not only contains the Conclusions of Part ii. in the right order, but continues it without a break to the end of Conclusion 43 (p. 225); at the end of which is the colophon—Explicit tractatus astrolabii.

§ 17. Q.—MS. Ashmole 393, in the Bodleian Library; on paper. Of little importance.

R.—MS. Egerton 2622, in the British Museum. A neat MS., but without diagrams. Contains: Part I. (except 15-23); Part II. §§ 1-12, 19-21, 13-18, 22-35, 41-43, 44, 45; 41a, 41b, 42a, 43a, 42b, 36, 37. Thus it has all the additional sections except 46; but 38-40 are missing. MS. L. contains the same sections in the same order; see § 12.

S.—MS. Addit. 29250. A poor MS., but remarkable for containing the scarce section no. 46; of which there is but one other copy, viz. that in MS. E (§ 6); cf. pp. 240, 241.

T.—MS. Phillipps 11955; at Cheltenham. On vellum; 31 leaves; said to be of the fourteenth century, which is improbable.

U.—MS. Bodley 68. Imperfect; ends at Part ii. § 36.

W.—MS. E Museo 116, in the Bodleian Library. A mere fragment.

X.—A MS. at Brussels, no. 1591. See F. J. Mone, Quellen und Forschungen, (Aachen, 1830); pp. 549-551.

§ 18. Of the above MSS., Mr. Brae describes H., I., and L. only, and does not seem to have made use of any others. Mr. Todd, in {lxii}his Animadversions on Gower and Chaucer, p. 125, enumerates only four MSS., which are plainly A., P., F., and G. The rest seem to have escaped attention.

In addition to the MS. authorities, we have one more source of text, viz. the Editio Princeps, which may be thus described.

Th.—The edition of Chaucer's Works by Wm. Thynne, printed at London by Thomas Godfray in 1532. This is the first edition in which the Treatise on the Astrolabe appeared; it begins at fol. ccxcviii, back. The Conclusions in Part ii. are in the order following, viz. 1-12, 19-21, 13-18, 22-40; after which come 41-43, and 41a-42b. This order does not agree precisely with that in any MS. now extant, with the exception of I., which imitates it. It has some corrupt additions and exhibits many grave errors. All later editions, down to Urry's in 1721, contribute no new information. The few slight alterations which appear in them are such as could have been made without reference to MSS. at all.

§ 19. Remarks on the Classes of the MSS. On comparing the MSS., it at once appears that they do not agree as to the order of the Conclusions in Part ii. The MSS. A., B., C. (which are unquestionably the oldest), as well as E., F., G., and P., adopt the order which appears in this edition, but which has never appeared in any previous edition. In all other editions we find the three sections 19-21 made to precede sections 13-18. Now we might here appeal to authority only, and say that the order in the oldest MSS. ought to be preferred. But it so happens that we can appeal to internal evidence as well, and there are two considerations which shew that the oldest MSS. are certainly correct. These are as follows. In the first place, sect. 18 amounts to finding the degree of the zodiac which souths with any star, and begins with the words 'Set the centre of the sterre upon the lyne meridional'; whilst sect. 19 amounts to finding the degree of the zodiac that rises with any star, and begins with the words 'Set the sentre of the sterre upon the est orisonte.' Clearly, these Conclusions are closely linked together, and one ought to follow the other. But, in all the editions, this continuity is broken. In the second place, the rubric of sect. 21 is—'To knowe for what latitude in any regioun,' &c.; whilst that of sect. 22 is—'To knowe in special the latitude of oure countray,' &c. Clearly, these Conclusions are closely linked, and in their right order. But, in all the editions, this continuity is again broken; and we have {lxiii}this absurd result, viz. that a proposition headed—'To knowe the degrees of the longitudes of fixe sterres' is followed by one headed—'To knowe in special the latitude of oure countray.' Hence we are enabled to draw a line, and to divide the MSS. into two classes; those in which the order of sections is correct, and those in which it has suffered misplacement, the number in each class being much the same. This gives us the following result.

First Class. A., B., C, (probably D.,) E., F., G., P.

Second Class. H., I., K., L., M., N., O., R.; to which add Th.

But this division immediately leads to another very curious result, and that is, a certain lack of authority for sections after the fortieth, which ends on p. 223.

A. ends with an incomplete sentence, in sect. 40, with the words—'howre after howre.' B., C. end exactly at the same place.

E. ends sect. 40 with the same words; and, after this, has only one additional section (46), which is, in my opinion, spurious; especially as it does not appear in Messahala, of which more anon.

D., F., and G. all fail at an earlier point.

In none of the first-class MSS. (excepting P., which terminates with section 43) is there a word about umbra recta or umbra versa.

Even in the second class of MSS., we find H. breaking off at sect. 36, and K. at sect. 35; so that the sections on the umbrae rest only on MSS. I. (obviously an edition, not a transcript), L., M., N., O., P., and R. Putting aside the first of these, as being 'edited,' we have but six left; and in the first four and the last of these we find that the additional Conclusions appear in a certain order, viz. they insert 44 and 45 (on the 'mene mote') between three sections 41-43 on the 'umbrae' and five other sections 41a-42b on the same.

§ 20. The last five sections spurious. This at once suggests two results. The first is, that, as this gives two sets of sections on the 'umbrae,' we can hardly expect both to be genuine; and accordingly, we at once find that the last five of these are mere clumsy repetitions of the first three; for which reason, I unhesitatingly reject the said last five as spurious. This view is strikingly confirmed by MS. P.; for this, the only first-class MS. that is carried on beyond section 40, contains the first three sections on the 'umbrae' only. The second result is, that if the first three sections on the 'umbrae' are to be received, there is {lxiv}good reason why we should consider the possible genuineness of sections 44 and 45 on the 'mene mote,' which rest very nearly on the same authority.

Now the sections on the 'mene mote' have in their favour one strong piece of internal evidence; for the date 1397 is mentioned in them more than once as being the 'root' or epoch from which to reckon. In most cases, the mention of a date 1397 would lead us to attribute the writing in which it occurs to that year or to a later year, but a date fixed on for a 'root' may very well be a prospective one, so that these sections may have been written before 1397; an idea which is supported by the line 'behold whether thy date be more or lasse than the yere 1397'; sect. 44, l. 5. But I suspect the date to be an error for 1387, since that [see Somer in Tyrwhitt's Glossary] was really the 'rote' used by Nicholas Lenne. In either case, I think we may connect these sections with the previous sections written in 1391[47]. Besides which, Chaucer so expressly intimates his acquaintance with the subjects of these sections in the Canterbury Tales[48], that we may the more readily admit them to be really his. There is still less difficulty about admitting the first three sections (41-43) on the 'umbrae,' because we find similar matter in the treatise of Messahala, from which, as will appear, he derived so much. And hence we may readily conclude that, in the second part, the first forty sections, found in the oldest MSS., are certainly genuine, whilst sections 41-43, as well as 44 and 45, have every claim to be considered genuine also. This need not, however, force us to accept the remaining sections, since they may easily have been added by another hand; a circumstance which is rendered the {lxv}more probable by the fact that sections 41a-42b merely repeat 41-43 in a more clumsy form, and by the consideration that, if genuine, they should have occupied their proper place immediately after sect. 43, instead of being separated from the former set. As to sect. 46, I pronounce no decided opinion; there is but little to be said either for or against it, and it is of little consequence.

§ 21. Gap between §§ 40 and 41. But admitting the genuineness of sections 40-45, it at once becomes evident that there are two distinct gaps or breaks in the continuity of the treatise; the first between 40 and 41; and the second between 43 and 44. A little consideration will account for these. Looking at the Canterbury Tales, we observe the very same peculiarity; at certain points there are distinct breaks, and no mending can link the various groups together in a satisfactory manner. This can be accounted for in part by our knowledge of the fact that the poet died before he had completed the proper linking-together of the tales which he had more or less finished; but I think it also shews him to have been a fragmentary worker. To suppose that, upon reaching Conclusion 40, he suddenly turned to the sections upon the 'umbrae,' which are at once more easy to explain, more suitable for a child, and illustrative of a different and more practical use of the Astrolabe, seems to me natural enough; and more probable than to suppose that anything is here lost. For, in fact, it is to the very MSS. that contain sections 41-43 that we are indebted for the last five words of sect. 40, so curiously omitted in the oldest and best MSS.; and this is a direct argument against the supposition of any matter having been here lost.

§ 22. Gap between §§ 43 and 44. The break between sections 43 and 44 may be explained in a totally different manner. In this case, the break indicates a real, not an accidental, gap. I suppose section 43 to have been really the last section of Part ii, and I refer sections 44 and 45 to the Fourth Part of the Treatise, and not to the Second at all[49]. For if we run through the contents of Parts Three and Four (p. 177), we observe that they chiefly involve tables, with reference to one of which we find the words 'upon which table ther folwith a canon,' &c. Now sections 44 and {lxvi}45 exactly answer the description; they are alternative canons, shewing how certain tables may be used. It happens that Conclusion 40 is particularly dependent upon tables. To supply these was partly the object of Part iv—'the whiche ferthe partie in special shal shewen a table of the verray moeving of the mone from houre to houre, every day and in every signe, after thyn almenak; upon which table ther folwith a canon, suffisant to teche as wel the maner of the wyrking of that same conclusioun, as to knowe in oure orizonte with which degree of the zodiac that the mone ariseth in any latitude; and the arising of any planete after his latitude fro the ecliptik lyne.' The opening words of the same Conclusion are—'Knowe by thyn almenak the degree of the ecliptik of any signe in which that the planete is rekned for to be:' (p. 221). This is easily said; but I suppose that it was not so easy in olden times to know off-hand the exact position of a planet. It must have been shewn by tables, and these tables chiefly considered the 'mene mote,' or average motion of the planets, and that only for periods of years. If you wanted the position of a planet at a given hour on a given day, you had to work it out by figures; the rule for which working was called a 'canon.' This very 'canon' is precisely given at length in sect. 44; and sect. 45 is only another way of doing the same thing, or, in other words, is an alternative canon. When all this is fairly and sufficiently considered, we shall find good grounds for supposing that these sections on the 'mene mote' are perfectly genuine, and that they really belong to Part iv. of the Treatise.

I will only add, that the fact of sections 41a-42b being thus placed after a portion of Part iv. is one more indication that they are spurious.

§ 23. Conclusion 40. But it may be objected, as Mr. Brae has fairly objected, that Conclusion 40 itself ought to belong to Part iv. So it ought perhaps, if Chaucer had followed out his own plan. But it is clear from its contents that the Prologue to the 'Astrolabie' was written before the commencement of the treatise itself, and not, as prefaces generally are, afterwards. He was pleased with his son's progress. Little Lewis had asked him if he might learn something about an astrolabe. The father at once sent him a small astrolabe[50] by way of reward, constructed {lxvii}for the latitude of Oxford, and having 45 circles of latitude on the flat disc (see Fig. 5) instead of having 90 such circles, as the best instruments had[51]. This, however, was a 'sufficient' astrolabe for the purpose. But he believes the Latin treatises to be too hard for his son's use, and the Conclusions in them to be too numerous. He therefore proposes to select some of the more important Conclusions, and to turn them into English with such modifications as would render them easier for a child to understand, He then lays down a table of contents of his proposed five parts, throughout which he employs the future tense, as 'the firste partie shal reherse,'—'the second partie shal teche,' &c. This use of the future would not alone prove much, but taken in connexion with the context, it becomes very suggestive. However, the most significant phrase is in the last line of the Prologue, which speaks of 'other noteful thinges, yif god wol vouche-sauf & his modur the mayde, mo than I behete,' i.e. other useful things, more than I now promise, if God and the Virgin vouchsafe it. In accordance with his habits of seldom finishing and of deviating from his own plans at pleasure, we have but an imperfect result, not altogether answerable to the table of contents. I therefore agree with Mr. Brae that the 40th Conclusion would have done better for Part iv., though I do not agree with him in rejecting it as spurious. This he was led to do by the badness of the text of the MSS. which he consulted, but we can hardly reject this Conclusion without rejecting the whole Treatise, as it is found in all the oldest copies. By way of illustration, I would point out that this is not the only difficulty, for the Conclusions about astrology ought certainly to have been reserved for Part v. These are Conclusions 36 and 37, which concern the 'equaciouns of houses'; and this is probably why, in three of the MSS. (viz. L., N., and R.), these two conclusions are made to come at the end of the Treatise. There is nothing for it but to accept what we have, and be thankful.

§ 24. Extant portion of the Treatise. If, then, the questions be asked, how much of the Treatise has come down to us, and what was to have been the contents of the missing portion, the account stands thus.


Of Part i. we have the whole.

Of Part ii. we have nearly all, and probably all that ever was written, including Conclusions 1-40 on astronomical matters, and Conclusions 41-43 on the taking of altitudes of terrestrial objects. Possibly Conclusion 46 is to be added to these; but Conclusions 41a-42b are certainly spurious.

Part iii. probably consisted entirely of tables, and some at least of these may very well have been transmitted to little Lewis. Indeed, they may have been prepared by or copied from Nicholas of Lynn and John Somer, before Chaucer took the rest in hand. The tables were to have been (and perhaps were) as follows:—

1. Tables of latitude and longitudes of the stars which were represented on the 'Rete' of the Astrolabe. Specimens of such tables are found in MSS.

2. Tables of declinations of the sun, according to the day of the year.

3. Tables of longitudes of cities and towns.

4. Tables for setting clocks and finding the meridian altitudes (of the sun, probably).

Such tables as these are by no means lost. There are MSS. which contain little else, as e.g. MS. Hh. 6. 8 in the Cambridge University Library. The longitudes of towns are given in MS. Camb. Ii. 3. 3, at fol. 214b. Again, in MS. F. 25, in St. John's College Library, Cambridge, we find tables of fixed stars, tables of latitudes and longitudes of towns, tables of altitudes of the sun at different hours, and many others.

Part iv. was to explain the motions of the heavenly bodies, with their causes. This was probably never written, though there is an allusion to it in Part ii. § 11, l. 12. It was also to contain a table to shew the position of the moon, according to an almanac; and such a table is given in the St. John's MS. above mentioned, and in MS. Camb. Ii. 3. 3, at fol. 143. This was to have been followed by a canon, and an explanation of the working of the Conclusion—'to knowe with which degree of the zodiac that the mone ariseth,' and 'the arising of any planete,' &c. The canon is partly accounted for, as regards the planets at least, by sections 44 and 45, and the 'Conclusion' by section 40.

Part v. was to contain the general rules of astrology, with tables of equations of houses, dignities of planets, and other useful things which God and the Virgin might vouchsafe that the author {lxix}should accomplish. Sections 36 and 37 tell us something about the equations of houses; but, in all probability, none (or, at least, no more) of this fifth Part was ever written. Tables of equations of houses, for the latitude of Toledo, are given in MS. Camb. Ii. 3. 3, at fol. 177, and elsewhere. Of the general rules of astrology we find in old MSS. somewhat too much, but they are generally in Latin; however, the Trinity MS. R. 15. 18 has some of them in English.

On the whole, we have quite as much of Chaucer's Treatise as we need care for; and he may easily have changed his mind about the necessity of writing Part v; for we actually find him declaring (and it is pleasant to hear him) that 'natheles, thise ben observauncez of iudicial matiere & rytes of payens, in which my spirit ne hath no feith'; ii. 4. 36; (p. 192).

§ 25. Sources of the Treatise. I next have to point out the sources whence Chaucer's treatise was derived. Mr. Halliwell, in a note at the end of his edition of Mandeville's Travels, speaks of the original treatise on the Astrolabe, written in Sanskrit, on which he supposes Chaucer's treatise to have been founded. Whether the Latin version used by Chaucer was ultimately derived from a Sanskrit copy or not, need not be considered here. The use of the Astrolabe was no doubt well known at an early period in India and among the Persians and Arabs; see the 'Description of a Planispheric Astrolabe constructed for Sháh Sultán Husain Safawí, King of Persia,' by W. H. Morley, in which elaborate and beautifully illustrated volume the reader may find sufficient information. Marco Polo says (bk. ii. c. 33) that there were 5000 astrologers and soothsayers in the city of Cambaluc, adding—'they have a kind of Astrolabe, on which are inscribed the planetary signs, the hours, and critical points of the whole year'; Marco Polo, ed. Yule, i. 399. Compare also the mention of the instrument in the 161st night of the Arabian Nights' Entertainments, where a translation which I have now before me has the words—'instead of putting water into the basin, he [the barber] took a very handsome astrolabe out of his case, and went very gravely out of my room to the middle of the yard, to take the height of the sun'; on which passage Mr. Lane has a note (chap. v. note 57) which Mr. Brae quotes at length in his edition. There is also at least one version of a treatise in Greek, entitled περὶ τῆς τοῦ ἀστρολάβου χρήσεως, by Johannes Philoponus, of which {lxx}the Cambridge University Library possesses two copies, viz. MSS. Dd. 15. 27 and Gg. 2. 33. But it is clear, from his own words, that Chaucer followed the Latin, and I can point out[52] one of the Latin treatises to which he was very considerably indebted. This is the 'Compositio et Operatio Astrolabie,' by Messahala[53], of which copies are, I have no doubt, sufficiently numerous. The Cambridge Library has four, viz. Hh. 6. 8, Ii. 1. 13, Ii. 3. 3[54], and Kk. 1. 1, and there is another copy in St. John's College Library, Cambridge, marked F. 25. The title should be particularly observed; for the treatise is distinctly divisible into two separate parts, viz. the 'Compositio Astrolabii' and the 'Operatio Astrolabii.' The former begins with the words—'Scito quod astrolabium sit nomen Graecum,' and explains how to make an astrolabe, and how to inscribe on it the various necessary lines and circles with sufficient exactness. It is much the longer portion of the treatise, and (in MS. Ii. 3. 3) is illustrated by numerous diagrams, whilst the second part has no such illustrations. But it does not appear that Chaucer made any use of this former part, as his astrolabe had been procured ready-made. The second part of the treatise, or 'Operatio Astrolabii,' begins with the words 'Nomina instrumentorum sunt hec.' This is evidently one of the sources from which Chaucer drew largely[55]. Chaucer's Part i. is almost wholly taken from this, but he has expanded it in several places, with the evident intention of making it more easy to understand. In Part ii. he has taken from it, with more or less exactness, sections 1-3, 5-8, 10, 11, 13-18, 20, 21, 24, 25, 27-31, 33-37, 41 and 42; whilst sections 4, 9, 12, 19, 22, 23, 26, 32, 38-40 and 43 do not appear in it. In other words, Messahala's treatise accounts for {lxxi}thirty-one conclusions out of forty-three, or about two-thirds of the whole. In some places, Chaucer has translated almost word for word, so as to leave no doubt as to his authority. Besides which, I have already remarked that Chaucer's version is directly connected with Messahala by the quotations from the latter which appear in MS. E.; see description of this MS. at p. lix. If it be inquired, whence did Chaucer derive the remaining third of his Second Part, I think it very likely that some of it may be found amongst the varied and voluminous contents of such a MS. as Ii 3. 3, which is a sort of general compendium of astronomical and astrological knowledge. The complete solution of this question I leave to some one with more leisure than myself, being satisfied that to have found the original of Part i. and two-thirds of Part ii. is to have made a good start. It must not be omitted, that the MSS. of Messahala are not all alike; that some copies have propositions which are not in others; and that the order of the Conclusions is not invariable. The chief noteworthy difference between Chaucer's version and the Latin original is in the order of the Conclusions; it is clear that Chaucer not only took what he liked, but rearranged his materials after his own fashion.

§ 26. Various Editions. About the early printed editions of the Astrolabe, I have not much to say. The Editio Princeps of 1532 was clearly derived from some MS. of the second class, and, what between the errors of the scribes and printers, absurdities abound. After a careful examination of the old editions, I came to the conclusion that the less I consulted them the better, and have therefore rather avoided them than sought their assistance. All the editions not only give the conclusions in a wrong order, but (like the MSS. of the second class) absurdly repeat Conclusion I. of Part ii., and reckon the repetition of it as Conclusion III. MSS. of the first class are free from this defect, and may thus be easily known. The only edition worth consulting is that by Mr. A. E. Brae, published quite recently, in 1870. Mr. Brae made much use of MS. I., besides which he consulted the Printed Editions, and MSS. H. and L. See the descriptions of these MSS. above. From this edition I have taken many hints, and I wish to express, very thankfully, my obligations to it. Mr. Brae has brought to bear upon his work much skill and knowledge, and has investigated many points with much patience, minuteness, and critical ability. But I cannot but perceive that he has often {lxxii}expended his labour upon very inferior materials, and has been sometimes misled by the badness of those MSS. to which alone he had access[56].

Besides his print of Chaucer's Astrolabe, Mr. Brae has reprinted some curious and interesting critical notes of his own, and has added some essays on Chaucer's 'prime,' on 'the Carrenare,' and 'shippes opposteres.' To all that he has done I am much indebted.

§ 27. Works on the Subject. The works upon, and descriptions of, the astrolabe, are numerous. I have had neither time nor inclination to make researches into the subject; for which reason I here note the names of a few books which may be examined by the curious reader.

In his Universal Lexicon, Zedler explains that astrolabes are of two kinds, 'universal' and 'particular.' He speaks of the astrolabes (1) of Gemma Frisius; see Petri Apiani Cosmographia, per Gemmam Phrysium restituta; (2) of Johan de Rojas, a Spaniard, A.D. 1550; (3) of De la Hire the elder, professor of mathematics at Paris, A.D. 1702; (4) of Johannes Stoflerinus (or Stöffler), A.D. 1510. The last of these varied from the others in adopting a different and more convenient system of projection, viz. that upon the plane of the equator, or one parallel to it, the eye being in the antarctic pole, and the arctic pole being made the centre of the instrument. This projection is the same as that which was used by Ptolemy, and it is adopted in the diagrams which accompany Chaucer's treatise in some of the MSS. It should be observed here that the term 'astrolabe' alone is vague; it was originally a general name for any circular instrument used for observation of the stars; but in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries it was restricted to the particular kind called the 'Astrolabe Planisphere,' or astrolabe on a flat surface, in which sense alone the word is used throughout this volume. See the English Cyclopaedia, Arts and Sciences, s.v. Astrolabe.

The simplest work is that by Stöffler or Stoflerinus, as he calls himself; see also Gemma Frisius, Metius, Clavius Bambergensis, the Cursus Mathematicus of Dechales, vol. iv. p. 161, Delambre's History of Astronomy, and other works. The plates in Metius {lxxiii}are most exquisitely engraved, and on a large scale, and give a better representation of the instrument than any others that I have seen.

One of the MSS., viz. MS. E., refers to an astrolabe belonging to Merton College, Oxford[57]. There is a very nice one, made of brass, and by a Dutch engraver, in the library of King's College, Cambridge. It has several discs or plates, or, as Chaucer calls them, 'tables[58].' Of this instrument the same library contains a written description, with some account of the problems it will solve, and an investigation of its probable date, by H. Godfray, Esq., of St. John's College.

There is a book entitled 'A verie briefe and most plaine description of Mr. Blagrave his Astrolabe,' &c., by Mr. Blundevill; London, printed by William Stansby. But it turns out to be of little practical assistance, because Blagrave's astrolabe was on a different principle.

§ 28. Description of the Astrolabe Planisphere. There is not, however, much need of reference to books to understand what the astrolabe used by Chaucer was like. The instrument may be readily understood from a brief description, and from the Plates in this volume.

The most important part of the 'astrolabe planisphere' consisted of a somewhat heavy circular plate of metal from four to seven inches in diameter, which could be suspended from the thumb by a ring (i. 1), working with such freedom as would allow the instrument to assume a perfectly perpendicular position (i. 2). One side of the plate was perfectly flat, and was called the back. This is represented in Fig. 1. On it was described a number of concentric rings, marked with various divisions, which may be readily understood from the figure. Beginning at the outermost ring, the first two represent the ninety degrees into which each quadrant of a circle can be divided (i. 7). The next two represent {lxxiv}the signs of the zodiac, each subdivided into thirty degrees (i. 8). The next two represent the days of the year, and are rather difficult to mark, as the circle has, for this purpose, to be divided into 365¼ equal parts (i. 9). The next three circles shew the names of the months, the number of days in each, and the small divisions which represent each day, which coincide exactly with those representing the days of the year (i. 10). The two innermost rings shew the saints' days, with their Sunday-letters. Thus, above the 21st of December is written 'Thome,' i.e. St. Thomas's day, its Sunday-letter being E; the rest can easily be traced by the tables in a Prayer-book (i. 11). These may be thus briefly recapitulated:—

1 and 2. Circles of degrees of the quadrant and circle.

3 and 4. Circles of the zodiacal signs, with their degrees.

5 and 6. Circles of the days of the year, with their numbers.

7, 8 and 9. Circles of the months, with their days and numbers of the days.

10 and 11. Circles of saints' days, with their Sunday-letters.

Within all these, are the Scales of Umbra Recta and Umbra Versa, in each of which the scale is divided into twelve equal parts, for the convenience of taking and computing altitudes (i. 12). This primitive and loose method of computation has long been superseded by the methods of trigonometry. Besides these circles, there is a perpendicular line, marking the South and North points, and a horizontal line from East to West.

The other side of the plate, called the front, and shewn in Fig. 2, had a thick rim with a wide depression in the middle (i. 3). The rim was marked with three rings or circles, of which the outermost was the Circle of Letters (A to Z) representing the twenty-four hours of the day, and the two innermost the degrees of the quadrants (i. 16). The depressed central portion of the plate was marked only with three circles, the 'Tropicus Cancri,' the 'Æquinoctialis,' and the 'Tropicus Capricorni' (i. 17); and with the cross-lines from North to South, and from East to West (i. 15). But several thin plates or discs of metal were provided, which were of such a size as exactly to drop into the depression spoken of. The principal one of these, called the 'Rete,' is shewn in Fig. 2. It consisted of a circular ring marked with the zodiacal signs, subdivided into degrees, with narrow branching limbs both within and without this ring, having smaller {lxxv}branches or tongues terminating in points, each of which denoted the exact position of some well-known star. The names of these stars, as 'Alhabor,' 'Rigel,' &c., are (some of them) written on the branches (i. 21). The 'Rete' being thus, as it were, a skeleton plate, allows the 'Tropicus Cancri,' &c., marked upon the body of the instrument, to be partially seen below it. Another form of the 'Rete' is shewn in Fig. 9, and other positions of the Rete in Fig. 11 and Fig. 12. But it was more usual to interpose between the 'Rete' and the body of the instrument (called the 'Mother') another thin plate or disc, such as that in Fig. 5, so that portions of this latter plate could be seen beneath the skeleton-form of the 'Rete' (i. 17). These plates are called by Chaucer 'tables,' and sometimes an instrument was provided with several of them, differently marked, for use in places having different latitudes. The one in Fig. 5 is suitable for the latitude of Oxford (nearly). The upper part, above the Horizon Obliquus, is marked with circles of altitude (i. 18), crossed by incomplete arcs of azimuth tending to a common centre, the zenith (i. 19). The lower part of the same plate is marked with arcs denoting the twelve planetary hours (i. 20).

At the back of the astrolabe revolved the 'rule,' made of metal, and fitted with sights, represented in Fig. 3 (i. 13). At the front of it revolved the 'label,' represented in Fig. 6 (i. 22).

All the parts were held together by the central pin (Fig. 4) which passed through the holes in the 'moder,' plates, 'Rete,' rule, and label[59], and was secured by a little wedge (i. 14), which was sometimes fancifully carved to resemble a horse (Fig. 7).

Another 'table' or disc is shewn in Fig. 14, and was used for ascertaining the twelve astrological houses.

§ 29. Uses of the Astrolabe Planisphere. I here briefly enumerate such principal uses of the instrument as are mentioned by Chaucer.

The back (Fig. 1) shews at once the degree of the zodiac answering to every day in the year (ii. 1). The altitude of the sun can be taken by the 'Rule,' elevated at the proper angle (ii. 2). If the Rete be properly adjusted to this altitude, we can thus tell the hour of the day (ii. 3). The duration of twilight can {lxxvi}be calculated by observing when the sun is 18° below the horizon (ii. 6). Observe the times of sunrise and sundown, and the interval is the 'artificial day' (ii. 7). This day, with the duration of morning and evening twilights added to it, is called the 'vulgar day' (ii. 9). The plate in Fig. 5 shews the planetary hours (ii. 12). The placing of the sun's degree on the South-line gives the sun's meridian altitude (ii. 13), and conversely (ii. 14). The back of the instrument can shew what days in the year are of equal length (ii. 15). The degree of the zodiac which souths with any star can be ascertained by observing two altitudes of the star; but the observations must be made when the star is very near the meridian (ii. 17). If the star be marked on the Rete, the said degree is easily found by use of the Rete (ii. 18). We can also find with what degree of the zodiac the same star rises (ii. 19). The use of the Rete also shews the declination of every degree in the zodiac (ii. 20). We can always tell for what latitude a disc such as that in Fig. 5 is constructed, by properly examining it (ii. 21). The latitude of any place can be found by two observations of the altitude of the Pole-star (ii. 23); or of any circumpolar star (ii. 24); or by observing the sun's meridional altitude (ii. 25). The Rete also tells us the 'ascensions of signs,' or how many degrees of the equinoctial circle pass the meridian with a given sign (ii. 27); as also the 'oblique ascensions' of the same (ii. 28). The astrolabe can also be used to discover (but only in an imperfect and approximate manner) the four cardinal points of the compass (ii. 29). We can also compare the altitude of a planet with that of the sun (ii. 30). We can find in what part of the horizon the sun rises (ii. 31); and in what direction to look for a conjunction of the sun and moon (ii. 32); also near what point of the compass the sun is at any given hour (ii. 33). The moon's observed altitude will shew her longitude (ii. 34). We can tell, from two observations of a planet properly made, whether the planet's movement is direct or retrograde (ii. 35). The disc shewn in Fig. 14 helps to shew the 'equations of houses' (ii. 36). The four cardinal points can be found without an astrolabe, by an experiment properly conducted (ii. 38). The astrolabe can be used to find the degree of the zodiac with which any planet ascends, even when the planet is not situated in the ecliptic (ii. 40).

By the use of the Umbra Recta on the back of the instrument, we can take the altitude of an accessible object by a single {lxxvii}observation (ii. 41); or of an inaccessible object by two observations (ii. 43). Or, the height of an inaccessible object may likewise be taken by two observations, by the scale marked Umbra Versa (ii. 42).

The few Conclusions not here referred to are chiefly explanatory, or of minor interest.

§ 30. Stars marked on the Rete. Several of the Latin MSS. upon the Astrolabe give a list of the stars marked upon the Rete. There is a double list, for example, in MS. Ii. 3. 3, in the Cambridge University Library, fol. 70, back. It is given in the form of two tables; the first mentions forty-nine stars, with the degrees of the zodiac which south along with them, and their declinations from the equinoctial line. The second table mentions some only of the same stars, with their longitudes and latitudes, as referred to the ecliptic.

A list of the principal stars usually marked upon the Rete, as shewn in Fig. 2, is given in the Note to Part i. § 21. 4 (p. 357). Fig. 9 shews another Rete, with many of the same stars, with the addition of Markep (ι Argous). Alchimech is the same as Azimech, i.e. α Virginis; Cor Leonis is α Leonis; and Alfart is α Hydræ.

§ 31. Astrological Notes. For a general sketch of Astrology, see the English Cyclopaedia, s.v. Worthless as the science is, it is useful to have a few 'facts' for handy reference. I therefore attempt a synopsis of the chief points of it, drawn from Johannis Hispalensis Isagoge in Astrologiam.

To save space, I give the information in a tabular form, wherein I denote the twelve Signs by A., T., G., C., L., V., Li., S., Sa., Cp., Aq., P.; and the seven Planets, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon, by St., J., Ms., Sn., V., My., Mo. What the table exactly means shall be explained presently.

Signs. Man. Ex. Day. Nt. Com. Face 1. Face 2. Face 3.
A. Ms. Sn. (19) Sn. J. St. Ms. Sn. V.
T. V. Mn. (3) V. Mn. Ms. My. Mn. St.
G. My. D. H. St. My. J. J. Ms. Sn.
C. Mn. J. (15) V. Ms. Mn. V. My. Mn.
L. Sn. Sn. J. St. St. J. Ms.
V. My. My. (15) V. Mn. Ms. Sa. V. My.
Li. V. St. (19) St. My. J. Mn. St. J.
S. Ms. V. Ms. Mn. Ms. Sn. V.
Sa. J. D. T. Sn. J. St. My. Mn. St.
Cp. St. Ms. (28) V. Mn. Ms. J. Ms. Sn.
Aq. St. St. My. J. V. My. Mn.
P. J. V. (21) V. Ms. Mn. St. J. Ms.

The first line is to be read thus.

Aries is the mansion (or house) of Mars; the exaltation (or honour) of the Sun, in the 19th degree of the sign; the lord of the Triplicity of Aries with its attendant signs is the Sun by day, Jupiter by night, and Saturn in Common, both by day and night; the first Face of Aries (degrees 1 to 10) is that of Mars; the second Face (degrees 11 to 20) is that of the Sun; the third Face (degrees 21 to 30) is that of Venus. And so on for the rest; noting that Gemini is the Exaltation of the Dragon's Head (D. H.), and Sagittarius that of the Dragon's Tail (D. T.).

The meanings of the words are as follows:—

A Mansion or House appears to be that sign in which the planet is peculiarly at home for some reason or other.

The Exaltation or Honour is that degree of a sign in which the planet named has its greatest power; but the degree was often neglected, and Aries was called the Exaltation of the Sun, simply.

The Fall (Lat. occasus vel detrimentum) of a planet is the sign opposite its mansion. Libra is opposite Aries; therefore Libra is the Fall of Mars.

The Dejection or Depression (Lat. dedecus) of a planet is the sign opposite to that of its exaltation. Libra is opposite Aries; therefore Libra is the Dejection of the Sun. And so on.

A Triplicity is a combination of three signs in the form of a triangle, each 120° apart. Thus Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius form the first triplicity; Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn, the second; Gemini, Libra, Aquarius, the third; Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces, the fourth. Equal divisions of a sign (third-parts, namely) are called Faces. There were also unequal divisions called Terms.

The 'mobill' or movable signs are Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn. The 'fixe' or fixed signs are Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius. The 'common' signs are Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces.

The signs Aries, Gemini, Leo, &c. (taking every other sign) are diurnal or masculine. The rest, Taurus, Cancer, &c., are nocturnal or feminine.

The first six signs, Aries to Virgo, are northern or sinister signs. So called because astrologers looked towards the east or ascendent.

The last six, Libra to Pisces, are southern or dexter signs.


The signs Cancer to Sagittarius are western, sovereign, right, or direct signs. Cf. Astrol. ii. 28, and see Fig. 2.

The rest, Capricorn to Gemini, are eastern, obedient, tortuous, or oblique signs.

This is all that a reader is likely to want. For other points, see the authorities.


§ 32. Plate I. Fig. 1. The flat back of the Astrolabe; see § 28.

Plate II. Fig. 2. The front of the Astrolabe, with raised border. In the wide depression in the middle, the plate called the 'Rete' is dropped in, and is shewn in its primary position. Other positions of it are sketched in Fig. 11 and Fig. 12.

Plate III. Fig. 3. The 'Rewle' carrying two sights, which revolved at the back of the Astrolabe. Astrol. i. 13.

Fig. 4. The central 'Pin,' shewn with the 'Wedge' inserted through it. Astrol. i. 14; cf. Fig. 7.

Fig. 5. One of the Tables or discs, used by being dropped within the depression on the front of the Astrolabe; i. 17. They were marked differently, according to the latitude of the place. The one here drawn is suitable for the latitude of Oxford, nearly.

Fig. 6. The 'Label,' which revolved at the front of the Astrolabe; i. 22.

Plate IV. Fig. 7. Another form of the 'Pin,' shewing the Wedge cut into the shape of a Horse (i. 14); from MS. Camb. Ii. 3. 3.

Fig. 8. Diagram, shewing how to draw the three 'principal circles'; see footnote on p. 183.

Fig. 9. Another form of the 'Rete,' from MS. Ii. 3. 3; cf. Fig. 2. This figure shews the 'Almury' very clearly; Astrol. i. 23.

Plate V. Fig. 10. Diagram of the nine spheres; from MS. Camb. Ii. 3. 3. Astrol. i. 17.

Fig. 11. Rough sketch of the position of the 'Rete' in Astrol. ii. 3 (first part). Denticle opposite C, and first point of Aries opposite X; 9 a.m.


Fig. 12. Rough sketch of the position of the 'Rete' in Astrol. ii. 3 (second part). Denticle near O; first point of Aries near H; 8h. 8m. p.m.

Fig. 13. Diagram of the Elevation of the Pole; Astrol. ii. 23. The arc AN is 56°; A′N is 48°; A′P is 4°; and PN is 52°. A, A′ are two positions of the Pole-star.

Plate VI. Fig. 14. A 'Table' or disc shewing the twelve astrological 'Houses'; Astrol. ii. 36 and 37.

Fig. 15. Diagram shewing how to ascertain the meridional line from two shadows of an upright gnomon; Astrol. ii. 38.

Fig. 16. Diagram illustrating the use of the Umbra Recta; Astrol. ii. 41, 41a, and 41b.

Fig. 17. Diagram of the use of the Umbra Versa, at two observations; Astrol. ii. 42, 42a, and 42b.

Fig. 18. Use of the Umbra Recta, at two observations; Astrol. ii. 43 and 43a.

Plate I


Plate II


Plate III


Plate IV

FIG. 7. WEDGE AND HORSE (from a MS.).


Plate V


Plate VI





God turne us every dreem to gode!

For hit is wonder, by the rode,

To my wit, what causeth swevenes

Either on morwes, or on evenes;


And why the effect folweth of somme,

And of somme hit shal never come;

Why that is an avisioun,

And this a revelacioun;


Why this a dreem, why that a sweven,

And nat to every man liche even;

Why this a fantom, these oracles,

I noot; but who-so of these miracles

The causes knoweth bet than I,

Devyne he; for I certeinly


Ne can hem noght, ne never thinke

To besily my wit to swinke,

To knowe of hir signifiaunce

The gendres, neither the distaunce

Of tymes of hem, ne the causes


For-why this more than that cause is;

{2}As if folkes complexiouns

Make hem dreme of reflexiouns;

Or elles thus, as other sayn,

For to greet feblenesse of brayn,


By abstinence, or by seeknesse,

Prison, stewe, or greet distresse;

Or elles by disordinaunce

Of naturel acustomaunce,

That som man is to curious


In studie, or melancolious,

Or thus, so inly ful of drede,

That no man may him bote bede;

Or elles, that devocioun

Of somme, and contemplacioun


Causeth swiche dremes ofte;

Or that the cruel lyf unsofte

Which these ilke lovers leden

That hopen over muche or dreden,

That purely hir impressiouns


Causeth hem avisiouns;

Or if that spirits have the might

To make folk to dreme a-night

Or if the soule, of propre kinde,

Be so parfit, as men finde,


That hit forwot that is to come,

And that hit warneth alle and somme

Of everiche of hir aventures

By avisiouns, or by figures,

But that our flesh ne hath no might


To understonden hit aright,

For hit is warned to derkly;—

But why the cause is, noght wot I.

Wel worthe, of this thing, grete clerkes,

That trete of this and other werkes;


For I of noon opinioun

{3}Nil as now make mencioun,

But only that the holy rode

Turne us every dreem to gode!

For never, sith that I was born,


Ne no man elles, me biforn,

Mette, I trowe stedfastly,

So wonderful a dreem as I

The tenthe day [dide] of Decembre,

The which, as I can now remembre,


I wol yow tellen every del.

The Invocation.

But at my ginning, trusteth wel,

I wol make invocacioun,

With special devocioun,

Unto the god of slepe anoon,


That dwelleth in a cave of stoon

Upon a streem that comth fro Lete,

That is a flood of helle unswete;

Besyde a folk men clepe Cimerie,

Ther slepeth ay this god unmerie


With his slepy thousand sones

That alway for to slepe hir wone is—

And to this god, that I of rede,

Preye I, that he wol me spede

My sweven for to telle aright,


If every dreem stonde in his might.

And he, that mover is of al

That is and was, and ever shal,

So yive hem Ioye that hit here

Of alle that they dreme to-yere,


And for to stonden alle in grace

Of hir loves, or in what place

That hem wer levest for to stonde,

{4}And shelde hem fro povert and shonde,

And fro unhappe and ech disese,


And sende hem al that may hem plese,

That take hit wel, and scorne hit noght,

Ne hit misdemen in her thoght

Through malicious entencioun.

And who-so, through presumpcioun,


Or hate or scorne, or through envye,

Dispyt, or Iape, or vilanye,

Misdeme hit, preye I Iesus god

That (dreme he barfoot, dreme he shod),

That every harm that any man


Hath had, sith [that] the world began,

Befalle him therof, or he sterve,

And graunte he mote hit ful deserve,

Lo! with swich a conclusioun

As had of his avisioun


Cresus, that was king of Lyde,

That high upon a gebet dyde!

This prayer shal he have of me;

I am no bet in charite!

Now herkneth, as I have you seyd,


What that I mette, or I abreyd.

The Dream.

Of Decembre the tenthe day,

Whan hit was night, to slepe I lay

Right ther as I was wont to done,

And fil on slepe wonder sone,


As he that wery was for-go

On pilgrimage myles two

To the corseynt Leonard,

To make lythe of that was hard.

But as I sleep, me mette I was


Within a temple y-mad of glas;

{5}In whiche ther were mo images

Of gold, stondinge in sondry stages,

And mo riche tabernacles,

And with perre mo pinacles,


And mo curious portreytures,

And queynte maner of figures

Of olde werke, then I saw ever.

For certeynly, I niste never

Wher that I was, but wel wiste I,


Hit was of Venus redely,

The temple; for, in portreyture,

I saw anoon-right hir figure

Naked fletinge in a see.

And also on hir heed, parde,


Hir rose-garlond whyt and reed,

And hir comb to kembe hir heed,

Hir dowves, and daun Cupido,

Hir blinde sone, and Vulcano,

That in his face was ful broun.


But as I romed up and doun,

I fond that on a wal ther was

Thus writen, on a table of bras:

'I wol now singe, if that I can,

The armes, and al-so the man,


That first cam, through his destinee,

Fugitif of Troye contree,

In Itaile, with ful moche pyne,

Unto the strondes of Lavyne.'

And tho began the story anoon,


As I shal telle yow echoon.

First saw I the destruccioun

Of Troye, through the Greek Sinoun,

{6}[That] with his false forsweringe,

And his chere and his lesinge


Made the hors broght into Troye,

Thorgh which Troyens loste al hir Ioye.

And after this was grave, allas!

How Ilioun assailed was

And wonne, and king Priam y-slayn,


And Polites his sone, certayn,

Dispitously, of dan Pirrus.

And next that saw I how Venus,

Whan that she saw the castel brende,

Doun fro the hevene gan descende,


And bad hir sone Eneas flee;

And how he fledde, and how that he

Escaped was from al the pres,

And took his fader, Anchises,

And bar him on his bakke away,


Cryinge, 'Allas, and welaway!'

The whiche Anchises in his honde

Bar the goddes of the londe,

Thilke that unbrende were.

And I saw next, in alle this fere,


How Creusa, daun Eneas wyf,

Which that he lovede as his lyf,

And hir yonge sone Iulo,

And eek Ascanius also,

Fledden eek with drery chere,


That hit was pitee for to here;

And in a forest, as they wente,

At a turninge of a wente,

How Creusa was y-lost, allas!

That deed, [but] noot I how, she was;


{7}How he hir soughte, and how hir gost

Bad him to flee the Grekes ost,

And seyde, he moste unto Itaile,

As was his destinee, sauns faille;

That hit was pitee for to here,


Whan hir spirit gan appere,

The wordes that she to him seyde,

And for to kepe hir sone him preyde.

Ther saw I graven eek how he,

His fader eek, and his meynee,


With his shippes gan to sayle

Toward the contree of Itaile,

As streight as that they mighte go.

Ther saw I thee, cruel Iuno,

That art daun Iupiteres wyf,


That hast y-hated, al thy lyf,

Al the Troyanisshe blood,

Renne and crye, as thou were wood,

On Eolus, the god of windes,

To blowen out, of alle kindes,


So loude, that he shulde drenche

Lord and lady, grome and wenche

Of al the Troyan nacioun,

Withoute any savacioun.

Ther saw I swich tempeste aryse,


That every herte mighte agryse,

To see hit peynted on the walle.

Ther saw I graven eek withalle,

Venus, how ye, my lady dere,

Wepinge with ful woful chere,


Prayen Iupiter an hye

To save and kepe that navye

Of the Troyan Eneas,

Sith that he hir sone was.

Ther saw I Ioves Venus kisse,


And graunted of the tempest lisse.

{8}Ther saw I how the tempest stente,

And how with alle pyne he wente,

And prevely took arrivage

In the contree of Cartage;


And on the morwe, how that he

And a knight, hight Achatee,

Metten with Venus that day,

Goinge in a queynt array,

As she had ben an hunteresse,


With wind blowinge upon hir tresse;

How Eneas gan him to pleyne,

Whan that he knew hir, of his peyne;

And how his shippes dreynte were,

Or elles lost, he niste where;


How she gan him comforte tho,

And bad him to Cartage go,

And ther he shuldë his folk finde,

That in the see were left behinde.

And, shortly of this thing to pace,


She made Eneas so in grace

Of Dido, quene of that contree,

That, shortly for to tellen, she

Becam his love, and leet him do

That that wedding longeth to.


What shulde I speke more queynte,

Or peyne me my wordes peynte,

To speke of love? hit wol not be;

I can not of that facultee.

And eek to telle the manere


How they aqueynteden in-fere,

Hit were a long proces to telle,

And over long for yow to dwelle.

Ther saw I grave, how Eneas

Tolde Dido every cas,


That him was tid upon the see.

And after grave was, how she

{9}Made of him, shortly, at oo word,

Hir lyf, hir love, hir lust, hir lord;

And dide him al the reverence,


And leyde on him al the dispence,

That any woman mighte do,

Weninge hit had al be so,

As he hir swoor; and her-by demed

That he was good, for he swich semed.


Allas! what harm doth apparence,

Whan hit is fals in existence!

For he to hir a traitour was;

Wherfor she slow hir-self, allas!

Lo, how a woman doth amis,


To love him that unknowen is!

For, by Crist, lo! thus hit fareth;

'Hit is not al gold, that glareth.'

For, al-so brouke I wel myn heed,

Ther may be under goodliheed


Kevered many a shrewed vyce;

Therfor be no wight so nyce,

To take a love only for chere,

For speche, or for frendly manere;

For this shal every woman finde


That som man, of his pure kinde,

Wol shewen outward the faireste,

Til he have caught that what him leste;

And thanne wol he causes finde,

And swere how that she is unkinde,


Or fals, or prevy, or double was.

Al this seye I by Eneas

And Dido, and hir nyce lest,

That lovede al to sone a gest;

Therfor I wol seye a proverbe,


That 'he that fully knoweth therbe

{10}May saufly leye hit to his yë';

Withoute dreed, this is no lye.

But let us speke of Eneas,

How he betrayed hir, allas!


And lefte hir ful unkindely.

So whan she saw al-utterly,

That he wolde hir of trouthe faile,

And wende fro hir to Itaile,

She gan to wringe hir hondes two.


'Allas!' quod she, 'what me is wo!

Allas! is every man thus trewe,

That every yere wolde have a newe,

If hit so longe tyme dure,

Or elles three, peraventure?


As thus: of oon he wolde have fame

In magnifying of his name;

Another for frendship, seith he;

And yet ther shal the thridde be,

That shal be taken for delyt,


Lo, or for singular profyt.'

In swiche wordes gan to pleyne

Dido of hir grete peyne,

As me mette redely;

Non other auctour alegge I.


'Allas!' quod she, 'my swete herte,

Have pitee on my sorwes smerte,

And slee me not! go noght away!

O woful Dido, wel away!'

Quod she to hir-selve tho.


'O Eneas! what wil ye do?

O, that your love, ne your bonde,

That ye han sworn with your right honde,

Ne my cruel deeth,' quod she,

'May holde yow still heer with me!


O, haveth of my deeth pitee!

Y-wis, my dere herte, ye

{11}Knowen ful wel that never yit,

As fer-forth as I hadde wit,

Agilte [I] yow in thoght ne deed.


O, have ye men swich goodliheed

In speche, and never a deel of trouthe?

Allas, that ever hadde routhe

Any woman on any man!

Now see I wel, and telle can,


We wrecched wimmen conne non art;

For certeyn, for the more part,

Thus we be served everichone.

How sore that ye men conne grone,

Anoon as we have yow receyved!


Certeinly we ben deceyved;

For, though your love laste a sesoun,

Wayte upon the conclusioun,

And eek how that ye determynen,

And for the more part diffynen.


'O, welawey that I was born!

For through yow is my name lorn,

And alle myn actes red and songe

Over al this lond, on every tonge.

O wikke Fame! for ther nis


Nothing so swift, lo, as she is!

O, sooth is, every thing is wist,

Though hit be kevered with the mist.

Eek, thogh I mighte duren ever,

That I have doon, rekever I never,


That I ne shal be seyd, allas,

Y-shamed be through Eneas,

And that I shal thus Iuged be—

"Lo, right as she hath doon, now she

Wol do eftsones, hardily;"


Thus seyth the peple prevely.'—

{12}But that is doon, nis not to done;

Al hir compleynt ne al hir mone,

Certeyn, availeth hir not a stre.

And whan she wiste sothly he


Was forth unto his shippes goon,

She in hir chambre wente anoon,

And called on hir suster Anne,

And gan hir to compleyne thanne;

And seyde, that she cause was


That she first lovede [Eneas],

And thus counseilled hir therto.

But what! when this was seyd and do,

She roof hir-selve to the herte,

And deyde through the wounde smerte.


But al the maner how she deyde,

And al the wordes that she seyde,

Who-so to knowe hit hath purpos,

Reed Virgile in Eneidos

Or the Epistle of Ovyde,


What that she wroot or that she dyde;

And nere hit to long to endyte,

By god, I woldë hit here wryte.

But, welaway! the harm, the routhe,

That hath betid for swich untrouthe,


As men may ofte in bokes rede,

And al day seen hit yet in dede,

That for to thenken hit, a tene is.

Lo, Demophon, duk of Athenis,

How he forswor him ful falsly,


And trayed Phillis wikkedly,

That kinges doghter was of Trace,

And falsly gan his terme pace;

And when she wiste that he was fals,

She heng hir-self right by the hals,


{13}For he had do hir swich untrouthe;

Lo! was not this a wo and routhe?

Eek lo! how fals and reccheles

Was to Briseida Achilles,

And Paris to Enone;


And Iason to Isiphile;

And eft Iason to Medea;

And Ercules to Dyanira;

For he lefte hir for Iöle,

That made him cacche his deeth, parde.


How fals eek was he, Theseus;

That, as the story telleth us,

How he betrayed Adriane;

The devel be his soules bane!

For had he laughed, had he loured,


He mostë have be al devoured,

If Adriane ne had y-be!

And, for she had of him pitee,

She made him fro the dethe escape,

And he made hir a ful fals Iape;


For after this, within a whyle

He lefte hir slepinge in an yle,

Deserte alone, right in the see,

And stal away, and leet hir be;

And took hir suster Phedra tho


With him, and gan to shippe go.

And yet he had y-sworn to here,

On al that ever he mighte swere,

That, so she saved him his lyf,

He wolde have take hir to his wyf;


For she desired nothing elles,

In certein, as the book us telles.

But to excusen Eneas

Fulliche of al his greet trespas,

The book seyth, Mercurie, sauns faile,


Bad him go into Itaile,

{14}And leve Auffrykes regioun,

And Dido and hir faire toun.

Tho saw I grave, how to Itaile

Daun Eneas is go to saile;


And how the tempest al began,

And how he loste his steresman,

Which that the stere, or he took keep,

Smot over-bord, lo! as he sleep.

And also saw I how Sibyle


And Eneas, besyde an yle,

To helle wente, for to see

His fader, Anchises the free.

How he ther fond Palinurus,

And Dido, and eek Deiphebus;


And every tourment eek in helle

Saw he, which is long to telle.

Which who-so willeth for to knowe,

He moste rede many a rowe

On Virgile or on Claudian,


Or Daunte, that hit telle can.

Tho saw I grave al tharivaile

That Eneas had in Itaile;

And with king Latine his tretee,

And alle the batailles that he


Was at him-self, and eek his knightes,

Or he had al y-wonne his rightes;

And how he Turnus refte his lyf,

And wan Lavyna to his wyf;

And al the mervelous signals


Of the goddes celestials;

How, maugre Iuno, Eneas,

For al hir sleighte and hir compas,

Acheved al his aventure;

For Iupiter took of him cure


At the prayere of Venus;

{15}The whiche I preye alway save us,

And us ay of our sorwes lighte!

Whan I had seyen al this sighte

In this noble temple thus,


'A, Lord!' thoughte I, 'that madest us,

Yet saw I never swich noblesse

Of images, ne swich richesse,

As I saw graven in this chirche;

But not woot I who dide hem wirche,


Ne wher I am, ne in what contree.

But now wol I go out and see,

Right at the wiket, if I can

See o-wher stering any man,

That may me telle wher I am.'


When I out at the dores cam,

I faste aboute me beheld.

Then saw I but a large feld,

As fer as that I mighte see,

Withouten toun, or hous, or tree,


Or bush, or gras, or ered lond;

For al the feld nas but of sond

As smal as man may see yet lye

In the desert of Libye;

Ne I no maner creature,


That is y-formed by nature,

Ne saw, me [for] to rede or wisse.

'O Crist,' thoughte I, 'that art in blisse,

Fro fantom and illusioun

Me save!' and with devocioun


Myn yën to the heven I caste.

Tho was I war, lo! at the laste,

That faste by the sonne, as hyë

As kenne mighte I with myn yë,

Me thoughte I saw an egle sore,


But that hit semed moche more

{16}Then I had any egle seyn.

But this as sooth as deeth, certeyn,

Hit was of golde, and shoon so bright,

That never saw men such a sighte,


But-if the heven hadde y-wonne

Al newe of golde another sonne;

So shoon the egles fethres brighte,

And somwhat dounward gan hit lighte.

Explicit liber primus.

[Go to Book II]

The authorities are F. (Fairfax 16); B. (Bodley 638); P. (Pepys 2006); Cx. (Caxton's ed.); Th. (Thynne's ed. 1532). I follow F. mainly, correcting the spelling.

1. P. drem; rest dreme. 8. All have And why; I omit why. 9, 10. F. swevene, evene; Cx. Th. sweuen, euen. 11. Th. B. a fantome; P. a fauntom; Cx. a fanton; F. affaintome; after which, all needlessly insert why. 12. F. Th. B. P. not; Cx. note (= noot). Elide o in so. 20. All wrongly insert is before more. 24. B. of the; rest of her; I omit the (her). 26. F. B. stewe; P. stoe; Cx. stryf; Th. stryfe. 35. P. sweche; rest suche, such. 45. F. B. forwote; rest wote. 50. F. vnderstonde, followed by a metrical mark, indicating a pause: I add n. 58, 62. MSS. dreme (= dreem). 63. See note. 64. B. P. now; F. yow; rest om. 71. P. strem; rest streme (= streem); so P. drem (rest dreme) in l. 80. MSS. cometh (= com'th). 73. Cx. Th. clepe; F. clepeth. 77. F. That; rest And. 78. Th. wol; P. wol; Cx. wyl; F. B. wolde. 85. F. B. stonde; Cx. Th. stande; P. stond. Cx. alle; F. Th. al (wrongly). 88. All pouerte. 89. B. ech; F. eche. 100. I supply that. 103. P. om. a. 109, 110. Cx. seyd, abreyd; the rest seyde (sayde), abreyde (abrayde). Grammar requires seyd, abreyd; (abreyde also occurs). 117, 118. Cx. P. leonard, hard; F. Th. B. leonarde, harde. P. om. of. 119. MSS. slept, slepte; read sleep, as in l. 438. 122. F. Th. golde; Cx. P. gold; B. goold. 126. All queynt. 127. F. B. olde; Th. golde; Cx. P. gold. F. sawgh. 131. Th. This; rest The. 132. F. sawgh. 134. Th. heed; B. hed; F. Cx. hede. Cx. Th. P. parde; F. B. partee (!). 135. B. red; F. Th. rede; Cx. Rose garlondes smellynge as a mede. 136. MSS. combe. B. hed; rest hede. 139. Cx. P. brown; F. broune. 140. Cx. down; F. dovne. 141. P. fond; F. Cx. B. fonde; Th. founde. Cx. Th. wal; B. wall; F. walle. 143. F. B. say; rest synge. F. B. P. om. that. 146. F. B. Troy. 148. Cx. Th. P. Lauyne; F. B. Labyne. 152. Cx. Th. P. Troye; F. B. Troy; see l. 155. 153. All om. That. F. B. P. fals; Cx. fals vntrewe; Th. false vntrewe. 159. Cx. Th. kyng; F. B. kynge. F. y-slayne; rest slayn. 160. Th. Polytes; F. B. Polite. From this point I make no further note of obvious corrections in spelling. 172. Cx. P. Th. goddes; F. B. goddesse (wrongly) 173. F. B. -brende; rest -brenned. 174. Cx. P. this; F. B. his. 184. F. P. That dede not I how she was; B. That ded not I how she was; Cx. That rede note I how it was; Th. That rede nat I howe that it was. Read deed, and insert but. 188. Cx. Th. destyne; F. destanye. 193. Cx. Th. grauen; P. graven; F. grave; B. graue. 196. F. B. Towardes. 199. P. Iubiter; rest Iupiters; read Iupiteres. 204. F. blowe; P. Cx. Th. blowen. 210. Th. herte; rest hert. 220. F. omits from lisse to tempest in next line; the rest are right. 221, 222. F. B. stent, went; Cx. Th. stente, wente. 227. P. Cx. Th. Metten; F. B. Mette. 235. F. P. comfort; rest comforte. 237. P. folk; rest folke; but shulde is here dissyllabic. 242. F. tel; B. telle; P. Cx. Th. tellen. 257, 8. All worde, lorde. 260. Th. the; rest omit. 270. F. vnknowe; rest vnknowen. 278. Th. Or speche; rest Or (F. Of!) for speche; read For speche. Lines 280-2 3 are in Th. only, which reads some; fayrest; lest; than. 285. Cx. Th. (3rd) or; F. B. P. om. 290. F. B. therbe (= the herbe); P. Cx. Th. the herbe. 305. Cx. Th. one; P. on; F. B. love. 309, 310. All delyte, profyte. 313. For mette, Cx. Th. have mette dremyng (!). 314. F. auttour = auctour. 315. F. he; the rest she. 320. F. Th. wol; P. wille; Cx. wyl. 322. F. ha; P. B. haue; rest om. 328. All had. 329. I insert I; which all omit. 332. P. hadde; rest had. 334. Cx. telle; P. tellen; F. tel. 340. F. omits this line; the rest have it. 347. F. B. al youre; Cx. Th. P. myn (om. al). 352. F. B. om. be. 353. Th. duren; F. B. dure. 358. Th. done; rest omit. 362. All insert But before Al. 363. Cx. Th. P. Certeyn; F. B. Certeynly. 365. Cx. goon; P. gon; F. agoon; B. agon. 366. in] All in to. 370. All Allas (alas); read Eneas. 371. F. B. As; rest And. 375. Cx. Th. P. But; F. B. And. 381. F. And nor hyt were to; Cx. And nere it were to; Th. And nere it to; B. P. And ner it were to. Th. B. to endyte; F. Cx. tendyte. 387. P. thenken; F. B. thynke; Cx. Th. thynken. 391. F. B. om. was. 402. Cx. Th. P. And; F. B. omit. 410. Th. al; Cx. all; P. alle; F. B. om. 426. F. B. om. as and us. 428. F. B. om. greet. 429. B. Mercure; F. Mercure; rest om. 433. F. B. how that; rest how. 434. Cx. P. to saylle; Th. for to sayle; F. B. for to assayle. 446. Th. longe is for; F. B. is longe. Cx. P. whyche no tonge can telle. 451. For tharivaile, F. B. Th. have the aryvayle; Cx. the arryuaylle; P. the arevaille. 458. F. labina; rest Lauyna. 468. Cx. P. seyn; rest seen (sene). 473. F. B. grave; rest grauen. 475. F. B. omit in. 478. Th. sterynge any; the rest any stiryng (sterynge). 486. Cx. Th. P. was but of sonde (sande); F. B. nas but sonde. 491. I insert for. Cx. Th. P. insert I after saw; but it is in l. 489. 496. F. B. omit lo. 504. F. B. omit lines 504-507. Colophon and Title. So in Cx.; the rest omit them.


Incipit liber secundus.


Now herkneth, every maner man


That English understonde can,

And listeth of my dreem to lere;

For now at erste shul ye here

So selly an avisioun,

That Isaye, ne Scipioun,


Ne king Nabugodonosor,

Pharo, Turnus, ne Elcanor,

Ne mette swich a dreem as this!


Now faire blisful, O Cipris,

So be my favour at this tyme!


And ye, me to endyte and ryme

Helpeth, that on Parnaso dwelle

By Elicon the clere welle.

O Thought, that wroot al that I mette,

And in the tresorie hit shette


Of my brayn! now shal men see

If any vertu in thee be,

To tellen al my dreem aright;


Now kythe thyn engyn and might!

{17}The Dream.

This egle, of which I have yow told,


That shoon with fethres as of gold,

Which that so hyë gan to sore,

I gan beholde more and more,

To see hir beautee and the wonder;

But never was ther dint of thonder,


Ne that thing that men calle foudre,

That smoot somtyme a tour to poudre,

And in his swifte coming brende,


That so swythe gan descende,

As this foul, whan hit behelde


That I a-roume was in the felde;

And with his grimme pawes stronge,

Within his sharpe nayles longe,

Me, fleinge, at a swappe he hente,

And with his sours agayn up wente,


Me caryinge in his clawes starke

As lightly as I were a larke,

How high, I can not telle yow,


For I cam up, I niste how.

For so, astonied and a-sweved


Was every vertu in my heved,

What with his sours and with my drede,

That al my feling gan to dede;

For-why hit was to greet affray.

Thus I longe in his clawes lay,


Til at the laste he to me spak

In mannes vois, and seyde, 'Awak!

And be not so a-gast, for shame!'


And called me tho by my name.

And, for I sholde the bet abreyde—


Me mette—'Awak,' to me he seyde,

{18}Right in the same vois and stevene

That useth oon I coude nevene;

And with that vois, soth for to sayn,

My minde cam to me agayn;


For hit was goodly seyd to me,

So nas hit never wont to be.

And herwithal I gan to stere,


And he me in his feet to bere,

Til that he felte that I had hete,


And felte eek tho myn herte bete.

And tho gan he me to disporte,

And with wordes to comforte,

And sayde twyës, 'Seynte Marie!

Thou art noyous for to carie,


And nothing nedeth hit, parde!

For al-so wis god helpe me

As thou non harm shalt have of this;


And this cas, that betid thee is,

Is for thy lore and for thy prow;—


Let see! darst thou yet loke now?

Be ful assured, boldely,

I am thy frend.' And therwith I

Gan for to wondren in my minde.

'O god,' thoughte I, 'that madest kinde,


Shal I non other weyes dye?

Wher Ioves wol me stellifye,

Or what thing may this signifye?


I neither am Enok, ne Elye,

Ne Romulus, ne Ganymede


That was y-bore up, as men rede,

To hevene with dan Iupiter,

And maad the goddes boteler.'

Lo! this was tho my fantasye!

But he that bar me gan espye


That I so thoghte, and seyde this:—

'Thou demest of thy-self amis;

For Ioves is not ther-aboute


I dar wel putte thee out of doute—

{19}To make of thee as yet a sterre.


But er I bere thee moche ferre,

I wol thee telle what I am,

And whider thou shalt, and why I cam

To done this, so that thou take

Good herte, and not for fere quake.'


'Gladly,' quod I. 'Now wel,' quod he:—

'First I, that in my feet have thee,

Of which thou hast a feer and wonder,


Am dwelling with the god of thonder,

Which that men callen Iupiter,


That dooth me flee ful ofte fer

To do al his comaundement.

And for this cause he hath me sent

To thee: now herke, by thy trouthe!

Certeyn, he hath of thee routhe,


That thou so longe trewely

Hast served so ententifly

His blinde nevew Cupido,


And fair Venus [goddesse] also,

Withoute guerdoun ever yit,


And nevertheles hast set thy wit—

Although that in thy hede ful lyte is—

To make bokes, songes, dytees,

In ryme, or elles in cadence,

As thou best canst, in reverence


Of Love, and of his servants eke,

That have his servise soght, and seke;

And peynest thee to preyse his art,


Althogh thou haddest never part;

Wherfor, al-so god me blesse,


Ioves halt hit greet humblesse

And vertu eek, that thou wolt make

A-night ful ofte thyn heed to ake,

{20}In thy studie so thou wrytest,

And ever-mo of love endytest,


In honour of him and preysinges,

And in his folkes furtheringes,

And in hir matere al devysest,


And noght him nor his folk despysest,

Although thou mayst go in the daunce


Of hem that him list not avaunce.

'Wherfor, as I seyde, y-wis,

Iupiter considereth this,

And also, beau sir, other thinges;

That is, that thou hast no tydinges


Of Loves folk, if they be glade,

Ne of noght elles that god made;

And noght only fro fer contree


That ther no tyding comth to thee,

But of thy verray neyghebores,


That dwellen almost at thy dores,

Thou herest neither that ne this;

For whan thy labour doon al is,

And hast y-maad thy rekeninges,

In stede of reste and newe thinges,


Thou gost hoom to thy hous anoon;

And, also domb as any stoon,

Thou sittest at another boke,


Til fully daswed is thy loke,

And livest thus as an hermyte,


Although thyn abstinence is lyte.

'And therfor Ioves, through his grace,

Wol that I bere thee to a place,

Which that hight the Hous of Fame,

To do thee som disport and game,


In som recompensacioun

Of labour and devocioun

That thou hast had, lo! causeles,


To Cupido, the reccheles!

{21}And thus this god, thorgh his meryte,


Wol with som maner thing thee quyte,

So that thou wolt be of good chere.

For truste wel, that thou shalt here,

When we be comen ther I seye,

Mo wonder thinges, dar I leye,


Of Loves folke mo tydinges,

Bothe soth-sawes and lesinges;

And mo loves newe begonne,


And longe y-served loves wonne,

And mo loves casuelly


That been betid, no man wot why,

But as a blind man stert an hare;

And more Iolytee and fare,

Whyl that they finde love of stele,

As thinketh hem, and over-al wele;


Mo discords, and mo Ielousyes,

Mo murmurs, and mo novelryes,

And mo dissimulaciouns,


And feyned reparaciouns;

And mo berdes in two houres


Withoute rasour or sisoures

Y-maad, then greynes be of sondes;

And eke mo holdinge in hondes,

And also mo renovelaunces

Of olde forleten aqueyntaunces;


Mo love-dayes and acordes

Then on instruments ben cordes;

And eke of loves mo eschaunges


Than ever cornes were in graunges;

Unethe maistow trowen this?'—


Quod he. 'No, helpe me god so wis!'—

Quod I. 'No? why?' quod he. 'For hit

Were impossible, to my wit,

Though that Fame hadde al the pyes

In al a realme, and al the spyes,


{22}How that yet she shulde here al this,

Or they espye hit.' 'O yis, yis!'

Quod he to me, 'that can I preve


By resoun, worthy for to leve,

So that thou yeve thyn advertence


To understonde my sentence.

'First shall thou heren wher she dwelleth,

And so thyn owne book hit telleth;

Hir paleys stant, as I shal seye,

Right even in middes of the weye


Betwixen hevene, erthe, and see;

That, what-so-ever in al these three

Is spoken, in privee or aperte,


The wey therto is so overte,

And stant eek in so Iuste a place,


That every soun mot to hit pace,

Or what so comth fro any tonge,

Be hit rouned, red, or songe,

Or spoke in seurtee or drede,

Certein, hit moste thider nede.


'Now herkne wel; for-why I wille

Tellen thee a propre skile,

And worthy demonstracioun


In myn imagynacioun.

'Geffrey, thou wost right wel this,


That every kindly thing that is,

Hath a kindly stede ther he

May best in hit conserved be;

Unto which place every thing,

Through his kindly enclyning,


Moveth for to come to,

Whan that hit is awey therfro;

As thus; lo, thou mayst al day see


That any thing that hevy be,

As stoon or leed, or thing of wighte,


And ber hit never so hye on highte,

{23}Lat go thyn hand, hit falleth doun.

'Right so seye I by fyre or soun,

Or smoke, or other thinges lighte,

Alwey they seke upward on highte;


Whyl ech of hem is at his large,

Light thing up, and dounward charge.

'And for this cause mayst thou see,


That every river to the see

Enclyned is to go, by kinde.


And by these skilles, as I finde,

Hath fish dwellinge in floode and see,

And treës eek in erthe be.

Thus every thing, by this resoun,

Hath his propre mansioun,


To which hit seketh to repaire,

As ther hit shulde not apaire.

Lo, this sentence is knowen couthe


Of every philosophres mouthe,

As Aristotle and dan Platon,


And other clerkes many oon;

And to confirme my resoun,

Thou wost wel this, that speche is soun,

Or elles no man mighte hit here;

Now herkne what I wol thee lere.


'Soun is noght but air y-broken,

And every speche that is spoken,

Loud or privee, foul or fair,


In his substaunce is but air;

For as flaumbe is but lighted smoke,


Right so soun is air y-broke.

But this may be in many wyse,

Of which I wil thee two devyse,

As soun that comth of pype or harpe.

For whan a pype is blowen sharpe,


The air is twist with violence,

And rent; lo, this is my sentence;

{24}Eek, whan men harpe-stringes smyte,


Whether hit be moche or lyte,

Lo, with the strook the air to-breketh;


Right so hit breketh whan men speketh.

Thus wost thou wel what thing is speche.

'Now hennesforth I wol thee teche,

How every speche, or noise, or soun,

Through his multiplicacioun,


Thogh hit were pyped of a mouse,

Moot nede come to Fames House.

I preve hit thus—tak hede now—


By experience; for if that thou

Throwe on water now a stoon,


Wel wost thou, hit wol make anoon

A litel roundel as a cercle,

Paraventure brood as a covercle;

And right anoon thou shalt see weel,

That wheel wol cause another wheel,


And that the thridde, and so forth, brother,

Every cercle causing other,

Wyder than himselve was;


And thus, fro roundel to compas,

Ech aboute other goinge,


Caused of othres steringe,

And multiplying ever-mo,

Til that hit be so fer y-go

That hit at bothe brinkes be.

Al-thogh thou mowe hit not y-see


Above, hit goth yet alway under,

Although thou thenke hit a gret wonder.

And who-so seith of trouthe I varie,


Bid him proven the contrarie.

And right thus every word, y-wis,


That loude or privee spoken is,

{25}Moveth first an air aboute,

And of this moving, out of doute,

Another air anoon is meved,

As I have of the water preved,


That every cercle causeth other.

Right so of air, my leve brother;

Everich air in other stereth


More and more, and speche up bereth,

Or vois, or noise, or word, or soun,


Ay through multiplicacioun,

Til hit be atte House of Fame;—

Tak hit in ernest or in game.

'Now have I told, if thou have minde,

How speche or soun, of pure kinde,


Enclyned is upward to meve;

This, mayst thou fele, wel I preve.

And that [the mansioun], y-wis,


That every thing enclyned to is,

Hath his kindeliche stede:


That sheweth hit, withouten drede,

That kindely the mansioun

Of every speche, of every soun,

Be hit either foul or fair,

Hath his kinde place in air.


And sin that every thing, that is

Out of his kinde place, y-wis,

Moveth thider for to go


If hit a-weye be therfro,

As I before have preved thee,


Hit seweth, every soun, pardee,

Moveth kindely to pace

Al up into his kindely place.

And this place of which I telle,

Ther as Fame list to dwelle,


{26}Is set amiddes of these three,

Heven, erthe, and eek the see,

As most conservatif the soun.


Than is this the conclusioun,

That every speche of every man,


As I thee telle first began,

Moveth up on high to pace

Kindely to Fames place.

'Telle me this feithfully,

Have I not preved thus simply,


Withouten any subtiltee

Of speche, or gret prolixitee

Of termes of philosophye,


Of figures of poetrye,

Or colours of rethoryke?


Pardee, hit oghte thee to lyke;

For hard langage and hard matere

Is encombrous for to here

At ones; wost thou not wel this?'

And I answerde, and seyde, 'Yis.'


'A ha!' quod he, 'lo, so I can,

Lewedly to a lewed man

Speke, and shewe him swiche skiles,


That he may shake hem by the biles,

So palpable they shulden be.


But tel me this, now pray I thee,

How thinkth thee my conclusioun?'

[Quod he]. 'A good persuasioun,'

Quod I, 'hit is; and lyk to be

Right so as thou hast preved me.'


'By god,' quod he, 'and as I leve,

Thou shall have yit, or hit be eve,

Of every word of this sentence


A preve, by experience;

And with thyn eres heren wel


Top and tail, and everydel,

{27}That every word that spoken is

Comth into Fames Hous, y-wis,

As I have seyd; what wilt thou more?'

And with this word upper to sore


He gan, and seyde, 'By Seynt Iame!

Now wil we speken al of game.'—

'How farest thou?' quod he to me.


'Wel,' quod I. 'Now see,' quod he,

'By thy trouthe, yond adoun,


Wher that thou knowest any toun,

Or hous, or any other thing.

And whan thou hast of ought knowing,

Loke that thou warne me,

And I anoon shal telle thee


How fer that thou art now therfro.'

And I adoun gan loken tho,

And beheld feldes and plaines,


And now hilles, and now mountaines,

Now valeys, and now forestes,


And now, unethes, grete bestes;

Now riveres, now citees,

Now tounes, and now grete trees,

Now shippes sailinge in the see.

But thus sone in a whyle he


Was flowen fro the grounde so hyë,

That al the world, as to myn yë,

No more semed than a prikke;


Or elles was the air so thikke

That I ne mighte not discerne.


With that he spak to me as yerne,

And seyde: 'Seestow any [toun]

Or ought thou knowest yonder doun?'

I seyde, 'Nay.' 'No wonder nis,'

Quod he, 'for half so high as this


{28}Nas Alexander Macedo;

Ne the king, dan Scipio,

That saw in dreme, at point devys,


Helle and erthe, and paradys;

Ne eek the wrecche Dedalus,


Ne his child, nyce Icarus,

That fleigh so highe that the hete

His winges malt, and he fel wete

In-mid the see, and ther he dreynte,

For whom was maked moch compleynte.


'Now turn upward,' quod he, 'thy face,

And behold this large place,

This air; but loke thou ne be


Adrad of hem that thou shalt see;

For in this regioun, certein,


Dwelleth many a citezein,

Of which that speketh dan Plato.

These ben the eyrish bestes, lo!'

And so saw I al that meynee

Bothe goon and also flee.


'Now,' quod he tho, 'cast up thyn yë;

See yonder, lo, the Galaxyë,

Which men clepeth the Milky Wey,


For hit is whyt: and somme, parfey,

Callen hit Watlinge Strete:


That ones was y-brent with hete,

Whan the sonnes sone, the rede,

That highte Pheton, wolde lede

Algate his fader cart, and gye.

The cart-hors gonne wel espye


That he ne coude no governaunce

And gonne for to lepe and launce,

And beren him now up, now doun,


Til that he saw the Scorpioun,

Which that in heven a signe is yit.


And he, for ferde, loste his wit,

Of that, and leet the reynes goon

Of his hors; and they anoon

{29}Gonne up to mounte, and doun descende

Til bothe the eyr and erthe brende;


Til Iupiter, lo, atte laste,

Him slow, and fro the carte caste.

Lo, is it not a greet mischaunce,


To lete a fole han governaunce

Of thing that he can not demeine?'


And with this word, soth for to seyne,

He gan alway upper to sore,

And gladded me ay more and more,

So feithfully to me spak he.

Tho gan I loken under me,


And beheld the eyrish bestes,

Cloudes, mistes, and tempestes,

Snowes, hailes, reines, windes,


And thengendring in hir kindes,

And al the wey through whiche I cam;


'O god,' quod I, 'that made Adam,

Moche is thy might and thy noblesse!'

And tho thoughte I upon Boëce,

That writ, 'a thought may flee so hyë,

With fetheres of Philosophye,


To passen everich element;

And whan he hath so fer y-went,

Than may be seen, behind his bak,


Cloud, and al that I of spak.'

Tho gan I wexen in a were,


And seyde, 'I woot wel I am here;

But wher in body or in gost

I noot, y-wis; but god, thou wost!'

For more cleer entendement

Nadde he me never yit y-sent.


And than thoughte I on Marcian,

And eek on Anteclaudian,

{30}That sooth was hir descripcioun


Of al the hevenes regioun,

As fer as that I saw the preve;


Therfor I can hem now beleve.

With that this egle gan to crye:

'Lat be,' quod he, 'thy fantasye;

Wilt thou lere of sterres aught?'

'Nay, certeinly,' quod I, 'right naught;


And why? for I am now to old.'

'Elles I wolde thee have told,'

Quod he, 'the sterres names, lo,


And al the hevenes signes to,

And which they been.' 'No fors,' quod I.


'Yis, pardee,' quod he; 'wostow why?

For whan thou redest poetrye,

How goddes gonne stellifye

Brid, fish, beste, or him or here,

As the Raven, or either Bere,


Or Ariones harpe fyn,

Castor, Pollux, or Delphyn,

Or Atlantes doughtres sevene,


How alle these arn set in hevene;

For though thou have hem ofte on honde,


Yet nostow not wher that they stonde.'

'No fors,' quod I, 'hit is no nede;

I leve as wel, so god me spede,

Hem that wryte of this matere,

As though I knew hir places here;


And eek they shynen here so brighte,

Hit shulde shenden al my sighte,

To loke on hem.' 'That may wel be,'


Quod he. And so forth bar he me

A whyl, and than he gan to crye,


That never herde I thing so hye,

'Now up the heed; for al is wel;

Seynt Iulyan, lo, bon hostel!

{31}See here the House of Fame, lo!

Maistow not heren that I do?'


'What?' quod I. 'The grete soun,'

Quod he, 'that rumbleth up and doun

In Fames Hous, ful of tydinges,


Bothe of fair speche and chydinges,

And of fals and soth compouned.


Herkne wel; hit is not rouned.

Herestow not the grete swogh?'

'Yis, pardee,' quod I, 'wel y-nogh.'

'And what soun is it lyk?' quod he.

'Peter! lyk beting of the see,'


Quod I, 'again the roches holowe,

Whan tempest doth the shippes swalowe;

And lat a man stonde, out of doute,


A myle thens, and here hit route;

Or elles lyk the last humblinge


After the clappe of a thundringe,

When Ioves hath the air y-bete;

But hit doth me for fere swete.'

'Nay, dred thee not therof,' quod he,

'Hit is nothing wil byten thee;


Thou shalt non harm have, trewely.'

And with this word bothe he and I

As nigh the place arryved were


As men may casten with a spere.

I nistë how, but in a strete


He sette me faire on my fete,

And seyde, 'Walke forth a pas,

And tak thyn aventure or cas,

That thou shalt finde in Fames place.'

'Now,' quod I, 'whyl we han space


To speke, or that I go fro thee,

For the love of god, tel me,

In sooth, that wil I of thee lere,


If this noise that I here

{32}Be, as I have herd thee tellen,


Of folk that doun in erthe dwellen,

And comth here in the same wyse

As I thee herde or this devyse;

And that ther lyves body nis

In al that hous that yonder is,


That maketh al this loude fare?'

'No,' quod he, 'by Seynte Clare,

And also wis god rede me!


But o thinge I wil warne thee

Of the which thou wolt have wonder.


Lo, to the House of Fame yonder

Thou wost how cometh every speche,

Hit nedeth noght thee eft to teche.

But understond now right wel this;

Whan any speche y-comen is


Up to the paleys, anon-right

Hit wexeth lyk the same wight,

Which that the word in erthe spak,


Be hit clothed reed or blak;

And hath so verray his lyknesse


That spak the word, that thou wilt gesse

That hit the same body be,

Man or woman, he or she.

And is not this a wonder thing?'

'Yis,' quod I tho, 'by hevene king!'


And with this worde, 'Farwel,' quod he,

'And here I wol abyden thee;

And god of hevene sende thee grace,


Som good to lernen in this place.'

And I of him took leve anoon,


And gan forth to the paleys goon.

Explicit liber secundus.

[Go to Book III]

511. P. listeth; Th. lysteth; F. Cx. listeneth; B. lystneth. 513. All sely; read selly (Willert). 514. Cx. Th. Scipion; F. P. Cipion; B. Cypyon. 516. Th. Alcanore. 533. Cx. Th. P. her; F. B. the. 535. F. B. kynge (by mistake for thing). 536. Cx. Th. P. smyte; F. B. smote. Cx. Th. P. to; F. B. of. 537. Cx. Th. P. brende; F. beende; B. bende. 543. Cx. Th. P. at; F. B. in. 545. F. cryinge (!). 548. Cx. P. cam; F. came. 552. P. Cx. Th. That; F. B. And. F. felynge. 557. Cx. Th. P. agast so (but read so agast); F. B. omit so. 558. Cx. Th. tho; which F. B. P. omit. 566. B. Th. nas; F. Cx. was. 570. F. that; the rest tho. 573. All seynt. 575. F. B. omit hit. 592. All made. 603. All do; read done (gerund). 618. goddesse is not in the MSS. The line is obviously too short. 621. F. Th. lytel; Cx. lytyl; B. litell; P. litil (all wrong); read lyte. 622. Cx. P. bookes songes or ditees; Th. bokes songes and ditees; F. B. songes dytees bookys. 635. F. B. and in; rest and. 647. F. frerre (by mistake). 650. Cx. Th. dwellen; P. dwelleth; F. B. dwelle. 651. F. ner; B. nor; Cx. Th. P. ne. 653. F. ymade; B. I-made; Cx. made alle thy; Th. made al thy; P. I-made alle thy. 658. Cx. P. daswed; F. B. dasewyd; Th. dased. 673. Cx. Th. comen; F. come. 676. F. sothe sawes; Cx. Th. P. sothsawes. 680. Cx. Th. ben; P. been; F. B. omit. 682. fare] Cx. Th. P. welfare. 685. Cx. Th. and; rest om. 696. F. B. acordes (!). 705. Cx. she; rest he. 711. P. heren; rest here. 715. F. and erthe; rest omit and. 717. Cx. Th. P. in; F. B. either. 723. or] F. B. or in. 727. Cx. Th. a worthy; P. a wurthy; F. worthe a; B. worth a; omit a. 739, 740. I add e in wighte, highte. 746. Cx. Th. vp; F. B. P. vpwarde. Cx. Th. P. transpose 745, 746. 755. B. it; F. om.; Cx. Th. P. he. 764. All herke; see l. 725. 766. Cx. Th. spoken; P. poken (!); F. B. yspoken. 773. Cx. Th. P. As; F. B. Of (copied from l. 772). 780. Cx. Th. P. And ryght so brekyth it; F. B. omit this line. 789. F. Thorwe; B. P. Throw; Cx. Th. Threwe. 794. F. Th. B. whele sercle (for 1st wheel); Cx. P. omit the line. (Sercle is a gloss upon wheel). 798. F. B. this; rest thus. F. B. om. to. 800. Cx. Th. P. Causeth. 803. F. Tyl; rest That. 804. F. om. thogh. 805. F. B. om. alway. 810. F. B. yspoken. 817. F. B. om. in. Read another (Willert). 821. Cx. Th. P. at the. 823. Cx. Th. P. thou haue; F. B. ye haue in. 827. F. And that sum place stide; B. And that som styde; Th. And that some stede; Cx. P. omit ll. 827-864. read And that the mansioun (see ll. 754, 831). 830. For That read Than? 838. MSS. a wey, away. 839. F. Th. B. haue before; Cx. P. omit the line. 853. Th. B. this; F. thus. 859. Th. of; F. B. or. 860. All ought. 866. P. to a lewde; Cx. Th. vnto a lewde; F. trealwed (!); B. talwyd (!). 872. All omit Quod he; cf. ll. 700, 701. 873. P. Cx. Th. I; F. B. he. F. B. me (for be). 886. P. Cx. speken; rest speke. 896. Cx. Th. gan to; rest to (!). 899. F. B. P. om. and. 911. F. B. omit this line; for Seestow, Cx. Th. P. have Seest thou. For toun, all have token; see l. 890. 912. From P.; F. B. omit this line. Cx. Or ought that in the world is of spoken; Th. Or aught that in this worlde is of spoken; see l. 889. 913. F. B. om. I seyde. 932. F. B. om. the. 951. Cx. P. lete (= leet); F. B. lat. 955. F. Cx. Iubiter. 956. F. B. fer fro; P. Cx. Th. om. fer. 957. Cx. P. grete; Th. great; F. mochil; B. mochill. 961. Cx. Th. P. alway vpper; F. B. vpper alway for. Cf. l. 884. 964. F. Th. B. ins. to bef. loken. 969. P. Cx. And; rest om. 973. Cx. Th. wryteth; F. writ. F. B. of (for a). 978. So P. Cx.; rest ins. and erthe bef. and. 984. F. B. Nas (om. he me); Th. Nas me; Cx. P. Nadde he me. 998. to] F. B. ther-to. 999. F. B. insert and before No. 1003. F. B. Briddes; P. Brid; Cx. Byrd; Th. Byrde. 1007. F. Cx. Th. B. Athalantes (-ys); P. athlauntres; see note. 1014. Cx. Th. P. As; F. Alle; B. Al. 1015. Cx. P. they shynen; F. Th. B. thy seluen (!). 1029. F. inserts that before soth. 1030. Cx. Herkne; P. Th. Herken; F. B. Herke. 1034. F. B. P. om. lyk. 1040. Cx. Th. P. the; F. P. a. Cx. Th. P. a; F. B. oo. 1044. F. P. beten; Th. B. byten; Cx. greue. 1056. Th. tel; P. tell; rest telle. 1057. Cx. Th. P. I wyl; F. B. wil I. 1063. F. B. om. And. 1071. F. B. ins. now bef. how. 1072. Th. the efte; Cx. the more; F. B. eft the; P. the. 1079. Cx. Th. hath so very; P. hath so verrey; F. B. so were (!). 1080. Cx. P. That; F. B. Th. And (!). 1088. F. Cx. Th. lerne; read lernen. Colophon.From Cx. Th.



Incipit liber tercius.


O god of science and of light,

Apollo, through thy grete might,

This litel laste book thou gye!

Nat that I wilne, for maistrye,


Here art poetical be shewed;

But, for the rym is light and lewed,

Yit make hit sumwhat agreable,

Though som vers faile in a sillable;

And that I do no diligence

(10) 1100

To shewe craft, but o sentence.

And if, divyne vertu, thou

Wilt helpe me to shewe now

That in myn hede y-marked is—

Lo, that is for to menen this,


The Hous of Fame to descryve—

Thou shalt see me go, as blyve,

Unto the nexte laure I see,

And kisse hit, for hit is thy tree;

Now entreth in my breste anoon!—

The Dream.

(20) 1110

Whan I was fro this egle goon,

I gan beholde upon this place.

And certein, or I ferther pace,

I wol yow al the shap devyse

Of hous and site; and al the wyse


How I gan to this place aproche

That stood upon so high a roche,

{34}Hyer stant ther noon in Spaine.

But up I clomb with alle paine,

And though to climbe hit greved me,

(30) 1120

Yit I ententif was to see,

And for to pouren wonder lowe,

If I coude any weyes knowe

What maner stoon this roche was;

For hit was lyk a thing of glas,


But that hit shoon ful more clere;

But of what congeled matere

Hit was, I niste redely.

But at the laste espyed I,

And found that hit was, every deel,

(40) 1130

A roche of yse, and not of steel.

Thoughte I, 'By Seynt Thomas of Kent!

This were a feble foundement

To bilden on a place hye;

He oughte him litel glorifye


That her-on bilt, god so me save!'

Tho saw I al the half y-grave

With famous folkes names fele,

That had y-been in mochel wele,

And hir fames wyde y-blowe.

(50) 1140

But wel unethes coude I knowe

Any lettres for to rede

Hir names by; for, out of drede,

They were almost of-thowed so,

That of the lettres oon or two


Was molte away of every name;

So unfamous was wexe hir fame;

But men seyn, 'What may ever laste?'

Tho gan I in myn herte caste,

That they were molte awey with hete,

(60) 1150

And not awey with stormes bete.

For on that other syde I sey

Of this hille, that northward lay,

{35}How hit was writen ful of names

Of folk that hadden grete fames


Of olde tyme, and yit they were

As fresshe as men had writen hem there

The selve day right, or that houre

That I upon hem gan to poure.

But wel I wiste what hit made;

(70) 1160

Hit was conserved with the shade—

Al this wrytinge that I sy—

Of a castel, that stood on by,

And stood eek on so cold a place,

That hete mighte hit not deface.


Tho gan I up the hille to goon,

And fond upon the coppe a woon,

That alle the men that ben on lyve

Ne han the cunning to descryve

The beautee of that ilke place,

(80) 1170

Ne coude casten no compace

Swich another for to make,

That mighte of beautee be his make,

Ne [be] so wonderliche y-wrought;

That hit astonieth yit my thought,


And maketh al my wit to swinke

On this castel to bethinke.

So that the grete craft, beautee,

The cast, the curiositee

Ne can I not to yow devyse,

(90) 1180

My wit ne may me not suifyse.

But natheles al the substance

I have yit in my remembrance:

For-why me thoughte, by Seynt Gyle!

Al was of stone of beryle,


Bothe castel and the tour,

And eek the halle, and every bour,

{36}Withouten peces or Ioininges.

But many subtil compassinges,

Babewinnes and pinacles,

(100) 1190

Imageries and tabernacles,

I saw; and ful eek of windowes,

As flakes falle in grete snowes.

And eek in ech of the pinacles

Weren sondry habitacles,


In whiche stoden, al withoute—

Ful the castel, al aboute—

Of alle maner of minstrales,

And gestiours, that tellen tales

Bothe of weping and of game,

(110) 1200

Of al that longeth unto Fame.

Ther herde I pleyen on an harpe

That souned bothe wel and sharpe,

Orpheus ful craftely,

And on his syde, faste by,


Sat the harper Orion,

And Eacides Chiron,

And other harpers many oon,

And the Bret Glascurion;

And smale harpers with her gleës

(120) 1210

Seten under hem in seës,

And gonne on hem upward to gape,

And countrefete hem as an ape,

Or as craft countrefeteth kinde.

Tho saugh I stonden hem behinde,


A-fer fro hem, al by hemselve,

Many thousand tymes twelve,

That maden loude menstralcyes

In cornemuse and shalmyes,

{37}And many other maner pype,

(130) 1220

That craftely begunne pype

Bothe in doucet and in rede,

That ben at festes with the brede;

And many floute and lilting-horne,

And pypes made of grene corne,


As han thise litel herde-gromes,

That kepen bestes in the bromes.

Ther saugh I than Atiteris,

And of Athenes dan Pseustis,

And Marcia that lost her skin,

(140) 1230

Bothe in face, body, and chin,

For that she wolde envyen, lo!

To pypen bet then Apollo.

Ther saugh I famous, olde and yonge,

Pypers of the Duche tonge,


To lerne love-daunces, springes,

Reyes, and these straunge thinges.

Tho saugh I in another place

Stonden in a large space,

Of hem that maken blody soun

(150) 1240

In trumpe, beme, and clarioun;

For in fight and blood-shedinge

Is used gladly clarioninge.

Ther herde I trumpen Messenus,

Of whom that speketh Virgilius.


Ther herde I Ioab trumpe also,

Theodomas, and other mo;

And alle that used clarion

In Cataloigne and Aragon,

That in hir tyme famous were

(160) 1250

To lerne, saugh I trumpe there.

{38}Ther saugh I sitte in other seës,

Pleyinge upon sondry gleës,

Whiche that I cannot nevene,

Mo then sterres been in hevene,


Of whiche I nil as now not ryme,

For ese of yow, and losse of tyme:

For tyme y-lost, this knowen ye,

By no way may recovered be.

Ther saugh I pleyen Iogelours,

(170) 1260

Magiciens and tregetours,

And phitonesses, charmeresses,

Olde wicches, sorceresses,

That use exorsisaciouns,

And eek thise fumigaciouns;


And clerkes eek, which conne wel

Al this magyke naturel,

That craftely don hir ententes,

To make, in certeyn ascendentes,

Images, lo, through which magyk

(180) 1270

To make a man ben hool or syk.

Ther saugh I thee, queen Medea,

And Circes eke, and Calipsa;

Ther saugh I Hermes Ballenus,

Lymote, and eek Simon Magus.


Ther saugh I, and knew hem by name,

That by such art don men han fame.

Ther saugh I Colle tregetour

Upon a table of sicamour

Pleye an uncouthe thing to telle;

(190) 1280

I saugh him carien a wind-melle

Under a walsh-note shale.

What shuld I make lenger tale

{39}Of al the peple that I say,

Fro hennes in-to domesday?


Whan I had al this folk beholde,

And fond me lous, and noght y-holde,

And eft y-mused longe whyle

Upon these walles of beryle,

That shoon ful lighter than a glas,

(200) 1290

And made wel more than hit was

To semen, every thing, y-wis,

As kinde thing of fames is;

I gan forth romen til I fond

The castel-yate on my right hond,


Which that so wel corven was

That never swich another nas;

And yit hit was by aventure

Y-wrought, as often as by cure.

Hit nedeth noght yow for to tellen,

(210) 1300

To make yow to longe dwellen,

Of this yates florisshinges,

Ne of compasses, ne of kervinges,

Ne how they hatte in masoneries,

As, corbets fulle of imageries.


But, lord! so fair hit was to shewe,

For hit was al with gold behewe.

But in I wente, and that anoon;

Ther mette I crying many oon,—

'A larges, larges, hold up wel!

(220) 1310

God save the lady of this pel,

Our owne gentil lady Fame,

And hem that wilnen to have name

Of us!' Thus herde I cryen alle,

And faste comen out of halle,


{40}And shoken nobles and sterlinges.

And somme crouned were as kinges,

With crounes wroght ful of losenges;

And many riban, and many frenges

Were on hir clothes trewely.

(230) 1320

Tho atte laste aspyed I

That pursevauntes and heraudes,

That cryen riche folkes laudes,

Hit weren alle; and every man

Of hem, as I yow tellen can,


Had on him throwen a vesture,

Which that men clepe a cote-armure,

Enbrowded wonderliche riche,

Al-though they nere nought y-liche.

But noght nil I, so mote I thryve,

(240) 1330

Been aboute to discryve

Al these armes that ther weren,

That they thus on hir cotes beren,

For hit to me were impossible;

Men mighte make of hem a bible


Twenty foot thikke, as I trowe.

For certeyn, who-so coude y-knowe

Mighte ther alle the armes seen

Of famous folk that han y-been

In Auffrike, Europe, and Asye,

(250) 1340

Sith first began the chevalrye.

Lo! how shulde I now telle al this?

Ne of the halle eek what nede is

To tellen yow, that every wal

Of hit, and floor, and roof and al


Was plated half a fote thikke

Of gold, and that nas no-thing wikke,

But, for to prove in alle wyse,

As fyn as ducat in Venyse,

{41}Of whiche to lyte al in my pouche is?

(260) 1350

And they wer set as thikke of nouchis

Fulle of the fynest stones faire,

That men rede in the Lapidaire,

As greses growen in a mede;

But hit were al to longe to rede


The names; and therfore I pace.

But in this riche lusty place,

That Fames halle called was,

Ful moche prees of folk ther nas,

Ne crouding, for to mochil prees.

(270) 1360

But al on hye, above a dees,

Sitte in a see imperial,

That maad was of a rubee al,

Which that a carbuncle is y-called,

I saugh, perpetually y-stalled,


A feminyne creature;

That never formed by nature

Nas swich another thing y-seye.

For altherfirst, soth for to seye,

Me thoughte that she was so lyte,

(280) 1370

That the lengthe of a cubyte

Was lenger than she semed be;

But thus sone, in a whyle, she

Hir tho so wonderliche streighte,

That with hir feet she therthe reighte,


And with hir heed she touched hevene,

Ther as shynen sterres sevene.

And ther-to eek, as to my wit,

I saugh a gretter wonder yit,

Upon hir eyen to beholde;

(290) 1380

But certeyn I hem never tolde;

For as fele eyen hadde she

As fetheres upon foules be,

{42}Or weren on the bestes foure,

That goddes trone gunne honoure,


As Iohn writ in thapocalips.

Hir heer, that oundy was and crips,

As burned gold hit shoon to see.

And sooth to tellen, also she

Had also fele up-stonding eres

(300) 1390

And tonges, as on bestes heres;

And on hir feet wexen saugh I

Partriches winges redely.

But, lord! the perrie and the richesse

I saugh sitting on this goddesse!


And, lord! the hevenish melodye

Of songes, ful of armonye,

I herde aboute her trone y-songe,

That al the paleys-walles ronge!

So song the mighty Muse, she

(310) 1400

That cleped is Caliopee,

And hir eighte sustren eke,

That in hir face semen meke;

And evermo, eternally,

They songe of Fame, as tho herde I:—


'Heried be thou and thy name,

Goddesse of renoun and of fame!'

Tho was I war, lo, atte laste,

As I myn eyen gan up caste,

That this ilke noble quene

(320) 1410

On hir shuldres gan sustene

Bothe tharmes and the name

Of tho that hadde large fame;

Alexander, and Hercules

That with a sherte his lyf lees!


Thus fond I sitting this goddesse,

In nobley, honour, and richesse;

Of which I stinte a whyle now,

Other thing to tellen yow.

{43}Tho saugh I stonde on either syde,

(330) 1420

Streight doun to the dores wyde,

Fro the dees, many a pileer

Of metal, that shoon not ful cleer;

But though they nere of no richesse,

Yet they were maad for greet noblesse,


And in hem greet [and hy] sentence;

And folk of digne reverence,

Of whiche I wol yow telle fonde,

Upon the piler saugh I stonde.

Alderfirst, lo, ther I sigh,

(340) 1430

Upon a piler stonde on high,

That was of lede and yren fyn,

Him of secte Saturnyn,

The Ebrayk Iosephus, the olde,

That of Iewes gestes tolde;


And bar upon his shuldres hye

The fame up of the Iewerye.

And by him stoden other sevene,

Wyse and worthy for to nevene,

To helpen him here up the charge,

(350) 1440

Hit was so hevy and so large.

And for they writen of batailes,

As wel as other olde mervailes,

Therfor was, lo, this pileer,

Of which that I yow telle heer,


Of lede and yren bothe, y-wis.

For yren Martes metal is,

Which that god is of bataile;

And the leed, withouten faile,

Is, lo, the metal of Saturne,

(360) 1450

That hath ful large wheel to turne.

Tho stoden forth, on every rowe,

Of hem which that I coude knowe,

{44}Thogh I hem noght by ordre telle,

To make yow to long to dwelle.


These, of whiche I ginne rede,

Ther saugh I stonden, out of drede:

Upon an yren piler strong,

That peynted was, al endelong,

With tygres blode in every place,

(370) 1460

The Tholosan that highte Stace,

That bar of Thebes up the fame

Upon his shuldres, and the name

Also of cruel Achilles.

And by him stood, withouten lees,


Ful wonder hye on a pileer

Of yren, he, the gret Omeer;

And with him Dares and Tytus

Before, and eek he, Lollius,

And Guido eek de Columpnis,

(380) 1470

And English Gaufride eek, y-wis;

And ech of these, as have I Ioye,

Was besy for to bere up Troye.

So hevy ther-of was the fame,

That for to bere hit was no game.


But yit I gan ful wel espye,

Betwix hem was a litel envye.

Oon seyde, Omere made lyes,

Feyninge in his poetryes,

And was to Grekes favorable;

(390) 1480

Therfor held he hit but fable.

Tho saugh I stonde on a pileer,

That was of tinned yren cleer,

That Latin poete, [dan] Virgyle,

That bore hath up a longe whyle


The fame of Pius Eneas.

And next him on a piler was,

Of coper, Venus clerk, Ovyde,

That hath y-sowen wonder wyde

{45}The grete god of Loves name.

(400) 1490

And ther he bar up wel his fame,

Upon this piler, also hye

As I might see hit with myn yë:

For-why this halle, of whiche I rede

Was woxe on highte, lengthe and brede,


Wel more, by a thousand del,

Than hit was erst, that saugh I wel.

Tho saugh I, on a piler by,

Of yren wroght ful sternely,

The grete poete, daun Lucan,

(410) 1500

And on his shuldres bar up than,

As highe as that I mighte see,

The fame of Iulius and Pompee.

And by him stoden alle these clerkes,

That writen of Romes mighty werkes,


That, if I wolde hir names telle,

Al to longe moste I dwelle.

And next him on a piler stood

Of soulfre, lyk as he were wood,

Dan Claudian, the soth to telle,

(420) 1510

That bar up al the fame of helle,

Of Pluto, and of Proserpyne,

That quene is of the derke pyne.

What shulde I more telle of this?

The halle was al ful, y-wis,


Of hem that writen olde gestes,

As ben on treës rokes nestes;

But hit a ful confus matere

Were al the gestes for to here,

That they of write, and how they highte.

(430) 1520

But whyl that I beheld this sighte,

I herde a noise aprochen blyve,

That ferde as been don in an hyve,

Agen her tyme of out-fleyinge;

Right swiche a maner murmuringe,


{46}For al the world, hit semed me.

Tho gan I loke aboute and see,

That ther com entring in the halle

A right gret company with-alle,

And that of sondry regiouns,

(440) 1530

Of alleskinnes condiciouns,

That dwelle in erthe under the mone,

Pore and ryche. And also sone

As they were come into the halle,

They gonne doun on kneës falle


Before this ilke noble quene,

And seyde, 'Graunte us, lady shene,

Ech of us, of thy grace, a bone!'

And somme of hem she graunted sone,

And somme she werned wel and faire;

(450) 1540

And somme she graunted the contraire

Of hir axing utterly.

But thus I seye yow trewely,

What hir cause was, I niste.

For this folk, ful wel I wiste,


They hadde good fame ech deserved,

Althogh they were diversly served;

Right as hir suster, dame Fortune,

Is wont to serven in comune.

Now herkne how she gan to paye

(460) 1550

That gonne hir of hir grace praye;

And yit, lo, al this companye

Seyden sooth, and noght a lye.

'Madame,' seyden they, 'we be

Folk that heer besechen thee,


That thou graunte us now good fame,

And lete our werkes han that name;

In ful recompensacioun

Of good werk, give us good renoun.'

'I werne yow hit,' quod she anoon,

(470) 1560

'Ye gete of me good fame noon,

{47}By god! and therfor go your wey.'

'Alas,' quod they, 'and welaway!

Telle us, what may your cause be?'

'For me list hit noght,' quod she;


'No wight shal speke of yow, y-wis,

Good ne harm, ne that ne this.'

And with that word she gan to calle

Hir messanger, that was in halle,

And bad that he shulde faste goon,

(480) 1570

Up peyne to be blind anoon,

For Eolus, the god of winde;—

'In Trace ther ye shul him finde,

And bid him bringe his clarioun,

That is ful dyvers of his soun,


And hit is cleped Clere Laude,

With which he wont is to heraude

Hem that me list y-preised be:

And also bid him how that he

Bringe his other clarioun,

(490) 1580

That highte Sclaundre in every toun,

With which he wont is to diffame

Hem that me list, and do hem shame.'

This messanger gan faste goon,

And found wher, in a cave of stoon,


In a contree that highte Trace,

This Eolus, with harde grace,

Held the windes in distresse,

And gan hem under him to presse,

That they gonne as beres rore,

(500) 1590

He bond and pressed hem so sore.

This messanger gan faste crye,

'Rys up,' quod he, 'and faste hye,

Til that thou at my lady be;

And tak thy clarions eek with thee,


And speed thee forth.' And he anon

Took to a man, that hight Triton,

{48}His clariouns to bere tho,

And leet a certeyn wind to go,

That blew so hidously and hye,

(510) 1600

That hit ne lefte not a skye

In al the welken longe and brood.

This Eolus no-wher abood

Til he was come at Fames feet,

And eek the man that Triton heet;


And ther he stood, as still as stoon.

And her-withal ther com anoon

Another huge companye

Of gode folk, and gunne crye,

'Lady, graunte us now good fame,

(520) 1610

And lat our werkes han that name

Now, in honour of gentilesse,

And also god your soule blesse!

For we han wel deserved hit,

Therfor is right that we ben quit.'


'As thryve I,' quod she, 'ye shal faile,

Good werkes shal yow noght availe

To have of me good fame as now.

But wite ye what? I graunte yow,

That ye shal have a shrewed fame

(530) 1620

And wikked loos, and worse name,

Though ye good loos have wel deserved.

Now go your wey, for ye be served;

And thou, dan Eolus, let see!

Tak forth thy trumpe anon,' quod she,


'That is y-cleped Sclaunder light,

And blow hir loos, that every wight

Speke of hem harm and shrewednesse,

In stede of good and worthinesse.

For thou shalt trumpe al the contraire

(540) 1630

Of that they han don wel or faire.'

'Alas,' thoughte I, 'what aventures

Han these sory creatures!

{49}For they, amonges al the pres,

Shul thus be shamed gilteles!


But what! hit moste nedes be.'

What did this Eolus, but he

Tok out his blakke trumpe of bras,

That fouler than the devil was,

And gan this trumpe for to blowe,

(550) 1640

As al the world shulde overthrowe;

That through-out every regioun

Wente this foule trumpes soun,

As swift as pelet out of gonne,

Whan fyr is in the poudre ronne.


And swiche a smoke gan out-wende

Out of his foule trumpes ende,

Blak, blo, grenish, swartish reed,

As doth wher that men melte leed,

Lo, al on high fro the tuel!

(560) 1650

And therto oo thing saugh I wel,

That, the ferther that hit ran,

The gretter wexen hit began,

As doth the river from a welle,

And hit stank as the pit of helle.


Alas, thus was hir shame y-ronge,

And giltelees, on every tonge.

Tho com the thridde companye,

And gunne up to the dees to hye,

And doun on knees they fille anon,

(570) 1660

And seyde, 'We ben everichon

Folk that han ful trewely

Deserved fame rightfully,

And praye yow, hit mot be knowe,

Right as hit is, and forth y-blowe.'


'I graunte,' quod she, 'for me list

That now your gode werk be wist;

And yit ye shul han better loos,

Right in dispyt of alle your foos,

{50}Than worthy is; and that anoon:

(580) 1670

Lat now,' quod she, 'thy trumpe goon,

Thou Eolus, that is so blak;

And out thyn other trumpe tak

That highte Laude, and blow hit so

That through the world hir fame go


Al esely, and not to faste,

That hit be knowen atte laste.'

'Ful gladly, lady myn,' he seyde;

And out his trumpe of golde he brayde

Anon, and sette hit to his mouthe,

(590) 1680

And blew hit est, and west, and southe,

And north, as loude as any thunder,

That every wight hadde of hit wonder,

So brode hit ran, or than hit stente.

And, certes, al the breeth that wente


Out of his trumpes mouthe smelde

As men a pot-ful bawme helde

Among a basket ful of roses;

This favour dide he til hir loses.

And right with this I gan aspye,

(600) 1690

Ther com the ferthe companye—

But certeyn they were wonder fewe—

And gonne stonden in a rewe,

And seyden, 'Certes, lady brighte,

We han don wel with al our mighte;


But we ne kepen have no fame.

Hyd our werkes and our name,

For goddes love! for certes we

Han certeyn doon hit for bountee,

And for no maner other thing.'

(610) 1700

'I graunte yow al your asking,'

Quod she; 'let your werk be deed.'

With that aboute I clew myn heed,

And saugh anoon the fifte route

That to this lady gonne loute,


{51}And doun on knees anoon to falle;

And to hir tho besoughten alle

To hyde hir gode werkes eek,

And seyde, they yeven noght a leek

For fame, ne for swich renoun;

(620) 1710

For they, for contemplacioun

And goddes love, hadde y-wrought;

Ne of fame wolde they nought.

'What?' quod she, 'and be ye wood?

And wene ye for to do good,


And for to have of that no fame?

Have ye dispyt to have my name?

Nay, ye shul liven everichoon!

Blow thy trumpe and that anoon,'

Quod she, 'thou Eolus, I hote,

(630) 1720

And ring this folkes werk by note,

That al the world may of hit here.'

And he gan blowe hir loos so clere

In his golden clarioun,

That through the world wente the soun,


So kenely, and eek so softe;

But atte laste hit was on-lofte.

Thoo com the sexte companye,

And gonne faste on Fame crye.

Right verraily, in this manere

(640) 1730

They seyden: 'Mercy, lady dere!

To telle certein, as hit is,

We han don neither that ne this,

But ydel al our lyf y-be.

But, natheles, yit preye we,


That we mowe han so good a fame,

And greet renoun and knowen name,

As they that han don noble gestes,

And acheved alle hir lestes,

{52}As wel of love as other thing;

(650) 1740

Al was us never broche ne ring,

Ne elles nought, from wimmen sent,

Ne ones in hir herte y-ment

To make us only frendly chere,

But mighte temen us on bere;


Yit lat us to the peple seme

Swiche as the world may of us deme,

That wimmen loven us for wood.

Hit shal don us as moche good,

And to our herte as moche availe

(660) 1750

To countrepeise ese and travaile,

As we had wonne hit with labour;

For that is dere boght honour

At regard of our grete ese.

And yit thou most us more plese;


Let us be holden eek, therto,

Worthy, wyse, and gode also,

And riche, and happy unto love.

For goddes love, that sit above,

Though we may not the body have

(670) 1760

Of wimmen, yet, so god yow save!

Let men glewe on us the name;

Suffyceth that we han the fame.'

'I graunte,' quod she, 'by my trouthe!

Now, Eolus, with-outen slouthe,


Tak out thy trumpe of gold, let see,

And blow as they han axed me,

That every man wene hem at ese,

Though they gon in ful badde lese.'

This Eolus gan hit so blowe,

(680) 1770

That through the world hit was y-knowe.

Tho com the seventh route anoon,

And fel on kneës everichoon,

And seyde, 'Lady, graunte us sone

The same thing, the same bone,


{53}That [ye] this nexte folk han doon.'

'Fy on yow,' quod she, 'everichoon!

Ye masty swyn, ye ydel wrecches,

Ful of roten slowe tecches!

What? false theves! wher ye wolde

(690) 1780

Be famous good, and no-thing nolde

Deserve why, ne never roughte?

Men rather yow to-hangen oughte!

For ye be lyk the sweynte cat,

That wolde have fish; but wostow what?


He wolde no-thing wete his clowes.

Yvel thrift come on your Iowes,

And eek on myn, if I hit graunte,

Or do yow favour, yow to avaunte!

Thou Eolus, thou king of Trace!

(700) 1790

Go, blow this folk a sory grace,'

Quod she, 'anoon; and wostow how?

As I shal telle thee right now;

Sey: "These ben they that wolde honour

Have, and do noskinnes labour,


Ne do no good, and yit han laude;

And that men wende that bele Isaude

Ne coude hem noght of love werne;

And yit she that grint at a querne

Is al to good to ese hir herte."'

(710) 1800

This Eolus anon up sterte,

And with his blakke clarioun

He gan to blasen out a soun,

As loude as belweth wind in helle.

And eek therwith, [the] sooth to telle,


This soun was [al] so ful of Iapes,

As ever mowes were in apes.

And that wente al the world aboute,

{54}That every wight gan on hem shoute,

And for to laughe as they were wode;

(720) 1810

Such game fonde they in hir hode.

Tho com another companye,

That had y-doon the traiterye,

The harm, the gretest wikkednesse

That any herte couthe gesse;


And preyed hir to han good fame,

And that she nolde hem doon no shame,

But yeve hem loos and good renoun,

And do hit blowe in clarioun.

'Nay, wis!' quod she, 'hit were a vyce;

(730) 1820

Al be ther in me no Iustyce,

Me listeth not to do hit now,

Ne this nil I not graunte you.'

Tho come ther lepinge in a route,

And gonne choppen al aboute


Every man upon the croune,

That al the halle gan to soune,

And seyden: 'Lady, lefe and dere,

We ben swich folk as ye mowe here.

To tellen al the tale aright,

(740) 1830

We ben shrewes, every wight,

And han delyt in wikkednes,

As gode folk han in goodnes;

And Ioye to be knowen shrewes,

And fulle of vyce and wikked thewes;


Wherfor we preyen yow, a-rowe,

That our fame swich be knowe

In alle thing right as hit is.'

'I graunte hit yow,' quod she, 'y-wis.

But what art thou that seyst this tale,

(750) 1840

That werest on thy hose a pale,

{55}And on thy tipet swiche a belle!'

'Madame,' quod he, 'sooth to telle,

I am that ilke shrewe, y-wis,

That brende the temple of Isidis


In Athenes, lo, that citee.'

'And wherfor didest thou so?' quod she.

'By my thrift,' quod he, 'madame,

I wolde fayn han had a fame,

As other folk hadde in the toun,

(760) 1850

Al-thogh they were of greet renoun

For hir vertu and for hir thewes;

Thoughte I, as greet a fame han shrewes,

Thogh hit be [but] for shrewednesse,

As gode folk han for goodnesse;


And sith I may not have that oon,

That other nil I noght for-goon.

And for to gette of Fames hyre,

The temple sette I al a-fyre.

Now do our loos be blowen swythe,

(770) 1860

As wisly be thou ever blythe.'

'Gladly,' quod she; 'thou Eolus,

Herestow not what they preyen us?'

'Madame, yis, ful wel,' quod he,

'And I wil trumpen hit, parde!'


And tok his blakke trumpe faste,

And gan to puffen and to blaste,

Til hit was at the worldes ende.

With that I gan aboute wende;

For oon that stood right at my bak,

(780) 1870

Me thoughte, goodly to me spak,

And seyde: 'Frend, what is thy name?

Artow come hider to han fame?'

'Nay, for-sothe, frend!' quod I;

'I cam noght hider, graunt mercy!


For no swich cause, by my heed!

Suffyceth me, as I were deed,

{56}That no wight have my name in honde.

I woot my-self best how I stonde;

For what I drye or what I thinke,

(790) 1880

I wol my-selven al hit drinke,

Certeyn, for the more part,

As ferforth as I can myn art.'

'But what dost thou here than?' quod he.

Quod I, 'that wol I tellen thee,


The cause why I stondë here:—

Som newe tydings for to lere:—

Som newe thinges, I not what,

Tydinges, other this or that,

Of love, or swiche thinges glade.

(800) 1890

For certeynly, he that me made

To comen hider, seyde me,

I shulde bothe here and see,

In this place, wonder thinges;

But these be no swiche tydinges


As I mene of.' 'No?' quod he.

And I answerde, 'No, pardee!

For wel I wiste, ever yit,

Sith that first I hadde wit,

That som folk han desyred fame

(810) 1900

Dyversly, and loos, and name;

But certeynly, I niste how

Ne wher that Fame dwelte, er now;

Ne eek of hir descripcioun,

Ne also hir condicioun,


Ne the ordre of hir dome,

Unto the tyme I hider come.'

'[Whiche] be, lo, these tydinges,

That thou now [thus] hider bringes,

{57}That thou hast herd?' quod he to me;

(820) 1910

'But now, no fors; for wel I see

What thou desyrest for to here.

Com forth, and stond no longer here,

And I wol thee, with-outen drede,

In swich another place lede,


Ther thou shalt here many oon.'

Tho gan I forth with him to goon

Out of the castel, soth to seye.

Tho saugh I stonde in a valeye,

Under the castel, faste by,

(830) 1920

An hous, that domus Dedali,

That Laborintus cleped is,

Nas maad so wonderliche, y-wis,

Ne half so queynteliche y-wrought.

And evermo, so swift as thought,


This queynte hous aboute wente,

That never-mo hit stille stente.

And ther-out com so greet a noise,

That, had hit stonden upon Oise,

Men mighte hit han herd esely

(840) 1930

To Rome, I trowe sikerly.

And the noyse which that I herde,

For al the world right so hit ferde,

As doth the routing of the stoon

That from thengyn is leten goon.


And al this hous, of whiche I rede,

Was made of twigges, falwe, rede,

And grene eek, and som weren whyte,

Swiche as men to these cages thwyte,

Or maken of these paniers,

(850) 1940

Or elles hottes or dossers;

That, for the swough and for the twigges,

This hous was also ful of gigges,

And also ful eek of chirkinges,

And of many other werkinges;


{58}And eek this hous hath of entrees

As fele as leves been on trees

In somer, whan they grene been;

And on the roof men may yit seen

A thousand holes, and wel mo,

(860) 1950

To leten wel the soun out go.

And by day, in every tyde,

Ben al the dores open wyde,

And by night, echoon, unshette;

Ne porter ther is non to lette


No maner tydings in to pace;

Ne never reste is in that place,

That hit nis fild ful of tydinges,

Other loude, or of whispringes;

And, over alle the houses angles,

(870) 1960

Is ful of rouninges and of Iangles

Of werre, of pees, of mariages,

Of reste, of labour, of viages,

Of abood, of deeth, of lyfe,

Of love, of hate, acorde, of stryfe,


Of loos, of lore, and of winninges,

Of hele, of sekenesse, of bildinges,

Of faire windes, of tempestes,

Of qualme of folk, and eek of bestes;

Of dyvers transmutaciouns

(880) 1970

Of estats, and eek of regiouns;

Of trust, of drede, of Ielousye,

Of wit, of winninge, of folye;

Of plentee, and of greet famyne,

Of chepe, of derth, and of ruyne;


Of good or mis governement,

Of fyr, of dyvers accident.

And lo, this hous, of whiche I wryte,

Siker be ye, hit nas not lyte;

{59}For hit was sixty myle of lengthe;

(890) 1980

Al was the timber of no strengthe,

Yet hit is founded to endure

Whyl that hit list to Aventure,

That is the moder of tydinges,

As the see of welles and springes,—


And hit was shapen lyk a cage.

'Certes,' quod I, 'in al myn age,

Ne saugh I swich a hous as this.'

And as I wondred me, y-wis,

Upon this hous, tho war was I

(900) 1990

How that myn egle, faste by,

Was perched hye upon a stoon;

And I gan streighte to him goon

And seyde thus: 'I preye thee

That thou a whyl abyde me


For goddes love, and let me seen

What wondres in this place been;

For yit, paraventure, I may lere

Som good ther-on, or sumwhat here

That leef me were, or that I wente.'

(910) 2000

'Peter! that is myn entente,'

Quod he to me; 'therfor I dwelle;

But certein, oon thing I thee telle,

That, but I bringe thee ther-inne,

Ne shalt thou never cunne ginne


To come in-to hit, out of doute,

So faste hit whirleth, lo, aboute.

But sith that Ioves, of his grace,

As I have seyd, wol thee solace

Fynally with [swiche] thinges,

(920) 2010

Uncouthe sightes and tydinges,

To passe with thyn hevinesse;

Suche routhe hath he of thy distresse,

That thou suffrest debonairly—

And wost thy-selven utterly


Disesperat of alle blis,

Sith that Fortune hath maad a-mis

{60}The [fruit] of al thyn hertes reste

Languisshe and eek in point to breste—

That he, through his mighty meryte,

(930) 2020

Wol do thee ese, al be hit lyte,

And yaf expres commaundement,

To whiche I am obedient,

To furthre thee with al my might,

And wisse and teche thee aright


Wher thou maist most tydinges here;

Shaltow anoon heer many oon lere.'

With this worde he, right anoon,

Hente me up bitwene his toon,

And at a windowe in me broghte,

(940) 2030

That in this hous was, as me thoghte—

And ther-withal, me thoghte hit stente,

And no-thing hit aboute wente—

And me sette in the flore adoun.

But which a congregacioun


Of folk, as I saugh rome aboute

Some within and some withoute,

Nas never seen, ne shal ben eft;

That, certes, in the world nis left

So many formed by Nature,

(950) 2040

Ne deed so many a creature;

That wel unethe, in that place,

Hadde I oon foot-brede of space;

And every wight that I saugh there

Rouned ech in otheres ere


A newe tyding prevely,

Or elles tolde al openly

Right thus, and seyde: 'Nost not thou

That is betid, lo, late or now?'

{61}'No,' quod [the other], 'tel me what;'—

(960) 2050

And than he tolde him this and that,

And swoor ther-to that hit was sooth—

'Thus hath he seyd'—and 'Thus he dooth'—

'Thus shal hit be'—'Thus herde I seye'—

'That shal be found'—' That dar I leye:'—


That al the folk that is a-lyve

Ne han the cunning to discryve

The thinges that I herde there,

What aloude, and what in ere.

But al the wonder-most was this:—

(970) 2060

Whan oon had herd a thing, y-wis,

He com forth to another wight,

And gan him tellen, anoon-right,

The same that to him was told,

Or hit a furlong-way was old,


But gan somwhat for to eche

To this tyding in this speche

More than hit ever was.

And nat so sone departed nas

That he fro him, that he ne mette

(980) 2070

With the thridde; and, or he lette

Any stounde, he tolde him als;

Were the tyding sooth or fals,

Yit wolde he telle hit nathelees,

And evermo with more encrees


Than hit was erst. Thus north and southe

Went every [word] fro mouth to mouthe,

And that encresing ever-mo,

As fyr is wont to quikke and go

From a sparke spronge amis,

(990) 2080

Til al a citee brent up is.

And, whan that was ful y-spronge,

And woxen more on every tonge

{62}Than ever hit was, [hit] wente anoon

Up to a windowe, out to goon;


Or, but hit mighte out ther pace,

Hit gan out crepe at som crevace,

And fleigh forth faste for the nones.

And somtyme saugh I tho, at ones,

A lesing and a sad soth-sawe,

(1000) 2090

That gonne of aventure drawe

Out at a windowe for to pace;

And, when they metten in that place,

They were a-chekked bothe two,

And neither of hem moste out go;


For other so they gonne croude,

Til eche of hem gan cryen loude,

'Lat me go first!' 'Nay, but lat me!

And here I wol ensuren thee

With the nones that thou wolt do so,

(1010) 2100

That I shal never fro thee go,

But be thyn owne sworen brother!

We wil medle us ech with other,

That no man, be he never so wrothe,

Shal han that oon [of] two, but bothe


At ones, al beside his leve,

Come we a-morwe or on eve,

Be we cryed or stille y-rouned.'

Thus saugh I fals and sooth compouned

Togeder flee for oo tydinge.

(1020) 2110

Thus out at holes gonne wringe

Every tyding streight to Fame;

And she gan yeven eche his name.

After hir disposicioun,

And yaf hem eek duracioun,


{63}Some to wexe and wane sone,

As dooth the faire whyte mone,

And leet hem gon. Ther mighte I seen

Wenged wondres faste fleen,

Twenty thousand in a route,

(1030) 2120

As Eolus hem blew aboute.

And, lord! this hous, in alle tymes,

Was ful of shipmen and pilgrymes,

With scrippes bret-ful of lesinges,

Entremedled with tydinges,


And eek alone by hem-selve.

O, many a thousand tymes twelve

Saugh I eek of these pardoneres,

Currours, and eek messangeres,

With boistes crammed ful of lyes

(1040) 2130

As ever vessel was with lyes.

And as I alther-fastest wente

Aboute, and dide al myn entente

Me for to pleye and for to lere,

And eek a tyding for to here,


That I had herd of som contree

That shal not now be told for me;—

For hit no nede is, redely;

Folk can singe hit bet than I;

For al mot out, other late or rathe,

(1050) 2140

Alle the sheves in the lathe;—

I herde a gret noise withalle

In a corner of the halle,

Ther men of love tydings tolde,

And I gan thiderward beholde;


For I saugh renninge every wight,

As faste as that they hadden might;

And everich cryed, 'What thing is that?'

And som seyde, 'I not never what.'

And whan they were alle on an hepe,

(1060) 2150

Tho behinde gonne up lepe,

{64}And clamben up on othere faste,

And up the nose on hye caste,

And troden faste on othere heles

And stampe, as men don after eles.


Atte laste I saugh a man,

Which that I [nevene] naught ne can;

But he semed for to be

(1068) 2158

A man of greet auctoritee....


[Go to Legend of Good Women]

1101. Cx. Th. thou; P. thow; F. nowe; B. now. 1102. Cx. P. now; Th. nowe; F. yowe; B. yow. 1105. Cx. to; rest for to. 1106. F. B. men; rest me. 1107. Cx. lawrer; Th. laurer. 1113. F. B. this; rest the. 1114. F. citee; P. cite (= site); rest cyte (= syte). 1115. F. hys (for this). 1119. Cx. P. it; B. yt; F. Th. om. 1127. Th. I nyste; Cx. I ne wyst; P. I nust; F. B. nyste I neuer. 1132. F. B. fundament; rest foundement. 1135. bilt = bildeth; Th. B. bylte. 1136. F. B. om. al; cf. l. 1151. 1145. Cx. Th. Were; rest Was. 1154. F. B. folkes; rest folk. 1155. F. tymes; rest tyme. F. there; rest they. 1156. Cx. Th. P. there; F. B. here. 1162. F. om. that. 1173. I supply be. 1177. Supply craft from l. 1178, where it occurs, after cast, in Cx. Th. P. (Willert). 1178. F. To; the rest The. 1185. Cx. Th. P. ins. the before castel. 1189. F. Rabewyures or Rabewynres; B. Rabewynnes; Cx. As babeuwryes; Th. As babeuries; P. Babeweuries. 1195. F. B. om. stoden. 1197. F. om. of. 1201. F. B. vpon; rest on. 1202. F. B. sowneth; rest sowned. 1204. P. Cx. his; Th. B. this; F. the. 1206. F. Eaycidis; P. Eaycides; Cx. Th. Gacides. 1208. B. bret; Th. Briton; Cx. Bryton; P. Bretur; F. gret. 1210. F. Saten; B. Sate; Cx. Th. Sat; P. Sett; read Seten. 1210, 1, 2, 4. F. hym (for hem); P. hym (in 1210 only); B. him (in 1211, 2, 4). 1211. Cx. Th. P. gape; F. iape; B. yape. 1220. F. Cx. Th. B. to pipe; P. om. to. 1221. F. B. riede; rest rede. 1222. Cx. Th. P. brede; B. Bryede; F. bride. 1227. F. Atiteris; B. Atyterys; Cx. Th. dan Cytherus; P. an Citherus. F. B. transpose lines 1227 and 1228. 1228. F. Pseustis; B. Pseustys; Cx. Th. proserus; P. presentus. 1233. F. B. fames; rest famous. 1234. F. B. of alle; Th. of al; P. Cx. of. F. om. the. 1236. Cx. Th. Reyes; P. Reyþs; F. B. Reus. 1241. F. seight (!); for fight. 1245. F. B. trumpe Ioab. 1255. Cx. Th. P. as now not; F. B. not now. 1259. Th. pleyeng; rest pley; read pleyen. 1262. F. wrecches (wrongly); for wicches. 1269. P. magyk; rest magyke. 1270. F. B. syke; rest seke. 1271. All the. 1272. Cx. Th. P. Circes; F. Artes; B. Artys. 1273. So in all. 1274. Cx. Th. Lymote; F. Limete; B. Lumete; P. Llymote. 1275, 6. From B.; F. om. both lines. P. hem; Cx. hym; B. Th. om. 1278. Th. Sycamour; F. B. Sygamour; Cx. Sycomour; P. Cicomour. 1283. F. B. y ther; rest that I. 1285. F. B. folkys. 1286. B. I-holde; Cx. Th. P. holde; F. y-colde. 1287. Cx. P. eft; F. oft; B. all; Th. om. F. B. P. I mused. 1293. F. B. to; rest forth. 1299. Cx. P. for; rest more. 1301. B. this; rest these; see 1294. 1303. F. how they hat; B. how they hate; Cx. how the hackyng; P. Th. how the hackynge. 1304. Cx. Th. P. As corbettis(-es) and ymageries; B. As corbettz, full of ymageryes; F. As corbetz, followed by a blank space. 1309. F. hald; rest hold (holde). 1315. Cx. Th. P. shoke; F. shoon; B. shone. 1316. F. B. As (for And). 1317. P. Cx. lesynges; rest losynges; read losenges. 1318. F. frenges; B. Th. frynges. 1321. F. B. herauldes. 1326. F. crepen (!). 1327. P. wonderliche; the rest wonderly. 1328. Cx. P. Alle though; F. Th. B. As though. 1332. Cx. Th. P. cotes; F. B. cote. 1335. F. B. om. as. 1349. F. B. litel; rest lyte. 1350. B. thicke; Th. thyke; F. thik. 1351. P. Cx. Full; rest Fyne. 1353. P. As; Cx. Th. Or as; F. B. Of. 1356. P. Cx. riche lusty; rest lusty and riche. 1361. F. Sit; B. Syt; Cx. P. Sat; Th. Satte; read Sitte. 1369. F. B. om. that. 1371. F. B. omit semed be. 1372. So Cx. Th. P.; F. B. read—This was gret marvaylle to me. 1373. All wonderly; cf. l. 1327. 1374. F. B. erthe. 1377. F. B. om. to. 1404. F. synge; rest songe. 1406. F. B. or; rest and. 1411. Th. the armes; rest armes; read tharmes (i.e. th' armes). 1415. All And thus. 1416. Cx. P. nobley; F. Th. B. noble (= noblee). 1421. F. peler; B. pylere. 1425. I supply and hy. 1431. All fyne. 1432. Cx. Hym that wrote thactes dyuyne; P. om.; F. B. Th. Saturnyne. 1435. Cx. P. bare vpon; F. Th. B. he bare on. 1436. F. B. om. up. 1437. F. stonden; rest stoden. 1442. P. Cx. Th. as of other merveilles. 1443. P. Cx. piler; F. B. pilere. 1444. All here. 1450. F. B. a ful; rest ful. 1456. F. B. stonde; Cx. Th. stande; P. stond. 1460. F. B. Tholausan; Th. Tholason; P. Tolofan; Cx. tholophan. 1477. So Cx. Th. P.; F. B. seyde Omere was. 1483. I supply dan; see l. 1499. 1484. F. B. omit a. 1492. F. And; rest As; B. As I hit myght se with myn ye; P. Cx. Th. As I myght see it wyth myn ye. 1494. F. high the (= highthe); Cx. Th heyght; see l. 744. 1498. F. sturmely. 1507. F. om. a. 1510. F. B. om. al. 1515. F. inserts al of the before olde; B. inserts of the. 1527. All in-to (for in). 1530. F. alle skynnes; Cx. alle kyns. 1543. Cx. Th. grace (for cause). 1546. F. B. om. this line. 1549. F. B. herke. 1551. Cx. Th. P. yet; F. B. right. 1553. Cx. Th. P. sayd; F. quod; B. quoth. 1570. F. B. Vpon the peyn to be blynde, omitting l. 1572; Cx. Th. om. the. Read Vp, the usual idiom. 1572. In Cx. Th. only. 1585. F. B. om. that. 1594. F. B. clarioun; see l. 1597. 1599. F. B. And (for That). 1603. Cx. P. at; rest to. 1609. F. B. om. now. 1614. F. B. insert wel after be. 1618. F. B. wete; rest wote; read wite. 1621. F. B. om. wel. 1623. Cx. Th. P. And thou dan; F. B. Haue doon. 1637. P. blak; F. B. blake. 1647. Cx. Th. P. swartysh; F. B. swart, swarte. 1657. B. thridde; F. thirdde. 1661. F. ben; rest han. 1666. All werkes, pl.; see 1701. Th. That your good workes shal be wyst (perhaps better). 1668. F. B. om. Right. 1675. F. B. om. Al. 1682. F. B. Cx. Th. hath; P. have. 1686. All of bawme; omit of (Koch). 1701. werk] all werkes (werkys); see 1666, 1720, 1. 1702. B. clew; F. clywe; Cx. Th. P. torned, turned. 1707. Cx. P. To hyde; Th. To hyden; F. B. And hidden. 1709. P. Cx. fame; rest no fame. P. Cx. Th. ne (om. for); F. B. for (om. ne). 1717. F. B. Th. lyen (for lyuen); P. be; Cx. om. 1720. werk] all werkes (werkys); but see hit in 1721. 1725. F. B. Th. Al so; rest And so; read So. 1726. So F. B.; Cx. Th. That theyr fame was blowe a lofte. 1735. Cx. P. so good a; Th. as good a; F. B. as good. 1742. Th. Cx. P. in her herte; F. in hem; B. in her. 1744. Th. on; rest upon. 1745. F. B. om. the. 1748, 1749. F. a; rest as. 1750. P. Cx. To; rest The. 1765. F. B. now let se (I omit now); rest quod she. 1775. I supply ye. 1779. P. wher; Cx. Th. where; F. B. or. 1781. F. B. neuer ye; rest om. ye. 1782. F. B. om. to-. 1783. F. swynt; B. sweynte; Cx. Th. P. slepy. 1786. Cx. P. on; the rest to. 1787. Cx. Th. P. on; F. B. to. 1792. F. B. om. thee. 1793. F. B. om. they. 1801. P. blak; F. B. blake. 1804. I supply the. 1805. al is not in the MSS.; but P. has as (= al-so). 1813. All grete, gret; read gretest (Willert). 1816. MSS. doon (don, do) hem. 1818. F. B. in a; P. Cx. Th. in. 1821. B. liste; rest list, short for listeth. F. B. P. om. to; Cx. Th. insert it. 1822. P. not; which F. B. Cx. Th. omit. 1824. F. choppen; B. choppyn; Th. clappen; Cx. P. clappe. 1828. B. P. folk; rest folkes. 1834. P. vice; Cx. Th. vyce; F. B. vices. 1836. F. B. suche be; Cx. Th. P. be suche. 1843. Here P. ends. 1853. F. Th. be noght for; Cx. B. be for; read be but for (Koch). 1862. Cx. Th. they; F. B. this folke. 1880. F. selfe; read selven. 1883. Th. than; Cx. thenne; F. B. om. 1887. All thing, thinge; read thinges. Cf. l. 1889. 1891. All come. 1897. All wote (for wiste); see l. 1901. 1898. All had. 1902. All dwelled or dwellyth. 1903. F. And; rest Ne. 1906. B. the; F. om.. B. hidyr; Th. hyder; Cx. hether; F. thidder. 1907. B. Whi then; rest Why than; Koch suggests Which than; read Which-e. Ll. 1907-9 are probably corrupt; see note. 1908. I supply thus. 1926. Th. it stil; rest stil hyt. 1931. Th. B. that I; F. I haue; Cx. I had. 1938. F. B. Whiche; Cx. Th. Suche. 1940. F. Cx. B. hattes; Th. hutches. Read hottes. 1941. F. twynges (!); B. twigys. 1944. Corrupt. From Cx. Th.; B. omits the line; F. has only As ful this lo. 1946. Cx. Th. as; F. of; B. as of. Th. on; F. B. in; Cx. of. 1948. Cx. roof; Th. rofe; F. B. roue. 1952. Cx. Th. open; F. opened; B. I-opened. 1955. Cx. out (for in). 1957. F. silde; B. fylde; Cx. Th. fylled. 1961. All werres (pl.); read werre. 1962. All restes (pl.). Cx. of labour; F. Th. B. and of labour. 1967. All insert and eek before of; see l. 1968. 1975. All write mis governement as one word. 1976. All and of; omit and. 1984. F. B. and of; Cx. Th. om. of. 1997. Th. paraunter. 2009. I substitute swiche for these. 2010. Th. syghtes; rest syght. 2017. F. The frot; B. The foot; Cx. Th. The swote. Read The fruit (Koch). 2018. Cx. Th. Languysshe; F. B. Laugh. 2020. Th. B. the (for thee); Cx. the an; F. than (perhaps = the an). 2021. All insert in after yaf. 2026. F. B. insert anoon (anon) after here, which Cx. Th. omit. For here anoon read anoon heer. 2028. F. B. omit this line. 2036. F. B. omit this line; it is probably corrupt. Read Many a thousand in a route (Koch). 2042. Cx. one; F. Th. B. a. 2044. F. Rovned in; B. Rownyd yn; Cx. Th. Rowned euerych in. 2048. F. has only—That ys betydde; B. That is betyd late or now; Cx. Th. That ys betyd lo ryght now. 2049. All he; read the other (Willert). 2053. All insert And (twice) before thus; but compare the next line. 2059. All wonder most (moste). 2061. F. B. forth ryght to; Cx. forth vnto; Th. streyght to. 2063. Cx. to; rest om. 2066. F. Tho; rest To. 2069. F. B. That he; Cx. Th. Tho. F. thoo; B. tho; Cx. Th. that. 2076. F. B. Went every mouthe; Cx. Th. Wente euery tydyng. 2081. Cx. Th. vp spronge. 2083. All and (for 2nd hit). 2087. F. flygh; B. fligh; Cx. Th. flewe. 2088. F. om. I. 2090. Cx. Th. drawe; F. B. thrawe. 2091. Cx. Th. at; F. B. to. 2093. F. B. a cheked; Cx. Th. a chekked. 2095-2158. Cx. omits. 2099. B. om. the. 2103. Th. he; F. B. they. 2104. F. han on two (sic); B. haue that oon (om. of two); Th. haue one two. I supply that from B.; and also of. 2106. Th. amorowe; F. B. morwe. 2112. All yeue. 2115. Th. wane; F. B. wynne (!). 2123. Th. scrippes; F. B. shrippes. 2129. F. boystes; Th. boxes; B. bowgys. 2150. Th. gonne; B. bigonne; F. begunne. 2151, 3. F. other; B. othir; read othere (oth're), plural. 2152. F. noyse an highen (!); Th. noyse on hyghen (!); B. nose and yen; read on hye (Koch). 2153. F. B. other; Th. others. 2154. F. B. stampen; Th. stampe. 2156. I supply nevene. 2158. Here F. B. end; Cx. Th. add 12 spurious lines.



The Prologue to this Poem exists in two different versions, which differ widely from each other in many passages. The arrangement of the material is also different.

For the sake of clearness, the earlier version is here called 'Text A,' and the later version 'Text B.'

'Text A' exists in one MS. only, but this MS. is of early date and much importance. It is the MS. marked Gg. 4. 27 in the Cambridge University Library, and is here denoted by the letter 'C.' It is the same MS. as that denoted by the abbreviation 'Cm.' in the footnotes to the Canterbury Tales and Troilus and Criseyde. This text is printed in the upper part of the following pages. The footnotes give the MS. spellings, where these are amended in the text.

'Text B' occupies the lower part of the following pages. It follows the Fairfax MS. mainly, which is denoted by 'F.' In many places, the inferior spellings of this MS. are relegated to the footnotes, amended spellings being given in the text. Various readings are given from Tn. (Tanner MS. 346); T. (Trinity MS., R. 3. 19); A. (Arch. Seld. B. 24 in the Bodleian Library); Th. (Thynne's Edition, 1532); B. (Bodley MS. 638); P. (Pepys MS. 2006); and sometimes from C. (already mentioned) or Add. (Addit. 9832).

Lines which occur in one text only are marked (in either text) by a prefixed asterisk. Lines marked with a dagger (†) stand just the same in both texts. The blank space after A 60 (p. 70) shews that there is nothing in Text A corresponding to B 69-72. Where the corresponding matter is transposed to another place, one or other text has a portion printed in smaller type.

The prologe of .ix. goode Wimmen.

A thousand sythes have I herd men telle,

†That ther is Ioye in heven, and peyne in helle;

{66a}And I acorde wel that hit be so;

But natheles, this wot I wel also,


That ther nis noon that dwelleth in this contree,

That either hath in helle or heven y-be,

†Ne may of hit non other weyes witen,

†But as he hath herd seyd, or founde hit writen;

†For by assay ther may no man hit preve.


But goddes forbode, but men shulde leve

†Wel more thing then men han seen with yë!

†Men shal nat wenen every-thing a lyë

For that he seigh it nat of yore ago.

God wot, a thing is never the lesse so


†Thogh every wight ne may hit nat y-see.

†Bernard the monk ne saugh nat al, parde!

†Than mote we to bokes that we finde,

†Through which that olde thinges been in minde,

{67a}†And to the doctrine of these olde wyse,


†Yeven credence, in every skilful wyse,

And trowen on these olde aproved stories

†Of holinesse, of regnes, of victories,

†Of love, of hate, of other sundry thinges,

†Of whiche I may not maken rehersinges.


†And if that olde bokes were a-weye,

†Y-loren were of remembraunce the keye.

Wel oghte us than on olde bokes leve,

Ther-as ther is non other assay by preve.

And, as for me, though that my wit be lyte,


†On bokes for to rede I me delyte,

†And in myn herte have hem in reverence;

And to hem yeve swich lust and swich credence,

That ther is wel unethe game noon

That from my bokes make me to goon,


{68a}But hit be other up-on the haly-day,

Or elles in the Ioly tyme of May;

Whan that I here the smale foules singe,

†And that the floures ginne for to springe,

Farwel my studie, as lasting that sesoun!


Now have I therto this condicioun

†That, of alle the floures in the mede,

†Than love I most these floures whyte and rede,

†Swiche as men callen daysies in our toun.

†To hem have I so greet affeccioun,


†As I seyde erst, whan comen is the May,

†That in my bed ther daweth me no day

†That I nam up, and walking in the mede

To seen these floures agein the sonne sprede,

Whan hit up-riseth by the morwe shene,


*The longe day, thus walking in the grene.

{69a}From A. 55-58.

(B. 53) 

This dayesye, of alle floures flour,

Fulfild of vertu and of alle honour,

†And ever y-lyke fair and fresh of hewe,

As wel in winter as in somer newe—

(B. 61) 

And whan the sonne ginneth for to weste,

Than closeth hit, and draweth hit to reste.

So sore hit is afered of the night,

*Til on the morwe, that hit is dayes light.


This dayesye, of alle floures flour,

Fulfild of vertu and of alle honour,

†And ever y-lyke fair and fresh of hewe,

As wel in winter as in somer newe,

(B. 67) 

{70a}Fain wolde I preisen, if I coude aright;


*But wo is me, hit lyth nat in my might!

(B. 73) 

For wel I wot, that folk han her-beforn

†Of making ropen, and lad a-wey the corn;

†And I come after, glening here and there,

†And am ful glad if I may finde an ere


Of any goodly word that they han left.

And, if hit happe me rehersen eft

That they han in her fresshe songes sayd,

I hope that they wil nat ben evel apayd,

Sith hit is seid in forthering and honour


Of hem that either serven leef or flour.

{71a}For trusteth wel, I ne have nat undertake

As of the leef, ageyn the flour, to make;

Ne of the flour to make, ageyn the leef,

†No more than of the corn ageyn the sheef.


For, as to me, is leefer noon ne lother;

I am with-holde yit with never nother.

I not who serveth leef, ne who the flour;

That nis nothing the entent of my labour.

For this werk is al of another tunne,


Of olde story, er swich stryf was begunne.

(B. 97) 

{72a}But wherfor that I spak, to yeve credence

To bokes olde and doon hem reverence,

Is for men shulde autoritees beleve,

Ther as ther lyth non other assay by preve.


*For myn entent is, or I fro yow fare,

*The naked text in English to declare

*Of many a story, or elles of many a geste,

*As autours seyn; leveth hem if yow leste!

(B. 108) 

Whan passed was almost the month of May,


{73a}And I had romed, al the someres day,

*The grene medew, of which that I yow tolde,

Upon the fresshe daysy to beholde,

And that the sonne out of the south gan weste,

And closed was the flour and goon to reste


For derknesse of the night, of which she dredde,

†Hoom to myn hous ful swiftly I me spedde;

†And, in a litel erber that I have,

Y-benched newe with turves fresshe y-grave,

†I bad men shulde me my couche make;


†For deyntee of the newe someres sake,

†I bad hem strowe floures on my bed.

†Whan I was layd, and had myn eyen hed,

I fel a-slepe with-in an houre or two.

Me mette how I was in the medew tho,


{74a}*And that I romed in that same gyse,

To seen that flour, as ye han herd devyse.

*Fair was this medew, as thoughte me overal;

With floures swote enbrowded was it al;

As for to speke of gomme, or erbe, or tree,


†Comparisoun may noon y-maked be.

For hit surmounted pleynly alle odoures,

†And eek of riche beaute alle floures.

†Forgeten had the erthe his pore estat

†Of winter, that him naked made and mat,


And with his swerd of cold so sore had greved.

Now had the atempre sonne al that releved,

And clothed him in grene al newe agayn.

†The smale foules, of the seson fayn,

†That from the panter and the net ben scaped,


{75a}†Upon the fouler, that hem made a-whaped

†In winter, and distroyed had hir brood,

†In his despyt, hem thoughte hit did hem good

†To singe of him, and in hir song despyse

†The foule cherl that, for his covetyse,


†Had hem betrayed with his sophistrye.

†This was hir song—'the fouler we defye!'

(B. 139) 

Somme songen [layes] on the braunches clere

Of love and [May], that Ioye hit was to here,

In worship and in preysing of hir make,


And of the newe blisful someres sake,

(B. 145) 

That songen, 'blissed be seynt Valentyn!

[For] at his day I chees yow to be myn,

{76a}†With-oute repenting, myn herte swete!'

†And therwith-al hir bekes gonnen mete.


[They dide honour and] humble obeisaunces,

And after diden other observaunces

Right [plesing] un-to love and to nature;

*So ech of hem [doth wel] to creature.

*This song to herkne I dide al myn entente,


*For-why I mette I wiste what they mente.

{77a}From A. 90.

(B. 180) 

And I had romed, al the someres day,

From A. 92.

(B. 182) 

Up-on the fresshe daysy to beholde.

From A. 71-80.

(B. 188) 

For trusteth wel, I ne have nat undertake

As of the leef, ageyn the flour, to make;

Ne of the flour to make, ageyn the leef,

†No more than of the corn ageyn the sheef.


{78a}For, as to me, is leefer noon ne lother;

I am with-holde yit with never nother.

I not who serveth leef, ne who the flour;

That nis nothing the entent of my labour.

For this werk is al of another tunne,


Of olde story, er swich stryf was begunne.

From A. 93-96.

And that the sonne out of the south gan weste,

And closed was the flour and goon to reste

For derknesse of the night, of which she dredde,

†Hoom to myn hous ful swiftly I me spedde

From A. 106.

To seen that flour, as ye han herd devyse.

From A. 97-104.

†And, in a litel erber that I have,

Y-benched newe with turves fresshe y-grave,

†I bad men shulde me my couche make;


†For deyntee of the newe someres sake,

†I bad hem strowe floures on my bed.

†Whan I was layd, and had myn eyen hed,

I fel a-slepe within an houre or two.

Me mette how I was in the medew tho,


{79a}*Til at the laste a larke song above:

*'I see,' quod she, 'the mighty god of love!

*Lo! yond he cometh, I see his winges sprede!'

From A. 106.

To seen that flour, as ye han herd devyse,

(B. 212) 

Tho gan I loken endelong the mede,


And saw him come, and in his hond a quene,

Clothed in ryal abite al of grene.

†A fret of gold she hadde next hir heer,

†And up-on that a whyt coroun she beer

With many floures, and I shal nat lye;


For al the world, right as the dayesye

†I-coroned is with whyte leves lyte,

Swich were the floures of hir coroun whyte.

{80a}For of o perle fyn and oriental

†Hir whyte coroun was y-maked al;


†For which the whyte coroun, above the grene,

†Made hir lyk a daysie for to sene,

Considered eek the fret of gold above.

†Y-clothed was this mighty god of love

Of silk, y-brouded ful of grene greves;


A garlond on his heed of rose-leves

*Steked al with lilie floures newe;

*But of his face I can nat seyn the hewe.

For sekirly his face shoon so brighte,

*That with the gleem a-stoned was the sighte;


A furlong-wey I mighte him nat beholde.

But at the laste in hande I saw him holde

†Two fyry dartes, as the gledes rede;

And aungellich his wenges gan he sprede.

{81a}†And al be that men seyn that blind is he,


Al-gate me thoughte he mighte wel y-see;

†For sternely on me he gan biholde,

†So that his loking doth myn herte colde.

†And by the hande he held the noble quene,

†Corouned with whyte, and clothed al in grene,


†So womanly, so benigne, and so meke,

†That in this world, thogh that men wolde seke,

†Half hir beautee shulde men nat finde

†In creature that formed is by kinde,

Hir name was Alceste the debonayre;


I prey to god that ever falle she fayre!

†For ne hadde confort been of hir presence,

†I had be deed, withouten any defence,

†For drede of Loves wordes and his chere,

†As, whan tyme is, her-after ye shal here.


{82a}Byhind this god of love, up-on this grene,

†I saw cominge of ladyës nyntene

†In ryal abite, a ful esy pas,

†And after hem com of wemen swich a tras

That, sin that god Adam made of erthe,


The thredde part of wemen, ne the ferthe,

†Ne wende I nat by possibilitee

(B. 289) 

Hadden ever in this world y-be;

†And trewe of love thise wemen were echoon.

†Now whether was that a wonder thing or noon,


†That, right anoon as that they gonne espye

†This flour, which that I clepe the dayesye,

†Ful sodeinly they stinten alle at-ones,

And kneled adoun, as it were for the nones.

*And after that they wenten in compas,


*Daunsinge aboute this flour an esy pas,

{83a}*And songen, as it were in carole-wyse,

*This balade, which that I shal yow devyse.


†Hyd, Absolon, thy gilte tresses clere;

†Ester, ley them thy meknesse al a-doun;


†Hyd, Ionathas, al thy frendly manere;

†Penalopee, and Marcia Catoun,

†Mak of your wyfhod no comparisoun;

†Hyde ye your beautes, Isoude and Eleyne,

Alceste is here, that al that may desteyne.


†Thy faire body, lat hit nat appere,

†Lavyne; and thou, Lucresse of Rome toun,

†And Polixene, that boghte love so dere,

Eek Cleopatre, with al thy passioun,

Hyde ye your trouthe in love and your renoun;


{84a}And thou, Tisbe, that hast for love swich peyne:

Alceste is here, that al that may desteyne.

Herro, Dido, Laudomia, alle in-fere,

Eek Phyllis, hanging for thy Demophoun,

†And Canace, espyed by thy chere,


Ysiphile, betrayed with Jasoun,

Mak of your trouthe in love no bost ne soun;

Nor Ypermistre or Adriane, ne pleyne;

Alceste is here, that al that may desteyne.

(B. 270) 

Whan that this balade al y-songen was,

{85a}From A. 179-198.

Hir name was Alceste the debonayre;


I prey to god that ever falle she fayre!

†For ne hadde confort been of hir presence,

†I had be deed, withouten any defence,

†For drede of Loves wordes and his chere,

†As, whan tyme is, her-after ye shal here.


Byhind this god of love, up-on this grene,

†I saw cominge of ladyës nyntene

†In ryal abite, a ful esy pas,

†And after hem com of wemen swich a tras,

That, sin that god Adam made of erthe,


The thredde part of wemen, ne the ferthe,

†Ne wende I nat by possibilitee

Hadden ever in this world y-be.

†And trewe of love these wemen were echoon.

†Now whether was that a wonder thing or noon,


†That, right anon as that they gonne espye

†This flour, which that I clepe the dayesye,

†Ful sodeinly they stinten alle atones,

And kneled adoun, as it were for the nones.


{86a}*Upon the softe and swote grene gras

(B. 301) 

†They setten hem ful softely adoun,

By ordre alle in compas, alle enveroun.

First sat the god of love, and than this quene

†With the whyte coroun, clad in grene;


†And sithen al the remenant by and by,

As they were of degree, ful curteisly;

†Ne nat a word was spoken in the place

†The mountance of a furlong-wey of space.

I, lening faste by under a bente,


†Abood, to knowen what this peple mente,

†As stille as any stoon; til at the laste,

The god of love on me his eye caste,

{87a}And seyde, 'who resteth ther?' and I answerde

Un-to his axing, whan that I him herde,


†And seyde, 'sir, hit am I'; and cam him neer,

†And salued him. Quod he, 'what dostow heer

In my presence, and that so boldely?

†For it were better worthy, trewely,

A werm to comen in my sight than thou.'


†'And why, sir,' quod I, 'and hit lyke yow?'

†'For thou,' quod he, 'art ther-to nothing able.

*My servaunts been alle wyse and honourable.

(B. 322) 

Thou art my mortal fo, and me warreyest,

†And of myne olde servaunts thou misseyest,


†And hinderest hem with thy translacioun,

And lettest folk to han devocioun

†To serven me, and haldest hit folye

To troste on me. Thou mayst hit nat denye;

{88a}For in pleyn text, hit nedeth nat to glose,


†Thou hast translated the Romauns of the Rose,

†That is an heresye ageyns my lawe,

†And makest wyse folk fro me withdrawe.

*And thinkest in thy wit, that is ful cool.

*That he nis but a verray propre fool


*That loveth paramours, to harde and hote.

*Wel wot I ther-by thou beginnest dote

*As olde foles, whan hir spirit fayleth;

*Than blame they folk, and wite nat what hem ayleth.

*Hast thou nat mad in English eek the book

(B. 332) 265

How that Crisseyde Troilus forsook,

In shewinge how that wemen han don mis?

*But natheles, answere me now to this,

*Why noldest thou as wel han seyd goodnesse

*Of wemen, as thou hast seyd wikkednesse?


*Was ther no good matere in thy minde,

*Ne in alle thy bokes coudest thou nat finde

*Sum story of wemen that were goode and trewe?

*Yis! god wot, sixty bokes olde and newe

*Hast thou thy-self, alle fulle of stories grete,


*That bothe Romains and eek Grekes trete

{89a}*Of sundry wemen, which lyf that they ladde,

*And ever an hundred gode ageyn oon badde.

*This knoweth god, and alle clerkes eke,

*That usen swiche materes for to seke.


*What seith Valerie, Titus, or Claudian?

*What seith Ierome ageyns Iovinian?

*How clene maydens, and how trewe wyves,

*How stedfast widwes during al hir lyves,

*Telleth Jerome; and that nat of a fewe,


*But, I dar seyn, an hundred on a rewe;

*That hit is pitee for to rede, and routhe,

*The wo that they enduren for hir trouthe.

(B. 334) 

For to hir love were they so trewe,

*That, rather than they wolde take a newe,


*They chosen to be dede in sundry wyse,

*And deyden, as the story wol devyse;

*And some were brend, and some were cut the hals,

*And some dreynt, for they wolden nat be fals.

*For alle keped they hir maydenhed,


*Or elles wedlok, or hir widwehed.

*And this thing was nat kept for holinesse,

*But al for verray vertu and clennesse,

*And for men shulde sette on hem no lak;

*And yit they weren hethen, al the pak,


*That were so sore adrad of alle shame.

*These olde wemen kepte so hir name,

*That in this world I trow men shal nat finde

*A man that coude be so trewe and kinde,

{90a}*As was the leste woman in that tyde.


*What seith also the epistels of Ovyde

*Of trewe wyves, and of hir labour?

*What Vincent, in his Storial Mirour?

*Eek al the world of autours maystow here,

*Cristen and hethen, trete of swich matere;


*It nedeth nat alday thus for tendyte.

*But yit I sey, what eyleth thee to wryte

*The draf of stories, and forgo the corn?

(B. 338) 

By seint Venus, of whom that I was born,

(B. 336) 

Although [that] thou reneyed hast my lay,

(B. 337) 315

As othere olde foles many a day,

Thou shalt repente hit, that hit shal be sene!'

Than spak Alceste, the worthieste quene,

†And seyde, 'god, right of your curtesye,

†Ye moten herknen if he can replye


Ageyns these points that ye han to him meved;

†A god ne sholde nat be thus agreved,

{91a}†But of his deitee he shal be stable,

And therto rightful and eek merciable.

*He shal nat rightfully his yre wreke


*Or he have herd the tother party speke.

*Al ne is nat gospel that is to yow pleyned;

*The god of love herth many a tale y-feyned.

From A. 338, 339.

This man to yow may wrongly been accused,

†Ther as by right him oghte been excused;

†For in your court is many a losengeour,

†And many a queynte totelere accusour,


That tabouren in your eres many a thing

For hate, or for Ielous imagining,

And for to han with yow som daliaunce.

Envye (I prey to god yeve hir mischaunce!)

Is lavender in the grete court alway.


†For she ne parteth, neither night ne day,

{92a}†Out of the hous of Cesar; thus seith Dante;

Who-so that goth, alwey she moot [nat] wante.

This man to yow may wrongly been accused,

†Ther as by right him oghte been excused.


Or elles, sir, for that this man is nyce,

He may translate a thing in no malyce.

But for he useth bokes for to make,

And takth non heed of what matere he take;

*Therfor he wroot the Rose and eek Crisseyde


*Of innocence, and niste what he seyde;

†Or him was boden make thilke tweye

†Of som persone, and durste hit nat with-seye;

*For he hath writen many a book er this.

†He ne hath nat doon so grevously amis


†To translaten that olde clerkes wryten,

†As thogh that he of malice wolde endyten

{93a}Despyt of love, and hadde him-self y-wroght.

†This shulde a rightwys lord han in his thoght,

†And nat be lyk tiraunts of Lumbardye,


That usen wilfulhed and tirannye,

†For he that king or lord is naturel,

†Him oghte nat be tiraunt ne cruel,

†As is a fermour, to doon the harm he can.

†He moste thinke hit is his lige man,


*And that him oweth, of verray duetee,

*Shewen his peple pleyn benignitee,

*And wel to here hir excusaciouns,

*And hir compleyntes and peticiouns,

*In duewe tyme, whan they shal hit profre.

(B. 381) 365

†This is the sentence of the philosophre:

†A king to kepe his liges in Iustyce;

†With-outen doute, that is his offyce.

*And therto is a king ful depe y-sworn,

*Ful many an hundred winter heer-biforn;


{94a}And for to kepe his lordes hir degree,

†As hit is right and skilful that they be

†Enhaunced and honoured, and most dere—

†For they ben half-goddes in this world here—

This shal he doon, bothe to pore [and] riche,


Al be that here stat be nat a-liche,

†And han of pore folk compassioun.

†For lo, the gentil kind of the lioun!

†For whan a flye offendeth him or byteth,

†He with his tayl awey the flye smyteth


†Al esily; for, of his genterye,

†Him deyneth nat to wreke him on a flye,

†As doth a curre or elles another beste.

†In noble corage oghte been areste,

†And weyen every thing by equitee,


†And ever han reward to his owen degree.

{95a}†For, sir, hit is no maystrie for a lord

To dampne a man with-oute answere or word;

†And, for a lord, that is ful foul to use.

†And if so be he may him nat excuse,


[But] axeth mercy with a sorweful herte,

†And profreth him, right in his bare sherte,

†To been right at your owne Iugement,

†Than oghte a god, by short avysement,

†Considre his owne honour and his trespas.


†For sith no cause of deeth lyth in this cas,

†Yow oghte been the lighter merciable;

†Leteth your yre, and beth somwhat tretable!

†The man hath served yow of his conning,

And forthered your lawe with his making.


*Whyl he was yong, he kepte your estat;

*I not wher he be now a renegat.

{96a}But wel I wot, with that he can endyte,

He hath maked lewed folk delyte

†To serve you, in preysing of your name.


†He made the book that hight the Hous of Fame,

†And eek the Deeth of Blaunche the Duchesse,

†And the Parlement of Foules, as I gesse,

†And al the love of Palamon and Arcyte

†Of Thebes, thogh the story is knowen lyte;


†And many an ympne for your halydayes,

†That highten Balades, Roundels, Virelayes;

And for to speke of other besinesse,

†He hath in prose translated Boëce;

*And of the Wreched Engendring of Mankinde,


*As man may in pope Innocent y-finde;

(B. 426) 

†And mad the Lyf also of seynt Cecyle;

†He made also, goon sithen a greet whyl,

†Origenes upon the Maudeleyne;

†Him oghte now to have the lesse peyne;


{97a}†He hath mad many a lay and many a thing.

†'Now as ye been a god, and eek a king,

†I, your Alceste, whylom quene of Trace,

†I axe yow this man, right of your grace,

†That ye him never hurte in al his lyve;


†And he shal sweren yow, and that as blyve,

†He shal no more agilten in this wyse;

†But he shal maken, as ye wil devyse,

†Of wemen trewe in lovinge al hir lyve,

†Wher-so ye wil, of maiden or of wyve,


†And forthren yow, as muche as he misseyde

†Or in the Rose or elles in Crisseyde.'

†The god of love answerde hir thus anoon,

†'Madame,' quod he, 'hit is so long agoon

†That I yow knew so charitable and trewe,


†That never yit, sith that the world was newe,

{98a}†To me ne fond I better noon than ye.

That, if that I wol save my degree,

†I may ne wol nat warne your requeste;

Al lyth in yow, doth with him what yow leste


†And al foryeve, with-outen lenger space;

†For who-so yeveth a yift, or doth a grace,

†Do hit by tyme, his thank is wel the more;

†And demeth ye what he shal do therfore.

†Go thanke now my lady heer,' quod he.


†I roos, and doun I sette me on my knee,

†And seyde thus: 'Madame, the god above

†Foryelde yow, that ye the god of love

†Han maked me his wrathe to foryive;

†And yeve me grace so long for to live,


†That I may knowe soothly what ye be

That han me holpen, and put in swich degree.

{99a}†But trewely I wende, as in this cas,

†Naught have agilt, ne doon to love trespas.

†Forwhy a trewe man, with-outen drede,


†Hath nat to parten with a theves dede;

†Ne a trewe lover oghte me nat blame,

†Thogh that I speke a fals lover som shame.

†They oghte rather with me for to holde,

†For that I of Creseyde wroot or tolde,


†Or of the Rose; what-so myn auctour mente,

†Algate, god wot, hit was myn entente

†To forthren trouthe in love and hit cheryce;

†And to be war fro falsnesse and fro vyce

†By swich ensample; this was my meninge.'


†And she answerde, 'lat be thyn arguinge;

†For Love ne wol nat countrepleted be

In right ne wrong; and lerne this at me!

{100a}†Thou hast thy grace, and hold thee right ther-to.

†Now wol I seyn what penance thou shalt do


†For thy trespas, and understond hit here:

†Thou shalt, whyl that thou livest, yeer by yere,

The moste party of thy lyve spende

†In making of a glorious Legende

†Of Gode Wemen, maidenes and wyves,


†That were trewe in lovinge al hir lyves;

†And telle of false men that hem bitrayen,

†That al hir lyf ne doon nat but assayen

†How many wemen they may doon a shame;

For in your world that is now holden game.


And thogh thee lesteth nat a lover be,

†Spek wel of love; this penance yeve I thee.

†And to the god of love I shal so preye,

†That he shal charge his servants, by any weye,

{101a}†To forthren thee, and wel thy labour quyte;

(B. 495) 485

Go now thy wey, thy penance is but lyte.'

†The god of love gan smyle, and than he seyde,

†'Wostow,' quod he, 'wher this be wyf or mayde,

†Or quene, or countesse, or of what degree,

†That hath so litel penance yeven thee,


†That hast deserved sorer for to smerte?

†But pitee renneth sone in gentil herte;

†That mayst thou seen, she kytheth what she is.'

†And I answerde, 'nay, sir, so have I blis,

†No more but that I see wel she is good.'


†'That is a trewe tale, by myn hood,'

†Quod Love, 'and that thou knowest wel, pardee,

†If hit be so that thou avyse thee.

{102a}†Hastow nat in a book, lyth in thy cheste,

†The grete goodnesse of the quene Alceste,


†That turned was into a dayesye:

†She that for hir husbonde chees to dye,

†And eek to goon to helle, rather than he,

†And Ercules rescued hir, pardee,

†And broghte hir out of helle agayn to blis?'


†And I answerde ageyn, and seyde, 'yis,

†Now knowe I hir! And is this good Alceste,

†The dayesye, and myn owne hertes reste?

†Now fele I wel the goodnesse of this wyf,

†That bothe after hir deeth, and in hir lyf,


†Hir grete bountee doubleth hir renoun!

†Wel hath she quit me myn affeccioun

†That I have to hir flour, the dayesye!

†No wonder is thogh Iove hir stellifye,

{103a}†As telleth Agaton, for hir goodnesse!


†Hir whyte coroun berth of hit witnesse;

†For also many vertues hadde she,

†As smale floures in hir coroun be.

†In remembraunce of hir and in honour,

†Cibella made the dayesy and the flour


†Y-coroned al with whyt, as men may see;

†And Mars yaf to hir coroun reed, pardee,

†In stede of rubies, set among the whyte.'

†Therwith this quene wex reed for shame a lyte,

†Whan she was preysed so in hir presence.


†Than seyde Love, 'a ful gret negligence

Was hit to thee, to write unstedfastnesse

*Of women, sith thou knowest hir goodnesse

*By preef, and eek by stories heer-biforn;

*Let be the chaf, and wryt wel of the corn.


{104a}*Why noldest thou han writen of Alceste,

*And leten Criseide been a-slepe and reste?

*For of Alceste shulde thy wryting be,

(B. 542) 

Sin that thou wost that kalender is she

Of goodnesse, for she taughte of fyn lovinge,


†And namely of wyfhood the livinge,

†And alle the boundes that she oghte kepe;

†Thy litel wit was thilke tyme a-slepe.

†But now I charge thee, upon thy lyf,

†That in thy Legend thou make of this wyf,


Whan thou hast othere smale mad before;

(B. 551) 

†And fare now wel, I charge thee no more.

(B. 566) 

{105a}†At Cleopatre I wol that thou beginne;

†And so forth; and my love so shalt thou winne.'

(B. 578) 

And with that word of sleep I gan a-awake,


†And right thus on my Legend gan I make.

Explicit prohemium.

[Go to Version B]

[Go to Legend of Cleopatra]

1. thousent sythis. 2. there; heuene. 3. it. 4. wit (over erasure); read wot. 5. ne is; dwellyth; cuntre. 6. heuene. 10. goddis; schulde. 13. say (better seigh). 14. neuere. 21. trowyn; aprouede storyis. 27. ouȝte; thanne; bokys. 28. There; othyr a-say (see l. 9); be (for by). 29. thow; myn. 30, 34. bokys. 33. onethe. 39. stodye; lastynge. 48. sen; flouris a-gen; sunne to sprede. 49. be (for by); schene. 50. walkynge. 51. sunne be-gynnys. 52. it; drawith it. 53. it; a-ferid. 54. it; dayis. 55. flouris. 57. frosch. 58. wyntyr; somyr. 59. preysyn; a-ryht. 60. myn. 62. makynge ropyn. 63. C. om. And; aftyr glenynge; ther. 64. er. 65. ony; laft. 66. reherse. 67. here frosche songis. 68. wele; euele a-payed. 69. Sithe. 70. eythir seruyn lef. 71. trustyth; vndyr-take. 72. lef a-gayn. 73. lef. 74. a-gen; shef. 75. lefere non; lothere. 76. witholde; nothire. 77. ho seruyth lef. 80. old. 81. -fore. 82. bokys; don. 83. schulde autoriteis. 84. There; there; othyr a-say; be. 86. nakede tixt; englis. 87. manye (twice); ellis. 88. autourys; leuyth. 89. monyth. 90. hadde; somerys. 91. medewe. 92. frosche dayseie. 93. souht (!). 94. clothede (error for closed). 95. derknese; nyht; sche dradde. 96. spadde. 97. lytyl. 98. I-benchede; turwis frorsche I-grawe (!). 99. schulde; myn. 100. somerys. 101. flouris. 102. hadde; hid (for hed). 103. with-Inne; our. 104. medewe. 105. romede. 106. sen. 107. medewe. 108. flouris sote embroudit. 110. non I-makede. 111. surmountede; odours. 112. om. eek; beute; flourys. 113. Forgetyn hadde. 114. wyntyr; nakede. 115. hadde greuyd. 116. hadde the tempre; releuyd. 117. clothede; a-geyn. 127. I supply layes. 128. I supply May. 129. worschepe; hire. 130. somerys. 131. sungyn blyssede; volentyn. 132. I supply For; ches. 133. repentynge. 134. here bekys gunne. 135. C. is here corrupt; it has—The honour and the humble obeysaunce. I try to give some sense; in any case we must read obeisaunces. 136. dedyn othere. 137, 138. C. is again corrupt and imperfect; I supply plesing and doth wel. C. has natures, cryaturys; but read nature. 139. herkenyn; dede; entent. 140. ment. 143. comyth; hise wyngis. 144. loke. 146. Clothid. 147. frette; goold; hyre her. 148. corone sche ber. 149. mane (!) flourys. 150. dayseye. 151. I-corounede; leuys. 152. flourys; corene (sic). 159. I-broudede; greuys. 160. hed; leuys. 161. Stekid; lylye flourys. 163. schon; bryhte. 164. glem a-stonede; syhte. 165. myhte; not. 167. Tho (error for Two); fery dartis; gleedys. 168. hyse wengis. 179. the thebonoyre (sic). 180. preye; euere. 186. nynetene. 192. Haddyn euere. 199. aftyr; wentyn. 201. songyn. 202. whiche; schal. 206. Penolope. 209. destene. 221. ȝoure. 224. I-songyn. [179. thebonoyre.] [185. Byhynde.] [186. ladyis nynetene.] [192. Haddyn.] [196. whiche; dayseye.] [197. styntyn; atonys.] [198. knelede; nonys.] 225. sote. 226. settyn. 227. ordere; cumpas; in-veroun. 228. thanne. 231. degre. 234. lenynge; vndyr. 238. ho (for who). 239. axsynge. 243. bettere. 244. come; syht. 247. Myne; ben. 248. myn. 249. mysseyst. 251. lettist. 252. seruyn; haldist. 254. tixt. 258. thyn; cole. 259. fole. 260. louyth paramouris. 262. folis; spryt (sic) faylyth. 263. wete; ealyth. 264. englys ek; bok. 265. forsok. 267. Bit (for But). 268. noldist; a (for have or han); goodnes. 269. wekedenes. 270. matyr; thyn. 271. thyne bokys ne coudist; (I omit ne). 273. lx. bokys. 274. thyn-self; storyis. 275. romaynys; ek grekis. 276. sundery; whiche; ledde. 277. euere; hunderede goode; on. 278. knowith; clerkis ek. 279. vsyn sweche materis; sek. 282. maydenys; wyuys. 283. stedefaste wedewys durynge all here lyuys. 284. Tellyth. 285. hunderede. 286. pete. 287. endure; here. 289. rathere; wole (error for wolde). 290. chose; ded; sundery. 291. deiedyn; wele (for wol). 293. dreynkt (!); thy (for they); woldyn. 294. kepid maydynhed. 295. ellis wedlek; here wedewehed. 299. were hethene. 302. trowe; schal. 303. trowe. 305. epistelle (see note). 306. wyuys. 307. estoryal. 308. te (for the); autourys. 309. Cristene; hethene. 310. nedyth; to endite. 311. seye; eylyth the. 312. storyis; forgete, with gete over erasure; read forgo. 313. Be (for By). 314. Al-thow; I supply that; reneyist (sic) hast myn. 315. folys. 316. so that (for that; I omit so). 317. Thanne; worthyere (!). 320. poyntys; mevid. 322. dede (for deitee; the scribe's error). 323. ek. 325. tothyr. 327. hereth manye; I-feynyd. 328. losenger. 329. totulour. 330. tabourryn; ȝoure; manye. 332. sum. 333. prere (!). 335. che; partyth; nygh (!). 337. mote; I supply nat. 338. ben acused. 339. There; be; oughte ben excusid. 340. sere. 342. vsyth bokis. 343. takyth; hed. 344. ek. 348. wrete manye; bok. 355. vsyn. 357. oughte. 358. don. 359. must. 360. owith; o (error for of); verry. 361. Schewyn; benygnete. 362. heryn here. 363. here compleyntys. 367. Which oughtyn (!). 369. manye; hunderede wyntyr here-. 370. lordys. 372. Enhaunsede; om. 2nd and. 373. goddys. 374. don; I supply and. 388. C. wol; for ful. 389. ascuse. 390. I supply But. 397, 399, 400. ȝoure. 401. where (= whether); renagat. 403. makid lewede folk to; I omit to. 412. othyr. 413. translatid. 414. wrechede engendrynge. 436. I neuere non betere; the. 437. wele; myn. 438. wel. 456. may (for oghte). 507. herte is reste. 518. Of (for In). 526. the; onstedefastnesse. 527. sithe thow knowist here. 528. pref; ek; storyis here. 530. noldist; writyn. 531. latyn; ben. 532. thyn wrytynge. 533. wist (badly); calandier. 544. slep. 545. myn legende.

The prologe of .ix. goode Wimmen.

A thousand tymes have I herd men telle,

That ther is Ioye in heven, and peyne in helle;

{66b}And I acorde wel that hit is so;

But natheles, yit wot I wel also,


That ther nis noon dwelling in this contree,

That either hath in heven or helle y-be,

†Ne may of hit non other weyes witen,

†But as he hath herd seyd, or founde hit writen;

For by assay ther may no man hit preve.


But god forbede but men shulde leve

Wel more thing then men han seen with yë!

Men shal nat wenen every-thing a lyë

But-if him-self hit seeth, or elles dooth;

For, god wot, thing is never the lasse sooth,


†Thogh every wight ne may hit nat y-see.

Bernard the monk ne saugh nat al, parde!

†Than mote we to bokes that we finde,

†Through which that olde thinges been in minde.

{67b}†And to the doctrine of these olde wyse,


†Yeve credence, in every skilful wyse,

That tellen of these olde appreved stories,

†Of holinesse, of regnes, of victories,

†Of love, of hate, of other sundry thinges,

†Of whiche I may not maken rehersinges.


And if that olde bokes were a-weye,

†Y-loren were of remembraunce the keye.

Wel oghte us than honouren and beleve

These bokes, ther we han non other preve.

And as for me, thogh that I can but lyte,


†On bokes for to rede I me delyte,

And to hem yeve I feyth and ful credence,

†And in myn herte have hem in reverence

So hertely, that ther is game noon

That fro my bokes maketh me to goon,


{68b}But hit be seldom, on the holyday;

Save, certeynly, whan that the month of May

Is comen, and that I here the foules singe,

†And that the floures ginnen for to springe,

Farwel my book and my devocioun!


Now have I than swich a condicioun,

That, of alle the floures in the mede,

†Than love I most these floures whyte and rede,

†Swiche as men callen daysies in our toun.

†To hem have I so greet affeccioun,


†As I seyde erst, whan comen is the May,

That in my bed ther daweth me no day

†That I nam up, and walking in the mede

To seen this flour agein the sonne sprede,

Whan hit upryseth erly by the morwe;


*That blisful sighte softneth al my sorwe,

{69b}*So glad am I whan that I have presence

*Of hit, to doon al maner reverence,

As she, that is of alle floures flour,

Fulfilled of al vertu and honour,


†And ever y-lyke fair, and fresh of hewe;

And I love hit, and ever y-lyke newe,

*And ever shal, til that myn herte dye;

*Al swere I nat, of this I wol nat lye,

*Ther loved no wight hotter in his lyve.


*And whan that hit is eve, I renne blyve,

As sone as ever the sonne ginneth weste,

To seen this flour, how it wol go to reste,

For fere of night, so hateth she derknesse!

From B. 53-56.

As she, that is of alle floures flour,

Fulfilled of al vertu and honour,

†And ever y-lyke fair, and fresh of hewe;

And I love hit, and ever y-lyke newe.

{70b}*Hir chere is pleynly sprad in the brightnesse


*Of the sonne, for ther hit wol unclose.

*Allas! that I ne had English, ryme or prose,

Suffisant this flour to preyse aright!

*But helpeth, ye that han conning and might,

*Ye lovers, that can make of sentement;


*In this cas oghte ye be diligent

*To forthren me somwhat in my labour,

*Whether ye ben with the leef or with the flour.

For wel I wot, that ye han her-biforn

†Of making ropen, and lad awey the corn;


†And I come after, glening here and there,

†And am ful glad if I may finde an ere

Of any goodly word that ye han left.

And thogh it happen me rehercen eft

That ye han in your fresshe songes sayd,


For-bereth me, and beth nat evel apayd,

Sin that ye see I do hit in the honour

Of love, and eek in service of the flour,

{71b}From B. 188-196.

But natheles, ne wene nat that I make

In preysing of the flour agayn the leef,

†No more than of the corn agayn the sheef.

For as to me, nis lever noon ne lother;

I nam with-holden yit with never nother.

Ne I not who serveth leef, ne who the flour;

Wel brouken they hir service or labour.

For this thing is al of another tonne,

Of olde story, er swich thing was begonne.

*Whom that I serve as I have wit or might.

*She is the clernesse and the verray light,


*That in this derke worlde me wynt and ledeth,

*The herte in-with my sorowful brest yow dredeth,

*And loveth so sore, that ye ben verrayly

*The maistresse of my wit, and nothing I.

*My word, my werk, is knit so in your bonde,


*That, as an harpe obeyeth to the honde

*And maketh hit soune after his fingeringe,

*Right so mowe ye out of myn herte bringe

*Swich vois, right as yow list, to laughe or pleyne.

*Be ye my gyde and lady sovereyne;


*As to myn erthly god, to yow I calle,

*Bothe in this werke and in my sorwes alle.

{72b}But wherfor that I spak, to give credence

To olde stories, and doon hem reverence,

And that men mosten more thing beleve


Then men may seen at eye or elles preve?

*That shal I seyn, whan that I see my tyme;

*I may not al at ones speke in ryme.

*My besy gost, that thrusteth alwey newe

*To seen this flour so yong, so fresh of hewe,


*Constreyned me with so gledy desyr,

*That in my herte I fele yit the fyr,

*That made me to ryse er hit wer day—

And this was now the firste morwe of May

*With dredful herte and glad devocioun,


*For to ben at the resureccioun

*Of this flour, whan that it shuld unclose

*Agayn the sonne, that roos as rede as rose,

*That in the brest was of the beste that day,

*That Agenores doghter ladde away.


{73b}*And doun on knees anon-right I me sette,

*And, as I coude, this fresshe flour I grette;

*Kneling alwey, til hit unclosed was,

*Upon the smale softe swote gras,

From B. 180, 182.

The longe day I shoop me for to abyde ...

But for to loke upon the dayesye.

From B. 197-200.

Whan that the sonne out of the south gan weste,

And that this flour gan close and goon to reste

For derknesse of the night, the which she dredde,

†Hoom to myn hous ful swiftly I me spedde;

From B. 203-211.

†And, in a litel herber that I have,

That benched was on turves fresshe y-grave,

†I bad men sholde me my couche make;

†For deyntee of the newe someres sake,

†I bad hem strawen floures on my bed.

†Whan I was leyd, and had my eyen hed,

I fel on slepe in-with an houre or two;

Me mette how I lay in the medew tho,

{74b}To seen this flour, that I so love and drede,

That was with floures swote enbrouded al,


*Of swich swetnesse and swich odour over-al,

That, for to speke of gomme, or herbe, or tree,

†Comparisoun may noon y-maked be;

For hit surmounteth pleynly alle odoures,

†And eek of riche beautee alle floures.


Forgeten had the erthe his pore estat

†Of winter, that him naked made and mat,

And with his swerd of cold so sore greved;

Now hath the atempre sonne al that releved

That naked was, and clad hit new agayn.


The smale foules, of the seson fayn,

†That from the panter and the net ben scaped,

{75b}Upon the fouler, that hem made a-whaped

†In winter, and distroyed had hir brood,

†In his despyt, hem thoughte hit did hem good


†To singe of him, and in hir song despyse

†The foule cherl that, for his covetyse,

†Had hem betrayed with his sophistrye.

†This was hir song—'the fouler we defye,

And al his craft!' And somme songen clere


Layes of love, that Ioye hit was to here,

In worshipinge and preisinge of hir make.

And, for the newe blisful somers sake,

*Upon the braunches ful of blosmes softe,

*In hir delyt, they turned hem ful ofte,


And songen, 'blessed be seynt Valentyn!

For on his day I chees yow to be myn,

{76b}†Withouten repenting, myn herte swete!'

†And therwith-al hir bekes gonnen mete,

Yelding honour and humble obeisaunces


To love, and diden hir other observaunces

That longeth unto love and to nature;

*Construeth that as yow list, I do no cure.

*And tho that hadde doon unkindenesse—

*As dooth the tydif, for new-fangelnesse—


*Besoghte mercy of hir trespassinge,

*And humblely songen hir repentinge,

*And sworen on the blosmes to be trewe,

*So that hir makes wolde upon hem rewe,

*And at the laste maden hir acord.


*Al founde they Daunger for a tyme a lord,

*Yet Pitee, through his stronge gentil might,

*Forgaf, and made Mercy passen Right,

*Through innocence and ruled curtesye.

*But I ne clepe nat innocence folye,


*Ne fals pitee, for 'vertu is the mene,'

*As Etik saith, in swich maner I mene.

*And thus thise foules, voide of al malyce,

*Acordeden to love, and laften vyce

*Of hate, and songen alle of oon acord,


*'Welcome, somer, our governour and lord!'

{77b}*And Zephirus and Flora gentilly

*Yaf to the floures, softe and tenderly,

*Hir swote breth, and made hem for to sprede,

*As god and goddesse of the floury mede;


*In which me thoghte I mighte, day by day,

*Dwellen alwey, the Ioly month of May,

*Withouten sleep, withouten mete or drinke.

*A-doun ful softely I gan to sinke;

*And, leninge on myn elbowe and my syde,


The longe day I shoop me for to abyde

*For nothing elles, and I shal nat lye,

But for to loke upon the dayesye,

*That wel by reson men hit calle may

*The 'dayesye' or elles the 'ye of day,'


*The emperice and flour of floures alle.

*I pray to god that faire mot she falle,

*And alle that loven floures, for hir sake!

But natheles, ne wene nat that I make

In preysing of the flour agayn the leef,


*No more than of the corn agayn the sheef:

{78b}For, as to me, nis lever noon ne lother;

I nam with-holden yit with never nother.

Ne I not who serveth leef, ne who the flour;

Wel brouken they hir service or labour;


For this thing is al of another tonne,

Of olde story, er swich thing was be-gonne.

Whan that the sonne out of the south gan weste,

And that this flour gan close and goon to reste

For derknesse of the night, the which she dredde,


†Hoom to myn hous ful swiftly I me spedde

*To goon to reste, and erly for to ryse,

To seen this flour to sprede, as I devyse.

†And, in a litel herber that I have,

That benched was on turves fresshe y-grave,


†I bad men sholde me my couche make;

†For deyntee of the newe someres sake,

†I bad hem strawen floures on my bed.

†Whan I was leyd, and had myn eyen hed,

I fel on slepe in-with an houre or two;


{79b}Me mette how I lay in the medew tho,

To seen this flour that I so love and drede.

And from a-fer com walking in the mede

The god of love, and in his hande a quene;

And she was clad in real habit grene.


†A fret of gold she hadde next hir heer,

†And upon that a whyt coroun she beer

With florouns smale, and I shal nat lye;

For al the world, ryght as a dayesye

†Y-corouned is with whyte leves lyte,


So were the florouns of hir coroun whyte;

{80b}For of o perle fyne, oriental,

†Hir whyte coroun was y-maked al;

For which the whyte coroun, above the grene,

†Made hir lyk a daysie for to sene,


Considered eek hir fret of gold above.

†Y-clothed was this mighty god of love

In silke, enbrouded ful of grene greves,

In-with a fret of rede rose-leves,

*The fresshest sin the world was first bigonne.


*His gilte heer was corouned with a sonne,

*In-stede of gold, for hevinesse and wighte;

Therwith me thoughte his face shoon so brighte

That wel unnethes mighte I him beholde;

And in his hande me thoughte I saugh him holde


†Two fyry dartes, as the gledes rede;

And aungellyke his winges saugh I sprede.

{81b}†And al be that men seyn that blind is he,

Al-gate me thoughte that he mighte see;

†For sternely on me he gan biholde,


†So that his loking doth myn herte colde.

†And by the hande he held this noble quene,

Corouned with whyte, and clothed al in grene,

†So womanly, so benigne, and so meke,

†That in this world, thogh that men wolde seke,


†Half hir beautee shulde men nat finde

†In creature that formed is by kinde.

From B. 276-295.

That is so good, so fair, so debonaire;

I prey to god that ever falle hir faire!

†For, nadde comfort been of hir presence,

†I had ben deed, withouten any defence,


†For drede of Loves wordes and his chere;

†As, when tyme is, her-after ye shal here.

{82b}Behind this god of love, upon the grene,

†I saugh cominge of ladyës nyntene

†In real habit, a ful esy paas;


†And after hem com of women swich a traas,

That, sin that god Adam had mad of erthe

The thridde part of mankynd, or the ferthe,

†Ne wende I nat by possibilitee,

Had ever in this wyde worlde y-be;


†And trewe of love thise women were echoon.

†Now whether was that a wonder thing or noon,

†That, right anoon as that they gonne espye

†This flour, which that I clepe the dayesye,

†Ful sodeinly they stinten alle at ones,


And kneled doun, as it were for the nones,


{83b}*And therfor may I seyn, as thinketh me,

*This song, in preysing of this lady fre.


†Hyd, Absolon, thy gilte tresses clere;


Ester, ley thou thy meknesse al a-doun;

†Hyd, Ionathas, al thy frendly manere;

Penalopee, and Marcia Catoun,

†Mak of your wyfhod no comparisoun;

†Hyde ye your beautes, Isoude and Eleyne,


My lady cometh, that al this may disteyne.

†Thy faire body, lat hit nat appere,

Lavyne; and thou, Lucresse of Rome toun,

†And Polixene, that boghten love so dere,

And Cleopatre, with al thy passioun,


Hyde ye your trouthe of love and your renoun;

{84b}And thou, Tisbe, that hast of love swich peyne;

My lady cometh, that al this may disteyne.

Herro, Dido, Laudomia, alle y-fere,

And Phyllis, hanging for thy Demophoun,


†And Canace, espyed by thy chere,

Ysiphile, betraysed with Jasoun,

Maketh of your trouthe neyther boost ne soun;

Nor Ypermistre or Adriane, ye tweyne;

My lady cometh, that al this may disteyne.


This balade may ful wel y-songen be,

*As I have seyd erst, by my lady free;

*For certeynly, alle these mow nat suffyse

*To apperen with my lady in no wyse.

*For as the sonne wol the fyr disteyne,


*So passeth al my lady sovereyne,

{85b}That is so good, so fair, so debonaire;

I prey to god that ever falle hir faire!

†For, nadde comfort been of hir presence,

†I had ben deed, withouten any defence,


†For drede of Loves wordes and his chere;

†As, when tyme is, her-after ye shal here.

Behind this god of love, upon the grene,

†I saugh cominge of ladyës nyntene

†In real habit, a ful esy paas;


†And after hem com of women swich a traas,

That, sin that god Adam had mad of erthe,

The thridde part of mankynd, or the ferthe,

†Ne wende I nat by possibilitee,

Had ever in this wyde worlde y-be;


†And trewe of love thise women were echoon.

†Now whether was that a wonder thing or noon,

†That, right anoon as that they gonne espye

†This flour, which that I clepe the dayesye,

†Ful sodeinly they stinten alle at ones,


And kneled doun, as it were for the nones,

{86b}*And songen with o vois, 'Hele and honour

*To trouthe of womanhede, and to this flour

*That berth our alder prys in figuringe!

*Hir whyte coroun berth the witnessinge!'


And with that word, a-compas enviroun,

†They setten hem ful softely adoun.

First sat the god of love, and sith his quene

†With the whyte coroun, clad in grene;

†And sithen al the remenant by and by,


As they were of estaat, ful curteisly;

†Ne nat a word was spoken in the place

†The mountance of a furlong-wey of space.

I kneling by this flour, in good entente

†Abood, to knowen what this peple mente,


†As stille as any stoon; til at the laste,

This god of love on me his eyen caste,

{87b}And seyde, 'who kneleth ther'? and I answerde

Unto his asking, whan that I hit herde,

†And seyde, 'sir, hit am I'; and com him neer,


†And salued him. Quod he, 'what dostow heer

So nigh myn owne flour, so boldely?

†For it were better worthy, trewely,

A worm to neghen neer my flour than thou.'

†'And why, sir,' quod I, 'and hit lyke yow?'


†'For thou,' quod he, 'art ther-to nothing able.

*Hit is my relik, digne and delytable,

And thou my fo, and al my folk werreyest,

†And of myn olde servaunts thou misseyest,

†And hindrest hem, with thy translacioun,


And lettest folk from hir devocioun

†To serve me, and holdest hit folye

To serve Love. Thou mayst hit nat denye;

{88b}For in pleyn text, with-outen nede of glose,

†Thou hast translated the Romaunce of the Rose,


†That is an heresye ageyns my lawe,

†And makest wyse folk fro me withdrawe.

And of Criseyde thou hast seyd as thee liste,

That maketh men to wommen lasse triste,

{89b}That ben as trewe as ever was any steel.


{90b}*Of thyn answere avyse thee right weel;

For, thogh that thou reneyed hast my lay,

As other wrecches han doon many a day,

By seynt Venus, that my moder is,

If that thou live, thou shalt repenten this


So cruelly, that hit shal wel be sene!'

Tho spak this lady, clothed al in grene,

†And seyde, 'god, right of your curtesye,

Ye moten herknen if he can replye

Agayns al this that ye han to him meved;


†A god ne sholde nat be thus agreved,

{91b}†But of his deitee he shal be stable,

And therto gracious and merciable.

*And if ye nere a god, that knowen al,

*Than mighte hit be, as I yow tellen shal;


This man to you may falsly been accused,

†Ther as by right him oghte been excused.

For in your court is many a losengeour,

†And many a queynte totelere accusour,

That tabouren in your eres many a soun,


Right after hir imaginacioun,

To have your daliance, and for envye;

*These been the causes, and I shall nat lye.

Envye is lavender of the court alway;

†For she ne parteth, neither night ne day,


{92b}†Out of the hous of Cesar; thus seith Dante;

Who-so that goth, algate she wol nat wante.

From B. 350, 351.

This man to yow may falsly been accused,

†Ther as by right him oghte been excused.

And eek, paraunter, for this man is nyce,

He mighte doon hit, gessing no malyce,

But for he useth thinges for to make;


Him rekketh noght of what matere he take;

Or him was boden maken thilke tweye

†Of som persone, and durste hit nat with-seye;

*Or him repenteth utterly of this.

†He ne hath nat doon so grevously amis


†To translaten that olde clerkes wryten,

As thogh that he of malice wolde endyten

{93b}Despyt of love, and had him-self hit wroght.

†This shulde a rightwys lord have in his thoght,

†And nat be lyk tiraunts of Lumbardye,


Than han no reward but at tirannye.

†For he that king or lord is naturel,

†Him oghte nat be tiraunt ne cruel,

†As is a fermour, to doon the harm he can.

†He moste thinke hit is his lige man,


*And is his tresour, and his gold in cofre.

†This is the sentence of the philosophre:

†A king to kepe his liges in Iustyce;

†With-outen doute, that is his offyce.

{94b}Al wol he kepe his lordes hir degree,


†As hit is right and skilful that they be

†Enhaunced and honoured, and most dere—

†For they ben half-goddes in this world here—

Yit mot he doon bothe right, to pore and riche,

Al be that hir estat be nat y-liche,


†And han of pore folk compassioun.

†For lo, the gentil kynd of the leoun!

†For whan a flye offendeth him or byteth,

†He with his tayl awey the flye smyteth

†Al esily; for, of his genterye,


†Him deyneth nat to wreke him on a flye,

†As doth a curre or elles another beste.

†In noble corage oghte been areste,

†And weyen every thing by equitee,

†And ever han reward to his owen degree.


{95b}†For, sir, hit is no maystrie for a lord

To dampne a man with-oute answere of word;

†And, for a lord, that is ful foul to use.

†And if so be he may him nat excuse,

But asketh mercy with a dredful herte,


†And profreth him, right in his bare sherte,

†To been right at your owne Iugement,

†Than oghte a god, by short avysement,

†Considre his owne honour and his trespas.

†For sith no cause of deeth lyth in this cas,


†Yow oghte been the lighter merciable;

†Leteth your yre, and beth somwhat tretable!

†The man hath served yow of his conning,

And forthred wel your lawe in his making.

{96b}'Al be hit that he can nat wel endyte,


Yet hath he maked lewed folk delyte

†To serve you, in preysing of your name.

He made the book that hight the Hous of Fame,

†And eek the Deeth of Blaunche the Duchesse,

†And the Parlement of Foules, as I gesse,


†And al the love of Palamon and Arcyte

†Of Thebes, thogh the story is knowen lyte;

†And many an ympne for your halydayes,

†That highten Balades, Roundels, Virelayes;

And, for to speke of other holynesse,


†He hath in prose translated Boëce,

†And mad the Lyf also of seynt Cecyle;

†He made also, goon sithen a greet whyl,

Origenes upon the Maudeleyne;

†Him oghte now to have the lesse peyne;


{97b}†He hath mad many a lay and many a thing.

†'Now as ye been a god, and eek a king,

†I, your Alceste, whylom quene of Trace,

†I aske yow this man, right of your grace,

†That ye him never hurte in al his lyve;


†And he shal sweren yow, and that as blyve,

†He shal no more agilten in this wyse;

†But he shal maken, as ye wil devyse,

†Of wommen trewe in lovinge al hir lyve,

†Wher-so ye wil, of maiden or of wyve,


†And forthren yow, as muche as he misseyde

†Or in the Rose or elles in Creseyde.'

†The god of love answerde hir thus anoon,

†'Madame,' quod he, 'hit is so long agoon

†That I yow knew so charitable and trewe,


†That never yit, sith that the world was newe,

{98b}†To me ne fond I better noon than ye.

If that I wolde save my degree,

†I may ne wol nat werne your requeste;

Al lyth in yow, doth with him as yow leste.


†I al foryeve, with-outen lenger space;

†For who-so yeveth a yift, or doth a grace,

Do hit by tyme, his thank is wel the more;

†And demeth ye what he shal do therfore.

†Go thanke now my lady heer,' quod he.


†I roos, and doun I sette me on my knee,

†And seyde thus: 'Madame, the god above

†Foryelde yow, that ye the god of love

†Han maked me his wrathe to foryive;

†And yeve me grace so long for to live,


†That I may knowe soothly what ye be

That han me holpe and put in this degree.

{99b}†But trewely I wende, as in this cas,

†Naught have agilt, ne doon to love trespas.

†Forwhy a trewe man, with-outen drede,


Hath nat to parten with a theves dede;

Ne a trewe lover oghte me nat blame,

†Thogh that I speke a fals lover som shame.

†They oghte rather with me for to holde,

†For that I of Creseyde wroot or tolde,


†Or of the Rose; what-so myn auctour mente,

†Algate, god wot, hit was myn entente

†To forthren trouthe in love and hit cheryce;

†And to be war fro falsnesse and fro vyce

†By swich ensample; this was my meninge.'


†And she answerde, 'lat be thyn arguinge;

†For Love ne wol nat countrepleted be

In right ne wrong; and lerne that of me!

{100b}†Thou hast thy grace, and hold thee right ther-to.

†Now wol I seyn what penance thou shalt do


†For thy trespas, and understond hit here:

†Thou shalt, whyl that thou livest, yeer by yere,

The moste party of thy tyme spende

†In making of a glorious Legende

†Of Gode Wommen, maidenes and wyves,


†That weren trewe in lovinge al hir lyves;

†And telle of false men that hem bitrayen,

†That al hir lyf ne doon nat but assayen

†How many wommen they may doon a shame;

For in your world that is now holde a game.


And thogh thee lyke nat a lover be,

†Spek wel of love; this penance yive I thee.

†And to the god of love I shal so preye,

†That he shal charge his servants, by any weye,

{101b}†To forthren thee, and wel thy labour quyte;


Go now thy wey, this penance is but lyte.

*And whan this book is maad, yive hit the quene

*On my behalfe, at Eltham, or at Shene.'

†The god of love gan smyle, and than he seyde,

†'Wostow,' quod he, 'wher this be wyf or mayde,


†Or quene, or countesse, or of what degree,

†That hath so litel penance yiven thee,

†That hast deserved sorer for to smerte?

But pitee renneth sone in gentil herte;

†That maystow seen, she kytheth what she is.'


†And I answerde, 'nay, sir, so have I blis,

†No more but that I see wel she is good.'

†'That is a trewe tale, by myn hood,'

†Quod Love, 'and that thou knowest wel, pardee,

†If hit be so that thou avyse thee.


{102b}Hastow nat in a book, lyth in thy cheste,

†The grete goodnesse of the quene Alceste,

†That turned was into a dayesye:

†She that for hir husbonde chees to dye,

†And eek to goon to helle, rather than he,


And Ercules rescowed hir, pardee,

†And broghte hir out of helle agayn to blis?'

†And I answerde ageyn, and seyde, 'yis,

†Now knowe I hir! And is this good Alceste,

†The dayesye, and myn owne hertes reste?


†Now fele I wel the goodnesse of this wyf,

†That bothe after hir deeth, and in hir lyf,

†Hir grete bountee doubleth hir renoun!

†Wel hath she quit me myn affeccioun

†That I have to hir flour, the dayesye!


†No wonder is thogh Iove hir stellifye,

{103b}†As telleth Agaton, for hir goodnesse!

†Hir whyte coroun berth of hit witnesse;

†For also many vertues hadde she,

†As smale floures in hir coroun be.


†In remembraunce of hir and in honour,

Cibella made the dayesy and the flour

†Y-coroned al with whyt, as men may see;

†And Mars yaf to hir coroun reed, pardee,

†In stede of rubies, set among the whyte.'


†Therwith this quene wex reed for shame a lyte,

†Whan she was preysed so in hir presence.

†Than seyde Love, 'a ful gret negligence

Was hit to thee, that ilke tyme thou made

*"Hyd, Absolon, thy tresses," in balade,


*That thou forgete hir in thy song to sette,

*Sin that thou art so gretly in hir dette,

{104b}And wost so wel, that kalender is she

*To any woman that wol lover be.

For she taughte al the craft of fyn lovinge,


†And namely of wyfhood the livinge,

†And alle the boundes that she oghte kepe;

†Thy litel wit was thilke tyme a-slepe.

†But now I charge thee, upon thy lyf,

†That in thy Legend thou make of this wyf,


Whan thou hast other smale y-maad before;

†And fare now wel, I charge thee no more.

*'But er I go, thus muche I wol thee telle,

*Ne shal no trewe lover come in helle.

*Thise other ladies sittinge here arowe


*Ben in thy balade, if thou canst hem knowe,

*And in thy bokes alle thou shalt hem finde;

*Have hem now in thy Legend alle in minde,

*I mene of hem that been in thy knowinge.

*For heer ben twenty thousand mo sittinge


{105b}*Than thou knowest, that been good wommen alle

*And trewe of love, for aught that may befalle;

*Make the metres of hem as thee leste.

*I mot gon hoom, the sonne draweth weste,

*To Paradys, with al this companye;


*And serve alwey the fresshe dayesye.

†'At Cleopatre I wol that thou beginne;

†And so forth; and my love so shalt thou winne.

*For lat see now what man that lover be,

*Wol doon so strong a peyne for love as she.


*I wot wel that thou mayst nat al hit ryme,

*That swiche lovers diden in hir tyme;

*It were to long to reden and to here;

*Suffyceth me, thou make in this manere,

*That thou reherce of al hir lyf the grete,


*After thise olde auctours listen to trete.

*For who-so shal so many a storie telle,

*Sey shortly, or he shal to longe dwelle.'

And with that word my bokes gan I take,

†And right thus on my Legend gan I make.

[Go to Legend of Cleopatra]

1. T. C. A. have I herd; rest I have herd. F. B. P. om. men; the rest have it. 2. F. B. (only) om. That. 5. F. T. is; rest nis. 6. F. Tn. Th. B. P. ins. 2nd in before helle; T. A. om. 8. F. seyde. 13. F. -selfe; dooth. 14. F. sooth. 16. F. monke; all. 18. F. ben. 20. C. Yeuyn (for Yeve). 23. F. sondry. 25. F. awey; C. Tn. A. aweye. 26. F. Y-lorne; C. I-loryn; P. I-lore. F. key; C. Tn. A. keye. 27. F. ought; thanne. 28. F. there; noon. 29. F. though. A. Th. P. can; T. con; F. Tn. konne. 31. F. yiue; rest yeue. 33. F. hertly; Tn. Th. B. hertely; T. hertyly; A. hertfully. 36. Tn. A. Th. month; B. P. moneth; F. monethe. 39. C. Th. Farwel; F. Faire wel. F. boke. 40. F. thanne. F. B. suche a; T. Th. eke thys; A. lo this; Tn. ek; P. eke a. 41. F. al. 42. F. Thanne; thise. 43. C. Swyche; F. Suche. F. her (for our); rest our. 44. F. grete. 45. C. whan; F. whanne. 47. F. vppe. 48. F. floure ayein. 49. F. vprysith. 50. All sight: read sighte. 52. A. all maner; Add. hit alle maner; Th. alle; F. Th. it al; Tn. B. it alle; P. it alle. 53. Tn. T. alle; F. al (wrongly). 54. F. vertue. 55. F. faire; fressh. 57. F. hert; Tn. herte. 61. F. evere. 64. F. Hire. 66. F. englyssh. 68. F. konnyng. 69. F. sentment; rest sentement. 70. F. case. All oght, ought (wrongly); read oghte. 72. F. Whethir; read Whe'r. 73. F. -biforne. 74. F. makynge; corne. 79. F. fresshe; A. fresche; Th. fresshe. F. sayede; Tn. said. 80. F. euele apayede; Tn. euylle a-paid. 82. F. eke; Tn. ek. 83. F. witte; Tn. wit. 84. F. clerenesse; Tn. clernesse. 85. F. ledyth. 86. All hert. F. sorwfull; dredith. 88. F. witte; Tn. wyt. F. not thing (over erasure); rest nothyng. 89. F. worde. F. werkes; Tn. werkes; T. werke; A. werk. F. youre. Tn. bonde; F. bond. 90. Tn. honde; F. hond. 92. F. oute. Th. B. herte; rest hert. 93. F. pleyn; Tn. pleyne. 94. F. souereyn; Tn. souereyne. 95. F. erthely; yowe. 96. A. B. in my; rest omit 2nd in. 97. F. wherfore. A. spak; F. spake. 100. Tn. Th. B. P. men; A. man; T. they; F. om. F. eighe. 101. Tn. whan; F. whanne. 102. F. (only) om. al. T. A. at ones; Tn. atones; F. attones. 103. F. trusteth (!); A. B. thrustith; Tn. Th. P. thursteth. 104. F. fressh. 105. F. Tn. A. B. P. gledy; T. glad; Th. gredy. 106. F. feele yet the fire. 108. F. om. this. 109. F. hert. 111. F. om. that. 112. F. Agayne. F. rede; better reed, as in Th. 114. F. doghtre. 115. F. dovne; knes anoon ryght. 116. F. koude. F. fresshe; A. fresche. 118. Tn. T. smale; F. smal. 120. F. suetnesse. 124. A. eke rest omit. F. beaute. F. (only) of (for alle). 125. F. estate; C. Tn. estat. 126. F. wynter. F. B. hem; rest him. C. mat; Tn. maat; rest mate. 127. F. colde. 128. Th. the atempre; Tn. A. B. the attempre; F. thatempre; P. the a-tempred. F. alle. 131. C. T. A. from; rest of. F. nette; C. Tn. net. 132. Tn. T. A. fouler; F. foweler. 133. F. hadde; broode. 134. F. dispite; C. dispit. F. goode; C. good. 135. C. song; F. songe. C. Tn. despise; F. dispise. 136. F. cherle. 138. F. hire. Tn. T. A. fouler; C. foulere; F. foweler. 139. F. crafte; T. A. craft. 141. F. Tn. B. in preysinge; rest om. in. 144. F. hire. 146. C. ches; T. chase; P. chose; F. chees (rightly); rest chese. 147. C. herte; F. hert. 148. F. -alle hire. 150. F. hire othere. 151. F. Tn. on to; T. A. Th. B. vnto. 153. F. thoo. Tn. vnkyndenesse; F. vnkyndnesse. 154. F. dooth. 156. F. Tn. B. humblely (trisyllabic); T. Th. humbly. A. P. songen; T. sangen; rest songe. 158. F. hire. 159. F. hire (and elsewhere). 161. F. thurgh. 162. Tn. T. Th. B. P. made; F. mad. 163. F. Thurgh. 164. F. Tn. Th. P. clepe it nat; but T. A. om. it. T. also om. nat; and A. has that for nat. 165. F. vertue. 166. Tn. A. Etic; B. Etyk; F. etike; T. Ethik. 167. Tn. foules; F. foweles. 169. A. songen; T. songyn; F. Tn. B. songe. F. Tn. acorde; T. acord; A. accord. 170. F. oure. F. Tn. lorde; T. A. lord. 171. Tn. zephirus; F. Zepherus. 173. F. Hire swoote. 175. F. whiche; thoght; myght. 176. F. Duellen. Tn. A. month; T. moneth; F. monyth. 177. Tn. sleep; F. slepe. 178. F. A-dovne. 180. F. shoope. Tn. to a-bide; F. tabide. 181. F. ellis. 182. Tn. dayesye; F. daysie. 183. F. B. (only) transpose wel and men. 184. Tn. dayesie; F. daisie. 185. F. floure; A. flour. 186. T. mot; P. may; rest mote. 190. F. corne; Tn. corn. 192. F. mother (!); rest nother. 194. F. browken; her. 196. T. story; F. storye; Tn. storie. F. swiche thinge. 197. All west; read weste (as in MS. Add. 9832). 198. F. floure. All rest; read reste (as in MS. Add. 9832 and in l. 201). 199. Th. dredde (rightly); rest dred. 200. Tn. hom; F. Home. Th. spedde (rightly); rest sped. 202. F. B. (only) omit to. 208. F. leyde; A. laid. 209. F. twoo. 210. Tn. medew; F. medewe; T. A. medow. 211, 212. F. (only) transposes these lines. 211. T. A. Add. so love; rest love so. 212. Tn. com; Th. cam; rest come. 214. Tn. habit; F. habite. 215. C. hadde; rest had (badly). 216. C. whit; P. whyt; F. Tn. B. white. T. coroun; C. corone; F. corwne; Tn. Th. crowne (but corowne in ll. 220, 223). 217 (and 220). Th. florouns; Tn. floruns; F. flourouns; B. flowrouns; rest floures. 218. C. world; F. worlde. Tn. dayesie; F. daysye. 220. P. corown; F. corovne; T. coroune; Tn. Th. B. corowne; A. croun. 222. F. Hire. F. corovne; C. coroun (and in l. 223). 224. F. hire lyke. 225. F. eke; golde. 229. F. worlde; Tn. world. 230. F. Tn. gilte; T. A. gilt. Tn. heer; F. here; A. hair. 231. F. I stede; rest In stede. F. golde; Tn. gold. 232. F. thoght. In 231, 232, most MSS. have wight, bright; but C. has bryhte, riming with syhte. 233. F. myght. 234. F. thoght. 235. F. Twoo. 238. F. thoght; myght. 240. F. dooth; C. both (!). C. herte; F. hert. 241. F. helde; C. held. C. the (for this). 242. F. Corowned. 244. F. om. wolde seke. 245. F. imperfect; has only nat fynde. C. Half hire beute schulde men; A. (only) inserts of after Half. [282. C. this; for the.] [286. C. om. had.] [287. C. thredde. C. Wemen ne; for mankynd or.] 247. F. therfore. 248. F. songe. 249. F. Tn. omit. C. Hyd absalon thynne gilte tressis clere. T. A. Th. absolon thy. 250. C. meknesse; F. mekenesse. C. adoun; F. adowne. 252. C. T. P. Penolope. 253. C. Mak; rest Make. F. youre; Tn. your. C. wyfhod; F. wifhode. 254. F. youre. 255. F. comith (and in l. 262). 257. F. tovne; C. toun. 261. F. Tesbe; C. Tysbe; Tn. A. Th. Tisbe; T. Tisbee. F. Tn. Th. B. P. of; C. T. A. for. C. swich; F. suche. 263. Th. Hero; MSS. Herro. C. Th. Laodomya; rest laudomia. 266. C. T. Th. bytrayed. 267. C. soun; F. sovne. 271. F. seyde; Tn. seid. 272. Tn. mow; F. Th. mowe; T. A. may. 274. F. wole; fire. 276. F. faire; Tn. fair. 279. F. Tn. hadde; T. A. had. F. dede; Tn. deed. 282. F. Behynde; A. Behynd. 283. F. comyng; Tn. comynge. F. Nientene; Tn. nyentene; T. A. nyntene. 284. F. habite. 285. F. coome. F. wymen; T. wemen; Th. B. P. women; A. wommen. 286. F. hadde made. 290. F. echon. 291. F. wheither (pronounced whe'r). F. non. 293. F. daysie; Tn. dayesie. 294. F. styten (miswritten for stynten). T. at ones; F. attones. 295. F. knelede dovne. 296. T. A. hele; Tn. heele; F. heel. 297. F. The (for To); rest To. 298. F. bereth. 299. F. Hire; corowne. F. beryth; Tn. berth. 301. F. softly; Tn. softely. 303. F. corowne; C. corone. 304. F. remenannt; C. remenant. 306. F. worde. 308. F. floure. 309. F. Aboode; Tn. Abood. 310. F. ston. F. last; C. laste. 311. F. hyse eighen. 312. F. there. 314. F. B. (only) om. sir. C. cam; F. come. C. ner; F. nere (see l. 318). 315. A. salued; F. salwed; C. salewede. C. her; F. here. 316. F. ovne floure. 317. C. A. For; rest om. 318. F. worme; Tn. worm; C. werm. Tn. neer; F. ner. 319. F. sire. 321. Tn. relik; F. relyke. 322. F. foo; folke. 323. F. servauntes; Tn. seruauntz. 324. Tn. hindrest; F. hynderest. 325. F. folke. 326, 327. F. om. from me to serve. 328. F. pleyne. 329. F. Tn. B. om. translated (!); perhaps read translat; but see l. 425. 330. F. ayeins. 331. F. folke. 332. F. Creseyde; A. Criseide. F. seyde; the. 335. F. the. 336. T. A. that; rest om. 340. Tn. wel; F. wele. 341. F. Thoo spake. 342. F. youre. 343. A. herknen; C. herkenyn; rest herken. 348. F. alle. 349. F. Thanne myght; shalle. 350. F. mane (!). 351. C. There; rest That. F. oughte ben. 352. F. youre courte. 353. C. Tn. queynte; F. queynt. 354. F. youre; swon (!), for sown. 356. F. youre. 357. F. Thise. 358. F. B. lauendere. 360. C. hous; F. house. 362. F. eke parauntere. 363. F. myght. 364. F. B. (only) om. But. 367. Tn. som; F. somme. 368. T. vttyrly; A. vtirly; F. Tn. outrely. 371. F. Tn. B. P. And; rest As. 372. F. Despite. 373. F. shoolde. 374. F. lyke tirauntez. 376. F. kynge. F. lord ys in; rest om. in. 377. F. oght; C. oughte. F. crewel; B. cruel. 378. F. harme. 379. F. leege; C. Tn. lige; Th. T. A. B. liege. 382. F. leeges; Tn. liges; C. lygis. 384. F. hise. Th. P. in her; rest om. in. 387. F. -goddys. 388. F. mote; T. A. Add. om. bothe; poore. 389. F. hire estaat. 390. F. poore. 391. F. loo; kynde. T. A. leoun; F. lyoun. 392. F. offendith. 393. F. tayle. F. fle; C. Tn. A. B. P. flye. 394. F. esely; A. esily. C. A. genterye; F. gentrye. 396. F. dooth; best. 397. C. oghte; F. ought. F. ben arest. 399. F. Tn. Th. B. vnto; rest to. 401. C. P. or; rest of. 402. C. wol; T. ryght; rest ful. F. foule. 403. C. T. A. if; rest it. 404. C. om. But. 405. F. profereth; P. profreth. 406. F. owen; C. Tn. owene; T. oune. 407. F. oght. 409. F. dethe lyeth; caas. 410. All but T. wrongly insert to before been. 412. F. kunnyng. 413. F. furthred; Tn. forthred. F. youre. 415. C. makid; rest made (line too short). 425. F. proce; rest prose. 426. F. maade; lyfe. 427. A. sithen; rest is. F. grete. 429. F. oughte. 430. F. maade; thinge. 431. F. be; C. A. ben. 435. A. sueren; rest swere to (less happily). C. T. A. as; which the rest omit. 436. C. T. A. no; rest neuer. 437. C. T. A. he; rest om. F. wol. 438. F. lyfe (but see l. 434). 439. F. wol; wyfe. 442. C. F. answerede; Th. answerde (better). F. (only) om. thus. 444. C. knew; F. knewe. 445. C. sith; F. syn. F. worlde. 446. C. T. A. fond; F. founde. 447. F. ye; rest I. F. wolde; P. Add. wolde; rest wol, wole, wolle. 449. C. Th. lyth; Tn. lith; F. lyeth. F. liste. 451. F. yifte; dooth. 454. P. her; rest here. 455. F. dovne. 457. C. Tn. T. A. Add. ye; rest om. 459. F. Tn. Th. B. P. all om. yeve me (wrongly); C. T. A. retain it. 461. C. holpyn; Th. holpen; rest holpe. C. F. Tn. needlessly insert me after put. C. swich (for this). 462. C. trewely; F. trewly. 466. F. oght. All wrongly omit final e in oght; and all but C. wrongly insert to before blame. 467. F. spake; Tn. spede; rest speke. 473. F. ben; C. be. 477. C. this at (for that of). 478. F. holde; all the. 480. C. A. and; rest om. T. to put the out of were (for and—here). 481. F. while; yere by yere. 482. F. most partye. C. lyf (for tyme). 484. C. goode; F. good. F. wymmen; Tn. A. wommen; C. T. wemen. 485. F. trew. C. leuynge (error for lonynge). 486. C. false; F. fals. 487. From C.; F. Tn. omit this line. 488. F. women; Tn. wommen. C. Tn. A. B. P. they; F. that. 489. F. youre worlde. 490. F. the; lovere bee. 491. C. Spek; F. Speke. 493. F. servantez; Tn. seruauntz. 495. F. Goo. C. thyn (for this). 496. F. maade. 497. F. Sheene; Tn. T. Th. Shene. 502, 503. F. omits from sorer to renneth. C. sorere; T. A. sorer; rest sore. C. Tn. Th. smerte. C. pete rennyth; Tn. A. pitee renneth. F. soone. 505. C. answerde; F. answered. C. sere; F. sire; Tn. sir. 506. F. Tn. B. Na; rest No. F. moore. 508. C. T. A. that; rest om. 511. C. Tn. grete; F. gret. 512. C. Tn. dayesye; F. daysye. 514. F. eke. 516. F. agayne. 518. F. hire. 519. C. dayes eye; F. daysie. F. owene. 520. F. weel. 521. C. bothe; F. both. F. aftir hir deth. C. ek (for in). 524. C. dayesye; F. daysye. 526. F. hire goodenesse. 527, 529. C. coroun; F. corowne. 527. F. berith. 528. C. hath (badly). 529. F. Th. florouns; rest floures. 530. F. honoure. 531. In margin of F.—Cibella mater deorum. F. maade; daysye; floure. 532. C. I-coroned; F. Y-crowned. F. white. 533. C. corone; F. corowne. F. reede. 534. C. set; F. sette. 537. F. Thanne. C. gret; F. grete. F. necligence. 538. F. ys (wrongly); rest hit, it. 540. Th. forgete; F. Tn. forgate; T. A. forgat. F. songe. 542. T. A. Add. so; rest om. F. shee. 543. F. bee. 544. C. taughte; F. taught. F. crafte; Tn. T. A. craft. 545. F. wyfhode; lyvyng. 546. F. al; oght. 547. F. witte. 548. F. the. C. lyf; F. lyfe. 549. F. legende. C. wif; F. wyfe. 550. F. y-maade. 551. C. no more; F. namore. 552. F. goo; the. 555. F. Th. my; rest thy. 556. F. bookes. 557. F. misplaces now after legende; Tn. Th. place now after hem. 558. F. ben; knowyng. 559. F. here; thousande moo sittyng. 560. F. Thanne. A. that ben; T. Add. and; rest om. 561. Tn. aught; F. oght. 562. F. lest; Tn. leste. 563. F. home. F. west; Tn. weste. 564. F. thise; rest this. 565. F. fressh; Th. fresshe; A. fresche. 566. F. wole. 567. F. forthe. C. Tn. shalt; F. shal. 569. F. stronge. 571. F. Tn. A. swich; T. Th. P. suche. F. Tn. dide; T. dedyn; P. deden; Add. diden. 573. B. Suffyceth; F. Suffich (!). 574. A. lyf; F. lyfe. 575. A. listen trete; Tn. the lasse to trete (!); Add. the lesse to trete (!); rest listen for to trete (badly; omit for). 576. F. storye. 578. A. word; F. worde. 579. F. legende.



Incipit Legenda Cleopatrie, Martiris, Egipti regine.


After the deeth of Tholomee the king,

That al Egipte hadde in his governing,

Regned his quene Cleopataras;

Til on a tyme befel ther swiche a cas,

That out of Rome was sent a senatour,


For to conqueren regnes and honour

Unto the toun of Rome, as was usaunce,

To have the world unto her obeisaunce;

And, sooth to seye, Antonius was his name.


So fil hit, as Fortune him oghte a shame


Whan he was fallen in prosperitee,

Rebel unto the toun of Rome is he.

And over al this, the suster of Cesar,

He lafte hir falsly, er that she was war,

And wolde algates han another wyf;


For whiche he took with Rome and Cesar stryf.

Natheles, for-sooth, this ilke senatour

Was a ful worthy gentil werreyour,

And of his deeth hit was ful greet damage.


But love had broght this man in swiche a rage,


And him so narwe bounden in his las,

Al for the love of Cleopataras,

{107}That al the world he sette at no value.

Him thoughte, nas to him no thing so due

As Cleopatras for to love and serve;


Him roghte nat in armes for to sterve

In the defence of hir, and of hir right.

This noble quene eek lovede so this knight,

Through his desert, and for his chivalrye;


As certeinly, but-if that bokes lye,


He was, of persone and of gentilesse,

And of discrecioun and hardinesse,

Worthy to any wight that liven may.

And she was fair as is the rose in May.

And, for to maken shortly is the beste,


She wex his wyf, and hadde him as hir leste.

The wedding and the feste to devyse,

To me, that have y-take swiche empryse

Of so many a storie for to make,


Hit were to long, lest that I sholde slake


Of thing that bereth more effect and charge;

For men may overlade a ship or barge;

And forthy to theffect than wol I skippe,

And al the remenant, I wol lete hit slippe.

Octovian, that wood was of this dede,


Shoop him an ost on Antony to lede

Al-outerly for his destruccioun,

With stoute Romains, cruel as leoun;

To ship they wente, and thus I let hem saile.


Antonius was war, and wol nat faile


To meten with thise Romains, if he may;

Took eek his reed, and bothe, upon a day,

{108}His wyf and he, and al his ost, forth wente

To shippe anoon, no lenger they ne stente;

And in the see hit happed hem to mete


Up goth the trompe—and for to shoute and shete,

And peynen hem to sette on with the sonne.

With grisly soun out goth the grete gonne,

And heterly they hurtlen al at ones,


And fro the top doun cometh the grete stones.


In goth the grapenel so ful of crokes

Among the ropes, and the shering-hokes.

In with the polax presseth he and he;

Behind the mast beginneth he to flee,

And out agayn, and dryveth him over-borde;


He stingeth him upon his speres orde;

He rent the sail with hokes lyke a sythe;

He bringeth the cuppe, and biddeth hem be blythe;

He poureth pesen upon the hacches slider;


With pottes ful of lym they goon to-gider;


And thus the longe day in fight they spende

Til, at the laste, as every thing hath ende,

Antony is shent, and put him to the flighte,

And al his folk to-go, that best go mighte.

Fleeth eek the queen, with al her purpre sail,


For strokes, which that wente as thikke as hail;

No wonder was, she mighte hit nat endure.

And whan that Antony saw that aventure,

'Allas!' quod he, 'the day that I was born!


My worshipe in this day thus have I lorn!'


And for dispeyr out of his witte he sterte,

And roof him-self anoon through-out the herte

Er that he ferther wente out of the place.

His wyf, that coude of Cesar have no grace,

{109}To Egipte is fled, for drede and for distresse;


But herkneth, ye that speke of kindenesse.

Ye men, that falsly sweren many an ooth

That ye wol dye, if that your love be wrooth,

Heer may ye seen of women whiche a trouthe!


This woful Cleopatre hath mad swich routhe


That ther nis tonge noon that may hit telle.

But on the morwe she wol no lenger dwelle,

But made hir subtil werkmen make a shryne

Of alle the rubies and the stones fyne

In al Egipte that she coude espye;


And putte ful the shryne of spycerye,

And leet the cors embaume; and forth she fette

This dede cors, and in the shryne hit shette.

And next the shryne a pit than doth she grave;


And alle the serpents that she mighte have,


She putte hem in that grave, and thus she seyde:

'Now love, to whom my sorweful herte obeyde

So ferforthly that, fro that blisful houre

That I yow swor to been al frely youre,

I mene yow, Antonius my knight!


That never waking, in the day or night,

Ye nere out of myn hertes remembraunce

For wele or wo, for carole or for daunce;

And in my-self this covenant made I tho,


That, right swich as ye felten, wele or wo,


As ferforth as hit in my power lay,

Unreprovable unto my wyfhood ay,

The same wolde I felen, lyf or deeth.

And thilke covenant, whyl me lasteth breeth,

I wol fulfille, and that shal wel be sene;


Was never unto hir love a trewer quene.'

{110}And with that word, naked, with ful good herte,

Among the serpents in the pit she sterte,

And ther she chees to han hir buryinge.


Anoon the neddres gonne hir for to stinge,


And she hir deeth receyveth, with good chere,

For love of Antony, that was hir so dere:—

And this is storial sooth, hit is no fable.

Now, er I finde a man thus trewe and stable,

And wol for love his deeth so freely take,


I pray god lat our hedes never ake!

Explicit Legenda Cleopatrie, martiris.

[Go to Legend of Thisbe]

N.B.—Readings not marked with any letter are from F. (Fairfax MS.)

580. deth. 582. queene. 583. swich. 586. tovne. 587. worlde. C. vn-to; T. vnder; rest at. 589. oght. 591. tovne. 594. wold. 595. which. 597. fulle. 598. F. (only) this; rest his. gret. 599. swich. 600. laas. 601. F. Alle; C. Tn. Al. 602. worlde; noo. 603. C. there nas to hym no thyng so dewe; rest there was no thing to him so due (all too long). 604. F. Tn. B. Cleopataras; rest Cleopatras. 607. ek. C. lovede; F. loved. 608. Thurgh; decert. 609. bookes. 611. All but T. A. Add. insert of after and; I omit it. 612. C. lyuyn; F. leven. 613. faire. 614. F. (only) om. for. 615. MSS. wax, wox; read wex. 616. C. Tn. feste; F. fest. 617. swich. 619. T. A. P. Add. long; rest longe. C. T. A. lest; F. lyst. 621. shippe. 622. A. Add. theffect; C. thefeect (sic); F. effect. 623. remenaunt. 624. woode. 625. oost. 627. Romaynes crewel. T. leoun; F. lyoun. 628. shippe. 630. Romaynes. 631. eke; rede; booth. 632. oost forthe went (C. wentyn). 633. stent; C. stente. 635. gooth. 637. sovne; gooth. 638. C. Tn. heterly; A. hatirly; F. hertely. hurtelen; attones. 639. dovne. 640. gooth. 641. C. Among; F. Amonge. 642. preseth. 643. By-hynde; maste begyneth. 646. sayle. 647. F. A. Add. him; rest hem. 648. slidre. 649. to-gedre. 651. C. Tn. laste; F. last. 652. flyght. 653. folke to-goo; goo myght. 654. ek; queene; sayle. 655. went; thik; hayle. 656. myght. 657. C. saw; F. saugh. 658. borne. 659. worshippe; lorne. 660. dispeyre. 661. thurgh-. 662. went. 665. herkeneth. T. speke; rest speken. 666. C. Tn. oth; F. oothe. 667. C. Tn. wroth; F. wroothe. 668. which. 669. C. Tn. Cleopatre; F. Cleopatrie. made. 671. C. morwe; F. morowe. 672. werknen (!). 673. Tn. rubies; F. rubees. 675. C. Tn. putte; F. put. 676. Tn. leet; C. F. let. C. cors; F. corps (and in l. 677). 678. C. pet; Tn. pyt; F. pitte. dooth. 679. C. alle; F. al. C. myghte; F. myght. 680. C. Tn. putte; F. put. sayde. 682. ferforthely. 683. ben. 687. woo. 688. couenaunt; thoo. 689. T. A. Th. wele; C. F. Tn. wel. 690. C. power; F. powere. 692. life; deethe. 693. couenaunt while. 694. seene. 696. C. word; F. worde. 700. C. receyuyth; F. receveth. 704. F. (only) wolde. 705. oure; neuere. F. take (!); rest ake.


Incipit Legenda Tesbe Babilonie, Martiris.

At Babiloine whylom fil it thus,

The whiche toun the queen Semiramus

Leet dichen al about, and walles make

Ful hye, of harde tyles wel y-bake.


Ther weren dwellinge in this noble toun

Two lordes, which that were of greet renoun,

And woneden so nigh, upon a grene,

That ther nas but a stoon-wal hem bitwene,

As ofte in grete tounes is the wone.


And sooth to seyn, that o man hadde a sone,


Of al that londe oon of the lustieste.

That other hadde a doghter, the faireste,

That estward in the world was tho dwellinge.

The name of everich gan to other springe


By wommen, that were neighebores aboute.

For in that contree yit, withouten doute,

{111}Maidens been y-kept, for Ielosye,

Ful streite, lest they diden som folye.

This yonge man was cleped Piramus,


And Tisbe hight the maid, Naso seith thus;


And thus by report was hir name y-shove

That, as they wexe in age, wex hir love;

And certein, as by reson of hir age,

Ther mighte have been bitwix hem mariage,


But that hir fadres nolde hit nat assente;

And bothe in love y-lyke sore they brente,

That noon of alle hir frendes mighte hit lette

But prively somtyme yit they mette

By sleighte, and speken som of hir desyr;


As, wry the gleed, and hotter is the fyr;


Forbede a love, and it is ten so wood.

This wal, which that bitwix hem bothe stood,

Was cloven a-two, right fro the toppe adoun,

Of olde tyme of his fundacioun;


But yit this clifte was so narwe and lyte,

It as nat sene, dere y-nogh a myte.

But what is that, that love can nat espye?

Ye lovers two, if that I shal nat lye,

Ye founden first this litel narwe clifte;


And, with a soun as softe as any shrifte,


They lete hir wordes through the clifte pace,

And tolden, whyl that they stode in the place,

Al hir compleynt of love, and al hir wo,

At every tyme whan they dorste so.


{112}Upon that o syde of the wal stood he,

And on that other syde stood Tisbe,

The swote soun of other to receyve,

And thus hir wardeins wolde they deceyve.

And every day this wal they wolde threte,


And wisshe to god, that it were doun y-bete.


Thus wolde they seyn—'allas! thou wikked wal,

Through thyn envye thou us lettest al!

Why nilt thou cleve, or fallen al a-two?

Or, at the leste, but thou woldest so,


Yit woldestow but ones lete us mete,

Or ones that we mighte kissen swete,

Than were we covered of our cares colde.

But natheles, yit be we to thee holde

In as muche as thou suffrest for to goon


Our wordes through thy lyme and eek thy stoon.


Yit oghte we with thee ben wel apayd.'

And whan thise ydel wordes weren sayd,

The colde wal they wolden kisse of stoon,

And take hir leve, and forth they wolden goon.


And this was gladly in the even-tyde

Or wonder erly, lest men hit espyde;

And longe tyme they wroghte in this manere

Til on a day, whan Phebus gan to clere,

Aurora with the stremes of hir hete


Had dryed up the dew of herbes wete;


Unto this clifte, as it was wont to be,

Com Pyramus, and after com Tisbe,

And plighten trouthe fully in hir fey

That ilke same night to stele awey,


{113}And to begyle hir wardeins everichoon,

And forth out of the citee for to goon;

And, for the feldes been so brode and wyde,

For to mete in o place at o tyde,

They sette mark hir meting sholde be


Ther king Ninus was graven, under a tree;


For olde payens that ydoles heried

Useden tho in feldes to ben beried

And faste by this grave was a welle.

And, shortly of this tale for to telle,


This covenant was affermed wonder faste;

And longe hem thoughte that the sonne laste,

That hit nere goon under the see adoun.

This Tisbe hath so greet affeccioun

And so greet lyking Piramus to see,


That, whan she seigh her tyme mighte be,


At night she stal awey ful prively

With her face y-wimpled subtilly;

For alle her frendes—for to save her trouthe—

She hath for-sake; allas! and that is routhe


That ever woman wolde be so trewe

To trusten man, but she the bet him knewe!

And to the tree she goth a ful good pas,

For love made her so hardy in this cas;

And by the welle adoun she gan her dresse.


Allas! than comth a wilde leonesse


Out of the wode, withouten more areste,

With blody mouthe, of strangling of a beste,

To drinken of the welle, ther as she sat;

And, whan that Tisbe had espyed that,


She rist her up, with a ful drery herte,

And in a cave with dredful foot she sterte,

{114}For by the mone she seigh hit wel with-alle.

And, as she ran, her wimpel leet she falle,

And took noon heed, so sore she was a-whaped.


And eek so glad of that she was escaped;


And thus she sit, and darketh wonder stille.

Whan that this leonesse hath dronke her fille,

Aboute the welle gan she for to winde,

And right anoon the wimpel gan she finde,


And with her blody mouth hit al to-rente.

Whan this was doon, no lenger she ne stente,

But to the wode her wey than hath she nome.

And, at the laste, this Piramus is come,

But al to longe, allas! at hoom was he.


The mone shoon, men mighte wel y-see,


And in his weye, as that he com ful faste,

His eyen to the grounde adoun he caste,

And in the sonde, as he beheld adoun,

He seigh the steppes brode of a leoun,


And in his herte he sodeinly agroos,

And pale he wex, therwith his heer aroos,

And neer he com, and fond the wimpel torn.

'Allas!' quod he, 'the day that I was born!

This o night wol us lovers bothe slee!


How sholde I axen mercy of Tisbe


Whan I am he that have yow slain, allas!

My bidding hath yow slain, as in this cas.

Allas! to bidde a woman goon by nighte

In place ther as peril fallen mighte,


And I so slow! allas, I ne hadde be

Here in this place a furlong-wey or ye!

Now what leoun that be in this foreste,

My body mote he renden, or what beste

{115}That wilde is, gnawen mote he now myn herte!'


And with that worde he to the wimpel sterte,


And kiste hit ofte, and weep on hit ful sore,

And seide, 'wimpel, allas! ther nis no more

But thou shalt fele as wel the blood of me

As thou hast felt the bleding of Tisbe!'


And with that worde he smoot him to the herte.

The blood out of the wounde as brode sterte

As water, whan the conduit broken is.

Now Tisbe, which that wiste nat of this,

But sitting in her drede, she thoghte thus,


'If hit so falle that my Piramus


Be comen hider, and may me nat y-finde,

He may me holden fals and eek unkinde.'

And out she comth, and after him gan espyen

Bothe with her herte and with her yën,


And thoghte, 'I wol him tellen of my drede

Bothe of the leonesse and al my dede.'

And at the laste her love than hath she founde

Beting with his heles on the grounde,

Al blody, and therwith-al a-bak she sterte,


And lyke the wawes quappe gan her herte,


And pale as box she wex, and in a throwe

Avysed her, and gan him wel to knowe,

That hit was Piramus, her herte dere.

Who coude wryte whiche a deedly chere


Hath Tisbe now, and how her heer she rente,

And how she gan her-selve to turmente,

And how she lyth and swowneth on the grounde,

And how she weep of teres ful his wounde,

{116}How medeleth she his blood with her compleynte,


And with his blood her-selven gan she peynte;


How clippeth she the dede cors, allas?

How doth this woful Tisbe in this cas!

How kisseth she his frosty mouth so cold!

'Who hath doon this, and who hath been so bold


To sleen my leef? O spek, my Piramus!

I am thy Tisbe, that thee calleth thus!'

And therwith-al she lifteth up his heed.

This woful man, that was nat fully deed,

Whan that he herde the name of Tisbe cryen,


On her he caste his hevy deedly yën


And doun again, and yeldeth up the gost.

Tisbe rist up, withouten noise or bost,

And seigh her wimpel and his empty shethe,

And eek his swerd, that him hath doon to dethe;


Than spak she thus: 'My woful hand,' quod she,

'Is strong y-nogh in swiche a werk to me;

For love shal yive me strengthe and hardinesse

To make my wounde large y-nogh, I gesse.

I wol thee folwen deed, and I wol be


Felawe and cause eek of thy deeth,' quod she.


'And thogh that nothing save the deeth only

Mighte thee fro me departe trewely,

Thou shalt no more departe now fro me

Than fro the deeth, for I wol go with thee!


'And now, ye wrecched Ielous fadres oure,

We, that weren whylom children youre,

We prayen yow, withouten more envye,

That in o grave y-fere we moten lye,

{117}Sin love hath brought us to this pitous ende!


And rightwis god to every lover sende,


That loveth trewely, more prosperitee

Than ever hadde Piramus and Tisbe!

And lat no gentil woman her assure

To putten her in swiche an aventure.


But god forbede but a woman can

Been as trewe and loving as a man!

And, for my part, I shal anoon it kythe!'

And, with that worde, his swerd she took as swythe,

That warm was of her loves blood and hoot,


And to the herte she her-selven smoot.


And thus ar Tisbe and Piramus ago.

Of trewe men I finde but fewe mo

In alle my bokes, save this Piramus,

And therfor have I spoken of him thus.


For hit is deyntee to us men to finde

A man that can in love be trewe and kinde.

Heer may ye seen, what lover so he be,

A woman dar and can as wel as he.

Explicit legenda Tesbe.

[Go to Legend of Dido]

707. tovne; queene. 710. tovne. 711. grete. 712. C. nygh; F. neigh. 714. grette. 715. C. hadde; F. had (so in l. 717). 716. C. Tn. Th. of; rest om. 717. Tn. doghter; F. doghtre. 718. esteward; worlde. 719. eueryche. 722. C. been; F. ben. 723. Tn. som; C. sum; F. somme. 724. C. Tn. yonge; F. yong. 725. All but C. om. And. Tn. A. Tisbe; C. Th. Tysbe; F. B. Tesbe; T. Thesbe. maide. 726. C. report; F. reporte. 727. C. wex, wex; F. T. wex, wax; Tn. wox, wax; B. wox, wox. 729. C. Tn. bitwixe; F. betwex. 730. nold. 731. booth; soore. 733. Tn. priuely; F. preuely. 734. C. sleyghte; F. sleight. A. speken; Tn. T. Th. spaken; F. C. spoken. Tn. som; F. somme. C. desyr; F. desire. 735. C. wry; F. Tn. wre. glede. C. fyr; F. fire. 736. woode. 737. bitwixe; stoode. 738. a-twoo; adovne. 740. C. clyfte; F. clyft. 741. C. A. nas; rest was. C. sene; F. seene. deere. 743. twoo. 745. C. soun; F. sovne. 746. leete. 747. while. C. stode; F. stoden. 748. woo. 749. soo. 750. F. the; rest that. wale. 751. Tesbe. 752. swoote sovne. 754. C. wal; F. walle. threete. 755. dovne. C. Tn. I-bete; F. y-bette. 756. C. Tn. wal; F. walle. 757. Thurgh. C. Tn. al; F. alle. 758. C. nylt thou; F. nyltow. 759. A. Th. B. leste; C. laste; F. leest. 760. let; meete. 761. oones; myght; sweete. 762. oure. 763. the. 765. Tn. Our; F. Or (!). thurgh; ek. 766. C. oughte; F. oght. the; apayede. 767. sayde. 768. walle. C. kysse; F. kyssen. 769. foorth. 770. F. Alle; rest And. T. A. euyn-tyde; Th. euentyde; C. F. Tn. B. euetyde. 771. espyede. 772. C. wroughte; F. wroght. 775. dewe. 777. F. Come; Tn. Com (twice). Tesbe. 778. C. fey; F. faye. 779. steele awaye (C. awey). 780. euerychone. 781. gone. 782. feeldes; broode. 783. meete. 786. C. Idolys; F. ydoyles. F. heriode (!). 787. thoo; feeldes; beriede. 788. C. Tn. faste; F. fast. 790. couenaunt. 792. F. (only) om. goon. 793. F. Tn. B. om. hath; greete. 794. F. Had (!); rest And. grete lykynge. 795. C. myghte; F. myght. 796. stale. A. priuely; F. prevely. 802. gooth; goode paas. 803. caas. 804. a-downe. 805. Tn. comth; F. comith. 806. woode. 807. strangelynge. 812. moone; saugh. 813. ranne. 814. tooke; hede; soore. 815. eke. T. of; rest om. 816. C. sit; F. sytte 817. T. leones; F. lyonesse. 821. don. 822. woode. 824. home. 825. moone shoone; well. 826. C. weye; F. wey. C. com; F. come. 827. Hise eighen; adovne. 828. behelde a-dovne. 829. broode. T. leoun; F. lyoune. 832. Tn. neer; C. ner; F. nere. C. Tn. com; F. come. C. fond; F. founde. C. torn; F. torne. 833. C. born; F. borne. 834. oo; wole; boothe. 836. slayne. 837. C. as; rest om. 839. F. a; rest as. 840. slowe. 841. yee. 843. F. T. B. om. he. All renten (rente, rent) wrongly; read renden. 846. From C. (which has wep for weep); F. om. this line. 848. feele; blode. 849. bledynge; Tesbe. 852. Tn. Th. conduyt; F. conduyte; C. A. condit. 853. C. wiste nat of this; F. wyst nat this. 854. C. thoughte; F. thought. 855. F. B. om. hit. 856. C. I-fynde; F. fynde. 857. ek. 858. comith. 859. hert; eighen. 861. Booth. Tn. leonesse; F. lyonesse. 863. Tn. Betyng; F. Betynge. helis. 866. F. Th. boxe; rest box. T. wexed (for wex); A. wox; Th. B. woxe; C. F. Tn. P. was (error for wax). F. B. om. and. 868. C. herte; F. hert. 869. dedely. 870. Tesbe; heere. 873. Tn. weep; C. wep; F. wepe. 876. C. Tn. cors; F. corps. 877. dooth; Tesbe. 878. mouthe; colde. 879. ben; bolde. 880. leefe. C. Tn. spek; rest speke (wrongly). F. Tn. Th. B. om. my. 881. Tesbe. 884. C. Th. herde; rest herd. Tesbe. 885. dedely. Tn. B. P. yen; F. eyn; rest eyen. 886. dovne; gooste. 887. vpp; booste. 888. saugh. 889. eke; swerde. 890. C. spak; F. spake. C. myn (for my); rest thy (!). hande. 891. werke. 892. F. (only) puts me before give. 894. wole; folowen deede. 895. eke. 897. the; trewly. 898. F. shal; C. schat (!); rest shalt. C. A. Th. departe now; Tn. departe trewlie; F. T. B. now departe. 899. deth; goo. 900. F. Ielouse; C. gelos. 901. whilome. 903. oo. T. I-fere; which the rest omit (!). 904. C. T. A. brought vs to; F. vs broght (!). pitouse. 906. moore. 907. C. euere ȝit hade; T. euer had yet; rest omit ȝit (yet). 908. noo gentile. 909. puten. 911. Ben. 912. parte. 913. swerde. 914. warme; hoote. 915. smoote (!). 916. Tn. T. ar; F. are; C. A. is. C. I-go; rest a-goo (a go). 917. moo. 918. bookes. 919. therfore.


Incipit Legenda Didonis martiris, Cartaginis regine.

Glory and honour, Virgil Mantuan,


Be to thy name! and I shal, as I can,

Folow thy lantern, as thou gost biforn,

How Eneas to Dido was forsworn.

{118}In thyn Eneïd and Naso wol I take

The tenour, and the grete effectes make.


Whan Troye broght was to destruccioun

By Grekes sleighte, and namely by Sinoun,

Feyning the hors y-offred to Minerve,


Through which that many a Troyan moste sterve;

And Ector had, after his deeth, appered,


And fyr so wood, it mighte nat be stered,

In al the noble tour of Ilioun,

That of the citee was the cheef dungeoun;

And al the contree was so lowe y-broght,

And Priamus the king fordoon and noght;


And Eneas was charged by Venus

To fleen awey, he took Ascanius,

That was his sone, in his right hand, and fledde;


And on his bakke he bar and with him ledde

His olde fader, cleped Anchises,


And by the weye his wyf Creusa he lees.

And mochel sorwe hadde he in his minde

Er that he coude his felawshippe finde.

But, at the laste, whan he had hem founde,

He made him redy in a certein stounde,


And to the see ful faste he gan him hye,

And saileth forth with al his companye

Toward Itaile, as wolde destinee.


But of his aventures in the see

Nis nat to purpos for to speke of here,


For hit acordeth nat to my matere.

But, as I seide, of him and of Dido

Shal be my tale, til that I have do.

So longe he sailed in the salte see

Til in Libye unnethe aryved he,


With shippes seven and with no more navye;

And glad was he to londe for to hye,

So was he with the tempest al to-shake.


And whan that he the haven had y-take,

{119}He had a knight, was called Achates;


And him of al his felawshippe he chees

To goon with him, the contre for tespye;

He took with him no more companye.

But forth they goon, and lafte his shippes ryde,

His fere and he, with-outen any gyde.


So longe he walketh in this wildernesse

Til, at the laste, he mette an hunteresse.

A bowe in honde and arwes hadde she,


Her clothes cutted were unto the knee;

But she was yit the fairest creature


That ever was y-formed by nature;

And Eneas and Achates she grette,

And thus she to hem spak, whan she hem mette.

'Sawe ye,' quod she, 'as ye han walked wyde,

Any of my sustren walke yow besyde,


With any wilde boor or other beste

That they han hunted to, in this foreste,

Y-tukked up, with arwes in her cas?'


'Nay, soothly, lady,' quod this Eneas;

'But, by thy beaute, as hit thinketh me,


Thou mightest never erthely womman be,

But Phebus suster artow, as I gesse.

And, if so be that thou be a goddesse,

Have mercy on our labour and our wo.'

'I nam no goddes, soothly,' quod she tho;


'For maidens walken in this contree here,

With arwes and with bowe, in this manere.

This is the regne of Libie, ther ye been,


Of which that Dido lady is and queen'—

And shortly tolde him al the occasioun


Why Dido com into that regioun,

Of which as now me lusteth nat to ryme;

Hit nedeth nat; hit nere but los of tyme.

{120}For this is al and som, it was Venus,

His owne moder, that spak with him thus;


And to Cartage she bad he sholde him dighte,

And vanished anoon out of his sighte.

I coude folwe, word for word, Virgyle,


But it wolde lasten al to longe a whyle.

This noble queen, that cleped was Dido,


That whylom was the wyf of Sitheo,

That fairer was then is the brighte sonne,

This noble toun of Cartage hath begonne;

In which she regneth in so greet honour,

That she was holde of alle quenes flour,


Of gentilesse, of freedom, of beautee;

That wel was him that mighte her ones see;

Of kinges and of lordes so desyred,


That al the world her beaute hadde y-fyred;

She stood so wel in every wightes grace.


Whan Eneas was come un-to that place,

Unto the maister-temple of al the toun

Ther Dido was in her devocioun,

Ful prively his wey than hath he nome.

Whan he was in the large temple come,


I can nat seyn if that hit be possible,

But Venus hadde him maked invisible—

Thus seith the book, with-outen any lees.


And whan this Eneas and Achates

Hadden in this temple been over-al,


Than founde they, depeynted on a wal,

How Troye and al the lond destroyed was.

'Allas! that I was born,' quod Eneas,

'Through-out the world our shame is kid so wyde,

Now it is peynted upon every syde!


We, that weren in prosperitee,

Be now disslaundred, and in swich degre,

No lenger for to liven I ne kepe!'


And, with that worde, he brast out for to wepe

{121}So tendrely, that routhe hit was to sene.


This fresshe lady, of the citee quene,

Stood in the temple, in her estat royal,

So richely, and eek so fair with-al,

So yong, so lusty, with her eyen glade,

That, if that god, that heven and erthe made,


Wolde han a love, for beaute and goodnesse,

And womanhod, and trouthe, and seemlinesse,

Whom sholde he loven but this lady swete?


There nis no womman to him half so mete.

Fortune, that hath the world in governaunce,


Hath sodeinly broght in so newe a chaunce,

That never was ther yit so fremd a cas.

For al the companye of Eneas,

Which that he wende han loren in the see,

Aryved is, nat fer fro that citee;


For which, the grettest of his lordes some

By aventure ben to the citee come,

Unto that same temple, for to seke


The quene, and of her socour her beseke;

Swich renoun was ther spronge of her goodnesse.


And, whan they hadden told al hir distresse,

And al hir tempest and hir harde cas,

Unto the quene appered Eneas,

And openly beknew that hit was he.

Who hadde Ioye than but his meynee,


That hadden founde hir lord, hir governour?

The quene saw they dide him swich honour,

And had herd ofte of Eneas, er tho,


And in her herte she hadde routhe and wo

That ever swich a noble man as he


Shal been disherited in swich degree;

And saw the man, that he was lyk a knight,

And suffisaunt of persone and of might,

And lyk to been a veray gentil man;

And wel his wordes he besette can,


{122}And had a noble visage for the nones,

And formed wel of braunes and of bones.

For, after Venus, hadde he swich fairnesse,


That no man might be half so fair, I gesse.

And wel a lord he semed for to be.


And, for he was a straunger, somwhat she

Lyked him the bet, as, god do bote,

To som folk ofte newe thing is swote.

Anoon her herte hath pitee of his wo,

And, with that pitee, love com in also;


And thus, for pitee and for gentilesse,

Refresshed moste he been of his distresse.

She seide, certes, that she sory was


That he hath had swich peril and swich cas;

And, in her frendly speche, in this manere


She to him spak, and seide as ye may here.

'Be ye nat Venus sone and Anchises?

In good feith, al the worship and encrees

That I may goodly doon yow, ye shul have.

Your shippes and your meynee shal I save;'


And many a gentil word she spak him to;

And comaunded her messageres go

The same day, with-outen any faile,


His shippes for to seke, and hem vitaile.

She many a beste to the shippes sente,


And with the wyn she gan hem to presente;

And to her royal paleys she her spedde,

And Eneas alwey with her she ledde.

What nedeth yow the feste to descryve?

He never beter at ese was his lyve.


Ful was the feste of deyntees and richesse,

Of instruments, of song, and of gladnesse,

{123}And many an amorous loking and devys.


This Eneas is come to Paradys

Out of the swolow of helle, and thus in Ioye


Remembreth him of his estat in Troye.

To dauncing-chambres ful of parements,

Of riche beddes, and of ornaments,

This Eneas is lad, after the mete.

And with the quene whan that he had sete,


And spyces parted, and the wyn agoon,

Unto his chambres was he lad anoon

To take his ese and for to have his reste,


With al his folk, to doon what so hem leste.

Ther nas coursere wel y-brydled noon,


Ne stede, for the Iusting wel to goon,

Ne large palfrey, esy for the nones,

Ne Iuwel, fretted ful of riche stones,

Ne sakkes ful of gold, of large wighte,

Ne ruby noon, that shynede by nighte,


Ne gentil hautein faucon heronere,

Ne hound, for hert or wilde boor or dere,

Ne coupe of gold, with florins newe y-bete,


That in the lond of Libie may be gete,

That Dido ne hath hit Eneas y-sent;


And al is payed, what that he hath spent.

Thus can this [noble] quene her gestes calle,

As she that can in freedom passen alle.

Eneas sothly eek, with-outen lees,

Hath sent un-to his shippe, by Achates,


After his sone, and after riche thinges,

Both ceptre, clothes, broches, and eek ringes,

Som for to were, and som for to presente


To her, that all thise noble thinges him sente;

And bad his sone, how that he sholde make


The presenting, and to the quene hit take.

{124}Repaired is this Achates again,

And Eneas ful blisful is and fain

To seen his yonge sone Ascanius.

But natheles, our autour telleth us,


That Cupido, that is the god of love,

At preyere of his moder, hye above,

Hadde the lyknes of the child y-take,


This noble quene enamoured to make

On Eneas; but, as of that scripture,


Be as be may, I make of hit no cure.

But sooth is this, the quene hath mad swich chere

Un-to this child, that wonder is to here;

And of the present that his fader sente

She thanked him ful ofte, in good entente.


Thus is this quene in plesaunce and in Ioye,

With al this newe lusty folk of Troye.

And of the dedes hath she more enquered


Of Eneas, and al the story lered

Of Troye; and al the longe day they tweye


Entendeden to speken and to pleye;

Of which ther gan to breden swich a fyr,

That sely Dido hath now swich desyr

With Eneas, her newe gest, to dele,

That she hath lost her hewe, and eek her hele.


Now to theffect, now to the fruit of al,

Why I have told this story, and tellen shal.

Thus I beginne; hit fil, upon a night,


When that the mone up-reysed had her light,

This noble quene un-to her reste wente;


She syketh sore, and gan her-self turmente.

She waketh, walweth, maketh many a brayd,

As doon thise loveres, as I have herd sayd.

And at the laste, unto her suster Anne

She made her moon, and right thus spak she thanne.


{125}'Now, dere suster myn, what may hit be

That me agasteth in my dreme?' quod she.

'This ilke Troyan is so in my thoght,


For that me thinketh he is so wel y-wroght,

And eek so lykly for to be a man,


And therwithal so mikel good he can,

That al my love and lyf lyth in his cure.

Have ye not herd him telle his aventure?

Now certes, Anne, if that ye rede hit me,

I wolde fain to him y-wedded be;


This is theffect; what sholde I more seye?

In him lyth al, to do me live or deye.'

Her suster Anne, as she that coude her good,


Seide as her thoughte, and somdel hit with-stood.

But her-of was so long a sermoning,


Hit were to long to make rehersing;

But fynally, hit may not been with-stonde;

Love wol love—for no wight wol hit wonde.

The dawening up-rist out of the see;

This amorous quene chargeth her meynee


The nettes dresse, and speres brode and kene;

An hunting wol this lusty fresshe quene;

So priketh her this newe Ioly wo.


To hors is al her lusty folk y-go;

Un-to the court the houndes been y-broght,


And up-on coursers, swift as any thoght,

Her yonge knightes hoven al aboute,

And of her wommen eek an huge route.

Up-on a thikke palfrey, paper-whyt,

With sadel rede, enbrouded with delyt,


Of gold the barres up-enbossed hye,

Sit Dido, al in gold and perre wrye;

And she is fair, as is the brighte morwe,


That heleth seke folk of nightes sorwe.

{126}Up-on a courser, startling as the fyr,


Men mighte turne him with a litel wyr,

Sit Eneas, lyk Phebus to devyse;

So was he fresshe arayed in his wyse.

The fomy brydel with the bit of gold

Governeth he, right as him-self hath wold.


And forth this noble quene thus lat I ryde

An hunting, with this Troyan by her syde.

The herd of hertes founden is anoon,


With 'hey! go bet! prik thou! lat goon, lat goon!

Why nil the leoun comen or the bere,


That I mighte ones mete him with this spere?'

Thus seyn thise yonge folk, and up they kille

These hertes wilde, and han hem at hir wille.

Among al this to-romblen gan the heven,

The thunder rored with a grisly steven;


Doun com the rain, with hail and sleet so faste,

With hevenes fyr, that hit so sore agaste

This noble quene, and also her meynee,


That ech of hem was glad a-wey to flee.

And shortly, fro the tempest her to save,


She fledde her-self into a litel cave,

And with her wente this Eneas al-so;

I noot, with hem if ther wente any mo;

The autour maketh of hit no mencioun.

And heer began the depe affeccioun


Betwix hem two; this was the firste morwe

Of her gladnesse, and ginning of her sorwe.

For ther hath Eneas y-kneled so,


And told her al his herte, and al his wo,

And sworn so depe, to her to be trewe,


For wele or wo, and chaunge for no newe,

And as a fals lover so wel can pleyne,

That sely Dido rewed on his peyne,

{127}And took him for husband, [to been] his wyf

For ever-mo, whyl that hem laste lyf.


And after this, whan that the tempest stente,

With mirth out as they comen, hoom they wente.

The wikked fame up roos, and that anon,


How Eneas hath with the quene y-gon

In-to the cave; and demed as hem liste;


And whan the king, that Yarbas hight, hit wiste,

As he that had her loved ever his lyf,

And wowed her, to have her to his wyf,

Swich sorwe as he hath maked, and swich chere,

Hit is a routhe and pitee for to here.


But, as in love, al-day hit happeth so,

That oon shal laughen at anothers wo;

Now laugheth Eneas, and is in Ioye


And more richesse than ever he was in Troye.

O sely womman, ful of innocence,


Ful of pitee, of trouthe, and conscience,

What maked yow to men to trusten so?

Have ye swich routhe upon hir feined wo,

And han swich olde ensamples yow beforn?

See ye nat alle, how they been for-sworn?


Wher see ye oon, that he ne hath laft his leef,

Or been unkinde, or doon her som mischeef,

Or pilled her, or bosted of his dede?


Ye may as wel hit seen, as ye may rede;

Tak heed now of this grete gentil-man,


This Troyan, that so wel her plesen can,

That feineth him so trewe and obeising,

So gentil and so privy of his doing,

And can so wel doon alle his obeisaunces,

And waiten her at festes and at daunces,


{128}And when she goth to temple and hoom ageyn,

And fasten til he hath his lady seyn,

And bere in his devyses, for her sake,


Noot I nat what; and songes wolde he make,

Iusten, and doon of armes many thinges,


Sende her lettres, tokens, broches, ringes—

Now herkneth, how he shal his lady serve!

Ther-as he was in peril for to sterve

For hunger, and for mischeef in the see,

And desolat, and fled from his contree,


And al his folk with tempest al to-driven,

She hath her body and eek her reame yiven

In-to his hond, ther-as she mighte have been


Of other lond than of Cartage a queen,

And lived in Ioye y-nogh; what wolde ye more?


This Eneas, that hath so depe y-swore,

Is wery of his craft with-in a throwe;

The hote ernest is al over-blowe.

And prively he doth his shippes dighte,

And shapeth him to stele a-wey by nighte.


This Dido hath suspecioun of this,

And thoughte wel, that hit was al a-mis;

For in his bedde he lyth a-night and syketh;


She asketh him anoon, what him mislyketh—

'My dere herte, which that I love most?'


'Certes,' quod he, 'this night my fadres gost

Hath in my sleep so sore me tormented,

And eek Mercurie his message hath presented,

That nedes to the conquest of Itaile

My destinee is sone for to saile;


For which, me thinketh, brosten is myn herte!'

Ther-with his false teres out they sterte;

And taketh her with-in his armes two.


'Is that in ernest,' quod she; 'wil ye so?

Have ye nat sworn to wyve me to take,


Alas! what womman wil ye of me make?

{129}I am a gentil-woman and a queen,

Ye wil nat fro your wyf thus foule fleen?

That I was born! allas! what shal I do?'

To telle in short, this noble queen Dido,


She seketh halwes, and doth sacrifyse;

She kneleth, cryeth, that routhe is to devyse;

Coniureth him, and profreth him to be


His thral, his servant in the leste gree;

She falleth him to fote, and swowneth there


Dischevele, with her brighte gilte here,

And seith, 'have mercy! let me with yow ryde!

Thise lordes, which that wonen me besyde

Wil me destroyen only for your sake.

And, so ye wil me now to wyve take,


As ye han sworn, than wol I yive yow leve

To sleen me with your swerd now sone at eve!

For than yit shal I dyen as your wyf.


I am with childe, and yive my child his lyf.

Mercy, lord! have pite in your thoght!'


But al this thing availeth her right noght;

For on a night, slepinge, he let her lye,

And stal a-wey un-to his companye,

And, as a traitour, forth he gan to saile

Toward the large contree of Itaile.


Thus hath he laft Dido in wo and pyne;

And wedded ther a lady hight Lavyne.

A cloth he lafte, and eek his swerd stonding,


Whan he fro Dido stal in her sleping,

Right at her beddes heed, so gan he hye


Whan that he stal a-wey to his navye;

Which cloth, whan sely Dido gan awake,

She hath hit kist ful ofte for his sake;

{130}And seide, 'O cloth, whyl Iupiter hit leste,

Tak now my soule, unbind me of this unreste!


I have fulfild of fortune al the cours.'

And thus, allas! with-outen his socours,

Twenty tyme y-swowned hath she thanne.


And, whan that she un-to her suster Anne

Compleyned had, of which I may nat wryte—


So greet a routhe I have hit for tendyte—

And bad her norice and her suster goon

To fecchen fyr and other thing anoon,

And seide, that she wolde sacrifye.

And, whan she mighte her tyme wel espye,


Up-on the fyr of sacrifys she sterte,

And with his swerd she roof her to the herte.

But, as myn autour seith, right thus she seyde;


Or she was hurt, before that she deyde,

She wroot a lettre anoon, that thus began:—


'Right so,' quod she, 'as that the whyte swan

Ayeins his deeth beginneth for to singe,

Right so to yow make I my compleyninge.

Nat that I trowe to geten yow again,

For wel I woot that it is al in vain,


Sin that the goddes been contraire to me.

But sin my name is lost through yow,' quod she,

'I may wel lese a word on yow, or letter,


Al-be-it that I shal be never the better;

For thilke wind that blew your ship a-wey,


The same wind hath blowe a-wey your fey.'—

{131}But who wol al this letter have in minde,

Rede Ovide, and in him he shal hit finde.

Explicit Legenda Didonis martiris, Cartaginis regine.

[Go to Legend of Hypsipyle and Medea]

N.B. From this point onward obvious corrections in the spelling of MS. F. are unnoticed. 928. C. has—In Naso and Eneydos wele [for wol] I take. 932. C. I offerede to; rest offred unto. 950. C. wol (= wel); for ful. 960, 961. These two lines are in C. and P. only; all former editions omit them. 964. C. clepid; rest called. 966. Tn. Th. B. tespye; C. tespie; F. to spye; T. to spy; A. to aspye. 973. C. P. cutte; F. B. knytte; rest cutted (cuttyd, cuttit). 979. So all; Oon (for Any) would read better. 994. F. Tn. Th. B. om. him. 997. Tn. ner; F. Th. B. nere; rest were (wer). 1002. F. by; rest for. 1003. T. P. Addit. a; rest om. 1006. C. Addit. is; rest om. 1018. C. thus (for than). 1019. F. (only) om. large. 1024. P. F. the; rest this. 1028. F. Tn. A. B. om. so. 1046. T. Th. was ther yet; P. more was ther; Add. was their; A. ȝit was sene; rest was yit (or yit was). F. in (for a). 1048. C. A. P. he; rest we (!). 1063. C. she hadde; A. sche had eke; P. she hedd þo; T. Add. had she; B. had; F. and (!). 1066. F. (only) om. that he. 1072. F. Tn. Th. om. he. 1074. C. P. Add. he; rest him. 1079. F. Tn. Th. B. om. that and in. 1081. F. B. mote; P. wold; rest muste (must, moost, most); read moste. 1085. F. Tn. om. and. F. Tn. B. repeat in this manere; rest as ye may here. 1091. C. massangerys; B. messagerys; A. messingeris; F. Tn. messagers; after which all but F. and B. needlessly insert to, or for to. 1094. C. Sche; rest Ful (because they put beest, she for beste, as in C). 1107. C. T. Add. ornamentis; rest pavements (error for parements, caught from l. 1106). 1112. C. For his ese and for to take. 1115. C. to iuste (for the Iusting). 1117. C. T. Add. frettid; A. P. fretted; F. B. frette; Tn. Th. fret. 1119. F. B. rubee; rest ruby. C. shynede; Tn. P. shyned; F. T. A. Th. B. shyneth. 1126. For noble all have honourable, giving two syllables too many; see ll. 1143, 1210, 1222. 1129. A. vnto; C. on to; rest to. 1139. So C. P.; F. Tn. Th. B. For to him yt was reported thus (badly). 1143. C. holy; rest noble 1144. F. T. Th. B. om. as. 1149. F. Tn. Th. B. om. ful. 1155. All but C. P. needlessly put for to (for to) twice. 1159. C. T. A. P. Add. hath; rest om. 1160. C. now comyth the freut. 1163. F. Tn. vp-reyseth (error for vp-reysed). C. A. Th. P. hadde (had); F. Tn. B. hath. C. his; rest hire (hir, her); see note. 1169. P. mon (= A.S. mán); rest mone; read moon. 1171. C. slep; rest dreme. 1173. C. Me thynkith that he. 1174. C. T. P. Add. for; rest om. 1175. T. A. P. therwith al; Th. therwith; C. ek thereto; F. Tn. om. ther. 1178. C. rede it me; rest om. it. 1179. C. T. A. P. Add. wolde; F. Tn. wil; Th. wol. 1195. Add. coursers; C. B. courseris; F. Tn. Th. coursere. 1196. F. Tn. Th. heuen (!); rest houen (houyn). 1200, 1201. C. hye, wrye; F. heighe, wreighe. 1202. C. bright (for fair). 1203. A. B. P. folk; F. Tn. T. Th. folkes; C. men. 1210. F. om. noble. T. thus lat; Addit. thus late; rest this lady (!!). 1211. T. Add. An; A. In; rest On; see l. 1191. 1215. T. A. P. ones mete him; rest him ones mete. 1217. C. T. A. Add. These; rest The. C. bestys wilde; T. A. P. wild bestys; rest wilde hertes; but read hertes wilde. 1221. C. A. it; F. Tn. B. P. is (!). 1238. I propose to read to been; all have and becom (became), which cannot possibly be scanned. 1239. C. Tn. -mo; F. -mor. 1242. C. wikke fame a-ros. 1247. F. Tn. Th. B. om. 2nd her. 1251. C. of; rest at. 1253. T. A. Add. he; rest om. 1255. F. and (for 2nd of). 1258. C. T. A. Th. olde ensamples; F. ensamples olde. 1259. C. A. how that; rest how. 1267. C. trewe; A. besy; rest privy. 1268, 1269. F. Tn. Th. B. -aunce; C. T. A. P. -aunces. 1269. C. And waytyn hire; T. Add. And plesyn hyr; Tn. A. And hir (!); F. Th. To hir (!). 1273. C. Tn. A. Th. Not; F. B. Wot. 1275. All but C. ins. and before ringes. 1281. C. F. T. B. reame; Tn. P. ream; Th. realme; A. regne. 1285. C. A. P. so; rest thus. 1296. C. A. so sore me; Add. sore me; rest me so sore. 1298. F. Tn. B. om. to. 1313. C. gre; rest degree (degre). 1314. C. to-fore (for to fote). 1319. C. T. A. Add. so; rest om. F. now me; rest me now. 1322. F. shal I yet; Tn. C. T. A. Th. yit shall I. 1323. C. T. yeue; F. yive; Tn. yif. 1324. C. hauyth; rest haue. 1326, 1327. The old printed editions omit these two lines. 1327. C. on to; T. A. Add. vnto; F. Tn. B. vpon. 1330. C. Thus; rest And thus. C. Tn. laft; F. lefte. 1332. C. lafte; F. lefte. 1333. F. (only) om. her. 1337. F. Tn. B. om. hit. 1338. All but T. A. Add. insert swete after O. 1339. F. Tn. Th. B. P. om. now. C. and brynge it of this onreste; Tn. T. Th. P. Add. vnbynde me of this vnreste; F. B. vnbynde me of this reste (!); A. me bynd of myn vnrest; I follow Tn. T. Th. P. Add. 1345. F. Tn. Th. P. om. a. C. tendite; rest to endite (endyte). 1346. A. P. Add. suster; C. T. A. sistir; rest sustren (!). 1347. C. T. A. P. Add. thing; rest thinges. 1351. C. Tn. rof. 1352. C. A. right; P. om.; rest yet (yit). 1353. A. Add. before that; C. F. T. Th. B. byforn or (byforne er); P. and befor or. 1355. C. A. that; T. Add. doth; rest om. 1356. C. Aȝens; A. Aȝeynes; Tn. Ayeinste; rest Ayenst. 1357. C. T. A. Add. make I; rest I make. 1359. C. T. A. P. that; rest om. 1360. A. contrair; P. contrarie; C. T. contrary; rest contrarious. 1363. C. T. A. P. Add. that; rest om. 1366. Tn. P. who; rest who so, or who that.


Incipit Legenda Ysiphile et Medee, Martirum.

Part I. The Legend of Hypsipyle.

Thou rote of false lovers, duk Iasoun!

Thou sly devourer and confusioun


Of gentil-wommen, tender creatures,

Thou madest thy reclaiming and thy lures

To ladies of thy statly apparaunce,

And of thy wordes, farced with plesaunce,

And of thy feyned trouthe and thy manere,


With thyn obeisaunce and thy humble chere,

And with thy counterfeted peyne and wo.


Ther other falsen oon, thou falsest two!

O! ofte swore thou that thou woldest dye

For love, whan thou ne feltest maladye


Save foul delyt, which that thou callest love!

If that I live, thy name shal be shove

In English, that thy sleighte shal be knowe!

Have at thee, Iasoun! now thyn horn is blowe!

But certes, hit is bothe routhe and wo


That love with false loveres werketh so;

For they shul have wel better love and chere


Than he that hath aboght his love ful dere,

Or had in armes many a blody box.

For ever as tendre a capoun et the fox,


{132}Thogh he be fals and hath the foul betrayed,

As shal the good-man that ther-for hath payed.

Al have he to the capoun skille and right,

The false fox wol have his part at night.

On Iasoun this ensample is wel y-sene


By Isiphile and Medea the quene.

In Tessalye, as Guido telleth us,


Ther was a king that highte Pelleus,

That had a brother, which that highte Eson;

And, whan for age he mighte unnethes gon,


He yaf to Pelleus the governing

Of al his regne, and made him lord and king.

Of which Eson this Iasoun geten was,

That, in his tyme, in al that lond, ther nas

Nat swich a famous knight of gentilesse,


Of freedom, and of strengthe and lustinesse.

After his fader deeth, he bar him so


That ther nas noon that liste been his fo,

But dide him al honour and companye;

Of which this Pelleus hath greet envye,


Imagining that Iasoun mighte be

Enhaunsed so, and put in swich degree

With love of lordes of his regioun,

That from his regne he may be put adoun.

And in his wit, a-night, compassed he


How Iasoun mighte best destroyed be

Withoute slaunder of his compasment.


And at the laste he took avisement

To senden him in-to som fer contree

Ther as this Iasoun may destroyed be.


This was his wit; al made he to Iasoun

Gret chere of love and of affeccioun,

For drede lest his lordes hit espyde.

So fil hit so, as fame renneth wyde,

{133}Ther was swich tyding over-al and swich los,


That in an yle that called was Colcos,

Beyonde Troye, estward in the see,


That ther-in was a ram, that men mighte see,

That had a flees of gold, that shoon so brighte,

That no-wher was ther swich an-other sighte;


But hit was kept alway with a dragoun,

And many othere merveils, up and doun,

And with two boles, maked al of bras,

That spitten fyr, and moche thing ther was.

But this was eek the tale, nathelees,


That who-so wolde winne thilke flees,

He moste bothe, or he hit winne mighte,


With the boles and the dragoun fighte;

And king Oëtes lord was of that yle.

This Pelleus bethoghte upon this wyle;


That he his nevew Iasoun wolde enhorte

To sailen to that lond, him to disporte,

And seide, 'Nevew, if hit mighte be

That swich a worship mighte fallen thee,

That thou this famous tresor mightest winne,


And bringen hit my regioun with-inne,

Hit were to me gret plesaunce and honour;


Than were I holde to quyte thy labour.

And al the cost I wol my-selven make;

And chees what folk that thou wilt with thee take;


Lat see now, darstow taken this viage?'

Iasoun was yong, and lusty of corage,

And under-took to doon this ilke empryse.

Anoon Argus his shippes gan devyse;

With Iasoun wente the stronge Ercules,


And many an-other that he with him chees.

But who-so axeth who is with him gon,


Lat him go reden Argonauticon,

{134}For he wol telle a tale long y-now.

Philotetes anoon the sail up-drow,


Whan that the wind was good, and gan him hye

Out of his contree called Tessalye.

So long he sailed in the salte see

Til in the yle Lemnoun aryved he—

Al be this nat rehersed of Guido,


Yet seith Ovyde in his Epistles so—

And of this yle lady was and quene


The faire yonge Isiphilee, the shene,

That whylom Thoas doghter was, the king.

Isiphilee was goon in her playing;


And, roming on the clyves by the see,

Under a banke anoon espyed she

Wher that the ship of Iasoun gan aryve.

Of her goodnesse adoun she sendeth blyve

To witen yif that any straunge wight


With tempest thider were y-blowe a-night,

To doon him socour; as was her usaunce


To forthren every wight, and doon plesaunce

Of veray bountee and of curtesye.

This messagere adoun him gan to hye,


And fond Iasoun, and Ercules also,

That in a cogge to londe were y-go

Hem to refresshen and to take the eyr.

The morwening atempre was and fair;

And in his wey the messagere hem mette.


Ful cunningly thise lordes two he grette,

And dide his message, axing hem anoon


Yif they were broken, or oght wo begoon,

Or hadde nede of lodesmen or vitaile;

For of socour they shulde no-thing faile,


{135}For hit was utterly the quenes wille.

Iasoun answerde, mekely and stille,

'My lady,' quod he, 'thanke I hertely

Of hir goodnesse; us nedeth, trewely,

No-thing as now, but that we wery be,


And come for to pleye, out of the see,

Til that the wind be better in our weye.'


This lady rometh by the clif to pleye,

With her meynee, endelong the stronde,

And fynt this Iasoun and this other stonde,


In spekinge of this thing, as I yow tolde.

This Ercules and Iasoun gan beholde

How that the quene hit was, and faire her grette

Anon-right as they with this lady mette;

And she took heed, and knew, by hir manere,


By hir aray, by wordes and by chere,

That hit were gentil-men, of greet degree.


And to the castel with her ledeth she

Thise straunge folk, and doth hem greet honour,

And axeth hem of travail and labour


That they han suffred in the salte see;

So that, within a day, or two, or three,

She knew, by folk that in his shippes be,

That hit was Iasoun, ful of renomee,

And Ercules, that had the grete los,


That soghten the aventures of Colcos;

And dide hem honour more then before,


And with hem deled ever lenger the more,

For they ben worthy folk, with-outen lees.

And namely, most she spak with Ercules;


To him her herte bar, he sholde be

Sad, wys, and trewe, of wordes avisee,

With-outen any other affeccioun

Of love, or evil imaginacioun.

{136}This Ercules hath so this Iasoun preysed,


That to the sonne he hath him up areysed,

That half so trewe a man ther nas of love


Under the cope of heven that is above;

And he was wys, hardy, secree, and riche.—

Of thise three pointes ther nas noon him liche;


Of freedom passed he, and lustihede,

Alle tho that liven or ben dede;

Ther-to so greet a gentil-man was he,

And of Tessalie lykly king to be.

Ther nas no lak, but that he was agast


To love, and for to speke shamefast.

He hadde lever him-self to mordre, and dye


Than that men shulde a lover him espye:—

'As wolde almighty god that I had yive

My blood and flesh, so that I mighte live,


With the nones that he hadde o-wher a wyf

For his estat; for swich a lusty lyf

She sholde lede with this lusty knight!'

And al this was compassed on the night

Betwixe him Iasoun and this Ercules.


Of thise two heer was mad a shrewed lees

To come to hous upon an innocent;


For to be-dote this queen was hir assent.

And Iasoun is as coy as is a maide,

He loketh pitously, but noght he saide,


But frely yaf he to her conseileres

Yiftes grete, and to her officeres.

As wolde god I leiser hadde, and tyme,

By proces al his wowing for to ryme.

But in this hous if any fals lover be,


Right as him-self now doth, right so dide he,

{137}With feyning and with every sotil dede.


Ye gete no more of me, but ye wil rede

Thoriginal, that telleth al the cas.

The somme is this, that Iasoun wedded was


Unto this quene, and took of her substaunce

What-so him liste, unto his purveyaunce;

And upon her begat he children two,

And drow his sail, and saw her never-mo.

A lettre sente she to him certein,


Which were to long to wryten and to sein,

And him repreveth of his grete untrouthe,


And preyeth him on her to have som routhe.

And of his children two, she seide him this,

That they be lyke, of alle thing, y-wis,


To Iasoun, save they coude nat begyle;

And preyed god, or hit were longe whyle,

That she, that had his herte y-raft her fro,

Moste finden him to her untrewe al-so,

And that she moste bothe her children spille,


And alle tho that suffreth him his wille.

And trew to Iasoun was she al her lyf,


And ever kepte her chast, as for his wyf;

Ne never had she Ioye at her herte,

But dyed, for his love, of sorwes smerte.

Part II. The Legend of Medea.


To Colcos comen is this duk Iasoun,

That is of love devourer and dragoun.

As matere appetyteth forme al-wey,

And from forme in-to forme hit passen may,

Or as a welle that were botomlees,


Right so can fals Iasoun have no pees.

For, to desyren, through his appetyt,


To doon with gentil wommen his delyt,

{138}This is his lust and his felicitee.

Iasoun is romed forth to the citee,


That whylom cleped was Iaconitos,

That was the maister-toun of al Colcos,

And hath y-told the cause of his coming

Un-to Oëtes, of that contre king,

Preying him that he moste doon his assay


To gete the flees of gold, if that he may;

Of which the king assenteth to his bone,


And doth him honour, as hit is to done,

So ferforth, that his doghter and his eyr,

Medea, which that was so wys and fair


That fairer saw ther never man with yë,

He made her doon to Iasoun companye

At mete, and sitte by him in the halle.

Now was Iasoun a semely man with-alle,

And lyk a lord, and had a greet renoun,


And of his loke as real as leoun,

And goodly of his speche, and famulere,


And coude of love al craft and art plenere

With-oute boke, with everich observaunce.

And, as fortune her oghte a foul meschaunce,


She wex enamoured upon this man.

'Iasoun,' quod she, 'for ought I see or can,

As of this thing the which ye been aboute,

Ye han your-self y-put in moche doute.

For, who-so wol this aventure acheve,


He may nat wel asterten, as I leve,

With-outen deeth, but I his helpe be.


But natheles, hit is my wille,' quod she,

'To forthren yow, so that ye shal nat dye,

But turnen, sound, hoom to your Tessalye.'


'My righte lady,' quod this Iasoun tho,

'That ye han of my dethe or of my wo

Any reward, and doon me this honour,

I wot wel that my might ne my labour

{139}May nat deserve hit in my lyves day;


God thanke yow, ther I ne can ne may.

Your man am I, and lowly you beseche,


To been my help, with-oute more speche;

But certes, for my deeth shal I nat spare.'

Tho gan this Medea to him declare


The peril of this cas, fro point to point,

And of his batail, and in what disioint

He mote stande, of which no creature,

Save only she, ne mighte his lyf assure.

And shortly, to the point right for to go,


They been accorded ful, betwix hem two,

That Iasoun shal her wedde, as trewe knight;


And term y-set, to come sone at night

Unto her chambre, and make ther his ooth,

Upon the goddes, that he, for leef ne looth,


Ne sholde her never falsen, night ne day,

To been her husbond, whyl he liven may,

As she that from his deeth him saved here.

And her-upon, at night they mette y-fere,

And doth his ooth, and goth with her to bedde.


And on the morwe, upward he him spedde;

For she hath taught him how he shal nat faile


The flees to winne, and stinten his bataile;

And saved him his lyf and his honour;

And gat him greet name as a conquerour


Right through the sleight of her enchantement.

Now hath Iasoun the flees, and hoom is went

With Medea, and tresor ful gret woon.

But unwist of her fader is she goon

To Tessaly, with duk Iasoun her leef,


That afterward hath broght her to mescheef.

{140}For as a traitour he is from her go,


And with her lafte his yonge children two,

And falsly hath betrayed her, allas!

And ever in love a cheef traitour he was;


And wedded yit the thridde wyf anon,

That was the doghter of the king Creon.

This is the meed of loving and guerdon

That Medea received of Iasoun

Right for her trouthe and for her kindenesse,


That loved him better than her-self, I gesse,

And lafte her fader and her heritage.


And of Iasoun this is the vassalage,

That, in his dayes, nas ther noon y-founde

So fals a lover going on the grounde.


And therfor in her lettre thus she seyde

First, whan she of his falsnesse him umbreyde,

'Why lyked me thy yelow heer to see

More then the boundes of myn honestee,

Why lyked me thy youthe and thy fairnesse,


And of thy tonge the infinit graciousnesse?

O, haddest thou in thy conquest deed y-be,


Ful mikel untrouthe had ther dyed with thee!'

Wel can Ovyde her lettre in vers endyte,

Which were as now to long for me to wryte.

Explicit Legenda Ysiphile et Medee, Martirum.

[Go to Legend of Lucretia]

1370. A. T. Add. tender; rest repeat gentil. C. has tendere wemen gentil. 1373. A. C. farced; F. Tn. Th. farsed; B. forsed; P. filled; T. versyd. 1375. P. A. thy; rest om. 1377. Here MS. P. ends. 1386. C. T. A. Th. Add. love and; F. Tn. B. and gretter. 1387. C. A. abought; rest bought. C. T. A. Add. his; rest om. 1389. C. et (= eteth); rest eteth (etith). 1391. C. hath; rest om. (badly). 1392. C. T. Add. Al haue he; F. Alle thof he haue. 1396. F. Tn. B. and; rest as. C. Guido; T. A. Guydo; Add. Gwydo; F. Tn. Th. B. Ouyde. 1397. F. Tn. B. knyght; rest kyng (see l. 1401); see note. 1405. So C.; rest Of fredom, of strength, and of lustynesse. 1409. C. T. Add. hadde. 1418. C. To syndyn; T. Add. To send; Tn. Th. B. That to senden; F. That to selden (!). 1427. F. Tn. Th. B. ther; rest therin. C. may se. 1433. T. Th. moche; F. muche; C. meche othir. 1438. C. Oetes; rest Otes (Otys). 1443. C. T. A. Add. a; rest om. 1444. T. A. C. mightest; rest myghte. 1445. C. T. bryngyn; rest brynge (bring). 1448. C. T. A. Add. cost; rest costes. 1449. C. om. And. A. ches; F. Tn. T. B. chese; Th. chose; C. Schis (!). C. A. that; rest om. 1452. C. T. Add. om. ilke. 1457. T. A. Add. go; rest om. C. ryde; rest rede; better reden. 1460. C. T. Add. that; rest om. 1463. All insert of after yle (needlessly). Th. Lemnon; A. Lennoun; C. lenoun (for lēnoun = lemnoun); F. Tn. B. leonoun; T. Add. lenon (= lemnon). 1471. F. brake (!); A. bonk; rest banke. 1472. So C. T. A. Add.; F. Tn. Th. B. Wher lay the shippe, that Iasoun (no sense). 1476. C. F. B. hem; rest him. 1481. C. A. cog; T. Add. boote; rest cogge. 1483. F. atempree. 1486. C. T. A. Add. axinge; rest askynge. 1487. F. B. om. oght. 1489. C. T. A. Add, of; rest om. 1490. F. Tn. B. omit this line. 1498. C. endelong (as in Kn. Tale); F. endlonge. 1499. C. F. Add. these other; rest this other. 1506. F. hit; C. Tn. Th. B. it; T. A. Add. they. 1512. F. Tn. Th. B. by the (for by). 1519. F. (only) she spake moste; Add. om. most. 1523. C. euyl; A. euill; rest any othir (caught from l. 1522). 1524. C. T. A. Add. so; rest om. 1525. C. T. A. Add. him; rest hyt (it). C. areysid; rest reysed. 1526. C. om. half. 1527. C. cape; rest cope. 1536. F. A. B. Add. He; rest Him (badly). 1538. A. almychti; rest om. 1540. C. With nonys; read With th' nones. 1545. T. made; rest omit; but sense and metre require it. 1547. C. T. Add. assent; B. intente (which will not rime); rest entent (but Chaucer uses entente). 1548. F. Thise; B. As; rest And. 1550. F. B. om. he. 1552. F. B. god wolde; rest wolde god. C. T. Add. I; rest that I. 1559. C. T. somme; A. text; rest sothe (soth). 1564. F. Tn. Th. B. om. to. 1569. F. B. (only) om. they. 1573. C. Th. Muste; F. Tn. B. Most; T. A. Myght. 1578. F. And; rest Ne. 1582. F. nature; C. matier; Tn. Th. B. matire; T. A. matyr. C. apetitith; T. Add. appetyteth; rest appeteth (!). 1583. F. Tn. Th. B. to (for in-to). 1585. A. (only) this false; rest om. this. F. Th. B. om. fals. (Accent Right.) 1590. C. T. Iaconitos; A. Iacomitos; F. Tn. Th. B. Iasonicos; (Latin Iaconites). 1593. F. Vnto tho (!). C. Oetes; Add. Cetes; T Cytees (!); rest Otes. 1599. F. Tn. B. Add. and so feyre. 1605. C. T. Th. B. Add. as a leoun (lyoun). 1613. C. han; T. A. Add. haue; rest and (!). 1626. T. A. Th. lowly; F. louly; B. loulye; C. louely; Tn. lowe. 1631. C. T. A. Add. And; rest om. F. Tn. om. in. 1634. C. T. A. Add. to the point right; rest ryght to the poynt. 1642. C. T. sauyth; rest saued. F. B. there; rest here. 1643. F. Tn. B. omit; C. has And here vp a nyght, &c. 1649. C. T. gat; A. gatt; Add. Th. gate; rest gete. F. B. (only) om. him. T. gret; Add. grete; A. om.; rest a. C. ryth as; T. A. ryght as; Add. lyke as; rest as. 1652. F. Tn. Th. B. tresoures; C. tresor; T. A. Add. tresour. 1657. T. A. his; C. hire; rest om. 1659. C. thef and (for cheef). 1661. C. A. the; rest om. 1667. F. (only) om. the. 1668. C. T. A. Add. ther; rest neuer. 1671. C. Fyrst of his falsenesse whan she hym vpbreyde.


Incipit Legenda Lucrecie Rome, martiris.


Now moot I seyn the exiling of kinges

Of Rome, for hir horrible doinges,

And of the laste king Tarquinius,

As saith Ovyde and Titus Livius.

{141}But for that cause telle I nat this storie,


But for to preise and drawen to memorie

The verray wyf, the verray trewe Lucresse,

That, for her wyfhood and her stedfastnesse,

Nat only that thise payens her comende,


But he, that cleped is in our legende


The grete Austin, hath greet compassioun

Of this Lucresse, that starf at Rome toun;

And in what wyse, I wol but shortly trete,

And of this thing I touche but the grete.

Whan Ardea beseged was aboute


With Romains, that ful sterne were and stoute,

Ful longe lay the sege, and litel wroghte,

So that they were half ydel, as hem thoghte;

And in his pley Tarquinius the yonge


Gan for to iape, for he was light of tonge,


And seyde, that 'it was an ydel lyf;

No man did ther no more than his wyf;

And lat us speke of wyves, that is best;

Praise every man his owne, as him lest,

And with our speche lat us ese our herte.'


A knight, that highte Colatyne, up sterte,

And seyde thus, 'nay, for hit is no nede

To trowen on the word, but on the dede.

I have a wyf,' quod he, 'that, as I trowe,


Is holden good of alle that ever her knowe;


Go we to-night to Rome, and we shul see.'

Tarquinius answerde, 'that lyketh me.'

To Rome be they come, and faste hem dighte

To Colatynes hous, and doun they lighte,

Tarquinius, and eek this Colatyne.


The husbond knew the estres wel and fyne,

{142}And prively into the hous they goon;

Nor at the gate porter was ther noon;

And at the chambre-dore they abyde.


This noble wyf sat by her beddes syde


Dischevele, for no malice she ne thoghte;

And softe wolle our book seith that she wroghte

To kepen her fro slouthe and ydelnesse;

And bad her servants doon hir businesse,

And axeth hem, 'what tydings heren ye?


How seith men of the sege, how shal hit be?

God wolde the walles weren falle adoun;

Myn husbond is so longe out of this toun,

For which the dreed doth me so sore smerte,


Right as a swerd hit stingeth to myn herte


Whan I think on the sege or of that place;

God save my lord, I preye him for his grace:'—

And ther-with-al ful tenderly she weep,

And of her werk she took no more keep,

But mekely she leet her eyen falle;


And thilke semblant sat her wel with-alle.

And eek her teres, ful of honestee,

Embelisshed her wyfly chastitee;

Her countenaunce is to her herte digne,


For they acordeden in dede and signe.


And with that word her husbond Colatyn,

Or she of him was war, com sterting in,

And seide, 'dreed thee noght, for I am here!'

And she anoon up roos, with blisful chere,

And kiste him, as of wyves is the wone.


Tarquinius, this proude kinges sone,

{143}Conceived hath her beautee and her chere,

Her yelow heer, her shap, and her manere,

Her hew, her wordes that she hath compleyned,


And by no crafte her beautee nas nat feyned;


And caughte to this lady swich desyr,

That in his herte brende as any fyr

So woodly, that his wit was al forgeten.

For wel, thoghte he, she sholde nat be geten

And ay the more that he was in dispair,


The more he coveteth and thoghte her fair.

His blinde lust was al his covetinge.

A-morwe, whan the brid began to singe,

Unto the sege he comth ful privily,


And by himself he walketh sobrely,


Thimage of her recording alwey newe;

'Thus lay her heer, and thus fresh was her hewe;

Thus sat, thus spak, thus span; this was her chere,

Thus fair she was, and this was her manere.'

Al this conceit his herte hath now y-take.


And, as the see, with tempest al to-shake,

That, after whan the storm is al ago,

Yet wol the water quappe a day or two,

Right so, thogh that her forme wer absent,


The plesaunce of her forme was present;


But natheles, nat plesaunce, but delyt,

Or an unrightful talent with despyt;

'For, maugre her, she shal my lemman be;

Hap helpeth hardy man alday,' quod he;

'What ende that I make, hit shal be so;'


And girt him with his swerde, and gan to go;

And forth he rit til he to Rome is come,

And al aloon his wey than hath he nome

{144}Unto the house of Colatyn ful right.


Doun was the sonne, and day hath lost his light;


And in he com un-to a privy halke,

And in the night ful theefly gan he stalke,

Whan every night was to his reste broght,

Ne no wight had of tresoun swich a thoght.

Were hit by window or by other gin,


With swerde y-drawe, shortly he comth in

Ther as she lay, this noble wyf Lucresse.

And, as she wook, her bed she felte presse.

'What beste is that,' quod she, 'that weyeth thus?'


'I am the kinges sone, Tarquinius,'


Quod he, 'but and thou crye, or noise make,

Or if thou any creature awake,

By thilke god that formed man on lyve,

This swerd through-out thyn herte shal I ryve.'

And ther-withal unto her throte he sterte,


And sette the point al sharp upon her herte.

No word she spak, she hath no might therto.

What shal she sayn? her wit is al ago.

Right as a wolf that fynt a lomb aloon,


To whom shal she compleyne, or make moon?


What! shal she fighte with an hardy knight?

Wel wot men that a woman hath no might.

What! shal she crye, or how shal she asterte

That hath her by the throte, with swerde at herte?

She axeth grace, and seith al that she can.


'Ne wolt thou nat,' quod he, this cruel man,

'As wisly Iupiter my soule save,

As I shal in the stable slee thy knave,

And leye him in thy bed, and loude crye,


That I thee finde in suche avouterye;


{145}And thus thou shalt be deed, and also lese

Thy name, for thou shalt non other chese.'

Thise Romain wyves loveden so hir name

At thilke tyme, and dredden so the shame,

That, what for fere of slaundre and drede of deeth,


She loste bothe at-ones wit and breeth,

And in a swough she lay and wex so deed,

Men mighte smyten of her arm or heed;

She feleth no-thing, neither foul ne fair.


Tarquinius, that art a kinges eyr,


And sholdest, as by linage and by right,

Doon as a lord and as a verray knight,

Why hastow doon dispyt to chivalrye?

Why hastow doon this lady vilanye?

Allas! of thee this was a vileins dede!


But now to purpos; in the story I rede,

Whan he was goon, al this mischaunce is falle.

This lady sente after her frendes alle,

Fader, moder, husbond, al y-fere;


And al dischevele, with her heres clere,


In habit swich as women used tho

Unto the burying of her frendes go,

She sit in halle with a sorweful sighte.

Her frendes axen what her aylen mighte,

And who was deed? And she sit ay wepinge,


A word for shame ne may she forth out-bringe,

Ne upon hem she dorste nat beholde.

But atte laste of Tarquiny she hem tolde,

This rewful cas, and al this thing horrible.


The wo to tellen hit were impossible,


That she and alle her frendes made atones.

Al hadde folkes hertes been of stones,

{146}Hit mighte have maked hem upon her rewe,

Her herte was so wyfly and so trewe.

She seide, that, for her gilt ne for her blame,


Her husbond sholde nat have the foule name,

That wolde she nat suffre, by no wey.

And they answerden alle, upon hir fey,

That they foryeve hit her, for hit was right;


Hit was no gilt, hit lay nat in her might;


And seiden her ensamples many oon.

But al for noght; for thus she seide anoon,

'Be as be may,' quod she, 'of forgiving,

I wol nat have no forgift for no-thing.'

But prively she caughte forth a knyf,


And therwith-al she rafte her-self her lyf;

And as she fel adoun, she caste her look,

And of her clothes yit she hede took;

For in her falling yit she hadde care


Lest that her feet or swiche thing lay bare;


So wel she loved clennesse and eek trouthe.

Of her had al the toun of Rome routhe,

And Brutus by her chaste blode hath swore

That Tarquin sholde y-banisht be ther-fore,

And al his kin; and let the peple calle,


And openly the tale he tolde hem alle,

And openly let carie her on a bere

Through al the toun, that men may see and here

The horrible deed of her oppressioun.


Ne never was ther king in Rome toun


Sin thilke day; and she was holden there

A seint, and ever her day y-halwed dere

As in hir lawe: and thus endeth Lucresse,

The noble wyf, as Titus bereth witnesse.

I tell hit, for she was of love so trewe,


Ne in her wille she chaunged for no newe.

And for the stable herte, sad and kinde,

That in these women men may alday finde;

{147}Ther as they caste hir herte, ther hit dwelleth.


For wel I wot, that Crist him-selve telleth,


That in Israel, as wyd as is the lond,

That so gret feith in al the lond he ne fond

As in a woman; and this is no lye.

And as of men, loketh which tirannye

They doon alday; assay hem who so liste,


The trewest is ful brotel for to triste.

Explicit Legenda Lucrecie Rome, Martiris.

[Go to Legend of Ariadne]

1681. F. B. dedes; rest doinges. 1682. Addit. (12524) And; rest om. 1685. F. B. to (for and); rest and. 1686. C. trewe; rest om. 1689. F. Tn. Th. B. om. he. 1693. F. omits this line; I give the spelling as in MS. T., changing thyng into thing. 1696, 1697. C. F. Tn. Th. B. wroughten, thoughten; but thoughten is bad grammar; T. A. Add. wrought, thought. 1701. C. no; rest om. 1705. C. highte; Tn. hat; rest hyght (perhaps read hatte). 1710. So C. T. Add.; rest to Rome to nyght. 1715. B. estres; C. A. estris; F. Tn. esters; T. estes (!); Th. efters (!!). 1716. All but T. Add. needlessly insert ful after And. 1718. C. they gan abyde. 1720. C. Discheuele; F. Disshevely. 1721. T. Add. oure boke seyth; C. seyth (om. our book); Th. saith Liui; rest seyth our boke. 1725. C seith; F. sayne. 1727. C. Th. so; rest to. 1728. C. sore; rest to (badly). 1729, 1730. C. has—That with a swerd me thynkyth that to myn herte It styngith me whan I thynke on that place. 1730. T. A. Add. the sege; F. Tn. B. these (for the sege); Th. this. 1731. F. my; rest his (before grace). 1736. F. the (for her). A. T. honestee; C. oneste; B. heuyte (!); F. hevytee (!); Tn. Th. heuynesse. 1737. C. Emblemyschid (!). Th. chastnesse. C. puts ll. 1738-9 after l. 1743. 1744. C. kiste; rest kissed. 1747. C. T. A. Add. shap; rest bounte. 1749. C. nas; rest was. 1751. C. brende; B. brente; F. Tn. brent. 1752. C. is al; Th. A. was al; rest was. 1754. C. T. A. Add. that; rest om. 1757. F. Tn. Th. B. On; rest A. 1760. C. Thymage; rest The ymage. 1763. F. T. This; rest Thus. 1764. C. A. now; rest newe (new). 1766. C. Yit (for That). 1770. C. om. But. 1773. C. T. A. alday; rest alway. 1776. C. forth he rit; A. Addit. (12524) forth he ride; F. Tn. Th. he forth right (!). 1784. C. T. A. Add. Were hit; rest Whether. 1787. F. felt; C. felte. 1793. C. thour-out; T. thorout; A. throughout; rest om. out. 1795. C. T. A. Add. point; rest swerd. C. vp-on; T. opon; Tn. Th. on; rest unto. 1798. C. T. A. fynt; Add. fyndyth; rest fayneth or feyneth (!). C. lomb; Add. lombe; T. A. Th. lambe; rest loue (!). 1801. C. T. A. Add. that; rest om. 1802. F. Add. sterte; rest asterte (astert). 1804. C. T. A. Add. seyth; rest seyde. 1805. C. A. Add. he; T. tho; rest om. 1807. F. Tn. Th. B. om. As. 1809. C. auouterye; F. avowtrye. 1811. C. T. A. Add. non other; rest not. 1815. C. at onys bothe; rest bothe atones. 1816. C. wex; B. wexe; Tn. wax; T. wexed; A. wox; F. Th. woxe. 1821. F. Tn. Th. B. om. 2nd as. C. worthi (for verray). 1823. C. T. A. Add. this; rest thy. 1824. C. vileyn; A. T. vileyns; Add. vilons; F. B. Tn. vilenouse; Th. villaynous. 1825. F. Tn. Th. B. insert the after to. 1829. F. Tn. Th. B. om. al. C. herys; A. heeres; F. heer; Tn. T. Th. B. here (heare, heere). C. has lost ll. 1836-1907. 1840. Add. made; T. maden; A. maid; rest make. 1846. So all but F. Tn. B.; F. B. That nolde she suffre; Tn. That wolde she suffren nat. 1847. T. opon; A. vpon; rest vnto (badly). 1857. T. A. Add. she hede; rest hede she. 1862. So T. A. Add.; rest hath by hir chaste blood. 1873. T. A. Add. as; rest om. 1876. T. A. Add. for the; rest in her. 1879. All him-self or him-selfe. 1882. F. Add. om. and. 1883. F. women; rest men. C. has lost ll. 1836-1907.


Incipit Legenda Adriane de Athenes.

Iuge infernal, Minos, of Crete king,

Now cometh thy lot, now comestow on the ring;

Nat for thy sake only wryte I this storie,

But for to clepe agein unto memorie


Of Theseus the grete untrouthe of love;

For which the goddes of the heven above

Ben wrothe, and wreche han take for thy sinne.

Be reed for shame! now I thy lyf beginne.

Minos, that was the mighty king of Crete,


That hadde an hundred citees stronge and grete,


To scole hath sent his sone Androgeus,

To Athenes; of the whiche hit happed thus,

That he was slayn, lerning philosophye,

Right in that citee, nat but for envye.


The grete Minos, of the whiche I speke,

His sones deeth is comen for to wreke;

{148}Alcathoe he bisegeth harde and longe.

But natheles the walles be so stronge,

And Nisus, that was king of that citee,


So chivalrous, that litel dredeth he;


Of Minos or his ost took he no cure,

Til on a day befel an aventure,

That Nisus doghter stood upon the wal,

And of the sege saw the maner al.


So happed hit, that, at a scarmishing,

She caste her herte upon Minos the king,

For his beautee and for his chivalrye,

So sore, that she wende for to dye.

And, shortly of this proces for to pace,


She made Minos winnen thilke place,


So that the citee was al at his wille,

To saven whom him list, or elles spille;

But wikkedly he quitte her kindenesse,

And let her drenche in sorowe and distresse,


Nere that the goddes hadde of her pite;

But that tale were to long as now for me.

Athenes wan this king Minos also,

And Alcathoe and other tounes mo;

And this theffect, that Minos hath so driven


Hem of Athenes, that they mote him yiven


Fro yere to yere her owne children dere

For to be slayn, as ye shul after here.

This Minos hath a monstre, a wikked beste,

That was so cruel that, without areste,


Whan that a man was broght in his presence,

He wolde him ete, ther helpeth no defence.

And every thridde yeer, with-outen doute,

They casten lot, and, as hit com aboute

{149}On riche, on pore, he moste his sone take,


And of his child he moste present make


Unto Minos, to save him or to spille,

Or lete his beste devoure him at his wille.

And this hath Minos don, right in despyt;

To wreke his sone was set al his delyt,


And maken hem of Athenes his thral

Fro yere to yere, whyl that he liven shal;

And hoom he saileth whan this toun is wonne.

This wikked custom is so longe y-ronne

Til that of Athenes king Egeus


Mot sende his owne sone, Theseus,


Sith that the lot is fallen him upon,

To be devoured, for grace is ther non.

And forth is lad this woful yonge knight

Unto the court of king Minos ful right,


And in a prison, fetered, cast is he

Til thilke tyme he sholde y-freten be.

Wel maystow wepe, O woful Theseus,

That art a kinges sone, and dampned thus.

Me thinketh this, that thou were depe y-holde


To whom that saved thee fro cares colde!


And now, if any woman helpe thee,

Wel oughtestow her servant for to be,

And been her trewe lover yeer by yere!

But now to come ageyn to my matere.


The tour, ther as this Theseus is throwe

Doun in the botom derke and wonder lowe,

Was ioyning in the walle to a foreyne;

And hit was longing to the doghtren tweyne

{150}Of king Minos, that in hir chambres grete


Dwelten above, toward the maister-strete,


In mochel mirthe, in Ioye and in solas.

Not I nat how, hit happed ther, per cas,

As Theseus compleyned him by nighte,

The kinges doghter, Adrian that highte,


And eek her suster Phedra, herden al

His compleyning, as they stode on the wal

And lokeden upon the brighte mone;

Hem leste nat to go to bedde sone.

And of his wo they had compassioun;


A kinges sone to ben in swich prisoun


And be devoured, thoughte hem gret pitee.

Than Adrian spak to her suster free,

And seyde, 'Phedra, leve suster dere,

This woful lordes sone may ye nat here,


How pitously compleyneth he his kin,

And eek his pore estat that he is in,

And gilteless? now certes, hit is routhe!

And if ye wol assenten, by my trouthe,

He shal be holpen, how so that we do!'


Phedra answerde, 'y-wis, me is as wo


For him as ever I was for any man;

And, to his help, the beste reed I can

Is that we doon the gayler prively

To come, and speke with us hastily,


And doon this woful man with him to come.

For if he may this monstre overcome,

Than were he quit; ther is noon other bote.

Lat us wel taste him at his herte-rote,

{151}That, if so be that he a wepen have,


Wher that he dar, his lyf to kepe and save,


Fighten with this fend, and him defende.

For, in the prison, ther he shal descende,

Ye wite wel, that the beste is in a place

That nis nat derk, and hath roum eek and space


To welde an ax or swerd or staf or knyf,

So that, me thinketh, he sholde save his lyf;

If that he be a man, he shal do so.

And we shul make him balles eek also

Of wexe and towe, that, whan he gapeth faste,


Into the bestes throte he shal hem caste


To slake his hunger and encombre his teeth;

And right anon, whan that Theseus seeth

The beste achoked, he shal on him lepe

To sleen him, or they comen more to-hepe.


This wepen shal the gayler, or that tyde,

Ful privily within the prison hyde;

And, for the hous is crinkled to and fro,

And hath so queinte weyes for to go—

For hit is shapen as the mase is wroght—


Therto have I a remedie in my thoght,


That, by a clewe of twyne, as he hath goon,

The same wey he may returne anoon,

Folwing alwey the threed, as he hath come.

And, whan that he this beste hath overcome,


Then may he fleen awey out of this drede,

{152}And eek the gayler may he with him lede,

And him avaunce at hoom in his contree,

Sin that so greet a lordes sone is he.

This is my reed, if that he dar hit take.'


What sholde I lenger sermoun of hit make?


The gayler cometh, and with him Theseus.

And whan thise thinges been acorded thus,

Adoun sit Theseus upon his knee:—

'The righte lady of my lyf,' quod he,


'I, sorweful man, y-dampned to the deeth,

Fro yow, whyl that me lasteth lyf or breeth,

I wol nat twinne, after this aventure,

But in your servise thus I wol endure,

That, as a wrecche unknowe, I wol yow serve


For ever-mo, til that myn herte sterve.


Forsake I wol at hoom myn heritage,

And, as I seide, ben of your court a page,

If that ye vouche-sauf that, in this place,

Ye graunte me to han so gret a grace


That I may han nat but my mete and drinke;

And for my sustenance yit wol I swinke,

Right as yow list, that Minos ne no wight—

Sin that he saw me never with eyen sight—

Ne no man elles, shal me conne espye;


So slyly and so wel I shal me gye,


And me so wel disfigure and so lowe,

That in this world ther shal no man me knowe,

To han my lyf, and for to han presence

Of yow, that doon to me this excellence.


And to my fader shal I senden here

This worthy man, that is now your gaylere,

And, him to guerdon, that he shal wel be

Oon of the grettest men of my contree.

{153}And yif I dorste seyn, my lady bright,


I am a kinges sone, and eek a knight;


As wolde god, yif that hit mighte be

Ye weren in my contree, alle three,

And I with yow, to bere yow companye,

Than shulde ye seen yif that I ther-of lye!


And, if I profre yow in low manere

To ben your page and serven yow right here,

But I yow serve as lowly in that place,

I prey to Mars to yive me swiche a grace

That shames deeth on me ther mote falle,


And deeth and povert to my frendes alle;


And that my spirit by nighte mote go

After my deeth, and walke to and fro;

That I mote of a traitour have a name,

For which my spirit go, to do me shame!


And yif I ever claime other degree,

But-if ye vouche-sauf to yive hit me,

As I have seid, of shames deeth I deye!

And mercy, lady! I can nat elles seye!'

A seemly knight was Theseus to see,


And yong, but of a twenty yeer and three;


But who-so hadde y-seyn his countenaunce,

He wolde have wept, for routhe of his penaunce;

For which this Adriane in this manere

Answerde to his profre and to his chere.


'A kinges sone, and eek a knight,' quod she,

'To been my servant in so low degree,

God shilde hit, for the shame of women alle!

And leve me never swich a cas befalle!

{154}But sende yow grace and sleighte of herte also,


Yow to defende and knightly sleen your fo,


And leve herafter that I may yow finde

To me and to my suster here so kinde,

That I repente nat to give yow lyf!

Yit were hit better that I were your wyf,


Sin that ye been as gentil born as I,

And have a rëaume, nat but faste by,

Then that I suffred giltles yow to sterve,

Or that I let yow as a page serve;

Hit is not profit, as unto your kinrede;


But what is that that man nil do for drede?


And to my suster, sin that hit is so

That she mot goon with me, if that I go,

Or elles suffre deeth as wel as I,

That ye unto your sone as trewely


Doon her be wedded at your hoom-coming.

This is the fynal ende of al this thing;

Ye swere hit heer, on al that may be sworn.'

'Ye, lady myn,' quod he, 'or elles torn

Mote I be with the Minotaur to-morwe!


And haveth her-of my herte-blood to borwe,


Yif that ye wile; if I had knyf or spere,

I wolde hit leten out, and ther-on swere,

For than at erst I wot ye wil me leve.

By Mars, that is the cheef of my bileve,


So that I mighte liven and nat faile

To-morwe for tacheve my bataile,

I nolde never fro this place flee,

Til that ye shuld the verray preve see.

{155}For now, if that the sooth I shal yow say,


I have y-loved yow ful many a day,


Thogh ye ne wiste hit nat, in my contree.

And aldermost desyred yow to see

Of any erthly living creature;

Upon my trouthe I swere, and yow assure,


Thise seven yeer I have your servant be;

Now have I yow, and also have ye me,

My dere herte, of Athenes duchesse!'

This lady smyleth at his stedfastnesse,

And at his hertly wordes, and his chere,


And to her suster seide in this manere,


Al softely, 'now, suster myn,' quod she,

'Now be we duchesses, bothe I and ye,

And sikered to the regals of Athenes,

And bothe her-after lykly to be quenes,


And saved fro his deeth a kinges sone,

As ever of gentil women is the wone

To save a gentil man, emforth hir might,

In honest cause, and namely in his right.

Me thinketh no wight oghte her-of us blame,


Ne beren us ther-for an evel name.'


And shortly of this matere for to make,

This Theseus of her hath leve y-take,

And every point performed was in dede

As ye have in this covenant herd me rede.


His wepen, his clew, his thing that I have said,

Was by the gayler in the hous y-laid

Ther as this Minotaur hath his dwelling,

Right faste by the dore, at his entring.

And Theseus is lad unto his deeth,


And forth un-to this Minotaur he geeth,


And by the teching of this Adriane

He overcom this beste, and was his bane;

And out he cometh by the clewe again

{156}Ful prevely, whan he this beste hath slain;


And by the gayler geten hath a barge,

And of his wyves tresor gan hit charge,

And took his wyf, and eek her suster free,

And eek the gayler, and with hem alle three

Is stole awey out of the lond by nighte,


And to the contre of Ennopye him dighte


Ther as he had a frend of his knowinge.

Ther festen they, ther dauncen they and singe;

And in his armes hath this Adriane,

That of the beste hath kept him from his bane;


And gat him ther a newe barge anoon,

And of his contree-folk a ful gret woon,

And taketh his leve, and hoomward saileth he.

And in an yle, amid the wilde see,

Ther as ther dwelte creature noon


Save wilde bestes, and that ful many oon,


He made his ship a-londe for to sette;

And in that yle half a day he lette,

And seide, that on the lond he moste him reste.

His mariners han doon right as him leste;


And, for to tellen shortly in this cas,

Whan Adriane his wyf a-slepe was,

For that her suster fairer was than she,

He taketh her in his hond, and forth goth he

To shippe, and as a traitour stal his way


Whyl that this Adriane a-slepe lay,


And to his contree-ward he saileth blyve—

A twenty devil way the wind him dryve!—

And fond his fader drenched in the see.

Me list no more to speke of him, parde;


Thise false lovers, poison be hir bane!

But I wol turne again to Adriane

{157}That is with slepe for werinesse atake.

Ful sorwefully her herte may awake.

Allas! for thee my herte hath now pite!


Right in the dawening awaketh she,


And gropeth in the bedde, and fond right noght.

'Allas!' quod she, 'that ever I was wroght!

I am betrayed!' and her heer to-rente,

And to the stronde bar-fot faste she wente,


And cryed, 'Theseus! myn herte swete!

Wher be ye, that I may nat with yow mete,

And mighte thus with bestes been y-slain?'

The holwe rokkes answerde her again;

No man she saw, and yit shyned the mone,


And hye upon a rokke she wente sone,


And saw his barge sailing in the see.

Cold wex her herte, and right thus seide she.

'Meker than ye finde I the bestes wilde!'

Hadde he nat sinne, that her thus begylde?


She cryed, 'O turne again, for routhe and sinne!

Thy barge hath nat al his meiny inne!'

Her kerchef on a pole up stikked she,

Ascaunce that he sholde hit wel y-see,

And him remembre that she was behinde,


And turne again, and on the stronde her finde;


But al for noght; his wey he is y-goon.

And doun she fil a-swown upon a stoon;

And up she rist, and kiste, in al her care,

The steppes of his feet, ther he hath fare,


And to her bedde right thus she speketh tho:—

'Thou bed,' quod she, 'that hast receyved two,

{158}Thou shalt answere of two, and nat of oon!

Wher is thy gretter part away y-goon?

Allas! wher shal I, wrecched wight, become!


For, thogh so be that ship or boot heer come,


Hoom to my contree dar I nat for drede;

I can my-selven in this cas nat rede!'

What shal I telle more her compleining?

Hit is so long, hit were an hevy thing.


In her epistle Naso telleth al;

But shortly to the ende I telle shal.

The goddes have her holpen, for pitee;

And, in the signe of Taurus, men may see

The stones of her coroun shyne clere.—


I wol no more speke of this matere;


But thus this false lover can begyle

His trewe love. The devil quyte him his whyle!

Explicit Legenda Adriane de Athenes.

[Go to Legend of Philomela]

1886. F. B. Tn. Grece; rest Crete; see l. 1894. 1888. F. B. oonly for thy sake; rest for thy sake only. F. Tn. Th. B. writen is; T. A. Add. wryte I. 1890. F. vntrewe; rest vntrouthe (vntrouth). 1891. T. A. Add. the; rest om. (after of). 1895. T. A. Th. had; B. wanne; F. whan (!); Tn. om. 1897. F. happeth; A. hapned; Add. appynyd; rest happed. 1902. Th. Alcathoe (rightly); A. Alcitoe; Tn. Alcie; T. All the cyte; F. B. And the citee. 1910. F. B. hyt happed; rest happed hit. 1911. C. caughte. 1912. C. T. A. Add. for; rest om. C. om. 1922, 1923. 1923. Th. As Alcathoe; A. As Alcitoe; F. B. And Alcites; T. With all the cyte; see l. 1902. 1924. C. But (for And). 1925. F. B. Tn. B. om. that. 1927. C. T. righ[t] as ye shal here; A. rycht thus as ye schall here. 1930. C. T. A. Add. in; rest in-to. 1932. C. om. yeer. 1933. C. T. A. Add. and; rest om. C. fil (for com). 1934. C. or; Th. Add. and; rest on. 1936. T. Add. Vn-to; rest To. C. Theseus (for Minos). 1938. C. T. A. Th. Add. right; rest om. 1940. F. B. To; rest And. 1941. C. T. A. that; rest om. 1944. C. T. Add. that; rest om. 1945. Tn. Mot; C. T. Th. Mote; rest Moste (Must). 1948. C. gon (for lad). 1949. C. T. A. Add. court; rest contree. C. T. A. Add. right; rest of might. 1951. A. thilke; C. the ilke; rest the. 1954. C. T. A. Add. were depe; F. B. depe were; Tn. depe; Th. arte depe. 1955. C. hym; T. theym; rest whom. 1960. C. A. as; T. Add. that; rest om. 1962. C. T. A. Add. in; rest to. C. Tn. T. A. Add to; F. B. Th. of. 1964. A. king; rest om. C. Of Thesius that, &c. 1965. C. T. A. Add. toward; rest om. 1966. T. In mochell myrthe; Add. In moche myrth; Th. Of the towne; rest Of Athenes(!); see note. 1967. C. Tn. Th. Not; F. A. B. Wot. T. But I not how. A. happinit; rest happed. Add. ther; T. there; rest om. 1969. F. Tn. B. Add. that Adriane (badly); Th. that Ariadne. 1971. C. T. A. Add. compleynyge; rest compleynt. 1972. C. T. lokedyn; rest loked. 1973. F. B. (only) om. 1st to. C. A. sone; rest so sone. 1980. F. Tn. B. om. he. 1982. C. now certeyn; T. A. now certes; rest certes now. 1987. F. A. B. insert that before I. 1991. F. B. the; rest this. 1995. So C.; F. B. that hys lyf he dar kepe or; Tn. Th. that he his lif dar kepe or; T. that he dar his lyfe kepe and. 1997. F. Tn. B. Th. ther as; C. T. A. om. as. 1998. F. Tn. B. omit this line. So C. Th. A. Wel wote ȝe, &c. T. The best, ye wot well that he ys, &c. 1999. Addit. (12524) rome eke and space; C. bothe roum and space; rest roume (roum) and eke space. 2003. F. Tn. B. om. him. 2007. C. what (error for whan) that; Th. T. whan that; F. Tn. A. B. whan. 2008. T. A. C. achoked; Th. acheked (!); F. Tn. asleked; B. aslakyd. 2009. F. (only) the (for they). F. to helpe (!); rest to hepe. 2012. Tn. crenkled; Th. crencled; B. cruklyd. 2015. T. (only) om. a. 2016. F. B. clywe. 2019. So C. A.; so Addit. (12625) with monstre for beste; F. Tn. Th. B. And whan this best ys ouercome (!); T. And when that he thus hath ouercome (!). 2020. C. T. A. drede; rest stede; (drede gives the better rime). 2025. T. A. Th. sermoun; C. sarmoun; rest om. 2027. C. And; rest om. 2028. C. T. A. Adoun; rest Doun. 2031. C. T. A. whil; rest whiles. F. Tn. Th. B. om. lyf or. 2032. F. Tn. B. wolde; rest wil (wol). 2035. C. A. -mo; rest -more. 2039. C. A. so gret a; T. so gret; rest suche a. 2046. F. B. so me; T. so; rest me so. 2048. C. A. for; rest om. 2051. C. now; rest om. 2052. C. F. to; Tn. T. Th. B. so; A. om. 2060. F. Tn. Th. B. insert that after if. 2063. C. A. so (for 2nd to). C. A. a; rest om. 2064. C. T. A. Th. deth; F. B. dede; Tn. deed; see l. 2072. 2065. T. pouert; rest pouerte; cf. Cant. Ta. C 441. 2068. A. a traytour; rest om. a. 2069. A. go; C. T. goth; Th. mote go; F. Tn. B. mot go (for mot-e go); see l 2066. [Go = may go.] 2070. F. B. ever y; T. C. A., I ever. 2071. C. T. A. if; rest om. 2073. F. B. no more; Tn. nat; rest nat elles. 2074. F. Tn. Th. B. this Theseus; C. T. A. om. this. 2075. C. a; rest om. 2080. F. Tn. B. badly have And a. 2083. A. leue; Th. lene; C. F. B. leue or lene; Tn. leen; (leve is right); see l. 2086. 2084. C. T. A. But; rest And. 2085. So C. A. B.; F. Tn. T. Th. to sleen (badly). 2086. F. leve (sic); A. lyve; C. B. leue (or lene); Th. lene; Tn. leen; T. graunt. C. T. A. that; rest om. 2088. C. T. A., I; rest I ne. 2089. C. T. A. that; rest om. 2090. C. T. A. that; rest om. 2091. T. reaume; Tn. reame; C. reume; rest realme. 2092. C. T. giltles ȝow; A. ȝow giltles; F. Tn. Th. B. your gentilesse (!). 2095. C. that; rest that that. C. men; T. a man; rest man. C. nyl don; A. nyl do; T. wyll do (!); F. Tn. Th. B. wol not do. 2100. F. B. to be; rest om. to. 2102. A. on; rest vpon. 2107. B. lete; F. C. Tn. T. laten; A. latten; Th. letten. 2109. C. T. A. the; rest om. 2111. C. tacheue; T. A. to acheue; F. Tn. Th. B. to taken (!). C. myn; A. T. Th. my; F. Tn. B. by (!). 2113. C. prene (rightly); F. T. prefe; Tn. A. prof; Th. profe; B. trouth. 2115. C. I-louyd; A. yloued; rest loved. 2116. F. Tn. Th. B. om. hit. 2119. C. ensure. 2124. C. Th. hertely; B. hertilye; rest hertly (hertely is more correct). F. Tn. Th. B. and at his chere. 2126. C. T. A. Al; rest And. 2134. C. her-of us; rest us her-of. 2138. All was performed; the improvement is obvious. 2139. F. B. the; rest this. 2149. F. hath thys beste; rest this beste hath. 2150-2153. F. Tn. B. omit from geten to gayler (owing to repetition of gayler). 2150. So C.; T. has getyn he hath; A. Th. gotten hath. 2151. So C. T. Th.; A. has he for hit. 2152. So C. T. A. Th. 2155. C. Ennepye; F. Tn. B. Eunopye or Ennopye; T. Ennopy; A. Ennopie; Th. Enupye. 2160. C. T. A. newe; rest noble. 2161. F. Tn. B. om. ful. 2164. C. dwellede; B. Th. dwelte; Tn. A. dwelt; F. T. dwelleth. 2168. F. Tn. B. om. that. 2182. C. atake; rest y-take. 2184. C. now; T. A. gret; rest om. 2186. C. T. graspeth; A. grapid; rest gropeth. 2188. C. & al hire her. 2193. F. B. omit this line. 2194. C. shynede; T. shynyd; A. schyneth; F. Tn. Th. B. shone. 2199. C. Hadde; T. A. Had; rest Hath. F. Tn. Th. needlessly insert he after that. 2201. F. thy (for his). 2202, 2203. T. omits these lines. 2203. C. Tn. Th. B. Ascaunce; A. Ascances; F. Aschaunce. C. A. that; rest om. 2206. C. I-gon; A. ygone; T. agone; rest goon (gone). 2207. C. T. A. upon; rest on. 2208. C. kyssith; rest kyssed (but read kiste). 2210. C. om. she. 2213. C. thyn; T. A. thy; rest the. C. I-gon; A. y-gone; rest goon (gone). 2214. C. wreche. 2215. So T.; A. that any bote her come; C. that boot here ne come (wrongly); Tn. F. B. that bote none here come (wrongly); see note. 2217. C. myn selue; F. my selfe (read my selven); rest my self. 2221. C. T. A. I telle; rest telle I. 2226, 2227. A. omits these lines. 2226. C. T. Th. this false louer; F. Tn. B. these false lovers. 2227. C. Tn. T. Th. His; F. Hyr; B. Her; but all have him. Perhaps him quyte would give a smoother line.


Incipit Legenda Philomene.

Deus dator formarum.

Thou yiver of the formes, that hast wroght

The faire world, and bare hit in thy thoght


Eternally, or thou thy werk began,

Why madest thou, unto the slaundre of man,

{159}Or—al be that hit was not thy doing,

As for that fyn to make swiche a thing—

Why suffrest thou that Tereus was bore,


That is in love so fals and so forswore,

That, fro this world up to the firste hevene,


Corrumpeth, whan that folk his name nevene?

And, as to me, so grisly was his dede,

That, whan that I his foule story rede,


Myn eyen wexen foule and sore also;

Yit last the venim of so longe ago,

That hit enfecteth him that wol beholde

The story of Tereus, of which I tolde.

Of Trace was he lord, and kin to Marte,


The cruel god that stant with blody darte;

And wedded had he, with a blisful chere,


King Pandiones faire doghter dere,

That highte Progne, flour of her contree,

Thogh Iuno list nat at the feste be,


Ne Ymeneus, that god of wedding is;

But at the feste redy been, y-wis,

The furies three, with alle hir mortel brond.

The owle al night aboute the balkes wond,

That prophet is of wo and of mischaunce.


This revel, ful of songe and ful of daunce,

Lasteth a fourtenight, or litel lasse.


But, shortly of this story for to passe,

For I am wery of him for to telle,

Five yeer his wyf and he togeder dwelle,


Til on a day she gan so sore longe

To seen her suster, that she saw nat longe,

That for desyr she niste what to seye.

But to her husband gan she for to preye,

{160}For goddes love, that she moste ones goon


Her suster for to seen, and come anoon,

Or elles, but she moste to her wende,


She preyde him, that he wolde after her sende;

And this was, day by day, al her prayere

With al humblesse of wyfhood, word, and chere.


This Tereus let make his shippes yare,

And into Grece him-self is forth y-fare

Unto his fader in lawe, and gan him preye

To vouche-sauf that, for a month or tweye,

That Philomene, his wyves suster, mighte


On Progne his wyf but ones have a sighte—

'And she shal come to yow again anoon.


Myself with her wol bothe come and goon,

And as myn hertes lyf I wol her kepe.'

This olde Pandion, this king, gan wepe


For tendernesse of herte, for to leve

His doghter goon, and for to yive her leve;

Of al this world he lovede no-thing so;

But at the laste leve hath she to go.

For Philomene, with salte teres eke,


Gan of her fader grace to beseke

To seen her suster, that her longeth so;


And him embraceth with her armes two.

And therwith-al so yong and fair was she

That, whan that Terëus saw her beautee,


And of array that ther was noon her liche,

And yit of bountee was she two so riche,

He caste his fyry herte upon her so

That he wol have her, how so that hit go,

And with his wyles kneled and so preyde,


Til at the laste Pandion thus seyde:—

'Now, sone,' quod he, 'that art to me so dere,


I thee betake my yonge doghter here,

{161}That bereth the key of al my hertes lyf.

And grete wel my doghter and thy wyf,


And yive her leve somtyme for to pleye,

That she may seen me ones er I deye.'

And soothly, he hath mad him riche feste,

And to his folk, the moste and eek the leste,

That with him com; and yaf him yiftes grete,


And him conveyeth through the maister-strete

Of Athenes, and to the see him broghte,


And turneth hoom; no malice he ne thoghte.

The ores pulleth forth the vessel faste,

And into Trace arriveth at the laste,


And up into a forest he her ledde,

And to a cave privily him spedde;

And, in this derke cave, yif her leste,

Or leste noght, he bad her for to reste;

Of whiche her herte agroos, and seyde thus,


'Wher is my suster, brother Tereus?'

And therwith-al she wepte tenderly,


And quook for fere, pale and pitously,

Right as the lamb that of the wolf is biten;

Or as the colver, that of the egle is smiten,


And is out of his clawes forth escaped,

Yet hit is afered and awhaped

Lest hit be hent eft-sones, so sat she.

But utterly hit may non other be.

By force hath he, this traitour, doon that dede,


That he hath reft her of her maydenhede,

Maugree her heed, by strengthe and by his might.


Lo! here a dede of men, and that a right!

She cryeth 'suster!' with ful loude stevene,

And 'fader dere!' and 'help me, god in hevene!'


Al helpeth nat; and yet this false theef

Hath doon this lady yet a more mischeef,

{162}For fere lest she sholde his shame crye,

And doon him openly a vilanye,

And with his swerd her tong of kerveth he,


And in a castel made her for to be

Ful privily in prison evermore,


And kepte her to his usage and his store,

So that she mighte him nevermore asterte.

O sely Philomene! wo is thyn herte;


God wreke thee, and sende thee thy bone!

Now is hit tyme I make an ende sone.

This Tereus is to his wyf y-come,

And in his armes hath his wyf y-nome,

And pitously he weep, and shook his heed,


And swor her that he fond her suster deed;

For which this sely Progne hath swich wo,


That ny her sorweful herte brak a-two;

And thus in teres lete I Progne dwelle,

And of her suster forth I wol yow telle.


This woful lady lerned had in youthe

So that she werken and enbrouden couthe,

And weven in her stole the radevore

As hit of women hath be woned yore.

And, shortly for to seyn, she hath her fille


Of mete and drink, and clothing at her wille,

And coude eek rede, and wel y-nogh endyte,


But with a penne coude she nat wryte;

But lettres can she weven to and fro,

So that, by that the yeer was al a-go,


She had y-woven in a stamin large

{163}How she was broght from Athenes in a barge,

And in cave how that she was broght;

And al the thing that Tereus hath wroght,

She waf hit wel, and wroot the story above,


How she was served for her suster love;

And to a knave a ring she yaf anoon,


And prayed him, by signes, for to goon

Unto the quene, and beren her that clooth,

And by signes swor him many an ooth,


She sholde him yeve what she geten mighte.

This knave anoon unto the quene him dighte,

And took hit her, and al the maner tolde.

And, whan that Progne hath this thing beholde,

No word she spak, for sorwe and eek for rage;


But feyned her to goon on pilgrimage

To Bachus temple; and, in a litel stounde,


Her dombe suster sitting hath she founde,

Weping in the castel her aloon.

Allas! the wo, the compleint, and the moon


That Progne upon her dombe suster maketh!

In armes everich of hem other taketh,

And thus I lete hem in hir sorwe dwelle.

The remenant is no charge for to telle,

For this is al and som, thus was she served,


That never harm a-gilte ne deserved

Unto this cruel man, that she of wiste.


Ye may be war of men, yif that yow liste.

For, al be that he wol nat, for his shame,

Doon so as Tereus, to lese his name,


Ne serve yow as a mordrour or a knave,

Ful litel whyle shul ye trewe him have,

{164}That wol I seyn, al were he now my brother,


But hit so be that he may have non other.

Explicit Legenda Philomene.

[Go to Legend of Phyllis]

Title. From F. After which, F. has Deus dator formatorum; B. has Deus dator formarum. 2233. C. T. A. fyn; rest fende. 2239. C. A. his; F. Tn. B. this. T. that sorrowfull story. 2241. F. B. laste (error for last); Tn. A. laft (!); C. lestyth; T. Th. lasteth. 2242. C. T. A. it; rest om. C. wele; T. wyll; Add. (12524) woll; rest wolde. 2243. B. Th. Tereus; A. Tireus; C. Therius; T. Thereus; F. Teseus; Tn. Theseus (!). [Of which I tolde = whom I mentioned (l. 2234).] See next line. 2246. C. T. A. a; rest om. 2249. C. T. A. lyst; Th. lyste; F. Tn. B. baste (!). 2252, 2253. C. Tn. A. brond, wond; rest bronde, wonde. 2256. A. Lestith; rest Laste (Last). 2277. All but C. T. badly insert I after her. 2282. T. C. loueth. 2285. F. B. Tn. for; rest of. 2286. So F. Tn. Th. B.; C. T. she loueth so; A. sche loued so. 2287-92. T. omits. 2291. B. bounte; F. bounde (error for bounte); rest beaute (but see l. 2289). A. twys; Th. to; rest two (twoo); see 736. 2294. C. wilis he so fayre hire preyede. 2297. C. T. A. here; rest repeat dere. 2301. C. Tn. T. er; rest or. 2311. F. T. in-to; rest to. 2314. Tn. a-groos; A. agros; Th. agrose; F. agrosse; T. agrysyd; C. aros (!). 2316. C. Tn. Th. B. wepte; F. wepe; T. wepyd. 2319. F. Tn. Or of; B. Or; rest Or as. 2320. F. Tn. B. om. his. 2324. C. he; rest om. 2325. F. Tn. B. om. of her. 2328. F. B. longe; rest loude. 2329. C. A. and; rest om. 2332. F. B. Tn. ferde; A. fered; rest fere. 2334. A. C. kerveth; T. kutteth; rest kerf (kerfe). 2338. So C. T. A.; Th. she ne might (om. him). F. Tn. B. omit this line and have a spurious line after 2339. 2339. C. T. A. is; F. Tn. Th. B. is in. 2345. C. say (for fond). 2346. F. B. the (for this). 2350. C. T. A. lerned; rest y-lerned. 2352. F. Tn. Th. B. om. her. F. Tn. T. Th. B. radeuore (or radenore); C. radyuore (or radynore); A. raduor. 2353. F. wore (error for yore); rest yore. 2355. C. T. A. and; rest of. 2356. C. A. coude; rest kouthe (couthe, couth). P. Tn. Th. B. put and after y-nogh. 2357. C. A. coude she: T. couthe she; rest she kouthe (couth, coulde). 2359. All but T. A. om. 2nd that. F. (only) om. al. 2360. A. C. ywouen; rest wouen (woued). C. T. A. stamyn; rest stames. 2364. C. waf; Tn. B. wafe; rest waue (wave). 2369. F. Tn. Th. B. signe; rest signes. C. swor hym; T. sware she; A. suore; Th. swore; F. B. sworne (!); Tn. sworen (!). 2375. C. Th. on; T. A. in; F. Tn. B. a. 2378. Tn. her; C. here (for her); A. all hir; F. T. Th. B. hir self. 2379. So A.; so T. (omitting 3rd the); C. Allas the compleynt the wo & the mone; F. Th. Allas the wo constreynt (!) and the mone. 2380. So all. 2388. C. his; rest om. 2389. C. so; rest om. 2390. B. mordrer; F. morderere; Th. murtherer; C. T. A. morderour; Tn. mordroure. 2393. C. T. A. non othir; rest a-nother (!).


Incipit Legenda Phillis.

By preve as wel as by auctoritee,


That wikked fruit cometh of a wikked tree,

That may ye finde, if that it lyketh yow.

But for this ende I speke this as now,

To telle you of false Demophon.

In love a falser herde I never non,


But-if hit were his fader Theseus.

'God, for his grace, fro swich oon kepe us!'

Thus may thise women prayen that hit here.


Now to theffect turne I of my matere.

Destroyed is of Troye the citee;


This Demophon com sailing in the see

Toward Athenes, to his paleys large;

With him com many a ship and many a barge

Ful of his folk, of which ful many oon

Is wounded sore, and seek, and wo begoon.


And they han at the sege longe y-lain.

Behinde him com a wind and eek a rain

That shoof so sore, his sail ne mighte stonde,


Him were lever than al the world a-londe,

So hunteth him the tempest to and fro.


So derk hit was, he coude nowher go;

And with a wawe brosten was his stere.

His ship was rent so lowe, in swich manere,

{165}That carpenter ne coude hit nat amende.

The see, by nighte, as any torche brende


For wood, and posseth him now up now doun,

Til Neptune hath of him compassioun,

And Thetis, Chorus, Triton, and they alle,


And maden him upon a lond to falle,

Wher-of that Phillis lady was and quene,


Ligurgus doghter, fairer on to sene

Than is the flour again the brighte sonne.

Unnethe is Demophon to londe y-wonne,

Wayk and eek wery, and his folk for-pyned

Of werinesse, and also enfamyned;


And to the deeth he almost was y-driven.

His wyse folk to conseil han him yiven

To seken help and socour of the queen,


And loken what his grace mighte been,

And maken in that lond som chevisaunce,


To kepen him fro wo and fro mischaunce.

For seek was he, and almost at the deeth;

Unnethe mighte he speke or drawe his breeth,

And lyth in Rodopeya him for to reste.

Whan he may walke, him thoughte hit was the beste


Unto the court to seken for socour.

Men knewe him wel, and diden him honour;

For at Athenes duk and lord was he,


As Theseus his fader hadde y-be,

That in his tyme was of greet renoun,


No man so greet in al his regioun;

And lyk his fader of face and of stature,

And fals of love; hit com him of nature;

{166}As doth the fox Renard, the foxes sone,

Of kinde he coude his olde faders wone


Withoute lore, as can a drake swimme,

Whan hit is caught and caried to the brimme.

This honourable Phillis doth him chere,


Her lyketh wel his port and his manere.

But for I am agroted heer-biforn


To wryte of hem that been in love forsworn,

And eek to haste me in my legende,

Which to performe god me grace sende,

Therfor I passe shortly in this wyse;

Ye han wel herd of Theseus devyse


In the betraising of fair Adriane,

That of her pite kepte him from his bane.

At shorte wordes, right so Demophon


The same wey, the same path hath gon

That dide his false fader Theseus.


For unto Phillis hath he sworen thus,

To wedden her, and her his trouthe plighte,

And piked of her al the good he mighte,

Whan he was hool and sound and hadde his reste;

And doth with Phillis what so that him leste.


And wel coude I, yif that me leste so,

Tellen al his doing to and fro.

He seide, unto his contree moste he saile,


For ther he wolde her wedding apparaile

As fil to her honour and his also.


And openly he took his leve tho,

And hath her sworn, he wolde nat soiorne,

But in a month he wolde again retorne.

And in that lond let make his ordinaunce

As verray lord, and took the obeisaunce


{167}Wel and hoomly, and let his shippes dighte,

And hoom he goth the nexte wey he mighte;

For unto Phillis yit ne com he noght.


And that hath she so harde and sore aboght,

Allas! that, as the stories us recorde,


She was her owne deeth right with a corde,

Whan that she saw that Demophon her trayed.

But to him first she wroot and faste him prayed

He wolde come, and her deliver of peyne,

As I reherse shal a word or tweyne.


Me list nat vouche-sauf on him to swinke,

Ne spende on him a penne ful of inke,

For fals in love was he, right as his syre;


The devil sette hir soules bothe a-fyre!

But of the lettre of Phillis wol I wryte


A word or tweyne, al-thogh hit be but lyte.

'Thyn hostesse,' quod she, 'O Demophon,

Thy Phillis, which that is so wo begon,

Of Rodopeye, upon yow moot compleyne,

Over the terme set betwix us tweyne,


That ye ne holden forward, as ye seyde;

Your anker, which ye in our haven leyde,

Highte us, that ye wolde comen, out of doute,


Or that the mone ones wente aboute.

But tymes foure the mone hath hid her face


Sin thilke day ye wente fro this place,

And foure tymes light the world again.

But for al that, yif I shal soothly sain,

{168}Yit hath the streem of Sitho nat y-broght

From Athenes the ship; yit comth hit noght.


And, yif that ye the terme rekne wolde,

As I or other trewe lovers sholde,

I pleyne not, god wot, beforn my day.'—


But al her lettre wryten I ne may

By ordre, for hit were to me a charge;


Her lettre was right long and ther-to large;

But here and there in ryme I have hit laid,

Ther as me thoughte that she wel hath said.—

She seide, 'thy sailes comen nat again,

Ne to thy word ther nis no fey certein;


But I wot why ye come nat,' quod she;

'For I was of my love to you so free.

And of the goddes that ye han forswore,


Yif that hir vengeance falle on yow therfore,

Ye be nat suffisaunt to bere the peyne.


To moche trusted I, wel may I pleyne,

Upon your linage and your faire tonge,

And on your teres falsly out y-wronge.

How coude ye wepe so by craft?' quod she;

'May ther swiche teres feyned be?


Now certes, yif ye wolde have in memorie,

Hit oghte be to yow but litel glorie

To have a sely mayde thus betrayed!


To god,' quod she, 'preye I, and ofte have prayed,

That hit be now the grettest prys of alle,


And moste honour that ever yow shal befalle!

And whan thyn olde auncestres peynted be,

In which men may hir worthinesse see,

{169}Than, preye I god, thou peynted be also,

That folk may reden, for-by as they go,


"Lo! this is he, that with his flaterye

Betrayed hath and doon her vilanye

That was his trewe love in thoghte and dede!"


But sothly, of oo point yit may they rede,

That ye ben lyk your fader as in this;


For he begyled Adriane, y-wis,

With swiche an art and swiche sotelte

As thou thy-selven hast begyled me.

As in that point, al-thogh hit be nat fayr,

Thou folwest him, certein, and art his eyr.


But sin thus sinfully ye me begyle,

My body mote ye seen, within a whyle,

Right in the haven of Athenes fletinge,


With-outen sepulture and buryinge;

Thogh ye ben harder then is any stoon.'


And, whan this lettre was forth sent anoon,

And knew how brotel and how fals he was,

She for dispeyr for-dide herself, allas!

Swich sorwe hath she, for she besette her so.

Be war, ye women, of your sotil fo,


Sin yit this day men may ensample see;


And trusteth, as in love, no man but me.

Explicit Legenda Phillis.

[Go to Legend of Hypermnestra]

2400. F. Tn. Th. B. om. if. 2402. F. Tn. Th. B. om. may. 2408. C. his; rest om. 2409. C. sek (read seek); rest seke. 2410. A. Th. the sege; F. Tn. B. a sege; T. sege; C. thasege (good). 2412. C. T. A. ne myghte; rest myght not. 2418. C. A. ne; T. noon; rest om. 2420. A. So wood. C. A. now vp now doun; T. now vp and doun; rest vp and doun. 2422. Th. Chorus; T. Thora; rest Thorus (see note). F. Tn. B. om. Triton. 2423. F. Th. B. vp; rest vp-on. 2425. A. B. Ligurgus; C. Tn. T. Ligurges; Th. Lycurgus; F. Bygurgus (error for Lygurgus). 2430. C. That (for And). C. almost was (better than was almost in the rest). 2435. C. T. A. To; rest And. 2437. C. T. A. his; rest om. 2438. A. om. for. 2440. C. T. A. court; rest contree. 2443. F. Tn. Th. B. hath. 2444. C. T. A. of gret; rest grete of. 2445. C. of (for in). C. the; T. A. that; rest his. 2449. C. owene (for olde). 2452. A. phillis; C. Philes; Th. T. quene Phillis; rest quene. 2453. F. B. And; rest Her (Hire, Hir). 2454. A. Th. agroted; B. agrotyd; C. agrotyed; F. Tn. agroteyd; T. agroteyed. 2455. C. T. ben in love; A. ar of loue; rest in loue ben. 2459. C. T. A. deuyse; F. Tn. B. the nyse (sic); Th. the gyse. 2470, 1. T. I couthe ryght well, yef that hyt lykyd me Tell all hys doyng; but hyt ys vanyte. 2472. C. T. vnto; A. into; rest to. F. Th. B. him; rest he. 2475. F. B. omit. 2476. C. hath hire sworn; A. hath to hir suorn; Tn. to her sworne; F. T. Th. B. to hir swore. 2477. So C. A.; F. Tn. Th. B. ageyn he wolde. 2480. C. homly; F. T. B. homely; A. huimly; Tn. humble; Th. hombly. C. let; rest om. 2482. C. ne; rest om. 2483. A. C. Th. abought; F. Tn. B. yboght. 2484. F. Tn. B. om. as. A. T. stories; rest story (but this would require recordeth; indeed, C. has recordith!). 2485. C. T. A. ryght; rest om. 2487. F. Tn. Th. B. But firste wrote she to hym. 2488. C. T. A. hire delyuere; rest delyuer hir. F. pyne (error for peyne). 2489. F. B. oo; Tn. one; rest a; see l. 2495. 2491. C. T. A. Ne spende; rest Dispenden. 2493. C. a fere; T. afyre; A. in fyre; F. Tn. Th. B. on a fire (badly). 2496. C. Ostesse thyn. T. A. o thow Demophon. 2498. F. Tn. B. om. moot. 2504. F. Tn. B. om. hid. 2505. Th. thylke; C. F. Tn. B. that thilke (!); A. that ilke; T. that. 2506, 7. C. omits. 2506. A. hath lycht this. 2507. T. yef; A. if; F. B. Th. yet (error for yef); Tn. yit (error for yif). 2508. C. storm (error for streem); rest streme. Th. Scython; C. B. Sytoye; A. Cytoye; T. Sitoy; F. Tn. Sitoio (Ovid has Sithonis unda). T. y-brought; rest broght (brought). 2509. C. comyth it; T. A. cometh; F. Tn. B. come hit; Th. came it. 2517. C. A. wel hath; rest hath wel. 2518. C. T. A. thyne (thy); rest the. C. come; T. comen; F. Tn. Th. B. cometh. 2519. C. T. A. thyn (thy); rest the. 2523. C. T. A. Yif (only); F. Tn. Th. B. That (only); but read Yif that. 2525. C. T. A. pleyne; rest seyne (!). 2527. C. I-wronge; A. yronne (error for ywronge); F. Tn. Th. B. wronge. 2529. A. Quhethir ther may (but this is Scottish). 2532. All mayde. 2539. C. T. A. for by; rest forth by. 2546. A. C. T. subtilitee. 2549. C. T. A. him; rest om. A. has lost ll. 2551-2616. 2555. F. Tn. B. om. sent. 2561. So C. T.; so Tn. Th. (with now for as); F. B. And as in love truste no man but me.


Incipit Legenda Ypermistre.

In Grece whylom weren brethren two,

Of whiche that oon was called Danao,

That many a sone hath of his body wonne,


As swiche false lovers ofte conne.

{170}Among his sones alle ther was oon

That aldermost he lovede of everichoon.

And whan this child was born, this Danao

Shoop him a name, and called him Lino.


That other brother called was Egiste,


That was of love as fals as ever him liste,

And many a doghter gat he in his lyve;

Of which he gat upon his righte wyve

A doghter dere, and dide her for to calle


Ypermistra, yongest of hem alle;

The whiche child, of her nativitee,

To alle gode thewes born was she,

As lyked to the goddes, or she was born,

That of the shefe she sholde be the corn;


The Wirdes, that we clepen Destinee,


Hath shapen her that she mot nedes be

Pitouse, sadde, wyse, and trewe as steel;

And to this woman hit accordeth weel.

For, though that Venus yaf her greet beautee,


With Iupiter compouned so was she

That conscience, trouthe, and dreed of shame,

And of her wyfhood for to kepe her name,

This, thoughte her, was felicitee as here.

And rede Mars was, that tyme of the yere,


So feble, that his malice is him raft,


Repressed hath Venus his cruel craft;

What with Venus and other oppressioun

Of houses, Mars his venim is adoun,

That Ypermistra dar nat handle a knyf


In malice, thogh she sholde lese her lyf.

But natheles, as heven gan tho turne,

To badde aspectes hath she of Saturne,

That made her for to deyen in prisoun,

As I shal after make mencioun.


{171}To Danao and Egistes also—


Al-thogh so be that they were brethren two,

For thilke tyme nas spared no linage

Hit lyked hem to maken mariage

Betwix Ypermistra and him Lino,


And casten swiche a day hit shal be so;

And ful acorded was hit witterly;

The array is wroght, the tyme is faste by.

And thus Lino hath of his fadres brother

The doghter wedded, and eche of hem hath other.


The torches brennen and the lampes brighte,


The sacrifices been ful redy dighte;

Thencens out of the fyre reketh sote,

The flour, the leef is rent up by the rote

To maken garlands and corounes hye;


Ful is the place of soun of minstralcye,

Of songes amorous of mariage,

As thilke tyme was the pleyn usage.

And this was in the paleys of Egiste,

That in his hous was lord, right as him liste;


And thus the day they dryven to an ende;


The frendes taken leve, and hoom they wende.

The night is come, the bryd shal go to bedde;

Egiste to his chambre faste him spedde,

And privily he let his doghter calle.


Whan that the hous was voided of hem alle,

He loked on his doghter with glad chere,

And to her spak, as ye shul after here.

'My righte doghter, tresor of myn herte!

Sin first that day that shapen was my sherte,


Or by the fatal sustren had my dom,


So ny myn herte never thing me com

As thou, myn Ypermistra, doghter dere!

Tak heed what I thy fader sey thee here,

{172}And werk after thy wyser ever-mo.


For alderfirste, doghter, I love thee so

That al the world to me nis half so leef;

Ne I nolde rede thee to thy mischeef

For al the gode under the colde mone;

And what I mene, hit shal be seid right sone,


With protestacioun, as in this wyse,


That, but thou do as I shal thee devyse,

Thou shalt be deed, by him that al hath wroght!

At shorte wordes, thou nescapest noght

Out of my paleys, or that thou be deed,


But thou consente and werke after my reed;

Tak this to thee for ful conclusioun.'

This Ypermistra caste her eyen doun,

And quook as dooth the leef of aspe grene;

Deed wex her hewe, and lyk as ash to sene,


And seyde, 'lord and fader, al your wille,


After my might, god wot, I shal fulfille,

So hit to me be no confusioun.'

'I nil,' quod he, 'have noon excepcioun;'

And out he caughte a knyf, as rasour kene;


'Hyd this,' quod he, 'that hit be nat y-sene;

And, whan thyn husbond is to bedde y-go,

Whyl that he slepeth, cut his throte a-two.

For in my dremes hit is warned me

How that my nevew shal my bane be,


But whiche I noot, wherfor I wol be siker.


Yif thou sey nay, we two shul have a biker

As I have seyd, by him that I have sworn.'

This Ypermistra hath ny her wit forlon;

And, for to passen harmles of that place,


She graunted him; ther was non other grace.

And therwith-al a costrel taketh he,

And seyde, 'herof a draught, or two or three,

{173}Yif him to drinke, whan he goth to reste,

And he shal slepe as longe as ever thee leste,


The narcotiks and opies been so stronge:


And go thy wey, lest that him thinke longe.'

Out comth the bryd, and with ful sober chere,

As is of maidens ofte the manere,

To chambre is broght with revel and with songe,


And shortly, lest this tale be to longe,

This Lino and she ben sone broght to bedde;

And every wight out at the dore him spedde.

The night is wasted, and he fel a-slepe;

Ful tenderly beginneth she to wepe.


She rist her up, and dredfully she quaketh,


As doth the braunche that Zephirus shaketh,

And husht were alle in Argon that citee.

As cold as any frost now wexeth she;

For pite by the herte her streyneth so,


And dreed of death doth her so moche wo,

That thryes doun she fil in swiche a were.

She rist her up, and stakereth heer and there,

And on her handes faste loketh she.

'Allas! and shul my handes blody be?


I am a maid, and, as by my nature,


And by my semblant and by my vesture,

Myn handes been nat shapen for a knyf,

As for to reve no man fro his lyf.

What devil have I with the knyf to do?


And shal I have my throte corve a-two?

Than shal I blede, allas! and me beshende;

And nedes cost this thing mot have an ende;

Or he or I mot nedes lese our lyf.

Now certes,' quod she, 'sin I am his wyf,


{174}And hath my feith, yit is it bet for me


For to be deed in wyfly honestee

Than be a traitour living in my shame.

Be as be may, for ernest or for game,

He shal awake, and ryse and go his way


Out at this goter, or that hit be day!'—

And weep ful tenderly upon his face,

And in her armes gan him to embrace,

And him she roggeth and awaketh softe;

And at the window leep he fro the lofte


Whan she hath warned him, and doon him bote.


This Lino swifte was, and light of fote,

And from his wyf he ran a ful good pas.

This sely woman is so wayk, allas!

And helples so, that, or that she fer wente,


Her cruel fader dide her for to hente.

Allas! Lino! why art thou so unkinde?

Why ne haddest thou remembred in thy minde

To taken her, and lad her forth with thee?

For, whan she saw that goon awey was he,


And that she mighte nat so faste go,


Ne folwen him, she sette her doun right tho,

Til she was caught and fetered in prisoun.

This tale is seid for this conclusioun....


[Go to Treatise on the Astrolabe]

2563. C. clepid; rest called. 2571. F. B. in; rest of. 2574. F. B. hyt (for her). 2577. C. T. thewis goode I-born. 2578. Tn. B. goddesse (!); F. goddesses (!). 2581. C. mot; rest moste (muste, most). 2582. F. B. Pitouse (fem.); C. Pyetous; Tn. T. Piteous. Th. sadde (fem.?); rest sad. C. T. and; rest om. 2590. C. beraft. 2592. Th. And what; C. T. That what; F. Tn. B. And; I propose What. 2597. C. F. Tn. B. To; T. Ryght; Th. Two. 2598. C. for; rest om. 2599. C. T. As; rest And. 2600. Th. Of (for To); without authority. 2601. C. Al thow; rest And thogh (less clearly). 2603. T. C. Th. lyked; rest lyketh. 2606. F. Tn. B. witterly; rest vttyrly. 2615. F. Tn. B. om. of soun. 2619. F. Tn. B. om. right. 2620. F. Tn. Th. B. that (for the). 2624. F. Tn. Th. B. om. he. 2625. F. Tn. Th. B. voided was. F. B. om. hem. 2627. F. om. after. 2629. F. om. 1st that. 2632. C. myn; T. A. ins. my before doghter; rest om. 2633. F. Tn. Th. B. om. I. T. say; A. seye; rest seyth. 2637. C. A., I; rest om. 2640. C. A. as in this; T. now on thys; F. Tn. Th. B. as seyn these. 2643. C. nescapist; Tn. Th. B. ne scapest; F. ne schapest (!). 2652. F. Tn. Th. B. be to me. 2655. Tn. Th. y-sene; rest sene. 2656. Tn. y-goo; A. ygo; rest goo (go). 2661. F. make; rest haue. 2666. So C. T. A. (but with costret for costrel); rest And with-al a costrel taketh he tho (badly). 2667. F. Tn. Th. B. om. or three (leaving the line too short). 2668. A. to; rest om. 2670. F. B. Martotikes (for narcotikes). T. A. opies; C. opijs; Th. apies; F. Tn. B. Epies (for opies). 2671. F. Tn. Th. B. ins. to before longe. 2674. F. Tn. Th. B. om. is. 2676. F. B. beth. T. sone byn; rest om. sone. C. a (for to). 2682. F. hushst (for husht); Th. hushte; C. A. hust; Tn. houste. 2684. F. Tn. B. streyneth hir; Th. strayned her; C. T. hire streynyth; A. hir stryngith. 2686. F. Th. B. swich (suche) a were; Tn. suche awere; C. this awer; A. this awere; T. that were. 2689. F. Tn. Th. B. om. and. 2696. F. Tn. Th. B. om. me. 2697. F. B. (only) Or for And. 2709. C. T. A. at a (for at the). 2712. So T. A.; C. from his wif ran; rest from her ran. 2714. C. A. or that; rest om. that. C. forth (for fer). 2717. C. T. haddist; rest hast. 2718. C. T. To; rest And. 2721. Addit (12524), sette hyr; C. set hire; T. A. sat hyr; rest sate (om. her). 2722. F. Tn. Th. And til (for Til); B. And then.




Litell Lowis my sone, I have perceived wel by certeyne

evidences thyn abilite to lerne sciencez touchinge noumbres

and proporciouns; and as wel considere I thy bisy preyere in

special to lerne the Tretis of the Astrolabie. Than, for as mechel


as a philosofre seith, 'he wrappeth him in his frend, that condescendeth

to the rightful preyers of his frend,' ther-for have I

geven thee a suffisaunt Astrolabie as for oure orizonte, compowned

after the latitude of Oxenford; up-on which, by mediacion of this

litel tretis, I purpose to teche thee a certein nombre of conclusions


apertening to the same instrument. I seye a certein of conclusiouns,

for three causes. The furste cause is this: truste wel that alle the

conclusiouns that han ben founde, or elles possibly mighten be

founde in so noble an instrument as an Astrolabie, ben un-knowe

perfitly to any mortal man in this regioun, as I suppose. A-nother


cause is this; that sothly, in any tretis of the Astrolabie that I have

seyn, there ben some conclusions that wole nat in alle thinges

performen hir bihestes; and some of hem ben to harde to thy

tendre age of ten yeer to conseyve. This tretis, divided in fyve

{176a}parties, wole I shewe thee under ful lighte rewles and naked


wordes in English; for Latin ne canstow yit but smal, my lyte

sone. But natheles, suffyse to thee thise trewe conclusiouns in

English, as wel as suffyseth to thise noble clerkes Grekes thise same

conclusiouns in Greek, and to Arabiens in Arabik, and to Iewes in

Ebrew, and to the Latin folk in Latin; whiche Latin folk han hem


furst out of othre diverse langages, and writen in hir owne tonge,

that is to sein, in Latin. And god wot, that in alle thise langages,

and in many mo, han thise conclusiouns ben suffisantly lerned and

taught, and yit by diverse rewles, right as diverse pathes leden

diverse folk the righte wey to Rome. Now wol I prey meekly


every discret persone that redeth or hereth this litel tretis, to have

my rewde endyting for excused, and my superfluite of wordes, for

two causes. The firste cause is, for that curious endyting and hard

sentence is ful hevy atones for swich a child to lerne. And the

seconde cause is this, that sothly me semeth betre to wryten un-to


a child twyes a good sentence, than he for-gete it ones. And

Lowis, yif so be that I shewe thee in my lighte English as trewe

conclusiouns touching this matere, and naught only as trewe but

as many and as subtil conclusiouns as ben shewed in Latin in any

commune tretis of the Astrolabie, con me the more thank; and


preye god save the king, that is lord of this langage, and alle that

him feyth bereth and obeyeth, everech in his degree, the more and

the lasse. But considere wel, that I ne usurpe nat to have founde

this werk of my labour or of myn engin. I nam but a lewd compilatour

of the labour of olde Astrologiens, and have hit translated


in myn English only for thy doctrine; and with this swerd shal I

sleen envye.

I. The firste partie of this tretis shal reherse the figures and the

membres of thyn Astrolabie, bi-cause that thou shalt han the

grettre knowing of thyn owne instrument.


{177a}II. The second partie shal teche thee werken the verrey

practik of the forseide conclusiouns, as ferforth and as narwe

as may be shewed in so smal an instrument portatif aboute.

For wel wot every astrologien that smalest fraccions ne wol

nat ben shewed in so smal an instrument, as in subtil tables


calculed for a cause.

III. The thridde partie shal contienen diverse tables of

longitudes and latitudes of sterres fixe for the Astrolabie, and

tables of declinacions of the sonne, and tables of longitudes

of citeez and of townes; and as wel for the governance of a


clokke as for to finde the altitude meridian; and many another

notable conclusioun, after the kalendres of the reverent clerkes,

frere I. Somer and frere N. Lenne.

IV. The ferthe partie shal ben a theorik to declare the

moevinge of the celestial bodies with the causes. The whiche


ferthe partie in special shal shewen a table of the verray

moeving of the mone from houre to houre, every day and in

every signe, after thyn almenak; upon which table ther folwith

a canon, suffisant to teche as wel the maner of the wyrking of

that same conclusioun, as to knowe in oure orizonte with which


degree of the zodiac that the mone ariseth in any latitude;

and the arising of any planete after his latitude fro the ecliptik


V. The fifte partie shal ben an introductorie after the statutz

of oure doctours, in which thou maist lerne a gret part of the


general rewles of theorik in astrologie. In which fifte partie

shaltow finde tables of equacions of houses aftur the latitude of

Oxenford; and tables of dignetes of planetes, and other noteful

thinges, yif god wol vouche-sauf and his modur the mayde, mo

than I be-hete, &c.



Here biginneth the descripcion of the Astrolabie.

1. Thyn Astrolabie hath a ring to putten on the thoumbe of

thy right hand in taking the heighte of thinges. And tak keep, for

from hennes-forthward, I wol clepe the heighte of any thing that

is taken by thy rewle, the altitude, with-oute mo wordes.

2. This ring renneth in a maner turet, fast to the moder of

thyn Astrolabie, in so rowm a space that hit desturbeth nat the

instrument to hangen after his righte centre.

3. The Moder of thyn Astrolabie is the thikkeste plate, perced

with a large hole, that resseyveth in hir wombe the thinne plates

compowned for diverse clymatz, and thy riet shapen in manere

of a net or of a webbe of a loppe; and for the more declaracioun,


lo here the figure.

4. This moder is devyded on the bak-half with a lyne, that

cometh dessendinge fro the ring down to the nethereste bordure.

The whiche lyne, fro the for-seide ring un-to the centre of the

large hole amidde, is cleped the south lyne, or elles the lyne


meridional. And the remenant of this lyne downe to the bordure

is cleped the north lyne, or elles the lyne of midnight. And for

the more declaracioun, lo here the figure.

{179a}5. Over-thwart this for-seide longe lyne, ther crosseth him

another lyne of the same lengthe from est to west. Of the

whiche lyne, from a litel croys + in the bordure un-to the centre

of the large hole, is cleped the Est lyne, or elles the lyne Orientale;


and the remenant of this lyne fro the forseide + un-to the bordure,

is cleped the West lyne, or the lyne Occidentale. Now hastow

here the foure quarters of thin Astrolabie, devyded after the foure

principals plages or quarters of the firmament. And for the more

declaracioun, lo here thy figure.

6. The est side of thyn Astrolabie is cleped the right side, and

the west side is cleped the left side. Forget nat this, litel Lowis.

Put the ring of thyn Astrolabie upon the thoumbe of thy right

hand, and thanne wole his right syde be toward thy left syde, and


his left syde wol be toward thy right syde; tak this rewle general,

as wel on the bak as on the wombe-side. Upon the ende of this

est lyne, as I first seide, is marked a litel +, wher-as evere-mo

generaly is considered the entring of the first degree in which the

sonne aryseth. And for the more declaracioun, lo here the



7. Fro this litel + up to the ende of the lyne meridional, under

the ring, shaltow finden the bordure devyded with 90 degrees;

and by that same proporcioun is every quarter of thin Astrolabie

devyded. Over the whiche degrees ther ben noumbres of augrim,


that devyden thilke same degrees fro fyve to fyve, as sheweth by

longe strykes by-twene. Of whiche longe strykes the space by-twene

contienith a mile-wey. And every degree of the bordure

contieneth foure minutes, that is to seyn, minutes of an houre.

And for more declaracioun, lo here the figure.

8. Under the compas of thilke degrees ben writen the names of

the Twelve Signes, as Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo,

{180a}Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricornus, Aquarius, Pisces; and

the nombres of the degrees of tho signes ben writen in augrim


above, and with longe devisiouns, fro fyve to fyve; devyded fro

tyme that the signe entreth un-to the laste ende. But understond

wel, that thise degrees of signes ben everich of hem considered

of 60 minutes, and every minute of 60 secondes, and so

forth in-to smale fraccions infinit, as seith Alkabucius. And


ther-for, know wel, that a degree of the bordure contieneth foure

minutes, and a degree of a signe contieneth 60 minutes, and

have this in minde. And for the more declaracioun, lo here

thy figure.

9. Next this folweth the Cercle of the Dayes, that ben figured

in maner of degrees, that contienen in noumbre 365; divyded

also with longe strykes fro fyve to fyve, and the nombres in

augrim writen under that cercle. And for more declaracioun, lo

here thy figure.

10. Next the Cercle of the Dayes, folweth the Cercle of the

names of the Monthes; that is to seyen, Ianuare, Februare,

Marcius, Aprile, Mayus, Iuin, Iulius, Augustus, Septembre,

October, Novembre, Decembre. The names of thise monthes


were cleped in Arabiens, somme for hir propretees, and some by

statutz of lordes, some by other lordes of Rome. Eek of thise

monthes, as lyked to Iulius Cesar and to Cesar Augustus, some

were compowned of diverse nombres of dayes, as Iuil and

August. Thanne hath Ianuare 31 dayes, Februare 28, March


31, Aprille 30, May 31, Iunius 30, Iulius 31, Augustus 31,

September 30, Octobre 31, Novembre 30, December 31.

Natheles, al-though that Iulius Cesar took 2 dayes out of Feverer

and put hem in his moneth of Iuille, and Augustus Cesar cleped

the moneth of August after his name, and ordeyned it of 31 dayes,


{181a}yit truste wel, that the sonne dwelleth ther-for nevere the more ne

lesse in oon signe than in another.

11. Than folwen the names of the Halidayes in the Kalender,

and next hem the lettres of the Abc. on which they fallen. And

for the more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.

12. Next the forseide Cercle of the Abc., under the cros-lyne,

is marked the scale, in maner of two squyres, or elles in manere

of laddres, that serveth by hise 12 poyntes and his devisiouns of

ful many a subtil conclusioun. Of this forseide scale, fro the


croos-lyne un-to the verre angle, is cleped umbra versa, and the

nether partie is cleped the umbra recta, or elles umbra extensa.

And for the more declaracioun, lo here the figure.

13. Thanne hastow a brood Rewle, that hath on either ende a

square plate perced with a certein holes, some more and some

lesse, to resseyven the stremes of the sonne by day, and eek

by mediacioun of thyn eye, to knowe the altitude of sterres by


nighte. And for the more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.

14. Thanne is ther a large Pyn, in maner of an extree, that

{182a}goth thorow the hole that halt the tables of the clymates and the

riet in the wombe of the Moder, thorw which Pyn ther goth a

litel wegge which that is cleped 'the hors,' that streyneth alle


thise parties to-hepe; this forseide grete Pyn, in maner of an

extree, is imagined to be the Pol Artik in thyn Astrolabie.

And for the more declaracioun, lo here the figure.

15. The wombe-side of thyn Astrolabie is also devyded with a

longe croys in foure quarters from est to west, fro south to north,

fro right syde to left syde, as is the bak-syde. And for the more

declaracioun, lo here thy figure.

16. The bordure of which wombe-side is devyded fro the poynt

of the est lyne un-to the poynt of the south lyne under the ring,

in 90 degres; and by that same proporcioun is every quarter

devyded as is the bak-syde, that amonteth 360 degrees. And


understond wel, that degrees of this bordure ben answering and

consentrik to the degrees of the Equinoxial, that is devyded in

the same nombre as every othere cercle is in the heye hevene.

This same bordure is devyded also with 23 lettres capitals and a

smal croys + above the south lyne, that sheweth the 24 houres


equals of the clokke; and, as I have said, 5 of thise degrees

maken a mile-wey, and 3 mile-wey maken an houre. And every

degree of this bordure conteneth 4 minutes, and every minut 60

secoundes; now have I told thee twye. And for the more

declaracioun, lo here the figure.

17. The plate under thy riet is descryved with 3 principal

{183a}cercles; of which the leste is cleped the cercle of Cancer, by-cause

that the heved of Cancer turneth evermor consentrik up-on

the same cercle. In this heved of Cancer is the grettest declinacioun


northward of the sonne. And ther-for is he cleped the

Solsticioun of Somer; whiche declinacioun, aftur Ptholome, is 23

degrees and 50 minutes, as wel in Cancer as in Capricorne. This

signe of Cancre is cleped the Tropik of Somer, of tropos, that is

to seyn 'agaynward'; for thanne by-ginneth the sonne to passe


fro us-ward. And for the more declaracioun, lo here the figure.

The middel cercle in wydnesse, of thise 3, is cleped the Cercle

Equinoxial; up-on whiche turneth evermo the hedes of Aries and

Libra. And understond wel, that evermo this Cercle Equinoxial

turneth iustly fro verrey est to verrey west; as I have shewed thee


in the spere solide. This same cercle is cleped also the Weyere,

equator, of the day; for whan the sonne is in the hevedes of

Aries and Libra, than ben the dayes and the nightes ilyke of

lengthe in al the world. And ther-fore ben thise two signes

called the Equinoxies. And alle that moeveth with-in the

hevedes of thise Aries and Libra, his moeving is cleped northward;

and alle that moeveth with-oute thise hevedes, his moeving

{184a}is cleped south-ward as fro the equinoxial. Tak keep of thise

latitudes north and sowth, and forget it nat. By this Cercle

Equinoxial ben considered the 24 houres of the clokke; for


everemo the arysing of 15 degrees of the equinoxial maketh an

houre equal of the clokke. This equinoxial is cleped the girdel

of the firste moeving, or elles of the angulus primi motus vel

primi mobilis. And nota, that firste moeving is cleped 'moeving'

of the firste moevable of the 8 spere, whiche moeving is fro est to


west, and eft agayn in-to est; also it is clepid 'girdel' of the first

moeving, for it departeth the firste moevable, that is to seyn, the

spere, in two ilyke parties, evene-distantz fro the poles of this


The wydeste of thise three principal cercles is cleped the


Cercle of Capricorne, by-cause that the heved of Capricorne

turneth evermo consentrik up-on the same cercle. In the heved

of this for-seide Capricorne is the grettest declinacioun southward

of the sonne, and ther-for is it cleped the Solsticioun of Winter.

This signe of Capricorne is also cleped the Tropik of Winter, for


thanne byginneth the sonne to come agayn to us-ward. And for

the more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.

18. Upon this forseide plate ben compassed certein cercles

that highten Almicanteras, of which som of hem semen perfit

cercles, and somme semen inperfit. The centre that standith

a-middes the narwest cercle is cleped the Senith; and the


netherest cercle, or the firste cercle, is clepid the Orisonte, that

is to seyn, the cercle that devydeth the two emisperies, that is,

the partie of the hevene a-bove the erthe and the partie be-nethe.

Thise Almicanteras ben compowned by two and two, al-be-it so

that on divers Astrolabies some Almicanteras ben devyded by oon,


and some by two, and somme by three, after the quantite of the

Astrolabie. This forseide senith is imagened to ben the verrey

point over the crowne of thyn heved; and also this senith is the

{185a}verrey pool of the orisonte in every regioun. And for the

more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.

19. From this senith, as it semeth, ther come a maner crokede

strykes lyke to the clawes of a loppe, or elles like to the werk of a

womanes calle, in kerving overthwart the Almikanteras. And

thise same strykes or divisiouns ben cleped Azimuthz. And they


devyden the orisonte of thyn Astrolabie in four and twenty

devisiouns. And thise Azimutz serven to knowe the costes of the

firmament, and to othre conclusiouns, as for to knowe the cenith

of the sonne and of every sterre. And for more declaracioun, lo

here thy figure.

20. Next thise azimutz, under the Cercle of Cancer, ben ther

twelve devisiouns embelif, moche like to the shap of the azimutes,

that shewen the spaces of the houres of planetes; and for more

declaracioun, lo here thy figure.

21. The Riet of thyn Astrolabie with thy zodiak, shapen in

maner of a net or of a loppe-webbe after the olde descripcioun,

which thow mayst tornen up and doun as thy-self lyketh, conteneth

certein nombre of sterres fixes, with hir longitudes and latitudes


determinat; yif so be that the makere have nat erred. The names

of the sterres ben writen in the margin of the riet ther as they sitte;

of whiche sterres the smale poynt is cleped the Centre. And

understond also that alle sterres sittinge with-in the zodiak of thyn

Astrolabie ben cleped 'sterres of the north,' for they arysen by


northe the est lyne. And alle the remenant fixed, out of the

zodiak, ben cleped 'sterres of the south;' but I sey nat that they

{186a}arysen alle by southe the est lyne; witnesse on Aldeberan and

Algomeysa. Generally understond this rewle, that thilke sterres

that ben cleped sterres of the north arysen rather than the degree


of hir longitude, and alle the sterres of the south arysen after the

degree of hir longitude; this is to seyn, sterres fixed in thyn

Astrolabie. The mesure of this longitude of sterres is taken in the

lyne ecliptik of hevene, under which lyne, whan that the sonne

and the mone ben lyne-right or elles in the superfice of this lyne,


than is the eclips of the sonne or of the mone; as I shal declare,

and eek the cause why. But sothly the Ecliptik Lyne of thy

zodiak is the outtereste bordure of thy zodiak, ther the degrees ben


Thy Zodiak of thyn Astrolabie is shapen as a compas which that


conteneth a large brede, as after the quantite of thyn Astrolabie;

in ensample that the zodiak in hevene is imagened to ben a superfice

contening a latitude of twelve degrees, wheras al the remenant

of cercles in the hevene ben imagined verrey lynes with-oute eny

latitude. Amiddes this celestial zodiak ys imagined a lyne, which


that is cleped the Ecliptik Lyne, under which lyne is evermo the

wey of the sonne. Thus ben ther six degrees of the zodiak on

that on side of the lyne, and six degrees on that other. This

zodiak is devided in twelve principal devisiouns, that departen the

twelve signes. And, for the streitnes of thin Astrolabie, than is


every smal devisioun in a signe departid by two degrees and two;

I mene degrees contening sixty minutes. And this forseide

hevenissh zodiak is cleped the Cercle of the Signes, or the Cercle

of the Bestes; for zodia in langage of Greek sowneth 'bestes' in

Latin tonge; and in the zodiak ben the twelve signes that ban


names of bestes; or elles, for whan the sonne entreth in any of the

signes, he taketh the propretee of swich bestes; or elles, for that

the sterres that ben there fixed ben disposed in signes of bestes,

or shape like bestes; or elles, whan the planetes ben under thilke

{187a}signes, they causen us by hir influence operaciouns and effectes


lyk to the operaciouns of bestes. And understonde also, that whan

an hot planete cometh in-to an hot signe, than encresseth his hete;

and yif a planete be cold, thanne amenuseth his coldnesse, by-cause

of the hote signe. And by this conclusioun maystow take ensample

in alle the signes, be they moist or drye, or moeble or fix; rekening


the qualitee of the planete as I first seide. And everich of

thise twelve signes hath respecte to a certein parcelle of the body

of a man and hath it in governance; as Aries hath thyn heved, and

Taurus thy nekke and thy throte, Gemini thyn armholes and thyn

armes, and so forth; as shal be shewed more pleyn in the fifte


partie of this tretis. This zodiak, which that is part of the eighte

spere, over-kerveth the equinoxial; and he over-kerveth him again

in evene parties; and that on half declineth southward, and that

other northward, as pleynly declareth the tretis of the spere. And

for more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.

22. Thanne hastow a label, that is schapen lyk a rewle, save that

it is streit and hath no plates on either ende with holes; but, with

the smale point of the forseide label, shallow calcule thyne

equaciouns in the bordure of thin Astrolabie, as by thyn almury.


And for the more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.

23. Thyn Almury is cleped the Denticle of Capricorne, or elles

the Calculer. This same Almury sit fix in the bed of Capricorne,

{188a}and it serveth of many a necessarie conclusioun in equaciouns of

thinges, as shal be shewed; and for the more declaracioun, lo here


thy figure.

Here endeth the descripcion of the Astrolabie.


Here biginnen the Conclusions of the Astrolabie.

1. To fynde the degree in which the sonne is day by day, after hir cours a-boute.

[Hic incipiunt Conclusiones Astrolabii; et prima est ad inveniendum gradus solis in quibus singulis diebus secundum cursum sol est existens.]

Rekene and knowe which is the day of thy monthe; and ley

thy rewle up that same day; and thanne wol the verray point of

thy rewle sitten in the bordure, up-on the degree of thy sonne.

Ensample as thus; the yeer of oure lord 1391, the 12 day of


March at midday, I wolde knowe the degree of the sonne. I

soughte in the bak-half of myn Astrolabie, and fond the cercle of

the dayes, the which I knowe by the names of the monthes writen

under the same cercle. Tho leide I my rewle over this forseide

day, and fond the point of my rewle in the bordure up-on the


firste degree of Aries, a litel with-in the degree; and thus knowe

I this conclusioun. Another day, I wolde knowe the degree of

my sonne, and this was at midday in the 13 day of Decembre; I

fond the day of the monthe in maner as I seide; tho leide I my

rewle up-on this forseide 13 day, and fond the point of my rewle


{189a}in the bordure up-on the first degree of Capricorne, a lite with-in

the degree; and than hadde I of this conclusioun the ful

experience. And for the more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.

2. To knowe the altitude of the sonne, or of othre celestial bodies.

[De altitudine solis et aliorum corporum supra celestium.]

Put the ring of thyn Astrolabie up-on thy right thoumbe, and

turne thy lift syde agayn the light of the sonne. And remeve

thy rewle up and doun, til that the stremes of the sonne shyne

thorgh bothe holes of thy rewle. Loke thanne how many degrees


thy rewle is areised fro the litel crois up-on thyn est line, and tak

ther the altitude of thy sonne. And in this same wyse maistow

knowe by nighte the altitude of the mone, or of brighte sterres.

This chapitre is so general ever in oon, that ther nedith no more

declaracion; but forget it nat. And for the more declaracioun,


lo here the figure.

3. To knowe every tyme of the day by light of the sonne, and every tyme of the night by the sterres fixe, and eke to knowe by night or by day the degree of any signe that assendeth on the Est Orisonte, which that is cleped communly the Assendent, or elles Oruscupum.

[Ad cognoscendum quodlibet tempus diei per solis indicacionem, et quodlibet tempus noctis per quasdam stellas in celo fixas; ac eciam ad inveniendum et cognoscendum signum super orizontem qui communiter vocatur ascendens.]

Tak the altitude of the sonne whan thee list, as I have said; and

set the degree of the sonne, in cas that it be by-forn the middel of

the day, among thyn almikanteras on the est side of thyn

Astrolabie; and yif it be after the middel of the day, set the degree


{190a}of thy sonne up-on the west side; tak this manere of setting for a

general rewle, ones for evere. And whan thou hast set the degree

of thy sonne up as many almikanteras of heyghte as was the

altitude of the sonne taken by thy rewle, ley over thy label, up-on

the degree of the sonne; and thanne wol the point of thy label


sitten in the bordure, up-on the verrey tyd of the day. Ensample

as thus: the yeer of oure lord 1391, the 12 day of March, I wold

knowe the tyd of the day. I took the altitude of my sonne, and

fond that it was 25 degrees and 30 of minutes of heyghte in the

bordure on the bak-syde. Tho turnede I myn Astrolabie, and by-cause


that it was by-forn midday, I turnede my riet, and sette the

degree of the sonne, that is to seyn, the 1 degree of Aries, on the

right syde of myn Astrolabie, up-on that 25 degrees and 30 of

minutes of heyghte among myn almikanteras; tho leide I my label

up-on the degree of my sonne, and fond the poynte of my label in


the bordure, up-on a capital lettre that is cleped an X; tho rekened

I alle the capitalles lettres fro the lyne of midnight un-to this forseide

lettre X, and fond that it was 9 of the clokke of the day.

Tho loked I down up-on the est orisonte, and fond there the 20

degree of Geminis assending; which that I tok for myn assendent.


And in this wyse hadde I the experience for ever-mo in which

maner I sholde knowe the tyd of the day, and eek myn assendent.

Tho wolde I wite the same night folwing the hour of the

night, and wroughte in this wyse. Among an heep of sterris fixe,

it lyked me for to take the altitude of the feire white sterre that is


cleped Alhabor; and fond hir sitting on the west side of the lyne

of midday, 18 degres of heighte taken by my rewle on the bak-syde.

Tho sette I the centre of this Alhabor up-on 18 degrees among

myn almikanteras, up-on the west syde; by-cause that she was

{191a}founden on the west syde. Tho leide I my label over the degree


of the sonne that was descended under the weste orisonte, and

rikened alle the lettres capitals fro the lyne of midday un-to the

point of my label in the bordure; and fond that it was passed 8 of

the clokke the space of 2 degrees. Tho loked I doun up-on myn

est orisonte, and fond ther 23 degrees of Libra assending, whom I


tok for myn assendent; and thus lerned I to knowe ones for ever

in which manere I shuld come to the houre of the night and to

myn assendent; as verreyly as may be taken by so smal an instrument.

But natheles, in general, wolde I warne thee for evere, ne

mak thee nevere bold to have take a iust ascendent by thyn


Astrolabie, or elles to have set iustly a clokke, whan any celestial

body by which that thow wenest governe thilke thinges ben ney

the south lyne; for trust wel, whan that the sonne is ney the

meridional lyne, the degree of the sonne renneth so longe consentrik

up-on the almikanteras, that sothly thou shalt erre fro the iust


assendent. The same conclusioun sey I by the centre of any

sterre fix by night; and more-over, by experience, I wot wel that

in oure orisonte, from 11 of the clokke un-to oon of the clokke,

in taking of a iust assendent in a portatif Astrolabie, hit is to hard

to knowe. I mene, from 11 of the clokke biforn the houre of


noon til oon of the clok next folwing. And for the more declaracion,

lo here thy figure.

4. Special declaracion of the assendent.

[Specialis declaracio de ascendente.]

The assendent sothly, as wel in alle nativitez as in questiouns

and elecciouns of tymes, is a thing which that thise astrologiens

gretly observen; wher-fore me semeth convenient, sin that I

speke of the assendent, to make of it special declaracioun. The


assendent sothly, to take it at the largeste, is thilke degree that

{192a}assendeth at any of thise forseide tymes upon the est orisonte;

and there-for, yif that any planet assende at that same tyme in

thilke for-seide degree of his longitude, men seyn that thilke

planete is in horoscopo. But sothly, the hous of the assendent,


that is to seyn, the firste hous or the est angle, is a thing more

brood and large. For after the statutz of astrologiens, what

celestial body that is 5 degres above thilk degree that assendeth,

or with-in that noumbre, that is to seyn, nere the degree that

assendeth, yit rikne they thilke planet in the assendent. And


what planete that is under thilke degree that assendith the space

of 25 degrees, yit seyn they that thilke planete is lyk to him that

is in the hous of the assendent; but sothly, yif he passe the

bondes of thise forseide spaces, above or bynethe, they seyn

that the planete is failling fro the assendent. Yit sein thise


astrologiens, that the assendent, and eke the lord of the assendent,

may be shapen for to be fortunat or infortunat, as thus: a fortunat

assendent clepen they whan that no wykkid planete, as Saturne

or Mars, or elles the Tail of the Dragoun, is in the hous of the

assendent, ne that no wikked planete have non aspecte of enemite


up-on the assendent; but they wol caste that they have a fortunat

planete in hir assendent and yit in his felicitee, and than sey they

that it is wel. Forther-over, they seyn that the infortuning of an

assendent is the contrarie of thise forseide thinges. The lord of

the assendent, sey they, that he is fortunat, whan he is in good


place fro the assendent as in angle; or in a succedent, where-as

he is in his dignitee and conforted with frendly aspectes of planetes

and wel resceived, and eek that he may seen the assendent, and

that he be nat retrograd ne combust, ne ioigned with no shrewe

in the same signe; ne that he be nat in his descencioun, ne


ioigned with no planete in his discencioun, ne have up-on him

non aspecte infortunat; and than sey they that he is wel. Natheles,

thise ben observauncez of iudicial matiere and rytes of payens,

in which my spirit ne hath no feith, ne no knowing of hir horoscopum;

for they seyn that every signe is departed in 3 evene


parties by 10 degrees, and thilke porcioun they clepe a Face.

{193a}And al-thogh that a planete have a latitude fro the ecliptik, yit

sey some folk, so that the planete aryse in that same signe with

any degree of the forseide face in which his longitude is rekned,

that yit is the planete in horoscopo, be it in nativite or in eleccioun,


&c. And for the more declaracioun, lo here the figure.

5. To knowe the verrey equacioun of the degree of the sonne, yif so be that it falle by-twixe thyn Almikanteras.

[Ad cognoscendum veram equacionem de gradu solis, si contigerit fore in duas Almicanteras.]

For as moche as the almikanteras in thyn Astrolabie been

compouned by two and two, where-as some almikanteras in

sondry Astrolabies ben compouned by on and on, or elles by two

and two, it is necessarie to thy lerning to teche thee first to knowe


and worke with thyn owne instrument. Wher-for, whan that the

degree of thy sonne falleth by-twixe two almikanteras, or elles yif

thyn almikanteras ben graven with over gret a point of a compas,

(for bothe thise thinges may causen errour as wel in knowing of

the tyd of the day as of the verrey assendent), thou most werken


in this wyse. Set the degree of thy sonne up-on the heyer

almikanteras of bothe, and waite wel wher as thin almury toucheth

the bordure, and set ther a prikke of inke. Set doun agayn the

degree of thy sonne up-on the nethere almikanteras of bothe, and

set ther another prikke. Remewe thanne thyn almury in the


bordure evene amiddes bothe prikkes, and this wol lede iustly the

degree of thy sonne to sitte by-twixe bothe almikanteras in his

right place. Ley thanne thy label over the degree of thy sonne;

and find in the bordure the verrey tyde of the day or of the night.

And as verreyly shaltow finde up-on thyn est orisonte thyn assendent.


And for more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.

6. To knowe the spring of the dawing and the ende of the evening, the which ben called the two crepusculis:

[Ad cognoscendum ortum solis et eius occasum, que vocatur vulgariter crepusculum.]

Set the nadir of thy sonne up-on 18 degrees of heighte among

thyn almikanteras on the west syde, and ley thy label on the degree

{194a}of thy sonne, and thanne shal the poynt of thy label schewe the

spring of day. Also set the nadir of thy sonne up-on 18 degrees


of heighte a-mong thyn almikanteras on the est side, and ley over

thy label up-on the degree of the sonne, and with the point of

thy label find in the bordure the ende of the evening, that is,

verrey night. The nadir of the sonne is thilke degree that is

opposit to the degree of the sonne, in the seventhe signe, as thus:


every degree of Aries by ordre is nadir to every degree of Libra

by ordre; and Taurus to Scorpion; Gemini to Sagittare; Cancer

to Capricorne; Leo to Aquarie; Virgo to Pisces; and yif any degree

in thy zodiak be dirk, his nadir shal declare him. And for the

more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.

7. To knowe the arch of the day, that some folk callen the day artificial, from the sonne arysing til hit go to reste.

[Ad cognoscendum archum diei, quem vulgus vocat diem artificialem, in hoc, ab ortu solis usque ad occasum.]

Set the degree of thy sonne up-on thyn est orisonte, and ley

thy label on the degree of the sonne, and at the poynt of thy

label in the bordure set a prikke. Turn thanne thy riet aboute

til the degree of the sonne sit up-on the west orisonte, and ley


thy label up-on the same degree of the sonne, and at the point of

thy label set a-nother prikke. Rekne thanne the quantitee of

tyme in the bordure by-twixe bothe prikkes, and tak ther thyn ark

of the day. The remenant of the bordure under the orisonte is

the ark of the night. Thus maistow rekne bothe arches, or


every porcion, of whether that thee lyketh. And by this manere

of wyrking maistow see how longe that any sterre fix dwelleth above

the erthe, fro tyme that he ryseth til he go to reste. But

{195a}the day natural, that is to seyn 24 houres, is the revolucioun of

the equinoxial with as moche partie of the zodiak as the sonne


of his propre moevinge passeth in the mene whyle. And for the

more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.

8. To turn the houres in-equales in houres equales.

[Ad convertendum horas inequales in horas equales.]

Knowe the nombre of the degrees in the houres in-equales, and

departe hem by 15, and tak ther thyn houres equales. And for

the more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.

9. To knowe the quantitee of the day vulgare, that is to seyen, from spring of the day un-to verrey night.

[Ad cognoscendum quantitatem diei vulgaris, viz. ab ortu diei usque ad noctem.]

Know the quantitee of thy crepusculis, as I have taught in the

chapitre bi-forn, and adde hem to the arch of thy day artificial;

and tak ther the space of alle the hole day vulgar, un-to verrey

night. The same manere maystow worke, to knowe the quantitee


of the vulgar night. And for the more declaracioun, lo here the


10. To knowe the quantite of houres in-equales by day.

[Ad cognoscendum horas inequales in die.]

Understond wel, that thise houres in-equales ben cleped houres

of planetes, and understond wel that som-tyme ben they lengere

by day than by night, and som-tyme the contrarie. But understond

wel, that evermo, generaly, the hour in-equal of the day


with the houre in-equal of the night contenen 30 degrees of the

{196a}bordure, whiche bordure is ever-mo answering to the degrees of

the equinoxial; wher-for departe the arch of the day artificial in

12, and tak ther the quantitee of the houre in-equal by day.

And yif thow abate the quantitee of the houre in-equal by daye


out of 30, than shal the remenant that leveth performe the houre

inequal by night. And for the more declaracioun, lo here the


11. To knowe the quantite of houres equales.

[Ad cognoscendum quantitatem horarum inequalium.]

The quantitee of houres equales, that is to seyn, the houres of

the clokke, ben departed by 15 degrees al-redy in the bordure

of thyn Astrolabie, as wel by night as by day, generaly for evere.

What nedeth more declaracioun? Wher-for, whan thee list to


know how manye houres of the clokke ben passed, or any part of

any of thise houres that ben passed, or elles how many houres or

partie of houres ben to come, fro swich a tyme to swich a tyme,

by day or by nighte, knowe the degree of thy sonne, and ley thy

label on it; turne thy riet aboute ioyntly with thy label, and with


the point of it rekne in the bordure fro the sonne aryse un-to

the same place ther thou desirest, by day as by nighte. This

conclusioun wol I declare in the laste chapitre of the 4 partie of

this tretis so openly, that ther shal lakke no worde that nedeth to

the declaracioun. And for the more declaracioun, lo here the



12. Special declaracioun of the houres of planetes.

[Specialis declaracio de horis planetarum.]

Understond wel, that evere-mo, fro the arysing of the sonne til

it go to reste, the nadir of the sonne shal shewe the houre of the

{197a}planete, and fro that tyme forward al the night til the sonne

aryse; than shal the verrey degree of the sonne shewe the houre


of the planete. Ensample as thus. The 13 day of March fil

up-on a Saterday per aventure, and, at the arising of the sonne, I

fond the secounde degree of Aries sitting up-on myn est orisonte,

al-be-it that it was but lite; than fond I the 2 degree of Libra,

nadir of my sonne, dessending on my west orisonte, up-on which


west orisonte every day generally, at the sonne ariste, entreth

the houre of any planete, after which planete the day bereth his

name; and endeth in the nexte stryk of the plate under the

forseide west orisonte; and evere, as the sonne climbeth uppere

and uppere, so goth his nadir dounere and dounere, teching by


swich strykes the houres of planetes by ordre as they sitten in

the hevene. The first houre inequal of every Satterday is to

Saturne; and the secounde, to Iupiter; the 3, to Mars; the 4,

to the Sonne; the 5, to Venus; the 6, to Mercurius; the 7, to

the Mone; and thanne agayn, the 8 is to Saturne; the 9, to


Iupiter; the 10, to Mars; the 11, to the Sonne; the 12, to

Venus; and now is my sonne gon to reste as for that Setterday.

Thanne sheweth the verrey degree of the sonne the houre of

Mercurie entring under my west orisonte at eve; and next him

succedeth the Mone; and so forth by ordre, planete after


planete, in houre after houre, al the night longe til the sonne

aryse. Now ryseth the sonne that Sonday by the morwe; and

{198a}the nadir of the sonne, up-on the west orizonte, sheweth me the

entring of the houre of the forseide sonne. And in this maner

succedeth planete under planete, fro Saturne un-to the Mone,


and fro the Mone up a-gayn to Saturne, houre after houre

generaly. And thus knowe I this conclusioun. And for the

more declaracioun, lo here the figure.

13. To knowe the altitude of the sonne in middes of the day, that is cleped the altitude meridian.

[Ad cognoscendum altitudinem solis in medio diei, que vocatur altitudo meridiana.]

Set the degree of the sonne up-on the lyne meridional, and

rikene how many degrees of almikanteras ben by-twixe thyn est

orisonte and the degree of the sonne. And tak ther thyn altitude

meridian; this is to seyne, the heyest of the sonne as for that day.


So maystow knowe in the same lyne, the heyest cours that any

sterre fix climbeth by night; this is to seyn, that whan any sterre

fix is passed the lyne meridional, than by-ginneth it to descende,

and so doth the sonne. And for the more declaracioun, lo here

thy figure.

14. To knowe the degree of the sonne by thy riet, for a maner curiositee, &c.

[Ad cognoscendum gradum solis curiose.]

Sek bysily with thy rewle the heyest of the sonne in midde of

the day; turne thanne thyn Astrolabie, and with a prikke of ink

marke the nombre of that same altitude in the lyne meridional.

Turne thanne thy riet a-boute til thou fynde a degree of thy


{199a}zodiak acording with the prikke, this is to seyn, sittinge on the

prikke; and in sooth, thou shalt finde but two degrees in al the

zodiak of that condicioun; and yit thilke two degrees ben in

diverse signes; than maistow lightly by the sesoun of the yere

knowe the signe in whiche that is the sonne. And for the


more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.

15. To know which day is lyk to which day as of lengthe, &c.

[Ad cognoscendum quales dies in longitudine sunt similes.]

Loke whiche degrees ben y-lyke fer fro the hevedes of Cancer

and Capricorn; and lok, whan the sonne is in any of thilke

degrees, than ben the dayes y-lyke of lengthe. This is to seyn,

that as long is that day in that monthe, as was swich a day in


swich a month; ther varieth but lite. Also, yif thou take two

dayes naturaly in the yer y-lyke fer fro eyther pointe of the

equinoxial in the opposit parties, than as long is the day artificial

of that on day as is the night of that othere, and the contrarie.

And for the more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.

16. This chapitre is a maner declaracioun to conclusiouns that folwen.

[Illud capitulum est quedam declaracio ad certas conclusiones sequentes.]

Understond wel that thy zodiak is departid in two halfe cercles,

as fro the heved of Capricorne un-to the heved of Cancer; and

agaynward fro the heved of Cancer un-to the heved of Capricorne.

{200a}The heved of Capricorne is the lowest point, wher-as the sonne


goth in winter; and the heved of Cancer is the heyest point, in

whiche the sonne goth in somer. And ther-for understond wel,

that any two degrees that ben y-lyke fer fro any of thise two

hevedes, truste wel that thilke two degrees ben of y-lyke declinacioun,

be it southward or northward; and the dayes of hem


ben y-lyke of lengthe, and the nightes also; and the shadwes

y-lyke, and the altitudes y-lyke at midday for evere. And for

more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.

17. To knowe the verrey degree of any maner sterre straunge or unstraunge after his longitude, though he be indeterminat in thyn Astrolabie; sothly to the trowthe, thus he shal be knowe.

[Ad cognoscendum verum gradum alicuius stelle aliene secundum eius longitudinem, quamvis sit indeterminata in astrolabio; veraciter isto modo.]

Tak the altitude of this sterre whan he is on the est side of the

lyne meridional, as ney as thou mayst gesse; and tak an assendent

a-non right by som maner sterre fix which that thou

knowest; and for-get nat the altitude of the firste sterre, ne thyn


assendent. And whan that this is don, espye diligently whan this

same firste sterre passeth any-thing the south westward, and hath

him a-non right in the same noumbre of altitude on the west side

of this lyne meridional as he was caught on the est side; and tak

a newe assendent a-non right by som maner sterre fixe which that


{201a}thou knowest; and for-get nat this secounde assendent. And

whan that this is don, rikne thanne how manye degrees ben by-twixe

the firste assendent and the seconde assendent, and rikne

wel the middel degree by-twene bothe assendentes, and set thilke

middel degree up-on thin est orisonte; and waite thanne what degree


that sit up-on the lyne meridional, and tak ther the verrey degree

of the ecliptik in which the sterre stondeth for the tyme. For in

the ecliptik is the longitude of a celestial body rekened, evene fro

the heved of Aries un-to the ende of Pisces. And his latitude is

rikned after the quantite of his declinacion, north or south to-warde


the poles of this world; as thus. Yif it be of the sonne or of any

fix sterre, rekene his latitude or his declinacioun fro the equinoxial

cercle; and yif it be of a planete, rekne than the quantitee of his

latitude fro the ecliptik lyne. Al-be-it so that fro the equinoxial

may the declinacion or the latitude of any body celestial be rikned,


after the site north or south, and after the quantitee of his declinacion.

And right so may the latitude or the declinacion of any

body celestial, save only of the sonne, after his site north or south,

and after the quantitee of his declinacioun, be rekned fro the

{202a}ecliptik lyne; fro which lyne alle planetes som tyme declynen


north or south, save only the for-seide sonne. And for the more

declaracioun, lo here thy figure.

18. To knowe the degrees of the longitudes of fixe sterres after that they ben determinat in thin Astrolabie, yif so be that they ben trewly set.

[Ad cognoscendum gradus longitudinis de stellis fixis que determinantur in astrolabio, sicut in suis locis recte locentur.]

Set the centre of the sterre up-on the lyne meridional, and tak

keep of thy zodiak, and loke what degree of any signe that sit on

the same lyne meridional at that same tyme, and tak the degree in

which the sterre standeth; and with that same degree comth that


same sterre un-to that same lyne fro the orisonte. And for more

declaracioun, lo here thy figure.

19. To knowe with which degree of the zodiak any sterre fixe in thyn Astrolabie aryseth up-on the est orisonte, althogh his dwelling be in a-nother signe.

[Ad cognoscendum cum quibus gradibus zodiaci que stella fixa in astrolabio ascendit super orizontem orientalem, quamvis eius statio sit in alio signo.]

Set the centre of the sterre up-on the est orisonte, and loke

what degree of any signe that sit up-on the same orisonte at that

same tyme. And understond wel, that with that same degree

aryseth that same sterre; and this merveyllous arysing with a


{203a}strange degree in another signe is by-cause that the latitude of the

sterre fix is either north or south fro the equinoxial. But sothly

the latitudes of planetes ben comunly rekned fro the ecliptik,

bi-cause that non of hem declineth but fewe degrees out fro the

brede of the zodiak. And tak good keep of this chapitre of arysing


of the celestial bodies; for truste wel, that neyther mone ne sterre

as in oure embelif orisonte aryseth with that same degree of his

longitude, save in o cas; and that is, whan they have no latitude

fro the ecliptik lyne. But natheles, som tyme is everiche of thise

planetes under the same lyne. And for more declaracioun, lo


here thy figure.

20. To knowe the declinacioun of any degree in the zodiak fro the equinoxial cercle, &c.

[Ad cognoscendum declinacionem alicuius gradus in zodiaco a circulo equinoctiali.]

Set the degree of any signe up-on the lyne meridional, and rikne

his altitude in almikanteras fro the est orizonte up to the same

degree set in the forseide lyne, and set ther a prikke. Turne up

thanne thy riet, and set the heved of Aries or Libra in the same


meridional lyne, and set ther a-nother prikke. And whan that

this is don, considere the altitudes of hem bothe; for sothly the

difference of thilke altitudes is the declinacion of thilke degree

fro the equinoxial. And yif so be that thilke degree be northward

{204a}fro the equinoxial, than is his declinacion north; yif it be southward,


than is it south. And for the more declaracioun, lo here

thy figure.

21. To knowe for what latitude in any regioun the almikanteras of any table ben compouned.

[Ad cognoscendum pro qua latitudine in aliqua regione almicantre tabule mee sunt composite.]

Rikne how manye degrees of almikanteras, in the meridional

lyne, be fro the cercle equinoxial un-to the senith; or elles fro the

pool artik un-to the north orisonte; and for so gret a latitude or

for so smal a latitude is the table compouned. And for more


declaracion, lo here thy figure.

22. To knowe in special the latitude of oure countray, I mene after the latitude of Oxenford, and the heighte of oure pol.

[Ad cognoscendum specialiter latitudinem nostri regionis, scilicet latitudinem Oxonie, et altitudinem poli nostri.]

Understond wel, that as fer is the heved of Aries or Libra in the

equinoxial from oure orisonte as is the senith from the pole artik;

and as hey is the pol artik fro the orisonte, as the equinoxial is

fer fro the senith. I prove it thus by the latitude of Oxenford.


Understond wel, that the heyghte of oure pool artik fro oure north

orisonte is 51 degrees and 50 minutes; than is the senith from

oure pool artik 38 degrees and 10 minutes; than is the equinoxial

{205a}from oure senith 51 degrees and 50 minutes; than is oure south

orisonte from oure equinoxial 38 degrees and 10 minutes. Understond


wel this rekning. Also for-get nat that the senith is 90

degrees of heyghte fro the orisonte, and oure equinoxial is 90

degrees from oure pool artik. Also this shorte rewle is soth, that

the latitude of any place in a regioun is the distance fro the senith

unto the equinoxial. And for more declaracioun, lo here thy



23. To prove evidently the latitude of any place in a regioun, by the preve of the heyghte of the pol artik in that same place.

[Ad probandum evidenter latitudinem alicuius loci in aliqua regione, per probacionem altitudinis de polo artico in eodem loco.]

In some winters night, whan the firmament is clere and thikke-sterred,

waite a tyme til that any sterre fix sit lyne-right perpendiculer

over the pol artik, and clepe that sterre A. And

wayte a-nother sterre that sit lyne-right under A, and under the


pol, and clepe that sterre F. And understond wel, that F is nat

considered but only to declare that A sit evene overe the pool.

Tak thanne a-non right the altitude of A from the orisonte, and

forget it nat. Lat A and F go farwel til agayns the dawening a

gret whyle; and come thanne agayn, and abyd til that A is evene


under the pol and under F; for sothly, than wol F sitte over the pool,

and A wol sitte under the pool. Tak than eft-sones the altitude of

A from the orisonte, and note as wel his secounde altitude as his

firste altitude; and whan that this is don, rikne how manye degrees

{206a}that the firste altitude of A excedeth his seconde altitude, and tak


half thilke porcioun that is exceded, and adde it to his seconde

altitude; and tak ther the elevacioun of thy pool, and eke the

latitude of thy regioun. For thise two ben of a nombre; this is

to seyn, as many degrees as thy pool is elevat, so michel is the

latitude of the regioun. Ensample as thus: par aventure, the


altitude of A in the evening is 56 degrees of heyghte. Than

wol his seconde altitude or the dawing be 48; that is 8 lasse than

56, that was his firste altitude at even. Take thanne the half of

8, and adde it to 48, that was his seconde altitude, and than

hastow 52. Now hastow the heyghte of thy pol, and the latitude


of the regioun. But understond wel, that to prove this conclusioun

and many a-nother fair conclusioun, thou most have a plomet

hanging on a lyne heyer than thin heved on a perche; and thilke

lyne mot hange evene perpendiculer by-twixe the pool and thyn

eye; and thanne shaltow seen yif A sitte evene over the pool and


over F at evene; and also yif F sitte evene over the pool and

over A or day. And for more declaracion, lo here thy figure.

24. Another conclusioun to prove the heyghte of the pool artik fro the orisonte.

[Alia conclusio ad probandum altitudinem de polo artico ab orizonte.]

Tak any sterre fixe that nevere dissendeth under the orisonte in

thilke regioun, and considere his heyest altitude and his lowest

altitude fro the orisonte; and make a nombre of bothe thise

altitudes. Tak thanne and abate half that nombre, and tak ther


the elevacioun of the pol artik in that same regioun. And for

more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.

{207a}25. A-nother conclusioun to prove the latitude of the regioun, &c.

[Alia conclusio ad probandum latitudinem regionis.]

Understond wel that the latitude of any place in a regioun is

verreyly the space by-twixe the senith of hem that dwellen there

and the equinoxial cerkle, north or southe, taking the mesure in

the meridional lyne, as sheweth in the almikanteras of thyn


Astrolabie. And thilke space is as moche as the pool artik is hey

in the same place fro the orisonte. And than is the depressioun

of the pol antartik, that is to seyn, than is the pol antartik by-nethe

the orisonte, the same quantite of space, neither more ne lasse.

Thanne, yif thow desire to knowe this latitude of the regioun, tak


the altitude of the sonne in the middel of the day, whan the sonne

is in the hevedes of Aries or of Libra; (for thanne moeveth the

sonne in the lyne equinoxial); and abate the nombre of that same

sonnes altitude out of 90, and thanne is the remenaunt of the

noumbre that leveth the latitude of the regioun. As thus: I


suppose that the sonne is thilke day at noon 38 degrees and 10

minutes of heyghte. Abate thanne thise degrees and minutes out

of 90; so leveth there 51 degrees and 50 minutes, the latitude.

I sey nat this but for ensample; for wel I wot the latitude of

Oxenforde is certein minutes lasse, as I mighte prove. Now yif


so be that thee semeth to long a taryinge, to abyde til that the

sonne be in the hevedes of Aries or of Libra, thanne waite whan

the sonne is in any other degree of the zodiak, and considere the

degree of his declinacion fro the equinoxial lyne; and yif it so be

that the sonnes declinacion be northward fro the equinoxial, abate


thanne fro the sonnes altitude at noon the nombre of his declinacion,

and thanne hastow the heyghte of the hevedes of Aries

and Libra. As thus: my sonne is, par aventure, in the firste

{208a}degre of Leoun, 58 degrees and 10 minutes of heyghte at noon

and his declinacion is almost 20 degrees northward fro the


equinoxial; abate thanne thilke 20 degrees of declinacion out of

the altitude at noon, than leveth thee 38 degrees and odde minutes;

lo ther the heved of Aries or Libra, and thyn equinoxial in that

regioun. Also yif so be that the sonnes declinacioun be southward

fro the equinoxial, adde thanne thilke declinacion to the


altitude of the sonne at noon; and tak ther the hevedes of Aries

and Libra, and thyn equinoxial. Abate thanne the heyghte of

the equinoxial out of 90 degrees, and thanne leveth there the

distans of the pole, 51 degrees and 50 minutes, of that regioun

fro the equinoxial. Or elles, yif thee lest, take the heyest altitude


fro the equinoxial of any sterre fix that thou knowest, and tak his

nethere elongacioun lengthing fro the same equinoxial lyne, and

wirke in the maner forseid. And for more declaracion, lo here

thy figure.

26. Declaracioun of the assensioun of signes, &c.

[Declaracio de ascensione signorum.]

The excellence of the spere solide, amonges other noble conclusiouns,

sheweth manifeste the diverse assenciouns of signes

in diverse places, as wel in the righte cercle as in the embelif

cercle. Thise auctours wryten that thilke signe is cleped of right


ascensioun, with which more part of the cercle equinoxial and

lasse part of the zodiak ascendeth; and thilke signe assendeth

embelif, with whiche lasse part of the equinoxial and more part of

{209a}the zodiak assendeth. Ferther-over they seyn, that in thilke

cuntrey where as the senith of hem that dwellen there is in the


equinoxial lyne, and her orisonte passing by the poles of this

worlde, thilke folke han this right cercle and the right orisonte;

and evere-mo the arch of the day and the arch of the night is ther

y-like long, and the sonne twyes every yeer passinge thorow the

senith of her heved; and two someres and two winteres in a yeer


han this forseide poeple. And the almikanteras in her Astrolabies

ben streighte as a lyne, so as sheweth in this figure. The utilite to

knowe the assenciouns in the righte cercle is this: truste wel that

by mediacioun of thilke assenciouns thise astrologiens, by hir

tables and hir instrumentz, knowen verreyly the assencioun of


every degree and minut in al the zodiak, as shal be shewed. And

{210a}nota, that this forseid righte orisonte, that is cleped orison rectum,

divydeth the equinoxial in-to right angles; and the embelif orisonte,

wher-as the pol is enhaused up-on the orisonte, overkerveth the

equinoxial in embelif angles, as sheweth in the figure. And for


the more declaracioun, lo here the figure.

27. This is the conclusioun to knowe the assenciouns of signes in the right cercle, that is, circulus directus, &c.

[Ad cognoscendum ascenciones signorum in recto circulo, qui vocatur circulus directus.]

Set the heved of what signe thee liste to knowe his assending in

the right cercle up-on the lyne meridional; and waite wher thyn

almury toucheth the bordure, and set ther a prikke. Turne

thanne thy riet westward til that the ende of the forseide signe


sitte up-on the meridional lyne; and eft-sones waite wher thyn

almury toucheth the bordure, and set ther another prikke. Rikne

thanne the nombre of degrees in the bordure by-twixe bothe

prikkes, and tak the assencioun of the signe in the right cercle.

And thus maystow wyrke with every porcioun of thy zodiak, &c.


And for the more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.

28. To knowe the assencions of signes in the embelif cercle in every regioun, I mene, in circulo obliquo.

[Ad cognoscendum ascenciones signorum in circulo obliquo, in omni regione.]

Set the heved of the signe which as thee list to knowe his

{211a}ascensioun up-on the est orisonte, and waite wher thyn almury

toucheth the bordure, and set ther a prikke. Turne thanne thy

riet upward til that the ende of the same signe sitte up-on the est


orisonte, and waite eft-sones wher as thyn almury toucheth the

bordure, and set ther a-nother prikke. Rikne thanne the noumbre

of degrees in the bordure by-twixe bothe prikkes, and tak ther the

assencioun of the signe in the embelif cercle. And understond

wel, that alle signes in thy zodiak, fro the heved of Aries unto the


ende of Virgo, ben cleped signes of the north fro the equinoxial;

and these signes arysen by-twixe the verrey est and the verrey

north in oure orisonte generaly for evere. And alle signes fro the

heved of Libra un-to the ende of Pisces ben cleped signes of the

south fro the equinoxial; and thise signes arysen ever-mo by-twixe


the verrey est and the verrey south in oure orisonte. Also every

signe by-twixe the heved of Capricorne un-to the ende of Geminis

aryseth on oure orisonte in lasse than two houres equales; and

thise same signes, fro the heved of Capricorne un-to the ende of

Geminis, ben cleped 'tortuos signes' or 'croked signes,' for


they arisen embelif on oure orisonte; and thise crokede signes

ben obedient to the signes that ben of right assencioun. The

signes of right assencioun ben fro the heved of Cancer to the

ende of Sagittare; and thise signes arysen more upright, and they

ben called eke sovereyn signes; and everich of hem aryseth in


more space than in two houres. Of which signes, Gemini obeyeth

to Cancer; and Taurus to Leo; Aries to Virgo; Pisces to Libra;

Aquarius to Scorpioun; and Capricorne to Sagittare. And thus

{212a}ever-mo two signes, that ben y-lyke fer fro the heved of Capricorne,

obeyen everích of hem til other. And for more declaracioun, lo


here the figure.

29. To knowe iustly the foure quarters of the world, as est, west, north, and sowth.

[Ad cognoscendum evidenter quatuor partes mundi, scilicet, orientem, austrum, aquilonem, et occidentem.]

Take the altitude of thy sonne whan thee list, and note wel the

quarter of the world in which the sonne is for the tyme by the

azimutz. Turne thanne thyn Astrolabie, and set the degree of

the sonne in the almikanteras of his altitude, on thilke side that


the sonne stant, as is the manere in taking of houres; and ley thy

label on the degree of the sonne, and rikene how many degrees of

the bordure ben by-twixe the lyne meridional and the point of thy

label; and note wel that noumbre. Turne thanne a-gayn thyn

Astrolabie, and set the point of thy gret rewle, ther thou takest


thyne altitudes, up-on as many degrees in his bordure fro his

meridional as was the point of thy label fro the lyne meridional on

the wombe-syde. Tak thanne thyn Astrolabie with bothe handes

sadly and slely, and lat the sonne shyne thorow bothe holes of thy

rewle; and sleyly, in thilke shyninge, lat thyn Astrolabie couch


adoun evene up-on a smothe grond, and thanne wol the verrey

lyne meridional of thyn Astrolabie lye evene south, and the est

lyne wole lye est, and the west lyne west, and north lyne north, so

that thou werke softly and avisely in the couching; and thus

hastow the 4 quarters of the firmament. And for the more


declaracioun, lo here the figure.

{213a}30. To knowe the altitude of planetes fro the wey of the sonne, whether so they be north or south fro the forseide wey.

[Ad cognoscendum altitudinem planetarum a cursu solis, utrum sint in parte australi vel boreali a cursu supra dicto.]

Lok whan that a planete is in the lyne meridional, yif that hir

altitude be of the same heyghte that is the degree of the sonne for

that day, and than is the planete in the verrey wey of the sonne,

and hath no latitude. And yif the altitude of the planete be


heyere than the degree of the sonne, than is the planete north fro

the wey of the sonne swich a quantite of latitude as sheweth by

thyn almikanteras. And yif the altitude of the planete be lasse

than the degree of the sonne, thanne is the planete south fro the

wey of the sonne swich a quantite of latitude as sheweth by thyn


almikanteras. This is to seyn, fro the wey wher-as the sonne

wente thilke day, but nat from the wey of the sonne in every place

of the zodiak. And for the more declaracioun, lo here the figure.

31. To knowe the senith of the arysing of the sonne, this is to seyn, the partie of the orisonte in which that the sonne aryseth.

[Ad cognoscendum signum de ortu solis, scilicet, illam partem orientis in qua oritur sol.]

Thou most first considere that the sonne aryseth nat al-wey

verrey est, but some tyme by north the est, and som tyme by southe

the est. Sothly, the sonne aryseth never-mo verrey est in oure

{214a}orisonte, but he be in the heved of Aries or Libra. Now is thyn


orisonte departed in 24 parties by thy azimutz, in significacion of

24 partiez of the world; al-be-it so that shipmen rikne thilke

partiez in 32. Thanne is ther no more but waite in which azimut

that thy sonne entreth at his arysing; and take ther the senith of

the arysing of the sonne. The manere of the devisioun of thyn


Astrolabie is this; I mene, as in this cas. First is it devided in

4 plages principalx with the lyne that goth from est to west, and

than with a-nother lyne that goth fro south to north. Than is it

devided in smale partiez of azimutz, as est, and est by southe,

whereas is the firste azimut above the est lyne; and so forth, fro


partie to partie, til that thou come agayn un-to the est lyne.

Thus maistow understond also the senith of any sterre, in which

partie he ryseth, &c. And for the more declaracion, lo here

the figure.

32. To knowe in which partie of the firmament is the coniunccioun.

[Ad cognoscendum in qua parte firmamenti sunt coniuncciones solis et lune.]

Considere the tyme of the coniunccion by thy kalender, as thus;

lok how many houres thilke coniunccion is fro the midday of the

day precedent, as sheweth by the canoun of thy kalender. Rikne

thanne thilke nombre of houres in the bordure of thyn Astrolabie,


{215a}as thou art wont to do in knowing of the houres of the day or of

the night; and ley thy label over the degree of the sonne; and

thanne wol the point of thy label sitte up-on the hour of the coniunccion.

Loke thanne in which azimut the degree of thy sonne

sitteth, and in that partie of the firmament is the coniunccioun.

And for the more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.

33. To knowe the senith of the altitude of the sonne, &c.

[Ad cognoscendum signa de altitudine solis.]

This is no more to seyn but any tyme of the day tak the altitude

of the sonne; and by the azimut in which he stondeth, maystou

seen in which partie of the firmament he is. And in the same

wyse maystou seen, by the night, of any sterre, whether the


sterre sitte est or west or north, or any partie by-twene, after the

name of the azimut in which is the sterre. And for the more

declaracioun, lo here the figure.

34. To knowe sothly the degree of the longitude of the mone, or of any planete that hath no latitude for the tyme fro the ecliptik lyne.

[Ad cognoscendum veraciter gradum de longitudine lune, vel alicuius planete qui non habet longitudinem pro tempore causanto linea ecliptica.]

Tak the altitude of the mone, and rikne thyn altitude up among

{216a}thyne almikanteras on which syde that the mone stande; and set

there a prikke. Tak thenne anon-right, up-on the mones syde,

the altitude of any sterre fix which that thou knowest, and set his


centre up-on his altitude among thyn almikanteras ther the sterre

is founde. Waite thanne which degree of the zodiak toucheth the

prikke of the altitude of the mone, and tak ther the degree in

which the mone standeth. This conclusioun is verrey soth, yif

the sterres in thyn Astrolabie stonden after the trowthe; of


comune, tretis of Astrolabie ne make non excepcioun whether the

mone have latitude, or non; ne on whether syde of the mone the

altitude of the sterre fix be taken. And nota, that yif the mone

shewe himself by light of day, than maystow wyrke this same

conclusioun by the sonne, as wel as by the fix sterre. And for the


more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.

35. This is the workinge of the conclusioun, to knowe yif that any planete be directe or retrograde.

[Hec conclusio operatur ad cognoscendum si aliqua planeta sit directa vel retrograda.]

Tak the altitude of any sterre that is cleped a planete, and note

it wel. And tak eek anon the altitude of any sterre fix that thou

knowest, and note it wel also. Come thanne agayn the thridde or

the ferthe night next folwing; for thanne shaltow aperceyve wel the


moeving of a planete, whether so he moeve forthward or bakward.

{217a}Awaite wel thanne whan that thy sterre fix is in the same altitude that

she was whan thou toke hir firste altitude; and tak than eftsones

the altitude of the forseide planete, and note it wel. For trust

wel, yif so be that the planete be on the right syde of the meridional


lyne, so that his seconde altitude be lasse than his firste altitude

was, thanne is the planete directe. And yif he be on the west

syde in that condicion, thanne is he retrograd. And yif so be

that this planete be up-on the est syde whan his altitude is taken,

so that his secounde altitude be more than his firste altitude,


thanne is he retrograde, and yif he be on the west syde, than is he

directe. But the contrarie of thise parties is of the cours of the

mone; for sothly, the mone moeveth the contrarie from othere

planetes as in hir episicle, but in non other manere. And for

the more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.

36. The conclusiouns of equaciouns of houses, after the Astrolabie, &c.

[Conclusio de equacione domorum.]

Set the by-ginning of the degree that assendeth up-on the ende

of the 8 houre inequal; thanne wol the by-ginning of the 2 hous

sitte up-on the lyne of midnight. Remove thanne the degree that

assendeth, and set him on the ende of the 10 hour inequal; and


thanne wol the byginning of the 3 hous sitte up-on the midnight

lyne. Bring up agayn the same degree that assendeth first, and

set him up-on the orisonte; and thanne wol the be-ginning of the

4 hous sitte up-on the lyne of midnight. Tak thanne the nadir of

{218a}the degree that first assendeth, and set him on the ende of the 2


houre inequal; and thanne wol the by-ginning of the 5 hous sitte

up-on the lyne of midnight; set thanne the nadir of the assendent

on the ende of the 4 houre, than wol the byginning of the 6 house

sitte on the midnight lyne. The byginning of the 7 hous is nadir

of the assendent, and the byginning of the 8 hous is nadir of the


2; and the by-ginning of the 9 hous is nadir of the 3; and the

by-ginning of the 10 hous is the nadir of the 4; and the byginning

of the 11 hous is nadir of the 5; and the byginning of the 12 hous

is nadir of the 6. And for the more declaracion, lo here the


37. A-nother manere of equaciouns of houses by the Astrolabie.

[De aliqua forma equacionis domorum secundum astrolabium.]

Tak thyn assendent, and thanne hastow thy 4 angles; for wel

thou wost that the opposit of thyn assendent, that is to seyn, thy

by-ginning of the 7 hous, sit up-on the west orizonte; and the

byginning of the 10 hous sit up-on the lyne meridional; and his


opposit up-on the lyne of midnight. Thanne ley thy label over

the degree that assendeth, and rekne fro the point of thy label

alle the degrees in the bordure, til thou come to the meridional

lyne; and departe alle thilke degrees in 3 evene parties, and take

the evene equacion of 3; for ley thy label over everich of 3 parties,


and than maistow see by thy label in which degree of the zodiak is

the by-ginning of everich of thise same houses fro the assendent:

that is to seyn, the beginning of the 12 house next above thyn

{219a}assendent; and thanne the beginning of the 11 house; and

thanne the 10, up-on the meridional lyne; as I first seide. The


same wyse wirke thou fro the assendent doun to the lyne of

midnight; and thanne thus hastow other 3 houses, that is to seyn,

the byginning of the 2, and the 3, and the 4 houses; thanne is

the nadir of thise 3 houses the by-ginning of the 3 houses that

folwen. And for the more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.

38. To finde the lyne merydional to dwelle fix in any certein place.

[Ad inveniendum lineam meridionalem per subtiles operaciones.]

Tak a rond plate of metal; for warping, the brodere the bettre;

and make ther-upon a iust compas, a lite with-in the bordure; and

ley this ronde plate up-on an evene grond, or on an evene ston, or

on an evene stok fix in the gronde; and ley it even by a level.


And in centre of the compas stike an evene pin or a wyr upright;

the smallere the betere. Set thy pin by a plom-rewle evene

upright; and let this pin be no lengere than a quarter of the

diametre of thy compas, fro the centre. And waite bisily, aboute

10 or 11 of the clokke and whan the sonne shyneth, whan the


shadwe of the pin entreth any-thing with-in the cercle of thy plate

an heer-mele, and mark ther a prikke with inke. Abyde thanne

stille waiting on the sonne after 1 of the clokke, til that the

schadwe of the wyr or of the pin passe ony-thing out of the cercle

of the compas, be it never so lyte; and set ther a-nother prikke


of inke. Take than a compas, and mesure evene the middel

by-twixe bothe prikkes; and set ther a prikke. Take thanne

a rewle, and draw a stryke, evene a-lyne fro the pin un-to the

{220a}middel prikke; and tak ther thy lyne meridional for evere-mo, as

in that same place. And yif thow drawe a cros-lyne over-thwart


the compas, iustly over the lyne meridional, than hastow est and

west and south; and, par consequence, than the nadir of the

south lyne is the north lyne. And for more declaracioun, lo here

thy figure.

39. Descripcion of the meridional lyne, of longitudes, and latitudes of citees and townes from on to a-nother of clymatz.

This lyne meridional is but a maner descripcion of lyne

imagined, that passeth upon the poles of this world and by

the senith of oure heved. And hit is y-cleped the lyne meridional;

for in what place that any maner man is at any tyme of the yeer,


whan that the sonne by moeving of the firmament cometh to his

verrey meridian place, than is hit verrey midday, that we clepen

oure noon, as to thilke man; and therfore is it cleped the lyne of

midday. And nota, for evermo, of 2 citees or of 2 tounes, of

whiche that o toun aprocheth more toward the est than doth


that other toun, truste wel that thilke tounes ban diverse meridians.

Nota also, that the arch of the equinoxial, that is conteyned

or bounded by-twixe the 2 meridians, is cleped the longitude

of the toun. And yif so be that two tounes have y-lyke

meridian, or oon meridian, than is the distance of hem bothe y-lyke


fer fro the est; and the contrarie. And in this manere they

chaunge nat her meridian, but sothly they chaungen her almikanteras;

for the enhausing of the pool and the distance of the

{221a}sonne. The longitude of a clymat is a lyne imagined fro est to

west, y-lyke distant by-twene them alle. The latitude of a clymat


is a lyne imagined from north to south the space of the erthe,

fro the byginning of the firste clymat unto the verrey ende of

the same climat, evene directe agayns the pole artik. Thus seyn

some auctours; and somme of hem seyn that yif men clepen the

latitude, thay mene the arch meridian that is contiened or intercept


by-twixe the senith and the equinoxial. Thanne sey they that

the distaunce fro the equinoxial unto the ende of a clymat,

evene agayns the pole artyk, is the latitude of a clymat for sothe.

And for more declaracioun, lo here thy figure.

40. To knowe with which degree of the zodiak that any planete assendith on the orisonte, whether so that his latitude be north or south.

Knowe by thyn almenak the degree of the ecliptik of any signe

in which that the planete is rekned for to be, and that is cleped

the degree of his longitude; and knowe also the degree of his

latitude fro the ecliptik, north or south. And by thise samples


folwinge in special, maystow wirke for sothe in every signe of the

zodiak. The degree of the longitude, par aventure, of Venus or

of another planete, was 6 of Capricorne, and the latitude of him

{222a}was northward 2 degrees fro the ecliptik lyne. I tok a subtil

compas, and cleped that oon poynt of my compas A, and that


other poynt F. Than tok I the point of A, and set it in the

ecliptik lyne evene in my zodiak, in the degree of the longitude

of Venus, that is to seyn, in the 6 degree of Capricorne; and

thanne sette I the point of F upward in the same signe, bycause

that the latitude was north, up-on the latitude of Venus, that is to


seyn, in the 6 degree fro the heved of Capricorne; and thus have

I 2 degrees by-twixe my two prikkes. Than leide I doun softely

my compas, and sette the degree of the longitude up-on the

orisonte; tho tok I and wexede my label in maner of a peyre

tables to resceyve distinctly the prikkes of my compas. Tho tok


I this forseide label, and leide it fix over the degree of my

longitude; tho tok I up my compas, and sette the point of A in

the wex on my label, as evene as I coude gesse over the ecliptik

lyne, in the ende of the longitude; and sette the point of F

endlang in my label up-on the space of the latitude, inwarde and


over the zodiak, that is to seyn, north-ward fro the ecliptik. Than

leide I doun my compas, and lokede wel in the wey upon the

prikke of A and of F; tho turned I my riet til that the prikke of

F sat up-on the orisonte; than saw I wel that the body of Venus,

in hir latitude of 2 degrees septentrionalis, assended, in the ende


of the 6 degree, in the heved of Capricorne. And nota, that in the

same maner maistow wirke with any latitude septentrional in alle

signes; but sothly the latitude meridional of a planete in Capricorne

may not be take, by-cause of the litel space by-twixe the ecliptik

and the bordure of the Astrolabie; but sothly, in alle other signes


it may.

{223a}Also the degree, par aventure, of Iuppiter or of a-nother planete,

was in the first degree of Pisces in longitude, and his latitude was

3 degrees meridional; tho tok I the point of A, and sette it in

the firste degree of Pisces on the ecliptik, and thanne sette I the


point of F dounward in the same signe, by-cause that the latitude

was south 3 degrees, that is to seyn, fro the heved of Pisces; and

thus have I 3 degrees by-twixe bothe prikkes; thanne sette I the

degree of the longitude up-on the orisonte. Tho tok I my label,

and leide it fix upon the degree of the longitude; tho sette I the


point of A on my label, evene over the ecliptik lyne, in the ende

evene of the degree of the longitude, and sette the point of F

endlang in my label the space of 3 degrees of the latitude fro the

zodiak, this is to seyn, southward fro the ecliptik, toward the

bordure; and turned my riet til the prikke of F sat up-on the


orisonte; thanne saw I wel that the body of Iuppiter, in his

latitude of 3 degrees meridional, ascended with 14 degrees of Pisces

in horoscopo. And in this maner maistow wirke with any latitude

meridional, as I first seide, save in Capricorne. And yif thou wolt

pleye this craft with the arysing of the mone, loke thou rekne wel


hir cours houre by houre; for she ne dwelleth nat in a degree of

hir longitude but a litel whyle, as thou wel knowest; but natheles,

yif thou rekne hir verreye moeving by thy tables houre after houre,

[thou shall do wel y-now].

Explicit tractatus de Conclusionibus Astrolabii, compilatus per Galfridum Chauciers ad Filium suum Lodewicum, scolarem tunc temporis Oxonie, ac sub tutela illius nobilissimi philosophi Magistri N. Strode, etc.



41. Umbra Recta.

Yif it so be that thou wilt werke by umbra recta, and thou may

come to the bas of the toure, in this maner thou schalt werke.

Tak the altitude of the tour by bothe holes, so that thy rewle ligge

even in a poynt. Ensample as thus: I see him thorw at the


poynt of 4; than mete I the space be-tween me and the tour, and I

finde it 20 feet; than be-holde I how 4 is to 12, right so is the space

betwixe thee and the tour to the altitude of the tour. For 4 is the

thridde part of 12, so is the space be-tween thee and the tour the

thridde part of the altitude of the tour; than thryes 20 feet is the


heyghte of the tour, with adding of thyn owne persone to thyn

eye. And this rewle is so general in umbra recta, fro the poynt of

oon to 12. And yif thy rewle falle upon 5, than is 5 12-partyes

of the heyght the space be-tween thee and the toure; with adding

of thyn owne heyght.

42. Umbra Versa.

Another maner of werkinge, by vmbra versa. Yif so be that

thou may nat come to the bas of the tour, I see him thorw the

nombre of 1; I sette ther a prikke at my fote; than go I neer to

the tour, and I see him thorw at the poynt of 2, and there I sette


{225a}a-nother prikke; and I beholde how 1 hath him to 12, and ther

finde I that it hath him twelfe sythes; than beholde I how 2

hath him to 12, and thou shalt finde it sexe sythes; than thou shalt

finde that as 12 above 6 is the numbre of 6, right so is the space

between thy two prikkes the space of 6 tymes thyn altitude. And


note, that at the ferste altitude of 1, thou settest a prikke; and

afterward, whan thou seest him at 2, ther thou settest an-other

prikke; than thou findest between two prikkys 60 feet; than thou

shalt finde that 10 is the 6-party of 60. And then is 10 feet the

altitude of the tour. For other poyntis, yif it fille in umbra versa,


as thus: I sette caas it fill upon 2, and at the secunde upon 3;

than schalt thou finde that 2 is 6 partyes of 12; and 3 is 4 partyes

of 12; than passeth 6 4, by nombre of 2; so is the space between

two prikkes twyes the heyghte of the tour. And yif the differens

were thryes, than shulde it be three tymes; and thus mayst thou


werke fro 2 to 12; and yif it be 4, 4 tymes; or 5, 5 tymes; et sic

de ceteris.

43. Umbra Recta.

An-other maner of wyrking be umbra recta. Yif it so be that

thou mayst nat come to the baas of the tour, in this maner thou

schalt werke. Sette thy rewle upon 1 till thou see the altitude,

and sette at thy foot a prikke. Than sette thy rewle upon 2, and


beholde what is the differense be-tween 1 and 2, and thou shalt

finde that it is 1. Than mete the space be-tween two prikkes, and

that is the 12 partie of the altitude of the tour. And yif ther were

2, it were the 6 partye; and yif ther were 3, the 4 partye; et sic

deinceps. And note, yif it were 5, it were the 5 party of 12; and


7, 7 party of 12; and note, at the altitude of thy conclusioun,

adde the stature of thyn heyghte to thyn eye.

{226a}44. Another maner conclusion, to knowe the mene mote and the argumentis of any planete. To know the mene mote and the argumentis of every planete fro yere to yere, from day to day, from houre to houre, and from smale fraccionis infinite.

[Ad cognoscendum medios motus et argumenta de hora in horam cuiuslibet planete, de anno in annum, de die in diem.]

In this maner shall thou worche: consider thy rote first, the

whiche is made the beginning of the tables fro the yere of oure

lord 1397, and entere hit in-to thy slate for the laste meridie of

December; and than consider the yere of oure lord, what is the


date, and be-hold whether thy date be more or lasse than the yere

1397. And yf hit so be that hit be more, loke how many yeres

hit passeth, and with so many entere into thy tables in the first

lyne ther-as is writen anni collecti et expansi. And loke where the

same planet is writen in the hede of thy table, and than loke


what thou findest in directe of the same yere of oure lord whiche

is passid, be hit 8, or 9, or 10, or what nombre that evere it be, til

the tyme that thou come to 20, or 40, or 60. And that thou

findest in directe wryte in thy slate under thy rote, and adde hit

to-geder, and that is thy mene mote, for the laste meridian of the


December, for the same yere whiche that thou hast purposed.

And if hit so be that hit passe 20, consider wel that fro 1 to 20

ben anni expansi, and fro 20 to 3000 ben anni collecti; and if thy

nombere passe 20, than take that thou findest in directe of 20, and

if hit be more, as 6 or 18, than take that thou findest in directe


there-of, that is to sayen, signes, degrees, minutes, and secoundes,

and adde to-gedere un-to thy rote; and thus to make rotes; and

{227a}note, that if hit so be that the yere of oure lord be lasse than the

rote, whiche is the yere of oure lord 1397, than shalt thou wryte in

the same wyse furst thy rote in thy slate, and after entere in-to thy


table in the same yere that be lasse, as I taught be-fore; and

than consider how many signes, degrees, minutes, and secoundes

thyn entringe conteyneth. And so be that ther be 2 entrees,

than adde hem togeder, and after with-drawe hem from the

rote, the yere of oure lord 1397; and the residue that leveth


is thy mene mote fro the laste meridie of December, the whiche

thou hast purposed; and if hit so be that thou wolt weten thy

mene mote for any day, or for any fraccioun of day, in this

maner thou shalt worche. Make thy rote fro the laste day

of Decembere in the maner as I have taught, and afterward


behold how many monethis, dayes, and houres ben passid from

the meridie of Decembere, and with that entere with the laste

moneth that is ful passed, and take that thou findest in directe

of him, and wryte hit in thy slate; and entere with as mony

dayes as be more, and wryte that thou findest in directe of the


same planete that thou worchest for; and in the same wyse in

the table of houres, for houres that ben passed, and adde alle these

to thy rote; and the residue is the mene mote for the same day

and the same houre.

45. Another manere to knowe the mene mote.

Whan thou wolt make the mene mote of eny planete to be by

Arsechieles tables, take thy rote, the whiche is for the yere of oure

lord 1397; and if so be that thy yere be passid the date, wryte

that date, and than wryte the nombere of the yeres. Than withdrawe


the yeres out of the yeres that ben passed that rote.

{228a}Ensampul as thus: the yere of oure lord 1400, I wolde witen,

precise, my rote; than wroot I furst 1400. And under that

nombere I wrote a 1397; than withdraw I the laste nombere

out of that, and than fond I the residue was 3 yere; I wiste


that 3 yere was passed fro the rote, the whiche was writen in

my tables. Than after-ward soghte I in my tables the annis

collectis et expansis, and amonge myn expanse yeres fond I

3 yeer. Than tok I alle the signes, degrees, and minutes, that

I fond directe under the same planete that I wroghte for, and


wroot so many signes, degrees, and minutes in my slate, and

afterward added I to signes, degrees, minutes, and secoundes,

the whiche I fond in my rote the yere of oure lord 1397;

and kepte the residue; and than had I the mene mote for

the laste day of Decembere. And if thou woldest wete the


mene mote of any planete in March, Aprile, or May, other

in any other tyme or moneth of the yere, loke how many

monethes and dayes ben passed from the laste day of Decembere,

the yere of oure lord 1400; and so with monethes

and dayes entere in-to thy table ther thou findest thy mene


mote y-writen in monethes and dayes, and take alle the signes,

degrees, minutes, and secoundes that thou findest y-write in

directe of thy monethes, and adde to signes, degrees, minutes,

and secoundes that thou findest with thy rote the yere of

oure lord 1400, and the residue that leveth is the mene mote


for that same day. And note, if hit so be that thou woldest

wete the mene mote in ony yere that is lasse than thy rote, withdrawe

the nombere of so many yeres as hit is lasse than the

yere of oure lord a 1397, and kepe the residue; and so many

yeres, monethes, and dayes entere in-to thy tabelis of thy mene


mote. And take alle the signes, degrees, and minutes, and

secoundes, that thou findest in directe of alle the yeris, monethes,

and dayes, and wryte hem in thy slate; and above thilke nombere

wryte the signes, degrees, minutes, and secoundes, the whiche

thou findest with thy rote the yere of oure lord a 1397; and


{229a}with-drawe alle the nethere signes and degrees fro the signes and

degrees, minutes, and secoundes of other signes with thy rote;

and thy residue that leveth is thy mene mote for that day.

46. For to knowe at what houre of the day, or of the night, shal be flode or ebbe.

First wite thou certeinly, how that haven stondeth, that thou

list to werke for; that is to say in whiche place of the firmament

the mone being, maketh fulle see. Than awayte thou redily in

what degree of the zodiak that the mone at that tyme is inne.


Bringe furth than the labelle, and set the point therof in that

same cost that the mone maketh flode, and set thou there the

degree of the mone according with the egge of the label. Than

afterward awayte where is than the degree of the sonne, at that

tyme. Remeve thou than the label fro the mone, and bringe and


sette it iustly upon the degree of the sonne. And the point of

the label shal than declare to thee, at what houre of the day or of

the night shal be flode. And there also maist thou wite by the

same point of the label, whether it be, at that same tyme, flode or

ebbe, or half flode, or quarter flode, or ebbe, or half or quarter


ebbe; or ellis at what houre it was last, or shal be next by night or

by day, thou than shalt esely knowe, &c. Furthermore, if it so be

that thou happe to worke for this matere aboute the tyme of the

coniunccioun, bringe furthe the degree of the mone with the

labelle to that coste as it is before seyd. But than thou shalt


understonde that thou may not bringe furthe the label fro the

{230a}degree of the mone as thou dide before; for-why the sonne is

than in the same degree with the mone. And so thou may at that

tyme by the point of the labelle unremeved knowe the houre of

the flode or of the ebbe, as it is before seyd, &c. And evermore


as thou findest the mone passe fro the sonne, so remeve thou the

labelle than fro the degree of the mone, and bringe it to the

degree of the sonne. And worke thou than as thou dide before,

&c. Or elles knowe thou what houre it is that thou art inne, by

thyn instrument. Than bringe thou furth fro thennes the labelle


and ley it upon the degree of the mone, and therby may thou wite

also whan it was flode, or whan it wol be next, be it night or

day; &c.

[The following sections are spurious; they are numbered so as to shew what propositions they repeat.]

41a. Umbra Recta.

Yif thy rewle falle upon the 8 poynt on right schadwe, than make

thy figure of 8; than loke how moche space of feet is be-tween thee

and the tour, and multiplye that be 12, and whan thou hast multiplied

it, than divyde it be the same nombre of 8, and kepe the residue; and


adde therto up to thyn eye to the residue, and that shal be the verry

heyght of the tour. And thus mayst thou werke on the same wyse, fro

1 to 12.

41b. Umbra Recta.

An-other maner of werking upon the same syde. Loke upon which

poynt thy rewle falleth whan thou seest the top of the tour thorow two

litil holes; and mete than the space fro thy foot to the baas of the

tour; and right as the nombre of thy poynt hath him-self to 12, right


so the mesure be-tween thee and the tour hath him-self to the heighte

{231a}of the same tour. Ensample: I sette caas thy rewle falle upon 8;

than is 8 two-thrid partyes of 12; so the space is the two-thrid partyes

of the tour.

42a. Umbra Versa.

To knowe the heyghth by thy poyntes of umbra versa. Yif thy

rewle falle upon 3, whan thou seest the top of the tour, set a prikke

there-as thy foot stont; and go ner til thou mayst see the same top at

the poynt of 4, and sette ther another lyk prikke. Than mete how


many foot ben be-tween the two prikkes, and adde the lengthe up to

thyn eye ther-to; and that shal be the heyght of the tour. And note,

that 3 is [the] fourthe party of 12, and 4 is the thridde party of 12.

Now passeth 4 the nombre of 3 be the distaunce of 1; therfore the

same space, with thyn heyght to thyn eye, is the heyght of the tour.


And yif it so be that ther be 2 or 3 distaunce in the nombres, so shulde

the mesures be-tween the prikkes be twyes or thryes the heyghte of

the tour.

43a. Ad cognoscendum altitudinem alicuius rei per umbram rectam.

To knowe the heyghte of thinges, yif thou mayst nat come to the

bas of a thing. Sette thy rewle upon what thou wilt, so that thou may

see the top of the thing thorw the two holes, and make a marke ther

thy foot standeth; and go neer or forther, til thou mayst see thorw


another poynt, and marke ther a-nother marke. And loke than what

is the differense be-twen the two poyntes in the scale; and right as

that difference hath him to 12, right so the space be-tween thee and

the two markes hath him to the heyghte of the thing. Ensample: I

set caas thou seest it thorw a poynt of 4; after, at the poynt of 3.


Now passeth the nombre of 4 the nombre of 3 be the difference of 1;

{232a}and right as this difference 1 hath him-self to 12, right so the mesure

be-tween the two markes hath him to the heyghte of the thing, putting

to the heyghte of thy-self to thyn eye; and thus mayst thou werke

fro 1 to 12.

42b. Per umbram versam.

Furthermore, yif thou wilt knowe in umbra versa, by the craft of

umbra recta, I suppose thou take the altitude at the poynt of 4, and

makest a marke; and thou goost neer til thou hast it at the poynt of

3, and than makest thou ther a-nother mark. Than muste thou


devyde 144 by eche of the poyntes be-fornseyd, as thus: yif thou

devyde 144 be 4, and the nombre that cometh ther-of schal be 36, and

yif thou devyde 144 be 3, and the nombre that cometh ther-of schal be

48, thanne loke what is the difference be-tween 36 and 48, and ther

shalt thou fynde 12; and right as 12 hath him to 12, right so the space


be-tween two prikkes hath him to the altitude of the thing.


Little Lewis my son, I perceive that thou wouldst learn the Conclusions of the Astrolabe; wherefore I have given thee an instrument constructed for the latitude of Oxford, and purpose to teach thee some of these conclusions. I say some, for three reasons; (1) because some of them are unknown in this land; (2) because some are uncertain; or else (3) are too hard. This treatise, divided into five {176b}parts, I write for thee in English, just as Greeks, Arabians, Jews, and Romans were accustomed to write such things in their own tongue. I pray all to excuse my shortcomings; and thou, Lewis, shouldst thank me if I teach thee as much in English as most common treatises can do in Latin. I have done no more than compile from old writers on the subject, and I have translated it into English solely for thine instruction; and with this sword shall I slay envy.

The first part gives a description of the instrument itself.


The second teaches the practical working of it.

The third shall contain tables of latitudes and longitudes of fixed stars, declinations of the sun, and the longitudes of certain towns.

The fourth shall shew the motions of the heavenly bodies, and especially of the moon.

The fifth shall teach a great part of the general rules of astronomical theory.


Here begins the first part; i.e. the description of the Astrolabe itself.

1. The Ring. See figs. 1 and 2. The Latin name is Armilla suspensoria; the Arabic name is spelt alhahuacia in MS. Camb. Univ. Ii. 3. 3, but Stöffler says it is Alanthica, Alphantia, or Abalhantica. For the meaning of 'rewle,' see § 13.

2. The Turet. This answers nearly to what we call an eye or a swivel. The metal plate, or loop, to which it is fastened, or in which it turns, is called in Latin Ansa or Armilla Reflexa, in Arabic Alhabos.

3. The Moder. In Latin, Mater or Rotula. This forms the body of the instrument, the back of which is shewn in fig. 1, the front in fig. 2. The 'large hole' is the wide depression sunk in the front of it, into which the various discs are dropped. In the figure, the 'Rete' is shewn fitted into it.

4. See fig. 1; Chaucer describes the 'bak-half' of the instrument first. The centre of the 'large hole amydde' is the centre of the instrument, where a smaller hole is pierced completely through. The Southe lyne (marked Meridies in figs. 1 and 2) is also called Linea Meridiei; the North lyne is also named Linea Mediæ Noctis.


5. The Est lyne is marked with the word Oriens; the West lyne, with Occidens.

6. The rule is the same as in heraldry, the right or dexter side being towards the spectator's left.

7. As the 360 degrees answer to 24 hours of time, 15° answer to an hour, and 5° to twenty minutes, or a Mile-way, as it is the average time for walking a mile. So also 1° answers to 4 minutes of time. See the two outermost circles in fig. 1, and the divisions of the 'border' in fig. 2.

8. See the third and fourth circles (reckoning inwards) in fig. 1.


9. See the fifth and sixth circles in fig. 1.

10. See the seventh, eighth, and ninth circles in fig. 1. The names of the months are all Roman. The month formerly called Quinctilis was first called Julius in B.C. 44; that called Sextilis was named Augustus in B.C. 27. It is a mistake to say that Julius and Augustus made the alterations spoken of in the text; what Julius Cæsar really did, was to add 2 days to the months of January, August (Sextilis), and December, and 1 day to April, June, September, and November. February never had more than 28 days till he introduced bissextile years.


11. See the two inmost circles in fig. 1. The names given are adopted from a comparison of the figures in the Cambridge University and Trinity MSS., neither of which are quite correct. The letters of the 'Abc.' are what we now call the Sunday letters. The festivals marked are those of St. Paul (Jan. 25), The Purification (Feb. 2), The Annunciation (Mar. 25), The Invention of the Holy Cross (May 3), St. John the Baptist (June 24), St. James (July 25), St. Lawrence (Aug. 10), The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin (Sept. 8), St. Luke (Oct. 18), St. Martin of Tours (Nov. 11), and St. Thomas (Dec. 21).

12. The 'scale' is in Latin Quadrans, or Scala Altimetra. It is certain that Chaucer has here made a slip, which cannot be fairly laid to the charge of the scribes, as the MSS. agree in transposing versa and recta. The side-parts of the scale are called Umbra versa, the lower part Umbra recta or extensa. This will appear more clearly at the end of Part II. (I here give a corrected text.)

13. See fig. 3, Plate III. Each plate turns on a hinge, just like the 'sights' of a gun. One is drawn flat down, the other partly elevated. Each plate (tabella vel pinnula) has two holes, the smaller one being the lower. This Rewle is named in Arabic Alhidada or Al´idāda; in Latin Verticulum, from its turning easily on the centre; in Greek Dioptra, as carrying the sights. The straight edge, passing through the centre, is called the Linea Fiduciæ. It is pierced by a hole in the centre, of the same size as that in the Mother.

14. See fig. 4, Plate III. The Pin is also called Axis or Clavus, in {182b}Latin-Arabic Alchitot; it occupies the position of the Arctic or North Pole, passing through the centre of the plates that are required to turn round it. The Wedge is called cuneus, or equus restringens, in Arabic Alfaras or the horse, because it was sometimes cut into the shape of a horse, as shewn in fig. 7, Plate IV, which is copied from MS. Univ. Camb. Ii. 3. 3.

15. See fig. 2, Plate II. In the figure, the cross-lines are partly hidden by the Rete, which is separate and removable, and revolves within the border.

16. The Border was also called Margilabrum, Margolabrum, or Limbus. It is marked (as explained) with hour-letters and degrees. Each degree contains 4 minutes of time, and each of these minutes contains 60 seconds of time.

17. We may place under the Rete any plates we please. If only the Mother be under it, without any plate, we may suppose the Mother marked as in fig. 2. The plate or disc (tympanum) which was usually {183b}dropped in under the Rete is that shewn in fig. 5, Plate III, and which Chaucer now describes. Any number of these, marked differently for different latitudes, could be provided for the Astrolabe. The greatest declination of the sun measures the obliquity of the ecliptic, the true value of which is slightly variable, but was about 23° 31′ in Chaucer's time, and about 23° 40′ in the time of Ptolemy, who certainly assigns to it too large a value. The value of it must be known before the three circles can be drawn. The method of finding their relative magnitudes is very simple. Let ABCD (fig. 8, Pl. IV) be the tropic of Capricorn, BO the South line, OC the West line. Make the angle EOB equal to the obliquity (say 23½°), and join EA, meeting BO in F. Then OF is the radius of the Equatorial circle, and if GH be drawn parallel to EF, OH is the radius of the Tropic of Cancer. In the phrase angulus primi motus, angulus must be taken to mean angular motion. The 'first moving' (primus motus) has its name of 'moving' (motus) from its denoting motion due to the primum mobile or 'first moveable.' This primum mobile (usually considered as the ninth sphere) causes the rotation of the eighth sphere, or sphæra stellarum fixarum. See the fig. in MS. Camb. Univ. Ii. 3. 3 (copied in fig. 10, Pl. V). Some authors make 12 heavens, viz. those of the 7 planets, the firmamentum (stellarum fixarum), the nonum cœlum, decimum cœlum, primum mobile, and cœlum empyræum.


18. See fig. 5, Pl. III. This is made upon the alt-azimuth system, and the plates are marked according to the latitude. The circles, called in Latin circuli progressionum, in Arabic Almucantarāt, are circles of altitude, the largest imperfect one representing the horizon (horizon obliquus), and the central dot being the zenith, or pole of the horizon. In my figure, they are 'compounded by' 5 and 5, but Chaucer's shewed every second degree, i.e. it possessed 45 such circles. For the method of drawing them, see Stöffler, leaf 5, back.


19. Some Astrolabes shew 18 of these azimuthal circles, as in my figure (fig. 5, Pl. III). See Stöffler, leaf 13, where will be found also the rules for drawing them.

20. If accurately drawn, these embelife or oblique lines should divide the portions of the three circles below the horizon obliquus into twelve equal parts. Thus each arc is determined by having to pass through three known points. They are called arcus horarum inequalium, as they shew the 'houres inequales.'

21. In fig. 2, Pl. II, the Rete is shewn as it appears when dropped into the depression in the front of the instrument. The shape of it varied much, and another drawing of one (copied from Camb. Univ. MS. Ii. 3. 3, fol. 66 b) is given in fig. 9, Pl. IV. The positions of the stars are marked by the extreme points of the metal tongues. Fig. 2 is taken from the figures in the Cambridge MSS., but the positions of the stars have been corrected by the list of latitudes and longitudes {186b}given by Stöffler, whom I have followed, not because he is correct, but because he probably represents their positions as they were supposed to be in Chaucer's time very nearly indeed. There was not room to inscribe the names of all the stars on the Rete, and to have written them on the plate below would have conveyed a false impression. A list of the stars marked in fig. 2 is given in the note to § 21, l. 4. The Ecliptic is the circle which crosses the Equinoctial at its East and West points (fig. 2). In Chaucer's description of the zodiac, {187b}carefully note the distinction between the Zodiac of the Astrolabe and the Zodiac of Heaven. The former is only six degrees broad, and shews only the northern half of the heavenly zodiac, the breadth of which is imagined to be 12 degrees. Chaucer's zodiac only shewed every other degree in the divisions round its border. This border is divided by help of a table of right ascensions of the various degrees of the ecliptic, which is by no means easily done. See Note on l. 4 of this section. I may add that the Rete is also called Aranea or Volvellum; in Arabic, Al´ancabūt (the spider).

22. The Label. See fig. 6, Pl. III. The label is more usually used on the front of the instrument, where the Rete and other plates revolve. The rule is used on the back, for taking altitudes by help of the scale.

23. The Almury; called also denticulus, ostensor, or 'calculer.' In fig. 2, it may be seen that the edge of the Rete is cut away near the head of Capricorn, leaving only a small pointed projecting tongue, which is the almury or denticle, or (as we should now say) pointer. As the Rete revolves, it points to the different degrees of the border. See also fig. 9, where the almury is plainly marked.


Part II, § 1. [The Latin headings to the propositions are taken from the MS. in St. John's College, Cambridge.] See fig. 1. Any straight edge laid across from the centre will shew this at once. Chaucer, reckoning by the old style, differs from us by about eight days. The first degree of Aries, which in his time answered to the 12th of March, now vibrates between the 20th and 21st of that month. This difference of eight days must be carefully borne in mind in calculating Chaucer's dates.


2. Here 'thy left side' means the left side of thine own body, and therefore the right or Eastern edge of the Astrolabe. In taking the altitude of the sun, the rays are allowed to shine through the holes; but the stars are observed by looking through them. See figs. 1 and 3.

3. Drop the disc (fig. 5) within the border of the mother, and the Rete over it. Take the sun's altitude by § 2, and let it be 25½°. As the {190b}altitude was taken by the back of the Astrolabe, turn it over, and then let the Rete revolve westward till the 1st point of Aries is just within the altitude-circle marked 25, allowing for the ½ degree by guess. This will bring the denticle near the letter C, and the first point of Aries near X, which means 9 A.M. At the same time, the 20th degree of Gemini will be on the horizon obliquus. See fig. 11, Pl. V. This result can be approximately verified by a common globe thus; elevate the pole nearly 52°; turn the small brass hour-circle so that the figure XII lies on the equinoctial colure; then turn the globe till IX lies under the brass meridian. In the next example, by the Astrolabe, let the height of Alhabor (Sirius) be about 18°. Turn the denticle {191b}Eastward till it touches the 58th degree near the letter O, and it will be found that Alhabor is about 18° high among the almicanteras, whilst the first point of Aries points to 32° near the letter H, i.e. to 8 minutes past 8 P.M.; whilst at the same time, the 23rd degree of Libra is almost on the Horizon obliquus on the Eastern side. By the globe, at about 8 minutes past 8 P.M., the altitude of Sirius is very nearly 18°, and the 23rd of Libra is very near the Eastern horizon. See fig. 12, Pl. V.

4. The ascendent at any given moment is that degree of the zodiac {192b}which is then seen upon the Eastern horizon. Chaucer says that astrologers reckoned in also 5 degrees of the zodiac above, and 25 below; the object being to extend the planet's influence over a whole 'house,' which is a space of the same length as a sign, viz. 30°. See § 36 below.


5. This merely amounts to taking the mean between two results.

6. This depends upon the refraction of light by the atmosphere, {194b}owing to which light from the sun reaches us whilst he is still 18° below the horizon. The nadir of the sun being 18° high on the W. side, the sun itself is 18° below the Eastern horizon, giving the time of dawn; and if the nadir be 18° high on the E. side, we get the time of the end of the evening twilight. Thus, at the vernal equinox, the sun is 18° high soon after 8 A.M. (roughly speaking), and hence the evening twilight ends soon after 8 P.M., 12 hours later, sunset being at 6 P.M.

7. Ex. The sun being in the first point of Cancer on the longest day, its rising will be shewn by the point in fig. 5 where the horizon obliquus and Tropicus Cancri intersect; this corresponds to a point between P {195b}and Q in fig. 2, or to about a quarter to 4 A.M. So too the sunset is at about a quarter past 8, and the length of the day 16½ hours; hence also, the length of the night is about 7½ hours, neglecting twilight.

8. On the same day, the number of degrees in the whole day is about 247½, that being the number through which the Rete is turned in the example to § 7. Divide by 15, and we have 16½ equal hours.

9. The 'day vulgar' is the length of the 'artificial day,' with the length of the twilight, both at morn and at eve, added to it.

10. If, as in § 7, the day be 16½ hours long, the length of each 'hour {196b}inequal' is 1 h. 22½ m.; and the length of each 'hour inequal' of the night is the 12th part of 7½ hours, or 37½ m.; and 1 h. 22½ m., added to 37½ m., will of course make up 2 hours, or 30°.

11. This merely repeats that 15° of the border answer to an hour of the clock. The '4 partie of this tretis' was never written.

12. This 'hour of the planet' is a mere astrological supposition, involving no point of astronomy. Each hour is an 'hour inequal,' or the 12th part of the artificial day or night. The assumptions are so made {197b}that first hour of every day may resemble the name of the day; the first hour of Sunday is the hour of the Sun, and so on. These hours may be easily found by the following method. Let 1 represent both Sunday and the Sun; 2, Monday and the Moon; 3, Tuesday and Mars; 4, Wednesday and Mercury; 5, Thursday and Jupiter; 6, Friday and Venus; 7, Saturday and Saturn. Next, write down the following succession of figures, which will shew the hours at once.


Ex. To find the planet of the 10th hour of Tuesday. Tuesday is the third day of the week; begin with 3, to the left of the upright line, and reckon 10 onwards; the 10th figure (counting 3 as the first) is 6, i.e. Venus. So also, the planet of the 24th hour of Friday is the Moon, and Saturday begins with Saturn. It may be observed that this table can be carried in the memory, by simply observing that the numbers are written, beginning with 1, in the reverse order of the spheres, i.e. Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon; and then (beginning again at the outmost sphere) Saturn, Jupiter, Mars. This is why Chaucer takes a Saturday; {198b}that he may begin with the remotest planet, Saturn, and follow the reverse order of the spheres. See fig. 10, Pl. V. Here, too, we have the obvious reason for the succession of the names of the days of the week, viz. that the planets being reckoned in this order, we find the Moon in the 25th place or hour from the Sun, and so on.

13. The reason of this is obvious from what has gone before. The sun's meridional altitude is at once seen by placing the sun's degree on the South line.

14. This is the exact converse of the preceding. It furnishes a method of testing the accuracy of the drawing of the almikanteras.


15. This is best done by help of the back of the instrument, fig. 1. Thus May 13 (old style), which lies 30° to the W. of the S. line, is nearly of the same length as July 13, which lies 30° to the E. Secondly, the day of April 2 (old style), 20° above the W. line, is nearly of the same length as the night of Oct. 2, 20° below the E. line, in the opposite point of the circle. This is but an approximation, as the divisions on the instrument are rather minute.

16. This merely expresses the same thing, with the addition, that on days of the same length, the sun has the same meridional altitude, and the same declination from the equator.


17. Here passeth any-thing the south westward means, passes somewhat to the westward of the South line. The problem is, to find the degree of the zodiac which is on the meridian with the star. To do this, find the altitude of the star before it souths, and by help of problem 3, find out the ascending degree of the zodiac; secondly, find the ascending degree at an equal time after it souths, when the star has the same altitude as before, and the mean between these will be the degree that ascends when the star is on the meridian. Set this degree upon the Eastern part of the horizon obliquus, and then the degree which is upon the meridional line souths together with the star. Such is the solution given, but it is but a very rough approximation, and by no means always near to the truth. An example will shew why. Let Arcturus have the same altitude at 10 P.M. as at 2 A.M. In the first case the 4th of Sagittarius is ascending, in the second (with {201b}sufficient accuracy for our purpose) the 2nd of Aquarius; and the mean between these is the 3rd of Capricorn. Set this on the Eastern horizon upon a globe, and it will be seen that it is 20 min. past midnight, that 10° of Scorpio is on the meridian, and that Arcturus has past the meridian by 5°. At true midnight, the ascendent is the 29° of Sagittarius. The reason of the error is that right ascension and longitude are here not sufficiently distinguished. By observing the degrees of the equinoctial, instead of the ecliptic, upon the Eastern horizon, we have at the first observation 272°, at the second 332°, and the mean of these is 302°; from this subtract 90°, and the result, 212°, gives the right ascension of Arcturus very nearly, corresponding to which is the beginning of the 5° of Scorpio, which souths along with it. This latter method is correct, because it assumes the motion to take place round the axis of the equator. The error of Chaucer's method is that it identifies the motion of the equator with that of the ecliptic. The amount of the error varies considerably, and may be rather large. But it can easily be diminished, (and no doubt was so in practice), by taking the observations as near the south line as possible. Curiously enough, the rest of the section explains the difference between the two methods of reckoning. The modern method is to call the co-ordinates right ascension and declination, if reckoned from the equator, and longitude and latitude, if from the ecliptic. Motion in longitude is not the same thing as motion in right ascension.


18. The 'centre' of the star is the technical name for the extremity of the metal tongue representing it. The 'degree in which the star standeth' is considered to be that degree of the zodiac which souths along with it. Thus Sirius or Alhabor has its true longitude nearly equal to that of 12° of Cancer, but, as it souths with the 9th degree, it would be said to stand in that degree. This may serve for an example; but it must be remembered that its longitude was different in the time of Chaucer.

19. Also it rises with the 19th degree of Leo, as it is at some distance from the zodiac in latitude. The same 'marvellous arising in a strange sign' is hardly because of the latitude being north or {203b}south from the equinoctial, but rather because it is north or south of the ecliptic. For example, Regulus (α Leonis) is on the ecliptic, and of course rises with that very degree in which it is. Hence the reading equinoctial leaves the case in doubt, and we find a more correct statement just below, where we have 'whan they have no latitude fro the ecliptik lyne.' At all places, however, upon the earth's equator, the stars will rise with the degrees of the zodiac in which they stand.]

20. Here the disc (fig. 5) is supposed to be placed beneath the Rete (fig. 2). The proposition merely tells us that the difference between the meridian altitudes of the given degree of the zodiac and of the 1st point of Aries is the declination of that degree, which follows from the very definition of the term. There is hardly any necessity for setting the second prick, as it is sufficiently marked by being the point where the equinoctial circle crosses the south line. If the given degree lie outside this circle, the declination is south; if inside, it is north.


21. In fig. 5, the almicanteras, if accurately drawn, ought to shew as many degrees between the south point of the equinoctial circle and the zenith as are equal to the latitude of the place for which they are described. The number of degrees from the pole to the northern point of the horizon obliquus is of course the same. The latitude of the place for which the disc is constructed is thus determined by inspection.

22. In the first place where 'orisonte' occurs, it means the South point of the horizon; in the second place, the North point. By referring to fig. 13, Plate V, it is clear that the arc ♈S, representing the distance between the equinoctial and the S. point, is equal to the arc ZP, which {205b}measures the distance from the pole to the zenith; since PO♈ and ZOS are both right angles. Hence also Chaucer's second statement, that the arcs PN and ♈Z are equal. In his numerical example, PN is 51° 50′; and therefore ZP is the complement, or 38° 10′. So also ♈Z is 51° 50′; and ♈S is 38° 10′. Briefly, ♈Z measures the latitude.

23. Here the altitude of a star (A) is to be taken twice; firstly, when it is on the meridian in the most southern point of its course, and secondly, when on the meridian in the most northern point, which would be the case twelve hours later. The mean of these altitudes is the altitude of the pole, or the latitude of the place. In the example given, the star A is only 4° from the pole, which shews that it is the {206b}Pole-star, then farther from the Pole than it is now. The star F is, according to Chaucer, any convenient star having a right ascension differing from that of the Pole-star by 180°; though one having the same right ascension would serve as well. If then, at the first observation, the altitude of A be 56, and at the second be 48, the altitude of the pole must be 52. See fig. 13, Plate V.

24. This comes to much the same thing. The lowest or northern altitude of Dubhe (α Ursæ Majoris) may be supposed to be observed to be 25°, and his highest or southern altitude to be 79°. Add these; the sum is 104; 'abate' or subtract half of that number, and the result is 52°; the latitude.


25. Here, as in § 22, Chaucer says that the latitude can be measured by the arc Z♈ or PN; he adds that the depression of the Antarctic pole, viz. the arc SP′ (where P′ is the S. pole), is another measure of the latitude. He explains that an obvious way of finding the latitude is by finding the altitude of the sun at noon at the time of an equinox. If this altitude be 38° 10′, then the latitude is the complement, or 51° 50′. But this observation can only be made on two days in the year. If then this seems to be too long a tarrying, observe his midday {208b}altitude, and allow for his declination. Thus, if the sun's altitude be 58° 10′ at noon when he is in the first degree of Leo, subtract his declination, viz. 20°, and the result is 38° 10′, the complement of the latitude. If, however, the sun's declination be south, the amount of it must be added instead of subtracted. Or else we may find ♈A′, the highest altitude of a star A′ above the equinoctial, and also ♈A, its nether elongation extending from the same, and take the mean of the two.

26. The 'Sphere Solid' answers nearly to what we now call a globe. By help of a globe it is easy to find the ascensions of signs for any latitude, whereas by the astrolabe we can only tell them for those latitudes for which the plates bearing the almicanteras are constructed. The signs which Chaucer calls 'of right (i.e. direct) ascension' are those signs of the zodiac which rise more directly, i.e. at a greater {209b}angle to the horizon than the rest. In latitude 52°, Libra rises so directly that the whole sign takes more than 2¾ hours before it is wholly above the horizon, during which time nearly 43° of the equinoctial circle have arisen; or, in Chaucer's words, 'the more part' (i.e. a larger portion) of the equinoctial ascends with it. On the other hand, the sign of Aries ascends so obliquely that the whole of it appears above the horizon in less than an hour, so that a 'less part' (a smaller portion) of the equinoctial ascends with it. The following is a rough table of Direct and Oblique Signs, shewing approximately how long each sign takes to ascend, and how many degrees of the equinoctial ascend with it, in lat. 52°.

Degrees of the
Time of
Degrees of the
Time of
Capricornus 26° 1 h. 44 m. Cancer 39° 2 h. 36 m.
Aquarius 16° 1 h. 4 m. Leo 42° 2 h. 48 m.
Pisces 14° 0 h. 56 m. Virgo 43° 2 h. 52 m.
Aries 14° 0 h. 56 m. Libra 43° 2 h. 52 m.
Taurus 16° 1 h. 4 m. Scorpio 42° 2 h. 48 m.
Gemini 26° 1 h. 44 m. Sagittarius 39° 2 h. 36 m.

These numbers are sufficiently accurate for the present purpose.

In ll. 8-11, there is a gap in the sense in nearly all the MSS., but the Bodley MS. 619 fortunately supplies what is wanting, to the effect that, at places situated on the equator, the poles are in the horizon. At such places, the days and nights are always equal. Chaucer's next statement is true for all places within the tropics, the peculiarity of them being that they have the sun vertical twice in a year. The statement about the 'two summer and winters' is best explained by the following. 'In the tropical climates, ... seasons are caused more by the effect of the winds (which are very regular, and depend mainly on the sun's position) than by changes in the direct action of the sun's light and heat. The seasons are not a summer and winter, so much {210b}as recurrences of wet and dry periods, two in each year.'—English Cyclopædia; Seasons, Change of. Lastly, Chaucer reverts to places on the equator, where the stars all seem to move in vertical circles, and the almicanteras are therefore straight lines. The line marked Horizon Rectus is shewn in fig. 5, where the Horizon Obliquus is also shewn, cutting the equinoctial circle obliquely.

27. The real object in this section is to find how many degrees of the equinoctial circle pass the meridian together with a given zodiacal sign. Without even turning the rete, it is clear that the sign Aries, for instance, extends through 28° of the equinoctial; for a line drawn from the centre, in fig. 2, through the end of Aries will (if the figure be correct) pass through the end of the 28th degree below the word Oriens.

28. To do this accurately requires a very carefully marked Astrolabe, {211b}on as large a scale as is convenient. It is done by observing where the ends of the given sign, estimated along the outer rim of the zodiacal circle in fig. 2, cross the horizon obliquus as the rete is turned about. Thus, the beginning of Aries lies on the horizon obliquus, and as the rete revolves to the right, the end of it, on the outer rim, will at last lie exactly on the same curved line. When this is the case, the rete ought to have moved through an angle of about 14°, as explained in § 26. By far the best way is to tabulate the results once for all, as I have there done. It is readily seen, from fig. 2, that the signs from Aries to Virgo are northern, and from Libra to Pisces are southern signs. The signs from Capricorn to Gemini are the oblique signs, or as Chaucer calls them, 'tortuous,' and ascend in less than 2 hours; whilst the direct signs, from Cancer to Sagittarius, take more than 2 hours to ascend; as shewn in the table on p. 209. The eastern signs in fig. 2 are said to obey to the corresponding western ones.


29. Here both sides of the Astrolabe are used, the 'rewle' being made to revolve at the back, and the 'label' in front, as usual. First, by the back of the instrument and the 'rewle,' take the sun's altitude. Turn the Astrolabe round, and set the sun's degree at the right altitude among the almicanteras, and then observe, by help of the label, how far the sun is from the meridian. Again turn the instrument round, and set the 'rewle' as far from the meridian as the label was. Then, holding the instrument as near the ground and as horizontal as possible, let the sun shine through the holes of the 'rewle,' and immediately after lay the Astrolabe down, without altering the azimuthal direction of the meridional line. It is clear that this line will then point southwards, and the other points of the compass will also be known.


30. This turns upon the definition of the phrase 'the wey of the sonne.' It does not mean the zodiacal circle, but the sun's apparent path on a given day of the year. The sun's altitude changes but little in one day, and is supposed here to remain the same throughout the time that he is, on that day, visible. Thus, if the sun's altitude be 61½°, the way of the sun is a small circle, viz. the tropic of Cancer. If the planet be then on the zodiac, in the 1st degree of Capricorn, it is 47° S. from the way of the sun, and so on.

31. The word 'senith' is here used in a peculiar sense; it does not mean, as it should, the zenith point, or point directly overhead, but is made to imply the point on the horizon, (either falling upon an {214b}azimuthal line, or lying between two azimuths), which denotes the point of sunrise. In the Latin rubric, it is called signum. This point is found by actual observation of the sun at the time of rising. Chaucer's azimuths divide the horizon into 24 parts; but it is interesting to observe his remark, that 'shipmen' divide the horizon into 32 parts, exactly as a compass is divided now-a-days. The reason for the division into 32 parts is obviously because this is the easiest way of reckoning the direction of the wind. For this purpose, the horizon is first divided into 4 parts; each of these is halved, and each half-part is halved again. It is easy to observe if the wind lies half-way between S. and E., or half-way between S. and S.E., or again half-way between S. and S.S.E.; but the division into 24 parts would be unsuitable, because third-parts are much more difficult to estimate.

32. The Latin rubric interprets the conjunction to mean that of the sun and moon. The time of this conjunction is to be ascertained from a calendar. If, e.g. the calendar indicates 9 A.M. as the time of conjunction on the 12th day of March, when the sun is in the first point of {215b}Aries, as in § 3, the number of hours after the preceding midday is 21, which answers to the letter X in the border (fig. 2). Turn the rete till the first point of Aries lies under the label, which is made to point to X, and the label shews at the same moment that the degree of the sun is very nearly at the point where the equinoctial circle crosses the azimuthal circle which lies 50° to the E. of the meridian. Hence the conjunction takes place at a point of which the azimuth is 50° to the E. of the S. point, or 5° to the eastward of the S.E. point. The proposition merely amounts to finding the sun's azimuth at a given time. Fig. 11 shews the position of the rete in this case.

33. Here 'senyth' is again used to mean azimuth, and the proposition is, to find the sun's azimuth by taking his altitude, and setting his degree at the right altitude on the almicanteras. Of course the two co-ordinates, altitude and azimuth, readily indicate the sun's exact position; and the same for any star or planet.

34. The moon's latitude is never more than 5¼° from the ecliptic, {216b}and this small distance is, 'in common treatises of Astrolabie,' altogether neglected; so that it is supposed to move in the ecliptic. First, then, take the moon's altitude, say 30°. Next take the altitude of some bright star 'on the moon's side,' i.e. nearly in the same azimuth as the moon, taking care to choose a star which is represented upon the Rete by a pointed tongue. Bring this tongue's point to the right altitude among the almicanteras, and then see which degree of the ecliptic lies on the almicantera which denotes an altitude of 30°. This will give the moon's place, 'if the stars in the Astrolabe be set after the truth,' i.e. if the point of the tongue is exactly where it should be.

35. The motion of a planet is called direct, when it moves in the direction of the succession of the zodiacal signs; retrograde, when in the contrary direction. When a planet is on the right or east side of the Meridional line, and is moving forward along the signs, without {217b}increase of declination, its altitude will be less on the second occasion than on the first at the moment when the altitude of the fixed star is the same as before. The same is true if the planet be retrograde, and on the western side. The contrary results occur when the second altitude is greater than the first. But the great defect of this method is that it may be rendered fallacious by a change in the planet's declination.

36. See fig. 14, Plate VI. If the equinoctial circle in this figure be supposed to be superposed upon that in fig. 5, Plate III, and be further supposed to revolve backwards through an angle of about 60° till the point 1 (fig. 14) rests upon the point where the 8th hour-line crosses the equinoctial, the beginning of the 2nd house will then be found to be on the line of midnight. Similarly, all the other results mentioned follow. For it is easily seen that each 'house' occupies a space equal {218b}to 2 hours, so that the bringing of the 3rd house to the midnight line brings 1 to the 10th hour-line, and a similar placing of the 4th house brings 1 to the 12th hour-line, which is the horizon obliquus itself. Moving onward 2 more hours, the point 7 (the nadir of 1) comes to the end of the 2nd hour, whilst the 5th house comes to the north; and lastly, when 7 is at the end of the 4th hour, the 6th house is so placed. To find the nadir of a house, we have only to add 6; so that the 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th houses are the nadirs of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th houses respectively.

37. Again see fig. 14, Plate VI. Here the 10th house is at once seen to be on the meridional line. In the quadrant from 1 to 10, the even division of the quadrant into 3 parts shews the 12th and 11th {219b}houses. Working downwards from 1, we get the 2nd and 3rd houses, and the 4th house beginning with the north line. The rest are easily found from their nadirs.

38. This problem is discussed in arts. 144 and 145 of Hymes's Astronomy, 2nd ed. 1840, p. 84. The words 'for warping' mean 'to prevent the errors which may arise from the plate becoming warped.' The 'broader' of course means 'the larger.' See fig. 15, Plate VI. If the shadow of the sun be observed at a time before midday when its extremity just enters within the circle, and again at a time after midday when it is just passing beyond the circle, the altitude of the sun at these two observations must be the same, and {220b}the south line must lie half-way between the two shadows. In the figure, S and S′ are the 2 positions of the sun, OT the rod, Ot and Ot′ the shadows, and OR the direction of the south line. Ott′ is the metal disc.

39. This begins with an explanation of the terms 'meridian' and 'longitude.' 'They chaungen her Almikanteras' means that they differ in latitude. But, when Chaucer speaks of the longitude and latitude of a 'climate,' he means the length and breadth of it. A 'climate' (clima) is a belt of the earth included between two fixed parallels of latitude. The ancients reckoned seven climates; in the sixteenth century there were nine. The 'latitude of the climate' is the breadth of this belt; the 'longitude' of it he seems to consider as measured along lines lying equidistant between the parallels of latitude {221b}of the places from which the climates are named. See Stöffler, fol. 20 b; and Petri Apiani Cosmographia, per Gemmam Phrysium restituta, ed. 1574, fol. 7 b. The seven climates were as follows:—

1. That whose central line passes through Meroë (lat. 17°); from nearly 13° to nearly 20°.

2. Central line, through Syene (lat. 24°); from 20° to 27°, nearly.

3. Central line through Alexandria (lat. 31°); from 27° to 34°, nearly.

4. Central line through Rhodes (lat. 36°); from 34° to 39°, nearly.

5. Central line through Rome (lat. 41°); from 39° to 43°, nearly.

6. Central line through Borysthenes (lat. 45°); from 43° to 47°.

7. Through the Riphæan mountains (lat. 48°); from 47° to 50°. But Chaucer must have included an eighth climate (called ultra Mæotides paludes) from 50° to 56°; and a ninth, from 56° to the pole. The part of the earth to the north of the 7th climate was considered by the ancients to be uninhabitable. A rough drawing of these climates is given in MS. Camb. Univ. Lib. Ii. 3. 3, fol. 33 b.

40. The longitude and latitude of a planet being ascertained from an almanac, we can find with what degree it ascends. For example, {222b}given that the longitude of Venus is 6° of Capricorn, and her N. latitude 2°. Set the one leg of a compass upon the degree of longitude, and extend the other till the distance between the two legs is 2° of latitude, from that point inward, i.e. northward. The 6th degree of Capricorn is now to be set on the horizon, the label (slightly coated with wax) to be made to point to the same degree, and the north latitude is set off upon the wax by help of the compass. The spot thus marking the planet's position is, by a very slight movement of the Rete, to be brought upon the horizon, and it will be found that the planet (situated 2° N. of the 6th degree) ascends together with the head (or beginning of the sign) of Capricorn. This result, which is not quite exact, is easily tested by a globe. When the latitude of {223b}the planet is south, its place cannot well be found when in Capricorn for want of space at the edge of the Astrolabe.

As a second example, it will be found that, when Jupiter's longitude is at the end of 1° of Pisces, and his latitude 3° south, he ascends together with the 14th of Pisces, nearly. This is easily verified by a globe, which solves all such problems very readily.

It is a singular fact that most of the best MSS. leave off at the word 'houre,' leaving the last sentence incomplete. I quote the last five words—'þou shalt do wel y-now'—from the MS. in St. John's College, Cambridge; they also occur in the old editions.


41. Sections 41-43 and 41a-42b are from the MS. in St. John's College, Cambridge. For the scale of umbra recta, see fig. 1, Plate I. Observe that the umbra recta is used where the angle of elevation of an object is greater than 45°; the umbra versa, where it is less. See also fig. 16, Plate VI; where, if AC be the height of the tower, BC the same height minus the height of the observer's eye (supposed to be placed at E), and EB the distance of the observer from the tower, then bc : Eb :: EB : BC. But Eb is reckoned as 12, and if bc be 4, we find that BC is 3 EB, i.e. 60 feet, when EB is 20. Hence AC is 60 feet, plus the height of the observer's eye. The last sentence is to be read thus—'And if thy "rewle" fall upon 5, then are 5-12ths of the height equivalent to the space between thee and the tower (with addition of thine own height).' The MS. reads '5 12-partyes þe heyȝt of þe space,' &c.; but the word of must be transposed, in order to make sense. It is clear that, if bc = 5, then 5 : 12 :: EB : BC, which is the same as saying that EB = 512 BC. Conversely, BC is 125 EB = 48, if EB = 20.

42. See fig. 1, Plate I. See also fig. 17, Plate VI. Let Eb = 12, bc {225b}= 1; also E′b′ = 12, b′c′ = 2; then EB = 12 BC, E′B = 6 BC; therefore EE′ = 6 BC. If EE′ = 60 feet, then BC = 16 EE′=10 feet. To get the whole height, add the height of the eye. The last part of the article, beginning 'For other poyntis,' is altogether corrupt in the MS.

43. Here versa (in M.) is certainly miswritten for recta, as in L. See fig. 18, Plate VI. Here Eb = E′b′ = 12; b′c′ = 1, bc = 2. Hence E′B = 112 BC, EB = 212 BC. whence EE′ = 112 BC. Or again, if bc become = 3, 4, 5, &c., successively, whilst b′c′ remains = 1, then EE′ is successively = 212 or 16, 312 or 14, 512, &c. Afterwards, add in the height of E.


44. Sections 44 and 45 are from MS. Digby 72. This long explanation of the method of finding a planet's place depends upon the tables which were constructed for that purpose from observation. The general idea is this. The figures shewing a planet's position for the last day of December, 1397, give what is called the root, and afford us, in fact, a starting-point from which to measure. An 'argument' is the angle upon which the tabulated quantity depends; for example, a very important 'argument' is the planet's longitude, upon which its declination may be made to depend, so as to admit of tabulation. The planet's longitude for the given above-mentioned date being {227b}taken as the root, the planet's longitude at a second date can be found from the tables. If this second date be less than 20 years afterwards, the increase of motion is set down separately for each year, viz. so much in 1 year, so much in 2 years, and so on. These separate years are called anni expansi. But when the increase during a large round number of years (such as 20, 40, or 60 years at once) is allowed for, such years are called anni collecti. For example, a period of 27 years includes 20 years taken together, and 7 separate or expanse years. The mean motion during smaller periods of time, such as months, days, and hours, is added in afterwards.

45. Here the author enters a little more into particulars. If the {228b}mean motion be required for the year 1400, 3 years later than the starting-point, look for 3 in the table of expanse years, and add the result to the number already corresponding to the 'root,' which is calculated for the last day of December, 1397. Allow for months and days afterwards. For a date earlier than 1397 the process is just reversed, involving subtraction instead of addition.


46. This article is probably not Chaucer's. It is found in MS. Bodley 619, and in MS. Addit. 29250. The text is from the former of these, collated with the latter. What it asserts comes to this. Suppose it be noted, that at a given place, there is a full flood when the moon is in a certain quarter; say, e.g. when the moon is due east. And suppose that, at the time of observation, the moon's actual longitude is such that it is in the first point of Cancer. Make the label point due east; then bring the first point of Cancer to the east by turning the Rete a quarter of the way round. Let the sun at the time be in the first point of Leo, and bring the label over this point by the motion of the label only, keeping the Rete fixed. The label then points nearly to the 32nd degree near the letter Q, or about S.E. by E.; shewing that the sun is S.E. by E. (and the moon consequently due E.) at about 4 A.M. In fact, the article merely asserts that the moon's {230b}place in the sky is known from the sun's place, if the difference of their longitudes be known. At the time of conjunction, the moon and sun are together, and the difference of their longitudes is zero, which much simplifies the problem. If there is a flood tide when the moon is in the E., there is another when it comes to the W., so that there is high water twice a day. It may be doubted whether this proposition is of much practical utility.

41a: This comes to precisely the same as Art. 41, but is expressed with a slight difference. See fig. 16, where, if bc = 8, then BC = 128 EB.

41b: Merely another repetition of Art. 41. It is hard to see why it should be thus repeated in almost the same words. If bc = 8 in fig. 16, {231b}then EB = 812 BC = 23 BC. The only difference is that it inverts the equation in the last article.]

42a This is only a particular case of Art. 42. If we can get bc = 3, and b′c′ = 4, the equations become EB = 4BC, E′B = 3BC; whence EE′ = BC, a very convenient result. See fig. 17.]

43a: The reading versam (as in the MS.) is absurd. We must also read 'nat come,' as, if the base were approachable, no such trouble need be taken; see Art. 41. In fact, the present article is a mere repetition of Art. 43, with different numbers, and with a slight difference in the method of expressing the result. In fig. 18, if b′c′ = 3, bc = 4, we have E′B = 312 BC, EB = 412 BC; or, subtracting, EE′ = (4-3)/12 BC; or BC = 12 EE′. Then add the height of E, viz. Ea, which = AB.


42b.: Here, 'by the craft of Umbra Recta' signifies, by a method similar to that in the last article, for which purpose the numbers must be adapted for computation by the umbra recta. Moreover, it is clear, from fig. 17, that the numbers 4 and 3 (in lines 2 and 4) must be transposed. If the side parallel to bE be called nm, and mn, Ec be produced to meet in o, then mo : mE :: bE : bc; or mo : 12 :: 12 : bc; or mo = 144, divided by bc (= 3) = 48. Similarly, m′o′ = 144, divided by b′c′ (= 4) = 36. And, as in the last article, the difference of these is to 12, as the space EE′ is to the altitude. This is nothing but Art. 42 in a rather clumsier shape.

Hence it appears that there are here but 3 independent propositions, viz. those in articles 41, 42, and 43, corresponding to figs. 16, 17, and 18 respectively. Arts. 41a and 41b are mere repetitions of 41; 42a and 42b, of 42; and 43a, of 43.



As, in the preceding pages which contain the text, the lower portion of each page is occupied with a running commentary, such Critical Notes upon the text as seem to be most necessary are here subjoined.

Title. Tractatus, &c.; adopted from the colophon. MS. F has 'tractatus astrolabii.' A second title, 'Bred and mylk for childeren,' is in MSS. B. and E.

[The MSS. are as follows:—A. Cambridge Univ. Lib. Dd. 3. 53.—B. Bodley, E Museo 54.—C. Rawlinson 1370.—D. Ashmole 391.—E. Bodley 619.—F. Corpus 424.—G. Trin. Coll. Cam. R. 15. 18.—H. Sloane 314.—I. Sloane 261.—K. Rawlinson Misc. 3.—L. Addit. 23002. (B. M.)—M. St. John's Coll. Cam.—N. Digby 72.—O. Ashmole 360.—P. Camb. Univ. Lib. Dd. 12. 51.—Q. Ashmole 393.—R. Egerton 2622 (B. M.).—S. Addit. 29250 (B. M.) See the descriptions of them in the Introduction.]

Prologue. l. 26. thise B; þese C; miswritten this A; see above, ll. 21, 22.

32. curious BC; miswritten curios A.

Many similar very slight alterations of spelling have been silently made in the text, and are not worth specifying here. A complete list of them is given in my edition of this treatise for the Early English Text Society. I give, however, the real variations of reading. Thus, in l. 58, A. has som for sonne; and in l. 64 omits the second the.

Part I. § 1, l. 3. wol B; wolde AC.

§ 2, l. 2. Rowm is here an adjective, meaning large, ample. It is the right reading; we find Rowm AB rowme C; rvm M.

§ 3, l. 1. AB omit the.

§ 9, l. 3. nombre AB; noumbre C; but nombres in old editions.

§ 12, l. 5. The MSS. all[60] read—'vmbra recta or elles vmbra extensa, & the nether partie is cleped the vmbra versa.' This is certainly wrong.

§ 13, l. 2. a certein] so in AB; CM omit a. But Chaucer certainly uses the phrase 'a certain'; cf. 'of unces a certain,' C. T., G 776; and see G 1024.


§ 14, ll. 2, 5. The word halt for holdeth, and the expression to-hepe, together, both occur in Troil. iii. 1764:—

'And lost were al, that Love halt now to-hepe.'

§ 17, l. 1. principal C; tropikal AB; M om. The reading tropikal is absurd, because there are but two such; besides which, see l. 34 below.

17. the nyht (over an erasure) B; thee nyht (over an erasure) A; þe niȝtes C; þe nyȝtes M.

§ 20, l. 4. figure; here (and sometimes elsewhere) miswritten vigur A. Throughout the whole treatise, the scribe has commonly written 'vigur'; in many places, it has been corrected to 'figure.'

§ 21, l. 15. the (before sterres) supplied from BC.

27. where as C; wher AB.

56. ouerkeruyd A; ouerkerued B; ouerkerueth (the latter part of the word over an erasure) C; first time only.

Part II. § 2, l. 8. euer M; euere C; euery (wrongly) AB.

§ 3, ll. 31, 32. A has 12 degres, corrected to 18 degres; B. has 12 degrees; C has 18. The numbers in the MSS. in these propositions are somewhat uncertain; it seems probable that some alteration was made by Chaucer himself.

The readings in MS. B give one set of calculations, which are no doubt the original ones; for in MS. A the same set is again found, but altered throughout, by the scribe who drew the diagrams. The sets of readings are these:—

Ll. 31, 32. 12 degrees B; so in A, but altered to 18; C has 18.

37. passed 9 of the clokke the space of 10 degrees B; so in A, with 9 altered to 8, and 10 altered to 2; C has ij for 9, but agrees with A in the reading 2.

39. fond ther 10 degrees of taurus B; so in A originally, but 10 has been corrected to 23, and libra is written over an erasure. C agrees with neither, having 20 for 10, but agreeing with A as to libra. The later MSS. sometimes vary from all these.

42. an supplied from C; AB omit.

§ 4, l. 5. largest C; largesse AB.

6. upon C; vn (!) AB.

8. forseide degree of his longitude] forseyde same degre of hys longitude C; forseid same gre of his longitude P; forseyde latitude his longitude (sic!) AB.

9. planete ys C; miswritten planetes AB, but is is added in margin of A.

16. For '25 degrees,' all the MSS. have '15 degrees.' The mistake is probably Chaucer's own; the correction was made by Mr. Brae, who remarks that it is a mere translation from the Latin version of Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos, which has—'Signum ascendentis, quod est a quinque gradibus qui super horizontem ante ipsum ascenderant usque ad viginti quinque qui ad ascendentem remanserint'; Lib. iii. c. 10. In fact, it is clear that 25 must be added to 5 to make up the extent of a 'house,' which was 30 degrees.

16. ys like C; is lik P; miswritten illyk AB.

17. in is supplied from GM; ABC omit it.

23. second the supplied from CP; AB omit.

32. wel supplied from CPM; AB omit.

36. than] þan CM; þenne P; AB omit.

40. The number 10 is supplied from C; AB omit.

42. some folk supplied from CPG; AB omit.

44. yit is] AB wrongly have yit it is; but CPGM omit it.


§ 5, l. 3. by 2 and 2 ACG; by 3 and 3 P; left blank in B. Either reading makes sense, but it is clear that divisions representing three degrees each must have been very awkward.

10. of supplied from CPGM: AB omit.

§ 6, l. 5. est C; west A (which is absurd); west (corrected to est) B.

9. signe CGP; signes ABM.

§ 10, l. 3. than B; þan C; A has & by nyht, which is absurd.

4, 5. A omits day with the howr inequal of the, which is supplied from BCP; the number 30 is also supplied from BCM, as A has a blank space here; see l. 10.

§ 11, l. 12. The number 4 is from CP; AB omit; old edd. fourthe.

13. ther supplied from PM; þere C; AB omit.

§ 12, l. 1. the supplied from BC; A omits.

8. The figure 2 is from BCP; G has secunde; A omits.

§ 14, l. 9, 10. The last clause supplied from B.

§ 15, l. 6. pointe] point P; pointes A; pointz B; poyntes C; but grammar requires the singular.

9. the supplied from CP; AB omit.

§ 16, l. 5. AB wrongly insert the before Cancer; CP omit it.

8. y-lyke] Ilyke G; ilik P; y-like C; ilke AB; see l. 7.

§ 17. Latin rubric; for latitudinem (as in M) read longitudinem. l. 18. heued B; hed ACP; see sect. 16, l. 3. The word 'the' (rightly placed in BCMP) is, in A, wrongly placed before 'Aries' instead of before 'ende.'

23. second the] þe C; AB omit.

§ 19. Latin Rubric; for orizon (as in M) read statio.

§ 20. Latin Rubric; the MS. (M) transposes the words in and a, having a zodiaco in circulo, which contradicts the sense.

§ 22. Latin Rubric; for centri (as in M) read regionis.

§ 23, l. 21. The figure '8' is omitted in AB.

23. than] A omits; thanne inserted afterwards in B.

§ 25, l. 3. first the] supplied from B; AC omit.

15. CP om. and 10 minutes.

16. CP om. and minutes out. For 51 degrees and 50 minutes, C has 52, þan is 52 degrees; and P has 52. Þenne is .52. grees.

19. CP om. as I mighte prove.

20. the supplied from CP; AB om.

27. the firste degree] 10 degrees C; 10 gree P.

28. 58 degrees and 10 minutes] almost 56 C (meaning 56 degrees); almost .56. grees P.

29. almost 20] almost 18 C.

31. thee] C om. and odde Minutes] CP om.

It thus appears that there is a second set of readings, involving a different calculation. The second set supposes the Sun to be in the 10th degree of Leo, his altitude to be 56°, and his declination 18°; the difference, viz. 38°, is the complement of the latitude. Either set of readings suits the sense, but the one in the text agrees best with the former latitude, viz. 51°. 50′.

37. After there, C inserts 38 grees, þat is; and omits the words of the pole, 51 degrees and 50 minutes. But this is a mere repetition of the 'height of the Equinoctial,' and is obviously wrong. After pole, in l. 38, A inserts an that, which is unmeaning, and omitted in B.


§ 26, l. 8. Nearly all the MSS. omit from Fertherover down to right orisonte. The missing clause appears in MS. Bodley 619; I have not found it elsewhere. It is obviously correct, and agrees sufficiently closely with the conjectural addition by Mr. Brae, in his edition of Chaucer's Astrolabe, p. 48.

§ 27, l. 2. second the] supplied from BCPM; A om.

§ 28. Latin Rubric. MS. has in recto circulo; read obliquo.

3. set] sett C; sete P; AB omit.

11. these] þese C; thise B; the A.

23. ende] heed A; heued C. In fact, heed, heued, or hed seems to be the reading of all the MSS. and printed copies, and may have been a slip of the pen in the first instance. The reading ende is, however, amply justified by its previous occurrence, four times over, in lines 10, 13, 16, 18. We thus have

Six Northern signs. From head of Aries to end of Virgo.

Six Southern signs. From head of Libra to end of Pisces.

Six Tortuous signs. From head of Capricorn to end of Gemini.

Six Direct signs. From head of Cancer to end of Sagittarius.

Opposite 'sagittare' is written 'sagittarie' in the margin of A, probably as a correction; but it is left uncorrected in l. 27.

§ 29, l. 3. Turne thanne] Turne þan C; turne the thanne AB.

9. thou] þou C; two AB.

14. rewle] rule CP; miswritten rewles AB; see l. 9.

§ 30. l. 11. wey A; place C. After zodiak C inserts—for on þe morowe wol þe sonne be in a-noþer degre þan þan, et cetera; P inserts—For yn þe morowe wol þe sonne be yn an oþer gree, & norþer or souþer par aventure. Nothing can be plainer than that 'the way of the sun' in this passage means the small circle formed by the sun's apparent path during a day; the text says expressly—'the wey wher as the sonne wente thilke day.' We need not argue about the impossibility of a planet being found in 'the way of the Sun' at midnight at the time of the Summer solstice, because Chaucer makes no assertion whatever here about the relative positions of the sun and planet; indeed, he carefully repeats 'if' three times. He is only concerned with defining the phrase—'the latitude of a planet from the way of the sun'; and in every possible case, it is clear that a planet can be either (1) situate in the small circle called in the Latin rubric cursus solis, or (2) to the north of such a circle, or (3) to the south of such a circle. About this there need be no difficulty at all. It is all copied from Messahala.

§ 31, l. 7. azimut] azymutz ABC; cf. sect. 32, l. 8.

§ 33, l. 2. Azimut] Azymutz ABC; minutis P; the same error as in sect. 31, l. 7; but see sect. 32, l. 8.

3. second in] yn P; ABC omit.

4. the night] so in AB; CP om. the.

§ 34. English Rubric; latitude for] so in CP; latitude and for AB.

6. toucheth] touchiþ P; to which (sic) ABC; see sect. 27, l. 6.

§ 35, l. 15. After west side, AB add & yf he be on the est syde, a mere superfluous repetition; see l. 11.

17. sothly] soþly CP; miswritten he settes (!) AB.

18. hir Episicle] so in CP; by an odd mistake, AB put hire after manere, instead of before Episicle.

§ 37, l. 10. than] þan C; AB omit. is] AS omit; but it is obviously wanted; C varies here.


12. 12 house next] 12 hous next C; howses nex (sic) AB.

13. thanne] þan C; A omits. howse] hous C; howses AB.

17. AB absurdly insert fro before the byginning.

18. first the] þe C; AB omit.

§ 38, l. 1. warpyng MP; werpynge C; weripinge (sic) A.

2. first a CP; AB omit.

3, 4. an euene C; a enene AB (twice).

8. fro the centre; i.e. above the centre. The length of the pin, measured from the centre in which it is inserted, is to be not more than a quarter of the diameter, or half the radius. This would make the ratio of the gnomon to the shadow (or radius) to be one-half, corresponding to an altitude a, where tan a = ½; i.e. to an altitude of about 26½°. As Chaucer talks about the sun's altitude being 25½° at about 9 o'clock, at the time of the equinoxes (sect. 3), there is nothing that is particularly absurd in the text of this section. For Mr. Brae's conjectural emendations, see p. 56 of his edition.

16. tak thanne] so in P; tak me thanne AB; take me þan C. But there seems no sufficient reason for thus inserting me here.

§ 39. At this point MS. A, which has so far, in spite of occasional errors of the scribe, afforded a very fair text, begins to break down; probably because the corrector's hand has not touched the two concluding sections, although section 40 is much less corrupt. The result is worth recording, as it shews what we may expect to find, even in good MSS. of the Astrolabe. The section commences thus (the obvious misreadings being printed in italics):—

'This lyne Meridional ys but a Maner descripcion or the ymagined, that passeth vpon the pooles of þis the world And by the cenyth of owre heued / And hit is the same lyne Meridional / for in what place þat any maner man [omission] any tyme of the yer / whan that the sonne schyneth ony thing of the firmament cometh to his verrey Middel lyne of the place / than is hit verrey Midday, þat we clepen owre noon,' &c.

It seems clear that this apparent trash was produced by a careless scribe, who had a good copy before him; it is therefore not necessary to reject it all as unworthy of consideration, but it is very necessary to correct it by collation with other copies. And this is what I have done.

MS. B has almost exactly the same words; but the section is considerably better, in general sense, in MSS. C and P, for which reason I here quote from the former the whole section.

[Rawl. MS. Misc. 1370, fol. 40 b.]

Descripcioun of þe meridional lyne, of þe longitudes and latitudes of Citees and townes, as wel as of a (sic) clymatz.

39. conclusio. This lyne meridional is but a maner discripcion̄ or lyne ymagyned, þat passeþ upon þe pooles of þis worlde, and by þe Cenith of oure heued. ¶ And yt is cleped þe lyne meridional, for in what place þat any man ys at any time of þe ȝere, whan þat þe sonne by menynge of þe firmament come to his uerrey meridian place / þan is it þe uerrey mydday þat we clepe none, as to þilke man. And þerefore is yt cleped þe lyne of mydday. And nota, þat euermo of any .2. citees or of 2 townes, of which þat oo towne a-procheþ neer þe est þan doþ þe oþer towne, trust wel þat þilke townes han diuerse meridians. Nota also, þat þe arche of þe equinoxial, þat is contened or bownded by-twixe þe two meridians, is cleped þe longitude of þe towne. ¶ & ȝif so be / {238}þat two townes haue I-like meridian or one merydian, ¶ Than ys þe distaunce of hem boþe I-like fer from þe est, & þe contrarye. And in þis maner þei chaunge not her meridyan, but soþly, þei chaungen her almykanteras, For þe enhaunsynge of þe pool / and þe distaunce of þe sonne. ¶ The longitude of a clymate ys a lyne ymagyned fro þe est to þe west, I-like distaunte fro þe equinoxial. ¶ The latitude of a clymat may be cleped þe space of þe erþe fro þe by-gynnynge of þe first clymat unto þe ende of þe same clymat / euene-directe a-ȝens þe pool artyke. ¶ Thus seyn somme auctours / and somme clerkes seyn / þat ȝif men clepen þe latitude of a contrey[61], þe arche mer[i]dian þat is contened or intercept by-twixe þe Cenyth & þe equinoxial; þan sey þei þat þe distaunce fro þe equinoxial unto þe ende of a clymat, euene[62] a-gaynes þe pool artik, is þe latitude off þat climat[62] forsoþe.

The corrections made in this section are here fully described.

1. of lyne P; of a line I; or lyne C; or the AB.

2. this] þis the AB, absurdly; CP omit the, rightly.

3. ycleped the] y-clupid þe P; cleped þe C; the same (sic) AB.

4. is at; supplied from PCI; AB omit.

5. by moeving] by meuynge C; by mevyng PI; schyneth ony thing (sic) A; schyned eny thing B; for the spelling moeving, see sect. 35, l. 5.

6. meridian CP; meridianale I; Middel lyne of the (sic) AB.

8. 2 citees CI; too citees P; any lynes (sic) AB.

9. aprocheth] a-procheþ C; aprochiþ P; miswritten aprochid AB.

more toward] neer C; ner P; neerer I; thoward AB.

11. conteyned I; conteynyd P; contened C; consideered (sic) A; contined B.

13. yf P; ȝif C; if it I; AB omit. N.B. It is best to use the spelling yif, as the word is commonly so spelt in A.

22. same CPI; seconde AB. The reading same is right; for the 'latitude of a climate' means the breadth of a zone of the earth, and the latitude of the first climate (here chosen by way of example) is the breadth as measured along a great circle perpendicular to the equator, from the beginning of the said first climate to the end of the same. The words 'evene-directe agayns the poole Artik' mean in the direction of the North pole; i.e. the latitude of a climate is reckoned from its beginning, or southernmost boundary-line, towards the end of the same, viz. its northern boundary-line.

22. þe poole Artik P; þe pool artyke C; the pole artike I; from north to south AB. Observe that this singular error in A, 'euene directe agayns from north to south,' probably arose from a confusion of the text 'euene directe agayns þe poole Artik' with a gloss upon it, which was 'from north to south.' It is important as throwing light on the meaning of the phrase, and proving that the interpretation of it given above (note to l. 22) is correct.

24. intercept CP; intercepte I; except (over an erasure) AB.

The only reading about which there is any doubt is that in line 18, which may be either 'illike distant by-twene them alle' (A), or 'I-like distaunte fro þe equinoxial' (C). But it is immaterial which reading be adopted, since Illike-distant is here used merely in the sense of parallel, and the boundaries of the climates are parallel both to one another, and to the equinoctial. The climates themselves were of different breadths.


§ 40, l. 4. this samples AB; þese ensamples C.

5. for sothe] miswritten for sonne AB; in general C; yn special P; the reading sonne points to sothe, and makes it very probable that for sothe is the true reading.

6. the longitude] þe longitude C; latitude AB (absurdly); see l. 11.

7. planete; miswritten that A, but corrected to planete in the margin; C has planete, correctly. The figure 6 is omitted in C; so are all the other figures further on. him] hir C.

8. I tok] Than toke I C. 8, 16. 2 degrees A; 3 degrees B.

10. Than tok I] Than toke I C; for tok AB wrongly have stykke, afterwards altered to stokke in A. second the] supplied from C, which has þe; AB omit.

23. the] þe C; AB omit.

27. prikke] prickes C; perhaps prikkes would be a better reading.

29. AB omit the figure 2; but see l. 8.

31. in alle] in al C; A has septentrionalle, an obvious mistake for septentrional in alle, by confusion of the syllable 'al' in the former with 'al' in the latter word; B has septentrional, omitting in alle.

34. signes C] tymes AB (wrongly); see l. 32.

46. Perhaps evene before of should be omitted, as in C. AB have in the ende euene ouer of thee, where euene ouer is repeated from the former part of the line.

47. F endlang] F endlonge C; A euene AB; but see ll. 23, 24.

A omits of and degrees, yet both are required; BC omit of 3 degrees altogether.

49. til] tyl þat C; tho AB (absurdly).

50. saw] sey C; may AB; see l. 28.

56. hir] his ABC. a] ABC omit.

57. At the word houre four of the best MSS. break off, viz. MSS. ABCE, although E adds one more section, viz. sect. 46; others come to a sudden end even sooner, viz. MSS. DFGHK. But MS. P carries us on to the end of sect. 43, and supplies the words—þu shalt do wel ynow, as in the old editions.

§ 41. 7. betwixe] be M (wrongly); betwixe R; by-twyx L.

M inserts & before to þe altitude; a mere slip. For; miswritten Fro M.

8. thridde; miswritten ridde M; þrydde R.

13. LM wrongly place of after the heyȝt instead of before it.

§ 42, l. 2. see] so in LR; miswritten sette M; see sect. 41, l. 4.

3. second I] so L; y R; M omits.

8. M omits as, above, and is þe; L has 12 passethe 6 the.

11. seest] so in LR; miswritten settest M.

12. 60] so in LNR; sexe M.

13. M omits from 10 is to 10 feet, which is supplied from NLPR.

14. For] so in LNR; fro M.

15. For 2, M has 6; so also R. For 3, M has 4.

16. For 2, M has 6; for 6, M has 2; and the words and 3 is 4 partyes of 12 are omitted, though L has—& 4 is the thrid partye of 12.

17. betwen R] by-twene L; bitwixe P; miswritten be M; cf. sect. 41, 7.

19. thre R] 3 LP; miswritten þe M.

§ 43. Rubric in M, Umbra Versa; obviously a mistake for Recta. The error is repeated in l. 1. LPR rightly read Recta.


3. M omits 1, which is supplied from LPR; see l. 5.

11. After heythe (as in M), LNR add to thyn eye. In place of lines 9-11, P has—& so of alleer, &c.

§ 44. From MS. Digby 72 (N). Also in LMOR.

2. fro] so in LO; for M.

3. into] so in L; in M. for] so in O; fro M.

6. ȝeris M; LNO omit.

7. tabelis NO; table M; tables L.

8. where L; qwere O; wheþer N.

9. loke LM; N omits.

11, 2. NM omit from or what to or; supplied from O, which has—or qwat nombre þat euere it be, tyl þe tyme þat þou come to 20, or 40, or 60. I have merely turned qwat into what, as in L, which also has this insertion.

13. wreten N; the alteration to wryte is my own; see l. 23.

under] so in L; vndirneþe M.

14. to-geder] too-geder M; miswritten to 2 degreis N; to the 2 degrees L.

15. hast M; miswritten laste N; last L.

16. that (1); supplied from M; LN omit. For 1 (as in M) LN have 10.

21. to-gedere M; to the degreis N; 2 grees O; to degrees L.

22. that (2); supplied from M; LNO omit.

lasse] passid LNO; M omits. Of course passid is wrong, and equally of course lasse is right; see ll. 5, 6 above, and l. 25 below.

25. that] so in L; þat MO; if hit N.

27. entringe] entre M; entre L. ther] so in M; miswritten the ȝere N; the ȝeer L.

30. merydie LM; merdie N.

32. for LM; fro N (twice).

34. thaȝthe N; have tauȝt M; have tawȝt O; haue tauht L.

36. the (1); supplied from M; LNO omit.

with the] so in M; wyche N; see l. 36.

40. in (2)] in-to N; yn M.

§ 45. From MS. Digby 72 (N); also in LOR; but not in M.

4. that N; the L; þe O (after wryte in l. 3).

6. wrytoun O; Iwyton N. But L has I wold wyttyn; read—I wolde witen precise my rote; cf. ll. 19, 30.

8. 1397] miswritten 1391 LN; O has 1391, corrected to 1397; see l. 3.

11. soȝth N; sowte O; sowthe L; read soghte.

14. vnder N; vndyr-nethe O; vndre-nethe L.

20, 1. oþer in any oþer tyme or monyth N; or any oder tymys or monthys O; or in eny other moneth L.

27. adde] supplied from L; NO omit. There is no doubt about it, for see l. 16.

31. wete the] so in O; wete thi L; miswritten with thy N; see l. 19.

35. and (3)] supplied from LO; N omits.

§ 46, 5, 6. þat same E; þe same S.

10. it S; E omits.

13. þat same (om. tyme) E; þe same tyme S.

16. þou þan esely E; than shallt thou easly S.

17. tyme of E; tyme of the S.


20. S meve (for bringe furþe).

§ 41a. This and the remaining sections are certainly spurious. They occur in LMNR, the first being also found in O. The text of 41a-42b is from M.

3. hast] supplied from LR; M omits.

§ 42a, 1. heyth by þy N; heyth by the L; heythe bi þi R; M om.

4. lyk] lykk M; L. omits. mete] mette M; mett L.

9. is L; miswritten bys M.

§ 43a, 1. nat] not R; nott L; M omits; see the footnote. In the rubric, M has versam; but L has the rubric—Vmbra Recta.

§ 42b, 5. as] so in LR; miswritten & M.

6. 4 is supplied from LR; M omits.




Written in three Books; but I number the lines consecutively throughout, for convenience; at the same time giving the separate numbering (of Books II. and III.) within marks of parenthesis. The title of the poem is expressly given at l. 663. The author gives his name as Geffrey; l. 729.

Lydgate's Temple of Glass is partly imitated from the House of Fame; Warton, Hist. E. Poetry, 1871, iii. 61. The same is true of the Palice of Honour, by Gawain Douglas. For further remarks, see the Introduction.

As the poem is not quite easy to follow, I here subjoin a brief Argument of its contents.

Book I. A discussion on dreams. I will tell you my dream on the 10th of December. But first let me invoke Morpheus. May those who gladly hear me have joy; but may those who dislike my words have as evil a fate as Crœsus, King of Lydia! (1-110).

I slept, and dreamt I was in a temple of glass, dedicated to Venus. On a table of brass I found the opening words of Vergil's Æneid; after which I saw the destruction of Troy, the death of Priam, the flight of Æneas, the loss of Creusa, the voyage of Æneas to Italy, the storm at sea sent by Juno, the arrival of Æneas at Carthage, how kindly Dido received him, and how Æneas betrayed and left her, causing Dido's lament and suicide. Similar falsehood was seen in Demophon, Achilles, Paris, Jason, Hercules, and Theseus. Next, Æneas sailed to Italy, and lost Palinurus; he visited the lower regions, where he saw Anchises, Palinurus, Dido, and Deiphobus. Afterwards he warred in Italy, slew Turnus, and won Lavinia (111-467).


After this I went out of the temple, and found a large plain. Looking up, I saw an eagle above me, of enormous size and having golden feathers (468-508).

Book II. Such a strange vision as mine never appeared to Scipio, Nebuchadnezzar, Pharaoh, or Turnus. O Venus and Muses, help me to tell it! The great eagle swooped down upon me, seized me, and bore me aloft, and told me (in a man's voice) not to be afraid. I thought I was being borne up to the stars, like Enoch or Ganymede. The eagle then addressed me, and told me some events of my own life, and said that he would bear me to the House of Fame, where I should hear many wonderful things (509-710).

The House stood in the midst, between heaven, earth, and sea; and all sounds travelled thither, 'Geoffrey,' said he, 'you know how all things tend to seek their own proper place; a stone sinks down, while smoke flies up. Sound is merely broken air, and if you would know how all sounds come to Fame's House, observe how, when a stone is thrown into water, the rings made by the ripples extend from the spot where it fell till they reach the shore. Just so all earthly sounds travel till they reach Fame's House.' He then bade me look below me, and asked what I saw. I saw fields, hills, rivers, towns, and sea; but soon he had soared so high that the earth dwindled to a point. I was higher up (I said) than ever was Alexander, Scipio, or Dædalus. He then bade me look upward; I saw the zodiac, the milky way, and clouds, snows, and rain beneath me. Then I thought of the descriptions of heaven in Boethius and Marcian. The eagle would have taught me the names of the stars; I refused to learn. He then asked if I could now hear the sounds that murmured in the House of Fame. I said they sounded like the beating of the sea on rocks (711-1045).

Then he set me down upon my feet in a way that led to the House, and bade me go forward; observing that I should find that the words that flew about in Fame's House assumed the outward forms of the men upon earth who uttered them (1046-90).

Book III. Apollo, aid me to write this last book! My rime is artless; I aim at expressing my thoughts only (1091-1109).

The House of Fame stood high upon a lofty rock, which I climbed laboriously. The rock was formed of ice. On the southern side it was covered with names, many of the letters of which were melted away. On the northern side, it was likewise covered with names, which remained unmelted and legible. On the top of the mountain I found a beautiful House, which I cannot describe though I remember it. It was all of beryl, and full of windows. In niches round about were harpers and minstrels, such as Orpheus, Arion, Chiron, and Glasgerion. Far from these, by themselves, was a vast crowd of musicians. There were Marsyas, Misenus, Joab, and others. In other seats were jugglers, sorcerers, and magicians; Medea, Circe, Hermes, and Coll Tregetour. I next beheld the golden gates. Then I heard the cries of those that were heralds to the goddess Fame. How shall I describe the great {245}hall, that was plated with gold, and set with gems? High on a throne of ruby sat the goddess, who at first seemed but a dwarf, but presently grew so that she reached, from earth to heaven. Her hair was golden, and she was covered with innumerable ears and tongues. Her shoulders sustained the names of famous men, such as Alexander and Hercules. On either side of the hall were huge pillars of metal. On the first of these, composed of lead and iron, was the Jew Josephus; the iron was the metal of Mercury, and the lead of Saturn. Next, on an iron pillar, was Statius; and on other iron pillars were Homer, Dares, Dictys, Guido, and the English Geoffrey, who upbore the fame of Troy. On a pillar of iron, but covered over with tin, was Vergil; and beside him Ovid and Lucan. On a pillar of sulphur stood Claudian (1110-1512).

Next I saw a vast company, all worshipping Fame. These she rejected, but would say of them neither good nor bad. She then sent a messenger to fetch Æolus, the god of wind, who should bring with him two trumpets, namely of Praise and Slander. Æolus, with his man Triton, came to Fame. And when many undeserving suppliants approached her, she bade Æolus blow his black trump of Slander. He did so, and from it there issued a stinking smoke; and so this second company got renown, but it was evil. A third company sued to her, and she bade Æolus blow his golden trump of Praise. Straightway he did so, and the blast had a perfume like that of balm and roses. A fourth company, a very small one, asked for no fame at all, and their request was granted. A fifth company modestly asked for no fame, though they had done great things; but Fame bade Æolus blow his golden trumpet, till their praise resounded everywhere. A sixth company of idle men, who had done no good, asked for fame; and their request was granted. A seventh company made the same request; but Fame reviled them; Æolus blew his black trump, and all men laughed at them. An eighth company, of wicked men, prayed for good fame; but their request was refused. A ninth company, also of wicked men, prayed for a famous but evil name, and their request was granted. Among them was the wretch who set on fire the temple at Athens (1513-1867).

Then some man perceived me, and began to question me. I explained that I had come to learn strange things, and not to gain fame. He led me out of the castle and into a valley, where stood the house of Dædalus (i.e. the house of Rumour). This strange house was made of basket-work, and was full of holes, and all the doors stood wide open. All sorts of rumours entered there, and it was sixty miles long. On a rock beside it I saw my eagle perched, who again seized me, and bore me into it through a window. It swarmed with people, all of whom were engaged in telling news; and often their stories would fly out of a window. Sometimes a truth and a lie would try to fly out together, and became commingled before they could get away. Every piece of news then flew to Fame, who did as she pleased with {246}each. The house of Dædalus was thronged with pilgrims, pardoners, couriers, and messengers, and I heard strange things. In one corner men were telling stories about love, and there was a crush of men running to hear them. At last I saw a man whom I knew not; but he seemed to be one who had great authority—(here the poem ends, being incomplete; ll. 1868-2158).

The general idea of the poem was plainly suggested by the description of Fame in Vergil, the house of Fame as described near the beginning of the twelfth book of Ovid's Metamorphoses, and various hints in Dante's Divina Commedia. For a close and searching comparison between the House of Fame and Dante's great poem, see the article by A. Rambeau in Engl. Studien, iii. 209.

1. For this method of commencing a poem with a dream, compare The Book of the Duchesse, Parl. of Foules, and The Romance of the Rose.

For discourses on dreams, compare the Nonne Preestes Tale, and the remarks of Pandarus in Troilus, v. 358-385. Chaucer here propounds several problems; first, what causes dreams (a question answered at some length in the Nonne Preestes Tale, B 4116); why some come true and some do not (discussed in the same, B 4161); and what are the various sorts of dreams (see note to l. 7 below).

There is another passage in Le Roman de la Rose, which bears some resemblance to the present passage. It begins at l. 18699:—

'Ne ne revoil dire des songes,

S'il sunt voirs, ou s'il sunt mençonges;

Se l'en les doit du tout eslire,

Ou s'il sunt du tout à despire:

Porquoi li uns sunt plus orribles,

Plus bel li autre et plus paisible,

Selonc lor apparicions

En diverses complexions,

Et selonc lors divers corages

Des meurs divers et des aages;

Ou se Diex par tex visions

Envoie revelacions,

Ou li malignes esperiz,

Por metre les gens en periz;

De tout ce ne m'entremetrai.'

2. This long sentence ends at line 52.

7. This opens up the question as to the divers sorts of dreams. Chaucer here evidently follows Macrobius, who, in his Commentary on the Somnium Scipionis, lib. i. c. 3, distinguishes five kinds of dreams, viz. somnium, visio, oraculum, insomnium, and visum. The fourth kind, insomnium, was also called fantasma; and this provided Chaucer with the word fantome in l. 11. In the same line, oracles answers to the Lat. oracula. Cf. Ten Brink, Studien, p. 101.


18. The gendres, the (various) kinds. This again refers to Macrobius, who subdivides the kind of dream which he calls somnium into five species, viz. proprium, alienum, commune, publicum, and generale, according to the things to which they relate. Distaunce of tymes, i.e. whether the thing dreamt of will happen soon, or a long time afterwards.

20. 'Why this is a greater (more efficient) cause than that.'

21. This alludes to the four chief complexions of men; cf. Nonne Preestes Tale, B 4114. The four complexions were the sanguine, phlegmatic, melancholy, and choleric; and each complexion was likely to have certain sorts of dreams. Thus, in the Nonne Preestes Tale, B 4120, the choleric man is said to dream of arrows, fire, fierce carnivorous beasts, strife, and dogs; whilst the melancholy man will dream of bulls and bears and black devils.

22. Reflexiouns, the reflections or thoughts to which each man is most addicted; see Parl. of Foules, 99-105.

24. 'Because of too great feebleness of their brain (caused) by abstinence,' &c.

43. Of propre kynde, owing to its own nature.

48. The y in By is run on to the a into avísióuns.

53. 'As respects this matter, may good befall the great clerks that treat of it.' Of these great clerks, Macrobius was one, and Jean de Meun another. Vincent of Beauvais has plenty to say about dreams in his Speculum Naturale, lib. xxvi.; and he refers us to Aristotle, Gregory (Moralia, lib. viii.), Johannes de Rupella, Priscianus (ad Cosdroe regem Persarum) Augustinus (in Libro de diuinatione dæmonum), Hieronimus (super Matheum, lib. ii.), Thomas de Aquino, Albertus, &c.

58. Repeated (nearly) from l. 1.

63. I here give the text as restored by Willert, who shows how the corruptions in ll. 62 and 63 arose. First of all dide was shifted into l. 62, giving as dide I; as in Caxton's print. Next, an additional now was put in place of dide in l. 63; as in P., B., F., and Th., and dide was dropped alltogether. After this, F. turned the now of l. 64 into yow, and Cx. omitted it. See also note to l. 111.

64. 'Which, as I can (best) now remember.'

68. Pronounced fully:—With spé-ci-ál de-vó-ci-óun.

69. Morpheus; see Book of Duch. 137. From Ovid, Met. xi. 592-612; esp. ll. 602, 3:—

'Saxo tamen exit ab imo

Riuus aquae Lethes.'

73. 'Est prope Cimmerios,' &c.; Met. xi. 592.

75. See Ovid, Met. xi. 613-5; 633.

76. That ... hir is equivalent to whose; cf. Kn. Tale, 1852.

81. Cf. 'Colui, che tutto move,' i.e. He who moves all; Parad. i. 1.

88. Read povért; cf. Clerkes Tale, E 816.


92. MSS. misdeme; I read misdemen, to avoid an hiatus.

93. Read málicióus.

98. 'That, whether he dream when bare-footed or when shod'; whether in bed by night or in a chair by day; i.e. in every case. The that is idiomatically repeated in l. 99.

105. The dream of Crœsus, king of Lydia, and his death vpon a gallows, form the subject of the last story in the Monkes Tale. Chaucer got it from the Rom. de la Rose, which accounts for the form Lyde. The passage occurs at l. 6513:—

'Cresus ...

Qui refu roi de toute Lyde, ...

Qu'el vous vuet faire au gibet pendre.'

109, 10. The rime is correct, because abreyd is a strong verb. Chaucer does not rime a pp. with a weak pt. tense, which should have a final e. According to Mr. Cromie's Rime-Index, there is just one exception, viz. in the Kn. Tale, A 1383, where the pt. t. seyde is rimed with the 'pp. leyde.' But Mr. Cromie happens to have overlooked the fact that leyde is here not the pp., but the past tense! Nevertheless, abreyd-e also appears in a weak form, by confusion with leyd-e, seyd-e, &c.; see C. T., B 4198, E 1061. Cf. Book of the Duchess, 192. In l. 109, he refers to l. 65.

111. Here again, as in l. 63, is a mention of Dec. 10. Ten Brink (Studien, p. 151) suggests that it may have been a Thursday; cf. the mention of Jupiter in ll. 608, 642, 661. If so, the year was 1383.

115. 'Like one that was weary with having overwalked himself by going two miles on pilgrimage.' The difficulty was not in the walking two miles, but in doing so under difficulties, such as going barefoot for penance.

117. Corseynt; O.F. cors seint, lit. holy body; hence a saint or sainted person, or the shrine where a saint was laid. See Robert of Brunne, Handlyng Synne, 8739:—

'And hys ymage ful feyre depeynte,

Ryȝt as he were a cors seynt.'

See also P. Plowman, B. v. 539; Morte Arthure, 1164; and (the spurious) Chaucer's Dream, 942.

118. 'To make that soft (or easy) which was formerly hard.' The allusion is humorous enough; viz. to the bonds of matrimony. Here again Chaucer follows Jean de Meun, Rom. de la Rose, 8871:—

'Mariages est maus liens,

Ainsinc m'aïst saint Juliens

Qui pelerins errans herberge,

Et saint Lienart qui defferge

Les prisonniers bien repentans,

Quant les voit à soi démentans';


i.e. 'Marriage is an evil bond—so may St. Julian aid me, who harbours wandering pilgrims; and St. Leonard, who frees from their fetters (lit. un-irons) such prisoners as are very repentant, when he sees them giving themselves the lie (or recalling their word).' The 'prisoners' are married people, who have repented, and would recall their plighted vow.

St. Leonard was the patron-saint of captives, and it was charitably hoped that he would extend his protection to the wretched people who had unadvisedly entered into wedlock, and soon prayed to get out of it again. They would thus exchange the hard bond for the soft condition of freedom. 'St. Julian is the patron of pilgrims; St. Leonard and St. Barbara protect captives'; Brand, Pop. Antiquities, i. 359. And, at p. 363 of the same, Brand quotes from Barnabee Googe:—

'But Leonerd of the prisoners doth the bandes asunder pull,

And breaks the prison-doores and chaines, wherewith his church is full.'

St. Leonard's day is Nov. 6.

119. The MSS. have slept-e, which is dissyllabic. Read sleep, as in C. T. Prol. 397.

120. Hence the title of one of Lydgate's poems, The Temple of Glass, which is an imitation of the present poem.

130. Cf. the description of Venus' temple (Cant. Tales, A 1918), which is imitated from that in Boccaccio's Teseide.

133. Cf. 'naked fleting in the large see.... And on hir heed, ful semely for to see, A rose garland, fresh and wel smellinge'; Cant. Tales, A 1956.

137. 'Hir dowves'; C. T., A 1962. 'Cupido'; id. 1963.

138. Vulcano, Vulcan; note the Italian forms of these names. Boccaccio's Teseide has Cupido (vii. 54), and Vulcano (vii. 43). His face was brown with working at the forge.

141, 2. Cf. Dante, Inf. iii. 10, 11.

143. A large portion of the rest of this First Book is taken up with a summary of the earlier part of Vergil's Aeneid. We have here a translation of the well-known opening lines:—

'Arma uirumque cano, Troiae qui primus ab oris

Italiam, fato profugus, Lauinia uenit


147. In, into, unto; see note to l. 366.

152. Synoun, Sinon; Aen. ii. 195.

153. I supply That, both for sense and metre.

155. Made the hors broght, caused the horse to be brought. On this idiom, see the note to Man of Lawes Tale, B 171.

158. Ilioun, Ilium. Ilium is only a poetical name for Troy; but the medieval writers often use it in the restricted sense of the citadel of Troy, where was the temple of Apollo and the palace of Priam. {250}Thus, in the alliterative Troy-book, 11958, ylion certainly has this sense; and Caxton speaks of 'the palays of ylyon'; see Spec. of English, ed. Skeat, p. 94. See also the parallel passage in the Nonne Preestes Tale, B 4546. Still more clearly, in the Leg. Good Women (Dido, 13), Chaucer says, of 'the tour of Ilioun,' that it 'of the citee was the cheef dungeoun.' In l. 163 below, it is called castel.

160. Polites, Polites; Aen. ii. 526. Also spelt Polite in Troil. iv. 53.

163. Brende, was on fire; used intransitively, as in l. 537.

164-73. See Aen. ii. 589-733.

174. Read this, rather than his. Cf. Aen. ii. 736.

177. Iulus and Ascanius were one and the same person; see Æn. i. 267. Perhaps Ch. was misled by the wording of Æn. iv. 274. (On the other hand, Brutus was not the same person as Cassius; see Monkes Tale, B 3887). Hence, Koch proposes to read That hight instead of And eek; but we have no authority for this. However, Chaucer has it right in his Legend of Good Women, 941; and in l. 192 below, we find sone, not sones; hence l. 178 may be merely parenthetical.

182. Wente, foot-path; Aen. ii. 737. Cf. Book Duch. 398.

184. 'So that she was dead, but I know not how.' Vergil does not say how she died.

185. Gost, ghost; see Aen. ii. 772.

189. Repeated from l. 180.

198. Here Chaucer returns to the first book of the Æneid, which he follows down to l. 255.

204. 'To blow forth, (with winds) of all kinds'; cf. Æn. i. 85.

219. Ioves, Jove, Jupiter. This curious form occurs again, ll. 586, 597, 630; see note to l. 586. Boccaccio has Giove.

226. Achatee (trisyllabic), Achates, Æn. i. 312; where the abl. form Achate occurs.

239. The story of Dido is told at length in Le Rom. de la Rose, 13378; in The Legend of Good Women; and in Gower, Conf. Amantis, bk. iv., ed. Pauli, ii. 4. Chaucer now passes on to the fourth book of the Æneid, till he comes to l. 268 below.

265. 'Mès ja ne verrés d'aparence Conclurre bonne consequence'; Rom. Rose, 12343.

272. 'It is not all gold that glistens.' A proverb which Chaucer took from Alanus de Insulis; see note to Can. Yem. Tale, G 962.

273. 'For, as sure as I hope to have good use of my head.' Brouke is, practically, in the optative mood. Cf. 'So mote I brouke wel myn eyen tweye'; Cant. Ta., B 4490; so also E 2308. The phrase occurs several times in the Tale of Gamelyn; see note to l. 334 of that poem.

280-3. These four lines occur in Thynne's edition only, but are probably quite genuine. It is easy to see why they dropped out; viz. owing to the repetition of the word finde at the end of ll. 279 and 283. This is a very common cause of such omissions. See note to l. 504.


286. By, with reference to.

288. Gest, guest; Lat. aduena, Æn. iv. 591.

290. 'He that fully knows the herb may safely lay it to his eye.' So in Cotgrave's Dict., s.v. Herbe, we find; 'L'herbe qu'on cognoist, on la doit lier à son doigt; Prov. Those, or that, which a man knowes best, he must use most.'

305. In the margin of MSS. F. and B. is here written:—'Cauete uos, innocentes mulieres.'

315. Swete herte; hence E. sweetheart; cf. l. 326.

321. Understand ne (i.e. neither) before your love. Cf. Æn. iv. 307, 8.

329. I have no hesitation in inserting I after Agilte, as it is absolutely required to complete the sense. Read—Agílt' I yów, &c.

343. Pronounce détermínen (i as ee in beet).

346. Cf. Æn. iv. 321-3.

350. 'Fama, malum quo non aliud uelocius ullum,' Æn. iv. 174; quoted in the margin of MSS. F. and B.

351. 'Nichil occultum quod non reueletur'; Matt. x. 26: quoted in the margin of MSS. F. and B.

355. Seyd y-shamed be, said to be put to shame.

359. Eft-sones, hereafter again. In the margin of MSS. F. and B. we here find:—'Cras poterunt turpia fieri sicut heri.' By reading fieri turpia, this becomes a pentameter; but it is not in Ovid, nor (I suppose) in classical Latin.

361. Doon, already done. To done, yet to be done. Cf. Book Duch. 708.

366. I read in for into (as in the MSS.). For similar instances, where the scribes write into for in, see Einenkel, Streifzüge durch die Mittelengl. Syntax, p. 145. Cf. l. 147.

367. In the margin of MSS. F. and B. is an incorrect quotation of Æn. iv. 548-9:—'tu prima furentem His, germana, malis oneras.'

378. Eneidos; because the books are headed Æneidos liber primus, &c.

379. See Ovid, Heroides, Epist. vii—Dido Æneæ.

380. Or that, ere that, before.

381. Only Th. has the right reading, viz. And nere it to longe to endyte (where longe is an error for long). The expressions And nor hyt were and And nere it were are both ungrammatical. Nere = ne were, were it not.

388. In the margin of F. and B. we find:—'Nota: of many vntrewe louers. Hospita, Demaphoon, tua te R[h]odopeia Phyllis Vltra promissum tempus abesse queror.' These are the first two lines of Epistola ii. in Ovid's Heroides, addressed by Phyllis to Demophoon. All the examples here given are taken from the same work. Epist. iii. is headed Briseis Achilli; Epist. v., Oenone Paridi; Epist. vi., Hypsipyle Iasoni; Epist. xii., Medea Iasoni; Epist. ix., Deianira Herculi; Epist. x., Ariadne Theseo. These names were evidently suggested by the {252}reference above to the same work, l. 379. See the long note to Group B, l. 61, in vol. v.

Demophoon, son of Theseus, was the lover of Phyllis, daughter of king Sithon in Thrace; she was changed into an almond-tree.

392. His terme pace, pass beyond or stay behind his appointed time. He said he would return in a month, but did not do so. See the story in The Legend of Good Women. Gower (ed. Pauli, iii. 361) alludes to her story, in a passage much like the present one; and in Le Rom. de la Rose, 13417, we have the very phrase—'Por le terme qu'il trespassa.'

397. In the margin of F. and B.:—'Ouidius. Quam legis a rapta Briseide litera venit'; Heroid. Ep. iii. 1.

401. In the same:—'Ut [miswritten Vbi] tibi Colc[h]orum memini regina uacaui'; Heroid. Ep. xii. 1. For the accentuation of Medea, cf. Leg. of Good Women, 1629, 1663.

402. In the margin of F. and B.:—'Gratulor Oechaliam'; Heroid. Ep. ix. 1; but Oechaliam is miswritten yotholia.

405. Gower also tells this story; ed. Pauli, ii. 306.

407. In F. and B. is quoted the first line of Ovid, Heroid. x. 1. Adriane, Ariadne; just as in Leg. Good Wom. 2171, &c., and in C. T., Group B, l. 67. Gower has Adriagne.

409. 'For, whether he had laughed, or whether he had frowned'; i.e. in any case. Cf. l. 98.

411. 'If it had not been for Ariadne.' We have altered the form of this idiom.

416. Yle, isle of Naxos; see notes to Leg. Good Wom. 2163, and C. T., Group B, l. 68 (in vol. v.).

426. Telles is a Northern and West-Midland form, as in Book Duch. 73. Cf. falles, id. 257. A similar admixture of forms occurs in Havelok, Will. of Palerne, and other M.E. poems.

429. The book, i.e. Vergil; Æn. iv. 252.

434. Go, gone, set out; correctly used. Chaucer passes on to Æneid, bk. v. The tempest is that mentioned in Æn. v. 10; the steersman is Palinurus, who fell overboard; Æn. v. 860.

439. See Æn. bk. vi. The isle intended is Crete, Æn. vi. 14, 23; which was not at all near (or 'besyde') Cumæ, but a long way from it. Æneas then descends to hell, where he sees Anchises (vi. 679); Palinurus (337); Dido (450); Deiphobus, son of Priam (495); and the tormented souls (580).

447. Which refers to the various sights in hell.

449. Claudian, Claudius Claudianus, who wrote De raptu Proserpinae about A.D. 400. Daunte is Dante, with reference to his Inferno, ii. 13-27, and Paradiso, xv. 25-27.

451. Chaucer goes on to Æn. vii-xii, of which he says but little.

458. Lavyna is Lavinia; the form Lavina occurs in Dante, Purg. xvii. 37.

468. I put seyën for seyn, to improve the metre; cf. P. Pl. C. iv. 104.


474. 'But I do not know who caused them to be made.'

475. Read ne in as nin; as in Squi. Tale, F 35.

482. This waste space corresponds to Dante's 'gran diserto,' Inf. i. 64; or, still better, to his 'landa' (Inf. xiv. 8), which was too sterile to support plants. So again, l. 486 corresponds to Dante's 'arena arida e spessa,' which has reference to the desert of Libya; Inf. xiv. 13.

487. 'As fine [said of the sand] as one may see still lying.' Jephson says yet must be a mistake, and would read yt. But it makes perfect sense. Cx. Th. read at eye (put for at yë) instead of yet lye, which is perhaps better. At yë means 'as presented to the sight'; see Kn. Ta., A 3016.

498. Kenne, discern. The offing at sea has been called the kenning; and see Kenning in Halliwell.

500. More, greater. Imitated from Dante, Purgat. ix. 19, which Cary translates thus:—

'Then, in a vision, did I seem to view

A golden-feather'd eagle in the sky,

With open wings, and hovering for descent.'

Cf. also the descent of the angel in Purg. ii. 17-24.

504-7. The omission of these lines in F. and B. is simply due to the scribe slipping from bright in l. 503 to brighte in l. 507. Cf. note to l. 280.


511. Listeth, pleases, is pleased; the alteration (in MS. F.) to listeneth is clearly wrong, and due to confusion with herkneth above. (I do not think listeth is the imp. pl. here.)

514. Isaye, Isaiah; actually altered, in various editions, to I saye, as if it meant 'I say.' The reference is to 'the vision of Isaiah'; Isa. i. 1; vi. 1. Scipioun, Scipio; see note to Parl. Foules, 31, and cf. Book of the Duch. 284.

515. Nabugodonosor, Nebuchadnezzar. The same spelling occurs in the Monkes Tale (Group B, 3335), and is a mere variant of the form Nabuchodonosor in the Vulgate version, Dan. i-iv. Gower has the same spelling; Conf. Amant. bk. i., near the end.

516. Pharo; spelt Pharao in the Vulgate, Gen. xli. 1-7. See Book of the Duchesse, 280-3.

Turnus; alluding to his vision of Iris, the messenger of Juno; Æneid ix. 6. Elcanor; this name somewhat resembles Elkanah (in the Vulgate, Elcana), 1 Sam. i. 1; but I do not know where to find any account of his vision, nor do I at all understand who is meant. The name Alcanor occurs in Vergil, but does not help us.

518. Cipris, Venus, goddess of Cyprus; called Cipryde in Parl. Foules, 277. Dante has Ciprigna; Par. viii. 2.

519. Favour, favourer, helper, aid; not used in the ordinary sense of Lat. fauor, but as if it were formed from O.F. faver, Lat. fauere, to {254}be favourable to. Godefroy gives an example of the O.F. verb faver in this sense.

521. Parnaso; the spelling is imitated from the Ital. Parnaso, i.e. Parnassus, in Dante, Par. i. 16. So also Elicon is Dante's Elicona, i.e. Helicon, Purg. xxix. 40. But the passage in Dante which Chaucer here especially imitates is that in Inf. ii. 7-9:—

'O Muse, o alto ingegno, or m' aiutate;

O mente, che scrivesti ciò ch' io vidi,

Qui si parrà la tua nobilitate.'

This Cary thus translates:—

'O Muses! O high genius, now vouchsafe

Your aid. O mind, that all I saw hast kept

Safe in a written record, here thy worth

And eminent endowments come to proof.'

Hence ye in l. 520 answers to Dante's Muse, the Muses; and Thought in l. 523 answers to Dante's mente, Cf. also Parad. xviii. 82-87. And see the parallel passage in Anelida, 15-19.

The reason why Chaucer took Helicon to be a well rather than a mountain is because Dante's allusion to it is dubiously worded; see Purg. xxix. 40.

528. Engyn is accented on the latter syllable, as in Troil. ii. 565, iii. 274.

529. Egle, the eagle in l. 499; cf. ll. 503-7.

534. Partly imitated from Dante, Purg. ix. 28-30:—

'Poi mi parea che, più rotata un poco,

Terribil come fulgor discendesse,

E me rapisse suso infino al foco.'

Cary's translation is:—

'A little wheeling in his aëry tour,

Terrible as the lightning, rushed he down,

And snatch'd me upward even to the fire.'

But Chaucer follows still more closely, and verbally, a passage in Machault's Jugement du Roi de Navarre, ed. Tarbé, 1849, p. 72, which has the words—

'la foudre

Que mainte ville mist en poudre';

i.e. literally, 'the foudre (thunder-bolt) which reduces many a town to powder.' Machault nearly repeats this; ed. Tarbé, p. 97.

Curiously enough, almost the same words occur in Boethius, bk. i. met. 4, where Chaucer's translation has:—'ne þe wey of thonder-leyt, that is wont to smyten heye toures.' It hence appears that Chaucer copies Machault, and Machault translates Boethius. There {255}are some curious M.E. verses on the effects of thunder in Popular Treatises on Science, ed. Wright, p. 136.

Foudre represents the Lat. fulgur. One of the queer etymologies of medieval times is, that fulgur is derived a feriendo; Vincent of Beauvais, Spec. Nat. iv. 59. It was held to be quite sufficient that both fulgur and ferire begin with f.

537. Brende, was set on fire; cf. l. 163. The idea is that of a falling thunderbolt, which seems to have been conceived of as being a material mass, set on fire by the rapidity of its passage through the air; thus confusing the flash of lightning with the fall of a meteoric stone. See Mr. Aldis Wright's note on thunder-stone, Jul. Cæs. i. 3. 49.

543. Hente, caught. We find a similar use of the word in an old translation of Map's Apocalypsis Goliæ, printed in Morley's Shorter Eng. Poems, p. 13:—

'And by and by I fell into a sudden trance,

And all along the air was marvellously hent.'

544. Sours, sudden ascent, a springing aloft. It is well illustrated by a passage in the Somp. Tale (D 1938):—

'Therfor, right as an hauk up, at a sours,

Up springeth into their, right so prayeres

Of charitable and chaste bisy freres

Maken hir sours to Goddes eres two.'

It is precisely the same word as M.E. sours, mod. E. source, i.e. rise, spring (of a river). Etymologically, it is the feminine of O.F. sors, pp. of sordre, to rise (Lat. surgere). At a later period, the r was dropped, and the word was strangely confused in sound with the verb souse, to pickle. Moreover, the original sense of 'sudden ascent' was confused with that of 'sudden descent,' for which the correct term was (I suppose) swoop. Hence the old verb to souse, in the sense 'to swoop down,' or 'to pounce upon,' or 'to strike,' as in Shak. K. John, v. 2. 150; Spenser, F. Q. i. 5. 8; iii. 4. 16; iv. 3. 19. 25; iv. 4. 30; iv 5. 36; iv. 7. 9. The sense of 'downward swoop' is particularly clear in Spenser, F. Q. ii. 11. 36:—

'Eft fierce retourning, as a faulcon fayre,

That once hath failed of her souse full neare,

Remounts againe into the open ayre,

And unto better fortune doth her-selfe prepayre.'

Such is the simple solution of the etymology of Mod. E. souse, as used by Pope (Epilogue to Satires, Dial. ii. 15)—'Spread thy broad wing, and souse on all the kind.'

557. Cf. Dante, Inf. ii. 122:—'Perchè tanta viltà nel core allette?' Also Purg. ix. 46:—'Non aver tema.'

562. 'One that I could name.' This personal allusion can hardly {256}refer to any one but Chaucer's wife. The familiar tone recalls him to himself; yet the eagle's voice sounded kindly, whereas the poet sadly tells us that his wife's voice sounded far otherwise: 'So was it never wont to be.' See Ward's Chaucer, pp. 84, 85; and cf. l. 2015 below. Perhaps Chaucer disliked to hear the word 'Awak!'

573. It would appear that, in Chaucer, sëynt is sometimes dissyllabic; but it may be better here to use the feminine form seynt-e, as in l. 1066. Observe the rime of Márie with cárie.

576. 'For so certainly may God help me, as thou shall have no harm.'

586. Ioves, Jove, Jupiter; cf. l. 597. This remarkable form occurs again in Troil. ii. 1607, where we find the expression 'Ioves lat him never thryve'; and again in Troil. iii. 3—'O Ioves doughter dere'; and in Troil. iii. 15, where Ioves is in the accusative case. The form is that of an O.F. nominative; cf. Charles, Jacques, Jules.

Stellifye, make into a constellation; 'whether will Jupiter turn me into a constellation.' This alludes, of course, to the numerous cases in which it was supposed that such heroes as Hercules and Perseus, or such heroines as Andromeda and Callisto were changed into constellations: see Kn. Tale, A 2058. Cf. 'No wonder is thogh Iove hir stellifye'; Leg. Good Women, prol. 525. Skelton uses the word (Garland of Laurell, 963); and it is given in Palsgrave.

588. Perhaps imitated from Dante, Inf. ii. 32, where Dante says that he is neither Æneas nor Paul. Chaucer here refers to various men who were borne up to heaven, viz. Enoch (Gen. v. 24), Elijah (2 Kings ii. 11), Romulus, and Ganymede. Romulus was carried up to heaven by Mars; Ovid, Metam. xiv. 824; Fasti, ii. 475-512. Ganymede was carried up to heaven by Jupiter in the form of an eagle; cf. Vergil, Æn. i. 28, and see Ovid, Metam. x. 160, where Ovid adds:

'qui nunc quoque pocula miscet,

Invitaque Iovi nectar Iunone ministrat.'

In the passage in Dante (Purg. ix. 19-30), already alluded to above (note to l. 534), there is a reference to Ganymede (l. 23).

592. Boteler, butler. No burlesque is here intended. 'The idea of Ganymede being butler to the gods appears ludicrous to us, who are accustomed to see the office performed by menial servants. But it was not so in the middle ages. Young gentlemen of high rank carved the dishes and poured out the wine at the tables of the nobility, and grace in the performance of these duties was highly prized. One of the oldest of our noble families derives its surname from the fact that its founder was butler to the king'; Bell. So also, the royal name of Stuart is merely steward.

597. Therabout, busy about, having it in intention.

600-4. Cf. Vergil's words of reassurance to Dante; Inf. ii. 49.

608. The eagle says he is Jupiter's eagle; 'Iouis ales,' Æn. i. 394.

614-40. A long sentence of 27 lines.


618. I supply goddesse, to complete the line. Cf. 'In worship of Venús, goddésse of love'; Kn. Tale, A 1904; and again, 'goddésse,' id. A 1101, 2.

621. The necessity for correcting lytel to lyte is obvious from the rime, since lyte is rimes with dytees. Chaucer seems to make lyte dissyllabic; it rimes with Arcite, Kn. Ta., A 1334, 2627; and with hermyte in l. 659 below. In the present case, the e is elided—lyt'is. For similar rimes, cf. nones, noon is, C. T. Prol. 523; beryis, mery is, Non. Pr. Ta., B 4155; swevenis, swevene is, id. B 4111.

623. In a note to Cant. Ta. 17354 (I 43), Tyrwhitt says that perhaps cadence means 'a species of poetical composition distinct from riming verses.' But it is difficult to shew that Chaucer ever composed anything of the kind, unless it can be said that his translation of Boethius or his Tale of Melibeus is in a sort of rhythmical prose. It seems to me just possible that by rime may here be meant the ordinary riming of two lines together, as in the Book of the Duchess and the House of Fame, whilst by cadence may be meant lines disposed in stanzas, as in the Parliament of Foules. There is nothing to shew that Chaucer had, at this period, employed the 'heroic verse' of the Legend of Good Women. However, we find the following quotation from Jullien in Littré's Dictionary, s.v. Cadence:—'Dans la prose, dans les vers, la cadence n'est pas autre chose que le rhythme ou le nombre: seulement on y joint ordinairement l'idée d'une certaine douceur dans le style, d'un certain art dans l'arrangement des phrases ou dans le choix des mots que le rhythme proprement dit ne suppose pas du tout.' This is somewhat oracular, as it is difficult to see why rhythm should not mean much the same thing.

637. 'And describe