Walter W. Skeat (ed.), The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, Vol. 4: The Canterbury Tales: Text (Second Edition)

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THE PROLOGUE.

Critical ApparatusHere biginneth the Book of the Tales of Caunterbury.

Critical ApparatusHere endeth the prolog of this book; and here biginneth the first tale, which is the Knightes Tale.

Notes Settings

Notes

Critical Apparatus
Heading. From E.
Critical Apparatus
1. E. hise; rest his.
Editor’s Note
1. In the Man of Law's Prologue, B. 1–6, there is definite mention of the 18th day of April. The reference is, in that passage, to the second day of the pilgrimage. Consequently, the allusion in ll. 19–23 below is to April 16, and in l. 822 to April 17. The year may be supposed to be 1387 (vol. iii. p. 373).
'When that April, with his sweet showers.' Aprille is here masculine, like Lat. Aprilis; cf. l. 5.
Editor’s Note
shoures (shuu·rez), showers; pl. of shour, A. S. scūr (skuur). The etymology of all words of this character, which are still in use, can be found by looking out the modern form of the word in my Etymological Dictionary. I need not repeat such information here.
Editor’s Note
sote, sweet, is another form of swete, which occurs just below in l. 5. The e is not, in this case, the mark of the plural, as the forms sote, swete are dissyllabic, and take a final e in the singular also. Sote is a less correct form of swote; and the variation between the long o in swote and the long e in swete is due to confusion between the adverbial and adjectival uses. Swote corresponds to A. S. swōt, adv., sweetly, and swete to A. S. swēte, adj., sweet. The latter exhibits mutation of ō to ē; cf. mod. E. goose, pl. geese (A. S. gōs, pl. gēs).
In this Introduction, Chaucer seems to have had in his mind the passage which begins Book IV. of Guido delle Colonne's Historia Troiae, which is as follows:—'Tempus erat quo sol maturans sub obliquo zodiaci circulo cursum suum sub signo iam intrauerat Arietis . . . celebratur equinoxium primi veris, tunc cum incipit tempus blandiri mortalibus in aeris serenitate intentis, tunc cum dissolutis ymbribus Zephiri flantes molliciter (sic) crispant aquas . . . tunc cum ad summitates arborum et ramorum humiditates ex terre gremio examplantes extollunt in eis; quare insultant semina, crescunt segetes, virent prata, variorum colorum floribus illustrata . . . tunc cum ornatur terra graminibus, cantant volucres, et in dulcis armonie modulamine citharizant. Tunc quasi medium mensis Aprilis effluxerat'; &c.
We may also note the passage in Vincent of Beauvais, Speculum Naturale, lib. xv. c. 66, entitled De Vere:—'Sol vero ad radices herbarum et arborum penetrans, humorem quem ibi coadunatum hyeme reperit, attrahit; herba vero, vel arbor suam inanitionem sentiens a terra attrahit humorem, quem ibi sui similitudine adiuuante calore Solis transmutat, sicque reuiuiscit; inde est quod quidam mensis huius temporis Aprilis dicitur, quia tunc terra praedicto modo aperitur.'
Editor’s Note
2. droght-e, dryness; A. S. drūgathe; essentially dissyllabic, but the final e is elided. Pron. (druuht'). perced, pierced, rot-e, dat. of root, a root; Icel. rōt; written for roote. The double o is not required to shew vowel-length, when a single consonant and an e follow.
Editor’s Note
4. vertu, efficacy, productive agency, vital energy. 'And bathed every vein (of the tree or herb) in such moisture, by means of which quickening power the flower is generated.' Pron. (vertü·).
Editor’s Note
5. Zephirus, the zephyr, or west wind. Cf. Chaucer's Book of the Duchess, l. 402, and the note. There are two more references to Zephirus in the translation of Boethius, bk. i. met. 5; bk. ii. met. 3.
Editor’s Note
6. holt, wood, grove; A. S. holt; cf. G. Holz.
Editor’s Note
7. croppes, shoots, extremities of branches, especially towards the top of a tree; hence simply tree-tops, tops of plants, &c. Hence to crop is 'to cut the tops off.' Cf. A. 1532; tr. of Boethius, bk. iii. met. 2. 24; Rom. Rose, 1396; and note to P. Plowman, B. xvi. 69.
Editor’s Note
yonge sonne (yunggə sunnə); see the next note. The -e in yong-e denotes the definite form of the article. Sonn-e, A. S. sunna, is essentially dissyllabic.
Critical Apparatus
8. Hl. halfe; rest half.
Editor’s Note
8. the Ram. The difficulty here really resides in the expression 'his halfe cours,' which means what it says, viz. 'his half-course,' and not, as Tyrwhitt unfortunately supposed, 'half his course,' The results of the two explanations are quite different. Taking Chaucer's own expression as it stands, he tells us that, a little past the middle of April, 'the young sun has run his half-course in the Ram.' Turning to Fig. 1 in The Astrolabe (see vol. iii.), we see that, against the month 'Aprilis,' there appears in the circle of zodiacal signs, the latter half (roughly speaking) of Aries, and the former half of Taurus. Thus the sun in April runs a half-course in the Ram and a half-course in the Bull. 'The former of these was completed,' says the poet; which is as much as to say, that it was past the eleventh of April; for, in Chaucer's time, the sun entered Aries on March 12, and left that sign on April 11. See note to l. 1.
The sun had, in fact, only just completed his course through the first of the twelve signs, as the said course was supposed to begin at the vernal equinox. This is why it is called 'the yonge sonne,' an expression which Chaucer repeats under similar circumstances in the Squyeres Tale, F. 385. Y-ronne, for A.S. gerunnen, pp. of rinnan, to run (M. E. rinnen, rinne). The M. E. y-, A. S. ge-, is a mere prefix, mostly used with past participles.
Critical Apparatus
9. Hl. fowles; Pt. Ln. foules; E. Hn. foweles.
Editor’s Note
9. Pron. (ənd smaa·lə fuu·ez maa·ken melodii·ə); 'and little birds make melody.' Cf. fowel (fuul), a bird, in l. 190.
Critical Apparatus
10. Hl. yhe; Hn. Iye; E. eye.
Editor’s Note
10. open ye, open eye. Cf. the modern expression 'with one eye open.' This line is copied in the Sowdone of Babylon, ll. 41–46.
Editor’s Note
11. 'So nature excites them, in their feelings (instincts).' hir, their; A. S. hira, lit. 'of them,' gen. pl. of , he. corage (kuraa·jə); mod. E. courage; see l. 22.
Critical Apparatus
12. Pt. Ln.Than; E. Thanne.
Critical Apparatus
E. pilgrimage (by mistake).
Editor’s Note
12, 13. According to ordinary English construction, the verb longen must be supplied after palmers. In fact, l. 13 is parenthetical. Note that Than, in l. 12, answers to Whan in l. 1.
Critical Apparatus
13. Pt. Hl. palmers; E. Palmeres.
Editor’s Note
13. palmer, originally, one who made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and brought home a palm-branch as a token. Chaucer, says Tyrwhitt, seems to consider all pilgrims to foreign parts as palmers. The essential difference between the two classes of persons here mentioned, the palmer and the pilgrim, was, that the latter had 'some dwelling-place, a palmer had none; the pilgrim travelled to some certain place, the palmer to all, and not to any one in particular; the pilgrim might go at his own charge, the palmer must profess wilful poverty; the pilgrim might give over his profession, the palmer must be constant'; Blount's Glossographia (taken from Speght). See note to P. Plowman, B. v. 523.
The fact is, that palmers did not always reach the Holy Land. They commonly went to Rome first, where not unfrequently the Pope 'allowed them to wear the palm as if they had visited Palestine'; Rock, Church of our Fathers, vol. iii. pt. 1. p. 439.
Editor’s Note
to seken, to seek; the A. S. gerund, tō sēcanne; expressive of purpose. strondes, strands, shores.
Editor’s Note
14. ferne halwes, distant saints, i. e. shrines. Here ferne = ferrene = distant, foreign. 'To ferne poeples'; Chaucer's Boethius, bk. ii. met. 7. See Mätzner's M. E. Dict. Ferne also means 'ancient,' but not here.
Editor’s Note
halwes, saints; cf. Scotch Hallow-e'en, the eve of All Hallows, or All Saints; the word is here applied to their shrines.
Chaucer has, 'to go seken halwes,' to go (on a pilgrimage) to seek saints' shrines; D. 657. couthe (kuudh'), well known; A. S. cūð, known, pp. of cunnan, to know, sondry (sun·dri), various.
Critical Apparatus
16. Hn. Caunter-; E. Cauntur-.
Editor’s Note
16. wende, go; pret. wente, Eng. went. The use of the present tense in modern English is usually restricted to the phrase 'he wends his way.'
Editor’s Note
17. The holy blisful martir, Thomas à Becket. On pilgrimages, see Saunders, Chaucer, p. 10; and Erasmus, Peregrinatio religionis ergo. There were numerous places in England sought by pilgrims, as Durham, St. Alban's, Bury, St. David's, Glastonbury, Lincoln, York, Peterborough, Winchester, Holywell, &c.; but the chief were Canterbury and Walsingham.
Critical Apparatus
18. E. seeke.
Editor’s Note
18. holpen, pp. of helpen. The older preterites of this verb are heolp, help, halp. seke, sick, rimes to seke, seek; this apparent repetition is only allowed when the repeated word is used in two different senses.
Editor’s Note
seke, pl. of seek, A. S. sēoc, sick, ill. For hem, see n. to l. 175.
Critical Apparatus
19. Hn. Bifel; E. Bifil.
Editor’s Note
19. Bifel, it befell. seson (saesun), time. on a day, one day.
Editor’s Note
20. Tabard. Of this word Speght gives the following account in his Glossary to Chaucer:—'Tabard—a jaquet or sleveless coate, worne in times past by noblemen in the warres, but now only by heraults (heralds), and is called theyre "coate of armes in servise." It is the signe of an inne in Southwarke by London, within the which was the lodging of the Abbot of Hyde by Winchester. This is the hostelry where Chaucer and the other pilgrims mett together, and, with Henry Baily their hoste, accorded about the manner of their journey to Canterbury. And whereas through time it hath bin much decayed, it is now by Master J. Preston, with the Abbot's house thereto adgoyned, newly repaired, and with convenient rooms much encreased, for the receipt of many guests.' The inn is well described in Saunders (on Chaucer), p. 13. See also Stow, Survey of London (ed. Thoms, p. 154); Nares' Glossary, s. v. Tabard; Dyce's Skelton, ii. 283; Furnivall's Temporary Preface to Chaucer, p. 18.
The tabard, however, was not sleeveless, though the sleeves, at first, were very short. See the plate in Boutell's Heraldry, ed. Aveling, p. 69; cf. note to P. Plowman, C. vii. 203.
Editor’s Note
lay; used like the modern 'lodged,' or 'was stopping.'
Critical Apparatus
23. E. were; rest was.
Editor’s Note
23. come (kum'), short for comen, pp. of comen. hostelrye, a lodging, inn, house, residence. Hostler properly signifies the keeper of an inn, and not, as now, the servant of an inn who looks after the horses.
Critical Apparatus
24. E. Hn. compaignye.
Editor’s Note
24. wel is here used like our word full or quite.
Editor’s Note
25. by aventure y-falle, by adventure (chance) fallen (into company). Pron. (av·entü·r').
Critical Apparatus
26. 32. E. felaweshipe. Hl. pilgryms; E. pilgrimes.
Editor’s Note
26. felawshipe, company; from M. E. felawe, companion, fellow.
Editor’s Note
27. wolden ryde, wished to ride. The latter verb is in the infinitive mood, as usual after will, would, shall, may, &c.
Editor’s Note
29. esed atte beste, accommodated or entertained in the best manner. Easement is still used as a law term, signifying accommodation. Cf. F. bien aise. Pron. (aezed).
Editor’s Note
atte, i. e. at the, was shortened from atten, masc. and neut., from A. S. œt thæm. We also find M. E. atter, fem., from A. S. œt thœ̅re.
Editor’s Note
30. to reste, i. e. gone to rest, set.
Editor’s Note
A. 30. Zupitza (Notes to Guy of Warwick, 855, p. 361) further illustrates this line. 'There can be no doubt that the pp. goon is to be supplied.' He quotes 'to reste eode þa sunne,' Layamon, 28328; 'until the son was gon to rest,' Iwaine, 3612, ed. Ritson (Met. Romances, i. 151); also from J. Grimm, Mythology, p. 702, who treats of the M. H. G. phrase ze reste gān.
Editor’s Note
31. everichon, for ever-ich oon, every one, lit. ever each one.
Editor’s Note
32. of hir felawshipe, (one) of their company.
Editor’s Note
33. forward, agreement. 'Fals was here foreward so forst is in May,' i. e. their agreement was as false as a frost in May; Ritson's Ancient Songs, i. 30. A. S. fore-weard, lit. 'fore ward,' a precaution, agreement.
Critical Apparatus
34. E. oure.
Editor’s Note
34. ther as I yow devyse, to that place that I tell you of (sc. Canterbury); ther in M. E. frequently signifies 'where,' and ther as signifies 'where that.' devyse, speak of, describe; lit. 'devise.'
Critical Apparatus
35. E. Hn. nathelees.
Editor’s Note
35. natheles, nevertheless; lit. 'no the less'; cf. A. S. nā, no. whyl, whilst. The form in -es (whiles, the reading of some MSS.) is a comparatively modern adverbial form, and may be compared with M. E. hennes, thennes, hence, thence; ones, twyes, thryes, once, twice, thrice; of which older forms are found in -enne and -e respectively.
Editor’s Note
37. 'It seemeth to me it is reasonable.'
Editor’s Note
Me thinketh=me thinks, where me is the dative before the impersonal vb. thinken, to appear, seem; cp. me liketh, me list, it pleases me. So the phrase if you please=if it please you, you being the dative and not the nominative case, semed me=it seemed to me, occurs in l. 39. The personal verb is properly thenken, as in the Clerkes Tale, E. 116, 641; or thenchen, as in A. 3253.
Editor’s Note
accordaunt, accordant, suitable, agreeable (to).
Critical Apparatus
40. Hl. weren; rest were, weere.
Editor’s Note
40. whiche, what sort of men; Lat. qualis.
Editor’s Note
41. inne. In M. E., in is the preposition, and inne the adverb.
Editor’s Note
43. Knight. It was a common thing in this age for knights to seek employment in foreign countries which were at war. Cf. Book of the Duchesse, 1024, and my note. Tyrwhitt cites from Leland's Itinerary, v. iii. p. cxi., the epitaph of a knight of this period, Matthew de Gourney, who had been at the battle of Benamaryn, at the siege of Algezir, and at the Battles of Crecy, Poitiers, &c. See note to l. 51.
Editor’s Note
worthy, worthy, is here used in its literal signification of distinguished, honourable. See ll. 47, 50. Pron. (wur·dhi).
For notes on the dresses, &c. of the pilgrims, see Todd's Illustrations of Chaucer, p. 227; Fairholt's Costume in England, 1885, i. 129; and Saunders, on the Canterbury Tales, where some of the MS. drawings are reproduced. Also Warton, Hist. Eng. Poetry, sect. 17.
Editor’s Note
45. chivalrye (chiv·alrii·ə), knighthood; also the manners, exercises, and exploits of a knight.
Editor’s Note
47. in his lordes werre, i. e. in the king's service. 'The knight, by his tenure, was obliged to serve the king on horseback in his wars, and maintain a soldier at his own proper charge,' &c.; Strutt, Manners and Customs, iii. 15. werre, war.
Editor’s Note
48. therto, moreover, besides that; see l. 153 below, ferre, the comp, of fer, far. Cf. M. E. derre, dearer (A. 1448); sarre, sorer, &c.
Critical Apparatus
49. Hn. Hl. as; rest as in.
Editor’s Note
49. hethenesse, heathen lands, as distinguished from Cristendom, Christian countries. The same distinction occurs in English Gilds, ed. Toulmin Smith, p. 36, l. 1.
Editor’s Note
50. Pron. (ənd ae·vr onuu·red for iz wur·dhines·sə).
Editor’s Note
51. Alisaundre, in Egypt, 'was won, and immediately after abandoned in 1365, by Pierre de Lusignan, King of Cyprus'; Tyrwhitt. Froissart (Chron. bk. iii. c. 22) gives the epitaph of Pierre de Lusignan, king of Cyprus, who 'conquered in battle . . the cities of Alexandria in Egypt, Tripoli in Syria, Layas in Armenia, Satalia in Turkey, with several other cities and towns, from the enemies of the faith of Jesus Christ'; tr. by Johnes, vol. ii. p. 138. 'To this I may add, from "Les Tombeaux des Chevaliers du noble Ordre de la Toison d'Or," the exploits recorded on a monument also of a French knight, who lived in Chaucer's age, and died in 1449, Jean, Seigneur de Roubais, &c. "qui en son temps visita les Saints lieux de Ierusalem, . . . S. Iacques en Galice, . . . et passa les perils mortels de plusieurs batailles arrestées contre les Infidels, c'est a sçavoir en Hongrie et Barbarie, . . . en Prusse contre les Letaux, . . . avec plusieurs autres faicts exercice d'armes tant par mer que par terre,"' &c.—Todd, Illust. of Ch., p. 227. wonne (wunnə), won.
Editor’s Note
52. he hadde the bord bigonne. Here bord = board, table, so that the phrase signifies 'he had been placed at the head of the dais, or table of state.' Warton, in his Hist. of Eng. Poetry, ed. 1840, ii. 209 (ed. 1871, ii. 373), aptly cites a passage from Gower which is quite explicit as to the sense of the phrase. See Gower, Conf. Amantis, bk. viii. ed. Pauli, iii. 299. We there read that a knight was honoured by a king, by being set at the head of the middle table in the hall.
  • 'And he, which had his prise deserved,
  • After the kinges owne word,
  • Was maad beginne a middel bord.'
The context shews that this was at supper-time, and that the knight was placed in this honourable position by the marshal of the hall.
Further illustrations are also given by Warton, ed. 1840, i. 174, footnote, shewing that the phrases began the dese (daïs) and began the table were also in use, with the same sense. I can add another clear instance from Sir Beves of Hamptoun, ed. Kölbing, E. E. T. S., p. 104, where we find in one text (l. 2122)—
  • 'Thow schelt this dai be priour,
  • And beginne oure deis' [daïs];
where another text has (l. 1957) the reading—
  • 'Palmer, thou semest best to me,
  • Therfore men shal worshyp the;
  • Begyn the borde, I the pray.'
See also the New Eng. Dictionary, s. v. Board; Hartshorne's Metrical Tales, pp. 72, 73, 215, 219; Early Popular Poetry, ed. Hazlitt, i. 104; Todd's Illustrations, p. 322. Even in Stow's Survey of London, ed. Thoms, p. 144, col. 2, we read how—'On the north side of the hall certain aldermen began the board, and then followed merchants of the city.'
Another explanation is sometimes given, but it is wholly wrong.
Critical Apparatus
53. E. nacions.
Editor’s Note
53, 54. Pruce. When our English knights wanted employment, 'it was usual for them to go and serve in Pruce, or Prussia, with the knights of the Teutonic order, who were in a state of constant warfare with their heathen neighbours in Lettow (Lithuania), Ruce (Russia), and elsewhere.'—Tyrwhitt. Cf. Gower, Conf. Amant, ii. 56.
The larger part of Lithuania now belongs to Russia, and the remainder to Prussia; but in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the natives long maintained their independence against the Russians and Poles (Haydn, Dict. of Dates).
Editor’s Note
reysed, made a military expedition. The O. F. reise, sb., a military expedition, was in common use on the continent at that time. Numerous examples of its use are given in Godefroy's O. F. Dict. It was borrowed from O. H. G. reisa (G. Reise), an expedition. Pron. (reized).
Warton, Hist. Eng. Poetry, ed. 1840, ii. 210, remarks—'Thomas duke of Gloucester, youngest son of Edw. III, and Henry earl of Derby, afterwards Henry IV, travelled into Prussia; and, in conjunction with the grand Masters and Knights of Prussia and Livonia, fought the infidels of Lithuania. Lord Derby was greatly instrumental in taking Vilna, the capital of that country, in the year 1390. Here is a seeming compliment to some of these expeditions.' Cf. Walsingham, Hist., ed. Riley, ii. 197. Hackluyt, in his Voyages, ed. 1598, i. 122, cites and translates the passage from Walsingham referred to above. However, the present passage was written before 1390; see n. to l. 277.
In an explanation of the drawings in MS. Jul. E. 4, relating to the life of Rd. Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick (born 1381, died 1439), I find—'Here shewes how erle Richard from Venise took his wey to Russy, Lettow, and Velyn, and Cypruse, Westvale, and other coostes of Almayn toward Englond.'—Strutt, Manners and Customs.
Critical Apparatus
56. E. seege.
Editor’s Note
56–8. Gernade, Granada. 'The city of Algezir was taken from the Moorish King of Granada in 1344.'—T. The earls of Derby and Salisbury assisted at the siege; Weber, Met. Rom. iii. 306. It is the modern Algeciras on the S. coast of Spain, near Cape Trafalgar.
Editor’s Note
Belmarye and Tramissene (Tremezen), l. 62, were Moorish kingdoms in Africa, as appears from a passage in Froissart (bk. iv. c. 24) cited by Tyrwhitt. Johnes' translation has—'Tunis, Bugia, Morocco, Benmarin, Tremeçen.' Cf. Kn. Tale, l. 1772 (A. 2630). Benmarin is called Balmeryne in Barbour's Bruce, xx. 393, and Belmore in the Sowdone of Babylon, 3122. The Gulf of Tremezen is on the coast of Algiers, to the west.
Editor’s Note
Lyeys, in Armenia, was taken from the Turks by Pierre de Lusignan about 1367. It is the Layas mentioned by Froissart (see note to l. 51) and the modem Ayas; see the description of it in Marco Polo, ed. Yule, i. 15. Cf. 'Laiazzo's gulf,' Hoole's tr. of Ariosto's Orlando; bk. xix. l. 389.
Editor’s Note
Satalye (Attalia, now Adalia, on the S. coast of Asia Minor) was taken by the same prince soon after 1352.—T. See Acts xiv. 25.
Editor’s Note
Palatye (Palathia, see l. 65), in Anatolia, was one of the lordships held by Christian knights after the Turkish conquest.— T. Cf. Froissart, bk. iii. c. 23.
Editor’s Note
59. the Grete See. The Great Sea denotes the Mediterranean, as distinguished from the two so-called inland seas, the Sea of Tiberias and the Dead Sea. So in Numb, xxxiv. 6, 7; Josh. i. 4; also in Mandevile's Travels, c. 7.
Critical Apparatus
60. Hl. ariue; Cm. aryue; E. Hn. armee; Cp. Ln. arme.
Editor’s Note
60. aryve, arrival or disembarkation of troops, as in the Harleian and Cambridge MSS. Many MSS. have armee, army, which gives no good sense, and probably arose from misreading the spelling ariue as arme. Perhaps the following use of rive for 'shore' may serve to illustrate this passage:—
  • 'The wind was good, they saileth blive,
  • Till he took lond upon the rive
  • Of Tire,' &c.

Gower, Conf. Amant, ed. Pauli, iii. 292.

Editor’s Note
be = ben, been. Cf. ydo = ydon, done, &c.
Critical Apparatus
62. E. oure.
Editor’s Note
62. foghten (fǫuhten), pp. fought; from the strong verb fighten.
Editor’s Note
63. 'He had fought thrice in the lists in defence of our faith'; i. e. when challenged by an infidel to do so. Such combats were not uncommon, slayn, slain. hadde must be supplied from l. 61.
Critical Apparatus
64. Pt. had; rest hadde.
Editor’s Note
64. ilke, same; A. S. ylca.
Editor’s Note
65. Somtyme, once on a time; not our 'sometimes.' See l. 85.
Editor’s Note
66. another hethen, a heathen army different from that which he had encountered at Tremezen.
Critical Apparatus
67. E. -moore.
Editor’s Note
67. sovereyn prys (suv·rein priis), exceeding great renown.
Critical Apparatus
68. E. Hn. Cm. were; rest was.
Editor’s Note
69. 'As courteys as any mayde'; Arthur, ed. Furnivall (E. E. T. S.), l. 41. Cf. B. 1636.
Editor’s Note
70. vileinye, any utterance unbecoming a gentleman. Cf. Trench, English Past and Present, ch. 7, on the word villain.
Editor’s Note
71. no maner wight, no kind of person whatever. In M. E. the word maner is used without of, in phrases of this character.
Editor’s Note
72. verray, very, true. parfit, perfect; F. parfait. gentil, gentle; see D. 1109–1176.
Critical Apparatus
74. E. Pt. weren; Hl. Ln. was; rest were.
Critical Apparatus
Hl. Hn. he ne was.
Editor’s Note
74. 'His horses were good, but he himself was not gaudily dressed.' Hors is plural as well as singular. In fact, the knight had three horses; one for himself, one for his son, and one for the yeoman. Perhaps we should read—'but hé ne was not gay,' supplying ne from Hl. and Hn. This makes he emphatic; and we may then treat the e in god-e as a light extra syllable, at the caesural pause; for doing which there is ample authority.
Editor’s Note
75. fustian; see Babees Book, ed. Furnivall, p. 224. gipoun (jipuu·n), a diminutive of gipe, a tight-fitting vest, a doublet; also called a gipell, as in Libeaus Disconus, 224. See Fairholt, s. v. fustian, and s. v. gipon. The O. F. gipe (whence F. jupe) meant a kind of frock or jacket, wered is the A. S. werede, pt. t. of the weak verb werian, to wear. It is now strong; pt. t. wore. See l. 564.
Editor’s Note
76. This verse is defective in the first foot, which consists solely of the word Al. Such verses are by no means uncommon in the Cant. Tales and in the Leg. of Good Women. Pron. (al· bismut·erd widh·iz ha·berjuu·n). 'His doublet of fustian was all soiled with marks made by the habergeon which he had so lately worn over it.' Bismotered has the same sense as mod. E. besmutted.
Editor’s Note
habergeoun, though etymologically a diminutive of hauberk, is often used as synonymous with it. 'It was a defence of an inferior description to the hauberk; but when the introduction of plate-armour, in the reign of Edward III, had supplied more convenient and effectual defences for the legs and thighs, the long skirt of the hauberk became superfluous; from that period the habergeon alone appears to have been worn.'—Way, note to Promptorium Parvulorum, p. 220.
  • 'And Tideus, above his Habergeoun,
  • A gipoun hadde, hidous, sharpe, and hoor,
  • Wrought of the bristles of a wilde Boor.'

Lydgate, Siege of Thebes, pt. ii.

See the Glossary to Fairholt's Costume in England, s. v. Habergeon; and, for the explanation of gipoun, see the same, under gipon and gambeson. For a picture of a gipoun, see Boutell's Heraldry, ed. Aveling, p. 67.
Editor’s Note
77, 78. 'For he had just returned from his journey, and went to perform his pilgrimage' (which he had vowed for a safe return) in his knightly array, only without his habergeon.
Editor’s Note
79. squyer=esquire, one who attended on a knight, and bore his lance and shield. See Strutt, Sports and Pastimes, Introd. § 8. 'Esquires held land by the service of the shield, and were bound by their fee to attend the king, or their lords, in the war, or pay escuage,'—Strutt, Manners and Customs, iii. 15. And see Ritson, Met. Romances, iii. 345.
As to the education and accomplishments of a squire, see note to Sir Topas, B. 1927.
Editor’s Note
80. lovyere, lover. The y in this word is not euphonic as in some modern words; lovyere (luv·yer) is formed from the verb lovi-en, A. S. lufian, to love.
Editor’s Note
bacheler, a young aspirant to knighthood. There were bachelors in arms as well as in arts. Cf. The Sowdone of Babylone, 1211.
Editor’s Note
81. lokkes, locks (of hair), crulle (krull'), curly, curled; cf. Mid. Du. krul, a curl. In mod. E., the r has shifted its place. In King Alisaunder, ed. Weber, 4164, we find—'And his lokkes buth noght so crolle.' as they, &c., as if they had been laid in an instrument for curling them by pressure. Curling-tongs seem to be meant; or. possibly, curling-papers. For presse, cf. l. 263.
Editor’s Note
82. yeer. In the older stages of the language, year, goat, swine, &c., being neuter nouns, underwent no change in the nom. case of the plural number. We have already had hors, pl., in l. 74.
Editor’s Note
I gesse, I should think. In M.E., gesse signifies to judge, believe, suppose, imagine. See Kn. Tale, l. 192 (A. 1050).
Critical Apparatus
83. Ln. euen; rest euene.
Editor’s Note
83. of evene lengthe, of ordinary or moderate height.
Critical Apparatus
84. Hl. Ln. delyuer; rest delyuere.
Critical Apparatus
E. Hn. of greet; Cm. of gret; rest gret of.
Editor’s Note
84. deliver, active. Cotgrave gives: 'delivre de sa personne, an active, nimble wight.'
Critical Apparatus
85. Ln. had.
Editor’s Note
85. chivachye. Fr. chevauchée. 'It most properly means an expedition with a small party of cavalry; but is often used generally for any military expedition.'—T. We should call it a 'raid.' Cf. H. 50.
Critical Apparatus
87. E. weel.
Editor’s Note
87. born him wel, conducted himself well (behaved bravely), considering the short time he had served.
Editor’s Note
88. lady grace, lady's grace. Here lady represents A. S. hlœfdigan, gen. case of hlœfdige, lady; there is therefore no final s. See l. 695, and G. 1348. Cf. the modern phrase 'Lady-day,' as compared with 'Lord's day.'
Critical Apparatus
89. 90. E. meede, reede.
Editor’s Note
89. 'That was with floures swote enbrouded al'; Prol. to Legend of Good Women, l. 119; and cf. Rom. Rose, 896–8. Embrouded (embruu·ded or embrǫu·ded), embroidered; from O. F. brouder, variant of broder, to embroider; confused with A. S. brogden, pp. of bregdan, to braid. mede, mead, meadow.
Editor’s Note
91. floytinge, playing the flute. Cf. floute (ed. 1532, floyte), a flute; Ho. of Fame, 1223. Hexham gives Du. 'Fluyte, a Flute.'
Critical Apparatus
92. E. fressh. E. in; rest is.
Critical Apparatus
E. Hn. Monthe; Cp. month; Hl. Pt. Ln. moneth; Cm. monyth.
Critical Apparatus
96. E. weel.
Editor’s Note
96. 'Joust (in a tournament) and dance, and draw well and write.'
Editor’s Note
97. hote, adv. hotly; from hoot, adj. hot. nightertale, night-time, time (or reckoning) of night. So also wit nighter-tale, lit. with night-time, Cursor Mundi, l. 2783; on nightertale, id. 2991; be [by] nychtyrtale, Barbour's Bruce, xix. 495. The word is used by Holinshed in his account of Joan of Arc (under the date 1429), but altered in the later edition to 'the dead of the night'; it also occurs in Palladius on Husbandry, ed. Lodge, bk. i. l. 910; and in The Court of Love, l. 1355. Cf. Icel. náttar-tal, a tale, or number, of nights; and the phrase á náttar-þeli, at dead of night.
Critical Apparatus
98. Hl. Cp. sleep; rest slepte.
Editor’s Note
98. sleep, also written slep, slepte. Cf. weep, wepte; leep, lepte, &c.; such verbs, once strong, became weak. See l. 148; and Kn. Ta. 1829 (A. 2687).
Critical Apparatus
99. Hl. Cp. Ln. lowly; E. Hn. Pt. lowely.
Editor’s Note
100. carf, the past tense of kerven, to carve (pp. corven). The allusion is to what was then a common custom; cf. E. 1773; Barbour's Bruce, i. 356. biforn, before; A. S. biforan.
Critical Apparatus
101. E. seruantz.
Editor’s Note
101. Yeman, yeoman. 'As a title of service, it denoted a servant of the next degree above a garson or groom …. The title of yeoman was given in a secondary sense to people of middling rank not in service. The appropriation of the word to signify a small landholder is more modern.'—Tyrwhitt. In ed. 1532, this paragraph is headed—'The Squyers yoman,' so that he (in this line) means the Squire, as we should naturally suppose from the context. Tyrwhitt, indeed, objects that 'Chaucer would never have given the son an attendant, when the father had none'; but he overlooks the fact that both the squire and the squire's man were necessarily servants to the knight, who, in this way, really had two servants; just as, in the note to l. 74, I have shewn that he had three horses. Warton, Strutt, and Todd all take this view of the matter, as might be expected. For further information as to the status of a yeoman, see Blackstone; Spelman's Glossary, s. v. Socman; Strutt, Manners and Customs, iii. 16; the Glossary to the Babees Book, ed. Furnivall; Waterhous, Comment, on Fortescue's De Laudibus Legum Angliæ, ed. 1663, p. 391; &c.
Editor’s Note
na-mo, no more (in number). In M. E., mo relates to number, but more to size; usually, but not always; see l. 808.
Critical Apparatus
102. E. soo.
Editor’s Note
102. him liste, it pleased him. liste is the past tense; list, it pleaseth, is the present. See note on l. 37.
Editor’s Note
103. Archers were usually clad in 'Lincoln green'; cf. D. 1382.
Critical Apparatus
104. Hl. Cp. Pt. Ln. pocok.
Critical Apparatus
Cm. bryghte; rest bright.
Editor’s Note
104. a sheef of pecok-arwes, a sheaf of arrows with peacocks' feathers. Ascham, in his Toxophilus, ed. Arber, p. 129, does not say much in favour of 'pecock fethers'; for 'there is no fether but onely of a goose that hath all commodities in it. And trewelye at a short but, which some man doth vse, the pecock fether doth seldome kepe vp the shaft eyther ryght or level, it is so roughe and heuy, so that many men which haue taken them vp for gaynesse, hathe layde them downe agayne for profyte; thus for our purpose, the goose is best fether for the best shoter.' In the Geste of Robyn Hode, pr. by W. Copland, we read—
  • 'And every arrowe an ell longe
  •      With peacocke well ydight,
  • And nocked they were with white silk,
  •      It was a semely syght.'
'In the Liber Compotis Garderobæ, sub an. 4 Edw. II., p. 53, is this entry—Pro duodecim flechiis cum pennis de pauone emptis pro rege de 12 den., that is, For twelve arrows plumed with peacock's feathers, bought for the king, 12 d…. MS. Cotton, Nero c. viii.'—Strutt, Sports and Pastimes, bk. ii. ch. i. § 12. In the Testamenta Eboracensia, i. 419, 420 (anno 1429), I find—'Item lego . . . j. shaffe of pakokfedird arrows: also I wyte them a dagger harnest with sylver.' The latter phrase illustrates l. 114 below. See further in Warton's note on this passage; Hist. E. Poet. 1840, ii. 211.
Editor’s Note
106. takel, lit. 'implement' or 'implements'; here the set of arrows. For takel in the sense of 'arrow,' see Rom. Rose, 1729, 1863. 'He knew well how to arrange his shooting-gear in a yeomanlike manner.' Strutt, Sports and Pastimes, bk. ii. c. 1. § 16, quotes a ballad in which Robin Hood proposes that each man who misses the mark shall lose 'his takell'; and one of the losers says—'Syr abbot, I deliver thee myne arrowe.' Fairholt (s. v. Tackle) quotes from A Lytell Geste of Robyn Hood—
  • 'When they had theyr bowes ibent,
  • Their tacles fedred fre.'
In the Cursor Mundi, l. 3600, Isaac sends Esau to hunt, saying:—'Ga lok thi tacle be puruaid.' Cotgrave gives—'Tacle, m. any (headed) shaft, or boult whose feathers be not waxed, but glued on.' Roquefort says the same.
Critical Apparatus
107. E. Hise.
Editor’s Note
107. The sense is—'His arrows did not present a draggled appearance owing to the feathers being crushed'; i.e. the feathers stood out erect and regularly, as necessary to secure for them a good flight.
Editor’s Note
109. not-heed, a head closely cut or cropped. Cf. 'To Notte his haire, comas recidere'; Baret's Alvearie, 1580. Shakespeare has not-pated, i.e. crop-headed, 1 Henry IV, ii. 4. 78. Cooper's Thesaurus, 1565, has:—'Tondere, to cause his heare to be notted or polled of a barbour'; also, 'to notte his heare shorte'; also, 'Tonsus homo, a man rounded, polled, or notted.' Cotgrave explains the F. tonsure as 'a sheering, clipping, powling, notting, cutting, or paring round.' Florio, ed. 1598, explains Ital. zucconare as 'to poule, to nott, to shave, or cut off one's haire,' and zuccone as 'a shauen pate, a notted poule.' And more illustrations might be adduced, as e.g. the explanation of Nott-pated in Nares' Glossary. In later days the name of Roundhead came into use for a like reason. Cf. 'your nott-headed country gentleman'; Chapman, The Widow's Tears, Act i. sc. 4.
Editor’s Note
110. 'He understood well all the usage of woodcraft.'
Editor’s Note
111. bracer, a guard for the arm used by archers to prevent the friction of the bow-string on the coat. It was made like a glove with a long leathern top, covering the fore-arm (Fairholt). See it described in Ascham's Toxophilus, ed. Arber, pp. 107, 108. Cf. E. brace.
Editor’s Note
112. For a description of 'sword and buckler play,' see Strutt's Sports and Pastimes, bk. iii. c. 6. § 22; Brand, Pop. Antiquities, ed. Ellis, ii. 400.
Critical Apparatus
113. E. oother.
Editor’s Note
114. Harneised, equipped. 'A certain girdle, harnessed with silver' is spoken of in Riley's Memorials of London, p. 399, with reference to the year 1376; cf. Riley's tr. of Liber Albus, p. 521. 'De j daggar harnisiat' xd.'; (1439) York Wills, iii. 96. 'De vj paribus cultellorum harnesiat' cum auricalco. xvjd'; ibid. 'A dagger harnest with sylver'; id. i. 419. And see note to l. 104.
Critical Apparatus
115. Hn. Cristofre; E. Cristophere.
Editor’s Note
115. Christofre. 'A figure of St. Christopher, used as a brooch. . . . The figure of St. Christopher was looked upon with particular reverence among the middle and lower classes; and was supposed to possess the power of shielding the person who looked on it from hidden dangers'; note in Wright's Chaucer. This belief is clearly shewn by a passage in Wright's History of Caricature. It is of so early an origin that we already meet with it in Anglo-Saxon in Cockayne's Shrine, p. 77, where we are told that St. Christopher 'prayed God that every one who has any relic of him should never be condemned in his sins, and that God's anger should never come upon him'; and that his prayer was granted. There is a well-known early woodcut exhibiting one of the earliest specimens of block-printing, engraved at p. 123 of Chambers' Book of Days, vol. ii, and frequently elsewhere. The inscription beneath the figure of the saint runs as follows:—
  • 'Christofori faciem die quacunque tueris
  • Illa nempe die morte mala non morieris.'
Hence the Yeoman wore his brooch for good luck. St. Christopher's day is July 25. For his legend, see Mrs. Jameson's Sacred and Legendary Art, ii. 48; &c. shene; see n. to l. 160.
Editor’s Note
116. Riley, in his Memorials of London, p. 115, explains baldric as 'a belt passing mostly round one side of the neck, and under the opposite arm.' In 1314, a baldric cost 12d. (same reference). See Spenser, F. Q. i. 7. 29.
Editor’s Note
117. forster, forester. Hence the names Forester, Forster, and Foster.
Editor’s Note
118. 'A nunne, y wene a pryores'; Rob. of Brunne, Hand. Synne, 7809.
Editor’s Note
120. In this line, as in ll. 509 and 697, the word se-ynt seems to be dissyllabic. Six MSS. agree here; and the seventh (Harleian) has nas for was, which keeps the same rhythm. Edd. 1532, 1550, and 1561 have the same words, omitting but.
Editor’s Note
seynt Loy. Loy is from Eloy, i. e. St. Eligius, whose day is Dec. 1; see the long account of him in Butler's Lives of the Saints. He was a goldsmith, and master of the mint to Clotaire II., Dagobert I., and Clovis II. of France; and was also bishop of Noyon. He became the patron saint of goldsmiths, farriers, smiths, and carters. The Lat. Eligius necessarily became Eloy in O. French, and is Eloy or Loy in English, the latter form being the commoner. The Catholicon Anglicum (a. d. 1483) gives: Loye, elegius (sic), nomen proprium.' Sir T. More, Works, ed. 1577, p. 194, says: 'St. Loy we make an horse-leche.' Barnaby Googe, as cited in Brand, Pop. Antiq. i. 364 (ed. Ellis), says:—
  • 'And Loye the smith doth looke to horse, and smithes of all degree,
  • If they with iron meddle here, or if they goldesmithes bee.'
There is a district called St. Loye's in Bedford; a Saint Loyes chapel near Exeter; &c. Churchyard mentions 'sweete Saynct Loy'; Siege of Leith, st. 50. In Lyndesay's Monarchè, bk. ii. lines 2299 and 2367, he is called 'sanct Eloy.' In D. 1564, the carter prays to God and Saint Loy, joining the names according to a common formula; but the Prioress dropped the divine name. Perhaps she invoked St. Loy as being the patron saint of goldsmiths; for she seems to have been a little given to a love of gold and corals; see ll. 158–162. Warton's notion, that Loy was a form of Louis, only shews how utterly unknown, in his time, were the phonetic laws of Old French.
Many more illustrations might be added; such as—'By St. Loy, that draws deep'; Nash's Lenten Stuff, ed. Hindley, p. xiv. 'God save her and Saint Loye'; Jack Juggler, ed. Roxburgh Club, p. 9; and see Eligius in the Index to the Parker Society's publications.
We already find, in Guillaume de Machault's Confort d'Ami, near the end, the expression:—'Car je te jur, par saint Eloy'; Works, ed. 1849, p. 120.
The life of St. Eligius, as given in Alban Butler's Lives of the Saints, contains a curious passage, which seems worth citing:—'St. Owen relates many miracles which followed his death, and informs us that the holy abbess, St. Aurea, who was swept off by a pestilence, . . was advertised of her last hour some time before it, by a comfortable vision of St. Eligius.' See also Mrs. Jameson's Sacred and Legendary Art, 3rd ed., p. 728.
There is, perhaps, a special propriety in selecting St. Loy for mention in the present instance. In an interesting letter in The Athenœum for Jan. 10, 1891, p. 54, Prof. Hales drew attention to the story about St. Eligius cited in Maitland's Dark Ages, pp. 83–4, ed. 1853. When Dagobert asked Eligius to swear upon the relics of the saints, the bishop refused. On being further pressed to do so, he burst into tears; whereupon Dagobert exclaimed that he would believe him without an oath. Hence, to swear by St. Loy was to swear by one who refused to swear; and the oath became (at second-hand) no oath at all. See Hales, Folia Literaria, p. 102. At any rate, it was a very mild one for those times. Cf. Amis and Amiloun, 877:—'Than answered that maiden bright, And swore "by Jesu, ful of might."'
Editor’s Note
121. cleped, called, named; A. S. cleopian, clypian, to call. Cf. Sir David Lyndesay's Monarchè, bk. iii. l. 4663:—
  • 'The seilye Nun wyll thynk gret schame
  • Without scho callit be Madame.'
Critical Apparatus
122. E. soong.
Editor’s Note
122. 'She sang the divine service.' Here sér-vic-è is trisyllabic, with a secondary accent on the last syllable.
Critical Apparatus
123. E. semeely.
Editor’s Note
124. faire, adv. fairly, well, fetisly, excellently; see l. 157.
Editor’s Note
125. scole, school; here used for style or pronunciation.
Editor’s Note
126. Frensh. Mr. Cutts (Scenes and Characters of the Middle Ages, p. 58) says very justly:—'She spoke French correctly, though with an accent which savoured of the Benedictine convent at Stratford-le-Bow, where she had been educated, rather than of Paris.' There is nothing to shew that Chaucer here speaks slightingly of the French spoken by the Prioress, though this view is commonly adopted by newspaper-writers who know only this one line of Chaucer, and cannot forbear to use it in jest. Even Tyrwhitt and Wright have thoughtlessly given currency to this idea; and it is worth remarking that Tyrwhitt's conclusion as to Chaucer thinking but meanly of Anglo-French, was derived (as he tells us) from a remark in the Prologue to the Testament of Love, which Chaucer did not write! But Chaucer merely states a fact, viz. that the Prioress spoke the usual Anglo-French of the English court, of the English law-courts, and of the English ecclesiastics of the higher rank. The poet, however, had been himself in France, and knew precisely the difference between the two dialects; but he had no special reason for thinking more highly of the Parisian than of the Anglo-French. He merely states that the French which she spoke so 'fetisly' was, naturally, such as was spoken in England. She had never travelled, and was therefore quite satisfied with the French which she had learnt at home. The language of the King of England was quite as good, in the esteem of Chaucer's hearers, as that of the King of France; in fact, king Edward called himself king of France as well as of England, and king John was, at one time, merely his prisoner. Warton's note on the line is quite sane. He shews that queen Philippa wrote business letters in French (doubtless Anglo-French) with 'great propriety.' What Mr. Wright means by saying that 'it was similar to that used at a later period in the courts of law' is somewhat puzzling. It was, of course, not similar to, but the very same language as was used at the very same period in the courts of law. In fact, he and Tyrwhitt have unconsciously given us the view entertained, not by Chaucer, but by unthinking readers of the present age; a view which is not expressed, and was probably not intended. At the modern Stratford we may find Parisian French inefficiently taught; but at the ancient Stratford, the very important Anglo-French was taught efficiently enough. There is no parallel between the cases, nor any such jest as the modern journalist is never weary of, being encouraged by critics who ought to be more careful. The 'French of Norfolk' as spoken of in P. Plowman (B. v. 239) was no French at all, but English; and the alleged parallel is misleading, as the reader who cares to refer to that passage will easily see.
'Stratford-at-Bow, a Benedictine nunnery, was famous even then for its antiquity.'—Todd, Illustrations of Chaucer, p. 233. It is said by Tanner to have been founded by William, bp. of London, before 1087; but Dugdale says it was founded by one Christiana de Sumery, and that her foundation was confirmed by King Stephen. It was dedicated to St. Leonard.
Editor’s Note
unknowe, short for unknowen, unknown.
Editor’s Note
127. At mete. Tyrwhitt has acutely pointed out how Chaucer, throughout this passage, merely reproduces a passage in his favourite book, viz. Le Roman de la Rose, ed. Méon, l. 13612, &c., which may be thus translated:—'and takes good care not to wet her fingers up to the joints in broth, nor to have her lips anointed with soups, or garlic, or fat flesh, nor to heap up too many or too large morsels and put them in her mouth. She touches with the tips of her fingers the morsel which she has to moisten with the sauce (be it green, or brown, or yellow), and lifts her mouthful warily, so that no drop of the soup, or relish or pepper may fall on her breast. And so daintily she contrives to drink, as not to sprinkle a drop upon herself . . . she ought to wipe her lip so well, as not to permit any grease to stay there, at least upon her upper lip.' Such were the manners of the age. Cf. also Ovid, Ars Amatoria, iii. 755, 756.
Editor’s Note
128. Entuned, intoned. nose is the reading of the best MSS. The old black-letter editions read voice (wrongly).
Editor’s Note
semely, in a seemly manner, is in some MSS. written semily. The e is here to be distinctly sounded; hertily is sometimes written for hertely. See ll. 136, 151.
Editor’s Note
129. wette, wet; pt. t. of wetten. depe, deeply, adv.
Critical Apparatus
131. Cm. brest; E. Hn. brist.
Editor’s Note
131. Scan—'Thát | no dróp | e ne fill | e,' &c. The e in drópe is very slight; and the caesura follows. Fille is the pt. t. subjunctive, as distinct from fil, the pt. t. indicative. It means 'should fall.'
Critical Apparatus
132. Cp. moche; Cm. meche; E. Hn. muchel.
Critical Apparatus
Hl. lest; E. Hn. Cm. list.
Editor’s Note
132. ful, very. lest = list, pleasure, delight; A. S. lyst.
Editor’s Note
133. over, upper, adj. 'The over lippe and the nethere'; Wright's Vocab. 1857, p. 146. clene (klae·nə), cleanly, adv.
Critical Apparatus
134. Hl. was; rest ther was.
Editor’s Note
134. ferthing signifies literally a fourth part, and hence a small portion, or a spot. In Caxton's Book of Curtesye, st. 27, such a spot of grease is called a 'fatte ferthyng.'
Editor’s Note
sen-e, visible, is an adjective, A. S. gesēne, and takes a final -e. This distinguishes it from the pp. seen, which is monosyllabic, and cannot rime with clen-e. The fuller form y-sen-e occurs in l. 592, where it rimes with len-e.
Editor’s Note
136. 'Full seemlily she reached towards her meat (i. e. what she had to eat), and certainly she was of great merriment (or geniality).'
Editor’s Note
Mete is often used of eatables in general, raughte (rauhtə), pt. t. of rechen, to reach.
Critical Apparatus
137. E. Hn. desport; rest disport.
Editor’s Note
137. sikerly, certainly, siker is an early adaptation of Lat. securus, secure, sure. disport; mod. E. sport.
Editor’s Note
139–41. 'And took pains (endeavoured) to imitate courtly behaviour, and to be stately in her deportment, and to be esteemed worthy of reverence.'
Critical Apparatus
140. E. to been; Hl. Hn. omit to.
Critical Apparatus
144. Hl. Hn. Cp. Ln. sawe; E. saugh; Cm. seye.
Editor’s Note
144. sawe, should see, happened to see (subjunctive).
Critical Apparatus
146. Pt. Ln. had; rest hadde.
Editor’s Note
146. Of, i. e. some, houndes (huundez), dogs. 'Smale whelpes leeve to ladyse and clerkys'; Political, Relig. and Love Poems, ed. Furnivall, p. 32; Bernardus de Cura Rei Familiaris, ed. Lumby, p. 13.
Editor’s Note
147. wastel-breed. Horses and dogs were not usually fed on wastel-breed or cake-bread (bread made of the best flour), but on coarse lentil bread baked for that purpose. See Our English Home, pp. 79, 80. The O. F. wastel subsequently became gastel, gasteau, mod. F. gâteau, cake. Cf. P. Plowman, B. vi. 217, and the note; Riley, Memorials of London, p. 108.
Critical Apparatus
148. Ln. wepped; rest wepte; read weep; cf. l. 2878.
Critical Apparatus
E. any; rest oon, on, one.
Editor’s Note
148. The syllable she is here very light; she if oon constitutes the third foot in the line. After she comes the caesural pause, weep, wept; A. S. wēop.
Editor’s Note
149. men smoot, one smote. If men were the ordinary plural of man, smoot ought to be smiten (pl. past); but men is here used like the Ger. man, French on, with the singular verb. It is, in fact, merely the unaccented form of man. yerde, stick, rod; mod. E. yard. smerte, sharply; adv.
Critical Apparatus
151. E. semyly. E. wympul; Hn. wympel.
Editor’s Note
151. wimpel. The wimple or gorger is stated first to have appeared in Edward the First's reign. It was a covering for the neck, and was used by nuns and elderly ladies. See Fairholt's Costume, 1885, ii. 413; Ancren Riwle, ed. Morton, p. 420.
Editor’s Note
pinched, gathered in small pleats, closely pleated.
  • 'But though I olde and hore be, sone myne,
  • And poore by my clothing and aray,
  • And not so wyde a gown have as is thyne,
  • So small ypynched and so gay,
  • My rede in happe yit the profit may.'

Hoccleve, De Regimine Principum, ed. Wright, p. 15.

Editor’s Note
152. tretys, long and well-shaped. From O. F. traitis, Low Lat. tractitius, i. e. drawn out; from L. trahere. Chaucer found the O. F. traitis in the Romaunt of the Rose, and translated it by tretys; see l. 1216 of the E. version. Cf. fetis from factitius; l. 157. eyen greye. This seems to have been the favourite colour of ladies' eyes in Chaucer's time, and even later. Cf. A. 3974; Rom. Rose, 546, 862; &c. 'Her eyen gray and stepe'; Skelton's Philip Sparowe, 1014 (see Dyce's note).
  • 'Her eyes are grey as glass.'—Two Gent. of Verona, iv. 4. 197.
  •                               'Hyr forheed lely-whyht,
  • Hyr bent browys blake, and hyr grey eyne,
  • Hyr chyry chekes, hyr nose streyt and ryht,
  • Hyr lyppys rody.'—Lives of Saints, Roxburgh Club, p. 14.
  • 'Wyth eyene graye, and browes bent,
  • And yealwe traces [tresses], and fayre y-trent,
  •                Ech her semede of gold;
  • Hure vysage was fair and tretys,
  • Hure body iantil and pure fetys,
  •                And semblych of stature.'—Sir Ferumbras, l. 5881.
  • 'Dame Gaynour, with hur gray een.'

Three Met. Romances, ed. Robson, p. 22.

  • 'Hys eyen grey as crystalle stone';—Sir Eglamour, l. 861.
  • 'Put out my eyen gray';—Sir Launfal, l. 810.
Editor’s Note
156. hardily is here used for sikerly, certainly; so also in E. 25.
Editor’s Note
undergrowe, undergrown; i. e. of short, stinted growth.
Editor’s Note
157. fetis literally signifies 'made artistically,' and hence well-made, feat, neat, handsome; cf. n. to l. 152. M. E. fetis answers to O. F. faitis, feitis, felis, neatly made, elegant; from Lat. factitius, artificial.
Editor’s Note
war, aware; 'I was war'=I perceived.
Editor’s Note
159. bedes. The word bede signifies, (1) a prayer; (2) a string of grains upon which the prayers were counted, or the grains themselves. The beads were made of coral, jet, cornelian, pearls, or gold. A pair here means 'a set.' 'A peire of bedis eke she here'; Rom. Rose, 7372.
  • 'Sumtyme with a portas, sumtyme with a payre of bedes.'

Bale's King John, p. 27; Camden Soc.

Editor’s Note
gauded al with grene, 'having the gawdies green. Some were of silver gilt.'—T. The gawdies or gaudees were the larger beads in the set. 'One payre of beads of silver with riche gaudeys'; Monast. Anglicanum, viii. 1206; qu. by Rock, Church of our Fathers, iii. i. 403. 'Unum par de Iett [jet] gaudyett with sylver'; Nottingham Records, iii. 188. 'A peyre bedys of jeete [get], gaudied with corall'; Bury Wills, p. 82, l. 16: the note says that every eleventh bead, or gaudee, stood for a Paternoster: the smaller beads, each for an Ave Maria. The common number was 55, for 50 Aves and 5 Paternosters. The full number was 165, for 150 Aves and 15 Paternosters, also called a Rosary or Our Lady's Psalter; see the poem on Our Lady's Psalter in Horstmann, Altenglische Legenden, Neue Folge, 1881, pp. 220–4. 'Gaudye of beedes, signeau de paternoster.'—Palsgrave. Gower (Conf. Amant., ed. Pauli, iii. 372) mentions 'A paire of bedes blacke as sable,' with 'gaudees.' See Gaudia and Precula in Ducange. Gaudee originally meant a prayer beginning with Gaudete, whence the name; see Gaudez in Cotgrave.
Critical Apparatus
160. E. Hn. brooch; rest broche.
Editor’s Note
160. broche=brooch, signified, (1) a pin; (2) a breast-pin; (3) a buckle or clasp; (4) a jewel or ornament. It was an ornament common to both sexes. The brooch seems to have been made in the shape of a capital A, surmounted by a crown. See the figure of a silver-gilt brooch in the shape of an A in the Glossary to Fairholt's, Costume in England. The 'crowned A' is supposed to represent Amor or Charity, the greatest of all the Christian graces. 'Omnia uincit amor'; Vergil, Eclog. x. 69. Cf. the use of AMOR as a motto in the Squyer of Lowe Degree, l. 215.
Editor’s Note
heng, also spelt heeng, hung, is the pt. t. of M. E. hangen, to hang. Cf. A. S. hēng, pt. t. of hōn, to hang.
Editor’s Note
shene (shee·nə), showy, bright. Really allied, not to shine, but to shew. Cf. mod. E. sheen, and G. schön.
Editor’s Note
161. write is short for writen (writ·en), pp. of wryten (wrii·ten), to write.
Editor’s Note
163. Another Nonne. It was not common for Prioresses to have female chaplains; but Littré gives chapelaine, fem., as an old title of dignity in a nunnery. Moreover, it is an office still held in most Benedictine convents, as is fully explained in a letter written by a modern Nun-Chaplain, and printed in Anglia, iv. 238. See also N. and Q. 7 S. vi. 485; The Academy, Aug. 23, 1890, p. 152.
Editor’s Note
164. The mention of three priests presents some difficulty. To make up the twenty-nine mentioned in l. 24, we only want one priest, and it is afterwards assumed that there was but one priest, viz. the Nonnes Preest, who tells the tale of the Cock and Fox. Chaucer also, in all other cases, supposes that there was but one representative of each class.
The most likely solution is that Chaucer wrote a character of the Second Nun, beginning—
  • 'Another Nonne with hir hadde she
  • That was hir chapeleyne'—
and that, for some reason, he afterwards suppressed the description.
The line left imperfect, as above, may have been filled up, to stop a gap, either by himself (temporarily), or indeed by some one else.
If we are to keep the text (which stands alike in all MSS.), we must take 'wel nyne and twenty' to mean 'at least nine and twenty.'
The letter from the Nun-Chaplain mentioned in the last note shews that an Abbess might have as many as five priests, as well as a chaplain. See Essays on Chaucer (Ch. Soc.), p. 183. The difficulty is, merely, how to reconcile this line with l. 24.
Editor’s Note
165. a fair, i. e. a fair one. Cf. 'a merye' in l. 208; and l. 339.
Editor’s Note
for the maistrye is equivalent to the French phrase pour la maistrie, which in old medical books is 'applied to such medicines as we usually call sovereign, excellent above all others'; Tyrwhitt. We may explain it by 'as regards superiority,' or, 'to shew his excellence.' Cf. 'An stede he gan aprikie · wel vor the maistrie'; Rob. of Glouc. l. 11554 (or ed. Hearne, p. 553).
In the Romance of Sir Launfal, ed. Ritson, l. 957, is a description of a saddle, adorned with 'twey stones of Ynde Gay for the maystrye'; i. e. preëminently gay.
Several characteristics of various orders of monks are satirically noted in Wright's Political Songs, pp. 137–148.
Editor’s Note
166. out-rydere, outrider; formerly the name of an officer of a monastery or abbey, whose duty was to look after the manors belonging to it; or, as Chaucer himself explains it, in B. 1255
  •           'an officere out for to ryde
  • To seen hir graunges and hir bernes wyde.
In the Visitations of the Diocese of Norwich, 1492–1532, ed. Jessop (Camden Soc.), pp. 214, 279, the word occurs twice, as the name of an officer of the Abbey of St. Benet's, Hulme; e. g. 'Dompnus Willelmus Hornyng, oute-rider, dicit quod multa edificia et orrea maneriorum sunt prostrata et collapsa praesertim violentia venti hoc anno.'
The Lat. name for this officer was exequitator, as appears from Wyclif, Sermones, iii. 326 (Wyclif Soc.). I am indebted for these references and for the explanation of out-rydere to Mr. Tancock; see his note in N. and Q. 7 S. vi. 425. The same vol. of Visitations also shews that, in the same abbey, another monk, 'Thomas Stonham tertius prior' was devoted to hunting; 'communis venator . . . solet exire solus ad venatum mane in aurora.' There is also a complaint of the great number of dogs kept there—'superfluus numerus canum est in domo.' In the Rolls of Parliament (1406), vol. iii. p. 598, the sheriffs collect payments for the repair of roads and bridges 'par lour Ministres appellez Outryders'; N. and Q. 8 S. ii. 39. Note that this fully explains the use of outryders in P. Plowman, C. v. 116.
Editor’s Note
venerye, hunting; cf. A. 2308. 'The monks of the middle ages were extremely attached to hunting and field-sports; and this was a frequent subject of complaint with the more austere ecclesiastics, and of satire with the laity.'—Wright. See Strutt's Sports and Pastimes, bk. i. c. 1. §§ 9, 10; Our Eng. Home, p. 23. From Lat. uenari, to hunt.
Editor’s Note
168. deyntee, dainty, i. e. precious, valuable, rare; orig. a sb., viz. O. F. deintee, dignity, from Lat. acc. dignitatem. Cf. l. 346.
Critical Apparatus
170. Hl. Cp. whistlyng; E. whistlynge.
Critical Apparatus
E. Cm. als; Ln. al-so; Hl. so; rest as.
Editor’s Note
170. Ginglen, jingle. (The line is deficient in the first foot.) Fashionable riders were in the habit of hanging small bells on the bridles and harness of their horses. Wyclif speaks of 'a worldly preest . . in pompe and pride, coveitise and envye . . with fatte hors, and jolye and gaye sadeles, and bridelis ryngynge be the weye, and himself in costy clothes and pelure' [fur]; Works, ed. Arnold, iii. 519, 520.
In Richard Cuer de Lion, l. 1517, we read of a mounted messenger, with silk trappings—
  • 'With fyve hundred belles ryngande.'
And again, at l. 5712—
  • 'His crouper heeng al full off belles.'
'Vincent of Beauvais, speaking of the Knights Templars, and their gorgeous horse-caparisons, says they have—in pectoralibus campanulas infixas magnum emittentes sonitum'; Hist. lib. xxx. c. 85 (cited by Warton, Hist. E. P. i. 167). See B. 3984; and Spenser, F. Q. i. 2. 13; also Englische Studien, iii. 105.
Editor’s Note
172. Ther as=where that. keper, principal, head, i. e. prior. celle, cell; a 'cell' was a small monastery or nunnery, dependent on a larger one. 'Celle, a religious house, subordinate to some great abby. Of these cells some were altogether subject to their respective abbies, who appointed their officers, and received their revenues; while others consisted of a stated number of monks, who had a prior sent them from the abby, and who paid an annual pension as an acknowledgment of their subjection; but, in other matters, acted as an independent body, and received the rest of their revenues for their own use. These priories or cells were of the same order with the abbies on whom they depended. See Tanner, Pref. Not. Monast. p. xxvii.'—Todd, Illustrations of Chaucer, p. 326. Cf. note to l. 670, and especially the note to D. 2259.
Editor’s Note
173. The reule (rule) of seint Maure (St. Maur) and that of seint Beneit (St. Benet or Benedict) were the oldest forms of monastic discipline in the Romish Church. St. Maur (Jan. 15) was a disciple of St. Benet (Dec. 4), who founded the Benedictine order, and died about a.d. 542.
Editor’s Note
174. Note that streit, mod. E. strait, A. F. estreit, from Lat. strictus, is quite distinct from mod. E. straight, of A. S. origin.
Editor’s Note
175. The Harl. MS. reads, 'This ilke monk leet forby hem pace' (error for leet hem forby him pace?), 'This same monk let them pass by him unobserved.' hem refers to the rules of St. Maur and St. Benet, which were too streit (strict) for this 'lord' or superior of the house, who preferred a milder sort of discipline. Forby is still used in Scotland for by or past. pace, pass by, remain in abeyance; cf. pace, pass on, proceed, in l. 36. hem, them; originally dat. pl. of he.
Critical Apparatus
176. E. Hn. heeld; Cm. held.
Editor’s Note
176. space, course (Lat. spatium); 'and held his course in conformity with the new order of things.'
Editor’s Note
177. yaf not of, gave not for, valued not. yaf is the pt. t. of yeven or yiven, to give.
Editor’s Note
a pulled hen, lit. a plucked hen; hence, the value of a hen without its feathers; see l. 652. In D. 1112, the phrase is 'not worth a hen.' Tyrwhitt says, 'I do not see much force in the epithet pulled'; but adds, in his Glossary—'I have been told since, that a hen whose feathers are pulled, or plucked off, will not lay any eggs.' Becon speaks of a 'polled hen,' i. e. pulled hen, as one unable to fly; Works, p. 533; Parker Soc. It is only one of the numerous old phrases for expressing that a thing is of small value. See l. 182. I may add that pulled, in the sense of 'plucked off the feathers,' occurs in the Manciple's Tale; H. 304. And see Troil. v. 1546.
Editor’s Note
text, remark in writing; the word was used of any written statement that was frequently quoted. The allusion is to the legend of Nimrod, 'the mighty hunter' (Gen. x. 9), which described him as a very bad man. 'Mikel he cuth [much he knew] o sin and scham'; Cursor Mundi, l. 2202. It was he (it was said) who built the tower of Babel, and introduced idolatry and fire-worship. All this has ceased to be familiar, and the allusion has lost its point. 'We enjoin that a priest be not a hunter, nor a hawker, nor a dicer'; Canons of King Edgar, translated; no. 64. See my note to P. Plowman, C. vi. 157.
Critical Apparatus
178. Hn. Hl. been; E. beth.
Critical Apparatus
179. Hl. cloysterles; E. Hn. recchelees; Cp. Pt. Ln. recheles; Cm. rekeles (Ten Brink proposes recetlees).
Editor’s Note
179. recchelees (in MS. E.) means careless, regardless of rule; but 'a careless monk' is not necessarily 'a monk out of his cloister.' But the reading cloisterless (in MS. Harl.) solves the difficulty; being a coined word, Chaucer goes on to explain it in l. 181. See the quotation from Jehan de Meung in the next note.
Editor’s Note
179–81. This passage, says Tyrwhitt, 'is attributed by Gratian (Decretal. P. ii. Cau. xvi. q. l. c. viii.) to a pope Eugenius: Sicut piscis sine aqua caret vita, ita sine monasterio monachus.' Joinville says, 'The Scriptures do say that a monk cannot live out of his cloister without falling into deadly sins, any more than a fish can live out of water without dying.' Cf. Piers Plowman, B. x. 292; and my note.
Wyclif (Works, ed. Matthew), p. 449, has a similar remark:—'For, as they seyn that groundiden [founded] these cloystris, thes men myghten no more dwelle out ther-of than fizs myghte dwelle out of water, for vertu that they han ther-ynne.' The simile is very old; in The Academy, Nov. 29, 1890, Prof. Albert Cook traced it back to Sozomen, Eccl. Hist. bk. i. c. 13 (Migne, Patr. Graec. 67. 898):—τοὺς μὲν γὰρ ἰχθύας ἔλεγε τὴν ὑγρὰν οὐσίαν τρέϕειν, μοναχοῖς δὲ κόσμον ϕέρειν τὴν ἔρημον. ἐπίσης τε τοὺς μὲν ξηρᾶς ἀπτομένους τὸ ζῇν ἀπολιμπάνειν, τοὺς δὲ τὴν μοναστικὴν σεμνότητα ἀπολλύειν τοῖς ἄστεσι προσιόντας‎ And in The Academy, Dec. 6, 1890, Mr. H. Ellershaw, of Durham, shewed that it occurs still earlier, in the Life of St. Anthony (c. 85) attributed to St. Athanasius, not later than a. d. 373:—ὥσπερ οἱ ἰχθύες ἐγχρονίζοντες τῇ ξηρᾷ γῇ τελευτῶσιν· οὕτως οἱ μοναχοὶ βραδύνοντες μεθ᾽ ὑμῶν καὶ παρ᾽ ὑμῖν ἐνδιατρίβοντες ἐκλύονται‎.
Moreover, the poet was thinking of a passage in Le Testament de Jehan de Meung, ed. Méon, l. 1166:—
  • 'Qui les voldra trover, si les quiere en leur cloistre . . .
  • Car ne prisent le munde la montance d'une oistre.'
i. e. 'whoever would find them, let him seek them in their cloister; for they do not prize the world at the value of an oyster.' Chaucer turns this passage just the other way about.
Editor’s Note
A. 179. It is shown (vol. v. p. 22) that the simile about the fish out of water occurs in the Life of St. Anthony. Chaucer clearly took it from Jehan de Meung (or Jean de Meun); but the French poet probably took it from the Life of St. Anthony in the Legenda Aurea. We find it even in Caxton's Golden Legende:—'for lyke as fysshes that haue ben longe in the water whan they come in-to drye londe they muste dye, in lyke wyse the monkes that goon out of theyr cloystre or selles, yf they conuerse longe wyth seculiers they must nedes lose theyr holynesse and leue theyr good lyf.'
Critical Apparatus
182. E. Hn. heeld; Cm. held.
Editor’s Note
182. text, remark, saying (as above, in l. 177). held, esteemed.
Editor’s Note
183. 'And I said.' This is a very realistic touch; as if Chaucer had been talking to the monk, obtaining his opinions, and professing to agree with them.
Editor’s Note
184. What has here its earliest sense of wherefore, or why.
Editor’s Note
wood, mad, foolish, is frequently employed by Spenser; A. S. wōd.
Editor’s Note
186. swinken, to toil; whence 'swinked hedger,' used by Milton (Comus, l. 293). But swinken is, properly, a strong verb; A. S. swincan, pt. t. swanc, pp. swuncen. Hence swink, s., toil; l. 188.
Editor’s Note
187. bit, the 3rd pers. sing. pres. of bidden, to command. So also rit, rideth, A. 974, 981; fynt, findeth, A. 4071; rist, riseth, A. 4193; stant, standeth, B. 618; sit, sitteth, D. 1657; smit, smiteth, E. 122; hit, hideth, F. 512.
Editor’s Note
187, 188. Austin, St. Augustine. The reference is to St. Augustine of Hippo, after whom the Augustinian Canons were named. Their rule was compiled from his writings. Thus we read that 'bothe monks and chanouns forsaken the reules of Benet and Austyn'; Wyclif's Works, ed. Arnold, iii. 511. And again— 'Seynt Austyn techith munkis to labore with here hondis, and so doth seint Benet and seynt Bernard'; Wyclif's Works, ed. Matthew, p. 51. See Cutts, Scenes and Characters, &c.; ch. ii. and ch. iii.
Critical Apparatus
188. E. his owene; rest om. owene.
Editor’s Note
189. a pricasour, a hard rider, priking, hard riding (l. 191).
Critical Apparatus
190. Hl. swifte; rest swift.
Editor’s Note
190. Cf. 'Also fast so the fowl in flyght'; Ywaine and Gawin, 630.
Editor’s Note
192. for no cost, for no expense. Dr. Morris explains for no cost by 'for no reason,' and certainly M. E. cost sometimes has such a force; but see ll. 213, 799, where it clearly means 'expense.'
Critical Apparatus
193. Hl. Hn. purfiled; Cm. purfilid; E. ypurfiled.
Editor’s Note
193. seigh, saw; A. S. sēah, pt. t. of sēon, to see.
Editor’s Note
purfiled, edged with fur. The M. E. purfil signifies the embroidered or furred hem of a garment, so that purfile is to work upon the edge. Purfiled has also a more extended meaning, and is applied to garments overlaid with gems or other ornaments. 'Pourfiler d'or, to purfle, tinsell, or overcast with gold thread,' &c.: Cotgrave. Spenser uses purfled in the Fairy Queene, i. 2. 13 ; ii. 3. 26. Cf. note to P. Plowman, C. iii. 10.
Editor’s Note
194. grys, a sort of costly grey fur, formerly very much esteemed; O. F. gris, Rom. de la Rose, 9121, 9307; Sir Tristrem, l. 1381. 'The grey is the back-fur of the northern squirrel'; L. Gautier, Chivalry (Eng. tr.), p. 323. Such a dress as is here described must have been very expensive. In 1231 (Close Roll, 16 Hen. III.), king Henry III. had a skirt (iupa) of scarlet, furred with red gris. See Gloss. to Liber Custumarum, ed. Riley, s. v. griseum, p. 806.
In Lydgate's Dance of Macabre, the Cardinal is made to regret—
  • 'That I shal never hereafter clothed be
  • In grise nor ermine, like unto my degree.'
The Council of London (1342) reproaches the religious orders with wearing clothing 'fit rather for knights than for clerks, that is to say, short, very tight, with excessively wide sleeves, not reaching the elbows, but hanging down very low, lined with fur or with silk'; see J. Jusserand, English Wayfaring Life (1889). Cf. Wyclif, Works, ed. Matthew, p. 121.
'This worshipful man, this dene, came rydynge into a good paryssh with a x. or xii. horses lyke a prelate'; Caxton, Fables of Æsop, &c.; last fable; cf. l. 204 below.
Critical Apparatus
196. Hl. a; rest a ful.
Critical Apparatus
196. 218. Ln. had; rest hadde.
Editor’s Note
196. 'He had an elaborate brooch, made of gold, with a love-knot in the larger end.' love-knotte, a complicated twist, with loops.
Editor’s Note
198. balled, bald. See Specimens of Early English, ii. 15. 408.
Critical Apparatus
199. E. it; rest he.
Editor’s Note
199. anoint, anointed; O. F. enoint, Lat. inunctus.
Editor’s Note
200. in good point, in good case, imitated from the O. F. en bon point. Cotgrave has: 'En bon poinct, ou, bien en poinct, handsome: faire, fat, well liking, in good taking.'
Editor’s Note
201. stepe, E.E. steap, does not here mean sunken, but bright, burning, fiery. Mr. Cockayne has illustrated the use of this word in his Seinte Marherete, pp. 9, 108: 'His twa ehnen [semden] steappre þene steorren,' his two eyes seemed brighter than stars. So also: 'schininde and scheme, of ȝimstanes steapre then is eni steorre,' shining and clearer, brighter with gems than is any star; St. Katherine, l. 1647. The expression 'eyen gray and stepe,' i. e. bright, has already been quoted in the note to l. 152. So also 'Eyyen stepe and graye'; King of Tars, l. 15 (in Ritson, Met. Rom. ii. 157); and again, 'thair een steep'; Palladius on Husbandry, bk. iv. l. 800. Cf. stemed in the next line; and see l. 753.
Editor’s Note
202. stemed as a forneys of a leed, shone like the fire under a cauldron. Here stemed is related to the M. E. stēm, a bright light, used in Havelok, 591. Cf. 'two stemyng eyes,' two bright eyes; Sir T. Wiat, Sat. i. 53. That refers to eyen, not to heed.
A kitchen-copper is still sometimes called a lead. As to the word leed, which is the same as the modern E. lead (the metal), Mr. Stevenson, in his edition of the Nottingham Records, iii. 493, observes—'That these vessels were really made of lead we have ample evidence'; and refers us to the Laws of Æthelstán, iv. 7 (Schmid, Anhang, xvi. § 1); &c. He adds—'The lead was frequently fixed, like a modern domestic copper, over a grate. The grate and flue were known as a furnace. Hence the frequent expression—a lead in furnace.' See also led in Havelok, l. 924; and lead in Tusser's Husbandrie, E. D. S.
Critical Apparatus
203, 4. E. estaat, prelaat.
Editor’s Note
203. botes souple, boots pliable, soft, and close-fitting.
'This is part of the description of a smart abbot, by an anonymous writer of the thirteenth century: "Ocreas habebat in cruribus quasi innatae essent, sine plica porrectas."—MS. Bodley, James, no. 6. p. 121.'—T. See Rom. of the Rose, 2265–70 (vol. i. p. 173).
Editor’s Note
205. for-pyned, 'tormented,' and hence 'wasted away'; from pine. The for- is intensive, as in Eng. forswear.
Critical Apparatus
208. E. wantowne.
Editor’s Note
208. Frere, friar. The four orders of mendicant friars mentioned in l. 210 were:—(1) The Dominicans, or friars-preachers, who took up their abode in Oxford in 1221, known as the Black Friars. (2) The Franciscans, founded by St. Francis of Assisi in 1209, and known by the name of Grey Friars. They made their first appearance in England in 1224. (3) The Carmelites, or White Friars. (4) The Augustin (or Austin) Friars. The friar was popular with the mercantile classes on account of his varied attainments and experience. 'Who else so welcome at the houses of men to whom scientific skill and information, scanty as they might be, were yet of no inconsiderable service and attraction. He alone of learned and unlearned possessed some knowledge of foreign countries and their productions; he alone was acquainted with the composition and decomposition of bodies, with the art of distillation, with the construction of machinery, and with the use of the laboratory.' See Professor Brewer's Preface to Monumenta Franciscana, p. xlv; and, in particular, the poem called 'Pierce the Ploughman's Crede,' and the satirical piece against the Friars entitled Jack Upland, formerly printed with Chaucer's Works. Several pieces against them will also be found in Political Poems, ed. Wright (Record Series); and there are numerous outspoken attacks upon them in Wyclif's various works, as, e.g. in the Select Eng. Works, ed. Arnold, iii. 366, and in his Works, ed. Matthew, p. 47. See also the chapter on Friars in the E. translation of Jusserand, Eng. Wayfaring Life; p. 293.
Many of the remarks concerning the Frere are ultimately due to Le Roman de la Rose. See The Romaunt of the Rose, ll. 6161–7698; in vol. i. pp. 234–259.
Editor’s Note
wantown, sometimes written wantowen, literally signifies untrained, and hence wild, brisk, lively, wan- is a common M. E. prefix, equivalent to our un- or dis-, as in wanhope, despair; towen or town occurs in M. E. writers for well-behaved, well-taught; from A. S. togen, pp. of tēon, to educate.
Editor’s Note
merye, pleasant; cf. M. E. mery wether, pleasant weather.
Editor’s Note
209. limitour was a begging friar to whom was assigned a certain district or limit, within which he was permitted to solicit alms; it was also his business to solicit persons to purchase a partnership, or brotherhood, in the merits of their conventual services. See Tyndale's Works, i. 212 (Parker Soc.); and note to P. Plowman, B. v. 138. Hence in later times the verb limit signifies to beg.
  • 'Ther walketh now the limitour himself,
  • In undermeles and in morweninges;
  • And seyth his matins and his holy thinges
  • As he goth in his limitacioun.'

Wife of Bath's Tale; D. 874.

Editor’s Note
210. ordres foure, four orders (note to l. 208). can, i. e. 'knows.'
Critical Apparatus
211. Hn. muche; E. muchel.
Editor’s Note
211. daliaunce and fair langage, gossip and flattery. daliaunce in M. E. signifies 'tittle-tattle' or 'gossip.' The verb dally signifies not only to loiter or idle, but to play, sport. Godefroy gives O. F. 'dallier, v. a., railler.'
Editor’s Note
212. 'He had, at his own expense, well married many young women.' This is less generous than might appear; for it almost certainly refers to young women who had been his concubines. As Dr. Furnivall remarks in his Temporary Preface, p. 118—'the true explanation lies in the following extract from a letter of Dr. Layton to Cromwell, in 1535 a. d., in Mr. Thos. Wright's edition of Letters on the Suppression of the Monasteries (Camden Soc.), p. 58: [At Maiden Bradley, near Bristol] "is an holy father prior, and hath but vj. children, and but one dowghter mariede yet of the goodes of the monasterie, trystyng shortly to mary the reste. His sones be tall men, waittyng upon him; and he thankes Gode a never medelet with marytt women, but all with madens, the faireste cowlde be gottyn, and always marede them ryght well."'
Critical Apparatus
213. Hl. owne; E. owene.
Editor’s Note
214. post, pillar or support, as in Troil. i. 1000. See Gal. ii. 9.
Critical Apparatus
215. E. And; rest Ful.
Editor’s Note
216. frankeleyns, wealthy farmers; see l. 331. over-al, everywhere.
Critical Apparatus
217. Hl. Hn. eek; rest omit.
Editor’s Note
217. worthy, probably 'wealthy'; or else, 'respectable.' Cf. l. 68.
Editor’s Note
219. The word mór-e occupies the fourth foot in the line; cf. n. to l. 320. It is an adj., with the sense of 'greater.'
Editor’s Note
220. licentiat. He had a licence from the Pope 'to hear confessions, &c., in all places, independently of the local ordinaries.'—T. The curate, or parish priest, could not grant absolution in all cases, some of which were reserved for the bishop's decision. See Wyclif's Works, ed. Arnold, iii. 394.
Critical Apparatus
224. Hl. Cm. han; E. haue.
Editor’s Note
224. wiste to han, knew (he was sure) to have.
Editor’s Note
pitaunce here signifies a mess of victuals. It originally signified an extraordinary allowance of victuals given to monastics, in addition to their usual commons, and was afterwards applied to the whole allowance of food for a single person, or to a small portion of anything.
Editor’s Note
225. 'For the giving (of gifts) to a poor order.' povre, O. F. povre, poor; cf. pover-ty. See pov-re in l. 232.
Editor’s Note
226. y-shrive = y-shriven, confessed, shriven. The final n is dropped; cf. unknowe for unknowen in l. 126.
Editor’s Note
227. he dorste, he durst make (it his) boast, i. e. confidently assert.
Editor’s Note
avaunt, a boast, is from the O. F. vb. avanter, to boast, an intensive form of vanter, whence E. vaunt.
Critical Apparatus
229. E. harde.
Critical Apparatus
231. E. wepynge.
Critical Apparatus
232. E. Hn. moote; see note.
Editor’s Note
232. Men moot, one ought to. Here moot is singular; cf. l. 149.
Editor’s Note
233. tipet, a loose hood, which seems to have been used as a pocket. 'When the Order [of Franciscans] degenerated, the friar combined with the spiritual functions the occupation of pedlar, huxter, mountebank, and quack doctor.' (Brewer.) 'Thei [the friars] becomen pedderis [pedlars], berynge knyues, pursis, pynnys, and girdlis, and spices, and sylk, and precious pellure and forrouris [sorts of fur] for wymmen, and therto smale gentil hondis [dogs], to gete love of hem, and to haue many grete yiftis for litil good or nought.'—Wyclif's Works, ed. Matthew, p. 12. As to the tipet, cf. notes to ll. 682, 3953.
In an old poem printed in Brewer's Monumenta Franciscana, we have the following allusion to the dealings of the friar:—
  • 'For thai have noght to lyve by, they wandren here and there,
  • And dele with dyvers marche, right as thai pedlers were;
  • Thei dele with pynnes and knyves,
  • With gyrdles, gloves for wenches and wyves,
  • Ther thai are haunted till.'
In a poem in MS. Camb., Ff. 1. 6, fol. 156, it is explained that the limitour craftily gives 'pynnys, gerdyllis, and knyeffis' to wommen, in order to receive better things in return. He could get knives for less than a penny a-piece. Cf. 'De j. doss, cultellorum diet, penyware. xd.'; York Wills, iii. 96.
Women used to wear knives sheathed and suspended from their girdles; such knives were often given to a bride. See the chapter on Bride-knives in Brand's Popular Antiquities.
Editor’s Note
farsed, stuffed; from F. farcir. Cf. E. farce.
Critical Apparatus
234. E. yonge; rest faire.
Critical Apparatus
235. Hl. mery; E. murye.
Editor’s Note
236. rote is a kind of fiddle or 'crowd,' not a hurdy-gurdy, as it is explained by Ritson, and in the glossary to Sir Tristrem. Cf. Spenser, F. Q. ii. 10. 3; iv. 9. 6; Sir Degrevant, l. 37 (see Halliwell's note, at p. 289 of the Thornton Romances). See my Etym. Dictionary.
Critical Apparatus
237. E. baar.
Critical Apparatus
Pt. vttirly; Hl. vtturly; E. Hn. outrely.
Editor’s Note
237. yeddinges, songs embodying some popular tales or romances. In Sir Degrevant, l. 1421, we are told that a lady 'song yeddyngus,' i.e. sang songs. For singing such songs, he was in the highest estimation. From A. S. geddian, to sing. Cf. P. Plowman, A. i. 138:—'Ther thou art murie at thy mete, whon me biddeth th yedde.'
Editor’s Note
prys answers both to E. prize and price; cf. l. 67.
Editor’s Note
239. champioun, champion; i.e. a professional fighter in judicial lists. Cf. P. Plowman, C. xxi. 104; and see Britton, liv. i. ch. 23. § 15.
Critical Apparatus
240. E. al the; rest euery.
Editor’s Note
241. tappestere, a female tapster. In olden times the retailers of beer, and for the most part the brewers also, appear to have been females. The -stere or -ster as a feminine affix (though in the fourteenth century it is not always or regularly used as such) occurs in M. E. brewstere, webbestere, Eng. spinster. In huckster, maltster, songster, this affix has acquired the meaning of an agent; and in youngster, gamester, punster, &c., it implies contempt. See Skeat, Principles of Etymology, pt. i. § 238. Cf. beggestere, female beggar, 242.
Editor’s Note
242. Bet, better, adv.; as distinguished from bettre, adj. (l. 524).
Editor’s Note
lazar, a leper; from Lazarus, in the parable of Dives and Lazarus; hence lazaretto, a hospital for lepers, a lazar-house.
Editor’s Note
244. 'It was unsuitable, considering his ability.'
Critical Apparatus
245. E. Hn. Cm. sike; Pt. Ln. seke; see l. 18.
Critical Apparatus
246. Cm. honest; E. honeste.
Editor’s Note
246. 'It is not becoming, it may not advance (profit) to deal with (associate with) any such poor people.' Cf. Rom. of the Rose, 6455, 6462; and note to P. Plowman, C. xiii. 21.
Editor’s Note
247. The line is imperfect in the first foot.
Editor’s Note
poraille, rabble of poor people; from O. F. povre, poor.
Critical Apparatus
248. E. selleres.
Editor’s Note
248. riche, i. e. rich people.
Editor’s Note
249, 250. 'And everywhere, wherever profit was likely to accrue, courteous he was, and humble in offering his services.'
Critical Apparatus
250. E. lowely.
Critical Apparatus
After l. 252, Hn. alone inserts ll. 252 b and 252 c.
Editor’s Note
251. vertuous, (probably) energetic, efficient; cf. vertu in l. 4.
Editor’s Note
252, 253. Between these two lines the Hengwrt MS. inserts the two lines marked 252 b and 252 c, which are omitted in the other MSS., though they certainly appear to be genuine, and are found in all the black-letter editions, which follow Thynne. In the Six-text edition, which is here followed, they are not counted in. Tyrwhitt both inserts and numbers them; hence a slight difference in the methods of numbering the lines after this line. Tyrwhitt's numbering is given, at every tenth line, within marks of parenthesis, for convenience of reference. The sense is—'And gave a certain annual payment for the grant (to be licensed to beg; in consequence of which) none of his brethren came with his limit.'
Editor’s Note
ferme is the mod. E. farm; cf. 'to farm revenues.'
Editor’s Note
253. sho, shoe; not sou (as has been suggested), which would (in fact) give a false rime. So also 'worth his olde sho'; D. 708.
The friars were not above receiving even the smallest articles; and ferthing, in l. 255, may be explained by 'small article,' of a farthing's value. See l. 134.
  • 'For had a man slayn al his kynne,
  • Go shryve him at a frere;
  • And for lasse then a payre of shone
  • He wyl assoil him clene and sone!'

Polit. Poems, ed. Wright; i. 266.

'Ever be giving of somewhat, though it be but a cheese, or a piece of bacon, to the holy order of sweet St. Francis, or to any other of my [i. e. Antichrist's] friars, monks, canons, &c. Holy Church refuseth nothing, but gladly taketh whatsoever cometh.'—Becon's Acts of Christ and of Antichrist, vol. iii. p. 531 (Parker Society). And see the Somp. Tale, D. 1746–1751.
Editor’s Note
254. In principio. The reference is to the text in John i. 1, as proved by a passage from Tyndale (Works, ed. 1572, p. 271, col. 2; or iii. 61, Parker Soc.):—'Such is the limiter's saying of In principio erat verbum, from house to house.' Sir Walter Scott copies this phrase in The Fair Maid of Perth, ch. iii. The friars constantly quoted this text.
Editor’s Note
256. purchas=proceeds of his begging. What he acquired in this way was greater than his rent or income. 'Purchase, . . any method of acquiring an estate otherwise than by descent'; Blackstone, Comment. I. iii. For rente, see l. 373.
  • We find also: 'My purchas is theffect of al my rente'; D. 1451.
  •                       'To winne is alway myn entent,
  •                       My purchas is better than my rent.'

Romaunt of the Rose, l. 6837;

where the F. original has (l. 11760)—'Miex vaut mes porchas que ma rente.'
Editor’s Note
257. as it were right (E. Hn. &c.); and pleye as (Hl.). The sense is—'and he could romp about, exactly as if he were a puppy-dog.'
Editor’s Note
258. love-dayes. 'Love-days (dies amoris) were days fixed for settling differences by umpire, without having recourse to law or violence. The ecclesiastics seem generally to have had the principal share in the management of these transactions, which, throughout the Vision of Piers Ploughman, appear to be censured as the means of hindering justice and of enriching the clergy.'—Wright's Vision of Piers Ploughman, vol. ii. p. 535.
  • 'Ac now is Religion a rydere, and a rennere aboute,
  • A iedere of love-dayes,' &c.
Piers Ploughman, A. xi. 208, ed. Skeat; see also note to P. Pl. ed. Skeat, B. iii. 157. The sense is—'he could give much help on lovedays (by acting as umpire).' See ll. 259–261.
As to loveday, see Wyclif, Works, ed. Matthew, pp. 172, 234, 512; and the same, Works, ed. Arnold, ii. 77; iii. 322; Paston Letters, ed. Gairdner, i. 496; Titus Andronicus, i. 1. 491. In the Testament of Love, bk. i. (ed. 1561, fol. 287, col. 2) we find—'What (quod she) . . . maked I not a louedaie betwene God and mankind, and chese a maide to be nompere [umpire], to put the quarell at ende?'
Critical Apparatus
259. Hl. Cm. cloysterer; E. Hn. Cloystrer.
Critical Apparatus
260. So all the MSS. (but with bare); cf. l. 290.
Editor’s Note
260. cope, a priest's vestment; a cloak forming a semicircle when laid flat; the semi-cope (l. 262) was a short cloak or cape. Cf. Pierce the Ploughman's Crede, ll. 227, 228:—
  • 'His cope that biclypped him, wel clene was it folden,
  • Of double-worstede y-dyght, doun to the hele.'
This line is a little awkward to scan. With a thred- constitutes the first foot; and povre is povr' (cp. mod. F.pauvre).
Editor’s Note
261. 'The kyng or the emperour myghtte with worschipe were a garnement of a frere for goodnesse of the cloth'; Wyclif's Works, ed. Matthew, p. 50.
Critical Apparatus
262. All worstede (badly).
Editor’s Note
263. rounded, assumed a round form; used intransitively. presse, the mould in which a bell is cast; cf. l. 81.
Editor’s Note
264. lipsed, lisped; by metathesis of s and p. See footnote to l. 273. for his wantownesse, by way of mannerism.
Critical Apparatus
266. Pt. Ln. had; rest hadde.
Editor’s Note
270. a forked berd. In the time of Edward III. forked beards were the fashion among the franklins and bourgeoisie, according to the English custom before the Conquest. See Fairholt's Costume in England, fig. 30.
Critical Apparatus
271. Ln. motteley; Hl. motteleye; E. Hn. motlee.
Editor’s Note
271. In mottelee, in a motley dress; cf. l. 328.
Critical Apparatus
272. E. beuere.
Critical Apparatus
273. Cp. Pt. clapsed; Hl. clapsud.
Editor’s Note
273. clasped; fastened with a clasp fairly and neatly. See l. 124.
Critical Apparatus
274. E. Hise.
Editor’s Note
274. resons, opinions. ful solempnely, with much importance.
Editor’s Note
275. 'Always conducing to the increase of his profit,' souninge, sounding like, conducing to; cf. l. 307. Compare—'thei chargen more [care more for] a litil thing that sowneth to wynnyng of hem, than a myche more [greater] thing that sowneth to worchip of God'; Wyclif, Works, ed. Arnold, ii. 383. 'These indulgencis . . . done mykel harme to Cristen soulis, and sownen erroure ageynes the gospel'; id., iii. 459. Cf. Chaucer's Doctour's Tale, C. 54; also P. Plowman, C. vii. 59, x. 216, xii. 79, xxii. 455. The M. E. sb. soun is from F. son, Lat. acc. sonum.
Editor’s Note
276. were kept, should be guarded; so that he should not suffer from pirates or privateers. 'The old subsidy of tonnage and poundage was given to the king for the safeguard and custody of the sea 12. Edw. IV. c. 3.'—T.
  • 'The see wel kept, it must be don for drede.'

A Libell of English Policie, l. 1083.

In 1360, a commission was granted to John Gibone to proceed, with certain ships of the Cinque Ports, to free the sea from pirates and others, the enemies of the king; Appendix E. to Rymer's Fœdera, p. 50.
Editor’s Note
for any thing, i. e. for any sake, at any cost. The A. S. thing is often used in the sense of 'sake,' 'cause,' or 'reason.' For in Chaucer also means 'against,' or 'to prevent,' but not (I think) here.
Editor’s Note
277. Middelburgh and Orewelle. 'Middelburgh is still a well-known port of the island of Walcheren, in the Netherlands, almost immediately opposite Harwich, beside which are the estuaries of the rivers Stoure and Orwell. This spot was formerly known as the port of Orwell or Orewelle.'—Saunders, p. 229.
This mention of Middelburgh 'proves that the Prologue must have been written not before 1384, and not later than 1388. In the year 1384 the wool-staple was removed from Calais and established at Middelburgh; in 1388 it was fixed once more at Calais; see Craik's Hist. of Brit. Commerce, i. 123.'—Hales, Folia Literaria, p. 100. This note has a special importance.
Editor’s Note
278. 'He well knew how to make a profit by the exchange of his crowns' in the different money-markets of Europe. Sheeldes are crowns (O.F. escuz, F. écus), named from their having on one side the figure of a shield. They were valued at half a noble, or 3s. 4d.; Appendix E. to Rymer's Fœdera, p. 55. See B. 1521.
Editor’s Note
279. his wit bisette, employed his knowledge to the best advantage. bisette = used, employed. Cf. Piers Plowman, ed. Skeat, B. v. 297:—
  • 'And if thow wite (know) nevere to whiche, ne whom to restitue
  •      [the goods gotten wrongfully]
  • Bere it to the bisschop, and bidde hym, of his grace,
  • Bisette it hymselue, as best is for thi soule.'
Editor’s Note
280. he may not, he is not able to. him sore smerte, it may pain him, or grieve him, sorely.
Critical Apparatus
281. Cp. statly.
Editor’s Note
281, 282. 'So ceremoniously (or, with such, lofty bearing) did he order his bargains and agreements for borrowing money.' A chevisaunce was an agreement for borrowing money on credit; cf. B. 1519; also P. Plowman, B. v. 249, and the note. From F. chevir, to accomplish; cf. E. achieve.
Editor’s Note
284. noot = ne + woot, know not; so niste = ne + wiste, knew not.
Editor’s Note
285. Clerk, a university student, a scholar preparing for the priesthood. It also signifies a man of learning, a man in holy orders. See Anstey's Munimenta Academica for much interesting information on early Oxford life and studies.
Editor’s Note
Oxenford, Oxford, as if 'the ford of the oxen' (A. S. Oxnaford); and it has not been proved that this etymology is wrong.
Editor’s Note
y-go, gone, betaken himself.
Critical Apparatus
287. E. And; Hl. Al so; rest As.
Editor’s Note
287. Hence 'Leane as a rake' in Skelton, Philip Sparowe, l. 913; 'A villaine, leane as any rake, appeares'; W. Browne, Brit. Past, bk. ii. song I.
Critical Apparatus
289. E. Hn. sobrely; rest soburly.
Critical Apparatus
290. All -bare. Hl. ouerest; E. Hn. Cm. ouereste.
Editor’s Note
290. 'His uppermost short cloak (of coarse cloth).' The syllable -py answers to Du. pije, a coarse cloth; cf. Goth. paida, a coat. Cf. E. pea-jacket. See D. 1382; P. Plowman, B. vi. 191; Rom. Rose, 220.
Critical Apparatus
291. Cp. Ln. had; rest hadde.
Editor’s Note
292. 'Nor was he so worldly as to take a (secular) office.' Many clerks undertook legal employments; P. Plowman, B. prol. 95.
Critical Apparatus
293. Cp. Ln. Hl. leuer; rest leuere.
Editor’s Note
293. 'For it was dearer to him to have,' i. e. he would rather have.
Editor’s Note
lever is the comparative of M. E. leef, A. S. lēof, lief, dear.
Editor’s Note
294. The first foot is defective: Twen|ty bo |kes, &c.
Editor’s Note
296. In the Milleres Tale, Chaucer describes a clerk of a very opposite character, who loved dissipation and played upon a 'sautrye' or psaltery. See A. 3200–20.
Editor’s Note
fithel is the mod. E. fiddle. sautrye is an O. F. spelling of our psaltery.
Editor’s Note
297. philosophre is used in a double sense; it sometimes meant an alchemist, as in G. 1427. The clerk knew philosophy, but he was no alchemist, and so had but little gold.
Editor’s Note
298. Hadde, possessed; as hadde is here emphatic, the final e is not elided. So also in l. 386.
Critical Apparatus
300. E. Hl. his; rest on.
Editor’s Note
301. Chaucer often imitates his own lines. He here imitates Troil. iv. 1174—'And pitously gan for the soule preye.' gan, did.
Editor’s Note
302. yaf him, 'gave him (money) wherewith to attend school.' An allusion to the common practice, at this period, of poor scholars in the Universities, who wandered about the country begging, to raise money to support them in their studies. Luther underwent a similar experience. Cf. P. Plowman, B. vii. 31; also Ploughman's Crede, ed. Skeat, p. 71.
Editor’s Note
305. 'With propriety (due form) and modesty.'
Editor’s Note
307. Souninge in, conducing to; cf. note to l. 275 above.
Editor’s Note
309. war, wary, cautions; A. S. wœr, aware. Cf. l. 157.
Editor’s Note
310. at the parvys, at the church-porch, or portico of St. Paul's, where the lawyers were wont to meet for consultation. See Ducange, s. v. paradisus, which is the Latin form whence the O. F. parvis is derived. Also the note in Warton, Hist. E. Poet., ed. 1840, ii. 212; cf. Anglia, viii. 453. And see Rom. of the Rose. 7108, and the note.
Editor’s Note
315. pleyn, full; F. plein, Lat. acc. plenum. Cf. pleyn, fully, in l. 327.
Editor’s Note
320. purchasing, conveyancing; infect, invalid. 'The learned Sergeant was clever enough to untie any entail, and pass the property as estate in fee simple.'—W. H. H. Kelke, in N. and Q. 5 S. vi. 487.
The word might-e occupies the fourth foot in the line.
Editor’s Note
323, 324. 'He was well acquainted with all the legal cases and decisions (or decrees) which had been ruled in the courts of law (lit. had befallen) since the time of William the Conqueror.' In termes hadde he, he had in terms, knew how to express in proper terms, was well acquainted with.
Critical Apparatus
324. E. yfalle; rest falle.
Editor’s Note
325. Therto, moreover. make, compose, draw up, draught.
Critical Apparatus
326. E. Hn. pynchen; rest pynche, pinche.
Editor’s Note
326. pinche at, find fault with; lit. nip, twitch at.
Editor’s Note
327. coude he, he knew; coude is the pt. t. of konnen, to know, A. S. cunnan.
Editor’s Note
328. medlee cote, a coat of mixed stuff or colour. In 1303, we find mention of 'one woman's surcoat of medley'; see Memorials of London, ed. Riley, p. 48.
Editor’s Note
329. ceint of silk, &c., a girdle of silk, with small ornaments. The barres were called cloux in French (Lat. clavus), and were the usual ornaments of a girdle. They were perforated to allow the tongue of the buckle to pass through them. 'Originally they were attached transversely to the wide tissue of which the girdle was formed, but subsequently were round or square, or fashioned like the heads of lions, and similar devices, the name of barre being still retained, though improperly.'—Way, in Promptorium Parvulorum; s. v. barre. And see Bar in the New English Dictionary. Gower also has: 'a ceinte of silk'; C. A. ed. Pauli, ii. 30. Cf. A. 3235, and Rom. of the Rose, 1085, 1103.
Editor’s Note
ceint, O. F. ceint, a girdle; from Lat. cinctus, pp. of cingere, to gird.
Editor’s Note
331. Fortescue (De Laudibus Legum Angliae, c. 29) describes a franklin to be a pater familiasmagnis ditatus possessionibus; i. e. he was a substantial householder and a man of some importance. See Warton, Hist. E. Poet., ed. 1840, ii. 202; and Gloss, to P. Plowman.
Critical Apparatus
332. E. heed; rest berd, berde.
Critical Apparatus
E. a; rest the.
Editor’s Note
332. dayes-ye, daisy; A. S. dœges ēage, lit. eye of day (the sun).
Editor’s Note
333. 'He was sanguine of complexion.' The old school of medicine, following Galen, supposed that there were four 'humours,' viz. hot, cold, moist, and dry (see l. 420), and four complexions or temperaments of men, viz. the sanguine, the choleric, the phlegmatic, and the melancholy. The man of sanguine complexion abounded in hot and moist humours, as shown in the following description, given in the Oriel MS. 79 (as quoted in my Preface to P. Plowman, B-text, p. xix):—
  • 'Sanguineus.
  • Largus, amans, hilaris, ridens, rubeique coloris,
  • Cantans, carnosus, satis audax, atque benignus:
  • multum appetit, quia calidus; multum potest, quia humidus.'
Editor’s Note
334. by the morwe, in the morning.
Editor’s Note
a sop in wyn, wine with pieces of cake or bread in it; see E. 1843. See Brand, Antiq. (ed. Ellis), ii. 137. Later, sop-in-wine was a jocose name for a kind of pink or carnation; id. ii. 91.
In the Anturs of Arthur at the Tarnewathelan, st. 37, we read that
  • 'Thre soppus of demayn [i. e. paindemayn]
  • Wos broght to Sir Gaua[y]n
  • For to comford his brayne.'
And in MS. Harl. 279, fol. 10, we have the necessary instruction for the making of these sops. 'Take mylke and boyle it, and thanne tak yolkys of eyroun [eggs], ytryid [separated] fro the whyte, and hete it, but let it nowt boyle, and stere it wyl tyl it be somwhat thikke; thenne cast therto salt and sugre, and kytte [cut] fayre paynemaynnys in round soppys, and caste the soppys theron, and serve it forth for a potage.'—Way, in Promptorium Parvulorum, p. 378. The F. name is soupe au vin. See also Ducange, s. v. Merus.
Critical Apparatus
335. ever] Hl. al.
Editor’s Note
335. wone, wont, custom; A. S. wuna, ge-wuna.
Editor’s Note
delyt, delight; the mod. E. word is misspelt; delite would be better.
Critical Apparatus
336. E. Hn. Cm. owene; rest owne.
Editor’s Note
336. 'A very son of Epicurus.' Alluding to the famous Greek philosopher [died b. c. 270], the author of the Epicurean philosophy, which assumed pleasure to be the highest good. Chaucer here follows Boethius, bk. iii. pr. 2. 54: 'The whiche delyt only considerede Epicurus, and iuged and establisshed that delyt is the sovereyn good.' Cf. Troil. iii. 1691, v. 763; also E. 2021.
Critical Apparatus
338. Hl. verraily; rest verray, verrey, uery.
Critical Apparatus
340. E. was he; rest he was.
Editor’s Note
340. 'St. Julian was eminent for providing his votaries with good lodgings and accommodation of all sorts. [See Chambers' Book of Days, ii. 388.] In the title of his legend, Bodl. MS. 1596, fol. 4, he is called "St. Julian the gode herberjour" (St. Julian the good harbourer).'—Tyrwhitt. His day is Jan. 9. See the Lives of Saints, ed. Horstmann (E. E. T. S.); also Gesta Romanorum, ed. Swan, tale 18; Mrs. Jameson, Sacred and Leg. Art, ii. 393.
Critical Apparatus
341. Cm. Ln. alwey;
Critical Apparatus
Hl. alway; E. Hn. Cp. alweys.
Editor’s Note
341. after oon, according to one invariable standard; 'up to the mark'; cf. A. 1781, and the note. A description of a Franklin's feast is given in the Babees Book, ed. Furnivall, p. 170.
Critical Apparatus
342. Hl. Pt. nowher;
Critical Apparatus
Cm. nower: rest neuere; cf. l. 360.
Editor’s Note
342. envyned, stored with wine. 'Cotgrave has preserved the French word enviné in the same sense.'—Tyrwhitt.
Editor’s Note
343. bake mete = baked meat; the old past participle of bake was baken or bake, as it was a strong verb. Baked meats = meats baked in coffins (pies). Cf. Hamlet, i. 2. 180.
Editor’s Note
344. plentevous, plenteous, plentiful; O. F. plentivous, formed by adding -ous to O. F. pleintif, adj. abundant; see Godefroy's O. F. Dict.
Editor’s Note
345. The verb snewed may be explained as a metaphor from snowing; in fact, the M. E. snewe, like the Prov. Eng. snie or snive, also signifies to abound, swarm. Camb. MS. reads 'It snowede in his mouth of mete and drynk.' Cf. 'He was with yiftes [presents] all bisnewed'; Gower, C. A. iii. 51. From A. S. snīwan.
Editor’s Note
347. After, according to; it depended on what was in season.
Editor’s Note
348. soper (supee·r), supper; from O. F. infin. soper; cf. F. 1189.
Critical Apparatus
349, 350. E. Hn. muwe, stuwe.
Editor’s Note
349. mewe. The mewe was the place where the hawks were kept while moulting; it was afterwards applied to the coop wherein fowl were fattened, and lastly to a place of confinement or secrecy.
Editor’s Note
350. stewe, fish-pond. 'To insure a supply of fish, stew-ponds were attached to the manors, and few monasteries were without them; the moat around the castle was often converted into a fishpond, and well stored with luce, carp, or tench.'—Our English Home, p. 65.
Editor’s Note
breem, bream; luce, pike, from O. F. luce, Low Lat. lucius.
Editor’s Note
351. Wo was his cook, woeful or sad was his cook. We now only use wo or woe as a substantive. Cf. B. 757, E. 753; and 'I am woe for 't'; Tempest, v. 1. 139.
'Who was woo but Olyvere then?'—Sowdone of Babyloyne, l. 1271. Rob. of Brunne, in his Handlyng Synne, l. 7250, says that a rich man's cook 'may no day Greythe hym hys mete to pay.'
Editor’s Note
but-if, unless.
Editor’s Note
351, 352. saucePoynaunt is like the modern phrase sauce piquante. Cf. B. 4024. 'Our forefathers were great lovers of "piquant sauce." They made it of expensive condiments and rare spices.'—Our English Home, p. 62.
Editor’s Note
353. table dormant, irremoveable table. 'Previous to the fourteenth century a pair of common wooden trestles and a rough plank was deemed a table sufficient for the great hall. . . . Tables, with a board attached to a frame, were introduced about the time of Chaucer, and, from remaining in the hall, were regarded as indications of a ready hospitality.'—Our English Home, p. 29. Most tables were removeable; such a table was called a bord (board).
Editor’s Note
355. sessiouns. At the Sessions of the Peace, at the meeting of the Justices of the Peace. Cf. 'At Sessions and at Sises we bare the stroke and swaye.'—Higgins' Mirrour for Magistrates, ed. 1571, p. 2.
Editor’s Note
356. knight of the shire, the designation given to the representative in parliament of an English county at large, as distinguished from the representatives of such counties and towns as are counties of themselves (Ogilvie). Chaucer was knight of the shire of Kent in 1386.
Editor’s Note
tym-e here represents the A. S. tīman, pl. of tīma, a time.
Critical Apparatus
357. E. Hn. anlaas; Hl. Cm. anlas.
Editor’s Note
357. anlas or anelace. Speght defines this word as a falchion, or wood-knife. It was, however, a short two-edged knife or dagger usually worn at the girdle, broad at the hilt and tapering to a point. See the New Eng. Dictionary; Liber Albus, p. 75; Knight, Pict. Hist. of England, i. 872; Gloss. to Matthew Paris, s. v. anelacius; Riley's Memorials of London, p. 15. The etymology is unknown; I guess it to be from M. E. an, on, and las, a lace, i.e. 'on a lace,' a dagger that hung from a lace attached to the girdle. Cf. A. S. bigyrdel (just below); and 'hanging on a laas' in l. 392.
Editor’s Note
gipser was properly a pouch or budget used in hawking, &c., but commonly worn by the merchant, or with any secular attire.—(Way.) It answers to F. gibecière, a pouch; from O. F. gibe, a bunch (Scheler). In Riley's Memorials of London, p. 398, under the date 1376, there is a mention of 'purses called gibesers.' In the Bury Wills, p. 37, l. 16, under the date 1463, we find—'My best gypcer with iij. bagges.' The A. S. name was bigyrdel, from its hanging by the girdle, as said in l. 358; it occurs in the A.S. version of Matt. x. 9; and in P. Plowman, B. viii. 87.
Critical Apparatus
358. E. Hn. heeng.
Editor’s Note
358. Heng (or Heeng), the past tense of hongen or hangen, to hang. morne milk=morning-milk; as in A. 3236. 'As white as milke'; Ritson's Met. Romances, iii. 292.
Critical Apparatus
359. E. Hn. Cm. om. a.
Editor’s Note
359. shirreve, the reve of a shire, governor of a county; our modern word sheriff.
Editor’s Note
countour, O. Fr. comptour, an accountant, a person who audited accounts or received money in charge, &c.; ranked with pleaders in Riley's Memorials of London, p. 58. It occurs in Rob. of Gloucester, l. 11153. In the Book of the Duch. 435, it simply means 'accountant.' Perhaps it here means 'auditor.' 'Or stewards, countours, or pleadours'; Plowman's Tale, pt. iii. st. 13.
Editor’s Note
360. vavasour, or vavaser, originally a sub-vassal or tenant of a vassal or tenant of the king's, one who held his lands in fealty. 'Vavasor, one that in dignities is next to a Baron'; Cowel. Strutt (Manners and Customs, iii. 14) explains that a vavasour was 'a tenant by knight's service, who did not hold immediately of the king in capite, but of some mesne lord, which excluded him from the dignity of baron by tenure.' Tyrwhitt says 'it should be understood to mean the whole class of middling landholders.' See Lacroix, Military Life of Middle Ages, p. 9. Spelt favasour in King Alisaunder, ed. Weber, l. 3827. A. F. uauassur; Laws of Will. I. c. 20. Lit. 'vassal of vassals'; Low Lat. vassus vassorum.
Editor’s Note
361. Haberdassher. Haberdashers were of two kinds: haberdashers of small wares—sellers of needles, tapes, buttons, &c.; and haberdashers of hats. The stuff called hapertas is mentioned in the Liber Albus, p. 225.
Editor’s Note
362. Webbe, properly a male weaver; webstere was the female weaver, but there appears to have been some confusion in the use of the suffixes -e and -stere; see Piers Plowman, ed. Skeat, B. v. 215: 'mi wyf was a webbe.' Hence the names Webb and Webster. Cf. A. S. webba, m., a weaver; webbestere, fem. tapicer, upholsterer; F. tapis, carpet.
Critical Apparatus
363. So Hl.; rest And they were clothed alle.
Editor’s Note
363. liveree, livery. 'Under the term "livery" was included whatever was dispensed (delivered) by the lord to his officials or domestics annually or at certain seasons, whether money, victuals, or garments. The term chiefly denoted external marks of distinction, such as the roba estivalis and hiemalis, given to the officers and retainers of the court. . . . The Stat. 7 Hen. IV expressly permits the adoption of such distinctive dress by fraternities and "les gentz de mestere," the trades of the cities of the realm, being ordained with good intent; and to this prevalent usage Chaucer alludes when he describes five artificers of various callings, who joined the pilgrimage, clothed all in o lyveré of a solempne and greet fraternité.'—Way, note to Prompt. Parv., p. 308. We still speak of the Livery Companies.
And they were clothed alle (Elles., &c.); Weren with vss eeke clothed (Harl.) The former reading leaves the former clause of the sentence without a verb.
Critical Apparatus
364. All but Hl. and a.
Editor’s Note
364. fraternitee, guild: see English Gilds, ed. Toulmin Smith, pp. xxx, xxxix, cxxii. Each guild had its own livery; Rock, Church of our Fathers, ii. 412.
Editor’s Note
365. gere, gear, apparel, apyked, signifies cleaned, trimmed, like Shakespeare's picked. Cotgrave gives as senses of F. piquer, 'To quilt,' and 'to stiffen a coller.'
Critical Apparatus
366. Hl. I-chapud; Cm. chapid; rest chaped.
Editor’s Note
366. y-chaped, having chapes (i.e. plates or caps of metal at the point of the sheath or scabbard). Tradesmen and mechanics were prohibited from using knives adorned with silver, gold, or precious stones. So that Chaucer's pilgrims were of a superior estate, as is indicated in l. 369. Cf. chapeless, Taming of the Shrew, iii. 2. 48.
Critical Apparatus
370. E. yeldehalle.
Editor’s Note
370. deys, dese, or dais (Fr. deis, from Lat. discum, acc.), is used to denote the raised platform which was always found at the upper end of a hall, on which the high table was placed; originally, it meant the high table itself. In modern French and English, it is used of a canopy or 'tester' over a seat of state. Tyrwhitt's account of the word is confused, as he starts with a false etymology.
Editor’s Note
yeld-halle, guild-hall. See Gildhall in the Index to E. Gilds, ed. Toulmin Smith.
Editor’s Note
371. that he can, that he knows; so also as he couthe, as he knew how, in l. 390. This line is deficient in the first foot.
Editor’s Note
372. shaply, adapted, fit; sometimes comely, of good shape. The mention of alderman should be noted. It was the invariable title given to one who was chosen as the head or principal of a guild (see English Gilds, ed. Toulmin Smith, pp. ciii, 36, 148, 276, 446). All these men belonged to a fraternity or guild, and each of them was a fit man to be chosen as head of it.
Editor’s Note
373. 'For they had sufficient property and income' (to entitle them to undertake such an office).
Critical Apparatus
376. E. Hn. ycleped; Hl. clept; rest cleped, clepid.
Editor’s Note
376. y-clept, called; pp. of clepen; see l. 121.
Editor’s Note
377. And goon to vigilyes al bifore. 'It was the manner in times past, upon festival evens, called vigiliœ, for parishioners to meet in their church-houses or church-yards, and there to have a drinking-fit for the time. Here they used to end many quarrels betwixt neighbour and neighbour. Hither came the wives in comely manner, and they which were of the better sort had their mantles carried with them, as well for show as to keep them from cold at table.'—Speght, Gl. to Chaucer.
Editor’s Note
379. for the nonesfor the nonce; this expression, if grammatically written, would be for then once, M. E. for þan anes, for the once, i. e. for the occasion; where the adv. anes (orig. a gen. form) is used as if it were a sb. in the dat. case. Cf. M.E. atte=atten, A. S. œt þām.
Critical Apparatus
380. Hl. om. 1st the.
Editor’s Note
381. poudre-marchaunt tart is a sharp (tart) kind of flavouring powder, twice mentioned in Household Ordinances and Receipts (Soc. Antiq. 1790) at pp. 425, 434: 'Do therto pouder marchant,' and 'do thi flessh therto, and gode herbes and poudre marchaunt, and let hit well stew.'—Notes and Queries, Fourth Series, iii. 180. See Powder in the Glossary to the Babees Book.
Editor’s Note
'Galingale, which Chaucer, pre-eminentest, economioniseth above all junquetries or confectionaries whatsoever.'—-Nash's Lenten Stuff, p. 36, ed. Hindley. Galingale is the root of sweet cyperus. Harman (ed. Strother) notices three varieties: Cyperus rotundus, Galanga major, Galanga minor; Babees Book, ed. Furnivall, pp. 152, 216. See also Marco Polo, ed. Yule, ii. 181; Prompt. Parv., p. 185, note 4; Rogers, Hist. of Agriculture and Prices, i. 629; &c. And see Dr. H. Fletcher Hance's and Mr. Daniel Hanbury's Papers on this spice in the Linnæan Society's Journal, 1871.
Editor’s Note
382. London ale. London ale was famous as early as the time of Henry III., and much higher priced than any other ale; cf. A. 3140.
Editor’s Note
Wel coude he knowe, he well knew how to distinguish. In fact, we find, in the Manciple's Prologue (H. 57), that the Cook loved good ale only too well.
Critical Apparatus
383. E. Hl. boille; Cm. boyle; rest broille, broile.
Editor’s Note
384. mortreux or mortrewes. There were two kinds of 'mortrews,' 'mortrewes de chare' and 'mortrewes of fysshe.' The first was a kind of soup in which chickens, fresh pork, crumbs of bread, yolks of eggs, and saffron formed the chief ingredients; the second kind was a soup containing the roe (or milt) and liver of fish, bread, pepper, ale. The ingredients were first stamped or brayed in a mortar, whence it probably derived its name. Lord Bacon (Nat. Hist. i. 48) speaks of 'a mortresse made with the brawne of capons stamped and strained.' See Babees Book, pp. 151, 170, 172; Liber Cure Cocorum, ed. Morris, pp. 9, 19; and the note to P. Plowman, C. xvi. 47. This line, like ll. 371 and 391, is deficient in the first foot.
Editor’s Note
386. mormal, a cancer or gangrene. Ben Jonson, in imitation of this passage, has described a cook with an 'old mortmal on his shin'; Sad Shepherd, act ii. sc. 2. Lydgate speaks of 'Goutes, mormalles, horrible to the sight'; Falls of Princes, bk. vii. c. 10. In Polit. Religious and Love Poems, ed. Furnivall, p. 218, we are told that the sin of Luxury 'ys a lyther mormale.' In Skelton's Magnificence, l. 1932, Adversity is made to say—'Some with the marmoll to halte I them make'; and it is remarkable that Palsgrave gives both—'Mormall, a sore,' and 'Marmoll, a sore'; the latter being plainly a corrupt form. See also Prompt. Parvulorum, p. 343, note 5. In MS. Oo. i. 20, last leaf, in the Camb. Univ. Library, are notices of remedies 'Por la maladie que est apele malum mortuum.' The MS. says that it comes from melancholy, and shows a broad hard scurf or crust.
Editor’s Note
387. blank-manger, a compound made of capon minced, with rice, milk, sugar, and almonds; see Liber Cure Cocorum, ed. Morris, p. 9. Named from its white colour.
Editor’s Note
See the essay on Chaucer's Shipman in Essays on Chaucer, p. 455.
Editor’s Note
A. 387. With the beste, 'as well as possible,' but originally 'among the best.' So in Zupitza, notes to Guy of Warwick, l. 1496. He quotes Mätzner's Grammatik, II. 2. 434; King Horn, 1326, knight with the beste; &c. Cf. with the furste, King Horn, 1119.
Critical Apparatus
388. E. wonynge; Hn. wonyng.
Editor’s Note
388. woning, dwelling; from A. S. wunian, to dwell.
Editor’s Note
by weste=westward. A good old expression, which was once very common as late as the sixteenth century.
Editor’s Note
389. Dartmouth was once a very considerable port; see Essays on Chaucer, p. 456. Compare the account of the Shipman's Gild at Lynn; E. Gilds, p. 54.
Editor’s Note
390. rouncy, a common hackney horse, a nag. Cf. Rozinante. 'Rocinante—significativo de lo que habia sido cuando fué rocin, antes de lo que ahora era.' Don Quijote, cap. 1. 'From Rozin, a drudge-horse, and ante, before.' Jarvis's note. The O. F. form is roncin; Low Lat. runcinus. The rouncy was chiefly used for agricultural work; see Essays on Chaucer, p. 494.
Editor’s Note
as he couthe, as he knew how; but, as a sailor, his knowledge this way was deficient.
Editor’s Note
391. a goune of jalding, a gown (robe) of coarse cloth. The term falding signifies 'a kind of frieze or rough-napped cloth,' which was probably 'supplied from the North of Europe, and identical with the woollen wrappers of which Hermoldus speaks, "quos nos appellamus Faldones. "'—Way. 'Falding was a coarse serge cloth, very rough and durable,' &c.; Essays on Chaucer, p. 438. In MS. O. 5. 4, in Trinity College, Cambridge, occurs the entry—'Amphibulus, vestis equi villosa, anglice a sclauayn or faldyng'; cited in Furnivall's Temporary Preface, p. 99. In 1392, I find a mention of 'unam tunicam de nigro faldyng lineatam'; Testamenta Eboracensia, i. 173. Hence its colour was sometimes black, and the Shipman's gown is so coloured in the drawing in the Ellesmere MS.; but see A. 3212. See the whole of Way's long note in the Prompt. Parvulorum.
Editor’s Note
392. laas, lace, cord. Seamen still carry their knives slung.
Editor’s Note
394. the hote somer. 'Perhaps this is a reference to the summer of the year 1351, which was long remembered as the dry and hot summer.'—Wright. There was another such summer in 1370, much nearer the date of this Prologue. But it may be a mere general expression.
Editor’s Note
395. a good felawe, a merry companion; as in l. 648.
Critical Apparatus
396. Cm. I-drawe; rest drawe.
Editor’s Note
396–8. 'Very many a draught of wine had he drawn (stolen away or carried off) from Bordeaux, cask and all, while the chapman (merchant or supercargo to whom the wine belonged) was asleep; for he paid no regard to any conscientious scruples.'
Editor’s Note
took keep; cf. F. prendre garde.
Editor’s Note
399. hyer hond, upper hand.
Editor’s Note
400. 'He sent them home to wherever they came from by water, ' i. e. he made them 'walk the plank,' as it used to be called; or, in plain English, threw them overboard, to sink or swim. However cruel this may seem now, it was probably a common practice. 'This battle (the sea-fight off Sluys) was very murderous and horrible. Combats at sea are more destructive and obstinate than upon land'; Froissart's Chron. bk. i. c. 50. See Minot's Poems, ed. Hall, p. 16. In Wright's History of Caricature, p. 204, is an anecdote of the way in which the defeat of the French at Sluys was at last revealed to the king of France, Philippe VI., by the court-jester, who alone dared to communicate the news. 'Entering the King's chamber, he continued muttering to himself, but loud enough to be heard—"Those cowardly English! the chicken-hearted English!" "How so, cousin?" the king inquired. "Why," replied the fool, "because they have not courage enough to jump into the sea, like your French soldiers, who went over headlong from their ships, leaving them to the enemy, who had no inclination to follow them." Philippe thus became aware of the full extent of his calamity.' And see Essays on Chaucer, p. 460.
Editor’s Note
402. stremes, currents, him bisydes, ever near at hand.
Editor’s Note
403. herberwe, harbour; see note to l. 765. mone, moon, time of the lunation.
Editor’s Note
lodemenage, pilotage. A pilot was called a lodesman; see Way's note in Prompt. Parv. p. 310; Riley's Memorials of London, p. 655; Chaucer's Legend of Good Women, 1488. Furnivall's Temporary Preface, p. 98, gives the Lat. form as lodmannus, whence lodmannagium, pilotage, examples of which are given. Sometimes, lodesman meant any guide or conductor, as in Rob. of Brunne, Handlyng Synne, 9027; Monk of Evesham, ed. Arber, p. 106. M. E. lode is the A. S. lād, a way, a course, the sb. whence the verb to lead is derived. It is itself derived from A. S. līðan, to travel.
Editor’s Note
404. Cf. Rom. de la Rose, 5394—'Qui cercheroit jusqu'en Cartage.'
Critical Apparatus
407. Hl. ins. wel; rest om.
Editor’s Note
408. Gootland, Gottland, an island in the Baltic Sea.
Editor’s Note
409. cryke, creek, harbour, port.
Editor’s Note
410. We find actual mention of a vessel called the Maudelayne belonging to the port of Dartmouth, in the years 1379 and 1386; see Essays on Chaucer, p. 484. See also N. & Q. 6 S. xii. 47.
Critical Apparatus
415. Hl. wondurly wel; rest a ful greet deel (del).
Editor’s Note
415. astronomye, (really) astrology. See Saunders on Chaucer, p. 111; Warton, Hist. E. Poet. (1840), ii. 202.
Editor’s Note
415, 416. kepte, watched. The houres are the astrological hours. He carefully watched for a favourable star in the ascendant. 'A great portion of the medical science of the middle ages depended upon astrological and other superstitious observances.'—Wright. 'A Phisition must take heede and aduise him of a certaine thing, that fayleth not, nor deceiueth, the which thing Astronomers of Ægypt taught, that by coniunction of the bodye of the Moone with sterres fortunate, commeth dreadful sicknesse to good end: and with contrary Planets falleth the contrary, that is, to euill ende'; &c.—Batman upon Bartholomè, lib. viii. c. 29. Precisely the same sort of thing was in vogue much later, viz. in 1578; see Bullein's Dialogue against the Feuer Pestilence (E. E. T. S.), p. 32.
Critical Apparatus
416. E. Hn. natureel.
Editor’s Note
416. magik naturel. Chaucer alludes to the same practices in the House of Fame, 1259–70 (vol. iii. p. 38):—
  • 'Ther saugh I pleyen Iogelours
  •      .       .       .       .       .       .
  • 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
  • To make a man ben hool or syk.'
Editor’s Note
417. The ascendent is the point of the zodiacal circle which happens to be ascending above the horizon at a given moment, such as the moment of birth. Upon it depended the drawing out of a man's horoscope, which represented the aspect of the heavens at some given critical moment. The moment, in the present case, is that for making images. It was believed that images of men and animals could be made of certain substances and at certain times, and could be so treated as to cause good or evil to a patient, by means of magical and planetary influences. See Cornelius Agrippa, De Occulta Philosophia, lib. ii. capp. 35–47. The sense is—'He knew well how to choose a fortunate ascendant for treating images, to be used as charms to help the patient.'
  • 'With Astrologie joyne elements also,
  • To fortune their Workings as theie go.'

Norton's Ordinall, in Ashmole's Theatrum Chemicum, p. 60.

Critical Apparatus
418. E. Hn. hise; Cm. hese.
Editor’s Note
420. These are the four elementary qualities, hot, cold, dry, moist; Milton, Par. Lost, ii. 898. Diseases were supposed to be caused by an undue excess of some one quality; and the mixture of prevalent qualities in a man's body determined his complexion or temperament. Thus the sanguine man was thought to be hot and moist; the phlegmatic, cold and moist; the choleric, hot and dry; the melancholy, cold and dry. The whole system rested on the teaching of Galen, and was fundamentally wrong, as it assumed that the 'elements,' or 'simple bodies,' were four, viz. earth, air, fire, and water. Of these, earth was said to be cold and dry; water, cold and moist; air, hot and moist; and fire, hot and dry. They thus correspond to the four complexions, viz. melancholy, phlegmatic, sanguine, and choleric. Each principal part of the body, as the brain, heart, liver, stomach, &c., could be 'distempered,' and such distemperance could be either 'simple' or 'compound.' Thus a simple distemperature of the brain might be 'an excess of heat'; a compound one, 'an excess of heat and moisture.' See the whole system explained in Sir Thos. Elyot's Castel of Helthe; at the beginning.
Critical Apparatus
421. E. Cm. Hl. where they; Hn. where it.
Editor’s Note
422. parfit practisour, perfect practitioner.
Critical Apparatus
424. Cm. Ln. seke; rest sike.
Editor’s Note
424. his bote, his remedy; A. S. bōt, a remedy; E. boot.
Critical Apparatus
425. E. hise.
Critical Apparatus
426. E. Hn. Cm. drogges; Cp. Pt. Ln. drugges; Hl. dragges.
Editor’s Note
426. drogges. MS. Harl. dragges; the rest drogges, drugges, drugs. As to dragges (which is quite a different word), the Promptorium Parvulorum has 'dragge, dragetum'; and Cotgrave defines dragée (the French form of the word dragge) as 'a kind of digestive powder prescribed unto weak stomachs after meat, and hence any jonkets, comfits, or sweetmeats served in the last course for stomach-closers.'
Editor’s Note
letuaries, electuaries. 'Letuaire, laituarie, s. m., électuaire, sorte de médicament, sirop'; Godefroy.
Editor’s Note
429–34. Read th'oldë. 'The authors mentioned here wrote the chief medical text-books of the middle ages. Rufus was a Greek physician of Ephesus, of the age of Trajan; Haly, Serapion, and Avicen (Ebn Sina) were Arabian physicians and astronomers of the eleventh century; Rhasis was a Spanish Arab of the tenth century; and Averroes (Ebn Roschd) was a Moorish scholar who flourished in Morocco in the twelfth century. Johannes Damascenus was also an Arabian physician, but of a much earlier date (probably of the ninth century). Constanti[n]us Afer, a native of Carthage, and afterwards a monk of Monte Cassino, was one of the founders of the school of Salerno—he lived at the end of the eleventh century. Bernardus Gordonius, professor of medicine at Montpellier, appears to have been Chaucer's contemporary. John Gatisden was a distinguished physician of Oxford in the earlier half of the fourteenth century. Gilbertyn is supposed by Warton to be the celebrated Gilbertus Anglicus. The names of Hippocrates and Galen were, in the middle ages, always (or nearly always) spelt Ypocras and Galienus.'—Wright. Cf. C. 306. Æsculapius, god of medicine, was fabled to be the son of Apollo. Dioscorides was a Greek physician of the second century. See the long note in Warton, 1871, ii. 368; and the account in Saunders' Chaucer (1889), p. 115. I may note here, that Haly wrote a commentary on Galen, and is mentioned in Skelton's Philip Sparowe, l. 505. There were three Serapions; the one here meant was probably John Serapion, in the eleventh century. Averroes wrote a commentary on the works of Aristotle, and died about 1198. Constantinus is the same as 'the cursed monk Dan Constantyn,' mentioned in the Marchaunt's Tale, E. 1810. John Gatisden was a fellow of Merton College, and 'was court-doctor under Edw. II. He wrote a treatise on medicine called Rosa Anglica'; J. Jusserand, Eng. Wayfaring Life, (1889), p. 180. Cf. Book of the Duchess, 572. Dante, Inf. iv. 143, mentions 'Ippocrate, Avicenna, e Gallieno, Averrois,' &c.
  • 'Par Hipocras, ne Galien, . . .
  • Rasis, Constantin, Avicenne';

Rom. de la Rose, 16161.

See Lounsbury, Studies in Chaucer, ii. 393.
Critical Apparatus
430. Pt. Rufus; Cm. Rufijs; Hn. Cp. Ln. Hl. Rusus; E. Risus.
Critical Apparatus
431. Hl. Pt. Old; rest Olde.
Editor’s Note
439. 'In cloth of a blood-red colour and of a blueish-grey.' Cf. 'robes de pers,' Rom. de la Rose, 9116. In the Testament of Creseide, ed. 1550, st. 36, we find:—
  • 'Docter in phisike cledde in a scarlet gown,
  • And furred wel as suche one oughte to be.'
Cf. P. Plowman, B. vi. 271; Hoccleve, de Reg. Princ. p. 26.
Editor’s Note
440. taffata (or taffety), a sort of thin silk; E. taffeta.
Editor’s Note
sendal (or cendal), a kind of rich thin silk used for lining, very highly esteemed. Thynne says—'a thynne stuffe lyke sarcenett.' Palsgrave however has 'cendell, thynne lynnen, sendal.' See Piers Plowman, B. vi. 11; Marco Polo, ed. Yule (see the index).
Editor’s Note
441. esy of dispence, moderate in his expenditure.
Editor’s Note
442. wan in pestilence, acquired during the pestilence. This is an allusion to the great pestilence of the years 1348, 1349; or to the later pestilences in 1362, 1369, and 1376.
Editor’s Note
443. For=because, seeing that. It was supposed that aurum potabile was a sovereign remedy in some cases. The actual reference is, probably, to Les Remonstrances de Nature, by Jean de Meun, ll. 979, 980, &c.; 'C'est le fin et bon or potable, L'humide radical notable; C'est souveraine medecine'; and the author goes on to refer us to Ecclus. xxxviii. 4—'The Lord hath created medicines out of the earth; and he that is wise will not abhor them.' Hence the Doctor would not abhor gold. And further—'C'est medecine cordiale'; ib. 1029. To return to aurum potabile: I may observe that it is mentioned in the play called Humour out of Breath, Act i. sc. 1; and there is a footnote to the effect that this was the 'Universal Medicine of the alchemists, prepared from gold, mercury, &c. The full receipt will be found in the Fifth and last Part of the Last Testament of Friar Basilius Valentinus, London, 1670, pp. 371–7.' See also Thomson's Hist. of Chemistry, vol. i. p. 164; Burton's Anat. of Melancholy, pt. 2. sec. 4. mem. 1. subsec. 4.
Editor’s Note
445. of bisyde, &c., from (a place) near Bath, i. e. from a place in its suburbs; for elsewhere she is simply called the Wyf of Bathe.
Editor’s Note
446. 'But she was somewhat deaf, and that was her misfortune.' We should now say—'and it was a pity.'
Editor’s Note
447. clooth-making. 'The West of England, and especially the neighbourhood of Bath, from which the "good wif" came, was celebrated, till a comparatively recent period, as the district of cloth-making. Ypres and Ghent were the great clothing-marts on the Continent.'—Wright. 'Edward the third brought clothing first into this Island, transporting some families of artificers from Gaunt hither.'—Burton's Anat. of Mel. p. 51. 'Cloth of Gaunt' is mentioned in the Romaunt of the Rose, l. 574 (vol. i. p. 117).
Editor’s Note
haunt, use, practice; i. e. she was so well skilled (in it).
Editor’s Note
448. passed, i. e. surpassed.
Editor’s Note
450. to the offring. In the description of the missal-rites, Rock shews how the bishop (or officiating priest) 'took from the people's selves their offerings of bread and wine. . . The men first and then the women, came with their cake and cruse of wine.' So that, instead of money being collected, as now, the people went up in order with their offerings; and questions of precedence of course arose. The Wife insisted on going up first among the women. See Rock, Church of our Fathers, iii. 2. 33, 149.
Critical Apparatus
452. Hl. was thanne out.
Critical Apparatus
453, 455. E. weren.
Editor’s Note
453. coverchief (keverchef, or kerchere, kerché). The kerchief, or covering for the head, was, until the fourteenth century, almost an indispensable portion of female attire. See B. 837; Leg. of Good Women, l. 2202.
Editor’s Note
ful fyne of ground, of a very fine texture. See Pierce the Ploughman's Crede, l. 230, which means 'it was of fine enough texture to take dye in grain.'
Editor’s Note
454. ten pound. Of course this is a playful exaggeration; but Tyrwhitt was not justified in altering ten pound into a pound; for a pound-weight, in a head-dress of that period, was a mere nothing, as will be readily understood by observing the huge structures represented in Fairholt's Costume, figs. 125, 129, 130, 151, which were often further weighted with ornaments of gold. Skelton goes so far as to describe Elinour Rummyng (l. 72) —
  • 'With clothes upon her hed
  • That wey a sowe of led.'
Cf. Pierce the Ploughman's Crede, l. 84, and the note; Stubbes, Anatomy of Abuses, 1585, pp. 63, 70, 72; or ed. Furnivall, pp. 69, 74, 76.
Critical Apparatus
457. Cp. Hl. schoos; E. Pt. Ln. shoes.
Editor’s Note
457. streite y-teyd, tightly fastened. See note to l. 174.
Editor’s Note
moiste, soft—not 'as hard as old boots.' So, in H. 60, moysty ale is new ale.
Critical Apparatus
458. E. Hn. Boold.
Editor’s Note
460. chirche-dore. The priest married the couple at the church-porch, and immediately afterwards proceeded to the altar to celebrate mass, at which the newly-married persons communicated. As Todd remarks—'The custom was, that the parties did not enter the church till that part of the office, where the minister now goes up to the altar [or rather, is directed to go up], and repeats the psalm.' See Warton, Hist. Eng. Poet. 1871, ii. 366, note 1; Anglia, vi. 106; Rock, Church of our Fathers, iii. pt. 2. 172; Brand's Antiquities, ed. Ellis, ii. 134. And see D. 6.
Editor’s Note
461. Withouten = besides. other companye, other lovers. This expression (copied from Le Rom. de la Rose, l. 12985—'autre companie') makes it quite certain that the character of the Wife of Bath is copied, in some respects, from that of La Vieille in the Roman de la Rose, as further appears in the Wife's Prologue.
Editor’s Note
462. as nouthe, as now, i. e. at present. The form nouthe is not uncommon; it occurs in P. Plowman, Allit. Poems, Sir Gawain and the Grene Knight, &c. A. S. nū ðā, now then.
Critical Apparatus
463. Ln. had.
Editor’s Note
465. Boloigne. Cf. 'I will have you swear by our dear Lady of Boulogne'; Gammer Gurton's Needle, Aet 2, sc. 2. An image of the virgin, at Boulogne, was sought by pilgrims. See Heylin's Survey of France, p. 163, ed. 1656 (quoted in the above, ed. Hazlitt).
Editor’s Note
466. In Galice (Galicia), at the shrine of St. James of Compostella, a famous resort of pilgrims in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. As the legend goes, the body of St. James the Apostle was supposed to have been carried in a ship without a rudder to Galicia, and preserved at Compostella. See Piers Plowman, A. iv. 106, 110, and note to B. Prol. 47; also Eng. Gilds, ed. Toulmin Smith, pp. 172, 177.
Editor’s Note
Coloigne. At Cologne, where the bones of the Three Kings or Wise Men of the East, Gaspar, Melchior and Balthazar, are said to be preserved. See Coryat's Crudities; Chambers, Book of Days, ii. 751.
Critical Apparatus
467. Ln. muche; Hl. Pt. Cp. moche; E. Hn. muchel.
Editor’s Note
467. 'She knew much about travelling.'
Editor’s Note
A. 467. She coude muche of wandring by the weye; i. e. she knew much which she had learnt through being so great a traveller.—J. Earle.
I have explained it above, p. 44, by—'She knew much about travelling.' The original will bear either interpretation; all depends upon the meaning of the word of.
Editor’s Note
P. 14. A 467. Perhaps the final full stop should be a colon.
Editor’s Note
468. Gat-tothed = gat-toothed, meaning gap-toothed, having teeth wide apart or separated from one another. A gat is an opening, and is allied to E. gate. The Friesic gat, Dan., Du., and Icel. gat, and Norweg. gat, all mean a hole, or a gap. Very similar is the use of the Shropshire glat, a gap in a hedge, also a gap in the mouth caused by loss of teeth. Example: 'Dick, yo' bin a flirt; I thought yo' wun (were) gwein to marry the cook at the paas'n's. Aye, but 'er'd gotten too many glats i' the mouth for me'; Miss Jackson's Shropshire Wordbook. 'Famine—the gap-toothed elf'; Golding's Ovid, b. 8; leaf 105. It occurs again, D. 603. [Gat-toothed has also been explained as goat-toothed, lascivious, but the word goat appears as goot in Chaucer.] Perhaps the following piece of 'folk-lore' will help us out. 'A young lady the other day, in reply to an observation of mine—"What a lucky girl you are!"—replied; "So they used to say I should be when at school." "Why?" "Because my teeth were set so far apart; it was a sure sign I should be lucky and travel."'—Notes & Queries 1 Ser. vi. 601; cf. the same, 7 Ser. vii. 306. The last quotation shews that the stop after weye at the end of l. 467 should be a mere semicolon; since ll. 467 and 468 are closely connected.
Editor’s Note
469. amblere, an ambling horse.
Editor’s Note
470. Y-wimpled, covered with a wimple; see l. 151.
Editor’s Note
471. targe, target, shield.
Editor’s Note
472. foot-mantel. Tyrwhitt supposes this to be a sort of riding-petticoat, such as is now used by market-women. It is clearly shewn, as a blue outer skirt, in the drawing in the Ellesmere MS. At a later time it was called a safe-guard (see Nares), and its use was to keep the gown clean. It may be added that, in the Ellesmere MS., the Wife is represented as riding astride. Hence she wanted 'a pair of spurs.'
Critical Apparatus
474. E. Hn. felaweschip.
Editor’s Note
474. carpe, prate, discourse; Icel. karpa, to brag. The present sense of carp seems to be due to Lat. carpere.
Editor’s Note
475. remedyes. An allusion to the title and subject of Ovid's book, Remedia Amoris.
Critical Apparatus
476. Hl. For of that art sche knew.
Editor’s Note
476. the olde daunce, the old game, or custom. The phrase is borrowed from Le Roman de la Rose, l. 3946—'Qu'el scet toute la vielle dance'; E. version, l. 4300—'For she knew al the olde daunce.' It occurs again; Troil. iii. 695. And in Troil. ii. 1106, we have the phrase loves daunce. Cf. the amorouse daunce, Troil. iv. 1431.
Editor’s Note
478. Persoun of a toun, the parson or parish priest. Chaucer, in his description of the parson, contrasts the piety and industry of the secular clergy with the wickedness and laziness of the religious orders or monks. See Dryden's 'Character of a Good Parson,' and Goldsmith's 'Deserted Village'; also Wyclif, ed. Matthew, p. 179.
Editor’s Note
482. parisshens, parishioners; in which -er is a later suffix.
Critical Apparatus
485. Hl. I-proued; E. Cp. Pt. preued.
Editor’s Note
485. y-preved, proved (to be). ofte sythes, often-times; from A. S. sīð, a time.
Critical Apparatus
486. E. hise.
Editor’s Note
486. 'He was very loath to excommunicate those who failed to pay the tithes that were due to him.' 'Refusal to pay tithes was punishable with the lesser excommunication'; Bell. Wyclif complains of 'weiward curatis' that 'sclaundren here parischenys many weies by ensaumple of pride, enuye, coueitise and vnresonable vengaunce, so cruely cursynge for tithes'; Works, ed. Matthew, p. 144 (cf. p. 132).
Editor’s Note
487. yeven, give; A. S. gifan. out of doute, without doubt.
Editor’s Note
489. offring, the voluntary contributions of his parishioners.
Editor’s Note
substaunce, income derived from his benefice.
Critical Apparatus
490. Hl. Cm. Pt. han; E. Hn. Cp. Ln. haue.
Editor’s Note
490. suffisaunce, a sufficiency; enough to live on.
Editor’s Note
492. lafte not, left not, ceased not; from M. E. leven.
Critical Apparatus
493. E. siknesse.
Editor’s Note
493. meschief, mishap, misfortune.
Editor’s Note
494. ferreste, farthest; superl. of fer, far. muche, great, lyte, small; A. S. lyt, small, little.
Critical Apparatus
497. E. firste.
Critical Apparatus
E. ins. that (by mistake) before he.
Editor’s Note
497. wroghte, wrought, worked; pt. t. of werchen, to work.
Editor’s Note
498. The allusion is to Matt. v. 19, as shewn by a parallel passage in P. Plowman, C. xvi. 127.
Editor’s Note
502. lewed, unlearned, ignorant. Lewed or lewd originally signified the people, laity, as opposed to the clergy; the modern sense of the word is not common in Middle English. Cf. mod. E. lewd, in Acts xvii. 5. See Lewd in Trench, Select Glossary.
Critical Apparatus
503. Hl. alone ins. that after if.
Editor’s Note
503–4. if a preest tak-e keep, if a priest may (i. e. will) but pay heed to it. St. John Chrysostom also saith, 'It is a great shame for priests, when laymen be found faithfuller and more righteous than they.'—Becon's Invective against Swearing, p. 336.
Editor’s Note
P. 15. Footnote to A 503. For 'Hl. alone' read 'Tyrwhitt.'
Critical Apparatus
505. Hl. ȝiue; E. yeue.
Editor’s Note
507. to hyre. The parson did not leave his parish duties to be performed by a stranger, that he might have leisure to seek a chantry in St. Paul's. See Piers Plowman, B-text, Prol. l. 83; Hoccleve, De Regimine Principum, ed. Wright, pp. 51, 52; Spenser, Shep. Kalendar (May).
Editor’s Note
508. And leet, and left (not). We should now say—'Nor left.' So also, in l. 509, And ran = Nor ran. Leet is the pt. t. of leten, to let alone, let go.
Critical Apparatus
509. Hl. Cp. seynte.
Editor’s Note
509. Here again, së-ynt is used as if it were dissyllabic; see ll. 120, 697.
Critical Apparatus
510. Cp. Pt. Ln. Hl. chaunterie; E. Hn. chauntrie.
Editor’s Note
510. chaunterie, chantry; an endowment for the payment of a priest to sing mass, agreeably to the appointment of the founder. 'There were thirty-five of these chantries established at St. Paul's, which were served by fifty-four priests; Dugd. Hist. pref. p. 41.'—Tyrwhitt's Glossary. On the difference between a gild and a chantry, see the instructive remarks in Eng. Gilds, ed. Toulmin Smith, pp. 205–207, 259.
Editor’s Note
511. 'Or to be kept (i. e. remain) in retirement along with some fraternity.' I do not see how with-holde can mean 'maintained,' as it is usually explained. Cf. dwelte in l. 512, and with-holde in G. 345.
Critical Apparatus
512. E. dwelleth; rest dwelte.
Critical Apparatus
E. keepeth; Ln. keped; rest kepte.
Critical Apparatus
514. Hl. no; rest not a.
Editor’s Note
514. no mercenarie, no hireling; see John x. 12, where the Vulgate version has mercenarius.
Critical Apparatus
516. Hl. to senful man nought; rest nat to sinful man.
Editor’s Note
516. despitous, full of despite, or contempt; cf. E. spite.
Editor’s Note
517. daungerous, not affable, difficult to approach. Cf. Rom. of the Rose, l. 591:—'Ne of hir answer daungerous'; where the original has desdaigneuse. digne, full of dignity; hence, repellent. 'She was as digne as water in a dich,' A. 3964; because stagnant water keeps people at a distance.
Editor’s Note
519. fairnesse, i. e. by leading a fair or good life. The Harleian MS. has clennesse, that is, a life of purity.
Critical Apparatus
520. All but Hl. this was.
Critical Apparatus
522. Hn. lowe; E. lough.
Critical Apparatus
523. E. nonys.
Editor’s Note
523. snibben, reprimand; cf. Dan. snibbe, to rebuke, scold; mod. E. snub. In Wyclif's translation of Matt. xviii. 15, the earlier version has snybbe as a synonym for reprove.
Editor’s Note
nones; see l. 379, and the note.
Critical Apparatus
525. E. waiteth; rest waited.
Editor’s Note
525. wayted after, looked for. See line 571.
Editor’s Note
526. spyced conscience; so also in D. 435. Spiced here seems to signify, says Tyrwhitt, nice, scrupulous; for a reason which is given below. It occurs in the Mad Lover, act iii. sc. 1, by Beaumont and Fletcher. When Cleanthe offers a purse, the priestess says—
  • 'Fy! no corruption . . . .
  •     Cle. Take it, it is yours;
  • Be not so spiced; 'tis good gold;
  • And goodness is no gall to th' conscience.'
'Under pretence of spiced holinesse.'—Tract dated 1594, ap. Todd's Illustrations of Gower, p. 380.
  • 'Fool that I was, to offer such a bargain
  • To a spiced-conscience chapman! but I care not,
  • What he disdains to taste, others will swallow.'

Massinger, Emperor of the East, i. 1.

  •                          'Will you please to put off
  • Your holy habit, and spiced conscience? one,
  • I think, infects the other.'

Massinger, Bashful Lover, iv. 2.

The origin of the phrase is French. The name of espices (spices) was given to the fees or dues which were payable (in advance) to judges. A 'spiced' judge, who would have a 'spiced' conscience, was scrupulous and exact, because he had been prepaid, and was inaccessible to any but large bribes. See Cotgrave, s. v. espices; Littré, s. v. épice; and, in particular, Les Œuvres de Guillaume Coquillart, ed. P. Tarbé, t. i. p. 31, and t. ii. p. 114. (First explained by me in a letter to The Athenaeum, Nov. 26, 1892, p. 741.)
Critical Apparatus
527. E. hise.
Editor’s Note
527. 'But the teaching of Christ and his twelve apostles, that taught he.'
Critical Apparatus
528. Hl. and; rest but.
Editor’s Note
528. Cf. Acts, i. 1; Gower, Conf. Amant, ii. 188.
Editor’s Note
529. Plowman; not a hind or farm-labourer, but a poor farmer, who himself held the plough; cf. note to P. Plowman, C. viii. 182. was, who was.
Editor’s Note
530. y-lad, carried, lit. led. Cf. prov. E. lead, to cart (corn).
Editor’s Note
531. swinker, toiler, workman; see l. 186. Cf. swink, toil, in l. 540.
Critical Apparatus
534. E. Pt. Ln. he; rest him.
Editor’s Note
534. though him gamed or smerte, though it was pleasant or unpleasant to him.
Editor’s Note
536. dyke, make ditches, delve, dig; A. S. delfan. Chaucer may be referring to P. Plowman, B. v. 552, 553.
Critical Apparatus
537. for] Hn. Hl. with.
Critical Apparatus
539. Cp. Pt. payed; Cm. Hl. payede; E. Hn. payde.
Critical Apparatus
540. propre] Hl. owne.
Editor’s Note
541. mere. People of quality would not ride upon a mare.
Editor’s Note
545. carl, fellow; Icel. karl, cognate with A. S. ceorl, a churl. See A. 3469; also A. 1423–4. This description of the Miller should be compared with that in A. 3925–3940.
Editor’s Note
547. 'That well proved (to be true); for everywhere, where he came.'
Editor’s Note
548. the ram. This was the usual prize at wrestling-matches. Tyrwhitt says—'Matthew Paris mentions a wrestling match at Westminster, a.d. 1222, at which a ram was the prize.' Cf. Sir Topas, B. 1931; Tale of Gamelyn, 172, 280.
Editor’s Note
549. a thikke knarre, a thickly knotted (fellow), i. e. a muscular fellow. Cf. M. E. knor, Mid. Du. knorre, a knot in wood; and E. gnarled. It is worth notice that, in ll. 549–557, there is no word of French origin, except tuft.
Critical Apparatus
550. Cp. Hl. nolde; Hn. noolde; E. ne wolde.
Editor’s Note
550. of harre, off its hinges, lit. hinge. 'I horle at the notes, and heve hem al of herre'; Poem on Singing, in Reliq. Antiquae, ii. 292. Gower has out of herre, off its hinges, out of use, out of joint; Conf. Amant. bk. ii. ed. Pauli, i. 259; bk. iii. i. 318. Skelton has:—'All is out of harre,' Magnificence, l. 921. From A.S. heorr, a hinge.
Editor’s Note
553. Todd cites from Lilly's Midas—'How, sir, will you be trimmed? Will you have a beard like a spade or a bodkin?'—Illust. of Gower, p. 258.
Editor’s Note
554. cop, top; A. S. copp, a top; cf. G. Kopj.
Critical Apparatus
555. E. toft; Ln. tofte; rest tuft.
Critical Apparatus
556. Hn. bristles; E. brustles; Pt. brysteles; Hl. Cp. berstles.
Editor’s Note
557. nose-thirles, lit. nose-holes; mod. E. nostrils.
Critical Apparatus
558. All but Cp. and a.
Critical Apparatus
559. Hl. wyde; rest greet, gret.
Editor’s Note
559. forneys. 'Why, asks Mr. Earle, should Chaucer so readily fall on the simile of a furnace? What, in the uses of the time, made it come so ready to hand? The weald of Kent was then, like our "black country" now, a great smelting district, its wood answering to our coal; and Chaucer was Knight of the Shire, or M.P. for Kent.'—Temporary Preface to the Six-text edition of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, p. 99.
Editor’s Note
560. Ianglere, loud talker.
Editor’s Note
goliardeys, a ribald jester, one who gained his living by following rich men's tables, and telling tales and making sport for the guests. Tyrwhitt says, 'This jovial sect seems to have been so called from Golias, the real or assumed name of a man of wit, towards the end of the twelfth century, who wrote the Apocalypsis Goliæ, and other pieces in burlesque Latin rhymes, some which have been falsely [?] attributed to Walter Map.' But it would appear that Golias is the sole invention of Walter Map, the probable author of the 'Golias' poems. See Morley's Eng. Writers, 1888, iii. 167, where we read that the Apocalypse of Golias and the confession of Golias 'have by constant tradition been ascribed to him [Walter Map]; never to any other writer.' Golias is a medieval spelling of the Goliath of scripture, and occurs in Chaucer, Man of Lawes Tale, B. 934. In several authors of the thirteenth century, quoted by Du Cange, the goliardi are classed with the joculatores et buffones, and it is very likely that the word goliardus was, originally, quite independent of Golias, which was only connected with it by way of jest. The word goliardus seems rather to have meant, originally, 'glutton,' and to be connected with gula, the throat; but it was quite a common term, in the thirteenth century, for certain men of some education but of bad repute, who composed or recited satirical parodies and coarse verses and epigrams for the amusement of the rich. See T. Wright's Introduction to the poems of Walter Map (Camden Soc.); P. Plowman, ed. Skeat, note to B. prol. 139; Wright's History of Caricature, ch. x; and the account in Godefroy's O. French Dict., s. v. Goliard.
Editor’s Note
561. that, i. e. his 'Iangling,' his noisy talk.
Editor’s Note
harlotrye means scurrility; Wyclif (Eph. v. 4) so translates Lat. scurrilitas.
Editor’s Note
562. 'Besides the usual payment in money for grinding corn, millers are always allowed what is called "toll," amounting to 4 lbs. out of every sack of flour.'—Bell. But it can hardly be doubted that, in old times, the toll was wholly in corn, not in money at all. It amounted, in fact, to the twentieth or twenty-fourth part of the corn ground, according to the strength of the water-course; see Strutt, Manners and Customs, ii. 82, and Nares, s. v. Toll-dish. At Berwick, the miller's share was reckoned as 'the thirteenth part for grain, and the twenty-fourth part for malt.' Eng. Gilds, p. 342. When the miller 'tolled thrice,' he took thrice the legal allowance. Cf. A. 3939, 3940.
Editor’s Note
563. a thombe of gold. An explanation of this proverb is given on the authority of Mr. Constable, the Royal Academician, by Mr. Yarrell in his History of British Fishes, who, when speaking of the Bullhead or Miller's Thumb, explains that a miller's thumb acquires a peculiar shape by continually feeling samples of corn whilst it is being ground; and that such a thumb is called golden, with reference to the profit that is the reward of the experienced miller's skill.
  • 'When millers toll not with a golden thumbe.'

Gascoigne's Steel Glass, l. 1080.

Ray's Proverbs give us— 'An honest miller has a golden thumb'; ed. 1768, p. 136; taken satirically, this means that there are no honest millers. Brand, in his Pop. Antiquities, ed. Ellis, iii. 387, quotes from an old play—'Oh the mooter dish, the miller's Thumbe!'
The simplest explanation is to take the words just as they stand, i.e. 'he used to steal corn, and take his toll thrice; yet he had a golden thumb such as all honest millers are said to have.'
Critical Apparatus
565. Hl. om. wel.
Editor’s Note
565. W. Thorpe, when examined by Arundel, archbishop of Canterbury, in 1407, complains of the pilgrims, saying—'they will ordain to have with them both men and women that can well sing wanton songs; and some other pilgrims will have with them bagpipes; so that every town that they come through, what with the noise of their singing, and with the sound of their piping, and with the jangling of their Canterbury bells, and with the barking out of dogs after them, they make more noise than if the king came there away, with all his clarions and many other minstrels.'—Arber's Eng. Garner, vi. 84; Wordsworth, Eccl. Biography, 4th ed. i. 312; Cutts, Scenes and Characters, p. 179.
Editor’s Note
566. 'And with its music he conducted us out of London.'
Editor’s Note
567. Maunciple or manciple, an officer who had the care of purchasing provisions for a college, an inn of court, &c. (Still in use.) See A. 3993. A temple is here 'an inn of court'; besides the Inner and Middle Temple (in London), there was also an Outer Temple; see Timbs, Curiosities of London, p. 461; and the account of the Temple in Stow's Survey of London.
Editor’s Note
568. which, whom.
Editor’s Note
achatours, purchasers; cf. F. acheter, to buy.
Critical Apparatus
570. E. Hn. wheither.
Editor’s Note
570. took by taille, took by tally, took on credit. Cf. Piers Plowman, ed. Wright, vol. i. p. 68, and ed. Skeat (Clarendon Press Series), B. iv. 58:—
  • 'And (he) bereth awey my whete,
  • And taketh me but a taille for ten quarters of otes.'
The buyer who took by tally had the price scored on a pair of sticks; the seller gave him one of them, and retained the other himself. 'Lordis . . . taken pore mennus goodis and paien not therfore but white stickis . . . and sumtyme beten hem whanne thei axen here peye'; Wyclif's Works, ed. Matthew, p. 233 (see note at p. 519).
Critical Apparatus
571. E. Achaat.
Editor’s Note
571. Algate, in every way, always; cf. prov. E. gate, a street.
Editor’s Note
achat, buying; see l. 568.
Critical Apparatus
572. E. staat.
Editor’s Note
572. ay biforn, ever before (others).
Editor’s Note
574. swich, such; A. S. swylce. lewed, unlearned; as in l. 502. pace, pass, i.e. surpass.
Editor’s Note
575. heep, heap, i. e. crowd; like G. Haufe.
Critical Apparatus
577. E. weren.
Critical Apparatus
578. E. whiche.
Critical Apparatus
Cm. doseyn; E. duszeyne.
Critical Apparatus
581. E. maken.
Editor’s Note
581. 'To make him live upon his own income.'
Critical Apparatus
582. Cm. but; Cp. Pt. but if that; rest but if.
Editor’s Note
582. 'Unless he were mad.' See l. 184.
Editor’s Note
583. 'Or live as economically as it pleases him to wish to do.'
Editor’s Note
584. al a, a whole. Cf. 'all a summer's day'; Milton, P. L. i. 449.
Critical Apparatus
585. E. Hn. caas.
Editor’s Note
586. hir aller cappe, the caps of them all. Hir aller=eorum omnium. 'To sette' a man's 'cappe' is to overreach him, to cheat him, or to befool him. Cf. A. 3143.
Editor’s Note
587. Reve. See Prof. Thorold Rogers' capital sketch of Robert Oldman, the Cuxham bailiff, a serf of the manor (as reeves always were), in his Agriculture and Prices in England, i. 506–510.
Critical Apparatus
589. All but Hl. Ln. ins. ful after eres.
Critical Apparatus
590. E. doked.
Editor’s Note
592. Y-lyk, like, y-sen-e, visible; see note to l. 134.
Editor’s Note
593. 'He knew well how to keep a garner and a bin.'
Critical Apparatus
594. E. of; rest on.
Editor’s Note
597. neet, neat, cattle, dayerye, dairy.
Editor’s Note
598. hors, horses; pl. See note to l. 74. pultrye, poultry.
Editor’s Note
599. hoolly, wholly; from A.S. hāl, whole.
Editor’s Note
601. Sin, short for sithen; and sithen, with an added suffix, became sithen-s or sithen-ce, mod. E. since.
Editor’s Note
602. 'No one could prove him to be in arrears.'
Critical Apparatus
603. ne (2)] E. Hn. Cp. Pt. nor.
Editor’s Note
603. herde, herd, i. e. cow-herd or shep-herd. hyne, hind, farm-labourer.
Critical Apparatus
604. Hl. they (for he). E. Cm. om. ne.
Editor’s Note
604. That. . . his, whose; as in A. 2710.
Editor’s Note
covyne, deceit; lit. a deceitful agreement between two parties to prejudice a third. O. F. covine, a project; from O. F. covenir, Lat. conuenire, to come together, agree.
Editor’s Note
605. adrad, afraid; from the pp. of A. S. ofdrǣdan, to terrify greatly. the deeth, the pestilence; see note to l. 442.
Critical Apparatus
606. Hl. fair; E. faire.
Editor’s Note
606. woning, dwelling-place; see l. 388.
Critical Apparatus
607. E. Hn. shadwed; Hl. I-schadewed; Cm. I-schadewid; Cp. Pt. shadewed; Ln. schadowed.
Editor’s Note
609. astored (Elles. &c.); istored (Harl.); furnished with stores.
Critical Apparatus
611. Hl. owne; E. owene.
Editor’s Note
611. lene, lend; whence E. len-d. of, some of.
Critical Apparatus
612. E. om. and.
Critical Apparatus
E. gowne; rest cote.
Critical Apparatus
613. So Hn. Hl.; E. and rest hadde lerned.
Critical Apparatus
Cp. Hl. mester.
Editor’s Note
613. mister, trade, craft; O. F. mestier (F. métier), business; Lat. ministerium. 'Men of all mysteris'; Barbour's Bruce, xvii. 542.
Editor’s Note
614. wet, very, wrighte, wright, workman.
Editor’s Note
615. stot, probably what we should now call a cob. Prof. J. E. T. Rogers, in his Hist. of Agriculture, i. 36, supposes that a stot was a low-bred undersized stallion. It frequently occurs with the sense of 'bullock'; see note to P. Plowman, C. xxii. 267.
Editor’s Note
616. Sir Topas's horse was 'dappel-gray,' which has the same sense as pomely gray, viz. gray dappled with round apple-like spots. 'Apon a cowrsowre poumle-gray'; Wyntown, Chron. iv. 217; 'pomly-gray'; Palladius on Husbandry, bk. iv. l. 809; 'Upon a pomely palfray'; Lybeaus Disconus, 844 (in Ritson's Metrical Romances). Florio gives Ital. pomellato, 'pide, daple-graie.' The word occurs in the French Roman de Troie by Benoît de Sainte-Maure, ed. Joly, 10722:—'Quant Troylus orent monté Sor un cheval sor pommelé.' Cf. G. 559.
Editor’s Note
Scot. 'The name given to the horse of the reeve (who lived at Bawdeswell, in Norfolk) is a curious instance of Chaucer's accuracy; for to this day there is scarcely a farm in Norfolk or Suffolk, in which one of the horses is not called Scot'; Bell's Chaucer. Cf. G. 1543.
Editor’s Note
617. pers. Some MSS. read blew. See note on l. 439.
Critical Apparatus
618. E. baar.
Editor’s Note
621. Tukked aboute, with his long coat tucked up round him by help of a girdle. In the pictures in the Ellesmere MS., both the reeve and the friar have girdles, and rather long coats; cf. D. 1737. 'He (i. e. a friar) wore a graie cote well tucked vnder his corded girdle, with a paire of trime white hose'; W. Bullein, A Dialogue against the Feuer (E. E. T. S.), p. 68. See Tuck in Skeat, Etym. Dict.
Editor’s Note
622. hind-r-este, hindermost; a curious form, combining both the comparative and superlative suffixes. Cf. ov-er-est, l. 290.
Critical Apparatus
623. Cm. Pt. Somnour; Hl. sompnour; E. Hn. Somonour.
Editor’s Note
623. Somnour, summoner; an officer employed to summon delinquents to appear in ecclesiastical courts; now called an apparitor. 'The ecclesiastical courts . . . determined all causes matrimonial and testamentary. . . . They had besides to enforce the payment of tithes and church dues, and were charged with disciplinary power for punishment of adultery, fornication, perjury, and other vices which did not come under the common law. The reputation of the summoner is enough to show how abuses pervaded the action of these courts. Prof. Stubbs has summed up the case concerning them in his Constitutional History, iii. 373.'—Wyclif's Works, ed. Matthew, note at p. 514. For further information as to the summoner's character, see the Frere's Tale, D. 1299–1374.
Editor’s Note
624. cherubinnes face. H. Stephens, Apologie for Herodotus, i. c. 30, quotes the same thought from a French epigram—'Nos grands docteurs au cherubin visage.'—T. Observe that cherubin (put for cherubim) is a plural form. 'As the pl. was popularly much better known than the singular (e.g. in the Te Deum), the Romanic forms were all fashioned on cherubin, viz. Ital. cherubino. Span. querubin, Port. querubin, cherubin, F. cherubin'; New English Dictionary. Cherubs were generally painted red, a fact which became proverbial, as here. Cotgrave has: 'Rouge comme un cherubin, red-faced, cherubin-faced, having a fierie facies like a Cherubin.' Mrs. Jameson, in her Sacred and Legendary Art, has unluckily made the cherubim blue, and the seraphim red; the contrary was the accepted rule.
Editor’s Note
625. sawcefleem or sawsfleem, having a red pimpled face; lit. afflicted with pimples, &c., supposed to be caused by too much salt phlegm (salsum phlegma) in the constitution. The four humours of the blood, and the four consequent temperaments, are constantly referred to in various ways by early writers—by Chaucer as much as by any. Tyrwhitt quotes from an O. French book on physic (in MS. Bodley 761)—'Oignement magistrel pur sausefleme et pur chescune manere de roigne,' where roigne signifies any scorbutic eruption. 'So (he adds) in the Thousand Notable Things, B. i. 70—"A sawsfleame or red pimpled face is helped with this medicine following:"—two of the ingredients are quicksilver and brimstone. In another place, B. ii. 20, oyle of tartar is said "to take away cleane all spots, freckles, and filthy wheales."' He also quotes, in his Glossary, from MS. Bodley 2463—'unguentum contra salsum flegma, scabiem, &c.' Flewme in the Prompt. Parv. answers to Lat. phlegma. See the long note by J. Addis in N. and Q. 4 S. iv. 64; Babees Book, ed. Furnivall, p. 169, l. 777. 'The Greke word that he vsed was ἐξανθήματα,‎ that is, little pimples or pushes, soche as, of cholere and salse flegme, budden out in the noses and faces of many persones, and are called the Saphires and Rubies of the Tauerne.'—Udall, tr. of Erasmus' Apophthegmes, Diogenes, § 6: [printed false flegme in ed. 1877.] See l. 420.
Critical Apparatus
627. E. Hn. Cm. scaled.
Editor’s Note
627. scalled, having the scall or scab, scabby, scurfy, blake, black. piled, deprived of hair, thin, slight. Cf. E. peel, vb. Palsgrave has—'Pylled, as one that wanteth heare'; and 'Pylled, scal[l]ed.'
Critical Apparatus
629. Cp. Pt. Hl. bremston.
Editor’s Note
629. litarge, litharge, a name given to white lead.
Editor’s Note
630. Boras, borax.
Editor’s Note
ceruce, ceruse, a cosmetic made from white lead; see New E. Dict. oille of tartre, cream of tartar; potassium bitartrate.
Critical Apparatus
632. E. the; rest his.
Editor’s Note
632. Cf. 'Such whelkes [on the head] haue small hoales, out of the which matter commeth. . . . And this euill commeth of vicious and gleymie [viscous] humour, which commeth to the skin of their head, and breedeth therein pimples and whelks?—Batman on Bartholomè, lib. 7. c. 3. In the same, lib. 7. c. 67, we read that 'A sauce flume face is a priuye signe of leprosie.' Cf. Shak. Hen. V. iii. 6. 108.
Editor’s Note
635. See Prov. xxxiii. 31. The drinking of strong wine accounts for the Somnour's appearance. 'Wyne . . . makith the uisage salce fleumed [misprinted falce flemed], rede, and fulle of white whelkes '; Knight de la Tour, p. 116 (perhaps copied from Chaucer).
Editor’s Note
P. 19. A 636. For Thanne read Than
Editor’s Note
643. Can clepen Watte, i. e. can call Walter (Wat) by his name; just as parrots are taught to say 'Poll.' In Political Songs, ed. Wright, p. 328, an ignorant priest is likened to a jay in a cage, to which is added: 'Go[o]d Engelish he speketh, ac [but] he wot nevere what'; referring to the time when Anglo-French was the mother-tongue of many who became priests.
Editor’s Note
644. 'But if any one could test him in any other point.'
Editor’s Note
646. Questio quid iuris. 'This kind of question occurs frequently in Ralph de Hengham. After having stated a case, he adds, quid juris, and then proceeds to give an answer to it.'—T. It means—'the question is, what law (is there)?' i. e. what is the law on this point?
Editor’s Note
647. harlot, fellow, usually one of low conduct; but originally merely a young person, without implication of reproach. See D. 1754.
Editor’s Note
649. 'For a bribe of a quart of wine, he would allow a boon companion of his to lead a vicious life for a whole year, and entirely excuse him; moreover (on the other hand) he knew very well how to pluck a finch,' i. e. how to get all the feathers off any inexperienced person whom it was worth his while to cheat. Cf. 'a pulled hen' in l. 177. With reference to the treatment of the poor by usurers, &c., we read in the Rom. of the Rose, l. 6820, that 'Withoute scalding they hem pulle,' i. e. pluck them. And see Troil. i. 210.
Critical Apparatus
652. E. Ln. Hl. And; rest Ful.
Editor’s Note
654–7. 'He would teach his friend in such a case (i. e. if his friend led an evil-life) to stand in no awe of the archdeacon's curse (excommunication), unless he supposed that his soul resided in his purse 5 for in his purse [not in his soul] he should be punished' (i. e. by paying a good round sum he could release himself from the archdeacon's curse). 'Your purse (said he) is the hell to which the archdeacon really refers when he threatens you.' See, particularly, Wyclif's Works, ed. Matthew, pp. 35, 62, 496.
Critical Apparatus
655. Cm. Cp. erche-; E. erce-; Hl. arche-.
Editor’s Note
A. 655. See Freeman, vol. v. p. 497, and his quotation from John of Salisbury, Ep. 146 (Giles, i. 260):—'Erat, ut memini, genus hominum, qui in ecclesia Dei archidiaconorum censentur nomine, quibus vestra discretio omnem salutis viam querebatur esse praeclusam. Nam, ut dicere consuevistis, diligunt munera, sequuntur retributiones, ad injurias proni sunt, calumniis gaudent, peccata populi comedunt et bibunt, quibus vivitur ex rapto, ut non sit hospes ab hospite tutus.'—J. Earle. [From Freeman's Hist. of the Norman Conquest, ed. 1867–79.]
Cf. the Somnours Tale; especially D. 1315, 1317, and the notes.
Critical Apparatus
660. Cp. Ln. him; Hl. Pt. to; rest om.
Critical Apparatus
661. Hl. Pt. saueth; E. sauith.
Editor’s Note
661. assoilling, absolution; from the vb. assoil.
Editor’s Note
662. war him of, i. e. let him beware of; war is the pres. subj.
Editor’s Note
significavit, i. e. of a writ de excommunicato capiendo [or excommunication] which usually began, 'Significavit nobis venerabilis frater,' &c.—T. See Significavit in Cowel or Blount.
Critical Apparatus
663. Hl. owne; E. owene.
Editor’s Note
663. In daunger, within his jurisdiction, within the reach or control of his office; the true sense of M. E. daunger is 'control' or 'dominion.' Thus, in the Romaunt of the Rose, l. 1470, we find:—
  • 'Narcisus was a bachelere,
  • That Love had caught in his daungere.'
i. e. whom Love had got into his power. So also in l. 1049 of the same.
Editor’s Note
664. yonge girles, young people, of either sex. In the Coventry Mysteries, p. 181, there is mention of 'knave gerlys,' i. e. male children. And see gerles in the Gloss, to P. Plowman, and the note to the same, C. ii. 29.
Editor’s Note
665. and was al hir reed, and was wholly their adviser.
Editor’s Note
666, 667. gerland. A garland for an ale-stake was distinct from a bush. The latter was made of ivy-leaves; and every tavern had an ivy-bush hanging in front as its sign; hence the phrase, 'Good wine needs no bush,' &c. But the garland, often used in addition to the bush, was made of three equal hoops, at right angles to each other, and decorated with ribands. It was also called a hoop. The sompnour wore only a single hoop or circlet, adorned with large flowers (apparently roses), according to his picture in the Ellesmere MS. Emelye, in the Knightes Tale, is described as gathering white and red flowers to make 'a sotil gerland' for her head; A. 1054. 'Garlands of flowers were often worn on festivals, especially in ecclesiastical processions'; Rock, Church of our Fathers, ii. 72. Some garlands, worn on the head, were made of metal; see Riley, Memorials of London, p. 133.
Editor’s Note
667. ale-stake, a support for a garland in front of an ale-house. For a picture of an ale-stake with a garland, see Hotten's Book of Signboards. The position of it was such that it did not stand upright, but projected horizontally from the side of a tavern at some height from the ground, as shewn in Larwood and Hotten's Book of Signboards. Hence the enactments made, that it should never extend above the roadway for more than seven feet; see Liber Albus, ed. H. T. Riley, 1861, pp. 292, 389. Speght wrongly explained ale-stake as 'a Maypole,' and has misled many others, including Chatterton, who thus was led to write the absurd line—'Around the ale-stake minstrels sing the song'; Ælla, st. 30. 'At the ale-stake' is correct; see C. 321.
Critical Apparatus
668. E. bokeleer.
Critical Apparatus
669. E. was; rest rood, rode.
Editor’s Note
669. As to the character of the Pardoner, see further in the Pardoner's Prologue, C. 329–462; P. Plowman, B. prol. 68–82; Hey wood's Interlude of the Four Ps, which includes a shameless plagiarism from Chaucer's Pardoner's Prologue; and Sir David Lyndesay's Satire of the Three Estaits, l. 2037. Cf. note to C. 349. See also the Essay on Chaucer's Pardoner and the Pope's Pardoners, by Dr. J. Jusserand, in the Essays on Chaucer (Chaucer Society), p. 423; and the Chapter on Pardoners in Jusserand's English Wayfaring Life. Jusserand shews that Chaucer has not in the least exaggerated; for exaggeration was not possible.
Critical Apparatus
670. E. Cm. Pt. Rounciuale.
Editor’s Note
670. Of Rouncival. Of course the Pardoner was an Englishman, so that he could hardly belong to Roncevaux, in Navarre. The reference is clearly to the hospital of the Blessed Mary of Rouncyvalle, in the parish of St. Martin in the Fields, at Charing (London), mentioned in Dugdale's Monasticon, ii. 443. Stow gives its date of foundation as the 15th year of Edward IV., but this was only a revival of it, after it had been suppressed by Henry V. It was a 'cell' to the Priory of Roncevaux in Navarre. See Todd's Illustrations of Gower, p. 263: and Rouncival in Nares. Cf. note to l. 172.
Critical Apparatus
672. E. soong.
Editor’s Note
672. Com hider, love, to me. 'This, I suppose, was the beginning or the burthen of some known song.'—Tyrwhitt. It is quoted again in l. 763 of the poem called 'The Pearl,' in the form—'Come hyder to me, my lemman swete.' hider, hither.
The rime of tó me with Róme should be particularly noted, as it enables even the reader who is least skilled in English phonology to perceive that Ro-me was really dissyllabic, and that the final e in such words was really pronounced. Similarly, in Octouian Imperator, ed. Weber, l. 1887, we find seint Ja-mè, riming with frá me (from me). Perhaps the most amusing example of editorial incompetence is seen in the frequent occurrence of the mysterious word byme in Pauli's edition of Gower; as, e.g. in bk. iii. vol. i. p. 370:—
  • 'So woll I nought, that any time
  • Be lost, of that thou hast do byme'
Of course, by me should have been printed as two words, riming with ti-mè. This is what happens when grammatical facts are ignored. Time is dissyllabic, because it represents the A. S. tīma, which is never reduced to a monosyllable in A. S.
Editor’s Note
673. bar . . . a stif burdoun, sang the bass. See A. 4165, and N. and Q. 4 S. vi. 117, 255. Cf. Fr. bourdon, the name of a deep organ-stop.
Editor’s Note
675, 676. wex, wax. heng, hung. stryke of flex, hank of flax.
Critical Apparatus
676. E. heeng.
Editor’s Note
677. By ounces, in small portions or thin clusters.
Editor’s Note
679. colpons, portions; the same word as mod. E. coupon.
Critical Apparatus
680. But] Cm. Hl. And.
Critical Apparatus
Hl. ne; rest omit.
Editor’s Note
680. for Iolitee, for greater comfort. He thought it pleasanter to wear only a cap (l. 683). wered, wore; see l. 75. Cf. G. 571, and the note.
Editor’s Note
682. the newe Iet, the new fashion, which is described in ll. 680–683.
  • 'Also, there is another newe gette,
  • A foule waste of clothe and excessyfe,
  • There goth no lesse in a mannes typette
  • Than of brode cloth a yerde, by my lyfe.'

Hoccleve, De Regim. Principum, p. 17.

'Newe Iette, guise nouelle'; Palsgrave.
Critical Apparatus
683. E. Discheuelee.
Editor’s Note
683. Dischevele, with his hair hanging loose.
Critical Apparatus
685. Hl. Cp. on; rest vp on.
Editor’s Note
685. vernicle, a small copy of the 'vernicle' at Rome. Vernicle is 'a diminutive of Veronike (Veronica), a copy in miniature of the picture of Christ, which is supposed to have been miraculously imprinted upon a handkerchief preserved in the church of St. Peter at Rome. . . It was usual for persons returning from pilgrimages to bring with them certain tokens of the several places which they had visited; and therefore the Pardoner, who is just arrived from Rome, is represented with a vernicle sowed on his cappe.'—Tyrwhitt. See the description of a pilgrim in Piers Plowman, ed. Skeat, B. v. 530, and the note. The legend was invented to explain the name. First the name of Bernice, taken from the Acts, was assigned to the woman who was cured by Christ of an issue of blood. Next, Bernice, otherwise Veronica, was (wrongly) explained as meaning vera icon (i. e. true likeness), which was assigned as the name of a handkerchief on which the features of Christ were miraculously impressed. Copies of this portrait were called Veronicae or Veroniculae, in English vernicles, and were obtainable by pilgrims to Rome. There was also a later St. Veronica, who died in 1497, after Chaucer's time, and whose day is Jan. 13.
See Legends of the Holy Rood, ed. Morris, pp. 170, 171; Mrs. Jameson's Sacred and Legendary Art, ii. 269; Lady Eastlake's History of our Lord, i. 41; Rock, Church of our Fathers, iii. pt. i. p. 438; and the picture of the vernicle in Chambers, Book of Days, i. 101.
Critical Apparatus
686. Hl. lay; which the rest omit.
Critical Apparatus
687. Hl. Cm. come; rest comen.
Editor’s Note
687. Bret-ful of pardon, brim-full (top-full, full to the top) of indulgences. Cf. Swed. bräddfull, brimful; from brädd, a brim. See A. 2164; Ho. of Fame, 2123.
Critical Apparatus
688. Hl. eny (for hath a).
Critical Apparatus
690. Hn. yshaue; E. shaue.
Editor’s Note
692. fro B