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MS showing this sequence, which I shall call the Corpus-Mm archetype, was antecedent to the (b) and (d) groups above listed, groups which unite in their connection Man of Law-Squire and their spurious bonds Canon's Yeoman-Doctor and Pardoner-Shipman, but which differ in that the (b) group has no bond MerchantSquire or Squire-Franklin, has but a partial connection ClerkMerchant (the Merch. headlink being absent), and shows a short form of the Merchant's Tale. The (d) class, on the other hand, has obtained the connectives Merchant-Squire and Squire-Franklin, taking with them the liberties above described; there is a slight difference among the four MSS of this class in that Petworth and Mm, though copying the garbled Merchant-Franklin link to precede the Franklin, do not move that Tale up to follow the Merchant as do Hatton and Ii. . Groups (a) and (c) bear a superficial resemblance in Taleorder, but the (c) group is much debased in its Links. It has the spurious connectives GC and CB’, like groups (b) and (d); it has also a connective between the Clerk and the Franklin, which may take several forms, the Verba Hospitis and the altered Squire headlink, as in Laud 739; the Verba, seven lines of comment, and the headlink, as in Harley 1758, Barlow, Royal 18; or the comment and headlink without the Verba, as in Lichfield and Sloane 1685. In none of these does the Clerk end ready for the Merchant; in Barlow, Laud, and Royal a spurious connective E*D has been introduced. See Ch. Soc. Specimens pp. 51-56. - . Group (a) has no connection E°F or FF", but it links Clerk and Merchant, though displacing the latter to stand between Squire and D. This displacement is particularly noticeable, because occuring also in the (c) class of manuscripts, where, on the explanation I have above advanced, it must have been made before the SquireFranklin link was appended to the misplaced Squire. That is, there are two classes of MSS forcing the Merchant up before D; in (c) it may seem accidental, but in (b) it happens in spite of the full connective Clerk-Merchant. Shall we believe that one MS could influence another as regards Tale-order alone? The conditions in Royal 17 are here interesting. This MS has the Summoner introduced by the Man of Law’s endlink, like Harley 7334; but the Squire follows instead, as in the MSS just analyzed. And the Squire's Tale has been brought up accompanied by its own eight-line prologue and by the Merchant’s endlink. A procedure so contrary to sense can have been followed only by an unthinking scribe, who blindly obeyed the numbering of booklets as dictated to him by a MS other than that which he used for his B" text; unless, indeed, his archetype was a composite in different hands from different sources. The fact that the Nun's Priest's epilogue, a characteristic of but five other MSS, all of late type, is also found in this codex, indicates that at least three classes of texts con
tributed to the formation of this; and when we observe that the hand of all of the MS after the Clerk’s Tale is that of the MSS Harley 225I and Adds. 34360, whose origin in a scriptorium and liability to contamination I have discussed (in Anglia 28), our suppositions are confirmed. The de Worde print of 1498 shows superficially the same order as Harley 7334; and a student glancing at the volume and seeing no endlink following Man of Law might be tempted to ally the volume with the Ellesmere or the 7334 class. However, the Man of Law's endlink, with some verbal alterations, appears after the Merchant’s Tale, and introduces the Squire, serving in lieu of the regular link Merchant-Squire, which is present neither here nor in the Caxtons. That is, the order E. E. F. Fo has been re-imposed upon an arrangement of Tales in which the displacement of Fo had previously happened. The Monk’s endlink is in the short form, as in Caxton I; the Words of the Franklin are present, and also the Nun’s Priest’s epilogue, as in Caxton II. From such facts and from the division and redivision in MSalliances it is demonstrable that MSS could be influenced by other types of MSS during transcription, a fact which Moore has pointed out as true of the Divina Commedia codices to a most complicating extent. It might accordingly happen that a manuscript of fairly sound textual origin, so far as Tales went, added to itself spurious or distorted Links, an addition which could be made without any effect upon the Tales; and such a manuscript might then hand on to its descendants a mixture of excellence and impurity. The presence of spurious connectives in a codex is thus not per se an argument against the text of its Tales. Compare a minor point like the reading of Knight’s Tale II54, where R 3, 3 and Harley 7333, volumes free from spurious matter, have: . Armed Complyaunt Oopes & fiers Courrage Harley Armed compleint with othes and fers corage Trinity while Sloane 1685 and Royal I8, MSS charged with illegitimate additions to their Links, read: Armed compleynt outhees and fires corage. Therefore, as Moore has remarked for Dante, only an exhaustive comparison of the entire work can show us in which MSS a sound text remains untouched, in which it has been slightly obscured by spurious Links and verbal errors here and there, in which it presents a compound of early uncorrected work and continuation on a later plan, and in which it has been debased textually and distorted in connections so as to place it out of court in a genealogical study. The state of the Links and the arrangement of the Tales can at present give us no conclusive and detailed evidence towards a genealogy of the manuscripts, although it may suggest a tentative grouping and a line of investigation. This tentative grouping is, for the body of MSS above discussed:
It will be seen that the remotest archetype here deduced does not differ, in the Tale-order A–F, from the two other main MStypes represented by the Ellesmere and by Harley 7334. This seems proven from the numberings in Corpus and Mm and from the sequence appearing when the misplaced Squire of this archetype and of the Harley 7333 archetype is returned to his proper place. Certainly, until evidence is forthcoming for another theory, we may argue that it was an order like that of Harley 7334, but without the E and F links there seen, which lay behind the Corpus-7333 group, and that it was the misreading of the deleted word Sompnour, still seen in Harley 7334’s Man of Law endlink, which set on foot all the displacements characteristic of the Corpus-7333 line of descent. We arrive therefore at the conclusion that the archetype of the Corpus-7333 group represents the most primitive known form of the Canterbury Tales, a form which went into circulation before Chaucer had written the E and F links, and which received those additions during the early stages of copying. This conclusion also brings with it several corollaries. First, if the E and F links were indeed later written, the fusion of these four Tales into a whole was, as ten Brink affirmed, made by Chaucer some time after the completion of the Tales themselves, or of most of them. That it was later than the writing of the Clerk’s envoy may be argued from the fact that in many Corpus-Mm manuscripts the Clerk’s envoy, when existing, does not end ready for the Merchant; and when it does so end in other groups, I would suggest that its rearrangement had been made to meet the (therefore 1ater written) Merchant headlink. It follows that the conditions of the MSS can thus, in minor points at least, give us some light on the relative dates of the Links, perhaps of the Tales, and on the workings of Chaucer’s mind. For is it not a plausible inference that in these later E and F links Chaucer was endeavoring to make more appropriate the telling of two of the Tales (Merchant and Franklin) by their narrators? The vividly autobiographical tone of these two introductions is of the same character as are the Wife of Bath's prologue and the Pardoner's exhortation, pieces of the framework which every student would assign to Chaucer's ripest maturity; and yet the Tales which they prelude are not in themselves so appropriate t their narrators as are those, e.g., of Clerk and Squire. This leads readily to the assertion that there are in the Canterbury Tales three sorts of Tales; those which Chaucer had previously written, assigned to a pilgrim whom he created later, after the idea of the pilgrimage had occurred to him; those written with the pilgrim in mind; and those written after the poem was in progress and forced upon a pilgrim. Cp. ten Brink, Hist. Eng. Lit. II: I49. The evidence which we can collect for this or any chronological division comes partly from our personal judgment as to plot and treatment in a Tale, partly from Chaucer’s own allusions, lastly, from the manuscripts. The first of these sources has hitherto received the most attention. Ten Brink did not deal minutely with the Canterbury Tales; but Skeat and Koch base their remarks sometimes upon their personal judgment regarding Tale-structure, sometimes upon a parallelization of the known facts of Chaucer's life which has led them to extremes. Thus, the one critic suggests that the coarser Tales were probably composed after Chaucer's loss of his wife; the other considers that the ponderous theological portions of the Tales were the expression of Chaucer’s period of poverty and anxiety. As actual evidence, such opinions have no solid value. Facts which do serve as basis for a chronological theory are to be found in the Chaucerian text. When in the Legend of Good Women prologue (of 1386?) Chaucer alludes to the stories of Palamon and Arcite and of St. Cecilia as in existence, this is a bit of definite evidence, already well used. When in the Gg text of the Legend of Good Women prologue and in the Tales of Wife, Merchant, and Franklin, Chaucer speaks of and uses a book unmentioned by him elsewhere, we may, with Professor Lowes,” argue that this group of work was of similar date, and subsequent to Chaucer's introduction to the material which he applies so lavishly and with such enjoyment.” Or when we find Chaucer, in the Monk's Tale, translating the story of Ugolino from the 33d canto of Dante's Inferno, while in the tragedy of Caesar (in the same Tale) he amalgamates Brutus and Cassius into one person, shall we not argue that the Caesar was written before he knew Dante? for in the 34th canto of the Inferno Brutus and Cassius are unmistakably separate persons. Compare the two translations of Virgil’s “pernicibus alis”, and the probability that the wrong one antedated the right, noted in Professor Lowes’ paper, page 857. Skeat's note on this amalgamation is entirely pointless; what the writer of the Serpent of Division blundered in throws no light upon Chaucer, from whom the later author (Lydgate?) probably obtained the error; and no remark is made upon the curious fact that the same mistake appears in King Aelfred's translation of Boethius. Add here also that a line in the tragedy of Nero (487) is from Dante, as noted by Cary, and we query whether we cannot safely date the four “modern instances” and Nero (at least) after Chaucer's acquaintance with Dante, the Caesar before that time. Should not the Croesus, moreover, be dated later than most of the tragedies, as the earlier form of the endlink (see above) makes no citation from it?