« PreviousContinue »
in Anderson, in Chalmers, Chiswick, Moxon, the 1845 Aldine, the 1854 Bell; in the revised Bell of 1878 (Skeat) relegated to the section Poems Attributed to Chaucer. Printed by Godwin in his Life of Chaucer, II: 356, with comments; printed by Skeat VII: 448, from the MS.
Modernizations: By Cowden Clarke in his Riches of Chaucer; by
Purves in 1870.
Authenticity and Title: The long retention of this poem in the
canon was doubtless due to the half-acceptance of it by Tyrwhitt in his Account of the Works of Chaucer. Tyrwhitt there spoke of it as “perhaps by Chaucer”, and said that it came “nearer to the description of a Virelay than anything else of his that has been preserved.” The piece was accordingly spoken of as a virelay. No title in the MS, where the word Chaucer is in the margin; whether it was written earlier or later than the printing of this and other bits by Stow as Chaucer's is not to be decided. Bradshaw rejected the poem from the canon.
Notes: See Morley, Jong. writers V : 271; Skeat VII: lxxx, 554,
Canon p. 122; Godwin as above.
When Faith Faileth, see Prophecy.
MSS: Skeat, Canon p. 105, mentions two; I have noted five:
Harley 2251, Bodley 686, Adds. 29729 (Stow), Trin. Coll. Cambr. R 3, 20, Univ. Libr. Cambr. Ff 1,6. The Harley MS is described Anglia 28 : 1 ff., the Bodley MS under III B (3) above, the Ff MS under IV A (5) above, the Adds. codex by Sieper in his EETS ed. of Lydgate's Reson and Sensuallyte, the (Shirley) Trinity MS in James op. cit, and in Anglia refs. as given in Section IV A. (6) here.
Prints and Editions: In the Thynne Chaucer of 1532, and in sub
sequent blackletter eds.; in Urry, in the 1782 Bell, in Anderson; in Chalmers among the Poems Imputed to Chaucer; not in Chiswick or later eds. Printed by Skeat VII : 285 from Thynne, collated with the Ff MS.
Title and Authenticity: Stow headed the poem “A Balade of good counsaile translated out of Latine verses into Englishe by Dan John Lidgate cleped the monke of Burie.” He probably took his information from the Trinity MS, a Shirley codex, which was for some time in his hands, and which shows this heading. The poem is evidently Lydgate's; and Tyrwhitt emphasized this in his Account of the Works of Chaucer.
Title: Marked by Shirley and Stow as above cited; Skeat entitles it “Ballad of Good Counsel”; the heading is here taken from the refrain, “A wicked tongue will alway deem amiss.”
Notes: See Skeat VII : xlix, 514, Canon as above. My note in Anglia 28 : 21 should be emended by the statement that the last stanza of the poem as in Harley 2251, which apparently makes the copy there longer than other texts, is in reality the lines entitled Prosperity, see above.
WomANLY NOBLESSE MSS: Adds. 34360, described Anglia 28 : 1 ff.
Prints and Editions: By Skeat, Athen. 1894 I : 742; issued by Skeat as a leaflet in 1894; in the Oxford Chaucer IV : xxv, Minor Poems (revised ed.) p. 466. Included in the Kelmscott Chaucer; in the Globe Chaucer, p. 637. In his letter to the Athen. Skeat announced the ballad as his discovery; Pollard ibid. p. 773 wrote that its existence was known to the Museum before purchase of the MS; see ibid. pp. 805, 837.
Authenticity: In the Canon p. 147 Skeat says “Attributed to Chaucer by Shirley in the MS copy.” This is misleading. Adds. 3436O is not in Shirley's hand, and though the text and the heading, “Balade that Chauncier made” are perhaps derived by the scribe from a Shirley copy, the matter is not certain; see Anglia as above. Kittredge in Nation 1895 I:240 opines that this poem is probably Chaucer's. Koch, Engl. Stud. 27 : 60; 30 : 450, refuses to accept it as Chaucerian.
Title: The title as above is given by Skeat; the Globe Chaucer uses the MS marking as cited.
Notes: See Skeat as cited; Root, Poetry of Chaucer p. 79.
Yet of the Same, see the second of the two stanzas discussed under Sayings of Dan John above.
Youre Eyen Two, see Merciles Beaute.
“Also our father Chaucer hath vsed the same libertie in feete and measures that the Latinists do vse; and who so euer do peruse and well consider his workes, he shall finde that although his lines are not alwayes of one selfe same number of Syllables, yet beyng redde by one that hath vnderstanding, the longest verse and that which hath most Syllables in it, will fall (to the eare) correspondent wnto that whiche hath fewest sillables in it; and likewise that whiche hath in it fewest syllables, shalbe founde yet to consist of woordes that haue suche naturall sounde, as may seeme equall in length to a verse which hath many moe sillables of lighter accents.”
Gascoigne: Certayne Notes of Instruction concerning the making
of Verse or Ryme in English,
“Chawcer, who for that excellent fame which hee obtayned in his Poetry, was alwayes accounted the God of English Poets (such a tytle for honours sake hath beene giuen him) was next after, if not equall in time to Gower, and hath left many workes, both for delight and profitable knowledge, farre exceeding any other that as yet euer since hys time directed theyr studies that way. Though the manner of hys stile may seeme blunte & course to many fine English eares at these dayes, yet in trueth, if it be equally pondered, and with good iudgment aduised, and confirmed with the time wherein he wrote, a man shall perceiue thereby euen a true picture or perfect shape of a right Poet. . . . for who could with more delight, prescribe such wholsome counsaile and sage aduise, where he seemeth onelie to respect the profitte of his lessons and instructions? or who coulde with greater wisedome, or more pithie skill, vnfold such
pleasant and delightsome matters of mirth, as though they respected nothing, but the telling of a merry tale?” - . Webbe: A Discourse of English Poetrie.
“Chaucer, Lydgate and others vsed Cesures either very seldome, or not at all, or else very licentiously; and many times made their meetres . . . of such vnshapely wordes as would allow no conuenient cesure; and therefore did let their rymes runne out at length, and neuer stayd till they came to the end.” (etc.) Puttenham: Arte of English Poesie, lib. 2, ch. 4.
“And for his [Chaucer's] verses, although in divers places they seem to us to stand of unequal measures, yet a skilful reader, who can scan them in their nature, shall find it otherwise. And if a verse, here and there, fal out a syllable shorter or longer than another, I rather aret it to the negligence and rape of Adam Scrivener (that I may speake as Chaucer doth) than to any unconning or oversight in the author; for how fearful he was to have his works miswritten, or his verse mismeasured, may appeare in the end of his fift booke of ‘Troylus and Creseide,” where he writeth thus: • , And for there is so great diversitie In English and in writing of our tongue, So pray I God that none miswrite thee, Ne thee mismetre for defaute of tongue.
Speght’s second ed. of Chaucer's Works, 1602; perhaps due to the influence of Francis Thynne, see Lounsbury, Studies III : 51.
“Some few ages after [the Norman Conquest] came the Poet Geffery Chaucer, who writing his Poesies in English, is of some called the first illuminator of the English tongue: of their opinion I am not (though I reverence Chaucer, as an excellent Poet for his time). He was indeed a great mingler of English with French, unto which language by like for that hee was decended of French or rather Wallon race, hee carried a great affection.” Verstegan: Restitution of Decayed Intelligence, pp. 203-4.
I640 In Ben Jonson's Grammar, first printed 1640, Chaucer is cited 25 times, principally from the House of Fame, Troilus, and the Man of Law's Tale; Gower is cited 27 times, Lydgate 14 times.
“The English language has been hitherto too carelessly handled, and I think has had less labour spent about its polishing than it deserves; till the time of King Henry the Eighth there was scarce any man regarded it but Chaucer, and nothing was written inn it which one would be willing to read twice but some of his poetry; but then it began to raise itself a little, and to sound tolerably well.” Sprat, Bishop of Rochester, in his History of the Royal Society.
“Chaucerus poeta, pessimo exemplo, integris vocum plaustris ex eadem Gallia in nostram Linguam invectis, eam, nimis antea a Normannorum victoria adulteratam, omni fere nativa gratia & nitore spoliavit, pro genuinis coloribus fucum illinens, pro vera facie larvam induens.” Skinner: preface to the Etymologicon Linguae Anglicanae.
“As to the poetry of the age, the beauty of speech, and the graces of measure and numbers, which are the inseparable ornaments of a good poem, are not to be expected in a rude and unsettled language; and though Chaucer, the father of our poets, had not taken equal care of the force of expression, as of the greatness of thought; yet the refining of a tongue is such a work as never was begun, and finish’d by the same hand. . . . And as in clothes, so in words, at first usually they broke in unalter'd upon us from abroad; and consequently, as in Chaucer's time, come not over like captives, but invaders.”
Preface to vol. ii of Antony à Wood's Athenae Oxonienses, by
“The Italian Authors acknowledge that the best part of their Language, and of their Poetry is drawn from that of Provence, as, indeed, is also that of the Spanish, and other Modern Languages. It is certain that Petrarch (the Poet that the Italians brag most on to this day) wou’d show very empty, if the Provencial Poets had from him, all their own again. And, in truth, all our Modern Poetry comes from them.
But they who attempted verse in English, down till Chaucers time, made an heavy pudder, and are always miserably put to"t for a word to clink: which commonly fall so awkard, and unexpectedly as dropping from the Clouds by some Machine or Miracle.