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THE PROLOGUE, THE KNIGHTES TALE,
THE NONNE PRESTES TALE
THE CANTERBURY TALES
A REVISED TEXT
REV. RICHARD MORRIS, LL.D.
Author of Historical Outlines of English Accidence.
Member of the Council of the Philological Society.
AT THE CLARENDON PRESS
M DCCC LXXII
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EVENTFUL as the early life of Chaucer must have been, we have no sources of information from which we can gather even the simplest facts concerning his birth, birthplace,a parentage and education, which are thus involved in much obscurity and uncertainty. The name Chaucer, though not belonging to any noble or distinguished family, was of some antiquity, and seems to have been borne by persons of respectability and wealth, some of whom were connected with the city of London; and in the local records of the period (twenty-third year of Edward III), mention is made of a certain Richard Chaucer, a vintner of London, 'who,' says Speght, 'might well be Geoffrey Chaucer's father b.'
The first record of the name of Geoffrey Chaucer was discovered in 1866, by Mr. E. A. Bond, the present Keeper of the MSS. in the British Museum, on two parchment leaves which had, some three or four centuries ago, been pasted down to the covers of an ancient manuscript, purchased a few years before 1866 by the British Museum, and now known as the Additional MS. 18,632. These leaves are fragments of a Household Account,
a The Testament of Love, which was put into the old editions of Chaucer, but which contains internal evidence that it was not the poet's work, names London as the birthplace of its writer: Also the citye of London, that is to me so dere and swete, in which I was forthgrowen; and more kindly (natural) love have I to that place than to any other in yerth (earth), as every kindly creture hath full appetite to that place of his kindely engendrure and to wilne reste and peace in that stede to abyde.' (Test. of Love, Book i. § 5.)
b See Morley's English Writers, vol. ii. p. 142.