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THE COMPLEINT OF CHAUCER TO HIS EMPTY PURSE
The sothe is this, the cut fil to the knyght, Of which ful blithe and glad was every wyght :
846 And telle he moste his tale, as was resoun, By forward and by composicioun, As ye han herd; what nedeth wordes mo? And whan this goode man saugh that it was So,
850 As he that wys was and obedient To kepe his forward 1 by his free assent, He seyde, “Syn · I shal bigynne the game, What, welcome be the cut a * Goddes name! Now lat us ryde, and herkneth what I seye. And with that word, we ryden forth oure
weye; And he bigan with right a myrie cheere 857 His tale anon, and seyde in this manere.
I agreement 2 compact 3 since 4 in 5
storms 6 overturned 7 above s little birds 9 have 10 mate 11 the crowd 12 truth insecurity prosperity blinds everywhere 16 advise 16 doubt
disturb ? i.e. Fortune 3 stands, resides 4 tious 5 kick 6awl ? crock, earthen pot willing obedience ' beast 10 highway 11 spirit 12 Sir Philip la Vache 13
14 thank him who 15 reward creature unless
19 bier 20 be 21 ere 22 guide
harde to thy tendre age of ten yeer to conseyve. This tretis, divided in fyve parties 2 wole 3 I shewe thee under ful lighte 4 rewles 5 and naked wordes in English; for Latin ne canstow 6 yit but smal, my lyte ? sone. But natheles,& suffyse to thee thise trewe conclusiouns in English, as wel as suffyseth to thise noble clerkes Grekes thise same conclusiouns in Greek, and to Arabiens in Arabik, and to Jewes in Ebrew, and to the Latin folk in Latin ; whiche Latin folk han 'hem 10 furst out of othre diverse langages, and writen in
owne tonge, that is to sein,12 in Latin. And God wot,13 that in alle thise langages, and in many mo,14 han' thise conclusiouns ben 15 suffisantly lerned and taught, and yit by diverse rewles, right as diverse pathes leden diverse folk the righte wey to Rome. Now wol I prey meekly every discret persone that redeth or hereth this litel tretis, to have my rewde 16 endyting 17 for excused, and my supersluite of wordes, for two causes. The firste cause is, for-that 18 curious 19 endyting 17 and hard sentence 20 is ful hevy alones for swich 23 a child to lerne. And the seconde cause is this, that sothly 24 mesemeth 25 betre to wryten unto a child twyes 26 a good sentence, than he forgete it ones. And, Lowis, yif 28 so be that I shewe thee in my lighte 29 English as trewe conclusiouns touching this matere, and naught 30 only as trewe but as many and as subtil conclusiouns as ben 31 shewed in Latin in any commune tretis of the Astrolabie, con me the more thank; 32 and preye God save the king, that is lord of this langage, and alle that him feyth bereth 33 and obeyeth, everech 34 in his degree, the more 35 and the lasse. 36 But considere wel, that I ne usurpe nat to have founde this werk of my labour or of myn engin.37. I nam 38 but a lewd 39 compilatour 40 of the labour of olde Astrologiens, and have hit translated in myn English only for thy doctrine; and with this swerd 41 shal I sleen 42 envye.
PROLOGUS Litel Lowis @ my sone, I have perceived wel by certeyne evidences thyn abilite to lerne sciencez touchinge noumbres and proporciouns; and as wel considere I thy bisy preyere 8 in special to lerne the Tretis of the Astrolabie. Than,' for as mechel 19 as a philosofre scith,“he wrappeth him in his frend, that condescendeth to the rightful preyers of his frend,” therfor have I yeven 11 thee a suffisaunt Astrolabie as for oure orizonte,12 compowned 13 after the latitude of Oxenford; upon which, by mediacion 14 of this litel tretis, I purpose to teche thee a certein nombre of conclusions 15 apertening to the same instrument. I seye a certein of conclusiouns, for three causes. The furste cause is this: truste wel that alle the conclusiouns that han 17 ben founde, or elles 18 possibly mighten be founde in so noble an instrument as an Astrolabie, ben 3 unknowe perfitly to any mortal man in this regioun, as I suppose. Another cause is this: that sothly,19 in any tretis of the Astrolabie that I have seyn,20 there ben 3 some conclusions that wole 21 nat in alle thinges performen hir 22 bihestes; 23 and some of hem ben 3 to 24
1 shaven as close a friar 3 are 4 may
astronomical instrument; consult the dictionary « Lewis eager 8 prayer, request then much given
horizon composed means 15 problems and their solutions 16 pertaining 17 have 18 else 19 truly
seen 21 will 22 their promises too
JOHN DE TREVISA (1326-1412).
BOOK I. CHAPTER LIX
This apayrynge 1 of the burthe of the tunge is bycause of tweie thinges; oon is for children in scole ayenst the usage and manere of alle othere naciouns beeth compelled for to leve 2 hire : owne langage, and for to construe hir 3 lessouns and here 3 thynges in Frensche, and so they haveth * seth - the Normans come first in-to Engelond. Also gentil-men children beeth i-taught to speke Frensche from the tyme that they beeth i-rokked in here cradel, and kunneth ? speke and playe with a childes broche; 8 and uplondisshe' men wil likne hym-self to gentil-men, and fondeth 10 with greet besynesse for to speke Frensce, for to be i-tolde 11 of. Trevisa.12 This manere moche i-used to-for 13 [the] Firste Deth 14 and is siththe 15 sumdel 15 i-chaunged; for John Cornwaile, a maister of grammer, chaunged the lore in gramer scole and construccioun of 16 Frensche in-to Englische; and Richard Pencriche lerned the manere techynge of hym and othere men of Pencrich; so that now, the yere of oure Lorde a thowsand thre hundred and foure score and fyve, and of the secounde kyng Richard after the Conquest nyne, in alle the gramere scoles of Engelond, children leveth Frensche and construeth and lerneth an 18 Englische, and haveth 4 therby avauntage in oon side and disavauntage in another side; here 3 avauntage is, that they lerneth her gramer in lasse
tyme than children were i-woned 20 to doo; disavauntage is that now children of gramer scole conneth 21 na more Frensche than can 22 hir 3 lift 23 heele, and that is harme for hem 24 and 25 they schulle passe the see and travaille in straunge landes and in many other places. Also gentil-men haveth now moche i-left 26 for to teche here 3 children Frensche.
This deterioration of the birth of the tongue is because of two things: one is because children in school, against the usage and custom of all other nations, are compelled to give up their own language and to construe their lessons and their exercises in French, and so they have since the Normans came first into England. Also gentlemen's children are taught to speak French from the time that they are rocked in their cradles and can talk and play with a baby's brooch; and countrymen wish to be like gentlemen and attempt with great effort to speak French, in order to be highly regarded.
Trevisa: This custom was much used before the first plague and has since been somewhat changed; for John Cornwaile, master of grammar, changed the teaching in grammar school and the translation of French into English; and Richard Pencriche learned this sort of teaching from him, and other men from Pencriche, so that now, the year of Our Lord 1385 and of the second King Richard after the Conquest nine, in all the grammar schools of England, children give up French and construe and learn in English, and have thereby advantage on one side and disadvantage on another side; their advantage is that they learn their grammar in less time than children were accustomed to do; the disadvantage is that now children in grammar school know no more French than does their left heel; and that is harm for them if they shall pass the sea and travel in strange lands and in many other places. Also gentlemen have now in general ceased to teach their children French.
1 deterioration 2 leave, give up 3 their have 5 since 6 came
can 8 brooch (ornament in general) country
attempt accounted What
follows is Trevisa's addition. 13 before 14 the First Plague, 1348-1349 somewhat 16 from 17 kind of 18 in 19 less accustomed know 22 knows
left them 25 if 26 ceased
THE END OF THE MIDDLE AGES
FROM DE REGIMINE PRINCIPUM
O maister deere and fadir reverent, 1961
Mi maister Chaucer, flour of eloquence,
O universel fadir in science,
The steppes of Virgile in poesie
Thow folwedist eeke, men wot wel ynow.
hastyf, To rene
on the, and reve 4 the thi lyf. Deth hath but smal consideracion 2094
Unto the vertuous, I have espied,
Than to a vicious maister losel tried;
yliche. 13 She mighte han taryed hir vengeance a while
Til that some man had egal to the be.14 2102
May never man forth brynge lyk to the,
O Deth, thou didest naght harme singuleer 2 In slaughtere of him, but al this land it smertith.
1969 But nathelees yit hast thou no power
His name sle; his hy vertu astertith 3
With bookes of his ornat endytyng,
The firste fyndere of our faire langage 4978 My dere maistir (God his soule quyte !) 2077
Hath seyde in caas semblable, 17 and othir And fadir Chaucer fayn wolde han me
So hyly wel, that it is my dotage But I was dul, and lerned lite or naght. For to expresse or touche any of thoo.19
Alasse! my fadir fro the worlde is goo, Allas! my worthi maister honorable,
My worthi maister Chaucer, hym I mene:
2080 This landes verray tresor and richesse !
Be thou advoket 20 for hym, Hevenes Dethe, by thi deth, hath harme irreparable
Quene! Unto us doon; hir vengeable duresse 5
As thou wel knowest, O Blissid Virgyne, 4985 Despoiled hath this land of the swetnesse
With lovyng hert and hye devocion Of ret horik, for unto Tullius
In thyne honour he wroot ful many a lyne; Was never man so lyk 6 amonges us. 2086
O now thine helpe and thi promocion !
perience rascal 7 in a crowd 8 overcome ' by
ignorant alike 14 had been 1 fruitful understanding ? affecting only one equal to thee 15 duty must
like cases cscapes 4 heartens 5 cruel affliction 6 like ? heir also 19 those 20 advocate
To God thi Sone make a mocion
How he thi servaunt was, Mayden Marie, And lat his love floure and fructifie! 4991
Al-thogh his lyfe be queynt, the resemblaunce
Of him hath in me so fressh lyflynesse, That, to putte othir men in rémembraunce
Of his persone, I have heere his lyknesse Do make, to this ende, in sothfastnesse, That thei that have of him lest thought and mynde,
4997 By this peynture may ageyn him fynde.
JOHN LYDGATE (1370 ?-1451 ?)
FROM THE STORY OF THEBES
But wel assured in his manly herte,
10 alle his foon,"
1160 Thilke day he was upon hem founde; And, attonys 15 his enemyes to confounde, Wher-as he stood, this myghty champioun, Be-side he saugh, with water turned doun, An huge stoon large, rounde, and squar; And sodeynly, er that thei wer war, As 16 it hadde leyn ther for the nonys,17 Upon his foon he rolled it at onys, That ten of hem 18 wenten unto wrak, And the remnaunt amased drogh 19 a-bak; For on by on they wente to meschaunce.20 And fynaly he broght to outraunce 1172 Hem everychoon, Tydeus, as blyve, 22 That non but on left 23 of ham 18 alyve: Hym-silf yhurt, and ywounded kene,24 Thurgh his harneys bledyng on the grene;
HOW FALSLY ETHYOCLES LEYDE A BUSSHEMENT 3 IN THE WAY TO
HAVE SLAYN TYDEUS At a posterne forth they gan to ryde By a geyn “ path, that ley oute a-side, Secrely, that no man hem espie, Only of 5 tresoun and of felonye. They haste hem forth al the longe day, Of cruel malys, forto stoppe his way, Thorgh a forest, alle of oon assent, Ful covartly to leyn a busshement Under an hille, at a streite passage, To falle on hym at mor ayantage, The same way that Tydeus gan drawe At thylke’mount wher that Spynx was slawe.3 He, nothing war in his opynyoun Of this compassed 10 conspiracioun, But innocent and lich 11 a gentyl knyght, Rood ay forth to 12 that it drowe 13 to nyght, Sool by hym-silf, with-oute companye, Havyng no man to wisse 14 hym or to gye.15
But at the last, lifting up his hede, Toward eve, he gan taken hede; Mid of his waye, right as eny lyne, Thoght he saugh, ageyn the mone shyne, Sheldes fresshe and plates borned 16 bright, The which environ 17 casten a gret lyght; Ymagynyng in his fantasye Ther was treson and conspiracye Wrought by the kyng, his journe 18 forto lette.19 And of al that he no-thyng ne sette,20
I quenched ? had made 3 ambush convenient 5 purely be ause of greater advantage ? the same
not at all aware in his thought 10 arranged, formed
11 like 12 till drew direct 15 guide 18 burnished 17 around 18 journey 19 hinder 20 he cared nothing for all that