Geoffrey Chaucer.

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THE COMPLETE
WORKS OF

Geoffrey
Chaucer



Edited from
Numerous Manuscripts by

WALTER W. SKEAT



VOLUME I



Romaunt of the Rose
Minor Poems




. ' ' ' '



OXFORD
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THE COMPLETE WORKS



OF



GEOFFREY CHAUCER



SKEA T



*

ROMAUNT OF THE ROSE
MINOR POEMS





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THE COMPLETE WORKS



OF



GEOFFREY CHAUCER



EDITED, FROM NUMEROUS MANUSCRIPTS

BY THE

REV. WALTER W. SKEAT

LiTT.D., LL.D., D.C.L., PH.D.

ELRINGTON AND BOSWORTH PROFESSOR OF ANGLO-SAXON
AND FELLOW OF CHRIST'S COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE



*

ROMAUNT OF THE ROSE
MINOR POEMS



' blanda sonantibus



Chordis carmina temperans.

BOETHIUS, De Cons. Phil. Lib. m. Met. 12.

' He temprede hise blaundisshinge songes by resowninge strenges.'

Chaucer's Translation.



SECOND EDITION



OXFORD
AT THE CLARENDON PRESS



Oxford University Press, Amen House, London E.G. 4

GLASGOW NEW YORK TORONTO MELBOURNE WELLINGTON
BOMBAY CALCUTTA MADRAS KARACHI LAHORE DACCA
CAPE TOWN SALISBURY NAIROBI 1BADAN ACCRA
KUALA LUMPUR HONG KONG



FIRST EDITION 1894

SECOND EDITION 1899

REPRINTED 19^6, 1952, 1963

PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN






CONTENTS.



*** The Portrait of Chaucer in the frontispiece is noticed at p. lix.

PAGE

GENERAL INTRODUCTION vii

LIFE OF CHAUCER ix

LIST OF CHAUCER'S WORKS Ixii

ERRATA AND ADDENDA

INTRODUCTION TO THE ROMAUNT OF THE ROSE. t. Why (the chief
part of) the Romaunt of the Rose is not Chaucer's. 2. The
English Version of the Romaunt. 3. Internal evidence. 4.
Dr. Lidncr's opinion. 5. Dr. Kaluza's opinion. The three
Fragments. 6. Discussion of Fragment B. Test. I. Pro-
portion of English to French. 7. Test II. Dialect. 8.
Test III. The Riming of -y with -ye. 9. Test IV.
Assonant Rimes. 10. Result : Fragment B is not by Chaucer.
ii. Discussion of Fragment C. 12. Rime-tests. 13.
Further considerations. 14. Result: Fragment C is not by the
author of Fragment B, and perhaps not by Chaucer. 15. Dis-
cussion of Fragment A. (i) Rimes in -y. (2) Rimes in -ye. 16.
No false rimes. 17. The three Fragments seem to be all dis-
tinct. 1 8. Fragment A is probably Chaucer's. 19. Summary.
20. Probability of the results. 21. The external evidence.
22. The Glasgow MS. 23. Th. Thynne's Edition; 1532.
24. Reprints. 25. The Present Edition. 26. Some cor-
rections. 27. The French Text. 28, 29. Brief Analysis of
the French Poem : G. de Lorris. 30. Jean de Meun ; to the
end of Fragment B. 31. Gap in the Translation. 32. Frag-
ment C. 33. Chaucer's use of ' Le Roman.' 34. Meon's
French text

INTRODUCTION TO THE MINOR POEMS. i. Principles of selection.
2. Testimony of Chaucer regarding his Works. 3. Lydgate's
List. 4. Testimony of Shirley. 5. Testimony of Scribes.
6. Testimony of Caxton. 7. Early Editions of Chaucer.
8. Contents of Stowe's Edition (1561): Part I. Reprinted
Matter. 9. Part II. Additions by Stowe. 10. Part I. dis-
cussed. n. Part II. discussed. 12. Poems added by Speght.



vi CONTENTS.

PACK

13. Poems added by Morris. 14. Description of the MSS.
List of the MSS. 15. Remarks on the MSS. at Oxford.
16. MSS. at Cambridge. 17. London MSS. 18. I. A. B. C.
19. II. The Compleynt unto Pite. 20. III. The Book of
the Duchesse. 21. IV. The Compleynt of Mars. 22. V.
The Parlement of Foules. 23. VI. A Compleint to his Lady.
24. VII. Anelida and Arcite. 25. VIII. Chaucers Wordes
unto Adam. 26. IX. The Former Age. 27. X. Fortune.
28. XL Merciless Beauty. 29. XII. To Rosemounde.
30. XIII. Truth. 31. XIV. Gentilesse. 32. XV.
Lak of Sfedfastnesse. 33. XVI Lenvoy to Scogan. 34.
XVIL Lenvoy to Bukton. 35. XVI1L Compleynt of Venus.
36. XIX. The Compleint to his Purse. 37. XX. Proverbs.
38. XXI. Against Women Unconstaunt. 39. XXII. An
Amorous Complaint. 40. XXIII. Bnlade of Compleynt. 41.
Concluding Remarks 20

THE ROMAUNT OF THE ROSE.

FRAGMENT A. (with the French Text) 03

FRAGMENT B. (containing Northern forms) . .... 164

FRAGMENT C 229

THE MINOR POEMS.

I. An A. B. C. (with the French original) .... 261

II. The Compleynte unto Pite ...... 272

III. The Book of the Duchesse 277

IV. The Compleynt of Mars ...... 323

V. The Parlement of Foules . ..... 335

VI. A Compleint to his Lady ...... 360

VII. Anelida and Arcite 365

VIII. Chaucers Wordes unto Adam 379

IX. The Former Age 380

X. Fortune 383

XI. Merciles Beaute 387

XII. Balade to Rosemounde ....... 389

XIII. Truth 390

XIV. Gentilesse 392

XV. Lak of Stedfastnesse 394

XVI. Lenvoy to Scogan 396

XVIL Lenvoy to Bukton 398

XVIII. The Compleynt of Venus (with the French original) . 400

XIX. The Compleint of Chaucer to his empty Purse . . 405

XX. Proverbs of Chaucer 407

XXI. APPENDIX : Against Women Unconstaunt . . . 409

XXII. An Amorous Complaint . . . . . .411

XXIII. A Balade of Compleynt 415

NOTES TO THE ROMAUNT OF THE ROSB 417

NOTES TO THE MINOR POEMS 453



GENERAL INTRODUCTION.



THE present edition of Chaucer contains an entirely new Text,
founded solely on the manuscripts and on the earliest accessible
printed editions. For correct copies of the manuscripts, I am
indebted, except in a few rare instances, to the admirable texts
published by the Chaucer Society.

In each case, the best copy has been selected as the basis of
the text, and has only been departed from where other copies
afforded a better reading. All such variations, as regards the
wording of the text, are invariably recorded in the footnotes at
the bottom of each page ; or, in the case of the Treatise on the
Astrolabe, in Critical Notes immediately following the text.
Variations in the spelling are also recorded, wherever they can be
said to be of consequence. But I have purposely abstained from
recording variations of reading that are certainly inferior to the
reading given in the text.

The requirements of metre and grammar have been carefully
considered throughout. Beside these, the phonology and spelling
of every word have received particular attention. With the
exception of reasonable and intelligible variations, the spelling is
uniform throughout, and consistent with the highly phonetic
system employed by the scribe of the very valuable Ellesmere
MS. of the Canterbury Tales. The old reproach, that Chaucer's
works are chiefly remarkable for bad spelling, can no longer be
fairly made ; since the spelling here given is a fair guide to the
old pronunciation of nearly every word. For further particulars,
see the Introduction to vol. iv. and the remarks on Chaucer's
language in vol. v.

The present edition comprises the whole of Chaucer's Works,
whether in verse or prose, together with a commentary (contained
in the Notes) upon every passage which seems to present any
difficulty or to require illustration. It is arranged in six volumes,
as follows.

Vol. I. commences with a Life of Chaucer, containing all
the known facts and incidents that have been recorded, with



viii GENERAL INTRODUCTION.

authorities for the same, and dates. It also contains the
Romaunt of the Rose and the Minor Poems, with a special
Introduction and illustrative Notes. The Introduction discusses
the genuineness of the poems here given, and explains why certain
poems, formerly ascribed to Chaucer with more rashness than
knowledge, are here omitted.

The attempt to construct a reasonably good text of the
Romaunt has involved great labour; all previous texts abound
with corruptions, many of which have now for the first time been
amended, partly by help of diligent collation of the two authorities,
and partly by help of the French original.

Vol. II. contains Boethius and Troilus, each with a special
Introduction. The text of Boethius is much more correct than
in any previous edition, and appears for the first time with
modern punctuation. The Notes are nearly all new, at any rate
as regards the English version.

The text of Troilus is also a new one. The valuable { Corpus
MS.' has been collated for the first time; and several curious
words, which have been hitherto suppressed because they were
not understood, have been restored to the text, as explained
in the Introduction. Most of the explanatory Notes are new;
others have appeared in Bell's edition.

Vol. III. contains The House of Fame, the Legend of Good
Women, and the Treatise on the Astrolabe ; with special Intro-
ductions. All these have been previously edited by myself, with
Notes. Both the text and the Notes have been carefully revised,
and contain several corrections and additions. The latter part
of the volume contains a discussion of the Sources of the
Canterbury Tales.

Vol. IV. contains the Canterbury Tales, with the Tale of
Gamelyn appended. The MSS. of the Canterbury Tales, and
the mode of printing them, are discussed in the Introduction.

Vol. V. contains a full Commentary on the Canterbury Tales,
in the form of Notes. Such as have appeared before have
been carefully revised; whilst many of them appear for the
first time. The volume further includes all necessary helps
for the study of Chaucer, such as remarks on the pronunciation,
grammar, and scansion.

Vol. VI. contains a Glossarial Index and an Index of Names.



LIFE OF GEOFFREY CHAUCER.



*.* Many of the documents referred to in the foot-notes are printed at
length in Godwin's Life of Chaucer, 2nd ed. 1804 (vol. iv), or in the Life by
Sir H. Nicolas. The former set are marked (G.) ; the latter set are denoted
by a reference to ' Note A,' or ' Note B ' ; &c.

i. The name CHAUCER, like many others in England in
olden times, was originally significant of an occupation. The Old
French chaurier (for which see Godefroy's Old French Dictionary)
signified rather ' a hosier ' than ' a shoemaker,' though it was also
sometimes used in the latter sense. The modern French chaussc
represents a Low Latin calda, fern, sb., a kind of hose, closely
allied to the Latin calceus, a shoe. See Chausses, Chaussure, in the
New English Dictionary.

It is probable that the Chaucer family came originally from
East Anglia. Henry le Chaucier is mentioned as a citizen of
Norfolk in 1275 ; and Walter le Chaucer as the same, in 1292 *.
But Gerard le Chaucer, in 1296, and Bartholomew le Chaucer, in
1312-3, seem to have lived near Colchester 2 .

In several early instances, the name occurs in connexion with
Cordwainer Street, or with the small Ward of the City of London
bearing the same name. Thus, Baldwin le Chaucer dwelt in
' Cordewanerstrete ' in 1307; Elyas le Chaucer in the same, in
1318-9; Nicholas Chaucer in the same, in 1356; and Henry
Chaucer was a man-at-arms provided for the king's service by
Cordwanerstrete Ward 3 . This is worthy of remark, because, as



1 See Rot. Claus. 3 Edw. I., and Kirkpatrick's History of Religions Orders
in Norwich, pp. 109, 113. (The Athenaeum, Nov. 25, 1876 ; p. 688.)
a Rolls of Parliament, i. 234, 448.
" For authorities, see Riley's Memorials of London, pp. xxxiii, xxxiv.



x LIFE OF GEOFFREY CHAUCER.

we shall see presently, both Chaucer's father and his grandmother
once resided in the same street, the northern end of which is now
called Bow Lane, the southern end extending to Garlick Hithe.
(See the article on Cordwainer Street Ward in Stowe's Survey of
London.)

2. ROBERT LE CHAUCER. The earliest relative with whom
we can certainly connect the poet is his grandfather Robert, who
is first mentioned, together with Mary his wife, in 1307, when they
sold ten acres of land in Edmonton to Ralph le Clerk, for ioo^. 4
On Aug. 2, 13:0, Robert le Chaucer was appointed 'one of the
collectors in the port of London of the new customs upon wines
granted by the merchants of Aquitaine V It is also recorded that
he was possessed of one messuage, with its appurtenances, in
Ipswich fi ; and it was alleged, in the course of some law-proceedings
(of which I have more to say below), that the said estate was only
worth 20 shillings a year. He is probably the Robert Chaucer
who is mentioned under the date 1310, in the Early Letter-books
of the City of London 7 .

Robert Chaucer was married, in or before 1307 ''see above),
to a widow named Maria or Mary Heyroun 8 , whose maiden name
was probably Stace ; and the only child of whom we find any
mention was his son and heir, named John, who was the poet's
father. At the same time, it is necessary to observe that Maria
had a son still living, named Thomas Heyroun, who died in 1349 10 .



4 See The Athenaeum, Nov. 19, 1892, p. 704.

5 Life-Records of Chaucer (Chaucer Soc.), p- 128; The Athcnreum, Jan. 29,
1881, p. 165. From membrane 17 of the Fine Roll, 4 Edw. II. ; Parliamentary
Writs, vol. ii. pt. 2. p. 30.

6 The same, p. 126; from mem. 13 of the Coram Rege Roll of Hilary,
19 Edw. II. (1326).

7 Riley, Mem. London, p. xxxiii.

* From Richard Chaucer's will (below 1 ) ; see p. xiv.

' Inferred from law-proceedings (below) ; and cf. note 5, above. Thomas
Stace was appointed collector of customs on wine at Ipswich in 1310; Parl.
Writs, vol. ii. pt. 2.

' Thomas Heyroun, by his will dated April 7, 1349. and proved in the
Hustings Court of the City of London, appointed his brother [i.e. his half-
brother], John Chaucer, as his executor. In July of the same year, John
Chaucer, by the description of ' citizen and vintner, executor of the will of my
brother Thomas Heyroun,' executed a deed relating to some lands. See
Morris's Chaucer, i. 03, or Nicolas, Life of Chaucer, Note A; from the Records
oi the Hustings Court, 23 Edw. III.



RICHARD LE CHAUCER. xi

John Chaucer was born, as will be shewn, in 1312 ; and his father
Robert died before 1316 (Close Rolls, 9 Edw. II., p. 318).

3. RICHARD LE CHAUCER. Some years after Robert's death,
namely in 1323", his widow married for the third time. Her
third husband was probably a relative (perhaps a cousin) of her
second, his name being Richard le Chaucer, a vintner residing in
the Ward of Cordwainer Street ; respecting whom several par-
ticulars are known.

Richard le Chaucer was 'one of the vintners sworn at
St. Martin's, Vintry, in 1320, to make proper scrutiny of wines 12 ';
so that he was necessarily brought into business relations with
Robert, whose widow he married in 1323, as already stated.

A plea held at Norwich in 1326, and entered on mem. 13 of the
Coram Rege Roll of Hilary 19 Edw. II. 1 ", is, for the present
purpose, so important that I here quote Mr. Rye's translation
of the more material portions of it from the Life-Records of
Chaucer (Chaucer Soc.), p. 125 :

' London. Agnes, the widow of Walter de Westhale, Thomas Slace, Geoffrey
Stace, and Laurence ' Geffre) esman Stace **,' were attached to answer Richard
le Chaucer of London and Alary his wife on a plea that whereas the custody
of the heir and land of Robert le Chaucer, until the same heir became of
full age, belonged to the said Robert and Mary (because the said Robert
held his land in socage, and the said Mary is nearer in relationship to
the heir of the said Robert, and whereas the said Richard and Mary long
remained in full and peaceful seizin of such wardship, the said Agnes, Thomas,
Geoffrey, and Laurence by force and arms took sway John, the son and heir
of the said Robert, who was under age and in the custody of the said Richard
and Mary, and married him 10 against the will of the said R. and M. and of the
said heir, and also did other unlawful acts against the said R. and M., to the
grave injury of the said R. and M., and against the peace.

'And therefore the said R. and M. complain that, whereas the custody of
the land and heir of the said Robert, viz. of one messuage with its appur-
tenances in fpswich, until the full age of, &c., belonged, &c., . . because the
said Robert held the said messuage in socage, and the said Mary is nearer
in relationship to the said Robert, viz. mother of the said heir, and formerly

11 In December, 1324, Richard and Mary Chaucer declared that they had
' remained in full and peaceful possession of the said wardship [of John
Chaucer] fora long while, namely , for one year' See Life-Records (as in note 5),
p. 126.

12 Riley, Mem. London, p. xxxiii.

13 Placitorum Abbreviatio, temp. Ric. I. Edw. II., 1811; p. 354, col. 2;
The Athenaeum, Jan. 29, 1881, p. 165.

11 I.e. Laurence, the man of Geoffrey Stace.

ls They did not really succeed in this ; it was disproved.



xii LIFE OF GEOFFREY CHAUCER.

the wife of the said Robert, and (whereas) the said R. and M. remained in full
and peaceful seizin of the said wardship for along while, \\z. for one year ; they,
the said Agnes, T., G., and L., on the Monday [Dec. 3] before the feast of
St. Nicholas, in the eighteenth year of the present king [1324], . . stole and took
away by force and arms . . the said John, son and heir of the said Robert, who was
under age, viz. under the age of fourteen yean, and then in the wardship of
the said R. and M. at London, viz. in the Ward of Cordwancrstrete, and
married him to one foan, the daughter of IValter de Esthale [error for
Westhale~\, and committed other unlawful acts, &c.

' Wherefore they say they are injured, and have suffered damage to the
extent of 3OO/.'

The defence put in was

'That, according to the customs of the borough of Ipswich . . any heir under
age when his heirship shall descend to him shall remain in the charge of the
nearest of his blood, but that his inheritance shall not descend to him till he
has completed the age of twelve years . . and they say that the said heir of the
said Robert completed the age of twelve years before the suing out of the said
writ *:

And it was further alleged that the said Agnes, T., G., and L.
did not cause the said heir to be married.

' Most of the rest of the membrane,' adds Mr. Rye, ' is taken
up with a long technical dispute as to jurisdiction, of which the
mayor and citizens of London apparently got the best; for the
trial came on before R. Baynard and Hamo de Chikewell
[Chigwell] and Nicholas de Farndon (the two latter sitting on
behalf of the City) at St. Martin's the Great (le Grand), London,
on the Sunday [Sept. 7, 1326] next before the Nativity of the
B. V. M. [Sept. 8] ; when, the defendants making default, a
verdict was entered for the plaintiffs for 2507. damages.'

Further information as to this affair is given in the Liber Albus,
ed. Riley, 1859, vol. i. pp. 437-444. A translation of this
passage is given at pp. 376-381 of the English edition of the
same work, published by the same editor in 1861. We hence
learn that the Staces, being much dissatisfied with the heavy
damages which they were thus called upon to pay, attainted
Richard le Chaucer and his wife, in November, 1328, of commit-
ting perjury in the above-mentioned trial. But it was decided
that attaint does not lie as to the verdict of a jury in London ;
a decision so important that the full particulars of the trial and of
this appeal were carefully preserved among the city records.

16 As they were trying to make out a case, it is clear that John Chaucer was
still just under twelve on Dec. 3, 1324, when they abducted him.



RICHARD LE CHAUCER. xiii

Mr. Rye goes on to give some information as to a third
document relating to the same affair. It appears that Geoffrey
Stace next 'presented a petition to parliament (2 Edw. III., 1328,
no. 6), praying for relief against the damages of 250/1, which he
alleged were excessive, on the ground that the heir's estate was
only worth 2os. a year 17 . This petition sets out all the proceed-
ings, referring to John as " fuiz [fiz] et heire Robert le Chaucier,"
but puts the finding of the jury thus : " et trove fu qu'ils avoient
ravi le dit heire, tries ne mie mariee" and alleges that " le dit heire
est al large et ove [with] les avantditz Richard et Marie demourant
et unkore dismarie" ' The result of this petition is unknown.

From the above particulars I draw the following inferences.

The fact that Mary le Chaucer claimed to be nearer in
relationship to the heir (being, in fact, his mother) than the
Staces, clearly shews that they also were very near relations. We
can hardly doubt that the maiden name of Mary le Chaucer was
Stace, and that she was sister to Thomas and Geoffrey Stace.

In Dec. 1324, John le Chaucer was, according to his mother's
statement, ' under age '; i. e. less than fourteen years old.
According to the Staces, he had ' completed the age of twelve
before the suing out, &c.' We may safely infer that John was
still under twelve when the Staces carried him off, on Dec. 3,
1324. Hence he was born in 1312, and we have seen that
his father Robert married the widow Maria Heyroun not later
than 1307 ( 2). She was married to Richard in 1323 (one year
before 1324), and she died before 1349, as Richard was then
a widower.

The attempt to marry John to Joan de Westhale (probably his
cousin) was unsuccessful. He was still unmarried in Nov. 1328,
and still only sixteen years old. This disposes at once of an old
tradition, for which no authority has ever been discovered, that
the poet was born in 1328. The earliest date that can fairly be
postulated for the birth of Geoffrey is 1330; and even then
his father was only eighteen years old.

We further learn from Riley's Memorials of London (Pref.
p. xxxiii), that Richard Chaucer was a man of some wealth. He
was assessed, in 1340, to lend io/. towards the expenses of the
French war; and again, in 1346, for 61. and i mark towards

17 Rolls of Parliament, ii. 14. Mr. Rye prints ' nulson' in place of ' unkore.'



LIFE OF GEOFFREY CHAUCER.

the 3,ooo/. given to the king. In 1345, he was witness to
a conveyance of a shop situated next his own tenement and
tavern in La Reole or Royal Street, near Upper Thames Street.

The last extant document relative to Richard Chaucer is his
will. Sir H. Nicolas (Life of Chaucer, Note A) says that the will
of Richard Chaucer, vintner, of London, dated on Easter-day
(Apr. 12), 1349, was proved in the Hustings Court of the City of
London by Simon Chamberlain and Richard Litlebury, on the
feast of St. Margaret (July 20), in the same year. He bequeathed
his tenement and tavern, &c., in the street called La Reole, to the
Church of St. Aldermary in Bow Lane, where he was buried ; and
left other property to pious uses. The will mentions only
his deceased wife Mary and her son Thomas Heyroun ; and
appointed Henry at Strete and Richard Mallyns his executors 18 .
From this we may infer that his stepson John was, by this time,
a prosperous citizen, and already provided for.

The will of Thomas Heyroun (see the same Note A) was
dated just five days earlier, April 7, 1349, and was also proved in
the Hustings Court. He appointed his half-brother, John Chaucer,
his executor ; and on Monday after the Feast of St. Thomas the
Martyr 19 in the same year, John Chaucer, by the description of
' citizen and vintner, executor of the will of my brother Thomas
Heyroun,' executed a deed relating to some lands. (Records of
the Hustings Court, 23 Edw. III.)

It thus appears that Richard Chaucer and Thomas Heyroun
both died in 1349, the year of the first and the most fatal
pestilence.

4. JOHN CHAUCER. Of John Chaucer, the poet's father, not
many particulars are known. He was born, as we have seen,
about 1312, and was not married till 1329, or somewhat later.
His wife's name was Agnes, described in 1369 as the kinswoman
(consanguinea) and heiress of the city moneyer, Hamo de Copton,
who is known to have owned property in Aldgate 20 . He was

18 See the Calendar of Wills in the Hustings Court, by R. R. Sharpe, vol. i.

P- 59 1 -

19 Here Sir H. Nicolas inserts ' i3th of July,' which I do not understand.
His own Chronology of History correctly tells us that the day of St. Thomas
the Martyr is Dec. 29, which in 1349 fell on Tuesday. The Monday after it
was Jan. 4, 1350; the z.^rd year of Edw. III. ended Jan. 24, 1350.

' M Hustings Roll, Guildhall; see The Athenaeum, Dec. 13, 1873, p. 772;



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