Geoffrey Chaucer.

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That many a dreem ful score is for to

drede. 4299

' Lo, in the lyf of Seint Kenelm I rede,

That was Kenulphus sone, the noble kyng

Of Mercenrike, how Kenelm mette a


A lite er he was mordred, on a day
His mordre in his avysioun he say.
His norice hym expowned every deel
His swevene, and bad hym for to kepe

hym weel
For traisoun ; but he nas but seven yeer


And therfore litel tale hath he toold
Of any dreem, so hooly was his herte.
By God, I hadde levere than my sherte
That ye hadde rad his legende as have I.
Dame Pertelote, I sey yow trewely,
Macrobeus, that writ the avisioun
In Affrike of the worthy Cipioun,
Affermeth dremes, and seith that they


Warnynge of thynges that men after seen ;
And forther-moore, I prayyowlooketh wel
In the Olde Testament of Daniel,
If he heeld dremes any vanitee.

' Reed eek of Joseph, and ther shul

ye see 4320

Wher dremes be somtyme, I sey nat


Warnynge of thynges that shul after falle.
Looke of Egipte the kyng, daun Pharao,
His baker and his butiller also,
Wher they ne felte noon effect in dremes.
Whoso wol seken actes of sondry remes
May rede of dremes many a wonder thyng.
' Lo, Cresus, which that was of Lyde


Mette he nat that he sat upon a tree,
Which signified he sholde anhanged bee ?
' Lo heere Andromacha, Ectores wyf,
That day that Ector sholde lese his lyf,
She dremed on the same nyght biforn,
How that the lyf of Ector sholde be lorne,
If thilke day he wente into bataille ;
She warned hym, but it myghte nat

availle ;
He wente forth to fighte natheles,

4300. Kenehn, murdered by his tutor at the
desire of a wicked sister.

And he was slayn anon of Achilles ;
But thilke tale is al to longe to telle,
And eek it is ny day, I may nat dwelle ;
Shortly I seye, as for conclusioun, 4341
That I shal han of this avisioun
Adversitee ; and I seye forthermoor,
That I ne telle of laxatyves no stoor,
For they been venymes, I woot it weel ;
I hem diffye, I love hem never a deel !
' Now let us speke of myrthe, and

stynte al this ;

Madame Pertelote, so have I blis,
Of o thyng God hath sent me large grace ;
For whan I se the beautee of youre face,
Ye been so scarlet reed aboute youre

eyen, 435 i

It maketh al my drede for to dyen,
For, al-so siker as In principle,
Mtdier est hominis confusio,
Madame, the sentence of this Latyn is, \
" Womman is mannes joye, and al his/

blis " ; ^K

For whan I feele a-nyght your softe syde, \ f
Al be it that I may nat on yow ryde,
For that oure perche is maad so narwe, / *

alias !

I am so ful of joye and of solas, 4360

That I diffye bothe swevene and dreem ' :
And with that word he fly doun fro the


For it was day, and eke his hennes alle ;
And with a chuk he gan hem for to calle,
For he hadde founde a corn, lay in the


Real he was, he was namoore aferd,
He fethered Pertelote twenty tyme^V
And trad as ofte, er that it was pryme.)
JHe looketh as it were a grym leoun,
jAnd on his toos he rometh up and doun ;
sHym deigned nat to sette his foot to

grounde. 4371

He chukketh whan he hath a corn

And to hym rennen thanne his wyves


Thus roial, as a prince is in an halle,
Leve I this Chauntecleer in his pasture,
And after wol I telle his aventure.

4353. The real meaning of the Latin is : In the
beginning, woman is man's destruction.




v * r ^ 6 I

OW^> *

Whan that the monthe in which the

world bigan,
That highte March, whan God first

maked man,

Was complect, and [y-] passed were also,
Syn March bigan, thritty dayes and two,
Bifel that Chauntecleer jnjdjiisjgryde,
His sevene wyves walkynge by jiis_syde^

ie br

Caste up his eyen to the bright^ sonne
That in the signe of Taurus hadde y-ronne
Twenty degrees and oon, and som-what

And knew by kynde, and by noon oother

That it was pryme, and crew with blisful

'The sonne,' he seyde, 'is clomben up

on hevene

Fourty degrees and oon, and moore y-wis.
Madame Pertelote, my worldes blis, 4390
Herkneth thise blisful briddes how they

And se the fresshe floures how they

sprynge ;

Ful is myn herte of revel and solas ! '
But sodeynly hym fil a sorweful cas ;
For ever the latter ende of joy is wo.
iGod woot that worldly joye is soone
I ago,

And if a rethor koude faire endite,
He in a cronycle saufly myghte it write,
As for a sovereyn notabilitee. 4399

Now every wys man, lat him herkne me ;
This storie is al so trewe, I undertake,
As is the book of Launcelot de Lake,
That wommen holde in ful greet reverence.
Now wol I torne agayn to my sentence.

A colfox, ful of sly iniquitee,
That in the grove hadde wonned yeres


By heigh ymaginacioun forn-cast,
The same nyght thurgh-out the hegges


Into the yerd, ther Chauntecleer the faire
Was wont, and eek his wyves, to repaire ;
And in a bed of wortes stille he lay, 4411

4389. Fourty, "ft. Twenty ; but perhaps Chaucer
is laughing at the cock.

4399. E and Heng. assign the saying to Petrus

Til it was passed undren of the day,
Waitynge his tyme on Chauntecleer tio

falle ;

As gladly doon thise homycides alle /
That in await liggen to mordre men.^/

O false mordrour lurkynge in thy den !
O newe Scariot, newe Gerfyloun !
False dissymulour, O Greek Synoun,
That broghtest Troye al outrely to sorwe !

Chauntecleer, acursed be that morwe,
That thou into that yerd flaugh fro the

bemes ! . 4421

Thou were ful wel y- warned by thy dremes
That thilke day was perilous to thee ;
But what that God forwoot moot nedes


After the opinioun of certein clerkis.
Witnesse on hym that any parfit clerk is,
That in scole is greet altercacioun
In this mateere, and greet disputisoun,
And hath been of an hundred thousand

men ;

But I ne kan nat bulte it to the bren, 4430
As kan the hooly doctour Augustyn,
Or Boece, or the bisshope Bradwardyn,
Wheither that Goddes worthy forwityng
Streyneth me nedely to doon a thyng,
Nedely clepe I symple necessitee,
Or elles if free choys be graunted me
To do that same thyng, or do it noght,
Though God forwoot it er that it was

wroght ;

Or if his wityng streyneth never a deel,
But by necessitee condicioneel. 4440

1 wil nat han to do of swich mateere,
My tale is of a cok, as ye may heere,
That took his conseil of his wyf with sorwe,
To walken in the yerd upon that morwe
That he hadde met that dreem that I

yow tolde.

Wommennes conseils been ful ofte colde ; *
Wommannes conseil broghte us first to wo
And made Adam fro Paradys to go,
Ther as he was ful myrie and wel at

ese ; 4449

But for I noot to whom it myght displese,

4417. Genyloun, the betrayer of Roland
4432. Bocce, Boethius.

4432. Bradwardyn^ author of the ' De Causa
Dei contra Pelagium,' d. 1349.


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University of California Berkeley


Gift of
The Family of Sidney Howard










lobe l&ttton









i 908


First Edition 1898
Reprinted 1899, 1901, 1903, 1904, 1906, 1907, 1908










EXACTLY a third of a century ago, in the year 1864, the publishers of this
edition of Chaucer brought out their ' Globe ' edition of Shakespeare, and
it was their desire from the outset that it should be followed with as little
delay as possible by a similar edition of the works of the greatest of
his predecessors. The * Globe ' Shakespeare had been made possible
by the previous publication of the splendid ' Cambridge ' edition, in which
everything that industry and scholarship could effect had been done to
obtain a trustworthy text. It was naturally, therefore, to Cambridge
that Mr. Alexander Macmillan turned for an edition of Chaucer, and
in January 1864 he wrote to Henry Bradshaw, from whose Memoir by
Mr. G. W. Prothero I am quoting, 1 to ask him 'to join Mr. Earle and
Mr. Aldis Wright in editing a " Library" edition of Chaucer's works.' It is
clear that this ' Library ' edition was proposed mainly to settle the text for a
' Globe ' edition, and it seems almost immediately to have been arranged that
the Clarendon Press, with which Mr. Macmillan had intimate relations,
should have the honour of publishing the ' Library ' edition, and that the
text should afterwards be used for the 'Globe.' 2 In March 1866 Mr.
Macmillan could write to Bradshaw of his delight at hearing that ' the
great Chaucer' was in 'so prosperous a condition,' and of his willingness
to wait for the ' Globe ' edition till after its completion ; but a year or two
later, Mr. Prothero tells us, it became apparent that the prospect of a large
edition was becoming very uncertain, and the idea of the independent
publication of a ' Globe ' Chaucer was revived. 1 870 brought a new scheme,
Professor Earle retiring from the task and Bradshaw undertaking to edit

1 A Memoir of Henry Bradshaw, Fellow of King's College, Cambridge, and
University Librarian. By G. W. Prothero ( London : Kegan Paul, Trench and Co. , 1888),
page 1 08.

2 This seems the most probable explanation of the apparent discrepancy between Mr.
Prothero's precise statement already quoted and his subsequent remark (p. 223) that
'the standard edition of Chaucer, to range with that of Shakespeare,' was undertaken
in 1864 by Professor Earle, with Mr. Aldis Wright and Mr. Bradshaw as collaborators,
for the Clarendon Press.


the ' Library ' edition for the Clarendon Press, with Mr. Aldis Wright and
Professor Skeat as his collaborators, and twenty-four years afterwards this
idea bore fruit in the noble ' Oxford Chaucer ' edited by Professor Skeat,
to which it is a pleasure to the present editors to doff their caps. But in
the seventies Chaucer had still to stand waiting. The ' Globe ' edition, as
Mr. Prothero remarks, fared no better than the ' Library ' one. * From
time to time Mr. Macmillan and Dr. Furnivall stirred Bradshaw up, but to
no purpose. At length, in 1879, it was suggested that Bradshaw and
Furnivall should do the edition together, and Bradshaw assented. They
got as far as discussing the title-page, on which Bradshaw wanted his
partner's name to stand first ; some specimen pages were put in type "
and there the matter ended. In February 1886 Bradshaw died,
having done for Chaucer what he had done for many other subjects
marked out the lines on which alone good work could be done, and
communicated to others something of his own enthusiasm. That so much
of his learning should have died with him, is a calamity which Chaucer-
students have to regret in common with philologists, bibliographers, and
antiquaries of every kind. In December 1887, with the lightheartedness
of his inextinguishable youth, Dr. Furnivall invited the present writer to
become his collaborator, and an agreement with the Messrs. Macmillan
was duly signed by us both, embracing both a * Library ' and a ' Globe '
edition. But, as I have already written, 'the giant in the partnership
had been used for a quarter of a century to doing, for nothing, all the hard
work for other people,' and, like Bradshaw, 'could not spare from his
pioneering the time necessary to enter into the fruit of his own Chaucer
labours. Thus the partner who was not a giant was left to go on pretty
much by himself.' l With the Canterbury Tales there was no great difficulty,
for the seven manuscripts printed by the Chaucer Society made it possible
to produce an adequate text without other help. But for most of the rest
of Chaucer's work it was essential for success to get into touch with the
manuscripts themselves, and this was for me impossible. Years previously
Bradshaw had written, in excuse for his failure to produce a ' Globe ' text,
' the fact is that the work would require an amount of daylight leisure
which I can't give, and which no amount of money would enable me to
buy,' and this humbler librarian was pulled up by the same difficulty.
Only the length of the King's Library separated me from all the Chaucer
manuscripts of the British Museum, but though the consciousness that they
were there was pleasing, they were as inaccessible for continuous study as
those of Oxford or Cambridge. Fortunately, I was able to find, with Dr.
FurnivalPs aid, first one, and then a second, and then a third helper, who
could not only work at the treasures which a librarian may help to guard
but must not study for his own ends, but who also possessed the scientific

1 Preface to the ' Eversley ' edition of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (Macmillan, 1894).


training in the English language for which Oxford offered far fewer
opportunities when I was an undergraduate than it does now. It is
pleasant to me to know that two of my collaborators have completed this
training at the feet of those distinguished foreign scholars, Ten Brink and
Zupitza ; Dr. Heath and myself, like Chaucer, are Londoners ; Professor
McCormick is a successor of the Scottish poets and students who in the
fifteenth century did so much for Chaucer's honour ; and Professor Liddell is
an American just called to the Chair of English Literature in the University
of Texas. Thus in this popular edition of Chaucer, which, mainly through
the steady persistence of the publishers, now sees the light a third of a
century after its first proposal, the final workers may at least claim that
they represent, however inadequately, all the different countries in which
their favourite poet has been especially loved and studied.

In the division of labour which has thus been effected I have myself re-
mained responsible for the Canterbury Tales, the Legende of Good Women,
the Glossary, and the General Introduction ; Professor Liddell has taken
the Boece, the Treatise on the Astrolabe, and the Romaunt of the Rose j
Professor McCormick, Troilus and Criseydej Dr. Heath, the Hous of Fame,
Parlement of Foules, and all the shorter pieces. Each editor is responsible
for his own work and for that only, and in some minor matters, as will be
explained, we have each gone our own way. In the main essential, how-
ever, we have been from the first in entire agreement, for we all believe
that in the present stage of our knowledge the most conservative treatment,
consistent with the necessities of common sense and the known rules of
Chaucerian usage, is also the best. We have endeavoured, therefore, as
far as may be, to produce texts which shall offer an accurate reflection of
that MS. or group of MSS. which critical investigation has shown to be the
best, with only such emendation upon the evidence of other manuscripts as
appeared absolutely necessary, and with the utmost parsimony of 'conjecture.'
Our notes of variant readings have been greatly curtailed by consideration
of space, but we have endeavoured to record most of those which have any
literary or metrical importance, and I think I may say that in some
cases, notably in the Boece, Troilus, and Hous of Fame, a real step
forward has been taken towards a thoroughly critical text. As regards
spelling, we are agreed in our dislike to any attempt at a uniform ortho-
graphy determined by philological considerations. In the present state
of our knowledge any such attempt must come perilously near that
'putting our own crotchets in place of the old scribes' habits' which
Mr. Bradshaw once deprecated in editions of mediaeval Latin, and which
is as little to be desired as it is difficult to carry out. At the same
time, every manuscript has its percentage of clerical errors or unusually
repellent forms, and to reproduce these in a popular edition would be in the
former case absurd, in the latter more or less undesirable. Thus, while we


have all adopted the modern usage of u and v, i and j, in other matters
each editor has used his own judgment as to the extent of alteration
necessary, and has explained what he has done in his introductory remarks.
With our common belief that the difficulties raised by variations of spelling
have been absurdly exaggerated, and our knowledge of how the balance of
advantage shifts with every change of manuscripts, we see no reason to
regret that while in some cases a few uncouth forms have been left in order
that it might be understood that the text is taken, with only specified
alterations, from a given manuscript, in other instances it has seemed ad-
visable to do more to conciliate the eye of a modern reader. Where such
alterations have been made, forms found in the Ellesmere MS. of the
Canterbury Tales have been adopted.

Our refusal to reduce the spelling of the manuscripts to a dead level oi
philological correctness were this attainable has compelled us to use an
unobtrusive dot to indicate when the letter e is to be fully sounded. This
is the less to be regretted as Chaucer's usage in this respect is not quite
so rigidly uniform as it is sometimes represented, and few readers will be
inclined to grumble at this help which we have endeavoured to offer as
modestly as possible.

As regards the order in which Chaucer's works are printed in this edition,
the Canterbury Tales have been placed first, a precedence which was
assigned them in all the old editions, and which is now further justified by
our knowledge that they include some of the poet's earliest work, as well
as much of his latest. The other pieces are arranged, to the best of my
ability, in their chronological order, the Minor Poems being roughly grouped
together as Earlier and Later.

There is one last word which I should like to add. The appearance oi
this * Globe ' edition, so soon after the Oxford Chaucer and the Students
Chaucer, which we owe to Professor Skeat, may perhaps seem superfluous,
and even intrusive. Against such a criticism the fact that the publishers
have contemplated this edition since 1864, while the present writer began
it in 1887, these being personal matters, would be no good defence. But
I think the case for the present book can be put on higher ground than
this. I am so good a Chaucer-lover as to hope that in the near future the
student may have not merely two texts from which to choose, but half a
dozen. So long as each editor does his work afresh, each new attempt
must add something to the common stock. Where independent examina-
tion of the materials gathered by the Chaucer Society, or still unprinted,
has led to different results, the best text will in the end survive ; where the
results are the same, every fresh witness adds to the authority of the last.
In some cases the texts formed by my colleagues appear to me to take the
more adventurous course ; but, for myself, the results I have to show for
rny own collations must set me quoting :


For wel I wot, that ye ban her-biforne
Of makynge ropen and lad awey the corne,
And I come after glenynge here and there,
And am ful glad if I may finde an ere
Of any goodly word that ye han left.

I hope that, more especially in the Legende, some three or four of such
'goodly words' may be found, but in editing both this poem and the
Canterbury Tales, and even more in the tedious task of compiling a glossary,
my admiration for the thoroughness and precision of my predecessor has
been continually increased. But if some future editor can find new manu-
scripts or overlooked readings helpful to a better text, I am sure that Dr.
Skeat will join me in congratulating him on his good luck.




A. The Prologue . . . i
Knight's Tale . . .13
Miller's Tale .... 44
Reeve's Tale. . . -53
Cook's Tale . . . -59

B. Man of Law's Tale . . 63
Shipman's Tale ... 79
Prioress's Tale . . .85
Chaucer's Tale of Sir Thopas . 89
Chaucer's Tale of Melibeus . 92
Monk's Tale . . . .120
Nun's Priest's Tale . .132

C. Doctor's Tale . . .141
Pardoner's Tale . , ,147

D. Wife of Bath's Prologue . . 154
Wife of Bath's Tale . .166
Friar's Tale . . . .172
Summoner's Tale . . .178

E. Clerk of Oxford's Tale . . 186 *
Merchant's Tale . . . 203

F. Squire's Tale . . .219
Franklin's Tale . . .228

G. Second Nun's Tale . . 239
Canon's Yeoman's Tale . . 250

H. Manciple's Tale . . .261
I. Parson's Tale . . . 265
Here taketh the Makere of this
Book his Leve . . .310


The Dethe of Blaunche the

Duchesse (xxxii) . . .311

The Compleynte unto Pite (xxxv) . 326

Chaucer's ABC (xxxiv) . . 327

The Compleynte of Mars (xxxvi) . 329

A Compleynte to his Lady (xxxvii) 334

The Compleynte of Faire Anelida

and False Arcite (xxxvii) . . 336

The Parlement of Foules (xxxix) . 341

BOECE (xl) 352


HIS OWNE SCRYVEYNE (xliii) . 558

THE Hous OF FAME (xliii) . . 558



To Rosemounde (xlvi) , . 627

The Former Age (xlvii) . . 627

Fortune (xlvii) .... 628

Truth (xlvii) .... 630

Gentilesse (xlviii) . . . 630

Lak of Stedfastnesse (xlix) . . 630

Lenvoy de Chaucer a Scogan (1) . 631

The Compleynt of Venus (1) . 632

Lenvoy de Chaucer a Bukton (li) . 633
The Compleynt of Chaucer to his

Purse (li) .... 634

Proverbe of Chaucer (lii) . . 634


Merciles Beaute (lii) . . . 634
Balade ( ' Madame, for your newe-

fangelnesse') (lii) . . . 635

Compleynt Damours (liii) . . 635

Balade of Compleynte (liii) . . 637

Balade that Chaucier made (liii) . 637





* The bracketed references in Roman numerals are to the pages of the Introduction which
concern the poem.



GEOFFREY CHAUCER was the son of John Chaucer, a citizen and vintner of London.
His grandfather, Robert le Chaucer, the first member of the family of whom we hear,
was in 1310 appointed one of the collectors in the Port of London of the new customs
upon wine granted by the merchants of Aquitaine. At the time of his death Robert
held a small property in Ipswich of the annual value of twenty shillings or there-
abouts, i.e. some ^"15 of our present money. The ultimate remainder of other lands
in Suffolk was settled on his son John (the poet's father), and apparently for the sake
of this property the lad was kidnapped on 3rd December 1324, when he was between
twelve and fourteen years of age, with the object of forcibly marrying him to a
certain Joan de Westhale, who had also an interest in it. John's stepfather 1 took up
his cause ; his kidnappers were fined ^250 (a crushing amount in those days), and
from a subsequent plea to Parliament for the mitigation of this penalty we learn that
in 1328 John Chaucer was still unmarried. On the 1 2th June 1338 a protection against
being sued in his absence was granted to him with some forty-five others who were
crossing the sea with the King, and ten years later he acted as deputy to the King's
Butler in the port of Southampton. At the time of his death, in 1366, he owned a
house in Thames Street, London, and was married to Agnes, niece of Hamo de
Compton, 2 whom we first hear of as his wife in 1349, and who, soon after his death,
married again another vintner, Bartholomew atte Chapel, in May 1367. Thus we
know that the poet was born after 1328, that (if his father was only married once)
his mother was this Agnes, niece of Hamo de Compton, and that he may have been
born in the house in Thames Street, which he subsequently inherited and sold. In
October 1386, when he was called upon to give evidence in the suit between Richard,
Lord Scrope, and Sir Robert Grosvenor, his age was entered as ' forty years or more,'
a statement the value of which is diminished, but not destroyed, by the proved care-
lessness of entries as to one or two other witnesses. We shall find that the date of
about 1340, which this entry suggests as that of Chaucer's birth, fits in very fairly

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