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The original impulse toward the present work was given in the
summer of 1908 by Dr. Furnivall, In a conversation during one of
those memorable excursions on the Thames, he expressed the belief
that the time had arrived to undertake a comprehensive sweeping-up
of the material in Middle English verse. So long as it is necessary in
embarking on any particular inquiry in this field to make a general
search through the manuscript collections, literary researches in Middle
English must continue to be laborious and uncertain, for no secure
foundations can be laid except upon the basjs of complete knowledge
of the original sources. Middle English bibliographies have been
compiled hitherto on the basis of printed texts alone. Each year,
however, sees the publication of additional texts, so that these biblio-
graphies stand in need of continual revision ; moreover, the student
who seeks information concerning materials still unprinted finds in
them no assistance whatever. The manuscripts themselves, on the
other hand, must always constitute the final and unchanging basis for
our knowledge of this early literature. Accordingly, in compiling this
Register of Middle English Verse the manuscripts rather than printed
texts have been taken as the basis.

The restriction of the Register to include only religious and didactic
verse has been dictated by the purely practical consideration that the
secular verse has already been so much more thoroughly dealt with in
printed editions that to include it would have swollen the work with
repetitions of much that is already on record. It may readily be
admitted that the limitation is attended by obvious disadvantages.


From the standpoint of the history of the language, for example, it
would have been more satisfactory to register all the poetry within the
Middle English period in the compass of a single volume. Again,
one may regret a process of selection which excludes a portion of
the work of well-known poets like Lydgate and Hoccleve, though
admitting the majority of their poems. Thus the Troy Book and the
Siege of Thebes are omitted, while the Fall of Princes, being essentially
didactic in purpose, is included. Nor is the line between didactic and
secular literature always easy to draw. One might urge, for example,
that the Confessio Amantis should have been admitted since it is
arranged upon the scheme of the Deadly Sins. But in this case the
narratives themselves so far outweigh in interest the didactic frame-
work that it was classed as a secular poem and accordingly was
excluded. Though in exceptional cases it may be difficult to define
the boundary between secular and didactic poetry, in general the
distinction is perfectly clear. No such close relationship exists
between them as that which links didactic and religious verse. These
two classes are bound together so closely that it would be impossible
to separate them without causing infinite confusion.

The scope of the present Register may perhaps be defined most
clearly by the method of elimination. The following classes of poems
have not been included : (i) chronicle histories and political pieces,
(2) romances, (3) secular lyrics, (4) charms, (5) alchemical poems,
(6) dramatic texts. Cases of the first class rarely presented any
difficulty. Under the second heading Sir Iswnbras was excluded,
although the closely related Life of St. Ettstas was admitted as
belonging among the Saints' Lives. On the other hand, the King of
Tars, although often listed among the Romances, was included as
being properly a miracle rather than a romance. Charms and
alchemical poems, though usually coloured by religious phraseology,
really constitute distinct literary types easily separable from the
general current of religious and didactic material. For the same



reason dramatic texts — even religious plays— have been omitted.
The body of English dramatic poetry has already been made acces-
sible through the labours of students in this special field, and the
inclusion of this material here would have encumbered the list of
manuscripts without yielding any practical advantage.

The treatment of Chaucerian pieces may perhaps need a special
word of explanation. Several of Chaucer's minor poems — the
ABC Hymn, Truth, Gentilesse, Fortune, Lak of Stedfastnes, and the
Proverbs — clearly come within the scope of the Register. Two of the
Canterbury Tales, also, those told by the Prioress and the Second Nun,
belong definitely to the domain of religious literature, and are often
found, apart from the other Tales, in miscellanies of religious verse.
Nevertheless I have not thought it necessary to record the occurrence
of these two pieces in all the manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales,
inasmuch as the contents of these Chaucerian codices are fully
described in the Chaucer Society's publications and elsewhere.
Accordingly, I have contented myself with registering religious and
didactic pieces by Chaucer which occur separately or in miscellaneous

The chronological limits of the Register may be stated approxi-
mately as the three centuries extending from 1200 to 1500. With
the exception of the canticles of St. Godric none of the material here
included can certainly be assigned to a date earlier than the beginning
of the thirteenth century. Among the earliest compositions of this
period it is not always easy to draw the line between irregular
alliterative verse and prose. Some early pieces, such as St. Marherete
and St. Jidiaiia and the homily Sawles Warde, though characterized
by alliteration, have been excluded because they afford only slight
traces of metrical form.

The year 1500 has been chosen as the downward limit on literary,
linguistic, and palaeographical grounds, though any definite boundary
must be more or less arbitrary. There are few poets of note whose



work carries over from the fifteenth century to the sixteenth. Again,
with the beginning of the sixteenth century humanism and religious
change combined to introduce into the poetry of England many
variations in both manner and theme. Moreover, the end of the
fifteenth century is ordinarily taken by philologists as marking the
close of the Middle English period. Finally, in the matter of palaeo-
graphy a fairly clear line of distinction can be drawn between fifteenth
and sixteenth-century manuscripts. Though, for all these reasons, the
year 1500 has been fixed as the terminus ad quern, this limit is
employed with reference to the date of composition rather than to the
date of the manuscript in which a given piece is contained. Conse-
quently, in the case of sixteenth-century compilations like the Banna-
tyne and Maitland MSS., such of their contents as were composed
before the end of the fifteenth century have been included.

The general plan of the Register is so obvious that it may be stated
in the briefest terms. The reader will find in Volume I a list of all
known manuscript material arranged in the order of the manuscripts
in which it is preserved. The larger part of Volume II will consist of
an alphabetical index of first lines, with citation under each entry of
all manuscripts containing the piece in question and with references to
printed texts in the case of those which have already been published.
For convenience an index of subjects and titles will also be appended,
for the purpose of bringing together all poems, for example, which
celebrate the Joys of the Blessed Virgin or the life of a particular
saint. The insertion of titles in this index will make it possible to
refer to poems like the Handlyng of Synne, Pricke of Conscience, or
Speciihim Vite, without first looking up the opening lines. In the case
of the South English Legendary or the Northern Homily Collection
this index becomes not merely a convenience but a necessity. For it
is impossible in the index of first lines to deal with these collections
as units on account of the wide diversity in arrangement and contents
which the manuscripts exhibit. Accordingly, it has been necessary to



enter separately the several saints' lives, homilies, and * narrationes ' of
which these collections are composed. In the index of subjects and
titles, however, under 'South English Legendary* and 'Northern
Homily Collection ', one will find assembled a general list of the
manuscripts of these treatises, including the numerous fragments and
extracts from them which occur separately.

The order which has been followed in the List of Manuscripts needs
no explanation except, perhaps, in the case of the Bodleian MSS.
Persons accustomed to the designation of these manuscripts according
to their numbers in the several collections, Laud, Ashmole, Rawlinson,
etc., may at first be disconcerted to find them here arranged according
to their order in the Summary Catalogue. The adoption of the
Summary Catalogue numbers was, however, inevitable, since these
alone afford a general series embracing the whole of the Bodleian MSS.,
and since any system based upon the multitude of special collections
would have resulted in an arrangement highly complicated and con-
fusing. With the publication of the earlier volumes of the Summary
Catalogue, which may shortly be expected, these numbers will probably
come to be used more and more in place of the others. In the Register
the Summary Catalogue number is directly followed in each instance
by the number assigned to the manuscript in the special collection to
which it belongs, in order to facilitate identification with references
found elsewhere.

In the case of the British Museum MSS. the special collections,
Arundel, Cotton, Egerton, etc., are ranged in alphabetical sequence.
The Sloane collection, being in reality the beginning of the numerical
series which is continued by the Additional MSS., has been placed
immediately before the latter. With regard to the scattered collections
of manuscripts outside of Oxford, Cambridge, and London, it will
suffice to refer the reader to the Table of Contents, which exhibits
the general plan followed in arranging these collections with page
references to the several collections.

ix b


Some discrepancies will be found, notably in the case of Cotton and
Harley MSS., between the folio numbers given in the Register and
those cited for the same pieces in the manuscript catalogues as
well as in earlier prints. This variation is due to the fact that since
the publication of the older catalogues the folios of these manuscripts
have been recollated and the numbering altered. The folio numbers
in the Register have been taken in every case from the manuscripts
themselves and represent their present numbering.

In putting forth in the present volume the results of researches
which were first systematically begun in the autumn of 1911, I am
well aware that the materials here collected are incomplete. Some
important Middle English manuscripts are preserved in private
libraries to which I have not succeeded in gaining access. Here and
there, in the hands of collectors no doubt there are also a considerable
number of others of which I have no knowledge. By way of extenua-
tion it may perhaps be proper to plead the difficulty under which
I have laboured in being obliged to carry forward this investigation by
means of trans-Atlantic pilgrimages during the intervals of regular
academic occupations. Moreover, the outbreak of the war has added
a further obstacle to the examination of manuscripts remaining in
private hands. In spite of these difficulties, however, the amount of
material which has been brought together has exceeded my expecta-
tions, and the results as they stand will, I hope, prove useful to students
of our early literature.

It would be a pleasure, were it possible, to acknowledge in detail
the host of obligations incurred in collecting the materials which are
here presented. For numerous courtesies and generous assistance in
furthering my inquiries I can only express here in general terms my
hearty appreciation and thanks. But my large indebtedness to the
authorities of the Oxford and Cambridge libraries and of the British
Museum cannot be passed over without explicit acknowledgement.
At the Bodleian, through the courtesy of Mr. Falconer Madan, Bodley's



Librarian, and Mr. H. H. E. Craster, I was able to refer to the un-
printed sheets of the forthcoming volumes of the Summary Catalogue;
both of them, also, have been most obliging in supplying information
and answering numerous queries. At the Cambridge University
Library Mr. Francis Jenkinson, the Librarian, was extremely kind in
affording me facilities for prosecuting my investigations,and Mr. Charles
Sayle responded cheerfully to repeated appeals for information.
Mr. Stephen Gaselee, Librarian at Magdalene College, not only accorded
me the fullest opportunities to examine the manuscripts in the historic
Pepys collection, but has also proved himself a friend by his liberal
hospitality and numerous kindly offices.

At the British Museum I am indebted to Mr. Gilson, Keeper of
Manuscripts, for courteous compliance with many requests. My obliga-
tions to Mr. J. A. Herbert, Assistant Keeper of Manuscripts, are such
as cannot easily be reckoned. He has enabled me to avail myself of
the new Catalogue of Royal MSS., not yet published, and has placed
at my disposal his own notes on manuscripts recently acquired by the
Museum. Moreover, he has volunteered valuable information in regard
to material in private collections, and has at all times rendered every
possible assistance. I desire also to express thanks to Messrs. Wood
and Flower of the Students' Room for the patience they have shown
in helping to decipher difficult readings.

For information concerning the Lincoln Cathedral MSS. I am under
obligations to the Reverend Reginald M. Woolley, Minting Rectory,
Horncastle, who is engaged in cataloguing these manuscripts. He has
readily responded to my inquiries, and has provided me with descrip-
tions of several bits of verse which otherwise would have escaped me.
To my former student, Miss Gertrude H. Campbell, I am greatly
obliged for completing the reading of proof-sheets of the material in
the British Museum, which were still unfinished when my sailing day
arrived ; and also for making several excursions on my behalf to
outside libraries which I found it impossible to visit.



After the List of Manuscripts was in type another of my students,
Miss Yvonne Stoddard, kindly sent me information concerning a series
of short pieces of verse occurring in several manuscripts of the Fasci-
culus Morum^ which she is engaged in editing. Many manuscripts of
this Latin treatise survive, but a number of them lack the passages in
English. I avail myself gratefully of Miss Stoddard's collation of the
four Bodleian MSS. which contain the English pieces, and regret that
I have no opportunity to examine other texts of the Fasciculus.

Finally, it remains to express my deep appreciation of the encourage-
ment in this undertaking which I have received from Mr. A. W. Pollard.
His interest in the Register began when it was still a nebular hypo-
thesis ; it was he who first suggested its pubHcation by the Biblio-
graphical Society ; and during every stage of its progress I have
profited greatly by his aid and counsel.

C. B.

Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, March 1916.




Bodleian Library ^ i

Laud MSS. p. i, DigbyMSS. p. 17, Bodley MSS. p. 21 (see also p. 119),
Arch. Selden MSS. p. 38, e MusEeo MSS. p. 45, Greaves MSS. p. 47,
Fairfax MSS. p. 47, Vernon MS. ^^49, Hatton MSS. p. 71, |unius MSS.
p. Ti^ Ashmole'MSS. p. 73, Tanner MSS. p. 93, Rawlinson MSS. p. 97,
Gough MSS. p. 109, Douce MSS. p. no, AdditionalMSS. p. 120 (see
also p. 126), Eng. poet. MSS. p. 122 (see also p. 129 f.), Bodley rolls
MS. p. 128, Liturgical MS. p. 129, Eng. theol.'MS. p. 130, Kent tharter
p. 130.

Oxford Colleges iqi

Balliol p. 131, Christ Church p. 139, Corpus Chnsti p. 139, Exeter
p. 144, Jesus p. 144, Magdalen p. 146, Merton p. 146, New Coll. p. 148,
Oriel p. 149, Queen's p. 149, St. John's p. 150, Trinity p. 151, University
Coll. p. 156.

Cambridge University 158

Dd. MSS. p. 158, Ee. MSS. p. i68, Ff. MSS. p. 178, Gg. MSS. p. 183,
Hh. MSS. p. 192, li. MSS. p. 194, Kk. MSS. p. 196, LI. MSS. p. 198,
Mm. MSS. p. 199, Oo. MS. p. 199, Additional MSS. p. 199.

Cambridge Colleges 303

Caius p. 203, Corpus Christi p. 206, Emmanuel p. 212, Jesus p. 212,
King's p. 214, Magdalene p. 216 (Pepys MSS. p. 216), Newnham p. 226,
Pembroke p. 226, Queen's p. 227, St. John's p. 228, Sidney Sussex
p. 233, Trinity p. 234, Trinity Hall p. 255.

Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (M*=Clean MSS.) . « . 256




British Museum 359

Arundel MSS. p. 259, Cotton MSS. p. 264, Egerton MSS. p. 287,
Harley MSS. p. 303, Lansdowne MSS. p. 357, Royal MSS. p. 359,
Stowe MSS. p. 369, Sloane MSS. p. 372, Additional' MSS. p. 382.

Other Libraries in London 425

College of Arms p. 425, Gray's Inn p. 426, Inner Temple p. 426, Lincoln's
Inn p. 426, Record Office p. 426, Society of Antiquaries p. 426, Sion
College p. 427, Westminster Abbey p. 427, Lambeth Palace p. 427.

Cathedral Libraries 444

Canterbury p. 444, Durham p. 444 (Durham University p. 444), Hereford
p. 446, Lichfield p. 447, Lincoln p. 447, Oxford p. 449, Salisbury p. 449,
Southwell p. 450, Worcester p. 450, York p. 452.

Various Colleges and Public Libraries .... 453

Beaumont Coll. p. 452, Bridgwater Corporation p. 452, Dulwich Coll.
p. 453, Eton Coll. p. 453, Manchester: (i) Chetham Library p. 453,
(2) Rylands Library p. 455, Marlborough Vicarage Library p. 455,
National Library of Wales p. 456, St. Cuthbert's Coll, p. 456, Shrewsbury
School p. 456, Stonyhurst Coll. p. 456.

Private Collections in England and Wales . . 457

Amherst MSS. p. 457, Ashburnham MSS. p. 458, Berkeley MS. 459,
Billyngs MS. p. 459, Brome MS. p. 459, Burton MS. p. 460, Bute MS.
p. 460, Capesthorne MS. p. 466, Castle Howard MS. p. 466, Challoner
MS. p. 467, Cockerell MS. p. 467, Ellesmere MSS. p. 467, Gollancz MS.
p. 468, Graham MS. p. 468, Greg MSS. p. 468, Gurney MSS. p. 469,
Helmingham Hall MSS. p. 470, Holkham Hall MS. p. 472, Lord Howard
de Walden MS. p. 472, Huth MS. p. 472, llchester MS. p. 473, Ingilby
MS. p. 473, Longleat MSS. p. 473, Mostyn Hall MSS. p. 475, Osterley
Park MS. p. 476, Peniarth MS. p. 476, Petworth MSS. p. 476, Phillipps
MSS. p. 477, Porkington MSS. p. 493, Quaritch MSS. p. 494, Raines
MS. p. 495, Robartes MS. p. 495, Stonor Park MS. p. 495, Strong MS.
p. 495, Thompson MSS. p. 495, Trentham Hall MS. p. 496, Duke of
Westminster MS. p. 496, Wollaton Hall MSS. p. 496, Wrest Park MS.
p. 497.




Scotland 497

Edinburgh: Advocates Library p. 497, Royal Coll. of Physicians p. 508,
Univ. of Edinburgh p. 510, Glasgow: Hunterian ' Museum p. 512,
Blairs College p. 513.

Ireland 513

Asloan MS. p. 513, Trinity Coll. Dublin p. 514.

Continental Libraries 517

Paris: Bibl. Nationale p. 517, Bibl. St. Genevieve p. 517, Gottingen,
Univ. Library p. 5 17, Leyden, Univ. Library, p. 5 18, Ghent, Univ. Library
p. 519, Naples, Royal Library p. 520.

American Libraries 520

Garrett MSS. (Princeton Univ.) p. 520, Harvard Univ. MSS. p. 520,
Boston Museum of Fine Arts p. 521, New York: Henry Huntington
MSS. p. 521, J. Pierpont Morgan MS. p. 521, Plimpton MS. 521.

Addenda 532




505. Laud Misc. 673. cl^/ij^i^Hir^'-K^ '^*''^" ^ XV cent. I

1^. The book of the gou^mauwce of kinges and of prynces. |

1/ God almyghty save I conferme our kyng. . , ' j

6$^. Laud Misc. 33. Beg. XV cent. i

cAii\ [An ' Erthe upon Erthe ' poem.] j

^ Whan lyf is moost louyd t deej> is moost hatyd. ■

112^. [An English version of the poem, Cur mundus rm'litati] j

Whi is the word belouyd that fals is and veyn. i

114^. [On a fly-leaf in a hand of the end of XV cent.] I

And my \ ■ '. ■ ,

"•^ ^y"- Of m/ f'-d- ^"^ ^i^^^:';,v - '■■ ■

And my/

668. Laud Misc. 174. XV cent,

i^ i*-24b. [Maydestone's paraplirase of the Seven Penitential Psalms.] 'h {^^"O^C'^'

To goddis worchip ]?* dere vs boujt. v ^

) 798. Laud Misc. 683. Poems by Lydgate. XV cent. ■

fi.V j^ I ^ [The Fifteen O's of Christ.] ^

^ 7 JnC O blyssed lord my lord O Cryst Ihu. '\

J<f" Hauyng a conseit in my sympill wyt.

1 2». A compleywt ]>* crist maketh of his passiouw.

Man to refourme thyn exil and thy loos. "f

I had
y^^ I lent
I askyd
I lost


1 4b. [Why artow fro ward sith I am mercyable ?] 4_ '' f / *7 /^ v 'v-

^ Vp on the cros naylled I was ffor the.

i^. A tretys of Crystys passyoun.



^^ Erly on morwe and toward nyght also.


Cat. Nos.

798. Laud Misc. 683. Poems by Lydgate {continued).
17a, [On the Five Joys of Our Lady.]
^ Queen of hevene of helle eek Empresse.

^ 19a. A praier to seynt Edmu«d.

Glorious Edmu?/d Kyng of Estynglond.
21*. A praier to sey«t lethenard.
\^ Reste and reffuge to folk dysconsolat.

22^. A praier to seynt Robert.
^ O blyssed Robert Innocent and virgyne.

23b. A prayer to seynt Thomas,
^ Blyssed Thomas rubyfyed with blood.

24*. A prayere to seynt Michaell. [One 8-line stanza.]
"^ O myghell by grace of cryst Ihu.

24a. A prayeer to Gaubriell. [One 8-line stanza.]
n/ Blissed Gabriel wich broughtest first tydyng.

24b. [Prayers to ten saints.]
^ Blissed denys of athenys cheef sonne.

27a, [St. Bernard's Prayer to Christ.]
v^ O sothfast Sonne of al brightnesse.

jf~ 29*^. A praier to our lady of hir v. loies.

\y O sterre of lacob and glorye of Israeli.

30^. A praier to the hooly sacrement.
^ Heyl hooly Ihu our helthe our goostly fode.

31'J. Benedictus deus in donis sm's.
V God departeth his gyfftes dyuersly.

331*. The lyff of seynt Gyle [followed by ' A praier to seynt Gyle '].

Of agamenoun vnder the large Empyre.
42a. A myracle of Seynt Edmu«d.

Laude of our lord vp to }?e hevene is reysed.



60^. A doctryne of ffesyk. [A Dietary.]

For helth of body kepe fro cold thyn hed.

62^. A doctryne for pestilence.

Who wil be hooll % kepe hym fro siknesse.

62^. Stans puer ad mensam.

My dere sone first J?i selff enable.

78a. A lamentaciouw of our lady Maria.
V^ Who shal yeve vn to myn hed a welle.



Cat. Nos.

798. 8i^ [Exposition of the Pfl/^r AW^r.] / -». f .^l

1/ Atwyxe dred and tremblyng reuerence. ' \t ^ ^ l,^ ^U

87b. A tretis of the knelyng and kyssyng maad at verbum caro
^ fzx:\Mvi est.

Ye deuout peple which kepe an observaunce.
88*. [Lydgate's Testament.]
V O how holsom and glad is the memorye.

1 051*. Here begynneth a cristemasse song [with refrain : ' Synge we
with angelis . ^/(jrza in excehis' ?[
A babe is born our blysse to brynge.

809. Laud. Misc. 706. Latin homilies by John Paunteley. XV cent.
iii^'XSix long rhyming lines in English.]

\ ^ Bitturnesse of sorow pacientliche he sofFrid man to wyni?.

817. Laud Misc. 685. XV cent. / r , >!

86b. [The ' Third Part ' of St. Michael in the South Eng. Leg.] -^ ( {^^ f P V i

The ryjt pytti? of hell ys amyd erth w* yn.

970. Laud Misc. 413. Early XIII cent.

In Reginald's Vita S. Godrici are inserted English hymns composed • /* \

by this Saint.
39b. [A prayer to the B.V. — four lines written as prose. j
Sainte Marie uzrgine / moder mu cristes nazarene.
47a. [A single couplet, written as prose.]

Crist and Seinte MARie sio on scamel me i-ledde

thaet ic on this hi erthe ne sciulde unit mine bare fot i-treide.

987. Laud Misc. 581. The Vision of Piers Plowman (B-text).

1st third XV cent. ^.r ^' ,

I. In a somer seson whan soft was the soone.

1045. Laud Misc. 313.-^'' '^"*t XV cent. , .-^

\y i86a. [An Enghsh rendering of i?(?^z«a f^/z /(f/ar^.] 4 ( si "3 ti^/ ^6 -

Queue of heuen mak J?^ murth. ^

1053. Laud Misc. 471. XIII cent. A^i'Q^

65a. [A Warning against Death — five lo-line stanzas.] "^

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