Walter William Skeat.

Specimens of English literature from the 'Ploughmans crede' to the 'Shepheardes calender,' A.D. 1394-A.D. 1579; online

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SPECIMENS



OF



ENGLISH LITERATURE



SKEAT



HENRY FROWDE, M.A.

PUBLISHER TO THE UNIVERSITY OK OXFORD




IONDON, EDINBURGH, AND NEW YORK



|jr.ess j&eries
SPECIMENS



OF



ENGLISH LITERATURE

FROM THE l PLOUGH MANS CREDE'

TO THE ' SHEPHEARDES CALENDER'

A. D. 1394 A. D. 1579



BY THE

w&

REV. WALTER W. SKEAT, LITT.D.

LL.D. EDIN., MTT. OXON. ~

Elrington and Bos-worth Professor of Anglo-Saxon
in the University of Cambridge

"... our nation is in nothing; inferior to tbe French or Italian for copie of
language, subtiltie of device, good method and proportion in any forme of poerae."
PUTTENHAM, Arie of English Poesie (15*59) ; bk. i. c. 31.



Sixth Edition

OP ^f or xr

AT THE CLARENDON PRESS

MUCCCXCII




Orforfc

HORACK HART, PRINTER TO THE UNIVERSITY



CONTENTS.

, PAGE

Introduction ix

/

Chronological Table xxxi

I. PERES THE PLOUGHMANS CREDE i

II. THOMAS OCCLEVE.

De Regimine Principum 13

III. JOHN LYDGATE.

(A) London Lyckpeny . . . . -23

(B) The Storie of Thebes 28

IV. JAMES I OF SCOTLAND.

The Kingis Quair .41

V. REGINALD PECOCK.

The Represser 48

VI. HENRY THE MINSTREL.

Wallace 57

VII. CHEVY CHASE 67

VIII. SIR THOMAS MALORY.

Le Morte Darthur , . 76

IX. WILLIAM CAXTON.

Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye . . .88



vi CONTENTS.

PAC.K

X. THE NUT-BROWN MAID 96

XI. WILLIAM DUNBAR.

(A) The Thrissill and the Rois . . . .108

(B) How he was desyred to be ane Freir . .116

XII. STEPHEN HAWES.

The Passetyme of Pleasure 1 1 8

XIII. GAWIN DOUGLAS.

Proloug of the xii. buk of Eneados .... 126

XIV. JOHN SKELTON.

(A) Why Come Ye Nat To Courte ? . . .137

(B) Phyllyp Sparowe 147

XV. LORD BERNERS.

Translation of Froissart ; (A) Cap. 1. (B) Cap. cxxx 155

XVI. WILLIAM TYNDALE.

The Obedience of a Christian Man .... 166

XVII. SIR THOMAS MORE.

(A), (B), (c) Dialogue concernynge Heresyes . .180
(D) The Confutacion of Tyndales Aunswere . . 191

XVIII. SIR THOMAS ELYOT.

The Gouernour ; Lib. i. cap. xvii, xviii . . .194

XIX. LORD SURREY.

(A) Translation of the ii. Book of the ALncid . . 205

(B) The Restlesse State of a Louer . . .215
(c) Sonnet on Spring . . . . . .217

(D) A Complaint by Night 217

(E) A Vow to loue faithfully 218

(F) Imprisonment in Windsor 218



CONTENTS. Vll

PAGE

XX. SIR THOMAS WIAT.

(A), (B), (c) Three Satires 221

(D) A Renouncing of Loue 232

(E) The Louer forsaketh his vnkinde Loue . . 232

(F) The Louer determineth to seme faithfully. . 233

(G) A Description of such as he would loue . . 234
(H) Loue compared to a Stream .... 234
(l) Of his Loue pricking her Finger . . . 235

XXI. HUGH LATIMER.

Sermon on the Ploughers . . , . . 236

XXII. SIR DAVID LYNDESAY.

The Monarche 248

XXIII. NICHOLAS UDALL.

Ralph Roister Doister 261

XXIV. THOMAS SACKVILLE, LORD ,BUCKHURST.

The Induction 281

XXV. ROGER ASCHAM.

The Scholemaster 304

\

XXVI. GEORGE GASCOIGNE.

The Steel Glas . ....... 312

XXVII. JOHN LYLY.

Euphues and his Ephcebus 326

XXVIII. EDMUND SPENSER.

(A) The Shepheardes Calender ; Nouember . . 336

(B) The Shepheardes Calender ; December . . 347

Notes 357

Glossarial Index 481

Index to Subjects explained in the Notes .... 545



INTRODUCTION.



SYNOPSIS. I. Object of the volume. 2. The period considered in it
3. ' Edited ' texts. 4. Difficulties. 5. The Alphabet. 6. Abbre-
viations. 7. Spelling. 8. Pronunciation. 9. Vocabulary. 10.
Glossarial Index. n. Sources whence the Extracts are taken.

GENERAL HINTS. 12. The Anglo-Saxon Dictionary. 13. Anglo-
Saxon or English Grammar. 14. Words from the Old French. 15.
Contracted forms in Old French. 16. Formation of French nouns.
17. French words not all of Latin origin. 18. English as compared
with German. 19. The difference between 'derived' and 'cognate.'
20. Help to be obtained from the Allied Languages. 21. Literature of
the Fifteenth Century, &c. 22. Chronological Table.

i. THE object of this volume is to supply the student and
general reader with trustworthy and useful extracts from writ-
ings of the fifteenth and part of the sixteenth centuries. Most
of the existing books of the same character are insufficient in
one or other respect ; either the extracts given are too short to
represent adequately the style of the author, or they are more
or less modernized in such a manner as to give no clue to the
real state of the language at the time when he wrote. Besides
this, many of the explanations of words given by the compilers
of such works are wholly wrong ; the mistakes, for example, in
Ellis's ' Specimens of English Poetry ' are occasionally of a
serious character, and only to be accounted for by supposing



X INTRODUCTION.

that he had no exact knowledge of our language in its earliest
stages. Even Warton's 'History of English Poetry,' which
will probably long continue to be a standard work, is by no
means free from curious errors of this kind, as indicated in the
Notes to Gawin Douglas ; see pp. 416-418 of this volume.

2. It is most important to observe that there is nowhere
any real or considerable break in our literature. 1 The changes
in the language between the reigns of yElfred and Victoria have
been gradual, not violent, and our present speech differs from
the Oldest English (generally called 'Anglo-Saxon') chiefly by
reason of the alterations which a long lapse of time naturally
and imperceptibly introduces. Hence the particular period of
our literature here illustrated is determined by arbitrary boun-
daries. I begin with an extract from the ' Crede,' because the
volume of ' Specimens of English,' by Dr. Morris, published in
1867, terminates with an extract of a slightly anterior date :
and I leave off with the year 1579, because it was remarkable
for the publication of Lily's 'Euphues' and Spenser's 'Shep-
heardes Calender,' and because it was about this time that a
marked revival in English letters took place. A glance at Pro-
fessor Morley's 'Tables of English Literature' will shew that,
whilst the important works published between 1560 and 1580
are not very numerous, those published soon after 1580 are
many and valuable. Before the end of the century we meet
with such standard works as Marlowe's Plays, Fairfax's ' Tasso,'
Daniel's Poems, Sidney's ' Arcadia,' and, still better than these,
the ' Faerie Queene,' ' Venus and Adonis,' ' Lucrece,' and several
of the best of Shakespeare's Plays. It seems as if the com-
paratively unproductive period of our literature then suddenly

1 This statement has been flatly contradicted by a reviewer. But as the
writer omitted to state where the break occurs, his opinion is of no assistance
to us.



DIFFICULTIES CONSIDERED. XI

ceased, and we begin to meet with writings that are to be read
at length, and of which short specimens will no longer suffice.

3. A great deal of the supposed difficulty of Early English,
and much of the curious awe with which many Englishmen
regard it (as if it were a study much beyond them, and in which
they can have little interest), has been the indirect result of the
injudicious way in which editors have been accustomed to
tamper with their texts. Readers are so used to having their
extracts from older authors modified or modernized, that they
find themselves thrown out when actually meeting with a
genuine old book, and are discouraged at the outset from at-
tempting to peruse it. 1 In the present volume, all the pieces
have been printed without alteration, with the exact spelling
which occurs in the MS. or old black-letter book from which
each is taken ; and the earliest MS. copies, or first editions of
printed works, have been resorted to, as being, in general, the
most correct. The student who masters the contents of it will
therefore make a real advance, and will be pleased to find him-
self able to read with considerable ease every English printed
book in existence, with the exception of those which are copied
from MSS. older than the time of Chaucer. He will also find
that he has acquired much that will assist him in the reading of
early MSS.

4. There are a few difficulties that ought to be resolutely
grappled with, and vanquished, at the outset. 2 Difficulties arise

1 ' But for the unfortunate readiness with which editors and publishers
have yielded to the popular demand for conformity to the spelling and the
vocabulary of the day, the knowledge of genuine English would now be
both more general and further advanced than it is.' Marsh, Lectures on
English, ed. 1861, p. 21.

2 ' Chaucer, whom a week's labor will make almost as intelligible as
Dryden,' &c. Marsh, Lectures on English, ed. 1861, p. 174.



Jill INTRODUCTION.

from three principal sources, viz. from the alphabet employed,
from the spelling, and from the diction or vocabulary of words
used. The alphabet and the spelling should receive immediate
attention ; but a knowledge of the vocabulary comes only with
time, being acquired imperceptibly, yet with ever-increasing
rapidity. A few hints on these subjects will probably be of
service.

5. The Alphabet. The letters employed are the same as
those employed now, with two additions, and with some vari-
ations in significance. The additional letters are j> and 3 ; the
capitals of which are printed J) and 3- Both of these are of
frequent occurrence in early MSS. The former ()>) signifies th.
In our modern pronunciation we make a distinction between
the initial sounds of thine and thin, a distinction which in the
earliest times probably did not exist, the th in both cases
being sounded as in thin ; but at an early period we ceased to
preserve this sound in all our oldest and commonest words,
such as thou, the, that, there, then, and the like 1 . But we often
find a distinction made in the fourteenth century. Some scribes
used j> at the beginning of fie, fiat (the, that), and the letters th
at the beginning of thin, thikke (thin, thick). In the fifteenth
century this distinction was less regarded, and the symbol \
was gradually disused. In Section I, p. I, we find in the first
line, panne, fioit^t, fie, fiis, for then, thought, the, and this. In
Section II, p. 14, there is but one instance in the page, viz. fiee
for thee, in st. 299, 1. 5. Very soon after this, the scribes began
habitually to form the character J> so indistinctly, that no differ-
ence was made between it and the letter y. I denote this by
printing th in italics. Thus, in Sect. VII, L 5, p. 68, the word
' the ' signifies that ' ye ' is written in the MS., but ' the ' is

1 See Appendix I to ' Gregory's Pastoral Care,' edited for the Early English
Text Society by H. Sweet, Esq., where a different view is taken.



THE ALPHABET EMPLOYED. Xlll

meant. In the same line, the word ' that' signifies that the
MS. has 'yV where the^ means th, and the a is only indicated
by the / being a little above the line. Hence it is very common
to find in old printed books the words ' y 6 ,' ' y V ' yis,' which are
to be read the, that, this, and not ye, yat, yis, as many persons,
with a comic ignorance, seem to suppose.

The character 3 has various powers. At the beginning of a
word it is to be sounded as_y, so that ^ard is our modern yard ;
in the middle of a word it had a guttural sound, still repre-
sented in our spelling by gh, as li^t for light ; at the end of a
word it either had the same sound, or stood for z. In fact, the
character for z was written precisely like it, although more
sparingly employed ; we find, e. g. marckaunt$ for marchauntz,
where the z, by the way, must necessarily have been sounded
as s. This use of the character is French, and appears chiefly
in French words. In early French MSS. it is very common,
and denotes z only, which was sounded as ts.

The characters v and u require particular attention. The
latter is freely used to denote both the modern sounds, and
the reader must be prepared at any moment to treat it as a
consonant. Thus the words haite, leue, diuerse are to be read
have, leve, diverse ; where it will be observed that the symbol
appears between two vowels. The former is used sparingly,
but sometimes denotes the modern u, chiefly at the beginning
of a word. The following are nearly all the commoner ex-
amples of it l , and may as well be learnt at once ; viz. vce
or vse (use), vtter (utter), vp (up), vpon (upon), and the prefix
vn- (un-). Many readers are impatient of learning this easy
lesson, and hence it is common to find, even in well-edited
editions of old authors, that the v's and 's are altered so as
to suit the modern taste ; yet a very little attention soon over-

1 In these and other instances, it will be understood that I speak with
reference to the period 1394-1579 only.



xi V INTR OD UCTION.

comes this difficulty, which is, after all, but a small matter to be
discouraged at. A learner of French or German has to en-
counter greater difficulties than these, and Old English is as
well worth a little pains as either one or the other.

Occasionally even w is used for u. Hence the words swe,
remwe (p. 29) are for sue, remue ; and, in one instance, we find
the curious form dywlgat=dyuulgat=dyvulgat= divulged.. In
some examples of Lowland Scotch (Sections VI, XIII), iv is
used for both u and v ; so that gawe means gave, and hows is
Jwus (house). A little practice soon renders the eye familiar
with these variations.

The letter J is very rare. It is generally denoted by a
capital / ; as in lape, leoperdie, lourney, for jape, jeopardy,
journey. Sometimes ij is written for y, as in wij$t=iuyT > t=
wyght=vi\g}\\.. This symbol is very common in modern Dutch,
as in the words mijn (mine)J and ivijn (wine), which are pro-
nounced mine and vine respectively. The combination quh is
common in Scotch, and answers to the modern English iuh and
the Anglo-Saxon hiv ; as in quhy for -why, A. S. hwt.

Most of the early editions from which this volume is com-
piled are in black letter, roman letters being used occasionally
as we should now use italics. Gascoigne's ' Steel Glas,' however,
is almost wholly printed in italic letters, and a sudden demand
for a number of capital H^s in one passage seems to have taxed
the resources of the printers, who resorted to the use of small
letters and double Ps ; see p. 322. The reader should observe
that proper names more frequently begin with a small letter
than with a capital ; as, e.g. pryant for Priam, p. 89. The
letters a, i, and r, are frequently written as capitals in MSS.,
at the beginning of words ; see In in 1. 4, Away in the same
line, and Rue in 1. 9, on p. 68. Marks of punctuation are very
rare in MSS. ; and in old printed books we frequently find only
the mark / for a comma (see p. 89), with occasional full stops



ABBRE VIA TIONS. XV

and colons. In most of the pieces the punctuation is entirely
my own, and the reader may change or disregard it at pleasure ;
just as he may, if he pleases, disregard it in all other editions of
Old English authors, wherein it is almost always due to the
editor only, and is sometimes wrong. Wherever a word has
oeen misspelt by mere accident, I have altered it, at the same
time appending a foot-note ; and sometimes I have supplied a
missing letter or word within square brackets.

6. Abbreviations. The most usual marks of contraction
employed in early books and MSS. are so few that they may
soon be learnt. The commonest are these following, their ex-
pansions being denoted throughout this volume by the use of
italic letters.

A stroke over a vowel signifies m or n ; as in sit, hi, houd,
meaning sum, him, houd.

An upward curl, above the line, signifies er ; as in man 5 ,
s^ue, for maner, serve (serve). But if this symbol follows the
letter p, it means re ; as in p^che for pra:he. It arose from a
roughly written e, the letter r being understood.

A small undotted / above the line means ri, the letter r
being understood, as before ; hence p l nce, c'st, for prz'nce, crht
(Christ).

A roughly written a (o>) in like manner stands for ra ; as in
gce, p^y, for grace, pray.

A curl, of a form which arose from a roughly written v (for u)
signifies ttr ; as in hie, "o, for tame, our.

The reason for the upward curl after p being used for re,
arose from the fact that there was already a way of writing per,
viz. by drawing a stroke through the tail of the p ; as in il, for
peril. Sometimes this sign stood tor par ; as in/>/y for party.

A similar stroke, but curling, enabled the scribe to abbreviate
pro. Thus we have <&fite, ^ue, for profile, pr0ue (prove).



XVI INTRODUCTION.

At the end of a word, the mark _p signifies es or is ; and the
mark 9 signifies us ; as in word-? for word^J or wordzj, and J> 9 for
\>us (thus) *.

A not very common mark of contraction is o_ for com or con ;
as in Q-fort, n.sez7, comfort, conseil.

Other examples of contraction are q or qd for quod or quod,
i. e. quoth ; J) 1 or _y* for }>0t or #z<zt ; j> u or y 3 - for b0u or thou ;
and zfo, z#;#, for \esus, \esum (Jesus, Jesum), where the h came
from the Greek H (long e\ and the c from the Greek C (2, s).

7. Spelling, It is a common error to look upon the spelling
of Old English as utterly lawless, and unworthy of notice.
Because it is not uniform, the conclusion is at once rushed to
that it cannot be of much service. No mistake could well be
worse. It is frequently far better than our modern spelling,
and helps to shew how badly we spell now, in spite of the uni-
formity introduced by printers for the sake of convenience.
Old English spelling was conducted on an intelligible principle,
whereas our modern spelling exhibits no principle at all, but
merely illustrates the inconvenience of separating symbols from
sounds. The intelligible principle of Old English spelling is,
that it was intended to be phonetic. Bound by no particular
laws, each scribe did the best he could to represent the sounds
which he heard, and the notion of putting in letters that were
not sounded was (except in the case of final <?) almost unknown.
The very variations are of value, because they help to render
more clear in each case what the sound was which the scribes
were attempting to represent. But to bear in mind that the
spelling -was phonetic is to hold the clue to it. Scribes differed
in their modes of spelling for several reasons. Most of them

1 The printer of Gascoigne's 'Steel Glass,' who turned 'Augusts' into
' August 9,' can hardly have understood this symbol. See note to Sect.
xxvi. 770-



REMARKS ON SPELLING. XV11

-\ were guided by the pronunciation of the dialect of their place
of residence, and dialects were then numerous. Some were
more ignorant than others, whence the exceptional badness of
the spelling of the piece called ' Chevy Chase.' Many were in-
fluenced by what they had previously themselves read, so that
changes of spelling took place more slowly than changes in
pronunciation, and were often a little behind it ; the most
marked instance of this being in the case of e final, which was
retained in spelling after it had ceased to be pronounced, so
that the spelling serche (p. 77, 1. l), means that the word had at
one time been pronounced serche, a dissyllable. Unfortunately,
one result of this was that a silent e was often ignorantly added,
as in the word kynge (p. 77, 1. 4), which only three lines above is
rightly spelt kyng. To determine when the final e is rightly
added is one of the most useful exercises which occur in Middle
English grammar. Somewhat similar remarks apply to final
-es. The word townes (p. 77, 1. i) was once called townes
(dissyllable), A. S. tunas ; but it does not follow that it was
dissyllabic in the time of Malory. In the extract from Surrey,
the metre shews at once that costes (p. 208, 1. 324) was a mono-
syllable ; and so on, for other words. It is impossible to enlarge
upon this here, for want of space ; but experience shews that
the spelling very seldom causes any real difficulty, and that the
words which are so disguised by it as not to be at once intel-
ligible, are very few indeed. Those who do not care to investi-
gate the spelling, have only to read right on, making the best
they can of it, and they will not find much difficulty after the
first page of each extract has been fairly considered. To give
the beginning of a piece of literature, in whatever language it
may be written, a fair trial, is a principle of the highest im-
portance. The present writer well remembers spending two
hours over the first dozen lines of a manuscript, which, not long
afterwards, he could read as easily as a newspaper.

b



XV111 INTRODUCTION.

8. Promtnciation. Owing to the conservatism introduced
into spelling by the invention of printing, our spelling has not
suffered any very considerable alteration since the time of
Caxton ; and one curious result has been, that if we give our
modern pronunciation to the pieces here printed, we can make
shift to understand them almost as well as if we knew how they
were really pronounced. In other words, the change in pro-
nunciation causes little difficulty at first, and the consideration
of it may be neglected by the beginner. The actual investi-
gation of the pronunciation of Early English is a subject of so
great difficulty, that it has been entirely neglected till the last
few years, during which Mr. A. J. Ellis has attacked the subject
with much success, and his great work upon it is the chief
authority 1 . The results at which he arrives are most curious
and striking. If I interpret him rightly, the principal ones are
these.

1. The gross confusion in modern English spelling is, in a
great measure, due to the great changes in pronunciation that
have taken place since early times.

2. Some of the most violent of these changes probably took
place during the civil wars of the fifteenth century, and during
the latter part of the seventeenth and former part of the
eighteenth centuries.

3. Whereas our modern English pronunciation, of the vowels
especially, differs widely from the pronunciation adopted on the
continent (in Germany, for example), it is certain that in early
times this difference was but slight. Our insular peculiarities
have increased upon us. It follows frqm this that a reader who

1 ' On Early English Pronunciation, with especial reference to Shakespeare
and Chaucer ; by Alex. J. Ellis, F.R.S.' Triibner & Co. A short discussion
(by Mr. Ellis) of the pronunciation of Chaucer's time will be found in the
Introduction to my edition of Chaucer's ' Man of Law's Tale,' &c.
(Clarendon Press.)



ON THE VOCABULARY.

pleases to pronounce these specimens of English according to
the continental vowel-system will probably make a rough ap-
proximation to the true sounds of many of the words. It
deserves to be particularly observed, moreover, that the fact of
there being no very wide difference, in the fourteenth century,
between the French and English vowel-systems, must have
greatly assisted in that introduction into English of numerous
French words which we know to have taken place.

9. Vocabulary. The pieces here printed do not, after all,
present very many difficulties through the use of uncommon
words, except in a few cases which may be particularly men-
tioned. Section I is an extract from an alliterative poem, and
poems in such metre are invariably remarkable for more or less
obscurity ; yet the obscurity is not, in this case, very great.
Sections IV, VI, XI, XIII, XXII are in Lowland Scotch, and
therefore differ from the rest somewhat in the same way in
which the diction of Burns differs from that of Byron. A North-
country man will understand them readily ; a Southerner will
have more trouble to do so. This remark, perhaps, hardly
applies to Section XIII, from Gawin Douglas, a piece of quite
exceptional character. Partly from his profuse employment of
Northern-English words, and partly from the freedom with
which he introduces Latin and French terms, the worthy bishop
has succeeded in producing many lines which puzzle even the
experienced. Such a line as

' Moich hailsum stovys ourheldand the slak' (1. 46)

does not carry with it its obvious meaning ; but it would be a
mistake to suppose this to be an average specimen of Middle
English. We can hardly find lines as unfamiliar in appearance
as this without goirig back at least to the thirteenth century.
But, setting these Sections aside, the language calls for but little
explanation. The prose pieces in particular, such as those in

b 2



XX INTRODUCTION.

Sections V, VIII, IX, XV, XVI, XVII, XVIII, XXI, XXV,
XXVII, are perspicuous enough, and can be understood with



Online LibraryWalter William SkeatSpecimens of English literature from the 'Ploughmans crede' to the 'Shepheardes calender,' A.D. 1394-A.D. 1579; → online text (page 1 of 44)