And, considering that he was unable, at that date, to apply any linguistic tests of any value—that he had no means of distinguishing Chaucer's rimes from those of other poets—that he had, in fact, nothing to guide him but his literary instinct and a few notes found in the MSS.—his attempt was a fairly good one. A moment's reflection will shew that, as Tyrwhitt edited the Canterbury Tales only, and died in 1786, he could not have edited the Poetical Works in 1845, fifty-nine years after his death. Chaucer frequently allows the first foot of his verse to consist of a single accented syllable, as has been abundantly illustrated above with respect to his Legend of Good Women (vol. I can speak feelingly, for I believed it for some years; and I have met with many who have done the same. He rejected the works that were marked with the names of other poets, and remorselessly swept away a large number of Stowe's very casual additions. But as the title actually appears, even serious students have fallen into the error of supposing that Tyrwhitt edited these Poetical Works; an error of the first magnitude, which has produced disastrous results. There is a particular reason for taking an interest in all poems of this character, because few Complaints are extant, although Chaucer assures us that he wrote many of them. As to the poems numbered XXIII (A Balade of Compleynt), XXV (Complaint to my Mortal Foe, vol. Those who think so had better take the task in hand; they will probably, in any case, learn a good deal that they did not know before. sees many points in a new light; and, if he is capable of it, will learn humility. On this subject I have already said something above (vol. In particular, I may call attention to the unfortunate prejudice against a certain habit of Chaucer's, which it taxed all the ingenuity of some of the editors to suppress. That | no drope ne fille upon hir breste Ging | len in a whistling wind as clere. 1695), was to induce the belief in students that A twenty bookes is a Chaucerian idiom. The mere accident of the inclusion of a given piece in this volume practically tells us nothing, unless it happens to be distinctly marked; though we can, of course, often tell the authorship from some remark made by Chaucer himself, or by others. A., in the first volume of the 'English Poets,' collected in twenty-one volumes. They were tossed together without much attempt at order; so that even the eleventh poem in the volume is 'The Floure of Curtesie, made by Ihon lidgate.' The edition, in fact, is a mere collection of poems by Chaucer, Lydgate, Gower, Hoccleve, Robert Henrysoun, Sir Richard Ros, and various anonymous authors; and the number of poems by other authors almost equals the number of Chaucer's. This somewhat tedious account is absolutely necessary, every word of it, in order to enable the reader to understand what has always been meant (since 1845) by critics who talk about some works as being 'attributed to Chaucer.' They really mean (in the case, for example, of The Cuckoo and the Nightingale) that it happens to be included in a certain volume by an anonymous editor, published in 1845, in which the suggestions made by Tyrwhitt in 1778 were practically adopted without any important deviation. 449, 450), he calls attention to it, and accepts it without hesitation. It thus becomes plain that the words 'By Thomas Tyrwhitt' on the title-page refer only to the second clause of it, but have no reference to the former clause, consisting of the words, 'The Poetical Works of Geoffrey Chaucer.' It remains to be said that the twenty-five poems which are here appended to the Canterbury Tales are well selected; and that the anonymous editor or superintendent was guided in his choice by Tyrwhitt's 'Account of the Works.' 8. I may add a few words about the other Minor Poems which I now print, numbered XXI, XXIII, and XXIV-XXVI; the last three of which appear in vol. I also lay stress on the very peculiar manner in which the poem occurs in MS. It is here that we find no less than twenty-five poems, which he never edited, reprinted (inexactly) from the old black-letter editions or from Chalmers. its obvious dependence upon a Ballade by Machault, whom Chaucer is known to have imitated, and who is not known to have been imitated by any other Englishman. is, consequently, in a few instances, of an almost revolutionary character; and it is best that this should be said plainly The editions by Wright and Morris do not repeat the above amendments by Tyrwhitt; but strictly conform to the Harleian MS. Moreover, this Glossary contains a large number of words from most of Chaucer's Works, including even his prose treatises; besides a handful of words from spurious works such as 'Chaucer's Dream.' In this way, all the former part and all the latter part of the volume are due to Tyrwhitt; it is the middle part that is wholly independent of him. Skeat, on the triple ground that it is (1) a good poem; (2) perfect in its rhymes; (3) found in conjunction with poems undoubtedly by Chaucer in two MSS.' This account, however, leaves out my chief argument, viz. The restoration of the text to the form of it given in the seven best MSS. And in a great many places, the faithful following of this treacherous MS. Tyrwhitt follows them; Wright follows Tyrwhitt; and Morris follows Wright, but prints sore in italics, to shew that there is here a deviation from the MS. A few more quotations are here subjoined, without comment.
Whenever they actually make amendments here and there, the patching is usually plain enough. If I may take any credit for any part of the Notes, I think it may be for my endeavour to hunt up, as far as I could, a large number of the very frequent allusions to Le Roman de la Rose, and to such authors as Ovid and Statius; besides undertaking the more difficult task involved in tracing out some of the mysterious references which occur in the margins of the manuscripts. iv, a list of Errata is given, many of which are of slight importance. By their help, it becomes possible to regulate the use of the final e to a very great extent, which is extremely helpful for the scansion of the lines. This matter is best illustrated by referring, for a while, to the old black-letter editions; moreover, the whole matter will appear in a clearer light if we consider, at the same time, the remarkable argument put forward by Prof. —it was an easy change to—"But that I like, that may I not come by." With so or and, or well, or gat, or that, and many a convenient monosyllable, lines that seemed short to the later ear were readily eked out.' He then proceeds to give a specimen from the beginning of the Canterbury Tales, suggesting, by way of example, that l. Boys at school, who have learnt Attic Greek, are supposed to be able to face the spelling of Homer without wincing, though it is not their native language; and the number of Englishwomen who are fairly familiar with Middle-English is becoming considerable. As regards the Notes in the present volume, it will be readily understood that I have copied them or collected them from many sources. There is no doubt as to its early age and its frequent helpfulness in difficult passages; but it is not the kind of MS. As to my general treatment of it, I have spoken above (vol. If so, he must very carefully study the spelling of the Ellesmere and Hengwrt MSS., which resemble each other very closely. 126) in favour of the genuineness of The Court of Love. Surely, it is better to stick to the true old phonetic spelling. The text here given only varies from it in places where variation seemed highly desirable, as explained in the footnotes. The future editor will probably some day desire to normalise the spelling of Chaucer throughout his works. Besides, those who want the spelling modernised can get it in Gilfillan's edition. renders the task of editing the Tales much easier than that of editing The House of Fame or the Minor Poems. One great advantage of this MS., quite apart from the excellence of its readings, is the highly phonetic character of the spelling. The alteration of a word like quene to queene does not make it any easier; and the further alteration to queen destroys its dissyllabic nature.