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Though the Britains or Welsh were the first possessors of this island, whose names are recorded, and are therefore in civil history always considered as the predecessors of the present inhabitants; yet the deduction of the English language, from the earliest times of which we have any knowledge to its present state, requires no mention of them: for we have so few words, which can, with any probability, be refered to British roots, that we justly regard the Saxons and Welsh, as nations totally distinct. It has been conjectured, that when the Saxons seized this country, they suffered the Britains to live among them in a state of vassalage, employed in the culture of the ground, and other laborious and ignoble services. But it is scarcely possible, that a nation, however depressed, should have been mixed in considerable numbers with the Saxons without some communication of their tongue, and therefore it may, with great reason, be imagined, that those, who were not sheltered in the mountains, perished by the sword.
The whole fabrick and scheme of the English language is Gothick or Teutonick: it is a dialect of that tongue, which prevails over all the northern countries of Europe, except those where the Sclavonian is spoken. Of these languages Dr. Hickes has thus exhibited the genealogy.
Of the Gothick, the only monument remaining is a copy of the gospels somewhat mutilated, which, from the silver with which the characters are adorned, is called the silver book. It is now preserved at Upsal, and has been twice published. Whether the diction of this venerable manuscript be purely Gothick, has been doubted; it seems however to exhibit the most ancient dialect now to be found of the Teutonick race, and the Saxon, which is the original of the present English, was either derived from it, or both descended from some common parent.
What was the form of the Saxon language, when, about the year 450, they first entered Britain, cannot now be known. They seem to have been a people without learning, and very probably without an alphabet; their speech therefore, having been always cursory and extemporaneous, must have been artless and unconnected, without any modes of transition or involution of clauses; which abruptness and inconnection may be observed even in their later writings. This barbarity may be supposed to have contained during their wars with the Britains, which for a time left them no leisure for softer studies; nor is there any reason for supposing it abated, till the year 570, when Augustine came from Rome to convert them to Christianity. The Christian religion always implies or produces a certain degree of civility and learning; they then became by degrees acquainted with the Roman language, and so gained, from time to time, some knowledge and elegance, till in three centuries they had formed a language capable of expressing all the sentiments of a civilised people, as appears by king Alfred's paraphrase or imitation of Boethius, and his short preface, which I have selected as the first specimen of ancient English.
On ðæꞃ ꞇıꝺ þ oꞇan oꝼ ıððıu mæᵹþ ƿıþ Romana ꞃıc ᵹƿın upahoꝼon. mıþ hoꞃa cẏnınᵹum. Ræꝺᵹoꞇa anꝺ allꞃıca ƿæꞃon haꞇn. Roman buꞃıᵹ abꞃæcon. anꝺ all Iꞇalıa ꞃıc ıꞅ bꞇƿux þam munꞇum ıcılıa ðam alonꝺ ın anƿalꝺ ᵹꞃhꞇon. þa æᵹꞇꞃ þam ꝼoꞃꞅpꞃcnan cẏnınᵹum Ðoꝺꞃıc ꝼnᵹ ꞇo þam ılcan ꞃıc. ꞅ Ðoꝺꞃıc ƿæꝼ Amulınᵹa. h ƿæꞅ ꞃıꞅꞇn. þah h on þam Aꞃꞃıanıꞅcan ᵹꝺƿolan ðuꞃhƿunoꝺ. ᵹhꞇ Romanum hıꞅ ꝼꞃonꝺꞅcıp. ꞅƿa hı moꞅꞇan hoꞃa alꝺꞃıhꞇa ƿẏꞃð bon. Ac h þa ᵹhaꞇ ꞅƿıð ẏꝼl ᵹlæꞅꞇ. ꞅƿıð ƿꞃaþ ᵹnꝺoꝺ mıꝺ manᵹum man. ƿæꞅ ꞇo acan oþꞃum unaꞃımꝺum ẏꝼlum. h Iohannꞅ þon papan hꞇ oꝼꞅlan. Ða ƿæꞅ ꞅum conꞅul. ƿ hꞃꞇoha haꞇaþ. ꞅ ƿæꞅ ın boccꞃæꝼꞇum on ƿoꞃulꝺ þaƿum ꞅ ꞃıhꞇƿıꞅꞅꞇa. ða onᵹaꞇ þa manıᵹꝼalꝺan ẏꝼl þ ꞅ cẏnınᵹ Ðoꝺꞃıc ƿıþ þam ꞃıꞅꞇnanꝺom ƿıþ þam Romanıꞅcum ƿıꞇum ꝺẏꝺ. h þa ᵹmunꝺ ðaꞃa þnꞅꞅa þaꞃa alꝺꞃıhꞇa ð hı unꝺꞃ ðam aꞅꞃum hæꝼꝺon hoꞃa alꝺhlaꝼoꞃꝺum. Ða onᵹan h ꞅmaᵹan loꞃnıᵹan on hım ꞅlꝼum hu h ꞃıc ðam unꞃıhꞇƿıꞅan cẏnınᵹ aꝼꞃꞃan mıhꞇ. on ꞃẏhꞇ ᵹlaꝼꝼulꞃa anꝺ on ꞃıhꞇƿıꞅꞃa anƿalꝺ ᵹbꞃınᵹan. nꝺ þa ꝺıᵹllıc æꞃnꝺᵹƿꞃıꞇu ꞇo þam aꞅꞃ ꞇo onꞅꞇanꞇınopolım. þæꞃ ıꞅ ꞃca hah buꞃᵹ hoꞃa cẏnꞅꞇol. ꝼoꞃ þam ꞅ aꞅꞃ ƿæꞅ hoꞃa alꝺhlaꝼoꞃꝺ cẏnnꞅ. bæꝺon hın h hım ꞇo hoꞃa ꞃıꞅꞇnꝺom ꞇo hoꞃa alꝺꞃıhꞇum ᵹꝼulꞇumꝺ. Ða onᵹaꞇ ꞅ ƿælhꞃoƿa cẏnınᵹ Ðoꝺꞃıc. ða hꞇ h hın ᵹbꞃınᵹan on caꞃcꞃn þæꞃ ınn blucan. Ða hıꞇ ða ᵹlomp ꞅ aꞃƿẏꞃða ƿæꞅ on ꞅƿa mıclꞃ naꞃanꞅꞅ bcom. þa ƿæꞅ h ꞅƿa mıcl ꞅƿıðoꞃ on hıꞅ oꝺ ᵹꝺꞃꝼꝺ. ꞅƿa hꞅı oꝺ æꞃ ꞅƿıðoꞃ ꞇo þam ƿoꞃulꝺ ꞅælþum unᵹƿoꝺ ƿæꞅ. h ða nanꞃ ꝼꞃoꝼꞃ b ınnan þam caꞃcꞃn n ᵹmunꝺ. ac h ᵹꝼoll nıƿol oꝼ ꝺun on þa ꝼloꞃ. hın aꞅꞇꞃhꞇ ꞅƿıþ unꞃoꞇ. anꝺ oꞃmoꝺ hın ꞅlꝼn onᵹan ƿpan þuꞅ ꞅınᵹnꝺ cƿæþ.
ÐA hoð ıc ƿꞃcca ᵹo luꞅꞇbæꞃlıc ꞅonᵹ. ıc ꞅcal nu hoꝼınꝺ ꞅınᵹan. mıꝺ ꞅƿı unᵹꞃaꝺum ƿoꞃꝺum ᵹꞅꞇꞇan. þah ıc ᵹo hƿılum ᵹcoplıc ꝼunꝺ. ac ıc nu ƿpnꝺ ᵹıꞅcınꝺ oꝼ ᵹꞃaꝺꞃa ƿoꞃꝺa mıꞅꝼo. m ablnꝺan þaꞅ unᵹꞇꞃoƿan ƿoꞃulꝺ ꞅælþa. m þa ꝼoꞃlꞇan ꞅƿa blınꝺn on þıꞅ ꝺımm hol. Ða bꞃaꝼoꝺon ælcꞃ luꞅꞇbæꞃnꞅꞅ þa ða ıc hım æꝼꞃ bꞇꞅꞇ ꞇꞃuƿoꝺ, ða ƿnꝺon hı m hoꞃa bæc ꞇo anꝺ m mıꝺ all ꝼꞃomᵹƿıꞇan. To ƿhon ꞅcolꝺan la mın ꝼꞃınꝺ ꞅᵹᵹan þæꞇ ıc ᵹꞅælıᵹ mon ƿæꞃ. hu mæᵹ ꞅ bon ᵹꞅælıᵹ ꞅ ð on ðam ᵹꞅælþum ðuꞃhƿuman n moꞇ჻
ÐA ıc þa ðıꞅ loþ. cƿæð Boꞇıuꞅ. ᵹomꞃınꝺ aꞅunᵹn hæꝼꝺ. ða com ðæꞃ ᵹan ın ꞇo m hoꝼncunꝺ Ƿıꞅꝺom. mın muꞃnnꝺ oꝺ mıꝺ hıꞅ ƿoꞃꝺum ᵹᵹꞃꞇꞇ. þuꞅ cƿæþ. u n aꞃꞇ þu ꞅ mon þ on mınꞃ ꞅcol ƿæꞃ aꝼꝺ ᵹlæꞃꝺ. Ac hƿonon ƿuꞃꝺ þu mıꝺ þıꞅꞅum ƿoꞃulꝺ ꞅoꞃᵹum þuꞅ ꞅƿıþ ᵹꞅƿncꝺ. buꞇon ıc ƿaꞇ þu hæꝼꞅꞇ ðaꞃa ƿæpna ꞇo hꞃaþ ꝼoꞃᵹıꞇn ð ıc þ æꞃ ꞅalꝺ. Ða clıpoꝺ ꞅ Ƿıꞅꝺom cƿæþ. ƿıꞇaþ nu aƿıꞃᵹꝺ ƿoꞃulꝺ ꞅoꞃᵹa oꝼ mınꞅ þᵹnꞅ oꝺ. ꝼoꞃþam ᵹ ꞅınꝺ þa mæꞅꞇan ꞅcaþan. Læꞇaþ hın ꝼꞇ hƿoꞃꝼan ꞇo mınum laꞃum. Ða oꝺ ꞅ Ƿıꞅꝺom naꞃ. cƿæþ Boꞇıuꞅ. mınum hꞃoƿꞅınꝺan ᵹþohꞇ. hıꞇ ꞅƿa moƿolıl hƿæꞇ hƿᵹa upaꞃæꞃꝺ. aꝺꞃıᵹꝺ þa mınnꞅ oꝺꞅ aᵹan. anꝺ hıꞇ ꝼꞃan bılþum ƿoꞃꝺum. hƿæþꞃ hıꞇ oncnoƿ hıꞅ ꝼoꞅꞇꞃmoꝺoꞃ. mıꝺ ðam þ ða oꝺ ƿıþ bƿnꝺ. ða ᵹcnoƿ hıꞇ ꞅƿıþ ꞅƿoꞇl hıꞅ aᵹn moꝺoꞃ. ƿæꞅ ꞅ Ƿıꞅꝺom þ hıꞇ lanᵹ æꞃ ꞇẏꝺ læꞃꝺ. ac hıꞇ onᵹaꞇ hıꞅ laꞃ ꞅƿıþ ꞇoꞇoꞃnn ꞅƿıþ ꞇobꞃocnn mıꝺ ꝺẏꞅıᵹꞃa honꝺum. hın þa ꝼꞃan hu ᵹƿuꞃꝺ. Ða anꝺꞅƿẏꞃꝺ ꞅ Ƿıꞅꝺom hım ꞅæꝺ. hıꞅ ᵹınᵹꞃan hæꝼꝺon hın ꞅƿa ꞇoꞇoꞃnn. þæꞃ þæꞃ hı ꞇohhoꝺon hı hın alln habban ꞅcolꝺon. ac hı ᵹᵹaꝺꞃıað monıꝼalꝺ ꝺẏꞅıᵹ on þæꞃ ꝼoꞃꞇꞃuƿunᵹa. on þam ᵹılp buꞇan hoꞃa hƿlc ꝼꞇ ꞇo hẏꞃ boꞇ ᵹcıꞃꞃ჻
This may perhaps be considered as a specimen of the Saxon in its highest state of purity, for here are scarcely any words borrowed from the Roman dialects.
Of the following version of the gospels the age is not certianly known, but it was probably written between the time of Alfred and that of the Norman conquest, and therefore may properly be inserted here.
Translations seldom afford just specimens of a language, and least of all those in which a scrupulous and verbal interpretation is endeavoured, because they retain the phraseology and structure of the original tongue; yet they have often this convenience, that the same book, being translated in different ages, affords opportunity of marking the graduations of change, and bringing one age into comparison with another. For this purpose I have placed the Saxon version and that of Wickliffe, written about the year 1380, in opposite columns; because the convenience of easy collation seems greater than that of regular chronology.
|LUCÆ Cap. I.||LUK, Chap. I.|
|FORÐAM þe witodlice maneʒa þohton þara þinʒa race ʒeendebẏrdan þe on us ʒefẏllede sẏnt.|
|2 Swa us betæhtun þa ðe hit of frẏmðe ʒesawon. and þære spræce þenas wæron.|
|3 Me ʒeþuhte [of-fẏliʒde from fruma] ʒeornlice eallum. [mið] endebẏrdnesse writan ðe. þu ðe selusta Theophilus.|
|4 Ðæt þu oncnawe þara worda soðfæstnesse. of þam ðe þu ʒelæred eart:|
|5 On Herodes daʒum Iudea cẏnincʒes. þæs sum sacerd on naman Zacharias. of Abian tune. 7 his wif wæs of Aarones dohtrum. and hẏre nama wæs Elizabeth:·||IN the dayes of Eroude kyng of Judee ther was a prest Zacarye by name: of the sort of Abia, and his wyf was of the doughtris of Aaron: and hir name was Elizabeth.|
|6 Soðlice hiʒ wæron butu rihtwise beforan Gode. ʒanʒende on eallum his bebodum 7 rihtwisnessum butan wrohte:·||2 An bothe weren juste bifore God: goynge in alle the maundementis and justifyingis of the Lord withouten playnt.|
|7 And hiʒ næfdon nan bearn. forþam ðe Elizabeth wæs unberende. 7 hẏ on hẏra daʒum butu forð-eodun:·||3 And thei hadden no child, for Elizabeth was bareyn and bothe weren of greet age in her dayes.|
|8 Soðlice wæs ʒeworden þa Zacharias hẏs sacredhades breac on his ʒewrixles endebẏrdnesse befoan Gode.||4 And it bifel that whanne Zacarye schould do the office of presthod in the ordir of his course to fore God.|
|9 Æfter ʒewunan þæs sacredhades hlotes. he eode þæt he his offrunʒe sette. ða he on Godes tempel eode.||5 Aftir the custom of the presthod, he wente forth by lot and entride into the temple to encensen.|
|10 Eall werod þæs folces wæ ute ʒebiddende on þære offrunʒe timan:·||6 And at the multitude of the puple was without forth and preyede in the our of encensying.|
|11 Ða ætẏwde him Drihtnes enʒel standende on þæs weofodes swiðran healfe.||7 and an aungel of the Lord apperide to him: and stood on the right half of the auter of encense.|
|12 Ða weard Zacharias ʒedrefed þæt ʒeseonde. 7 him eʒe onhreas:·||8 And Zacarye seynge was afrayed: and drede fel upon him.|
|13 Ða cwæð se enʒel him to. Ne ondræd þu ðe Zacharias. forþam þin ben is ʒehẏred. 7 þin wif Elizabeth þe sunu cenð. and þu nemst hẏs naman Iohannes.||9 And the aungel sayde to him, Zacarye drede thou not: for thy preier is herd, and Elizabeth thi wif schal bere to thee a sone: and his name schal be clepid Jon.|
|14 7 he bẏð þe to ʒefean 7 to blisse. 7 maneʒa on hẏs acennednesse ʒefaʒniað:·||10 And joye and gladyng schal be to thee: and manye schulen have joye in his natyvyte.|
|15 Soðlice he bẏð mære beforan Drihtne. and he ne drincð win ne beor. 7 he bið ʒefẏlled on haliʒum Gaste. þonne ʒẏt of his modor innoðe.||11 For he schal be great bifore the Lord: and he schal not drinke wyn ne sydyr, and he schal be fulfild with the holy gost yit of his modir wombe.|
|16 And maneʒa Israhela bearna he ʒecẏrð to Drihtne hẏra Gode.||12 And he schal converte manye of the children of Israel to her Lord God.|
|17 And he ʒæð toforan him on ʒaste 7 Elias mihte. þæt he fædera heortan to hẏra bearnum ʒecẏrre. 7 unʒeleaffulle to rihtwisra ʒleawscẏpe. Drihtne fulfremed folc ʒeʒearwian:·||13 And he schal go bifore in the spiryte and vertu of Helye: and he schal turne the hertis of the fadris to the sonis, and men out of beleeve: to the prudence of just men, to make redy a perfyt puple to the Lord.|
|18 Ða cwæð Zacharias to þam enʒele. Hwanun wat ic þis. ic eom nu eald. and min wif on hẏr daʒum forðeode:·||14 And Zacarye seyde to the aungel: wherof schal Y wyte this? for Y am old: and my wyf hath gon fer in hir dayes.|
|19 Ða andswarode him se enʒel. Ic eom Gabriel. ic þe stande beforan Gode. and ic eom asend wið þe sprecan. 7 þe þis bodian.||15 And the aungel answerde and seyde to him, for Y am Gabriel that stonde nygh bifore God, and Y am sent to thee to speke and to evangelise to thee these thingis, and lo thou schalt be doumbe.|
|20 And nu þu bist suwiʒende. 7 þu sprecan ne miht oð þone dæʒ þe þas þinʒ ʒewurðeð. forþam þu minum wordum ne ʒelẏfdest. þa beoð on hẏra timan ʒefẏllede:·||16 And thou schalt not mowe speke, til into the day in which these things schulen be don. for thou hast not beleved to my wordis, whiche schulen be fulfild in her tyme.|
|21 And þæt folc wæs Zachariam ʒe-anbidiʒende. and wundrodon þæt he on þam temple læt wæs:·||17 And the puple was abidynge Zacarye: and thei wondriden that he taryede in the temple.|
|22 Ða he ut-eode ne mihte he him to--sprecan. 7 hiʒ oncneowon þæt he on þam temple sume ʒesihtðe ʒeseah. 7 he wæs bicniende hẏm. 7 dumb þurhwunede:·||18 And he gede out and myghte not speke to hem: and thei knewen that he hadde seyn a visioun in the temple, and he bekenide to hem: and he dwellide stille doumbe.|
|23 Ða wæs ʒeworden þa his þenunʒa daʒas ʒefẏllede wæron. he ferde to his huse:·||19 And it was don whanne the dayes of his office weren fulfillid: he wente into his hous.|
|24 Soðlice æfter daʒum Elizabeth his wif ʒe-eacnode. and heo bediʒlude hiʒ fif monþas. 7 cwæð.||20 And aftir these dayes Elizabeth his wif conseyvvede and hidde hir fyve monethis and seyde.|
|25 Soðlice me Drihten ʒedẏde þus. on þam daʒum þe he ʒeseah minne hosp betwux mannum afẏrran:·||21 For so the Lord dide to me in the dayes in whiche he biheld to take awey my reprof among men.|
|26 Soðlice on þam sẏxtan monðe wæs asend Gabriel se enʒel fram Drihtne on Galilea ceastre. þære nama wæs Nazareth.||22 But in the sixte monethe the aungel Gabriel was sent from God: into a cytee of Galilee whos name was Nazareth.|
|27 To beweddudre fæmnan anum were. þæs nama þæs Iosep. of Dauides huse. 7 þære fæmnan nama wæs Maria:·||23 To a maydun weddid to a man: whos name was Joseph of the hous of Dauith, and the name of the mayden was Marye.|
|28 Ða cwæð se enʒel inʒanʒende. Hal wes þu mid ʒẏfe ʒefẏlled. Drihten mid þe. ðu eart ʒebletsud on wifum:·||24 And the aungel entride to hir, and sayde, heil ful of grace the Lord be with thee: blessid be thou among wymmen.|
|29 Wa wearð heo on his spræce ʒedrefed. and þohte hwæt seo ʒretinʒ wære:·||25 And whanne sche hadde herd: sche was troublid in his word, and thoughte what manner salutacioun this was.|
|30 Ða cwæð se enʒel. Ne ondræd þu ðe Maria. soðlice þu ʒẏfe mid Gode ʒemettest.||26 And the aungel seid to hir, ne drede not thou Marye: for thou hast founden grace anentis God.|
|31 Soðlice nu. þu on innode ʒe-eacnast. and sunu censt. and his naman Hælend ʒenemnest.||27 Lo thou schalt conseyve in wombe, and schalt bere a sone: and thou schalt clepe his name Jhesus.|
|32 Se bið mære. 7 þæs hehstan sunu ʒenemned. and him sẏlð Drihten God his fæder Dauides setl.||28 This shall be gret: and he schal be clepid the sone of higheste, and the Lord God schal geve to him the seete of Dauith his fadir.|
|33 And he ricsað on ecnesse on Iacobes huse. 7 his rices ende ne bið:·||29 And he schal regne in the hous of Jacob withouten ende, and of his rewme schal be noon ende.|
|34 Ða cwæð Maria to þam enʒle. hu ʒewẏrð þis. forþam ic were ne oncnawe:·||30 And Marye seyde to the aungel, on what maner schal this thing be don? for Y knowe not man.|
|35 Ða andswarode hẏre se enʒel. Se halʒa Gast on þe becẏmð. 7 þæs heahstan miht þe ofer-sceadað. and forþam þæt haliʒe þe of þe acenned bið. bið Godes sunu ʒenemned.||31 And the aungel answerde and seyde to hir, the holy Gost schal come fro above into thee: and the vertu of the higheste schal ouer schadowe thee: and therfore that holy thing that schal be borun of thee: schal be clepide the sone of God.|
|36 And nu. Elizabeth þin maʒe sunu on hẏre ẏlde ʒeacnode. and þes monað is hẏre sẏxta. seo is unberende ʒenemned.||32 And to Elizabeth thi cosyn, and sche also hath conseyved a sone in hir eelde, and this monethe is the sixte to hir that is clepid bareyn.|
|37 Forþam nis ælc word mid Gode unmihtelic:·||33 For every word schal not be impossyble anentis God.|
|38 Ða cwæð Maria. Her is Drihtnes þinen. ʒewurðe me æfter þinum worde:· And se enʒel hẏre fram-ʒewat:·||34 And Marye seide to the hond maydun of the Lord: be it doon to me aftir thi word; and the aungel departide fro hir.|
|39 Soðlice on þam daʒum aras Maria 7 ferde on muntland mid ofste. on Iudeiscre ceastre.||35 And Marye roos up in tho dayes and wente with haste into the mountaynes into a city of Judee.|
|40 7 eode into Zacharias huse. 7 ʒrette Elizabeth:·||36 And sche entride into the hous of Zacarye and grette Elizabeth.|
|41 Ða wæs ʒeworden þa Elizabeth ʒehẏrde Marian ʒretinʒe. ða ʒefaʒnude þæt cild on hẏre innoðe. and þa wearð Elizabeth haliʒum Gaste ʒefẏlled.||37 And it was don as Elizabeth herde the salutacioun of Marye the young childe in hir wombe gladide, and Elizabeth was fulfild with the holy Gost.|
|42 7 heo clẏpode mẏcelre stefne. and cwæð. Ðu eart betwux wifum ʒebletsud. and ʒebletsud is þines innoðes wæstm.||38 And cryede with a gret voice and seyde, blessid be thou among wymmen and blessid be the fruyt of thy wombe.|
|43 7 hwanun is me þis. þæt mines Drihtnes modor to me cume:·||39 And whereof is this thing to me, that the modir of my Lord come to me?|
|44 Sona swa þinre ʒretinʒe stefn on minum earum ʒeworden wæs. þa fahnude [in ʒlædnise] min cild on minum innoþe.||40 For lo as the vois of thi salutacioun was maad in myn eeris: the yong child gladide in joye in my wombe.|
|45 And eadiʒ þu eart þu þe ʒelẏfdest. þæt fulfremede sẏnt þa þinʒ þe þe fram Drihtne ʒesæde sẏnd:·||41 And blessid be thou that hast beleeved: for thilke thingis that ben seid of the Lord to thee schulen be parfytly don.|
|46 Ða cwæð Maria. Min sawel mærsað Drihten.||42 And Marye seyde, my soul magnifieth the Lord.|
|47 7 min ʒast ʒeblissude on Gode minum Hælende.||43 And my spiryt hath gladid in God myn helthe.|
|48 Forþam þe he ʒeseah his þinene ead-modnesse. soðlice heonun-forð me eadiʒe secʒað ealle cneoressa.||44 For he hath behulden the mekenesse of his hand-mayden: for lo for this alle generatiouns schulen seye that I am blessid.|
|49 Forþam þe me mẏcele þinʒ dẏde se ðe mihtiʒ is. 7 his nama is haliʒ.||45 For he that is mighti hath don to me grete thingis, and his name is holy.|
|50 7 hsi mild-heortnes of cneoresse on cneoresse hine ondrædendum:·||46 And his mersy is fro kyndrede into kyndredis to men that dreden him.|
|51 He worhte mæʒne on his earme. he to-dælde þa ofer-modan on mode hẏra heortan.||47 He made myght in his arm, he scateride proude men with the thoughte of his herte.|
|52 He awearp þa rican of setle. and þa eað-modan upahof.||48 He sette doun myghty men fro sette and enhaunside meke men.|
|53 Hinʒriʒende he mid ʒodum ʒefẏlde. 7 ofer-mode idele forlet.||49 He hath fulfillid hungry men with goodis, and he has left riche men voide.|
|54 He afenʒ Israhel his cniht. 7 ʒemunde his mild-heortnesse.||50 He havynge mynde of his mercy took up Israel his child,|
|55 Swa he spræc to urum fæderum. Abrahame and his sæde on á weoruld:·||51 As he hath spokun to oure fadris, to Abraham, and to his seed into worldis.|
|56 Soðlice Maria wunude mid hẏre swẏlce þrẏ monðas. 7 ʒewende þa to hẏre huse:·||52 And Marye dwellide with hir as it were thre monethis and turned agen into his hous.|
|57 Ða wæs ʒefẏlled Elizabethe cenninʒ-tid. and heo sunu cende.||53 But the tyme of beringe child was fulfilled to Elizabeth, and sche bar a son.|
|58 7 hẏre nehcheburas 7 hẏre cuðan þæt ʒehẏrdon. þæt Drihten his mild-heortnesse mid hẏre mærsude 7 hiʒ mid hẏre blissodon:·||54 And the neyghbouris and cosyns of hir herden that the Lord hadde magnyfied his mercy with hir, and thei thankiden him.|
|59 Ða on þa ehteoðan dæʒe hiʒ comon þæt cild ẏmbsniðan. and nemdon hine his fæder naman Zachariam:·||55 And it was doon in the eightithe day thei camen to circumside the child, and thei clepiden him Zacarye by the name of his fadir.|
|60 Ða andswarode his modor. Ne se soðes. ac he bið Iohannes ʒenemned:·||56 And his modir answeride and seide, nay; but he schal be clepid Jon.|
|61 Ða cwædon hi to hẏre. Nis nan on þinre mæʒðe þẏssum naman ʒenemned:·||57 And thei seiden to hir, for no man is in thi kynrede that is clepid this name.|
|62 Ða bicnodon hi to his fæder. hwæt he wolde hẏne ʒenemnedne beon:·||58 And thei bikenyden to his fadir, what he wolde that he were clepid.|
|63 Wa wrat he ʒebedenum wex-brede. Iohannes is his nama. ða wundrodon hiʒ ealle:·||59 And he axinge a poyntel wroot seiynge, Jon is his name, and alle men wondriden.|
|64 Ða wearð sona his muð 7 his tunʒe ʒe-openod. 7 he spræc. Drihten bletsiʒende:·||60 And annoon his mouth was openyd and his tunge, and he spak and blesside God.|
|65 Ða wearð eʒe ʒeworden ofer ealle hẏra nehcheburas. and ofer ealle Iudea muntland pæron þas word ʒewidmærsode.||61 And drede was maad on all hir neighbouris, and all the wordis weren puplischid on alle the mounteynes of Judee.|
|66 7 ealle þa ðe hit ʒehẏrdon. on hẏra heortan settun 7 cwædon. Wenst ðu hwæt bẏð þes cnapa. witodlice Drihtnes hand wæs mid him:·||62 And alle men that herden puttiden in her herte, and seiden what manner child schal this be, for the hond of the Lord was with him.|
|67 And Zacharias his fæder wæs mid haleʒum Gaste ʒefẏlled. 7 he witeʒode and cwæð.||63 And Zacarye his fadir was fulfillid with the holy Gost, and profeciede and seide.|
|68 Gebletsud sẏ Drihten Israhela God. forþam þe he ʒeneosude. 7 his folces alẏsednesse dẏde.||64 Blessid be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visitid and maad redempcioun of his puple.|
|69 And he us hæle horn arærde on Dauides huse his cnihtes.||65 And he has rered to us an horn of helthe in the hous of Dauith his child.|
|70 Swa he præc þurh his haleʒra witeʒena muð. þa ðe of worldes frẏm ðe spræcon.||66 As he spak by the mouth of hise holy prophetis that weren fro the world.|
|71 7 he alẏsde us of urum feondum. and of ealra þara handa þe us hatedon.||67 Helth fro oure enemyes, and fro the hond of alle men that hatiden us.|
|72 Mild-heortnesse to wẏrcenne mid urum fæderum. 7 ʒemunan his haleʒan cẏðnesse.||68 To do mersy with oure fadris, and to have mynde of his holy testament.|
|73 Hẏne uẏ to sẏllenne þone að þe he urum fæder Abrahame swor.||69 The grete ooth that he swoor to Abraham our fadir,|
|74 Ðæt we butan eʒe. of ure feonda handa alẏsede. him þeowian||70 To geve himself to us, that we without drede delyvered fro the hond of oure enemyes serve to him,|
|75 On haliʒnesse beforan him eallum urum daʒum:·||71 In holynesse and rightwisnesse before him, in alle our dayes.|
|76 And þu cnapa bist þæs hehstan witeʒa ʒenemned. þu ʒæst beforan Drihtnes ansẏne his weʒas ʒearwian.||72 And thou child schalt be clepid the profete of the higheste, for thou schalt go before the face of the Lord to make redy hise weyes.|
|77 To sẏllene his folce hæle ʒewit on hẏre sẏnna forʒẏfnesse.||73 To geve science of heelth to his puple into remissioun of her synnes.|
|78 Ðurh innoðas ures Godes mild-heortnesse. on þam he us ʒeneosude of eastdæle up-sprinʒende.||74 By the inwardeness of the mersy of oure God, in the which he springyng up fro on high hath visited us.|
|79 Onlẏhtan þam þe on þẏstrum 7 on deaðes sceade sittað. ure fet to ʒereccenne on sibbe weʒ:·||75 To geve light to them that sitten in derknessis, and in schadowe of deeth, to dresse oure feet into the weye of pees;|
|80 Soðlice se cnapa weox. 7 wæs on ʒaste ʒestranʒod. 7 wæs on westenum oð þone dæʒ hẏs ætẏwednessum on Israhel:·||76 And the child wexide, and was confortid in spiryt, and was in desert placis till to the day of his schewing to Ysrael.|
Of the Saxon poetry some specimen is necessary, though our ignorance of the laws of their metre and the quantities of their syllables, which it would be very difficult, perhaps impossible, to recover, excludes us from that pleasure which the old bards undoubtedly gave to their contemporaries.
The first poetry of the Saxons was without rhyme, and consequently must have depended upon the quantity of their syllables; but they began in time to imitate their neighbours, and close their verses with correspondent sounds.
The two passages, which I have selected, contain apparently the rudiments of our present lyrick measures, and the writers may be justly considered as the genuine ancestors of the English poets.
He mai him sore adreden,
Ðæt he ðanne ore bidde ne muʒen,
Uor þæt bilimfeð ilome.
He is wis þæt bit and bote
And bet biuoren dome.
Deað com on ðis midelard
Ðurð ðæs defles onde,
And senne and sosʒe and iswinc,
On se and on londe.
Ic am elder ðanne ic wes,
A wintre 7 ec a lore.
Ic ealdi more ðanne ic dede,
Mi wit oʒhte to bi more.
Se þæt hine selue uorʒet,
Uor wiue oþer uor childe.
He sal comen on euele stede,
Bute ʒod him bi milde.
Ne hopie wif to hire were,
Ne were to his wiue.
Bi for him selue eurich man,
Ðaer wile he bieð alíue.
Eurich man mid þæt he haueð,
Mai beʒʒen heueriche.
Se ðe lesse 7 se ðe more,
Here aider iliche.
Heuene and erðe he ouersieð,
His eʒhen bið fulbriht.
Sunne 7 mone 7 alle sterren,
Bieð ðiestre on his lihte.
He wot hwet ðencheð and hwet doþ,
Alle quike wihte.
Nis no louerd swich is xist,
Ne no kinʒ swich is drihte.
Heuene 7 erðe 7 all ðat is,
Biloken is on his honde.
He deð al þæt his wille is,
On sea and ec on londe.
He is ord albuten orde,
And ende albuten ende.
He one is eure on eche stede,
Wende wer ðu wende.
He is buuen us and bineðen,
Biuoren and ec bihind.
Se man þæt ʒodes wille deð,
Hie mai hine aihwar uinde.
Eche rune he iherð
And wot eche dede.
He ðurh siʒð eches iðanc,
Wai hwat sel us to rede.
Se man neure nele don ʒod,
Ne neure ʒod lif leden.
Er deð 7 dom come to his dure,
He mai him sore adreden.
Hunʒer 7 ðurst hete 7 chele,
Ecðe and all unhelðe.
Ðurh deð com on ðis midelard,
And oðer uniselðe.
Ne mai non herte hit iþenche,
Ne no tunʒe telle.
Hu muchele winum and hu uele,
Bieð inne helle.
Louie God mid ure hierte.
And mid all ure mihte.
And ure emcristene swo us self,
Swo us lereð drihte.
Sume ðer habbeð lesse merʒðe,
And sume ðer habbeð more.
Ech efter ðan þæt he dede,
Efter þæt he wanc sore.
Ne sel ðer bi bred ne win,
Ne oþer kennes esete.
God one sel bi eches lif,
And blisce and eche reste.
Ne sal ðar bi scete ne scrud,
Ne worldes wele none.
Ac si merʒþe þæt men us bihat,
All sall ben ʒod one.
Ne mai no merʒþe bi swo muchel,
Swo is ʒodes isihðe.
Hi is soþ sune and briht,
And dai bute nihte.
Ðer is wele bute wane,
And reste buten iswinche.
Se þæt mai and nele ðeder come,
Sore hit sel uorðenche.
Ðer is blisce buten tweʒe,
And lif buten deaðe.
Ðet eure sullen wunie ðer,
Bliðe hi bieþ and eaðe.
Ðer is ʒeuʒeþe buten elde,
And elde buten unhelþe.
Nis ðer forʒe ne sor non,
Ne non uniselðe.
Ðer me sel drihten isen,
Swo ase he is mid iwisse.
He one mai and sel al bien,
Enʒles and mannes blisce.
To ðare blisce us brinʒ ʒod,
Ðet rixeð buten ende.
Ðanne he ure saula unbint,
Of lichamlice bend.
Crist ʒeue us lede swich lif,
And habbe swichne ende.
Ðet we moten ðider cumen,
Ðanne we hennes wende.
About the year 1150, the Saxon began to take a form in which the beginning of the present English may be plainly discovered; this change seems not to have been the effect of the Norman conquest, for very few French words are found to have been introduced in the first hundred years after it; the language must therefore have been altered by causes like those which, notwithstanding the care of writers and societies instituted to obviate them, are even now daily making innovations in every living language. I have exhibited a specimen of the language of this age from the year 1135 to 1140 of the Saxon chronicle, of which the latter part was apparently written near the time to which it relates.
Ðis ʒære for þe kinʒ Stephne ofer sæ to Normandi. 7 þer wes under-fanʒen. forði þæt hi wenden þæt sculde ben alsuic alse þe eom wes. 7 for he hadde ʒet his tresor. ac he to-deld it 7 scatered sotlice. Micel hadde Henri kinʒ ʒadered ʒold 7 sẏluer. and na ʒod ne dide me for his saule þa of. Ða þe kinʒ Stephne to Enʒla-land com þa macod he his ʒaderinʒ æt Oxene-ford. 7 þar he nam þe biscop Roʒer of Seres-beri. 7 Alexander biscop of Lincoln. 7 te Canceler Roʒer hise neues. 7 dide ælle in prisun. til hi jafen up here castles. Ða þe suikes underʒæton þæt he milde man þas 7 softe 7 ʒod. 7 na justise ne dide. þa diden hi alle wunder. Hi hadden him manred maked and aðes suoren. ac hi nan treuðe ne heolden. alle he wæron for-sworen. 7 here treoðes for-loren. for æuric rice man his castles makede and aʒænes him heolden. and fẏlden þe land full of castles. Hi suencten suiðe þe wrecce men of þe land mid castel-weorces. þa þe castles waren maked. þa fẏlden hi mid deoules and ẏuele men. Ða namen hi þa men þe hi wenden þæt ani ʒod hefden. baðe be nihtes and be dæies. carl-men 7 wimmen. and diden heom in prisun efter ʒold and sẏluer. 7 pined heom un-tellendlice pininʒ. for ne wæren næure nan martẏrs swa pines alse hi wæron. Me henʒed up bi þe fet and þe hefed. 7 henʒen brẏniʒes on her fet. Me dide cnotted strenʒes abuton here hæued. 7 uurẏðen to þæt it ʒæde to þe hærnes. Hi diden heom in quarterne þar nadres 7 snakes 7 pades wæron inne. 7 drapen heom swa. Sume hi diden in crucet-hus. þæt is in an ceste þæt was scort 7 nareu. 7 un-dep. 7 dide scærpe stanes þer inne. 7 þrenʒde þe man þær inne. þæt hi bræcon alle þe limes. In mani of þe castles wæron lof 7 ʒrī. þæt wæron sachenteʒes þæt twa oðer þre men hadden onoh to bæron onne. þæt was swa maced þæt is fæstned to an beom. 7 diden an scærp iren abuton þa mannes þrote 7 his hals. þæt he ne mihte nowiderwardes ne sitten. ne lien. ne slepen. oc bæron al þæt iren. Mani þusen hi drapen mid hunʒær. J ne canne. 7 ne mai tellen alle þe wundes. ne alle þe pines þæt hi diden wrecce men on his land. 7 þæt lastede þa xix. wintre wile Stephne was kinʒ. 7 æure it was uuerse and uuerse. Hi læidenʒæildes on þe tunes æureū wile. 7 clepeden it tenserie. þa þe wrecce men ne hadden nan more to ʒiuen. þa ræueden hi and brendon alle þe tunes. þæt wel þu mihtes faren all adæis fare sculdest þu neure finden man in tune sittende. ne land tiled. Ða was corn dære. 7 flec. 7 cæse. 7 butere. for nan ne wæs o þe land. Wrecce men sturuen of hunʒær. sume jeden on ælmes þe waren sum wile rice men. sum fluʒen ut of lande. Wes næure ʒæt mare wreccehed on land. ne næure heðen men werse ne diden þan hi diden. for ouer siðon ne for-baren hi nouðer circe. ne cẏrce-iærd. oc nam al þe ʒod þæt þar inne was. 7 brenden sẏðen þe cẏrce 7 alteʒædere. Ne hi ne for-baren biscopes land. ne abbotes. ne preostes. ac ræueden muneces. 7 clerekes. 7 æuric man oðer þe ouer mẏhte. Gif twa men oðer þre coman ridend to an tun. al þe tunscipe fluʒæn for heom. wenden þæt hi wæron ræueres. Ðe biscopes 7 lered men heom cursede æure. oc was heom naht þar of. for his wæron all for-cursæd 7 for-suoren 7 forloren. War sæ me tilede. þe erðe ne bar nan corn. for þe land was all for-don mid suilce dædes. 7 hi sæden openlice þæt Crist slep. 7 his halechen. Suilc 7 mare þanne we cunnen sæin. we þolenden xix. wintre for ure sinnes. On al þis ẏuele time heold Martin abbot his abbotrice xx. winter. 7 half ʒær. 7 viii. dæis. mid micel suinc. 7 fand þe munekes. 7 te ʒestes al þæt heom behoued. 7 heold mẏcel carited in the hus. and þoð weðere wrohte on þe circe 7 sette þar to landes 7 wentes. 7 ʒoded it suẏðe and læt it refen. and brohte heom into þe newæ mẏnstre on s. Petres mæsse-dæi mid micel wurtscipe. þæt was anno ab incarnatione Dom. mcxl. a combustione loci xxiii. And he for to Rome 7 þær wæs wæl under-fanʒen fram þe Pape Euʒenie. 7 beʒæt thare priuileʒies. an of alle þe landes of þabbot-rice. 7 an oðer of þe landes þe lien to þe circe-wican. 7 ʒif he lenʒ moste liuen. alse he mint to don of þe horder-þẏcan. And he beʒæt in landes þæt rice men hefden mid strenʒþe. of Willelm Malduit þe heold Roʒinʒham þæ castel he wan Cotinʒham. 7 Estun. 7 of Huʒo of Waltuile he wan Hẏrtlinʒb. 7 Stanewiʒ. 7 lx. sold. of Aldewinʒle ælc ʒær. And he makede manie munekes. 7 plantede winiærd. 7 makede manie weorkes. 7 wende þe tun betere þan it ær wæs. and wæs ʒod munec 7 ʒod man. 7 forði hi luueden God and ʒod men. Nu we willen sæʒen sum del wat belamp on Stephne kinʒes time. On his time þe Judeus of Nor-wic bohton an Cristen cild beforen Estren. and pineden him alle þe ilce pininʒ þæt ure Drihten was pined. and on lanʒ-fridæi him on rode henʒen for ure Drihtnes luue. 7 sẏðen bẏrieden him. Wenden þæt it sculde ben for-holen. oc ure Drihtin atẏwede þæt he was hali martẏr. 7 to munekes him namen. 7 bebẏried him heʒlice. in ðe mẏnstre. 7 he maket þur ure Drihtin wunderlice and mani-fældlice miracles. 7 hatte he s. Willelm:·
On þis ʒær com Dauid kinʒ of Scotland mid ormete færd to þis land wolde winnan þis land. 7 him com toʒænes Willelm eorl of Albamar þe þe kinʒ adde beteht Euor-wic. 7 to oðer æuez men mid fæu men 7 fuhten wid heom. 7 flemden þe kinʒ æt te standard. 7 sloʒen suiðe micel of his ʒenʒe:·
On þis ʒær wolde þe kinʒ Stephne tæcen Rodbert eorl of Gloucestre. þe kinʒes sune Henries. ac he ne mihte for he wart it war. Ða efter hi þe lenʒten þesterede þe sunne 7 te dæi abuton nontid dæjes. þa men eten þæt me lihtede candles to æten bi. 7 þæt was xiii. kln. April. wæron men suiðe ofwundred. Ðer efter ford-feorde Willelm Ærce-biscop of Cantwar-bẏriʒ. 7 te kinʒ makede Teobald Ærce-biscop. þe was abbot in þe Bec. Ðer efter wæx suiðe micel uuerre betuẏx þe kinʒ 7 Randolf eorl of Cæstre noht forði þæt he ne jaf him al þæt he cuðe axen him. alse he dide alle oðre. oc æfre þe mare iaf heom þe wærse hi wæron him. Ðe eorl heold Lincol aʒænes þe kinʒ. 7 benam him al þæt he ahte to hauen. 7 te kinʒ for þider 7 besætte him 7 his broðer Willelm de R...are in þe castel. 7 te eorl stæl ut 7 ferde efter Rodbert eorl of Gloucestre. 7 broht him þider mid micel ferd. and fuhten swiðe on Candel-masse-dæi aʒenes heore lauerd. 7 namen him. for his men him suẏken 7 fluʒæn. and læd him to Bristowe and diden þar in prisun. 7 ...teres. Ða was all Enʒle-land stẏred mar þan ær wæs. and all ẏuel wæs in lande. Ðer efter com þe kinʒes dohter Henries þe hefde ben Emperic on Alamanie. 7 nu wæs cuntesse in Anʒou. 7 com to Lundene. 7 te Lundenissce folc hire wolde tæcun 7 scæ fleh. 7 forles þas micel:· Ðer efter þe biscop of Win-cestre Henri. þe kinʒes broðer Stephnes. spac wid Rodbert eorl 7 wid þemperice and swor heom aðas þæt he neure ma mid te kinʒ his broðer wolde halden. 7 cursede alle þe men þe mid him heolden. and sæde heom þæt he wolde iiuen heom up Win-cestre. 7 dide heom cumen þider. Ða hi þær inne wæren þa com þe kinʒes cuen... hire strenʒðe 7 besæt heom. þæt þer wæs inne micel hunʒær. Ða hi ne lenʒ ne muhten þolen. þa stali hi ut 7 fluʒen. 7 hi wurðen war wiðuten 7 folecheden heom. and namen Rodbert eorl of Glou-cestre and ledden him to Roue-cestre. and diden him þare in prisun. and te emperice fleh into an mẏnstre. Ða feorden ða wise men betwẏx. þe kinʒes freond 7 te eorles freond. and sahtlede sua þæt me sculde leten ut þe kinʒ of prisun for þe eorl. 7 te eorl for þe kinʒ. 7 sua diden. Siðen ðer efter sathleden þe kinʒ 7 Randolf eorl at Stan-ford 7 aðes sworen and treuðes fæston þæt her nouðer sculde besuiken oðer. 7 it ne for-stod naht. for þe kinʒ him siðen nam in Hamtun. þurhe wicci ræd. 7 dide him in prisun. 7 ef sones he let him ut þurhe wærse red to þæt forewarde þæt he suor on halidom. 7 ʒẏsles fand. þæt he alle his castles sculde iiuen up. Sume he iaf up and sume ne iaf he noht. and dide þanne wærse ðanne he hær sculde. Ða was Enʒle-land suiðe to-deled. sume helden mid te kinʒ. 7 sume mid þemperice. for þa þe kinʒ was in prisun. þa wenden þe eorles 7 te rice men þæt he neure mare sculde cumme ut. 7 sætleden wẏd þemperice. 7 brohten hire into Oxen-ford. and iauen hire þe burch:· Ða ðe kinʒ was ute. þa herde þæt sæʒen. and toc his feord 7 besæt hire in þe tup. 7 me læt hire dun on niht of þe tup mid rapes. 7 stal ut 7 scæ fleh 7 iæde on fote to Walinʒ-ford. Ðær efter scæ ferde ofer sæ. 7 hi of Normandi wenden alle fra þe kinʒ to þe eorl of Anʒæu. sume here þankes 7 sume here un-þankes for he besæt heom til hi aiauen up here castles. 7 hi nan helpe ne hæfden of þe kinʒ. Ða ferde Eustace þe kinʒes sune to France. 7 name þe kinʒes suster of France to wife. wende to biʒæton Normandi þær þurh. oc he spedde litel. 7 be ʒode rihte. for he was an ẏuel man. for ware se he... dide mare ẏuel þanne ʒod. he reuede þe landes 7 læide mic.......s on. he brohte his. wif to Enʒle-land. 7 dide hire in þe caste ......teb. ʒod wimman scæ wæs. oc scæ hedde litel blisse mid him. 7 xpist ne wolde þæt he sculde lanʒe rixan. 7 wærd ded and his moder beien. 7 te eorl of Anʒæu wærd ded. 7 his sune Henri toc to þe rice. And te cuen of France to-dælde fra þe kinʒ. 7 scæ com to þe iunʒe eorl Henri. 7 he toc hire to wiue. 7 al Peitou mid hire. Ða ferde he mid micel færd into Enʒle-land. 7 wan castles. 7 te kinʒ ferde aʒenes him micel mare ferð 7 þoð-wæþere futen hi noht. oc ferden þe Ærce-biscop 7 te wise men betwux heom. 7 makede þæt sahte þæt te kinʒ sculde ben lauerd 7 kinʒ wile he liuede. 7 æfter his dæi ware Henri kinʒ. 7 he helde him for fader 7 he him for sune. and sib 7 sæhte sculde ben betwẏx heom 7 on al Enʒle-land. Ðis and te oðre foruuardes þet hi makeden suoren to halden þe kinʒ 7 te eorl. and te biscop. 7 te eorles. 7 ricemen alle. Ða was þe eorl underfanʒen æt Win-cestre and æt Lundene mid micel wurtscipe. and alle diden him man-red. and suoren þe pais to halden. and hit ward sone suiðe ʒod pais suo þæt neure was here. Ða was ðe kinʒ strenʒere þanne he æuert her was. 7 te eorl ferde ouer sæ. 7 al folc him luuede. for he dide ʒod justise 7 makede pais:·
Nearly about this time, the following pieces of poetry seem to have been written, of which I have inserted only short fragments; the first is a rude attempt at the present measure of eight syllables, and the second is a natural introduction to Robert of Gloucester, being composed in the same measure, which, however rude and barbarous it may seem, taught the way to the Alexandrines of the French poetry.
FUR in see bi west spaẏnge.
Is a lond ihote cokaẏgne.
Ðer nis lond under heuenriche.
Of wel of godnis hit iliche.
Ðoẏ paradis be miri and briẏt.
Cokaẏgn is of fairir siẏt.
What is þer in paradis.
Bot grasse and flure and greneris.
Ðoẏ þer be ioi and gret dute.
Ðer nis met bote frute.
Ðer nis halle bure no bench.
Bot watir man is þursto quench.
Beþ þer no men but two.
Helẏ and enok also.
Clinʒlich maẏ hi go.
Whar þe woniþ men no mo.
In cokaẏgne is met and drink.
Wiþute care how and swink.
Ðe met is trie þe drink so clere.
To none russin and sopper.
I sigge for soþ boute were.
Ðer nis lond on erþe is pere.
Under heuen nis lond i wisse.
Of so mochil ioi and blisse.
Ðer is mani swete siẏte.
Al is dai nis þer no niẏte.
Ðer nis baret noþer strif.
Nis þer no deþ ac euer lif.
Ðer nis lac of met no cloþ.
Ðer nis no man no woman wroþ.
Ðer nis serpent wolf no fox.
Hors no capil. kowe no ox.
Ðer nis schepe no swine no gote.
No non horwẏla god it wote.
Noþer harate noþer stode.
Ðe land is ful of oþe gode.
Nis þer flei fle no lowse.
In cloþ in toune bed no house.
Ðer nis dunnir slete no hawle.
No non vile worme no snawile.
No non storm rein no winde.
Ðer nis man no woman blinde.
Ok al is game ioi ant gle.
Wel is him þat þer mai be.
Ðer beþ rivers gret and fine.
Of oile melk honi and wine.
Watir seruiþ þer to noþing.
Bot to siẏt and to waussing.
SANCTA MARGARETTA. Olde ant ẏonge i preit ou oure folies for to lete.
Ðenchet on god þat ẏef ou wit oure sunnes to bete.
Here mai tellen ou. wid wordes feire ant swete.
Ðe vie of one meidan. was hoten Maregrete.
Hire fader was a patriac. as ic ou tellen maẏ.
In auntioge wif eches i ðe false laẏ.
Deve godes ant doumbe. he served nitt ant daẏ.
So deden monẏ oþere. þat singet weilaweẏ.
Theodosius was is nome. on crist ne levede he noutt.
He levede on þe false godes. ðat weren wid honden wroutt.
Ðo þat child sculde christine ben. ic com him well in þoutt.
E bed wen it were ibore. to deþe it were ibroutt.
Ðe moder was an heþene wif þat hire to wẏman bere.
Ðo þat child ibore was. nolde ho hit furfare.
He sende it into asẏe. wid messagers ful ẏare.
To a norice þat hire wiste. ant sette hire to lore.
Ðe norice þat hire wiste. children aheuede seuene.
Ðe eitteþe was maregrete. cristel maẏ of heuene.
Tales ho ani tolde. ful feire ant ful euene.
Wou ho þoleden martirdom. sein Laurence ant seinte Steuene.
Olde ant ẏonge i preit ou oure folies for to lete.
In these fragments, the adulteration of the Saxon tongue, by a mixture of the Norman, becomes apparent; yet it is not so much changed by the admixture of new words, which might be imputed to commerce with the continent, as by changes of its own forms and terminations; for which no reason can be given.
Hitherto the language used in this island, however different in successive time, may be called Saxon; nor can it be expected, from the nature of things gradually changing, that ny time can be assigned, when the Saxon may be said to cease, and the English to commence. Robert of Gloucester however, who is placed by the criticks in the thirteenth century, seems to have used a kind of intermediate diction, neither Saxon nor English; in his work therefore we see the transition exhibited, and, as he is the first of our writers in rhyme, of whom any large work remains, a more extensive quotation is extracted. He writes apparently in the same measure with the foregoing authour of St. Margarite, which polished into greater exactness, appeared to our ancestors so suitable to the genius of the English language, that it was continued in use almost to the middle of the seventeenth century.
Of þe bataẏles of Denemarch, þat hii dude in þẏs londe
þat worst were of alle oþere, we mote abbe an honde.
Worst hii were. vor oþere adde somwanne ẏdo,
As Romeẏns & Saxons, & wel wuste þat lond þerto.
Ac hii ne kepte ẏt holde noʒt, bote robbẏ, and ssende,
And destrue, & berne, & sle, & ne couþe abbe non ende.
And bote lute ẏt nas worþ, þeẏ hii were ouercome ẏlome.
Vor mẏd ssẏpes and gret poer as prest efsone hii come.
Kẏng Adelwolf of þẏs lond kẏng was tuentẏ ʒer.
þe Deneẏs come bẏ hẏm rẏuor þan hii dude er.
Vor in þe al our vorst ʒer of ẏs kẏnedom
Mẏd þre & þrẏttẏ ssẏpuol men her prince hẏder come,
And at Souþhamtone arẏued, an hauene bẏ Souþe.
Anoþer gret ost þulke tẏme aryuede at Portesmouþe.
þe kẏng nuste weþer kepe, at delde ẏs ost atuo.
þe Denes adde þe maẏstre. þo al was ẏdo,
And bẏ Estangle & Lẏndeseẏe hii wende vorþ atte laste,
And so hamward al bẏ Kent, & slowe & barnde vaste.
Aʒen wẏnter hii wende hem. anoþer ʒer est hii come.
And destrude Kent al out, and Londone nome.
þus al an ten ʒer þat lond hii broʒte þer doune,
So þat in þe teþe ʒer of þe kẏnge's croune,
Al bẏsouþe hii come alond, and þet folc of Somersete.
þoru þe bẏssop Alcston and þet folc of Dorsete
Hii come & smẏte an bataẏle, & þere, þoru Gode's grace,
þe Deneẏs were al bẏneþe, & þe lond folc adde þe place,
And more prowesse dude þo, þan þe kẏng mẏʒte bẏuore,
þeruore gode lond men ne beþ noʒt al verlore.
þe kẏnʒ was þe boldore þo, & aʒen hem þe more drou,
And ẏs foure godes sones woxe vaste ẏ nou,
Edelbold and Adelbryʒt, Edelred and Alfred.
þẏs was a stalwarde tem, & of gret wẏsdom & red,
And kẏnges were al foure, & defendede wel þẏs lond,
An Deneys dude ssame ẏnou, þat me volwel vond.
In syxteþe ʒere of þe kẏnge's kẏnedom
Is eldeste sone Adelbold gret ost to hẏm nome,
And ẏs fader also god, and oþere heye men al so,
And wende aʒen þẏs Deneẏs, þat muche wo adde ẏ do.
Vor myd tuo hondred ssẏpes & an alf at Temse mouþ hii come,
And Londone, and Kanterburẏ, and oþer tounes nome,
And so vorþ in to Soþereẏe, & slowe & barnde vaste,
þere þe kyng and ẏs sone hem mette atte laste.
þere was bataẏle strong ẏnou ẏsmẏte in an þrowe.
þe godes kẏnʒtes leẏe adoun as gras, wan medew mowe.
Heueden, (þat were of ẏsmẏte,) & oþer lẏmes also,
Flete in blode al fram þe grounde, ar þe bataẏle were ẏdo.
Wanne þat blod stod al abrod, vas þer gret wo ẏ nou.
Nẏs ẏt reuþe vorto hure, þat me so volc slou?
Ac our suete Louerd atte laste ssewede ẏs suete grace,
And sende þe Cristẏne Englẏsse men þe maẏstrẏe in þe place,
And þe heþene men of Denemarch bẏneþe were echon.
Nou nas þer ʒut in Denemarch Cristendom non;
þe kẏng her after to holẏ chẏrche ẏs herte þe more drou,
And teþeʒede wel & al ẏs lond, as hii aʒte, wel ẏ nou.
Seẏn Swẏthẏn at Wẏnchestre bẏssop þo was,
And Alcston at Sẏrebourne, þat amendede muche þẏs cas.
þe kẏng was wel þe betere man þoru her beẏre red,
Tuentẏ wẏnter he was kẏng, ar he were ded.
At Wẏnchestre he was ẏbured, as he ʒut lẏþ þere.
Adelbold, the eldore, þe kẏnedom of Estsex,
And suþþe Adelbrẏʒt, Kent and Westsex.
Eẏʒte hondred ʒer ẏt was and seuene and fẏftẏ al so,
After þat God anerþe com, þat þẏs dede was ẏdo.
Boþe hii wuste bẏ her tẏme wel her kẏnedom,
At þe vyfte ʒer Adelbold out of þẏs lyue nome.
At Ssẏrebourne he was ẏbured, & ẏs broþer Adelbrẏʒt
His kẏnedom adde after hẏm, as lawe was and rẏʒt.
Bẏ ẏs daye þe verde com of þe heþene men wel prout,
And Hamtessyre and destrude Wẏnchestre al out.
And þat lond folc of Hamtessyre her red þo nome
And of Barcssyre, and foʒte and þe ssrewen ouercome.
Adelbrẏʒt was kẏng of Kent ʒeres folle tene,
And of Westsex bote vẏue, þo he deẏde ẏch wene.
Adelred was after hẏm kẏng ẏ mad in þe place,
Eyʒte hondred & seuene & sẏxtẏ as in þe ʒer of grace.
þe vorste ʒer of ẏs kẏnedom þe Deneẏs þẏcke com,
And robbede and destrude, and cẏtes vaste nome.
Maẏstres hii adde of her ost, as ẏt were dukes, tueẏe,
Hẏnguar and Hubba, þat ssrewen were beẏe.
In Est Angle hii bẏleuede, to rest hem as ẏt were,
Mẏd her ost al þe wynter, of þe vorst ʒere.
þe oþer ʒer hii dude hem vorþ, & ouer Homber come,
And slowe to grounde & barnde, & Euerwẏk nome.
þer was bataẏle strong ẏ nou, vor ẏslawe was þere
Osryckẏng of Homberlond, & monẏe þat with hẏm were.
þo Homberlond was þus ẏffend, hii wende & tounes nome.
So þat atte laste to Estangle aʒen hẏm come.
þer hii barnde & robberde, & þat folc to grounde slowe,
And, as wolues among ssep, reulẏch hem to drowe.
Seẏnt Edmond was þo her kẏng, & þo he seẏ þat deluol cas
þat me morþrede so þat folc, & non amendement nas,
He ches leuere to deẏe hẏmsulf, þat such sorwe to ẏseẏ.
He dude hẏm vorþ among ẏs son, nolde he noþẏg fle.
Hii nome hẏm & scourged hẏm, & suþþe naked hẏm bounde
To a tre, & to hẏm ssote, & made hẏm monẏ a wounde,
þat þe arewe were on hẏm þo þẏcce, þat no stede nas bẏleuede.
Atte laste hii martred hẏm, & smẏte of ẏs heued.
þe sẏxte ʒer of þe crounement of Aldered þe kẏng
A nẏwe ost com into þẏs lond, gret þoru alle þẏng,
And anon to Redẏnge robbede and slowe.
þe king and Alfred ẏs broþer nome men ẏnowe,
Mette hem, and a bataẏle smẏte vp Assesdoune.
þer was monẏ moder chẏld, þat sone laẏ þer doune.
þe bataẏle ẏlaste vorte nẏʒt, and þer were aslawe
Vẏf dukes of Denemarch, ar hii wolde wyþ drawe,
And mony þousend of oþer men, & þo gonne hii to fle;
Ac hii adde alle ẏbe assend, ʒẏs þe nẏʒt nadde ẏ be.
Tueye bataẏles her after in þe sulf ʒere
Hii smyte, and at boþe þe heþene maẏstres were.
þe kẏng Aldered sone þo þen weẏ of deþ nome,
As ẏt vel, þe vẏstẏ ʒer of ẏs kẏnedom.
At Wẏmbourne he was ẏbured, as God ʒef þat cas,
þe gode alfred, ẏs broþer, after hẏm kẏng was.
Alfred, þẏs noble man, as in þe ʒer of grace he nom
Eẏʒte hondred & sẏxtẏ & tuelue þe kẏnedom.
Arst he adde at Rome ẏbe, &, vor ẏs grete wẏsdom,
þe pope Leon hẏm blessede, þo he þuder com,
And þe kynge's croune of hẏs lond, þat in þẏs lond ʒut ẏs:
And he led hẏm to be kẏng, ar he kẏng were ẏwẏs.
An he was kẏng of Engelond, of alle þat þer come,
þat vorst þus ẏlad was of þe pope of Rome,
An suþþe oþeer after hẏm of þe erchebẏssopes echon.
So þat hẏuor hẏm pore kẏng nas þer non.
In þe Souþ sẏde of Temese nẏne bataẏles he nome
Aʒen þe Deneẏs þe vorst ʒer of ẏs kẏnedom.
Nẏe ʒer he was þus in þẏs lond in bataẏle & in wo,
An ofte sẏþe aboue was, and bẏneþe ostor mo;
So longe, þat hẏm nere bẏ leuede bote þre ssẏren in ẏs hond,
Hamtessyre, and Wẏltessyre, and Somersete, of al ẏs lond.
A daẏ as he werẏ was, and asuoddrẏnge hẏm none
And ẏs men were ẏwend auẏsseþ, Seyn Cutbert to hym com,
“ Ich am,” he seyde, “Cutbert, to þe ẏcham ẏwend
“ To brẏnge þe gode tẏtẏnges. Fram God ẏcham ẏsend.
“ Vor þat folc of þẏs lond to sẏnne her wẏlle al ʒeue,
“ And ʒut nolle herto her sẏnnes bẏleue
“ þoru me & oþer halewen, þat in þẏs lond were ẏbore;
“ þan vor ʒou bẏddeþ God, wanne we beþ hẏm bẏuore,
“ Hour Louerd mẏd ẏs eẏen of milce on þe lokeþ þeruore,
“ And þẏ poer þe wole ʒẏue aʒen, þat þou ast neẏ verlore.
“ And þat þou þer of soþ ẏse, þou ssalt abbe tokẏnẏnge.
“ Vor þẏm men, þat beþ ago to daẏ auẏssẏnge,
“ In lepes & in coufles so muche vyss hii ssolde hẏm brynge,
“ þat ech man wondrẏ ssal of so gret cacchẏnge.
“ And þe mor vor þe harde vorste, þat þe water ẏfrore hẏs,
“ þat þe more aʒen þe kunde of vyssẏnge ẏt ẏs.
“ Of serue ẏt wel aʒen God, and ẏlef me ys messager,
“ And þou ssall þẏ wẏlle abẏde, as ẏcham ẏtold her.”
As þẏs kẏng herof awoc, and of þẏs sẏʒte þoʒte,
Hys vẏssares come to hẏm, & so gret won of fyss hẏm broʒte,
þat wonder ẏt was, & namelẏche vor þe weder was so colde.
þo lẏuede þe god man wel, þat Seyn Cutbert adde ẏtold.
In Deuenẏssyre þer after arẏuede of Deneẏs
þre and tuentẏ ssẏpuol men, all aʒen þe peẏs,
þe kẏnge's broþer of Denemarch duc of ost was.
Oure kẏnge's men of Engelond mette hem bẏ cas,
And smẏte þer an bataẏle, and her gret duc slowe,
And eyʒte hondred & fourtẏ men, & her caronẏes to drowe.
þo kyng Alfred hurde þẏs, ẏs herte gladede þo,
þat lond folc to hẏm come so þẏcke so ẏt mẏʒte go,
Of Somersete, of Wẏlterssẏre, of Hamteslẏre þerto,
Eure as he wende, and of ẏs owe folc al so.
So þat he adde poer ẏnou, and atte laste hii come,
And a bataẏle at Edendone aʒen þe Deneẏs nome,
And slowe to grounde, & wonne þe maẏstre of the velde.
þe kẏng & ẏs grete duke bẏgonne hem to ʒelde
To þe kẏng Alfred to ẏs wẏlle, and ostages toke,
Vorto wende out of ẏs lond, ʒẏf he ẏt wolde loke;
And ʒut þerto, vor ẏs loue, to auonge Cristendom.
Kẏng Gurmund, þe hexte kẏng, vorst þer to come.
Kẏng Alfred ẏs godfader was. & ẏbaptẏsed ek þer were
þrettẏ of her hexte dukes. and muche of þat folc þere
Kẏng Alfred hem huld wẏþ hẏm tuelf dawes as he hende,
And suþþe he ʒef hem large ʒẏftes, and let hẏm wende.
Hii, þat nolde Cristyn be, of lande flowe þo,
And byʒonde see in France dude wel muche wo.
ʒut þe ssrewen come aʒn, and muche wo here wroʒte.
Ac þe kẏng Alfred atte laste to ssame hem euere broʒte.
Kẏng Alfred was þe wẏsost kẏng, þat long was bẏuore.
Vor þeẏ me segge þe lawes beþ in worre tẏme vorlore,
Nas ẏt noʒt so hiis daẏe. vor þeẏ he in worre were,
Lawes he made rẏʒtuollore, and strengore þan er were.
Clerc he was god ynou, and ʒut, as me tellþ me,
He was more þan ten ʒer old, ar he couþe ẏs abece.
Ac ẏs gode moder ofte smale ʒẏftes hẏm tok,
Vor to byleue oþer ple, and lokẏon ẏs boke.
So þat bẏ por clergẏe ẏs rẏʒt lawes he wonde,
þat neuere er nere ẏ mad, to gouernẏ ẏs lond.
And vor þe worre was so muche of þe luþer Deneẏs,
þe men of þẏs sulue lond were of þe worse peẏs.
And robbede and slowe oþere, þeruor he bẏuonde,
þat þer were hondredes in eche contreẏe of ẏs lond,
And in ech toune of þe hondred a teþẏnge were also,
And þat ech man wyþoute gret lond in teþẏnge were ẏdo,
And þat ech man knewe oþer þat in teþẏnge were,
And wuste somdel of her stat, ʒẏf me þu vp hem bere.
So streẏt he was, þat þeẏ me ledde amẏdde weẏes heẏe
Seluer, þat non man ne dorste ẏt nẏme, þeẏ he ẏt seẏe.
Abbeẏs he rerde monẏ on, and monẏ studes ẏwys.
Ac Wynchestrye he rerdeon, þat nẏwe munstre ẏcluped ẏs.
Hẏs lẏf eẏʒte and tuentẏ ʒer in ẏs kẏnedom ẏlaste.
After ẏs deþ he was ẏbured at Wẏnchestre atte laste.
Sir John Mandeville wrote, as he himself informs us, in the fourteenth century, and his work, which comprising a relation of many different particulars, consequently required the use of many words and phrases, may be properly specified in this place. Of the following quotations, I have chosen the first, because it shows, in some measure, the state of European science as well as of the English tongue; and the second, because it is valuable for the force of thought and beauty of expression.
In that lond, ne in many othere bezonde that, no man may see the sterre transmontane, that is clept the sterre of the see, that is unmevable, and that is toward the Northe, that we clepen the lode sterre. But men seen another sterre, the contrarie to him, that is toward the Southe, that is clept Antartyk. And right as the schip men taken here avys here, and governe hem be the lode sterre, right so don schip men bezonde the parties, be the sterre of the Southe, the which sterre apperethe not to us. And this sterre, that is toward the Northe, that wee clepen the lode sterre, ne apperethe not to hem. For whiche cause, men may wel perceyve, that the lond and the see ben of rownde schapp and forme. For the partie of the firmament schewethe in o contree, that schewethe not in another contree. And men may well preven be experience and sotyle compassement of wytt that zif a man fond passages be schippes, that wolde go to serchen the world, men myghte go be schippe alle aboute the world, and aboven and benethen. The whiche thing I prove thus, aftre that I have seyn. For I have been toward the parties of Braban, and beholden the Astrolabre, that the sterre that is clept the transmontayne, is 53 degrees highe. And more sorthere in Almayne and Bewme, it hathe 58 degrees. And more sorthe toward the parties septemtrioneles, it is 62 degrees of heghte, and certyn mynutes. For I my self have mesured it by the Astrolabre. Now schulle ze knowe, that azen the Transmontayne, is the tother sterre, that is clept Antartyke; as I have seyd before. And tho 2 sterres ne meeven nevere. And be hem turnethe alle the firmament, righte as dothe a wheel, that turnethe be his axille tree: so that tho sterres beren the firmament in 2 egalle parties; so that it hathe als mochel aboven, as it hathe benethen. Aftre this, I have gon toward the parties meridionales, that is toward the Southe: and I have founden, that in Lybye, men seen first the sterre Antartyk. And so fer I have gon more in tho contrees, that I have founde that sterre more highe; so that toward the highe Lybye, it is 18 degrees of heghte, and certeyn minutes (of the which, 60 minutes maken a degree) aftre goynge be see and be londe, toward this contree, of that I have spoke, and to other yles and londes bezonde that contree, I have founded the sterre Antartyk of 33 degrees of heghte, and mo mynutes. And zif I hadde had companye and schippynge, for to go more bezonde, I trowe wel in certyn, that wee scholde have seen alle the roundnesse of the firmament alle aboute. For as I have seyd zou be forn, the half of the firmament is betwene tho 2 sterres: the which halfondelle I have seyn. And of the tother halfondelle, I have seyn toward the Northe, undre the Transmontane 62 degrees and 10 mynutes; and toward the partie maridionalle, I have seen undre the Antartyk 33 degrees and 16 mynutes: and thanne the halfondelle of the firmament in alle, ne holdethe not but 180 degrees. And of tho 180, I have seen 62 on that o part, and 33 on that other part, that be 95 degrees, and nyghe the halfondelle of a degree; and so there ne faylethe but that I have seen alle the firmament, saf 84 degrees and the halfondelle of a degree; and that is not the fourthe part of the firmament. For the 4 partie of the roundness of the firmament holt 90 degrees: so there faylethe but 5 degrees and an half, of the fourthe partie. And also I have seen the 3 parties of alle the roundesse of the firmament, and more zit 5 degrees and an half. Be the whiche I seye zou certeynly, that men may envirowne alle the erthe of alle the world, as wel undre as aboven, and turnen azen to his contree, that hadde companye and schippynge and conduyt: and alle weyes he scholde fynde men, londes, and yles, als wel as in this contree. For zee wyten welle, that thei that ben toward the Antartyk, thei ben streghte, feet azen feet of hem, that dwellen undre the transmontane; als wel as wee and thei that dwellyn under us, ben feet azenst feet. For alle the parties of see and of lond han here appositees, habitables or trepassables, and thei of this half and bezond half. And wytethe wel, that aftre that, that I may parceyve and comprehende, the londes of Prestre John, emperour of Ynce ben undre us. For in goynge from Scotland or from Englond toward Jerusalem, men gon upward alweys. For oure lond is in the lowe partie of the erthe, toward the West: and the lond of Prestre John is the lowe partie of the erthe, toward the Est: and thei han there the day, whan wee have the nyghte, and also highe to the contrarie, thei han the nyghte, wan wee han the day. For the erthe and the see ben of round forme and schapp, as I have seyd beforn. And that that men gon upward to o cost, men gon dounward to another cost. Also zee have herd me seye, that Jerusalem is in the myddes of the world; and that may men preven and schewen there, be a spere, that is pighte in to the erthe, upon the hour of mydday, whan it is equenoxium, that schewethe no schadwe on no syde. And that is scholde ben in the myddes of the world, David wytnessethe it in the Psautre, where he seythe, Deus operatus est salutē in medio terre. Thanne thei that parten fro the parties of the West, for to go toward Jerusalem, als many iorneyes as thei gon upward for to go thidre, in als many iorneyes may thei gon fro Jerusalem, unto other consynyes of the supersicialtie of the erthe bezonde. And whan men gon bezonde tho iourneyes, towarde Ynde and to the foreyn yles, alle is eavyronynge the roundnesse of the erthe and of the see, undre oure countrees on this half. And therefore hathe it befallen many tymes of o thing, that I have herd cownted, whan I was zong; how a worthi man departed sometyme from oure contrees, for to go serche the world. And so passed Ynde, and the yles bezonde Ynde, where ben mo than 5000 yles: and so longe he wente be see and long, and so enviround the world be many seysons, that he found an yle, where he herde speke his owne langage, callynge on oxen in the plowghe, suche wordes as men speken to bestes in his owne contree: whereof he hadde gret mervayle: for he knewe not how it myghte be. But I seye, that he had gon so longe, be londe and be see, that he had envyround alle the erthe, that he was comen azen envirounynge, that is to seye, goynge aboute, unto his owne marches, zif he wolde have passed forthe, til he had founden his contree and his owne knouleche. But he turned azen from thens, from whens he was come fro; and so he loste moche peynefulle labour, as him self seyde, a gret while aftre, that he was comen hom. For it befelle aftre, that he wente in to Norweye; and there tempest of the see toke him; and he arryved in an yle; and whan he was in that yle, he knew wel, that it was the yle, where he had herd speke his own langage before, and the callynge of the oxen at the plowghe: and that was possible thinge. But how it semethe to symple men unlerned, that men ne mowe not go undre the erthe, and also that men scholde falle toward the hevene, from undre! But that may not be, upon lesse, than wee mowe falle toward hevene, fro the erthe, where wee ben. For fro what partie of the erthe, that men duelle, outher aboven or benethen, it semethe alweyes to hem that duellen, that thei gon more righte than ony other folk. And righte as it semethe to us, that thei ben undre us, righte so it semethe hem, that wee ben undre hem. For zif a man myghte falle fro the erthe unto the firmament; be grettere resoun, the erthe and the see, that ben so grete and so hevy, scholde fallen to the firmament: but that may not be: and therefore seithe oure Lord God, Non timeas me, qui suspendi terrā ex nichilo? And alle be it, that it be possible thing, that men may so envyronne alle the world, natheles of a 1000 persones, on ne myghte not happen to returnen to his contree. For, for the gretnesse of the erthe and of the see, men may go be a 1000 and a 1000 other weyes, that no man cowde redye him perfitely toward the parties that he cam fro, but zif it were be aventure and happ, or be the grace of God. For the erthe is fulle large and fulle gret, and holt in roundnesse and aboute envyroun, be aboven and be benethen 20425 myles, aftre the opynyoun of the olde wife astronomeres. And here seyenges I repreve noughte. But aftre my lytylle wyt, it semethe me, savynge here reverence, that it is more. And for to have bettere understondynge, I seye thus, be ther ymagyned a figure, that hathe a gret compas; and aboute the poynt of the gret compas, that is clept the centre, be made another litille compas: than aftre, be the gret compass devised be lines in manye parties; and that alle the lynes meeten at the centre; so that in as many parties, as the grete compas schal be departed, in als manye, schalle be departed the litille, that is aboute the centre, alle be it, that the spaces ben lesse. Now thanne, be the gret compas represented for the firmament, and the litille compas represented for the erthe. Now thanne the firmament is devysed, be astronomeres, in 12 signes; and every signe is devysed in 30 degrees, that is 360 degrees, that the firmament hathe aboven. Also, be the erthe devysed in als many parties, as the firmament; and lat every partye answere to a degree of the firmament: and wytethe it wel, that aftre the auctoures of astronomye, 700 furlonges of erthe answeren to a degree of the firmament; and tho ben 87 miles and 4 furlonges. Now be that here multiplyed be 360 fithes; and than thei ben 31500 myles, every of 8 furlonges, aftre myles of oure contree. So moche hathe the erthe in roundnesse, and of heghte enviroun, aftre myn opynyoun and myn undirsondynge. And zee schulle undirstonde, that aftre the opynyoun of olde wise philosophres and astronomeres, oure contree ne Irelond ne Wales ne Scotlond ne Norweye ne the other yles costynge to hem, ne ben not in the supersicyalte cownted aboven the erthe; as it schewethe be alle the bokes of astronomye. For the supersicialtee of the erthe is departed in 7 parties, for the 7 planetes: and tho parties ben clept clymates. And oure parties be not of the 7 clymates: for thei ben descendynge toward the West. And also these yles of Ynde, which beth evene azenst us, beth nought reckned in the climates: for thei ben azenst us, that ben in the lowe contree. And the 7 clymates strcchen hem envyrounynge the world.
II. and I John Maundevylle knyghte aboveseyd, (aale thoughe I bē unworthi) that departed from oure contrees and passed the see, the zeer of grace 1322. that have passed manye londes and manye yles and contrees, and cerched manye fulle straunge places, and have ben in many a fulle gode honourable companye, and at many a faire dede of armes, (alle be it that I dide none myself, for myn unable insuffisance) now I am comen hom (mawgree my self) to reste: for gowtes, artetykes, that me distreynen, tho diffynen the ende of my labour, azenst my wille (God knowethe.) And thus takynge solace in my wrecched reste, recordynge the tyme passed, I have fulfilled theise thinges and putte hem wryten in this boke, as it wolde come in to my mynde, the zeer of grace 1356 in the 34 zeer that I departede from oure contrees. Wherfore I preye to ale the rederes and hereres of this boke, zif it plese hem, that thei wolde preyen to God for me: and I schalle preye for hem. And alle tho that seyn for me a Pater noster, with an Ave Maria, that God forzeve me my synnes, I make hem partneres and graunte hem part of alle the gode pilgrymages and of alle the gode dedes, that I have don, zif ony be to his plesance: and noughte only of tho, but of alle that evere I schalle do unto my lyfes ende. And I beseche Almyghty God, fro whom alle godenesse and grace comethe fro, that he vouchesaf, of his excellent mercy and habundant grace, to fulie fylle hire soules with inspiracioun of the Holy Gost, in makynge defence of alle hire gostly enemyes here in erthe, to hire salvacioun, bothe of body and soule; to worschipe and thankynge of him, that is three and on, with outen qualitee, good, and with outen quantytee, gret; that in alle places is present, and alle thinges contenynynge; the whiche that no goodnesse may amende, ne non evelle empeyre; that in perfeyte trynytee lyvethe and regnethe God, be alle worldes and be alle tymes. Amen, Amen, Amen.
The first of our authours, who can be properly said to have written English, was Sir John Gower, who, in his Confession of a Lover, calls Chaucer his disciple, and may therefore be considered as the father of our poetry.
Nowe for to speke of the commune,
It is to drede of that fortune,
Which hath befalle in sondrye londes:
But ofte for defaute of bondes
All sodeinly, er it be wist,
A tunne, whan his lie arist
Tobreketh, and renneth all aboute,
Whiche els shulde nought gone out.
And eke full ofte a littell skare
Vpon a banke, er men be ware,
Let in the streme, whiche with gret peine,
If any man it shall restreine.
Where lawe failleth, errour groweth.
He is not wise, who that ne troweth.
For it hath proued oft er this.
And thus the common clamour is
In euery londe, where people dwelleth:
And eche in his complainte telleth,
How that the worlde is miswent,
And thervpon his argument
Yeueth euery man in sondrie wise:
But what man wolde him selfe auise
His conscience, and nought misuse,
He maie well at the first excuse
His god, whiche euer stant in one,
In him there is defaute none
So must it stande vpon vs selue,
Nought only vpon ten ne twelue,
But plenarly vopon vs all.
For man is cause of that shall fall.
The history of our language is now brought to the point at which the history of our poetry is generally supposed to commence, the time of the illustrious Geoffry Chaucer, who may perhaps, with great justice, be stiled the first of our versifyers who wrote poetically. He does not however appear to have deserved all the praise which he has received, or all the censure that he has suffered. Dryden, who mistakes genius for learning, and, in confidence of his abilities, ventured to write of what he had not examined, ascribes to Chaucer the first refinement of our numbers, the first production of easy and natural rhymes, and the improvement of our language, by words borrowed from the more polished languages of the continent. Skinner contrarily blames him in harsh terms for having vitiated his native speech by whole cartloads of foreign words. But he that reads the works of Gower will find smooth numbers and easy rhymes, of which Chaucer is supposed to have been the inventor, and the French words, whether good or bad, of which Chaucer is charged as the importer. Some innovations he might probably make, like others, in the infancy of our poetry, which the paucity of books does allow us to discover with particular exactness; but the works of Gower and Lydgate sufficiently evince, that his diction was in general like that of his contemporaries: and some improvements he undoubtedly made by the various dispositions of his rhymes, and by the mixture of different numbers, in which he seems to have been happy and judicious. I have selected several specimens both of his prose and verse; and among them, part of his translation of Boetius, to which another version, made in the time of queen Mary, is opposed. It would be improper to quote very sparingly an authour of so much reputation, or to make very large extracts from a book so generally known.
|C H A U C E R.||C O L V I L E.|
|Alas! I wepyng am constrained to begin verse of sorowfull matter, that whilom in florishyng studie made delitable ditees. For lo! rendyng muses of Poetes enditen to me thinges to be writen, and drerie teres. At laste no drede ne might overcame tho muses, that thei ne werren fellowes, and foloweden my waie, that is to saie, when I was exiled, thei that weren of my youth whilom welfull and grene, comforten now sorowfull wierdes of me olde men: for elde is comen unwarely upon me, hasted by the harmes that I have, and sorowe hath commaunded his age to be in me. Heres hore aren shad overtimeliche upon my hed: and the slacke skinne trembleth of mine empted bodie. Thilke deth of men is welefull ,that he ne cometh not in yeres that be swete, but cometh to wretches often icleped: Alas, alas! with how dese an ere deth curell turneth awaie fro wretches, and naieth for to close wepyng eyen. While fortune unfaithfull favoured me with light godes, that sorowfull houre, that is to saie, the deth, had almoste drente myne hedde: but now for fortune cloudie hath chaunged her decevable chere to mewarde, myne unpitous life draweth along ungreable dwellynges. O ye my frendes, waht, or whereto avaunted ye me to ben welfull? For he that hath fallin, stode in no stedfast degre.||I that in tyme of prosperite, and floryshing studye, made pleasaunte and delectable dities, or verses: alas now beyng heauy and sad ouerthrowen in aduersitie, am compelled to fele and tast heuines and greif. Beholde the muses Poeticall, taht is to saye: the pleasure that is in poetes verses, do appoynt me, and compel me to writ these verses in meter, and the sorowfull verses do wet my wretched face with very waterye teares, yssuinge out of my eyes for sorowe. Whiche muses no feare without doute could ouercome, but that they wold folow me in my iourney of exile or banishment. Sometyme the ioye of happy and lusty delctable youth dyed comfort me, and nowe the course of sorowfull olde age causeth me to reioyse. For hasty old age valoked for is come vpon me with al her incommodities and euyls, and sorrow hath commaunded and broughte me into the same old age, that is to say: that sorowe causeth me to be olde, before my time come of olde age. The hoer heares do growe vntimely vpon my heade, and my reuiled skynne trembleth my flesh, cleane consumed and wasted with sorowe. Mannes death is happy, that cometh not in youth, when a man is lustye, and in pleasure or welth: but in time of aduersitie, when it is often desyred. Alas alas howe dull and deffe be the eares of cruel death vnto men in misery that would fayne dye: and yet refusythe to come and shutte vp theyr carefull wepyng eyes. Whiles that false fortune fauoryd me with her transitorye goodes, then the howre of death had almost ouercom me. That is to say deathe was redy to oppresse me when I was in prosperitie. Nowe for by cause that fortune beynge turned, from prospertie into adaersitie (as the clere day is darkyd with cloudes) and hath chaungyd her deceyuable countenaunce: my wretched life is yet prolonged and doth continue in dolour. O my frendes why haue you so often bosted me, sayinge that I was happy when I had honor possessions riches, and authoritie whych be transitory thynges. He that hath fallen was in no stedefast degre.|
In the mene while, that I still record these thynges with my self, and marked my wepelie complainte with office of poinctell: I saugh stondyng aboven the hight of myn hed a woman of full grete reverence, by semblaunt. Her eyen brennyng, and clere, seying over the common might of menne, with a lively colour, and with soche vigour and strength that it ne might not be nempned, all were it so, that she were full of so grete age, that menne woulden not trowen in no manere, that she were of our elde.
The stature of her was of doutous Judgemente, for sometyme she constrained and snronke her selven, like to the common mesure of menne: And sometyme it semed, that she touched the heven with the hight of her hedde. And when she hove her hedde higher, she perced the self heven, so that the sight of menne lokyng was in ydell: her clothes wer maked of right delie thredes, and subtel craft of perdurable matter. The whiche clothes she had woven with her owne handes, as I knewe well after by her self declaryng, and shewyng to me the beautie: The which clothes a darknesse of a forleten and dispised elde had dusked and darked, as it is wonte to darke by smoked Images.
In the netherest hemme and border of these clothes menne redde iwoven therein a Grekishe A. that signifieth the life active, and above that letter, in the hiest bordure, a Grekishe C. that signifieth the life contemplatife. And betwene these two letters there were seen degrees nobly wrought, in maner of ladders, by whiche degrees menne might climben from the netherest letter to the upperest: nathelesse handes of some men hadden kerve that clothe, by violence or by strength, and everiche manne of 'hem had borne awaie soche peces, as he might getten. And forsothe this foresaied woman bare smale bokes in her right hande, and in her left hand she bare a scepter. And when she sawe these Poeticall muses approchyng about my bed, and endityng wordes to my wepynges, she was a litle amoved, and glowed with cruell eyen. Who (qð she) hath suffered approchen to this sike manne these commen strompettes, of which is the place that menne callen Theatre, the whiche onely ne asswagen not his sorowes with remedies, but thei would feden and norishe hym with swete venime? Forsothe, that ben tho that with thornes, and prickynges of talentes of affeccions, whiche that ben nothyng fructuous nor profitable, distroien the Corne, plentuous of fruictes of reson. For thei holden hertes of men in usage, but thei ne deliver no folke fro maladie. But if ye muses had withdrawen fro me with your flatteries any unconnyng and unprofitable manne, as ben wont to finde commenly emong the peple, I would well suffre the lasse grevously. For why, in soche an unprofitable man myne ententes were nothyng endamaged. But ye withdrowen fro me this man, that hath ben nourished in my studies or scoles of Eleaticis, and of Academicis in Grece. But goeth now rather awaie ye Mermaidens, whiche that ben swete, till it be at the last, and suffreth this man to be cured and heled by my muses, that is to say, by my notefull sciences. And thus this companie of muses iblamed casten wrothly the chere dounward to the yerth, and shewing by rednesse ther shame, thei passeden sorowfully the thresholde. And I of whom the sight plounged in teres was darked, so that I ne might not know what that woman was, of so Imperial aucthoritie, I woxe all abashed and stonied, and cast my sight doune to the yerth, and began still for to abide what she would doen afterward. Then came she nere, and set her doune upon the utterest corner of my bed, and she beholdyng my chere, that was cast to the yerth, hevie and grevous of wepyng, complained with these wordes (that I shall saine) the perturbacion of my thought.
|Whyles that I considerydde pryuylye with my selfe the thynges before sayd, and descrybed my wofull complaynte after the maner and offyce of a wrytter, me thought I sawe a woman stand ouer my head of a reuerend countenaunce, hauyng quycke and glysteryng clere eye, aboue the common sorte of men in lyuely and delectable coloure, and ful of strength, although she semed so olde that by no meanes she is thought to be one of this oure tyme, her stature is of douteful knowledge, for nowe she shewethe herselfe at the commen length or statur of men, and other whiles she semeth so high, as though she touched heuen with the crown of her hed. And when she wold stretch fourth her hed hygher, it also perced thorough heauen, so that mens syghte coulde not attaine to behold her. Her vestures or cloths were perfyt of the finyste thredes, and subtyll workemanshyp, and of substaunce permament, whych vesturs she had wouen with her own hands as I perceyued after by her owne saiynge. The kynde or beawtye of the whyche vestures, a certayne darkenes or rather ignoraunce of oldenes forgotten hadde obscuryd and darkened, as the smoke is wont to darken Images that stand nyghe the smoke. In the lower parte of the said vestures was read the greke letter P. wouen whych signifyeth practise or actysse, and in the hygher part of the vestures the greke letter. T. whych estandeth for theorica, that signifieth speculacion or contemplation. And betwene both the sayd letters were sene certayne degrees, wrought after the maner of ladders, wherein was as it were a passage or waye in steppes or degrees from the lower part wher the letter. P. was which is vnderstand from practys or actyi, unto the hygher parte wher the letter T. was whych is vnderstand speculacion or contemplacion. Neuertheles the handes of some vyolente persones had cut the sayde vestures and had taken awaye certayne pecis thereof, such as euery one coulde catch. And she her selfe dyd bare in her ryght hand litel bokes, and in her lefte hande a scepter, which foresayd phylosophy (when she saw the muses poetycal present at my bed, spekyng sorrowful wordes to my wepynges) beyng angry sayd (with terrible or frownynge countenaunce) who suffred these crafty harlottes to com to thys sycke man? whych can help hym by no means of hys griese by any kind of medicines, but rather increase the same with swete poyson. These be they that doo dystroye the fertile and plentious commodytyes of reason and the fruytes therof wyth their pryckynge thornes, or barren affectes, and accustome or subdue mens myndes with sickenes, and heuynes, and do not delyuer or heale them of the same. But yf your flatterye had conueyed or wythdrawen from me, any vnlernyd man as the comen sorte of people are wonte to be, I coulde haue ben better contentyd, for in that my worke should not be hurt or hynderyd. But you haue taken and conueyed from me thys man that hath ben broughte vp in the studyes of Aristotel and of Plato But yet get you hence maremaids (that seme swete untyll you haue brought a man to deathe) and suffer me to heale thys my man wyth my muses or scyences that be holsome and good. And after that philosophy had spoken these wordes the sayd companye of the musys poeticall beynge rebukyd and sad, caste down their countenaunce to the grounde, and by bluffyng confessed their shamfastnes, and went out of the dores. But I (that had my syght dull and blynd wyth wepyng, so that I knew not what woman this was hauyng soo great aucthoritie) was amasyd or astonyd, and lokyng downeward, towarde the grounde, I began pryvylye to look what thyng she would saye ferther, then she had said. Then she approching and drawynge nere vnto me, sat downe vpon the vttermost part of my bed, and lokyng vpon my face sad with weping, and declynyd toward the earth for sorow, bewayled the trouble of my minde wyth these sayinges folowynge.|
The conclusions of the Astrolabie.
This book (written to his son in the year of our Lord 1391, and in the 14 of King Richard II.) standeth so good at this day, especially for the horizon of Oxford, as in the opinion of the learned it cannot be amended, says an Edit. of Chaucer.
Lytel Lowys my sonne, I perceve well by certaine evidences thyne abylyte to lerne scyences, touching nombres and proporcions, and also well consydre I thy besye prayer in especyal to lerne the tretyse of the astrolabye. Than for as moche as a philosopher saithe, he wrapeth hym in his frende, that condiscendeth to the ryghtfull prayers of his frende: therfore I have given the a sufficient astrolabye for oure orizont, compowned after the altitude of Oxenforde: upon the whiche by mediacion of this lytell tretise, I purpose to teche the a certaine nombre of conclusions, pertainynge to this same instrument. I say a certaine nombre of conclusions for thre causes, the first cause is this. Truste wel that al the conclusions that have be founden, or ells possiblye might be founde in so noble an instrument as in the astrolabye, ben unknowen perfitely to anye mortal man in this region, as I suppose. Another cause is this, that sothely in any cartes of the astrolabye that I have ysene, ther ben some conclusions, that wol not in al thinges perfourme ther behestes: and some of 'hem ben to harde to thy tender age of ten yere to conceve. This tretise divided in five partes, wil I shewe the wondir light rules and naked wordes in Englishe, for Latine ne canst thou nat yet but smale, my litel sonne. But neverthelesse suffiseth to the these trewe conclusyons in Englishe, as well as suffiseth to these noble clerkes grekes these same conclusions in greke, and to the Arabines in Arabike, and to Jewes in Hebrewe, and to the Latin folke in Latyn: which Latyn folke had 'hem firste out of other divers langages, and write 'hem in ther owne tonge, that is to saine in Latine.
And God wote that in all these languages and in manye mo, have these conclusyons ben sufficientlye lerned and taught, and yet by divers rules, right as divers pathes leden divers folke the right waye to Rome.
Now wol I pray mekely every person discrete, that redeth or hereth this lityl tretise to have my rude ententing excused, and my superfluite of wordes, for two causes. The first cause is, for that curious endityng and harde sentences is ful hevy at ones, for soch a childe to lerne. And the seconde cause is this, that sothely me semeth better to writen unto a childe twise a gode sentence, than he foriete it ones. And, Lowis, if it be so that I shewe the in my lith Englishe, as trew conclusions touching this mater, and not only as trewe but as many and subtil conclusions as ben yshewed in latin, in any comon tretise of the astrolabye, conne me the more thanke, and praye God save the kinge, that is lorde of this langage, and all that him saith bereth, and obeieth everiche in his degree, the more and the lasse. But consydreth well, that I ne usurpe not to have founded this werke of my labour or of myne engin. I n'ame but a leude compilatour of the laboure of olde astrologiens, and have it translated in myn englishe onely for thy doctrine: and with this swerde shal I slene envy.
The first party.
The first partye of this tretise shall reherce the figures, and the membres of thyne astolaby, bycause that thou shalte have the greter knowinge of thine owne instrument.
The seconde party.
The seconde partye shal teche the to werken the very practike of the foresaid conclusions, as serforthe and also narowe as may be shewed in so smale an instrument portatise aboute. For wel wote every astrologien, that smallest fractions ne wol not be shewed in so smal an instrument, as in subtil tables calculed for a cause.
The Prologue of the Testament of L O V E.
Many men there ben, that with eres openly sprad so moche swalowen the deliciousnesse of jestes and of ryme, by queint knittinge coloures, that of the godenesse or of the badnesse of the sentence take they litel hede or els none.
Sothelye dulle witte and a thoughtfulle soule so fore to have mined and graffed in my spirits, that soche craft of enditinge woll nat ben of mine acquaintaunce. And for rude wordes and boistrous percen the herte of the herer to the inrest point, and planten there the sentence of thinges, so that with litel helpe it is able to spring, this boke, that nothynge hath of the grete flode of wytte, ne of femelyche colours, is dolven with rude wordes and boistrous, and so drawe togiðer to maken the catchers therof ben the more redy to hent sentence.
Some men there ben, that painten with colours riche and some with wers, as with red inke, and some with coles and chalke: and yet is there gode matter to the leude peple of thylke chalkye purtreyture, as 'hem thinketh for the time, and afterward the syght of the better colours yeven to 'hem more joye for the first leudenesse. So sothly this leude clowdy occupacyon is not to prayse, but by the leude, for comenly leude leudenesse commendeth. Eke it shal yeve sight that other precyous thynges shall be the more in reverence. In Latin and French hath many soveraine wittes had grete delyte to endite, and have many noble things fulfilde, but certes there ben soem that speken their poisye mater in Frenche, of whiche speche the Frenche men have as gode a fantasye as we have in heryng of Frenche mens Englishe. And many termes there ben in Englyshe, whiche unneth we Englishe men connen declare the knowleginge: howe should than a Frenche man borne? soche termes connejumpere in his mater, but as the jay chatereth Englishe. Right so truely the understandyn of Englishmen woll not stretche to the privie termes in Frenche, what so ever we bosten of straunge langage. Let than clerkes enditen in Latin, for they have the propertie of science, and the knowinge in that facultie: and lette Frenche men in ther Frenche also enditen ther queint termes, for it is kyndely to ther mouthes; and let us shewe our fantasies in such wordes as we lerneden of our dame's tonge. And although this boke be lytel thank worthy for the leudnesse in travaile, yet soch writing exiten men to thilke thinges that ben necessarie: for every man therby may as by a perpetual myrrour sene the vices or vertues of other, in whyche thynge lightly may be conceved to eschue perils, and necessaries to catch, after as aventures have fallen to other peple or persons.
Certes the soverainst thinge of desire and most creture resonable, have or els shuld have full appetite to ther perfeccyon: unresonable bestes mowen not, sithe reson hath in 'hem no workinge: than resonable that wol not, is comparisoned to unresonable, and made lyke 'hem. Forsothe the most soveraine and finall perfeccion of man is in knowynge of a sothe, withouten any entent decevable, and in love of one very God, that is inchaungeable, that is to knowe, and love his creator.
Nowe principally the mene to brynge in knowleging and lovynge his creatour, is the consideracyon of thynges made by the creatour, wher through by thylke thinges that ben made, undersetandynge here to our wyttes, arne the unsene pryvities of God made to us syghtfull and knowinge, in our contemplacion and understondinge. These thinges than forsothe moche brignen us to the ful knowleginge sothe, and to the parfyte love of the maker of hevenly thynges. Lo! David saith: thou haste delited me in makinge, as who saith, to have delite in the tune how God hat lent me in consideracion of thy makinge. Wherof Aristotle in the boke de Animalibus, saith to naturell philosophers: it is a grete likynge in love of knowinge ther cretoure: and also in knowinge of causes in kindelye thynges, considrid forsothe the formes of kindelye thinges and the shap, a gret kyndely love we shulde have to the werkman that 'hem made. The crafte of a werkman is shewed in the werk. Herefore trulie the philosophers with a lyvely studie made noble things, righte precious, and worthy to memorye, writen, and by a gret swet and travaille to us leften of causes the properties in natures of thinges, to whiche therfore philosophers it was more joy, more lykinge, more herty lust in kindely vertues and matters of reson the perfeccion by busy study to knowe, than to have had all the tresour, al the richesse, al the vaine glory, that the passed emperours, princes, or kinges hadden. Therfore the names of 'hem in the boke of perpetuall memorie in vertue and pece arne writen; and in the contrarie, that is to saine, in Styxe the soule pitte of helle arne thilke pressed that soch godenes hated. And bicause this boke shall be of love, and the prime causes of stering in that doinge with passions and diseses for wantinge of desire, I wil that this boke be cleped the testament of love.
But nowe thou reder, who is thilke that will not in scorne laughe, to here a dwarfe or els halfe a man, say he wil rende out the swerde of Hercules handes, and also he shulde set Hercules Gades a mile yet ferther, and over that he had power of strength to pull up the spere, that Alisander the noble might never wagge, and that passinge al thinge to ben mayster of Fraunce by might, there as the noble gracious Edwarde the thirde for al his grete prowesse in victories ne might al yet conquere?
Certes I wote well, ther shall be made more scorne and jape of me, that I so unworthely clothed altogither in the cloudie cloude of unconning, wil putten me in prees to speak of love, or else of the causes in that matter, sithen al the grettest clerkes han had ynough to don, and as who saith gathered up clene toforne 'hem, and with their sharp sithes of conning al mowen and made therof grete rekes and noble, ful of al plenties to fede me and many an other. Envye forsothe commendeth noughte his reson, that he hath in hain, be it never so trusty. And although these noble repers, as gode workmen and worthy ther hier, han al draw and bounde up in the sheves, and made many shockes, yet have I ensample to gaðer the smale crommes, and fullin ma walet of tho that fallen from the bourde among the smalle houndes, notwithstanding the travaile of the almoigner, that hath draw up in the cloth al the remissailes, as trenchours, and the relese to bere to the almesse. Yet also have I leve of the noble husbande Boece, although I be a straunger of conninge to come after his doctrine, and these grete workmen, and glene my handfuls of the shedynge after ther handes, and yf me faile ought of my ful, to encrese my porcion with that I shal drawe by privyties out of shockes; a slye servaunte in his owne helpe is often moche commended; knowynge of trouthe in causes of thynges, was more hardier in the firste sechers, and so sayth Aristotle, and lighter in us that han folowed after. For ther passing study han freshed our wittes, and oure understandynge han excited in consideracion of trouth by sharpenes of ther resons. Utterly these thinges be no dremes ne japes, to throwe to hogges, it is lyfelych mete for children of trouth, and as they me betiden whan I pilgramed out of my kith in wintere, whan the wether out of mesure was boistrous, and the wyld wynd Boreas, as his kind asketh, with dryinge coldes maked the wawes of the ocean se so to arise unkindely over the commune bankes that it was in point to spill all the erthe.
The Prologues of the Canterbury Tales of
C H A U C E R, from the MSS.
When that Aprilis with his shouris sote,
The drought of March had percid to the rote,
And bathid every veyn in such licour,
Of which vertue engendrid is the flour.
When Zephyrus eke, with his swerè breth
Enspirid hath, in every holt and heth
The tender croppis; and that the yong Sunn
Hath in the Ramm his halvè cours yrunn:
And smalè foulis makin melodye,
That slepin allè night with opin eye,
(So prickith them nature in ther corage)
Then longin folk to go on pilgrimage:
And palmers for to sekin strangè strondes,
To servin hallowes couth in sondry londes:
And specially fro every shir'is end
Of England, to Canterbury they wend,
The holy bisfull martyr for to seke,
That them hath holpin, whan that they were seke.
Befell that in that seson on a day
In Southwerk at the Tabberd as I lay,
Redy to wendin on my pilgrimage
To Canterbury, with devote corage,
At night wer come into that hostery
Wele nine and twenty in a cumpany
Of sundrie folk, by aventure yfall
In felaship; and pilgirmes wer they all;
That toward Canterbury wouldin ride.
The chambers and the stablis werin wide,
And well we werin esid at the best:
And shortly whan the sunnè was to rest,
So had I spokin with them everych one,
That I was of ther felaship anone;
And madè forward erli for to rise,
To take our weye, ther as I did devise.
But nathless while that I have time and space,
Er' that I farther in this talè pace,
Methinkith it accordaunt to reson,
To tell you allè the condition
Of ech of them, so as it semid me,
And which they werin, and of what degree,
And eke in what array that they wer in:
And at a knight then woll I first begin.
A knight ther was, and that a worthy man,
That fro the timè that he first began
To ridin out, he lovid Chevalrie,
Trouth and honour, fredome and curtesy.
Full worthy was he in his lord'is werre,
And thereto had he riddin nane more ferre
As well in Christendom, as in Hethness;
And evyr honoured for his worthiness.
At Alessandre' he was whan it was won;
Full oft timis he had the bord begon
Abovin allè naciouns in Pruce;
In Lettow had he riddin, and in Luce,
No Christen-man so oft of his degree
In Granada; in the sege had he be
Of Algezir, and ridd in Belmary;
At Leyis was he, and at Sataly,
Whan that they wer won; and in the grete see
At many'a noble army had he be:
At mortal battails had he ben fiftene,
And foughtin for our feith at Tramesene,
In listris thrys, and alwey slein his fo.
This ilke worthy knight had ben also
Sometimis with the lord of Palathy,
Ayens anothir hethin in Turky;
And evirmore he had a sov'rane prize;
And though that he was worthy, he was wise;
And of his port as meke as is a maid,
He nevir yet no villany ne said
In all his life unto no manner wight:
He was a very parfit gentil knight.
But for to telllin you of his array,
His hors wer good; but he was nothing gay,
Of fustian he werid a gipon,
Allè besmottrid with his haburgeon.
For he was late ycome from his viage,
And wentè for to do his pilgrimage.
The House of F A M E.
The First Boke.
Now herkin, as I have you saied,
What that I mette or I abraied,
Of December the tenith daie,
When it was night, to slepe I laie,
Right as I was wonte for to doen,
And fill aslepè wondir sone,
As he that was werie forgo
On pilgrimagè milis two
To the corps of sainct Leonarde,
To makin lithe that erst was harde.
But as me slept me mette I was
Within a temple' imade of glas,
In whiche there werin mo images
Of golde, standyng in sondrie stages,
Sette in mo riche tabirnacles,
And with perrè mo pinnacles,
And mo curious portraituris,
And queint manir of figuris
Of golde worke, then I sawe evir.
But certainly I n'ist nevir
Where that it was, but well wist I
It was of Venus redily
This temple, for in purtreiture
I sawe anone right her figure
Nakid yfletyng in a se,
And also on her hedde parde
Her rosy garland white and redde,
And her combe for to kembe her hedde,
Her dovis, and Dan Cupido
Her blindè sonne, and Vulcano,
That in his face ywas full broune.
But as I romid up and doune,
I founde that one the wall there was
Thus writtin on a table' of bras.
I woll now syng, if that I can,
The armis, and also the man,
That first came through his destine
Fugitise fro Troye the countre
Into Itaile, with full moche pine,
Unto the strondis of Lavine,
And tho began the storie' anone,
As I shall tellin you echone.
First sawe I the distruccion
Of Troie, thorough the Greke Sinon,
With his false untrue forswerynges,
And with his chere and his lesynges,
That made a horse, brought into Troye,
By whiche Trojans loste all ther joye.
And aftir this was graved, alas!
How Ilions castill assailed was,
And won, and kyng Priamus slain,
And Polites his sonne certain,
Dispitously of Dan Pyrrhus.
And next that sawe I howe Venus,
When that she sawe the castill brende,
Doune from hevin she gan discende,
And bade her sonne Æneas fle,
And how he fled, and how that he
Escapid was from all the pres,
And toke his fathre', old Anchises,
And bare hym on his backe awaie,
Crying alas and welawaie!
The whiche Anchises in his hande,
Bare tho the goddis of the lande
I mene thilke that unbrennid were.
Then sawe I next that all in fere
How Creusa, Dan Æneas wife,
Whom that he lovid all his life,
And her yong sonne clepid Julo,
And eke Ascanius also,
Fleddin eke, with full drerie chere,
That it was pite for to here,
And in a forest as thei went
How at a tournyng of a went
Creüsa was iloste, alas!
That rede not I, how that it was
How he her sought, and how her ghoste
Bad hym to flie the Grekis hoste,
And saied he must into Itaile,
As was his destinie, sauns saile,
That it was pitie for to here,
When that her spirite gan appere,
The wordis that she to hym saied,
And for to kepe her sonne hym praied.
There sawe I gravin eke how he
His father eke, and his meinè,
With his shippis began to saile
Toward the countrey of Itaile,
As streight as ere thei mightin go.
There sawe I eke the, cruill Juno,
That art Dan Jupiter his wife,
That hast ihatid all thy life
Merciless all the Trojan blode,
Rennin and crie as thou were wode
On Æolus, the god of windes,
To blowin out of allè kindes
So loudè, that he should ydrenche
Lorde, and ladie, and grome, and wenche
Of all the Trojanis nacion,
Without any' of ther savacion.
There sawe I soche tempest arise,
That evèry herte might agrise
To se it paintid on the wall.
There sawe I eke gravin withall,
Venus, how ye, my ladie dere,
Ywepyng with full wofull chere
Yprayid Jupiter on hie,
To save and kepin that navie
Of that dere Trojan Æneas,
Sithins that he you sonne ywas.
Gode counsaile of Chaucer
Flie fro the prese and dwell with sothfastnesse,
Suffise unto thy gode though it be small,
For horde hath hate, and climbyng tikilnesse,
Prece hath envie, and wele it brent oer all,
Savour no more than the behovin shall,
Rede well thy self, that othir folke canst rede,
And trouthe the shall delivir it 'is no drede.
Painè the not eche crokid to redresse,
In trust of her that tournith as a balle,
Grete rest standith in litel businesse,
Beware also to spurne again a nalle,
Strive not as doith a crocke with a walle,
Demith thy self that demist othir's dede,
And trouthe the shall deliver it 'is no drede.
That the is sent receve in buxomenesse;
The wrastlyng of this worlde askith a fall;
Here is no home, here is but wildirnesse,
Forthe pilgrim, forthe o best out of thy stall,
Loke up on high, and thanke thy God of all,
Weivith thy luste and let thy ghost the lede,
And trouthe the shall delivir, it 'is no drede.
Balade of the village without paintyng.
This wretchid world'is transmutacion
As wele and wo, nowe pore, and now honour,
Without ordir or due discrecion
Govirnid is by fortun'is errour,
But nathèlesse the lacke of her favour
Ne maie not doe me syng though that I die,
J'ay tout perdue, mon temps & mon labeur
For finally fortune I doe defie.
Yet is me left the sight of my resoun
To knowin frende fro foe in thy mirrour,
So moche hath yet thy tournyng up and doun,
I taughtin me to knowin in an hour,
But truily no force of thy reddour
To hym that ovir hymself hath maistrie,
My suffisaunce yshal be my succour,
For finally fortune I do defie.
O Socrates, thou stedfast champion,
She ne might nevir be thy turmentour,
Thou nevir dreddist her oppression,
Ne in her chere foundin thou no favour,
Thou knewe wele the disceipt of her colour,
And that her moste worship is for to lie,
I knowe her eke a false dissimulour,
For finally fortune I do defie.
The answere of Fortune.
No man is wretchid but hymself it wene,
He that yhath hymself hath suffisaunce,
Why saiest thou then I am to the so kene,
That hast thy self out of my govirnaunce?
Saie thus grant mercie of thin habundaunce,
That thou hast lent or this, thou shalt not strive,
What wost thou yet how I the woll avaunce?
And eke thou hast thy bestè frende alive.
I have the taught division betwene
Frende of effects, and frende of countinaunce,
The nedith not the gallè of an hine,
That curith eyin derke for ther penaunce,
Now seest thou clere that wer in ignoraunce,
Yet holt thine anker, and thou maiest arive
There bountie bereth the key of my substaunce,
And eke thou haste thy bestè frende alive.
How many have I refused to sustene,
Sith I have the fostrid in thy plesaunce?
Wolt thou then make a statute on thy quene,
That I shall be aie at thine ordinaunce?
Thou born art in my reign of variaunce,
About the whele with othir must thou drive
My lore is bet, then wicke is thy grevaunce,
And eke thou hast thy bestè frende alive.
The answere to Fortune.
Thy lore I dampne, it is adversitie,
My frend maist thou not revin blind goddesse,
That I thy frendis knowe I thanke it the,
Take 'hem again, let 'hem go lie a presse,
The nigardis in kepyng ther richesse
Pronostike is thou wolt ther toure assaile,
Wicke appetite cometh aie before sickenesse,
In generall this rule ne maie not faile.
Thou pinchist at my mutabilitie,
For I the lent a droppe of my richesse,
And now me likith to withdrawin me,
Why shouldist thou my roialtie oppresse?
The se maie ebbe and flowin more and lesse,
The welkin hath might to shine, rain, and haile,
Right so must I kithin my brotilnesse,
In generall this rule ne maie not faile.
Lo, the' execucion of the majestie,
That all purveighith of his rightwisenesse,
That samè thyng fortune yclepin ye,
Ye blindè bestis full of leudèness!
The heven hath propirtie of sikirness,
This worldè hath evir restlesse travaile,
The last daie is the ende of myne entresse,
In generall this rule ne maie not faile.
Th' envoye of Fortune.
Princes I praie you of your gentilnesse,
Let not this man and me thus crie and plain,
And I shall quitin you this businesse,
And if ye liste releve hym of his pain,
Praie ye his best frende of his nob'enesse
That to some bettir state he maie attain.
Lydgate was a monk of Bury, who wrote about the same time with Chaucer. Out of his prologue to his third book of the Fall of Princes a few stanzas are selected, which, being compared with the style of his two contemporaries, will show that our language was then not written by caprice, but was in a settled state.
Like a pilgrime which that goeth on foote,
And hath none horse to releue his trauayle,
Whote, drye and wery, and may find no bote
Of wel cold whan thrust doth hym assayle,
Wine nor licour, that may to hym auayle,
Tight so fare I which in my businesse,
No succour fynde my rudenes to redresse.
I meane as thus, I haue no fresh licour
Out of the conduites of Calliope,
Nor through Clio in rhethorike no floure,
In my labour for to refresh me:
Nor of the susters in noumber thrise three,
Which with Cithera on Parnaso dwell,
They neuer me gaue drinke once of their wel.
Nor of theyr springes clere and christaline,
That sprange by touchyng of the Pegase,
Their fauour lacketh my making ten lumine
I fynde theyr bawme of so great scarcitie,
To tame their tunnes with some drop of plentie
For Poliphemus throw his great blindnes,
Hath in me derked of Argus the brightnes.
Our life here short of wit the great dulnes
The heuy soule troubled with trauayle,
And of memorye the glasyng brotelnes,
Drede and vncunning haue made a strong batail
With werines my spirite to assayle,
And with their subtil creping in most queint
Hath made my spirit in makyng for to feint.
And ouermore, the ferefull frowardnes
Of my stepmother called obliuion,
Hath a bastyll of foryetfulnes,
To stoppe the passage, and shadow my reason,
That I might haue no clere direccion,
In translating of new to quicke me,
Stories to write of olde antiquite.
Thus was I set and stode in double werre
At the metyng of feareful wayes tweyne,
The one was this, who euer list to lere,
Whereas good wyll gan me constrayne,
Bochas taccomplish for to doe my payne,
Came ignoraunce, with a menace of drede,
My penne to rest I durst not procede.
Fortescue was chief justice of the Common-Pleas, in the reign of king Henry VI. He retired in 1471. after the battle of Tewkesbury, and probably wrote most of his works in his privacy. The following passage is selected from his book of the Difference between an absolute and limited Monarchy.
Hyt may peraventure be marvelid by some men, why one Realme is a Lordshyp only Royall, and the Prynce thereof rulyth yt by his Law, callid Jus Regale; and another Kyngdome is a Lordschip, Royal and Politike, and the Prince thereof rulyth by a Lawe, callyd Jus Politicum & Regale; sythen thes two Princes beth of egall Astate.
To this dowte it may be answeryd in this manner; The first Institution of thes twoo Realmys, upon the Incorporation of them, is the Cause of this diversyte.
When Nembroth by Might, for his own Glorye, made and incorporate the first Realme, and subduyd it to hymself by Tyrannye, he would not have it governyd by any other Rule or Lawe, but by his own Will; by which and for th' accomplishment thereof he made it. And therfor, though he had thus made a Realme, holy Scripture denyyd to cal hym a Kyng, Quia Rex dicitur a Regendo; Whych thyng he dyd not, but oppressyd the People by Myght, and therfor he was a Tyrant, and callid Primus Tyrannorum. But holy Writ callith hym Robustus Venator coram Deo. For as the Hunter takyth the wyld beste for to scle and eate hym; so Nembroth subduyd to him the People with Might, to have their service and their goods, using upon them the Lordschip that is callid Dominium Regale tantum. After hym Belus that was callid first a Kyng, and after hym his Sone Nynus, and after hym other Panyms; They, by Example of Nembroth, made them Realmys, would not have them rulyd by other Lawys than by their own Wills. Which Lawys ben right good under good Princes; and their Kyngdoms a then most resemblyd to the Kyngdome of God, which reynith upon Man, rulyng him by hys own Will. Wherfor many Crystyn Princes usen the same Lawe; and therfor it is, that the Lawys sayen, Quod Principi placuit Legis habet vigorem. And thus I suppose first beganne in Realmys, Dominium tantum Regale. But afterward, whan Mankynd was more mansuete, and better disposyd to Vertue, Grete Communalties, as was the Feliship, that came into this Lond with Brute, wyllyng to be unyed and made a Body Politike callid a Realme, havyng an Heed to governe it; as after the Saying of the Philosopher, every Communaltie unyed of many parts must needs have an Heed; than they chose the same Brute to be their Heed and Kyng. And they and he upon this Incorporation and Institution, and onyng of themself into a Realme, ordeynyd the same Realme so to be rulyd and justyfyd by such Lawys, as they al would assent unto; which Law therfor is callid Politicum; and bycause it is mynystrid by a Kyng, it is callid Regale. Dominium Politicum dicitur quasi Regimen, plurium Scientia, sive Consilio ministratum. The Kyng of Scotts reynith upon his People by this Lawe, videlicet, Regimine Politico & Regali. And as Diodorus Syculus saith, in his Boke de priscis Historiis, The Realme of Egypte is rulid by the same Lawe, and therfor the Kyng therof chaungith not his Lawes, without the Assente of his People. And in like forme as he saith is ruled the Kyngdome of Saba, in Felici Arabia, and the Lond of Libie; And also the more parte of al the Realmys in Afrike. Which manner of Rule and Lordship, the sayd Diodorus in that Boke, praysith gretely. For it is not only good for the Prince, that may thereby the more sewerly do Justice, than by his owne Arbitriment; but it is also good for his People that receyve therby, such Justice as they desyer themself. Now as me seymth, it ys shewyd opinly ynough, why one Kyng rulyth and reynith on his People Dominio tantum Regali, and that other reynith Dominio Politico & Regali: For that one Kyngdome beganne, of and by, the Might of the Prince, and that other beganne, by the Desier and Institution of the People of the same Prince.
Of the works of Sir Thomas More it was necessary to give a larger specimen, both because our language was then in a great degree formed and settled, and because it appears from Ben Johnson, that his works were considered as models of pure and elegant style. The tale, which is placed first, because earliest written, will show what an attentive reader will, in perusing our old writers, often remark, that the familiar and colloquial part of our language, being disused among those classes who had no ambition of refinement, or affectation of novelty, has suffered very little change. There is another reason why the extracts from this author are more copious: his works are carefully and correctly printed, and may therefore be better trusted than any other edition of the English books of that, or the preceding ages.
A merry iest how a sergeant would learne to playe the frere. Written by maister Thomas More in hys youth.
Wyse men alway,
Affyrme and say,
That best is for a man:
For to apply,
The busines that he can,
And in no wyse,
An other faculte,
For he that wyll,
And can no skyll,
Is neuer lyke to the.
He that hath laste,
The hosiers crafte,
And falleth to making shone,
The smythe that shall,
To payntyng fall,
His thrift is well nigh done.
A blacke draper,
With whyte paper,
To goe to writyng scole,
An olde butler,
Becum a cutler,
I wene shall proue a fole.
And an olde trot,
That can I wot,
Nothyng but kysse the cup,
With her phisick,
Wil kepe one sicke,
Tyll she haue soused hym vp.
A man of lawe,
That neuer sawe,
The wayes to bye and sell,
Wenyng to ryse,
I wish to spede hym well.
A marchaunt eke,
That wyll goo seke,
By all the meanes he may,
To fall in sute,
Tyll he dispute,
His money cleane away,
Pletyng the lawe,
For euery strawe,
Shall proue a thrifty man,
With bate and strife,
But by my life,
I cannot tell you whan.
Whan an hatter
Wyll go smatter,
Or a pedlar,
Ware a medlar,
All that ensue,
Such craftes new,
They driue so farre a cast,
They do therfore,
Beshrewe themselfe at last.
This thing was tryed
Here by a sergeaunt late,
That thriftly was,
Or he coulde pas,
Rapped about the pate,
Whyle that he would
See how he could,
A little play the frere:
Now yf you wyll,
Knowe how it fyll,
Take hede and ye shall here.
It happed so,
Not long ago,
A thrifty man there dyed,
An hundred pounde,
Of nobles rounde,
That had he layd a side:
His sonne he wolde,
Should haue this golde,
For to beginne with all:
But to suffise
His chylde, well thrise,
That money was to smal.
Yet or this day
I have hard say,
That many a man certesse,
Hath with good cast,
Be ryche at last,
That hath begonne with lesse.
But this yonge manne,
So well beganne,
His money to imploy,
To see it was a joy,
For lest sum blast,
Myght ouer cast,
His ship, or by mischaunce,
Men with sum wile,
Myght hym begyle,
And minish his substaunce,
For to put out,
All maner dout,
He made a good puruay,
For euery whyt,
By his owne wyt,
And toke an other way:
First sayre and wele,
Therof much dele,
He dygged it in a pot,
But then him thought,
That way was nought,
And there he left it not.
So was he faine,
From thence agayne,
To put it in a cup,
And by and by,
He supped it fayre vp,
In his owne brest,
He thought it best,
His money to enclose,
Then wist he well,
What euer fell,
He coulde it neuer lose.
He borrowed then,
Of other men,
Money and marchaundise:
Neuer payd it,
Up he laid it,
In like maner wyse.
Yet on the gere,
That he would were,
He reight not what he spent,
So it were nyce,
As for the price,
Could him not miscontent
With lusty sporte,
And with resort,
Of ioly company,
In mirth and play,
Full many a day,
He liued merely.
And men had sworne,
Some man is borne,
To haue a lucky howre,
And so was he,
For such degre,
He gat and suche honour,
That without dout,
Whan he went out,
A sergeaunt well and fayre,
Was redy strayte,
On him to wayte,
As sone as on the mayre.
But he doubtlesse,
Of his mekenesse,
Hated such pompe and pride,
And would not go,
But drewe himself a side,
To saint Katharine,
Streight as a line,
He gate him at a tyde,
There would he nedes abyde.
There spent he fast,
Till all were past,
And to him came there meny,
To aske theyr det,
But none could get,
The valour of a peny.
With visage stout,
He bare it out,
Euen vnto the harde hedge,
A month or twaine,
Tyll he was faine,
To laye his gowne to pledge.
Than was he there,
In greater feare,
Than ere that he came thither,
And would as fayne,
But that he wist not whither.
Than after this,
To a frende of his,
He went and there abode,
Where as he lay,
So sick alway,
He myght not come abrode.
It happed than,
A marchant man,
That he ought money to,
Of an officere,
Than gan enquere,
What him was best to do.
And he answerde,
Be not aferde,
Take an accion therfore,
I you beheste,
I shall hym reste,
And than care for no more.
I feare quod he,
It wyll not be,
For he wyll not comce out.
The sergeaunt said,
Be not afrayd.
It shall be brought about.
In many a game,
Lyke to the same,
Haue I bene well in vre,
And for your sake,
Let me be bake,
But yf I do this cure.
Thus part they both,
And foorth then goth,
A pace this officere,
And for a day,
All his array,
He chaunged with a frere.
So was he dight,
That no man might,
Hym for a frere deny,
He dopped and dooked,
He spake and looked,
Yet in a glasse,
Or he would passe,
He toted and he peered,
His harte for pryde,
Lepte in his syde,
To see how well he freered.
Than forth a pace,
Unto the place,
He goeth withouten shame
To do this dede,
But now take hede,
For here begynneth the game.
He drew hym ny,
Streyght at the dore he knocked:
And a damsell,
That hard hym well,
There came and it vnlocked.
The frere sayd,
Good spede fayre mayd,
Here lodgeth such a man,
It is told me:
Well syr quod she,
And yf he do what than.
Quod he maystresse,
No harme doutlesse:
It longeth for our order,
To hurt no man,
But as we can,
Euery wight to forder.
With hym truly,
Fayne speake would I.
Sir quod she by my fay,
He is so sike,
Ye be not lyke,
To speake with hym to day.
Quod he fayre may,
Yet I you pray,
This much at my desire,
Vouchesafe to do,
As go hym to,
And say an austen frere
Would with hym speke,
And matters breake,
For his auayle certayn.
Quod she I wyll,
Stonde ye here styll,
Tyll I come downe agayn.
Vp is she go,
And told hym so,
As she was bode to say,
No maner thyng,
Sayd mayden go thy way,
And fetch him hyder,
That we togyder,
May talk. A downe she gothe,
Vp she hym brought,
No harme she thought,
But it made some folke wrothe.
This fayned frere,
Whan he was come aloft,
He dopped than,
And grete this man,
Religiously and oft.
And he agayn,
Ryght glad and fayn,
Toke hym there by the hande,
The frere than sayd,
Ye be dismayd,
With trouble I understande.
In dede quode he,
It hath with me,
Bene better than it is.
Syr quod the frere,
Be of good chere,
Yet shall it after this.
But I would now,
Comen with you,
In counsayle yf you please,
Or ellys nat
Of matters that,
Shall set your heart at ease.
Downe went the mayd,
The marchaunt sayd,
Now say on gentle frere,
Of thys tydyng,
That ye me bryng,
I long full sore to here.
Whan there was none,
But they alone,
The frere with euyll grace,
Sayd, I rest the,
Come on with me,
And out he toke his mace:
Thou shalt obay,
Come on thy way,
I have the in my clouche,
Thou goest not hence,
For all the pense,
The mayre hath in his pouche.
This marchaunt there,
For wrathe and fere,
He waxyng welnygh wood,
Sayd horson these,
With a mischefe,
Who hathtaught the thy good.
And with his fist,
Vpon the lyst,
He gaue hym such a blow
That backward downe,
Almost in sowne,
The frere is ouerthrow.
Yet was this man,
Well fearder than,
Lest he the frere had slayne,
Tyll with good rappes,
And heuy clappes,
He dawde hym vp agayne.
The frere toke harte,
And vp he starte,
And well he layde about,
And so there goth,
Betwene them both,
Many a lusty clout.
They rent and tere,
Eche others here,
And claue togyder fast,
Tyll with luggyng,
And with tuggyng,
They fell downe both at last.
Than on the grounde,
With many a sadde stroke,
They roll and rumble,
They turne and tumble,
As pygges do in a poke.
So long aboue,
They heue and shoue,
Togider that at last,
The mayd and wyfe,
To breake the strife,
Hyed them vpward fast.
And whan they spye,
The captaynes lye,
Both waltring on the place,
The freres hood,
They pulled a good,
Adowne about his face.
Whyle he was blynde,
The wenche behynde,
Lent him leyd on the flore,
Many a ioule,
About the noule,
With a great batyldore.
The wyfe came yet,
And with her fete,
She holpe to kepe him downe,
And with her rocke,
Many a knocke,
She gaue hym on the crowne.
They layd his mace,
About his face,
That was wood for payne:
The fryre frappe,
Gate many a swappe,
Tyll he was full nygh slayne.
Vp they hym lift,
And with yll thrift,
Hedlyng a long the stayre,
Downe they hym threwe,
And sayde adewe,
Commende us to the mayre.
The frere arose,
But I suppose,
Amased was his hed,
He shoke his eares,
And from grete feares,
He thought hym well yfled.
Quod he now lost,
Is all this cost,
We be neuer the nere.
Ill mote he be,
That caused me,
To make my self a frere.
Now masters all,
Here now I shall,
Ende there as I began,
In any wyse,
I would auyse,
And counsayle euery man,
His owne craft vse,
All newe refuse,
And lyghtly let them gone:
Play not the frere,
Now make good chere,
And welcome euerych one.
A ruful lamentacion (writen by master Thomas More in his youth) of the deth of quene Elisabeth mother to king Henry the eight, wife to king Henry the seuenth, and eldest doughter to king Edward the fourth, which quene Elisabeth dyed in childbed in February in the yere of our Lord 1503. and in the 18 yere of the raigne of king Henry the seuenth.
O Ye that put your trust and confidence,
In worldly ioy and frayle prosperite,
That so lyue here as ye should neuer hence,
Remember death and loke here vppon me.
Ensaumple I thynke there may no better be.
Your selfe wotte well that in this realme was I,
Your quene but late, and lo now here I lye.
Was I not borne of olde worthy linage?
Was not my mother queene my father kyng?
Was I not a kinges fere in marriage?
Had I not plenty of euery pleasaunt thyng?
Mercifull god this is a straunge reckenyng:
Rychesse, honour, welth, and auncestry?
Hath me forsaken and lo now here I ly.
If worship myght haue kept me, I had not gone.
If wyt myght haue me saued, I neded not fere.
If money myght haue holpe, I lacked none.
But O good God what vayleth all this gere.
When deth is come thy mighty messangere,
Obey we must there is no remedy,
Me hath he sommoned, and lo now here I ly.
Yet was I late promised otherwyse,
This yere to liue in welth and delice.
Lo where to commeth thy blandishyng promyse,
O false astrolagy and deuynatrice,
Of goddes secretes makyng thy selfe so wyse.
How true is for this yere thy prophecy.
The yere yet lasteth, and lo nowe here I ly.
O bryttill welth, as full of bitternesse,
Thy single pleasure doubled is with payne.
Account my sorow first and my distresse,
In sondry wyse, and recken there agayne,
The ioy that I haue had, and I dare fayne,
For all my honour, endured yet haue I,
More wo then welth, and lo now here I ly.
Where are our castels, now where are our towers,
Goodly Rychmonde sone art thou gone from me,
At Westminster that costly worke of yours,
Myne owne dere lorde now shall I neuer see.
Almighty god vouchesafe to graunt that ye,
For you and your children well may edefy.
My palyce bylded is, and lo now here I ly.
Adew myne owne dere spouse my worthy lorde,
The faithfull loue, that dyd vs both combyne,
In mariage and peasable concorde,
Into your handes here I cleane resyne,
To be bestowed vppon your children and myne.
Erst wer you father, and now must ye supply.
The mothers part also, for lo now here I ly.
Farewell my doughter lady Margarete.
God wotte full oft it greued hath my mynde,
That ye should go where we should seldome mete.
Now am I gone, and haue left you behynde.
O mortall folke that we be very blynde.
That we least feare, full of it is most nye,
From you depart I fyrst, and lo now here I lye.
Farewell Madame my lordes worthy mother,
Comfort your sonne, and be ye of good chere.
Take all a worth, for it will be no nother.
Farewell my doughter Katherine late the fere,
To prince Arthur myne owne chyld so dere,
It booteth not for me to wepe or cry,
Pray for my soule, for lo now here I ly.
Adew lord Henry my louyng sonne adew.
Our lorde encrease your honour and estate,
Adew my doughter Mary bright of hew,
God make you vertuous wyse and fortunate.
Adew swete hart my litle doughter Kate,
Thou shalt swete babe such is thy desteny,
Thy mother neuer know, for lo now here I ly.
Lady Cicyly Anne and Katheryne,
Farewell my welbeloved sisters three,
O lady Briget other sister myne,
Lo here the ende of worldly vanitee.
Now well are ye that earthly foly flee,
And heuenly thynges loue and magnify,
Farewell and pray for me, for lo now here I ly.
A dew my lordes, a dew my ladies all,
A dew my faithful seruauntes euerych one,
A dew my commons whom I neuer shall,
See in this world wherfore to the alone,
Immortall god verely three and one,
I me commende. Thy infinite mercy,
Shew to thy seruant, for lo now here I ly.
Certain meters in English written by master Thomas More in hys youth for the boke of fortune, and caused them to be printed in the begynnyng of that boke.
The wordes of Fortune to the people.
Mine high estate power and auctoritie,
If ye ne know, enserche and ye shall spye,
That richesse, worship, welth, and dignitie,
Joy, rest, and peace, and all thyng fynally,
That any pleasure or profit may come by,
To mannes comfort, ayde, and sustinaunce,
Is all at my deuyse and ordinance.
Without my fauor there is nothyng wonne.
Many a matter haue I brought at last,
To good conclusion, that fondly was begonne.
And many a purpose, bounden sure and fast
With wise prouision, I haue ouercasat.
Without good happe there may no wit suffise.
Better is to be fortunate than wyse.
And therefore hath there some men bene or this,
My deadly foes and written many a boke,
To my disprayse. And other cause there nys,
But for me list not frendly on them loke.
Thus lyke the fox they fare that once forsoke,
The pleasant grapes, and gan for to defy them,
Because he lept and yet could not come by them.
But let them write theyr labour is in vayne.
For well ye wote, myrth, honour, and richesse,
Much better is than penury and payne.
The nedy wretch that lingereth in distresse,
Without myne helpe is euer comfortlesse,
A wery burden odious and loth,
To all the world, and eke to him selfe both.
But he that by my fauour may ascende,
To mighty power and excellent degree,
A common wele to gouerne and defende,
O in how blist condicion standeth he:
Him self in honour and felicite,
And ouer that, may forther and increase,
A region hole in ioyfull rest and peace.
Now in this poynt there is no more to say,
Eche man hath of him self the gouernaunce.
Let euery wight than folowe his owne way,
And he that out of pouertee and mischaunce,
List for to liue, and wyll him selfe enhaunce,
In wealth and richesse, come forth and wayte on me.
And he that wyll be a beggar, let hym be.
Thomas More to them that trust in Fortune.
Thou that are prowde of honour shape or kynne,
That hepest vp this wretched worldes treasure,
Thy fingers shrined with gold, thy tawny skynne,
With fresh apparyle garnished out of measure,
And wenest to haue fortune at thy pleasure,
Cast vp thyne eye, and loke how slipper chaunce,
Illudeth her men with chaunge and varyaunce.
Sometyme she loketh as louely fayre and bright,
As goodly Uenus mother of Cupyde.
She becketh and she smileth on euery wight.
But this chere fayned, may not long abide.
There cometh a cloude, and farewell all our pryde.
Like any serpent she beginneth to swell,
And looketh as fierce as any fury of hell.
Yet for all that we brotle men are fayne,
(So wretched is our nature and so blynde)
As soone as Fortune list to laugh agayne,
With fayre countenaunce and disceitfull mynde,
To crouche and knele and gape after the wynde,
Not one or twayne but thousandes in a rout,
Lyke swarmyng bees come flickeryng her aboute.
Thena s a bayte she bryngeth forthe her ware,
Siluer, gold, riche perle, and precious stone:
On whiche the mased people gase and stare,
And gape therefore, as dogges doe for the bone.
Fortune at them laugheth, and in her trone
Amyd her treasure and waueryng rychesse,
Prowdly she houeth as lady and empresse.
Fast by her syde doth wery labour stand,
Pale fere also, and sorow all bewept,
Disdayn and hatred on that other hand,
Eke restles watche fro slepe with trauayle kept,
His eyes drowsy and lokying as he slept.
Before her standeth daunger and enuy,
Flattery dyscept, mischiefe and tiranny.
About her commeth all the world to begge.
He asketh lande, and he to pas would bryng,
This toye and that, and all not worth an egge:
He would in loue prosper aboue all thyng:
He kneleth downe and would be made a kyng:
He forceth not so he may money haue,
Though all the worlde accompt hym for a knaue.
Lo thus ye see diuers heddes, diuers wittes.
Fortune alone as diuers as they all,
Vnstable here and there among them flittes:
And at auenture downe her giftes fall,
Catch who so may she throweth great and small
Not to all men, as commeth sonne or dewe,
But for the most part, all among a few.
And yet her brotell giftes long may not last.
He that she gaue them, loketh prowde and hye.
She whirlth about and pluckth away as fast,
And geueth them to an other by and by.
And thus from man to man continually,
She vseth to geue and take, and slily tosse,
One man to wynnyng of an others losse.
And when she robbeth one, down goth his pryde.
He wepeth and wayleth and curseth her full sore.
But he that receueth it, on that other syde,
Is glad, and blesth her often tymes therefore.
But in a whyle when she loueth hym no more,
She glydeth from hym, and her giftes to.
And he her curseth, as other fooles do.
Alas the folysh people can not cease,
Ne voyd her trayne, tyll they the harme do fele.
About he alway, besely they preace.
But lord how he doth thynk hym self full wele.
That may set once his hande vppon her whele.
He holdeth fast: but vpward as he flieth,
She whippeth her whele about,a nd there he lyeth.
Thus fell Julius from his mighty power.
Thus fell Darius the worthy kyng of Perse.
Thus fell Alexander the great conquerour.
Thus many mo than I may well reherse.
Thus double fortune, when she lyst reuerse
Her slipper fauour fro them that in her trust,
She fleeth her wey and leyeth them in the dust.
She sodeinly enhaunceth them aloft.
And sodeynly mischeueth all the flocke.
The head that late lay easily and full soft,
In stede of pylows lyeth after on the blocke.
And yet alas the most cruell proude mocke:
The deynty mowth that ladyes kissed haue,
She bryngeth in the case to kysse a knaue.
In chaungyng of her course, the chaunge sheweth this,
Vp startth a knaue, and downe there falth a knight,
The beggar ryche, and the ryche man pore is.
Hatred is turned to loue, loue to despyght.
This is her sport, thus proueth she her myght.
Great boste she maketh yf one be by her power,
Welthy and wretched both within an howre.
Pouertee that of her giftes wyl nothing take,
Wyth mery chere, looketh vppon the prece,
And seeth how fortunes houshold goeth to wrake.
Fast by her standeth the wyse Socrates.
Arristippus, Pythagoras, and many a lese.
Of olde philosophers. And eke agaynst the sonne
Bekyth hym poore Diogenes in his tonne.
With her is Byas, whose countrey lackt defence,
And whylom of their foes stode so in dout,
That eche man hastely gan to cary thence,
And asked hym why he nought caryed out.
I bere quod he all myne with me about:
Wisedom he ment, not fortunes brotle fees.
For nought he counted his that he might leese.
Heraclitus eke, lyst felowship to kepe
With glad pouertee, Democritus also:
Of which the fyrst can neuer cease but wepe,
To see how thick the blynded people go,
With labour great to purchase care and wo.
That other laugheth to see the foolysh apes,
Howe earnestly they walk about theyr capes.
Of this poore sect, it is comen vsage,
Onely to take that nature may sustayne,
Banishing cleane all other surplusage,
They be content, and of nothyng complayne.
No nygarde eke is of his good so fayne.
But they more pleasure haue a thousande folde,
The secrete draughtes of nature to beholde.
Set fortunes servauntes by them and ye wull,
That one is free, that other euer thrall,
That one content, that other neuer full.
That one in suretye, that other lyke to fall.
Who lyst to aduise them bothe, parceyue he shall,
As great difference between them as we see,
Betwixte wretchednes and felicite.
Nowe haue I shewed you bothe: these whiche ye lyst,
Stately foturne, or humble pouertee:
That is to say, nowe lyeth it in your fyst,
To take here bondage, or free libertee.
But in thys poynte and ye do after me,
Draw you to fortune, and labour her to please,
If that ye thynke your selfe to well at ease.
And fyrst vppon the louely shall she smile,
And frendly on the cast her wandering eyes,
Embrace the in her armes, and for a whyle,
Put the and kepe the in a fooles paradise:
And foorth with all what so thou lyst deuise,
She wyll the graunt it liberally parhappes:
But for all that beware of after clappes.
Recken you neuer of her fauoure sure:
Ye may in clowds as easily trace an hare,
Or in drye lande cause fishes to endure,
And make the burnyng fyre his heate to spare,
And all thys worlde in compace to forfare,
As her to make by craft or engine stable,
That of her nature is euer variable.
Serue her day and nyght as reuerently,
Vppon thy knees as any seruaunt may,
And in conclusion, that thou shalt winne thereby
Shall not be worth thy servyce I dare say.
And looke yet what she geueth the to day,
With labour wonne she shall happly to morrow
Pluck it agayne out of thyne hande with sorow.
Wherefore yf thou in suretye lyst to stande,
Take pouerties parte and let prowde fortune go,
Receyue nothyng that commeth from her hande.
Loue maner and vertue: they be onely tho.
Whiche double fortune may not take the for.
Then mayst thou boldly defye her turnyng chaunce:
She can the neyther hynder nor auaunce.
But and thou wylt nedes medle with her treasure,
Trust not therein, and spende it liberally.
Beare the not proude, nor take not out of measure.
Bylde not thyne house on heyth vp in the skye.
None falleth farre, but he that climbeth hye,
Remember nature sent the hyther bare,
The gyftes of fortune count them borowed ware.
Thomas More to them that seke Fortune.
Who so delyteth to prouen and assay,
Of waveryng fortune the vncertayne lot,
If that the aunswere please you not alway,
Blame ye not me: for I commaunde you not,
Fortune to trust, and eke full well ye wot,
I haue of her no brydle in my fist,
She renneth loose, and turneth where she lyst.
The rollyng dyse in whome your lucke doth stande,
With whose vnhappy chaunce ye be so wroth,
Ye knowe your selfe came neuer in myne hande.
Lo in this ponde be fyshe and frogges both.
Cast in your nette: but be you liefe or lothe,
Hold you content as fortune lyst assyne:
For it is your owne fishyng and not myne.
And though in one chaunce fortune you offend,
Grudge not there at, but beare a mery face.
In many an other she shall it amende.
There is no manne so farre out of her grace,
But he sometyme hath comfort and solace:
Ne none agayne so farre foorth in her fauour,
That is full satisfyed with her behauiour.
Fortune is stately, solemne, prowde, and hye:
And rychesse geueth, to haue seruyce therefore.
The nedy begger catcheth an halfpeny:
Some manne a thousande pounde, some lesse some more.
But for all that she kepeth euer in store,
From euery manne some parcell of his wyll,
That he may pray therfore and serue her styll.
Some manne hath good, but chyldren hath he none.
Some man hath both, but he can get none health.
Some hath al thre, but vp to honours trone,
Can he not crepe, by no maner of stelth.
To some she sendeth, children, ryches, welthe,
Honour, woorshyp, and reuerence all hys lyfe:
But yet she pyncheth hym with a shrewde wyfe.
Then for asmuch as it is fortunes guyse,
To graunt no manne all thyng that he wyll axe,
But as her selfe lyst order and deuyse,
Doth euery manne his parte diuide and tax,
I counsayle you eche one trusse vp your packes,
And take no thyng at all, or be content,
With suche rewarde as fortune hath you sent.
All thynges in this boke that ye shall rede,
Doe as ye lyst, there shall no manne you bynde,
Them to beleue, as surely as your crede.
But notwithstandyng certes in my mynde,
I durst well swere, as true ye shall them fynde,
In euery poynt eche answere by and by,
As are the iudgementes of astronomye.
The Descripcion of Richard the thirde.
Richarde the third sonne, of whom we nowe entreate, was in witte and courage egall with either of them, in boyde and prowesse farre vnder them bothe, little of stature, ill fetured of limmes, croke backed, his left shoulder much higher than his right, hard fauoured of visage, and such as is in states called warlye, in other menne otherwise, he was malicious, wrathfull, enuious, and from afore his birth, euer frowarde. It is for trouth reported, that the duches his mother had so much a doe in her trauaile, that shee coulde not bee deliuered of hym vncutte: and that hee came into the worlde with the feete forwarde, as menne bee borne outwarde, and (as the fame runneth) also not vntothed, whither menne of hatred reporte aboue the trouthe, or elles that nature chaunged her course in hys beginninge, whiche in the course of his lyfe many thinges vnnaturallye committed. None euill captaine was hee in the warre, as to whiche his disposicion was more metely then for peace. Sundrye victories hadde hee, and sommetime ouerthrowes, but neuer in defaulte as for his owne parsone, either of hardinesse or polytike order, free was hee called of dyspence, and sommewhat aboue hys power liberall, with large giftes hee get him vnstedfaste frendshippe, for whiche hee was fain to pil and spoyle in other places, and get him stedfast hatred. Hee was close and secrete, a deepe dissimuler, lowlye of counteynaunce, arrogant of heart, outwardly coumpinable where he inwardely hated, not letting to kisse whome hee thoughte to kyll: dispitious and cruell, not for euill will alway, but after for ambicion, and either for the suretie or encrease of his estate. Frende and foo was muche what indifferent, where his aduauntage grew, he spared no mans deathe, whose life withstoode his purpose. He slewe with his owne handes king Henry the sixt, being prisoner in the Tower, as menne constantly saye, and that without commaundement or knoweledge of the king, whiche woulde vndoubtedly yf he had entended that thinge, haue appointed that boocherly office, to some other then his owne borne brother.
Somme wise menne also weene, that his drift couertly conuayde, lacked not in helping furth his brother of Clarence to his death: whiche hee resisted openly, howbeit somewhat (as menne deme) more faintly then he that wer hartely minded to his welth. And they that thus deme, think that he long time in king Edwardes life, forethought to be king in that case the king his brother (whose life hee looked that euil dyete shoulde shorten) shoulde happen to decease (as in dede he did) while his children wer yonge. And thei deme, that for thys intente he was gladde of his brothers death the Duke of Clarence, whose life must nedes haue hindered hym so entendynge, whither the same duke of Clarence hadde kepte him true to his nephew the yonge king, or enterprised to be kyng himselfe. But of al this pointe, is there no certaintie, and whoso diuineth vppon coniectures, maye as wel shote to farre as to short. How beit this haue I by credible informacion learned, that the selfe nighte in whiche kynge Edwarde died, one Mystlebrooke longe ere mornynge, came in greate haste to the house of one Pottyer dwellyng in Reddecrosse strete without Crepulgate: and when he was with hastye rappyng quickly letten in, hee shewed vnto Pottyer that kynge Edwarde was departed. By my trouthe manne quod Pottier then wyll my mayster the duke of Gloucester bee kynge. What cause hee hadde soo to thynke harde it is to saye, whyther hee being toward him, anye thynge knewe that hee suche thynge purposed, or otherwyse had anye inkelynge thereof: for hee was not likelye to speake it of noughte.
But nowe to returne to the course of this hystorye, were it that the duke of Gloucester hadde of olde foreminded this conclusion, or was nowe at erste thereunto moued, and putte in hope by the occasion of the tender age of the younge princes, his nephues (as opportunitye and lykelyhoode of spede, putteth a manne in courage of that hee neuer entended) certayn is it that hee contriued theyr destruccion, with the vsurpacion of the regal dignitye vppon hymselfe. And for as muche as hee well wiste and holpe to mayntayn, a long continued grudge and hearte brennynge betwene the quenes kinred and the kinges blood eyther partye enuying others authoritye, he nowe thought that their deuision shoulde bee (as it was in dede) a fortherlye begynnynge to the pursuite of his intente, and a sure ground for the foundacion of al his building yf he might firste vnder the pretext of reuengynge of olde displeasure, abuse the anger and ygnoraunce of the tone partie, to the destruccion of the tother: and then wynne to his purpose as manye as he coulde: and those that coulde not be wonne, myght be loste ere they looked therefore. For of one thynge was hee certayne, that if his entente were perceiued, he shold soone haue made peace beetwene the bothe parties, with his owne bloude.
Kynge Edwarde in his life, albeit that this discencion beetwene hys frendes sommewhat yrked hym: yet in his good health he sommewhat the lesse regarded it, because hee thought whatsoeuer busines shoulde falle betwene them, hymselfe should alwaye bee hable to rule bothe the parties.
But in his last sicknesse, when hee receiued his naturall strengthe soo fore enfebled, that hee dyspayred all recouerye, then hee consyderynge the youthe of his chyldren, albeit hee nothynge lesse mistrusted then that that happened, yet well forseynge that manye harmes myghte growe by theyr debate, whyle the youth of hys children shoulde lacke discrecion of themself and good counsayle, of their frendes, of whiche either party shold counsayle for their owne commodity and rather by pleasaunte aduyse too wynne themselfe fauour, then by profitable aduertisemente to do the children good, he called some of them before him that were at variaunce, and in especyall the lorde marques Dorsette the quenes sonne by her fyrste housebande, and Richarde the lorde Hastynges, a noble man, than lorde chaumberlayne agayne whome the quene specially grudged, for that great fauoure the kyng bare hym, and also for that shee thoughte hym secretelye familyer with the kynge in wanton companye. Her kynred also bare hym sore, as well for that the kynge hadde made hym captayne of Calyce (whiche office the lorde Ryuers, brother to the quene claimed of the kinges former promyse as for diuerse other great giftes whiche hee recyued, that they loked for. When these lordes with diuerse other of bothe the parties were comme in presence, the kynge liftinge vppe himselfe and vndersette with pillowes, as it is reported on this wyse sayd vnto them, My lordes, my dere kinsmenne and allies, in what plighte I lye you see, & I feele. By whiche the lesse whyle I looke to lyue with you, the more depelye am I moued to care in what case I leaue you, for such as I leaue you, suche bee my children lyke to fynde you. Whiche if they shoulde (that Godde forbydde) fynde you at varyaunce, myght happe to fall themselfe at warre ere their discrecion woulde serue to sette you at peace. Ye se their youthe, of whiche I recken the onely suretie to reste in youre concord, For it suffiseth not that al you loue them, yf eche of you hate other, If they wer menne, your faithfulnesse happelye woulde suffise. But childehood must be maintained by mens authoritye, and slipper youth vnderpropped with elder counsayle, which neither they can haue, but ye geue it, nor ye geue it, yf ye gree not. For wher eche laboureth to breake that the other maketh, and for hated of ech of others parson, impugneth eche others counsayle, there must it nedes bee long ere anye good conclusion goe forwarde. And also while either partye laboureth to be chiefe, flattery shall haue more place then plaine and faithfull aduyse, of whyche muste needes ensue the euyll bringing vppe of the prynce, whose mynd in tender youth infect, shal redily fal to mischief and riot, and drawe down with this noble realme to ruine, but if grace turn him to wisdom: which if God send, then thei that by euill menes before pleased him best, shal after fall farthest out of fauour, so that euer at length euil driftes dreue to nought, and good plain wayes prosper. Great variaunce hath ther long bene betwene you, not alway for great causes. Sometime a thing right wel intended, our misconstruccion turneth vnto worse or a smal displeasure done vs, eyther our owne affeccion or euil tongues agreueth. But this wote I well ye neuer had so great cause of hatred, as ye haue of loue. That we be al men, that we be christen men, this shall I leaue for prechers to tel you (and yet I wote nere whither any preachers wordes ought more to moue you, then his that is by and by gooying to the place that thei all preache of.) But this shal I desire you to remember, that the one parte of you is of my bloode, the other of myne alies, and eche of yow with other, eyther of kinred or affinitie, which spirytuall kynred of affynyty, if the sacramentes of Christes churche, beare that weyghte with vs that woulde Godde thei did, shoulde no lesse moue vs to charitye, then the respecte of fleshlye consanguinitye. Oure Lorde forbydde, that you loue together the worse, for the selfe cause that you ought to loue the better. And yet that happeneth. And no where fynde wee so deadlye debate, as amonge them, whyche by nature and lawe moste oughte to agree together. Suche a pestilente serpente is ambicion and desyre of vaine glorye and soueraintye, which amonge states where he once entreth crepeth foorth so farre, tyll with deuision and variaunce hee turneth all to mischiefe. Firste longing to be nexte the best, afterwarde egall with the beste, and at laste chiefe and aboue the beste. Of which immoderate appetite of woorship, and thereby of debate and dissencion what losse, what sorowe, what trouble hathe within these fewe yeares growen in this realme, I praye Godde as well forgeate as wee well remember.
Whiche thinges yf I coulde as well haue foresene, as I haue with my more payne then pleasure proued, by Goddes blessed Ladie (that was euer his othe) I woulde neuer haue won the courtesye of mennes knees, with the losse of soo many heades. But sithen thynges passed cannot be gaine called, muche oughte wee the more beware, by what occasion we haue taken soo greate hurte afore, that we eftesoones fall not in that occasion agayne. Nowe be those griefes passed, and all is (Godde be thanked) quiete, and likelie righte wel to prosper in wealthfull peace vnder youre coseyns my children, it Godde sende them life and you loue. Of whyche twoo thinges, the lesse losse wer they by whome thoughe Godde dydde hys pleasure, yet shoulde the realme alway finde kinges and paraduenture as good kinges. But yf you among youre felfe in a childes reygne fall at debate, many a good man shall perish and happely he to, and ye to, ere thys land finde peace again. Wherfore in these last wordes that euer I looke to speak with you: I exhort you and require you al, for the loue that you haue euer borne to me, for the loue that I haue euer born to you, for the loue that our Lord beareth to vs all, from this time forwarde, all grieues forgotten, eche of you loue other. Whiche I verelye truste you will, if ye any thing earthly regard, either Godde or your king, affinitie or kinred, this realme, your owne countrey, or your owne surety. And therewithal the king no longer enduring to sitte vp, laide him down on his right side, his face towarde them: and none was there present that coulde refrain from weping. But the lordes recomforting him with as good wordes as they could, and answering for the time as thei thought to stand with his pleasure, there in his presence (as by their wordes appered ech forgaue other, and ioyned their hands together, when (as it after appeared by their dedes) their hearts wer far a sonder. As sone as the king was departed, the noble prince his sonne drew toward London, which at the time of his decease, kept his houshold at Ludlow in Wales. Which countrey being far of from the law anad recourse to iustice, was begon to be farre oute of good wyll and waxen wild, robbers and riuers walking at libertie vncorrected. And for this encheason the prince was in the life of his father sente thither, to the end that the authoritie of his presence, should refraine euill disposed parsons fro the boldnes of their formar outerages, to the gouernaunce and ordering of this young prince at his sending thyther, was there appointed Sir Antony Woduile lord Riuers and brother vnto the quene, a right honourable man, as valiaunte of hande as politike in counsayle. Adioyned wer there vnto him other of the same partite, and in effect euery one as he was nerest of kin vnto the quene, so was planted next about the prince. That drifte by the quene not vnwisely deuised, whereby her bloode mighte of youth be rooted in the princes fauor, the duke of Gloucester turned vnto their destruccion, and vpon that grounde set the foundacion of all his vnhappy building. For whom soeuer he perceiued, either at variance with them, or bearing himself their fauor, hee brake vnto them, some by mouth, som by writing and secret messengers, that it neyther was reason nor in any wise to be suffered, that the yong king their master and kinsmanne, shoold bee in the handes and custodye of his mothers kinred, sequestred in maner from theyr compani and attendance, of which eueri one ought him as faithful seruice as they, and manye of them far more honorable part of kin than his mothers side: whose blood (quod he) sauing the kinges pleasure, was ful vnmetely to be matched with his: whiche nowe to be as who say remoued from the kyng, and the lesse noble to be left aboute him, is (quod he) neither honorable to hys magestie, nor vnto vs, and also to his grace no surety to haue the mightiest of his frendes from him, and vnto vs no little ieopardy, to suffer our welproued euil willers, to grow in ouergret authoritie with the prince in youth, namely which is lighte of beliefe and sone perswaded. Ye remember I trow king Edward himself, albeit he was a manne of age and of descrecion, yet was he in manye thynges ruled by the bende, more then stode either with his honour, or our profite, or with the commoditie of any manne els, except onely the immoderate aduauncement of them selfe. Whiche whither they sorer thirsted after their owne weale, or our woe, it wer hard I wene to geste. And if some folkes frendship had not holden better place with the king, then any respect of kinred, thei might peraduenture easily haue be trapped and brought to confusion somme of vs ere this. Why not as easily as they haue done some other alreadye, as necre of his royal bloode as we. But our Lord hath wrought his wil, and thanke be to his grace that peril is paste. Howe be it as great is growing, yf wee suffer this yonge kyng in oure enemyes hande, whiche without his wyttyng, might abuse the name of his commaundement, to ani of our vndoing, which thyng God and good prouision forbyd. Of which good prouision none of us hath any thing the lesse nede, for the late made attonemente, in whiche the kinges pleasure hadde more place then the parties willes. Nor none of vs I beleue is so vnwyse, ouersone to truste a newe frende made of an olde foe, or to think that an houerly kindnes, sodainely contract in one houre continued, yet scant a fortnight, shold be deper setled in their stomackes: then a long accustomed malice many yeres rooted.
With these wordes and writynges and suche other, the duke of Gloucester sone set a fyre, them that were of themself ethe to kindle, and in especiall twayne, Edwarde duke of Buckingham, and Richarde lorde Hastinges and chaumberlayn, both men of honour and of great power. The tone by longe succession from his ancestrie, the tother by his office and the kinges fauor. These two not bearing eche to other so muche loue, as hatred bothe vnto the quenes parte: in this poynte accorded together wyth the duke of Gloucester, that they wolde vtterlye amoue fro the kynges companye, all his mothers frendes, vnder the name of their enemyes. Vpon this concluded, the duke of Gloucester vnderstandyng, that the lordes whiche at that tyme were aboute the kyng, entended to bryng him vppe to his coronacion, accompanied with suche power of theyr frendes, that it shoulde bee harde for hym to brynge his purpose to passe, without the gathering and great assemble of people and in maner of open warre, whereof the ende he wiste was doubtuous, and in which the kyng being on their side, his part should haue the face and name of a rebellion: he secretly therefore by diuers meanes, caused the quene to be perswaded and brought in the mynd, that it neither wer nede, and also shold be ieopardous, the king to come vp strong. For whereas nowe euery lorde loued other, and none other thing studyed vppon, but aboute the coronaction and honoure of the king: if the lordes of her kinred shold assemble in the kinges name muche people, thei should geue the lordes atwixte whome and them hadde bene sominetyme debate, to feare and suspecte, leste they shoulde gather thys people, not for the kynges sauegarde whome no manne enpugned, but for theyr destruccion, hauying more regarde to their olde variaunce, then their newe attonement. For whiche cause thei shoulde assemble on the other partie muche people agayne for their defence, whose power she wyste wel farre stretched. And thus should all the realme fall on a rore. And of al the hurte that therof should ensue, which was likely not to be litle, and the most harme there like to fal wher she lest would, all the worlde woulde put her and her kinred in the wyght, and say that thei had vnwyselye and untrewlye also, broken the amitie and peace that the kyng her husband so prudentelye made, betwene hys kinne and hers in his death bed, and whiche the other party faithfully obserued.
The quene being in this wise perswaded, such woorde sente vnto her sonne, and vnto her brother being aboute the kynge, and ouer that the duke of Gloucester hymselfe and other lordes the chiefe of hys bende, wrote vnto the kynge soo reuerentelye, and to the queenes frendes, there soo louyngelye, that they nothynge earthelye mystrustynge, broughte the kynge vppe in greate haste, not in good spede, with a sober coumpanye. Nowe was the king in his waye to London gone, from Northampton, when these dukes of Gloucester and Buckyngham came thither. Where remained behynd, the lorde Ryuers the kynges vncle, entendying on the morowe to folow the kynge, and bee with hym at Stonye Stratford miles thence, earely or hee departed. So was there made that nyghte muche frendely chere betwene these dukes and the lorde Riuers a greate while. But incontinente after that they were oppenlye with greate courtesye departed, and the lorde Riuers lodged, the dukes secretelye with a fewe of their most priuye frendes, sette them downe in counsayle, wherin they spent a great parte of the nyght. And at their risinge in the dawnyng of the day, thei sent about priuily to their seruantes in their innes and lodgynges about, geuinge them commaundemente to make them selfe shortely readye, for their lordes wer to horsebackward. Vppon whiche messages, manye of their folke were attendaunt, when manye of the lorde Riuers seruantes were vnreadye. Nowe hadde these dukes taken also into their custodye the kayes of the inne, that none shoulde passe foorth without theyr licence.
And ouer this in the hyghe waye towarde Stonye Stratforde where the kynge laye, they hadde beestowed certayne of theyr folke, that shoulde sende backe agayne, and compell to retourne, ayne manne that were gotten oute of Northampton toward Stonye Stratforde, tyll they should geue other lycence. For as much as the dukes themselfe entended for the shewe of theire dylygence, to bee the fyrste that shoulde that daye attende vppon the kynges highnesse oute of that towne: thus bare they folke in hande. But when the lorde Ryuers vnderstode the gates closed, and the wayes on euerye side besette, neyther hys seruauntes nor hymself suffered to go oute, parceiuyng well so greate a thyng without his knowledge not begun for noughte, comparyng this maner present with this last nightes chere, in so few houres so gret a chaunge marueylouslye misliked. How be it sithe hee coulde not great awaye, and keep himselfe close, hee woulde not, leste he shoulde seeme to hyde himselfe for some secret feare of hys owne faulte, whereof he saw no such cause in hym self: he determined vppon the suretie of his own conscience, to goe boldelye to them, and inquire what thys matter myghte meane. Whome as soone as they sawe, they beganne to quarrell with hym, and saye, that hee intended to sette distaunce beetweene the kynge and them, and to brynge them to confusion, but it shoulde not lye in hys power. And when hee beganne (as hee was a very well spoken manne) in goodly wise to excuse himself, they taryed not the ende of his aunswere, but shortely tooke him and putte him in warde, and that done, foorthwyth wente to horsebacke, and tooke the waye to Stonye Stratforde. Where they founde the kinge with his companie readye to leape on horsebacke, and departe forwarde, to leaue that lodging for them, because it was to streighte for bothe coumpanies. And as sone as they came in his presence, they lighte adowne with all their companie aboute them. To whome the duke of Buckingham saide, goe afore gentlemenne and yeomen, kepe youre rowmes. And thus in goodly arraye, thei came to the kinge, and on their knees in very humble wise, salued his grace; whiche receyued them in very ioyous and amiable maner, nothinge earthlye knowing nor mistrustinge as yet. But euen by and by in his presence, they piked a quarell to the lorde Richard Graye, the kynges other brother by his mother, sayinge that hee with the lorde marques his brother and the lorde Riuers his vncle, hadde coumpassed to rule the kinge and the realme, and to sette variaunce among the states, and to subdewe and destroye the noble blood of the realm. Toward the accoumplishinge whereof, they sayde that the lorde Marques hadde entered into the Tower of London, and thence taken out the kinges treasor, and sent menne to the sea. All whiche thinge these dukes wiste well were done for good purposes and necessari by the whole counsaile at London, sauing that sommewhat thei must sai. Vnto which woordes, the king aunswered, what my brother Marques hath done I cannot saie. But in good faith I dare well aunswere for myne vncle Riuers and my brother here, that thei be innocent of any such matters. Ye my liege quod the duke of Buckingham thei haue kepte theire dealing in these matters farre fro the knowledge of your good grace. And foorthwith thei arrested the lord Richarde and Sir Thomas Waughan knighte, in the kinges presence, and broughte the king and all back vnto Northampton, where they tooke againe further counsaile. And there they sent awaie from the kinge whom it pleased them, and sette newe seruantes aboute him, such as lyked better them than him. At which dealinge hee wepte and was nothing contente, but it booted not. And at dyner the duke of Gloucester sente a dishe from his owne table to the lord Riuers, prayinge him to bee of good chere, all should be well inough. And he thanked the duke, and prayed the messenger to beare it to his nephewe the lorde Richard with the same message for his comfort, who he thought had more nede of coumfort, as one to whome such aduersitie was straunge. But himself had been al his dayes in vre therewith, and therfore coulde beare it the better. But for al this coumfortable courtesye of the duke of Gloucester he sent the lord Riuers and the lorde Richarde with Sir Thomas Vaughan into the Northe countrey into diuers places to prison, and afterward al to Pomfrait, where they were in conclusion beheaded.
A letter written with a cole by Sir Thomas More to hys doughter maistres Margaret Roper, within a whyle after he was prisoner in the Towre.
Myne own good doughter, our lorde be thanked I am in good helthe of bodye, and in good quiet of minde: and of worldly thynges I no more desyer then I haue. I beseche hym make you all mery in the hope of heauen. And such thynges as I somewhat longed to talke with you all, concerning the worlde to come, our Lorde put theim into your myndes, as I truste he doth and better to by hys holy spirite: who blesse you and preserue you all. Written wyth a cole by your tender louing father, who in hys pore prayers forgetteth none of you all nor your babes, nor your nurses, nor your good husbandes, nor your good husbandes shrewde wyues, nor your fathers shrewde wyfe neither, nor our other frendes. And thus fare ye hartely well for lacke of paper.
Two short ballettes which Sir Thomas More made for hys pastime while he was prisoner in the Tower of London.
Lewys the lost louer.
Ey flatering fortune, loke thou neuer so fayre,
Or neuer so plesantly begin to smile,
As though thou wouldst my ruine all repayre,
During my life thou shalt me not begile.
Trust shall I God, to entre in a while.
Hys hauen or heauen sure and vniforme.
Euer after thy calme, loke I for a storme.
Dauy the dycer.
Long was I lady Lucke your seruing man,
And now haue lost agayne all that I gat,
Wherfore whan I thinke on you now and than,
And in my mynde remember this and that,
Ye may not blame me though I beschrew your cat,
But in fayth I blesse you agayne a thousand times,
For lending me now some laysure to make rymes.
At the same time with Sir Thomas More lived Skelton, the poet laureate of Henry VIII. from whose work it seems proper to insert a few stanzas, though he cannot be said to have attained great elegance of language.
The prologue to Bouge of Courte.
In Autumpne whan the sonne in vyrgyne
By radyante hete enryped hath our corne
Whan Luna full of mutabylyte
As Emperes the dyademe hath worne
Of our pole artyke, smylynge halfe in scorne
At our foly, and our vnstedfastnesse
The time whan Mars to warre hym dyd dres,
I callynge to mynde the greate auctoryte
Of poetes olde, which full craftely
Vnder as couerte termes as coulde be
Can touche a trouth, and cloke subtylly
With fresshe vtteraunce full sentencyously
Dyuerse in style some spared not vyce to wryte
Some of mortalitie nobly dyd endyte
Whereby I rede, theyr renome and theyr fame
Maye neuer dye, but euermore endure
I was sore moued to a forse the same
But ignoraunce full soone dyde me dyscure
And shewed that in this arte I was not sure
For to illumine she sayd I was to dulle
Aduysynge me my penne awaye to pulle
And not to wryte, for he so wyll atteyne
Excedyng ferther than his connynge is
His heed maye be harde, but feble is brayne
Yet haue I knowen suche er this
But of reproche surely he maye not mys
That clymmeth hyer than he may fotinge haue
What and he slyde downe, who shall him saue?
Thus vp and downe my mynde was drawen and cast
That I ne wyste what to do was beste
So sore enwered that I was at the laste
Enforsed to slepe, and for to take some reste
And to lye downe as soone as I my dreste
At Harwyche porte slumbrynge as I laye
In myne hostes house called powers keye
Of the wits that flourished in the reign of Henry VIII. none has been more frequently celebrated than the earl of Surry; and this history would therefore have been imperfect without some specimens of his works, which yet it is not easy to distinguish from those of Sir Thomas Wyat and others, with which they are confounded in the edition that has fallen into my hands. The three first are, I believe, Surry's; the rest, being of the same age, are selected, some as examples of different measures, and one as the oldest composition which I have found in blank verse.
The soote season that bud, and bloome fourth bringes,
With grene hath cladde the hyll, and eke the vale,
The Nightingall with fethers new she singes;
The turtle to her mate hath told her tale:
Somer is come, for every spray now springes.
The hart hath hunge hys olde head on the pale,
The bucke in brake his winter coate he flynges;
The fishes fiete with newe repayred scale:
The adder all her slough away she flynges,
The swift swallow pursueth the flyes smalle,
The busy bee her honey how she mynges;
Winter is worne that was the floures bale.
And thus I see among these pleasant thynges
Eche care decayes, and yet my sorrow sprynges.
When youth had led me half the race,
That Cupides scourge had made me runne;
I looked back to meet the place,
From whence my weary course begunne:
And then I saw howe my desyre
Misguiding me had led the waye,
Myne eyne to greedy of theyre hyre,
Had made me lose a better prey.
For when in sighes I spent the day,
And could not cloake my grief with game;
The boyling smoke dyd still bewray,
The present heat of secret flame:
And when salt teares do bayne my breast,
Where love his pleasent traynes hath sown,
Her beauty hath the fruytes opprest,
Ere that the buddes were spronge and blowne.
And when myne eyen dyd still pursue,
The flying chase of theyre request;
Theyre greedy looks dyd oft renew,
The hydden wounde within my breste.
When every loke these cheekes might stayne,
From dedly pale to glowing red;
By outward signes appeared playne,
To her for helpe my hart was fled.
But all to late Love learneth me,
To paynt all kynd of Colours new;
To blynd theyre eyes that else should see
My speckled chekes with Cupids hew.
And now the covert brest I clame,
That worshipt Cupide secretely;
And nourished hys sacred flame,
From whence no blairing sparks do flye.
Such wayward wayes hath Love, that most part in discord
Our willes do stand, whereby our hartes but seldom do accord:
Decyte is hys delighte, and to begyle and mocke
The simple hartes which he doth strike with froward divers stroke.
He causeth th' one to rage with golden burning darte,
And doth alay with Leaden cold, again the others harte.
Whose gleames of burning fyre and easy sparkes of flame,
In balance of unequal weyght he pondereth by ame
From easye ford where I myghte wade and pass full well,
He me withdrawes and doth me drive, into a depe dark hell:
And me witholdes where I am calde and offred place,
And willes me that my mortal foe I do bespeke of Grace;
He lettes me to pursue a conquest welnere wonne
To follow here my paynes were lost, ere that my sute begunne.
So by this means I know how soon a hart may turne
From warre to peace, from truce to stryfe, and so agayne returne.
I know how to content my self in others lust,
Of little stuffe unto my self to weave a webbe of trust:
And how to hyde my harmes with sole dyssembling chere,
Whan in my face the painted thoughtes would outwardly appeare.
I know how that the bloud forsakes the face for dred,
And how by shame it staynes agayne the Chekes with flamyng red:
I know under the Grene, the Serpent how he lurkes:
The hammer of the restless forge I wote eke how it workes.
I know and con by roate the tale that I woulde tell
But ofte the woordes come fourth awrye of him that lovelth well.
I know in heate and colde the Lover how he shakes,
In synging how he doth complayne, in sleeping how he wakes
To languish without ache, sickelesse for to consume,
A thousand thynges for to devyse, resolvynge of his fume;
And though he lyste to see his Ladyes Grace full sore
Such pleasures as delyght hys Eye, do not his helthe restore.
I know to seke the tracte of my desyred foe,
And fere to fynde that I do seek, but chiefly this I know,
That Lovers must transfourme into the thynge beloved,
And live (alas! who would believe?) with sprite from Lyfe removed.
I knowe in harty sighes and laughters of the spleene,
At once to chaunge my state, my will, and eke my colour clene.
I know how to deceyve my self wythe others helpe,
And how the Lyon chastised is, by beatynge of the whelpe.
In standynge nere the fyre, I know how that I frease;
Farre of I burne, in bothe I waste, and so my Lyfe I leese.
I know how Love doth rage upon a yeylding mynde,
How smalle a nete may take and mase a harte of gentle kynde:
Or else with seldom swete to season hepes of gall,
Revived with a glympse of Grace old sorrowes to let fall.
The hydden traynes I know, and secret snares of Love,
How soone a loke will prynte a thoughte that never may remove.
The slypper state I knew, the sodein turnes from welthe
The doubtfull hope, the certaine wooe, and sure despaired helthe.
Geve place you ladies and be gone,
Boast not your selves at all,
For here at hande approcheth one,
Whose face will stayne you all.
The vertue of her lively lookes
Excels the precious stone,
I wishe to have none other bookes
To reade or look upon.
In eche of her two christall eyes,
Smyleth a naked boy;
It would you all in heart suffise
To see that lampe of joye.
I think nature hath lost the moulde,
Where she her shape did take;
Or else I doubte if nature coulde
So fayre a creature make.
She may be well comparde
Unto the Phenix kinde,
Whose like was never seene nor heard,
That any man can fynde.
In lyfe she is Diana chast
In trouth Penelopey,
In woord and eke in dede stedfast;
What will you more we say:
If all the world were sought so farre,
Who could finde such a wight,
Her beauty twinkleth lyke a starre
Within the frosty night.
My youthfull yeres are past,
My joyfull dayes are gone,
My lyfe it may not last,
My grave and I am one.
My Myrth and joyes are fled,
And I a Man in wo,
Desirous to be ded,
My misciefe to forgo.
I burne and am a colde,
I freese amyddes the fyer,
I see she doth witholde
That is my honest desyre.
I see my helpe at hande,
I see my lyfe also,
I see where she doth stande
That is my deadly fo.
I see how she doth see,
And yet she wil be blynde,
I see in helpyng me,
She sekes and will not fynde.
I see how she doth wrye,
When I begynne to mone,
I see when I come nye,
How fayne she would be gone.
I see what wil ye more,
She will me gladly kill,
And you shall see therfore
That she shall have her will.
I cannot live with stones,
It is too hard a foode,
I wil be dead at ones
To do my Lady good.
Now clattring armes, now raging broyles of warre,
Gan passe the noys of dredfull trumpetts clang,
Shrowded with shafts, the heaven with cloude of dartes,
Covered the ayre. Against full fatted bulles.
As forceth kyndled yre the lyons keene,
Whose greedy gutts the gnawing hunger prickes;
So Macedons against the Persians fare,
Now corpses hyde the purpurde soyle with blood;
Large slaughter on eche side, but Perses more,
Moyst fieldes bebled, theyr heartes and numbers bate,
Fainted while they gave backe, and fall to flighte.
The litening Macedon by swordes, by gleaves,
By bandes and troupes of footemen, with his garde,
Speedes to Dary, but hym his merest kyn,
Oxate preserves with horsemen on a plumpe
Before his carr, that none his charge should give.
Here grunts, here groans, eche where strong youth spent:
Shaking her bloudy hands, Bellone among
The Perses soweth all kind of cruel death:
With throte yent he roares, he lyeth along
His entrailes with a launce through gryded quyte,
Hym smytes the club, hym woundes farre stryking bowe,
And him the sling, and him the shining sword;
He dyeth, he is all dead, he pantes, he restes.
Right over stoode in snowwhite armour brave,
The Memphite Zoroas, a cunnyng clarke,
To whom the heaven lay open as his booke;
And in celestiall bodies he could tell
The moving meeting light, aspect, eclips,
And influence, and constellations all;
What earthly chaunces would betyde, what yere,
Of plenty storde, what signe forewarned death,
How winter gendreth snow, what temperature
In the prime tyde doth season well the soyle,
Why summer burnes, why autumne hath ripe grapes,
Whither the circle quadrate may become,
Whether our tunes heavens harmony can yelde
Of four begyns among themselves how great
Proportion is; what sway the erryng lightes
Doth send in course gayne that fyrst movyng heaven;
What, grees one from another distant be,
What starr doth lett the hurtfull fyre to rage,
Or him more mylde what opposition makes,
What fyre doth qualifye Mavorses fyre,
What house eche one doth seeke, what plannett raignes
Within this heaven sphere, nor that small thynges
I speake, whole heaven he closeth in his brest.
This sage then in the starres hath spyed the fates
Threatened him death without delay, and, sith,
He saw he could not fatall order chaunge,
Foreward he prest in battayle, that he might
Mete with the rulers of the Macedons,
Of his right hand desirous to be slain,
The bouldest borne, and worthiest in the feilde;
And as a wight, now wery of his lyfe,
Ad seking death, in fyrst front of his rage,
Comes desperately to Alexanders face,
At him with dartes one after other throwes,
With recklesse wordes and clamour him provokes,
And sayth, Nectanaks bastard shamefull stayne
Of mothers bed, why losest thou thy strokes,
Cowardes among, Turn thee to me, in case
Manhood there be so much left in thy heart,
Come fight with me, that on my helmet weare,
Apollo's laurell both for learninges laude,
And eke for martiall praise, that in my shielde
The seven fold Sophie of Minerve contein,
A match more mete, Syr King, then any here.
The noble prince amoved takes ruth upon
The wilfull wight, and with soft words ayen,
O monstrous man (quoth he) what so thou art,
I pray thee live, ne do not with thy death
This lodge of Lore, the Muses mansion marre;
That treasure house this hand shall never spoyle,
My sword shall never bruise that skilfull brayne,
Long gather'd heapes of science sone to spill;
O how fayre fruites may you to mortall men
From Wisdoms garden give; how many may
By you the wiser and the better prove:
What error, what mad moode, what frenzy thee
Perswades to be downe, sent to depe Averne,
Where no artes flourish, nor no knowledge vailes
For all these sawes. When thus the sovereign said,
Alighted Zoroas with sword unsheathed,
The careless king there smoate above the greve,
At th' opening of his quishes wounded him,
So that the blood down trailed on the ground:
The Macedon perceiving hurt, gan gnashe,
But yet his mynde he bent in any wise
Hym to forbeare, sett spurrs unto his stede,
And turnde away, lest anger of his smarte
Should cause revenger hand deale balefull blowes.
But of the Macedonian chieftaines knights,
One Meleager could not bear this sight,
But ran upon the said Egyptian rude,
And cutt him in both knees: he fell to ground,
Wherewith a whole rout came of souldiours sterne,
And all in pieces hewed the sely seg,
But happely the soule fled to the starres,
Where, under him, he hath full sight of all,
Whereat he gazed here with reaching looke.
The Persians waild such sapience to forgoe,
The very fone the Macedonians wisht
He would have lived, king Alexander selfe
Demde him a man unmete to dye at all;
Who wonne like praise for conquest of his Yre,
As for stoute men in field that day subdued,
Who princes taught how to discerne a man,
That in his head so rare a jewel beares,
But over all those same Camenes, those same,
Divine Camenes, whose honour he procurde,
As tender parent doth his daughters weale,
Lamented, and for thankes, all that they can,
Do cherish hym deceast, and sett him free,
From dark oblivion of devouring death.
Barelay wrote about 1550; his chief work is the Ship of Fooles, of which the following extract will shew his style.
O Heartless fooles, haste here to our doctrine,
Leaue off the wayes of your enormitie,
Enforce you to my preceptes to encline,
For here shall I shewe you good and veritie:
Encline, and ye find shall great prosperitie,
Ensuing the doctrine of our fathers olde,
And godly lawes in valour worth great golde.
Who that will followe the graces manyfolde
Which are in vertue, shall finde auauncement:
Wherfore ye fooles that in your sinne are bolde,
Ensue ye wisdome, and leaue your lewde intent,
Wisdome is the way of men most excellent:
Therfore haue done, and shortly spede your pace,
To quaynt your self and company with grace.
Learne what is vertue, therin is great solace,
Learne what is truth, sadnes and prudence,
Let grutche be gone, and grauitie purchase,
Forsake your folly and inconuenience,
Cease to be fooles, and ay to sue offence,
Followe ye vertue, chiefe roote of godlynes,
For it and wisdome is ground of clenlynes.
Wisedome and vertue two thinges are doubtles,
Whiche man endueth with honour speciall,
But suche heartes as slepe in foolishnes
Knoweth nothing, and will nought know at all:
But in this little barge in principall
All foolish mockers I purpose to repreue,
Clawe he his backe that feeleth itche or greue.
Mockers and scorners that are harde of beleue,
With a rough combe here will I clawe and grate,
To proue if they will from their vice remeue,
And leaue their folly, which causeth great debate:
Suche caytiues spare neyther poore man nor estate,
And where their selfe are moste worthy derision,
Other men to scorne is all their most condition.
Yet are mo fooles of this abusion,
Whiche of wise men despiseth the doctrine,
With mowes, mockes, scorne, and collusion,
Rewarding rebukes for their good discipline:
Shewe to such wisdome, yet shall they not encline
Unto the same, but set nothing therby,
But mocke thy doctrine, still or openly.
So in the worlde it appeareth commonly,
That who that will a foole rebuke or blame,
A mocke or mowe shall he haue by and by:
Thus in derision haue fooles their speciall game.
Correct a wise manthat woulde eschue ill name,
And fayne would lerne, and his lewde life amende,
And to thy wordes he gladly shall intende.
If by misfortune a rightwise man offende,
He gladly suffereth a iuste correction,
And him that him teacheth taketh for his frende,
Him selfe putting mekely unto subiection,
Folowing his preceptes and good direction:
But yf that one a foole rebuke or blame,
He shall his teacher hate, slaunder, and diffame.
Howbeit his wordes oft turne to his own shame,
And his owne dartes retourne to him agayne,
And so is he sore wounded with the same,
And in wo endeth, great misery and payne.
It also proued full often is certayne,
That they that on mockers alway their mindes cast,
Shall of all other be mocked at the last.
He that goeth right, stedfast, sure, and fast,
May him well mocke that goeth halting and lame,
And he that is white may well his scornes cast,
Agaynst a man of Inde: but no man ought to blame
Anothers vice, while he vseth the same.
But who that of sinne is cleane in deede and thought,
May him well scorne whose liuing is starke nought.
The scornes of Naball full dere should haue been bought,
If Abigayl his wife discrete and sage,
Had not by kindnes right crafty meanes sought,
The wrath of Dauid to temper and asswage.
Hath not two beares in their fury and rage
Two and fortie children rent and torne,
For they the prophete Helyseus did scorne.
So might they curse the time that they were borne,
For their mocking of this prophete diuine:
So many other of this sort often mourne
For their lewde mockes, and fall into ruine.
Thus is it foly for wise men to encline,
To this lewde flocke of fooles, for see thou shall
Them moste scorning that are most bad of all.
Ye mocking fooles that in scorne set your joy,
Proudly despising Gods punition:
Take ye example by Cham the sonne of Noy,
Which laughed his father vnto derision,
And made him seruaunt to all his lyne and stocke.
So shall ye caytifs at the conclusion,
Since ye are nought, and other scorne and mocke.
About the year 1553 wrote Dr. Wilson, a man celebrated for the politeness of his style, and the extent of his knowledge: what was the state of our language in his time, the following may be of use to show.
PRonunciation is an apte orderinge bothe of the voyce, countenaunce, and all the whole bodye, accordynge to the worthines of suche woordes and mater as by speache are declared. The vse hereof is suche for anye one that liketh to haue prayse for tellynge his tale in open assemblie, that hauing a good tongue, and a comelye countenaunce, he shalbe thought to passe all other that haue the like vtteraunce: thoughe they haue much better learning. The tongue geueth a certayne grace to euerye matter, and beautifieth the cause in like maner, as a swete soundynge lute muche setteth forth a meane deuised ballade. Or as the sounde of a good instrumente styrreth the hearers, and moueth muche delite, so a cleare sounding voice comforteth muche our deintie eares, with muche swete melodie, and causeth vs to allowe the matter rather for the reporters sake, then the reporter for the matters sake. Demosthenes therfore, that famouse oratour, beyng asked what was the chiefest point in al oratorie, gaue the chiefe and onely praise to Pronunciation; being demaunded, what was the seconde, and the thirde, he stil made answere Pronunciation, and would make none other aunswere, till they lefte askyng, declaryng hereby that arte without vtteraunce can dooe nothyng, vtteraunce without arte can dooe right muche. And no doubte that man is in outwarde apparaunce halfe a good clarke, that hath a cleane tongue, and a comely gesture of his body. Æschines lykwyse being bannished his countrie through Demosthenes, when he had redde to the Rhodians his own oration, and Demosthenes aunswere thereunto, by force whereof he was bannished, and all they marueiled muche at the excellencie of the same: then (q d Æschines) you would have marueiled muche more if you had heard hymselfe speak it. Thus beyng cast in miserie and bannished for euer, he could not but geue such great reporte of his deadly and mortal ennemy.
Thus have I deduced the English language from the age of Alfred to that of Elizabeth; in some parts imperfectly for want of materials; but I hope, at least, in such a manner that its progress may be easily traced, and the gradations observed, by which it advanced from its first rudeness to its present elegance.