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And bathud every veyne in swich licour,
3. swich licour and which vertue (4). swich is A.S. swa-lik, from
the Gothic sve-leiks, so like ; and which, A.S. hwa-lik, from
the Gothic hvi-leiks, what like. 8. i-ronne, past part. run; from A.S. yrnan, arn, urnan, run,
ran, run. Note that r is a letter very liable to be
transposed. 9. smale. An inflected adj. A.S. smæl; plural, smole. maken, 3rd plu. pres. ind. The Saxon termination of the
plu. pres. ind. was ath or eth ; of the past ind., on, and of the subjunctive, on. Chaucer generally uses en, as in slepen (10), longen (12). In wende (16), the final n is
dropped. 11. hem (11, 18), A.S. him, the accusative and dative plural of
the 3rd Personal Pronoun, he, heo, hit. here, A.S. hira, the genitive plural of the same pronoun.
Why or when hem and here were changed into them and
their has not yet been found out. 12. to gon, for to seeken (13) for to seeke (17). Verbs in the
infinitive mood. All have the sign to, which was never used before verbs in the infinitive in Anglo-Saxon. When to was put before a verb, the verb was converted into a noun, and governed by the preposition in the dative. The Saxon termination for the infinitive was an. This is represented by the n in gon, and the en in seeken. In seeke the n is dropped. The for in ‘for to seeken,' and 'for to seeke,' corresponds to the French pour, and occurs very
often in Chaucer infinitives. 14. Kouthe, past part. of conne, A.S. cnawan, cneow, cnawen,
know, knew, known. Cf. Gower's line, ‘His name for
And specially, from every schires ende
Byfel that, in that sesoun on a day,
ever shall be couth. And with this participle, contrast
the adj. uncouth, which is still retained. 16. wende. From this word we have went, the past tense of the
verb to go, the old form of which was yode gode. 18. holpen, pp. of helpan, healp, holpen. Cf. Luke i. 54.
LINES 19-29. The construction of the period (19–27) will be more evident if
the phrases and clauses are arranged as follows :On a day in that sesoun, as I lay at the Tabbard in South
werk, redy to wenden with ful devout corage on my pilgrimage to Canturbury, it byfel at night that wel nyne and twenty in a companye of sondry folk by aventure i-falle in felawschipe was come into that hostelrie; and thei were alle pilgryms that wolden ryde toward
Canturbury. 19. Byfel has for its subject the clause following it. Note that
Chaucer does not use the pronoun it before the verb, when the subject is placed after it. In this, he is followed by
Carlyle, as, Remains that we, &c. 23. was come, the passive of an intransitive verb, used for had
соте. This form is common in Shakespere : for example, in the Merchant of Venice,' we have Thou art come,
'I am to learn.' 24. Nyne and twenty was come. A verb in the singular, with
a nominative in the plural, the company being spoken of collectively. Wel nyne and twenty. Wel is an adverb modifying the adjective of number. Full is still used in the same way:
• Full many a flower is born to blush unseen.' See line 530. 25. i-falle, past part. A.S. feallan, feol, ge-feallen, fall, fell,
In felawschipe, and pilgryms were thei alle,
fallen. The prefix i is a corruption of the A.S.
prefix ge. 26. felaw-schipe. Schipe from the A.S. affix scipe, correspond
ing to the Latin ion, and signifying state or relation of. 27. wolden, weren (28), 3rd plu. past. 29. esud, past part. eased or accommodated. -ud is a dialectic
form of -ed. See lines 3, 6, &c. atte a contracted form of at the. The A.S. at tham, after
wards at than, was first contracted to attan or atten, and then to atta, or, as here and in other lines, atte.
LINES 30-42. 30. to reste = at rest : 31. hem = them : everych-on = every one. 32. here = their, other forms of the word are her, hire, and hir. 33. for to ryse, the reading of the six MSS. published by the
Chaucer Society. The Harleian has to aryse. 34. ther as = to that place, which. 35. na the les, A.S. na the less, not the less or nevertheless.
whiles, an adverb. A.S. hwile, while or time, as tha
while, the while, so long as. The s in whiles is a trace of inflexion, or whiles may be a contracted form of while
as or while that.
have. Note that the e is elided. 36. Or, A.S. aer, ere or before. Or e'er in the expression of
Hamlet, «Or e'er these shoes were old,' is equivalent to
ere ever. See also the phrase or ever in Psa. xc. 2. that. See note on this word in the first line. ferthere = further, the comparative of forth, sometimes
erroneously written farther, the comparative of far.
Me thinketh it acordant to resoun,
alle the condicioun
1. THE KNIGHT.
37. Methinketh = it seems to me. Thinketh here is from the
A.S. thincan, to seem, and not from thencan, to think.
Fat as a whale, and walken like a swan.
Fabyan, the historian, we find the expression, accordant
with reason.' 38. condicioun, a word of four syllables. 40. which = what, as in many other passages, such as, 'whiche
a miracle!' 41. in
inne. The redundancy of the preposition in, is not uncommon even in more modern writers. Inne, however, is probably an adverb of place, with the meaning within. The A.S. inne or innan within, was compounded of the words in and inn, so that its use in that sense would be peculiarly applicable in this passage.
LINES 43-78. In these lines, there are ten examples of final e being elided before
h, although some of them are the e in hadde, which is also
elided. 43. and that. Read the sentence without these words, then
note their force. Cf. that in lines 44 and 68. 45. lovede has two nominatives, that and he. In modern English
the he would be omitted. That is a relative, but the personal pronoun was frequently used along with it, to distinguish case, as here, where that he is equivalent to who. 'A Knight there was who loved chivalry.' In like manner, that his = whose, and that him whom. With this
Trouthe and honour, fredom and curtesie.
Vich he was a British sailor.'—Thackeray. 47. lordes, the genitive of lord. In modern English the e is
represented by an apostrophe. 48. No man ferre. Note a similar construction in line 55.
Ferre is the comparative of far, A.S. feor. In Piers
ferrer,' 411. The superlative ferrest occurs in line 496. 53. naciouns, a plural formed by adding s. See also lines 26,
284, 349, &c. 56. Eek is not in the Harl. MS. 57. Palmyrye has been inserted instead of Belmarie, Aldis
Wright having shown by a collation of line 15,783 in several MSS., that Belmary was often erroneously trans
scribed for Palmerye. 60. arive. Some MSS. have armeye, others arme.