Imatges de pÓgina

rupted in his Rime of Sir Thopas, and telling the tale of Melibeus in its stead; and we have no story from the Yeoman, the Haberdasher, the Carpenter, the Weaver, the Dyer, the Tapiser, or the Ploughman. The series being thus incomplete, it only remains to investigate to what degree of completeness the author succeeded in attaining.

It is easy to see that Chaucer may have had a good deal of material in hand before the idea of writing a connected series of tales occurred to him. The Prologue, answering somewhat to a preface, is one of his very latest works, and in his best manner; and before writing it, he had in some measure arranged a part of his materials. His design was to make a collection of tales which he had previously written, to write more new tales to go with these, and to unite them all into a series by means of connecting links ?, which should account for the change from one narrator to the next in order. In doing this, he did not work continuously, but wrote-in the connecting links as they occurred to him, being probably well aware that this was the best way of avoiding an appearance of artificiality. The result is that some links are perfectly supplied, and others not written at all, thus affording a series of fragments or Groups, complete in themselves, but having gaps between them. A full account of these Groups, showing which tales are inseparably linked together, and which are not joined at all, is given in Mr. Furnivall's Temporary Preface to the Six-text Edition of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, published for the Chaucer Society in 1868. The resulting Groups are nine. Between these are distinct gaps, and it is by no means clear that the order of the Groups relatively to each other was finally determined upon. This relative order is, however, settled to some extent by occasional references to places passed on the

1 Warton wrongly adds, or the Host. But the Host was the umpire, not a tale-teller himself.

2 The term • link,' and such terms as 'head-link,' • end-link,' and the like, are to be found in the Six-text edition published by the Chaucer Society, whence I have copied them. See further, on this subject, in my Introduction to The Man of Lawes Tale.

road, and to the time of day. We are also perfectly certain that. the Knight was to tell the first tale, and the Parson the last of the only existing series, thus leaving us only seven Groups to arrange. Another question at once arises, however, which must be settled before we can proceed, viz. whether the pilgrimage was intended to be performed all in one day, or in two, or three, or more. Any one who knows what travelling was in the olden time must be well aware that the notion of performing the whole distance in one day is out of the question, especially as the pilgrims were out more for a holiday than for business, that some of them were but poorly mounted (Prol. 287, 541), and some of them but poor riders (Prol. 390, 469, 622). In fact, such an idea is purely modern, adopted from thoughtlessness almost as a matter of course by every modern reader, but certainly not founded upon truth. Fortunately, too, the matter is put beyond argument by some incidental remarks. In the first Group, or Group A, occurs the line

• Lo Depeford, and it is half-wey pryme'i. e. it is now half-past seven o'clock (1. 3906). After which the Reve is made to tell a story, and the Cook also, bringing the time of day to about nine o'clook at the least. But in Group F, 1. 73, the Squire remarks that it is pryme, it is nine o'clock, which can only mean that hour of another day, not of the same

Still clearer is the allusion, in the Canon's Yeoman's Prologue, to the pilgrims having passed the night in a hostelry, as I understand the passage. This once perceived, it is not of much consequence whether we allow the pilgrims two days, or three, or four; but the most convenient arrangement is that proposed by Mr. Furnivall, viz. to suppose four days to have been occupied; the more so, as this supposition disposes of another extremely awkward allusion to time, viz. the mention of ten o'clock


We may

1 In 1749, the coach from Edinburgh to Glasgow, forty-four miles, took two days for the journey. Twenty miles a day was fast. allow the pilgrims about fifteen miles a day. See Chambers' Book of Days, ii. 228.

in the morning in Group B, 1. 14, which must refer to yet a third morning, in order not to clash with the two notes of time already alluded to; whilst the passage in the Canon's Yeoman's Prologue absolutely requires a fourth morning, because of the pilgrims having passed the night at a hostelry. The references to places on the road can cause no trouble ; on the contrary, these allusions afford much help, for we cannot rest satisfied with the arrangement in Tyrwhitt's edition, which makes the pilgrims come to Sittingbourne before arriving at Rochester.

But the data are not yet all disposed of: for we can fix the very days of the month on which the pilgrims travelled. This is discussed in the note to B 52 in the present volume, where the day recognised by the Host is shown to have been the 18th of April, and not the 28th, as in some editions; which agrees with the expression in the Prologue, l. 83.

Putting all the results together, we get the following convenient scheme of the Groups of tales. It is copied from Mr. Furnivall's Preface, with the mere addition of the dates.

April 16. The guests arrive at the Tabard, late in the evening (Prol. 20, 23).

April 17. GROUP A. General Prologue; Knight's Tale ; Miller's Prologue and Tale; Reve's Prologue and Tale; Cook's Prologue and Tale (the last unfinished). Gap.

Notes of time and place. In the Miller's Prologue, he tells the company to lay the blame on the ale of Southwark if his tale is not to their liking; he had hardly yet recovered from its effects. In the Reve's Prologue are the lines

• Lo Depeford, and it is half-wey pryme;
Lo Grenewich, ther many a shrew is inne.'

A 3906, 3907.

1 By •B 5’ I mean Group B, 1. 5, as numbered in the Chaucer Society's Six-text edition; the arrangement of which I have adopted throughout.

See note to 1. 8 in Dr. Morris's edition of the Prologue, third edition, 1872. The note as it stood in the first edition was wrong. The fault was mine, and the correction also.

That is, they are in sight of Deptford and Greenwich at about half-past 7 o'clock in the morning.

This Group is incomplete; I shall give my reasons presently for supposing that the Yeoman's Tale was to have formed a part of it. Probably the pilgrims reached Dartford that night, and halted there, at a distance of fifteen miles from London.

April 18. GROUP B. Man-of-Law Head-link, his Prologue, and Tale (1-1162); Shipman's Prologue and Tale (1163–1624); Shipman End-link (1625-1642); Prioress's Tale (1643-1880); Prioress End-link (1881-1901); Sir Thopas (1902–2156); Tale of Melibeus (2157–3078); Monk's Prologue and Tale 3079–3956); Nuns’ Priest's Prologue and Tale (3957–4636); End-link (4637-4652). Gap.

Notes of time and place. In the Man-of-Law Head-link, we learn that it was 10 o'clock (l. 14), and that it was the 18th of April (1. 5). In the Monk's Prologue, l. 3116, we find that the pilgrims were soon coming to Rochester. This Group is probably incomplete, rather at the beginning than at the end. Something is wanted to bring the time to 10 o'clock, whilst the travellers would hardly have cared to pass Rochester that night. Suppose them to have halted there, at thirty miles from London.

April 19. Group C. Doctor's Tale (1-286); Words of the Host to the Doctor and the Pardoner (287–328); Pardoner's Preamble, Prologue, and Tale (329-968). Gap.

GROUP D. Wife of Bath's Preamble (1-856); Wife's Tale (857-1264); Friar's Prologue and Tale (1265-1664); Sompnour's Prologue and Tale (1665-2294). Gap.

GROUP E. Clerk's Prologue and Tale (1-1212); Merchant's Prologue and Tale (1213-2418); Merchant End-link (24192440). Gap; but the break is less marked than usual.

Notes of places, &c. At the end of the Wife of Bath's Preamble is narrated a verbal quarrel between the Sompnour and the Friar, in which the former promises to tell some strange tales about friars before the company shall arrive at Sittingbourne. Again, at the end of his Tale, he says

My tale is doon, we ben almost at toune.' D 2294.

After which, the company probably halted awhile at Sittingbourne, forty miles from London, but spent the night at Ospringe.

It must also be noted that there are at least two allusions to the Wife of Bath's Preamble in the course of Group E; namely, in the Clerk's Tale, l. 1170, and in the Merchant's Tale, E 1685; and probably a third allusion in the Merchant End-link, E 2438. These prove that Group D should precede Group E, and render it probable that it should precede it immediately.

April 20. Group F. Squire's Tale (1-672); Squire-Franklin Link (673–708); Franklin's Tale (709–1624). Gap.

GROUP G. Second Nun's Tale (1-553); Canon's Yeoman's Tale (554-1481). Gap.

GROUP H. Manciple's Prologue and Tale (1-362). Gap.
GROUP I. Parson's Prologue and Tale.

Notes of time and place. In the Squire's Tale, F 73, the narrator remarks that he will not delay the hearers, 'for it is prime,' i. e. 9 a.m.

In the Canon's Yeoman's Prologue is a most explicit statement, which is certainly most easily understood as having reference to a halt for the night on the road, at a place (probably Ospringe) five miles short of Boughton-under-Blee. The Canon's Yeoman says plainly that he had seen the pilgrims ride out of their hostelry in the morrow-tide. In the Manciple's Prologue there is mention of a little town called Bob-up-anddown, under the Blee, in Canterbury way’; and the Cook is taken to task for sleeping on the road at so early an hour in the morning, which cannot, in any case, be the morning of the day on which they started. In the Parson's Prologue there is mention of the hour of 4 p.m., and the Parson undertakes to tell the last tale before the end of the journey.

The above account is useful as shewing the exact extent to which Chaucer had carried out his intention; and at the same time shews what is, on the whole, the best arrangement of the Tales. This arrangement is not much affected by the question of the number of days occupied by the pilgrims on the journey. It possesses, moreover, the great advantage of stamping upon the

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