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1227. This theme is enlarged upon in Lenvoy de Chaucer à Bukton, a late minor poem.
1230. Seint Thomas. Whenever this Apostle is mentioned, he is nearly always said to be of India, to distinguish him, it may be, from Saint Thomas of Canterbury. Some account of the shrine of St. Thomas, of the manner of his death, and of miracles wrought by him, is given in Marco Polo, bk. iii. ch. 18. Colonel Yule tells us that the body of St. Thomas lay at Mailapúr, a suburb of Madras. The legend of St. Thomas's preaching in India is of very high antiquity. St. Jerome speaks of the Divine Word being everywhere present in His fulness *cum Thomâ in India, cum Petro Romæ,' &c.; Sci. Hieronomi Epist. lix., ad Marcellam. Gregory of Tours (A.D. 544-595) speaks of the place in India where the body of St. Thomas lay before it was transported to Edessa in the year 394. See the whole of Colonel Yule's long note upon the subject; and the account of Saint Thomas in Mrs. Jameson's Sacred and Legendary Art.
NOTES TO THE MERCHANT'S END-LINK. 2420. Swich a wyf, i.e. the wife described in the Marchauntes Tale, as deceiving her husband.
2422. Bees. In the Clerk. Ta. 204, Chaucer has been as the plural of bee ; see Been in the Glossary, and cf. Nonne Pr. Ta. 571.
2431. In conseil, in (secret) council, between ourselves.
2435. The phrase cause why is now considered vulgar; it is common in London. The word causë is disyllabic.
2436. Of somme, by some, by some one. So of whom=by whom, in the next line. He says he need not say by whom it would be told; women are sure to utter such things. This is a clear allusion to the ladies in the company, and to the Wife of Bath in particular, who certainly would not have kept such things to herself. Outen, to utter, occurs again in the Chanouns Yemannes Tale, Group G, 1. 834. It is a rare word,
NOTES TO THE SQUIERES TALE. Group F, 1. There is nothing to link this tale inseparably with the preceding one, and, accordingly, in the Six-text edition, the sixth fragment is made to begin here. In the Ellesmere MS., and several others, the Squire Head-link follows the Merchant End-link without any
break. In many MSS. it follows the Man of Law's Tale; but that is the wrong place for it. See note to Group B, l. 1165, p. 141.
2. An allusion to Prol. 1. 97, unless (which is quite as probable) the passage in the Prologue was written afterwards.
9. Sarray, Sarai. This place has been identified, past all doubt, by Colonel Yule in his edition of Marco Polo's Travels, vol. i. p. 5, and vol. ii. p. 424. The modern name is Tzarev, near Sarepta. Sarepta is easily found on any good map of Russia by following the course of the Volga from its mouth upwards. At first this backward course runs N.W. till we have crossed the province of Astrakhan, when it makes a sudden bend, at Sarepta and Tsaritzin. Tsarev is now a place of no importance, but the ancient Sarai was so well-known, that the Caspian Sea was sometimes named from it; thus it is called the sea of Sarain' in Marco Polo, ed. Yule, ii. 424: the sea of Sarra' in the Catalan map of 1375; and Mare Seruanicum, or the Sea of Shirwan, by Vincent of Beauvais. Thynne, in his Animadversions on Speight's Chaucer, speaks to the same effect, and says of 'Sara' that it is ó a place yet well knowen, and bordering vppon the lake Mare Caspium.' But it is still more to the point to observe that Sarai was the place Batu Khan, the grandson of Gengis Khan, held his court. Batu, with his Mongolian followers known as the Golden Horde, had established an empire in Kaptchak, or Kibzak, now S. E. Russia, about A.D. 1224. The Golden Horde further invaded Russia, and made Alexander Newski grand-duke of it, A.D. 1252. (See Golden Horde in Haydn's Dictionary of Dates.)
It is also quite clear that Chaucer has here confused two accounts. There were two celebrated Khans, both grandsons of Gengis Khan, who were ruling about the same time. Batu Khan held his court at Sarai, and ruled over the S.E. of Russia ; but the Great Khan, named Kublai, held his court at Cambaluc, the modern Pekin, in a still more magnificent manner. And it is easy to see that, although Chaucer names Sarai, his description really applies to Cambaluc. See the Preface.
10. Russye, Russia ; invaded by the Golden Horde, as just explained. The end of the Tartar influence in Russia was in the year 1481, when Svenigorod, general of Ivan III, defeated them at the battle of Bielawisch. In the following year Ivan assumed the title of czar.
12. Cambynskan; so in all seven MSS. (Six-text and Harleian) except that in the Ellesmere MS. it more resembles Cambyuskan. Yet Tyrwhitt prints Cambuscan, probably in deference to Milton, who, however, certainly accents the word wrongly, viz. on the second syllable; Il Penseroso, l. 110. Thynne, in his Animadversions on Speight's Chaucer, speaking of the year 1240, says—whiche must be in the tyme of the fyrst Tartariane emperor called Caius canne, beinge, I suppose, he
whome Chaucer namethe Cambiuscan, for so ys (it in] the written copies, such affynytye is there betwene those two names.' Now, although the celebrated Gengis Khan died probably in 1227, the allusion to the ‘fyrst Tartariane emperor' is clear; so that Thynne makes the forms Cambius, Caius (perhaps miswritten for Cāius, i. e. Camius) and Gengis all equivalent. But this is the very result for which Colonel Yule has found authority, as explained in the Preface, to which the reader is referred. It is there explained that Chaucer has again confused two accounts; for, whilst he names Gengis Khan (the first · Grand Khan '), his description really applies to Kublai Khan, his grandson, the celebrated · Grand Khan’ described by Marco Polo.
18. Lay, religious profession or belief. See the Preface, p. xliii.
20. This line scans ill as it stands in the MSS. unless we insert eek, as proposed in the text. MS. Hl. inserts and before alwey, which Tyrwhitt adopts; but this makes the line intolerable, as it gives two accented ands'
And pi / tous ánd / just and / alwey / ylíche. The Hengwrt MS. has
Pietous and Iust, and euere-moore yliche, which, better spelt, becomes
Pitous and Iust, and euer-more ylicheand this I take to be, on the whole, the best solution of the difficulty.
22. Centre; often used in the sense of a fulcrum or point of extreme stability. Cf. Milton, Par. Reg. iv. 533–
• Proof against all temptation, as a rock
Of adamant, and, as a centre, firm.' 30. Tyrwhitt inserts sone after eldeste; fortunately, it is not in the MSS. Whichë is a disyllable, the e denoting the plural form. The words th' eldest form but two syllables, the e's being elided; but we may fairly preserve the in highte (cf. l. 33) from elision, for the greater emphasis, by a short pause, and we then have a perfect line-Of which/e th' el/desť high/te--Al/garsif/.
have no doubt that this name was suggested by the Cambaluc of Marco Polo. See the Preface, p. xlii.
39. Longing for, belonging to. Cf. longen, Kn. Ta. 1420.
44. I deme, I suppose. This looks as if Chaucer had read some account of a festival made by the Grand Khan on one of his birthdays, from which he inferred that he always held such a feast every year; as, indeed, was the case. See the Preface, p. xliv.
45. He leet don cryen, he caused (men) to have the feast cried. The use of both leet and don is remarkable; cf. E. 523. He gave his orders to his officers, and they took care that the proclamation was made.
47. It is not clear why Chaucer hit upon this day in particular.
Kublai's birthday was in September, but perhaps Chaucer noted that the White Feast was on New Year's day, which he took to mean the vernal equinox, or some day near it. The day, however, is well defined. The
last Idus ' is the very day of the Ides, i. e. March 15. The sun entered Aries, according to Chaucer (Treatise on the Astrolabe, ii. 1. 4) on the 12th of March, at the vernal equinox; and, as a degree answers to a day very nearly, would be in the first degree of Aries on the 12th, in the second on the 13th, in the third on the 14th, in the fourth on the 15th, and in the fifth (or at the end of the fourth) on the 16th, as Chaucer most expressly says below; see note to l. 386. The sign Aries was said, in astrology, to be the exaltation of the Sun, or that sign in which the Sun had most influence for good or ill. In particular, the 19th degree of Aries, for some mysterious reason, was selected as the Sun's exaltation, when most exactly reckoned. Chaucer says, then, that the Sun was in the sign of Aries, in the fourth degree of that sign, and therefore nigh (and approaching to) the 19th degree, or his special degree of exaltation. Besides this, the poet says the sun was in the face' of Mars, and in the mansion of Mars; for his mansion ’ in l. 50 means Mars's mansion. This is exactly in accordance with the astrology of the period. Each sign, such as Aries, was said to contain 30 degrees, or 3 faces; a face being 10 degrees. The first face of Aries (degrees 110) was called the face of Mars, the second (11-20) the face of the Sun, the third (21-30) that of Venus. Hence the sun, being in the fourth degree, was in Mars's face. Again, every planet had its (so-called) mansion or house; whence Aries was called the mansion of Mars, Taurus that of Venus, Gemini that of Mercury, &c. See Chaucer's Astrolabe, ed. Skeat, pref. pp. lvi, lxvi; or Johannis Hispalensis Isagoge in Astrologiam, which gives all the technical terms.
50. Marles is a genitive formed from the nom. Marte (Kn. Ta. 1163), which is itself formed, as usual, from the Latin acc. Martem.
51. In the old astrology, different qualities are ascribed to the different signs. Thus Aries is described as choleric and fiery in MS. Trin. Coll. Cam. R. 15. 18, tract 3, p. 11. So too, Tyrwhitt quotes from the Calendrier des Bergers that Aries is ‘chault et sec,' i.e. hot and dry.
53. Agayn, against, opposite to; in return for the sunshine, as it were. So also in Kn. Ta. 651.
54. What for; cf. Mod. Eng. what with. See Kn. Tale, 595.
59. Deys, raised platform, as at English feasts. But this is in Marco Polo too; see the Preface. Cf. Kn. Tale, 1. 1342; and note to Prol.
63. In a similar indirect manner, Chaucer describes feasts, &c., elsewhere: see Kn. Ta. 1339-1348; Man of Lawes Tale (Clar. Press), 701-707. And Spenser imitates him ; F. Q. i. 12. 14; v. 3. 3.
68. Mr. Wright's note on the line is— It is hardly necessary to observe that swans were formerly eaten at table, and considered among the choicest ornaments of the festive board. Tyrwhitt informs us that at the intronization of Archbp. Nevil, 6 Edward iv, there were “Heronshawes iiijc.” [i.e: 400] ; Leland's Collectanea, vi. 2; and that at another feast in 1530 we read of “ 16 Heransews, every one 12d”; Peck's Desiderata. Curiosa, ii. 12. Heronshaw is said to be derived from the French heronceau, a young heron, a form not given in Burguy or Roquefort, and Cotgrave only has • Haironneau, a young heron,' and · Hairon, a heron, herne, herneshaw.' Halliwell quotes · Ardeola, an hearnesew' from Elyot's Dict. 1559, and the form herunsew from Reliquæ Antiquæ, i. 88. On the whole, heronsewe is clearly the name of a bird, not of a dish, as some have supposed. In fact, the word heronsew (for heron) is still used in Swaledale, Yorkshire. And in Hazlitt's old Plays (The Disobedient Child), vol. ii. p. 282, we have
• There must be also pheasant and swan;
There must be heronsew, partridge, and quail.' See the quotations in Nares ; also Notes and Queries, Ist Ser, iii. 450, 507; iv. 76 ; vii. 13. Cf handsaw, for hernshaw, in Hamlet, ii, 2.
70. Som mete; viz. horses, dogs, and Pharaoh's rats.' See the Preface, p. xlv.
73. Pryme; the word prime seems to mean, in Chaucer, the first quarter of the day, reckoned from 6 a,m, to 6 p.m.; and more particularly, the end of that period, i.e. 9 a.m. In the Nonne Prestes Tale, 1. 376, the cock crew at prime, or 9 a.m. So here, the Squire says it is 9 o'clock, and he must proceed quickly with his story. The word is used in different senses by different writers.
75. Firste, first design or purpose. I believe this reading is right. MS. Harl. has purpos, which will not scan : unless my be omitted, as in Tyrwhitt, though that MS. retains my. MSS. Cp. Ln. insert purpos as well as firste, making the line too long: whilst Hn. Cm. Pt. agree with the text here given, from MS. E.
76. The second syllable in after is rapidly pronounced, and thridde is a disyllable.
78. Thinges, pieces of music. Minstrelsy at feasts was common; cf. Man of Lawes Tale, 705; March. Tale (C. T. 9592).
80. The incident of a man riding into the hall is nothing uncommon. Thus we have, in the Percy Folio MS. ii. 486, the line
The one came ryding into the hall.' Warton observes—See a fine romantic story of a Comte de Macon who, while revelling in his hall with many knights, is suddenly alarmed by the entrance of a gigantic figure of a black man, mounted on a black steed. This terrible stranger, without receiving any obstruction from