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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 51 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. 82.
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;
A 3906, 3907.
By •B 5' I mean Group B, l. 5, as numbered in the Chaucer Society's Six-text edition; the arrangement of which I have adopted throughout.
2 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, 1. 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 place, 8c. 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, we may suppose the company to have halted awhile at Sittingbourne, forty miles from London.
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, 1. 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.
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 whole work its incomplete and fragmentary character. The arrangement of the Tales in the various MSS. varies considerably, and hence Tyrwhitt found it necessary in his edition to consider the question of order, and to do his best to make a satisfactory arrangement. The order which he finally adopted is easily expressed by using the names already given to the Groups, only Group B must be subdivided into two parts (a) and (b), the first of these containing the Man of Law's Prologue and Tale only, and the second all the rest of the Tales, &c. in the Group. This premised, his result is as follows: viz. Groups A, B (a), D, E, F, C, B (6), G, H, I. The only two variations between the two lists are easily explained. In the first place, Group C is entirely independent of all the rest, and contains no note of time or place, so that it may be placed anywhere between A and G; in this case therefore the variation is of no importance. In the other case, however, Tyrwhitt omitted to see that the parts of Group B are really bound together by the expressions which occur in them. For, whereas the Man of Law declares in l. 46, Group B
•I can ryght now no thrifty taie seyn,' the Host, at the beginning of the Shipman's Prologue, l. 1165, is pleased to give his verdict thus
• This was a thrifty tale for the nones,' and proceeds to ask the Parson for a tale, declaring that 'ye learned men in lore,' i.e. the Man of Law and the Parson, know much that is good: whence it is evident that B (6) must be advanced so as to follow B (a) immediately; and the more so, as there is authority for this in MS. Arch. Seld. B 14 in the Bodleian Library; while the Harleian MS. hints at a similar arrangement. The correctness of this emendation is proved by the fact that it is necessary for the mention of Rochester in B (6) to precede that of Sittingbourne in D.
It deserves to be mentioned further, that, of the four days supposed to be consumed on the way, some of them are inadequately provided for. This furnishes no real objection, because the unwritten tales of the Yeoman, Haberdasher, Carpenter, Weaver, Dyer, Tapiser, and Ploughman, would have helped in some degree to fill up the gaps which have been noticed above.
The whole of Group A is so admirably fitted together, and its details so well worked out, that it may fairly be looked upon as having been finally revised, as far as it goes; and I am disposed accordingly to look upon the incomplete Cook's Tale as almost the last portion of his great work which the poet ever revised. There is, in this Group A, only one flaw, one that has often been noted, viz. the mention of three Priests in the Prologue (1. 164), whereas we know that there was but one Nuns' Priest, his name being Sir John. At the same place there is a notable omission of the character of the Nun, and the two things together point to the possibility that Chaucer may have drawn her character in too strong strokes, and have then suddenly determined to withdraw it, and to substitute a new character at some future time. If we suppose him to have left the line “That was hire chapelleyn' unfinished, it is easy to see how another hand would have put in the words and prestes thre' for the mere sake of the rime, without having regard to reason. We ought to reject those three words as spurious.
That Chaucer's work did receive, in some small degree, some touching-up, is rendered yet more probable by observing how Group A ends. For here, in several of the MSS., we come upon an additional fragment which, on the face of it, is not Chaucer's at all, but a work belonging to a slightly earlier period; I mean the Tale of Gamelyn. Some have supposed, with great reason, that this tale occurs amongst the rest because it is one which Chaucer intended to recast, although, as a fact, he did not live to re-write a single line of it. This is the more likely because the tale is a capital one in itself, well worthy of having been rewritten even by so great a poet; indeed, the plot bears considerable resemblance to that of the favourite play known to us all by the title of As You Like It. But I cannot but protest against the stupidity of the botcher whose hand wrote above it