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METRICAL ANALYSIS OF THE SQUIRE'S TALE,
Perhaps the following analysis of the first Part of the Squire's Tale will best shew which of the rules are of most frequent use. The order of them follows that in Dr. Morris's Introduction, 3rd ed. pp. xliii-xlviii.
1. Lines of eleven syllables. These abound, owing to the free use of final -e at the end of a line, as above explained; e. g. F 5, 6, 9, 10, 19, 20, &c. But the beginner will most easily recognise such cases as ll. 149, 150, ending with heuene, steuene, and II.
257, 258 (rvonder, thonder). Also with final -ës, 67, 68, 117, 118, 205, 206, 233, 234, 283, 284, 285, 286; and with final -ëd, 181, 182, 201,
2. Lines with only one syllable in the first foot.
One only, 346;
but cf. 390, 549.
3. I insert here a note of rimes formed by repeating a syllable; diademë, demë, 43; affeccions, proteccions, 55; deuyse, seruyse, 65, 279 ; sewes, heronsewes, 67 ; recours, cours, 75; deliciously, sodeynly, 79; style, style (words thus repeated must be used in different senses), 105; constellacron, operacïon, 129; see, Canacee, 143; here, adv., here, verb, 145; been, verb, been, sb. pl. 203 ; comunly, subtilly, 221; fern, sb., fern, adv. 255; parementz, instrumentz, 269. And perhaps, 49, 50 ; 229, 230.
4. Two words run into one. Tharray (the array), 63; the air thair, 122; the effect theffect, 322.
Also nas = ne was, 14; nis
= ne is, 72, 255; nin = ne in, 35; noot = ne woot or ne wot, 342. In l. 30 whichë is plural; read it thus
Of whichë th’eldest' hightë—Algarsyf'the e in highte being preserved by cæsura.
5. Trisyllabic measures. The most striking instance is in as I can, 4 In other instances the syllable rapidly pronounced or slurred over may be indicated by italics. We find then answerd' and seyd' 228 (where there is a cæsura after answerde): after the thriddë cours, 76. And the following cases, where certain final syllables are very lightly pronounced, viz. final -y, e.g. many, 11; any, 134: final -es, e. g. sones (cæsura), 29; foules (cæsura), 53 : final -er, e. g. euer, 108; gossomer, 259: final -ie, e. g. Arabie, 110; contrarie, 325: final -en, e. g. wondreden (cæsura), 307 : final -ed, e. g. vanísshed (cæsura), 342 : final -e, e. g. vndertake, 36, seme, 102, bere, 124, coude, 128, ydrawe n’yborë, 326; ye gete na more, 343. Also, the following cases occur where the middle e is slurred over, viz. euery part, 40; colerik hotë, 51; someres day, 64 ; someres tydë, 142 ; euery place, 119; Iogelours, 219; lewednes, 223; and, in one case, the vowel i is similarly treated, viz. vanishe anon, 328. In illustration of the last-mentioned word, it may be remarked that it is sometimes spelt without the i; e. g. vanshede, Piers Plowman, C. xv. 217.
6. French words accented in a different manner to that now in use. (N. B. the apostrophe in the following words denotes elision; the printing of a final -e in italics means that it is slurred over, or else suppressed by poetic license). We find corág’, 22, désiroús, 23, persón', 25, citée, 46, Idús, 47, paléys, 60, miróur, 82, obeisánce, 93, message, 99, langage, 100, engýn, 184, natúre, 197, ápparénc', 218, magýk, 218, vanísshed, 342, &c., &c. For the variableness of accent, cf. sólempn', 61, solémpne, 111; mírour, 132, miróur, 175; roíal, 59, roiál, 264; léon, 265, leóun, 491, &c. And for variableness of accent in English words, note conning, 35, hanging, 84, as compared with wrýthing, 127. Some words in -le and -re may have been pronounced much as in modern French; perhaps sillable, 101, table, 179, fable, 180, angle, 263, ordre, 66, may have sounded nearly as sillabl’, tabl’, fabl’, angi', ordr'. Yet we find eglë, 123, angles, 230; both followed by a
7. Genitives in -ës. Martes, 50, someres, 64, Grekes, 209, Canaceës, 247
8. Plurals in -ës. Armes, 23, sones, 29, foules, 53, sewes, 67, heronsewes, 68, swannes, 68, minstralles, 78, thinges, 78, lordes, 91, wordes, 103, houres, 117, shoures, 118, woundes, 155, heedes, 203, wittes, 203, skiles, 205, fantasyës, 205, poetryës, 206, winges, 208, gestes, 211, armes, 213, festes, 219, doutes, 220, thinges, 222, 227, &c.
Note on the other hand, the French plurals présentes = présents, 174, Tógelours, 219, reflexions, 230, &c.; also parementz, 269, instrumentz, 270.
9. Adverbs in -ës. Certes, 2, 196, elles, 118, elles, 209, algates, 246, thennes, 326.
10. Past participles in -ëd. Excused, 7, cleped; 12, 31, armed, 90, braunched, 159, wounded, 160, remewed, 181, yglewed, 182, proporcioned, 192, &c. Probably ordeyned, 177, is to be read ordeyn'd; otherwise, the last measure in the verse is to be regarded as trisyllabic.
11. Past tense of weak verbs in -de, -te, or -ed. Ex. (a) deyde, 11, hadde (not an auxiliary verb), 29, hadde, 32, coud', 39, shold', 40, wold', 64, sholde, 102, wende, 198, seyde, 231, &c.; (b) dwelt', 10, kept', 18, 26, highte, 30, 33, moste, 38, wroughte, 128, lyghte, 169, broughte, 210, &c.; (c) werreyed, 10, lakked, 16, seemed, 56, demed, 202, rowned, 216. Note also the plurals murmured', 204, wondred', 225, as compared with the full forms maden, 205, seyden, 207, wondreden, 307. We also find such forms as preyede, 311.
12. Infinitives in -ën. Discryuen, 40, tellen, 63, 67, tarien, 73, stroken, 165. Also the gerundial forms: to voyden, 188, to gauren, 190.
13. Past participles in -ën (strong verbs). Geten, 56. The final -n is generally dropped.
14. Present plural in -ën. Tellen, 69, wayten, 88, shapen, 214, pleyen, 219, wondren, 258; 2 p. pl. subj. slepen, 126. Past plural. Seten, 92, maden, 205, seyden, 207, wondreden, 307.
15. Preposition in -ën. Withouten (A.S. wit-utan), 101, 121, 125.
The various uses of the final -e follow here, and are numbered separately.
Nouns of A.S. origin and of disyllabic form. Wille, 1, from A. S. willa ; sted', 115, 193, stede, 124, stede, 170, from
A. S. stéda ; tale, 6, 102, 168, from A. S. talu; herte, 120, hert', 138, from A.S. heorte, gen. beortan; bote, 154, from A.S. bót, bote, botu; sonne, 170, from the A. S. sunne, gen. sunnun. All these are in the nominative or accusative case; for other cases, see below. We should probably add sone (A. S. sunu) 31; and mete (A.S. mete) 70; both before a cæsura.
2. Nouns of French origin; (a) substantives, (b) adjectives. We find (a) centre (Lat. centrum) 22; diademe (Lat. diadema) 43 ; signe (Lat. signum) 51; seruyse (seruitium) 66, nobleye, 77, obeisance (obedientiam) 93, &c., &c. The final -e is occasionally slurred over, as in diademe, 60, which is fully pronounced in 1. 43; place, 186, which is fully pronounced in 11. 119, 162 ; feste (with cæsura) 61, fully pronounced in l. 113; nature, 197; and it is often elided, as in corag’, 22, person’, 25, form', 100, vic', 101, &c. The clearest cases of the full sound are given by :-cause, 185, Troye, 210. It is by no means · easy to find instances of its suppression; the most likelylooking cases are-nature, 197, beste, 264; but they may merely be instances of the use of trisyllable measures.
We find also (b) noble, 12, 28, riche, 19, 61, benigne, 52, sólempn', 61, pryme, 73, commun', 107, lige, III, solémpne, un, platt, 162, platte, 164, &c. The most remarkable instances are in l. 111,
My lige lord, on this solémpne day;' and (in the definite form) platte, 164. The final e in Ialouse, 286, is merely a mark of the plural number, in writing, and not really pronounced.
With respect to these French words, it is remarkable that Chaucer is very fond of using them at the end of a line, for the sake of the feminine rime; see 9, 10, 19, 43, 51, 52, 61, &c. It may be as well, too, to append the following caution. Tyrwhitt, in his edition of Chaucer, was led to a partially correct estimate of Chaucer's metre by his observation of the final -e in French words, and by noting the frequent use of the same in French poetry; whence he inferred that the nal se may have been pronounced in English words also. Though his result was partly right, it has yet misled many of his readers, because he did, in fact, seize the right idea by the wrong end. The final -e in French words seems to have been of a somewhat weaker and fainter character than in English ones, the fact being that the habit of sounding the inflexional final -e was essentially English, due to the traditions of Anglo-Saxon grammar, and the imported French words (many of which possessed a final -e in their own right) had, at any rate, to conform to the use of the period as a matter of course. It is, accordingly, of no very great consequence to investigate the habits of the French poetry of the period. The Englishmen who adopted French words into their language did at first very nearly what they pleased with them; and, in the conflict between two systems of grammar, the English had at first its own way; yet the continually increasing influx of French did at last begin to tell, and the final result was a confusion in which such inflexions as -ës and -ë, at first all important, have at last sunk into disuse. We see, for instance, in Chaucer, the use of the French plural (as in instrumentz, F 270) side by side with the true English plural (as in lordes, F 91); and, in the end, the French form prevailed. But it must be carefully remembered for it is a most essential point—that French alone would never have produced any so great effect. A far more powerful influence was at work at the same time, aiding it most fully and efficiently; and this was the ever-increasing importance of the Northern and North-Midland dialects, which had simplified their grammatical forms long before Chaucer's time, and at last completely set aside the numerous inflexions of the flexible and harmonious Southern-English. Having regard to the mere outward form of English verse, it cannot be denied that Chaucer's sweetness of melody is a thing of the past, and that nothing is now left to us but an approach to the less adorned simplicity of Robert of Brunne. This note must be regarded as a mere rough sketch of a very important subject, which the student may with advantage work out for himself in his own way.