Imatges de pàgina

more probable by the fact that sections 41a–42 b merely repeat 41–43 in a more clumsy form, and by the consideration that, if genuine, they should have occupied their proper place immediately after sect. 43, instead of being separated from the former set. As to sect. 46, I pronounce no decided opinion; there is but little to be said either for or against it, and it is of little consequence. § 2 I. GAP BETWEEN $$ 4o AND 41. But admitting the genuineness of sections 40–45, it at once becomes evident that there are two distinct gaps or breaks in the continuity of the treatise; the first between 4o and 41; and the second between 43 and 44. A little consideration will account for these. Looking at the Canterbury Tales, we observe the very same peculiarity; at certain points there are distinct breaks, and no mending can link the various groups together in a satisfactory manner. This can be accounted for in part by our knowledge of the fact that the poet died before he had completed the proper linking-together of the tales which he had more or less finished ; but I think it also shews him to have been a fragmentary worker. To suppose that, upon reaching Conclusion 40, he suddenly turned to the sections upon the “umbrae, which are at once more easy to explain, more suitable for a child, and illustrative of a different and more practical use of the Astrolabe, seems to me natural enough ; and more probable than to suppose that anything is here lost. For, in fact, it is to the very MSS. that contain sections 41–43 that we are indebted for the last five words of sect. 40, so curiously omitted in the oldest and best MSS. ; and this is a direct argument against the supposition of any matter having been here lost. § 22. GAP BETweeN $$ 43 AND 44. The break between sections 43 and 44 may be explained in a totally different manner. In this case, the break indicates a real, not an accidental, gap. I suppose section 43 to have been really the last section of Part il, and I refer sections 44 and 45 to the Fourth Part of the Treatise, and not to the Second at all'. For if we run through the contents of Parts Three and Four (p. 177), we observe that they chiefly involve tables, with reference to one of which we find the words ‘upon which table ther folwith a canon,’ &c. Now sections 44 and

* Not wishing to enforce this view upon every reader, and in order to save trouble in reference, I have numbered these sections 44 and 45. But if they belong, as I suppose, to Part iv., they should have been named “Part iv.

Canon 1,' and ‘Part iv. Canon 2' respectively. - - - e

45 exactly answer the description; they are alternative canons, shewing how certain tables may be used. It happens that Conclusion 4o is particularly dependent upon tables. To supply these was partly the object of Part iv– the whiche ferthe partie in special shal shewen a table of the verray moeving of the mone from houre to houre, every day and in every signe, after thyn almenak; upon which table ther solvith a canon, suffisant to teche as wel the maner of the wyrking of that same conclusioun, as to knowe in oure orizonte with which degree of the zodiac that the mone ariseth in any latitude; and the arising of any planete after his latitude fro the ecliptik lyne.' The opening words of the same Conclusion are—‘Knowe by thyn almenak the degree of the ecliptik of any signe in which that the planete is rekned for to be :’ (p. 221). This is easily said; but I suppose that it was not so easy in olden times to know off-hand the exact position of a planet. It must have been shewn by tables, and these tables chiefly considered the ‘mene mote,' or average motion of the planets, and that only for periods of years. If you wanted the position of a planet at a given hour on a given day, you had to work it out by figures; the rule for which working was called a “canon.’ This very “canon' is precisely given at length in sect. 44; and sect. 45 is only another way of doing the same thing, or, in other words, is an alternative canon. When all this is fairly and sufficiently considered, we shall find good grounds for supposing that these sections on the ‘mene mote ’ are perfectly genuine, and that they really belong to Part iv. of the Treatise. I will only add, that the fact of sections 41 a-42% being thus placed after a portion of Part iv. is one more indication that they are spurious. § 23. ConCLUSION 4o. But it may be objected, as Mr. Brae has fairly objected, that Conclusion 4o itself ought to belong to Part iv. So it ought perhaps, if Chaucer had followed out his own plan. But it is clear from its contents that the Prologue to the “Astrolabie' was written before the commencement of the treatise itself, and not, as prefaces generally are, afterwards. He was pleased with his son's progress. Little Lewis had asked him if he might learn something about an astrolabe. The father at once sent him a small astrolabe" by way of reward, constructed

* “A smal instrument portatif aboute'; Prol. l. 52 (p. 177).

for the latitude of Oxford, and having 45 circles of latitude on the flat disc (see Fig. 5) instead of having 90 such circles, as the best instruments had'. This, however, was a “sufficient’ astrolabe for the purpose. But he believes the Latin treatises to be too hard for his son's use, and the Conclusions in them to be too numerous. He therefore proposes to select some of the more important Conclusions, and to turn them into English with such modifications as would render them easier for a child to understand. He then lays down a table of contents of his proposed five parts, throughout which he employs the future tense, as ‘the firste partie shal reherse,'—‘the second partie shal teche,’ &c. This use of the future would not alone prove much, but taken in connexion with the context, it becomes very suggestive. However, the most significant phrase is in the last line of the Prologue, which speaks of ‘other noteful thinges, yif god wol vouche-sauf & his modur the mayde, mo than I behete, i.e. other useful things, more than I now promise, if God and the Virgin vouchsafe it. In accordance with his habits of seldom finishing and of deviating from his own plans at pleasure, we have but an imperfect result, not altogether answerable to the table of contents. I therefore agree with Mr. Brae that the 40th Conclusion would have done better for Part iv., though I do not agree with him in rejecting it as spurious. This he was led to do by the badness of the text of the MSS. which he consulted, but we can hardly reject this Conclusion without rejecting the whole Treatise, as it is found in all the oldest copies. By way of illustration, I would point out that this is not the only difficulty, for the Conclusions about astrology ought certainly to have been reserved for Part v. These are Conclusions 36 and 37, which concern the ‘equaciouns of houses’; and this is probably why, in three of the MSS. (viz. L., N., and R.), these two conclusions are made to come at the end of the Treatise. There is nothing for it but to accept what we have, and be thankful.

§ 24. ExtANT Portion of THE TREATISE. If, then, the questions be asked, how much of the Treatise has come down to us, and what was to have been the contents of the missing portion, the account stands thus.

• ‘The almikanteras in thyn Astrolabie been compouned by two and two." Part ii. sect. 5, 1.1.

Of Part i. we have the whole. Of Part ii. we have nearly all, and probably all that ever was written, including Conclusions I-40 on astronomical matters, and Conclusions 41–43 on the taking of altitudes of terrestrial objects. Possibly Conclusion 46 is to be added to these ; but Conclusions 41 a-42b are certainly spurious. Part iii. probably consisted entirely of tables, and some at least of these may very well have been transmitted to little Lewis. Indeed, they may have been prepared by or copied from Nicholas of Lynn and John Somer, before Chaucer took the rest in hand. The tables were to have been (and perhaps were) as follows:— 1. Tables of latitude and longitudes of the stars which were represented on the ‘Rete' of the Astrolabe. Specimens of such tables are found in MSS. 2. Tables of declinations of the sun, according to the day of the year. 3. Tables of longitudes of cities and towns. 4. Tables for setting clocks and finding the meridian altitudes (of the sun, probably). Such tables as these are by no means lost. There are MSS. which contain little else, as e. g. MS. Hh. 6. 8 in the Cambridge University Library. The longitudes of towns are given in MS. Camb. Ii. 3. 3, at fol. 21.4b. Again, in MS. F. 25, in St. John's College Library, Cambridge, we find tables of fixed stars, tables of latitudes and longitudes of towns, tables of altitudes of the sun at different hours, and many others. Part iv. was to explain the motions of the heavenly bodies, with their causes. This was probably never written, though there is an allusion to it in Part ii. § 1 I, l. 12. It was also to contain a table to shew the position of the moon, according to an almanac; and such a table is given in the St. John's MS. above mentioned, and in MS. Camb. Ii. 3. 3, at fol. 143. This was to have been followed by a canon, and an explanation of the working of the Conclusion—“to knowe with which degree of the zodiac that the mone ariseth,' and ‘the arising of any planete,’ &c. The canon is partly accounted for, as regards the planets at least, by sections 44 and 45, and the ‘Conclusion’ by section 4o. Part v. was to contain the general rules of astrology, with tables of equations of houses, dignities of planets, and other useful things which God and the Virgin might vouchsafe that the author should accomplish. Sections 36 and 37 tell us something about the equations of houses; but, in all probability, none (or, at least, no more) of this fifth Part was ever written. Tables of equations of houses, for the latitude of Toledo, are given in MS. Camb. Ii. 3. 3, at fol. 177, and elsewhere. Of the general rules of astrology we find in old MSS. somewhat too much, but they are generally in Latin; however, the Trinity MS. R. 15. 18 has some of them in English. On the whole, we have quite as much of Chaucer's Treatise as we need care for ; and he may easily have changed his mind about the necessity of writing Part v ; for we actually find him declaring (and it is pleasant to hear him) that “natheles, thise ben observauncez of iudicial matiere & rytes of payens, in which my spirit me hath no feith'; ii. 4.36; (p. 192). § 25. SouRCES OF THE TREATISE. I next have to point out the sources whence Chaucer's treatise was derived. Mr. Halliwell, in a note at the end of his edition of Mandeville's Travels, speaks of the original treatise on the Astrolabe, written in Sanskrit, on which he supposes Chaucer's treatise to have been founded. Whether the Latin version used by Chaucer was ultimately derived from a Sanskrit copy or not, need not be considered here. The use of the Astrolabe was no doubt well known at an early period in India and among the Persians and Arabs; see the “Description of a Planispheric Astrolabe constructed for Shāh Sultán Husain Safaws, King of Persia, by W. H. Morley, in which elaborate and beautifully illustrated volume the reader may find sufficient information. Marco Polo says (bk. ii. c. 33) that there were 5ooo astrologers and soothsayers in the city of Cambaluc, adding—“they have a kind of Astrolabe, on which are inscribed the planetary signs, the hours, and critical points of the whole year'; Marco Polo, ed. Yule, i. 399. Compare also the mention of the instrument in the 161st night of the Arabian Nights' Entertainments, where a translation which I have now before me has the words—‘instead of putting water into the basin, he [the barber] took a very handsome astrolabe out of his case, and went very gravely out of my room to the middle of the yard, to take the height of the sun '; on which passage Mr. Lane has a note (chap. v. note 57) which Mr. Brae quotes at length in his edition. There is also at least one version of a treatise in Greek, entitled nepi riis rot dorpoxá8ov xpigeos, by Johannes Philoponus, of which

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