In Other Words: Transcultural Studies in Philology, Translation and Lexicology. Presented to Hans Meier on the Occasion of his 65th Birthday [Reprint 2019 ed.] 9783110861389, 9783110131529

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In Other Words: Transcultural Studies in Philology, Translation and Lexicology. Presented to Hans Meier on the Occasion of his 65th Birthday [Reprint 2019 ed.]
 9783110861389, 9783110131529

Table of contents :
Tabula Gratulatoria
The Two Languages of Burns
Have with you to Lexington! The Beowulf Manuscript and Beowulf
Some problems in Washington, Library of Congress MS Faye-Bond 4
Of English Kings and Arms
The Style and Authorship of the Kildare Poems - (I) Pers of Bermingham
Some aspects of theme and structure in Pers of Bermingham
Is Sir Tristrem an English or a Scottish poem?
Fifteenth-Century English - Middle English or Early Modern English?
'Which was the mooste fre': Chaucer's realistic humour and insight into human nature, as shown in The Franke ley ns Tale
Robert Henryson, Orpheus, and the puer senex topos
Das Genie in der Idylle. Zur Bedeutung der englischen Literatur für die skandinavische Vorromantik
The artistry of Willem Bilderdijk's emblematic engravings
Loneliness in Edwin Morgan's poetry
Problems and Opportunities of Literary Translation within the Framework of Different University Systems
A Middle English Translator at Work: The Weye of Paradys
Constantijn Huygens' Translation of John Donne's 'A Valediction, forbidding mourning'
Milton's Paradise Lost in Dutch: the pre- 1750 translations and editions
One More Key to the Lock: Belinda Translated
Translating structures: the role of contrastive syntax in translation dictionaries
The Lexicography of Scots Two Hundred Years Since: Ruddiman and his Successors
Morphology in the dictionary, with special reference to LDOCE
Kulturwortschatz der deutschen Gegenwartssprache. Ein enzyklopädisches deutsch-chinesisches Wörterbuch zu wichtigen Kulturbereichen der deutschsprachigen Länder
Old Norse gu/au in English
The Spelling of Scottish Place Names as a Linguistic Resource: Stirling vs. Dunfermline
The working vocabulary of a farm in Northeast Scotland in the mid-twentieth century
Theology and the Storying Mind: Methods in Contemporary Theological Thinking
A Bibliography of Professor Meier's Writings
List of Contributors

Citation preview

In other words

J. Lachlan Mackenzie and Richard Todd (eds)

In other words Transcultural Studies in Philology, Translation, and Lexicology presented to Hans Heinrich Meier on the occasion of his sixty-fifth Birthday

¥ 1989

FORIS PUBLICATIONS Dordrecht - Holland/Providence RI - U.S.A.

Published by: Foris Publications Holland P.O. Box 509 3300 AM Dordrecht, The Netherlands Distributor for the U.S.A. and Canada: Foris Publications USA, Inc. P.O. Box 5904 Providence RI 02903 U.S.A. CIP-DATA KONINKLIJKE BIBLIOTHEEK, D E N H A A G In Other Words : Transcultural Studies in Philology, Translation, and Lexicology presented to Hans Heinrich Meier on the Occasion of his Sixty-Fifth Birthday / J. Lachlan Mackenzie and Richard Todd (eds.). - Dordrecht [etc.]: Foris ISBN 90-6765-413-2 SISO 801.3 U D C 801 Subject headings: philology ; essays / translation ; essays / lexicology ; essays.

ISBN 90 6765 413 2 © 1989 Foris Publications - Dordrecht No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission from the copyright owner. Printed in the Netherlands by ICG Printing, Dordrecht.


Preface Tabula Gratulatoria The two languages of Burns David Murison

ix xiii


Have with you to Lexington!: the Beowulf manuscript and Beowulf Johan Gerritsen


Some problems in Washington, Library of Congress MS Faye-Bond 4 Betty Hill


Of English kings and arms Erik Kooper and Annelies Kruijshoop


The style and authorship of the Kildare poems: Pers of Bermingham Michael Benskin


Some aspects of theme and structure in Pers of Bermingham Maren-Sofie Rastvig and Michael Benskin


Is Sir Tristrem an English or a Scottish poem? Angus Mcintosh


Fifteenth-century English: Middle English or Early Modern English? Manfred Gorlach


'Which was the mooste fre?': Chaucer's realistic humour and insight into human nature, as shown in The Frankeleyns Tale N.H.G.E. Veldhoen


Robert Henryson, Orpheus, and the puer senex topos A.A. MacDonald




Das Genie in der Idylle: zur Bedeutung der englischen Literatur für die skandinavische Vorromantik Oskar Bandle


The artistry of Willem Bilderdijk's emblematic engravings J. Bosch


Loneliness in Edwin Morgan's poetry Erik Frykman


Problems and opportunities of literary translation within the framework of different university systems Helmut Schrey


A Middle English translator at work: The Weye of Paradys F.N.M. Diekstra


Constantijn Huygens' translation of John Donne's 'A Valediction Forbidding Mourning' L. Strengholt


Milton's Paradise Lost in Dutch: the pre-1750 translations and editions Jacques B.H. Alblas


One more key to the lock: Belinda translated Peter J. de Voogd


Translating structures: the role of contrastive syntax in translation dictionaries Mike Hannay


The lexicography of Scots 200 years since: Ruddiman and his successors A.J. Aitken


Morphology in the dictionary, with special reference to LDOCE Willem Meijs


Kulturwortschatz der deutschen Gegenwartssprache. Ein enzyklopädisches deutsch-chinesisches Wörterbuch zu wichtigen Kulturbereichen der deutschsprachigen Länder Oskar Reichmann




Old Norse gu/au in English Eduard Kolb


The spelling of Scottish place-names as a linguistic resource: Stirling vs. Dunfermline W.F.H. Nicolaisen


The working vocabulary of a farm in Northeast Scotland in the midtwentieth century A. Fenton


Theology and the storying mind: methods in contemporary theological thinking A.J. Fry


Professor Meier's Writings


List of Contributors


rofessor Emeritus Hans Heinrich Meier


This collection of essays and articles offers an international tribute, on the occasion of his sixty-fifth birthday, 17 April 1989, to the distinguished philologist, translator, and lexicographer Professor Emeritus Hans Heinrich Meier. It is the editors' and the contributors' hope that both the recipient of this volume and its general readership will find reflected in it the wide range of interests that have characterized Professor Meier throughout his career. Far from presenting a retrospective assessment of a life's work completed, In Other Words offers a counterpoint to Professor Meier's continuing scholarly output, to which the appended bibliography of his writings bears ample witness. Professor Meier retired from the Chair of English Language at the Free University, Amsterdam in 1986, after 23 years of service, first as reader, and then as full professor. His teaching, based always on closely-typed handouts entirely of his own composition, covered many areas. Prominent among these were the appreciation of medieval literature; style in Chaucer; the nature of Early Modern English; a morpho-semantic characterization of Modern English; and a critique of poetic translations from and into English. In his treatment of these subjects, especially with regard to translation, Professor Meier drew on years of personal experience that can be sampled, perhaps, through a reading of his 'Vorspiele zum Nachdichten' (1985). His elucidations of translation theory were fed by the experience of producing his much-acclaimed rendition into German of Paradise Lost, which has been followed by several other tours de force, such as his Middle Scots version of Max und Moritz, a forthcoming translation of Bilderdijk's Epos into German - which, we have it on good authority, is now complete - and the promise of a Zürich-German version of The Owl and the Nightingale. Throughout Professor Meier's work, there can be discerned a love for things Scottish, a love that goes back to being a pupil in Eugen Dieth's class at grammar school and, more personally, to 1946, when he first visited Aberdeen and Edinburgh as a student. The indefinable Scottishness of his accent in English is doubtless attributable to the four years (195559) he spent as assistant to the editor of the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue, Adam J. Aitken (an experience reflected in his 'Lexicography as applied linguistics', 1969), and as tutor in Old and Middle English under



Angus Mcintosh. Both ex-mentors of Professor Meier's have contributed to this volume. As evidence of his preoccupation with things Scottish, special mention may be made of his first edition, with commentary, of a Middle Scots poem in 1966, his study of parallelisms between Older Scots, Older Swiss and Middle Low German in 1977 and his 1987 contribution to the Aitken Festschrift. Another 'constant' in Professor Meier's work is a largely diachronic preoccupation with style. The importance of this elusive notion was apparent as early as his 1953 dissertation (supervisor Eugen Dieth), in which the expression of indefinite agency in Middle English is treated as more than a syntactic or semantic matter, above all as a matter of 'style' - pragmatics, some might nowadays say. The notion recurs throughout his work, notably in a series of articles entitled 'X English Style(s) in Y \ in 1974, 1979,1981, and 1987. For a 'complete anglist' such as Professor Meier, a unified treatment of style and grammar seems natural, an automatic consequence of his conception of philology. In his Constanten in het Engels ('Constants in English'), his inaugural lecture as reader, the unchanging grammatical and stylistic attributes of English are presented in a united argument. And in his inaugural lecture as professor, The Complete Anglist: A Contemporary Linguist's Reorientation, he makes a plea, in the face of the rise of structuralist approaches to language with their scant regard for meaning, style or communicative import, for greater attention to 'les petits faits vrais' and for the reunification of Anglistics as a field of study embracing the study of language and literature. In other words offers a total of 25 essays from distinguished contributors who have been colleagues and friends of Professor Meier's at various stages in his working life. The contributions have come from seven different countries, and address a broad range of topics. Their scope extends from general issues of definition, through more specifically attributive, historiographical, and topographical investigations into various aspects of the written and spoken word, down to critical and palaeographical study of individual texts and manuscripts. The variety displayed in the collection as a whole is offset by a principal theme that links together practically all the contributions. Throughout the book, emphasis is laid on the variety of ways in which the written and spoken word may be regarded as susceptible to transmutation in both time and space, both within and across the boundaries of given cultures, whether through historical event or political necessity, revivified or recorded by means of the efforts of translators or lexicographers. We wish to thank Anke Schwarz and Linda van den Burg, students in the Department of English of the Free University, for their invaluable secretarial and bibliographical assistance in the preparation of this volume.



We, and through us the contributors, offer our best wishes on his sixtyfifth birthday to Professor Hans Heinrich Meier and his wife Elsbeth.

J.Lachlan Mackenzie Richard Todd

Tabula Gratulatoria

J. Aarts Instituut Engels-Amerikaans K. Erasmusplein 1 6525 HT Nijmegen Nederland Y.C. Abraham In de Papiermolen 30 1115 GS Duivendrecht Nederland J. de Berg Paul Krugerstraat 17 1521 EJ Wormerveer Nederland Dr. M. Buning Senior Lecturer English Dept. - Free University P.O. Box 7161 Amsterdam The Netherlands G.H.V. Bunt Anglistisch Instituut RUG Grote Kruisstraat 21 9712 TS Groningen Nederland A. de By-Benders Stationsstraat 22 1391 GP Abcoude Nederland

Prof.Dr. H. Daiber Am Hüttenhof 10 4000 Düsseldorf 31 B.R.D. R. Derolez Muinklaan 57 B-9000 Gent Belgie O. Fischer Engels Seminarium Spuistraat 210 1012 VT Amsterdam Nederland M. van Hattum Fokkerlaan 36 1185 JC Amstelveen Nederland Prof.Dr. M.W. Heslinga Evert Cornelislaan 16 3723 LE Bilthoven Nederland A. de Jong-van den Heuvel Pr. Mauritslaan 95 2051 KC Overveen Nederland


Tabula Gratulatoria

A. van Kemenade VU Taalkunde Engels Postbus 7161 1007 MC Amsterdam Nederland W.B. Kroes-Sanneveld Uilenstede 102b-2015 1183 AM Amstelveen Nederland Prof.Dr. A. van der Lee Hollands End 89 1244 NP Ankeveen Nederland Prof.Dr. E. Leisi Zürichstrasse 43 CH-8122 Pfaffhausen Switzerland J. Marti Hammerstrasse 24 CH-8008 Zürich Zwitserland Prof.Dr. W. Martin SR Lexicologie Faculteit der Letteren VU Amsterdam De Boelelaan 1105 1081 HV Amsterdam Nederland

Drs. J.J.G. Muller-van Santen Amsteldijk 89 1074 JB Amsterdam Nederland E.C. Poventud-Boeke Jacobastraat 110 2512 JC Den Haag Nederland P. van Reenen Mr Sixlaan 13 1181 PK Amstelveen Nederland D.M. Schenkeveld Herman Heijermanslaan 23 2106 ER Heemstede Nederland M.H. Schenkeveld Van Nijenrodeweg 163 1083 EL Amsterdam Nederland Dr. C.W. Schoneveld Lagewaard 73 2396 AZ Koudekerk aan den Rijn Nederland Prof.Dr. B. Siertsema Montgó MG 261 Jàvea (Prov. Alicante) Spanje

R. Mitchell-Schuitevoerder 2 St Hughs Avenue High Wycombe Bucks HP 13 7UD England

S.J.H. Smits Antonie Duyckstraat 161 2582 TJ Den Haag Nederland

P. Morin Ocarinalaan 632 2287 SL Rijswijk Nederland

Dr. J.H. van der Spek Van Wassenaerlaan 37 3742 AG Baarn Nederland

Tabula Gratulatoria K. Spinner RWTH Aachen B.D.R. Drs. M. Stam De Kuil 20 1911 TP Uitgeest Nederland Mrs. J.C. Syswerda-Stam Burg. Luytenstraat 30 6151 GG Munstergeleen Nederland J.J. Thierry Kwikstaartlaan 26 2566 TT Den Haag Nederland


P. Verdonk English Department University of Amsterdam Spuistraat 210 1012 VT Amsterdam The Netherlands R. Vismans Dept. of European & Modern Dutch Studies University of Hull Hull HU6 7RX Great Britain Vrije Universiteit Bibliotheek/Acquisitie Humaniora De Boelelaan 1105 1081 HV Amsterdam Nederland

R.A. Veninga-Siebrecht Vrije Universiteit De Boelelaan 1105 1081 HV Amsterdam Nederland

H.Chr. Wekker De Savornin Lohmanlaan 40 9722 HJ Groningen Nederland

L. Verbrugge Rode Zee 2 1503 TN Zaandam Nederland

E. Wiesenekker Driftweg 149 1272 AC Huizen (N.H.) Nederland R.A.L. Willemsen Wethouder de Vriesplantsoen 41 1107 AP Amsterdam Zuid-Oost Nederland

The Two Languages of Burns David Murison

Hans Meier's fortune has linked his life throughout with small countries. A member of a small nation, made even more fragmented by its federal constitution, and brought up to speak a dialect of a major European language, he came to a not dissimilar situation in Scotland as a student and later as an assistant editor of the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue to which he contributed sound judgment and meticulous scholarship, and finally to the Netherlands to add distinction for twenty-three years to his chair of English Language. Just as Scotland owes her established religion to Geneva and her jurisprudence to Leiden, so Professor Meier seems to have felt some spiritual kinship with Scotland and has returned often to Scottish topics in his writings, no doubt in remembrance of his days in Aberdeen and Edinburgh and no doubt too of his teacher in Zurich, Eugen Dieth, a Scotophile if ever there was one. And so some thoughts on the art of Burns, the champion of his own small nation and of internationalism no less, may not be amiss to honour a scholar whose sympathies lie in the same direction. Much has been written already about the language of Burns, and the broad lines of the critique remain substantially unchallenged, that Burns did his best work in Scots and inferior work in English, a distinction simple and easy to remember, but how clear-cut it is still remains to be analysed in detail. For instance what do we mean by distinguishing Scots and English and how valid is that distinction as applied to Burns in the literature of his time, and his own background and work? Scots and English are in origin dialects of Anglo-Saxon, Northern and Southern respectively, which diverged more and more through the medieval period. The large-scale intrusion of the Danes and Norwegians with their kindred Scandinavian tongue into Northern England helped to fix the main dialect boundary between North and South at the Humber rather than the Tweed. In Scotland the establishment of the feudal system in the late eleventh century and its rapid spread over the Lowlands helped to create from Northern Anglo-Saxon, or 'Inglis' as it was there called, a language of government and literature which, with the political independence of the Northern kingdom, graduated into the national language of Scotland, later given the national name of 'Scots.' Its subsequent history has been often enough told with special emphasis


David Murison

on the Reformation in 1560 and the introduction of the English Bible to Scotland in default of a Scots one, and on the Union of the Crowns in 1603 which removed the Court as the milieu in which the formal, official metropolitan speech of the country would be current. It is to be noticed how closely the linguistic history of Scotland goes hand in hand with the political. As the government of Scotland gravitated to London, the southern speech advanced in status and use in the north. Throughout the seventeenth century we find more and more English forms, grammar and vocabulary in every kind of writing, official records, theological disquisitions, the poetry of such as Drummond, Alexander, Mure and Ayton. Scots prose had virtually come to an end by 1660, and Urquhart's classical translation of Rabelais is in English, that exuberant English for which he was unique, and it is significant that the only piece of Scots in all the work is in his own north-east dialect representing a piece of Limousin dialect in the original; in other words he was already in the 1650s consigning Scots to a subordinate status vis-à-vis English. The cope-stone was put on this process by the Union of 1707, when the concentration of politics and legislation in London involved the assimilation of language to metropolitan English. This of course applied only to the written language, a qualification of considerable importance. English visitors to Scotland were few and far between till at least 1745, when English soldiery came in as garrison troops; the majority of Scots had never heard the sound of an English voice and kept on talking to one another in their native vernacular, the speech of their region, on all the topics of ordinary informal conversation, domestic everyday sentimental matters, at a low intellectual pitch. As soon as the subject demanded abstract thinking about something more solemn, serious or formal, the Scot fell back on the language of books, the Bible among others, and that language was by this time English, though it was English as a Scotsman spoke it. We may suppose that the instinctive unformulated thought was still in Scots but as it rose to consciousness the speaker had to grope for the English form in his lexicon. In the middle of the eighteenth century we find the philosopher Hume, somewhat unsure of his English, getting an English friend to vet his manuscript for Scotticisms, and Hume was from the lesser gentry. The commonalty who had little occasion to write screeds of prose, kept good Scots tongues in their heads, though - and this is important - they knew their Bible and in their more solemn moments would import the phraseology of the Authorised Version into what they had to say. But the general tendency toward anglicization in the seventeenth century was continued and intensified in the next, and English continued to spread downwards through society from the Londoncommuting nobility of the Stewart courts to the smaller lairds, the clergy, the lawyers, and the professional men of Edinburgh and Glasgow of the

The Two Languages of Burns


Enlightenment. Commoners were little affected, however. Their literature, apart from theology, was the more popular kind of print, the chapbooks and broadsheets hawked on the streets and round the farm-towns, but, more important, there was the oral literature, the folk-tales, songs and ballads, most of which had never been written down as early as 1750. And these were the survivors in part at least of the popular verse of the middle ages of which there are fragments in the Bannatyne and Maitland manuscripts of the late sixteenth century, pieces like 'Peblis to the Play,' 'Christis Kirk on the Grene,' and 'The Wowing of Jok and Jynny.' There was besides a trickle of popular verse by known authors, particularly the Sempills, like 'The Blythsome Wedding,' 'The Piper of Kilbarchan' with its troubadour Habbie stanza, 'Maggie Lauder,' most of these appearing in Watson's Choice Collection which came out at the time of the Union and was probably inspired by nationalist sympathies. Such sympathies are much more explicit in the next anthologist of earlier Scottish poetry and a poet in his own right, Allan Ramsay, with his collection The Ever Green and The Tea-Table Miscellany, of medieval and contemporary verse, song and ballad, and his own poetical epistles and tales and the pastoral drama The Gentle Shepherd; the greater part of all of these is in Scots. Ramsay's main purpose was to gather together the best in Scottish poetry not readily available in his own time, and to include with it much oral or folk material, naturally in Scots, though he was no purist and muddled his texts with English. This aim was further borne out by his collection of Scottish proverbs in 1736, of which the preface is one of the few pieces of Scots prose in the whole of the century. Plainly Ramsay was trying to inject some interest in their own heritage into his fellow countrymen, and in so doing he set Scottish literature and language off again on a distinctive path of its own, away from the adoption of English models that had been progressive throughout the seventeenth century. Of course he was too late to save prose, which, as the instrument of communication in the political and economic integration the Union was to bring about, could only be English. So Ramsay's revival of Scottish letters was restricted to poetry in Scots, now limited to the homely, sentimental, comic, earthy and unsophisticated theme, and to certain poetic forms like the lyric, the short, usually humorous, tale, the genre- or descriptive piece, the verse epistle and dialogue. Nevertheless Ramsay's achievement within these confines is considerable and he undoubtedly inspired others, like Skinner and Ross and above all Fergusson, to emulation on the same lines. One cause for regret is that Ramsay's personal interest and work in Scots drama was not followed up by his imitators. What he succeeded in doing was to compromise with - counter would be too strong a word - the growing anglicization in language and literature in Scotland and in showing what Scots was still capable


David Murison

of, with all its limitations, in poetry. But it must be remembered that Scots itself was in a state of flux. It had lost its classical form, its grammar and sound system were becoming confused with English, and its vocabulary decimated. What was in fact arising was a mixed Anglo-Scots in which the degree of either element would vary according to the whim of the speaker, the context in which he was speaking, or the extent of his bilingual capacity. It should be remembered too that the eighteenth century was the Augustan age of English literature, a time of pruning and chiselling and polishing to give English the classical style and elegance that Latin had got from Cicero, Vergil, Horace and Seneca. Addison, Steele, Pope, Gray, Shenstone and Johnson with his definitive Dictionary were all involved in this vitally important task which has made English the most subtle, flexible and efficient language in the world, and of course added immeasurably to its prestige, not least in Scotland. In contrast the Scottish situation in the eighteenth century was in fact a tug-of-war between the old culture and the new, with English exerting an overmastering pull and Scots digging its heels in here and there on the rather unstable ground of poetry and folk-tradition. There is a further point that folk-song and popular song are not precisely the same thing, and a good deal of popular song is art-song on a low literary level, as Gavin Greig pointed out in his researches into folk-song in Buchan. 1 In the large majority of the bothy songs of that area where the common speech is a dialect of Scots which could hardly be 'broader,' it is quite astonishing how English the vocabulary can be, because many of the songs find their new models in their English popular counterparts of earlier generations, mixed up, as again Greig noted, with the English phraeseology of the metrical psalms and paraphrases. In the circumstances of Burns's own upbringing we see the same conflict of cultures in miniature. We know from his biography how his teacher at Alloway introduced him to Shakespeare, Milton, Dryden and the Augustan poets and prose-writers, and paid special attention to analysis and interpretation of these authors and to exactness and clarity in his own composition. One can hardly overstress the importance and effectiveness of all this linguistic drilling. Burns himself tells how, when a few years older, he carried about 'a select collection of English songs' which he pored over in the same analytical manner, 'carefully noting the true tender or sublime from affectation and fustian.' 2 The native element in Burns stemmed on the other hand from his peasant stock, which still spoke Scots in its daily life, from the folklore and songs he heard from his mother and his nurse and the community all around him. Sometime also in the early Mount Oliphant period about 1775 he got hold of a copy of The Tea-Table Miscellany with its mixture of Scots, Anglo-Scots, English and Irish songs, some traditional and anonymous, some patched up and some new creations by Ramsay himself and others, some still in the repertoire

The Two Languages of Burns


of the modern singer. These provided models for Burns throughout his whole song-writing career, and his editorship of Johnson's Scots Musical Museum, though much more skilful and professional in execution, was essentially the same in principle and method as Ramsay's. His first effort, 'O, once I loved a bonny lass,' is of this sort and it is a fact that in most of his songs, even the greatest, he hovers between Scots and Augustan English. Now the real trouble with the Augustans was their overreadiness to pose, declaim, and strike classic attitudes, to talk of emotions in abstract terms, and to universalize the particular. A comparison between two of his early songs, 'Corn Rigs' and 'Mary Morison,' will illustrate the point. The first is simple, direct, almost wholly vernacular, conversational in style, without imagery and practically without reflection, except in the last verse which Burns himself thought the best stanza he had ever written. There is much more sophistication in 'Mary Morison': 'Those smiles and glances let me see, / T h a t make the miser's treasure poor' 3 is somewhat hyperbolic and rhetorical, and also English, as the rhyme of poor with stoure shows; the last verse is even more hyperbolic, epigrammatic and antithetic, and canst and wilt are again English and not Scots forms. The second verse, however, gets to the heart of the matter in its utter simplicity, typical of Burns at the summit of his art, and it is no coincidence that it is the most Scots linguistically. Perhaps this is the point at which to consider the language of eighteenthcentury Scottish poetry in more detail. Ramsay made a rather blundering stab at it in his glossary to his first volume of Poems in 1721 by listing about two pages of words wherein Scots and English differ in sounds and consequently in spelling, as ba, ball; pou or pu, pull; fause, false; gowd, gold; cauld, cold; wad, would; ae or ane, one; apen, open; braid, broad; saip, soap; snaw, snow; wha, who; fit, foot; nise, nose; rin, run; and so on; and the glossary itself covers about 900 specifically Scots words with the English equivalents. Ramsay's examples, while accurate enough, are not systematic, and more seriously, his spellings are even less so. His general tendency was to assimilate the spelling as far as possible to the English form, no doubt to make things easier for his English readers, but unless the reader has a native knowledge of Scots he may get the assonances, rhymes, etc., completely wrong. Ramsay set the pattern and both Fergusson and Burns are constrained to stick in general to it but Burns, who was much more concerned about sounds, especially in songs, than his predecessors, realized the inadequacies of this spelling system. He therefore prefaced the glossary to his Edinburgh edition with some linguistic notes in which I have bracketed examples and italicized the Scots spelling, which is by no means the one Burns usually adopted.


David Murison The ch and gh have always the guttural sound [like German ch]. The sound of the English diphthong [sic] oo is commonly spelt ou [stour, fou, souch, drouth, mouse, hour, plough', he might have added ow as in brow, cow, power, down]. The French u, a sound which often occurs in the Scotch language, is marked oo or ui [stood, moon, coost, coof, loof, toom, aboon, but also guid, puir, sure, bluid]. The a in genuine Scotch words, except when forming a diphthong or followed by an o mute after a single consonant, sounds generally like the broad English in wall. The Scotch diphthongs ae always and ea very often, sound like the French é masculine [brae, nae, and also neat, seat, heal (verb), heart, real, creature, wean]. The Scotch diphthong ey sounds like the Latin ei.4

And one has also to notice that arm, charm, is airm, chairm, and barley is barely. All this means briefly that, despite the standard English spellings, we have to translate them into their Scots values, and so Scots and English come to be equivocal terms on the printed page. It is the inability to sort them out correctly that disfigures so much modern singing of Scots songs and corrupts the Scots language even further. It is also worth noting at this point for discussion later that Burns's Scots vocabulary is richest in his non-lyric work. 'Halloween' is a tour de force in the folk-lore and folk-lexicon of Ayrshire - bow-kail, castock, fause-house, wiel, stownlins, gash, aizle, gilpie, kirn, wintle, hilch, swirlie, winze, cook, outler, strunf, his own glossaries to the Kilmarnock and Edinburgh editions list about 1500 words drawn not only from the dialect of Kyle, like daimen, icker, kiaugh, messan, rockin, shangan, risk, luggie, but also from further afield in the general vernacular of Central Scotland. Added to these are words which Burns (and Fergusson before him) had picked up from Ramsay, as Land o' Cakes, bughtin-time, clishmaclaver, donsie, glamour, hodden gray, jockteleg, sculdudderie, and he got a few more from the chapbooks. As for the pre-1700 sources Ritter has spotted what look like reminiscences of Montgomerie's The Cherrie and the Slae and Douglas's Aeneid in 'The Epistle to William Simpson.' So his total Scots vocabulary is very considerable and the fact that he has had so many imitators has done an incalculable service in preserving the Scots tongue over the last two centuries. Burns had quite definite views on style, especially in songs, formulated in the course of his many arguments with George Thomson over his texts. At the outset of the partnership Burns made his position clear and told Thomson firmly time and again that if he wanted English verses, he would have to find them elsewhere. 'I have not that command of the language that I have of my native tongue. My ideas are more barren in English than in Scottish.' He insisted on at least 'a sprinkling of our native tongue,' and this because 'there is a naiveté, a pastoral simplicity, in a slight intermixture of Scots words and phraseology which is more in unison with the simple pathos, or rustic sprightliness, of our native music.' 5 This then is the basis of his theory that a Scots song should be simple and

The two languages of Burns


'pastoral,' and this simplicity is best achieved by the use of Scots. It is an association theory, soundly based on the fact that the folk-song of Scotland of the eighteenth century, the songs to be met with in The TeaTable Miscellany, in Herd's collections and in the dozens of others all published prior to Burns's work for Johnson and Thomson, was just like that. So here Burns was firmly in the tradition and knew perfectly well what he was doing in turning folk-song into art-song and seeking to strike a balance between the conditions of the first as he found it, and the demands of the second as the artistic world expected it - or to put it in another way, he had to infuse the life and red blood of the songs of the peasantry into the stiff, formal, insipid fashions of the drawing-room, and language was part of the process. The end result is a linguistic compromise between eighteenth-century Scots and Augustan English, and at times of course it failed. 'From Thee, Eliza,' 'The Day returns,' 'To Mary in Heaven,' 'When chill November's surly blast,' 'The Lass o' Ballochmyle,' 'Clarinda, Mistress of my Soul' can under no circumstances be called successes, and they are all incidentally almost wholly in Augustan English. Both as Scotland's poet-laureate and as the chief contributor to two anthologies of Scottish songs he was over-eager to find and restore, and scant of time to exercise his judgment. With exemplary patience coping with Thomson's incessant pressure to produce genteel English verses, he was even driven to say of 'Sleep'st thou or wauk'st thou': 'I will vamp up the old Song, & make it English enough to be understood.' 6 His uninspired agonizings with this particular song can be seen by anyone who cares to compare the first draft with the published version, 'the leafy woods' and 'the reeking floods' and 'wild nature's tenants' with 'the streaming fountain,' 'the heathy mountain' and 'the hart, hind and roe,' 'Phoebus' and 'Chloris.' Obviously Burns was making heavy weather of it, but as it was written in honour of a pretty lass whom he called Chloris when her real name was Jean Lorimer, what else could one expect but fustian? And of course one must realize that he was in many cases restricted in furbishing up the old songs by the language rhythms of the original, which in some cases indeed may have been an English song to start with. This is not to imply that every 'English' song is a failure. 'A Rosebud by my early walk' is almost entirely in English with the merest 'sprinkling of Scotch in it,' but it is a model of grace and delicacy achieved by the simplicity of the diction and the natural unforced quality of the images. And it is this direct simplicity, divested of ornamental verbiage, and saying what it has to say in the plainest and (of supreme importance) most melodious terms, the art that conceals art, which is the secret of Burns's genius as a song-writer. It is in fact the exact opposite of Augustanism, which sought to capture the universal in the abstract and metaphorical, the epithet, the compound adjective, apostrophe and the rest of the tropes and figures. Burns does


David Murison

it through the concrete, the ordinary shared experience of mankind, and in the language of the monosyllable. To analyse his greatest songs would merely be to repeat what has been said above. The subtle modulations of style between degrees of Scots and degrees of English can be seen in 'O wert thou in the Cauld Blast' as compared with 'Ae fond Kiss,' or the dignified melancholy of 'It was a' for our rightfu' King' in Scots with the theatrical swagger in English of 'I am a son of Mars' from 'The Jolly Beggars,' or the more realistic emotion, also in English, of 'Go fetch to me a pint o' wine'; Scots and simplicity are linked up in 'John Anderson, my Jo,' 'My Wife's a winsome wee thing,' 'The Deil's awa wi' the Exciseman,' 'O Willie brew'd a peck o' maut,' and in probably the simplest song of them all, 'Ay waukin, O.' 'The Lea-rig' is another of the same, exemplifying also Burns's acute ear for speech-melody, so that the words almost sing themselves, even without the music, as they do in 'Ca' the Yowes,' especially the second version. Incidentally if one wants to see the careful process by which Burns worked up his songs from whatever bits and pieces came to his hands, his two versions of 'Ca' the Yowes,' his three versions of 'Bonnie Doon' and the earlier versions in Ramsay and Watson of 'Auld Lang Syne,' together with Burns's variations on his own texts, should be closely studied to get some idea of his linguistic fastidiousness. And if we look at the painstaking tracking down by Ritter and Schwebsch 7 of images and whole lines to this and that folk-song, street-ballad or art-song of the early eighteenth century, Scots and English alike, and then read them fashioned into that exquisite gem, 'A Red, Red Rose,' we can then more fully appreciate the greatness of Burns's art with words. Another subtle but illuminating contrast in styles can be seen in 'A Man's a Man' and 'Scots wha hae,' the first direct, simple, concrete and practically monosyllabic, in which the current abstract concepts of 'Liberty, Equality and Fraternity' are expressed in homely and familiar terms, and though this may be written down as sloganizing, a slogan is after all just that reduction of philosophical concepts to their most succinct and realist minimum. 'Scots wha hae' on the other hand is more rhetorical and dramatizes abstracts like 'slavery, oppression, liberty.' There is of course nothing specifically 'English' about these words; they are part of the general Romance vocabulary of England and Scotland alike and our medieval Scottish writers used them frequently. Our problem is therefore not to distinguish rustic Scots from metaphysical English, or to sort out thought from feeling but to describe the many fine gradations of style by which Burns is able to convey the thought, to universalize the emotion and generate a common human sympathy. In the songs Burns was using with consummate skill a great deal of old material. He had a somewhat different problem in his other work where he is truly original. His very first compositions had been songs

The two languages of Burns


in the Anglo-Scots manner and one or two pretty dreadful English pieces on Ruin, Remorse, and Death, but about 1782 came the momentous incident when he stumbled on Fergusson's 'Scotch Poems' and determined to emulate him and Ramsay while singing the praises of his native Ayrshire, the theme of the 'Epistle to William Simpson' and 'The Vision.' In both he made an acquaintance with the verse epistle in the Habbie stanza form, the genre 'manners-painting' piece as in Ramsay's Elegies or Fergusson's 'Farmer's Ingle,' 'The Rising' and 'Sitting of the Session,' 'Auld Reekie,' 'Hallow-fair,' or dialogues like 'The Three Bonnets,' or 'The Ghaists' or the satire 'Lucky Spence,' 'The Elegy on John Cowper,' 'To the Principal of St Andrews' or 'The Election.' All these literary genres involve some intellectual sophistication and abstract and objective thought, and we are reminded of Edwin Muir's dictum that the Scots feel in Scots but think in English. Muir was of course making a specific and tendentious application of T.S. Eliot's theory of the 'dissociation of sensibility' to twentieth-century Scottish literature and dramatically polarizing the differences in support of his argument about the incapacity of modern Scots as a vehicle for the poetry of today, though MacDiarmid went some considerable way in refuting it. But exaggerated as it may be, the statement has a germ of truth in it, and we have already seen historical reasons why in certain fields the expression of the thought is in English. We must now consider how Burns coped with the problem in his own day, remembering how much more widely current Scots then was and that it was his first and native speech, the language of the community to which he belonged. And it was the life and ethos of that community in all its moods and conditions which Burns takes as his theme. So in general his Scots is richer, more unmixed in this aspect of his work; its most constant characteristic is its naturalness, and the Habbie stanza is peculiarly fitted with its alternation of long and short lines to reproduce the cadences of informal conversation. It is seen at its best in the epistles and humorous addresses: Frae less to mair it gaed to sticks; Frae words an' aiths to clours an' nicks; An' monie a fallow gat his licks, Wi' hearty crunt; An' some, to learn them for their tricks, Were hang'd an' brunt.

(I, 97)

This is typical of Burns's style in seeing abstractions (here the struggles of the Reformation and the Inquisition) in their most concrete terms; in cutting theoretical problems down to size in a peasant's off-taking matterof-fact manner, in this instance of course with deliberate irony and humour. The contrast is even more striking in poems like 'The Ordination':

10 David Murison See, see auld Orthodoxy's faes She's swingein thro' the city... See, how she peels the skin an' fell, As ane were peelin onions!

(I, 2 1 6 )

Another example of the kind is 'The Twa Dogs,' where sociopolitical issues are discussed in this down-to-earth fashion to which Burns's Scots is perfectly attuned: Luath In favor wi' some gentle Master, Wha, aiblins, thrang a parliamentin, For Britain's guid his saul indentin Caesar Haith lad, ye little ken about it; For Britain's guid! guid faith! I doubt it. Say rather, gaun as Premiers lead him, An' saying aye or no's they bid him.

(I, 142)

For sheer naturalness of speech transmuted into poetry Burns has no rival and he was at it long before Wordsworth laid it down as a principle in the Lyrical Ballads. 'The Address to the Deil,' 'The Holy Fair,' 'Tarn o' Shanter' are only three of many outstanding examples. Wordsworth himself gave him full marks for the fourth stanza of 'Death and Dr Hornbook': The rising moon began to glowr The distant Cumnock hills out-owre; To count her horns, wi' a' my pow'r I set mysel, But whether she had three or four, I cou'd na tell.

(I, 79)

And of course he is helped by the metre, as we have seen, with the sting of shrewd irony or dismissal in its tail: (a) (b) (c) (d) (e) (f)

How daur ye set your fit upon her, Sae fine a lady; What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us, An' ev'n Devotion; Sends ane to Heaven an' ten to Hell A' for Thy glory; An' a' the glory shall be Thine Amen, amen; She'll teach you wi' a reekin' whittle Anither sang; Freedom an' whisky gang thegither! Tak aff your dram;

The two languages of Burns (g) (h)


But spak their thoughts in plain braid Lallans Like you or me; But faith! he'll turn a corner jinkin An' cheat you yet.

This is the mark of his epistolary style as in the letters to Lapraik and Simpson. But the contents of the Kilmarnock edition were chosen to exhibit the poet's versatility and as the subject changes, so naturally the language varies according to the way Burns handles his theme, with solemnity or in fun, or, as often, in a mixture of both. The difference in treatment can be seen for instance by comparing the 'Epistle to William Simpson' with 'The Vision,' both of which deal with the same topic, the first in a free-and-easy light-hearted chatty manner in racy conversational Scots; the other, after beginning with a splendid description of the winter night and the cottage fireside, naturally in domestic Scots, slides into the allegory of the Ayrshire muse laureating her bard in turgid Augustan English: 'tillageskill,' 'embryo-tuneful flame,' 'Patriot-lore,' 'rudely-carolled phrase,' 'manners-painting,' 'bosom-melting throe' are all inflated theatricalities to which Burns unfortunately sometimes succumbed when he harked back to the Masson Collection of his schooldays, and made what was a well-conceived and imaginative poem into a cold and sluggish exercise. Other instances of a poem which goes astray in the middle and polarizes the opposing roles of Scots and English in his work are 'To the Unco Guid,' 'The Brigs o' Ayr,' and 'A Winter Night,' beginning like 'The Vision' with a realist picture of a snowstorm as an Ayrshire farmer would experience and describe it, unaffectedly and yet dramatically; then launching out into an eighteenth-century English ode, with abstractions and personifications about Oppression, Ambition, Luxury, and Proud Property, Maideninnocence, and all the rest of the phraseological stock-in-trade. The classic example for the critics is 'The Cotter's Saturday Night,' where Scots in the description of the domestic scene is mixed up with a good deal of sententious moralizing, which might pass if it were in the homely platitudes or proverbial utterances of the Scots peasant but is in large measure borrowed from Burns's usual English sources, as if he had for a moment lost real contact with his theme. But when the Bible is brought out and the solemn part of the evenings begins, the poem again slips into formal English in the reading, the psalm-singing and the prayers. This time his English is on more familiar ground, that of the historical tradition of Biblical English which we saw was the first and most powerful influence in the anglicization of Scots. This switching of Scots and scriptural English has been a common feature of Scots up to our own day and generation, one that may be the last to have heard of the Bible, and Scott and Gait and Barrie and Stevenson and Brown. Burns makes use of it again with

12 David Murison deadly effect for an entirely different purpose in his ecclesiastical satires, 'The Kirk's Alarm,' 'The Ordination' and above all 'Holy Willie's Prayer,' where the earthy Willie speaks Scots and the unctuous Willie speaks liturgical English: I bless and praise thy matchless might, When thousands thou hast left in night, That I am here before thy sight, For gifts and grace, A burning and a shining light T o a' this place. Besides, I farther maun avow, Wi' Leezie's lass, three times - I trow, But Lord, that Friday I was fou When I cam near her, Or else, thou kens thy servant true Wad never steer her.

(I, 75-6)

The subtle blending of the two tongues as Willie's moods of spiritual arrogance and carnal abasement rise and fall is one of the most skilful linguistic achievements of Burns. Speaking in general terms, we can say that in his non-lyrical pieces he uses Scots; the more spontaneous and informal his approach to his theme, the more he is sympathetically involved in his description or narrative. But he blends this with English in varying proportions for two main and interacting reasons, one objective and tied up with the historical role of English in Scotland, as the language of the Bible, the church, the state and all its works, and literary culture as represented by the Augustans, all of which had the vocabulary that Scots had lost or never acquired; the other reason is subjective, the tendency of Burns at times to put on a solo performance, to take the stage outside his own world and invite the world at large to behold him as a Man of Feeling, a Philosopher and Critic of life and letters - he had after all read Locke at the age of sixteen; and though his innate common-sense, his sardonic irony and his good taste in language generally prevailed, he does at times lapse. He does not of course make a policy of the writing of Scots as against English - it is a much more subconscious and instinctive thing than that. His statement to Thomson about having less command of English has only relative truth and has led some critics astray, and to Robert Anderson he claimed 'the advantages he enjoyed in poetic composition from the copia verborum, the command of phraseology, which the knowledge and use of English and Scottish dialects afforded him,' 8 and which his letters amply corroborate. The Scots-English dichotomy has been overdrawn in regard to Burns, who uses both to their fullest effect, though in his English he does not always bring it off.

The Two Languages of Burns


In the last analysis it is a matter of how far he adapted himself to the traditions and literary models he had before him. Scottish literature is a conservative one, harking back recurrently to its own past themes and modes and diction, which with the progressive decay of Scots becomes of necessity more and more restricted, and English as a consequence has to be called in to fill the gap. This is the problem incidentally which faced Hugh MacDiarmid and led to his experiments with Lallans or 'synthetic Scots.' But Burns was no such innovator and made do with what instruments he had to hand. In the lyric he was most at home in the Scots tradition which was powerful and of long standing, and from which he learned above all the virtues of directness, concreteness and simplicity. In the epistle, genre-piece and tale he had Ramsay and Fergusson as his models for the same unfigured, unpretentious, unbuttoned style, with 'the rich and racy humour of a natural converser fresh from the plough,' 9 as Christopher North put it. When he tries to get outside those limits, he often gets into difficulties, as can be seen when criticism compares 'The Cotter's Saturday Night' with the more convincing 'Farmer's Ingle' of Fergusson. Where Burns excels his predecessors, however, is in the assurance, polish and metrical deftness in his use of Scots. Ramsay and Fergusson are rich enough in the vocabulary and idiom but there is a certain lumbering awkwardness, for example, in their Habbie stanza, of which Burns is very seldom guilty. And this one feels is due to the thoroughness of the schooling he got in stylistics from his early days, and one must concede that his close study of Augustan English had not a little to do with it. So he ranges freely in a mixture of Scots and English, using the latter to supplement the deficiencies of the former, and the former to give the latter that 'pastoral simplicity' on which he laid so much store in his songs, and which to us, though we might think of a better terminology, gives his work its highest excellence and in fact is the secret of his genius. For though the essence of his style is simplicity, it is never flat or insipid. It is alive, vibrant, and in an indefinable way assertive and challenging, 'rivan the words to gar them clink' as he says to his brother poet, Davie. Think for instance of the lines that have now become memorable and proverbial: 'To step aside is human'; 'What's done we partly may compute, but know not what's resisted'; 'Man's inhumanity to man'; 'The true pathos and sublime of human life'; 'Contented wi' little and cantie wi' mair'; 'Facts are chiels that winna ding'; 'If honest Nature made you fools, what sairs your grammar?'; 'The rank is but the guinea-stamp, the man's the gowd for a' that'; 'When man to man the warld o'er shall brithers be'; 'The heart ay's the part ay, that makes us right or wrang'; 'O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us to see oursels as others see us'; 'The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley'; 'The mair they talk I'm kent the better'; 'Liberty's in every blow'; 'Nae man can tether time nor tide'; 'Kings may


David Murison

be blest but Tam was glorious.' If we look at one of the outstanding examples of Burns's mixed mode, 'The Jolly Beggars,' we can see at once this patchwork of dialects and styles, the Scots of the narrator and of the Highland widow and the fiddler, the mixed diction of the tinkler and the bard, the slangy English of the soldier and his trull, and in the climax the solemn, almost liturgical English of the unison chorus, a kind of anthem of the dispossessed. So far so good. It is when he starts to imitate the wrong models, the odes and addresses and elegies and fictitious pastorals and all the rest of the theoretical machinery of pseudo-Classicism, and to work up a pose of 'sensibility' which was really alien to his origin and way of life that he goes agley. Scott put it truly and succinctly: [Burns] never seems to have been completely at his ease when he had not the power of descending at pleasure into that which was familiar to his ear, and to his habits ... His use of the English was voluntary, and for a short time; but when assumed as a primary and indispensable rule of composition, the comparative penury of rhimes, and the want of a thousand emphatic words which his habitual acquaintance with the Scottish supplied, rendered his expression confined and embarrassed/ 0 Fortunately his lapses are few and unimportant, his triumphs are now an indissoluble part of Scotland's heritage.

Fortunately his lapses are few and unimportant, his triumphs are now an indissoluble part of Scotland's heritage.

NOTES 1. Gavin Greig, Folk-Song in Buchan and Folk-Song of the North-East (Hatboro, PA: Folklore Associates, 1963). 2. J. De Lancey Ferguson ed., The Letters of Robert Burns, 2 vols (Oxford: Clarendon, 1931): I, 109. 3. All quotations follow James Kinsley ed., The Poems and Songs of Robert Burns, 3 vols (London: Oxford UP, 1968). 4. See Scott Douglas Poet. Works of Robert Burns (1893): I, 391. 5. Letters II: 268, 148. 6. Letters II: 268. 7. O. Ritter, Quellenstudien zu Robert Burns 1773-1791 (Berlin: Mayer & Muller, 1901); Erich Schwebsch, Schottische Volkslyrik in J. Johnson's Scots Musical Museum (Berlin: Mayer & Muller, 1920). 8. Letter to Dr Currie, 28 September 1799, printed in the Burns Chronicle (1925): 12. 9. From 'The Genius and Character of Burns', an essay by J. Wilson ('Christopher North') preceding The Works of Robert Burns, 2 vols. (Glasgow, 1847). 10. Sir Walter Scott, from an unsigned article in the Quarterly Review (February, 1809). Cited in Donald A. Low ed., Robert Burns: The Critical Heritage (London: RKP, 1974): 208.

Have with you to Lexington! The Beowulf Manuscript and Beowulf Johan Gerritsen


Though I do not pretend to be a complete anglist, my plan in this study is to present some small, true, facts and to look where they lead. The facts concern Beowulf and its manuscript, and they lead to a closer view of this manuscript's history and to the thought (hardly a novel one) that it was produced as an integral codex whose inmates all had an earlier history. Though most of the facts are not new, they represent an independent study of the codex over many years, in conjunction with the study of a number of other manuscripts in the same and other collections. Only in this way can one see one's facts in context, and realize that the manuscript is unique in virtually nothing except its scribes, and some of its texts. Among the principal witnesses will be one of those minor inhabitants of Creation, an insignificant worm. Much has been written of late on the date of the poem, the most notable and at the same time, it must be feared, the least scholarly work on the matter being the book by Dr Kevin Kiernan, 1 in which he claims that the poem was the work of Scribe B, and therefore hardly older than its carrier. Claims, not proves, for regrettably, contrary to what the conclusion of his preface suggests, it is a case lawyer's plea, presenting the evidence to an impressionable jury rather than setting it out in clear detail for a sober and dispassionate judge. Apparently not meant as a hoax, 2 it is best considered a work of, admittedly well-written, fiction. I shall accordingly state my own case and only notice Dr Kiernan's work where his views might be thought to stand in my way. There is no denying that, as one expects from the genre, some truth can be found in his book, but it confirms more strongly than most one's experience that there is wisdom in taking nothing on trust. 2. THE SCRIBES AND THEIR WORK

a. Preliminary Analysis of the distribution of hair and flesh, of the incidence of the ruling, and of the variations in the ruling grid, proves a collation formula for the MS:


Johan Gerritsen 110 26 3-118 12-13'° 148 (fols 94-209 of the composite codex)

Beowulf begins on fol. 132,3 accordingly on the seventh leaf of an eightleaf quire; we must therefore conclude that it was copied as an integral part of the codex, and may now ask what it was copied from. For this we shall examine certain aspects of the work of its two scribes A and B, again confining ourselves to the elements necessary for an understanding of the problem in hand. As B succeeds A about two-thirds through Beowulf, they must have worked in the same scriptorium, and the whole book, in its original form, must have been prepared there as a single volume, not as two or more individual book(let)s. Besides the general facts that we have no two distinct Old English manuscripts of any size of this or an earlier period written, if only partly, by the same primary scribe (see Ker, Catalogue, lvii), and that given the manner of transmission of Old English manuscripts to our day, the chances of two, let alone three such separate works from a single scriptorium coming together again within the same covers at some later period must be even more remote, there is internal evidence to be discussed presently. Also, B's succeeding A in Beowulf need not imply linear copying of the whole book: they probably worked on different parts of the volume concurrently until B had completed his stint. And we certainly need not, as has been thought, consider A's demise. His case is by no means unique (cf. e.g. Vitellius D. XVII at fol. 54: 21; Harley 107 at fol. 49: 2; etc.), and he may well have been put to other work when his colleague had completed his stint of the codex. A's hand is of a more modern type than B's, and he may thus have been younger, but his work in Beowulf has generally been recognized as superior. More important for us, however, than the temporal character of his hand is the fact that its set was narrower, so that he got more characters into the same space. It is therefore no surprise to find that B's independent quire in Judith is ruled with a wider text frame than most of Scribe A's quires and that after taking over in Beowulf he soon enlarges the text frame. A's widest text frames occur in Marvels, where they are nearly as wide as B's in Judith', his narrowest, 10-15mm narrower than those in Marvels, are found in Alexander's Letter and Beowulf There is accordingly no argument to be deduced from the frames that Judith did not originally belong to the codex: the salient point is the height of the frames. This does indeed vary by about 13mm throughout the codex, but it does so in no systematic way and irrespective of the number of lines ruled. Between the earliest quires preserved of our two scribes there is hardly any difference. They have the shortest frames in the codex, and this accordingly suggests that the two scribes did in fact begin independently at two different points. If, as has been suggested, B began at quire 12

Have with you to Lexington!


and finished with quire 11, we must suppose that A started working towards B's initial height and B towards A's. It needs less special pleading to suppose that B finished Beowulf after completing Judith. Variation in the number of lines on the page is confined to Beowulf, elsewhere, except for an extra word on 209 and two copying accidents, it is always 20. b. Faithfulness to Copy 1. Language An essential question to be asked next is how accurate, i.e. how faithful to copy these scribes were. Scribes, like compositors, are basically supposed to follow copy unquestioningly, but while a typesetting author or editor is a rarity, a writing one is not, and even compositors sometimes have a mind to 'improve' their copy. An important answer to this question was made long ago by Rypins when answering Ten Brink. While showing that where eo/io were concerned Ten Brink's position was untenable, he confirmed that in one point it was undeniably sound, and that point is that the Cotton MS. Vitellius A xv is not the original Beowulf text, but a transcription of an earlier copy. This is shown, if by nothing else, by the dissimilarity of the four pieces in the hand of the first Beowulf scribe. Obviously, when two texts such as the St. Christopher fragment and Alexander's Letter are markedly different in linguistic features, and are written by a single scribe, that scribe is not composing but simply copying. And the improbability of the scribe's having copied out three pieces and then having proceeded to write an epic of his own, is so great as to be unworthy of serious consideration. That there existed an earlier copy of Beowulf than that in the Cotton MS. may, therefore, be unhesitatingly accepted. (Rypins, xxvi-xxvii)

The same point was later made, more explicitly, by Sisam. The features referred to by Rypins are instanced, apart from dialectal considerations, by such cases as the pronoun for the third person plural, which in its uninfected form shows three hig in Christopher besides three hi and four hie\ shows a large preponderance of hy (54) in Marvels with eight hi and one hio but no hie or hig; except for one hi shows hie throughout in Alexander's Letter (134); and shows hie as the preponderant form in both scribes in Beowulf (forty-eight in A and eleven in B), with some hy (four and six respectively) and hi (three and six respectively), and three hig in Scribe A only, while hio/heo is exclusively feminine singular. Similarly we have invariable (and rather unusual) cyningc as the uninfected form in Christopher alone (thirteen cases); while Alexander's Letter has fourteen kyning{-), one kyne-, and two kyn- (for cynn-), besides seven cyning(-) and thirteen other cyn(n)-. Marvels has two cyning-, and just one single k (wxlkyrging); Scribe A has two kyning versus nineteen cyning in Beowulf, Scribe B three kyning versus sixteen cyning, neither has k in cynn,


Johan Gerritsen

and there is not a single k in Judith. An interesting case is the oblique me/mec. Christopher has only the form without c; in Marvels, wholly thirdperson, there is no first-person pronoun; Alexander's Letter and Beowulf have both forms, that without c predominating. But in Alexander's Letter twelve of the thirty-three c have been erased. The corresponding usic also occurs in Beowulf (four) and Alexander's Letter (five) only. This sort of distribution should suffice to argue that, whether the exemplars were in one manuscript or in different manuscripts, there was an underlying pattern in which they differed, a pattern reflecting different origins, transmissional histories, or both, and one which these scribes followed. But this is not to say that every form stood in its exemplar just as it now stands in Nowell, for scribes, like compositors, may have preferred spellings which they may superimpose, and may tolerate certain spellings, while not tolerating yet others. It also means that they are faithful to all but the most obvious and the most unobtrusive literal errors of the exemplar and that this is in no way a sign of negligence. The vast majority of scribes treat their copy with respect and should so be treated themselves. They try to ensure accuracy and will generally go to any trouble to correct their own mistakes, but being human, they will make mistakes and will not notice them at all. Paradoxically, a text they find difficult may sometimes show fewer mistakes than an easy one, because they remain more alert, have more to puzzle out, and will check what they have written more thoroughly against the exemplar. In a hard text in particular, a good scribe faced with something he does not understand will write precisely what he thinks he has in front of him. But hard texts are often old texts, and may already have accrued a crop of errors he can do nothing about. Textually, what he writes may therefore be wrong, even nonsense, but as a transcript it will be correct. 4 2. Capitals The evidence from distribution of spellings can further be supplemented by a different type of evidence not heretofore considered from this angle, viz. the text capitals. There is again variation between the texts, to the extent that Beowulf, Alexander's Letter, and less strictly Christopher have two levels of capitals (viz. a lower level of normal text height and generally made with single strokes, and a higher of greater height and frequently made with double outline strokes wholly or partly filled in) while Judith and Marvels have mainly the second type. This second type is only lineinitial and heads paragraphs, fitts, etc.; the first can occur in any position. In Nowell no special pens appear to have been used. We shall look only at some, because in the first place there are not a great many (only S is really frequent, though the various 'Th' forms

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combined make a very good second), and in the second place because most of them show no formal variation worth mentioning. Scribe B uses rather fewer of them than Scribe A. Once again it is useful to look at the distribution of forms, here at that of the 'Th' forms. To begin with, there is not one of them at the lower level in Beowulf, though this has nine £> and one P among the large fitt initials. Otherwise P occurs in the prose texts only, but occurs in all of them; of the Thet forms, however, -D is found only in Marvels. Alexander's Letter uses exclusively a majuscule form of 5\ Christopher does not have either. Confirmation again, if confirmation were needed, that Scribe A is following copy from three (ultimately) different exemplars. There are two other capitals that are of interest, but from a different angle, viz. M and N. Scribe A has two M in Christopher, a square roman type on 94v: 18 and a rustic one on 97: 6. The same rustic type occurs on 109v: 7 in Alexander's Letter, and that is the last we see of either, for in Beowulf he uses the uncial form throughout. N is a similar story. There is a square one with a tag to the second limb in Marvels (100: 20). In Alexander's Letter there are four N (107*: 9; 108: 5; 110: 1; 131: 9), but these are rather of rustic type, though with a first limb extending well below the line of writing. In Beowulf neither of these N appears: there are four N of square type without any tag, but with the line of writing going roughly through the centre (132v: 13, 17; 134: 16; 147: 1). The type is in itself not unusual, but the execution of all four is peculiar, both compared with Scribe A's earlier practice and compared with what we find elsewhere. Lastly there is an uncial TV at 169: 19. The large fitt initials tell a similar story. Though Beowulf shares with the earlier texts the execution of these initials in simple solid black, it has a number, like the H opening the poem, which are in part or in whole executed in double outline, the inner outline being made more decorative by round or pointed excrescences (i.e. H 137v, 143, 153; D 147, 151, 155v; apparently S 160v). We find this only once elsewhere in the codex, in Marvels (102: 3), which has 25 large marginal capitals (and may have had more). In Beowulf all the fitt initials similarly stand in the margin, before the text, but in most, though not all cases they, like the black variety, are followed by one or more one-line capitals. The large black initials occur, in varying sizes, throughout the MS. In Marvels the text is structured in such a way that nearly all the capitals, also what would otherwise be the lower level text ones, are line-initial, and like the large capitals they are then always in the margin. In Alexander's Letter we now see that the first text initial (C 107: 8), which happens also to be line-initial, is in the margin, while none of the others is. It would seem then that here Scribe A was carrying on an arrangement of


Johan Gerritsen

his previous copy-text, and discontinued it because his present copy-text did not have it. If so, they should have been in the same exemplar. We already saw that in most, though by no means in all cases, Scribe A followed on with one or more one-line capitals after a (two- or threeline) fitt-initial capital. These capitals are generally of the square type that we see at the opening of the poem, but not always. Thus the -D of the first fitt is followed by a rustic A. Scribe B begins by following this practice, i.e. of having follow-on capitals, but he has a square one only on 184, he has an uncial E on 176, 186, and 187v, a large anglicana minuscule a on 192v and 193v, while the I certainly and the g possibly on 190v also seem intended for capitals. In the eight other cases he dispenses with them. In Judith Scribe B employs only two fitt-initial three-line capital H, solid except for an open arrow-head terminal to the second stroke (202: 19; 205: 13), one large capital S (207v: 12), a text / (204: 12), and two text S (202v: 13; 203v: 18). From these observations it would then appear that the Beowulf copytext was homogeneous with respect to capitalization, that each of the preceding texts was so far as we can tell transcribed from a homogeneous copy-text, and that the scribes were inclined to follow copy also in the matter of capitalization (though B perhaps less so than A). This being so, two things follow. The first is that Scribe A would never have given Unferth a large fitt-initial capital H if there had not been one in his exemplar. If R.D. Fulk is right that the name is in fact Unferth, this means that, if we may hypothesize a written tradition throughout, our present manuscript is at the very least a fourth copy, coming from an exemplar with H, coming from an exemplar with h, coming from an exemplar without h. If the h came from oral delivery, our MS would still be the fourth known stage, but the first stage would have been oral. This argument tells us little about the time involved, but there is, as we said, another thing that follows. Scribe B, no great capitalist by any reckoning, has for his only N two semiuncial capitals on 197: 10 and 198: 6, of a square type that is not unknown in our period, but is distinctly rare. Coupled with the fact of Scribe A's N being unusual in another way, both in the MS context and in a wider one, this suggests two different reactions to a copy-text N of an antiquated type that the two scribes, although they did correctly interpret it, did not quite know how to render for the modern reader. 3. Errors That Beowulf already had a considerable history behind it might also appear from an analysis of the errors found in the poem. And though this does not bear out the impression that both in quantity and in quality they make the poem unique in its codex, it does provide some interesting insights.

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As such an analysis is not without its problems, some preliminary remarks must precede. A major dichotomy that should be applied is between the errors which the scribes themselves discovered and corrected, and those they made or copied but did not correct. The first category can provide a certain index of their care, the second is more problematic in this respect. To begin with, we have no other text, and so no way of achieving certainty that there is an error, let alone what it is. Secondly, even assuming that there is one, we do not know to whom to impute it. For the first category we can at most lack certainty what the original error was, how it arose, and what was the authority for the correction; but we do know that a professional employed on reproducing the text considered that it did not sufficiently match the exemplar and brought it (or thought he was bringing it) into line. In Nowell the number of such corrections that has been noted is in the region of 230. For the second category we are largely dependent on intelligent guesswork prompted by our finding deficiencies in the verse, by our not understanding the meaning of the text, or by our considering that though we do understand meanings, there is a clash between them. There is thus always the chance that it is merely our lack of familiarity with the subject that is at work, but on the other hand it is not very likely that this would be the case in all or even in the majority of instances where competent scholars have suggested corruption. Particularly where the verse is involved it would appear that no amount of special pleading can argue away some observed facts, viz. that three lines (403, 1803, 2792) have a complete on-verse or off-verse wanting, and twenty-three lack a whole stave, eight of them (240, 586, 954, 2251, 2298, 2941, 3000, 3136) the head-stave. All in all some 240 errors at least have been suggested, though the majority of these are literals. But as already indicated, it does not follow that these two hundred and forty, or even the majority of them, should be laid at the doors of Scribes A and B. A good scribe does not read a text as a text: the more he does, the more wrong assumptions and the more errors he will make; in this respect he precisely resembles his modern successors, the good typist and the good compositor. If, therefore, his exemplar contains errors, he is likely to copy them, the more exactly as he less understands his text. An analysis of the errors the scribes themselves discovered and corrected in fact presents the usual picture of conscientious copyists, but it also shows a much higher incidence of error in Beowulf than in some of the other four works. Clearly, the scribes found the poem difficult, notably more so than Judith. The same is true of the incidence of errors suggested by later scholars, and this does not appear to be a function of the much more thorough study of this poem compared with the other works in the codex.




T h a t B went over the whole text of Beowulf after he had done was logical, since he was the last to use the exemplar, but it was apparently thought necessary (as it was not, it would seem, for the other four). Beowulf, at least, has the highest figures of all for scribal correction. Even so, B tolerated a great deal that it is difficult to accept as authoritative, and the idea that he will have tolerated it because it was in the exemplar will not account for everything. Reading the texts as they stand in the manuscript, the reader is rarely pulled up short by Judith and the prose texts, whereas in Beowulf he constantly runs into problems. This should thus reflect more than just the difference between poetry and prose, the more so as neither the prose texts nor the two poems are homogeneous in this respect. Rather, it should present us with an interesting Cardinal M o r t o n ' s fork: either the errors we find were largely in the copy-text, which, then as now, argues for a long transmission history, or they were not, which argues for a text with which both scribes were so out of touch that it must have been quite an old one. In fact both prongs of the fork may well be true.

Ratios of Errors in the Nowell Codex Texts Total

% Christopher Marvels Letter Beowulf A B Judith

13.1 11.9 6.3 14.7 13.4 16.6 8.8

Number 23 25 61 412 232 189 29





5.1 2.9 3.9 6.1

8.0 9.0 3.4 8.5

6.1 6.2

7.4 10.4 2.8

MS Lines 175 210 967 2812 1727 1085



Marvels reduced to full MS lines; Beowulf corrected for 33 virtually empty lines. T h e prose works corrected for Rypins' dd - A ' s dd - and misdivision, features not generally noticed (rightly) by the poetic editors. T o get an accurate - and higher - figure for B one would have to allow for the 63 lines on 182 plus 201 v , since on account of their condition these have been left out of consideration where literals and other minor errors were concerned.

The principal data have been assembled in the accompanying table. The figures should not, of course, be taken as absolute, but the underlying readings as well as the individual texts as wholes have been analysed for the purpose, and have been corrected insofar as the data were editorially slanted differently. If Judith or Alexander's Letter show low figures, that agrees with the experience that they can be read through without halting. The Letter, in particular, reads like the paper (in the silly season, but still), and its figures as a whole are the lowest for the volume, even though they are still slanted by the fact that after it was written someone, and

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probably not one of the scribes, erased twelve c in mec, evidently correctly representing the exemplar. Without this feature its overall ratio is 5.1 and that for scribal correction 2.7. It seems plain from the figures that Beowulf ranges with Christopher and Marvels in degree of corruption and therefore probably in difficulty and/or age. It also seems plain that Scribe B, far from being the author, was the less reliable copyist of the two. His unhappiness with proper names is striking, and one can only marvel who or what he thought mere wio ingasmilts was. Their rates of correction differ little, with B's perhaps marginally better since he corrected part of A's work, but his ratio of uncorrected is much higher than his ratio of corrected errors, in Beowulf as in Judith. A's figures in Beowulf and Letter differ much less, which suggests again that the clear difference in the other two prose texts is due to these texts rather than to Scribe A. There is, however, another side to this matter of errors, which is admittedly more chancy in the sense that it depends much more on personal judgement. There are a great number of errors, whether corrected or not, to which one can assign a cause with considerable certainty. The main class is contextual, i.e. the scribe was led by a visual or memorial stimulus from the immediate context to omit a form, or to write a form that did not belong in that shape in that place. Haplography and dittography are the best-known members of this class. Another is substitution, usually caused by trying to keep too much text in one's head at a time, and therefore greatly dependent on the method of copying. It may take the form of a whole word being replaced by a synonym, but also of one or a few characters being replaced by others from neighbouring words. This in turn shades into another category, graphic similarity, where a character in the exemplar is misinterpreted and accordingly miscopied, or, a special case, where repeating strokes are miscounted in writing such a word as minimum (minim error). Other causes are more individual and do not easily fall into particular classes. Occasionally these may shed further light on a text's history. Accordingly the whole list of corrected and supposed errors in the whole of Nowell has been scrutinized with this in mind, trying at the same time to avoid the pitfall of circularity. In the great majority of cases this provided no further illumination, but there were two exceptions. It became clear that what was said about Unferth in the capitals section can be supplemented with the observation that, capitalization apart, this is not an isolated case. In eight further instances (332, 1151, 1318, 1541, 2094, 2916, 2929, 2972, so four in the stint of either scribe) editors have, with good reason, argued for the deletion of an initial h, and in four (312, 1194, 1868, 3157) for its suppletion. 5 As the scribes probably said the text to be copied to themselves there can be no clear argument for an oral stage here, but


Johan Gerritsen

when it is further observed that in this manuscript the phenomenon is strictly confined to Beowulf, there might be. The other exception is the observation that there are seven cases, again confined to Beowulf, of confusion between a and u. Where this is a matter of endings, and particularly of endings involving a nasal titulus, these should be dismissed from further consideration as such confusion can occur at any time. Of the three that remain, one, unhar for anhar (357), has the variation in the prefix, and is accepted as authentic by some editors. This is not the case with the other two, emended as early as 1820 by Grundtvig, which have it in the stem vowel: wudu for wadu (581) and strode for strude (3073). Even here, both scribes are represented. Both MS readings are genuine. Wrenn, in his textual note, indeed observed that in the case of MS strode 'this a (opened at top) very little differs from u' but this ignores the ductus. Scribe B's a regularly has (as here) a very thin hairstroke to form the top of a, but unlike his u it has (as here) no club-like serif to its first downstroke. Given his own habit he would accordingly be attentive to the formation of the two characters in his exemplar and not be likely to confuse them easily. Scribe A writes an a with a pointed head quite different from his u, so whatever he may have mistaken in his copy-text, he is unlikely to have put the wrong letter inadvertently, there being no suitable distractor in the environment. The emendations are both textually supported. Scribe A had already correctly written wado weallende in 546, Scribe B went on to copy hwa pcet hord strude correctly in 3126. Of the MS readings, wudu can make no possible sense, strode would require very special pleading. We should accordingly be entitled to suppose that the origin of these two mistakes lies ultimately in a type of script long out of use by our MS's time, in which openheaded a occurred, a character notorious for its easy confusibility with u. This is not to say that this script occurred in the immediate exemplar, only that it occurred somewhere in the line of transmission. But if so, it provides another argument for thinking that Beowulf must be somewhat older than the eleventh century. Zupitza, in his facsimile, already added a note to 581: 'wudu, not wadu, without the least doubt; an a open at the top does not occur so late in English MSS.' The remark is superfluous in the sense that the ductus of this u is once again not that of openheaded a, but true enough as a reminder that if open-headed a was in the transmission history of Beowulf we should at least think back to the ninth century. 6

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a. Preliminary Our earliest information about the codex consists of Laurence Nowell's ownership inscription on present fol. 94, its first surviving leaf, dated 1563. As the final lines of Judith have been added in a late hand on fol. 209v, it is probable that the following leaf also reached him, but there is no evidence that anything else belonging to the codex did. Two quires at the minimum must therefore have been wanting, and there is every likelihood that this is a clear underestimation. Other quires must have been loose (3 and 4) or completely disbound (1): Cotton's order of binding evidences as much. Of an earlier binding nothing is known, and nothing need have reached Nowell. How or where he came by the remnant is unknown, and all we can at present hope to learn further must therefore come from internal evidence. In what follows, two aspects will be discussed: the worm-holes in the last Beowulf quire and the freshening up of fols 182 and 201v. The worms can tell us something about the earlier history; the freshening up has been claimed to do so. b. Worms It has been claimed that the worm-holes in fols 192 to 201 prove that Beowulf was at some time at the end of the codex, and that Judith did not therefore originally follow it. This view needs reconsidering. Since all worm-holes have their largest sizes in 201, the worms must have come in from, and after pupation left at, that end. There are five that are shown by their form to be due to larvae of the death-watch beetle; the other holes are due to other causes, mainly the binding process. Four of the five terminate in regular fashion before the beginning of the quire. The fifth and largest one, however, starting at slightly over 2mm, is still a millimetre wide in 192, yet leaves no hole in 191 or any trace of a pupation chamber on its verso. The fact that the worms came in from the back, and that four of the five holes come to an end within this quire, the first worm pupating as early as 200, suggests that at the time of the infestation there may have been one or more further quires on this side. Since the largest one never comes to a natural end at all, 191 cannot have been next to it at the time, and in fact no other extant leaf of the manuscript or of its Vitellius neighbours can, for none shows the required continuation. The quire must therefore have been separate from its MS when the worms attacked it, and considering the animals' natural life-cycle must have been so for a longish period. 7




Since the quire is not an independent booklet, it seems unlikely that it could have been allowed to lie in the conditions and for the time required to produce the hole, and still be successfully united with its manuscript afterwards, for it has been transmitted to us together with that. The time of writing accordingly drops out of consideration, for quite apart f r o m the unlikelihood that the scriptorium would expose its work in progress to an attack by bookworms, the time of preparation would not have sufficed for the infestation, particularly considering how late a quire it is anyway. This places the attack at a much later period, when the manuscript had fallen out of favour, and in fact implies that the manuscript must have been pulled, disbound, and cannibalized. This argues some time at any rate before Laurence Nowell. In this connection it is interesting to note that D r Kiernan (plates 12ab, pp. 15657), claims that corresponding tears in 192 and 201 show that this bifolium was pulled from its quire (a conclusion the present writer would not care to uphold on these grounds), but it is perhaps more germane to the argument that one would come to a similar conclusion anyway by observing that where problems in the MS d o not affect whole quires at a time, the leaves involved are all of them outsides of quires. The order of leaves in the old foliation of 91-100 similarly allows of no rational reconstruction of the first quire unless one assumes that its five bifolia were loose, though here Nowell, putting his name on the leaf numbered 93 after the fire, still put it on the first extant text leaf. We may now remember that we lack, not merely the beginning of the first text in the codex, Christopher, but also all Judith except for its final quire, or most of it (for there is every likelihood that it was a ten). D r Kiernan likes to think that the poem as we have it is virtually complete, though two independent lines of argument (which he dismisses), f r o m the fitt numbers and from the Bible story, agree reasonably in the original length they fix for the poem. His idea that it did not belong to this manuscript at all ignores the fact that it was transmitted to us with the rest of Vitellius A.xv, is in the hand of the second of its scribes, and uses the same format. The unlikelihood of this being a fortuitous recombination has already been discussed above. Taking things together, the hypothesis seems inevitable that the manuscript was in fact at some later time disbound and cannibalized, and that what came into Nowell's hands was a disbound manuscript of which four opening items were still more or less available plus what may have been the final quire of the last one except possibly for its first, outside, leaf. How much was wanting f r o m the codex, initially, medially, and finally, we cannot, however, know; all we have are the fitt numbers in Judith, which show that nine fitts (whether or not of this poem, but note that they do not continue those of Beowulf) had been copied before it. It is

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quite possible that Scribe B's original stint was meant to be as much work as Scribe A's, with the whole of Beowulf being in the latter's, or it might have been shorter, estimated to occupy as much time as A took for his part as we have it. But in particular it seems reasonable to think that the damage to be observed on such leaves as 182 and 201 stems from this period when the codex was disbound. (Dr Boyle's rainy window-sill is by no means the only candidate.) There is, in fact, no good reason to think otherwise, though it is true that some other Cottonian books show comparable damage less easy to account for. c. Fols 182 and 201" 1. Preliminary Since such extravagant claims have been made about it, we may still have a look at fol. 182 and, in conjunction with it, fol. 201v. That fol. 182 is not a palimpsest, at least not in the usual sense of the word, would appear from the fact that there is not really any place where the hypothesis can be refuted that whoever went over the text a second time tried to restore what, by his lights, he thought he could read of the original text, and left the rest severely alone. Just what did happen is another matter. Dr Kiernan's invocation of Dr Westphalen for his (Dr Kiernan's) theories does no justice to the careful if misguided work of a thoughtful scholar. Nor has sufficient weight been given to the fact that the two pages with really bad damage, 182 and 20 l v , are outsides of quires. It may not be possible at this present juncture to determine with certainty what is original inscription and what is secondary. But it is a fact that whoever wrote last on these three pages tried to go over the old traces pretty accurately (whether to restore the page, or to practise the script, or both); it is also a fact that he did not always manage, and that he did not quite know, or at least use, the correct original formation of all the letters involved. 2. Scholarship The matter has been discussed, in one way or another, by various scholars, most carefully by Dr Westphalen. Having reviewed and then cumulated the opinions of these earlier scholars, he was left, as the only way out, with the hypothesis that the freshening up had been done by Scribe B himself. An exhaustive analysis of the scripts then convinced him that this was so, a conclusion gratefully snapped up and pursued to the death by Dr Kiernan. The principal points in which Dr Westphalen found Scribe B's hand had changed he summarized, with respect to fol. 182, as follows:


Johan Gerritsen Die Buchstaben auf f. 182 sind ausgeschriebener, runder, geschmeidiger, jedenfalls weniger kantig und winklig-exact. Z u m Teil erscheinen sie ö k o n o m i s c h e r in kürzeren, häufig gänzlich fehlenden Haarstrichen im An- u n d Absatz eines Buchstaben ... , fließender in der V e r b i n d u n g ... , wesentlich schlanker, j a ausgesprochen mager ... , spitzer im Ansatz von Schattenstrichen ..., unpräziser im Z u s a m m e n f ü g e n von Strichen. (Westphalen, p. 59, examples omitted)

For fol. 20 l v he concluded to the same hand, a few years earlier. Dr Westphalen's analysis of the script is exemplary, his conclusions with respect to it as summarized above, but also in detail, are unexceptionable, and one can only genuinely admire his thoroughness. 8 The weak point is in his premiss that a much later hand could not have been at work. It is only when this is admitted that Scribe B can come into the picture and that Dr Westphalen's conclusions in this respect could become compelling. For of course, in freshening up another man's writing, one will adopt certain of the characteristics of his hand, more as one better knows it. And the features summarized above in which the two hands differ are also entirely credible as the result of a certain ignorance of such characteristics or an inability or disinclination to reproduce them. If one merely tries to restore a text's legibility there is no reason why one should imitate the minutiae of the ductus, precisely the features that give the hand its character and that are hardest to learn. It is therefore time for some basics. 3. Set Hands The basic error into which Dr Westphalen fell (through accepting the verdict of A.H. Smith) is in viewing the matter from a present-day standpoint. The scripts to which we are most accustomed are rapid cursives, but we have no such in Beowulf. Scribe B, as his work shows, was clearly a professional, and the hand he employed here was a set book hand. As a professional, as Master Herman Strepel (if rather later) demonstrates to this day, one may have a great variety of these at one's disposal, but they are set hands, i.e. formal hands written consistently after a model. Now in set hands one does not vary, or not a great deal. An occasional 'wrong' form, from another model, may occur, but it will not be consistently introduced. If a certain set hand becomes too antiquated for use, one does not monkey about with it but switches to a better model. But, as Dr Westphalen has made only too clear, this is precisely what does not happen on fols 182 and 20 l v . Smith's argument against freshening up on these folios was based on present-day experience with present-day cursives: 'there did not seem to be that hesitation and lack of coincidence usually associated with freshening up, forgery, and the like' [emphasis added]. In fact there are enough instances of the new character almost, but

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not quite, coinciding with the earlier one, but the main point is that we are faced with a set hand, not with current script. Hesitation and lack of coincidence are what one must expect when tracing over a cursive script of a rapid type, such as most modern writing hands are. It is not what one need expect in the case of a set book hand as here. If one has the necessary experience of the script, has a properly mended pen of the correct width and cut (left oblique), 9 and knows the ductus, particularly the little twists of the pen that are precisely the features in which the second hand failed, one can do a virtually perfect job except in those rare places where one's hand gets in between the eye and the target, and the formation of the original character happens to be not quite what one has come to expect. Those who wish can test it out easily enough on photostats. This is not so much what we today call writing, as lettering, and its production conditions are of a sort that facilitates reproduction enormously. One expects some lack of coincidence, but not a great deal, and on the Beowulf leaves there is in fact some, and in fact not a great deal. On 182 the verso is worse than the recto. Examples are recto 2 heold, where the top of the old d is where it belongs, below the too high new one; weard 3, with the new d to the left of the old; verso 12, where wunode, besides being a mess, shows the top part of old w above the new one, and the g of gearo, like that above it in 11, has the curl partly duplicated. The hasta of p in pees 10 and peer 14 stands to the right of the old one, the bottom of the downstroke of / in of (bottom line) stands below the fresh one. Another thing that experience shows is that it is easy to mistake letters and words even though one knows the language, and in fact the poem, because one is working one letter at a time. An example is the virtual p beginning weard in recto 3. Moreover, if one has the intention of only freshening up what one can read, and leaving the rest alone, there is little incentive to look at words and none to look at meanings. Where part of the writing is the untouched original, it may also be virtually impossible, after a while, to determine with the human eye who wrote what, or how much was rewritten. 10 4. Freshening up It is not superfluous to observe that freshening up of early manuscripts is nothing out of the ordinary, but happened all over Europe. In support of what was said in the previous paragraph we may briefly look at a good example in another Old English manuscript, only two shelves away from its contemporary Nowell, Vitellius C.v, jElfric's first series of homilies. Besides 'imitative copies' of fols 1 and 4-5/9 done, probably in the sixteenth century, by someone apparently better versed in a later type of script,




this contains self-evident freshening up on fols 177v, 179v, 199, and 217 v 18. A comparison of the last pair is instructive. Apart f r o m the damage done by the 1731 fire the leaf is in good condition, but the text is weak. The retoucher was evidently concerned to restore it, rather than to practise the hand. This is clear f r o m the frequency with which he touches up only parts of letters (e.g. the / of Fela 217 v : 19) or does not touch up one or two letters in words otherwise completely redone. The original hand differs in several respects f r o m Scribe B's, and the retoucher tries to follow it exactly, so that the possibility of direct comparison is limited, but like B's it shows clear chisel-like oblique off-strokes to descenders. As in Nowell, the retoucher mostly stops short of these, but where he does not his offstrokes, again like those in Nowell, are curved. There are absolutely no traces of hesitation, but (again as in Beowulf) lack of coincidence is not hard to find, though rarely obtrusive. Qualitatively, the retouchings in the two manuscripts are absolutely on a par. Since in Vitellius C.v part of it was burnt off it is also evident that the freshening u p took place before the fire. The freshening up on 199, though apparently less extensive, has been similarly well done, but that on 177v and 179v, of which there is very little, is extremely clumsy and ought to be another man's work. Though there seems no reason to think (and no way to prove) that the same retoucher was at work in the two manuscripts, the present case does illustrate what was said above about the feasibility. It is also evident that if such a freshening u p operation was undertaken, it must have been done at a time when the text or script was valued, i.e. either in late Old English or in Early Modern English times. That the original scribe could have done what D r Kiernan wants him to have done, scrubbed a leaf clean and rewritten the text thirty years after, is of course possible, but one imagines that even the scribe himself would have thought it absurd. He would have cut the leaf out and replaced it. But in fact the corrections that even D r Kiernan claims were made to the text on this leaf are so few that any scribe in his right mind would have used the appropriate attributes visible in every picture of a scribe that we have, and simply erased and rewritten the offending elements. The new errors, moreover, are quite a few, and it is hard to imagine anybody proceeding in this fashion anyway, erasing a text without having a (wax, if one likes) copy of the new text, and then producing that text in this clumsy and unsightly fashion. 5. Whodunit Of those known to have handled the manuscript, Wanley and Nowell certainly had both the skill and the interest, but they were far f r o m the only possibles. Nowell, in particular, having owned the manuscript and

Have with you to Lexington!


having been both competent and prolific in Old English script, seems a likely candidate. Let us therefore examine his candidature a little more closely. That he was an experienced writer of the script before he acquired the codex now named from him, in 1563, is evident from BL MS Add. 43703. This bears his ownership inscription, dated 1562, on fol. 2 and claims to be autograph on fol. 264v. It shows a rapid Old English script clearly evidencing a man accustomed to rapid cursive. Taking this into account, one can say that his letter formations are reasonably correct, but except for clubbed ascenders they show no formal features. A more formal script occurs in another of his works, now Henry Davis M30/59 in the British Library. 11 This has the Laws of King Alfred in Old English script on the versos, with a facing translation in his italian hand on the rectos, and has headings or incipits in colours (red, blue, some green) and gold. It is plain that the writer is accustomed to a more rapid script, for he repeatedly lapses into more cursive forms (such as his characteristic ligature long s+t), though invariably recollecting himself again. Ascenders are clubbed; descenders are not differentiated as long and short and have no off-strokes, but single and letter-final minims generally have rounded serifs. The cross-strokes of i n s u l a r / a r e often circle segments; u is a one-trace script character, not two minims; a is roundheaded, its second limb at a variable angle and occasionally straight; the bowl of g is always open and low. The most remarkable feature is his tall e, both by itself and in combinations: its bowl is mostly a high loop not connected to the stem, and the tongue is frequently absent; the small variety is a vertical bow with a (generally far too small) figure 2 at the top. The pen is cut almost straight and fairly fine, enabling him to write long s as a single trace instead of three. It will be clear that the identification of a retouching hand becomes harder as its work is more competent, and it should be evident that a comparison of Nowell's work as outlined above with what we see in his codex could not be expected to yield any really positive result. His long s resembles some that we see on 182, his a has the same formation as the retoucher's, but that is what we should expect from most writers of his day. The one correspondence to which this observation may not apply is the tall e. We quote Dr Westphalen: Besonders auffällig ist die völlige Degenerierung des auf anderen Folios meist so markanten e-Kopfes zu einer flüchtig hingeworfenen Schleife, des Rückens mit kräftiger Rechtsbiegung des Fußes und Haarstrichausläufer zu einer stumpf auslaufenden, allenfalls noch ansatzweise gekrümmten Geraden ohne Ausläufer und des Mittelstrichs in Endstellung von einer kräftigen, leicht geschlängelten, im Haarstrichausläufer aufwärts geschwungenen Zunge zu einem schwachen, kaum durchgeformten Appendix, der manchmal sogar ganz fehlt. (Westphalen, p. 59)

It could have been Nowell.


Johan Gerritsen

4. C O N C L U S I O N

On the evidence produced in this and the preceding study it seems reasonable to continue thinking that the manuscript was conceived and executed as an integral whole, and that the codicological evidence supports an origin of the text of Beowulf contained in it well before the eleventh century. It also seems reasonable to conclude that the manuscript reached Laurence Nowell in a dilapidated condition suggesting an earlier history that should account in a simple way for various features of its present condition, including a late attempt to restore some of its most illegible portions. And finally it should be said that, no matter how these results are judged by others - and I hope Professor Meier can at least accept them as a token of esteem and friendship - there could not have been any basis for them without the good offices, over many years, of many colleagues and librarians, and (before all) the staff, in all its echelons, of the Students' Room of the Department of Manuscripts in the British Museum and, later, Library.

NOTES 1. F o r this and other works referred to, see references. 2. W i t h o u t the preface, a statement like ' T h e f o r m mastun is a late N o r t h e r n spelling of the adjective, which the scribe evidently decided to give in the s t a n d a r d Late West Saxon f o r m ' (Kiernan, p. 242) would u n d o u b t e d l y encourage such a notion, particularly if one remembers that the f o r m does not yield any sense. But the present writer, t h o u g h not wholly unfamiliar with the field, fails to see any ulterior reference of the sort that makes such a book as Shakespeare's Other Anne so truly enjoyable. 3. The description of the manuscript on which this study is based is that of Gerritsen (1988). 4. It will be seen that the present writer differs f r o m D r Kiernan in believing t h a t messrs A and B were trained professional scribes concentrating on their j o b , not literary a m a t e u r s , scholars, or authors. 5. Ambivalent cases with etymological hr have been excluded. 6. As a f o o t n o t e to the Errors section some attention m a y p e r h a p s be given t o D r Boyle's suggestion (Chase, pp. 23-32) that the copying was page for page. The matter needs fuller t r e a t m e n t , but a few words may be said here. T o be at all feasible, page f o r page virtually implies line for line, and this in t u r n implies t h a t space lost t h r o u g h error must be quickly regained. The resultant crowding never appears, but we d o find excessive crowding where on this system it should be least expected, viz. at the end of Beowulf. On fol. 94 v there is an erased d i t t o g r a p h y of a line a n d one third. O n 116 there is a repeat (sid pan/siddari) f r o m recto to verso, arguing that A did not t u r n the leaf of his exemplar at t h a t spot. On 157 A had to erase a three-word d i t t o g r a p h y split over a line-end a n d caused by wees being both the first and the p e n u l t i m a t e w o r d of the line. On 196v B erases bennum a n d a d a p t s the beginning of seoc (this incidentally suggesting that in his exemplar the line r a n f r o m reste to siex), and carries on as if he had all the space in the world; but at the end of Beowulf it is only by crowding sixty-one-and-a-half verse lines o n t o the final leaf t h a t

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he manages to reach his target. Whether or not he copied these quires before quire 11 (which as argued above seems unlikely in itself), for a linear and paginary copy all this is quite incredible. What does seem possible is that the texts were cast off before copying: this provides a guide, but leaves it to the scribe how he adapts to it. 7. Cf. Norman Hickin, Bookworms (London, 1985). It may be noted that there is one similar hole in the first quire of Southwick, terminating with an eaten patch on the recto of its last leaf, and two in Judith. There is nothing to suggest any connection within A.xv, or outside it, with the neighbours. 8. This does not mean that the present writer invariably agrees: thus in dealing with p it is not simply that Dr Westphalen ignores sceapen (182v: 1); there is also a clear (and telling) difference with the ductus of Scribe B's p\ the retoucher begins the bowl with an upstroke (clear in sc[ea]pen recto 21), B with a short hair-stroke leading at once into a downward curve (contradicting the general idea of increasing economy of effort at the back of the development suggested). The width of the retoucher's pen varies, and if it had really been finer than B's there should have been far more lack of coincidence; what is clearly different is the cut, which is almost straight. Other similar points could be cited, but they do not really affect any issue. 9. I.e. cut at an angle so that the left tine is shorter than the right, but as B's often slightly backward-leaning ascenders show, held in the right hand. 10. If the British Library should come to have the MS re-restored, the opportunity ought to be taken to examine the whole MS carefully with whatever non-destructive analyses are then possible, including reflex spectography. On the other hand it is to be hoped that this process can wait till the present scholarly discussion is sufficiently exhausted to make it clear what questions must be asked. 11. This manuscript was brought to my attention, through his paper at the 1987 Toronto conference of ISAS, by Dr Carl T. Berkhout, whose further support and stimulating discussion I gratefully record.

REFERENCES Chase, Colin (ed.). 1981. The Dating of Beowulf. Toronto: Toronto UP. Clement, Richard W. 1984. 'Codicological Consideration in the Beowulf Manuscript.' Proceedings of the Illinois Medieval Association 13-27. Förster, Max. 1919. Die Beowulf-Handschrift. (Berichte über die Verhandlungen der Sächsischen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig, phil.-hist. Klasse, 71: 4). Leipzig: Teubner. Fulk, R.D. 1985. 'The Meaning of Unferth's Name' (Cambridge Conference, 247a). Quoted OE Newsletter 86: 1. Gerritsen, Johan. 1988. 'British Library MS Cotton Vitellius A.xv - A Supplementary Description.' ES 69, 293-302. Hickin, Norman. 1985. Bookworms. London: Sheppard. Hutcheson, W.J. Fraser. 1950. Shakespeare's Other Anne: A Short Account of the Life and Works of Anne Whateley or Beck, a Sister of the Order of St Clare, Who Nearly Married William Shakespeare in November 1582 A.D.. Glasgow: MacLellan. Ker, Neil R. 1957. Catalogue of Manuscripts Containing Anglo-Saxon. Oxford: Clarendon. Kiernan, Kevin S. 1981. 'Beowulf and the 'Beowulf Manuscript. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers UP. Malone, Kemp (ed.). 1963. The Nowell Codex (British Museum Cotton Vitellius A.XV. Second Manuscript), (Early English Manuscripts in Facsimile, 12). Copenhagen: Rosenkilde and Bagger.


Johan Gerritsen

Rypins, Stanley (ed.). 1924. Three Old English Prose Texts in MS. Cotton Vitellius A. xv, (.EETS, OS 161). L o n d o n : Milford. Smith, A . H . 1938. 'The P h o t o g r a p h y of Manuscripts.' London Medieval Studies I, 179-207. T i m m e r , B.J. (ed.). 2 1961. Judith. (Methuen's Old English Library). L o n d o n : Methuen. T o r k a r , Roland. 1986. ' C o t t o n Vitellius A. xv (pt. I) and the Legend of St Thomas.'' ES 67, 290-303. Westphalen, Tilman. 1967. Beowulf 3150-55: Tekstkritik und Editionsgeschichte. München: Fink. Zupitza, Julius (ed.). 2 1959. Beowulf. Reproduced in Facsimile from the Unique Manuscript British Museum MS. Cotton Vitellius A. xv. Second Edition, C o n t a i n i n g a New R e p r o d u c t i o n of the Manuscript, with an I n t r o d u c t o r y Note by N o r m a n Davis. (EETS, OS 245). L o n d o n : O U P for EETS. (First edition: L o n d o n : T r ü b n e r for EETS, 1882, EETS. OS 77).

Some problems in Washington, Library of Congress MS Faye-Bond 4 Betty Hill

MS Faye-Bond 4 is a composite volume of seventy-eight parchment leaves, with three front flyleaves and four end flyleaves, in an early nineteenthcentury binding. 1 The contents are Middle English prose. The first sixtythree folios are quired in eights (lacking an unfoliated leaf after folio 63). These sixty-three folios were written s.xv in, or even s.xiv/xv, by two contemporary scribes, whose dialect was that of West Essex. Their language and hands are preserved only here. The first scribe copied: 1. 2. 3.

Folios 1-36, a translation from French of the Rule of Saint Benedict, adapted for the use of nuns. Folios 36v-37v, 'Injunctions for Nuns.' Folios 37v-40v (completed by the second scribe on folios 41-63v), a translation from French of the Gospel of Nicodemus.

I have recently published this text of the Nicodemus with an Introduction. 2 I discuss here some problems in the work of the first scribe down to folio 37v, and I indicate that the history of the whole manuscript is problematic. Jeanne Krochalis has recently published 'Injunctions for Nuns,' with no indication of its source. 3 The first thirty lines of her text forbid negligence with communal property, and stress the accountability of obedientiaries under pain of excommunication; they enjoin against malicious backbiters, usurpers of authority, and the gift or receipt of property without permission or reliable witness; and they command the keeping of silence, and the avoidance of inordinate bad language. This passage ultimately derives from Version B of the Latin Statutes, published at Northampton in 1225, by the Fourth General Chapter of the Black Monks, 4 and is the only known English version of them. The records of the episcopal and metropolitan visitations of English nunneries reveal that these injunctions were just as applicable to nuns in the fifteenth century, 5 as they presumably were to the monks they addressed in the thirteenth. The last ten lines of her text, referred to here as the Addition, and quoted below, 6 concern the care of the libri annuales. On the first Monday in Lent (based on chapter xlviii of the Rule), a book was individually assigned to each nun, and was received back from her in a year's time.


Betty Hill Ore dunke soit eschewe of ech and of alle, and nameliche of these younge ladies. That thei be nougt negligent for to leue here bokes to hem assigned, behynde hem in the quer, neyther in cloystre; nether leue here bokes open other vnclosed, ne withoute kepinge; neither kitte out of no book leef, ne quaier, neyther write therinne; neyther put out withoute leue, neyther lene no book out of the place, ho so vnwitinge or [s;c] his negligence or mysgouernaunce lest or alieneth. Bote al so clene and enter that thei ben kept, and in same nuwibre, and in the same stat, or in bettre, yif it may, that thei be yolde vp agen into the librarie, as thei were afore in yer resseyued. Yif ther is eny agens these poyns that had trespassed, of that he be in chapitele changeled [iic] and corrected, (fol. 37: 17 to fol. 37 v : 1).

A Latin text of the 'Injunctions' (Statutes and Addition), addressed to monks, is written in the Ordinale of the Benedictine nunnery of Barking in Essex. 7 This Ordinale was compiled under the direction of Sybil Felton, Abbess from 1394 to her death in 1419, who presented it to Barking in 1404. The Latin 'Injunctions' form a conclusion to the account of the return of the annual books, and the reappointment, or otherwise, of the obedientiaries. This account is followed by a French version of the 'Injunctions,' modified for the use of nuns. The Ordinale continues with an account of the distribution of the annual books, concluding with a second, variant, text of the Addition, which would seem to be the logical place for it. The first text of the Addition (which concludes the Statutes) may originate from scribal anticipation. It is commonplace to find variant readings in a passage copied twice by the same scribe. But the Addition, not traceable in the Chapter Statutes, seems to apply to an in-House situation. These injunctions, concerning the annual books, could have been imposed on a male Benedictine House as a result of Capitular visitation. 8 Since they would have the same canonically binding force as the Statutes, they were added to them. The specific situation giving rise to the Addition no doubt involved a precentor, one of the obedientiaries appointed annually. His duties included the direction of the church service; the care of the singing books and other books of study; and the distribution and receipt of the annual books, as recorded on his roll. When the convent sat in the cloister, he was required, when the bell rang, to go round collecting books negligently left about, and to make good any damage to them. He could not sell, give away, nor pledge books. Nor was he to lend them without deposit of a pledge, at least equal to their value, and then only to nearby churches and persons of notable worth. 9 The content of the Addition reveals the abuse of communal property especially detrimental to the precentor, when the matter of his reappointment came up on the first Monday of Lent. The 'Injunctions' (Statutes and Addition) were apparently copied piecemeal into the Ordinale, along with other older material. 10 The Latin version of the 'Injunctions' cannot be regarded with confidence

LC MS Faye-Bond 4


as the source of the French text. 11 Nor is the French version the source of the English text. The English version is less fully adapted for nuns, and the French incipits to the sections are not identical in both versions. But the English text depends on the French for an injunction, additional to the Latin male version. In requiring the annual books to be returned in good condition and full total, the Latin text reads, 'ut tales et tantos.' In the French version, the order is altered, with expansion, to 'qe par meyme le noumbre, e en meyme lestat, v en meillur, si estre poef [italics mine]. The English text agrees with the French, 'and in same nwmbre, and in the same stat, or in bettre, yifit may' [italics mine]. The French and English versions, adapted for nuns, further enjoined the repair of any damage to the annual book, if it could be managed without making matters worse. The reason is apparent from the later fifteenth-century British Library MS Arundel 146 (Rules for the Sisters of the Abbey of Brigittines, founded in 1415 at Isleworth, and sited at Syon, Middlesex, from 1431). On fol. 22v: §18, it is stated that articles on which a visiting bishop can examine, include whether there is a register of books in the library, and how they, and other books of study, are kept and repaired. Although the texts in the Ordinale are not the direct source of the English 'Injunctions,' they support an Essex provenance for our manuscript. For they indicate that texts with the same content in the same order were present in Essex, when the first scribe of MS Faye-Bond 4 wrote in the 'Injunctions' after the Rule. This unpublished text of the Rule is not a holograph. Copying errors, typical of the first scribe, occur here, as in the 'Injunctions' and the first part of the Nicodemus. But (perhaps because sicut navigantibus dulcis est portus, ita scriptori novissimus versus)12 there are none in the verse colophon to the Rule. This colophon is fully quoted here for the first time. It starts with an ornamented two-line initial. Lines 1, 3, 9, 10 are rubricated. Here endeth the Rule of Seint Benet, that out of Frensch tunge taken is and in Englissch set, for tho that connen non Frensch and of vnderstondynge beth ylet, this sentence for to knowe, thai here soules ne falle in the deueles net. Preyenge to alle tho, thai this litel tretys loketh and ret, for the lady that this dede make, that here soule mowe fare the bet; also for the wrytere that this wrot, and togedere the lei/res schet, that is also to this Rule sore ibounde, and eek thereto harde yknet. That thei mowe, bothe yfere, this word of G o d here and see: 'Cometh heder, myne children dere. Regnum meum percipite!'

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

I endorse Jeanne Krochalis' view (p. 25, n. 5) that 'dede make,' line 6, indicates that the translation was commissioned by a female Benedictine.




But I cannot accept her opinion (p. 25, n. 5; p. 34) that in line 7 'the wrytere that this wrot' was the female translator, and that 'togedere the lei/res schet' refers to a female scribe, who, if she was not identical with the translator, followed the Rule in the same nunnery. T h a t the translator was male is suggested by the [italicized] phrase 'Allé these thinges beth entisinge of vertu to monkes and to nunnes, that good lif holden, and obedience louen' (fol. 36: 6-8). The 'wrytere' is the lady's amanuensis, who wrote out 'this,' the Rule and his own colophon. 'Togedere the \ettxts schet' indicates that he copied English as he had been trained to copy Latin, letter for letter, since error in a highly inflected language could produce nonsense. He presumably wrote out in his own text the rubricated Latin incipits to the (unnumbered) chapters and the in-chapter Latin quotations (both always translated), which helped the reader to find the place. Moreover, he knew enough Latin to supply, as a functional semantic and rhyming element of his final couplet, the phrase 'Regnum meum percipite!' 1 3 He was a professed Benedictine (8), but whether he was the lady's male chaplain, or whether he was identical with the translator, is not known. His hope for the lady and himself (9-10), as he performed his manual labour in the cloister, is reminiscent of an early passage in the Rule: Whanne thei [good works] schulle at day of iuggement ben brougt foorth, G o d vs wolle yelde and alowe that he hath behote to his frendes: that neuere eyge ne sieggh, ne ere ne herde, ne in mannys herte neuere entred, that G o d hath ordeined to hem that hym louen [I Cor. ii, 9], These offices wer we mowe putte allé these thinges in worke, that is in the cloystre, ordeined in Congregacion. G o d , for his pite, hier vs make do allé is hestes, that we mowe haue that gloriouse reward that he hath behote to his frendes. (fol. 8: 5-15).

This text of the Rule omits chapters viii to xviii, on liturgical practices (except for an extended discussion of the Pater Noster in chapter xiii), chapters xix-xx, on readmissions and the reproval of boys, and chapters lx and lxii, on the admission of ordained priests and the ordaining of a monk as priest. It includes a hierarchy (in age), not entirely clear. There are 'dameseles,' too tiny to make their own oblation; 'yonge children,' and 'yonge nunnes,' below the age of understanding; 'yonge sustren,' disciplined to the age of fifteen; and 'yonge ladies,' the young professed nuns, 1 4 who twice have special mention. Baths are always available to the sick who need them, 'Bote to the hole, and nameliche to the yonge ladies' (fol. 20: 1-2), permission is not readily to be given. In church, if mistakes are made in the psalm, respond, antiphon, or lesson, and are not amended, 'these yonge ladies me schal chastice and bete for these defautes. G o d , yif it be is wille, grante that we this sentence mowe holde' (fol. 24: 9-11). From the references in this

LC MS Faye-Bond 4


text and the 'Injunctions' to 'these yo[u]nge ladies,' we would conclude that they were as much a cross to the precentrix in her office of chantress, as they were in her office of librarian, were we not aware that the sourcetexts of these translations were addressed to monks. In the early fourteenth-century Customary of the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Augustine, Canterbury, when the Latin Rule is read in Chapter, it is the duty of the Prior, or the person to whom he delegates the task, to comment on the Rule in French, the general language of the monastery, for the sake of the more simple brethren. 15 There is surely a close parallel here with 'for tho that co/inen non Frensch and of vnderstondynge beth ylet' (colophon: 3). The English Rule is characterized by indirect interpretation. The chapters begin, for example, '... speketh Seint Benet in this sentence, and seith ... In this sentence vs techeth Seint Benet ...' (fol. 20: 14-15; fol. 30v: 4-5). The English text probably derives from the kind of French commentary known to have been practised in one male Benedictine House. A text of the Rule which could be understood was essential for the discipline of a Benedictine House. When we recall, in the light of Caxton's complaints about linguistic change, even in his own life-time,16 that for some years after his death the Cistercian nuns of Winteney, who followed the Benedictine Rule, relied on a thirteenth-century copy of an Old English translation of it, we understand that the making of this 'new' book was a notable achievement. Some masculine pronouns are preserved on folios 6v-7; but this adaptation for nuns was carefully done. The work may have been commissioned by Sybil Felton, who had a male chaplain, and who was careful of the spiritual life of her convent; and during whose abbacy there was a ready demand at Barking for the newest fifteenth-century English devotional prose works. 17 She, herself, owned Beeleigh Abbey, Maldon, MS Foyle, s.xv in, the English Mirror of the Life of Christ, in an Essex dialect.18 The holograph of the Rule has not survived for comparative purposes. The two drawings on folio 37v of MS Faye-Bond 4 have been discussed by Jeanne Krochalis (pp. 23, 26-30), in connection with the home of the English text of the Rule. But these drawings are textually associated with the Mcoi/emui-translation, which need not be a Benedictine production. The Nicodemus begins on the first line of folio 37v after the last three words of 'Injunctions,' which are run on from folio 37. The first drawing is half-way down the outer margin, immediately adjoining the text. 19 It depicts a female head and neck covered with a white-rimmed black veil, which displays the forehead. The whole is integrated with a shield below. The head and neck appear to be the work of the first scribe, as compared with that of the flourisher, who has included in his tracery on folio 28 a small flowing profile of a lady's head and neck covered with a snood.


Betty Hill

The flourisher has supplemented the scribe's drawing, applying some red outline to the black; and the lady's ruffled collar is striped black and red. He has also added, with some sophistication, red highlights and shading to the face. The style of the face is reminiscent of that of Lucy de Vere, as depicted on her bier in her thirteenth-century Obituary Roll (British Library MS Egerton 2849). Nigel Morgan comments that the style of the drawings in the Egerton manuscript is a rougher version of the London style 'and may well suggest it is a provincial derivant of the Essex region in the neighbourhood of Hedingham.' 20 The somewhat obscure Benedictine nunnery of Castle Hedingham in north-eastern Essex was founded in the later twelfth century by Aubrey de Vere, 1st Earl of Oxford, and his wife, Lucy, and confirmed by their son in 1191. It was dedicated to the Virgin, Saint James, and the Holy Cross. The name of Lucy de Vere, as its first Prioress, occurs in 1198.21 The shield, which may well be the flourisher's work, is blue in outline with red flourishing, and is divided horizontally into two unequal parts. The black quadrate lettering, .'iiij. wij,' fills the upper, and smaller, half. The lower section carries a large blue capital 'L,' red-flourished. 22 The scribe's black-and-white drawing, which the flourisher slightly touched up, in the tail margin of folio 37v, depicts a bird. It has neither the bustle-like tail nor the 'jizz' of the crane, 23 with which Jeanne Krochalis identified it. The bird stands erect, with closed wings, on a rock or mound. A shield, bearing the monogram Ihc 'Jesus,' is slung from its neck. In its beak it holds a motto (thickly outlined in red), reading quod. This bird was, with little doubt, intended for a swan, whose head, neck, and wings are quite well drawn; and it resembles fairly closely the swans which decorate many of the Books of Hours of John, Duke of Berry. 24 This Duke of Berry (died 1416) was the great-uncle of Charles d'Orléans, that French exile in England whose translation Professor Meier has perceptively discussed. 25 The Duke, and Charles' exiled brother, Jean d'Angoulème, were members of the linked families, some with overt Essex connections, who used the swan badge. Of those reproduced by A.R. Wagner, 26 the swan here most resembles the Duke of Berry's. The prevailing connection is aristocratic. The language of scribes of folios 1-63 approximates to the Hatfield Broad Oak area. The Benedictine Priory of Hatfield Broad Oak, dedicated to Saint Mary and Saint Mélaine, and originally a cell of Saint Mélaine at Rennes, was founded about 1135 by Aubrey de Vere and confirmed by his son, the 1st Earl of Oxford. 27 The de Veres remained continual patrons of their foundations at Hatfield and Hedingham. Although the language of the scribes need not be identical with their place of work, I incline to the view that the first scribe (and the second) wrote at Hatfield for

LC MS Faye-Bond 4


the sister-House at Castle Hedingham. But it is questionable whether the extant work of these scribes was the whole of their commission, and whether it reached the nuns at Hedingham. For apparently not long after these scribes wrote, their unbound quires, which included a contemporary vernacular Rule for female use, migrated North. Folios 64-78 of MS Faye-Bond 4 form a quire of fourteen parchment leaves. They contain, in small cursive script, s.xv1, a prose commentary on the Creed, which includes on folio 64 the reference, 'Forthi says Saynt Austyn.' The language of this unpublished piece is of a north-western type, probably North-west Yorkshire. 28 Some nineteenth-century notes, on the parchment leaf preceding folio 1, inform us that the manuscript was originally in wooden covers gilt and belonged to a House of Benedictines in Yorkshire; and that this book belonged to Sir James Harrington, Dean of York Minster, who died in 1512. My discussion is based on the premise that this information was recovered from leaves, discarded during the process of rebinding in the early nineteenth century, and that it is given in the correct chronological order. The circumstances in which these two disparate parts, the Essex texts and the Creed, were first brought together, and were bound in one volume, cannot be ascertained. My considered opinion is that the Essex texts probably migrated North very soon after they were copied. The only other two extant Middle English translations for female use, of the (Latin) Benedictine Rule, are early fifteenth-century productions, assignable to (central) West Yorkshire. 29 It is feasible that these quires, containing a contemporary Rule with 'Injunctions,' were eagerly acquired for 'copying' by a north-western male House, and that they stayed there, owing their preservation to oblivion rather than to use. At some stage, these texts and the Creed were brought together; and they formed one volume in a House of Benedictines in Yorkshire. Sir James Harrington, the first named owner of the manuscript, belonged to a powerful Yorkist family, with properties in Lancashire and Yorkshire. 30 His parents were Sir Robert Harrington of Hornby castle, Lancashire, and Isabel, née Balderstone. Isabel's sister, Joan, married Sir John Pilkington, esquire of the body to Edward IV. Pilkington, a man of substance in Lancashire and Yorkshire, also had strong Yorkist sympathies. His will, made at Skipton in 1478, not far from the Cistercian Abbies of Whalley (where he was on the rent roll) in north-east Lancashire, and Sawley in north-west Yorkshire, was proved the following year by the future Richard III. Isabel and Joan also had connections with both Counties. Their fourteenth-century ancestor, Simon de Balderston of Blackburn Hundred, had acquired among other properties the manor of Rogerthorpe in West Yorkshire, and the mediety of the church at nearby Badsworth. After their


Betty Hill

father's death in 1462, Isabel Harrington and Joan Pilkington, and their respective husbands, jointly held their father's possessions. After her husband and son died, Joan Pilkington took widow's habit at the Benedictine Priory at Nun Monkton in central Yorkshire in 1488. In the previous year, Harrington, who fought for Richard III on Bosworth Field, had been attainted of treason. His moiety of the Balderston estates passed in 1489 to Thomas Stanley, Earl of Derby. In 1496, on the presentation of the Earl of Derby and Joan Pilkington, as joint possessors of the Balderston estates, Harrington was instituted rector of Badsworth. In 1501 he became rector of Tankersley (Deanery of Doncaster) and held both cures for life. He was pardoned of treason in 1503. Four years later, he was elected Prebendary of Husthwaite (which he resigned), and Prebendary of Bugthorpe in 1508. He became sub-Dean of York Minster in 1507, and Dean from 1508-12. He died at Tankersley in 1512, and was buried in his Minster of York on the Feast of the Innocents. Harrington could have acquired MS Faye-Bond 4 in the course of his ecclesiastical career, but the content of the book seems to me to suggest otherwise. It is possible that the Pilkingtons acquired the manuscript in the North-West, and that it went as a bound book with Joan Pilkington to Nun Monkton. Harrington, her nephew and heir, probably owned it after her death in 1498. Whether he still had the book in 1512 is not known. He died intestate; and though the grant of administration of his estate is extant in York Minster Library, no inventory of his goods has survived. Over three hundred years later, the manuscript was owned by Richard Heber (died 1833), and was included in the posthumous sale of his library in 1836.31 The date of its acquisition by the Library of Congress is unknown. The work of the first scribe, and the history of MS Faye-Bond 4 both pose some problems. Solutions to them would increase our knowledge and understanding of the making, circulation and preservation of these English writings for the enlightening of the spirit. For the most part, those Black Sisters, for whom the main contents of Harrington's book were assembled, have crumbled in cloistered obscurity and are seen in a glass darkly. But those perennial problems, 'these yo[u]nge ladies,' are reflected as oncoming 'crimson flowers ... from the meadow of holy books.' 32

NOTES 1. MS 4 in S. de Ricci and W . J . Wilson, Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada (New York: Wilson, 1935): I, 180-81; then pre-Ac 4. Described as MS Faye-Bond 4 by Svato Schutzner, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscript Books in the Library of Congress: a Descriptive Catalog; II (forthcoming). I t h a n k M r Leonard Beck

LC MS Faye-Bond 4


and Mr Peter Vanwingen, Library of Congress, for information on current work on the MS, and especially Mr Schutzner, for his correspondence and description of the ink and colouring of the drawings on folio 37v. 2. 'The Middle English Prose Version of the Gospel of Nicodemus from Washington, Library of Congress pre-Ac 4,' Notes and Queries 232 (1987): 156-75. See also A. Mcintosh, M.L. Samuels and M. Benskin eds., A Linguistic Atlas of Late Medieval English (Aberdeen: University Press, 1986); III, 123, LP 6230; 122, LP 6210. 3. 'The Benedictine Rule for Nuns: Library of Congress MS 4*,' Manuscripta 30 (1986): 21-34. In collating her text, I add line numbers; and I give her reading, followed by that of the manuscript: 1. Nunne: Nu«ne; reseyue: resseyue. 3. comannden: comaunden. 6. trewliche: treweliche. 7. schollen: schullen. 9. alle the: alle thei. 10. don: doon; the: tho; after brennen, gap of sixteen letters. 11. heres: lieres. 12. false: fals; persone: persone; that: that. 13. there: ther. 18. made: mad; after souereignes, insert or in vndoinge. 19. or: other. 20 nought: nougt; Proprietaries: Proprietaries. 23. depos: depoos; naught: naugt. 24. second no: ne. 27. hures diuine: houres duues. 28. nie: me. 30. discipline: dscipline. 33. leye: leue. 35. leue: lene. 36 of: or. 40. chapitle: chapitele. 4. Text in C. Reyner ed., Apostolatus Benedictinorum in Anglia (Douay, 1626): Appendix III, 95-96. On Version B, see W.A. Pantin ed., Documents Illustrating the Activities of the General and Provincial Chapters of the English Black Monks, 1215-1540, Camden 3rd series, 45 (1931), I, 3-6, 15-18. 5. Witness the case of Juliana, of the Benedictine nunnery of Broomhall, Berkshire, in 1404; cf. E. Power, Medieval English Nunneries c. 1275 to 1535 (Cambridge: C.U.P., 1922): 87. 6. In all quotations, abbreviations are expanded and italicized; punctuation and capitalization are modernized; scribal orthography is retained, except that 'thorn' is transcribed as 'th' and 'yogh' as 'y' initially, and 'g' medially. Line numbers are added when used in discussion. 7. J.B.L. Tolhurst ed., The Ordinale and Customary of the Benedictine Nuns of Barking Abbey, Henry Bradshaw Society, 65 (1927): I, 67-70. 8. On the meagre Capitular visitation records, see W.A. Pantin, 'The General and Provincial Chapters of the English Black Monks, 1215-1540,' Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 4th series, 10 (1927): 200-202, 205, 238-41. 9. References in A. Gasquet, 'Some Notes on Medieval Monasteries', The Downside Review 10(1891): 95-102. 10. The Benedictine distribution of annual books was fully described in the ninth century by Hildemar; cf. A.M. Schroll, Benedictine Monasticism as Reflected in the Warnefrid-Hildemar Commentaries on the Rule (New York: AMS, 1967): 120-21. The English practice depends on Lanfranc's eleventh-century statutes. See further F. Wormald and C.E. Wright eds., The English Library before 1700 (London: Athlone, 1958): ch. 2, es 15-22. 11. So Mr R.L. Thomson, who is thanked here. 12. Quoted by J.W. Clark, The Care of Books, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: CUP, 1902): 67. 13. On medieval female ignorance of Latin, see J. Bazire and E. Colledge, The Chastising of God's Children (Oxford: Blackwell, 1957): 71-72. 14. See B. Hill, 'British Library MS Egerton 613-1,' Notes and Queries 223 (1978): 40203 and n. 14. 15. E.L. Taunton, The English Black Monks of St. Benedict (London: Nimmo, 1897): I, Appendix, 281. 16. H.H. Meier, 'Middle English Styles in Translation: A Note on Everyman and Caxton's Reynard,' J.B.H. Alblas & Richard Todd eds., From Caxton to Beckett: Essays Presented to W.H. Toppen (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1979): 14. 17. See, on Sybil, E.A. Loftus and H.F. Chettle, A History of Barking Abbey (Barking: Wilson & Whitworth, 1954): 44, 55-56; and on the books, A.I. Doyle, 'Books Connected


Betty Hill

with the Vere Family and Barking Abbey,' Transactions of the Essex Archaeological Society 25 [NS] (1958): 239-43. 18. Linguistic Atlas (n. 2 above): III, 124, LP 6250. 19. See Hill, Notes and Queries (n. 2 above): 160, col. 1: 13-20. 20. Early Gothic Manuscripts (1) 1190-1250 (Oxford: Miller, 1982): 103, no. 56. I owe this reference to Dr Andrew Prescott. 21. The Victoria History of the Counties of England-, W. Page ed., A History of Essex (London, 1907): II, 122-23. Arms: Argent. Two billets in cross, one azure, one gules; cf. P. Morant, The History and Antiquities of the County of Essex (London, 1768): II, 297. 22. A further connection with Lucy must assume (1) that initial'w' and V are interchangeable (as in the first scribe's work), thus reading '.iiij. vii'; (2) a possible interpretation of these numerals as '4 July'; and (3) scribal error of '.iiij. wij' for '.xiij. wij' giving '13 July' the date of Lucy's death; cf. W. Dugdale, Monasticon Anglicanum (London: March, 1846): IV, 436, n. i. 23. See W.B. Yapp: on the tail, 'A New Look at English Bestiaries,' Medium Aevum 54 (1985): 10; and on 'jizz,' 'The Birds of English Medieval Manuscripts,' Journal of Medieval History 5 (1979): 316. 24. I owe the identification and the comparison with the Books of Hours to the kindness of Mr Brunsdon Ya I thank the Ladies of Stanbrook Abbey, and also Dr Oliver Pickering, for their interest in the drawings. 25. See H.H. Meier, 'Middle English Styles in Translation: the Case of Chaucer and Charles,' Michael Benskin & M.L. Samuels eds., So Meny People Longages and Tonges: Philological Essays in Scots and Mediaeval English Presented to Angus Mcintosh (Edinburgh: [the eds.] 1981): 372-75. 26. 'The Swan Badge and the Swan Knight', Archaeologia 97 (1959): 129-38 and Plates, es XXXIV, h, XXXV, a J . 27. A History of Essex (n. 21 above): 107-110. 28. So Professor Angus Mcintosh, who is thanked here. See further, Linguistic Atlas: III, 665, LP 458; not entered on the maps. For the difficulty of localizing Northern texts, see Linguistic Atlas: I, viii. 29. British Library, Cotton Vespasian A xxv; Landsdowne 378. Cf. Linguistic Atlas'. I, 254. 30. For the families, see VCH: A History of Lancashire (London, 1911): VI, 314-16; I. Grimble, The Harington Family (Bristol: Cape 1957): 44-61; and J. Pilkington, The History of the Lancashire Family of Pilkington (Liverpool, 21894): 29-34, 88-92. Also J. le Neve, Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1300-1541, 6: Northern province, compiled by B. Jones (London, 1963): 59,41, 17, 8. 31. For detail, see de Ricci and Wilson (n. 1, above): loc. cit. The initials to the nineteenthcentury annotation on fol. 51v - for context, see Hill, Notes and Queries (n. 2 above): 168, col. 1: 41-44 - were read as 'J.L.', perhaps those of John Leyden, by Jeanne Krochalis ( 25). The initials are 'J.S.', still unidentified. I thank Mr J.F. Russell, National Library of Scotland, for comparing the hand of the annotation with that of John Leyden; and also Dr Prescott, The British Library, for comparisons with the hands of Sir John Sebright and Sir John Saunders Sebright. The annotator refers to Thomas Tyrwhitt, Thomas Chatterton (London, 31778): Appendix, 318, §4. 32. M. Lapidge and M. Herren, trans. & eds., Aldhelm, The Prose Works (Ipswich: Brewer 1979): 76.

Of English Kings and Arms Erik Kooper and Annelies Kruijshoop

Manuscripts containing Middle English are extremely rare in the Netherlands. 1 Until fairly recently it was thought that there was only one: the so-called 'Leiden Lydgate Manuscript' (Leiden, University Library, Vossius Germ. Gall. Q. 9). This is a late fifteenth-century manuscript containing works by Lydgate, two Chaucer poems and a number of anonymous pieces, five of them unique to this manuscript. The manuscript was described and discussed by the late Jan van Dorsten in 1960 but had been known to Lydgate and Chaucer scholars long before that (Van Dorsten 1960). A second manuscript has turned up more recently: MS 194 of the Library of the Catholic University of Nijmegen. This is again a fifteenth-century manuscript, with a few later additions. Its texts are in Latin and in English, written by various scribes. The manuscript was described, and two sixteenthcentury recipes were edited from it, by Gerrit Bunt in the Festschrift for Johan Gerritsen, Hans Meier's Groningen colleague (Bunt 1985).2 To these two manuscripts a third may now be added: MS 75 A 2 / 2 of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (Royal Library), The Hague. 3 A full description of the manuscript and publication of its contents must await a future occasion; our present aim is simply to provide a first introduction, including a few sample passages from the various texts it contains. MS 75 A 2 / 2 is a late thirteenth-century rotula manuscript, measuring 231 X 23 cm and made up of four membranes (of 65, 70.5, 74.5 and 32 cm respectively). The membranes were pasted together with a kind of adhesive, with an overlap of ca. 2 cm. After the writing on the face was completed, but before the dorse was written upon, 4 the membranes were fixed more securely by means of small stitches. The roll is in good condition. It is patched up with modern tape in two places but no other signs of repair are visible; it has a modern protective leather wrapping fastened to the top end and is preserved in a cardboard cylinder. The text on the face is written in Anglo-Norman in a very regular and clear littera textualis. Legibility problems occur only where two membranes meet or in the few other places where the text has been damaged. New paragraphs are marked by two-line initials (with an occasional three- or four-line exception) in red or blue, with penwork in blue or red. One-line blue and red plain capitals occur within the text but only in the first part;


Erik Kooper and Annelies


*»** sfntumtm \h



l i i M M t

i irs a'rift i K O « » IS

Ms Koninklijke Miniature.




75 A 2/2, front:

The Anglo-Norman

Genealogy and


Of English kings and arms


Ms Koninklijke Bibliotheek 75 A 2/2, dorse: The Middle English Heraldic



Erik Kooper and Annelies Kruijshoop

small guide letters in black are still visible under or next to all coloured initials. Occasionally red or blue section marks have been used. Over the entire length of the manuscript there are traces of ruling and margins (sometimes double) in lead pencil, but not of pricking. The text proper is preceded by a large miniature consisting of three dark blue concentric circles, the outermost of which has a diameter that equals the breadth of the writing, 20 cm. This Heptarchy diagram, as it is called, presents a survey of the English kingdoms during the Anglo-Saxon period. The central roundel gives, in red ink, the measures of England: 800 miles from Scotland to Totnes and 300 miles from St David's to Dover. The space between the central and the middle circles shows seven roundels (with yellow borders and writing in the normal brownish colour), each containing a brief description of one of the seven kingdoms. The names of these kingdoms, and of the four 'winds,' 5 are found between the middle and the outermost circles in eleven small roundels, this time with a brown border and red lettering. The little circles are separated by grotesques like a Janus bifrons, cephalopods and fabulous animals (similar figures occur at various places in the text). Three men are desperately trying to support the whole construction with forked sticks, with the result that the otherwise flat drawing acquires an unexpected three-dimensional aspect. The text consists of a pedigree of the kings of Britain from its legendary founder, Brutus, up to Edward I. The last king to be described in full, with the year of death and place of burial, is Henry III. Of his son, Edward I, is said simply that he reigned after his father; for his children seven roundels have already been drawn but no names filled in. We may take this as sufficient evidence that the genealogy was completed not long after Henry's death in 1272, perhaps even before the return of Edward in 1274. The text is written in one column except for one place where two long vertical pedigree lines make for a 'natural' division into three columns, the two outermost containing the text, the central one the roundels. These roundels with the names of the kings and the duration of their reigns, or with the names of their children, interrupt the text at regular intervals. Lines in various colours connect the kings with their children or with the ancestor through whom they could claim a right to the throne. All the roundels of the kings are placed exactly in the middle of the roll. This was achieved by means of a simple trick: the scribe folded the roll lengthwise and then placed one leg of his compasses on the fold, drawing a circle with the other. The existence of at least fifteen similar manuscripts (most of them thirteenth- or fourteenth-century) 6 shows that pedigree rolls of this type, called feudal manuals by their first editor (Wright 1872), were quite popular. The material was drawn mainly from the Anglo-Norman chronicles Le Livere de Reis de Brittanie and Le Livere de Reis de Engletere (edited by Foltys 1962). The pedigree rolls may be thought of as a subgenre

Of English kings and arms


of the roll chronicle 'universal history,' that is from the creation of the world to the time of the roll's composition. Joseph W. Scott listed at least 30 to 40 roll chronicles in the United Kingdom alone (Scott 1986: 19), but since they were much more popular in France than in England, more should exist in French libraries. 7 About a century and a half after the completion of the genealogy, four texts, three in English and one in Latin, were added on the dorse of the roll. The writing begins some 25 cm from the top because the concentric circles of the Heptarchy diagram are visible through the parchment. The first two English texts as well as the Latin one are written in an easy and fluent anglicana\ the third English text may be by the same person but gives the impression of having been written somewhat carelessly or in haste. All along the sides of the dorse the writing shows much wear and tear, so that ultra-violet light is needed to decipher it. The damage is probably due to the (assumed) medieval habit of displaying such genealogical rolls on the walls for educational purposes (Wright 1872: ixx; Scott 1983: 30). Apart from that the Latin is often incomprehensible so that for this text we are left with a number of mystifying passages. The first English text is an introduction to heraldry, explaining its origin, its development and the basic principles of the art of blazoning. It is not entirely unrelated to the Anglo-Norman text on the front because the legend expounding the origin of the coat of arms is set at the court of Priam, the king of Troy, while Brutus is mentioned as the one who brought the device to Britain. 8 In its contents this treatise closely resembles the Ashmolean tract (written like our text on the dorse of a roll manuscript), and four other heraldic treatises all belonging to the same group. 9 It is followed by a roll of arms, an enumeration of European kings and princes with a description of their coats of arms. 10 The third text is a short Latin chronicle of the kings of England from William the Conqueror to Henry III. Henry's coronation in Paris in 1431 concludes the chronicle and it seems safe to attribute the whole of the dorse to 1430-1440.11 The chronicle is followed by another English text which consists of only seventeen lines and is a slightly confusing attempt to demonstrate 'that of the vii planetys ther ys noon that goth so swyth as doth the mone.' Of the history of the manuscript very little is known. The oldest reference that we have encountered occurs in a catalogue of the archive of the Old Catholic communion in Utrecht published in 1887. In the same year our manuscript, together with all other medieval pieces, was exchanged for the documents relating to the Utrecht Old Catholic communion deposited in the State Archive in The Hague. In 1948 it was transferred from the State Archive to the Royal Library, where it still is. How exactly this English manuscript found its way into a Dutch Old Catholic collection is a question that may never be solved, for our investigations have convinced


Erik Kooper and Annelies Kruijshoop

us that the history of this particular collection is a rather misty one (but also very exciting: it knows horror tales that evoke the famous story connected with the Percy Folio Manuscript 12 ). The edition of the texts is purely diplomatic: capitalization and punctuation are as found in the manuscript, except that the punctus elevatus is represented by a semi-colon and the paragraph mark by a full stop. I. The Kings of England From this text three passages have been selected: the opening, with the arrival in Britain of Brutus; the story of Edmund Ironside, King Cnut and the treason of Eadric Streona; and the conclusion, with the death of Henry III. (1) [DJeuant la Natiuite nostre seignur iheju crist .M. e CC. anz. Brutus le fiz Siluius. e Corineus son frere/ vindrent en engleterre ouekes grant ost de la bataille de troye sur vn geaunt ki out a n o u n / Gogmagog. E li donerent bataille, e le occistrent. e tuz les geanz kil trouerent en la terre. E meimes/ celi Brutus fist fere La vile de Londres. E corineus son frere régna en Cornewaille. e il fist apeller l a / (5) terre Cornewaille après son noun. En eel tens fu Helye iuge de fiz israel (2) (165) [A]pres Ethelred ki fu frere Edward le Martir regna Emun yreneside por la proesce/ de lui. Sa seete e sespee ne furent iameis traites en vein II fu home de grant/ vigor e de merueilluse suffrance. Nul ne le poeit veincre en bataille ne c o n t \ e / s t e r / ci la traison de Edrich ne fust auenue Car si com li roi/ knout de Denemarche veneit [al expunged] par engleterre ausi/ (170) cum vn tirant; Emun yreneside li vint a lencontre/ e desconfist fortment son ost. E a vn autre feiz quant/ il vint; Emun fu si confus par la traison del auantdit Edrich; kil le coue/neit partir son reaume auekes li roi Knout par pes [fae expunged] fesant e par acord. e / puis après ne demora gueres ke lauandit Emun fu occis maueisement par lauandit/ (175) Edrich e fu enterre a Glastingburi. [...] [The following part of the text has been written in the first of two columns] [A]pres la mort Emun yreneside regna le roi Knout ki f u / (180) de la nacion de Denemarche E unkes deuant li puis le tens/ au grant artur ne fu roi Dengleterre de si grant poer. Car il fu seignur/ de denemarche. e de Nor [mundie expunged] wai e descoce e de tut engleterre après/ Emun yreneside. Dedenz le primer an de son corounement tuz/ ceus ki auoient tue le roi Emun par la uoerie de Edrich/ (185) le traitre vindrent a lui en esperaunce destre noblement/ reguerdonez. E li Rei knout fist assembler

Of English kings and arms


tut son barna/ge. E ant \ t u t / [in margine in the same hand: tuz to replace or clarify inserted tut] fu la treison reconue. e por ce li roi knout les/ fist tretuz morir de vileine mort. Apres ce must vn con/tek a londres en vn soler sur tamise entre le roi k n o t / (190) e lauantdit counte Edrich. e li counte en reprocha-/nt dist au roi. Je guerpi mun dreit/ seignwr naturel e le fis tuer, e t e / fis liurer le reaume. e li roi ra/uisant la parole de sa bouche/ (195) dit. tu as parle encontre t o n / chief, tu moras par dreit iugement/ por ce ke tu as ocis ton seignwr naturel e mun frere e n / lei. E meintenant li furent les mains e les/ piez liez; e fu gete par la fenestre en tami/(200)se. e issi péri le counte. Li roi knout régna/ .xx. anz. e fu enterre a Wincestre. (3) (401) [Cjestui henri dedenz le diseme an de son aage Le ior seint Symon e seint Jude il fu corounee a grant ioie/ Al quel corounement il iora kil portereit honur e pes. e reuerence a deu e a seinte eglise. e a ses ordinaires, e ce/ fist il noblement. E cil comenca la nouele ouere de Westmoster. al honur de [in ras.] deu e de seint pere. e de seint/ edward. En son tens fu la guerre en engleterre entre li e les barrons, e la bataille de lewes feri e n / (405) Lan de grace .M. e .CC. e Lxiiij. e après en lan siuant Symon de montfort le veil counte/ de Penbrok ki auoit espouse Alianore fille au roi John e sorur au roi/ Henri e ki fu cheuetein e ki fu cheuetein [sic] des barons/ fu ocis a la bataille de euesham. Icestui roi/ Henri régna .Lvij. anz. e trespassa gloriu/(410)sement de cest siecle en lan de grace .M. e / .CC.lxxij. e fu enterre a Westmouster. II. A Treatise on Heraldry Of this treatise the beginning, with the legendary account of the origin of the coat of arms and its rapid acceptance in the world of knighthood, is given in its entirety; it is followed by the introduction to the first principles of the art of blazoning. (1) here begynnyth a short enformacyon of armys ffyrst to have knowlach whott armys be gone/ as kyng of armys recordyth . wher for hyt ys to wytt that Ettor the sun of Pryamus kyng/ of troy bere on hym the ffyrst Cote of armys that euyr was seyn whych Ettor whan he was/ a chylde kept in hys craddyll wos left alone for hys Noorse & hys kepers went to se Justysse/ (5) ryale that tyme in the towyn of troy and in the meene tyme ther come two lyonys whych/ were lowys in the kynges palleys & gette the durrys Oppyn & cam there Ettor lay i n / hys craddyll & he caght one of ham in euery of hys handys & chokked ham both where/ for hys moder Eccuba the quene made a cote of rede sylke & ther vpon wroght t w o / lyonys of golde & put hyt on hym wyth out all above hys armure


Erik Kooper and Annelies Kruijshoop

when he went/ (10) ffygth wyth Creekys . and then as kyng of armys recordyth for the doghtyness/ of dedys that were done there vpon both the partyys both of ham wyth in the towne/ & of ham wyth out the worthy kynggys drewe ham to gyddyr consentynge that euery m a n n / that hadde done of the worthy dedys sholde for to be knowe have a marke to berre vpon hyme/ and all hys chyldryne afftyr hyme that the pepyll myght have the more knowlage of hare/ (15) manhode . and for be cawys the pepyll sholde have the more knowlache of the/ chyldyr of the seyd personys that dyd thes worthy dedys be for seyd The Eldyst sonne bare/ as hys fadyr dyd a for hym wyth a labell The secund wyth a cressaunt in hys labell/ The thrydde wyth a quatyrfoyll The fferth wyth a marlet The ffyfft wyth a f f l o r \ e / delyce/ The syxt wyth a mollet and yyff ther were mo then syx that the ffadyr to gyve h y m / (20) what defference that hym kyked [sie] best . but whan the town of troy was wonne & sege/ broke the lordys went in to othyr londys for to seche more aventurys . and to the/ lond of Englond ther come a worthy man that was called Brutys wyth many a worthy/ mann whyche conquered Englond & slowe the Geauntys and thys was Englond Jn-/habyt wyth Brutys & hys meny wyth markys of the manly pepyll that he broght/ (25) wyth hym . and so the left in Englond & succeded forth to ther successours . / and for be cawys hyt shold have a ffeyrrer ñame than a marke they turne hem f r o / markys to armys in as moche as worsehyp was getyn« wyth doghtyness of mannys armys/ . and whan a Gentyll mann cummyth in to the ffeld he deth vpon hym hys habyte/ of wyrschyp the whych was gettyn« wyth wyrshyp & manhode of force of armys/ (30) & wher fore hyt ys called the cote of armys By the armys euery Gentill mann holdyth hys land/ of hys predecessours . and 3e schall vnrdyrstand [sie] that in blasyng of armys ye most/ begynn to blase the lowyst poynt of all the scochoun yyff the ffeld be of oo colloure/ & yyff the armys be quartered ye most begynn at your ryght hand noghtwythstondyng/ that that ys the lyft syde of the armys for the cheff quarter acordyth wyth t h a t / (35) as thys [figure l] 13 ye most sey he berryth sabyll & syluyr per quarter . and yyff the armys/ be of two collours as thys ye [fig. 2] most begynn to blase hyt on the lyft hand ffor h e / berryth sabyll & sylvyr per mete . and ye shall vndyrstand that in armys ther ben t w o / mettayllys & ffyve collours an as to the two mettayllys the tone ys golde the tothyr/ ys syluyr and as to the ffyve collours ther ys sabyll & Gowlys asure vert & purpure/ (40) sabyll ys blak & that ys lykenyd to the Dyamound Gowlys ys rede & that ys lykenyd t o / the Ruby asure is blu & that ys lykened to the saphyr vert is grene & that ys lykyned/ to the Emeraund purpyr ys purpyr & that ys lykened to the amatyst [...] Explicit per me Tryuers

Of English kings and arms


III. An English Roll of Arms From this roll, describing the coats of arms of thirty-two emperors, kings and lesser princes, a representative selection is given below. her begynnys armys of kynggys wyth har bestys Item Pretyr [sic] Johannes emperou [sic] of Inde berryth asure a crucyfyx gold hys Bages an angyll Item the Emperour of Rome beryth an egyll with two hedys dysplayed sabyll membred gowlys/ sarantynaxx [?] Item the kyng of Englond berryt quartle asure iij fflour de lyce golde he beryth gowlys/ iij leopardus passaunt regardaunt gold armyd in a s u r e / antylop Item the kyng of ffraunce beryth asure iij floure de lyce g o l d / a D o o Item the kyng of Beem beryth gowlys a lyon rampaunt forked croned & armed g o l d / pantera Item the kyng of portyngale beryth syluyr v scochounys in crosse asure turtylle per sautre/ wyt a bordure goulys casteled g o l d / Reyndera Item the kyng of scottys beryth gold a lyoun Rampaunt a doubyll tresure c o u n t y r / floret goulys/ elephas Item the kyng of leynystere beryth asure iij cressauntys gold Item the kyng of ulster beryth syluyr iij hondys gowlys Item the kyng of marrok a pagauw beryth asure iij rollys gold Item the turke beryth syluyr iij cressaunte asure IV. The Latin


Of this text a few characteristic items are presented, including the first, on William the Conqueror, and the last, on Henry VI. Item Wille/mMS conquestor anglie coronatus est in Regem anglie apud Westmonasienum die Natal/ domini/ anno gratis, milles/mo lxvj t0 die lune tunc accidit et xxi 2 anno regni sui x 2 Idus m e n s « decembrw obbijt (William the Conqueror of England was crowned king of England at Westminster on the day of the Nativity of our Lord in the year of grace 1066, which happened to be a Monday, and in the 21st year of his reign; ten days before the Ides of the month of December he died)

Item Wille/mws Ruffus filius eius coronatus est in Regem anglie in festo sanctorum cosme et/ damiani et regnauit xiij annis minus mense (William Rufus his son was crowned king of England on the feast-day of the saints Cosmas and Damian, and he reigned for 13 years less one month)


Erik Kooper and Annelies


Item henricus primus inter hui«.r Regis Junior ipso wille/wo mortuo sine liberis quia con cupinis vsus fuerat/ successit in regnuw anglie Nonas augusti apud Wyntoniaw electus et a mauricio London/e«.?;/ episcopo apud Westmonaj/m'MW coronatici est et xxxvj t0 regni sui anno obijt in Normannia (Henry I, the younger brother of this king, succeeded to the throne of England because William himself had died without progeny because he was wont to frequent concubines; 14 on the Nones of August he was elected at Winchester and was crowned at Westminster by Maurice, the bishop of London; and he died in Normandy in the 36th year of his reign)

henricus sextus filius ipsius nobilissimi Regis henrici quinti natus apud Wyndesor i n / festo sancii Nicho/ai Episcopi et confessoris anno domini millesimo cccc xxiij etatatis [sic] mencium regnare/ cepit prima die mensis Septembris anno sequenti et die dominica in festo sancii leonardi/ abba/is anno gratis millesimo cccc vicesimo Nono apud west-monasterium coronati/i est Et/ anno regni sui x 2 coronatus est apud parisium in Regem ffrancie cum magna/ solempnitate et honore henricus sextus filius ipsius nobilissimi Regis henrici quinti natus apud Wyndesor i n / festo sancii Nicho/ai Episcopi et confessoris anno domini millesimo cccc xxiij etatat/s [sic] mencium regnare/ cepit prima die mensis Septembris anno sequenti et die dominica in festo sancii leonardi/ abba/is anno gratis millesimo cccc vicesimo Nono apud westm o n a s t m u m coronatus est E t / anno regni sui x a coronatus est apud parisium in Regem ffrancie cum m a g n a / solempnitate et honore (Henry VI, son of the most noble king Henry V himself, born at Windsor on the feastday of saint Nicholas, bishop and confessor, in the year of our Lord 1423; he began his reign [when he was only a few months old 15 ] on the first day of the month of September in the year following, and he was crowned on a Sunday, the feast-day of saint Leonard, abbot, in the year of grace 1429 at Westminster. And in the tenth year of his reign he was crowned king of France in Paris with great solemnity and splendour)

NOTES 1. We are indebted to Professors J.P. Gumbert, of the Leiden Department of Palaeography, and Keith Busby, formerly of the Utrecht Department of Comparative Literature, whose critical reading of the text has led to a number of improvements. 2. Dr R.H.Bremmer, Jr., of the University of Leiden, is working on the English pieces in the manuscript. 3. The manuscript first drew our attention when it was displayed, in 1980, in the exhibition 'Schatten van de Koninklijke Bibliotheek' (Treasures of the Royal Library) and briefly described in the catalogue. It has subsequently been mentioned (as nr. 493) in the Library's catalogue De verluchte handschriften en incunabelen van de Koninklijke Bibliotheek (we owe this reference to Professor Gumbert; for full details, see bibliography). We wish to thank the Koninklijke Bibliotheek for permission to print extracts from this manuscript, and the staff of the Department of Manuscripts for their kind and expert help.

Of English kings and arms


4. This can be deduced from the fact that the stitches avoid the handwriting of the AngloN o r m a n text, while the Middle English and Latin texts on the dorse try to avoid the stitches. 5. The names for the directions are interesting because two are the names of real winds: orient, galerne, Occident, and bise. 6. Personal communication from Professor Ruth J. Dean, who is working on a repertory of Anglo-Norman manuscripts. We are very grateful to Professor Dean for putting at our disposal her expert knowledge and extensive data collection. F o r a brief description of the history of the roll manuscript in England, see Clanchy (1979: 105-13). 7. Scott's article is one of the very few on the subject of roll chronicles. One of the manuscripts discussed by him is the magnificent specimen (17.6 meters long and with 61 miniatures set in small medallions) in the Brotherton Collection of rare books and manuscripts, in the Library of the University of Leeds. We are grateful to the Librarian of the Brotherton Collection for allowing us to inspect the manuscript and for drawing our attention to Scott's paper. A good example of a chronicle in roll format with a pictorial instead of a verbal pedigree is reproduced by Clanchy (1979: Plate XIII). 8. Writing on the dorse of pedigree rolls was not u n c o m m o n , but there was not always a clear connection between the two texts; see e.g. L o n d o n , College of Arms, MS Roll 2 0 / 26, which contains a number of chess problems ( H u n t 1985; this edition was drawn to our attention by Professor Busby). 9. F o u r of these, the Ashmolean tract, J o h n ' s Tretis on Armes, the Bradfer-Lawrence tract, and L o u t f u t ' s poem (a Scottish text), were discussed by H. Stanford London (1953); the Ashmolean tract was edited by C.R. Humphery-Smith (1960: 163-70), who also presented a translation of the fifth text, the Sloane tract (1960: 116-23). We are indebted to Drs L. H o u w e n for information on these texts. Judging by its first line, MS Bodleian 487 (ca. 1500) must be included in this group. The relation to the heraldic treatise of Johannes de Bado Aureo, De arte heraldica (ca. 1394), and possibly to Nicholas Upton's De studio militari (ca. 1440), will be dealt with in a later study. 10. An example of such a roll in French is reproduced in Brault (1972: Plate 3). 11. This date is confirmed by Professor G u m b e r t , who qualifies the hand as rather archaic for the time of writing. Study of the language of the manuscript might perhaps provide some support for this (note for instance the frequent use of knowlache as against a single occurrence of knowlage [cf. J o r d a n 1974: 168]). 12. Percy relates that he found this manuscript in the house of a friend, where it was used by the maids to light the fire (Percy 1886 [1966]: I, lxxii). With respect to our manuscript we learn the following from a letter by Archbishop Codde of Utrecht, dated 1710: when the Utrecht canon and collector of manuscripts, Junius (not related to Franciscus), died, his half-brother decided, as executor of his will, to sell all the old documents and other papers by the p o u n d as waste paper. When the archbishop happened to hear about this he approached the half-brother through a third party and acquired the majority of the collection simply by offering a slightly higher price per p o u n d . 13. The manuscript has a two-line illustration of a coat-of-arms here. 14. The text reads con cupinis. Professor A. O r b a n , of the Utrecht Department of Medieval Latin, suggests that con cupinis might be an error for concubinis. Confusion between b and p is sometimes found in A N texts, as Ruth Dean points out to us (see also Dean 1973). 15. The classicist Drs P.M. van G o g h wonders whether mencium could be a mistake for mensium, a qualitative genitive; this would permit a translation such as 'at an age of months [rather than years]', which is historically correct, Henry being less than a year old at his accession.

56 Erik Kooper and Annelies Kruijshoop REFERENCES Brault, Gerard J. 1972. Early Blazon: Heraldic Terminology in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries with Special Reference to Arthurian Literature. Oxford: Clarendon. Bunt, Gerrit. 1985. 'Two Recipes from a Nijmegen Manuscript.' In Mary-Jo Arn and Hanneke Wirtjes (eds). Historical & Editorial Studies in Medieval & Early Modern English for Johan Gerritsen. Groningen: Wolters-Noordhoff. 139-46. Catalogue: Schatten van de Koninklijke Bibliotheek: Acht eeuwen verluchte handschriften. Tentoonstelling in het Rijksmuseum Meermanno-Westreenianum/Museum van het Boek, 17 december 1980-15 maart 1981. Ed. A.S. Korteweg and C.A. Chavannes-Mazel. The Hague, 1980. Catalogue: De verluchte handschriften en incunabelen van de Koninklijke Bibliotheek: een overzicht voorzien van een iconografische index. Ed. J.P.J. Brandhorst and K.H. Broekhuijsen-Kruijer. The Hague: Stichting Bibliografica Neerlandica, 1985. Clanchy, M.T. 1979. From Memory to Written Record: England 1066-1307. London: Arnold. Dean, R.J. and E. Kennedy. 1973. 'Un fragment a-n de la Folie Tristan de Berne.' Le moyen age: 57-72. Dorsten, J.A. van. 1960. 'The Leyden Lydgate Manuscript.' Scriptorium 14, 315-25. Foltys, Christian (ed.). 1962. 'Kritische Ausgabe der anglonormannischen Chroniken Brutus, Li Rei de Engleterre, Le Livere de Reis de Engleterre.' PhD Thesis, Berlin. Furnivall, F.J. (ed.). 1869. Queene Elizabethes Achademy. EETS ES 8. London. Humphery-Smith, C.R. 1960. 'Heraldry in School Manuals of the Middle Ages.' The Coat of Arms 6 (1960-1961), 115-23, 163-70. Hunt, Tony (ed.). 1985. Les Gius Partiz des Eschez: Two Anglo-Norman Chess Treatises. Anglo-Norman Text Society. Plain Texts Series 3. London: Birkbeck College. Jordan, Richard. 1974. Handbook of Middle English Grammar: Phonology. Transl. and rev. Eugene Joseph Crook. The Hague: Mouton. London, H. Stanford. 1953. 'Some Medieval Treatises on English Heraldry.' The Antiquaries Journal 33, 169-83. Percy, Thomas, (ed.). 1765. Reliques of Ancient English Poetry. 3 Vols. Edited by Henry B. Wheatley (1886). Rpt. New York: Dover Publications, 1966. Scott, Joseph W. 1982. ' F r o m Script to Print.' In Hans Bekker-Nielsen, Marianne Barch and Bengt Algot Sarensen (eds). From Script to Book: Proceedings of the Seventh International Symposium organized by the Centre for the Study of Vernacular Literature in the Middle Ages. Held at Odense University on 15-16 November, 1982. Odense: Odense UP: 19-34. Wright, Thomas (ed.). 1872. Feudal Manuals of English History: A Series of Popular Sketches of our National History, Compiled at Different Periods, from the Thirteenth Century to the Fifteenth, for the Use of the Feudal Gentry and Nobility. London: Published under the Direction and at the Expense of Joseph Mayer Esq. FSA of Liverpool.

The Style and Authorship of the Kildare Poems - (I) Pers of Bermingham1 Michael Benskin

British Library MS Harley 913, written ca. 1330 A.D., contains the only substantial body of verse recognized as having been composed in the English of mediaeval Ireland. These poems were edited by Wilhelm Heuser in 1904, under the title Die Kildare-Gedichte; his work is the pioneering study of mediaeval Hiberno-English, hereafter 'MHE'. 2 The compiler of Harley 913 was undoubtedly a Franciscan, and his manuscript seems to have served, among other things, as a preachingbook. Most of its contents are in Latin; besides the English, there is also some French. Nearly all of these texts are demonstrably copies, not the authorial originals. They fall, with a few exceptions, into three categories: (i) memorials of St Francis and the Franciscan order; (ii) preaching materials and meditations, including religious lyrics and didactic verse; (iii) parodies and satirical pieces, some goliardic, including those 'blasphemous things' that Humphrey Wanley believed 'were occasioned by the envy of the Franciscans against the monks' (cf. Heuser 1904: 8). As Heuser recognized, not all of the English poems in this manuscript are of MHE authorship. Two clearly depend on English exemplars (Elde, and Erthe upon Erthe)\ one is a rendering of the originally Anglo-Saxon verse Five Evil Things-, and two more, on the evidence of their language and the character of the corresponding versions in English manuscripts, are perhaps to be accounted as English compositions (Lullaby, and Christ on the Cross). There remain twelve poems for which MHE origins are likely. Of these, the most celebrated is The Land of Cokaygne, familiar from Bennett and Smithers' Early Middle English Verse and Prose, and a favourite anthology piece. Very far from celebrated is the poem on Sir Peter de Bermingham, alias Pers of Bermingham, last edited in 1929. The text, admittedly, is perhaps not of the quality that 'the compleat Anglist' has been accustomed to in his studies of Middle English style (Meier 1974, 1979, 1981), but it repays a closer examination than the critics have accorded it hitherto; there is more to this supposedly crude ballad than meets the eye. Before turning to the text, however, it may be useful to say a little more about the manuscript, and to consider the context in which the poem is preserved.


Michael Benskin

ii Various opinions have been published concerning the number of scribes responsible for Harley 913. Croker described the manuscript as 'written in a good hand' (1839: 283); Heuser emphasized that it was the work of several scribes (1904: 14, 20), but save in passing reference to some of the Latin text (4, 22), gave no account of their individual contributions. Seymour, accepting that diverse hands were at work, still thought the items in English to be all in the same hand, in spite of 'some variation in the in the size of the script' (1929: 52, 4). The most recent account, by contrast, distinguishes at least five hands even among the English texts (Bliss & Long 1987:723-25,731). None of these claims, however, has been supported by the presentation of evidence. The following summary account rests on a transcription of the whole manuscript, undertaken with a view to editing, and on detailed palaeographical analyses which will be published in due course. Contrary to most reports, nearly all of Harley 913 is by a single hand. For the most part, the script is a debased textura, in general appearance like that of John Wylliott's, 'a typical university book hand of the second half of the thirteenth and the first half of the fourteenth centuries' (Parkes 1969: plate 16, ii) - an apt reminder of the Franciscans' involvement with the schools. The writing is very variable in size; its density and carefulness likewise vary between texts. In aspect, the extremes could well pass for the work of different scribes, but the morphology is consistent throughout. So also are the signs of punctuation. 3 The spirit of abbreviation is Latin rather than English, with characteristically abrupt treatment of monosyllables. Especially to be noted is the use of superscript a, e, i, o, u, v, for (respectively) 'ra', 're', 'ri', 'ro', 'ru', 'rv', with occasional raised a for 'ua' and e for 'ue'. Overall, their incidence is moderate, but they are a persistent trait. Except in rhyme, however, 'from' is always and for 'I', ic is regular, beside ich (with i, et var.). Collectively, these traits are distinctive; the combination is not paralleled in any other MHE manuscript recognized so far. One sign of itself differentiates the script of Harley 913 from all others in the MHE corpus: a' for 'and' is written throughout the items in English. (There are 474 examples, against three of fully-written and; whereas for Latin et, the Tironian nota is regular.) Even in contemporary manuscripts from England, this a' - historically, the ampersand - is relatively rare. Such features are independent of spelling as conventionally understood; they can be shared by texts having otherwise very different orthographies. The writing of as opposed to fram is a difference of figurae, but not of litterae\ a scribe who wrote the one in place of the other would still be copying literatim. This is a matter of some importance: the regularity

Pers of Bermingham


of these usages across diverse texts in Middle English need not betoken translation from the dialect(s) of the exemplars into the dialect of the copyist. Indeed, the dialectal form of the texts in Harley 913 can hardly be attributed to the hand which copied them, for the distribution of dialectal variants through the manuscript is clearly text-determined. The copyist was not a translator. In Elde and Erthe upon Erthe, for example, appear western English forms not otherwise known in MHE; and even among the MHE compositions, there are dialectal inconsistencies in detail between texts for which common authorship is on other evidence very likely (cf. Heuser 1904:117-19). The dialectal and palaeographical facts are sufficiently accounted for by positing a scribe who copied closely, possibly literatim, from exemplars with diverse textual histories. Nevertheless, it is clear that the language of the Kildare poems proper is not that of the authorial versions: in the chain of copying, there must have been translation at some stage. The reasoning is as follows. It has long been recognized that even copyists who convert the language of their exemplars fairly thoroughly into their own dialects commonly leave the rhyme-forms intact; if they were to impose their own familiar spellings they would all too often destroy the fabric of the verse, for rhymes are not freely convertible between dialects (cf. Benskin & Laing 1981: 69-72). The corollary is that, when in a verse text, words persistently take two forms, one restricted to rhyme and the other to non-rhyming usage, the rhymes are good, and the two forms imply two different pronunciations, then translation is reasonably assumed. The authorial language, as represented by rhyme, does not cohere with the non-rhyming usage; the latter is therefore unlikely to be authorial, and the text has been translated from one dialect into another. A fortiori this is so when the rhyme-forms make up one dialectally-coherent assemblage, the non-rhyming forms make up another, and the two assemblages cannot be assigned to the same place. It cannot be pretended that the dialects of M H E are so well-differentiated or well-documented that decisive localization is generally possible, but there is sufficient evidence to link the non-rhyming language of the Kildare poems fairly firmly with Waterford. 4 This accords with the fifteenth- and sixteenthcentury marks of ownership in Harley 913; there is no evidence that the manuscript itself was anywhere other than at Waterford during the middle ages. The satirical poem 'Yung men of Waterford', since lost but still in the manuscript anno 1608, was evidently a local composition; and the mediaeval French comic poem on the town of New Ross, Waterford's commercial rival a few miles up the River Barrow, perhaps also reflects a compiler's local interest (cf. Lydon 1987a: 166-67). It is presumably from the French poem that Ware knew the manuscript as 'The Booke of Rosse'; in its present state, Harley 913 displays no other links with that town.


Michael Benskin

Thus the in-line language of the Kildare poems. The rhyme-language stands apart. As a group, the following show clear signs of an authorial language that cannot well be associated with Waterford: Sarmun, Fifteen Signs of Judgement, Fall and Passion, Ten Commandments - Heuser's 'vier Predigtgedichte' - Seven Sins, and Song on the Times. With these belong the so-called Hymn, whose author names himself in a closing prayer: Jjis sang \vr03t a frere ... Frere Michel Kyldare

It has been generally and reasonably supposed that Frere Michel took his name from the town of Kildare. Some scholars (Seymour 1929: 6, 103; Robbins 1975: 1407; d'Angelo 1982: 346; Kinsella 1986: 398) have accepted Heuser's belief that Harley 913 was written there; 5 others (Fitzmaurice & Little 1920: 121; Mcintosh & Samuels 1968: 3; Bliss 1984: 32; Bliss & Long 1987: 720-1) have inclined to the claims of Waterford. (Ingenious speculations beyond these need not detain us here.) Once it is realized that the dialect of the author(s) differs from that of the present copies, and that the dialect of the copies belongs to Waterford, the seeming conundrum is resolved: we have in Harley 913 Waterford copies of originals apparently from Kildare. A similar dialectal history is indicated for Satire on the Townsfolk, Nego, and Pers of Bermingham, though in these the rhyme evidence is very slight. Pers of Bermingham, however, has independent associations with Kildare: it celebrates a nobleman whose caput was at Carbury in the north-west of the county, and whose body was buried at the Franciscan abbey in the town. To summarize. Pers of Bermingham has been copied at least twice: it was composed apparently in a dialect of Kildare, but survives in language substantially of Waterford; and since the compiler of Harley 913 copied closely, possibly literatim, he must have worked from an exemplar already translated into Waterford language. At least two people besides the author thought the poem's hundred and thirty-two lines worth writing down, and the poem seems to have travelled the sixty-five and more miles from Kildare to the Franciscans in Waterford. It does not survive as a merely casual jotting-down. Pers' place of burial establishes one link with the Franciscans; the poem keeps company with Franciscan texts, and may have done so in the intervening copy or copies. Because Harley 913 is, save for odd insertions, the work of a single scribe, the compilation reflects the tastes of just one man, not of an unaccountable multitude. His script and the Latin contents show him to have been a man very far from unlearned; and Pers of Bermingham aside, such popular texts as he gathered are popular only by destination - they were the didactic materials of an organized evangelical movement. 6 Such is the context in which the poem is preserved. And none of it squares with what the critics have supposed.

Pers of Bermingham


iii If the panegyric on Pers of Bermingham were the miserable effort that scholars have so far taken it to be, then its inclusion in this manuscript would be thoroughly anomalous; but anomaly has never been noted, much less explained. According to Heuser (1904: 158, 160): Die Ballade auf Peter von Birmingham besingt in volkstümlich rohen Versen die Taten und den Tod dieses Vorkämpfers der englischen Ansiedler gegen die wilden Iren. ... Inhalt, Gedankengang und Ausdruck verraten kein großes poetisches Können und sehr geringe technische Fertigkeit. Das Ganze macht den Eindruck einer etwas holprigen Lokalballade, in der die grausame Freude der englischen Bevölkerung an dem verräterischen Verfahren des Sir Pers gegen die Eingeborenen zu recht naivem Ausdruck kommt.

Wells' Manual of the Writings in Middle English (1916: 215) described it thus: ... rude and without any artistic merit, the balladist laments the death ... of Peter of Birmingham, the really ruthless champion of the English settlers in Ireland, and extols his suppression of thieves and his relentless pursuit of the Irish. Nearly half the piece is given to exultant narrative of Peter's outwitting and destroying of a body of Irish who plotted to undo the English.

These views have been repeated by a string of later commentators (e.g. Seymour 1929: 81-2; Robbins 1975: 1410; d'Angelo 1982: 350-51; Jeffares 1982: 12; Bliss & Long 1987: 729-30); likewise, some historians (Curtis 1950:94; Lydon 1987c: 267-68) have taken the poem on this same estimation to illustrate the rabid anti-Irishness of the colonials. Yet if the poem really were a rough and popular ballad - in, be it added, a metre neither balladic nor popular - and if it were really mean and devoid of any literary merit, then what possible appeal could it have had for the compiler of Harley 913? There is nothing else in the manuscript even remotely of that sort. Hitherto, it seems, the moderns have ignored the cultural context, and merely glanced at the surface of what they supposed to be there. For the poem is not incompetent heroic, but mock-heroic contrived, not a eulogy, but a satirical indictment. The first two stanzas are a revelation, agonizingly laboured, that the day commemorated is the twentieth of the year 1308, A.D. 7 (For the text, see pp. [68-71] below.) The arithmetical mode is clerkly, scarcely popular; turned to literary use, it is climactic in the way of the revivalist cheerleader's 'Give me a J. . . Give me an E . . . What have you got?' 'JESUS!' The event? Why, 'dejj gan vs pulle'. Who died? Wait till 'al irlond makij) mon', lamely echoed by 'Engelon', 'ek as welle' moreover. We all know his name, says the poet, tells us even so, and promptly reminds us that


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there is no need to tell it (stz. 3). The man is utterly diminished before the poet has finished his introduction, and when we remember that our hero's most famous deed was his 'atrocious murder ... of O'Connor Faly and some thirty of his family and following',8 we may suspect that perhaps not all Ireland was making moan, and that the poet might just be sending him up. And if we do not remember, stanzas 12-21 will be sufficient reminder. With this in view, the introduction bears second reading. It begins momentously, with divine intervention in human history - 'Sith gabriel gan grete' - and continues, by successively shorter time-spans, to the deathday of just one man, whose life was no Christian exemplar. Rhetoric and historical significance march in opposite directions. Implicitly, a small thing is compared with a great; but comparison proceeds from the great to the small, made ridiculous in anticlimax. Disclosure is repetitive and incremental, even arithmetically so; the tricks of narrative delay are flaunted, self-advertizing and so self-defeating. Form reverses the meaning of the apparent content, in a parody of suspense. Inflation and let-down, the rhetorical devices of the first eleven stanzas, are neatly encapsulated in the fifth. A five-line portrait of knight-errantry, uninspired and the stock-in-trade of popular romance, is made ludicrous by the sixth line and last: Pers was such a noble warrior that not even a common thief dared face him. And for all the talk of prowess in battle (stz. 7), Pers is never shown in fair fight. Of the reasons why Pers surpassed all other knights (stz. 8), the first two are feebly recounted and blatantly unheroic. He let no thief - fearful adversary - have rest (stz. 8); and (another thing also), he was a foe to the Irish, whom he would hunt as hares even from their beds (stz. 9). Now it has nothing to do with literary sophistication that if a man is to be accounted a hero he must have opponents not to be conquered by ordinary men. It is not enough that he attacks men in their sleep, or that he is somebody's foe, or that thieves flee from him in sheer bathos: to say that a man is a hero for these reasons is to say that he is no hero at all. In contrast to the open texture and seeming artlessness of the introductory stanzas, there is some intricate word-play in the account of Pers' hunting, and especially in the treatment of the massacre. First, the hunting. The eleventh stanza reads: Of slep he wold ham wake, for ferdnis hi wold quake, and fond to sculk awai. For Jje hire of har bedde, he toke har heuid to wedde, and so he ta3t ham plai.

Pers of Bermingham


Wedde here is double-edged at least, for two of its meanings must be invoked to make any sense at all. Hire is a cue for 'surety', whereas plai invokes wedde in the gaming sense, a 'pledge' or 'stake'. 9 To paraphrase, 'For the hire of their beds, he took their heads as a deposit, as a stake in the game that he taught them to play'. What begins as a merely commercial transaction, hiring a bed, becomes a macabre species of game, itself an image of murder. The incongruity of the commercial metaphor with knightly conduct is calculated. Pers was a notorious bounty-hunter, a collector of rewards offered by the Dublin government for the severed heads of the king's Irish enemies, and long after his death, he was still remembered for it. In Donnell O'Neill's remonstrance to Pope John XXII, a rehearsal of Irish grievances against the English written ca. 1317,10 Pers is singled out as 'a recognized and regular betrayer' - and as much appears from the government's own records of disbursement (the O'Connor massacre brought in £100).11 Consider too the hero's choice of battleground and timing of attack: no knightly challenge and fair combat, but descent on the victim abed. To this, other senses of wedde are apposite. Wedde can mean 'gage' as well as 'deposit' or 'stake'; 12 but the formalities are not observed here, for no gage can be thrown down in unheralded assault. Again, to lay one's head in wedde was a stock expression for 'stake one's life'; 13 and while Pers was about, any Irishman with a price on his head staked his life every time that he went to sleep - the state which most demands security, least gets it. In terms of chivalry, all this is the conduct of a base coward; and it is impossible to avoid judging Pers by these standards, because the poet has blazoned knightly qualities over five of the preceding stanzas, and offers this particular sample as the second of the three reasons why Pers was the paragon - peruink - of English knighthood. If the satirist really thought him so, then this is a vicious jibe at English knighthood generally in Ireland; but in the prelude to the massacre on Trinity Sunday, the pointed contrast between Pers and other knights shows that this indictment is personal. The massacre is the third of the 'Jjinges J)re' for which Pers is proclaimed knighthood's nonpareil. The whole episode takes up ten of the poem's twenty-two stanzas (stzs. 12-21). A league of unnamed Irishmen had covenanted the deaths of certain Anglo-Irish magnates: the earl of Ulster, Sir Edmund Butler (deputy justiciar), Sir John Fitz Thomas (fifth baron Offaly and later earl of Kildare), and Sir Pers de Bermingham (stzs. 1213). The plot, however, soon came to the intended victims' notice; and they swore that in due time they would make these Irish suffer for it, setting a day for retribution (stz. 13). Long before that day dawned, however, certain persons negligent or faint-hearted during a crisis - 'som jjat neisse


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be}) to nede' - had forgotten all about it (stz. 16).14 Only the stalwart Pers kept faith (stz. 17). The negligents are clearly the three other magnates, and the poet's disparagement is undoubtedly genuine. As a military leader, Edmund le Botiller was merely ineffective; but Fitz Thomas (whose earldom rewarded service in the Scottish wars) was a menace to the colonial order. Early in 1294, he was at odds with William de Vescy, then justiciar and lord of Kildare; and in alliance with the O'Connors, Fitz Thomas duly ravaged the surrounding districts of the town. Later that year, his feud with the earl of Ulster brought the colony to the brink of civil war. Pers, who had become Fitz Thomas' retainer in 1289, was deeply embroiled in all this. 15 The eyre of Kildare for 1297 revealed that there had been: a terrible, indeed frightening, situation in the midlands, where lawlessness was rampant and all control seemed to be gone. Fitz Thomas and his followers went on the rampage, terrified the people, and virtually held the country to ransom. Crime of every kind increased enormously. (Lydon, 1987b: 187)

The social evils described in Harley 913's Song on the Times were very far from fiction. Nor was the opportunity lost on 'the king's Irish rebels', who duly descended from the mountains and burned and wasted the Leinster settlements of the middle nation. As commentators at the time so clearly saw, colonial decline was in large measure the responsibility of feuding and Gaelicizing magnates: 't>ro3 ham fns land is ilor' (stz. 16) re-echoes like a threnody down the years. 16 In pursuing their perceived self-interest, Fitz Thomas and his kind were anything but faint-hearted, neisse; on their home ground they were ruthless oppressors, and the chief casualty was the commonweal. An open indictment, not quite in plain text, is here slanted as a foil for the satirist's real target. Once Pers is in focus again (stz. 17), the gaming imagery is reactivated: the day of reckoning was in mind 'on ernist and agam'. The tone is bantering - 'of trauail nas him no3t', it was no trouble to him to make the necessary arrangements - and remains matter-of-fact until Pers looks upon the O'Connor retinues gathering as his guests ('him J)03t hit nas no game', stz. 19). What follows is sufficiently in earnest; but it is couched obliquely, in the language of adornment and the liturgy, and it has eluded the moderns. The O'Connors were Pers' guests on the Feast of the Holy Trinity, a point of high celebration in the social and ecclesiastical year. Then it was that hoods should be at their best (stz. 18); it was a time for people to put on their best finery, as in recent times women put on their Easter bonnets. The host received his guests. 'No3t on iwernd nas' (stz. 20): no-one was refused and not one of them was warned - iwernd is double-edged. 17

Pers of Bermingham


Afterwards, he had hoods made for them; no-one was left out, Pers graced them all. Fine hoods for the Trinity: the leather bags that carried their heads to Dublin for reward. Only one man rejected the giver of grace, but that wretch did not know the order of divine service, 'cujse n o j t red in place no sing': the phrase is a term of art, 'to read aloud or chant during a church service', or 'celebrate mass for someone' (MED s.v. reden v.(l), 2.b(a) & (c), and 3.c). His ignorance was perhaps excusable, though, for he was of the race of Cain, and so out of favour with the Lord. For Cain, it will be recalled, was the first murderer, who thereafter bore a mark to show that he was reserved for God's justice, and immune from man's (Genesis 4:8-15); it was entirely fitting that his Irish descendant should be spared, and go unhooded home. 'Vnhodid', here, can hardly not refer to the headcovering: the one man who escaped certainly evaded the leather hood, and in getting away perhaps lost his own; but that is not the only possible reading. The verb hode(n) means 'ordain, consecrate', as well as 'put on a hood', and consecration takes up the images of grace and divine service. There are two verbs in question, and historically their pronunciations differed: 'hood' has ME / o : / (from OE and ME hod sb.), whereas 'consecrate' has ME / o : / or / a : / (OE hadian, cf. had sb.). 18 Yet 'consecrate' may sometimes have had / o : / , given semantic overlap with 'hood' and the later development of / o : / in suffixed -had. In holding that both meanings are present, however, there is no need to claim that in the poet's dialect these words were homophones. A pun demands similarity, but may stop short of identity. We have to do with a literary culture, not unlearned, and with written text; punning may quite well be visual as well as auditory. The cues for 'hood' are strong; those for 'consecrate' are not less so. Hospitality is man's law, and Pers' treachery towards guests once his lord's allies was crime enough, but it was not merely a secular violation. It was also a profanation, murder on a principal feast-day of the church, and it is this that informs the whole account of the massacre. Aspects of divinity are inherent. The 'eulogy' is framed not in secular history, but from its first line invokes the divine order. The opening stanza explicitly recalls the scene of the Annunciation: Sith Gabriel gan grete vre leuedi Mari swete t>at godde wold in hir lijte

This, a favourite topos in the mediaeval lyric, arouses religious expectations, but they are defeated by secular panegyric; it is therefore clear from the outset that things are not what they seem. And whereas the poem's beginning


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holds the promise of grace and redemption for mankind, its end is the granting of a particular indulgence: He Jjat J)is sang let mak for sir Pers is sake wel wid hajj igo wid whar i-so3t and god pardon i-brojt two hundrid daies and mo.

Heuser (1904: 160) thought this last stanza astonishing ('Auffallend'), but there is no need to follow him in emending let mak to did mak. It is possible that the poem was written to order (cf. n. 20 below), but he who caused the song to be made need be none other than he who wrote it. The point of separating responsibility from performance would be simply to rub salt into the wound: the composition is avowedly calculated, neither a spontaneous outburst nor regretted. As Heuser's punctuation shows, 'for sir Pers is sake' can be taken naturally as a gloss on let mak, 'he who, for Sir Pers' benefit, caused this song to be made'; and Pers' benefit is just the opposite of the satirist's aim. It is a possible reading. If the stanza be read in this way, then (though Heuser failed to see it) the bringing of the indulgence must be mock penitence on the poet's part, acknowledgement of guilt, and hope of remission in the life to come; otherwise, the search for an indulgence is inconsequential, lacking both motive and beneficiary. Yet the indulgence is no less plausibly 'for sir Pers is sake': these words may modify hap igo ... ibrojt rather than let mak. The reading then is, 'He who caused this song to be made has, for Sir Pers' sake, gone far and wide, searched all over, and brought an indulgence good for two hundred days and more'. Again, the knife is twisted: the destroyer of Pers' reputation poses as the dutiful guardian of his soul. For such a crime, he records, an indulgence was no easy thing to find; and Pers needed it, God knows. iv To conclude. Pers ofBermingham is not a popular ballad, rude or otherwise. It is a satire skilfully wrought; it could not have been composed by an unlearned man, and it is hardly the work of a secular. It cannot be read even literally without acknowledging sophisticated word-play, some of it rooted in divine office; there are signs of that verbal exuberance which, endemic in the Missa de potatoribus (fols 13v-14v), infects the Satire on the Townsfolk and (in part) Sarmun and The Land of Cokaygne. Like much else in the Kildare poems, it is serious without being solemn, a disjunction ill at ease in the Protestant tradition. 19 The poem is not anti-Irish: it is

Pers of Bermingham


a damning epitaph for a man whose victims were prominently Irishmen, and whose reputation was an insult to Christian teaching. From a Franciscan quarter such an indictment is not altogether surprising. The Order's idealism often and inevitably sounded complaint against oppression, the voice of popular discontent; for the Franciscans, notably, did not identify their interests with those of the secular establishment. It is true that Pers was buried at the Gray Abbey, but not every brother need have approved; the mendicant orders were forbidden to solicit for the last resting-places of the great, but neither could they refuse them if asked. It is true also that conflict between Irish and English stained the Franciscans themselves, in one case (allegedly) with sixteen deaths (Otway-Ruthven 1968: 138-39). Lydon refers to racism as rampant in the Order (1987c: 242), but anti-Irish sentiment among the Franciscans Englishby-blood was hardly an act of obedience; and the poem, whatever its origin, is not a public manifesto. It would be a mistake nevertheless to read it as propaganda in the Irish cause, a companion-piece to O'Neill's remonstrance: the target is Pers, and the enemy's enemy cannot be assumed to be a friend. From a literary point of view, the poem is otherwise remarkable. Sustained personal satire is hardly to be found in English of this date. There are indeed other satires in fourteenth-century English, but save for glancing blows, they are nearly all directed at groups or manners, not individuals. For this there is good reason. Men worth satirizing were usually powerful; the literate classes depended on their patronage, and the peculiar forms it took in feudal England - particularly, endowment and ecclesiastical preferment - were not such as to encourage the genre. It was also dangerous: in times when honest complaint could count as treason, to ridicule the great was to court a barbarous death. What has been lost we cannot know: anything of this sort is likely to have been fugitive, whether written down or passed by word of mouth. Even in an English setting, therefore, Pers of Bermingham may be less isolated than appears. In Ireland, by contrast, excoriation in verse was publicly sanctioned. The Irish poet belonged to a professional learned class, on a footing with priests and jurists. His denunciations were feared as curses rather than as satires; bardic invectives could be political instruments, and they destroyed. By the same token, the bard's praise could ensure greatness; he found patrons among the colonial aristocracy as well as within the old order. 20 In spirit, Pers of Bermingham may well be indebted to goliardic tradition, but as literary form it finds natural place in the Irish. Even its cultural affinities are less determinedly English than the literary historians have presupposed.


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Pers of Bermingham (MS fols. 50r-51v 1

Sith gabriel gan grete. vre lewedi mari swete. J)at godde wold in hir li3te A Jjousand 3er hit isse J)re hundred ful i-wisse And ouer 3eris ei3te.


J)an of ]?e ei3t 3ere. take twies ten ifere {Dat wol be . ^ . fülle r Apan Jje .xx. dai of aueril bi-for mai So def) vs gan to pulle.


he pullid us of on al irlond makij) mon Engeion ek as welle .w ful wel ye21 witte his nam sire pers Jje bnmghom No/i nede hit is to teile.


his nam hit was and isse y sigge 30U ful i-wisse J)at vppe ssal arise in feile flesse and bone a better kni3t nas none no none of more pnse.


Noble werrure he was. and gode castel in place on stede )>er he wold ride wij) his sper and scheid in hard wodde and feld no Jjef him durst abide.


do ]?enchi]5 al in him. wij) weepin who wol win hou gode he was to nede in batail stif to stond i-wis is pere nas nond 22 alas he sold be dede.

Pers of



al englis men \>at bejj sore mow wep is dejj J>at such a knÍ3t ssold fall ]sos knÍ3tis euchone of h\m mai make mone as peruink23 of ham alie.


peruink he mi3t be and J)at for Jjinges jare he vssid oft and lome t>at was one of £>e best he ne leet no {jef hab rest in no stid per he come


an ojper J)ing al so to yrismen he was fo J>at wel wide whare eu er he rodé aboute wijj streinj) to hu«t ham vte as hunter doj) J>e haré


for whan hi wend best in wildernis hab rest (>at no man ssold ha/n see Jjan he wold driue aquest ano« to har nest In stid \>er hi wold be


of slep he wold hara wake for ferdnis hi wold quake and fond to sculk awai. for (Jje) hire of har bedde he toke har heuid to wedde. and so he ta^t haw plai.


{JOS yrismen of t>e lond hi swor a nd tok an hond l>e englis men to trai and seid hi wold quelle as fale as ic 30U telle Al apon o dai.

Michael Benskin J>e eri of vluester Sire emond £>e botiler Sire Ion le f i j tomas algate al bi name Sire pers f)e brimghame ]?is was har compas {)is compasmewt co m vte iram knijt to knijt abute hit nas no3t lang ihidde {JOS knijtis preid al Jwt mescha«s most hawi fai 3Ìf scap(e) hi ssold ]per midde and swor bi god is name to 3ÌW t>e cuntre-pane24 whan hi mÌ3t co m to. and ]3is Jjing ssold be do. Lang er J>is dai was co m hit was for-3Ìt wij) som Jwt neisse bej) to nede alas what ssold hi i-bor J)ro3 ha m J)is lond is ilor to spille ale and bred. Sire pers J>e bnmgham on ernist and agam J)is dai was in is t)03t he J)03t ordres to make what time he mÌ3t ha m take of trauail nas hiw no3t O konwir25 t>at was king his kej)erin26 he gan br/ng 27 J)e maister heet gilboie rÌ3t at Jje trinite whan hodes sold best be to pers in totomoye.28

Pers of Bermingham 19

and 3ite of oper stoore 29 com efcie m c malmore 3 0 and oper fale bi name, sire pers lokid vte he seei such arute him J)03t hit nas no game


Sire pers sei haw com (he) receiuid al and som no3t on iwernd nas si]j hoodis he let make no3t on nas for-sake bot al he did ham grace.


Saue o wreche {jot per was he cujje no3t red in place no sing whar he com r he was of caym is kinne and he refusid him he wend vnhodid horn


he pax £>is sang let mak for sir pers is sake wel wid ha{3 igo wid whar i-so3t and god pardon (i)-bro3t two hu/idrid daies and mo.



NOTE ON T H E TEXT The transcription is diplomatic, and manuscript punctuation is preserved. Abbreviations are conventionally expanded, and italicized; letters superscript, save for t in ¡3', are themselves in italics if expanded. Parentheses enclose interlinear insertions and (stz. 20) a marginal addition. Hyphens are editorial.

NOTES 1. For various improvements to the draft of this paper, I am indebted to Dr Inger Moen; and for discussion of certain points, to the Rev. Dr Paul S. Fiddes. 'Part II' implied by the present title treats the Kildare poems as a group, and is the remainder of what was


Michael Benskin

originally a single study of the literary contents of Harley 913. I hope to publish it in the near future. 2. For some recent account, see Mcintosh & Samuels 1968; Atlas I, 270-79 (from which list Harley 913 is inadvertently omitted); Bliss & Long 1987: 708-09; Benskin 1988, and references there cited. 3. Clearly not in the main hand are the following. (1) The Latin couplets on fol. 15r, beginning 'Nunc lege, nunc hora', and continued in the head margins of fols 15" and 16' (Anglicana, not fully cursive, and co-aeval with the main hand). (2) The lower half of fol. 15\ which repeats the couplet at the top of fol. 16r, and continues 'Ad extrahendum salsamentum (?) de potagio' (secretary, late 15th century). The same hand is responsible also for the prophetic piece at the foot of fol. 53v, beginning 'Bruti posteritas', and for titles inserted on fol. 25 r (mid) and fol. 25" (foot). (3) The second item on fol. 39r, 'Aue capud cristi gradum', in a script very similar to that noted in (1) above, but not identical with it. The first sixteen lines of fol. 24v ('Incipit indulgentia portiuncule sicut earn habuit beatus Franciscus a domino') are in a tiny debased textura, which, size apart, is not distinguishable from the main hand. The heavily contracted Anglicana that continues the text, in the same ink, is probably the work of the same scribe; this script continues to fol. 27v, concluding the collection on fol. 23v (the foliation is disturbed). The Anglicana is similar in general appearance to plate 16(i) in Parkes 1969: 'written towards the end of the thirteenth century ... . Typical example of the cursive handwriting found in university books at this time' (MS Bodleian Digby 55, fol. 146'). 4. The most telling feature is the apparent replacement of chirch by in-line cherch and church: the first form is usual in MHE, but in Waterford documents, the otherwise rare cherch, and more widespread church, are dominant. The evidence will be set out in full in a forthcoming study of the language of the Kildare poems; it has long been in typescript, and privately circulated, but awaits revision. 5. On Heuser's proposed identification of the 'grei abbei' in The Land of Cokaygne with the Gray Abbey at Kildare, see Professor G.V. Smithers' objections, to my mind conclusive, on p. 341 of Bennett & Smithers 1968. 6. For some account of this movement, see Jeffrey 1975 (esp. chap. 1), which work contains a useful bibliography. 7. I.e., 13 April 1308. The year begins on 25 March, i.e. Lady Day or the Feast of the Annunciation, a standard reckoning invoked by the first three lines of the poem. (On the beginning of the year of grace, see Cheney 1978: 3-5.) The date has been the subject of extraordinary confusion. With Wanley, Croker (1839: 238) misread the year as 1288; the error was duly noted by Heuser (1904: 18). Pers died in 1308. The first stanza produces 1308 years (1000+300+8); in the second, 'J>an of J)e eijt 3ere take twies ten ifere' refers to twenty (2 X 10) days within 1308, as lines 3-4 confirm, not years to be taken from 1308. Heuser (1904: 158) cited other sources to the effect that Pers died in 1308, but was himself mistaken in thinking that the poem's date is 20 April. His authorities say that Pers died 'idibus April'. (Grace's Annals, s.a.); 'Secundo idus Aprilis' (Chart. St Mary's Abbey, Dublin, II: 336); and 'in vigilia Pasche' (ibid., II. 281). The ides of April fall on the 13th; in the Roman calendar, 20 April is 'ante diem duodecimum Kalendas Maias', in no event 'idibus Aprilis'. Neither can 20 April be 'in vigilia Pasche', for in 1308 Easter fell on 14 April. The seeming waywardness of the poem's date arises because Heuser, followed by Seymour (1929: 82, 88), took lines 4-5 of stanza 2 to mean 'the twentieth day of April', not realizing that these lines are a gratuitous parenthesis: to paraphrase, 'in 1308, on the twentieth day - it falls in April, which comes before May - then death deprived us'. (The periphrastic gan in line 6 is all of a piece with revelation by degrees.) Seymour, committed to 20 April,

Pers of Bermingham


thought that 'for the writer of the poem the year 1307 ended on the last day of March' and noted that 'the method of dating is peculiar' (1929: 88). There is, indeed, no warrant for it; whereas counting from 25 March, which is entirely orthodox, produces the 'in vigilia Pasche' and 'idibus Aprilis' of other authorities, viz. 13 April. This date, however, does not square with 'Secundo idus Aprilis', which is 12 April by classical reckoning ('secundo' = 'pridie') but could be 11 April by mediaeval count (cf. Cheney 1978: 75). '2 Id. Aprilis' appears also in Necrol. Timoleague, cited by Fitzmaurice & Little (1920: 88); they add, however, 'in vigilia Pasee' from the annals in Cotton Vespasian B. xi (fol. 131). Their own reading of the poem's date is the twentieth day of April counting backwards from May, which produces 11 or possibly 12 April. Certainly dates could be so expressed; the retrograde count, echoing Roman usage, was a clerkly affectation, and by themselves, lines 4-5 of stanza 2 could be naturally so read. If that be the correct interpretation, then the evidence for the poem's learned origins is so much the stronger; but the Annunciation as the start of the count and the weight of other authorities tell against it. It is not impossible that 'in vigilia Pasche' reflects assimilation to a cardinal date in the calendar, and that 11/12 April is historically correct. 8. Otway-Ruthven 1968: 219. Historical accounts of the episode appear also in Orpen 1920 (vol. IV): 35-36; Curtis 1938: 191-92; Lydon 1987c: 267-68. Cf. Seymour's exposition (1929: 82-88). 9. See OED s.v. wedsb., senses l.a, 2.a, 2.b, 4. 10. For a text in translation, see Curtis & McDowell 1943: 38-46 (on Pers of Bermingham, p. 42); for commentary, Lydon 1987c: 242-45. 11. CJR II: 82 (cf. p. 270); CDI, no. 434. 12. OED s.v. wed sb., 5. 13. Ibid., senses l.b, 2.c, 4. 14. OED s.v. nesh a., senses 2.a & 2.b; MED s.v. neshe, sense 2(c). 15. On Pers' indenture of service, see Lydon 1987b: 185. 16. See Nicholls 1972: 3-43 (esp. pp. 8-12 on the lineages and expansion of the clans). 17. OED s.v. warn v.', II.2/3 'put on guard'; warn v.2, sense 1 'refuse, deny' (see the article on v.2 for the confusion of these verbs), warn v.3 (OFr. warnir) 'protect, defend' may also be relevant here: guests at table were not heavily armed, if at all. 18. MED s.vv. hoden v. (1) & v. (2). 19. Cf. Meier 1981: 375; literary criticism, in so far as it involves the translation of culture, has much to learn from anthropological technique. 20. On the filé and the bards, see (e.g.) Hyde 1967: 486-97; Carney 1959; & 1987: 69497; Nicholls 1972: 79-84. The tradition still lives. Patrick Kavanagh, in The Green Fool (1971) describes how his poetic services were sought by a man with a grudge against his neighbours: 'I want ye to make a ballad on them, a good, strong, poisonous ballad ... I'll give ye the facts, and you'll make the ballad' (p. 327). 21. Altered from pe. 22. nond 'none'. Excrescent d is a back spelling, depending on the characteristic MHE reduction of / n d / to / n / . The rhyme, if good, is on / n / , with /sto:n/ or /ston/ for stond. 23. peruink. (See also stz. 8: 1.) See MED s.v. pervink(e). The present text is MED's earliest citation for the figurative sense (b) 'paragon'. The primary sense, 'periwinkle' (the flower), is first recorded from 1307. 24. cuntre-pane. See MED s.v. contrepane n., for which this text provides the earliest citation. The gloss is inadequate: cf. OED s.vv. counterpane1 and counter-pawn. OFr. contrepan is not merely 'opposite or corresponding part', but also contractual, 'a pledge, security, assurance of property'. Cf. the commentary on wedde in stz. 11, pp. 62-63 above. 25. O konwir. Muichertach Ó Conchobhair Failghe (O'Connor Faly), king of Ui Failghe (Offaly). For the genealogy, see NHIIX: 150.

74 26. 27. 28. now

Michael Benskin keperin. ' K e r n e ' , i.e. footsoldiers. See f u r t h e r Nicholls 1972: 85-87. gilboie. Gilla Buidhe, pers. n o m . , the captain of kerne. totomoye. T e t h m o y , adjacent t o C a r b u r y : the baronies W a r r e n s t o w n and Coolestown, in Offaly but formerly part of Kildare. F o r a m a p , see O t w a y - R u t h v e n 1959.

29. stoore. Corrected to store, written above, in different ink but p r o b a b l y the same h a n d ; 'a body of persons' (see OED s.v. store sb., sense 3). 30.

ejx mcmalmore.

A e d h M a c M a e l m o r d h a , a kinsman of Muichertach.

REFERENCES d ' A n g e l o , B. 1982. 'Poesia francescana inglese p r i m a di G e o f f r e y C h a u c e r (1340?-1400).' Archivum Franciscanum Historicum 75: 320-61. Atlas = A Linguistic Atlas of Late Mediaeval English, by A. M c i n t o s h , M.L. Samuels & M. Benskin, with the assistance of M. Laing & K. Williamson. 1986. Aberdeen: A b e r d e e n University Press, 4 vols. Bennett, J . A . W . & G.V. Smithers (eds). 1966. Early Middle English Verse and Prose. W i t h a glossary by N. Davis. Oxford: C l a r e n d o n Press. 2nd edn. 1968. Benskin, M. 1988. 'Irish a d o p t i o n s in the English of Tipperary, ca. 1432.' In E . G . Stanley & T . F . H o a d (eds), Words for Robert Burchfield's Sixty-Fifth Birthday. Cambridge: Brewer. 37-67. Benskin, M. & M. Laing. 1981. ' T r a n s l a t i o n s a n d Mischsprachen in Middle English m a n u scripts'. In Benskin & Samuels 1981. 55-106. Benskin, M. & M.L. Samuels. 1981. So meny people longages and tonges. Philological essays in Scots and mediaeval English presented to Angus Mcintosh. E d i n b u r g h : the editors. Bliss, A. 1984. ' L a n g u a g e and literature.' In J . L y d o n (ed.), The English in Medieval Ireland. Dublin: Royal Irish Academy. 27-45. Bliss, A. & J. Long. 1987. 'Literature in N o r m a n French and English to 1534.' In Cosgrove 1987. 708-36. Carney, J . 1987. 'Literature in Irish.' In Cosgrove 1987. 688-707. Carney, J. (ed.). 1945. Poems on the Butlers of Ormond, Cahir and Dunboyne (A.D. 14001650). Dublin: Institute for Advanced Studies. CDI = Calendar of Documents Relating to Ireland. Vol. V (1302-7). Ed. H.S. Sweetman (cont. G . F . H a n d c o c k ) . L o n d o n : L o n g m a n et al., 1886. Cheney, C.R. (ed.). 1978. Handbook of Dates for Students of English History. Royal Historical Society Guides and H a n d b o o k s no. 4. L o n d o n : R.H.S. CJR = Calendar of the Justiciary Rolls or Proceedings in the Court of the Justiciar of Ireland preserved in the Public Record Office of Ireland: Edward I. Vols. I ( D u b l i n : H M S O , 1905) & II ( L o n d o n : H M S O , 1914), ed. J . Mills. Vol. I l l (Dublin: H M S O , 1956), ed. M.C. Griffith. Cosgrove, A. (ed.). 1987. Medieval Ireland 1169-1534. Being Vol. II of A New History of Ireland under the auspices of the Royal Irish Academy. O x f o r d : C l a r e n d o n Press. Croker, T.C. 1839. The Popular Songs of Ireland. Ed. H. Morley. L o n d o n , 1886. Curtis, E. 1938. A History of Medieval Ireland from 1086 to 1513. New York: Barnes & Noble. L o n d o n : M e t h u e n . Repr. 1968. Curtis, E. 1950. A History of Ireland. 6th rev. edn. L o n d o n : Methuen. Curtis, E. & R.B. McDowell (eds). 1943. Irish Historical Documents 1172-1922. L o n d o n : Methuen. Fitzmaurice, E.B. & A . G . Little. 1920. Materials for the History of the Franciscan Province of Ireland, A.D. 1230-1450. British Society of Franciscan Studies IX. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

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Henry, P.L. 1971. 'The Land of Cokaygne: cultures in contact in medieval Ireland'. In Sencer Tongug (ed.), English Studies Today 5th series (Papers read at the eighth conference of the International Association of University Professors of English, held at Istanbul, August 1971). Istanbul: Matbaasi 1973. 175-203. Heuser, W. 1904. Die Kildare-Gedichte. Die ältesten mittelenglischen Denkmäler in angloirischer Überlieferung. Bonner Beiträge zur Anglistik XIV. Repr. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1965. Hyde, D. 1967. A Literary History of Ireland, from earliest times to the present day. New edn, with intro. by Brian O Cuiv (1st edn 1899). London: Ernest Benn. Jeffares, A.N. 1982. Anglo-Irish Literature. Macmillan History of Literature. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan. Jeffrey, D.L. 1975. The Early English Lyric & Franciscan Spirituality. Lincoln, Ne. University of Nebraska Press. Kavanagh, P. 1971. The Green Fool. London: Brian & O'Keeffe. Kinsella, T. (ed.). 1986. The New Oxford Book of Irish Verse. Oxford & New York: OUP. Lydon, J. 1987a. 'The expansion and consolidation of the colony, 1215-54.' In Cosgrove 1987. 156-78. Lydon, J. (1987b). 'The years of crisis, 1254-1315.' In Cosgrove 1987. 179-204. Lydon, J. (1987c). 'A land of war.' In Cosgrove 1987. 240-74. Mcintosh, A. & M.L. Samuels. 1968. 'Prolegomena to a study of mediaeval Anglo-Irish.' Medium ALvum 37: 1-11. Meier, H.H. 1974. 'Middle English styles in action.' English Studies 55: 193-204. Meier, H.H. 1979. 'Middle English styles in translation: a note on Everyman and Caxton's Reynard.' In Richard Todd & J.B.H. Alblas (eds.) From Caxton to Beckett. Amsterdam: Rodopi. 13-30. Meier, H.H. 1981. 'Middle English styles in translation: the case of Chaucer and Charles.' In Benskin & Samuels 1981. 367-76. NHIIX — A New History of Ireland under the auspices of the Royal Irish Academy. Vol. IX. Ed. T.W. Moody, F.X. Martin & F.J. Byrne: Maps, Genealogies, Lists (A companion to Irish History, Part II). Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984. Nicholls, K. 1972. Gaelic and Gaelicised Ireland in the Middle Ages. Gill History of Ireland 4. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan. Orpen, G.H. (1911-20). Ireland under the Normans. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 4 vols. Repr. 1968. Otway-Ruthven, [A.] J. 1959. 'The medieval county of Kildare.' Irish Historical Studies 11: 181-99. Otway-Ruthven, A.J. 1968. A History of Medieval Ireland. London: Ernest Benn. New York: Barnes & Noble. Parkes, M.B. 1969. English Cursive Book Hands 1250-1500. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Repr. London: Scolar, 1979. Robbins, R.H. 1975. 'Poems dealing with contemporary conditions.' In A.E. Härtung (ed.), A Manual of the Writings in Middle English 1050-1500. Vol. V: 1385-1536. Hamden, Conn.: Archon, for the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1975. Seymour, St. J.D. 1929. Anglo-Irish Literature 1200-1582. Cambridge: CUP. Wells, J.E. 1916. A Manual of the Writings in Middle English 1050-1400. New Haven: Yale UP.

Some aspects of theme and structure in Pers of Bermingham1 Maren-Sofie Rostvig and Michael Benskin

Pers of Bermingham consists of twenty-two stanzas. It falls naturally and decisively into two parts: the first eleven stanzas record the fact of Pers' death, and present the character of the deceased as an essential part of the obituary; the rest of the poem recounts a single historical episode in his career, the slaughter of the O'Connors (stzs. 12-21), and is concluded by the poet's envoi. For convenience only, we shall refer to these as 'Part I' and 'Part II'. Part I opens with the Annunciation, from which the date of a death is stated in riddling and portentous fashion. Suspense is maintained until the penultimate line of stz. 3, where the subject is revealed as Pers of Bermingham. It is remarkable that his obit should be calculated from the Annunciation rather than from the Nativity, and this of itself would condition a contemporary reader's response. The Annunciation was a promise of future greatness. In stating that it is 1308 years since Gabriel greeted Mary, the poet creates an expectation that what is to follow will have some connection with this promise, perhaps a story of an imitatio Cristi. As will appear from the previous study (pp. 57-75 above), a mock identity of Pers with Christ is very much to the satirist's point. It is not until the divine context is securely established that the subject of the obituary is announced even as a secular; and his identification as a Christ-like figure is developed in various ways. The curiously circumstantial statement of the day of his death conveys the same sense of the 'mystery' of numbers as many biblical accounts were supposed to do. We are to take a thousand years, then three hundred, and finally eight. In the eighth year we must take 'twies ten' days, which, we are told, will make a full 'XX.' Upon the twentieth ('XX') day of 1308, 'dejj vs gan to pulle.' (On the calculation, see n. 7 above, p. 72). Readers familiar with the ways of patristic and medieval exegesis will recognize the tenor. Every little detail is made to seem full of hidden meanings of a momentous character (cf. Restvig 1970). Consider firstly the number eight, twice stated and a prominent linkage between stz. 1 and stz. 2. Because Christ rose on the eighth day of Easter week, eight signifies the transition to eternal life. The very day of Pers' death is 'in vigilia Pasche,' the eve of the Resurrection. Consider further the use of the roman numeral 'XX' in stz. 2. The writing of figures instead


Maren-Sofie Restvig and Michael Benskin

of the number-name is not in itself remarkable; it is less usual in verse than in prose, though there are several examples in other of the Kildare poems. Here, however, the symbol has particular point: the roman letter 'X' was traditionally taken to signify Christ and the Cross, a commonplace in medieval thought. As it happens, the manuscript in which the present poem is preserved itself contains a brief exposition of the spiritual significance of the letters of the roman alphabet (ff. lv-2r). There, 'A' is said to betoken the Trinity; for just as 'A' has three angles and yet is one letter, so the Trinity contains three persons though God is one. 'Z,' by virtue of its two branches (ramos), is to be understood as the active and contemplative life. 'X' is simply 'cristus'. In stz. 2 of the poem, 'twenty' is made prominent by being twice stated, and its rendering as 'XX' is a cue for Christ and the Cross. From the Annunciation to the Passion is in any case a natural or even instinctive progression of thought, because in homilies, religious poems, and Christian iconography, the Annunciation and Nativity are usually juxtaposed with the Crucifixion. 2 In the first three stanzas of the poem, therefore, a passion if not a resurrection is clearly foreshadowed. And a resurrection is duly promised in stz. 4: Sir Pers 'vppe ssal arise, in felle flesse and bone,' which substantially outbids the New Testament's promise that the dead shall arise not in a gross but a spiritual embodiment. For Pers, the poet promises altogether too much of an alliterative good thing; the diction evokes the butcher's slab and the tone brushes shoulders with Goliardic knockabout. Similarly, the third and fourth stanzas proclaim universal mourning for the death of him whose name is and was Sir Pers of Bermingham, and who 'vppe ssal arise.' In other words, Sir Pers encompasses all of time, past, present, and future, like the Deity: he is, was, and shall be. The liturgical phraseology is unmistakable: this is more of a litany to the departed, than for him. In the presentation of Sir Pers' character (stzs. 5-11), yet another absurdity is foregrounded: this noble warrior with the 'gode castel,' 'his sper and scheld,' is curiously obsessed with thieves. No thief, says the poet, dared face him (5.6); yet the thief on the cross had dared to ask Christ's forgiveness. Sir Pers let no thief have rest, and that was one of the three things for which he was knighthood's nonpareil (stz. 8); but Christ gave the thief eternal rest - requiem eternam in the office of the dead. Rest, even overnight, was withheld from Sir Pers' quarry; for in his realm, the price of a bed was death (stzs. 10-11). His victims abed were not thieves, but 'yrismen'; yet, partly by repetition of the rhyme on best and rest (8.4-5; 10.1-2), the distinction between them is blurred. All this is the conduct of a knight entirely devoid of honour and mercy, and certainly no miles Cristi. Elaborate description serves a mock-heroic end; this is satire thinly disguised as exorbitant praise. The antitheses of

Some aspects of theme and structure in Pers of Bermingham


Sir Pers' acts with Christ's are sufficiently obvious; in the sixth stanza, which is prominent as the mid-point of Part I, Sir Pers is held up as the model for all who aspire to victory in arms ('wij) weepin who wol win'), and antithesis seems to be generalized as between secular and divine. Readers or listeners could of course judge from the following narrative how good Sir Pers was 'to nede,' if indeed they did not know already. But it will be remembered that Christ's victory entailed the paradox of secular defeat, the Crucifixion. During His arrest in Gethsemane, He had restrained Peter's sword (John 18.10), saying that all those who take up the sword, shall perish by it (Matt. 26.52); in the Pauline teaching, the Redemption was the victory of perfect love, and 'Caritas patiens est, benigna est ... non irritatur' (I Cor. 13.4-7). In a milieu saturated by St. Bernard's teaching on the suffering of Christ as man, 3 'in batail stif to stond' is a fundamentally un-Christ-like image; in western Europe, Cristus miles - as opposed to miles Cristi - by this date belongs to the heroic traditions of an older, warrior society (cf. Southern 1953: 221-29). Here, the poet seems to glance at the inadequacy of the martial ethic itself, as well as casting aspersions on the way Sir Pers lived up to it. Not for him, at all events, the sword of the spirit, the shield of faith, or the breastplate of righteousness (cf. Eph. 6.10-17). To conclude our remarks on the counterpointing of Sir Pers and Christ, we turn to the final stanza of Part I. The semantic complexity of wedde 'surety' has already been noticed (pp. 62-63 above); now that the mock imitatio Cristi in stzs. 1-4 has been recognized, further resonances may be detected. Whereas Christ is man's spiritual head - caput, I Cor. 11.3 and Eph. 5.23 - and the forfeit of His own life was the price of man's redemption, Sir Pers pursued heads without remorse, precisely for the sake of their redemption values. 4 Sir Pers' conversion of caput into coinage - his reward as a bounty-hunter - aligns him firmly with Judas, the Christian byword for betrayal; and this is the cue for the main theme of Part II, Sir Pers' triumph over the O'Connors. From the foregoing analysis it will now be clear why the account of the massacre is in the language of liturgy (see above, pp. 63-65): Sir Pers, a mock divinity who is, was, and shall be, there officiates as his own chief priest. For in spite of his return to the mundane condition in the character sketch (stzs. 7-11) and then historical narrative of stzs. 12-16, divine attributes are re-awakened in the crucial medial stanza as a prelude to the slaughter on Trinity Sunday. His intention, when it was in his power to take his enemy, was to make 'ordres' (17.4). Given the date of the poem, these 'ordres' can only be ecclesiastical: 'necessary arrangements,' still more so 'commands,' are out of the question. The primary meaning of make ordres involves an admission to Holy Orders: the intended killing is a rite of consecration. 5 The ground is clearly prepared, therefore, for


Maren-Sofie Restvig and Michael Benskin

the essential motifs in the allusive description of the massacre, the play on hoods (18.5, 20.4) and vnhodid (21.6) (cf. p. 65 above). In the workingout of mock-divine grace, the poem is much more carefully integrated than has appeared hitherto. In the structure of the poem, number symbolism again plays a part. As we have observed, the poem divides evenly into 11+11 stanzas, but 11 is the notorious number of transgression; it transgresses by going beyond the just number of the Decalogue. A more decorous division would have been 10+12, as found in the 22 groups of 8 verses which constitute Psalm 119 (Vulgate 118). The common exegetical gloss is that this psalm with its 22 'stanzas' is divided into 10+12 because it tells us all that we need to know about salvation, and salvation is gained through the Law and the Apostles (cf. Rostvig 1970: 50 ff.). Decorum of a kind is observed in the threefold occurrence of the line 'Sire Pers ]3e Brimingham' (3.5, 13.5, 17.1), whose name is, was, and shall be. Then, too, Sir Pers is renowned for '^inges jjre' (8.1): he let no thief have rest, he pursued Irishmen to their deaths, and he destroyed O'Connor and his retinue. Likewise, there are three named besides Sir Pers as the intended victims of the Irish plot (st. 13), and of Sir Pers' guests for the Feast of the Holy Trinity, three only are named (stzs. 18-19). The structural diagram, showing the contents and the significant verbal repetitions, reveals a surprising degree of patterning. We observe that the rhyme word in the last line of stzs. 1 and 2, and in line 4 of stz. 3, is repeated in the first line of the stanza which follows, so linking the four stanzas. But this is not all. The rhymes isse/iwisse link stz. 1 with stz. 4 as if to emphasize the point that this is an introductory sub-structure. This technique of linking stanzas by means of verbal repetitions and identical rhyme words was developed to a fine art in Spenser's The Faerie Queene (Restvig 1980); a related device, concatenatio, is best illustrated by reference to Pearl.6 The first narrative segment, the presentation of Sir Pers' character in stzs. 5-11, lacks the tight structural symmetry of the introduction, but is still clearly a unity. Its first and medial stanzas highlight Sir Pers' hostility towards thieves, whereas in the last his victims are Irishmen; but the furtive behaviour attributed to his quarry in stz. 11 - 'fond to sculk awai' - recalls rather the thieves of stzs. 5 and 8 than the 'yrismen' of stz. 9, and so completes a thematic linkage of sorts. Stzs. 9-11 make up an obvious subsection of the portrait of Pers, but are bonded to the whole by repeated rhyme {best/rest 8.4-5, 10.1-2). The excellence of Sir Pers' character is re-asserted in the centre of this character-sketch (peruink, 8.1), and as a prelude to the account of his three great works; but it is the central stanza

Some aspects of theme and structure in Pers of Bermingham


STRUCTURAL D I A G R A M 1. Annunciation, death, resurrection GRACE

—Annunciation Death His name Resurrection

— 1 2 3 — 4

eijte isse / ful i-wisse ei3t / pulle He pullid / nam His nam isse / ful i-wisse

2. Pursuit of thieves and Irishmen - Lament for Sir Pers — 5 whose 'pere nas nond' 6 7 His excellence in '{)inges Jjre' - 8 9 10 — Heads are lost —11

No Jjef him durst abide peruink peruink; best / He ne leet no ]jef hab restaboute / vte best / hab rest -ai rhymes Of slep he wold ham wake;

3. Plot and counterplot — Irishmen swear betrayal of four magnates Magnates swear revenge All but one forget — Sir Pers turns thought to action


All but one lose their heads — Indulgence obtained -


-ai rhymes -

compas 13 name 14 vte / aboute- -compasment 15 name 16 17 agam\ pojt / He ¡503t ordres to make — 18 19 name; Him ]303t hit nas no game 20 21 - 22 He J)at J)is song let mak

Words placed in rhyme position are italicized. Repetitions of rhyme pairs (as in stzs. 1 and 4, 8 and 10) are obviously more convincing evidence of a plan than are repetitions of a single rhyme word: some repetition is to be expected in any substantial text. Contributing to thematic unity, but not foregrounded by the rhyme pattern, is dai (2.4 rh., 12.6 rh., 15.5, 16.1, 17.3); other repetitions appear to be incidental only.

of Part I as a whole that is reserved for the full statement of his unique martial valour ('Iwis is pere nas nond,' 6.5) and the cry of lament ('Alas he sold be dede,' 6.6). In Part II, the central accent falls on the stanza where Sir Pers arranges the destruction of the O'Connors (stz. 17). This is the turning-point, where intention (stzs. 12-16) is made action (stzs. 18-21) - pojt becomes trauail. Sir Pers' constant awareness of the plan, in contrast with those who forgot



R0Stvig and Michael


it, is brought out by verbal repetition at the mid-point, the centre of stz. 17. Here, as in stzs. 1-4, a rhyme word is repeated in the next line: 'J)is dai was in his J)03t / he Jjojt ordres to make ...' The narrative in Part II moves with symmetrical power towards the same kind of climax as in stz. 11: Irishmen once again lose their heads, and in circumstances so lacking in knightly decorum that ignominy recoils on the perpetrator's own head. The verbal linkage between stzs. 9 and 14 (aboute/vte), which stanzas are themselves framed by rhyme-linked stanzas, suggests an effort to establish overall symmetry. So also the stanzas on either side of the division between Part I and Part II are linked, uniquely in this poem, by the shared rhyme phoneme in their third and sixth lines ( a w a i / p l a i / t r a i / d a i ) . And the last stanza may be said to return to the beginning. The reference to an indulgence granting remission for two hundred days and more, perhaps invokes the kind of number symbolism found in the opening stanzas, though it is difficult to see what meaning may be intended. Like 11, 2 is a number of sin, in that it departs f r o m unity, and multiplication by 100 may intensify it. W h a t is certain, however, is that an act of grace connects the end with the beginning: the grace shown to the Blessed Virgin, and the grace implicit in the indulgence. But to juxtapose the two is of course to highlight the difference. The grace extended after the massacre of O ' C o n n o r and his retinue is a poor match for the grace bestowed through the child whose own death will pay the ransom to redeem all men. It is difficult to speak with confidence about all of these structural phenomena, but the overall impression is clear: words and phrases have been selected and placed with considerable care. This is no haphazard composition, but a poem full of allusions and seemingly innocuous statements which, on closer examination, reveal a powerful satirical thrust. The satirical veil is an essential part of the mock-heroic commemoration, however, and was certainly less difficult to penetrate in the poet's time. Today, we have to struggle a bit to retrieve appropriate contexts for what seems such a naive little poem. G o o d satire, though, is often deceptively simple at first. As in the case of A Modest Proposal, appearances cannot always be trusted.

NOTES 1. This paper arose from our discussion of the article on Sir Pers of Bermingham preceding (pp. 57-75) above), long after it had gone to press. We are grateful to the editors for allowing us to include what is now, in effect, a postscript to the original analysis. 2. For example, the traditional lament of the Virgin Mary for her son in the poem by Constantine the Rhodian (Composed 931-44) recalls the promises of the Annunciation in

Some aspects of theme and structure in Pers of Bermingham


the ubi sunt sequence 'Where are the promises of Gabriel's speech ...? Where are the sceptres of David and where is the exalted throne? ... Everything has gone stale and has been said in vain' (text from Maguire 1981: 101). 3. Very good examples of this sensibility appear in the verses on fol. 28 of the Kildare poems manuscript, 'Christ on the Cross' (ed. Heuser 1904: 128-29). 4. Redemptio, 'a buying back,' belongs as much to commerce as to theology. ME wed(d) can be used of a hostage (OED s.v., 1), as well as of a financial surety; redemptio (whence, via OFr., ransom) can release either of them (cf. OED s.v. wed sb., 2b). The central conceit of George Herbert's sonnet Redemption is a transmutation of the word's secular meaning into the divine. 5. Cf. MED s.v. ordre n., 7(d). Under 7(e), the sense 'give a blow on the head' is recorded, for which the present instance is the first citation; two other early fourteenth-century texts, Guy of Warwick and Otuel, provide clear evidence for such a meaning. Consecration in Holy Orders involved removal of hair from the head, in a tonsure; a blow laying bare part of the head might so be treated as a parody of ordination. Pace MED, however, it is here not a blow to the head, but the head's removal, that is at issue. The present poet's usage may be original, or perhaps a hyperbolic version of current idiom. 6. 'Love hauij) me b r o j t in lijjir |>o3t,' on fol. 58 of the Kildare poems manuscript, is a veritable tour de force in the technique of rhyme linkage: each line after the first begins with the rhyme word of the line preceding (see Heuser 1904: 165-66 for text and commentary).

REFERENCES Heuser, W. 1904. Die Kildare-Gedichte. Bonner Beiträge zur Anglistik 14. (Rept. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1965). Maguire, H. 1981. Art and eloquence in Byzantium. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. Rostvig, M.-S. 1970. 'Structure as prophecy: the influence of biblical exegesis upon theories of literary structure.' In A. Fowler (ed.), Silent Poetry: essays in numerological analysis. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Rostvig, M.-S. 1980. 'Canto structure in Tasso and Spenser.' In P. Cullen and T.P. Roche (eds), Spenser Studies: a renaissance poetry annual 1, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. Southern, R.W. 1953. The Making of the Middle Ages. Citation from reprint of 1967 (London: Hutchinson).

Is Sir Tristrem an English or a Scottish poem? Angus Mcintosh

Sir Tristrem survives (not quite complete) in only one copy; we owe the poem to a scribe who played a major part in assembling the large volume known as the Auchinleck Manuscript. This collection of verse texts dates from the fourth decade of the fourteenth century and was almost certainly compiled in London. The person who copied Sir Tristrem into it1 (he is one of six who had a hand in the manuscript) is responsible for over 70% of the surviving contents and the texts he contributes are to be found at various separate places in it; their beginnings and endings usually coincide with those of gatherings of the manuscript. The material that Scribe 1 (as I shall call him) copied would appear to have been linguistically quite various in character and he does not transform it by any means totally into his own kind of south-eastern Middle English. 2 His personal written-language habits can be derived with reasonable accuracy from an analysis of what he copied. For one may observe throughout his work, in texts which he took from probably widely different sources, the recurrent appearance of various forms with which he would, though not always regularly, replace those of his exemplars - forms that almost certainly reflect his own scribal predilections. Some knowledge of what is likely to have been superimposed by him in this way is a necessary prelude to the identification and assessment of those other forms which have not been tampered with and which therefore survive from the exemplars he worked from. Such survivals will not, of course, necessarily take us back to the Urtext; indeed, the assessment of which I speak must have to do mainly with the problem of determining the extent to which the survivals offer clues about the linguistic nature of that text. 3 Much work on these lines remains to be done. Sir Tristrem bears evident marks of descending from an original the language of which belonged somewhere far to the north of London. We should therefore seek in particular to learn as much as possible about the practice of Scribe 1 of the Auchinleck Manuscript whenever he was dealing with texts that show signs of stemming from the north. I have noticed only three further texts of this kind in the manuscript, and all of them are the work of Scribe 1. I list them, along with Sir Tristrem, below. The order of presentation reflects the possibility that the proximity of (ii) and (iii) to (i) in the manuscript may have relevance




to the question of whether the scribe took at least the first three texts f r o m a single source. References to editions and discussions of all four will be found in Pearsall and Cunningham (1977), xix-xxiv. (i) (ii) (iii) (iv)

Sir Tristrem (ST), fols. 281 r a -299v b The Four Foes of Mankind (FF), fols. 303r b -303v b Horn Childe and Maiden Rimnild (HC), fols. 317v a -323v b The Harrowing of Hell (HH), fols. 36r a (plus preceding stub) -37r b .

In an earlier paper (Mcintosh 1978) I tried to show that the version of F F underlying the Auchinleck text had a specifically (and very strongly) northern Middle English rather than a Scots character. I would add that I consider it highly unlikely, on the linguistic evidence, that behind this version there was ever a still earlier Scots version. For rather different reasons I should not regard the language of the original version of H C as likely to have been anything but northern Middle English. The geographical setting of the narrative is firmly Yorkshire and the whole theme is much more appropriate to northern England than to Scotland. Besides, the relics of northern vocabulary that the Auchinleck scribe lets through point to the same conclusion. F o r instance the verb hau^tel in line 549, here reflexive: 'prepare oneself' (from Scandinavian *ahtil-, see MED atlen v.), while c o m m o n in the north and north Midlands of England with a velar fricative and a back vowel, seems not to be found in this form in Scots (see DOST ettill v.). Certain other words for which Scribe 1 himself is highly unlikely to be responsible are also unattested in Scots but are recorded f r o m the northern half of England; an example is the preterite glised in line 173 (see MED glisen v.; the verb glisnen is of course more widely used). Of the four texts I have listed, only H H is preserved in any other manuscript than Auchinleck. It is unfortunate that neither of the other two versions of this poem (in Bodleian MS Digby 86 fols. 119r-120v and BL MS Harley 2253 fols. 55v-56v) provides much information about the language of the texts underlying them. But with the Auchinleck version the indications are - as with H C - that a northern Middle English text lies behind it, though perhaps at more than one remove. F r o m our present point of view its use of the form er 'are' ( H H line 137) is noteworthy since a Scots text would almost certainly have had ar. And heuenrik '(the kingdom of) heaven,' which occurs in rhyme (line 188) and is confirmed by the Harley reading heuenryke, while it is common in northern Middle English, seems (unlike kingrik and kinrik) not to be attested in Scots. So at least three of our four poems, it would seem, are more likely to be English than Scottish in origin. What then about Sir Tristrem? On the evidence of a study of the poem by itself, the case against its being

Is Sir Tristrem an English or a Scottish



originally Scots might seem rather weak. One might cite the absence of the form scho for 'she' and the use instead of sche, even in the one rhyme where the 3 sg. fem. nom. crops up (with be, se etc., line 237), since in any early Scots text, as indeed in most, but by no means all, northern Middle English ones, we should expect the -o form. 4 Also against a Scottish origin is the occurrence six times of er 'are.' For though it does not occur in rhyme, whereas are does once (line 3316), er is hardly a form that Scribe 1 himself would have introduced; 5 it is of course the most common northern Middle English form though ar(e) is well attested in certain parts of that area. In Scots a-forms of the word are normal and e-forms quite exceptional; if Sir Tristrem were originally a Scottish poem, the frequency of er forms in the Auchinleck text could not easily be explained except as the result of an alteration made by some intermediate northern English scribe. I had long thought that strong evidence in favour of a Scottish origin was its frequent use in rhyme of the form wes 'was'; there are eight examples of this beside only one of was (line 2852). In other than rhyme position, on the other hand, was is the regular form, in accordance with the Auchinleck scribe's own normal practice (e.g. 1, 5, 7, 35, 37). But it is at this point that the importance of examining all four of our texts becomes evident. For wes is also attested in the Auchinleck version of H H in rhyme with fles 'flesh' (201) whereas that text too uses was elsewhere than in rhyme-position (e.g. 33, 97, 108). The authorial status of this rhyme-form is supported by the parallel Harley reading wes\ fleyhs (195) and (up to a point) by Digby's was: fles (189) which corroborates the form of the noun, and where was must accordingly be regarded as a subsequent scribal modification. But this is not all: wes is also found in H C in rhyme with pes 'peace' (466-67), though again in this text the regular form other than in rhyme is was (e.g. 8, 11, 14, 15, 16). So in two of our three texts (ii)(iv) the use of wes in rhymes is attested, just as it is in Sir Tristrem; in the other text, F F , there happens to be no instance of the word for 'was' in any form, whether rhyming or not rhyming. In later medieval times the form wes is rarely encountered in England except in texts from part of the west Midland region. According to LALME, the main area in which it turns up encompasses Cheshire (where in later Middle English times it is evidently recessive), west Staffordshire, west Worcestershire, Herefordshire, west Gloucestershire and Monmouth; in these counties it is evidently the 'same' wes as that found in 'AB' language and, much earlier, in that represented by the Vespasian Psalter. Elsewhere there are sporadic cases in Warwickshire, in Kent (as also in OE) and in Somerset and East Devon. There are also still a few late Middle English instances in south Lincolnshire, Ely and Norfolk. For the north, information about the critically important period around 1300 is scanty but I shall




now try to show that it is not negligible. N o r is it confined to what I have cited above at second hand f r o m early non-northern copies (such as those in Auchinleck) of texts which I believe to have originated in the north. The great frequency of wes in Scots suggests that this form may well have still been current in at least some parts of the north of England as late as 1300. In that case it must have been replaced quite rapidly by was in these places; its almost total elimination during the fourteenth century in the Cheshire area would then be part of a geographically much more widespread process. If this is what happened, then far f r o m being surprised or puzzled to find rhyming examples of wes in southern copies of northern Middle English poems of fairly early date, we should actually expect to find them preserved there. But there is a further possible source of information bearing on the erstwhile use of wes in the north of England. Very few early texts (c. 1300 or before) survive in northern copies that are themselves early: most date from late in the fourteenth century at best. But in such as have been preserved one might hope to find traces of wes, especially in the rhymes of verse texts, even when the form was alien to the copyists. Indeed, provided that the date of composition of such texts was sufficiently early one might well encounter examples of the form in quite late copies. Attestations in northern copies would not of course necessarily provide basically more reliable testimony about the Urtext than those in some non-northern copy like Auchinleck. They would however more convincingly confirm the authenticity of wes as a current or previous northern form because examples of it could scarcely be held (as might conceivably be claimed of cases in Auchinleck) to be mere later scribal modifications. But we should not expect every such copy, however carefully made, of all early northern Middle English texts to preserve instances of wes. F o r there are no grounds for believing that wes was ever current over the entire north of England. A question with obvious relevance to the place of origin of Sir Tristrem therefore now arises: can anything helpful be said about where in the north a r o u n d 1300 the form was probably current? A small point bearing on this question may now be mentioned. In a paper already cited (Mcintosh 1978: 38, n. 8) I noted that some of the lyrics in the Vernon Manuscript appear there in a f o r m which betrays an origin somewhat further north in the West Midlands, perhaps in Cheshire; I even suggested in that paper, without incurring subsequent abuse, the possibility that at least two of them might turn out to be the work of the Gawain-poet. Beside these lyrics, the manuscript also contains (fol. 301v ff.) a longer poem, A disputation between a Christian and a Jew,6 which was evidently copied f r o m an exemplar containing some distinctly northerly forms. These point to an origin for the poem somewhere further

Is Sir Tristrem an English or a Scottish poem?


north-east than Cheshire. The rhymes attest a non-rounded vowel in words containing the reflex of OE a, and though this is not conclusive in itself the occurrence of the word ryk 'kingdom' in rhyme with Berwyk (307) and the evidence for an underlying form es 'is,' copied indeed as is but rhyming with mes and les (70), point in the same direction. But that the area of origin was nevertheless not very far north-east of Cheshire is suggested by the presence in rhyme (97) of the infinitive form malt. This would appear to be a variant of ME melt(en) 'to melt' - here used metaphorically - for which see MED melten v. 2b (a). Forms with -a- in the infinitive and present tense are regular in the works of the Gawainpoet (including St. Erkenwald) but rare elsewhere and are scarcely attested beyond Cheshire. 7 I would therefore suggest for the Disputation an origin no further away than South West Yorkshire. All this is relevant to the present subject only because at line 171 of the poem the form wes occurs in rhyme with the words dees 'dais' and ches 'choose' inf. But it would indicate that this same area is one part of Northern England in which Sir Tristrem could well have been composed. So now we must ask whether there is any evidence for further wes forms, this time in manuscripts copied in northern England, from that same area. I cannot claim to have made an exhaustive search of all the relevant material but I can testify that very few of the many surviving northern Middle English manuscripts preserve examples of wes. I can, however, cite two which do and offer as my opinion that the originals of both probably stem from not very far north (or east) in the West Riding. The most fruitful source of wes forms is provided by the northern copies of the Cursor Mundi and especially the Cotton Vespasian text. In not far short of 30,000 lines I have noticed 56 instances in rhyme of forms of the word for 'was.' Of these only 11 certify the 'wes' type (wes, wess, wesse) in rhyme with '-es' words; I have not noted any occurrences other than in rhyme position. There is no reason to doubt the authenticity of the other 45 instances in which the 'was' type rhymes with other '-as' words; these would indicate that wes was already on the way out, at least in the area where the Cursor Mundi originated, at the time when it was being written. The other northern English poem that preserves evidence for wes is the Metrical Psalter (BR 3103). In what is available from the versions printed in Horstmann's edition I have noted only one example of it in rhyme (Ps. 77: 29). The Psalter, unlike the Cursor Mundi, provides no counterexamples of the 'was' type in rhyme. But like the Cursor Mundi it appears entirely to eschew wes in other than rhyming positions. If I am right in ascribing the original versions of these two texts to the area mentioned, then the various scraps of evidence I have cited all hang together. What they suggest is further supported by a marked absence




of wes in most manuscripts f r o m other parts of the north including some, such as BL MS Cotton Julius A. 5, which manifest various quite early features. All this, however, leaves somewhat unclear, in 'genetic' terms, the relationship between the form prevalent in Scotland and the scattering of wes forms which I have tentatively associated with the southern part of West Yorkshire and thereafter, via Cheshire, with the central West Midlands. It is tempting to see some connection between these northern English wes forms and those other words which in parts of northern England contain an e-vowel that descends f r o m OE orlaksson 17931805), sondern u.a. auch Ewalds erstes grosses Drama Adam og Eva 1769 anregt. Die beiden gewichtigsten skandinavischen Romane des 18. Jahrhunderts aber - Ewalds Levned og Meninger (aus den 1770er Jahren) und Baggesens Labyrinthen (1789/90) - wären ohne das Sterne'sche Muster des subjektiv-sentimentalen Romans nicht denkbar. Das zunehmende Interesse für England und die englische Literatur wird auch durch theoretische Schriften bestätigt - besonders bei den Norwegern tritt es markant in Erscheinung: so rühmt der vor allem von Majdagen bekannte Braunman Tullin in einem Aufsatz über die Poesie die Engländer dafür, dass sie als erste das Joch der klassischen Regeln abgeworfen hätten, und befürwortet einen Mittelweg 'zwischen Doktor Young und Doktor Haller' (Samtlige Skrifter 3: 118), und Claus Fastin veröffentlicht in den von ihm herausgegebenen Provincialblade (1778-81) nicht nur einen 'Bardengesang' in Form einer Mischung von Ossian und Kirchhofpoesie, sondern schreibt u.a. auch über Ossian, den er unter die grössten Genies der Welt einreiht, wie auch über Shakespeare, den er als 'det Originaleste Genie naest Homer og Ossian' bezeichnet. So vereinigen sich eine ganze Reihe von wesentlich von England her geprägten Tendenzen in der skandinavischen Literatur des ausgehenden


Oskar Bandle

18. Jahrhunderts und konstituieren hier in beträchtlichem Ausmass das, was gewöhnlich Vorromantik genannt wird und sich in diesem Sinne mit zunehmender Deutlichkeit von der rationalistisch-klassizistischen Dichtungstradition abhebt. Freilich sind diese Tendenzen von Anfang an mit deutschen vorromantischen Strömungen, wie sie vor allem durch den Klopstock-Kreis nach Dänemark vermittelt wurden, stark verflochten, und es scheint allgemein nicht leicht, deutsche, englische und französische Anregungen (Rousseau!) der nordischen Vorromantik auseinanderzuhalten. Eines scheint aber sicher: die Beziehungen zur englischen Literatur des 18. Jahrhunderts verdienen mehr als das bisher in der skandinavischen, besonders in der dänischen Literaturgeschichte der Fall war, Beachtung, und wer sich da ans Werk machen wollte, würde gewiss durch manche Entdeckerfreude belohnt!

LITERATUR Brix, Hans. 1963. Fagre Ord: Smaa Kommentarer til berernte danske Digte (1908). Gyldendals Ugleb0ger. Ewald, Johannes. 1969. Samlede skrifter. Udgivet af Det danske Sprog- og Litteraturselskab. 6 Bände 1914-24. Neudruck Kopenhagen. Fehrman, Carl. 1952. Diktaren och döden: Dödsbild och förgängelsetanke i litteraturen fr an antiken tili 1700-talet. Stockholm. Fehrman, Carl. 1954. Kyrkogardsromantik: Studier i engelsk och svensk 1700-talsdiktning. Lund. Fehrman, Carl. 1957. Liemannen, Thanatos och dödens ängel: Studier i 1700- och 1800-talens litterära ikonologi. Lund. Frandsen, Ernst. 1968. Johannes Ewald: Et stykke dansk andshistorie (1939). Kopenhagen: (Kap. 'Geniet' S. 88-130). Havnevik, Ivar. 1974. Digter, ikke poet: Ewalds 'Rungsteds Lyksaligheder'. Nordisk tidskrift 1974: 34-74. Kau, Edvin. 1977. Den ewaldske tekst mellem himmel og jord. Kopenhagen. Schmidt, Jochen. 1985. Die Geschichte des Genie-Gedankens in der deutschen Literatur, Philosophie und Politik 1750-1945, 2 Bände. Darmstadt. Thomson, Ejnar. 1957. Digteren og Kaldet: Efterladte studier. Kopenhagen (über Ewald S. 57-85) Thomsen, Sigurd. 1943. Johannes Ewald: En Digters Livshistorie. Fredericia. Tullin, Christian Braunman (1770-73). Samtlige Skrifter, 3 Bände. Kopenhagen. Zeruneith, Keld. 1985. Soldigteren: en biografie om Johannes Ewald. Kopenhagen.

The artistry of Willem Bilderdijk's emblematic engravings J. Bosch

The trompe-l'oeil, referred to in Dutch also as 'schijnbedrieger' (lit. deceiver through appearance) or 'boerenbedrieger' (lit. deceiver of peasants), attained its widest dissemination in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, with such men as Samuel van Hoogstraten and Cornelis Brisé. The genre offered, in the form of a still life, a two-dimensional representation of quotidian objects like papers, maps and sketches, thrown together in apparently higgledy-piggledy fashion, so that the observer was led into imagining he saw them in three dimensions. The artist achieved his end by using the effects of shadows, corners of pages turned back, and sometimes by adding a fly or a background of pinewood boards. Willem Bilderdijk (1756-1831), a pre-eminent example of a classicallytrained Romantic poet-scholar, honoured and reviled as a crippled genius, was also a skilled etcher and calligrapher. The examples of his work that have survived, not so many in number, contain seven such trompe-l'oeil with a few accompanying map-drawings by way of preliminary studies; the seven are divided over three collections. The first trompe-l'oeil, drawn when he was fifteen years old, bears witness to a breadth of reading amazing in one so young and to a talent that was already very well developed, especially in calligraphy. Playing, as it does, with lettering and texts, with literatures and cultures, it provides insight into the life-style of its youthful maker, who was forced by an infirmity of the feet to remain at home for a protracted period. Two of the remaining trompe-l'oeil are so clearly connected by virtue of the thematic links between their heterogeneous elements, and their calligraphic execution that they must stem from the same period of Bilderdijk's life. Indeed, they can be dated with relative certainty, so that it may be regarded as being of more than artistic importance that they, too, should be unriddled, for their themes are also expressed emblematically: in a self-portrait that is the initial letter of the keyword, in the motto EXTRA FORTUNAM EST QUIDQUID DONATUR £GENIS; and in the first word of SIC TRANSIT GLORIA MUNDI. The central text of the trompe-l'oeil EXTRA FORTUNAM EST QUIDQUID DONATUR EGENIS is a jewel of calligraphy and offers a variant on one of Martial's epigrams:


J. Bosch

Extra Fortunam est Quidquid Donatur Egensis

The artistry of Willem Bilderdijk's emblematic extra fortunam est quidquid donatur amicis quas dederis, solas semper habebis opes



(Epigr. 5, 42,


that is, whatever one gives to one's friends is not dependent on the vicissitudes of fortune; it is only the treasures you give away that you will have for ever. Bilderdijk habitually adapts quotations, classical or otherwise. Here, in replacing amicis (friends) with egenis (the poor), he clarifies the theme of the trompe-l'oeil, the desire for money and property as against generosity and charity. In emblematics, fortune is often shown on a round globe or on a dolphin, and also with the horn of plenty (Henkel-Schöne, Emblemata: Handbuch der Sinnbildkunst des XVI. und XVII. Jahrhunderts, Stuttgart, 19762 cols 1799-1809). The dolphin is also sometimes portrayed as carrying Arion, the Greek poet-singer escaping on a fish from the sailors who had robbed him (idem, column 1608, with the motto Habgier in the margin). Bilderdijk seems to have wanted to combine the two references in a playful manner. The man on the slippery fish bearing the horn of plenty is a clearly recognizable self-portrait of Bilderdijk himself. Moreover, his posture represents the calligraphic counterpart of the E of Extra: the almost medieval embellishment of the initial letter of the keyword Egenis derives extra force from its tracery in Gothic Louis Seize. Triumphantly signing this trompel'oeil, the draughtsman aligns himself with the poor, and enlists on their behalf, regardless of what he might receive from fortune. An intriguing aspect of the print is the concealed dating in the folded almanac-page on the right under the signature. On the corner that is folded upwards, the last date to be read is 16 wo(ensdag) Quater(temper). This must be [Wednesday] 16 September, since the third Ember day [Quatertemperdag] of the ecclesiastical year falls in the third week of that month. The other side of the page must therefore show the last days of August, for September has only thirty days. Between 27 and 28 August we can just see half of the sign of the new moon with, in Gothic letters, part of the relevant information. More importantly, Sunday 30 August is here indicated as the 12th Sunday after Trinity, and barely visible on the other side - Sunday 13 September as the 14th after Trinity. On the sepia-coloured page the 12 So«(dach), 7(4 Sondach) and Quatertemper are in red. And this gives us the clue: it is only in 1789 - to take the relevant part of Bilderdijk's life - that an Ember Day on 16 September falls together with the twelfth Sunday after Trinity on 30 August. We may note in passing that the back of the almanac page also includes, scarcely perceptible, the date 7 September, the protagonist's birthday. We know from Bilderdijk's correspondence that he gave themes to his trompe-l'oeil. The question arises what may have inspired him in 1789 to assemble these particular texts and drawings, to all appearances jumbled together casually. The most obvious place to look for an answer is in

136 J. Bosch those adjacent to the central figure: above this, a fragment of a map of Frisia, comprising the present-day provinces of Friesland and Groningen; and on the opposite diagonal, on a frayed page with Gothic letters, an Old Frisian text that turns out to bear the ten commandments in the words of the incunabulum of Frisian land-law, 'Oude Friesche wetten etc.', which had re-appeared in print in 1782, 1788 in Campen and Leeuwarden. As far as can be told, Bilderdijk's only reason for a special affiliation with Frisia in 1789 was the Frisian origins, through her mother, of his wife Catharina Rebecca Woesthoven and her sister Maria Petronella ElterWoesthoven, both born in Dantumawoude, to the south of Dokkum, where their parents had married. Their well-to-do cousin Van Onna, at whose abode the Elters lived, was also no stranger to Frisia. It cannot be coincidence that the whole territory of the municipality of Dantumadeel is shown on the map; Dokkum is explicitly mentioned. The sense of the drawing as a whole now becomes clearer. One of the causes for estrangement in the early period of Bilderdijk's marriage was that in 1785 he and his wife had fundamentally different attitudes to worldly goods. Bilderdijk, as the advocate of Holland, and always in debt, was ever ready in the turbulent latter days of the republic to help those who sought his assistance, regardless of the consequences for his position and his family. The boost to his self-esteem was not negligible. It must also have inspired this print, a conclusion that is confirmed by its other elements. Let us first take the drawing in the top left. Here too, the folded-over corner of the map-page is functional, highly so even, for in this respect the 'deceiver' is doubly deceptive. The little animal that looks out at us from under the map is not borrowed from one of the creations of Paulus Potter, the well-known seventeenth-century animal-painter, although such is indeed suggested. It is rather a faked double emblem for the hoarder (Du. potter). The patient observer will recognize the head as being that of a little monkey but also of a piglet. In the eighteenth-century Dutch vernacular aap 'monkey' was also used to designate a carefully guarded treasure, the monkey-bank being no less known than the piggy-bank. Descending to the large print, the largest of all - even though less than a quarter of it is visible - we rapidly reach the conclusion that it represents some precept or maxim. Armed with our knowledge of the Bible, we make our first discovery. The drawing turns out to contain all the elements of one of the proverbs of King Solomon (Proverbs 21:9 and again 25:24): 'It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman [and] in a wide house'; in the Dutch Authorized Version (Statenvertaling), 'in a wide house' appears as 'in een huis van gezelschap' [in a house with company]. But here too the patient observer, if necessary aided by a magnifying glass, discovers yet more: not only the corner of the roof and the woman who bars access to the house with her bickering,

The artistry of Willem Bilderdijk's emblematic engravings


but also, in the sparse foliage that is visible in the tree that rises above the house, a small prone figure who is obviously happier there than in the house; moreover, in the shrubs that grow above the fence, members of the 'company' that have lagged behind, possibly gossips; and finally, clear to see, the rag-doll under the fence that, in this context, evokes an association with discarded toys. The adjacent drawing is similar in content and technique to the previous one. The optical illusion is, however, of a different kind: it calls not for a magnifying glass, but for more protracted viewing, and from a considerable distance, some three feet. If this is not done, the picture can hardly be unravelled, seeming to contain only feet with legs that are partially malformed. Longer observation suggests looking for something that resembles an emblematic representation of, on the left, the Dutch expression de voet dwarszetten (to thwart, frustrate; lit. 'to put one's foot at an angle') and, on the right, zich de voeten uit de schoenen lopen (to run one's legs off, to wear oneself out; lit. 'to run one's feet out of one's shoes'). That this is not taking it too far becomes apparent later. From a distance, one is surprised to discern the form of an eating ox emerge, first quite clearly on the left, and gradually, on the right, the rump, in rather vaguer contour. Oddly enough, the beast is standing on a tiled kitchen floor. One is led to surmise that the solution to the puzzle is to be sought in the same direction as for the previous print. Here too, Bilderdijk had in mind one of Solomon's proverbs, namely Proverbs 15:17: 'Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.' This proverb is formally parallel in every respect to the previous one and its content is directly related to the theme of the trompe-l'oeil as a whole. The drawing clearly shows an ox, stalled in a kitchen. It is standing eating in the incidence of the light, its harness loosely draped over its shoulder. The simple meal of herbs is represented in the wicker vegetable-basket on the kitchen floor. The other elements of the text now turn out to be the details initially observed: hate, expressed as the foot put at an angle to thwart others; love, in the foot that hastens to take pains for others, in the positive sense of the expression. The sign of love is under the vegetablebasket; the sign of hate is under the ox. That this trompe-l'oeil is indeed about his relationship with Catharina Rebecca becomes evident when Bilderdijk plays his trump card. On the centrally placed text, in the self-portrait, under his head (and on a diagonal of the entire collage), there is, as in a find-the-face puzzle, a woman's head, broad and vexed. Man and woman in one form: he mild-mannered, too much so, and she rancorous and ungrateful in her subordinate position to the man, yet occupying an enormous place in his life, a negative influence, a brake. In conclusion, our eye moves out to the texts at the top and the bottom,


J. Bosch

which are consonant with the whole: "And as ye would that men do unto you, do ye also to them likewise" in the French reading of Luke 6:31, and an aphorism borrowed from the Greeks: "Agathon megiston estin he phronesis" that is, the greatest good is understanding. The initial letters differ in design and are immaculately executed with the classical severity of the latter contrasting with the wispy tendrils of the former. The playing card, a commonplace in the trompe-l'oeil genre, is consistent with the theme and, being the eight of hearts, hints at the gambling away of love. Let us now consider the other trompe-l'oeil, with the theme SIC TRANSIT GLORIA MUNDI. The frontispiece on the bottom right shows the same figure and originates from the same pool of emblematic ideas as EXTRA FORTUNAM ... . The figure is again Bilderdijk's. Then he was on the slithery dolphin and carried the horn of plenty in a predicament of brittle happiness; now he bears all the symbolic attributes of the lyric Muse: the goose quill in his right hand as pen, and by his uplifted arm a trumpet, a flute, a palette with painter's brushes, an acanthus leaf (?) and flowers - yet with an inverted torch in his left hand and an alert-eyed snake under

Sic Transit



The artistry of Willem Bilderdijk's emblematic engravings


his feet, the latter both symbols of vanitas. The glory of the world, even one's own fame as an artist, are ephemeral. As to the first symbol, we may refer to a quotation from a letter of Bilderdijk's (Briefwisseling 17951797, no. 40): "de dood, dien gij weet dat de Ouden niet als een geraamte en nachtspook, maar als een schoone jongeling met omgekeerde fakkel verbeelden" (death, which you know was represented by the Ancients not as a skeleton or a ghost of the night, but as a fair youth with an inverted torch)

and as to the second, to his later poem Slangen ('Snakes') from 1824 (DW X, 182). What is particularly striking is the correspondence in the calligraphic presentation of the eponymous figure in both trompe-l'oeil, for both are by virtue of their posture fully integrated into the text itself. Here the proudly raised right arm with the Muse's attributes, the left arm with the torch pointing downwards, and the snake under the feet form the initial letter of the epigram as a whole, just as in the other drawing the even more exuberant arm, together with the dancing legs and the fish's head, form the equally well-wrought initial letter of the keyword EGENIS. Finally, the two trompe-l'oeil are linked by the tracery in Gothic Louis Seize in the keyword of both epigrams (GLORIA and EGENIS). From this it may be concluded that they belong to the same period of time. The adjacent drawing, as is evident from its caption, was borrowed from the work of the celebrated engraver and etcher Jacques Callot (15921635). The auction catalogue of Bilderdijk's library from 1797 contains prints by Callot, including a series of twelve further specified as De Passie [The Passion] (p. 214, no. 258, under Teekeningen en Prentkonst [Drawings and Etchings]; cf. also p. 209, nr. 81: Eenige prenten van Callot [Some prints by Callot]). What we have here is an imitation of an engraving by Callot, representing "le petit enfant Jésus" described in J. Lieure's standard nine-volume work Jacques Callot, Paris 1924-1929 as follows (III, p. 118, no. 291): Un enfant Jésus, il est debout, la robe ceinturée, un scapulaire pardessus, les manches serrées et dentelées à l'extrémité; les pieds nus, dont un porte sur la tête d'un serpent ailé; il a le coude gauche appuyé sur une tête de mort posée sur une table qui est couverte d'un tapis, ou d'une nappe dont le bord est brodé. Sur la table est aussi un serpent, qui se mord la queue, formant ainsi un cercle, symbole de l'éternité; et un pot de fleurs, placé sur deux volumes fermés. L'Enfant Jésus tient de la main droite une longue croix à double croison. Il a la tête nue, ornée d'une auréole ou cercle de rayons. Ce morceau, sans fond, est gravé au burin comme les sept péchés mortels, d'après Bernardin Pochel.

In the first state, which is very rare, the engraver's name does not occur; in the second state it has been added "au dessous du tapis de la table". In the many copies, the I of the signature I.Callot is not separated from


J. Bosch

the C, but superimposed upon it. Bilderdijk was thus not working from a copy but from the second state, an exemplar of which he must have at least handled and perhaps also owned. He copied it accurately, leaving out the aureole and the vase of flowers, and reducing it slightly (the original was 7.6 x 5.8 cm). Lieure also notes that the original was frequently added to the series The Seven Deadly Sins. Whereas in his engraving Callot christianized emblems that were then already well-known (the ring of snakes as all-devouring time; and a youth inside the ring, leaning on a skull, with the maxim finisque ab origine pendet, cf. Henkel-Schone, col. 653, who derives it from Horapollo 1543, a more recent edition of which Bilderdijk possessed [cat. p. 76, no. 1324]), Bilderdijk went further, making it, in his imitation of the engraving, still more illustrative of the epigram SIC TRANSIT GLORIA MUNDI by using it as the basis for a meditation on death inspired by I Corinthians 15:54-57: Death is swallowed up in victory ... through our Lord Jesus Christ who has trampled it under His feet. The third figure, situated at the middle left of the collage, a print that, as can be seen from the grain, was drawn as an engraving, is less problematic. Those who are well-versed in the Scriptures will quickly recognize the woman at the well from Genesis 24: the pitcher fastened to a cord around her waist, in conversation with an unseen man, whose walking-stick is however partially visible. Rebekah is in conversation with Eliezer, Abraham's eldest servant, who is seeking a wife for Isaac. (She cannot be the Samaritan woman from John 4, for Jesus is never depicted with a stick.) The woman is beautiful in appearance, with a Greek profile. She surely cannot be other than Catharina Rebecca Woesthoven, Bilderdijk's wife. This inference gains credibility when we examine the fourth and largest drawing. This interjacent print, a map, represents as it were the bridge between Willem and the Child Jesus, and Rebecca. At first sight it is the most puzzling. The solution must be sought on the reverse of the folded-over corner, approximately at the intersection of the diagonals of the trompe-l'oeil as a whole. In EXTRA FORTUNAM, too, it was at this point that we found the draughtsman's 'trump card'. Here, in the map, this point is where one would be least likely to look: the inverted picture of the Straits of Gibraltar, formerly known as the Pillars of Hercules. According to a latter-day, non-classical fable, the 'pillars' bore the inscription NON PLUS ULTRA 'no further'. In the device of Charles V and the Spanish royal house this motto was reversed: PLUS ULTRA 'further', and extended by Philip II of Spain to PLUS ULTRA PETO TERTIA REGNA 'Further! I strive for a third domain.' The allusion is to Ovid's Amores III, 8: 50, the ironic question "Cur non et caelum tertia regna facis?" ('Why not [o, man] make heaven [alongside earth and sea] a third domain [of enquiry]?') being transformed into an exclamation

The artistry of Willem Bilderdijk's emblematic engravings


triumphant in its religious fervour, one in which the three realms referred to are Spain, the two Indies, and the Kingdom of God. Henkel-Schöne (col. 1199) mention the device from the Spanish emblem collection Emblemas Morales by Sebastián de Covarrubias Orosco (1610), describing the associated picture as "Säulen des Hercules dazwischen die Erdkugel mit einem gekrönten Adler, der zur Sonne blickt" and giving the explanation of the device in a note. Again it is in such emblematics that we must seek the inspiration for Bilderdijk's interpretation. Here he seems to be meditating on behalf of himself and Rebecca on the rich import of her Biblical name, bound up as it is with Haran, with Abraham's tent, and with his promise to all peoples anticipating the coming of Jesus the Messiah. The vanitas symbols of the first print, the victory symbol of the second, and that of the true way of life in the third, all converge in Rebecca, whose future still lies before her. In reality Bilderdijk is looking back at the four years of marriage that have passed and is, as though to himself, imploring Rebecca: Do turn your gaze together with me to the regnum caelorum, to the things that are on high. What can the reality of his situation have been? The answer seems clear. In the spirit of memento mori, Bilderdijk must also have known the interpretation of the epigram SIC TRANSIT GLORIA MUNDI in Thomas ä Kempis's Imitatio Christi (I, 3:6), the book he asked Rebecca to send him after he had been banished from his fatherland (Briefwisseling, letter 71, 1 October 1795). It is this feeling that is brought out strongly by the reference to Callot's print. The death of his brother Johannes, five years younger than he, on 25 October 1788, must have put him for some time into the state of mind in which he not only composed his funeral song By het lijk van mijn broeder Joannes Bilderdijk [By the corpse of my brother Joannes Bilderdijk] (DWX, 304-307) but also made this drawing. By this time, the spring of 1789, he was moreover grieving over the death of his second son while still a boy, on 30 April of that year. Bilderdijk's brother Johannes had died after a fall from his horse. Da Costa declared that Willem cherished "een onbegrensde achting en liefde" (an unbounded respect and love) for him (De mensch en de dichter Willem Bilderdijk, 25). And Jeronimo de Vries describes him as "van nature en voorkomen innemend en vriendelijk, een regt edel mensch" [in nature and appearance engaging and friendly, a truly noble man], in whom Willem lost an adviser, a modest friend and righteous brother ["een raadsman, bescheiden vriend en rechtschapen broeder"] (Brieven, ed. Messchert, II, XIV). Of his funeral verse Willem wrote to his friend and publisher Uylenbroek: "In een Staat waar in ik niet denk, gevoel, noch besef, gemaakt zijnde, kan ik er niet over oordeelen" [Since it was made in a state of mind in which I could not think, feel, nor understand, I cannot assess


J. Bosch

its worth] (Brieven, I: 174). In the poem he honours his brother as a model of Christian life and death. Some thoughts are expressed during the course of the 21 quatrains that were to be reflected in the drawing. In the ninth stanza, on the journey of life: ... weenen wij niet meer, - wij, - die uw einde zagen! Wij, tuige van de hand, die u uw Heiland bood, En - op de weg v a n ' t heil eenstemmig ingeslagen, Uw kruipend, - maar nochtans trouwhartig tochtgenoot! [...we, who saw your end, weep no more! We, witness of the hand that your Saviour offered to you, and, having unanimously entered upon the way of salvation, your crawling, yet faithful travelling companion!]

And in the two last stanzas, with Jesus as an example: Z o u ' t kwijnend, moedloos hart ook vruchtloos laving smeeken, Wanneer't i n ' s Heilands naam de onzuivre lippen rept? Neen, roept ge! uw voorbeeld spreekt: 'k zie d o o d en hel verslonden! o Juichen we in uw heil! ook ons i s ' t weggeleid! [Would the languid, despondent heart beg in vain for quenching, when it moves the impure lips in the Saviour's name? N o , you call, your example speaks: I see death and hell swallowed up! O let us be joyful in your salvation! From us, too, it has been led away!]

Yet the death of Johannes can scarcely have been the immediate impulse for the creation of the cryptic sketch intended for Rebecca, still less the death of Bilderdijk's mother on 16 May 1789, whom her son did not commemorate in any poem. The death in question must have been one that also brought profound sorrow to Rebecca herself. And what else could this have been than that of their fourth child, on 30 April of that year, a mere three weeks after his birth? Their first-born, Louise Sibille, was spared to them, but a second daughter had passed away after no more than fifteen weeks, on 20 December 1786. Her father had then mourned her with: "... Geen bloemtjen, geen luit ... Gy baadde i n ' t lekende vocht ... Vereenen we ons weenen, Gelijk onze pijn" [...No little flower, no lute ... Thou bathedst in ichor ... Let us unite in our weeping, as our pain unites us]. A third child seemingly scarcely survived its birth, and the pain dumbed even the father. Lastly, their fourth child, again a son, for his father an Elius in spe, in his Romantic imagination yet another saviour of the fatherland, was to be the dedicatee of a funeral song, this time only 15 lines long. This poem culminates in the line: "'t Ondankbaar Neerland niet, de Hemel was u waard" [You were worth not the ungrateful Netherlands, but Heaven] {DW X, 310), words that clearly conceal the mother's pain. The death of very young children was by no means unusual

The artistry of Willem Bilderdijk's emblematic engravings


in those days. Nevertheless Bilderdijk must have been deeply affected by these events since, mingled with poetry overflowing with self-confidence, he sketched for Rebecca this tender print. It is a print in which Bilderdijk, as one of Johannes' 'crawling travelling companions', fully includes himself as part of the vanity of all flesh, and presents to Rebecca Callot's Child Jesus, without flowers, yet in a frame, as though he were recommending it to her for meditation on the journey of life. Even if Bilderdijk may have inwardly resigned himself in faith, Rebecca seems not to have shared his surrender. It is to this divergence in belief that the other print also bears witness. Although it belongs to the same year, 1789, to judge from the caption accompanying the self-portrait, 'W. BILDERDIJK inv. & fecit" in which inv(enit) refers to the previous one, as in Callot's print, it is later. They are both harbingers of the schism, as early as then.

NOTE The interpretation of the print EXTRA FORTUNAM ... in this article is a translation of the original Dutch text in Speels vernuft: Rebusbrieven en bedriegers van Willem Bilderdijk [Playful ingenuity: Rebus letters and trompe l'oeil by Willem Bilderdijk], The Hague, 1981. It is included here to characterize the two specimens of Bilderdijk's draughtsmanship as one whole, and also the dating of the print SIC TRANSIT ... . Together they bring homage to my friend and ex-colleague Hans Heinrich Meier, the poetic translator of Milton, and of Bilderdijk. Of the hours spent in his welcoming home and of the kind solicitude of Elsbeth, I have undying memories.

Loneliness in Edwin Morgan's poetry Erik Frykman

... that one persisting patience of the undefeated which is the nature of man when all is said.

It is probably true to say that Edwin Morgan is a poet who prefers to describe people and objects rather than offer explicit definitions and that his pin-pointing of human nature in the above lines from 'In the Snackbar' (The Second Life, 1968) is an exception in his observation of people. 1 The definition he gives appears to be one of qualified optimism about the human race. Drearily sombre gloom is certainly not a distinguishing mark of Morgan's poetry. His fascination for words and word patterns is exhilarating to the reader as is his obvious zest for the multifariousness of human existence. His social criticism, though acute enough, is never soured and always tempered by his wit. Nevertheless, if not gloomy his poetry often reveals a sense of tragedy which, on the evidence of some recent apocalyptic poems (in Sonnets from Scotland, 1984), may be growing. Not surprisingly Morgan is perturbed about the future of mankind; but what seems equally, perhaps more, striking is his empathy when individual destinies are concerned, and 'In the Snackbar' is a case in point. The context of the definition in the epigraph is a painstaking description of an utterly poor, blind and disabled anonymous man who needs his fellow-beings' help even with 'his most pitiful needs,' his life depending on 'many who would evade him' (p. 154). This is a theme on which Morgan plays many variations. As a modest tribute to a distant friend of long standing and a man of impressive learning, who like myself has known Scottish everyday life for quite a while, I would like to briefly examine some poems in which loneliness and isolation are Morgan's subject. Not that all the poems of this kind are studies of Scottish (more particularly Glasgow) life: there is a certain amount of wide geographical range. There are also a few cases in which the objects of observation represent the very reverse of anonymity. On some occasions it is far-off history or myth that provides the background. The manner of presentation ranges between concentration and elaboration and between description


Erik Frykan

and dialogue (or monologue rather). In many cases the poems are seemingly artless; little recourse is normally had to metaphor, to bold metrical experiment, or to rhyme. Yet stylistic devices, whether consciously or intuitively used, are certainly present. In the 43-line-long evocation of Ernest Hemingway's death ('The Old Man and the Sea,' in The Second Life) there is an alternation right through between present and past participles on the one hand, preterites on the other, in the picture that moves from a wide sweep of American scenery into the house with 'a white-bearded man like an old sea-captain/ cleaning a gun,' and where 'the shot/ insulted the morning' (p. 125). This is not the only personification in the poem. There seems to be a faint echo of T.S. Eliot in the introductory lines about the white mist moving in from the Pacific; and at the end the gunsmoke marries the sea-mist - an ironic final effect in a poem about loneliness. 'The Death of Marilyn Monroe' (also from The Second Life) would likewise seem to contain a literary echo, ironically used, this time in a couple of Whitmanesque lines. But where Whitman normally makes his breathless enumerations serve to enthuse about the infinite variety of life, Morgan makes use of the device here to point up something far different; and it is worthy of note that here as well he has recourse to personification, this time of an abstraction:

That the many acquaintances, the autograph-hunters, the inflexible directors, the drive-in admirers should become a blur of incomprehension and pain That lonely Uncertainty should limp up, grinning ...

(p. 126)

A third longish poem in the same book, 'Je ne regrette rien,' differs in that it is supposed to be spoken by Edith Piaf, to whose memory it is dedicated. It is a stark story of both suffering and enjoyment, expressed in simple terms, yet not without literary associations since the introductory and final stanzas evoke the atmosphere of typical Piaf songs. The Second Life also introduces the anonymous Glaswegians - the poor wreck of a man of 'In the Snack-bar'; the slightly drunk fellow-bus-traveller of 'Good Friday'; and the even more anonymous couple in 'Glasgow Green,' not described, just overheard in a fragment of embittered lower-class showdown, in which only one of the two people involved is heard to speak. Whereas the beginning of the poem makes one think of Frost's 'Acquainted with the Night,' the ugly scene conveyed in direct speech and part of the stanza that follows read like a conscious harking back to The Waste Land:

Loneliness in Edwin Morgan's poetry


Cut the scene. Here there's no crying for help, it must be acted out, again, again. This is not the delicate nightmare you carry to the point of fear and wake from, it is life, the sweat is real, the wrestling under a bush is real, the dirty starless river is the real Clyde, with a dishrag dawn it rinses the horrors of the night but cannot make them clean, though washing blows where the women watch by day and children run, on Glasgow Green.

(p. 150)

It seems characteristic of Morgan, however, that he does not allow the poem to emphasize the dreariness of atmosphere and the futility of human relationships unduly: H o w shall the race be served? It shall be served by loneliness as well as by family love. (p. 150)

His warm-hearted humour comes out particularly well in 'Good Friday,' where a half-drunk, slightly lachrymose Glaswegian attempts, with little sign of success, to engage a fellow-passenger from a different social stratum in conversation. The introductory and final lines briefly set the beginning and end of the scene: the rest is monologue, reasonably well controlled and articulate though rambling, somewhat insistent, somewhat self-pitying. It is not quite clear whether the passenger addressed reacts with embarrassed silence or just does not manage to get a word in. Even though this is no doubt a poem about the problem of establishing even a momentary contact, there is absolutely no sense of tragic waste as in 'In the Snackbar.' In both these poems Morgan appears to have rid himself entirely of literary reminiscences. They point forward to the modestly titled Instamatic Poems (1972) with its many scenes observed in strict concentration, leaving the reader to fill in, if he feels the need, what went before and what followed, as in the murder-in-cold-blood episode of 'Glasgow October 1971.' Two social extremes, and two different poetic strategies, are represented by 'Bangaon India July 1971' and 'Washington September 1971.' It seems worthwhile to quote the former in its entirety for its gripping picture of


Erik Frykman

utter destitution, in a form that could hardly be more concentrated or expressed in simpler terms, and where the picture moves from a patient kind of desperate togetherness to one of total abandonment: A grey-haired man half-runs, carrying his white-haired mother on his back along a dusty road from East Pakistan. She is a hundred years old. What they own fills a knotted cloth at his hip. Even to them the hands of the dying are stretched out from both sides of the road.

(p. 212)

In contrast, 'Washington September 1971' - the scene in this case being the dedication of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts - is consciously artful, based on an accumulation of nouns and present participles and a very sparing use of finite verbs. It conveys opulence and spectacle but with a lonely figure in the festive crowd in focus: A spotlight on Rose Kennedy mother of the dead standing at eighty facing like a sphinx beyond the clapping hands, the Kennedys all round like swaying ears of the harvest.

The effect is enhanced by the preceding line, with ... the curtain falling on pressmen hugging weeping Bernstein.

(p. 210)

Who can say that the weeping is not an expression of genuine feeling? Yet the dominant impression is one of lashed up emotionalism, contrasting sharply with stony, inaccessible grief - or is it instead the inability of old age to grieve acutely that Morgan wishes to convey? In 'Death in Duke Street' (From Glasgow to Saturn, 1973) we are back in the Glasgow 'instamatic' manner, in the poem about an old man collapsing and dying, surrounded by a crowd of passive bystanders, eager for such a drama as everyday life can offer. The focus is not only on the old man but on two people in the crowd, those who try to comfort and support the dying man, one of them a youth 'wondering/ what to say to him, glancing up at the crowd' (p. 276); so that, in fact, the evocation of helpless isolation is shifted away from the victim, who is already in a void where loneliness is of no account. In this as in other poems of a similar kind the absolute sureness in the choice of detail that illuminates the scene and the simplicity of the words used are very striking. (There

Loneliness in Edwin Morgan's poetry


are, of course, poems in which Morgan handles a sophisticated vocabulary with equal success, but usually for other thematic purposes.) The brief verses of 'Columba's Song' (From Glasgow to Saturn) are the missionary's lonely call for people, for minds and souls, in surroundings brimful with unresponsive animal life. Another poem in monologue is 'Grendel' (in a section of Uncollected Poems 1976-1981) where not surprisingly the sentiments voiced are quite different: the 'nearly human' creature's contempt for and hatred of the breed of man and 'their hideous clamorous brilliance' (p. 436) and their drunken quarrellings. Morgan incorporates into this monologue - which for some reason he has chosen to make very articulate indeed - Bede's extended metaphor of the trapped bird desperately trying to find its way out of a strange, bewildering world, so that the poem gives pictures of two different kinds of loneliness, one bitterly brooding, the other helplessly panicky. There are, in From Glasgow to Saturn, a handful of poems with a nostalgia not often found in Morgan's poetry since he speaks but sparingly in the poet's own voice. 'For Bonfires i-iii' is not explicitly about loneliness in fact, its longest, middle section creates a vivid picture of a demolition gang tearing down a house. But in the third part letters salvaged from the house burn in a bucket and Morgan creates a sense of desolation, the absolute end of some kind of human contact. 'From the North' and 'Estranged' convey the mutual isolation of lovers in terms of geographical or cosmic distances in a way reminiscent of Norman MacCaig, a fellowpoet from whom Morgan differs a good deal. A deep sense of personal loss pervades 'After a Death' in Sonnets from Scotland (1984), in style a soberly intense poem in a book which is otherwise full of exciting, imaginative dramatizations of incidents from Scottish myth and history, with an admixture of apocalyptic visions already referred to above. In several of these sonnets an essentially lonely figure is observed: young Edgar Allan Poe haunting the Broomielaw with longings for a faraway world; opium-addicted Thomas De Quincey restless between bed and writing-desk and looking out on the Glasgow Necropolis; Gerard Manley Hopkins lighting fires in Irish labourers in Glasgow and having his creed singed by '[industry's pauperism' (p. 28), lonely amid it all; and Lady Grange, that pathetic and disturbing eighteenth-century woman, cruelly exiled to St. Kilda by her long-suffering but far from exemplary husband and voicing her bitterness there. Once again also Morgan reverts to myth to portray abject loneliness, this time to the strange Scottish fancy of Pontius Pilate having been born at Fortingall. In 'Pilate at FortingalP Morgan pictures him late in life, in a state of utter animal degradation, feeding on dog-scraps:


Erik Frykman

'See him now.' He crawled to the cattle trough at dusk, jumbled the water till it sloshed and spilled into the hoof-mush in blue strands, slapped with useless despair each sodden cuff, and washed his hands, and watched his hands, and washed his hands, and watched his hands, and washed his hands. (p. 15)

It is a poem which weds beautifully two of Morgan's artistic achievements: his sense of graphic detail and his imaginative insight into pathetic or tragic lives.

NOTES 1. Unless otherwise stated the quotations are taken from Edwin Morgan, Poems of Thirty Years (Manchester: Carcanet, 1982). Page references are given in brackets after the quotations.

Problems and Opportunities of Literary Translation within the Framework of Different University Systems Helmut Schrey

In the usual course the common reader, particularly one whose mother tongue is neither English nor any of the other world languages, is confronted with literary translations when reading novels, stories, essays and even poetry. Accustomed as he is to the situation, he may scarcely realize that his reading automatically involves him in the concerns of this essay:1 the problems and opportunities of literary translation. An experienced reader is likely to be skilled in ignoring the problems, and instead of stumbling over inadequate if not faulty translations will read on undisturbed, accommodating to his powers of imagination what he cannot readily make out. In doing so, he may well partly misunderstand the message the translated text is intended to convey. Literary historians, particularly those interested in comparative literary studies, will doubtless not dispute the possibility that such misunderstandings can be of great and even lasting value in the long run, as the history of literary influences across cultures and languages can reveal. Yet our common reader is unlikely to be greatly interested in this view, for his concern is with reading and understanding what he takes to be the original text, even in translated form. Unlikely to be contaminated by literary (not to mention philological) studies of any kind, he takes advantage of the opportunities of literary translation rather than worrying about its problems. Yet he ought not to ignore those problems: awareness of them might arise if he were in a position to turn to the original text whenever he stumbles in his reading process, when he would almost certainly find that the problem in question has been created not by the original author but by a literary translator. But it is in the nature of things that the common reader does not readily turn to original texts, usually because he does not read the original language. And why should he as long as his confidence in the high quality of literary translations remains intact? Literary translation forms part only of a much wider field of translation. In spite of the common reader's confidence, that part may well be its most problematical. It represents an area much more closely related to English studies, certainly to 'anglistics' in the Germanic sense of the term, than does translation into the various technical languages. There can be no doubt whatsoever that developments in the direction of more or less automatic translation by means of computers are bound to be of far less




consequence to literary translation than to nearly all the other areas of translation. This is not to say that automatized translation could not be of any preliminary help. But the literary translator must realize that like all the others, his particular branch of the art, in spite of its characteristically step-by-step mode of progression, has to take an entire given context into account. The text of a literary translation is intimately bound up with all kinds of linguistic, cultural, and even socio-historical contexts. In dealing with the particular problems of literary translation the present essay will first try to suggest that the significance of this context is scarcely ever grasped in its entirety, before asking why this is so. But we should first be fully aware of another sort of context altogether, one of fundamental importance to those problems and opportunities of literary translation which are discussed below. Such a context is provided by the very framework of English studies courses: in university studies and curricula as we find them in different universities and in different countries and systems of language teaching and learning. Looking at the different systems we find ourselves confronted with widely differing attitudes, practices and, most important, traditions, all of which have arisen, many of them long ago, through close links with the various predominant general traditions that are to be found in the countries and cultures concerned. Strangely enough there is as yet very little in the way of written histories of modern language courses in universities and colleges, despite there being a considerable literature on the history of science, medicine, and economics. As far as German anglistics is concerned, the gap has recently been filled by the common endeavours of the Augsburg academic team centred around Thomas Finkenstaedt and Konrad Schroder and by some Duisburg Anglicists such as Renate Haas and Helmut Schrey. 2 Finkenstaedt, undoubtedly one of the pioneers in this field, has tried to find reasons for the constant neglect of the historical dimensions of university subjects whose professors, after all, work to a large extent as historians of literature, language, culture and civilization. 'One of the explanations of the present state of knowledge,' writes Finkenstaedt, 'might be that we do not see our subject in terms of an overall progress, not even in terms of a linear development. In such a set-up earlier states of knowledge and method tend to have an antiquarian interest only - and who would like to be an antiquarian in our days. The situation changes as soon as specific topics are concerned: We firmly believe that there is progress in our research into 14th century phonology or the working-class novel of the twenties. This may be the reason why we have comparative literary studies and contrastive studies in linguistics, but why we have not attempted - as far as I know - to compare or contrast English studies in various countries.' 3

Problems and Opportunities of Translation


Yet it is precisely by comparing English studies courses in different countries and cultural settings that the insight can be gained into the varying importance attached to literary translation, as well as local differences in its character. We could equally well reverse the procedure in order to find that the relative importance of literary translation can inform us both of the way the particular varieties of English studies see themselves and, even more, of the general social and historical framework in which they have been operating. It may make sense to begin with anglistics in the Germanic sense of the term, particularly since in doing so we turn to what is historically speaking the oldest system of institutionalized English studies in existence and - as might be expected - one particularly heavily loaded with traditional prejudices and idealizations. Up to the present moment German anglistics has almost entirely managed to overlook the fact that it has always been a discipline whose main aim of existence was the training of teachers. The consequences of its having diverged in its earliest stages from both 'Germanistik' (German studies) and 'Romanistik' (for instance French, Spanish, and Italian studies) have also been nearly entirely forgotten, as has been the fact that anglistics then had to compete with Classical studies, which by then had already lost its traditionally wide range of interests. Up to the present moment anglistics has not managed to throw off its traditional, nineteenth-century shackles. The same holds for literary translation as well as for translation in general. As far as literary translation is concerned, the cultural framework within which German anglistics had been instituted had already ensured that many of the academic and literary tasks that might have been expected to fall to the fledgling discipline (certainly among smaller nations and linguistic cultures) had already been attended to long before by people of more or less amateur status, some of them of very high literary standing. Thus well-established German versions of the works of both Shakespeare and Milton, not to mention of eighteenth-century prose, were part of the general cultural basis on which German anglicists could build. This does not necessarily mean that these scholars took much notice of the fact. They clearly saw their task as having primarily to do with the 'original texts,' that is, they ignored an issue of particular interest to the cultural setting in which they found themselves in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Usually they failed to ask to what extent literary translations into German (some of them such as the Schlegel-Tieck version of Shakespeare's plays time-honoured in themselves) were to be considered adequate or not. Concentrating on the scholarly endeavour of constructing philologically and thus critically flawless 'original texts,' they left both literary translation and its critical analysis to amateurs - all the more so since some of the 'great translations' of English literary texts could already be considered

154 Helmut Schrey to belong to precisely that cultural setting in which German anglistics had been later instituted. The Classical and the Romantic period in German literature had both drawn heavily on the English cultural heritage, and in particular on its literary aspect. The influence of Milton and Shakespeare (in inverse historical order), as well as of eighteenth-century prose, on the development of the newer German literature cannot be overrated, given that that national literature belongs, for various political and social reasons, to the relative 'latecomers' on the European scene. English literature had thus already been successfully 'germanized,' if in a rather idiosyncratic way, by the time the academic discipline of anglistics was being established in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. In addition to literary translations, general introductions to English literature, together with other similar kinds of preliminary materials, were already available; this left the new-born academic discipline of anglistics to what it considered 'serious scholarly work.' We have every reason to think highly of the fruits of early anglistics scholarship, as highly as we should of the most important and lasting scholarly work done by English and Scottish amateur philologists at roughly the same time, particularly in the field of early English philology. There was both co-operation as well as competition between this scholarship and the early German anglicists. If we look at the scene from the viewpoint of the late twentieth century it seems incredible that the early German anglicists managed to ignore almost entirely the simple fact that, as far as literary translation and (with it) the literary transmission of a foreign culture was concerned, their students had to appropriate the work inherited from those amateur German translators and transmitters. Yet this oversight was a serious failure of the new discipline. For those students were most unlikely to become professors of anglistics, charged with critical work on original texts. If the process of adaptation and transmission was to go on, if possible on a higher and more scholarly level, the universities would have to take a belated share in this process. Their task could not simply be confined to the training of teachers of English language, literature, and culture in schools and universities; that training would have to be extended to take in future literary transmitters in other fields, not least that of literary translation. Right up to the present day West German anglicists seem to ignore this particular task almost entirely, and this attitude is reflected in their low view of the importance of literary translation classes in English studies courses at university level. Let us now turn from German anglistics to English studies courses in other European countries. As we do so, we are reminded that both the scholarly and the more practical activities selected by professors of English

Problems and Opportunities of Translation


as well as their forerunners can be located without difficulty in corresponding educational and social frameworks and their concomitant advantages and drawbacks. A useful example is provided by the predominance of English grammars in the Netherlands. A most impressive line of scholars, leading from Roorda through Poutsma to Kruisinga and Zandvoort, to mention only the major older scholars in this field and to omit even such an important figure as Visser (who concentrated mainly on historical grammar), turned to the conception of English grammars. In doing so, they cannot be said to have ignored the more practical sides of language learning and teaching. Nor could they, since English studies were barely established at university level when they began their work. Although neither Poutsma nor Kruisinga ever occupied a university chair, the extraordinarily solid foundation of pragmatic language analysis in the Netherlands is largely due to their work. Indeed, the outstanding achievements of earlier Dutch anglicists lie in the fields of Old English on the one hand, and of grammar, particularly modern grammar, on the other. Their general approach seems to have been considerably more pragmatic than that of their German colleagues, as may be seen in the interest Dutch anglicists took in translating literary works into Dutch and in writing introductory works and 'handbooks' in the field of English literary history. 4 If the latter field was the less well represented, the reasons for that lay in the fact that in the Netherlands the general knowledge (including reading knowledge) of English was of an unusually high standard from a relatively early stage. Literary originals were able to take the place of translations sooner than in either Germany or many southern, central and eastern European nations, where the 'communicative aspect' of language teaching and learning had been more or less neglected for many generations. That neglect contrasts strongly with the present-day stress on this aspect of language acquisition in these areas. Other smaller nations, for historical and geographical reasons, have been less directly connected than the Netherlands with the commercial and cultural aspects of exchange with English-speaking countries. Some of these nations have also proved less directly influenced by German anglistics: after all, the first incumbent of a Dutch chair was a German, Biilbring, who had married a Dutch translator. Biilbring had received his training first in Berlin and then under Trautmann in Bonn, before going on from Groningen to Bonn as Trautmann's successor. In Groningen he had been the teacher of Kruisinga. 5 The cases of Czechoslovakia and Poland differ from each other even though in each case German anglicists exerted some influence. Following the split of the University of Prague into a German and a Czech university in 1882, the Czech university seems to have consciously strengthened a tendency already in existence before the split. Linguistic elements, par-




ticularly phonetics, derived from Ellis, Bell, Vietor, and Sievers; later Jespersen and Sweet were incorporated into the curriculum, and this gave the later Prague English studies a more modern and practical feel than was usual in Austria and Germany at that time. 6 The first high-ranking Polish teacher of English philology, Roman Dyboski (Cracow), was and remained a literary historian; but the pioneer of Czech English studies, Vilem Mathesius, who was both a literary historian and a linguist, eventually paved the way for, and became a prominent member of, the Prague School of Linguists. At the same time he saw to it that even in the sectors devoted to literary and cultural studies Prague English studies could be considered much more practical than those in Germany and Austria, and thus more appropriate to the political and cultural needs not only of Czech students but of Czech society generally. The production of literary translations and introductory handbooks was clearly considered to belong to the spare-time obligations of Czech university teachers of English, all the more so since literary translation into Czech was scarcely profitable. Whereas Dyboski was an import from the University of Vienna and remained true to the Vienna tradition, Mathesius was a home-grown product. The inborn antagonism of the two national parts of the once single, German, University of Prague, combined with the different needs of the students of the Czech university, intensified an idiosyncratic mode of studies, if one that in the event was soon to become much more modern and practical. England and its culture had already once been of some importance to Czechs. 7 But under Austrian rule and the accompanying re-Catholicization this influence was brought to a rapid end. It was to be recovered only after World War I at a time when Great Britain was being seen, in competition with France, as one of the great models of Western democracy. It is for this reason that cultural studies found themselves incorporated in the Czech English courses to a greater extent than in Germany or those countries in which German anglistics still had some influence. Moreover, the dividing lines between linguistics, literature and cultural studies were less strict than in Germany where, after World War I, Great Britain was not seen, at least officially, as a positive political, social, and cultural model to anything like the same extent. Of course, none of this is intended to imply that a touch of 'Anglophilia' was not indispensable to any English course in any national and cultural setting up to the 1960s. In a country like the Czechoslovakia between the two World Wars, Anglophilia was to prove a particularly strong and far-reaching influence. There was one respect, however, in which Czech and Polish anglicists could be compared to their German colleagues of the Anglistik generation. Before the institution of English studies in Prague and, later, in other Czech universities, English literary texts had already been widely translated

Problems and Opportunities of Translation


into Czech. Among authors translated were Milton, Gray, Young, Thomson, Byron, and Dickens. That is to say, the literary canon in Czech translation closely matched that in German translation. It ought to be added that some of the more important English texts had already been within reach of the more educated Czech reading public through earlier German versions. This goes for Sir Walter Scott as well as for other authors whose translation into Czech had to wait. Shakespeare, however, had been translated into Czech as early as the middle of the nineteenth century. Nevertheless, even after the institutionalization of Czech English studies the translation, analysis, and introduction of English works of literature had to be taken seriously. It was, and is still considered to be, one of the more important tasks of university teaching. In the case of Poland, on the other hand, it was not until 1875 that all the works of Shakespeare were translated. In the second half of the 19th century - and thus considerably later than in Germany - quite a number of English and American literary works were translated and published, many of them accompanied by critical appraisals. France, of course, remained the primary cultural influence in Poland. All the same, a large number of introductory works concerning English literature were produced. Some of these were interpretations but the major part consisted of literary history. The tradition was to persist until after the creation of the first English chair, that of Dyboski at Cracow. Prior to that creation, Joseph Conrad's father had been one of the best-known amateur critics of Shakespeare. Dyboski himself produced a large number of 'Outlines,' in so doing satisfying the demands of both his students and the general public. Literary translation was considered to be one of the desirable tasks of university teachers. A most striking example came from the chair of English at Lwow; yet another translation of all Shakespeare's works, as well as critical works on Shakespeare and other authors, appeared from the hand of Tarnowski. 8 So, as the Polish and Czech examples suggest, the need for literary translations does indeed vary according to the cultural and political circumstances of the nations concerned. The activities of the scholars, and so even the contents of the English courses concerned may vary accordingly. In the case under discussion the traditionally predominant influence of France and of French literature and culture must be taken into account. The fact that both Poland and Czechoslovakia had to assimilate German and Austrian influence left its mark. In the case of English studies in universities at least, this was to strengthen the more traditional, philological elements in both a positive and a negative sense. In the case of Czechoslovakia, a multilingual country with a sizeable German-speaking community and a high percentage of people speaking German as a second language already in existence, translations of English literature into German


Helmut Schrey

could be used by many of the more educated Czech readers. Although it is likely that a closer inspection of the corresponding situation in other multilingual countries such Belgium and Switzerland would produce some equally fascinating results because both countries share (and particularly in the case of Switzerland) contribute significantly and effectively to the neighbouring literatures in the corresponding languages (German and French), such inspection would probably not result in any unexpected information concerning the more limited problems and questions relating to literary translation that are the subject of the present essay. In this respect German-speaking Switzerland seems to share both the problems faced as well as the opportunities offered to literary translators in West Germany 9 and Austria. English studies in a country like France give rise to problems and opportunities of a different nature. What is of particular interest, in contrast to the situations so far discussed, is that France is culturally both extremely centralized and traditionally self-contained. At the same time she has always remained fully aware of her leading role in Europe over the centuries. Yet we cannot allot a leading position to French anglistics even though in identifying herself so closely with her own civilization, France has always displayed a clear cultural, and in the field of English studies specifically literary, interest in her neighbour Britain, even though that neighbour is to this day still perceived as somewhat 'foreign'. On the whole it is true to say that literary translation from English into French has not been a preoccupation in the same way as has been translation from English into German or even Italian, and here we may discern a high degree of self-sufficiency in matters of culture as far as France is concerned. On the other hand the immense expansion in French university education, together with the way in which regionalization in this sphere of French life seems to coexist easily with the extraordinary degree of centralization in all administrative and educational matters, has seen to it that the role of literature in university curricula has dwindled at the expense of courses in cultural studies with only a limited literary content. Accordingly, the programmes of study vary widely. Indeed, it has been argued that local factors such as employment have led to this divergence, a divergence that has itself been exacerbated by the new emphasis on applied cultural studies as teaching methods within such courses are adapted to meet such local needs.10 This argument indicates the difference in the French approach to civilization studies and the German approach to Landeskunde as well as shedding considerable light on the different approaches of the two university systems towards the practical and professional needs of their students. These needs appear to include secretarial work, all aspects of public relations, and technical correspondence in the world of commerce. Among such activities may also be included literary translation. Where

Problems and Opportunities of Translation


this is the case, it is not only the linguistic needs of the students that are met. On the contrary, because cultural studies cover a relatively wide field, they tend to provide students with the contextual background necessary when entering the difficult field of literary translation. It is at this point that we should move on to discuss in more general terms the profession of literary translation in European countries. After all, most literary translators, whether full- or part-time, are former students of English, many but not all having followed English studies courses at university level. In most cases they have had to rely on their own resourcefulness, although where possible of course they have been able to consult the authors being translated. In general, although the assistance afforded by their university training has varied from case to case and within different systems, it has generally been small. Comprising as they do less than influential elements within literary systems that in themselves form equally weak elements within economic systems that operate for the most part on a free-market basis, literary translators have to work under considerable pressure to meet deadlines. Their pay is miserably low. In most cases they cannot even rely on sufficient professional help from the readers in their publishing firms, since these readers are not only working under similar pressure but are used to the desperately low expectations of the general reading public as to the quality of literary translations. An interesting illustration of the specifics of this situation was provided in 1977, when, after the publication of his novel Der Butt, Giinter Grass met with nine of his twelve translators for a week at a Frankfurt symposium that turned into a highly successful if strenuous literary workshop. Grass had to persuade his publishers Luchterhand to agree to this rather expensive operation. That the symposium was so unusual is surely in itself sufficient evidence of the low standing in which literary translation is held today. It was found that the economic situations under which his translators had to work varied enormously from country to country. In Scandinavia the honoraria of Grass's translators compared favourably, at about DM 15.00 per page, with the then going rates in West Germany for literary translations into German. In Italy (where, although many translations from foreign literatures, particularly from English, are produced, sales are modest), the rate was DM 7.50; in Spain (where sales prospects are even less favourable) it was only DM 3.50. Not only is the relatively low number of assumed readers in these southern European countries to be attributed to the state of the respective educational systems; the various systems of book distribution also need to be taken into account. An exception was provided by Japan, where translators receive royalties according to the number of copies sold. In the case of Grass's books the remuneration may thus be quite sufficient, although paradoxically the Japanese system




may serve as a deterrent when it comes to selecting which books are to be translated. In both Scandinavia and the Netherlands, where large sales of translations cannot be expected, state translation grants may be applied for. If the Grass symposium afforded a generally gloomy prospect, it is nonetheless the case that in the German context, with its old and honourable tradition in the field of literary translation, it has been possible more recently to discern some rays of hope in the setting up of two institutions: the Esslinger (Übersetzer-)Gespräche and the Europäisches Übersetzerkollegium in Straelen/Niederrhein. Solidly funded and excellently equipped with lexicographical and technical media, the second of these institutions in particular may successfully pave the way towards a better state of the art, the more so since it has already established itself as both a workingand a meeting-place for literary translators from all over the world. It is understandable that these institutions still suffer from intense distrust of universities, with their modern philologies and their uncompromisingly academic ways of dealing with both language and literature, an attitude that extends to the translation process. But it is worth attempting to reduce this distrust so as to attain the co-operation that is desperately needed if the state of literary translation is ever to improve. Here the major obligation certainly lies with the universities and their modern language studies programmes. The sin of neglect must be atoned for. There are already some more or less institutional signs of improvement. At the University of Duisburg the rapidly dimishing employment prospects for teachers led to the realization that although students spend much of their time in translation courses, that time was not being used to optimal effect. In traditional courses students are taught how to tackle translation under examination conditions. But such conditions are far removed from those under which professional translators work, whatever their specialization may have been. Two of the language-teaching staff, Veronica Smith and Christine Klein-Braley, themselves qualified although not full-time translators, have developed a new functional approach to teaching (and learning) translation skills, and this has now been published as a students' textbook." Very positive reviews and comments by colleagues teaching translation at other universities demonstrated the great need for a book of this kind. While only a minority of the demonstration texts provided are literary, the authors' approach to translation offers a basic methodology for translating any given text in any direction. The authors insist that source texts must first be viewed in their context, with a consideration of their communicative function in the source language. This lays stronger emphasis on the cognitive aspects of translation. Yet even in Duisburg it was not the professors of literature who decided that in the context of language studies translation belonged to the real

Problems and Opportunities of Translation


world rather than being viewed merely as a form of examination. The pioneers were members of the language-teaching staff, fortunate in having sued successfully for tenure, and their situation enabled them to develop their materials and formulate their didactic assumptions over a considerable period of time. Yet even in Duisburg there has so far been no attempt to deal seriously in seminars or lectures with the problems of literary translation. But we ought not to forget that even under unfavourable conditions and against the academic and other odds, literary translations of a high quality can be and are being produced, even in universities and by university professors. Hans Heinrich Meier himself set one of the most admirable examples in translating Milton's Paradise Lost while employed as a professor of English language in the Netherlands. 12 In doing so he followed in the footsteps of his famous Swiss predecessor, the literary defender as well as translator of Milton, Johann Jacob Bodmer (1698-1783). To the author of the present essay who, in spite of being a professor of English himself has not always been able to resist the temptation to translate from English into his mother tongue, German, 13 this is a hopeful sign indeed. But it should not be forgotten that hopeful signs of this kind, significant as they certainly are, have up to now had few consequences for the teaching and study of literary translation at university level, irrespective of the various cultural and political systems to which these universities belong. What improvement there has been has been only very gradual. This sad state of things must be changed, the more so since at the present moment the teacher-training function of modern language departments has practically come to a standstill. Consequently it is inevitable that graduates have started to seek other forms of employment. But the rapid expansion of television communication systems and the corresponding need for synchronization and sub-titling from not only English but other world languages as well should ensure that practical and fundamental steps are taken in the training of literary translation at university level. In this way language students of the future may be in a position to enjoy even more fully those rare literary translations of an extremely high order, such as Hans Heinrich Meier's German version of Paradise Lost. It is hard to believe that this translation has gone into three editions within only twenty years. Is this a sign that perhaps after all the German reading public, indeed reading publics around the world, possess more discernment than we sometimes tend to think? If they do, they certainly do not deserve to be provided with the substandard literary translations that at present are all too often in evidence.14




NOTES 1. I would like to t h a n k Christine Klein-Braley for reading and discussing this paper. 2. See T h o m a s Finkenstaedt, Kleine Geschichte der Anglistik in Deutschland (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1983); K o n r a d Schröder, Die Entwicklung des Englischunterrichts an den deutschsprachigen Universitäten bis zum Jahre 1850 (Ratingen: H e n n , 1969); G u n d a Haenicke, Zur Geschichte der Anglistik an deutschsprachigen Universitäten ¡850-1925 (Augsburg: Universität Augsburg, 1979); H e l m u t Schrey, Anglistisches Kaleidoskop: Zur Geschichte der Anglistik und des Englischunterrichts in Deutschland (St. Augustin: Richarz, 1982); Renate H a a s , Victor Aimé H u b e r u n d Sigmund Imanuel, Zwei Vorkämpfer englischer Wissenschaft und die praktische Entwicklung einer Studien im Vormärz: Bildungsaristokratische modernen bürgerlichen Bildung (Duisburger Habil.-Schrift, 1987). 3. T h o m a s Finkenstaedt, ' I n t r o d u c t o r y R e m a r k s , ' in T h o m a s Finkenstaedt a n d G e r t r u d Scholtes eds, Towards a History of English Studies in Europe. Proceedings of the WildsteigSymposium, April 30-May 3, 1982 (Augsburg: Universität Augsburg, 1983): 3-4. 4. See G o d f r i d Storms, 'Phonetics and " A n g l i s t i k " ' in Finkenstaedt & Scholtes 1982: 97103. 5. Storms, 98. 6. Concerning English studies in Czechoslovakia my cordial t h a n k s are due to my D u i s b u r g colleague, formerly Professor at Prague University, Vilém Fried. In addition see Evan Poldauf, ' T h e Rise a n d Development of English Studies in the C o u n t r y of the Prague School,' in Finkenstaedt & Scholtes: 177-87. 7. Especially during the R e f o r m a t i o n and p o s t - R e f o r m a t i o n , with the ensuing emigration of a considerable n u m b e r of Czechs to England, the best-known being J o h a n n A m o s C o m e n i u s ( = Komenski). 8. See Jacek Fisiak, 'English Studies in Poland: A Historical Survey,' in Finkenstaedt & Scholtes: 130-31. 9. The situation in the G e r m a n D e m o c r a t i c Republic is clearly different, particularly as far as economic conditions and central control are concerned. 10. See J e a n D u l c k , ' T h e Teaching of "Civilisation": A French A p p r o a c h , ' in Finkenstaedt & Scholtes: 233. 11. Veronica Smith & Christine Klein-Braley, In Other Words: Arbeitsbuch Übersetzung (München: H u e b e r , 1985). 12. J o h n Milton, Das verlorene Paradies. Aus dem Englischen übertragen und herausgegeben von Hans Heinrich Meier. (Stuttgart: Reclam 1 1968). 13. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, übersetzt von Helmut Schrey (Kastellaun: H e n n , 1977) and H e l m u t Schrey, Der arme Rektor (Duisburg: Gilles & F r a n c k e , 1985), [being a p a r o d y of Coleridge's p o e m , but containing the revised translation of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner as well], 14. In the m e a n t i m e G e r m a n Anglistics seems to have realized the seriousness of the situation. The Anglistentag (the G e r m a n association of professors a n d senior lecturers in English) has a n n o u n c e d a section 'Literary T r a n s l a t i o n ' at its 1987 conference that consists of the following topics: Translating W o m e n Poets; Translating between Oral and Literate Cultures; Über Probleme des Ubersetzens von Black English a n h a n d von Roots', Kontrastive Linguistik u n d Übersetzung; An American Bird in G e r m a n Translation; Vom U m g a n g mit dem F r e m d e n in M o r t i m e r s Captain of Köpenick; M e t a p h o r as a Problem in Literary Translation. However, it remains to be seen how far this will have noticeable effects on teaching and examining in the f u t u r e .

A Middle English Translator at Work: The Weye of Paradys F.N.M. Diekstra

The Middle English Weye of Paradys, a treatise on confession dated c. 1400, is a translation of the French Voie de Paradis. The translation is generally close, but in places erratic. As Workman has maintained, the development of English prose in the fifteenth century is to a large extent determined by the practice of translation from Latin and French. 1 Professor Meier, in various essays, has studied the excellences of poetic styles in translation. This article, in a more pedestrian way, will deal with the defects of a prose translation. However, exactly because The Weye of Paradys shows so many lapses, it affords a view of the difficulties of translation in a way that is more revealing than a perfect translation would. The view of a text as a more or less successful translator's job may well affect our assessment of matters like the syntax, idiom and lexicon of the text we study. In the notes which follow it should be kept in mind that the relation of The Weye of Paradys to the Voie de Paradis (henceforth WP and VP) is not a direct one but is subject to the vicissitudes of the scribal process. VP has come down in four manuscripts, none of which can claim to be the exemplar of WP. WP itself is preserved in a single manuuscript, BL Harley 1671, which in its turn reveals scribal deviations from its presumed exemplar. Nevertheless, as a collation of the variant readings of VP with WP has borne out, one of the four manuscript versions of VP, Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, Français 1838, is the version most closely related to WP. It is the version that will serve as a basis for comparison. Since the Latin source of VP sometimes sheds light on problems of textual transmission, this will, where appropriate, be referred to in the version in Bibliothèque Nationale Latin 14883.2 The most striking feature of the translation is the type of error caused by visual or auditory association, i.e. the errors that may be attributed to confusion in the mind of the translator between words resembling each other. Thus in heuynes of hys synnes (74r) translates en penssant a sespechiez, where penssant seems to have been wrongly associated with pesant 'heavy'. He hath lost aile goodes and the crowne of Owre Lord (75v) renders il a perdu touz biens et couroucié Nostre Seigneur, where couroucié 'angered' was read as coronne 'crown'. In Oure Lord schal comen on lyue (76v), which renders Nostre Seigneur ... vendra en une nue, the minims of une nue 'a

164 F.N. M. Diekstra cloud' caused confusion with some form of vivre 'to live'. The combination non du or non deue 'undue' is at one point translated namyg God (40r), at another not wyth God (ibid.), at yet another it is left untranslated (ibid.), till a fourth time it is translated correctly as not dew (ibid.). The word desvé 'crazy' is translated disseyued (21v) through association with deçu. For they becomen gret enemyes (25r) VP has ill i revient plus a envis 'he returns there more grudgingly'. The reading titulacion (41 r ), one of the branches of lechery, is likely, without further information, to be interpreted as 'titillation'. But the F titubacion 'irresolution' shows what is meant, as does the Latin source which has titubatio (153v). F euz 'them' was associated with euz, iex 'eyes' in Oure Lord ... casteth byfore here eyen grete temporel goodes (58r), F Nostre Seigneur ... leur gete devant euz les biens temporeuz. The fact that word-division is usually variable in the manuscripts may lead to erroneous associations, as when l'avis 'reason', written la vis, is taken to mean 'face'. Thus we find he hath loste his chere (36v) for il a perdu l'avis. In they ... noysen hym by here wicked wordes and with that they avaunten hym (65v) the words by ... hym translate par leur mauvesses paroles et decevantes, in which the word decevantes 'deceitful' seems to have been interpreted as de ce plus a form of the verb vanter 'to boast'. Analogously a issir de pechié is translated to ese a man of synne (3r) through association of a issir 'to leave' with aisier 'to ease'. Ajouste 'administer' was read as a jouste and translated Tak into the medicine and haue hit nyj the byfore that thou be seek (51r), F Meit en toy medecine et ajouste devant ce que tu soies malades. A prandre 'to take' was interpreted as one word and translated to lerne (40r). Since in medieval French the spelling oi often varies with ai and e,3 words like foiz 'time', fais 'facts', fes 'burden' are potential sources of confusion, as in the following instances: the confessor beryth the dedes of God (17r), VP le confesseur porte les foiz a Dieu, for which the Latin source reads gerit vices patris 'is the representative of God the Father'. Again, apart from other errors, fait 'fact', fes 'burden' are confused and so are soit 'be' and sait 'knows' in A man that is in synne is charged of moo peysant thynges thanne he knoweth (48r) for honme et fame qui est em pechié est charchié du plus pesant fes qui soit. The same vowel alternation, in addition to the manuscript similarity of c and t, explains the translation wol withdrawe (65v) for creroit 'would believe' (cf. trere/traire and croire). Abbreviations may cause wrong associations, as when ovec 'with' is written ou with superscript c, which caused the translator to interpret it as one 'ever' in: he schrof hym not verrely ne trewly ne neuer had parfyt repentaunce (52v) for l'en ne se confessast mie vraiement ne ouec parfete repentance. There seems to be no limit to which this type of 'associative' (or should

A Middle English Translator at Work


we say careless?) translation may go, as is evident from an instance like the following, which is a remarkable case of sustained error. The word singe 'ape', interpreted as cygne 'swan', probably triggered off the following avalanche of mistranslations: He that hath drede of a lytel penaunce is lyk to a swan that bytith in a snow that is jet froren. Whanne he hath beten, hit semyth hym ful byttyr and he casteth hit here and there; and jif he bethowjt hym of that that is vnder the snow, how good and swete hit is withinne, he ne wolde not casten hit awey (63r)- The French for this is: Celi qui a peeur de un pou de penitance resemble au singe qui mort en une noiz qui est encor a escoirer. Quant il i a mors, elle li semble moult amere, et la gete ou la lesse cheoir; et se il se pourpenssast du noel qui est dedans la noiz bon et dous, il ne la jetast mie. The Latin source reads: Nota quod tales assimilantur symie, que mordens in nuce exterius sentit amaritudinem corticis; non advertens dulcedinem que latet interius, statim proicit nucem (173v). Another aspect of the translation is the abundant use of synonymic or quasi-synonymic word-pairs of the type flatere and glose (66v), F flate et lobe', wit ne wysdam (54r), F sapienté ne sagesce. The device is partly an established feature in the practice of translation, but also came to be characteristic of the curial style, i.e. the style of the chanceries, developed by the clerics of the Roman Curia, which was imitated by the national chanceries and set the tone for writings in the vernacular. 4 The original purpose was obviously functional: it expressed precision and emphasis (as in concedimus, damus et assignamus), but it soon tended to be formal and ornamental, merely conveying that the practitioner had a smattering of legal terminology. In some instances in the English translation it seems to be a mere mannerism, as in: the man that serueth and is a seruant (l r ), how and in what wyse (lv), the circumstaunces that agreggen or haue engredded his synnes (41v). As is evident from the following instances, the English translator is very free in handling the device. He sometimes follows the French and supplies two terms, sometimes reduces two terms to one, or introduces two, even three terms where the French does not show the device. Thus it is used 1.



both in WP and VP: wrowjt and labored (69r), F. ouvré et labouré; meveth or doth meve (64v), F esmeut ou peut esmouvoir, hyd and helyd (49r), F mucees et celees\ coueren and hulen (52r), F couvrir et celer, schal haue and gete (71v), F ara et acquerra", in VP but not in WP: avayleth (3V), F ne vaut ne ne peut riens valoir, noyen (48r), F honissent et conchïent; ajeynboujt (59v), F rachetez ne rainz; withdrawe (67r), F soustrere et fortraire\ acris (70v), F arpens ou acres; in WP but not in VP: withowten abydyng or dwellyng (49v), F sanz




demoree; makith and hath maad (l v ), F fist] impotent and vnmyghty (9V), F impotent; approche and negje (17r), F aprocher; synful men and synners (48v), F pecheeurs. In a few cases three English terms may replace a single one in French: the deuel putteth, hereteleth and clepeth ofte-tymes at the dore of mannes herte (57v), F le deable boute souvent a l'uis de ceur de honme\ wrong, harme and fylthe (79r), F laidures\ a fowle, woful or a caytyf passage (5r), F chetif trespas\ schal he neuer fyjte ne chyde or stryue (36v), F ja ne contenseroit. Conversely, one English term may translate three in the French: he oweth to chyde hymself (76r), F il se doit pourpensser, tensier en soi mesmes et ledengier soi. In some instances double adjectives are replaced by a different pair in accordance with idiomatic usage: fais goddes and faynt (43 r ), F dieus fains et painz. The freedom in handling testifies to the degree to which the device had become ingrained in the style of the period. Occasionally the translator resorts to explanatory glosses, as in: but rather they owen to strawngen hem, that is to seien make hem strawnge, and chace hem awey (27v), F ainz les doit l'en estrangier et chasier. Here F estrangier is first translated literally, then paraphrased, rather like a second shot at the target. The sense 'to expel' was obviously not familiar; it is first recorded in OED for 1430. In the following instance, ha may go safly forth in his querel, ne hit may not be lost, that is to seyn his querel, saue thorew or by these fowre wyckyd aduocas (28r), F il peut fermement aler avant en sa querelle, ne elle ne peut estre perdue fors par ces . iiii. mauves advocas, the addition that is to seyn his querel seems to be occasioned by the desire to make up for the loss of distinctiveness when F elle appears as hit in English. The translation of F par by thorew or by has the effect of thinking aloud, but also falls in with the mannerisms of the curial style. In certain instances the device of double translation is exploited to solve the problem of polysemous words: men han wratth or ben euyl apayed (10v), F on a corouz. The following instances of glossing reflect a variety of translator's problems, ranging from attempts at clarification to thinking aloud, indecision and error: of goode wille or with goode wille (47v), F de bonne volenté-, papelardis, that is to seyn gret bydders of bedes (36r), F papelart; Y most nedes ben in dispeir, that is to sey in whanhope (70r), F il ne s'en faut mie moult que je ne me despoire-, And for that pryde is the firste synne ... I haue holden me so longe abouen or before (38r), F Et pur ce que orgueil est le premier pechié ... me sui ge tant tenu desus. In the latter instance the translator gives two alternative translations for F desus, i.e. abouen or before. In A man schal be payed of that or for that he hath don (2V), F chascun sera paié de ce que il ara fet, the reader is as it were left free to select the required idiom. The F word confessant 'penitent' is translated schryuen (56v), which appears to be a past participle

A Middle English Translator at Work


used substantially, and is provided with a gloss: that is to sey thoo that comen to schryuen hem. In this case the gloss merely reflects the F gloss c'est a dire ceuz qui viegnent a confesse. But schryuen in the sense 'confessant, penitent' also occurs, without gloss, translating F confessons, L confltentium: Owre Lord is in the hertes of schryuen (6r). There was no English noun confessant until the seventeenth century. Nor is the word penitent used, neither in WP nor in VP, the usual term being celi qui se confesse or pecheeur in VP and he that confesseth (or schryueth) hym and the synner in WP. In the following instance the double translation of pire 'worse' is simply a double error: An enuyous man is poryschst and lost of the wele of another (10v), F envieuz honme est pire de la bonté d'autrui. Calques and other literalisms are relatively frequent, e.g. he schal don as the wyse (32v), F il feroit que sage-, makyng hemself papelardis (36r), F en fesant le papelarf, make deth ere to (57v), F font la sorde oreille (the only other MED quotation is from the Ayenbite). The F je m'en mettra sus sa conscience means 'I will leave the verdict to his conscience', but the English is a mere caique: I schal putten me vpon his conscience (18v). Similarly receullir 'recollect' is rendered by gaderen ajeyn (53r); em petit d'eure 'in a brief space of time' by in a lytel of an houre (80v). Sette no terme (20r) renders the F ne mes mie terme 'do not delay'. This usage, which is not recorded in OED, is probably no more than a caique. The F se pourpenser 'to consider' is repeatedly translated as (be)thenken afore, as in whoso bethenkyth wel afore of these thynges (76 r ), F qui bien se porpensse de ses choses-, Whoso bethoujte hym wel afore of the day of juggement (76v), F Qui bien se pourpensseroit du jour du jugement-, and byforethenken how they schul sene him but selden (32v), F et se pourpenssent.... The translation generally disregards the F forms en and i. Thus par la grant pitié que ele en ot appears as by the gret pyte that sche had (15v); ele l'em pria as he preyed hire-, il i voit as he seith (4r). Often this involves no serious loss, but occasionally it leads to errors, as in Euery man owjte often to ... rede thyng that is euel (3V), F Tout honme ... devroit sovent lire ... ce qui i est de mal, where the reference is to 'reading in the book of conscience'. The emphatic particle si is generally best left untranslated, as the translator realized in Whanne the deuel seth that dom and sentence is jouen ajeyn the synner, he hath gret joye (18v), F Quant le deable voit que sentence est donnee contre le pecheeur, si en a moult grant joie. But it is often mistranslated, e.g. Whanne the deuel hath proued his entencion ajeyn the synner by let tires, so wil he proue hit by wytnesses (18v), F Quant le deable a prové s'entencion contre le pecheeur par leitres, si le veut il prover par tesmoinz. Si is mistaken for ci 'here' in the following instance, where the confusion is encouraged by the regular alternation of s and c: Ryghtwysnes ... there demeth the synner (18v), F Justice, qui voit bien que ses temoinz


F.N. M. Diekstra

sunt bons, ... si juge le pecheeur. It is mistaken for the reflexive pronoun in Synne that by penaunce is not defaced ne don awey, anon by hys grete heuynes he draweth hymself to another synne (21v), F Pechié qui n'est par penitance deffacé, tantost par sa grant pesenteur si trait a un autre pechié. The emphatic nature of si is sometimes rendered by this: The fyrste myle in this jorne is this that... (28r), F la premiere ... si est que .... Errors in the translation of individual words may be of various kinds. Above we have seen the 'associative' type. Another occurs when the F word is polysemous, and the wrong sense is picked out, e.g. in presyng hym that he withdrawe hym fro euel (57r), F en loant li que il se restraie du mal. The F embrasement may mean 'embracing' or 'setting on fire'. This explains at least part of the curious rendering forsweryng, enbracyng of fais juroures (39r) of F parjuremens, embrasement lesdenges (L perjurium, blasphemie, incendia, 152v). Quar and que ('for' and 'that') are often used interchangeably in older French. 5 The English translator is often tripped up by this. Thus he uses for where that is required: The Mayde Marie is of whiche maner and condycion for as sone as men prey en here, sche trembleth al of pyte (15v), F La Vierge Marie est de telle maniere quar tantost conme l'en la prie, elle fermit toute de pitié. Similarly: thus schulde thynke the goode confessor for there nys non so holy that he ne falleth ofte (27r), F et se porpensse le bon confesseur quar il n'est nul si saint que il ne chee souvent. Confession is a sacrament that hath this vertew, for when men gon somtyme to schryft euel repentaunt ... men comen ajeyn wel repentant (25 r ), F confession a tele vertu quar quant l'en va aucune foiz a confesse mauvesement repentant ... l'en revient bien repentant. Conversely WP uses that where for is required: he abydeth to haue a gret jefte ... that he abydeth to haue the rewme of Paradys (lr), F si atent a avoir de li un grant don ... que il en atent a avoir le reaume de Paradis. The herte of hym ... is as hard as a ston whereinne nothyng may entre, that al is nowjt that eny man may sey to hym (37r), F le ceur de celi ... est aussi dur conme une pierre ou il ne peut riens entrer, que pour nient li diroit l'en rien. Similarly par and pour are often used interchangeably in Old French. 6 This is reflected in WP, e.g. in For to drawe a man to goode may a man haue sone the loue and the grace of Oure Lord (71r), F Par atraire honme et fame a bien peut l'en avoir tost l'amour et la grace de Nostre Seigneur. Similarly the synful man wol not turne by fair ajeyncallyng (57v), F le pecheeur ne veut retourner pour bel rapeler. Occasionally nonsensical readings can be explained as (faithful) reflections of erroneous variant readings of VP. Thus they ... desiren to be salued in marketes and in feyres ... whereas they speke with folk (36r) parallels ... ou il parlante de gens in BN Français 1838, but the variant manuscripts read more correctly ou il a planté de gens. In the following instance the

A Middle English Translator at Work


exemplar of WP must have shared with BN Français 1838 the reading sachoiz, where variant readings are chaciez, chassés: The deueles are ouercome, and wete wel (5r), F les deables en son voincuz et sachoiz. The translation consentyng is to drawe hymself to the synne of anothir (66v) reflects the reading trere soi of BN Français 1838, where the variant reading tere soi is superior: Consentir est trere soi du pechié d'autrui. In some cases the corruptions in VP are revealed by comparison with the Latin source. Thus among the branches of the sin of gluttony is mentioned reprouyng of wittes (40v). This faithfully renders reprochement de sens in BN Français 1838, but the variant reading rebouchement de sens is more in line with the Latin source which has ebetudo sensuum (153v). Among the branches of pride are listed indignación of God, temptyng of excesse (38r). This is an innocent enough rendering of F indignación de Dieu, tentement de excès. But the Latin has more intelligibly indignatio, Dei temptatio, excessus (152r). Among the branches of gluttony WP lists langor in desyre of thynkyng (40v). VP has langeur en desirriers de penssees, but the Latin has langor sive desidia mentis (153v). It would seem that at one stage the unfamiliar desidia 'sloth' was interpreted as the more familiar desideria, an error easily perpetrated as a result of the standard abbreviations. Occasionally passages corrupt in VP are omitted in WP, as in instabilité de penssee, evaginacion de petitece, which are listed as branches of sloth. The Latin source has inconstantia mentis, evagatio, pusillanimitas, which shows that VP has muddled up the branches, first by linking mentis with inconstantia rather than with evagatio, then by interpreting the rest wildly as evaginacion de petitece, as to the meaning of which the English translator did not hazard a guess. All he has is instablenes of thowjt (39v). A special case is presented by those words which appear simply to be taken over from the source and whose status as loan-words is questionable. A case in point is the word exaltación in O schame ... vnconnyng of allé worschip and of al exaltación (24v), F honte ... tu es ... ignorance de tout honneur et de toute honnesté. It seems that WP had recourse not to the French but to the immediately preceding quotation from St Bernard: ignorantia honoris et totius exaltationis. The English word exaltación is thus simply a caique on the Latin. Assuming that the sense reflects the Latin, i.e. 'moral improvement', we would have an instance here of a word used in a sense which is not recorded in MED and first recorded in OED for the year 1656. How unwarranted such a conclusion would be is suggested by the general lack of precision of the translation. Incidentally, exaltacions occurs a second time at 38v where it renders exultación 'rejoicing', an error rather than a lexical curiosity. Among the more technical terms of the vocabulary, particulary the branches of the sins, we find quite a number of words that are not recorded in M E D or OED at all, or not in the contextual sense. Some of these




are the following (I supply the French and Latin counterparts whenever available and append the first date of record when the use in WP antedates the entry in MED or OED): acordyng 'harmonious' (42v), F acordé (MED 1464); allegementes 'allegations, accusations' (26r), F alleguemenz\ aleggynges 'allegations' (26r), F alleguemenz (OED 1531); aloyngne 'lengthen' (38r), F aloigner, aqwentiseth hym (refl.) 'adorns himself (66r), F se cointist (MED queintisen only); commission (in the combination synne of commission, 32v), F commission, L peccatum commissionis (only other MED quotation from Parson's Tale)', emulations 'ambitious rivalry' (41r), F emulacions, L emulationes (OED 1552); entule, adj. 'self-willed' (37r), F entule, L pertinax; entulete 'obstinacy' (36v), F entuleté, L pertinacia; esuresce 'idleness' (39v), F oisivrece, L otium (This esuresce may be a ghost word due to scribal confusion in VP, where oisiveté occurs as a variant of oisivrece, the former of which is recorded in the standard dictionaries of Old French, whereas the latter is not); jmprobite 'wickedness' (38r), F improbité, L improbitas (MED 1425); jnhumanyte 'cruelty' (38r), F inhumanité, L inhumanitas\ jnpugnacion 'impugnment' (38v), F impugnación, L impugnatio (MED 1454); jntractabilite 'refractoriness' (38r), F intractabilité, L intractabilitas; molles 'masturbation' (41v), F molesce, L mollities\ peysant 'heavy' (48r), F pesant (1450); peresce 'sloth' (39v), F paresce\ pertynance, adj. 'self-opinionated' (37r), F pertinaus, L pertinax-, prestite 'proneness to evil' (41r), F prestesce (var. presteté), L pronitas; preueyes, prouoies 'equals' (or 'superiors'?, 34r), F presmes, L proximus; promoteth 'puts forward a claim' (18r), F propose, L proponens (OED 1480); reysyng vp of corage 'exaltation of the heart, boasting' (35r), F eslevement de courage (differently rendered as auawntyng of herte at 38r); singularyte 'desire to render oneself conspicuous' (38r), F singularité, L singularitas (OED 1502); strawngen 'expel' (27v), F estrangier, L turpiter a se fugare (OED 1430); subiracción 'the withdrawing or withholding from a person of any right or privilege to which he is lawfully entitled' (38v), F souctraction, L subtractio beneficii (OED 1660); superstición 'superstition' (38r), F superstición, L superstitio (OED 1538); torpour 'inertia' (39v), F torpeeur, L torpor sui (already occurs in Ancrene Riwle, but only as a translated term, otherwise not until the seventeenth century); vauntance 'boasting' (33v), F vantance, L jactantia (MED and OED only list avaunting). It will be noticed that in many of the above instances the English translator did what his French colleague had done with the Latin, i.e. let the technical terms stand. In this context it is interesting to note that quite a few of these French terms are not recorded in the standard dictionaries of older French either. Nor is consistency to be expected in the translation of these more or less technical terms. Thus the F entente 'legal claim' is translated as entente in promoteth his entente (18r), but in a similar context it is translated entencion: the deuel hath proued his entencion (18v); peresce, left untranslated at 39v, is translated dulnesse at 9r and 9V.

A Middle English Translator at Work


As regards sentence structure, it appears that correlative constructions often go wrong through failure to identify the elements correlated, e.g.: In this wyse a man may avawnten and glorifie hym in his herte ... withowte seyyng of mowthe as for to tellen hit (35r), F Aussint bien se peut l'en venter et glorefier en son ceur ... sanz dire le de bouche conme a dire le. Structural complexity of any sort is repeatedly beyond the English translator. Thus in the following instance the syntactic structure of the French has become unrecognizable: Lecherie hurteth a man ... ferste in the herte he maketh hym brennyng and after he maketh hym abydyng (13r), F Luxure navre honme ...en ceur; devant le fet en enflambant, après le fet en remordant. The translation of F qui is often a source of complications. What is written qui in the manuscript may be interpreted, depending on context as qui, the relative, or que il, in which que may be the oblique pronoun or the conjunction. In the following instance qui is wrongly interpreted as que il (that he) instead of the required whiche: by word that he meveth or doth meve to synne (64v), F par parole qui esmeut ou peut esmouvoir a pechié. In the F du plus pesant fes qui soit 'with the heaviest burden that can be' qui soit is interpreted as qu'i set and translated of moo peysant thynges thanne he knoweth (48r). The potential ambiguity of qui ('who' or 'that he') is again evident in that he ... haue good hope and trust in the mercy of Oure Lord that he schal pardone and foryeuen hym his synnes (62v), F que il ait esperance et fiance en la misericorde Nostre Seigneur qui li pardonnera ses pechiez. A variant reading for qui li is que il li and this type of variation is regular. It is purely a matter of editorial decision whether qui li appears in an edited text as qui li or as qu'i li and whether the subclause is introduced by a relative or a conjunction. 7 The most striking feature of pronominal syntax in WP is the repeated use of whiche for 'such'. Thus, for instance: Slowthe draweth a man down from his hors to the grovnde in whiche maner that he may not ryse to do non thyng (9r); The Mayde Marie is of whiche maner and condycion for (read that) ... sche trembleth al of pyte (15v). In both cases F has telle maniere. Similarly in By whiche thefte is a man jugged to the deth of helle (68v), F Par tel larrecin est honme et fame jugié a la mort d'enfer. The confusion of relative and demonstrative may be due to an ill-digested familiarity with a typically fourteenth-century syntactic innovation, {the) whiche plus a noun repeating the antecedent. In such constructions which may be felt to have a demonstrative connotation.




NOTES 1. Samuel K. Workman, Fifteenth Century Translation as an Influence on English Prose, Princeton Studies in English 18 (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1940). 2. On the sources and textual relations see my article 'Robert de Sorbon and the Sources and Analogues of The Weye of Paradys', English Studies 68 (1987), 40-65. I have completed a parallel-text edition of The Weye of Paradys and La Voie de Paradis, which is due to be published in 1990 by Brill, Leiden. 3. M.K. Pope, From Latin to Modern French, (Manchester: Manchester UP, 1934), § 718. 4. Jens Rasmussen, La Prose Narrative Française du XVe Siècle, Etude Esthétique et Stylistique (Copenhagen: Munksgaard, 1958), 32-38. 5. Lucien Foulet, Petite Syntaxe de l'Ancien Français (Paris: Champion, 1968), § 428. 6. See Doris Waser-Holzgang, Beitrag zur Syntax der Präpositionen par und pour im modernen Französisch, Romanica Helvetica 49 (Bern: Francke, 1954). On p. 51 it is argued that the confusion was reinforced since par and pour share the causal sense. 7. On the three types of that he construction and their various interpretations see my article 'Ambiguous TAai-Clauses in Old and Middle English', English Studies 65 (1984), 97-110.

Constantijn Huygens' Translation of John Donne's 'A Valediction, forbidding mourning' L. Strengholt A great deal has already been written about the interplay between John Donne's poetry and the Netherlands of the seventeenth century, and in particular about the translations made of nineteen of the poems by Constantijn Huygens between 1630 and 1633.1 In what follows I do not propose to offer any further general remarks concerning this introduction to the European continent of Donne's work, unique as it was for its time. Instead my aim is now to focus on specific issues by taking as my startingpoint Huygens' autographs of his Donne translations. Up to now, all assertions concerning Donne's place in Huygens' work have had to do with the final versions of the translations. This applies to study of Huygens' texts as given either in the earliest printed collections of the Dutch verse, the Koren-bloemen of 1658 and 1672, or in J. A. Worp's manuscript-based edition. Yet to date there has been no systematic study of everything the manuscripts have to offer. To be sure, Worp reproduced the texts of Huygens' manuscripts, but in doing so he ignored precisely those things that make study of them so rewarding: the various cancellations and improvements made by the translator himself. 2 The manuscript material of Huygens' poetry that has come down to us consists not only of copies made by others (even though such copies are to be found among this material) but of various autographs of Huygens himself. This fact puts us in the remarkable position of being able to observe Huygens struggling creatively with the form and content of his work. In this article I propose to trace one instance of the process to its source, that concerning Huygens' translation of 'A Valediction, forbidding mourning,' in the belief that it is of interest to observe Huygens hesitating over his labours. What is more, investigation into the rendering of Donne's poem into Dutch permits some consideration of its interpretation. 'A Valediction, forbidding mourning' was the fourth poem of Donne's to be translated by Huygens. The following were undertaken in August 1630 (Huygens gives the date of completion beneath each poem):


L. 8 14 21 21


August: August: August: August:

'Aende Sonn' from 'Ad S o l e m ' / ' T h e Sunne Rising' ' D e Verstelling' f r o m Elegy II ('The Anagram') a fragment from Elegy VII (numbered VI in the 1635 edition) 'Vertreck' from 'A Valediction, forbidding mourning' 3

This was as far as Huygens got in 1630. Three years later, from August to October 1633 to be exact, another 15 translations were completed, stimulated in all likelihood by the appearance of the first printed edition of Donne's Poems earlier that year. Not least among the remarkable features of the first four translations, therefore, is that they indicate that Huygens must have had access to manuscript originals of a number of Donne's poems. It is not inconceivable that study of Huygens' autographs may cast light on the nature of the manuscripts that reached him. 4 The final version of Huygens' own autograph of 'Vertreck' is reproduced below: 5 Vertreck. Gelijck de deughdighe gevoeghelick verscheiden, En luijsteren haer ziel haer lust niet meer te beiden; Dewijl de vrunden staen en seggen in 'tgeween Den adem iss'er uijt, en and're seggen neen. Soo laet ons ruchteloos versmeltende vertrecken, Geen' traenen hooghen vloed, geen' suchten storm verwecken. 'Twaer onser Minn en Vreughds ontheiliging begaen, Den Leeckebroederen haer' / h e i l / g r o n d / te doen verstaen. Aerdroering kan den mensch verschricken en beschaden. Eick gaet in watse deed, en watse duijdt, beladen; Het eewighe gebeef van 'sHemels ommekeer, Was altijd machtigher, en de' noijt ¡jemand seer. D'ondermanighe minn van groue Minnaers herten, (Die'r ziel gevoelen is) die moet het afzijn smerten, Die doet het scheiden wee: de re'en is inde daed; Het Scheidt de dingen daer haer wesen in bestaet. Wij, die ons van soo fijn geslepen Liefde roemen, Dat seif wij twijffelen wats' is en hoe te noemen, Wij, wederzijds gerust op 'sherten welgeuall, Onbeeren lichtelick lipp, hand, en oogh en all. Ons een paer zielen, een, en maer een ziel te achten, Off ick vertrecken moet, en voelt sich niet verkrachten; Sij lijden min als breuck, sij werden maer gereckt, Gelijckmen 'tsmedigh goud tot locht van bladen treckt.





Constantijn Huygens'


En meentmen 'tzijnder twee, sij zijn maer twee te meenen Gelijck een passer is met tweelingen van beenen. Uw Siel, de vaste voet, all werdt sij omgevoert, Gaet staendevoets; en doch roert als haer tweeling roert. Ja, schoon de vaste voet in 'tmiddelpunt gepaelt staet Soo haest als d'andere wat ruijmer om gehaelt gaet, Men siet hij leent'er naer, en luijstert naer sijn gaen; En komt sijn gade t'huijs, so gaet hij weder staen. Soo zijt ghij tegens mij; mij die gestadigh draeijen En, als de losse voet, rond om end om moet maeijen: Uw' trouwe stevicheit maeckt mijnen omloop wiss, En doet mij eindighen daer hij begonnen is.

175 (25)



Constanter. 21 Aug." 1630«

I shall now inventorize the cancellations and corrections that led to this final version: 7 -

line 1: deughdighe. Originally 'vrome meest'; this is underlined (which is Huygens' private indication that he is in doubt as to his choice of wording) and later cancelled; above is written 'zalighe,' and this is also cancelled.


line 1: gevoeghelick. Huygens hesitated over this word; he underlined the first two syllables and above wrote 'geredelick' but cancelled that, leaving the original word as the final text.


line 2: haer lust niet meer te beiden. Originally 'sij magh niet langer beiden'.


line 3: Dewijl. Originally 'De wijl'.


line 6: traenen hooghen vloed. Originally 'traen voor hooghen vloed'; suchten storm. Originally 'sucht voor storm'; verwecken. Originally 'verstrecken'.


line 8: Leeckebroederen. Huygens first wrote 'Leecken,' but immediately followed it with 'broederen' in such a way that the 'b' is actually written over the 'n' of 'Leecken'.


line 8: /heil/grond/. Originally 'pitt,' underlined and cancelled, replaced in the first instance by 'heil' and in the second by 'grond': an open variant. 8




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