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Fifteenth Century Prose and Verse   By:

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CENTRE for REFORMATION and RENAISSANCE STUDIES

VICTORIA UNIVERSITY

TORONTO

FIFTEENTH CENTURY PROSE AND VERSE

AN ENGLISH GARNER

FIFTEENTH CENTURY PROSE AND VERSE

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY ALFRED W. POLLARD

WESTMINSTER ARCHIBALD CONSTABLE AND CO., LTD. 1903

Edinburgh: Printed by T. and A. CONSTABLE.

PREFACE

Of the contents of the present volume about a half now appears in the ENGLISH GARNER for the first time. Professor Arber (whose ready acquiescence in my meddlings I wish cordially to acknowledge) had gathered his good corn wherever he could find it without concerning himself with the claims of the different centuries; and his specimens of Lydgate and Hoccleve, Robin Hood Ballads, and trials for Lollardy, needed as much more added to them to make up a homogeneous volume in the arrangement now adopted. My additions consist of some Christmas Carols, a Miracle Play, a Morality, and a number of the interesting prologues and epilogues of William Caxton; also two extracts on the art of translation and the need for its exercise, and some depositions in a theatrical lawsuit. The extracts are of the end of the fourteenth century, but are germane to our period as heralding the numerous translations by which it was distinguished; the lawsuit is of the sixteenth century, but throws light on the transition from municipal to private enterprise in theatrical matters which had then been for some time in progress. As these pieces are included for their matter, not for their style, I hope they will not be considered intrusions in a volume essentially devoted to the fifteenth century, though the extracts on translation have led me in my Introduction to an excursus on the authorship of the Wycliffite translations of the Bible, which can only be excused on the pleas that Purvey and Trevisa both lived on into the fifteenth century, and that it was in the early years of that century that the Bibles were most in circulation.

In editing my texts I have availed myself of the help of the edition of the play of the Coventry Shearmen and Tailors in Professor Manly's Specimens of the Pre Shaksperean Drama (Ginn, 1897), of Dr. Henri Logeman's Elckerlijk and Everyman (Librairie Clemm, Gand, 1892), of Professor Ewald Fl├╝gel's transcript of the Balliol College Carols published in the Festschrift presented to Professor Hildebrand in 1894, of the Caxton Prefaces printed in Blades's Life of Caxton , of Mr. Henry Plomer's transcript of the pleadings in Rastell v. Walton in vol. iv. of the Transactions of the Bibliographical Society, and of Forshall and Madden's Wyclif Bible. In Professor Arber's text of the Robin Hood Ballads I have ventured to make a few corrections by the light of the excellent edition (based on the work of Professor Child), printed by Professor Gummere in his Old English Ballads (Ginn, 1894). That of Hoccleve's Letter of Cupid , originally printed from Urry's text, has been revised with the aid of the collations published by Professor Skeat in his Chaucerian and Other Pieces . Professor Arber's other texts are reprinted substantially as they stood.

In accordance with the plan adopted throughout the English Garner , the extracts in this volume are given in modern spelling. I should have preferred myself to re write them in the educated spelling of their own period, which would offer no obstacle of any kind to a modern reader. Not only, however, for the sake of uniformity, but because I am so convinced that this is the right method of dealing with badly spelt texts that I wish the experiment to be made for the first time by a better philologist than myself, I have fallen back on modern spelling. Whatever its disadvantages, they seem to me as nothing compared with the absurdity of preserving in texts printed for the second, third, and fourth time the vagaries of grossly ignorant scribes. In the play of the Shearmen holiness is spelt whollenes , merry myrre , voice woise , signification syngnefocacion , celestial seylesteall , and so on... Continue reading book >>




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