Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

ben not the wysest men. The laye peple otherwhyl (sometimes; wexe (wax, grow) wys. The cause that thise clerkes ben note the wysest is, that they studye so moche in the connyng (knowledge) and science, that they therin doole? (come to sorrow?). Thus brought I Isegrym in this grete laste (loss) and harmé, that he unneth (scarcely) byhelde? (looked at, cared for) his lyf. Lyef3 (dear) nevew, now have I tolde you alle my synnes that I remembre.

SIR THOMAS MORE.

1. DUKE HUMPHREY AND THE BLIND BEGGAR.

(FROM "A DIALOGUE OF SIR THOMAS MORE,” WRITTEN IN 1528.)

SOME priest, to bring up (in order to get up) a pilgrimage in his parishe, 'may devise some false felowe fayning ( feigning) himselfe to come seke a saint“ in hys church, and there sodeinly say, that he hath gotten hys syght. Than shall ye have the belles rong for a miracle, and the fondes (weak) folke of the countrey soon made foles (fools). Than (then) women commynge thither with theyr candels. And the Person

(1) Doole. Whether this word will bear the rendering given above, as if from the Fr. deuil, or whether it means “ take part in,” fr. dole, the editor cannot decide, as he can find no other instance of the use of the word.

(2) Byhelde. Wiclif, in this sense, has “Thou beholdest (regardest) not the person of men."

(3) Lyef, fr. A.S. leof, dear; hence lief, &c.

(4) Seke a saint, i.e. to go to his shrine. This phrase is also used by Chaucer, who, in the Prologue to the “ Canterbury Tales," has

“The holy blisful martir forto seeke.” (5) Fonde. A word very commonly used in early English, but of uncertain origin. It does not appear to be A.S., but may be from the old Norse fana, to be foolish ; hence the Scottish verb fonne, to play the fool, with a p.r. fonned, played the fool with or befooled, and therefore weak and foolish, applied first to persons and then to things. In the 22nd Article, Purgatory is described as a "fond thing, vainly invented.” In this sense the word is now obsolete. In the above passage, “ fools" are evidently a degree worse than “ fond " people.

(parson) byenge of some lame begger iii or iïïi payre of theyr olde crutches, with xii pennes spent in men and women of wex' (wax), thrust tharowe (through) divers places, some with arrowes, and some wyth rusty knyves, wyll make his offerynges for one vii yere worth twise hys tythes.

Thys is, quoth I, very trouth that suche thinges may be, and sometime so be in dede. As I remember me that I have hard (heard) my father tell of a begger, that in Kyng Henry his daies” the sixt cam with his wife to Saint Albonis (St. Alban's), and there was walking about the towne begging, a five or six dayes3 before the kinges commynge thither, saienge that he was borne blinde, and never sawe in hys lyfe, and was warned in hys dreame, that he shoulde come out of Berwyke, where he said he had ever dwelled, to seke Saynt Albon, and that he had ben at his shryne, and had not bene holpen. And therefore he would go seke hym at some other place, for he had hard some say singó (since) he came that Sainct Albonys body shold be (i.e. was) at Colon, and in dede such a contencion (difference of opinion) hath ther ben. But of troth, as I am surely informed, he lieth here at Saint Albonis, saving some reliques of him which thei there shew shrined (enshrined). But to tell you forth ( further); whan (when) the kyng was comen,? and the towne full, sodaynlye thys blind man, at Saint Albonis

(1) Men and women of wax, &c. In reference to the waxen figures of persons or of separate limbs, affected with disease, which may be seen in Roman Catholic churches, set up as votive offerings before the shrines of particular saints.

(2) King Henry his daies, i.e. King Henry's days; the his being used as a sign of the possessive case. So in the Prayer Book, “For Jesus Christ his sake," &c. Shakspere, “ Mars his (i.e. Mars's) gauntlet.” This usage gave rise to the idea that the 's of the possessive case represented his generally, whereas it is a contraction of the A.S. genitive in es.

(3) A five or six dayes. This usage may be also found in Chaucer, “Wel neygh a seven busshels." See other instances under“ A," in Aldis Wright's “ Bible WordBook."

(4) Holpen, the 0.E. p.p. of help, pret. holp, wh.fr. A.S. helpan, pret. healp, p.p. holpen. We find it in the 83rd Psalm, v. 8, “ They have holpen the children of Lot."

(5) Sins, fr. A.S. sith, after. Passing through siththan (after that), seothen, suthen, su othen, sithence, and many other vagaries of form, it became as above, sins, and at length the mod. since. More, it will be seen, also uses sith.

(6) Shold; the indirect construction. See note 2, p. 3.

(7) Comen, fr. A.S. cuman, to come, pret. com, p.p. cumen. The term. en of the p.p. was a mark of a strong verb. Rongen and songen, below, have the same form, but are now rung and sung; like comen and many others they have lost the n or

en.

shryne had his sight agayne, and a myracle solemply' rongen (rung, announced by the ringing of bells), and Te Deum songen, so that nothyng was talked of in al the towne, but this myracle. So happened it than (then) that duke Humfry of Gloucester, a great wyse man and very wel lerned, having great joy to se such a myracle called the pore man unto hym. And first shewing him self joyouse of Goddes glory so shewed in the getting of his sight, and exortinge hym to mekenes, and to none (no) ascribing of any part the worship (honour, glory) to him self nor to be proude of the peoples prayse, which (who) would call hym a good and a godly man thereby (on account of it). At last he loked well upon his eyen (eyes), and asked whyther (whether) he could never se nothing (anything) at al, in al his life before. And whan (when), as well his wyfe as himself affermed fastely (steadfastly) no, than he loked advisedly upon his eien again, and said I believe you very wel, for me thinketh (it seems to me) that ye cannot se well yet. Yea syr, quoth he, I thanke God and his holy marter, I can se nowe as well as any man. Ye can? quoth the Duke; what colour is my gowne ? Then anone (immediately), the begger told him. What colour, quoth he, is this mans gowne? He told him also; and so forthe, without any sticking (hesitation), he told him the names of ál the colours that coulde bee shewed him. And whan my lord sawe that, he bad him,“ walke, faytoure (cheat, vagabond), and made him be set openly in the stockes. For though he could have sene soudenly by myracle the dyfference betwene divers colours, yet coulde he not by the sight, go sodenly tel the names of all these colours, but if (unless) he had known them before, no more than the names of all the men that he should sodenly se.

Lo therefore I say, quod your frende, who may be sure of such thynges, whan such pageantes* (performances, tricks) be played before all the towne?

[ocr errors]

(1) Solemply. The interpolation of the p is abnormal. Chaucer and others write also dampned (condemned), and dampnacioun.

(2) Could. This is one of the earliest instances of the blunder of interpolating the l, in imitation, apparently, of would and should. The l is no proper part of the word.

(3) Faytoure. It is the old Fr. faitour, an idle, dissolute fellow, or vagabond.

(4) Pageantes. A word of uncertain origin. Perhaps Horne Tooke is right in connecting it with the A.S. pæcan or pæcian, to deceive. It meant usually a performance or play; sometimes the scaffold or platform on which it was performed. Shakspere has " A pageant truly played,” “This unsubstantial pageant," and Milton “ Masque and antique pageantry.

2. LETTER TO HIS WIFE AFTER THE BURNING OF HIS HOUSE AT CHELSEA.

(WRITTEN IN 1528.)

MAISTRES Alyce, in my most harty wise (most heartily) I recommend me to you (I pay my compliments to you); and whereas I am enfourmed by my son fleron of the losse of our barnes and of our neighbours (our neighbours' barns) also, with all the corn that was therein, albeit (although) (saving God's pleasure,) it is gret pitie of so much good corne lost, yet sith (since) it hath liked him (pleased him) to sende us such a chaunce (mischance, misfortune), we must (we must be) and are, bounden, not only to be content, but also to be glad of his visitacion. He sente us all that we have loste; and sith (since) he hath by such a chaunce taken it away againe, his pleasure be (let his pleasure be) fulfilled. Let us never grudge (grumble) ther at, but take it in good worth ( part), and hartely thank him, as well for adversitie as for prosperite. And peradventure (perhaps) we have more cause to thank him for our losse, then (than) for our winning (gain); for his wisdome better seeth what is good for us then (than) we do our selves. Therefore I pray you be of good chere, and take all the howsold with you to

(1) Saving God's pleasure (i.e. exception being made of God's pleasure, with submission to God's will). This phrase is used somewhat in the same way as the Fr. sauf, as sauf votre honneur. We also find in Shakspere, “Saving your reverence."

(2) Chaunce, fr. Fr. chance, wh. fr. Lat. cadere, to fall, to fall out (d being interchangeable with n, as letters of proximate organs), and hence, like Lat. fortuna, neutral in signification. We now usually settle the meaning by using the word mischance, a falling out amiss.

(3) Bounden, O.E. p.p. of bind, now almost obsolete, except in connection with such phrases as “bounden duty," i.e. the duty to which one is bound.

(4) Grudge, fr. early Eng. grucche or grutch, to grumble; of uncertain origin.

(5) Worth. In Latimer's 3rd Sermon before Edward VI., we find, “It becometh me to take it in good worthe."

(6) Winning, fr. A.8. winnan, to labour, and also to obtain by labour; hence the word bread-winner. Chaucer has :

“ His resons spake he ful solempnely,

Souning alway the encrease of his winning." (7) Chere, fr. old Fr. chière, mod. Fr. chère, the countenance ;_"to make one good cheer," to look with a good and favourable countenance on one (See “ Eton Boy's Letter,” p. 44), or without special reference, to be cheerful, which is also the

church, and there thanke God, both for that (what) he hath given us, and for that he hath taken from us, and for that (what) he hath left us, which if it please hym he can encrease when he will. And if it please hym to leave us yet lesse, at his pleasure be it. I pray you to make some good ensearche (search), what my poore neighbours have loste, and bid them take no thought? (anxiety, concern) therefore (on account of it): for and (if) I shold not leave myself a spone, there shal no pore neighbour of mine bere no losse by any chaunce (misfortune) happened in my house. I pray you be with my children and your household merry? (happy) in God. And devise somewhat with your frendes, what waye wer best to take, for provision to be made for corne for our household, and for sede thys yere comming, if ye thinke it good that we kepe the ground stil in our handes. And whether ye think it good that we so shall do or not, yet I think it were not best sodenlye thus to leave (give) it all up, and to put away our folk of (from) our farme till we have somewhat advised us thereon. Howbeit if we have more (i.e. more people) nowe then (than) ye shall nede, and which (such as) can get them other maisters, ye may then discharge us (get rid) of them. But I would not that any man were sodenly sent away he wote (knows) nere (never or not) wether (whither). At my comming hither I perceived none other (had no other idea) but that I shold tary still with the Kinges Grace. But now I shal (I think) because of this chance, get leave this next weke to come home and se you; and then shall we further devyse together uppon all thinges, what order (arrangement) shalbe best to take (make). And thus as hartely fare you well with all our children as ye can wishe. At Woodestok (Woodstock) the thirde daye of Septembre by the hand of

Your louing husbande,

THOMAS MORE. KNIGHT. meaning of, to be of good cheer, i.e. of good and happy countenance, to look and to be cheerful.

(1) Thought, fr. A.S. thencun, to think. In old writers, thoghte means anxiety, solicitude. So in Matt. vi. 25, "Take no thought,i.e. anxious thought or concern. Bacon speaks of an alderman of London who “dyed with thought.

(2) Merry, fr. A.S. myrig, has been a favourite word all through our literature. In the form murie, myry, we find it used for cheerful, gay, pleasant, and very fre. quently where we should now use, happy; a word of comparatively modern introduction. The word merry has now a restricted meaning. In “Piers Ploughman,” we have---speaking of the waters of a brook—“It (they) sweyed so murye" (They sounded so pleasantly). In the 47th Psalm (Pr.-Bk. version) we find "God is gone up with a merry noise," meaning a joyous sound or shout, as it is in the Authorised Version.

« AnteriorContinuar »