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The reader is now in possession of a certain number of the passages in question. It would not, I suppose, take much more time and trouble to complete the tale. But this method of random selection, though it may serve well enough in the case of works of manifestly different scope and character, such as are Chaucer's 'Boece' and Jehan de Meun's translation, is a poor
1 M. Denise has sometimes gone beyond the letter of my request, and given me more of the French than I asked for. I am glad of the excuse to supply the English context (in italics) to match the surplusage.
and unsatisfactory test when we have to try two versions which have so many points of resemblance as 'Boece' and MS. 1097. Nothing short of a thoroughgoing and systematic comparison of them could make an opinion on the subject worth having, and so I do not propose to offer one. I am only anxious that when excerpts are made from " the only early French version, perhaps, accessible to Chaucer," we should at least be sure that we have the right version before us.1 When its turn comes, I shall pass Chaucer's work under review, and endeavour to show that it bears, on the face of it, strong evidence in favour of originality.
Section VII.—Pierre De Paris (thirteenth or early fourteenth centunj).
Authority. — M. Ernest Langlois in 'Notices et Extraits des Manuscrits,' t. xxxiii., 2e partie, 1889.
The Vatican Library possesses (Vat. 4788) a prose version and commentary of the 'Consolation,' dated 1309, which we owe to a certain Pierre de Paris, the author of two other unknown translations. M. Langlois in his account of the MS. declares that
1 As a matter of fact, there is nothing in the mere date of the version either of J. de Cis or R. de Louhans which would put them out of our English poet's reach.
however it may be with the Latin original, the translation often stands in need of commentary.1 The work is preceded by a long prologue in which Pierre explains his method of work ("je prendrai la lettre mot a mot, droytement, sans rien changer, et puis si la exponeray clerement," &c.), and then gives us the benefit of a study on ' Boethius/
The translation of i. m. 1 begins as follows: "Je, Boece, qui ay fait ancienement les ditids en l'estude florissant, hay las! je, plorable, sui contraint assenler les vertus tristes."
After an explanation three times as long as the translation, he goes on again: "Blessay les sciences depeciees qu'il me ditent choses de escrire, et les vers de la chaitivitd si arosent mes balievers2 de verais plors."
At the end the author submits his work to his patron, some high personage, perhaps the king, begging his indulgence and intelligent interpretation: "Je sui certain que tante est vostre debonairetd que vos suplerois toutes mes defautes et que par vostre entendement l'euvre sera dou tout clere a tous ceaus qui vodront avoir la conoissance."
1 Op. cit., p. 262.
2 Bas-lièvres—i.e., the lower part of the cheek.
Section VIII.—Anonymous Poet (138- ?).
Authorities.—M. Delisle, as before; M. E. Langlois, in 'Catalogue general des MSS. des Departements,'t. vii.; MSS. in B. M. Add. 26,767 (early xv.), Boy. 20. a, xix.* (xv.)
Certainly during Chaucer's lifetime, and most
probably almost synchronous with his ' Boece,' there
appeared in France a translation which is generally
known by the words of its first line—
"Celui qui bien bat les boissons
Until 1873 it was accepted, on the authority of Buchon,1 as the work of the famous Charles d'Orleans; but in that year M. Leopold Delisle2 proved beyond the shadow of doubt that the conjecture, however ingenious, was wrong, which ascribed this version to the prisoner of Agincourt. Buchon was led to it by a passage in the prologue, where the poet gives as the motive of his work a wish to calm the grief caused to a king Charles, who had quite lately mounted the throne, by the misfortunes of his subjects.
I have written it, he says—
Que Charles roy qui a este
1 Choix d'ouvrages mystiques, tome 21-23 (in the Pantheon litterairc). 2 Op. cit., p. 317.
En sa nouvelle mageste
Buchon at once jumped at the conclusion that the young king was Charles VII. and the writer Charles d'Orleans, and proceeded to support his theory by the following arguments :—
1. Charles d'Orleans was something of a Latin scholar, and as such, likely to pride himself on his knowledge, rare in a man of his rank.
2. The handwriting of the Paris and Brussels MSS. is the handwriting of Charles d'Orleans's day.
3. The Brussels MS. has a princely look.
4. The royal personage of the prologue is addressed in terms of familiarity which would be unseemly in the mouth of other than one of his own family.
5. The style and feeling of the translation are in perfect harmony with the style and feeling of Charles d'Orleans's authentic poems.
The date he proposed to assign it was the moment of Charles VIL's accession—i.e., 1422.
To upset this ingenious fabric a single MS. of date anterior to 1422 is sufficient. Such a MS. exists in No. 14,459 of the Fonds francais in the