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risk his life for his friend, and has the grace to seek in sophistical motives of kindness to the despairing lover, a plea for the baseness with which he acts towards Cryseyde. , Finally, the conclusion which forces itself upon the mind on the perusal of the two poems is, that while Boccaccio excels in elegance of diction and ornament, Chaucer is immeasurably superior in depth of feeling and delineation of the ., passions. His characters are painted with more vigour and individuality, and he everywhere displays a closer knowledge of life.
It has been conjectured that Shakspeare was indebted to this poem for the suggestion of his Troilus and Cressida; but a comparison of the details will show that he must have drawn his principal incidents from some other source, perhaps a translation or version of Guido de Colonna. Neither this poem nor the Filostrato furnishes the materials which chiefly occupy his scenes. The action of the play is mainly founded on the siege of Troy, the quarrels of Achilles and Agamemnon, and the death of Hector; the love story being all throughout of inferior importance. The class of feelings, also, sought to be awakened are of a totally different kind from those to which Chaucer and Boccaccio appeal. There is no elevation in the attachment of Troilus and Cressida; and we are not only unmoved by their relations to each other, but can hardly avoid regarding them with aversion. Troilus might sit for the portrait of a licentious young nobleman of the court of Elizabeth or James I., and Cressida at the very opening betrays the coarseness which belongs to a woman familiar with the worst profligacies to which her sex can descend. Her first conversation with her uncle unveils a ,character which no subsequent vices can sink much lower in our estimation. In the Pandarus alone we recognize any resemblance to the subtle portraiture of Chaucer; here we have the same cunning and love of buffoonery, but with these attributes the parallel ends. Shakspeare's object seems to have been to produce a picture of the life of'the brethren and sisters of the hold-door trade,' as the epilogue expresses it, and the analogy between the poem and the play scarcely extends beyond the names of the dramatis persona. The characters have nothing in common.
Next to The Canterbury Tales this appears to have been the most popular of Chaucer's productions in his own age, . and down to the seventeenth century. Manuscript copies of it abound in public libraries, and the text, in the early editions, appears to be somewhat purer than that of his other poems. In these editions, all of which belong to the latter end of the sixteenth and beginning of the seventeenth centuries, the orthography is, as usual, accommodated to that of the period, which, as has been observed in the introduction to The Court of Love, represents neither the ancient nor the modern forms. It was, therefore, indispensable to recur to the MSS., as the only means of obtaining a correct and authentic text. For that purpose three MSS. in the Harleian Collection in the British Museum, numbered respectively 1239, 2280, and 3943, have been selected in the preparation of the present edition. Of these the third, written on vellum in a bold, neat character, is apparently the oldest, and may be referred to a date soon after the year 1410. Unfortunately it is imperfect. The first few leaves, and the whole of the latter part of the poem, appear to have been destroyed, and the deficiency supplied by a later copyist.1 Nearly contemporaneous with this MS. is thatnumbered 1239. It is an oblong folio, written from the beginning in a small, clear character, which ceases at an earlier place than the change occurs in MS. 3943, leaving the remainder comparatively useless as an authority. The present text is founded on a collation of these two MSS. as far as the early hands run together, and on MS. 3943 as far as the early hand is carried. This latter MS. is somewhat peculiar in its orthography. The letters T and 1 are used in almost all cases where e is commonly employed in medieval writings. For instance, the infinitive mood, and the past participle always end in yn, instead of en, the usual form, and the genitive case sing, and plural
1 See post, p. 187
number of nouns, in is or ys, instead of es. This peculiarity, however, is not without some advantage, because it shows at once that the syllable is to be pronounced. The personal pronoun J is always written y; but as the use of this form would have presented a difficulty to the reader, and as it does not involve any principle of grammatical structure, or rule of formation, the usual form Zhas been adopted. Wherever the MS. has been departed from on any material point, the variation is indicated in the foot notes.
Prom the place where the early hand ceases in MS. 3943, the reading of that numbered 2280 has been adopted to the end. This is a very beautiful MS. on vellum, with illuminated initials, but of a somewhat later date than either of the other two. The orthography differs slightly from theirs, but its grammatical forms and its system of spelling are uniform throughout.
In the present edition, therefore, the reader of the Troylus and Cryseyde will find for the first time a text taken strictly from MSS. which may with some confidence be affirmed to date back to within twenty or thirty years of the poet's death.
The subject of the metre has been so fully discussed in the General Introduction, that it is needless to say much upon it here. It may be observed, however, that the measure of Troylus and Cryseyde bears a strong resemblance to the ottava rima in which the Filostrato is written; but why, having so closely followed it in other respects, Chaucer should have omitted the fifth line of the stanza, which is essential to the symmetry of its structure, it is difficult to conjecture. Perhaps he found that the stanza of eight lines, so admirably suited to the flowing copiousness of the Italian, was inconsistent with the genius of his more concentrated language. Its very symmetry may have struck his ear as monotonous. Certain it is that many stanzas might be selected from this poem which have never been excelled in . melody and smoothness.]
INCIPIT LIBER PRIMUS.
THE double sorow of Troylus to tellen,
To the clepe I, thou goddesse of turmente!
For I that God of Lovys servants serve,
1 The printed editions read 'er that I part froy,' taking froy to be a contraction for fro ye. [Rightly; but part should be parte.—W. "VV. S.J
3 Tisiphone, one of the Eumenides or Furies. They personified, in the ancient pantheism, the avenging fate which punishes desperate crime in this world. Tisiphone is properly invoked to inspire a poem which relates the misfortunes of one of the guilty race, who, by aiding Paris, rendered themselves participators in the violation of the laws of hospitality and marriage. The opening of the poem, as far as the ninth stanza, is quite different from that of the Filostrato. Instead of invoking Tisiphone, Boccaccio invokes his lady.
3 The printed editions read 'That helpeth lovers as I can complaine.'
4 The Harl. MS. 3943 reads chere, evidently by mistake for fere, the reading of the printed edition. Fere means companion, helper, referring to Tisiphone, whom the poet has just invoked.
5 The poet, as in The Assembly of Foules, feigns himself insensible to love. —See vol. ii. p. j58, note 2.
VOL. Ill, C
To my lover, or my love availe,
Have he thanke, and myn he the travaile.1
But ye lovers that bathen in gladnesse,
If any drope of pitee in you be,
Remembre you for olde passyd hevynesse,
For Goddis love, and on adversitee
That suffren other; thinke how somtyme that ye
Fownde how Love durst you displese,2
Or ellis ye wonne it with grete ese.
And preyth for them that been in the caas
Of Troylus, as ye may aftir here,
That Love them bryng in Hevyn to solaas.
And for me praieth that God so deere,
He yeve me myghte to shewe, in some manere,
Such peyn or woo, suche as Lovis folke endure,
In Troylus unseely aventure.
Praith for them that eke ben dispeired
In love, that nevir nille recoverid be:
And eke for them that falsely ben appaired
Thorugh wikkid tunges, be it he or she:
Or thus biddith * God, for his benyngnyte,
To graunte them soone out of this worlde to pace,
That ben dispeired out of their lovis grace.
And biddith eke for them that ben at ese,
1 The context requires that this line should be ' Have thou thanke,' fcc. In the Filostrato it is—
'Tuo sia l'onore, e mio si sia l'aflanno, Se i detti alcuna laude acquisteranno.' 8 That is, * How the God of Love has dared to be unpropitious to you.* 8 That is,' Pray God.'—See yol. i. p. 2oo, note z.