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3. rouncy, a heavy horse, hired by the Shipman, and unsuited for the saddle. as he couthé, as well as he knew how. Sailors are often poor horsemen.
4. falding, a kind of coarse cloth. 5. a laas, a string or band.
8. a good felawé, a pleasant fellow. Chaucer applies the term to other disreputable people besides the Shipman.
9-10. Many a cask of wine he had stolen and carried away from Bordeaux, France, while the merchant was asleep.
11. He did not have a scrupulous conscience.
16. herberwe here means the resting place or position of the sun in the heavens at any given time. -- lodemenagé, pilotage.
17. Hullé, Hull, a seaport town in the north of England. — Cartagé, Carthage, a city on the north coast of Africa.
18. He was bold, but prudent, in his undertakings.
21. Gootlond, Gottland, an island in the Baltic Sea. — Finisteré, Cape Finisterre, on the north west coast of Spain.
23. y-cleped, called, named. — Maudelayné, Magdalen.
THE PARSON LINE 2. povré, poor. 4. clerk, a scholar. 9. And such he was proved oftentimes. 10. He was loath to excommunicate, or cut off from the sacraments of the church, those who failed to pay their tithes. to cursen refers to the formal ceremony of excommunication. — tythés, tithes, a tax of one-tenth of a man's income for the support of the clergy and the church.
11. yeven, to give. - out of douté, undoubtedly.
13. Offring, money given by his parishioners of their own free will. substauncé, income from the endowment of the church,
14. It did not take much to satisfy his wants.
18. ferreste, furthest. — moche and lyté, people of both high and low degree.
20. yaf, gave.
31. benefice, a church office endowed with funds or property for the maintenance of divine service. It was a common practice in Chaucer's day for ecclesiastics to let their benefices at a lower figure and then to pocket the difference.
32. leet, left.
34. chaunterie for soulés. A chantry is an endowment for the pay. ment of a priest to sing masses for the repose of the souls of the donors. Lazy priests in the country sometimes sub-let their benefices and ran off to London to look for an easy job of this sort.
35. Or to join an order of monks and live an easier life.
50. spyced consciencé, over-scrupulous conscience. The line does not mean that he was lacking in conscientious scruples about matters that were really important, but that he was a man of sound sense who did not strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.
51. Cristés lore, Christ's teaching.
OLD ENGLISH BALLADS
ROBIN HOOD'S DEATH AND BURIAL
Robin Hood is the ideal outlaw of English song and story. He appears as the champion of the poor despised English people against their Norman rulers. " Look ye do no farmer harm,” he tells his men,
nor any good yeoman that walks in the green wood, nor any knight or squire that will be a good comrade." But, he continues,
These bishops and these archbishops
Ye shall them beat and bind. Yet Robin was not, as might be thought from these lines, an irreligious man. On the contrary, he was a most pious robber, hearing three masses every day before dinner and worshiping the Virgin Mary with special devotion. For her sake he would never harm a woman, nor any company that a woman was in. There is a large cycle of ballads about Robin Hood and his men. The best of these, the Little Gest (short story), is too long to be included here; but the ballad of his death and burial gives a good idea of his character, especially of his generosity, and of his love, even in death, of the good greenwood.
LINE 1. Little John, Robin's most trusty follower, jokingly called Little John from his huge stature.
2. Down a down. This is the chorus which was sung by the entire company; the minstrel sang the ballad proper as a solo.
5. shot for many a pound. In order to keep in good practice, Robin Hood and his men used to have frequent shooting matches for prizes. In a fine old ballad called Robin Hood and the Monk, we hear how Little John won five shillings of Robin at shooting, and how in consequence a quarrel arose that almost dissolved their long friendship.
9. cousin. In most of the ballads this cousin is described as the prioress of a nunnery. She seems to have hated Robin because he had often plundered churchmen.
11. Kirkley, the nunnery where Robin's cousin lived.
THE BATTLE OF OTTERBOURNE
There are several versions of this ballad. The one here chosen is that given by Scott in the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border. It gives the Scottish version of one of the most famous raids that occurred during the long Border warfare between the Scotch and the English. In 1388 James, Earl of Douglas, invaded England at the head of three thousand men. He penetrated as far as Newcastle, where Hotspur, the most famous chieftain of the great house of Percy, lay in garrison. In a skirmish before the walls, Douglas met Hotspur hand to hand and wrested from him his lance and pennon. These he vowed to carry to Scotland and plant upon the walls of his castle. “That,” said Percy, “shalt thou never!” Accordingly Hotspur collected an army equal or superior in numbers to that of Douglas, and fell by night upon the Scotch camp at Otterbourne. The fight which followed was marked even in that age of battles by the fury with which it was contested. Douglas charged almost alone into the midst of his foes and fell pierced by three mortal wounds. When his followers reached him he was dying, but he charged them to conceal his death, to defend his standard, and to avenge his fall. “It is an old prophecy,” he said, “ that a dead man shall win a battle, and I hope it will be accomplished this night.” After a desperate struggle the Scotch won the fight, taking Hotspur and his brother prisoners, and driving the English from the dearly bought field. An English ballad represents the English as victors, but the Scottish version here given is truer to history.
LINE 1. Lammas tide. Lammas, loaf mass, an old harvest festival once held on the first, now on the twelfth, of August.
3. doughty, the regular epithet for a Douglas in the old Scotch ballads. It means brave, hardy. — bound him, made himself ready.
5. the Gordons and the Graemes, two famous clans of the Scottish Border.
6. the Lindesays, a famous family in Scotland.
7. the Jardines, a clan of the West Border, at feud with the house of Douglas.
2. Tyne, a river in the northeast of England.
II. Reidswire fells, a district in Northumberland near the Scottish Border.
13. Newcastle, the chief town of Northumberland. 24. The tane, one or the other.
33–36. These words are spoken by Douglas, who insinuates that Percy was rescued by the latter's men.
35. fell, hide, skin.
72. dight usually means to dress, to adorn; here, perhaps, to meet to encounter.
74. Skye, an island north west of Scotland. 82. fain, glad
83. swakked, struck, the same word as 'swapped' in l. 119. — till sair they swat, till sorely they sweated.
94. recks, matters. 98. the three, the three divisions of the Scottish army. 99. braken, fern. 118. Each was glad to meet the other. 125. loun, common man.
This ballad is founded upon a famous exploit of Sir Walter Scott of Branksome Castle, the Lord of Buccleuch. A dependent of Scott's, Willie Armstrong, commonly called Kinmont Willie, had been seized by an English deputy, Sakelde, on Scottish ground in time of peace. Finding that his complaints were ineffectual to obtain Willie's release, Buccleuch made a sudden raid across the Border, seized Carlisle Castle, where his retainer was confined, and carried him in triumph back to Scotland. Queen Elizabeth was very angry at this raid and demanded the exemplary punishment of Buccleuch, who, however, suffered only a brief imprisonment. According to an old family tradition, Buccleuch was later presented to Queen Elizabeth, who asked him how he had dared to undertake an enterprise so desperate and presumptuous. " What is it," answered Buccleuch boldly, "that a man dare not do?"
LINE 1. fause, false.
2. lord Scroope, the English warden, or keeper, of the Border, who imprisoned Willie after Sakelde had seized him.
4. Haribee, the place of execution at Carlisle, the chief city in northwest England.
12. Liddel-rack, a ford on the Liddel, a little stream flowing southwest from Scotland into England.
17--20. Kinmont Willie speaks to Lord Scroope.
29. bauld keeper, bold keeper. Buccleuch was the warden of the Scottish Border.
30. Branksome Ha', Branksome Hall, Buccleuch's castle.