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Troy Book: Envoy


Lydgate shifts from couplets into the English stanza, sometimes referred to as rhyme royal, used by Chaucer in Troilus and Criseyde.

1 sours. MS: flour.

4 the worthi nyne. The Nine Worthy are chivalric heroes representing gentiles (Hector, Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great), Jews (Joshua, David, Judas Maccabeus), and Christians (Arthur, Charlemagne, Godfrey of Bouillon).

12 rekned. This is the verb governing the sentence that extends over the first four stanzas of the Envoy. Bergen emends to y-rekned.

14 the hous of fame. From other echoes in Fall of Princes (8.2735-36 and 9.3468), it appears that Lydgate's reference is to the roster of historical writers and poets in Chaucer's The House of Fame.

18 evermore. MS: overmore. MS reading makes syntactic sense, but evermore accords better with in memorie.

21 The following stanza is not separated by a space in the MS.

36-49 Lydgate's list combines biblical and classical kings who are mentioned for their qualities of character. Joshua is the follower and successor of Moses, and he enjoys divine favor as a military leader (Isidore of Seville, De ortu et obitu patrum, ch. 26). Solomon is known for his wisdom and justice (Isidore, De ortu, ch. 34). David is a figure of patience and humility (Isidore, De ortu, ch. 33 and Augustine, De civitate Dei 17.20). Caesar symbolizes both ambition and greatness of spirit (Augustine, De civitate Dei 5.12 and Vincent of Beauvais, De morali principis institutione, ch. 16).

37 conveied. The verb "to be" is understood.

43 meynt. Probably to be construed with the verb "to be": "Your mercy is mingled with your magnificence."

magnificence. As Aristotle explains in the Nicomachean Ethics (4.2), magnificence is a moral virtue akin to generosity but differing from generosity by being on a larger scale and directed toward public display.

52 scepter. MS: swerde.

63 sympilnesse. Bergen emends to symplesse.

64 eke. Accepting Bergen's addition.

67 received. MS: recerved.

68 twey mynutes. Mark 12:41-44 and Luke 21:1-4 record Jesus's example of the widow who contributes all she has to the temple's treasury.

73 gift. MS: gilt.

77 al. Accepting Bergen's addition.

92 Go, litel bok. See Troilus and Criseyde 5.1786-92, the stanza that marks the beginning of Chaucer's Envoy.

99 The following stanza is not separated by a space in the MS.

100-01 See earlier echoes of Chaucer's Franklin at 2.192-97 and 3.551-56.
Most worthi prince, of knyghthod sours and welle,
Whos highe renoun thorugh the world doth shine,
And alle other in manhood dost excelle,
Of merit egal to the worthi nyne,
And born also by discent of lyne
As rightful eyr by title to atteyne,
To bere a crowne of worthi rewmys tweyne,
And also fer as Phebus in his spere
From est to west shedeth his bemys bright
And Lucyna, with a shrowdid chere,
Goth compas rounde with hir pale light,
Thou art rekned for the beste knyght,
To be registred worthi as of name
In the highest place of the hous of fame,
To holde a palme of knyghthod in thin hond
For worthines and for highe victorie,
As thou that art drad on se and lond,
And evermore with laude, honour, and glorie,
For just conquest to be put in memorie,
With a crowne made of laurer grene
Upon thin hed, tofore that famus quene -
Whilom ordeyned only for conquerours,
Stable of herte, with longe perseveraunce,
And gaf nat up til thei wer victours,
Emprises take for no sodeyn chaunce,
Whos name ay floureth with newe remembraunce
And fadeth nat of yeris yore agoon,
Amonge whiche thou maist be set for oon.
For thorugh the world in every regioun
Reportid is with fame that fleth wyde
That naturelly thi condicioun
On thing begonne is knyghtly to abide
And for the tyme manly sette aside
Reste and ese, what cost theron be spent,
Til thou have cheved the fyn of thin entent.
Most circumspect and passinge avysee,
Al thi werkes conveied with prudence,
Saad and demure, like to Josue
Ageyn whos swerd is no resistence,
And hast also hevenly influence,
With Salomon wysly to discerne,
Only be grace thi peple to governe;
Mercy eke meynt with thi magnificence,
On alle oppressed for to have pité,
And of rebelles be manly violence
Abate canst the grete cruelté;
And so with David thou hast kyngly pité
And highe prowes with Sesar Julius,
In his tyme most victorius.
And manly holdest in thin hondes two,
Who can beholde by clere inspeccioun,
The swerd of knyghthod and the scepter also:
The ton to bring to subjeccioun
Hertes made proude by fals rebellioun,
And with the scepter to rewle at the beste
Thi pore liges, that wolde live at reste.
Now, thou that haste manhod, vertu, and grace,
Attemperaunce, fredam, and bounté,
Lowly I praie, with a dredful face,
Disdeyne nat benyngely to se
Upon this boke rudely made by me,
To fyn only to agreen thin highnesse,
And rewe of merci upon my sympilnesse,
And eke in thi knyghtly advertence
Considre and se, my sovereyn lord most dere,
Of thi innat famous sapience
That Crist Jesus received with good chere
The twey mynutes yove of herte entere
By the wydowe, whiche of wille and thought
Gaf al hir good and kepte hirsilf right nought.
By whiche ensample, so that it nat offende
Thorugh myn unkonnynge to thin highe noblesse,
Late good wil my litel gift amende,
And of thi mercy and renomed goodnesse
Have no disdeyn of my bareyn rudnesse,
And, in makyng though I have no Muse,
Late trewe menyng the surplus al excuse.
More than good hert hath no maner wyght
To presente nouther to God nor man,
And for my part to the, as it is right,
That gyf I hool as ferforthe as I can,
Ay to persevere fro tyme that I gan,
With wil and thought for thin estate to preie,
Whiche to conserve thus finally I seie:
First of al, Almyghti God to queme
With al that may be to His plesaunce,
And to thi crowne and thi diademe
Grace and good eure with long continuaunce,
Of thi liges feithful obeisaunce,
And eche vertu that man may specefie,
I praye God graunte unto thi regalye!
Go, litel bok, and put the in the grace
Of hym that is most of excellence;
And be nat hardy to apperen in no place
Withoute support of his magnificence;
And whosoevere in the fynde offence,
Be nat to bold for no presumpcioun:
Thisilfe enarme ay in pacience
And the submitte to her correccioun.
And for thou art enlumined with no floures
Of rethorik but with white and blak,
Therfore thou most abide alle showres
Of hem that list sette on the a lak;
And whan thou art most likly go to wrak,
Ageynes hem thin errour nat diffende
But humblely withdrawe and go abak,
Requerynge hem al that is mys to amende.
fountainhead; (see note)
Nine Worthy; (see note)
lineal descent
considered; (see note)
(see note)
praise; (see note)
before; (see note)
Long ago
long past
you may be reckoned
travels swiftly
realized; purpose
well contained; (see note)
governed; (see note)
Serious; sober; Joshua
you have
also mixed; greatness of nature; (see note)
Put down
(see note)
terrified expression
kindly; look
For the purpose; please
have pity; (see note)
also; reflection; (see note)
(see note)
two mites given freely; (see note)
Gave; possessions
make amends for; (see note)
bare [of art and interest]
poetic composition
sincerity what remains; (see note)
give; completely to the extent
yourself; (see note)
arm always
yourself; (see note)
adorned; (see note)
wish; find fault with you
come to ruin
Asking them; amiss