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A Fifteenth-Century Copyist at Work Under Authorial Scrutiny: An Incident from John Capgrave's Scriptorium by Peter J. Lucas
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A Fifteenth-Century Copyist at Work Under Authorial Scrutiny: An Incident from John Capgrave's Scriptorium
Peter J. Lucas [*]

as doth a skryuener
That can no more what that he shal write
But as his maister beside both endyte.

(John Lydgate, Poems, ed. J. Norton-Smith [1966], p. 52)


Unless he was prepared to make his own fair copies a medieval author was dependent on scribes for the dissemination of his work. A few authors have recorded their irritation at the shortcomings of this manner of 'publication', none more strongly than Chaucer in his Wordes unto Adam, His Owne Scriveyn,

Under thy long lokkes thou most have the scalle
But after my makyng thou wryte more trewe,
So ofte a-daye I mot thy werk renewe,
It to correcte and eek to rubbe and scrape,
And al is thorugh thy negligence and rape.[1]
Chaucer describes for us in general terms what the situation was: scribes were inaccurate through carelessness and hastiness and their work required


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constant revision and correction by the author.[2] In the case of John Capgrave we have what may well be a unique opportunity to examine just such a situation through concrete manuscript evidence, by collating a rejected copy (by an anonymous scribe) of part of Capgrave's The Solace of Pilgrimes with the author's own copy. Two aspects are of major importance. From the point of view of textual criticism in general it will be instructive to observe the extent and the nature of the errors which made a piece of copying unacceptable to an author. From the point of view of Middle English textual transmission it will be of interest to observe the linguistic changes made by a scribe working in an author's scriptorium.

I have shown elsewhere what was involved for at least one medieval English author, Capgrave, in producing manuscripts fit for presentation.

After he had first composed a work, the author then added fresh material arising from further thought or reading. Thus it could take some time to compile a finished work. The resulting 'original' manuscript was too untidy for presentation. A fair copy therefore had to be made. Sometimes considerable haste had to be employed in completing a presentation copy for a particular purpose. Either the author or another scribe (probably supervised by the author) could make this copy. Whether the copy was made by another scribe or not may have depended on the availability of a scribe whom the author considered at least as proficient as himself. [If the author was to make the fair copy he decided upon a script appropriate to the manuscript's destination.] If another scribe was to make the fair copy, the author went through his 'original' manuscript occasionally writing instructions so that the scribe could avoid any obvious blunders. Sometimes the author himself copied a difficult piece such as a diagram, even when the main body of the text was copied by a proficient scribe. The new manuscript was then carefully and extensively revised by the author. When the 'patron' was known, the author marked out certain passages for special attention, and occasionally added his personal mark at the end of the text. Lastly the manuscript was bound before being sent to its destination. [All this could take place in the author's scriptorium.][3]

Part of the evidence for these conclusions comes from three manuscripts which contain, in the case of [3], all that survives of, and in the cases of [7] and [8], fragments of Capgrave's 'The Solace of Pilgrimes'. These manuscripts are:[4]


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[3] Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Bodley 423, fols. 355-414 (SC 2322e);[5]
[7] Oxford, All Souls College, MS XVII,[6] fols. i-ii and pp. 221-24;[7]
[8] Oxford, Balliol College, MS 190,[8] fols. 116-19.
Manuscript [3] is the holograph manuscript of Capgrave's 'The Solace of Pilgrimes', a description of Rome (c.1451),[9] written in the author's hand but not signed by him (the end is missing), and contains corrections by the author.[10] Manuscripts [7] and [8] are also from the author's scriptorium. Both contain Capgrave's Latin work 'De Fidei Symbolis' (c.1462) written by different scribes but corrected by the author; in addition the front endleaves of [8] contain a portion of the same text in the author's handwriting. The endleaves at both the front and the back of [7], fols. i-ii and pp. 221-224 (fol. ii and pp. 221-222 are ruled but contain no text), together with those at the back of [8], fols. 116-119 (fols. 116-117 are ruled but contain no text), form a consecutive portion of a copy in a fairly good current hand, not the author's, of Capgrave's 'The Solace of Pilgrimes'.[11] The text in these fragments is evidently unfinished since there is no rubrication (except for chapter-headings, which were evidently written in red ink as the scribe went along) and illuminated or flourished capitals have not been provided in the spaces left for them. The portion of text corresponds to the text in [3], the author's copy, as follows:


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[7], pp. 223-224 = [3], fol. 364r (line 27) to fol. 364v (line 33);
[7], fol. i = [3], fol. 364v (line 33) to fol. 365r (line 35);
[8], fols. 118r-119v = [3], fol. 365r (line 35) to fol. 366v (line 2).
Since fol. 364 is the tenth leaf of [3] and since one leaf of [3] contains almost exactly 1.7 times the quantity of text on a leaf of the other copy I deduce that we have what would have been fols. 17-24, i.e. all four sheets of the third quire, of another copy of 'The Solace of Pilgrimes', but that this copy was abandoned at what would have been fol. 20v (the centre of the quire) and put aside as waste (see Fig. 1). For convenience I shall refer to the version of the text in [3] as A, the author's, and the version in [7] and [8] as S, the scribe's.


From the circumstances of survival, as endleaves in manuscripts produced in the author's scriptorium, it is evident that the copying of the S-version must have been discontinued and set aside on the author's instructions. Since there are no corrections or alterations to S as it has survived we must assume that Capgrave made his decision to terminate it on the basis of checking the now lost quires 1 and 2. Nevertheless it is probable that the reprehensible features of those quires are continued in the surviving third quire.

The precise relationship between the two versions, A and S, has never been examined. Hingeston, who did not know of the existence of manuscript [3], the A-version, thought that the S-fragments were in the author's handwriting (Chronicle, p. 356), a view now universally discounted. Because of what Hingeston called 'the . . . carelessness of the spelling' and 'the incompleteness of many of the sentences' he thought the fragments 'were only first and rough copies', i.e. a rough draft. This view was contradicted by Bannister, who formed the impression that the S-fragments 'formed part of a late copy which must have been made from dictation' (in Solace, ed. Mills, p. xiv). In order to find out whether these earlier views are true I have made a complete collation of the S-fragments with the corresponding text of A. The new evidence thus revealed shows that both the earlier views are erroneous.

On a priori grounds it is probable that the S-scribe, working in Capgrave's scriptorium, was copying from an authorially approved exemplar, probably one in the author's handwriting; that exemplar could


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have been A but need not necessarily have been so since A is itself a fair copy and its existence presupposes an authorial original. As we might expect the relationship of S to A is close. This closeness is suggested firstly by the following sentence.[12]              
The kyng suppo|sed as it was þat  The kinge supposed as | it was þat 
þe cite had sent him for to gete  þe cyte had sent hym forto gete 
grace of þe | kyng and anon as he  grace of | þe kinge and a none as he 
say him with a grete ire and a  say hym with a grete | ire and a 
grete oth | he seide þese wordis  grete oþe he seide þese wordis 
(365v/27-30; Mills 31/7-9)[13]   (118v/16-19)[13]  
The only differences are in the spellings kyng/kinge, him/hym, cite/cyte, anon/anone, oth/oþe, differences which reflect merely the interchangeability of i/y, th/þ, and a preference in S for spellings with final e. Secondly, the close relationship of S to A is suggested, even more strongly, by the fact that spelling-features that are unusual in A reappear in S, where they are also unusual: for example, A's neuly (with u instead of usual w) at 366r/1 (31/22) reappears in S (119r/6), A's f (instead of usual ph) in profecie (365v/38; 31/16) reappears in S's profe|cie (118v/29-30), and A's y (instead of usual e) in by for' (365v/39; 31/17) reappears in S's by fore (118v/31).

In fact, the relationship of S to A is as close as it could be: S is copied directly from A. There are three kinds of evidence which lead to this conclusion.

(1) A and S share some common errors. The c in A's vescal 'Vestal' (364v/27; 28/7) reappears in S's vescall' (224/23). The first four letters of A's guynosopistis 'Gymnosophists' (365v/3; 30/17) reappear in S's guynesopistes (118r/15); for other Middle English spellings of this word see MED Genosophis. Wrong word order (not before myth) in A's þat þing whech he had not him\self/ne not myth haue (365v/10; 30/23-24)


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occurs also in S's þat þinge | whiche he had not hym selue not myght haue (118r/24-25). (This wrong word order was perhaps responsible for S's omission of ne.) And the omission of the word him (after vndirtok) in A's Tho þei vndirtok of his pri|de [14] (365v/11; 30/24-25) occurs in S's Tho thay vnd|yrtoke of his pride (118r/26-27) as well. This evidence could mean that A and S derive from a common exemplar or that S is copied from A. For reasons already explained A can hardly be a copy of S.

(2) At least one error in S is most plausibly explained as having been induced by the line-division in A: S has all' þe places (ir/4) for A's Alle þe|se places (364v/35-36; 28/15). If this explanation is correct S must be a copy of A.

(3) One correction in A is wrongly incorporated in S in such a way that the conclusion that S was copied from A is inescapable. At 365r/31 (30/4) A has þe pryuy ∧ of the world | ∧ þingis, where þingis occurs in the right-hand margin after the end of the line and the carets, in red ink, indicate that the word is to be inserted in the line after pryuy (see Plate I). S has þe pryuy of þe worlde þi|inges (iv/26-27): see Plate IIa. Evidently S must have been copied from A, and, when it was, the word þingis was regarded as belonging at the end of the line after which it occurs in the right-hand margin. Possibly S was copied from A before A was rubricated (hence the failure to take account of these carets in red ink—they were not yet there) but this possibility seems unlikely as a caret in brown ink at 365v/11 was also ignored (see (1) above and n. 14).

There are three possible reasons why Capgrave rejected the work of the S-scribe, (a) textual, because there were too many copying mistakes, (b) linguistic, because there were too many scribal alterations of spellings and forms, and (c) palaeographical, because its presentation was unsatisfactory. These reasons are arranged in probable descending order of importance: if (a) applies, (b) and (c) probably do not, except possibly as corroborating factors. To take them in ascending order of importance: (c) could hardly apply since the handwriting of S, though no example of calligraphy, is legible and reasonably tidy—the scribe's greatest fault (not a very serious one) seems to have been an inability to keep to his ruled lines, folios 118v and 119r having 32 lines to a page instead of the usual 31, and folio 119v having 34;[15] (b) could apply—these nonerroneous


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scribal alterations are discussed in the third part of this article—but probably does not, as (a) certainly applies.

Since A is a corrected authorial copy and S was copied directly from it and then rejected, all in the author's scriptorium, the information yielded by collating the two versions may be of use to those concerned with textual transmission in general. It should provide some guidance as to the kind of errors that were most likely to occur when a work was copied for the first time (primary errors), and their relative frequencies, as well as exemplifying a degree of inaccuracy which was beyond an author's tolerance. It should also provide insight into the nature and extent of those alterations that are purely scribal. Part II of this article is concerned with the scribe's textual errors, part III with his linguistic changes.


When copying from A the scribe of S made at least 85 errors in a passage which has 2398 (institutional) words in the corresponding Aversion.[16] That means that on average S has one error for every 28.2 words of A. By comparison, in A, there are 14 errors (12 of them corrected by Capgrave),[17] that is one error for every 171 words. So if all errors are considered (arbitrarily) as carrying equal weight S is 6.1 times as inaccurate as A. Evidently, purely on grounds of the frequency with which errors occur, Capgrave had much to be discontented with in S. As will be seen some of the errors had a considerable adverse effect on the sense of the text, often making nonsense of what Capgrave wrote.

For convenience I have grouped the errors in S under three main categories, with further subdivisions. These categories, Errors resulting from Miscopying (i.e. writing something other than what was in the exemplar), Errors of Addition, and Errors of Omission, have a purely descriptive basis, and the arrangement of the material here under these categories is not intended to give rise to a mechanistic approach. Errors may have the same cause whatever descriptive category they fall into. The commonest cause of the errors in S seems to be assimilation, either to what goes before (retentive assimilation), e.g. in clennesse in chastite for in clennesse of chastite (1.1.17 below), or to what comes after (anticipatory


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assimilation), e.g. Of grete hors of brasse for A grete hors of brasse (1.1.25 below). Some other errors may have been induced by the line-divisions in A. Ultimately many errors seem to be due to the intervention of the scribe's mind, which worked haphazardly and often stupidly.

1. Errors resulting from Miscopying

1.1 Alterations in Wording

On 27 occasions another word occurs in S for that used in A. Of these instances some 9 are probably due to retentive (1.1.17-22) or anticipatory assimilation (1.1.23-25) and 2 (1.1.26-27) may have been induced by the line-divisions in A.

1.1.1  mad  (364r/34; 27/6)  and  (223/9) 
1.1.2  was  (364v/8; 27/20)  shuld'  (223/31) 
1.1.3  ysider 'Isidore'  (365r/9; 29/2)  vsed  (ir/26) 
1.1.4  ston  (365r/23; 29/14)  stonde[18]   (iv/16) 
1.1.5-6  þis  (365r/41; 30/13 (1st), and 366r/11; 32/1)  his  (118r/8 and 119r/21) 
1.1.7  schul  (365v/11; 30/24)  shall'  (118r/26) 
1.1.8  clad  (365v/17; 30/29)  gl|ad  (118v/2-3) 
1.1.9  an  (365v/26; 31/6)  | and  (118v/15) 
1.1.10  þou  (365v/31; 31/10)  yow[19]   (118v/20) 
1.1.11  an 'and'  (365v/38; 31/17)  | on  (118v/31) 
1.1.12  sitter  (366r/3; 31/24)  after [20]   (119r/9) 
1.1.13  þis kyng  (366r/18; 32/6)  þese | kinges   (119r/29-30) 
1.1.14  mene 'means'  (366r/19; 32/7)  meyne 'army'  (119r/31) 
1.1.15  cam  (366r/38; 32/24)  come  (119v/25) 
1.1.16  sum   (366r/43; 32/28)  þine  (119v/32) 
1.1.17  of  (364v/27; 28/7)  in  (224/24) 
1.1.18  se  (365v/5; 30/19)  of  (118r/17) 
1.1.19  neuyr  (365v/6; 30/20)  euer  (118r/19) 
1.1.20  sche  (365v/42; 31/20)  þe  (119r/4) 
1.1.21  ʒe  (366r/26; 32/14)  he  (119v/9) 
1.1.22  on  (366r/37; 32/24)  in  (119v/24) 
1.1.23  to  (365r/25; 29/16 (2nd))  and  (iv/18) 
1.1.24  men  (365v/21; 31/2)  more  (118v/8) 
1.1.25  (366r/7; 31/28)  Of  (119r/16) 
1.1.26  conse|crate  (364v/25-6; 28/6)  contrite  (224/22) 
1.1.27  sekir | merkis  (365v/16-17; 30/29)  sekernes  (118v/2) 
Half of these instances make nonsense of the text and at least seven others substantially alter the sense of what Capgrave wrote.


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1.2 Changes within Words

In 9 instances letters within words have been altered. One of these is probably due to anticipatory assimilation (1.2.8), and one (1.2.9) was probably induced by the line-division in A.

1.2.1  rose 'Rose'  (364v/29; 28/9)  rese  (224/26) 
1.2.2  exameron 'Exameron'  (365r/11; 29/3)  epaneron'  (ir/28) 
1.2.3  guynosopistis 'Gymnosophists'  (365v/3; 30/17)  guynesopistes   (118r/15) 
1.2.4  fame  (365v/4; 30/18)  same  (118r/17) 
1.2.5  manslauth  (365v/12; 30/25)  mon [in monslaught][21]   (118r/27) 
1.2.6  naked  (365v/21; 31/2)  nakod  (118v/8) 
1.2.7  philisophr'  (365v/26; 31/6)  philiphoser'  (118v/15) 
1.2.8  senate  (366r/27; 32/15)  senade |  (119v/10) 
1.2.9  a|naximenes 'Anaximenes'  (365v/26-27; 31/7)  a maximenes  (118v/15) 

At least three of these instances make nonsense of the text.

There are also 2 instances where contractions in A have been expanded in S incorrectly.

1.2.10  prophecied  (364v/14; 27/26)  prephicied  (224/7) 
1.2.11  a mongis   (366r/25; 32/13)  a mon|ge  (119v/8-9) 

1.3 Wrong Word Order

Just as letters could occasionally be transposed, as in philiphoser' (1.2.7), so too could words. All three instances were probably the result of anticipation combined with attempted correction.

1.3.1  in þe heith a boue was a temple (364v/25; 28/5-6)  in þe heyth was a boue a | temple (224/21-22) 
1.3.2  and whi he was sette þere (366r/7; 31/27)  and why was | he sette þere (119r/15-16) 
1.3.3  þis schal be mad of brasse (366r/31; 32/18)  þis made shall' be of bras (119v/16) 

In the first instance the sense is altered.

2. Errors of Addition

Since S is held to be a copy of A there ought not to be many examples that fall in this category and those that there are have been carefully checked to make sure they do not constitute contradictory evidence. That the S-scribe was prepared to supplement what was in his exemplar is shown by the following three instances. All of them, however, are easily explained as copying errors.

2.1 Addition of Words

2.1.1  on to bettir vse  (364r/30; 27/3)  onto þe better vse  (223/5) 


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Here one idiom has simply been substituted for another.

2.1.2 The Latin word capitulum is added to a chapter heading before the number xii (A 365r/19 (29/10); S iv/8). What is implied in A is supplied in S.

2.1.3  At mydnyth loke e be redy alle in dikys and. . .  (366r/33; 32/20)  at mydnyght | loke ye þer be redy all' in dykis and . . .  (119v/18-19) 

Here the construction has been changed so that some subject other than A's e is required in S but none is forthcoming, so the sense is seriously impaired by the alteration.

There is one instance of straightforward dittography over a line division in S, possibly induced by the line division in A.

2.1.4  lich as I wil ride | Alle þis (366r/30-31; 32/18)  liche as I will' ride all' | all' þis (119v/15-16) 

Here may also be included a similar instance where only the first letter of a word is repeated over the line division in S.

2.1.5  þerfor owt  (364v/41; 28/20)  þerfore o | oute  (ir/11-12) 

In three instances words have been added through retentive assimilation.

2.1.6  Too grete hor|ses þere be and too naked men standyng be hem  (365r/20-21; 29/12-13)  To gre|te horsis þer be and to naked men | and standing' be hem  (iv/11-13) 
2.1.7  Tho hith he hem grete ricchesse and had hem in ful grete reue|rens  (365r/37-38; 30/9-10)  Tho hight he | hem grete richesse and had hem in full' grete riche|sse and reuerence  (118r/2-4) 
2.1.8  distroye a cite man & woman wal and | hous  (365v/24-25; 31/4-5)  di|stroy a cyte a man and woman wall' and hous  (118v/11-12) 

In all of these instances the sense is affected adversely.

There is one clear instance of a word being added through anticipatory assimilation.

2.1.9  hath bore a | child  (364v/22-23; 28/3)  ha | the a bore a child'  (224/17-18) 

In another instance only the first letter of a word is anticipated.

2.1.10  mor' bounde to do  (365r/11; 29/4)  more bounde d to do  (ir/29) 

Both of these last two errors are easily spotted and the sense thus recovered.

2.2 Addition to Words

Dittography of groups of letters occurs in two instances, the second possibly induced by the line division in A.

2.2.1  euene a noon  (364r/39; 27/10)  euenen anonone  (223/15) 
2.2.2  go|uernaun (365v/20-21; 31/1)  goueruernauns  (118v/7) 


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Dittography of a single letter occurs in a further instance over a line division in S.

2.2.3  philisophr'  (365v/31; 31/11)  philosop | phir'  (118v/21-22) 

Dittography of letter-strokes (minims) also occurs.

2.2.4  coupled  (364v/17; 27/28)  compled  (224/11) 
2.2.5  sumtyme  (366r/8; 31/28)  sumityme  (119r/17) 

With the possible exception of 2.2.4, which as it stands makes nonsense of the text, all these errors are easily spotted and the sense thus restored.

There is one instance of a word being added through retentive assimilation.

2.2.6  In þe tyme | of tiberius þe emperour'  (365r/24-25; 29/15)  In þe tyme of tyberus oþe emperoure  (iv/17-18) 

Here there may be an element of syntactic confusion, the scribe perhaps thinking of a reading such as * þe tyme of þe emperoure tyberus*. As it stands the text is clearly rendered nonsensical in S but again the error is easily corrected.

3. Errors of Omission

3.1 Omission of Words

In 7 instances words are omitted in S apparently through sheer carelessness.

3.1.1  was a | temple  (364v/33-34; 28/13)  was temple  (ir/1) 
3.1.2  had not a gander'  (365r/6; 28/27)  had not gandir  (ir/22) 
3.1.3  þe . . . puple . . . ded make  (365r/14-15; 29/7)  þe . . . peple . . . make  (iv/2-3) 
3.1.4  as to a god  (365r/16; 29/8)  as to god  (iv/4) 
3.1.5  euyr is þe maistiris wit a boue his disciple  (365v/34; 31/13)  euer is þe meystiris aboue his disciple  (118v/25) 
3.1.6  Thus was þe cite saued and þe kyngis ire softed  (365v/35; 31/14)  ths | was þe cyte and þe kinges ire softed  (118v/25-26) 
3.1.7  in þe eld cronicles  (366r/1; 31/21-22)  in þe cro|nicles  (119r/5-6) 

In 3.1.3, 3.1.5 and 3.1.6 the construction gives a clue to the omission but not in 3.1.7. While the omission of the indefinite article in 3.1.1 and 3.1.2 affects the grammar rather than the sense its omission in 3.1.4 alters the sense radically.

There is one instance of the second of two words ending in the same letter being omitted.

3.1.8  supposed not þat he had be of rome  (366r/43; 32/28)  supposed not he had be of rome[22]   (119v/31) 

There are 4 instances where the scribe has omitted a word through anticipation, his eye presumably moving on to the second of two words beginning with the same letter(s).


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3.1.9  ferd nevir weel ne neuyr stood (364v/38; 28/17)  ferde neuyr wele neuer stode (ir/7) 
3.1.10  þei knewe summe straunge þingis (365r/28; 30/1-2)  þay knewe straunge þinges (iv/22) 
3.1.11  þat þing whech he had not him\self/ne not myth haue (365v/10; 30/23-24)  þat þinge | whiche he had not hym selue not myght haue (118r/24-25) 
3.1.12  swieres þat wer' keperis for þe body folowed fro ferr' (366r/41; 32/26-27)  swyers þat were kepers for þe body fro ferre (119v/29) 

In a further instance of anticipation the scribe of S has omitted a word through moving on from an s at the end of a word to another s at the beginning of the next word but one.

3.1.13  as I suppose  (364v/20; 28/1)  a suppose  (224/15) 

Except for 3.1.10 all of these omissions through anticipation have a serious adverse effect on the sense.

3.2 Omission from Words

On 3 occasions letters have been omitted from the end of verb forms so as to render them morphologically inappropriate.

3.2.1  spekith  (364v/13; 27/24)  sp|eke  (224/4-5) 
3.2.2  seid p.t.   (364v/13; 27/25)  sey  (224/5) 
3.2.3  named pp.   (365v/33; 31/12)  name  (118v/23) 

On a fourth occasion the inflectional ending is omitted over a page division in S.

3.2.4  be tokneth  (365v/40; 31/18)  be tok ∥  (118v/32) 

The word these is deprived of its last two letters 3 times; on one of these occasions (3.2.7) the error was probably induced by the line division in A (see Part I above, under (2)).

3.2.5  These  (364v/17; 27/18)  The  (224/10) 
3.2.6  þese  (365v/43; 31/21)  þe  (119r/4) 
3.2.7  þe|se  (364v/35-36; 28/15)  þe  (ir/4) 

There is only one instance of omission of a letter from the beginning of a word.

3.2.8  jor|nay  (366r/28-29; 32/16)  ornay  (119v/13) 

In 7 instances letters which occur medially are omitted in S apparently through sheer carelessness.

3.2.9  sanguinis  (364v/19; 27/30)  sanguins (or (?) -gunis)  (224/13) 
3.2.10  tiberius   (365r/25; 29/15)  tyberus  (iv/17) 
3.2.11  satisfie  (365r/40; 30/12)  satyfie  (118r/7) 
3.2.12  likynesse  (365v/14; 30/27)  likenes  (118r/30) 
3.2.13-14  laterane  (366r/2, 3; 31/23, 24)  laterne[23]   (119r/7, 8) 


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On one occasion omission occurs medially through anticipation.

3.2.15  knythod  (364r/43; 27/14)  knyghode  (223/20) 

Presumably the S-scribe intended to write knyghthode but when he came to the first h he continued as if it were the second one.

Except for 3.2.12, where the effect is to substitute another word, most of the errors in this section would probably have merely checked a reader before he recognized them for what they are.[24]

From the frequency of the errors and their seriousness (at least 35 (41%) of them have an adverse effect on the sense of the text) we are clearly dealing with a good example of scribal 'negligence and rape'. If this example is anything to go by medieval authors evidently had good reason to complain about their scribes. Certainly Capgrave had ample reason to be dissatisfied with S and to reject it. Even when allowance is made for the possibility that there was a mutual understanding between author and scribe that the former would correct the latter's work—as indeed in a sense he did, by rejecting it—if the scribe of S had not been working in Capgrave's scriptorium under the eagle eye of a meticulous author[25] the copyist's work might well have gained currency. Unless an author was supremely vigilant the distortions and corruptions could set in under his own roof.

The present instance of scribal inaccuracy may provide some pointers as to the nature of primary errors and their relative frequencies. Allowance should be made, however, for the possible idiosyncracies of the particular individual scribe. Perhaps the most notable feature of the errors is the high proportion due to retentive or anticipatory assimilation, some 16 (18.8%)—1.1.20-28, 1.2.8, 2.1.6-10, 2.2.6. By contrast there are only 5 errors (5.9%) due to anticipation, where the copyist's eye has moved forward inadvertently to the second of two words beginning with the same letter(s) (or to the second of two instances of the same letter).[26] A second notable cause of errors is line divisions: some 6 errors (7%) may be due to line divisions in the exemplar (1.1.26-27, 1.2.9, 2.1.4, 2.2.2, 3.2.7), and a further 3 errors (3.5%) occur over line divisions (or a page


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division) in the copy itself (2.1.5, 2.2.3 and (over a page division) 3.2.4). Taken together these two causes account for over one third (35.3%) of all errors. Thirdly, errors often occur in proper names; there are 7 different instances, one of them occurring twice, making 8 altogether (9.4%)—1.1.3, 1.2.1-3, 1.2.8, 3.2.10, 3.2.13-14. A partial cause of at least some of these errors is presumably ignorance on the part of the copyist. Ultimately several of them, and many others as well, must be the result of the intervention of the scribe's mind, albeit working haphazardly and often stupidly. It is hard to assess what proportion of the total number of errors are attributable to this cause but the figure could be quite high, perhaps 25-30%. Although 17 errors are classified under Errors of Addition, only one of these instances seems to be the result of a conscious attempt to alter the text so as to 'improve' it (2.1.3). This feature of the copyist's work suggests that while even a copyist working in an author's scriptorium scarcely had a modern scholar's respect for the authorial text, additions due to a conscious attempt to 'improve' the text probably constitute a very small proportion of primary errors.


Besides the S-scribe's alterations to the A-text which constitute errors there are a large number of non-erroneous alterations of the kind that are usually referred to as 'purely scribal'. Here we are dealing exclusively with forms resulting from the intervention of the scribe's mind, albeit in the main working mechanically and sometimes haphazardly. We still need to learn more about such linguistic alterations; what is known has had to be deduced from collating and studying different versions of texts that survive in a fairly large number of manuscripts. As A. Hudson says, in the only detailed study of this kind (concerned with non-textual variations) known to me, 'Ideally one needs for a check a manuscript copied from a known exemplar'.[27] The present material provides precisely such a check, one that is all the more ideal because of the circumstances in which the copy was made—from an authorial copy in the author's scriptorium. It is hard to imagine circumstances in which the external pressures on a scribe to conform to his exemplar might be greater.[28] However, by the third quire (from which the


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surviving part of S's work comes), since 'having got into his stride, a scribe ceases to copy the dialect of his exemplar, but translates the text into his own',[29] the S-scribe may have come to terms to some extent with these pressures, such as they were.

In Hudson's terminology the linguistic alterations made by copyists may be 'dialectal' or 'orthographic' ('Tradition and Innovation', p. 371). The basis of this dichotomy derives from the distinction made by the Latin grammarians (who got it from the Greeks) between two of the three attributes of a letter, its figura or written form and its potestas or phonic significance. (The third attribute of a letter is its nomen or name.) Attention was drawn to the importance of this distinction by D. Abercrombie, but there seems to be no basis for his claim that 'it is not easy to discover the relationship between figura and potestas'.[30] The clearest statement I have found is that by the sixth-century grammarian Audax:

Figura litterae quae est? Qua notatur. Potestas quae? Qua in ratione metrica valet, cum aut producta est aut correpta. Et . . . figuram oculis deprehendimus, potestatem mente cognoscimus.[31]
This statement is more or less the same as those by the earlier, fourth-century grammarians Victorinus and Diomedes,[32] except for the addition of the last sentence. In this sentence the distinction between the physical existence of the written form and the mental knowledge of its phonic value is a remarkable anticipation of Saussure's famous distinction between parole and langue.

The difference between 'dialectal' and 'orthographic' alterations is that whereas a 'dialectal' change involves the substitution in the copy of figura B with potestas B for the exemplar's figura A with potestas A, i.e. there is a change in phonic significance (which would give rise to a


Page 83
different pronunciation) as well as in spelling, an 'orthographic' change involves the substitution in the copy of figura B with potestas A for the exemplar's figura A with potestas A, i.e. the phonic significance remains the same despite the change of spelling. An example of the first process, "dialectal" change, would be whech > which where the figura 'e' with the potestas /ε/ is replaced by the figura 'i' with the potestas /I/. An example of the second process, 'orthographic' change, would be þe > the where the figurae 'þ' and 'th' both have the potestas /ð/. Exactly the same distinction is made by A. McIntosh, except that he would call instances of 'dialectal' change 'spoken-language features (S-features)' and instances of 'orthographic' change 'written-language features (W-features)'.[33] Terminology is a problem. Since many features illustrative of 'orthographic' change can show orderly regional distribution the use of the term 'dialectal' in opposition will inevitably lead to misunderstanding.[34] If 'spoken-language features' is used instead then the Saussurean distinction between a mental knowledge of a figura's phonic value and the articulated sound is blurred. The terms which offer the greatest potential for clarity are the Latin ones, figura and potestas, partly because there is no single English word that will serve as an adequate translation of the latter. I shall therefore refer to the first kind of alteration as FP-changes, ones where both the figura (or form) and the potestas (or phonic significance) are altered, and to the second kind of scribal alteration as F-changes, ones where the figura is altered while the potestas remains the same. With this distinction in mind I propose to examine the evidence.

Nothing is known about the S-scribe except that he worked in Capgrave's scriptorium at Lynn. It is probably a fair presumption that he came from somewhere not a hundred miles from Lynn. But it cannot be assumed automatically that his dialect was Lynn dialect. Indeed, in view of the dearth of external information, the best guide to the S-scribe's dialect may be the linguistic data. When analyzed alongside comparable unpublished data from other sources the dialect-features of


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S would appear to harmonize with those attributed to the northern part of Cambridgeshire (Isle of Ely) north-west and west of Wisbech,[35] an area about fifteen miles from Lynn. This provisional placement, which is compatible with the external information, is based both on the features retained and on those altered in the process of being transferred from A to S.

The argument for this dialect placement is as follows:

(1) The form erde 'earth', in co-occurrence with -th for the pr. 3 sg. indic., indicates the general area to be East Anglia.

(2) The absence of spellings with q- for the reflex of OE hw-, and of spellings such as xal 'shall', probably indicates an area west of the R. Ouse (but Lynn could hardly be excluded).

(3) Given that the forms of the pr. 3 sg. indic. end in -th, the dominant use of spellings with a in 'they' (þai, þay, etc.; see Appendix, §86), all of them alterations from the exemplar, restricts the area of likely provenance to a small sector of the overall domain of erde, and only the western half of this sector is consistent with (2).

Taken together the first two factors, with a little help from the third, indicate a small area of N. Ely and NW. Norfolk bounded by Wisbech and Downham Market in the south and Lynn in the east. Narrowing the area down still further is, however, more difficult.

(4) Within the small area of N. Ely and NW. Norfolk already delineated the form elde 'old' would indicate either N. Ely or Lynn. Unfortunately elde occurs only once in S, where it could be relict from A.

(5) Given (4), there are a number of regular changes made by the S-scribe which suggest N. Ely rather than Lynn: A but > S bot (Appendix, §5), A -th > S -ght (Appendix, §35), A sey > S say (4x, against retention of sey(e) 8x, Appendix, §73.1-2), A seyd/seide > S saide (5x, against retention of seide 7x, Appendix, §73.3-4), A sch- > S sh- (Appendix, §§75.1, 76), A worchip > S worschip (Appendix, §75.3), A strength > S strengh (Appendix, §79). If this analysis is correct one or two forms may be relict, notably S meche < A mech, which occurs once only.

The second part of this argument, (4)-(5), may well be right but seems to me to be rather less secure than the first part, (1)-(2) plus (3).

Since in the present state of our knowledge of Middle English dialectology it is not always possible to determine whether a change made by the S-scribe is of dialectal significance or not I have listed in the Appendix all the linguistic alterations made by the S-scribe when copying from


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A. This complete listing is of value only because S is a direct copy of A and because of the circumstances in which the copy was made. In what follows references are to the numbers of the sections in the Appendix.

The list in the Appendix includes over a thousand linguistic alterations made by the scribe of S when copying A, approximately one change to every 2.3 words. Not all of these changes are consistent—for example, S has cronycles for A's cronicles (§40.1.3) and cronicles for A's cronycles (§40.2.3)—and some are not sufficiently frequent to indicate a pattern. A few lead to the partial loss or partial blurring in S of distinctions that are maintained in A. For example, S occasionally has þus for A's þis (§87.3) and sometimes þis for A's þus (§88.2), so that A's distinction between the demonstrative adjective/pronoun and the adverb is effectively lost; similarly S occasionally has hem for A's him/hym (§38) and occasionally hym for A's hem (§85.2) so that A's distinction between the singular and plural of the oblique case of the third person pronoun is blurred; and by sometimes writing hir/hir' for A's her'/here 'their' (§84.2) the scribe of S blurs the distinction in A between hir 'her' and her 'their'. Most of the linguistic alterations, however, are consistent (or nearly so) or indicate predominant trends. It is notable that a scribe whose work was 'rejected' for its textual inadequacies did make a number of linguistic alterations with a fair degree of consistency. These changes fall into three groups:—

  • (1) Changes which are of obvious potential dialectal significance.[36]
  • Here belong FP-changes like A cherch > S chirche (§6), A first > S frist (§34), A puple > S peple (§63), A whech > S whiche (§93), and possibly A but > S bot (§5), and F-changes like A sch- > S sh- (§§75-76), and probably the elimination of spellings without gh in words like MnE might (§35), though this could be an FP-change.
  • (2) Changes which may or may not be of dialectal significance.
  • In this category come a number of alterations, such as writing ai/ay for A's ei/ey [38 examples in §§1.1.3, 1.1.5-6, 86.1-2, 86.3.1, against only 1 of the opposite (ey for ai, §1.1.1) and that in a word, MnE master, which is subject to other variation (§1.3.1)], the elimination of double-vowel spellings for ME /ε:/ and /e:/ (§11) and for ME /&c.nv;:/ and /o:/ (§55), writing -ed for A's -id/-yd (never vice versa, §§17, 19), writing -er for A's -ir/-yr [23 examples in §§26.1.1, 26.2.1, against only 1 of the opposite (-ir for -er', §27.2.2)], a preference for -es for A's -is/-ys [19 examples in §§30.2, 30.3.1, against 5 of the opposite (-is/-ys for -es, §30.1)], writing -ith or -yth for A's -eth (§32.1), writing -ing for A's -yng except after letters composed of minims (§§44-5), writing qu for A's qw (§67), a preference for more frequent use of þ, especially final -þe for A's -th (§81), and writing y- for A's ʒ- (§97). When considered together the alterations made to several individual words may also indicate a pattern,


    Page 86
    one of preference for eliminating the 'unusual': for example, the scribe of S eschews ch in MnE besiege (§9) and ew in MnE endure (§25), prefers to include g in MnE assign (§43) and i in MnE reign (§71), adds final d to A's form of MnE should that lacks it (§76.2.1, but cf. §76.2.2), omits w in MnE not (§54), writes preve, the commoner ME form, rather than prove (§66), and dwelt, the commoner p.t. form, rather than dweld (§18.2), and does not spell MnE with(-) with ʒ (§95.1). The elimination of th-spellings for MnE -ght and in MnE little (§80) may also conform to this pattern. Presumably sum was preferred for MnE some to distinguish it from summe 'sum' (§77.1), words not distinguished in A.[37] Most of the alterations in this section are F-changes.
  • (3) Changes which do not appear to be of dialectal significance.
  • Even if some of the alterations included here turned out to be of dialectal significance it would not affect the general point that there are scribal changes which justify separate treatment in such a section. The dominant theme of these changes is a preference for 'fuller' spellings. This theme is illustrated by four main features:—
  • (a) The expansion of abbreviations and contractions.
  • Examples are A & >S and (§2.1), A con- > S con- (§8), A -er > S -er (§26.3), A -er- > S -er- (§29.1), A -es > S -es/-is (§30.4), A -ing/-yng > S -ing'/-yng' (§44.1.2, 44.2.3, 45.2.2), A -m(-) > S -m(-) (§48.1), A -n(-) > S -n(-) (§50.1), A -nne > S -nne (§52.1.2), A -ous > S -ous (§60), A par- > S par- (§62), A pri- > S pri- (§64), A pro- > S pro- (§65), A special > S special (§78), A þt > S þat (§82.1), A -ui- > S -ui- (§92), altogether 112 examples. The predominant trend is confirmed by the S-scribe's treatment of Latin quotations and names: there are 18 instances of the expansion of contractions in Latin words, e.g., A Sanctus Nicholaus in Carcere > S Sanctus Nicholaus in Carcere. Against this trend are 45 examples of the opposite (an abbreviation or contraction being substituted for a full spelling in A, §§2.2.1, 26.1.2, 26.2.2, 27.3, 29.2, 30.5, 48.2, 50.2, 52.2.2, 69, 77.2.2, 82.2, 87.2, 88.1, 94, 95.1-2) but 23 of these occur at the end of a line and were presumably induced by limitations of space.
  • (b) The addition of final e.
  • There are 215 examples of this feature (§13 and cross-references) against a mere 9 of the opposite (omission of -e, §§15, 77.2.1, 99.2.1) 1 of which occurs at the end of a line and was presumably induced by limitations of space. This feature alone accounts for alterations to 9% of all words in the text.
  • (c) The substitution of -e for a final flourish.
  • There are 38 examples of this feature (§§47.2.1, 47.5, 68.3) against 14 of the opposite (writing a final flourish for -e, §§14, 47.6, 84.2.3) 2 of which occur at the end of a line and were presumably induced by limitations of space.
  • (d) The addition of a final flourish, ? for -e.
  • There are 73 examples of this feature (§§12, 27.1, 47.1.2, 47.4, 51, 58, 68.1.1, 95.2-3) against 19 of the opposite (omission of a final flourish, §§27.2, 68.1.2, 84.1.1, 84.2.1) 1 of which occurs at the end of a line and was presumably induced by limitations of space. Since the flourish could in some cases be an otiose stroke its inclusion here as a 'linguistic' alteration is perhaps questionable, but the feature does seem to be part of a general trend; to treat it as a


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    palaeographical (or, as McIntosh ('Scribal Profiles', p. 222) would call it, 'graphetic') feature (or sometimes as a paleographical feature) would be to separate evidence that belongs together.
  • The preference for 'fuller' spellings is also indicated by a few relatively minor features, A betokneth > S betokenyth (§16), A -ion > S -ioun (§46.1), A my > S myne (§49), A whan > S whanne (§52.1.1), 8 examples in all; also a glance at the spellings for MnE should (§76) confirms that although four different forms are employed in S the form substituted is always 'fuller' than that in A. Against these minor features may be set 10 examples of -s for A's -es/-is (§30.6) and 1 of within for A's withinne (§52.2.1); the relatively high incidence of the former (against the predominant trend) would suggest that the alteration of A's -es/-is to -s may have had dialectal significance. A notable feature of these instances that run counter to this predominant trend is the high proportion of instances (27 out of 87, or 31%) that were presumably induced by limitations of space. Some other features are also presumably the result of limited space being available, especially A emperouris > S emperoris (§59), and A þe > S þe (§83.3.1). In view of the preference for avoiding double-vowel spellings (§11) the isolated spelling þee (§83.3.2), though recorded once in W. Norfolk, may well be the result of a desire to fill the space between the end of the word þe and the end of the line. Even as apparently elementary a consideration as the space available at the end of a line can affect the spelling of a word.
  • All the alterations that belong in this section are F-changes.

Hudson concluded that 'the forms which are unaltered [should be accepted] as part of the scribe's written dialect', and that, as a general rule, 'a scribe will only copy the linguistic forms of his exemplar when they form part of his orthographic "vocabulary"' ('Tradition and Innovation', pp. 371-372), i.e. he will make FP-changes, ones where in his view the phonic significance of a form in his exemplar does not accord with his spoken dialect, and also, though not always regularly, F-changes, ones where the forms in his exemplar do not accord with what would have been his regular orthographic practice had he been writing without the 'distraction' of the exemplar; for it is implicit in her conclusions that a scribe was prepared to perpetuate in his copy forms from his exemplar which, though within his linguistic competence, he would not normally have used in linguistic performance. Analysis of the material presently under scrutiny confirms these conclusions. It also yields information which allows more precise statements, statements which may be described as cautionary, about the two kinds of linguistic alteration, though allowance must be made for the partial nature of the evidence. In this case FP-changes form a very small proportion of the total number of linguistic alterations; this finding would seem to be only partly accounted for by the fact that the dialect-area of S is not all that far removed from that of A. Of the remaining F-changes a large proportion (over half the total number of linguistic alterations) do not appear to be


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of dialectal significance. Recently A. McIntosh has asked 'How far does a scribe, seeking to eliminate alien S-features [i.e. make FP-changes] in a text he is copying, take the further step of eliminating alien W-features [i.e. making F-changes]?' ('Inventory', p. 605, n. 1). From the present evidence it would appear that, even when allowance is made for the dialectal proximity of S to A, the S-scribe's concern was more with F-changes than with FP-changes and that he could not have looked upon the making of F-changes as a 'further step'. Indeed he could hardly even have distinguished between FP-changes and F-changes. In other words, the scribe was more concerned with textual transmission than with dialectology. Obvious as this conclusion may seem it is vital that it is not overlooked.

List of Linguistic Alterations made by the S-scribe when copying from A

This list aims at completeness.[1] For the sake of brevity and simplicity the quotation of variants not relevant to the feature being illustrated is avoided (as far as possible) by printing the most common variant without qualification. No references are given and alterations in word-division (e.g. A a-boute > S aboute) are not noticed. For convenience the alterations are numbered consecutively, having been arranged in alphabetical order (ʒ counting as y, y as i, if appropriate) according to sound, ME spelling, or PresE equivalent. Variation in the spelling of vowels in unstressed syllables is dealt with under e. A number in round brackets after a form in S indicates the number of times that particular alteration is made. When no such number is given the alteration may be assumed to occur once only. Instances which occur at the end of a line or over a line-division are noted separately but when such instances form part of a total that total is given first, e.g. A þe> S þe (6, 4 at line end), where 6 is the total number of instances of which 4 occur at the end of a line. A semi-colon is used to separate sub-sections, and the following abbreviations and signs are used: C = consonant; V = vowel; [square brackets] enclose supplied letters not in the MS; <diamond brackets> enclose letters written by the scribe in error; > = 'is altered to'; < = 'altered from'; + = 'followed by'. Bibliographical references to Dobson and Jordan indicate respectively: E. J. Dobson, English Pronunciation 1500-1700 (1968 edn), and R. Jordan, Handbuch der mittelenglischen Grammatik (1968 edn).

  • 1 ME /ai/
  • 1.1 A maistiris > S meystiris; 1.2 A aray, chayer, fayre > S arai, chaier', faire (2); 1.3 A seide > S saide (3); 1.4 A heith 'height', preising > S heyth, preysing'; 1.5 A seyd > S saide (2); 1.6 A ageyn, Godfrey, sey 'say' > S agayne, Godfray, say (4); 1.7 A eythir > S either; see also 86 they.
  • Some words apparently show monophthongization to /ε:/ or /ε/:—
  • In a position of full stress (Dobson, §129):
  • 2.1 A receyued > S receued (2)
  • In a position of weak stress (Jordan, §247):

  • 89

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  • 2.2 A certeyn, merueile v., merueyl sb. > S certene, meruell', merue|le (over line division)
  • Monophthongization before /s/ + C (Jordan, §284, Anm. 2) is probably shown in
  • 3.1. A maystir > S master
  • By contrast variation in a position of weak or secondary stress between a form with a monophthong (L -ānus) and a form with a diphthong (OF -ain) is probably shown in
  • 3.2 A Romanes > S Romaynes (2)
  • 2 and
  • 1 A & > S and (3); 2.1 A and > S & (3, 1 at line end); 2.2 A and > S and'; 2.3 A and > S ande
  • 3 any
  • A ony > S any
  • 4 ME -aun-
  • 1 A strange[2]> S straunge; 2 A geauntis > S geantes
  • 5 but
  • A but > S bot (11)
  • 6 church
  • A cherch > S chirche (2) [beside retention of cherches once; cf. §41.1.4]
  • 7 commune v.
  • A comoun > S comen' [for this variation see OED Common v.]
  • 8 con-
  • A concluded, conteyned > S concluded, conteyned
  • 9 ME /dʒ/
  • A besechid[3] 'besieged' > S beseged
  • 10 -dom
  • A Cristendam, wisdam > S Cristendome, wisdome
  • 11 ME /ε:/ and /e:/
  • 1 A geestes, leest > S gestis, leste; 2 A citee, cytees, gees, weel 'well' adv. > S cyte, cytes, ges, wele
  • 12 Final flourish, (?) for -e, added
  • 1 A and, child, kyng, schuld, þou, world, ʒou > S and', child', king' (6), shuld' (4), þou', world', ʒou'; 2 A nek, stryf > S nekk', striff'; see also 47 final l, 51 final V + n flourished
  • 13 Final e added
  • A aftirward, ageyn, and, anon, answerd, ask > S afterwarde (2), agayne, ande, anone (4), answerde (4), aske (2); A bak 'back', baptem, beneth, best superl., bird, birden, birth, blood, bold, book, both, brak 'broke' > S bake, baptime, beneþe, beste, birde, berdone, birthe, blode, bolde, boke (7), boþe, brake; A cam, Capitol, carl, certeyn, charl, cherch, child, chorl, conqwest, cost 'coast', craft, cry, Crist > S came (3), Capitole, carle, certe(y)ne (2), charle, chirche (2), childe, chorle, conqueste, coste, crafte, crie, Criste (2); A ded 'did' > S dede; A eld, est > S elde, este; A fast 'near', feld, ferd 'fared', flood, fond, forth adv., fot > S faste, felde, ferde, flode, founde (2), forþe (at line end), fote; A gilt 'gilt', gold, goo inf. & pp., good, goost, graunt, gret 'great', ground > S gilte, golde (3), goe, gode (2), goste, graunte, grete (2), grounde; A hald pr. pl., hand, hast p.t. 2 sg., hath, hed, held, herd p.t., hy 'high', hing 'hung', -hod, hool 'whole', hoost > S halde, hande (2), haste, hathe, hede, helde, herde, hye, henge, -hode, hole, hoste (2); A just adj. > S juste; A kyng > S kinge (5); A leest, lep p.t. sg., ly, lych 'like' adv., list 'desired', lond, lord > S leste, lepe, lye, liche, liste, londe, lorde (3); A mad p.t., mech, Melan 'Milan', moost > S made (7), meche, Melane (2), moste; A ny > S nye; A oth, owt > S oþe, oute (2); A part > S parte; A rood p.t. sg., roos p.t. sg. > rode, rose; A sith 'scythe', slept, soth, ston, stood, strong, swech > S siþe,


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    slepte (2), soþe, stone (2), stode (5), stronge (2), sweche; A tak inf., took, -tok, treuth > S take, toke, -toke, treuþe; A þing, þird > S þinge (4), þirde; A weel 'well' adv., went, werk, west, whom, wold p.t., world, worth, wrong > S wele, wente (2), werke (2), weste, whome, wolde (3), worlde (2), worthe, wronge; A ʒong > S yonge; see also 34 first, 45 -ing vbl.n. esp. §45.1.2, 47 Final l esp. §47.1.3, 68 Final r esp. §68.2, 70 -red, 73 say esp. §§73.2.2 and 73.3-4, 76 should, 93 which, 99 Doubling of Consonants, and cf. also §§18 and 23.2
  • 14 Final e reduced to flourish
  • A grete 'great', oute, stande > S gret' (at line end), out' (at line end), stand'
  • 15 Final e lost
  • A distroye, here 'their', Lumbardye, seye 'say', schewe, trewe, þere > S distroy, her, Lumbardy, sey, shew, trew, þer
  • 16 Medial e added before syllabic C
  • A betokneth > S betokenyth (3)
  • 17 Final ed wk p.t.
  • A besechid, consentid, couchid, inqwirid, kyllid > S beseged, consented, couched, enquired, killed
  • 18 Final ed/de/t wk p.t.
  • 1 A answered > S answerde; 2 A dweld (OE dwealde) > S dwelt
  • 19 Final ed wk pp.
  • 1 A clepid, cursid, hangid, rehersid, touchid, waschid > S cleped, cursed, hanged, rehersed, touched, wasshed; 2 A mevyd, receyuyd > S meued, receued; sim. A nakid adj., fonnyd adj. > S naked, fonned
  • 20 Final el
  • 1.1 A sadel > S sadill'; 1.2 A sadill' > S sadell'; 2.1 A cronicules > S cronicles (2); 2.2 A temple, temples > S tempil, tempels
  • 21 else
  • A ellis > S els
  • 22 Final em
  • A baptem > S baptime, baptym
  • 23 Final en
  • 1 A birden > S berdone; 2 A bretherin, breþerin > S bretherne (2); 3 A Latyn > S Laten
  • 24 -ence
  • A reuerens > S reuerence
  • 25 endure
  • A endewre > S endure
  • 26 Final er
  • 1.1 A aftir, anothir/anoþir, bettir, eythir, neythir, othir/oþir, sekir merkis, togidir > S after, anoþer (3), better, either, neyþer, oþer (8), seker<nes>, togeder; 1.2 A aftir, aftirward, maystir, oþir > S after, afterwarde (2, 1 over line division), master, oþer (at line end); 1.3 A nevir, vndirtok > S neuyr, vndyrtoke; 2.1 A euyr, gandyr, neuyr, siluyr, whatsoeuyr > S euer, gander (2), neuer, siluer, whatsoeuer; 2.2 A aftyrward, euyr, ouyr > S after|warde (at line end), euer (2), ouer (at line end); 3 A delyuer > S delyuer
  • 27 Final er/er'
  • 1.1 A chayer > chaier'; 1.2 A þidir > S þider'; 2.1 A answer', daunger', former', labourer', rider', swyer' > S answer, daunger, former, labourer, rider, swyer; 2.2 A gander' > S gandir; 3 A mater' > S mater (3)
  • 28 Final er/re
  • 1 A Assuer' 'Assuerus' > S Assure; 2 A Alisaundre, Alisaundr', philisophr', philisophres > S Alisaunder (2), Alisaunder', phili<phos>er', philosop<p>hir', philosophers (2)
  • 29 Medial er
  • 1 A breþerin, dyuers, euery, gouerned, mercate, merueile, serpent, þere, þerfor, þerto(o) > S bretherne, diuers (3), euery (2), gouerned (2), mercate, meruell', serpent


    Page 91
    (2), þer(e) (4), þerfore (4), þerto (2); 2 A perle > S perle
  • 30 Final es pl. and poss. sg.
  • 1.1 A horses, houses, maneres, tales > S horsis, housis, maneris, talis; 1.2 A stones > S stonys; 2 A Cristis, geauntis, goddis, handis, kyngis, knytis, potestatis, prestis, þingis, wallis, ʒiftis > S Cristes (2), geantes, goddes, handes, kinges (3), knyghtes, potistates, prestes, þinges (5), walles, ʒiftes; 3.1 A myddys > S myddes; 3.2 A dikys > S dykis; 4.1 A londes > S londes; 4.2 A geestes > S gestis; 5.1 A guynosopistis > S guynesopistes; 5.2 A myddis, prophetis > S mydd' (at line end), prophet' [cf. A emperouris > S emperoris (at line end); perhaps S customes' < A costomes is a "compromise" showing both -es and the flourish which indicates it]; 6.1 A deueles, keperes, maydenes, maneres, swieres, temples, Virgiles > S deuels, kepers, maydens, maners, swyers, tempels, Virgils; 6.2 A counsellouris, keperis, legionis > S counselours, kepers, legions
  • 31 Final es/zero poss. sg.
  • A þe horses hed > S þe hors hede
  • 32 Final eth pr. 3 sg.
  • 1.1 A clepeth > S clepith; 1.2 A betokneth, semeth > S betokenyth (3), semyth; 2 A lith > S lyeth
  • 33 f/ph
  • A profecied > S prophicied
  • 34 first
  • A first > S frist (4, 2 at line end), friste
  • 35 MnE -ght
  • A brout, hith 'is called', knyth, knytis, knythod, manslauth, mydnyth, myth > S brought, hight (5), knight, knyghtes, knygh[th]ode, monslaught, mydnyght (2), myght (3) [beside retention of knyt once; absence of gh is also retained in A heith 'height' > S heyth, nor is gh added in final position, A hy > S hye, A ny > S nye, and A's þouʒ is retained]
  • 36 give
  • A ʒyue > S ʒeue (2) [beside retention of ʒyue once, and ʒift is also retained once]
  • 37 Initial h
  • A (L) os 'mouth' > S hos
  • 38 him
  • A him(self), him/hym > S hym(—) (13 + 2), hem (2) [possibly these examples of hem for him/hym are errors induced by the context, but such an explanation is not available for hym for hem at §85.2]
  • 39 how
  • A who > S whow
  • 40 i/y
  • 1.1 A dikys, swieres, Tiberius, whi, wise sb. > S dykis, swyers, Tyber[i]us, why (2), wyse; 1.2 A cite(e), misteries, priuy, til > S cyte (8), my|steries (over line division), pryuy, tyll'; see also 38 him; 1.3 A cronicles, satisfie > S cronycles, saty[s]fie; 1.4 A speciali, testimonie > S specialy, testimonye; 1.5 A avoide > S avoyde; 2.1 A cry, dyuers, enqwyred, fynde, knyth, lych 'like' adv., ouyrrydyng, stryf > S crie, diuers (2), enquired, finde, knight, liche, ouyrriding', striff'; 2.2 A kyllid, kyng, kyngis, kynrod, lytil, tyl > S killed, king'/kinge (6/5), kinges, kinrede, litill', till'; 2.3 A cronycles, ordynauns, prouydens > S cronicles (2), ordinauns, prouidens (2); 2.4 A porphiry, redy, very > S purphiri, redi, verri; 2.5 A distroyed, (a)voyde > S dis-troied, (a)voide
  • 41 i/e
  • 1.1 A hing > S henge; 1.2 A togidir > S togeder; 1.3 A Inglond > S Englond; 1.4 A birden > S berdone; 1.5 A inqwirid > S enquired; see also 20 Final el; 2.1 A Brytayne > S Bretayne;[4] 2.2 A byleue > S beleue; 3 A potestatis, prophecied, worchep > S


    Page 92
    potistates, prophicied (3), worschip; 4.1 A Melan > S Mylane; 4.2 A cheuesaunce > S cheyuysaunce [the ey-spelling in the first syllable is probably a "compromise" employing both e and y, though properly each was alternative to the other]
  • 42 i/o
  • A philisophr', philisophres, porphiri > S philosop<p>hir', philosophers, purphori; see also 23 Final en, esp §23.1
  • 43 i/g before n in words of OF origin
  • A assyned > S assigned
  • 44 -ing pr.p.
  • 1.1 A preising > S preysing'; 1.2 A hanging > S hanging'; 2.1 A ridyng, wakyng > S riding, waking; 2.2 A beryng, doyng, dwellyng, regnyng, sittyng, standyng > S bering', doing', dwelling', reigning', sitting', standing'; 2.3 A lyuyng > S lyuyng'
  • 45 -ing vbl.n.
  • 1.1 A knowyng, ouyrrydyng > S knowing', ouyrriding'; 1.2 A knowyng > S knowinge; 2.1 A comyng, lyuyng > S comyng', lyuyng' (2); 2.2 A comyng, cunnyng sb. > S comyng', connyng' (2)
  • 46 -ion
  • 1 A rebellion > S rebellioun (2); 2 A expocicioun > S exposissioun'
  • 47 Final l
  • 1.1 A wil > S will [cf. A counsellouris > S counselours]; 1.2 A al, ful, -ful, litil, memorial, principal, sadel, schal, schul 'should', special, tyl, Vescal 'Vestal', vessel, virginal, wal, wel, wil > S all' (4), full' (3), -full', litill' (3), memoriall' (3), principall' (2), sadill', shall' (5), shull', speciall', tyll' (2), Vescall', vessell' (2), virginall' (2), wall', well', will' (4), also A fulfill' > S full'fill' (2); 1.3 A al, ful, til, wil > S alle, fulle, tille, wille (3); 2.1 A Capitol' > S Capitole, and see also 13 Final e added; 2.2 A Virgil' > S Virgill'; 3 A Virgile > S Virgill'; 4 A all > S all'; 5 A all', befell', marbill', wall', will' sb. > S alle (2), befelle, marbille, walle, wille, also A Capitoll' > S Capitole; 6 A alle, belle, calle, falle, fulfille, telle > S all' (5), bell', call', fall', full'fill', tell'
  • 48 Contraction for m
  • 1 A cumpanyes, hem 'them' > S companyes, hem; 2 A hem, whom > S hem (at line end), whom (at line end)
  • 49 my poss. adj. + C
  • A my name > S myne name
  • 50 Contraction for n
  • 1 A Alisaundre, bounde, boundyn, chaunged, cheuesaunce, comaunded, consules, councell', counsellouris, daunger', gouernauns, graunte(d), ground, in, inmortalite, innocens, innocent, lond, longe, man, men, ordynauns, runge, stant, straunge, þingis, went, woman, wounde pp. > S Alisaunder (3), bounde, boundyn', chaunged, cheyuysaunce, comaunded, consules, councell', counselours, daunger' (2), gouer<uer>nauns, graunte(d) (3), grounde, in (2), inmortalite, innocens, innocent, londe, longe, man (2), men, ordinauns, ronge, stant, straunge, þi<i>nges, wente, woman (2), wo(u)nde (2); 2 A consentid, man, Spayn, sunne > S con|sented (over line division), man (at line end), Spayn (at line end), sunne (at line end)
  • 51 Final V + n flourished
  • A boundyn, broken, can, men, on, open, upon, withouten, woman > S boundyn', broken', can', men' (2), on', open', vpon', withouten', woman'
  • 52 Final n/nne
  • 1.1 A whan > S whanne (2); 1.2 A þanne 'than', þanne 'then', whanne > S þanne, þanne (3), whanne; 1.3 A þanne > S þanne; 2.1 A withinne > S within; 2.2 A þanne, whanne > S þan, whan (2)
  • 53 -ness
  • A liklynesse > S like[ly]nes, also A sekir merkis > S seker<nes>
  • 54 not
  • A nowt > S not
  • 55 ME /c:/ and /o:/

  • 93

    Page 93
  • 1 A goo inf. & pp., goost, hool 'whole', hoost, moo, moost, rood p.t. sg., roos p.t. sg., soo, too 'two', þoo > S goe (2), goste, hole, hoste (2), mo, moste, rode, rose, so (2), to (5), þo; 2 A blood, book(es), flood, good, stood, took, þertoo > S blode, boke(s) (8), flode, gode (2), stode (6), toke, þerto
  • 56 often
  • 1 A often > S ofte; 2 A often > S aften [this instance probably indicates sporadic ME unrounding and lowering of obreve to ă: see Dobson, §87]
  • 57 ou/ow
  • 1 A ʒou > S yow (2); 2 A owre, owt > S oure, out(e) (3)
  • 58 Final oun
  • A expocicioun > S exposissioun'
  • 59 Final our
  • A emperouris > S emperoris (at line end); see also 68 Final r
  • 60 Final ous
  • A meruelous > S meruelous
  • 61 own adj.
  • A owne > S ouyne [the form closest in spelling recorded by OED Own a. is owyn(e]
  • 62 par-
  • A party > S party
  • 63 people
  • A puple > S peple (5) [beside retention of puple once]
  • 64 pri-
  • A princes, principal > S princes, principall' (2)
  • 65 pro-
  • A procede, profecie, profecied, promissed, prosperite, prouydens > S procede, profecie, prophicied [also once, pr[o]phicied], promised, prosperite, prouidens [beside retention of 'pro-' once]
  • 66 prove
  • A proue > S preue
  • 67 qw/qu
  • A conqwest, enqwyred/inqwirid > S conqueste, enquired (2)
  • 68 Final r
  • 1.1 A hir 'her' > S hir'; 1.2 A errour', hir' 'her' > S errour (at line end), hir; 2 A þerfor, wherfor > S þerfore (5), wherfore (2); 3 A answer', apper', befor', ber', emperour', errour', fair', ferr' adv., honour', mor', our', þer', wer', wher' > S answere, apere, before (2), bere, emperoure (3), erroure, faire, ferre, honoure, more, oure (6), there, were (8), where (2); see also 84 their
  • 69 Medial re
  • A gret(e) > S gre|te (2) [beside retention of grete (10); cf. gre|te (iv/11-12, on Plate IIa), also gret' (119r/4) recorded above under §14]
  • 70 -red
  • A kynrod > S kinrede
  • 71 reign
  • A regnyng > S reigning'
  • 72 ME /s/
  • A expocicioun > exposissioun'
  • 73 say, said
  • 1.1 A sey inf. > S say; 1.2 A seye inf. > S sey; 2.1 A sey pr. pl. > S say (3) [beside retention of sey (6); both say and sey 'saw' are each retained once (the only occurrences)]; 2.2 A sey pr. pl. > S seye; 3.1 A seid p.t. > S seide; 3.2 A seid p.t. > S sey[d]; 3.3 A seide p.t. > S saide (2) [beside retention of seide (4)]; 3.4 A seyd p.t. > S seide; 4.1 A seid pp. > S seide; 4.2 A seide pp. > S saide; 4.3 A seyd pp. > S saide (2).
  • 74 -self
  • A himself > S hymselue
  • 75 sh
  • 1 A schal, schap, sche, schewe > S shall' (6), shappe (3), she, shewe (2); see also 76


    Page 94
    should; 2 A bischop, waschid > S bisshop (4), wasshed; 3 A worchip > S worschip (3)
  • 76 should
  • 1.1 A schuld > S shulde (5); 1.2 A schuld > S shuld' (4); 2.1 A schul > S shuld; 2.2 A schul > S shull'
  • 77 some
  • 1 A summe > S sum (4) [cf. A summe sb. 'sum' > S summe]; 2.1 A summe > S sum (at line end); 2.2 A sum > S sum (at line end)
  • 78 special
  • A special, speciali > S speciall', specialy
  • 79 strength
  • A strength > S strengh[5] (2)
  • 80 ME -th for MnE -ght
  • A hith 'is called', knyth, manslauth, mydnyth, myth > S hight (5), knight, monslaught, mydnyght (2), myght (3); cf. also A lithil > S litill'
  • 81 th
  • 1.1 A the, These > S þe, þese; 1.2 A anothir, neythir, othir, rather > S anoþer, neyþer, oþer (2), raþer; 1.3 A beneth, both, forth, oth, sith 'scythe', soth, treuth > S beneþe, boþe, forþe (at line end), oþe, siþe, soþe (2), treuþe; 2.1 A þat, þe, þer', þis > S that, the, there, this; 2.2 A breþerin > S bretherne
  • 82 Contracted form of that
  • 1 A þt > S þat (2); 2.1 A þat > S þt (2 at line end); 2.2 A þat > S þtt (at line end)
  • 83 the
  • 1 A the > S þe; 2 A þe > S the; 3.1 A þe > S þe (6, 4 at line end) [cf. A þi > S þi (at line end), and A forth > S forþe (at line end)]; 3.2 A þe > S þee (at line end)
  • 84 their
  • 1.1 A her' > S her (8); 1.2 A here > S her [also her and here are each retained once]; 2.1 A her' > S hir (2); 2.2 A her' > S hir' (3); 2.3 A here > S hir'
  • 85 them
  • 1.1 A hem > S hem; 1.2 A hem > S hem (at line end); 2 A hem > S hym [beside retention of hem (14); cf. §38]
  • 86 they
  • 1.1 A þei > S þai (14); 1.2 A þei > S þay (10) [beside retention of þei (4)]; 2 A þei > S thay; 3.1 A Thei > S Thay (2); 3.2 A Thei > S They (2)
  • 87 this
  • 1 A þis > S this; 2 A þis > S þs (2 at line end); 3.1 A þis adj. & pron. > S þus (5); 3.2 A This pron. > S Thus [beside retention of þis (27), This (4)]
  • 88 thus
  • 1.1 A þus > S þs (at line end); 1.2 A Thus > S ths (at line end); 2 A þus adv. > S þis (3) [beside retention of þus once]
  • 89 ME /u/
  • 1 A cumpanyes, cunnyng, runge, sunge, tunge > S companyes, connyng' (2), ronge, songe, tonge; 2 A costomes, onto, porphiri > S customes', vnto (5), purphiri (2)
  • 90 ME /u:/ and /&c.nv;:/ in s.v. 3 p.t. and pp.
  • 1 A founde pp., wounde pp. > fon|de (over line division), wonde [beside A wounde > S wonde (2)]; 2 A fond(e) p.t. > S founde (3)
  • 91 u/v
  • 1 A upon > S vpon (3); cf. also A onto > S vnto (5); 2 A mevyd, nevir > S meued, neuyr
  • 92 Medial vi
  • A natiuite > S natiuite
  • 93 which
  • A whech > S whiche (22), which (4, 3 at line end)

  • 95

    Page 95
  • 94 Contracted form of with
  • A with > S Wt (4, 1 at line end)
  • 95 without
  • 1 A witʒoute > S wt|oute (over line division); 2 A withoute > S wtouten'; 3 A withouten > S withouten' [beside retention of withouten once]
  • 96 Initial /j/-glide (Dobson, §430 and n.3)
  • A þe erde > S þe ʒerde
  • 97 ʒ/y
  • A ʒe, ʒong, ʒou > S ye (3), yonge, you', yow (2)
  • 98 yet
  • A ʒet > S ʒit (2), it[6]
  • 99 Doubling of Consonants
  • 1.1 A if, lif, of 'of', -self, stryf, nek, schap, dor', put > S iff (2), liff, off, -selff, striff', nekk', shappe (3), dorre, putte, also A bak > S backe; see also 52 Final n/nne; 1.2 A very > S verri; 2.1 A brasse > S bras; see also 53 -ness; 2.2 A ricchesse, apper', promissed > S richesse (2), apere, promised



acknowledgements. Plate I is reproduced by courtesy of the Bodleian Library, Plate IIa by courtesy of the Warden and Fellows of All Souls College, Oxford, Plate IIb by courtesy of the Master and Fellows of Balliol College, Oxford.


Quoted from F. N. Robinson (ed.), The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer (London, 1957 edn), p. 534, except that I have modified Robinson's punctuation. To provide a balance see Thomas Hoccleve's account of a scribe's point of view: F. J. Furnivall (ed.), Hoccleve's Works. III. The Regement of Princes, EETS e.s. 72 (1897), 36-38, lines 985-1029; also Osbern Bokenham's Legendys of Hooly Wummen, ed. M. S. Serjeantson, EETS o.s. 206 (1938 for 1936), lines 895-908. For general accounts of medieval 'publication' see, e.g. R. K. Root, 'Publication before Printing', PMLA, 28 (1913), 417-431, and H. S. Bennett, 'The Production and Dissemination of Vernacular Manuscripts in the Fifteenth Century', The Library, 5th ser., 1 (1946-47), 167-178, also my article on Capgrave, cited below, n. 3.


My interpretation of this verse differs from that of A. McIntosh who takes it that the scribe was given Chaucer's original and enjoined 'to transmit it unaltered': 'Scribal Profiles from Middle English Texts', Neuphilologische Mitteilungen, 76 (1975), 218-235, quot. on p. 224. The phrase 'more trewe' seems to me probably to imply some tolerance of non-essential alterations which do not affect the wording. Cf. Troilus and Criseyde, V, 1793-98, esp. 1795 and 1798.


See my 'John Capgrave, O.S.A. (1393-1464), Scribe and "Publisher"', Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society, 5, i (1969), 1-35, quotation from p. 27, additions in square brackets.


I have retained the numerical designations employed in the monograph referred to in the previous footnote.


For a reproduction (reduced) of f. 365r see Plate I. The manuscript is also described by H. M. Bannister in his 'Introductory Note' to J. Capgrave, Ye Solace of Pilgrimes, ed. C. A. Mills (1911), p. xi; the frontispiece of this book is a reproduction (reduced) of f. 387r. For a reproduction of part of f. 376 see N. Denholm-Young, Handwriting in England and Wales (1954), pl. 22.


See H. O. Coxe, Catalogus codicum MSS qui in Collegiis Aulisque Oxoniensibus hodie adservantur (1852), II, 5; also the letter from A. S. Napier to F. J. Furnivall printed in the 'Forewords' to Capgrave's Life of St. Katharine of Alexandria, ed. C. Horstmann, EETS o.s. 100 (1893), xxxiv-xxxv.


The manuscript is paginated, starting at the beginning of the text (Capgrave's 'De Fidei Symbolis'). I refer to the front endleaves as folios by roman numeral.


See R. A. B. Mynors, Catalogue of Manuscripts of Balliol College, Oxford (1963), pp. 190-192.


On the date of this work see my 'Capgrave Scribe and Publisher', p. 3, n.2. The text is printed from manuscript [3] by Mills, Solace; see especially pp. 26-32.


This was the view of Bannister in Solace, ed. Mills, p. xviii, confirmed in my 'Capgrave Scribe and Publisher', pp. 11-12, but recently questioned by E. Colledge in 'The Capgrave "Autographs"', Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society, 6, ii (1975), 137-148. Colledge's view, that the body of the text was written by Capgrave's 'secretary' but that the corrections are in the hand of the author, depends on whether the two hands are distinguishable. Although I believe the weight of the evidence is firmly against Colledge it is not my purpose to refute him here nor is it necessary. [See now my review of C. L. Smetana's Life of St. Norbert by John Capgrave (1977) in Medium Ævum, 48 (1979), 316-319, esp. p. 316.] What matters for the present purpose is that the text of the 'Solace' in [3] was revised by Capgrave and thus had authorial approval; on this matter there is no dispute.


See Plate II. Printed, very inaccurately, by F. C. Hingeston in The Chronicle of England by John Capgrave, Rolls Series 1 (1858), Appendix IV, pp. 355-66.


In the transcriptions the following conventions are used: (1) Italic letters indicate expanded contractions; (2) an apostrophe, ('), indicates a flourish which is added to some letters—almost invariably when they occur at the end of a word—and which may be either a mark of abbreviation, usually for -e, or an otiose stroke; (3) a vertical bar | indicates a line division (doubled for a page division); (4) \ oblique strokes / indicate letters or words written suprascript or added in the margin for insertion; (5) & (ampersand) stands for the Tironian sign for 'and'. In the transcription of A the letters þ and y are printed as appropriate, although in the manuscript the y-form of þ is indistinguishable from y itself; whereas in S þ and y are distinguished in the manuscript. The distinction in both A and S between i and j is merely calligraphic and whichever is the appropriate letter is printed in the transcriptions.


References to A are by folio and line (without preceding 'f.' or 'l.') followed, after a semi-colon, or sometimes in brackets, by page and line references to Mills's edition. References to S are also by page or folio (as appropriate) and line, from which it is easily deduced whether a reference is to manuscript [7]—pp. 223-24, fol. i—or to manuscript [8]—fols. 118-19.


The word him appears in the right-hand margin after pri, and there is a caret after vndirtok to indicate where him should be inserted.


Another fault that should be noted here was the S-scribe's occasional failure to keep A's capitalization and punctuation. On two occasions the dropping of a capital letter is immediately preceded by the omission of a punctuation-marker so that a reader might temporarily miss the beginning of a new sentence. However, such faults would hardly have led to the copy being rejected as they could easily have been corrected during rubrication.


There are probably more than 85 errors but when there is any uncertainty as to whether a divergence between S and A constitutes an error or not I have given the S-scribe the benefit of the doubt.


The uncorrected errors are as is suppose (recte supposed) at 365r/42, possibly not an error at all as final d has been erased (see Plate I), and the example of wrong word order cited in Part I above, under (1). The corrections are all omitted words or letters inserted suprascript or in the margin, or repeated words or letter-strokes expuncted.


This form could possibly show excrescent d after -n though I know of no other instance of this feature in this word. In the context it is probably an error: S reads a faire conk of purphiri stonde be fore hir.


This error could be the result simply of a misreading of A's ambiguous y-form of þ but the effect is to substitute one word for another. Morphological substitution is unlikely as this is not a feature of the linguistic alterations in S. See further below, Appendix, n. 1.


This reading is probably right though the letter read as a could be the first stroke of an o followed by a minim and the letters read as ft could be st.


Mon for man is of course a dialectal variant associated especially with the W. Midlands but is not otherwise known in the area from which S comes; for the argument concerning S's dialect see below.


It is just possible that the omission here is a grammatical variation, the S-scribe preferring a zero-introduced noun clause, but if so it is the only grammatical alteration in the text. Cf. 2.1.1 above.


Cf. the spelling-change 'breþerin' > 'bretherne' (Appendix, §23.2).


The effect in 3.2.10 and 3.2.13-14 is also to substitute another word ('Tiber', 'lantern') but these words would be so inappropriate in their contexts that the errors would hardly have done more than check a reader (unless he was exceptionally stupid).


On Capgrave's meticulousness see my 'Capgrave Scribe and Publisher', pp. 5-7, and 15, n. 1, also my 'Consistency and Correctness in the Orthographic Usage of John Capgrave's Chronicle', Studia Neophilologica, 45 (1973), 323-355, esp. 355.


3.1.9-13. For a discussion of the kinds of error that could arise from the movement of the copyist's eye from his copy back to his exemplar see E. Vinaver, 'Principles of Textual Emendation', in Studies in French Language and Medieval Literature presented to Professor Mildred K. Pope (1939), pp. 351-369, esp. pp. 355-360.


"Tradition and Innovation in some Middle English Manuscripts', Review of English Studies, n.s. 17 (1966), 359-372, quot. on p. 372, n. 1. Her study is based on manuscripts containing the metrical Chronicle formerly attributed to Robert of Gloucester. I am grateful to Dr Hudson for commenting on a draft version of this paper.


Indeed D. Pearsall has recently suggested that Capgrave had 'other scribes . . . working under his direction, producing copies of Capgrave's own works, in a standard "house style" of spelling . . .': in 'John Capgrave's Life of St. Katharine and Popular Romance Style', Medievalia et Humanistica, n.s. 6 (1975), 121-137, quot. on p. 123. I know of no evidence for this 'standard "house style" of spelling' and the present material would suggest that what 'standard spelling' there was in Capgrave's scriptorium was confined to Capgrave alone.


M. Benskin, 'Local archives and Middle English dialects', Journal of the Society of Archivists, 5 (1977), 500-514, quot. on p. 510.


'What is a 'Letter'?', Lingua, 2 (1949-50), 54-63, esp. 59.


Quoted from De Scauri et Palladii libris excerpta in H. Keil (ed.), Grammatici Latini (1855-1923), VII, 325.


Victorinus, Ars Grammatica, in Keil, Grammatici, VI, 194; Diomedes, Ars Grammatica, in Keil, Grammatici, I, 421. The statements by Donatus (Keil, Grammatici, IV, 368) and Charisius (Keil, Grammatici, I, 7) are less full. The fifth-century grammarian Priscian expresses the relationship slightly differently—and less perspicuously: Figurae accidunt quas videmus in singulis literis. Potestas autem ipsa pronuntiatio, propter quam et figurae et nomina facta sunt (Keil, Grammatici, II, 9).


'Towards an Inventory of Middle English Scribes', Neuphilologische Mitteilungen, 75 (1974), 602-624, quotations on p. 603.


Properly 'dialectal' is correct since dialect has always meant 'regional speech' (rather than writing), as in all the instances cited by OED and OEDS Dialect. However, in much the same way as the original meaning of atom 'that which is indivisible' was changed by the splitting of the atom, so the recognition that 'orthographic' or 'W-features' are regionally distributed in an orderly way in Middle English effectively introduces a new sense for dialect: 'subordinate variety of a language (of a past period) characterized by distinctive written forms which may or may not signify distinctive pronunciations'. Henceforth in this article the word 'dialectal' is used with the sense 'pertaining to dialect (in the sense given)'.


For this analysis I am indebted to Mr Michael Benskin and Mrs Margaret Laing both of whom are working on ME dialectology in association with Professor Angus McIntosh at Edinburgh. Since their material is unpublished I have not been able to verify it. I am grateful to Mr Benskin for his very full answers to my queries.


By 'of dialectal significance' I mean 'showing an orderly geographical distribution in the area concerned'.


For spelling distinctions of this kind observed by Capgrave see my 'Consistency in Orthographic Usage', p. 351.


A change not listed is that, whereas A uses a y-form of þ so that þ and y are indistinguishable in shape, in S þ and y are distinguished. I regard this as a palaeographical rather than linguistic feature, though it can have textual consequences (see Part II above, §1.1.10 and n. 19) and may show regional distribution (see McIntosh, 'Inventory', p. 609).


Since n and u are indistinguishable this spelling could be an error with the nasal titulus omitted. Cf. A straunge > S straunge (2).


On spellings with ch see my 'Consistency in Orthographic Usage', p. 332.


This variation probably derives from OF Bretaigne beside L Brittania; cf. my 'Consistency in Orthographic Usage', p. 343, n. 1.


This form is from OE strengu (OED Strengh sb.) rather than strengðu (OED Strength sb.) and could perhaps therefore be regarded as word-substitution rather than spelling variation.


This is a possible form of 'yet' (see Dobson, §422 and n.2), but in the context, A as ʒet is sene > S as it is sene, it would probably have been read in S as a pronoun.