University of Virginia Library



Except where noted, I cite Skeat's edition, in Chaucerian and Other Pieces, ed. Walter W. Skeat (Oxford: Clarendon, 1897), pp. 1-145; notes pp. 451-484. Thynne's text, however, is worth citing, for the passage offers a small conspectus of the difficulties that confront an editor:

thentent of al these maters is the lest clere understanding/ to weten at thende of this thirde boke ful knowing thorowe goddes grace/ I thinke to make neverthelater/ yet if these thynges han a good and a sleight inseer/ which that can souke hony of the harde stone/ oyle of the drye rocke/ may lyghtly fele nobley of mater in my leude ymagination closed.

(f. 351r, col. 1, l. 48- col. 2, ll. 1-8)


Henry Bradley's entry on Thomas Usk in the Dictionary of National Biography (vol. 20, pp. 60-62) remains the best succinct account of Usk's career, and of the main events in the discovery of Usk's authorship. Its biographical information is valuably supplemented by Ramona Bressie, "The Date of Thomas Usk's Testament of Love," Modern Philology 26 (1928), 17-29.


Henry Bradley, in The Athenaeum, #3615 (February 5, 1897), p. 184, first described these displacements, identifying six separate disjunct segments. Skeat adopted this account in his edition, and offers a hypothesis (pp. xix-xxii) about the misarrangement of the printer's copy to explain the disorder and justify the sequence of his reconstruction. Ramona Bressie (note 2 above) was to my knowledge the first to discover that Skeat's reconstruction of the order of displaced text in Book III erred in reversing the positions of chapters v and vi (see p. 28, n. 1 of her article), though she does not explain either how the acrostic, disrupted by the transposition she proposes, might be restored, or what mechanics of disruption could account for either Skeat's arrangement (which she finds as baffling as I do) or the revision of it she proposes. Her tentative solution to the latter problem is to postulate the loss of text after III.i, since this book alone of the three "lacks a lyrical chapter after the Prologue," and since at II.iv.121 Love forecasts matter about a "king" to be treated later "whan I shew the ground where moral virtue groweth"—yet in Bressie's view the king remains unmentioned when Love's exposition reaches that topic in Book III. My account below addresses both of these issues.


In his biography John Gower: Moral Philosopher and Friend of Chaucer (New York: New York Univ. Press, 1964), John Hurt Fisher provides a valuable discussion of the causes and effects of the attribution of the Testament to Chaucer, and the impacts of the early reconstructed biographies of Chaucer and Gower on the definition of critical reputations and agendas in the study of major and minor Ricardian writers. Fisher's entire first chapter (pp. 1-36) is germane to the present essay; see esp. pp. 21-24. One particularly noteworthy effect of the long-standing attribution of the Testament to Chaucer was its role in sustaining the image of Chaucer as dissenting, if ultimately reconciled, son of the church: Usk's euphemized "biography" represents the author's earlier missteps and others' misreading of them as "heresy" and later reassimilation to Love's law and sect; these references were sometimes read literally by early readers as admissions of earlier lapses of religious faith and disavowed early adherence to Wycliffite belief. These remarks, however, occur within the fictional figuration of the work as Love's corrective pedagogy, and cannot be read as representations of their author's religious views.


While Usk's use of his source materials is not to my purpose here, it is worth remarking that while Anselm's discussion of these matters builds in part on the exposition of the fundamental problem of divine prescience and human free choice in the Consolatio, its philosophical bearing is quite different from that of Boethius. It is concerned with divine justice and the soul's salvation, as well as with the earlier philosopher's interest in a diffusely Platonic mode of what might be called general theological metaphysics. More central to Anselm's concerns than the metaphysics of fortune and foreknowledge is the difficult moral theology of the will, both divine and human, a discourse that became still more diversified in its terms, and controverted in its implications, in the years between Anselm and Usk. Thus, even though the Anselmian vocabulary Usk deployed in Book III is not in itself markedly more arcane than that of Boethius on the same topics, the distinctions it makes for Anselm are finer, and the implications differently drawn out. For detailed discussions of Usk's use of Anselm in Book III of the Testament, see George Sanderlin, "Usk's Testament of Love and St. Anselm," Speculum 17 (1942), 69-73, and Stephen Medcalf, "Transposition: Thomas Usk's Testament of Love," in The Medieval Translator, vol. 1, ed. Roger Ellis (Woodbridge, Suffolk: D. S. Brewer, 1989), pp. 181-195; for an account demonstrating that this work of Anselm is the specific source of Usk's "wexing tree" image in that book, see Lucy Lewis, "Langland's Tree of Charity and Usk's 'Wexing Tree,'" Notes and Queries 240, no. 4 (Dec. 1995), 429-433.


In partial extenuation of the printer's errors at these junctures, and his failure to notice them in setting copy, it should be said that the diction and general register of Usk's Book III are more rarefied for long stretches than any other text in Thynne's massive volume. As Thynne apparently lacked familiarity with some of Usk's legal terms (e.g. "torcencious" at; Skeat p. 28), the sixteenth-century printer also had little experience or knowledge of the terms of philosophical argument to guide him through what he would certainly have considered "scole-matere" of "gret difficulte" (had he taken the time to "read" it, in the modern sense of that term). Moreover, in preparing the Usk text for printing, Thynne apparently had no second source for cross-checking, as he did in setting comparably abstruse material in the Chaucer corpus. As James E. Blodgett points out, Thynne used Caxton and at least one other manuscript for the text of Boece (to take one discursively close comparison), and he had similar second or multiple points of textual reference for much of the rest of his massive edition; see Blodgett's chapter "William Thynne" in Editing Chaucer: The Great Tradition, ed. Paul G. Ruggiers (Norman, Okla.: Pilgrim Books, 1984), pp. 35-52 (notes, pp. 255-259), esp. p. 45. In the face of the difficulties peculiar to Book III, Thynne did his best to "read" it, and present it, within the norms of what he apparently believed the work in general to be: a "gentil" and eloquent treatise on refined love, with a strongly Boethian cast—in other words, as a work testifying that Troilus stood at the "stremes hede" of a tradition. This discursive gap has some bearing on the textual treatment of Usk not only by his printer but also by his only published editor to date. Where Skeat lacks awareness of Usk's direct Latin source (as he does throughout most of Book III), and where the editor's account of the text requires semantic awareness beyond a sound sense of Middle English idiom, his identifications of lapses of sense, and his emendations, are often as unsteady as those one might want to attribute to the printer—or (the explanation Skeat and Bradley preferred) to the deplorable state of the manuscript the printer used. Examples discussed below will further bear out the way discursive obstacles were transmitted in the form of mechanical errors.


Paul Strohm, in "Politics and Poetics: Usk and Chaucer in the 1380s," in Literary Practice and Social Change in Britain, 1380-1530, ed. Lee Patterson (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1990), pp. 83-112, imagines Usk producing the Testament "in a state of undoubted isolation" (p. 105). In this essay, and in another complementary to it—"The Textual Vicissitudes of Usk's Appeal," in his book Hochon's Arrow: The Social Imagination of Fourteenth Century Texts (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1992), pp. 145-160—Strohm offers the most nuanced and attentive reading that Usk's career and writings have had recently, or perhaps ever. His focus in both essays is Usk's political self-positioning through skillful textual interventions. While Strohm offers excellent discussions of the broad generic frameworks of each of Usk's two main textual initiatives (his approver's appeal against his former employer, London mayor John Northampton, and the consolatio of the Testament), it is largely extraneous to his purpose to discuss at length other literary and bibliographical codes to which Usk adverted with the Testament. The present essay intends chiefly to complement Strohm's work with an examination of these additional facets of Usk's textual self-fashioning, rather than to contest work of unparalleled value in restoring Usk, and the medium of his art, to serious, sympathetic, and detailed consideration. I shall, however, propose here that we might usefully further qualify our notion of what Usk's "isolation" might have meant, both as a description of his social situation, and as a factor in the production of his ambitious literary venture. While Usk seems not to have succeeded as he might have wished in reshaping his political reputation, his textual environment—that is, a discursive field that encompassed poetic, legal, and bibliographical codes, the chief means through which Usk's imagination articulated its purposes, as I shall argue here—was, I believe, rich in companionship, shared expertise and professional "language" (in an extended sense of the term), and moral and material support. That this kind of "friendship" proved ultimately inefficacious to save him from his political destiny is a fact of some importance for literary as well as political and cultural history—but this inference did not escape the men of letters among those contemporaries who survived him.


This exercise tends to corroborate the view of May Newman Hallmundsson, "The Community of Law and Letters: Some Notes on Thomas Usk's Audience," Viator 9 (1978), 357-365, though it greatly amplifies the technical means and bearing of the work in this context.


Three unpublished Ph.D. dissertations, to my knowledge, have undertaken to provide a sounder text of the Testament, and to correct Skeat's mistaken reconstruction of the displaced text in Book III: Ramona Bressie (Univ. of Chicago, 1932), Virginia Bording Jellech (Washington Univ., St. Louis, 1970), and John Leyerle (Harvard Univ., 1977). The last two of these re-edited the text, and Jellech's, perhaps as the more readily available of these two, has become to some recent scholars the text of reference; Leyerle reports (personal communication, May 1996) that he is preparing an edition for publication, as is R. Allen Shoaf. Jellech's dissertation, which I have consulted, seconds Bressie's correction of the sequence of text in Book III, but does not deal systematically with the mechanics of text-disarrangement or the format of the lost manuscript. Bressie, in the 1928 article cited above (p. 28, n. 1), was the first to discover that (to state the case somewhat inaccurately for the moment; we will refine it below), Skeat's edition reverses the correct order of the fifth and sixth chapters of Usk's Book III, but she did not pursue the implications of this correction for understanding the quiring and other formatting features of the lost manuscript. Rather, because the text was still in her view defective at some of these points of disruption, she conjectured substantial loss of text from Thynne's edition; as will be seen below, I consider this hypothesis unnecessary to account for Thynne's text, and for the formal features of the lost manuscript that immediately underlay it. Her correction of Skeat's reconstruction is the more impressive in that she discerned from Usk's arguments alone, without reference to his Latin source text, the correct continuity of the text of Book III: her work predates by more than a decade the discovery, published by George Sanderlin in 1942, of the St. Anselm source text for much of Book III. As we shall see below, the continuities and discontinuities in Usk's use of his source confirms Bressie's account of the correct order of text.


Skeat's account of the mechanics of internal disruption within the sequence of misplaced segments was, as Bressie noted, less troublesome to this purpose than his puzzling characterization of the relative volume of the disrupted portion in relation to the preceding continuous text. As she observed—and as a mere page count of Skeat's edition should have revealed—the total volume of displaced printed text was not, as Skeat's claim seemed to require, a little more than 1/10 the size of the undisrupted preceding text of the work to that point, but more like 1/5 (displaced text, as rearranged by Skeat, continuously fills pages 118-143 of Skeat's 145-page text). If only one quire of 8 and a bifolium were involved in the displacement, then each page of the manuscript would have had to contain about 70 lines of Thynne's text as printed in a rather compact typeface, and the disruption would then have been preceded by five similar quires, not ten. In that case, the source manuscript would almost certainly have been laid out as a relatively small double-column page, which seemed to me an unlikely disposition of a vernacular prose work of that length—especially if it came to the printer's hands detached (as its unbound state implies) from a larger miscellany. If on the other hand Skeat simply misspoke, and the misordered portion occupied not one but two quires and a bifolium, following ten similar undisrupted quires, this would imply a manuscript page-format containing about 36 of Thynne's lines, in more plausible single-column format.


While it was my initial hypothesis that a work of this length came to Thynne's hands as a book (even if an unbound one) rather than in a miscellany, the more fundamental question was not its contiguity with other works, but its presumptive internal integrity and format. (In a continuous prose text with catchwords—for as I shall show below, Thynne's source had catchwords—misbound manuscript text seemed unlikely; therefore only an unbound manuscript text could have allowed the disordering of quires by the printer.) Whether I was naive or unjustified in my initial assumption—that double-column format would be an unlikely disposition of a vernacular work of this kind and length, especially as a free-standing text—I must leave to more experienced codicologists to judge. As this essay will suggest, however, the only other format that readily lends itself to explaining the displacement of text in Book III would be a layout much like Thynne's: a double-column page with about 48 lines per column, and hence 192-195 of Thynne's lines per leaf—a layout, in short, much like the large Ellesmere manuscript. (Thynne's format for the Testament is a two-column page of 48 lines, as it is for all other prose works in this large folio edition: Chaucer's Boece, Astrolabe, and the Parson's Tale, for example.) But like other formats I attempted, this one had far less explanatory power in accounting for other features of Thynne's text, so I do not present it schematically here.


Only after deriving a plausible tentative hypothesis about the general format of the manuscript could one examine Thynne's text for signs that implied compression or elision of text in the source manuscript, or any other indication of irregularities of amplitude in scribal hand or usage, especially toward the ends of manuscript quires, and toward the end of the work—a hunch that would eventually prove useful, as did the presumption of scribal abbreviation in the manuscript.


I use the term "initial" for a letter that falls at the beginning of a line of text, and indicates—by larger size, placement within an inset space-block, or different typeface such as bold, or by any combination of these—the beginning of a unit of text; I reserve the term "capital" for letters of whatever typeface that are actually in the upper case of that face. In Thynne, sentences do not always begin with capitals, and sometimes the textface capital is the sole marker of a new unit; see Appendix C. For the distinction, and the complex distinctions it marks in liturgical manuscripts, see Andrew Hughes, Medieval Manuscripts for Mass and Office: A Guide to Their Organization and Terminology (Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press, 1982), p. 103.


This is the general typographic formula for dividing prose that Thynne used, following Caxton, in presenting Chaucer's Boece, and in Treatise on the Astrolabe: in those works, chapters are not numbered, but receive a feature initial (or the space for one; see below), in a feature-block two or three lines in height, and of equal width, integrated into the upper right corner of the text- block. In Chaucer's two free-standing prose works, these subdivisions also have headings: in Boece, there are extensive incipits of the corresponding Latin text; in Astrolabe, sections of text have descriptive headers in English, most of them at least a clause in length. Similarly, the text of the Parson's Tale is divided with topical Latin phrasal headers, "De Ira," "De Invidia," and the like, and the immediately ensuing text occasionally (though not usually) begins with a small feature initial similar to those used in beginning Usk's chapters.


Thynne's text of Usk sometimes runs for more than three double-column pages with no readily visible subdivision apart from the chapter-capitals and/or a one-line space. Because in addition the chapters of Book III are on average about 44 of Thynne's lines longer than those of Book II, and about 40 lines longer than those of Book I (see Appendix A)—and also because, as noted, they present continuous argument that is not only intrinsically difficult, but relatively inert and unpointed rhetorically, in comparison with the exposition of the first two books—it becomes easy to imagine how textual displacement occurred, and remained long unrecognized as such, in the setting of Book III. Facing a manuscript lacking division into units any smaller than the chapter, and without other internal visual signal except infrequent catchwords, the typesetter failed to notice a displaced quire until he had progressed far into setting it. The oversight is still more easily forgiven when one recognizes that for the next three hundred years no other readers seem to have detected it either.


This inference is further supported by the printer's behavior in allocating space and woodblock ornament to the chapter-initials (for a complete list, see Appendix C). Especially in the first two-thirds of the work, he set aside space for large initials, even where he apparently lacked at the outset of the job a sufficiently full array of decorative woodblock letters for the purpose. At three places in Book II— at II.iii (for the initial R), v (W) and x (M)—the printer allocates a block of space 3 lines high and equally wide for a feature initial that never materialized; the letter wanted is indicated by a capital from the text font used as a guide-letter, holding a place for the expected ornamental block in the center of the feature block (in much the same way that guide-letters are lightly inscribed in the space set aside for the later ministrations of the painter or limner in manuscript books). In five other places the printer marks a chapter division by a line-indent of a space one or two letters in width—and also in all but one instance by a preceding space vertically equivalent to one line of type—but the chapter-initial used is merely a capital of the text-font: at I.iv (A), x (F), III.ii (N), iii (T) and iv (H, preceded by no separating vertical spacing). The increased frequency of errors in chapter-divisions in the latter part of the work offers some evidence—to be discussed systematically below—that the ornamental program of the manuscript may have changed a little more than halfway through the work, in such a way that the decorative marking of chapter-initials had become less visually distinctive, even while remaining systematic: once in Book II (where he supplied two erroneous divisions instead of the one correct one) and once in Book III (an instance unnoticed by Skeat and all readers since, as we shall see), within the portion of displaced text, the printer erred in identifying the chapter initial. Yet the fact that the chapter-divisions were with one exception correctly indicated all the way through the displaced portion of text in Book III also suggests that this feature of the manuscript's ordinatio was maintained in some visually distinctive fashion all the way through the text. Where the printer seems to have become confused, I shall suggest, is at points of transition between one decorative code and another in the general program for marking the chapter-initials.


On the diacritical use of acrostics, anagrams, and other signatory or self-referential devices in late-medieval vernacular texts, see my essay "William Langland's 'Kynde Name': Authorial Signature and Social Identity in Late Fourteenth-Century England," in Literary Practice and Social Change in Britain, 1380-1530, ed. Lee Patterson (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1990), pp. 15-82.


Thynne's (or his printer's) manner of resolving his failure to detect the correct capital to represent the chapter head of II.xi, "Every soule of reson hath two thinges of ster. . ."—which in the printed text begins a new sentence without a capital and appears in Thynne without intervening spatial division as line 41 in col. 1 of a verso page—is revealing of what he took to be the relevant signals in his source. It is revealing, too, that he was aware of it at the point of marking off copy, and not at the typesetting stage: having noted that he had missed a signal of chapter-division at a point where he evidently expected one, he took steps to make up the deficiency, using cues he apparently considered normal in the manuscript, and he reproduced these cues with his rectification. He chose as chapter-dividing capitals the letter C that heads f. 348v, col. 1 ("Certayn (qd I) amonge thynges . . .") and the letter T that heads f. 349r, col. 2 ("Trewly lady to you it were a gret . . .")—one letter preceding (by 40 lines) and one following (by 104 lines) the correct chapter initial—thus redividing the two chapters x and xi, as presented in Skeat, into three, and obscuring the acrostic at this point (MCTRCI instead of MERCI). As will be seen in the quiring diagram (Appendix B), in my conjectural reconstruction of the manuscript the letters C and T would also have fallen in page-initial position in Thynne's source (at the head of 1r and 4r of their quire of 8, instead of at the beginning of f. 2v of the quire, where the correct chapter-division would have occurred).


Though it may not be useful to compare presentations of prose and verse texts—and in any case more widely experienced codicologists than I will be able to furnish more apposite comparisons for the book format I conjecture here—I note that this ruling resembles that of the Holloway fragment of Piers Plowman C, and less exactly that of other early C manuscripts; see Ralph Hanna III, "Studies in the Manuscripts of Piers Plowman," Yearbook of Langland Studies 7 (1993), 1-25, esp. 2-5. M. C. Seymour, "The English Manuscripts of Mandeville's Travels," Edinburgh Bibliographical Society Transactions 4, part 55 (1966), 167- 210, describes several manuscript books of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries made in the page-format I conjecture here: between 22 and 28 lines. The page-sizes of these vary from a small 130 x 90 mm, with a ruled text-block of 90 x 55 mm (a 24-line page), to 255 x 180 mm, with a text-block of 180 x 120 mm (a 28-line page); most fall in the range of 210-220 mm high x 140-145 mm wide, with a median text-block size of 145 x 95 mm. These comparisons, while limited in range, at least indicate that the size and arrangement I hypothesize here is not an unusual one for vernacular manuscript books, and was a common one in use for copies of Mandeville's prose work.


It has been conjectured that Thynne's source may have been an autograph; see, for example, Paul Strohm, "Politics and Poetics," p. 105. Compositions showing the author's or compiler's careful spatial planning of text layout are not unknown in the fourteenth century; see, for example Lucy Freeman Sandler, "Omne bonum: Compilatio and Ordinatio in an English Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Fourteenth Century," in Medieval Book Production: Assessing the Evidence, ed. L. L. Brownrigg (Los Altos Hills, Calif.: Anderson-Lovelace, 1990), pp. 183-200; see also discussion below of the implications of the design program of the manuscript.


The amplitude of the hand quire by quire may be calculated by using the figures in Appendices A and B together. This slight but regular change in ratio between the necessarily constant amplitude of the printed text and the average number of manuscript lines and pages that I conjecture it represents might be explained in several ways, some of which must await both a general account of the quiring and my reconstruction of the displacement of text in Book III. One possibility would be a change of scribal hand at Book III or in the latter chapters of Book II, to a second scribe who could fit slightly more text into the same previously ruled page, an explanation which for the moment presupposes what I shall shortly show: these inferable regularities imply forethought in the design of the entire book as a single program and product. For further discussion, see Appendix B, Note on Book III.


This estimate of page size is based not only on the range of page-dimensions for English vernacular prose in books of similar line-ruling, as described by Samuels (above), but also on my own conjectures, based on statistical norms derived from the characteristics and amplitudes of the five professional scribal hands of the early fifteenth century discussed, and shown in actual-size photographic reproduction in the illustrative plates, in A. I. Doyle and M. B. Parkes, "The Production of Copies of The Canterbury Tales and the Confessio Amantis in the Early Fifteenth Century," in Medieval Scribes, Manuscripts, and Libraries: Essays Presented to N. R. Ker, ed. M. B. Parkes and Andrew G. Watson (London: Scolar, 1978), pp. 163-210. Different as these five hands are in individual characteristics, their amplitude—as described by the number of letters on average per horizontal centimeter, combined with the average number of lines of text per vertical centimeter—is remarkably similar. Across all of the illustrative plates, these hands range from about 1.6 to 1.8 lines of text per vertical centimeter, and 4.5-4.85 characters, including spaces, on average per horizontal centimeter, thus suggesting a range of amplitude in the professional text-hands used in vernacular books at the close of the fourteenth century—a range within which, I propose, one might conjecturally approximate a text-block size that would contain some 24-26 of Thynne's lines (which on average contain about 44 characters per line, or about 1056 characters, including spacing and diacritics, per 24 lines). If a conjectured normal page of the manuscript contained 24 to 26.28 lines of Thynne's text, and the scribal hand of Thynne's source were of a size and character similar to those described by Doyle and Parkes, then to contain the same number of characters as this text-module in Thynne, a text-block ruled to contain 24- 27 lines of text would have to be about 100 cm wide (cf. 75 in Thynne), and 135-150 mm high. These dimensions fall in about the middle of the range of those page-formats of 22-28 lines in the Mandeville manuscripts described by Samuels, the dimensions of which in turn suggest for the Usk manuscript a normal layout protocol in which a page-width is about equal to the vertical dimension of the text-block, with a page- height at least one-third larger than the width: i.e. about 210 x 150 mm.


See Appendix B for a general quiring description, and contents by chapter. I propose below a shift in decorative program in the latter half of the work that might further affect both the slightly increased volume of text per page in this part of the text, and also help to account for the printer's errors and other irregularities in indicating chapter divisions correctly, which are also confined to the latter half of the work.


Here Thynne seems to have taken his cues about the bibliographical codes appropriate to the presentation of the Testament from the mise-en-page of his manuscript: the two largest woodblock decorated initials used anywhere in his huge folio volume are assigned to the acrostic capitals of Usk's Prologue (M) and Book II.i (V): ornate capitals seven lines high. For the head-letter of Book I, the acrostic initial to chapter i (A), which begins the next recto page following the Prologue, he uses an initial five lines high—the same size decorative capital he uses to begin Romaunt of the Rose, to head the books of Boece, and as the first letter of the Astrolabe. For the head-letter of Book III, the acrostic initial to chapter i (O), he uses a decorated capital four lines high—the same one, in fact, he had used to begin the Parson's Tale. (For a summary listing of Thynne's treatment of chapter-initials, see Appendix C.) In Books II and III, Usk's first chapter also serves the function of a prologue, not only to its Book, but as an additional general statement of purpose, method, and design of the whole work, amplifying the initial Prologue. In making sure that each of these begins at the head of col. 2 of a recto page, Thynne may have registered this further general prefatory and metapoetic function of these initial chapters, as well as the division of Books—for he did not thus apportion text, for instance, at the book divisions of Boece, which occur in mid- column. In other words, Thynne's care in securing these printerly elegances in disposing major divisions of text may approximate, with the means afforded by his own general mise-en-page for prose works in the volume, those of the manuscript before him, and his sense of the principles of its ordinatio.


For a complete listing of the placement of chapter-initials within the quire in my reconstruction, see Appendix B. In Books I and II, the acrostic chapter-initials fall on a recto page in 15 instances and on a verso page 9 times, while in Book III all chapters but the first begin on a verso page. In the normal quiring I have described, only five (with a sixth possible) of the 34 chapter-initials would fall on the hair-side of a leaf. These apparent exceptions allow further inference about the book's design program; discussion of their implications follows my account of the displaced text in Book III.


The bibliographical implications of these hair-side capitals will be considered more closely below. For the moment, let it suffice to note that the hair-side chapter-capitals, as conjectured from the normal quiring pattern I propose here, would with normal folding and assembly of the quire occur in the two places in the work where large-scale printer error in the segmentation of text also occurs; see Appendix B. In Book III, the first of two chapter-capitals that falls on a hair-side of a leaf is iv (H); it is at the conclusion of that quire, at 76.5 of Thynne's lines into chapter iv, that the first disruption of text occurs—with an erroneously chosen next quire, as we shall shortly see. In Book II, all hair-side chapter-initials would have occurred within the last two full quires of 8, according to the most probable quiring pattern for this Book, between chapters x-xiii; it is for that reason that in Appendix B I suggest a local alteration in the quiring pattern—still regular, but subdividing eights into fours—that would have prevented these occurrences, if the maker of the manuscript book had wished to do so. It was within the first of these two quires that, as Skeat discovered, Thynne failed to identify the chapter break between x and xi, choosing the wrong capitals to denote chapter division, thus reapportioning x and xi as Skeat (correctly) divides them, into three, and obscuring the acrostic at this point (MCTRCI instead of MERCI). The three chapters thus erroneously created were 176, 144.5, and 72 lines long, instead of the 216 and 175 lines of the correct two-chapter division of these 391 lines of text; it should be noted at this point that both divisions of this body of text—Thynne's as well as the correct one—share a factor of 24, plus or minus less than one of Thynne's lines, for each unit. At least as significant as their length, however, for understanding the error of Thynne (or that of his printer Thomas Godfrey) in the chapter division of Book II is the position within its quire of the one chapter signal the printer missed: that of chapter xi (E), which would have occurred either on f. 2v or f. 6v of its quire (see Appendix B.) Thus far in the manuscript this is an unusual position for a chapter division. By this point in the work Thynne had good reason to expect divisions to occur on ff. 1 or 5, on a recto page, or failing all these, a flesh side of the leaf. Thynne's solution to the problem—to choose instead chapter-division initials, C and T, that headed recto pages of the first and fourth (or in an alternative quiring the fifth and eighth) leaves of their quire—shows his understanding of the norms of his source so far.


The following is keyed to Thynne's text (Th), and followed by the location of the segment in the Skeat edition (Sk):

DS 1 (420.5 Th-lines): Th f. 354r, col. 2, l. 11: "fole have I not sayd . . ." (Sk III.vii.94f, p. 135), through Th f. 356v, col. 1, ll. 4-5 "syth god is Þe greatest love and the" (Sk III.ix.46, p. 143).

DS 2 (88 Th-lines): Th f. 356v, col. 1, l. 5 "ne ought to loke thynges . . ." (Sk, p. 131), through Th f. 356v, col 2, l. 44: "blysse in thynkyng of that knotte." (Sk, p. 132) [ends chapter in Th and Sk].

DS 3 (194.5 Th-lines): Th f. 356v, col. 2, l. 46 "Nowe trewly lady I have my grounde . . ." (Sk III.v.8, p. 124) [begins chapter in Th and in my reconstruction, where it heads my chapter 6], through Th f. 357v, col. 2, l. 48 "the wexyng tre of whiche ye first meved." (Sk III.v.157-158, p. 128) [ends chapter and leaf in Th, chapter v in Sk, chapter 6 in my reconstruction].

DS 4 (120.5 Th-lines): Th f. 358r, col. 1, l. 1 "Very trouth (qd she) hast thou nowe . . ." (Sk III.vii.1, p. 132), through Th f. 357v, col. 1, l. 25 ". . . shal bringe out frute that is" (Sk III.vii.94, p. 135).

DS 5 (286 Th-lines): Th f. 357v, col. 1, ll. 25-26 "nothyng preterit ne passed . . ." (Sk. III.iv. 56, p. 118), through Th f. 360r, col. 1, l. 24 ". . . ioy euer to onbyde." (Sk III.v.7, p. 124).

DS 6 (128 Th-lines): Th f. 360r, col. 1, ll. 24-25 "Nowe lady (qd I) that tree to set fayne wolde I lerne." (Sk, p. 128), through Th f. 360v, col. 2, l. 9 ". . . & yet al=way use ye" (Sk, pp. 130-131).


While the difference between these three quires in the total number of Thynne's lines each contains is marked, even the greatest disparity, that between s and t, represents a difference per page of less than 1.1 line (an average of 26.28 of Thynne's lines per page in quire t, as against 25.375 Th-lines per page in the preceding quire). Moreover, since quire t had on average the highest density of Th-lines per page in the manuscript, exceeding the next highest, quire r (25.88) by 0.4 Th-lines, it may represent the scribe's effort—in the event unsuccessful—to make the final full quire contain all, or nearly all, of the remaining text. In fact 80.6 Th-lines of text were left over, which in the manuscript required three of four sides of a final bifolium; similarly, Thynne's text overflowed the end of a quire by one full two-column leaf plus one full column. As will be seen below, Thynne could have contained all but this last column of the Testament in the six full quires he allotted to it, had he eschewed the unusual full-leaf framed title page he chose to use to begin the work—but this choice evidently was meaningful to him; see below for the implications of Thynne's efficiency in marking off his copy, and implications of his choices of layout format for understanding the ordinatio of the lost manuscript.


I use //* to mark the point of juncture between the last lines of continuous text of III.iv at the end of the quire and the beginning of the wrongly chosen quire t (i.e. DS 1). The single slash / represents the mark Thynne uses in setting Usk's prose in type. Since he seems to use it somewhat more liberally in printing the Testament than he does in any of Chaucer's prose texts—Melibee, the Parson's Tale, or the Boethius translation—it may have been a feature of his source manuscript; its occurrence in these texts warrants more systematic study. It appears to represent the punctus elevatus, identifying clausal boundaries according to rhetorical and performative rather than grammatico-logical principles. As a diacritic originally used in monastic and liturgical texts, and adopted into more general use in the later middle ages, it may register both Usk's sense of Love's discourse as "song," and his representation of his vocation and composition as secular counterparts to performed devotional service. On the origins and use of the punctus elevatus, see M. B. Parkes, Pause and Effect: Punctuation in the West (Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univ. of California Press, 1993), pp. 69-73, 153, 306.


The word "preterit" was of course chiefly a term from grammatical discourse (as in this context was its companion term, which may possibly have been spelled "past(e)" in the manuscript and expanded by the printer as "passed") and would have been relatively unfamiliar to a non-clerical textworker in the sixteenth century. The strangeness of the term, in a discourse that is properly about time considered metaphysically or theoretically, not as the medium of historical events, would have added to the potential for error in the printing shop at this juncture; this offers another of many occasions on which local discursive estrangement produced large-scale mechanical consequences.


Thynne's text throughout this section makes it certain that some abbreviations of this sort appeared in his source—and that he did not always expand them correctly; see for example the two different renderings of "instrument" in the following passage, both of them representing a tilde-n abbreviation, elided either by the printer in expansion, or by the manuscript's scribe in transcribing the text before him. Because this passage also illustrates succinctly how discursive estrangement generates desperate mechanical correction, both by Thynne and by Skeat, I cite it fully here; it occurs at the other major point of disjuncture in Book III, between DS 6 and 2 (i.e. between my quires r and s). The disjunct lines as they appear in Thynne, here reconnected (with *//* representing the suture, and italics indicating my expansion of the abbreviation Thynne uses and presumably found in his copy text and retained), read:

This istrument [sic] may
ben had/ although affect & usage be left out of
doyng/ right as ye have sight & reson, and yet al=
way use ye *//* ne ought to loke thynges with resonnyng
to prove/ and so is instrumet [sic] of wyl/ wyl: and
yet varyeth he from effect & vsing bothe.

(f. 360v, col. 2, ll. 6-9 *//* f. 356v, col. 1, ll. 5-7)

This is the sort of thing that has fostered Usk's reputation for tortuous and turgid prose, with only partial and uncontextualized justice. Skeat emends "ne ought" to "[nat]" (correctly, in my judgment) but introduces a comma after "loke," followed by an unnecessary "[ne]" before "thynges," which together vitiate the ME sense of "loke" operative here (i.e "undertake," "set about" [to do something]), and hence of the whole clause, by making the only semantically possible sense of "look" in the emended construction "behold, gaze"—which is surely incorrect in this explanatory context. The sense of the passage, all of it translated from Anselm's De Concordia III.11, is: "The instrument may be possessed, even when its 'affect' (here affection or inclination) and usage are not operative: just as you have [the faculties of] sight and reason, yet you do not always put these to use by undertaking to prove things by the use of reason; so likewise the instrument-of-willing is will, yet it differs both from the effect (i.e. inclination or 'affection') and the use of the will." My own understanding of the Anselmian texts has been greatly assisted by the English translation in Anselm of Canterbury, vol. 2: Philosophical Fragments, ed. and transl. Jasper Hopkins and Herbert Richardson (Toronto: Edwin Mellen Press, 1976).


While editorial emendation, to say nothing of a systematic rationale for it that would be required for editing, is entirely beyond the scope of the present essay, occasional "hit-and-run" identification of erroneous transcription, whether by Skeat of Thynne, or (conjecturally) of errors by the printer in reading his copy, offers useful glimpses of features of the absent manuscript. In line 244, "his" should almost certainly be emended to "hir" to give correct sense: "therof take hir [i.e. their] being"; the referent is "things" which take their being from God. Here, it would appear, scribal r has apparently been misidentified by the printer as long-s. I would eliminate Skeat's addition of [god] as an emendation in this passage; the only correction necessary here is in word-division, thus "sithen that al thing thus be forn-wot" (Th: "sythen that al thyng thus be forne wot"; word-division in Thynne here and frequently is somewhat ambiguous)—i.e. since all things thus are foreknown. Though this further correction has no direct bearing on the present argument, it illustrates Skeat's presumption that the discussion of foreknowledge and free will is in Usk's hands more theologically centered than in fact it is; Skeat was, however, unaware of Usk's source, which here he follows very closely.


Similarly, at the transition discussed above at the end of Usk's chapter 5, after Love has expounded the "grounde" and proceeds to gratify "Usk's" second request, expressed at the beginning of chapter 6, to learn more of the "tree," she once again commands him to "take good hede to the wordes." Her injunction signals Usk's return to his Latin source, to resume direct translation from De Concordia—there from Book III, chapter 6. As has been noticed, Usk's "wexing tree" is rooted in an analogy expounded in that chapter, which Usk elaborates; see Lucy Lewis, "Langland's Tree of Charity and Usk's 'Wexing Tree'" (cited above). Lewis is chiefly concerned to disprove the widely repeated view that Usk is indebted to Langland for this elaborate tree metaphor; she does not consider—nor will I here, though I believe the question may be worth opening—the possibility of mutual influence between the two writers in developing a complex analogical figure that does considerable conceptual work for both, though with different emphases and results for each. More apposite to the present inquiry is Usk's elaborate yet evasive marking of his textual debts, through the disposition of his fictive dialogue—an internal indication of the ordinatio, and informing "literary theory" of his work. Another example, heralding Usk's use of a different source (thus far unidentified, but almost certainly Latin verse), occurs at the head of II.ii:

In this mene whyle this comfortable lady gan singe a wonder mater of endytinge in Latin; but trewely, the noble colours in rethorik wyse knitte were so craftely, that my conning wol not strecche to remembre; but the sentence, I trowe, somdel have I in mynde. Certes, they were wonder swete of sowne, and they were touched al in lamentacion wyse, and by no werbles of myrthe. Lo! thus gan she singe in Latin, as I may constrewe it in our Englisshe tonge.

(II.ii.1-8; Skeat p. 49)

This unusual explicitness in marking (some, not all) of his literary indebtedness differs from the procedures of both Langland and Chaucer, and warrants attention in its own right as an aspect of Usk's "literary theory."


Usk's one noteworthy departure from his source in this long stretch of continuous translation illustrates the extreme care and wit with which he adapted his Latin sources throughout, and bears comparison with his handling of examples in Boethius in the first two books. As Skeat notes, at several points Usk replaces a political or moral anecdote drawn by Boethius from Roman history with one of comparable antiquity and exemplarity from British history: Hengist, King John, "Henry Curtmantil." In bending Anselm to his purpose, however, Usk pointedly avoids rather than invites national or contemporary application with his choice of illustrative instance. At the beginning of De Concordia I.3, Anselm offers two cases to explicate the distinction between absolute and conditional necessity in statements of futurity. For the former, Anselm uses (as does Boethius) the traditional example of the sunrise: if I say that the sunrise will occur tomorrow, it does so by necessity. Anselm's example of contingent necessity, however, may have seemed an all-too-modern instance, best avoided in the years following not only 1381, but, still closer to home, Usk's role in London unrest over rival factions and mayors: ". . . if I say, 'Tomorrow there will be an insurrection among the people' it is not the case that the insurrection will occur by necessity." Perhaps not, but it seemed to Usk prudent to replace this Anselmian example of future contingency: "For if I say, 'tomorowe love is comming in this Margarites herte,' nat therfore thorow necessite shal the ilke love be . . ." (III.iii.166-168; Skeat p. 115). Usk makes sure that no unpleasant aura of recent history clings to his high-minded philosophical account of ideal affinity; his "British" past is adorned by the decent patina of age.


Much discussion of this "florid compliment" (Bradley, Athenaeum, 184 [see n. 3 above]) has emphasized its supposedly clumsy placement in the work: it is "introduced in an awkward manner which suggests that it was written for a special purpose" (Bradley, DNB, 20.61). Since it has heretofore seemed so patently "dragged in," at the end of a chapter and apparently without contextual prompt, its purely ingratiatory motives have been considered all too plain, and entirely to Usk's discredit. It has further been inferred from this placement as a purported afterthought that the response of any right-thinking contemporary of Usk to such sycophantic praise is a foregone conclusion: "We may be pretty sure that Usk's praise occasioned Chaucer much more embarrassment than pleasure." This reading of Usk's motives, and of his contemporaries' likely reading of them, in turn shapes the interpretation of Gower's compliment to Chaucer in much the same terms as Usk's. When at the end of Confessio Amantis (*2941-57) Gower's Venus bids Amans farewell and sends her greetings back to Chaucer ("as mi disciple and mi poete"), with the exhortation that the latter should forthwith "make his testament of love" we are asked to regard this allusion as to Usk's discredit, through which Gower "playfully" "quizz[ed] the poet about his disreputable admirer" (Bradley, Athenaeum). This entire chain of inferences admits of radically different possibilities—for example, that Gower, in all his works a self-proclaimed devotee of love as a bond of virtuous civil affinity, genuinely admired the Testament, and that the removal of this passage in the later redactions of the Confessio marked, not a changed relation of Gower to Chaucer, but a shared averting of the eyes in sorrow at the brutal end of a fellow man of letters (the tiny joke in "So that mi Court it mai recorde" [*2957] acknowledges, without rancor and with some affection, Usk's self-presentation in the Testament as scrivener of Love). And more: that Gower not only admired the Testament but understood it, as a serious engagement with their common and precarious condition as men of letters—with, that is, the ethical quandaries concerning how the will's real commitments can be understood, where literary ambition, personal integrity, an ideal of service, and social-political dependence intersect—and that he commended it as such to a fellow-poet who appeared of late at a standstill in his own art, having lately begun, and not yet finished, yet another May-morning love-vision in a too familiar mode. And yet more: that Usk's compliment to Chaucer is purposeful in terms of the Testament's own literary project, and Usk's self-created role in this work as in the first instance a literary rather than political aspirant, and no more (and no less) a plea for notice and intercession than Chaucer's tonally complex "Envoy to Scogan," which has not caused similar embarrassment about or on behalf of Chaucer in modern critical accounts.


It may have had the further advantage of keeping the exposition distinct from Christian theology as such—that is, solidly in the decorously and safely "classicizing" discursive realm so carefully maintained by the rest of Usk's small changes in his Boethian model, and firmly within the realm of civil rather than divine philosophy. It is beyond the scope of the present essay to devote to this Chaucer compliment the analytic attention it deserves; one point, however, has some bearing on this argument, for it concerns the textual genre with which Usk allies Troilus, and with which he wishes the Testament to be associated—and also the literary register with which Thynne evidently associated Usk's text: that of idealized "love"-discourse. Usk's tribute honors Chaucer's "witte and good reson of sentence," his "noble sayinges" and "gentil manliche speche, without any maner of nycete of storiers imaginacion"—that is, his seriousness as a moral philosopher and his diplomatic eloquence, not narrative invention, and not "sentement." These, in Usk's view, are the distinctive excellences of the "tretis" of Troilus; the "love" Troilus serves, and which he invokes in the speech to which Usk refers explicitly in this tribute, is a Boethian strength and refinement of commitment identified by Usk as a civil, not a private, virtue and "affection." Usk here plainly identifies the Love expounded in the Testament as the same literary commodity that engages the sustained philosophical interest of both Gower and Chaucer in the very years in which Usk was writing: not as an occasion for witty Petrarchan oxymoron ("the usual ridiculous contradictions"—Skeat, p. 481), but a code in which to converse about the theory and practice of political and social ethics, in shared writerly circumstances that combine verbal articulateness and sociopolitical dependence. It tells us much about how Usk reads Troilus, and how we should read him. For excellent and apposite accounts of "love" within coded political and literary discourse generally in the Ricardian era, see Patricia J. Eberle, "The Politics of Courtly Style at the Court of Richard II," in The Spirit of the Court, ed. Glyn S. Burgess and Robert A. Taylor (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1985), pp. 168-178, and Lee Patterson, "Court Politics and the Invention of Literature," in Culture and History, 1350-1600, ed David Aers (London: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1992), pp. 7-41; for an account of Usk's relation to Chaucer in this vein, see David R. Carlson, "Chaucer's Boethius and Thomas Usk's Testament of Love: Politics and Love in the Chaucerian Tradition," in The Center and Its Compass: Studies in Medieval Literature in Honor of Professor John Leyerle, ed. Robert A. Taylor, James F. Burke, Patricia J. Eberle, Ian Lancashire, and Brian S. Merrilees, Studies in Medieval Culture 33 (Kalamazoo: Western Michigan Univ., 1993), pp. 29-70. The continued transmutation of this broadly coded discourse of courtship, dependency, and the quest for patronage under the guise of the amatory has also been widely discussed by scholars of sixteenth- century literature; it may have some bearing on how Thynne regarded Usk's text in assimilating it as Chauceriana; see, for example, Arthur F. Marotti, "Love Is Not Love: Elizabethan Sonnet Sequences and the Social Order," ELH 49 (1982), 396-428.


Even with this redivision III.iv is still the longest chapter in the work (though not so long as Skeat's division makes it): longer by nearly 50 lines than any other chapter in Book III, and exceeding by over 30 lines the next-longest ( This lack of visual segmentation in the manuscript for very long stretches, together with the lowering of the ornamental level of the acrostic initials in the third book (proposed below) may have further increased the likelihood of misdivision of chapters.


Kathryn Kerby-Fulton reads this remark as a way of telegraphing to a coterie audience the kind of insider's appeal, reception, and appreciation Usk sought for his work; from this and many other such elusive cross-references and intersections of the occupations and avocations of men of letters, she demonstrates the existence of a capacious and lively culture of reading and writing, and mutual commentary, in late fourteenth-century London. See Kathryn Kerby-Fulton and Steven Justice, "Langlandian Reading Circles and the Civil Service in London and Dublin, 1380-1427," New Medieval Literatures 1 (1997), 59-83; for the resemblances among several forms of literary self-exegesis and poetic "autobiography" in this period, see also her essay "Langland and the Bibliographic Ego," in Written Work: Langland, Labor, and Authorship, ed. Steven Justice and Kathryn Kerby-Fulton (Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 1997), pp. 67-143.


It seems significant that Godfrey began to misidentify chapter-divisions just past this point in the work, a mistake possibly compounded by the fact that the later chapters of Book II are of more irregular lengths than the norm to that point: they either occupy an odd number of pages, causing more frequent verso chapter-divisions, or they are shorter than the norm heretofore, or both. In any event, by Book III, the printer seems to have reoriented himself to the revised program for indicating chapter-initials: despite the fact that all acrostic initials but the first in Book III occur on the verso of a leaf, the printer misidentified only one of them in that Book (and Skeat followed the error). It should also be noted here that the only two almost certain exceptions to the general "rule" that chapter-initials fall in the upper left corner of the page occur in quires s and t. In both, the first chapter-initial of the quire falls after more than three full sides of text, but less than four full pages: the sixth chapter of Book III begins 88 Th-lines into the quire; the eighth, 91 Th-lines into its quire, implying that both the N of THIN and the S of VSK may have occurred halfway down a verso flesh side (f. 2v of the quire in both cases). This irregularity (in both cases made up with the following chapter-initial, which would have occurred in normal page-initial position) lends itself to various interpretations; see Appendix B.


Except for the first letter of Book III, the initial at the head of II.x (shortly after which the printer first misses the correct chapter- division)—the M of MERCI—is the last in the work to be allotted by the printer more than a 2-line high bold initial: there, as at two earlier points in Book II (chapters iii and v, the R and W of VIRTW) he allocates a block of space for an ornamental letter three lines high, which never appeared. A further lowering of the level of ornament is marked in his disposition of initials in Book III: after the ornamental woodblock letter that heads this Book, the next three chapter-initials—i.e. all three chapter-heads that preceded the dislocation of quires—are merely textface capitals, indented a space or two from the margin and separated from the preceding chapter either by spacing or by hanging- indented text at the end of the preceding chapter. Within the disordered quires, chapters are indicated only by two-line-high inset bold initials, and in the last quire set by the printer (which should have followed at the point of initial disruption) the first chapter-division (that of the fifth chapter) is, as we have seen, misplaced—deferred by 40 lines, though to another point that provides an I as chapter-head. If his lack of a sufficient range of decorative large initials was the printer's sole reason for resorting to textface capitals or the plain two-line-high bold initials that predominate in the last half of the text, one would have expected a more random distribution of these replacements; it seems more reasonable to infer that the manuscript ordinatio guided his choices to some degree.


One might call its dimension and folding a "late-medieval octavo," though that terminology is used more commonly in the parlance of print bibliography. For the application of similar shorthand, the "late-medieval quarto," to the vernacular-book layout containing some 35-40 lines per page, and a page dimension of about 11 1/4" x 7 3/4", see Ralph Hanna, "The Manuscripts and Transmission of Chaucer's Troilus," originally published in The Idea of Medieval Literature: New Essays . . . in Honor of Donald R. Howard, ed. James M. Dean and Christian K. Zacher (Newark, Del.: Univ. of Delaware Press, 1992), pp. 173-188; I cite it from its slightly revised form in Hanna, Pursuing History: Middle English Manuscripts and Their Texts (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1996), pp. 115-129 (p. 117).


In an essay on Thomas Usk and Adam Usk—"Private Selves and the Intellectual Marketplace in Late Fourteenth-Century England: The Case of the Two Usks, New Literary History 28 (1997), 291-318—Andrew Galloway discusses Thomas Usk's use of Higden in the Testament in his own strategems of self-presentation. I am grateful to him for allowing me to see this essay in manuscript, and also for a personal communication (discussed in the following note) on the mise-en-page of acrostic letters in Usk manuscripts.


Andrew Galloway, personal communication. He refers here to Higden's autograph manuscript of the Polychronicon, Huntington Library MS 132, which "shows Higden's late alterations and additions including some to the acrostic." Galloway observes, however, that in this manuscript "when Higden alters his acrostic from its previous version, inserting his Christian name 'frater Ranulphus' after 'compilavit' and before 'Cestrensis,' the new acrostic initials do tend to fall at the tops of pages." On the other hand, he adds, this effect may be "just coincidence," and would require further study of whether there were changes in the chapter-divisions as Higden revised. My thanks to Andrew Galloway for sharing his research on Higden with me; inferences from it are of course solely mine.


There is some likelihood that this remark also adverts to Usk's sporadic use of rhythmic, but non-alliterating, prose in clausulae: working "three wordes togidre," or variants of this phrase, are common in the alliterative verse corpus for distinguishing this poetic practice from mere clausal rhythm as adornment, and specifying what makes it formal verse; see Ralph Hanna, "Alliterative Poetry," in The Cambridge History of Medieval English Literature, ed. David Wallace (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, forthcoming 1998). Usk's self-awareness about this form of "art-prose," and his apparent sense that it was a rough English equivalent to the metra of Boethius as an ornament and elevation of philosophic exposition, warrants much further study; here it should only be noted that it occurs chiefly in those portions of the Testament that most closely imitate the organization and style of the Consolatio, rather than in Usk's adaptation of Anselm in Book III.


See Hughes, pp. 103-107.


The phrase "near-professional" is that of Paul Strohm ("Textual Environment," p. 159), who discusses Usk's many-sided textual and performative competences in this connection; the account of Usk's repertory of devotions at the place of execution is that of the Monk of Westminster: The Westminster Chronicle 1381-1394, ed. and trans. L. C. Hector and Barbara F. Harvey (Oxford: Clarendon, 1982), pp. 314-315. For this and other observations on the "reading and singing" repertoire, I am greatly indebted to Katherine Zieman, whose Ph.D. dissertation ("Reading and Singing: Liturgy, Literacy, and Literature in Late Medieval England"; Univ. of California, Berkeley, 1997) discusses the relations of this repertoire to the framing of literary and other textworkers' arts and vocation in this period.


Most recently and cogently by Kathryn Kerby-Fulton and Steven Justice ("Langlandian Reading Circles," n. 38 above).


Usk retrospectively compares the modes of the three books of the work to the three ages of the world: Book I parallels the time of Deviation (from the Fall to the Redemption, analogous to his own fictively narrated political mishaps), Book II the time of Grace, which offers the "true way in fordoinge of the badde" (i.e. constant service to the "Margarete"), Book III a prophetic hope of "rest" in a time of "joye" (see III.i; Skeat pp. 101-102).


On the place of the Old Testament canticles, as well as the Magnificat, in the Psalter, see John A. Alford, "Rolle's English Psalter and Lectio Divina," Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 77 (1995), 47-59.


Andrew Prescott reports to me (oral communication, May 8, 1997) that his reinspection of the Usk appeal in its situation among the records that led to the actions taken against Northampton and his followers suggests that this document is indeed, as it states, in Usk's "owne honde." I hope soon to inspect a photograph of this document, with a view to the possibility of ascertaining whether any of the more systematic mistakes in Thynne's construing of the lost manuscript could be attributable to any equally systematic habits in that hand. This exercise, however, would require a far more minute examination of the entire Thynne text—and in effect a trial act of re-editing it in its entirety—which I have not yet ventured, since at least one new edition of the text is shortly to be published.


Future study of the text of the Testament in this connection should probably attend to the size of the text-modules drawn from known sources, and the amplitudes of the "bridgework" between them: the opening segment of III.5, for example, which includes Usk's elaborate compliment to Chaucer and also forms a transition between two large segments of more direct and continuous translation, from Anselm's Book I to Book III, is exactly 48 Th-lines long, equivalent in this manuscript to both sides of one full leaf. In other words, it may be possible to infer from closer study of the material text how Usk built his work, much as it is a matter of substantial interest that Langland's C-version additions are almost all in modules of about 100 lines; see Ralph Hanna, "On the Versions of Piers Plowman," in Pursuing History, pp. 201-243, esp. 239.


See Sandler, "Omne bonum," cited in n. 20 above.


See my essay "Acts of Vagrancy: The C Version 'Autobiography' and the Statute of 1388," in Written Work: Langland, Labor, and Authorship, ed. Steven Justice and Kathryn Kerby-Fulton (Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 1997), pp. 208- 317.


On Thynne's search for further Chauceriana, and the intersections of his efforts with both his own royal service and the activities of other contemporary printers, see Blodgett, "William Thynne" (cited in n. 6 above), passim.


Besides his lavish use of large woodblock capitals, on a scale otherwise unequalled in this large volume, Thynne used other bibliographical codes to register the pretensions of his source manuscript. For example, he also allotted to the Testament a full- page woodblock-framed title (f. 324r, with the verso left blank; the text of the Testament begins on f. 325r). This same title-frame is used in only six other places in Thynne's edition: at the head of Troilus, Romaunt of the Rose, Boece, and as the title-page of the book itself; in each of these places it begins a new quire, as it does at the beginning of the Testament. The other two full-page titles using this same woodcut as frame occur in mid-quire, marking a significant spacing between shorter verse works (at f. 285r, the third leaf of quire 3D, with the verso blank, it frames the title Thynne gives to the "Complaint unto Pity": Howe pite is ded and beried in a gentyll hert), or to mark a division between a sequence of shorter verse works and a longer prose work (at f. 298v, the fourth leaf of quire 3F, it occupies the verso of the last page of the Assembly of Ladies, framing the title The conclusions of the Astrolabie, and allows the prose text to begin on the facing recto page). Since the Testament in Thynne fills six folio quires of 6 (3L-3Q, ff. 324r-359v), plus both sides of one more leaf and col. 1 of the next (3R: ff. 360r-361r, col.1), it must have been obvious in the marking-off of copy that without the full-leaf framed title the work would fit into exactly six quires with only one column left over—yet the printer accorded it the rare honor of its own title page. While other considerations may also have entered into the printer's disposition of his material, it seems likely from this combination of visual codes that the decorated capitals in his source—or the generous provision of space for them there—together with general signs of comprehensive and skillful planning of the manuscript's text space signalled to Thynne that this was a text with some pretensions as a work of bookmaking art, to be taken at its word—or letters. Blodgett notes that this frame was printed from a woodcut lent to Thomas Godfrey, Thynne's printer, by its owner Thomas Berthelet, the king's printer from 1530 to 1547, whose edition of Gower's Confessio Amantis was published in 1532, the same year as Thynne's massive Chaucer; see his chapter "William Thynne" (cited in n. 6 above), p. 51; for discussion of the relations between Thynne and Berthelet see also Fisher, John Gower, pp. 12-18, esp. his note 32 (see n. 4 above). If, as both suggest, there was at least a professional friendship between Thynne and Berthelet, then their combined efforts in assembling materials for their respective editions probably cast a rather wide net in gathering literary remains from the era of both Chaucer and Gower. If the lost manuscript of the Testament came to light during these efforts by either editor, its preservation in these associations would have led to its identification as a valued piece of Chauceriana, and its elegant presentation format as a book could only have encouraged Thynne's inference that it was esteemed in those circles.


The account of the work that I propose here owes much to the methods and approach of Michael Baxandall, in addressing the relations between historically specific professional and craft-skills and the similarly situated terms of aesthetic description, appreciation, and evaluation of the exercise of these skills, and their products. See, for example, his Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1972), and Giotto and the Orators (Oxford: Clarendon, 1971); on some of the implications of this approach in relation to those of both social and intellectual history and philology, see also Svetlana Alpers, "Is Art History?" Daedalus (Summer 1977), 1-13.