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(11)-Melodie, yhe. By the theory stated (p. 86) the e is absorbed in the long accented i of ie. The first word


then would be (mel·edii) or (melodii) and the second, (ignoring the h)



(12)-Here. This word is by general consent a monosyllable in Chaucer.

(13)-Thanne. By theory (p. 90) this word = than = (dhan.) (14)-Straunge. This word seems to be exceptional and to be read (straaendzh'e). The Lansdowne MS. has straungere with the final e silent.

(15)-Ferne. An exceptional instance. Norman usage would, however, allow of its being read with the e elided before h, but Dr. Morris's conjecture that ferne = ferrene (cf. "of ferrene londe," Lay. 5328), enables us to read the line thus :—

(Te fer en or fern Haluu'es kuuth in sun'dri lond-es).

(16)-Ende, wende. See p. 92, for the reason why ende, wende, (end, wend).

may =

(17)—Seeke, seeke. Neither word is entitled to exceptional treatment. Each may therefore be = (seek). (18)-Were. This word, like here (No. 12), is scarcely ever a dissyllable in Chaucer.

We have here in all 26 instances, excluding those in brackets, of final e, of which six are silent by elision before a vowel, or hath; and of the remaining 20 all except swete, zonge, smale, straunge, and perhaps ferne, are accounted for, more or less satisfactorily, by applying the tests adopted. It would hence appear that, taking these 18 lines as a sample of the whole of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, a large majority of the final e's were not necessarily sounded by the readers of the Harleian MS. 7334. This conclusion, founded on external arguments, might, however, be modified when tested further by Chaucer's own practice, should we ever be able to distinguish it from that of the various Chaucerian scribes.

There seems then some reason to believe that the utterance of final e was in Chaucer's verse the exception, its silence

the rule, and that orthoepical superseded, when thought necessary or advisable, even grammatical considerations.

On the whole, then, it appears that, unless when required by the exigencies of the composition—and then exceptional usage was freely allowed-the evidence before us fails to show that the final e was ordinarily pronounced in English verse of the 14th century, while on the other hand there is a strong presumption that in the majority of instances it may have been silent.

Finally, it may be observed, that the uniformity of Norman pronunciation all over England in the 14th century, as attested by Trevisa,1 and the growing tendency at that time among Anglo-Norman writers to treat their final e as phonetically insignificant, may have had a considerable influence (as Mr. Skeat has suggested) in reducing the English final e to silence.

The principle which it was intended to maintain throughout this paper, namely, that the Norman and English pronunciation of the 13th and 14th centuries was substantially the same, and that they illustrate each other, has now, it is submitted, been in a general way made good.

The apologies which I owe my fellow members for the numerous errors which I am afraid may be found in the details of this long dissertation, I beg, in conclusion, to present in the words of an old Anglo-Norman poet :

Ore pri chescun qui lit e ot
Ciste treite, sen aucun mot
Mesprein, kil lamender voile ;

Kar nest hom ki ne sumoile.

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1 "Hyt semep a gret wondur hou; Englysch þat ys be burb-tonge of Englyschemen, and here oune longage and tonge ys so dyvers of soon (sound) in pis ylond, and be longage of Normandy ys comlying (a stranger) of ano per lond and hap on manere soon among all men pat spekep hyt aryzt in Engelond." Trevisa. (Morris's "Specimens, p. 339).

2 See his interesting Essay on Chaucer's versification (prefixed to the Aldine edition of Chaucer, Vol. I.), in which he confirms Price's theory respecting the "orthoepic" character of the final e in such words as bore, bone, fyre, etc., and also contends for the quiescence of the final e in a majority of the words derived from the Norman.




From "Specimens of Lyric Poetry," collated with Harleian MS. 2253.

Amour de femme moun cuer entame,

de fere un poy enveysure,

Pur sauver femme de tote blame, chescun devereit mettre cure;

Pur lamour de une dame,

que tot le mound en terre honure, Que femme esclaundre e met en fame ne vint unqe de bone nature; a veyr dyre,

Qui de femme dit vileynie, certes sa bouche empyre.

Beaute de femme passe rose,

qi le vodera bien iuger

En mounde n'i a si douce chose,
en leaute pur bien amer.
Mes je certes bien dire le ose,
e si mestier soit prover,
Qe maveste qe en taus repose,
fet sovent femme des oils lermer,
a tort,

Qy femme dampne par tresoun
certes sa noreture dort.

amuur de feem muun kuur entaam⚫

de feer uun puu en vesuur
puur sauver feem de tuute blaam
tsheskun devreet metre kuur
puur lamuur duun'e daam

ke tuut le muund en teer onuur*
ke feem esklaan·dre met en faam
ne viint uunk'e de bun nætuur.
a veer diir

ki de feem diit vilenii
sertes sa buutsh empiir

betee de feeme pas e ros

ki le vudra ben dzhedzheer. en muund ni a si duus e tshos en letee puur ben ameer mees dzhe seertes ben diir'e los e si mesteer seet proveer

ke mavestee keen faus repos

feet sevent feem dees uuls lermeer. a tort

ki feem'e daam ne par tresuun

sertes sa nǝrtur dǝrt.


(The beginning of Pierre de Langtoft's Chronicle, from Cottonian MS.,

Deus le tot pussaunt,

ke ceel e terre crea,

Adam nostre pere
homme de terre fourma,
Naturaument purvyst
quant il ordina

Ke homme de terre venuz

en terre revertira, Cil Deu ly beneye ke ben escotera

Coment Engleterre

primes comenza,

E pur quai primes

Bretaygne homme lapela.

Julius A. v.)

duus le tuut pesaaent
ke seel e teer crea
adam nostre peer
om de teer forma
natǝr aument parviist
kaaent iil ordina
kom de teer venuus
en teer rever tira.
ciil duu lii benee

ke ben esku tera⚫
koment Engletǝer
prii mes komensa⚫
e puur kee primes
Breteen om la pela

1 The original text is in long lines of eleven or twelve syllables. It is here

divided at the pause for convenience of printing.


(The beginning of the "Owl and the Nightingale," from Cottonian MS.

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(The beginning of the Prologue to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, from
Harleian MS. 7334.)

Whan that Aprille with his schowres

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whan dhat apriil | with -is shuur es swoot

dhe druut of martsh | Hath pers'ed te dhe root

and baadh ed ev'ri veen | in switsh likuur.

of whitsh vertuu | endzhen dred is dhe fluur.

whan Zefiruus | eek with -is sweet'e breeth

enspiired Hath | in evri Holt and Heeth

dhe ten der kropes | and dhe Juqe sun

Hath in dhe Ram | -is Half kuurs ¿run

and smaale fuul es | maak en melodii dhat sleep en al dhe niit | with oop en ii soo prik eth -em nætuurin hər keraadzh'es

dhan loquen folk | te goon on pilgri maadzh.es.

and palmers for te seek en straaendzh'e strond'es

to fern Haluues | kuuth in sun dri lond⚫es

and spesialii | from ev'ri shiires end of Engelond to Kanterberi | dhee wend

dhu Hoo'li blis ful marter | for te seek dhat Hem Hath Holpen | whan dhat dhee wer seek.

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