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LONDON, SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 1868.
MSS. of Langland's "Piers Plowman," 433Sir Thomas Overbury's "Wife": Collation of an Early MS., 434 Archbishop Parker's Consecration as recorded in Machyn's Diary, 435 - William Fraser, &c., 436
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Deadly - Jingo-ring-Shoe-throwing at Wed
MSS. OF LANGLAND'S "PIERS PLOWMAN."
As some account has lately been given of the MSS. of Chaucer in the pages of "N. & Q.," perhaps it may be useful to give a fuller and better enumeration of the numerous MSS. of Piers Plowman than has hitherto appeared in print.
The MSS. are of three classes (which I call A, B, and C), exhibiting three distinct versions of the poem, all executed, as the internal evidence shows, by the same author, whose Christian name was certainly William, and whose surname, according to a tradition which there is nothing to contradict, was Langland.
The A version was written about A.D. 1362; the B version about A.D. 1376; and the C version somewhat later, probably about A. D. 1380. To assign the date 1362 (as is often done) to any of the versions indiscriminately, is to introduce much unnecessary confusion.
The MSS. of the A class are the following: 1. The Vernon MS. in the Bodleian Library. From this, Text A of my edition was printed. It contains the prologue, ten complete passus, and part of the eleventh; being imperfect at the end. 2. MS. Harl. 875 (B. M.). One leaf is lost, and it is imperfect at the end. It terminates at 1. 144 of the eighth passus. It has been collated throughout.
3. MS. Trin. Coll. Cam. R. 3. 14. This exhibits a mixture of the earliest and the latest versions; it contains the prologue and eleven passus of Text A, supplemented by a portion of Text C. The early portion has been collated. It supplied the part of the eleventh Passus which was missing in the Vernon MS.
4. MS. No. 45 in University College, Oxford. It contains the prologue, the first eleven passus, and eighteen lines of a twelfth. Some of the contents is misplaced, and a portion is missing. Collated. 5. MS. Harl. 6041 (B. M.). This is, practically, an inferior duplicate of No. 2, exhibiting a like mixture of the A and C versions.
6. MS. Douce 323 (Oxford). Contains the prologue and first eleven passus. Partly collated. 7. MS. Ashmole 1468 (Oxford). Imperfect; but contains the prologue and first eleven passus, with omissions.
8. MS. in the Library of Lincoln's Inn. contains the prologue, seven passus, and the greater part of the eighth, but is imperfect at the end.
9. MS. Harl. 3954. This exhibits a mixture of the A and B versions, beginning like the latter, but ending like the former. It contains the prologue and eleven passus.
10. MS. Digby 145 (Oxford). Resembles MSS.
3 and 5.
11. MS. Rawl. Poet. 137 (Oxford). Of great importance, as it is the only complete copy of the early version. It contains the prologue and all the twelve passus. The first eighteen lines of this twelfth passus resemble those in No. 4. The remaining eighty-two lines are not known (by me at least) to exist elsewhere. The twelfth passus has been copied out and printed, but is not yet published.
The MSS. of the B class are the following: 1. Laud 581 (Oxford). Perfect. From this, Text B of my edition is being printed.
2. Trin. Coll. Cam. B. 15. 17. An excellent
MS., and the one printed at length by Mr.Wright.
3. Camb. Univ. Lib. Dd. 1. 17. This resembles of a more northern dialect. It is being collated. No. 1 very closely indeed, but exhibits many traces
4. Lansdowne 398 (B. M.); and Rawl. Poet. 38 (Oxford). The latter is a very good MS., but has lost about eight leaves at the beginning. Four of these leaves are still preserved in MS. Lansdowne 398. It is now being collated.
5. Oriel No. 79, Oxford. Nearly perfect, and exhibiting a good text. Collated throughout.
6. Camb. Univ. Lib. Ll. 4. 14. Nearly perfect, and followed by the unique copy of the alliterative poem on the deposition of Richard II. Practically, it is an inferior duplicate of No. 5.
7. One in the possession of Lord Ashburnham, and numbered 129. Said to be of the B type.
8. A second one in the possession of Lord
Ashburnham, and numbered 130. Of less value. Said to be of the B type. Formerly No. 129 in the collection of Dr. Adam Clarke.
9. One in the possession of II. Yates Thompson, Esq., of Liverpool.
10. One in Trinity College, Dublin. (D. 4. 12.) A late copy.
11. Bodley 814 (Oxford). An early copy, but (like the two following) exhibiting a mixture of texts. The prologue, passus 1, and part of passus 2, stand the same as in MSS. of the C type: the rest (with a few variations) is of the B type, and in many long passages follows MS. Laud 581 very closely. The latter portion is now being collated. 12. MS. Additional 10574 (B. M.), formerly No. 102 in the collection of Dr. Adam Clarke. The last leaf is missing, but the lost lines are supplied in Dr. Clarke's handwriting. This agrees so closely with No. 11 in date, handwriting, and spelling, that it can hardly be doubted that the one is a duplicate of the other, written by the same scribe at nearly the same time.
13. Cotton; Caligula A. xi. (B. M.) A later copy than the two preceding, but agreeing with them so minutely that it would seem to have been copied from one or other of them.
3. Camb. Univ. Lib. Dd. 3. 13. Imperfect.
The MSS. of the C class are the following:1. Cotton; Vespasian, B. xvi. (B. M.) Numerous extracts from this are given in the notes to Mr. Wright's edition of Piers Plowman.
2. A copy formerly called Heber 973, which belonged, before it came into Heber's possession, to Sir R. Smyth. It is now MS. Phillipps 8231. It was printed by Whitaker in A.D. 1813. If he printed it as incorrectly (which is probable) as he has done his extract from the Oriel MS., the number of serious errors in his edition can hardly be less than two or three thousand. Every page abounds with obvious mistakes.
6. Digby 102 (Oxford).
7. Trin. Coll. Dublin, D. 4. 1.
8. Digby 171 (Oxford).
9. Camb. Univ. Lib. Ff. 5. 35.
10. Corpus Christi College, Cambridge; No. 293. 11. Douce 104 (Oxford).
12. Bibl. Reg. 18 B. xvii. (B. M.) This also contains a copy of Pierce the Ploughman's Crede. To these should be added MSS. Trin. Coll. Cam. R. 3. 14, Harl. 6041, and Digby 145, already mentioned as containing a portion of the A text. See Nos. 3, 5, and 10, of the set first mentioned. To the above forty I must add a forty-first, of the contents of which I know nothing. It was formerly called Heber 974, afterwards Thorpe 1003, and at present is MS. Phillipps 9056. I have lately heard a rumour of another one, and I am far from feeling sure that this catalogue is exhaustive. To any one who can add to the list I shall be very grateful. WALTER W. SKEAT, 1, Cintra Terrace, Cambridge.
SIR THOMAS OVERBURY'S "WIFE":
14. Corpus Christi College, Oxford, No. 201. This exhibits so many variations from the rest that it would seem to have been written out from memory, and it can hardly be supposed to represent the genuine work of the author.
MR. COLLIER (Bibl. Cat. ii. 66 et seqq.) drew attention some time ago to the corrupt state of the text of Overbury's Wife in the printed copies, 15. A copy (numbered 8252) in the possession and to the existence of MSS. of the poem capable of of Sir Thos. Phillipps. This formerly belonged restoring the true readings. I have one now before successively to Sir H. Spelman, Dr. Taylor, Mr. me, and propose to exhibit the result of a careful Gough, and Heber. Formerly called Heber 1088. comparison between it and the printed copy of A specimen from it is printed at p. xxxiv. of 1616 (ninth impression augmented). It is to be Whitaker's preface to his edition of Piers Plow-regretted that the MS. begins imperfectly. Stanzas man, which sufficiently proves it to consist of a 1-10 are missing. The readings of the MS. are mixture of B and C texts, and to be of inferior in brackets. value. St. 14, 1. 1. 1. 3. St. 15, 1. 4. &c.
16. Camb. Univ. Lib. Gg. 4. 31. A faulty copy and of late date.
17. Caius College, Cambridge; No. 201. A transcript of Owen Rogers' edition of 1561.
The text printed by Crowley in 1550 agrees most nearly with No. 2.
St. 19, 1. 5.
1. 4. 1. 5. St. 25, 1. 2. 1. 3. 1. 6.
But Phisicke [Not phisicke].
The woorth of it is nothing that is seen,
The worke it selfe is nothinge that is seene,
[That still hir owne, not put on with the
Nor glasse [Not glass].
That's watcht by her owne conscience
St. 30, 1. 2. not Learned by much Art